For my first build I wanted to create a character that could combine stealth and magic in a unique, perhaps never before seen fashion. What I ended up with was an amazingly effective decoy and ambush specialist. I proudly present...

The Shadowcaster


                   Shadowcasters are powerful, spell casting rogues who use their dark magic to confound and confuse their enemies, leaving them vulnerable to vicious punishment. They employ a combination of stealth, conjurations, and illusions to create near perfect tactical diversions. What follows next are lethal strikes at the enemies’ flank, and a large pile of corpses. Enemies are cut down without so much as a chance to spot the real threat on the battlefield, while they waste their feeble attacks on decoys.

                   Any two-bit rogue can skulk about in the darkness and kill silently. The shadowcaster build takes stealth to the next level by allowing you to make yourself completely inconspicuous to your enemies while in active combat. You'll be able to stand, not sneak, stand just about anywhere, and openly attack just about anything on the battlefield without drawing any attention to yourself. For the rogue enthusiast wanting to enjoy deadly dual wielding swordplay, without the mess of head-on combat or the boredom of sneak attacking, this build is for you.



Khajiit or Altmer work best, though I have a personal preference for the khajiit. The khajiit get a fantastic boost to most stealth related skills from the start, and night eye is always useful for those dark places. The altmer get a fantastic boost to magicka and the ability to rapidly restore magicka, which you will be using a lot of.


Take the Thief Stone early on to level the Sneak skill tree. Once you have the Silence perk take the Shadow Stone. On those rare occasions you happen to mess up and are caught off guard, you'll want to disappear immediately and without delay. The shadow stone provides an immediate and instantaneous escape for those situations.


Sneak: Essential for staying hidden while moving about and setting up ambushes. . Also serves to make you very difficult to detect, standing or not, once the fighting breaks out

Enchantment:  Enables you to keep your magicka levels full by simply attacking. Prevents running out of magicka to summon decoys from ever becoming an issue

Conjuration: Used to create decoys and keep enemy attention diverted. 

Illusion: Used in conjunction with conjurations to divert enemy attention away from you and to ensure frenzy rune will work on just about anything

One-Handed: The main damage dealer. The dual wielding perks are vital. They will grant you both the speed and power to end enemies very quickly. 

Smithing: Steel smithing and arcane smithing are the only perks you will need here. The blades sword has strong base damage, and only requires steel smithing to improve, and arcane smithing will allow you to boost your nightingale armor a bit.

Destruction: Invested into solely for rune master, which will give frenzy rune a much needed range boost 


  • Armor - Nightingale Armor Set

             Armor: Stamina Boost, Frost Resistance
             Boots: Muffle
             Gloves: Fortify Lockpicking, Fortify One Handed
             Hood: Fortify Illusion

  • Although the quest to attain the Nightingale armor is a bit lengthy, you'll come out of it with a very high sneak level and a lot of coin. The Nightingale armor set is both aesthetically and functionality wise, perfect for a shadowcaster. The boost to illusion and one-handed damage are especially helpful.
  • Weapons - Blade's Sword and Daedric Dagger

            Sword: Absorb Health & Absorb Magicka                                   Dagger: Soul Trap & Absorb Magicka

  • The great thing about the blade's sword is how early in the game you can attain it, and the fact that it only requires steel smithing to upgrade. The daedric dagger can also be attained relatively early with no smithing skill required. Just take a trip to the Atronoch forge in the Midden and dump in the necessary ingredients. The enchantments on these weapons are designed to enable the shadowcaster to maintain her magicka and health pools and keep this cycle flowing with a fresh supply of souls with every kill.
  • Ring/Pendant - Fortify Conjuration & One-Handed Damage
  • Conjurations, particularly dremora lords and storm atronochs, cost a ton even with mastery perks. Fortify conjuration helps reduce the cost to very manageable levels. One-handed damage is           essential for heightening the shadowcaster's damage and ending battles quickly once the decoy bait is taken. 
  • Misc. Tools - Azura's Black Star
  • This nifty daedric artifact acts as an infinitely reusable grand soul gem. With this, you'll be able to easily maintain the charge levels on your weapons without needing to haul around tons of soul gems. 

Shouts & Spells:

  • Throw Voice: A staple in many rogue builds. Enables you to lure your hapless enemies to one location to be ambushed.

  • Become Ethereal: Useful for jumping from what would normally be fatal heights.
  • Slow Time: Used in a special combo explained below. Shadowcasters are able to slow their perception of time, allowing them to eviscerate their enemies with uncanny precision. 
  • Marked For Death: The perfect way to worsten the plight of your enemies once they've fallen for your ambush tactics.
  • Illusion Spells: Invisibility, Frenzy Rune
  • Conjuration Spells: Boneman, Mistman, Wrathman, Fire/Frost/Storm Atronachs, Dremora Lord

Stat Split & Perk Spread:


Cap magicka at 300. Perks and enchantments will ensure you wont need more than that. The priority is stamina. The cost of dual power strikes add up quickly. HP is kept even with magicka. You will rarely, if ever, take damage if this build’s strategy is executed properly.

Once you have 300 magicka, switch to a 0/1/2 stat split to continue boosting stamina and health.




Sneak, Enchanting and One Handed are the top priority. Illusion is very easy to level up with the muffle spell. Once you have access to frenzy rune and invisibility, mastering the Illusion tree becomes a cake walk. Destruction need only be trained up to level 40 for rune master, which is essential for getting the distance necessary to make frenzy rune usable.

Enchant your dagger with soul trap as soon as possible. You'll be looting plenty of gear off your slain enemies, and soul trap with ensure you have a plentiful supply of full gems to enchant them with. Selling enchanted gear is always a great way of making money early on as well. Soul trap, and a large supply of empty gems will allow you to max out the Enchanting tree in no time.

Try to limit casting spells in combat until you've learned silent casting. Followers make good practice decoys while you improve your Conjuration skills. Conjuration is easy enough to level early on by summoning something to fight along side them. Two diversions are always better than one. 

Special Combos


Requires:  Invisibility + Shadow Warrior


The Shadowcaster vanishes in a shroud of darkness causing all enemies to lose sight of their target. Enemies are forced to seek out more readily visible targets

Shadow warrior causes enemies to lose track of you and invisibility keeps it that way. This combo lets you disappear anywhere anytime, no running and hiding required. Combine this nifty trick with conjurations and you get.....


Requires: Any Summon(s) + Shadowcloak


The Shadowcaster vanishes in a shroud of darkness leaving up to two daedric minions behind to act as decoys. Enemies focused on decoys are left vulnerable.

With this combo you can not only vanish, but also shift your enemies' focus onto your summoned daedra. Enemies will not bother targeting you until those daedra die. This skill is fine for a small, close group, but enemies are often spread out. To counter this you can lead them into an....


Requires: Throw Voice Lvl 3 + Decoy + Marked for Death


A deadly trap is sprung that leaves all affected enemies distracted, weakened, and unable to respond to attacks at their flank. 

The perfect way to lead a small but scattered group to one location to be slaughtered all at once. Lure enemies to one spot, then summon your decoys next to them. The mob huddled around your decoys are lined up perfectly to get hit with Marked for Death. Once the ambush is set, enemies will find themselves in a near inescapable situation; Attacks coming from all sides, weakened armor and their lifeforce ebbing away.

Devious Harm

Requires: Slow Time + Dual Wield Power Strikes (Repeat until enemy is thoroughly eviscerated)


A poor unsuspecting target is singled out and mercilessly slaughtered with a series of                              deadly precision strikes. 

Enemies far enough from the fray have a small chance of turning their attention towards you once attacked. This combo allows you to counter this by making it impossible for them to retaliate or retreat fast enough.


Requires: Throw Voice Lvl 3 + Frenzy Rune + Summon(s) + Marked for Death


The Shadowcaster weaves a malicious spell that leaves all enemies confused and frenzied. Affected enemies will attack allies as well as decoys, lose armor every second, and are left highly vulnerable to attacks at their flank.

A more powerful version of Ambush which enables you to take on an overwhelming number of enemies by turning their numbers against them. Lure enemies to a single point with throw voice. Cast Frenzy Rune in the middle of the mob, then send out your decoys. A frenzied, confused, and weakened mob makes for a very easy target.



  • Your goal in battle is to contain your enemies by tricking them into huddling as close as possible to attack your decoys. This allows you to freely attack your enemies with deadly dual wield power strikes. Their attention will be so intensely focused on your decoys that standing right behind them attacking will not cause them to turn around.
  • Against a small group decoy works just fine. If they're scattered far away from each other, find a good hiding spot with a good vantage point and start setting up for an ambush, but if the enemy is very numerous (6+), use pandemonium instead.
  • When fighting a group consisting of mostly mages, try to use an atronach that matches the element they plan to use. If they're lacking back up elements, they'll be forced to resort to melee attacks
  • When up against mostly archers try to place your decoys as close to them as possible. This will often result in them switching to a melee weapon.
  • Go after anyone attacking from a long range first. They have a small chance of spotting you from their distant vantage point. If they turn to engage you, use Devious Harm to take them out. Alternatively you can cast frenzy rune on them. Enemies unaffected by frenzy will still attack any of their affected allies.
  • When up against dragons, use storm atronachs as your decoy. Be prepared to cast Marked for Death on the dragon and to attack it from behind when it lands.

Closing Remarks:

                Any compliments or constructive criticism is very much welcome. I really enjoyed creating this build and hope you enjoy it as well. If you enjoyed my build and would like to see more like this, be sure to 'like' it. You support means a lot. Thanks. 

Check out My Page for more Character Builds

Tags: Character Build Illusionist, Character Build Nightblade, Character Build Summoner, Curse Never Dying, Decoy, Rank:Legendary, Shadow

Views: 38647

Replies to This Discussion

Not bad, but you tagged it incorrectly. You need to put the tags in "inverted commas", eg

"Character Build Illusionist" "Character Build Nightblade" "Character Build Summoner"

Thanks for catching that. It's fixed. 

Great first build dude! I really like it. +1
Thank you for the approval guys. If anyone is wondering, I left out roleplay suggestions intentionally. I'm simply not that great with lore, so I didnt want to take away from the build by tacking on a half baked story that does not fit the lore.

Role play ought to be open and up to the player, in my opinion. I'll give you the perk spreads and the strategies, you can do as you please with them. I personally play my shadowcaster as a villain, whose made a name for herself by killing the emperor with the Dark Brotherhood. Its fun having a price on my head in every hold in Skyrim.
Yeah, I usually ask about roleplay for builds, but this one was obvious to me. Evil, necromancer type build who is hunted and feared (like you said, bounty in all holds).
I'd personally use the pic above the Strategy section as the main one, but otherwise I don't really have much criticism at all lol. Very solid, well-focused first build. Easy +1.

PS I know I've seen your avatar before. You play ME3 on 360?
Im a huge fan of ME3, but I play on the PS3. If youre also a member of the ME3 board I think youre a member of, you 'll probably guess who I am pretty easily. I use the same avatar there too.

As for the pic, its placement was intentional. I wanted to catch the reader's interest, then realize half way through reading that this is essentially a ninja build. The names of my special combos also play a role in that
Hmm I thought you were Saints, but I also thought he played on 360, so not sure any more. I haven't been on those boards in forever though since the overall douchiness in the air was stifling lol, so I could be mixing people up. That's def gotta be where I've seen it though!
I decided to add a little bit of roleplay into the build. The hunted and feared bit from Samjt has given me some inspiration. Not fair after all to leave the role play enthusiasts hanging.

I'll make the addition very soon.

This is your first build?

Wow, I would have never known man, this is good!!!

Ive been playing around with a similar concept (Coming soon) But with more conjuration based on my rp build, I like this!

Well put together and a great start as a builder!

+1 from me

That's a very nice build! +1

Nice to see the use of Nightingale Subterfuge. It's my favorite Nightingale power - it even works on dragons! 

I personally love it because, unlike frenzy spells it can't be resisted.


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