This page details an overview of the Alteration skill in Skyrim, including recommended perks, leveling tips, and where to find Alteration trainers.
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, so we’ll cover one thing about spells that will significantly impact recommended perks for all spells. You can create equipment (helmet, armor, ring and necklace) which cumulatively reduce the Magicka cost of a spell school to nothing. This basically eliminates the need for any of the perks that reduce the Magicka cost of a spell. This means that you’re ultimately better off crafting armor which makes spell costs free, rather than investing in any of the Magicka-reducing perks, unless they’re required in the tree to obtain better perks. This applies to all spell skills.
The Alteration skill itself consists of two types of spells which can be distinguished between those that are essentially handy tools (primarily used to help you navigate the world), and defensive armor spells. In the former category you have spells like Detect Life (makes living things glow), Candlelight and Magelight (both provide illumination) and Waterbreathing, which allows you to breath under water. The defensive armor spells 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.
The armor spells may have some limited use early on, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t wear actual armor over mage robes, especially when most robes tend to have bonuses which reduce Magicka expenditure and increase Magicka regeneration, making them largely redundant in light of what we’ve mentioned above with regard to crafting armor which eliminates Magicka costs. This means that ultimately, it’s easier to wear armor - especially armor that has been improved to peak quality with a combination of crafting gear, potions of fortify smithing, and a maxed smithing skill level - than to rely on casting defensive spells.
Despite the rather lacklustre nature of many Alteration spells, the tree is worth investing in solely because of the passive defensive perks it has to offer. 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 quite a bit to fit this in.
If you’re able to expend another three perk points 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 indeed.
There are two good 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 good target, since there are a number of sites where you can get to higher ground where they can’t touch you. To level up Alteration, pick 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. You don’t have to be in combat for this, just make sure you’re in contact with the water and you should gain experience.
Alteration Trainer Locations
|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|