Skyrim: Enemies in Dungeons Respawn & Here Is How Long Does It Take

do enemies in skyrim respawn heres how long it takes

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The lifeblood of Skyrim’s economy is looting, and the best loot comes from dangerous places scattered all around the world, such as dungeons, camps, ancient Nordic ruins, caves, etc. But sooner or later, no matter how vast Skyrim’s map is, you’re going to run out of places to loot because most significant locations have already been marked as cleared on your map. So what then? You’re waiting for those locations to respawn, and it’s taking suspiciously long. Well, that’s just a normal part of Skyrim’s respawning mechanics. Let’s see how long it takes for enemies to respawn inside dungeons. 

Skyrim enemies will respawn in dungeons no matter whether you’ve cleared the location or not. For locations that were previously cleared, the respawn timer is 30 days or 720 hours of in-game time. For locations that you’ve partially cleared or never visited at all, you’re going to have to wait at least ten days or 240 in-game hours to reset. Some locations, however, never respawn, but those are rare, and if you visit the cleared location before its respawn timer has run out, you’re going to reset the whole process. 

Now that we’ve summarized the respawn mechanics, I’m guessing that you might have more questions related to the dungeons that you’ve never even visited but are still scheduled to respawn once in a while. If you’re interested in that and how to avoid lengthy respawn timers, stay with us and keep reading!

Most dungeons don’t stay “cleared” for a long time

The respawning mechanic is extremely useful since Skyrim’s world was always meant to evolve and level with the players. It allows you to run into new challenges as soon as you hit a certain level threshold, but it also poses a danger if you plan on leaving your gear in various chests around the world. 

Not all places in the game respawn at the same rate, and not all respawn at all, but generally. If you’ve cleared a dungeon, a camp, or Dwemer ruin, you can expect new enemies, loot, and plants within it to appear after 30 in-game days (or 720 hours of in-game time). 

Most of the places you’ve cleared will have a “cleared” tag when you hover over the location’s name on your map, so you can easily keep track of what content to revisit sooner rather than later. 

cleared tag on skyrim map

The next time enemies and loot within the dungeon respawn, the level of those NPCs and items will correspond to your new level rather than your old one. Some locations, however, are designated “starting” locations, and in those areas, enemies and other NPCs always remain at a relatively low level, no matter your actual level and your realistic skills.

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How come some locations respawn if you’ve never visited them? 

Sometimes, you will come across a certain location and enter it, clearing the first few levels, but for any reason, you might leave it before proceeding further and exit it before clearing it completely. 

Such dungeons that were only partially cleared also respawn, and the next time you enter them, you might notice that the level of loot and enemies has drastically changed depending on which level you were before. 

The respawn mechanic affects all locations in the world to provide you with that sense of the world evolving and growing with you. Even if you’ve never entered a certain location, that specific dungeon will respawn periodically, providing you with a bigger challenge every time it resets if your level continues to grow. 

Locations that you’ve never visited or only partially cleared will respawn much faster than cleared locations. It’s going to take around ten in-game days or 240 in-game hours for uncleared locations to spawn new leveled loot, enemies, as well as new traps.

dragon on a world wall skyrim
“Outside” locations & enemies like Dragons perched on word walls also respawn according to the same rules

Some locations like Irknthand, Kagrumez, Broken Oar Grotto, or Darklight Tower NEVER respawn. Meaning that you can clear them only once, and any change within those ruins will be quest-related. Even though you cannot necessarily loot those places more than once, the upside is that you can use the containers within them for storage, and your items within them will never respawn to be replaced with new leveled loot. 

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Why do some locations never respawn? 

If you’ve been carefully keeping track of the timers and still noticed that a certain location wasn’t reset, there’s are realistically only two possible sources of that problem. 

  1. Make sure that the location respawns in the first place. Skyrim has over 90 locations that will never respawn, and they include all types of dungeons. Some important quest locations in Skyrim and Solstheim, like Ysgramor’s Tomb or Dimhollow Crypt, are always going to be in the state you’ve left them in after clearing out their content. Most non-respawnable locations are tied to major quests, and the lack of a respawn timer may be tied to complex scripts that were imagined to be triggered only once. 
  2. Make sure that enough time has passed when you’re attempting to visit the location you’re hoping will respawn. If you visit a certain cleared location before the 30 in-game days have passed, you will reset the timer and will be forced to wait another 30 whole days.  
dead bandits skyrim
Scripted dead NPC bodies also respawn

How do you speed up respawning? 

If you don’t have time to wait for the respawn timer to pass, you can always force respawning by using console commands. Always make sure to backup your save game before you proceed to use the commands since the command can trigger unforeseen things that may corrupt your save game forever. To manually respawn a dungeon, use the following steps: 

  1. Open the console by pressing “~.”
  2. Type resetinterior <cellID> (Cell ID is filled with Editor ID or form ID number that you can find on these pages
  3. For example, if I want to reset Fort Frostmoth I’m going to type resetinterior DLC2FortFrostmoth01
  4. Press enter and close the console. Your selected dungeon should be respawned along with all enemies and loot within it.
  5. If the dungeon that you’re trying to reset has several different cells and levels, you’re going to have to manually respawn each level.  
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