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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim beginner's guide

Perks

Numerous things set this game apart from previous entries in the Elder Scrolls series, but none are more important to character customization than the perks. There are 280 different perks to choose from as you level up - one per level. Due to the loss of attributes these are the only way to improve your skills without directly improving them.


Mage Sign

Alteration

Novice Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Novice level Alteration spells for half magicka.

Alteration Dual Casting
Requisites: Alteration 20, Novice Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Dual casting an Alteration spell overcharges the effect into a more powerful spell.

Apprentice Alteration
Requisites: Alteration 25, Novice Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Apprentice level Alteration spells for half magicka.

Mage Armor
Requisites: Alteration 30, Apprentice Alteration
Ranks: 3
Effect: Protection spells like Stoneflesh or Oakflesh are 2x as strong if not wearing armor. Each rank increases the multiplier by 1
Notes: Don’t bother with this unless you’re using a fully non-armor build. It’s a very powerful perk but it’s only compatible with robes or clothing. Honestly you don’t need armor when you can cast a Stoneflesh spell that grants 240 armor.

Magic Resistance
Requisites: Alteration 30, Apprentice Alteration
Ranks: 3
Effect: Blocks 10% of a spells effect, +5% per rank.

Adept Alteration
Requisites: Alteration 50, Apprentice Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Adept level Alteration spells for half magicka.

Stability
Requisites: Alteration 70, Adept Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: All Alteration spells have a greater duration.

Expert Alteration
Requisites: Alteration 75, Adept Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Expert Level Alteration spells for half magicka.

Atronach
Requisites: Alteration 100, Expert Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Absorb 30% of the magicka from any hostile spells cast upon you.

Master Alteration
Requisites: Alteration 100, Expert Alteration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Master level Alteration spells for half magicka.

Conjuration
Novice Conjuration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Novice level Conjuration spells for half the magicka.

Conjuration Dual Casting
Requisites: Conjuration 20, Novice Conjuration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Dual casting Conjuration spells overcharges the effects into a stronger version of the spell.

Mystic Binding
Requisites: Conjuration 20, Novice Conjuration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Bound weapons do more damage.

Apprentice Conjuration
Requisites: Conjuration 25, Novice Conjuration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Apprentice level Conjuration spells for half the magicka.

Soul Stealer
Requisites: Conjuration 30, Mystic Binding
Ranks: 1
Effect: Bound Weapons cast Soul Trap on targets on strike.

Summoner
Requisites: Conjuration 30, Novice Conjuration
Ranks: 2
Effect: Can summon Atronachs or raise undead from 2x the distance (+1 for second rank).

Atromancy
Requisites: Conjuration 40, Summoner
Ranks: 1
Effect: Summoned Atronachs last for twice as long.

Necromancy
Requisites: Conjuration 40, Novice Conjuration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Reanimated undead last for much longer.

Adept Conjuration
Requisites: Conjuration 50, Soul Stealer
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast adept level Conjuration spells for half the magicka.

Oblivion Binding
Requisites: Conjuration 50, Soul Stealer
Ranks: 1
Effect: Bound Weapons will banish summoned creatures and turn reanimated undead.

Dark Souls
Requisites: Conjuration 70, Necromancy
Ranks: 1
Effect: Reanimated undead have 100 more hit points.

Expert Conjuration
Requisites: Conjuration 75, Adept Conjuration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Expert level Conjuration spells for half the magicka cost.

Elemental Potency
Requisites: Conjuration 80, Atromancy
Ranks: 1
Effect: Conjured Atronachs are 50% more powerful.
Note: If you’re going to play a summoner character this perk is an absolute must have. Using the various Atronachs will give you an easy edge over most of the enemies in this game. Flame Atronachs are especially effective against Trolls, Frost type enemies and some dragons.

Master Conjuration
Requisites: Conjuration 100, Expert Conjuration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Master level Conjuration spells for half the magicka cost.

Twin Souls
Requisites: Conjuration 100, Dark Souls, Elemental Potency
Ranks: 1
Effect: You may summon two Atronachs or reanimated zombies.
Note: Another must have. Using a pair of Atronachs will more or less let you steamroll over those enemies who are foolish enough to get in your way.


Destruction

Novice Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Novice level Destruction spells for half the magicka cost.

Destruction Dual Casting
Requisites: Destruction 20, Novice Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Dual casting a Destruction spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful spell.

Apprentice Destruction
Requisites: Destruction 25, Novice Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Apprentice level Destruction spells for half the magicka cost.

Augmented Flames
Requisites: Destruction 30, Novice Destruction
Ranks: 2
Effect: Each rank causes your fire spells to do 25% more damage.

Augmented Frost
Requisites: Destruction 30, Novice Destruction
Ranks: 2
Effect: Each rank causes your frost spells to do 25% more damage.

Augmented Shock
Requisites: Destruction 30, Novice Destruction
Ranks: 2
Effect: Each rank causes your shock spells to do 25% more damage.

Impact
Requisites: Destruction 40, Apprentice Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Destruction spells may stagger an opponent when dual cast.

Rune Master
Requisites: Destruction 40, Apprentice Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast can place spell runes down up to five times farther away.

Adept Destruction
Requisites: Destruction 50, Apprentice Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Adept level Destruction spells for half the magicka cost.

Intense Flames
Requisites: Destruction 50, Augmented Flames
Ranks: 1
Effect: Fire spells cause targets to flee if their health gets low.
Note: An interesting perk but fairly worthless. If their health is low you want them to stay still so you can finish them off. If this came before Augmented Flames it would possibly be worthwhile but since it comes after a damage buff it’s easily pass on.

Deep Freeze
Requisites: Destruction 60, Augmented Frost
Ranks: 1
Effect: Frost spells paralyze the target if their health is low.
Note: This perk is actually pretty effective since it locks enemies in place so you can finish them off. Watch as your spells drain their stamina so they can’t use power attacks or shield bashes then lock them in place so they can be finished off.

Disintegrate
Requisites: Destruction 70, Augmented Shock
Ranks: 1
Effect: Shock spells will disintegrate a target if their health gets low.
Note: Disintegrate is only useful when dealing with enemies that can raise the dead since all it really does is clean up the bodies. It will rarely kill off an enemy before its health gets too low but when that happens it’s pretty helpful.

Expert Destruction
Requisites: Destruction 75, Adept Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Expert level Destruction spells for half the magicka cost.

Master Destruction
Requisites: Destruction 100, Expert Destruction
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Master level Destruction spells for half the magicka cost.


Enchanting

Enchanter
Ranks: 5
Effect: Each rank causes new enchantments to be 20% stronger.
Note: It isn’t entirely obvious what this does at first glance. The actual effect is that it modifies the equipment that you make. So if you make an Orcish Helmet with Fortify Heavy Armor and try to put in a Common Soul gem, the bonus you get might only be a +4 or +5. But with three ranks in this (+60% bonus) the helmet will provide a +6 or +7 instead. This gets incredibly helpful when you make weapons that fortify their skill with a Greater Soul Gem, leading to boosts up to +24 or higher.

Soul Squeezer
Requisites: Enchanting 20, Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Soul gems provide extra magicka when used for recharging.
Note: Recharge equipment by selecting it in your inventory and pressing RB or R1. This perk simply makes each gem provide about ten or twenty percent more energy to the equipment.

Fire Enchanter
Requisites: Enchanting 30, Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Fire enchantments placed on weapons and armor are 25% stronger. This means both offensive and defensive abilities are enhanced.

Frost Enchanter
Requisites: Enchanting 40, Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Frost enchantments placed on weapons and armor are 25% stronger. This means both offensive and defensive abilities are enhanced.

Soul Siphon
Requisites: Enchanting 40, Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Executions will trap 5% of a non-humanoid enemy's soul inside of a magic weapon thus recharging it. It’s like using a petty soul gem without needing to carry the gems around.
Note: Pair this up with the Conjuration perks Mystic Binding and Soul Stealer to keep yourself loaded up with plenty of souls. Your weapons will never run out of energy.

Insightful Enchanter
Requisites: Enchanting 50, Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Skill enchantments on armor are 25% stronger.

Storm Enchanter
Requisites: Enchanting 50, Frost Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Shock enchantments placed on weapons and armor are 25% stronger. This means both offensive and defensive abilities are enhanced.

Corpus Enchanter
Requisites: Enchanting 70, Insightful Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Health, magicka and stamina enchantments on armor are 25% stronger.

Extra Effect
Requisites: Enchanting 100, Corpus Enchanter, Storm Enchanter
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can put two enchantments onto the same item. This is incredibly powerful and if you’re attempting to seriously enchant items then you will want to invest in this.


Illusion

Novice Illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Cast Novice level Illusion spells for half the magicka.

Animage
Requisites: Illusion 20, Novice Illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Illusion spells now work on higher level animals.
Note: Unless you plan on casting spells on Mammoths this can be passed on safely. Otherwise it’s only really helpful when dealing with Sabre Cats, Mammoths and Snow Wolves. Unfortunately if you want to get the useful perks, like the ones that work on higher level people or quiet casting, then you need to take this. Lame.

Illusion Dual Casting
Requisites: Illusion 20, Novice illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Dual casting an Illusion spell overcharges the spell into an even more powerful one.

Apprentice Illusion
Requisites: Illusion 25, Novice Illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Apprentice level Illusion spells for half the magicka cost.

Hypnotic Gaze
Requisites: Illusion 30, Novice Illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Calm spells now work on higher level opponents.
Note: This perk is really only useful for assassin types who want to disengage enemies so that they can land a sneak attack.

Kindred Mage
Requisites: Illusion 40, Animage
Ranks: 1
Effect: Illusion spells will now work on higher level humanoid opponents.

Adept Illusion
Requisites: Illusion 50, Apprentice illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Adept level Illusion spells for half the magicka cost.

Aspect of Terror
Requisites: Illusion 50, Hypnotic Gaze
Ranks: 1
Effect: Fear spells will now work on higher level opponents.

Quiet Casting
Requisites: Illusion 50, Kindred Mage
Ranks: 1
Effect: All spells that you cast are now silent to others. This works with the spells from every school, not just Illusion so it’s quite useful.
Note: While you don’t need this per se it’s incredibly useful for stealthy types as it lets them summon up allies, heal themselves or paralyze opponents from the safety of stealth. Plus you need this to get to Master of the mind so you’re going to end up taking it either way.

Rage
Requisites: Illusion 70, Aspect of Terror
Ranks: 1
Effect: Frenzy spells now work on higher level opponents.
Note: When this is paired up with Quiet Casting and a good stealth rating it’s now possible to turn even the strongest enemies against one another without them even knowing you’re there. This is one of the few times that Frenzy spells are much of any use as enemies will otherwise tend to target you over other enemies regardless of what spells you cast.

Expert Illusion
Requisites: Illusion 75, Adept Illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Expert Illusion spells for half the magicka cost.

Master of the Mind
Requisites: Illusion 90, Rage, Quiet Casting
Ranks: 1
Effect: Illusion spells work on undead, daedra and automatons now.
Note: If you’re making constant use of Illusion magic then this is an absolute must-have perk. When you start dealing with these enemies late game they’re immune to all targeted Illusion magic so you need this perk to have any effect on them at all.

Master Illusion
Requisites: Illusion 100, Expert Illusion
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Master level Illusion spells for half the magicka cost.


Restoration

Novice Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Novice level Restoration spells for half the magicka cost.

Regeneration
Requisites: Restoration 20, Novice Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Healing spells are now 50% more effective.

Restoration Dual Casting
Requisites: Restoration 20, Novice Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Dual casting a Restoration spell overcharges it into an even more powerful version.

Apprentice Restoration
Requisites: Restoration 25, Novice Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Apprentice level Restoration spells for half the magicka cost.

Recovery
Requisites: Restoration 30, Novice Restoration
Ranks: 2
Effect: Each rank causes your magicka to regenerate 25% faster.

Respite
Requisites: Restoration 40, Novice Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Healing spells also restore stamina.
Note: We believe this perk stacks with the Regeneration one listed above.

Adept Restoration
Requisites: Restoration 50, Apprentice Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Adept level Restoration spells for half the magicka cost.

Ward Absorb
Requisites: Restoration 60, Novice Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Magicka is recharged when your ward is hit by spells.

Necromage
Requisites: Restoration 70, Regeneration
Ranks: 1
Effect: All spells are more effective when cast against the undead.

Expert Restoration
Requisites: Restoration 75, Adept Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Expert level spells for half the magicka cost.

Avoid Death
Requisites: Restoration 90, Respite
Ranks: 1
Effect: Once per day you heal 250 hit points automatically when your health falls below 10%

Master Restoration
Requisites: Restoration 100, Expert Restoration
Ranks: 1
Effect: Can cast Master level Restoration spells for half the magicka cost.

58 comments

  • Bansheebot - November 10, 2011 6:28 p.m.

    World of "CYRODIIL"!!!!!1111?!~!!???!!! RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE -IT'S TAMRIEL YOU IGN'RNT BAG OF FLESH.
  • misfit119 - November 11, 2011 1:19 a.m.

    If we're being really picky it should be Nirn since Cyrodil is just a continent, not the world. But who nitpicks?
  • Person5 - November 11, 2011 2:49 a.m.

    Well Cyrodil is a country or region, Tamriel is the continent, I'm just glad I wasn't the only one who noticed that
  • deedob - November 11, 2011 4:34 a.m.

    Yeah, as those comments say, Cyrodil is not the "world". Cyrodil is the name of the imperial province. Morrowind is the name of the province ruled by the dark elves. Skyrim is the name of the province ruled by the nords, which is located just north of Cyrodil and west of Morrowind. "Tamriel" is the name of the continent where the provinces are located, one for each race (Skyrim - nord, Summerset Isle - high elves, Morrowind - dark elves, Cyrodil - imperials, Black Marsh - argonian, Elsweyr - Kahjit, and the Breton and orc province whose name i forgot and where Daggerfall is.) To the best of my knowledge, the name of the "world" itself has never been mentionned in any of the Elder Scrolls game (though i have not played Redguard, BattleSpire and the mobile version of Oblivion). But the continent is Tamriel.
  • misfit119 - November 11, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    As I mentioned above the world is Nirn. That's actually what it's supposed to say but I made a flub since I was looking at notes relating to Oblivion. The worlds name is mentioned in several books in previous games. I was trying to refer to the world since Alduin is known as "The World Eater" and just ended up typing Cyrodiil instead of Nirn.
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - November 11, 2011 12:37 p.m.

    All right you nerds we fixed it.
  • jax1293 - November 10, 2011 6:32 p.m.

    hes right though its tamriel cyrodill was where the imperials live in oblivion
  • theycallmegep - November 10, 2011 6:43 p.m.

    Just to let you know... "As is par for the course, the player gets to pick from a wide variety of races. However, this is more important than ever before as there are no classes, birth signs or even stats. You’re going to want to pick your class very carefully. " "...there are no classes..." "...pick your class very carefully." Just pointing it out, otherwise good stuff...I love all the skyrim content you guys have posted!
  • theycallmegep - November 10, 2011 7:16 p.m.

    wait i lied...there are tons of typos...oh well
  • misfit119 - November 11, 2011 1:17 a.m.

    Argh! Dammit all! Proofreading you fail me again. out back to commit seppuku.
  • codzprc - November 10, 2011 6:52 p.m.

    Daniel was obviously rushed on this article. The Cyrodill thing is still funny, though. Decent read.
  • D0CCON - November 10, 2011 7:04 p.m.

    I always make two characters in Elder Scrolls games, a sword and/or magic character and a stealthy character. In Oblivion, the sword/magic character was a High Elf and the stealthy character was a dark elf, so I think I'll go for a Breton battlemage and a Khajiit stealth character this time (especially since he'll be able to wear armor now!)
  • D0CCON - November 10, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    Actually, I'm not sure if I want Khajiit or Wood Elf (I was actually a wood elf, not a dark elf in Oblivion). I'd like to try something new, but Wood Elf did work pretty darn good.
  • misfit119 - November 11, 2011 1:23 a.m.

    The Wood Elves make FANTASTIC stealth characters. I'm playing one to do the guides since their bow skill makes dragon hunting much, much easier. The Khajiit are pretty awesome in this one but I think the Wood Elf is by and far the best for combat stealth.
  • jasoncarter - November 13, 2011 11:34 p.m.

    Honestly do whatever you feel is best. I like magic, and khajiits, thus khajiit mage/thief. Love it to death.
  • Ultimadrago - November 10, 2011 8:21 p.m.

    Thanks a TON Daniel! This is a good guide. I should help others a ton. I'm reading through it all myself despite Oblivion experience to get a heads-up on the improved systems and perks!
  • Kyo - November 10, 2011 8:30 p.m.

    Nice guide, though I find it hard to decide who I should believe in the end.. IGN's guide had this "Tough and hardy, they make great heavy warriors. Their famed battlecry makes them the toughest races" for Nords... You have them as one of the weakest and a light armor class.. what the hell? lol This ruined my entire plan O_O
  • misfit119 - November 11, 2011 1:21 a.m.

    Here's the thing, IGN's guide is using the old stats to describe some of the races. This is no longer a factor. Nords are no longer raging beasts full of HP due to having high Stamina. In this they're almost designed to be like Viking Berserker types, wearing light armor so they move quickly with a pair of axes and chop fools to pieces. My Nord is hell on wheels wielding two enchanted Orcish war axes and wearing a set of Scaled Light armor. Battlecry is overrated - all of the abilities are actually. The Shouts are infinitely stronger.
  • Kyo - November 11, 2011 10:33 a.m.

    Ha yea I ended up getting the guide because.. well it's beautiful(big damn book) and it pretty much backs up what this guide and you've said. Long story short I wanted heavy armor, made an orc. IGN is sad.
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - November 11, 2011 12:42 p.m.

    Most of the racial abilities are crap, but for instance I played as a High Elf pure mage and the magicka regen ability was huge during boss fights.

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