There are 21 skills in Oblivion, each of which determines how well various tasks can be performed. As skills are used, they increase in level, which increases the character's overall level. Each skill is governed by an attribute, and each attribute governs three skills (except Luck). Skills are also dependent on both race and class, as they each confer certain bonuses to certain skills. Skills can also be increased by reading skill books, learning from trainers, or as a reward for completing certain quests. When you reach over level 70 in a particular skill, NPCs will begin to comment on that particular skill.
In the table below, specializations are represented by color: red for combat, yellow for stealth, and blue for magic.
|Strength||Blade||Blunt||Hand to Hand|
|Luck||Affects all skills (except Acrobatics and Athletics) a little bit|
Major and Minor Skills
The initial level of each skill is primarily determined by your character's class, in particular whether the skill is one of the seven major skills that determine when you level up, and whether the skill is in your class' specialization. In addition, each race provides several skill bonuses. For example, an Imperial has added bonuses towards Blade, Blunt, Hand to Hand, Heavy Armor, Mercantile and Speechcraft. If that Imperial is also under the Warrior class, four out of the six already boosted skills gain a further bonus.
All of the 21 skills take different means to increase. For example, hitting an NPC with a sword will increase your Blade skill. Likewise, using a sword to attack an NPC while sneaking undetected will increase both your Sneak and Blade skills. The page on increasing skills provides general information on how to practice skills in order to improve them, as well as a table that lists the exact number of actions required to increase each skill. Also, each skill page discusses specific strategies for how to practice that skill.
After improving any combination of major skills by a total of 10 points, your character will now qualify for a level advancement. Note that how many minor skills you have increased during this time does not influence when you level. In order to increase your skills, there are many trainers that can help level up a skill for a maximum of five times per character level. Unused training sessions do not carry over to the next level. There are also several skill books in-game that increase your skills. For information on how to gain free skill boosts, see this page.
|Skill Points||Mastery Levels|
|0 - 24||Novice level|
|25 - 49||Apprentice level|
|50 - 74||Journeyman level|
|75 - 99||Expert level|
Each of the 21 skills have five different mastery levels. Reaching each of these skill levels provides skill perks, which are detailed on their respective pages. These perks generally make the skill substantially more useful. For example, with the Armorer skill at an apprentice level, repair hammers last twice as long compared to that of a novice, however you are still unable to repair magic items. At journeyman though, you now are able to repair magic items. As your overall skill mastery increases, so do the skill perks associated with that skill.
Some magical effects can increase your skill above 100, but in general increases above 100 have no real effect. The only exceptions are Acrobatics and Athletics, which will continue to increase your character's jump height and run speed respectively, up to a maximum value of 255.
Magical Effects on Skills
Skills may be temporarily decreased by Drain Skill spells or scrolls. Skills can also be boosted above their base values by Fortify Skill effects, although Fortify Skill effects are relatively hard to find. Absorb Skill spells provide a combination of Drain Skill against the target, and Fortify Skill on the caster. However, unlike all other statistics, there are no Damage Skill or Restore Skill effects available in the game.
Skills that are raised by either Fortify Skill spells or magic effects from items in general do not gain their respective perks. For example, if you have an Armorer skill of 45, you cannot normally repair magic weapons and armor. Cast a Fortify Armorer Skill of +10 for a 55 total skill and you still cannot make those repairs even though your skill level reflects that you should be able to do so. Likewise, fortifying your Destruction skill to 75+ from a lower rank will not allow you to cast spells that require a skill of 75 to cast. The same is true of wearing items that boost those skills. There are exceptions however, as described on the Fortify Skill page. Even if you do not gain any perks, fortifying skills is not a waste of time. Fortifying sneak and combat skills does help you with hiding and attack damage respectively. Fortifying any spell casting skill (Alteration, Destruction, etc.) will end up lowering the casting cost of the spells you can cast even though you still don't gain access to spells that you were previously unable to cast. For example, fortifying your Alteration skill from 60 to 75 will lower the casting costs of all of your Alteration spells but will not give you access to cast Open Hard Lock, as that requires a level of 75 or higher in Alteration in order to be able to cast.
More information on the features common to the six magic skills can be found at Magic Overview.
- The level of each skill can range from 0 to 100. (Values as low as zero will only occur if your skill is drained; starting values of skills range from 5 to 40). In addition to providing skill perks (detailed next), your skill level determines your competency at performing the associated skill.
- Skills can be permanently damaged by spending time in Jail.
- The level of all skills (except Acrobatics and Athletics) is modified by your Luck attribute. See Luck for details.
- Some magical effects can increase your skill level above 100, but general increases above 100 have no real effect. The only exceptions are Acrobatics and Athletics, which will continue to increase your character's jump height and run speed respectively (up to a maximum value of 255).