Skyrim Character Build Guide

Skyrim Character Build Guide
Skyrim Character Build Guide by zeusodinra.

Welcome to my character build guide for the epic game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim!!

I very much welcome comments and feedback, please email me:


To jump to a section, do a 'Find' (Ctrl + F) and type in the Roman numeral
heading. For example to read up on Altmers, search for "IIa."

I. Abstract
  Ia. Overall
  Ib. Race
  Ic. Skills
  Id. Perks
  Ie. On Crafting Skills
  If. Armor Choice
  Ig. General Skill/Perk Tips
  Ih. On Leveling Up Tips
  Ii. MVPs (Most Valuable Perks)
  Ij. Other Notes

II. Race
  IIa. Altmer
  IIb. Argonian
  IIc. Bosmer
  IId. Breton
  IIe. Dunmer
  IIf. Imperial
  IIg. Khajiit
  IIh. Nord
  IIi. Orsimer
  IIj. Redguard

III. Skills
  IIIa. Archery
  IIIb. One Handed
  IIIc. Two Handed
  IIId. Block
  IIIe. Heavy Armor
  IIIf. Smithing
  IIIg. Enchanting
  IIIh. Conjuration
  IIIi. Destruction
  IIIj. Restoration
  IIIk. Alteration
  IIIl. Illusion
  IIIm. Alchemy
  IIIn. Lockpicking
  IIIo. Pickpocket
  IIIp. Speech
  IIIq. Sneak
  IIIr. Light Armor

IV. Perks
  IVa. Archery
  IVb. One Handed
  IVc. Two Handed
  IVd. Block
  IVe. Heavy Armor
  IVf. Smithing
  IVg. Enchanting
  IVh. Conjuration
  IVi. Destruction
  IVj. Restoration
  IVk. Alteration
  IVl. Illusion
  IVm. Alchemy
  IVn. Lockpicking
  IVo. Pickpocket
  IVp. Speech
  IVq. Sneak
  IVr. Light Armor
  IVs. Summary - PERK OVERVIEW

V. Standing Stones
  Va. Skill Learning SS
  Vb. Passive Bonus SS
  Vc. Greater Power SS

VI. Leveling Up

VII. Sample Builds
  VIIa. Archmage
  VIIb. Assassin
  VIIc. Champion
  VIId. Shield Knight
  VIIe. Archer Thief
  VIIf. Tiger-Dragon
  VIIg. Total Hybrid

VIII. Notable Items

  |  I. ABSTRACT  |

It's a fairly long guide so if you don't care to hear my reasoning or arguments
you can find my conclusions here.


 # Skyrim is very well designed and you can enjoy it with any strategy or none
   at all. The final choice is entirely up to you.

 # The absolute level cap is 81, at which level you'd have maxed out all your
   skills. This gives you only 80 total perk points, while 251 are needed to
   max out all available perks. Therefore...

 # Perk points are the most valuable commodity in the game and form the core
   of your build. Plan your character ahead and decide what perks you want.

 # Don't forget to prioritize your enjoyment over making a 'godly' character.

 # Two very great resources are the Elder Scrolls wiki pages:
   I suggest you visit these two sites to look up specific topics, as there
   is a vast wealth of information there.

  Ib. RACE

 # Race choice is not critical and all races are playable.

 # Spellcasters' best choice is Altmer for the extra magicka.

 # Pure warriors' best choice is Orc for the Berserk ability.

 # Breton has the best broad spectrum magic defense, well suited for hybrids.


 # Skill and Perk selection forms the basis of your character's playstyle.

 # Five character aspects: combat primary, combat secondary, damage reduction,
   healing and non-combat abilities.

 # Pick your skills so that you have all aspects covered (ie. at least one skill
   in each category).

 # Combat primary: Archery, 2-Handed, 1-Handed, Destruction.

 # Combat 2ndary: Block, Conjuration, Illusion, Alteration, Sneak, Smithing,
   Enchanting, Alchemy.

 # Damage Reduction: Heavy Armor, Light Armor, Alteration, Restoration.

 # Healing: Restoration, Alchemy, Enchanting (sorta).

 # Non-combat: Alteration, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Speech, Sneak.
   Smithing, Enchanting and Alchemy also fall here.

 # Around 5-7 is a good number of skills to focus on.


 # Skill and Perk selection forms the basis of your character's playstyle.

 # Over 200 total perks and only 80 perk points means you must make a choice.

 # You can pursue "best value" strategy and pick only the most effective perks.

 # Or you can make a more focused character and concentrate on some skills only.

 # Each skill takes anything from 3 to 14 perks to start to be effective. Some
   skills can be effective with no perk investment at all.


 # Crafting skills (Smithing, Enchanting, Alchemy) are very versatile and very
   powerful, but require a lot of effort and more than a little planning. If
   you want a godly character, you need these skills.

 # For example, Smithing can improve BOTH weapon and armor quality at a greater
   magnitude than the weapon/armor skills themselves, so it can be viewed as
   more valuable than the two skills combined.

 # I recommend all builds focus on at least one crafting skill, and preferably
   two. Focusing on all three would allow you to have a very powerful character
   but you may spend too much time crafting rather than playing the game.

 # It is possible to use crafting to break the game and create infinitely
   powerful items. I think it's way cheesy, not to mention pointless as the
   game is not THAT difficult.


I keep getting asked about armor choice (Light vs Heavy vs Unarmored) so I'll
put this section here.

 # No matter your choice, all 3 paths are able to reach the damage reduction
   cap of 80% DR (ie. displayed armor rating of 567).

 # Choose Light Armor: If you care about stamina, the Wind Walker perk (+50%
   Stamina regen) is too good to miss. Be prepared to have a tougher time
   leveling up and smithing though.

 # Choose Heavy Armor: If you don't care about stamina or if you don't want the
   extra smithing considerations involved with Light Armor. Leveling up and
   is a bit easier. If you're concerned about the weight, use the Steed stone.

 # Choose Robes: If you're a pure mage and want the better magicka regen bonus
   that Robes grant. Be warned that the lack of passive armor rating makes you
   more vulnerable, and that Alteration's armor spells cost a lot of magicka.

 # Light Armor pros: far less to carry, better sneaking, has a perk that grants
   +50% stamina regen, can still reach the armor cap.

 # Light Armor cons: lower armor rating, light smithing perks does not improve
   weapons except for Glass (you can take the heavy smithing perks instead {up
   to Dragon Armors which makes light and heavy armors both} and you'll have
   better weapons but your early and mid game armors suffer).

 # Heavy Armor pros: higher armor rating (easier to reach armor cap), heavy
   smithing perks improve both weapons and armor, larger variety of artifacts.

 # Heavy Armor cons: very heavy (consider using Steed Stone until you get the
   Conditioning perk), you miss out on the +50% stamina regen perk.

 # Robes pros: highest enchantment of spell cost reduction and magicka regen,
   if you level up Alteration to max you can get max damage reduction with no
   need of any armor.

 # Robes cons: no passive armor rating, Alteration armor spells use up a lot
   of magicka.


 # Weapon specialisation and "Critical hit" perks currently only take into
   account base damage ratings and are therefore underachievers.

 # Lockpicking and Speech are almost unavoidable and you will likely use them
   quite a lot no matter what. That said, investing perks is not necessary.

 # Magic skills DO NOT IMPROVE MAGNITUDES. Your Flames spell will deal the same
   damage whether your Destruction skill is at 15 or 100. Magic skills only
   affect MAGICKA COSTS, so with skill 100 you can cast those Flames for longer.

 # Tiered spell school perks (Apprentice, Adept, Expert, Master for each school)
   can help you a lot throughout the game, but know that max level Enchanting
   can produce gear that reduce spell cost to 0, rendering those perks obsolete.

 # Of course, if you choose those perks then you can save the enchantments for
   something else, so those perks are not really "wasted" per se.


 # When you level up you regain all health, magicka and stamina. You then must
   choose to improve one attribute. Finally, you gain a perk point.

 # You can "save" your level-up to use as an emergency "full-heal" in difficult
   fights. You can also save perk points to use later.

 # Warriors don't need Magicka. Level up Health/Stamina in roughly 2:1 ratio.

 # Mages don't need Stamina. Level up Health/Magicka in roughly 1:1 ratio at
   first then get more Health once you feel you have enough Magicka for spells.

 # Hybrids need Health > Magicka > Stamina. I like a roughly 4:2:1 ratio.

  Ii. MVPs (Most Valuable Perks)

 This list does not include prerequisites.

 # Archery  : Overdraw, Eagle Eye, Power Shot, Quickshot, Ranger, Bullseye

 # One Handed : Armsman, Dual Flurry*, Dual Savagery* (*= dual wielders only)

 # Two Handed  : Barbarian

 # Block : Shield Wall, Elem. Protection, Block Runner, Power Bash

 # Heavy Armor : Juggernaut, Conditioning, Tower of Strength, Reflect Blows

 # Smithing : Arcane Blacksmith, Daedric Smithing, Dragon Armors

 # Enchanting : Enchanter, Insightful E, Corpus E, Extra Effect

 # Conjuration : Mystic Binding, Elemental Potency, Twin Souls

 # Destruction : Impact, Augmented <element>

 # Restoration : Regeneration, Respite, Recovery, Avoid Death

 # Alteration : Magic Resistance, Stability, Atronach

 # Illusion : Illusion Dualcasting, Master of the Mind

 # Alchemy : Alchemist, Physician, Benefactor, Poisoner

 # Lockpicking : Golden Touch, Treasure Hunter, Locksmith, Unbreakable

 # Pickpocket : Poisoned, Extra Pockets, Perfect Touch

 # Speech : Merchant, Master Trader

 # Sneak : Deadly Aim, Assassin's Blade, Silence, Shadow Warrior

 # Light Armor : Unhindered, Wind Walker, Deft Movement


 # Dragon Shouts: there's nothing stopping you from getting all of them. Just
   look at a Shouts guide and pick the ones you like.

 # One note though: Assassin/sneaking characters will love Aura Whisper and
   Throw Voice and can make great use of those shouts. For everyone else Shouts
   are basically just icing on the cake (albeit very delicious icing).

 # Likewise items can be acquired by anyone. Two of the most important items I
   feel that everyone should get though are the Skeleton Key and the Black Star.

  |  II. RACE  |

There are 10 playable races in Skyrim. Each have their own bonuses. You can
also choose the gender of your character. This is entirely your preference and
the gender makes negligible difference to gameplay.

Each race gets a +10 bonus to one skill and +5 to five other skills. Such a
bonus will give you a slight advantage in early game, but it really does not
matter much at all. You can likely make up the 10 point difference in about
a half hour's play. Once you max the skill you need, there's no real difference
between races (having +10 will not take you to 110 skill level). You can safely
ignore the skill bonuses when considering racial choice.

The classic "mage" races (Altmer, Breton and Dunmer) also get an additional
starting spell each. This does not matter at all since anyone else can just
buy those spells for a few hundred septims very early in the game. All races
start with Healing (Restoration) and Flames (Destruction).

More important are the special abilities of each race. This is something that
you will live with throughout the whole game. Some races definitely have better
bonuses than others for certain character types.


GP means "Greater Power": it can be used once per day and usually lasts for 60s.
LP means "Lesser Power" and can be used as many times as you like.
Neither power costs any magicka to use.

You may think that Greater Powers are not that good since you can only use them
once a day. In practice, however, you'll find that most fights can be won with-
out too much trouble. It is those rare few "boss" fights or tough situations
that cause you to reload multiple times that present a challenge. These are the
times where effective use of your GPs will make a significant difference.

On to the races:

 IIa. Altmer
+50 Magicka
Highborn GP: Magicka regen increased tenfold (1/day for 60s)
Extra Starting Spell: Fury
+10 Illusion
+5 Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting, Restoration

The bonus magicka is the obvious main drawcard here. This is five level-ups
worth, quite a good deal. Since magicka regen is based on percentage of total
magicka pool, it also improves your magicka regen slightly.

The Highborn GP is a strong magicka recovery ability. Again, since it's based
on percentage, it will remain useful throughout the game as your magicka pool

Best character type: Mage (duh)

 IIb. Argonian
50% Resist Disease
Water Breathing (permanent)
Histskin GP: Health regen increased tenfold (1/day for 60s)
+10 Lockpicking
 +5 Alteration, Light Armor, Pickpocket, Restoration, Sneak

Disease isn't something that you contract too often and usually only when
fighting animals, which cease to cause problems after early game. When you do
contract a disease, it's a simple matter of visiting a shrine or drinking a
potion to cure it. Thus the 50% resist disease isn't really a great ability.

Similarly, there isn't that much underwater adventuring done in the game. In
those few occasions though, the water breathing ability comes in very handy but
again you can just take a potion or cast a spell.

The Histskin is a pretty good ability. It gives you something that you can fall
back on in a tight spot, without needing magicka, on top of your healing spells
and potions. This ability makes Argonians sturdier than average.

Best character type: any

 IIc. Bosmer
50% Resist Disease
50% Resist Poison
Command Animal GP: Target animal becomes your ally (1/day for 60s, 75ft range)
+10 Archery
 +5 Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak

Bosmers get resistance to both disease and poison. Neither of these occur very
often at all, and even when they do they are often just mildly annoying at
worst. This is not a great ability.

The Command Animal GP also isn't too great. Most animals are not that strong
except during the early game. You can use this ability to control mammoths and
use them to fight Giants early on, but there aren't that many opportunities to
do that.

With fairly weak bonuses that both only help in early game, Bosmer is a rather
sub-par race.

Best character type: any

 IId. Breton
25% Resist Magic
Dragonskin GP: Absorb magic 50%
Spell: Conjure Familiar
+10 Conjuration
 +5 Alchemy, Alteration, Illusion, Restoration, Speech

Traditionally a defensive mage race, Bretons once again live up to their rep.
Their passive provides good defense against all kinds of magical attacks.
Magic attacks, including dragon breaths, are quite common, certainly more so
than poison or disease. This bonus is quite valuable.

Against especially dangerous mages, Dragonskin provides even greater protection
as well as mana recovery. You can use the extra mana either to cast attack
spells or restoration spells for even greater defense.

Best character type: any

 IIe. Dunmer
50% Resist Fire
Ancestor's Wrath GP: Enemies at melee range take 8pt fire dmg/s (1/day for 60s)
Spell: Sparks
+10 Destruction
 +5 Alchemy, Alteration, Illusion, Light Armor, Sneak

Dunmers have a far more specific magic protection than Bretons: 50% fire resist.
This makes fighting Fire Dragons and Fire Mages much easier, but doesn't help
against Frost or Shock. Hence the bonus is slightly worse than the Bretons'.

The Ancestor's Wrath GP will decimate foes at lower levels, but since it stays
at 8/s it does not do well against stronger enemies. A mediocre ability at best.

Best character type: any

 IIf. Imperial
Imperial Luck (permanent effect: wherever gold is found, Imperials get a bonus)
Voice of the Emperor GP: Calm nearby people (1/day for 60s in 75ft range)
+10 Restoration
 +5 Block, Destruction, Enchanting, Heavy Armor, 1-Handed

Imperials get the only economy bonus in the game. Whenever one finds gold, they
will find a little more. I don't know how much they get exactly, but most of
your gold will still come from selling loot instead of just picking up gold.

Voice of the Emperor is actually quite good. You can use it when surrounded, or
after backstabbing. There's room to get creative here. I don't think this works
against non-living enemies though (undead, machines, etc).

Best character type: any

 IIg. Khajiit
Claws give stronger unarmed attack (base 15 damage)
Eye of Night LP: Night vision for 60s (as many times as you like)
+10 Sneak
 +5 Alchemy, Archery, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, 1-Handed

Khajiits have probably the most unique bonuses. Their stronger unarmed attack
opens the possibility of playing a pure hand-to-hand character. It also gives
you a huge advantage in Brawls. The Eye of Night can come in handy in dark
dungeons, although it is largely just a convenience factor.

An interesting build is a heavy-armored Khajiit mage that falls back to using
fists when cornered or out of magicka.

The Khajiit is otherwise a vanilla race but with a unique feline look.

Best character type: any

 IIh. Nord
50% Resist Frost
Battle Cry GP: Enemies in 60ft area flee in fear (1/day for 30s)
+10 2-Handed
 +5 Block, Light Armor, 1-Handed, Smithing, Speech

Similar to Dunmers, Nords get specific protection from an element (Frost). The
occurence of Fire and Frost are roughly equal. Again I'd rather have the broad
protection that Bretons get, but this is still quite a good bonus.

The Battle Cry is another panic-button ability. It only lasts 30s instead of 60
like Voice of the Emperor, but during this time you can still deal damage to
them. To take advantage of this, you'd want a fleet-footed character that can
chase down the enemy.

Best character type: Warrior with good mobility

 IIi. Orsimer
Berserk GP: Deal 2x and receive 1/2 physical damage (1/day for 60s)
+10 Heavy Armor
 +5 Block, Enchanting, 1-Handed, Smithing, 2-Handed

Unlike other races, orcs or orsimer only get one single bonus ability. However,
this is likely the best GP in the game. For the duration of the Berserk the Orc
is essentially 4x stronger: dealing double damage while receiving only half.
This will make those tough boss fights much easier. Note however that this GP
does not affect magic damage.

Best character type: Warrior

 IIj. Redguard
50% Resist Poison
Adrenaline Rush GP: Tenfold Stamina regen for 60s
+10 1-Handed
 +5 Alteration, Archery, Block, Destruction, Smithing

Again, poison isn't something that you have to deal with very often. Having this
resistance will make little difference to gameplay.

The Adrenaline Rush stamina regen bonus allows you to spam power attacks, sprint
and chase enemies or sprint and flee from them while it's active. It's also good
for block-bash characters. A great ability for a warrior to have. On the flip
side, it would be wasted on a predominantly spellcasting character.

Best character type: Warrior who likes power attacks


In the end everything will of course come down to personal preference, however,
there are some suggestions I can make:

 # If you want a primarily spellcasting character, it's hard to go past Altmer.
   The +50 Magicka gives them a rather significant advantage.

 # Defensively, I like Bretons best for their broad magic protection. Then comes
   Nord as their GP is better than Dunmers. Argonians also make good defensive
   characters in a general sense. All these races make good hybrid (fighter-mage
   or fighter-thief) characters.

 # Aggressive pure fighters do well with either Orc or Redguard.

 # If you ever want a hand-to-hand (joke) character, go with Khajiit of course.

 # In my opinion Altmer, Breton and Orc are the top-tier races this time around.

 # I would say Bosmer, Imperials and Khajiit are overall the weaker races. That
   said, they don't have debilitating weaknesses and are still totally playable.

  |  III. SKILLS  |
There are a total of 18 skills in Skyrim, 6 each in the Warrior, Mage and Thief
disciplines. On your Skills screen, Warrior skills (Archery, One Handed, Two
Handed, Block, Heavy Armor and Smithing) fall under the Red constellations.
The Mage schools of magic (Enchanting, Conjuration, Destruction, Restoration,
Alteration and Illusion) make up the Blue constellations. The Thief aptitudes
(Alchemy, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Speech, Sneak and Light Armor) are depicted
in the green constellations.

You can choose to use any or all of the skills. Skills will improve as you use
them and this will in turn level you up. Use too many skills, however, and they
will all be low level and make you a wishy-washy character. Use too few skills
and you lack versatility and tend to be boring to play.

A good number of "primary" skills to use is about 5-7 skills. Your selection
should include skills for attack, defense and some utility as well. Feel free
to dabble in the other skills too. Just because you don't focus on those skills
doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't use them occasionally.

  IIIa. Archery

Archery is the use of bows and arrows. The higher your skill, the higher damage
you deal, plain and simple. Furthermore, the longer you draw your bow (up to 1s)
the higher damage you will deal.

The obvious major advantage with Archery of course is that you can attack from
a distance. You also get the damage rating of your bow plus your arrow and this
tends to be higher per attack than other weapon types. The bows' rate of fire,
however, are quite slow compared to how fast you can swing a melee weapon. You
also move slower with your bow drawn and Sneak attacks have a lower damage
multiplier. You cannot block while wielding a bow, but you can do a melee range
shove with your bow, so you're not completely vulnerable in melee range.

One final caveat is that unlike melee weapons you need to find ammo for your
bow. Lower damage arrows can be looted in large quantities, but if you want the
best arrows at higher levels you may have to fork out cash. Thankfully you can
carry as much arrows as you like (they weigh 0).

Archery improves whenever you hit enemies with your arrows.

  IIIb. One Handed

One Handed covers the use of one handed weapons including Swords, Daggers, Maces
and War Axes. Again, higher skill means higher damage.

One Handed has the distinct advantage of being the only weapon skill that leaves
one hand free. With your "off-hand" you can either have a spell on the ready or
wield another one-hand weapon for even greater damage, albeit losing the ability
to block oncoming attacks. You can also bear a shield for better defense and
blocking. One Handed offers the best versatility in terms of fighting style.

Improve your One Handed skill by hitting enemies with your weapon.

  IIIc. Two Handed

Two Handed weapons include the Greatsword, Battleaxe and Warhammer. For the last
time, the better you are at the skill the more damage you will deal.

The two handed weapons deal more damage per hit than one handed, but you do not
have the option of using a shield or a spell on your off-hand. You can still
block using your weapon, but it won't be as effective as using a shield. You
also don't get the extra armor rating and possible enchantment from your shield.

Two Handed is the only weapon style that gives you an AOE attack (with a perk).
Power attacks made using big weapons are devastating and tend to stagger enemies
more often. Two Handed is perhaps the least versatile weapon style, neither
does it have the best DPS compared to dual wield but it's big and looks great.
One thing that it does well is bashing in conjunction with the Block skill, as
you're using a weapon rather than a shield to bash enemies.

Improve your Two Handed skill by hitting enemies with your weapon.

  IIId. Block

Blocking physical attacks will result in you taking much less damage. The higher
your skill, the less damage you would take while blocking be it with a shield or
weapon. You will also get staggered less. Remember that blocking with a shield
is always more effective. Unfortunately you cannot move quickly while blocking,
at least until you get the high level perk Block Runner.

You can get a perk that protects against elemental damage. You can also get
perks that improve your bashing counterattacks. To bash, perform a block using
your left hand trigger, hold it, then attack with the right hand trigger.

Whenever you block a physical attack, your Block skill improves. The more damage
you block, the faster it improves (hence it helps to fight stronger enemies).
You can also improve Block by bashing enemies.

  IIIe. Heavy Armor

The Heavy Armor skill governs the use of Iron, Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony,
Daedric and Dragonplate armors. Higher skill level gives you higher armor
ratings from the four pieces of armor (Helmet, Armor, Gauntlets and Boots) as
well as from Heavy Armor Shields.

Heavy armor is far more protective than light armor in the early game. However,
it is also noisier, weigh a lot more, and cost more stamina when sprinting.
Later in the game, you can get perks that eliminate encumbrance for both types
of armor. You can also reach the armor cap (80% damage reduction, or 567 armor
rating) with either type of armor.

Power gamers are advised to choose Light Armor instead. It has better perks and
requires less perks overall and can match the damage reduction of Heavy Armor
with the right setup.

Heavy armor is best suited for static characters who do not rely much on using
stamina (ie. power attack, bashing, sprinting). Oddly enough this means they
may actually be better suited for Mages than Warriors. Unarmed characters and
those worried about getting staggered should also choose heavy armor since
there are perks that improve these.

This skill improves by taking damage while wearing heavy armor. The more damage
you take, the faster it improves (hence it helps to fight stronger enemies).

  IIIf. Smithing

Smithing allows you to create and improve various pieces of weapons and armor.
This works in tandem with your weapon skills to improve your damage output, and
with your armor skills to improve your armor rating. Because it improves both
aspects, Smithing is a very effective skill to have.

Smithing also gives you access to good quality weapons earlier than you could
expect to find them as loot or in shops. It also guarantees armor availability
if you're a fan of the "Matching Set" perk in your armor skill tree.

If you want to power-game and have the strongest character possible, Smithing is
a must-have skill. The drawback is that you have to practise your Smithing out
of combat, and this may be a chore for some people.

Smithing is raised whenever you use a Forge to make items, or a Grindstone or a
Workbench to improve them. The item type/quality does not affect the learn rate.

  IIIg. Enchanting

Enchanting allows you to add magical effects to weapons and apparel. The skill
level affects the magnitude of enchantments as well as the number of charges on
weapon enchantments.

Enchanting is another powerhouse skill that can enhance various aspects of your
character, from attributes to skills. You can buy or loot enchanted equipment,
but only through the use of the Enchanting skill can you fine-tune and optimize
your enchantments.

If you're going to use Enchanting, take it all the way to 100 as you can get a
perk that allows you to place 2 enchantments on an item, essentially doubling
your enchanting capability.

Raise your Enchanting skill by using soul gems to recharge weapons or by using
an Arcane Enchanter table to either Disenchant items or create new enchantments
on items.

  -->> A quick note before we continue:
 For all spellcasting schools of Magic,
 eg. Flames spell always deals 8 dps
 whether you're on 15 or 100 skill level.
 Skill level only REDUCES MAGICKA COST.   <<--

  IIIh. Conjuration

Conjuration is a school of magic revolving around souls and summoning. The list
of spells include Bound Weapons, Soul Trap, Raise Dead, Summoning and Banishing.
There are no more Bound Armor spells.

Conjuration's primary use is for summoning or raising a creature to aid you in
combat. Such an ally will aid both your offense by attacking and your defense
by distracting enemies and tanking damage. You can also banish enemy summons.
Another use is Bound Weapons, which essentially "summons" a weapon for you to
use. Finally, you can use Soul Trap to fill soul gems.

Conjuration is a great secondary skill to have because of the largely "fire and
forget" nature of its spells. You can use your Conjuration spells at the start
of combat and use your other skills to fight while your spells are active.

Conjuration improves when you cast Conjuration spells *IN COMBAT*. The only
exception (a bug) is casting Soul Trap on a corpse.

  IIIi. Destruction

Perhaps the flashiest school of magic, Destruction allows you to cast spells in
the form of Fire, Ice or Lightning that directly harm your enemies.

Destruction is basically its own "weapon style". Each elemental type has their
own special effect: Fire deals damage over time, Ice drains enemy stamina and
Shock damages their Magicka pool.

Be warned that there are no ways to increase magic DPS other than gaining perks
and learning stronger spells. Once you've learnt the best spells and perks, you
can only deal more damage by casting your spells for longer durations. This
means you need the Magicka pool as well as durability to survive longer battles.

  IIIj. Restoration

Restoration is the art of healing and protection. This school's spell list
includes Heal spells, Ward spells and Turn Undead.

Healing spells come in 2 varieties: heal self and heal others. You can use the
latter type to aid your summons or companions. Wards are channeling spells that
increase your armor and absorb incoming magic damage while it's channeled. In a
way this can be likened to "magical blocking". Finally, Turn Undead spells make
Undead up to a certain level flee from you.

Healing spells are obviously valuable for everyone unless you can avoid damage
completely. With the right perk, you can also recharge stamina, making this
school valuable to power-attacking warriors.

Restoration skill will improve as long as the spells you cast restore lost
health, absorb damage or affect undeads. Casting heals while on full health, for
example, will not raise your skill.

  IIIk. Alteration

The Alteration school contains several types of utility spells, including Light,
Armor, Detect, Telekinesis, Transmute, Waterbreathing and Paralyze. It also has
a spell that converts health into magicka. Open Lock and Feather spells are
notably missing from the list.

Armor spells improves armor rating for 60s. The magnitudes are quite significant
in the early game, but cannot compare to real armor in the late game. The other
spells are largely utility and most require you to be an Adept (skill level 50).
Paralyze requires Expert level (skill 75).

Alteration improves whenever the spells are cast and is not ineffectual. Armor
spells must be cast in combat, Detect must reveal a target, Waterbreathing must
be done while standing in a body of water, etc.

  IIIl. Illusion

Illusion spells toy with the mind of others, causing Fear, Fury, Courage or
Calmness. Illusion can also be used to reveal a path to your destination, to
Muffle your movements and even make yourself invisible.

Illusion is well suited for more tricky combatants. You can for example perform
a backstab on someone then calm them to prevent retaliation. The Invisibility
and Muffle spells are obviously perfect for Sneaking characters but Invisibility
isn't readily available until you have a moderately high skill level (~70).

As with everything, spells you cast must be effective for it to improve your
skill. Illusion is easier to raise since spells like Muffle can be cast anytime
to improve your skill.

  IIIm. Alchemy

Previously in the Mage skill realm, Alchemy is now the crafting skill of the
Thieves. You can mix ingredients together at an Alchemy Lab to create potions
and poisons alike, with a wide multitude of effects. This is a versatile skill
that should be included in those ultimate power game builds, albeit one that
requires a lot of effort to utilize properly, more so than Smithing or Enchant.

Because of the plethora of effects, Alchemy can be used as a substitute for
various skills. You can make Paralyze poisons instead of using Alteration or
Invisibility potions to simulate the Illusion spell, for example. Alchemy,
however, is most potent when used to boost your existing skills. You can create
potions to maximize further your Enchanting an Smithing skills to create the
ultimate gear, or potions to increase your weapon damage.

Alchemy can be improved by crafting potions at labs and by eating ingredients.

  IIIn. Lockpicking

Lockpicking is simply the skill of opening locked doors and containers. Note
that this also requires some real life skills in playing the lockpicking "mini

You can complete the majority of quests without picking a single lock and just
finding the keys each time. However, many optional treasure caches and some
shortcuts require lockpicking. I for one am loath to leave the loot untouched
so I always use lockpicking. You will need lockpicks, which can be looted or
bought for a small price. The unbreakable lockpick (Skeleton Key) thankfully
made a return in Skyrim also.

You can improve Lockpicking by successfully unlocking locks. You even improve
by a small amount if you break a lockpick in the attempt.

  IIIo. Pickpocket

Steal stuff right from people's pockets! This can be used to improve your wealth
in conjunction with or as an alternative to gathering loot. With a certain perk
you can even plant poisons onto people to harm them.

There's not much else to say here. Use Pickpocket for profit and use the money
to buy equipment and supplies. Note that Pickpocket is the *only* way you can
damage enemies using just Thief skills.

Level up your Pickpocket skills by... wait for it... picking pockets. Higher
value items yield greater skill advancement when stolen.

  IIIp. Speech

Speech denotes the ability to convince people to heed your demands as well as
your bartering and mercantile prowess. You will get better buying and selling
prices with higher Speech, and have greater success with Intimidate, Persuade
or Bribe in certain conversations.

Note that there are usually other options even if you fail to convince people
in dialogue. Better prices are always good, but with more looting or stealing
you can get more money too. Speech is one of those skills that are very hard to
avoid, since chances are you will buy and sell a lot of items.

Speech can be improved by trading with merchants and succeeding in manipulative

  IIIq. Sneak

Sneaking is the art of moving around undetected, the better you are at it the
harder it is for people to notice you. Sneaking success is adversely affected
when you can be more easily seen or heard, ie. when you have heavier armor,
wield large weapons, exposed to light, in enemy's line of sight or move quickly.

You can use the skill to avoid conflict entirely or to begin conflict with a
sneak attack, which deals more damage. You can get perks which greatly improves
sneak attack damage multiplier, especially with daggers.

You can improve Sneak by sneaking undetected in the presence of others. A
particularly funny way is placing a bucket on a person's head so that they can't
see you, then sneaking around them.

  IIIr. Light Armor

Light Armor covers the use of Fur, Hide, Leather, Elven, Studded, Forsworn,
Scaled, Glass and Dragonscale armors. Again, higher skill translates to higher
armor rating.

Light armor is well suited for those who value mobility and/or stealth. In the
early game, however, it does not protect you anywhere nearly as much as heavy
armor does. Once again, in the late game you can still reach the armor cap with
Light Armor (80% physical damage reduction, or displayed armor rating of 567).

The main drawcard for Light Armor is a perk that improves stamina regeneration.
Hence it is great for characters that use a lot of stamina for whatever reason.
You also need less perks overall compared to Heavy Armor. Power gaming players
are advised to use Light Armor because of these reasons.

This skill improves by taking damage while wearing light armor. The more damage
you take, the faster it improves (hence it helps to fight stronger enemies).


Besides the broad disciplines of Warrior (W), Mage (M) and Thief (T), skills
can be more usefully categorised by FUNCTION or PURPOSE. Thus classified, each
skill represents a particular aspect of the character. Note that a skill can
sometimes cover two or more aspects.

I identified five categories or aspects of a character. A well rounded character
will have ALL five bases covered. Here they are:

  1. Combat Primary

This is the method by which you will deal most of your combat damage. You should
focus on preferably just ONE, or at most TWO of these to maximize potential.

 # Archery (W) : pretty straightforward
 # 2-Handed (W) : pretty straightforward
 # 1-Handed (W) : pretty straightforward
 # Destruction (M) : pretty straightforward
 # Conjuration (M) : using just summons for damage can be awkward, but possible
 # *unarmed* : if you want to try this, pick Khajiit and the Heavy Armor skill

  2. Combat Secondary

These are skills you use to complement your primary skill. You can improve your
damage output or introduce new dimensions to your overall tactics. You can pick
any number of these skills as you like. Just be warned that choosing too many
spellcasting skills will put a lot of strain on your Magicka pool.

 # Block (W) : parry oncoming attacks, can also be used to bash/counterattack
 # Conjuration (M) : summon a helper, cast soul trap and use bound weapons
 # Illusion (M) : mess with your enemy's mind, improve your sneaking ability
 # Alteration (M) : boost your armor rating, detect enemies, cast paralysis
 # Sneak (T) : perform sneak attacks, sneak to a better position or just hide
 # Smithing (W) : improve the quality of both weapons and armor
 # Enchanting (M) : add enchantments that boost attack, defense or skills
 # Alchemy (T) : use potions to boost weapon skill or recover stamina, etc.
   use poisons to enhance damage, induce paralysis, etc.
 # Restoration (M) : Turn Undead spells, recover stamina with the Respite perk

  3. Damage Reduction

Everyone should have some means to reduce oncoming damage received and improve
their durability. This means two things: armor rating and magic resistance.
Being able to last longer in a fight means you can deal damage for longer.

 # Heavy Armor (W) : pretty straightforward, choose only one armor skill
 # Light Armor (T) : pretty straightforward, choose only one armor skill
 # Alteration (M) : boost armor rating with spells, magic resistance with perks
 # Restoration (M) : use Ward spells to boost armor, also blocks spell damage
 # Enchanting (M) : special mention as you can enchant magic resistance
 # Smithing (W) : simply to increase your armor rating (still need armor skill)
 # Block (W) : another special mention for a perk that reduces spell damage

  4. Healing

Let's face it, chances are you're gonna suffer some damage. You *need* healing
to have some staying power in a tough battle and to prepare for the next fight.
This is on top of your damage reduction skills, for even the toughest characters
will still get hurt.

 # Restoration (M) : the most obvious choice
 # Alchemy (T) : you can create your own healing potions
 # Enchanting (M) : in this case you can enchant to boost Healing Rate, note
      that this isn't really that effective
 # Speech (T) : you can choose to rely solely on looted/bought potions, Speech
         is the only somewhat relevant skill in that it reduces prices

  5. Non-Combat

The game is not entirely spent in combat, there are other things you can do too.
These skills cover those non-combat situations.

   Smithing (W) : craft pretty jewelry, weapons and armor purely for profit
   Alteration (M) : you can, uh, light up the dark and turn iron to gold. yay?
   Enchanting (M) : you can enchant things and sell them for cash too
   Alchemy (T) : likewise you can become a potion vendor
   Lockpicking (T) : pretty straightforward
   Pickpocket (T) : pretty straightforward
   Speech (T) : talk your way with people and get better store prices
   Sneak (T) : you can avoid some fights entirely!

  |  IV. Perks  |

Now comes arguably the most important part to consider when making a character
build: the Perk choices.

I'm not going to list what each perk does. You can simply look it up on your
Skills screen in game, or visit one of the excellent elder scrolls wiki sites
for more info:

Now note that in order to gain every perk, you need over 200 perk points. You
only level up to 81 for the absolute level cap, giving you a maximum of 80 perk

You should only plan on 40-50 "core" perks since leveling up becomes slower at
higher levels. You can plan for 80 total expanded perks if you're you're going
to play that long on one character.

In this section I will give you my recommendations on perks to pick whether you
will dabble in a particular skill or specialise in it. Note that dabbling in
this case means that you spend less perk points, not that you have less skill
points. You can reach level 100 in all skills, but you cannot get all the perks.

  IVa. Archery

Number of Perks: 9
Total Perk points: 16
Recommended Perks: 4 (dabblers)
   14 (specialist)

Perks for Archery come in two branches which converge on Bullseye. Both sides
have great top tier perks: Quick Shot improves drawing speed considerably and
Ranger gives much needed mobility.

Bow specialists would do well to maximize their potential and pick all perks.
Only Critical Shot level 2-3 are discouraged since criticals seem to only take
into account base damage and are hence rather poor.

People who dabble in archery arguably get the best bang for their buck by going
up the left hand branch to Quick Shot, getting zoom and stagger on the way.
Archery is quite good to dabble in since sometimes you just need to attack from
range if your primary combat skill is melee.

  IVb. One Handed

Number of Perks: 10
Total Perk points: 21
Recommended Perks: 7-9 (single wield)
   10 (dual wield)

This tree doesn't really have long branches, the longest branch only has three
components. There's a section for power attacks, a short branch each for sword
/axe/mace and the dual-wielding branch.

Armsman is probably the best bet here and you can do well maxing this out. Power
attacks deal quite a bit more damage so it's well worth spending perks here. You
can get all of them, or just choose the power attack that you think you'll use
most often. Dual-wielders obviously need the extra 3 perks. They can save on
perks by just choosing one type of power attack.

The Swordsman/Hack & Slash/Bone Breaker perks are actually not recommended, as
in practice they actually grant very sub-par damage bonuses since they only
affect base damage ratings.

There isn't a clear cut-off optimal point for dabblers in one-handed. Just take
however many perks you can afford. Or maybe not at all, since this skill is
rather pointless to dabble in.

  IVc. Two Handed

Number of Perks: 9
Total Perk points: 19
Recommended Perks: 7-10 (specialists)

This is very similar to the One-Handed skill tree, except there's no dual-wield
and there's one extra power attack type.

The deal here is similar again, max out Barbarian and get Champion's Stance to
get a power attack boosting perk (either just one or up to four if you like all
of them).

Again, the specific greatsword/battleaxe/warhammer perks are discouraged since
they seem to only add very little damage.

There isn't a clear cut-off optimal point for dabblers in two-handed. Just take
however many perks you can afford. Or maybe not at all, since this skill is
rather pointless to dabble in.

  IVd. Block

Number of Perks: 9
Total Perk points: 13
Recommended Perks: 4 (shield dabblers)
   3-8 (two-handed weapon specialists)
   13 (dedicated shield specialists)

The Block tree has a branch for advanced shield techniques and one for bashing
techniques, converging at Shield Charge. There's also one other perk (Quick

First of all be warned that level 1 Shield Wall gives you +20% blocking, but
subsequent levels ONLY GIVE YOU +5%. Dedicated specialists may still choose to
level it anyway. There aren't really any dud perks in this tree; you can max it
out if you're a block specialist.

Two handed weapon specialists do not benefit from any perk that specifically
requires a shield, but they can still improve their bashing. Three points for
Deadly Bash is quite cost-effective.

For dabblers, 1x Shield Wall and Elemental Protection gives you great value.
Block Runner also makes using a shield much more practical, for one extra point.

  IVe. Heavy Armor

Number of Perks: 8
Total Perk points: 12
Recommended Perks: 8 (specialists who also excel in crafting)
   12 (specialists who don't plan to use much crafting)
   4 (top notch crafter with broad skill selection)

Heavy armor specialists will love both the top-tier perks: Conditioning and
Reflect Blows. As such you should just get all 8 perks. Unarmed characters in
particular need at least Fists of Steel but you may as well get Conditioning.

If your crafting skills are good, you don't need extra points in Juggernaut
to hit the armor cap of 567 in the mid to late game. In fact if you are very
good at all 3 crafting skills, Well Fitted and Matching Set may also not be
necessary. If so, it's probably best to skip the right hand branch entirely.
You can also skip the left hand branch if you plan to make prolonged use of
the Steed Stone's bonus, which eliminates armor encumbrance.

If you don't plan to use much crafting, you might need all the perks to reach
the armor cap.

  IVf. Smithing

Number of Perks: 10
Total Perk points: 10
Recommended Perks: 2 (dabblers)
   6-7 (specialists)
   10 (dedicated specialists who wear light armor)

This tree is simply divided into smithing for Light or Heavy armors, with one
extra perk for improving enchanted weapons and armor. Dabblers should at least
work to get up to this Arcane Blacksmith perk.

Dragon Armors deserve a special mention here as it is the only perk that can
be used to make and improve BOTH light and heavy armors. Heavy Dragonbone
Armor is actually of a lower quality than Daedric Armor, but the ingredients
(Dragon Bone) can be acquired more easily than the Daedra Hearts required for
Daedric armor. Since Smithing can be power-leveled in the early game, and
since dragon bones and scales are available from the early game, it's very
possible to shoot straight for Dragon Armors. This way you can get very high
quality armors at much lower level than other armors are available.

For Heavy Armor users this tree is quite straightforward: take the right hand
path up to Daedric Smithing (Daedric Armor is better than Dragonplate Armor).
This will give you the best possible weapons and armor for 6 perk points.

For Light Armor users it's a little more complicated. You can take the left
hand path and get all the light armors from early to late game culminating in
the best light armor (Dragonscale) for 6 perks. HOWEVER, the best weapons still
require Daedric Smithing. In fact the Light Armor branch can only help you
improve Steel and Glass weapons. If you want both the best weapon and Light
Armor, you need to still take the right hand path up to Dragon Armors (7 perk
points) or even take all the perks so you can have the best weapons and armors
at all times. Be thankful that Light Armor requires less perks than Heavy Armor.

Smithing, as with the other crafting skills Enchanting and Alchemy, is very
powerful because of its versatility. Note that good smithing can have a greater
impact on your weapon damage and armor rating than the weapon or armor skill.

  IVg. Enchanting

Number of Perks: 9
Total Perk points: 13
Recommended Perks: 4 (dabblers)
   8-10 (specialists)

There are three branches here, the central branch is for apparel enchantments,
the left branch chiefly for weapon enchantments and the right for the use of
soul gems and enchanted weapons in general.

The main drawcard here is the top tier perk Extra Effect, allowing you to put
two enchantments on an item, essentially doubling your enchanting prowess. This
is what dabblers should aim for (even if it requires 100 skill).

To absolutely max out your enchantments, you need Enchanter level 5 and both
Fire and Frost Enchanter for the two damage effects on your weapon. You don't
need Storm as well, since shock doesn't offer more damage than frost and fire.
If you don't care for maxing weapon damage, you can skip the Fire and Frost.

If find that Soul Squeezer and Soul Siphon are both very iffy abilities. Siphon
especially is a bit dubious, not least because half the enemies are humans.

Enchanting is a VERY powerful skill because of its versatility. It's well worth
spending perks here rather than other skills. With max enchanting skills and
perks you can, for example, create gear that reduce the costs of spells in a
schools of magic to zero, thereby foregoing the need for the magicka-reducing
perks of that school (4 perks worth in each school). You can get also get +100%
to +160% in most skills through enchantments, vs. the +100% or less that you
get from the perks of that skill.

  -->> A good time to make another note:
 Because you can eventually enchant to reduce spell cost of specific
 spell schools to zero, you may be tempted to skip the Apprentice and
 higher tier perks for spell schools. Do so if you need to skimp on
 perk points but realise that it will make your early to mid game much
 harder. Taking the perks also means that you can use your enchantments
 for other effects  <<--

  IVh. Conjuration

Number of Perks: 15
Total Perk points: 16
Recommended Perks: 4-9 (summoners)
   2 (bound weapon users)

OK! There are like 5 branches on this tree but basically there are three things
you can specialise in: bound weapons, summon atronach and raise undead.

First of all let me say that I prefer Atronachs over Undead because you can
summon atronachs anywhere whereas undeads need a dead body first. Either way,
you want to eventually get Twin Souls so you can have two summons, needing 4
perks if you raise undead and 5 if you summon atronachs. Either way you may
also want to spend extra points on the Summoner perk but I don't recommend it.

The right hand branch then reduces the magicka costs of spells. If you are a
dedicated Conjurer you may want to pick these, but it also depends on things
such as your magicka pool and item enchantments. It isn't so important for a
Conjurer as their spells don't need to be cast repeatedly in battle. Note that
you never need Master Conjuration perk: the summons last until killed so you
can just cast it out of combat and let your magicka regenerate.

If you use bound weapons, definitely get Mystic Binding for better quality. The
other two perks up this branch are a bit dubious. Soul Stealer casts Soul Trap,
but if you're using a bound weapon it can't have enchantments on it for you to
use the soul gem on. In any case there are other ways to soul trap that does
not require you to spend a precious perk point. Oblivion Binding is just way
too specific and probably only occur in 5% or less of battles.

If you use both summoning and bound weapons, get both sets of perks. The Dual
Casting only improves duration but I find that durations for Conjuration spells
are good enough as it is. Atromancy increases duration too, and master level
summons last indefinitely, so you don't need the dual cast perk.

  IVi. Destruction

Number of Perks: 14
Total Perk points: 17
Recommended Perks: 5 (minimum for effective Destructionists)
   14 (dedicated specialists)

Aside from the usual tiered (Apprentice, Adept, etc) and dual-casting perks,
Destruction has a branch each for Flames, Frost and Shock specialisations as
well as another perk for using Rune spells.

Five is the minimum for effective use of Destruction magic. I won't say dabbler,
because even dedicated elementalists can do perfectly well with just these five
perks. You need the starting perk, Dual Casting for more attacking power, Impact
to stagger enemies (preventing them from effectively counterattacking), and two
levels of Augment for the element of your choice. Shock is perhaps the best
choice, since few if any enemies has strong resistance to it. The final perk in
each specialisation only works when enemies are on low health, at which point
you would soon blast them to death anyway. It can make a difference in very
close fights but it's not the best value for your perk points.

For those who wish to focus fully in Destruction magic, you would take the
tiered perks and Rune Mastery. Complete the element specialisation branch, then
pick and max another element for variety.

  IVj. Restoration

Number of Perks: 12
Total Perk points: 13
Recommended Perks: 5-6 (anyone who uses Res, which should be everyone)
   10 (specialists, especially mages)

Other than the tiered perks, this tree is pretty much all over the place with
no long branches. Restoration is my pick for the best and most convenient school
of magic. Skyrim will be a much tougher and far more annoying game if you don't
use Restoration.

Avoid Death is an obvious drawcard with Recovery being excellent too as it can
help all other schools of magic. Anyone who uses healing spells will be crazy to
skip Regeneration. Respite is also a godsend, especially for warriors who can
use the stamina for power attacks. It also means you can sprint all the time
when running from place to place, which you do a lot in this game.

Dual Casting is surprisingly not recommended for healing spells. The Dual-cast
perk gives you 220% spellpower but at the price of 280% magicka cost, which is
ineffecient for healing and grants no other benefit (unlike Destruction with
Impact or Illusion in general). Know that you can still cast your healing spell
with both hands without the perk, ie. 200% healing for 200% cost.

Other than those core perks, mages in particular would want to take every perk.
Necromage helps all magic schools against Undeads, extra point in Recovery will
boost magicka regen even more, and the tiered perks will save your magicka for
other spells. You can likely stop at Adept Restoration since higher level spells
tend to heal too much especially if cast with both hands.

  IVk. Alteration

Number of Perks: 10
Total Perk points: 14
Recommended Perks: 3-5 (dabblers)
   11-12 (specialists)

Unlike other schools, Alteration's tiered perks runs right up the centre with
other perks branching out of them.

Of particular note is Magic Resistance, something that everyone can use. The
Atronach perk is also attractive but requires 100 skill. Dabblers would likely
just go for the Magic Resistance (1-3 levels) in this case.

Mages that rely on Alteration for armor definitely want Stability and Dual Cast
to improve durations. Mage Armor I'm not too sure about. It greatly improves
your armor spells but note that the Master spell simply grants 80% physical
damage reduction (the maximum possible) and thus unaffected by Mage Armor perk.
One point might be worth it for the early game since it also has bigger bonus.

  IVl. Illusion

Number of Perks: 13
Total Perk points: 13
Recommended Perks: 2 (dabbling mind-affecting illusionists)
   6 (mind-affecting illusion specialists' minimum)
   4 (stealth characters)
   13 (dedicated specialist)

You can use Illusion one of two ways: to help conceal yourself with Muffle and
Invisibility, or to cast mind-affecting spells like Calm, Fear and Frenzy. Each
mind-affecting spell of a certain magnitude will only affect enemies up to a
certain level, with master spells affecting only up to level 25 enemies.

Stealth characters who use concealing illusion may want Quiet Casting. Players
who like the mind-affecting spells will need at least Dual Casting, which
doubles the level cap of enemies affected by the spells. Master of the Mind is
another major drawcard, allowing mind-affecting spells to affect undead, daedra
and automatons.

Along the left branch going up to Master of the Mind, you can pick up other
perks that boost the power of specific effects. For very high level enemies,
you'd want all such perks. The right side branch gives you a boost against
animals and humans. I prefer getting the left branch since with 3 perks it helps
against all enemies, whereas the right branch is 2 perks for only humans and

You may also need the tiered perks to help manage magicka costs, all the way to
Master if you're fond of mind-affecting spells. Expert is enough for stealth for
the Invisibility spell.

  IVm. Alchemy

Number of Perks: 9
Total Perk points: 15
Recommended Perks: 3 (dabbler)
   7-9 (best alchemy results reached)

This is one of the most straightforward perk trees. Full five levels of the
Alchemist perk, plus Physician and Benefactor, already gives you the best
possible potions. Add Poisoner and Concentrated Poison if you like to use
poisons as well. Dabblers can perform well with just Alchemist, Physician and

Experimenter is not really needed with the abundance of notes you can find in
the community. Snakeblood, Concentrated Poison, Green Thumb and Purity all do
not really give you good returns for your perk points.

  IVn. Lockpicking

Number of Perks: 11
Total Perk points: 11
Recommended Perks: 0 (if you keep the Skeleton Key)
   5 (treasure hunters)
   8 (if you really want to focus on Lockpick)

The Lockpicking skill is somewhat broken due to the existence of the Skeleton
Key, which is an unbreakable lockpick that you can acquire. Technically you only
keep the Skeleton Key until you turn it in to complete a quest, but to me it's
madness not just to keep it for the majority of the game or at least until you
max out your skill. It's just so much more convenient. If you keep the Skeleton
key, you can skip ALL the perks here.

I can only recommend getting the Treasure Hunter perk if you're really that keen
on finding treasure. If you really don't want to keep the Skeleton Key, and you
are bad at the minigame and cannot afford lockpicks, you can work to get the
Locksmith and Unbreakable perks.

  IVo. Pickpocket

Number of Perks: 8
Total Perk points: 12
Recommended Perks: 3 (dabblers)
   11 (dedicated specialists)

I'm not a fan of Pickpocket. I'd rather go out adventuring and looting people
and places for fun & profit at 100% success rate rather than stealing them with
lower success rates. If it's your cup of tea however, you can go ahead and get
all the perks here. Keymaster is an exception, since keys are generally fairly
easy to steal anyway, so you may want to skip it.

Dabblers can get the Extra Pocket perk for +100 carry weight which can be
useful for anyone and comes fairly cheap at 3 perk points.

  IVp. Speech

Number of Perks: 9
Total Perk points: 13
Recommended Perks: 0 (most cases)
   6 (mercantile master)

This tree affects buying/selling and conversational skills. You can make more
money than you need without investing in perks, but if you're serious about it
then I guess you can go up to Master Trader.

I find that my persuasion/intimidation are generally successful anyway. And if
not, do you really want to spend all those perks boosting them for the very few
extra successes that you'll get?

I don't recommend getting any perks in this tree for anyone.

  IVq. Sneak

Number of Perks: 9
Total Perk points: 13
Recommended Perks: 4 (assassins)
   3 (bow assassins)
   9-13 (specialists)

Sneak is one of the simplest yet deadliest perk tree. If you utilize sneak
attack tactics, Assassin's Blade is a very obvious choice. If you're an archer
assassin, then you don't really need that dagger perk. If you want further
utility with your sneak skill, get one point of every perk. Shadow Warrior is
especially interesting, you can have a lot of fun with it.

Extra levels of the Stealth perk only gives small increments, so you may want
to just skip them for something else.

  IVr. Light Armor

Number of Perks: 6
Total Perk points: 10
Recommended Perks: 5 (if you excel at crafting)
   10 (if your crafting is poor)

Once again, as with Heavy Armor, extra effectiveness boosts are not needed if
your crafting skills are good. The armor rating cap of 567 isn't too difficult
to reach even without extra levels of Agile Defender.

The premium perks here are Unhindered (which removes armor encumbrance), Wind
Walker (which awesomely boosts stamina regen), and Deft Movement (which boosts
defense even further, beyond the armor rating cap). This tree requires
pleasantly few perks.

Those with poor crafting may need more perks to get a better armor rating.

  IVs. Summary - PERK OVERVIEW


To gain a perk you need to level up to get the perk point and you also need to
meet the skill level requirement for that perk. Save that perk point if you
cannot take any good perks yet! This is especially true for console players
who cannot use the PC console commands (ironic double-meaning here) to fix up
their character.

Using your favoured skills naturally will raise your skills such that you get
enough perk points to fill up 5-7 skill/perk trees as you level up. If you find
that this isn't the case, you can do some of several things:

 # Purposefully improve skills that you want a perk in but do not yet meet the
   skill requirement. Simply use that skill more, or grind it.

 # Get the absolute core perks first, save the perk points until later when
   your skill levels naturally meet the requirement.

 # If you still have way too few perks, you're probably greedy and have spread
   yourself too thin by trying out too many skills. Get tighter focus or plan
   your character better.

 # You may have the opposite problem and have too many perk points! You're
   tempted to spend them on dubious perks! Don't do this. Save the perk, or
   expand your skill repertoire and get bonafide good perks from other skills.


There are no bonuses for Birthsigns anymore, instead you can visit one of the
13 Standing Stones (SS) and receive their boon. You can only have one of these
active at any one time.

The SS can be divided into 3 chief categories:

  Va. Skill Learning SS

Lover  +15% faster skill learn (all skills)
Mage  +20% faster skill learn (magic skills only)
Thief  +20% faster skill learn (thief skills only)
Warrior  +20% faster skill learn (warrior skills only)

These SS boost the rate at which your skills improve, and therefore the rate at
which you level up. Use these SS to expediate the leveling process and get
perks sooner. A good strategy is to use one of these stones in the early game
to solidify skills and acquire key perks, then switch to a passive bonus stone.

If you use a good mix of skills, Lover may be best SS to use. However, having
the Lover boon prevents you from also getting the Rested bonuses (sleep in a
bed to get 5-15% faster skill learn for 8 hours). Thus you may like to use one
of the other SS instead.

You may want to use the SS for the skillset that you use LESS, so that those
skills don't fall behind. For example if you're a backstabber with 1 hit kills,
your Sneak will probably rise faster than your One-Handed, so use Warrior SS.

If you're purposefully power-leveling a skill, definitely use the appropriate
SS prior to grinding (eg. Thief for Alchemy, Mage for Enchanting, Warrior for

  Vb. Passive Bonus SS

Apprentice +100% Magicka regen, +100% weakness to magic
Atronach +50 Magicka, 50% Absorb spells, -50% Magicka regen
Lady  +25% Health regen, +25% Stamina regen
Lord  +50pt Damage resist, +25% Resist Magic
Steed  +100 Carry weight, Equipped armor is weightless

If you don't care to level your character too quickly, these SS are probably
the best choice as they give considerable bonuses. A good strategy is to use one
of the skill learning stones in the early game to solidify skills and acquire
key perks, then switch to a passive bonus stone.

Hardcore magic users can consider using the Apprentice SS. This will greatly
improve their spellcasting, but be aware that it comes with a magic weakness.
You will likely struggle against enemy mages. Bretons probably make the best use
of Apprentice since they have innate magic resistance. You can also use the
higher magicka regen to cast more Restoration spells to compensate. It's also
advisable to focus on shock magic that drains enemy magicka.

Atronach gives you the best magic defense around, with 50% spell absorption. It
is good for any defensively-minded characters. The +50 Magicka is of no real use
to Fighters and Thieves, yet Mages must cop the -50% Magicka regen penalty. Thus
this SS may be best suited for spell schools that only cast periodically, such
as Conjuration or Illusion, rather than constant casters like Destruction.

The Lady stone with its Health and Stamina bonus regen is well suited for pure
Fighter types. These guys like to use power attacks and are not afraid to take
some damage, so the regen bonuses will help a lot.

The Lord stone conversely favours defensive characters of any type. The damage
and magic resistances are of significant magnitude and will make you far more
sturdy. A good choice regardless of playstyle. Note that if your other damage
resistance (for example armor) is already high, the Lord Stone bonus may be

The Steed SS allows you to carry more loot as well as having no speed penalty
when wearing armor. You also lose less stamina while sprinting. This SS is best
for dedicated treasure hunters, especially those wearing bulky Heavy Armor. Note
that the "weightless armor" part of the Steed bonus is the same as the perks
Conditioning and Unburdened. Either skip those perks, or change to a different
SS after you get those perks.

  Vc. Greater Power SS

Ritual  1x/day: Raise all nearby dead to fight for you
Serpent  1x/day: Paralyze 5s, dealing 25 dmg
Shadow  1x/day: Invisible for 60s
Tower  1x/day: Unlock Expert or lower lock

I don't favour these stones because I'd much rather have a constant bonus than
a 1x/day deal. However, they can come in handy on occasion. You can use the
ability for a specific situation and then change back to one of the other SS.
The problem is that you can often substitute other methods for the GP given,
for instance quaffing an Invisibility potion instead of using the Shadow Stone.

The Ritual Stone will raise all nearby dead to fight for you for a while. To be
worthwhile, you need a rather specific situation where there is one Badass that
brings a few weaker minions that you can kill and reanimate. It does take a bit
of forward planning I guess.

The Serpent Stone is far more widely applicable. You just need any tough enemy
that is susceptible to Paralyze (generally means not undead or machine). Five
seconds of free beatdown can easily turn the tide in your favour. Of the GP SS
this one is probably my favourite, but it's still not great. You can use
Paralysing Poisons or spells or Paralyze-enchanted weapons instead.

The Shadow Stone is useful in those situations where you need a good deal of
sneaking around. Probably more useful for people with low Sneak skills who only
needs to sneak on rare occasions. Again you kinda need some forward planning.
You can substitute Invisibility potions or spell here. Another weak SS.

If it allows for multiple uses per day, the Tower stone might be worth using.
As a single use ability though it isn't very attractive. Lockpicking can be
done using your real life skills or you can acquire the Skeleton Key. This is
probably my least favourite stone.


You will level up after a certain number of your skills have improved. Skills
you have a high level in will contribute more to leveling up than your minor
skills. You can look up the exact formula on if you like.

Once you are eligible for a level up, it can be done anytime by simply going
into your skills screen. Until then, you remain at the level you're already at.
When you level up, you get 3 things:

 # Full recovery of your health, magicka and stamina. This adds a tactical
   component to leveling up as you can use it as an emergency full-heal.
 # +10 to either Health, Magicka or Stamina (which also gives +5 carry weight)
 # A perk point, which you can use now or save for later

All three attributes start at 100 for everyone. Carry weight starts at 300 and
improves by +5 each time you raise Stamina.

Be aware that for each attribute you can enchant up to 4 items to boost it.
You can wear a total of SEVEN items at one time (helm, armor, gloves, boots,
necklace, ring and shield) with up to 2 possible custom enchantments per item
(with the Extra Effect perk under the Enchant skill).

I tend to prioritise Health before Magicka and Stamina. You can survive without
Magicka or Stamina but you die with no Health no matter how much Magicka and
Stamina you have remaining. Having too much Health, however, with no Magicka or
Stamina with which to unleash your powers, gets real boring. You need a balance.

Since I like Restoration so much, I also prefer having more Magicka than Stamina
as I can recover the latter using my spells. Magicka is also more valuable than
Stamina since fighters can still attack with 0 Stamina (just no power attacks)
but mages cannot cast at all with 0 Magicka.

Note that having more Health means that you can last longer in battle which
gives you time for Magicka and Stamina to regenerate. However, you can also use
Restoration with the Respite perk to recover both Health and Stamina at the
expense of Magicka. Furthermore you can spend Stamina to run away and allow
your Health and Magicka to regenerate... so they all help each other really.

So which attribute should you raise? Health (H), Magicka (M) or Stamina (S)??
Clearly it depends on your character type. I will give you rough ratios, feel
free to deviate from it. These ratios are for raising attributes only and does
not include your initial 100 in each attribute.

 # If you're ever in doubt, raising Health is generally the safest bet.

 # Pure Fighters: you don't use spells in battle, so get 2H:0M:1S. You still
   need more Health than Stamina.

 # Heavy Mages: you don't use Stamina and chances are you use Restoration to
   heal yourself. Get 1H:1M:0S until you feel your magicka pool is sufficient,
   then you likely will do better with more H. Final ratio closer to 3H:2M.

 # Hybrid: I like the ratio of 4H:2M:1S, using Restoration to recover S.


So I guess I will give you some sample builds that cover a few playstyles. Note
that for most builds there is room for crafting. I favour crafting a lot because
of the power and versatility they grant. Most of these builds can be "improved"
by sacrificing some perks and improving Smithing, Enchanting and Alchemy. For
these builds, however, I tried to keep crafting relatively low to maintain the
"flavour" of the build.

There are literally hundreds of ways you can build a character, so of course
feel free to create your own but I'll likely not post your recommendation in
this guide unless it's *extremely* intriguing.

These builds mostly come with 49 perks meaning you will be level 50 when these
builds are "complete". You can use the remaining perks to fill out the tree
or "expand" to other skillsets as you see fit.

  VIIa. Archmage

This Altmer (High Elf) character is a sterotypical master of magic, blasting
foes with elemental magic and defending himself with Restoration and Alteration
spells. In battle he is never alone as he summons Atronach allies from the
elemental planes to his aid. In his spare time he likes enchanting things.

At the start of the game, use the Mage stone to get a headstart on your magic
ability. Then use Lord stone for great defense.

A risky alternative strategy is using the Apprentice Stone to maximize your
magic. Try to wait until you get the Magic Resistance perk, or consider using
Breton instead. Do not enchant your items with Resist Magic to compensate, as
you can enchant magicka regeneration at higher magnitudes than Resist Magic.

 # Destruction (12):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert, Master Destruction
 Destruction Dualcasting, Impact
 Augmented Flames (2), Augmented Shock (2), Disintegrate

 # Alteration (11):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert, Master Alteration
 Dualcasting, Magic Resistance (3), Stability, Atronach

 # Restoration (10):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept Restoration
 Dualcasting, Regeneration, Respite, Necromage
 Recovery (2), Avoid Death

 # Conjuration (8):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert Conjuration
 Summoner, Atromancy, Elemental Potency, Twin Souls

 # Enchanting (8):
 Enchanter (5)
 Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter, Extra Effect

Suggested quest line: College of Winterhold

Enchantments: Fortify Destruction, Fortify Health & Heal Rate,
       Fortify Magicka & Regen

Artifacts: Archmage's Robes

  VIIb. Assassin

This Dunmer girl has heard many dark tales of the Morag Tong assassins from her
homeland of Morrowind. She has decided to walk in their bloodied footsteps.
Consequently she loves to stalk her prey from the shadows before slashing their
throat and stabbing their heart at the same time with her two daggers. She often
experiments with poisons to hasten the kill as well as using Illusion magic to
both muddle her prey's minds and conceal her own presence.

She is no coward, however, and is not afraid to fight in the open. She trusts
her skill with the twin blades, her light yet tough armor and the quality of
her healing potions. Both jealous and spiteful of the winged dragons, she
aspires to one day wear their scales for armor.

Your best bet is probably with the Thief stone to solidify your skills early
on, then stick with a defensive stone. Atronach is a great choice, since you
don't need to cast many spells, the magicka regen penalty doesn't affect you.

 # One Handed (10):
 Armsman (5)
 Fighting Stance, Savage Strike
 Dual Flurry (2), Dual Savagery

 # Sneak (9):
 Stealth, Backstab, Deadly Aim, Assassin's Blade
 Muffled Movement, Light Foot, Silent Roll, Silence, Shadow Warrior

 # Illusion (10):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert, Master Illusion
 Hypnotic Gaze, Aspect of Terror, Rage, Master of the Mind
 Illusion Dualcasting

 # Alchemy (9):
 Alchemist (5)
 Physician, Benefactor
 Poisoner, Concentrated Poison

 # Light Armor (5):
 Agile Defender, Custom Fit, Unhindered, Wind Walker, Deft Movement

 # Smithing (6):
 Steel Smithing, Elven Smithing, Advanced Armors, Glass Smithing,
 Dragon Armors, Arcane Blacksmith

Suggested quest line: Dark Brotherhood (starts at Windhelm)

Enchantments: Fortify Sneak, One-Handed, Health, Illusion

Artifacts: Shrouded Gloves, Mehrune's Razor, Krosis, Volsung

Two dragon shouts in particular are very useful for this playstyle:
Aura Whisper and Throw Voice.

  VIIc. Champion

This Nordic warrior loves her big weapons but understands that technique and
tactics will win the day in the end. To that end she has practiced her blocking
techniques well as well as making sure her equipment are of the best quality.
She has become a versatile and masterful smith. She is also quite capable of
healing herself.

While she has few equals in armed combat, a bitter recent encounter left her
beaten and battered by a powerful mage. She vowed to meditate in Alteration
magic to improve her magic resistance and one day take revenge.

This style makes good use of the Lady stone for greater recovery.

 # Two Handed (10):
 Barbarian (5), Champion's Stance
 Devastating Blow, Sweep, Great Critical Charge, War Master

 # Block (8):
 Shield Wall (5)
 Power Bash, Deadly Bash, Disarming Bash

 # Light Armor (5):
 Agile Defender, Custom Fit, Unhindered, Wind Walker, Deft Movement

 # Restoration (8):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept Restoration
 Dualcasting, Regeneration, Respite, Recovery (1), Avoid Death

 # Alteration (8):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert Alteration
 Magic Resistance (3), Atronach

 # Smithing (10):
 Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony, Daedric Smithing, Dragon Armors
 Elven Smithing, Advanced Armors, Glass Smithing
 Arcane Blacksmith

Suggested quest line: Companions (starts at Whiterun)

Enchantments: Fortify Health and Healing Rate, Stamina Regen, Two Handed

Artifacts: Ebony Blade, Volendrung

  VIId. Shield Knight

This highly refined Imperial warrior has delved deep into all aspects of combat
and chivalry. He is particularly well versed in the art of weapon and shield.
He also dedicates himself to improving his tools of the trade: his weapons and
armor. In everyday society he is well spoken, articulate and a fine merchant.

Using the Steed stone early is great to lighten your load and carry more loot.
After you gain the Conditioning perk you can switch to either Lady, Lord, or
Atronach. This is also a good build to try the Greater Power stones one by one.

(Note: if you want to try an unarmed character, pick Khajiit and substitute the
One-Handed perks for Restoration or Alchemy perks).

 # One Handed (8):
 Armsman (5)
 Fighting Stance, Critical Charge, Paralyzing Strike

 # Block (13):
 Shield Wall (5), Quick Reflexes, Power Bash, Deadly Bash, Disarming Bash
 Deflect Arrows, Elemental Protection, Block Runner, Shield Charge

 # Heavy Armor (8):
 Juggernaut, Fists of Steel, Cushioned, Conditioning
 Well Fitted, Tower of Strength, Matching Set, Reflect Blows

 # Enchanting (8):
 Enchanter (5)
 Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter, Extra Effect

 # Smithing (6):
 Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony, Daedric Smithing
 Arcane Blacksmith

 # Speech (6):
 Haggling, Allure, Merchant, Investor, Fence, Master Trader

Suggested quest line: Civil War (starts at Windhelm or Solitude)

Enchantments: Fortify Health and Healing Rate, Stamina and Regeneration
       Fortify One Handed, Fortify Block, Fortify Barter

Artifacts: Spellbreaker, Dawnbreaker, Mace of Molag Bal, Shield of Solitude,
    Masque of Clavicus Vile, Amulet of Articulation

  VIIe. Archer Thief

This Argonian whelp has lived on the streets since his youth and has learnt to
become a deft and devious cutpurse. One day he stole from the wrong target: a
master Thief who caught him red handed. Instead of punishing him, the master
recognised his potential and took him under his tutelage, broadening his skills
with Archery and Alchemy.

Today the Argonian is one of the most dangerous thief in Tamriel. His skill
with the bow is legendary, his poisons are deadly and no lock can keep him out.
Few ever see him before his arrows pierce their hearts; rumour has it that he
has perfected the invisibility potion recipe.

Again, you would do well with using the Thief Stone early before switching over
to Lady, Lord or Atronach.

 # Archery (12):
 Overdraw (5), Eagle Eye, Stagger Shot, Quick Shot
 Critical Shot, Hunter's Discipline, Ranger, Bullseye

 # Light Armor (10):
 Agile Defender (5)
 Custom Fit, Unhindered, Wind Walker, Matching Set, Deft Movement

 # Sneak (3):
 Stealth, Backstab, Deadly Aim

 # Pickpocket (7):
 Light Fingers, Night Thief, Cutpurse, Misdirection, Perfect Touch
 Poisoned, Extra Pockets

 # Lockpicking (8):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert Lockpicking
 Golden Touch, Treasure Hunter, Locksmith, Unbreakable

 # Alchemy (9):
 Alchemist (5)
 Physician, Benefactor, Poisoner, Concentrated Poison

Suggested quest line: Thieves Guild (starts at Riften)

Enchantments: Fortify Health, Archery, Sneak
       Separate sets for Fortify Alchemy, Lockpicking and Pickpocket

Artifacts: Krosis, Thieves Guild Armor

  VIIf. Tiger-Dragon

Behold the Dragon born in Tiger form! The Khajiit warrior breathes frost and
flame. His armor and shield are like that of a dragon's. Watch as he lashes out
with his mighty claws.

Basically you will use destruction spells, and switch to block + unarmed attack
when you run out of magicka or the enemy comes too close. Wear Heavy Armor for
protection and to increase unarmed damage via Fists of Steel. Be warned that
unarmed attacks will never be very powerful in mid/late game. Use the Steed SS
until you get Conditioning, then switch to whatever you like. Alternatively
keep using the Steed SS and skip Conditioning.

 # Destruction (14):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert, Master Destruction
 Destruction Dualcasting, Impact, Rune Master
 Augmented Frost (2), Deep Freeze, Augmented Flames (2), Intense Flames

 # Block (5):
 Shield Wall, Deflect Arrows, Elemental Protection
 Block Runner, Shield Charge

 # Restoration (10):
 Novice, Apprentice, Adept Restoration
 Dualcasting, Regeneration, Respite, Necromage
 Recovery (2), Avoid Death

 # Heavy Armor (5):
 Juggernaut, Fists of Steel, Cushioned, Conditioning
 Well Fitted

 # Enchanting (8):
 Enchanter (5)
 Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter, Extra Effect

 # Smithing (7):
 Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony, Daedric Smithing, Dragon Armors
 Arcane Blacksmith

  VIIg. Total Hybrid

If you like multiple playstyles, you can either create multiple characters or
you can try to create one character that can do everything.

So you're probably wondering if it's possible to create character that can do
*EVERYTHING* and doesn't feel watered down? Well you can come very close! Here
is my total hybrid build featuring a female Breton character.

 # This build uses all 80 perk points.

 # This build skips perks from the following skills:
 Lockpicking (you don't need them, with the Skeleton Key available)
 Speech (you don't really need extra money)
 Two Handed (sorry but you can't accomodate ALL weapon styles)
 Heavy Armor (take Light Armor instead with less perks required)

 # The crafting skills have to be pretty much maxed out since they can be used
   to boost or compensate skills.

 # It's best to concentrate on a few skills first. I suggest One-Handed with
   Restoration and either Sneak or Conjuration. After the early game (level 15
   or so), grind and max out your 3 crafting skills. You can now make superior
   gear that helps with leveling up other skills with Fortify <Skill> items

As far as Standing Stones go, alternate between the skill learning stones to
hasten the process and get important perks. Then stick with a passive bonus SS
such as Lady or Atronach.

 # One Handed (7):
 Armsman 5, Fighting Stance, Savage Strike

 # Archery (4):
 Overdraw, Eagle Eye, Stagger Shot, Quick Shot

 # Block (4):
 Shield Wall 1, Deflect Arrows, Elemental Protection, Block Runner

 # Light Armor (5):
 Agile Defender, Custom Fit, Unhindered, Wind Walker, Deft Movement

 # Destruction (5):
 Novice, Dualcasting, Impact, Augment Shock 2

 # Restoration (5):
 Novice, Regeneration, Respite, Recovery 2

 # Illusion (6):
 Novice, Hypnotic Gaze, Aspect of Terror, Rage, Master of Mind, Dualcast

 # Alteration (5):
 Novice, Apprentice, Magic Resistance 3

 # Conjuration (5):
 Novice, Summoner 1, Atromancy, Elemental Potency, Twin Souls

 # Sneak (9):
 Stealth, Backstab, Deadly Aim, Assassin's Blade
 Muffled Movement, Light Foot, Silent Roll, Silence, Shadow Warrior

 # Pickpocket (3):
 Light Fingers, Night Thief, Extra Pockets

 # Smithing (7):
 Arcane Blacksmith, Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Daedric Smithing, Dragon Armor

 # Alchemy (7):
 Alchemist 5, Physician, Benefactor

 # Enchanting (8):
 Enchanter 5, Insightful, Corpus, Extra Effect


I won't mention every single powerful artifact here. Just know that the Daedric
Artifact equipments are generally very good. There's a great FAQ for Daedric
Artifacts on the gamefaqs page. There are also Dragon Priest Masks and random
other excellent artifacts. Look up artifacts on

I also included some stuff that you find little use of in the early game and
would probably sell or discard, only to realise you need it later on.

  Azura's Star OR The Black Star

What it is: A reusable Grand or Black Soul Gem

Useful for: Anyone who uses enchanted weapons/staves, ie. everyone
  Particularly useful for enchanters

Find it at: You need to find her shrine, which is southwest of Winterhold

I recommend you acquire The Black Star instead of Azura's Star since it will be
far easier to acquire Grand souls (just soul trap any person, eg. bandits).

  Skeleton Key

What it is: An unbreakable lockpick

Useful for: Anyone who picks locks, ie. everyone

Find it at: Follow the Thieves Guild questline, which starts at Riften

  Shrouded Gloves OR Shrouded Handwraps

What it is: A piece of Light Armor or Clothing that doubles backstab damage

Useful for: Melee sneak attack characters

Find it at: The Dark Brotherhood questline, which starts at Windhelm.

  Ebony Blade

What it is: A two handed blade that is especially powerful in the early
  game. Note that for some reason its damage is affected by the
  perks and enchantments for One Handed.

Useful for: Two Handed warriors in the early game
  One-handed warriors who want a taste of the Two Handed style

Find it at: The quest for it begins at the Bannered Mare in Whiterun

  Dragon Bones and Dragon Scales

What it is: You can craft dragon armors with this with the Smithing perk

Useful for: Everyone who wears armors, but especially Light Armor users.
  You can sell them for great cash early on, but keep about 20 of
  each if you want dragon armor later.

Find it at: Whenever you kill a dragon.

  Daedra Heart

What it is: You need this to make Daedric (the best quality) weapons/armor

Useful for: Smithing characters

Find it at: Whenever you kill a real (not summoned) Daedra.
  In alchemist stores (rarely available and is expensive).

  Stews & Soups

What it is: I'm talking about Beef Stew, Horker Stew, Vegetable Soup and
  Venison Stew. These are often overlooked and underrated.
  They regenerate health and/or stamina over long durations and
  can really help in combat, not to mention being cheap as chips.

Useful for: Most types of fighters

Find it at: Food can be found in barrels, on tables and in shops.
  Meat can be acquired from the respective animal.
  Vegetables can be picked from farms and gardens.
  You then need to use a cooking pot to create the stew/soup.


Thanks to Scott Formica for pointing out that I didn't finish the Illusion perk

Thanks to C Labiche and BlackOps_Addict for pointing out that the max number
of perks is 80 not 79, and the max level is 81 not 80.


That's pretty much it for this guide, I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful.
Feel free to send me comments, thank-you notes, criticism, feedback and abuse:


Obviously you need to replace "(at)" with "@" and "(dot)" with "."

I'll also try to answer most character-build related questions you may have.


Revision history

1.0 Guide released

1.1 Fixed max perks number = 80.
 Added some more info on armor usage and armor choice.
 Finished the section on Illusion perks.
 Updated info on Restoration dualcasting being not recommended.
 Added various tidbits of info.


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