Unarmed Combat in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is fighting without weapons or spells. This style of fighting is mainly used in brawling but unarmed characters can be created. Unlike other games, where Hand-to-Hand combat was a class skill, Skyrim removed this system and replaced it with a basic fighting mechanic.
Unarmed attacks while sneaking result in an exclusive choke-out finishing move with two variations as of Patch 1.5, if the damage is significant enough to kill the target.
Fists of Steel is a perk from the Heavy Armor Perk Tree which requires a Heavy Armor skill of 30 and at least one rank of Juggernaut. It adds the base armor rating of worn heavy gauntlets to unarmed damage.
Poison Talons from the vampire skill-tree adds 20 points of extra damage towards unarmed combat (making it particularly useful for both Khajiit and Argonians, as it allows them to reach the highest unarmed damage possible).
The Gloves of the Pugilist are unique set of gloves which bear the only Fortify Unarmed enchantment in Skyrim. They can be looted off of Gian the Fist in the Ratway. They can be disenchanted, and the enchantment can be placed on gloves, gauntlets, and rings for additional damage.
Adds 100 health and 20 claw damage for vampires. Listed as Khaajit claws, but stacks. (Dawnguard DLC item)
Men and Mer have a base damage of 4 and one of the Khajiit/Argonian racial abilities gives Khajiit characters 15 additional damage and Argonian characters 10 additional damage in unarmed combat. Argonians base damage is 34 as they can use their tail in a sideswipe power attack. (Note that while the Khajiit ability states they get 15 additional damage, examination of the game's code has revealed the actual number used to be 10. Which number is intended to be correct is unknown.) This does not include the 6 additional damage they have over men and mer, meaning an Argonian starts with a base unarmed damage of 20, and a Khajiit a base unarmed damage of 25.
- Approaching a guard with fists raised may cause them to say: "You come up to me, fists raised? You looking for a beating?" as well as "Sheath those claws, Khajiit," if the Dragonborn is of that race.
- Using the restoration potion loop glitch and the fortify unarmed enchantment, the Dragonborn may exceed the highest legitimate damage for unarmed, therefore making it a viable form of offense.
- One can also use the "Fists of Steel" perk with a glitch to make it more viable. Entering conversation with a follower, at the same time as transforming into a Werewolf, can allow one to wear as many heavy armor guantlets as they wish, increasing unarmed damage with every pair of heavy gauntlets worn. This requires a good deal of timing, but can lead to a powerful and progressive unarmed combat build, viable even on Legendary difficulty.
- Unarmed attacks against citizens will not affect Bounty.
- Having fists raised in Sneak mode in third-person prevents the use of the Silent Roll perk