One-handed governs your effectiveness when using one-handed weapons, including daggers, swords, maces, and war axes. With the addition of dual-wielding, one-handed weapons can be put in both hands in any combination. The higher your skill in One-handed, the more damage is done with one-handed weapons. The One-handed skill tree has a total of 10 perks, requiring a total of 21 perk points to fill. Each skill point grants a +0.5% bonus to the damage dealt with one-handed weapons (+2% for NPCs). This bonus stacks with the ones provided by the Armsman perk and by Smithing-related improvements.
In-game Description: The art of combat using one-handed weapons such as daggers, swords, maces, and war axes. Those trained in this skill deliver deadlier blows.
|Perk||Rank||Description||ID||Skill Req.||Perk Req.|
|Armsman||1||One-Handed weapons do 20% more damage.||000babe4|
|2||One-Handed weapons do 40% more damage.||00079343||20 One-handed|
|3||One-Handed weapons do 60% more damage.||00079342||40 One-handed|
|4||One-Handed weapons do 80% more damage.||00079344||60 One-handed|
|5||One-Handed weapons do twice as much damage.||00079345||80 One-handed|
|Bladesman||1||Attacks with swords have a 10% chance of doing critical damage (+0% crit damage)*.||0005f56f||30 One-handed||Armsman|
|2||Attacks with swords have a 15% chance of doing more critical damage (+25% crit damage)*.||000c1e90||60 One-handed|
|3||Attacks with swords have a 20% chance of doing even more critical damage (+50% crit damage)*.||000c1e91||90 One-handed|
|Bone Breaker||1||Attacks with maces ignore 25% of armor.||0005f592||30 One-handed||Armsman|
|2||Attacks with maces ignore 50% of armor.||000c1e92||60 One-handed|
|3||Attacks with maces ignore 75% of armor.||000c1e93||90 One-handed|
|Dual Flurry||1||Dual wielding attacks are 20% faster.**||00106256||30 One-handed||Armsman|
|2||Dual wielding attacks are 35% faster.**||00106257||50 One-handed|
|Dual Savagery||Dual wielding power attacks do 50% bonus damage.**||00106258||70 One-handed||Dual Flurry|
|Fighting Stance||Power attacks with one-handed weapons cost 25% less stamina.||00052d50||20 One-handed||Armsman|
|Critical Charge||Can do a one-handed power attack while sprinting that does double critical damage.||000cb406||50 One-handed||Fighting Stance|
|Savage Strike||Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage with a chance to decapitate your enemies.||0003af81||50 One-handed||Fighting Stance|
|Paralyzing Strike||Backwards power attack has a 25%*** chance to paralyze the target.||0003afa6||100 One-handed||Critical Charge or Savage Strike|
|Hack and Slash||1||Attacks with war axes cause extra bleeding damage.||0003fffa||30 One-handed||Armsman|
|2||Attacks with war axes cause more bleeding damage.||000c3678||60 One-handed|
|3||Attacks with war axes cause even more bleeding damage.||000c3679||90 One-handed|
* The bonus damage is calculated using the base damage of the weapon.
** These effects also apply to single-handed attacks as long as a one-handed weapon is equipped in each hand.
*** Paralyzing Strike's effect is affected by Alteration-modifiers, such as the Stability perk. It also has a chance to activate of 26%.
- This bug is fixed by version 2.0.5 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.
Approximate weapon characteristics are given in the following table:
|Weapon type||Relative damage||Speed||Reach||Stagger|
"Speed" determines the frequency of attacks, in number of attacks that can be performed per second. "Reach" determines how far away an opponent can be and still be hit by the weapon. "Stagger" multiplies your base Staggering chance by this amount.
It should be noted that the overall weapon damage balance is only kept when the weapons are not upgraded or enchanted. As soon as you start smithing or enchanting your weapons, the damage shifts more and more in favor of the faster swinging weapons—especially daggers. For example, a Legendary Iron Dagger has damage per second of 18.2—20% higher than a Dragonbone Sword, and as it swings 30% faster it would also apply enchantments 30% faster. However, daggers have no stagger value and shorter reach; as such, swords are usually preferred. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that heavier weapons consume more stamina for power attacks, and axes/maces are heavier than daggers/swords.
After performing a power attack, the next two regular attacks will be faster than usual. This is a mechanic (bug?) unique to one-handed weapons. This trick can be chained (power attack, two regular attacks, power attack, etc.).
The Dual Flurry perk also works on regular attacks. As long as you hold a weapon in your off-hand your main hand will swing 20%/35% faster, even if you don't use your off-hand at all.
- This perk occasionally stops working. Changing weapons, power attacking, and reloading may fix it. Changing anything you wear, like on a hotkey, is a quick way to fix this mid-fight (You only have to change once, but you by taking off/on in quick succession you can fix this without really effecting combat).
- While the perk is active, switching from dual-wielding to a two-handed weapon or bow will transfer the speed benefit to those weapons.
The Bladesman perk works off of the base damage of the weapon, which is a fraction of your total damage at high levels. For example, using a Legendary Daedric sword with 100 One-handed skill and 5/5 Armsman perk levels, you will deliver 72 damage per hit. However, base damage for a Daedric Sword is only 14; so with 3/3 Bladesman perk levels, you would have a 20% chance to cause an additional 10.5 points of damage, resulting in an average increase of 2.1(~3%) damage per attack.
|Steel, Imperial, Ancient Nord||0.8||1.5||3|
|Dwarven, Falmer, Nordic**||1||1.9||3.8|
|Elven, Honed Ancient Nord||1.1||2.1||4.2|
|Glass, Honed Falmer||1.2||2.3||4.5|
The Bone Breaker perk has nothing to apply to most of the time. For example, the Dremora Lord - one of the most heavily armored NPCs in Skyrim - has a total Armor Rating of 193, giving it a damage reduction of around 35%. Level 3 Bone Breaker would reduce it to around 18%, or in other words: increase the damage you do from 65% to 82%. It is useful to note however, that the relative damage gained when moving from 65% to 82% effective damage is actually more than the face value of a 17% increase due to that figure being contextual to the base damage of a strike against an unarmored opponent, and not contextual to the actual end damage done by each strike. If a base damage strike of 100 is diminished to 65 by armor rating, and raised to 82 with the presence of Bone Breaker, the contextual damage increase actually exceeds 26%(82/65), and is therefore quite useful against heavily armored opponents, as rare as they may be. Most other enemies, like Bandits or Falmer however, will not even have half of a Dremora Lord's Armor Rating, and many more, like all animals, Dwarven constructs, and Dragons have no Armor Rating at all.
The most notable aspect of Bone Breaker is the fact it is multiplicative, unlike the other two perks, which are constant. A Daedric Sword dealing 100 damage per strike will only gain ~5% bonus damage per strike on average from Armsman, compared to Bone Breaker, which offers between 15 and 30% bonus against any armored opponent.
Hack and Slash
Hack and Slash causes extra damage over a given period of time based on the material of the war axe used. It's stackable and ignores armor. Things that don't bleed, however, such as undead and Dwemer constructs, are immune to the effect.
|Steel, Imperial, Ancient Nord||1||3||3||1.7||3||5.1||2.3||3||6.9|
|Dwarven, Falmer, Nordic**||1.2||4||4.8||1.75||4||7||2||4||8|
|Elven, Honed Ancient Nord||1.5†||4||6||2||4||8||2.5||4||10|
|Glass, Honed Falmer||2||4||8||2.5||4||10||3||4||12|
Of these three skills, which is the best? This is determined largely by the enemy being faced; Bone Breaker, for example, is useless against animals or dragons, which generally have no armor, while bleed damage is useless against enemies that do not bleed. What about cases where none of these factors are present, like against a steel-armored Bandit Thug?
The simplest comparison is between Axes and Swords. With level 3 bladesman, swords do a bonus 3/8ths of base damage per hit, on average. A Daedric Sword, for example, will do a bonus 6.75 damage per attack, on average. A Daedric Axe, by contrast, will do a bonus *18* bleed damage per attack. Of course, since neither of these scale with skill level or smithing, neither is particularly significant part of total DPS. A Daedric weapon can eventually do 300+ damage per blow, reducing either bonus to insignificance.
It is at this stage that Bone Breaker takes the fore. While no NPC has particularly notable armor values, a fully-armored high-level opponent can still have their durability increased fairly significantly. Ignoring this can increase damage to these enemies by much more significant amounts, since this value is multiplicative, rather than additive.
Ultimately, weapon speed is far more important than any of these three perks. Because blacksmith upgrades increase damage by the same amount regardless of weapon type, damage differences between weapon types are gradually minimized, and eventually the difference between weapon types is reduced to >5%. At this stage, being able to hit faster with swords will almost always be more important than being able to cause bleeding or ignore armor. Eventually, skipping these perks entirely is probably the best choice.
* The duration of level 3 Hack and Slash for Orcish axes is erroneously twice that of first two levels. (details)
** Nordic and Stalhrim axes are not included in the list for this perk
- This bug is fixed by version 2.0.3 of the Unofficial Dragonborn Patch.
† Level 1 Hack and Slash will not work for Elven or Honed Ancient Nord axes because it requires that the axe be both Elven and Honed Ancient Nord at the same time.
‡ Dragonbone axes benefit from this perk with only Dawnguard installed. The Dragonborn add-on makes alterations to the perks that remove the axe from the list.
One-handed Fighting Styles
The following races have an initial skill bonus to One-handed:
- Amren of Whiterun (Common)
- Athis of the Companions in Whiterun (Expert)
- Chief Burguk in Dushnikh Yal (Master)
- 2920, Morning Star, v1
- Fire and Darkness
- The Importance of Where
- Mace Etiquette
- Night Falls on Sentinel
- +1 One-handed (as well as Block) from Amren (Whiterun) for finding his family sword.
- +1 One-handed (as well as Block) from the Ghost of Old Hroldan (Old Hroldan Inn) for completing the quest The Ghost of Old Hroldan.
- +1 One-handed (and other combat skills) from Giraud Gemane (Bards College) for completing the quest Rjorn's Drum.
- +1 One-handed (and Block, Heavy Armor, and Archery) from Wulf Wild-BloodDB for finding his brother during Filial BondsDB.
- +5 One-handed (and to all other combat skills) by selecting "The Path of Might" from the Oghma Infinium after completing the quest Discerning the Transmundane.
Gaining Skill XP
- Weapon skill gains are based on base weapon damage dealt against valid targets (those whose health can be damaged). You can increase your skill level fastest by choosing a one-handed weapon that causes the most base damage in a given time period.
- Boosting One-handed damage via skill perks or equipment enchantments does not result in more XP per strike, nor does improving your weapons at a grindstone.
- You can exploit certain targets for training combat skills, because they are essential, and therefore cannot normally die; because they are expendable; or because they have high health or can regenerate health. They are not normally "enemies". They include: Shadowmere, Hadvar or Ralof during Unbound, creatures you have conjured, Paarthurnax (before starting his quest), and M'aiq the Liar.
- If you have the Dawnguard Add-on installed, wielding a Dragonbone dagger in the left hand and a Dragonbone Mace in the right hand and performing a dual-wield, simultaneous, non-power attack (tapping both attack buttons simultaneously) with them will net the most experience for a given enemy. Be sure to equip the dagger in your left hand, as the off-hand weapon dictates the striking speed of this attack. Combining this with the Dual Flurry perks will further enhance the XP per second, while adding the increased attack speed of the Elemental Fury shout will garner the highest XP per second possible.
- One-handed power attacks will not increase the XP per blow since XP is earned based on weapon damage, not the extra damage done from the power attack.
- Blade and Blunt skills from Oblivion no longer exist. Melee skill has instead been divided between One-handed and Two-handed.
- If your only weapon is in the left hand (off-hand), finishing move animations will not appear.
- You can combine Critical Charge with the Silent Roll perk for a more powerful sneak attack.
- Dual Flurry can benefit from Necromage; x1.35 is incremented by 25% (multiplied by 1.25) to 1.6875. You must be a vampire and have Necromage before taking Dual Flurry to benefit. The enhanced speed bonus will remain even after being cured.
- Critical Charge and dual-wielding can be done with either the left hand or the right one, but not both at the same time; attempting to do so while sprinting will simply have you stopping and attacking in place.
- Equipping a dagger in your main-hand and another one-handed weapon in your off-hand, then changing what you are wearing in your armor/clothing slot will cause both of the equipped weapons to appear on your hip, when normally just the main-hand weapon appears. Unequipping the off-hand weapon will not remove it from your hip, but subsequently changing clothes or armor will.
Edit by wolv: *tested on old gen Legendary* found an alternative with a drainheart sword in right hand and deadric sword in left (wearing full deadric set and unequip/reequipping chest piece) the right hand visually becomes a deadric sword with some visual effects from the drainheart. If the deadric has an enchantment the effect is white in color on the fake.