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The unique character leveling system of The Elder Scrolls series is such that you can raise any skill and it will contribute to you leveling up. Since there are no more character stats in Skyrim, your character’s prowess is entirely dependent on the skill and the perks you take up.
The concept of power leveling in Skyrim is taking advantage of how the game lets you gain levels for various skills. There are some skills that can be leveled up quite quickly when done in a certain way. For others, you merely get to level it up by using it a lot. There are various combinations of methods you can do to help make the process much faster. As you level these skills up, you increase your character level, which lets you increase one of your three main stats (health, stamina, magicka) each time, as well as earn one perk point to strengthen one of your skills.
The drawback with power leveling too soon is not having your offensive skills catch up to the level scaling of enemies. If you raise your smithing and enchanting to 100 before you ever get your one handed to even 50, for example, then you will have a hard time against stronger enemies like trolls and such. That would make it significantly harder for you to finish quests even in the lowest of difficulty levels. Therefore, the best way to proceed is to level up your offensive skills to sufficient levels, as well as acquire the best equipment, then you go nuts with the other skills and raise your level.
Pick one and stick to it; that’s the golden rule in Skyrim. The only time you ever go for a different combat skill is when you’ve already maxed out your previous one. In this case, you either use Two Handed, One Handed, or Archery as a warrior or Destruction and other magic skills as a mage. The warrior bit is simple enough, even with the subcategories within each, which are axes, blunt, and bladed weapons. For mages though, you’ll definitely go for Destruction as your main since those are what you use to kill. The others though depend upon your playing style, whether you summon with Conjuration, confuse your enemies with Illusion, and so on. The important bit is to maximize your time in combat by using your main skill as much as you can and get it to 100.
At the start of the game, you can keep attacking Hadvar/Ralof for an initial boost. It’s not pretty, but they won’t attack you even if you stagger them. You can do this to other “immortal” allied NPCs throughout Skyrim, although you may want to quicksave before you start going nuts, just in case.
Whether you use a shield or a weapon to block, having that extra bit of protection during battle is quite helpful. If you really want to power level this skill, just block against some cannon fodder for an extended period of time while healing up when your health is getting low. Of course, it’s quite a time investment, but grinding this out may help you against stronger enemies further down the road. Having both a good shield and a high level of Block, you can fight defensive against a tough opponent and counterattack once or twice, then shield up and move away; rinse and repeat to take down that enemy. This is best with a one-handed weapon and a shield.
Whether you’re a warrior or a mage, using healing spells is always a good idea. Since you get one for free at the start anyway, you might as well use it. Unlike the Destruction spells, this isn’t too much of a waste of time as you’ll actually see your Restoration go up at a pretty good rate. Getting Healing Hands is also useful as you can heal your followers so you don’t have to wallow in sorrow when they do die in battle.
This is the reason why you should gather ingredients like dust gets collected by the vacuum cleaner. Alchemy tables are all over Skyrim, and you’ll have to gather up a lot of ingredients in order to go through the painstaking job of uncovering each of an ingredient’s four effects. But once you have revealed those from most ingredients you gather, then it gets easier as you just spam out potions to level up this skill. In some cases, you can make potions that are expensive enough to sell with profit, but they may also be ones that you may want to use.
If you don’t want to waste any of those ingredients and need help with getting the right recipes, you can go to the Skyrim Alchemy Helper. Just type in an ingredient and you can see what it goes with and what effects that combination will uncover. You can then look up recipes that have one to four effects in the resulting potion. This is a very good way to increase your alchemy and make use of the best recipes to make potions that you can actually use. You can go to an alchemist shop like Arcadia’s Cauldron in
When you get this up to 100, you can make stuff like Daedric and Dragon armor, which is very cool. This has got to be the easiest skill to level in this game as all you need is some iron ingots, leather straps, and a blacksmith forge. You can then spam out iron daggers and watch your smithing go up really fast. It takes three to six daggers to raise a level of smithing, so it can literally take seconds to go from 20 to 30, for example. As for those daggers, you should hold on to them a bit for enchanting.
The enchanted items you collect throughout the game may be good for use or selling, but you’d be wasting good opportunities to level up if you just sell them to merchants for a bit of gold. What you really want to do is to find and enchanting table and sacrifice those items in order to gain those enchantments. Once you have them, you can then enchant items. You can also throw in a soul gem to give it charge at the start. That’s where the iron daggers you’ve made from leveling up Smithing should go.
Every time you trade with merchants and use special dialogue options like persuade and intimidate, you’re increasing your Speech skill. This skill is not entirely essential, but it’s quite helpful as you can finish some quests more easily through those dialogue choices and you get to buy and sell at better rates, so you get more for your gold. When you’re power leveling your smithing and alchemy, for example, you can level this up while buying those ingredients and iron ingots.
If you’re a stealth character, then this is the quintessential skill to have. Going in stealth mode changes your reticle to that of a straight line when you’re hidden and an open eye when you’re detected. Moving around near other NPCs while remaining hidden, especially against hostile ones, is the best way to level up this skill. If you take the perks in this skill, you can become a shadow that can turn invisible at will.
A good yet cheesy way to level sneak up is to find an enemy in a room or space away from you that can still see you if you stop being stealthy, like from a doorway. You can then find a way to stay hidden while in that enemy’s line of sight and see if you can autorun against a wall. If you do it right, you can just leave it like that and it will level up by itself. You can even take a nap and perhaps it’ll be 100 once you wake up.
Another way that’s even quicker is to backstab “immortal” allied NPCs, like Hadvar/Ralof during the start of the game. A good part to do this is when you’re near the end at the part with the bear. Just crouch, go behind him, and start hacking away to level up with almost every attack. Don’t allocate your perks yet while doing this, especially if you’re planning to take the ones for Sneak. You don’t gain experience at all for backstabbing a staggered victim, so you’ll have to wait for him to regenerate health before you can go at it again.
One of the most fun things you can do as a thief character is pickpocketing, which lets you earn gold and good equipment, as well as gain access to various locations through stolen keys. This goes hand in hand with Sneak, so you can level up both by merely going nuts on NPCs in towns and other places. Taking the opportunity to pickpocket some NPCs often is a good way to raise your pickpocketing to a high level. You may even surprise yourself how quickly you level up as a result.
Whether you like it or not, you’ll be wanting to open up chests throughout the game out of both greed and curiosity. Even the burliest of warriors in Skyrim who may not seem to delve in thievery will eventually want to raise this skill as some chests may hold powerful items. To raise this skill, you need a lot of lockpicks to go through. Every time you break a lockpick, you gain experience for lockpicking. The same goes for succeeding in picking locks of difficulty within or above your current skill level.
An abundance of lockpicks can be found in places like the Thieves Guild in Riften. You can also buy lots of them from Tonilia of the Thieves Guild, Khajiit traders, and so on. There are also a lot of them scattered around the world. There is also the Skeleton Key, which can be gained from a quest. It’s basically an unbreakable lockpick, which is the same as getting the Unbreakable perk for this skill. Keeping the Skeleton Key does mean that you can’t finish that particular quest.