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Books:The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Official Game Guide

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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Official Game Guide is the official game guide for TES IV: Oblivion, written by Peter Olafson and published by Prima Games.

There are three editions of the guide.

First Edition[edit]

BK-cover-Oblivion Official Game Guide.jpg
Release DateMarch 21, 2006
AuthorPeter Olafson
PublisherPrima Games

Find Your Path

  • Detailed maps for every part of the world and every major city, plus special maps for every key section of the main quest.
  • Specific chapters on how to create your character and maximize your abilities and skills.
  • Over 300 full-color pages packed with information on everything you need to know about the massive gameworld of Oblivion.
  • Walkthroughs for every quest in the game, including the main quest, all faction quests, as well as miscellaneous and freeform quests.
  • Sections on various gameplay systems including stealth, combat, magic, enchanting, alchemy, and more.
  • Detailed bestiary chapter to help you best deal with the denizens of Tamriel and Oblivion.

Table of Contents[edit]

  • Introduction
  • Character Classes: Choosing Your Race, Sex, Abilities, Skills and Birthsign
  • Combat
  • Magic
  • Stealth
  • Crime & Punishment
  • Vampires
  • Creature Guide
  • Equipment
  • Alchemy
  • Spellmaking and Enchanting
  • The Main Quest
  • Faction Quests: The Fighters Guild
  • Faction Quests: The Mages Guild
  • Faction Quests: The Thieves Guild
  • Faction Quests: The Dark Brotherhood
  • Arena
  • The Daedric Quests
  • Master Training Quests
  • Miscellaneous Quests
  • Freeform Quests
  • World Maps
  • City Maps

Revised and Expanded Edition[edit]

Includes new chapters on Knights of the Nine and Oblivion downloadable content.

Game of the Year Edition[edit]

  • Covers all available content for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Shivering Isles, Knights of the Nine, and downloadable content. Does not include information on Fighter's Stronghold, as it had not yet been released at publication.
  • Deespite claiming "detailed maps for every part of the world and every major city, plus special maps for every key section of the main quest", this guide is missing the World Maps and City Maps sections of the previous versions, and the included Maps section only covers Shivering Isles.
  • Specific chapters on how to create your character and maximize your abilities and skills.
  • Over 450 full-color pages packed with information on everything you need to know about the massive gameworld of Oblivion.
  • Walkthroughs for every quest in every part of the Oblivion world, including the main quest, as well as miscellaneous and freeform quests.
  • Sections on various gameplay systems including stealth, combat, magic, spellmaking and enchanting, alchemy, and more.


  • The Mehrunes' Razor chapter of the Revised and Expanded Edition and Game of the Year Edition contains a letter from Philea Nielus providing background information on the DLC.

See Also[edit]

Sours: https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Books:The_Elder_Scrolls_IV:_Oblivion_Official_Game_Guide

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Hints and Tips

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is an open-worldrole-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios. It first released on Windows PC and Xbox 360 in 2006. A PlayStation 3 port followed in 2007. Set in a fictional land called Cyrodiil, its main story pits the player against a cult that wants to open portals to a hellish dimension called Oblivion. If you're looking for help with the game, try the following tips and hints.

This guide is specifically for the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game.

Defend Melee Attacks Easily

Feeling kinda frightened by the big melee warrior coming towards you? Find some rocks (if you can get outside) or another object and jump onto it. Then, stand there and hurl fireballs and shoot arrows at the poor foe, who'll be unable to defend himself.

Items Slowing You Down?

When you want to carry a lot of weapons, armors, potions, or miscellaneous items, but you don't want these items in your inventory, get the indestructible horse Shadowmere from the Dark Brotherhood. Beat it down until it's unconscious. Immediately, before it gets back up, go to it and search the body like you would with normal enemies.

Usually, an unconscious character only provides you with a Talk option while it's on the ground. But, while searching Shadowmere, push the left trigger button and drop in whatever items you want to offload. This is more useful than carrying everything in your personal inventory while in battle.

This trick works with the Xbox 360 and using the horse armor.

Use a Variety of Weapons

Given the complex combat and wide array of enemies in Oblivion, keep an array of weapons available for your early encounters. Enchanted weapons show up fairly often after level 5 or so. Keep a fire-based enchanted weapon along with a shock-based weapon, a Magicka-affecting weapon, and a simple unenchanted weapon on your person (an Ease Burden spell from Deetsan in the Cheydinhall Mages Guild can help with the weight).

If you don't make much of a dent with a fire-casting weapon, switch around until you find a weakness in your current enemy. The few extra points of damage per hit often make the difference between life and death.

How to Close Oblivion Gates Quickly

To close Oblivion gates fast, run through the area as fast as you can and grab the sigil stone.

How to Increase Your Acrobatics Skill Quickly

To increase your acrobatics skill faster, travel to some stairs or a steep hill and jump your way up. That way, you will be airborne for as short a time as possible before starting a new jump.

How to Increase Your Sneak Skill Quickly

To increase your Sneak skill quickly, go to the Imperial City Arena and enter one of the ponds that have a sacred lotus inside. Crouch to enter Sneak mode and press the AutoRun key (Q by default on PC). There are some guards nearby, so doing this will increase your Sneak skill. You can even walk away from the computer and come back later to see your stat gains.

If you choose Sneak as one of your major skills and you do this trick, your level will also increase quickly.

Fun in the Air

This is not a real tip. It's just fun. Jump into the air near an NPC and start a conversation with them. You'll stay in the air while the person is talking to you. You'll fall down when you exit the conversation.

How to Duplicate Items

To duplicate any item in your inventory, you need a bow and at least two of any arrow type. Then, draw your bow and, while keeping it drawn, enter the inventory menu. You must then unequip the arrows you have equipped (a message appears saying you cannot unequip weapons until you are done attacking).

After that, find the item you want to duplicate and drop it. When you exit the inventory, the item you dropped appears with however many duplicates you wanted (number of arrows equipped) and falls to the ground.

This cheat only works if the number of items duplicated is lower than the number of arrows equipped. Make sure your bow is fully drawn when entering the inventory.

The basic rule for this is that most enchanted and rare items don't work, but there are a few exceptions.

How to Kill Umbra and Get Her Armor and Sword

To kill Umbra and get her armor and sword, jump on the broken pillar in the square and shoot her.

How to Increase the Sneak Skill Quickly, Part 2

To get your Sneak skill up easily, go to someone's house when they're sleeping, go into Sneak mode, then run continuously into a wall outside their room.

Easy Enemies Throughout Oblivion

If you want enemies to be easy throughout your time in the game, create a new character and make the seven main skills the ones you will use the least or not at all (like Hand-to-Hand, Marksman, or Blunt). You won't gain many levels, but neither will the enemies you face.

Tired of Being Over-Encumbered?

Tired of always being over-encumbered? Here are some ways to reduce your load. They require a somewhat higher Alchemy skill and entrance to the Arcane University.

  • Enchant a weapon or piece with a Fortify Strength or Feather spell.
  • Use alchemy. If you have a fairly high Alchemy skill, make Feather potions that reduce weight by the hundreds for several minutes. You can drink multiple potions at once, so you can hold more than 1,200 pounds for over 500 seconds.

How to Kill Ten Bears Quickly

In the quest where you have to kill ten wild bears for the farmer, the easiest way for a weak character to accomplish this is to wander until you find a bear, then run as fast as you can toward the farmhouse. Once there, run into the fenced garden. The bear will chase you in. Quickly run out before the bear kills you and swing the door shut behind you. The bear will be trapped, and you can fire arrows or spells at him to kill him.

Kill Minotaur Lords the Easy Way

Once the player has risen through the ranks of the Arena and become Grand Champion, weekly matches for money against different monsters become available. The toughest monster players end up fighting is the Minotaur Lord, up to three at a time.

The trick to defeating them is to retreat into the hall entrance to the Arena pit. The Minotaur Lords are too tall to follow after you and, since they lack any ranged weapon, they cannot reach you.

Assuming you have enough arrows (at least 50 or so) and a bow, or alternatively a decent arsenal of destructive magic, picking each Minotaur Lord off from a distance is easy. And for your trouble, you get 2,000 or more gold.

Solve Speechcraft Issues

When joining the Arcane University through the Mages Guild, create a cheap Charm spell. This solves all Speechcraft issues and is helpful with the Mercantile skill.

How to Get More Gold From the Count of Skingrad

The count of Skingrad is very forgetful. Upon completion of the vampire quest (the one where you cure yourself of vampirism), he will offer you a reward for ending his wife's pain. However, he won't remember that he gave you this reward. Keep asking him about the reward for 2,500 gold.

Head Up to Win Battles Easier

The easiest way to win a battle against the enemy AI is to get to high ground (for example, a rock) where the enemy can't reach you. High Acrobatics skill will let you jump high enough so the opponent can't follow you. Defeat them with ranged attacks like magic or bows.

If the enemy uses ranged weapons as well, take cover or at least dodge them without falling off your perch. If you fall off, or the enemy comes up, retry or find a better place to climb.

Best Light Armor for Beginners

This might be the best light armor you can get at the beginning of the game. Head to Leyawiin (the city to the south). Just outside the city, find a tomb called Amelion Tomb. It's located to the north, on the eastern side of the river. Inside, find a complete set of light armor called Brusefs Amelion Armor. It provides cold resist. There's also a longsword that adds 5 cold damage. The pieces of armor are scattered in the tomb but they're easy to find.

General Tips for Storing Items

Need a place to store stuff but you don't own a house? Use rooftops. Stable buildings outside of towns work well. There's usually a way to jump onto the building from nearby hills or rocks. Your items are out of sight and NPCs generally don't climb up on rooftops, so your stuff stays where you put it.

Don't store your things in random containers. When the game refreshes, the items in that container may delete all your stuff.

Add +5 to Your Favorite Stats

Enter the console (~ key) and enter setdebugtext 10, followed by TDT, to output all the information about your skills and how close you are to gaining a skill point. Enter TDT again to toggle the display of information on and off.

It also displays how many points you gained for each attribute. For example, if it shows STRENGTH: 10, you've gained 10 skill points governed by the Strength stat, therefore allowing you a full +5 STRENGTH next time you level up. This, combined with strategically choosing your major skills, make it easy to ensure you have +5 attribute multipliers for chosen stats each time you level up.

Finish the Main Quest First

Beat the storyline first, then come back to side quests and dungeons because (this might be a bit of a spoiler) in the end the enemies will be the same level as you. If you're a high level (by doing side quests), all your guards will die because they are a low level and it will be nearly impossible to beat the game.

Become 100% Invisible

Want to become completely invisible? First, complete the Mage quest line to gain access to the Arcane University and have five Grand Soul Gems. Enchant five pieces of armor with the Chameleon effect. You are now 100% invisible.

Is This a Threat?

If you are unsure if you are under threat by an attacker, quickly enter Sneak mode. If the crosshair is bright yellow, start looking around.

Storing Loot in Bones

One of the most disheartening aspects of Oblivion is parting with valuable loot due to over-encumbrance. To solve that problem, kill an enemy that falls to pieces, like skeletons or storm atronachs.

Pick up a fragment of your fallen foe's corpse. You can store as much loot as you like in it. Just carry the piece with you back to town, where you can sell or store it.

Seek Cover When Under Fire

When you are heavily under fire in an abandoned tower, run up the flights of stairs to the top level. You will usually find a ledge onto which you can jump to put yourself out of the enemy's reach. From there, take time to heal yourself and prepare for a second attack. This also provides a good vantage point to gauge the number of enemies who oppose you.

Keep a keen eye on potential safe locations, like high rocks with limited access, wall ruins that rise high, and the tops of buildings.

How to Increase Alchemy Skills Easily

Alchemy is one of the easiest skills to train. Just duplicate ingredients with the dupe glitch, and make your potions. A lot of them. And you can sell them for a lot of money, too!

How to Increase Speechcraft Semi-Quickly (Xbox 360 Version)

Here's how to quickly and easily raise your Speechcraft on the Xbox 360 version of Oblivion. Talk to someone and persuade them. Start the circle mini-game and keep rotating the circle and keep pushing the A button. You gain Speechcraft semi-quick doing so and there is no limit to how long you can do this.

Enemies Don't Like Borders

Oblivion NPCs, unlike Morrowind, can cross zone borders. While aggressive NPCs can cross zone borders, they rarely do so en masse, and sometimes they don't cross at all. Enter an area with six or so hostile Daedra within striking range, return to the door directly behind you, and one of them will follow you through the zone crossing. If you're fighting a horde, this method can make dealing with them much simpler.

How to Get a Free Unique Horse

To get a free horse, or rather a unicorn, go south of the Imperial City across the moat. You'll see a camp on your compass. Go to it, then head south until you see a shrine to Hircine. From there, go south to an open field, kill the three minotaurs, and you'll find a unicorn. It's fast and strong, but don't attack it or it won't let you ride it again. It counts as your mount even outside of cities.

Well-Fed Mudcrab

On the road, NE from Skingrad to the Imperial City is a cave called Greenmead Cave. Inside is a very well-fed Mudcrab.

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Oblivion Tips And Tricks For Players Coming From Skyrim

By Cian Maher


If you're looking to dive into Oblivion now that it's on Game Pass, here are some tips to get you started.

So, you’ve seen that Oblivion is now available to download on Game Pass and you’re curious about what Bethesda was up to before Skyrim. That’s great! Oblivion is an excellent game (I reckon it’s better than Skyrim) and you’ll probably have a blast with it.

That being said, Oblivion is also pretty different to the kind of Elder Scrolls game you might be familiar with, so it’s worth reading up on a few quickfire tips before going in with no idea about what’s happening. Skyrim streamlined quite a lot of Oblivion’s systems for a more mainstream audience, meaning that there’s loads of stuff you’ll need to do here that might not seem immediately obvious. Don’t worry, though - us old school Elder Scrolls heads have you covered.

Learn On Easy

The first thing you’ll want to do is pull the difficulty right down. Oblivion works differently to Skyrim in that the leveling system isn’t quite as intuitive. The best way to learn how it works is to ensure you’re actually gaining levels instead of dying all the time. This is a game in which builds matter way more than they do in Skyrim, and even if you made a mockery of Dragon Priests in the Land of the Nords, you could find yourself getting smacked around by an ordinary citizen in Oblivion - which happens far more often than you might think. It’s not easy to just pump points into One-Handed and Destruction and leg it around as a battlemage - if you invest points in skills that are incompatible with one another, you’re going to make life incredibly difficult for yourself.

Related: Oblivion Is A Much Better Elder Scrolls Game Than Skyrim

Don’t Be Afraid Of Preset Classes

I personally think Acrobatics is the best skill to level up, especially in the early game, but it really depends on what kind of playstyle you’re after. Just remember to lean into magic, melee, or ranged weapons, and to ignore skills that have nothing to do with your chosen vocation. I’d probably recommend just using the preset classes that’s closest to what you want until you get to see how skills, attributes, and perks all fold into one another and have relatively less ostensible progression than in Skyrim.

Magic Is Broken

Once you’ve got the hang of things and feel comfortable enough to ramp the difficulty up again - or not, it really depends on your own personal preference - it’s worth looking at how magic works in the game. The major difference between Oblivion and Skyrim in this guard is that you can create your own spells in Oblivion, some of which are frankly absurd. While you might think this means raining down fireballs that deal a million damage, it’s usually more effective to lean into Restoration or Alteration, which allow you to design wildly powerful support spells that can aid any class.

Remember, You Need To Sleep To Level Up

There’s also the actual process of leveling, which isn’t automatic. Essentially, you need to upgrade your skills by at least ten points in order to be eligible for gaining a level. However, this level isn’t added on acquisition of the tenth point - instead, you need to go and have a little nap. When you wake up, all nice and rested, your overall character level will have increased by one.

Levelling has pros and cons in Oblivion. On one hand, most of the gear you get in the game scales with your level, not just in terms of using it, but in that acquiring the same quest item at levels 10 and 15 will impose a noticeable difference on its quality. Most faction items like the Shrouded Armor should be left until later in the game, otherwise they’ll be near useless by the time you reach the end of the story. Enemies also scale with your level, meaning that every time you level up, the fights you engage in will become markedly tougher. The most important aspect of leveling, though, which outweighs everything else in this paragraph, is that gaining a level allows you to increase your attributes, which are sort of like skills within your main skills. If you don’t do this, your health won’t increase, nor will your damage output or Magicka and stamina.

All of this feeds into why it’s so important for you to practice on a preset build before trying your hand at your own unique buildcrafting. Between scaling gear, scaling enemies, and the major/minor skill/attribute split, you’ve got a lot going on and an unfortunately high chance to soft-lock yourself into being too weak in the late game, meaning you’ll need to farm side quests just to bring yourself back up to speed. You can also farm levels by repeatedly jumping your way up hills and gradients, which will ramp your Acrobatics skill right up, or by farming Sneak experience like how you would in Skyrim. Just remember that once you’re detected in Oblivion, you’re detected - you can’t just move an inch to the left and the guard won’t see you anymore.

Talk To Everyone You See

Speaking of which, trying to stay hidden all of the time in Oblivion is a bit pointless, because you’ve got to actively speak to NPCs to unlock major quests. It’s worth starting faction lines like The Fighters’ Guild, The Mages’ Guild, and The Dark Brotherhood early, but don’t do the later missions until you’re a decent level. Remember, you can get pretty great gear from these quests, so choosing to earn it early on just locks you out of obtaining more powerful variants of it later in the game.

Don’t Bother Exploring Oblivion Gates Too Much

In terms of the main quest, it’s worth knowing that you can just speedrun the Oblivion Gates. As in, there is rarely a case in which you need to explore the whole plane or kill every single enemy you see. Just get to the top of the relevant tower and obtain the necessary item, at which point you can head back to Cyrodiil without spending hours wandering around for no reason. It saves a lot of time and although the lava is cool to look at, there’s really no need to spend ages there when you could be doing far more intriguing side quests back in Bruma, or Skingrad, or the Imperial City.

If I could offer specific advice, I’d say to pick a Dark Elf and focus on a mixture of magic and melee. I’d do loads of dungeons right from the start to farm experience and items to sell for cash, then make a start on the main story and faction quests after getting a decent grip of how leveling, combat, and mission progression works. Once you’ve got a handle on that, Oblivion isn’t half as intimidating as it might initially seem, and the main story is loads better than the one in Skyrim. With that said, all that’s left is to have a good time - enjoy yourself in Cyrodiil.

Next: I Can’t Believe Marvel’s Avengers Is Pinning Its Hopes On A Guy Called Clint


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About The Author
Cian Maher (1052 Articles Published)

Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He's also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

More From Cian Maher
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Oblivion :: 8 Tips \u0026 Tricks for Efficient Leveling (Elder Scrolls 4)

Buy The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion® Game of the Year Edition

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion® Game of the Year Edition © 2007 Bethesda Softworks LLC, a ZeniMax Media company. The Elder Scrolls, Oblivion, Shivering Isles, Knights of the Nine, Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax and related logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of ZeniMax Media Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. 2K Games and the 2K Games logo, A Take2 Company logo, and Take Two Interactive Software are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Take Two Interactive Software, Inc. Uses Bink Video. Copyright © 1997-2006 by RAD Game Tools, Inc. Portions of this software utilize SpeedTree technology. © 2002 Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. All rights reserved. Uses Gamebryo software © 1999-2006 Emergent Game Technologies. All rights reserved. Havok.com™ Middle-ware Physics System. © 1999-2007 Telekinesys Research Ltd. All rights reserved. See www.havok.com for details. FaceGen from Singular Inversions, Inc. © 1998-2005. All rights
reserved. © 1998-2006 OC3 Entertainment, Inc. and its licensors. Software platform logo (TM and ©) IEMA 2007. The ratings icon is a trademark of the Entertainment Software Association. All Rights Reserved.

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Guide oblivion strategy

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Wiki Guide

Your task is really quite simple. All you need to do is close all of the Oblivion gates and save Cyrodiil from certain doom, rise to the top rank in every guild, become the strongest warrior to ever walk the earth, and complete about a million side quests. Ok, maybe you have a lot of work ahead of you, but you've come to the right place.

IGN Guides is your source for everything you need to know about The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. We'll take you through the entire game and show you were all of the greatest rewards can be had. Before you get lost, make sure you check out our guide.

Wiki Sections

Contributor Assistance

Oblivion is a huge game and we can always use more help. If you're unfamiliar with editing our wikis, this simple How-to Wiki guide shows you how to get started. If you are unsure about something, do not hesitate to ask the staff or flag the page you are having trouble with (please don't forget to tell us about the problem or reason).

In This Wiki Guide

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

In this RPG epic, you must find the lost heir to the throne and unravel the plot that threatens to destroy all of Tamriel.
The Incredible MCU That Time Forgot

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been around long enough now that it's easy to take for granted. But it's not the first time a shared universe of Marvel Comics characters showed up on screen. No, the FIRST MCU was in the '80s. Spinning out of the smash hit The Incredible Hulk, Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno took their small screen superhero act to the next level. This is the Inside Story of the original shared Marvel world, The Incredible MCU That Time Forgot. The mini-doc features the Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno, along with Eric Allan Kramer who played Thor, the original Daredevil Rex Smith, Elizabeth Gracen whose spy Jasmin was for all intents and purposes Black Widow, and writer Gerald Di Pego, who scripted two of the three films. The cast and crew talk about the original series, coming back with The Return of the Incredible Hulk, and riding that success through The Trial of The Incredible Hulk before wrapping up the trilogy with The Death of The Incredible Hulk. While the modern Avengers have grown from
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Oblivion Leveling Explained - How the System Works

By: Matthew Rorie
Design: Kimberley Duval

It's been a long time coming, but the journey from Morrowind to Oblivion was worth the wait. Fans of the Elder Scrolls have had to wait almost four years for a sequel to Morrowind, the sprawling, epic game set in the land of Vvardenfell. Luckily for them, and for anyone interested in quality role-playing games, Oblivion has finally arrived, and it's even bigger and better than its predecessor.

Unlike Morrowind, Oblivion is set in Cyrodiil, the heartland of the Empire of Tamriel, which in turn is just a single continent on the planet of Nirn. With sixteen square miles of land to explore, there's going to be plenty of dungeons to explore, along with a huge number of structured quests, including those found as a part of the game's main storyline, the four main guilds you can join, as well as dozens of other miscellaneous quests you can take part of.

GameSpot's Game Guide to Oblivion features a bevy of information to keep you informed about all things Elder, and many things Scrollish. In addition to a complete main quest walkthrough, we've got character creation tips, tips for combat, stealth, and alchemy, a bunch of general information (want to know where to buy lockpicks? Check the commerce tips), and walkthroughs for all of the Guild and Daedric Shrine quests. Enjoy!


There are ten main races to be found in Cyrodiil, some fairly standard human-esque races, some more traditional fantasy archetypes, and some that are a bit more outlandish. Your choice of race doesn't affect what you can choose to do in the game, but each race does have a few particular strengths, so if you know what kind of character you want to play in the game, such as by focusing on spellcasting or fighting with melee weapons, then you can give yourself a head start by picking a race with complementary skills and ability scores. But, again, your choice of race doesn’t close off any paths to you, so if you want to make a Breton but focus on your heavy armor and sword skills, you'll be free to do so; you'll just start a bit behind (skill-wise) Redguard character with the same focus.


The reptilian Argonians have an odd collection of skill bonuses, making them a bizarre jack-of-all-trades trades race. Their primary attributes are Agility and Speed, which make them decent thief/stealth characters, but apart from that they're somewhat undistinguished unless you intend to select the race for role-playing purposes.

Skill Bonuses

  • Alchemy +5
  • Athletics +10
  • Blade +5
  • Hand To Hand +5
  • Illusion +5
  • Mysticism +5
  • Security +10

Special Abilities

  • Resist Disease (magnitude 75, permanent)
  • Immune to Poison (magnitude 100, permanent)
  • Water Breathing (permanent)


Oh so pretty...and oh so crazy.

The Bretonian race is well known as having spawned numerous famous spellcasters, and indeed most of their skills rotate around the magical arts. Breton mages aren't of the fire-and-brimstone type, though, preferring to use subtler magical energies to effect their ultimate goals. As such, the fan-favorite Destruction skill is a no-show in their bonuses, but you'll be able to use all sorts of other spells as you like, with some large bonuses to them to boot. Without being able to emphasize Destruction, though, you'll be a little bit behind offensively when compared to a Dark Elf or High Elf mage. Defensively, however, your ability to Resist Magicka will make most spellcasting enemies a piece of cake for Breton mages.

Skill Bonuses

  • Alchemy +5
  • Alteration +5
  • Conjuration +10
  • Illusion +5
  • Mysticism +10
  • Restoration +10

Special Abilities

  • Fortified Majicka (magnitude 50, permanent)
  • Resist Magicka (magnitude 50, permanent)
  • Shield (temporary physical damage barrier, once/day)

Dark Elf

Dark Elf is an excellent race for players that want to make a character that emphasizes a mix of spellcasting and combat. Most of their bonuses are for combat-oriented skills, including a good variety of weapon skills, with Destruction magic getting a large bonus for when you want to take your opponents down at range. While not as physically powerful as a Nord or a Redguard, the balance between strength and magical abilities makes for a well-rounded combat character. And the Resist Fire ability is a big help against the many fire-wielding enemies in the game.

Skill Bonuses

  • Athletics +5
  • Blade +10
  • Blunt +5
  • Destruction +10
  • Light Armor +5
  • Marksman +5
  • Mysticism +5

Special Abilities

  • Ancestor Guardian (Summon Ghost once per day for 60 seconds)
  • Resist Fire (magnitude 75, permanent)

High Elf

The High Elf is arguably the best pure spellcasting race, especially if you're of an offensive bent. With all of the skill bonuses save for Alchemy being focused on spellcasting skills, you're going to have a broad array of magicks boosted, including Destruction for pure offensive combat. Especially noteworthy are the special abilities on offer here; with Fortified Magicka, you'll be able to spend a lot more time casting spells as opposed to taking on enemies in combat. If you can match yourself up with an appropriate birthsign, you can become an extremely specialized mage character, which can be interesting if you have no interest in stealth or combat gameplay.

Skill Bonuses

  • Alchemy +5
  • Alteration +10
  • Conjuration +5
  • Destruction +10
  • Illusion +5
  • Mysticism +10

Special Abilities

  • Fortified Majicka (magnitude 100, permanent)
  • Resist Disease (magnitude 75, permanent)
  • Weakness to Fire, Frost, and Shock (magnitude 25, permanent)


Imperials are fairly run-of-the-mill humans, without any particularly exceptional skill bonuses or special abilities. They're the most personable of all the races, though, typically well-liked by everyone, with the gift of a golden tongue. Although talking your way through the entire game would be a difficult task, to say the least, an Imperial character is probably your best bet if you're attempting to play a character that can Persuade his or her way past characters that are reluctant to help you. You'll probably have the ability to avoid a lot of sticky situations, or just make your trip a bit easier, with an Imperial character that focuses on Speechcraft to help out in conversations. Since you can supplement that with their built-in Voice of the Emperor ability to Charm characters once per day, which can be further supplemented by Charm spells if need be, there should be few critical characters in the game that you can't charm off their feet. This is a more subtle skill than being able to crack everyone's head with an axe, but is still valuable nonetheless.

Skill Bonuses

  • Blade +5
  • Blunt +5
  • Hand To Hand +5
  • Heavy Armor +5
  • Mercantile +10
  • Speechcraft +10

Special Abilities

  • Star of the West (Absorb Fatigue, magnitude 100, once per day)
  • Voice of the Emperor (Charm, magnitude 30, once per day)


The Khajit are well-known as a slave race, at least in the lands of Hammerfell. Freed Khajit are appreciated as thieves, with a suite of skill bonuses well-suited to assassin work, as well. They're typically capable of running farther and jumping higher than other races, and with extra Sneaking and Security they'll be capable of infiltrating areas they're really not meant to enter. Wood Elves are usually going to be better in stealth combat than Khajit, but if you want to try a pure stealth avoidance archetype, then a Khajit might be right up your alley. Your Eye of Fear ability will cause pesky or too-powerful enemies to run away, while Eye of Night will let you see in the dark without having to resort to torches, which attract the attention of enemies.

Skill Bonuses

  • Acrobatics +10
  • Athletics +5
  • Blade +5
  • Hand To Hand +10
  • Light Armor +5
  • Security +5
  • Sneak +5

Special Abilities

  • Eye of Fear (Demoralize, magnitude 100, once a day)
  • Eye of Night (Night-Eye, 30 seconds, repeatable)


If you're going for pure melee, then this race from the northern reaches is going to be ideal for you. With the highest strength of any race (for the women, at any rate; several classes start with 50 strength for men), you're going to be able to carry more loot and whack enemies harder than anyone else in Tamriel. Your skill bonuses are also obviously applicable to the heavy work of an armor-wielding warrior, with a bevy of fine bonuses to your core skills and some smaller bonuses to Restoration and Armorer, which come in handy when you're not in the thick of battle.

Skill Bonuses

  • Armorer +5
  • Blade +10
  • Block +5
  • Blunt +10
  • Heavy Armor +10
  • Restoration +5

Special Abilities

  • Nordic Frost (Magnitude 50 frost damage, once per day)
  • Resist Frost (Magnitude 50, permanent)


Although Orcs aren't well thought of in Tamriel (the female of the species is the only female member of a race that's actually considered uglier than the male, which is reflected in the exceedingly poor Personality score), they do one thing well: fight. With their Berserk ability, they'll be able to flip on the adrenaline once per day, allowing them to gain extra health, strength, and fatigue, at the cost of a massive agility penalty. While this only lasts for a minute or so, it'll help you take down the tough enemies that charge at you, since you'll be able to stand in one spot and go to town on them. Note, however, that they have the fewest number of skill bonuses, and don't get any extra points in Blade, so you'll be forced to skill it up yourself if you want to be handy with a sword.

If you choose to be an Orc, you'll pay the price, literally; merchants will charge you more than they will other characters.

Skill Bonuses

  • Armorer +10
  • Block +10
  • Blunt +10
  • Hand To Hand +5
  • Heavy Armor +10

Special Abilities

  • Berserk (Fortify Health 20, Fortify Strength 50, Fortify Fatigue 200, Drain Agility 100, lasts 60 seconds, can be cast once per day)
  • Resist Magicka (Magnitude 25, permanent)


Another of the melee-oriented races, Redguards are designed for combat and nothing but. While an Armorer boost would probably be preferred over the Athletics skill bonus that they get, the rest of the skills here are welcome for fighters. The Adrenaline Rush ability will give you a huge edge in difficult fights, with no apparent drawbacks, and while resisting poison and disease isn't all that sexy, it'll help you avoid the ill effects of eating Alchemy ingredients while attempting to raise your score.

Skill Bonuses

  • Athletics +10
  • Blade +10
  • Blunt +10
  • Light Armor +5
  • Heavy Armor +5
  • Mercantile +5

Special Abilities

  • Adrenaline Rush (Fortify: Agility 50, Speed 50, Strength 50, Endurance 50, Health 25, lasts sixty seconds, castable once per day)
  • Resist Poison (Magnitude 75, permanent)
  • Resist Disease (Magnitude 75, permanent)

Wood Elf

Wood Elves are among the most skilled stealth warriors in all of Tamriel, and their skill bonuses show it. With huge bonuses to Sneak and Marksman, you'll be creeping up on enemies and felling them from the shadows with your ranged weapons like an assassin. With another large bonus to Alchemy, you'll also be able to supplement your ranged attacks with deadly poisons. Add in some Illusion magic to make yourself invisible, and you'll be one of the deadliest soldiers in the land, of a sort; when it comes to a straight fight, you'll have some problems.

Skill Bonuses

  • Acrobatics +5
  • Alchemy +10
  • Alteration +5
  • Light Armor +5
  • Marksman +10
  • Sneak +10

Special Abilities

  • Beast Tongue (Command Creature, magnitude 20, lasts sixty seconds once per day)
  • Resist Disease (Magnitude 75, permanent)



Benefit: +100 Magicka, 100% Weakness to Magicka Double your pleasure, double your risk. Taking double damage from spellcasters and magical monsters will make this a painful birthsign to be born under, but the extra Magicka will definitely come in handy throughout the game.


Benefit: Willpower +10, Endurance +10 A curious mix of attribute bonuses, albeit perhaps decent for a Battlemage character. Willpower affects Destruction, Alteration, and Restoration, while Endurance affects Heavy Armor, Block, and Armorer. Generally characters like this will be taking one of the magicka-boosting birthsigns instead of something like this, however.


Benefit: +50 Magicka This is going to be useful across the board, with spellcasting-focused characters obviously getting the primary benefit. Almost anyone can take advantage of extra Magicka, though, especially since it can be difficult to raise your Magicka if you intend to focus on weapon or thief skills.


Benefit: +10 Agility, +10 Speed, +10 Luck You'll be more proficient at sneaking, picking locks, and wearing light armor when using this skill, making you a master thief. The bonus to Luck will have a large impact on all of your actions, making this a no-brainer for stealthy characters.


Benefit: +150 Magicka, 50% Spell Absorption, no magicka regeneration The Atronach ability is one of the most risky, but rewarding, of all of them. With it, you'll gain a huge, hyoooge boost to your starting magicka, and will be able to absorb incoming spells and convert their damage into more magicka for yourself. The drawback? You don't actually regenerate any magicka on your own, forcing you to actually rely on getting hit by spells in the hopes that you'll absorb them.

Oddly enough, the lack of magicka regeneration will probably make you more hesitant to let loose with spells; you'll never know if the cave you're in is going to be populated with nothing but trolls, making it impossible for you to get your magicka back. Needless to say, you're probably going to be sucking down plenty of Restore Magicka potions when you choose this birthsign.

That said, with a little effort, this can be quite a powerful sign to choose. Even melee-oriented characters can take advantage of the extra magicka abilities, using their higher magic reserves to cast situational spells that would otherwise be too expensive for them, like Cure Disease, while taking advantage of the spell absorption to help mitigate incoming damage.


Benefit: Can heal for 90 points of health over time, permanent 25% weakness to fire. The heal spell here is always going to be worthwhile, since it is in fact a spell and not a once-per-day ability. It's a very efficient spell, as well, in terms of magicka cost (50) versus health gained (90). (Compare to something like Heal Minor Wounds, which will usually cost 14 magicka for an eight-point heal.) Still, though, mage characters are likely going to be able to just cast something they buy in a store, while fighters and thieves will likely be able to make or buy plenty of Healing or Restore Health potions.


Benefit: Paralyze once a day for 10 seconds at a cost of 120 Fatigue Paralyzation is one of the strongest combat abilities you can gain in Oblivion, since it'll completely eliminate your target from the fight for the duration of the effect. Most humanoid enemies will fall to the ground when paralyzed, allowing you to deal extra damage to them with melee weapons, or just take advantage of their incapacitation to book a hasty retreat. The large fatigue penalty will make it easier for your enemies to knock you down, however, so this is best used when you and your target are going one-on-one. This is probably best for fighter characters, who can capitalize on the paralyzation with a flurry of blows


Benefit: Restore 200 Health once per day; Turn Undead spell An instant 200 health restoration is going to eliminate the need for many characters to actually rest during lengthy sojourns into Oblivion, or will give them an out during fights with boss-level enemies. The Turn Undead ability is more specific, and will probably be of most use to thief and spellcasting characters that can't handle the Skeleton Heroes when they start popping up. It works all the way up to level 25 undead, which means that it'll be handy through most of the game, but then again, it won't actually kill any enemies for you, just make them run away.


Benefit: Poisons your target for 20 seconds while casting Dispel and Cure Poison on yourself; costs 100 Fatigue Blah. All of these effects can be replicated with potions and poisons, and the poison on your enemy won't be putting a dent in their health by the time you reach the upper teen levels. We've gotten through most of the game without ever casting Dispel or Cure Poison on ourselves, so you should probably steer clear of this birthsign.


Benefit: Can turn invisible for 60 seconds once per day. Plainly useful for all character types, but mostly intended for use in the Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood quests. If you're willing to forego those questlines until you're level 10, then the Ring of Khajiiti will make this birthsign mostly redundant, since it will offer up a permanent Chameleon ability. If at any point you need true invisibility, that can be supplied through potions or spells. Still, a decent choice for any character that prefers bypassing their problems instead of hitting them in the face.


Benefit: Speed +20 Um...next? Speed makes you go faster; it has a marginal (at best) effect on how you play the game, besides letting you get around more quickly. It affects the skills of Acrobatics, Athletics, and Light Armor, of which only Light Armor will really be worth taking the time to upgrade, and then only for stealthy characters. There are much better birthsigns available to you.


Benefit: Open Average Lock once per day; Reflect Damage 5% for two minutes, once per day Not an incredibly useful birthsign, unless you're role-playing a character that refuses to learn how to pick locks. This might let you get into the boss-level chests that you spot in your travels, but eventually you'll start running into Hard or Very Hard locks, and there's nothing that's going to help you get past them outside of Alteration spells or a high Security skill. The Skeleton Key will also make the lock-opening skill pretty much obsolete. The Reflect Damage ability is a bit too passive for our tastes; not only is it a fairly meager effect, but you'll eventually start finding rings and amulets that offer more powerful Reflect Damage effects on a permanent basis.


Benefit: +10 Strength, +10 Endurance More carrying capacity, more damage, more health, more fatigue. All the things a growing warrior needs. This is a safe choice for battle-oriented characters, or anyone who wants more health and the ability to carry a bit more loot.


There are numerous different skills in Oblivion, all of which you can dabble in or specialize in as is your wont. We're going to leave the character creation aspects of choosing skills aside for now and focus on simply describing the skills and how they affect the game, but suffice to say that you can and probably will want to try your hand at numerous different skills through the course of a game, unless you're role-playing a warrior with a huge disdain for magic, or something like that.

Note that your character has a proficiency number for each skill, with a higher number indicating that your character is more talented in that particular skill. To increase your skill's proficiency, you have to use it over and over again; you can cast repeated healing spells on yourself to increase your Restoration skill, or make a billion potions to increase your Alchemy skill. Each skill also has a rank associated with it, which indicates a different level of power, which in turn lets you unlock new abilities related to that power.

Skill ScoreMastery Level

For the purposes of organizational clarity, we'll repeat the game manual's classification of skills into Combat, Magic, and Stealth, but these are pretty fuzzy terms. The main area where this taxonomy comes into play is in character creation, where you choose a class that has a "focus" in one of these areas; that area's skills will get an immediate ten point bonus to their starting numbers and will rank up a bit more quickly than other skills will. Again, though, you aren't constrained in your choice of skills, and if you're a Combat specialist that wants to use Alchemy to make potions and Illusion magic to light up dank dungeons, then you'll be free to do so.

Also note that there are special NPCs in the game world that you can pay for training. Each character will accept a certain amount of gold to increase your skill's rating by one point. Training is expensive, however, and can only be purchased five times per level. We've noted the general locations of each of these trainers underneath their specific skills. The low-level trainers will train you between ranks one and 40; the mid-level trainers work between 40 and 70; and the high-level trainers work from 70 to 100. The high-level trainers will usually require you to perform a quest of some sort before they'll agree to train you, however.

Combat Skills


Relevant Attribute: Endurance
Low Trainers: Eitar, in a house in Leyawiin; Tadrose Helas, Bravil Fighter's Guild
Medium Trainers: Rohssan, A Fighting Chance shop in Imperial Market District; Rasheda in Fire and Steel in Chorrol
High Trainer: Gin-Wulm, wanders in the Imperial Market District much of the time

Armorer is more or less a critical skill for every character to learn, unless you're playing a hard-core pacifist character that attempts to never kill anything, or a nudist character that runs around and beats up everything with his or her fists. Almost every other character, though, will use some kind of armor or weapon, or will take damage from enemy blows, and that results in equipment that gets broken or worn over time.

With the Armorer skill, you can use repair hammers to repair your equipment in the middle of a dungeon, or out in a field, or anywhere else it might be convenient, provided that you actually have the hammers to use. (Early on in the game, the 20 gold or so per hammer will be a big goldsink for you, but they're pretty much necessary.) It's important to keep your equipment in tip-top shape, because as it takes damage, it also loses efficacy. It's not a situation where your equipment is either working or not, in other words; a sword that's been damaged 50% will be doing around 50% of its maximum damage. So you'll want to stop and pause frequently to repair your armor.

Just letting people hit you will be the easiest way to flex your Armorer muscles, but you can also repair your enemy's equipment.

This isn't a difficult thing to do, luckily; if you're a warrior, just bind a repair hammer to one of your hotkeys and pull it up whenever it's convenient. From there, it's just a matter of pressing a button over and over until all of your equipment is repaired. Until you get to Apprentice level, you're going to be breaking hammers like a madman, but after you do hit Apprentice, you should be able to complete most dungeon jaunts with five-ten hammers and not have to worry too much about running out.

If you set Armorer as a Minor Skill, you'll probably want to train yourself up to level 50 to gain the ability to repair magical items, if you don't manage to get there through normal use of the skill. If you're really desperate to increase your Armorer rating, head into Bandit-infested dungeons, and pick up all of the armor and weapons that they drop when you kill your foes. Keep on doing this until you become overencumbered, then repair everything that pops up in your repair menu and drop anything that isn't valuable enough to keep carrying.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceCannot repair magical items.
ApprenticeStill can't repair magical items, but hammers last twice as long.
JourneymanCan repair magical items.
Expert Can actually make items better by "repairing" them to 125% of their base statistics. This adds damage to weapons and protection to armor.
MasterNever breaks hammers, so you can get by with only one hammer.


Relevant Attribute: Speed
Low Trainers: Uuras in Skingrad; Mahei in Leyawiin
Medium Trainers: Hauls-Ropes-Faster, usually found in the Fo'c'sle inn in Anvil's dock district during the day, but you'll have to pick the lock on his room
High Trainer: Rusia Bradus, Anvil's main section

The harsh truth is that very, very few players of Oblivion are going to be hyped up about the ability to pump up their Athletics score. Although it has some subtle benefits for your character, the ability to run and swim faster just isn't necessarily all that sexy. Although you do regenerate fatigue more quickly when you increase your Athletics, that alone isn't going to be worth specializing in the skill, especially since it's pretty much always increasing just from running around and swimming. It'll go up on its own fairly naturally as you play the game.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceSlow Fatigue regeneration while running.
Apprentice25% faster Fatigue regeneration while running.
Journeyman50% faster Fatigue regeneration while running.
Expert 75% faster Fatigue regeneration while running.
MasterRunning doesn't reduce fatigue regeneration.


Relevant Attribute: Strength
Low Trainers: Naspia Cosa, Castle Cheydinhal; Right-Wind, Bruma Fighters Guild
Medium Trainers: Sherina, Leyawiin Fighters Guild; Rhano, Anvil Fighters Guild
High Trainer: Alix Lencola, Faregyl Inn, south of Imperial City on the Green Road, on a little dead-end road near the end of a river

Ah, the blade. This is pretty much the classic fantasy role-playing skill, allowing you to use bladed weapons of all makes and models. (Although, not really; note that axes are for some reason considered to be Blunt weapons.)

Increasing your Blade skill lets you deal more damage with bladed weapons. Pretty simple! Note that warrior characters should only pick ONE of the three weapons-related skills as a Major Skill, for reasons that we make clear in our chapter on levelling up.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceBasic Power Attack available by holding down the attack button.
ApprenticeStanding Power Attack becomes available; hold down button while standing still.
JourneymanLeft and Right Power Attacks available; hold down attack button while moving left or right. Chance to disarm your opponent. (Grab their weapon immediately, or they'll just pick it up again!)
Expert Backward Power Attack, chance to knockdown enemy.
MasterForward Power Attack, chance to paralyze enemy.


Relevant Attribute: Endurance
Low Trainers: Fadus Calidius, Skingrad Fighters Guild; Huurwen, Anvil Fighters Guild
Medium Trainers: Lum gro-Baroth, Chorrol Fighters Guild; Ambroise Canne, Skingrad
High Trainer: Andragil, Bravil

Um...good boy? Block will help you survive against bruising melee opponents.

The Block ability determines your character's proficiency in the art of shielding him or herself from blows. Anything can be used to block, whether it's a bow held sideways across the body, the short end of a warhammer, a shield, or even your bare hands, but the shield is definitely the emphasis here. Shields are generally the most well-armored piece of equipment you can own, and can deflect much more damage than other types of blockable items. The abilities here also emphasize the ability to block with shields. Although characters with two-handed weapons are still technically able to block, if you're focusing on defensive measures, then there's nothing like a good shield at your side.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceBlocking drains fatigue, take full damage when blocking with only your hands.
ApprenticeBlocking no longer drains fatigue.
JourneymanWeapons and shields no longer take damage when blocking, enemies occasionally recoil when striking your hands when blocking in hand-to-hand combat.
Expert Can perform a knockback counterattack with shield only, giving chance to stagger the enemy.
MasterKnockback counterattacks have a further chance to disarm the opponent.


Relevant Attribute: Strength
Low Trainers: Bugak gro-Bol, Southern Books in Leyawiin; Vigdis, Anvil Fighters Guild
Medium Trainers: Christophe Marane, Brina Cross Inn near Anvil; Azzan at Anvil Fighters Guild
High Trainer: Irene Metrick, Imperial City Elven Gardens District

The always amusingly-named Blunt skill is a favorite of Redman and Method Man, as well as mace-wielding warriors everywhere. Blunt weapons are typically more effective on skeletons than blades, for what it's worth, but deciding between the two is still a mostly personal preference. Even though you should only pick one as a Major Skill, though, you can (and should) still attempt to use the other type of weapon as often as possible, to increase your Strength bonus at level-ups.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceBasic Power Attack available by holding down the attack button.
ApprenticeStanding Power Attack becomes available; hold down button while standing still.
JourneymanLeft and Right Power Attacks available; hold down attack button while moving left or right. Chance to disarm your opponent. (Grab their weapon immediately, or they'll just pick it up again!)
Expert Backward Power Attack, chance to knockdown enemy.
MasterForward Power Attack, chance to paralyze enemy.

Hand To Hand

Relevant Attribute: Strength
Low Trainers: Nahsi, Bravil Fighters Guild; Rufrius Vinicius, Anvil Fighters Guild
Medium Trainers: Davela Hlaren, Imperial Bridge Inn, Silverfish River; Ra'qanar, Castle Cheydinhal
High Trainer: Helvius Cecia, Bruma (house or in the Thieves Guild)

Hand to hand combat is the domain of a relatively small number of martial artists in Cyrodiil, but it can still be a powerful tool in the hands of those skilled in it. Or it can just be about running around and punching dudes in the face. Your choice.

The main difference between Hand to Hand combat and the other two weapons styles (Blade and Blunt) is that Hand to Hand also deals damage to an opponent's Fatigue, as well as their health, meaning that you'll occasionally be able to knock your opponent right the hell out and pound on them while they're lying on the ground (which never gets old). You can help this process along by poisoning them with a Fatigue-draining arrow or a Drain Fatigue or Damage Fatigue spell. In trade, you'll probably lose a bit of maximum damage when compared to a real weapons skill, and of course you won't ever be able to enchant your fists with a Sigil Stone or something like that for extra power.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceBasic Power Attack available by holding down the attack button.
ApprenticeStanding Power Attack becomes available; hold down button while standing still.
JourneymanLeft and Right Power Attacks available; hold down attack button while moving left or right. Chance to disarm your opponent. (Grab their weapon immediately, or they'll just pick it up again!)
Expert Backward Power Attack, chance to knockdown enemy, has a chance to perform a knockback attack while blocking.
MasterForward Power Attack, chance to paralyze enemy, has a chance to disarm opponent after a knockback attack while blocking.

Heavy Armor

Relevant Attribute: Endurance
Low Trainers: Brodras, Leyawiin Fighters Guild; Bumph gra-Gash, Bruma Guild
Medium Trainers: Varnado, Best Defense shop, Imperial Market District; Valus Odiil, Chorrol
High Trainer: Pranal, Roxey Inn, on the road directly north of Imperial Prison Sewer/Vilverin

Like with Armorer, boosting your Heavy Armor skill means getting hit a lot.

Your Heavy Armor skill increases the amount of protection you gain when you wear Iron, Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony, and Daedric armor. The only way to increase your Heavy Armor skill is to get hit by something while wearing it, so this is a skill that will naturally increase as you engage in firefights. Since you'll likely want to get this as high as possible to take advantage of the added defense, this is a good selection as a Major Skill for most warriors. It'll still go up fairly slowly, but if you want it to increase, you can always let a Mud Crab or Rat hit away at you while using a low-level Restoration skill to restore your health.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceHeavy armor degrades at 150% of the normal rate.
ApprenticeHeavy armor degrades at a normal rate.
JourneymanHeavy armor degrades at 50% of the normal rate.
Expert Equipped heavy armor only counts as half its normal weight for the purpose of encumbrance.
MasterEquipped heavy armor weighs nothing for the purpose of encumbrance.

Magic Skills

Note that Magical skills don't really have set benefits or extra powers based on your Mastery Level. Instead, the ability to use new and more powerful spells is dictated by your Master Level. When you're a Novice in Alteration, for instance, you might be able to cast a spell that lets you open Very Easy locks; you'll have to rank up to Apprentice before you can cast a spell that opens Easy locks.

Almost everyone can use magic for simple effects, but although you can definitely increase your skill in a school of magic by simply casting low-level spells over and over again, the higher-level spells will eventually become prohibitively expensive for anyone but magic specialists, since most warriors and stealth characters probably won't have been heavily investing in Intelligence, which is required to obtain enough magicka to actually cast the high-level spells.


Relevant Attribute: Intelligence
Low Trainers: Felen Relas, Anvil Mages Guild; S'drassa, Leyawiin Mages Guild
Medium Trainers: Ardaline, Bravil Mages Guild; Brotch Calus, Bruma
High Trainer: Sinderion, West Weald Inn in Skingrad

Note that much of this information is repeated in our Alchemy Tips chapter. Refer to that for even more information.

First off, alchemy should never be a Major Skill, unless you plan to use it solely for the purpose of levelling up, and never intend to actually make potions. The reason for this is that you simply level up too quickly if you actually use Alchemy a lot; you're going to wind up with a lot of ingredients if you pick up whatever you find in your travels, and if you save them up and use a bunch of them at one go, then you can often gain four or five points in alchemy in one sitting, which can cause you to level up before you've managed to gain any points in your primary attributes. This warning can be tempered somewhat for character

Weynon Priory has a good set of novice alchemy equipment, if you can find a quiet time to lift it.

We'll explain the reasoning behind this shortly, but first, a description of what Alchemy is...to begin with, here's a list of what you get for increasing your skill level in Alchemy. Of course, increasing your skill level will also make your potions more effective: they'll have bigger effects that last longer, and so on and so forth.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceSees only one alchemical properties of an ingredient.
ApprenticeSees only two alchemical properties of an ingredient.
JourneymanSees only three alchemical properties of an ingredient.
Expert Sees all four alchemical properties of an ingredient.
MasterCan make potions with only one ingredient.

Alchemy is essentially the art of taking ingredients and making them into potions of various effects. In order to perform alchemy, you'll need, at a bare minimum, a mortar and pestle (which counts as one item) and two ingredients which have the same alchemical effect. That'll net you a potion, although it might not be a very good one. If you want to make better potions, you'll want to add more equipment, including an alembic, a calcinator, and a retort. Although it's possible to make a potion with any combination of these equipment pieces (the mortar and pestle is always required, however), it's not too difficult to acquire all of them, and having them all while you make your potions will definitely improve their quality. Unfortunately they can be cumbersome to lug around, with a full set weighing around twenty pounds, so if you intend to partake of alchemical goodness, you'll want to buy a house early on with a storage unit so you can store your equipment there and use it when you've collected a bunch of ingredients.

Collecting Ingredients

Speaking of ingredients, there are a lot of them. A LOT of them. As you wander around Cyrodiil's beautiful landscapes, you'll find plenty of plants and mushrooms lining the roads or located under the trees. If you look at these ingredients, you'll see a hand icon indicating that you can interact with them; if you do, you'll usually pick up some kind of ingredient from it. (Sometimes you'll be told that you can't find anything when searching a plant; your chance at being successful depends on the plant, apparently.) Ingredients grow back a few days after you search a plant, so you don't have to worry about deforesting Cyrodiil and running out of ingredients.

Other sources for ingredients are creatures and shops. Many creatures will drop ingredients, such as rat meat from rats, bonemeal from skeletons, and daedra hearts from dead Daedra. (Eww!) Shops, such as The Finest Ingredient in the Imperial Market District, will also sell ingredients, sometimes rare ones. You can also find huge amounts of normal food (which acts as a good low-level ingredient for practicing alchemy), such as wheat, bread, fruit, and rice, throughout every city and town in Cyrodiil, especially in storehouses and people's basements. Pick up all of this that you can, make a bunch of potions to increase your Alchemy skill, then sell all of the potions; you win in every way imaginable.

Tip: Note that you can increase your Alchemy skill by simply eating the ingredients that you pick up. You'll gain whatever the first effect they have is, and obviously the item will be consumed. This is a good way to make space in your bag if you're about to go overweight, but is less efficient at increasing your skill than making potions is.

In your travels, you're going to be picking up a lot of ingredients; check your encumbrance every so often. When you're about to stop moving because you have so much stuff in your bag, head back to your house and indulge in a little alchemy to convert everything into potions, then sell off the potions you don't actually want or need.

Making Potions

In order to increase your Alchemy skill, you'll want to make as many potions as you possibly can. At low levels of skill, the easiest potions to make are Restore Fatigue potions. Almost every kind of household food, such as onions, bread, lettuce, and so on, will have Restore Fatigue as their first property, allowing you to loot kitchens all across town and convert your proceeds into Restore Fatigue potions. They won't be particularly good potions, but they'll definitely help increase your skill, and you'll be making so many of them that you'll gain a good amount of money from selling them.

Multiple ingredients means multiple potion effects!

Note that all ingredients that you find will have more than one alchemical property. As you increase your skill in Alchemy, you'll be able to see more of the hidden properties of your potions. At low levels of Alchemy skill, your ingredients basically only have the properties that you can see, so if you want to be able to use a more diverse array of ingredients in your potions, you'll have to rank yourself up, but doing so will help ensure that you'll be able to make the kinds of potions that you want with the ingredients that you actually have. Unlocking more effects will also allow you to use more ingredients in your poisons, adding multiple effects that occur simultaneously.

Note that a lot of ingredients actually have negative effects, such as Damage Health (always popular). Making a potion with a negative effect actually turns it into a poison (which appear in your inventory as green bottles instead of the purplish color of potions). Poisons can't be ingested, so they can't really hurt you. Instead, they can be activated in your inventory and applied to a weapon, allowing you to spread the love to the next enemy you hit, giving you a bit more oomph when facing off against boss-level enemies.


Relevant Attribute: Willpower
Low Trainers: Dovyn Aren, Elven Gardens District; Deetsan, Cheydinhal Mages Guild
Medium Trainers: Athragar, Chorrol Mages Guid; Abhuki, Faregyl Inn, south of Imperial City on the Green Road, on a little dead-end road near the end of a river
High Trainer: Tooth-in-the-Sea, on the river's coast just north of Bravil, near the Flooded Mine. If he's not sleeping on his little cot, come back after 7 PM.

Alteration spells aren't really going to make you stop and say "Wow!" when you hear their effects; it'll be more along the lines of "Well, that might be kind of useful." No one's going to specialize in Alteration to the exclusion of other magics, in other words.

With Alteration, you'll be able to temporarily carry more items and heavier items, gain more armor, breathe water or walk across the surface of water, or temporarily gain protection from fire, frost, or electrical attacks. Two of the more notable spell classifications are Burden, which adds to your target's encumbrance temporarily (which can in effect paralyze them and prevent them from moving if you over-encumber them) and Open, which opens locks of various difficulties based on your proficiency in Alteration.

Like we said, not very exciting. Useful, perhaps, but just like no one ever says they want to grow up and be a lab assistant, it's unlikely that an Alteration-focused character archetype is going to be very exciting to play as.


Relevant Attribute: Intelligence
Low Trainers: Sulinus Vassinus, Skingrad Mages Guild; Fathis Aren, Castle Bravil
Medium Trainers: Arentus Falvius, Bruma's chapel; Alberic Litte, Chorrol Mages Guild
High Trainer: Olyn Seran, Shrine of Molag Bal, woods west of the Imperial City

Conjuration is the art of summoning powerful equipment to supplement your battle abilities, summoning creatures to fight for you, and controlling the undead to prevent them from attacking you.

Bound item spells, when cast, cause Daedric armor and items to spring into being, automatically equipped and usable. The Mythic Dawn cultists you see in the game make constant use of these spells, and you see what it does for their abilities in combat. The more skilled you become at Conjuration, the better the items that you'll be able to summon.

Likewise, the more skilled you are, the better the creatures that you'll be able to bind to your cause. While summoning Scamps and Skeletons isn't likely to get your Conjurer homeboys all that excited, the ability to eventually summon in Dremora Lords should cause most of your enemies to shake in their boots. Also note that you can use these summoned creatures as Soul Trap victims, giving you an unlimited and easy supply of souls.

Lastly, the undead powers will let you strike fear in the hearts of undead enemies, making them likely to run away and leave you alone for a little while, as you either make your escape or prepare for their return.


Relevant Attribute: Willpower
Low Trainers: J'skar, Bruma Mages Guild; Chanel, Castle Chorrol
Medium Trainers: Marc Gulitte, Anvil Mages Guild; Delphine Jend, Bravil Guild
High Trainer: Andaren, remote shrine in the Imperial Reserve

When most people think of combat mages, Destruction is the school that comes to mind. It doesn't focus on opening locks or lighting up dank dungeons; it's all about causing harm to your enemies. As such, it'll be a mainstay of most pure mages, as their primary tool for dealing damage.

Even if you don't cast Destruction magic, you can expect to see a lot of it come your way through the course of the game.

Most of the Destruction spells are fairly straightforward. As the archetypal mage power, you'll be able to use fire, frost, and shock magic to deal damage to your enemies, making sure to match up your spells with their weaknesses. Zombies take extra damage from fire magic, for instance, while a Flame Atronach will obviously take more damage from frost spells. If you're up against a boss or tough enemy, you can supplement your attack spells with a Weakness spell, which will increase their vulnerability to a certain kind of elemental damage for a short time.

In addition, you can also attempt to drain an attribute of an enemy, which will cause it to steadily deteriorate over a set amount of time, or attempt to disintegrate their weapons or armor.

If you want to become a combat magician, then you might not want to have Destruction as a Major Skill, simply because you'll be using it so often that you may wind up levelling up more quickly than you'd like.

Note that if you want to quickly train your Destruction spell, but can't find any enemies to cast your spells on, you can use the spell creation device in the Arcane Academy (after you become a member of the Mages Guild) to create a low-level Destruction spell that hurts yourself when cast. If you make something that damages you for one point of health each time it's cast, you should be able to easily cast it over and over to improve your skill without having to engage enemies in combat.


Relevant Attribute: Personality
Low Trainers: Jantus Brolus, Bruma; Hil the Tall, Cheydinhal's Chapel
Medium Trainers: Kud-Ei, Bravil Mages Guild; Carahil, Anvil Mages Guild
High Trainer: Martina Floria, Arcane University

The effects of Illusion magic are too numerous to describe in detail here, but for that reason, they're going to be useful to almost every type of character. Stealthy attackers will enjoy the ability to cast Night Eye on themselves to see in the dark, while straight-ahead warriors will opt for the more obvious Light effect to light up dark dungeon corridors without having to constantly bring up a torch. (These effects are so obviously useful that characters probably shouldn't have Illusion magic as a Major Skill; you're going to use them a lot.)

For pure mages, though, the primary benefits of Illusion are those that allow you to manipulate your enemies into not attacking you, whether through paralysis or simply by charming them to the point that they just don't really want to harm you. You can even go so far as to cause your enemies to fight for you with properly advanced magicks.

Beyond enemy manipulation and the effects listed above, though, you'll also be able to cause yourself to turn Invisible with Illusion magic, which will help you sneak past enemies that you don't wish or are unable to fight. The Chameleon effect is also quite handy. The difference between Invisibility and Chameleon is mostly that Invisibility ends if you happen to attack or use an object, whereas Chameleon does not. Chameleon offers less than total concealment, though.


Relevant Attribute: Intelligence
Low Trainers: Angalmo, Chorrol Mages Guild; Druja, Skingrad Mages Guild
Medium Trainers: Boderi Farano, Arcane University; Ita Rienus, Bravil Mages Guild
High Trainer: Dagail, Leyawiin Mages Guild

Mysticism, like Alteration, isn't necessarily a very exciting branch of magic, although it is going to be something that almost every character will have to dabble in, if only for the sake of casting Soul Trap.

First, though, a word on the other effects of Mysticism. Among other effects, Mysticism controls the ability to dispel magical effects (either harmful effects cast on yourself, or beneficial effects cast on your enemy), and the ability to either reflect harmful spells back to your enemy or absorb them as pure Magicka. The Telekinesis effect will let you manipulate remote objects; this would be a bit more exciting if it let you pick up a head of lettuce and beat someone to death with it. Life Detection allows you to see living objects in your immediate area, even through doors and solid rock, which is helpful for characters that like to sneak through dungeons, or anyone who wants to see where characters in buildings are while you're attempting to lockpick a door while remaining undetected.

The most useful effect for most characters in Mysticism, though, will be Soul Trap, which is going to be required if you want to create new enchanted items or recharge enchanted weapons. You need to be at least an Apprentice of Mysticism to cast Soul Trap, and you'll need around 65 Magicka, as well, so you'll want to buy something like Minor Life Detection when you create a character and repeatedly cast it as you travel around the world. This will both increase your Mysticism skill and allow you to boost your Intelligence score when you level up, even if you're a hearty warrior.

When you unlock Soul Trap, you'll be able to cast it on enemy creatures to steal their soul when they die. The basic sequence of events goes like this: get an empty soul gem and keep it in your inventory. Attack a creature. When it's almost dead, cast Soul Trap on it. Between casting the spell and when the spell wears off (20 seconds at Soul Trap's lowest level), kill the creature to steal the soul. Stolen souls automatically go into the smallest appropriate soul gem in your inventory. (Souls rank anywhere from Petty to Greater, depending on the relative difficult of the creature you kill.)

When you have a captured soul in your inventory, you can either use it immediately to restore the charges on one of your magical items, or bring it to the Arcane University in the Imperial City to enchant a regular item (this is only an option if you're a Mage's Guild member, however). Magical weapons are going to make your job a hell of a lot easier later in the game, especially as a warrior, so it's in your best interest to learn Soul Trap and get used to capturing the souls of creatures that you kill.


Relevant Attribute: Willpower
Low Trainers: Marie Palielle, Skingrad Chapel; Cirroc, Bruma Chapel
Medium Trainers: Marz, Bravil Chapel; Ohtesse, Cheydinhal's Chapel
High Trainer: Oleta, Kvatch Chapel or the camp outside Kvatch

Almost everyone will find something to like in Restoration, if only because it's the skill that'll let you heal yourself up good as new, even if there are enemies around. While everyone can heal themselves completely just by Waiting for one hour, this option won't be available when enemies are too close to your position. While you can often just run back in the direction from which you came to make enough distance between yourself and foes for you to rest, having a healing spell at your disposal will allow you to keep moving on through your dungeon, since magicka regenerates fairly quickly. Note that the lower-level healing spells are generally more efficient than the higher-level ones, by which we mean that they'll typically give you back more health for the amount of magicka that you expend on them. Higher-level spells will obviously heal you more quickly, but warriors and non-magic specialists can probably get by with casting the lowest-level spells over and over again.

In addition to healing spells, though, Restoration offers up a bevy of other effects, some useful, some not so much. The bulk of the spells here are of the Absorb variety, allowing you to transfer attributes and skill points from your enemies to yourself. Theoretically these are useful, but in most instances we found ourselves killing our foes too quickly to get much advantage from the Absorb spells; if they're going to die within 10 or 15 seconds anyway, you may as well just concentrate on your Destruction spells and kill them straight out.

Beyond that, there are plenty of Fortify spells, which temporarily give one of your primary attributes a small boost. These spells can be handy, especially if you use Fortify Personality to gain the upper hand with merchants or people that have information you need.

Stealth Skills


Relevant Attribute: Speed
Low Trainers: Ida Vlinorman, Elven Gardens District; Quill-Weave, Anvil
Medium Trainers: Tsrava, Leyawiin (inside J'Bari's House); Ganredhel, Cheydinhal
High Trainer: Aerin, camp east of Azura's Shrine

Acrobatics is something of the ugly stepsister of skills; it doesn't have much in the way of concrete usage in Oblivion, besides the obvious advantages of being able to jump higher and farther than normal. Really, though, jumping isn't all that required in the game, and you're certainly never going to need to attack while jumping around, even if you wanted to.

That said, there's no reason not to increase your Acrobatics skill, especially since it's fairly easy to do so; all you have to do is jump around everywhere you go. Just keep hitting that jump button! This will obviously reduce your fatigue to almost nothing, so it's unwise to do in dungeons or in the wilderness, where you might have to engage in combat, but when you're tooling around in a city, feel free to jump the night away and improve your Acrobatics with minimal effort. (Your Fatigue loss may affect your ability to Persuade, though, so be wary of that.)

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceCannot attack while jumping or falling.
ApprenticeCan make normal attacks while jumping or falling.
JourneymanGains the ability to Dodge blows (if you fight Scamps, you'll see them do this a lot).
Expert Fatigue loss for jumping reduced by 50%.
MasterGains the ability to jump across the surface of water. Just like in Remo Williams!

Light Armor

Relevant Attribute: Speed
Low Trainers: Olfand, Nord Winds, Bruma; Dul gro-Shug, Elven Gardens District
Medium Trainers: Luciana Galena, Bravil; Ahdarji, Leyawiin
High Trainer: J'Bari, Leyawiin

Your Light Armor skill increases the amount of protection you gain when you wear Fur, Leather, Chainmail, Mithril, Elven, and Glass armor. The only way to increase your Light Armor skill is to get hit by something while wearing it, so this is a skill that will naturally increase as you engage in firefights. Since you'll likely want to get this as high as possible to take advantage of the added defense, this is a good selection as a Major Skill for most thieve or stealthy characters. It'll still go up fairly slowly, but if you want it to increase, you can always let a Mud Crab or Rat hit away at you while using a low-level Restoration skill to restore your health.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceLight armor degrades at 150% of the normal rate.
ApprenticeLight armor degrades at a normal rate.
JourneymanLight armor degrades at 50% of the normal rate.
Expert Light armor doesn't encumber the user.
MasterIf all of your armor is Light Armor, you gain a 50% bonus to your overall armor rating.


Relevant Attribute: Agility
Low Trainers: Edla Dark-Heart, Bruma (Regner's house); Shameer, Skingrad
Medium Trainers: Reman Broder, Skingrad; Pinarus Inventius, Anvil
High Trainer: Alawen, campgrounds east of Anvil

Oh, yeah...venison for dinner again.

Marksman is the skill that determines the amount of damage you're capable of dealing with bows. As you increase your skill level here, you'll unlock new abilities to use with your bow, such as the handy zoom mode. The biggest benefit, though, will be the simple addition of damage, so keep using your bows to increase your skill and look for bigger and better bows. Like weapons, bows can come with damage-causing enchantments, or can be given them via Sigil Stones or enchantment altars.

If you're at all decent at Sneaking, then you should always try to approach your target in sneak mode before letting loose your first arrow. Doing so will let you take advantage of the 2x or 3x multiplier that you get from sneaking. Just be sure to stand up when the battle is joined, or you'll fire much more slowly than you would otherwise.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceTake fatigue damage while holding back a drawn bow.
ApprenticeTakes no fatigue while holding back a drawn bow.
JourneymanCan zoom in on targets by holding Block while bow is drawn.
Expert Gains a chance to knock down an enemy with successful arrow shot.
MasterGains a chance to paralyze a target with successful shots.


Relevant Attribute: Personality
Low Trainers: Mach-Na, Cheydinhal; Foroch, Gottshaw Inn northwest of Kvatch
Medium Trainers: Seed-Neeus, Northern Goods & Trade in Chorrol; Margarte, Leyawiin
High Trainer: Palonirya, Divine Elegance shop in Imperial Market District

The Mercantile ability affects the price that you get from vendors when you attempt to either sell to or buy from them. The higher your Mercantile score, the better the prices that you'll be able to negotiate.

In order to increase your Mercantile score, you'll have to use the Haggle mechanic while in the shopkeeper interface. When you haggle, you'll be able to continually attempt to rachet up your selling price for items sold to the merchant. Each time you sell an item at above market price, you'll gain a small amount to your Mercantile score. It's possible to attempt to sell an item for too much cash, though, in which case the merchant will reject your offer and become slightly less favorable to your future offers.

The thing you want to do here is grab a huge stack of something cheap of disposable and attempt to sell them one by one. Arrows are perfect for this, since you'll often find a bunch of them in dungeon crawls, and they don't weigh very much. When you have a large amount of them, find a merchant and start selling them one by one, increasing your haggling percentage by two or three points after each sale. When they reject your first offer, knock your percentage down by two points and start selling selling selling!

Each time you sell an individual item, your Mercantile skill will gain a small increase. Thus, the best way to get big increases in your Mercantile skill are to get huge amounts of arrows and sell them one by one. (Selling them as one stack counts as one transaction for Mercantilism's purposes.) It's laborious, sure, but it works. Since iron arrows are dirt cheap, you can sell a huge stack of them, buy them back, then repeat the process as often as you like to increase your Mercantile score.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceValue of sold items is affected by the condition of the item.
ApprenticeCondition no longer affects value of items.
JourneymanCan buy and sell any kind of item to any vendor.
Expert Can invest in a shop, permanently raising that vendor's cash amount by 500 gold.
MasterAll shops in the world increase their maximum purchase price by 500 gold.


Relevant Attribute: Agility
Low Trainers: Malintus Ancrus, Chorrol; Samuel Bantien, Talos Plaza District
Medium Trainers: Mandil, Othrelos' house in Elven Gardens District; Dro'Shanji, Bravil
High Trainer: J'baana, imprisoned in Imperial Prison District

Once you get the Daedric lockpick, your Security skill becomes almost irrelevant.

Security denotes your character's proficiency at picking locks. Locks in Oblivion are represented by a mini-game, wherein you have to attempt to pick the lock with a flimsy pick by flipping the tumblers within. If you don't flip a tumbler correctly, though, you'll break your pick and will likely wind up resetting a few of the lock's tumblers. Locks are rated anywhere from very easy (one tumbler) to very hard (five tumblers).

In order to flip a tumbler, you have to first tap it upwards with your pick, then hit another button to snap it into place as it hits the top of the lock. Each tumbler, when lifted, will either move up swiftly or slowly. What you want to do when attempting to pick a lock is keep tapping the tumbler over and over again until you notice it taking the slowest path upwards; when it just hits the top of the lock, tap the button to snap it into place, and it should remain in position, allowing you to move onto the next tumbler. If you attempt to lock it when the tumbler is moving too fast, you'll usually snap your lockpick and drop a few of the tumblers, requiring you to start over from near the beginning of the lock, depending on your skill level.

As you increase your skill in security, tumblers will rotate more slowly, making them much more easy to snap into place, and fewer tumblers will drop if you do happen to screw one of them up. Note that, at level 10, an item becomes available through one of the Daedric quests that makes lockpicking much, much easier; it's worth seeking out as soon as you hit that milestone.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceAs many as four tumblers fall when a pick is broken.
ApprenticeAs many as three tumblers fall when a pick is broken.
JourneymanAs many as two tumblers fall when a pick is broken.
Expert As many as one tumblers fall when a pick is broken.
MasterNo tumblers fall when a pick is broken.


Relevant Attribute: Personality
Low Trainers: Alga, Bruma (Honmund's house); Uravasa Othelas, Bravil's Chapel
Medium Trainers: Varon Vamori, Bravil; Gruiand Garrana, Cheydinhal's Chapel
High Trainer: Tandilwe, Temple of the One, Imperial City Temple District

Speechcraft denotes your character's ability to persuade and influence other NPCs through the Persuasion interface. With a high Speechcraft score, most characters will respond more favorably to you in conversation, and you'll have a better chance of increasing their disposition towards you when attempting to Persuade them, and you'll be able to raise their disposition higher than a character with a low Speechcraft score.

In order to raise your Speechcraft, you just have to attempt to use the Persuasion mini-game as often as you can. Even getting negative results will raise your skill in Speechcraft, so try to take the time to Persuade anyone you meet that offers you the opportunity to do so, even if they're just an average joe that doesn't have anything important to tell you.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceCan offer bribes to most characters to increase Disposition.
ApprenticeOnce per Persuasion, can rotate wedges without selecting a response.
JourneymanDisposition decays 50% slower during Persuasion minigame.
Expert Disposition loss from most negative reaction in Persuasion reduced from 150% to 100%.
MasterCost of bribes cut in half.


Relevant Attribute: Agility Low Trainers: Glistel, in Malintus Ancrus' House in Chorrol; City-Swimmer, Bravil Medium Trainers: Othrelos, Elven Gardens District; Mirabelle Money, Anvel Waterfront (Fo'c's'le) High Trainer: Marana Rian, Temple District

Sneak is going to be a critical skill for stealth characters. With a high Sneak skill, you'll be able to avoid combat, deal massive damage to enemies before they're aware of your presence, and make your way into heavily-guarded areas. Sneaking won't turn you invisible, but if you can remain undetected, then you'll gain some large advantages in combat.

It's dark and I've got Chameleon on. Even these ghosts won't be able to detect me! Heck, even I can't detect me.

To sneak, enter sneak mode, and your primary cursor will be ringed with an eye icon. While the eye icon is bright, someone is either watching you or is aware of your presence; if it's greyed-out, though, you can rest assured that you're temporarily undetected. Remaining that way requires you to stay out of your enemy's line of sight (which doesn't necessarily mean that you have to stand behind them all the time) and to stay quiet. The amount of noise you make depends on the weight of the boots that you're wearing and how fast you're moving. Wearing heavy armor boots while attempting to run while Sneaking will let people hear you from a good distance away, while walking slowly while wearing light armor boots or (preferably) no boots at all will let you make much less noise. You should also stick to the shadows whenever possible, as the amount of light cast on you will directly affect the chance that your enemies will detect you. Invisibility or a Chameleon effect will likewise greatly reduce the chances of detection.

Mastery LevelAbility
NoviceWhen undetected in Sneak mode, one-handed and hand-to-hand attacks deal 4x damage, bow attacks deal 2x damage.
ApprenticeWhen undetected in Sneak mode, one-handed and hand-to-hand attacks deal 6x damage, bow attacks deal 3x damage.
JourneymanNo penalty to detection chance when wearing boots.
Expert No penalty to detection chance for moving while in Sneak mode.
MasterOpponent is considered to have no armor when struck while undetected and in Sneak mode.

Character Creation and Levelling Up

One of the most unique aspects of Oblivion is the way it handles experience and levels. While in most RPGs, you want to level up as quickly as possible to gain an advantage over your enemies, that's not always going to be the case in Oblivion. In fact, the game can become quite difficult if you simply attempt to level up as quickly as possible, because of one simple fact: as you level up, so do your enemies.

Levelling Effects

Here's a small list of things that are affected when you level up. There are probably more effects than these, but these are the important ones.

  • Enemies increase in level. You'll run into harder enemies the higher level you are, with better spells and equipment and more health. Their skills will increase as well, so Sneaking and Speechcraft will become more difficult if you don't consistently improve these skills between levels.
  • Loot and treasure is better quality. At level one, it'll be difficult to find magical items, but they become more common as you level up.
  • Quest rewards are increased in quality. If you complete a quest at level five in one game, then play again and complete it at level 15, you'll get better quest rewards for the same quest. (Although some quests, like the Daedric quests, have rewards that are always the same.)
  • Locks on chests and doors become more difficult. A door that had a two-tumbler lock at level five might wind up having five at level fifteen.

The biggest effect, though, is the effect that levelling has on your foes. If you charge through the game's main storyline and attempt to gain levels as quickly as possible, you'll probably start encountering enemies that are going to be very tough to beat. You can still level up quickly if you wish, but it's more important to level up smartly.

How Levelling Works

When you create a character in Oblivion, you choose a class (or create one) that has seven skills as Major Skills. These skills, when improved, cause your character to gain levels. You can contrast this to the system in most games, where you have to run around and kill monsters to gain experience, which then causes you to level up; in Oblivion, it's not who you kill that matters, it's what you do. (Although what you do will probably still involve killing a whole mess of enemies.)

Constant use of your Major Skills, such as Blunt and Heavy Armor, which are about to get a workout in this screenshot, will cause you to level more quickly.

Anyway, so you have these seven Major Skills. In order to gain one level, you need to increase them by ten points total, spread out through any number of the skills. Let's say that you're a warrior character, and thus you have Heavy Armor, Blunt, and Block as Major Skills, along with a few others. If you increase Heavy Armor by ten points, then you'll gain a level; if you increase Blunt and Block five points each, then you'll also gain a level, and so on. Note that, unlike Morrowind, your Minor Skills have no impact on the rate at which you level, no matter how much you raise them between levels.

The crux of the matter here is that increasing your skills also allows you to raise your attributes when you level up. When you rest and level, you'll be given the opportunity to raise your attributes by anything from one to five points. The number of points by which you can increase an attribute depends on how many points you increased the skills that relate to that attribute.

Skill Points Gained in Skills Related to an AttributeNumber of Points You Can Raise the Attribute At Level-Up

Obtaining Maximum Attribute Points at Level-up

Now, here's where things get kind of complicated. Although raising your Minor Skills doesn't count towards your levelling rate, it does count towards the attribute gain you can add when you level up. The best way to explain this is through an example, or perhaps multiple examples.

Let's suppose that you wanted to raise your Strength attribute by five points at your next level-up. The related attributes for Strength are Blunt, Blade, and Hand-To-Hand. In order to get the full five points at your next level up, then, you'll have to increase those three skills by a combined ten points. This can be done in a number of ways, obviously; if you're focusing on bladed weapons, then you can increase Blade by ten points, or you can spread those ten points out between all three skills.

Note that this is true regardless of whether your Blunt, Blade, and Hand-To-Hand skills are Major or Minor skills or a combination of both. Even a pure wizard can raise his or her Strength by five points at each level-up if they devote enough time to raising these skills. Strength is more important for warriors, though, who'll want to make sure that they manage to get four or five points added to it at each level up. The balance you have to strike here is between having levelling up rapidly, which occurs when you consistently use all of your Major Skills quite often, and gaining large attribute bonuses, which occurs when you slow down your levelling and spread out your skill point increases.

Things become even more complicated when you consider that most characters will have at least two attributes that they'll want to increase at each level up: wizards will be focusing on Intelligence and Willpower; thieves on Agility and Speed; and warriors on Strength and Endurance. If you're going to try and increase both of these attributes by a full five points each, that means you'll have to increase the relevant skills by 20 points. Since you can only increase your Major Skills by 10 points between each level-up, that means at least some of those skills are going to have to be Minor Skills.

Power-Levelling In Action

We're going to give you an example of how all this comes together, drawn from our warrior character. His Major Skills were Blade, Heavy Armor, Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Mercantile, and Security. His two favored attributes were Strength and Endurance.

With a little effort and some slow leveling, you can consistently raise your major attributes by five points at each level-up.

The basic process to increase both of these attributes by five points per level went something like this. We almost never used bladed weapons at all, preferring to stick to blunt weapons. For long portions of the game, we used a two-handed mace weapon, switching to Hand-To-Hand combat for weaker enemies. Thus, for our Strength attribute, we used Minor skills exclusively to increase it, with Blade seeing occasional use when we found powerful swords. Since we were attempting to level up slowly, though, the fact that Blunt and Hand-To-Hand didn't count towards increasing our level made them preferable, and it wasn't difficult to get at least eight or ten points in both of them between each level, allowing us to consistently raise our Strength by four or five points.

Endurance was a bit easier, since Armorer was a Minor Skill. Even though Minor Skills increase a bit more slowly than Major Skills do, if you use something as often as you do the Armorer skill, you're going to be increasing it naturally quite a bit. Heavy Armor also went up fairly quickly as a Major Skill, since we almost always used heavy armor and took quite a bit of damage in melee combat. It didn't go up so rapidly that we thought we were levelling up too quickly, though. Block is the third Endurance skill, and as a Minor Skill, we could use it as often as we liked to without worrying about levelling up because of it.

The rest of the Major Skills that we chose were either never used (such as the magical skills; we still used Illusion for things like Light and Mysticism for Soul Trap) or were used to let us gradually gain points towards the next level, without going too fast, as in the case of Mercantile and Security.

With a smooth levelling curve, you won't have to be frightened the first time you see a Frost Atronach. Well, ok, maybe not AS frightened...

So, in our experience, if you want to level up quickly, you can add all of the skills that you want to use most often to your Major Skill category, but the drawback to this is that you won't be able to raise your attributes as high when you do level up. If you don't mind levelling up a bit more slowly, you can shift your most-used skills into your Minor Skills selection, increase them between each level-up, and gain four or five points in your primary attributes each time you level. Doing so will keep you fairly strong in relation to your enemies as you proceed through the game.


Keep in mind that each of your attributes is capped at 100, so if you increase your levels slowly but with high attribute additions at each level-up, you'll probably cap out an attribute or two at around level 10. After this point, you'll still be able to increase your skills (and they'll still count towards your levelling-up if they're Major Skills), but you won't be able to add to the attributes that they relate to. At this point, you might find it enjoyable to focus on some of your other minor skills and attempt to start playing around with magic or thieving abilities, or learn how to use a bow, or something like that, if only to start gaining higher additions to attributes that you've been neglecting.

Also note that levelling slowly will mean that you won't find much magical loot until you hit level three or so. Still, if you've off-loaded your most-used abilities into your Minor Skills category, you should be able to raise them enough to make yourself much more powerful than the foes you face. For instance, a Blade specialist can get through much of the early game and reach Cloud Ruler Temple while still at level one, and use the Akaviri Katana to cut through the bulk of the enemies you face for the next few hours of gameplay. Spellcasters can likewise advance through the ranks of their chosen professions, with the only limitation being the amount of magicka available to them. It's not unheard of for casters at level two or three to become capable of summoning Dremoras to do their fighting for them.

Character Archetypes

Most of these character archetypes are just suggestions; one of the joys of Oblivion is making a custom character and seeing how they work. Generally speaking, these characters are designed to allow you to control the speed at which you level by shifting back and forth from your Major Skills to your Minor Skills as you play. In most cases, though, your primary damage-dealing skills will be Minor Skills, which will allow you to rank them up so that you can add five points to each of your primary attributes when you level up. See our Character Creation and Leveling Up section for more details on this theory - suffice to say it's not something that everyone will agree on. If you want your character to level up more quickly, then pack his or her Major Skills with things that you're going to be using all of the time. The benefit of quicker leveling is that you'll get better equipment and magical items more quickly; the drawback is that it'll take longer to maximize your attribute scores.

Thus, in our opinion, it's best to have a couple of Major Skills that you use constantly, a couple that are used with less frequency, and a couple that are rarely used at all. This will let you level up at a modest pace, but allow you to hopefully maximize the number of points that you put into your attributes when you do level up. If this all sounds complicated, then you're not alone: Oblivion's skill and leveling system is a bit intricate, and penalizes you somewhat for leveling up too quickly. If you level up fast, the enemies that you face will get tougher and tougher, and you won't be able to increase your attributes quickly enough to keep pace in most instances.

Anyway, there isn't a "perfect build" in Oblivion - there's only what you enjoy playing. On the flipside, it is possible to create a character that's spectacularly ill-suited to your play style, but with a little work you can make something that's enjoyable and powerful at the same time.

Note About Stealth Characters

There's nothing wrong with making a stealthy character from the outset of the game, but it's worth noting that it's far easier for a warrior or a mage to obtain a good degree of proficiency in Sneak and Security (arguably the two centerpiece skills of a good thief) later in the game than it is for a stealth-oriented character to suddenly decide to start throwing spells or going toe-to-toe with a two-handed weapon.

Even characters that have been straightforward warriors for most of the game can become excellent stealth characters later on.

This is mostly due to the fact that there are an awful lot of ways in the game to add to your Sneak skill (the Ring of Khajiiti, the Dark Brotherhood light armor and robes, vampirism) and Security skill (Skeleton Key), but also due to the fact that adapting to a stealth-oriented style of gameplay requires few equipment changes beyond the ones listed above for other types of characters. Warriors can continue to wear heavy armor while they sneak around, so long as they have the Ring of Khajiiti on, and will still have a good chance of remaining undetected. Obtaining the Skeleton Key makes any lock in the game surpassable by simply hitting the auto-attempt key over and over again, since it can't break.

So if you want to play as a thief or a stealthy assassin, feel free to do so, but keep in mind that your character might have a little more versatility if you start out as a warrior or mage and then shift over to sneaking around later on.

Fast-Leveling Mage

Race: Male High Elf
Birthsign: Mage (or Apprentice for extra dangerous action!)
Specialization: Magic
Favored Attributes: Intelligence, Willpower

Major Skills

  • Illusion
  • Destruction
  • Conjuration
  • Restoration
  • Security
  • Mercantile
  • Alchemy

You're going to be leveling up rapidly with this build, especially if you play around with Alchemy too much. Alchemy, Conjuration, and Mysticism will all cause you to gain a bunch of Intelligence when you level up, but if you want to increase both Intelligence and Willpower, be sure to constantly cast low-level Restoration or Alteration spells on yourself. Alteration is left as a minor skill to ensure that you'll be able to increase it for the purposes of extra Willpower at level-ups; just cast some Novice-level Shield spell over and over again so that you gain a few levels in it between each level, and your skillups in Restoration and Destruction should be able to get you up the rest of the way.

Be careful with Alchemy here, as going to fast with it can cause you to level too quickly. You'll gain a bunch of Intelligence at each level-up here, but making too many potions in a short period of time will make it difficult to gain Willpower when you level-up. It's best to wait until you're two or three points away from leveling, then return to your storehouse, grab all of your ingredients from your storage chest, then make a bunch of potions until you level up.

Slow-Leveling Pure Warrior

Race: Male Nord, Redguard, or Orc
Birthsign: Warrior (+10 Strength and Endurance)
Specialization: Combat
Favored Attributes: Strength, Endurance

Major Skills

  • Blunt (or Blade)
  • Conjuration
  • Heavy Armor
  • Block
  • Security
  • Mercantile
  • Speechcraft

This is a pure melee warrior class, with the intent to rush up on your foes and bash them in the head. The goal here is to level up slowly, so pick either Blade or Blunt as your Major skill, but pick the one that you don't want to use most often. If you pick Blade as a major skill, use blunt weapons for most of the game. That'll let you skill it up a lot between levels (since increasing that skill won't contribute towards advancing towards your next level), which in turn will let you add a lot to your Strength score when you hit a new level.

Of the rest of these skills, Heavy Armor will be in constant use, but increases at a fairly moderate pace itself. Between it, Block, and Armorer (which starts off low but will rapidly gain points as you use it), you shouldn't have a problem adding a lot of Endurance to your character at low levels, when it's most important to do so. (Endurance added at higher levels doesn't retroactively add to your health.)

Conjuration, Security, Mercantile, and Speechcraft are all examples of skills that will advance fairly slowly, to ensure that you don't level up before you have a chance to gain at least a +4 or +5 modifier to your Strength and Endurance at each of your early level-ups. (With that said, feel free to trade them out for other skills you think you might find more useful.) After you manage to max out Strength and Endurance (which should occur around level 10), you can become a bit more freeform and start working on your minor skills, such as spellcasting or stealth.

Stealth should be easier to increase later on in the game, thanks to items like the Ring of Khajiiti and the light armor given to you in the Dark Brotherhood initiation. This character will always be deficient in magicka, barring something like a backup set of clothes enchanted with Intelligence bonuses, but if you use Conjuration enough and pair it with a dabbling in Alchemy, you should eventually be adding five points of Intelligence at each level up, after you've maxed out Strength and Endurance.

Thief With Magical Support

Race: Male Khajiit Birthsign: Mage Specialization: Stealth Favored Attributes: Agility, Intelligence

Major Skills

  • Sneak
  • Conjuration
  • Light Armor
  • Blade
  • Illusion
  • Destruction
  • Security

A good variety of skills to supplement your chosen attributes. With a combination of Sneak and Illusion, you should be a master of disguise fairly early in the game, and be able to sneak past enemies that would otherwise be difficult to kill, which is a good thing, since you won't be capable of dealing supreme amounts of physical damage, even if you do practice with your Blade skill. You'll be able to Conjure up a Bound Dagger whenever you need a little extra oomph in combat, though, at least until you start finding magical weapons. You'll also be able to create distractions with summoned creatures, which will let you get your attacks in while your enemies hopefully go after your pets.

The Destruction magic here should be used as a followup to your opening sneak attacks. You may have a hard time increasing your Willpower enough to increase the efficacy of the spells, so be sure to pack low-level Alteration or Restoration spells and cast them repeatedly so that you can increase your Willpower when you level up.

Note that you can also replace Blade with Marksman if you so choose. That could fit in with your Conjuration skill, as well, as you summon in enemies to distract your foes while pelting them with arrows.

Combat Tips

One of the less subtler ways to get through a game of Oblivion is as a melee-focused warrior with high Strength and Endurance. Although you'll run into some scraps now and again, the large health reserves and high armor rating you'll have will allow you to go toe-to-toe with multiple enemies without taking much damage, especially as you start wrapping together that set of Daedric armor when you hit level 20.

Luckily for everyone concerned, the awkward missing-a-dude-from-a-foot-away combat system from Morrowind is gone, replaced by a much more sensible combat system that will allow you to hit an opponent every time you swing at them, assuming you're close enough to do so. So even a lowly mage will be able to hit his or her opponent with an axe...but in order to actually deal damage, you'll need to have a lot of Strength and a high skill ranking with the weapon that you're using.

Two-Hand or Not Two-Hand

Personal preferences aside, we'll come out and make a recommendation: you're generally going to be better off with a one-handed weapon and a shield than you will be with a two-handed weapon. The reasons for this are multiple.

First off, although two-handed weapons generally deal more damage than one-handed weapons do, and have a slightly longer reach, they're also slower and drain more fatigue when swung. If you have to fight a couple of enemies back to back, you're going to be in danger of running out of fatigue, which will reduce the amount of damage you do and also have you run the risk of getting knocked down, which is always humiliating.

Secondly, you're going to lose out on the armor bonus given to you by shields when you wield a two-handed weapon. Shields are generally going to have a higher boost to your armor than any other piece of armor from the same set, including the cuirass, all other things being equal, so the loss of armor here is substantial. Note that this armor increase is constant; you don't necessarily have to actually block with the shield to get it, just have it equipped. The loss of a shield is also the loss of another enchantable piece of equipment, which, by the time you're finding Grand Soul Gems with Grand souls in them, means that you're basically missing the chance to gain a 10-point bonus to one of your attributes, like strength.

The ability to sneak attack with one-handed weapons make them all but indispensable for most characters.

Lastly, you can't sneak attack with two-handed weapons. (Technically, you can, but you only get a 1x damage multiplier.) That alone is pretty killer, unless you're role-playing a foolhardy Orc that can't wrap his or her head around the concept of stealthy play. Even characters that don't start out practicing their stealth can still get back in the game with a little practice, and by the time you're level 10 or so, you can start finding equipment that makes sneaking much easier. Getting a six times damage bonus from a sneak attack more than eliminates the difference in damage between a one-handed and two-handed weapon, and you'll rack up your fair share of one-shot kills, as well, especially when dealing with necromancers and conjurers, letting you get past your opponents without causing a ruckus.

We're not saying that you should never use a two-handed weapon; they can be fun to play around with. In our opinion, though, the slight damage disadvantage of a one-handed weapon is more than offset by the advantages outlined above.

What About Hand To Hand?

Hand to Hand is an amusing option, but one that won't be able to really match the choice of either one-handed or two-handed weapons, in our opinion. If you want to add a little more challenge to the game, then it might be worth attempting to max out your hand-to-hand skill and take your James T. Kirk fighting skills to the wicked Dremora, but you're going to be losing out on a lot of advantages when you specialize in hand to hand, such as the armor bonus given by your shield, the ability to poison your weapon, and the ability to enchant both your shield and your weapon.

We're not saying that hand-to-hand is a nonviable choice, but you're going to have to give up a lot in order to make it work. Spellcasters or stealthy characters probably won't have the strength to really make it viable, but pure warriors might find it fun to try out. It's also noticeable for having an awesome sneak attack animation, especially when you land a one-hit kill.

Magical Weapons

As you progress in level, you're going to start finding magical weapons in the game world and as quest rewards, as well as become able to make them yourself with the Altar of Enchanting in the Mages Guild (which every warrior should gain access to, no matter what) or via the Sigil Stones you obtain in the Plane of Oblivion. There are a number of different effects that you can obtain on magical weapons, with the following being some of the most important to look for.

Fire, Ice, Shock Damage: You can obtain weapons that deal anywhere from five to 25 magical damage per strike, with the highest ranks becoming available in Sigil Stones from Oblivion after you reach level 17. Although you'll have to recharge these fairly often, it's still worth having one on your character at all times. Just remember that most undead creatures, as well as trolls, are weak to fire, while Dremora are weak to shock damage.

Damage Health: A more direct kind of enchantment, and one that occurs only rarely, although you can make it with the Altar of Enchantment in the Mages Guild. A good basic choice for an enchanted weapon, since it'll work equally well against enemies that have resistances to elemental damage.

Umbra does a supreme amount of damage, besides having a Soul Trap enchantment.

Soul Trap: If your magicka reserves are absolutely pitiful, then enchanting a weapon with Soul Trap can help you safely and securely trap some souls. Just place it on a powerful weapon, use it as a sneak attacking weapon, then switch to your elemental damage or Damage Health weapons to kill your foes before the timer wears off.

Silence: Having a weapon capable of silencing your foes is incredibly useful. When you're able to enchant something with this, do it, but be sure the silence effect lasts at least ten seconds, if possible. When used on spellcasting enemies, such as necromancers and conjurers, they'll often have no recourse but to draw their little daggers or maces and run towards you, where you'll (usually) easily overpower them. Our warrior character benefitted greatly by having this on a bow; you just plink a spellcaster and all they can do is charge in, where they're drastically overmatched. If they have a staff or scrolls, however, they'll usually use them before attacking you.

Paralyze: One of the rarest weapon enchantments, and one of the most expensive in terms of number of uses and charges - you shouldn't expect a weapon to be capable of doing more than a few seconds of paralyzation, and you'll have to recharge it frequently, even for that. Still, paralyzation is an often hilarious effect to pass on to your target, not to mention useful.

Weakness to Fire, Ice, Shock: A Destruction-oriented spellcaster might want to indulge him or herself and enchant a bow with this enchantment. Tailor it to match your favorite spell; if you've made a huge fireball spell, enchant a bow with 50% Weakness to Fire with a 20 second duration, and you should find your enemies dropping with much less magicka expended on your part.

Finding Armor

Unfortunately for heavy armor wearers, most of the enemies you'll be encountering in the game will either be Bandits, who wear light armor, or Necromancers and Conjurers, who don't wear any armor at all. When you reach a level where new armor starts to drop (generally at the first, fourth, eighth, twelfth, sixteenth, and twentieth), it can be a pain to try and track it down, unless you know where to look.

And where might that be? Well, what you're looking for are Marauders. (Or vampires, to a certain extent, but they won't all be wearing heavy armor, and will infect you with prophyric hemophilia to boot.) Unfortunately, Marauders are pretty rare and don't show up in many dungeons.

Of course, they do show up in some dungeons. For a short jaunt through a Marauder camp, you can head to Fort Blueblood to the southeast of Leyawiin, near the "B" in the word "Blackwood" on your map. This is a pretty quick jaunt, and doesn't feature a boss-level Marauder (who usually has the best items and armor on his or her person), but you should be able to find plenty of armor to suit your needs.

If you just hit one of your fourth levels, though, you're probably going to find it helpful to visit the Infested Mine, up to the southwest of the "The" in "The Colovian Highlands" on your map, which is itself to the west of Chorrol. This three-level dungeon is large, but there is indeed a boss-level enemy on the third level, who'll usually be wearing at least one piece of equipment from the latest set of armor goods as well as a magical item or two.

Stealth Tips

A stealthy approach to the game's dungeons and battlefields will let you sneak attack opponents, pick their pockets, or avoid them entirely. While advancing in the arts of the thief will slow your progress a bit (because sneaking around is slower than running), you'll be able to use it to compensate for the overall lower melee damage that you'll likely be dealing due to the fact that you've been working on stealth skills instead of your combat or magical skills.

That said, almost anyone can take advantage of sneaking to deal extra damage, especially when you factor in equipment bonuses.

To Sneak

The basic thief skill is Sneak, which allows you to move around in the game world while remaining hidden from the prying eyes of guards and enemies. When you enter sneak mode, a golden eye will appear around your cursor. Most of the time this will be a bright gold color, which indicates that someone can see you or is otherwise aware of your presence. Your goal is to become hidden, which will turn the icon a translucent grey color.

The point of sneaking? If you stay hidden, then there are all kinds of things that you can do that would otherwise land you in jail or get a pack of guards on your butt. You'll be able to steal items from under the nose of a shopkeeper, pickpocket a guard to nab a key, tresspass through sensitive parts of a castle, or deal huge amounts of damage with a sneak attack.

With a high enough Sneak skill, you'll be able to hide in plain sight.

That said, in order to sneak well, you need to know what factors take part in whether or not a nearby person can see you or otherwise detect you. In no particular order...

Sneak Skill: All characters and creatures in the game have their own Sneak skill ranking, which goes up as they increase in level. (Which, in turn, means that it goes up as you level.) If an enemy has a higher Sneak skill than you do, it'll be more difficult to bypass them or sneak up on them.

Movement Speed: The faster you move, the easier it'll be for enemies to detect you. On the 360, you can move slowly by gently tilting the analog stick.

Light: The more light that's falling on you, the harder it'll be for you to stay out of sight. Keep to the shadows if you want to remain hidden, put away your torches, take off that Light-enchanted ring, etc. Also note that most spells will result in a temporary burst of light when cast, so be careful not to cast them while someone's looking at you. Enemy Line Of Sight: If the enemy you're trying to sneak up on is looking in your direction, you'll have a harder time getting close to them undetected than if you were to approach from their rear.

Weight of Boots: You can sneak in any kind of armor, from regular clothing to heavy armor. However, the heavier your boots are, the more noise you'll make when you move. It's best to go without shoes until you hit Journeyman in Sneak, which eliminates this penalty.

Invisibility: If you have an active Invisibility effect on you, then sneaking is almost child's play, since no one will be able to see you. You'll still make noise, however, which will allow enemies with high Sneak skills to detect you and attack. Even if they don't detect you, you'll lose your Invisibility as soon as you interact with an object or attempt to make an attack, so this is at best a temporary boost.

Chameleon: Chameleon is essentially a less effective form of Invisibility, with differing percentages indicating precisely how concealed you are. The reason it winds up being better than Invisibility is that it doesn't go away when you interact or attack someone; it's more or less permanent until its duration ends. Thus, if you can find a ring enchanted with Chameleon (say, through the Daedric quest for Meridia), you can keep it on for a large bonus to your sneaking abilities.

Bold-Faced Thievery

Sneaking is more or less required to commit most of the crimes available in the game, such as lockpicking, tresspassing, and theft. At heart, if you commit a crime while in Sneak mode, it essentially didn't happen.

For instance, if you're inside someone's home and see a locked chest with a red bag icon, attempting to pick the lock while someone's watching you will ensure that you're met by a guard and hauled off to jail, probably before you're even able to leave the house, regardless of whether you actually took anything out of the chest or not. If, however, you're successfully in Sneak mode (i.e. the icon is grayed out), you'll be able to pick the lock and loot the chest without any ill effects. The same goes for grabbing loose items on tables and shelves.

Thus, masters of Sneaking will have a large number of homes and shops to burglarize and loot, whereas characters that haven't boned up on their Sneaking ability will find themselves getting followed around in shops and homes when they make their presence known to the inhabitants. Low-Sneak characters will also have a harder time creeping around sleeping characters, who are more likely to be awoken by the noise made by a poor Sneaker.

Cleaning The Place Out

If you see a shiny object in a store or home that you just have to have, but can't quite afford, you can always attempt to steal it. The problem will usually be the pesky fact that the law kind of frowns on thievery. If you so much as grab an item that doesn't belong you to, anyone who sees you do so will immediately call for the guards.

In private residences, this problem can often be countered simply by getting away from any prying eyes before sneaking. Heck, if you can get a solid door between yourself and the people who live in the home, then you probably won't even need to enter sneak mode; just steal away. In shops, though, most shopkeepers will follow you around and attempt to keep you within line of sight, making thievery a difficult proposition at best.

If your hand icon is red when you're hovering over an item, you'll be charged with a crime if anyone sees you.

The solution? Enter in the middle of the night. It's much easier to sneak around people if they're unconscious when you do it, and most shopkeepers will be well away from their goods when they're sleeping, since they'll usually sleep in closed bedrooms upstairs. If you can pick the lock from the street without being spotted by a guard (which, in all fairness, is often difficult; these are heavy-duty locks), then you should have the run of the place and won't have to worry about getting detected. Best of all, sneaking around while someone is asleep nearby will still help you increase your Sneak ability.

Just be sure to enter between midnight and six o'clock in the morning. Most civilians in the world will be sound asleep during these hours. Although most shops don't open until nine o'clock, many shopkeepers will be up and awake for a couple of hours before the doors are unlocked.

Telekinesis: A Thief's Friend

The Telekinesis spell and its variants are accessible early on, and will be helpful in your efforts to rob people blind without getting caught. Although taking items into your inventory is a crime, as is "grabbing" a red item and moving it around, telekinesis isn't considered a criminal act. With a little finesse, you can use it to move valuable items out of the line of sight of their owners, then steal them when they can't see you.

For instance, if you spot a rare reagant or an emerald necklace on a shelf near a citizen, you can pick it up with telekinesis, move it to another room, then nab it out of the air when no one's looking. The process is a bit trickier with shopkeepers, who'll follow you around their shops in an effort to keep you in sight. If you pick up an item with Telekinesis, though, you should be able to run around a corner fast enough to get out of their sight for a second or two and let you grab the item you want without having to pay for it.

Sneak Attacking

When you attack while remaining in Sneak mode, two things happen: your attacks do a great deal more damage then they normally would, but also occur much more slowly. Still, with a high enough Sneak skill and a good amount of skill with weapons, you can often either kill an enemy or severely wound them with one powerful blow.

Sneak attacking isn't all that much more difficult than regular Sneaking; if you can get close enough to an enemy to hit them with a bow or a weapon, then you can perform a sneak attack. They're done automatically when you attack from the Sneak position. (Note, however, that only bows and one-handed weapons are capable of sneak attacking; two-handed weapons get no bonus from a sneak attack.) At the lowest level of Sneak proficiency, Novice, you'll get twice as much damage from bow shots and four times as much damage from melee shots; when you hit Apprentice level, those bonuses will increase to three and six times damage, respectively.

Yeah...just your eyes playing tricks on you...don't worry about me and my little sword here....

Note that only the physical damage dealt by the weapon seems to be multiplied; if the weapon you're using is also enchanted with magical damage, that's still applied but doesn't appear to be multiplied. Note also that you're only going to be able to get one sneak attack in on a character. After you hit them the first time, they'll immediately detect your presence and come after you, usually alerting any nearby enemies as well. Of course, if you kill them in one shot, then they'll fall to the floor, and any other nearby foes won't be alerted at all, even if they see the corpse flop around in front of them - they'll only be alerted if they happen to see you. You can also use this to get away with murder; if you manage to kill a civilian in one good shot, they'll keel over dead without having time to call the guards, meaning that you get away with it scot-free.

Alchemy Tips

Ah, alchemy. Although this is only one skill among many in Oblivion, it's one that almost everyone can take advantage of, no matter what your level is, and no matter what your chosen character archetype. It's a great way to make lots of money by selling potions, or to increase your efficacy in combat by producing useful potions and poisons. This chapter is intended to help you get the most out of your alchemical experiments.


It'll take a while for you to get up to Master-level equipment, but as you upgrade, you'll notice your potions getting better and better.

At its root, all you need to perform alchemy is a mortar and pestle (which counts as one item). Real alchemy, however, will require a mortar and pestle, an alembic, a retort, and a calcinator. Alembics reduce negative effects of ingredients on your potions, while retorts and calcinators improve the efficacy of your potions. You don't need all four pieces of the puzzle to make a potion, but they're relatively easy to find, at least in the beginning of the game.

The catch is that there are different levels of equipment, ranging from Novice to Master. Most of the items you'll find in the game world will be Novice equipment, with a few Apprentice pieces here and there. If you want Journeyman equipment or higher, you'll have to find them in loot, usually in boss-level treasure chests deep within dungeons. Since these are randomly generated based on your level, you won't be able to head off to a dungeon at level one and find a set of Master-level alchemy equipment. Note, however, that you can mix and match equipment from different levels without a problem; if you have a set of novice equipment, but find a journeyman mortar and pestle, you can drop your novice mortar and pestle and use the journeyman M&P instead. It'll work just fine with the novice equipment you already have.

If you're looking for a set of novice equipment, join the Mages Guild at any of the local branches at the beginning of the game. This will let you pick up any equipment you find in the guildhalls, which will usually include a full set of alchemical tools. As you level up and want to find more advanced equipment, you can usually check in either a Necromancer-inhabited lair, or in the upper levels of Oblivion plane citadels. The loot is randomized, so it won't always be around, but these are both good places to check for them.

Tip: Fort Linchal, to the north of the "H" in Kvatch on your map, is a good place to poke around in if you're looking for equipment. If you head inside, then take a right at the first fork in your path, you'll head into the Fort Linchal Hall of Knights, where a boss-level Necromancer (and a boss-level chest) will be waiting for you. This is about as quick a trip to a boss chest as you're likely to find in the game, and can be repeated every few days of game time, after the enemies respawn.


Ingredients are everywhere you look in Oblivion: in the towns, out in the wilderness, on the bodies of your enemies, in containers, on people's kitchen tables, etc. For the most part, though, if you want a lot of ingredients, you'll probably have to harvest them from plants in the wilderness. You can find plants all over the place, so just run outside and look! Anything that looks even the least bit out of place or distinct from the usual trees and grasses can probably be harvested. Just run over and point your cursor at the plant, and it'll probably turn into a hand icon. If you get the prompt to activate the plant, attempt to do so.

Whenever you visit a safehouse, be sure to dump your ingredients into one of your treasure chests. Unless you have a huge Strength score, there's no point lugging them around everywhere.

At this point, you'll usually get a message saying that an ingredient has been delivered into your inventory. We say "usually" because it's not guaranteed. Most plants will give you a 20% chance to fail in your harvesting, which will result in you "using up" the plant and not gaining anything, but some plants can have a failure rate of up to 50%. Wisp Stalks and Cairne Bolete mushrooms, both found in caves, have dismal failure rates of around 75%, meaning that you'll only get an ingredient once in every four tries.

Many monsters also have ingredients on their bodies when killed. Rats and crabs will drop their meat for you to harvest, ghosts will drop ectoplasm, vampires will yield dust, and the dreaded Dremora will actually let you pick up their hearts. Mmm-mmm good!

What we usually like to do is have a storage place for all of our ingredients. Doesn't have to be anything fancy. We used the house for sale in the Imperial City (in the slums on the waterfront), which, when upgraded a bit, had three treasure chests to use. Since chests have an unlimited amount of storage space, you can dump all of your ingredients into one of them, along with your alchemical equipment, and come back to it for large potion-making sessions.

Tip: Note that you can increase your Alchemy skill by simply eating the ingredients that you pick up. You'll gain whatever the first effect they have is, and obviously the item will be consumed. This is a good way to make space in your bag if you're about to go overweight, but is less efficient at increasing your skill than making potions is.

In your travels, you're going to be picking up a lot of ingredients; check your encumbrance every so often. When you're about to stop moving because you have so much stuff in your bag, head back to your house and indulge in a little alchemy to convert everything into potions, then sell off the potions you don't actually want or need. Although potions won't initially be worth very much, you're going to be making enough of them to eventually make quite a bit of money off of them when they're sold.

Making Potions

In order to increase your Alchemy skill, you'll want to make as many potions as you possibly can. At low levels of skill, the easiest potions to make are Restore Fatigue potions. Almost every kind of household food, such as onions, bread, lettuce, and so on, will have Restore Fatigue as their first property, allowing you to loot kitchens all across town and convert your proceeds into Restore Fatigue potions. They won't be particularly good potions, but they'll definitely help increase your skill, and you'll be making so many of them that you'll gain a good amount of money from selling them.

You can mix up your ingredients to make some especially deadly poisons, after you have all of the ingredients available to you.

Note that all ingredients that you find will have more than one alchemical property. As you increase your skill in Alchemy, you'll be able to see more of the hidden properties of your potions. At low levels of Alchemy skill, your ingredients basically only have the properties that you can see, so if you want to be able to use a more diverse array of ingredients in your potions, you'll have to rank yourself up, but doing so will help ensure that you'll be able to make the kinds of potions that you want with the ingredients that you actually have. Unlocking more effects will also allow you to use more ingredients in your poisons, adding multiple effects that occur simultaneously.

Note that a lot of ingredients actually have negative effects, such as Damage Health (always popular). Making a potion with a negative effect actually turns it into a poison (which appear in your inventory as green bottles instead of the purplish color of potions). Poisons can't be ingested, so they can't really hurt you. (Some poisons will have both beneficial and harmful effects, though.) Instead, they can be activated in your inventory and applied to a weapon, allowing you to spread the love to the next enemy you hit, giving you a bit more oomph when facing off against boss-level enemies.

What Not To Make

Now, just because you have a huge number of different effects you can make with potions and poisons doesn't necessarily mean that you should be making them. Trying to think too hard about your potions will lead to a cluttered inventory, full of stuff that you will probably never use. Here are some examples of potion possibilities that we never really found to be all that useful.

Burden: Theoretically, you can use this poison to over-encumber an enemy and root them in place. The problem is that most spellcasters will be able to attack from a distance with spells, while many warrior characters will have more strength than they need and thus won't be affected. Go for paralysis instead; it's more difficult to find ingredients for, but will have a much more pronounced effect.

Damage Attribute: While there are plenty of potion combinations that can result in an enemy having their Luck or Speed damaged, in most cases these poisons are going to be all but useless in combat. Most fights will last less than 20 or 30 seconds, meaning that damaging an opponent's Personality score for a few seconds won't make all that big of a difference. Even if the benefits were substantial, most fights won't last long enough for these to really be worthwhile.

Resist: On some occasions, resist potions can be worthwhile. If you know you're going to be going up against a bunch of Flame Atronachs, for instance, a Resist Fire potion might be worth taking. Most of the time, though, the uses are too narrow and too short-lived to be useful. You can take a Resist Disease potion when fighting against vampires, sure, but it wouldn't be guaranteed protection and you'd have to take it again every couple of minutes. Or you could just plan ahead and take a Cure Disease potion at the end of the cave.

Cure Poison: Very few enemies use Damage Health poisons, so stocking up on Cure Poison potions won't do much for you. In general, when you are poisoned, it'll wear off within 30 seconds anyway, so just finish your fight and let it fade away.

Damage Magicka: When you damage an opponent's magicka, you'll be able to drain their ability to cast spells, sometimes for a significant amount of time. You can go this route if you wish, but it's usually better to just be a bit more ornate and create a Silence potion, which you can use at the beginning of a fight to prevent them from casting anything at all. Most spellcasters will draw a weapon and rush you when silenced, meaning that you'll be able to chop them up before the silence effect wears off.

The Weighting Game

Here's a factoid: when making a potion, the weight of the potion bottle is the average weight of all of the ingredients that were put into it. If you make a potion with ingredients weighing 0.1 and 2 pounds, then the resultant potion would weigh one pound apiece.

Now, for most characters, the last thing you're really going to want is to make a bunch of potions that weigh a pound apiece. Spellcasters, especially, won’t have the strength required to lug around a huge number of heavy potions. Thus, it's generally best to look through the table of ingredients available to you and choose the ingredients which weigh the least when making potions, insofar as that's possible. Yeah, that Boar Meat and Daedra Heart potion will restore your health, all right, but each potion will weigh two pounds, whereas a Cairn Bolete Cap and Fly Amanita Cap potion will do the same thing while weighing only 0.1 pounds.

So, generally speaking you're going to want to make all of your potions with ingredients that weight 0.1 or 0.2 pounds, just to keep the resulting potions as lightweight as possible. Luckily, most ingredients are, in fact, this light, with a few exceptions, such as daedra hearts, minotaur horns, clannfear claws, and ogre's teeth. Although some of the heavier reagents might be worth a good amount of money when sold, they're rarely going to be that much more useful than lighter-weight reagants.

Potion and Poison Recipes

Since the number of recipes you'll be able to make will depend on your skill level, we've broken down a few of the more common recipes that you'll be able to construct based on your proficiency at alchemy.


Basically, all you're going to want to be making at Novice level are Restore Fatigue potions. Just steal as much food as you can from people's homes and basements and farms, and whip through as many Restore Fatigue potions as you can make before selling them all. You should be able to get to Apprentice level in no time.

If, however, you want to make some actual potions, here are some ideas.

Restore Health: daedra heart, venison, cairn bolete cap (any two)
Damage Health: harrada + spiddal Stick (Oblivion special), wisp stalk cap, nightshade
Cure Disease: mandrake root + clannfear claws (clannfears won't appear until you're in the low teen levels, though)


With two effects available on most items, the varieties of potions that you'll be able to make will become much more diverse.

Restore Health: New ingredients include aloe vera and ham.
Damage Health: Plenty of new ingredients, including dragon's tongue,
Silence: rice, vampire dust
Cure Disease: mandrake root, clannfear claws, elf cup cap
Night Eye: carrot, daedroth teeth, viper's bugloss


With three effects available, it becomes easier to make multi-function poisons. Mix and match as you like!

Restore Health: The main new ingredient here is fly amanita cap, which grows in almost every city, but especially in the Imperial City. Grab as much as you can, and you'll be making plenty of restore health potions over time.
Damage Health: Common new ingredients are strawberries, scales, and imp gall.
Chameleon: bloodgrass, radish
Fortify Strength: elf cup cap, arrowroot
Paralyze: Daedra venin, clannfear claws
Damage Health + Fire Damage: spiddal stick, harrada, fire salts (the Oblivion special)
Damage Health + Fire Damage + Damage Magicka: spiddal stick, harrada, steel blue entoloma


All ingredient effects are possible at Expert level, allowing you to customize your potions to no end.

Damage Health: Many common ingredients can be added to Damage Health poisons at this point, including apples, flax seeds, grapes, onions, and pears. After you get to Expert alchemy, you should be able to make enough poisons to hotkey them and add them to every attack, if you wish.
Fortify Speed: pear, wisp stalk cap
Damage Health + Shock Damage: ectoplasm, spiddal stick, fly amanita cap (add imp gall for fire damage as well)
Paralyze: This effect is added to harrada, milk thistle, and fennel seeds at Expert level, allowing you to make more of these powerful potions. Try adding ingredients like vampire dust and wisp stalk caps for added effects.


Anyone who played Morrowind should remember the fun times that came as a result of becoming a vampire in that game. (Sorry, the lycanthropism of the expansion packs isn't included here - presumably it'll be in whatever expansion pack Oblivion eventually receives.)

To become a vampire, simply find a vampire lair and fight a few enemies within. (You can find a vampire lair in the Memorial Cave, to the east of the Arcane University, just across the water of Lake Rumare.) After a few good fights, your character will contract what's known as Prophyric Hemophilia, a disease that drains your Fatigue by five points. No big deal, you'll say to yourself, but if you let the disease stew a bit, then go to sleep in a bed, you'll wake up with a peculiar craving for human blood. Welcome to the world of vampirism.

Get ready for a lot of comments on your paleness if you become a vampire.

Note that while vampirism shouldn't ever prevent you from attempting quests, so long as you periodically feed, it can be inconvenient at times. The quest for a cure is a lengthy and difficult one, especially when your character is at low levels, so if you don't want to become a vampire early on, be sure not to sleep before you can take a Cure Disease potion to get rid of your Prophyric Hemophilia.


When you become a vampire, you'll initially only find that there are benefits to be had from the condition, which we list below. As time goes on, though, you'll rack up disadvantages as well, so long as you refrain from feeding. To feed as a vampire means that you have to sneak up on a sleeping human character and activate their body; you'll be able to choose between feeding and either pickpocketing or waking them up for a chat, depending on whether you're in stealth mode or not.

You can only feed when your victim is asleep.

Finding a sleeping character will obviously be easier at night, when most characters will be at home asleep. Beggars can be found in most cities, sleeping away the night hours in parks or alleyways; if you have some kind of long-range Life Detect ability, you can easily discern them on the lifeless streets of any of the towns. Mages and Fighters Guild houses will likewise have a bunch of easily-accessible sleeping characters for you to latch on to.

Note that feeding has no ill effects for your target; they don't die or become a vampire themselves, so feel free to pick your targets liberally. Feeding will be considered a crime if you're witnessed, though, so be sure that you close the door before heading inside.

Good Effects of Vampirism

To begin with, as soon as you become a vampire, you gain a 100% percent resistance to Disease and Paralysis. In addition, you'll gain bonuses to a host of different skills and attributes. Each of these gets a bonus of five points per day that you go without feeding, up to a maximum of four days. So the first day you're a vampire, you'll gain +5 to all of the following attributes and skills. On the second day, they'll all be +10, and so on, up to the fourth day, when they all gain +20.

Here's a list of the affected skills and attributes.

  • Strength
  • Willpower
  • Speed
  • Acrobatics
  • Athletics
  • Destruction
  • Hand-To-Hand
  • Illusion
  • Mysticism
  • Sneak
  • Protection from Normal Weapons
Sours: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-elder-scrolls-iv-oblivion-walkthrough/1100-6147085/

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