The 10 ‘Skyrim’ races and their unique perks explained

Its been nearly a decade since gamers took their first steps into Bethesdas ambitious open world of.Despite the long years that have passed, this groundbreaking game is still a fan favorite.So the question remains:Which of theSkyrim races is best for your play style?

There are so many ways to playSkyrimwe may never get bored. Its an open world full of wizards, elves, werewolves, and dragons, after all. Add the variety of play styles to the multitude of racescomplete with varying stats and skill boostsand each play-through feels like a different game.

You may have playedSkyrim as an Altmer magicking your way out of any and every situation or a Dunmer using long-range and sneak to its fullest potential. But what about the other eight races? Each oneoffers completely different options, allowing players to carefully craft their characters.

Here are the Skyrim races and what makes them unique.

The 10Skyrim races

There are 10playable races inSkyrim, all of which possess different strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your play style, you might prefer the strength of an Orc or the magical aptitude of a Altmer. At game start, each race begins with +10 in one skill and +5 in five other skills. Despite the clear directions these settings lay out, its possible to develop any skill as any race inSkyrim. If you really want a magically inept Orc to become the Arch-Mage, its all you. The path wont be easy, but by Talos, what inSkyrim is?

1) Altmer

TheHigh Elvesare the most magically adept of all the Skyrim races. If youre not planning a long stay at the College of Winterhold, this race might not be for you. That said, let me note again that any race, regardless of starting stats, can learn any skill. It might not make much sense for your Altmer to abandon magic and dedicate their life to fighting with a two-handed ax, but you can certainly take that route.


The Altmer mostly reside on Summerset Isle, off the southwest coast of Tamriel. Their starting spellsflames, healing, and furyare a perfect first step into the world of mage craft. These skills make you immediately dangerous in a fight. Plus, your healing spell negates the need for cooking meals or crafting healing potions. Additional skill bonuses go to alteration, conjuration, destruction, enchanting, and restoration, with extra points in illusion. They have 50 more Magicka than other starting races. Also, the racial power of Highborn grants Altmer the ability to regenerate their Magicka faster for 60 seconds once a day.

2) Argonian

This reptilian Skyrim race is built for sneaking. Thievery, assassination, and concealment are staples of the Argonian. Many a wanderer have steered away from theArgonians home in the Black Marsh for fear of never leaving its swampy borders, due to the races emphasis on guerrilla warfare. Argonians are best for a player looking to emphasize thievery, sneaking, and light armor abilities. Daggers and small, one-handed weapons are most effective in the hands of an Argonian. If you want to ditch that and go all-in with a broad sword, however, more power to you.


Argonians are equally at home on land and in water, a rare trait inSkyrim races. Their natural immunities to their homelands diseases protects them as they travel the reaches of Tamriel. They can even breathe underwater when the need arises. Starting skills in light armor, alteration, pickpocket, restoration, and sneak encourage Argonian players to avoid combat when possible. Extra skill points go toward lock-picking, and this races natural 50% immunity to disease saves money on remedies and cures. To top it off, once a day any Argonian can recover health 10 times fasterbut it only lasts 60 seconds.

3) Bosmer

If Legolas were a Skyrim character,he would belong to this race. The Wood Elves of Valenwood prefer a simple, natural existence. They live in harmony with the world around them, embracing the power of the land and its creatures. Players looking for a stealthy play-through emphasizing archery and nature will find the Bosmer particularly enjoyable.


A lovely balance of stealth and combat, Bosmer are one of the most flexible Skyrim races. While their inherent abilities encourage sneak and long-range combat, the Bosmer can be just about any breed of character youre looking for. Their starting skills lie in alchemy, light armor, lock-picking, pickpocket, and sneak with a boost to archery. Some genuinely great bows can lend a similar skill in archery to non-Bosmer characters, but no other race has starting archery skill at their level. The addition of their special abilitiesa 50% resistance to disease and poison and the ability to make an animal into an ally for 60 secondsmake the Bosmer one of the most versatile Skyrim races.

4) Breton

The first (mostly) human race on this list has just enough Elven blood to give its magic abilities a serious boost. An exceedingly clever race, Bretons are known for their skill in abstract thinking. Their home in the province of High Rock houses far more of this race than many other areas in Tamriel. Therefore, far fewer Bretons wander the world than many other races.


Another excellent option for a player looking to fuck some shit up with magic, the Bretons have starting boosts to their magical and alchemical skills. With a good potion, you can do just about anything inSkyrim, so a talented alchemist can be exceedingly useful. Starting skills in alchemy, alteration, illusion, restoration, and speech make Bretons a great starting race. An extra boost to conjuration can give you a helping hand in any fight. In addition, Bretons gain an extra boost in magical combat thanks to their ability to absorb 50% of the Magicka from a hostile spell for 60 seconds a day. On top of that, Breton blood has a 25% resistance to magic, so brawl with mages to your hearts content.

5) Dunmer

TheDark Elvesdo not have the same levels of magical aptitude as their High cousins or the archery skill of their woodland counterparts. Instead, this Skyrim race boasts characters that are versatile and unique. Hailing from the province of Morrowind, Dunmer are perfect for players pursuing different play styles.


These dark-skinned Elves are the focus of extreme prejudice throughout Skyrim. Forced to abandon their original home following the Red Mountains eruption, many residents treat the Dunmer as second-class citizens. They are known for their strength, intelligence, and agility, and they make excellent hybrid mage-warriors. Starting skills in alchemy, alteration, illusion, light armor, and sneak assist the Dunmer in their versatility. Add their extra boost in destruction, and your opponents wont know what hit them. Special abilities include ancestors wrath, which for 60 seconds a day causes flame damage to anyone who gets too close. Unfortunately, this ability extends to guards, so use it with caution. Dunmer blood also lends them 50% resistance to fire. Plus, it gives them an additional starting spell: spark.

6) Imperial

The Imperial are Tamriels backbone. This race dominated the continent for more than 2,000 years before the Skyrim storybegins. These well-educated, tan-skinned fighters make excellent traders and merchants. Their aptitude in discipline, not to mention their skill as diplomats, has helped them remain on top.


Imperials are less physically capable than many other Skyrim races. However, they balance their combat skills with a number of more intellectual and monetary pursuits. Players looking to rely primarily on close combatrather than stealth or long-range combatshould consider an Imperial character. Starting skills in block, destruction, enchanting, heavy armor, and one-handed combat give anyone looking for a traditional warrior play-through an excellent base. Additional stats in restoration lessen the need for health potions or food. Also, the ability to find extra gold when scavenging makes most Imperials wealthier than the average character. Imperials also boast the Voice of the Emperor ability, which calms nearby humanoids for 60 seconds a day.

7) Khajiit

The Khajiit are a beast race that wander thecontinent in relatively large numbers. Originally from the province of Elsweyr, the Khajiit are easily recognizable thanks to their feline appearance. Others tend to look on this Skyrimrace negatively, thanks to their inhuman appearance and rampant racism inTamriel. It seems evenSkyrim is inspired by reality.


Anyone looking to dive into a play-through as a thief or assassin will enjoy playing as a Khajiit. Starting skills in alchemy, archery, lock-picking, one-handed, and pickpocket make the perfect recipe for a stealth character. Add the boost in starting sneak skill plus the Khajiits natural ability to see in the dark an unlimited number of times a day, and there are few better choices for this type of character. The Khajiit also come with cat-like claws, which add a boost to unarmed combat no matter what. In other words, losing all your gear after getting arrested isnt a total bust. You can still go to town on those guards with your built-in murder weapons.

8) Nord

The only entirely human race inSkyrim is capable of just about anything. Talented warriors, blacksmiths, merchants, and mercenaries, Nords make up the majority of Skyrims population by far. These fair-skinned fighters are known for their resistance to all types of coldeven magical. They make up the vast majority of the Stormcloaks and are naturally capable seamen.


Players looking for a warrior-type campaign will enjoy the play options for a Nord. Their starting skills in block, light armor, one-handed, smithing, and speech lend to a traditional play-through full of trading, creation, and straight-forward combat. Extra skill points in two-handed encourage players to try a heavy broad sword or crushing ax rather than the traditional sword and shield. To top it off, Nords battle cry can be used once daily to terrify enemies into fleeing for 30 seconds. Nordic blood gives players 50% resistance to frost, but their general lack of magical aptitude makes them a poor choice for magically inclined players.

9) Orsimer

Orsimer, or Orcs, are the physically strongestand magically weakestSkyrim race. While many of Skyrims people consider them barbarians, the Orsimer have a sophisticated, complex society. Natives of theWrothgarianandDragontailMountains, Orcs have been wandering the reaches of Skyrim for decades.


Orcs are a relatively common sight throughout Tamriel. Camps full of these beefy warriors are littered around the playable area, though entering them isnt easy. If you arent playing as an Orc, you must complete a quest to become Blood-Kin before many Orc interactions can be unlocked. If you are playing as an Orc, you can interact with your brethren from the start. Skills in block, enchanting, one-handed, smithing, and two-handed lend to Orcs fighting prowess. Thanks to their boosted skill in heavy armor, you can finally don that epic-looking dragon armor. While Orcs are notoriously bad with magic, they can learn the skill. Their special skill a berserker rageallows Orcs to take half damage while dealing double for 60 seconds a day.

10) Redguard

Natives of Hammerfell, Redguard are well-known for their skill as warriors. Renowned as the greatest warriors in Skyrim, these dark-skinned fighters are proficient in the use of any and all weapons. Stocky and quick, not to mention hardy as all get-out, the Redguard are perfect for a player looking to slash their way through Skyrims dangerous reaches.


Many of this Skyrim race veer more toward expertise in physical fighting than mystical. Though they have no particular block to using Magicka, the Redguard emphasize skill with weaponry. Their starting skills in alteration, archery, block, destruction, and smithing give them a well-balanced launching point. Additional skill in one-handed encourages combat with a sword and shield, or perhaps double-wielding one-handed weapons. Redguard blood lends a 50% resistance to poison, and their adrenaline rush ability allows players stamina to regenerate 10 times faster for 60 seconds a day.

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