Bethesda Hates Mages: 12 Reasons Magic in Skyrim Sucks


New member
Mar 31, 2010
nyysjan said:
Only reason i did not have a group of nothing but mages in DA:O was because there was not enough mages (holy fuck those guys were OP), could not force myself to play 3rd act of DA2, but they really nerfed mages in that game.
Well, it's really different if you play on Nightmare, because then your mages will kill your own party :)

You should try a dual dagger rogue backed up by double haste (which you indeed need mages for), momentum + swift salve. Rapes everything a new one, even burns through high dragons and everything in seconds.

+ You can make warrior tanks virtually invincible (also to magic).


This Title Will Be Gone Soon
Apr 13, 2008
I always played as a Jack of All Trades kind of character. The perfect mix of Warrior-Mage that summoned a Flame Atronach before exhausting all magicka throwing giant AoE destruction spells before charging in sword drawn cleaving the heads from the necks of my adversaries. And if I got hurt, no worries because I leveled up my magicka evenly with HP and Stamina and some of my armor had magicka regen to it so I could pull out two-handed healing spells to get back into the fight quickly.

But I understand how hard magic sucks in Skyrim if you use it by yourself. At one point mid to late game I suddenly realized I hadn't gotten any good new spells in a while and found that my magic skills were severely under leveled in comparison to the fighting skills I'd been using just as much of throughout the game. So I started trying to level grind my magic and it was so damn difficult I just stopped bothering.


Ravenous Gormandizer
Oct 23, 2008
Fdzzaigl said:
Archers and melee DPS >>> Mages in DA2 mate :)

Tanky warriors and melee rogues didn't do so bad in the original either.
In the only proper Dragon Age game, Mages were broken as fuck, to the point where my main character mage guy was a better warrior than my warrior character, plus he had magic.

It's one of the reasons when I play I only have Morrigan (who is built pure offensive support) and maybe the main character as a mage. Anything else is way too stupid easy.


New member
Feb 19, 2014
Looks like Shamus didn't find the perk that lets you augment your dual-cast destruction spells with stunning power that always works. Everything just drops once you have that. From then on it's just a matter of keeping stocked up on magic potions and stun-locking everything to death.

So yeah, magic is definitely not underpowered. It's just extremely boring.


New member
Apr 9, 2010
I must apologize, but I'm mostly just amused at the contrast between this and, say, 3rd edition D&D, where ANYTHING that doesn't cast spells is just plain inferior to casters. Turnabout is fair play???


Level 80 Legendary Postlord
Dec 4, 2007
I totally agree. I can't count the times I've started an Elder Scrolls game with the mindset "This time, I'm going to play a mage", but just end up being 80% fighter with some magic sprinkled on top. Playing a fighter is just way more fun. Combat is more involved, more exciting, more reliable and you are constantly upgrading your tools; weapons and armor. There is just not much to look forward to as a mage.
Also, most spells are not useful or interesting enough and too fuzzy. Why bother casting a spell that provides a combat bonus for 15 seconds? Recasting that 10 times during combat is just a pain in the ass. To be any good, I would have to cast 4 of those spells, and besides using up all my hotkeys, by the time I've cast the 4th spell, the first one is almost running out.

Playing Skyrim with Requiem however, I can't complain about magic not being powerful... some enemies are unbeatable to me unless I exploit their specific magic weakness, and any enemy caster is a force to be reckoned with.


The Last Albino
Aug 30, 2010
THIS is why I prefer TES games on PC.

Mods make mages suck less.


New member
May 16, 2009
Seems Shamus doesn't know how to play a mage or maybe Skyrim as magic doesn't suck.First all destruction spells have side effects use them properly.Also a lack of stamina doesn't just stop you doing special attacks it slows you to a halt watching a giant creature unable to chase you while you pretty much freeze it to the ground as you power up another spell to end the fight is always awesome.You need to mix up your spells and staffs enchantments not just try to fire off the same spell repeatedly hoping something will happen.

Amir Kondori

New member
Apr 11, 2013
Lyri said:
Surely magic scaled in Morrowind?

I haven't played it for a long time but the higher your destruction the more potent the spell, no?

Magic was flat out broken in the earlier itterations of the game, which is why they removed mysticism & spell crafting from the game. Items like The heavenly dagger would allow the user to fly in the air and bombard their enemy with impunity.

My fondest memory is being the Grand Master of House Tel'Vanni and using the gloves that were given to me by my patron to summon atronachs that laid waste to a city (forget which one) whilst I hovered over head, raining down fireballs.

Good times.

Magic sucks in Skyrim though,I usually default to some kind of stealth based illusion archer.
I thought magic was awesome in Morrowind. It starts off pretty wimpy but quickly you can get your hands on some useful spells. You can certainly make a go of being a full time wizard with no problem in Morrowind.

Skyrim really just was not a great game. It had a lot of compromises, a lot of streamlining that didn't really help out the game, I sunk a little over 200 hours into it just due to the graphics, mods, and the beautiful worlds Bethesda is still able to create, but I am 100% burned out on it and feel like I will never go back, while I STILL go back and play Morrowind.

I hope this next console generation makes it easier for them to focus on systems and getting those right, or else they will slowly but surely start to lose this series.

New Frontiersman

New member
Feb 2, 2010
While I don't disagree, I don't think I've really played the game enough to notice the problem as much as Shamus has. But I suppose looking back I have noticed it to some extent.

Just as an aside though, every time he used the word "mana" it made me cringe. it wouldn't have been that hard just to write out "magicka" instead. I just really hate seeing people use out of universe terms to describe things, like applying the term "mana" to every game with a magic meter/ MP.


New member
Sep 11, 2009
Lyri said:
while I agree that you do have a point in terms of what you suggest being viable, I still think it's an issue that this is pretty much the only single way to play a mage "right", despite fighers being pretty much impossible to play wrong.

Then again, I suppose what we have now is better than everything being essentially the same.


New member
Jun 6, 2011
Who are you people, that you don't see how overpowered magic can be in Skyrim when played right? My first complete playthrough was as a mage. Almost all of my damage was done with destruction magic and staves. Dual-cast destruction staggers your opponent. Staggered opponents can't hit you. You have ranged damage, you have close-range damage, you have trap runes. You get some amazing magic staves and they're light so you can carry several and swap them on the fly.

Many of the items you gain through quests (amulets, masks etc) are highly supportive of a mage playstyle, and the dragon shouts make up for any other lack.

Plus, the dragons themselves are vulnerable to elemental rock-paper-scissors. If a dragon breathes fire, use ice.

Destruction mage, with conjuration and alchemy for support, is made of win.


Mages Rule, and Dragons Fly!
Aug 9, 2020
United States
Nimzabaat said:
I read this article as "I don't know how to play a mage".
Imp Emissary said:
Skyrim was my first elder scrolls game, and I loved playing it. Always a mage. :D

That said, :( everything Shamus said is completely true. I actually like the archmage robes, but they don't compare to daedric armor, in terms of looking cool and stats. Also, pretty much all of the other robes besides the thalmor robes, and archmage robes, just look lame.

The only way I was able to play a "mage" well, was to get great at enchanting, smiting, and alchemy first. That way I was able to make myself great armor and weapons, and use alchemy and enchanting to make a circlet, ring, and necklace that let me cast all spells for free, and sell powerful enchanted weapons for gold to buy the best spells.

Even then, it takes forever to level up the skills.

:D Hope it's better next time I guess.
Well some of the article is true, but I find mages pretty OP myself. I read it as "I don't know how to play a mage in Skyrim".

One of the first little tricks is that north of Whiterun there's a mine full of easy kills and a transmute spell for turning iron into gold. Level your spells, create wealth, buy destruction skills (unless you're doing the summon critter, kill critter practise for your destruction keeping in mind that mages study).

I will agree that the robes could be better looking though.

EDIT: I also seem to recall picking up enchantments that boost destruction and mana regeneration at the same time. I guess Shamus wasn't looking hard enough.
Oh, I agree that mages can get overpowered, eventually. But it's a slow crawl up a steep hill, unless you don't stick to being a "proper mage", or use exploits. Shamus brings this point up here.
[sub](And really, it's the Regeneration school that makes a mage OP, not so much the others.)[/sub]

Even with the exploits, it is a fair bit easier to use physical weapons, or sneaking to defeat enemies, even late game.

As for the magicka regeneration enchantments, they pretty much do the same thing as the ones that lower the spell cost, though they do at least work for all magic instead of one school. But in the end all it means is you don't have to wait as long as normal, so you're better off with just lowering the cost.

That said, there's really no way to do more damage with magic (without mods) than you can do with melee, and sneaking. Even with the few perks in the destruction school.
[sub]Except maybe for vampire lord when you use the spell[sub](Vampiric grip)[/sub] to pick up and toss people. But that only works on some enemies, and is only that effective when you're high up somewhere. :D Fun spell though.[/sub]


New member
Apr 2, 2008
I beat Skyrim using a pickpocket / archery / sneak / illusion character, and honestly I think that's the best way. Illusion is by far the best school of magic (largely because the spells it uses are the kind that are so overpowered that your enemies can't use them on you - what kind of possible mechanic could you use to simulate "rage", "pacify" or "flee" when used on a player?) and you don't need to deal direct damage with it. Heck, I used it mostly for invisibility and pacify. So easy to backstab one's enemies when you can just walk straight behind them!

I completely agree with the article though: I'm trying a "destruction" mage now, and it's one of those abilities (along with pickpocket and two-handed) that I class as "fun but useless". There's just nothing you can do with it that you can't do more effectively with a bow or a conjured dremora lord (and there you're in danger of the enemy ignoring your conjured creature and going straight after you, and the dremora being too stupid to stop it.) Pickpocket is a hella lot of fun but I wish the poisons you could plant on your enemies were more potent, and worked on stuff other than humans or vampires. And two-handed is a whole heap of fun - the weapons are the most satisfying in the game, easily - but mean that you can't duel-wield or use spells or anything. Ok for a pure warrior (as long as you don't mind not having a restoration spell in your hand all the time) but not great for any other type of class.


New member
Jun 21, 2010
TopazFusion said:
The thing I hated the most was the fact that spells have to be equipped and bound to a hand.
Which means that you can't wield a two-handed weapon like a bow, and have a spell equipped at the same time, for quick casting.

This worked perfectly in Oblivion. Why the hell did they ruin this in Skyrim?

Spells shouldn't need to be bound to a hand, they should be a secondary ability that's always available to you regardless of what weapon you have equipped.
A bit like throwing grenades in a typical FPS.

The way Skyrim does it, it would be like an FPS forcing you to equip a 'throw grenade' ability to one hand, and only being able to wield a pistol in the other.
Your face when that used to be the case. Grenades were considered a weapon of their own and you had to equip them before throwing them.

OT: Yeah, magic is really underpowered in Skyrim unless you cheese it with infinite casting gear(I usually go for Destruction/Restoration myself). They REALLY should have made it so that effectiveness of the spells goes up 20% with each rank you put a perk in. Lasts 20% longer, does 20% more damage, affects targets more effectively.


New member
Dec 8, 2008
nyysjan said:

Level destruction, restoration and enchantment, get some gear that make your restoration and destruction spells cost 0 magicka, stun lock dragons to death.

Magic, if anything, has simply gotten easier to level overtime, but lacks versatility (seriously, stun locking dragons to death is boring).
Or get summoning to 100, do same with gear, have 2 high level summons kill everything for you.

I'm level 60+ on Skyrim, started out as a Dunmer mage, and having 0 issues, later i switched to rogue style play, and after levelling sneaking and one handed a bit, coupled with illusion, i can now one shot any non boss monster, and most boss monsters i bump into, with a dagger (crafted, sharpened, smithing 100 level daedric dagger).
Occasionally i use daedric heavy armor and 2 handed daedric sword (both skills below 30) just for fun, but when going gets though, i pull out my destruction spells (runes are especially awesome).

Could they have made magick better? Yes.
Is magic underpowered? Hell no.
You playing less than normal difficulty setting if you can one shot pretty much everything, one shotting does not happen so easily higher up.

SirBryghtside said:
Morrowind's magic is really awkward at the higher levels. Lower down the chain, a 100pt frost damage spell or a summon will take care of nearly everything - but once you start finding higher level bosses and Golden Saints, you start running into Reflect, which means all your spells just kill you outright and deal next to no damage to the opponent. The way around this is to use summons, which is all fine for vanilla, but once you get to the expansions the power levels of the enemies keep increasing while the best summon available is still the Golden Saint. This means that the only way of dealing with certain foes is to spam summons and chug Magicka potions (which are actually really scarce, even if you make your own) until the opponent falls over. And it takes forever.

I'm saying this from experience (I literally just got through Tribunal as my first mage character), but while I've been bashing it a bit I have to say that I do enjoy the problem solving aspect. The best way of playing is definitely still as a warrior, but it's a nice change of pace.
I haven't played in a long time but I never ventured into the dremora dungeons because I left spell creation well alone, which is probably why I do not recall those things.
The character I rampaged through the game was a typical nord blunt warrior.


Apr 28, 2008
I loved magic in Morrowind because you could make your own insanely broken spells. It also let you do really goofy things that were hilariously fun. Like Boost your acrobatics by 10,000 for 1 second so you could jump half way across the continent.

IMO, in Oblivion when Bethesda got the stupid notion the game needed to be balanced the series started to get a lot more boring to me.

That said, the weapon conjuration in both Morrowind and Oblivion were good if you wanted to do a battle mage (it was made shit in Skyrim). I actually have Fond memories of my custom "bound gear" spell I made in Morrowind that would create a full set of armor, a sword, and summon a helper monster for me with one mouse click for 80 seconds or something like that.

It was an incredibly liberating spellcraft system and I wish they kept it.


New member
Dec 20, 2009
I think the fact that a few people think others can't play, actually proves his point. You bring up a certain way you have to play a mage or get a certain enchant. Playing Rogue or Melee you don't have that specific way. I added some magic to my warrior, but I certainly was a warrior.

And it's going to be worse in ESO, there is no real magic :(