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Character Build: The Morag Tong

Tags: #Character Build Nightblade  #Character Build Assassin  #Character Build Alchemist  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build 
  • August 3, 2012

    No other faction in the elder scrolls series excited me as much as the Morag Tong. These are the ancient assassins of Morrowind and saying they are badass is an understatement. It’s almost impossible to cram all of their colourful history into a build so I’ll try my best to keep it brief.

    The Morag Tong

    The origins of the Morag Tong are shrouded in myth. They rose to prominence during Morrowind’s bloody house wars during the 1st era.  Tong assassins were often hired by the great houses to ‘settle debates’ and they gained a sinister reputation as peerless killers.

    These assassins kill in the name of Mephala, the daedric prince of sex, murder and secret plots and some accounts state that it was through the daedra’s influence that the Morag Tong were originally founded.

    The Morag Tong’s legal writ system effectively gives them a license to kill, often resulting in a public execution as opposed to the traditional cloak and dagger approach. At one time, Tong activity was not just limited to Morrowind, and they would travel to other parts of Tamriel to pursue targets.


    The seal of the Morag Tong; likely stamped on every Writ of Honourable Execution.

    You don’t want your name on one of these…


    Eventually the Tong were victims of their own success and after the gruesome murder of Potentate Versidue-Shaie during the 2nd era the other nobles of Tamriel’s provinces outlawed the Morag Tong from fear of being targeted themselves. It was at this time that a splinter cell of the Morag Tong broke off, a death cult known today as The Dark Brotherhood.


    Race: Dunmer

    Stone: Lord

    Major Skills: Sneak, One Handed, Archery, Light Armor.

    Minor Skills: Illusion, Alchemy, Smithing, Two Handed.

    Weapons: Blades Sword, Dwarven Bow/Crossbow, The Ebony Blade.

    Armor: Linwe’s Armor.

    Essential Quests: Thieves Guild, Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, The Whispering Door.


    The Build

    Firstly, it’s important to know that the Morag Tong and the Dark Brotherhood are mortal enemies. During the events of The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, the Morag Tong sought to completely eliminate the Dark Brotherhood’s presence on Vvardenfell. If you’re looking for a build that suits the quest ‘Destroy the Dark Brotherhood’ look no further. This character is an assassin of assassins.

    The Morag Tong have all the usual traits of stealthy killers; sharp blades, ranged weaponry, poisons, and illusionary magic’s to misdirect their foes. I find that Illusion can often spoil the heart of assassin builds, so I have taken some steps to keep things balanced that will become evident in the perk spreads.


    Finding the “unseen and unlooked-for path” is one of the virtues sought in potential members of the Morag Tong. It’s their way of describing the acrobatic ability to infiltrate areas undetected.

    NPC’s in Skyrim don’t jump to my knowledge and I decided to utilise this subtle advantage by starting combat from a position of safety wherever possible. This is also reflected in my Archery perk choices where I have placed focus on the ‘sniper’ perks like eagle-eye & steady hand and sacrificed the mobility of the ranger perk.

    By looking at terrain and interiors differently, and using my sneak prowess, I was surprised how many times I found myself in a position that couldn’t be reached by opponents, forcing them into retreat while I took calm and calculated shots with my bow. 

    On top of sarcophagus, stone ledges, fireplaces, fallen masonry, all these are ‘hotspots’ for the Tong assassin. In Bleak Falls Barrow I quickly scaled up the giant spiders own egg sacks and disposed of it in comfort from high up on the wall.



    When it came to picking gear Dark Brotherhood armor was simply not an option, partly because of role play but mainly because I believe it’s one of the worst looking armor sets ever created by Bethesda. Instead I turned to the Thieves Guild and quickly obtained Linwe’s armor by completing special tasks in Windhelm. Linwe’s armor has very good enchantments for an assassin and on a Dunmer looks both sinister and incredibly cool. Ravyn Imyan, another Thieves Guild member, can be conversed with during your time at the guild, and as an ex member of the Morag Tong himself can give you some interesting information.

    Cross a Sith with a Jedi and you get a Morag Tong assassin.

    The Ebony Blade completes this build remarkably well. Without a grandmaster to issue writs the assassin will turn to Mephala for direct instruction. The Webspinner is a demanding mistress and requires at least ten specific kills in order to gain her favour and charge the blade. Serve a daedra of sex and betrayal? I think so!

    It is in its practical application that the Ebony Blade begins to really shine though. By level 20 the stealth and evasive skills of this character had begun to negatively impact the light armor skill. The Ebony Blade will allow the assassin to cut loose from the shadows and engage in open combat wielding a weapon that can easily sustain him. Instead of trying to deal with the blades strange perk complexities I used weakness to magicka poisons to boost damage and only spent perks in the one handed tree.

    Level 25 Perk Placement

    Stat Placement: Magicka 0 / Health 2 / Stamina 1

    The early levels are interesting, everything is spread so thin.

    Smithing is possibly the skill that stands out as being odd. I took dwarven smithing so that I could effectively craft myself a strong bow and with all the rumours of Dawnguard I knew that I would be getting my hands on a dwarven crossbow (my weapon of choice 10 years ago when playing Morrowind). Dwarven smithing is also a fast track to the Arcane Blacksmith perk which is essential for enhancing Linwe's armor. The Blades Sword was my one hander, it just felt right and its stats are impressive for a steel weapon.

    Illusion may be the other surprise. Illusion is amazing and one of my favorite skills but like I mentioned earlier I feel it can seriously ruin assassin builds. You're not a mage, you're an assassin, so act like one. I used Illusion for casting muffle only and will be following it upto expert rank so that I can cast invisibility occasionally as a 'super trick'.

    Level 50 Perk Placement

    The Ebony Blade is a fantastic leveling tool, from the moment you start using it you should see a huge surge of growth in light armor and the two handed skill. Perks earned from this fast leveling are obviously used to thicken out the builds other skills. It's an addictive weapon but this is tempered by the fact that it's base damage requires the armsman and fighting stance perks, forcing you to switch back to your Blades sword or dagger for stealth kills.

    Alchemy was geared heavily towards poisons but I always travelled with a handy set of buffing potions to increase my survivability. Potions of invisibility are useful for those moments when getting a sneak attack is essential or for when you see a strong defensive position to climb in a dungeon. Eventually invisibility can be cast inately and I didn't resent the two extra perks spent in illusion for such a strong ability.

    The sneak skill culminates with the amazing shadow warrior perk. This is yet another skill that Bethesda didn't describe properly in the game and some people are still baffled by.

    Shadow Warrior grants you 1 second of invisibility every time you press the sneak button.
    This means that even in the midst of battle you can blend sneak attacks into your normal combat rhythm and it doesn't matter how many opponents your fighting at once. It's one of the only perks in the game that can directly improve the interactivity of melee combat and requires actual player skill to use properly. It is not a 'special move', it's a 'duck n weave' playstyle that is incredibly fun to watch in 3rd person and opens up some brilliant combo's.

    Many thanks to TwistedOrthrus for the video!


  • August 15, 2012

    Personally, I love the look of DB armor (and hate Thieves' Guild armor). Each to his own, though. :\

  • September 24, 2012
    Great build, i love it. However, for more effective use of muffle and invisibility, you need quiet qasting from the illusion skill tree, otherwise, if you use one of these two spells when enemies are close you will be detected. Anyway, you have a like from me :)
  • September 24, 2012

    Hmmm, 'Need' is a strong word Reblazed. Muffle is actually a very quiet spell to begin with so you can nearly always use it without drawing attention to your character. I don't remember ever alerting an enemy due to a muffle-cast.

    Invisibility on the other hand is very noisy so you either have to pick your moment to cast it OR mix it into your combat rhythm. Invisibility can function the same as 'Shadow Warrior' letting you get sneak attacks right in the middle of combat.

    If you want to become a completely silent infiltrator then you're correct, quiet casting is an attractive perk.

    Thanks mate!

  • Member
    September 24, 2012

    I took a look at almost all your builds but so far I thnik that one is my favorite.

  • September 27, 2012

    I'm loving the build but i was wondering; what do you think of the poisoner prek in the pickpocket tree as another method of assasination? If the Morang Tong are as skilled as they claim surely they can sneak up to a target and poison them.

  • September 28, 2012

    I don't rate the poisoner perk mate, its good for role play though I guess and I have no doubt that a Morag Tong assassin would be capable of poisoning a mark silently. Feel free to work it into the build if you like.

  • Member
    September 29, 2012

    Been getting the skyrim itch again recently, and found this wonder of a build! I love it, it lets me enjoy stealth gameplay, while giving me an alternative to just mindless backstab/steathsnipe gameplay, and it lets me RP an assassin that can be a decent person without being a remorseful assassin (those are way too overdone). The build plays very well and I'm enjoying my current run (you and hearthfire finally made an alchemist out of me too!), keep up the good work!

  • October 8, 2012

    After I get all the "planned" perks, I probably will pick up quiet casting just to silence Whirlwind Sprint( which I'll use after ducking into Shadow Warrior).

  • Member
    October 8, 2012

    When you are done using your bow in stealth, do you use the One Handed weapons or the Ebony Blade?