Many Skyrim players focus their crafting attention on Smithing and Enchanting, but the art of crafting potions and poisons is an underrated skill in Skyrim. Using the right mixture at the right moment can turn the tide of battle, even in the toughest of fights.
It can seem intimidating at first, given the knowledge and skill required to make decent potions. Ingredients are numerous and their effects are mysterious; plus, low-level potions don't do the player much good. However, with practice and experience, any player can provide themselves with incredible buffs. Building this skill to high levels can earn the Dragonborn powerful advantages and mountains of Septims.
10 Pick Every Flower
And mushroom, and berry, and Nirnroot. Catch fish, chase butterflies. Roam the swamps and tundra and forests and caves, fight spiders, ice wraiths and draugr, and gather nature's bounty. There's no such thing as "too many" of any item. The more ingredients available, the freer the Dragonborn is to experiment at alchemy labs and eat ingredients to learn effects.
Basically, stockpile supplies. If Hearthfire is installed, building a greenhouse or garden can also help with this, as it provides an unlimited supply of whatever the Dragonborn plants.
9 Wander the Map
On a similar note, players have to explore the world in order to find said mushrooms and flowers. Different ingredients grow in different locations: for example, juniper berries are common in the Reach, while deathbell are plentiful near Morthal.
If the Dragonborn has a long journey to make, don't fast travel. Instead, trek through the tundra or forest and see what the land has to offer. Players might have to fight off hostile creatures, but that's a great way to find bear claws or sabre cat eyeballs.
8 Do Favors For Alchemists
Run an errand for Bothela, delve into a cave for Frida. It's worth the effort to gain an alchemist's favor, because they'll let the Dragonborn take low-value items from their shops. These include ingredients that aren't easy to find in the wild, such as taproots and slaughterfish scales.
Additionally, some miscellaneous objectives raise the alchemy skill by one. Arcadia, Lami, and Frida will all share a little knowledge in thanks for the player's help. Meanwhile, retrieving Finn's Lute for Inge Six-Fingers will raise all Thief skills, including Alchemy.
Remember how there's no such thing as too many ingredients? This is why. Experimenting allows the player to discover what effects each ingredient has: Put together two ingredients with the same effect, and they will be revealed.
Some experiments will fail to yield usable results, but the game keeps track of which combinations don't work. Meanwhile, if the player winds up with usable results that aren't useful to their play style, any alchemical merchant will happily purchase them. Mix and match, try every possible combination, and record favorite recipes.
6 Use Skill Bonuses, Books, and Trainers
Bosmer, Khajiit, Bretons, and Dunmer each gain a +5 boost to Alchemy. Additionally, consider Standing Stone bonuses. The Thief Stone increases thief skills (including Alchemy) 30% faster, while the Lover Stone increases all skills 10% faster.
As with any skill, certain NPCs are willing to share their knowledge with the Dragonborn for a price. For Alchemy, these include Lami in Morthal, Arcadia in Whiterun, Milore Ienth in Raven Rock, and Babette of the Dark Brotherhood. Skill books will also give a boost, though these can be hard to track down.
5 Raise Compatible Skills
Certain reagents are hard to find out in the world, but come readily stocked in shops. Raising Speech allows the player to cheaply purchase items like Daedra hearts and moon sugar. Furthermore, the Merchant perk expands alchemy vendors' selections to include rarer ingredients like pearls and mammoth tusk powder.
Meanwhile, the Pickpocket skill gives the player access to the Poisoner perk. This allows the player to poison a target by slipping a vial of the stuff into their pocket for a dastardly sneak attack.
4 Invest In Perks
As with any skill, more perks become available as the player levels up. Snakeblood makes a great choice for any player, since it provides 50% resistance to all poisons. Green Thumb allows players to harvest two ingredients from mushroom clusters, flower bushes, etc., providing more fodder for crafting.
The Experimenter perk is one of the most useful. The three tiers allow the Dragonborn to learn two, three, and eventually all four effects of an ingredient by eating it. This cuts down on the volume of ingredients lost to unsuccessful experiments.
3 Know Valuable Effects
Just like churning out iron daggers to raise the Smithing skill, sometimes it's necessary to do the same with potions to raise Alchemy. The more valuable the effects of those potions, the more they will raise the alchemy skill and fatten the Dragonborn's coinpurse.
Fortify Stamina is one of the highest-value effects out there. Regenerate Health and Regenerate Magicka are both valuable and fairly common. As for poisons, Paralysis and Fear are valuable both in terms of gold and utility in battle.
2 Complete "A Return To Your Roots"
Deep within Blackreach, the player can find a strange-looking version of the Nirnroot. In the same location, they will find Sinderion's Field Laboratory, containing a skeleton and a journal. This begins a quest to collect Crimson Nirnroot in Blackreach.
Completing this quest can be tedious, but the result is worth it. Bringing thirty Crimson Nirnroots to the Sarethi farm in the Rift will reward the player with the ability Sinderion's Serendipity. This provides a 25% chance to create two potions instead of one.
1 Overlap Effects
Screenshot from Culveyhouse on YouTube
Potions with two or more effects provide extra advantages, and sell for higher value. To make elixirs most useful to them, though, players must decide which effects are most useful to their play style.
A poison of paralysis is incredibly useful, but it's even more so if it also damages health. A single potion can simultaneously restore health and fortify a key skill, like One-Handed or Conjuration. It's these kinds of mixtures that can make the Dragonborn truly unstoppable, and why Alchemy can be such a powerful skill.
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