Due to the wide variety of ingredients, obtaining them can be time-consuming and depending on the ingredients, costly. However, it is possible to aid the collection of ingredients.
Obtaining ingredients from vendorsEdit
Many of the Alchemy Vendors in Skyrim will allow the Dragonborn to take certain ingredients from the displays in the shops without cost or consequence. In addition, the stock displayed throughout the stores will respawn every ten days, providing a frequent stock of ingredients, some of which are hard to find. In order for this to occur, the vendors each require a quest to be completed:
- Arcadia's Cauldron (Whiterun) – Deliver the Frost Salts provided by Farengar Secret-Fire to Arcadia
- The White Phial (Windhelm) – Complete The White Phial
- The Hag's Cure (Markarth) – Deliver the Stallion's Potion to Raerek for Bothela
- The Mortar and Pestle (Dawnstar) – Find the Ring of Pure Mixtures for Frida
- Angeline's Aromatics (Solitude) – Complete No News is Good News
- Thaumaturgist's Hut (Morthal) – Complete Rare Gifts
The Merchant perkEdit
Several ingredients cannot be purchased from Vendors without the "Merchant" Speech perk. These ingredients include:
- Powdered Mammoth Tusk
- Small Pearl
- Large Antlers
- Sabre Cat Tooth
- Wisp Wrappings
- Eye of Sabre Cat
- Blue Dartwing
How the Alchemy mechanic worksEdit
The Alchemy skill increases proportionally to the value/cost of the potion being brewed. The value of the potion depends on the following attributes:
- Its effect type – A Slow effect is valuable, while Damage Health effect is inexpensive.
- The potion's strength (either % or in duration), which is determined by the skill level, perks and enchanted apparel.
- If the potion has multiple effects which occurs when the ingredients used in a potion have similar effects, even if the effects themselves conflict (such as Damage Health and Restore Health).
Valuable single effectsEdit
Certain effects contribute more to the value of a potion than others. Some of the most valuable include:
- Damage Magicka Regen
- Fortify Carry Weight
- Regenerative effects – Regenerate Health, Regenerate Stamina, Regenerate Magicka
Potions containing these effects are usually more valuable in terms of giving skills points.
Certain ingredients have additional modifiers and are particularly valuable for creating effective potions. These include:
- Giant's Toe
When used in a Fortify Health potion, Giant's Toe adds almost five times the base value of a potion. A player with a high enough Alchemy skill can create potions including Giant's Toe that are worth over 4,000 . Most merchants will most likely not have this much gold on-hand, unless the Speech skill tree is of a high enough level.
Process for levelingEdit
Making many potions at a time is an effective method for leveling. Buffs – The Thief guardian stone speeds up Alchemy skill improvement by 20%, as do the benefits from a good night's sleep (+10% for Well Rested or +15% for Lover's Comfort).
Potion effects – There are no Fortify Alchemy potions in the game. Consistently using the alchemy skill to make better potions to fortify enchanting, to make better gear to fortify alchemy, to make better potions to fortify enchanting, and so on, will level the Alchemy skill quickly.
One way to level Alchemy to 100 involves the following steps:
- Alchemy skill level 1–75 – It is suggested to buy skills from Arcadia in Whiterun. After buying a single level of skill, one can sneak and pickpocket the gold back. If done every time and with a couple of points invested in pickpocketing, one can get their Alchemy to level 75 for free. If done earlier in the game, this can all be done at once, as the pickpocket leveling + alchemy leveling will potentially level a player up faster than one can be trained. The player can collect Giant's Toes and Wheat during this period, and make enough potions to sell to Arcadia to cover the costs of buying skills.
- Alchemy skill level 76–90 – It is suggested to buy skills from Babette of the Dark Brotherhood. One cannot pickpocket her as she is considered a child, despite being hundreds of years old. Also one should make potions with the Giant's Toes/Wheat found
- Alchemy skill level 90–100 – There are 5 skill books and 3 quests that increase Alchemy Skill, including one that raises it by 5 points. These will improve Alchemy Skill the remainder of the way.
Leveling to 272Edit
Alchemy can be easily leveled using the restoration potion loop. The process is as follows:
- Ingredients for several restoration potions, and enchanting potions can be obtained through alchemists and harvesting during exploration.
- Multiple pieces of gear can be enchanted with Fortify Alchemy, effectively stacking the bonus.
- With the gear equipped, a Fortify Restoration potion can be created.
- The potion can then be used.
- The player can un-equip and re-equip the armor and see the effect take place.
- Steps 3 to 5 can be repeated until the gear's buff is high enough for the player's intentions.
- Once this is achieved, a Fortify Enchanting potion can be made with the bonus in effect.
- The Fortify Enchanting potion can then be used, and another set of Fortify Alchemy gear can be created.
- Once all active potion effects go away, the old fortify alchemy gear can be removed and replaced with the new fortify alchemy gear.
- Afterwards, it is just a matter of obtaining or purchasing multiple reagents.
Note: If steps 3 to 5 are repeated enough, one can max Alchemy from 15 with the creation of a simple potion. With the introduction of the ability to Legendary a skill back to 15, this process each successful potion can quickly increase a player's level, allowing one to obtain all perks within a few hours at an alchemy and enchanting table.
- If the fortify alchemy enchantment is too high, the potions that created will level at a normal rate. If this happens, the process needs to be restarted and less loops of steps 3 to 5 should be done. A good rule of thumb is if the value of your gear is a negative number, it is usually too high.
- It is a very good idea to get the Experimenter Perk maxed out and eat as many ingredients as one can before resetting alchemy. With this, one can create a wider variety of potions without as much trial and error.
Alchemy is arguably the most time- and cost-efficient way to make money in Skyrim; the ability to make money is limited by the money each vendor has (which in turn is a function of time), perks that the player has and the odd way that potions are priced by the game over time.
In general, making money from potions is determined by:
- Expenses (the cost of raw materials, the time cost to gather ingredients or travel to vendors),
- The effectiveness of the potion-brewing process and base value of potions made, and
- The ability to sell the potions over time (i.e. finding a trade route which will let the vendors' money replenish as you get to them).
To reach level 100 Alchemy, approximately 200,000 septims worth of potions needs to be brewed. As early as level 10 one could be making over 1,000 from a single potion. For example: from a single Falmer-infested dungeon, one could extract 100 or more Chaurus Eggs, and a simple walk around Whiterun's outskirts at twilight can provide several Luna Moth Wings. This results in a rather valuable Invisibility potion. Additionally, the combination of Salmon roe, Garlic, and a Nordic Barnacle makes the most expensive base potion, but requires The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire.
Purchasing raw materials from vendors is generally efficient, because it avoids much of the time cost associated with finding many raw materials in the wild. However, for rare ingredients, a lot of time can be lost traveling to specific merchants.
In general, one should buy every ingredient (except elemental salts) in shops that are less than about 60 septims because the return ratio is astronomically high for even the weakest of potion types. There is almost no correlation between an ingredients cost or rarity and the potential value of the potion you can create from it. In fact, some of the most expensive and rare ingredients make the lowest valued potions and vice versa. The Giant's Toe (cheap but somewhat rare) in particular has the potential to create the highest value potions in the game at low levels (Giant's Toe + Wheat + Creep Cluster).
Another way to cover beginning expenses along with slightly increasing the player's alchemy level is like so: In the tutorial, all the spider eggs should be taken from the Frostbite Spider nest. Upon exiting, many Blue Butterflies can be seen going to Riverwood and Whiterun. These can be collected as well. The nearest brewing stand can then be used at Arcadia's Cauldron, and the reagents can be brewed together. The gold made here can usually be used to pay for additional ingredients for other, more advanced recipes.
Home ownership is another worthwhile investment for busy alchemists: it provides a convenient storage location for potions, ingredients, and buff equipment. The most affordable house in Skyrim is Breezehome in Whiterun at 5000 for the basic house, 500 more for an alchemy room.
With the Hearthfire DLC, the player can easily grow ingredients for the most valuable potions in the garden and greenhouse respawning every 3 days. For a 5000 Gold and respect from the Jarl in a Morthal, Falkreath, or Dawnstar, one can get a pitch of land with enough materials for a small house and a garden with 11 pitches of fertile soil. Owning all 3 construction sites of Skyrim grants 33 pitches of fertile soil, which is enough to make more potions than one could sell without investing points in the Speech perk tree.
The same general tips used for leveling are applicable for improving the profitability of potions with a high vendor price: buffs and fortify Alchemy gear will both help improve potions that the vendors are willing to buy. It should be noted, however, that each vendor has a limited amount of money, and it is possible to empty a vendor's pockets with a single potion. One way to refill a vendor's available gold, is to wait 48 hours, or, the exploit: Buy, save, attack the vendor, and reload the save.
As mentioned before, the "base value" of a potion does not always reflect the vendor price, but a potion that a vendor wants can be brewed stronger, for a better sale price.
Sales and trade routesEdit
All vendors in the game, even with perks, have a limited amount of money; the Thieves' Guild fences have deeper pockets (about 4,000 septims), but very valuable potions will drain even those quite quickly. Once one has calculated and produced the most valuable potions, the remaining effort will be spent developing trade routes which will allow each vendors' money to refill as the player comes around to sell their wares. Alternatively, players can save immediately following a clearing of a merchant's inventory, kill the merchant, and reload the game just saved- this resets both the gold available, and inventory of that merchant. This saves considerable time versus fast traveling from location to location, and the load times associated with them.
Advanced Alchemy-Enchanting-Smithing Power-CraftingEdit
Step 1: Set initial Alchemy buffsEdit
Usually the player can enchant a set of four items with a skill fortification (Fortify Alchemy and Fortify Smithing only; Fortify Enchanting only exists as a potion).
+25% Fortify Alchemy enchantments can be added on a ring, a necklace, gloves/bracers and a circlet. The effect should be on all four pieces of enchanted equipment.
If one is unable to get the max +25% bonus, capping at only +20% instead, the player may need to install the patch on Xbox or PS3.
Step 2: Create Stronger Fortify Enchanting PotionsEdit
A Fortify Enchanting potion can be made with the proper ingredients (Hagraven Claw, Snowberries, and Spriggan Sap are a few simple reagents that can be purchased). This should be done with all the enchanting materials and armor on hand, as the potion's effects only last for 30 seconds. With this potion, one will be able to enchant +29% Fortify Alchemy and +29% Fortify Smithing to your gear (29% is the best possible buff without exploits). With the Dual Effect enchanting perk, three pieces may serve double duty: a ring, a necklace and gloves/bracers will hold both enchantments. Wear the new Alchemy gear.
Step 3: Create Stronger Fortify Smithing PotionsEdit
With +29% Alchemy gear, one will be able to create +147% Fortify Smithing potions and 37% Fortify Enchanting potions. With +29% Fortify Smithing gear and the +147% Fortify Smithing potions, you will be able to create and improve powerful weapons and armor. Use the 37% Fortify Enchanting potions to further enhance this gear.