1.07.2012

How to Exploit Skyrim's Power-Window for Destruction Magic

By now we're all hip to the various methods to "power-level" certain skills, but where's the fun in sneak attacking Hadvar near that bear for an hour when you'll surely level that skill in your forthcoming quests anyhow? Here's the thing, though... some skills seem all but entirely off-limits to certain play styles. Myself, I'm more archery-oriented, though I do use both one- and two-handed weapons along with blocking to garner all-important perks from their skill-ups. Thereby does magic become a tricky field - in building the best archer possible I focus on health and stamina bonuses with each level-up, leaving magicka by the wayside. With magicka-fortified armor and whatnot it isn't an impossibility to level certain schools over time, and restoration is practically a must if only for the oh-so-basic "healing" spell that slowly but surely reaches its skill peak, but if there's one school that's essentially off-limits for the physical battler, it's destruction.

Well, it was off-limits until I stumbled upon this little window of opportunity in the College of Winterhold's main questline. Once my second character reached the "Staff of Magnus" chapter (immediately following the return from dealing with the Synod in Mzulft) I discovered during the onslaught of magical anomalies upon Winterhold that my magicka meter wasn't appearing whenever I cast minor restoration magic. In further testing I realized the same was the case for minor destruction spells. My magicka would still deplete when casting more powerful spells and I was still restricted from spells costing more than my full pool, but the replenish time was exponentially increased (think stamina in werewolf mode). I never noticed this on my first character, and even distinctly recall using potions instead of healing magic during that chapter for whatever reason so if the same was the case (thereby likely for many, though there is little indication of as much in-game and I haven't found like reports online) I simply did not recognize it. It makes sense story-wise, too, since the Synod imply the Eye of Magnus is affecting magic across Skyrim and Ancano's meddling surely doesn't help contain it.

NOTE: I do find that after several game saves the ability fades. I presume it's either a beneficial glitch occurring at an appropriate time and only lasting approximately two game days, or it's reliant on how near or far you are from Winterhold (this theory of proximity I have not tested).

Why is this such a big deal? Well, of course, now (until the Staff of Magnus chapter is completed, anyway) you can cast unlimited minor destruction magic! Here's what I did to max my archer's destruction in under two hours:

- Assign Healing to one hand, Frostbite to the other
- Approach Nightcaller Temple (above Dawnstar) to engage three Frost Trolls
- Simultaneously cast your two spells while bobbing and weaving through the Trolls' attacks

WHY THIS WORKS
To level up destruction, your spell requires a valid target. What's more, Trolls (the Frost variety being the hardiest Skyrim has to offer) regenerate health (but are weak to fire, which is why we're not using Flames here) so with care these guys can provide nearly unlimited skilling. You don't have to go to Nightcaller Temple - Labyrinthian (where the Staff of Magnus rests, coincidentally) or other Frost Troll-infested locales would surely work fine, too - I just like the open space the hillside approaching the temple provides.

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO TRY...
If you haven't maxed them already, equip an assortment of heavy and light armor and stop on occasion to let the gorilla-like trolls bash on you for a bit. Not only will this increase your capacity for restoration skill-ups, it'll obviously give you some heavy and light armor skill-ups as well. That's four skills being power-leveled at once!

BUT BE CAREFUL...
Don't space out from the potential repetition of this practice and lose track of your health or the health of the trolls. Not only do you not want to die by letting yourself get pummeled a little too much, you don't want to lose your skill fodder by going a little too crazy with the Frostbite, either. You'll also want to avoid using something like Boethiah's Ebony Mail (a mistake I realized I was making when one of the three trolls suddenly collapsed before me despite my having relented for the moment).


Hope this helps! Enjoy those extra perks!

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