- "[T]he tallboy is another government bully, armed with incendiary devices, thickly armored and standing high overhead, looking down at the common people of the city[...]Exquisite? We think not."
- —The Exquisite Tallboy
Tallboys, also called stilt walkers, are part of an elite unit of the City Watch. They use a suit that is an amalgamation of spindle-legged armatures, which keeps them out of reach of the rats that swarm Dunwall. Accompanying this, tallboys wear heavy armor plating, which protects them during confrontations.
Although their offensive power is significant, their movement capacity is limited; a circle-strafe is an effective way to create an opening that allows a few shots to be undertaken.
Each tallboy uses a compound bow and has a spotlight attached to his suit, which he can use to peer into shadows. Tallboys will also react to alerts aired via loudspeaker if they are near enough to hear them, and they can pass through walls of light unharmed unless the walls have been rewired.
Tallboys also have extra shielding in the form of collapsible wooden shields attached to their armor, which protect them from shockwaves.
Following this, due to their leg armatures, tallboys are unaffected by the Devouring Swarm power, and their heavy armor completely protects them against sleep darts and choke-holds. The only opportunity to take a tallboy down non-lethally is with the special arc pylon during the mission The Loyalists - those attempting a "clean run" are advised to avoid them altogether.
Officially referred to as stilt walkers, tallboys were invented by Anton Sokolov in 1836 to be part of the City Watch. It was not until the Lord Regent's reign in 1837 that they really began to be used, and stories of their terror quickly spread.
After Burrows was deposed and his reign ended, tallboys were removed from the Watch and seemed to exist only in childhood stories as icons of horror. Somehow, the Roaring Boys Gang managed to obtain one of the suits, surprising the members of the Watch who had not been trained against this kind of threat.
There are several ways to effectively kill a tallboy:
- Drop-assassinating them allows Corvo Attano to kill them in a single hit; this can be achieved by ambushing them from a vantage point of sufficient height or by using a combination of Agility and Blink to reach their level, though the latter is considerably more difficult to pull off after having been detected.
- Explosive bullets or a well placed sticky grenade can kill a tallboy with one shot - provided that the three whale oil tanks on the back are destroyed.
- A grenade can also be "cooked" to explode once it hits a tallboy, killing it.
- Shooting the three whale oil tanks on their back will cause the tanks to explode. All three tanks, however, must be destroyed for the tallboy to fall. If shot with a non-explosive projectile like standard pistol ammunition, the explosion of the hit tank will not compromise the other two, making two more precise hits necessary for a kill.
- Using a large amount of ammo to shoot tallboys will generally kill them, but it is not the most economical way of eliminating them.
- Using Windblast to deflect one of their explosive arrows will send it back at the tallboy who fired it.
- Run as close to them as possible (preferably using Bend Time), jump up to them using Agility or Blink, and attach a spring razor to their bodies.
- Possess them and walk them into water. However, this can only be done in some parts in the game where there is a water source near the tallboy.
- While under the effects of Bend Time II, shoot a crossbow bolt at the tallboy and attach a springrazor on it. Aimed correctly, it will kill the tallboy once the bolt hits him (preferably aim for the tallboy's body).
- Agility jump and use Blood Thirsty I to kill them.
- Shoot an incendiary bolt at such an angle to hit the middle of the tallboy, bypassing the shields.
- Rewire Sokolov Technology to kill the tallboy.
- While Corvo's first encounter with a tallboy is at the beginning of Lady Boyle's Last Party, they are first seen when Corvo enters the Void for the first time, during his first night at the Hound Pits Pub.
- According to commentary by art director Sébastien Mitton, the idea for the tallboys came after watching a man on stilts cleaning a building façade. Originally they were designed as a type of town crier (which was replaced by loudspeakers) but they slowly evolved into the heavily armed guards that they are now.
- Given that Dishonored's visual designer is Viktor Antonov, the same man who directed Half-Life 2's style, this evolution may mean the current form of the tallboy is based on Half-Life 2's Striders, which are extremely tall biomechanical alien tripod enemies that help to keep order, and are generally difficult to take down.
- According to the book The Exquisite Tallboy, every tallboy is "heavily drugged" with something that "renders them resistant to pain" and "dulls whatever empathy they might normally possess". It is not certain whether the tallboys' resulting decrease in empathy is part of the drug's intended effects, or merely a side effect.
- Although tallboys shoot explosive arrows, when Corvo loots their bodies he gets an incendiary bolt instead.
- In the reveal trailer, however, the arrows fired from the tallboy seem to have incendiary properties, setting anybody within the blast on fire. This does not happen in-game.
- Despite its heavy armor, a tallboy can be devoured by hagfish and rats just like any other corpse.
- A tallboy is heavy enough to make the earth tremble as it passes by.
- Tallboys are the only enemy not to make any vocal noise at all.
- In Dishonored: The Wyrmwood Deceit, Corvo says the tallboys are accompanied by an unmistakable sound of gears and grinding metal.
- Instead of using the normal compound bow, the Roaring Boys equipped their tallboy, the Big Lad, with a flamethrower.
- In Dishonored 2, in the guard building at the Upper Aventa District during the mission The Clockwork Mansion, two guards are having a conversation comparing the new Clockwork Soldiers to the "old tallboys from the time of the rat plague." One of the guards notes that he prefers the tallboys because "they made people stand up straight."
- Canonically, Corvo destroyed a number of tallboys during the events of Dishonored, but broke a few ribs while doing so.
Enemies in Dishonored