Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Prowler

Tags: #Character Build Archer  #Character Build Thief  #Character Build Illusionist  #Race:Imperial  #Rank:Legendary 
  • Member
    December 23, 2013

    Check out Casey's Blog Of Wine and Gold following his Prowler's journey!

    Welcome to my fourth build! It’s been a while in the making, but I’m glad to finally have it posted. After having lots of issues with playthroughs and testing, as well as finding artwork, at long last this build is ready. I decided to approach a completely different angle when creating this build, and embraced skills I would have otherwise shunned. In fact, this is actually my favourite type of character; a calculating, methodical, intuitive thief. A true creature of the shadows, one who will not kill unless absolutely necessary. Despite my love of stealth builds, I haven’t made one yet, so I thought it was time for a change. Without further ado, I present:

    When you find your pockets empty and your coffers bare, this is the mark of a Prowler. Professional thieves whose origins are unknown, the Prowlers are masters at what they do.

    Using all manner of artefacts at their disposal, a Prowler is a force to be reckoned with, able to sneak past the highest security and steal treasures from right under the noses of its owners. Constantly on the run from the law for their remarkable thefts, Prowlers must operate on the edge of life, enjoying the thrills of a wanted man.

    When you need something acquired, or someone to be put out of the business the right way, then look no further than a Prowler...

    The Build

    Race: Imperial. Imperials make the best Prowlers because of their natural abilities, but other races to consider are Khajiit (for their affinity to stealth) and Wood Elves (for their boosts to Archery and Alchemy). I went with Imperials because Voice of the Emperor is a life saver when cornered, and works on the majority of enemies.

    Stone: Shadow. Another lifesaving ability, the Shadow Stone’s invisibility provides a great way to escape enemy detection. Combined with muffling effects from boots, perks or spells, you can essentially have 60 seconds of time to run around unseen and unheard.

    Shouts: None. Prowlers aren't heroes, and certainly aren't Dragonborn. But a key power would be the Shadowcloak of Nocturnal. This turns any dungeon into your personal plaything, able to mess with opponents minds for two minutes by stealing something then miraculously vanishing!

    Stats: 4:1:3. You should end up with 300:150:250, allowing you enough Magicka to use spells without much worry, enough Stamina to escape in case you are seen, and enough Health to survive a few stray arrows as you run off.

    Major Skills: Archery, Alteration, Alchemy, Sneak

    Minor Skills: Illusion, Pickpocket, Lockpicking

    Weapons: Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow, Zephyr

    Apparel: Apprentice Hood, Nightingale Armour, Boots and Gauntlets

    Passives: Prowler's Profit, Seeker of Shadows

    All Prowlers are natural archers, making use of various types of bows for different situations. Zephyr is ideal for distractions, shooting arrows fast enough to direct enemies wherever the Prowler needs them. Crossbows also come into the Prowler's arsenal, becoming your key weapon for fights and damage dealing. The straight arc of fire, as well as the various types of bolt, provides a very useful ranged offence. The enhanced versions of the crossbows are even better, doing more damage to armoured enemies.

    Alteration is the one of two spell schools actively used by a Prowler. Providing a host of useful utility spells from protective charms to ash incantations, Alteration always keeps them prepared. Flesh spells give added defence when seen, detect life/dead allows for scouting ahead and searching for enemies, water breathing for escaping underwater, and ash spells to incapacitate enemies for long periods of time. Not to mention telekinesis, enabling the Prowler to obtain valuables from a distance without alerting foes. Due to their affinity with illusionary spells, they can perform all of these feats silently.

    Prowess with picking locks and pockets also make Prowlers skilled thieves and infiltrators. Their expertise in these subtle arts grants them access to hidden areas and items which they otherwise would not be able to acquire. Proficiency in picking locks also lets a Prowler enter and escape areas with ease, letting them into locked areas filled with riches without leaving a trace. Natural affinity with valuables means they always know where to find additional gold and prized artefacts in locked chests. Using pickpocket, poisons can be injected into enemies, harming them while they remain unaware until it is too late.

    Sneak and Alchemy tie the whole build together, providing useful augmentations, buffs and poisons, as well as the ability to sneak silently through heavily guarded dungeons with ease.

    I took perks conservatively, choosing those that add a sort of realism and challenge to the build, forcing the player to use different tactics in different situations. Not taking perks like Steady Hand, Quick Shot or Deadly Aim stops this guy from being an assassin, instead letting you rely on other areas instead of just Sneak/Archery. Only one rank in Stealth suffices, so that Sneak is still usable but not overpowered. Originally I wasn’t planning on going up to Silent Roll, but since traps can be activated with arrows, this doesn’t nullify a useful tactic. Up to Treasure Hunter in Lockpicking is enough, providing a good source of income to buy gems and ingredients. Poisoned and Extra Pockets are both key perks in Pickpocket, letting you silently harm enemies with poisons and carry more loot.

    Alchemy may seem under perked for a major skill, but my potions and poisons were still powerful enough at all levels. Not taking Concentrated Poison was a bit weird for me, as I usually use weapons when applying poisons. Instead, I decided to rely almost solely on pickpocketing them onto foes, reserving poisons for only when I needed them most. The only exceptions were Paralysis poisons, as those were used most for escapes rather than infiltrations. However, they can be a good fail safe when pickpocketing tough opponents. Only the rank perks are useful as well as Stability in Alteration, so that all the useful spells can be cast without too much effort, and last longer. Illusion is perked to make use of the lower spells, which are still incredibly powerful with the correct augmentations. I focused on fear and calm spells, to keep stray enemies off my back.


    A Prowler makes use of a wide arsenal of equipment. Firstly is the armour. This outfit checks both the aesthetic and usefulness boxes, providing a great look for a thief and great bonuses to boot. The hood adds 40 points of Magicka, leaving you with a total of 340, easily enough to cast spells for any situation. The armour, boots and gauntlets are leveled (, so pick them up depending upon when you want to stop playing. Good jewellery to aim for would be necklaces and rings that fortify Sneak, Alteration or Illusion.

    For weapons, look no further than the Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow. Doing more damage than a Dragonbone Bow, this is your number one weapon. Able to shoot a variety of bolts, ignore 50% of armour and instantly ready to fire as soon as it's drawn, it is the perfect ranged attack for a Prowler. I also picked up Zephyr, as the 30% faster draw enchant is very useful, letting you shoot multiple enemies faster than the crossbow. If you want to, you could also pick up a melee weapon, in case you are cornered. The Nightingale Sword and Chillrend are both good bets, debilitating enemies and providing useful effects for getaways. I preferred the hardcore approach though, using no other weapons except my crossbow and bow, relying on my own skill and resources to escape rather than fight my way out.


    For once, I'm not going to give you a whole list of potions and poisons to use. No two Prowlers are the same, and they all make use of different mixtures. Some favour potions of sneak and invisibility, allowing them to effortlessly bypass unaware foes. Others choose to use poisons more, slowly killing enemies, weakening them, paralyzing them. So this time I leave the choice of potions up to you. If you have read any of my previous builds, hopefully you'll have picked up on some of the more useful and satisfying effects of potions and poisons, and you will feel even better finding out the best brews for yourself. Doing this you actually become a Prowler, not a blue print, and use your own instinct and initiative.

    Something I did make do of which I hadn't before is something I like to call "Specialized Potions". This is where I planned ahead more, creating various potions depending upon the situation I was about to face. I limited myself to about ten draughts of different effects. If I was going into a dungeon of mages, I'd choose potions of resist magic, and poisons to drain their magic and kill them quickly. Against warriors, I would make several poisons of slow, ravage stamina and damage stamina, to keep them away from me and fatigued. Paralysis poisons are always useful as well, and I always kept at least one spare. You really get into the mindset of a Prowler this way, and you come to depend on the poisons you have; wasting one can be life-threatening.


    Manipulation – Altering reality

    Your greatest strength is your skill at subterfuge and infiltration. Alteration is brilliant in conjunction with these objectives, and practically every spell has a purpose in this build. Flesh spells provide defence in case you’re spotted, and need to escape enemy attacks. With Ebonyflesh your AR is almost doubled, letting you take a couple more hits or stray arrows as you run. Flesh spells will hopefully be the least used however, if you play this build right. Speaking of escapes, Waterbreathing is a great utility. If you are spotted near a large body of water, cast and dive deep until detection wears off.

    Now for creating distractions and infiltrations. Detect Life/Dead is an obvious choice, revealing enemy locations and movement patterns, letting you scout out areas secretly. A criminally underrated spell is Magelight, which can be cast at an object or surface and draws all nearby enemies towards it, leaving pathways and entrances unguarded. This easily excels shooting an arrow at a wall, since enemies cannot locate where the spell was cast from due to Quiet Casting. Ash Shells immobilize enemies, bringing them out of the fight for long periods of time, unable to attack you, while Ash Runes can be cast at choke points to stop enemies from catching you during an escape. Finally, Paralysis can be used on a tough opponent who simply has to die, but is too dangerous to kill while active and moving.

    Gadgets – Spider Scrolls, Poisons and more

    Now I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I always assumed spider scrolls to be boring, useless, and time consuming. How wrong I was. While not particularly helpful to a heavy hitting, tanky warrior, they are certainly useful to a thief. The exploding spiders supply a way of causing damage to multiple enemies at range while undetected, and can be further enhanced with weakness poisons. Additionally, they draw enemies together, although alerting them. Cloak spiders are quite hardy and strong in groups; a couple grants you a good distraction in case you are spotted, giving you enough time to escape.

    Now onto the best variants: Mind Control and Oil spiders. Mind Control spiders are incredibly effective in bringing enemies into groups and weakening their numbers, and can be cast at great range. Oil spiders work well when cornered, and can be deadly in conjunction with exploding bolts of fire and weakness to fire poisons. Speaking of poisons and potions, be sure to use them in abundance. A Ravage Magicka poison planted on a powerful mage can quickly silence them, rendering them harmless at range. Paralysis poisons are vital when your Magicka is running low, and you cannot expend any on Ash spells. Be sure to use your potions to augment your skills further as well. Need an enemy kept out of action for longer? Consume a Fortify Alteration potion. Need to pickpocket a valuable or heavy item? Drink a Fortify Pickpocket potion. You get the idea. Make sure you keep hold of scrolls as well, especially the master level ones. They can save you from death, providing powerful buffs or severely damaging enemies.

    Finally, your Crossbow is your deadliest gadget. With its variety of explosive bolts, it synergizes well with both poisons and spider scrolls. Using poisons of weakness to fire/frost/shock with the corresponding spider is deadly with exploding bolts.

    Larceny – The subtle arts

    What would a thief be without stealth skills? Larceny becomes child’s play because of your aptitude at picking locks and pockets, and sneak allows you to remain unseen while doing so. While not as useful in practical situations, your skills at theft will net you large amounts of money which can be repurposed elsewhere. However, do not mistake this for your skills being useless in combat. Pickpocket can be used to steal keys to open otherwise impregnable doors without killing the owner, as well as planting deadly poisons on unaware opponents, harming them silently.

    As you may have worked out already, stealth and sneaking plays a key role in this build. By remaining silent your enemies are completely unaware of you, unable to apprehend you in your exploits. Entire dungeons can be cleared with sneak alone, making this perhaps your most useful skill. By remaining in shadows you can bypass dangerous foes and traps which otherwise may have been the death of you. Illusion is brilliant in conjunction with sneak as well, letting you cast all spells silently (including spider scrolls!). If you are ever spotted by foes, you can always use calm spells to keep them pacified and powerless, or fear spells to clear areas and position opponents.


    I wasn’t really sure about putting a roleplay section in. It was undoubtedly going to be short, as there really isn’t much to think about. However, I still came up with several options:

    Wanted Man:

    You could play your Prowler as a master criminal, always on the run from the law, having to use your wits to enter cities and do dealings. Make sure in all holds you have a bounty of 100 0 or more, so that guards will constantly be on the lookout for you. Trading with the Khajiit Caravans is your best bet, since they are outcasts like yourself. I chose a remote and empty location to be made as a base, where I would store my pilfered treasure.


    Or you could play your Prowler as a ghost. Silent and innocent in front of crowds, but still a master thief underneath. Keep your bounties low or have none at all, to keep up appearances. Become thane and buy a house to keep your stolen goods, but make sure they’re hidden just in case. Wear normal outfits suiting your station, and make sure you spend enough time out and about in your chosen city. Depending on your amount of money and preferences, houses like Proudspire Manor are perfect for the rich noble, or Breezehome is adequate for a simple citizen.

    For questlines, few actually suit the Prowler. I prefered to stick to simple side quests or just testing my skill in random dungeons. These, however, are key:

    Thieves Guild- The best and most fitting questline for the Prowler. The greatest way to excercise your thieving skills, and gain your armour set in the process.

    No Stone Unturned - A perfect quest for the Prowler, taking you across Skyrim in the search for valuables and treasure. Also one of the most rewarding quests, granting you a brilliant passive as a result of your hard work.

    Ancient Technology - These quests are required for your crossbow and variety of bolts. I personally didn't continue with the Dawnguard quests, but that is your choice.


    Dexterity – Your failsafe when pickpocketing a tough opponent. Pickpocket can be a dangerous game, and this move provides an easy method of diverting the danger.  Half of the time this move will not be necessary, but when it does paralyse a foe who would've caught you, you'll count yourself incredibly lucky.

    When pickpocketing a dangerous enemy, especially one who can kill in one hit, a Prowler must have a way of safeguarding their detection from arising. Planting a paralysis poison on an unaware opponent before stealing their valuables will allow you some time to flee if they do spot you. An advantage of using the poison over a spell is that your victim is incapacitated instantly, and will not be able to alert others nearby, whereas a spell would require charging, which would already be too long when a great brute is charging you.

    Requires: Paralysis Poison, Poisoned


    Snare – Sneaking past enemies can sometimes be impossible, rendering sneak useless. One thing that always annoyed me was that enemies would detect you despite all precautions, and reveal your position. A Prowler can work their way around this, turning a disadvantage into an advantage.

    Where you lay the Ash Rune to set up the trap is key. Planting it at a choke point or narrow corridor is the best bet, as it will take out all the opponents because they are bunched together. Then pop an invisibility potion and sneak over towards a good vantage point. Now you could just sneak around the room, completely invisible, stealing everything. But where’s the fun in that? This way, you can steal anything with no enemies watching, and not have to go through loads of potions. Cast Magelight near your rune to draw enemies towards it. When they activate it, all of them in the vicinity will be frozen and unable to stop you from stealing anything that isn’t nailed down!

    Requires: Ash Rune, Quiet Casting, Invisibility Potion, Magelight, Stability


    Outburst – When stealth is no longer an option, a Prowler always has other methods. Against a swarm of unaware enemies, a skilled Prowler will utilize one of their deadliest gadgets: an Oil Spider.

    After scouting out a room with multiple enemies, the Prowler conjures an Oil Spider. Due to the creature’s small size, it isn’t easily visible, so a Magelight spell should be cast upon it. Now that the spider is ready, position the spider between yourself and the entrance to the guarded room. Cast fear on it, causing the spider to run into the room, excreting flammable oil. Once the spider has drawn the attention of the enemies, ignite it with an exploding fire bolt, decimating enemies with deadly explosions. Unfortunately, the spider levels with you, so perks in illusion are required to keep this move viable.

    Requires: Oil Spider, Magelight, Fear, Illusion Dual Casting, Aspect of Terror, Quiet Casting


    • Albino Spider locations: Fahlbtharz, Fort Frostmoth, Highpoint Tower, Kolbjorn Barrow, and White Ridge Barrow. That only leaves the respawning pod at the Shrine of Kynareth. I found I didn’t need any more, but you can always dupe them.
    • There is safe storage in White Ridge Barrow! There is a back room with beds, satchel and sacks, under the spider imbuing chamber. I stored all the ingredients for making spiders in the knapsack in the chamber, so that I didn’t to lug around 100 pounds worth of pods and jewels besides.
    • A great dungeon for practicing tactics is Broken Oar Grotto. It has everything, from water to traps. It’s brilliant for planning maneuvers and planning attacks. I trained my skills and gained experience there, and it really gives you an edge in future dungeons. I recommend using it once you have Adept Alteration for Waterbreathing and Detect Life.


    Vazgen for his wonderful tips and screenshots

    Phil for his help and advice

    Ben C’s Pickpocketing Strategy Guide for some awesome info on pickpocket and levelling

    Casey for his Of Wine and Gold blog


  • Member
    December 23, 2013
    You mean the notes paragraph? If so I'll move it, I never really was sure where to put it. Thanks for the tips!
  • Member
    December 23, 2013

    Great job! Everything about this is awesome. Cool aesthetic, fun sneaky gameplay, and great presentation. Please do fix "without further adieu" to "without further ado".

    Love the build.

  • Member
    December 23, 2013
    Ok, done. Thanks Henson!
  • Member
    December 23, 2013

    The intro paragraph helped me a bit. I like when builders actually talk to the reader to set them up.

    And yeah, he does look like he wants to grapple lol.

  • Member
    December 23, 2013
    Ah, that introduction paragraph. I'll definitely make that bigger, it looked much bigger in the editor. And yeah, he does doesn't he? Budding undertaker right here lol.
  • Member
    December 23, 2013

    Awesomness! I was actually practicing the Dexterity move recently for my character, nice to see you caught up on that too  The presentation is great! The gameplay is my favorite playstyle (as you know) and you described it beautifully - not an easy feat for stealth! I'd make the italic text a little bigger, other than that - perfection! I'm surprised Phil helped with this, considering his hatred of stealth 

  • Member
    December 23, 2013

    Good to hear im not the only one who doesnt kill anyone or disturb anyone in Broken Oar Grotto. In fact i did Goldenglow and the Dwemer museum without entering combat too. Great build by the way Raidriar i've never thought of using magelight as a distraction tool, i can put away my bow on my alteration character now as this tactic fits much better

  • Member
    December 23, 2013
    Well, Phil helped give advice on whether to keep this as a thief playstyle or turn it into a guerilla fighter, but thankfully I kept it like this. Yeah, Dexterity was a gem for me, I was always using it on tough enemies. I even kept some reserve paralysis poisons that also restored health for that purpose, because of the large amounts of imp stools and swamp fungal pods I was collecting.
  • Member
    December 23, 2013

    Another great build Raidriar. The Snare and Outburst moves are amazing, it's rare to see special moves that unique.