Elder Scrolls Skills (Skyrim)


Skills represent actions that can be taken in game; there are 18 in total and each is tracked by its own system of skill points. Skill points are a measure of how proficient the player is at these skills and increasing them grants benefits to the skill as well as granting access to perks that may be taken upon leveling up. Also, when a certain level is reached in some skills, guards and other NPCs will comment on it

By class archetype

All 18 skills can be grouped into 3 distinct categories:
The Mage     The Warrior     The Thief


Heavy Armor

Light Armor

Raising skill level

The level of a given skill is increased as that skill is used successfully – Archery is increased when an arrow hits its target; Destruction is increased when a spell causes damage to the target; Sneak increases when the player remains undetected in Sneak mode, while in range of NPCs who otherwise could detect the player, etc. Some skills are more passive in the nature of their leveling, such as Conjuration, which increases a little bit each time the player summons a Bound Weapon or an Atronach, or even soul traps an enemy. But these types of skills must also be used in combat in order to gain the increase.

Some skills, specifically Lockpicking, can increase when attempts to pick a lock are unsuccessful, or when a lockpick breaks.

When taken from an in-character context, the idea is that the player character is learning as they go. Each release of a bow, each hitting swing of a sword, each spell cast successfully, or each lock picked is a learning experience for the character, and slowly these experiences give the character greater expertise in that certain skill.

Temporary skill increases

The use of enchanted items can temporarily increase the level of a skill, in the sense that the skill level used by the game when calculating a player’s successes with that skill is increased within the corresponding formula. While using these items makes it easier to use a given skill and in some cases can provide a player with Perks available for that skill without having taken them (Muffle, specifically, is available as an enchantment for footwear, and corresponds directly to the perk in the Sneak tree called Muffled Movement), the temporary skill-point increase provided by an item does not apply to Perk selection in the Skills menu.

A player with a Lockpick skill of 15, for instance, who dons a piece of armor that adds 5 or more points to that skill, will not be able to use the new skill level (20+) to purchase the Apprentice Locks perk from the Skills menu, because only the raw skill level is used.

See Enchanting for further information on skill and ability bonuses provided by enchanted gear.

Leveling skills without perks

Perks, which have skill-level requisites determining when the player has access to them, increase the effectiveness of skills in various ways, but aren’t required to use that skill effectively, even at higher levels. Most of the early Perks available in any skill tree lower the difficulty of using the skill (i.e. locks of a given difficulty become easier to pick once the Perk for that difficulty level is taken), while the more advanced perks provide the character with unique abilities that make them even more effective (Wax Key, for example, which places a copy of the key [if one exists] for any lock successfully picked into the player’s inventory, allowing them to circumvent that lock in the future should an NPC relock it).

While Perks are extremely useful and make the player much more efficient, they’re not absolutely necessary in order for the player to use a skill effectively. As the skill is used and its level increases, the ease of the skill also increases. For instance, as the player’s speech skill increases, it becomes easier to persuade/intimidate NPCs (Bribery is always successful). By small increments as the level of speech increases, regardless of whether the player takes the Perks for the various difficulties, it slowly becomes easier. So even if the player uses a piece of apparel or potion to enhance their speech skill (For example, an Amulet of Dibella or a Philter of Glibness) taking the perk simply causes a much more immediate and noticeable decrease in the difficulty of persuasions/intimidations at that level.

This is evidenced by the existence of skill-increasing enchantments, which, since they do not assist the player in gaining perks, would be otherwise useless if the level of a given skill didn’t play its own part in the skill’s effectiveness.

Trainers and training

Skyrim Training

As in previous Elder Scrolls titles, the player can pay certain NPCs for training. Each training session provides a single level up for a particular skill, and the player can train at most five times per character level. Unlike Oblivion, master trainers in Skyrim cannot advance a player’s skills beyond level 90. The cost of training grows as the player’s current skill level increases.

When the player finds certain NPCs that cannot die (such as an Imperial Legate), they can keep attacking them and increase his skills indefinitely.

Training for free

While there are many people in Skyrim that will follow the Dragonborn and many others that can train him, only a few will do both. In order to train for free the trainer must already be willing to follow the Dragonborn. The player may then request the training, then have the trainer follow him, thus enabling trading with the follower, upon which all the Dragonborn has to do is to ask to trade items and take back the money. Faendal, of Riverwood, and Aela the Huntress (only after completing the Companion quest line), of Whiterun, are two such NPCs that this can be done to. Both train Archery.

Should the Dragonborn have a high Pickpocket skill, he can simply steal the gold spent on Training by pickpocketing the trainer.

If the player is unable to steal the gold due to it being higher that the limit (0% steal chance), a paralyze potion may be used on the wielded weapon to hit the trainer once, to make him fall, paralyzed. Just a moment before he/she stands up, the Dragonborn will be able to steal the gold, no matter the amount, without the trainer turning hostile. A Paralyze spell may also be used.

Quick Alchemy skill raising

This particular skill is tiresome to raise but there is something that can be done to speed things along. With a maximum enchanting skill and four pieces of enchanted gear that raise Alchemy skill will create the most powerful and most expensive potions and poisons. However, when raising this skill, the player will find out he will be making an impressive assortment of potions and poisons. Newly made brews may not all be bought by merchants due to the limited amount of gold they have. However, the player can go to any Alchemy trainer and receive training in Alchemy (up to 5 times per level), after which the money spent on that training will appear in their inventory screen when bartering, thus enabling the player to sell all of the potions/poisons made trying to raise the skill, and get the money back.

Leveling skills quickly

There are numerous means by which players may exploit or overcome the mechanics of the game in order to raise certain skills rapidly, making the game vastly easier and perhaps more enjoyable to play. The following methods can be utilized, should players desire to increase their game play proficiency.

NOTE: The following methods are considered exploits. They are not hacks or mods, they do not modify or bypass any specific technical formalities of the game, they do not require the addition of any third party software, they merely take advantage of design flaws in the game. These allow players to increase their skills at rates far beyond the regular functional design of the software. As such they may contribute to the prevalence of bugs and glitches, or otherwise overcome the challenging aspects of the game. Careful early-game min-maxing and “grinding” is not as necessary in Skyrim as it was Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, for those considering this route. Indeed, should readers wish to experience the game to the fullest it is advised not to attempt any of the following methods of exploitation.

Very early in the game it’s possible to raise Block, Heavy Armor, Light Armor, Illusion, Restoration, Conjuration, Sneak, One Handed, and Two Handed easily by exploiting the AI or other mechanics. The tricks fall into 3 main groups, and some of them require exploiting AI during quests, as such they may not always be available.

Type one: Auto Grinding. Get a weak enemy to attack constantly (eg. let a wolf “corner” you), and heal yourself/block/cast 0 damage spells (courage, conjuration, etc). This will level those skills and whatever skill is linked to currently equipped armor (light/heavy)

Type two: Invulnerable Ally. At the opening of the game after Alduin attacks and the Dragonborn must enter the keep, follow Ralof, the Stormcloak dressed in blue. Ralof and the Dragonborn will arrive at a locked door and after killing two guards, will find the key on one of them. Instead of unlocking the door, sneak behind Ralof and sneak attack him. He should heal himself when he gets low and he shouldn’t become hostile. This allows players to swiftly level the sneak, one handed, two handed, and destruction skills.

Type three: Exploiting Spell Mechanics. There are many more variations for the other schools of magic, but here are a couple simple examples. Cast soul trap on a dead body (conjuration). Cast Detect Life in the middle of a large town (Alteration). Cast Courage on a horse repeatedly (Illusion). Finding or enchanting sets of armor for a total of of 100% reduced casting cost for a particular school can also be useful not just for leveling, but as a legitimate tactic later in the game.



Summon an unbound Flame Atronach at the Atronach Forge, and use Ice spells to kill it. Loot the body for fire salts, and repeat. Note: You need a lot of Rubies.

To raise sneak to 100, summon a Flame Atronach or other conjured creature and sneak-attack it with a low-damage dagger at 5 second intervals.

Another easy way to increase sneak is to use sneak attacks on essential characters, they possess scripted invulnerability.
Alteration and Illusion

To raise Alteration and Illusion quickly, the player will need enchantment high enough to where casting cost for spells are up to 25% less to cast. Items can be enchanted, such as necklaces, rings, armor, and helmets with ” 25% less casting cost” of the respected field. With all four of these items enchanted, the player will accomplish 100% free cost for all magical disciplines.

Alternatively, if the players magic pool or enchanting skill is very high, repeated casting paralysis spells during combat can be a prudent way to level up alteration in conjunction with a variety of other skills, given that the target will be paralyzed and unable to move. Before the paralyze spell wears off, cast it again and continue to attack opponents with the desired magic spells, or weapons. Be aware of current skills levels before attempting this. Ensure the alteration skills is high enough to cast paralysis spells.

A method for leveling Alteration alone requires the Telekinesis spell and a full set of armor with the Fortify Alteration enchantment (reducing the magicka cost of Alteration spells to zero) to be equipped. Telekinesis can then be dual-cast indefinitely on any object, and simply holding (or taping down) the left-hand and right-hand controls (LT and RT, L1 and R1, or the mouse buttons) will level the Alteration skill to 100 in around 30-45 minutes.

Skill points

In order to achieve a character level up, the player must earn a pre-specified number of experience points, which are acquired by leveling up any of the player’s skills. The effort required to level up a given skill increases with the current level of that skill. Generally, using a more advanced feature of a skill, such as an adept spell, advances the skill more than a novice feature or spell.

The max level in the game is 81 and a half. That is reached when the player levels all skills to 100, providing 80 skill points in total to spend.

Maximum skill levels can be attained by setting his player’s level back to 1 by using typing the command player.setlevel 1. Combinations of using advskill <skillname> <amount>, then setting the level back to 1 can give enough points to get all skills to 100 and have all the perks in each.

Not all skills advance the same. For example, advskill enchanting 100 will advance enchanting to skill 100, but advskill destruction 100 will only advance it by one or two. Also the higher the level, the more it takes to advance. Some skills will only advance 5 or 6 levels, with advskill values of 1 million.

Exit from the command screen to let level the character up between using the advskill command. This allows the player to gain perk points, enabling him to set his character’s level back to 1, and continue advskill.

The names of the skills can be found in the skills/perks window and are named the same except for two, which are Speech (use >advskill speechcraft <amount>) and Archery (use advskill marksman <amount>).

Note: As of patch 1.09, a new feature called Legendary Skills  was provided. This allows one to reset an individual skill back to level 15 without affecting the overall skill level, and thus break the 81.5 overall level barrier.

Light armor perk tree   Smithing Skill Improvement

Skill tree specs

These are some examples of skill tree specs that are based on how the player chooses to play and fight with his character.

Sneak(12x), One-Handed(7x), Archery(6x), Destruction(12x), Restoration(9x), Enchanting(4x) Spec
This class is designed for players who prefer to remain undetected and land critical hits with Bows and Daggers. When the circumstances permit, the player may lay down a Rune so that the NPC walks over it, enabling the player to hit it with a stealth attack or more Destruction magic. For close active combat, the player may want to stick to Destruction kiting or to dual wielded Daggers if magic is weak. The spec into Enchanting allows the player to double enchant all his items increasing his magicka pool or magicka regeneration, those two being the most beneficial. It is also advised to carry addition sets of gear for Restoration, Daggers, as well as Bows.

Talent Tree Sneak     Stealth(5x)     Backstab(1x)     Deadly Aim(1x)     Assasin’s Blade(1x)     Muffled Movement(1x)     Light Foot(1x)     Silent Roll(1x)     Shadow Warrior(1x)
One-Handed     Armsman(5x)     Dual Flurry(1x)     Dual Savagery(1x)
Archery     Overdraw(5x)     Eagle Eye(1x)
Destruction     Novice Destruction(1x)     Apprentice Destruction(1x)     Adept Destruction(1x)     Expert Destruction(1x)     Master Destruction(1x)     Augmented Flames/Augmented Frost/Augmented Shock(2x each)     Destruction Dual Casting(1x)
Restoration     Novice Restoration(1x)     Apprentice Restoration(1x)     Adept Restoration(1x)     Expert Restoration(1x)     Master Restoration(1x)     Recovery(2x)     Restoration Dual Casting(1x)     Respite(1x)
Enchanting     Enchanter(1x)     Insightful Enchanter(1x)     Corpus Enchanter(1x)     Extra Effect(1x)

See also

Skills – Skills in other Elder Scrolls Games.
Perks – All the known Perks.

Skills in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Mage     Alteration · Conjuration · Destruction · Enchanting · Illusion · Restoration
The Thief     Alchemy · Light Armor · Lockpicking · Pickpocket · Sneak · Speech
The Warrior     Archery · Block · Heavy Armor · One-Handed · Smithing · Two-Handed


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.