So, I recently discovered the Oghma Infinium and the power-leveling bug that comes with it. That got me to thinking about what might be the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to possibly crank a character from 0-81.

The problem with the Oghma Infinium though, is that the quest to find it requires the character to be at least level 15. So, I still need a way to get those first levels knocked out of the way.

I've managed to get up to around level 8 by abusing the Faendal Trainer/Follower relationship to the max. But, I still need something to get me the rest of the way.

Is there a quick, simple, and relatively low-risk method to reliably make the run from 0-15?

Ideally, the method should:

  • Have a relatively low start-up capital requirement. (Something within fairly quick & easy reach of a player fresh out of Helgen.) Ideally, most of the start-up capital should be refundable.
  • Be easy to accomplish, without requiring any side work or out-of-process progression.
  • Be reliably repeatable. (Not involving tasks with a chance element, like pickpocketing.)
  • Involve little to no risk to the character's livelihood. (Ideally no more risk than one might normally incur by simply traveling across the countryside.)
  • Be cross-platform. (Your console commands are no good here.)

NOTE: As I was writing this, the Speechcraft leveling exploit just came to mind. However, I don't have time tonight to verify whether a run of one skill up to 100 will be enough to cover the gap. Can anyone confirm how far that might get me?

  • "Your console commands are no good here." The most upvoted answer in this meta post, which asks about questions similar to this one states: "We are not only trying to help the asker of a given question, but all people who might have the same problem in the future… It is perfectly acceptable and preferable to give an answer… for all platforms." Due to that, I believe console command or mod answers for the PC are perfectly acceptable, to not exclude PC users. Dec 23, 2012 at 14:39
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    @galacticninja True, but this question is pointless given access to the console: the answer would be "Don't bother, just console your skills up. Done." Console commands make power-levelling exploits obsolete, so unless we're going to close this as NARQ, console-command answers are "Not A Real Answer". Jan 8, 2013 at 18:22
  • @SevenSidedDie I disagree that "console commands make power-levelling exploits obsolete", given that console commands are power-leveling exploits themselves. OP or you may not like console command answers, but it still is an answer and should not be removed as 'Not A Real Answer'. As stated in the meta post I mentioned, "We are not only trying to help the asker of a given question, but all people who might have the same problem in the future." Jan 9, 2013 at 3:10
  • @SevenSidedDie I'm not talking about console commands only, but PC-specific solutions in general, like mods. OP mentioned that answers here should "be cross-platform" (i.e. no PC-only console commands or mods). As talked about in the meta post I mentioned, it is perfectly fine to answer with PC-only console or mod solutions even if OP has mentioned that he/she is using Xbox 360 and/or PS3, and is not looking for PC console commands or mods. Jan 9, 2013 at 3:10
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    @galacticninja I see where you're coming from, but I also see where the OP is coming from. I think the intent of this question is to document an in-game exploit/power-levelling strategy which is possible without "cheat codes" or external cheat tools/mods, but it was expressed poorly in that one line. I don't think it really has anything to do with being cross-platform or anti-PC, so much as it's looking for a very specific type of process that just happens to avoid things that just happen to be only available on PC. Jan 9, 2013 at 3:15

11 Answers 11


Okay. I decided I'd stay up and play-test my original solution anyway. I've gotten the "up to level 15" part knocked out, which covers answering this question. I'll see exactly how playable it is in terms of getting the Oghma Infinium later.

Here's my process. Total cost to the player nets out to only about 454 gp. Start-up capital is minimum 1,000 gp. More comfortable progression through later processes can be attained by having a start-up capital of around 3,060 gp.

Costs break down as follows:

  • Cost to train Archery at level 50: 540 gp (refundable)
  • Cost of travel to Riften: 20 gp (non-refundable)
  • Cost of bribing Ungrien until Speech level 25: Approx. 440 gp (non-refundable)
  • (Optional) Cost to train Archery through levels 46-49: 2,060 gp (refundable)

Of course, you might be able to turn some non-refundable costs in to refundable ones via pickpocketing. But, I wouldn't rely on it.

Time to complete is about two hours of gameplay.

The Process:

  1. Getting out of Helgen.
    It really doesn't much matter how you do this, or with whom. For my play-test, I just rushed through it by doing only what was absolutely necessary. However, there are a couple things you could do to make building the start-up capital easier.
    • Loot everything. Focus on items that have a high value-per-weight ratio. Sell whatever you don't need when you get to town.
    • Follow Ralof. This will later give you 24x7 access to Hod, which is handy for when you want to sell wood.
  2. Get to Riverwood.
    Again, it really doesn't matter how you do this. You can follow the person who led you out of Helgen, or you can just head straight there yourself. I chose the latter.
  3. Gain Faendal as a follower.
    Find Faendal in Riverwood. Talk to him about Sven, to start A Lovely Letter. Resolve that quest in Faendal's favor. Then, ask him to follow you.
  4. Go chop wood.
    Okay, perhaps this isn't the most glorious - and maybe not even the fastest - way to make money. But it is reliable, it's safe, and it's 100% profit. You'll want to do this until you've gotten at least 1,000 gp built up. To make the later processes ultra-smooth, you'd want around 3,060 to start. But, there does come a point where the time saved later on just won't be worth the time spent at the block.

    1. Make sure Faendal is following you.
    2. Get the Woodcutter's Axe from the workbench behind the mill.
    3. Find a Wood Chopping Block nearby, and use it.
    4. Repeat step 3 until overencumbered.
    5. Give Faendal as much wood as he can carry.
    6. Repeat step 4.
    7. (Optional) Unload just enough wood so that you're no longer overencumbered.
    8. Find Hod, stand next to him.
    9. Have Faendal give you all the wood he's carrying.
    10. Sell all the wood to Hod.
    11. Repeat steps 1-10 until you've got whatever amount of start-up capital you've decided you want. Two or three trips should be plenty for the minimum.
  5. Get to Riften.
    You could probably walk all the way, if you're sure you know where you're going. But that would be extremely tedious and potentially treacherous. The easiest way to do this, for only 20 gp (already factored into the start-up costs), is to hire the carriage outside of Whiterun Stables to take you there. If you've done nothing except for these steps so far, Whiterun should already be on your map. The stables are just south-west of there. Oh, and do make sure Faendal is still following you.

  6. Get to the Black-Briar Meadery.
    The guards outside of Riften will try to shake you down. Use the Persuade option, and they should let you pass for free. This should also give you a little extra Speech XP to start off with. From there, head for the Black Briar Meadery. This is where we'll finally be doing our leveling.

  7. Level up with Faendal & Ungrien.
    Faendal is still following you... right? Also, you may want to save around now.

    There's two exploits we're going to leverage here, which I'll cover below. One involves Faendal being both a Trainer and a Follower. The other involves Ungrien's habit of buckling under pressure when it comes to bad-mouthing his boss.

    You'll want to start off by working the Faendal angle as much as you can first. Then, when his training isn't enough on its own to put you up to the next character level, use the Ungrien exploit. Once you've hit the next character level, switch back to Faendal. Repeat until Faendal can't train you anymore (Archery level 50), and then just stick with Ungrien until you're done.

1. Ask Faendal to follow you, if he isn't already.
2. Have Faendal train you until you're low on money, or have maxed your training sessions.
3. Tell Faendal you want to trade with him, and take your money back.

1. Talk to Ungrien, ask about Maven.
2-a. If your Speech is lower than level 25, you'll have to bribe him for the truth. This cost me 24-31 gp per shot, and has been factored into the start-up capital.
2-b. Once your Speech is up to level 25, you should be able to use the Persuade option successfully.

I was able to hit character level 15 after fully training with Faendal (Archery 50) and working Ungrien until my Speech was 73. However, I had picked up a couple levels of Destruction on the way out of Helgen. I was also playing a Nord, so my Speech started with a +5. So, your mileage may vary slightly depending on race and skill usage along the way.

Exploit References

Faendal: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Faendal#Bugs
Ungrien: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Speech#Gaining_Skill_XP

UPDATE: After a grand total of 4 hours and 11 minutes of play time, I now have a level 16 (popped another level during Discerning the Transmundane) character who is in possession of the Oghma Infinium.

Getting through Discerning the Transmundane was a little tricky since I hadn't really leveled any combat skills except Archery, and I hadn't chosen any perks yet. With the combat level set to Novice though, I was able to make it through with still a few healing potions to spare.

Now, if I can just find a bookshelf...

UPDATE: I finally gave in and completed the Dragon Rising quest, followed by some quick fund-raising to purchase and upgrade Breezehome so that I could use a bookshelf there. Now, I've gotten the character up to 81 with the Oghma Infinium glitch.

But, I'm still interested in any information about bookshelves that don't require a player purchase.

  • This is knockout fantastic! Jan 22, 2012 at 1:56
  • Excellent guide and a great answer. A well deserved +1 for you. Thanks!
    – Peter
    Jan 30, 2012 at 17:22
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    You don't need to bribe your speech to 25. Just give the beggar outside the meadery a single coin and your speecb is boosted by ten more than long enough.
    – user39638
    Jan 8, 2013 at 8:32

Okay, you guys are making this harder than it needs to be.

Try this, step by step:

Step 1. Start a new character.

Step 2. Run through Helgen with Ralof or Hadvar until you come to the bear, in which they say you can sneak OR kill. To raise your skills and level up, go into sneak mode behind the NPC and attack him (for more effect, use a dagger).

Your sneak and one-handed skills will increase, as will your level. You should reach level 15 in about 10 to 20 minutes. As your levels raise, put your perk points into your sneak skill. You'll need to unlock Stealth, Muffled Movement, Light Foot, Silent Roll, and Silence, (I'll tell you why as you continue reading) and save the remaining. You should be left with 9 or 10 points for perks.

Step 3. Leave Helgen and proceed to Whiterun's Stables for a map marker for later use.

Step 4. Take a carriage to Winterhold and head to Septimus' hideout.

Step 5. Get the quest from Septimus, Discerning The Transmundane and head to your marker.

Step 6. When you first enter Alftand, your enemies are mechanical spiders and guardians (the dwarven rolling dudes). Spiders, you'll have no problem with. It's the guardians that you want to run from. Even on Novice difficulty, you'll have a hard time fighting them without close calls or completely dying.

Step 7. As you get deeper into Alftand, you'll start to see Falmer. The key to staying alive is easy.

SNEAK!!!! The Falmer are blind, and with the Silence perk, you don't make any noise while crouched and they are no longer any threat to you.

Step 8. Continue through Alftand. Once at the end and you've transcribed the Lexicon, leave and head back to Septimus via fast travel.

Step 9. Gather the blood. Simple as that.

Step 10. Go back to Septimus, give him the blood, and get your Oghma Infinium.

Step 11. Use the Doors of Oblivion glitch for easy coin and sell as many as needed for 5,000.

Step 12. Go to Whiterun and start the main quest. The Jarl's wizard will send you to fetch a dragon stone from Bleakfalls Barrow. When you come back, you'll have to kill the dragon outside of Whiterun. Return to the Jarl and he'll make you Thane.

Step 13. Buy your house! It's about freakin' time.

Step 14. Buy furnishing for your house, as this is needed for a bookshelf and head to your new home.

Step 15. Abuse your Oghma Infinium!

That's everything. Simple as pie and the least time consuming. Hope that helped all of you.

                                 Happy exploring!
  • Interesting technique. Only down-side is it requires burning some perks. My methods do not.
    – Iszi
    Mar 4, 2012 at 1:16
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    What is the total time it took you to make this run? It might be relevant for future readers to be able to compare the times of both your and iszi's run.
    – Kevin
    Dec 21, 2013 at 18:10

That bug does not work anymore after the 1.3 Patch which is already live.



However, the fastest way is to crawl dungeons and use a trainer for your main weapon and armor skill each level for a maximum of 5 learning sessions.

You will need some money of course, which you can gain if you slay a few dragons on the way.

Using the Speech-Bug is not recommended, since enemies will be higher level while you are stuck with a low Weapon Skill.

If that is also too much effort, you can just use the console.


player.advskill destruction 1


  • I'm running a fully-patched PS3 and the Oghma Infinium bug still works for me. Even the reference you provide says "After patch 1.3 this exploit ... will again work on bookshelves but no longer works on chests or containers...". This answer also does not qualify as "Having a net cost of near-zero" or "little to no risk to the character's livelihood".
    – Iszi
    Jan 16, 2012 at 6:34
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    I think that there's an implicit "without using the console" requirement on this question - it's obviously the fastest way to do anything, after all :)
    – Tacroy
    Jan 16, 2012 at 6:36
  • @Tacroy Thanks. I've made it a bit more explicit now.
    – Iszi
    Jan 16, 2012 at 6:41

The speech exploit and the sneak exploit should put you near or over level 15. Hope that helps in your quest for science.

Ps, leaving a heavy object or rubber-band on your controller over night will work for the sneak exploit.

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    And by overnight I mean literally only takes about an hour or two, make sure to grab the thief stone before hand so it goes a tad quicker. Same goes for speech since it's in that tree. :]
    – stay
    Jan 16, 2012 at 7:26

A guaranteed way to get Sneak to 100 is to sneak attack Ulfric in Dragonsreach whilst he is sat down. He will shout at you all you have to do is wait until he turns his head back away from you and you can attack again. So long as he turns his head this resets him and you can attack again without causing any commotion. I did this myself as I never did any sneaking except random pickpocketing.

This alone can be done early on in game and will be a good source of levels.

You can also go to High Hrothgar and sneak around the monks there. I went from 15 to 100 sneaking in just 20 minutes.


I found a pretty easy way to level different things at one time, but it involves Parthonax. What you do is go to the Throat of the World and get behind Parthonax. Then you hit the sneak button and either pull out a bow, one-handed weapon, or a two-handed weapon. From there make sure you are not seen and hit Parthonak with whatever you have but only once. If your sneak thing shows that you are seen then wait a couple seconds until your hidden, then repeat this process. You will level sneak along with whichever attack you are using. It helped me at any level. One more way that I know is to find the spell Muffle and just keep casting it. At low illusion levels it will take only one cast to level it up but as you level up more then it will take more. I hope I helped. :D


The couple of ways I always fast level my characters include:

  • (this one will raise you to at least level 18 before you even leave the cave beneath Helgen, I have done it many times) Use Ralof/Hadvar as a punching bag. Sneak attacking them when they have crouched waiting for you to kill the bear in the cave beneath Helgen is a fast way to level sneak skill up to 100 (seems to work faster if you choose sneak skill perks that make you harder to detect, not guaranteed however). This also raises your one-handed/two-handed/archery skill depending on which weapon you use to do the attacking (dagger is fastest). You can also raise your destruction skill by repeatedly using flames/sparks on him, though this takes a long time.

  • Asking Ungrien in the Black-Briar meadery about Maven Black-Briar and then convincing him to tell the truth repeatedly can be used to reach speech level 100 (takes ~1 hour of real time to do if at average speech level, but still faster than normal leveling by a wide margin).

  • Cast 'soul trap' on a dead body to raise conjuration (game thinks it is the same as a living body so the skill progresses). There are other ways of raising this skill, such as finding a locked room with hostiles inside and repeatedly casting bound weapon outside (there is an area in the dwemer ruin involved in the quest to find the staff of magnus' location with a chaurus inside a locked room that works well).

  • Casting 'muffle' repeatedly as you travel places raises illusion, as it is not necessary to be in battle or even near other people/creatures to progress the skill.

  • Find water and repeatedly cast 'Waterbreathing' while standing in the shallows to raise Alteration, works because the game believes you are swimming as long as you are partially in water.


Inside the Helgen Keep in the Beginning of the Game, take the key from the Imperial Guard before Ralof can. He will now be at the door waiting. Do not open the door. Crouch behind him and pull off sneak attacks behind him. If you get your sneak to level 100 by doing this, you should be at least level 17 before leaving the Helgen Keep.


you could always just go for septimus first thing. when you go through at a low level everything is a little weaker, the only thing i would watch out for is the giant dwemmer robot which i can't remember the name for, but he is pretty powerful and blows steam at you, there is a ballista set up aiming down towards it if you can make it to the lever to fire it in time it should knock out a decent portion of its health after that you no longer need to worry about going through the ruins at a low level and you can turn in the lexicon. he will tell you that it will take a while to decode once you reach level 15 the quest should open back up, then you can just go back to those dwemmer ruins and get the orc and falmer blood, and if i remember correctly there should be an altmer or bosmir body down there somewhere maybe both. Perhaps someone with a better memory could give us a run through of the best places to get the blood.


Go to the Bandits quest just slightly northwest of Whiterun and get the Transmute Mineral Spell, it lets you turn Iron into Silver and Silver into gold. Turn the Iron ore into gold ingots make a bunch of gold rings/necklaces it levels up your Smithing really fast also your restoration

Sneak behind one of the grey beards and hit him it can level your sneak up to 100 fast

Up by the graybeards go in the wind that damages you and use restoration to level it up fast

Fastest ways without Ohgma Infinium


The mod, SkyTweak, has a feature that will allow you to increase the experience rate you get (up to 2x) and could half the time it takes you to get to Level 15.

I've also compiled here, in an answer to another question, various Arqade questions that ask about how to quickly level up specific skills.

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