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Ultimate Smithing, Enchanting and Alchemy
By Arod Snaux
This guide shows how to quickly and easily max out smithing, alchemy, enchanting, pickpocket, sneak and other skills, and craft the best possible gear in the game. Kill Alduin in one shot. Run naked through a Forsworn Camp preaching the wonders of Dwarven technology. ♥♥♥♥♥-slap the Jarl's snotty children. It doesn't matter... you're geared!

Includes both vanilla methods and numerous exploits.
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Intro
This guide shows the known tips, techniques, and tricks for making the most powerful weapons and armor in vanilla Skyrim, while maxxing out alchemy, smithing, enchanting, pickpocketing, and other skills in the process, almost for free.

No cheats, no mods... just technique. The methods it describes would even work on consoles. This guide is also available in-game through my mod:

Godgear and Glory Bookset

In a vanilla game, without using exploits, your weapons can hit for 500+ damage each and you can be immune to magic or cast 0-mana-cost Master spells from any school, without wasting a single Perk point. And if you are willing to stretch the rules a bit, it discusses several exploits so you can create weapons that hit for 100,000 damage or more, or give 1000-point armor bonuses, and so forth. You can even turn "stock" gear into "god" gear without any smithing/enchanting skills, just a little alchemy.

Some of these tips are game-legal and balanced. Some are not. I discuss them all. I also discuss guidelines so you don't waste any skillpoints or precious mats. In addition, I provide necessary item lists (with IDs if you get really stuck), and tips on getting a few choice items to help you on your way.

Whether or not you choose to use the exploits is your choice. I merely describe the methods. If you know of any other tricks of the crafting trade, feel free to post them and maybe I'll include them in a future update.
Prepare to Powerlevel!
Pick a Stone
The Lover Stone improves skill progression - all skills improve 15% faster. It is found east of Markarth, North of Kolskegger Mine.

Optionally, choose a 20% single-skill bonus stone. The Thief stone just outside the Helgen escape tunnel exit is Alchemy only. Likewise the Mage stone next to it boosts Enchanting only and the Warrior stone boosts Smithing.

Choose one - Your call. However, if you have Dawnguard, there's a reward item that allows you to choose two stones at once.

Choose Perks Wisely
Don't waste any points on magic-school Tree abilities that "lower the cost of xxx spells" unless they are in your way to another perk you need. Put all those points in something else... such as your Enchanting, Alchemy, or Smithing. Why? because around skill 70 in enchanting/alchemy you'll be able to make gear that, when combined, gives 100% cost reduction for any school of magic - that's right, you can cast all your spells for FREE without putting a single point in any magic tree.

Instead, be sure to pick up these perks: 5/5 Enchanter and Insightful Enchanter for the Enchantment skill, Alchemist 5/5 and Benefactor for the Alchemy skill, and finally a full set of perks for the weapon/armor you expect to craft and enchant.

Get Crafting Gear!
Always keep an eye open for gear that boost your crafting skills especially Alchemy and Smithing. For enchanting, you'll need a third party mod, but this is really not needed.

Getting the chants is random and therefore the most unpredictable part of all this. Fortify apparel can often be bought from Radiant Raiment in Solitude, or more rarely purchased from other general stores throughout Skyrim. If not available you can try waiting 2 days (ingame) and trying again.

  • Fortify Alchemy can be obtained by completing Frida's quest at The Mortar and Pestle in Dawnstar, then pickpocketing from her.

  • You can also get it from Muiri's Ring from the Dark Brotherhood Quest "Mourning Never Comes" after finishing the bonus objective.

  • Or simply keep adventuring and hope for a drop.

Speciality Gear
On top of the Throat of the World (and I mean the VERY TOP) is the Notched Pickaxe (1019d4) which is a unique +5 Smithing Weapon. It's the only weapon I know of that grants a skill increase when you hold it. It's not much, but if you are playing fairly and still want to max your potential, you need it. You can also disenchant it and put the spell on another weapon, but the bonus remains +5 regardless of skill or soul gem used.

Also, Falmer helmets can be worn on top of a Dragon mask (e.g. Krosis (61cb9) - Alchemy +20%) or any Circlet (166ff, 1672f etc), allowing a total of five enchantable armor slots instead of four... that's another potential 10 -30% skill boost, all without cheating. They may be ugly, but keep those helmets!

Exploit: Running low on Gear to enchant or improve?: Get a house with a Mannequin. Dress the Mannequin with Apparel, then while still in the menu, remove all the items from it. Close the menu and go outside. Go back inside - Mannequin will now be wearing a duplicate set of armor. Wash, rinse, repeat. Now you have an unlimited source of clothes and jewelry. (And yes, THAT is cheating!)
Don't Craft: Train for free!
Basics - Steal It!
Train whenever you can. And each time you train, pickpocket your gold back from the trainer to get free training and to power-level your Pickpocket and Sneak skill in the process. After level 50 in any skill, training costs go up rapidly, making pickpocketing difficult, so it's worth a point or two in the Pickpocket tree. Doing this, you'll be at 100 pickpocket and max out the trainer's ability to teach in less than 20 minutes. This works with most trainers. If the trainer is also your follower, you can simply open his/her inventory and take the gold back from them, but you don't level Pickpocket.

Also note: the Fortify Pickpocket skill is bugged, and after a few levels its actually best to NOT use it, as it actually ends up lowering your chances to pickpocket.

Alchemy First!
Train Alchemy first, because Alchemy levels the slowest and is hardest to find mats for. Arcadia in Whiterun will get you to level 75. After level 75, train with Babette in the Dark Brotherhood, and/or also make potions using Giant's Toe as a main ingredient.

Why Toes? Alchemy XP is based on potion cost, and potions made with Giant's Toe are worth much more than others, so you'll level faster and have more cash on hand to pay the little bloodsucker. (Sadly, Babette is flagged as a child so she cannot be pickpocketed).

Enchanting
Once alchemy is maxxed, focus on Enchanting. Train with Sergius Turrianus at the college (to 75) and Hamal at the Markarth Temple of Dibella (90, after doing her quest), pickpocketing your gold back each time.

When making items to powerlevel those last few levels to 100, it is more profitable to enchant weapons, since value affects your xp gain. Weapon enchant prices are calculated by base uses; the fewer base uses an enchant has, the more expensive the enchantment will be, and the more XP you will get. The Banish enchantment (available after level 22) is by far the most profitable weapon enchantment, followed by paralyze, absorb health, damage stamina, and turn undead. The size of the enchantment doesn't affect the skill gain, so smaller soul gems are you best source for leveling... keep the blacks and grands for your gear.

Smithing
Finally focus on smithing if you really need it. This is by far the easiest skill to level (next to pickpocketing), but if you find yourself low on mats, consider a trip to Markarth -- All that dwarven museum junk can be turned into free ingots at any smelter, especially if you have any of several mods. Smithing to 100 is almost instantaneous if you chug a mega-Fortify-smithing potion, by the way... see below.


Best Gear: The Approved Method
Weapons crafted with this technique typically whomp for 300-500+ damage per hit in the hands of a skilled user wearing appropriate buff gear, and Magic reduction and resistance is 29% per item, giving you potential for unlimited spellpower and magic/elemental immunity when combined properly.

Prerequisites:

- Level 100 in Alchemy and Enchanting
- 5 points in Alchemist
- 1 point in Benefactor
- 5 points in Enchanter
- 1 point in Insightful Enchanter
- 3 pieces each head, hand, neck, ring with no enchantments
- 12 grand souls


Steps:

1. Craft a set of Fortify Alchemy gear at 25% boost.
2. Craft several potions of Fortify Enchanting at 30% boost.
3. Craft a new set of Fortify Alchemy gear at 28% boost with the aid of the potions. Time passes while using the arcane enchanter so move quickly.
4. Craft several potions of Fortify Enchanting at 32% boost using the new set of gear.
5. Craft a final set of Fortify Alchemy gear at 29% boost with the aid of the potions. This is the normal max within the game.

Note that use of a Falmer Helmet and Circlet for your headgear (instead of a helm) makes it possible to make +37% Enchanting and +147% smithing potions, but this will not be enough to get you beyond the 29% Alchemy gear limit, due to rounding, but the potions will still be useful for other gear.

The final set of gear will not improve the results of a Fortify Enchanting potion any further, but will still improve the results of other potions. Additional potions can be brewed to improve enchantments of all types. One common application is to enchant a set of Fortify Smithing gear and combine it with a maximum strength Fortify Smithing potion to improve weapons and armor.
The Restoration Potion Exploit
This is basically the same technique as above, but is boosted by the use of Fortify Restoration potions... yes, you read that right. Most clothing enchantments are considered to be Restoration spells, and as such are affected by Restoration potions, just like many staffs are boosted by fortify Destro. This means an ever-growing boost so you can craft potions that go beyond the 29% cap.

  • 1. Craft the set of 29% Fortify Alchemy Gear as above.

  • 2. Craft a Fortify Restoration using your new gear, at 147% boost.

  • 3. Remove your gear and drink the potion. Put your gear back on and suddenly it's +71%!

  • 4. Craft several potions of Fortify Enchanting at 69% boost using the new set of gear and the Resto potion.

  • 5. Craft a new set of Fortify Alchemy gear at 35% boost.

You can repeat this process indefinately for virtually unlimited power, while still remaining reasonably true to the spirit of the game.

Note that when the Resto potion wears off, your gear descriptions will SAY they are back down to normal (29%) but if you look under "Magical Effects" you'll see that they are still at full power. They will remain this way until you take off the gear.

Resto-Chugging to make God-Gear
Basic Resto-Chugging
This is an exploit that can make weapons that hit for 100,000 damage, and gear that makes you totally invulnerable, or gives you unlimited spellcasting ability.

This method is based on the two techniques above, but is a) based on a program glitch (that could be fixed at any time), and b) makes the game very boring, very fast. I recommend you not use it on a "real" game as it may also corrupt your savefile if you go really nuts with it.

That said, you can oneshot dragons barehanded and perform other miracles at a very early level. Unlike the other two methods, you don't need to prelevel any skills (but it helps) and need very few materials. All you really need in fact are a few dozen mats to make Resto potions, a couple soulgems of any level, and the Fortify Alchemy chant on some junk items.

As noted previously, most clothing enchantments are considered restoration effects. Enchanted clothing (of any almost any type) will be more powerful if equipped while under the effects of a Fortify Restoration potion.

The exploit involves drinking a Fortify Restoration potion, removing and re-equipping any Fortify Alchemy apparel, creating another Fortify Restoration potion, and repeating the process. Potions will be stronger with each cycle. There is no limit to the strength of potions created this way. In no time at all you'll have potions that boost Resto by hundreds or thousands of times.

Once that's done, its time to make some Fortify Enchanting and Smithing potions. Since Alchemy XP is based on the gold value of potions created, using this exploit will bring you to 100 Alch very quickly. Additionally, Speech can be leveled to 100 by a single sale of a highly valuable potion or upgraded weapon (no matter how little money the shopkeeper actually has), and upgrading a weapon or piece of amor with the aid of a super-powered Fortify Smithing potion or enchantment will immediately max out Smithing.

Extreme Resto-chugging
You can supercharge the spell effects of *any* clothing item without the need to make Alchemy gear or level any skills at all, if you simply have a bunch of crafted Fortify Restoration potions. (If the potions are all the same strength, or are stock Resto potions from a vendor, this trick won't work).


As noted, you need several Resto potions of differing strengths (15%, 20%, 30%, etc). These could come from when you were levelling, or could be made with differing strength Alchemy gear combinations, or from using the Restoration/Clothing exploit previously covered.

For clarity, let's say you have several stacks of these potions... maybe 5 at 15%, 5 at 20% etc. The the stronger they are, the better, but what's more important is that you have a lot of different strengths because the exploit stacks logrithimically.

Look through your Fortify Restoration potions, and drink one from the weakest (cheapest-value) stack. Now drink one from the next-cheapest stack, and then from the next, all the way up to your most powerful (most expensive) stack. (It's easier to look at prices rather than % because the percent values change as you are drinking. ) As you drink each potion, your Fortify Resto will skyrocket.

The only rule: NEVER drink from the same stack twice in a chug-session - it will ruin the session, and you'll have to wait until they expire and start all over again. Just drink once from each stack, from weakest to strongest.

When you've had one potion from each stack, remove all your gear, then immediately put it back on again. Now take a look at the chant strengths on your clothing - they will be significantly higher. I've seen 10% strength items hit 500% in just a few rounds of drinking. 40,000 hp/mana pools anyone?

Note: when the potions time out, the descriptions of enchants on your clothing will go back to their normal values, but the resto-boosted abilities will remain - you can verify this by looking at them under Magic - Powers - Active Effects. They will remain that strong until you remove them.

If you have the mats, it's a good idea to make a few more resto potions at each drinking cycle so you always have differing strengths for next time.

Warnings
Trying to get really high values for item stats can sometimes cause them to become negative numbers. This is called "integer overflow" and happens because of the way computers work. Depending on the item and the severity, it can be really really bad, causing your savegames to become corrupted in a way that might take several days to actually discover.

In short, don't make any gear that shows a negative value!

Useful Items (and Cheat Codes)
The following lists should come in handy. If you are not cheating, these are simply good items to stockpile. If you are cheating and playing on a PC, I've included the console code ID numbers... e.g. opening the console (~) and typing "player.additem 2e4ff 100" gives you 100 filled Grand soul Gems.

Soul Gem

Use lesser gems for recharging or powerlevelling junk items only... when enchanting "real gear", only use Grands or Blacks...

- (2e4ff) Grand Soul Gem (filled)

If these are hard to find, do Azura's quest (mountaintop due south of winterhold) and you will have the choice to return the broken Azura's Star to Aranea or to Nelacar. Returning it to Nelacar will yield the Black Star, a Black Soul Gem that never goes away.


Fortify Smithing & Enchanting:

Mix all three together or separate (Spriggan sap does both). Dont forget to take a Fortify Restoration potion before making them... it will make them stronger. Also, never make more than you need to make the next round of gear, as that gear will be used to make you stronger potions.

- (4da25) Blisterwort
- (63b5f) Spriggan Sap
- (1b3bd) Snowberries

Of course you can also make separate potions if spriggan sap is in short supply. Fortify Smithing is any combo of (Blisterwort, Glowing Mushroom, Sabre Cat Tooth, or Spriggan Sap), and Fortify Enchanting is (Blue Butterfly Wing, Hagraven Claw, Snowberries, or Spriggan Sap).


Restoration:

(Mix any two). This will boost your Alchemy skill, and also boosts the enchantments you place on clothing.

- (106e1b) Abecean Longfin
- (106e19) Cyrodilic Spadetail
- (34cdf) Salt Pile
- (6bc0b) Small Antlers
- (85500) Small Pearl


Jumpstart Items:

These are the best ingame non-unique items for each profession.

Fortify Alchemy, 25 pts

- (fc005) Circlet of Peerless Alchemy
- (10df4a) Necklace of Peerless Alchemy
- (d7a3e) Dragonplate Gauntlets of Peerless Alchemy
- (d7a62) Dragonplate Helmet of Peerless Alchemy

Fortify Smithing, 25 pts

- (10df26) Necklace of Peerless Smithing
- (100e40) Ring of Peerless Smithing
- (d7a5c) Dragonplate Gauntlets of Peerless Smithing


Restoration Potions:

- (3eb3a) Restoration I
- (3995a) Restoration II
- (3995b) Restoration III
- (3995c) Restoration IV

These will NOT work with resto-chugging, but will still boost any clothing items magic ability once. Thus a potion of Restoration IV (50%) will turn a +25% bonus item into a +37% bonus item, but no higher.



Junk Gear:

These are just some items that can be used to make throwaway alch/smith gear during the levelling process. ANY gear will work; this list is just for folks using the player.additem command.

- (4c3cb) Falmer Helmet
- (1672f) Circlet
- (18801) Shoes (or 65b9b)
- (261c1) Gloves (or 65b9d)
- (1cf2b) Ring
- (877d5) Necklace
- (6ff37) Smith Apron

My Mods
I hope you enjoyed this guide, and encourage you to try my most popular mods, listed below:

Fishing In Skyrim
Arod's Inventory Control Spells
Arod's Alchemical Analyzer
Longer Duration Crafting Potions
God-gear and Glory Crafting Books
37 Comments
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Sami Jan 4 @ 7:10pm 
Yeah that is kinda arrogant to do such athing and force it upon your fellow gamers, although they do get the stuff fixed that bethesda dont. WEll that pissesme off, i didnt even know that and ive had the unofficial skyrim patch all this time
Arod Snaux  [author] Dec 18, 2013 @ 5:25pm 
Everything in this guide still works in vanilla Skyrim. However, the Restoration-potion boost was "fixed" by the USKP team (which they should not have done since it makes the game unplayable for certain classes), so if you have that mod installed, some of this may function differently.

USKP may have also "fixed" the Falmer helmet thing, I'm not sure -- I stopped using USKP after the team lead decided to start changing game mechanics rather than fix bugs. They are rather arrogant.
Sami Dec 18, 2013 @ 10:02am 
tey didnt patch this did they? that would suck. Thanks for the guide, endorsed
Galle Sep 18, 2013 @ 9:04pm 
so the perfect crafting gear (without cheating) is:

head: +30% alchemy
hands: +30% smithing and alchemy
ring: +30% smithing and alchemy
necklace: +30% smithing and alchemy
cheast: +30% smithing

potions: 33% enchanting and 132% smithing

and the armor of ahzidal: +10 enchanting

the pickaxe has no effect anymore
Galle Sep 18, 2013 @ 8:32pm 
wearing a falmer helmet and another headgear is a bug and so its exploiting - in my opinion. here also a link to the elderscrolls wikia: http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Falmer_Helmet

and you forgot to mention the armor of ahzidal with +10 enchanting - tze tze tze ^^
BEBHaven Sep 15, 2013 @ 11:10am 
It's the Crown reward for the quest Lost To The Ages. As far as I can tell, the skill boosting Stone effect stack.
Arod Snaux  [author] Aug 31, 2013 @ 10:55pm 
It's the reward for siding with the vampires, some kind of amulet i think, and it works with all stones, although I'm not sure if the effects stack or not (eg taking lover and thief at same time).
AmaDraque Aug 31, 2013 @ 1:19am 
@Arod Snaux: "if you have Dawnguard, there's a reward item that allows you to choose two stones at once."

I wasn't aware of this and must've have overlooked this item somehow. Where or how can I find it?

PS. I used to have the Thief's Stone but switched to the stone that gives you a boost on three different skills once I found it near Markath. Will the item you refer to work with this stone plus another stone as well, or is it specific for the three stones ooutside of Riverwood?
AmaDraque Aug 31, 2013 @ 1:13am 
The following two don't work any longer:

You used to be able to get back your gold from Faendal and use it again to train Archery, thus upping your archery and saving hard earned money at the beginning of the game. This has been changed, you can't get your gold back anymore

You can also no longer up your Speech by talking to the guy behind the counter at Blackbriar Meadery in Riften anymore.
Arod Snaux  [author] Aug 12, 2013 @ 5:44pm 
This is not a mod, it's an online guide, but if you click the "GodGear and Glory" link above, it will take you to my mod that has the same information in book form.