Why are assassins coming after me?
I recently started a new game as a mage type character. As far as I can tell I haven't done anything wrong yet, haven't stolen anything, etc. In fact, the only quests I've done so far were the initial main quest up to the point where I was appointed thane of Whiterun. Yet as I was walking through the wilderness to Ivarstead, I ran into an assassin who had this Dark Brotherhood assassin's note on him:
As instructed, you are to eliminate [playername] by any means necessary. The Black Sacrament has been performed - somebody wants this poor fool dead. We've already received payment for the contract. Failure is not an option. - Astrid
Who hired the assassin and why?
As a side note, at the time, I was busy casting fury on every rabbit I came across so they would chase me (rabbits can't attack, only follow). I was up to 4 when I ran into the assassin. Maybe PETA somehow found out... @Ratchet Astrid is the leader of the dark brotherhood, she sent the assassin but she doesn't perform the black sacrament.
I think it's the same people who send thugs after you. Thugs usually have a note telling who sent you (Mine was signed by "Whiterun Guard"!). They're usually sent when you're seen performing a crime and (I believe) you evade the guards some way or another.
@Kyte I think thugs are different; they're usually send after me by people I've stolen from. The Dark Brotherhood notes don't have a name on them, so I _think_ they're just random until you join up.
@ratchetfreak No, Astrid is the assassin's boss, not their client. I think it is unknown whether this is triggered randomly or by player actions.
Well, last night I got ambushed by Thalmor agents, and the note claimed I was "a threat to their plans" or somesuch. I don't recall doing anything to them, though.
The wood elf who works at The Drunken Huntsmen hired thugs to "teach me a lesson". I don't know his full name, but it starts with an 'E'. I can't talk to him because I have a bounty of 40,000 gold in Whiterun.
It's a random encounter for you to get to know there is an Assassins Guild in the game. It happens always early in the game (so it's somewhat scripted) and later you get the option to join them or destroy them.
The player never gets to know who wanted you dead and you can't ask any of the Dark Brotherhood about it. It's not really that important.
Assassins will keep being sent by Astrid until you join the Dark Brotherhood, so if you want to stop getting assassins hired, join the Dark Brotherhood.