Skyrim features 18 distinct skills that are based around combat, stealth and magic. Individual skills can be improved in a variety of ways, including using the skill, paying trainers, and reading skill books. The most common way to improve a skill is simply to partake in actions related to the skill. For example, if the player wishes to enhance their one-handed level, they must successfully use one-handed weapons in combat. Not only does increasing the level of a skill make it more potent, it also allows players to gain access to perks. Each skill has a set of perks that can only be acquired by leveling that skill up.
This skill can be leveled up by successfully using one-handed weapons including swords, waraxes, maces, and daggers. There are two types of one-handed attacks, including standard ones and power attacks. Power attacks can be executed by holding down the attack button (doing so when the opposing force is blocking will cause the enemy to stagger and become vulnerable to attacks). Increasing the level of this skill will cause one-handed attacks to be more powerful.
- Armsman: There are five ranks to this perk, each one increasing the damage done by one-handed weapons by 20%. There are no requirements for the first rank of Armsman, though each subsequent one will require 20 additional levels to the one-handed skill and the previous rank of the perk. After acquiring every level to this perk, the player will deal twice as much damage than usual with every strike, making this one of the better, if not the best, one-handed perks in the game. The major drawback of Armsman is that the player must use up five perks if they wish to take complete advantage of it.
- Fighting Stance: This perk will reduce stamina taken using power attacks executed with one-handed weapons by 25%. If the player is aiming to use one-handed weapons regularly, then this is a recommended perk since power attacks are, as their name implies, substantially more powerful than a standard attack and is extremely good against enemies with shields.
- Bladesman: There are three ranks to Bladesman, each one increasing the chance of doing a critical attack by 5%. The default chance of performing a critical chance is 5%, so if the player wishes to take all three ranks, they will eventually have a 20% chance of doing a critical attack, but only with one-handed swords. This coupled with some of the other perks will make a warrior-centered character a powerhouse, especially if they are dual-wielding. However, take note that this skill only does 50% of a one-handed sword *base* unmodified damage. (Example: A sword that does 10 unmodified damage will inflict 5 damage. So even if your sword does 70 damage, the critical damage will remain 5.)
- Bone Breaker: There are three ranks to this perk, which should only be used if the player is planning on using maces. Basically with each rank the player will be able to ignore 25% of the armor of opposing forces when using maces. The major downside to this is that unarmored enemies, such as dragons and the like, will be unaffected by this particular perk since they do not have any armor. By rank 3 the player will be able to "ignore" 75% of the enemy's armor, though the player will be required to have Bone Breaker 1, which in turn requires Armsman 1 (which is recommended anyway for any player wishing to play as a warrior).
- Hack and Slash: Similar to the Bone Breaker perk, Hack and Slash only works with certain types of one-handed weapons, this time that weapon being war axes. When attacking with war axes, this perk will cause extra bleeding damage. There are three ranks to this perk, each one causing more and more bleeding damage when using war axes.
- Dual Flurry: Dual Flurry is only to be used if players are wishing to fight using two dual-handed weapons. There are two ranks to this perk, the first one making dual-wielding 20% faster and the second making it 35% faster. Linked with other one-handed perks such as Armsman, Bladesman and ESPECIALLY Dual Savagery (which increases the damage done by dual-wielding power attacks by 50%), Dual Flurry is definitely recommended.
- Critical Charge: Critical Charge will allow the player to deliver devestating attacks to their opponents, though actually executing it can be a challenge. While it doubles critical attacks, it ONLY works if a critical attack is performed, meaning that it is best when joined with Bladesman, which increases the chances of a critical attack. Critical Charge can also only be performed when sprinting, increasing the difficulty of actually executing it even moreso.
- Savage Strike: Savage Strike increases the damage done by power attacks by 25%, but only when standing, meaning this perk cannot be applied to attacks performed when sprinting (if this weren't the case, Critical Charge would be even more powerful). A bonus to this perk is that there is a slight chance that , when performing a standing power attack, the player will slice the head off of their opponent.
- Dual Savagery: This perk increases the damage done by dual-wielding power attacks by 50%. Note that this does not apply to standard dual-wielding power attacks.
- Paralyzing Strike: A challenging backwards power attack that has a 25% chance of paralyzing the opponent.
The following are trainers that can increase the one-handed skill of the player. Note that each time a player trains with one of these characters, it will cost them several coins, the amount increasing depending on the level of the player.
- Amren: A Journeyman Trainer (will level the player up to 50) found in Whiterun.
- Athis: An Expert Trainer (will level the player up to 75) found in Whiterun.
- Burguk: A Master Trainer (will level the player up to 90) found in The Reach.
The following are ways to boost combat skills for as long as a stone is active.
- The Warrior Stone: There are several standing stones scattered throughout Skyrim that, when activated, will increase the player's abilities. The Warrior Stone is the one recommended to players wishing to increase their one-handed skill, as it makes this skill (and other combat based ones) level up 20% faster than usual.