Choosing your race is the first and one of the most important choices you will have to make when starting a fresh new playthrough of Skyrim. Luckily, there is a variety of races you can choose each one is different in several aspects such as appearance, bonuses, abilities, and lore. Races affect how well you will manage with specific skills and abilities, so it’s important to make the right decision at the beginning. If you plan on playing a magic-oriented character, choosing the Orc race is not a good idea. If however, you find yourself regretting your choice of race down the road, you must be wondering, how to change your race in Skyrim and is it even possible.
You can change your race in Skyrim by using console commands setplayerrace, showracemenu, and setrace. While they ultimately do the same thing, change your race and visual appearance, there is a major difference between the three commands. If you attempt to change your race via showracemenu or setplayerrace command your attributes and skills will be reset. However, this can be avoided by using setrace command.
Now that you know that there is a way to change your race in Skyrim, and quite easily if I may add, it’s time to analyze all the details. If you want to look different without it affecting your abilities and powers, stay with us and keep reading!
Does race matter in Skyrim?
Race is one of the most vital components when it comes to character building in Skyrim and it’s the first choice you make toward creating the ultimate Dragonborn. There are 10 races to choose from, each race excels at specific skills and has certain attributes enhanced. Each race comes with its own greater and lesser powers or some kind of constant effect.
For example, Argonians, a reptilian race native to Black Marsh are 100% immune to diseases and can breathe underwater. Argonians are also sensitive to cold and will get cold 25% faster than other races. Wood Elves or Bosmers are an elven race hailing from the forests of Valenwood, they get bonus points in archery, alchemy, light armor, lockpicking, pickpocketing, and sneak skills which makes them excellent natural archers and thieves. Wood Elves are perfect for stealth-oriented characters due to their small size and natural affinities for all stealth-related skills.
As you can see, not all races are fit for all playstyles and it’s important to keep this in mind while planning your character.
Is there a way to change your race in Skyrim?
There is a way to change your race in Skyrim but it involves console commands, three of them to be more precise. While the game has introduced a way to change your visual appearance by using services provided by Face Sculptors, this is not related to your race.
Race is a fixed characteristic and changing it mid-game means you need to use certain “advanced” solutions to do it. You can change your race with setplayerrace, showracemenu, and setrace commands, and in the rest of this post, we’re going to explain all of them
Changing your race with showracemenu command
This command allows you to change your race by opening the same menu that you’ve seen at the beginning of the game in Helgen. This command will allow you to change your complete visual appearance and name as well but it comes with a catastrophic side effect.
It will reset your attributes and skills completely which means that you will technically start from zero. If you’re at the beginning of the game, this doesn’t have much impact on your progress, however, it’s not recommended to use this command if you’re at a higher level. To change your race by using showracemenu command follow these steps:
- open the console by pressing “~”
- type showracemenu and press enter
- if the command has been executed correctly a menu for changing your race and appearance should appear
- after you’re done changing your race and appearance, press “r” and name your character
- This will result in all your skills and attributes being reset to their starting values. Your hands will be bound like they were at the start of the game but this can easily be fixed by unsheathing your weapon/magic.
While this command allows you to change how you want to look at the same time, it comes with a major downside.
Changing your race with setplayerrace and setrace commands
These two commands essentially work the same except for the fact that using setplayerrace will reset your skills and attributes just like showracemenu command. And, there’s another catch. By using setplayerrace and setrace commands your visual appearance will change and it will take on the physical attributes of your targeted race without changing your skin tone.
This results in odd-looking characters. As you can see from the screenshots below, after using the commands I’ve managed to change my race from Imperial to Dark Elf, to Orc, and to Khajiit while still retaining the skin tone of an Imperial man. This resulted in my character having the skin tone of Imperials and the facial structure of Orcs, Dark Elves, and Khajiits.
To change your race via setplayerrace and setrace commands follow these steps:
- open the console by pressing “~”
- type setrace <raceID>, race ID of every individual race (and other unplayable races) can be found by typing help race 0
- For example, to change my race into a Khajiit I will type: setrace khajiitrace or setplayerrace khajiitrace
- press enter
- If everything was done right, your character should, ahem, look weird but it should have all the specifics of your targeted race such as racial bonuses, weakness, and other things associated with it.
You can turn yourself into a vampire as well by using these commands, for example typing setplayerrace woodelfracevampire will turn you into a Wood Elf vampire. Your character will look more or less the same with the addition of glowing eyes.
If you plan on changing your race into one of the unplayable races, such as dragons, giants, mammoths, etc. keep in mind that you can do that. For example, typing setplayerrace dragonrace will turn you into a dragon but make your game unplayable. Your camera will be messed up and you will not be able to do anything.
And that’s about it, as you can see you can change your race, but most commands come with a downside or attributes and abilities being reset. To avoid that, it’s best to stick with setrace command. If you’re interested in more console-related guides take a look at our posts dedicated to enchanting with commands and resetting NPCs with commands.