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 Dragonborn 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 based on the three guardian signs (shown in order, 3 of them are located ambiguously between the signs):
|The Mage||The Warrior||The Thief|
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 Dragonborn remains undetected in Sneak mode, while in range of NPCs who otherwise could detect the Dragonborn etc. Some skills are more passive in the nature of their leveling, such as Conjuration, which increases a little bit each time the Dragonborn 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 Dragonborn 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 Dragonborn'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 Dragonborn 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 Dragonborn 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 Dragonborn 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 Dragonborn's inventory, allowing them to circumvent that lock in the future should an NPC relock it).
While Perks are extremely useful and make the Dragonborn much more efficient, they're not absolutely necessary in order for the Dragonborn 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 Dragonborns 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 Dragonborn takes the Perks for the various difficulties, it slowly becomes easier. So even if the Dragonborn 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 Dragonborn 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.
- Main article: Trainer (Skyrim)
As in previous Elder Scrolls titles, the Dragonborn can pay certain NPCs for training. Each training session provides a single level up for a particular skill, and the Dragonborn can train at most five times per character level. Unlike Oblivion, master trainers in Skyrim cannot advance a Dragonborn's skills beyond level 90. The cost of training grows as the Dragonborn's current skill level increases.
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 was 81 and a half before the patch 1.9. That was 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
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>).
Legendary SkillsLegendary skills are a mechanics introduced in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim with patch 1.9. They allow the player to reset their character's skills, so that they can retrain them to gain additional perks, respec perks and continue leveling.
Once a skill has reached 100, it can be made "Legendary." This resets the skill back to level 15, and refunds any Perk points that were spent in that skill tree. The dragon symbol, commonly associated with the Imperial Legion, will be displayed under the skill's name, indicating that it has been made Legendary, and a number appears beside it to track how many times this has occurred.
Legendary skills level up normally, and have no added benefits compared with non-Legendary skills. The purpose of making a skill Legendary is to allow it to contribute to increasing character level again. In Skyrim, character levels are gained by leveling up one's Skills. When all skills reach 100, the character can no longer gain character levels (this occurs at level 81). Making skills Legendary allows skill leveling to continue, which in turn allows character level to continue to rise.
When a Legendary skill is mastered, it can be made Legendary again. This effectively removes any level cap, since the player can continue to max and reset skills an infinite number of times. It also allows them to level using only a small number of skills, so they can level while ignoring unwanted skills or focus on easily-leveled skills for faster level gain.
- Skills outside of the preferred playstyle no longer need to be leveled to continue increasing the overall level.
- The overall level cap is removed.
- Give the option of a perk reset like the one found in The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn, though crude in execution.
- The skill reverts back to novice, which can be challenging if choosing to make a core skill legendary and fighting higher-tier monsters. It is recommended to fight lower level enemies to get that skill back up.
- Starting racial modifier bonuses for skills (i.e. an Orc's 25 in the Heavy Armor skill, or a Breton's 20 in Alteration skill) will not be given (again). All skills made Legendary are reset to 15.
It is generally inadvisable to make core combat skills Legendary. For instance, a character whose primary means of attack is with bows will find themselves severely handicapped by making Archery legendary. One should also take into account the ease of leveling various skills.
In order to gain all 251 perks available, one or more skills must be made Legendary a total of 147 times, or between 8-9 times for each skill, if starting at level 81. While there is no maximum level cap, reaching level 252 is sufficient to gain all perks.
- Ranger perk may still be active after making Archery Legendary. The
|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|