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Daggerfall Skills and Levelling

15 February 2011

The skill system is the very heart of the very well designed character creation system of the game. This page will help you understand how to make the best of increasing skills and gaining levels.

Mastering a Skill - 13 March 1999
Comments on the rare 'Master of Skill' message which appears from time to time.
Guild Skills - 17 February 1999
Lists which guild where one can train any of the skills.
Practicing Spells - 7 February 1999
Tips on getting the most while practicing spells using a borderline cheating method.
Maximizing Leveling Gains - 25 October 1998
How one can get the most bonus and hit-points during levels.
Increasing Skill Methods - 7 March 1997
A variety of good (mostly legal but sneaky) methods to increase ones skills to the allowed maximum.
Leveling Equation - 11 February 1997
Exactly how DAGGERFALL calculates levels and skills.
Cheapest Spells - 13 November 1996
A list of spells in each spell school which make great practice spells.
Training - October 1996
Suggestions on how to get the most from training sessions plus general training tips.
Leveling Suggestions - Old
Many good tips on how to practice skills so leveling occurs more frequently.

Mastering a Skill - 13 March 1999

Whilst i was playing the game today i got a message up on the screen that said: Congratulations, Jardel Kerethrion, you are now a Master of Long Blade, one of the finest practitioners of Long Blade in Tamriel. Then there was a trumpet fanfare!! This happened after i'd 'fast travelled' from a dungeon that i'd been hacking about in and came up on the screen as i entered a town. My character is a level 27 Redguard with no magic points at all (i prefer cold hard steel to pointy hatted sparkly stuff), and once id reached 100% on my long blade i boosted it up to 130% with magic items made in the item maker.

Although one would expect to become a master in the first skill that reaches 100%, this is not always the case. I've reached 100% in several skills, several times, but have only encountered the "Master of Skill" thing once.

Original Text Written by Paul Ward -

Maximizing Leveling Points - 25 October 1998

Anytime you rest, save your game first, then rest, if you gain a level, and you did not get 6 bonus points to distribute, and your MAXIMUM HP/level, reload your game and rest again. You only get these bonuses once each level, don't you deserve the maximum out of your character?!?

Original Text Written by Reaper -

Leveling Equation - 11 February 1997

Leveling is a bit complicated. Goes something like this:

      (A - B + 28)/15 = level.

 	where  A = All Primary Skills + 
	           The 2 Best Major Skills + 
 		   Single Best Minor
	       B = the starting value of these same skills.

What this means is that you must raise the total of these various skills 15 points in order to get a level increase. Any combination of raises in these areas will do as long as they total 15 points. Only the highest minor skill counts and miscellaneous skills do not count at all. The exception to this is level two when you only need two points to go from level one to level two. (A gift from Bethesda!) The raise occurs (as far as I can tell) after resting (when the program apparently looks at the counters and does its' thing).

Skill raises are a bit different. The program keeps track of how often you use a skill and increments a counter for each use (successful use, I believe, but am not sure). Once the counter reaches a predetermined number (10, I believe, although this may vary upward as you get better and it also depends on your level increase difficulty, the 'arrow' in character creation) it awards you a skill increase. Training results in incrementing this counter a random number (between 10 and 20 I believe) and thus usually gives you a skill increase of 1 each time you train. I believe that it is possible to get a skill increase of 2 after training if the counter is high enough when you receive training and the random number generated by the training is high enough to increment the counter to something over 20. After each increase in skill level the counter resets to zero and the process starts over. Once you reach 50% in a skill, you can no longer receive training and must increase your skill through use or magical means.

Leveling Suggestions - Old

Some people find leveling difficult since the system used in Daggerfall is not the traditional experience based system, but a skill based one.

  1. Practice everywhere. Try and make everything you do practice one skill or another. i.e., always run in towns, sneak in dungeons, climb over city walls, use up all spell points casting spells before resting.
  2. Take advantage of training skills in guilds. Each train has the affect of 15 or so uses of a skill and can increase skills up to 50%. The cost of training is 100 * level so it is better to train at lower levels.
  3. Create practice spells. If you have access to the spell creator, create some low cost custom spells to practice spell groups. Casting a 5 spell point heal spell is the same as casting a 55 spell point heal according to skill improvement.

More Leveling Suggestions
You missed the best training tip. If you've got a wad of cash and want to take full advantage of training (especially if you started with low magic skills) you need to combine a few of the hints you gave as follows:

  1. Create a training spell (minimum cost custom spell) in an area you want to learn.
  2. Find a Guild near a tavern (Grimfort has a mages guild 1 house away from a tavern).
  3. Train in one area at the Guild. Since you can only train once a day go to tavern.
  4. Cast your training spell over and over until you use up all of your spell points.
  5. Rest until fully healed.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 (hey you've got 24 hours to kill) until it is time to go the the Guild again (ie the date has changed and they are open again).
  7. Go to step 2 and repeat as long as you can afford it (or till you get bored).
Using this method you can quickly increase two different skills quickly. It works best at lower levels when training is cheap. I know its slow and boring but it works. It is especially good for lockpick and magic skills which are almost useless at low levels. Also I find it best to visit the Mages Guild after dark as there are no citizens wandering about to slow down your computer.

Final Note: If practicing Destruction magic try not to hit the innkeeper.

Original Text Written by Scott Correia -

Practicing Spells - 7 February 1999

First, make a spell for each school that uses the least amount of magika. Be sure to set target to greater than caster only or else this will not work. Good ones seem to be Silence - Mystic; Heal Attribute - Restoration; Light - Illusion; Pacify - Tham.; and Cause Damage - Destruction. You can also use the "$spell- name" trick to get 1/4 casting cost. The point is you want to be able to do this each time you rest, even if you only have about 20-30 sp left. Then cast the spell. The screen will ask you to click screen to cast. Instead push e or whatever to cancel the spell. You get the sp back, but it still counts as spell practice. Think of it as playing with the magic energies, meditating and becoming in tune with the forces involved. Or not, just hike them with DF-EDIT. One problem, I cannot get this to work with alteration magics. I've tried Free Action, Paralysis, and Elemental Resistance. None of them raise Alteration skill with this method. Also, sorry you can't make a spell to practice three of the schools at one time. I tried to save myself some time, but it didn't work. I wonder if you get any practice if you use them normally?

I use a similar method to improve my spell casting skills at times as although I have spells I don't use them too frequently and as such they rarely improve. I use jumping for practicing alteration, heal fatigue/health for restoration and open for mystical (the only spell groups I have). I have created a custom spell with minimal spell point cost for each of these. After some time I was capable of creating a spell with multiple components to practice several times at once. For example, one of my practice spells is

	Heal Health (1 + 1/level)
	Heal Fatigue (1 + 1/level)
	Jump (1 + 3/level)'
At level 18 and relatively high spell skills this costs only 6 spell points and it practices restoration twice and alteration once (I've checked). I also have a practice restoration spell
	Heal Health (1 + 1/level)
	Heal Health (1 + 1/level)
	Heal Fatigue (1 + 1/level)
Not only is a useful practice spell but a very useful spell at my level for healing damage and fatigue in battle at minimal cost.

If you develop spells with low levels (ie 1 - 2 points heal + 1 - 2 points per level) and triple this in the spell it costs less to cast than if you define 3 - 6 points heal + 3 - 6 points per level. Also it gives you three hits in leveling each cast. Spells like water breathing, walking, and light seem to be additive with multiple castings (ie a 1 round + 1 per level cast three times seems to hang around as if it were 3 round + 3 per level) this does not seem to be true for resist, absorb and reflect spells.

The $ and ! tricks do not work in version 1.7.213. You *can* mix spell schools. Pick Spell Absorbtion as an ability (or just do the Mage Guild quests that involve guarding the tranced mage or picking up scholarly work until you can make/buy an Spell Absorbtion item), then go to the Spell Maker. Pick Area at Range, then make a Damage Fatigue effect, and then add either Heal Fatigue, Light, Water Breathing, Water Walking, or Silence. It may take most/all of your mana to cast it, but if you stand near a wall, facing the wall, and cast one of the three spells (it'll take 3 such spells to cover all the schools, with much overlap in Destruction - poor baby, is your Ultimate Annihilation Sphere the cheapest spell you have to cast? so sad...) at the wall. You get practice in 3 spell schools, and all your mana back.

Does this work on .213? I just re-installed the game two days ago after a long absence (college and all), and, since then, I've built a character from 1st to 30th or so level. Yay me, with 95-100% in all schools.

PS - If you arrange your abilities right, since the game checks your primaries, then the 2 best majors, and the one best minor, your 6 dominant level-guiding abilities can just so happen to be the six schools. And if you take Spell Absorbtion, you can take critical weakness to Magicka, Fire, Frost, Shock, and maybe even Poison, and then take Regeneration General and Immunity to Paralysis in addition to Spell Absorbtion, and be nigh-invulnerable. "I am mighty!"

When creating own spells, create two spells, consisting of three other each, representing 6 schools of magic. Make them 'area at range'. When done, choose the nearest wall and fire the spell against it. The spell will be cast and reflected, the absorbed, so there'll be no mana lost. You can do this as much as you want, but 20-30 times should be enough. Then loiter about 3 hours and do it again. You can gain the 10th level by 25 minutes of playing. There's only one thing: some schools of magic do not go together, i.e. you cannot put them into one spell. The right combination is:

  1. Damage, Jumping, Light.
  2. Heal, Silence, Waterwalking.

Original Text Written by Gary -,
Andrej Kelemen -,
and Matthew O. Avent -

Making the Most of Training - October 1996

The amount you pay for training is purely dependant on your level. So while you are a low-level character, spend some time at a Fighters Guild, training in all your non level-critical skills. Its not cheating, just careful training. Basically it makes for a good all-round character before you specialise.

The Fighter trainer requires you sleep for 8 hours before coming back for more. However, there is an occasional bug where you can sleep on your feet, and wake up still facing the trainer. This makes it a cinch to rocket up your miscellaneous skills. Great when it works :)

When you get a mage guild quest that requires a trip somewhere else, visit the guild trainer before leaving. This way you gain the skill while travelling to your destination rather than having to rest up in an inn.

Original Text Written by Richard Kempton -

Train at the guild. Loiter 9 hours. Then you're able to train again. Do this until you're out of stamina. Then cast all your heal stamina spells. Then continue training and loitering. This way you're able to train many times without even leaving the guild. In the fighters guild you can sleep for nine hours in stead of loitering 3 times 3 hours which makes it even easier.

Original Text Written by Tobias Flatin -

Cheapest Spells to Make - November 1996

The following is a list of the cheapest spells to create in each spell school, using the $spellname cheat to reduce the casting cost by 1/4. Please note that the spell's cost may vary depending on the character's level and his/her proficiency in each of the spell schools. The only spell in this list which requires a target is the Destruction spell.

Cost School Spell
1 Thaumaturgy Water Walking
1 Alteration Water Breathing (tie)
1 Alteration Jumping (tie)
1 Restoration Free Action
2 Illusion Light
5 Mysticism Open
? Destruction Minimal Damage Health Spell

Original Text Written by D.C.M. -

Increasing Skill Methods - 7 March 1997

You want to get 100 points in everything? Well, under the game's normal progression, you will eventually get there, but it will take a long time. Here are some pointers.

Train and practice as much as you can. Everytime you get a guild quest, use the trainer before you leave. Do this when you're at low level so the cost (100*level) is less. Jump around town. Use up all your spell points before you rest. Don't go thru the city's gates, climb the wall. Climb houses too. Run around town, don't use the horse. Go to a province you know you'll never return to and just run around town picking everyone's pockets. Sneak around dungeons. Run around the town at night and try to pick the locks of every door you see. Try speaking to monsters (you'll have to sheathe your weapon) whose language you can study. Sell items one at a time to a shopkeeper to increase the mercantile skill. Go swimming for awhile, just don't run out of air! Etc, etc. As the manual says, you can only get better in stuff you constantly use. I used this method for my first four characters.

Then there are ways to kinda cheat. Combine several weak spells from each area of study in the spell maker and keep casting/resting. Go void ranging and pick all the monsters off with your bow to increase the archery skill. Stand still when fighting weak monsters like rats to give your dodging skill a boost. Pick monsters pockets. Cast levitate move forward and hold run and jump down when you're in a house with a low ceiling. While swimming, save the game just before you run out of air and then restore the same save; you'll have a new supply of air and can keep working on the skill! Talk to anyone that can repair items and just hit the repair button; it'll say zero gold hit OK and repeat the process for your mercantile skill to go up. There are others yet to be found. Some would say that this is outright cheating. I say that if the game lets you do it, then it ain't cheating! I used this with my fifth and possibly sixth characters because I got tired of starting over with a fresh character when the main quests got screwed up.

Go to any Daggerfall web page that has a file library and pick up DF-edit. It's a utility that allows you to change all your skills to whatever you want them to be. The only time I personally use it is to avoid starting the game over from level 1 due to Bethesda's negligence. I bump all my stats to what they were before the game crashed/halted/screwed up/cheated/boned me/etc. Then I only have to start the main quests over from the beginning. Beware. The game is no fun if you give yourself 100 in everything without earning it. Do yourself the favor and let your character develop the same way you would in real life; with hard work and patience!

Original Text Written by Mirko Fernandez -

Guild Training Skills - 17 February 1999

The following is a list of all the skills along with which guild you can practice them in.

Skill Guilds Where Skill can be Trained
Alteration Mage, Akatosh, Julianos
Archery Fighters, Kynareth, Mara, Akatosh, Dark Brotherhood
Axe Stendarr Fighters, Arkay
Backstabbing Arkay, Thief, Dark Brotherhood
Blunt Weapon Fighters, Stendarr, Thief, Zen
Centaurian Zen
Climbing Kynareth, Arkay, Thief, Dark Brotherhood
Critical Strike Stendarr, Fighters, Mara, Arkay, Dark Brotherhood, Julianos
Daedric Dibella, Mage, Kynareth, Stendarr, Akatosh, Mara, Dark Brotherhood, Zen, Julianos
Destruction Kynareth, Mage, Akatosh, Arkay, Dark Brotherhood
Dodging Kynareth, Stendarr, Thief, Dark Brotherhood
Dragonish Akatosh, Mage, Kynareth
Etiquette Dibella, Mara, Zen
Giantish Fighters, Zen
Hand to Hand None?
Harpy Dibella, Mage, Mara, Kynareth, Zen
Illusion Kynareth, Mage, Dibella, Mara
Impish Mage, Julianos
Jumping Fighters, Thief
Lockpicking Dibella, Thief, Julianos
Longblade Dibella, Akatosh, Fighters
Medical Arkay, Mara, Stendarr
Mercantile Zen, Julianos
Mysticism Mage, Julianos
Nymph Dibella, Mara
Orcish Stendarr, Dibella, Fighters, Mage, Zen
Pickpocket Thief, Zen
Restoration Dibella, Mage, Stendarr, Arkay, Mara
Running Akatosh, Fighters, Kynareth, Dark Brotherhood
Short Blade Fighters, Arkay, Thief, Dark Brotherhood, Julianos
Spriggan Stendarr, Mage, Zen
Stealth Kynareth, Akatosh, Thief, Dark Brotherhood
Streetwise Dibella, Mara, Thief, Dark Brotherhood, Zen
Swimming Fighters, Akatosh, Thief, Dark Brotherhood
Thaumaturgy Mage, Zen, Julianos

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