Oblivion:Crime

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There are many illegal activities available to the criminally-minded in Oblivion. If you are caught doing something illegal, however, you are liable to be punished, both by the law (the City Guards) and by any guilds or other factions you have joined. NPCs will also commit crimes such as stealing or pickpocketing and face similar repercussions.

Overview[edit]

A red icon for an action indicates that performing it is considered to be a crime. For example, a red hand means that the item is owned and picking it up is stealing. If you are witnessed performing a crime you will receive a bounty, and the disposition of the witnesses is likely to decrease. Successfully sneaking while committing a crime will prevent you from being detected.

Regardless of whether a crime is witnessed, the journal keeps track of all your criminal activities. Each illegal activity will incur a specific penalty in gold that is added to your bounty, as well a specific drop in disposition if the witness likes the victim of the crime. A victim will receive double the drop in disposition.

Crime Description Bounty Disposition Modifier
Stealing items Taking or grabbing an owned item is considered a crime, but reading an owned book or note is not. A stolen item will be permanently marked in the inventory with a red icon; see Burglary page for tips on thievery. Viewing items in an owned container, taking your own items out an owned container, and taking items from a dead NPC are not considered stealing.

Certain quests will require stealing items for the quest-giver; a list of such quests can be found here
0.5** multiplied by ItemValue -0.5 multiplied by ItemValue
Lockpicking Being caught attempting to pick the lock of an owned door or container results in a bounty, even if nothing was taken. 5 0
Trespassing When trespassing you will receive a warning and be told to leave the area. If you continue to trespass after 30 seconds you will receive a bounty, and NPCs will call for the guards, or attack you. Certain areas in the game will immediately incur a bounty if you are caught trespassing, e.g. the private quarters of each castle. 5 -20
Pickpocketing Activating an NPC while sneaking will allow you to view their inventory, and take any unequipped items. The chance of being detected is determined by the total weight of the items stolen and your sneak level. Gold, although weightless, also has a relatively high chance of being detected. 25 -25
Assault Initiating combat or using a hostile spell effect on an NPC will incur a bounty, except for Frenzy spells. Attacks by summoned, commanded, or reanimated allies also count as assault. Witnesses to assault will cry out to alert other NPCs, and call for guards.

Self-defense is legal and not considered a crime, and in this situation nearby guards will rush to your defense. Striking an allied NPC, or their owned creatures and summons, will result in multiple verbal warnings. Hitting them more than three times will result in them becoming hostile. If your assault kills the NPC in one hit, you will only receive a bounty for murder.
40 -10
Jailbreak Simply unlocking the door to a jail cell is considered a crime, even if the door is closed. 50 0
Stealing horses Riding an owned horse is considered a crime. Horses are able to report crimes to guards. 250 0
Murder Killing a non-hostile NPC or domestic creature is considered the most serious crime, and results in receiving one infamy point in addition to the bounty. Guards will attempt to arrest you on sight. Killing a guard will always incur a bounty, regardless of witnesses. Victims who respawn will retain the decrease in disposition, meaning that they may attack you next time they see you.

It is not considered murder if the victim is killed by the effects of Poison, enchantments, Poisoned Apples or Chokeberries. Causing environmental deaths, such as drowning or falling to death, will not count as murder.

Committing murder, whether it is unseen or not, will initiate the Dark Brotherhood questline. This is indicated by a message stating "Your killing has been observed by forces unknown." Imperial Legion members may also greet you with: "You. I've seen your kind before. You've got blood on your hands. Keep your blade sheathed, you murdering bastard, or I'll put you down myself."
1000 -50

Increased Fines[edit]

As you will discover in the Corruption and Conscience quest, some Cheydinhal Guards are corrupt. Until that quest is complete, those guards will give you a fine 50% higher than normal; 1500 for a murder, 60 for assault, and so on. After the quest, the fines return to normal.

NPC Crime[edit]

An NPC with low responsibility will resort to stealing food when they need to eat, either by taking an owned item or pickpocketing. If they are caught stealing, the guards will attempt to arrest the NPC. However, NPCs do not have the option of being sent to jail; they can either pay their bounty or resist arrest. Many NPCs will not have enough money to pay the bounty, which means that getting caught results in the guards killing the NPC, even for a petty crime such as stealing a loaf of bread. An exception is when a guard has a script specifically to send the NPC to jail, such as the Thieves Guild quest The Elven Maiden. Placing food near the NPC, or taking any owned food, can prevent them from resorting to stealing. Bribing an NPC can supply them with enough gold to cover any bounties they might incur.

Consequences of Committing Crimes[edit]

Bounties[edit]

When you commit a crime in sight of a witness, a price will be added to your current bounty, and a guard will immediately try to arrest you. You are unable to fast travel or wait while the guards are looking for you. Cyrodiil and Shivering Isles bounties are tracked independently, and can be found on Statistics page of your journal. If the bounty is 0, then you do not currently have a bounty.

Bounties always round up when the value is a decimal, and if the value is zero, it will always be at least one septim. There are a few specific incidents, such as during quests, where these normal bounties do not apply or where different bounties may be assigned.

As a member of the Thieves Guild, you can ask a doyen to bribe the local guards and dismiss your bounty. This will cost you half the amount of your bounty.

Stolen Items[edit]

Stolen items in your inventory will be marked with a red hand. As long as this tag is present, the item is considered stolen. Any stolen items in your possession will be confiscated and retained by the guards if you are arrested. Furthermore, most merchants will not buy stolen items and the items will not appear in the list of goods that can be sold. Only merchants whose responsibility is less than 30 will buy your stolen stock, specifically; Thieves Guild fences (only stolen items sold to fences count towards the Independent Thievery quest), one of the Dark Brotherhood Murderers (after completing the Dark Brotherhood questline), Manheim Maulhand at the Inn of Ill Omen, and Raven Biter at The Choosy Beggar in Bliss. Merchants added by the Thieves Den add-on also have low enough responsibility to purchase stolen items.

Some items will never be marked in red, but will still be added to your Stolen Item count in your journal. This appears to occur particularly in cases where later in the game (after completing a related quest) you will legitimately be able to take the item. Also, gold is never marked as stolen in your inventory. You will still get a bounty if you're caught stealing (and each individual gold piece is counted as a Stolen Item) but it will not be removed from your inventory upon being arrested. Items will not retain a stolen flag if they are enchanted, or used as ingredients to create a Potion. Additionally, selling a stolen item and buying it back again will remove the stolen flag from the item, though this only works for items with a value above zero.

Guild Expulsion[edit]

If you are a guild member and you are caught committing a crime against that guild, your guild membership will be suspended. You can rejoin the guild by speaking to a representative and asking to be forgiven. You will typically be assigned a menial task as penance, although the Arena will simply give you a warning, and the Thieves Guild will demand a blood price. If you are suspended three times (or twice, in the case of the Arena) then you will be permanently expelled from the guild, with no way to rejoin. One exception to this is the Thieves Guild, who only demand a blood price for misconduct and will never expel members.

See the relevant quest pages for more information:

Getting Arrested in Cyrodiil[edit]

If you are witnessed committing a crime, guards will chase you and attempt to arrest you. If you escape the arrest and later return with a low bounty, guards will only arrest you if you speak to them. But if your bounty exceeds 1000 gold then guards will attempt to arrest you on sight. A hostile guard may attempt an arrest if you yield to them.

Wearing the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal will also prompt guards to immediately arrest you, with unique dialogue. As the Gray Fox is a most wanted criminal, the only option is to resist arrest.

If your disposition with the arresting guard is 90 or above, your total bounty is less than 1000, and your infamy is less than 100, the guard will say "Looks like you are in some trouble. Since we are friends, don't worry. I'll look the other way and take care of that fine for you.". You will not be charged, and your bounty will be cleared. A guard's disposition can be increased through the persuasion minigame. Casting a Charm spell before you are arrested can temporarily increase their disposition enough to avoid arrest.

Paying Bounty[edit]

You can clear your bounty with the guards. All stolen items in your possession will be seized and held indefinitely in the prison's Evidence Chest. You will be transported outside the nearest town castle, or the Imperial Prison if you are in the Imperial City.

Going to Jail[edit]

A jail sentence is equal to one day for every 100 gold in your bounty, and serving your sentence will clear the bounty entirely. When you are sent to jail, all of your items are removed and held in the prison's Evidence Chest, except for one lockpick. The Skeleton Key will always be removed. You will be simply garbed in a Sack Cloth Shirt, Pants, and Sandals that may be kept after being released. Quest items will not be removed, but instead hidden in the inventory until leaving the jail. They can still be equipped if they have been assigned to hot-keys prior to being imprisoned.

Serving Your Sentence[edit]

To serve your sentence, sleep in a cell bed. You'll awaken when your time has been served. For each day you serve in jail, one of the following skills will be decreased, up to a maximum of ten skill decreases: Armorer, Athletics, Blade, Block, Blunt, Hand to Hand, Heavy Armor, Alchemy, Alteration (listed in order of decreasing likelihood). The selected skill will be permanently lowered by one point, unless there is only 1 point in that skill.

Upon release you will receive all your items back, except for stolen items. They will remain the Evidence Chest, and must be retrieved to reacquire them. Being sent to jail is one way to initiate the Thieves Guild questline. After your first jail sentence, you will be approached by Myvryna Arano, who delivers an invitation to join the Thieves Guild.

Escaping Jail[edit]

Opening the door to your cell will allow you to attempt an escape. Once the door is unlocked, all Jailors and guards within the jail will attack you on sight, and not accept yields. You will have a single lockpick in your inventory to pick the cell lock with, or you can cast a custom "Open Very Hard Lock" spell on the cell door. Alternatively, you can pickpocket the Jailor for the cell key, which will also open the Evidence Chest. If you are caught pickpocketing, the guard will open the cell door. Another method to escape is to Summon a creature within your cell and provoke it, which will cause the guard to open the cell door and defend you.

To successfully escape, you must leave the prison without being killed. Skingrad's prison has a "Strange Candle" which can be activated to open a secret and safe passage to the castle's wine cellar. Items can be retrieved from a locked Evidence Chest near the exit. If items aren't retrieved before leaving jail, they will become marked as stolen.

Resisting Arrest[edit]

If you resist the arrest, your life is declared forfeit and all guards will attempt to kill you on sight. You will also lose 10 Disposition with the arresting guard.

After resisting arrest, NPCs with a high disposition towards you will fight the guards with you, and most likely die. It's a good idea not to resist arrest unless you know you can escape. Attacking a guard after resisting arrest does not count as an assault. However, the death of any guards will count as murder.

If you change your mind, yielding to a guard will give you the same arrest options as initially.

Getting Arrested in the Shivering Isles[edit]

Golden Saints and Dark Seducers enforce the laws of the Shivering Isles.

As in Cyrodiil, committing a crime in the Shivering Isles that is witnessed will result in a bounty being placed on your head. This bounty is tracked separately from bounties acquired in Cyrodiil. Golden Saints and Dark Seducers will attempt to arrest you. If you escape the arrest and later return with a low bounty, talking to a guard will result in an another arrest attempt, but otherwise they will not approach you. But if your bounty exceeds 1000 gold, any guard who sees you will immediately attempt an arrest. Unlike the guards in Cyrodiil, it is not possible to persuade the guards in the Shivering Isles to overlook your crimes, though they will be less brusque if you have a high disposition with them. As you climb the ranks of the Court of Madness, they will become more courteous to you, and the options you receive during an arrest will change.

Wearing the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal in the Shivering Isles will not normally incur the bounty associated with it, as Cyrodiil bounties do not apply in the realm. Additionally, nobody in the realm will acknowledge the Gray Fox, and guards will not try to arrest you. Due to a bug, it is possible for the Gray Fox bounty to erroneously be applied to your regular bounty if you wear the cowl through the portal, and then remove it in the isles.

The options presented by Golden Saints and Dark Seducers during an arrest differ somewhat to the options given by the guards in Cyrodiil. As The Fringe does not possess a jail, it is not possible to go to jail or pay off a bounty there. The only choice you will have is to resist the arrest.

Going to Dungeons[edit]

In the Shivering Isles, criminals are exiled to dungeons, and if they can escape all crimes are forgiven. If you are arrested in Mania, you will sent to Aichan, and if you are arrested in Dementia, you will be taken to Corpserot Passage. In both dungeons, there is a switch in the cell which will cause one of the walls to retract, allowing you to attempt a jailbreak. There is no bounty for this, but you will have to fight your way out of the dungeon, including fighting a Golden Saint Turnkey or Dark Seducer Turnkey at the end. Should you win, your possessions are in an Evidence Chest at the end of the dungeon and you are free to leave, your bounty cleared.

Alternatively, you can sleep on the bedroll to serve your jail time and be released in Bliss or Crucible. You'll have to go back to the dungeon to retrieve any stolen items however, and you'll be penalized with skill decreases.

Exile[edit]

As Madgod of the Shivering Isles, the guards will consider your crimes as merely a mild disturbance, and suggest leaving the area for a time. Instead of the option of going to jail, you'll have an option to journey with the guard to New Sheoth Graveyard in Dementia, or a small ruin north of Bliss in Mania. Stolen goods will be confiscated and taken to Aichan or Corpserot Passage. You may continue to roam the Shivering Isles freely, although your bounty will remain until it is cleared with the guards.

Resisting Arrest[edit]

As in Cyrodiil, you can resist arrest and fight the guards. You will lose 10 Disposition with the arresting guard. Golden Saints and Dark Seducers will assist each other in attempting to kill you, and if you are the Madgod the daedra will be utterly thrilled at the prospect of facing you.

Paying Reparations[edit]

You can clear your bounty if you have the required amount of gold to cover the fine. Stolen goods will be confiscated and placed in the Evidence Chest in either Aichan or Corpserot Passage, and you will be released in the central plaza of Bliss or Crucible.

Execution[edit]

If you attempt to attack Lord Sheogorath, he will gloat "You really shouldn't have done that. Enjoy the view." and immediately teleport you above Punishment Point to fall to your death.

Guard Dialogue[edit]

Cyrodiil Guards[edit]

Caught by a guard right after the crime:
"Stop! You violated the law. Pay the court a fine or serve your sentence. Your stolen goods are now forfeit."
"Stop right there, criminal scum! Nobody breaks the law on my watch! I'm confiscating your stolen goods. Now pay your fine or it's off to jail."
"It's all over, lawbreaker! Your spree is at an end. I'll take any stolen goods you have. The next move is yours -- Pay your fine, or I haul you away!"

  • Go to Jail
"Hope you rot, criminal scum."
"Serve your time peaceably, and pay your debt to society." (Guard with disposition 50 or above)
  • Resist Arrest
"Then pay with your blood!"
"I'll make Captain for this!" (When wearing the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal)
  • Pay Gold
"That's too bad. I was hoping you'd resist arrest. Okay. Here's the procedure. We go to the castle. First we search you, confiscate any stolen goods. Then you pay your fine, and we release you."
"Here's the procedure. We go to the castle. First we search you, confiscate any stolen goods. Then you pay your fine, and we release you." (Guard with disposition 50 or above)
  • Bribe the Guard (This option is not normally available due to an impossible condition check)
"I don't usually take bribes, but I'll look the other way just this once. If I see you again though, I'll have to arrest you."

Caught by a guard with insufficient funds to clear bounty:
"Stop! You violated the law. Since you lack the funds to pay the court, you must serve out your sentence. Your stolen goods are now forfeit." (Can only "Go to Jail" or "Resist Arrest")
"Well now, what do we have here? Caught in the act and no gold to pay your fine? I'm confiscating your stolen goods. Now it's off to jail with ya!" (Can only "Go to Jail" or "Resist Arrest")
"Break the law on my watch, will ya? I'll be confiscating your stolen goods. Oh, and no gold to pay your fine, hmm? It's off to the lockup then!" (Can only "Go to Jail" or "Resist Arrest")

Caught with high Infamy:
"So, the infamous criminal surrenders? This calls for a celebration! So... pay the fine or serve your sentence. Your stolen goods are forfeit."
"Stop, criminal! I've heard of you. Your criminal exploits are well-known. Pay the fine or serve your sentence. Your stolen goods are forfeit."

Surrender to a guard:
"You decided to turn yourself in? Smart move. Pay your bounty, or serve your sentence... your choice... but your stolen goods are forfeit."

Surrender to a guard with insufficient funds to clear bounty:
"You decided to turn yourself in? Good. You lack the gold to pay your bounty, so you must serve out your sentence. Your stolen goods are now forfeit." (Can only Go to Jail or Resist Arrest)

Caught by a guard while trespassing:
"What luck! You're trespassing! I'm a guard! And I LOVE my job!" "Trespassing in the Imperial Palace is punishable by death." (Imperial Palace)"

Caught by a guard with disposition 50 or above:
"Looks like you are in some trouble. Since we are friends, don't worry. I'll look the other way and take care of that fine for you." (Bounty is cleared)

Caught when you're a Vampire:
"Feeding time is over, vampire! Go back to the grave that spawned you!" (Guards become hostile)

Caught while wearing the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal:
"You're the Gray Fox! You're under arrest for... for... for all kinds of stuff! You're wanted dead or alive. I'm choosing dead." (Guards become hostile)
"You're wanted dead or alive, Gray Fox! This will be easier if you're dead." (Guards become hostile)

Trespass warnings:
"You're trespassing! Leave now, or I'll arrest you!" (Not leaving will result in arrest)
"You're trespassing here. You'll have to leave." (Not leaving will result in arrest)

Golden Saints and Dark SeducersSI[edit]

Caught by a guard right after the crime:
"Halt, lawbreaker! Lord Sheogorath's justice demands reparations or it's the dungeon for you. Any stolen goods will be confiscated."
"Drop your weapon! Hand over your stolen goods and face the Lord's justice. Pay your due reparations, or it's the dungeon for you."
"You thought you could escape Lord Sheogorath's justice? Your stolen goods are now forfeit, and you can either pay reparations or face the dungeons."

  • Go to Jail
"The coward's way out. So be it." (Golden Saint)
"Let no one say Lord Sheogorath's justice is without mercy." (Golden Saint with disposition 50 or above)
"A prison cell is better than you deserve, mortal scum." (Dark Seducer)
"Use your time well, to consider my Lord Sheogorath's merciful justice." (Dark Seducer with disposition 50 or above)
  • Resist Arrest
"I'll enjoy putting you down, scum." (Golden Saint)
"I was hoping you'd say that." (Golden Saint)
"Then we'll settle this the old way. With blood." (Golden Saint)
"You're a fool as well as a criminal, it seems." (Dark Seducer)
"Then your blood stands forfeit for your crimes." (Dark Seducer)
"Then your punishment is death." (Dark Seducer)
  • Pay Gold
"A coward as well as a criminal. Very well, perhaps I'll have a chance to test your mettle another day. You'll come with me, and you'll be searched for stolen property and pay reparations. Then, you're free to go."
"Come with me. You'll be searched for stolen property, then released." (Golden Saint or Dark Seducer with disposition 50 or above)

Caught by a guard with insufficient funds to clear bounty:
"Halt, scofflaw! You can't afford to pay reparations for your crimes, so it's off to the dungeon for you. Your stolen goods are now forfeit." (Can only "Go to Jail" or "Resist Arrest")
"Come with me, scum. Those who can't afford to pay reparations must face Lord Sheogorath's dungeons. I'm confiscating your stolen goods as well." (Can only "Go to Jail" or "Resist Arrest")
"Hand over your stolen property, lawbreaker! If only you could afford to pay reparations... too bad, it's the dungeon for you." (Can only "Go to Jail" or "Resist Arrest")

Caught by a guard in The Fringe:
"The Fringe is outside Lord Sheogorath's mercy... but not his justice."' (Guards become hostile)

Surrender to a guard:
"Submitting to Sheogorath's justice is wise. Will you pay reparations, or serve your sentence? Either way, your stolen goods are forfeit."

Surrender to a guard with insufficient funds to clear bounty:
"Decided to mend your ways? It's the dungeon for you, then, since you lack the gold for reparations. Your stolen goods are forfeit, of course."

Trespass warnings:
"You're trespassing here." (Not leaving will result in arrest)
"You're trespassing! Leave now, or I'll arrest you!" (Not leaving will result in arrest)
"You're trespassing here. You'll have to leave." (Not leaving will result in arrest)

Caught by a guard while Duke/Duchess of Mania or Dementia:
"Your Grace, you have committed a crime. Only the Lord Sheogorath is above the laws of this Realm. You must return any property that does not belong to you. Now, will you serve your sentence in the dungeon, or pay reparations?"

  • Go to Jail
"Thank you for your cooperation in this unfortunate matter, Your Grace."
  • Resist Arrest
"Dementia is not outside the reach of my Lord's justice, whatever you may think." (Golden Saint to Duke/Duchess of Dementia)
"Then I have no choice but to use force. Our orders come from Lord Sheogorath himself." (Golden Saint to Duke/Duchess of Mania)
"Then you leave me no choice. My duty to Lord Sheogorath requires me to use force." (Dark Seducer to Duke/Duchess of Dementia)
"You may rule Mania, but you will learn that Lord Sheogorath's justice still applies to you!." (Dark Seducer to Duke/Duchess of Mania)
  • Pay Gold
"Please come with me, Your Grace. According to the law, any stolen property must be handed over, then you're free to go."

Caught by a guard while Duke/Duchess of Mania or Dementia with insufficient funds:
"My pardon, Your Grace, but Lord Sheogorath's justice applies to all within His Realm. You must return any stolen items. I regret that I have no choice but to escort you to the dungeon, as you are short of the required reparations." (Can only "Go to Jail" or "Resist Arrest")

Caught by a guard as Sheogorath, Prince of Madness:
"I'm sorry to bother you, Lord, but there seems to have been a misunderstanding. A small token of your appreciation might clear this up, or perhaps it's better if we leave at this time."

  • Go with Guard
"Thank you for your understanding, My Lord. I am required by Your own command to ask You for any items You may have inadvertently borrowed. Now, follow me, and we'll find a quiet place away from all this trouble. I trust you will clear up this matter in your own time, in your own way."
  • Resist Arrest
"As you wish, My Lord. I will be honored to test myself in battle against You!" (Golden Saint)
"My Lord, you do me too much honor! It will be glorious to fall in battle at Your hand!" (Dark Seducer)
  • Pay Reparations
"Very good, My Lord. As you know, I must also take any items that might be considered stolen, in order to preserve the peace and justice of the Realm. Please, follow me, and we'll have this matter cleared up in no time."

Caught by a guard as Sheogorath, Prince of Madness with insufficient funds:
"My Lord, it seems there has been some misunderstanding. Ordinarily, we could clear this up with a token payment, but under the circumstances, the peace of the Realm requires that I escort you away." (Can only "Go with Guard" or "Resist Arrest")

Notes[edit]

  • Jail can be exploited to allow your character to level up past your character's maximum level. Each time a major skill is decreased by serving jail time, you have an opportunity to train that skill again. If your major skills are decreased by ten points, you will be able to gain an additional level. You can keep getting sent to jail as many times as you want and continue to gain additional levels.

Bugs[edit]

  • It was intended for Sneak or Security to increase by one point if selected as the modified skill while in jail. Due to coding issues, it is not possible for this to occur.
  • NPCs capable of respawning, such as Mage Apprentices, Mage Scholars, and Battlehorn Men-at-Arms, will have their bounty restored when they respawn. This can result in guards always attacking them on sight, even if they never committed a crime since they came back to life. This can cause areas like the Arcane University (where Imperial Legion Battlemages are stationed) to be engulfed in combat every time the cell resets. However, the guards themselves don't seem to be affected by this glitch if they were to kill someone, even another guard, by accident.
  • The front door of the house for sale in Bravil will always have a red icon even after having been purchased, however entering the house never counts as a crime.
  • The Trespasses counter in your journal never changes from zero, no matter how many times you are caught trespassing or in what circumstances.
  • Multiple unreported, zero-bounty crimes may cause instability in the game; to clear the list of unreported crimes, assault an NPC or take some other action that causes a reported crime, and pay the bounty.
  • After paying a fine or serving a sentence, some NPCs may be found standing outside the prison or castle when you exit. They may be hostile and can be attacked by the guards or by each other. Affected NPCs can include:
  • Stealing an item priced at one gold or below may cause a listed bounty of one, but marks your journal with no such bounty, i.e. your current bounty and highest bounty marked in the Accomplishments section will remain zero if you previously had no bounty. ?
  • Any bounty acquired in the Shivering Isles after becoming Madgod cannot be paid off. More information can be found here.