I've been experimenting a fair bit with... let's call it, "reducing the chance of future spinal issues due to excess load" of various townsfolk. While engaging in this public-health improvement activity, I've noticed that while my pickpocket chances for most items are perfectly stable, anytime an NPC is carrying large amount of gold (over 1000), the rules for relieving them of their gold stash seem to become truly bizarre and unstable.


Target: Giraud Gemane, Solitude Bardic College
Gold: 1610

My stats:
Pickpocket: 100
Light Fingers: rank 2 (+40% bonus)
Cutpurse: Yes (+50% bonus)

Attempt 1: No gear
Displayed success chance: 15%

Attempt 2: Closed pickpocket window, reopened without changing anything or either character moving.
Displayed success chance: 65%

Attempt 3: Closed window, equipped Fine Boots enchanted with +40% pickpocket
Displayed success chance: 55%

Attempt 4: Closed window, reopened; still have boots equipped.
Displayed success chance: 5%

Attempt 5: Closed window, equipped Gloves enchanted with +40% pickpocket bonus.
Displayed success chance: 0%

From tinkering around a lot with different NPCs and gold amounts it feels like every time I open the pickpocket window, I will either get a "good" base pickpocket chance of 65% or a "bad" base pickpocket chance of 15%. From there, every pickpocket bonus item I equip actually reduces my chance of success by about 10%.

Again, this only appears to kick in for NPCs with over 1000-ish gold. Under that amount, I have a 90% success chance every single time regardless of equipment.

Can anyone offer an explanation for this behavior, or is this a bizarre bug of some kind?

  • You know how much weights 1000 septims?
    – M'vy
    Nov 15, 2011 at 11:00
  • 1
    The good vs. bad chance is the difference between you attempting this while seen/unseen by your mark. You say neither of you is moving, but he's swiveling his head around I'm sure, and theres a pulse of some sort as well. Nov 15, 2011 at 11:50
  • 1
    That strikes me as odd since I'm not "detected" (full closed-eye indicator for stealth) when trying this.
    – Cypren
    Nov 15, 2011 at 13:05
  • @M'vy — According to Skyrim, nothing at all! :-)
    – Ben Blank
    Nov 15, 2011 at 15:43
  • i also have the problem people saying its the light or whatever havent done this, it seems like a screw up in the formula, because after 1000 or so gold it gets buggy and u have to open and close the pickpocketing window to get a non zero percent number aswell as pickpocketing enchants making u less likely to steal the gold
    – user14511
    Nov 16, 2011 at 7:44

2 Answers 2


This is probably due to your stealth meter changing due to NPCs moving, or dynamics lights touching you or not. The closer you are to being detected the less likely you are to succeed.

  • 4
    I took care to watch the light and shadow, and the direction the NPC was looking. I don't think that was it, unfortunately. And even if it was, it would not explain why putting on pickpocket bonus items consistently reduces the chance to succeed.
    – Cypren
    Nov 16, 2011 at 4:44
  • Well, as with many RPG's there could be %chance of getting a good base roll. There is a perk that allows you to steal gold easily. If you get this perk and seem to get more stables results, then I would guess that 1000g is the limit for your thieving skill, where you get lower results more often than not regardless of equipment. The only way to test this would be to try it a lot, record the results then compare. I am currently beating the game. When I am done I will do some testing. When ModKit is realeased, we will probably get accurate formulas.
    – Jabalma
    Nov 16, 2011 at 5:36

This is a glitch and it's probably bugged. What you're wearing might do the opposite effect. Unequip the enchanted gear to see if the chances of taking gold are possible. If that doesn't work, place a paralyze potion or use Unrelenting Force on them, when theyare getting up, pickpocket them and you can take the gold even when it's a 0% chance.

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