Obsidium Skeleton Keys: Gold Hiding Right On Our Keyrings?

Are you the Keymaster?
After listening to my wife look for a rogue to unlock a bunch of Elementium Lockboxes  in trade chat for a couple of days she asked if I had a skeleton key that might open then.

I had used skeleton keys in the past and thought there might be a new Cataclysm version. I had power leveled my blacksmithing and so must not have noticed the new skeleton key recipe when I had learned it.

What I found led me into a new (and potentially profitable) market that seems nearly untouched on my server.

The Find
I got the mats and crafted up a bunch. I have quite a few Elementium Lockboxes that I've been needing opening myself.

After crafting the Obsidium Skeleton Keys I noticed something strange about the tool tip. It didn't say it required Blacksmithing to use (which all previous keys had). Also it was not soulbound.

I had heard an offhand comment in trade the other day about these being able to be sold on the AH. I checked the AH and found none for sale. I then tried to post a few. It worked! Could these be sold regularly for a profit?

The Research
I wanted to do a little research to see if this was really even profitable. (For a great article on how to research new gold making opportunities be sure to check out "Entering new markets - How to make the call" at The Apprentice Trader.) I went to The Undermine Journal (TUJ) and checked my server for Obsidium Skeleton Keys.

Obsidium Skeleton Key prices range from 10g to 92g.
The key prices looked pretty firm across all servers with the average landing right around 45 gold each. My server had them going for around 29 gold (my starting price).

How about competition on my server? Am I going to be undercut by 20 other players trying to get a piece of the pie? So far it looks like the playing field is wide open with only 2 players posting these in the last few weeks.

Competition looks pretty slim (which is a good thing).

The Cost
I had dome my homework now it was time to figure out the materals. The mats to make 2 keys is 2 Folded Obsidium. Folded Obsidium takes 2 Obsidium Bars to make. (This information is also available right on the TUJ page.)
Key Recipe

TUJ let me know that each key will cost around 9 gold to make. (Not too bad.) The falling price of ore makes these even more profitable.

The fact that these are placed in your keyring and not your bag makes them easy to forget for any blacksmiths who have them.

The fact that all previous keys were BS-only makes it so players wouldn't even think to buy a key from the AH. (Who thinks to ask for a blacksmith instead of a rogue when they have a Elementium Lockbox?) In the past you had to have the BS stand right there and open your lockbox.

The Score
Here is a list of the possible pros and cons of trying to sell Obsidium Skeleton Keys.

  • Able to be sold on the AH.
  • Anyone can use them (no blacksmithing required).
  • Go into keyring rather than bags (easy to forget for BS). 
  • All previous skeleton keys required blacksmithing.
  • Don't show up on automatic auction addon interfaces like Auctioneer's Appraiser.
  • Have to be clicked from keyring rather than bag to post on AH (BS may not even think to sell them).
  • Provide a needed service (since there aren't many 85 rogues on these days).
  • Self-sufficient players can stockpile them to remove need for help from others.
  • Stored on keyring (take no inventory space).
  • Players are unfamiliar with this as an option for unlocking Elementium Lockboxes therefore won't know to look on AH
  • Must be barked (or whispered) to get awareness of items on AH
  • Large potential to become a flooded market as players scramble to make gold
  • Having to pay for a key top open it reduces the value if the lockbox a bit.
  • Instead of barking and giving away your secret you may whisper individuals asking for rogues to unlock in trade. Let them know they can always buy more keys on the AH
  • Try barking these keys with witty barks in. "Get [Obsidium Skeleton Key on the AH now and finally clean out all those pesky lockboxes that are cluttering your bags!" (This may lead to copy-cats and similar problems Mysterious Fortune Card barking suffers.)
  • Quietly keep the AH stocked and hope people find them on their own.
  • Let your guildies know that there are keys that open Elementium Lockboxes.
  • Stock your Guild Bank with a few and let members know you can make more.
  • Put a few up at various prices to try to get a feel for the right price range.

The Angle
I think these are profitable simply because not many players know they exist. They solve an everyday problem. With a little education I think these can become a decent source of income for any auctioneer with access to higher level blacksmithing.

As with the other famous barkable item, Mysterious Fortune Cards, these will most likely sell only if you are education players that they exist (at least at first). Do this through whispers or via trade chat.

I'll be trying to sell these and see how they do. There is very little risk involved and plenty to gain.

Talking Points
  • What will your barking/selling technique be for Obsidium Skeleton Keys?
  • Are you more likely to try to keep this hush-hush or grab a bullhorn?
  • If you already knew about, this how has selling been for you and do you have any tips?
Update 1:
I've sold three so far today for 19g or so. I've decided to keep quiet and just let them sell on their own. I might not get as many sales as I would with barking but I'm also not alerting my competition to the opportunity.


  1. Nice tip! I recall from my BS days that only Blacksmiths could use the keys, so this is nice to know. My wife is our main BS now, so she's going to pump a few keys into the market and see how it goes. TUJ only shows two keys having been posted one week ago @ 10g each, so it will most likely take a bit of barking, but should pay off.

  2. Excellent post Flux!

    In wrath, I had been using Blackmsith Lockpicking as an alternate source of income while crafting on my blacksmith. Since Cata though, I haven't digged into it, since the cost of 2 Folded Obsidium is expensive when compared to using my Rogue. The fact that they are not soulbound though does peek my curiosity as to how well these could sell, but again I look at the high price to purchase and open your own lockbox as a limiting factor.

    Will people waste 10+ gold on a key when a rogue can do it for free?

    Rarely would a rogue get a 10 gold tip for unlocking a locked box. And since these keys are crafted from bars which come from ores, once this is more widely known I see these suffering from the same old "i farmed it so its free" mentality.

    If someone was selling these regulary in trade chat, I would just log my rogue and bark, "Why buy a 10 gold key to open your locked chest? I'm a rogue and will do it for 5g per box."

    So with these being able to be traded and sold on the auction house, I see the main effect as raising the minimum that a smart rogue will require as tip or payment.

  3. @Cold I agree many will balk at the cost. Other players however just want to clear the Elementium Lockboxes clogging up their banks and bags.

    It seems the rogue class has dropped off dramatically in popularity with Cata. I only know of a couple in our guild that are even 85. Not only that but they have to be online and in SW to unlock them. (Although with instant guild mail that way may work as well but they have to get to a mailbox.)

    Convenience is the main selling point to these. You can do things yourself and not bother or require others. I can see people keeping a few of these keys with them at all times to easily unlock any boxes they may get while out questing etc. Since the keys go into there keyring they also don't take up any bag space.

    So far they do seem to be selling for me (even for 20g). I'll see how the market goes. I think player education is the key. (Of course I'm going to keep it pretty quiet on my server as long as they continue to sell.)

  4. So... we tried this out yesterday. Made twenty, posted them at 20g each, and barked out:

    "Need to open a lockbox? Why pay a rogue or blacksmith when YOU can open it yourself [obsidium skeleton key] in AH now! (You do need to be 80+ to use it though!)"

    A blacksmith (one of my wife's competitors) immediately asked in chat if I was aware that it could only be used by blacksmiths. I corrected him by saying, "Nope! It's the only skeleton key that can be used by anyone... as a blacksmith, you should know that! :)" He didn't say anything after that, but the sales started to come in.

    As I barked over the next hour, I had several rogues state that nobody would buy a key when they can have a rogue open a box for cheaper. I said that rogues are great, but they aren't pocket sized, and you don't always have one around when you're grinding/questing. One person who bought a key and used it posted that it was great to know about, and then bought more keys.

    Every time a rogue or blacksmith talked about it in chat and I politely joked back and forth with them, sales kept coming in. It's the same way that fortune card barking works. The more people talk about it, the more sales are generated. :)

    I haven't made a sale since I stopped barking last night. People don't know about the key, so it's only when you bark that they even go to look. I also haven't seen anyone else post, and that is surprising when I know that many blacksmiths saw me barking. I think that this has a bit to do with my keeping the keys restocked while I was barking. It would have appeared to others that not many keys were selling.

    In the hour I spent barking, I sold almost thirty keys @ 20g each. Figuring mat cost of about 8g per key, that's ~12g per key profit.

    Tomorrow I plan to push some over to the Alliance side and see how they sell there as well.


  5. @Zathanos That is encouraging news! Thanks for the report.

  6. Flux,

    Great catch on this. My BS has been crafting them at about 10g profit per, no barking, just listing them on the AH.