Hired Thugs are hostile NPC's which can appear in any random event location. This is only supposed to occur after the Dragonborn has stolen goods from an NPC, repeatedly trespassed, assaulted someone, or murdered someone. Some NPC's, such as Belethor, seem to consider knocking over items, (like walking over a table or using a shout inside their shop), as reason enough.
This event can occur even if the player remained undetected throughout the incident in question. One of the thugs sent after the Dragonborn will carry a contract signed by the offended party. Any NPC can hire thugs - merchants, townsfolk, even children, jarls, and town guards (who will sign the contract with "Whiterun Guard", for example). 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 NPC's name. Even if the person who took out the contract is dead, the thugs will still spawn. It appears that even a hired thug may put out a contract if they have been successfully pickpocketed.
The thugs are exclusively melee fighters in groups of three, and wear heavy armor.
A hired thug can occasionally incur a bounty on him or her self when attacking the player, 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.
- missive carried by one of the Hired Thugs may be signed by someone who the player has not stolen from (in some cases before having even met the named NPC), or was dead at the time of both the theft and attack. This can occur with animals, such as Garmr. It is quite common that the
- Sometimes, the Thugs will approach, but only follow the player 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 simply follow the Dragonborn. It seems that if Hired Thugs are around when a
- Riverwood they are apparently unable to swim and will just stand there 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 Hired Thugs may show up and the contract will be signed by a random
- Contract will be signed by a guard from one of the Holds which the player has not visited yet. Strangely, occasionally the
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (First appearance)