P02B: Reality Check - Things You Should Power Level Now
At this point in the game there are several things that we need to cover -- things that will make your life a LOT easier if you are aware of them... We will start with the four skills that will, if you power level them, make your life so much easier!
== Speech Skill -->
This is the first skill you should be serious about leveling because it is the key to your financial success in the world of Skyrim. Once you have mastered Speech you will need -- at a MINUMUM -- to unlock the perks Haggling (to Level 5), Allure, Merchant, and Investor. Basically the Haggling improves the prices you get when selling and buying by 30% -- Allure is on the path to Merchant, which allows you to sell any type of goods to ANY merchant, and finally Investor allows you to invest in a merchant thus permanently raising the amount of money they have to buy your stuff!
The good news is that you can very quickly level your Speech Skill -- though technically you will be exploiting a mistake in the game when you do it... But it was not YOUR mistake, so hey, bonus!
First, head over to Riften and visit the Black Briar Meadery.
Speak with the bloke at the counter (not Indaryn, you want to talk to Ungrien) and ask him to tell you about Maven Black-Briar... Use the Persuade option if you already have Speech to at least 26 -- otherwise bribe him until you get Speech to 26. Once you have done it once you can just sit there hitting 'A' over and over again to speed through the process. Every 4th of 5th iteration you gain a level! Just rinse and repeat and about half an hour later you are you are level 100 Speech!
A most excellent side-effect is you also gain character levels -- bearing in mind that this is a good thing. The mastery of Speech makes all that follows wicked easy...
== Smithing and Enchantment -->
You already know that your life will be a lot easier if you have a minimum of 60 Smithing -- actually you are better off at 100 Smithing because then you can make Legendary Armor and Weapons, and craft with Dragon Bones and Scales but that is a personal call.
What you probably have figured out by now though is that in addition to Smithing you also need to have Enchantment and Alchemy pretty far developed and a few other skills will not hurt - we covered Restoration, but then there is Destruction, and the other mage-skills. The point to this is that now is a really good time to take a break from the story and level some skills at least to useable levels -- 60 or so is the most common goal.
You can actually combine the process of leveling Smithing and Enchanting -- and here is how: first you need to visit the Blacksmith in Whiterun and check the weapons that he has for sale. If he has a weapon with the Soul Trap Enchantment then bonus! Buy it, take it to the Jarl's Palace, disenchant it to learn that enchantment, and then put it on a good weapon you can use to kill small animals.
If he does not have that type of weapon in stock go outside and wait for 48 hours (2 days) using the Wait Button (Back) and then check again. Keep doing that until he has the weapon you need.
Once you have a weapon with Soul Trap make the rounds of the vendors buying every empty Petty, Lesser, and Common Soul Gem you can get. Do not forget the Jarl's Wizard, he is a good source for them. When you have a fair number -- a couple dozen of each would work -- head out to the wilderness, arm your Soul Trap weapon, and start filling gems!
When you have them all filled, head back to the Smith and use his gear to make a bunch of Iron Daggers, then take the Iron Daggers to the Palace and enchant each one, then sell them to the Smith, and rinse and repeat, and you will very quickly cap off both skills with a lot more ease than you might think!
If you have already capped off Smithing but not Enchanting, a very easy method to do it is to go out soul trapping being sure to loot all the bandits you battle, then Enchanting all your loot and selling it, which in addition to gaining you mastery of Enchanting will also make you filthy rich!
Why is that important? Because it will not only gain your character levels, it will give you the two most important skills in the game for kitting yourself and your companions out! Right so that was the first thing you needed to know.
Gathering the Incredible Diversity of Resources
Take every resource you can find
== Alchemy -->
The second thing is Alchemy -- the Appendix that covers that in this guide shows you precisely which ingredients make which potions -- and as soon as you own your first house you should be routinely picking up every ingredient you come upon, and storing it in your chest in top of the bookshelf in your Alchemy Workshop so that, when you have a fair amount, you can run through all of the potions one by one to add them to the potion menu that you get when you use an Alchemy Bench.
The only way to get it leveled is to do it, so make as many potions as you have the stuff for, selling the ones you will not use, keeping the ones you will! You will want to focus on specific potions and so specific ingredients.
These potions give the best gains:
Damage Magicka Regen
Bear Claws, Blue Butterfly Wing, Blue Mountain Flower, Chicken Egg, Glow Dust, Hanging Moss, Nightshade, Spriggan Sap, Spider Egg
Damage Stamina Regen
Creep Cluster, Frost Mirriam, Giants Toe, Histcarp, Juniper Berries, Large Antlers, Silverside Perch, Skeever Tail, Wheat
Chaurus Eggs, Ice Wraith Teeth, Luna Moth Wing, Nirnroot, Vampire Dust
Briar Heart, Canis Root, Imp Stool, Swamp Fungal Pod
Deathbell, Large Antlers, River Betty, Salt Pile
You can actually combine this process with leveling the other skills as well, since you can pick up ingredients as you go about filling Soul Gems, right?
The 7000 Steps are a great place to pick up souls -- and as long as you have a companion with you a great place for Dragon encounters where you can bank a few of their souls as well! Considering that there is an Achievement for collecting 20 Dragon Souls, and you will need more than that to activate all of the Shouts, well, why not?
Leveling Skills with your Mudcrab
--== Armor Skills ==--
Unlike in the previous games your kit in Skyrim does not get damaged and does not need to be repaired, which is good because when you factor in that the benefits you get from armor are also Skill dependent it would really suck if it could get damaged because the only way to level your chosen armor skill is to get hit! Well, that and Skill Books and Skill Levelers. But still...
The benefits that your armor provides is directly related to your skill in that armor type -- and since you have mastered Smithing and Enchantment you are going to want to make a Legendary set of the armor of your choice, right? I went with Dragon Scale Armor (which is light armor) but regardless of your choice, you need to level the skill for your preferred armor.
The easiest and fastest way to do that is to head down to the river outside of Whiterun and find some Mudcrabs. Kill all but one of them -- if you have a companion have them wait far enough away so that they will not attack the Mudcrab you will use for this training...
Equip jewelry that is enchanted with Magicka Regeneration and set Fast Heal as your spell, then let the crab attack you over and over and over again, gaining skill in both your armor class AND in Restoration Magic the whole time! You can also level Block with the crab!
Remember, encounters in the game scale to your level, so if you level up your character a lot but fail to level the skills like armor and weapons, you are going to have a really hard time playing the game! Take a half-hour here and there and level your armor skill, you will be glad you did!
--== Strictly Voluntary Skill Leveling ==--
The following are not really mandatory but power leveling them will help you out later in the game, and the skills you leveled above will also make some of this easier...
== Pickpocket Skill -->
You say you are playing a Warrior or Mage, not a Thief? Well you still need to invest some time in raising this skill! Why? Because there are quests in the game that require you to either pick a pocket or to plant something on a person (the opposite of picking a pocket in other words) so you NEED this skill to be around 50 or so just to be safe!
The good news is that you can easily level it up for free! Here is how:
Now that you have leveled Enchanting you can put a high level of Pickpocket on your kit -- do that and it is nearly impossible to get caught! All that you need to once you have your Pickpocket Gear on is go to any town and start picking pockets -- just power on mates!
--== Things You Should Never Sell ==--
There are items in the game that you will acquire that are fairly rare and some are elements for quests. In particular this includes flawless gems and fire salt -- two things you should NEVER sell! You may also want to hold on to the Dragon Bones and Scales you acquire in slaying dragons because as you acquire new enchantments you will want to update your armor and that means making new pieces to enchant...
Ninroot is not as rare in this game as in the last, but it and Wheat are two very powerful ingredients for Alchemy, so you should not sell them.
Iron Ore should never be sold, and should never be made into ingots unless you actually NEED them. The reason for that is that you can use the Transmute Alteration Spell to convert the ore first to Silver Ore, and then to Gold Ore. Do that with every piece of Iron Ore you do not need, then turn the Gold Ore into ingots, and make jewelry -- rings and necklaces -- out of the ingots. Use the less powerful types of soul gems you get with your Soul Capture weapon to enchant them, and then sell them for a very fast and low-impact revenue stream. You can easily and quickly unlock the Achievement "Golden Touch" (30 GS) for having 100,000 gold on you at one time this way!