Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls
For other uses, see Alteration.
"The School of Alteration focuses on the manipulation of the physical world, and is used to cast spells like Waterbreathing, Magical Armor and Magelight."
Loading Screens (Skyrim)[src]

Alteration is a skill in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and is one of the six skills that fall under The Mage play-style. The Alteration skill is raised by using certain kinds of spells that identify themselves as alteration spells. These alteration spells include the ability to don magic armor, detect entities either by illumination of the area or by magically sensing their presence; the ability to temporarily paralyze, and a few special spells marked with * in the list below.

Changes from previous games[]

Since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does not feature custom spell creation, all alteration spells are now learned through spell tomes. The spells open lock, levitation, burden and feather make no appearance in the game.

Skill Books[]


Alteration Spell Book

Main article: Skill Books (Skyrim)

The following books provide a permanent skill up to Alteration; locations are listed under each title, and may not be exhaustive. Skill books are one time use only. After a skill book is read once, reading the same book does not increase skills.

Alteration perks tree

Alteration perks tree


The following quests increase the Alteration skill:


The following is a complete list of Alteration spells:

Novice (skill level 0)[]

Spell Name Description Magicka Base Cost
Candlelight Creates a hovering light that lasts for 60 seconds. 21
Equilibrium Convert health into magicka at a rate of 25 points per second. Caster can be killed by this effect. 0 (25 health per second)
Oakflesh Improves the caster's armor rating by 40 points for 60 seconds. 103

Apprentice (skill level 25)[]

Spell Name Description Magicka Base Cost
Magelight Ball of light that lasts 60 seconds and sticks where it strikes. 84
Stoneflesh Improves the caster's armor rating by 60 points for 60 seconds. 194

Adept (skill level 50)[]

Spell Name Description Magicka Base Cost
Ash Shell DR Targets that fail to resist are immobilized in hardened ash for 30 seconds. 149 per second

Detect Life

Nearby living creatures, (but not undead, machines, or daedra) can be seen through walls. 100 per second
Ironflesh Improves the caster's armor rating by 80 points for 60 seconds. 266
Telekinesis Can pull an object to you from distance. Add it to your inventory or throw it. 170 per second
Transmute Transmute one piece of unrefined Iron Ore to Silver, or Silver Ore to Gold, if the caster is carrying any. 100
Waterbreathing Can breathe under water for 60 seconds. 222

Expert (skill level 75)[]

Spell Name Description Magicka Base Cost
Ash Rune DR Cast on a nearby surface, it explodes when enemies are nearby, immobilizing them in hardened ash for 30 seconds. 248
Detect Dead Nearby dead can be seen through walls. 148 per second
Ebonyflesh Improves the caster's armor rating by 100 points for 60 seconds. 341
Paralyze Targets that fail to resist are paralyzed for 10 seconds. 450

Master (skill level 100)[]

Master spells can't be purchased initially. To unlock Master Alteration spells, the "Alteration Ritual Spell" quest must be completed upon reaching level 90 Alteration.

Spell Name Description Magicka Base Cost
Dragonhide Caster ignores 80% of all physical damage for 30 seconds. 837
Mass Paralysis All targets in the area that fail to resist are paralyzed for 15 seconds. 937


The following are perks that become available for selection as the skill is leveled up:

Perk (Ranks) Requirements Description
Novice Alteration None Cast Novice level Alteration spells for half magicka
Alteration Dual Casting Alteration 20, Novice Alteration Dual casting an Alteration spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version
Apprentice Alteration Alteration 25, Novice Alteration Cast Apprentice level Alteration spells for half magicka
Mage Armor (3) Alteration 30/50/70, Apprentice Alteration Protection spells like Stoneflesh are twice as strong if not wearing armor (+0.5 per additional rank)
Magic Resistance (3) Alteration 30/50/70, Apprentice Alteration Blocks 10%/20%/30% of a spells effect.

Magic resistance does not stop friendly spells from affecting the caster. See also: Breton, Agent of Mara and The Lord Stone for a method of achieving 85% resistance without requiring any gear.

Adept Alteration Alteration 50, Apprentice Alteration Cast Adept level Alteration spells for half magicka
Stability Alteration 70, Adept Alteration Alteration spells have greater duration (+50%)
Expert Alteration Alteration 75, Adept Alteration Cast Expert level Alteration spells for half magicka
Atronach Alteration 100, Expert Alteration Grants 30% Spell Absorption

Spell absorption will block friendly spells as well as hostile ones.

Master Alteration Alteration 100, Expert Alteration Cast Master level Alteration spells for half magicka



The Alteration skill level can be increased by using these tactics:

  • With 100 Enchanting, it is possible to enchant apparel to reduce Alteration spell magicka usage (Fortify Alteration effect) to zero. With this equipped, it is easy to raise the skill using virtually any spell.
  • If you enchant a chestpiece with Fortify Alteration and Magicka Regen, and a necklace and a ring with Fortify Alteration it is possible to get a total bonus between the 3 items of over 100% reduction with 100 enchanting and an enchanting potion. This allows you to use the Aetherial Crown with the Mage Stone and the Well Rested bonus.
    • If you utilize this equipment set up and use Mass Paralysis in a large group of enemies, it is possible to level from 15–100 in less than a few minutes. If you have completed Season Unending and there are Imperials at Fellglow Keep, you can walk into the middle of the group of them and cast Mass Paralysis, with 11 imperials it takes approximately 12 casts of Mass Paralysis to go from 15–100. This is quite possibly the fastest way to gain perk points in the legendary edition and could also be used to allow you to quickly gain levels if you want to train your other skills by using trainers.
  • Obtain the novice Illusion spell Fury, and while hidden, cast it on a chicken. This will make the chicken register as an enemy, and it will try to attack you, but it cant hurt you, giving you the opportunity to continually cast oakflesh/stoneflesh to level up(until the chicken is killed by an NPC for being hostile). If you are spotted casting fury on the chicken, you will get a small bounty.
  • Wearing Master Robes of Alteration, Morokei, The Apprentice Stone, and an Amulet of Akatosh will increase the base magicka regen to 375%. This percentage can be raised even higher with a ring enchanted with Regenerate Magicka, depending on Enchanting level.
  • Waterbreathing can be cast while standing in shallow water for easy experience.
  • Telekinesis, while very magicka-expensive, will raise Alteration very quickly. One option is to just hold an object in the air using this spell and to wait until your magicka runs out - also, face a wall or corner so when the item is thrown it doesn't hit anyone or get lost. Any item that can be picked up or dropped from the inventory can be used.
    • Since Telekinesis is a sustained-cast spell, using Secret of Arcana (only available through the Dragonborn expansion) while casting Telekinesis continuously is especially efficient, and can raise Alteration to 100 in less than 10 minutes as continuing to sustain the spell past the 30-second duration of Secret of Arcana will keep casting it cost-free. You can use Telekinesis in one hand and Detect Life in the other. The best place for this is Whiterun during market hours.
    • If you would like to skip the Secret of Arcana option, simply step into one of the three Mystic Focal Points (the pillars of light) at the College as it provides limitless magicka. Casting telekinesis on anything in the room levels you painlessly, aside from the cramp in your finger. The cramps can be avoided by a) taping the triggers down if on console or b) using a heavy cylindrical object to keep the key depressed, such as a stack of coins.
    • If Alteration is reset to 15 by making the skill legendary, it takes approximately 14 and a half minutes of continuous Telekinesis with the Secret of Arcana exploit to get back to 100, if the The Mage Stone is in use. Without the Mage Stone, it becomes approximately 17 minutes, 20 seconds.
    • Alternatively, with Alteration cost down to zero (either through enchanted gear or other means), you can start using Telekinesis on an object and then fast travel to another location. The game thinks you have walked across the map casting Telekinesis, and will level up Alteration accordingly. Using this method, you can level up Alteration from 15-100 in a matter of seconds.
    • Using the Secret of Arcana exploit, Telekinesis on one hand, Detect Life on the other, a crowded area, and the Mage Stone, it is possible to go from 15–100 Alteration in less than 10 minutes.
    • Equipping Telekinesis in both hands and using them slightly delayed, but not dual-casting, to pick up an item then fast traveling can level up Alteration to 100 in one load screen. It is recommended to go a far distance to maximize the amount of levels gained (for example: being in Riften then fast traveling to Markarth). This can only be done with equipment that reduces magicka cost of alteration spells to zero.
      • Using the Secret of Arcana power will act as an alternative to enchanted equipment in this regard.
  • Casting Magelight and Candlelight as often as possible provides a slow but easy flow of experience. Since Candlelight and Magelight are Novice and Apprentice level spells respectively, they are obtainable early.
  • Transmute Mineral Ore can be used to convert iron ore into gold ore (iron -> silver -> gold). From there, the ore can be smelted into ingots (remember that two gold ore are needed for a single gold ingot), and gold jewelry can be crafted and sold. Enchanting obtained items will increase prices, thus providing Alteration, Smithing, Enchanting, and Speech experience. Additionally stolen iron or silver ore, after being transmuted, no longer have the stolen tag, allowing it to be sold without having to go through a fence.
  • Repetitively casting Paralyze levels from level 75 onwards extremely quickly, simply requiring a single NPC (enemy or not, even Hold Guards). The spell can simply be cast on them again and again. Leveling to 100 from 75 takes approximately 10/20 minutes of casting (with items reducing magicka cost equipped)
  • Repetitively casting Mass Paralysis can level Alteration from 15–100 in under 5 minutes, but requires enchanted items to reduce Alteration magicka usage by 100% due to its high cost. Once you have these, simply visit somewhere with at least five NPCs (enemy or not) nearby. The initial cast may be tricky if you're being attacked due to the long cast time, but once you get the spell off you can repeat it easily.
  • Casting Detect Life is a very quick way to level Alteration. The more "life" that is detected, the faster this method works.
    • After completing the Civil War quests, go to the Blue Palace basement in Solitude where the previous Jarls and their various court members have been banished, and dual wield Detect Life in both hands. This is best done with multiple followers to maximize skill increase.
  • Repeatedly casting Stoneflesh or Oakflesh next to an immobile enemy (like the caged wolves in Cragslane Cavern) quickly levels Alteration.
    • Cragslane Cavern is involved in the quest "Skooma Trade;" a bug exists that may prevent that quest from being completed if it is visited before being sent there by the quest. There should be two caged wolves immediately outside of Cragslane cavern that may be used for this purpose without triggering the bug.
    • Alternatively, the Bloodlet Throne southwest of Helgen could be used to practice spells with the vampires on the other side of the barricade.
    • For leveling up Alteration early game, there is a small island East of Ilinata's Deep in Lake Ilinalta (The lake immediately West of the Guardian Stones) that is across from an abandoned dock and two wolves. The wolves cannot cross the water to reach the player but will be in aggro range. Conviniently, the island is also far enough that the player can wait to quickly replenish magicka despite being engaged in combat. (The same island can be used to quickly level up Conjuration through the Conjure Familiar spell, as the familiar will also be unable to reach the wolves.)
  • In the quest "The Break of Dawn," casting Oakflesh then standing in the beam of the beacon will quickly level Alteration.
  • Stand next to a body of water that contains a Slaughterfish as an enemy and cast flesh spells. These can easily be found in Lake Ilinalta.


Alteration provides pure mages and magic dabblers alike the ability to bolster their defenses. However, until expert level, Alteration is purely defensive. In addition, Alteration normally levels slowly because the "flesh" spells will rarely be cast more than once during each combat encounter. Their high cost also means that pure mages sacrifice tons of offensive potential by casting a flesh spell at the beginning of combat. In general, Alteration spells are most useful for a character who in the long term wants to be more resistant to magic (the alteration perks magic resistance and atronach), a character planning to be able to paralyze their foes (a powerful effect), a pure mage who is not confident in their ability to avoid weapons based attacks and so uses flesh spells, or a warrior who dabbles in magic. They may also be useful to rogue-like characters using light armor to compensate for lower armor ratings, though such characters may use stealth to avoid combat altogether.


This section contains bugs related to Alteration (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  • The master spell Dragonhide may not increase the armor rating, at least not while wearing Dragonscale or Dragonplate armor. If the apparel is changed while under the effect of the Dragonhide spell, the armor rating may be brought down to one.
  • Casting the Waterbreathing spell while underwater can result in the spell not working.
  • Killing a paralyzed enemy may prevent it from being resurrected with conjuration spells.

See also[]