Oblivion Lockpick

Oblivion Lockpick Guide

Latest posts by Callum Marshall (see all)

A great game isn’t only defined by its ability to amaze and excite its player base during heart-racing, intense set-pieces, or through outlandish boss battles, for example. It is also through the game’s ability to make the seemingly mundane aspects of the game intriguing and engaging.

Any game with competent designers and a decent core concept can engage its player base when the action and chaos are at maximum level. However, only the truly awe-inspiring games can create a world so rich that doing trivial things like reading a book, organizing and decorating a room, or doing menial tasks feels cathartic and fun. It’s not something that every game can manage, but The Elder Scrolls series seems to knock this out of the park time and time again.

The Elder Scrolls has always been able to fully immerse the fans of the series in the incredible, vast open-worlds within the franchise. This is undoubtedly due to the lore, the gameplay, and the fantastic questlines. However, it’s also down to the finer details too.

We have all sat down during an exploration session in The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion to flick through The Lusty Argonian Maid, I can guarantee some of you have spent countless hours stuffing as many Cheese Wheels into a small house in the Waterfront District, and again, you have undoubtedly spent hours trying to become a master of the lockpicking mini-game in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

I know I personally got obsessed with being so good at this lockpicking mini-game that I could do open locks through sound cues alone. However, you may only be new to the land of Cyrodill and need some pointers on how to master this skill. Well, you have come to the right place. Without further delay, here is our comprehensive Elder Scrolls Oblivion Lockpick Guide.

What is Lockpicking In The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion?

Lock picking is a skill within The Elder Scrolls Oblivion that governs the player’s ability to unlock any locked door, locked chest, and other locked aspects of the in-game environment. Players who try to unlock a locked aspect of the world will enter a mini-game that sees the player greeted with a graphic slowing tumbler, much like a lock-in real life.

The role of the player is to push up all of the tumblers with their pick and then lock them in place with a click to secure each tumbler before moving on to the next. There will be 1-5 tumblers depending on the difficulty of the lock in question. These are the game’s lock difficulty level options:

Very Easy lock: One tumbler

Easy lock: Two tumblers

Adept lock: Three tumblers

Hard lock : Four Tumblers

Very Hard lock: Five Tumblers

How Does It Differ From Lockpicking in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim?


The lock picking skill in The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion when compared to that of The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim or any other similar Bethesda Game Studios property like Fallout, for example, is twofold. The first key difference is that no matter how hard the lock is within TESIV, the player can still attempt to open the lock.

The caveat to this is that the tumblers will fall much faster, offering less margin for error; plus, the player will have to get through five rounds of tumblers which is no easy task. When players enhance their lockpicking skill in Oblivion, some tumblers will be pre-clicked as standard; plus, the margin for error is widened significantly.

We believe that Oblivion got it right in this respect as it doesn’t gatekeep any content from its players early on, instead offering a simple risk and reward scenario.

Then secondly, the overall layout changes drastically between the two games. Whereas Oblivion is a very simplistic graphic and where players must open tumblers in turn through timing and precision, Skyrim offers a 3D rendering of a keyhole and lockpick; then the player must angle and turn the pick to open the lock.

Basically, there is a marked area of success that narrows with each advancing difficulty. While this is a much more aesthetically pleasing and arguably more immersive way to lockpick, many prefer the nuance and the methodical nature of the TESIV system.

Where Can I Get Lockpicks?


In TESIV, if you are observant and collect all the items that you see on your path out of prison, you will likely exit the sewers with over 40+ lockpicks which is a good amount to get you through some early game quests and encounters.

However, depending on your lockpick ability and how frivolously you use your lockpicks, there may soon come a time where you need to acquire some more. Well, thankfully, we have a quick rundown of the best ways to find lockpicks listed below. Check it out:

Mines and Dungeons

As you would imagine, the game does a relatively good job of dotting these items around the land so that the player gradually adds to their lockpick tally as they explore. In fact, there is about a 10% chance of finding at least one lockpick in a random loot container. Plus, you’ll often find them lying around out in the open too. However, they are quite hard to spot, so keep your eye out for them.


While not every shop will sell you a lockpick, as it has connotations that they endorse the art of thievery, some merchants will. If you scroll to their miscellaneous items and take a look, there is usually a handful of lockpicks and the odd repair hammer in their inventory, and best of all, they are relatively inexpensive, so if you get the opportunity when out shopping, stock up.



Then lastly, you can also purchase these from Fences within the ThievesGuild. These guys literally do endorse the art of thievery; it’s their whole profession. So they will be more than happy to sell you lockpicks to make sure you can get your assignments done.

In fact, Armand Christophe will sell you unlimited lock picks during the initial Thieves Guild quest at five gold a pop, making Armand Christophe perhaps the best early game supplier of lockpicks. The same goes for the merchants within the Dark Brotherhood. You can also grab them from Shady Sam, an otherwise unremarkable NPC who hangs around the Imperial City Prison.

How to Master the Art of Lockpicking in TESIV

Okay, so now that you know what lockpicking is and have a relative understanding of how this mechanic works, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of it all. Here we will take an in-depth look at this mechanic, break it down and help you master the art of lockpicking so that you never get locked out of an important in-game area. Take a look at these helpful tips:

Audio Cues Are Key

I cannot stress enough how important it is to use those things on the side of your head when lockpicking, as the game does a great job of telegraphing through sound.

There is a distinct sound that the lock will make when the tumbler falls straight down again, and equally, there is a very distinct sound that occurs when the tumbler sticks, giving you time to click it into place. Obviously, this tip doesn’t lend itself to a text-based guide, but when you try this for yourself, bear this in mind.

Super Fast Reactions

One tactic that you can use, but I wouldn’t personally recommend, is pushing up the tumbler and then immediately clicking it into place without waiting to see if it is a slow or a fast fall. This has a 100% success rate, provided your timing and reactions are perfect. So if you fancy yourself and have superb twitch reactions, try this out, but personally, I would go for the upcoming method.

Wait for the Fast Fall


When the player uses the pick to push up a tumbler, it will either rise and fall immediately, fall slowly, or stick briefly before falling. This is something that the player can predict as to when the fast fall happens; this means that the next one will be a sticky tumbler. So use this logic to your advantage and predict the movement of each tumbler, making for an easy lockpicking session.

Auto Attempts Can be a Good Method

What many people seem to overlook when lockpicking in Oblivion is that lockpicks are in relatively good supply, provided you know where to look. Plus, Oblivion is a game that rewards the player for failure as well as success. So with every auto-attempt to open a lock, you gain XP toward your lockpicking skill.

Plus, eventually, the lock will open. So if you are inundated with lockpicks and don’t have the patience for this little mini-game, you can auto-attempt until the game eventually relents and opens up. However, we wouldn’t make this a constant thing, as while in good supply, you will eventually run out of lockpicks.

Quicksaving (For all you cheats out there)

Then lastly, if you have absolutely no patience for this mini-game at all, you can make a quicksave and then double this up with the auto attempt feature. This means that even if you run out of lockpicks after a few reloads, you will eventually be blessed with good luck and unlock whatever you are trying.

What Lockpick Levels/Perks are There in Oblivion?


While a lot of skills over rather varied and interesting perks within TESIV, we have to say, Lockpicking has a rather straightforward perk list. Players will basically be awarded a little bit more margin for error with each major skill level increase, meaning that one tumbler will remain clicked in place despite a failed attempt for each skill level they increase. Here is a quick list to help explain:

Novice – No tumblers remain clicked after a failed attempt

Apprentice – One tumbler remains clicked after a failed attempt

Journeyman – Two tumblers remain clicked after a failed attempt

Expert – Three tumblers remain clicked after a failed attempt

Master – All Tumblers remain clicked even if you fail

How Can I Train Lockpicking In Oblivion?

While the player can boost their overall security stat by selecting it as one of your tagged skills during your character build, and you can gradually improve this Security skill over time by picking locks, not everyone is patient enough to do this.

So with that in mind, players can visit trainers and pay to improve their security skill right then and there. This can be a pricy practice but also can prove a sound investment when it comes to crunch time and the lockpicks in your pack are dangerously low. Here is a quick list of all the trainers you can use:

  • Malintus Ancrus – Chorrol
  • Samuel Bantien – Imperial City (Talos District)
  • Dro’Shanji – Bravil
  • Mandil – Imperial City (Elven Gardens)
  • Tahm Blackwell – Dunbarrow Cove
  • J’Baana – Imperial City Prison 

Failing this, we would urge players who have access to the Thieves Den Plug-in to make use of the lockbox, which is a Very Hard locked container that is programmed to immediately lock as soon as you open it. Double this up with the Skeleton key and relentless auto-attempts, and you will boost your skill to 100 in no time at all. 

What is a Skeleton Key?

skeleton key

A skeleton key is a unique item within the Elder Scrolls series that allows the player to pick locks with careless abandon; for you see, this is an unbreakable lockpick and is a gift for a Daedric God. The player acquires this item by completing the Nocturnal Daedric quest.

The player will need to be at least level ten to begin this quest, but there are no other strict requirements for this questline. This item also offers an immediate buff of 40 points to your security stat. In short, if you have this item, you never have to think too hard about lockpicking ever again. 

Do You Need to Lockpick?

To an extent, you will need to lockpick in this game if you want to have a full and fun experience. The game uses this as a natural barrier for the player to overcome, especially in questlines for the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild in particular.

However, if the player is determined to never use a lockpick during a playthrough, there is the option to turn to the powers of magic to help you out. The player will be able to acquire spells that allow them to cast on locks and instantly open them. However, these aren’t immediately available to the player, and the more powerful spells tend to only be a viable option for mage builds, so in short, you’ll probably need to know how to lock pick as a backup regardless. 

Could You Jimmy That Lock For Me?

As you can see from the information above, this lockpicking mini-game differs quite significantly from the more modern variations found in Fallout and Skyrim, for example. TESIV’s lockpicking is a lot more methodical, slow-paced, and requires timing and precision to master.

Either that or a Skeleton Key so you can auto-pick until the door eventually gives way. However, as this is an item you won’t get right away, you’ll need to get intimate with this mini-game and master it. We hope that this guide allows you to lock pick more proficiently, and we hope that no door stands in the way of you and some precious loot. Channel your inner Gray Fox and as always, thanks for reading!

Oblivion Lockpick Guide: FAQs

Question: Do Torches Help With Lockpicking 

Answer: This is a common misconception among Oblivion players. An in-game book titled Advances with Lockpicking states that when a torch is held while lockpicking, this will make the pins fall at a uniform and slow speed. However, when the player puts this into practice, this is far from the case. We can only assume this was a planned mechanic that was either scrapped or overlooked. 

Question: How Many Lockpicks Do You Get When You Are Arrested In Oblivion?

Answer: Just one, we are afraid. If the player decides to spend a night in the slammer, they will only have one chance of breaking out. Plus, even if the player has access to the Skeleton Key normally, they will not have access to this when arrested. They will only get this again if they interact with the evidence box within the jail when they escape. 

Question: Is Lockpicking A Crime In Oblivion?

Answer” Yes, even if you open a container and look at the contents, then decide not to take anything, you will still be apprehended as a criminal. However, if you use a spell to unlock the container, this is completely fine. A bias toward mages? Surely not? 

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