Oh, what a thief’s life is like!
We can have a life in Skyrim that we can’t really have in real life without worrying about going to jail. And even join a group of people who believe the same things we do.
Playing as a thief has to be one of the most fun ways to play the game, since it lets you make unique builds and a character that lets you take role-playing to the next level.
Even if all of this sounds great, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be a thief. In fact, it’s the other way around!
You have to make some big decisions, like who to rob and what to wear so you look good while you do it.
That’s why I made this list, which ranks some of the best equipment you can use as a thief.
Most of these pieces of equipment are also on my list of the best pieces for assassins, but since most playthroughs are similar, assassin equipment is often useful for thieves as well.
- 15. Blackguard’s Gloves
- 14. Blackguard’s Boots
- 13. Chillrend
- 12. Ring Of Peerless Alteration
- 11. Nightingale Blade
- 10. Thieves Guild Armor
- 9. Ebony Mail
- 8. Dragonscale Armor Set
- 7. Krosis Dragon Priest Mask
- 6. Shrouded Armor
- 5. Ancient Shrouded Armor
- 4. Nightingale Set
- 3. Cicero’s Hat
- 2. Blade of Woe
- 1. Skeleton Key
15. Blackguard’s Gloves
These gloves grant the wearer the highest possible Lockpicking bonus, making them an essential accessory for any would-be burglar. To get them, the player must first join the Thieves Guild in Riften, complete the “Taking Care Of Business” quest, receive the Thieves Guild armor, and talk to both Delvin and Vex.
Then the Dragonborn must travel to Solstheim, speak to Glover Mallory (the Raven Rock blacksmith), and complete his quest, “Paid in Full”. He’ll then award the player with the key to his basement, where the entire Blackguard’s armor set can be found.
14. Blackguard’s Boots
Like the rest of the Blackguard’s armor set, these boots are just as good as the Guild Master’s equivalent (if not better), but the player can get them without completing the entire Thieves Guild questline first. While wearing these, the player will be a much more effective pickpocket.
All the budding thief needs to do is take a quick detour to Solstheim, following the same steps above to gain access to Glover Mallory’s basement.
This legendary one-handed sword inflicts heavy ice damage and has a chance to paralyze its target. It’s very useful for thieves less interested in winning a battle and more interested in slowing or stopping a foe, so as to be able to escape.
Chillrend is inside a display case at the end of the tunnels beneath Riftweald Manor in Riften. This area is accessed during the Thieves Guild quest “The Pursuit” during the Thieves’ Guild questline. The sword is leveled, so to get the greatest benefit, the player should wait until they are level 46 before acquiring it.
12. Ring Of Peerless Alteration
Alteration magic can be extremely useful for thieves, but none of the unique items associated with thieves’ quests provide any boosts to it. There are also no unique rings well suited to a life of crime, so it makes sense for a thief to craft their own ring of alteration (if they can’t steal one).
For mages, Alteration is most useful for providing protection in the absence of armor. However, thieves will get more use out of the spells which detect creatures and people through walls, and those that cause paralysis. Telekinesis is also useful for a thief, allowing the player to take items that would otherwise be out of reach.
11. Nightingale Blade
This sword absorbs 25 points of both Health and Stamina on every strike. Thought this won’t directly help a thief to steal anything, but it will certainly help them to win a fight on those occasions where thievery turns to thuggery.
The blade is awarded to the player for completing the “Hard Answers” quest, which is part of the main Thieves Guild questline. It’s also the quest before “The Pursuit”, during which Chillrend, an equally useful sword, is found. The player will then either have a tough choice to make between the two, or can take up dual-wielding.
10. Thieves Guild Armor
How To Get: found after completing the two first missions of the Thieves Guild. You don’t need to fight in any of these quests, which means you can get it very early in the game!
This fantastic set of leather armor comes enchanted with a few spells that make the life of a thief much easier, starting with extra carrying capacity.
It’s also the official outfit of the Thieves Guild, so role-players will be happy dressing up with this beautiful set of leather armor.
The set also has a ton of pockets, which does seem like something that a thief would appreciate having.
9. Ebony Mail
How To Get: Complete Boethiah’s Calling and slay the Champion of Boethiah if you wish to get your hands on the Ebony Mail. It can be looted from the man’s corpse.
The Ebony Mail is a unique set of armor, which is also the artifact of the Daedric Prince himself.
It’s a piece of equipment that might be better suited for an assassin, but the fact that it lets you move quietly is enough for me to recommend it.
Besides, if things go south during one of your missions, you can always count on the Ebony Mail to deal poison damage to your victims.
Don’t get caught by the guards – kill any witnesses to your thieving crimes!
8. Dragonscale Armor Set
How To Get: Reach level 50 and loot as many chests and boxes as you can find. The Dragonscale Armor has a very low spawn rate
Arguably the best set of light armor in the game, the Dragonscale set can only be worn after you reach a high level.
Or by being lucky enough to get it by parts before then.
It doesn’t come enchanted, but it does provide you with very good defending stats and the ability for you to enchant it yourself.
Again, this might be a set of armor better suited for an assassin. But it’s one that a thief can rely on if things go badly for you.
7. Krosis Dragon Priest Mask
How To Get: Kill Krosis at the Shearpoint lair and loot the mask from his body
This Dragon Priest mask fortifies your lockpicking skills by 20, making it one of the most reliable pieces of equipment that a thief could wear.
You’ll also look like a Maori carving, which is an added aesthetic bonus.
Seriously a bad ass look, no?
6. Shrouded Armor
How To Get: Shrouded Armor can be found by joining the Dark Brotherhood. You will be given a set upon visiting the Sanctuary for the first time
Shrouded Armor, or specifically the Shrouded Boots, are a thief & assassin’s best friend.
They allow you to move without making any noise, which can obviously help you rob enemies without them even noticing.
However, the set itself is meant to be used by assassins. So the rest of the bonuses will serve a better purpose to help a killer rather than a thief.
5. Ancient Shrouded Armor
How To Get: Complete the “Locate the Assassin of Old” to get the entire set of Ancient Shrouded Armor
The Ancient Shrouded Armor is a version of the Shrouded Armor, but on steroids.
Every single enchantment is boosted and feels four times as strong as the ones from its original counterpart.
With that said, I do have to tell you that this armor serves a better purpose worn by an assassin (to a degree).
You’ll find it useful depending on how aggressive your playstyle is!
4. Nightingale Set
How To Get: Undergo the Trinity Restored quest to get this set as part of its progression
Now this is a set of armor that every thief needs to have.
It’s the set worn by the followers of Nocturnal himself, which means that special thieving boosts are expected.
It gives you better lockpicking abilities and the skill to move without making noise.
Basically a must-have to push your thievery to new heights.
3. Cicero’s Hat
How To Get: You need to kill Cicero to get his hat. What a shame, right?
Cicero’s Hat gives you a staggering 35% boost to your sneaking abilities.
You might look like an absolute fool wearing it.
But no one will see you if you’re really a great thief, so who cares?
2. Blade of Woe
How To Get: Finish the quest “Death Incarnate” to get the blade
Since I’ve gone all-out when it comes to being an aggressive thief in this guide, I might as well tell you to get the Blade of Woe.
This piece of weaponry makes stealth kills a much easier thing to do.
End some lives if things get too difficult, and avoid detection at all costs!
1. Skeleton Key
How To Get: You’ll get it from Mercer Frey at the end of the Thieves Guild questline
Arguably the best thieving item in the game, the Skeleton Key is a must-have.
Any thief worth their salt should be chasing after this bad boy.
It acts as an infinite lockpick source, which will help you crack open even the most difficult of safes. Talk about handy!