The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Melee Guide (PC, Xbox, PS3)

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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Melee Guide (PC, Xbox)

~By tankMage (September 2022)

About this Guide

I wanted this to be a simple collection of tips for players that want to use melee classes, but it grew into a fairly lengthy guide. It turns out that the tricks I learned over the years weren’t as simple as I thought. Oblivion itself complicated matters further, because it gives players so many choices. In fact my biggest worry was giving players advice that would be too constraining. Hopefully I managed to strike a balance where players can apply (and critique) my advice while exploring the game in their own way. 


Click the links below to jump to a subject.

1. What is a Melee Character?

2. Melee Characters and Level Scaling

3. Damage Mitigation and the Survival Curve

4. Attacking Enemies

5. Choosing Your Weapons

6. Choosing Armor

7. Support Skills

8. Attributes

9. Choosing a Race

10. Choosing a Birth Sign

11. Doom Stones

12. Recommended Gear and Items

13. Further Reading

1. What is a Melee Character?

Oblivion defines melee characters as Combat classes, which focus on skills like Blade, Blunt, Block, Armorer, and Heavy Armor. However, there’s a lot of room for deviation from this basic framework. In fact, the only “pure” combat class in the game is the Warrior, since even classes like the Barbarian and Knight use skills that fall outside the Combat category. Of course this is part of the beauty of the Elder Scrolls series, since players have a lot of freedom in choosing how they play the game. 

For the purposes of this guide, a melee/combat character is defined as anyone who uses melee weapons like swords and axes as a primary or secondary means of self defense. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Even a Mage can fall into this category if he or she sometimes uses a dagger to fight enemies, but this just goes to show it is worth learning the basics of melee combat. 

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2. Melee Characters and Level Scaling

For those who are unfamiliar with Oblivion’s infamous level scaling system, it is basically a mechanic that makes quest rewards and enemies more powerful as the player gains levels. Players who do not keep their equipment and spells up to date or those that neglect their defensive/offensive skills can quickly find themselves outmatched by enemies after gaining a few levels.

Worse yet, weapons, armor, and pre-made spells were only designed to scale up to level 30 at most, but players can easily find themselves in the low 50s if they play the game long enough or grind a lot. After about level 40, certain enemies start to accrue massive HP pools that make them difficult to slay with normal weapons and spells. Needless to say, this can make the game really tedious, since beating a Minotaur Lord over the head with a mace starts to lose its charm after about four minutes. 

Level scaling also forces players to make powerful spells in the Mages Guild if they want to kill things in a reasonable amount of time at high levels, which makes classes start to feel the same. Luckily there are ways around this problem, which are covered below.

a. Natural Leveling

The simplest way to beat the level scaling system is to just play the game without grinding and stick to skills that belong to your character’s class along with a few support skills. Let’s say the player chooses a Barbarian, who uses Blade, Blunt, Block, Hand-to-Hand, Armorer, Athletics, and Light Armor. A good way to play this character would be to ignore two of the weapon skills, while focusing on one of them, then move onto the others when you have mastered that skill. Since Athletics tends to level up slowly as the game progresses and the player is concentrating on specific skills, the player’s character will level up rather slowly.

This gives the player time to learn his/her character’s weaknesses and strengths without having to deal with loads of high level enemies. It also puts a soft cap on the player’s level, which prevents monsters from becoming ridiculously strong. That same player is also free to supplement his or her repertoire with a few minor skills to cover their class’s inherent weaknesses. 

b. Sandbagging

Sandbagging is the act of intentionally managing how frequently a character increases his or her Major skills in order to maintain a set level or efficiently build stats. For example, a player chooses or creates a class with major skills that he can actively control (IE: Destruction, Blade, Block, Restoration etc.) and decides to stop leveling his character up at level 25. The player would merely have to grind (or play the game normally) using his class’s skills to reach level 25, then never touch those skills again.

On the other hand, a player that is trying to max out Attributes through efficient leveling would purposely avoid choosing certain skills as Major skills, then grind them to get +5 to a desired set of Attributes when they level up. 

For example a Barbarian (Blade, Blunt, Block, Hand-to-Hand, Armorer, Athletics, and Light Armor) wants to max out Strength, Speed, and Endurance. That Barbarian could control when he/she levels up as well as what Attributes he gets bonuses to on level up by not using the class’s major skills and focusing on things like Heavy Armor and Acrobatics, which are governed by the Attributes the player wants to max out. Once ready, the player can increase a skill like Blade to gain a level. Needless to say this method requires planning and will vary from character to character, but it is certainly an effective way to level up any character let alone a melee build.

Finally, sandbagging can be used to keep a character’s level intentionally low, which can make the game extremely easy for the most part. In this case, the player would choose a set of major skills that he or she would use very little or not at all. In theory, the player could stay at level 1 for the entire game, fighting weak enemies as his or her Minor skills level up. Clever players can also find non-leveled equipment that would give them an even greater edge in combat. That said, this trick takes much of the challenge out of the game and is more for people who are interested in having overpowered characters or who simply want to play through the story. With this in mind, much of the advice in this guide is not really relevant to a very low level character.

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3. Damage Mitigation and the Survival Curve

One of the most important aspects of melee combat is reducing the amount of incoming damage your character takes. There are many ways to achieve this through both passive and active means. Having the right gear and tactics can make even tough fights less hazardous. In fact, many players will find that they have reached a sort of peak in their performance where enemies pose little threat thanks to a combination of their character’s stats and their skills as a player. 

a. Evasion

The best way to limit incoming damage from enemies is to simply not get hit. Nearly every attack in the game can be avoided in most situations given the player’s character has enough Speed or the Acrobatics dodge perk. It is also worth noting that it is very smart for any character to avoid enemy power attacks, which can paralyze, disarm, or even knock down unlucky players. Here are a few basic avoidance techniques:

Backstepping – One good way to avoid an incoming blow is to quickly step backwards. This works particularly well against slow unwieldy attacks from warhammers or a Minotaur’s head butt. Backstepping is also effective in tight spaces, though players should beware of getting pinned against walls and other obstacles. A character’s Speed Attribute plays a major role in how quickly you can move backwards and slow characters will have difficulty backstepping anything. Some attacks, like a Clannfear’s leap attack are very difficult to backstep away from, though it can be done with good timing and a high Speed Attribute.

Sidestepping – Magic spells and arrows are very easy to side step away from, since they tend to travel relatively slowly, though arrows are more difficult to avoid. It is also possible to side step melee attacks and fast characters can even circle behind some enemies. However, sidestepping is not very effective against sweeping attacks, area of effect spells in tight spaces, and leaping attacks.

Jumping – Fast characters with decent Acrobatics skill can jump fairly far. This costs Fatigue, but can be a great means of escape, especially if you can jump to places the enemy cannot reach.

Dodging – Characters with 50+ Acrobatics can perform a quick roll to avoid incoming attacks or close ground with the enemy. This costs Fatigue, but it’s a very effective way of avoiding damage of all sorts, since the player’s character can roll very quickly. Players have to hold the block button while jumping to perform a roll, so there’s also a chance that your character will block some attacks if they roll too late.

b. Blocking

The Block skill is a great means of damage mitigation for physical attacks. Even slow characters can block effectively and it is possible to block with any weapon or shield, though shields are best. Of course, blocking is only effective against melee attacks and arrows. Magic spells will merely pass through the player’s block and damage him or her. 

One important feature of blocking is that it adds the player’s Block skill to the player’s armor class while the player is actively blocking. Weapons add 50% of the Block skill to armor while shields add 100%. This means a character with 50 Block skill and 20 armor will reduce damage from physical attacks by 70% with a shield, which is quite significant. 

Enemies also recoil if they hit the player while he is blocking, which leaves them open to counter attacks. Blocking is also a good way to heal with potions or spells in combat (though you will let your shield down for a moment while casting a spell) and a good method of letting Fatigue regenerate. Finally, players can “press” enemies while holding block to force them into places where they cannot dodge or even off of cliffs and certain monsters (Daedroth and Ogres) seem less likely to use leap attacks if you press them.

c. Armor

Your character is likely to take damage from physical attacks no matter how good you are at evasion and some damage will get through even if you are a master of blocking, which is where armor comes in. Armor subtracts damage from physical attacks in the form of a percentage. If a character has 20 armor, he will take 20% less damage from physical sources. This means an enemy that does 10 damage per hit will only do 8 damage to someone with 20 armor. From what I have seen from mods that display damage, the game calculates damage to the first decimal place, so having a low armor rating like 5 actually helps a little bit.

Of course more armor is always better and the player will see reductions in damage all the way up to 85%, which can combine with the Block skill to reduce damage by as much as (roughly) 97%. This means a highly skilled character with good armor can resist huge amounts of damage. There are three basic ways to increase your armor rating.

Light and/or Heavy Armor – Actual armor is a good way to increase your armor rating, since it is something your character will always wear. While armor has a lot of drawbacks, like needing repairs and slowing your character’s movement, it’s an easy way to increase armor rating, plus high Light/Heavy Armor skill can make armor incredibly powerful. In fact, a character with 100 armor skill and decent quality armor can easily hit the 85 armor rating cap.

It generally helps to keep armor repaired and upgrade it as often as possible. Someone with an Armorer skill of 75+ can even make his or her armor more effective by improving it with Smithing Hammers. Players can find better armor than what is sold in shops by clearing Marauder dungeons for Heavy Armor and Bandit dungeons for Light Armor.

While armor is a great way to increase a character’s physical damage resistance, it also hinders spell casting. In fact, even characters with high Heavy or Light Armor skill will still suffer a 5% armor penalty, so it is something worth noting if you plan to have your character use magic at all. Furthermore, armor wears out as the player suffers damage and you can expect it to become less effective in drawn out fights.

Shield Magic – The Shield Spell or enchantment also provides the player with armor. If used as a potion, scroll, or spell, Shield is a temporary effect. Armor, clothes, and rings enchanted with the Shield effect provide permanent boosts to armor as long as they are worn.* Whether or not you use enchanted items or cast the spell is up to you and both have their pros and cons.

Generally, it is easier in the early game to learn spells with the Shield effect than it is to find equipment with it or lug around dozens of Shield Potions. Later on, players can make, find, or buy equipment with both plain and elemental Shield effects. Sigil Stones taken from Oblivion Gates are especially good for crafting equipment with Shield effects since they are very powerful and do not require Enchanting Altars or Soul Gems.

While Shield effects can be hard to come by or require the player to spend time and Magicka casting a Shield spell, they have a few benefits over actual armor. First off, Shield does not slow a character down. Secondly clothes and rings with Shield do not wear out like armor. Players can also combine Shield spells/enchantments with worn armor to get more mileage out of it. Even better, spell casting is not hindered by the Shield effect, so melee characters that dabble in magic may also find it useful.

*This also includes enchantments like Fire and Shock Shield which also provide magic resistance.

Reflect Damage – One of the most powerful effects in Oblivion, Reflect Damage protects the player from a percentage of melee attack damage while returning the same amount to the attacker. I.E.: If the player has 50% Reflect damage and a monster hits him/her for 20 damage, the player will only take 10 damage and the other 10 damage will be transferred to the attacker. At 100%, this completely reflects damage from melee attacks. Needless to say, this is a powerful magical effect for anyone, including melee fighters, but it is also very rare. Only a few rare items like the Escutcheon of Chorrol have this effect. Players can enchant items with Reflect Damage if they are born under the sign of The Tower since it grants a Reflect Damage power. However, this requires both Spell Making and Enchanting Altars.

Reflect Damage still leaves the player open to hostile spells, trap damage, and arrow damage. 100% Reflect Damage also keeps the player from getting any armor skill exp and even 5% Reflect Damage will slow the rate at which players learn armor skills. Consequently, this effect is best saved for high levels.

Resist Normal Weapons – This extremely rare magical effect can be found on certain random armors, the Crusader’s Armor, or acquired via Vampirism. It reduces the amount of damage from non-enchanted barehanded and weapon attacks, but does not affect attacks from creatures like Ogres and wolves. While this form of physical damage mitigation can be nice to have as a bonus, it is too situational and cannot be relied on. For the most part, this effect is good if you happen to find a nice ring or piece of armor enchanted with it, but should take a back seat to armor rating, Reflect Damage, and magical resistance. In fact, it is probably better to favor Attributes like Speed and Agility over Resist Normal Weapons for defensive purposes.

d. Magic Resistance

Magic can be quite dangerous in Oblivion. Spells inflict direct damage as well as drain Attributes, steal Health, and even weigh the player down. Magic resistance can also get pretty complicated with all of the different types of resistances and the fact that a player’s chosen Birth Sign along with race can impact how they react to magic. Luckily, most melee characters are not likely to take combinations that will make them incredibly weak to magic, like a High Elf born under the Apprentice sign. There are also quite a few ways to minimize the effects of hostile spells.

Potions – Alchemy potions bought at shops or made by the player can greatly reduce the effects of elemental magic and/or counter negative spell effects. Players can also prevent enemy magic users from casting spells with poisons that silence or drain Magicka from their victim. In general, potions are a good way to defend against magic early on.

Resist Magic Enchantments – Rings, armor, and even spells that allow the player to resist Magic in general are fairly readily available mid to late game. This is often the best and easiest way for a melee character to deal with magic. Even 25% Resist Magic can cut a lot of the punch out of enchanted weapons and enemy spells. Most of the game’s spells seem to deal set damage even for scaling monsters, so 50% to 75% Resist Magic rating can make damage from hostile magic almost unnoticeable. 

Resist Magic also has the added benefit of reducing the impact of or even nullifying Poison. There are many armors, like the Savior’s Hide, that provide this effect and players can make their own enchanted gear with this property using Enchanting Altars and/or Sigil Stones. Bretons start with a permanent 50% Resist Magic effect and Orcs start with +25% Resist Magic, so picking these races can give players a head start. Of course, one very easy way to get high magic resistance is to simply learn the spell if your character uses Alteration Magic.

Elemental Resistances – Some races and pieces of gear (as well as spells and potions) can resist elements like Fire, Shock, and Frost. While helpful, this type of magic resistance does not protect against many of the magical effects players will encounter. That said, finding a Ring of Fire Shield or using the same type of potion can be an effective means of defense. Having some natural resistance like the Dark Elf’s Fire Resistance is also helpful.

Spell Absorption – This effect allows players to Absorb Magicka from incoming spells. In turn, this cuts down on the effects of hostile spells, since a player with 50 Spell Absorption will only take half damage from spells. Those born under the Atronach sign start with Spell Absorption and there are plenty of high level items that grant the effect. As with Resist Magic, having about 50-75 Spell Absorption will negate most of the effects of magic for a melee character, but it comes with the unfortunate side effect of absorbing beneficial spells. 

Reflect Spell – A powerful property, Reflect Spell grants the player a random chance to automatically bounce a spell back at its caster. For example, 25 Reflect Spell will send 1 in 4 spells back at the enemy. This effect has the additional bonus of not affecting beneficial spells cast by the player. With 100% Spell Reflect, the player is completely immune to hostile magic. It can be difficult to find Reflect Spell items, though notable artifacts like the Ring of Namira have it. Generally, it is best to consider this a bonus effect and not something you should rely on unless you can assemble a collection of powerful items with the Reflect Spell enchantment.

e. Health (HP)

While this guide has discussed a lot of the more nuanced ways a melee character can survive, having tons of HP is always a very reliable way to stay alive. If anything, most melee characters should have no issue boosting their Endurance to 100 and getting tons of Health as a result. There are also plenty of armors, potions, rings, and spells that boost Health.

f. Agility

It is easy for a fighter to overlook the Agility Attribute, but it is vital nonetheless. Agility is usually credited with increasing Fatigue and bow damage, but it also reduces the likelihood that enemy attacks will stagger the player. Getting staggered is bad news, especially if you are facing off against multiple foes, because it leaves you open to further attacks. Players can be staggered even if they successfully block an attack, so do not ignore Agility. For the most part, about 50 Agility is enough to ensure that your character does not get staggered by every second hit, but more Agility is always better. Agility can be tricky to build, but there are a few spells and rings that buff this stat. The Thief sign also gives players a nice 10 point Agility bonus.

g. The Survival Curve

Now that we have gone over concepts like evasion, armor rating, and Health, we are going to look at how much in the way of stats a character needs to survive in Tamriel at level 20+. While it is not necessary to check every box, since a heavily armored Warrior with 400 Health does not need to roll around to avoid attacks, it is wise to reach most of the goals listed below.

-50 or more armor 

-300+ Health

-50-75 Magic Resistance, some Reflect Spell or Spell Absorption also helps

-About 50 Block skill

-50 or more Agility

-About 75 Heavy or Light Armor skill if you are wearing armor

-75 Armorer Skill for improving armor to 125% and repairing enchanted gear

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4. Attacking Enemies

So far this guide has covered defense, because it is important to know how to defend against creatures that want to kill you. However, you will not get anywhere if you are not good at attacking. This is where things get more complicated, since there are several types of weapons and even melee oriented characters may supplement their offensive repertoire with spells. For the sake of simplicity, this section will focus on melee combat and its eccentricities.

a. Managing Fatigue

It is impossible to overstate just how important Fatigue (the green bar in the lower left) is for a melee character. Basically, swinging your weapon, jumping, and even blocking at low skill levels will reduce your Fatigue. You may notice that your character does less damage as the Fatigue meter drains. Attacking with low Fatigue is often a waste of time and energy, since your blows will merely glance off enemies, so make sure your Fatigue is near 75% when attacking. Here are a few ways to manage your Fatigue meter:

-Do not attack wildly

-Use combos and rest every few seconds by blocking or backing away

-Potions of Respite or Restore Fatigue can replenish your Fatigue 

-Do not use power attacks too much

-Use lighter weapons if you find your Fatigue dropping too rapidly

-Strength, Agility, Endurance, and Willpower increase maximum Fatigue, making it easier to use heavier weapons

b. Combat Techniques

There are many ways to approach battles and all of them are situational. In some cases, the player will want to close with enemies and fight tactically by dodging, blocking, and attacking at the right times. In other cases, the player may need to pound enemies into the ground as quickly as possible. Here is a brief (and basic) list of fighting techniques. Consider these guidelines for creating your own fighting style that suits your character rather than hard and fast rules.

Block and Counter – Players with decent Block skill can use a shield or weapon to defend against enemy attacks and counter attack when they recoil from striking your guard. This technique works universally against melee enemies, but it requires decent Block skill and armor when going up against monsters with powerful leaping attacks. Additionally, your character will quickly swing his weapon and return to the blocking position if you hold the block button while attacking. 

Finesse – Sometimes it is best to dodge enemy attacks with backsteps, side steps, and/or rolls then attack when there is an opening. This technique works very well against two handed melee fighters, Minotaurs, Storm Atronachs, and other relatively slow enemies. That said, it is difficult to dodge leaping attacks from Ogres, Clannfears, and Daedroth unless you practice a lot. Especially quick characters can circle around enemies and attack them from behind.

Assault – One of the most effective techniques is an all out attack on an enemy where the player swings rapidly and tries to defeat his or her foe as quickly as humanly possible. This trick works well on magic uses and archers, who often flee from melee characters. Fatigue can be an issue when trying to quickly eliminate enemies, so aim your swings carefully to maximize your effectiveness. Potions of Respite and Restore Fatigue can help in such situations.

Fall Back and Attack – Sometimes you may find yourself outnumbered by multiple powerful foes. It is usually best to make a tactical retreat to a narrow passage or high ground in such situations. Doing so will usually force the enemy to fight the player one on one. In some cases, you may be able to scale a large rock that the enemy cannot climb up, which makes it possible to get shots in from a bow or use a large weapon to strike enemies from a relatively safe distance. 

c. Power Attacks

Power attacks can be an effective tool in a warrior’s arsenal or a liability depending on how the player uses them. Well timed and aimed power attacks can leave an opponent reeling, but a clumsy one can leave the player open to a counter attack. Mages and enemies that do not block are easy targets for power attacks, though they tend to move quickly, which makes them difficult to hit. Players will have to chain power attacks into combos or wait for openings when using them on other melee fighters.

While there are many types of power attacks, the basic standing power attack (Apprentice) and forward power attack (Master) are usually your best bet. The standing power attack does 3x damage and is easy to execute. The forward power attack is also easy to use and can paralyze its victim briefly.

The left/right power attacks can also be useful for disarming opponents at Journeyman. However, many foes do not use weapons, so disarming attacks are situationally useful at best. I generally recommend avoiding the backwards power attack (Expert) unless you are really good at the back stepping evasion technique I mentioned earlier. 

d. Combos

It is possible to stagger foes with attacks or even render them defenseless with poisons and magic. Fast characters can even strike an opponent’s blind spot by circling to their back or flanks. Regardless of how you disable an opponent, it’s smart to take advantage of openings by getting a few hits in on the enemy before they can recover. That said, getting greedy and trying to get too many free hits can leave your character low on Fatigue or allow the enemy time to block, causing your character to recoil in the process. Get a feel for how many attacks you can chain together before the enemy recovers or reacts. Fast weapons like shortswords and daggers can usually chain 4 or 5 attacks together, while extremely slow weapons may only get 2 or 3 hits in. Either way, learning how to combine attacks is a powerful skill.

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5. Choosing Your Weapons

There are two main melee weapon families in Oblivion: Blade and Blunt. Bade applies to swords, while Blunt is for axes and maces. Both weapon types have their uses, but players should choose one type and stick with it until it is mastered if they want to be able to fight effectively. This section also talks about Marksman (Bows) a bit, because they are still physical weapons despite being more Stealth oriented.

Update: I somehow managed to forget about the Hand to Hand skill when writing this guide. It has been added under Marksman.

a. Blades

Daggers, short swords, long swords, and claymores fall into the Blade family. Daggers are incredibly swift, but deal little damage. Long swords have far more reach than a dagger and do more damage at the cost of speed. Short swords are a happy medium between the two. Two handed claymores sacrifice a lot of speed for reach and damage, but are generally easier to handle than their two handed blunt counterparts.

Blade weapons are a great choice overall, because they swing relatively quickly and cost less Fatigue than blunts. That said, they lack the raw crushing force of their heavier counterparts and work best when enchanted.

b. Blunt Weapons

Axes and maces are generally stronger than Blade type weapons, but swing far slower. They also require a lot of Fatigue to wield. In spite of their drawbacks, Blunt type weapons pack a punch and can be great for beating enemies down with sheer brute force in the hands of a skilled player.

c. Two Handers vs. One handers

Both Blades and Blunts have two hand and single hand variants. Two handed weapons have superior reach and out damage their one handed counterparts for much of the early game. One handed weapons allow for the use of a shield and attack more quickly, but lack the range and strength of larger weapons. One handed weapons also begin to outpace two handed weapons in terms of damage once enchantments come into play. This is due to the simple fact that they swing faster and can apply damage from enchantments a lot quicker than two handers.

While one handed weapons may seem like the superior choice, I recommend carrying both a one handed weapon and a two handed weapon (unless you are also using a bow) as a backup. Sometimes it helps to deliver one or two crushing blows to a weaker enemy with a large weapon and sometimes the extra defense from a shield comes in handy. Weapons also wear out in prolonged battles and the game will not allow you to make repairs while in combat, so having a fresh weapon readily available can turn the tide of a drawn out fight. Finally, some weapons have unique enchantments (IE: Destarine’s Cleaver, Chillrend, Akaviri Warblade etc) that are useful against certain types of enemies, so keeping an extra weapon on hand also gives a character more flexibility.

d. Marksman (Bows)

Bows are technically a stealth weapon, but they are often utilized by melee characters in a supplemental manner. This is most commonly seen with imperial legionnaires and town guards, who often have bows as well as a sidearm of some sort. Players who want a ranged option that is not magical and thus free of all the baggage that comes with making a hybrid character, will find bows quite effective. Pesky Mages that like to keep their distance are prime targets for ranged attacks and good archers can also soften up melee fighters as they close with them.

Bows are also good for applying poison or executing sneak attacks if you are into that sort of thing. Patient players can even collect powerful enchanted arrows from NPC archers. Lastly, bows work well with the “Fall back and Attack” technique I mentioned earlier, since dangerous monsters are not much of a threat if you manage to find a high perch from which you can pick away at them.

e. Hand to Hand

Hand to Hand is an interesting skill that can be very useful in some situations. Players can use their fists as a weapon and even defeat enemies barehanded. In fact, Hand to Hand combat is really powerful in some ways, because it damages Fatigue as well as Health making it possible to knock enemies unconscious. Here are a few of the bonuses that come with Hand to Hand according to my personal experience and USEP Wiki:

– Hand to Hand attacks damage Fatigue as well as Health

– Barehanded attacks consume less Fatigue than weapon attacks

– Your fists do not need repairs and are just as effective at the start of a fight as they are at the end

– At skill level 50, barehanded attacks can damage creatures that are immune to normal weapons

– Unarmed attacks do not recoil from hitting enemies that are blocking

– Hand to Hand is a great fallback for characters that get disarmed

Unfortunately, unarmed attacks do not get the benefit of enchantments or poisons. This makes fist attacks weaker than weapons by a long shot. However, this is a great backup weapon. Hand to Hand is also a good “side arm” in the case of Monk style classes that supplement their unarmed attacks with bows or magic.

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6. Choosing Armor

I covered the overall concept of armor as a stat earlier in this guide, so I will not go into great detail here. There are three main options the player has when it comes to armor: Heavy, Light, and no armor. Thematically, it makes sense for a melee character to wear Heavy or Light armor as opposed to enchanted clothes or robes. In general it is unwise to mix armor types, unless you have a really good reason to do so, like stacking Reflect Damage or Reflect Spell enchantments. However, we will look at all the options briefly, since players are free to make any choice they like.

Heavy Armor – With tons of durability and high base defense, Heavy Armor is a good choice for someone who wants to specialize in melee combat. It will also slow the player down until they master the Heavy Armor skill and pretty much removes sneaking as an option, so choosing this type of armor is quite a commitment. Luckily it also trains Endurance, so a Heavy Armor user with common sense is also one with plenty of HP and Fatigue.

Light Armor – Players who are willing to trade a bit of defense for speed will appreciate Light Armor. While this armor type is poorly suited to long drawn out fights thanks to its modest durability, it also allows characters to sneak effectively, which can help in avoiding conflict altogether. It is also good for players that prefer to dodge attacks rather than block them. As an added bonus, Light Armor wearers will also have more carry weight available for loot, because their armor is not made up of 30 pound slabs of steel.

No Armor – While it may seem strange for a melee character to eschew armor altogether, Shield enchantments and the Shield spell can make up for a character’s lack of physical protection. Unarmored characters can also take advantage of the fact that clothes (or just being stark naked) take up little in the way of inventory weight. Even better, players who do not wear armor do not have to worry about repairing their armor, nor will it hinder their stealth or magic.

Mixed Armor – I am not a fan of mixing armor types, because the armor skill perks often require the player to wear Heavy or Light Armor exclusively. That said, certain enchantments can only be found on specific artifacts or random enchanted items, so there is some justification to mixing armor.

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7. Support Skills

The term Combat Class is very loose at best and melee fighters can have an assortment of skills. These skills can be chosen in character creation or picked up by the player as the game progresses. In some cases, players do not have much of a choice when it comes to building certain skills, since Mercantile and Athletics are used almost universally. 

This section will look at skills that can be considered support skills for melee characters and examine how they can fit into various melee builds. Some of these skills, like Armorer, are absolutely vital to any melee character, while others are very much optional. Players are free to take these skills as Major or Minor skills as they see fit, though some are better as Major skills due to the amount of time it takes to train them. This guide will not look at things like Speechcraft and Security, even though they have their uses, because they have little influence on melee combat.

a. Armorer

I mentioned Armorer as being vital at the start of this section for a reason: Your character will need to repair his or her weapons and armor throughout the course of the game. Consequently, Armorer is useful as a Major or Minor skill. It also makes sense from both a role playing and practical perspective, because a character that uses any sort of weapon/armor may need to repair it on occasion. Furthermore, Armorer builds Endurance AND allows the player to increase the durability of a piece of gear by an extra 25%, so this is a skill any melee character should use even if it is not a Major Skill.

b. Light Armor

Despite being a Stealth skill, several pre-made Combat Classes use Light Armor and it is a decent choice for players who value speed, but do not want to give up defense entirely. It also meshes well with melee characters that like to sneak and/or those who prefer to roll away from enemy attacks rather than slug it out. Keeping this in mind, Light Armor works best as a Major Skill.

c. Acrobatics

Being able to jump long distances is a valuable skill for any character and melee characters are no exception. Acrobatics also allows players to perform very helpful evasive rolls at skill level 50. Much like Armorer, Acrobatics can work well as a Major or Minor skill, but players who use it as a Minor skill will have a long way to go if they want to unlock the dodge roll.

d. Alchemy

Alchemy is one of the most powerful skills in the game. It is also easy to level up and works well even as a Minor Skill if you are willing to make a lot of junk potions for the first 30 levels. Skilled alchemists can create powerful poisons that paralyze enemies, healing potions, Fatigue restoring potions, and even potions that boost magic resistance. It’s easy to see how such tools can be helpful to anyone, especially melee oriented characters who likely have little in the way of spell casting prowess.

e. Restoration

Being able to heal at a moment’s notice is very valuable to melee characters, but Restoration can also allow players to boost Health, Attributes, and restore that all important Fatigue. A player made spell that heals 1 or 2 HP and Fatigue per second for 20 second or so can be a game changer for a Restoration user. Unfortunately, players will need Magicka, Willpower, and Intelligence if they want to use Restoration effectively. On the bright side, it is not too difficult to take a Birth Sign that boosts Magicka and/or find items that make casting Resto spells easier.

f. Alteration

Alteration is surprisingly useful. While it requires some investment in magical abilities, it also gives players the ability to cast Shield, Resist Magic, Open Lock, Water Breathing, and other beneficial spells that can make life easier for a fighter.

g. Destruction

Classes like the Crusader make use of Destruction magic for good reason: It is a lot less difficult to kill something if it is already half dead when it gets within melee range. As usual, players will have to work Magicka related stuff into their gear or leveling plan, but it is worth the extra effort if you want an easy to use ranged option. Spells are also good for damaging things that are immune to normal weapons early in the game. Players who really want to push the envelope can make super powerful Weakness to Magic and Damage Health spells that can one hit kill most enemies, though this requires a lot of Magicka.

h. Conjuration

Everyone needs a friend sometimes, so why not summon one from the plane of Oblivion? Conjuration is somewhat impractical for a melee character, because the spells tend to be expensive to cast and you could probably use the Magicka to heal or buff your character, but there is something to be said for an angry Xivilai rampaging through your enemies. 

i. Sneak

The line between Stealth and Combat characters is very blurry at times and many classes fall somewhere in the middle. At any rate, being able to avoid enemies or stab them in the back is always a good thing. Sneak is also very easy to train as a Minor or Major skill and boosts Agility which is good to have. The only drawback to working sneak into a melee build is that it does not go well with Heavy Armor.

j. Marksman

I mentioned Marksman in Section 5 of this guide, but I’ll talk about it a bit more here. Marksman works very well with melee, since it is a good way of dealing with enemies that like to keep their distance. Players can also fall back on it in situations where they have to flee to some high ledge, so it is definitely worth taking this skill up. Marksman does come with a few drawbacks however. First off, arrows take up inventory space and are a limited resource in hostile environments. Marksman is also trash if you do not level it up enough, so be prepared to put some work in if you do not have high skill to begin with.

k. Illusion

Illusion is surprisingly good for melee characters. I once had a Pilgrim that used Illusion as a support skill just to cast Starlight, which made it easier to see in dungeons. Of course, spell effects like Paralyze, Calm, and Chameleon are a lot more practical. 

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8. Attributes

It may seem odd that the section about Attributes appears near the end of this guide, after all they are important right? Well, yes and no. After playing through Oblivion on and off for about 15 years, I have found that Attributes are outweighed by the player’s skill, equipment, and level, which is why I do not emphasize them as much as other topics. Of course, Attributes DO have an impact on your character’s performance and are important, but they will not help you if you do not know how to use them. With that said, we will look at the Attributes and what they mean for a melee character. Please note that I have listed the more important Attributes first and saved the more optional ones for last.

Tip: It is not absolutely necessary to max out every Attribute or even those you rely on. Most Attributes cap out at 100 and there are plenty of ways to permanently or temporarily boost them without going to extreme lengths to get perfect level ups. While it is good to get to 100 for some Attributes, 80-90 is often an acceptable range.

a. Strength 

It goes without saying that you will need to be strong if you want to run around Cyrodiil hitting things on the head while lugging around a ton of armor. Strength is calculated into melee damage, determines carry weight, and increases Fatigue. A Strength of 100 by level 25-30 is ideal, but characters can get away with 80-90 Strength. Of course there are all sorts of rings and armor that boost Strength as well.

b. Endurance

Health is really important to anyone, but especially so for melee guys that find themselves going toe to toe with huge brutes. Endurance is so important that it should probably be increased every level even if you are only raising it by a single point. One nice thing about Endurance is that its effects are retroactive, so you will always get extra HP for every level you attained. Just be aware that it takes 10 points of Endurance to increase your character’s Health bonus. Endurance also increases Fatigue, which is very important.

c. Agility

Agility increases bow damage, Fatigue, and reduces the likelihood that you will be staggered from attacks. As I have stated before, being staggered is bad news and you will want at least 50 Agility if you plan on blocking a lot. Of course 100 Agility is even better if you can swing it. Agility will continue to increase Fatigue and stagger resistance after 100, so it is one of the few Attributes really worth pushing past its cap.

d. Speed

Speed can be very important or nearly meaningless depending on your playstyle. Players that like to dodge and back away from enemy blows will need as much Speed as they can get (Light Armor also helps) while someone who prefers to block may not need more than 40 in this Attribute. Players that do a bit of both can probably get away with about 60-70 Speed depending on their armor type/skill level. Speed does not cap at 100, so boosting it further with spells, gear, and/or potions can be beneficial.    

e. Intelligence

The value of Intelligence is very much in the eye of the beholder when it comes to melee builds. Players that heavily rely on magic to heal or supplement their damage will want a fair bit of Intelligence since it boosts Magicka as well as Magicka regeneration. On the otherhand, a big dumb orc who chugs potions and swings a battleaxe needs just enough Intelligence to find something to smash, which is basically anything more than 0. 

f. Willpower

Willpower can be beneficial if you cast spells, but it takes second fiddle to Intelligence. It is also nearly useless to non-spellcasters aside from the Fatigue bonus it imparts. With that in mind, it is safe to keep this stat low unless you use magic a lot.

g. Luck

Long ago I went out of my way to get a character’s luck to 100 and regretted it. Luck boosts skills, but most of the important skills cap at 100, so it becomes nearly useless unless you are using Mehrunes Razor, which calculates luck for its special effect. It also takes 40-50 levels to max out Luck, because it is not governed by any skill and (trust me) you probably do not want to be level 50. Ignore this Attribute unless you are role playing some kind of concept character.

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9. Choosing a Race

It’s hard to say exactly how much a character’s race impacts performance. In the early game, it can have a significant influence on your performance, but this often falls off late game. For the most part, it’s fine to choose a race you like, but this is a guide, so I will rate the races from best to worst based on my opinion.

a. Red Guard

I’m not sure if there is a best race for melee characters in Oblivion, but if there is, Red Guards are definitely in the running. With nice starting stats/skills and natural resistance to both poison and disease, this race makes the early game a breeze. They also have the Greater Power Adrenaline Rush, which boost Attributes like Strength and Agility. Adrenaline Rush remains relevant even late into the game for the Health and Agility boost alone. 

b. Nord

Nords are another good class for melee, especially if it is your primary focus. With a good mix of stats/skills and strong support abilities, a Nord should have no trouble in the early game. Natural resistance to Frost also makes them strong against magic users who prefer the Frost element. Additionally, Nords have Greater Power that is basically a Frost based touch spell. Woad, a Shield Greater Power, can boost defense in dangerous situations. With all of these abilities, Nords have a lot of tools at their disposal, but the efficacy of their Greater Powers starts to drop at around level 20. 

c. Orc

With good combat stats and skills for smashing things, Orcs make great melee characters. They also have natural Magic Resistance, which is really nice. That said, the Orc’s Berserk Greater Power sucks, due to the fact that it drains Agility by 100 points. Trying fighting in close combat with 0 Agility and tell me how that works out. Flaws aside, this race is still really good for melee.

d. Dark Elf

Dunmer make surprisingly good melee characters, plus they are versatile enough to easily supplement their Combat skills with Stealth and Magic. A natural resistance to Fire also gives them an edge in Oblivion Gates where fire traps are quite common. The Ancestor Guardian Greater Power can be a life saver in the early parts of the game and even later on as it can be used to distract dangerous foes. That said, the Dark Elf’s spread of Attributes means they are not particularly good at any one thing, which can cause issues in early to mid levels.

e. Imperial

Imperials have some fairly strong base stats for combat, but they also have a side focus on Speechcraft and Personality, which makes them kind of a niche race. Players that want to play as a Pilgrim style build may appreciate the Imperial. The Imperial’s Star of the West Greater Power drains Fatigue, which is a fairly potent tool and they can charm shopkeepers for lower prices with Voice of the Emperor. Unfortunately, Imperials tend to start with low Agility and do not have very high starting Strength/Endurance to make up for it. Still, they are acceptable fighters and may appeal to some players for role playing reasons.

f. Wood Elf

Bosmer are a great choice if you want a speedy fighter that uses bows and/or Sneak. They also have some magical talent, especially for Alchemy and Alteration. While good for a more nimble fighting style, Wood Elves hurt for Strength and Endurance, which makes them fragile compared to other races. Those who want to play a Wood Elf would do well to build Endurance quickly while also learning how to dodge effectively, thus taking advantage of the race’s natural speed. Their Beast Tongue Greater Power can be used to command low level animals early in the game and their disease resistance is very helpful.

g. Khajiit

Like Bosmer, Khajiit are well suited to a more stealthy playstyle that relies on finesse over brute strength. They also suffer from the same issues of low Health, though their Strength Attribute is fairly decent. The Khajiit have access to the Eye of Fear Greater Power, which can force enemies up to level 25 to flee, so they have some built in crowd control. Eye of Night is also very useful, since it allows the Khajiit to see in the dark for 0 Magicka cost, but you have to be ok with everything being tinted blue. All in all, this race isn’t a bad option.

h. Breton

Bretons are a great choice if you want to use a Crusader type Combat class or simply supplement your melee skills with a bit of magic. This is thanks to high magic related stats and skills as well as a 50 point bonus to Magicka. Bretons also get a 50% resistance to magic, which is great. If that’s not enough, an endangered Breton can cast the Dragon Skin Greater Power to boost his or her armor by 50. Of course all of these nice abilities come with drawbacks that make them less than ideal in combat. Bretons have pitiful Combat Attributes and really suffer in the Endurance department. They also lack any starting bonuses to melee skills. Consequently, Bretons have to work hard to become competent fighters. Luckily they have plenty of magical talent to fall back on.

i. High Elf

Altmer (High Elves) are very similar to Bretons and do not make great fighters. In fact, with natural weaknesses to Fire, Frost, and Shock, Altmer cannot even claim magical resistance as a strength. That said, they get a massive 100 point bonus to Magicka and resist disease by 75%. Players that want to go all in on magic may want to choose this race, but they are very poor at melee.

j. Argonian

Argonians are a worse version of the Khajiit and Wood Elf races. They have some potential as more finesse oriented fighters, but lack the virtues of the previously mentioned races that fall into this category. Argonians boast natural immunity to disease and poison as well as built in Water Breathing, but not much else. Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine an Argonian being a good melee fighter until late in the game and their skills are too spread out to make them good at magic, so avoid this class unless you really like the idea of playing a lizardman. 

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10. Choosing a Birth Sign

Birth signs can be extremely important to any type of build in Oblivion. They can cover for poor base Attributes, boost Magicka, and even grant players powerful abilities. Some Birth Signs can even define your character’s build. Let’s take a look at the Birth signs and how they relate to melee builds.

For those who do not wish to read through all of these Birth Signs, I’ll give some recommendations here. The Mage and Atronach are good if you want to use magic. The Ritual and Lord are helpful if you are worried about healing. The Thief and Steed are good for more finesse oriented fighters. Finally, the Warrior is a solid fall back for races that lack Endurance and Strength or for players that want to further enhance already high scores in those Attributes. 

a. Apprentice 

The first Birth Sign is not particularly good for melee unless you want to use magic on the side, even then it may be wiser to go with the Mage or Atronach. This is primarily due to the fact that the Apprentice gets a 100% weakness to magic along with its 100 point bonus to Magicka, which essentially doubles the damage done by enemy spells. Players who really want to take this sign should choose the Breton race or be prepared to stack a lot of Spell Absorption, Reflect Spell, or resistance effects.

b. Atronach

Those born under this sign get a whooping +150 to Magicka and 50% spell Absorption. However, they are unable to naturally regenerate Magicka, though this issue is easily solved with potions of Sorcery, more spell absorption, and various other means. Even melee fighters who do not intend to use magic at all can benefit from the spell absorption alone, but I prefer other Birth Signs for such builds. Overall, this is a really good sign for anyone that wants to use magic and worth taking over the other two, but there is one major drawback: Healing spells are also absorbed. As a result, this sign does not play nice with schools like Restoration and Alteration, so players that want to use magic to heal and/or buff may prefer another sign.

c. Lady

The +10 Endurance boost from this sign makes it a good choice, but it also grants +10 to WIllpower. While not the best sign, the Lady is not bad for players that want to get Endurance as high as possible as quickly as possible. The Willpower boost is also nice if you use magic, since it improves Magicka regen.

d. Lord

This is one of my favorite Birth Signs. The Lord grants the player a healing spell that restores 6 Health per second for 15 seconds at the cost of 50 Magicka. While not very useful to anyone that uses Restoration or Alchemy, this spell can be a life saver for those who rely on purchased potions to heal. The major drawback to the Lord is the 25% weakness to Fire it confers, though this is offset by Dark Elf Fire Resistance and the Breton’s Magic Resistance. It is also worth noting that 25% Fire weakness is easily covered by rings with resistance enchantments and spell absorption actually makes Fire damage refill your Magicka more quickly.

e. Lover

This sign is something of a double edged sword. It grants the Lover’s Kiss, which can Paralyze an enemy for 10 sends once a day at the cost of 120 Fatigue. While the paralyze effect can be very useful, the reduction in Fatigue will require the user to quickly quaff a restore Fatigue or cast a spell of the same effect if they want to attack the paralyzed foe at full strength. You may pass out if you do not have enough Fatigue to cover the 120 point cost, which is also an issue. However, this power remains useful throughout the game and its 120 point Fatigue cost becomes less crippling at higher levels as long as you take measures to quickly restore lost Fatigue. For the most part, the Lover is not a bad choice if you want a means of escaping danger or disabling powerful foes, but there are better signs out there.

f. Mage

The Mage is a safe choice for those who want some extra Magicka without the drawbacks associated with the Atronach and Apprentice. While an extra 50 Magicka may not seem like much, it can go a long way in making spells more potent or in allowing your character to cast them more frequently. That said, players that do not want their fighter to use any magic whatsoever should avoid this sign.

g. Ritual

To be honest, I have never taken this sign. That said, it looks good on paper. Mara’s Gift is a Greater Power that can restore a hefty 200 HP for free once a day. This alone can save your life, but the Ritual also gives the player Blessed Word, a Greater Power that can turn undead up to level 25. Overall, I think this sign is a suitable choice for any melee character, but the fact that Blessed Word and Mara’s Gift are Greater Powers means they can only be relied on to a limited extent.

h. Serpent

Like the Lover, the Serpent is something of a double edged sword. Players born under this sign get access to Serpent Spell, which costs 100 Fatigue, does 3 points of poison damage for 20 seconds to an enemy, heals the player of poison, and casts dispel on the player. In some ways this Greater Power is really good, since you can ignore the Fatigue cost and back away as your victim dies of poison, plus the ability to remove negative effects is also nice. On the same token, 100 Fatigue can be a heavy price to pay in dangerous situations and some enemies are immune to poison. In the end, Serpent is kind of a middle of the road choice.

i. Shadow

Those born under the Shadow can turn invisible for 60 seconds, once a day. This power is great for sneaky types and as a panic button, since it allows the player to escape detection. However, there are better Birth Signs out there, so this one is more thematic than anything.

j. Steed

This Birth Sign is great or awful depending upon the playstyle of whoever chooses it as it grants a 20 point bonus to Speed. Players that like to dance around enemies will find the Steed invaluable, especially since Speed is one of the few Attributes that does not have a cap. On the other hand, a character clad in Heavy Armor may not be able to get much use out of the Steed. It is also worth mentioning that Speed effects jump distance and a character with 100+ Speed along with high Acrobatics can leap very far.

k. Thief

The Thief is a good choice as Attribute boosting signs go as it gives players +10 to Agility, Speed, and Luck. While I consider Luck to be fairly useless, Speed and Agility definitely have their place. In fact, this sign is great for Orcs, Imperials, and other races that have low to middling Agility, and races like Khajiit can start with really high Speed/Agility if they take this sign.

l. Tower

I have mixed feelings about this sign. Tower Key can open an Average Lock once a day, while the Warden Greater Power gives the player 5% Reflect Damage for 120 seconds once a day. While both of these powers are underwhelming on their own, some players like to enchant Reflect Damage onto gear and this is an easy way to get it. For the most part, I would advise anyone to avoid this Birth Sign unless they want Reflect Damage, because there is better stuff out there.

m. Warrior

This sign gives the player an extra 10 points to Strength and Endurance. Needless to say, it’s a solid choice for any melee character. It’s especially good for Khajiit, Wood Elves, and Argonians, who suffer from low Endurance.

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11. Doom Stones

These strange stones can be found scattered around Cyrodiil. Examining one at night will grant your character a Greater Power, but you can only have one Doom Stone active at any given time. There are a lot of Doom Stones, so I am only going to cover those I feel are pertinent to melee builds. Visit USEP for more detailed info on Doom Stones:

Ritual Stone – This Doom Stone Grants the player two free healing powers that can be used once per day: Mara’s Milk and Mara’s Mercy, though the latter is an on target spell. Needless to say, this can be a life saver for a melee fighter that lacks any sort of Restoration ability. It also goes well with the Ritual and Lord signs if you want to double down on the healing.

Serpent Stone – Ironically, this Doom Stone is better than the Birth Sign of the same name. Use this stone to get Cobra’s Dance which can paralyze and poison a target for 5 seconds! 

Steed Stone – The Greater Power learned from this stone will allow you to boost Speed and Acrobatics by 20 points for 120 seconds. As a result, this power makes escaping from or dodging enemies easier and is particularly good for already nimble characters. Additionally, Speed and Acrobatics do not cap at 100, so really skilled characters can use this power along with enchantments to leap great distances.

Warrior Stone – Players can boost their Strength by 20 points and their weapon related skills by 5 for 120 seconds with this stone. Sadly, the Warrior Stone is only really good in the early to mid game, because Strength and weapon skills cap out at 100, but it is still worth using until then.

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12. Recommended Gear and Items

Well, we have reached the end of this guide and I hope it has been helpful. Before we wrap up, I’ll go over some useful sets of weapons, armor, and staves that can make life easier for melee characters. This is by no means a comprehensive list due to the massive quantity of items in Oblivion, but it is a good starting point.

Note: Many of these items are leveled and will be weak if your character obtains them at a low level. To be perfectly honest, I think this was *ahem* a rather unfair move on the developer’s part since the player can unwittingly screw themselves over by completing certain quests at low levels. I point out leveled items in this section and you may want to wait to get them, but it’s reasonable to add properly leveled versions of these weapons with console commands once you reach certain levels if you wish.

Sigil Stones – Players can get these by closing Oblivion Gates. Sigil Stones are leveled and can be used to imbue an unenchanted weapon, ring, or armor with one of several random effects. The effect of the stone can be viewed by selecting it in the inventory screen. There are more than 60 Oblivion Gates in the game, so this can be a great way for players that are not interested in enchanting to make custom magic gear. It is also possible to reroll a Sigil Stone by saving before you activate it and loading if you do not like what you get.

Relics of the Crusader (Knights of the Nine) – While this armor set is only available to good guys, it is one of the best sets of Light/Heavy Armor in the game. It confers several powers on the player, offers high defense, and even comes with a Mace and Sword. If that’s not enough, level scaling is not an issue with this set. A level 1 player can start collecting the relics, use them, then place them on the stand in the Priory of the Nine once the player levels up a bit to set the relics to the player’s current level. As a result, the Relics of the Crusader can be relied upon from the very start of the game to the very end.

Dark Brotherhood Gear – The Dark Brotherhood offers a variety of weapons and armor to players who are willing to get their hands dirty…or bloody. The Shrouded Armor and Hood is an unleveled enchanted armor set that offers decent defense for the early game. Even better, it is awarded to the player for joining the Dark Brotherhood. Players willing to wait until higher levels to complete Dark Brotherhood quests can get some powerful leveled weapons like Sufferthorn, the Black Band, and the Blade of Woe.

Volendrung – Complete the Daedric quest for Malacath to get this mighty warhammer, which damages Health and Paralyzes the enemy. This weapon is especially good when used on multiple enemies, since you can whack one foe to paralyze him then move onto the next. With good timing you can keep all of your opponents paralyzed while the damage Health effect eats away at their life. This weapon is also unleveled, so you can get it as early as level 10 and have it at full power.

Goldbrand – Complete a quest for Boethia at level 20 to get this powerful Fire enchanted one handed sword. Like all Daedric artifacts, Goldbrand is not leveled so it is useful throughout the game.

Ebony Blade – Another Daedric Artifact, the Ebony Blade can be obtained at level 15 by doing Mephala’s quest. This weapon can Silence victims and absorb Health, making it a nice pickup for blade users.

Chillrend – You will have to wait until level 25 if you want a full power version of Chillrend. This weapon can be obtained from Valus Odil in Chorrol by completing the quest he gives and keeping his son alive. Alternatively, you can just kill Valus and take the sword. Chillrend itself is a powerful short sword that inflicts Frost damage while reducing its victim’s Frost Resistance.

Escutcheon of Chorrol – Complete quests for the Countess of Chorrol to get this shield. With powerful Reflect Damage and Fortify Endurance effects this shield is great for melee characters, but it is also leveled and does not reach full power until level 25.

Spell Breaker – This mighty shield can reflect spells and is awarded by Peryite. You can complete his quest as early as level 10.

Staff of Indarys – This easily overlooked staff is awarded to the player if he or she manages to rescue the son of the count of Cheydinhal from an Oblivion Gate in the Wayward Knight quest. Keeping the count’s son alive is no easy task, because his AI (like that of most NPCs) is dumb as a brick and he will run headlong into battle. To make matters worse, the staff is leveled, so you may want to wait until 25 to do this quest. Manage to complete the quest with the son alive and you will be offered a sword or staff. The Staff of Indarys can damage its victim’s Strength by 10 and deal 70 Shock damage at level 25. A few zaps of this weapon will render anything it doesn’t outright kill rooted in place with zero Strength. Not bad. 

Shadowrend (Shivering Isles) – This weapon can take the form of a two handed blunt or blade weapon depending on which skill is higher. It has high base damage and a Damage Health/Weakness to Magicka enchantment that makes it extremely deadly. Sadly, this weapon is leveled and you will have to be 30+ to get it at full strength unless you are willing to use console commands. You will find this weapon during the Symbols of Office Shivering Isles quest.

Madness/Amber Equipment (Shivering Isles) – Players can find craftsmen in the Shivering Isles who will create Amber or Madness gear if you bring them materials. Without going into too much detail, these sets have all sorts of enchantments and can be made readily as long as you find the material needed for them in the Shivering Isles. As an added bonus, scaling is not much of an issue, since you can always get more materials to make higher level versions of this equipment. It is also possible to have both types of gear crafted. Furthermore, Madness and Amber crafting is a reliable source of damage health enchanted arrows.

Destarine’s Cleaver – This unleveled battleaxe can be bought at the Dividing Line in Leyawiin for a few thousand gold. It damages both Strength and Endurance with each strike making it possible to completely cripple an enemy.

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13. Further Reading

There are many excellent resources for info on just about everything in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I had to leave a lot of stuff out, because there is just so much to find in this game and I wanted to keep the guide brief. The wikis listed below are great sources of general info and I will also attempt to answer questions in the comments below.

Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages – This is perhaps the oldest TES wiki out there and an excellent place to find detailed information on Skills, quests, items, and just about anything else you can think of.

The Elder Scrolls Wiki – Another wiki site, this one offers an alternative to USEP. While not as detailed, it often offers different advice and opinions, so it is worth checking out if you are not happy with answers provided by me or USEP or just want a second opinion.

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