Oblivion: Gaming The System With Help From Wiki

Clearly this Xbox 360 blogging thing isn't worth a damn when it comes to counting days played streaks; it's claimed twice now that I had a streak, but never awarded me one, claimed I didn't play a day, then awarded me a streak anyway. So I'll stop paying attention to that portion of it.

Having pretty much done with Gears' solo campaign, I'm now devoting my play time to Oblivion. And while I don't like to use the word cheat, it's been increasingly difficult to avoid the temptation to use the exhausive resources of the Oblivion Wiki to... ah... enhance my play experience.

Since there's already way too many things to do in Oblivion, I've got little interest in optimizing the way I complete quests. Often there's several ways to do each, with different consequences. So after I've completed one, for curiosity's sake, I'll check the quest page on the wiki to see what the other possible outcomes were. I don't have any intention of backtracking to do it over, since there's already too many things to do and not enough time, and the idea of replaying the game later with another character is just too far off to even consider.

However, the resource is so well linked internally that one thing led to another and soon I was getting hints about things I hadn't seen yet.

It started when I got stuck in the Unfair Competition quest, near the very end. The gravedigger supplying Thoronir the merchant with his stolen goods was waiting in a tomb for me, along with a henchman, and every time I confronted him, he killed me. I got quite annoyed, since my most recent save was just inside the tomb door, and the tomb door locks behind you. The gravedigger, Agarmir, has a magic sword, Debaser, that drains Willpower and Endurance, that made him tough to beat at my low level (I think I was about a level 7 at the time). Agarmir is always one level higher than the player, plus he's got an accomplice, and the magic sword. I thought it was really unfair and unrealistic that the door locks behind you once you enter-- Agarmir can't have locked the door himself, since you stand between him and the door, and it was open when you came in.

Since I knew the quest was almost over and I suspected I was missing something obvious, I checked out the Unfair Competition page and there saw the suggestion to pickpocket Debaser off Agarmir before the confrontation-- you have to break into his house anyway in order to find evidence of his gravedigging activities.

This turned out to be the key for me to finish that quest, since I'm heavy on stealth and not too strong on combat. It also proved to be the gateway drug for dipping into the wiki for hints. Once I had the magical stolen sword, I had to figure out how to recharge it. It's not the kind of information easily gleaned from just asking, so I had to start looking at parts of the Wiki on enchantment, soul gems, and soul trapping-- since apparently that's the only cost-effective way to recharge a magic weapon.

That led to a page on other magic weapons, where I found out about Umbra, one of the better swords in the game, carried by a character also called Umbra, in a ruin quite close to the Imperial City that I had actually visited already; it seemed to have nothing much of interest, so I forgot about it.

The page on Umbra said she was lightning fast, self-healing, and tough to beat, but her sword was really worth it, especially for low-level characters. Since monsters level up with your character, it's almost more important to upgrade your gear than to level up.

The dungeon she's in is nearly empty: sandcrabs, rats, and not much loot except for what she carries. She isn't hostile to you unless attacked or pickpocketed. Still, I knew I'd be no match for her all alone. Wiki to the rescue!

There were lots of suggestions for beating Umbra: trapping her against level geometry works, since she has no ranged attack. However, if she dies that way, the sword can fall through the level. Bad idea. You can lead her into guards, but they might attack you, plus she's insanely fast. Bad idea. You can lead her into the gas traps, but her speed and healing makes that sketchy.

Or you can bring allies. Wait, I thought... allies? Yet another quest that I hadn't heard of, originating in Chorrol, gives you two invincible allies. Long story short, you reunite long lost identical twins and clear their ancestral home of Ogres for them, then lead them there.

Except... you never take them there. They follow you everywhere. They can't be killed, only knocked unconscious temporarily. They distract other enemies, and aren't bad fighters.

So there was part of the solution. The wiki also delivered the other: a magical staff, available in Imperial City to any level player if they could scrape together the cash. I was already close to having the money, and with my new allies, we cleaned out the nearby Vilverin dungeon of bandits and loot (taking several trips to cart away a lot of the heavier armor and weapons) to raise the rest.

Four hits did Umbra in. She only attacked me once (and knocked me down) after knocking out both my allies, just as I landed the last blow. Umbra was mine.

Have I cheated? Probably. I didn't know about the twins quest without the Wiki; although I could have. I just hadn't heard the required rumor in Chorrol yet. I'd been to Umbra's dungeon, Vindasel, but hadn't seen her. I'd been to the staff shop, but hadn't really been interested because I was more interested in bows and swords. Plus, I seem to be exploiting a quest bug by not taking the twins home. They don't seem to mind, though... and if they don't, why should I?