The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Magic Guide: Alteration

Magic in Skyrim plays quite a big role, especially considering how many different things you are able to do by using it. In Skyrim magic comprises various types of spells, as well as Shouts and Races innate powers. Casting regular spells will be costing you Magicka points and by improving your skills in each magical branch you’ll be able to reduce the magicka cost of Novice, Apprentice, Adept, Expert, and Master spell types. Even if you’re not skilled at these spells you’ll still be able to cast them effectively: the only problem is that the Magicka cost will be quite high. Another way to decrease Magicka cost is through the use of robes.

If you’re looking at making your magic spells more powers you’ll have to use some special potion or use the Dual Casting skill which allows you to cast a spell with both hands: Magicka cost will be increased but also will the potency of the used spell.

Spells in Skyrim are learned by reading Spell Tomes: just use one of these tomes while it’s in your inventory and you’ll learn it, with the tome disappearing in the process. Spell tomes can be obtained from vendors and as loot: when tomes are found as loot they will be appropriate to the player’s skill level. The Spell tomes found in vendors are also randomly generated and the only way to a specific tome for sure is by going to the vendors at the College of Winterhold who offer the full selection of spells appropriate for the player’s skill level. You may also want to visit court wizards found in most of the game’s major holds to learn some of the spells.

These are the the Magic branches that we will be covering in these Skyrim Magic Guides: if you want to know the perks associated with these Magic branches you can check out our Skyrim Character Building guides, where we have covered all the available perks of the game.

  • Alteration
  • Conjuration
  • Destruction
  • Enchanting
  • Illusion
  • Restoration


The Alteration spells allow you to envelop yourself in Magic Armor, detect entities with magic and a few other special effects. Together with the usual leveling methods, you can level up Alteration by using these skill books

  • Breathing Water
  • Bravil: Daughter of the Niben
  • Reality & Other Falsehoods
  • Sithis
  • The Lunar Lorkhan

Here are all the Alteration spells:

  • Novice Spells

Creates a hovering light that lasts for 60 seconds.

Convert health into magicka at a rate of 25 points per second. Caster can be killed by this effect.
Improves the caster’s armor rating by 40 points for 60 seconds.

  • Apprentice Spells

Ball of light that lasts 60 seconds and sticks where it strikes.
Improves the caster’s armor rating by 60 points for 60 seconds.

  • Adept Spells

Ash Shell

Targets that fail to resist are immobilized in hardened ash for 30 seconds.
Detect Life

Nearby living creatures, but not undead, machines, or daedra can be seen through walls
Improves the caster’s armor rating by 80 points for 60 seconds.
Can pull an object to you from distance. Add it to your inventory or throw it.
Transmute one piece of unrefined Iron Ore to Silver, or Silver Ore to Gold, if the caster is carrying any.
Can breathe under water for 60 seconds.


  • Expert Spells

Ash Rune
Cast on a nearby surface, it explodes when enemies are nearby, immobilizing them in hardened ash for 30 seconds.
Detect Dead
Nearby dead can be seen through walls. 148 per second
Improves the caster’s armor rating by 100 points for 60 seconds.
ParalyzeTargets that fail to resist are paralyzed for 10 seconds.

  • Master Spells

Caster ignores 80% of all physical damage for 30 seconds.
Mass Paralysis
All targets in the area that fail to resist are paralyzed for 15 seconds.

To be able to buy Master Alteration spells you will have to complete the Alteration Ritual Spell quest once you reach 100 in Alteration.

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