Skill Overview – Nightblade

Nightblades ... crafty and dangerous!

Nightblades … crafty and dangerous!

Whats up Foundry lurkers, Phazius here and I’m back to continue our “Skill Overview” series by revisiting the Nightblade. We pretty extensively previewed the class in our coverage after PAX Prime, so some of this information will not be new, but in order to give the Nightblade class a consistent treatment with our other articles, we wanted to be sure to give you all a full rundown on all it’s abilities (including the passives which were not reported after PAX). The Nightblade in ESO epitomizes the rogue archetype, but has enough versatility to be appropriate for a wide variety of builds. Traditionally, the Nightblade relies on stealth, subtlety, and dark magic to get in close and deliver devastating single target damage to unsuspecting foes.


The first skill tree the Nightblade has access to, Assassination, focuses on this very strategy, incorporating heavy hitting melee attacks and abilities designed to deliver high melee DPS. Assassination also gives a bit of avoidance, to help the Nightblade stay in the thick of the action for long enough to secure their kill.

  • [Ultimate] Death Stroke –- Deals damage to your target, and reduces their incoming healing. The damage dealt is increased by your Ultimate pool.
  • [Active] Assassin’s Blade –- Deals moderate damage with a large damage multiplier when used against low health enemies.
  • [Active] Teleport Strike – Teleport directly to your target, dealing damage and stunning them for a short duration.
  • [Active] Blur –- A medium duration self buff that gives attackers a percentage based miss chance when attacking the Nightblade.
  • [Active] Mark Target – Place a mark on a high-health target; while marked you deal extra damage to the target. Killing the marked target will heal the Nightblade.
  • [Active] Haste – Increases the attack speed of normal and power attacks for a moderate duration.
  • [Passive] Master Assassin – Deal increased damage while stealthed or invisible. Successful sneak attacks stun for longer.
  • [Passive] Executioner – Killing an enemy with an Assassination ability restores some Magicka.
  • [Passive] Pressure Points – Increases the Nightblade’s critical strike chance for every Assassination ability on their current hotbar.
  • [Passive] Hemorrhage – Increases the Nightblade’s bonus critical strike damage for each Assassination ability on their current hotbar.
A Nightblade preparing to unleash Teleport Strike

A Nightblade preparing to unleash Teleport Strike

This seems to be a pretty traditional skill tree for a stealth assasin. Assassin’s Blade is your basic stabbing skill with bonus execute damage against near-death enemies. Teleport Strike is an excellent gap-closer, not only instantly closing the distance to your target, but stunning them in the process. Blur gives the Nightblade some staying power in melee by giving foes a random chance to miss attacks. this will be a super useful skill for tank Nightblades, particularly since this costs Magicka as opposed to the Stamina cost of many other tanking abilities. Mark Target is a great skill for solo or small-group PvP, and the functional nature of this ability may result in Nightblades being the “main assist” of choice in PvP groups. Haste looks more like a option to increase sustained damage-over-time, and will probably be more useful during predictable PvE encounters when the player has an opportunity to stay in melee range for an extended period of time. Death Stroke brings a crucially important healing debuff, and will be a really important tool in the Nightblade’s arsenal for taking down pesky healers. The passive abilities in this tree seem to generally reinforce the assassin theme, giving bonuses for attacking from stealth, killing targets, and stacking Assassination abilities for more burst through critical hits.



Next up, the Shadow line provides some great utility to complement the assassin style. Shadow includes a nice bag of tricks, that can be used strategically to turn the course of a fight in the Nightblades’ favor.

  • [Ultimate] Consuming Darkness – An AoE snare that renders the Nightblade invisibile. Attacking an enemy removes the invisibility for a short time. Allies can activate the Slip Away synergy, also gaining invisibility.
  • [Active] Shadow Cloak – Gain invisibility for a short duration.
  • [Active] Veiled Strike – Deals increased damage and stun enemies. Requires Stealth.
  • [Active] Summon Shade – Summons a shade which attacks and debuffs your enemies causing them to deal less damage.
  • [Active] Path of Darkness – Deals damage in a path in front of you, increases your movement speed along that path.
  • [Active] Aspect of Terror – Nearby enemies are afflicted with Fear.
  • [Passive] Refreshing Shadow – Activating a Shadow ability increases stamina regeneration
  • [Passive] Shadow Barrier – Take less damage after coming out of stealth or invisibility
  • [Passive] Fortitude – Increase max Health per slotted Shadow ability slotted
  • [Passive] Dark Veil – Increase duration of Shadow abilities
ESO Stealth

Everyone can stealth, but the Nightblade’s a specialist!

Our PAX article accidentally included the incorrect description for Consuming Darkness, so this error is corrected. The actual effect of the Shadow ultimate is really interesting, from a tactical perspective. It creates an AoE snare and opens the opportunity for group stealth. The synergy could be great for ambushing siege encampments, or as an escape tool allowing small groups to avoid being overrun by roaming zergs. Remember, everyone can stealth in ESO, but Shadow Cloak makes Nightblade the only class with a reliable in-combat stealth. In addition to opening the opportunity for sneak attacks, Shadow Cloak may be effectively used to break line of sight, avoid crowd control, or simply ditch an enemy attacker.

Veiled Strike is the only ability we’ve seen which requires stealth, I wonder if this stun will stack with the base stun duration mentioned in Master Assassin, or if the base stun is really short and this is much longer. Summon Shade looks helpful in PvE as a mitigation skill or in PvP as a distraction. Hopefully the AI on the summoned shade is intelligent enough to avoid breaking crowd control. Path of Darkness seems like a great ability for catching fleeing enemies, or closing quickly on an unsuspecting enemy. Aspect of Terror could be excellent, but it really depends on what “Fear” does in ESO; are they standing in place? are they running? does it break on damage? The Shadow passives provide a lot of elusiveness, survivability, and sustain and should be useful for engaging from stealth.



Siphoning presents an alternative approach to the Assassination tree, rather than overwhelming a foe with burst damage, Siphoning focuses on prolonging fights and wearing your enemies down with DoT’s, crowd control, and self-heals.

  • [Ultimate] Soul Shred – Deals PBAoE damage and stuns nearby enemies. Initiates the Leeching Strike synergy.
  • [Active] Strife – Places a DoT on your target which also heals you for the duration.
  • [Active] Agony – Stuns and DoTs an enemy for a long duration, but the effect is broken by any other damage.
  • [Active] Cripple – Places a DoT on an enemy which gradually decreases its movement speed, transferring an equal speed bonus to the Nightblade.
  • [Active] Siphoning Strikes – Sacrifice a portion of your own weapon damage in to restore a portion of your Magicka and Stamina with every hit.
  • [Active] Drain Power – Debuff the attack power of nearby enemies, transferring a portion of that power to the Nightblade for each affected enemy.
  • [Passive] Catalyst – Increase potion effectiveness
  • [Passive] Magicka Flood – Increase maximum magicka when you have a Siphoning ability slotted.
  • [Passive] Soul Siphoner – Increases healing taken by Siphoning abilities
  • [Passive] Transfer – Gain ultimate when dealing damage with a Siphoning ability
Spider Battle

Nightblades will be great sources of DPS for PvE bosses

Soul Shred is a point-blank AoE stun, which is a useful control and escape tool. This ultimate arguably brings the most group utility, by allowing allies to exploit a synergy, gaining self-healing. Strife is an amazing ability in longer-duration fights, not only adding another stacking DoT to your target, but returning a gradual inflow of healing to keep the Nightblade in the fight for longer. Agony adds a long-duration crowd control which also deals damage-over-time. This seems like an absolutely incredible ability, and should probably be one of the first things on any Nightblade’s hotbar. Cripple adds a useful chase or escape skill, slowing enemies and increasing your speed at the same time. Siphoning Strikes would be great for someone preferring the rapid use of skills as their primary source of DPS rather than basic weapon attacks. This could also be as bread-and-butter ability for Nightblade tanks who require Stamina return to keep enemies engaged.Thankfully, since this is a toggle, the Nightblade can alternate by activating Siphoning Strikes whenever his or her combat resources are low. Drain Power is a great utility skill for group play, increasing your own damage at the expense of all nearby enemies.

As for passives, additional Magicka is always good, and increased healing revived from Siphoning skills is a welcome boost to Strife. The effectiveness of Transfer depends whether ticks of DoT damage activate the bonus, or only initial application of a skill. I left Catalyst for last because it’s a bit unusual, increasing the effectiveness of potions. This is the only passive that has this kind of effect, and its amazing since potion effects can be flexibly adapted for almost any scenario!

Thanks for reading and I hope this facilitates a bit more discussion of the Nightblade class. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and let us know what you think the best Nightblade builds will use. Think Nightblades can be viable tanks or healers, or are they a DPS only class? What is your favorite ultimate from the three at the Nightblade’s disposal, and which weapon set do you think complements this playstyle most closely?

134 responses to “Skill Overview – Nightblade”

  1. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 575

    Argonian Templar


    Nice overview!

  2. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 153

    Orc Sorcerer

    Sanguine Extremists

    Eugh decisions.

    Planned on a pure sorc, but the siphoning trees dots could be more of my lock playstyle with an optional pet and invisibility :O

    Frost staff, full  light armour,  the 3 Dots from siphoning, fear , haste.  U: Deathstroke (if it has a nice range)

    Definitely alt if not main.

    Thanks for the article


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    Total Posts: 527

    Bosmer Templar

    I think the nightblade class is really interesting and has a lot of potential in areas other than stealth. My eventual EP character will be a nord nightblade that focuses on siphoning and avoidance to as well as heavy armor to maximize survivability. It seems the nightblade would make a good tank that focuses on avoidance rather than damage mitigation.

  4. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 151

    Breton Nightblade

    Assassin’s Blade can be morphed to be used at a longer range.



    The Faceless – NA/DC – Roleplaying/Community Guild –

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    Total Posts: 114

    Altmer Templar

    I don’t like Nightblade so far, even though it may have a couple exceptions, its too closed in the dps stereotype, leaving the one that hopes to be a tank or healer no class skills to slot in their bars. it has no “tanking tree”, barely a support and crowd controlling skill line.

    Might light guide me, towards what I think is right.

  6. Profile Photo
    Patelin JR


    Total Posts: 830


    This is awsome sauce! I wonder what the thieves guild and the dark brotherhood skill lines will be like. Surely they will include pick pocketing with thieves guild, they MUST! >:)

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    Total Posts: 856

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    @thuring nightblade does have to dip out of its class skills to be effective at tanking or healing more than the other classes, but it does bring its own strengths. Large amounts of life return from the siphoning line, and a  sustainable evasion affect, siphoning strikes can give unreal magicka return if managed properly, and brings its own flavor of support with stuff like drain power, and consuming darkness.

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    Total Posts: 775

    Argonian Nightblade

    The Ebon Raiders

    I want the potion boost and that alone was my main reasoning to play NB.

    Everything else is just icing on the cake.

  9. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 382

    Imperial Nightblade

    I’d say that Assassination is more of a straight (M)DPS tree than a ‘Stealth Assassin’ tree, despite the name.

    It would appear to be useful to Assassins and Brawlers alike. Not to mention there are a couple of significant skills that seem useful for ranged AD.

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    Total Posts: 9

    Breton Templar

    I could see a nice heal build around Siphoning with DW and weapon swap to Resto Staff with heal skills.

  11. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 73

    Altmer Templar

    Is it me or are the Nightblades badass? I think I may go Nightblade. I have always liked to use stealth in the games that had it and the Nightblades are just plain great in this game. Probably a Shadow/Assassin Nightblade build with medium armor and dual wield weapons. The Altmer may be a good choice as a race because they will probably have a bit of extra magicka and magicka regen and my armor will already give a couple of bonus to stamina and things like dodging while my magicka and magicka regen would be lacking. Granted, it may not be a big boost but a boost is still a boost no matter how small. I have to check the other racials to decide which one I am really going with.

  12. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 4

    Sounds awesome. I like the cloth style armor from the theatrical trailer a bit more. Had more a stealthy feel to it where as the pic above seems more confrontational

  13. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 382

    Imperial Nightblade

    LionsouI said on October 4, 2013 :

    Is it me or are the Nightblades badass?

    I’d say they’re about as badass as the other classes. I suspect in this situation, given that you have essentially outlined a stereotypical thief/rogue idea (which nightblades are designed to be best at) the increased badassness may have to do with your personal preference.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am almost certainly going to play a Nightblade as my main as it fits what I want to do best. However, there are some amazing character ideas that the other classes make available as well.

  14. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 111

    Nord Nightblade

    Yes! I can finally check out the passive for these builds! I am so torn between Siphoning/Shadow and Assassin/Shadow. Hmmmm…decisions decisions…

    ”It is madness for a sheep to talk piece with a wolf.”

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    Total Posts: 5

    Khajiit Nightblade

    Hi guys, if someone could help me out with this dilemma, I’d appreciate it.


    I love Argonians and Khajiits most, so I start with them first. When I’m a Khajiit I’m always an archer. Since the classes are picky and have pre-set abilities. How will I be able to use abilities like TP Strike to my advantage if I’m a ranged fighter?


    Someone had said to me on Youtube that I should use melee weapons along with my bow. However… If my weapons level with my character, how will that work? My weapons’ strength with be split into two segments.


    If anything I want to be a full archer without the use of melee.





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    Bosmer Templar


    If you want to be pure range, then why would you use teleport strike? Don’t feel like you have to use all the abilities because you won’t be able to, at least not at the same time. Also, don’t forget, your skills come from your weapons, armor, and many other things as well as class. I suggest you choose abilities that would compliment your build. However, thinking about it a bit more I suppose you could use teleport strike then, while your enemy is stunned, dodge backwards and shoot them with a bow skill. But, someone else can probably think of a more creative application.

  17. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 313

    Khajiit Nightblade

    Entropy Rising


    @Micanis Has some good points.  Using a purely ranged character with some skill lines is going to be an issue.  All skills have a range associated with them and many of the Nightblade ranges are small.  Other than that, the skills work rather indepently from your weapons.  The skills, themselves,  have their own damage ratings.  You would still have the weapon skills to choose from, along with armor, faction, guilds, etc.  You’ll end up wanting to use more skills than you have slots, so it shouldn’t be overly difficult to ignore the ones that won’t work for your build.




  18. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 382

    Imperial Nightblade

    Khajiitsaysmeow said on October 4, 2013 :

    I love Argonians and Khajiits most, so I start with them first. When I’m a Khajiit I’m always an archer. Since the classes are picky and have pre-set abilities. How will I be able to use abilities like TP Strike to my advantage if I’m a ranged fighter?

    If anything I want to be a full archer without the use of melee.

    As others have alluded to, you don’t have to use it or even learn it.

    I’ll make a little bit more of an explanation though. While there are LOTS of abilities that you can learn, you can only use 5 abilities at any one time.

    You can choose those 5 abilities from your class skills, your weapon skills, your armor skills and other skills you learn in the game (eg: Fighters’ Guild, PVP or Werewolf).

    So, if you choose to make a Nightblade you can at most, choose 5 of the skills from those listed in this article. You are not limited to one ‘tree’ but can mix and match between them.

    Therefore, as an archer you might want to choose Mark Target and Haste for more damage, but also choose Cripple so they cannot catch up to you or Shadow Cloak to vanish if they do.

    That is 4 of 5 abilities, without even considering the Archery Skill Line (which we do not have official information on). It is likely you will want to use 2 or 3 skills from that skill line also.

    That’s IF you want to make a Nightblade. It is important to be clear that you do not HAVE to be a Nightblade to be a good archer. Because the weapon skills are separate to classes, you can make ANY class a good archer.

    For Example, if you would like to also have some heals, you can make a Templar archer, which uses medium armor and shoots arrows.

    Or, if you would like a Pet to go with your archery, you can make a Sorcerer archer.  They summon demon pets, one of which can be a Clanfear. They can also use medium armor and a bow, or even heavy armor and a bow if you would prefer.

    The important thing to realise is that everything you read about classes in ESO are options, not requirements. You build the class that you want to play from a combination of those options.

  19. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 73

    Altmer Templar

    @Jaelin True. I am just biased because I love to be a stealthy assassin.  I think the most fun I had in oblivion and skyrim was as a assassin(Used bow and sword). Looking forward to the dark brotherhood of this game hehe :D. Not sure if I will go the same in this game though, I need to see the range of the skills since the most powerful ones seem to be melee attacks :/.

  20. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 190

    i could see a large group of nightblades walking around looking for unsuspecting guests… All of them rocking Consuming darkness, even 5 of them would be scary. after combat starts cripple (move speed) and strife (health regen) then > one of them pops the ultimate and they all cloak > which leads too Veiled strike, after they kill a target a few of them pop Aspect of terror to give them a few extra effective seconds >another one pops the same ultimate making them all cloak, imagine if they could repeat this and continuously kill specified targets without much resistance… We best hope some of our mages guild grinders get magelight it might be one of the few Good counter abilities… and considering that person might be their first specified target it might prove futile if theres not more then 1 with it… given this is just an example build and plenty of things are easily switched out its dealers choice with how they want to kill a group… I wonder who would be willing to try this… it might be quite the ambush method…

    all the complaints I hear just make me want to complain about those complaints… all the bad things they state theres a decently-better reason for it and if you cant understand, well i guess its just me. its depressing just trying to get opinions I might actually find, Autotelic, it really explains it. :D the motivation to enjoy, instead of being driven.

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