Top 15 Best Alteration Spells in Skyrim

Best Alteration Skills in Skyrim

Alteration is one of the 5 types of magic you can cast in Skyrim and it’s a mixture of both useful magic and mischievous. These are the best Alteration spells in Skyrim.

Best Alteration Spells in Skyrim

Equilibrium

This is a spell you can get very early game and it converts 25 points of health into 25 points of magicka per second. Fair warning, if you keep this spell going for too long it can reduce your health to zero and kill you!

Provided you have a decent restoration skill level and the right restoration spells such as fast healing, it is possible to dual wield with Equilibirum to continually covert health into magicka and heal yourself. If done correctly you can power level both Alteration and Restoration.

This spell tome is found in the Labyrinthian Chasm during the College of Winterhold’s quest to find the Staff of Magnus. The quest giver is Mirabelle Ervine.

Oakflesh

The most basic of magical armor spells, Oakflash gives you an additional 40 points of armor for 60 seconds. The spell costs 103 magicka to cast and it can be purchased from the Riverwood Trader or from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold.

Magelight

A simple yet effective apprentice-level spell, Magelight creates an orb of light that sticks where it lands. It will stick to both solid surfaces and moving targets. Two drawbacks of this spell is that it cannot be ended before the 60 seconds is up and as it creates light, it does make sneaking difficult while it is active.

Magelight costs 84 magicka to cast and can be purchased from the court wizard at Dragonsreach or Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold when you reach level 25 in Alteration.

Stoneflesh

An improvement on Oakflesh, Stoneflesh improves your armor rating by 60 points for 60 seconds. The magicka cost of this spell is 166 magicka and if it is dual cast it will double the duration. You can purchase this spell from any of the court wizards.

Detect Life

The first of the adept-level skills on our list Detect Life lasts for 100 seconds and it will allow nearby living creatures to be seen through walls. As this detects life, you won’t be able to see the undead or machines. It will however let you see whether the creature is hostile or not by showing them in either a red or blue mist.

This spell makes a great addition to stealth-like classes and is also good at gaining experience in Alteration as more experience is given the more life it detects. To power level Alteration you can keep casting the spell in a busy city for maximum gains.

Detect life costs 100 magicka a second to cast and can be obtained from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold or Wylandriah at the Mistveil Keep.

Ironflesh

The next level up from Stoneflesh, Ironflesh does the same thing but instead improves your armor rating by 80 points for 60 seconds. The magicka cost of this spell is 266 magicka and if it is dual cast it will double the duration. You can purchase this spell from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold when you reach level 50 in Alteration.

Telekinesis

A neat little spell which is probably cooler than it is practical. Being able to manipulate objects from a distance is fun, and while you can pick items up and throw them at people, it only does a small amount of damage. This spell is probably most useful in stealing owned items from merchants. You can move them item somewhere inconspicuous for you to steal.

This spell costs 170 per second to cast and you can purchase this spell from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold or  Wylandriah at Mistveil Keep when you reach level 40 in Alteration.

Transmute

Even though this is an adept-level spell, Transmute is easily one of the most valuable Alteration spells in Skyrim. This spell will turn iron ore into silver ore and then silver ore into gold ore. It is one of the best ways of making money in Skyrim and also useful for leveling your smithing skill as you can make jewelry by mining iron ore. You must have the ore in your inventory for this spell to work.

The spell is easy to get quite early on in the game. You can find it on the table of the bandit chief at the Halted Stream Camp (inside the mine). The camp can be found north of Whiterun and is also the greatest source of iron ore in Skyrim with a total of 16 ore veins and 4 iron ore to loot.

Waterbreathing

No prizes for guessing what this spell does! It allows you to breathe underwater for 60 seconds. You cannot cast the spell while swimming or already underwater.

This spell costs 222 magicka to cast and you can purchase this spell from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold or  Wylandriah at Mistveil Keep when you reach level 50 in Alteration.

Ash Rune

Ash Rune is the Skyrim equivalent of a claymore where you can cast it on a surface and it explodes when enemies are nearby. The enemies will be immobilized for 30 seconds but cannot be attacked in this state so it’s more of a spell to get away rather than offensive magic.

Ash Rune is only available in the Dragonborn DLC. The spell costs 418 magicka to cast and it can be purchased from Talvas Fathryon in Tel Mithryn.

Detect Dead

No surprises here. Detect Dead does the opposite of Detect Life and will allow you to see the dead, corpses, and reanimated bodies through walls.

The spell costs 148 magicka per second to cast and can be purchased from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold once you hit level 70 in Alteration.

Ebonyflesh

The next level up from Iron, Ebonyflesh does the same thing but instead improves your armor rating by 1000 points for 60 seconds. The magicka cost of this spell is 341 magicka and if it is dual cast it will double the duration. You can purchase this spell from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold when you reach level 70 in Alteration.

Paralyze

The final expert-level spell, Paralyze will immobilize a target that fails to resist for 10 seconds. This gives you ample time to get some attacks in or to get away to regroup. The spell costs 450 magicka to cast and can be purchased from Tolfdir at the College of Winterhold once you hit level 70 in Alteration.

Dragonhide

A great spell for avoiding physical damage, Dragonhide will reduce physical damage by 80% for a duration of 30 seconds. The reduction stacks will regular armor so it’s possible to avoid damage altogether. Dragonhide costs 837 magicka to cast and is a reward for completing the Alteration Ritual Spell (see below).

Mass Paralysis

This spell is useful for battling a large group of foes but it’s also just as fun to cast in a large city for fun. A step up from the Paralyze spell, Mass Paralysis will cause anyone in the radius from the caster to be paralyzed for 15 seconds. This does take a few seconds to charge up though before it is cast which costs 937 magick.

This spell is sold by Tolfdir after completing the Alteration Ritual Spell.

Alteration Ritual Spell

To get the Dragonhide and Mass Paralysis master spells you must complete the Alteration Ritual Spell which becomes available when you reach level 90.

You will need to speak to Tolfdir in the College of Winterhold who can usually be found in the Hall of Attainment on the ground floor.

You’ll need to retrieve the Kahvozein’s Fang which can be at one of multiple locations (usually a Nordic tomb). You then need to equip the dagger to your right hand and examine a corpse of a dragon. This could be a recent kill or an old corpse. Examining the corpse will yield the dragon heartscales Tolfdir is after. 

Return to Tolfdir to receive the Dragonhide spell as a reward and you can also purchase Mass Paralysis too.

You may also be interested in our other Skyrim spell guides:

FAQ

What is the fastest way to level up alteration in Skyrim?

One of the fastest ways to level up alteration is to dual cast telekinesis and hold down the trigger to keep the spell going. You can also keep casting Detect Life in a city or repeatedly cast Waterbreathing while stood in water.

What are alteration spells in Skyrim?

With all of the the add-ons, there are 17 alteration spells in Skyrim, and these range from manipulating objects, extrasensory magic, paralysis spells, and the ability to improve your armor rating.

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