The Dark Brotherhood has been one of the most appealing guilds throughout the Elder Scrolls series. Having perfected the art of the sneaky, shady, backstabbing assassin in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the gleeful ruthlessness continued into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Watching the intended prey wandering about, completely oblivious to their own imminent demise is a pleasure in itself. Then there’s the sheer, evil bliss of hearing that ultra-satisfying clash sound, confirming another successful stealth attack.
And unlike in specialist stealth games like Hitman, Metal Gear Solid, and Assassin’s Creed, there’s no need to worry about vision cones, hearing ranges, and lighting. With the right equipment set-up, players can assassinate to their dark heart’s content in Skyrim without the need to fuss over nitpicky stealth mechanics.
11 Shrouded Gloves
These gloves are part of the Dark Brotherhood uniform and Shrouded Armor set and grant double damage on one-handed sneak attacks. This effect stacks with the Assassin’s Blade perk, resulting in a whopping x30 damage bonus.
The easiest way to acquire Shrouded Gloves is to join the Dark Brotherhood and pick up a free pair in the guild’s sanctuary. They can also be found during the Dark Brotherhood missions “The Cure For Madness”, “Where You Hang Your Enemy’s Head”, and “Destroy The Dark Brotherhood”.
10 Shrouded Boots
Moving quietly is vitally important for any assassin, and that’s exactly what the soft leather soles of the Shrouded Boots allow players to do. While the game states that they grant silent movement, this isn’t entirely true. They just allow players to move very, very quietly, even when not using stealth.
Shrouded Shoes also grant the exact same effect, but the armor bonus granted by the Shrouded Boots makes it worth carrying the extra weight. Like Shrouded Gloves, Shrouded Boots can be found in the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary and during various Dark Brotherhood missions.
9 Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow Of Petrifying
This heavy crossbow has the highest base damage of any ranged weapon in the game, with the added bonus of ignoring 50% of a target’s armor. In the unlikely event that the target is not obliterated by the first attack, it has a 25% chance to paralyze the target for 6 seconds, which should be plenty of time to finish them off before they blow the assassin’s cover.
The crossbow can be bought or crafted by speaking to Sorine Jurard after completing the Ancient Technology quests, and the Paralyze enchantment can be added using an Arcane Enchanter.
8 Poison Of Paralysis, Damage Health & Lingering Damage Health
Every weapon in Skyrim can be made deadlier by treating it with poison prior to an attack. Various ready-made poisons can be found throughout the game, but the most potent toxins have to be concocted at an alchemy lab.
This poison does two additional layers of damage and keeps the target still should they somehow survive the first strike. Find Mora Tapinella on fallen trees throughout Skyrim and Imp Stool in subterranean locations like Chillwind Depths and Tolvald’s Cave. Human Flesh is a rarer find, but it can be found on the bodies of Werewolf Savages and Falmer.
7 Mehrune’s Razor
This deadly blade had its own DLC in Oblivion, whereas in Skyrim it’s the subject of a side-quest in the main game (but which game is better?). It grants a small chance to instantly kill the target on each strike, which is obviously a huge boon for an assassin.
To begin the quest, level up to 20 or higher, then speak to Silus Vesuius inside his house/museum in Dawnstar. Once the weapon has been reassembled, the player must kill Silus in order to obtain it.
6 The Blade Of Woe
The Blade Of Woe is one of few Elder Scrolls weapons to have its own highly detailed backstory. It’s light and does heavy damage for a dagger, and its life-stealing enchantment is handy for assassins who don’t always maintain 100% stealth. But the main reason it ranks among the best assassin blades is its sinister, shadowy history.
It can either be earned by completing the Dark Brotherhood’s “Death Incarnate” quest or pickpocketed or looted from the Dark Brotherhood leader, Astrid.
5 Cicero’s Clothes
Cicero the jester can be a pretty annoying presence at the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, but underneath all the hysterical shrieking is a fascinating character. And if not fascinating, then at least useful. His clothes improve both merchant prices and one-handed attacks by 20%, the latter being very useful for assassins, the former providing an added bonus.
How the player acquires Cicero’s clothes depends on whether or not they kill him during “The Cure For Madness” mission. They can either be looted from his corpse or else lifted clean off his living body by a skilled pickpocket.
4 Ring Or Necklace Of Peerless Sneaking
None of Skyrim’s unique necklaces and rings are especially useful when conducting clandestine acts of murder, so an assassin’s best bet is to get hold of some powerful Soul Gems, brush up their Enchanting skill, and head straight to the nearest Arcane Enchanter.
An assassin can never be too sneaky so, in the absence of useful unique jewelry, a cold-blooded killer should buff out their finest gold and silver adornments with as much of a stealth boost as they can muster. Disenchanting unwanted magic items (rather than selling them) is a good way to improve enchanting fast.
3 Ring Or Necklace Of Peerless Illusion
Why sneak when invisibility is a possibility? While Middle-earth famously has The One Ring, which turns the wearer invisible the instant they put it on, Skyrim sadly does not. But it is possible to fashion a ring (or a necklace) that can boost Illusion magic, which in turn can grant temporary invisibility.
Illusion is by far the most useful school of magic for assassins, especially at high levels where the Invisibility spell is unlocked. Spells that stop enemies from attacking can also be good for assassins, as can the Quiet Casting perk, which allows the assassin to cast spells silently.
2 Aetherial Crown (With Serpent And Shadow Blessings)
While a shadowy hood or cowl would seem like the most obvious choice of headgear for an assassin, and not a big shiny crown, the fact that the Aetherial Crown allows the wearer to benefit from two Standing Stone blessings at once makes it way better than any of the Dark Brotherhood’s typical garb.
Craft the crown at the Aetherium Forge during the Dawnguard quest, “Lost To The Ages”. The two best blessings for assassins are bestowed by the Serpent Stone, which is located on an island East of the College of Winterhold, and the Shadow Stone, which is south of Riften, close to Nightingale Hall.
1 Dragonbone Bow Of Petrifying
A dragonbone bow might have slightly lower base attack damage than an enhanced dwarven crossbow, but it’s a little lighter and, when loaded with dragonbone arrows, packs a more devastating punch.
It’s possible to find a ready-made dragonbone bow on the corpse of a Keeper in the Soul Cairn during the Dawnguard questline, but only if the player is level 45 or over. Otherwise, they must be crafted from dragon bones and ebony, a feat that requires level 100 in smithing skill and the Dragon Armor perk. Then, all it needs is a Paralyze enchantment, and the ultimate assassination weapon is born.
The Elder Scrolls 6 has big shoes to fill and should include one big twist in the Dark Brotherhood questline to flip the formula.