Enchanting an item requires magical knowledge of the type of enhancement to be added (i.e. the desired spell must be known and castable in order to place that effect on an item), as well as a Soul Gem containing a trapped soul. The greater the soul trapped, the more powerful an enchantment can be made.
Soul Gems may also purchased or stolen from Mages Guild halls and the Arcane University itself. The Grand Soul Gems and Greater Soul Gems are primarily found in locked cases. Mages Guild members may simply pick up these loose soul gems for free.
Enchantments can be performed at an Altar of Enchanting in the Arcane University or the Archmage's Quarters. Alternately, if the Frostcrag Spire add-on has been purchased, there will be a personal Altar of Enchanting in the Spire.
Soul Gems are a very important part of enchanting. They are magic stones that can hold the captured souls of most creatures. They come in different sizes and power and are used to transfer magicka to items being enchanted (or recharged, in most cases). There are five different types of soul gem found throughout the game. They are as follows:
Soul Gem — Charge
- Petty — 150
- Lesser — 300
- Common — 800
- Greater — 1200
- Grand — 1600
Black Soul GemEdit
- See main entry Black Soul Gem (Oblivion) for more information on Soul Gems, their use, and their acquisition.
It is possible through quests centered around the Mage Guild to acquire "Black Soul Gems". These grand-quality soul gems can be used to trap human souls; all other Grand Soul Gems can only capture souls from creatures, not from humans.
Weapons that are enchanted have a number of charges determined by the Soul Gem used during the enchanting. Each time the weapon hits a target, it uses a certain number of charges (as determined by the magnitude of the effect produced). Typically, weapons are enchanted with destruction magic to increase their effectiveness. It is also possible to combine different effect types, such as Soul Trap and Fire Damage on strike. Some greater magical artifacts have 3000 charges, which exceeds even the strength of a Grand Soul Gem.
Recharging a weapon costs 1 per charge (this can get very costly), or it can be recharged with a Soul Gem. It is cheaper to purchase soul gems from a Mages Guild Vendor and recharge the items than it is to pay for a recharge.
Weapons may also be recharged with Varla Stones. They are one-use items that recharge ALL magical items in the inventory.
It should be noted that if Azura's Star is in the inventory, it can be used to recharge weapons easily, as it is a reusable Soul Gem.
Using Azura's Star in conjunction with a Soul Trap spell and a summon spell can save a player thousands in recharge cost.
Constant Effect enchantmentsEdit
Armor, shields, clothing, rings and amulets can be enchanted with constant effects. These enchantments are applied and destroyed whenever the item is equipped. The magnitude of the constant effect varies depending on the Soul Gem used to enchant it, and is typically much lower than that of a charge-based enchantment. For example, with a grand soul gem, the most powerful light enchantment that can be placed upon it is up to 40 feet, whereas there are spells that illuminate up to 100 feet and beyond. Certain constant effects that do not have a capacity for variation (such as Night-Eye, Water Breathing, and Water Walking) may be placed on an item to full effect using only a petty soul. Player-enchanted items can contain only one constant effect enchantment.