Increasing your character's eight attributes is an important part of character development. There are only a limited number of ways available however to increase attributes.
When creating your character, there are several decisions that directly affect your character's initial attribute values.
- Race and gender determine the starting values for each attribute.
- Several birthsigns provide attribute bonuses. Specifically:
- Two attributes are selected for +5 bonuses as part of your character's class.
The primary means of increasing attributes is by leveling up your character. Each time your character levels up, you get to select three attributes to have increased, by 1 to 5 points. Larger bonuses are possible if you have increased any of the three skills governed by that attribute during the turn. Thus, optimal attribute improvement is realized if you can select +5 attribute bonuses for your character's most important attributes every turn. Receiving +5 attribute bonuses is the primary goal of efficient leveling.
Note that the attribute bonus is controlled by the skill increases you obtain from the time you receive one "level up" notification to the time you receive the next "level up" notification. In other words, it is the number of skill increases that you obtain during the time it takes for your major skills to increase by a total of 10 points. It is not controlled by the number of skill levels you obtain before you sleep. Any skill increases you obtain after the level up message and before sleeping are applied to the next level, not your current level.
When you sleep you will be asked which three attributes to increase. If you can increase an attribute by more than one point, there will be a +2 to +5 next to that attribute on the screen. Attributes with no + next to them can still be selected, and will increase by 1 if selected.
The three skills governed by Agility are Marksman, Security, and Sneak. Of these three, Sneak is the easiest to artificially increase (it can even be done while you are not at the keyboard or controller). At the other extreme, Marksman can be particularly time-consuming (especially if Marksman is not your character's primary combat skill).
The three skills governed by Endurance are Armorer, Block, and Heavy Armor. The procedure for training Block and Heavy Armor is basically the same: get someone to attack you, after which you can train your Armorer skill by repairing your gear and (if possible) any damaged items that may be dropped by a defeated opponent. It is often easiest to train all three skills simultaneously, although if necessary it is possible to focus on just one of the three. (The Armorer page lists some Armorer training techniques that don't involve combat.)
The three skills governed by Intelligence are Alchemy, Conjuration, and Mysticism. All three can be trained fairly easily. Of the three, Mysticism is the slowest to train (3.0 experience points are gained per spell cast). Conjuration (6.0 experience points per spell cast) and Alchemy (5.0 experience points per potion created) are the two fastest skills to train in the game.
There are no skills governed by Luck, so you can only raise it by a maximum of 1 each level. Given the wide variety of things affected by it, one strategy is to devote 1 point to it every time you level, regardless of what other attribute bonuses you get.
The three skills governed by Personality are Illusion, Mercantile, and Speechcraft. Of these three Illusion is the easiest (and probably most useful) one to train. Mercantile on the other hand is the most time-consuming and difficult to train (it is arguably the most difficult skill to train in the entire game).
You may want to carefully consider when and how to increase your Personality score. Having a high Personality can actually be a hindrance for Namira's Daedric quest. It can also make it difficult to continue training Speechcraft because many NPCs will have their disposition to you maxed out. However, the fact that Personality increases your disposition score with everyone in the game means that a very high Personality score can have a profound impact on gameplay. If you can boost your Personality score to around 200 most wild animals will no longer attack you. Between 200 and 300 various hostile NPCs such as bandits and conjurers will become friendly. At levels of 300 and above guards will frequently pay off bounties themselves rather than arresting you for crimes. Since you are so popular those that do still attack you may find their own allies turning on them. You can get better prices from merchants, NPCs will more easily volunteer information, most opponents will accept a yield from you, and so forth.
The three skills governed by Speed are Acrobatics, Athletics, and Light Armor. Athletics and Acrobatics are two of the easier skills to increase, because you train them all the time just by moving around. This also means that it's difficult to prevent them increasing when you don't want them to (for those concerned with skill point management / efficient leveling). Light Armor is the only one for which training can be fully controlled (by choosing whether or not to wear light armor).
The three skills governed by Strength are Blade, Blunt, and Hand to Hand. All three are combat skills; because they are largely interchangeable, controlling training is relatively easy. Most players will choose to focus on one of the three, leaving training of the other two available for determining Strength bonuses. Of the three, Hand to Hand is somewhat easier to train (0.6 experience points are gained for each hit, compared to 0.5 for the other two), as well as having the highest rate of attack.
The three skills governed by Willpower are Alteration, Destruction, and Restoration. All three are spellcasting skills, and are straightforward to train (especially if you can create custom spells). Of the three, Alteration is the fastest to train (4 experience points per spell cast), Destruction is intermediate (1.2 experience points), and Restoration is the slowest (0.6 experience points).
- The Oghma Infinium allows you to choose two attributes for permanent +10 bonuses. The available choices are:
- Speed and Strength
- Agility and Speed
- Intelligence and Willpower (although a bug prevents the Willpower bonus from working)
- The Scales of Pitiless Justice directly alter your attributes whenever the scales are in your inventory.
- Strength, Agility, and Intelligence: +2
- Personality: -2
- Becoming a vampire boosts your Speed, Strength, and Willpower. At the final stage of Vampirism, you will get +20 increase in all three. Vampirism can therefore raise these three attributes to a maximum of 120.
- In the Knights of the Nine official add-on, completing the final quest provides access to eight blessings. Only one blessing can be enabled at a time, and each blessing is a +5 Fortify Attribute ability to a different attribute - however, a bug renders one of these blessings non-existent (what should be an Agility blessing is instead a duplicate Personality blessing).
- In the Shivering Isles expansion pack, the quest Addiction will require you to become addicted to an ingredient called Felldew for the duration of the quest. If you stop taking Felldew, you will suffer from withdrawal. At its most extreme level, Ruinous Felldew Withdrawal, you will be afflicted with: 10 points Drain Attribute to Endurance, Speed, and Willpower; 15 points Drain Attribute to Agility, Intelligence, Luck, and Strength; and 15 points Drain Health. The withdrawal is implemented as an ability, rather than a temporary effect. This prevents you from using Dispel or other effects to rid yourself of the withdrawal, but also implies that the base values of your attributes are altered. As a result, if you level up while suffering from Felldew addiction, you can increase any of these attributes; at the quest's conclusion when your attributes are restored, you will retain any additions made to your attributes. Therefore you can potentially increase your attributes above 100. After you drink from the Chalice of Reversal at the end of the quest, you can never again become addicted to Felldew. Note that you gain fewer health points when leveling with your Endurance drained, though you can take additional felldew before resting to avoid this problem.