Leveling occurs in two different ways: skill leveling and character leveling.
Skill leveling Edit
Skills increase in level by continued use. Generally the skill must be used to accomplish something. For example, casting a destruction spell against a wall does not help you gain levels.
- 10 x Current Skill Level
For example, to level a skill from level 15 to level 16, it costs 10 x 15 = 150 gold.
For pointers and spoilers on how to raise each skill in a fast way, see Skill leveling tips.
Character leveling Edit
Character leveling occurs when you level 10 times in any of your 7 major skills. You will first be required to sleep (not wait) and then your leveling window will appear. It gives you the ability to increase your character's Attributes. Depending on how many skill levels you gained in a specific attribute, you will gain a multiplier to gain additional attribute levels based on how many times you leveled a skill based in that attribute.
You get a +5 multiplier in each attribute for which the corresponding major and minor skills have been raised 10 points in any combination (4 blade, 4 hand to hand, 2 blunt, or 10 blade skill points, both allow +5 to strength, without regard to which is major and minor.) Ideally, to max 3 multipliers at +5, you will want to achieve 10 points each in skills related to 3 attributes, with a total of 10 points coming from major skills (or, to raise 2 modifiers by +5 and luck by +1, as luck has no corresponding skills, get 10 major and 10 minor skill points in 2 different attributes in any combination).
Increases in minor skills do not contribute to when your character levels, but they do contribute to your attribute multipliers.
Achieving your full potential Edit
To get the maximum attribute increase bonus of +5 for all three (or two if planning to max out luck) attributes, it takes a little planning (unless you download a leveling mod, the best choice for pc gamers).
It may seem counter intuitive, but you do not want to pick a skill that you will be using often (such as Blade or Blunt for melee fighters) as a major skill. If you do, you will not be able to control when that tenth major skill increase happens. Pick skills that you can control easily (magic skills are often easy to increase) so you can control when you level up. Try to have at least one skill (per attribute) as a major skill to allow for minor tweaks.
Since health increases (10% of Endurance per level) are not retroactive, it's best to max out Endurance as soon as possible and beyond that there is really no need to achieve more then a 5 pointer in endurance per level in singleplayer, since max stats can be acquired anyway. To obtain max level and stats, here are 5 simple steps:
- The major skills should start with only 25 points each which means longest possible progress. Check the manual to see what class that has extra points in what.
- First join the mages guild without sleeping.
- Obtain 100 points in one skill at a time without sleeping beginning with an endurance governed skill.
- After having put a 100 points in a major skill, sleep, drain it, train in it and put points in its governing attribute every level until you cannot level up anymore from the training. Repeat this until you have full points in all major skills.
- Put the 2-10 spare points where you get the most and amongst them in those which you have the least
Only by doing this one can obtain the level 99 and the stat points you obtain is most likely full. I cant see how it can be less, however with this strategy the number of stat points per level range between high numbers.
If all your major skills are at level hundred, and it seems you can no longer advance in level, and thus, no longer increase your attributes, there is no need for despair. Simply get yourself thrown into jail, and with a bit of luck, one or more of your major skills will decrease, thus allowing you to gain more levels. If you do this several times, it can be possible to make your character extremely powerful, and eventually, he/she will be so powerful the game can no longer increase the difficulty of your enemies.
Note that attributes have a maximum of 100 achievable from leveling. Keep this in mind while choosing Birthsigns which increase attributes. However, you can raise an attribute temporarily beyond 100 by using spells, potions or magical items.
Optimizing Leveling and Still Having Fun Edit
Just write down your baseline skills right after you level. Every once in a while check the progress of the indicator "Progress to Next Level" on your skills screen. If it's close to full, compare all your skills to your baseline. Tweak your skillset towards 3 target attributes by increasing (through use, or training) minor skills linked to the appropriate attribute before increasing that tenth major skill.
This method does not require you to constantly think about your skill increases, but yet allows for large attribute increase bonuses.
Once all your major stats are maxed out you can choose to serve jail time, if one of your major skills is affected then when you earn back the point it moves you another step closer to leveling up. I ended up using this when I was 6 increases short of 50th
Another thing to note is that there is another way of keeping track of your skills and it is much easier too! All you need to do is to save after you level up BEFORE increasing any of your skills and you can just load that game and look at what your skills were at the beginning of the level. This way no paper is needed and it is faster than writing it down too.
Level Increase MessagesEdit
Upon leveling up there will be a message across the top of the leveling window. The messages are as follows:
Level 2 - You realize that all your life you have been coasting along as if you were in a dream. Suddenly, facing the trials of the last few days, you have come alive.
Level 3 - You realize that you are catching on to the secret of success. It's just a matter of concentration.
Level 4 - You've done things the hard way. But without taking risks, taking responsibility for failure... how could you have understood?
Level 5 - Everything you do is just a bit easier, more instinctive, more satisfying. It is as though you had suddenly developed keen senses and instincts.
Level 6 - You've learned a lot about Cyrodiil... and about yourself. It's hard to believe how ignorant you were, but now you have so much more to learn.
Level 7 - You resolve to continue pushing yourself. Perhaps there's more to you than you thought.
Level 8 - The secret does seem to be hard work, yes, but it's also a kind of blind passion, an inspiration.
Level 9 - So that's how it works. You plod along, putting one foot before the other, look up, and suddenly, there you are. Right where you wanted to be all along.
Level 10 - You woke today with a new sense of purpose. You're no longer afraid of failure. Failure is just an opportunity to learn something new.
Level 11 - Being smart doesn't hurt. And a little luck now and then is nice. But the key is patience and hard work.
Level 12 - You can't believe how easy it is. You just have to go... a little crazy. And then, suddenly, it all makes sense, and everything you do turns to gold.
Level 13 - It's the most amazing thing. Yesterday it was hard, and today it is easy. Just a good night's sleep, and yesterday's mysteries are today's masteries.
Level 14 - Today you wake up, full of energy and ideas, and you know, somehow, that overnight everything has changed. What a difference a day makes.
Level 15 - Now you just stay at your peak as long as you can. There's no one stronger in Tamriel, but there's always someone younger... a new challenger.
Level 16 - You've been trying too hard, thinking too much. Relax. Trust your instincts. Just be yourself. Do the little things, and the big things take care of themselves.
Level 17 - Life isn't over. You can still get smarter, or cleverer, or more experienced, or meaner... but your body and soul just aren't going to get any younger.
Level 18 - With the life you've been living, the punishment your body has taken... there are limits, and maybe you've reached them. Is this what it's like to grow old?
Level 19 - You're really good. Maybe the best. And that's why it's so hard to get better. But you just keep trying, because that's the way you are.
Level 20 - By superhuman effort, you can avoid slipping backwards for a while. But one day, you'll lose a step, or drop a beat, or miss a detail... and you'll be gone forever.
Level 21+ - The results of hard work and dedication always look like luck. But you know you've earned every ounce of your success.