The art of persuasion in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is illustrated by a mini game featuring a wheel with options to select, rotate, or bribe. The Speechcraft skill affects the result of actions where you select a 'pie slice' and the cost of the bribe option. There are no tools required for the persuasion mini-game.
There are four persuasion actions that each occupy a section of the persuasion wheel: Joke, Admire, Boast, and Coerce. Each NPC will have one of four reactions to each action: Love, Like, Dislike, or Hate. Lastly there are four possible magnitudes for each action: Maximum, Large, Small, and Minimum. How the NPC feels about each action is reflected by his/her facial expression when the action is selected.
The persuasion mini game is played in rounds, and in each round all four actions must be taken. The objective is to raise the NPC's disposition by matching the biggest magnitude actions, illustrated by the size of the pie slice, with the positive reactions. While the persuasion mini game is active, the target NPC's disposition will fall at a constant rate until the game is over, so decision of what order to activate the wedges in must be made quickly.
- For tips on leveling the Speechcraft skill, see Skill Leveling Tips
Higher levels of Speechcraft will decrease the difficulty of the persuasion mini game by unlocking additional options, changing the effect of selecting certain actions, and increasing the persuasion timer. The core of the game, selecting wedges in a precise order, can be played at any level.
- Novice: Can offer bribes to increase disposition.
- Apprentice: Gains a free rotation of wedge in the Persuasion mini-game.
- Journeyman: The falling disposition in the Persuasion mini-game falls 50% slower.
- Expert: Disposition loss from "Hate it" results in the Persuasion mini-game are only -100% (down from -150%)
- Master: Bribes cost half as much.
In addition, each NPC has a "maxed disposition" level, which is based on which character it is and the player's skill at Speechcraft. As your Speechcraft skill improves, it will have increased effects on NPC disposition.
Alternatives to persuasion
Players can cast charm spells to raise disposition. The Imperial race's Voice of the Emperor and the Vampires Seduction powers are both very handy in this regard. Also, the Mages Guild can give you a mages staff of charm after you complete the "A Mage's Staff" quest.
Note that all of these alternatives stack: if you persuade until "disposition maxed," you can further increase disposition by bribes and spells. It should be noted that the cost of bribes will increase as you increase your level. In fact, individual spells stack: if you cast multiple "Charm"-type spells on an NPC, you can easily get almost anyone to 100 disposition with only apprentice skill in Speechcraft and Illusion. It is also possible at apprentice Illusion, or even earlier, to create a 100-point short-term (around 5 seconds) charm spell that allows you to max out your disposition with everybody in the game.
Having a weapon ready when talking to an NPC will (temporarily) lower their disposition, allowing you to raise their disposition even higher; simply put your weapon away when you have maxed out their disposition to remove the penalty.
How to persuade
Upon starting the persuasion game you'll see the 4 slices aligned with the 4 persuasion actions Joke, Admire, Boast, and Coerce. Each of these slices will be filled to a certain degree. When selecting these slices you can read the facial expression to see how much each character likes it. The Hate and Love will be pretty obvious, but with the less human races Like and Dislike might be just a guess (you'll know after the first round - just watch if the disposition rises or falls).
Then it's all a matter of selecting the Love or Like slices with a filled pie slice (maximum if possible) and the hate and dislike slices when they aren't as full. The slices rotate in a clockwise manner with each selection, so you can predict where each one is going to land. This might mean that you have to accept a full box on dislike, just to avoid a full box on Hate, which has a far more severe penalty on disposition.
Remember, disposition reduces steadily as you play the game, so don't take too long in each round. Sometimes it's just impossible to get a raise in disposition from the slices given. No harm done, you can just try over and over. Don't be afraid to select a lesser magnitude slice that will give you a disposition boost if it means you'll avoid losing disposition points in that round.
When your Speechcraft reaches 25, another dimension is added to the game: you can now rotate the slices once without actually selecting a persuasion action. How this is to be used is clear, if the Hate action is currently full but the previous one (in a clockwise manner) is almost empty, you would want to rotate.