The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim beginner's guide

Need help building your Dragonborn? We got you covered


What do we have here? A race of cats that specializes in stealth skills? I’m fully convinced that somebody made a joke about a cat burglar and the game designers ran with it far too literally. Whatever the reason for them existing they are the single best thieves in the game with a boost to basically every stealth skill that a thief could want.

Basically every single aspect of the Khajiit is geared towards making them the best stealthy murderers. There is no advantage to be had trying to turn them into something else, so just don’t bother. A stealthy approach via bow and poisoned arrows will get you through a lot of enemies, while your sword backup lets you handle close range.

Much like the Argonians, the Khajiit have had the restriction on what armor they can wear removed. This allows you to have a badass full suit of armor to compliment your natural kitty thief abilities. The claw ability is pretty useless in the long run - although it can be powerful in Helgen Keep and the first few dungeons. Use your bow at range and then cat scratch the heck out of them when they get in your face.

Kitty Meow-Meow will have access to:

Starting Skills

Alchemy: 20, Archery: 20, Lockpicking: 20, One Handed: 20, Pickpocket: 20 Sneak: 25

Passive Abilities

Claws – Khajiit can do 15 points of damage with unarmed attacks.

Activated Ability:

Night Eye – Improved night vision for 60 seconds.

Character Suggestions:

Since a Khajiit is designed to be a pure rogue, simply embrace this and pick them when you went the best of the best. Take a quick, light melee weapon like a dagger or light sword and get them enchanted when you want a stronger weapon. If you like, early on, you can stick with just your claws as they’re stronger than most knives and early game swords, but their effectiveness peters off quickly. Otherwise, stick with the bow and whatever poisons that you like to use.

A nice thing about the Khajiit is that their Night Eye ability is a power not a spell. This means you can have your two hands assigned and access your night vision at all times (unless you replace it with a shout).


It seems that in the world of The Elder Scrolls, Vikings are renowned for both their ability to bash your face in with a wide variety of weapons and chat with you. No longer are the Imperials the renowned masters of chit-chat, the Nords are giving them a run for their money. All joking aside, this likely reflects on the fact that you are in the Nordic homeland and people are going to be more positively inclined to their brethren.

As you can see, the Nord are designed to be straight up warriors although they have a preference for light armor. This doesn’t mean that they like to sneak or anything like that, they simply tend to prefer the maneuverability from bearing lighter loads. Slap them in a suit of Imperial Leather, give them a few perks and they can handle even the tough enemies like a trooper. If you do decide to use the lighter armor and not train up heavy armor, then it is best if you use a shield to help bolster your defenses.

It does bear noting that the Nord has very weak abilities. While Resist Frost is decent enough, Battle Cry is incredibly weak. For the most part you’ll really not want to bother with it as you should be killing enemies not chasing them off. The worst part is that sometimes the enemies will return to blindside you with a random ambush.

A Nord will have access to:

Starting Skills

Block: 20, Light Armor: 20, One Handed: 20, Smithing: 20, Speech: 20, Two Handed: 25

Passive Abilities

Resist Frost – Grants a 50% resistance to all Frost attacks.

Activated Ability:

Battle Cry – Targets will flee for 30 seconds although this can be resisted.

Character Suggestions:

Nords are Vikings. They hit stuff. Be a fighter. Yes, it really is that simple. All of their options are neatly laid out before you here. You will always be making use of Speech since it figures into buying and selling goods and you have your pick of using one-handed or two-handed weapons, so there is no reason to look any further than that. None of their skills or abilities give them much in the ways of flexibility in this regard either. So pick a Nord if their skills appeal to you as a fighter in a way that the Reguard or Orc don’t.


Contrary to what you might think from the name, these Orcs are less “human killing primitives” and more or less green skinned dwarves. They walk around with axes and hammers and are the most well renowned craftsmen in the world. In a way though, they’re a mix between the two; they are smiths who are also known for their berserker rage and for slaughtering their foes.

The Orc is almost like a specialized version of the Redguard. They trade in all of the Redguards magical capabilities for a greater focus on bashing faces in. Orcs are meant to be in a suit of heavy armor and charge right into the thick of combat with whatever weapon they so choose. Their special ability, Berserker Rage, allows them to deal double damage while taking half damage for a full minute. For an Orc with a two handed weapon in heavy armor, that is a death sentence for almost all opponents.

Like the Redguard, the Orc has a nice advantage due to his advanced smithing ability. This allows him to make good equipment to either sale or for personal use. But in addition to that, the Orc has a high Enchantment skill which allows him to make magical weapons and armor. Pairing those two skills up lets you craft surprisingly good weapons and armor pretty early into the adventure - if you choose the right perks.

An Orc will have access to:

Starting Skills

Block: 20, Enchanting: 20, Heavy Armor: 25, One Handed: 20, Smithing: 20, Two Handed: 20

Passive Abilities


Activated Ability:

Berserker Barrage Rage – You take half damage and do double damage for 60 seconds.

Character Suggestions:

The Orc is meant to be a fighter class and that’s the purpose you should put them towards. Choose your weapon early on and stick with it, there is little advantage to bouncing between one and two handed weapons. My personal preference has always been an Orc wielding a two-handed Hammer or Axe with a full set of heavy armor, but you may find that a sword and shield combo meets your preference.

If you’re interested in pursuing smithing and enchanting then you will want to dedicate yourself to it pretty intensely. Enchantment really requires you to devote yourself fully for it to really pay off. The only optional path is the elemental enchanter abilities on the left side. All of the others are incredibly helpful. Regular Smithing can be done a bit more sparingly, just be sure to get Arcane Smithing and at least Advanced Armors. Those are arguably some of the best perks.


Out of all of the character races in the game, the Redguard is the one most suitable for beginning players who want to play a head-up fighter. They can fight enemies with a bow, sword and shield or even use magical spells to attack foes. This means that they are specifically designed so that they can fight enemies however they please, which allows newbies to experiment with all of the various fighting styles in the game.

In addition, the boost to smithing means that you will be able to craft decent equipment early on for both wearing and selling purposes. When you find Ingots, leathers or other craftable materials simply bring them to the nearest town to craft or improve your current equipment. It is worthwhile to put some perks into smithing to gain the ability to craft better equipment since this will pay off in the long run.

The poison resistance is nice but it only comes into play every now and then. What is very useful is the Adrenaline Rush ability; this will come in very handy for both navigating the world map quickly and in tough fights. The power attack is a very useful tool for breaking enemy defenses and slaughtering weaker enemies in short order. Normally, you can only do one or two of them before taking a break, but with Adrenaline Rush you’ll be able to use them regularly.

A Redguard will have access to:

Starting Skills

Alteration: 20, Archery; 20, Block: 20 Destruction: 20, One Handed: 25, Smithing: 20

Passive Abilities

Resist Poison – Gives a 50% resistance to poison.

Activated Ability:

Adrenaline Rush – Stamina regenerates 10x faster for 60 seconds.

Character Suggestions:

As a personal point, I find that the Redguard is probably the single most newbie friendly character in the game. Pick your preferred choice of armor, pick a single handed weapon, grab a bow and you’re all set to play whatever type of character you like. Your magical abilities will enhance your ability to deal damage to your foes when your sword or bow just isn’t cutting it - which will make many of the boss fights a lot easier.

Due to this there aren’t many situations that your average Redguard can’t handle. If you’re brand new to the game series then this is the race you’ll want to pick.

Wood Elves (Bosmer)

When you think of hippie elves living as one with the forest, it’s the Bosmer you’re thinking of. Frankly, though the Bosmer are one of the best races in the game due to them having a good set of skills and a strong passive ability that helps out at almost every point in the game. Even with the dubious Command Animal racial ability these guys have a very impressive set of stats

Clearly the Bosmer are one of several races that are set up with a thief build in mind. However, they can also act as a fairly good warrior if you put them in light armor, train up either one or two-handed weapons and have them use poisons to help. But the purpose they are intended is an almost assassin like thief who uses poisoned arrows to weaken foes and bring them down from a distance.

Don’t bother picking a Bosmer if you aren’t going to work with that Archery stat of 25 and sneak around at least a little bit. Even if you train up another weapon for melee combat the bow should be your primary weapon with plenty of perks invested into it. The damage it can inflict is considerable and a poisoned, sneak attack arrow can leave an enemy in no condition to fight back even when they close in to melee range.

A Bosmer will have access to:

Starting Skills

Alchemy: 20, Archery: 25, Light Armor: 20, Lockpicking: 20, Pickpocket: 20, Sneak: 20

Passive Abilities

Resist Disease and Poison – Grants a 50% resistance to poison and disease.

Activated Ability:

Command Animal: Charm an animal into being an ally for 60 seconds.

Character Suggestions:

As mentioned above the Bosmer really excels in any form of combat that involves using a bow. Any character that you make should be taking advantage of the high archery skill as well as the starting talent with light armor. Use your early game perks to increase your skill in these two areas, notably Agile Defender, as this will make your light armor more effective than most of the heavy armor you’ll find.

This works out really well though because even if you aren’t specializing in stealth combat, the light armor and bow work really well for a careful player. Just use stealth to get a clear shot with your bow, take a sneak attack and then fight them however you please. Since Stealth starts at a 20, you will be in good shape to sneak around even the harder enemies so long as you stay far away or stand perfectly still in the shadows when they’re looking for you. If you take the Eagle Eye perk (requires Archery 30) then you will be able to sneak attack enemies from even further away, possibly in such a way that they have a hard time locating you.

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