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|
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 when a spell causes damage to the target; Sneak 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
- Main article: Trainers (Skyrim)
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.
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 training will also appear in their inventory screen when bartering, thus enabling the player to sell all of potions/poisons made trying to raise the skill, and get his money back.
Early perfection for certain skills
At the very beginning of the game, it is possible to raise Block, Heavy Armor, Light Armor, Illusion and Restoration all to 100 without using mods, the console, cheating, or even purchasing much. Furthermore, raising Conjuration to 100 quickly is also possible after this process is completed. Because these skills are normally fairly slow to level, this trick may greatly increase the enjoyment of the game: through the mastery of the skills themselves, the amount of health, magicka and stamina provided, and the massive amount of Perks provided. It is particularly useful to Warrior-style characters.
To do the trick, the character needs one Perk allocated to Novice Restoration, the Courage spell, (which needs to be bought,) a cheap full set of Light Armor of any kind, a cheap full set of Heavy Armor of any kind, and one cheap shield each of Light Armor and Heavy Armor. Except for the Courage spell, this will all mostly be found by the time the character fights his or her way out of Helgen. A full suit of the appropriate armor and the appropriate shield should be equipped, with the starting novice Restoration spell equipped in the other hand.
One wolf should be found and allowed to corner the character in such a way that it's constantly attacking, rather than running around. Then, the character needs to just stay put for the duration of the trick. Heavy Armor and Light Armor will increase to 100 as quickly as possible due to the constant quick attacks of the wolf. As the wolf does damage to the character, the Healing spell can be used to restore damage done, and this will cause the Restoration skill to increase quickly as well. To rapidly level Illusion, Courage should be rapidly spammed on the wolf when not using the Healing spell. To level Block to 100, the shield control should be changed to a button, and wedged down with a quarter so that the character is continuously blocking the wolf. After Block, Heavy Armor, and Light Armor are at 100, Restoration probably will not be at 100 yet. To max Restoration too, all armor should be removed, to maximize the damage dealt by the wolf and the amount of damage healed with the Restoration spell. It appears that selecting the Regeneration perk, (Healing spells heal 50% better,) actually SLOWS the rate of Restoration advancement, so this should not be selected until Restoration is at 100.
The Novice Restoration perk is needed for this trick because the starting Magicka won't be enough to fully heal all damage without it. It is possible to do the trick without allocating this perk, by using Block some of the time to allow Magicka to recover and heal without the perk allocated, but this increases the trick's difficulty. It is strongly recommended to have the Lover Stone active for this trick, as this will make the process much much faster. While it takes some time to finish this trick, it is extremely easy to manage, with just occasional player intervention to Heal damage, spam Courage and allocate level ups.
Increasing Conjuration to 100 is probably easier than anything else in the game: the character needs to kill a giant or similar powerful enemy, (an easy proposition after the abovementioned skills are maxed,) and to cast Soul Trap on the corpse repeatedly. The character can be at 100 in Conjuration in as fast as about an hour, with proper equipment. Since the character is working with a corpse in totally empty, non-hostile terrain, it makes sense to completely switch to gear that increases magicka, decreases Conjuration casting cost, and increases magicka recovery. Of course, for one not wishing to spend coin on such gear, all that is truly needed is the Soul Trap spell itself.
You can also increase One-Handed and Sneak to 100 very early in the game. All you need to do is enter the Helgen Keep with Ralof. You will pick up a war axe when you enter, and you will have to kill two Imperial soldiers. Ralof will tell you to pick up a key from one of the soldiers to unlock a door and move on. Pick up the Key from the Imperial, BUT DO NOT unlock the gate. Now is where you have to sneak and keep hitting Ralof in the back with the war axe you got. When Ralof's health is all the way down, he will just kneel, but then get back up and regenerate his health. Ralof will not die, so keep doing this until you get one-handed and sneak to 100. Ralof will not attack back, but save just in case. This way you can load a save if anything goes wrong.
Additionally, the Two-Handed skill can be increased using Ralof. By the time you enter the cave with a bear in it and are given a bow by Ralof you will have been able to loot an Iron Warhammer off of one of the previous enemies. After being given the bow Ralof will begin following you, so simply move away from the bear towards the waterfall in the room and constantly attack Ralof, he will respond in the same manner as when leveling One-Handed at the start of the dungeon.
To raise sneak to 100, you'll need the Flame Atronach summoning or higher, and a dagger with low damage. Summon the atronach and sneak attack it in the back and then wait about 5 sec and repeat.
Another easy way to increase sneak is to use sneak attacks on essential characters. Being that they are unkillable, this can be repeated indefinetly.
Alteration and Illusion
To raise Alteration and Illusion quickly, you will need enchantment high enough to where casting cost for spells are up to 25% less to cast. Which can be obtained through high enough enchanting or potions that you create and also the correct soul gems. You can enchant a necklace, ring, armor, and helm with " 25% less casting cost" of the respected field. With all four of these items enchanted, you will accomplish 100% free cost for destruction, illusion, alteration, Conjuartion or restoration. If feeling up to it, you can get enchanting up to 100 and put two spell types on your equipment (a.k.a alteration and illusion on the same gear). For alteration, you will need Detect Life. Go to the center market of Whiterun, and stand where you can see the most NPCs and cast Detect Life in both hands. Should take about 30 - 45 minutes to raise the field from 20 - 100. For Illusion, Courage is a good spell to use. Go to the Whiterun stables, (or anywhere and to anyone since it is not a hostile spell), and cast Courage on the horse there. Again should take about 30 - 45 minutes to raise Illusion to 100. You should not have to use any magicka due to the free casting cost now obtained through your enchanting.
Alternativly, if your magic pool is very high or your have a lot of skill in enchnting to reduce the cost, spamming paralzye during combat can be a good way to level up alteration as well as whatever other skill you want to level up since your target will be unable to strike back. Before the paralyze spell wears off, cast it again and continue to pummel your opponent with whatever you want. Please note, this takes a reasonably high skill in alteration already and a very high level in enchanting or a lot of magicka to make this a viable strategy.
Skill pointsIn 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
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>).
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.
|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)|
|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)|