Weapon Skill Lines Guide

Weapon Skill Lines GuideMuch like Armor skill lines, weapon skill lines are also available to all classes and characters. They include Two-Handed weapons, One-Handed and Shield weapons, Dual Wield, Bows, Destruction Staff and Restoration Staff trees. Each of these 6 weapon skill trees has 5 active and 5 passive abilities, each requiring 1 skill point to learn. Some of the active abilities can also be morphed for additional effects and utility. Passive skills in all weapon skill lines have 2 ranks each.

If you need to remind yourself about basics of skill lines be sure to read our guide about it — it’ll give you a basic breakdown of how to get skill lines, leveling abilities, gaining skill points and more. Without further ado, below are all 6 weapon skill lines and a list of passive and active spells in every one!

Two Handed Weapons Skill LineTwo-Handed Weapons Skill Line

Two handed weapons include axes, maces and swords and are used by players who aim to dish out tons of damage in the front lines. Below is a list of passive and active skills in 2-handed weapons skill line!

Active Spells:

  1. Cleave- Deals physical damage to all enemies in front of you and afflicts them with a bleeding affect for 10 seconds.
    1. Brawler – You gain a damage-absorbing shield based on number of enemies hit.
    2. Carve – You gain 3 additional Ultimate points for every target you hit.
  2. Critical Charge- You charge to your targeted enemy and deal physical damage. This attack always deals critical strike.
    1. Critical Rush – Deals bonus damage based on distance traveled.
    2. Stampede – Immobilizes your target.
  3. Uppercut- Deals damage to your enemy and stuns him for 3.5 seconds. Also causes your enemy to be knocked back.
    1. Dizzying Swing – Causes enemy to deal less damage.
    2. Wrecking Blow – Your next attack against the enemy deals extra damage.
  4. Reverse Slash- Deals physical damage to your target, with increased damage based on enemy’s missing health.
    1. Reverse Slice – Deals splash damage to 2 nearby enemies.
    2. Executioner – While slotted weapon abilities deal more damage to low health targets.
  5. Momentum- Increases weapon damage by 10% for 20 seconds, and increases weapon damage by 2% every 2 seconds.
    1. Forward Momentum – Removes 1 snare effect when activated.
    2. Rally – Heal yourself when effect completes.

Passive Abilities:

  1. Heavy Weapons- You gain a bonus based on the type of weapon you have equipped:
    1. Axe: 10% change to cause bleeding on your target for 10 seconds.
    2. Mace: Your attacks ignore 40% of your target’s armor.
    3. Sword: Your attacks deal 3% increased damage.
  2. Balance – The cost of all your two-handed abilities is decreased by 10%.
  3. Forceful Impact – When wielding a two-handed weapon your attacks deal 13% splash damage to one nearby enemy.
  4. Arcane Fighter – Increases the chance to cause status effects like burning or chill by 50%.
  5. Battle Rush – Your stamina regeneration is increased by 25% for 6 seconds when you kill an enemy.

1H & Shield Skill LineOne-Handed and Shield Skill Line

For tanks looking to get increased defenses One-handed and Shield skill line has a great assortment of both passive and active skills to hold your enemies in line as well as help you live through encounters. Take a look at the available abilities below!

Active Spells:

  1. Puncture- Deals physical damage and reduces target’s armor by 40% for 12 seconds. Also taunt the target to attack you for 15 seconds.
    1. Ransack – Increases your own armor rating by the amount you reduce your enemy’s.
    2. Pierce Armor – Reduces the target’s spell resistance.
  2. Low Slash- Deals physical damage and snares your target by 60% for 9 seconds. Also reduces your target’s weapon damage by 15% for the duration.
    1. Deep Slash – Reduces all damage dealt by targeted monster by 15%.
    2. Crippling Slash – Immobilizes your target for 2 seconds.
  3. Defensive Posture- On activation the next projectile spell is reflected to your enemy. While the ability is slotted on your action bar your block mitigation is increased by 5% and stamina cost of blocking decreased by 5%.
    1. Defensive Stance – Reflected attacks stun enemy caster.
    2. Absorb Magic – Absorb spell and heal yourself.
  4. Shield Charge- Charges to your target and stuns it for 2 seconds.
    1. Shielded Assault – Adds damage absorbing shield.
    2. Invasion – Increases stun duration based on distance charged.
  5. Power Bash- Deals physical damage to your enemy and disorients it for 8 seconds.
    1. Reverberating Bash – Enemy has 27 reduced Power for 10 seconds when disorient ends.
    2. Power Slam – Increases damage and duration.

Passive Abilities:

  1. Sword and Board – You deal 3% increased damage and have 10% more block mitigation while equipped with a 1H weapon and shield.
  2. Deadly Bash – Bashing deals additional 50% damage and costs 25% less stamina.
  3. Fortress – Blocking costs 15% less stamina.
  4. Deflect Bolts – You block an additional 15% of projectiles and ranged attacks.
  5. Battlefield Mobility – Your movement speed while blocking is increased by 25%.

Dual Wield Skill LineDual Wield Skill Line

Clearly focused on melee damage characters who like fast attacks, Dual Wield skill line has plenty of tools to help you accomplish your goals. Like every other weapon tree Dual Wield also has 5 active abilities, two of which are morphable, and another 5 passive skills that require you wielding two weapons. Take a glance below to find out how to build your dual wielding assassin beast!

Active Spells:

  1. Twin Slashes- Hits your enemy twice for causes a bleed effect for 7 seconds.
    1. Blood Craze – Adds a small healing over time effect to Twin Slashes.
    2. Rending Slashes – Slows your target by 40% for the duration of the attack.
  2. Flurry- Hits your target six times for additional damage.
    1. Rapid Strikes – Increases attack speed by 15% for 6 seconds.
    2. Blinding Flurry – Every strike has a 4% chance to knock your target off-balance.
  3. Whirlwind- Deals physical damage to all enemies around you, with increased damage on low-health enemies.
    1. Whirling Blades – Restore stamina for each target hit.
    2. Steel Tornado – Has increased radius.
  4. Sparks- Blinds your target for 4 seconds.
    1. Heated Blades – Increase weapon power for next attack.
    2. Ember Explosion – Damage all nearby enemies and increase their miss chance.
  5. Hidden Blade- Throws a dagger dealing physical damage and snaring your target by 40% for 6 seconds.
    1. Shrouded Daggers – Damage and snare enemies in front of you.
    2. Flying Blade – Increased range.

Passive Abilities:

  1. Slaughter – Your damage is increased by 10% on enemies with less than 25% health.
  2. Dual Wield Expert – Increases the damage with your off-hand weapon by 15%.
  3. Controlled Fury – Reduces the cost of dual wielding abilities by 10%.
  4. Ruffian – You deal 8% increased damage to targets who are stunned, disoriented, immobilized or silenced.
  5. Twin Blade and Blunt- You gain bonuses based on weapons equipped:
    1. Axe: 3% chance to cause bleeding effect for 10 seconds.
    2. Mace: Your attacks deal up to 2.5% additional damage to enemies wearing heavy armor.
    3. Dagger: Your critical strike chance is increased by 2.5%.
    4. Sword: All your attacks deal 1.25% bonus damage.

Bow Skill LineBow Skill Line

Archers are one of the staples of Elder Scrolls games, and they certainly didn’t get left behind in TESO. The Bow weapon skill line has plenty of useful active and passive spells that can only be used while you have a bow equipped. Take a look at them below!

Active Spells:

  1. Poison Arrow- Deals instant poison damage to your target and additional poison damage over 10 seconds.
    1. Venom Arrow – Interrupts spells and stuns your enemy for 3 seconds.
    2. Poison Injection – Damage over time (DoT) damage is increased by 35% on targets on low health.
  2. Volley- Repeatedly fires arrows at a targeted location for 3 seconds, dealing physical damage to all enemies caught in the area.
    1. Scorched Earth – Adds additional fire damage.
    2. Arrow Barrage – Increase the range of Volley to 30 meters and its radius to 7 meters.
  3. Scatter Shot- Deals physical damage to your target, knocks them back by 6 meters and causes them to become disoriented for 5 seconds.
    1. Magnum Shot – Deals increased damage and knocks you away from the target.
    2. Draining Shot – Enemy is snared when disorient ends.
  4. Arrow Spray- Deals physical damage to your target and snares them by 40% for 5 seconds.
    1. Bombard – Affected enemies are also immobilized.
    2. Acid Spray – Deals poison damage and adds damage over time.
  5. Snipe- Deals physical damage to your enemy.
    1. Deals 27 poison damage and reduces enemy healing taken by 47% for 10 seconds. Also applies poison status effect.

Passive Abilities:

  1. Accuracy – Your chance to score a critical strike is increased by 3%.
  2. Ranger – Reduces stamina of bow abilities by 10%.
  3. Long Shots – You gain up to a 6% bonus damage to targets based on range (more damage to targets further away).
  4. Hawk Eye – Increases damage of your bow attacks by 8% when attacking vulnerable enemies.
  5. Hasty Retreat – Your movement speed is increased by 25% for 2 seconds after you perform a dodge roll.

Destruction Staff Skill LineDestruction Staff Skill Line

Destruction staves are the bread and butter of mages looking to deal damage, and the staves in their arsenal have fire, frost and lightning damage. Abilities in the Destruction Staff skill tree include both offensive and defensive variants, so be sure to take a closer look at them below.

Active Spells:

  1. Destructive Touch  – Deals magic damage to your enemy with effect based on the staff type (Fire causes knockback, Shock disorient and Frost deep freeze).
    1. Destructive Clench – Adds additional elemental effects (knockback and stun, deeper freeze, disorient and off-balance).
    2. Destructive Reach – Has increased range.
  2. Wall of Elements- Conjures an elemental wall for 2.5 seconds which deals damage to enemies caught inside it.
    1. Unstable Wall of Elements – Wall explodes for AoE damage when it expires.
    2. Elemental Blockade – Increases the size and duration of the wall.
  3. Force Shock- Deals fire, cold and shock damage and applies all three status effects.
    1. Crushing Shock – Stuns your target and set them off balance.
    2. Force Pulse – Damages nearby enemies which are burning, chilled or concussed.
  4. Weakness to Elements- Your enemy takes 40% extra damage from fire, shock and frost sources for 15 seconds.
    1. Elemental Susceptibility – Increases the chance to apply elemental status effects to your enemy.
    2. Elemental Drain – Restore magicka when attacking target with fire, shock or cold damage.
  5. Impulse- Deals magic damage to nearby enemies with a 100% chance to add chilled, burning or disorient effect based on element used.
    1. Elemental Ring – Adds damage over time.
    2. Reduces target’s max health by 10% for 30 seconds.

Passive Abilities:

  1. Tri-Focus – Attack with an effect based on the destruction staff you have equipped (Fire reduces enemy spell resistance for 6 seconds, Frost snares enemy by 30% for 3.5 seconds, and Lightning deals 5% splash damage to two nearby enemies).
  2. Penetrating Magic – Your destruction spells penetrate 3 magic resistance on targeted enemies.
  3. Elemental Force – Increases your chance to apply fire, shock and cold status effects by 8%.
  4. Evocation – Your heavy attacks charge faster.
  5. Destruction Expert – Whenever you kill an enemy with a Destruction spell you restore 17 magicka.

Restoration Staff Skill LineRestoration Staff Skill Line

The whole point of the Restoration Staff skill line is to keep yourself and your allies healed up. A vast majority of spells in the tree are focused on healing, with some giving your allies shields and other buffs. Using Restoration Staves and the abilities in the aptly named skill tree is for many builds the only way to heal themselves, so this tree is popular even with some DPS-focused builds. Below we’ll list all active and passive spells in Restoration Staff skill tree!

Active Spells:

  1. Grand Healing- Heals all allies in the targeted area for 2 health every 1 second. Lasts 3 seconds.
    1. Illustrious Healing – Heal lasts 4 seconds.
    2. Healing Springs – You gain a small amount of magicka for every target healed.
  2. Regeneration- Heals two nearby wounded allies for 33 health over 20 seconds.
    1. Rapid Regeneration – Heal ticks faster and more times.
    2. Mutagen – Effect is removed to instantly heal low health allies.
  3. Blessing of Protection- Heals allies in front of you for 11 health, and gives them additional 15 armor rating and magic resistance for 8 seconds.
    1. Blessing of Restoration – Increases healing done and size of effect.
    2. Combat Prayer – Allies also gain a damage bonus.
  4. Steadfast Ward- Conjures a damage-absorbing shield for 12 second on the lowest health allied target in front of you. The shield absorbs up to 300% more damage based on health lost.
    1. Ward Ally – Shield ally and yourself.
    2. Healing Ward – Heals your target on cast and when the ward expires.
  5. Force Siphon- Buff lasting 20 seconds giving you and your allies a fixed amount of health when attacking a target.
    1. Siphon Spirit – Also restores magicka on hit.
    2. Quick Siphon – Ability is cast instantly.

Passive Abilities:

  1. Essence Drain – Your heavy attacks heal nearby ally for 15% of the damage done.
  2. Restoration Expert – Your healing spells are 8% more powerful on targets under 30% health.
  3. Cycle of Life – You gain 1% additional damage for every 20% health you have.
  4. Absorb – Blocking a spell restores 2 magicka.
  5. Restoration Master – All healing you deal is increased by 3%.

To learn exactly which weapon skills are best for your playstyle (archer, mage, tank, healer or assassin) be sure to check out this guide. It compares all weapon, class and other skill lines to give you only the best builds for leveling, PvP or dungeons which are proven to work!

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8 Responses to Weapon Skill Lines Guide

  1. John Jinnings says:

    I see a lot of discussion of bows and archers, but I have seen nothing on the site that indicates what class and spec is best for being an archer.

    • admin says:

      Nightblades are typically picked as archers, though the Bow skill line can be enough to go with, so other classes can be somewhat effective as well. It’s still too early to go into detailed builds for archers but I’ll see if I can come up soon with some ideas.

  2. Kell Wigmans says:

    In the two-handed weapon skill line there are 3 things I would really like some clarification from. I have included the two pieces of which I would like clarification and I will name the third.
    One and two are as follows.
    It says, I qoute:
    “Two-Handed Weapons Skill Line

    Two handed weapons include axes, mages and swords and are used by players who aim to dish out tons of damage in the frontlines. Below is a list of passive and active skills in 2-handed weapons skill line!”

    Here it says it includes axes, ‘mages’ and swords. Is this a typo for “maces”? Because it confused me incredibly.
    Second, it’s actually the same thing. It says, I qoute:
    “Heavy Weapons- You gain a bonus based on the type of weapon you have equipped:
    Axe: 10% change to cause bleeding on your target for 10 seconds.
    Mage: Your attacks ignore 40% of your target’s armor.
    Sword: Your attacks deal 3% increased damage.”
    Here it says “mage:” once more. So for this example the same answer applies as for the first, at least that is what I presume.
    And third, The “Forceful Impact – When wielding a two-handed weapon your attacks deal 13% splash damage to one nearby enemy.” passive-skill does it apply for mages for I am a high-damage build mage and was looking for extra damage granting passives.
    All three things mentioned above originate from the confusion of staves being two-handed weapons.
    So as a more-or-less all encompassing question.
    Do staves, which are two-handed weapons, profit from the two-handed skill line’s passives?

    I thank you in advance for shedding some light on the matter for me.
    Kind regards

    • admin says:

      The first two were typos. Don’t know what I was thinking but thanks for the heads up :)

      “Forceful” does not add splash damage for Bows, Restoration or Destruction staves. It only works on 2-handed maces (got it right this time), swords and axes.

  3. Nicholas Whitney says:

    OK, is being a spellsword an option anymore. I don’t see a build and I haven’t really looked but just curious. I don’t like using staffs and wanna play as a high elf or dark elf but still utilize their racial affinities towards their build.

    • admin says:

      Templar or Sorcerer could work for that. There are plenty of class spells you could use for DPS which would still go along well with a 2-handed weapon.

      Getting attacked by 3+ monsters, which is quite common after level 50, will put many builds to the test though. Smacking down enemies with a sword while using mana for shields or heals can get increasingly boring as your kill speed is less than that of other more popular builds.

      Once you hit Veteran content you’ll likely want to stay away from atypical builds as they are unfortunately not optimal for most things. Destruction and Restoration staves for DPS and healing are still way better, or of course 1h+shield for tanking (also very good for solo questing).

      Outside of some experiments and fun to be had while leveling there’s really not much room for build diversity in Veteran dungeons or especially trials :(

  4. Ethan says:

    I have a question. Say you use a 1H and shield, but you apply points into dual wielding passives.
    Such as
    (Dual Wield Tree)
    Twin Blade and Blunt- You gain bonuses based on weapons equipped:
    Axe: 3% chance to cause bleeding effect for 10 seconds.
    Mace: Your attacks deal up to 2.5% additional damage to enemies wearing heavy armor.
    Dagger: Your critical strike chance is increased by 2.5%.
    Sword: All your attacks deal 1.25% bonus damage.

    Do you still gain these passives while using a 1H and shield?

    For example if I used a dagger and a shield would I gain 2.5% crit chance if I had a point into Twin Blade and Blunt?

    Or if I had a point into
    (Restoration Tree)
    Essence Drain – Your heavy attacks heal nearby ally for 15% of the damage done.

    Would heavy attacks while using a 2H or 1H and shield also restore HP for a % damage done?

    Or do passives only take affect if you are using the appropriate weapons for that tree?

    • admin says:

      The passives only work with appropriate weapons. Any points into Restoration Staff tree will only work while using a resto staff, not with any other weapons. The weapon(s) also need to be actively wielded to get the benefit, so the passives won’t even work if you’re using them in inactive weapon swap slots.

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