Hired Thugs are hostile characters which can appear in any random event location. This is only supposed to occur after the Dragonborn has stolen goods from a character, repeatedly trespassed, assaulted someone, or murdered someone. Some characters, such as Belethor, may consider knocking over items or using a shout inside their shop as reason enough.
This event can occur even if the Dragonborn remained undetected throughout the incident in question. One of the thugs sent after the Dragonborn will carry a contract signed by the offended party. Anyone can hire thugs - merchants, townsfolk, Jarls, town guards (who will sign the contract with "Whiterun Guard," for example) and even children or dogs (Garmr). It is also possible for Forsworn Briarhearts and bandits to send hired thugs if items are pickpocketed from them; the contract in this case will be signed with the generic character's name. If the person who took out the contract is dead, the thugs will still appear. A hired thug may put out a contract if they have been successfully pickpocketed. Even the ghosts at the Abandoned Prison may hire thugs, in which case the contract will be signed "Ghost".
While the contracts say that they do not necessarily have to kill the Dragonborn, only teach them a lesson, they will always attempt to kill them, regardless if they resist or not.
The thugs are exclusively melee fighters in groups of three, and wear heavy armor.
A hired thug can occasionally incur a bounty on them self when attacking the Dragonborn, resulting in nearby guards attacking them. However, the reverse can also be true - guards and witnesses may register self-defense as an assault, and bounties will be incurred accordingly.
- Garmr. It is quite common that the missive carried by one of the Hired Thugs may be signed by someone who the Dragonborn has not stolen from (in some cases not having even met them), or was dead at the time of both the theft and attack. This can occur with animals, such as
- Sometimes, the thugs will approach but only follow the Dragonborn around and not attack. If one of them is attacked, only the one attacked will fight back, and the other(s) will idly watch. When the thug is dead, the other(s) will look at the body and say they will find the killer.
- dragon attacks, they may become non-hostile and follow the Dragonborn. If hired thugs are around when a
- Riverwood, they are apparently unable to swim and will just stand on the shore and get pushed by the current if led into the water. If the thugs attack in
- merchant (even if the Dragonborn has not visited the Hold their shop is in) and will attack normally. Sometimes, the thugs may show up and the contract will be signed by a random
- The contract may be signed by a guard from one of the holds which have not been visited yet.