ESO – Criminal Life 1

ESO takes after the Elder Scrolls single player games and offers thievery and assassination content – Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood. I decided to make my alt my “criminal” character, so my stamina warden is also my werewolf, and joined both the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood.

Joining the Thieves Guild is easy: just talk to Quen in any Outlaws Refuge, who will appear if you have the Thieves Guild DLC. She’ll start you on the way to Abah’s Landing. Or you can port to the Hew’s Bane wayshrine, and Quen will be there waiting to talk to you.

If you have the Thieves Guild DLC you can also open up a Thieves Trove anywhere you happen to see one. The skill line will appear and you’ll get the “Finders Keepers” passive for free. This won’t start the actual storyline, for that you need to speak to Quen to start.

Outlaws Refuges feature various useful services. There are banks (moneylenders), fences (merchants that will buy your stolen loot, or launder it in case it is something you want to keep; plus they can clear your bounty if you really want), regular merchants, and perhaps quests. The Outlaw Refuge in Abah’s Landing is larger than most, because it also houses the Thieves Guild with multiple quest givers offering storyline/zone quests, daily quests, NPC quests as you level up in the Guild, and other repeatable quests (guild jobs, reacquisitions, heists). There is also a list of museum pieces to steal called Kari’s Hit List.

Where is the Outlaw Refuge in your major city? Pay attention to the map symbols – there are two entrances – usually one inside and one outside the city. This makes it easier to move in and out of the city without going through the city gate where a guard might spot you.

If you have a bounty due to previous criminal activities, and you get close enough to the guard (they have an awareness radius but some city entrances are too small to sneak by them) they will notice and try to catch you.

You’ll be offered some choices: pay a fee (don’t do that, it cuts into your profit margin and you’ll lose all stolen items you’re carrying!), clemency (a passive skill you can get at rank 4 in the Thieves Guild), or run away.

I recommend… running away. It isn’t too hard to escape. Just be ready to roll-dodge or break free from crowd control, and keep sprinting away. The guards give up after a bit. Another escape tip is to jump in water and swim away – guards don’t swim. Also, you can jump down to help break their pathing – for example run up ramps/stairs and jump off, repeating if they are still after you. I’ve done loops in Abah’s Landing, running up a flight or two, jumping down, running to another stairs and doing the same thing. They’ll give up, but try to avoid aggroing another guard.

The worst case is getting caught indoors by a guard (they are more or less unkillable). You can’t open doors when aggroed so you are stuck… unless you have the Clemency passive mentioned above. That will let you walk away with your loot intact without paying. I highly recommend spending the skill point and picking up Clemency!

If the guard kills you, your bounty is set to zero so that’s some comfort.

I’m midway through the Thieves Guild storyline, investigating why the previous guild job went wrong. So far I’ve had to spy and gather information, slink through areas where I’m a trespasser, and take on some side quests to help other NPC Thieves Guild members. Ranking up opens various daily quests: committing crimes in various cities; doing heists, which are instanced locations with a time limit, list of objectives, and enemies to stealth around; doing various guild jobs which involve stealing or pickpocketing in multiple zones.

The stealth gameplay is basic but serviceable – it isn’t as tuned as it would be in actual stealth games. It’s fun enough for me and I enjoy trying out some different activities and content than what’s usually offered in an MMO.

Pick pocketing involves crouching and then creeping up on a target. The game will show the chance of success, based on target awareness, target difficulty (simple vs named NPC), your spending on various passives, and probably some other stuff. I’ve noticed the success windows is very brief and seems to peak quite early. So if you are going to have the best chance, it will occur soon into your attempt… waiting around just lowers the chances. The target may become aware of your presence and you’ll lose your best chance.

It’s convenient for me to split my criminal activities to an alt. For one, there is less skill point pressure on my main. Werewolf, Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Legerdemain… all need some skill points to make them more effective or gain useful passives. For another, if my bounty gets too high, I can log off and let it slowly decay while I play my main!

Good scheduling is key. Say I take each of the available dailies: a heist, a guild job (pickpocket or safebox looting), and a reacquisition – and I start with no bounty. Then I should do the guild job first, because the bounty won’t matter for the heist or the reacquisition – no city guards to deal with! Whatever bounty I gain from the guild job, I can let decay while I do the heist and the reacquisition; the reverse situation is much less desirable – gaining bounty from the heist makes even the initial guild job a bit tougher. It gets a bit more complicated weaving in Dark Brotherhood questing as well, but that’s the subject for another post. 🙂

I’ve started finishing off my play sessions with some crime. After all, after I log out for the night and do something else or go to sleep, my bounty will decay and I’ll be a law-abiding citizen ready to start the next crime spree.

Thieving is profitable as well, as along as you don’t pay when you get caught. Remember: run away! However if making money is your main goal you can probably do better crafting or gather materials and selling them. But it’s fun to pick a lock to a house, find a safebox and pick that as well, looting everything and then making your escape.

I’ve received motifs, antiquity leads, decent gear, etc… but mostly small treasures I fence for extra cash. As for hitting a jackpot – my friend managed to steal Shivering Cheese. Which sounds silly but sells for 1 million+ gold!

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