Oblivion - The Cat Came Back


Hey there, would you like to ride on the best event since suicide?
Hey people, come and board the train, come anaesthesize your frazzled brain
--In the mouth of madness, Spock's Beard

This anti-walkthrough thing was made with build 1.2.0416
Shivering Isles and Knights of the Nine were not installed as of this writing.
I don't know how well it will work on other versions, or with the expansiona installed. That will come later.

Extras

Oblivion Part II - Daedric Quests and Shivering Isles (2011)

...I have also updated Unfriendly Competition and Ahdarji's Hair Loom on this page, as of June 2011.

Knights of the Nine - Hunting relics for fun and prophet


Starting Out


Thanks go out to tTtroy

Introduction

As with the other anti-walkthroughs, I'm kind of assuming you've already completed the game at least once - this thing is called an anti-walkthrough for a reason, after all. If you've never played the game before you're liable to miss a few things but a lot of people seem to enjoy them anyway.

Right, let's get cracking. As anyone who has played the game for more than about 30 minutes can attest, Oblivion's levelling system leaves a few things to be desired.
In general, what happens is that you pick a few skills you like when starting out, and as you use them you increase in proficiency and level up. This worked well enough in Morrowind, but Oblivion adds a couple of twists to it which make things rather inconvenient.

Firstly, unlike Morrowind where you could get training at pretty much any time as long as you weren't trying to learn something outside your skill level, Oblivion has a sort of timetable where you can only get trained five times per level, period. Not five times per skill, five training slots.
This is not only an artificial limit in a sense that when you request training people will say "Yes, there is much I can teach you... Oh. No there isn't. Go away.", but given the extortionate costs of training you won't be able to afford any for the first few levels, which means that these valuable training slots will be wasted.

Secondly, and even more aggravating, the monsters scale up at the same rate as you do, if not faster - so for each step forward you take, you end up in at least as big a mess as you were in before. This isn't just tougher types of monster, though that happens too - existing enemies, be they rats, Imperial Guards or Necromancers, will suddenly and magically become stronger just to keep pace with you.

This anti-walkthrough presents a solution to the second problem, and to a lesser extent, the first problem as well.

A word about the mods used

In this walkthrough I have used two mods. These are both to customise the game to my personal taste and do not make significant changes to the gameplay.

The first is Alexander's Wing mod, which creates a pair of chests in the Market District containing various types of wing. They come in two forms - 'tail' type wings and 'amulet' type wings. The tail-type-wings use the 'tail' slot, which is handy for humans, elves and orcs because they don't usually have anything in the tail slot. This is less good for the beastfolk as a Khajiit or Argonian without a tail is going to look a little suspect.

The amulet-wings do have the distinct disadvantage that they will not appear in full armour or similar attire. For the robes, at least, you can perhaps get away with the tail version since the tail would probably be hidden by the robe anyway. Failing that, assume he's a shapeshifter.

No idea about the tail-type wings, but the amulet-wings can be enchanted like any other amulet. In the DMFA universe, which I am doing this as a nod to, wings denote a magical Creature, so I tend to enchant them with Fortify Magicka. All in all they're pretty decent, though I wish I could make some that appear on his head, 'Cubi-style.


DMFA (C)2009 Amber Williams

The only other mod I have installed is the Natural Wildlife mod, which makes animals such as rats and wolves behave almost normally, as opposed to the default game behaviour of turning them into psychopathic killing machines the moment they see you (which doesn't even make sense since wolves can smell other creatures from a great distance).
With the wildlife mod they will generally keep to themselves unless threatened, and will also gain a tendency to flee from a more heavily-armed foe.

Character Creation

"He... he's got proper legs! Your character is a furry!
--IDM

The basic technique is really very simple. Instead of picking skills you like, create a character who majors in utterly useless shit like Alchemy, Marksmanship, Speechcraft and Grass-growing, things which will only increase very slowly during the natural course of the game unless you use them deliberately.
This way, you can remain at level 1 practically indefinitely if you so choose, and only level up when you actually want to, and without having to have your character remain awake for the entire course of the game. For the purposes of the walkthrough I'm going to assume you're doing this, except where noted otherwise.

I used the following:

...call your custom class "Loser". In an earlier version I used 'Mercantile' instead of 'Marksman', but that unfortunately meant he would gain skill as he earned monies, which was not a good thing.

Money. That's what you want.

Once you are out in the open, head towards Weynon Priory, where you will meet with Father Jauffre. This kindly old man will listen to your tale, and say that he has no idea what is going on. This would be reasonable enough if it weren't for the fact that his desk has a book on it, lying open at a page which contains the basic plot of the entire game.

Jauffre will tell you to go to Kvetch. When you do, the world will start to fall apart, so take my advice and give the place a wide berth. Leave it until you're stronger. Instead, go to Cheydinhal.

Just outside of Cheydinhal is Fort Faggot Farragut, and just outside of that is a large tree. In the back of the tree - which is hollow - is a trapdoor. Go down inside it and you'll be in the private quarters of Lucien Lachance of the Black Hand. There is a barrel there which is locked Very Hard.


Hark, I see the barrel vile...

What you must now do is lockpick the barrel. This is difficult and can only practically be achieved by playing the lockpicking subgame and getting good at it. I find that prodding each latch twice and clicking it on the second go gives me the best results, and also that once you've picked a couple of latches, you might stand more of a chance with the Auto button.
In any case, we need to get that damn barrel open one way or another. The good news is that when you manage it, the thing will be permanently unlocked and we won't have to go through this hassle again.

Inside the barrel you will find 10 poisoned apples. Each of these fetches an absolute fortune on the second-hand market and will be used to finance your education at the Mage's Guild. Lucien will replenish the barrel each week or two, so it will provide a steady source of income.

Meanwhile, Lucien never figures out who keeps burgling him. Presumably the Night Mother knows, and the sheer balls of it may have impressed her when you join the Brothers yourself. Either way, she never seems to tell the Listener.


You must track down and destroy whoever has been stealing my apples. Good luck, Silencer.

If you simply cannot get the barrel open, the next best thing to keep yourself solvent is killing Conjurers at Ceyatatar or Necromancers in their various hideouts. Generally they have potions of healing and sorcery which you can sell, though you obviously won't make anything like as much money as the apples.


The Mages' Guild

Join the Guild as a priority. This is helpful on several levels, not least because we'll get better prices for the apples. To do this, walk into any local guild hall and sign up. You will then need to get a recommendation from each hall.

Cheydinhal

Cheydinhal guild is run by Falcar, a closet necromancer. In order to gain his recommendation (hah!) you must retrieve a deadly ring of burden from the well. A sensible person would go down the well, take one look at the body and report Falcar for murder and attempted murder, but no... you have to at least have taken the ring from him - though it's apparently not necessary to leave the well with the ring in your possession, so you can hand it back to Vidkun or drop it or something.

What puzzles me is that no-one realised he was down there from the taste.

Anyway, Deetsan tells you that Falcar never intended to write a recommendation, and then - on a pretext so paper-thin as to beggar belief - asks you to check his study anyway to find the recommendation which she's just told you doesn't exist. Instead you find two black soul gems. In an "oh no, not again..." tone of voice, Deetsan confiscates both gems, even if you only took one of them out of the drawer, so unfortunately you can't leave the other around 'for later'. Whether you can use them and then create some more of your own to frame Falcar with is something I've not yet tried, though I have grave doubts. When you're done, make sure to burgle Lucien's place for more apples, and if you're playing at a higher level, head off to Dark Fissure to make a few Black Soul Gems .

Anvil

The Anvil quest is straightforward, though you do get used as bait. Note that when the rogue mage shows up you can jump backwards and set fire to her before she speaks. This may count as assault but you don't get any infamy or bounty. The battlemages will pile into her and cut her down... which is actually somewhat mysterious as she could have been asking the way to the Drad Estate for all they know.

While you're in the area, buy the Anvil Mansion and sort that quest out. Sell more of Lucien's apples if need be - two or three batches should cover the cost, depending on how much you're getting for each one.

Bruma

In view of what will later happen to the Bruma guild, I spent as much time as I could there. Most of this was spent jumping around the place at all hours, casting 'Detect Life' to increase my mysticism and acrobatics skills. I suggest you do this too - spend as much time as you can jumping around the stairs... like J'Skar's invisibility spell, this will come in very useful later. Besides, it's fun to watch Jeanne constantly be woken up at 3am by the noise you're making.

Bravil

The Bravil quest is nothing special, but it is interesting to note that upon completion, Kud-Ei will suddenly switch from her 'good little mage' patter to sobbing and pleading for you to help her. Quietly slip out. If you did the quest now, she would tell you that it must be kept from the higher-ups in the guild so it is only fitting that we do it when you've stuffed Traven into a soul-gem and taken full control of the guild. (You didn't think he put himself in it now, did you? What kind of fairy-tale is that?)

Leyawiin

In Leyawiin you have to locate an amulet of sanity for the resident guild head, Dagail. Without it she speaks only in riddles, except when asked about rumours or Leyawiin itself in which case she will suddenly regain focus for a moment but not say anything actually useful. When whatsisface is nice and dead and the amulet has been given to Dagail, sort out the remaining guild halls (Chorrol) and report to the Arcane U.


I wish that I could pin things down, before they escape me
I can't find my car keys and it seems that lately
I have trouble even fitting them into the front door...

Arcane University - Mage's Staff

Your first task as an undergrad is to construct a staff. For this you must go to Wellspring cave. The cave actually surfaces on the island in the middle of the river, and if you're good enough at jumping there are a few weak points in the barriers. If you do manage to climb up the island, you'll find both Zahrasha and Eletta alive and well. Eletta is surly and has nothing to say - Zahrasha can be asked about rumours, but that's about it.

The cave back entrance is locked and the staff isn't around. If you now go in via the front entrance, Zahrasha will suddenly be dead just inside, and I couldn't find Eletta's body at all.

Once the place has been cleansed of the Necromancers, those who have strong console-fu may decide to resurrect Zahrasha. Best to move her closer to the entrance first, otherwise the Necros will kill her again on sight next time you enter. Note that the resurrection doesn't quite seem to take properly - she doesn't walk around too much and has a disturbing tendency to speak without moving her lips, but is otherwise hale and whole.

Most of the staff options seem to be useless, so just get them to make a fire staff.

Kiss of the Incubus (and other horrible spells)

At this point, make sure that you have have a at least a grand to spare, and go to the Praxographical Centre.
Remember - always use the spellmaker in the corner, so no-one can see that you're making forbidden spells of Necromancy.

There construct the following spell:

Touch of the Incubus

*Drain Health 100 on touch
*Soul Trap 3 seconds on touch
This is very, very nasty. Once you have the necessary skills, a suitable amount of magika (or are in God Mode) and a soul gem, you can go up to a creature and suck out their soul before the body hits the ground. It costs peanuts to make, gives you 4-5 castings from a full set of Mana, and will allow you to de-soul your victims up until around level 3.

For female characters, substitute the word 'Succubus'. DMFA (C)2003 Amber Williams

If you've been stockpiling black soul gems, this will work on most NPCs, though I cannot endorse doing this. At least, I cannot endorse saving after you've done so. At least, not in your main slot. Unless you have a backup. Aw, what the heck... do what you want with it.

If you don't have the Drain Health technology, purchase 'Major Wound' from Vigge or Sulinus at Skingrad chapter. Trayvond the Redguard in Cheydinhal will sell you the Soul Trap tech, which is curious and slightly alarming given his rabid loathing of Necromancy.

I suggest you buff up your restoration with the following spell:

No-Heal

*Drain Health 3 on self
*Restore Health 3 on self
...this is generally a good idea anyway, as you will need to be top-class in restoration in order to create enchanted armour.

Curiously, the spell only counts for Restoration, regardless of the spell order. You will also need to max out your Destruction, so use this spell as well:

Paper Cut

*Drain Health 1 on self
...you can cast it in a loop by holding down the 'C' key. The Drain effect is temporary so it shouldn't kill you.

The following spell is good for remote attacks, it will take down most mundane foes, even at level 5:

DH Ball

*Drain Health 100 on target
For enemies around level 5, this spell should take care of most of your soul-stealing needs. It gives me approximately 2-3 castings from full, and will take down the Worm Anchorite or Oblivion Dremora with equal ease.

Kiss of the Incubus

*Drain Health 100 on touch
*Damage Health 10 on touch
*Fire Damage 10 on touch
*Soul Trap on touch, 3 seconds
If you are playing at a higher level, the Kiss and the Touch alone are unlikely to suffice. Here are a few other spells, which I run at level 48. At lower levels you'll probably need to fine-tune them, and possibly create a few more items of clothing or armour enchanted with Fortify Magicka.

Little Death

*Absorb Health 100 on touch
*Drain Health 85 on touch
*Fire Damage 85 on touch
*Frost Damage 85 on touch
*Shock Damage 85 on touch
This is a common-or-garden Death spell. You may need to reduce the component damage to match your total amount of magicka, but it should still be able to erase most beasts with a single touch, especially at lower levels. Remember that you have a fairly slow duty-cycle on the spell, so bring lots of drugs if you can.

The True Death

*Absorb Health 100 on touch
*Drain Health 100 on touch
*Fire Damage 100 on touch
*Frost Damage 100 on touch
*Shock Damage 100 on touch
*Soul Trap 2 seconds on touch
...If you can fit in the extra spell and still have enough magicka to cast it, adding 'Damage Health 100' is probably a good idea.

Apocalypse Now

This is as close as I could come to a nuclear strike. Fortunately (for the inhabitants of the world) it can only be cast if you're in god-mode. It has the following characteristics:
*Absorb Health 100 on touch, area 100
*Shock Damage 100 on target, area 100
*Soul Trap 6 seconds on target, area 100
*Damage Health 100 on target, area 100
*Fire Damage 100 on target, area 100
*Frost Damage 100 on target, area 100
*Light 100 on target, area 100
*Drain Health 100 on target, area 100
I have to admit, I had an enormous amount of fun with this spell in the Blackwood Company HQ, blasting the employees around while they were still immortal. The strange thing is that they still let me join them afterwards.

The Scroll Way

Now. There is a slight problem with doing the game at such a low level (if that's what you're doing) - there is a dearth of Grand Soul gems, and this puts a definite limit on our ability to Do Crimes. Necromancer Adepts have a 1-in-20 chance of carrying an empty Black Soul Gem, but this seems to be levelled in some way. The lowest level at which I've observed Adepts carrying Black Soul Gems was level 5.

If you go up to level 5 - which seems to be about the optimum level - the best approach is to save just before going through the door to the map containing the Adept (e.g. just before Dark Fissure Sanctuary). Then you can go into the Sanctuary, open the Adept and reload if he doesn't have the gem that time. As soon as you enter the map he's in, everything will be set in stone, so do not save in that area until the gemstone is safely in your wicked little paws.

If you are dead-set on staying at level 1-3 and therefore being the true and undisputed king of the hill, our only recourse will be to cheat and duplicate a batch of Grand Soul gems to ensure a supply. I don't usually go for this kind of thing for a walkthrough, but it seems to be the most practical approach for ultra-low-level playing. On condition that it is only used as described (or for fun stuff like creating 20'000 watermelons), I will therefore explain the Scroll Way.

Firstly, you will need to have one specimen Grand Soul Gem. If you haven't already bought it, Calandil at the Mystic Emporium should have one in stock at the beginning of the game, but at this level it probably won't respawn. Anyway, get hold of one gem and at least three scrolls - two of different types. Generally you'll get more than this by attacking the Necromancers at Dark Fissure.

Make sure you have exactly one empty Grand Soul gem. If you have more than this, drop the spares.

Go to your inventory and select the scroll which is stacked into two or more copies. Then drop the other scroll. Do not select it first, just drop it immediately with shift-click, otherwise the effect will be spoiled. If it worked, you should find it splits into two. Pick both of these up and select them. Then drop the other scrolls. Again, it should divide up. Grab them, select them and drop the second set again. When you're ready, instead of dropping the other scroll pile, highlight the scrolls and drop the Grand Soul Gem instead. It will multiply, so do not do this on a slope as they will pour out everywhere. An enclosed space is best.


This was supposed to be Grand Souls, you idiot

For those with strong console-fu (or who have already used up the gems that pre-existed in the shops), this may be helpful, though it's even more cheaty than the Scroll Way, which at least has a certain amount of effort in it.

player.additem 15b8e 10
And for those who simply wish to tool up for a wholesale soul-massacre, rather than playing the game properly:

player.additem 192 250
...you'll probably also want my 'Apocalypse Now' spell as described above.

Evil Death Sword

If you can get hold of a decent two-handed sword and some kind of Grand Soul (which at this point is most likely to be a Necromancer Adept), enchanting it with 66 points of Drain Health, 20 points of Fire Damage and naming it "Evil Death Sword" may help.

If you're playing at higher levels, it is only fitting that you create ... 'Stormbringer' and 'Mournblade'. I have also created the 'Bow of Suck', but that's another story.

Stormbringer

*Soul Trap for 1 second

Mournblade

*Drain Health 100 for 1 second
*Fire Damage 10 for 1 second
*Damage Health 10 for 1 second
*Soul Trap for 3 seconds

Bow of Suck

*Soul Trap for 3 seconds
*Drain Health 100 for 1 second
*Fire Damage 3 for 1 second
Anyway, once you've constructed these little toys, you're going to need to keep them topped up with power. There is a quick and easy way of achieving this.

Every major town has a stable outside of it. They will generally have 2-3 horses each, each horse providing a 300-point Lesser Soul, and crucially, the horses will respawn every few days.

For reliability reasons this jiggery-pokery is best done an night while the stable-hand isn't around. This works nicely and with no fuss, though it is interesting that they never correlate the attacks with your presence in the area.
During the day, it's a crap-shoot... about half the time they will rightfully scream blue murder. The rest of the time - Chestnut Stables in particular - the entire team of stable-hands will stand around and watch lazily as each beast is systematically bereft of its mind, body and soul.

If you really and truly can't wait until night, it is also possible to use Oblivion's own version of cow-tipping to push the horses out of their pens and off to some secluded location where you can do the deed. Riding horses away or killing them inside the pens may be considered a crime, but pushing them over and dragging them off into the bushes in order to show them to the true meaning of the word 'oblivion' is fine. Out of sight, out of mind...

Necromancer's Moon

Okay, back to the Mage's Guild. We'll gloss over the other two missions - the Skingrad quest is fun but doesn't have much scope for tweaking (though it's even more entertaining if Glarthir tries to recruit you in the middle of the battle), and the Vatican quest to unearth the remains of an ancient Ayleid Pope isn't much cop. That takes us to the Dark Fissure quest. If, like me, you're a bad little Creature and have been regularly going to the Fissure yourself to make lots of lovely soulgems, so much the better.

While Cat-Dude somehow refrains from piping up that he already knows how to make the soul-gems or showing off the ones he's "prepared earlier," you'd think that the sheer eagerness with which he goes off to learn how men can be soul-eaten should have set off a few alarm bells in Traven's head. Either way, go shopping for a grand soul-gem or two and head off to the altar.


If you haven't already met the Worm Anchorite, he can be fun. When the stars are right he'll come out of the cave and perform the ritual. It is only just if at this point you run out of the shadows, rip his new soul-gem out of the altar and stuff him into it. Alternatively, if you don't want to wait for him, just perform the ritual yourself - Cat Dude will make up some cock-and-bull story about how he "watched the Necromancers making the soul-gems" that he relays back to base.

It is curious to note that the mages never seem to worry that you've learned such dark and evil magic. Despite all the anti-necromancer missions you will subsequently embark upon, they never realise that you're nowhere to be found on that particular night every week, nor that you're suddenly buying the entire stock of grand soul gems from all the guild retailers.

Another point of note is that Worm Anchorite comes in two editions. The original release wears a hood and says various stuff about eating your soul - all subsequent versions are hoodless and simply have the usual spiel about the Order of the Black Worm. These changes were probably made to cut manufacturing costs.


Liberation

This mission requires you to rescue an informant before the Inquisition kills him. Dangerous and probably useless, but it has to be tried.
Your first contact is a wood-elf guy, all that's left of the battlemage squad sent into the ruin. His first action is to step into one of the traps and get flattened - but he does have a lot of nice steel armour so fish out his corpse and upgrade yourself where necessary. Ship the rest of it out of the ruin so that you can come back and sell it off later.

When all is done, report back to Traven, who will greet you with his usual, disturbingly cheerful smile.

Information at a price

The vampire count Hassildor has more information, but you have to dispose of four fearless vampire killers - and a nest of vampires - before he'll tell you what he knows. I've never quite got the vampire killers to kill the vampires, and besides, that doesn't quite gel with the spirit of things in this game. You see, in Oblivion, the answer to pretty much all of your problems is murder. Want money? Find a bandit with nice armour and slaughter them. Need some soul energy or potions? A few necromancers, a little slaughtering, problem solved. Want a pretty blue hood to enchant? Find some conjurers, bash their master's head in, one hood.

Kill the guy out by the statue first because no-else else can see (except the Night Mother, but she doesn't count). The others are more public. I suggest you use your fire staff to take them out. Make sure that the victim dies behind the guard's back as he arrests you... that way you'll only be stung for an assault bounty and not a full murder rap.

In every town, every day, every person will at some stage say that when (not if!) they murder someone, this dark brotherhood nutjob will turn up and try to hire them. All I can say to that is that Lucien must be very, very busy. As are the local graveyards.

For amusement's sake, go into the Two Sisters' Lodge and buy a room. If you ask about the fearless vampire killers and the landlady will tell you they sleep here around midnight - a bit late there, but never mind. Go to your room and sleep for one hour until Lucien appears.

Fun though it would be to simply murder Lucien and hang his soul on the mantlepiece (will the Night Mother pleased about that?), it will deny us access to the guild forevermore. Instead, remain silent and refuse to talk, then cut Lucien up just enough to ensure they know they're trying to recruit a grade-A psychopath. When he's after your blood, walk downstairs.


Night Mother protect meeee!

In theory, this act of violence to his person should have Lucien chase you and therefore expose himself as a Dark Brother to all the patrons of the inn. In practice, he's ready for this contingency and will become invisible. Curiously, if you murder him now, the patrons of the inn will all scream and shout until the moment he drops dead and becomes invisible, at which point they collectively go "Oh, it was only a Dark Brother" and go back to whatever they were doing before.

Anyway, when you're done, wipe out the vampires with fireball spells and report back to Hassildor. Relay his message to Traven who will gleefully tell you that things are even worse than he thought and that he needs to call a council meeting.

Confidence and Paranoia

The council meeting will last for some days, which gives us some time to kill, so we may as well deal with Glarthir in Skingrad.

The first time you entered the town after dark, Glarthir will accost you, saying that everyone is after him and you have to unmask the conspiracy against him. For me, this happened in the middle of the battle with the Necromancers outside the stables, which was fun.

Anyway, the logical way to ensure no-one is trailing him would be to spy on Glarthir yourself and thus make sure that no-one else is watching him, but no... you have to trail three other people, letting your charge out of your sight.

Firstly you must spy on Miss Bernardt. She goes to church, then tills the fields in the vineyard. Be stealthy and watch her from the roof of the Grateful Dead stables. No matter how boring it is, do not run off and devour the souls of the sheep... it will make everyone very angry and banjax the mission.

At noon, she eats before going to a courtyard near the Great Cathedral. She will then proceed to till the pavement, or sweep one single flagstone with a hoe, it's difficult to tell.
Either way, she will do this until about 7pm before stuffing her face with food for two hours solid. This is all very suspicious - though she hasn't actually been following or watching your employer. When she gets home, ask her about Glarthir, and then report her innocence to him.

Next you must trail Toutius Sextius. Go into his house in the morning and ask him about Glarthir before following him to work. He goes to the castle and remains there until about 2pm. This may mean he is conspiring with the Count himself to be rid of Glarthir, but if so, there's not much we can do about it. In the evening he goes for a horse ride until it grows pitch black. He doesn't light a torch, which is very suspicious... almost as if he doesn't want people to know he's there.

When he tires of this, he goes to eat in a barn at around 10pm. This is not lunchtime or teatime so it's very suspicious. At 11pm he goes for a quick stroll in the north, but your attempts to spy on him are compromised by the giant rats and pigs which spring out of the grass and assail you, forcing him to run to your aid and giving the game away. He then has a secret rendevouz with one of the guards, which is very suspicious but again, he's not actually spying on your employer.

Your final target is Davide Sureille. He goes to till one single foot of ground for the best part of the entire day. This is very suspicious. As Glarthir says, he's probably digging a hole to bury something. When he's done with the hole, he'll go home to his brothers and they will lock and bar the entire house to prevent any visitors overhearing their plans. This is very, very suspicious but there's nothing we can do about it, so go into the North Wall to buy supplies or something.

Davide will go back to the fields for one last shot at the hole, which lasts until some time just before midnight. He keeps doing this even after it is far too dark to see what he's doing, so he must be up to something.

Glarthir will suspect you've been compromised and turn on you if you report that Davide is clean. If you report that he has been spying, you'll get 200 gold coins and an incriminating note ordering you to slay Davide. Show this to the guards and they will find him Guilty. Once this is done, you can loot his corpse - and thence his house - of money and valuables. Indeed, Glarthir has a cool 800 gold in a wastepaper basket. Which is very suspicious.

Once this is done, head back to Traven, who will tell say that you must go to Bruma to check out the guild.

A Plot Revealed

At Bruma, you find that the guild hall is aflame and even more horribly, most of the brethren have been soul-eaten. You will also find numerous zombies. These are difficult to kill in your weakened state, but it can be done. If you spent your early days in the guild by jumping around the stairs of the Bruma hall as I suggested, you'll have learned just what you need to lead the zombies towards the stairs and then jump back out onto the bannisters. Doing this in a loop will keep you relatively safe - in the meantime, keep zapping them with fireballs and waiting for your mana to recharge.

When they're dead, go down through the under-hall passage (repeating the procedure for any more zombies you find) and make your way to Jeanne's bedroom. There you will find a Necromancer and an invisible cat who is sitting in the corner. There was a scene a bit like this in Alien, so right before J'skar's eyes, kill the necromancer and suck her soul out (live by the soulstone, die by the soulstone). Sadly you cannot use it to light your desk lamp, but she might make a nice constant-effect torch enchantment like my Shield of the Illuminati. Using her immortal soul to recharge a weapon will probably result in her being completely extinguished, which I cannot condone.

J'Skar is understandably upset by his recent escapade. However, if you ask him various questions about the guild or Bruma itself, he will soon cheer up.

If you ask him for rumours, he will say that he has no idea why Traven is persecuting the necromancers.

When you finish the conversation, he will run back to the Arcane U. It is quite possible to accompany him, which can be amusing... bandits and other creatures will assail him (and you) and he will stand there stuttering and rapping about violence. Fortunately, he cannot die.

Report your findings to Traven, who will react to the horrific news with his customary expression of delight. Do not ask for another job until you have got all the training you need from J'Skar... when the Bloodworm Helm quest starts, he will go into hiding.


The words "taken care of" along with that expression scare the shit out of me.

Necromancer's Amulet

This is fairly straightforward. You have to go to Fort Ontus and retrieve the amulet. The lady who currently possesses it doesn't want to give it up and then things turn ugly.

To start with, enter the fort. Everyone is nice as pie to begin with and dressed in blue mage robes. To thin out the number of enemies and thereby make things easier later on, push as many of the mages as you can into the arrow trap while they are still friendly. You will need to push some of them off the bridge which is hard, but possible (and fun). When you come back later after things have hit the fan, you'll notice that someone has painstakingly stripped all the corpses and dressed them in black necromancer robes.

Bloodworm Helm

This is a fairly straightforward dungeon-crawl. At the end of it is a Dremora, who is wielding what appears to be a cheap Chinese knock-off of a Daedric mace. It looks the part and even weighs the part, but it costs a hundredth of the price of the real thing - and causes an equally poor amount of damage.

When he's dead, grab the Helm and make your way back.

Bamush

Back at base, Traven tells you that the Necromancers have been stockpiling Black Soul Gems (so have I!). He then rattles off a few things which only a Necromancer would know, about a ruin where the Necromancers have - for reasons never adequately explained - been gluing a set of BSGs together into one huge one. He then tell you to fetch it for him and refuses to say why. At this point I became convinced Traven was Mannimarco.

At the ruin (which is a true beauty spot during the day) you have to go in, kill Falcar and steal his trinket. This is again, fairly straightforward.

Confront the King

Go upstairs for your meeting with Traven. When you have emerged, the Arch-Mage will be dead, his soul sucked out Necromancer-style and his body looted of all valuables and clothes. A hastily-scrawled note proclaiming you the next Arch-Mage will later be found on his bed.
Meanwhile, you walk away with a Traven-in-a-jar(tm) which just sits there in your inventory forevermore (you cannot use Traven to enchant or recharge objects).

Before you head off, make sure you have at least one touch-based offensive spell other than the Kiss - 'Damage Health' will do, though a touch-based fire spell or something will work fine. Do not use a 'Drain Health' spell as we need the damage to be more permanent. Spells aside, it is highly recommended to buff up on your acrobatics and athletics to ensure things go our way.

When you're ready, make sure you have at least one empty Black Soul Gem and head off to Echo Cave. I put this off for a month or so of game time while trying various experiments, you can too - the Necromancers never seem to be able to actually complete their plan, and the Guild never actually replaces Traven until and unless you go to confront them.

Just outside the cave, make sure that you drop the Black Soul Gem - that is for Mannimarco alone. (Unless of course you have about 30 of the things, in which case have a ball)
Inside the cave, make sure your backwings are visible for that Angel of Death chic. Run up to each necromancer or skeleton and destroy him with the Kiss spell. This should take you about 5-10 minutes if you know the way.

When everyone else is dead, it's time to confront the King of Worms. Unfortunately he is intangible and cannot be attacked yet - fireballs will go right through him.


First blood! You'll regret that! Oh dear! Revenge!

When you approach him, bones come out of the ground, he will talk to you, paralyse you and attack you, in that order. Run away.
In one corner of the cage is a lump of rock. If you jump onto this, you should be able to spring onto the invisible barrier and vault over it, leaving Manni stuck inside his own trap. This gives you room to breathe.

Now, run back out of the cave and fetch your soul gem. Run back in, and make your way around the outside of the cage. Whenever you can see his description on the screen (i.e. 'Mannimarco' instead of 'Bone Cage') you should be able to cast touch-type spells and damage him that way. The 'deadly kiss' technique won't work on him, unfortunately - at least not until his health has been sufficiently whittled down.

Fireball or other targetted spells or sword strikes won't work unless you are able to find one of the few weak points in the cage structure, Mannimarco himself is best at finding these, though this will tend to result in your getting burned. Best to stick with the touch-spells.


Precisely why Mannimarco and Cat-Dude are unable to just slip between the bones is never actually explained

When he looks like he's about cooked, reach in through the bars of the cage (any spot will do, as long as you can see his name in the HUD) and suck his soul out.

Once he's in your pocket alongside Traven, loot the place of any trinkets and get back to the Arcane U. If you are the nice and conscientious sort, place Mannimarco's soul on the floor where he once stood... if you shove him in a drawer back home, he'll easily get confused with the others.

The King may be dead, but that doesn't stop the fun - the very next week, the Dark Fissure and Echo Cave itself will be fully restocked with a brand new selection of Necromancers to torment as per usual. In this way you can rack up a truly horrible "People Killed" total.

Back at base, speak to Raminus Polus, who will officially name you Arch-Mage. This gives you certain privileges, such as the Arch-Mage's room in the tower, newly fitted with your own private spellmaking and enchanting altars so that you can conduct still more horrific experiments in necromancy in the privacy of your own room.
Arch-Mage or no, these altars are still fitted with coin slots unfortunately, so make sure you have plenty of change.


The Arch-Mage's quarters are always dark and pokey. This seems to be a tradition.

As with Morrowind, the life of the Arch-Mage isn't all it's cracked up to be. Taking certain things will get you booted out on your arse, it's impossible to decree that someone puts the fire out in the Bruma Guild (which will happily burn forevermore), and only a few people respond to your new rank at all.
The Battlemages in particular will still finger you as the newest recruit, and when it comes to the Fighter's Guild quests, your subordinates will still get particularly shirty with you (which should be an instant dismissal/execution offence).

Anyway, now it is time to head back to Bravil and release Henantier. Kud-Ei confesses that she's hiding her colleague's misdemeanours to the Arch-Mage himself, telling him that she doesn't want anyone high up the Guild to know (...?). Curious choice to confide in, but there you go. Agree, and after Henantier wakes up, Kud-Ei will suddenly start to fawn and grovel, realising just who she's been talking to.


The Thieves' Guild

Before the Thieves' Guild begins, you will need to prepare. Get a bunch of low-level clothing - you can probably find most of it in the crates littered around the Market District. It doesn't matter what it looks like, the primary criteria is that it's cheap/free and as light as is reasonably possible. You don't need to go mad on the minimising the weight at any costs, but Daedric Armour or something is way out. Any old tat will do, all we need is basic, regular clothes.
We'll need shoes, gloves, a shirt, a hood and some trousers. Hoods are easy enough to get off a Necromancer Adept, so a quick tour of the Dark Fissure should net you one. For gloves, you'll probably need to get some gauntlets from a recently-deceased bandit. Once you have all the clothes, you'll also need five Grand Souls, and while I don't really support the idea of using Necromancers, at this low a level we probably don't have much choice.

You will also need to buff up your illusion skills to at least 50. This is fairly easy - make a spell called 'Train Illusion' using a light spell as a base - set it up so that it has a potency of 3 and is cast on Self. Then, find somewhere quiet to practice and jam the 'C' key down with a coin or something for about an hour, checking his progress regularly. When you're at 100 or thereabouts, take the five clothes and the five souls and make an invisibility suit by enchanting each item of clothing with 20% chameleon. This will make you invisible to most of the game's AI systems, which will quickly and easily make you a Master Thief.

Curiously, if the main quest is running, wearing the full invisibility suit seems to have a marked reduction effect on the number of random Oblivion gates.

Use your Illusion

Now it's time to activate the Thieves' Guild questline. I don't remember how I did this at all now, but eventually I got someone at Bravil to tell me where I could learn about the Gray Fox. From there, I was sent to the Waterfront at midnight. Tracking down the precise location was a little tricky but I got there in the end. But, if you're reading this, I presume you know all this. Gods help you if you came here for a proper walkthrough (some people have). What you can do is go straight there and bribe Armand until he is happy to accept you into the guild.

Your first task is to steal some bloke's diary, before two competing wannabees can get their mits on it instead. Sadly we can't murder them, but we can do something almost as unsavoury. The elf woman Methredhel knows exactly where to go, so put on your invisibilty suit and follow her.
Inside the house she will act like an Irish Setter, locating the rough position of the book and freezing there in a sort of pointing stance for a while. The moment this happens, quickly open up the container she's pointing at, grab the book and run. Then, not knowing that you've just removed it she will presumably tear the whole house apart trying to find the diary.

Alternatively you can attempt to remove her soul at the critical moment using the Incubus Kiss, which will leave her unconscious on the floor for about 7 seconds while you can clean the place out and make your getaway.

Either way, leave her to this, and take the book back to Armand in the 'garden'. Read it first, as it's cool. Don't bother to make yourself visible again before handing it over.

Donations for the poor

You next task is simply to get loads of stolen goods and sell them to the fence in Burma. If you're trying to keep your infamy low this is a bit of a problem but it can be managed. The thing to do is go to Lord Drad's manor, which is roughly north of Anvil. Drad lives out in the country and has no guards of his own, so no matter what you do, nothing ever gets reported back as a crime statistic. You'll still get infamy for completing the quest, but no additional infamy for the theft itself.
Walk into the house. He will probably tell you to leave, but ignore him and start to loot the place anyway. Drad and his wife will go apeshit, but it doesn't matter as long as they don't actually kill you. Jumping down through the central balcony to the lower level and healing yourself is a good trick.

Take enough to cover the first target, which I think is 50gp and get it fenced off. Some items respawn, but do not just leave spare items lying around as Drad will attempt to recover them, putting them in his pocket. This, if it happens, will make things more difficult when we have to come back for more. (If you are not playing the Thieves' Guild quest, it can be amusing to dump all their worldly goods in an Oblivion gate and then close it.)

Also, while it is fun to have Lord and Lady Drad beating the crap out of you, note that they are highly adept at pickpocketing their property back, so try not to let them get too close. However, this can be fixed rather easily. If you suspect that Drad or his wife have been re-stealing things, attempt to destroy them with the Kiss spell. Since they are immortal it won't have its usual, horrifying effects but will make him or her collapse unconscious. A paralysis spell might work too.

As they wake up and get back to their feet, pickpocket them. Since they're still concussed from their brush with eternal death, they won't be able to stop you picking their pockets and you'll be able to clean each of them out for everything in their inventory, all in one go.

I managed to sting Drad for no less than 416 gold coins in one single outing.

Anyway, after Drad has been pauperised, your first real task is to steal the tax records from the office of Lex Luther, head of the main city guard, and thereby defraud the Empire itself. This is relatively easy, doubly so if you have the Invisibility Kit, so I won't go into detail.

Unfriendly Competition - A Simple Exercise in Free-Market Economics

(Updated Jan 2011)

While not strictly part of the Thieves' Guild cycle, there is a certain perversity in starting this quest after becoming a professional criminal.

To start, speak to Claudette Perrick at the Gilded Giraffe, who will direct you to the monstrously ugly Jensine, mastermind of a local underground syndicate known to its members as 'The Society'.


Jensine, mastermind behind The Society

Jensine and her accomplices have been busily setting up a price-fixing cartel, the stated aim of which is to ensure that all traders in the Market District are members. She has a problem - Thoronir doesn't want to join and is undercutting her monopolistic prices as a result. This does not make her very happy and she needs you to sort him out.

For those who have a hard time believing that The Society is a cartel, I invite you to do a little comparative shopping at this point. In such diverse products as arrows, radishes, pumpkins and silver pitchers, Thoronir's prices are exactly the same as the other vendors (including the Feed Bag). The sole exception I could find in my research was Perrick at the Gilded Carafe (a member of The Society), whose grossly inflated prices gave her an outrageous 92% profit margin, something which the likes of Dell or HP would kill for. In short, Jensine and the others are lying through their teeth.

Anyway, when you visit Thoronir's shop, it would be easiest to try and squeeze him, for example, by trashing the place every couple of days until he sees the light and joins the cartel. However this doesn't work. What you must do instead is ask him about his inventory and say that it's a nice selection. He'll give you some glib answer - Cat Dude concludes that he's up to no good and that something must be done.

Go somewhere else for a bit and try to time your arrival so that you come back around midnight. This should mess up the scheduling sufficiently that people who were around during the day still are and will very quickly run back to bed where they should have been in the first place. Thus you should have a stream of people cutting through the pokey little garden where Thoronir meets his dealer.


Cat Dude fails sneaking 101

Don't bother to hide or conceal yourself. Just stand there and watch as the conversation takes place - bonus points if you can get close enough that they start looking at you during the secret meeting.
Agarmir will put the squeeze on Thoronir and threatens to tell Jensine about the source of their goods - as with Karras in Thief 2 this is a totally hair-brained threat, since it would result in Agarmir himself being hanged for his crimes and Thoronir possibly getting some jail time for handling stolen goods, depending on how convincing he is of his innocence to the local magister.

Anyway, Cat Dude decides that he has to follow Agarmir stealthily. The only practical way to fail this is to actually murder Agarmir, so you may as well ham it up as best you can. Keep trying to talk to Thoronir, and walk side-by-side with Agarmir. He will keep stopping and saying 'A!' but pay it no mind.


A! A! A!

When Agarmir gets home, he bolts and bars the door to prevent entry - if you're very quick it's possible to pick the lock and enter before he does, which will make his efforts to keep you away futile. A very handy bonus is that his barracade will also keep the guards from arresting you. It will, however, result in him becoming progressively more angry at your trespassing until he finally snaps and attempts to murder you (this still doesn't count as 'trespassing' in the stats, though).
Don't let him put you off - just pick the cellar locks and steal the Macabre Manifesto. Precisely where Agarmir is getting the pumpkins and radishes from is not explained, however - so far as I am aware it is not a traditional Cyrodiilic custom for the deceased to be interred amongst a decorative bed of fruit and vegetables.

If you do it this way you're likely to get arrested unless you invoke the invisibility suit (which kind of takes the fun away). Rather than take the evidence of Agarmir's crime as evidence of your crime, the police will steal everything else and let you keep it. Probably better to avoid being caught if you can - the Thieves' Guild ability to pay off fines without being searched may prove useful.

Once you have the book, show it to Thoronir and Jensine. You will probably run into Ra'Jiradh around this time. He is the editor of the Black Horse Courier and something like "IMPERIAL CITY WOOD ELF IN GRAVE-ROBBING SCANDAL" or "IMPERIAL CITY MERCHANTS CARTEL EXPOSED" would make fantastic copy, though unfortunately he isn't interested in such things.


The Hunter is not part of the Journalists Guild. Ra'Jiradh is afraid he cannot accept his copy.

Thoronir, who knew full well that his goods were crooked during the meeting, now pleads innocence and tells you where to find Agarmir, who therefore becomes the fall-guy. Head to the graveyard and find him. Just inside you will spot him and his other accomplice, a guy in steel armour. Tempting though it is to execute them both from afar with 'DH Ball', this would be an unprovoked murder and the guards will arrest you (for theft - stealing their health points, perhaps? Or their souls?).

Sadly, running up to the accomplice and bribing him doesn't work - he'll still try to kill you. So wait until Agarmir finishes talking and Kiss the pair of them goodnight.


Now is the end of all things. For them, anyway.

Having had both his dealer and his dealer's muscle taken down by you, Thoronir fears for his life and finally joins The Society. Jensine will reward you with a paltry 200 gold coins for your efforts and also what appears to be the One Ring. Thoronir's prices will remain exactly the same as before the exercise.

Setup.exe

Anyway, back to the Thieves' Guild. After you've sorted out the tax fraud for Mr. Armande, you'll have to have fenced 100gp for the next mission. Return to Drad's house and steal more shit to fence off at Bruma - note that some of the things in chests such as his clothes and wine will respawn - this can be quite handy as a source of repeat income.

Armand, when satisfied, will send you to steal some dead person's heirloom out of spite. As usual, the invisibility trick is dead handy. When you get back, Armand has been arrested and Lex' guards are crawling all over the place.
After a short period of time, Methredhel will turn up (she was apparently admitted to the guild despite failing the entry exam). Find Lex and stand next to him, so that when she appears and instructs you to frame the informant, Lex himself is also party to the conversation.


Lex listens in on the conversation of how to hoodwink him

Use your invisibility powers and a lot of luck to plant the statue. Even with the suit this is very hard and took me a lot of retries. When it's done, bribe Lex (!) until he'll deign to talk to you and turn in his informant. That you are the Arch-Mage of all Tamriel (and in my case, saviour of the world) seems to have no influence when he has to decide who to trust.

Ahdarji's Hair Loom

(Updated Jun 2011)

There, clockwork shears were taking off Vivec's hair.
A beggar king had brought his loom and was
making of the hair an incomplete map of adulthood and death.

--36 Sermons of Vivec, Book 16

When you have relieved Drad of a total of 200gp worth of possessions, look in Bravil for S'krivva. She will tell you that Ahdarji has had a ring stolen from her. Interestingly it is implied that it was given to her by Qa'Dar - the name of a cheetah khajiit slave in Sadrith Mora, Vvardenfell.

Talk to Ahdarji first. She will tell you that the ring was stolen by Amusei, whom she wants dead. In principle you're supposed to ask the beggars where he is and discover that he's been jailed by the evil Nazi countess, but we can skip that bit.

Go directly to the castle, try to arrive around 10pm in full invisibilty gear, because we can have some fun with the Countess.
She should be eating with her friends and husband when you arrive, just stand there and wait for an hour or two, do this several times. The Countess will keep eating until dawn if need be, I am not quite sure why.

When you get bored, blast her out of the chair and pickpocket her when she regains consciousness. Once she is up and about, remove an item or two of invisibility gear so that she can see your outline, and jiggle one of the plates on the table around. Then make yourself invisible again.

Now walk up to the Countess and she should say something like "Somebody help! Stop thief! Thief! Somebody help! Somebody help! You treach... You treach... Thief! You won't get away w- Stop thief! Put that back you w- Somebody help! Somebody help!" ...and so on until the crack of doom. It is interesting to note that she will follow you around and say these things while waving her hands - it might be some kind of attack action.

Be very careful that you do NOT save while the Countess is gibbering insanely, though - this seems to destroy the program when you attempt to reload the game.

Once you're done messing with her head, reload and wait outside the castle until gone midnight. Then you should be able to sneak in, filch the ring and give it back to Ahdarji, with Amusei still in jail awaiting decapitation or whatever terrible fate the Countess has in store for Argonians she doesn't like.

When you report back to Skriiva, she will say "Amusei sends his regards." Since I'd just left him to die this had me worried - just for a moment - that she was about to shoot Mittens in the head as retribution.

Miss Direction

This is more like it. After you have fenced more of Lord Drad's clothes, wine and other possessions to a total of 300gp, Skrivva will send you back to the Waterfront, where Lex has been making a nuisance of himself again.

Methredhel, once located, will tell you that they are planning to steal five things simultaneously in the hopes that this will get Lex into trouble. Actually this is a lie - they're just doing it for the sheer artistic merit of doing so.

Anyway, Methredhel will request you to steal Hrormir's Ice-Staff from the Arch-Mage. This is easy. Since you're the Arch-Mage, just go back to your office, pick up the staff and leave a note in your bedside table.

Once the staff has been given to Methredhel and Lex has been sent away, you will need to take the staff back. For some obscure reason, her simply handing you the staff doesn't count, nor does going back to your office and putting it there. Instead you have to hide your staff in Ontus Vanin's chest in order that he can be hanged for the theft or something.

Once this is done, visit the female elf traders in the Market District and ask them all about rumours in order to hear a lovely out-take of the dialogue.

Taking Care of Lex

We'll gloss over Lost Histories as it's boring. When Drad has been relieved of the burden of his worldly goods to the tune of at least 500 gold coins, you should speak to S'krivva and she'll tell you that Lex has to go.
At this point you are able to pipe up "Why not just kill him?", to which S'krivva will reply something like "This isn't the Dark Brotherhood." Sadly you can't say "It isn't...?" and walk away in search of the real thing.

Instead you must go to Anvil and get Lex reassigned there. There you are to find a letter, get it amended by some crazy squatter and hand the new version over to the Countess. Bashing Lex' head in would have been quicker and easier. Still, she will order you to present the new orders to Lex in person, who is furious.

Once Lex is actually settled into Anvil, asking him about the Gray Fox will produce amusing results as he defaults to the stock local guard dialogue and will no longer believe in his arch-foe or indeed the Thieves' Guild at all.


Cat Dude: "Tell me about the Grey Fox"

Blind Monks Surprise

Once you've fenced off at least 600 gold coins worth of Drad's shit, Methredhel will turn up. You can be on the top of a mountain, fighting bandits or performing horrific necromantic experiments in your strictly private Archmage quarters at the Arcane U, and she will just barge in and talk to you.

The message tells you to get to Bruma, there to finally meet the guildmaster.
The gray fox is, unfortunately, not the slightest bit vulpine, and wears a funny hat all the time. Probably best to save before entering as you can have some great fun.

Talk to the Gray Fox about 'Gray Fox' and he will get pissy. No-one talks to Cat Dude like that, so exit the conversation and attempt to suck out his soul. This won't work because he can't actually die, but it will knock him unconscious while sat down, which is usually good for a few laughs.
When he recovers, run around the room stealing things (you are a thief, after all). The Fox will get progressively more and more upset until he finally calls the guards. When this happens, they will completely ignore the most notorious master criminal in all Cyrodil and attempt to arrest you for petty theft.


Thief! Thief! Guards! There's a thief here!

Anyway, assuming that none of that happened, he will tell you to go to the temple of the Ancestor Moths which is east of Bruma. Break into the main church building and go into the basement. There you will be assailed by many monks. Since there isn't a blood price on them and they attack you first anyway, you may as well slaughter the lot of them.

In the lowest level there's the Stone, protected by another monk and a dark Welkynd crystal that zaps you. Murder him, nick the stone and run. There is also a user manual for the Grey Cowl of Nocturnal. Take that and leave via the well.

Arrow of Extraction Extra Caution Extrication

Once you've fenced off 700 gold coins of stuff (you will probably need to branch out to Lord Rugdumph's estate as well), you'll be summoned to Chorrol where the Gray Fox wants the Arrow of Extrication from the Bravil court wizard, Fathis Aren. Fathis lives in a tower which is some way southwest of Bravil, but unfortunately it is hyperdimensionally isolated so you cannot just march in unless you've already got the key. You will need to go in via Castle Bravil and the tunnels.

This is a fairly routine exercise, but make sure you bring plenty of lockpicks. When you finally breach the tower, steal the arrowhead, all Fathis' alchemy equipment and generally anything else that you can pawn off. This little lot should be enough to finance the next mission.
Curiously, Fathis is a cheerful little chap - instead of saying "WTF are you doing here?!" and trying to kill you, he is quite content to have a pleasant little chat about the rumour du jour, even though you are invisible.

Take the arrowhead back to the Fox, and sell your ill-gotten proceeds.

Nimble Boots and the Last Heist

The boots of Spring-Heeled Jack is a fairly mundane quest that I won't go into in detail. Suffice to say that when the Earl of Imbel says "I'm... still alive!" it is possible to murder him where he stands and simply take his boots. He's only a vampire so according to guild rules he doesn't count.


"I'm... still alive!" "Sure you are."

Once this is done and you've fenced 1000 gp of shit, the Gray Fox will summon you for your Last Theft. This is a particularly epic quest.

Your first task is to locate and poke a giant egg-timer in the basement of the Imperial Palace. This is relatively easy as long as the guards don't see/detect you entering the basement itself. Once there, it is actually possible to move the eggtimer and various other oddities like a giant spiked club - any guards watching will not actually object to the fact that someone invisible is obviously trying to steal Imperial goodies, though on the other hand they might know from long experience that you won't be able to fit it through the door and therefore not bother pursuing the matter.

Once this is done you go down the sewers to learn the Old Ways. Bring plenty of lockpicks and Black Soul Gems, as there are many vampires to sacrifice. From there, you go through the catacombs until you come to the Hall of Epoxy. Here there is a panel that you stand on to shoot the Arrow of Extrication at the statue. There's probably some way to open the iron grills, but it's easier to just jump across to the plinth from behind.

If, like me, you forgot to bring the Bow of Extrication, there are usually a few skeletal archers kicking around who will be happy to let you borrow theirs after only a little obliteration persuasion.

Once this is done, the hall opens up and two statues will attack you. They have souls, which means that they can die (and fill two more black soul gems).

Your next obstacle will be the guards' barracks. This is actually fairly easy. Make yourself visible for a short period of time and the guards will start to attack you. Then become invisible and the guards will start to massacre each other for no obvious reason.
This may take some time, but there will generally be at least one archer attacking the others, who are trying to sleep. Until they actually die, they will stoically ignore the arrows, which wake them up and cause them to move to a different bed.


The guards massacre each other in the Imperial Palace

Once the guards have decimated each other, move on to the library. Get the scroll and flee - you will need to use the 11th Earl of Imbel's boots to survive your journey through the battlemage's fireplace. Then escape from the sewers using the most convenient method.

Finale

The finale is kind of dull by comparison. The Gray Fox changes his name to Count Crow and passes his funny hat onto you. And that's it.
It is never quite explained whether this act also erases you from posterity or not.


Dark Brotherhood

But Master is going to take it to Him, straight to the Black Hand, if Master will go this way...
--Smeagol, The Two Towers

For some reason I wasn't all that taken with the Dark Brotherhood quest. It started out kind of boring, and I did actually have a bit of a problem with the whole idea, strange though it is. I guess part of it was that I enjoy going on rampages purely because I'm not supposed to do them, and killing people for money (and Sithissss) doesn't have quite the same appeal.

Nonetheless, I got there in the end.

Now. For this quest we will need some fairly heavy-duty shit. Firstly, we will need the Cowl of the Gay Fox, and secondly, we will need some better attack spells. I created this one especially:

Lesser Crucifixion

*Drain Health 100 on touch
*Damage Health 100 on touch
*Fire Damage 100 on touch
*Shock Damage 100 on touch
*Soul Trap on touch, 3 seconds
...You will need to be 100% on Destruction for this to be practical, and even then, you will need help to reach the 204 Magika points necessary to fire the spell properly.

In order to drive the spell, get a Conjurer Adept's hood, and for various other pieces of clothing to make a complete set. I did this at Level 5 and acquired the following:

Stitched Leather Jeans, Leather Boots, Leather Cuirass, Steel Gauntlets, Mage's Hood (as above). These I enchanted with Fortify Magicka using the souls of the vampires I met while burglarizing the Imperial Palace.

Rufio

The Speaker came to me and said
"There is an old man we want dead"
I killed him in his bed
In our Father's name

Your first task is to murder an old guy named Rufio whom Lucien doesn't like for some reason. This is easy enough, just go to the Inn of Ill Repute, put on the Gray Fox' hat and kill him by whatever means you see fit. Consuming his soul in his sleep is the incubus way, but I'm not really into that weird shit personally.

When he's dead, get in bed with him and Lucien will turn up. He will induct you into the Brothers. Say nothing, and when he's finished talking, cast Lesser Crucifixion on him, which will take him down instantly (yes, this is why I created the spell).
If you like, wait a few seconds until he tries to get up and rob him of his worldly possessions. Otherwise, once you have shown him just how mentally unstable his new recruit is, just leave. We will do this each time he gives us a mission.

It is disturbing to note that once you are officially inducted into the Brotherhood, all the townsfolk, who were up to this point discussing the Dark Brotherhood openly in the street, suddenly and completely clam up about it. It would seem that everybody is in on this.

Anyway, your first task after dealing with the Dead Old Man is to head to the Sanctuary in Cheydinhal.

Not Ready for Drowning

I should mention a word or two about M'raaj-Dar. As will be immediately obvious, he is a pain in the arse, saying that the Five Tenets only say that he mustn't kill you, not that he has to be nice to you. He will in fact be a total bastard, to the extent that it overrode my usual compassion towards kitties resulting, on one occasion, in his death.

The fact is, he simply hasn't thought this through. You're still in your probationary period and that cuts both ways - they haven't decided if you're right for the Brotherhood, and you haven't yet decided whether the Dark Brotherhood is right for you. As and when you come to realise that they're all just a bunch of sad losers living in their (night) mother's basement, getting thrown out of a Guild you wish to resign from anyway isn't the slightest deterrent from ending their pathetic existences.

However, this is not what I did in the end. As you presumably know, M'raaj has a change of heart towards the end of the Sanctuary cycle, and that is enough to save him. In the meantime, avoid him utterly and do not give him a chance to vent his spleen at you.

Die-like-a-Pirate Day

Once safely at the Sanctuary you will be told to kill a pirate, a wood-elf and the evil prisoner who you met when Cat-Dude was first created by the gods. My suggestion is to wear the invisibility gear at all times.

For the pirate captain, you might briefly wish to switch to the magical gear so you can cast the Crucifixion spell at him, since he's rather tough. It is possible to run back out quickly before his mates get in.

I won't go into details on the other two missions, but in all cases, you will have to report to the Sanctuary to confirm the contract has been fulfilled and to receive the useless shit which they insist on giving you.
If you like to keep your infamy low there is one thing which is very important, though - wear the gray fox mask before talking to Vicente. It doesn't matter how you dress when actually killing the mark, you only get the infamy when you report back, so it is only when talking to Vicente that you should be wearing the Cowl.

Once this is done you'll be told to fake the assassination of someone who sacrificed their mother's soul to Sithisss. This is only your fourth mission since officially joining, but for some reason Vicente says he's come to rely on you in preference to the others, which does not say flattering things about the quality of the Brotherhood membership in general.

This is a straightforward mission and will be the last of Vicente's missions. When it is completed, he will finally give you the well key, some more crap and offers you the chance to become a vampire. Becoming a werewolf might have been cool, but unfortunately that's outside of his ability to provide.
Whether you accept his offer is up to you, but I didn't. If you change your mind later the guys in Memorial Cave will be able to help you out anyway.

IDM: I love the sheer perversity of being a vampire.  If you go around drinking
     their blood regularly everyone is really nice to you... if you DON'T, they
     start to get really shirty.
     
PDM: I need some garlic.  Where can we get that?

JPM: Look around the gardens in Water's Edge and Borderwatch.

IDM: Gardens?

JPM: Gardens.  People have little gardens where they grow wheat, melons, pumpkins...

IDM: I see... all sorts of unseasonable vegetables cohabiting in gleeful anachronism.

JPM: Er, yes.

IDM: The vampire sneaks into the homes of innocents at night, stands outside the
     window and drains them of their vegetables.

Drugs are bayd, m'kay?

Ocheeva is now your contact with the Brotherhood of Wisdom. She will tell you to slay a High Elf named Faelian, who turns out to be a skooma addict. The best way to deal with him is to go to Lorkmir's house in the Eleven Gardens, and wait until 11am.

When Faelian turns up, high as a kite, tell him that you want his soul. He'll agree to let you have it, so making sure you have a Black Soul Gem handy, give him one of your special kisses. Leave the soul gem somewhere in the house. Doing that might be a little on the harsh side, but at least Sithis won't get him.

It is interesting that at this point, I was approached for the Virtuous Blood quest, with the intriguing result that they will happily tell you their deepest, darkest secrets about the vampire threat, but refuse to gossip about some inconsequential junkie because they don't trust you.

Ocheeva will give you the Bad Medicine quest next. I kind of feel sorry for Roderick, but what can you do? As far as I know you can't actually see him poisoned, so even resurrecting him afterwards won't work. I have not tried failing the quest deliberately, though.

Once that is done, we have the infamous party mission. Get some poisoned apples from Lucien's stash and plant them on the guests, removing and consuming all other consumables from the house.
This will only work for the first three or so guests, as after that point the survivors seem to realise that the food is tainted and refuse to eat at all. The Nord only ever drinks from his own personal stock and cannot be poisoned. He and the other survivor will have to be put to the sword, unfortunately spells will not work.


Why they eat them when the apples are clearly labelled 'Poisoned Apple' is anyone's guess.

Detirement

Your next mission is to off Adamus Phillida. There are several approaches to this.

One approach is to travel to Leyawiin at about 6:15 in the morning and wait outside the guard tower. A metric shitload of guards will pour out of the building including Adamus and his bodyguard. Exactly why he sleeps in the guards barracks when he's retired is never explained.
Stand in front of Adamus so that he's separated from the other guards and briefly wear the Gray Fox mask. He will go apeshit and draw his sword. The rest of the guards will hear him attacking you and cut him to shreds.


Alternatively you can do the more traditional approach of waiting until he removes his armour and shooting him with the Rose (while wearing your invisibility suit, of course).
Blasting him repeatedly with a can-opener spell (Disintegrate Armour) does not seem to work, unfortunately - the armour is actually a part of his body and it cannot be removed in this way, even if he changes map. Waiting until he's asleep and shooting him in the head won't work either - although his helmet isn't visible it still seems to be there, and the attack will wake him up (though pickpocketing him while he's asleep and you're invisible seems to be a sure-fire way to have the other guards execute him). The only viable approach to using the Rose that I've found is to wait until he's swimming.


And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die.

Sadly it is not possible to pickpocket his finger off, that seems only to be created when he dies.

Drop dead

Once Adamus' finger has been safely stowed in his successor's desk drawer as a halloween trick, Ocheeva will give you a letter from Lucien. Do not read it. Go first to Fort Farragut, wearing the Gray Fox helm. When you read the letter, Lucien will teleport in, saying that he's been waiting for you. If you're quick, you can blast him with the Crucify spell as soon as he beams in, just so he knows who's boss.

Once he recovers consciousness, Lucien will give you some paranoid spiel about how someone is destabilising the brotherhood, and that you must kill everyone to prevent this. Say nothing at all to him, and when he's finished speaking, smash him again with the Crucify spell and leave.


!eid lliw ecnahcaL neicuL

This mission is urgent, so if you're running the main quest, go find an Oblivion gate or two and sort them out before returning to the sanctuary.

Once you're in the Sanctuary, kill everyone you meet with the Crucify spell except for Schemer and M'raaj-Dar. Schemer is not on the to-die list because he's a rat, and M'raaj-Dar needs to die last of all as he requires some special care.
Ogrog Gro-Bogroll seems to be fond of soul-stealing axes, so it seems only fair to demonstrate to him exactly what he's doing to his victims. The Dark Fissure isn't far away, so if you need to get a black soul-gem just for him, that shouldn't present a great logistical problem. Vicente has some neat black jeans, don't forget to steal those.

When all the others are dead, talk to Mr. Dar, and he will say that he doesn't like you. End the conversation, go to the system console (~) and click on him. Then, in the game, blow him away with the Crucify spell, but make sure you do not steal his soul.
When he's dead, enter the command 'resurrect' on the console and return to the game. Talk to him, and having tasted death at your hand he will decide that you're alright. Now leave him and return to Lucien. Since you never actually state that you've killed everyone, there's no point in shattering his illusions.


"A squabble...? They're all DEAD!"
"Must have been more of a tiff, then."

It might be an interesting experiment to play the entire
Dark Brotherhood mission by resurrecting your victims
after they have been murdered, thus becoming the most
useless assassin in the entire history of the guild.
Lucien will reward you with what appears to be a vampire mare named 'Shadowmere'. She is unkillable, which means that you can smash her with the Crucify spell and then use her unconscious body as storage. However, this does mean that you have to beat the shit out of her each time you need to retrieve an item.
Note also that if you do this she will consume things like potions in combat. She does not seem to munch on food (like my lovely poisoned apples) or wield fireball staves in combat, unfortunately.

Anyway, you'll be given a series of missions to perform, including the slaying of a powerful necromancer (who is no match for Crucify).


The Family

Wiping out an old woman and her entire family seemed a bit steep to me, so I used the technique of resurrecting each one after they died.
You will then be asked to kill a Khajiit in Bruma, an Argonian who lives in a flooded mine near Bravil, and a psychopathic Dark Elf named Alval Uvani. With the exception of Alval, who is a total bastard, all these people should be resurrected afterwards. Nothing was mentioned about their deaths being permanent, after all.

After this, you have to kill two more people, a crazy mountain-man east of Bruma and Ungolim in Bravil. And this is where it starts to get fun.

Ungolim goes to talk to the Lady from about 6pm to 4am or something. As soon as he arrives, he will attempt to kill you. Do not fight him - in many cases the townspeople will do this for you. If not, hide behind one of the guards so that they get shot instead, and then the townspeople will do for him. When Ungolim has become an outlaw, run away.

It is often amusing to wait in the inner moat for Ungolim's death, as this will cause Lucien to teleport into the water for his 'little talk'. This must be done carefully, though - if it's done wrong, he'll appear too far away and the script won't run. I got it to work by wearing a pair of walk-on-water shoes.

It is also possible to run the hell out of the town - in some cases (most likely where Ungolim follows you out) the combat keeps on going, so you'll end up with Lucien appearing in the middle of the road or something. Again, in one instance I had swam halfway to Fort Grief, which caused Lucien to drown and the script to crash.

Anyway, when Lucien finally turns up, he will begin to rant and rave at you. Say nothing, and when he tells you what you must do, ask him about Rumours (this will be your first and only word spoken to him).

After this, Lucien will turn invisible and run from Bravil to Applewatch in a single, non-stop journey. If you have a soul-scanner - the Grey Fox helmet will do - you can follow him, which is quite amusing as he will frequently get into fights with bandits, resulting in his unconscious form rolling down the hill.
When he finally gets to Applewatch, he will stand inside, grinning at you like an idiot. If you want to prevent his death, highlight him in console mode (and keep him highlighted!) as this will be your last chance to catch him alive.

Meanwhile, you must head off to Anvil and intimidate the annoying wood-elf guy into revealing the secrets of the lighthouse. This must be done wearing the Grey Fox helmet or you'll get infamous, especially if you attempt to Crucify him afterwards.

Get the lighthouse key by whatever means you see fit and go into the cellar. There you will find a dead dog (this can easily be fixed using the 'RESURRECT' command - if you haven't highlighted Lucien.) and a dead woman who seems to change race when resurrected. There is also a crazy dog, ignore him and just get the diary. If you want to try resurrecting the dead dog, I suggest you keep the mad dog in the other room as they will tend to re-kill the undead one.

The diary makes remarkable reading, not least because some of the more demented poems are actually quite well-written. Take the diary and go back to Applewatch, where Lucien will have been strung up. If you highlighted him earlier, you can now use the 'ENABLE' command to bring him back among the living.

Crucify Arquen for this outrage and then immediately wait until about 1am. Arquen will have remained on the floor the whole time.

Pickpocket her just as she regains consciousness to annoy the others, and then talk to her right as she starts to get up - she will lie on the floor and talk to you. Tempting as it may be, crucifying Bellamont immediately before talking to Arquen is a Bad Idea - it will lock up the script where he runs amok. This may be amusing, and you can give the game engine a little push by using the KILL command on the two other Speakers, but it's not generally advisable.

At Bravil, the others will go down into the crypt and you will be left to your own devices. If you wish, go into church and wait until noon, or go off for a few weeks on holiday. The Night Mother, Arquen and Bellamont will be perfectly happy to wait for you and the good citizens of Bravil will never question why their Lucky Old Lady has mysteriously turned into a twisted whore with dead babies at her feet.

When you eventually go down into the crypt, Bellamont will attempt to kill the Night Mother. Sadly this is impossible, though you can KO her really good using the 'KILL' command on the console. This is something of a shame as at the end of the day, Bellamont has the right idea and destroying their evil organisation would have been an extremely satisfying way to end the quest.

Ah well... just hide somewhere out of the way and wait until Arquen has done the dirty work, then talk to the Lady again. It is also well worth your while talking to the Night Mother during the battle - she is extremely polite, though she doesn't have any good rumours, unfortunately. Note that this will cause her to run away afterwards.
Aside from one or two interesting books, most of the 'treasure' in the crypt is shit, so attack Arquen again and quickly ask the NM to teleport you back to the sanctuary, whereupon Arquen will have forgotten all about your little spat.

Aftermath

Now that you're finally in charge of the whole organisation, you will have a number of Murderers at your disposal. If asked, they will follow you around. They do need some degree of nursing as they aren't able to heal themselves for some reason.

Originally my intention was to get one recruit from each guild to march upon Varondo and slay all within. Unfortunately this hope was dashed because only the Dark Brothers and the Mages Guild will provide such recruits. That said, it was amusing to watch as the Murderer conversed with a rather sullen-sounding magister during the recruitment phase.

Eventually I set off for Varondo with one mage and one Khajiit Murderer in tow. The attack on Varondo was short-lived as the demons within quickly made mincemeat out of both my followers. Appalled, I used the console to resurrect my Murderer and made him immortal using the command SETESSENTIAL 86755 1.

This yielded the desired result but also had some unintended side-effects. When the current battle was over, he came to his senses and ran like hell. Curious, I followed him - over the course of about 18 in-game hours he ran all the way from Varondo to Cheydinhal, pausing only to dispatch a few monsters and bandits who got in his way.

The interesting bit came when he entered Cheydinhal. Extensively damaged in the fights, his shrouded armour finally fell off and once inside the town gates, he streaked through the place at high speed, wearing only a small towel tied around his waist before jumping down the well.


Murderer stops to flash some little old lady

 


I command you to put some clothes on.


Sadly, that's all we have time for right now. Eventually I'll go over the Daedric Quests, the main quest, and the expansions.

Appendix A - Videos

One of the reasons this thing was rather late is because I've also been making various Oblivion and Morrowind videos. Here are a few:

Why horses and watermelons don't mix (Nov 2008)

Horseplay (Apr 2009)

Blood and Souls for Malacath (Apr 2009)

A Bad Day at the West Weald (Aug 2009)

Appendix B - Happy Hunting Grounds

These are a few quick lists of places I found handy when hunting for Black Soul Gems, healing/sorcery potions, Adept souls or just if you happen to be in the mood to increase your 'People Killed' total. It's not an exhaustive list, just a bunch of places I found handy or interesting. I'll probably add to it later.

Necromancers

Primary sites:

Dark Fissure, Fort Linchal, Fort Istirus, Wendelbek

...these locations have altars for Black Soul Gem creation. They also have Adepts.

Secondary Sites:

Bloodrun Cave, Elenglynn, Mackemantain, Underpall Cave (Reflecting Chamber), Nenyond Tewyll, Garlas Agea.

...these locations have Adepts. Except in some cases, such as Garlas, the Adept will be in a secondary area, so if you're harvesting BSGs it is usually possible to get quite close to where they are and save just before you enter. Remember, never save in the Adept's own area until you're sure he has the gem on him (i.e. when he's dead).

Tertiary Sites (i.e. utter holes):

Kindred Cave, Fort Ontus, Pothole Cave

Most of these locations have no Adepts. Kindred Cave does have an Adept, but he/she is non-respawning.
Note that the Fort Ontus necromancers have no potions.

Conjurers

Ceyatatar, Varondo, Fort Rayles

Bandits

Fort Homestead, Fort Alessia, Fort Wariel, Fort Woodenhand


Made with Kate, Smultron and various other things

DMFA (C)1999-2009 Amber M Williams - www.missmab.com

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