Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls
For this skill in other games, see Speechcraft.

The skill of persuasion can be used to get better prices from merchants and persuade others to do as you ask.

"Heard about you and your honeyed words..."
Hold Guard[src]

Speech is a skill in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and is one of the six skills that falls under The Thief playstyle. This skill is a combination of both Speechcraft and Mercantile skills of previous Elder Scrolls games and replaces them. Speech may also help with quests by unlocking special dialogue interactions, including Intimidate, Persuade, Bribe, Mock, Brawl, and more.

Governing Guardian Stones: The Thief Stone

Usefulness and function

Speech directly affects the prices paid when buying from and selling to merchants, even without the assorted perks. At 0 Speech, merchants sell items for 3 times their base price, and buy for a third of their base price. At 100 Speech, merchants will sell items for twice their base price and buy them for half as much. Alternatively, Speech can be used to persuade people into doing things or divulging crucial information. Bribes made are also governed by Speech. There are 65 male and 45 female merchants in Skyrim, so Dragonborns interested in Allure have an advantage if they choose to be female.

Types of Speech

  • Persuade
  • Intimidate
  • Brawl
  • Bribe
  • Barter (buy/sell)


The following are the perks that become available to select as the skill is leveled up:

Perk (Ranks) Requirements Description
Haggling (5) Buying and selling prices are 10% better (+5% per additional rank)
Allure Speech 30, Haggling 10% better prices with the opposite sex
Bribery Speech 30, Haggling Can bribe guards to ignore crimes
Merchant Speech 50, Allure Can sell any type of item to any kind of merchant
Persuasion Speech 50, Bribery Persuasion attempts are 30% easier
Investor Speech 70, Merchant Can invest 500 gold with a shopkeeper to increase their available gold permanently †
Intimidation Speech 70, Persuasion Intimidation is twice as successful
Fence Speech 90, Investor Can barter stolen goods with any merchant the Dragonborn has invested in
Master Trader Speech 100, Fence Every merchant in the world gains 1000 gold for bartering

† The way Investor seems to work is that the 500 gold ends up in the shopkeeper's personal inventory rather than the store inventory. Also, it seems like any gold in the shopkeeper's personal inventory is added to the store gold when calculating how much they can buy. This means two things:

  1. Gold can be pickpocketed from them. This means the store will not have 500 Gold when their inventory refreshes. Stealing from them does not lower their disposition.
  2. Gold can be reverse-pickpocketed onto them to increase the investment effect. Also, placing gold is much easier than taking it. This can create shopkeepers with a very high amount of gold.


See also: Fortify Barter

Prices are computed by the following:

sell price factor = (3.3 - 1.3 * skill/100) / ((1 + Haggling %) * (1 + Allure %) * (1 + Fortify Barter from potion) * (1 + the sum of Fortify Barter from equipment + Fortify Barter from Blessing of Zenithar))
buy price factor = (3.3 - 1.3 * skill/100) * (1 / (1 + Haggling %)) * (1 / (1 + Allure %)) * (1 - Fortify Barter from potion) * (1 - the sum of Fortify Barter from equipment - Fortify Barter from Blessing of Zenithar)
sell price = value / sell price factor
buy price = value * buy price factor
  • At 0 skill and no perks the price factor is 3.3
  • At 100 skill and no perks the price factor is 2
  • At 100 skill and all perks the price factor is 1.42857.

Skills over 100 have no effect.


The speech skill increase depends on the base value of the item traded or the difficulty of the bribe or persuasion. When selling items, it is not actually required to receive any gold, only that the transaction takes place. The skill increase only occurs once per transaction. In order to optimize leveling, expensive items in groups of 6 or more should be sold individually, rather than all at once.


The following books provide a permanent one-time increase to the Dragonborn's Speech skill. See each book's page for a list of possible locations.


The following quests increase or help to increase the Speech skill:


Leveling tips

Bribing guards

Members of the Thieves Guild have the option to bribe guards when minor crimes are committed. Repeatedly committing small crimes, such as trespassing or pickpocketing, and bribing guards to look the other way can help level Speech quickly. Gold spent bribing a guard can be pickpocketed back easily with a high enough pickpocket skill.

Persuading guards

Similar to the above method, after progressing far enough into the Thieves Guild questline, the Dragonborn can commit a minor crime, such as failed pickpocketing or stealing. Once the crime has been committed, the Dragonborn can go up to a guard and initiate the "Wait, I know you." dialogue. Any option (aside from resisting or submitting to arrest) should be available to persuade them to overlook it. Though the guards says they will not let it slide the next time, they will never attack or arrest the Dragonborn (unless the submit or resist dialogue option was chosen).

Note: This will not remove the bounty, it will just stop the conversation peacefully, while slightly improving Speech. This can then be done to all of the guards in a Hold, but it should not be repeated on the same guard, as this can cause the option to go away. Instead, all the guards should be cycled through with the dialogue. This is especially useful at medium-high levels, since nothing has to be paid or sold, and the risk is practically zero.

Learning bonuses

Wearing the Aetherial Crown, obtain the blessings from the Lover Stone and the Thief Stone, and combine with Gift of the Gab and any rested bonuses (remove crown/lover stone before resting) will make leveling up Speech even faster (65% with the rested lover's comfort bonus, 60% with well rested). Note that only the Lover and Thief Stones, and Gift of the Gab may be used if the Dragonborn is infected with lycanthropy, as werewolves do not benefit from resting bonuses.

Repeatedly buying and selling

To increase the efficiency of this method get all the learning bonuses above, sell items in groups of 6 or more individually, get a necklace with the Fortify Barter enchantment or an Amulet of Zenithar, activate the Shrine of Zenithar, get The Gift of Charity and take a Haggling potion.

Get a large amount of high value items, in total the value should be tens of thousands of Septims or more. Stolen items are fine. If you have a large pile of otherwise useless items as the result of levelling Alchemy, Enchanting, Pickpocketing or Smithing that is perfect. Keep in mind that you will sacrifice these items to level Speech. Find a merchant who accepts your items. If your items are stolen this should be a fence and if you get better prices from the opposite sex make sure your merchant is. Now sell them items until the merchant runs out of gold. Now buy one or two items back. You will probably pay several times more than they gave you for it, but the seller has gold again. Sell the merchant some more items until they run out of gold again. Repeat this until you run out of items. This allows you to work around the otherwise limited gold merchants have because you are effectively giving it to them.

Persuade the toll road bandit

A bandit at Valtheim Towers will tell the Dragonborn that the road they are on is a toll road, and will demand for 200Gold. An option to persuade and pay only 50Gold is available. It can be repeated every time when using the road, and will always increase the Dragonborn's Speech skill if the persuasion is used successfully.

Persuade and intimidate Calcelmo

Those who deliver a Dwemer item to Calcelmo may both persuade/intimidate for a better deal and exit the conversation before selecting either, "Sold. Here you go. (Gain ___ gold)," or, "Not good enough. I'll hold onto this. You'll need to find another one." Intimidation requires 40 Speech to be successful; persuading requires 50. Each option can be performed once per item brought to him.

Leveling tips (glitches)

Ahkari's merchant inventory

In Dawnstar, Ahkari's merchant inventory can be accessed through a glitch (see page for details). After placing all gold in the chest, all the items in inventory can be sold to the merchant. Doing this will give back the gold put into the chest. Afterward, the items can be retrieved from the chest and the process repeated forever. The net is no change to gold or items, but an increase in Speech skill.

Intimidate Anton Virane

During the Dark Brotherhood quest "Recipe for Disaster," Anton Virane can be intimidated repeatedly to level Speech. This can be accomplished by:

  1. When talking with him, after saying, "For the Dark Brotherhood, that can be easily arranged. (Intimidate)," he will respond, "The Dark Brotherhood?."
  2. If the conversation is immediately exited, the Dragonborn can begin to talk to him again and quickly skip through most of the conversation.
  3. Exiting the conversation at the same time as before increases Speech.

This can be repeated forever.

Intimidating Sabjorn

During the "Dampened Spirits" quest, the Dragonborn can loop a conversation with Sabjorn to quickly level Speech. To do this:

  1. A conversation with Sabjorn can be started (this must be during the quest).
  2. When Sabjorn says that the Dragonborn will not be paid until the job is done, the intimidate option can be chosen.
  3. The conversation should be immediately exited when he begins his sentence (PC = Esc or Tab).
  4. This can be repeated as needed.

Intimidate Nelacar

During the Daedric quest "The Black Star," the Dragonborn can continually intimidate Nelacar in the Inn in Winterhold. When he asks "Who sent you?" choose the Intimidate option and immediately exit the conversation. This can be repeated indefinitely.

Persuade Ungrien

At anytime the Dragonborn can enter the Black-Briar Meadery where you will encounter the shop attendant Ungrien. Confront him and then repeatably persuade him to tell the truth about how he feels about his employer Maven Black-Briar. This glitch can be repeated indefinitely.


  1. You must have at least a Speech level of 25 to make him cough up the truth, if not then you can use the bribery option until persuasion is effective. If persuasion is not effective then Speech is not increased.
  2. This bug has been apparently fixed by means of version 1.9, however, if in offline mode on Xbox 360 or you have neglected to accept this patch or any before it. Then the glitch will be operational.

Persuade Ulfric Stormcloak

During the quest "Season Unending", Ulfric Stormcloak can be persuaded to attend the peace council. If immediately left in dialogue following the persuasion attempt, the option can be used again.


Some items increase the Speech skill or bartering. These include:

In addition, two blessings can be granted:


Snake Tongue (Achievement).png
Snake Tongue
Successfully persuade, bribe, and intimidate
Points 10 Gamer points.svg
Trophy Bronze trophy

See also