When you slap your Fire Spell of Choice on your Arch-Nemesis Mob of Choice in Skyrim the evildo-er (or rightous pr--k) takes a healthy dose of instant fire damage, and has a worthwhile DoT effect applied to him as well.

My question is, does your destruction skill increase from ONLY the initial damage, or does it continue to increase from the DoT damage too? I'm aware this is difficult to play-test, as DoT damage isn't particuarly large, but I'm hoping someone on the PC version of the game can find out through one of those handy dandy third party programs they have.

  • 8
    I don't think this is a duplicate. He's not asking how to increase the Destruction skill, but rather if the burning damage over time after the initial cast results in a continual skill gain... Assuming I read the question correctly.
    – Niro
    Mar 11, 2012 at 5:34
  • @Tristan you are correct.
    – Ender
    Mar 11, 2012 at 8:52

2 Answers 2


This is a difficult question to answer. This command doesn't show the destruction skill xp number.

GetActorValueInfo DestructionSkillAdvance

In order to determine the skill experience to level, I had to try/(reload after) this command:

advskill destruction 100

Where 100 is the amount of skill experience to gain.

I went Frost Giant tickling. The character had destruction skill 25, firebolt and lightning bolt. Through trial and reload I determined that

  1. The character needed 475-480 experience to level destruction to 26.
  2. It takes 12 firebolts to gain the needed experience (4 trials, same result each time).
  3. It takes 10 lightning bolts to gain the needed experience (4 trials, same result each time).

I only had the Novice And Apprentice perks (no damage increaser perks) for these tests.

Disclaimer, it is possible but unlikely that Frost Giants have a hidden fire resist that reduces damage done and therefore xp gained. (getactorvalueinfo electricresist seems to work on my character, but electricresist, fireresist and frostresist all show 0 for the giant). If frost giants resist fire, then the remainder of this post may be garbage.


Lightning bolts award more xp than fire bolts. This is most likely due to lightning bolt's higher magicka cost.

Lightning bolt's base cost is 51. 9 * 51 = 459 (not enough). 10 * 51 = 510 (level up).

Firebolt's base cost is 41. 11 * 41 = 451 (not enough). 12 * 41 = 492 (level up).

Ice spike's base cost is 48. (did not test)

If you have discounts to the point where you don't worry much about magicka costs... this makes lightning bolt a much better spell to be casting than fire bolt.

So to answer the question... Burn damage doesn't factor into skill gain. Consider a 30 hp critter. If you firebolt them for 25 and burn the remaining 5 hp, you're getting 41 xp (for 41 magicka before discounts). If you lightning bolt them for 25, and again for 25, you're getting 102 xp (for 102 magicka before discounts).

  • 2
    So doesn't this solidify what I've already said about this topic??? That it is in fact not the damage but the usage of the spells and attacks. Just curious...
    – Ravekner
    Mar 14, 2012 at 8:03
  • @Ravekner after your comment about how the stream spells are theoretically re-cast per second, your entire post and theory made much more sense, for that Ravekner, you get +1 but since david was actually able to provide scientific theory and proof behind his answer, his will be the one I accept.
    – Ender
    Mar 14, 2012 at 9:37
  • @Ender It kind of makes me sad that the simple logic of what I said wasn't enough. But whatever, have fun with your numbers.
    – Ravekner
    Mar 14, 2012 at 9:48

I would have to say no. It doesn't. Simply because the vast majority of spells and attacks are based off of how much you use them, not how much damage they do. Your one-handed doesn't go up faster because you got a new sword (that does more damage) and your Destruction doesn't go up faster because your using a new spell that does more damage. Skill gain is based on per use against hostiles(for spells and attacks that are supposed to do damage, obviously it would just be usage for spells like Night-eye and such) not damage dealt. For spells that can be continuously cast, the per use is represented by the mana cost per second(every second counts as the spell being cast a single time), it doesn't interrupt the spell, but it is still tracked by mana cost. Thus DoTs have no positive effect towards skill improvement. If it still doesn't make sense, think of it this way, drinking potions or applying poisons onto your weapons doesn't make you better at alchemy. Same logic.

  • sound theory, can you provide some kind of source?
    – Ender
    Mar 11, 2012 at 15:29
  • Just experience in every game of the elder scrolls series I've played, it's always been use-based not damage. Been that way since Morrowind.
    – Ravekner
    Mar 11, 2012 at 23:24
  • 1
    I'd say you need to take a look at your own reasoning, your still casting the spell, sure its a continuous stream, but its not the DoT that increases your skill growth, its the fact that your constantly using the spell. I'm not sure of the exact time for each spell's initial damage reset, I would guess at around 1 sec. BUT you are recasting the spell with every second you hold down that button. Actually, I'm positive of this now, those spells you listed have mana cost per second in the spell description. My answer still holds the same reasoning.
    – Ravekner
    Mar 13, 2012 at 14:35
  • 1
    @Kexlox - It could be that it is simply a higher level spell and, therefore, gives more experience for using it. My gut says damage doesn't have any direct link to exp.
    – user9983
    Mar 13, 2012 at 15:28
  • 1
    @AmyB how often would a wolf actually kill you if it hit you? as well as the fact that if you didnt block a giant would most likely one shot you, of course it goes up far faster against a giant, if you think about it, blocking can be explained in the same manner as spells that can be cast repetitively as a stream. Your fatigue can be gauged as the same as your mana, it "uses more" when you are hit by a far stronger enemy. Thus the experience gained from fighting a giant is based on the fact that your shield was "used" more during the fight.
    – Ravekner
    Mar 13, 2012 at 16:39

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