Oblivion: Fun with hard mode

As you may know, I’ve played and did mod work on an awful lot of Oblivion. In this thread, though, I want to do something different:

Play through Oblivion on The Hardest Difficulty.

Yes, you’re reading that right. Monsters do SIX TIMES the damage to you, and take one-sixth the damage. Jesus. As detailed in the link, though, you can do it with Conjuration. It’s turning out to be surprisingly fun. I just let my summons murder the enemies while I run around looting the place.

So let’s build an UNSTOPPABLE KILLING MACHINE. Who would that be? Why, uh, this generic-looked half-naked Breton woman under the Magician sign, with Alchemy + the 6 schools as majors and magic as specialization area.

Highest intelligence and wisdom, 50% magic resistance. You can dodge melee attacks and bows don’t do much damage, but ranged spells that hit you are just brutal, as my abandoned Breton attempt showed. You’ll get one-shotted by level 5. Note I’m using the AF Leveling mod here with 10 major skill increases -> 1 level.

A side note: why is she so boring looking? Because every race and sex has two settings for faces:

  1. Old.
  2. Not old.

It’s really strange. No matter how many times I push the random button it’s one of those two.

Bonus: why is she naked? To get 100% spell effectiveness. If I had enchanted clothes I’d wear them, but I don’t, so why waste the carrying capacity? Unlike Morrowwind, NPCs don’t notice.

Contrary to the linked guide, the opening dungeon isn’t all that hard with a super-mage.

I SHOOTZ THEM. They die. About it. Occasionally have to rest to get magicka back.

At the end of the dungeon when I specialize I get my fuck-yeah Skeleton. Here he is hunting enemies at the bottom of the lake for me.

I’m completely bored with all the official quests; I’ve done them more than few times. So why not try something completely different - just do endless random dungeons? I’ll put off all the leveled quests and item rewards until I’m 25+.

I crawl out of the sewers, hose myself off, and plan my leveling strategy.

  1. Maximum conjuration first.
  2. Then illusion.
  3. Enough alternation to open locks.
  4. Then the other schools as needed.

Looking at the spells list, I need to go shopping in this order:

  1. Open easy lock so I can actually loot without blowing through piles of expensive lockpicks.
  2. Charms to make more money selling.
  3. Frenzy and command creature to get the enemies killing each other.
  4. Calm to escape.
  5. Ease burden to haul more.
  6. Detect life to find them without blowing my cover cowering behind the Skeleton.

This is an expensive list for a level 1 character, so I just dive into a nearby Ayleid ruin.

MAN this dungeon was lucrative; 1000 gold Varla Stones! A zillion Welkynd stones! I made like 4k and could actually afford some of my spell backlog. By contrast, if you do all the quests at low level you’ll get paid in pocket lint and chicken feathers.

I run an nearby cave and get my first magic item: a +6 strength ring! I can’t believe how excited I am by this; it increases my hauling capacity by 20%.

On my way to another nearby cave, I notice a problem: my skeleton is getting his ass stomped now.

Time to go upgrade and then do another Ayleid. Next up.


Not only does he slap enemies to death, which is hilarious to watch, he does a brutal amount of damage compared to anything else on the summon list. Most enemies go down in 2 hits.

I think of him as my pimp. Except he’s not pimpin’ me, just got more of the vibe. Here he is stylin’ in the IC.

In Wenyandawik there was a fun trap I’d forgotten about:

The walls rise up around you and poison gas chokes you. It’s visually quite impressive.

I have no real interest in this, but I now want to install oblivion again. I dont know if I can stomach downloading 100 mods again though, heh (even with your work)

What mods are you using for the run? Your screenshots look amazing. What is the UI mod? Is everything else stock apart form the UI or are you running texture/model mods?

They look good for 3 reasons:

  1. 1920x1200 with all the graphics settings maxed.
  2. The stuff listed under 04-QTP in Nexus downloads.
  3. The stuff listed under 06-VWD.

There’s a giant pile of other visual tweaks, but those are the major ones.

The UI is DarkUId Darn, which is like the 5th iteration of various UI mod projects combined.

I’m running out of lockpicks, so I go join the thieves’ guild. I managed to lose the screenshot, but me standing there naked with the other 2 contestants in the dark made for quite a scene. I intentionally fail the competition to join, because getting the sword from the dog is a lot funnier. You just barely have time to cast a calm spell on the dog when you come through the door to keep Rohssan from waking up and coming after you.

I forgot this gives you 2 infamy. That’ll interfere with my Oblivion Barbie shopping plans, so time to do the Knights of the Nine pilgrimage. Boring as hell, so no screenshots.
The location where you receive the vision for it is fun though:

I’ve got my alteration up to 50, so I got to the Cheydinal Mage’s Guild to load up on Shield 30, Feather 75, and Open Average Lock. I go ahead and do the join quest why I’m there.


Move on.

Next up: a free house to drop off my heavy alchemy equipment. Get the King’s outfit on the way.

Fort Caractacus nearby is brutal; the conjurers create too many targets for one Headless Zombie. I level up conjuration 2 points and can just barely summon two. That does it - with some accidental help from Ancotar from the previous quest, who’s blows up the conjurers when I accidentally drag them outside. He survives the battle with 10 hit points.

Success! Nudity no more.

Hold on… Summoning two Zombies at once? What kind of heathen modifications are you making to this poor game?

Seriously though, it’s a good read. I hope you keep at it. I remember playing through it years ago in a similar vain to yourself but I was playing on the 360 and eventually the whole thing boiled down to a horrendous grind to ensure I levelled up perfectly each time. Looks like it would be far more fun on the PC version.

Ah, so you’re playing Oblivion on the hardest difficulty and then go ahead and game the system by playing in a way that makes it pretty easy again.

That’s an … uh … interesting approach.


I think “interesting” is the point. You can ‘game’ the vanilla system, too, and make Oblivion trivially easy at any setting. Using mods to address some of the major gaps in the levelling and magic systems makes the game more fun, especially if you’ve already played through several times.

This makes me want to play Oblivion, and yet I never have enough time to do anything in that game.

This thread is pointless because the PC name is not something similar to Irene.

Supreme Magicka adds the ability to summon more than 1 depending on your skill. It’s tweakable.

You can also game the system this way on the regular difficulty. I’m just tired of combat not being a challenge. Also, it’s not easy; I die in 3 hits, and unless I plan the summon/calm/rage casting just so I’m toast.

I may find that my crafty plan to max the useful skills first blows up when I hit the higher levels; we’ll see.

Keep the updates coming! I’m trying to give it a runthru on my new PC and hopefully I make it more than halfway done this time before something new and whimsy steals away my time.

FYI, higher resolution screenshots are here.

Frenzy is hilarious.

Continuing with the Ayleid ruins I’ve made enough cash to fill out my spell backlog:

Command Creature
Dispel Self+Other
Soul Trap

None are particularly powerful, but they’ll do for utility at this level. I go and finish off the last couple Mages Guild Recommendation quests, and notice something incredibly annoying I’d forgotten about.

For both the Leyawiin AND the Anvil recommendation quests, the enemies run up to you, say something, and then force attack YOU - none of your allies, none of your summons, you. It’s stupid quest design to have a mages guild quest require you to go toe-to-toe, even on normal mode. Hilariously for the second one I just run around in circles on my armored horse while they stab her.

Next up: starting off the DLC, which I actually haven’t used before, if you can believe it. Frostcrag:

Hey Jason, are you using the modded version of Frostcrag?

Frostcrag reborn