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Character Progression: How do you deal with the teens?

My question, in brief: with any build I put together, if I truly do it honestly (for example, if I don’t cheese a ton of materials or soul gems to max out crafting first), I find that there’s a massive power gulf between about level 15 and 25-30 on Master. NPCs are just way stronger than the character; simple bandit thugs, basic dwarven spheres and so forth take off 90% of my health with one hit, power attacks are a death sentence. 

Do others find this and if so how do you deal? Turn down difficulty? Spam skill development early before adventuring? Other? I am curious.

EDIT: after typing I remembered that I recently started using Ultimate Combat and I turn on the “damage boost for everyone” check box. That coincides with my first attempts at posting character builds (and therefore a return to being 100% honest and non-cheese with character progression. Maybe that’s the difference I’m seeing?

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  • Sounds normal to me assuming you aren't using any crafting or steroid skills.

  • I'd say turn the difficulty down. The vanilla difficulty setting don't really make the game any harder, just more tedious as it simply lowers the damge you do, while increasing enemy damage. Pretty much everything you can do on adept, you can do on master, only difference is it takes longer. If you want your game to be more challenging I'd suggest using a combat overhaul mod, or a hardcore mode mod for better balance.

    If those levels in specific are challenging for you, use that as a time to focus more on training/ power leveling your skills. Spam spells, train your skills that are falling behind and pay for training when you can. The extra stats and better equipment will help. I don't think power leveling early on in builds is generally useful, I'd only advise doing it if you want to unlock something specific early (smithing to get specific gear, or illusion to unlock silent spell casting). Save that for when you feel your character starting to struggle to make up the difference. 


  • I try to counter the exponential surge in enemy power levels by creating characters who possess all their essential components as early as possible.

    If that doesn’t work for you there is no shame in taking a follower. Even a weak one can take some heat off of you at least for a few critical moments. 

  • I would avoid turning on the hardcore damage settings in Ultimate Combat, unless you really hate yourself that much. 

  • That’s usually around the level I start to level up through crafting or trainers. I think of it as my character gearing up for greater challenges to come. 

  • Good points all - I will definitely revisit that combat mod’s settings, it literally didn’t occur to me that might be my new problem until I posted this question. My current build has about 280 armor and 190 HP and got one shot last night by a Bandit Thug with a one-hander. And instakills are disabled. So that’s just off kilter, I guess!

    But its good to hear others are willing to “forgive” or allow some power levelling tactics. I can let myself do some of that in moderation i guess. But I remember my earliest runs in xbox 360 skyrim—for awhile they all started with murdering ahkari and raiding the dawnstar caravan chest about 50 times to max out enchanting, thats just silly. Since I started actually publishing these things I guess I sort of adopted a mindset that if I wasn’t levelling 100% naturally it was cheap somehow. I will still try to stick to that principle as much as possible. 


    • Powerleveling is not only forgivable it’s perfectly normal. Expected even. I’ll be he first to admit I power level. With nearly 20 builds under my belt I’ve seen it all and just want to hurry the process along. 

      • Maybe the bar I can set for myself is to simply have the level 25/level 50 perk spread I see in many builds, so I know there’s a functional midpoint. Might not even include the level 25 spread in the final build, just have it so I know it works. 

        I think at this point it is clear I am taking myself JUST a bit too seriously lol

        • It’s good that you’re looking out for players who prefer to advance naturally. 

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