What follows is an always up-to-date guide on Skyrim exploits. I will edit this as new useful exploits are found and add them to the list. Check back here to find the latest Skyrim exploits.
Easy Skill Leveling
- All Skills Method 1
- All Skills Method 2
- Magic (Offensive)
- Sneak, Destruction, One-Handed, Two-Handed, and Block
- Restoration Method 1
- Restoration Method 2
- Restoration Method 3
- Sneak Method 1
- Sneak Method 2
- Speech Method 1
- Speech Method 2 (PC Only)
- Complete Overpowered Nonsense
- Free House in Whiterun
- Easily Kill Mammoths and Giants
- Steal Anything
- Pickpocket Anything
- Infinite Gold Method 1
- Infinite Gold Method 2
- Infinite Arrows
All Skills Method 1
Throughout the world you will find NPCs that can train you in skills. Here is a list of NPCs for each skill. After you train with those NPCs, you can pickpocket the gold you spent back, making the training free. Even though you are limited to 5 training sessions per level, early in the game training 5 times will usually level you up anyway. You will need a high Pickpocket skill to effectively take advantage of this. Please refer to my previous guide on this subject for a method of leveling your Pickpocket skill.
Another method of taking your gold back involves trainers that can also be companions. The first trainer that is available to players which can also become your companion is Faendal. He can be found in Riverwood. If you would like him to be your companion though, you need to make sure he gets the girl and not the bard Sven. Otherwise he will still train you but he will not agree to be your companion.
All Skills Method 2
In order to do this trick you must be at least level 15. Additionally you should purchase the house located in Whiterun (which can be done for free) or have another home with a bookshelf in it available to you. You must first complete the quest chain beginning with Discerning the Transmundane. A video walk through of the quest chain can be found here. Once you complete the quest chain you will be given a book called the Oghma Infinium. Do not read the book when you get it. The book is intended to be used like this: The player reads the book and can choose one of three paths to learn about which will increase skills associated with that path by 5. After reading a path, the book disappears. The skills for each path are:
Path of Might: Archery, Block, Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Smithing, Two-Handed.
Path of Shadow: Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak, and Speech.
Path of Magic: Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting, Illusion, and Restoration.
The glitch involves reading the book an endless number of times. I recommend saving the game before, and while, you try this because if it is done incorrectly the book will vanish.
- Open a book shelf.
- Navigate to the book and read it but do not exit the menu.
- Place the book on the book shelf and close the menu.
- Without opening the book shelf itself, access the book. Do not read the book, instead take it into your inventory.
- Repeat as needed.
When you first join The Companions in Whiterun you will be asked to show off your fighting skills by fighting someone outside. If you keep using spells on the person you are supposed to fight, you can level up that spell’s associated skill because the NPC will just say “What do you think this is? We don’t do battle with magic around here, new blood. Now come at me.” He will never retaliate. Warning: This MAY lead to a bug making the quest chain unable to be completed. SAVE BEFORE DOING THIS! Here’s a video guide on joining The Companions and getting to the part where you have to fight the NPC.
Sneak, Destruction, One-Handed, Two-Handed, and Block
At the very beginning of the game, continue playing until you find yourself in a cave with a bear. Your companion will tell you to either sneak past it or attack it. Instead of dealing with the bear, attack the NPC. Depending on how you attack him, you will level different skills. If you would like to level Sneak, just sneak behind him and do an attack with your weapon. To level Destruction, One-handed, or Two-handed, just attack with the proper weapon. To level your Block, just use a shield bash attack. Try getting the NPC into a corner if possible because each attack will typically push him forward.
To easily level Alchemy, you will need a decent amount of gold to start off with. Around 5,000 gold should be enough, but the more you have the easier it will be. Start by heading to Solitude. There is a shop called Angeline’s Aromatics with an NPC inside named Angeline Morrard. Just speak with her and buy all of the ingredients she has in stock.
Next, travel to Riverwood. Go into the Sleeping Giant Inn. Speak with the innkeeper there (the man behind the counter) and purchase all of the ingredients he has for sale.
Next, travel to the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary and purchase all of the ingredients Babette has to sell. If you have not unlocked the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, try traveling to another NPC in another town that sells ingredients. The NPC is not important per se, but if you follow the path I have laid out, 48 hours should pass by the time you make a full rotation meaning when you get back to Solitude, Angeline should have restocked and you will not need to wait.
Now you will need to actually start making potions to level your Alchemy. Unlike Enchanting and Smithing, where crafting a low level item gave as much experience as crafting a high level item, Alchemy experience is based on the value of the potion you made. That means you will want to use your ingredients to craft the most expensive potions possible. To make this easier, if you have the Fortify Alchemy enchant, put it on 4 pieces of gear and wear them while you level Alchemy because the value of your potions will be higher. Also, put points into the Alchemist perk as soon as it becomes available to you. With your gear enchanted and the Alchemist perk, leveling Alchemy will go faster the higher your skill.
From my experience, potions with the following effects have the most value:
- Damage Magicka Regen
- Damage Stamina Regen
- Lingering Damage Health
- Lingering Damage Magicka
- Lingering Damage Stamina
- Regenerate Health
- Regenerate Magicka
- Regenerate Stamina
The biggest problem for a new Alchemist is not knowing what effects each ingredient has, and each ingredient will have 4. If you discover what effect each ingredient has it will be easier to make potions because the game automatically sorts them by effect for you. You could discover them the intended way by eating each ingredient and experimenting, but I suggest cheating and taking a look at this list. First, create potions that have the effects I listed above. Then create any other potion that works. You should not use more than 2 ingredients to make your potions. Three ingredients will not increase the value of the potion created. I believe it is just a way of discovering ingredient effects without failing to make a potion. Also note that failing to make a potion (because you added ingredients that had no matching effects) will not increase your Alchemy skill at all (unlike breaking a lockpick).
After you have used up all of your ingredients, speak with the NPC in the town you are located at and purchase all of the ingredients, and then sell as many potions as you can until the vendor is out of gold. Keep traveling from town to town purchasing ingredients and selling potions until your Alchemy is as high as you need it to be. It is probably a good idea to wait until you have a large stockpile of ingredients before crafting more potions because individually the NPCs will have a relatively small selection.
Note: While purchasing ingredients, save the Deadra Hearts you find. They are rare and used to craft some of the best weapons in the game.
To easily level Alteration, purchase the Telekinesis spell from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold. To gain access to the College of Winterhold you will need to complete a quest called First Lessons. Once you have the Telekinesis spell, just drop an item to the ground and keep bringing the item to yourself. You will get skill experience every time you cast the spell, making Alteration very easy to level up.
To easily level Conjuration, purchase the Soul Trap spell from Phinis Gestor at the College of Winterhold. To gain access to the College of Winterhold you will need to complete a quest called First Lessons. Once you have the Soul Trap spell, find a dead body and continuously cast Soul Trap on it. You will get skill experience every time you cast the spell, making Conjuration very easy to level up.
To easily level Enchanting, you will need a large supply of gear to enchant. If you leveled Smithing and kept the Iron Daggers you probably made, use those. If you already sold the Iron Daggers or you never leveled Smithing in the first place, you should probably go make some Iron Daggers. They are relatively cheap to make, needing only one iron ingot and one leather strip. Either way, you will need approximately 250 items to Enchant to reach level 100. Before you can enchant anything, you will need to disenchant something first. At the beginning you will not know how to enchant anything at all. It is only by disenchanting something else (like enchanted gear you found while questing or bought from a Blacksmith) that you learn how to enchant things. For example, if you found a weapon in the game that absorbed health on use, then you disenchanted it, you would learn the Absorb Health enchant. As far as leveling your Enchanting goes, it makes no difference what enchant you learn or use because they will all grant the same amount of skill experience. There is, however, a rather large difference in the value of the enchanted item depending on what enchant you put on it. If I take an Iron Dagger and enchant Absorb Health, it may be worth 200 gold to a vendor. However, if I take the same Iron Dagger and enchant Banish onto it instead, it will be worth 600 gold.
So the most intelligent and efficient way of leveling Enchanting is to find yourself a weapon with a Banish enchant. You can tell that a weapon has a banishment enchant if it says “Summoned daedra up to level XX are sent back to Oblivion.” I found a weapon with Banish by fast traveling to city after city and checking the Blacksmith for weapons I could purchase. A little bit of luck is obviously at work here. You might already have a weapon like that in your inventory or you might spend 2 hours searching and still not find it. Let us assume for the purpose of this guide that you had a stockpile of Iron Daggers and were able to obtain the Banish enchant.
The next pseudo-problem is soul gems. In order to enchant something you will need a soul gem. The strength of the soul gem does not affect how much skill experience it will give when you craft it. That means a petty soul (the lowest rank) is just as good as a grand soul (the highest rank) but keep in mind that petty soul gems cost much less than grand soul gems. The most efficient method of obtaining soul gems is to go to Dragonsreach in Whiterun. Inside you will find an NPC named Fargengar Secret-Fire. He will sell you soul gems.
Enchant around 10 of your daggers. If Fargengar Secret-Fire doesn’t have enough soul gems for you to do that, wait 48 hours for him to restock his supplies. After you’ve done that, travel to Riverwood. Enter Riverwood Traders and speak with Lucan Valerius. He will sell you soul gems just like Fargengar Secret-Fire, but the benefit here is he will also purchase your enchanted daggers. The more you buy from him, the more money he will have to buy your daggers. He will start with 750 gold. So you will want to purchase all the soul gems you want to buy, sell your enchanted iron daggers until he runs out of money, and then wait 48 hours. Once you run out of enchanted iron daggers, travel back to Dragonsreach and use all of your soul gems to enchant more daggers. Rinse and repeat. If you have a lot of spare gold you can purchase all of the soul gems he has, or limit yourself to the cheaper ones (petty, lesser, and common). Just keep in mind that he sells filled and empty soul gems. Filling soul gems for the purpose of leveling Enchanting is very time consuming and not recommended.
Leveling Enchanting is very boring, but in my opinion, the rewards are fantastic (especially for a caster).
To easily level Illusion, purchase the Courage spell from Farengar Secret-Fire in Dragonsreach. Once you have the Courage spell, find a living person and continuously cast Courage on him or her. You will get skill experience every time you cast the spell, making Illusion very easy to level up.
Restoration Method 1
To easily level Restoration, you will need two spells: Healing and Equilibrium. Every character starts off knowing the Healing spell, but you will need to obtain the Equilibrium spell on your own and it is not easy. You will need to begin the quests at the College of Winterhold starting with First Lessons. Eventually you will be on a quest called The Staff of Magnus. It will send you to a location called The Labyrinthian. Watch this video guide on how to get the spell:
Equilibrium will decrease your health and give you magicka. Healing will do the opposite and decrease your magicka while increasing your health. If you duel wield and use both spells at the same time, you will gain Restoration skill experience (but not Alteration skill experience). You will need to stop using Equilibrium every now and then because it drains more of your health than Healing restores.
Restoration Method 2
Another way to easily level Restoration, is to first obtain the blessing from The Atronach Stone. Next go to High Hrothgar and dual wield your Healing spell. There is a spot outside where a small whirlwind prevents you from going past. Run into it and it will damage you. Then just keep healing yourself until your magicka runs out. You will need to wait for your magicka to regenerate before doing it again. Watch this video guide for help:
Restoration Method 3
A third easy way to level Restoration is by bringing Lydia with you when you begin the College of Winterhold quest, First Lessons. Make sure you buy the spell Healing Hands from Faralda. Lydia becomes available as a companion when you play through the story enough. Jarl Balgruuf will offer her as your assistant and appoint you as Thane. Take Lydia into the Hall of Elements after gaining access to the college. After the training is complete, stay in the Hall of Elements and speak with Lydia. Tell her “It’s time to part Ways” and she will begin attacking the other NPC that you were training with. Lydia does not die, she just drops to her knees and eventually regains enough health to continue fighting. You can continuously cast Healing Hands on her and level Restoration while she is fighting the NPCs.
An easy way to level Smithing is to create Iron Daggers over and over again. There is nothing special about this method other than Iron Daggers are very cheap to make. They only require one iron ingot and one leather strip. You can purchase iron ingots (or iron ore which can be smelted into iron ingots) and leather strips (or leather pieces which can be cut into strips) at every Blacksmith in the game. They are relatively cheap too. I had around 500 daggers by the time I got Smithing to 100. If you plan on leveling Enchanting, save around 250 of the Iron Daggers you make. Don not sell them to vendors. If you do not plan on leveling Enchanting though, you can sell them to vendors to recoup some of the expense. Remember that vendors will restock their supplies every 48 hours. That means if you are trying to sell something and the vendor does not have enough gold, or if you want to buy more Iron or Leather, just wait 48 hours. A less boring method would be to fast travel to each city that has a Blacksmith and look for the materials there, but it will probably be less efficient time-wise.
Sneak Method 1
An easy way to level Sneak is to perform sneak attacks on special NPCs. There are some NPCs around Skyrim that will not attack you back if you begin fighting them. Some of these NPCs can be found in High Hrothgar (if you have never been there before, continue completing the main story quests and you will eventually be sent there). Begin sneaking and equip a one-handed weapon. Approach from behind the NPC and hold your attack button so you perform a charged attack. If you did it while being hidden, this will level your Sneak skill. Here is a video demonstration:
Sneak Method 2
An easy way to level Sneak is to go to White River Watch, which is southeast of Whiterun. Inside will be an NPC named Ulfr the Blind who, you guess it, is blind. When he asks you if you are Rodulf say yes then find a spot in the shadows behind him and start sneaking. It will reportedly take 4 hours of sneaking to level it to 100 so you might want to use a rubber band to keep the thumbstick down if you are playing on a console.
Speech Method 1
To easily level Speech, travel to Riften and enter a shop called the Black-Briar Meadery. Inside the shop you will find an NPC called Ungrien at the bar. Speak to Ungrien and select the “Tell me about…” option. Try to bribe him. Then, choose “Tell me about…” again and this time try to persuade him. Speak to him a third time, select “Tell me about…” again and choose the persuade option. Now you may continue selecting the persuade option infinitely to level your Speech skill.
Items looted from a corpse that have a world model and fall from the NPCs upon death (e.g. weapons and shields) will sometimes not despawn the world model when the item itself has been looted from the corpse’s inventory, allowing players to pick up the world model and obtain a duplicated item.
Speech Method 2 (PC Only)
Go to any vendor and browse what they have to sell. For example, click Weapons and look at all the weapons they are selling. With the weapons screen open, move your mouse over the left menu and scroll down until you find your characters name. Right click and hold the mouse button down on your name as you drag the mouse over into the browse weapon screen, and let go. Now you are browsing the shop owner’s weapons, but you have your character’s name highlighted. Click to buy something, and notice gold gets removed from the shop and added to your gold. The item doesn’t disappear, so you can sit there and ‘buy’ the item over and over again until you’ve completely depleted the shop of all its money. Even after the shop has run out of money, you can continue to sell that item for 0 gold, over and over again, and your speech skill will increase continuously. Source: The Elder Scrolls Wiki
Complete Overpowered Nonsense
In order to do this exploit, or as I like to call it a “clever use of game mechanics,” you should max out Smithing, Enchanting, and Alchemy. You can refer to this guide on how to do that. The important perks are as follows: For Smithing take Arcane Blacksmith, Daedric Smithing, and Dragon Armor. For Enchanting take Enchanter 5/5, Insightful Enchanter, and Extra Effect. For Alchemy take Alchemist 5/5 and Benefactor. What you will first want to do is create four pieces of gear with Fortify Alchemy on them. The following armor slots are capable of having that enchant: Head, Hands, Ring, and Neck. Use a Grand Soul Gem or a Black Soul Gem to create them. This ensures that you will put the most powerful enchant on the item. After you have created your four pieces of Fortify Alchemy gear, put them on and create four Fortify Enchanting potions. Make sure you are wearing your Fortify Alchemy gear when doing this. After you have your four Fortify Enchanting potions, you will need to enchant another four pieces of gear with Fortify Alchemy. Make sure you are under the effects of the Fortify Enchanting potions you made when you enchant your gear.
So now you should have a second set of gear with Fortify Alchemy on it. You have a few options now. First you can create new Fortify Enchanting potions, while wearing the Fortify Alchemy gear, and enchant your weapons or armor with whatever you like. First though, I would suggest crafting some awesome gear to enchant. With the Dragon Armor perk from Smithing, you can create armor from Dragon Bones and Dragon Scales. Dragon Bones are needed for heavy armor while Dragon Scales are needed for light armor. Craft your choice of dragon-themed armor and then create four or five potions of Fortify Smithing while wearing your Fortify Alchemy gear. Head over to a workbench and drink a Fortify Smithing potion. Improve a piece of armor and notice how the armor will obtain the Legendary tag after it. Improve all your armor while under the effects of Fortify Smithing potions. The armor value should skyrocket. The same can be done with Daedric weapons, which are the most powerful weapons in the game. Craft whatever weapon you like to use just like normal, but then head over to a grindstone, drink your Fortify Smithing potion, and improve your weapon.
Doing this trick will result in the most powerful enchants, armor, and weapons in the game. You will be capable of tackling anything with ease. Be warned though, many feel this devalues the game and makes playing it seem pointless.
Free House in Whiterun
If you continue the main story quests, eventually you will be offered to purchase a house in Whiterun called Breezehome. The NPC you need to speak to is Proventus Avenicci and he is located in Dragonsreach. To find him, enter Dragonsreach, walk forwards and go up the stairs on the right side. You will come to a room with a table on it and a map. If Proventus Avenicci is not there, change time to around 9 PM. He will usually be standing next to the table with the map on it. Beneath the table is a chest you can open. The trick to getting the house without paying 5,000 gold is to speak to him while he is standing next to the chest. Tell him you would like to buy the house, then exit out of the dialog quickly (by pressing B on the Xbox 360 version) and select the chest. Put all of your gold into the chest and close it. Proventus Avenicci will tell you it’s been purchased and give you a key. Then you can safely take the money back from the chest. This method also works with all of the house upgrades which are offered by talking with Proventus Avenicci again.
Easily Kill Mammoths and Giants
The enemy movement AI is fairly poor in Skyrim. If you need to kill a Mammoth or a Giant, just fight them with a ranged attack, such as an arrow or a spell, while you circle around a large object like a tree or rock. The Mammoths and Giants move too slowly to catch up to you and will sometimes just stand still and allow you to hit them. Alternatively you could find a big rock to climb. Neither Giants nor Mammoths will be able to reach you and you can dwindle their health down with ranged attacks.
NPCs cannot see you if you place an object over their head, such as a bucket, basket, or kettle. Make sure everyone in the room has something over their head and you can steal something right in front of them without them noticing. You cannot pickpocket them without them noticing though.
Obtain all three words for the Unrelenting Force shout. Find an isolated NPC like Eorlund Gray-Mane in Whiterun. Knock him down with the shout (using all three words) and as he is getting back up try to pickpocket him. You should be able to pickpocket everything, even if it says your chance is 0%. Save before attempting this as sometimes your shouts will kill the NPC. Thanks to Tyler in the comments for this tip!
Infinite Gold Method 1
There is a book in Skyrim called The Doors of Oblivion. The NPC that drops this book is a skeleton located southwest of Winterhold. The reason the book is so special is because it is worth 50 gold and it can be looted infinitely from the skeleton. The location of the skeleton is very hard to describe in words, so please look at this video to help. Also remember not to loot the book on the ground or the exploit will not work.
Infinite Gold Method 2
You can chop firewood in Skyrim and sell it for 5 gold each. In order to chop firewood you must first have a Woodcutting Axe in your inventory. These can usually be found next to the piles of wood where you can cut the firewood. Piles of wood can usually be found in towns near the sawmill (usually located next to a river). Not every town has one. The firewood takes little effort to obtain. Simply activate the pile of wood and your character will begin cutting. The firewood is rather heavy though so you may quickly become overburdened. The following is a list of NPCs you can sell firewood to: Horgeir, Hert, Hulda, Hod, Gilfre, and Jorgen.
This trick will work on various NPCs you find throughout Skyrim that are shooting arrows at targets. A good spot is in the Ragged Flagon, which requires membership in the Thieves Guild to access. The NPC will shoot actual arrows that stick into the targets and that you can pick up infinitely. NPCs will usually be firing Steel arrows, but if you have the Misdirection Pickpocket perk (which allows you to steal equipped weapons), you can steal the NPC’s steel arrows and replace them with an arrow of a higher quality (such as Ebony or Daedric arrows). If the NPC stops firing the arrows, wait around for an hour at a time until he begins doing it again. Thanks to Jamie Wilson in the comments for this tip! Here’s a video demonstrating how the technique works.
Update: You don’t need the Misdirection Pickpocket perk to make the NPC fire the type of arrow you want. Steve in the comments let us know that if the NPC is sleeping, nothing will be equipped! That means if you head over to the Ragged Flagon in the Thieves Guild and wait until around 3 AM when NPCs go to sleep, you can remove their arrows and replace them with higher quality ones. Infinite Daedric Arrows for the win!