I've been doing some research about how to create a good "mage-assassin" build. I've found this post and this video, and they're pretty good, but I'm unclear on how to use Destruction spells in this type of build.

All the builds I've seen use the Impact perk, leading me to think that the use of Destruction spells in this build takes place after you get out of stealth, when mobs find you and you won't benefit from stealth bonus attacks.

Is this correct? Where else does Destruction fit in? What other perks should I be taking?


6 Answers 6


I'm playing a stealthy mage, and what I've found useful are the two enhancement perks to Frost and Shock spells, Deep Freeze and Disintegrate, particularly for the reason you identified: fixing problems after enemies detect you.

The biggest problem with Destruction is that all the spells are loud and flashy: they don't fit well with a perfect stealth scenario.

As James mentioned in the comments, you can use Illusion's Quiet Casting perk to mitigate the problem somewhat, but that requires a deep investment into Illusion and there's been some concern as to whether it's really effective: I personally didn't bother to invest in it.

So, barring that, it's almost a given someone will detect you: you might be okay against single targets, but in a group, or in broad daylight, you're going to have to deal with some amount of detection. The trick is to encapsulate the problem and avoid the people detecting you from alerting others.

With Deep Freeze, you can paralyze your opponent when its health is low, allowing you to finish them off. With Disintegrate, you can just completely destroy them once their health goes below 15%.

I haven't bothered with Impact, but it would have the same effect: stun the enemy long enough for you to do away with them before they can run.

For the same reasons, you want to avoid the enhancement perk to Fire spells, Intense Flames, which would cause your opponents to flee. Picking Master Destruction is probably not going to be worth it either, as Master-level Destruction spells are area-of-effect and not very stealthy.

In summary, if you're going to take Destruction, you'll probably want the following perks:

  • Novice Destruction
  • Apprentice Destruction
  • Adept Destruction
  • Expert Destruction (to get the mana savings on the most powerful single-target Destruction spells)
  • Either:
    • Augmented Frost 1 and 2 and Deep Freeze, or
    • Augmented Shock 1 and 2 and Distintegrate
  • Destruction Dual Casting (optional, to get Impact)
  • Impact (optional)
  • So, the idea is: First you try to kill stealthily with a dagger backstab, if it does not work, or if you get some people attention, you start using the Illusion spells to get their attention away from you and begin using destruction spells. Is that the playstyle of this build ? Jan 3, 2012 at 12:13
  • 2
    @MarcelloGrechiLins That's correct: it is nigh-impossible to use Destruction spells in a stealthy manner.
    – user3389
    Jan 3, 2012 at 12:14
  • What about runes? Does it worths using runes as a "pre-combat" thing ? My guess is that it does not worth it. Jan 3, 2012 at 12:19
  • 1
    @MarcelloGrechiLins Like the other Destruction spells, runes are great—if you kill everyone in the first hit. Otherwise, they'll alert everyone to your presence as soon as they go off. The benefit of a stealth build is one hit, one-kill, no witnesses: setting off mines (a la runes) is not that.
    – user3389
    Jan 3, 2012 at 12:23
  • Last Question @MarkTrapp , How should i start leveling ? Should i use Lover Stone and start playing this "Hibrid Style" since the very begining or i must focus in like Sneak and then go through destruction after that ? Jan 3, 2012 at 12:23

Well...this is interesting. Illusion is the trick to this build. I never bothered with things such as the points, as every character you make should have enchanting. 100% reduction for destruction and illusion are for my build. I don't grab impact, but I will grab Ice and Shock spells. Fire just has too much wow factor, whereas an icicle from the corner proves effective. The tricks being for 100% illusion reduction is that destruction spells, even with the illusion quiet casting, will still cause some semblance of an uproar. Which is where the 100% illusion reduction comes in. The use of Invisibility in a frequent fashion will yield great stealth results with no alarming of an opponent (to detected state, though clearly they may have some concerns about getting shivved out of nowhere.) All in all, there's not a need for dual casting in a build like this. I found that this build is just interesting and effective, and I personally find it more fun than say...the x30 dagger damage and overkill bow type stealth builds, because there's not exactly a simple way to upgrade your magic damage without enchants. Course, you could put points in mana and not build for 100% reduction in both schools, instead upping your damage output for your destruction spells. It's totally up to you. Personally, I like my simple stuffs. Also...I think people need to recall that Necklace, Ring, Helm, Armor are the four pieces you can enchant to 25% reduction. I'd like to hear of more build ideas, but so far I liked this one utilizing Invisibility best. Though it's definitely something that requires finesse.


The mod, Spell Sneak Attacks makes all Destruction projectile spells benefit from sneak attack multipliers, and items that modify sneak attacks, like the Dark Brotherhood's Shrouded Gloves.

It also adds a new "Silent casting" enchantment as an alternative to the Illusion perk (so you won't need to have a high Illusion skill just to get Silent Casting).


Destruction and illusion together with sneak can make a very interesting combo. Lay down runes near exits, sneak to the middle of the room while invisable, charge a master spell while invisable, and release, the enemies are weakened, start throwing fear and fury spells around to create more chaos, fleeing enemies are killed by runes and their enraged allies, and you slip away into the shadows... Slit the last guy's throat and you're done.


My main character started this way (a mage which used stealth in many occasions) and ended up as a full destruction mage, with very high stealth capabilities. After some levels (now 39 :-P ) I can tell that with decent Illusion level, stealth, invisibility and muffle it's a very sneaky character. As the previous poster mentioned the real issue is that destruction spells don't make finishing moves and are very loud.

Considering what I've written above, it's very good to sneak into a room full of enemies, conjure a good Draemora tank and cast a 100 Destruction Fire Storm or Blizzard... And I'm talking about 5 Falmers of equivalent level...all gone (alas the tank too). OTOH I'm playing a full assassin and in that case Destruction magic is pointless; perhaps only runes would be effective...

Hope this helps, Cheers


Personally, I like using the invisibility spell with my Destruction spells. For instance, sometimes I will apply invisibility to myself and charge a firestorm/blizzard. This way I can stealthily take a large chunk of health from single targets, or groups. Then you can just easily pick them off afterwards.

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