Oblivion:Quest Timing

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While there is no level requirement for most quests, there are some quests which should be done early, and others which you are better off saving until later. With others, it can be helpful to start them early and hold off finishing until later, and there are certain quests that conflict with each other if being performed at the same time. This page attempts to clarify some of these issues.

Contents

[edit] Quests to do Early

There are several reasons why it may be advantageous to do quests early. Some quests will provide you with useful services that will make the game easier, some quests have allies that are easier to keep alive at lower levels, some quests have quirks in the leveled rewards, and some quests provide unleveled awards.

[edit] Quests that Provide Useful Services

Zero Visibility
You should aim to complete this quest straight after completing the tutorial. It's incredibly easy and will earn you a free bed and drawers to stash your stuff in, without having to save up for a house!
Deliver the Amulet
You have the option to ask Prior Maborel for his horse, providing you with a free horse early on. In addition, Jauffre gives you a collection of free weapons, armor, potions and scrolls and the chest you collect them from functions as a safe container. You can also receive a skill book from Brother Piner, and a free Repair Hammer from Eronor.
Finding the Thieves Guild and May the Best Thief Win
Even if you don't plan on being a career thief, doing these two quests early on can save you a lot of hassle later on, because they give you access to a Doyen who can remove any bounty on your head, and a Fence who can remove those stolen-tags on any loot you may be carrying - for a price - and is a good source of lockpicks. Compared to the prospect of going to jail or paying a fine and having any ill-gotten goods confiscated, the Infamy point you get here is completely worth it.
All the Mages Guild Recommendation quests
You'll probably want to have access to the Arcane University as early as possible, since it gives you access to the Enchanting and Spellmaking altars. Even if you do not plan on specializing in magic, you'll probably need to use some spells, and the ones you make yourself are usually preferable to the ones you can buy. Enchanted gear is of course useful for everybody.
  • Alternatively, the Wizard's Tower official plug-in provides access to an Enchanting and Spellmaking Altar, but without any of the other benefits of Mages Guild membership.
  • Once you make it into the Mages Guild, you may want to hold off continuing the quest line in order to receive a better quality Mage's Staff. At levels 15 and higher, a Mage's Staff of Destruction does damage comparable to the most powerful staves in the game (80 points, compared for example to 99 points for Apotheosis). However, it uses much less energy for each strike (80, compared to 250 for Apotheosis or 159 for Staff of the Battlemage). Therefore, the Mage's Staff can easily exceed the total damage capacity of any other staff in extended mage battle.

[edit] Quests with Allies

The Battle for Castle Kvatch
More than any other quest in the game, this one punishes those who put it off for even a few levels. Even at level 5, most of the guards and Legion troops will probably get killed before you even make it to the castle. At level 25 or higher, you will face dozens of Xivilai and Storm Atronachs. That said, the quest is technically optional. Also see the entry under Quests to Save for Later. Note that the quest reward is leveled so in doing the quest early, you forego one of the better versions of the Kvatch Cuirass.
The Desolate Mine and The Killing Field
Both of these quests require you to accompany perishable NPCs into battle with Goblins, and in both cases you have minimal control over where and when they fight. Due to the nature of level scaling for NPCs and goblins, the higher your level, the more likely the NPCs will die and your reward will be compromised. See the quest pages for hints on how to keep your companions alive. Note that for The Killing Field you may want to put off collecting your leveled reward until later; read the next section on leveled equipment rewards. Also, if you have rescued Martin Septim before you begin this quest, 10-25 Oblivion gates will start opening when you return to Weynon Priory to meet Rallus Odiil and Antus Odiil (see Find the Heir for more details). For that reason, it may be advisable to do this quest a bit later, i.e., at about level 5. (If you leave it later than that then the chances that the NPCs will survive will be much lower.)
Mazoga the Orc and Knights of the White Stallion
Besides the fact that doing these quests later usually results in Mazoga getting killed, there are two more reasons to do them early. The Black Bows you get from the second quest are not leveled, and better than any other bows you can find at low levels. If you're into Marksmanship, getting one of these early will give you a nice boost early on. Just remember not to give all of them away to the Count. You can even enchant one to keep him from taking it when you talk to him. The count will also give you the key to White Stallion Lodge, which is a free house where you can sleep and store your belongings.

[edit] Quests that Provide Unleveled Rewards

All the Daedric shrine quests, especially Namira
Unlike most quest equipment rewards in the game, the equipment awarded by the Daedric shrine quests are of fixed quality and enchantment, regardless of your level. Hence, most of them are at their most effective if you collect them as soon as you meet the level requirement.
It is recommended to start Namira's quest while your Personality is below 60 because if it is any higher than that, starting this quest becomes more difficult (as explained in more detail on the quest page).
All the Arena matches
The Arena matches allow your character to level up without having to do any other quests that give leveled rewards, as the gold you receive from them is fixed until after you beat the Grand Champion and start facing monsters. When you are done with the Arena, you will probably be at a much higher level and be able to receive better rewards for other quest lines. However, you might not want to do the Grand Champion match (specifically, Origin of the Gray Prince) until later, see below.
A Knife in the Dark
This quest gives you early access to M'raaj-Dar, a Novice level merchant who sells a number of unique items and spells. It also gives you Shrouded Armor, which is a useful piece of extra light, non-leveled armor of similar quality to chainmail. It is necessary, however, to sleep twice for this quest which is obviously not good for those trying to avoid leveling up.
The Collector and A Venerable Vintage
These quests require lots of dungeon exploring, and they are full of enemies. The rewards for both quests aren't leveled, and if you do them later, you will have to fight more and stronger enemies. However, with The Collector you should not go on to Secrets of the Ayleids as it provides leveled items (see below).
Fighters Guild quests
There are two Fighters Guild quests that have non-leveled rewards that you may want to get as early as possible:
More Unfinished Business
It's a little hard to do this one early, as there are several Fighters Guild quests which must be done first. But when you do, the leveled Ring of Aegis that you get as a reward from this quest is significantly better than what you can find in random loot at the same level. For example, doing the quest at level 10 will net you a Grand Ring of Aegis, which otherwise you would not be able to find until at least level 14.
Azani Blackheart
Like More Unfinished Business, this quest is hard to do early. However, completing it nets you a very nice enchanted elven claymore, along with a nearly complete set of elven armor. This loot is not leveled, so you'll get it regardless of level.
The Ghost Ship of Anvil
The "leveled" sword you get as the quest reward is not really leveled - every version has the same stats. So might as well get it early, as it's a fairly decent beginner sword for not too much effort; you can always get the town guards to do the work for you, after all.
  • PC Only This bug is fixed by the Unofficial Oblivion Patch. The reward is now leveled correctly and the best version of the sword is available only at level 30 and over.
Go Fish
Another particularly useful quest to do early. The reward - the Jewel of the Rumare - is an unleveled ring that provides Water Breathing and a slight Athletics boost, and all you need to do to get it is kill a few Slaughterfish! The Rumare Slaughterfish also do more damage than most other creatures at later levels, so are easier to handle early on.
Two Sides of the Coin
It's somewhat inconvenient (if you care about your criminal record) that you have to get arrested at least once in order to do this quest. But it does earn you a free set of Imperial Guard chainmail, as well as a silver longsword, both of which are a couple grades better than any other equipment you can find very early in the game. And as a bonus, it gets you an invitation to join the Thieves Guild.

[edit] Quests That Have Quirks in the Leveled Rewards

Fighters Guild quests
There are two Fighters Guild quests that have quirks related to the level at which you do them. Because of the order in which you are required to go through these quests, there is no way to get the best possible reward from both of the quests. The Mind and Body Ring is in general more useful than the Amulet of Interrogation, so it's probably most advantageous to do these quests around level 10. The quests, in the order that you must do them are:
Mystery at Harlun's Watch
The leveled Mind and Body Ring that you get as a reward from this quest has its leveled items out of order. Doing the quest at level 10-19 will give you a better ring than doing it at level 20+.
Information Gathering
A later quest in the Fighters Guild line, the leveled Amulet of Interrogation you get as a reward from this quest has its leveled items out of order. Doing the quest at level 5-9 will give you a better amulet than doing it at level 10+.
Fingers of the Mountain
Fingers of the Mountain (the Chorrol Mages Guild Recommendation quest) is best done early. Finger of the Mountain will cost an insanely high amount of Magicka if you get it later, far more than it would cost to make the same spell yourself at the Spellmaking altar. Prior to level 5, the casting cost is equal to a self-made spell, but afterwards, it increases astronomically. If you don't plan on using the spell, it doesn't really matter, but it can be a good offense spell for an early character.

[edit] Other Reasons

Seeking Your Roots
Best to take this early just for the annoyance factor. Searching for Nirnroots while being attacked left and right by high level creatures is a pain. Doing it while there's nothing more threatening than mud crabs on the shores is much easier. Also, the quest requires a great deal of exploration, which can help you find a lot of new locations early on, helpful for fast-traveling later.
A Brush with Death
Level 1 is by far the easiest time to do this quest, based on the damage from the leveled poisons vs. the health of the leveled creatures you need to use them on. There are breaks every four levels, but it never again gets as easy as it was on level 1. There is a chart on the quest page detailing this. Keep in mind however, that the reward you get is also leveled.
The Pilgrimage of the Nine Divines
If you have the Knights of the Nine add-on installed, you may want to do this quest before you gain any Infamy points, so that the KotN quest line and the Pilgrimage don't interfere with one another (for example, if you gain Infamy while doing the Pilgrimage but after doing the questline). While there's no reason you can't do it later, it's probably easiest to do it early on, before joining the Thieves Guild or the Dark Brotherhood.
Marksman Master Training
It is a good idea to boost your Marksman skill to 70 as early as possible so that you can complete the master training as early as possible. The reason for this is that Alawen can be killed by wildlife/Daedra, and the chances of her being killed will be higher if you are at a high level (since enemies scale with you).

[edit] Quests to Save for Later

In general, any quest with a leveled equipment reward
In most cases, when you receive a piece of equipment as a reward for completing a quest, its power and enchantment are adjusted so that it is neither overpowered nor underpowered at your current level. Unfortunately, without using mods, the reward cannot be traded in for a better version after you have leveled, and what was a useful item at level 3 is usually useless at level 23. Some quest rewards have unique properties, and earning them at an early level essentially squanders them. Some quests simply award a leveled amount of gold or generic enchanted trinket that is available elsewhere; these are better candidates for early questing as completing them early does not confer any permanent disadvantages. Also, the level of the reward is usually not determined until you collect it, so it is often possible to do the "work" of a quest at a low level when it will be easy, and wait to formally finish it until you are of high enough level to collect the best reward.
The Battle for Castle Kvatch
If you didn't do this quest at the start of the game, save it until your character is extremely powerful as you will face a range of powerful Daedra and it can be a challenge for even a mid-level player. If you do the quest at this stage, don't expect any of your Imperial Guard helpers to survive but you should at least be able to finish it.
Corruption and Conscience
You may want to wait until you have completed Defense of Bruma in the Main Quest line to start Corruption and Conscience. This allows you to have Ulrich Leland as an ally during the Defense of Bruma (if you also complete The Wayward Knight as part of Allies for Bruma). Since Ulrich is an Essential NPC, he can be a particularly valuable ally.
Dark Brotherhood quests
Besides the fact that most of the rewards you receive for doing these quests are leveled (you won't receive the "best" item until you're level 30!), doing the Dark Brotherhood quests will net you quite a number of Infamy points, which can be somewhat inconvenient early on if you haven't earned a comparable number of Fame points as well. This applies in a lesser extent to the Thieves Guild questline as well, though most of those rewards are not leveled, and the net reward for completing them all is an item which makes your Infamy more or less irrelevant. For this reason, it might be best advised to finish the Thieves Guild questline before starting the Dark Brotherhood quests.
Whodunit? in particular should be saved for later, as it gives your Acrobatics a +2 skill boost, possibly beyond its normal means of 100. Acrobatics (along with Athletics) is one of only two skills that continue to provide benefits past level 100.
On the other hand, there are definite benefits to doing the Dark Brotherhood quests early, such as obtaining the Shrouded Armor and Shadowmere. Completing the Pilgrimage quest for the Knights of the Nine plug-in will reset your infamy points to zero.
Find the Heir
After delivering Martin to Weynon Priory and completing Find the Heir, up to 25 Oblivion Gates will start opening up in random places all over Cyrodiil. These can be a real hassle for a low-level character, and it may be in your best interest to hold off until later.
  • Later in the Main Quest, even more hassles emerge. After Dagon Shrine, Oblivion Gates become far more common and Mythic Dawn agents begin to attack you on sight.
    • However, it can also be advantageous to do this quest early so you can begin discovering the locations of Oblivion Gates while going about your normal leveling, and then come back to them with fast travel when you feel ready. This way you won't have to run all over Cyrodiil a second time later on to spawn random Oblivion Gates. Also, the Fame points that are garnered from closing Oblivion Gates can help a starting character achieve a higher Fame rating, which can help offset the Infamy garnered from Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood quests.
A Plot Revealed
After starting this quest, Volanaro of the Bruma Mages Guild will no longer be available to you. He is the only vendor in the game that sells the Summon Dremora Lord spell. So, if you are a conjurer or ever plan on mastering the skill, you may want to buy this spell from Volanaro before starting this quest.
Origin of the Gray Prince
If you wait until your Athletics skill is at 100, the Gray Prince's Training you receive as a reward for the quest will permanently boost your Athletics skill above 100. Athletics is one of only two skills (the other is Acrobatics) that continues to provide benefits after 100.
The Path of Dawn
Although the quest has no reward as such, Raven Camoran will be wearing a magic ring which you can loot when you kill him. At level 22 or higher, this will be a Mundane Ring, one of the most coveted pieces of equipment in the game for its powerful Resist Magic and Reflect Spell enchantments. At level 20 or 21, he will be equipped with an Elemental Ring, which while not quite as powerful is still a very useful piece of equipment. Below level 20, his ring will be much lower quality. One of the Mythic Dawn agents escorting him will also have an enchanted ring, and the best random rings don't appear until level 20.
The Pilgrimage of the Nine Divines
If you choose not to do the Pilgrimage early, you may want to wait until after you have completed the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood. In this way, you will not have to worry about gaining any Infamy due to the quests you do.
Sins of the Father
After completing this quest, Fathis Ules will no longer be available as a Thieves Guild Fence. Thus you may want to wait on it. Also, the rewards from this quest are leveled, and quite valuable (particularly the Escutcheon of Chorrol).
Another option is to only do the quest up to the point where you retrieve the Honorblade of Chorrol (which is a zero weight ebony longsword); this part can be done very early if you wish to use the Honorblade of Chorrol. Just don't turn it in for the quest reward until you are done using it and are ready for the leveled reward.
The Sword of the CrusaderKotN
During this quest, Ohtesse, one of the advanced trainers of Restoration at Cheydinhal's Chapel of Arkay will be killed. Since the other advanced trainer, Marz is also killed in an earlier Knights of the Nine quest, and since her replacement Beem-Kiurz will not provide you with a recommendation allowing you to continue your training with the master trainer Oleta, doing this quest prior to receiving a training recommendation from one of the two advanced trainers will make it impossible for you to receive master-level training in Restoration.
Secrets of the Ayleids
All three items in this quest (Ayleid Crown of Lindai, Ayleid Crown of Nenalata, and Staff of Nenalata) are leveled and therefore this quest should be saved for later.

[edit] Quests to Start but not Finish

[edit] Quests that Provide Followers while Active

Den of Thieves
Maglir is acquired as a follower during this quest and is a useful fighter. He is also essential at this point, so he cannot be killed.
Legacy Lost
Guilbert and Reynald Jemane are capable fighters who will follow you to Weatherleah during this quest. However, you do not need to go there right away. Instead, you can let them follow you around and fight by your side wherever you go. They are unkillable during this quest, so you don't have to worry about protecting them.
Azani Blackheart
While you may not order Modryn Oreyn to "wait", he is still a powerful unkillable ally - far better than the Jemane brothers - and he can be useful for helping to fight by your side.
Skingrad Recommendation
Erthor is a pretty handy ally to have around, with a decent array of magical defenses at his disposal. He can't be killed during this quest, and will follow you anywhere and fight at your side. The only downside is you'll eventually need to finish this quest in order to get into the Arcane University.
Weynon Priory
As with Legacy Lost and Skingrad Recommendation, not completing this quest gives you powerful unkillable companions - in this case, Martin and Jauffre.
Whom Gods Annoy
For the duration of this quest, you possess the Staff of the Everscamp and its four permanent Everscamps. While the scamps may get in the way sometimes, they are great for power leveling and often distract attackers. However, the tradeoff is a 20 point Speed penalty.

[edit] Quests that Grant Useful Items while Active

Clavicus Vile
At the end of this quest you get to choose between holding onto Umbra or handing it over (and receiving the Masque of Clavicus Vile as a reward). If you choose to keep Umbra it stops being a quest item and becomes heavy. By delaying the end, you can hold on to one of the best swords in the game at zero weight. However, you will eventually need to finish the quest to do the final Daedric shrine quest (Hermaeus Mora). Or you can just say you will leave in peace to Umbra, then go back and get it and it will be weightless and a quest item.
Sins of the Father
The Honorblade of Chorrol is a powerful and durable weapon, perfect for a sword-wielding character at lower levels. It has zero weight during the quest, which leaves more room in your inventory for loot, and it drains very little Fatigue when you swing it. An extra bonus is that this sword can damage ghosts, will-o-the-wisps and wraiths, which otherwise require a silver, Daedric, summoned, enchanted or poisoned weapon. You might wish to hold on to this sword indefinitely. Being a quest item, it will even stay in your inventory during the Dagon Shrine quest.
When the Vow Breaks
The leveled Rockshatter that you get during this quest is a pretty nice weapon to have around, far more so than the paltry gold you get for completing the quest. So you can leave this quest open until you find a better weapon, if you're into blunt weapons. Another advantage is that it's also weightless. As a quest item, it will not be removed from your inventory even when other items are, such as when you are arrested or when you "join" the Mythic Dawn; it is handier in a fight than just fists.
Where Spirits Have Lease
As long as Benirus Manor is haunted, three special ghosts will spawn every time you enter. These ghosts are leveled, but their level only affects their health; they will always have the same slow, weak spells. They can serve as an unlimited source of Ectoplasm and souls. At level 19 or above, they provide Grand souls; they are much easier and more accessible than most other creatures with Grand souls. If you need to store items in Anvil, there are open-topped grain sacks in the Fighters and Mages Guilds which don't respawn, and you can sleep in the town's inn if you want to level up.

[edit] Quests that Conflict

Ahdarji's Heirloom and Sanguine
It is best to complete Ahdarji's Heirloom before doing Sanguine. Ahdarji's Heirloom cannot be completed while you have Sanguine as your current quest. Even after completing Sanguine, Countess Alessia Caro may permanently sit down at the dining room table instead of retiring to her bedroom like she should. See the quest page for possible solutions.
Bravil Recommendation and Through A Nightmare, Darkly
Through A Nightmare, Darkly is not part of the Bravil Recommendation: although both of these quests come from Kud-Ei, they are considered to be two separate quests. This can be confusing at times, as it is possible to accept both quests simultaneously. If you do so, Kud-Ei will automatically head to Henantier's house and stand by his bedside, while you are free to do either quest. However, this may result in errors and make it impossible to finish one of the quests (Kud-Ei may not acknowledge your progress in both quests). Preferably you should finish one of these quests before accepting the other one.
The Collector and Secrets of the Ayleids
After you finish Secrets of the Ayleids, you will not be able to complete The Collector. Instead, find all ten statues and sell them to Umbacano before completing Secrets of the Ayleids.
The Elven Maiden and An Unexpected Voyage
Do not start An Unexpected Voyage while doing The Elven Maiden. Doing so will crash the game; see An Unexpected Voyage for details.
Necromancer's Moon and Repairing the Orrerymod
It is possible during Repairing the Orrery for Bothiel to disappear indefinitely into inaccessible areas. This seems to occur particularly if you are doing this quest and Necromancer's Moon at the same time. See Repairing the Orrery for possible solutions.
No Stone Unturned and Revenge Served Cold
In unpatched versions of the game, there is a bug that can prevent you from completing Revenge Served Cold if you have completed No Stone Unturned. Therefore it is best to do Revenge Served Cold first.
Note: This has been corrected by the Oblivion 1.1.511 patch.
Sanguine and Mazoga the Orc or Knights of the White Stallion
If you have started, but not finished, Mazoga the Orc or Knights of the White Stallion, doing Sanguine may result in Mazoga coming to your aid and getting killed by the guards. This is only a problem if you choose to run from the scene. If you plan on fleeing from Sanguine, it is recommended that you either complete both these quests before starting Sanguine or not start them until after. More information can be found on the Mazoga the Orc quest page.
The Sword of the CrusaderKotN and Restoration Master Training
The trainers who provide you with the master training reference are both killed during the Knights of the Nine quest line: Marz is killed after Nature's Fury and Ohtesse is killed during Sword of the Crusader.
Umaril the UnfeatheredKotN and The Ultimate Heist or A Door in Niben BaySI
Completing the final quest of the Knights of the Nine questline can trigger a bug that prevents your character from being able to sit. This can make it impossible to subsequently complete The Ultimate Heist, during which you must sit to complete the quest. It can also be problematic during A Door in Niben Bay, although in the latter quest, the quest will move forward even if you do not appear to be sitting.
Molag Bal and Conjuration Training
If you have spoken to Amir at all, but have not completed Molag Bal's quest, you will be unable to initiate Olyn Seran's Master Training quest. If you have failed Molag Bal's quest, Seran's will be permanently unavailable.

[edit] Quests that Require Sleep

Several quests require you to go to sleep in order to complete. If you are playing a character that is deliberately keeping a low level in order to keep enemies from leveling, you may wish to perform these quests early, so that you do not level when you sleep. Note that the other quests in the game that require you to sleep do not trigger leveling and therefore are not included in this list (namely, Through A Nightmare, Darkly, Where Spirits Have Lease, and triggering Vampirism).

Anvil Recommendation
You need to sleep at Brina Cross Inn in order to advance this quest.
A Knife in the Dark
You will not receive your first visit from the Dark Brotherhood until you've slept after committing a murder. You need to sleep a second time to finish the quest. It is possible to use one of the quests where you can sleep without triggering a level-up to enter the Dark Brotherhood (Lucien Lachance will even visit you in Henantier's Dreamworld).
An Unexpected Voyage
Sleeping aboard The Bloated Float Inn will activate this quest. You also need to sleep a second time to finish the quest.

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