Unlike Conjuration and Destruction spells, Alteration spells are not an offensive type of magic. Instead of blasting opponents with fire or summoning spirits to aid your character in battle, Alteration magic allows you to manipulate your surroundings, bending the very laws of reality. Once your character has trained tirelessly in the art of restoration, you will be able to perform the Alteration Ritual, more of a quest really, and unlock spells used by only the most powerful mages.
Leveling Up Your Alteration Magic
Check your Alteration level. Your Alteration magic must be at leave level 90 before you can begin this quest. To check your Alteration level, open the menu (O button on PS3, B button on XBOX 360, and Tab key on PC), and press the upward direction to open up the Skills menu.
The skills menu is sorted into Thief skills, Warrior skills, and Mage skills, the latter of which can be identified by its blue background. Scroll to the left until you are in the Mage skills area then simply wait until you see Alteration magic, as your level will be displayed right below it.
Visit any court wizards. If you are in need of more Alteration spells, visit the court wizards of any major hold, like Wuunferth the Unliving in Windhelm, Sybille Stentor in Solitude, Madena in The White Hall, Calcelmo in Markarth, Wylandriah in Riften, and Farengar Secret-Fire in Whiterun.
Approach a court wizard and interact with them. When they ask what you need, ask what they have for sale, and you will be able to scroll through their wares.
Purchase Alteration spells from the wizard. Common Alteration spells that don’t use much Magicka are Candlelight, Oakflesh, Magelight, Stoneflesh, and Telekinesis. All these can be purchased from the court wizards listed above, ranging between 200 to 1,000 Gold. However, the best spell to use for leveling up Alteration is Candlelight. With your cursor over the spell, hit the X button (PS3), A button (Xbox 360), and E key (PC) to purchase the spell.
Level up your Alteration magic to 50. Although it is monotonous, the fastest way to level up Alteration magic is to equip the spell Candlelight onto both hands. Do this by opening up the character menu, toggling to the left for magic, and scrolling through the Alteration category. To equip it to both hands, hit the R1 and L1 button (PS3), RT and LT button (Xbox 360), Left-Click and Right-Click (PC). Once it’s equipped, repeatedly cast it as you walk around a major hold. Doing this will take about a few hours until you reach level 50.
Purchase the spell tome Detect Life. Once your Alteration magic has reached level 50, you can purchase the spell tome Detect Life, which raises your Alteration level much more quickly. This spell can be purchased from Tolfdir, who can be found in the College of Winterhold, located in the City of Winterhold, in the far northeastern corner of Skyrim.
During the daytime (between 8AM and 10PM), Tolfdir wanders around the Hall of Attainment, and during the night, he can be found in his room (also in the Hall of Attainment) on the ground floor.
Level up your Alteration magic to 90. Once you have purchased Detect Life, cast it in highly populated areas. Every time you cast it, you should go up a level. Getting to level 90 from here should take less than an hour.
Beginning the Alteration Ritual Spell Quest
Find Tolfdir. Once your Alteration level has reached at least 90, find Tolfdir in the College of Winterhold to receive the Alteration Ritual quest.
Approach Tolfdir and interact with him. Do this by standing in front of Tolfdir and hitting the X Button (PS3), A Button (Xbox 360) E Key (PC). He will ask what you need.
Select the dialogue option “Is there anything new you can teach me?” He will respond that he’s been working on a new spell, but needs Heartscales to complete it. Tolfdir will explain that Heartscales can only be cut from a dragon’s skeleton using the Kahvozein’s Fang Dagger.
Getting the Dagger
Activate the “Kahvozein’s Fang” quest. After speaking with Tolfdir, open the quest journal by pressing Start (PS3 and Xbox 360) ESC key (PC)and select “Kahvozein’s Fang” to make it your active quest. This will trigger a quest marker over the location of the dagger in the world map.
Go to the location of the dagger. Check your world map by pressing the O Button (PS3) B Button (XBOX 360) Tab Key (PC), and toggling down. With the map open look the for the dagger’s location. The dagger can spawn in one of six possible dragon priest dungeons: Forelhost, High Gate Ruins, Lost Valkygg, Ragnvald, Valthume, and Volskygge.
Fast travel to the dungeon the dagger has appeared in (if you have not yet entered the dungeon, you will have to fast travel to the nearest location).
Enter the dungeon, and make your way through it. Each dungeon has its own unique layout; however, it should not take more than 20 minutes to reach the end.
Defeat the dragon priest. At the dead end of the dungeon, there will be a sarcophagus for you to open with a dragon priest inside. You will have to defeat the dragon priest before you can collect the dagger.
Dragon Priests are exceptionally powerful enemies, so it is recommended that you bring a follower.
Most dragon priests use magic and are weak to lightning spells (as those drain mana). Be prepared to use your most powerful potions to stay alive, as Dragon Priests are incredibly hard to kill.
Get the Kahvozein’s Fang Dagger. Once you have defeated the dragon priest, approach the chest behind his sarcophagus, open it, and get the dagger.
Getting the Heartscales and Completing the Quest
Find a dragon. Once you have Kahvozein’s Fang, you’ll need to find a dragon to harvest the scales from. You can either find a dragon corpse from one you previously defeated or you can find and battle a new one.
Although dragons appear randomly, you can increase the likelihood of encountering them by travelling across Skyrim on foot/horseback rather than fast travelling.
Certain locations are more likely to attract dragons than others. Any of the Shout Word Altars are likely locations. Shout Altars appear on your world map as dragon heads. One you have encountered earlier in the game is to the south of Ivarstead.
Defeat the dragon. If you found a dragon corpse for you to get the Heartscales from, skip to the next step. If you found a dragon to battle, proceed as you normally would to kill it. You do not have to use the dagger until after the battle. As usual, dragons are easiest to target when they’re stationary, so wait to hit them with projectiles until they land.
Get the Heartscales. After you have felled the dragon and absorbed its soul, approach the corpse with the Kahvozein’s Fang equipped. Interact with the dragon skeleton to collect the Heartscales.
Go back to Tolfdir. Return to the College of Winterhold and find Tolfdir; he can be found in the same places mentioned earlier.
Complete the quest. Talk to Tolfdir, and select the dialogue option “Here’s your Heartscale.” After this interaction, he will give you the master spell tome Dragonhide. This is the only way to acquire this spell tome. It is an incredibly rare spell, so make sure to read the tome and learn it!