I'm playing as a Khajiit and I'm trying to figure out if there is any way of improving my claw attacks or my unarmed combat. If there isn't, there should be a certain point in the game where a weapon becomes of greater utility than unarmed combat, no? I'm asking because I was really surprised about how strong my claw attack was when I unequipped my dagger (still at the beginning of the game).
I chose Khajiit for the +15 damage claw attack among other things and was a bit disappointed they didn't at least scale it with your level. It really is a letdown .-. Despite this, I found another way.
I started off by upgrading my Heavy Armor tree. I put a point in Juggernaut then added another in Well Fitted. Upon next level up I went straight for the Fists of Steel perk. Now, I continue to max out everything that increases Armor Rating. Let me tell you this.. it's like having a 2-handed weapon in the form of your fist. I punch giants, trolls, dragons etc. to death with ease. It is true that you can improve weapons with Blacksmithing, but you can also improve armor. Meaning.. the stronger your armor rating on your Gauntlets.. the stronger your Unarmed Attacks will be. I got sick and tired of how inconvienient it was having to carry all those weapons around and decided this is what I was going to do. There is no better feeling in this game than the mass triumph punching a dragon in the face to death yields!
Also, as far as the unarmed damage enchantments go.. I suggest the +15 Heavy Armor Rating enchant if you want some balance of defense and power. Otherwise, stick to the +10 Unarmed Damage enchant :]
Note: I'm not at all saying this way of combat is better than any other. I'm saying that it is just as viable and can be an extremely fun/rewarding experience.
While the usefulness of the claw attack does fade over the course of the game, you can substantially extend its lifespan by picking up the Fists of Steel ability in the Heavy Armor skill tree. In addition to being a viable attack in the early and middle game, the Khajiit claws are always extremely powerful in unarmed brawls, which are part of a number of quests and optional objectives.
You can get enchanted items that improve unarmed damage by themselves. In my game, I found early brawler gloves (light armor) that give +10 Unarmed damage and I finished the game with them with only doing unarmed damage.
Still, that enchant is very uncommon since I only ever found one in the whole game somehow. If I had more, I'd have broken it and enchanted some jewelry with it for another boost. You can only put that effect on gloves, rings and necklaces though and you need 80 in enchant and 5 perks to remake the 10 bonus damage gloves.
First, go to the Ratway in Riften and kill Gian the Fist for his Gloves of the Pugilist (he can be found in the room with the alchemy table and the bear traps all over the floor). These are a guaranteed drop and can be disenchanted for the Fortify Unarmed Damage effect.
You'll want to add this effect to your ring, gloves, and neck item. If you have the Extra Effect perk, pairing Fortify Unarmed Damage with Regenerate Stamina allows you to chain together far more power attacks than bladed or blunt players can.
There are three perks which are pretty much must-haves if you're going to go hand-to-hand:
- Fists of Steel, which increases unarmed damage when wearing heavy armor gauntlets by their armor rating.
- Juggurnaut, which increases the armor rating of heavy armor. This is a prerequisite for Fists of steel and increases the bonus it grants by increasing your gauntlets' armor.
- Dual Flurry, which increases the speed of Dual Wielding attacks. While unarmed attacks don't count as one-handed, they are affected by dual-wielding perks.
Daedric Gauntlets have the highest base armor rating at 18 and, depending on your Smithing, can be significantly increased. Just ensure that you improve your gauntlets as much as you can before enchanting them unless you have the Arcane Blacksmith perk!
I wanted to combine all of the other answers into a nice formula.
Available at the start of the game.
Fortify Unarmed Damage
This enchantment can be applied to your Gauntlets and a Ring. The base is +5pts damage.
Max Enchanting seems to be able to improve on the base to 362% the base which would give 18pts damage per enchanted item.
Fists of steel
"After some investigation I think I'm forced to conclude that the fists of steel perk uses the base value from gauntlets (i.e. 18 for daedric gauntlets) that's unmodified by heavy armor skill nor smithing. So in unarmed is utterly worthless" - yx
You'll want Daedric gauntlets which have a base defence of 18. However, if smithed with maximum smithing and wearing heavy armour you can get a much higher defence.
To get this number I will reference Min - Maxing Armor / Weapons using Crafting in Skyrim.
If you add up the base Daedric armour you get 144 defence. Jerich states that his unaltered armour was 160 so we can assume his heavy armour skill is very low.
Of the 144 base armour, 18 or 12.5% is from the gauntlets. Jerich states the max being:
Full Daedric Armor: 2469 Armor
12.5% of 2469 = 308.625
However, since Jerich's heavy armour level appears low we add in:
Level 100 heavy armour = +40%
Perks = +150%
Fortify Heavy Armour (Neck, Chest, Arm, Finger) = 4 * 29% = +116%
Adds ~1250 Damage
Adds 18 Damage
Base Attack = 10pt
Khajit Claws = 12pts
Fortify Unarmed Damage * 2 = 36pts
Daedric Gauntlets = 18 Damage
76 damage per hit
Note: There may be mistakes in the above calculations. If you see an error please point it out so that I can correct it!
Everything depends on skill level in this game.
Your weapons are weak because your one-handed and two handed skills are low. I havent seen the enchantment that increases unarmed damage that the last poster spoke of, so they must be pretty rare (I keep an eye out for any new enchantment since I love enchanting).
I can't possibly imagine that unarmed can be better than using weapons, considering the multitude of ways to increase your weapon damage. For example, I can enchant my gloves, amulets, and rings to add a 45% bonus to my one-handed damage alone. Combine this with Master of One-Hand and a maxed out one-hand perk tree, I could be extremely brutal. I'm a wizard though, so my one-hand skill is low, but just using one +45% piece of armor and an ebony axe i can dish out some serious damage.
You can further increase 1-handed damage when you upgrade weapons with smithing -- spend skills in that tree to gain more damage on upgraded weapons also. The amount of ways to become stronger in this game are amazing!! love it.
Hand to hand combat can be just as viable as bladed weapons in early, mid, and late game as long as you make the correct character build, in fact if done correctly it can be more effective due to high damage output, and the speed at which you can attack if you would like I could post an entire character build in order to better answer your question