Elder Scrolls

Hired Thug

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"We're here to teach you a lesson."
―Hired Thug[src]

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.

File:Screen Shot 2012-08-13 at 3.32.01 PM.png
Contract looted off of Hired Thug.

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.


  •  PC   It is quite common that the 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.
  •  PC   360   PS3  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.
  •  PC   It seems that if Hired Thugs are around when a dragon attacks, they may become non-hostile, and simply follow the Dragonborn.
  •  360   If the thugs attack in Riverwood they are apparently unable to swim and will just stand there and get pushed by the current if led into the water.
  •  PS3   Sometimes, the Hired Thugs may show up and the contract will be signed by a random merchant (even if the Dragonborn has not visited the Hold their shop is in) and will attack normally.
  •  PS3   Strangely, occasionally the Contract will be signed by a guard from one of the Holds which the player has not visited yet.


Start a Discussion Discussions about Hired Thug

  • Kill the thug-sender?

    7 messages
    • You can get a hired thug even if you killed the sender before the crime.
    • The other day I got a letter from Linwe. I got the letter as soon as I left the Summerset Shadows Hideout and I got told that my friend Linwe ...
  • Thugs caused the town to atack me

    2 messages
    • Some thugs attacked me on Riverwood and now all town is after me, what did i do? and how can i undo this?
    • It is a glitch that can occur even in self-defense just try to yield (Put your weapon away near a guard) and then pay the bounty or time in jail

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