Let’s be honest, if a player solely stuck to the main quest in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, they would have their hands filled with an incredibly long series of arguably difficult and arduous tasks. However, sticking to the beaten path is just not the sort of thing which can satisfy each and every player; especially with a game which is designed to encourage exploration and going off on one’s own such as this one.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is chalk full of hidden locations, items, and quests which players can choose from and embark on at any point. Don’t worry. The main story will be waiting for you whenever you so choose to return to it. And don’t worry still, few players dedicate themselves to the main quest alone. And why would you? Especially when considering that the main quest does not contain unicorns.
When games cost as much as they do, it is best to flesh them out to their maximum abilities and get the most bang for that valuable and coveted buck. And with a game as expansive as this one, players could dedicate every waking hour for an entire week to exploring each and every pixel of land throughout the game and still not have made a sizable dent in the game's content. So, without further ado, allow me to take you through a select twenty-five secret quests hidden throughout The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
25 Sheogorath's Apocalypse
Sheogorath, Prince of Madness, has a task for you. There is a small boring town called "Border Watch" and Sheogorath wants to brighten up their day. Go there and learn about the K’sharra Prophecy and then bring the details back to the shrine of Sheogorath. He will then instruct you to bring about the first two steps of the prophecy (which are to bring in a bunch of rats and off all of the villages' sheep). Go to the center of town and watch as Sheogorath pelts the little village with a rain of flaming dogs.
24 Close The Gates
If you should find yourself actually attempting to complete the main story quest of Oblivion, you may want to take a break at a certain point before going to light those pesky Dragonfires. Zip over to Fort Sutch real quick to find some Imperial Guards in a close battle with some of the Daedra which so happen to be pouring out of the nearby Oblivion Gate.
The guard will ask you to help them fight back against the Daedra and close the gate.
There is no reward for this quest except for the pride of a job well done.
23 Save The Exiled Mage
If you happen to be a very high level within the game (say about 23 and up) you should take a detour by Lost Boy Cavern somewhere east of Bravil. If you are into reading the books and scrolls which have been spread throughout the game, you should find the first stage of the unmarked quest related to Lost Boy Cavern. At the end of the cavern, you will encounter the lich (but only if you are a high enough level). Interestingly, the lich will bear the name of both of the lost mages. The implied implications are strong with this one.
22 Pale Pass Treasure Hunt
Are you a famous adventurer in Cyrodiil and need to buy a house in Bruma? Go talk to Countess Narina Carvain to start the Pale Pass quest. Note: This is just so you can enter the area and gain access to the entrance leading to this quest. Once you reach the ruined fort in Pale Pass, you should look around for a frozen barrel. You will find a note and a key for the next container. Find the next container and repeat this action two more times to find the Circlet of Omnipotence. Warning: this object is not as powerful as it sounds.
21 Reclaim Dive Rock
Exploring the mountainous areas of Cyrodiil will eventually bring you to Dive Rock. Dive Rock is a neat landmark with a view, but in all honesty, the area is ultimately unimportant. There is a journal which can be found by rifling through the campsite and inspecting the rock. This journal details the story a chieftain from Solstheim that came to dispose of a monster that haunts Dive Rock. The monster is known as the Udyrfrykte Matron, which is an invisible frost troll. Head southeast to find his body and as well as the troll (who is very much alive).
20 Carry On My Wayward Shrines
If you’re a devout mage in need of new spells, you can take a scenic tour of Cyrodiil and find the wayshrines of the Nine Divines. As long as you have no infamy, you will receive a blessing and a new power from each of the shrines. Complete a tour for a full set of powers or to clear infamy.
The clearing of your name happens to be just another benefit of doing this pilgrimage.
It is interesting to note that if you have the "Knights of the Nine" plug-in installed this little adventure does become an official quest.
19 Explore Deepscorn Hollow
If you have purchased the Vile Lair plug-in, then you will automatically be given the key to your new home, Deepscorn Hollow. Deepscorn Hollow is a sanctuary for the worst people in Cyrodiil. It features an expansive cave system with some goodies for villainous characters and vampires. Once you have bought all the upgrades from a weird guy in an inn outside the Imperial City, you can find a bucket full of coins, a servant, a shrine to Sithis, and a special dagger.
18 Eliminate The Squatters
If you have the Fighter’s Stronghold installed and have comfortably settled into your new home, there are some things you should take care of before they become a problem for you and anyone who might share your home. In your private chambers, there is a movable pillar that hides a journal and some treasure. The journal tells of a necromancer squatting in your castle. Go to the training yard and pull a candelabra, but be prepared for a tough fight with a skeleton lord and a lich that weirdly shares a name with an NPC from the Anvil Mages Guild recommendation quest.
17 The Magic Of Fin Gleam
Have you ever wanted to do some underwater exploring but were too afraid of drowning? Or is it just too hard to see under there? Just swing by the island east of Anvil and look around for this glass helmet and some accompanying bones to permanently erase these fears from your mind. Its water breathing ability is super helpful for traversing the underwater areas of this game and its Nighteye enchantment allows you to see even in the deepest darkest waters. Fin Gleam also features a detect life enchantment so no Sneaky Slaughterfish can sneak up on you and ruin your day.
16 Bittneld And Emfrid Forever
If you are visiting Chorrol, have a chat with local author Casta Scribonia. Casta simply isn't satisfied with just playing matchmaker with her own characters anymore and wants to set up the captain of the guards, Bittneld the Curse-Bringer, with some lucky (?) woman.
Unfortunately, Bittneld is not down for this idea because he considers the local women to be too snooty.
A chat with the Owner of the Grey Mare, Emfrid, reveals a fancy for Bittneld but he doesn't seem to spend any time in her establishment. It all works out in the end, though.
15 Harness The Power Of The Stars
Members of the Mages Guild who have the Orrery plug-in will be tasked with finding all the broken and missing pieces of the strange contraption. Travel to Camp Ales and find the other bandit camps in the area to recover the pieces. You will need to fight for them, bandits being the way they are. You could also steal them with high enough sneak and pickpocket skills but that's a lot more trouble than it's worth. Bring all the pieces back and you can use the Orrery to gain a greater power based on the phases of the moon.
14 So Much Potato Bread
If you happen to pass by the Faregyl Inn, go inside and talk with a Khajiit woman named S’jirra. In turn, she will tell you about an enormous dude that broke in stole all of her prized potatoes. This is a problem because she uses them to make her “Famous Potato Bread” and this setback totally ruins production. Run northwest to find an Ogre loaded down with huge potatoes. Deal with the thief to the fullest extent of the law that you, an escaped convict, are authorized to do. Bring the potatoes back to receive a reward of loaves of potato bread. Sign me up!
13 Conquer The Dungeons
A powerful artifact calls your name, but first, you need to properly equip yourself for a long slog through one of the toughest dungeons in all of Cyrodiil. If you feel brave enough, make your way to Sundercliff Watch and carefully crawl through this dangerous and unforgiving place to claim the great reward. Mehrunes Razor will be waiting for you in the deepest part of a hidden Ayleid ruin. Beware of the denizens of the Watch for they are tough and formidable opponents.
12 Stop The Goblin War
A poor local farm is caught between two tribes of goblins who are at war over a stolen staff. The Rock Biter goblins stole the tribal staff from the Bloody Hand and are completely ruining all efforts to build Cropsford. To stop the war, you can take the staff back to the Bloody Hand, give it to another goblin tribe, keep it for yourself, or you can "non-diplomatically" deal with the Bloody Hands Shaman. If you keep it, bear in mind the Bloody Hand goblins will follow you to the very heart of Oblivion itself to get it back.
11 Good Old Fashioned Jailbreak
Sometimes old habits are hard to break, aren't they? The player may find themselves being tossed in jail for even the most minor crimes, such as touching an item that you don't explicitly own. If you do, you will find that you have managed to smuggle a lock pick into your cell. Most jails will have a secret exit so if you are good enough with a pick and sneaky enough to not get caught on the way out (as well as knowing which candelabra to pull) life and liberty will be yours once more.
10 An Invisible Curse
Where are all the citizens of Aleswell? Throw on a detect life spell (or maybe use the Fin Gleam from a few entries up) to discover that they are actually there, but are totally and completely invisible.
If you want to find out what happened, talk to the innkeeper.
He will point you Ancotar the wizard in the castle just down the hill. A visit to Ancotar will have the wizard coughing up a scroll that will dispel the curse he accidentally laid upon the town. Use it in the exact center of town to break the spell and earn free lodging in Aleswell forever.
9 A Pirate's Ship For Me
Everyone wants to be a pirate, right? Just install the Thieves Den plug-in and make your way down to Dunbarrow Cove. After clearing out the cove of the previous pirate crew, you can assume ownership of the ship and will be able to talk to a merchant in Anvil for upgrades to your new hideout. She will conscript you a pirate crew and outfit your lair with all the necessary items. The pirate ship may never sail again, being trapped underneath an entire castle and all, but you can bring a member of your crew on your adventures and another man will supply you with ill-gotten gains.
8 Rescue The Sheep
Sometimes when people are committed to breaking the rules, it falls to you, another pirate, to take the law into your own hands. The Sea Tub Clarabella is involved with sheep smuggling and you can’t let that go unchecked. When you go onto the top deck of the boat, the captain will charge you on sight and it is important to note that the rest of the crew is equally friendly. Once you have dealt with these smuggling pirates, you can return to the top deck to unlock the captain's chest for your just reward.
7 Aid Magoza The Orc
After completing the Knights of the White Stallion quest, an Orc named Mazoga will appear at the White Stallion Lodge. She will request you to aid her in the quest of cleaning up the Black Bow Bandits. Note: there are only three days of the week that she requests your help on. On Morndas she will head for Telepe, on Middas she will go to Rockmilk Cave, and on Turdas she will visit the Undertow Cavern. This is a good way to earn money as each black bow you turn in will net you 1000 gold.
6 The Search For The Poor Troll
When coming across the Mouth of the Panther landmark, players will be able to find a poorly scrawled note which tells of the woes of a nearby bridge troll. This note is made up of him lamenting his less than fearsome appearance and lack of success. The troll decides that there is nothing else he can do with his life.
He achieves this by taking a never-ending swim in the cool river water and can be seen floating.
Though I cannot say for certain, many fans believe that this a nod to the tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
5 A Spire To Call Your Own
If you have the Mages Tower Plug-in installed, you will receive a key for a strange tower which is located somewhere east of Bruma in the mountainous region of Cyrodiil. Enter your new castle only to be disappointed by a big empty room with nothing but a big icy hand holding a book. Read the book for a second and be amazed as the far wall opens up and reveals the rest of your new home, complete with two teleporting pads that take you to other areas. Head to the Mystic Emporium in the Imperial City to buy all the upgrades for your sweet tower.
4 The Mysterious Note
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Fort Coldcorn, you should absolutely go check it out. You will find a chest that holds some random junk as well as a key. There will also be a sword on the ground close by. Before you go ahead and scoop that up, take note of the direction in which the blade is pointing and follow suit. You should come across another chest that needs the aforementioned key in order to be accessed. This secondary chest holds a cool dagger and a note stating “Blessed are those that explore the unbeaten path."
3 That Pesky Necromancer
The Roxey Inn just isn't attracting the amount of business it should and its proprietor Malene knows the reason. In the nearby Moss Rock Cave, there lies a necromancer who spends her days hanging out and causing all kinds of problems for any travelers who happen to wander by.
Malene will enlist your services of dungeon delving and sends you to go deliver a message of sorts to Raelynn the Gravefinder.
After dealing with Raelynn and her friends, you can return to Malene for a meager reward (which is understandable since she hasn't seen much business of late).
2 Annihilate The Count Of Bravil
Of all the Counts in Cyrodiil, only one has the unfortunate distinction of not being labeled as an essential NPC by the game. For those who choose to play without regard for others, this means that you can pay a visit to Bravil (the city which Regulus Terentius governs) and have a glorious revolutionary moment for yourself; that is, before the guards arrest you for the obvious crime. You should also remember to buy the house in Bravil for 4000 gold before you end his life as his son will not assume the throne after his passing.
1 The Rarest Noble Steed
In Oblivion, you can live out your wildest dreams of riding a Unicorn and all you have to is visit Harcane Grove and hop on. Seriously. Although, you do have to beware of the three Minotaurs of the Grove who will not take kindly to you trespassing and then riding off with their friend. The Unicorn itself is a magical animal, boasting complete immunity to normal weapons, poison, paralysis, and disease, has a high running speed and a high resistance to magic. Ride on my friends. Ride on.