Drevis Neloran in Skyrim being asked "what are the best Illusion spells?"

The Best Illusion Spells In Skyrim

Become a shadow and a whisper...

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Key Takeaway

Illusion has plenty of exciting spells to master as part of your magic build in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Here are our picks of some of the best Illusion spells Skyrim can teach you.

  • Muffle
  • Calm
  • Invisibility
  • Clairvoyance
  • Pacify
  • Hysteria
  • Mayhem
  • Frenzy Rune

Illusion magic is worth learning as it has great leveling-up potential. Self-casting spells like Muffle, for example, can help you pick up valuable Illusion points and general XP for leveling up in Skyrim.

Skyrim has Illusion spells that will let you manipulate minds and bend perceptions to suit your needs. It’s also a great skill to invest your time into if you enjoy stealth gameplay, or prefer finding clever ways to avoid combat.

Table Of Contents

    What You Need to Know About the Skyrim Illusion Spells

    Illusion is one of Skyrim’s five Schools of magic that you can learn on your adventures. It’s an interesting path to take as a spellcaster, with some useful benefits you might not know about.

    This shadowy school of magic has several different manipulative effects that you can use in gameplay. While none of these directly deal any damage, they are in fact offensive spells. Illusion magic has the power to warp the minds of others and shouldn’t be underestimated.

    This devious and stealthy style of spellcasting should suit those looking for a unique playthrough with a sneakier approach to encounters.

    As a student of Illusion magic, you’ll learn ways to instill specific feelings and behaviors—as well as force actions from—the enemies or NPCs you cast spells on. When combined with various perks from the Illusion skill tree, these effects can be magnified and applied to various targets who’d otherwise be unaffected by Illusion spells.

    Using Illusion Magic on NPCs

    You can use Illusion spells to get yourself out of difficult situations with otherwise friendly inhabitants of Skyrim. The use of Calm, for example, can defuse any escalation if you somehow anger an NPC.

    A notification to show Illusion skill leveling up in Skyrim after a pair of hands casts a spell.

    Illusion is also a fantastic choice for faster leveling in Skyrim. There’s no penalty for using the vast majority of Illusion spells in public. This means you can use your mind-altering powers on NPCs repeatedly and it’ll boost your XP. Self-casting will also level up your Illusion and overall XP quickly as well.

    The Best Illusion Spells Skyrim Players Should Learn

    There are lots of Illusion spells to get to grips with in Skyrim. However, for maximum effect during enemy encounters, plus situational benefits, you should focus on the following Illusion tactics. You can pick up some of these spells from specific vendors, as listed here.

    As you level up, more powerful Illusion spells will be available for purchase, so be sure to check back with vendors regularly.

    Muffle

    The Muffle Illusion spell screen in Skyrim.

    Get from: Calcelmo (Markarth), Drevis Neloren, Nelacar (Winterhold), Farengar Secret-Fire (Whiterun), Falion (Morthal), Madena (Dawnstar), Sybille Stentor (Solitude), Wuunferth the Unliving (Windhelm), Wylandriah (Riften)

    This is a vital Illusion spell to use in a variety of situations. Muffle negates any sounds made by your footsteps and armor, rendering you inaudible to enemies for 180 seconds. Such stealth tactics are perfect for slipping past Draugr or Giants and looting their valuables unnoticed.

    It costs 144 Magicka to cast and is an incredibly useful spell when trying to evade detection. It’s also a good spell to cast on yourself from time to time to help you quickly level up in Illusion.

    Calm

    The Calm Illusion spell being purchased in Skyrim.

    Get from: Calcelmo (Markarth), Drevis Neloren, Nelacar (Winterhold), Farengar Secret-Fire (Whiterun), Falion (Morthal), Madena (Dawnstar), Sybille Stentor (Solitude), Wuunferth the Unliving (Windhelm), Wylandriah (Riften)

    Calm is an Apprentice-level Illusion spell that causes creatures and people to calm down and cease aggression for 30 seconds. It has a number of benefits—primarily in situations where you might’ve accidentally picked a fight with an NPC, or if a character turns hostile on you. By casting Calm, you can restore balance to a delicate situation.

    Unfortunately, Calm won’t work on Undead or Daedra, unless you’ve equipped the Master of the Mind perk from the Illusion skill tree. However, for its leveling-up potential alone, it’s worth using on NPCs and creatures to quickly gain some Illusion points.

    Warning
    Be careful though, casting Calm on a friendly target might annoy them and make them turn hostile. You can always fix this by casting Calm on them a second time.

    Invisibility

    The Invisibility Illusion spell screen in Skyrim.

    Get from: Drevis Neloren at the College of Winterhold

    Slip right past the most fearsome of enemies with the Invisibility spell. This is a fantastic skill to have in your arsenal, especially when used in conjunction with Muffle.

    Invisibility lasts for 30 seconds and is broken if you attack anything or attempt to interact with an object. With the Illusion Dual Casting Perk unlocked, Invisibility’s duration is prolonged to 75 seconds.

    It’s an Expert-level spell, and, as such, is only available after you’ve reached level 35. Invisibility also has a pretty heavy Magicka cost to cast. Vanishing into thin air will deplete you of 334 Magicka points. Still, if it means you survive an otherwise impossible situation, it’s worth it.

    Clairvoyance

    The Clairvoyance spell screen in Skyrim.

    Get from: Calcelmo (Markarth), Drevis Neloren, Nelacar (Winterhold), Farengar Secret-Fire (Whiterun), Falion (Morthal), Riverwood Trader, Madena (Dawnstar), Sybille Stentor (Solitude), Wuunferth the Unliving (Windhelm), Wylandriah (Riften)

    If you’re new to Skyrim, this Illusion spell will come in handy. Clairvoyance shows you the path to your current objective, taking all of the game’s terrain into account.

    This can prove incredibly useful when in caves, dungeons, tombs, or any unfamiliar territory in Skyrim. Map and quest markers give you no real indication of how to find your way to an objective. So, in terms of utility, Clairvoyance is incredibly helpful when trying to locate a particular location, object, or character.

    It’s a Novice-level spell that costs a tiny 21 Magicka to cast, so it’s well worth adding to your personal spell collection.

    Pacify

    Get from: Drevis Neloren at the College of Winterhold

    This spell is a much stronger version of Calm and is a great choice for sneakier players who prefer to give combat a miss. As an Expert-level Illusion spell, it’ll work on enemies up to level 20.

    Pacify allows you to buy some time if you find yourself up against hostile creatures and people, forcing them to stop fighting and preventing them from attacking you.

    When Pacify is cast, you’ll have 60 seconds to escape, kill your charmed enemies, or obtain an item without being attacked. Pacify will cost you 290 Magicka and can be cast with both hands if the Illusion Dual Casting perk is equipped. This will also extend the spell’s duration.

    Tip
    The Kindred Gaze perk also enables Pacify to work on people 10 levels higher, including Guards and Thalmor Wizards. The Hypnotic Gaze perk will give Pacify another boost, allowing it to impact all targets eight levels higher than your level.

    Hysteria

    A single-use Scroll of Hysteria being purchased in Skyrim.

    Get from: Completing Illusion Ritual Spell quest

    A Master-level Illusion spell that causes enemies to run in terror, Hysteria is the reward for completing the Illusion Ritual Spell quest. This is available upon reaching Illusion level 100 and involves carrying out some tasks for Drevis Neloren.

    Hysteria creates panic amongst enemies, causing them to flee in fear for 60 seconds. It affects people and creatures up to level 25 and also has a pretty large radius of 250 feet.

    As it has such a large area of effect, you’ll need both hands to cast Hysteria, and it’ll cost you a substantial 866 points of Magicka to do so. However, even some of the game’s strongest enemies will run from combat as a result, meaning you can avoid an encounter or take your opponents down as they’re running.

    Tip
    Equip the Animage, Aspect of Terror, Kindred Mage, and Master of the Mind perks to amplify and extend the effects of Hysteria on enemies up to a maximum level of 45.

    Mayhem

    A single-use Mayhem scroll sold by Drevis Neloren in Skyrim.

    Get from: Completing Illusion Ritual Spell quest

    Another Master-level Illusion quest reward, Mayhem has an incredibly powerful effect on those who fall foul of it. It’s arguably the best Illusion spell to wield if you’re surrounded but don’t want to get your hands dirty. With this spell in your toolkit, you can cause chaos and bloodshed without having to lift your weapon.

    Mayhem incites violence amongst creatures and people up to level 25, with a gigantic radius of effect of 250 feet, and targets will attack each other, alongside anything else they see nearby, for 60 seconds.

    Warning
    It’s important to note that this effect extends to friendly characters as well as enemies, so be careful not to cast it in or near a town or city.

    Mayhem is an extremely powerful area of effect spell that requires both hands to cast and will cost a whopping 990 Magicka. However, it’s ideal for helping you whittle down large groups of enemies in dungeons and caves without having to wear yourself out.

    Tip
    Equip the Animage, Rage, Kindred Mage, and Master of the Mind perks to amplify and extend the effects of Mayhem on enemies up to a maximum level of 47.

    Frenzy Rune (Dragonborn DLC Required)

    Get from: Talvas Fathyron, Tel Mithryn, Solstheim

    After completing the quest From The Ashes on Solstheim, you’ll be able to purchase this rune-based Illusion spell. Frenzy Rune is an Adept-level spell that you cast on the ground for unsuspecting enemies to step on. When stepped on, the Frenzy Rune explodes and causes those affected to attack anyone nearby on sight for 30 seconds.

    Frenzy Rune works on enemies up to level 20, and when used in conjunction with the Rune Master perk, will have a range of 100 feet. Additionally, the Master of the Mind perk enables Frenzy Rune to impact Undead, Daedra, and even automatons.

    This is a great spell to use if you want to set traps for your enemies and watch the deadly consequences from afar.

    How to Level up Illusion Magic

    The Illusion perk tree in Skyrim.

    The higher your Illusion skill, the more efficient your spellcasting becomes. You’ll also use less Magicka when casting as your skill level increases. There are five levels of Illusion proficiency to progress through.

    • Novice Illusion
    • Apprentice Illusion
    • Adept Illusion
    • Expert Illusion
    • Master Illusion

    Using Illusion spells during regular gameplay in Skyrim will help organically and rapidly grow your skill level. In addition, you can discover unique Illusion skill books that’ll give your powers of manipulation a quick boost upon reading. You’ll find these listed in the Illusion Tips section below.

    You can also pick up some Illusion point bonuses by completing the following quests and objectives.

    • Complete Kill The Vampire for +1 Illusion Point from Sybille Stentor (Blue Palace, Solitude)
    • Complete Pantea’s Flute for +1 Illusion Point from Pantea Ateia (Bards College)
    • Choose “The Path of Magic” when reading the Oghma Infinium after completing Discerning The Transmundane for +5 Illusion Points

    Illusion Trainers

    Visiting one of Skyrim’s specialist Illusion trainers will help you master the art of mind control a lot faster. As long as you have the required gold, you can learn from either of the two dedicated Illusion trainers in Skyrim. They’ll help you upskill your Illusion magic, but you’ll need to complete a couple of quests to access everything they’ve got on offer.

    Skyrim’s Master-level Illusion trainer is the sorcerer Drevis Neloren, who resides at the College of Winterhold. He’ll train you up to level 90 and will provide access to the Master-level Illusion quest once you reach Illusion skill level 100. He also sells a selection of Illusion spells for you to add to your roster.

    Drevis Neloren, Skyrim's Master Illusion Trainer.

    The other Illusion trainer is the Orc sorceress Atub, who lives in the Orc stronghold of Largashbur. An Expert-level trainer, she’ll only offer to train you after you successfully complete the quest The Cursed Tribe.

    Atub, the Expert-level Illusion trainer in Skyrim.

    Illusion Tips

    There are five skills books you can read to increase your Illusion level. Make a note of them and keep an eye out for them whilst searching caves, ruins, residences, tombs, and jails.

    • 2920, Sun’s Dawn, Volume Two
    • Before The Ages of Man
    • Mystery of Talara, Part Four
    • The Black Arts On Trial
    • Incident at Necrom

    Certain character races have Illusion skill boosts. If you want to focus on mind-altering magic in a new playthrough, consider choosing one of the following races.

    • High Elf (+10 starting Illusion bonus)
    • Dark Elf (+5 starting Illusion bonus)
    • Breton (+5 starting Illusion bonus)

    Cast Muffle on yourself repeatedly to rapidly increase your Illusion skill level. This is a great way to boost your prowess during the early stages of your Illusion build.

    Some enemies, such as Dragons, are immune to Illusion spells. However, with the Master of the Mind perk unlocked, Illusion spells will work on Vampires, Daedra, and Automatons.

    Higher-level Vampires may still resist Illusion magic, so unlock the Necromage Restoration perk to give your Illusion spells a boost on these enemies.

    Frenzy is a fantastic spell for causing havoc amongst large groups of enemies. Cast correctly, and it’ll cause enemies to turn on one another and attack without prejudice. This way, you can cull large numbers of opponents without ever having to get your hands dirty.

    Illusion spell tomes can sometimes be looted from various locations across Skyrim. Some key places to pick them up include the Embershard Mine, Treva’s Watch, and Hob’s Fall Cave. Their appearance scales with your level, so they may not appear until you’re experienced enough to find them.


    Illusion spells have a lot to offer you if you’re playing Skyrim with a mage build. Having the power to turn fights with a single spell shouldn’t be underestimated. Additionally, Illusion magic fits in perfectly if you prefer stealthy, more manipulative gameplay. With its leveling-up potential thrown in, Illusion is an excellent School of magic to focus on.

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