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Game Breaking – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

by Joe Juba on Mar 30, 2010 at 01:36 PM

Some gamers are always on the lookout for an advantage. Whether it's a better weapon, a more powerful spell, or a bottomless bank account, many of us don't mind living on the edges of what a game will permit. Some will pejoratively refer to this as "power gaming," since it often involves taking advantage of loopholes or doing things that seem at odds with how a game is intended to be played. In Game Breaking, we'll take a look at ways that you can use these tricks to gain an edge. In this first edition, we'll show you how to make yourself effectively invincible in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

In Bethesda's sprawling RPG, you'll find many paths to creating a powerful hero. However, none will result in god-like impunity like upping your chameleon rating. There are two different kinds of invisibility in the game: one that allows you to remain totally undetected but restricting your action (just called "invisibility"), and one that only partially conceals you while letting you perform any action (called "chameleon"). Straight-up invisibility is usually much better, since you are assured stealth. With chameleon, you are only concealed by a certain percentage, which means that any monster you want to sneak by will probably see you. However, it's possible to  stack various items enchanted with the chameleon effect to raise your chameleon percentage to 100%. In essence, this gives you all the advantages of chameleon – like being able to attack and activated spells and items – while keeping you undetectable to practically every creature in the game. Here's how to do it:

Part 1: The Basics of Sigil Stones

Whenever you complete an Oblivion gate, you'll take a Sigil Stone from the evil tower. Each stone has a pair of magical effects: one for weapons, and one for armor. The strength of the effect depends on your level; a Sigil Stone you get at a higher level may have the same properties (like fire damage/resistance) as a lower level stone, but the numerical values associated will be better. For this trick, you'll want Latent, Ascendent, or Transcendent stones, which means you need to be at least level 9 to start making it happen. Ideally, you should be at the point in the story where you have access to plenty of Oblivion gates.

Part 2: Load, Grab, Repeat

One of the rare properties you'll find on Sigil Stones is the chameleon effect. Ultimately, we want a bunch of these...but since the Sigil Stone attributes are random, how can you be sure you get what you want? Lots of reloading. When you get to the Sigil Stone at the top of the tower in any Oblivion gate, save your game. Then, grab the stone. There'll be a flash of light, and the tower will start to crumble. As soon as you see the "Sigil Stone added" in the corner of the screen, open up your inventory (you want to do this pretty quick, because if you let the tower collapse, you'll have to sit through a load screen).

Check your possessions to see what the properties are on the Sigil Stone you just grabbed. If one of them doesn't say "Chameleon [number]% on Self," you need to reload. The stone's magical properties aren't determined until you pick it up, so you can keep reloading the same game and get a different stone each time. It can take a long time and many tries to get the chameleon-powered stone, so you need to be patient. Once you have it, let the tower collapse and continue your game. Repeat this process in different Oblivion gates until the chameleon percentage on all of your Sigil Stones totals 100% or more.
Part 3: Enchant and Wear

Each Sigil Stone can be used to enchant one piece of armor. A single pair of boots with 30% chameleon won't do you much good, but if you add a helmet, gloves, and chestpiece with the same properties, you're looking at total concealment. Buy up some mundane armor – it doesn't matter what kind, as long as each piece occupies a different space on your body. Then go to your Sigil Stones and press A. That will bring up the enchanting screen, where you apply the chameleon property to the item (and give the newly enchanted piece of armor a name of your choosing). Repeat the process until each of your chameleon-powered stones has been fused into a piece of armor. Next, equip each one.

You'll notice that, now that your chameleon rating exceeds 100%, you'll no longer be able to see your character in the game. Don't worry – they're still there, and ready to raise some hell.

Part 4: Chaos!

If you still have any story-related stuff to accomplish, you'll find it hilariously easy now. Monsters won't be able to find you, so you can stroll through dungeons as your would-be enemies just stand there stupidly and let you pass. If you decide that you want to fight things anyway, you can continuously gain the benefit of sneak attack damage while crouching, since your enemies won't know where you are. Beating the game this way cheapens the experience (I didn't explore this strategy until I had finished the main story). The real payoff comes when you set foot into a town. Normally, when you run around a city and punch people in the face, you see this:

With a 100% chameleon rating, you don't need to worry about that anymore. Instead, you can attack, steal, and generally humiliate anyone you want without fear of repercussion. I don't know exactly how the AI in Oblivion functions, but it seems to go something like this: because townspeople can't actually detect you, they aren't able to identify the source of any attacks you hit them with. They'll run straight for town guard to "report" the crime, but because no one can ascertain the identity or location of the perpetrator, you're pretty much in the clear.

So, head to your least favorite town and start terrorizing people! It's hilarious to see them running around, confused and on fire, as they try to tattle on you and figure out what's happening. For a small glimpse of the potential mayhem, check out the video below to see me harry the helpless chumps of Cheydinhal for a few minutes.


Do you have any great game-breaking strategies? Email them to me at with the subject "Game Breaking." While there are entire communities dedicated to cheating and glitching, that's not what Game Breaking is about. It's about pushing the boundaries of the game while still operating within the rules – finding and exploiting the loopholes in the system. Most importantly, it doesn't affect anyone's experience but your own.