Character progression works a little differently in Skyrim than it does in other common RPGs. It even works differently from that of Fallout, a game made by the same developer. Understanding how to level up in Skyrim is the first thing you need to become familiar with before you start attempting to level up your skills outlined in the posts below. This Skyrim Levelling guide will explain how to level your character up and how to boost each of your character's skills to become as strong as possible, as fast as possible.
In order to get up a level, you need to obtain a certain number of skill levels. Quite similar to how XP works in traditional RPGs, you will need to obtain a certain amount of these skill leveling order to reach the next level. You earn skill levels for performing actions that fall under a particular skill. For example, you increase your 1 handed weapon ability, by using one-handed weapons more frequently.
Once you have leveled up a particular skill a few times, it will become more difficult to obtain another level. On top of this, as you obtain more character levels, you will need to level up more skills in order to reach the requirement to get to the next level.
Each of the links below will explain what you need to do to level up that particular skill point as quickly as possible. Some skills can be leveled up much quicker than others, but each post will explain how to level each of your character skills as quickly as possible.
This should be a fairly self-explanatory one. Use a lot of healing spells. Most people will use this quite often anyway since it can get expensive having to constantly buy potions. A quick way to get this up quickly is to find some area in the game, such as a trap that doesn't get destroyed when you trigger it. Flame traps are usually good as they just keep blowing fire so long as you trigger them. Keep taking damage from the trap and also keep healing yourself as often as you can. Using the one-time healing spell rather than the continuous healing spell is the best way to go since you don't regain magika while you are casting a spell. Step away from the trap if you find you are taking more damage than you can heal. This can also be a great time to increase your light or heavy armor skill.
An alternative method would be to find an NPC that either you damage or someone else damaged, but does not become hostile. It also doesn't matter if they do become hostile, so long as they can't easily kill you. Equip a weak sword, or better a weak destruction magic spell. Start attacking them to take health away, this should allow you to raise the skill of your destruction magic or weapon skills. Then use the spell called "Helping Hands" to heal the same person. This lets you kill 2 birds with the one stone. IF they do land a few hits on you, it may also help you raise your defense skills.
This is a super easy one to spam, but it does take a while to actually get it finished. You will need to use a spell called "Muffle". This is a good one, since you can cast it while sneaking and it will help you out rather than alert enemies to your location, you can pretty much spend the entire duration of the game, spamming the hell out of this spell in order to level up your illusion ability much faster.
Another way to quickly increase your illusion magic skill is to use the "Courage" spell. You cast this spell on NPC characters in the game. It should allow you to further increase your illusion abilities and it should be faster than using the muffle method, although it is a lot slower. You can spam muffle as you go about your daily chores, but at least this is a useful alternative.
Depending on your play style, this may or may not be something you need to worry about. Destruction magic covers all of the magic types that can deal damage. If you are like me and prefer to go down the road of swords and shields, you might find that your destruction magic abilities are a little low. A less grindy way to level this up is to go to some dungeons or locations that contain enemies of a much lower skill level. Perhaps some of the early level areas that you skipped. You will have enough health and armor to absorb a lot of damage so you don't die and you can then focus on killing the enemies with your destruction spells in order to level it up.
If you don't feel like trecking around then you can also grind this. If you get lucky you might be able to find a hut or something with a door that can only fit a person, you can lure some highly powerful and large enemy, such as a giant to this location and he will get stuck outside. You can then attack away from inside, dealing damage without getting hurt. Another method people like is to summon a frost atronach or some other creature that you can summon using magic. Summon it and then kill it using destruction magic. You can then level up both conjuration and destruction at the same time. It will cost you quite a bit in magika though.
There is a sort of glitch that makes conjuration super easy to grind. The soul trap spell is used to fill soul gems. You cast it on enemies to steal their souls. Weirdly enough, it can be used on dead enemies. Doing so won't fill up any soul gems, but it does count toward the conjuration ability and will allow you to increase your conjuration skill by casting the soul trap spell on the same dead enemy over and over. I can remember getting a lot of levels by casting this on a dead deer, but it gets slower after a while and you may need to find a stronger creature to cast this on.
This magic skill can be easily increased by spamming the water breathing spell. Find a body of water and jump into it. Keep casting the water breathing spell over and over as fast as possible, you should be able to gain a large number of skill points in your alteration magic skill tree from spamming this spell.
There is a spell called "Transmute" that can help you increase your alteration magic skill while also earning you a shit ton of money. This spell turns iron into silver and if you cast it on silver, will turn it into gold. As you can guess, selling gold will earn you a pretty penny in the store. This is probably one of the best things to do early in the game. I didn't do this too much as I needed the iron to raise my smithing, so it was a difficult one to balance out, but this is still a useful one to know if you have a lot of spare iron.
This is easy to level up, but it will require you to procure a lot of items. Some of these items can be combined with the leveling of other abilities. For example, you can use a weak soul gem on an iron dagger. Since you will be making a lot of iron daggers to level up your smithing, you shouldn't have to spend any money sourcing these. To make things better, the dagger is worth more after being enchanted, but don't expect it to be a lottery win. You can purchase weak soul gems very cheaply in most stores, but you could fill them yourself using the soul trap spell. Keep spamming this and you should be able to increase your enchanting skill very quickly.
There are potions that you can drink to enhance your enchanting skill that let you perform actions outside of your base ability in order to level up even faster. If you find an enchanted weapon on your travels, you can use it at an enchantment table to disenchant. You will obtain the enchantment that it contains and it will further your enchantment skill.
Recharging enchanted weapons that have lost their charge is also a quick way to grind this without having to rely on enchanting daggers or other weapons. Keep refilling the enchantment and you will be furthering your enchantment abilities.
I found this to be a fairly boring one to level up, as I was not a bit fan of collecting leaves and flowers to make boring potions, however, this is what you need to do to level up your alchemy skill. If you find a vendor, you can purchase the ingredients that they have, go make the fanciest/expensive potions you can and sell them back to the vendor. This will give you back your money, hopefully, and allow you to increase your alchemy abilities.
This is the one skill that almost everyone wants to max out because of the awesome benefits that come with the high-end armor that you can produce once it is leveled up fully. The Daedric armor, in particular, can be the best armor in the game and outweigh the power of a lot of armor that contains enchantments. There is no real glitch to increasing your smithing, so you will need to obtain a large amount of materials. Various metals, iron in particular and leather will be required in fairly large quantities. So make sure you skin every animal you come across for the leather, and collect every piece of ore you come across, never leave metal behind. You can also make armor from dragon bones, so when you kill a dragon, collect the bones and drop them into a chest at your home for later use.
The most common method people use to increase your smithing skill in Skyrim is to make huge amounts of iron daggers. To do this, you just need leather and iron, but you will need a lot of it. Thankfully the iron daggers can also be combined with the guide to level up your enchanting skill, so you can earn a little money from this. Keep producing as many iron daggers as you possibly can. If you find other metals, you can also create more high level items that will give you a larger bonus toward your smithing skill.
Nearby stores will often sell iron and leather, but they don't have an unlimited supply, especially considering the quantity of these supplies that you require. This is why it is important to always remember this skill when you are in other towns and cities and when you are in the wild. Large animals contain leather which is very easy to obtain and iron veins are fairly common. Make sure you always have a pickaxe on you in order to mine the iron ore if you happen to come across some.
This is a sort of redundant skill since you can obtain a skeleton key that voids it, but for the sake of leveling up to the max, this can be a bit of a slow one. You will need a decent amount of lock picks in order to level up your lockpicking skill. You are bound to break a lot of them as you attempt to unlock the more difficult locks. The harder the lock, the more points you get toward raising the skill level. You should always make sure you have lockpicks on you and attempt to pick the lock on every door you find, so long as you don't get in trouble for it. If you find a bunch of jail cells with nothing inside, pick the locks anyway.
A very useful top for this is to find any city you like and pick every single lock you can find within the walls. Be careful of the guards of course as it is a crime to be picking locks. Once you have picked all of the locks, leave the city walls and wait for 24 hours. Once you come back, all the doors will be locked and you can pick them all over again. This will greatly increase the time it takes to increase your lockpicking skill in Skyrim.
This one can be a tricky one to increase since you can get yourself into a nice bit of trouble if you pickpocket the wrong person in the wrong place. There is no shortcut to cheat this one, you will need to pickpocket stuff from many different people to increase your pickpocket skill.
The best way to do this is to find an inn at night time. The larger the inn the better since you want as many sleeping NPCs as possible in order to have as much material to pickpocket from in the first place. Save the game often when doing this so when you get caught, you can just reload the last game save and try again. If you try to steal large and expensive items when your skill is low, you will get caught, so take it slow and go for the smaller items first. You can sell everything you steal to a fence in order to make a little money from this.
I found this to be one of the easiest skills to increase naturally. There are a lot of dungeons and caves in Skyrim and the main story progression will take you through a lot of them. There will be a lot of caves where you find sleeping Drauger. If you sneak around these guys and attack them with your bow, you will increase your sneak skill and bow skill. Since it is a sneak attack you may also kill the enemy in one shot.
In general, the best way to raise the sneak skill is to attack an enemy with a dagger from behind while sneaking. If you can do this while remaining unnoticed, you get a massive damage bonus and a large number of points toward the sneak skill. You can spam this on the graybeards, sneak behind them and keep attacking. When they stand up to attack you, stop and they will kneel back down, keep doing this over and over.
There is also an even easier way to increase your sneak skill. You can find a city guard who remains standing in the same location all the time. Typically someone standing on top of a tower or something. Make sure they don't notice you. Usually, you can walk against a wall and get sort of stuck so that your character keeps walking, but you are not actually moving anywhere. This counts as sneaking and will slowly raise your skill. If you tape stick or button down to move, you can go off for some coffee while your sneak skill is leveled up.
Speech is an underrated skill in Skyrim. It is one of those skills that doesn't seem important until you get to a point in the game where there is a speech option that could completely change the outcome of the conversation. This skill can be increased by attempting speech challenges with anyone that offers one. Fortunately, there is a glitch that allows you to get stuck in an infinite conversation loop where you can keep performing the same speech challenge over and over. This lets you quickly grind up the levels of your speech skill. Do this as soon as you can as it will be highly valuable to you throughout the game.
General bartering with stores does also increase your speech skill, but it seems to be a lot slower. There have been multiple occasions where I have purchased or sold something to a vendor and I have seen my speech skill increase. It doesn't look like this can be spammed by constantly buying and selling the same items though.
Light & Heavy Armor
There is no real way to cheat either of the armor abilities, but then again, the requirements to actually increase the skill is as basic as it gets. Take damage while wearing the armor of either type to increase your skill in either armor type. You can combine this with the grinding of restoration magic in order to kill 2 birds. You are going to take damage for the entire game though, so this shouldn't be much trouble to anyone.
If you are really needing to increase this, find the weakest enemy you can find and make it hostile toward you. Stand around and let them beat the crap out of you. Since they are at a low level, weak enemy, they should do very little damage to you, but your armor skills will increase. You can use restoration magic spells to make sure your health stays high and you don't accidentally get killed.
One & Two Handed Weapons
Just like armor, these are very simple to level up, but take a lot of time. You need to do damage against enemies with either weapon type in order to increase the weapon skill. The stronger the enemy, the faster your skill will increase. When it comes to the higher levels, this will be important as you will find that killing low-level enemies, does not help you much.
One thing people like to do is attack the horse that you obtain from the Dark Brotherhood storyline. This horse is called Shadowmere and has a crazy high amount of health. He can also heal incredibly fast, meaning you can just keep attacking this horse over and over and it will never die. This will definitely help you increase your weapon skills without having to find high-level enemies or risk getting killed.
Another method you can use to increase your weapon skill is to conjure some creature using a spell. Once it has spawned, attack it and keep attacking until it is dead. This will also help you increase your conjuration magic skill.
Another very simple one, but highly time-consuming and boring as hell to grind. You need to equip a shield and just take a ton of damage. Early on in the game, you can equip a shield and go to the river to find mud crabs. Let them deal a bunch of damage do you and you will increase your blocking skill. After you gain a few more levels, the mud crabs won't do a whole lot of damage anymore. You will need to go and find some stronger enemies and perform the same thing. Giants might be a good way to go, but no matter what enemy you choose, it will need to be something strong in order to deal a lot of damage. You will also need to be quite strong so that you don't get your ass handed to you while you stand there holding a shield like an idiot.
Increasing your archery skill in Skyrim is based on the amount of damage that you deal rather than the number of hits you get. With this in mind, you can increase your archery skill incredibly fast simply by finding an enemy that does not have a ranged attack and attacking them from a high location where they can't reach you. If you have a high powered bow and a lot of good arrows, you can go to the mammoth fields and climb up somewhere high, like a cliff ledge or something. Increase the difficulty of the game and deal as much damage as you can to the nearby mammoths. They are unable to attack from a ranged distance and they won't be able to reach you if you are up high. You can deal a huge amount of damage with your bow in a short amount of time using this method.
A more useful and less grindy tip is to take advantage of the damage bonus that you get while sneaking. If you sneak and attack an enemy who is not aware you are there, will deal triple damage. In the Drauger caves, you will find a lot of them sleeping, you can almost always tell which ones are alive and which ones are not going to move. Attack these enemies while sneaking with your bow to deal a lot of damage and quickly kill the entire cave of enemies. Since they are sleeping, killing one sleeping Drauger with a sneak attack using your bow, will not wake up other nearby enemies. Do this as often as you can to quickly increase your archery and sneak skill while making the encounters with the drauger a lot easier and reduces the risk of them ever swarming you.
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