Money! In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the universal currency is gold, of course, and every character wants to be able to obtain gold to buy new weapons and armor, craft spells, complete some quests, buy his or her way out of jail, purchase hammers to repair armor with, and do a myriad of other things. But how to make gold? I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but in the game, you will never actually have a day-to-day occupation; instead, you will need to find your own means of consistently making money. Here are a few:
The Arena is a nice and simple way to make gold, especially if you have a level-18 or higher character. For each match that you win at the initial Brawler rank, you will win 50 gold, and that payment increases by an additional 50 gold with each advancement in rank; plus, you will win 500 gold once you defeat the Grey Prince. Afterwards, you will be able to participate in weekly beast matches, and your payment is calculated by the level of your character. The higher level your character is, the more money is guaranteed; you can make over 4,000 gold per match if you keep it up!
Stealing is a business that never runs dry in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Before you start randomly breaking into places and stealing things, you need to join the Thieves’ Guild, just because you cannot sell stolen items to anyone except a fence (yes, the merchants manage to figure out that everything you stole is stolen, for some reason). Once you have completed your entry quest (By stealing the diary or the sword), you can start breaking into houses. A little tip for this: do not simply take everything in sight. Look for items such as silver weapons, jewelery, stashes of gold, and some silver items such as vases and carafes. Look at the value of the item that you are about to steal, but also look at its weight. For example, if you see a shield that weighs 27 pounds and is worth 150 gold, take it over the axe that weighs 30 pounds and is worth 120 gold; you want to be able to make your little stealth-raids and break-ins more efficient.
If you don’t want to steal, you can always try plundering ruins and mines. This works best if your character is a really strong fighter-type; however, some magic characters and stealth characters can make good treasure hunters as well. In Ayleid ruins, some items you may want to take in large quantities are welkynd stones. For being worth 50 gold, these are surprisingly light: they only weigh 1 pound apiece! Let’s say your character has a strength score of sixty, which means that his or her capacity is 300; if 75 of that is taken up by weapons and armor, that means he or she can carry 224 (you can never be at full capacity) welkynd stones, and if each one is worth 50 gold, will be carrying 11,200 gold worth of stones. Granted that you probably won’t find 224 welkynd stones in one place, this shows you how efficient they are for earning you money.
But when you don’t like plundering to earn your gold, you can try working for a guild. I already mentioned the Thieves’ Guild, but it also pays out for each assignment you complete. The Fighters’ Guild pays per contract as well, but you just move from one contract to the next, unlike in the Thieves’ Guild, in which you need to acquire a certain level of status by selling a certain amount of hot property from your fence in order to “unlock” the next quest. The Dark Brotherhood pays out for each contract as well, and as a plus, you get to kill people! Plus, you get some cool stuff, such as the Black Band, from the Dark Brotherhood, that you can sell for a lot of gold…not to mention the massive amounts of rewards you get after the Purification quest. Of course, the Mages’ Guild is run by cheapskates, and you do not get paid for saving the world from the evil Necromancers; instead, the Altars of Enchanting and Spellmaking charge you through the nose after you work so hard to unlock them. Yet, you could always rummage through the cupboards once you are part of the guild, and take their valuable stuff to sell.
Killing people is a very good way to make money. No, not just murdering people during break-ins, but killing bandits and marauders, especially at higher levels, is very lucrative. At higher levels, they carry Glass and Daedric armor; one Daedric cuirass is worth 4800 gold and weighs 60 pounds; the full set is worth over 13,000 gold, and weighs 162 pounds. Kill one bandit wearing just a Daedric cuirass and boots, and you’ve made yourself 6,000 gold! It helps if you’re a magic character and won’t be tempted to wear the armor; it is even more helpful if you have nothing to regularly spend money on, such as repairing armor and weapons, so that you can save up for larger purchases, such as homes. If you like traveling through the wilderness and clearing out forts and ruins, here’s a tip: start walking in one direction through an area that you have not found any locations in, and once you have successfully found and “cleansed” a fort or ruin, fast travel back to a city, sell your loot, and fast travel back to that last location to continue exploring in the wilderness.
There’s also a much nastier way to make money that will not land you in jail. You will need to have Illusion as one of your major skills in order for this to work, or at least have it trained to 25. Buy the spell “Touch of Rage” from Calindil in the Imperial City Market District, Mystic Emporium, find a large group of people, and start casting it on them. The spell makes people start fighting, and they may even start fighting you if you’re the closest target. It will be a bloody mess, and you want to make sure not to actually hit anybody until someone starts hitting you, but eventually, everyone will kill each other, and you can loot their corpses. Or, if you just wanted to make an innocent man with shiny armor fight you, this is a good way to trick him into attacking you and eventually getting killed by the guards. I played through the first fifteen levels of a magic character doing this; not only did his Illusion score reach 100, but he became insanely rich (he has over 100k now), and killed off some people who could have been useful later on. To add to that, do not use this method if you like doing quests: you may end up killing people that can lead you on interesting quests.
Those are the best ways of making money in Oblivion. There are some quests, such as the Black Bow Bandit quest in Leyawiin, that will end with you being “hired” by someone to keep delivering a certain item to them, in this case, the bows of bandits that the Count has waged a war against. Other examples of this include the Order of the Virtuous Blood quest, which, if you choose to kill Seridur instead of Roland, will give you 250 gold for each handful of vampire dust that you bring to the faction’s hall. Hint: if you manage to become the Archmage of the Mages’ Guild, you will be granted access to the Enchanted Chest, which allows you to make ten copies of an ingredient after a day, this can be very useful for this specific quest. Just drop the vampire dust in there, wait a day, and retrieve it: now, you can make 2500 gold after obtaining one handful of it! Also, don’t try this with black bows: the chest cleans itself of any other items besides the one ingredient that you first placed inside. Good hunting!