Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

ESO Pickpocketing Doesn’t Work Like You Think it Does

@Zells - sepia stone - smallHi, folks! I got a new job last year and blogging time evaporated. I doubt I will start posting regularly again, but I wanted to put up some information about pickpocketing – I’m hearing a lot of misconceptions about the mechanics of it.

First off, a definition: an “instanced” container can be opened by more than one person, and each person will get a random item. A backpack is an instanced container – if your party of 4 ppl finds a backpack, each one of you can loot it, and you’ll each get a separate, different thing.

This is in contrast to non-instanced containers, which can only be opened and looted by one person – overland treasure chests or harvest nodes are examples. If your party of 4 finds an ore deposit, only 1 of you gets to loot it, the other 3 can’t.

Now here’s the thing everyone misses: pickpocketable NPCs are instanced containers.

What do I mean by that?

For starters, people assume if an NPC is “Empty” that someone else has picked their pockets but not killed them, leaving them with Empty pockets – this is not true. If you find an NPC and their pockets are Empty, blame RNG, not the other players; you just got a bad draw. Just BoW them and let them respawn. If you have a bunch of Empty pockets in an area it still isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s like going into a delve and finding all the containers open. Zone out & come back.

Test it – have a friend pick an NPC’s pockets 3 times until they see “Empty”, then try it yourself. You’ll find the pockets still have items for you. No one else can take your pickpocketable items, the same way no one can steal a backpack loot from you.

That’s great, but it gets even better.

Once you’ve picked an NPC’s pockets one time, they are activated as a container for you. If you only take one thing and then BoW the NPC, you’ll only be able to loot one other (stolen) thing off the corpse – you’ll get 2 stolen loots.

BUT! If someone else not in your group kills the NPC, when you loot the body you will get BOTH the remaining 2 objects you could have pickpocketed. Every time.

So you can pickpocket with buddies, you just can’t be grouped. And it speeds things up b/c only one of you needs to wait for an NPC to stop being suspicious before that second pick; the other person(s) can just grab the first item and move on. You can switch back and forth and save a lot of time.

I swear to you this works. I’ve not only tested it, we’ve done guild events like this. It doesn’t work if you are grouped, in that case the party members will only get 1 item off the bodies.

This also means if you are pickpocketing in an area with competition, you don’t have to make both picks and BoW the NPC – your competition will be doing that for you. Just run ahead of the other thief and take 1 item from each NPC in the circuit. When you make your second loop around, clean the remaining 2 items off each corpse the other thief leaves behind. Again: I promise this is true. Go test it.

(And if you see someone doing this, there’s no need to all-cap and call them names or report them; they aren’t hurting you.)

One last note: in cases where the NPCs drop special items – like the House motif pages from Vvardenfell NPCs, or rare items like Skooma bubblers from Drunkards – those special items will only drop on the 3rd pull or very, very rarely from the second one. I’ve heard a bunch of people lately talking about “skipping” that second pick, b/c of the pause you have to make for the npc to stop being suspicious – they are picking the pocket once and then BoW’ing immediately… and then asking in chat why they aren’t getting the good drops. You have to make all 3 pulls to get the cool stuff.

Go test it all, and happy hunting!

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