Spending points on certain skills in the beginning can help you in your early game, but later on on you might wish you spent more points in other areas.

Since Skyrim has no reset skills button(that I know of), it makes sense to have a good skill build from the beginning that would make for a good balance for early/mid/late game. I don't want to start fully one-handed or two-handed and then regret I have no points to invest in magic. Any suggestions?

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  • If you are playing on PC and don't mind adding a "Respec" feature with the console, you can do that -> this way – Adanion Jan 26 '12 at 16:35
  • Well that seems ok but as I have stated this is more like a skill build guide so that I can prevent the need of using a "respec" feature. – Fofole Jan 26 '12 at 16:38

I was once feeling just like you feel. There seem to be so many choices and with 250 perks and a max of 80 perk points you will always feel like you are missing out on something. So, this is just a list of pointers to try and make you feel more comfortable because at the end of the day, you will find you have more than enough perk points as you can not cast a spell, shoot a bow and backstab all at once, you will generally be finding yourself doing one of those most of the time.

  • Gear and Crafting Perks
    • The best armor and weapons in the game are player crafted.
    • Any suit of armor, light or heavy (not robes) can be crafted up to the effective armor cap of 567 granting 80% damage reduction (Yes, even hide armor if you are patient enough).
    • The best weapons are Deadric, but glass is fairly close behind them. If you want the best weapons but are using light armor, you will want to go up the Heavy armor side of the tree as this will grant you access to daedric weapons but also dragon armor, the best base defense light armor in the game.
    • Armor perks are almost a waste Unless you are trying to cap out armors like Hide or Iron. For instance, my first attempt at making a very nice suit of Dragonscale armor left me with a suit that had 1157 armor rating, almost 600 over the cap. This caused me to restart my character and ignore armor perks this time around completely (makes it a bit more challenging until you get a nice suit of armor. I suggest joining the Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood to get their suits as it is fairly quick/easy to do).
  • Useful skill trees, that if you are going to be using them, where almost all the perks are of use.
    • Destruction - Especially Impact, pretty much all the skills here are worth it as you can not find one element that is equally effective against all enemies.
    • Archery - Just has some additional abilities that make you more effective at all ranges
    • Sneak - If you just want the initial damage then just go up the right side. If you are a stealth fighter however you will want both the left and the right sides of this branch.
    • Enchanting and Smithing - While you can do very well with just items you find in game, these skills are an excellent source of income as well as the best weapons and armor in the game that are also tailored specifically to your needs.
  • Partial Tree Suggestions
    • Alchemy - I go with the base perk and then up high enough to get the extra bonuses to potions and poisons but no higher. This will really give you the maximum effectiveness out of your potions (and worth, this is probably the easiest money maker just because of the number of merchants who will buy potions and the relatively low weight to carry them around).
    • Conjuration - At high levels your summons will already be permenant (These are the Thrall spells) so you will not be actively casting and recasting these spells. All you will need to do is be able to cast the spell when your summons die to bring them back.
    • Restoration - I just get the Novice ability here and have never had a problem using this to heal after a battle (or some times during but usually potions are much more useful). If you are going to be a magic type with out wanting to use robes, consider the Magic Regen perks as well, they are not too far down the tree.
    • Armor Skills - As mentioned, one point in the base skill is all you need to craft a suit of any type of armor to the effective armor level cap.
  • Useful skills with useless perks
    • Pick pocketing - I usually get this skill to 100 before any other, but the perks just do not add much to this besides novelty. The extra carrying capacity is worth noting but I tend to play high stamina characters (I can carry around 400 units regardless of character type)
    • Lock Picking - I pick everything but never put a point into this tree. If I get a key for a door that does not require it I usually stash the key, pick the door then get the key (as I like collecting them :))
    • Speech - I love raising the skill for the better bonuses but I can not justify a perk in this branch just to make selling things easier. At the end of the day its not worth a perk to stop me from fast traveling from town to town to town to sell off all that I have (And if you ever become interested in the thieves guild, you will not even have to travel that much!) NOTE: If you are playing a character that will not fast travel (I have one of these) A few points in Barter has made more effective use of the shops near by. However, once you start crafting things like Banish daggers, the price of them is enough to wipe out any merchant's reserves with just a single dagger.

So I hope that is enough generic information touching lightly or indepth on just about every skill. If you have any more specifics you want to know there is a lot of information on here about specific builds and usefulness of different perks and such.

EDIT: Below is a good comment worth putting into this answer in regards to the Dawnguard DLC.

With Dawnguard, you can now smith Dragonbone weapons. This makes speacializing in Light Armor and going up the left side of the Smithing tree a viable option, while still maintaining the ability to use the best weapons in the game. Dragonbone weapons have slightly higher base stats than Daedric, so the smithed ones should be correspondingly better too. I think the bullet point starting with "The best weapons are Deadric" should be removed from the answer. – rkagerer

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    @JuanManuel I read that as "I pick all the locks" rather than "I choose all the perks", since it's under "useless perks". – Yamikuronue Jan 26 '12 at 21:05
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    @Yamikuronue, I missed the title :) – juan Jan 26 '12 at 21:06
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    @JuanManuel I get no perks.. You will honestly just get used to opening locks at the different difficulties. Like Novice are always at 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 1:30 or 3:00. The other ones have more spots then can get to but you eventually get a feel for 'if I could move it at that spot that far, then move it that far at that spot then to open it its this spot'. I honestly think it makes lock picking more fun if you do not get perks into it. – James Jan 27 '12 at 4:51
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    The max is 80 perk points, not 81. Your maximum level is 81, but you start at level 1 with zero perk points. So, you only progress through 80 levels earning that many points. (FTFY) – Iszi Jan 29 '12 at 18:13
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    With Dawnguard, you can now smith Dragonbone weapons. This makes speacializing in Light Armor and going up the left side of the Smithing tree a viable option, while still maintaining the ability to use the best weapons in the game. Dragonbone weapons have slightly higher base stats than Daedric, so the smithed ones should be correspondingly better too. I think the bullet point starting with "The best weapons are Deadric" should be removed from the answer. – rkagerer Oct 16 '12 at 23:34

It sounds like the Skyrim Perk Calculator and Respec Tool is what you need. The respeccing part of it will only work on PC, of course, but the planning aspect of the tool should work just fine for consoles as well.

I generally do a quick once-over whenever I think about making a new character, and make sure I haven't spread myself to thinly to have a good experience by around level 50 or so.

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    Sweet, I just checked my current plan and I can get all the perks I want pretty easily and then some. Helps that I don't care about weapons or several schools of magic! Thanks for that tool. – Canageek Jan 27 '12 at 0:46
  • so vamp/werewolf trees don't have any perks or don't cost any? or is the tool just not updated? – Maslow Nov 18 '12 at 3:11

You can save perks for as long as you want, and those are the only things that you would ever want to "take back". Even if you decide to switch from weapons to magic, the skill raises you have in weapons won't hurt you in any significant way (they slightly affect monster scaling, but it won't be a problem). So if you're worried about late game, save your perks and only take ones that affect skills that you will use later on. In practice, the game is not so difficult that you're going to get stuck later on because you "misused" a few perks early in the game, you can level up again to get the perk you want.


Another thing to remember is that you can always turn down the difficulty to do more/take less damage.

Keeping that in mind, you should go for perks that have an actual advantage to them, such as moving faster with a drawn arrow, increasing speed of attack, slowing down time, smithing enhancements etc.

Just remember: you can always use more points, you can't always use less. Make sure you know what you want before you start spending points.

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