Your character qualifies for an increase in character level after improving any combination of major Skills by a total of 10 points. You need to rest on a bed for the level-up to take effect. How many minor skills you have increased during this time does not influence when you level.
Advantages of Leveling
A key aspect of Oblivion is that when you level, the strength of most opponents increases: the level of many NPCs will be higher, and you will encounter more difficult creatures. On the other hand, there are many advantages to leveling. Maximizing these advantages will allow you to keep ahead of the enemies.
- Your Health increases by 10% of your Endurance.
- You get to raise 3 attributes by up to 5 points each. Many improvements are only possible by increasing your attributes:
- Maximum weapon damage requires increasing either Strength (melee) or Agility (bows), as well as increasing the appropriate skill.
- Maximum Magicka requires increased Intelligence.
- Magicka regeneration depends upon Willpower and maximum Magicka.
- Increased maximum encumbrance requires increased Strength.
- Fatigue is dependent upon a combination of your Strength, Endurance, Agility and Willpower.
- All Daedric Quests have a level requirement.
- The equipment you can obtain is dependent upon your level:
- The amount of gold you find is level-dependent.
- The quality of weapons and armor is level-dependent (in stores, in chests, and taken from enemies).
- Many quest rewards are more powerful at higher levels.
- The strength of randomly-found enchanted items is level-dependent (e.g., weapons and armor).
- The enchanted items you can make yourself are more powerful: the availability of Grand Soul Gems is level-dependent, and the power of Sigil Stones is level-dependent.
- Better quality alchemy equipment is only available at higher levels. Also, many ingredients are effectively only available at higher levels, because they are obtained from higher-level creatures.
- You can purchase training up to five times per level.
When you level up you get to raise the values of three attributes. The amount you can raise an attribute by depends on how many skill points you have gained in skills governed by this attribute (major and minor) before gaining the 10th increase in a major skill.
- 0 skill points grants a +1 bonus
- 1-4 skill points grants a +2 bonus
- 5-7 skill points grants a +3 bonus
- 8-9 skill points grants a +4 bonus
- 10 or more skill points grants a +5 bonus
It is never possible to gain more than a +5 attribute bonus when leveling up. Attribute bonuses not used at one level (or surplus points past 10 in the skills governed by an attribute) do not roll over to the next level.
For example, say a character has the following major skills (seven in total, listed by attribute):
- Agility: None
- Endurance: Armorer
- Intelligence: Conjuration; Mysticism
- Personality: Illusion
- Speed: None
- Strength: Blade
- Willpower: Destruction; Restoration
Since their previous level-up they have increased some skills (see below, increase in parenthesis after each skill). When they acquired the 10th increase in a major skill, they qualified for a level-up. The attributes offered to them would be as listed to the right in the examples below.
|Intelligence||Alchemy (10), Conjuration (1), Mysticism (1)||+5|
|Speed||Athletics (5), Acrobatics (5)||+5|
|Strength||Blade (4), Blunt (4)||+4|
For those concerned with over-leveling or skill management this is not a "perfect" level-up. An example of a 5/5/5 increase (as mentioned in Efficient Leveling) for this character could be:
|Personality||Illusion (6), Mercantile (4)||+5|
|Speed||Athletics (5), Acrobatics (3), Light Armor (2)||+5|
|Willpower||Destruction (4), Alteration (6)||+5|
Here only 3 attributes have more than the minimum +1 modifier, and they all get the maximum +5. Illusion and Destruction are the only major skills that have been increased (4+6=10), along with a total of 20 minor skills. No skills have been over leveled. Note that the last one of the increased skills has to be a major skill.
The Leveling Problem
The fact that monsters and other enemies level up at the same time as your character leads to the "leveling problem". If you make poor choices in leveling up, your character will become relatively weaker than the monsters as your level progresses. Therefore a given situation in the game will become harder rather than easier, even though you would expect the same situation to be easier for higher-level characters.
There are several strategies for overcoming the leveling problem. One is to never let your character sleep, resulting in your character never leveling up (as described at Under Leveling). Another is to just decrease the game's difficulty slider.
On the other hand, it is possible to play to high levels and have your character constantly become stronger than the enemies. To accomplish this, it is necessary to take maximum advantage of every bonus that is available to your character when you level up. In general, this requires careful planning from the time you start the game, because many of these advantages are only available with specific character creation choices.
Some components of a successful leveling up strategy include:
- High Health requires high Endurance: both by creating a character with high initial Endurance, and then by obtaining +5 Endurance attribute bonuses each time your character levels up.
- Get +5/+5/+5 attribute bonuses each level (or +5/+5/+1 if you wish to increase Luck), and make sure to obtain those bonuses in the attributes that are most beneficial to your character. This is the basis of efficient leveling.
- Spend enough time at each level to get the best available equipment for that level. For example, don't advance from level 3 to level 4 until you have found a complete set of leather (if you are wearing light armor) or steel (heavy armor). See Armor for details on what armor is available at each level. Similarly, Weapons provides information on the availability of weapons. Enchant items with the most powerful enchantments available to your character.
- Characters that rely on spells should be sure to purchase new spell effects as soon as they become available and create more powerful custom spells whenever they gain new skill mastery perks (both of which require accumulating significant amounts of gold).
These strategies can only be fully implemented with careful character creation. Standard character classes are not suited to planned leveling as they overload the major skills with skills governed by the same attribute. This causes frequent level-ups before you can get the full bonuses for those attributes (see below for more details).
Furthermore, some +5 attribute bonuses are not possible without a custom character class. For example, take the standard Warrior class. Ideally, a fighter type character will want to obtain +5 attribute bonuses in both Endurance and Strength. However, that is impossible with the Warrior class. To obtain the two +5 attribute bonuses requires 20 skill advancements in the skills governed by endurance and strength, i.e., in some combination of Armorer, Block, Heavy Armor, Blade, Blunt, and Hand to Hand. But because all six of those skills are class major skills, as soon as 10 skill advancements are obtained, the character will level up. You have to choose between trying to get +5 in just one of these attributes (and then perhaps getting +5 in an attribute that is much less useful to a fighter-type character), or getting two +3 attribute bonuses.
Similar problems are encountered with any standard class. In all cases, the class's chosen attributes – which a character would presumably want to maximize – cannot get +5 attribute bonuses, because the majority of the skills governed by that attribute are major skills. At least one skill governed by an attribute must be a minor skill to enable consistent +5 attribute bonuses, and maximum control is obtained if two of the governed skills are minor skills.
So, for example, a fighter-type character who wants to be able to get +5 bonuses to Endurance and Strength at every level must choose at least one of the skills governed by Endurance (Armorer, Block and Heavy Armor) to be a minor skill, and at least one of the skills governed by Strength (Blade, Blunt and Hand to Hand) to be a minor skill as well. Furthermore, the minor skills must be frequently used. Remember that a total of 20 skill advancements need to be gained in these six skills at each level (10 in endurance-governed skills, and 10 in strength-governed skills); at most 10 of those advancements can come from the major skills (because after 10 your character will always level up). Therefore, at least 10 skill advancements must come from the minor skills. Since more experience must be gained to advance minor skills than major skills, much more than half of your character's time must be spent working on the minor skills. So, if Blade is chosen as the minor skill, the fighter will need to spend more time fighting using bladed weapons than either blunt weapons or fists.
Some additional information about leveling:
- If all your attributes are maxed, you are unable to level; but then again, most players will probably never max out all of their attributes.
- Your attribute bonuses are set when you gain your 10th major skill point. Training skills after that, but before you sleep/level-up, starts the process of accruing skills towards attribute bonuses for the next level-up. It is possible to sleep several times in succession with multiple level-ups.
- It is possible to gain up to three more levels after you've maxed out your skills. Finishing all of the daedric shrine quests gives you the Oghma Infinium. This book will raise three of your skills ten points each, even if they are already mastered. There are a few other free skill boosts that also can be used to collect extra skill increases and could potentially also be used to gain one or two more levels.
- It is also possible to continue to level after you have maxed out your skills by going to jail. See the Crime page for more information.
- Another method of gaining extra levels requires the Shivering Isles expansion pack. During Addiction, you will become addicted to an ingredient called Felldew for the duration of the mission. At its most extreme level, this addiction results in lowering all of your attributes between 10 and 15 points. In an attempt to prevent you from using potions or spells to re-raise your attributes, the game temporarily lowers your base attributes, rather than damaging or draining them. Because of this, you can level up further while suffering from Felldew addiction and when your attributes are restored these additions stay. Towards the end of the quest, when you drink from the Chalice of Reversal, you can never become addicted to Felldew and recreate this effect again.
- Using free skill boosts to raise Spellcasting skills above 100 does not decrease casting cost.
If all of your major skills have been maximized, one way to continue to level your attributes is to decrease your major skills through serving jail time, thus giving you an opportunity to continue leveling your character. There are some pros and cons to this method, however.
- Your Health will continue to increase by 10% of your Endurance (10 HP if your Endurance is at 100)
- This is an opportunity to maximize attributes which affect encumbrance, fatigue, etc.
- For every 100 gold fine (rounded up), you lose 1 skill point. Example: A fine of 5-100 gold yields a 1 skill point loss whereas a fine of 101 gold yields a 2 point loss. The skills affected are random (minor ones can also be included).
- Your skills at Master level will be demoted to Expert level and so on (Armorer is also affected by this, though it often reacts differently with different patches and expansions added to your game).
The following table provides the messages that are displayed when your character levels up; the level in the table is your character's new level.
|2||You realize that all your life you have been coasting along as if you were in a dream. Suddenly, facing the trials of the last few days, you have come alive.|
|3||You realize that you are catching on to the secret of success. It's just a matter of concentration.|
|4||You've done things the hard way. But without taking risks, taking responsibility for failure... how could you have understood?|
|5||Everything you do is just a bit easier, more instinctive, more satisfying. It is as though you had suddenly developed keen senses and instincts.|
|6||You've learned a lot about Cyrodiil... and about yourself. It's hard to believe how ignorant you were, but now you have so much more to learn.|
|7||You resolve to continue pushing yourself. Perhaps there's more to you than you thought.|
|8||The secret does seem to be hard work, yes, but it's also a kind of blind passion, an inspiration.|
|9||So that's how it works. You plod along, putting one foot before the other, look up, and suddenly, there you are. Right where you wanted to be all along.|
|10||You woke today with a new sense of purpose. You're no longer afraid of failure. Failure is just an opportunity to learn something new.|
|11||Being smart doesn't hurt. And a little luck now and then is nice. But the key is patience and hard work.|
|12||You can't believe how easy it is. You just have to go... a little crazy. And then, suddenly, it all makes sense, and everything you do turns to gold.|
|13||It's the most amazing thing. Yesterday it was hard, and today it is easy. Just a good night's sleep, and yesterday's mysteries are today's masteries.|
|14||Today you wake up, full of energy and ideas, and you know, somehow, that overnight everything has changed. What a difference a day makes.|
|15||Now you just stay at your peak as long as you can. There's no one stronger in Tamriel, but there's always someone younger... a new challenger.|
|16||You've been trying too hard, thinking too much. Relax. Trust your instincts. Just be yourself. Do the little things, and the big things take care of themselves.|
|17||Life isn't over. You can still get smarter, or cleverer, or more experienced, or meaner... but your body and soul just aren't going to get any younger.|
|18||With the life you've been living, the punishment your body has taken... there are limits, and maybe you've reached them. Is this what it's like to grow old?|
|19||You're really good. Maybe the best. And that's why it's so hard to get better. But you just keep trying, because that's the way you are.|
|20||By superhuman effort, you can avoid slipping backwards for a while. But one day, you'll lose a step, or drop a beat, or miss a detail... and you'll be gone forever.|
|21+||The results of hard work and dedication always look like luck. But you know you've earned every ounce of your success.|
- If you attempt to level up when all attributes are at 100, the normal level up music will play but after you are finished sleeping you will get the following message instead of the normal level-up screen: "Perfection cannot be improved upon. Your attributes are as high as they can go."