Skyrim is a massive open-world RPG that players can easily spend dozens of hours in within a single playthrough. There are countless quests to undertake, stories to uncover, and characters to learn about and interact with. However, the game is also a massive presence in the speedrunning community. Fans of Skyrim who want to speedrun the game do so because of how large of a sandbox it provides, the numerous ways of approaching the game, and how impressively fast the community has been able to get through the massive game. So, if you want to speedrun Skyrim without using glitchless, here’s everything you need to know.
Key Info Up Front
Category: Glitchless Any %
World Record: 1:12:15 by nucular
Genre: Open-World RPG
Before You Begin
Before attempting to speedrun Skyrim, you should play through it at least once normally. This will help you familiarize yourself with the game’s mechanics and help you know exactly where you need to go and why during your runs through the main quest. Once you’re ready to start speedrunning, the first thing you should do is make a save just after completing the character that you’ll use for your runs. This will save you from sitting through the long introductory cutscene every run and make sure that you have a consistent character. Your character’s appearance doesn’t matter, but you need to use a High Elf with maximized height. This will increase your run speed throughout the game, which is essential when trying to move as fast as possible.
You’ll also want to make sure the file is started on Novice difficulty to take care of enemies as quickly as possible while playing on an older version of Skyrim without the DLC downloaded so that they don’t bog down your load times. You should also know that Skyrim speedruns don’t count loading screens and instead use the in-game time to determine the run’s length. This is so that a runner’s playthrough isn’t impacted by the hardware they’re running the game on to keep things as fair as possible.
To make your run successfully, you’ll first need to familiarize yourself with the game’s mechanics that you’ll be taking advantage of. This will help you get through everything as fast as possible and allow you to skip the unnecessary parts of the game to avoid wasting time.
There are nearly infinite ways to build a character in Skyrim, but for your speedruns, you’ll want to follow the template set by the current world record holder nucular. Most Skyrim speedrun builds leave you at first level to keep the enemies you’ll face from leveling up and becoming more difficult. For most of the playthrough, you’ll be using the Flame spell given to you during the tutorial section for combat, which you’ll be able to use thanks to the Magicka Regeneration increase innate to High Elves consistently.
This build will only change a few times during your run. The first is when you meet Delphine in her secret room. Once you gain access, grab the Orcish Greatsword mounted on her wall to use when facing off against dragons. You’ll also want to grab a set of Elvish Armor during the Thalmor Embassy quest and replace the Orcish Greatsword with Dragonsbane later on in the questline. Finally, you’ll also need to be on the lookout for the Conjure Flame Atronach spell when you get to Winterhold to buff your damage later in the run.
One of the largest parts of a successful Skyrim run is knowing how to get around its map as quickly as possible. You’ll be using a combination of fast travel, sprinting, and hiring carriages to get around. Before you can fast travel to a location, you first have to discover it, which is where the carriages come in handy as you can hire them to fast travel you to a city for your first visit there. However, it does cost some money, so you’ll need to collect some loot as you go to afford their fees a few times.
The Befinits of Day Drinking
Later in the run, you will also take advantage of the Skyrim‘s win consumable. Wine is a unique consumable in the game in that it refills a portion of your Stamina while decreasing the rate at which you naturally regenerate Stamina for a time. However, if you have enough wine to use at once, you can repeatedly drink it to have effectively infinite Stamina to sprint with.
Guard Skipping is an exploit that is still allowed in Skyrim glitchless speedruns. It is very useful for this run, as it will enable you to get away from guards pursuing you without fighting or paying them. This allows you to get away with the numerous instances of stealing things necessary for this run. To perform a Guard Skip, you have to have guards pursuing you in an area with a door that activates a loading screen. Wait by the door with your weapon drawn until a guard gets close to you to do the skip. When he does, select to exit the door and hit the button to sheath your weapons immediately after. If you do it correctly, when you first load in on the other side of the door, you will be able to fast travel away as if guards weren’t pursuing you.
Bumping is another exploit that does not invalidate a glitchless speedrun, and it is used to skip the dialogue of characters throughout the game. When one is going to talk, and you want to skip the sometimes lengthy dialogue, you can sprint into them from behind to make them stumble and skip the lines altogether.
Now that you’re familiar with the mechanics and tricks you’ll be using during your playthrough, we can look at what you’ll be doing. You have to complete Skyrim‘s main questline for this speedrun, meaning you’ll have to learn your destiny as the Dragonborn and stop Alduin from destroying the world. For this path, I’ll break it down by each main quest and give you notes on what to look out for, any tips to help it go faster, or what to avoid while running through it. As you attempt your runs, you’ll become more familiar with each path and dungeon, allowing you to find your preferred way of making it through them as quickly as possible.
For the Helgen tutorial, you’ll want to ignore as much of the game’s tutorial as possible. Instead, you should learn the path that it expects you to take and run through it while trying to avoid as much of the required combat as possible. You can ride Alduin up by jumping on his wing through the first hole he makes in the wall when you’re going up the tower. Then, when he makes the second hole in the wall jump from his wing to the wall of Helgen below. You can then run along the wall until you can drop off and go through the door of the building just outside of the city. There will be an NPC waiting for you that you’ll need to bump twice to skip his lengthy dialogue. From here, you can run through the remainder of the tutorial as quickly as possible.
Throat of the World
From Helgen, you’ll need to run to Anise’s Cabin, Riverwood, and then Whiterun as fast as possible. Make sure always to sprint when you can, and let go of sprint whenever you fall any distance to retain as much Stamina as possible. You can then go straight to Dragonreach and talk to the Jarl to start the Throat of the World quest. Fast travel back to Pelagia’s Farm and steal one of the nearby horses before traveling back to Riverwood. Ride to the base of the Throat of the World and make your way up with your horse by jumping on the inclines steadily. It may take a while to find the exact path you’re looking for, but it is much faster than walking up the long intended path crawling with monsters. Once you reach the top and deal with the Greybeards, fast travel back to Anise’s Cabin.
Bleak Falls Barrow
From Anise’s Cabin, ride straight to Bleak Falls Barrow. Once you’re at the dungeon, run through it as fast as possible, ignoring all enemies. At the end of the dungeon, you’ll have to fight Arvel, which should not be very difficult while dual-wielding your Flames spell. Once Arvel is dead, loot him and fast travel to Dragonreach.
Talk to the Jarl and Court Wizard in Dragonreach before fast traveling to Anise’s Cabin and running to the Western Watchtower. Then, go to the stables and pay to be taken to Windhelm. When you get there, fast travel back to the Western Watchtower. Kill the dragon that is there and loot it thoroughly. Fast travel back to the carriage and pay for it to take you to Markarth, Riften, Solitude, and Morthal. If you need money, you can sell the items you got from looting the dragon. Then, fast travel back to High Hrothgar.
Use bumping to progress through the dialogue with the Greybeards as quickly as possible. Go until you get the Whirlwind Sprint and use it to complete the quest before fast traveling to Markarth.
From Markarth, run toward Karthspire and use Whirlwind Sprint and some cheeky jumping to get to Sky Haven Temple. Once you have Sky Haven on your map, fast travel to Morthal and run to Ustengrav while using Whirlwind sprint to speed things up whenever possible. Once you get to Ustengrav, get through it as fast as possible in a similar way until you complete the dungeon and fast travel back to Riverwood.
Go to the inn and talk to Delphine repeatedly to get through her dialogue. Steal as much wine as you can carry from around the inn and grab the Orcish Greatsword from Delphine’s wall. Fast travel to Windhelm, using a Guard Skip if necessary from stealing the wine. Run and use Whirlwind Sprint to get to Dragon Mound. Kill the dragon there using the Orcish Greatsword and loot everything inside it. Talk to Delphine to finish up at the Dragon Mound and fast travel back to Riverwood.
Talk to Delphine in her secret room before fast traveling to Solitude. Go to the Thalmor Embassy as fast as possible and get inside. Run through the Embassy and steal any wines that you come across. Get to the basement, kill the guard there, steal the documents you need, and leave the building to fast travel to Riften.
From Riften, you’ll need to head straight to Riverwood and get a guard there to chase you. Then, run to the Ratways until you reach Esbern. Use a guard skip to get out of the sewers as quickly as possible after you get Esbern and fast travel to Riverwood. Let Esbern and Delphine talk to each other and then fast travel back to Sky Haven Temple. Once there, run through it and use Whirlwind Sprint as much as possible until you grab Dragonsbane. Then, bump your way through the conversation at the wall and fast travel to Winterhold.
The Elder Scroll
At Winterhold, you’ll want to hit a guard so that he arrests you and sends you off to jail. Once in jail, you can pick your way out and leave the hold to run to Septimus’ hideout. This method may seem convoluted but will drastically cut down on time it would normally take to run to Septimus’ hideout from the Winterhold fast travel spot. Then, pickpocket Septimus and take everything in his inventory before traveling back to Winterhold. From there, run and use Whirlwind Sprint to Raldbthar and get through the Raldbthar Deep Market as fast as you can. Eventually, you will have to complete a puzzle to open the gate, which is easily done by removing bones that are jamming up the gate’s gears so that you can pull the levers to open it. The gears are easy to find and using Whirlwind Sprint, you should be able to progress past the puzzle in no time.
After the puzzle, you’ll progress to Blackreach, which you also have to run through as fast as possible. This will take you to the Tower of Mzark and get through it as quickly as possible. You’ll eventually get to a button puzzle to reveal the Elder Scroll you went there for. To get through the puzzle, push the buttons in this order:
- Push the second button from the right four times in a row.
- Push the second button from the left twice in a row.
- Push the leftmost button once.
Then, you’ll be able to rush down and grab the Elder Scroll. Leave the dungeon through the nearest door and then fast travel to High Hrothgar.
The First Alduin Fight
Once you’re at High Hrothgar, you need to find Arngeir and talk to him. He’ll give you the Clear Skies shout, and once he does, you need to fast travel to the Throat of the World. There you can talk to Paartthnuux and read the Elder Scroll with him, after which Alduin will attack. When the cutscene showing how Alduin was defeated in the past, you’ll want to make sure you have Dragonrend ready to go so that right when the white screen fades out, you can use it to hit Alduin and pin him to the ground. You then should have Dragonsbane out and attack him with it. As long as you use Dragonrend with just a quick press of the shout key so that you don’t use the entire shout, you will be able to use it again before he takes off. So, while you’re fighting at him, you want Dragonsbane in one hand and your healing spell in the other. Then, keep your eye on your health, Alduin’s health, and your shout as you swing at him. Always use Dragonrend immediately when it is available to keep him on the ground, and use your healing spell to heal back up if you drop too low. This fight is very difficult and is one of the hardest parts of the run. So, you’ll want to make sure to quicksave just as the fight begins so that you can immediately try again if you die. Once Alduin is dead, you’ll want to fast travel back to High Hrothgar, the Throat of the World, talk to Parthurnaax, and then fast travel to Dragonreach.
The Peace Council
Once you’re in Dragonreach, talk to the Jarl about attending the Peace Council. Then, fast travel to High Hrothgar and talk to Argneir, followed by fast traveling to Solitude to talk to General Tullius. Fast travel yet again to Windhelm to talk to Ulfric Stormcloak and then fast travel back to High Hrothgar for the brutally long Peace Council session. When you first go into the room to attend the Peace Council, you can wait one hour once you reach your chair to expedite the process of everyone showing up and taking their places. The scene takes around eleven minutes in total, and nothing can be done to cut down that time. You also have to remain present during the entire meeting, as you will get asked for your opinion three separate times and will have to select dialogue options when it happens. After the meeting, talk to Esbern, steal the remaining wine in the room to speed up your running around for the rest of the run, and fast travel to Dragonreach.
Once you’re in Dragonreach, talk to the Jarl to catch the dragon Odahving. This fight can also be tricky, but to get through it, you’ll want to quicksave just as you enter the room where the fight takes place. Then, you need to hit Odahving with Dragonrend as he races past the opening. This may take a few tries to get just right, but it will shave off a considerable amount of time from your run once you get it down. Once he lands and follows you, walk slowly back toward the door, you entered through to draw him into the trap. To get him into the trap, you’ll have to go through the door once he blows fire on you as you’re standing next to it and then turn around and go right back through it. Use Whirlwind Sprint to get over him and then talk to him as fast as possible. Then, run up, undo his shackles, and Whirlwind Sprint to the balcony behind him. When you get there, wait for one hour twice until he comes out by you. Before you talk to him, quick save and then talk to him and tell him to take you. Then, you have to quickly open your map and fast travel to a different location to skip the cutscene of him flying you there. The window for the skip is pretty narrow, so it may take you some tries to get it down just right.
Once you make it to Skuldafn, you have to parkour to the portal to Sovngarde and get in as fast as possible. Jumping up the cliff can be tricky, so refer to this video from nucular himself to see exactly how to get it done. Once you get up the cliff you’ll want to get to the portal as fast as possible so that you can go through to Sovengarde before it is closed and you are forced to fight two dragons to open it again.
Once you’re in Sovengarde you’ll just have to defeat Alduin one last time to finish your run. To do this, you’ll have to run and use Whirlwind sprint to reach Tsun and beat him in combat. Then, do the same to reach the Hall of Valor go through the right side of doors and turn around and exit again. Repeat that same process, and after you come back out walk to the other set of doors and do it one more time. Then, the heroes of Sovengarde should be outside the Hall of Valor so that you can Whirlwind Sprint to them and Bump them to skip the dialogue. Then, use Clear Skies to clear the smoke. Then, Bump the woman to the right followed by the man in the middle, and then use Clear Skies again. Finally, Bump the man on the left and then the woman and use Clear Skies one last time. Once that is done run straight forward and climb the ridge of rocks and quicksave once you reach the small pocket at the top of the ridge on the side of the mountain there. While you are standing there, keep an eye on the radar at the top of the screen and look for a quest marker to appear. That indicates that Alduin has spawned on the other side of the rock, allowing you to walk around the bend and use Dragonrend on him immediately. Then, he will land and the fight is very similar to when you first fought him, although it is significantly easier since you have the three warriors fighting alongside you.
Speedrunning Skyrim can be incredibly rewarding for those with the patience to work their personal bests down. However, it does take a considerable amount of practice, so you’ll have to make sure to not get frustrated or be hard on yourself when it takes you a few tries to build the muscle memory for the most difficult sections of the run. If you get comfortable with this run and really want to challenge yourself, there is also a whole other world of Skyrim speedruns that are filled with glitches or side content to tackle as well.
Question: What is the World Record for a Glitchless Skyrim Speedrun?
Answer: The world record is currently held by nucular, who completed the main quest in one hour and twelve minutes.
Question: Are Glitchless Skyrim Speedruns Harder than Ones that Allow Glitches?
Answer: The difficulty between a glitchless and glitched speedrun. A run without glitches takes a lot more time, so there is more opportunities to make mistakes, but a run with glitches has a lot more technical executions required that the player has to remember and be able to perform quickly.
Question: How Long Does a Normal Playthrough of Skyrim‘s Main Quest Take?
Answer: The main questline of Skyrim normally takes players somewhere around 30 hours to play, so doing a speedrun like this will drastically cut that time down.