Skyrim Perks Guide

Skyrim’s leveling system has been entirely revamped with the introduction of new perks. The Skyrim Perks Guide is intended to help you decide how to build your character. Regardless of whether you plan on playing as a pure class or mixing things up, the Skyrim Perks Guide will help you to make a clear decision.

skyrim perks guide

New to the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim has completely changed the way players develop their character. Through the introduction of a new perks system, players now gain a new perk every time they advance to a new level. Rather than replacing the stats, it adds onto the old statistics system, now hidden behind the scenes. 

Every perk has skill requirements that you must meet before you can unlock it, so you'll gain access to better perks as you progress through the game.

Each time you level up, you will have the chance to affect real improvement onto your character—getting a shield perk might allow you to bash your enemies, for example. 

There are 280 perks in Skyrim spread across three different constellations, or trees—Warrior, Thief, Mage—all of which allow you to define your character as you please. These skills can be used in tandem so you can play as a spellsword, assassin, or warrior mage, and the like. 

Quick Selection: Warrior | Mage | Thief

Warrior

skyrim nord

The Warrior – Archery

  • Overdraw: Bows do 25% more damage.
  • Eagle Eye: Pressing Block while aiming will zoom in your view
  • Steady Hand: Zooming in with a bow slows time by 25% (2 ranks)
  • Critical Shot: 10% chance of a critical hit that does extra damage (3 ranks)
  • Power Shot: Arrows stagger all but the largest opponents 50% of the time.
  • Hunter’s Discipline: Recover twice as many arrows from dead bodies.
  • Ranger: Able to move faster with a drawn bow.
  • Quick Shot: Can draw a bow 30% faster.
  • Bullseye: 15% chance of paralyzing the target for a few seconds.

The Warrior – Block

  • Shield Wall: Blocking is 20% more effective. (5 ranks)
  • Quick Reflexes: Time slows down if you are blocking during an enemy’s power attack.
  • Deflect Arrows: Arrows that hit the shield do no damage.
  • Power Bash: Able to do a power bash.
  • Elemental Protection: Blocking with a shield reduces incoming fire, frost, and shock damage by 50%.
  • Deadly Bash: Bashing does five times more damage.
  • Disarming Bash: Chance to disarm when power bashing.
  • Block Runner: Able to move faster with a shield raised.
  • Shield Charge: Sprinting with a shield raised knocks down most targets.

The Warrior – Heavy Armor

  • Juggernaut: Increases armor rating for Heavy Armor by 20% (5 ranks)
  • Fists of Steel: Unarmed attacks with Heavy Armor gauntlets do their armor rating in extra damage.
  • Cushioned: Half fall damage if wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
  • Well Fitted: 25% Armor bonus if wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
  • Conditioning: Heavy Armor weighs nothing and doesn’t slow you down when worn.
  • Tower of Strength: 50% less stagger when wearing only Heavy Armor.
  • Matching Set: Additional 25% Armor bonus if wearing a matched set of Heavy Armor
  • Reflect Blows: 10% chance to reflect melee damage back to the enemy while wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.

The Warrior – One Handed

  • Armsman: One-Handed weapons do 20% more damage (5 ranks)
  • Dual Flurry: Dual wielding attacks are 20% faster (2 ranks)
  • Dual Savagery: Dual wielding power attacks do 50% more damage.
  • Fighting Stance: Power attacks with one-handed weapons cost 25% less stamina.
  • Hack and Slash: Attacks with war axes cause extra bleeding damage. (3 ranks)
  • Bone Breaker: Attacks with macs ignore 25% of armor. (3 ranks)
  • Bladesman: Attacks with swords have a 10% chance of doing critical damage. (3 ranks)
  • Critical Charge: Can do a one-handed power attack while sprinting that does double critical damage.
  • Savage Strike: Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage with a chance to decapitate your enemies.
  • Paralyzing Strike: Backwards power attack has a 25% chance to paralyze the target.

The Warrior – Two Handed

  • Barbarian: Two-Handed weapons do 20% more damage (5 ranks)
  • Champion’s Stance: Power attacks iwth two-handed weapons cost 25% less stamina.
  • Limbsplitter: Attacks with battle axes cause extra bleeding damage. (3 ranks)
  • Deep Wounds: Attacks with greatswords have a 10% chance of doing critical damage. (3 ranks)
  • Skullcrusher: Attacks with warhammers ignore 25% of armor. (3 ranks)
  • Great Critical Charge: Can do a two-handed power attack while sprinting that does double critical damage.
  • Devastating Blow: Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage with a chance to decapitate your enemies.
  • Sweep: Sideways power attacks with two-handed weapons hit all targets in front of you.
  • Warmaster: Backwards power attack has a 25% chance to paralyze the target.

The Warrior – Smithing 

  • Steel Smithing: Can create Steel armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Arcane Blacksmith: You can improve magical weapons and armor.
  • Dwarven Smithing: Can create Dwarven armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Elven Smithing: Can create Elven armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Orcish Smithing: Can create Orcish armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Advanced Armors: Can create Scaled and Plate armor at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Glass Smithing: Can create Glass armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Daedric Smithing: Can create Daedric armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Ebony Smithing: Can create Ebony armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.
  • Dragon Smithing: Can create Dragon armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.

Quick Selection: Warrior | Mage | Thief

The Mage

the mage

Like the warrior, the Mage's perks allow players to specialize as a spellcasting virtuoso, harnessing the schools of alteration, conjuration, destruction, illusion, restoration and enchanting to further his or her prowess as an adventurer. Enchanters can confer special bonuses onto the equipment they wield, which in turn provides more lethality to the weapons they wield, and defense to their armor.

The Mage – Alteration

  • Novice Alteration: Cast Novice level Alterations spells for half magicka.
  • Alteration Dual Casting: Dual casting an Alteration spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version.
  • Apprentice Alteration: Cast Apprentice level Alteration spells for half magicka.
  • Mage Armor: Protection spells like Stoneflesh are twice as strong if not wearing armor. (3 ranks)
  • Magic Resistance: Blocks 10% of a spell’s effects. (3 ranks)
  • Adept Alteration: Cast Adept level Alteration spells for half magicka.
  • Stability: Alteration spells have greater duration.
  • Expert Alteration: Cast Expert level Alteration spells for half magicka.
  • Master Alteration: Cast Master level Alteration spells for half magicka.
  • Atronach: Absorb 30% of the magicka of any spells that hit you.

The Mage – Conjuration

  • Novice Conjuration: Cast Novice level Conjuration spells for half magicka.
  • Conjuration Dual Casting: Dual casting a Conjuration spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version.
  • Apprentice Conjuration: Cast Apprentice level Conjuration spells for half magicka.
  • Adept Conjuration: Cast Adept level Conjuration spells for half magicka.
  • Master Conjuration: Cast Master level Conjuration spells for half magicka.
  • Master Conjuration: Cast Master level Conjuration spells for half magicka.
  • Summoner: Can summon atronachs or raise undead twice as far away.
  • Atromancy: Double duration for conjured Atronachs.
  • Elemental Potency: Conjured Atronachs are 50% more powerful.
  • Necromancy: Greater duration for reanimated undead.
  • Dark Souls: Reanimated undead have 100 points more health.
  • Mystic Binding: Bound weapons do more damage.
  • Soul Stealer: Bound weapons cast Soul Trap on targets.
  • Oblivion Binding: bound weapons will banish summoned creatures and turn raised ones.
  • Twin Souls: You can have two atronachs or reanimated zombies.

The Mage – Destruction

  • Novice Destruction: Cast Novice level Destruction spells for half magicka.
  • Destruction Dual Casting: Dual casting a Destruction spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version.
  • Apprentice Destruction: Cast Apprentice level Destruction spells for half magicka.
  • Augmented Flames: Fire spells do 25% more damage.
  • Augmented Frost: Frost spells do 25% more damage.
  • Augmented Shock: Shock spells do 25% more damage.
  • Impact: Most destruction spells will stagger an opponent when dual cast.
  • Rune Master: Can place runes five times farther away.
  • Intense Flames: Fire damage causes targets to flee if their health is low.
  • Deep Freeze: Frost damage paralyzes targets if their health is low.
  • Disintegrate: Shock damage disintegrates targets if their health is low.
  • Adept Destruction: Cast Adept level Destruction spells for half magicka.
  • Expert Destruction: Cast Expert level Destruction spells for half magicka.
  • Master Destruction: Cast Master level Destruction spells for half magicka.

The Mage – Illusion

  • Novice Illusion: Cast Novice level illusion spells for half magicka.
  • Apprentice Illusion: Cast Apprentice level illusion spells for half magicka.
  • Adept Illusion: Cast Adept level illusion spells for half magicka.
  • Expert Illusion: Cast Expert level illusion spells for half magicka.
  • Master Illusion: Cast Master level illusion spells for half magicka.
  • Animage: Illusion spells now work on higher level animals.
  • Kindred Mage: All Illusion spells work on higher level people.
  • Quiet Casting: All spells you cast from any school of magic are silent to others.
  • Hypnotic Gaze: Calm spells now work on higher level opponents. Cumulative with Kindred Mage and Animage.
  • Aspect of Terror: Fear spells work on higher level opponents. Cumulative with Kindred Mage and Animage.
  • Rage: Frenzy spells work on higher level opponents. Cumulative with Kindred Mage and Animage.
  • Master of the Mind: Illusion spells work on undead, daedra and automatons.

The Mage – Restoration

  • Novice Restoration: Cast Novice level Restoration spells for half magicka.
  • Restoration Dual Casting: Dual casting a Restoration spell overcharges the ffects into an even more powerful version.
  • Apprentice Restoration: Cast Apprentice level Restoration spells for half magicka.
  • Regeneration: Healing spells cure 50% more.
  • Recovery: Magicka regenerates 25% faster.
  • Avoid Death: Once a day, heals 250 points automatically if you fall below 10% health.
  • Respite: Healing spells also restore Stamina.
  • Adept Restoration: Cast Adept level Restoration spells for half magicka.
  • Ward Absorb: Wards recharge your magicka when hit with spells.
  • Necromage: All spells are more effective against undead.
  • Expert Restoration: Cast Expert level Restoration spells for half magicka.
  • Master Restoration: Cast Master level Restoration spells for half magicka.

 

The Mage – Enchanting

  • Enchanter: New enchantments are 20% stronger (5 ranks)
  • Fire Enchanter: Fire enchantments on weapons and armor are 25% stronger.
  • Frost Enchanter: Frost enchantments on weapons and armor are 25% stronger.
  • Storm Enchanter: Shock enchantments on weapons and armor are 25% stronger.
  • Insightful Enchanter: Skill enchantments on armor are 25% stronger.
  • Soul Squeezer: Soul gems provide extra magicka for recharging.
  • Corpus Enchanter: Health, magicka, and stamina enchantments on armor are 25% stronger.
  • Soul Siphon: Death blows to creatures, but not people, trap 5% of the victim’s soul, recharging the weapon.
  • Extra Effect: Can put two enchantments on the same item.

Quick Selection: Warrior | Mage | Thief

The Thief

the thief

Last, but not least, the Thief is the favored constellation for players who enjoy a bit of cloak and dagger instead of upfront battles. Whittle the enemy force down to size with a bit of backstabbing, and steal their weapons right out of their hands. You can even use poisons and potions to improve your effectiveness in combat.

The Thief – Alchemy

  • Alchemist: Potions and poisons you make are 20% stronger. (5 ranks)
  • Physician: Potions you mix that restore Health, Magicka or Stamina are 25% more powerful.
  • Benefactor: Potions you mix with beneficial effects have an additional 25% greater magnitude.
  • Poisoner: Poisons you mix are 25% more effective.
  • Concentrated Poison: Poisons applied to weapons last for twice as many hits.
  • Experimenter: Eating an ingredient reveals first two effects. (3 ranks)
  • Green Thumb: Two ingredients are gathered from plants.
  • Snakeblood: 50% resistance to all poisons.
  • Purity: All negative effects are removed from created potions, and all positive effects are removed from created poisons.

The Thief – Light Armor

  • Agile Defender: Increase armor rating for Light Armor by 20% (5 ranks)
  • Custom Fit: 25% Armor bonus if wearing all Light Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
  • Unhindered: Light Armor weighs nothing and doesn’t slow you down when worn.
  • Wind Walker: Stamina regenerates 50% faster in all Light Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
  • Matching Set: Additional 25% Armor bonus if wearing a matched set of Light Armor.
  • Deft Movement: 10% chance of avoiding all damage from a melee attack while wearing all Light Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.

The Thief – Lockpicking

  • Novice Locks: Novice locks are much easier to pick.
  • Apprentice Locks: Apprentice locks are much easier to pick.
  • Quick Hands: Able to pick locks without being noticed.
  • Wax Key: Automatically gives you a copy of a picked lock’s key if it has one.
  • Adept Locks: Adept locks are much easier to pick.
  • Golden Touch: Find more gold in chests.
  • Treasure Hunter: 50% greater chance of finding special treasure.
  • Expert Locks: Expert locks are much easier to pick.
  • Locksmith: Pick starts close to the lock opening position.
  • Unbreakable: Lockpicks never break.
  • Master Locks: Master locks are much easier to pick..

The Thief – Pickpocket

  • Light Fingers – PIckpocketing bonus of 20%. Item weight and value reduce pickpocketing odds. (5 ranks)
  • Night Thief: +25% chance to pickpocket if the target is asleep.
  • Extra Pockets: Carrying capacity is increased by 100.
  • Cutpurse: Pickpocketing gold is 50% easier.
  • Poisoned: Silently harm enemies by placing poisons in their pockets.
  • Keymaster: Pickpocketing keys almost always works.
  • Misdirection: Can pickpocket equipped weapons.
  • Perfect Touch: Can pickpocket equipped items.

The Thief – Sneak

  • Stealth: You are 20% harder to detect while sneaking. (5 ranks)
  • Backstab: Sneak attacks with one-handed weapons now do six times damage.
  • Deadly Aim: Sneak attacks with bows now do three times damage.
  • Assassin’s Blade: Sneak attacks with daaggers now do a total of fifteen times normal damage.  
  • Muffled Movement: Noise from armor is reduced 50%.
  • Light Foot: You won’t trigger pressure plates.
  • Silent Roll:
    Sprinting while sneaking executes a silent forward roll.
  • Silence:
    Walking and running does not affect detection.
  • Shadow Warrior:
    Crouching stops combat for a movement and forces distant opponents to search for a target.

The Thief – Speech

  • Haggling:
    Buying and selling prices are 10% better (5 ranks)
  • Bribery: Can bribe guards to ignore crimes.
  • Persuasion: Persuasion attempts are 30% easier.
  • Intimidation: Intimidation is twice as successful.
  • Allure: 10% better prices with the opposite sex.
  • Merchant: Can sell any type of item to any kind of merchant.
  • Investor: Can invest 500 gold with a shopkeeper to increase his available gold permanently.
  • Fence: Can barter stolen goods with any merchant you have invested in.
  • Master Trader: every merchant in the world gains 1000 gold for bartering.