Skyrim race abilities and perks revealed!

As the months turn into weeks, more and more information on Skyrim starts to flow much like the waters of the majestic Jerall River.  The upcoming sequel in the long line of Elder Scrolls games is getting ready for a huge launch in November, and what better way to hype up fans (myself included) than by releasing more information on the game’s updated leveling system.

First let’s start off with the Racial abilities.  They’ve always been in Elder Scroll games, and have always made choosing a starting race a hard decision.  That coupled with choosing the right sign and skills, made sure every character you played as unique as the last.  In Skyrim, most of those things (except signs) remain, and with some improvements.  For example, a lot of the races in the older games seemed weaker than others.  Skyrim changes that by giving each race a more balanced ability(s) to make playing the game in general more fun.  Here’s a rundown of the racial abilities in total.

  • ORCS: Beserker
  • REDGUARDS: Adrenaline Rush
  • WOOD ELF: Resist poison, resisit disease, command animals
  • NORD: Battlecry
  • KHAJIIT: Night-eye, claw attacks
  • IMPERIAL: Voice of the Emperor, find more coins when looting
  • HIGH ELF: Regenerate Magicka more quickly
  • DARK ELF: Ancestor’s Wrath (surround self in fire), resist fire
  • BRETON: Dragonskin (absorb spells), resist shock
  • ARGONIANS: Histskin (regenerate health quickly), resist disease, breathe underwater

Interesting to see the change in Khajit’s and Dunmer.  The ability to forgo a melee weapon for your own claws adds a sense of bestial wrath to the race, and the Dunmer ability to set yourself on fire is just… Awesome.  Also note the key abilities that were not changed.  Argonian disease resistance and Wood Elf animal commanding stay in play, putting a smile on fans of the older games.

Up next is the Perk trees that each skill retains.  Leveling up a skill let’s you unlock these perks, giving your characters an even more customized and unique feel.


  • Buying and selling price 10% better (5 ranks)
  • 10% price buying from opposite sex
  • Invest in shops and increase available gold permanently in invested stores
  • Master Trader – every merchant in world gains 1000 gold for bartering
  • Buy and sell from any merchant regardless of what they normally buy and sell
  • Intimidation attempts twice as successful
  • Persuasion attempts more likely successful


  • Potions 20% stronger (5 ranks)
  • Potions for restore health, magicka or stamina are 25% more powerful (maybe ranked)
  • Poisons 25% more effective (maybe ranked)
  • Poisons last for twice as many hits
  • Two ingredients are gathered from plants
  • 50% resistance to all poisons
  • All negative effects removed from potions and all positive removed from poisons
  • 2 effects of an ingredient are revealed when testing it for the first time (instead of just one)


  • Dual casting overcharges effect for more powerful spell
  • Cast Novice spells for 50% less magicka
  • Cast Apprentice spells for 50% less magicka
  • Cast Adept, Expert, Master etc spells for 50% less magicka (more levels this time around)
  • Spells work on higher level animals
  • Spells work on higher level people
  • All spellcasting (from ANY school) is done silently
  • Spells work on undead, daedra and automatons
  • Fear spells work on higher level enemies


  • Novice for 50% magicka etc (up to Master)
  • Dual casting overcharges –> greater spell effect
  • Bound weapons do more damage
  • Bound weapons cast Soul Trap on target
  • Bound weapons banish certain creatures
  • Reanimate undead with 100 more health
  • Summon 2 Atronachs or reanimated zombies
  • Summon Atronachs at twice the distance
  • Summoned Atronachs twice as strong


  • More damage for each school (fire, frost and shock) – ranked
  • Novice for 50% magicka etc.
  • Shock damage chance to disintegrate targets if their health is under 10%
  • Frost damage chance to paralyse targets if health low
  • Fire damage chance to make low health enemies flee
  • Place runes 5x farther away


  • Healing spells also restore stamina
  • Novice for 50% less magicka etc
  • Healing spells do 50% more healing
  • Recharging healing spells
  • More is recharged with each hit with healing spells (unclear)
  • Spells more effective against undead
  • Once a day chance to autocast 250HP restoration when health drops low
  • Magicka regenerates 25% faster


  • Novice for 50% less etc
  • Alteration spells have greater duration (ranked)
  • Absorb 30% magicka that hits you


  • Enchants are 20% stronger (ranked)
  • Enchanted armour 25% stronger
  • Death blows to creatures but not people trap souls for weapon recharge
  • Health, magicka and stamina enchants stronger
  • Extra effect on already-enchanted weapon can be applied
  • Shock, Frost and Fire enchants 25% stronger

Heavy Armor

  • Increase armor rating 20% (5 ranks)
  • Unarmed attacks with heavy armor gauntlets – damage increased by gauntlets’ armour rating
  • Half fall damage if all in heavy armor
  • Heavy armor weighs nothing and doesn’t slow you at all
  • Additional 25% armor if in matching set
  • 25% armor bonus if all in heavy armour
  • 50% less stagger if all in heavy armor
  • 10% damage reflected back to enemy if all in heavy armor

2-handed weapons

  • 2h weapons do 20% more damage (5 ranks)
  • Attacks with warhammers ignore 25% armour (ranked)
  • Attacks with battleaxes do extra bleeding damage (ranked)
  • Attacks with greatswords do extra critical damage (ranked)
  • Power attacks cost 25% less stamina
  • Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage, chance to decapitate
  • Sprinting power attacks do double (critical) damage
  • Sideways power attacks hit all targets
  • Backwards power attacks have 25% chance of paralysis


  • Bows do 25% more damage
  • Zoom in
  • Zooming slows time
  • 10% crit chance
  • Move faster with drawn bow
  • Recover twice as many arrows from dead bodies
  • 50% chance of paralyzing for few seconds
  • Draw bow 30% faster


  • 20% harder to detect (ranked)
  • Sneak attacks do 6x damage with 1h weapons
  • Sneak attacks with bows do 3x damage
  • Sneak attacks with daggers do 15x damage (end perk on skill tree)
  • Noise from armor reduced 50%
  • No longer activate pressure plates
  • Sprinting while sneaking performs silent forward roll
  • Running does not affect detection chance
  • Crouching can make hostile enemies lose sight of you and search for a target

Jeez.  If some of these perks were in Oblivion, they’d be down right overpowered.  However, to be fair, each skill seems to be pretty much on par with the next.  You can’t be an overpowered skill if every skill is just as powerful, can it?  In any case, Bethesda is giving the players a truck load of options when it comes down to character creation, and I’m all for it.  If you haven’t already, Pre-Order Skyrim here, and relax knowing your money went to something worth it.


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