Sep 26, 2011

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New Skyrim Details: Perks, Racial Bonuses, and More

New Skyrim Details: Perks, Racial Bonuses, and More

More news on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim seems to come out almost every day. The 2011 Eurogamer Expo gave attendees a chance to play the game, and a user on the official Bethesda Softworks forum came away from the event with detailed impressions. The forum user who goes by the name of Sammuthegreat, also took as much time as possible to gather information on the skill trees and racial bonuses, leaving us with a huge (albeit incomplete) list of perks and info to salivate over. Here’s the full list of what we know, adapted from Sammu’s original posts (here and here).

Known Racial Abilities

  • ORCS: Berserker
  • REDGUARDS: Adrenaline Rush
  • WOOD ELF: Resist Poison, Resist Disease, Command Animals
  • NORD: Battlecry
  • KHAJIIT: Night-eye, Claw attacks
  • IMPERIAL: Voice of the Emperor, find more coins when looting
  • HIGH ELF: Regenerate Magicka more quickly
  • DARK ELF: Ancestor’s Wrath (surround self in fire), Resist Fire
  • BRETON: Dragonskin (absorb spells), Resist Shock
  • ARGONIANS: Histskin (regenerate health quickly), Resist Disease 50%, Breathe underwater

Other Race Information

Baseline stats seem to be 15 for all skills, with bonuses depending on race. For example:

  • Argonians start with 25 in Lockpicking, 20 in Pickpocketing, Sneak, Light Amour, Restoration, Alteration
  • Orcs start with 25 in Heavy Armour, 20 in Enchanting, Smithing (didn’t see any more)
  • Bosmer start with 20s in most of the thieving skills – Sneak, Alchemy, Pickpocket, Lockpicking – and a 25 in Archery

Known Skill Tree Perks

Important note: Sammuthegreat audio-recorded this information during his brief playthrough. As noted, some information was inaudible when played back later. As such, this list is incomplete, and does not feature all skills nor every perk for a particular skill. The perks listed are not in branching order. In addition, some perks are confirmed to feature ranks that provide additional boosts. Whether or not a skill features ranks may or may not be detailed here. These perks are listed exactly as Sammuthegreat described them.


  • Buying and selling price 10% better (5 ranks)
  • 10% price buying from opposite sex
  • Invest in shops and increase available gold permanently in invested stores
  • Master Trader – every merchant in world gains 1000 gold for bartering
  • Buy and sell from any merchant regardless of what they normally buy and sell
  • Intimidation attempts twice as successful
  • Persuasion attempts more likely successful


  • Potions 20% stronger (5 ranks)
  • Potions for restore health, magicka or stamina are 25% more powerful (maybe ranked)
  • Poisons 25% more effective (maybe ranked)
  • Poisons last for twice as many hits
  • Two ingredients are gathered from plants
  • 50% resistance to all poisons
  • All negative effects removed from potions and all positive removed from poisons
  • 2 effects of an ingredient are revealed when testing it for the first time (instead of just one)
  • Another (unclear recording, sorry!)


  • Dual casting overcharges effect for more powerful spell
  • Cast Novice spells for 50% less magicka
  • Cast Apprentice spells for 50% less magicka
  • Cast Adept, Expert, Master etc spells for 50% less magicka (more levels this time around)
  • Spells work on higher level animals
  • Spells work on higher level people
  • All spellcasting (from ANY school) is done silently
  • Spells work on undead, daedra and automatons
  • One I genuinely didn’t understand, and it wasn’t clear on the recording either – something about “Kindred Mage” or something.
  • Fear spells work on higher level enemies


  • Novice for 50% magicka etc (up to Master)
  • Dual casting overcharges –> greater spell effect
  • Bound weapons do more damage
  • Bound weapons cast Soul Trap on target
  • Bound weapons banish certain creatures (and I think summon creature in their place, not 100% on that though, dodgy recording)
  • Reanimate undead with 100 more health
  • Summon 2 Atronachs or reanimated zombies
  • Summon Atronachs at twice the distance
  • Summoned Atronachs twice as strong


  • More damage for each school (fire, frost and shock) – ranked
  • Novice for 50% magicka etc.
  • Shock damage chance to disintegrate targets if their health is under 10%
  • Frost damage chance to paralyse targets if health low
  • Fire damage chance to make low health enemies flee
  • Place runes 5x farther away


  • Healing spells also restore stamina
  • Novice for 50% less magicka etc
  • Healing spells do 50% more healing
  • Something about recharging healing spells (sorry about poor recording quality, it was in my pocket!)
  • More is recharged with each hit with healing spells (again, sorry not 100% sure what this means!)
  • Spells more effective against undead
  • Once a day chance to autocast 250HP restoration when health drops low
  • Magicka regenerates 25% faster


  • Novice for 50% less etc
  • Alteration spells have greater duration (probably ranked)
  • Absorb 30% magicka that hits you
  • Another couple – bad recording again


  • Enchants are 20% stronger (ranked)
  • Enchanted armour 25% stronger
  • “Soul gems provide extra magicka for recharging” – again, dodgy recording but that’s what I heard, even if it doesn’t make much sense
  • Death blows to creatures but not people trap souls for weapon recharge
  • Health, magicka and stamina enchants stronger
  • Extra effect on already-enchanted weapon can be applied
  • Shock, Frost and Fire enchants 25% stronger (individual perks for each element) (probably ranked)

Heavy Armour

  • Increase armour rating 20% (5 ranks)
  • Unarmed attacks with heavy armour gauntlets – damage increased by gauntlets’ armour rating
  • Half fall damage if all in heavy armour
  • Heavy armour weighs nothing and doesn’t slow you at all
  • Additional 25% armour if in matching set
  • 25% armour bonus if all in heavy armour (not necessarily matching)
  • 50% less stagger if all in heavy armour
  • 10% damage reflected back to enemy if all in heavy armour

2-handed weapons

  • 2h weapons do 20% more damage (5 ranks)
  • Attacks with warhammers ignore 25% armour (ranked)
  • Attacks with battleaxes do extra bleeding damage (ranked)
  • Attacks with greatswords do extra critical damage (ranked)
  • Power attacks cost 25% less stamina
  • Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage, chance to decapitate
  • Sprinting power attacks do double (critical) damage
  • Sideways power attacks hit all targets
  • Backwards power attacks have 25% chance of paralysis


  • Bows do 25% more damage
  • Zoom in
  • Zooming slows time
  • 10% crit chance
  • Move faster with drawn bow
  • Recover twice as many arrows from dead bodies
  • 50% chance of paralysing for few seconds (might be 15%, can’t really hear…)
  • Draw bow 30% fasterAnother about arrows – can’t hear


  • 20% harder to detect (ranked)
  • Sneak attacks do 6x damage with 1h weapons
  • Sneak attacks with bows do 3x damage
  • Sneak attacks with daggers do 15x damage (end perk on skill tree)
  • Noise from armour reduced 50%
  • No longer activate pressure plates
  • Sprinting while sneaking performs silent forward roll
  • Running does not affect detection chance
  • Crouching can make hostile enemies lose sight of you and search for a target

Further Details and Clarification

  • Riding a horse forces your perspective to third-person.
  • Races will likely have additional abilities and bonuses beyond those listed above, which reflect only what the character creation screen describes.
  • There are 5 levels of mastery for skills – Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert, Master.
  • The branching nature of skill trees means that some perks require that previous perks be obtained. In addition, some perks require a certain skill level. Others may require both.
  • Every magic school offers five perks related to 50% less Magicka, one for each level of mastery (i.e. Novice spells for 50% less Magicka, Apprentice spells for 50% less Magicka).
  • Atronachs, zombies, and ghost wolves are confirmed as summonable creatures.
  • Destruction and Restoration magic do not require any perk to use the “dual wield overcharge” effect.
  • The “dual wield overcharge” perk is always the very first perk in each magic skill tree.
  • You will be able to unlock one perk per level, every level.
  • Surface water effects look fantastic, and the murkiness of being submerged is fitting. However, Skyrim retains the infamous water glitch from Oblivion where players will not see any submerged water effects when the water level is about halfway up the screen.

MASSIVE thanks to user Sammuthegreat for compiling this information in his brief time with the game at Eurogamer Expo 2011. Be sure to send him your thanks on the official Bethesda Softworks forums, and stay tuned to Vivid Gamer for more on the biggest RPG of the year.

[Additional Source: Sammuthegreat]