Oblivion:Free Skill Boosts

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At several points during the game you are given free bonuses in one or more skills, for example as a reward for completing a quest. These skill bonuses come in two different types: some directly increase the value of the skill; others add an ability with a Fortify Skill effect. Most of these are strictly one-time bonuses.

Skill Increases

The following rewards all directly increase the value of the skill(s), using a script with the modpcskill command. The resulting increase is similar to if you had trained the skill: the skill increase counts towards attribute bonuses when you level up, and if they are major skills, they will also count towards leveling. After the skill boost, the skill's progress bar will always be set to zero. So to get the maximum bonus from these boosts, you may want to increase the skill yourself to the next level, and then get the free skill boost (this is especially true if you have already spent some time training the skill and the skill is just about to increase).

In several cases, the bonus is not available if your skill already exceeds 89. Some scripts check your skill's base value (using getbaseav), and therefore are not influenced by any active Fortify Skill or Drain Skill effects. However, other scripts incorrectly check your skill's current value (using getav). In those cases you can still receive the bonus "undeservedly" by temporarily draining your skill; or "deservedly" by removing the items that are boosting your skill over 89.

If the bonus is received when your skill is 100, the bonus will push your skill past 100. If the skill is a major skill, this will allow you to increase your character's maximum level. However, your skill is not actually improved by values past 100 unless it is Acrobatics or Athletics.

There was a bug in the original release of the game (fixed with the version 1.1.511 patch) where after receiving one of these bonuses, the affected skill would not continue to increase normally. See below for details.

Quest Skill(s) Requirement Details
Dagon Shrine +1 Alchemy
+1 Mysticism
+1 Restoration
getbaseav<90 If you rescue Jeelius, he will give you this reward. You have to find him in the Temple of the One in the Imperial City after the quest is complete to get the reward.
Hermaeus Mora +10 Light Armor
+10 Security
+10 Sneak
none This is the reward if you choose the Oghma Infinium's Path of Shadows
+10 Conjuration
+10 Destruction
+10 Restoration
none This is the reward if you choose the Oghma Infinium's Path of Spirits
+10 Blade
+10 Blunt
+10 Heavy Armor
none This is the reward if you choose the Oghma Infinium's Path of Steel
The Path of Dawn +1 Blade
+1 Block
+1 Heavy Armor
getbaseav<90 If Baurus survives this quest, talk to him later at Cloud Ruler Temple to receive this bonus.
A Rat Problem +1 Acrobatics none If you tell Arvena that Quill-Weave was not responsible, Quill-Weave will provide this reward.
+1 Speechcraft none If you tell Arvena that Quill-Weave was responsible, Arvena will provide this reward.
A Shadow Over Hackdirt +5 Mercantile none Seed-Neeus will give you this reward if Dar-Ma is successfully rescued.
None +2 Blade
+2 Block
getav<90 In the courtyard at Cloud Ruler Temple, there are often two Blades (Fortis and Pelagius) sparring. If you watch them, you will receive this reward. Both your Blade and Block skills must be below 90 to get the reward. This takes considerably longer than watching Branwen and Saliith (below). The guard doing rounds will have to make at least 8 - 10 full passes of the courtyard, so be patient!
None +5 Hand to Hand getav<90 In the Arena District, there are two hopeful contestants (Branwen and Saliith). If you watch them, you will receive this reward. Even if one of the contestants has died, the other will continue to practice sparring on his/her own. Watching the single contestant fight will still result in the reward.


Improper Advancement

Note: This has been corrected by the Oblivion 1.1.511 patch.

In the original release of the game, all of these skill bonuses are subject to a bug, in which the skill level is increased without adding any experience points. Your character receives all the immediate benefits of the skill increase, but as time passes you will notice that the skill level appears frozen. This is most obvious in cases with large skill increases (in particular, the Oghma Infinium, Seed-Neeus' training after A Shadow over Hackdirt, and watching Branwen and Salith train). This bug does not apply to the abilities listed in the following section.

What happens is that your character needs to gain all the missing experience points before the skill continues to level. For example, if your character had just reached skill level 45 in Hand to Hand, and Hand to Hand was a minor, non-specialized skill, it would normally take 695 punches (417 experience points) to get to level 50. If you watch Branwen and Salith train, your skill level is increased to 50 and you get all the immediate benefits of the skill increase (more damage done with blow, access to the journeyman power attacks, strength attribute bonuses when you next level up, etc.) The only thing that you're missing is those 417 experience points: you still need to go and punch some creatures 695 times to get the missing experience. Until you do, the progress bar next to your Hand to Hand skill will be stuck at 0. With punch number 696, the progress bar will start to inch upwards; after a total of 847 punches, you will finally get to level 51. This is the exact same number of punches that you would have needed without getting the free skill boost. The glitch doesn't make it take any longer to train the skill; the main problem is that there is no way to tell that you are actually accomplishing anything as long as your progress bar is stuck at zero. The free skill boost becomes more like a temporary bonus than a permanent bonus.

If you are in this predicament, you can continue to modify your skill in any of the usual ways:

  • Drain Skill and Fortify Skill will modify your skill value but will have no effect on how much time you need to spend using the skill to get the missing experience.
  • Skill Books and Trainers will increase your skill by one level, and will add one level's worth of experience. You may end up having to spend a bit more time using the skill (training from 46 to 51 takes longer than training from 45 to 50), but no more than you would have had to if you had not received the free skill boost.

Missing Jail Bonuses

  • It was intended that staying in jail could increase your Sneak and Security skills, however due to a bug, this does not occur.
    • PC Only This issue has been addressed by version 3.4.0 of the Unofficial Oblivion Patch; it includes RobinHood70's jail skills fix plugin (OBSE required).


The following rewards are implemented as abilities with a Fortify Skill effect. If you look in the Active Effects section of your journal, you will see these abilities listed. These rewards do not count towards leveling up, or towards attribute bonuses. On the other hand, any one of these rewards will provide access to the Fortify Skill effect at the spellmaking or enchanting altars.

Because these Fortify Skill effects are implemented as abilities, they boost the base value of your skill (whereas as spells and enchantments only boost the current value of the skill, not the base value). Implications include:

  • You receive any skill perks. For example, if your skill level had been 45 (apprentice) and you gain a +5 ability boost, you will receive the journeyman-level skill perks (for a magic skill, you would be able to cast journeyman-level spells). Note that no message will be displayed to confirm your skill perk as there usually is.
  • Skill training will require more experience and therefore will be more difficult. This is most noticeable with the Skeleton Key; tips for how to efficiently train are provided on the Skeleton Key page.
  • The associated skill will not show up in green in your journal listing of skills.
  • You can increase the skill past 100 if your skill is already near or at 100 when you acquire the bonus. However, there is no benefit, besides insurance against Drain Skill or Absorb Skill, to doing so for most skills. The only two skills which continue to improve when boosted past 100 are Acrobatics and Athletics.

If you are trying to level efficiently, be careful about receiving these rewards. These skill increases do not count towards the attribute bonuses for that level. Also, the permanent rewards (Gray Prince's Training, Night Mother's Blessing) will prevent you from ever raising your "natural" skill levels to 100, so you may miss out permanently on some attribute increases and your character's maximum level will be reduced if the skills affected are Major Skills.

Quest Skill(s) Ability Details
Nocturnal +40 Security Skeleton Key This bonus applies whenever the Skeleton Key is in your inventory. If you drop the Skeleton Key, the security bonus disappears.
Origin of the Gray Prince +3 Athletics
+3 Blade
+3 Block
Gray Prince's Training Provided to you by The Gray Prince. Permanent.
Whodunit? +2 Acrobatics
+2 Blade
+2 Marksman
+2 Security
+2 Sneak
Night Mother's Blessing Given to you by Ocheeva as a bonus for correctly completing the contract. Permanent.
None +5 to +20 Acrobatics
+5 to +20 Athletics
+5 to +20 Destruction
+5 to +20 Hand to Hand
+5 to +20 Illusion
+5 to +20 Mysticism
+5 to +20 Sneak
Vampirism Acquired by becoming a vampire (along with several other bonuses). The magnitude of the bonus depends upon how far your vampirism has advanced. This fortification can boost your skills past 100. If you cure your vampirism, you lose all the bonuses.
Fighter's Stronghold
(Official Plug-in)
+15 Armorer Dwemer Fireheart Active when you stand next to the Dwemer Forge in Battlehorn Castle after purchasing this upgrade. Only active when standing in this location.
Wizard's Tower
(Official Plug-in)
+15 Alchemy Alchemical Brilliance Active when you stand next to the Alchemy Lab in the living area of Frostcrag Spire after purchasing this upgrade. Only active when standing in this location.
Knights of the Nine
(Official Plug-in)
+10 Blade or
+10 Blunt
Crusader's Arm Active when you equip the Sword of the Crusader (blade bonus) or the Mace of the Crusader (blunt bonus). Only active as long as the weapon is equipped.

See Also

  • Skills: General information on all skills.
  • Increasing Skills: General tips on increasing skills.
  • Skill Books: Books that provide skill bonuses when read.
  • Trainers: NPCs that can be paid for skill training.
  • Master Training: NPCs that can be paid for skill training once your skill exceeds 70, after completing a mini-quest.
  • Leveling: Information about how skill increases contribute to leveling up.