Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Chain Lightning is an Adept level destruction spell in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Chain Lightning has the unique ability to bounce or "arc" off of surfaces or characters to hit a target behind or around an obstacle. This spell may arc to followers if they are too close to the impact location.

Damage capacity[]

Chain lightning delivers a minimum of 40 points of damage to the target, or 60 points if the Dragonborn has Augmented Shock x 2. Chain lightning deals damage to a target's Magicka equal to half the damage done to health, so 20 points is done to magicka.



This spell is effective against multiple low level and low health enemies such as skeevers, skeletons, and novice mages. It almost always kills the group of enemies in one cast under this condition. Because this spell strikes multiple clustered targets, followers can be struck and killed by Chain Lightning.

Also, Chain lightning continues to arc even if the initial cast misses. This allows it to hit targets around corners that the caster does not have a direct line of sight to. It can also bypass the ward of a mage if it is shot behind the mage and arcs to hit the mage from behind.

Spell tome[]

Destruction Spell Tome


  • Weight: 1 WeightIcon.png
  • Value: 390 Gold
  • See Spell Tome for a complete table of spell tomes, their descriptions, and their values.


Notable users[]


  • If casting this spell at the sky, it will make the sky turn a light blue color for a few seconds, as if it were struck by lightning.
  • It is not advisable to use this spell when you have a follower with you as the spell can harm the follower as well if there is only one enemy in the room. This can also cause the follower to become hostile.
  • When casting this spell and missing an opponent, it may bounce off a nearby wall or ground, hitting them in the back and throwing their body towards you when killed.
  • Casting this spell around non-hostile characters (such as goats and chickens on a farm) can generate large bounties, due to the unpredictable bounce of the spell.


This section contains bugs related to Chain Lightning. 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  , 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.
  • Possible bug involving the magic anomaly in College of Winterhold quest line. Can cause errors if switching magic during the quest.confirmation needed
  •  360   Chain Lightning no longer throws/tosses/launches its targets into the air. It just seems to stop them and they will drop.
  •  360   If the Dragonborn has taken the perk Disintegrate, even dragons can be turned to ash, although the ash pile is not any larger than any other creature's. Depending on the terrain, this can make it appear as though the dragon has disappeared. This does not affect the absorbing of the dragon's soul.
    • Even without the perk Disintegrate, it is possible to turn a few enemies into ash with this spell even if they were only hit by the spell after it bounced off a different enemy.

See also[]