The Archer: A marksman, adept at combat at great distances.
Able to take down most foes even before they have a chance to draw a weapon.
Born into the woodlands, the Bosmer has been using a bow since she was strong enough to draw one. Her father also taught her the value of the sword and the dagger, not only as the tools of a forester but as weapons, and her woodcraft, the ability to track and to see without being seen. But with the forests of her homeland becoming crowded and the thirst for adventure growing, she knew she would have to move on. Skyrim, sparsely populated, rife with game, and teeming with armies that will pay well for the service of a ranged assassin seemed like the most promising option. Yet she never expected to run into those armies quite so soon…
Race: I chose Bosmer (shocking, right?) for the focus on Archery, Blacksmith, and Light Armor. However, Khajiit would work just as well or better, with their bonus to One-Handed and boosted Unarmed attack power.
Stats: 0:3:2 in Magicka, Health, and Stamina. You’ll need that stamina for long range sniper shots and when you get up close and personal. Not to mention I tend to hoard items to sell or craft with, and having the extra stamina allows me to carry quite a bit more.
Standing Stone: Thief. This stone improves stealth associated skills 20% faster; Archery, Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak, and Speech.
Light Armor: At lower levels, I would use Hide, Fur, Studded, Leather, or Forsworn Armor for aesthetics, and the ability to improve them with hunted hides. When I got higher up, I swapped it out for a mix of Ancient Shrouded and Thieves’ Guild light armor. If you prefer it, obviously you can use whatever light armor you want, scaled or glass or whatever.
Bow: You are an absolute Marksman, devastating at all ranges, and your bow should reflect this. I went with the Nightingale bow. I planned to eventually invest in a Glass one, but you can grab the smithing perk up to Dragon if you are so inclined. I also always had Auriel’s Bow on hand after I got it. You can use crossbows easily with this build, but I just like the look of bows better. You can also carry multiple situational bows, like a crossbow for the road and a powerful bow for long range shots.
Sword and Dagger: Two tools that would be in any hunter’s belt, this combo is very fun. Power attacks are very fast and still have a good chance to stagger, as well as inflict bleeding damage. I preferred Chillrend and Blade of Woe, but go with what you prefer. Elven also works nicely.
Archery: Yah think? The Archer is of course a master with the bow, and I took the entire tree. Power Shot is probably the most critical perk, however, allowing you to do plenty of damage to a foe before they reach you. I took Ranger because I like my archer to perform like a shoot-and-scoot type, and wanted to get more focus on ranged assassination (one shot kills).
One Handed: Your other offensive skill, a lot of emphasis is placed on dual wielding and power attacks, as they are your only form of stagger, important when wearing light armor. Key perks are therefore Dual Flurry (and later Dual Savagery) and Savage Strike. Hack and Slash is also nice for the bleeding damage to go through armor, but not essential.
Light Armor: Though it levels somewhat slowly, perks in this should be taken as soon as possible to avoid getting dropped by guys with two-handers that don’t get staggered.
Sneak: I maxed this out for the same reason I acquired Ranger in Archery as soon as I could; I wanted to be invisible. I moved through dungeons in sneak and typically could one-shot kill most any monster I came across. I had very little difficulty and found the playstyle to be incredibly satisfying. The only time this backfired on me is when I had a companion that was not as stealthy as I.
Smithing: Replacing Oblivion’s Armorer skill, this allows you to vastly improve your weapons and armor, vital for an otherwise vulnerable character. It also helps that improved weapon damage is multiplied during sneak attacks, unlike Enchantments or poisons. I am advancing towards Dragon to ensure that all of my armor and bows are the best I can achieve.
Dark Brotherhood: Raised as a hunter, a woman in Windhelm showed you more money could be made hunting men than beasts. This gives you big boosts to your sneak attacks in the form of your Shrouded armor, as well as tons of sidequests to put gold in your pocket.
Thieves’ Guild: Another solid way to start boosting your stealthiness, this faction is all about the money. Plus, Nightingale Armor looks sweet, as does the regular guild armor, most of the enchantments fit well, and the Nightingale Bow is always nice. And of course there is plenty of shooting to do in the various quests.
Volkihar: The ultimate huntress, vampires are master predators, and offer you the gift of immortality and a very powerful alternate form, helpful at close range as this path is much more focused on Archery than melee combat, as well as giving magic abilities lacking otherwise. However, you do have several weaknesses, such as the lack of stat regeneration and the weakness to fire, and while you get a sneak boost and more powerful unarmed damage thanks to your venomous claws, bonuses to Illusion and some nice spells are a nice variety. Besides,Bloodcursed Arrows are always nice.
Quickdraw: Requires Dual Flurry, Weapons, Steady Hand (optional)
This serves to let you get in one extra shot on a charging enemy. As he closes, keep shooting even when he gets dangerously close. Use Steady Hand to get in a few extra shots if you have it. On the last shot, as soon as you release, step into his swing (they generally do a running power attack) and bow bash. As soon as this makes contact, swap to your sword and dagger and use a dual power attack. In this way you can change weapons without risk, and a lot of the time your power attack will activate a second stagger.
Arrow Storm: Requires Power Shot, Slow Time
A classic, but it sure does work. Excellent for trimming the fat in a boss battle. Find a spot with a clear view of all targets. Use your stealth shot on the boss, then immediately shout. Begin firing at the weaker enemies, focusing on the closer enemies first. The slowing effect should ensure every shot is a hit, and the 50% stagger should keep them off you. This almost invariably turns a room full of baddies into a mano a mano matchup against a weakened foe. This is also a brilliant way for dealing with a shoot-out with mages or other archers, as you can dodge incoming projectiles and even catch arrows.
Reprieve: Requires Ice Form or all three words of Unrelenting Force
Another basic one, but I used it all the time. This is especially effective at lower levels, with quicker shooting bows, and I loved using it on trolls. Use the general strategy of shooting your approaching foe as they close, but before they reach you, shout. The advantage of Ice Form is that it only requires one word to be effective, and thus can often be reused multiple times in a fight. However, if you use this, you then have to run away to find a new spot, reducing your effective shooting time. With Unrelenting Force, you have to use all three words, but the foe is blasted away from you, saving you time. In either case, fill them with arrows as they try to rise.
Thanks for reading. Happy Gaming!