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Skyrim: Tips and Advice for New and Returning Players

Updated on January 9, 2017

After choosing a race in Skyrim, the next move is usually difficult to decide upon. Hopefully at this point you have some sort of idea of what kind of character you want to create. Whether you know or do not know, these few tips and advice will be sure to help you out, regardless of player type.

It's a trap! Don't take it!
It's a trap! Don't take it!

General Skyrim Tip: Don't pick up trash

I remember when I first started Oblivion, I would pick up garbage like plates and forks and forget to remove them for a long time. After a while, I would become over encumbered and have to drop things. Do yourself a favor and only pick up items of monetary value or usefulness. Remember that you do not always want to pick up the item with the best selling price. Pick up the item with the best price per weight. For instance, pick up every potion you find because while some of them might be cheap, they can also be very light, allowing you to carry many of them. This is perhaps the best advice I can give you.

This is The Theif Stone.
This is The Theif Stone.

Beginner Skyrim Tip: Pick the correct standing stone

Standing stones, also called guardian stones, are stones that when activated, garner perks to the player. The trick is that only one stone can be activated at a time. Furthermore, the stones must be located. Without any downloadable content (DLC,) there are a total of thirteen standing stones in Skyrim. After you are set loose from the opening dragon chase, start off by heading northwest. You should eventually see an image in your crosshair resembling a standing stone, as depicted by the image to the right. You will come upon three standing stones, each allowing a twenty percent bonus in experience when certain skills are used. They are classified according to the chart bellow and will increase experience gained in those individual skills.

The Warrior Stone
The Mage Stone
The Theif Stone
Heavy Armor
Light Armor

I would suggest that if you have a focus character, pick the stone that fits it best. Otherwise, I suggest taking the mage stone because magic skills such and destruction and restoration are a pain to increase. They take forever. Start out however you think is best. You can always return to this location to change stones depending on what you are working on. You can also switch out the stone as soon as you find another. For more information on which stone to seek out, check out my hub on the subject:

This is Vicious, my monstrous wolf of a player character. He's decked in a mix of Daedric and Dragon armors.
This is Vicious, my monstrous wolf of a player character. He's decked in a mix of Daedric and Dragon armors.

Advanced Skyrim Advice: Work on armor skills

Just like with most games, you cannot take many hits right at the start. Skyrim is unique, however, because you can potentially play through the entire game this way, running whenever an enemy sees you. Even if you are a thief type, though, you will want to have a backup in case something finds and attacks you.

I suggest at some point early in the game to pick an armor type and boost it up. I personally prefer heavy armor because after its perks are all filled out, it seems to be a bit better due to a damage reflection perk and a slightly higher damage threshold. Also, all of its negative qualities are done away with through perks. Do not fill out both armor perk trees. You might decide to use both armors in order to max out your player eventually, but if you fill out perks for both of them, you will not reap all of the benefits to the perk system, that is, unless you reset some skills. You may want to consider training your armor. I've detailed how to do this in the following article.

The tools of the trade. Acclimate yourself with all tools pictured.
The tools of the trade. Acclimate yourself with all tools pictured.

Expensive Longterm Advice: Improve Smithing

You can also get ahead by working on your smithing skill. This is most likely more beneficial than the armor skill because you have the benefit of not having to initially choose an armor type and can still have a decent defense. You may also build better weapons.

The downside is that there are a few decent light armors at the beginning of the game with factions like the dark brotherhood and thieves guild. You cannot improve these initially because they are magic, and they will be better than anything you can make. You will need a perk before smithing will be able to improve magic items.

Still, you can use smithing to better your armaments, making yourself more deadly if you choose to use a bow or melee weapon. You most likely will not want to use magic weapons at the beginning because they will be weak and run out of magical uses almost immediately. In this way, you can gain a feel for what type of combat you prefer. I've been so kind as to detail how to train this skill.

A standard enchanting table.
A standard enchanting table.

Advice for Abuse: Become an Enchantress

If you max out Enchanting, you can do just about everything else with ease. I even have a complete armor set for smithing, that improves smithed weapons and apparel by 25 percent--per each of four items! Enchanting can give you the skill of a master archer while you've only reached archer skill 50. It can even allow you to heal by cutting your opponents!

Enchanting is by far the best skill in the game, so put some time into training it. The only real downside is you will need to find some equipment in order to train it. The upside is that you can train it in conjunction with smithing! Do yourself a favor, and read my article on training enchanting.

Here's vicious, ephereal!
Here's vicious, ephereal!
This is Vicious in a flame cloak while ethereal. Attacking while ethereal normally cancels it, but becoming ethereal does not cancel passive destruction spells. You can wreck enemies while completely invincible to them.
This is Vicious in a flame cloak while ethereal. Attacking while ethereal normally cancels it, but becoming ethereal does not cancel passive destruction spells. You can wreck enemies while completely invincible to them.

Main Tip: Start Skyrim with the main plot

Get to the point in which you have some shouts. They can help you out of tight spots. Furthermore, go through the main plot until you at least find the shout “Become Ethereal.” This shout will momentarily make you invincible. It is the single most useful shout in my opinion. You can use it in a tight spot, you can use it while sprinting to preserve stamina (which means you will not need to increase it) and best of all, you can use it to cliff dive. You simply use “Become Ethereal” before you make the jump (no shouting while in the air) and you will be perfectly safe when you hit the ground so long as the spell is still in effect. This will save you when running away and it makes transportation much simpler.

Lifesaving Tip: Watch out for magic

Magic will kill you quickly. Consider getting a ward spell and also look into getting the Breton as your player character. It should not be too late to start over and choose the Breton. Furthermore, remember to look into getting more magic resistances later on in Skyrim. You might not be able to do it now, but there are some ways to increase your magic resistance once you are a little seasoned.

Advice for handling mages and monsters

Always carry a bow with you. This may save you from enemies far stronger than you. Make sure to get in a sneak bonus, and you may even be able to pick off big baddies without being detected. When you're really in a rut, add some poison to that arrow tip, and get to a level advantage. It will also be wise to conjure up a distraction, like a flame atronach.


I hope my advice will be of some use. Avoid training skills too much; you will tire yourself out and waste a lot of time. You will do much better playing the game and letting things happen naturally. The only reason I suggested training the above skills is because it is somewhat easy to die and that sets you back, making the game more aggravating and repetitive. If you do find yourself wanting to train some specific skills, please follow one of the following links. Skill training guides will be inserted when complete.


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    • mattdigiulio profile image

      mattdigiulio 4 years ago

      Hi there, this is an awesome compendium. Voting up, love the Skyrim work. Keep it UP!

    • colpolbear profile image

      colpolbear 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you, mattdigiulio. Not only did that just make my day but I have also now added the word compendium to my vocabulary!

    • BraidedZero profile image

      James Robertson 4 years ago from Texas

      Very nice article. There are some great tips here for people just starting Skyrim. I personally learned most of them through trial and error. Had I read this before starting the game 8 months ago you would have saved me a lot of time! Voted up. Useful.

    • colpolbear profile image

      colpolbear 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you, BraidedZero. I wasted a lot of time as well. The game is so large that you never really stop wasting it XD

    • JohnTheNetGuy profile image

      John Smith 3 years ago from UK

      Love this, I think we have all made the mistake (especially) when we first start with a new elder scrolls to want to do EVERYTHING. It was only when I started my second play through as modest Orc, aching to break the Orcish stereotype of being a brute, and actually tapering my actions to fit in with a kind of character profile that I had in mind that I got the most satisfaction out of the experience.

    • profile image

      Silver Fox 3 years ago

      you have no idea how helpful this is more people should see thid

    • profile image

      Trish 2 years ago

      Most help articles on the web are inaccurate or inteoerhnc. Not this!

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