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< Skills: Magic
Skill: Destruction

Destruction magic provides many means of inflicting damage on enemies. Destruction spells use elements (fire, frost, or shock) to damage health; an enemy's magicka and stamina can also be reduced. Increasing this skill reduces magicka cost when casting Destruction spells. Historical information about the School of Destruction is provided in the lore article. The Destruction skill tree has a total of 14 perks, requiring a total of 17 perk points to fill.

In-game Description: The School of Destruction involves the [sic] harnessing the energies of fire, frost and shock. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Fireball, Ice Spike, and Lightning Bolt.


Destruction is the principal damage-dealing school of magic. Destruction mages can use perks to specialize in one or more of the elements—fire, frost, and shock—gaining the ability to do extra damage. Since some enemies are resistant to particular forms of magic, anyone relying on Destruction is well-advised to learn spells from more than one element, and perhaps to specialize in two or more.



  • Lowest magicka cost of the three elements.
  • Deals only health damage.
  • Sets targets on fire, usually dealing an additional 10% damage over 1 second, but some spells do more.
  • Special perk: Intense Flames. Causes enemies below 20% health to run away.

Many inhabitants of Skyrim are weak against fire damage, including trolls and all creatures with "Frost", "Ice", or "Snow" in their name. In some dungeons there are pools of flammable liquid which you can ignite with fire magic, resulting in impressive conflagrations that can wipe out enemies in seconds, particularly at low levels. The Intense Flames perk is of limited use, firstly because humanoid enemies will drop down to their knees when their health is below 10%, and secondly because enemies that do not drop down will run away, forcing you to kill them some other way.

In addition, by casting the Flames spell repeatedly in short bursts, you can apply the "on-fire" effect several times, which will dramatically increase your damage output. If you take the Aspect of Terror perk from the Illusion skill tree, it will make this trick even more devastating and potentially viable even at high levels despite being a Novice-level spell. It should also be noted that even without Aspect of Terror, Flames is the second-most magicka-efficient spell in the base game (after Firebolt), and Aspect of Terror will make it an uncontested first place. This trick also works well when combined with the Slow Time shout. With Dragonborn installed, Ignite is much more magicka-efficient, but will not advance your Destruction skill very quickly.


  • Middle magicka cost of the three elements.
  • Deals damage to health and stamina (typically the same amount).
  • Slows targets by 50% for a few seconds (duration varies).
  • Special perk: Deep Freeze. Causes enemies below 20% health to be paralyzed.

Unfortunately, many enemies boast a resistance to Frost damage, and Nords—the most common NPCs in Skyrim—resist it as well. Vampires have a bonus 50% Frost resistance and Nord vampires are completely immune, as are all Dwarven automatons. The Deep Freeze perk is useful, but almost exactly the same effect can be achieved with dual-casting and Impact. The Adept-level area effect missile spell, Ice Storm, is distinct from its counterparts in the other two elements in that it covers an area of effect as the projectile itself travels, instead of just projecting its effect area upon impact. Large swaths can be attacked by rapid-fire tandem casting of Ice Storm.

Usage of any frost attacks against bandits or other primarily melee-based foes shows the utility of the stamina-damage and slow effects, as it can impair their ability to power attack or shield bash, as well as allow you to stay out of their melee range. However, Ice Storm's primary weakness is that unlike Fireball and Chain Lightning, it has a limited range (though still three times as far as your typical concentration spell) and is also quite slow, making it more difficult to target fast opponents in open areas.


  • Highest magicka cost of the three elements.
  • Deals damage to health and magicka (magicka damage is typically 50% of the health damage).
  • Generally shorter range, but projectiles hit instantly.
  • Special perk: Disintegrate. Instantly kills enemies below 15% health.

In practice, enemy mages tend to have more magicka than health, which combined with the fact that you deal more health damage than magicka damage might make the magicka damage meaningless. However, skilled mages with the proper magicka reserves will win in a mage-vs-mage duel of attrition. The magicka damage is also effective against dragons who are unable to shout once their magicka pool is depleted. Shock spells have three chief advantages: firstly, there are few enemies that are resistant to shock damage, and in the base game, only storm atronachs and Orchendor have 100% shock resistance, making it equally useful against practically all enemies and allowing you to save perks by specializing in just one element (Dawnguard and Dragonborn add a couple of unique creatures with shock resistance, along with netch, seekers and shock spiders). Secondly, unlike fire and frost, all shock spells hit instantly wherever you're aiming them, making it easier to hit moving targets, though at a reduced range compared to fire and frost spells. Finally, shock gets a specialization perk, Disintegrate, which effectively reduces hit points of all enemies in the game by 15% (though it may cause some looting problems as of patch 1.3, so be careful). This perk is particularly useful when dealing with necromancers, or anything else capable of raising the dead, since it ensures that the disintegrated target cannot be reanimated. At the same time, if you wish to reanimate enemies, you should either avoid this perk or avoid using shock damage on enemies you want to revive.

Spell Types

Across each elemental family, the pattern of spells is consistent:

Type Level Fire Frost Shock Effect Base Damage
Spray Novice Flames Frostbite Sparks Short range spell that deals damage as long as you cast 8/s
Missile Apprentice Firebolt Ice Spike Lightning Bolt Single-target missile 25
Rune Apprentice Fire Rune Frost Rune Lightning Rune Cast on a surface and triggered like a proximity mine 50
Area Missile Adept Fireball Ice Storm Chain Lightning Multiple-target missile (projectile behaviors vary specific to which element) 40
Cloak Adept Flame Cloak Frost Cloak Lightning Cloak Harms all enemies in melee range 8/s
Heavy Missile Expert Incinerate Icy Spear Thunderbolt Single-target missile 60
Wall Expert Wall of Flames Wall of Frost Wall of Storms Persistent sprayed-down obstacle that does damage when walked through 20/s
Storm Master Fire Storm Blizzard Lightning Storm Constant wide area of effect varies


Novice Destruction
Apprentice Destruction
Adept Destruction
Expert Destruction
Master Destruction
Rune Master
Augmented Flames
Intense Flames
Augmented Frost
Deep Freeze
Augmented Shock
Destruction Dual Casting
Destruction Perk Tree
Perk Rank Description ID Skill Req. Perk Req.
Novice Destruction Cast Novice level Destruction spells for half magicka. 000f2ca8
Apprentice Destruction Cast Apprentice level Destruction spells for half magicka. 000c44bf 25 Destruction Novice Destruction
Adept Destruction Cast Adept level Destruction spells for half magicka. 000c44c0 50 Destruction Apprentice Destruction
Expert Destruction Cast Expert level Destruction spells for half magicka. 000c44c1 75 Destruction Adept Destruction
Master Destruction Cast Master level Destruction spells for half magicka. 000c44c2 100 Destruction Expert Destruction
Rune Master Can place runes five times farther away. 00105f32 40 Destruction Apprentice Destruction
Augmented Flames 1 Fire spells do 25% more damage. 000581e7 30 Destruction Novice Destruction
2 Fire spells do 50% more damage. 0010fcf8 30 60 Destruction Augmented Flames Level 1
Intense Flames Fire damage causes targets to flee if their health is low (under 20%). 000f392e 50 Destruction Augmented Flames
Augmented Frost 1 Frost spells do 25% more damage. 000581ea 30 Destruction Novice Destruction
2 Frost spells do 50% more damage. 0010fcf9 30 60 Destruction Augmented Frost Level 1
Deep Freeze Frost damage paralyzes targets if their health is low (under 20%). 000f3933 60 Destruction Augmented Frost
Augmented Shock 1 Shock spells do 25% more damage. 00058200 30 Destruction Novice Destruction
2 Shock spells do 50% more damage. 0010fcfa 30 60 Destruction Augmented Shock Level 1
Disintegrate Shock spells disintegrate targets if their health is low (under 15%). 000f3f0e 70 Destruction Augmented Shock
Destruction Dual Casting Dual casting a Destruction spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version. 000153cf 20 Destruction Novice Destruction
Impact Most destruction spells will stagger an opponent when dual cast. 000153d2 40 Destruction Destruction Dual Casting
  This effect is affected by any Alteration-modifiers, such as the Stability perk.


  Spell Name
Skill Level Tome
Magicka Base Cost Skill XP Description and Effect Details Where to Get
Spell ID: 00012fcd
Tome ID: 0009cd51
50 14/s 20/s
A gout of fire that does 8 points per second. Targets on fire take extra damage:
  • Concentration spell
  • Range: 36 feet
  • Speed: 47 fps
  • Flames, 8 pts for 1 sec
    • Sets targets on fire, dealing 1% of the immediate spell damage over 0.1s
  • Intense Flames Fear, 99 pts for 15 secs; if the Intense Flames perk has been unlocked
Spell ID: 0002b96b
Tome ID: 0009cd52
47 16/s 23/s A blast of cold that does 8 points of damage per second to Health and Stamina:
Spell ID: 0002dd2a
Tome ID: 0009cd53
46 19/s 26/s Lightning that does 8 points of shock damage to Health and Magicka per second:
  • Concentration spell
  • Range: 48 feet
  • Speed: instant
  • Sparks, 8 pts for 1 sec
  • Disintegrate, 200 pts for 1 sec; if the Disintegrate perk has been unlocked
  Fire Rune
Spell ID: 0005db90
Tome ID: 000a2700
90 234 234 Cast on a nearby surface, it explodes for 50 points of fire damage when enemies come near:
  • Cast on ground
  • Fire Rune, 50 pts for 1 sec
    • Sets targets on fire, dealing 10% of the immediate spell damage over 1s
Spell ID: 00012fd0
Tome ID: 000a26fd
96 41 41 A blast of fire that does 25 points of damage. Targets on fire take extra damage:
Spell ID: xx02732d
Tome ID: None
N/A 30 0 A spike of ice that does 20 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina and slows the target for 15 seconds:
  Frost Rune
Spell ID: 0006796f
Tome ID: 000a2701
92 293 293 Cast on a nearby surface, it explodes for 50 points of frost damage when enemies come near:
  Ice Spike
Spell ID: 0002b96c
Tome ID: 000a26fe
96 48 48 A spike of ice that does 25 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina:
Spell ID: xx02732b
Tome ID: None
N/A 30 7 A blast of flame that sets targets on fire, doing 4 damage per second for 15 seconds:
  Lightning Bolt
Spell ID: 0002dd29
Tome ID: 000a26ff
95 51 51 A bolt of lightning that does 25 points of shock damage to Health and half that to Magicka:
  Lightning Rune
Spell ID: 00067970
Tome ID: 000a2702
93 323 323 Cast on a nearby surface, it explodes for 50 points of shock damage when enemies come near:
  Chain Lightning
Spell ID: 00045f9d
Tome ID: 000a2708
390 156 78 Lightning bolt that does 40 points of shock damage to Health and half to Magicka, then leaps to a new target:
Spell ID: 0001c789
Tome ID: 000a2706
345 133 66 A fiery explosion for 40 points of damage in a 15 foot radius. Targets on fire take extra damage:
  • Missile, explosive
  • Range: 469 feet
  • Speed: 117 fps
  • Explosion radius: 15 feet
  • Fireball, 40 pts in 15 ft
    • Sets targets on fire, dealing 20% of the immediate spell damage over 2s
  • Perk Impact Stagger, 0.25 pts; if the Impact perk has been unlocked
  • Intense Flames Rout, 99 pts for 15 secs in 15 ft; if the Intense Flames perk has been unlocked
  Flame Cloak
Spell ID: 0003ae9f
Tome ID: 000a2703
325 289 0 For 60 seconds, opponents in melee range take 8 points fire damage per second. Targets on fire take extra damage:
  • Flame Cloak, 8 pts in 10 ft for 60 secs
    • Sets targets on fire, dealing 20% of the immediate spell damage over 2s
  Frost Cloak
Spell ID: 0003aea2
Tome ID: 000a2704
340 316 0 For 60 seconds, opponents in melee range take 8 points frost damage and Stamina damage per second:
  Ice Storm
Spell ID: 00045f9c
Tome ID: 000a2707
360 144 72 A freezing whirlwind that does 40 points of frost damage per second to Health and Stamina:
  Lightning Cloak
Spell ID: 0003aea3
Tome ID: 000a2705
355 370 0 For 60 seconds nearby opponents take 8 points of shock damage and half magicka damage:
75px Whirlwind CloakDB
Spell ID: xx01772d
Tome ID: xx0177ad
395 338 0 For 60 seconds, opponents in melee range have a chance of being flung away:
  • Cast on self
  • Whirlwind Cloak, 10 pts for 60 secs
  Icy Spear
Spell ID: 0010f7ec
Tome ID: 0010f7f3
725 320 320 A spear of ice that does 60 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina:
Spell ID: 0010f7ed
Tome ID: 0010f7f4
710 298 298 A blast of fire that does 60 points of damage. Targets on fire take extra damage:
Spell ID: 0010f7ee
Tome ID: 0010f7f5
750 343 343 A Thunderbolt that does 60 points of shock damage to Health and half that to Magicka:
  Wall of Flames
Spell ID: 00035d7f
Tome ID: 000a2709
680 118/s 118/s Sprayed on the ground, it creates a wall of fire that does 50 points of fire damage per second:
  • Constant cast on ground (each impact lasts for several seconds)
  • Fire Barrier, 8 pts for 1 sec on targets hit directly
    • Sets targets on fire, dealing 33% of the immediate spell damage over 2s
  • Intense Flames Fear, 99 pts for 15 secs; if the Intense Flames perk has been unlocked
  • Fire (HazardWallofFireSpell), 20 damage every 1 second and tapers for another. The hazard effect lasts for 30 seconds on the ground
  Wall of Frost
Spell ID: 00035d80
Tome ID: 000a270a
700 137/s 137/s Sprayed on the ground, it creates a wall of frost that does 50 points of frost damage per second:
  • Constant cast on ground (each impact lasts for several seconds)
  • Frost Barrier, 8% for 1 sec on targets hit directly
  • Slow, 50 pts for 5 secs
  • Deep Freeze Paralyze, for 3 secs; if the Deep Freeze perk has been unlocked
  • Frost (HazardWallofFrostSpell), 20 damage every 1 second, Slows enemy for 5 seconds. The hazard effect lasts for 30 seconds on the ground.
  Wall of Storms
Spell ID: 00035d81
Tome ID: 000a270b
725 145/s 145/s Sprayed on the ground, it creates a wall of lightning that does 50 points of shock damage per second:
  • Constant cast on ground (each impact lasts for several seconds)
  • Wall of Storms, 8 pts for 1 sec on targets hit directly
  • Disintegrate, 200 pts for 1 sec; if the Disintegrate perk has been unlocked
  • Shock (HazardWallofShockSpell), 20 shock damage every 1 second. The hazard effect lasts for 30 seconds on the ground
Spell ID: 0007e8e4
Tome ID: 000a270d
1350 1106 1106 Targets take 20 points of frost damage for 10 seconds, plus Stamina damage:
  Fire Storm
Spell ID: 0007a82b
Tome ID: 000a270c
1290 1426 1426 A 100 point fiery explosion centered on the caster. Does more damage to closer targets:
  Lightning Storm
Spell ID: 0007e8e5
Tome ID: 000a270e
1400 138/s 0 Target takes 75 points of shock damage per second to Health, and half that to Magicka:
  Arniel's Convection
Spell ID: 0006a104
Tome ID: None
N/A N/A 1/s 1/s Burns the target 1 points per second. Targets on fire take extra damage.
  • Flames, 1 pt for 1 sec
  • Specifically intended to be used for heating Dwarven Convectors in the related quest
  Vampiric Drain
Spell IDs: 0008d5bf
Tome IDs: None
N/A N/A 6/s
Absorb <mag> points of health per second from the target
  • Drain Health, <mag> pts for 1 sec
  • <mag> is 2, 3, 4, or 5, depending upon your level of vampirism
  • Not available for purchase
  • Spell is automatically added when you become a vampire

Spell List Notes

  • The base cost for spells is the amount of magicka that would be necessary to cast the spell at 0 skill without any perks. The magicka cost at 100 skill is 41% less than the base cost; the cost can also be reduced via enchanted apparel and by unlocking various perks. See Spell Cost for the full magicka cost equation.
  • Skill level indicates which skill perk needs to be unlocked to decrease the spell's magicka cost. "N/A" is used for special spells whose cost is not affected by any perks.
  • The "Where to Get" column only lists guaranteed locations for obtaining the spell tomes. Most spell tomes are also available in random loot; see Spell Tome Locations for details.
  • For higher-level spell tomes to become available for purchase, your skill in the school must be high enough. Also, master-level spell tomes can only be acquired once that school's ritual spell quest has been completed.
  • All spell tomes have a weight of 1.
  • Skill XP can be modified by scripts and by the game engine itself under various circumstances. The exact XP you receive may vary from the numbers listed here.
  • Magicka cost and skill XP are rounded down, both in game and on this page. Because of this, you may find that you cannot cast a spell even though it appears you have exactly enough magicka to do so.

Magical Effects

The following individual effects are all considered to be part of the school of Destruction (see the individual effect pages for full details on availability; the Magical Effects article also provides a summary):

Skill Usage

Be aware that increasing your Destruction skill level decreases the casting cost, but does not increase the spell damage. To keep using Destruction magic effectively against tougher opponents, you will need to either learn stronger spells, pick the damage increasing perks, or both.

Shock spells reach their target nearly instantaneously, much faster than the other elements, so you do not have to lead your shot when targeting moving opponents.

Rune spells can only be placed close to the caster, and the continuous-damage Novice-level spells Flames, Sparks, and Frostbite have a very limited range. However, the range of Rune spells can be improved with the Rune Master perk.

It is best to use Rune spells in close quarters or tight entrances, and is especially useful for those that mix stealth and magic. They are also useful for triggering draugr that are hidden in crypts. What's more, if you have the Rune Master perk, runes can be used as an instantaneous mid-range attack.

Use the various cloak spells when battling multiple enemies, as any nearby opponent that you are not focusing on will still take damage. Be aware, however, that cloak spells will only level your Destruction skill on a per cast basis, not a per damage basis.

When facing a difficult opponent with high health, such as a dragon priest, it is often helpful to make use of the dual-casting Impact perk. This effectively allows you to stagger-lock the opponent, preventing them from retaliating. Larger opponents like dragons and Dwarven Centurions can only be staggered if you have the Augmented perk that corresponds to your spell (for example, Augmented Fire for Firebolt).

Note that the Dual Casting perk is magicka inefficient, as it means only 10% damage increase for 40% higher magicka cost. Unless you have a lot of magicka or a lot of casting-cost-reducing gear, it is more efficient to cast two normal spells with both hands (you can still cast two single-cast spells after acquiring the perk by activating one hand then the other in rapid succession, rather than activating both hands simultaneously for the dual-cast version). However, dual casting has two advantages that, situation depending, may outweigh the additional cost: the DPS of dual casting is higher, and the Impact perk provides a guaranteed stagger, depending on the spell. The stagger effect has no effect if the target is already staggering, thus a good balance between efficient damage and shutdown of the target is to alternate a dual-cast with two quick double casts. Impact does not work with constant 'stream' spells (Flames, Frostbite), Novice-level spells, the Wall-type Expert spells, or Master-level spells.

Note that any spells that require preparation time to be cast stop your magicka from regenerating for the duration of the charge up until the spell is cast. This means that both preparing and holding spells, and casting spells in rapid succession reduce the amount of time available for magicka regeneration, and make sustained casting difficult. In order to maximize natural magicka regeneration while in combat, it's best to minimize any time spent "waiting" to cast a fully-charged spell.

When using Fireball or Chain Lightning, it is better to aim at the ground or wall near the target than at the target itself. There is no proximity falloff to damage in the area of effect, and the wall or ground near a moving target is far easier to hit than the target iteslf. Use those spells (and Ice Storm as well) to attack areas, not specific targets.

Skill Increases

Character Creation

The following races have an initial skill bonus to Destruction:


Skill Books

Free Skill Boosts

Gaining Skill XP

  • The XP gain for Destruction skill is dependent on the base magicka cost of the spell and the damage inflicted on a target. Thus, increasing the difficulty level will slow down skill development, as your damage output will be lower. Lowering the difficulty below Adept (gaining bonus damage) will not increase the XP gains. Dual Casting does not increase XP gain.
  • To level this skill, you must cast a spell on a valid target. This can be exploited by casting the spells on essential targets that will not turn hostile. Some of these targets include Shadowmere, Hadvar or Ralof during Unbound, the Riekling Chief during The Chief of Thirsk HallDB, Esbern before A Cornered Rat, Paarthurnax before starting his quest, M'aiq the Liar, Ancano before the conclusion of Revealing the Unseen, conjured creatures, and torture victims.
    • Note that the target in question must actually sustain damage for it to count. For this reason, casting spells on invincible targets such as Children and Brynjolf will not level your skill.
  • Regenerate Magicka effects help reduce downtimes while training.
  • It is possible to reduce or even completely eliminate the magicka cost of spells by stacking Fortify Destruction enchanting effects. The Secret of ArcanaDB power does the same thing, but only for 30 seconds.
    • The Secret of Arcana shout can be exploited using concentration spells, as the spell will continue to cost 0 so long as spell is uninterrupted.
  • Casting Blizzard will increase Destruction Skill even if there is no opponent. Since the spell does a small amount of damage to you, this appears to count as a valid opponent. Although you can only obtain Blizzard at skill level 100, if you subsequently make your Destruction skill legendary, you can then use Blizzard to level it.


  • Projectile spells shoot at 1 spell per second (2 if dual cast), much faster than even the fastest bow with the Quick Shot perk.
  • When you bash an opponent with a torch, it will count towards leveling your Destruction skill: the fire damage from the torch is registered as magical fire damage like that of a spell, similar to how dragon shouts can be blocked by Ward spells, because they are considered magical attacks.
  • Destruction Dual Casting enables you to cast a 220% strength version of the spell at 280% of normal cost when simultaneously casting the same spell from both hands.
  • Rune spells can be used to draw draugr out of their sarcophagi. Even "at rest," they will set off nearby runes and take damage from them. This is useful in barrows with large numbers of draugr, as it allows you to take them on one at a time. Furthermore, since Wall of Flames does not wake enclosed draugr, it can be applied around or in front of a sarcophagus before awakening the draugr within, resulting in nearly instant kills as they emerge. J'zargo's Flame Cloak Scrolls will also draw out draugr as the Rune Spell.
  • Ice Storm can travel through walls or other obstructions and damage unseen foes.
  • With a high enough skill level in Destruction, passing guards may say, "Destruction magic's fine; just don't go burning down any buildings".
  • If the Impact perk is taken, Ice Storm will stagger all foes within its area of effect when dual cast, unlike Fireball and Chain Lightning, which will only stagger the target they hit directly.


  • With the Disintegrate perk, if Lightning spells are used as a finishing blow to kill a dragon, the dragon's soul may not be absorbed.
  • The Cloak spells will dismiss summoned creatures because they are programmed to dispel any spell with the "that spell looks dangerous" flag. This was meant to dispel an existing cloak, but also affects other spells.
  • Many effects are not correctly affected by the Augmented Flames, Augmented Frost, and Augmented Shock perks. These perks rely upon the MagicDamageFire, MagicDamageFrost, and MagicDamageShock keywords to identify which magic effects should be enhanced by the perks, however many spell effects are missing those keywords—specifically, all Rune and Cloak spells.
    •   This bug is fixed by version 1.0 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.
    • Conversely, all Damage Stamina enchantments are affected by the Augmented Flames perk.
      Mod Notes: EnchStaminaDamageFFContact incorrectly has MagicDamageFire applied.
  • The Deep Freeze, Intense Flames, and Disintegrate perks will cause your cloak spells to kill followers who are in bleedout.
  • If you kill anything with a frost spell, have the Deep Freeze perk, and try to reanimate them, they will just walk in place and do nothing.
  • If you jump up and down repeatedly in a forge, you will be set on fire, which will slowly increase your Destruction skill. This does not work with special forges like the Skyforge.
    •   This issue has been addressed by version 1.2 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch; this no longer gives you Destruction experience.
  • If you have the Disintegrate perk and use Lightning spells to kill enemy soldiers during the Civil War battles where they continuously respawn, the respawned enemy soldiers may be invisible. ?
  • The Wall spells do a direct damage of 8/sec and 20/sec to anything that touches them. At no point do they do the 50/sec stated in the spell description.