A "very hard" lock with 5 tumblers.

For other uses, see Lockpicking.

Lockpicking is one of the minigames that can be played in order to accomplish a simple task in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Lockpicking can be accomplished by chance or manually. Lockpicking requires having at least one lockpick in the inventory. Without a lockpick, even the lowest level locks will require magic or a key to open.


The ability to pick a lock is controlled by the stealth skill, Security.

As the level in Security is raised, the number of tumblers that remain locked in place when a pick breaks increase in the following manner:

  • Novice – No tumblers remain in place
  • Apprentice – One tumbler remains in place
  • Journeyman – Two tumblers remain in place
  • Expert – Three tumblers remain in place
  • Master – Tumblers always remain in place

Picking a lockEdit

Depending on the difficulty of the lock, there can be anywhere from 1–5 tumblers in the 'down' position of a lock. Moving the pick left or right will select what tumbler the player will work on. Moving the tumbler up will result in attempting to place the tumbler. While moving the tumbler in place the character must "set" the tumbler in place when it reaches the top of the lock. When the tumbler is pushed up a slight "tink" sound will be heard once it reaches the top of the lock. When the sound is heard set the tumbler. If the timing is not correct, the pick will break and the tumbler will fall. Skill level will determine how many additional tumblers will drop if a pick is broken. Once all the tumblers are set, the lock will open. It is important to note that the speed the pin slides at varies for each push, and can be quite tough to time correctly when it moves quickly, regardless of security level. The easiest way to combat this is to acquire the Skeleton Key.

While lockpicking, a pattern will develop with the tumblers rising and falling. If a pattern is recognized, one can easily set the tumbler when it reaches the top of the lock. One technique is to recognize the pattern of when the tumbler rises slow and falls slow. This will give the most time to set the tumbler.

Another technique is to recognize the pattern for when the tumbler rises and falls at its fastest rate. In these two cases it comes down to preferences of the player.

The in-game book Advances in Lockpicking recommends holding a torch close to the lock while picking it.[1] (Having a torch equipped when you approach the lock to pick it.) Heating the lock is supposed to make all the pins fall at a uniform rate. Unfortunately, this practice does not work in game.


Auto-attempt is a chance game of unlocking the lock depending on the difficulty level of the lock and the Security skill. The lock either opens or the pick breaks. Simply continue pressing Auto-Attempt until the lock successfully opens.

If your security level is low (relative to the lock difficulty), picks will break more often. However, auto-attempt is a chance so it is possible to unlock the lock on the first try. 

A technique for auto-attempt is to have as many lockpicks as possible. If the player has a large quantity of lockpicks one can repeatedly hit auto-attempt until the lock opens. This will also raise the Security skill faster.

One of the best techniques for lockpicking is to complete the quest given at the Shrine of Nocturnal. The reward given is the Skeleton Key, which is an unbreakable lockpick. With the Skeleton Key, the player can repeatedly hit auto-attempt without running out of lockpicks. The Skeleton Key also increases the security skill by 40 points, increasing the chance of a successful pick.


Lockpicking can also be accomplished by Open Lock spells, based on Alteration. Magicka regenerates for free, so this is often a cheaper/faster alternative to lock-picking by hand. Open Very Hard Lock spells do not seem to exist at vendors but can be made at the Arcane University.


  • It takes in-game time to cast the Open Lock spells, whereas the game pauses when attempting the minigame. Therefore, if a lock needs to be picked "quickly" in game-time (e.g. before a guard gets around a corner), using the minigame is better.
  • Using an open lock spell does not count as a crime where picking with lockpicks is a crime.
  • Skill-ups for Security occur from locking the pins, rather than from actually opening the locked container. If you want to gain skill all you need to do is exit the lock before locking the final pin. This allows you to use one locked container for as many skill-ups as you want. Security skill also increases from breaking the pick.
  • If you need additional lockpicks and you want to use the console, press the tilde (~) button on your keyboard, then type: "player.additem 0000000a X" (without the quotes), where X is the number of lockpicks you want. If you want additional Skeleton Key, change the 0000000a to 0000000b.
  • The Thieves Den Official Plug-in comes with a lockpick training chest that will instantly lock itself after unlocking it. If the skeleton keys is acquired, the player can auto-attempt without fear of running out of lockpicks while increasing the security skill.

See alsoEdit



Start a Discussion Discussions about Lockpicking (Oblivion)

  • Lockpicking?

    9 messages
    • Dont forget that you can also get the Skeleton Key. But the spell also works really well.
    • Why do people assume that everyone plays RPGs on a console? Or on "their" preferred console?
  • lockpick is nightmare....

    18 messages
    • wrote: Note: D: why people do not understand that this is the oblivion discussion page, not morrowind or skyrim At first t...
    • Brunoob wrote: wrote: Note: D: why people do not understand that this is the oblivion discussion page, not morrowind or skyrim...
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