Skyrim may not be a Dark Souls or Sekiro, but it can surely catch you off guard if you underestimate the threats the game world has in store for the Dragonborn. There are trolls, sabre cats, bears, giants, draugr, vampires, and of course, dragons. It’s a dangerous world out there.
If you’re looking to protect yourself or deal some damage, one of the best things you can do for your Dragonborn is invest in the Smithing skill. But I’m not just talking about getting Smithing to level 100 (Which is very easy to do). No, we’re going to take advantage of the Enchanting skill to fortify our Smithing and go even further beyond.
It’s a multi-step process and one that you’ll have to do periodically throughout your playthrough, but it’s well worth it.
What You’ll Need
To maximize the benefits of Fortify Smithing, you’ll need the following:
- 100 Smithing
- 100 Alchemy
- 100 Enchanting
- Seeker of Shadows perk (Dragonborn DLC)
- Enchanter Rank 5
- Insightful Enchanter
- Alchemist Rank 5
- Physician (To unlock Benefactor)
- Steel Smithing (To unlock Smithing Perk Tree
- The Smithing perk for your armor of choice
- A lot of alchemy ingredients and jewelry
These are not requirements to have fun with the Fortify Smithing effect right out of the gate. Achieving all of this will take time and a lot of it. But this is where you’ll want to end up if you want the best out of Fortify Smithing.
What Is Fortify Smithing?
Fortify Smithing is a magical effect that increases the improvement level of weapons and armor by a set percentage. It only applies to improving weapons and armor, not creating them. The higher your Smithing level, the more you can strengthen your weapons and armor.
There are six quality levels for weapons and armor you create or improve with the Smithing skill:
As your Smithing level increases, you’ll be able to improve your weapons and armor to higher qualities. Fortify Smithing is the only way to go beyond the Smithing level cap of 100.
What’s the Benefit of Fortify Smithing?
Two words: Armor cap
While wearing four pieces of armor, the armor cap is 567. Add in a shield, and it’s 542. 667 is the ceiling, and every armor piece has a hidden 25 armor rating. Initially, reaching the cap would require wearing one of the highest-tier armor sets, like Daedric or Dragonscale. But eventually, even iron armor can achieve the cap. It really opens up your ability to have fun with different sets.
Want to roleplay as an Altmer loyal to the Thalmor and only wear Elven armor? You can do that. How about roleplaying as the Dragonborn in the promotional material? You can do that, too. I’m personally biased towards Glass and Ancient Nord armor.
And of course, we can’t forget about the weapons. Unlike armor, weapons have no cap, so your damage can go as high as you can make it. Amping up your weapon damage via Fortify Smithing is a great way to punch up in Skyrim, especially on Legendary difficulty or Survival Mode.
Fortify Smithing is also an excellent way to make money. Buy any weapon or armor piece (Try to go Dwarven or above for best results) and the items needed to improve it, then upgrade it at a workbench or grinding stone. You can make nice profits from this and earn some Smithing experience.
To reach the promised land of OP weapons and armor, keep three things in mind: Fortify Alchemy, Fortify Enchanting, and Fortify Smithing.
How do I Obtain the Fortify Smithing Effect?
You gain access to Fortify Smithing in two ways: potions and magical apparel.
Fortify Smithing Potions
Your goal should be to create your own Fortify Smithing potions. They will be more than three times stronger than the ones you can buy. That is after you’ve achieved the cap for Fortify Alchemy.
There are four ingredients in Skyrim that have the Fortify Smithing effect:
- Glowing Mushrooms
- Spriggan Sap
- Sabre Cat Tooth
I recommend that you focus on blisterwort and glowing mushrooms. Not only do the other two ingredients not benefit from the Green Thumb perk, but they’re much rarer in general. Adding a third ingredient to a potion does not increase its’ effectiveness anyway.
Where to Find Blisterwort
You can easily find blisterwort (Along with most other mushrooms) in numerous caves throughout Skyrim, but the best place is Chillwind Depths west of Morthal, with roughly 59 blisterwort.
Chillwind Depths is home to some Falmer, so be careful.
Where to Find Glowing Mushrooms
An early-game location for glowing mushrooms is Bleak Falls Barrow, around 15 near the end of the dungeon. Chillwind Depths is home to 25 or so glowing mushrooms.
To the west of Solitude is a place called Lost Echo Cave. Here you can get nearly 60 glowing mushrooms. It’s yet another Falmer den. Keep in mind that these numbers are without the Green Thumb perk. Once you get that, a few farming runs are all you’ll need to be set pretty much for the rest of the game.
Make sure you pay extra attention when hunting for glowing mushrooms. For most plants in Skyrim, the ones you can forage usually appear in groups. But with glowing mushrooms, you will often find lone mushrooms you can collect. It’s very easy to overlook some for this very reason.
If you want to get involved in the Greenhouse or Golden Hills Plantation content of Skyrim, you can plant both ingredients at your home or greenhouse.
Along with Fortify Smithing potions that you can make, there are pre-made versions you can find or purchase with the Blacksmith’s prefix.
- Blacksmith’s Potion (20% weapons & armor improvement for 30 seconds)
- Blacksmith’s Draught (30% weapons & armor improvement for 30 seconds)
- Blacksmith’s Philter (40% weapons and armor improvement for 30 seconds)
- Blacksmith’s Elixir (50% weapons and armor improvement for 30 seconds)
At the beginning of the game, when you’re just starting, the highest-tier Blacksmith’s brews will likely be better than the Fortify Smithing potions you can make. However, they are not worth buying, as you will surpass them soon enough.
Fortify Smithing Magical Apparel
Four items can possess the Fortify Smithing enchantment:
As a general rule of thumb for any piece of magical apparel, visit every armorer, clothier, and general goods trader looking for the specific magical items you want. It may be bad luck on my part, but I find armor with Fortify Smithing extremely hard to find. You may need to create your own.
There are two unique pieces of equipment in Skyrim that possess the Fortify Smithing effect: The Silver-Blood Family Ring and the Forgemaster’s Fingers.
How to Obtain Fortify Smithing Enchantment
To obtain the Fortify Smithing enchantment, you need to disenchant any item with the effect. I prefer to keep unique gear for collection purposes, but the Forgemaster’s Fingers are easy enough to get and only have the weakest version of the Fortify Smithing effect. You’ll know doubt come across plenty of Fortify Smithing items, though.
After you secure the Fortify Smithing enchantment for yourself, you can apply it to necklaces, armor, gauntlets, or rings. You’ll also need grand or black soul gems filled with souls to make the best enchantments you can. The maximum Fortify Smithing bonus you can achieve per item is 41%.
However, I recommend that you not bother with Enchanting for now. Why? Because your skill levels are low, and your enchantments will be pitifully weak.
The enchanted equipment you make will be worse than the lowest-tier of generic Fortify Smithing equipment (12% bonus). It would be a waste of gold and resources, so peg this step for a later date. Let’s move on to Fortify Alchemy.
What is Fortify Alchemy?
Fortify Alchemy is an enchantment that increases the potency of your potions by a set percentage. Unlike Fortify Smithing, you cannot make potions with this effect.
Given everything you can do with Alchemy, it is arguably the most valuable skill in Skyrim. So yeah, increasing your potions’ potency is a good idea.
Fortify Alchemy Magical Apparel
Four items can possess the Fortify Alchemy enchantment:
There are two unique items in Skyrim that you can disenchant to obtain the Fortify Alchemt effect: Muiri’s Ring and the Ring of Pure Mixtures. The former requires you to be a member of the Dark Brotherhood and complete the Mourning Never Ends quest by killing Nilsine Shatter-Shield. The latter is obtainable via a radiant dungeon request that you can receive from Frida in Dawnstar. More than likely, you’ll find one from a merchant.
How to Obtain Fortify Alchemy Enchantment
Whatever way you do it, disenchant an item with the Fortify Alchemy effect, and you’re good to go. The cap for Fortify Alchemy equipment is also 41% per piece. But like with your Fortify Smithing equipment, it isn’t worth doing until later in the game because your skills are too low. Level 50 Enchanting and a Fortify Enchanting potion won’t be enough to go past a 15% boost on your equipment.
Let’s move on to the final step of the pre-game process, Fortify Enchanting.
What is Fortify Enchanting?
Fortify Enchanting increases the strength of any enchantment that you place on
armor, weapons, jewelry, or clothes. It can only be an effect in potions.
Fortify Enchantment Potions
There are seven ingredients in Skyrim that possess the Fortify Enchantment effect:
- Ancestor Moth Wing
- Blue Butterfly Wing
- Chaurus Hunter Antennae
- Hagraven Claw
- Spawn Ash
- Spriggan Sap
The two ingredients to focus on are blue butterfly wings and snowberries, as they are much easier to come across than the rest.
Where to Find Blue Butterfly Wings
Blue butterflies are easy to find during the day near Holds like Whiterun and Falkreath. Just go on some alchemy ingredient foraging runs during the day, and you’ll watch them stack up in your inventory. They’re also almost always in stock at any alchemist’s shop.
Where to Find Snowberries
As for snowberries, you can get several immediately after escaping Helgen at the beginning of the game. Fast traveling back to Helgen teleports you to the back of the destroyed town. Follow the path up to get another good chunk of snowberries.
Travel to anywhere with snowy weather, like Dawnstar and Winterhold, and you’ll get plenty of them. You can also plant them in your garden or greenhouse.
There are four pre-made Fortify Enchanting potions in Skyrim with the Enchanter’s prefix that you can find or purchase:
- Enchanter’s Potion (Enchantments are 10% stronger for 30 seconds)
- Enchanter’s Draught (Enchantments are 15% stronger for 30 seconds)
- Enchanter’s Philter (Enchantments are 20% stronger for 30 seconds)
- Enchanter’s Elixir (Enchantments are 25% stronger for 30 seconds)
Unlike the Blacksmith’s potions, I do recommend that you buy/keep any Enchanter’s Philter or Elixirs that you find. With a complete set of 20-25% Alchemy gear and level 85 Alchemy, my crafted Enchanting potions were just below Elixirs. They’re not too expensive either, so arguably worth the gold spent.
Alright, boys and girls, we’ve broken down the three components of making Skyrim’s best magic happen. Let’s run you through the entire process.
Quick Method: Fast Track Fortify Smithing Process
You won’t reach the armor cap using this method, but you will vastly improve your armor and weapons by doing so. Are you ready?
Get yourself a complete set of Fortify Smithing gear. Next, head to a workbench and a grinder’s stone and improve your weapons and armor.
That’s it. You’re finished.
Using this method, you can slowly but surely improve your weapons and armor as you adventure your way through Skyrim. I personally find this preferable to the min/maxing method, just because I don’t want to be ridiculously OP too quickly as everything is too easy. I’m a hardcore RPG gamer, and I prefer the tried-and-true steady progression path over hopscotching to the end. To me, it’s more natural and far more enjoyable.
But if you really want that power fantasy going as quickly as possible, we can do that too.
How to Maximize Fortify Smithing’s Potential
Utilizing this method requires a lot of resources, gold, and high levels of Enchanting and Alchemy.
First, you’ll need to get your hands on a complete set of alchemy gear. Just check all the armorers, traders, and clothiers around Skyrim, and you’ll get a set eventually.
Next, craft yourself two Fortify Enchanting potions. I say two because you won’t be able to enchant an entire set of gear within 30 seconds. Make sure you’ve disenchanted a piece of Fortify Smithing gear. Now, drink your Fortify Enchanting potion (s), and create a new set of Fortify Alchemy gear.
Put on your new gear and create two more Fortify Enchanting potions. Then create another set of Fortify Alchemy gear. Repeat this process until you can make 41% Fortify Alchemy pieces. Create a 41% Fortify Smithing gear set while you’re at it.
Finally, make some Fortify Smithing potions. If you have a maxed set of Alchemy gear, the Seeker of Shadows perk, and 100 Alchemy, you should be able to make 174% Fortify Smithing potions.
All that’s left is to head for the nearest workbench and grindstone to create your OP equipment. Have fun OHKOing giants with an iron dagger.
Question: Do I Need 174% Fortify Smithing Potions to Reach the Armor Cap?
Answer: No. 174% potions are overkill, and you’ll reach the armor cap well before then. It’s primarily for the benefit of strengthening your weapons.
Question: How Long Does it Take to Reach Level 100 in Alchemy, Smithing, and Enchanting?
Answer: Level 100 Alchemy and Smithing are easily achieved and quickly earned once you have enough materials to make it happen. A great method is to make yourself rich by selling power potions you make with Alchemy. Sell the potions to armorers and traders, and buy up all their Smithing-related items. Then use those items you bought to power-level Smithing to 100.
Enchanting, on the other hand, is rough. I recommend using some gold from your Alchemy exploits to buy Enchanting training from a Master.
Question: Do the Effects of Fortify Smithing Gear Apply to Companions’ Weapons and Armor?
Answer: Yes, it does, thankfully. I hate when my allies die. I give the best equipment to my companion since they are more vulnerable than I am. No one kills my Lydia.
Fortify Smithing Guide: Conclusion
The world of Skyrim truly opens up when you’re spending less time worrying about your equipment. Skyrim gets rough without using Fortify Smithing. The upgrades you make will be minimal, and you won’t be able to keep up with the leveled enemies the game throws at you. You don’t want to go head-to-head with an Elder Dragon using plain old Dwarven armor, trust me.
I recommend spending some time doing foraging runs for alchemy ingredients so you can start the respawn timer for each zone. After you finish looting and shooting your way through a dungeon, sell off your loot at a blacksmith and buy up their useful materials.
The early game isn’t too bad, so do this for a while to set yourself up nicely in the midgame when things get serious. There are a lot of places to see and things to kill in Skyrim, and you can rest assured that you’ll be ready for them all.