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The Bounty Hunter: A Skyrim Build

The Practical Adventurer

The Bounty Hunter is a combat/stealth build with a focus on making adventuring profitable. The idea behind this build is that of a warrior who's not just in it for the quick paycheck, but to keep the quick paychecks coming, and cash in on all the loot he or she finds.

The Bounty Hunter lives from job to job, frequenting taverns, likely not spending too much on lodging, as what tavern in Skyrim doesn't have a bed available for a couple septims? They're adaptable, able to use any kind of weapon they find but probably coming at problems with a signature weapon or weapon style. As with any build, you can do as you like, but we'll be looking at a version of this build with little to no magic...which just about kills me to do, but it's a more than viable build.

So first things first--character creation. What race should we choose?

I recommend Imperial.

Armor plated skirts are the height of combat fashion in the Empire.

Armor plated skirts are the height of combat fashion in the Empire.

Why Imperial?

1. Imperial Luck. This will nickel-and-dime you into wealth faster than you might expect, if you really scrounge for gold.
2. Voice of the Emperor. If you're in a jam and you've got a hundred soldiers on your back, this will buy you precious time.
3. Our bounty hunter is all about maximizing profit, for which you need a stable, wealthy government--so they probably support the Empire. Seeing them stay in power would ensure high bounties and less welchers--and an Empire always has lots of enemies.

Other races you could use are...

  • Nord. Their Battle Cry ability and combat bonuses make them an excellent second choice, and their resistance to cold isn't a bad bonus either.
  • Orismer. The Orc's Berserker Rage ability lets them carve up enemies with ease, and they have a decently balanced bonus to various weapon styles--and if trading with the Orc strongholds is something that appeals to you, you're automatically Blood-Kin with all of them, meaning you have early access to the weapons and armor of the Orcs.
  • Redguard. Resistance to poison is nothing to sneeze at, but it's their Adrenaline Rush ability I really love, particularly if you need to get somewhere fast and have no horse, or if you're up against a tough foe and your stamina's getting low. They also have decent combat bonus balance.
  • Khajiit, Argonian and Bosmer make excellent stealth builds, which is certainly an option for the Bounty Hunter; a Dunmer might rely more on magic, if that's what you're going for, while still putting an emphasis on stealth.


Naturally you can vary the stats as you like, and focus on magic if you prefer, but we're assuming for this build that our Bounty Hunter is versatile in physical weapons, and favors one- and two-handed weapons as well as bows.


Enchanting (If you choose to enchant gear)


Light Armor

Restoration (Again, if you choose to enchant, it boosts enchantment effects)



Illusion (If you picked Nord or Imperial, it should increase the effectiveness of your Greater Power)

Heavy Armor



Speech (This is an important one.)


Now the part that makes the build interesting: Roleplaying.


What I did with my Bounty Hunter

Marcus was an Imperial Bounty Hunter who got caught with a pack of Nord rebels in an attempt to infiltrate their ranks and assassinate their leader, somethin'-somethin' Stormrobe. Cloak? Stormcloak.

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Once freed, Marcus always checked at the local tavern for bounty letters. If he found himself in a hold, he would ask the Jarl's steward personally. The higher you go, the higher the bounty, right?

Out on a mission, Marcus compulsively searched every body he could for gold, every barrel, every chest. If he found something with a high enough value, he collected it for later sale. As such, I was quick to upgrade his stamina, a lot, and the few enchantments I laid on his equipment was for equip load.

Marcus frequently ran across Stormcloaks and bandits in the wild--while he didn't like killing without being paid for it, it was good practice, and one less pack of troublemaking rabble in Skyrim--and looting the bodies and camps was usually profitable enough. He bought the Breezehome residence in Whiterun, only upgrading its bedroom and buying an alchemy lab until such time as he had more money to spare. With a chest to store extraneous gear and a reliable place to brew poison and potions, he was in business. Marcus found "love" with Ysolda of Whiterun, who taught him more about getting a good deal, and opened quite a lucrative shop shortly after their marriage.

In the Civil War, he sided with the Empire, primarily to maintain the status quo that kept him in gold. In the Dawnguard questline he sided with the Dawnguard, since vampires were bad for business. He didn't bother with that Miraak fellow.

How you could handle your Bounty Hunter...

  • An Altmer who uses illusion and conjuration spells to turn bandits on each other and reap the blood money without touching the blood
  • A Bosmer who kills almost exclusively from a distance.
  • A former Alik'r who specializes in twin scimitars (You may have to cut a few Redguards up in the "My Time Of Need" quest.)
  • A Child of Namira who uses this profession as a means of getting bodies to eat.

Roll in the septims. Tamriel is yours.


Go for it.

In the end, the Bounty Hunter build is very versatile, seeing that roleplaying makes it a lot more than stat-building does. Just remember, gold is paramount, long live the Empire, and keep up to date on those bounty letters!

© 2018 Nathan Nichols

Tell me about your build! I'm always eager to hear new ideas.

Katie Gillispie from Ohio on January 06, 2020:

Very well written! I have a love for Skyrim, myself. Love this article.

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