Quick Look: Alteration
The higher your Alteration skill, the less Alteration spells will cost. This spell tree contains armor spells such as Stoneflesh, illuminating spells like Candlelight and other useful spells like Waterbreathing and Paralysis.
Alteration is the first spell skill you’ll encounter in this guide (alphabetical organization, hooray!), so let’s cover one thing about spells that will significantly affect perk picks for all spells. You can create equipment (helmet, armor, ring and necklace) that can cumulatively reduce the Magicka cost of a school of that spell school to nothing. This basically eliminates the need for any of the perks that reduce the Magicka cost of a spell. You want to use spell from a specific spell skill? Fine, perfectly reasonable choice, but you’re better off just crafting armor that makes those spells free than bother with any o the Magicka-reducing perks… unless you just have to pick them along the way to something better, of course. This applies to all spell skills.
The Alteration skill itself consists of two types of spells; a variety of handy, if unrelated spells that help you navigate the world, and defensive armor spells. In the former categery you have spells like Detect Life (makes living things glow), Candlelight and Magelight (provide illumination) and Waterbreathing, which is self-explanatory. The latter variety tend to end in the word "flesh", and exist to boost your armor rating… presumably because mages wear robes, hence making them more vulnerable to damage. Of course, nothing stops you from actually wearing armor, and the lure of various robes you’ll find that reduce your Magicka expenditure and increase Magicka regeneration are poor inducements to don such gear. All in all, it’s easier to just wear armor (especially armor that’s been improved to peak quality with a combination of crafting gear, Potions of Fortify Smithing and a maxed Smithing Skill Level) than to keep casting your defenses. Mass Paralysis, on the other hand, is just a great spell, if you can afford to cast it - and it doesn’t require a single perk to reach optimum effectiveness.
Despite the rather lackluster nature of many Alteration spells, the tree is worth investing in solely because of the passive defensive perks found within. The perk "Magic Resistance" will give you 10% magic resistance per rank (three ranks total), which just outright blocks 10% of a spell’s damage per rank. That’s good stuff, and it’ll go a long way towards getting you to the magic resistance cap of 80%. All in all, however, it’s a five point perk investment (you have to pick up the useless "Novice Alteration" and "Apprentice Alteration" perks along the way), so you’ll need to level up qutie a bit to fit this in.
If you’re able to expend another three perk picks and reach an Alteration Skill Level of 100 you’ll be able to grab the "Atronach" perk, which allows you to "Absorb 30% of the magicka of any spells that hit you." The description is misleading - it really gives you a 30% chance to negate a spell entirely and add its Magicka cost to your Magicka total. It’s calculated before checking your magic resistance and any applicable elemental resistances, and basically provides a third wall of defense against magic. A very good perk pick, indeed.
There are two fine ways to level up Alteration quickly, and it’s one of the faster leveling spell schools… which is good, because it’s a skill most people should want to invest in. Find some enemies that don’t have a ranged attack, get on a cliff, ledge, or other higher ground they can’t reach and cast spells while they’re hostile to you. Giants make a fine target, since there are a number of sites where you can get higher ground where they can’t touch you. To level up Alteration, pick a such a fight, go where you can’t be hurt, and double-cast defensive spells (Oakflesh, Stoneflesh, Ebonlyflesh, etc.) Alternatively, and perhaps more simply, you can just dip your toes into any body of water and cast Waterbreathing. Don’t have to be in combat or anything, just… make sure you’re in contact with the water and you should gain experience.
|Melaran||Adept (Lv. 15 - 50)||Solitude, Blue Palace|
|Dravynea the Stoneweaver||Expert (Lv. 51 - 75)||Kynesgrove (south of Windhelm)|
|Tolfdir||Master (Lv. 76 - 90)||College of Winterhold|