- 1 Finding Loot
- 2 Quests
- 3 Using Skills
- 4 Unloading Your Goods
Making money is an important aspect of gameplay. Whether you are a novice adventurer in need of training and supplies, a seasoned adventurer looking for a new house, planning on enchanting items, or creating your own spells, a stable source of income is essential.
The amount of money you can make is unlimited and you can make it fairly quickly, so do not be miserly! Spend your money freely to get the items you want or need. There are Infinite Money Glitches in unpatched versions of the game, but with the tips below, you may decide they are more trouble than they are worth.
By far, the most common method of earning gold is to collect items of value to sell to merchants. The most straightforward way to increase your earnings is to take advantage of Feather or Fortify Strength effects (spells, potions, or enchantments) to maximize the weight that you can carry.
More for Your Money: The Value Ratio
Eventually though, you are going to get over-encumbered and you will be forced to start dropping items and leaving even more behind. This is when an item's value ratio becomes important. In order to determine what to keep and what to drop or leave behind, you must calculate an item's value ratio using this formula:
Value = BasePrice / Weight
Using this ratio you can easily determine which items to leave and which to take back and sell. For every unit of weight you carry to a vendor to sell, you want to get the most gold possible for it, so the higher the item's ratio, the better.
Example: You are over-encumbered and must choose between an Iron Cuirass worth 30 gold that weighs 20 units or a Leather Cuirass worth 15 gold that weighs 5 units. Use the formula to determine which should be discarded.
- The Iron Cuirass
- value ratio = 30 / 20 = 1.5
- The Leather Cuirass
- value ratio = 15 / 5 = 3
The iron cuirass' value ratio is less (half, in fact), so you should certainly drop it in favor of the leather cuirass. Now you have room for more valuable treasure and will make more money on this loot run.
This is just an example. If you are over-encumbered, it's probably time to calculate the value ratio of all the items in your inventory and drop the ones with lower ratios to maximize your income. Your acceptable value ratio will shift over time, as better and more valuable items become more common, and when you are better equipped and able to handle more difficult enemies. For example, you might have a 1:1 ratio at the start of the game, moving to 1:4 shortly afterwards, and 1:10 not long after.
Rules of Thumb
- Scrolls, arrows, potions, and alchemy ingredients have high value ratios.
- Unenchanted weapons have a low value ratio.
- Larger weapons usually have a worse value ratio than smaller weapons.
- Books worth more than one gold have good value ratios.
- Light armor has a better value ratio than heavy armor.
- Jewelry has an excellent value ratio.
- It's always recommended to pick up zero-weight items that still have a non-zero value (including cold hard cash, as well as the Mage's Hood), as they will not encumber you.
- You should cap an item's value based on merchants' available gold (e.g. an ebony battle axe is better value than a daedric battle axe if you only have access to 1200 gold merchants).
- You should always be able to find a merchant with 1200 available gold; use the list of Merchants if you need to locate a merchant with more available gold.
- These merchants have a high Mercantile skill however, making it harder to haggle for a good price.
- If you have installed certain official downloads, merchants with more available gold are added. In particular, Aurelinwae (from the Wizard's Tower download), Rowley Eardwulf (from the Vile Lair download), and Nilphas Omellian (from the Fighter's Stronghold download) each have 2000 available gold.
- At high Mercantile skill, two mastery perks become available that provide most merchants with 1000 additional gold.
- The maximum amount for which you can ever sell an item is 3000 gold.
- You should always be able to find a merchant with 1200 available gold; use the list of Merchants if you need to locate a merchant with more available gold.
- If you are working on your Mercantile skill, then you'll probably want to sell absolutely everything of value.
- In the case of the example given above, you may want to drop the leather cuirass if you have 5 or less units of weight too much, because you could carry either cuirass and the iron one is worth more. The closer you are to a merchant, the more this exception applies. If you will be exploring for a long time, this exception may become moot.
- The percent of value you get for a certain type of item being greater or smaller can change the value ratio. This can make you prefer to sell certain types of items and steal less.
18 Potions * 58 coins ea. * .96 = 1008 coins 90 Arrows * 12 coins ea. * .91 = 990 coins 1 Dagger * 1250 coins ea. * .77 = 963 coins
Dungeon diving is the most common and most profitable method of making money, but it's also one of the most dangerous. It's pretty much what it sounds like—diving into one of the many dungeons of Cyrodiil, killing the inhabitants, and looting their bodies and raiding their treasure chests in search of loot. Most dungeons contain a boss chest that tends to hold particularly high-quality loot.
- All dungeons will respawn in 72-73 hours of game time, as long as you do not visit the dungeon in those hours. This means most of the inhabitants will be back and most of the treasure chests will be filled again.
Respawning is an important feature of the game but it also has downsides. Enemies that you have killed (and any loot on their corpses) will disappear and be replaced by living creatures, so if you managed to kill a powerful enemy that held valuable loot, you must remove the loot. If you are over-encumbered, be sure to return to the area in less than 72-73 hours or your loot will be gone and you will have to fight them again! In some dungeons like Rockmilk Cave there is so much loot that you can return several times to find more items to sell to merchants. The 72-73 hour timeout will reset each time you enter.
Items that you yourself have dropped will never disappear during this respawning process, so a good hint is to always pick things up you may want to carry later and drop them again on the ground. This is especially true for weapons that are in the hands of your enemies when they die. When an enemy archer dies, the bow he was carrying falls to the ground and can be picked up without touching the corpse. However, unless you pick up the weapon yourself and drop it again, it will disappear when the area respawns.
Each dungeon contains a certain type of enemy which determines the type of loot found inside. The dungeon's type must be considered to maximize your chances of finding loot that is valuable enough to sell and/or to upgrade your own equipment.
Bandits — Bandits mostly offer leveled light armor and blunt weapons with Bandit Bowmen offering bows and arrows. While any bandit's weapon can be enchanted, only bandit ringleaders can have enchanted armor, and also have the highest chance of having an enchanted weapon. This makes bandit dungeons an excellent choice for diving in, especially if you use blunt weapons and/or light armor. Bandits can occasionally carry poisons, and it can be hard to kill them before they use the poison on you, so be prepared.
Conjurers — In Conjurer dungeon chests, you will find alchemy ingredients and apparatus, staves, and scrolls. Conjurers themselves carry daggers (never enchanted), staves (most commonly on Adepts), and 3-6 leveled Restore Health/Restore Magicka potions. If your max encumbrance is relatively low, then these are a decent choice if you are prepared to run down the conjurers while avoiding their summons.
Goblins — The mines and caves inhabited by goblins are generally a bad idea if you are solely looking to make gold. They are one of the harder dungeon monsters to slay, they are minimally equipped, and their loot lists provide poor loot.
- There are a few exceptions: if you are looking for arrows, raid one of the tribes with archers. Also, on rare occasions goblin caves may contain valuable weapons. Goblin Staffs may be looted with a base value of just under 7000.
- Be sure to search around on the ground, not only in chests. Rare items can be found in tents or seemingly worthless rooms.
Marauders — Infiltrating an area inhabited by Marauders offers mostly heavy armor and bladed weapons. Any Marauder can carry an enchanted weapon, while only Marauder Warlords carry enchanted armor. Raiding marauders solely as a source of income may not be worth it because they are harder to slay than bandits and heavy armor generally has a poor value ratio. However, if you use heavy armor and blades these are a viable choice.
Monsters — Magically inclined creatures dwell in these dungeons along with other animals. These creatures offer rare ingredients and generally the best chance for enchanted items in treasure chests. Monster habitats are excellent choices for a treasure run. At higher levels, the majority of monsters will be several levels below your own, and will be easy to slay.
Necromancers — These citizens of Cyrodiil love to raise the dead and usually cohabit with them. They carry maces (never enchanted), staves (most commonly on Adepts), 2-3 scrolls, 2-4 potions, and possibly enchanted clothing. Their chests mostly contain alchemy ingredients and equipment, scrolls, and soul gems. If you are prepared to deal with their summoned undead and powerful ranged Destruction magic, their dwellings are a good choice.
Planes of Oblivion — The Planes of Oblivion probably have the most abundant treasure in the game. The Daedra and Dremora which reside here carry a wide variety of rare alchemical ingredients, scrolls, and weapons; the chests frequently offer a nice selection of loot; Sigil Stones can only be obtained by closing Oblivion Gates. Be warned, though: they are generally the most challenging.
Undead — While the undead haunt several places around the world, it should be noted that undead are frequently found with vampires and necromancers as well. Places containing only undead offer a fairly general spread of possible loot, including soul gems, magical attire, and jewelry. The undead themselves can carry various weapons, including staves at higher levels, and always one of three valuable ingredients. These dungeons are an okay choice for loot runs.
Vampires — Vampire nests contain chests with a pretty general spread of loot. Vampires have a wide variety of character classes, so the weapons they carry are essentially a complete spread of all the possibilities, although they will usually wear light armor. Unlike Bandits and Marauders, any vampire can have enchanted weapons or armor, although Vampire Matriarchs/Patriarchs have the highest chance. As long as you are prepared to cure diseases or become a vampire yourself, vampire dungeons can be some of the best choices for gold-making runs.
- Your maximum encumbrance should be a factor when selecting a dungeon, unless you are also seeking better equipment for your own use. Remember the value ratio and its rules of thumb and exceptions from above.
- Your character's level greatly impacts the quality of loot in dungeons. For example, Necromancer and Conjurer Dungeons are excellent choices at higher levels but will offer less valuable loot than dungeons with better equipped enemies (Bandits, Marauders, and Vampires) at lower levels. If you are a lower level character, remember the value of all the practice you are getting too. You may wish to consider the quests below as well.
- Unless you have a high Armorer skill, repairing the damage to your equipment can be a drain on your income. You could stick to magically-inclined dungeons like conjurers and necromancers to reduce armor damage.
There are several quests and quest lines that can be completed for gold. Some quests are more useful to low level players because both difficulty and pay are fixed, whereas loot from dungeons and other quests are leveled. Higher level players would best use their time completing leveled quests or by quickly completing multiple quests in the same area.
The Arena fights and payouts are fixed until you become Grand Champion. After that, you can fight your choice of one to three leveled creatures once a week. This payout is level-dependent (40-1490 gold times the number of creatures you fought).
Collecting Ayleid Statues for Umbacano will net you 500 gold per statue, plus 5,000 gold when you deliver the last statue (a total of 10,000 gold for the whole quest, not including the loot and gold you'll receive from the Ayleid ruins the statues reside in). Make sure to deliver the first statue you find to Umbacano to maximize your payout. This is the most lucrative activity early in the game due to the value of the Varla and Welkynd stones in the ruins. After delivering two statues, Umbacano gives you locations for five more.
Black Bow Bandits
After completing Knights of the White Stallion, Count Marius Caro of Leyawiin offers a reward of 100 gold for each Black Bow you bring him. These bows are obtained by killing Black Bow Bandits in Rockmilk Cave, Telepe, and the first level of Undertow Cavern. The bandits respawn meaning that there are infinite Black Bows for you to obtain. See the Black Bow Bandits quest page for more information.
You are paid 500 gold for each dead drop order. There are 7 dead drops in all, amounting to 3500 gold.
Once you complete all the quests for the Fighters Guild, you are promoted to Master and you will receive a cash stipend and random enchanted items each month in your Guildmaster's Chest.
Golden Paycheck Each Week
After completing Goblin Trouble, the farmers you saved fill their "Reward Chest" each week, just for you.
If you have the Knights of the Nine official download, you can make quite a bit of gold by starting the Pilgrimage quest. Go to Anvil and talk to the Prophet. Accept his quest and you will be authorized to enter the private chambers in chapels. Go to every chapel in all cities and take all valuable books, especially volumes of The Song of Pelinal. You will also find huge amounts of food to make potions. After looting every chapel and selling all books and potions, you will have a nice amount of gold.
Profitable Beginner Quests
In Paranoia, you can quickly and easily gain over 1000 gold with little or no fighting.
Janus Hassildor will reward you a large leveled amount of gold if you provide a vampire cure for his wife. (In fact, he will give you the reward as many times as you ask for it! This gives you access to unlimited wealth, although it feels like cheating.) There is one catch: to start this quest you must become a vampire, at least for a little while.
- This issue has been addressed by version 1.1.511 of the Official Oblivion Patch; You will only receive the quest reward once.
- To maximize your earnings, it is possible to use the Enchanted Chest to duplicate vampire dust. Roland will buy all of the new samples without question.
Whispers of Death
Upon completion of the Dark Brotherhood quest line, you can visit the Lucky Old Lady statue in Bravil once a week to receive a name and place to take back to Arquen for 200 gold. You can do this every week for the remainder of the game.
While a variety of skills is required to dungeon dive, there are a few particular skills that can be employed to make money. While these are generally less profitable, they also carry significantly reduced risk.
Alchemy ingredients can be found all over Cyrodiil—from the most remote areas to inside the walls of the Imperial City. These ingredients are worth something by themselves, but combining them into potions will increase your income.
Valuable ingredients can be obtained by slaying some monsters. Ogre Teeth, Daedra Hearts, Daedra Venin and Silk, Minotaur Horn, Fire/Frost/Void Salts, and Vampire Dust are all examples. However, potions made using these ingredients are no more valuable than potions made using mundane ingredients.
Procedure to make some quick cash with alchemy:
- Grab your highest-quality mortar & pestle (other alchemy apparatus are unnecessary, since the other items do not increase the monetary value of the potions).
- Locate a vendor that sells alchemy ingredients and stand as close as possible to him/her.
- Buy all the ingredients you can get that cost less than half of what you can sell a potion for (typically those less than five gold at low Alchemy levels). Do not be alarmed if you are over-encumbered.
- Make as many potions as you can from your newly purchased ingredients. (Restore Fatigue is a common one.) Try to keep each potion consisting of only two ingredients maximizing your potion output, allowing for the most gold later. This can also help level your Alchemy skill while giving you plenty of items to trade.
- Sell your new potions back to the vendor. (If you're in the Imperial City or have high Mercantile skill, as long as you're not overburdened, choose the best vendor nearby, not necessarily the ingredient vendor.)
Alternatively, you can visit some of the large farms across Cyrodiil, such as Lord Drad's Estate north of Anvil, Odiil Farm near Chorrol, or the Skingrad vineyards, and make potions from the crops. As they all have "Restore Fatigue" as their primary effect and are found for free, in high concentrations, this can be a very successful moneyspinner, with hundreds of potions being made and sold for relatively little effort.
If you have the Shivering Isles expansion and have started the Ritual of Mania, an infinite amount of Greenmote can be obtained from the Greenmote Pile in the Greenmote Silo. If you are a master alchemist, Greenmote can be used to create a poison which can then be sold in Bliss or Crucible.
If you have the Wizard's Tower download, check the garden located in the Living Quarters every few days for an enormous stockpile of plants, including rare Oblivion plants. Use Aurelinwae from the Mystic Emporium, to sell off your many potions and poisons. She has 100 disposition and a very low Mercantile skill (6), getting you the most gold for your items. Doing this over and over is an easy way to gain a lot of gold very quickly.
Note: Carrying large quantities of ingredients around can over-encumber even the strongest of adventurers so the Value Ratio should still be applied. Making potions out of ingredients decreases your encumbrance (although there are some quirks with potion weights). For more information, see the Useful Potions Guide.
Stealing combines Sneak with Security to obtain items illicitly. While you don't need to get past locks to steal items of value, items of higher value are frequently under lock-and-key. An alternative to Security would be an Open spell. The Burglary guide provides tips on how to be an effective thief.
After joining the Thieves Guild, you gain access to fences who will buy your stolen items. You can make a little gold from robbing a modest house, but you will make more by breaking into a shop or upper class house. A thief's timing is crucial if he/she is to be successful—the building's occupant(s) must either be away or asleep so the thief stands a good chance of remaining undetected.
Some target suggestions for the budding larcenist:
- The castles in each town.
- Red Diamond Jewelry in the Imperial City Market District.
- The counters with jewelry respawn.
- The Gilded Carafe in the Imperial City Market District.
- The Mystic Emporium in the Imperial City Market District (contains many soul gems, scrolls, and even a couple of pieces of enchanted clothing).
- The Mages Guild halls in each town. If you are a member of the Mages Guild, you won't need a fence to unload the loot.
- The counters with alchemy apparatuses respawn.
- The Fighters Guild halls in each town. If you are a member of the Fighters Guild, you won't need a fence to unload the loot.
- Several stores and houses in the Imperial City have concealed entrances in the Sewer System that provide easy access to the basement storerooms.
- Any bookstore in Cyrodiil has many books on shelves that can easily be taken and sold for a good price. Most of these books have a weight of 1 as well, making them optimal for low encumbrance players.
Additional Income from Skills
- You can combine stealing and alchemy to steal food and other ingredients and "launder" them by turning them into potions, with no fence required.
Unloading Your Goods
- Read the article about commerce to get a better understanding about base prices.
- Raise the disposition of the merchant as high as possible by using any combination of the following:
- Temporarily raise your Mercantile skill through one of the following means:
- Summoning a creature and casting Absorb Mercantile on it. You can cast the spell twice without it attacking.
- Wearing items such as Boots of the Swift Merchant and Imperial Breeches.
- Sithian's Web, obtainable with a combined Fame and Infamy of 40.
- When you gain access to a Spellmaking Altar, a custom spell like Bargaining can max out your Mercantile.
- Haggle as hard as possible. The better you haggle, the more gold you make selling items and the more gold you save when buying items. Important: The less skilled an NPC is at Mercantile, the harder you can haggle—always use this to your advantage.
- Every merchant has a limit on each transaction, but he/she has infinite gold as long as you keep each transaction under this limit. This is important to keep in mind to maximize your earnings.
- Merchants will only buy certain types of items (specified on the individual merchant pages) until you reach Journeyman in Mercantile. Exploit the Journeyman perk by selling everything you can to the NPC with the lowest Mercantile skill you can find.