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Disc One Nuke / The Elder Scrolls

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The Elder Scrolls series' combination of Wide Open Sandbox and Always Check Behind the Chair (though you may need a Guide Dang It!) means that a thorough and/or experienced player can, in many cases, equip themselves with upper-end gear very early in the game at little to no risk.

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     The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall 
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
  • One option during character creation allows you to generate your character with an Ebony dagger (second-best material in the game). It is very difficult to do without a guide, requiring the player to generate their character via questionnaire and hinges upon one of the twenty or so questions, but it is quite worth it as it will be quite some time before you can acquire Ebony equipment any other way.

     The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  • Due to the game's almost total lack of Level Scaling (unique for the series), Morrowind provides the most opportunities in the series to date to acquire "nuke" level equipment at extremely low levels. Some of the more notable examples are below.
  • In a few cases an upper-end item is owned by a relatively weak and non-hostile NPC - if you know who to murder, you can get unique and powerful items:
    • The Amulet of Shadows gives you 80% Chameleon (effectively invisible) for a decent amount of time and is found in the custody of an easy-to-kill archer in the middle of the wilderness. (If you aren't big on murder, you can get him to attack you first by completing his associated quest.)
    • The Masque of Clavicus Vile is one of the best heavy armor helmets in the game and boosts your Personality by 30 points (making everybody like you). It is owned by a relatively low-level wizard (though you'll need to deal with/sneak past his much stronger bodyguards).
  • The Mentor's Ring, which massively buffs your spell casting abilities, can be found in a tomb not far from the First Town and is guarded by low-level undead. Similarly, Denstagmer's Ring (which gives you 30% resistance to Fire, Shock, and Frost magic) and the Ring of the Phynaster (20% resistance to Poison, Magicka, and Shock) are likewise available in tombs not far from towns you can use boats/silt striders to access quickly. As you can only equip two rings at a time, it may be a bigger challenge to decide which two you want to equip than it is to acquire them.
  • It is possible to get Goldbrand, one of the most powerful swords in the game, by swimming in the correct place, spending a lot of gold, and then waiting about two in-game weeks. Save for any creatures which spawn in the ocean or near the construction site, you may not even have to fight anything to get it.
  • In Balmora, you can easily steal a Sword of White Woe, an enchanted Ebony broadsword, by jumping just out of line of sight of a nearby guard. Do so, and you'll have a weapon that can carry you through half the game in what will likely be the second town you visit.
  • Thorough players may notice that the three Great House cantons in Vivec (Hlaalu, Redoran and Telvani) each have their own vaults. The lower Redoran vault is easily accesible when you have the key, which is located in dresser on the top floor of the manor across the street. Stealing it doesn't get you a bounty, even if you're seen, and the items you can get there are made of Ebony and Glass, making it highly profitable if one repairs them and takes them to the Mudcrab Merchant. They also make great early game weapons to use, though get outclassed pretty quickly by even lower quality versions that have enchantments.
  • A character straight off the boat can acquire a Daedric (the best non-artifact grade of equipment) weapon of whatever type he or she favors by setting foot, however briefly, in the Vassir-Didanat Mine (see Abandoned Mine) and then tracking down Hlaalu councilor Dram Bero to report the mine's location. He will reward you with your choice in Daedric weaponry. The only true obstacle is the (lv.50) locked door that must be picked (or opened by a spell) to get to Bero. (This is notably one of only two ways to get a Daedric Bow in the vanilla game, and by far the easier of the two.)
  • A Daedric Dai-Katana can be found on a corpse in the Maesa-Shammus Egg Mine, which is only a short distance from Molag Mar. Even a very low-level character can take a silt strider or boat to the city, visit the mine, run/sneak past the blighted Kwama creatures, and grab the blade. If you bring an Almsivi Intervention scroll, you don't even need to run/sneak back out. Simply use it to zap back to Molag Mar. This is one of only three guaranteed spawns of the Daedric Dai-Katana in the game (the other two are possessed by very much alive and powerful opponents). The blade deals the same amount of "slash" and "chop" damage as the more-common Daedric Claymore, is 21 pounds lighter, has 1400 more item health, and swings 10% faster which ups your DPS potential. It remains the two-handed long-blade of choice for players even into the late-game and expansions.
  • In the unpatched version of the game, you can obtain the Robe of St. Roris (a Game Breaking robe with a constant effect health regeneration enchantment) in a cave a short stroll from the First Town. The cave contains some relatively powerful enemies, but you don't have to fight them. As long as you have a couple lock-pick scrolls and buy some levitation potions, even a level 1 character could potentially get it. Bethesda seems to have noticed this, as the robe was heavily nerfed in a later patch.
  • A Grand Soul Gem filled with the soul of a Winged Twilight can easily be stolen from the Mages Guild in Balmora, the second town you are likely to visit if following the main quest. In addition to being a powerful soul, it is worth a whopping 50,000 gold. (Though you'll probably need to do some extensive bartering to get anywhere close to that amount of gold for it, as no merchant in the game world has that much gold on hand.) There is also the nasty catch with the way the "stolen" flag works. Stealing that gem flags ALL Grand Soul Gems as stolen, meaning you could later lose all of those you earned honestly just by talking to a guard if you have a bounty. Thankfully, all guards in the game fail their spotchecks, which means you can drop your stolen items on the ground if you're about to be arrested (opening the inventory freezes game time), pay your fine, and pick your stuff back up.
  • With a bit of luck manipulation it is possible to get a Ring of Toxic Cloud as early as level 6, which will single-handedly kill almost anything in the game that doesn't resist or relfect it, even an entire room full of hostiles at once thanks to its Area of Effect damage.
  • The Boots of Blinding Speed increase your character's Speed by 100 while making you 100% blind (screen becomes completely dark). The boots can be obtained by completing an early level quest (or by killing the character wearing the boots). However, the boots can be turned into a Lethal Joke Item by creating a custom spell of Resist Magic 50% for 1 second on self, casting it (almost any character has a decent chance of successfully casting the spell), and then equipping the boots. The magic resistance reduces the blindness, but does not affect the speed boost. The reason you don't want 100% magic resistance to completely negate the blindness is that, due to another bug, blindness INCREASES your chance to hit in combat (instead of decreasing it like intended). The only downside is slightly darker screen, which can be fixed by increasing your monitor's/computer's brightness.
  • Due to a design decision to let buyers of the expansion set start the new content immediately, Dark Brotherhood assassins added by the Tribunal expansion may show up at any time to kill you in your sleep. This can even happen to brand new starting character. If you manage to defeat one (tricky, but possible for a starting character, because they scale according to your level) you can loot the corpse for an excellent set of light armor and a useful short blade. If you aren't using light armor, the gear is also worth several hundred gold (more useful, in some ways, than the best stuff because it's easier to find a merchant who can afford it).
  • Another Tribunal example is the BiPolar Blade. Fittingly, the enchantment on the blade both rallies and demoralizes its target at the same time, canceling the two effects out. However, it's base damage is on par with the game's other legendary two-handed swords, making it something of a Lethal Joke Item. Better still, it is acquired at the end of a Matchmaker Quest which requires no combat, allowing a low-level player to pick it up very early in the game. Compare that to some of the other legendary two-handed swords like Chrysamere and The Iceblade of the Monarch, which must be won from tough foes near the end of lengthy faction questlines.

     The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Spellcrafting and object-enchanting abilities can be exploited by low-level characters to craft One-Hit Kill weapons and highly unbalancing spells.
  • The Honorblade of Chorrol can be obtained through the "Separated at Birth" quest line which can be started as soon as you leave the tutorial. It's as powerful as a standard Ebony Longsword and unenchanted, meaning that you don't need a Repair of 50 to fix it. And since it's a quest item, it's completely weightless until you hand it in.
  • It's possible to get one of the strongest swords (if not the strongest) in the game very early. It's held by a very strong NPC and it would normally require an intense battle with her to get it, but all one really has to do is attack her, and then hop on a horse and lure her to the nearest city and let the guards kill her for you. There's also an area of the battleground you're supposed to fight her in that, if reached, makes you impossible to hit. You can then spam arrows at her at your leisure, as long as you've got enough to kill her with.
  • In the Shivering Isles expansion, one of the early quests gives you an enchanted sword which self-repairs its damage and its enchantment, along with having a fire or ice power (depending on whether it's day or night), and can become more powerful as long as you've killed a certain number of enemies. You can access the expansion world anytime you want, meaning those with a GOTY edition can easily get the sword quickly.
  • As long as you know where to look, you can obtain a set/multiple sets of weightless versions of the strongest gear in the game right after the tutorial using the permanent binding glitch on the bound weapons obtained by using the standing stones The items obtained in this manner are so overpowered that the UESP page concerning the glitch warns the reader that using the glitch will remove all challenge from the game.
  • The Staff of the Everscamp is a "cursed" item that causes the user to be considerably slowed down and makes 4 everscamps (slightly weaker scamps who can only melee) follow them everywhere. While the scamps do get in the way and moving slowly is a hassle, a cheap AoE Command Creature spell with a minimal duration can be used to turn them against any foe you may face, effectively giving the player four permanent summons in addition to whatever other summon they prefer. It can be taken ever further by using AoE buff and healing spells to make the everscamps more powerful.

     The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Joining the Companions, likely the first guild you'll encounter in the game, and going through their first quest (a fairly easy dungeon very close to Whiterun where you're escorted be another member) nets you your choice of a Skyforge Steel weapon. These are as powerful as an equivalent Elven weapon but weigh less and are tied to a lower-level Smithing perk for quicker upgrading.
  • Bound Weapons. For a single perk needing 20 Conjuration (easily leveled up just by using Bound Weapons a bit), they get a damage bonus making them equivalent to Daedric equipment. Depending on the randomly generated inventory of the shopkeepers, you can likely find your first tome in Riverwood or Whiterun. For a guaranteed tome, Bound Bow can be found in Fort Amol and Bound Sword can be found in Treva's Watch; both are a fairly short hike away from Ivarstead.
  • Near Solitude, which is a quick carriage ride from Whiterun, follow the road to the harbor and east to the lighthouse. Before the lighthouse, there is a pirate ship, that is also marked on the map. Some of the pirates carry Scimitars, which are as good as Elven equipment and, like Skyforge Steel mentioned above, can be improved at a lower level of the Smithing perk.
  • Completing the quest "A Night To Remember", which is fairly easy even for a low-level player, rewards you with the Sanguine Rose, a staff that summons a Dremora to fight for you for 60 seconds and has a large number of charges. It pretty much makes all other summoning spells obsolete for a long time.
  • Near Winterhold, another quick carriage ride from Whiterun, is the College of Winterhold. Provided you know the recipe for it (easily looked up on the internet), you can enter the College and head down into The Midden to use the Atronach Forge to create yourself staves to summon any of the three elemental Atronachs. To boot, all of the ingredients to make several such staves can be found around the College itself.
  • After completing a very early main quest mission, you will be named Thane of Whiterun and given Lydia as your Housecarl. She serves rather impressively as a melee tank and can be relied on to deal with troublesome foes for quite a ways into the game.
  • Forsworn Bows can also be easily obtained by immediately heading to the Reach and fighting the random Forsworn in there. They are about equal to a Dwarven Bow, and require a lower level of the Smithing perk to upgrade.
  • You can start the Bards College initiation quest at low level which will send you to a special dungeon where you will fight Olaf One Eye. Olaf always carries an Ebony War Axe, no matter what level you are, so this is another opportunity to obtain a high-level weapon early.
  • The Dawnguard expansion introduces crossbows, a weapon with the same base strength as a glass bow, which only needs the Steel Smithing perk for better tempering. You can obtain one as early as level 10 (well before glass bows would start showing up) by completing the eponymous "Dawnguard" quest.
  • In the Reach, you can find the ruin of Arkngthamz and find Zephyr, a unique Dwarven Bow with faster draw speed. The faster draw speed gives it one of the highest DPSes of any bow in the game. And if you know where Arkngthamz is, you can get it as early as Level 1.
  • In Liar's Retreat, you are guaranteed to find The Longhammer, a two-handed mace which has the same stats as an Orcish warhammer, swings 30% faster, and can still be enchanted (or combined with the Elemental Fury shout for even more swing speed), no matter what level you are. Granted, the enemies in the area are Falmer, who are formidable opponents for a low-level character, but if you're willing to do some work on your stealth, come armed with one or more of the other Disc One Nukes already mentioned on this list, and perhaps a little Save Scumming, you should be able to obtain The Longhammer at fairly low levels.
  • The Mace Of Molag Bal is the only Daedric item whose quest you can literally initiate at level one and have an expectation of completing before level five. Its enchantments aren't very notable, barring the ever useful Soul Trap, but that's not what makes it a nuke. Its raw physical attack with no upgrades is on par with a base Ebony weapon, and while you won't be able to improve its base attack until you have the level 60 Smithing perk, it's still plenty powerful, and armor enchants to boost attack damage will still work to boost it. Plus, with the perks that allow maces to ignore enemy defenses, this makes it an incredibly useful weapon until you can make your own Ebony and Daedric weapons.
  • The Dawnbreaker sword. A unique enchanted weapon that can be obtained relatively early in the game, when an item from a random drop appears to guide you to its location. It deals fire damage and, upon killing an undead enemy, releases a shockwave that will either kill nearby undead or cause them to flee. Considering the main enemy types that infest half the caves and tombs in Skyrim are various types of draugr, this weapon will see a lot of appreciated use.
  • Snapleg Cave is a small, unassuming dungeon on the road between Whiterun and Ivarstead. It contains a guaranteed Staff of Paralysis (a spell which is normally Expert-level), and while the cave's boss is a Hagraven, the Staff of Paralysis is located in the very first room and only requires fighting a witch and a couple skeevers (easy enemies even for a low level character). Have fun with your unlimited use, double-duration Serpent Stone power.
  • Initiate the Dark Brotherhood questline, easily done by taking a carriage between a couple major cities to kill a defenseless old woman, and then up to three defenseless prisoners. In the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary (or from the corpse of Astrid, if you decide to turn on them) you can loot a set of their unique enchanted armor which is ideal for stealth-focused characters.
  • The basic conjuration spell Raise Zombie borders on being a Game-Breaker. You can buy it cheap in the first town you come across, and you can buy Bound Sword in the second town. Together, they will allow you to build your Conjuration to 50 by the end of Bleak Falls Barrow. Simply cast the spell on any basic enemy corpse (Skeever, Bandit, or Draugr), regardless of whether you killed it or not, cast Bound Sword, then strike the zombie until it becomes hostile. Your Conjuration will go up at least one level, maybe two if your level is low. There are enough enemies and already killed corpses available to raise your Conjuration to level 50 by the end of Bleak Falls Barrow.
  • Soul Trap is only effective against living enemies, but still gives increases to your Conjuration skill when used on dead ones. The fact that its a high level spell that's obtained very early on lets you grind an easy 50 Conjuration skill levels in about 30 minutes.
  • North of Whiterun you can find Halted Springs Camp, a bandit lair built into a mine. In the mine you can find the spell tome for Transmutation, a spell that turns Iron Ore into Silver and then into Gold. This will make you a fortune in the early game as you strip mine the place, transform all the worthless iron ore into gold, smelt it into rings, and sell them for profit, while also leveling up Alteration and Smithing.
  • One of the major benefits to playing an Orc is 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 Vampire Lord form. Completing the third Dawnguard questline (which only needs a trek through a single dungeon), you can join the Volkihar Clan and become a Vampire Lord. The basic Drain spell deals massive damage on hit with an explosive radius and also heals you. Even at the early levels it's as strong as an Expert-level Destruction spell but much less mana-consuming. Also, you can shift in and out of the Vampire Lord status at will.
  • One can abuse their horse by using a Fork (a weapon with a damage rating of 1) to sneak attack the beast repeatedly, or one can cast Soul Trap to boost Conjuration, or one can combine Flames and Healing Hands to boost Destruction and Restoration... the possibilities are endless, for the low low price of 1,000 gold!
  • In a similar way, you can abuse slaughterfish to raise your magic skills (barring Destruction) by luring them into attacking you, then moving onto land (thus out of their reach). You will remain in combat with them, but out of any danger as you cast spells and gain skill increases for using them in combat.
  • Combined with Good Bad Bug and Take Your Time. In Helgen, you can follow either Hadvar or Ralof. Hadvar - as long as you don't take sword on the rack the next sequence won't proceed so he won't be aggressive if you attack him. You can train your skills of One Handed, Sneak, Healing, and Destruction. Ralof - If you loot Keep key from Imperial captain before Ralof do he can't open the gate. You can train your skills of Two-Handed, One-Handed, Sneak, Healing, Destruction. You can also train the heavy and light armor if you choose to follow Ralof; equip ether of them, open the door with key in your hand, run across the enemy to soak some damage, heal, run to safety, and repeat as many as necessary.
  • For a magic-oriented character, you can take a carriage to Winterhold and join the College as soon as you arrive in Whiterun. Finishing the College's main questline gets you the Archmage's Robes, which give you +50 Magicka, +100% Magicka Regeneration, and 15% reduction in magicka cost for all schools of magic. Before level 20.
  • The Indigestible Emerald is an unmarked location accessible once you leave Helgen (not far from the Guardian Stones, on the other side of the river), which allows to get a Flawless Emerald, i.e. Vendor Trash much more valuable than anything you can acquire at this point. Flawless Emeralds are components in a few crafting recipes, but at the start of the game, it's better to sell this one than saving it for crafting.note 


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