Damage and Character Stats


Where does my damage actually come from?

Damage in ESO comes from your abilities (duh). But what actually determines the damage of your abilities? I’m not going to go into the formulas etc. but at a very high level it works like this.

Abilities have a base damage; this generally increases based on the rank of the ability. Skill morphs a) will increase the damage of the original skill as you continue to rank it and b) may add additional damage effects to the skill.

Your character attributes further affect this damage, which is why builds should specialise in either magicka or stamina to maximise their damage.

For magicka builds this means your max magicka and your spell power. For stamina this means your max stamina and your weapon power. If a skill costs magicka to cast, the more max magicka and spell power you have, the more damage it will do. Same goes for stamina.

The combination of the ability base damage and your character attributes determine the ‘tooltip value’ which is what’s displayed when you preview the skill.

When you actually hit with this ability, the actual damage dealt is further affected by the enemy resistance, your penetration (yes, let’s all have a giggle), your set bonuses, your champion points and whether or not it’s a critical hit.

tl;dr Stack max magicka and spell power to hit harder with magicka abilities. Stack max stamina and weapon power to hit harder with stamina abilities.



Is all damage the same?

Different abilities in ESO deal different kinds of damage. This is important for understanding how to get the most out of your abilities. Each ability tooltip and set bonuses will tell you what kind of damage that ability is dealing.


  • Physical
  • Poison
  • Disease


  • Magic
  • Flame
  • Shock
  • Frost

Why is this important? Physical Damage will be mitigated by Physical Resistance which can in turn be ignored by Physical Penetration. Spell Damage will be mitigated by Spell Resistance and in turn be ignored by Spell Penetration. The sub-types are important for passives, set bonuses and champion points.

  • The Dark Elf racial passive Destructive Ancestry will boost your flame damage
  • The Netch’s Touch armour set will boost your lightning damage
  • The Mighty champion point star will boost your physical, poison and disease damage

Learning what type of damage you’re dealing and how you can increase it is important for maximising damage.



I have 30k stamina and 2k weapon damage. Am I doing it right?

People ask this kind of question a lot, and there’s no hard and fast rule. Here’s some guidelines to help you assess your character sheet.

First of all, you want to have 18k health with your food/drink buff active. This is to keep you alive through most mechanics in dungeons – nobody is good enough to heal you through a one-shot. At lower levels and lower champion points this probably means you’ll have less stamina or magicka, but as you approach 300CP, improve your gear and enchants and unlock the Undaunted Mettle passives you’ll be able to hit that 18k health with more of your primary resource for dps.

Your jewellery enchants should be either damage or recovery. Eventually you’ll be able to enchant them all with damage but start with just one or two until you get used to sustaining. More on this in the Gear Sets, Traits and Enchants section.

There’s also two main options for your food/drink buff. There’s lots of blue food options that will give you max health and max stamina/magicka so I won’t list all those. There’s also one purple drink for each type of build that will still give you max health and max stamina/magicka, but not as much, and instead gives you more recovery. For stamina, this is Dubious Camoran Throne and for magicka, this is Witchmother’s Potent Brew. These are both purple recipes and can be hard to obtain as they have only dropped as holiday event rewards but if you can’t get the recipe you’ll certainly be able to buy the drink itself.

In terms of choosing between food or drink, you need to find the right balance for your character. More recovery means you can use more abilities and heavy attack less often, but you’ll have less of your primary resource (which reduces your raw damage because it scales off your stats remember!), and don’t forget you still need 18k health so if you swap buffs you’ll probably need to adjust your attributes or enchants.

Your mundus should almost always be Warrior for stamina and Apprentice or magicka. In some scenarios the Lover may be better but only choose this mundus stone if you understand how to calculate your penetration and can see it’s significantly short.



Do I need to fork out 3k crowns to change it?

Some players are very attached to their races – it’s one of the most defining aspects of your character and the thought of race changing or making a new character in a different race might sound like a really awful idea. The good news is you don’t need to. The bad news is you simply won’t do as well with a bad race/build combination.

Races in ESO are loosely sorted into magicka or stamina based passives. If you’ve at least chosen these to match your build, you’ll likely do fine.

My stam sorc is an Imperial. I chose this at launch because I wanted to craft (I know right!?) but I’ve tested a race change on the PTS and you know what? I only got 1-2k more dps so it wasn’t a deal breaker. However if I tried to go magicka that would be a different story. My passives just don’t support it at all. Speaking of magicka, my Argonian mag sorc is a poor choice to be completely honest (and I’ll probably end up changing it). I get a little bit of max magicka and a whole lot of health, but compared to the passives of High Elf, Dunmer or Breton it just makes no sense. However, I can still get 27k on a test so again, it’s about how you use it.

If your racial choice just seems completely at odds, I would suggest either changing race or changing your build (eg. turn that khajiit mag sorc into a stam sorc). But don’t expect your dps to suddenly skyrocket. In fact I wouldn’t bother with a race change (mostly because I prefer to spend crowns on pretty things and the thought of my Imperial sprouting a tail freaks me out) until you’ve pushed everything else as far as it can go and decide you need a little bit more.

tl;dr Race matters, but it’s still no excuse.


Your attributes and racial passives can make a big difference, but your stats are also determined by your gear and of course the damage you do comes from using the right skills

Give me your 2 cents!