Skyrim Advice, Tips, and Tricks
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Herein lies the most basic forms of what I consider to be the most essential tips and advice. Accompanying each tip is a link to more detailed content, so you may explore further at your discretion. I tried to keep everything as brief and specific as possible. The information is mostly presented in the order I believe you need to read it, but still consider reading all the way through before acting on any tips. Some of the more advanced advice starts about halfway through the article.
Advice for Choosing a Race
While choosing a race in Skyrim, the first permanent step of any play-through, you ought to consider the intrinsic perks of each race. This can be a bit difficult if you're not playing as a role-player who seeks to stick to specific skills. Luckily for you in-it-to-win-it-all types, I'm going to save you some time, and inform you of the fact that destruction magic tears through you like a hydrogen bomb through literally anything, because there's no good way to defend against its fiery wrath (literally); that is, except for magic resistance, of which the Breton provides a whopping 25 percent. Did I mention it's difficult and expensive to acquire magic resistance? This makes the Breton a no-brainer for best race-related gains. If you had another race in mind, you can read my analysis on each race, found here.
Choosing a Character: Think Synergy
Now that you've chosen a race, you ought to consider your character. Will you be a mage, a thief, warrior, or something else? Whichever character-type you may choose, always consider the fact that some enemies are leveled, and others are beyond your capabilities at lower levels. At least at the beginning, think about which abilities work well together, and work at advancing those perks and skills excluseively. I personally start as a sneak-archer for my completionist games, because I can easily train archery and sneak, and those two skills work extremely well together; it's easy to pull off sneak attacks when you don't need to get close. It may make sense from a circumstance-oriented point of view to diversify perk-points and abilities, but being just decent at a variety of things will not help you when you need to deal with a leveled enemy that requires a massive amount of damage to defeat. At first, always think about prioritizing for synergy.
Starter Skyrim Advice: 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 may sell for very little, they can also be very light, allowing you to carry many of them.
Synergy Tip: Pick the correct standing stone
Standing stones are stones that when activated garner perks to the player. Only one stone can be activated at a time. Furthermore, the stones must be located. After you are set loose from the opening dragon chase, head northwest. You should eventually see an image in your cross-hair resembling a standing stone, as depicted by the accompanying image. 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 Thief Stone
I 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 as destruction and restoration are difficult to increase. If you take my completionist advice above and start as a sneak-archer, you may also want to consider the thief stone. 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 stone in Skyrim.
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.
Lifelong Advice: Get Hitched
Most followers are useful during combat, so you should consider keeping one around early-game. If you're smart, though, you'll get a spouse-follower, because they also confer benefits like 100 gold a day and experience bonuses. I personally believe Mjoll is the best, because she's invincible, and not even you can kill her. I know what you're thinking: "Marriage forever?" Don't worry; you can send her away at will. I've prepared a quick and dirty location article to help you find her, which may be found from my main article page or here.
Acquire Passive Abilities
Passive abilities are especially useful, because you do not need to remember to use them when the occasion arises. The most common passive abilities are obtained through perks, but there are some mission-related passive abilities as well. I find two in particular to be extremely useful, so I'm providing links to bare-essential walk-throughs to acquire them:
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 train it. 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 until late game, because you should always think in terms of maximizing synergy, and there will likely always be a better option until late-game.
Expensive Longterm Advice: Improve Smithing
You can also get ahead by training 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 for synergy and can still have a decent defense. You may also build better weapons.
The downside is that there are decent light armors at the beginning of the game with factions like the dark brotherhood and thieves guild (another reason why I suggest sneak-archer). You cannot use smithing to improve these initially, because they are magic and require a smithing perk to improve; they will be better than anything you can make early-game, and are light-armor. It's almost like Bethesda wants you to be a sneak-archer.
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 take some time to train it. The only real downside is that 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.
Advice for handling mages and monsters
Always carry a bow with 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 still need to enjoy the game! If you do find yourself wanting to train some specific skills, please check out one of my many articles for guidance. Skill training guides will be uploaded when complete. Also, please consider following one of my amazon affiliate links to purchase Oblivion. It will help me out, and if you like Skyrim, you will most certainly love Oblivion.