Crime in The Elder Scrolls Online introduces a new mechanic called Heat. Heat determines how guards react towards the Vestige and how quickly their bounty meter cools off. Heat has three levels: Disreputable, where the guards will only stop the Vestige if they are too close, Notorious where they will actively look for them and accost them on sight, and Fugitive where they will kill them on sight. The Vestige's heat level is determined by the severity of the crime they commit and will only cool off if they manage to hide from the guards or escape into an Outlaw Refuge.
Types of CrimeEdit
Crimes are divided into two categories: Petty Crimes, such as thieving and pickpocketing, and Major Crimes, such as murder and assault. Major Crimes will give the Vestige a higher bounty and heat level while Petty Crimes will give them a lower bounty and heat level.
If the Vestige is caught committing a crime, the heat meter increases. The meter reaches certain levels based on the crime. The higher the infamy, the more aggressive and severe the law will be.
Upstanding is the default heat infamy level. At this level, no bounty is currently in place and the Vestige does not have any potential crimes being held against them.
Disreputable is the level reached when a petty crime has been committed. Guards will only try to arrest the Vestige and use no violent force.
Notorious is the level reached when a major crime has been committed. Guards will be on high alert searching for the Vestige, and their social status is in an outcast position as some NPCs will refuse to exchange dialogue.
Fugitive is the level reached when a major crime has been committed and the Vestige has resisted arrest or has a very high bounty. Guards will attempt to kill them on sight.
If the Vestige has a bounty on their head and guard catches them, they will place them under arrest and ask them to pay their bounty. They have the option of paying their bounty or resisting arrest and fleeing the guard, which will instantly mark them as kill-on-sight to the guards.
If the Vestige does not manage to escape from the guard, they will kill them, take the respective amount of gold off their body and pay their bounty with it. If the Vestige's bounty is higher than their gold balance, all of their gold will be taken and they will be left with no gold at all.
Outlaw Refuges, Fences and SmugglingEdit
Each major city has an outlaw refuge with two entrances: one on the inside and one on the outside. Outlaw Refuges are also a way to enter and exit cities undetected, sell stolen goods, and unmark goods as stolen, allowing the Vestige to keep them and use them without consequence. The Vestige can also pay their bounty at a fence without the consequence of losing their stolen goods. This means the Vestige can sell their stolen goods and use them to pay their bounty. However, the Vestige can only sell a certain number of items to a fence per day. This amount can be increased through the Legerdemain skill line.
Every Outlaw Refuge has at least one fence, guild store and a bank. There are also various NPCs which can be engaged with in conversation. The Refuges are also a place for other criminal players to socialize and plot heists and other such types of organized crime.
All stolen goods have a set price based on their rarity:
- Common (White) Items - 40 Gold
- Fine (Green) Items - 100 Gold
- Superior (Blue) Items - 250 Gold
- Epic (Purple) Items - 1500 Gold
A skill line dedicated to criminal activities has been introduced: Legerdemain. It contains skills beneficial to sneaking, smuggling and trespassing and is composed entirely of passives.
- Improved Hiding (I, II, III) - Reduces the Stamina cost of Sneaking by 10%, 20% and 30% per ability rank.
- Light Fingers (I, II, III, IV) - Increases your chance of successfully pickpocketing by 10%, 20%, 35% and 50% per ability rank.
- Trafficker (I, II, III, IV) - Increases the amount of Fence interactions you can use each day by 120%, 140%, 160% and 180% per ability rank.
- Locksmith (I, II, III, IV) - Increases your chance of successfully picking a lock by 10%, 25%, 45% and 70% per ability rank.
- Kickback (I, II, III, IV) - Reduces the amount of gold you willingly pay to guards and fences by 10%, 20%, 30% and 40% per ability rank.
- Crime originally was not a part of The Elder Scrolls Online, but after much fan outcry it was officially revealed at QuakeCon 2014 and implemented in the game's sixth update.
- It was initially planned in a future update that players would be able to become guards and hunt down criminals. However, Matt Firor later stated that this mechanic had been scrapped as they didn't want PvP aspects in otherwise safe PvP zones.<red name=YearAhead2016>[www.elderscrollsonline.com/en-us/news/post/2016/01/12/eso--the-year-ahead ESO - The Year Ahead 2016]</ref>
- Some guards, such as the Wayrest Guards, will say "Stop right there, criminal scum!", a famous guard quote from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
- As of Update 10, Pickpocketing items are determined by an NPC's occupation, or profession. I.e. a Priest is more likely to have religious items. 
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online