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Guide to Soul Gems and Enchanting

Discussion in 'Skyrim Articles' started by ShenziSixaxis, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. ShenziSixaxis

    ShenziSixaxis Article Writer

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    An aspect of Skyrim's game play is the use of soul gems, and item enchantment. The game does explain how enchanting and soul gems work, but not in great depth.

    Contents (use the Control+F command to quickly find the info you need!) ::
    1. General Soul Gem Info
    2. Black Soul Gems and Azura's Star
    3. Soul Sizes
    4. Enchanting Basics
    5. Leveling
    6. Skill Tree Perks
    7. Random Notes


    First off, this is an Arcane Enchanter:
    slide.jpg

    Secondly, these are soul gems (black soul gem is not included, nor Azura's Star) :
    [​IMG]




    1. General Soul Gem Info
    First, you need to know what a soul gem is before you even think about enchanting! Basically, a soul gem is a pretty rock of a light purple and/or blue color that can store a creature's soul to be used as energy. The smaller the soul gem, the more purple it is; the larger the soul gem, the more blue it is.

    You can find soul gems in many places. The most common ways are finding them in burial crypts (dungeons), Dwemer cities/ruins, vampire lairs, and to buy them from merchants (particularlly court wizards like Farengar or mages at the College of Winterhold). If you're feeling adventurous, you can go look for enemy mages or Forsworn and kill them, then see if they had a soul gem on them. More often than not, they don't, but most of the time they have one, it's a filled soul gem. Yet another way is to complete the College of Winterhold questline and do the Aftershock quests as they appear. I won't spoil it for you, but doing that as often as you can will yield you a gold reward and three filled soul gems of differing size for each time you do that quest. There are also geode veins in Blackreach that give out precious gems and level-based empty soul gems.

    When a soul is captured, the name of the soul gem will change in your inventory. For example, instead of reading as “Petty Soul Gem”, it will now read as “Petty Soul Gem (Petty)”. This means it can be used to recharge a weapon enchantment, or be used to create a new enchantment on an item.

    Now you're probably wondering, “But how do I fill a soul gem?” Easy! There are two ways to go about this: one way is to learn the soul trap spell and then cast it on a creature in combat. If you kill it within sixty seconds and have an empty soul gem of proper size, the creature's soul will be captured when it dies. The second way, and also the best way in my opinion, is to use a weapon with a soul trap enchantment. You can either make this yourself if you have the necessary items, or buy one from a shop keeper. If you use the item to kill an enemy, you will capture its soul into one of your soul gems. It's like the first method with a step taken out. (I should note that there is a perk on the Conjuration tree called Soul Stealer. If you have this perk, killing an enemy with a bound weapon will capture the creature's soul, assuming you have an empty soul gem of proper size.) (I should also note that a soul gem's value is multiplied three to four times when it is filled, depending on the soul gem size, and the size of the soul within the gem.)

    And now you're probably wondering, “Now what the heck do I do with my filled soul gem?” Good question! As stated, there are a few uses for filled soul gems: enchanting a weapon or piece of apparel, recharging a weapon enchantment, or selling them for gold. What you do with them is your choice.


    2. Black Soul Gems and Azura's Star
    Before we continue, it's important that I detail the two special types of soul gems: black soul gems, and a daedric artifact called Azura's Star. First, I should explain that there are two types of souls: white souls, and black souls. White souls are the souls of non-sentient creatures, such as foxes, bears, etc. Black souls are the souls of any NPC that is of one of the playable races. For example, orcs and nords have black souls. (Side note: though creatures like Falmer, Draugr, and hagravens are intelligent enough to talk, they do not have black souls.) The problem is, normal soul gems cannot hold black souls. That's where the black soul gems come in. Black souls are always detailed as the largest type of soul, a grand soul, but seem to be even stronger than creature grand souls.

    Azura's Star is obtained at the end of the quest titled “The Black Star”, and may be obtained in one of two ways. “Azura's Star” refers to the artifact in the way it should be: as an unbreakable soul gem capable of holding souls of creatures. The “Black Star” refers to the same artifact in a corrupt way: as an unbreakable black soul gem. No matter its state that you choose to obtain it as, it functions as a soul gem, and cannot be broken. However, it will only hold one soul.


    3. Soul Sizes
    There are a few different sizes of soul gems. They are listed here from smallest to largest: petty, lesser, common, greater, grand, black. A soul gem can be filled with a soul of its size or smaller, but not larger. For example, a grand soul gem will hold a grand soul or any soul size smaller, but not a black soul. A common soul gem will hold a common sized soul, or a smaller size soul, but not a greater, grand, or black soul.

    In general, the stronger a creature is, the larger the soul. I would type out a list of soul sizes for creatures, but the last time I did, I wasted an hour and my laptop crashed. When it crashed, it corrupted the document I had spent hours working on. I'm not doing that again. Instead, here's a link to a page with all the soul sizes: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Souls

    (Fun fact: While setting up this text to be posted on the site, my laptop crashed again. It really does not like soul gems or enchanting. o_O)

    The larger a soul, the stronger the charge it will create on an item you are enchanting. For example, if you enchant a piece of armor with Fortify Health, using a filled black soul gem will yeild you the best results. With my current enchanting skill and perks, I can add eight points to my health with a piece of armor made with a petty soul gem. However, if I do the same thing but use a black soul gem, that piece of armor will add 50 points instead!

    That general rule isn't the same with weapons though. I can create a fire damage enchantment on a dagger and get the same enchantment no matter what soul size I use, but its new value won't be as high if I use a petty soul gem. For example, if I enchant a pickaxe with Absorb Soul with my current skill level using a black soul gem will raise the value to 669; if I use a petty soul gem, the value only goes up to 339. However, the Absorb Health charge is exactly the same.

    Keep in mind that not all creatures have souls to be captured, such as Dwemer machines.


    4. Enchanting Basics
    Now to start learning how to enchant things! First, you must obtain an enchanted item, then take it to an Arcane Enchanter and disenchant this. When you disenchant something, the item is destroyed, so if you find an item with a powerful enchantment, it's not recommended to disenchant it unless you have a high enchanting level.

    An excellent place I've noticed for finding enchanted items is Nord burial crypts (dungeons). Draugr may have enchanted weapons equipped, especially the ones before the end of the crypt (i.e. the “boss” draugr). You may also find enchanted items just hanging around, or in chests or burial urns. Vampire lairs and mages also sometimes have enchanted items. Same with stronger bandits (marauders and chiefs in particular).

    Once you've learned an enchantment or two, take an unenchanted item, pick an enchantment, pick a filled soul gem, and enchant it!


    5. Leveling
    Leveling your enchantment skill can be done in many ways.
    • Disenchanting items. Skill gain increases with the value of the item.
    • Enchanting items that do not currently possess an enchantment. Same skill gain regardless of item and size of soul gem used.
    • Using a Soul Gem to recharge weapons, (Soul Siphon does not count). Larger skill gains based on size of soul regardless of actual charge gained.
    • Skill books
    • Training

    A good way to go about leveling is to also level your speech and smithing at the same time. Here's a step by step guide:
    • Gather smithing items
      • Either iron and leather, or a lot of leather. Decide whether or not you will be making iron daggers or leather bracers. Leather bracers need one leather and two leather strips. Iron daggers need one leather strip and one iron ingot. Which item you'll make depends on how easily the items needed are to obtain for you. If you encounter a lot of animals and take their pelts, leather bracers may be preferable. If you encounter a lower amount of animals but can take the time to mine a lot, iron daggers would be preferable for you. Keep in mind that iron is the only metal in which one ore creates one ingot; all over metals need two ores.
    • While you are collecting materials, it is a good idea to take along empty soul gems and fill them, either with the Soul Trap spell, or with a soul trap enchanted weapon. This way, you get two tasks completed at once.
    • Find a blacksmith's forge and create your item. Whiterun is a good place, as there are two blacksmithing places, one at the gates, and one on the way to Dragonsreach (which you'll need to head up to for the Arcane Enchanter).
    • Once you've made all the items you can head up to Dragonsreach, or another place with an Arcane Enchanter. Once there, start enchanting the items.
    • After you've enchanted all the items you can, sell them off, or keep what will be useful to you. If you have enchanted all that you can and ran out of soul gems but still have items left over, I recommend that you keep them in a home or living quarters that belong to you. That way, you can go back to leveling your enchanting skill when you have more soul gems.
    Selling items increases your speech skill.

    There! You've successfully worked to level three skills at once!


    6. Skill Tree Perks
    Within the skill tree for enchanting, there's quite a few useful perks. The right branch is rather useless in my opinion. The left and middle branches are perfectly useful, however.

    The middle branch has two perks that makes enchantments on armor stronger. This means that enchantments like Fortify Health, Fortify Magicka Regen, Fortify Magicka, Fortify Stamina, and similar enchantments will be stronger. Good for mage type characters, or just a player looking for some help against dragons.

    The left branch has perks that make Fire, Frost, and Shock based enchantments on weapons and armor 25% stronger. Obtaining the fire perk means you'll be able to deal lots ofdamage to enemies, as will the frost perk. The shock perk, however, means that fighting dragons and magic users will be easier. I've noticed that when attacking a dragon with strong shock spells before they use a shout will cause the Shout to either be cancelled, or be shortened greatly. Use this to your advantage!

    The last perk is the perk that requires a 100 skill level in Enchanting: Extra Effect. This allows you to put two enchantments on one item. This is amazingly useful. I don't need to explain it.


    7. Random Notes
    This area will detail little tid bits of info that I didn't feel fit in elsewhere.

    If you give a follower empty soul gems, plus a weapon with a soul trap enchantment, they will be able to fill all soul gems in one go. Just make sure that you don't give your follower, for example, fifty grand soul gems and allow the follower to kill a wolf. All those gems will be filled with a petty soul, a huge waste.

    Without looking at the item's name or its description in your inventory, you can tell if an item is enchanted based on its appearance. Enchanted items have colored decorations on them, sometimes resembling a thick spider web. They also make a sound when unsheathed.

    The Notched Pickaxe, as well as random items that may be found in the world, can increase smithing ability. If you use these, and also add the enchantment to all that you can and then wear the enchanted items, you can create some very powerful weapons.

    In addition to the above, there are potions that will temporarily increase the strength of your enchanting. If you use the potion and already have a high enchanting level and relevent perks, you can place high damage enchantments on high damage weapons.

    The higher your level, the more enchanted items you will come across. In addition to that, the items will usually also have better enchantments.

    Followers can use enchanted items, including staffs. Weapon enchantment charges will never run out when used by followers.

    While enchanting an item, you can rename it. For example, I am currently dual weilding daedric swords, one with a fire damage and absorb health enchantments, and the other with a shock damage and absorb magicka enchantment. The first one looks rather red, while the other looks quite blue. On the other hand, they look identical in my favorites list, so I renamed them. The red one was renamed to “Sword of Fiery Health Absorbing”, and the blue one to “Sword of Electric Magicka Sapping”.

    If you have a soul gem with a small soul in it, you can drop the gem, then pick it back up and it will be empty.

    Mage robes can be disenchanted. The Arch Mage Robes, however, cannot be disenchanted.

    Unique amulets (such as of Talos, of Arkay, etc) cannot be disenchanted.

    Some items cannot be disenchanted, such as the Dragonbane and Ring of Hircine.



    Well, I think this about covers everything about enchanting and how to use soul gems! Got any questions or comments? Feel free to send me a PM or comment on this article.

    The slider image was taken from TonyNinja's Arcane Enchanter re-texture mod, found here.

    Like this article? Download it here!
     
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  2. Zoridium JackL

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    very informative, where were you a week ago when I was enchanting my mage? ;)
     
  3. Oren74

    Oren74 Active Member

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    If you give a follower empty soul gems, plus a weapon with a soul trap enchantment, they will be able to fill all soul gems in one go. Just make sure that you don't give your follower, for example, fifty grand soul gems and allow the follower to kill a wolf. All those gems will be filled with a petty soul, a huge waste.
    Best piece of info. I can't stand switching weapons in battle. Let your follower do it.

    Excellent write up!!!
     
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  4. Zoa Two Tails

    Zoa Two Tails Cloak and Dagger Artist

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    Something to add about your black start section would be that you can have any soul in the black one. Atleast this is how it is on the console idk about the pc. My cousin has reportedly used the black star for any soul as well and he is on the pc version.
     
  5. DragonSnake

    DragonSnake Dovah Kroniid

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    This was really usefull. I'll start enchanting more, thanks for the tips.
     
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  6. ShenziSixaxis

    ShenziSixaxis Article Writer

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    Zoridium: Good question! I think I was laying comatose in bed like the lazy teenager I am. :p

    Zoa: I noted that soul gems can hold souls of their highest size or smaller, so I feel like it's obvious that black soul gems can hold any soul. That's how any black soul gem is supposed to work, including the Black Star.
    I've heard of no difference in soul gem programming between console and PC versions.
     
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  7. Necromis

    Necromis Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Zoa, the glitch in the Black Star is that it will absorb any soul, black or lower, where the other will not absorb black souls. It works that way on any platform, PC xBox or PS3.
     
  8. ShenziSixaxis

    ShenziSixaxis Article Writer

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    It's not a glitch-- it's how the Black Star is supposed to work: as an unbreakable black soul gem. Black soul gems can hold any soul, therefore so can the Black Star.
     
  9. Necromis

    Necromis Well-Known Member

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    Actually it is a glitch. If you read the quest there is two options. One is to go to her and have the white version which will absorb all but black souls, a *pure* version of it. The black star is supposed to be an evil corrupt version that ONLY absorbs black/human souls. If you read the wikies on this item and the quest it will help straighten out your misunderstanding. Black soul gems and the black star are not the same thing.
     
  10. asparticus_maraudius

    asparticus_maraudius I am asparticus fear my wrath!!!!!!

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    yes and also another question....do I need a black soul gem to fill up a enchanting for soul trap weapons??
     
  11. ShenziSixaxis

    ShenziSixaxis Article Writer

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    Any soul gem can be used.

    Necromis: I'll double check all that then.
     
  12. Nakatsu_Hime

    Nakatsu_Hime Active Member

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    So, what are Soul Gem Fragments then, and are they in any way useful?
     
  13. ShenziSixaxis

    ShenziSixaxis Article Writer

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    At best, soul gem fragments are best used as a spice.


    But no, there's no use for them yet except to earn you a few septims by selling them.
     
  14. Nakatsu_Hime

    Nakatsu_Hime Active Member

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    Thanks. I shall use them to throw at the small children that keep hassling me. Perhaps they'll try to eat them and choke.
     
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  15. nix-nein-never

    nix-nein-never New Member

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    thanks so much for making this! much needed and appreciated
     
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  16. Daaaah Whoosh

    Daaaah Whoosh Article Writer

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    I just want to say, the best enchantment to put on your weapons is the Paralysis enchantment. No matter your Enchanting skill, there is the same chance of paralysis, and even a paralysis of one second is usually enough to turn the tide of battle, since the enemy still has to stand back up after the effects wear off. I always enchant my weapons with one second paralysis, and I would highly reccomend it for anyone who finds it difficult to take on multiple enemies at once.
     
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  17. Soar Tueth

    Soar Tueth Member

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    As I enchant my items, I like to rename them to distinguish an Ordinary Glass Bow from an enchanted one. A simple way to do this is to put the @ sign in front of it. This sorts it to the top for quick access. When I learned double enchanting I named them @@.
     
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  18. ShenziSixaxis

    ShenziSixaxis Article Writer

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    Paralysis can definitely be useful, but it's literally 100% useless against dragons. Maybe even some other enemies.
     
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  19. Soar Tueth

    Soar Tueth Member

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    I like Absorb Health. I vampirically heal while fighting, as my foes lose theirs, on top of the 46 fire damage and about 140 from my legendary Glass Sword.
     
  20. Soar Tueth

    Soar Tueth Member

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    How well do items with the same enchantment enhance the effect? If I have a ring, necklace, and gauntlets of Smithing, each claiming 20% more, what's the net improvement? 60%? Or gauntlets of 40% more bow damage plus a ring with the same yields 80%?
     

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