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Attributes are the fundamental measurements that define a character's nature and inherent abilities, in contrast with Skills, which generally indicate how well a character has learned to perform specific actions. There are eight primary Attributes in the game, several Attributes derived directly or indirectly from those, and several others that affect the game in miscellaneous, and often very minor, ways. The typical starting value of each primary Attribute is between thirty and fifty, but the actual starting values depend upon your character's race and gender. In addition, two Attributes will be "favored" by your character's class with ten extra points.

With the exception of Luck, each primary Attribute governs three to five Skills. Three primary Attributes of your choice will increase between one and five points each time you gain a level, with the amount of increase depending on how much you increased the Attributes' governed skills since the last level. The base value of a primary Attribute may not be increased above 100 in this way, but it can achieve a modified value from various effects (e.g., spells, enchantments, and potions) without this restriction. The derived Attribute Health also increases at each level, based upon the value of Endurance.

Primary Attributes

Controls your chance to hit enemies, as well as to dodge their attacks. Also reduces your chance to get knocked down in combat.
Controls your starting and maximum Health, and your maximum Fatigue. Also slows down fatigue loss while running, and while fighting.
Controls your maximum Magicka. 15% of your Intelligence attribute is the amount of magicka gained per hour of sleep.
Helps everything you do in a small way.
Controls how much people like you, and the prices you get at vendors.
Controls your rate of movement when walking, running, swimming, or levitating.
Controls the damage you cause with weapons, as well as how much you can carry. It also helps determine your maximum Fatigue and starting Health. Strength also factors into how your weapon durability degrades on each successful hit: Higher strength means higher weapon degradation.
Controls your odds of success at spellcasting and your chance to resist Magicka. It also determines your maximum Fatigue.

Derived Attributes

Controls how much damage you can take before being killed.
Controls how much energy you have available for spellcasting.
Controls how tired you are.
Controls how much you can carry.

Other Attributes

These attributes affect gameplay in various ways.

Very few things in the game depend on whether you are playing a male or female character. This page discusses them.
The amount of money you will have to pay for your crimes if you are caught by guards. If you have not committed any crimes, this will be 0.
Your renown in the world. The more quests you complete, the higher this will be.
The number of slaves you have freed. Freeing slaves opens up a few quests with the Twin Lamps faction.