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The Fastest Ways to Level in Skyrim

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An in-depth guide to all of the fastest and most efficient methods of gaining levels in Skyrim. Every skill is included and explained in detail!

General Tips


Warning


Power-leveling early on in your game can make your life a living hell. Enemies level with you until level 50, meaning if you power-level skills that don't greatly increase your combat effectiveness you can find yourself unable to defeat ANYTHING in a hurry. I personally would advise holding off on power-leveling non-combat skills until high levels, maybe around level 40. Just be careful - being overpowered by even the weakest NPC enemies is a very frustrating ordeal. If you're not sure if your plans to level are too excessive, you should use our help forum for advice.

Leveling Order


Power-leveling is easiest if done in a certain order, as effects and bonuses granted from other skills can greatly aid in increasing experience in others. Although by no means required, leveling skills in the following groups is probably the most efficient.

Each main bullet contains skills or events you should achieve before leveling the skills in the sub-bullets. There's no order of priority for sub-bullets (e.g. you don't need to train Alteration before Restoration and Heavy Armor), nor main bullets (100 Smithing/Enchanting doesn't need to be reached to acquire Shadowmere).
  • 100 Smithing and Enchanting
    • Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, and Illusion - By leveling enchanting early you can achieve -100% spell cost for the magic skills. This vastly decreases the amount of time required to max them.
    • Restoration, Heavy/Light Armor, and Block - Restoration can achieve 0 spell cost, and the defense skills can be buffed via armor enchantments/smithing improvements.
    • Alchemy - Creating apparel with "Fortify Alchemy" enchantments increases the value of each potion you craft, and as a result vastly improves the speed at which you can gain experience.
  • Acquire Shadowmere - Skills that require mundane spamming of attacks benefit from having the horse to tank.
    • Archery, One Handed, Two Handed, Sneak - Enchanting apparel to fortify these skills is still beneficial when training with Shadowmere.
  • Other - No particular event/skill is directly beneficial.
    • Pickpocket and Speech - These skills can be leveled extremely fast due to bugs, and thus don't require special prerequisites. However, normal training methods will benefit from enchanting gear to fortify what skill you're trying to train.

Leveling Bonuses


Using the Guardian Stones, you're able to increase the amount of experience you receive when leveling your skills.

Guardian Stones
  • The Warrior Stone: Combat skills increase 20% faster. Located Southwest of Riverwood.
  • The Thief Stone: Stealth skills increase 20% faster. Located Southwest of Riverwood.
  • The Mage Stone: Magic skills improve 20% faster. Located Southwest of Riverwood.
  • The Lover Stone: All skills improve 15% faster. Located East of Markarth.
Other Bonuses
  • Rested: Skills increase 5% faster for 8 hours. Obtained after sleeping in someone else's bed for a full night.
  • Well-Rested: Skills increase 10% faster for 8 hours. Obtained after sleeping in a bed owned by you for a full night.
  • Lover's Comfort: Skills increase 15% faster for 8 hours. Obtained after sleeping with your wife for a full night (note: you must first be married, you sly dog).
Note: If you have the Lover Stone activated, you are not able to acquire resting bonuses.

Quick Bullets


The following tips will work for most - if not all - skills.
  • You can find trainers who double as possible companions. This allows you to purchase training from them (5 skill levels per character level) and then take your gold back out of their inventory through the follower menu.
  • On a related Trainer note, if you have a high enough skill in pickpocket you can also just steal your money back that way.
  • Increasing the game difficulty will raise the health of NPC's. Since you won't be actively fighting them when power-leveling some skills (such as Archery or Destruction), the increased danger you face is irrelevant. Raising the difficulty will, however, allow you to get more experience from them before they die. It also works for non-enemies such as Shadowmere.
Those are just a few things you should keep in mind as you continue reading through this guide.

Combat Skills


Archery


Archery is relatively easy to train. Get as many of the best arrows as possible, your best bow, and spam your attack! The tricky part is finding NPC's that will, you know, let you unload your entire quiver of arrows into them without putting up a fight.

Methods
  • Get Shadowmere and lob as many arrows into her as you can without killing her. It's not necessary to full draw - just stand right next to the horse and spam the shoot button as fast as you can.
  • Southeast of Falkreath is a woman named Angi, who lets you train archery for free by giving you targets to hit in a certain amount of time. If mini-games are your thing, it can help take away from the mundane nature of power-leveling.
  • Find an enemy NPC with a high amount of health, get them stuck on some object in the environment, and fire away! Mammoths work exceptionally well with this because of their large size and high health.
This skill is a good example of when raising the difficulty for increased NPC health can be very beneficial in leveling efficiency.

Block


Training block is another (mostly) passive endeavor. The following methods are what we recommended for increasing block as fast as possible.

Methods
  • Eat something with a regenerate stamina effect, such as vegetable soup. Find an enemy and start shield bashing him; if done correctly, the NPC should be stun-locked and unable to attack you. As you slowly kill him, your block will be increasing.
  • Most players resort to simply finding an NPC and letting them attack while blocking. Weak enemies - such as mudcrabs - will allow you the option of taping your block key down and letting the game run without doing anything, since they have low damage output. However, blocking attacks from giants or dragons will give you much more experience per attack (although this is dangerous).

Heavy Armor


Leveling heavy armor is best done in conjunction with the restoration skill (if you're interested in leveling it), as the amount of experience you gain is related to how much damage you're taking. A hit from a giant, for example, will give much more experience than multiple hits from a skeever. As a result, you're going to be healing. A lot.

Methods
  • Let your character be a punching bag! Find an enemy, and let them beat the hell out of you; the harder you're being hit, the better. As a result, you're going to want to be restoring your health at the same time (using either potions or restoration spells).
  • The trick is finding an NPC that you're capable of sustaining a few attacks against. For example, Giants do massive amounts of damage and would be a good idea for high leveled players. However, low level players will die in one hit from these NPC's, and this should try something else.
If leveling alongside restoration, you may want to wait until you have armor enchanted to give the Restoration school of magic zero spell cost. This requires 100 enchanting (and at that point probably 100 smithing), but it will make increasing Heavy Armor a walk in the park. If this seems like a long path to take to max Heavy Armor - just do it without. It's still an easy skill to level.

One Handed


Similar to the other combat-oriented skills, leveling One Handed is going to consist of you pounding an NPC until you've achieved the level you want. Again, experience is based on the base damage of the weapon you're using - not on many times you make an attack. As a result, you should use whatever weapon you have that has the highest damage/attack per second. Daedric Daggers are probably the most efficient choice.

Methods
  • Attack Shadowmere! Damn, if that horse isn't useful for taking abuse.
  • Summon atronachs (especially the Frost variety due to the high HP) and attack them.
This is another skill where increasing the game difficulty for NPC health boosts is beneficial. Just be careful, as in the case of summons, you will eventually be attacked.

Two Handed


Just like One Handed, your experience is based off of the base damage of your weapon. Taking ATS (attacks per second) into account, your most efficient weapon type should be Battle Axes.

Methods
  • Spam Shadowmere with attacks.
  • Summon and attack Frost atronachs.
Again, if using Shadowmere you should increase the game difficulty to maximize the health of the horse.

Crafting Skills


Alchemy


This skill takes a long, long time to level. More valuable potions give you more experience. Remember to eat one of each ingredient so you know what the effects are!

Methods
  • Buy. All. Of. The. Ingredients. You. Can. There's no fantastic secret to leveling alchemy - you need to buy ingredients and turn them into potions. Fast travel between towns and buy up all of the ingredients.
  • If you enjoy hunting giants, combining a giant's toe with wheat yields a potion that can be sold for 1,000+ gold depending on your level. As more valuable potions give more experience, this is fantastic for multiple reasons. Just note that giants have a long respawn time in the game (estimated at roughly three weeks).
Since this skill is largely based on potion value, it's recommended that you enchant gear fortifying alchemy to maximize the value of your potions.

Enchanting and Smithing


These two skills should be done together, as each complements the other.

Methods
  • Smith Iron Daggers
  • Enchant said Iron Daggers.
Due to the in-depth nature of Enchanting and what you can do with it, we already have a fantastic independent guide dedicated to leveling these two skills. Check out our Smithing and Enchanting Guide for more specific information. It also describes how you can achieve unlimited magicka through zero spell cost, which is necessary for power-leveling many of the magic skills. I can't emphasize Enchanting enough; you can enchant yourself apparel that fortifies all of your other skills, and thus makes leveling them easier.

04/08/12 NOTE: As of the v1.5 patch, Smithing is changed to give experience based on the value of the item you create. This will make it similar to most other skills, and eliminates the efficiency of the iron dagger method. We'll post more information soon after some testing. Initial feedback has suggested that crafting jewelry with the "Transmute Mineral Ore" spell via iron ore is the new fastest method. If you have not installed patch 1.5, the dagger method will still be the best route. Enchanting remains unchanged.

Magic Skills


Things to Know - Magic Skills


The higher the level of spell ( Novice < Apprentice < Adept < Expert < Master ), the more experience you're going to receive for casting it. This goes for all of the magic skills. The following recommendations are assuming that you already have armor enchanted so that 0 magicka is required to cast spells in the schools of magic you're attempting to train. If you have not done this yet, it's highly recommended. An in-depth explanation can be found by reading a sub-section of our Smithing and Enchanting Guide.

I'd also recommend dual-casting the spells (when applicable) while training since you'll double the amount of experience you get.

Alteration


Alteration spells are generally quick and painless to acquire and level with.

Methods
  • Casting Detect Life is an easy way to level quickly. The spell gives you experience based on the amount of life you detect, so your best bet is to cast it in crowded buildings. A good example being the Ragged Flagon in Riften if you're in the Thieves Guild, or The Bannered Mare in Whiterun.
  • You can cast Telekinesis to move objects; in fact, you can even dual-cast it to grab two items. You'll gain experience as long as you maintain control of the object, so this is a fantastic method if you've enchanted armor to give you 0 spell cost for the Alteration school.
  • Players can cast defensive spells such as Stone Flesh to gain experience; however, you must be in a combat situation. If using this method, just try to get a hostile NPC stuck on some environment object and cast it in a safe location that's near them.

Conjuration


Conjuration is one of those skills that's very slow leveling if done the organic way. Fortunately, though, this is a power-leveling guide and we don't care about leveling things naturally.

Methods
  • Cast Soul Trap repeatedly on Shadowmere (probably the most convenient method).
  • Find any dead corpse and cast Soul Trap on it; an example being the skeleton remains right near the entrance of Labyrinthian. Assuming you dual-cast, you'll power to level 100 in under 20 minutes.

Destruction


Assuming you have zero magicka cost, you're in for another cake-walk.

Methods
  • Cast spells on Shadowmere. Poor horsey, she's taken a lot of abuse throughout this guide. Dual-casting will give you the most experience again. If you find that you're depleting her health too fast, you can 1) turn up the difficulty or 2) cast a healing spell on Shadowmere in one hand and a destruction spell in the other.

Illusion


Although an often ignored skill since it doesn't have much to do with combat, Illusion is far from worthless. I'm sure some of you will be searching for tips on how to train it, and we won't let you down!

Methods
  • Cast Muffle on yourself. You're able to gain experience even when no one else is around.
  • Casting Rally and Courage in large groups of NPC's can level Illusion quickly. This shouldn't get you a bounty even if you're casting it on townsfolk.

Restoration


Since we've touched upon this earlier, there's not a whole lot of new material to add. The process of leveling Restoration is simple - take (or give) damage and heal. It's important to note that you'll only gain experience while healing when your health is not full, or when you're taking damage. You will NOT level Restoration just by using the spells like in Oblivion.

Methods
  • Triggering flame traps in Dwemer Ruins are fantastic ways to level Restoration; just heal as the flame whittles away at your health.
  • Many players choose to level this alongside the Heavy/Light Armor skills; just heal as you take damage.
  • You can train Restoration by casting Equilibrium and Healing yourself.
  • You can use it alongside Destruction by casting damaging spells on Shadowmere and using healing hands to heal her at the same time.
  • Spells such as Circle of Protection can be cast at anytime for experience
Whew! On to the Stealth skills.

Stealth Skills


Light Armor


See Heavy Armor above, under "Combat Skills."

Lockpicking


There's really no fun or extremely fast way to level this skill, so hopefully you enjoy the lockpicking mini-game. If not, well, you're in for a bit of work. The main thing to take away from lockpicking is that you gain more experience the more difficult the lock is (obviously), although some experience is granted even if you fail.

Methods
  • Some people just purposefully fail at the lockpicking game repeatedly, reasoning that it's easier just to get mass numbers of lockpicks and fail than successfully open high level locks. This isn't a completely awful idea if you're sitting on thousands of lock picks. Just find a lock that doesn't open at the default position and repeatedly break your picks.
  • The Dwemer Museum, which is in Markarth's UnderStone Keep, is a fantastic place to legitimately train as it contains hundreds of locks to pick.
  • The Skeleton Key, the Daedric artifact obtained during the Thieves Guild quest line, never breaks. It's a good idea to hold onto it if you're going to attempt to train by opening master locks.
Note: Picking a lock that you have already successfully opened will not grant you more experience. Good examples being house doors, which lock every night.

Pickpocket


This is going to be fun. Dangerous and potentially embarrassing, but fun nonetheless. Anyways, pickpocket experience is directly related to the value of the item you are potentially stealing. The chance you have of successfully stealing an item is related to the items weight, so you're looking for items that are high in value but low in weight. Jewelry is a great example.

Methods
  • One of the best methods involves stealing from Sibbi Black-Briar, who is jailed in Riften. You can pick-pocket Sibbi to your heart's content, and ride the experience all the way to Master Pickpocket. Since he's in jail, he can't stop you, nor will he call for the guards. Your bounty won't even increase from the crime. Note that you do have to be arrested and then escape from the jail in order for this bug to work. Attempting to pickpocket Sibbi as a free man will result in the normal crime and punishment penalties. If a patrolling guard is present in the room, you may also have to eliminate him.
  • People love stealing from Trainers. Buy your levels, and then steal back your money. You're getting great experience since not only are you leveling from your purchases, but the... You know... stealing thing... is also giving you experience. Rinse and repeat. Just note that after the NPC's get around 1,000 gold, the chance of success decreases dramatically.
  • Reverse pick-pocketing items gives you experience as well. This means you're GIVING people items without them noticing. If you do this with gold, it will join the cache the NPC already had in the first place. You're then able to steal it all back for double the experience. Again, rinse and repeat as necessary.

Sneak


You probably remember training Sneak in Oblivion by tying a rubber band to your controller and leaving your character in a city for a few hours. Well, you CAN still do that, but there are better ways.

Methods
  • Successful Sneak Attacks with melee weapons give you the most experience, specifically daggers. Shadowmere is again a good option for you to attack, as are summons such as Dremora Lords (which never turn around).
  • Maybe it's just nostalgia, but a lot of people still do the rubber band thing. If you're dead set on this, a good place to do it is in the Companion's bedroom. Sneak into a wall, leave for a few days, and you're set. This method is a lot slower than the first, however.

Speech


Ah, Speech. One of the most polarizing skills in the TES universe. We have an incredibly fast method for leveling speech, as long as you're not opposed to taking advantage of something that could be considered an exploit.

Methods
  • North of Riften is a location known as the Black-Briar Meadery. Travel there, and look for the shopkeeper known as Ungrien. Approach him to talk, and select the option "Tell me about Mavan Black-Briar." From here, you have a set of dialogue options based on your personality skill; one of the options, "Come on, get the truth off you chest. (Persuade)" is what you should select. From here, the conversation begins a never-ending perpetual circle where you can select "Tell me about Mavan Black-Briar." again and go back to the persuade dialogue option. Continuously press the speech button through the conversation to level up as much as you want!
Well, there you go - 100 Speech from one conversation!

Why the blank sections for the other skills? Looks fanfuckingtastic so far. Just might want to add the dangers of power leveling versus in game scaling difficulty, maybe the fact that you can pickpocket trainer money if you so desire, and that enchanting alchemy gear the best you can can raise the value of potions for more experience.
A bunch of skills are blank because I got burned out half-way through, I'll finish it tonight or tomorrow.Good suggestions, I'll try to add a bit on each of them. Don't know how closely you read the methods already there, but if anyone knows of better ways tell me. I wasn't positive on a few of them.
Definitely looks solid. If these aren't the best methods, which I think they pretty much are, they will certaintly get the job done.Just came to me though, you pretty much have to include a bit on Guardian Stones and Well Rested, namely the fact that if you have the Lover Stone active, you can't receive any resting bonuses.
Alright, added the rest of the skills (should be reviewed) and the additions you mentioned. Next step is adding images. I can't remember, though, do the guardian stone's effects only last 24 hours, or as long as you have that stone activated?
Rest of the sections look fine to me. And it is as long as you have them activated you'll get the 20% to the respected skill category. Those stack with with Rested, Well Rested, and Lover's Comfort. The Lover Stone is a 15% to all skills, but you can't stack with any of the resting bonuses. Why? I have no idea.
Didn't actually read most of it, but well done David. Amazing guide, amazing length. :)

Didn't actually read most of it, but well done David. Amazing guide, amazing length. :)

Pfft, well thanks. I guess. B)
Something else I noticed. Been meaning ot ask it, but never really cared that much unti now. For the Alteration bit, you mentioned casting Equilibrium while casting Fast Heal (or whatever healing spell) to train both Alteration and Restoration. I've been trying that on my mage, and I've leveled Restoration, which is in the 60's at the moment, multiple times. However I've never gained an Alteration level from doing it. I've seen that suggestion on other sites, but I can never recall ever gaining an Alteration level from Equilibrium. Honestly, I don't think you can since it doesn't cost any magic to cast it. I'll test it later if needed.
Oh, yeah, you're right. That should only be listed under Restoration training - it doesn't increase Alteration.
Oh and for Soul Trapping, it doesn't have to be an undead. It can be any ol' dead thing. Tested it on a dead Skeever and a dead bandit.
Alright, thanks for the tip. I edited both guides that mentioned it to include that information.
So I have a mage with 100 enchanting, 100 alchemy, like..50 smithing and no smithing perks.I tell you, having that with only the ability to craft iron stuff is horrid.BUT, a few things I've found that you might like. If you ever get stuck in that kind of a spot, you can:1) buy a truckload of iron ore2) transmute ore via the spell3) craft gold necklaces, or even jeweled ones if its available, they have a high value, thus give more exp.ankle weights are required.
Have a new method to level up Smithing with 1.5 patch? Like the method of Iron Daggers.
I haven't written anything out yet, but here are some things (related to what Blargenfarg suggested) I've heard but have not personally tested:

An efficient method of raising your smithing level quickly is to craft jewelry. Travel to Halted Stream Camp which is Northwest of Whiterun. Inside, the spell tome Transmute Mineral Ore can be found along with several iron ore veins. By transmuting the ore from mining into silver and then gold, jewelry can be mass produced. Adding jewels increases the value of the item produced so this should be done where possible.

Instead of granting the same experience for essentially everything, the patch makes the skill similar to the others in the sense that experience is based on crafted item value. You should try to acquire materials that you will be able to craft into the highest value item possible. Just be wary of how much you spend on the materials and make sure you're not taking huge losses in the finished product.

Instead of granting the same experience for essentially everything, the patch makes the skill similar to the others in the sense that experience is based on crafted item value. You should try to acquire materials that you will be able to craft into the highest value item possible. Just be wary of how much you spend on the materials and make sure you're not taking huge losses in the finished product.

Oh so the patch nerfs the Iron Dagger approach? D:
Yeah. Although it's lame that we have to come up with new methods, Smithing was probably overpowered. I'd rather them make it more difficult to raise instead of having the benefits/effects nerfed.
The sibbi black-briar glitch works just fine. I was using it today, running the latest version on my 360. He won't attack you, and won't even call out for guards. The problem, that I think is creating the doubt here, is that you absolutely do need to be arrested for it to work. Just walking into the RIften jail as a free man and trying it, Sibbi will react as any NPC does. You have to get arrested, escape your cell, and then it will work. Stealth killing the patrolling guard helps a lot.

The sibbi black-briar glitch works just fine. I was using it today, running the latest version on my 360. He won't attack you, and won't even call out for guards. The problem, that I think is creating the doubt here, is that you absolutely do need to be arrested for it to work. Just walking into the RIften jail as a free man and trying it, Sibbi will react as any NPC does. You have to get arrested, escape your cell, and then it will work. Stealth killing the patrolling guard helps a lot.

Thanks for your input!It's nice getting a fast response on that issue; I just added that update about it possibly not working yesterday after a player raised questions about it in the support forum. I'll update the guide to reflect your new information. :smile:
For the benefit for this guide, could somebody help me lead a "team" to figure out the enigma of the new Smithing? It would make a good separate guide as well for how much everything increases and the general fastest way to raise the skill, along with possible areas to acquire your ingredients.The addition to this guide would be the fastest part, along with maybe the areas for materials. While the other guide would be much more in-depth and all the contributors would be credited as well.

For the benefit for this guide, could somebody help me lead a "team" to figure out the enigma of the new Smithing? It would make a good separate guide as well for how much everything increases and the general fastest way to raise the skill, along with possible areas to acquire your ingredients.The addition to this guide would be the fastest part, along with maybe the areas for materials. While the other guide would be much more in-depth and all the contributors would be credited as well.

How would the team work? I agree that it does need to be researched more, specifically for the Smithing/Enchanting Guide.
I'm not 100% sure as of right now, but i think multiple people working on one thing would be much more efficient over just myself. I'll figure it out and post a start-up thread on the General discussion
For the speech level up guide, the guy says that it is the truth so I have to pay him to do it. Any suggestions
I'm pretty sure you can just choose persuasion over bribe. As far as i know, they both work, but perhaps you gain more by a bribe. Something that would need to be tested. Can anybody already confirm?

For the speech level up guide, the guy says that it is the truth so I have to pay him to do it. Any suggestions

You need to have like 25 speech (I'm pretty sure) to use the persuasion option. To get this, try using a trainer or just keep playing, leveling up speech by buying things or talking to people. I think giving money to beggars raises your speech for a short period of time. Not long, but maybe long enough to glitch to 25.
enough though, that you'd be able to raise it high enough to keep it? What about enchanting some armor? just to add until you break past 25, then resell?
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