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The Marksman skill is an essential weapon for any stealth based character. Allowing the player to strike from a distance and cause maximum damage in a short amount of time. With the correct tools and some handy hints you'll be able to turn your stealth character into a precise and effective killing machine.
This guide will go through every kind of bow/arrow you can get and how to put them to good use. It'll also cover some tips and tactics to get the most out of every shot.
Types of Bows
There are a wide variety of bows in Oblivion. With various enchantments ard strengths, your choice of bow for any given situation is critical.
Basic (Unenchanted) Bows
|Fine Iron Bow||7.2||9|
|Fine Steel Bow||9||10|
|Dremora Light Bow||22||8|
|Dremora Heavy Bow||22||14|
|Bow of Weariness||Dwarven Bow||14||Damage Fatigue 30pts||12||800||34||23|
|Bow of Harm||Glass Bow||18||Damage Health 8pts||16||1200||17||70|
|Bow of Curses||Ebony Bow||20||Damage Magicka 30pts||18||1600||27||59|
|Bow of Despair||Dwarven Bow||14||Demoralize 35pts in 1 ft for 7sec||12||800||32||25|
|Bow of Gloom||Elven Bow||16||Demoralize 45pts for 10sec||14||1200||64||18|
|Bow of Embers||Iron Bow||8||Fire Damage 5pts||8||300||5||60|
|Bow of Burning||Steel Bow||10||Fire Damage 5pts||9||300||5||60|
|Bow of Scorching||Dwarven Bow||14||Fire Damage 10pts||12||800||14||57|
|Bow of Flames||Elven Bow||16||Fire Damage 15pts||14||1200||24||50|
|Bow of Fire||Glass Bow||18||Fire Damage 15pts||16||1200||24||50|
|Bow of the Blaze||Ebony Bow||20||Fire Damage 20pts||18||1600||34||47|
|Bow of the Inferno||Deadric Bow||22||Fire Damage 20pts||20||1600||34||47|
|Bow of Frost||Iron Bow||8||Frost Damage 5pts||8||300||5||60|
|Bow of Numbing||Steel Bow||10||Frost Damage 5pts||9||300||5||60|
|Bow of Cold||Dwarven Bow||14||Frost Damage 10pts||12||800||14||57|
|Bow of Freezing||Elven Bow||16||Frost Damage 15pts||14||1200||24||50|
|Bow of Glacier||Glass Bow||18||Frost Damage 15pts||16||1200||24||50|
|Bow of Blizzards||Ebony Bow||20||Frost Damage 20pts||18||1600||34||47|
|Bow of Winter||Deadric Bow||22||Frost Damage 20pts||20||1600||34||47|
|Bow of Sparks||Iron Bow||8||Shock Damage 5pts||8||300||5||60|
|Bow of Jolts||Steel Bow||10||Shock Damage 5pts||9||300||5||60|
|Bow of Shocking||Dwarven Bow||14||Shock Damage 10pts||12||800||14||57|
|Bow of Voltage||Elven Bow||16||Shock Damage 15pts||14||1200||24||50|
|Bow of Dynamo||Glass Bow||18||Shock Damage 15pts||16||1200||24||50|
|Bow of Lightning||Ebony Bow||20||Shock Damage 20pts||18||1600||34||47|
|Bow of Storms||Deadric Bow||22||Shock Damage 20pts||20||1600||34||47|
|Bow of Silence||Glass Bow||18||Silence 20secs||16||1200||120||10|
|Bow of Quietus||Ebony Bow||20||Silence 25pts||18||1600||150||10|
|Blizzard Bow||Elven Bow||16||Frost Damage 8pts in 20ft||14||1200||31||38|
|Dragon Bow||Elven Bow||16||Fire Damage 8pts in 20ft||14||1200||32||37|
|Storm Bow||Elven Bow||16||Shock Damage 8pts in 20ft||14||1200||33||36|
|Bow of Infliction||20||Damage Agilty 5pts, Drain Marksman 15pts 60secs||18||3000||100||30||Daenlin sells it at The Archer's Paradox in Bravil.|
|Bow of Infernal Frost||14||Fire Damage 10pts, Frost Damage 10pts||8||200||28||7||M'Raaj-Dar sells it in the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary in Cheydinhal.|
|Frostwyrm Bow||14||Frost Damage 15pts||15||500||23||21||Taken from the corpse of the Uderfrykte Matron.|
A reward for the Dark Brotherhood quest, The Lonely Wanderer.
|1-4||8||Damage Health 5pts, Damage Magicka 5pts, Turn Undead up to level 3, Weakness to poison 5pts||10||100||10||10|
|5-9||8||Damage Health 7pts, Damage Magicka 7pts, Turn Undead up to level 7, Weakness to poison 7pts||10||450||16||28|
|10-14||8||Damage Health 10pts, Damage Magicka 10pts, Turn Undead up to level 12, Weakness to poison 10pts||10||850||27||31|
|15-19||8||Damage Health 12pts, Damage Magicka 12pts, Turn Undead up to level 17, Weakness to poison 12pts||10||16500||34||48|
|20-24||8||Damage Health 15pts, Damage Magicka 15pts, Turn Undead up to level 22, Weakness to poison 15pts||10||3400||47||72|
|25-29||8||Damage Health 17pts, Damage Magicka 17pts, Turn Undead up to level 27, Weakness to poison 17pts||10||6700||58||115|
|30+||8||Damage Health 20pts, Damage Magicka 20pts, Turn Undead up to level 32, Weakness to poison 20pts||10||9000||70||128|
Found in the Chorrol Oblivion Gate during the Allies for Bruma quest.
|1-4||12||Drain Speed 5pts for 10sec, Fire Damage 5pts||15||1200||10||120|
|5-7||12||Drain Speed 10pts for 15sec, Fire Damage 10pts||16||2400||34||70|
|8-10||12||Drain Speed 15pts for 20sec, Fire Damage 15pts||18||3200||68||47|
|11-14||12||Drain Speed 20pts for 20sec, Fire Damage 20pts||20||3600||98||36|
|15-18||12||Drain Speed 25pts for 30sec, Fire Damage 25pts||22||4200||175||24|
|19+||12||Drain Speed 30pts for 45sec, Fire Damage 30pts||24||4800||315||15|
Types of Arrows
There is an even wider variety of arrows in Oblivion. Combining these with different bows can bring different and unexpected results against various enemies.
Basic (Unenchanted) Arrows
|Dremora Field Arrow||1.0||8|
|Dremora Barbed Arrow||1.5||10|
|Dremora Broadhead Arrow||2.0||12|
|Arrow of Withering||Silver Arrow||0.1||5||Damage all Attributes 2pts|
|Arrow of Fatigue||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Damage Fatigue 20pts|
|Arrow of Harm||Elven Arrow||0.1||12||Damage Health 8pts|
|Arrow of Jinxing||Silver Arrow||0.1||10||Damage Magicka 20pts|
|Arrow of Hexing||Glass Arrow||0.1||13||Damage Magicak 25pts|
|Arrow of Fear||Iron Arrow||0.1||8||Demorolize 25pts|
|Arrow of Qualms||Iron Arrow||0.1||8||Demorolize 25pts|
|Arrow of Misery||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Demorolize 25pts|
|Arrow of Cowardice||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Demorolize 25pts|
|Arrow of Dispel||Silver Arrow||0.1||10||Dispel 25pts|
|Arrow of Drain Magicka||Silver Arrow||0.1||10||Drain Magicka 30pts for 10sec|
|Arrow of Embers||Iron Arrow||0.1||8||Fire Damage 5pts|
|Arrow of Burning||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Fire Damage 5pts|
|Arrow of Scorching||Dwarven Arrow||0.1||11||Fire Damage 10pts|
|Arrow of Flames||Elven Arrow||0.1||12||Fire Damage 15pts|
|Arrow of Fire||Glass Arrow||0.1||13||Fire Damage 15pts|
|Arrow of the Blaze||Ebony Arrow||0.2||14||Fire Damage 20pts|
|Arrow of the Inferno||Deadric Arrow||0.25||15||Fire Damage 20pts|
|Arrow of Cleansing||Silver Arrow||0.1||5||Fire Damage 40pts in 10ft for 2sec|
|Arrow of Immolation||Glass Arrow||0.1||8||Fire Damage 65pts in 10ft|
|Arrow of Discord||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Frenzy 40pts in 10ft for 15sec|
|Arrow of Frost||Iron Arrow||0.1||8||Frost Damage 5pts|
|Arrow of Numbing||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Frost Damage 5pts|
|Arrow of Cold||Dwarven Arrow||0.1||11||Frost Damage 10pts|
|Arrow of Freezing||Elven Arrow||0.1||12||Frost Damage 15pts|
|Arrow of the Glacier||Glass Arrow||0.1||13||Frost Damage 15pts|
|Arrow of Blizzards||Ebony Arrow||0.2||14||Frost Damage 20pts|
|Arrow of Winter||Deadric Arrow||0.25||15||Frost Damage 20pts|
|Arrow of Savage Frost||Dwarven||0.1||6||Frost Damage 40pts in 10ft for 2sec|
|Arrow of Light||Iron Arrow||0.1||8||Light 10pts for 20sec|
|Flare Arrow||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Fire Damage 5pts, Light 10pts for 20sec|
|Arrow of Illumination||Dwarven Arrow||0.1||11||Fire Damage 8pts, Light 10pts for 30sec|
|Arrow of Brilliance||Elven Arrow||0.1||12||Fire Damage 12pts, Light 10pts for 40sec|
|Arrow of Sunlight||Glass Arrow||0.1||13||Fire Damage 15pts, Light 10pts for 50sec|
|Arrow of Sparks||Iron Arrow||0.1||8||Shock Damage 5pts|
|Arrow of Jolts||Steel Arrow||0.1||9||Shock Damage 5pts|
|Arrow of Shocking||Dwarven Arrow||0.1||11||Shock Damage 10pts|
|Arrow of Voltage||Elven Arrow||0.1||12||Shock Damage 15pts|
|Arrow of the Dynamo||Glass Arrow||0.1||13||Shock Damage 15pts|
|Arrow of Lightning||Ebony Arrow||0.2||14||Shock Damage 20pts|
|Arrow of Storms||Deadric Arrow||0.25||15||Shock Damage 20pts|
|Stormcall Arrow||Elven Arrow||0.1||7||Shock Damage 30pts in 10ft for 2sec|
|Arrow of Storm Strike||Ebony Arrow||0.1||8||Shock Damage 40pts in 10ft for 2sec|
|Arrow of Silence||Dwarven Arrow||0.1||11||Silence for 15sec|
|Arrow of Stillness||Elven Arrow||0.1||12||Silence for 20sec|
|Magebane Arrow||Deadric Arrow||0.25||10||Silence in 10ft for 20sec|
|Hatreds Soul Arrow||Deadric Arrow||0.20||20||Soul Trap for 15sec|
|Arrow of Extrication||0.2||1||N.A.||From the Thieves Guild final quest, The Ultimate Heist.|
|Rose of Sithis||0.1||9||Kills Adamus Phillida if he is not wearing his armor.||From the Dark Brotherhood quest, Permanent Retirement.|
Marksman as you Level – Perks and Afflictions
At Novice level you will lose fatigue while drawing your bow. Watch this because for many warrior classes this may be extremely quick.
An Apprentice of marksman will not suffer any loss of fatigue drawing a bow.
At the Journeyman level, the player has the ability to zoom in on a target by holding the block button while an arrow is drawn. Be careful as you'll lose a lot of your peripheral sight when doing this.
An expert of marksman has a chance of knocking there opponent down. Shots at the feet will send NPCs higher, while shots to the body will send them further.
A Master retains all of the abilities of the previous skill perks. He also gains the chance to paralyze his opponent on strike.
- Lead your target. Just because you’ve taken the shot, doesn’t mean your target won’t stop moving. Try and anticipate their movements. Practicing on deer (Because they are agile and move a lot) is definitely the safest and most effective practice.
- Arch your shot. Gravity begins to affect your arrow as soon as it is fired. So unless you are at point blank range, your arrow will hit lower than where you aimed. When taking a long shot, adjust your aim to be higher than your target.
- Pick your shots. Try and do as much damage as possible in the shortest amount of time, to the strongest enemy first. For example, if you were faced with a rat and a Clannfear, you’d try and take out the Clannfear as quickly as possible, then dispose of the rat later. Why alert stronger enemies with a weakling’s death?
- Training. There are some things you need to know when training. Pumping arrow aftar arrow into a practice target (i.e. The round one's near guilds etc) is pointless. The only outcome is your bow will slowly become more and more damaged. The same applies for bodies. A dead Bandit might look great with 50+ arrows in his/her head, but you've just wasted a lot of time on nothing.
Your Bow is Sweeter with Poison
A marksman’s best friend is of course his/her bow, but their bedfellow is always going to be poisons. Poisons add a huge advantage to marksmen. Without them your bow will be far less effective. Applying bow base damage + arrow base damage + bow enchantment + arrow enchantment+ multiple effect poison will result in huge amounts of damage in a ridiculously short amount of time. Here is a poison that never fails me. Of course a high skill in alchemy is needed.
• Damage Health • Damage Magicka • Ice Damage • Silence • Paralyze
Made with Frost Salts, Milk Thistle Seeds, Harrada and Wormwood Leaves.
Combined with enchanted weapons this poison seals the deal. Even if they get up after you hit them, the enemy will soon die from the Damage Health and Ice Damage effects. Even a simple Paralyze poison will allow you to run in for some quick hits.
- Freaky sneaky. While sneak attacking, switching to a melee weapon as soon as you fire will cause the game to apply the melee weapons sneak multiplier (x4 or x6) instead of the bows (x2 or x3). This can add a huge amount of extra damage on that crucial first shot.
- Knock first. Shooting a door that does not lead to another cell (i.e. Old Wooden Door) will sometimes cause an arrow’s enchantment to take effect. This can allow you to draw one enemy away from others or simply land the killing blow.
- Be prepared. Having a bow and arrow combo with only shock damage is great, but what happens when you come up against a Strom Atronach? Having a contingency plan is a must for marksman. Having a few of two or three different types of arrows means you’ll be prepared for every situation.
Bows and Combat
- Thanks to Wash Quon'Asin
“The art of not dying.”
The kind of tactics you will use depend on the kind of enemy you’re going to face. Here’s a bit of a breakdown:
(Zombies, Trolls, Fighters, Ogres, etc.)
This is the most difficult group to deal with as a marksman. Your best bet is to start off in sneak mode. Getting that extra 3x damage is essential for the long-range character. With the right landscape between you and your opponent, you can take off enough health that by the time they get to you a small tap with a backup melee weapon will do them in. Try and position yourself with lots of obstacles between you and them so they spend more time trying to get to you. If they’re slow enough (like ogres) you can back up and keep firing to keep putting the hurt on them with your bow. Or, if you have at least 50 in Acrobatics, hold block and press back and jump – you’ll backflip very quickly out of the way and put more distance between you and them.
As far as enchantments go, some decent elemental damage will knock huge chunks of their health off in a hurry. Absorb health is also good, as it will give to you what it takes from them. Enchanting bows with either of these effects will require the Arcane University and a lot of gold, or the appropriate Sigil Stones. Alternately, you can enchant a bow with calming effects, so that every arrow that hits them makes them put away their weapon and chill out for a bit. Another popular method is to put a burden enchantment on a bow, so the big bad warrior is stuck in one spot while you pick away at him. The idea is to get as much damage done before they can reach you with their melee weapons.
If there are more than one melee enemy, you have basically two options. An Arrow of Immolation (65 fire damage in 10 feet), Stormcall Arrow or similar area damage bow or ammunition fired into a group does wonders to evening the odds. A couple of those and only weaklings remain to take out with your dagger. The other option is to fire a single arrow from the shadows at the closest enemy, then lure them to an out-of-the-way location so you can dispatch them at your leisure. Repeat until the whole group is done.
Occasionally, these tactics will lead to you getting swarmed by many large and intimidating foes. Should this occur, simply use every archer’s fallback: potions of invisibility. Weak potions of invisibility are fairly priced, and a half dozen or so in the backpack will give you 15 seconds of respite each for you to make your escape and come back to the battle on your own terms.
(Mages, Necromancers, Vampires, etc.)
As before, your best bet is to begin in stealth mode and try to get in a good first strike. Mages rarely wear armor, so a one-hit kill is a definite possibility. Pick the biggest damage combination of bow, poison and arrow you can and let them have it.
If you aren’t certain that you can kill the mage in one shot, something else you should try is an arrow or poison of silence. A low-level one will do – 10-15 seconds or so. When the arrow hits, they’ll be unable to cast offensive or defensive spells. They also won’t be able to summon undead or daedra, who can turn a simple mage-killing into a much more complicated endeavor. A mage without his or her magic is just a peasant in a fancy robe, and will fall quickly to another shot or two.
When mages do succeed in summoning creatures, do your best to ignore them. Once the mage dies, the creature will vanish. If the creature gets close or is blocking your shot, quaff one of those potions of invisibility we were talking about. Get into a better angle for your shot, and put a shaft between the mage’s shoulder blades. And if you can’t silence them, just strafe or dodge (for you journeymen acrobats) out of the way of their offensive spells and keep firing. Low armor level typically means a short battle.
(Bandits, Skeletons, etc.)
As always, the first arrow should be fired from sneak mode for the damage bonus. When the archer notices you, they will usually come a bit closer and then start firing arrows at you. The general pattern of the archer is to nock and fire an arrow, then strafe back and forth so you can’t get a bead on them before aiming and firing again. You can waste a lot of arrows shooting at these jokers if you’re not ready for their dodging tactics.
The best option available is to only fire when they make ready an arrow. Draw your bow back and wait as they strafe. When they pull out an arrow, fire and prepare to do some strafing of your own. Typically, archers won’t fire when you’re strafing, so pause briefly and give them something to shoot at before sidestepping the arrow. If you are a journeyman in acrobatics, then you may be able to get two arrows away at them before their one arrow gets to where you are. When they stop moving and pull out an arrow, fire the first arrow and immediately fire the second. Then go into a side roll (hold block and hit strafe and jump) and avoid the arrow just in time. It takes good timing and lots of practice, but is incredibly satisfying to pull off.
Good enchantments for fighting archers, other than the standard plus damage ones, are hard to come by. A decent pick is usually Absorb Marksman, as it improves your ability to do damage while harming theirs. A Damage Agility enchantment will screw their shooting up as well – a combination of the two and the archer might not hit you if you were five feet away. Using calming enchantments will get them to put their bow away and stop dodging, which is mighty convenient. When low on arrows or just plain frustrated, they will drop their bow and pull out a secondary weapon (usually a dagger). They usually suck quite a bit with it, so don’t worry about it too much. Dispose of them in the usual manner.
Alawen the Terrible
Fighter that is. She is one of the most annoying Master trainers in the game. She has a bad habit of not only sleeping in a Bandit camp, but also getting drawn into close combat with nothing but a stock bow. Here are some tips to keeping her alive.
- Baby-sit her. It's annoying and time consuming but it's a way to know for certain where she is and that she hasn't been killed. You can wander off to the nearby bandit camps while she's sleeping if you need to level combat/mage skills.
- Stay out of the wilderness. That way the god damn calculation engine wont decide her stats are too low to survive any fight. Fast travel everywhere. No walkies.
- Don't travel straight to her camp. The likelyhood of her dieing is greater if you fast travel straight to Troll Candel camp. Go to a nearby location and leg it the rest of the way.
- Travel at night. Basically becasue she'll be sleeping (around 1 am - 4 am), that way you can find her easier (Detect Life helps).
Tables copied and reformated from UESP