The School of Alteration involves the manipulation of the physical world and its natural properties. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Waterbreathing, magical protection, and Paralysis.

Alteration is a skill in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and is one of the six skills that falls under The Mage play-style. Alteration skill raises by using certain kinds of spells; these spells identify themselves as Alteration spells. The Alteration skill can also be advanced by paying a trainer (see below).


Alteration spells include the ability to envelope oneself in Magic Armor, detect entities either by illumination of the area or by magically sensing their presence; the ability to temporarily stun foes (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 learned through Spell Tomes. Open Lock spells have been removed.


Main article: Skill Book (Skyrim)

Alteration Spell Book

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.


The following Quests increase the Alteration Skill:

There is a quest in order to obtain the master level Alteration spells:

  • Tolfdir, at the College of Winterhold, gives the player the quest Alteration Ritual Spell, which allows for the purchase of Master-level Spell Tomes when the Dragonborn's Alteration reaches level 90.


The following is a complete list of Alteration spells:

Rank Skill Level Requirement Spell Name Description Magicka Base Cost
Novice 0 Candlelight Creates a hovering light that lasts for 60 seconds. 21

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 25 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 50 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 75 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 100 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

*Special Spells

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.

Note: Unlike other protection spells, such as Ironflesh or Ebonyflesh, Dragonhide is not affected by the Mage Armor perk, so the player can use light or heavy armor without losing any bonus of the spell.


The following are the perks that become available to select 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 2x as strong if not wearing armor (+0.5x per additional rank)
Magic Resistance (3) Alteration 30/50/70, Apprentice Alteration Blocks 10%/20%/30% of a spells effect.

Note:Magic resistance does not stop friendly spells from affecting the player.
See also: Breton, Agent of Mara and The Lord Stone for a method of achieving 95% 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 Absorb 30% of the magicka of any spells that hit you

Note: Magicka absorption will block friendly spells as well as hostile ones.
See also: The Atronach Stone, Ward Absorb and Dragonskin for methods of attaining 100% magicka absorption.

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



One can easily level up Alteration with these tactics:

  • With 100 Enchanting, it is possible to enchant armor to reduce Alteration spell magicka usage (Fortify Alteration effect) to 0. With this armor equipped, it is a simple matter to raise the skill using virtually any spell.
  • If the player has a Telekinesis (Adept) spell, then he or she can use it repeatedly to boost up their alteration spell really quickly. However, it is very magicka-costly, unless the player has a lowered magicka usage. You can just wait an hour every time you run out, and face a wall so when the item is thrown it doesn't hit anyone or get lost. A good spot to train using this method is the top of Winterhold College accessible through the Arch-Mages Quarters. You can also play "catch" by looking directly upwards and casting Telekinesis over and over with an object.
  • Casting Magelight and Candlelight as often as possible provides a slow but easy flow of experience. Since these spell levels are Novice-level, they are easily attained early on.
  • The player can use Transmute Mineral Ore to convert Iron Ore into Gold Ore (Iron -> Silver -> Gold) after purchasing the starting ore from a blacksmith. From there, the player may craft Gold jewelry to repay the losses. This method is time-consuming, but using Magicka Regen items or the Highborn Power (exclusive to Altmer) helps the process. Enchanting obtained items will increase prices, thus rewarding the player with Alteration, Smithing, Enchanting and Speech experience.
  • Casting Detect Life is a very quick way to level Alteration. The more "Life" the Dragonborn detects, the faster this method works. Such areas are: the marketplaces in Whiterun and Riften, The Winking Skeever in Solitude, the lower level of The Bannered Mare in Whiterun at night, and the The Ragged Flagon (if player has restored the Thieves Guild). Alternately, if the player has chosen to side with the Stormcloaks, the Blue Palace in Solitude will be full of the Jarls and their Housecarls from the various territories the player has conquered. Waiting one hour to restore Magicka or equipping items that give extra Magicka is beneficial to this method also. Four items enchanted with 25% casting cost reduction allows continuous casting with zero cost but requires 100 enchanting skill to create.
  • Standing in shallow water and repeatedly casting Waterbreathing also raises the Dragonborn's level.
  • Wearing Master Robes of Alteration, Morokei (Mask), The Apprentice Stone, and an Amulet of Akatosh, the player can achieve a base 375% magicka regen. This can be brought even higher with an enchanted ring of magicka regen depending on enchanting skill.
  • Repeatedly casting Stoneflesh next to an immobile enemy (like the caged wolves in Cragslane Cavern) quickly levels Alteration up (Level 100 in very little time with no perks invested in the skill).
    • 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 the quest sends the player there. Note, however, that there should be two caged wolves immediately outside of Cragslane cavern, which may be used for this purpose without triggering the bug.
    • Alternatively one could go to Bloodlet Throne southwest of Helgen and practice spells with the vampires on the other side of the barricade.
  • The player can also repeatedly cast Paralysis on a follower. They will not turn hostile, and he skill will increase very quickly. Note, however, that Paralysis is an Expert level spell, so this technique can only be used once this skill level has been achieved by the player.
    • Using Morokei, Archmage robes and anything else that lowers the cost of spells and running around Attainment hall paralyzing your fellow mages is a very entertaining way to quickly level during the later stages. They wont hold your training against you.
  • At 100 Enchanting, it is possible to craft a set of Fortify Alteration gear that completely negates magicka cost for Alteration spells. Casting Telekinesis on any object and holding it there will result in leveling from 15-100 in about 2 minutes.

See also


  • The master spell Dragonhide doesn't increase the armor rating, at least not while wearing dragonscale or dragonplate armor. If changing the apparel while being under the effect of the Dragonhide spell, the armor rating will be brought down to 1.
  • Casting the Waterbreathing spell while underwater can result in the spell not working. It is currently not known what causes this.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Alteration (Skyrim)

  • Best race for alteration

    6 messages
    • All races level through all skills the same, if that's what you mean. Most of the racial limitations have been removed. 
    • Where personally I go Breton with play through because they have magicka resistance and bonus stats to I think all magic stats as well making t...
  • Atronach

    4 messages
    • I did the legendary thing, will be a long time but im pretty sure it'll work. Thanks!
    • if you are playing on PC type "player.getav absorbchance". If it returns "80" everything is as it should be.
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