Oblivion: Tips & Tricks

This is going to be yet another Obivion post. I promise that you will only need to suffer at most one more until I’m completely done with this game. This time around I want to talk about useful tips and tricks that will make your game more awesome. This post is supposed to be something akin to my Morrowind Tips page.

Better Lockpicking

I previously ranted at length about how much I dislike the recent trend of replacing skill checks with pointless mini games. Fortunately oblivion provides an easy workaround that replaces the game with a skill check, in the form of Skeleton Key. This magic item is the reward for the Nocturnal Shrine quest and it takes form of an unbreakable lock pick. In effect it allows you to simply spam the Auto-Attempt button at the lock picking screen until you succeed. Failure no longer removes scarce and expensive lock picks from your inventory.

To me this is a must have item. You can find Nocturnal Shrine here. It requires no offering, but unfortunately you have to be at least level 10 to attempt the quest.

Ultimate Weapon

Here is how to make an ultimate weapon that will let you kill most of the enemies in the game with 1-2 swings. You must gain access to an enchanting altar, and learn couple of spells. One of them must be Drain Health spell.

Enchant your weapon with Drain Health 100 for 1 second and some basic damage spell – like fire damage for 1 sec. Put in as many points of damage into it as possible. The effect is devastating. When hit, the enemy will have 100 points of health drained, an will suffer the additional damage on top of that. This is enough to kill most lower level enemies who usually tend to have less than 100 of health.

Additionally, if you are able to swing your weapon fast enough the drain life effects will stack which means enemies with 200-250 health will go down in mere two blows. Interesting side effect of this is that your blade skill will grow much more slowly since you will be swinging your blade less often.

Sigil Stone Lottery

Sigil stones found in Oblivion gates give you access to some pretty good enhancements. Unfortunately, if you start closing the gates at lower level, you will get crappy, low powered stones. It is best to wait until you are around level 20, since then the gates start yielding Transcendent stones that have most powerful enhancements such as +12 bonus to one of your attributes.

The problem is that there is no way of knowing what kind of stone you will get until you actually grab it. Good news is that the stone is randomly generated the moment you pick it up and it is not tied to the Oblivion Gate instance. Why is it good news? Because it gives you some degree of control over what kind of stone you end up with. Do the following:

  1. Save your game just prior picking up the stone
  2. Pick up the stone
  3. The stone will change shape, size and then will vanish
  4. At that point you should see a message saying it was added to your inventory
  5. As soon as you see that message, hit Tab to enter inventory screen
  6. Check what kind of stone you got
  7. If you don’t like the stone, reload the game and try again
  8. Repeat this until you get a good stone

This is possible because there is a few second animated explosion that takes place after you pick the stone up, and which culminates with you being ejected from the gate. It gives you plenty of time to open your inventory, and reload the game if needed.

Best Horse in the Game

The best horse in the game is Shadowmere. You get her as a reward in the Dark Brotherhood quest line. She is as fast as a black horse, has more health, better attacks and is considered an essential NPC. This means she will never die – she can be only knocked unconscious. Getting this horse is one of the best perks of doing the Dark Brotherhood quests.

Ultimate Adventuring Helmet

By far, one of the most useful items in the game is Fin Gleam – a glass helmet which gives you constant effect Night Eye, Detect Life for 20 feet and water breathing. You probably won’t want to wear it all the time, but I find it indispensable in most dungeons.

Unfortunately this item is nearly impossible to find. It is located deep underwater, on the west coast of the small island west of Anvil. You can see it’s location on the map here. You will probably need a spell of water breathing or two to locate it. The best tip I can give you is to position yourself west of the small island. There is a big protruding boulder on the shore – you want to align yourself with it and then swim out couple of feet into the sea. Then go directly down. There is a big rock formation on the bottom with a skeleton next to it. You should be able to see the helmet right to the skeleton.

Once you get Fin Gleam you never again have to worry about the breath meter while swimming, and you no longer need to carry any torches or use Night Eye/Light spells. I personally think it is worth spending some time to locate it. As far as I know, there are no quests related to this item so it is more of an Easter Egg than anything else.

Ultimate Mage Staff

When you join the Mages Guild and get accepted to the Arcane University you will be allowed to design your own Mage Staff. In my experience, the best effect is that of Paralyze which makes you almost unstoppable in one-on-one combat. The staff will have short paralyze duration, but it still gives you plenty of time to switch to your main damage dealing weapon, and get in few hits. If you obtain this staff, most of the Arena battles become a cakewalk – all you need to do is to zap the enemy as they are getting close, and then wail on them while they are on the ground. If you can’t kill them outright, just back away as they get up, switch back to the staff and zap them again.

You could theoretically enchant a weapon with a paralyze spell, too but the staff can be used at a distance minimizing the risk of getting hit.

Changing Your Appearance

One of the tings that annoyed me about Oblivion character creation is that while you design your character, his/her face is lit by a flickering torch light. As soon as you leave the Imperial City sewers however you will often find that the meticulously picked skin tone and highlights look like crap in full light. But at that point it is already to late to change anything without reloading the game.

Or, you can be like me – you may discover a cool appearance mod that adds new custom hair styles, or faces into the game around the same time as your character dings level 20. Starting a new character just to try out new hair is pretty much self defeating at that point. Fortunately, the PC version of the game makes it possible to change your race/appearance at any time in the game using the following command:


This command will display the character creation menu you used at the beginning of the game. Before you jump on it though, please keep in mind that using this dialog will reset all your skills back to their default values from the start of the game. Your level will remain the same but you will lose all the progress you made cultivating advanced skills. There is a trick to avoid this though:

  1. When you call up the character menu, do not close the console
  2. Modify your appearance but do not hit the Return button when you are done
  3. Instead, save the game while the character dialog is still on the screen and console is still open
  4. Immediately after you save, load that save

This will return you back to the game, with all the changes you made via the Character Creation dialog in effect, but will not reset your characteristics. Please note that I only tested it for changing general appearance (ie. facial features, hair, skin tone and etc). I have no clue what will happen when you actually change your race using this trick. Your characteristics and/or attributes may be reset despite using the technique above.

This trick works with all the official patches and the Unofficial Oblivion Patch applied.

Console Cheats

Every once in a while, you run into situations which are lame, annoying or destroy your enjoyment of the game. When this happens, you can either stop playing, suck it up and keep playing the game until it starts being fun, or use some innocent non-game-breaking cheats. Here are couple of useful console commands that can save you when you get yourself in trouble.

When strapped for cash, you can add 100 gold using:

player.addItem f 100

I mentioned this before, but I’ll include it here for completeness. To add 5 lockpicks use:

player.addItem a 5

Give yourself 5 armorer hammers:

player.addItem c 5

Give yourself a healing potion (this one is a life saver on lower levels when you have neither cash nor alchemy skill to create these):

player.addItem 98496 1

I just wanted to mention that the magic weapons in Oblivion are irrevocably broken. I much preferred the Morrowind system where the charges would gradually regenerate over time. Halfway through my game I noticed that I was pretty much hoarding all my magic weapons, saving them for a special occasion. Yes, I’m a pack-rat. I never, ever use scarce items – that’s also why I tend to have 50 thousand scrolls in my inventory. I just can’t stand the thought of using them up for trivial missions. Recharging magic weapons is extremely expensive and Varla Stones are extremely rare making charges on your weapons and staffs a precious commodity. This is where this next cheat comes in. Do this whenever you deplete most of the items in your inventory to get 1 free Varla stone you can get to recharge all your stuff:

player.addItem 194 1

Well, while we are at it, I might as well include the cheat for getting a single Welkynd stone added to your inventory:

player.addItem 191 1

You may find this useful if you are using Umbra (or another weapon that casts Soul Trap on strike) and you don’t have Azura’s Star or it is currently occupied. If you find yourself out of soul containers just give yourself an empty grad soul gem:

player.addItem 15B8E 1

Did this ever happen to you? You have an idea for a great enchantment, you picked out the right weapon/armor/trinket, you get to the Arcane University, you access the enchanting altar and you realize you have no filled soul gems in your inventory. How bad is that? Well, don’t fret – just give yourself a grand soul gem with a grand soul in it and you are good to go:

player.addItem 382DF 1

The console lets you do pretty much anything you want – you can even raise your attributes or skills and create a godlike character with all stats maxed out. But that sort of thing usually takes the fun out of the game. So I won’t show these things here. But if you are interested, you can learn about all the console commands here.

What are your favorite Oblivion tips and/or tricks? Did I miss any must-have items, or useful tips? Let me know in the comments!

Other Posts in my Oblivion cycle:

  1. Oblivion First Impression
  2. Oblivion Mods: Part 1
  3. Invisible Wall Kill Immersion
  4. Skill Checks vs Minigames
  5. Non Game Breaking Cheats
  6. Oblivion Mods Part 2

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6 Responses to Oblivion: Tips & Tricks

  1. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Of course, you can always just create a weapon in the Oblivion Editor (I created an island in which I had my house…didn’t buy one :) ).

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  2. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Shadowmere and the unbreakable lockpick are pretty much the two most important must-have items in Oblivion. The best part is that they can be done one after the other.

    Going thru the whole Dark Brotherhood questline, and getting a ton of great items, will net you Shadowmere. By the time you’re done with it, you’ll be some levels up, good enough to try and get the unbreakable lockpick.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Steve: Heh… Funny you mention houses. My character – the champion of the arena, the Arch Mage of the mages Guild, the Gray Fox, the Speaker of the Dark Brotherhood and a high ranking member of Blades and Fighters Guild (still not done with these missions) lives in… A shack in Bravill.

    That’s pretty much my favorite town – the run down, crappy, ghetto ass Bravill. I bought the house there at the beginning of the game because it was cheap and just never moved out. :)

    @Mart: Yeah, the Dark Brotherhood has probably the best quest line in the whole game both in terms of interesting missions, as well as rewards. The “bonuses” are great boosts early on in the game – I got upset when they stopped giving them to me.

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  4. Chris UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    where do u enter cheats on a 360?

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  5. bobby UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    where do i get the “breath under water potion?”

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Chris:

    You can’t. 360 version doesn’t have a console as far as I can tell.

    @ bobby:

    You might be able to buy it at the Mages Guild or anywhere else they sell potions. Scrolls and potions of water breathing are rather common. I think there is a quest you can do for a fisherman near the Imperial City (close to where you emerge from the dungeon at the start of the game) where the reward is a ring of water breathing.

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