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I am really missing the ability to sort my inventory by weight and value when deciding what to drop when I am overly encumbered and unable to run. I read a rule of thumb that said to drop anything where value is less than 10x weight. Are there any better methods or guidelines for maximizing the value of the loot I carry back to a merchant?

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Doubt it, I go by the 10x rule myself (I just figured it'd be best), but sometimes everything I have is over 10x, so I just drop the one with the lowest ratio, or the heaviest if there's a tie. –  Mr Smooth Nov 12 '11 at 17:07
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Modding the inventory menus to not suck is going to be popular when the Creation Kit comes out… –  SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '11 at 18:19
    
I always divide the weight by the cost to get the cost-per-unit ratio. Ditch the items with a low ratio in favor of those with a higher ratio. This is really only helpful in the beginning of the game, though, because once you learn the banish enchantment, your money problems are over for the rest of the game. –  oscilatingcretin Dec 15 '13 at 5:20

8 Answers 8

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Well, lacking a precise formula (even though there certainly is one, the problem can be nailed down mathematically since the only variables are the weight of items, the value of items, and the total amount that you can carry), all I can do is give you some tips:

  • If you don't want to invest perk points in armor trees, get light armor. In the end game, light armor will give you the same protection as heavy armor does, but it is... well.. lighter. Source: http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Skyrim:_Armor
  • Get rid of dragon bones! Although selling them might be a bad idea, since you can craft dragon bone armor if you get deep into the smithing skill tree.
  • Stay away from 2H weapons. They are among the most heavy objects in the game, while usually not having a very high value.
  • Store your books somewhere! At least I picked up every book that I could find, promising myself to read them one day. But carrying around 50 or so books (there are a lot in Skyrim!) takes up at least a good fifth or your carrying capacity - for little to no value. Get a house and put them in a box!
  • Search for gems and soulstones! They weigh almost nothing and are usually decently valuable.
  • The same goes for enchanted necklaces, rings, and robes. All of them are ridiculously light compared to their value.

These are the ones that come to mind right now.

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True, light armor is lighter, but both light and heavy armor have perks that negate the weight of armor worn - Unhindered and Conditioning, respectively. –  Tom Grochowicz Nov 13 '11 at 18:00
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Investing in a home as early as possible is vital for being able to leave your heavy collections (dragon bones/scales, books, etc.) somewhere safe. –  Ben Blank Nov 13 '11 at 19:22
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This problem is actually the well-known knapsack problem: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapsack_problem. However, I don't think Skyrim comes with a built-in knapsack problem solver. ;) –  Piitaa Nov 13 '11 at 19:31
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Until an algorithm fetishist mods one in... –  Andy_Vulhop Dec 1 '11 at 15:18
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@heishe There is a online compilation of all the skyrim books. Try googling it, i have it on my Kindle, and i read it daily, but all the books,as they are ingame, are just a short chapter or so of an entire book. –  Marcello Grechi Lins Dec 28 '11 at 12:52

Also, for anyone travelling short distances while overencumbered,e.g. to a house or a chest, you move faster with your bow drawn. This can be further increased with the archery perk that increases your speed with an arrow drawn.

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Well, I sneak around a lot in Boethiah's Ebony Mail, and I also have the Lightfoot perk (I power-levelled Sneak by sneak-attacking my own zombies to death... and yes, I shouted, "Get up so I can kill you again," at them in real life). My followers only ever get me spotted or trigger traps that I try to steer them around (watch "Lydia vs. Gate" on YouTube if you haven't seen it yet - there needs to be an "avoid that" command). I also don't fast travel because the game is so beautiful and I love to take in the views as I pick my way over mountains, and I usually try to do like four missions at once after letting them pile up for a bit while I wander around looking for work. So that's how I enjoy playing, and this is the looting system I've developed for it:

1. First thing I did after becoming Thane of Whiterun was to take a carriage to Solitude (I played the first 13 levels twice at two different friends' places when I didn't have the game yet, so I didn't count this against my "don't fast travel" rule) and nab the Steed Stone. Weightless armor and 100 extra carry weight is win. The Thieves' Guild gives you armor with an additional 20 carry weight, too, if you're into light armor.

2. Keep all your crafting stuff at home. If you don't have a home, buy materials and then craft on the spot and sell your stuff right away. The first thing you should notice when you do this is that those iron daggers are worth less than the materials used to make them - which leads us to our next point...

3. Once you're past level 10, shift to a 25:1 loot threshold. Honestly, you're not going to miss those banded iron greaves. You're a busy Dovahkiin, you have places to do and things to shout at, and there will be plenty of magical items on the way. The vendors have limited gold, so it's not like you can sell them the whole dungeon anyway. When you're 20, shift to 50:1. At 30, 100:1. You eventually come back to town with pockets full of enchanted staves, expensive jewelry, and precious gems. I bankrupt every town I visit and store the excess at home for enchanting practice, then visit the magic vendors and bankrupt them. And in order to do this intelligently...

4. Have a sales route. I stop by the alchemist first, because s/he only buys potions. If s/he has money leftover, I sell my dragon parts (if I have any). Then I visit the magic vendor and sell my staves and enchanted weapons. Then I go to the smith and sell the rest of my enchanted weapons. Then I go to the general store and sell everything else. Sell your mundane weapons last, if you plan on practicing enchanting (iron daggers of zombie-scaring are the best markup I've found). Stash the rest at home. And speaking of which...

5. Organize your house! Have a chest for each type of crafting, as well as the trophies you don't have room to display and the loot you haven't been able to sell yet. This makes it so much easier to get your "chores" done when it's time to work. Also, it helps you RP when you remember what came from where, and here's a little story to prove it (no spoilers, promise). I married the person who turned me into a werewolf, and I proposed with a pair of gold rings made from a gold ingot I lifted during our first hunt together. It had been months, but I knew it was the gold ingot because I am freaking organized and I kept track of where I put it. Better RP through personal organization!

6. Finally, what brings it all together: don't loot for looting's sake, quest for money's sake! I have more money than I know what to do with, enough to buy and fully decorate at least three more houses, and I've been gunning for these places ever since I finished my initial power-levelling push (grinding smithing, taking weapon perks, then doing whatever the Hell I like). I can't sell my loot fast enough, and I can't spend my money hard enough, because I can make stuff better than I can buy and nobody can buy everything I have to sell. So I guess that's the optimum looting strategy, if you ask me: do your quests out in the world, and only pause when you're so full of high-efficiency loot that you can't carry any more. You'll be rolling in riches in no time.

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It pains me to leave something behind in a cave or dungeon after hours of battle and scavanging for treasure, rare ingredients, weapons etc... but, where there's a will, you will find a way! Here are some handy tips for the hoarding junkies like me:

PS... none of these tips are spoilers, they will simply make your Skyrim experience that much more enjoyable or less frustrating (depending on whether you're a glass half-full or half-empty type :-) )

  1. Most importantly, Get yourself a follower. I've used Faendel and Lydia and they're rather useful mules who can carry as much as you, but DON'T let them die! To prevent them from dying, equip them with the best weapons, armour, enchanted items and give them some restoration and fortification potions, which they will use in one of those long, tough battles where enemies are relentless. Make sure you use your 'courage' spell to help them recover if they're knocked down. Always save your game before getting into a chaotic battle... too many times I've stumbled over the body of my faithful follower after a serious confrontation... but at least I could start again! F5 (quicksave) and F9 (quickload) are a Skyrimmer's best friends!

  2. Get your Follower to pick items up... If you want your follower to be able to carry AN ENDLESS amount of items, without worrying about weight and without using a cheat (I don't use cheats as it defeats the object of the game), simply drop whatever item you want them to carry and instruct them to pick it up using the 'talk' menu and selecting 'There's something I want you to do for me'... If your follower isn't over encumbered, just use the 'I want to trade something with you' selection to move items from your inventory into theirs.

  3. Potion of Strength - Find or create a few bottles of this potion which will fortify your strength (load carrying capacity) usually for about 300 seconds. In a dungeon or cave, drop all your heavy items somewhere that has been cleared of creatures. Keep growing the pile through the quest. When completed, go and pick up all the items you dropped and knock back a Potion of Strength... This will give you plenty of time to hightail it out of the cave back to Skyrim... but if you're on foot, this won't be enough to get you back to a village to sell your items. If on foot, and your potion is still effective, you can fast travel back to your house or a village to sell your wares. But there's a better, more reliable solution, particularly if you don't want to leave the area just yet..

  4. Buy a horse... this is a MUST for any Skyrim Hoarder. Even when you're over encumbered, you can travel at normal speeds and even fast travel when on horseback!... Good ol' "Trigger"! My horse is my fortune so I keep it alive at any cost... you should too because it will make you richer, faster!

  5. Buy a house... As mentioned in previous posts, you need a house to safely store the many goodies you will collect on your journey's through Skyrim... because you never know when you might need them (typical hoarder comment :-))! I've done all the upgrades on my home in Whiterun, which gives me plenty of cupboards, side cupboards, chests, sacs, satchels etc to store my goodies in.

  6. Enchanted items... Find or create items enchanted with strength magic. This is the fasted way to increase your stamina points so that you can carry more than your skill level allows. My Elven Boots of Strength give me an extra 35 points of carrying capacity. I even have an amulet, helmet and ring with strength enchantments, allowing me to carry more items earlier in the game. The more you collect, the more you can sell and the sooner you can buy a house, horse and dog (PS... buy a dog from Markuth)

  7. Lightweight armour & weapons... Elven armour and weapons ROCK! Most items weight between 1 and 4 points while providing you with ample damage and block capability. Put an enchantment on them and you're unstoppable! I acquired most of these items on side missions long before levelling up to 20.

  8. Plan what you need to carry... before taking on a quest or side mission, think about what kind of equipment, weapons, apparel, ingredients etc you will need. If you need magic, then you don't need to carry all your ingredients with you, so put them into a chest in your house until you want to do something that relates to Alchemy. Do the same with other items like ore and ingots, dragon bones & scales, chitin etc, which you will only need when Smithing (they weight A LOT)... and don't carry EVERY potion you've created. Only carry the potions you use. I never use potions that fortify or restore stamina, so I either store them or more often, I just sell them for some extra 'coin'!

I'm sure there are many other things you can do as such is the wonderful, exciting adventure of Skyrim.

I hope you find some of these tips useful. Happy hunting!

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Nice first answer! –  victoriah Dec 28 '11 at 15:16
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Tx Victoria... even I was impressed because when it comes to Skyrim, I have faaar more questions than answers, which is what makes this game so epic. –  WildeKnight Dec 29 '11 at 17:09

For the PC gamer who doesn't mind installing mods, the SkyUI mod brings to Skyrim the ability to sort by Weight and/or Value.

From the mod's page:

• Sortable columns to order items by a specific stat. Multi-state columns to sort by value/weight ratio, and to quickly quickly single out equipped, stolen, enchanted or poisoned items.

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Well you actually don't want to sort by weight.

The important thing is the weight to value ratio.

I'd say that anything less than 1:10 isn't worth it.

So you only take loot that has gold value of 10 per every weight. For example, if something weighs 37 it should be valued at at least 370.

This generally fills your capacity by end of the dungeon, and if there is more then it's easy to start dropping things that are only 1:10, if for example you get stuff that is 1:13 or 1:15.

The only thing you need is extremely basic math. Just load up on stuff that's 1:10 and start dropping things based on ratio as you fill up.

I don't understand what is at all difficult about this unless you can't calculate that for example a silver sword that weighs 7 and costs 100 is more valuable than gauntlets that weigh 2 and cost 25..

If you really don't want to possibly drop something good then just take everything and start dropping based on ratio..

If you can't figure out the ratios...then nothing can help you but a calculator.

Optimizing loot simply means taking the stuff with best ratio, I don't understand what could possibly be at all challenging about this.

There is a formula. Profit = x. Weight of loot = w. Value = v.

X = V divided by W. I.e. Weight 3 and value 300. X = 100. And if weight = 25 and value = 50 then x = 2.

Your goal is to make X higher...the math is simple.

And if you need to be told not to carry everything you've ever looted with you (ie dragon scales and books)...you are hopeless.

That being said, I do KEEP all this stuff...that's what a house is for. (and dragon parts are used in crafting some of the best armor in the game)

note: the inventory is fine if you have any ability at extremely basic math. I guess this is a problem for a lot of people though..lol. I have no trouble finding anything or choosing what to keep. And after a while into first play through you should instantly know when looking through a corpse which items are worth taking without even looking at values, solely from memory. I.e. Storm cloaks: take shield, arrows, hide armor and hide gauntlets, and scaled helmet. Done in 3 seconds. These all have value of 1:10 or greater. Eventually against say silver hands, you pretty much only take the silver swords at 7:100. So on and so forth.

I almost always just barely max out inventor by the end of the dungeon with this simple method, essentially guaranteeing I always get the most possible profit every time.

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Your answer would be improved by editing out all of the condescending language: "you actually don't want to" "nothing can help you" "you are hopeless" "I don't understand what could possibly be at all challenging". –  Pat James Nov 28 '11 at 17:26

Additionally, and this could be considered a exploit so puritans aren't going to want to use it, you can dump all of your items either on the ground or in a chest, then tell your follower to pick them up or empty the chest. In this way your follower can carry literally anything, I've taken as much as 2000 pounds off mine, once I've reached my home. Your follower can't become encumbered, so you and she will be just as fast as if she were carrying nothing.

Be warned, if you do this, everything your follower has picked up will be marked as stolen! Even if you tell her to empty out a chest of things that you just crafted, in your own house, that no one else has ever touched. So you won't be able to sell them to non-fences, and they'll all be taken if you let yourself get arrested.

Another somewhat inventory related phenomenon I found is that if you give your follower a soul trap weapon and 100 soul gems, killing one petty soul will fill all the gems in her inventory. Definitely a bug, but an interesting one. Corollarily, if you give her grand soul gems but let her kill a petty soul will a soul trap weapon, they'll all be filled with petty souls, so watch out.

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Although it's more 'expanding' rather than 'optimizing', the one biggest thing you can do to maximize the loot you can carry, is to get a follower.

You can access their inventory through a dialogue option, effectively doubling your carrying capacity.

Also:

  • Increasing your stamina at level up also increases carrying capacity by 5.
  • With alchemy you can create Potions of Strength to temporarily increase capacity if you're in a bind.
  • Arrows do not weigh anything. Although the basic ones (I think with damage 8 or below) sell for 0, anything above that is free gold for zero weight.
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Additionally, you can expand your carrying capacity by 100 with the Extra Pockets perk (requires Pickpocket 50 and the Light Fingers perk). –  Ben Blank Nov 13 '11 at 19:24

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