The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion is an amazing and massive game. Between combat, conversation, and leg work there's something to do for just about everyone; and furthermore no wrong way to play the game. However, there are certain techniques and methods of gameplay that are more efficient than others. In order to figure out your perfect balance of gameplay it's important to have the right tools, and the best kinds to have are enchanted. For those of you who don't know, enchanted items are weapon or clothing imbued with some sort of magical effect.
These effects can be seen on the menu screen when the item is highlighted. The most powerful enchanted items are found as random loot in chests located in dungeons. However, you can also make enchanted items by using enchanting alters located in the Chironasium at the arcane university. Unfortunately though, the university is restricted to people who have earned entry. In order to gain access to the university you first must join the mages guild, and then complete a recommendation quest at each of the guild halls located in the seven major cities strewn across Cyrodill. Only after running errands for each guild hall will you be allowed to freely come and go from the arcane university. Once you gain access to Cyrodill's seat of magic you can enchant weapons, armour, and clothing in the Chironasium as you see fit; but you'll also need a few materieals. The first most obvious thing you'll need is something to enchant. It's important to realise you can't add enchantments to items that are already enchanted.
You can only place normal non-magical items on an alter. Second you'll need to know a spell with the effect you want to place on the item. You don't even need the proficiency to cast the spell, you just need to have learned it, and have it under the spells tab of the menu. Each guild hall teaches a different kind of magic, and there are always two separate vendors to each hall for weak and powerful spells. A quick summary for what each guild hall teaches is as follows; Cheydinhal teaches alteration, Chorrol teaches conjuration, Anvil restoration, Skingrad destruction, Bravil Illusion, and Leyawiin teaches Mysticism. Third you'll need gold.
How much is dependant on how powerful the enchantment is, and the strength of the enchantment is dependant on the next thing you need. Number four, a filled soul gem. If you don't know soul gems are, just as the name implies, gems that you fill with the souls of fallen enemies.
There are six types of soul gems in the game. In order of size from least to greatest they are petty, lesser, common, greater, grand, and black. Each creature in the game has a different sized soul, starting with mudcrabs who have petty souls, and ending with human beings who's souls can only fit in black soul gems. The size of the soul is what determines the power of the enchantment you place on an item. Soul gems can be purchased from mages guild vendors, and found in random loot caches in dungeons, with higher capacity gems only appearing when you've reached higher levels. In addition black soul gems can only be created from empty grand soul gems through a dark ritual, which is discovered during the mages guild quest line. As for how to fill soul gems you only need to have them in your inventory, then cast a soultrap spell on your enemy and kill them while it is still active. When you do this the enemy's soul will automatically fill the smallest empty gem it can fit in.
Something else worth mentioning is only one soul can fit in each gem, so you can't do something like capture multiple petty souls in a grand soul gem. Also a quick note, soul trap spells are categorised as mysticism magic so they are taught at the Leyawiin mages guild hall. The simplest soultrap spell also requires a level 25 or higher mysticism skill.
You'll likely have to learn a simpler spell and cast it over and over to raise your proficiency before you can soultrap. Those are the four things you need for enchanting; a plain non-magical item to enchant, adequate gold, a filled soul gem, and a spell with the effect you want. With all of these things you need only activate an altar, choose an item, soul gem, spell effect, name the item, and confirm the action. By utilizing this system, you can make the game significantly easier. You can create armour that's magically shielded, clothing to enhance your magic skills, weapons with elemental damage, jewellery to enhance your barter skill, the list goes on. I have one final trailing note about enchanting though. There is one additional place with an enchanting alter you can use.
Frostcraig Spire also know as the wizards tower add on, is DLC available to xbox 360, and pc gamers. This tower has an enchanting alter you can make use of without needing approval from the mages guild. You first have to purchase magetallow candles for the alter to work though. Simply put this is a much easier, and faster method of gaining access to enchanting. Just keep in mind the mages tower isn't included on any oblivion game disc, and isn't available on the Playstation 3 at all. Frostcraig Spire is, as the term DLC implies, downloadable only. By far enchanting is the most beneficial thing that can be done in oblivion which no one has to do. Even though it's a pricey activity, and be a bit difficult to understand at first, it should never be overlooked. If you didn't know about enchanting, or didn't understand how enchanting worked, hopefully now you have a firm grasp on the subject. Just remember to put what you've learned to good use, the next time you play The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion.