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Skill: Two-handed

The Two-handed skill governs your effectiveness when using two-handed weapons, including greatswords, warhammers, and battleaxes. The higher your skill in Two-handed, the more damage is done with two-handed weapons. The Two-handed skill tree has a total of 9 perks, requiring a total of 19 perk points to fill.

In-game Description: The art of combat using two-handed weapons, such as greatswords, battle axes, and warhammers. Those trained in this skill deliver deadlier blows.

Skill Perks

Two-handed Perk Tree
Barbarian (5 ranks): 0/20/40/60/80 Two-handed. Two-handed weapons do 20/40/60/80/100% more damage.
Limbsplitter (3 ranks): 30/60/90 Two-handed. Attacks with battleaxes do extra/more/even more bleeding damage.
Champion's Stance: 20 Two-handed. Power attacks cost 25% less stamina.
Champion's Stance
Devastating Blow: 50 Two-handed. Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage. It may also decapitate an enemy.
Devastating Blow
Great Critical Charge: 50 Two-handed. Sprinting power attacks do double critical damage.
Great Critical Charge
Sweep: 70 Two-handed. Sideways power attacks hit all nearby targets.
Warmaster: 100 Two-handed. Backwards power attacks have 25% chance of causing paralysis.
Deep Wounds (3 ranks): 30/60/90 Two-handed. Attacks with greatswords have a 10/15/20% chance of doing critical damage.
Deep Wounds
Skullcrusher (3 ranks): 30/60/90 Two-handed. Attacks with warhammers ignore 25/50/75% of the target's armor rating.
Two-handed Perk Tree
Perk Rank Description ID Skill Req. Perk Req.
Barbarian 1 Two-Handed weapons do 20% more damage. 000babe8
2 Two-Handed weapons do 40% more damage. 00079346 20 Two-handed
3 Two-Handed weapons do 60% more damage. 00079347 40 Two-handed
4 Two-Handed weapons do 80% more damage. 00079348 60 Two-handed
5 Two-Handed weapons do twice as much damage. 00079349 0 80 Two-handed
Champion's Stance Power attacks with two-handed weapons cost 25% less stamina. 00052d51 20 Two-handed Barbarian
Devastating Blow Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage with a chance to decapitate your enemies. 00052d52 50 Two-handed Champion's Stance
Great Critical Charge Can do a two-handed power attack while sprinting that does double critical damage. 000cb407 50 Two-handed Champion's Stance
Sweep Sideways power attacks with two-handed weapons hit all targets in front of you. 0003af9e 70 Two-handed Great Critical Charge or Devastating Blow
Warmaster Backwards power attack has a 25% chance to paralyze the target. 0003afa7 100 Two-handed Sweep
Deep Wounds 1 Attacks with greatswords have a 10% chance of doing critical damage. 0003af83 30 Two-handed Barbarian
2 Attacks with greatswords have a 15% chance of doing more critical damage. 000c1e94 60 Two-handed
3 Attacks with greatswords have a 20% chance of doing even more critical damage. 000c1e95 30 90 Two-handed
Limbsplitter 1 Attacks with battle axes cause extra bleeding damage. 000c5c05 30 Two-handed Barbarian
2 Attacks with battle axes cause more bleeding damage. 000c5c06 60 Two-handed
3 Attacks with battle axes cause even more bleeding damage. 000c5c07 30 90 Two-handed
Skullcrusher 1 Attacks with warhammers ignore 25% of armor. 0003af84 30 Two-handed Barbarian
2 Attacks with warhammers ignore 50% of armor. 000c1e96 60 Two-handed
3 Attacks with warhammers ignore 75% of armor. 000c1e97 30 90 Two-handed


Limbsplitter causes extra damage over a given period of time based on the material of the battleaxe used. It's stackable and ignores armor. Things that don't bleed, however, such as undead and Dwemer constructs, are immune to the effect.

Material[1] Perk Level
1 2 3
DPS Dur. DPS Dur. DPS Dur.
Iron 1 3 1 4 1 5
Steel, Imperial, Ancient Nord 1 3 1.7 3 2.3 3
Orcish 1 4 1.5 4 2 8
Dwarven, Falmer 1.2 4 1.75 4 2 4
Elven, Honed Ancient Nord 1.5 4 2 4 2.5 4
Glass, Honed Falmer 2 4 2.5 4 3 4
Ebony 2 5 2.5 5 3 5
Daedric 2 6 2.5 6 3 6
  1. ^ Dragonbone battleaxes do not benefit from this perk.

Skill Usage

Greatswords and battleaxes swing faster than warhammers. To balance this, warhammers deal more damage than battleaxes which deal more damage than greatswords. In comparison to one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons are slower, but they inflict much more damage with each blow. Additionally, two-handed power attacks are much more likely to stagger an opponent, whether they're blocking or not.

While the One-handed skill can approach this level of damage with dual-wielding, two-handed weapons retain the ability to block. However, the effect is diminished, and two-handed weapons prevent the player from equipping a shield, thus preventing the use of certain Block perks that specifically use shields. (e.g. Deflect Arrows, Elemental Protection)

Another advantage of two-handed weapons over one-handed weapons is its longer range. There's a sweet-spot where a two-handed wielder can attack freely without worry about getting hit by one-handed or creature attacks.

In regards to individual perks, both weapon skills are very much alike, making the choice of Two-handed over One-handed mostly preferential. For example, Limbsplitter, Deep Wounds, and Skullcrusher are the Two-handed parallels to One-handed's Hack and Slash, Bladesman, and Bone Breaker perks, respectively; they have the exact same effects, but affecting either one- or two-handed weapons. However, 2H has a unique Sweeping attack that strike multiple foes, which can be extremely effective by spreading multiple instances of weapon enchantments at once. (Especially Absorb Stat effects, like Health.) There is no equivalent in 1H, but there is the triple power attack when dual-wielding to compensate.

Comparison of Two-handed Weapons

Approximate weapon speeds are given in the following table:

Weapon type Attacks per second Relative damage
Greatsword 0.7 +0
Battle Axe 0.7 +1
Warhammer 0.6 +3

Skill Increases

Character Creation

The following races have an initial skill bonus to Two-handed:


Skill Books

Free Skill Boosts

Gaining Skill XP

  • In Skyrim, weapon skill gains are based on weapon base damage. Choosing the best available DPS weapon should result in fastest skill gains.
  • Boosting weapon damage via skill perks, equipment enchantments or smithing does not increase XP earned per hit. In fact, you gain less XP per enemy because they take fewer hits. The same rule applies to damage modifiers from difficulty setting.
  • You can exploit certain targets for training combat skills, because they are essential, and therefore cannot normally die; because they are expendable; or because they have high health or can regenerate health. They are not normally "enemies". They include: Shadowmere, Hadvar or Ralof during Unbound, creatures you have conjured, Paarthurnax (before starting his quest), and M'aiq the Liar.
    • Note that the target in question must actually sustain damage for it to count. For this reason, practicing on invincible targets such as Children and Brynjolf will not level your skill.
  • Mathematically, the best weapon for leveling Two-Handed is the Dragonbone BattleaxeDG (26x0.7). In the base game, Daedric Battleaxes, Volendrung or Wuuthrad (25x0.7) are the best choice.
  • The Elemental Fury shout will expedite the XP per second for two-handed weapons.


  • Blocking with a Two-handed weapon, though less effective than using a shield, will benefit from any Block perk that does not mention a shield.
  • The Block perk Block Runner allows you to move faster if you block while sneaking. This specific effect applies to all types of block including Two-handed weapons.
  • Great Critical Charge adds a new power attack animation. You have to use the sprint button and do a power attack. Without the perk you cannot even attack while sprinting. All power attacks have double damage compared to normal attacks.
  • Warmaster is not actually a paralysis effect. It is a knockdown, so it will work on things that are immune to paralysis.
  • When you have a high skill in two-handed, guards may sometimes say "The Gods gave you two hands, and you use them both for your weapon. I can respect that."
  • When standing close to an enemy with no space in between, and with another NPC behind the enemy, striking will make the weapon phase through the target and hit the NPC behind the enemy.


  • The duration of level 3 Limbsplitter for Orcish battleaxes is twice what it was probably intended to be. ? (details)
  • Dragonbone battleaxes do not benefit from Limbsplitter.