Illusion is one of the five schools of magic in Skyrim. Illusion magic focuses on changing the perception of the world from the viewpoint of the target. Increasing this skill reduces magicka cost when casting Illusion spells. Historical information about the School of Illusion is provided in the lore article. The Illusion skill tree has a total of 13 perks, requiring a total of 13 perk points to fill.
In-game Description: The School of Illusion involves manipulating the mind of the enemy. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Fear, Calm, and Invisibility.
Illusion contains a range of spells that play with your enemies' minds. While no Illusion spell does any direct damage, spells and perks in this school are a good supplement to Stealth-focused characters, and make stealthy play more viable for mages.
- Pacify spells cause the affected to lose the will to fight unless attacked first.
- Fear spells cause the affected to run away.
- Frenzy spells cause the affected to lose allegiance and attack anyone they see.
- Rally spells increase the stats of the affected and prevent them from fleeing.
- Muffle helps the caster to sneak around by reducing the noise made by walking.
- Invisibility removes the ability to be detected by sight, but unlike sneaking, wears off immediately if the caster touches something, casts a spell or uses a weapon.
For each effect type, the pattern of spells is consistent:
|Type||Targets||Duration||Spell Level||Target Level||Pacify||Fear||Frenzy||Rally|
|Missile||Single target||30 seconds||Novice||6||Fury||Courage (60 second duration)|
|Area Missile||Targets within 15' of impact||60 seconds||Adept||14||Frenzy||Rally|
|Wide Area||Targets within 250' of caster||60 seconds||Master||25||Harmony||Hysteria||Mayhem||Call to Arms (100' radius / 10 min. duration)|
Target Level does not apply to Rally effects. All missiles, area or not, are range 469 feet.
Illusion is a formidable tool against almost every enemy in Skyrim, dragons being a notable exception. It can be used on its own as a combat tool, but it is best used in conjunction with another skill to take on enemies.
The only effect that serves as a combat tool is Frenzy, which can be used to cause groups of enemies to decimate each other. Frenzy spells can also be useful for hunting deer and other fleeing animals, as they will turn and attack you instead of running away. Furthermore, casting a Frenzy spell on someone is not considered a crime if you are hidden when you cast it (regardless of whether or not you have the Quiet Casting perk). This can make some of the Dark Brotherhood contracts much easier.
You can simply avoid combat with Fear, or Pacify, the latter of which has the additional use of allowing you to converse and trade with otherwise hostile NPCs. Pacify spells may also allow you to set up additional sneak attacks if the first did not kill your opponent. Invisibility and Muffle can allow you to bypass enemies, even in full daylight, or setup sneak kills. Followers can be rallied to provide better protection at times too. Quiet Casting also affects use of the Thu'um, so you will be able to shout and stay undetected.
Drawbacks to the skill are that undead, Daedra, and dwarven automatons are unaffected by Illusion spells until the perk Master of the Mind is activated. Without the Quiet Casting perk, enemies will be able to hear the casting of the sneak-oriented spells Muffle and Invisibility, and may still be able to detect you.
|Perk||In-Game Description||Notes||ID||Skill Req.||Perk Req.|
|Novice Illusion||Cast Novice level Illusion spells for half magicka.||000f2ca9|
|Animage||Illusion spells now work on higher level animals††.||Adds +8† levels to the spell maximum.||000581e1||20 Illusion||Novice Illusion|
|Kindred Mage||All Illusion spells work on higher level people††.||Adds +10† levels to the spell maximum.||000581e2||40 Illusion||Animage|
|Quiet Casting||All spells you cast from any school of magic are silent to others.||All shouts are also silent.||000581fd||50 Illusion||Kindred Mage|
|Apprentice Illusion||Cast Apprentice level Illusion spells for half magicka.||000c44c3||25 Illusion||Novice Illusion|
|Adept Illusion||Cast Adept level Illusion spells for half magicka.||000c44c4||50 Illusion||Apprentice Illusion|
|Expert Illusion||Cast Expert level Illusion spells for half magicka.||000c44c5||75 Illusion||Adept Illusion|
|Master Illusion||Cast Master level Illusion spells for half magicka.||000c44c6||100 Illusion||Expert Illusion|
|Hypnotic Gaze||Calm spells now work on higher level opponents. Cumulative with Kindred Mage and Animage.||Adds +8 levels to the spell maximum. Applies to Pacify and Harmony as well as Calm.||00059b77||30 Illusion||Novice Illusion|
|Aspect of Terror||Fear spells work on higher level opponents. Cumulative with Kindred Mage and Animage.||Adds +10 levels to the spell maximum. This perk also gives an extra 10 (15 if both ranks of Augmented Flames are unlocked first) points of damage to fire spells, as they also utilize a fear effect.||00059b78||50 Illusion||Hypnotic Gaze|
|Rage||Frenzy spells work on higher level opponents. Cumulative with Kindred Mage and Animage.||Adds +12 levels to the spell maximum.||000c44b5||70 Illusion||Aspect of Terror|
|Master of the Mind||Illusion spells work on undead††, daedra, and automatons.||00059b76||90 Illusion||Quiet Casting or Rage|
|Illusion Dual Casting||Dual casting an Illusion spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version.||This slightly more than doubles the maximum level of any level-based Illusion spell, while it instead improves the duration of Courage, Rally, and Call to Arms. Level adjustments from Animage, Kindred Mage, Hypnotic Gaze, Aspect of Terror, or Rage are applied before the doubling effect (2.2 times the spell power for 2.8 times the magicka cost).||000153d0||20 Illusion||Novice Illusion|
||Magicka Base Cost||Skill XP||Description and Effect Details||Where to Get|
|50||25/s||0.25/s||Shows the path to the current goal:
|46||39||39||Target won't flee for 60 seconds and gets some extra health and stamina:|
|43||67||20||Creatures and people up to level 6 will attack anything nearby for 30 seconds:|
|91||146||36||Creatures and people up to level 9 won't fight for 30 seconds:
|80||153||38||Creatures and people up to level 9 flee from combat for 30 seconds:
|88||144||144||You move more quietly for 180 seconds:
|330||209||104/target||Creatures and people up to level 14 will attack anyone nearby for 60 seconds:|
|310||278||278||Targets up to level 20 that fail to resist are frenzied for 30 seconds:
|300||113||34/target||Targets won't flee for 60 seconds and get extra health and stamina:|
|625||334||83||Caster is invisible for 30 seconds. Activating an object or attacking will break the spell:
|610||290||72/target||Creatures and people up to level 20 won't fight for 60 seconds:
|653||316||79/target||Creatures and people up to level 20 flee from combat for 30 seconds:
|Call to Arms||100
|1150||655||65/target||Targets have improved combat skills, health and stamina for 10 minutes:|
|1220||1052||841/target||Creatures and people up to level 25 nearby won't fight for 60 seconds:
|1240||866||216/target||Creatures and people up to level 25 flee from combat for 60 seconds:
|1250||990||396/target||Creatures and people up to level 25 will attack anyone nearby for 60 seconds:|
|Vision of the Tenth Eye||N/A||N/A||0||0||See what others cannot.
Spell List Notes
- The base cost for spells is the amount of magicka that would be necessary to cast the spell at 0 skill without any perks. The magicka cost at 100 skill is 41% less than the base cost; the cost can also be reduced via enchanted apparel and by unlocking various perks. See Spell Cost for the full magicka cost equation.
- Skill level indicates which skill perk needs to be unlocked to decrease the spell's magicka cost. "N/A" is used for special spells whose cost is not affected by any perks.
- The "Where to Get" column only lists guaranteed locations for obtaining the spell tomes. Most spell tomes are also available in random loot; see Spell Tome Locations and the table below for details.
- For higher-level spell tomes to become available for purchase, your skill in the school must be high enough (see the table below). Also, master-level spell tomes can only be acquired once that school's ritual spell quest has been completed.
- All spell tomes have a weight of 1.
- Skill XP can be modified by scripts and by the game engine itself under various circumstances. The exact XP you receive may vary from the numbers listed here.
- Magicka cost and skill XP are rounded down, both in game and on this page. Because of this, you may find that you cannot cast a spell even though it appears you have exactly enough magicka to do so.
A list of standard Illusion spells can be found on the Spells page. The following individual effects are all considered to be part of the school of Illusion (see the individual effect pages for full details on availability; the Magical Effects article also provides a summary):
The following races have an initial skill bonus to Illusion:
- 2920, Sun's Dawn, v2
- Before the Ages of Man
- The Black Arts On Trial
- Incident at Necrom
- Mystery of Talara, Part 4
- +1 Illusion reward from Sybille Stentor for completing the quest Kill the Vampire.
- +1 Illusion reward (+1 every magic skill) from Pantea Ateia (Bards College) for completing the quest Pantea's Flute.
- +5 Illusion (+5 every magic skill) by selecting "The Path of Magic" when reading the Oghma Infinium after completing the quest Discerning the Transmundane.
Gaining Skill XP
- Casting higher level spells gives generally faster skill increases (Novice<Apprentice<Adept<Expert<Master).
- It is possible to reduce or even completely eliminate the magicka cost of spells by stacking Fortify Illusion enchanting effects, which is very helpful for Illusion training. The Secret of ArcanaDB power does the same thing, but only for 30 seconds.
- Casting Muffle on yourself repeatedly will level up your Illusion quickly, even if there are no enemies around.
- If you reset your Illusion skill after learning the master-level spells, casting Harmony repeatedly in a heavily populated area, such as Whiterun, will level up your Illusion significantly. Depending on how many NPCs the spell hits, you could level from 15 to 100 in under 30 seconds by casting the spell.
- Casting Courage or Rally on NPCs is effective and is not considered a crime. Courage uses less magicka, but Rally will level the skill more quickly. However, both can rarely turn a few otherwise non-hostile NPCs hostile, such as Vigilants of Stendarr and Revelers.
- If using Rally to level, try to hit as many people as possible in one shot. Casting it into groups of people will raise the skill much faster than hitting single targets.
- Simultaneously casting Rout and Pacify (one assigned to each hand) on an enemy will rapidly level Illusion. Although the effects of Pacify should keep the target stationary, this is best done in a small enclosed area to ensure that you can hit the target each time the spells are cast.
When the player reaches a high level in this skill, NPCs (particularly guards) will sometimes comment: "You're the one that casts those illusions. Impressive."
- Clairvoyance can be cast as long as there are people around (not counting your follower or other allies) to gain experience in the skill. Muffle and Invisibility can be cast to gain experience even if there is no one around. All other spells must be cast on a valid target to gain experience, although this does not have to be an enemy.
- Casting Invisibility without the Quiet Casting perk may allow your character to still be detected. Enemies will investigate the sound, and may find you even if you have moved from where you originally cast the spell.
- Vampires are not affected by Illusion spells unless you have Master of the Mind. Even then, they are considered undead rather than people for the purposes of the Kindred Mage perk.
- The Necromage perk in the Restoration tree helps with making Illusion spells work against higher level undead.
- Falmer can be affected by Illusion spells without Master of the Mind, but are not affected by Kindred Mage or Animage.
- Dragons are completely immune to Illusion spells of any kind, regardless of skill level or perks.
- Vision of the Tenth Eye can be used as a kind of Night Eye spell with some effectiveness if needed, which does not appear to increase the ability of NPCs to detect you and allows for vision beyond the limited range of Candlelight and Magelight, though its long cast time and glare from light sources can be considerable downsides.
- Master-level Illusion spells do not benefit from Dual Casting; however, they can still overcome the level 50+ cap with the relevant perks and by using Fortify Illusion potions.
- Casting Mayhem will often cause items in the vicinity to shift around and become irretrievable.
- Quiet Casting also affects shouts.
- There are indications in the data files that at one point in the game's development, Mysticism would have been present as a school in place of Illusion. This is evidenced by an unused texture file containing names of all of the skills, in which Mysticism is present instead of Illusion, as well as the hardcoded order of Actor Values in the Creation Kit, in which Illusion is listed under "M" where Mysticism would go.
- Aspect of Terror adds extra damage to fire spells.
- This bug is fixed by version 1.2 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.