So, part of being an effective thief is being able to disarm or circumvent various automated defense mechanisms. Y'know, traps.

Tripwires are easy, and the kind that are wired up to doors aren't much tougher, assuming the wire's on the side of the door I'm on. Pressure Plates are easily handled with the appropriate Sneak perk, and they can also be triggered via telekinesis or other means of placing objects with weight on them.

But the Magickal traps, specifically those glowing runes on the ground... those confound me. I've found nothing better to do than to throw up some defenses, and take a burst of (often very LOUD) magick to the face, which is... unpleasant and inelegant.

There has to be a better way? Is there some sort of Dispel Magic that I haven't found? Is there some other trick to disarming rune spells perhaps?

  • 2
    Conjure a creature on the spot? Dec 3 '11 at 1:19
  • 1
    Ive found that using the same type of magic as the trap on the ground will set it off. While it may not be the sneakiest way, this can also be used to distract your enemies. It's also quite possible that a Ward would work, but I'm unsure.
    – Domocus
    Dec 3 '11 at 1:21
  • @RavenDreamer: Well that's hardly subtle. Might as well just use a ward while I facetank it. Dec 3 '11 at 1:24
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    It's not a dispel, but a helpful tip: Wards have a very small delay when they go off. A whirlwind sprint will get you through and out the other side unscathed.
    – dpatchery
    Dec 3 '11 at 3:03
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    have you tried covering it with a bucket?
    – DrFish
    Dec 3 '11 at 5:30

10 Answers 10


You can use a ward (lesser ward is easy) and walk over it. It won't go off as long as your magic doesn't run out just as you're walking over it.

  • 1
    Oh my gosh, finally a reason for I to use this spell!
    – NiteCyper
    Feb 6 '14 at 4:44
  • Didn't work in Skyrim Special Edition. Casting Magelight worked. Sep 13 '20 at 19:49

Well sadly there is no effective way to silently disable the trap but you can throw a a fireball at the trap which will indeed trigger it but some kinds of magic dont work on some kinds of traps, i am unsure of which ones due to the fact that i rarely come across these kind of traps.

  • Does this still alert people if you have Silent Casting? Jan 5 '12 at 18:06
  • @SteveGreatrex yes, because the rune is not silent when it goes off. Jan 9 '12 at 4:29

I summon my familiar onto it. Boom!

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    This works wonderfully; I never liked my fire atronach anyway :) Dec 19 '11 at 6:12

You can set off any rune by casting magelight on it.


There is another way. If you kill the wizard that put the rune spell, it will remain on the floor/wall and you cant remove it (it wont trigger even if you walk in it).

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    This is good to know, though sadly it doesn't help with Runes that have been placed as level design. Dec 4 '11 at 0:51

For runes, shooting any destruction spell at them works. Even a quick burst of one of your dps spells should do the trick.


Get an enemy to set it off with a bow and arrow.


I used unrelenting voice to throw the trap off in a distance. But certainly not a subtle way to disarm it.


Disarm shout seemed to work really well

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    But not very quiet, so kinda defeat's the OP's purpose. May 20 '13 at 22:39

You have to use the same type of spell on the rune... Fire for fire, lighting for lighting and frost for frost

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