Combat in Skyrim can take place between the player and/or any number of Enemies and NPCs. All participants utilize combinations of physical attacks, weapons, or magic in an attempt to kill or overcome their opponent. Combat normally begins when player or another NPC becomes detected by a hostile NPC/ Enemies or otherwise provokes them into attacking. Anything that is hostile to the player will appear as a red dot on the compass until combat has ended.

Combat can be ended in four ways: Player is killed, all enemies that are killed, player moves far enough away to escape form the enemies, or force to end either by a magical effect (i.e. as Calm and Kyne's Peace) or a yield.


Skyrim Combat Information Guide

The Game Screen in Skyrim

1) Compass

Shows direction, locations, and quest markers

2) Target Name

Name of the targeted character and its associated health bar.

3) Crosshair

Helps you target objects and characters

4) Left or Right Hand

Shows your active weapons or spells. Shields can only be equipped in your left hand.

5) Favorites

A list of the inventory items tagged as your favorites.

6) Arrow Count

When you have a bow equipped, the total number of arrows equipped show here.


7) Enchantment Charge

Shows the remaining charge on an enchanted weapon.

8) Magicka

Casting spells use Magicka. Magicka regenerates slowly over time; the regeneration rate can be increased by racial powers or enchanted items. Sleeping, waiting, or potions can also restore your Magicka.

9) Health

The amount of damage you can take. Sleeping, waiting, potions, food or spells can restore your health.

10) Stamina

Sprinting, power attacks, and bashes use Stamina. Stamina regenerates over time; racial powers and enchanted items can increase the rate it recovers. Sleeping, waiting, potions, food or spells can also help restore it.

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The Compass in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

Icons on the compass indicate nearby places of interests like dungeons, cities or farms. Quest Target markers indicate the direction of your active quest objective(s). The Custom Target marker indicates the direction of a custom target you have placed on the world map.

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The Character Menu in Skyrim

There are four main sections to your Chracter Menu: Magic, Skill, Items, and Map.

Bring up the Character Menu by pressing TAB. Tap WASD or ARROW KEYS in any direction to select the corresponding menu, then tap again in the same direction to enter the menu; alternatively hold down WASD or ARROW KEYS in any direction to quickly snap into a menu.

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Quick Overview for Skills in Skyrim

The Skills menu displays the constellations of your character's skills and Perks. Your character's name, level, and race also appear here.

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You have 18 Skills. Under each skill is a bar indicating how close you re to increasing that skill. The more you use that skill, the faster it will increase.


Your Health, Magicka, and Stamina are displayed at the bottom of the screen. Values appearing in red are being negatively modified by spells, abilities, powers or other effects. Values in green are being positively modified.


This determines how close you are to raising your character's level.


Increasing your Skills and Leveling Up in Skyrim


There are three ways to increase a skill

  • Use a skill repeatedly. The lower the skill, the faster it increases from use. The higher the skill, the longer it takes to increase. You can see how fare you are from increasing a skill by checking the bar in your Skills Menu.
  • Train with another character. You can pay some characters to increase your skills.
  • Find a Skill Book. Skill Books increase a particular skill when read.


To raise your level, increase any combination of your skills multiple times. Increasing higher value skills levels you up faster. You can check how far you are from raising your level by looking at the bar on your Skills Menu.


When you level up, you must choose whether to increase your Health, Magicka, or Stamina. You also gain one Perk selection. You can select a Perk immediately or save it for later.

Perks in Skyrim

Perks are special abilities and enhancements to your skills. When you level up, you can select one Perk; you can also choose to save it for later. In order to select a perk, you must meet its skill requirement, and have any pre-requisite perks that it requires. For example, in order to select Destruction Dual Casting, you must first choose Novice Destruction.

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  1. Perks you have chosen (Novice Destruction)
  2. Perks available to you (Destruction Dual Casting)
  3. Perks unavailable to you (Impact)

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Basic Menu Guides for Skyrim

Items Menu in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

The Items menu displays all of your items. You can filter your items by the following categories: All, Weapons, Apparel, Potions, Food, Ingredients, Books, Keys and Misc.

  • Carry Weight: The amount of weight you can carry before becoming overly encumbered. Your maximum carry weight is based on your Stamina attribute.
  • Gold: How much gold you have.
  • Armor Rating: The combined effects of your physical armor, active magical armor effects and any relevant Perks.
  • Damage: The combined damage of your current weapon or weapons.

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  1. A and D or LEFT/RIGHT ARROW KEYS – Enter/Exit lists
  2. W and S or UP/DOWN ARROW KEYS – Cycle through lists
  3. LEFT/RIGHT MOUSE BUTTONS – Equip Weapons in Left Hand/ Right Hand
  4. E or ENTER – Equip/Use/Read Item
  5. R – Drop Item
  6. F – Favorite Item


In the Items and Magic menus, you can define your favorites by selecting the weapon, armor, spell or item you want to mark and pressing F.

While playing the game, you can pull up your favorites list by tapping Q. Then you can then cycle through the list with WASD or ARROW KEYS, equip or use items or spells with E or ENTER, and quickly swap weapons between your left hand (LEFT MOUSE BUTTON) or right hand (RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON).

You can also assign primary and secondary Quick Keys by pressing F to pull up the Inventory/Magic Menu. Then, holding down one of the number keys (1 through 8) from the Favorites menu for about a second. Swap between items during gameplay by tapping the assigned number key.

The Magic Menu in Skyrim


Successfully casting spells will raise your skill in that spell’s school. You can buy new spells from vendors or learn them from Spell Tomes you find in the world.


Tap Z to use an equipped power. Each race starts with a unique power; you may acquire additional powers over the course of your adventure. Only one Power can be equipped at a time, and most can only be used once per day.

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Shouts are special combinations of dragon language that produce powerful effects. Press Z to use an equipped shout. The longer you hold it down, the more words of a shout are used, and the more powerful the shout. You can only have one power or shout equipped at a time.

After using a shout, you must wait before shouting again. Your compass will flash while recharging. When your compass stops flashing, you can shout again. The individual words of each shout must be learned by finding Word Walls in the world. After learning a word, you must unlock it with a dragon soul before you can use it. Dragon souls are absorbed by slaying dragons.


Maps and Fast Travel in Skyrim


The world map shows you the entire province of Skyrim. Roll over icons to display information about locations in the world. Use the MOUSE to move around the map, the MOUSE WHEEL to zoom in and out, and E to re-center the map to your current position. The Local Map showing your immediate surroundings can be toggle by tapping L.

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Click on a location on the map and to fast travel. You cannot fast travel from interiors or while in combat. When you fast travel, time will move forward depending on how far you go. If you have a horse, it will fast travel with you. When traveling to cities, your horse will be placed in the nearest stable.

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The Journal in Skyrim

Press J to enter your Journal. Click on the top menu headers to access Quests, Stats, and the System menus.

  • QUESTS: To set a quest as active, select it and press ENTER. Activating a quest adds its quest target(s) to your compass and your world and local maps. The Miscellaneous category includes special objectives that might lead to new quests, locations, and rewards.
  • SHOW ON MAP: Pressing M opens the world map and displays the location of the quest target.
  • GENERAL STATS: General Stats displays information about your character’s progress through the game.


  • SAVE: Manually save your game at any time.
  • LOAD: Select from a list of previously saved games.
  • AUDIO: Use this menu to adjust volume levels.
  • CONTROLS: In this menu you can reassign the game’s controls.
  • HELP: This menu provides additional instructions on how to play the game.
  • QUIT: Exit to the main menu.


NPC Dialogues and Interactions in Skyrim

Dialogue in Skyrim

To speak to someone, press E. To exit a conversation, press TAB.

  1. Character Name
  2. Topics you have not discussed
  3. Topics you have discussed

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The list of topics you can discuss with this person. You may need to scroll down to reveal additional options. Asking about certain topics may reveal more dialogue options. Lightened dialogue options indicate topics you have not discussed yet. Darkened dialogue options mean you have already discussed this topic, though it may still contain other topics within it. Sometimes you need to get information from a character. Special dialogue options will appear including:

  • Persuade: Convince a character to tell you something with your speech alone. A higher Speech skill grants a greater chance of persuasion.
  • Intimidate: Forcefully persuade a character to talk. Success is based on your Speech skill and level.
  • Bribe: Coax a character into talking with a sum of gold.
  • Brawl: Engage in a fistfight with the character; win and get the information you need. While neither of you can die in a fistfight, if you use a weapon, the fight will turn into live combat with any associated crime.


For a price, some characters can train you to improve your skills. There are a limited number of these characters for each skill, and few can teach the skill at higher levels.


Bartering in Skyrim

Choosing to barter will display both your inventory and the vendor’s inventory. Items above the divider line belong to the vendor; items below the line belong to you. Select any item(s) you want to purchase from the person to buy them. You can also sell your items to the vendor by selecting them from your inventory. Vendors will only buy items of the kind they sell, so not all of your items may be listed. The prices you buy and sell items at depends on your Speech skill and perks. Trading increases your Speech skill.

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You will find hirelings in taverns through the world who you can hire to fight with you. Each hireling has their own combat specialty, and you can give them orders. They can also carry items for you. Sometimes friends will allow you to take items from their inventory as gifts, or agree to join you on your journey. You can sometimes give them gifts in return.


Target your follower, then press and hold E to enter the command state. You can then tell your followers to:

  • Wait at a specific spot on the ground
  • Use an object in the world, such as a lever or chair
  • Attack an enemy
  • Open a locked door or container
  • Pick up items in the world

Not all followers can be commanded, and some may be unable to carry out certain commands. Be warned that guards will find you responsible for crimes that your followers commit.


Basic Combat Tips You Must Know in Skyrim

For even the most skilled adventurer, Skyrim is a dangerous place. Learning the basics of battle is essential to your survival.


There are many types of weapons in Skyrim. The damage you do depends on the weapon itself, your skill, an any pertinent Perks. Heavier weapons take longer to swing, an may do less damage over a period of time than a faster weapon. Heavier weapons also slow you down while moving.


There are two types of attacks: Basic Attacks and Power Attacks. Basic Attacks are quick but do less damage; Power Attacks are slow but do more damage. To perform a Basic Attack, tap the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON. To perform a Power Attack, hold down the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON.


To attack with a bow, hold the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON to draw the bowstring to full extension, then release the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON to fire the arrow. It takes time to draw the bowstring back for a full attack. You can select Perks under the Marksman category to gain abilities like zooming in with your bow.


Certain weapons like daggers, swords, maces, and war axes, are one-handed weapons, and can be used with a shield or dual wielded. Other weapons, like battleaxes, greatswords and warhammers require two hands and cannot be used with a shield or dual wielded. Two-handed weapons are slower, but do more damage.


To block, hold the RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON. A shield or weapon block reduces the damage you take. Shields are more effective at blocking than weapons. To bash with your shield or weapon, hold the RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON and tap the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON. Bashing can stagger an opponent and allow you an opening to strike a blow. You cannot bash with low Stamina.


Each piece of armor you wear adds to your overall protection, or Armor Rating. The higher your Armor Rating, the better you are protected. The amount of protection you receive from armor depends on the armor itself, your skill with that armor’s type, and any relevant Perks you’ve selected.


If you get into a fight with a friend or a guard, you can yield by sheathing your weapon. If your opponent is willing, he will stop the fight.


Basic Skills Guide for Skyrim

Sneaking in Skyrim

Toggle sneaking by pressing Left CTRL. Sneaking allows you to pickpocket, as well as carry out stealthy and powerful attacks. Your stealth state is displayed when you crouch:

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When the eye opens fully and the reticle displays “DETECTED” it means that a nearby enemy has detected you and is position will the lock fully rotate and open. about to attack. When the eye closes fully and the reticle displays “HIDDEN” it means that all nearby enemies have lost track of you and will stop searching.

How stealthy you are is affected by many factors:

  • Your Sneak skill only helps you when you are crouching. The higher your Sneak skill, the easier it is to remain undetected. Increase your Sneak skill by staging successful stealth attacks, or by sneaking within range of a target. There are a number of Sneak perks that grant additional stealth bonuses.
  • Line of Sight: An enemy is much less likely to detect you if he can’t see you.
  • Darkness: You are harder to see in darker areas.
  • Movement: You are hardest to detect when motionless, and easiest to detect when running.
  • Sound: Two-handed weapons make the most noise. One-handed weapons are quieter; daggers and bows are silent. Casting spells makes both sound and light. Heavier armor makes more noise when moving.

Attacking an enemy that has not detected you grants a damage bonus, the amount of which depends on the weapon and can be increased through perks. Enemies will react to sounds in the environment, like arrow impacts or traps. You can sometimes use this to your advantage to lure an enemy out of position.

Lockpicking in Skyrim

Press A and D to rotate the lock and the MOUSE to rotate the lockpick. When the lockpick is rotated, the closer it is to the correct position, the more the lock will rotate before the lockpick breaks. Only when the lockpick is in the correct position will the lock fully rotate and open.

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Pickpocketing Skill in Skyrim

You must be sneaking to pickpocket. Approach the target and activate them to bring up their inventory. Select an item to steal it, or an item from you inventory to plant it on them. If you are successful, the item will be added to your inventory. If you are detected while pickpocketing, a crime will be reported and you will not take the item.

  • The higher your Pickpocket skill, the lower the chance you’ll be caught. Just looking at a character’s inventory is not a crime.

Crime and Punishment in Skyrim


The following actions are considered crimes and are reported if you are detected: Stealing items or horses, pickpocketing an item, picking a lock, trespassing, starting a fight (defending yourself is not a crime), or killing a non-aggressive character.

When a crime is reported, a Bounty is placed on your head for the city or town you are in. The amount of the Bounty depends on the seriousness of the crime you commit. Anyone that sees you commit a crime will become a witness. If you manage to eliminate all witnesses to a crime shortly after it has been committed, the Bounty will not take effect.

With a Bounty, guards will approach and arrest you. If you run, they’ll come after you. If you escape to a different city or town where you do not have a Bounty, the guards there will ignore you. If you are caught by the guards, you typically have the following options:

  • Pay off your Bounty and Avoid Jail. Any stolen items in your inventory will be removed, including items you stole while undetected.
  • Resist Arrest. Guards will attack you if you resist. If you escape, the Bounty will remain on your head in that city or town, and guards will try to arrest you if you return. If you yield by sheathing your sword, the guards may stop attacking you depending on your reputation, though they will still arrest you.
  • Go to Jail and Avoidd a Fine. If you go to jail, you can attempt to pick the lock of your jail cell and escape undetected. To serve your time, activate the bed in your cell and you will appear outside when your time is served. Your progress towards skill increases is lost depending on how long your sentence is.


Alchemy in Skyrim

Alchemy ingredients can be found all over Skyrim. Potions and poisons are created by mixing ingredients together that share a common effect at Alchemy Workbenches. Potions are consumed by your character to grant positive effects, while poisons are applied to your weapons to add additional poison damage. The higher your Alchemy skill, the more powerful potions and poisons you can create. You raise your Alchemy skill by eating ingredients and creating potions and poisons.

All ingredients have four different effects. Discover the first effect by eating the ingredient, and experiment with combining ingredients to discover the remaining effects. If a potion or poison fails, the ingredients had no effects in common. You can also gain Perks that allow you to discover more effects by eating.

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What is Enchanting in Skyrim?

Enchanting is the art of applying magic effects to armor and weapons. To create an enchanted item, you need a learned enchantment, a filled soul gem, and an equipable item that has no enchantment. The higher your Enchantment skill, the better the enchanted item. Enchantments are learned by destroying enchanted items. Take enchanted items to an Arcane Enchanter to destroy them.

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You can find filled soul gems in the world, or create them by using the Soul Trap spell to capture a creature’s soul in an empty soul gem. Some enchantments can only be placed on weapons, while others can only be placed on worn items, or particular kinds of worn items. Weapon enchantments use up charges with each hit and need to be recharged when drained. The power slider and size of the soul in the soul gem determines how many charges the enchanted weapon will hold. Worn item enchantments are permanent and do not require recharging.

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Smelting, Tanning, and Cooking in Skyrim

  • Smelting: Raw ore can be found throughout the world, primarily in mines. At a smelter, you can smelt this ore into metal ingots, which are needed to forge weapons and armor.
  • Tanning: Tanning racks dry animal hides into raw leather. The larger the animal, the more leather a hide will yield. Raw leatheris cut into leather strips, which are used as components for creating armor and weapons.
  • Cooking: Cooking pots allow you to prepare food items that provide various temporary effects. Each recipe requires specific culinary ingredients that can be found throughout Skyrim.

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Forge Equipment with Smithing in Skyrim

Use forges to create new weapons and armor. The higher your Smithing skill, the better weapons and armor you can forge. Raise your Smithing skill by creating or improving weapons, armor, training or reading skill books. Creating weapons and armor requires components that can be found in the world like iron or steel, as well as knowledge of how to create an item. To unlock new weapon and armor options, choose Perks from the Smithing skill constellation.

  • Grindstones: The grindstone improves the damage of weapons. To sharpen a weapon, you need the appropriate materials. The amount of improvement depends on your Smithing skills and perks.
  • Workbenches: Use workbenches to improve an item's armor rating. You need components to help upgrade your armor. The amount of improvement depends on your Smithing skill and Perks.

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Our Recommended Combat Tips for Skyrim

Power attacks in Skyrim

Power attacks in Skyrim are performed by holding down the attack button instead of tapping it. The attack will do extra damage with a chance to stagger the foe, consuming an increased amount of Stamina to perform. The player must have at least 1 point of Stamina remaining to be able to perform a power attack, otherwise the attack will be a normal attack instead.

The power attack being performed can be modified by movement controls, moving forwards, backwards or to the sides will have the player use a different attack. When dual-wielding, holding down both attack buttons will allow the player to attack with a dual-wield power attack, hitting quickly for 3 fast hits. A similar 3 fast punch combo can be done when fighting while unarmed.



Staggering in Skyrim is an effect that will interrupt actions and cause a temporary stun. This effect can be very powerful when dealing with multiple foes. There are many ways players can cause staggering against their foes through various perks, spells, some abilities and even dragon shouts with guaranteed effects. 


Kill Cameras and Finishing moves

Skyrim features a kill camera system that players may trigger to initiate special animations with cinematic slow motion effects in first or third person camera angles. Kill cameras are performed as finishing attacks to a combat and can only trigger if the killing blow would put the player out of combat. This includes stealth kills if the player remains undetected. Kill cameras can be performed on almost any enemy and with just about any weapon, even werewolves can perform a finishing move. In some rare occasions, NPCs and other enemies can perform finishing moves against each other or against the player. 


Combat Skills

A players combat ability is affected and improved by different skills from Warrior Skills, Magic Skills, Thief Skills

Warrior Skills

  • Unarmed Combat: Attack an opponent with your fists, performed by attacking with nothing equipped (spells, weapons or shields) in one or both hands.
  • One-handed Combat: The art of combat using one-handed weapons such as daggers, swords, maces, and war axes. Those trained in this skill deliver deadlier blows
  • Dual-Wielding: A fighting style where one-handed weapons are used in both hands and blocking is prevented.
  • Two-handed Combat: The art of combat using two-handed weapons, such as greatswords, battle axes, and warhammers. Those trained in this skill deliver deadlier blows
  • Archery: An archer is trained in the use of bows and arrows. The greater the skill, the more deadly the shot.
  • Blocking: The art of blocking an enemy's blows with a shield or weapon. Blocking reduces the damage and staggering from physical attacks

Magic Skills

  • AlterationThe School of Alteration involves the manipulation of the physical world and it's natural properties. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Waterbreathing, Magical Protection and Paralysis.
  • ConjurationThe School of Conjuration governs raising the dead or summoning creations from Oblivion. This skill makes it easier to cast these spells as well as Soul Trap and bindings.
  • DestructionThe School of Destruction involves the harnessing the energies of fire, frost and shock. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Fireball, Ice Spike, and Lightning Bolt.
  • IllusionThe School of Illusion involves manipulating the mind of the enemy. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Fear, Calm, and Invisibility.
  • RestorationThe School of Restoration involves control over life forces. This skill makes it easier to cast spells like Healing, Turn Undead, and Magical Wards.

Thief Skills

  • Sneak Attacks: Toggling the sneak control causes your character to crouch or stand. Performing a physical strike to Enemies or NPCs that are not aware of the player's presence will result in a sneak attack that can do a huge amount of damage.


Alternative Combat Systems

Apart from the above traditional combat system. There are several optional abilities and situations that allow you to fight against enemies in unique ways:


  • A brawl is a fist fight that invovles no killing action. Both parties fight without weapons until one surrenders. Some NPCs will challenge player to a brawl and certain quests require you to brawl an NPC.
  • Brawling combat usually starts by selecting a dialogue option that ends with the action "(Brawl)". When combat begins, players' weapons and spells automatically unequip. Player must fight someone by attacking only with your fists or bashing with a shield until a winner emerges. Spells like Healing, or a shield can be used during a Brawl but any damage spell other than bashing or punching (including the passive effect from the Ebony Mail) will void the fight and count as a crime. The rules of brawling prohibit you from healing an opponent.


  • Through the events of certain quests, you can gain the ability to transform into either a werewolf or, with the Dawnguard add-on, a Vampire Lord. Both of these forms change combat in a number of ways, including a forced third-person view, faster movement, improved unarmed damage, and unique attacks and abilities. These forms also become stronger in different ways than the normal character and have certain limitations. For more information on these forms, see their respective pages.

Horse-Mounted Combat

  • Version 1.6 of the Official Skyrim Patch introduces the ability to use melee weapons and bows while riding a horse. Unarmed attacks, magic, Powers, and Shouts cannot be used. While using melee weapons, you will only be able to use whatever is equipped in your right hand (including two-handed weapons which you will be able to wield with only one hand). When the left or right attack control is used, you will respectively make a low swing on the left or right flank of the horse. If the attack button is held, you will hold your weapon in preparation for an attack and swing when the button is released. This strike will consume Stamina upon release but doesn't seem to do any additional damage.
  • When using a bow, you will draw and fire as normal and will be able to zoom in with the Eagle Eye perk. However, if you ride over especially rough terrain or are hit by a power attack, you will be forced to un-nock your arrow. Also, regardless of where you aim your reticule, your arrow will only fire within the horse's front arc of about 180 degrees. Attempting to shoot farther left or right will simply cause the arrow to shoot out at the arc's limits.
  • Obvious advantages to using the horse-mounted fighting style are that you are harder to attack and are much more mobile. Additionally, if enemies block your attack you experience no knockback and can quickly follow up with another strike. One disadvantage to mounted combat is that if your horse is killed while you are riding it, you will be thrown to the ground in a ragdoll-like fashion, and you will be unable to perform any action until you regain your feet.

Dragon Riding

  • During the Dragonborn main questline, you will gain the ability to tame and ride dragons. This introduces a new mechanic of gameplay that also has a different type of combat. While you cannot directly control a dragon as you would a horse, you can give it basic commands to attack or land and can aid it with certain spells and Shouts.

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