Elder Scrolls Races (Skyrim)
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there are 10 different playable races, and each one possesses its own unique racial abilities and powers. Each race starts off with +10 in one skill and +5 in five other skills. However, this doesn’t mean that each race is restricted to creating a certain type of character, because the player can develop any skill over time. Unlike other Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim does not feature a class system, so in character creation, the race is the only major gameplay choice that the player has.
Starting skills by race
The following table shows the starting Skill statistics for each Race. The higher the number (over the base level of 15) the better. Values of 20 indicate this is a favored skill of the race. Values of 25 indicate this is a Primary Skill of the Race. Skills can be improved to a primary group.
Every race has their own unique skill which they excel at and will start at level 25 with that particular skill. For Example: Bretons start at level 25 Conjuration as they are naturally skilled at it.
Altmer (High elf)
Bosmer (Wood elf)
Dunmer (Dark elf)
Imperial Khajiit Nord
Smithing 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 20 20 20
Heavy Armor 15 15 15 15 15 20 15 15 25 15
Block 15 15 15 15 15 20 15 20 20 20
Two-Handed 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 25 20 15
One-Handed 15 15 15 15 15 20 20 20 20 25
Archery 15 15 25 15 15 15 20 15 15 20
Light Armor 15 20 20 15 20 15 15 20 15 15
Sneak 15 20 20 15 20 15 25 15 15 15
Lockpicking 15 25 20 15 15 15 20 15 15 15
Pickpocket 15 20 20 15 15 15 20 15 15 15
Speech 15 15 15 20 15 15 15 20 15 15
Alchemy 15 15 20 20 20 15 20 15 15 15
Illusion 25 15 15 20 20 15 15 15 15 15
Conjuration 20 15 15 25 15 15 15 15 15 15
Destruction 20 15 15 15 25 20 15 15 15 20
Restoration 20 20 15 20 15 25 15 15 15 15
Alteration 20 20 15 20 20 15 15 15 15 20
Enchanting 20 15 15 15 15 20 15 15 20 15
Starting spells by race
The following table holds all of the basic spells for each race.
Race / Spell
Imperial Khajiit Nord
Healing X X X X X X X X X X
Flames X X X X X X X X X X
Conjure Familiar X
Unique Race Powers
These powers can be used only once per day, unless otherwise specified.
Redguard Adrenaline Rush Stamina regenerates 10 times faster for 60 seconds.
Berserker Rage Take half damage and do double physical damage for 60 seconds.
Nord Battle Cry Nearby enemies are Feared for 30 seconds.
Khajiit Night Eye Improved Night Vision for 60 seconds (can be toggled multiple times per day.)
Imperial Voice of the Emperor Nearby people are Calmed for 30 seconds.
Surrounds the Dunmer in fire for 60 seconds.
Breton Dragonskin Absorb 50% of magicka from all incoming spells for 60 seconds.
Command Animal Make all surrounding animals your allies for 60 seconds
Argonian Histskin Invoke the power of the Hist to recover health 10 times faster for 60 seconds.
Highborn Regenerate magicka 10 times faster for 60 seconds.
Unique race perks
Altmer: +50 Magicka
Argonian: 50% Disease Resistance, Waterbreathing
Bosmer: 50% Resistance to both Poison and Disease
Breton: 25% Resistance to Magic
Dunmer: 50% Resistance to Fire Damage
Nord: 50% Resistance to Frost Damage
Redguard: 50% Resistance to Poison
Khajiit: +15 Base Unarmed Damage
Imperial: Find more gold than usual
Stats affected by character size
Characters’ races impact their jump height and run speed. Physically taller races can cover more ground while running and have a greater vertical jump height.
Using the console command
player.setscale to change the height of the character will increase the size of a character in addition to increasing their movement speed, jump height, and damage output. Because changing the player scale in the console increases and decreases melee damage accordingly, there is a misconception that taller races do more base melee damage. Without console modification, however, the default scale of all races in the console is 1.00, regardless of physical height. Therefore, all races do the same melee damage at the time of character creation. For further explanation, see the screenshot displaying the actual player scale (1.00) used in calculations and the base scale. The base scale is a purely, completely cosmetic scale in which the character’s height is adjusted accordingly. Orcs and High Elves have, equally, the highest cosmetic height in the game, in which both of the races cosmetic scale is 1.10. This means that an Orc has a cosmetic scale of 1.10 as does a High Elf, but like mentioned above, all races in the game use a scale of 1.00 for every single calculation including Damage Output, Damage Resistance, Run Speed, and Jump Height.
Changes from previous games
Character creation has been dramatically changed in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Previous games had the player choose from a list of classes that would determine the starting skills for the player’s character and in some cases, how the player’s character would level. The player also had the option of creating a custom class, selecting each skill individually. This system had a very large impact on player effectiveness in the beginning of the game, though Oblivion’s system was able to lessen that impact. A player could spend hours working out the most effective way to build a character.
In Skyrim, however, that system has been removed, meaning that though the player will still select a race, the player no longer has to select a class. Skill set specialization is still possible in Skyrim, but instead of permanently selecting this during character creation, this is now done using the skill perks earned by leveling up (both skills and player level, as perks are earned by overall level while skill level is required to select any but the most basic perks). The birthsign system has been replaced completely with Standing Stones, which can be changed at any time by visiting and activating a new stone.
The Luck attribute has also been removed and is therefore impossible to increase. Skills have been further reduced from a total of 21 to 18. There are no acrobatics/athletics or speed attributes so it is not possible to increase your jump height or your character’s running speed through stats (however, Altmer for example, have a naturally faster running speed than the other races).
Level 81 is the highest, meaning there are 80 (no perk can be chosen at level 1) possible perk points to choose from (out of over 250 possible places to spend them) however a typical player will not max out all skills to 100, and will instead reach only around level 50 or so. A character designed around 30 perk points is a reasonable build that can be reached in-game fairly quickly and is a great starting point for those who want to design the character before playing. This has changed with Legendary Skills, which allow the player to refund all the perk points from a single skill and set its level back to 15, effectively allowing the player to level their character indefinitely. Skills can also be made legendary multiple times.