News: 12 Easy Exploits to Raise Thief Skills in Skyrim

12 Easy Exploits to Raise Thief Skills in Skyrim

Here is the final part in Null Byte's series on mastering the skills in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. We have already covered the slick and brutal methods to raise our Spellcasting and Combative skills. Skyrim's intelligent new leveling system has trumped the former methods of spamming repeated moves to raise levels quickly. Rather than casting a spell, or jumping up and down constantly, the new system requires that we use our skills in practice to get experience for them. This causes leveling to be a thing that doesn't happen so often.

Using the skills in practice means that we have to hit our opponents with a blade, or conjure a wolf that actually kills something to gain experience in the respective skill areas. Well, I missed leveling up a few times after I headed into a dungeon. So, I decided to start nitpicking at the way the game gives experience, and I've come up with my lists of exploits for them. We are going to raise all of our thief skills to master level (100) in this tutorial! This tutorial will be presented by listing the skill school, and then a description of the skill, followed by each exploit to raising that skill to 100. Here is what you need to know:

  • These exploits do not require you to have skill perks.
  • It is recommended that you have the Thief Stone active to receive a 20% experience boost.


Alchemy is the art of making potions and poisons.

  • Do not eat ingredients. This does not give you experience because a potion is not created.
  • Wear as much clothing as you can to raise your alchemy skill. Having a higher alchemy while crafting potions actually raises it faster.
  • Create potions out of all of your ingredients. Use them all, it will maximize experience.
  • Buy as many ingredients as possible. Shops replenish daily and Markarth is exactly 25.5 hours away from Riften. Fast-traveling from Markarth to Riften will make sure you get into town during the same time you left—plus 1.5 hours, a day later. This will cut down on waiting for shops to open if you arrive during nighttime, and will allow a near infinite supply of ingredients.

Light Armor

Those trained to use Light Armor make more effective use of Hide, Leather, Elven, Scaled, Glass, and Dragonscale armors.

  • Turn the game to an easier difficulty setting. After, travel to any major city, and hit one of the guards. Resist arrest and then proceed to run around the city until you round together 5-10 guards (the more, the better). Make sure you have healing spells or plenty of potions, then let all of the guards beat on you for a good while. Your skill should be level 100 within an hour.
  • If you are not strong enough to fight guards, find something small like a Wolf or a Skeever and let them hit for a while.12 Easy Exploits to Raise Thief Skills in Skyrim


The art of Lockpicking is used to open locked doors and containers faster and with fewer broken lockpicks.

  • Lockpicking is a bit harder to level than the rest of the skills. The best way of boosting the skill is to get the Skeleton Key as soon as possible by completing the "Blindedsided" quest for the Thieves Guild. Upon getting the key, simply find a master-level lock, and purposely break the pick every time (the Skeleton Key can never actually break, though). Every pick attempt that fails will give you quite a bit of experience. This will raise your lockpicking skill very quckly.
  • Simply put...pick every lock that you come across. Most of the time, one picked lock is equal to a whole skill level when you are below a lockpicking skill of 50.


Sneaking is the art of moving unseen and unheard. Highly skilled sneaks can often hide in plain sight.

  • Right at the start of the game, you can repeatedly sneak attack Hadvir. He won't even attack the player back, and every successful sneak attack yields huge experience. 20 minutes is all you need to get to sneak level 100. This works because Hadvir can't die, and will not fight the player.
  • Turn the difficulty up to Master. Fast travel to High Hrothgar and sneak up on anyone who is praying. Perform sneak attacks on them with a fast swinging one-handed weapon, like a dagger, and watch the huge amount of experience you get per successful hit. Make sure you save, you will die often if you don't.


The stealthy art of picking an unsuspecting target's pockets. A skilled pickpocketer is less likely to be caught and is more likely to loot valuables.

  • The heavier an item is, the more valuable it is, or the more you steal from pickpocketing, the more likely you are to be caught. However, the bigger the risk of getting caught, the more experience your character will farm from it. The easiest way to level your pickpocketing is to bring your most valuable items with you to a sleeping NPC's house, and then dump your inventory into theirs. After, you can "steal" your stuff back, and get large amounts of experience. Be careful though, and make sure you save after every item you steal, because it is quite easy to get caught if your skill is low.


Speechcraft is a stealth arts skill that allows the player to influence and persuade NPCs to like and trust him or her, sometimes divulging vital information that they would not normally reveal to the average person, and lowering bartering prices.

  • Head to Haelga's Bunkhouse, it's in Riften. Find an NPC named Ungrien, and then ask him about the Maven Black-Briar. Keep pushing until you get to the pursuasion speech challenge. You can repeat this challenge over and over, it's only requirement is a speechcraft skill of around 25. This can easily be achieved wearing amulets or jewelery that raise the skill.

There you have it! All of the skills in Skyrim exploited and mastered. Someone should see how fast they can max a character's levels out and post it here. If you'd like to chat about Skyrim with fellow gamers and hackers, head over to the IRC. You can also follow Null Byte on Google+ and Twitter to get updated on our latest articles.

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How do you sneak attack? Just swing while sneaking? I have 48 archery can I sneak attack with arrows? Will it work the same way as it would with a dagger?

you can sneak attack with arrows. What I did was to carry really cheap arrows (7 damage) throughout the game and alert the enemy before you attack. If you sneak attack with arrows you have a high chance of a 1 hit kill. But if they are alert, it will take several arrows to kill them, raising your archery naturally. Most regular enemies in the game are pushovers, so as long as you don't panic you won't get too hurt. I did this and my archery was lvl 100 before level 30. Also once you have a lot of money you can train archery or any skill like a madman. That's what I'm doing with with light armor.

each weapon has a different sneak attack
daggers go up to x30 swords go up to x6 and bows go to i believe x3

Idk why they make this game out to difficult to lvl. up in....All you really have to do is play witch ever way you'd prefer and it'll increase. ppl are just looking for the easy way out and it's kind of sad. This is a pretty common sense leveling system...just do whatever you like to do and you'll get better....#$%@ing stumble bringing me to these newb sites...

This isn't a guide on how to play the game normally, it's a guide on how to exploit the skills and level them up as quickly as possible. Skills like destruction, if not exploited, take literally 100's of hours of gameplay.

Also, please refrain from calling my work a "newb site", what I do on this site goes far beyond exploiting a video game. You should have a read on some of the other blog posts and maybe learn a thing or two and join the IRC.

You are stating the obvious. Anyone who plays Skyrim knows that you level up while doing the things you like to do. I think you are missing the point of the article.

well some skills are really hard to grind like pickpocketing
and besides would you like to play osrs and grind runecrafting for 48 straight hours

I wonder if you still think this way or if you're stuck on level 62 now like me.

I want to fight a legendary dragon for the achievement on PS4 before I can start downloading mods, but they only appear at level 70 or above. I've never even gotten past level 50 before despite playing this game on PS3 for nine years beforehand. You seem to hit a wall leveling naturally around level 50 and every level past that is a real struggle. That's how most games with a leveling system work. Level 70 was the wall in Path of Exile. Level 50 is the wall for Pokémon. In Minecraft, every level past 30 is a chore. Eventually exploits will start looking nice to any player. In the end, exploits aren't hacks, they're strategies, and the people who use them are clever for doing so. Instead of newbs, I might even venture to call them pros.

In Riverwood at the start of the game, make Sven happy by completing his quest by giving the fake letter to Camilla. He is then available as a follower. Have him follow you, then pay him to train you in Archery. After your five trainings per level, trade items with him and get your money back. This gives you Archery training up to level 50 for free.

This was included in a different thread :). Thanks though, it's a great exploit :D, hope Skyrim is treating you well ;).

Its actually Faendal! I do this with almost all of my Bosmer characters.

i think you mean faendal

Great tips on thief skills, also it will take practice and you will break few lock picks for sure but ultimately, you will become a master thief if you choose a good combination of perks and lock pick enough locks to level up the skill so that you can open more advanced locks later in the game. Found these great leveling tips for skyrim, similiar to this article, check it out: leveling tips

alternatly on the PC version you can use the consol type tdetect and go to town on any mission in sneak mode and kill every attacker around (tdetect turns off the detection AI for all would be attacker) This frees you up to sneak stright up to them face first and gain massive sneak skill fast.

I teste several of the Sneak-skill training tips but eventually i found the one with the blind guy in the cave East of Whiterun to work best i stuck with sneaking on Hadvar in the cave at the start for a bit until 30 Sneak before i decided to try the cave guy i put a rubberbanf on my xbox controller, pointed the stick down while standing behind him and let it go for a few minutes. It seemed to work so i went to work for about 9 hours but i reckon it's nearly if not already maxed 4 hours in at this time.

Haven't tried the High Hrothgar trick yet and i was about lvl 5 or so with around 28 archery, 30ish one handed and Sneak at 30ish

Another way to lvl sneak is to go to Paarthurnax and sit under or behind him and hit him whenever ths eye closes with a dagger. Its easy and you wont die. Edit: if you hit him too quickly and you have defeated Alduin he will attack. Oops.

For a dagger, I reccomend a low one unless you plan on healing him each time his health goes all the way down.

theres actually a easier way to level speech

  1. do the op restoration potion trick to make a broken item
  2. sell it and the better value the higher it goes up

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