Skyrim Tips and Tricks » Discussions

The Gold Route: Over 6k gold with no skills trained

  • January 24, 2016

    Greetings console players and fans of "legit" (no console cheats etc.) playthroughs on PC!  Have you ever tried playing a mage, only to find that the early cost of spell tomes is so prohibitive as to restrict you to a single type of magic for quite some time?  Have you ever wanted to get your hands on a couple hundred empty petty soul gems for a build with Enchanting, but want to stay level 1 in order to get the maximum merchant stock?  Have you ever wanted to 'skip the pleasantries' and get right to owning a certain house?  Regrettably, earning gold is normally really boring and/or has the unfortunate side-effect of gaining several levels from noncombat skills.  Or, you just have to suck it up and be poor until you can scrape together enough dungeon loot to get what you wanted to have before you even started your journey.

    So This Gold Route, What Is It?

    When I was stuck playing on console, I wanted to make a character who started in the wilderness with a certain kit of items, then built her own Hearthfire homestead from scratch.  I wanted to make as little impact on the game world as possible leading up to this point, and have a fresh level 1 character with no skills advanced.  So, I came up with a quick and easy way to earn the gold and deal with the prerequisite bandits, which I've come to call the Gold Route.  It's now served me well across multiple playthroughs, including modded PC gameplay.

    Why Do It This Way?

    Not only does the Gold Route touch as few locations and scripted events as possible, only completing two minor quests, it can also be completed in under half an hour!  Considering the benefits, this isn't much time to invest in getting a new character started out right.  And, since no skills need to be trained during the entire process, no guilds need to be joined (Dawnguard optional, see below), and no permanent choices need to be made other than picking Faendal over Sven (although you could, in theory, go the other way, Faendal is much better with a crossbow), you can do it on any character and story without future penalty.

    Also, if you plan to make heavy use of NPC training, keep in mind that getting the perfect 5-per-level requires careful planning and an early windfall.  Aside from the odd Smithing levelup from making nails, you won't be gaining any levels at all building a homestead and filling its garden and greenhouse with wheat, and then you get regular harvests of a crop you can trade directly for gold, without leveling Speech or relying on Fortify Barter to turn a profit!  This can help pay for training sessions and more.

    Well Then, Let's Get to It!

    For the purposes of this guide, I will assume you are starting in Helgen and just narrowly escaped beheading owing to some rather convenient Deus Ex Alduin.  If you're using an alternate start on PC, you can just gather a small amount of gold and skip to the Riverwood portion of our little journey.

    Helgen in a Hurry, aka Alternate Start Mod for Console Peasants

    When you get control of your character, sprint your way through the chaos, making a beeline for Hadvar's door (it's faster to go through this way).  Once inside, don't even bother with equipment you don't need.  Just pick up what you want to take with you, and any loose gold you can get to quickly and easily.  Set your difficulty to Novice and just open the gates yourself, punching your way through fights you can't skip.  Advanced unarmed combat works really well here.

    Protip: You can loot the dead mage through the cell door without opening it, if you don't want to train Lockpicking at all or are just in a hurry.  You'll miss out on Sparks this way, though.

    Ideally, you'll want to collect whatever weapon and armor types you'd like to start play with, but nothing in here is all that great anyway.  Most important is grabbing at least a few gold pouches, but certainly as much gold as possible.  You'll be doing quite a bit of carriage riding soon...

    Riverwood, Love Triangles, and an Easy Roadie

    Once you exit the Helgen cave, sprint straight toward Riverwood, carefully dropping right down the side of the mountain.  Your goal is to end up on the ground right next to the village, in order to avoid any unfortunate incidents with wolves to the west.  Walk right up to Sven and skip his dialogue to get a letter for Camilla, then interrupt her argument with Lucan to tell her the truth immediately.  Check Faendal's location with the quest marker and go grab your roadie/bodyguard and an extra 25 gold.  Head across the river and up the dirt path leading to Bleak Falls, but take a right just before the bend (and the wolf) and hug around the east side of the little rocky peak.  Drop down and make your way straight toward or around the Pelagius Farm, and be sure to grab a fast travel marker for it and/or Whiterun Stables.  Ride the carriage to Solitude.

    Who's A Good Doggy

    Once at Solitude, head downhill straight for the sawmill, grabbing the farm fast travel point along the way.  Once at the mill, swim for the small island just to the southwest and then straight over to the rocks on the other side of the river.  This path will let you avoid any "incidents" with nasty mudcrabs or slaughterfish!  Head straight toward Meeko's shack and then straight south from there to find Meeko himself on the road.  Follow him back to the shack and acquire your free guard dog.  These two will handle all the combat in your near future, and Meeko is really fun to start the game with if you're role-playing a character who walked to Skyrim from another province with man's best friend and hunting companion.  If you want the Apprentice Stone for a neophyte mage character, head northward and snag it, being careful not to get eaten by spiders along the way.  Once you're done either way, fast travel back to Katla's Farm and take the carriage to Riften.

    Joining Mooching off the Dawnguard

    If you don't have the Dawnguard DLC, skip this header and proceed to Blessings of Commerce.  Also, shame on you.

    Head around the east side of Riften, hugging the city wall in order to avoid any problems with an NPC encounter zone in the nearby forest.  Take the road coming from the dilapidated east city gate all the way to Dayspring Canyon.  Ignore the annoying farmer and just go talk to the orc shooting a crossbow.  Ask him about the weapon for a free Faendal damage upgrade!  With the crossbow tucked away on a follower, you can go talk to Isran to get a second free crossbow if you want, as well as collecting a great deal of items inside the fort itself.  The Dawnguard war axe, warhammer, and armor are all superior to most of what you'll find at this point in the game.  Once you're done here, just fast travel right back to the Riften stables.

    Blessings of Commerce

    Every character can benefit from a little kinder economy.  If you take the road north of Riften, past all the guard towers, you'll see a dirt path split off to the right before you reach Fort Greenwall.  To the right of this road, there's a very well-concealed path leading up the hill to a shrine of Zenithar, guarded by a big angry spider.  Save your game and let Meeko and Faendal take care of it for you.  If they both go down, lure it back toward Riften and the guards will take care of everything.  Once the spider is vanquished, head up to the shrine for free gold and an Amulet of Zenithar, very useful for every character.  Fast travel back to Riften Stables and take the carriage to Markarth.

    Protip: There's a sample of scaly pholiota on one of the trees right where the dirt path begins.  Be sure to grab it if you are going to be a Hearthfire alchemist!

    Second Protip: Ebonslayer pointed out Lost Prospect Mine a bit to the east-southeast of the shrine.  With a bit of skill at jumping, you can very quickly reach three gold ore veins in here, which will net you a sweet 450 gold in just a few minutes!  You can get there without any hostile encounters, so if you need the extra gold, go for it!

    A "Slight" Forsworn Problem

    From the Markarth Stables, head east and then turn to the north before crossing the river.  Keep traveling down the road until you can see a direct line to a bridge next to a small house.  SAVE YOUR GAME and make sure Meeko and Faendal are right behind you.  There are three Forsworn guarding this location, and they're tough opponents.  Let Meeko run on ahead and distract them while Faendal hopefully takes them out from afar.  Your followers will usually handle it, but if you're unlucky it may take a few tries.  Be sure to loot a pair of Forsworn melee weapons and give them to Faendal.  Head down the dirt path to Kolskeggr Mine, which is situated on the hill just above the house.

    Kolskeggr has been overrun by Forsworn.  There are five in total, the final being a Briarheart.  If Faendal has a crossbow, there should be no problems taking them out as long as you keep to fighting one or two at a time.  If you are having difficulties, it may be necessary to get a hireling, such as Vorstag in Markarth, for 500 gold.  Hirelings are a minimum level of 10 compared to Faendal at 6.  You could also get the Conjure Flame Atronach spell at the College of Winterhold for 30 gold; it provides so little Conjuration XP that you can cast it quite a few times without leveling Conjuration up.

    Once Kolskeggr is clear, mine all the gold ore (51 in total) and pick up the 3 gold ore on a table at the upper level, near the Briarheart.  Head back down the road toward Markarth, but this time head south down the bridge leading to Left Hand Mine.

    As you approach, Pavo Attius will be conversing with the mine's owners about the Forsworn that have overrun Kolskeggr.  Interrupt him immediately to get a quest to clear the mine, then let him know it's taken care of, then sell all that gold ore to him.  Hooray, 3200 gold!  His orc friend will tell you that he's sending word to orc strongholds to let you in, so it's time to take advantage of that.  Fast travel back to Markarth Stables and take a carriage to Windhelm.

    Protip: You can also clear out Halted Stream Camp before visiting for a similar amount of iron ore along with the Transmute spell, but this takes quite a bit of time to process all the ore into gold and requires you to level Alteration a bit.  Still, if you aren't in a hurry, need an extra few thousand septims, and/or you plan to transmute later anyway, it's a great option!

    What It Lacks in Coziness It Makes Up in Profit

    Head north a bit to get the Windhelm Stables fast travel point, then take the road leading south into the mountains.  At the first fork, turn left to pass through Kynsegrove.

    Protip: If you're going to be a Hearthfire alchemist, be sure to grab a creep cluster sample off the road here!  Also, if you're going to be a conjurer, head south from Kynesgrove to grab a free ice wolf pelt from Steamcrag Camp.  The giant should leave you alone as long as you don't get too close to him.

    The mine here at Kynsegrove isn't a very profitable time investment, so just keep heading up the hill until you reach a dragon burial mound.  From the mound, go due east until you spot a path heading to Narzulbur, an orc stronghold.  In the back of this stronghold, across a wooden bridge, is Skyrim's largest ebony mine, and also the most profitable mining opportunity in the entire province.  There are no fewer than 16 ebony veins inside, as well as a few iron ore veins you will need to collect from if you are making a Hearthfire house in the near future.  Be careful inside the mine, as wavy air indicates lethal gas pockets that will erupt if you hold out a torch or a fire spell.  Also, at the blacksmithing forge outside the mine, there is a single unowned (non-theft) ebony ore sitting in a bucket.  Dushnamub is usually working at or near the forge during the day, and you can turn in your 49 ebony ore for a nice 2940 gold!  Fast travel back to Windhelm Stables and get ready to finish up and enjoy the rest of your playthrough.

    Protip: You can complete the Windhelm quest "Blood on the Ice" when you come back to Windhelm, if you enter the city at the right time of night.  The Necromancer Amulet is a truly powerful item for a new wizard to get their hands on.

    Wrapping Up

    If you have any additional, badly needed combat situations to deal with before you "really really start" playing your character, now is the time to do that!  For example, I often used these two to beat up some unlucky bandits for Jarl Siddgeir, and in another playthrough I grabbed a silver greatsword from Driftshade Refuge and let Stenvar kill Movarth and earn me a deed to Windstad instead of Lakeview.  Before dismissing Faendal, you can use him for free Archery training.  When 5/5 training isn't enough to gain a new level, you can walk against a corner somewhere to train Sneak, or grind some other skill you'll be using in your playthrough.  Be sure to take Faendal and Meeko home before dismissing them, if you want to make sure they don't get killed walking back there.

    Now you have over 6000 gold and are ready to spend it on whatever suits you!  Some good suggestions are 200 petty soul gems if you're going to train Enchanting, a Hearthfire homestead if you're going to train Alchemy, or every spellbook ever if you just want to go around casting spells all day.  Or you could just build a home so you can adopt Sofie and Lucia sooner. <3

    If you have any suggestions for extras to add in, let me know!  Keep in mind I like to keep it fast and streamlined, though.

  • January 27, 2016

    This is a great write up.  The most valuable piece for me is the ice wolf pelt at Steamcrag Camp, there are no wiki's out there that list guaranteed places to find this item.  Here I am reading this for my new cryomancer character to get gold without leveling unnecessary skills and find a way to get the frost atronach tome a level one to boot!  Thanks Librari

  • January 27, 2016

    There is also a guaranteed sample or two of ice wolf pelt just outside Ancestor Glade, near Angi's Camp, if you have Dawnguard!  And there's an unmarked location Forsworn camp somewhere up in the northern part of The Reach with one.  Steamcrag is by far the easiest and safest to get to, though.  You only have a few animal spawn points along the way, so it's easy to handle.

    You can get the frost salt from Calixto's house after you kill him.  If you're making a conjurer you probably already want the Necromancer Amulet, and since he's dead you won't get hired thugs sent after you for the "theft".  Frost mirriam is all over the place (including Helgen), and ruined books are so easy to find in Skyrim!  In particular, you can easily pick up a couple while getting a silver weapon at Driftshade Refuge (Mason's Sorcerer), or from Saarthal.

    If you're going for the powerful level 1 conjurer, I should tell you it's possible to craft and cast a storm atronach spell at level 1, too.  It's part of the build I'm making, but I haven't written it up yet!  Get a mammoth tusk from Halted Stream Camp or steal it from the Arcaneum.  Deathbell grows near Meeko's shack, so you can grab some there.  Alternatively, there are some in the Hall of Countenance (might have to be stolen, can't recall).  And finally, void salts are so laughably easy to find in the college! (Hint: Look in your own dorm room.) With the Necromancer Amulet, Novice Hood, and Blessing of Julianos (Solitude/Fort Amol), you will have 205 magicka, and the amulet w/ 25 Conjuration (#bretonmasterrace) reduces Stormy's cost to just under that!

    With all three atronachs at level 1, you have so many options for how to handle hostile encounters.  Frosty actually seems better than Stormy in a lot of cases, but boy does that thing drain enemy mages of their magicka fast.

    Keep in mind that the flame atronach has the lowest Conjuration XP rewarded per summon out of all of the summons.  Yes, that includes the familiar.  If you're trying to avoid leveling up so you can get the maximum 5/5 training per level or something, a little flame turret goes a long way...

  • Member
    January 27, 2016
    East of Riften you can find the abandoned mine and if you check behind the waterfall you will find gold ore. If you go north of Whiterun you will find the Halted Stream Camp and inside you will find lots of iron ore and the transmute mineral ore spell time which will turn iron into silver and silver into gold.
  • January 27, 2016

    I usually save Halted Stream camp for when I actually need iron for Hearthfire... you can't build a house out of gold ingots.  Plus it takes a long time to clear the mine and transmute all that ore, and I found it was faster (speedrun-style) to just use Gloombound Mine for the extra few thousand.

  • February 8, 2016

    I just hit up that cave while testing out some detours related to mastering Conjuration, and wowser!  That cave takes a lot less time than I thought.  I'll be sure to add a note about it in the guide, for those who need that extra bit of coin.

  • Member
    February 8, 2016
    For those that want to level smithing you can change the gold ore into ingots and make some rings. They offer more experience than iron daggers and can sell for a lot more.
  • February 8, 2016

    That's good smithing advice, but this guide isn't about training skills, silly

  • Member
    February 16, 2016

    About the advanced unarmed thing, do you know if it works with USKP/USLEEP? I tried it a couple of times but never really managed to get it right.

  • February 17, 2016

    I just went in game and got a quadruple hit on my first attempt, 229 active plugins including USLEEP.  Then I got brutally murdered by the heavily armed ghost and his heavily armed friend, but yeah!  It works fine.  Have you tried it with no mods installed?