In previous Elder Scrolls games, I played a "dual class" mage (specializing in destruction and restoration, although I dabbled a bit in conjuration and illusion) and thief/assassin with bonuses to sneaking, light armor, and small weapons.

The leveling system in Oblivion kind of made this tricky though, since I often had to live with weak magic attributes if I went stealthy through a section of the game, thereby leveling many stealth and weapon skills, I'd end up weak as a mage.

This question seems to indicate that the two classes work sufficiently well together, but will I miss out on any good late game abilities due to this choice? Will monsters eat me for breakfast if I start the game with this intent? Are there any perks or stats that I should aim for early?

Further, are there any quests that I will be locked out of if I want to complete all of the Thief, Assassin, and Mage quest lines? (ie, people I have to kill for one that I need to talk to in the other, etc)

  • I seriously want to be a MagiSassin when I grow up.
    – spugsley
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 16:23
  • 11
    @spugsley, licensing fees for my patented MagiSassin method (TM)(R)(C) are affordable, just 5 easy payments of... pickpockets your wallet FIREBALL! HAHA!
    – agent86
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 16:40

6 Answers 6




Illusion synergises well with sneak as invisibility does not gaurantee not being detected. The CC spells are also very useful, allowing you to control situations that would otherwise overwhelm your squishiness. Silent casting will be vital, so get it asap.

Destruction will be tricky without deep magicka reserves until you start to enchant your own stuff to reduce cost. But Impact will work beautifully for single target assassinations. With silent casting, I believe you could also use runes for some fun, though on master they will quickly lose effectiveness. I would stick to one element to save perk points (perhaps shock as a useful rarely-resisted element), and don't bother with master level perk. This will be a useful tree against dragons.

Restoration is moderately useful with the respite perk, allowing you - in conjunction with light armour stamina regen bonus - to spam dual wield power attacks all day long. I would not worry about the perks above adapt. Get respite, the magicka regeneration perks, and possibly the "auto heal on zero death" perk that can help out if you are smacked around when dual-wielding.

Light armour is great, and will give you survivability that most mages don't have. It also takes up far fewer perks than Alteration.

I would skip conjuration perks completely, unless you wish to use bound weapons as a role play. You may ultimately wish to level it to 90 at some point in order to provide a non-smithing source of Daedric weapons (see smithing below), and if so don't rush on it until you need to level other skills up to level in general (high 30s onwards). Alteration has few uses in this build.

Enchanting will be useful, allowing you to supplement your lower magicka with regen and reduce costs. Don't bother with -100% cost on any given skill tree, as you will probably only use destruction as a filler against mobs and dragons but if you use it a lot against high level single targets then consider -100%, as the Expert level spells are expensive. I would aim for some +magicka regen (or +magicka - calculate which is more effective given your base magicka) as that can be used for all your magick trees, and you will be using them all not just 95% destruction like in pure mage. Possibly some reduce cost for illusion. All other slots for boosting your melee and resistances. Restoration is fine without reduced cost.

Smithing is great - but you may not feel like role playing it. Depends on your target equipment, but you could make do with steel smithing and the enchanted item smithing perks. You can get daedric weapons through the Mages guild, so don't feel obliged to perk up smithing.

Alchemy complements both skill sets well.

The Beginning

Don't spread yourself too thin to start off with. I would work on illusion, sneak and one-handed until you can comfortably stay hidden in shadows and get silent casting perk. From there you can start on destruction up to Impact, to have a useful fall-back of dual-casting firebolts (it can interrupt dragons and nasty bosses), and get restoration to apprentice level. I would then work on getting illusion to 75 and sneak till 60 for backstab bonuses. By this point you should be able to flit in and out backstabbing and skirmishing, using Invisibility as a means of getting back into cover.


You will not be locked out of any, and can complete Thieves guild, DB and Mages guild. They all work well together. Thieves guild and DB synergise well, and Mages guild unlocks some tasty equipment.

From here, you can choose. I would work on your sneaky sneaky and melee skills, as you will already have the main utility from your skill sets.

Use illusion to ensure you don't get hammered too much, and don't be afraid to go invis and hide. Your main advantages over a pure stealth character are your much better flexibility when detected - so use these advantages.

Hth =)

EDIT: stats: ymmv but I have had good sucess with balanced melee/mage with 2:1:1 health:stamina:magicka. I leave stamina at 150 (maybe 200 if going dual wield).

EDIT2: added link to find out if +magicka or +magicka regen, as per the paragraph on Enchanting. added link for Mage's guild and daedric weapons

  • 1
    I disagree with the "no use for Conjuration" comment. With Silent Casting and a decent Sneak skill, you can drop an endless series of atronachs into the middle of the enemy and/or raise their dead to fight against them. Very handy along with Illusion's frenzy effects if you prefer not to get your hands dirty (or if you just need to thin the ranks first). Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 16:50
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    @Dave Sherohman , yes, but I didn't think it fitted with the OP's play style. But yep, watching a Deadra Lord go apeshot from the shadows would be fun. Perk intensive though.
    – Asdafgh
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 16:56
  • @Cor_Blimey Brilliant Answer,really. I am going to this character,for sure! Thanks for all the help :) Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 20:26
  • It might be worth mentioning that "Bound Until Death" will temporarily block the civil war if you side with the Stormcloaks (specifically, it blocks the Battle for Solitude). This is resolved by just completing the quest.
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 23:14

One of my first playthroughs was with a mage assassin, its entirely feasible. The skills I focused on were:

  • Alteration: for ebony flesh and mage armor
  • Destruction: to lay down runes as traps
  • Sneak: for x15 backstabbiness (30x if you find the shrouded gloves, clothing version)
  • Illusion: for invisbility and silent casting

The only real difference between a mage assassin and my other archer assassin build really is the putting of the points from light armor into alteration and archery into destruction.

With ebonyflesh, the lord stone, and a shield, my armor rating was quite good and I had no problems surviving and killing. In fact, dragons were much easier since I could sling spells almost none stop while they're flying around with my 4 pieces of -25% destruction magic gear.

The only draw back is that as the game got later and later, my destruction damage started lagging more and more compared to my backstab damage since destruction magic doesn't scale up. Killing an ancient dragon with destruction magic takes a LONG time.

As for locking yourself out of quests. No, you will never assassinate anyone important (to my knowledge) that will disrupt any of the other quest lines. I've completed all 3 simultaneously with no problems.

  • I have had good experiences with destruction against dragons - taking them out quicker than archery or waiting for them to land. Sure, all changes once you unlock the shout that forces them to land, whereupon pure melee reigns supreme but until that point Destruction is fine and able to kill Elder dragons (I don't know about ancient as my mage is only lvl 40) in one or two passes (i.e. 30 secs) on master.
    – Asdafgh
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 14:49

I'm playing a character remarkably similar to the one outlined above by Cor Blimey.

I agree that Destruction is more useful than daggers in taking out dragons; they are hard targets to "assassinate". However, if you can spare the 3 perk points, I have found that dual-wielded maces (with the perks to ignore most of the dragon's armor) are even more effective yet than Destruction.

You're already going to have high 1-handed skill and perks in the tree; unless all of your perks are spoken for elsewhere, the ability to use maces as a "can opener" on durable targets who can laugh off your other attacks can be a handy addition to your toolset.

I'd guess that silently casting master Conjuration spells can kill just about anything - eventually. If like me, you prefer to get your hands dirty, I can confidently say that Destruction, maces, and dagger assassinations give you the all the tools you need to efficiently kill in any scenario. Illusion as mentioned above is a good panic button.


Even though this post has probably been completely forgotten by this point, I'd just like to say that it's completely doable. I'm currently working on a conjuration/illusion assassin. Typically at the start of combat, i silently kill an enemy (with a conjured sword), resurrect them (with silent casting) and let him/her fight anything that comes my way while i silently pick at the enemy with a bow. If things get a bit out of hand I'll resort to calm or fear as a back up plan. So essentially you have a conjured tank and assassin working together, making large scale battles pretty epic.


I'm playing a illusion-destructon-dagger-assassin ATM. It rocks. If you got good enaugh sneak lvl and some sneak enchants, you can just go fireball some1 withouth their notice. I love it. Here's a video where a guy plays destruction sneak thingy. Belive me its fun :)

Edit: Almost forgot, you dont even need armor, because with this build, you never get hit. So meny perks saved. Try it!


its easy. sneak. lots of sneak. get the dark brotherhood stuff, especially gloves. try to kill people with sneak attacks. if you dont, shoot them with fire. easy. forget the pansy illusion stuff, you dont need it

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