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Skyrim:First Time Players

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This page will help you begin your Skyrim adventure on a good note. Relevant links will guide you to more detailed information. For general gameplay tips, see Hints.

For Complete Elder Scrolls NewbiesEdit

If you've never played an Elder Scrolls game in your life, and Skyrim is your very first adventure in Tamriel, well then... the most important piece of advice is: Play the game! Stop reading this Wiki, and just go have fun enjoying the game. When you're starting out, don't worry about making mistakes, and don't worry about playing efficiently. The premise of this page is that at first, it is most important to spend as much time as possible playing, and as little time as possible reading.

But, if you've already played an Elder Scrolls game before (such as Morrowind or Oblivion), this page will give you some tips to help you hit the ground running.

The BasicsEdit

Character CreationEdit

  • Race determines your initial skill bonuses; choosing initial skills which match your preferred play style can help early in the game, but differences are relatively small and can be quickly overcome.
  • Any player character can master any skill regardless of race.
  • Certain races are somewhat better suited for different styles of combat and character types, but you are in no way required to follow them:
  • Ideal hybrid playstyles are...
    • Nords are perhaps best suited for dodging and hit-and-run tactics. Their bonus to light armor will keep players nimble and agile, while their bonus to One-handed weapons can make for good dual-wielding.
    • Dunmer make good mage/assassins. Their bonus in Illusion magic can help with crowd-control while improving their stealth via Muffle and Invisibility spells. Their Alteration bonus can help with their thievery (telekinesis) and knowing when enemies are around (Detect Life and Detect Dead).
    • Redguards make some of the best spellswords (magic/melee hybrid) due to their bonuses in both combat and offensive magic. They are also well-suited for dual-wielding due to their Adrenaline Rush ability which helps manage the high stamina cost of dual power attacks.
    • Bretons can make excellent battlemages, due to their bonuses to defensive magic. Their bonus in Conjuration can assist in summoning allies and weapons to assist in battle, negating the need to carry around heavy weapons and supplementing the assistance given by followers.
  • Some Racial Abilities and Powers still give advantage later in the game, even when skills are raised to their maximum.
    • The health regeneration of the Argonians, the extra magicka and magicka regeneration of the Altmer, and the stamina regeneration of the Redguards.
    • The magic resistance of the Bretons and damage/defense combo of the Orsimer (Orcs).
  • Your appearance has no effect on gameplay, although a few NPCs will make comments specific to your race.
  • You only get one chance to make and design your character so spend as much time as you want tweaking every last detail.
  • It is often best to just jump in and play a character for a bit to see whether it suits you or not, as you can always create a new character.
    • If on default settings, the game should automatically save before you are asked for your name, making it easier to skip the introduction and remake your character.
  • Your character's sex is more relevant in Skyrim than in previous Elder Scrolls games due to the Speech perk Allure, which allows you to get 10% better prices when dealing with merchants of the opposite sex, and the melee damage ability Agent of Dibella, which grants 10% extra damage against anyone of the opposite sex. Overall, there are more male merchants and male NPCs in the game, and many creatures are treated as male by game mechanics; thus, playing as a female character might be more beneficial. However, there is no requirement for you to take the Allure perk or complete the quest that grants Agent of Dibella, although many characters will have one or both of those abilities.


  • The Items menu allows you to select weapons or scrolls for each hand, equip armor and apparel, consume food and potions, or drop items when the weight of your inventory is too high.
  • The Magic menu allows you to select Spells, Dragon Shouts, and Powers, as well as check any active effects such as diseases.
  • The in-game Map will show where you are in the world, and can be used for fast travel.
  • The Skill menu shows the level of every one of your skills. From this menu you can choose new perks for skills and check your current progress towards reaching the next level. When you have gained enough experience, the Skill menu will change to Level Up which, when selected, allows you to level up and pick an attribute to increase.
  • There's a Quest Journal, which shares a menu with your Options and Statistics.
  • You can navigate back to the central menu by moving in the opposite direction. (So press left from the Equipment menu, right from Magic, etc.)
  • You can favorite items and spells from the inventory and spell menus so that they appear in the favorites menu, a small menu that is easy to access during gameplay. Having a group of items and spells that you use often can save you considerable time and effort. You can also select weapons, spells, dragon shouts and other items in the favorites category to hot key for even faster selection.


There are three attributes:

  • Health is the amount of damage you can take before dying.
  • Magicka is the energy used to cast spells.
  • Stamina is used to sprint and perform power attacks.
  • You can increase one attribute by 10 points each time you level up (e.g: you can upgrade your magicka from 100 to 110). If you increase stamina, then your maximum carry weight is also increased by 5.
  • Attributes will not increase unless you select them when you level up.
  • You cannot leave the level up menu until you have chosen an attribute to increase. In other words, you cannot "save up" attribute increases as you can with perks unless you avoid entering the level up menu.
  • There are several enchantments available that increase your attributes.


  • Hold down the attack button to charge a power attack, or charge an arrow up to full strength.
  • You can press the Draw weapon/Sheath weapon button to cancel firing your bow, and save the arrow.
  • You can equip spells to both hands to cast them simultaneously. If you have the same spell in both hands and have taken the appropriate Dual-Casting perk, the spell will be cast with greater effect.
  • Attacking with a weapon while hidden deals additional sneak attack damage
  • Pressing the attack button while blocking with a shield performs a shield bash.
  • You can block with a single one-handed weapon (the other hand being empty and with no spell selected), two-handed weapons, shields, or torches, (none of which are as effective as blocking with a shield) but not while dual-wielding weapons or spells, nor while wielding a spell in one hand and having the other hand empty.
  • Many Skill Perks add depth and strategy to battles.
  • Pressing the Block button while using a bow works as follows:
  • Pressing the Block button without the bow being drawn performs a bash with the bow.
  • Pressing the Block button with the bow drawn zooms in with Eagle Eye perk and slows time by either 25% or 50% with the Steady Hand perk. Without these perks, it does nothing.


When you die, the screen locks into a third person slow-motion perspective of the player character's death for a few seconds, then the most recent save is automatically loaded. This can rarely cause infinite loops if the game autosaves shortly before your death, as it is not possible to enter the Main Menu while in the deathcam. This will require exiting the game and reverting to an earlier save file.

Skills and LevelingEdit

  • Gain skill points through using the skill, training with an NPC, or by reading skill books.
  • You can increase skills with trainers a maximum of five times per level. You cannot "save up" training sessions; the number of times you can train is reset to five each time you go up a level.
  • You gain experience toward leveling your character by increasing skills. Low level skills increase faster while higher level skills increase slower but give more progress towards the next level.
  • Each skill has a Perk tree. Better perks have higher requirements.
  • You get one perk point per level and may assign it permanently at any time.
  • Once you have assigned a perk, there is no way to "unassign" (undo) your choice.
    • Once the Dragonborn add-on's main quest line has been completed, you have the opportunity to reset the perks in a skill tree, allowing you to reassign them to any skill tree. It will cost one dragon soul per skill tree.
    • With version 1.9 of the official patch installed, when a skill reaches 100, it can be made Legendary. This reverts the skill to level 15 and refunds assigned perks points to be spent as you see fit. As a result, this removes the original level cap of 81.
  • One attribute (Health, Magicka, Stamina) can be increased by 10 points each level. Stamina also increases your carry weight by 5 points.
  • There are lots of opportunities to gain free skill boosts by completing certain quests. It is recommended to save these boosts until the skill is almost 100, as at that point skills are difficult to raise.
  • Training is more expensive for higher skills. Trainers cannot raise your skill past level 90.
  • The Dragonborn addition allows you to level up a skill by 2 levels when you read a book related to that skill. Therefore, it is best to save books until you have reached level 90 in that particular skill, and THEN read the book.


  • Quests can be started from practically anywhere: in a town, in the wilderness, or even in the middle of a dungeon. A small number of quests can even be started by reading a book.
  • Quests appear in your journal and can be marked as active or inactive. A quest will automatically become active if it's the only quest in your journal, or if you have no active quest when you receive a new quest. You may go into the menu yourself and select one or more quests to make active.
  • Any quests that are marked as active will have a marker to their objective on the compass and map; be aware that on rare occasions there will not be an arrow to the objective depending on the objective.
  • A good way to find quests is to talk to people in towns and, in particular, tavern owners.
  • Many quests end with having to fight a boss-level enemy which is usually much stronger than any other enemies previously encountered during that quest.
  • Common rewards for quests include (but are not limited to) money, enchanted equipment, or followers.
  • Miscellaneous quests are usually shorter quests that have smaller rewards. They have their own sub-section and can also be toggled as active or inactive. Both the individual miscellaneous quest itself and the Miscellaneous Quests section must be active to have those quest arrows appear. Some miscellaneous objectives lead to full quests.


  • Inns, merchants, and blacksmiths can be found offering services in towns.
  • You can rent rooms at various inns around Skyrim for ten gold for twenty-four in-game hours. During this time, you may sleep multiple times as you have temporary ownership of the bed during this period. In addition, you may utilize the bed past this time, as long as you begin your sleep before the twenty-four hours have elapsed.
  • Some NPCs offer training in skills. You may only train five times per level.
  • Some NPCs will also sell spells in the form of spell tomes. Merchants may only have a few available, so budding mages should also check with a Court Wizard, usually found inside a Jarl's palace. Higher level spell tomes will not appear until you have the appropriate skill level in that school of magic.
  • Major cities have carriages traveling between them, helping you discover new places; however use of a carriage costs gold.
  • Certain NPCs can become your followers. Your character can even get married to certain characters, regardless of your gender or race.
    • Among other benefits, followers can carry some of your equipment.
  • You can buy and ride horses. They can climb steep terrains such as mountains, but be careful as they die easily from falls.

Magical EffectsEdit

  • Ingredients can be consumed for a minor effect or used to create potions via Alchemy. Either option will gradually increase your Alchemy skill level. Consuming an ingredient will reveal the first of its effects (more with the Experimenter perk).
  • Potions and food are consumed for their temporary effects.
  • Scrolls are spells that can only be used once per scroll; they have no magicka cost.
  • Spells cost magicka and are dependent on your skill levels. New spell tomes become available to purchase at higher skill levels.
  • Magic apparel gives you constant magical effects.
  • Soul gems are used for creating custom enchantments on items or for recharging magic weapons.
  • To discover new enchanting effects for enchanting, you must disenchant a magic item with the effect you wish to learn, which will destroy the item.
  • Abilities are constant effects.
  • Powers are useful spells which can be used without cost, usually once per day.
  • New abilities and powers can be acquired from some quests.
  • Standing stones offer a number of abilities and powers, but you may only have one active at a time.
  • Dragon shouts can be unlocked after a certain point in the main quest. They do not require any magicka nor do they rely on skill in any of the magic schools to use. They have a separate cool-down timer, with each shout requiring a different amount of time before you can shout again. In order to unlock new shouts you must find a word wall, and then use a dragon soul to unlock a word of the shout. There are three words of each shout and each word increases the shout's power.
  • Activating a shrine will give you a blessing and cure any diseases you may have, but will remove any other blessings you currently have.


  • Player Characters and NPCs can belong to more than one faction at a time. Only the Stormcloaks and Imperial Legion factions are mutually exclusive in the original version of the game.
  • Faction memberships sway the dispositions of all NPCs and creatures, both towards the player and towards one another.
  • Certain regions are controlled by different factions, called Holds, and bounty for crime does not pass over their borders.
  • There are four guilds that the player can join: the College of Winterhold for mages, the Companions for warriors, the Dark Brotherhood for assassins, and the Thieves Guild for thieves.
    • The four guilds can be joined at any time, and they have their own storylines that are almost completely separate from each other.
    • You may want to join a faction early on since they give radiant quests and offer master training in some related skills.


  • There are a huge number of things to do in Skyrim. Some are profitable, like crafting armor and mixing potions, and some are less than profitable, such as drinking and playing children's games.
  • Smithing gives you access to high-end equipment much earlier than would otherwise be possible.
  • Alchemy allows you to make your own potions and poisons out of various ingredients found throughout Skyrim, or bought from vendors.
  • Enchanting allows you to add magical effects to your weapons and apparel.

Starting OutEdit

  • Shortly after you escape from Helgen, you can follow your companion to Riverwood. On the way there, you will pass the Guardian Stones; activating one of these provides a useful bonus that will help you raise your skill experience faster and therefore level-up more quickly. Additionally, there are more Standing Stones that you can find that provide unique bonuses and powers, although you can only have one active at a time unless you have the Aetherial Crown from the Dawnguard expansion.
  • Just to the west of the Guardian Stones, in the center of the adjacent lake, is a small island hosting another standing stone: The Lady Stone, which is arguably more useful for eager dungeon-delvers than the Guardian Stones, especially if you do not wish to level up too fast. Don't worry about being ambushed on your way to this island, as you will soon learn, during your first swim, that combat is disabled while in water; this restriction applies to everyone, not just you. The only exception is slaughterfish, but if you beeline to the Lady Stone from the Guardian Stones, you should be able to out-swim any slaughterfish that try to attack you, and then fast-travel back to the Guardian Stones.
  • Just across the river, north of the Guardian Stones, is a shack with a single occupant. This place never respawns and has a bed, alchemy table and enchanter, making it a good starter home. If you prefer to only kill in self-defense, try "exploring" the occupant's cellar; she will attack you after resurfacing, allowing you to kill her guilt-free.
  • At the beginning of the game, pick up as much armor and weaponry as you can carry. Even if you don't need any of it, you can sell it in nearby towns such as Riverwood or Falkreath.
  • A profitable way to make money is by chopping wood, mining, and harvesting wheat. These activities are geared towards low-level players who are just starting out. For example, when you first arrive in Riverwood, you will find a woodcutter's axe near the mill. Cut wood by picking up the axe and activating a wood-chopping block, and then bring the firewood back to an NPC that's willing to pay you for firewood, such as Hod in Riverwood.
  • After you complete favor quests for some NPCs, they will allow you to take low value items from their store or house. This is a good way to gain small sums of gold and basic potions, as well as ingredients for Alchemy. Also, note that for the NPCs for whom you chop wood, mine, and harvest, selling them those items counts as a favor quest, so check to see if you can take free items from their houses as well.
  • Don't bother carrying anything to resell that has a value of one gold, unless it has zero weight. Shopkeepers give you a fraction of an item's value, and after rounding to the nearest gold, they'll pay you nothing. This is true even if you sell several of the same item at the same time because they calculate the price of one item and then multiply it by the number of items. Eventually those one gold items will be worth one gold each, when your speech skill is high enough, but until then they are worthless.
  • Do not expect to be able to carry out everything that you loot in a dungeon, because once you exceed your carrying capacity, you move much more slowly.
  • Talk to people in towns, especially innkeepers, to find out about side quests that can earn you gold or other rewards.
  • If you find that enemies are too difficult or you cannot carry as much as you would like, try to recruit a follower.
  • Completing the Love Triangle quest in Riverwood will allow you to use Faendal or Sven as a follower, depending on how you handle the quest. Faendal can also train you in Archery, which may be useful to some players. Faendal's Archery training can be exploited, as you can pay him and then immediately go into his inventory and take the gold back.
  • Joining certain factions can provide the player with a free home where they can rest and store loot for selling or personal use later on.
  • Clearing out dungeons at the start of the game will help to increase skills and will also allow you to find more loot. Some special loot in these dungeons may be useful in a later quest, so keeping any unique items you find is advised.
  • Don't spend all of your perk points in a hurry; you may want to use your skills a bit more before you decide which ones to invest in.
  • Buying a house will ensure that you always have a safe place to sleep and store your items. Houses of varying price and quality can be purchased in all of the major cities after performing a few quests.
  • For the first few hours of gameplay, you may want to set the difficulty to Novice or Apprentice until you get the hang of combat.
  • To start out, pick a weapon style (e.g. One Handed melee weapons, Destruction magic, etc.), and one armor type (Light or Heavy), and stick with them. Diversity can be explored once you get the hang of combat.

Dungeons and LootEdit


The standard boss chest
  • Watch for traps. Once you learn to recognize and avoid them, you will be able to lure enemies into them.
  • Most dungeons end with a boss enemy, normally the most powerful creature you will find therein. They will often be guarding a boss chest containing the dungeon's best loot, and there will normally be a shortcut back to the dungeon entrance nearby, or a back door to exit.
  • Loot can be found in urns and chests (especially the boss chest), behind locked doors, and on bodies or in ash piles. Most cupboards and other furniture contain useless clutter. Likewise, barrels and sacks often contain only food, but may hold valuable alchemical ingredients instead.
  • Many dungeons have leveled enemies, so it is advisable to bring potions and such when you venture into them because some enemies are extremely strong and can kill you easily.
  • The strength of most types of enemies is determined by your level when you meet them. If you enter a dungeon at a low level and come back to that dungeon at a higher level, the enemies there will be as strong as when you met them the first time.
  • Most dungeons also have a minimum and a maximum level. If your level is lower than the minimum level, the minimum level will be used instead to calculate the enemies' levels. The same applies for a dungeon's maximum level.


  • Most containers in Skyrim respawn so be careful where you stash your loot.
  • When you're holding more weight than your carrying capacity, you will be unable to run and can only fast travel by horse. You can still jump, however, and use the Whirlwind Sprint shout. Also, drawing your bow will allow you to walk at a slightly faster pace, and using a weapon power attack will propel you forward a short distance.
  • It's a good idea to cache your valuable loot near an escape route. When you're ready to leave, slowly carry it all to your horse and fast travel to a town. Remember that some towns (like Dawnstar and Falkreath) do not have gates or transition areas, meaning you can ride your horse straight to a merchant's doorstep without having to crawl at a snail's pace through the city.
  • Sometimes items aren't useful until much later in the game. Hang on to gems and dragon bones.
  • Prioritize keeping useful items over valuable vendor trash. Sometimes it's not worth the weight.
  • In general, gems, jewelry, arrows, scrolls, potions, and books are better to bring to a merchant than heavier items; they weigh little to nothing. A good tip for getting the most money while trying not to go over carrying capacity is only take items if they have a minimum 10:1 value-to-weight ratio.
  • Merchants have limited cash available on-hand. You can still sell them items when they have run out of gold, you'll be giving them your stuff for free, though you will still gain Speech experience.
  • Over time (roughly two in-game business days), merchant inventories and available gold reset. You can wait for those two days before speaking with the merchant again in order to be able to sell more items to them.
  • Quest items and keys cannot merely be 'dropped' from your inventory. Don't worry: The keys can be stored in chests and have no weight (plus their own inventory section, so they don't clutter your inventory), and the quest items will be removed in time...usually (There are a few bugged quest items).
  • Pickpocketing NPCs can be profitable and is an easy way to find money in towns; however, you can be caught and arrested if you fail. Note that merchants will not normally buy stolen goods. Thieves Guild members can make use of fences to sell stolen items.
  • In order to get the most bang for your buck, sell your loot after giving a coin to a beggar. Beggars are much more useful in Skyrim than in previous TES games, as giving them a coin grants the player the "Gift of Charity," a blessing that lasts for one real-time hour, and gives you a 10-point boost to your Speech skill, providing a small but noticeable improvement in selling prices.


  • Improve your weapons and armor at grindstones and workbenches and enchant them at arcane enchanters.
  • You may only improve enchanted weapons and armor after you attain the Smithing perk Arcane Blacksmith, although you can enchant already-improved weapons and armor without it.
  • Improving weapons or armor will replace the previous improvement.
  • Unique Items and powerful Artifacts can be found throughout the world, although player enhanced items may become more powerful eventually.
  • Save up on lockpicks, as lockpicking can be difficult. Note that some locks cannot be picked and will need a key.
  • Smithing allows you to create weapons and armor that would not normally be available at lower levels.


It is worth at least opening any books you come across:

  • Reading skill books gives you skill points.
  • Reading quest books initiates quests.
  • Reading spell tomes teaches you new spells.
  • Some books, including treasure maps and journals, contain clues to help you find things or do things better.
  • In general, the value of a book is a good clue as to how important it is to read. If its value seems to be higher than the (generally low) amount normal for books it is probably worth a read. You only need to open a book to gain an experience point, start a quest, or learn a spell—you don't need to read the whole thing nor take the book (except in the case of spell books, which you can only read from your inventory). All skill books have a value of at least 50 gold.
  • The corollary of this is that you might want to avoid reading books that give points to skills you never plan to use. Increasing skills increases your overall level, which makes foes tougher. Normally, your level increases by you using the skills that help you survive (weapons skills for a warrior, for example), but reading a book on Destruction magic or Lockpicking does nothing to help that warrior survive.
  • There is no straight-forward way to take a book to "read it later"—you cannot save books (and their skill points) for later in the game, when your skills are high, and bonus points would be worth comparatively more.
    • You can instruct a follower to pick up books for you, so you can postpone reading them.
    • If you buy a skill book from a merchant or remove it from a container (like a chest) you can also avoid reading it until later. Most skill books cannot be obtained in this fashion, however.
    • A few quests give skill books as a reward for completing them. These books can also be read when you choose.

Character BuildsEdit

There are countless ways to play Skyrim, each with its own pros and cons. The play-styles listed below are simply a starting point if you aren't sure how you want to play. Be sure to check out the Skills page for additional information. Keep in mind that some perks, even though in different trees, may benefit each other, so be sure to read each perk and plan ahead what combinations of perks may benefit you the most according to the play-style you choose.


A warrior will generally use Light Armor or Heavy Armor and any combination of shields, One-handed and Two-handed weapons, as well as Bows and Arrows. Of course, they are not prevented from making occasional use of stealth and magic as well.

  • Heavy armor weighs more than light armor or robes but it also offers the most protection, although it can slow down your character as well. Light armor allows you to sacrifice protection for speed. It should also be noted, however, that both armors are capable of eventually reaching the 80% damage reduction cap (567 armor) with the proper perks and use of the Smithing skill.
  • One-handed weapons swing faster than two-handed weapons but deal less damage. One-handed weapons can be dual wielded (one in each hand) or used with a shield or spell in the other hand.
  • Weapon speed is listed from fastest to slowest: dagger, sword, war axe, mace, greatsword, battle axe, warhammer. The last three are two-handed weapons. Bows require two hands, but operate on a separate skill tree.
  • Potions will generally be very useful to you, certain kinds more so than others. Health and stamina potions will be more useful than magicka potions since you will be hacking and slashing more often than throwing fireballs.
  • Shields are useful for blocking and absorb large amounts of damage. Blocking can likewise be done with a two-handed weapon or a single one-handed weapon (without a shield equipped, and not dual wielding) although it absorbs less damage.
    • Attacking while blocking will allow you to bash the enemy, which is more effective with a shield than a weapon.
  • The Smithing skill allows you to greatly increase both the damage of weapons and protection of armor.
  • Make sure to join the Companions in Whiterun early, as they provide tasks and services that are preferable for physical fighters. They also provide at least expert-level training in all combat skills, and master in some (Two-handed, Heavy Armor).


Mage players will generally use magic to get through the day-to-day struggles of Skyrim. Each school of magic is useful for different things. Staves and other one-handed weapons are sometimes used by mages, and they generally wear light (or heavy in the case of prospective battlemages) armor, if any.

  • A mage's equipment will generally differ from other play styles. You may wish to wear a variation of mage's robes that increase magicka and magicka regeneration rather than armor; wearing armor will not penalize your spellcasting other than that you will miss out on the use of the pre-enchanted robes and circlets. Even if you are playing as a purely spell-based character, you may wish to carry a melee weapon in case you run out of offensive spell capabilities.
  • Carry lots of potions that restore health and magicka. Stamina potions are less important, since you will be casting spells rather than swinging war hammers.
  • Staves are useful weapons but need to be recharged often using soul gems. Soul gems can be found in the world or purchased from merchants. Unfilled soul gems will need to be filled with a living creature's soul using the Soul Trap spell before they can be used for recharging.
  • If you're running low on soul gems, venture into Dwarven ruins. The machines that inhabit these places often carry them.
  • Scrolls are like prerecorded spells. They require no magicka to cast, but are used up in the process. Carrying large quantities can eventually add up to a lot of weight, though.
  • Joining the College of Winterhold will prove beneficial to a mage character: a large number of spell tomes and trainers for all the schools of magic can be found there, as well as useful equipment.
  • The Alteration tree gives perks that both resist and absorb enemy spells, which are great help against enemy mages.
  • The schools of magic in Skyrim are Destruction, Illusion, Alteration, Conjuration and Restoration.


Thief/Assassin characters usually rely on sneak attacks for the bulk of their damage. Bows and one-handed weapons (including dual wielding) are more commonly used, as well as Light armor.

  • The quickest way to level your Sneak skill is to successfully attack while sneaking. An easy way to practice this is to find sleeping draugr and sneak-attack them before they detect you.
  • Light armor is preferred, since it creates less noise than heavy armor, improving your odds of moving undetected. More complicated builds can allow heavy armor use; however, that's more of a long-term investment which requires planning for the skill to be worthwhile.
  • One-handed perks have synergy for stealthy players.
  • Some interactions and encounters will have an NPC turn hostile in front of you (or you might get taken by surprise). Therefore, do not rely entirely on stealth and sneak attacks; some practice in either weaponry or magic is also recommended.
  • The Illusion school of magic offers spells that allow a thief to move more quietly or become invisible. It also offers the Silent Casting perk which makes all spells and Shouts silent, allowing use of these abilities without attracting enemy attention.
  • When you level up, stamina increases can be sacrificed to give yourself more health (or magic, if you are using Illusion spells), as some Thieves Guild equipment or enchantments will increase your carry weight outright, and you will most likely be trying to avoid lengthy, stamina-consuming battles. You can also select the Steed Standing Stone, which gives you 100 extra carry weight, as well as the Extra Pockets perk in the Pickpocketing tree, which gives another 100.
  • A good idea for all Thieves and Assassins to employ when taking out a difficult opponent is to carry a dagger and a Paralysis effect (via Poisons, Created Poisons, Weapon Enchantments, etc.) to stun the enemy, and follow up with swift attacks with the dagger to dispatch the opponent in question within the duration of the effect. Dual wielding the paralysis dagger with another one with higher damage will save on charges.
  • The Dark Brotherhood's armor is more useful for sneaking and combat than that of the Thieves Guild. The Shrouded Gloves are particularly useful, as they double all One-handed sneak attack damage in addition to the damage added by perks.
  • A dagger is the only weapon that will not make any noise when swung, allowing your position to not be given away by weapon noise.

Difficulty SettingsEdit

There are 6 difficulty settings, accessible from the Journal (Journal > System > Settings > Gameplay): Novice (very easy), Apprentice (easy), Adept (normal), Expert (hard), Master (very hard), and Legendary (pro).

  • Easier settings cause your attacks to be more powerful and enemies' attacks to be less powerful. The only other effect it has on the game is on the health costs of the Equilibrium spell.
  • You can change the difficulty level at any time, even in the midst of combat. If you are having difficulty with a certain enemy or group of enemies, you can adjust to an easier setting, kill the enemy, and then return to your previous difficulty with no penalty.
  • Reducing the difficulty level can prove especially useful if you have leveled-up by increasing a large proportion of non-combat skills. This can result in facing more difficult enemies while you have insufficient offensive or defensive skills. After working to strengthen your combat-related skills (offensive, defensive, or both) you can try returning to a more difficult level if you like.


The easiest setting. However, playing at this level can still present challenges to inexperienced players. You can still die pretty easily in battles with some of the harder enemies, such as dragons and giants


Somewhat harder than Novice. A good setting for many first-time players, and certainly challenging against some of the stronger enemies you will encounter.


The default difficulty for Skyrim. Most players will need to understand and employ some of the basic advice in this guide to survive Skyrim on this setting.


A difficult level. It is suitable for experienced players looking for more challenge in the game.


This was the most difficult setting upon release. Few players can survive long at this level unless familiar with advanced strategies in combat, skill and leveling management, and taking time to acquire and maintain useful resources and powerful equipment. There is little room for error or experimentation for most players at this level.


With version 1.9 of the Official Skyrim Patch, Legendary difficulty is now available as an even greater level of difficulty than Master. At this level, it is advised you develop methods for evasively dispatching enemies prior to engaging them in battle, as unprepared adventurers will be hard-pressed to survive an encounter with even the most innocuous foes, and will suffer a quick, humiliating death against powerful creatures like dragons or giants.

Difficulty Level Summary TableEdit

Difficulty Player Damage Dealt Player Damage Taken
Novice x2 x0.5
Apprentice x1.5 x0.75
Adept x1 x1
Expert x0.75 x1.5
Master x0.5 x2
Legendary x0.25 x3