ESO Justice System Guide: Being a Thief and/or Assassin
Elder Scrolls Online update 6 brought with it the Justice System, aka the ability to commit crimes. The types of crimes that you can perform include: stealing/thievery, assault, and even murder. There are repercussions to being a thief or a thug, however: being seen committing any of these transgressions will lead to a bounty being placed on your head. The more often you are seen doing these unlawful acts, the higher your bounty will scale (see below for more detail).
How to Commit Crimes in ESO
There are two ways to steal stuff in Elder Scrolls: pick pocketing NPCs, and just outright theft.
To pick pocket someone, you'll first need to pick your mark. NPCs that have a yellowy-white aura around them when you target them are fair game. Once you have picked your victim, go into sneak mode (tap CTRL on PC), and then sneak up behind them.
Watch your "hidden" indicator to be sure you haven't been spotted. Once you are in position, you will be shown your chance of successfully picking the NPCs pocket.
If you are not caught picking pockets, then you can carry on your way. If you are caught then you will accrue some bounty, and there are a couple of other things that can happen:
- If there is a guard nearby then they will rush over and demand that you pay your bounty. You can choose to flee, but you are putting your life on the line, and if you are killed then the guards will take the bounty from the gold you have in your pockets.
- If there is no guard nearby then the NPC will attack you. You can either kill the NPC and increase the bounty on your head further, or you can flee.
To steal stuff, simply pick it up. Items that are considered stolen when picked up are clearly marked that way when you target them. Of course, it's best not to be seen when you steal stuff, so make sure no-one sees you performing your misdeed.
Assault and Murder
Most NPCs are susceptible to being attacked. You can either outright attack them, or if you have the skills for it, sneak up behind them and assassinate them. If another NPC witnesses the attack then they are liable to attack you. And be careful, NPCs react in different ways, so you may bite off more than you can chew.
Selling Stolen and Pilfered Goods
There wouldn't be much point in stealing loot if you couldn't make a profit on it, so you need a way to fence your stolen items. Fortunately, in most big cities there are places call Outlaws Refuges. These are safe havens for you unruly types; there are no guards to stop you, and there are Fences inside that you can sell your misbegotten items to. A word of warning though--there is a daily limit on how much these NPCs will buy from you, as they don't want to attract the attention of the law to themselves.
There are four levels that the bounty on your head will scale to as you ravage the citizens of Tamriel, each labeled with a different level of notoriety (from lowest to highest):
Upstanding: You are a fine and upstanding citizen and guards have no reason to accost you.
Disreputable: You will generally be fine and guards will not attack you on sight, however if you walk right up to a guard they will force you to pay your Bounty or flee.
Notorious: Guards will rush over to force you to pay your Bounty or flee. You can still sneak around the Guards if you are careful however the Guards are more likely to rush over to you than if you were Disreputable.
Fugitive: You are now “kill on sight” and Guards will not attempt to force you to pay your Bounty, rather they will try to kill you.
You can see the level of bounty that you are at by referring to the Bounty Indicator in the lower right of your HUD. There are two colors on the indicator: red and white.
The red on the indicator indicates how much heat you're under. This diminishes quite quickly and has to do with how aggressivley the guards will pursue you when they spot you. If you've just been seen committing a crime, your heat probably will be high.
The white on the indicator is the level of bounty that you are at. Refer to the above "Bounty Levels" for details on what each level means.
Paying Your Bounty:
If you have not hit the Fugitive bounty level, then paying off your bounty is simple; just approach a guard or go to the Fence in the Outlaws Refuge, and pay them your bounty. Even if you are a fugitive and have enough gold on-hand then just let the guards kill you and they will take the gold from your pockets.
However, if you are a Fugitive and you have your gold in the bank then you have only a few options:
- Stay out of towns and just perform random quests until you can get enough gold in your pockets to have your bounty paid when the guards kill you.
- Wait it out. Your bounty decreases over time, so go do other stuff and wait for your bounty to drop to a point where the guards won't kill you on sight and you can sneak into a bank and get your gold. You can do random questing, or just log out and do some RL stuff. Yes, your bounty drops when you are logged out too.
- Go to Cyrodiil. The justice system is not in effect in the PVP zone Cyrodiil, and there's a bank there as well. You can either get the necessary funds from your bank that way, or just PVP and wait for your bounty to drop. For more information on getting into Cyrodiil, see the PVP Guide.
If a life of crime is for you, ESO even provides you an entire skill line that you can progress through. The more crimes you commit, the more you will progress through this skill line.
Specifically, you advance in this skill line by fencing goods, pickpocketing or picking locks and gaining achievements within the Justice System.