The Justice System was added to ESO with Update 6 (1.6) in March 2015. The Justice System allows players to pickpocket NPCs, steal items in cities, kill many NPCs and become a fugitive from the guards. Taking part in this illegal activity will increase your Bounty which you’ll either need to pay in gold to a guard or spend time away from the cities waiting for it to go down.
This system allows your character to participate in different types of criminal activity. You can steal goods and murder NPCs, but think twice before doing it. Now all criminal actions lead to punishment if you are caught. Special guards are on the lookout for criminals and you will have to be sneaky in order to avoid possible danger.
This new system also adds one more opportunity – you can become a “sheriff” called Enforcer, who patrols the city looking out for outlaws. The mechanics of this position is described in the end of the article.
The Justice System also brings with it a new skill line. It can be found in the “World” category and is levelled up when you commit crimes. All the abilities there have one clear goal: to increase your criminal power. These skills are a “must have”, if you wish to pursue the life of a criminal.
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.
Pickpocket -3Watch 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 or 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.
To pickpocket an NPC move up close to them while in stealth (includes Nigthblade Shadow Cloak). When you are facing the NPC you will be notified of the difficulty of pickpocketing this NPC as well as the percentage chance of success that you have.
The success chance fluctuates depending on the NPC’s movement and your position. If you are notice by the NPC the success chance will vanish and is replaced with “aware” indicating that the NPC is aware of your presence and you cannot attempt to pickpocket them. Pickpocketing in ESO
If you are successful at pickpocketing and no other NPC witnesses your crime you are free to continue with your life with your stolen goods. Often the goods that are stolen are random items which are not useful. These items can be sold to a Fence for gold. Fences are located in Outlaw Refuges which are located in most major cities. Occasionally you will steal a useful item which you can keep if you choose by getting a Fence to “launder” the item, for a gold fee of course.
If you are unsuccessful at pickpocketing then the NPC will detect you and you will accrue some Bounty. If a guard is nearby they will normally rush over and ask you to either pay your Bounty, costing gold, or flee in which case they, and other guards, will attack you. If there are no guards nearby the NPC will simply attack you. Killing the NPC will increase you Bounty if you are witnessed. It is possible to kill NPCs from stealth and providing no guards or other NPCs are close you will not accrue any Bounty.
It’s possible to assassinate most of the citizens in the game. After someone is killed by you, you can loot your victim’s corpse. You may find something valuable there. But killing NPCs is also a crime and if another NPC witnesses you killing someone, he will react.
Not all NPCs can be killed. For example the game will not let you to kill the king. But anyway there are a lot of other NPCs in the game.
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.
Bounty is a very important part of Justice System in ESO. If other NPC or a Guard witnesses your crime, the bounty on your character increases. The only way to avoid this is to make sure nobody can see you when you steal or murder. You can use the eye reticule in stealth mode for that.
The more bounty you have, the more suspicious you become for guards. There are 3 levels of bounty:
Disreputable – the lowest level. All guards will generally ignore you unless you approach them.
Notorious – You’ll be chased down by the guards, who enlist other guards to assist in the pursuit.
Fugitive – The highest level. Guards will always try to kill you. You need to wait until bounty goes down or you can try to find a way to “clean” your reputation.
If the guard catches you when bounty is low, you will have alternative: to pay money or to fight. If you select to pay, all stolen goods and items will be removed from your inventory. The amount of money you will be asked to pay depends on the bounty level. If you choose fighting, a guard will most likely kill you and will take all the goods you have stolen from your corpse.
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.
The Legerdemain skill line is solely dedicated to helping you successful steal, rob and be a overall bad a thief. The Improved Hiding passive is the only one that will help your character outside of the Justice System and offers a decent incentive for everyone to progress this skill line. The nice thing is, you can begin leveling and enjoying the system regardless of level. As soon as you see an NPC, try pick pocketing. In order to progress through the 10 ranks in Legerdemain, you’ll need to steal and sell goods. I’ll explain how to do this later through selling goods to Fences and Laundering items. Keep in mind, people CAN reach rank 10 within a week if you take every opportunity to level up. While some may spend months on it.
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