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Skyrim Mage Skills - how to max Destruction, Conjuration, Restoration, Illusion, and Alteration

The best, fastest ways to level 100 in Skyrim's Magicka-based Mage skills.

Mage Skills in Skyrim, despite being utterly essential to Magicka-based classes and character builds, are some of the hardest to level up. For the most part, that's because they simply aren't used often enough: one Alteration skill use for some Mage Armor before combat, when Alteration doesn't level any faster than a multi-use school like, say, Destruction, means your level's going to increase at an absolute crawl.

Fortunately, now that you have maximum level Enchanting - you did read our Power-Levelling guide and Crafting Skills guide, right? - all of the below skills which require magicka to cast are much easier to power-level. Unlock all of the Perks for 'Enchanter', 'Corpus Enchanter', and 'Insightful Enchanter' and enchant yourself a set of armor or clothing - head, hands, chest and feet - which has the enchantment of 25% reduction in magicka cost for the skill you have in mind. With all four pieces combined, you'll be able to cast spells for free in that school, meaning you can infinitely cast them for power-levelling.

Below, we take you through the best, most efficient ways to spam your spells for levelling each school of magic.

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The fastest way to level Alteration, Conjuration, and Destruction

How to reach level 100 Alteration

With the 100% magicka cost reduction enchantment mentioned above, there's a very easy way to get this skill to maximum level.

  • Cast the Telekinesis spell on a random item, and whilst holding down the cast button, fast-travel to the furthest possible point on the map. Because the game processes your journey to the new location as if you've been travelling there on foot, and because your magicka now never runs out, it will massively level up your Alteration skill, thinking you've been casting Telekinesis for hours of in-game time.
  • If this mini-glitch doesn't work for you, you can also simply dual-cast the spell on an item and leave your triggers held down for several hours, and you'll have been levelling up the entire time manually.

How to reach level 100 Conjuration

Conjuration is very slow to level up organically, but fortunately it's pretty fast to power level.

  • Simply cast Soul Trap on either a corpse (of any NPC, even creatures) or the ever-durable mount Shadowmere, who is obtained via the Dark Brotherhood questline. It's a rapid way to level, although it's also considered a bug by some.
  • Alternatively, you can continuously use the spell Bound Weapon whilst in combat. Pick a fight with something easy to avoid, like Slaughterfish, and stay nearby. You can resummon the weapon as soon as you hear the noise it makes on activating the spell, making it very easy to repeat at high speed.

How to reach level 100 Destruction

Another fairly easy one to level, Destruction can also be combined with Restoration when used against foes like Shadowmere which won't turn hostile, but can be healed.

  • Shadowmere's the victim again here, as simply dual-casting Destruction spells on the indestructable horse (or any other indestructable or 'essential' character which won't turn hostile) is the fastest way to grind it to maximum.
  • Destruction's XP yields depend on both the base cost of the spell and the damage inflicted on the target, and therefore changing the difficulty won't actually affect your XP yields either way.

Want more help with Skyrim? Find out how to join every guild and faction, how to earn Gold fast, learning about XP and levelling to 100, max Crafting skills, max Warrior skills, max Thief skills and max Mage skills, how to get married, where to buy a house, how to start Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC expansions. If you're on PC, we have a list of console commands and cheats, and you can learn about the remastered version and how to install mods with our Skyrim guide. Finally, with Switch owners, we have Skyrim amiibo support explained to help unlock special Zelda-themed items.

The fastest way to level Illusion and Restoration

How to reach level 100 Illusion

There are a couple of ways to very quickly level Illusion, particuarly with the above enchantments fortifying the skill.

  • Firstly, you can cast Rally on NPCs without turning them hostile, meaning that spamming it in heavily-populated areas is a fast way to level. Second, you can also cast Rout and Pacify on a single enemy, equipping one spell to each hand.
  • As noted on the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages wiki, it's often wise to cast it on someone in an enclosed space, to avoid a bounty and stop them from moving away whilst you spam your spells.

How to reach level 100 Restoration

You'll need to actually heal damage to level your Restoration skill, meaning you can't simply run about healing yourself when already at full health. Some methods we've encountered include:

  • Dual-casting the Alteration spell Equilibrium, which converts your health into magicka, with a strong Restoration spell.
  • You can also use Shadowmere once again, by damaging her with destruction in one hand and healing with another.
  • Restoration can be combined well with Heavy or Light Armor skill levelling, as you can take damage from enemies at a similar level to your character and continuously heal at the same time.
  • Dwemer Ruins often house flamethrower traps, which deal continuous damage which can be healed infinitely with Restoration, as does the wind in certain areas by High Hrothgar.
  • It's also possible to repeatedly cast spells such as Circle of Protection and Guardian Circle anywhere - although they give you more experience if anything classed as undead (including you and followers if you're vampires, for instance) is inside the circle.

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Chris Tapsell

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Chris Tapsell is Eurogamer's Deputy Editor and most decorated Football Manager. He used to write guides, and will send you links to his favourite spreadsheets if you ask him about League of Legends or competitive Pokémon.