1420 words • 7~11 min read

Standard Nightblade Builds for Leveling, PvE and PvP

ESO Nightblade 2

There are a vast variety of possible Nightblade builds that are effective for every area of the game. This section will go over some possible options for skill builds, attribute builds and weapon setups– including both active and passive skills– that will serve you in the best way possible. All builds can and should be adjusted for personal playstyle.

Attribute Guide

Since attributes can be completely reset with a visit to a shrine and some gold, it’s possible to use one attribute set for leveling and another upon reaching level 50 and/or finishing veteran ranks. After reaching veteran rank 14, you’ll have access to 62 attribute points total.

For the most part, you’ll want to focus on Stamina or Magicka—whichever suits the types of skills you use. Putting points into both Stamina and Magicka is not advisable for a Nightblade.

Since Stamina affects weapon damage as well as Stamina regeneration, Nightblade builds that rely heavily on weapon abilities and heavy/light attacks will want to prioritize Stamina. Food is a good way increase Stamina temporary. This includes most skills (if you’ve played since the game’s launch, most Nightblade weapon-based skills now scale with Stamina). Bow users, dual wielders, and two-handed weapon users will want to focus on Stamina.

Nightblade builds that use a destruction staff or restoration staff will want to favor Magicka.

Health is useful for all builds and especially important for players who PvP.

While you can place all of your points into one attribute, it can often be a good idea to favor a balanced setup. This allows you to be more flexible when it comes to gear later on. It also gives you more health.

For a bow/dual wield Nightblade, for example, one good setup is to use 32 points in Health and 30 in Stamina. While leveling, you can simply try and equalize both stats. For a destruction staff Nightblade, this simply flips to 32 Magicka and 30 Health.

ESO Nightblade 3

Example Active Skill Sets

Since each character will have two weapon sets to choose between beginning at level 15, it’s possible to mix and match any of the below active skill sets you wish. In this manner, you can build a Nightblade that’s versatile in a variety of areas: Damage options, crowd control, healing/tanking utility, PvP utility, survivability, group support or maximum DPS.

Reminder: Due to the super flexibility in the Elder Scrolls Online, these are examples only! Feel free and make up your own build and figure out what works for you. Along with active skills, suggested attribute point allocation, Boons and gear/rune selections will be provided.

ESO Nightblade 1

Build 1: Dual Wield/Bow Nightblade

  • Roles: DPS, solo, dungeons, leveling, PvE, PvP
  • Pros: Excellent damage, able to stealth everywhere in the game, fantastic for surprise attacks as well as all areas of endgame and PvP
  • Cons: Lack of self-heals, not a lot of survivability
  • Suggested Attributes: 32 health, 30 Stamina
  • Suggested Rune/Gear Priority: Maximum Stamina, + Poison Damage
  • Suggested Boon: The Warrior
  • Suggested Armor: Medium

This setup is one of the best for Nightblades who wish to go pure DPS for PvP and dungeon/raid purposes. By switching from dual wield daggers to a bow when necessary, this build can attack from range and from melee. A typical solo pull will have you starting from range and finishing off your target in melee. This build makes great use of stealth so it’s ideal for both PvP and PvE.

First Weapon Set: Bow
Mark Target > Piercing Mark (Assassination skill tree)
Blur > Double Take (Assassination skill tree)
Poison Arrow > Venom Arrow (Bow skill tree)
Grim Focus > Merciless Resolve (Assassination skill tree)
Snipe > Focused Aim (Bow skill tree)

Ultimate: Dawnbreaker > Flawless Dawnbreaker (Fighters Guild skill tree)

Second Weapon Set: Dual Wield
Teleport Strike > Ambush (Assassination skill tree)
Drain Power > Sap Essence (Siphoning skill tree)
Blade Cloak > Quick Cloak (Dual Wield skill tree)
Whirlwind > Steel Tornado (Dual Wield skill tree)
Assassin’s Blade > Killer’s Blade (Assassination skill tree)

Ultimate: Meteor > Shooting Star (Mages Guild skill tree)

Build 2: Two-Handed Weapon/Restoration Staff PvP Nightblade

  • Roles: PvP, solo, leveling
  • Pros: Decent damage, good survivability, excellent mobility, decent self-heals and group heals
  • Cons: Lacking a bit of DPS, won’t be an excellent group healer due to attribute allocation
  • Suggested Attributes: 42 health, 20 Stamina
  • Suggested Rune/Gear Priority: Maximum Stamina, Disease Glyph on weapon
  • Suggested Boon: The Warrior
  • Suggested Armor: Medium

This setup is rather unique. Meleeing in PvP battles can be a little rough, so this build is a good way to survive while PvPing and still put out some decent damage at the same time. With the help of the restoration staff, you can quickly switch to heals as well. You’ll generally want to make use of stealth to pick off enemy casters. When you receive heavy fire, switch to the restoration staff and keep yourself up while disabling opponents however you can.

First Weapon Set: Two-Handed Weapon (Mace is recommended)
Teleport Strike > Ambush (Assassination skill tree)
Veiled Strike > Surprise Attack (Shadow skill tree)
Assassin’s Blade > Killer’s Blade (Assassination skill tree)
Bone Shield > Spiked Bone Shield (Undaunted skill tree)
Shadow Cloak > Shadowy Disguise (Shadow skill tree)

Ultimate: Death Stroke > Soul Harvest (Assassination skill tree)

Second Weapon Set: Restoration Staff
Steadfast Ward > Healing Ward (Restoration Staff skill tree)
Vigor > Resolving Vigor (Alliance War Assault skill tree)
Evasion > Shuffle (Medium Armor skill tree)
Summon Shade > Shadow Image (Shadow skill tree)
Aspect of Terror > Mass Hysteria (Shadow skill tree)

Ultimate: Soul Shred > Soul Tether (Siphoning skill tree)

Suggested Nightblade Passive Abilities

These passive abilities are the best the Nightblade has to offer and should be taken if at all possible. Even if they may not seem immediately useful for the weapons you are currently using, you never know when you may decide to try out a new spec. When first getting started, make sure to prioritize grabbing the passives which are the most useful for the abilities you plan on using.


Master Assassin (II), Executioner (II), Pressure Points (II), Hemorrhage (II)


Refreshing Shadows (II), Shadow Barrier (II), Dark Vigor (II), Dark Veil (II)


Catalyst (II), Magicka Flood (II), Soul Siphoner (II), Transfer (II)

Suggested Armor and Weapon Passive Abilities

Some weapon and armor passive abilities are more useful to the Nightblade than others. The passive abilities listed below assume you are using that weapon set. In general, you should only take passive abilities for weapon sets and armor types that you commonly use.

  • Dual Wield:
    Slaughter (II), Dual Wield Expert (II), Controlled Fury (II), Ruffian (II), Twin Blade and Blunt (II)
  • Bow:
    Long Shots (II), Accuracy (II), Ranger (II), Hawk Eye (II), Hasty Retreat (II)
  • Destruction Staff:
    Tri Focus (II), Penetrating Magic (II), Elemental Force (II), Ancient Knowledge (II), Destruction Expert (II)
  • Restoration Staff:
    Essence Drain (II), Restoration Expert (II), Cycle of Life (II), Absorb (II), Restoration Master (II)
  • Two-Handed:
    Forceful (II), Heavy Weapons (II), Balanced Blade (II), Follow Up (II), Battle Rush (II)
  • One Hand and Shield:
    Fortress (II), Sword and Board (II), Deadly Bash (II), Deflect Bolts (II), Battlefield Mobility (II)
  • Light Armor:
    Evocation (III), Recovery (II), Spell Warding (II), Prodigy (II), Concentration (II)
  • Medium Armor:
    Dexterity (III), Wind Walker (II), Improved Sneak (II), Agility (II), Athletics (II)
  • Heavy Armor:
    Resolve (III), Constitution (II), Juggernaut (II), Bracing (II), Rapid Mending (II)

Suggested Other Passive Abilities

These are passive abilities found in guild skill lines, world skill lines and racial skill lines. Some are more useful to Nightblades than others. Others are optional. These are the ones that are generally considered the best. Note: Some of the active abilities are quite useful for Nightblades as well.

  • World:
    Soul Magic: Soul Summons (II), Soul Lock (II)
    Vampire: Supernatural Recovery (II), Undeath (II), Dark Stalker (I)
    Werewolf: Pursuit (II), Blood Rage (II), Devour (I), Savage Strength (II), Call of the Pack (II)
  • Guilds:
    Fighters Guild: Intimidating Presence (1), Slayer (III), Banish the Wicked (III), Skilled Tracker (I)
    Mages Guild: Persuasive Will (I)
    Note: Other Mages Guild passive and active abilities may be useful for Nightblades who are dabbling in Magicka-heavy builds such as the Restoration Staff build or Destruction Staff build.
    Undaunted: Undaunted Mettle (II)
  • Racial Passives:
    Some of the racial passives are very strong for Nightblades. You will only have access to these if you happen to choose that race, however. That said, the strongest racial choices for most Nightblade builds that utilize Stamina, sneaking and physical combat include Khajiit, Dark Elf, Imperial, Orc, Redguard and Wood Elf.