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My character is in the later levels [60+] and at this point it's a little harder for her to level up. I had the idea of finding one of the 'hardest' barrows [one that respawns] and seeing if making a skill legendary/learning a new one whilst being there would help.

I went to Forelhost to try. The place is crawling with Draugr Deathlords and Overlords and she managed to level up two levels just whilst being there.

Which other locations have lots of advanced and difficult enemies, ideally a location which respawns?

EDIT: I should mention that my character is a Redguard who mostly uses 1H + Light Armour, but Restoration and Enchantment magic are also fine. Forms of magic like Illusion and Conjuration are 'out'. The intention is not to get to immensely high levels, but ideally anything above 80.

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    Is your final objective to level up or to defeat strong enemies? – Wrigglenite Nov 3 '20 at 10:01
  • @Wrigglenite this is a very good question. A bit of both is the answer. Presently the final objective is to level up further, though defeating challenging enemies is an enjoyable way to do this for me. For instance, I am currently training my character to defeat Karstaag, but she's got some work to go before she's ready for that, and in the training process, levelling up is both inevitable and enjoyable. I would rather do things this way than develop something like alchemy, sneak or pickpocketing, which, even though they are at low levels for me, I have little interest in. – C26 Nov 3 '20 at 10:18
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    Is grinding an option? Grinding on a giant is typically how I level up my block and armor skills. For weapon skills, I take the highest damaging mace, paired with a dagger offhand, no upgrades (because upgraded equipment earns no extra exp), and grind on monsters. It takes forever but a random high level bandit can max out my attack skill. – Nelson Dec 3 '20 at 4:02
  • @Nelson - thanks for the comment - see the edit on my accepted answer below, I don't know why it hasn't floated to the top but yes, I found that a battle with one Draugr Death Overlord playing defensively was enough to make a significant difference. If I hadn't found this out I would have just been wandering round for ages trying to level up in barrows by killing things quickly and aggressively, but Block and Light Armour go up quickly if you're defending yourself from a tanky opponent. Combined with Restoration it works really well. In the end I killed it with the shield, it seemed fitting. – C26 Dec 3 '20 at 9:40
  • Multiple giants beating on you is the fastest to raise defensive skills, by a significant margin. Just blocking it is about 1 level every 3-4 hits. – Nelson Dec 3 '20 at 9:47
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There not many enemies that are more tanky than Draugr Deathlords/Overlords and Forelhost is one of the larger of the Nordic Ruins. If your goal is to level up skills, you mostly just want to face enemies with lots of health as skill advancement is based on damage dealt so sticking with Draugr is probably a good idea as they have more health than some of the other typical enemies you find in the game.

If you want to fight hard and annoying enemies, the Dawnguard DLC adds the Falmer Warmonger to most areas where Falmer can spawn. They are very tanky and hit hard.

You can try searching through the various lists of ruin types on UESP for more ideas:

You can also go Dragon Priest hunting as they're typically in medium/large burrows with large amount of Draugr.

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  • Good answer, thank you. One thing I didn't consider was Lurker Sentinels/Vindicators. Is it possible to 'revisit' the Black Book locations once back in Solsteim? – C26 Nov 3 '20 at 15:25
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    @C26 I thought about those but the density in those areas are not that great imo, and I think you get taken straight to the final book when you re-read them. – l I Nov 3 '20 at 15:44
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There was a poll done on the hardest locations here:

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/615803-the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim/68628790

The poll did not yield many votes, but, with some research on UESP and reading round, these are generally considered the hardest. I have tested them with regard to how effective they were to levelling up:

  • Forelhost [Nordic dragon priest lair, min level 24: a whole load of Draugr Deathlords and Overlords, esp at the end you will have to fight four Draugr Deathlords simultaneously and the dragon priest Rahgot. Tested - very effective {+2 levels}]
  • Volskygge [Nordic dragon priest lair, min level 24: as above, but fewer. Tested - effective {+1 level}]
  • Darkfall Cave / Forgotten Vale - [Falmer cave / region: a load of falmer of all levels + frost giants [the latter do not respawn]. Tested - effective {+1 level}]
  • Tolvald's Cave [Falmer cave, min level 16: falmer of all levels. Tested - effective {+1 level}]

  • Sightless Pit [Dwemer, min level 18] [tested - not effective]
  • Lost Valley Redoubt [Nordic ruin / Forsworn] [tested - not effective]
  • Morvunskar [Mage fort, min level 8] [tested - not effective]
  • Ansilvund [Nordic, min level 8] [tested - not effective]
  • Arcwind Point [Nordic, min level 6] [tested - not effective]

All of these respawn within 0-30 in-game days. One can therefore rotate between the effective locations using them to level up.

Of course, it also depends on how ones plays these areas - levelling up 2+ skills at a time [by making one or more legendary if necessary] is obviously going to yield better results.

Labyrithian and Bthardamz are often mentioned, but these locations do not respawn. Referring to the answer given by the user l I, I have looked at [and visited] many of the medium-large caves/dwemer ruins/tombs and found them to be largely ineffective - even though they may have multiple enemies, these locations were often level-locked so made little difference in late game. Also most of the dragon priest tombs do not respawn [there are three that do, in addition to the two given above there is High Gate Ruins, but this is not a difficult tomb to clear].

Furthermore, if one mods, or even going vanilla, one may consider the acclaimed "High Level Enemies" mod on Nexus as a sole addition, which adds more scaled enemies for all types and should be enough to keep things interesting.


EDIT: In the end I was on the right track with the tombs but doing things wrongly - one does not needs hordes of draugr to level up a warrior-like character, one single draugr is enough if you play a defensive game with it. I came across a Draugr Death Overlord in Arcwind Point yesterday and, through using a combination of block, light armour and restoration [having made the first two legendary], managed to level from 78-80 in about 15 mins. I will select this as the right answer since I solved my own issue, though user4951 still keeps the bounty since his answer was interesting and gave me lots to think about [and also the bounty can't be changed, but he would have kept it regardless since I appreciate his effort].

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I am the level 314 guy here. So you want to level up some skills to make legendary?

Then finding hard dungeon is NOT the way.

Rising one hand and two hand and archery is very difficult and take a long time.

Instead, do one of these two.

With restoration glitch.

There are plenty on videos and details on how to do so https://www.google.com/search?channel=crow2&client=firefox-b-d&q=restoration+glitch+skyrim

Technically, it's lore friendly.

With restoration glitch, create fortify enchanting potion. Something like 10k % is enough. Now, after that, enchance one ring with enchance alchemy.

Now use that ring anytime to create potion. Here is the trick.

Speech, alchemy, smithing and enchanting have this rule. Your skill increase proportional to the value of items created.

That means, with 10k% fortify alchemy, for example, you can create one potion and if that potion worth 500k septim (I'll write that $500k, assuming one septim is about one dollar), you will increase your alchemy from 15 to 100 with one or two potions.

After that? Sell the potion. Again, each time you do so, you increase speech from 15 to 100.

Of course, you can also do that with enchanting and smithing. However, that's a bit more difficult. It's much easier doing it with alchemy.

Fortify restoration is a must. You get an OP character that can one shot everything. Unfortunately, even though you have 10k% improved archery gauntlet, you don't increase archery from 15-100 at one shot. So archery is not like speech and alchemy.

Without restoration glitch

Bbbbbbbbbbuuuuttttttt you're a pious lore friendly guy that wants to do this without glitch.

You can.

Max out your illusion skill. Illusion is the only school of magic I know that works. Maybe other works too I don't know. Get the master spell harmony.

Now go to a place with lots of people. I usually went to basement of solitude. However, if you know any other places, that's good too. Make sure it's a lot of people there peacefully.

A good complement of this answer will be such places. Basically, I have completed storm cloak campaign and all the defeated jarl is in the basement of solitude so it works for ME. Not necessarily for you.

Now cast harmony 7 times. Yap. Just 7 times. And you will increase illusion from 15 to 100. At less crowded places you will have to do this, 8 times. You can wait 1 hour if you run out of magicka. I simply used a helm with 10k%+ magicka so not an issue for me.

Took like 30 seconds per try.

That way you get a huge level fast.

You see the pic I showed? It shows how I make alchemy and speech legendary so many times. Then I also make illusion legendary like 4 times.

By that time my level is already so high and I got all the perk. I actually have to weaken my character and fight naked for the game to feel normal again. Otherwise, I just one shot everything.

So diplomatic immunity quest is just so easy for me. He he he he.

Other ways to increase skills

Other answers say you got to pick a tanky or tough opponent. I totally disagree. The best way to raise skills is NOT to kill tough opponents but weak opponents. Your skill increase in one hand, two hands, destruction, and archery does not depends on how tough your opponents are. It depends on how much the base damage of your weapons are.

In other words, unlike in most games where you have to fight top opponents to increase skills, in Skyrim, you can just find weak enemies and practice there. That is. Mudcrab, spiders, animals. Mammoth are fine. You want to beat up the enemy several time.

So bound sword, bound axe, and bound bows, all have near the top base damage in the game. You do not increase skills faster by enchanting or smithing your weapon. Hence, I suggest using unimproved weapons or bound weapons.

I think bound bows have like the best DPS in the game. Bound sword is close to the best sword out there. Bound axe is also near the top. The top two hand is Dragon Bone Warhammer according to this.

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-11-16-skyrim-best-weapons-ranked-best-bow-sword-dagger-and-more

Because I like to raise all skills to 100, I use Dragon Bone Warhammer to increase my two hand. After that, I do NOT want to make that legendary.

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  • Upvoted this because you spent time on it and I think it would be useful for a lot of people. It's not, however, that useful for me because my character is a lore-friendly [though progressive] Redguard who uses some magic [Restoration and Enchantment chiefly] but not Conjuration or Illusion. Maybe I should have put this in the OP, sorry. Also, I take your point about levelling not being dependant on tough opponents, but Forelhost and Tolvald's Cave were, without doubt, the best locations for levelling [mostly 1H + Light Armour + Rest] out of all those tested. So I don't quite get it. – C26 Nov 6 '20 at 11:27
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    Casting harmony in a room full of people is the fastest role friendly way to make a skill legendary. You literally can get one perk in less than 1 minute. I am not sure about killing people in dungeon. It'll take at least a few hours to level up from 15 to 100. I leveled up my light armor to 100 by letting ebony warrior beat me up for a few minutes but I don't make that legendary. What are you really trying to achieve? Do you want all the perks? Do you want all the skills to be 100 like me? Or you just want to level up to say 100? – user4951 Nov 6 '20 at 13:13
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    You can't level up beyond 80 without making some skills legendary. I really don't think you should make one hand, archery or two hand legendary. Takes too much time. However, you can make illusion legendary (from 15-100) in only one minute. That's what I am trying to say. If you just want to play for fun and reach level say, 70, then ignor what I said. If you want all the perks and reach 200+ level, then there is no other way than do what I said. – user4951 Nov 6 '20 at 13:14
  • Thanks and, again, I probably should have been clearer. My aim is not to get to level 200+, but just anywhere between 80-100 would be great. Currently my character is at 65 with a few skills which are already legendary [1H, 2H, block, light armour]. I don't want all the skills to be 100 since that would mean going out of character - some things, like Illusion, Conjuration and Pickpocketing in particular I am quite happy to leave at lower levels. – C26 Nov 6 '20 at 13:28
  • My answer is most likely best for different questions. – user4951 Nov 6 '20 at 13:33

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