Well, I just hit 25 with my Khajiit, and let me tell you, once you hit 20-ish, leveling slows down quite a bit. That’s all part of the design though. Each skill contributes to overall level, but each skill is more difficult to level the higher you get, so if you specialize a lot, you’ll get much better at those skills (like a specialist would) but you’ll end up waiting longer and longer between levels. On the other hand, if you don’t want to specialize, you won’t get excessively great at any one thing (like a jack-of-all-trades, master of none would) but you’ll find that your leveling won’t slow quite as fast since you have several other low level skills to focus on.
So, if you are like me, specializing in Stealth (up to around 70-ish now) and using Destruction, Illusion, Light Armor, Archery, One Handed, and Lockpick (all between 30-50), you’ll find yourself slowing around 20. If I decided to go to heavy armor, two handed weapons, and conjuration, I’d get a couple quick levels, but now that I’m at this level, there’s no guarantee that I’d be able to beat my enemies with un-leveled skills. That is the one drawback to the leveling system, but also very realistic. Once you’ve used something long enough, it becomes silly to not use it because it is the only way you’ll be able to survive. Much like in real life… well, if you’re the kind of person who has to kill on a regular basis. If you’re really good at using a pistol, and one day decide to try out a baseball bat against the other masters you practice with, you’re probably going to get your butt kicked. You just don’t have the skill required to use it effectively.
Anyway, I’ve been getting some hits in searches for things, so I’ll pretend that those are people asking me questions, and I’ll answer them! They almost all have to do with soul gems and enchantment perks.
First- a Soul Trap/Soul Gem primer: You’ll need the spell Soul Trap or a weapon with a Soul Trap enchantment. You get one from the Jarl of Whiterun early in the game (assuming you actually went there after the tutorial) called the Axe of Whiterun (EDIT: I’ve now played through that part with four different characters and received four different enchantments. I also got both war axes and battleaxes. I don’t know if it determines what is best for you by your skill level, or if it is random, though. EDIT2: I actually got to level 30 with my latest character before finding a soul trap weapon to disenchant. I have a habit of not purchasing gear in RPGs, so I don’t know if there was one for sale prior to that.) You can disenchant it or find another to disenchant so you can create your own. I actually found two or three more fairly early. I created a bow with a one second trap on it to hunt lower level creatures for recharging. Since the bow will typically kill my prey instantly, I only need one second. Another method would be to use a longer enchantment on a melee weapon so that if one of your followers, your magic, or anything else kills your prey, you still get the soul. These souls, upon the creature’s death, are released from the body and trapped inside a soul gem. These are little crystals found in dungeons, wizard’s rooms, and sold by wizards. The soul will fill the smallest available gem for its size. Each creature has a different sized soul, from Petty (level 4 and under) to Grand (any level soul). Human souls can only be trapped in black soul gems, grand soul gems tainted by necromancy. In Oblivion, you had to undergo a special ritual discovered halfway through the Mages Guild questline, and I have not come across any yet in Skyrim, so I’m not sure how to get a hold of one. (EDIT: I still have not found a way to create black soul gems, but you can buy them from a shady College member, and you can mine! them in Blackreach from Geode Veins along with other sould gems.) Be careful when trapping souls, because if you kill that chicken and all you have is an empty grand gem, you effectively wasted it. They are not reusable. (EDIT: As stated in the comments below, if you drop a filled gem on the floor, when you pick it up, it is empty. Feel free to do this ON FLAT GROUND when you see “Grand Soul Gem (Petty)” in your inventory.) The exception is with the Daedric Artifacts Azura’s Star and The Black Star. Azura’s Star is a reusable grand soul gem (use the soul inside to recharge or enchant an item and you can refill it) and the Black Star is a reusable Black soul gem. You get one or the other as a quest reward for Azura’s quest, depending on the path you take to retrieve it. The bigger the gem, the more energy there is available, and the more powerful the enchantment you can create.
What is Soul Squeezer? Well, besides something that sounds incredibly painful for the recipient, each soul gem will be able to hold an extra 250 energy to create or recharge your magic equipment. Think about it like wringing out a towel… you get much more soul energy if you squeeze every last bit out! Enchanting tree, requires Enchanting 20, Enchanter I.
What is Soul Siphon? This one looks really useful, especially if you’ve already got Soul Squeezer. Each time you kill a creature (but not a person) you automatically get 5% of the creature’s soul to recharge your weapon. I’m not sure how much 5% is, but effectively, it will prolong how much you can use your weapon before needing to manually recharge with a soul gem, and you don’t have to use a soul trap to get that recharge. Obviously 5% of a higher level creature’s soul is more than 5% of a lower level creature, so you’ll get more recharge back from a high level kill. Enchanting tree, requires Enchanting 40, Soul Squeezer, Enchanter I.
What is Soul Stealer? This one is a bit dangerous because of what I said earlier about not trapping that chicken in your grand gem. Any “bound” weapon automatically casts soul trap. Bound weapons are those conjured by magic with a spell such as “Conjuration: Bound Sword.” It is a prerequisite for Oblivion Binding, which will banish summoned creatures, but I don’t think I would take this one. Either you’ll have to carry a “normal” weapon when you are out of low level gems anyway, defeating the point of a conjured weapon, or you’ll risk wasting high level, and expensive, gems. Conjuration tree: Requires Conjuration 30, Mystic Binding, Novice Conjuration.
So to me, Soul Squeezer and Soul Siphon look incredibly useful, especially if you make heavy use of enchanted weapons, whereas Soul Stealer looks dangerous to use, if not pointless. Any other questions??