The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Character Creation Guide

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Character Creation Guide 1 -
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Character Creation Guide 1 -

The purpose of this guide is to make it easier to figure out what choices are good during character creation.


Daggerfall, like many of the early CRPG is a game that is very simple yet looks very complicated. Its very difficult to get good information about what things do and what things mean. Once you understand what they do its very easy to make choices which make the game approach a reasonable difficulty but before this its very easy to accidentally make the game unnecessarily hard.
While all of the information for this exists on the UESP it hasn’t been collected in a way that many people will be able understand as a whole. And i’ve seen a lot of people dump points into agility at character creation, which is bad. So that is why this guide exists.

Attributes and General Effectiveness

Fundamentally there are three ways to achieve success in Daggerfall. Avoid enemies via stealth and magic, destroy them with magic, or hit them with weapons.
In general all skill effectiveness is binary. And the probability of success is equal to “Skill % + Modifier”. Some times the skill % has a divisor but for the most part it does not. You either resist a spell completely or you take the full brunt of it. You either avoid an attack completely or you take the full damage. You either deal your normal damage or you do not.
Modifiers are pretty intuitive and the bonuses tend to be quite large. If you’re running you have a penalty to stealth. If you’re sneaking (moving slowly not crouched) you’ve got a bonus to stealth. If your weapons are drawn you’ve got a penalty to talking to monsters.
Any attribute that grants a bonus only grants whole number bonuses except maybe for speed. So 79 Agility is the exact same as 70 agility. Do note, that despite what the game says in text, if its not listed here… its not an actual effect. The “governing attribute” does not have an effect like it does in morrowind.
Strength: +1 damage every 5 points of strength and every 1 point of strength grants 1 point of fatigue and 1 point of carry weight. Its worth noting that the strongest weapon in the game (daedric dai-katana) only does 9-27, or 18 average damage. So +5 points of strength is worth between 40% to 5.5% extra damage.
Intelligence: This increase your total magicka pool. Unless you take a special advantage this gives you .5 magicka for each point of intelligence
Willpower: Every 10 points of willpower increase your probability of resisting a spell by 1%
Agility: Every 10 points of agility grants you +1% chance to hit and -1% chance to be hit
Constitution: Every 10 points of constitution grant +1 hit points per level and +1 HP/Level/Hour healing rate when and every point of constitution grants 1 fatigue
Personality: Every 10 points of personality grant +1 effective reputation with everyone in the game. Its worth noting that doing a quest for someone grants +5 reputation and reputation is moved towards 0 every month by 1. At least in the unity version having a decent amount of personality can make some quests much easier by making it far easier to talk to people.
Speed: Speed increases your weapon attack speed and movement speed by an unknown amount. Attack Duration is equal to 3 * (115-Speed)/115. And so a high speed becomes much stronger very quickly. It also likely that the movement speed advantage is linear per point or 5 points of speed.
Luck: Every 10 points of luck grants you +1% chance to hit and -1% chance to be hit. Additionally you gain +1% chance to climb for every 10 ranks

Combat Skill Effectiveness.

The to-hit chance for ranged and melee is roughly Skill % + Critical Strike % / 10* + (Agility Difference + Luck Difference)/10 +Weapon Bonus – Armor*5 – Enemy Dodge Skill %/4**
What this means is that +1% of your primary to-hit skill is almost worth 10 points in agility or luck. The weapon bonus scales from -10 for Iron to +60 for daedric. So having a ebony dagger at the start of the game is worth +40% to-hit. Or roughly 400 points of Agility.
*This will trigger equal to “critical strike% chance. So at 100 skill, critical strike will give you +10% hit chance 100% of the time. And at 50% skill +5% hit chance 50% of the time. Critical Strike does not increase damage
**Dodge May be bugged in the non-unity version to scale on YOUR dodge chance, making it harder for you to hit enemies if your dodge is better.
That is. Effectively. Each point of your primary skill increases chance to hit by 1%. Each point in critical strike increases chance to hit by .01%. Each 10 points in a agility or luck grants +1% chance to hit.
There is also a bonus applied for certain types of swings but i don’t think this is easily controllable and so isn’t worth worrying about much.
The damage you deal is equal to a random value between the weapon damages maximum and minimum (which is incorrectly listed in classic but is still ordered correctly) plus any associated bonuses from strength, advantages, and race.
The strength advantage is equal to +1 for every 5 points over 50 and -1 for every 5 points under 50.
The racial and class advantages range from +1 every 3 levels to +1 every 4 levels.
If for some reason an attack would do 0 or less damage (negative strength modifier to damage or a phobia) the attack will miss instead.
Armor and Shields and Dodging
Each point of armor reduces your probability of being hit by 5%. The armor that is applied is taken randomly from one of the sections of the body. If you’re wearing a shield its armor value is added to the sections of the paper doll that it covers. So a tower shield will increase the armor for your legs, hands, left arm, and head by 4 which reduces the chance of those parts being hit, given that they’re targeted, by 20%.
So one point of armor is effectively worth 20 points of the dodge skill.
These values are linear and depend on the enemies to hit. So dodge is not worthless and becomes much more important in some cases. But you will not survive on dodge alone. You must armor up eventually.
Hand to Hand Damage
Minimum hand to hand damage is equal to skill/10
Maximum hand to hand damage is equal to skill/5 +1 (or +2 if you have very high hand to hand)

Magic Skill Effectiveness

Magic Spells always do exactly what they say on the tin. The level referred to is the character level. So if a spell does 1 + 5 damage/level it will do 51 damage if its not resisted when cast by a level 10 character.
1 “round” of time is worth about 1 minute of theoretical game time and about 5 seconds of in game time on “very fast” reflexes.
Spells are resisted with a probability equal to the resistance of the monster. If a monster has 0% resistance they will be effected to the full extent of the spell every time. If a monster has 50% resistances they will be effected to the full extend of the spell 50% of the time.
If a spell has a chance this chance is independent of the resistance of the monster and so to effect a monster you must both bypass their resistance if they have any and succeed the chance roll.
But what then, do the skills do?
As a magic skills skill level goes up the casting cost goes down. I am unsure of the exact formula but i THINK its Cost = Base Effect Cost * (115-Skill) / 115. With a minimum casting cost of 5. It is possible to get to 115% via items (created or otherwise) and this will make the casting cost of any spell 5.
This cost is summed over each individual effect a spell has. So if a spell has a destruction, alteration, and mysticism component the casting cost will be Base Effect Cost * (115-Destruction)/115 + Base Effect Cost * (115-Mysticism)/115 + Base Effect Cost * (115-Alteration)/115 with a minimum casting cost of 5.
The practical effect is that regardless of your magicka pool (unless its hard locked to zero) any amount of spells can be extremely effective as the skill and player level increases.
As an example a “basic” regenerate spell heals 1 + 1 hit point per level for 1 + 1 round/level and costs 29 magicka points at 22% restoration. By the time you’re level 15 this will heal 16 HP every 5 seconds for 16 ticks for a total of 256 healing still at the same 29 magicka cost.

Stealth Skill Effectiveness

The probability of pacifying an monster and making them non-hostile until you attack them is
Language Skill + Personality/10 + Weapon Sheathed Modifier
The Modifier is either +10 if your weapon is sheathed or -25 if its unsheathed.
The probability of pacifying a human and making them non-hostile until you attack them is
Etiquette or Streetwise + Personality/5 + Weapon Sheathed Modifier
Thus if you have a skill of 10 for daedric and you have a personality of 50 and your weapon is out you will never pacify a daedra. If your weapon is sheathed you will have a 25% chance to pacify a daedra. The probability of pacifying a burglar if you had a 20% streetwise and 50 personality would be 40% if you had your weapon sheathed and 5% if your weapon was drawn.
Not all enemies are able to be pacified. And the check occurs when you are close enough to activate them and have been noticed so you may or may not be able to control whether you have a weapon out or not. And you may or may not be in line of sight to them either. Many times you will pacify enemies through walls and have a hard time determining which enemy you pacified if they’re the same type.
Note some enemies do not have a language and so cannot be pacified.
Stealth is checked whenever you get close enough to an enemy and every 5 seconds when you’re within earshot or line of sight. I am unsure of the exact formula but it probably looks a lot like the one for pacification with two exceptions
1) The bonus for moving slowly is likely quite large.
2) There is no effect of agility or having a weapon out.
3) There is a bonus for not being in line of sight or being invisible
4) You will not get a notification like when you successfully avoid an enemies notice
Whenever you attack an enemy from the rear you gain +Backstab chance to hit and have a chance to backstab equal to your backstab skill level. If you’re successful then you will do 3 times the normal damage.
Is useless. The probability of lock picking is Skill – Door difficulty*5. You only get one attempt to pick a door until you increase your lock picking skill. As a result until your lock picking is very high more or less you’re failing quite a lot. And then, you cannot try again until the next day and are likely to simply fall back on magic or magic items or just bashing the door down.

Passive Skill Effectiveness

Mercantilism reduces buy prices and increases sell prices. But the amount depends on the skill of the shop you’re selling to. The formula is not so simple as the speed and magic skill effect reductions but you will hit the ability to sell for more than you buy when over 100 skill.
Running when you press the run key your will move 35% faster plus Running Skill/2 % faster. So at 100 running skill you will move 1.85x faster when you press the run key
Jumping Increases your jump height but i am not sure by how much
Medical: Every 10 points of medical grant 1% increased health regen per hour rested. The Base rate is 6% per hour. So a character with 100 medical will heal 16% per hour, and a character with 100 medical and rapid healing will heal 20% per hour resting


Argonian: Swims faster and holds breath better
Breton +30% resistance to magic typed spells
Dark Elf: +level/4 to damage and hit
High Elf: Immunity to Paralyization (+50% resistance in unity)
Kajiit: +30% to climb checks
Nord: + 30% resistance to cold based damage spells
Redguard: +level/3 to damage and hit
Wood Elf: + level/3 to damage and hit with bows
You might notice some things. Redguards are just better than wood elves and dark elves. High Elves have the most “expensive” advantage. Kajiit advantage is only valuable if you do not have a way to levitate (which is very valuable). Argonian advantage is very low if you have access to magic.

Leveling Up and Skill Selection

With the exception of the first level a character levels up every time they increase either their primary skills, the highest two major skills, or their highest minor skill by 15. If you have a minor skill at 15 and a minor skill at 10 leveling up the skill at 10 to 11 will not advance you towards the level. If you have two major skills at 30 and one major skill at 20 leveling up that skill to 21 will note advance you towards the next level.
You may only increase a skill by 1 at a time and you may only increase a skill when you rest. Progress towards the next skill level resets once you successfully raise it.
A skill gains progress towards the next rank when its used successfully. This does not depend on attributes at all. As a result some skills are better or worse to acquire as primary and major skills unless you want to grind those skills into high levels. Passive skills like etiquette and streetwise can take a long time to increase and if you’re concerned about having a hard time leveling up but still want a bonus to them placing one of them in the major category and the other in the minor category can ensure you have a relatively consistent level gain. Similarly having a bunch of skills that are hard to level up due to passive use can make it very hard to gain levels.

Skill Trainability

Some skills are easier to train. Some skills are harder. There are, in general a few categories we could consider. These aren’t hard and fast categories. As some passive skills like running can definitely be trained, butt you probably should not attempt to do so. And this does not imply that they’re all created equal. Its far faster and easier to train destruction than train pickpocket.
Trainable Skills: Skills that you can specifically train without going into a dungeon or needing a particularly difficult setup.
Active Skills: Skills that train when you use them and you have plenty of ability to. These can often be an issue if they fall behind.
Passive Skills: Skills that train when you do an action that you’re going to do plenty of
Difficult Skills: Skills that are difficult to raise.
This is important mainly because of choosing skills for a custom class or evaluating the skills of a class.
Trainable Skills

  • Destruction
  • Restoration
  • Alteration
  • Thaumaturgy
  • Illusion
  • Mysticism
  • Pickpocket

Active Skills

  • Long Blade
  • Short Blade
  • Hand to Hand
  • Axe
  • Blunt
  • Archery

Passive Skills

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Medical
  • Critical Strike
  • Dodging
  • Stealth

Difficult Skills

  • Mercantile
  • Etiquette
  • Streetwise
  • Nymph
  • Orcish
  • Spriggan
  • Daedric
  • Giantish
  • Harpy
  • Centaurian
  • Climbing
  • Lockpicking
  • Swimming
  • Backstabbing

We might note that while Swimming/Climbing/Lockpicking are technically trainable they’re not nearly as trainable as other skills and that this also applies to Etiquette, Mercantile, and Streetwise but you will acquire points in those more often passively than Swimming/Climbing/lockpicking. Running, medical, critical strike, and stealth will generally go up for all characters almost all the time. While Backstabbing will only go up for someone who is good in stealth or illusion. And dodging will go up but will often lag because its better to not be in range of an enemy swing than to train the dodging skill, especially early in the game

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages and Disadvantages are pretty self explanatory with a few exceptions. They also change between the unity version and the classic version. Things not listed here should be easy enough to figure out what they do.
Resistances start at 50% and so in the Unity version “immunity” adds +50% resistance and resistance grants +25% resistance. In the Classic Version immunity grants hard immunity. Low Tolerance and Critical Weakness are the opposite of this. Granting -25% and -50% respectively
Damage” is 12 damage per 4 in-game minutes (or about 20 seconds).
In Light” applies to outside during between the hours of 6 AM and 6 PM and never triggers in a dungeon (but may trigger inside a building)
In Holy Places” applies in temples and “fighter trainer” guild halls (not all fighter guilds but fighter trainer guilds)
Forbidden Armor: Plate is a non-starter except for a challenge. Plate armor is far better than any other armor type and includes all quality armors.
Spell Absorption only absorbs damage dealing spells, always works and grants you the amount of spell points that the spell would cost you to cast, but only if you have enough free spell points to absorb the spell.
Rapid Healing grants 4% max health regenerated per hour when resting.
Bonus to-hit grants +1 damage per character level against the appropriate types of enemies.
Expertise In a weapon grants 1% chance to hit per character level and +1 damage every 3 character levels for all attacks made with that weapon.
Phobia removes 1 damage per character level against the appropriate types of enemies… this is really really bad for a combat character
Adrenaline Rush Grants +5% to hit and -5% to be hit. Its… not great. In the classic non-unity version of the game(I.E. basic steam version) this may do absolutely nothing.
Acute Hearing Increases the range at which you can hear enemies. This may be useful for language or stealth based approaches. In the classic non-unity version of the game(I.E. basic steam version) this may do absolutely nothing.
Athleticism reduces fatigue use by 10%. In the classic non-unity version of the game(I.E. basic steam version) this may do absolutely nothing.

Difficulty Dagger

The difficulty dagger is a scaling effect based on the net advantages and disadvantages that you have. A class that has more advantages will have an “easier” difficulty dagger which produces slower skill progression. A class that has more disadvantages will have a “harder” difficulty dagger which produces faster skill progression. This is in a multiple between .3 and 3. So a class that is very “advantaged” may level up up to 9 times slower than a class that is very “disadvantaged”


So what can we say about making a character or evaluating a class.
1) Not all races are created equal. For mages this doesn’t matter as much but Redguard and Dark Elves are much better combat characters than anyone else due to the extra to hit and damage.
2) Some advantages are very significant. Particularly increased magicka for mages, and expertise and bonus to hit for warriors.
3) Stat allocation can be heavily modified in order to provide significant advantages
As an example the difference between an Expertise’d Warrior Redguard and… A non-expertise’d Warrior High Elf at level 6 is +4 points of damage and +8 points of to-hit. If the redguard has bonus to-hit for undead then they’re rocking +10 damage and +8 to-hit as compared to the high elf. Then compare how difficult skeletons are often in the early game…

Written by goumindong

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