Oblivion Gates are the gateways created between Mundus and the Oblivion planes. They are fiery, magical portals that facilitate travel between the two planes. The strange humming, whining noise they emit can be heard before the gate is even found. The Oblivion Gates have been created by the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon. He created these allowing the Daedra to roam and conquer Tamriel while causing widespread destruction and chaos.
Closing Oblivion Gates is one of the main tasks in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. During the Oblivion Crisis, all of Tamriel was attacked by Mehrunes Dagon's Daedric army. Oblivion Gates opened throughout all of Tamriel, and many cities were destroyed. Martin Septim summoned the Avatar of Akatosh and defeated Mehrunes Dagon during the Battle of the Imperial City, ending the Crisis and preventing more gates from opening.
Most Oblivion Gates appear pseudo-randomly throughout Cyrodiil, based on the Hero's progress along the main questline of Oblivion. There are 100 distinct locations where a gate can appear, and as each gate is closed that particular location will never spawn a new gate without the use of console commands. However, no more than 60 separate gates will appear during a single game, including 10 gates which will always open in designated spots.
There are two gates that open on top of wayshrines. The first opens and completely buries the Wayshrine of Mara northwest of Anvil. The second one opens on top of the Wayshrine of Kynareth east of Skingrad at the top of a steep hill down the gold road, breaking it in half, although this wayshrine can still be used by activating one of the two halves.
When entering an Oblivion Gate, there are several exterior map templates randomly chosen from, as well as several interior maps for the towers and caves, which allows for different map configurations for each gate. The ten guaranteed gate locations lead to a specifically chosen Oblivion map; five gates lead to a specific one of the random worlds, and the other five have a custom Oblivion map with random towers.
These gates always spawn in the same location, and are triggered as soon as a specific part of the main quest line in completed.
Only three gates that are required to complete the main quest. These gates are:
- Kvatch Descendant Gate: This gate opens outside Kvatch as soon as the Hero leaves the sewers. It leads to the unique Kvatch Gate world.
- Bruma Gate: Opens outside Bruma after delivering a Daedric artifact to Martin. Jauffre sends the Hero to close this gate. It leads to the unique Bruma Gate world.
- Bruma Great Gate: Opens in a field southeast of Bruma, after arriving there with Martin. (Note that other Oblivion Gates open during this quest, but those cannot be entered). This leads to the unique Great Gate world.
The remaining gates are part of the "Allies for Bruma" quest, one per city that may send allies. These open as soon as the Hero steals the Mysterium Xarxes from the Dagon Shrine. For each city, the nearby gate must be closed before the Count or Countess will risk sending their soldiers away to Bruma:
- Cheydinhal Gate: Leads to the unique Cheydinal Gate world (and "The Wayward Knight" quest).
- Anvil Gate: Leads to a world with the Sigil Tower atop a mountain, which requires traversing two sets of tunnels in order to reach.
- Bravil Gate: Leads to a world with a single war gate between the Oblivion Gate and Sigil tower, which is opened from one of two peripheral towers.
- Chorrol Gate: Leads to a world with six "natural disaster" towers and four war gates.
- Leyawiin Gate: Leads to a world with a dead horse and a ruined bridge just inside the gate.
- Skingrad Gate: Leads to a world with two side towers and retractable bridges.
- There is always an Oblivion Gate near Fort Sutch, which opens at the same time as the city gates; this gate randomly leads to one of four Oblivion worlds.
- There is also a couple of Oblivion Gates spawning in the Temple District of the Imperial City, when Mehrunes Dagon attacks.
In addition to these ten gates, up to 50 out of the 90 remaining gate locations will spawn a gate as you progress through the main quest. These gates do not spawn all at once, but appear to spawn as the Hero nears their location. For example, one could pass an Oblivion Gate at one location, reload an earlier saved game, and no longer find it at that location. Once a gate spawns and is closed, the dead gate remains present for the rest of the game, and no other gate will spawn there. (Until the end of the main quest, Oblivion Gates can reopen).
The number of gates, and the odds of a gate appearing, depend on how much of the main quest line has been completed. After rescuing Martin from the Kvatch Gate, up to 25 random gates will open. When nearing each possible location, there is a 25% chance that a gate will spawn. At the same time that the fixed city gates open, the number of possible random gates increases to 50, its highest point. In addition, there is now a 50% chance of any given gate location spawning a gate. After retrieving the Amulet of Kings from Paradise, the number of gates drops to 20, with a 20% chance of a new one spawning. Note that the maximum number of open gates also includes dead gates that have already been closed; that is, if the Hero has closed more than 20 gates by the time they return the amulet, no more will spawn.
Upon finishing the main quest, the maximum number of open gates, and the odds of a new gate opening, both drop to zero. From this point, new gates can only be opened with console commands.
Below is an incomplete list of locations where a gate can open, along with a partial map to the right. The list is organized based on the nearest city to the gate location.
- Far NNW of Anvil, near a Daedric Shrine
- Southeast of Anvil, at the top of a hill, nearby the Gweden Farm
- West of Anvil
- Just northwest of Anvil, destroys the Wayshrine of Mara south of Crowhaven
- Far southeast of Anvil, along the Strid River, close to the small island
- Near Fort Sutch after the quest "Dagon Shrine" but before Light the Dragonfires (talking to the Imperial Guard Captain optional) (Attack on Fort Sutch)
- From Bruma & from Gnoll Mountain
- East, about half-way to the Temple of the Ancestors Moth, near the "n" in "The Jerall Mountains" on the map.
- West from Bruma, just south to Applewatch
- Just southwest of Cheydinhal
- Straight north of Cheydinhal
- South of Cheydinhal, to the east of Vahtacen
- East of Odiil Farm
- South of Chorrol, near Fort Carmala
- North of Battlehorn Castle
- East of Battlehorn Castle
- South of Cloud Top, just east of Fort Rayles
- Southeast of the Arcane University
- Directly south, just beyond Pell's Gate
- Northeast of the Imperial City
- Northeast of Aleswell just off the Red Ring Road
- Northeast of Vilverin just before the road
- Just next to Fort Alessia
- Breaking the Siege of Kvatch
- Far south of Kvatch, nearby the Dasek Moor towards the Strid River
- Southwest of Kvatch
- Northwest of Kvatch
- North-northeast of Kvatch, above the 'a' in 'Kvatch' on the map
- Southeast of Kvatch is an Oblivion Gate
- Far north of Leyawiin, northeast Shrine of Nocturnal
- Directly east of Leyawiin, directly north of Bogwater
- East of Skingrad, following the Gold Road northeast
- Two gates west of Skingrad, both in the view range from Bleak Flats Cave
- A further gate to the south of the two mentioned above
- North of Skingrad, directly west of Goblin Jim's Cave
- One inside the Skingrad Graveyard, just outside the city
- Far northwest corner of map, on a tall hill.
- South of Fort Alessia
- Between Fort Variela and Veyond Cave
- North of Lake Canulus and Lost Boy Cavern, west of Valus Mountains, east of Silverfish River, in the Nibenay Basin
- South of Fort Wooden Hand
- Southeast of Fort Blueblood, northeast of Bogwater
- South of Priory of the Nine
- Near Cropsford
- Behind the Inn of Ill Omen
- East of Temple of the Ancestor Moths, north of the Shrine of Azura
- Behind Gutted Mine (west of the entrance)
- Northwest of Kvatch
- Near Roland Jenseric's Cabin
There are several quest that require going into Oblivion Gates:
- Breaking the Siege of Kvatch
- Allies for Bruma
- The Wayward Knight
- Mysticism Master Training
- Restoration Master Training
- Occasionally, different Planes of Oblivion will share the same interior map cell. It is possible with a very high Athletics skill or by using console commands to reach the other Planes. Going through one gate and out another can serve as an unorthodox method of fast travel.