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Multiple Game Examples
- In Morrowind and Oblivion, a custom "Drain Health" spell qualifies. Drain Health reduces your opponent's health, but unlike direct damage spells, the "lost" HP is restored when the spell wears off. Its intended purpose is to lower a target's maximum HP temporarily while you use other attacks to finish them off before the spell ends, which to one with normal logic faculties sounds like a bum deal. However, if the target has less total health than what the spell drains, it will be a One-Hit KO instead. It is also far cheaper in terms of Magicka cost (or Enchantment cost if enchanted onto a weapon) than other spells which deal the same mount of direct damage. (100pts of Drain Health for 1 second vs. 100pts of Fire Damage, for example.)
- Both games also include the Atronach birthsign. At the cost of being unable to naturally regenerate Magicka, the birthsign gives a large boost to your maximum Magicka and gives you a 50% chance to absorb incoming spells. The absorption both negates any damage from the spell as well as recharges your Magicka. While this alone is fairly powerful, combining it with other means of spell absorption or resistance can make it an outright game-breaker. A good example from either game is a Breton (natural 50% Resist Magicka) taking the Atronach birthsign to become the ultimate Mage Killer.
The Elder Scrolls: Arena
The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Healer class is considered by many the best in the game, and for a good reason – while only using the second best level of armor, and only concussion weapons, healers enjoy a considerable discount in the cost of Restoration spells. Among the Restoration spells, there are fortify attribute spells, the absorb magic spells, and above all else, the powerful shield spell. The basic version of the spell creates an invisible shield around the caster, which will absorb 15 points of damage, plus an additional 5 points for every level of the caster before being dissipated. The detail is that there's no duration for this effect; it will simply last until the caster receives enough damage. You can go to the Mage's Guild, create an optimized version of the spell that uses all your Magicka, go to the inn, cast the spell, rest to restore your Magicka, and then head out adventuring with massive, indefinite protection.
- You can easily create a custom version of the Reflect spell to give you 100% spell reflection as early as level SIX. It's a little costly, but if you increase the duration you can easily run around dungeons while watching enemies with magic attacks kill themselves trying to attack you. If you need more Magicka, you can do the same with Spell Absorption.
- The Troll's Blood spell, which non-mages can also use through artifacts like the Lord's Mail or the Necromancer's Amulet. It regenerates health over time, but not fast enough to help in a tough fight. However, it makes dungeon crawling so much easier because you no longer have to worry about safely camping or stocking up on potions to restore your health. This is especially because it not only slowly brings your health back up, but the way the spell works you only need to camp for one or two hours to bring yourself back to full health rather than the often risky nine or so hours you'd usually need. Furthermore, its effect doesn't go away until you leave the dungeon you cast it in, even if you die in that dungeon.
- All magic classes eventually become this at higher levels due to the way that spells scale. A custom 1 + 19 damage spell will do 20 damage at level 1, only enough to kill rats and goblins. At level 21, however, it will do 400 damage, in a game where the three most powerful enemies (including the final boss) have 500-750 hit points. And that's far from the most powerful custom spell that can be created. Battlemages have it especially easy because of their discount to offensive spells, giving them access to insanely powerful magic much earlier in the game.
- The Ranger class is far and away the most powerful combat class in the game. With a damage bonus equal to their level, Rangers will be doing as much damage with the bottom-tier iron weapons as other classes will do with Ebony weapons by level six, and they only get stronger from there. If that wasn't enough, they're also one of only three classes who can wear plate armor—which is both the strongest armor in the game and the only kind that can be enchanted.
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- A number of the below examples trace back to the Obvious Beta nature of the game, along with numerous balance issues therein. To note:
- Getting loans from a bank. Banks give out loans to a maximum of [Player Level x 50,000] gold, with no collateral required up front. There are 43 provinces, and each one is completely independent of each other, and only 3 are actually essential to the plot. Take out a loan from some banks out in the boondocks when you're level 3, and go off and buy yourself a house in your home province. You'll never feel the repercussions, and even if you did return to the boondocks, the guards will never arrest you for it. It's almost literally Money for Nothing. This says nothing of what you can do if you decide to take out the loans at level 10 instead...
- The Unlock spell doesn't check lock strength when the player is in an outdoor area, so you can cast a 1% Chance Unlock spell and it'll always work on any door if you're outdoors. Combine that with how shoplifting is possible by just walking into a shop after hours, and you can rob the entire city blind. All shops restock every day. This makes it easy to make hundreds of thousands of gold in only a few real life hours of work.
- The player is given the SpellMaker ability immediately after joining the Mage's Guild. Spells are formed with incremental formulas: for example, Spell Damage is [X + Y(per level)]. The player can make a nuke spell with damage of [1 + 15(per level)], meaning that if the player is level 6, the nuke will do 90 damage per shot (enough to kill anything that breathes), yet still have a reasonable casting cost.
- The player's attack speed is determined by the Speed stat. Increase it to 100, and monsters literally cannot melee you. You'll swing fast enough that they'll always get knocked back out of range.
- The Character Creation is far more flexible than in any other game in the series. A character can choose permanent Spell Absorption from the start of the game, as well as a bunch of other super-powered abilities, with no drawbacks if the player decides (although it'll take longer to level up if the player only stacks good attributes). Create a Mage with permanent spell absorption, SpellMake an area-affecting nuke spell, and cast it wherever you go. As long as the nuke hits you, you'll regenerate the spell points back and can cast it again immediately; you can chain-nuke your way through any monster in the game. Note also that spell-casting is instantaneous, so if your fingers don't get tired, you can cast a permanent everything-destroying nuke forcefield around yourself as you explore a dungeon. (Sometimes the spell absorption breaks itself and you stop absorbing anything, leading to a horrifying suicide.)
- Another example from the Character Creation (at least in the unpatched version): Choose to play as an Altmer (High Elf), create a custom class, and give yourself Critical Weakness to Paralysis. This weakness gets overridden by Altmer's natural immunity to paralysis, and as such does nothing at all - except giving you triple experience gain rate right off the bat for taking such a "crippling weakness".
- You can enchant an item with a casting skill bonus that raises said skill over 100. Doing so makes spells associated with that particular magicical skill become several magnitudes more powerful. Simply breaking the regular 100 skill cap, the player is capable of crafting a spell that deals hundreds or even thousands of points of damage all with a cost of 5 MP or less (usually 1-5% of total MP).
- If you're playing as a character who doesn't use any magic, pile up all of the magic debuffs and get extremely fast leveling... or use that so you can have super health regen, among other things. If you're a mage, you could also do this by banning a bunch of weapons, armor, and material types so you can get a lot of magic buffs.
- The Ring of Hircine. Normally, becoming a Werewolf/Wereboar gives the player incredible powers, with an immunity to disease, a +30 bonus to various skills, and +40 bonus to all 4 physical attributes (giving the player almost as many stat points as leveling up 27 times, and even that is assuming that the player uses Save Scumming to get the maximum 6 points per level) which are balanced by several disadvantages, like having to murder a civilian once per 15 days or suffer a massive stat and health penalty, and a forced transformation once a month. Wearing the ring removes these disadvantages while keeping all the advantages, meaning that the only disadvantage that remains is having to deal with a few Knights once per in game year. And to top it all off, getting the Ring is fairly simple once you know where to find a Witch or Warlock Coven and have the necessary funds.
- Perhaps the most game-breaking is the 100% guaranteed method to gain two million gold in a half hour (real world, and possibly in-game if you work quickly enough) with only a wagon and the Recall spell (not strictly required but highly recommended). Certain inns (such as the one in The Rusty Goblin Lodge) have several chests on the 2nd floor. Said chests can contain Daedric weaponry (worth several thousand gold each) regardless of your level. The stairs leading up to the 2nd floor are impossible for guards to climb, so you can take your time looting the place. Saving and reloading causes containers to respawn (which works in shops too). So with a bit of Save Scumming you can have a 7 figure bank account and late-game weapons. Just remember to cast Recall outside so you can just warp right out of there when you're done and avoid the horde of guards downstairs.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- The game's Alchemy system allows you to brew potions by combining at least two ingredients with the same effect. (Each ingredient has up to four possible effects.) The strength of the potion is determined by the quality of the alchemical equipment you use (mortal & pestle, alembic, retort, etc.) as well as your Intelligence attribute. Potions can be brewed which raise the Intelligence attribute. You see the problem? By purchasing large quantities of Intelligence-boosting ingredients, using them to make a potion which increases your Intelligence, drinking the potion, making another potion, and then repeating, you can end up with an Intelligence in the tens of thousands. At that point, you can create other potions of whatever you desire which will give you massive boosts over extremely long periods of time. You can, for example, boost your Agility to the point where no enemies can hit you while your attacks always land. Then make a potion of Fortify Attack which will allow you to One-Hit KO anything in the game. These effects will last hundreds of real life hours. This method allows Speed Runs to complete the game's main quest to occur in about ten minutes. It essentially allows you to become The Singularity.
- Certain effects should be avoided, however, as they may 'break the game' in a bad way. Massively fortified Strength will cause all of your weapons to break in a single hit. Massively fortified Acrobatics may cause you to become permanently stuck in the sky. A long-lasting 100% Chameleon effect will render you unable to interact with anyone in the game world. A long-lasting Levitation effect can prevent you from resting (and thus, leveling-up).
- Other Item Crafting game-breakers also exist. Constant effect "Restore Health" enchantments on jewelry like rings or amulets is a particularly popular one. Very few enemies can actually reduce your health fast enough to counter the regeneration, and if you run into one who can, simply enchant a second item with the effect to make it stack.
- At a certain point in the main quest, you will contract the Corprus Disease. Until cured, the disease will drain your mental attributes (Intelligence, Willpower, Personality) while boosting your physical attributes (Strength, Endurance). It will start at one per day, but increase in magnitude over time. If you wait to get cured, your mental attributes will all hit zero but your physical ones will keep increasing into the hundreds. When you get cured, only the drained attributes are reset, leaving you with massive permanent boosts to your physical attributes. Few enemies will be able to stand up to your melee attacks, while you'll be able to absorb anything they can throw at you thanks to your boosted Endurance raising your health by hundreds of points. These boosts are also useful for hauling more loot.
- Custom made "Fortify Skill" custom spells can get extremely powerful. In the vanilla game, the only way to get this spell effect is to complete a long, tedious, and well-hidden sidequest which rewards you with a one-of-a-kind spell. However, the Tribunal expansion allows it to be purchased easily. Creating a spell of "Fortify Skill by 100 points for 1 second" is relatively cheap to make, cheap to cast, and with many skills (Enchant, Alchemy, Mercantile, Speechcraft, Armorer) one second is all you need as they bring up menus which freeze the game time. (Cast the spell and immediately enter the menu. There you can take as much time as you want while the spell will remain in effect.) Other skills require a slightly longer duration, but are still cheap enough to cast. (Security, Sneak, one of the magical skills to allow you to cast one really powerful spell.)
- Similarly, you can create a custom "Drain Skill on Self" spell which drains your skills to abysmal levels. Then you can take advantage of your new pathetic skill points to get extremely cheap skill training. When the spell wears off, your skill is restored with the raises from training added to it. (For example, say you have a Sneak skill of 50. Cast Drain Sneak 40 pts on Self. Go to a Sneak trainer, who will only charge you based off of your current Sneak skill of 10. Train Sneak 10 times to raise the skill to 20. When the spell wears off, you'll have a Sneak of 60 for a lot less money than it would have cost to actually train from 50-60.) This has the bonus effect of allowing you to use any trainer in a given skill. Normally, a trainer can only train you up to his or her level in a given skill. There exist Master Trainers for each skill who can take you all the way to 100, but they are difficult to find, often in out-of-the-way locations, and charge exorbitant prices. By draining the skill enough, any trainer can train you all the way to 100.
- In the vanilla game, Grand Soul Gems (the best and most valuable kind) are rare, as there are no merchants who have restocking quantities, leaving you to find them in random loot or to consult a guide to find guaranteed locations of them. Tribunal adds a merchant with a restocking supply, meaning you have a guaranteed source to buy at least a couple of them from every day. Even the weakest souls trapped in Grand Soul Gems will sell for far more than the cost of the gem, so you can flip them for a hefty profit. Additionally, these are the only gems large enough to hold the souls of creatures (like Golden Saints) which can be used to make Constant Effect enchantments, meaning you can use them to custom enchant constant magical effects onto every piece of equipment you own.
- "Cast When Used" enchanted items can reach game-breaker status. Casting a spell in the usual fashion requires at least a second or two to go through the casting animation, costs Magicka (quite a bit for more powerful spells), and has the possibility of failing (with more powerful spells more likely to fail). However, enchanting the spell onto an item to "Cast When Used" allows you to use it instantly with no Magicka cost, and cannot fail as long as the item has enough enchantment. The instant casting in particular is quite game-breaking, allowing you to Beam Spam enemies with powerful spells as fast as you can click the mouse/button. Even if your enchantment spell only does about 10 points of damage, you can cast it 5 times each second to kill enemies almost instantly. On PC, combine this with a macro from an external piece of software and you can basically have a button on your keyboard that functions as a "kill ALL the things" button as you will be casting as fast as the game can handle. Awesome, but Impractical taken Up to Eleven.
- Combining the permanent 50% Absorb Magicka effect from the Atronach birthsign and then stacking the Sanctuary effect on enchanted items, you will be Nigh Invulnerable. At about 75 Sanctuary, nearly every melee attack will miss and spells cast upon you will have a low chance of hitting. Plus that is before any spell resistance you may have from racial abilities or enchantments. Particularly egregious, since Sanctuary could be enchanted into individual articles of clothing cheaply (if limited to ~10% per item) to easily reach the 75+ threshold.
- Enchanting an item with Constant Effect 100% Chameleon will make you completely invisible to the game world. Unlike actual Invisibility, where the effect ends as soon as you attack or interact with anything, Chameleon stays in effect regardless of what you do. Just make sure it's enchanted onto an item you can take off for when you want to interact with NPCs (merchants, quest givers, trainers, etc.), as having the effect permanently in place otherwise (such as through the aforementioned Alchemy exploit) will "break the game" in the negative sense.
- Joining the Mages Guild and getting to the rank of Conjurer allows you to purchase amazingly powerful scrolls from Folms Mirel in Caldera. Like the "Cast When Used" enchantments above, Scrolls cast instantly and cannot fail. The Conjurer rank is also easily attainable, even for a non-Mage character as the prerequisite skills are still fairly low. For example:
- Drathis Soulrot: Kill almost anything in the game (which does not absorb or reflect magic) in two hits.
- Ekash's Lock Splitter: 100% chance to open any lock. (Though it does not disarm traps.)
- Windform: Extremely fast Levitation in addition to invisibility for 60 seconds.
- Summon Golden Saint: The most powerful normal summon in the game. Even better, you can Soul Trap the Golden Saints you summon to turn into easy Constant Effect enchantments.
- Fphyggi's Gem-Feeder: Soul Trap for 60 seconds.
- The haggling mechanic with merchants can be abused to hell and back in a few ways. To note:
- Offer a very, very low price (even 1 gold) on a transaction with a merchant, regardless of how much it is actually worth. The merchant will almost certainly refuse, but just keep offering it over and over again. The only penalty is that each failure will cause the merchant's disposition to drop slightly. Given the game's "dice roll" skill mechanics, there is a 1% chance of a "Critical Success" regardless of how lopsided the offer is. Just keep mashing the button and, eventually, the merchant will accept it. Once you succeed, simply exit the dialogue interface with the merchant and re-enter to restore his/her disposition.
- In the unpatched version of the game, an even greater exploit exists. The haggling interface allows you to offer a negative amount of money when buying items. Before the first patch, the Mercantile skill check didn't take into account whether the amount offered was positive or negative. Offering a negative amount that matched the asking price of the item would therefore make the game think that you were offering exactly as much as the vendor asked for, causing the NPC to accept the transaction, give you the item, and pay you the money as well.
- Lampshaded in the in-game book "The Buying Game," which stated the "Buying Game" could be "broken" by offering "insultingly low offers."
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The player can craft five pieces of armor which each have the "Chameleon 20%" enchantment. Since spell effects stack, equipping them all results in the player being completely invisible. The way the game is coded makes it so that enemies can't intentionally attack the player no matter what, making the player almost immortal. This leads to the game actually becoming slightly overwhelming, as certain NPC interactions disregard the player's undetectable state, making for some very odd inconsistencies. If the player considers Bribing Your Way to Victory, then they can purchase an add-on which allows them to obtain this armor at level 1.
- Daedric Sigil Stones contain a potent random effect you can use to empower a previously mundane item in place of a standard enchantment. You can capture one Sigil Stone from each Oblivion Gate that you close, and there are some 90+ Oblivion Gates in the game. If you employ Save Scumming, you can keep re-loading your game right before you take the stone, allowing you to get a specific effect with each one to apply to every item in your possession.
- The game allows you to collect a set of items which give you 100% invulnerability to magic and melee damage, pretty much 90% of all the damage your character will take and the remaining 10% of ranged attacks can simply be dodged.
- Related but even more devastating to the above game-breaker is having a 100% Reflect effect in place. The AI is unable to recognize that any damage they do will be thrown back in their face, causing every enemy who attacks you to essentially kill themselves without you having to lift a finger.
- As with previous installments, you can make your own custom spells. While heavily Nerfed from the game-breaking insanity in Morrowind, you can still creatively combine spell effects to temporarily make yourself a god-like craftsman, negotiator, or alchemist for a few seconds (as, once again, opening the interface menu freezes the game time). Furthermore, you can custom make extremely cheap "training" spells which cost less Magicka to cast than you naturally regenerate per second. For example, a "Restore Health 1pt on Self" spells cast over and over will boost your Restoration skill to the cap in a few hours. (Put something heavy or tape down the button, then walk away. Come back to find your character as the greatest healer in Tamriel.)
- It is possible to make a legitimate One-Hit KO skill. A player with 100 Destruction skill can make a spell to do 100 Fire, 100 Frost, 100 Shock, and 100 Magic Damage on touch for exactly 250 Magicka. Although costly, it will almost anything in the game in one hit, and its use of every element makes it work around most enemy resistances.
- Also like Morrowind, buff stacking using spells, potions, and enchantments can become quite the game-breaker. However, in another Nerf, the game is hard-coded to prevent skill and attribute values from going above 255. That said, 2.5x the normal cap for certain skills can still be extremely powerful.
- "Weakness Stacking" is the name for another game-breaking option which can be applied to custom spells or enchantments. For example, a spell of 100 pts of Fire Damage is going to cost a good deal of Magicka to cast. However, a spell with 10 pts of Fire Damage that adds 100% "Weakness to Fire" and "100% Weakness to Magicka" will cost less to cast while still dealing considerable damage. Even better, multiple castings (or strikes, in the case of an enchanted weapon) cause the "weakness" portion to stack. Your first stirke will make your opponents doubly weak to Magicka (100% from the spell effect + base 100% susceptibility), so your second strike would be doubly effective, inflicting another 200% vulnerability for a total of 400%. And so on, with each strike doubling your opponent's susceptibility to magic. It will only take 5-6 hits to kill anything in the game.
- While custom spells rule the day the vast majority of the time, there are a few spells learned through quests which give a Magicka cost discount over making your own custom spell with the same effect. For example, Wizard's Fury is given to the player in the course of the Mage's Guild questline, it is a triple-elemental projectile that is more than 50% cheaper to use than a player-made spell with the same properties. It is a great ranged attack.
- Custom "Chain Spells" are another game-breaker. Simply combine whatever spell effect you want (Healing, Shock Damage, Drain Health, etc.) with a "Fortify Magicka" effect higher than the cost of casting the spell itself for 3 seconds (the time it tasks to cast a spell). As long as you keep casting it in succession, you'll never run out of Magicka. You can clear an entire room of enemies in this fashion. The only downside is that after you've stopped casting, the Fortify Magicka effect will wear off and leave you with zero Magicka. If you're a Squishy Wizard, hopefully you didn't miss anyone...
- In the unpatched version of the game, you can use Azura's Star (a reusable Grand Soul Gem) to basically print money. Simply do the following: have a weapon or spell with the Soul Trap effect, kill an enemy while taking their soul, take any piece of crap equipment you can get your hands on, enchant it, and sell it. Lather, rinse, repeat. You can make equipment that's THOUSANDS of times its original value just by enchanting it, no matter how measly or useless the enchantment is. A later patch would Nerf this mechanic, as it tweaks Altars of Enchantment to match the expense of enchanting an item with the value of the resultant item.
- A custom enchanted dagger easily become a game-breaker. Enchant a dagger with "Drain Health 100pts for 2-3 seconds" and "Weakness to Magic 100pts for 2-3 seconds". As daggers are the fastest striking weapon in the game (about two hits per seconds), you can quickly dish out enough damage to kill any foe in only 3-4 hits. So the first hit, the target loses 100 health. The next (due to Weakness to Magic) 200, the next: 400, then 800, then 1600...more than anything in the game actually has. Throw in a Soul Trap enchantment if you wish to quickly fill up soul gems for enchanting and recharging the dagger.
- Other game-breaking custom enchantments include:
- "Assassin's Clothing": Acquire a weightless item (Black Hoods, Mage's Hoods, Dark Shirts, and Black Wide Pants are all possibilities). Enchant with: Damage Health x pts. Effect: The NPC equips, then slowly dies as their HP drains away x points per second. And they won't attribute it to anything. How to use: Reverse pick-pocket the item onto the target (possible due to the item weighing 0. If not, you can't reverse pick-pocket). Notes: More effective than poison apples, as the NPC doesn't need to eat, and will normally instantly equip it. Also reusable. If you want, change the enchantment to: Fire (or any other element) Damage x pt for pretty colors and elemental themed death.
- "Anasthesia Garment": Works as above, but you enchant with Damage Fatigue 15 pts (you may need other equipment to be enchanted to get to a total of 15 pts per second). With this, give it to any NPC to put them in a And I Must Scream situation. They collapse and are unable to recover. Ever. (DANGEROUS: CAN BREAK QUESTLINES IF USED ON IMPORTANT IMMORTAL NPCS SUCH AS MARTIN!!!!!). The reason is that the NPC equips the item(s) and their fatigue will drain faster than it regenerates. And then they collapse, but will be unable to get up. And if used on an immortal NPC, you've disable them permanently (and lost your item as you can't kill them, so can't reclaim from body). Note: Incapacitated NPCs can still alert guards.
- "A Silent Death": As above, but enchant with Silence. All mages instantly lose their ability to do anything that can harm you.
- By exploiting a certain glitch, you can summon permanent "Bound" weapons and armor. That may not seem like much, but summoned equipment is completely weightless and can be enchanted. You could theoretically carry an infinite amount of enchanted sets of armor and weapons with ANY of the above gamebreaker enchant combinations. It also helps that these summoned items are on par with Daedric equipment, the strongest non-unique class in the game.
- The magical staff Wabbajack is the reward for completing Sheogorath's Daedric Quest. It transforms the target into a random creature, which could be anything from a lowly rat to a not-so-lowly ogre. However, at a high-enough level, the staff starts breaking games, due to the Level Scaling Scrappy Mechanic. Since enemies level-scale with the player character, turning a high-level enemy into anything using Wabbajack will make it weaker than it was before. Cue a one-hit kill on a monster "designed" for players ten levels lower.
- As mentioned, the game's Level Scaling mechanic is extremely broken. If you aren't careful when leveling up (such as by Min-Maxing and generally acting like a Munchkin), enemies can quickly get too strong for you to handle. However, you can avoid leveling up completely by never resting. Your skills will still increase, however, leading to the world being saved from a horde of feeble monsters by a strangely competent insomniac.
- Unlock spells. Get your Alteration skill to at least expert level. Make a spell that opens very hard locks. You will never, ever need lockpicks again (save for one of S'Krivva's Thieves Guild quests). Combine this with the 100% chameleon suit, add equipment, spells, and potions that do feather, and you can rob a whole city blind. If you use this to steal stuff for the Thieves Guild, the world is your oyster and you can access missions right away by selling all your stolen goods to just one fence.
- Similarly, Nocturnal's artifact, the Skeleton Key, is an unbreakable lockpick. It basically allows you to infinitely spam the auto attempt button during the Lockpicking Minigame, until the lock opens. This small piece of metal more or less hands you the whole gameworld on a silver platter.
- An exploit called "Burning" or "Ripping" requires equipping an item enchanted with a skill boost. Doing something "force" the item to unequip will remove the item...but not the skill boost. Doing it repeatedly allows the skill boost to stakc.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Within hours of Skyrim's release, players found that putting a basket over the heads of everyone in a given room allows them to steal everything with impunity. The developers have said they'll leave in any bugs that don't outright break the game or make it unfun; the devs actually found out about the bucket trick a few days before release, but decided not to patch it because they thought it was funny.
- In order to avoid the the exponential curve of improving potions from Morrowind, Skyrim does not allow you to make potions or enchantments which can improve themselves (barring one exception, a unique set of enchantment-boosting armor). You can, however, make enchantments and potions which boost each other, which is almost as useful. You can ping-pong the effects back and forth between them several times. If you abuse absolutely every enchanting and alchemy boost available, you can attain up to 49% enchanting boost and 39% alchemy boost. This allows you to make weapons do up to five times the damage they normally can, give even the weakest armor enough points to reach the armor cap, and make potions that can heal absurd amounts of damage or increase your weapon skills to twice their normal level, among other extremely useful effects.
- The Fortify Restoration glitch. All "Fortify" effects, no matter what they do, count as Restoration magic, and Fortify Restoration boosts them accordingly. This has no limit. Taking advantage of this lets you make potions that fortify your skills by the thousands and millions in less than ten minutes. Taking it too far however will crash the game. With the addition of legendary skills in patch 126.96.36.199.8, you can, after making your Fortify Alchemy and Fortify Smithing enchants more useful, make potions that sell for millions of gold, and improve the value of iron daggers by over 50,000 at base Alchemy and Smithing. With just one potion or weapon improvement of that magnitude you can level the requisite skill from 15 to 100, and then reset it and do it again. Indefinitely, with enough crafting materials. When that is done, and you have items of a ridiculous value in your inventory, you can sell each one for enough exp to boost speech from 15 to 100 as well, and buy even more crafting materials to continue the process. That's 3 skills you can trivially max out and reset for now infinite levels, for thousands of base Health, Magicka, or Stamina.
- The Endless Stagger: a perk for Destruction magic will cause an enemy to stagger when hit by a double cast spell (casting the same spell with both hands so that instead of two spells, it makes a single, more powerful spell). Here's what makes it a Game Breaker: It staggers everything short of an Elder Dragon, anything over the novice "spray" spells will stagger any enemy, and if your Magicka regen or cost reduction is high enough (not hard to do), you can spam it ad nauseam. As long as you cast the spell as your opponent has just come out of the stagger, it will stagger him again. This even works on Dragon Priests, so you can keep them from getting off any spells if you are quick enough. Use the 0% destruction magic trick above, and you can do this endlessly until the target dies. Multiple opponents are much more difficult, but with area spells like fireball and jumping attacks like chain lightning, still possible.
- In the unpatched version of there game, there is a glitch involving the Oghma Infinium., a Rare Candy book meant to be single-use can be glitched into replicating endlessly, providing full skill and level cap within minutes. This exploit was later patched.
- After complaints of Useless Useful Stealth in the previous games in the series, the devs apparently overcompensated. A stealthy character with the right perks and equipment becomes the single most destructive force in the game. It is possible to gain a 30x multiplier on dagger Backstabs by combining the Assassin's Blade perk with the Shrouded Gauntlets. Want to take it Up to Eleven? Use Valdr's Lucky Dagger, which has a 25% chance to trigger a Critical Hit. It stacks with the perk and gauntlets, meaning that you can effectively dish out 5 (basic damage) x 1.5 (critical damage) x 30 damage (Assassin's Blade + Shrouded Gauntlet), that's 225 damage, effectively a guaranteed One-Hit Kill on virtually everything, and that's not even counting any upgrade. Should you upgrade the dagger into legendary, not even a Dwarven Centurion can survive a slice from your tiny steel dagger.
- For minimal effort you can make Vegetable Soup at a cooking station. Eating it gives you a small boost to Health and Stamina regen per second for 720 seconds. While you can still be overwhelmed by groups of enemies, the regen rate boost is enough to allow you to defeat nearly any single foe in the game without much risk.
- Unequipping and reequipping enchanted gear that increases Stamina, Health and/or Magicka automatically gives you that amount. The gear change can be hotkeyed. Thus, you can cycle identical sets of gear as to continually replenish the stats without ever being without armor.
- Being an Orc is, if properly exploited, a serious Game Breaker for melee characters in a couple of ways:
- Orcs have only racial ability, but it so powerful that the developers did not need to give them another - Berserk. Take half damage, deal double damage, for 60 seconds. You can kill a LOT of enemies in 60 seconds, or one genuinely powerful enemy. As long as you are quick enough, once a dragon lands, an Orc can damage 50% of a dragon's health before it can take off, which will cause the dragon to be grounded. From there, you can finish it off without worrying about it taking off and attacking from the air. It's so overpowering that a few mods opt to nerf it by making the player take additional damage while using it instead, which is more appropriate for a berserker rage.
- The freedom to immediately enter Orc strongholds. A player character of any other race must complete a quest before being allowed access. However, an Orc fresh off the Helgen executioner's block can stroll right in. In particular, Gloombound Mine is located within an Orc stronghold, and it has the most Ebony veins of any mine in the game. An Orc can walk right in with a pickaxe and mine every ore vein in the place, resulting in 10-15 ingots worth each trip. And the veins regularly regenerate. While you need to reach 80 in the Smithing skill tree to actually craft anything with it, the ingots are quite valuable and sell for a pretty penny. A low level Orc can make plenty of money by mining, smelting, and selling (none of which require a particular level or skill).
- The Mannequins in Honeyside can be exploited to duplicate any armor in the game. While any mannequin can do this, Honeyside is the easiest to obtain. This can allow you to duplicate expensive armors to sell, or duplicate armors that are only attainable once, such as the Nightingale Armor (coincidentally, the quest you need to start to get the Nightingale armor is the same town Honeyside's in: Riften).
- Certain skills can be freely and cheaply maxed out without using them whatsoever. The earliest example of this is the Faendal exploit, where you can pay him to train you in Archery, then take back the money due to him being a follower (since this allows you to access his inventory). The Companions have five members who can do the same thing, but they're better in that they're not capped at 50 per skill like Faendal is (two of them are capped at 90, the highest trainers can go). The catch is that you have to complete the Companions questline before you can take back the money.
- Casting Soul Trap on your horse does not kill it, but it still levels your Conjuration skill. If you have a horse and a way to quickly regen your Magicka, you can reach 100 in Conjuration in less than an hour. The same trick works for the Illusion skill if you have Pacify, a spell designed to render creatures passive. Even if your horse already likes you, hitting it still counts.
- Surprising Oblivion players, Archery can very easily be this. Get a bow, enchant it with Paralyze for 1-5 sec and the unique Fiery Soul Trap enchantment (10 pts fire damage, soul trap between 1-10 seconds) and a grand soul. Set soul trap and paralyze to 1, and you have a bow with several hundred charges that almost completely refills even from a petty soul and deals bow damage +10 fire and has a 50% chance to make anyone it hits fall down (the falling down and getting up animation makes the 1 seconds paralyze actually last for closer to 4 seconds). Put this on, say, a crafted Daedric bow and sneak attack and you're doing enough damage to one-shot ANY humanoid, or two-shot a mammoth.
- A simple, rare alteration spell, Transmute, can easily be this. It's almost impossible to find in shops, but it is guaranteed to be found in Halted Stream Camp, a bandit lair in walking distance of Whiterun, on a table in plain view. The spell does two things: when cast, it will turn a single piece of iron ore into silver, or a piece of silver ore into gold. Two castings of the spell will turn a lump of iron ore, the most commonly found ore in the game, that has multiple mines spread through Skyrim, into one of the most expensive. And crafting jewelry requires no levels in Smithing whatsoever. An adept level spell, it has a high Magicka cost (nearly 100), but with high Magicka regen (or just by waiting an hour after each use, which restores it for free), you can spam it repeatedly, and an adept in Alteration can cast it at lower cost. Turn the gold ore into ingots, then jewelry, enchant them, and you have some high grade Vendor Trash to sell. This allows you to raise Smithing, Speech, and Enchanting easily (enchanted rings and necklaces sell quite well). It's practically money for nothing. The best part? Halted Stream Camp, the best place to find it, is AN IRON MINE. There are 16 iron veins inside, so you can pull 48 gold ore in just one run. And you won't even need to bring your own pickaxe, they can be found all over. Just one more reason to use your spells.
- When enchanting equipment to raise your skill and sell, enchant it with Waterbreathing. Why? Because the Waterbreathing enchantment has no magnitude (you either can breathe underwater or you can't, it's as simple as that). The size of the soul gem you use to apply the enchantment doesn't matter. You don't need to fill and expend a bunch of Grand Soul Gems to maximize profits; using the much cheaper and easier to fill Petty Soul Gems will have the exact same effect. Plus Waterbreathing equipment always sells for a relatively high price with merchants. Just remember to search the shops often when you start the game, because Waterbreathing is a low-level enchantment that will very quickly get crowded out by better ones as your level increases. Muffle is also good for this purpose, as it shares the same all-or-nothing property.
- The most basic Conjuration necromancy spell, Raise Zombie, can easily be used to raise your conjuration to level 50 by the end of Bleak Fall Barrow. How? Cast it on a corpse, then strike the raised creature with the weapon and/or attack spell of your choice, until the creature goes hostile. The moment it does so, you get a large amount of experience in Conjuration. Why? You only get Conjuration increases if your raised zombie engages in combat against something. That something can be anything, even yourself. As long as you don't kill the zombie before it turns hostile, you'll raise both your Conjuration and your favored attack skill. And zombie raising gives a TREMENDOUS increase compared to Daedra summons. Just cast it on any basic enemy (bandit, draugr, skeever), make it turn against you, kill it, and you'll be leveling up lightning fast. The best part? Any corpse will do, even ones that were dead before you entered the level. Bleak Falls Barrow is littered with basic corpses that you can raise then rekill to boost you conjuration at lightning speed. Oh, and if you've mastered Illusion, you can just raise the creature, cast Fury on it (only possible with the perk that allows Illusion spells to affect the undead), and you'll get the increases automatically. Even if you only intend to use Bound Weapons, this trick will let you have the levels necessary to get the Bound Bow spell (most expensive, requires level 50 Conjuration) and all the perks relating to Bound Weapons by the time you clear the barrow. (Plus, there's the fun of getting to kill your enemies a second time.)
- The Telekinesis spell can quickly raise your Alteration to 100 in minutes. To obtain it, you either need a 40 in Alteration or to do the Mage Guild Quest for Labyrinthian. The spell allows you to draw any inventory item to your character, at an extremely high Magicka cost. However, it grants a shocking amount of skill increase when maintained. With enchantments, the cost is easily overcome. Craft an equipment set to nullify the Alteration spell costs, then cast telekinesis on an object, preferably one in your house. Bind your attack key to something (you can leave a paperweight on or tape it down) and come back in around 15 minutes. Voila, you're at 100 Alteration and have ~5 new levels to show for it. Patch 1.9 introduced the ability to make skills legendary, allowing you to reset a perk without losing the levels you previously gained. By simply using Telekinesis and repeatedly resetting Alteration, your overall level can go into the hundreds within a few hours.
- Why wait for ~15 minutes? Just pick up an object telekinetically with both hands, pull up the world map and fast-travel somewhere reasonably far away (Whiterun to Solitude works fine). Wait for the loading screen to disappear, open your skill menu, reset your Alteration 100 to Alteration 15, rinse and repeat. Since the object you were holding remains at the fast-travel point of arrival, you don't even need some new junk every time you do this - two pieces of Vendor Trash are entirely sufficient. That way you'll hit the "I've maxed out every perk there is in the game" point so fast you'll be wishing you'd left something to level the old-fashioned way, because now there's next to no character building left to do (and you're ridiculously overpowered on any difficulty level).
- The Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow, available in Dawnguard, is a huge game breaker for the following reasons: it's easy to get (just completing a set of six quests will make it available in a store in Fort Dawnguard), it has slightly higher base damage than a Dragonbone Bow (the most powerful regular bow in the game), and it has an innate ability to ignore 50% of enemy armor. Better yet, this is not an enchantment, so the crossbow can be enchanted on top of that. This is THE weapon to have if you're trying to create a stealthy sniper. Oh, and along the way, you'll unlock access to exploding crossbow bolts that stack fire, frost, or shock damage on top of the damage you're already doing. The only downsides are that it's louder than a bow and crossbows are slower to reload that standard bows, so a skilled archer can fire more shots (and thus do more damage) in the time it takes to reload the crossbow. (This bow vs. crossbow debate played out in real life during the middle ages.)
- Summon Durnehviir. While he does have as much health and is as unmountable as Odahviing, he knows (and can teach the Dragonborn) the "Soul Rend" Shout (Killing, Soul Trapping, and Resurrecting a hapless opponent), breathes frost and summons three friendly undead that are lot more stronger than common draugr. Oh, and you can summon him INDOORS. Surrounded by Falmer and chaurus? Durnehviir. Need to fight the skeletal dragon in the labyrinth? Durnehviir. Final battle against Alduin? DURNEHVIIR.
- Auriel's Bow, one of the MacGuffin items in Dawnguard, is in fact an extremely powerful bow with a few bonuses that make it supremely powerful: Firstly, it does 60 sun damage to the undead (the best enchanted weapons a player can manufacture will only be able to add at most 60 bonus damage normally, unless you use alchemy boosts). Second, when using Sunblessed arrows (all you need to make them is to take Elvish Arrows to a certain NPC), it has a powerful sunburst effect that damages groups of enemies. Third, its damage rivals Daedric and Dragonbone bows, and can be greatly improved with Smithing. At max Smithing, it exceeds even a Dwarven Crossbow or Dragonbone Bow. Fourth, and this is the most incredible, if you shoot a Sunblessed arrow at the sun with this bow, it will turn the sun into a Kill Sat, randomly blasting anything and everything nearby for a few minutes. Incredibly useful during battles with dragons during the day. Oh, and you get to keep the bow after the Dawnguard questline is over. It can also fire cursed arrows that do extra damage against the living and, when fired into the sun, make it night. The latter ability is almost indispensable for vampires, but can also be used to make ideal sneaking conditions.
- The Aetherium Crown, one of the three possible rewards for the sidequest "Lost To The Ages" (you can initiate this by finding the book The Aetherium Wars, which is liberally scattered throughout most cities and towns in Skyrim after installing Dawnguard) allows you to retain two Standing Stone Abilities. How is this a gamebreaker? You can use this to obtain the Lover Stone ability (+15% to all exp gains) and any of the three Guardian Stone abilities (+20% to Warrior, Thief, or Mage abilities). Additionally, if you put the Lover Stone on the crown, you can remove it, get a sleeping bonus, and put it back on, negating the drawback of the Lover Stone. Stacked, that allows for up to a 30% general exp increase as well as 20% in exp gains to the expertise of your choice, greatly increasing the speed of your character growth. Or, if you've already maxed your exp, if you can locate the Lord Stone and The Atronach Stone, you can use them to greatly improve your defensive capabilities. Or the Apprentice Stone and the Atronach Stone, which means you get all the strengths of both stones while at the same time negating their weaknesses (The Apprentice stone increases your Magicka regen, but makes you twice as vulnerable to magic. The Atronach Stone increases your Magicka, and gives you 50% magic attack absorption, but halves your Magicka regen. Combine the two, and your magic defense is essentially the same, but you gain magicka each time you are hit with a spell, and you get a bonus to your Magicka at the same time).
- For Vampire Lords, most of their abilities constitute a Disc-One Nuke, since their powers will eventually be overshadowed by a regular character's higher level skills. However, there is one power that is going to be useful even if your character is at high levels. It's available as soon as you have access to your second perk: Vampiric Grip. It's telekinesis that works exclusively on enemies. When you use it, enemies are suspended in midair and they take light damage. When you let go, though, they get tossed with great force in any direction you choose, even straight up. Nearly every boss room in the game has a high ceiling, so you can grab just about every enemy in the game, then throw him straight up into the air. After he lands, he'll take a significant amount of damage. No matter how strong a boss may be, he won't survive more than a few round trip tickets from the floor to the ceiling and back. While this spell burns through Magicka quickly, it only takes two to three seconds at most to send an enemy skyward, and with sufficient Magicka regen, you can repeat it at will without fear of running out of Magicka. It has already been confirmed that it can toss giants effortlessly, leaving mammoths and dragons as the only creatures not yet confirmed to be affected by this spell. Meaning that, with the exception of the two largest creatures in the game, there's nothing that this spell can't lift and throw for you. Two seconds of effort, then gravity does the rest.
- For specific/unique weapons, there's the Windshear, a scimitar obtainable towards the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline (it can be found on the Katariah, the Emperor's ship). Its enchantment causes anyone and anything hit by the sword to always stagger, meaning any 1v1 melee battle while using it will almost be a guaranteed win (assuming you can get up close to them and not be deterred by any ranged attacks), even against grounded Ancient Dragons.
- Hearthfire makes alchemy in general absurdly effective by adding the ability to grow your own plants at the three homesteads. You can plant certain ingredients in plots outside the house or in the greenhouse if you've built it. In one day, a grown plant will emerge that will give anywhere from three to five of the ingredient, compared to one in the wild. The plant regenerates every three days, or you can just rip it out and replant it to do it in one. The speed at which you build up ingredients is absurd if you have both your greenhouse and outdoor plants at full capacity, and that's just one house. You can effortlessly make your own health potions, boost potions, and deadly poisons instead of having to wander the countryside for rare ingredients. You still have to hunt for insects, fish, nirnroots, creature parts, etc, but this takes 99% out of the previous hard work that went into alchemy use. Alternatively, with a few choice ingredients, you can create an extremely valuable potion that you can simply sell to alchemists for whatever ingredients you need, and endlessly craft more for a continuous source of revenue.
- Conjuration and Illusion, used in conjunction, can be a tremendous game breaker. Let's review: Illusion allows you to manipulate enemy behavior (make enemies enraged, afraid, or calm) and bolster your allies. Conjuration allows you to summon creatures to aid you. Nearly maxed out, Illusion allows you to use your skills on undead, daedra, and automatons. So, you can hit your enemy with a fear spell, so that he won't try to fight, then summon a Dremora Lord or two, then use a spell to make said Dremora even stronger. Then play The Benny Hill Show chase music while your dremora chase down and kill the enemy who is too scared to fight. This helps overcome the typical enemy habit of initially ignoring your summons and attacking you first, since by the time the fear spell runs out, the two summoned creatures are the greater threat.
- Turns out there was a reason to save all those brooms. In the Mages College at Winterhold, the Atronach Forge allows you to craft several items. With a broom, Void Salts, an unfilled soul gem greater level or higher, and an Orichalcum ingot or ore fragment, you can craft a Staff of Storm Atronach. In addition to being a very powerful staff, it also sells very, very well, the staff selling much better than its ingredients do. Even better, with the exception of Void Salts, you can find all of the stuff lying around, and even Void Salts will occasionally show up around alchemy workspaces and apothecary pouches. You can also use the Atronach Forge to make Void Salts with just an amethyst, any unfilled soul gem (petty is most cost effective), and salt.
- A new enchantment, Chaos, in Dragonborn allows an enchanted weapon to have a 50% chance of doing additional fire, shock, and/or ice damage with each swing. This enchantment benefits from perks relating to all three damage types, regardless of which one is actually triggered when you attack. In addition, the bonus to frost enchantments when applied to Stalhrim weapons also applies to the Chaos enchantment. A master enchanter with potion boosts (and the boosts to potions and enchanting also found in Dragonborn, but without the restoration boosts) can place an enchantment that does over one hundred and fifty damage from each element. An added bonus is that Chaos enchantments, if combined with a second enchantment, boost the power of the second enchantment. The Absorb Health enchantment can hit for 100 health each swing when stacked on a Chaos weapon, doing ridiculous damage and making you practically immortal. Elemental resistant enemies are less vulnerable to this, but even they can be wiped out with just a few swings on the highest difficulty.
- After the conclusion of Dragonborn, the Black Book that takes you to the final boss battle gives you the ability to reset your perks anytime, anywhere. If you used the Oghma Infinium glitch to max out your stats, this means that your character now can be used to clear every questline in the game, and you can use it to make insanely powerful equipment, then transfer the perks from your crafting skills to your combat skills. 80 perk points can now be placed wherever you please, any time you please. If you want to do everything in the game, you now have the power to do so with a single character.
- It is possible to create a character with 100% magic absorption: The Atronach Stone grants 50% spell absorption at the cost of reduced Magicka regen (can be overcome or lessened with enchantments, and perks from the school of Restoration). The Atronach perk grants 30% spell absorption. Miraak, the big bad of Dragonborn, wears an equipment set that, when the robes, gloves, and boots are worn together, offers 25% spell absorption. That comes to 105% total. Combine this with the Dragonhide Master level spell in Alteration, and you are Nigh Invulnerable. The only drawbacks to this is that it will prevent you from being able to cast Conjuration Spells, and it will also absorb any healing spells, or Alteration armor spells you cast on yourself while at 100% absorption.
- The Necromage perk is pretty decent on its face. It provides a 25% bonus/50% duration effect to any spell applied to the undead. As undead are by far the most common enemy, this is highly useful on its own. What makes it a true gamebreaker, however, is how it behaves when you become a vampire. Vampires are undead, and so are you as a vampire. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not only does Necromage affect your spells, it also affects everything the game considers a magical effect, like bonuses from enchanted equipment, certain quest rewards, and even a few perks, so long as Necromage was chosen prior to getting those perks. With Dragonborn, you can respec all your perks and immediately go for Necromage first, allowing you to enhance all your skills at the cost of a few dragon souls (not terribly hard to get by the time you can do this). Add on Vampire Lord from Dawnguard to remove the biggest weakness of being a vampire and you have a character that further breaks many of the game's already formidable abilities. Or alternatively, just cure your vampirism. You get to keep the Necromage bonus until you lose the magical effect it boosted (by removing the perk, enchanted equipment, etc.) and unless you are forced to do it by some quest, you have very little reason to do it, and you can always just become a vampire again in the rare cases it does happen. With this method, the player can gain things like 100% spell absorption in the vanilla game (with the Atronach stone and the Atronach perk), or the ability to forge even more powerful equipment with the smithing trick above.
- Offensive skills, those that require you to actually be hitting something, can't typically be leveled without danger to your person. Unless you attack Shadowmere (a reward from a quest in the Dark Brotherhood chain) or Arvak (you can gain the ability to summon him in the Soul Cairn, accessed as part of the Dawnguard questline). Shadowmere has a ludicrous amount of health and a Healing Factor that makes her Nigh Invulnerable, making for a great punching bag to level combat skills on. Even if you do accidentally kill her (however unlikely), she respawns in a few days. Arvak is a little less convenient for this purpose, as he has less health and lasts only 60 seconds anyways, so you constantly need to resummon him whenever he dies or despawns. However, Arvak can be acquired without joining and advancing in the Dark Brotherhood if you do not wish to do so.
- If you somehow feel that you aren't leveling Conjuration fast enough, there's a super easy way to do so: Kill anything in the game, a basic bandit, a fox, a wolf, anything, and spam the ever-loving heck out of Soul Trap on its corpse. You get a decent bit of exp from each cast, and due to Soul Trap's relatively low cost, you can easily squeeze out enough experience to get you to 100 Conjuration within the hour.
- The "Marked For Death" Shout is this due to an oversight in programming. Instead of reducing armor values for the duration of a minute, it permanently reduced armor values every time you Shouted at something. The effect stacking allows for negative armor values to occur, and this multiplies physical damage by an absurd amount. Even high leveled dragons can die in as few as two Power Attacks with enough Shouting.
- Investing heavily in the Sneak skill will turn you into a combat god, thanks to two perks: Assassin's Blade, the damage output of which is detailed above, and Shadow Warrior. The balancing factor of sneak attacks is that you have to, well, sneak up on your target. Shadow Warrior throws that balance off a cliff by making you invisible for a second or two whenever you enter stealth. The result? You can walk up to an enemy in plain sight, crouch, and immediately sneak attack them in the face.
- For werewolves with Dawnguard installed, casting Soul Trap or any necromancy spell on an enemy whose heart you've eaten in werewolf form will for some reason count as eating their heart again, allowing you to earn werewolf perks twice as fast.