Alteration, one of the five schools of magic in Skyrim, affects the world around it by altering the laws of reality and manipulating it to one's own accord. Increasing this skill reduces magicka cost when casting Alteration spells. Historical information about the School of Alteration is provided in the lore article. The Alteration skill tree has a total of 10 perks, requiring a total of 14 perk points to fill.
In-game Description: The School of Alteration involves the manipulation of the physical world and its natural properties. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Waterbreathing, magical protection, and Paralysis.
Alteration contains a range of defensive and utility effects.
- Magic Armor spells provide a high, but temporary, level of armor protection, particularly with the right perks.
- Magic Resistance up to a passive 30% bonus is available via perks.
- Spell Absorption via the Atronach perk. This is one of only three ways to obtain spell absorption.
- Utility spells like Candle/Magelight, Waterbreathing, Telekinesis, Detect Life and Detect Dead are all of general use when exploring.
- Transmute allows you to turn Iron Ore into Silver Ore and Silver Ore into Gold Ore.
- Paralyze is the only really offensive aspect of this School of Magic.
 Skill Perks
|Perk||Rank||Description||ID||Skill Req.||Perk Req.|
|Novice Alteration||Cast Novice level Alteration spells for half magicka.||000f2ca6|
|Alteration Dual Casting||Dual casting an Alteration spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version.||000153cd||20 Alteration||Novice Alteration|
|Apprentice Alteration||Cast Apprentice level Alteration spells for half magicka.||000c44b7||25 Alteration||Novice Alteration|
|Magic Resistance||1||Blocks 10% of a spell's effects.||00053128||30 Alteration||Apprentice Alteration|
|2||Blocks 20% of a spell's effects.||00053129||50 Alteration|
|3||Blocks 30% of a spell's effects.||0005312a||70 Alteration|
|Adept Alteration||Cast Adept level Alteration spells for half magicka.||000c44b8||50 Alteration||Apprentice Alteration|
|Expert Alteration||Cast Expert level Alteration spells for half magicka.||000c44b9||75 Alteration||Adept Alteration|
|Atronach||Absorb 30% of the magicka of any spells that hit you.||000581f7||100 Alteration||Expert Alteration|
|Master Alteration||Cast Master level Alteration spells for half magicka.||000c44ba||100 Alteration||Expert Alteration|
|Stability||Alteration spells have 50% greater duration.||000581fc||70 Alteration||Adept Alteration|
|Mage Armor||1||Protection spells like Stoneflesh are twice as strong if not wearing armor.||000d7999||30 Alteration||Apprentice Alteration|
|2||Protection spells like Stoneflesh are 2.5 times as strong if not wearing armor.||000d799a||50 Alteration|
|3||Protection spells like Stoneflesh are three times as strong if not wearing armor.||000d799b||70 Alteration|
||Magicka Base Cost||Description and Effect Details||Where to Get|
Spell ID: 00043324
Tome ID: 0009e2a7
|44||21||Creates a hovering light that lasts for 60 seconds:
Spell ID: 0005ad5c
Tome ID: 0009e2a8
|44||103||Improves the caster's armor rating by 40 points for 60 seconds:|
Spell ID: 00043323
Tome ID: 000a26e2
|87||84||Ball of light that lasts 60 seconds and sticks where it strikes:
Spell ID: 0005ad5d
Tome ID: 000a26e3
|95||194||Improves the caster's armor rating by 60 points for 60 seconds:|
Spell ID: 000211ee
Tome ID: 000a26e7
|332||100/s||Nearby living creatures, but not undead, machines or daedra, can be seen through walls:|
Spell ID: 00051b16
Tome ID: 000a26e4
|341||266||Improves the caster's armor rating by 80 points for 60 seconds:|
Spell ID: 0001a4cc
Tome ID: 000a26e5
|326||170/s||Can pull an object to you from a distance. Add it to your inventory or throw it:
Spell ID: 00109111
Tome ID: 00109112
|200||100||Transmutes one piece of unrefined Iron ore to Silver, or Silver ore to Gold if the caster is carrying any:
Spell ID: 0005d175
Tome ID: 000a26e6
|340||222||Can breathe water for 60 seconds:
Spell ID: 000211ef
Tome ID: 000a26ea
|600||148/s||Nearby dead can be seen through walls:||
Spell ID: 0005ad5e
Tome ID: 000a26e9
|650||341||Improves the caster's armor rating by 100 points for 60 seconds:||
Spell ID: 0005ad5f
Tome ID: 000a26e8
|685||450||Targets that fail to resist are paralyzed for 10 seconds:||
Spell ID: 000cdb70
Tome ID: 000d2b4e
|1389||837||Caster ignores 80% of all physical damage for 30 seconds:
Spell ID: 000b62e6
Tome ID: 000dd646
|1280||937||All targets in the area that fail to resist are paralyzed for 15 seconds:|
Spell ID: 000da746
Tome ID: 000f4997
|N/A||250||0 (25 health)||Convert 25 points of health into magicka per second. Caster can be killed by this effect:||
 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.
 Mage Armor and Exceptions
Despite the phrasing of the Mage Armor perk, wielding a shield does not negate the effects. The user receives the benefit of this perk along with the usual benefits of a shield.
There is also a small assortment of apparel that have an armor rating, but can be worn without disabling the Mage Armor effect:
- Amulet of Articulation
- Diadem of the Savant
- Fine Armguards
- General Tullius' Armor
- Locket of Saint Jiub DG
- Miraak's Boots DB
 Magical Effects
A list of standard alteration spells can be found on the Alteration spells page. The following individual effects are all considered to be part of the school of Alteration (see the individual effect pages for full details on availability; the Magical Effects article also provides a summary):
 Skill Increases
 Character Creation
The following races have an initial skill bonus to Alteration:
- +1 Alteration reward from Dravynea the Stoneweaver for completing the quest Dravynea's Frost Salts.
- +1 Alteration reward (as well as +1 to all other magic skills) from Pantea Ateia (Bards College) for completing the quest Pantea's Flute.
- +5 Alteration (+5 every Magic skill) by selecting "The Path of Magic" when reading the Oghma Infinium after completing the quest Discerning the Transmundane.
 Gaining Skill XP
- Casting higher level spells gives generally faster skill increases (Novice<Apprentice<Adept<Expert<Master).
- 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 Alteration enchanting effects, which is very helpful for Alteration training.
 Casting with Enemies Nearby
Repeatedly casting high-duration Alteration spells (like Oak Flesh, Stone Flesh, Iron Flesh, or Ebony Flesh) while in a combat situation will quickly increase one's Alteration skill. An effective method for doing so very quickly:
- Find a place with an enemy or enemies that only use melee attacks that also has a high platform or place otherwise out of reach of the enemies. Preferably, kill all but one of the enemies: Bleakwind Basin works very well for this purpose. Alternatively, along the shore of the Sea of Ghosts, the Horkers can be made aggressive without them actually attacking, allowing one to move far enough away to use the Wait function but still close enough to train the skill. And then there's Roadside Ruins, where a Spriggan Matron will notice the player, but she cannot attack since she's trapped inside. Slaughterfish can also be exploited by getting their attention and then standing on a nearby shore to cast.
- With both hands, continually cast the highest level Alteration armor spell. Casting the higher-level spells progresses the skill faster (Oak < Stone < Iron < Ebony), so it might be advisable to take a break part way through to go buy them once you've reached a level where the better spells are available. Often the enemy will run far enough away from your location to allow you to use the Wait function. If so, wait an hour to get more Magicka to keep casting the spell, or just wait until it refills itself. The giants in Bleakwind Basin will almost assuredly run away, though, if you're standing on the rectangular pillar near their fire. Mammoths never run away from you when they can't reach you. Using this method, one can go from 0 Alteration to 100 Alteration in roughly 40 minutes, but it depends on total Magicka available, particular spells cast, and the location chosen.
- Use a follower or permanent summon to continuously attack an NPC that cannot be killed. If your ally can keep the NPC on their knees, this leaves you free to repeatedly cast a spell.
Magelight can be cast anywhere for a small amount of XP, such as while walking to some distant destination, making this a sure but slow way to level Alteration.
 Water Breathing Trick
After you learn Water Breathing, another way to quickly level Alteration is to stand in water and repeatedly cast Water Breathing. You don't actually have to be underwater, just standing in it (this only applies to pools of water you could actually dive into; so the small streams in Whiterun won't work, but the river outside will).
 Casting Detect Life Spell in cities
The Detect Life spell increases your Alteration experience depending on the number of targets it is currently detecting. Using it on your horse in the wilderness is almost useless, while using it in crowded location (the market in Riften during the day, for instance) gives incredible training speed. The more living objects in range, the better.
Solitude - 8:00am until 5:00pm: from the west entrance, follow the road leading to the Blue Palace. Just a little bit after you go under the bridge is a small "cliff side" on your left. If you stand there wearing 100% Alteration Magicka reduction equipment or use the Secret of Arcana power, two-handed casting of Detect Life for about 10-15 minutes should get you to 100 Alteration. The downstairs of the Blue Palace, once the player has completed the Stormcloaks questline, is also a good place to train, as there will be up to 15 people within the range of your spell. Likewise, you can use the Palace of the Kings in Windhelm if you sided with the Imperials instead.
 Casting Telekinesis
Holding any object in the air with Telekinesis without picking it up also gives a very high amount of experience. If the suspended object touches any NPC they will become hostile though, so be careful.
 Transmuting Ore
Outside combat, you can gain a substantial amount of Alteration experience if you know the Transmute spell by using it to transmute iron ore into silver and gold ore. Even at low levels of Alteration, it should be possible to cast Transmute (an Adept level spell), although if you have been busy mining it may take a long while to turn all of your iron into gold (which you can then smith into jewelry for Smithing experience). The Transmute spell is not available from spell merchants, but the spell book is in two fixed locations in dungeons.