The Elder Scrolls 5 - Skyrim - College of Winterhold Quests


This quest starts after you try to get past Faralda or Nirya, the gatekeepers at the entrance to The College of Winterhold.

Before you can enter the College of Winterhold, the gatekeeper of sorts, Faralda (or Nirya), stands outside to deter anyone who is not fit to be a disciple of the magical arts. Simply cast the spell she asks to gain access to the College. If you do not know the spell she requires, you may be able to purchase it from Nelacar in the The Frozen Hearth in Winterhold.

Alternatively, you can persuade her, or if the option that you're a Dragonborn is available, just use a shout in the open space behind her to convince her.

You can now purchase Apprentice Destruction spells from Nirya. Report to Mirabelle Ervine in the courtyard and let her know you are ready to tour the College. After touring, enter the Hall of Elements and listen to Tolfdir address the new recruits. Tolfdir succumbs to the others’ eagerness and decides to teach something practical. Follow his instructions. Learn Light Ward from him if you do not know it already. He will then ask you to stand opposite him so no one is in the way. If you have a follower you should ask them to stand behind you and MAKE SURE you don't part ways with them, as the game registers this as your follower trespassing and the class will become hostile to your follower.


Under Saarthal is the second quest in the College of Winterhold Quests . After you complete First Lessons speak to Tolfdir again and he will ask you to meet him at Saarthal along with a few other recruits (Brelyna Maryon).

This particular quest intersects part of Forbidden Legends.


Meet Tolfdir outside Saarthal

Find Arnial Gane

Use the Saarthal Amulet to Escape the Trap

Find the Danger within Saarthal

Meet Tolfdir at Saarthal (follow your map icon, but you will find it near Winterhold and he will take you inside after you speak to him to tell him you are ready. You will not be able to enter without him (the door will indicate that you need a key). Use the wait function if you have beaten him to the door or browse the levels of wooden walkways for some loot.

Once inside you can sheath your sword or spells as there are no enemies in this first section (until after you find some items for Arniel). Follow Tolfdir to the bottom of the wooden stairs and he will speak to you again. Choose the top dialog option to move on. Tolfdir will ask you to Find Arniel Gane.

You are to meet Arniel, who can be found relatively easily. He's located past the next open cavern so follow the map or the passageways until you get to another cavern, make your way to the bottom and through some more tunnels. Arniel asks you to find four artefacts. Your map will be updated with the location of all four. Follow the corridor to grab three enchanted rings (on the ground) and an amulet. The fourth artefact is the Saarthal Amulet. Once retrieved, you'll be trapped inside the room. Go back to the bars that now block your exit and speak to Tolfdir who will come to help. Do as instructed and use the amulet to escape the trap by equipping it, then cast a spell (any spell) on the wall where the amulet was.

Doing so breaks down the wall, after which Tolfdir passes through expecting you to be behind him. Once in the room, you will have a vision from Nerien, a member of the Psijic Order. After you inform Tolfdir about the vision, he suggests looking around a bit. You might have draugrs to deal with your immediate future. And after speaking to Tolfdir and telling him about your vision a Draugr and a Restless Draugr will burst from their coffins.

Note: If you have not figured it out by now, Tolfdir has a knack for repeating himself and stopping if you follow him too closely. Let him go ahead and then follow at a safe distance.
Follow Tolfdir around the corner and down the ramp (no enemies). Use the lever on the right to open the gate. Be ready for a fight. As soon as you enter you'll be confronted with a number of Draugr, but they should be easy enough to dispatch with Tolfdir and perhaps a companion, housecarl or follower at your side. This room may be levelled, but you will have to deal with at least 4 Draugr before you enter into another dialog with Tolfdir.

Tolfdir will stay behind, but asks you to press on. Pull the two chains on either side of the door on the far side of the room to uncover a door to the next area. No one will attack you in the first room so check the small and large burial urns for loot (leveled gold, gems and potions). In the next larger room you'll see a light in the corner. Beware the corner as there is Fire Rune waiting for a misplaced foot (circular mark on the floor glowing orange).

Moving through the room will trigger the Draugrs that are waiting for you, send a firebolt or similar spell down the hall to wake them if you want them to come to you. One will attack in the first section, turn the corner for two more. A third can join the fight from upstairs and he will be a Restless Draugr wielding a bow and arrow so beware if the fight against the first couple starts to drag on. Each will have some gold, weapon (Ancient Nord Sword, War Axe, etc.) and a chance at a gem.

Go upstairs and turn left towards the coffin (empty) and head towards it. A soul gem, coin purse and burial urn will be on your right. Once the need for loot subsides head past the coffin and through the doorway. Gold and potions straight ahead. Go left after and around the corner.

Careful of the poisonous arrow floor trap as you move down the ramp. Beyond this trap are more powerful draugrs depending on your level. They could be anything from a normal Draugr to Restless one and a Draugr Wight. You can touch the poisonous arrow trap to wake them and then fight them as they come up the ramp or go attack them as they wake.

No more enemies in the next room, but you will have to arrange six pillars to open the door ahead. The solution is on the wall behind each pillar.

Note: It is easiest to temporarily bump up your brightness in-game as the clues will probably be difficult to see under most standard brightness settings (unless you have it at maximum).

The solution from lever facing away from the door (towards the way you came in):

Left: Hawk, Hawk, Whale

Right: Whale, Snake, Hawk

Be careful as a wrong combination will result in some poisonous darts fired from the walls. Go through the door and around the corner. Ready your nerves and open the next (non-loading) door.

Once opened, your prize is really just another enemy, but in the form of a powerful Draugr Deathlord. He can dole out a lot of pain in a single swing. It's best to take him out from a distance if possible. Feel free to run laps up and down the stairs to keep him on your tail, turn and fight when you are ready. Use your shouts whenever you can to inflict more damage as well. Another strategy involves running back to the room with the pillars and standing next to the lever. As the Deathlord approaches, close the door and shoot him with arrows. This will have to be repeated a lot of times depending on your level.

After defeating, move on up the stairs and through the door. There are two alchemic traps here on the floor. If you go through those traps, you will be hit by lightning. Disable these traps by using some Destruction spells on it a couple of times.

Time to arrange four pillars again in order to open the door. And of course, pulling the lever with incorrectly arranged pillars will shoot poisonous arrows from the wall.

The solution is on top of each pillar, but the pillars here are a bit difficult to shuffle as activating the first or second pillar to the left will also activate the two pillars on the right. And activating the second pillar on the right will activate the first one on the right.

So, here is the combination for rotation:

Rotate the first pillar on the left once.
Rotate the second pillar on the left once.
Rotate the second pillar on the right twice.

The first one on the right can rotate individually so you can rotate that for the correct pillar.
After you open the door Tolfdir will catch up with you. Go around the corner and loot what you will. Beware of the foot trap ahead.

Note: Try to get around a corner quickly, Tolfdir might not avoid stepping on the trap and will probably set it off.

Move to the next room to face Jyrik Gauldurson. When you first walk in nothing will happen, walk to the overlook and you may have to walk part of the way down the ramp on the right to get the sequence to start. Behind Jyrik is a giant sphere. As you move down, though, Jyrik moves into hostile action. You attacks will not affect him. For the first part of the fight use wards or a shield to weaken the damage you take. Feel free to conjure something for Jyrik to attack. Tolfdir will attack the giant ball, which will weaken Jyrik, allowing you to take him out. Note: on the table in front of him the is his staff that does 25 damage and 2x that to magica. Rare item really good if you're a mage. You'll know you can hurt him because he'll erupt in flames. Kill him. Retrieve the amulet from Jyril's corpse - it is needed for the Forbidden Legend quest. If you have not yet started this quest, take the Writ of Sealing off Jyril's corpse; reading the Writ will launch the quest.

Tolfdir will ask you to return to the college and to inform them about the giant sphere that you discovered. Loot the surrounding burial urns and move on. Head to the next room to learn a new DragonShout before leaving.

Back at the College of Winterhold you'll have to find the Archmage Savos Aren (check your map) most likely in his quarters. Enter the Hall of Elements, go through the door on your right and up the stairs. Tell the Archmage what you found.

You'll receive a Staff of Magelight from Archmage Savos Aren as a gift.


You obtain the quest Hitting the Books from the Arch-Mage, after completing Under Saarthal.


Speak with Urag gro-Shub

Find the stolen books (3)

(Optional) Free Orthorn

Return the books

After speaking to the Arch-Mage, head down to The Arcanaeum and speak to Urag gro-Shub. He will tell you about three missing books and ask you to go to Fellglow Keep to retrieve them. (He also has a separate book finding quest to offer you, so be sure you are getting the next step to this quest!).

You will find Fellglow Keep to be full of mages and necromancers who have apparently been doing experiments on vampires. You'll find one room with a number of live vampires locked in cages. If you choose to unlock the cages and let them out, they will not offer you an verbal thanks, but they will go after some of your enemies, and will not harm you.

You will find Orthorn locked in a cage in another room. Pull the levers to open these cages and let him out. The books have been taken from him and are deeper into the keep. You have the choice to either send him on his way, or ask him to come with you. There does not seem to be any repercussions one way or the other - he'll fight with if you keep him, usually conjuring flame atronachs, but it can be a challenge to keep him from getting killed. At the same time there doesn't seem to be any penalty if he does get killed. There is also no end-of-quest reward or advantage to having brought him with you. He just takes his leave of you.

Continue through until you get to a room with a female mage known as The Caller. She will trash talk you and refuse to let you have the books without a fight. She'll conjure a number of Frost Atronachs. Head straight for her if you want to go with melee attacks, which is recommended as she's fairly weak against them. You can get a good hit in, then she disappears and reappears back in the center of the room. Another hit or two and she's down and the Atronachs will go with her.

Pick up the three books, and head back to Urag at the College and collect your reward, a collection of books which you can read to take advantage of any skill increases they offer, then turn around and sell right back to him.

The completion of this quest launches the Good Intentions quest.



Speak with Tolfdir

Listen to Tolfdir

Follow Ancano

Speak with Quaranir

Find the Augur of Dunlain

Report to Savos Aren

Urag asks you to speak with Tolfdir regarding one of the books you retrieved in the previous quest. Find Tolfdir in the Hall of Elements, gazing lovingly at the orb that was found Under Saarthal. Tell him about the book and he will ask you to listen to him talk about the orb.

Not long into Tolfdir's speech, Ancano arrives and says he must take you away post-haste to speak to a monk from the Psijic order that has arrived and is asking for you. Follow Ancano up to the arch-mage chambers and speak to Quaranir, the monk.

Quaranir explains that the orb is dangerous and is up to you to do something about it, which starts with you finding the Augur of Dunlain somewhere in the college. He then says he must take his leave, but Ancano intercepts him and takes him off somewhere.

Find Tolfdir and ask him about the Augur of Dunlain. He will tell you he supposes the Augur is still in The Midden, an area underneath the college.

Head outside and look for a small trap door in the covered section of the courtyard. Head down the hatch into The Midden. Once inside be prepared to encounter a few enemies such as an Ice Wraith or Draugr as you make your way to the Augr. You will eventually come to a door that is locked and requires a key. Stay at it and you'll hear a voice (the Augr) tell you that you can enter. Activate the Augur and it will tell you that Ancano has also been to see him, and that you need the Staff of Magnus to learn about the Eye of Magnus. He tells you to report this to Savos Aren.

Head back up to the Hall of Elements and report to Savos Aren. He will reward you with the Mage's Circlet. This ends the quest, and launches the next quest, Revealing The Unseen.

In the same room as the Augur of Dunlain, there is an ominous Daedric gauntlet. There is also a journal describing a few mages attempting a ritual with the gauntlet. The journal states the rings were brought to the Arcanium. there is a chest on the left of the door. Either pick the lock or use the key to open it. Place the rings on the gauntlet to start a quest. Make sure you don't kill the dremora that was summoned, and then chose to release him. He gives you a map that leads to a small island south of Ysgrammars tomb and south east of Pilgrim's Trench, which is west of Winterhold. The treasure is not that great, and you can probably make more money by killing him and taking his heart for armour crafting.



Speak with Mirabelle Ervine

Find the ruins of Mzulft

Search for Synod researchers

Reach the Oculory

Find the Focusing Crystal

Return the Crystal to Paratus Follow Paratus

Place the Crystal into the Oculory

Focus the Oculory

Talk to Paratus

Report to Savos Aren


Savos Aren has tasked you with finding the Staff of Magnus, which begins with speaking with Mirabelle Ervine. Track her down and ask about the staff. She tells you about a group of mages from Cyrodil called The Synod who had previously come to the college looking for the staff. She suggests you head to the ruins of Mzulft, where The Synod had been heading.

Head to the ruins, which are at the base of the mountain range just southeast of Winterhold. Just inside you will find a dying Synod member, Gavros Plinius. Once he breathes his last, take the key to the ruins and his research journal, which talks about focusing some kind of crystal at an oculary.

Using the key, head through the door, and into the ruins. Watch out for booby traps on the floor, and be prepared for some Dwarven Spiders. As you head into an area that looks more like a cave than a Dwarven Ruin, you will have to battle some Chaurus'.


Be wary as many sounds eminate from the walls an machinery and can confuse you. Pay attention to the sounds of the enemies you encounter (mostly Dwarven Spider Guardian). As you continue through the ruins you will eventually come to a room that has a downstairs area, and a thin ledge overlooking the downstairs (and some Dwarven Sphere and Spiders). After you've cleared the enemies, the way through is upstairs on the left. You'll need to use the Whirlwind Sprint shout to get by some machinery that will push you off the ledge. Use arrows or magic to get the attention of enemies or use sneaking to take them out.


You will begin to see Falmer now and have to fight them. Few enough are around, but they are more formidable than Spiders. You'll find one Falmer in the first hallway and another up a long ramp (past the section where the hall splits in two and reconnects). Arrows can come in very handy in this area as Mzulft is a big place. Falmer arrows are weak (7), but better than nothing. One trick in the fog (which makes it pretty easy to Sneak about) is to shoot arrows into long hallways and use that to draw enemies to you. Take them out as the come towards you (works well with any Slow Time type of Perk).

You will run into another cave-like area. Be careful of the Charus, but once dispatched make sure to enter the opening on the right for a Moonstone Ore vein, Charus Egg and goodies. Beware the booby trap just past the Falmer tent.

Continue on through the Boilery and into the Aedrome. You will come to a large room with a number of Falmer you'll have to battle. Make sure to loot everyone in this room, as one of the Falmer has a focusing crystal on them that you will need. You'll find the upstairs door locked and requiring a key, so head through the door downstairs to the east. It's a straight shot through the next few rooms and on to a big battle with a Dwarven Centurion Master. Take care of him, then search the chest in the room for the observatory key and trace your steps back to the locked door.

(Be sure that you do not attempt to get up close and personal with the centurion master as he does have a power close range smash in addition to his frost breath. A good way to kill him is to summon a flame atronarch, lead your companion inside, then close the door on them. Then keep opening the door and sending in flame atronarchs. Take note that the centurion cannot open doors, but if left alone, may be able to pass through if the door is open.)

Just past that door you find another locked door that requires a key, but there's a voice on the other side who thinks you're Gavros, the dead Synod member you found at the entrance. He opens the door for you and converses with you about Gavros and the crystal and the staff. If you took the crystal off the Falmer in the previous room, then you can now follow Paratus to the Oculary. Do not attack Paratus - he will not die and you will not be able to complete the mission.


You'll need to activate the Oculary, which places the crystal in it. After placing the Lens in the Oculary, equip your Frostbite spell, and hit the lens 3 times, (the necessary spell tomes are behind the control panel if you need them) then use the bank of 3 control panels at the top of the stairs, overlooking the Lens. Each control panel rotates a ceiling ring clockwise. Move the rings until the beams of light are reflected by the big blue gem in each ring. This will lead to a heated discussion with the NPC, but ends in you finding out that you need to travel to Labrynthian to gain the Staff of Magnus. At this point it is safe to kill him, if you wish to do so.

Tip: Be certain that you are attempting the oculary puzzle during the daytime. At night there is no beam - an issue that has been mistaken as a bug.

Tip: If you are having trouble freezing/cooling the crystal in the Oculory, try reloading an old save to before you opened the door to the Oculory. Stay close to Paratus until he tells you to place the crystal in the Oculory, and then try again to freeze/cool.

Head back out of the Oculary and take a right for the shortcut out to Skyrim. Get back to the college and find Savos Aren who is tied up trying to break through a field that Ancano has created in the Hall of Elements. Use a destruction spell to help Savos and Mirabelle break through the spell, then follow them into the Hall. Things will go blank for a second, then you'll be speaking to Mirabelle and the quest will complete, and the next quest, Containment, will launch.



Find the Arch-Mage

Protect the town of Winterhold

Defeat the creatures infesting Winterhold (10)

Report to Mirabelle Ervine

After talking to Mirabelle, head out into the courtyard to look for Savos Aren. The arch-mage appears to be dead and Tolfdir will intercept you right before you get to him and tell you that something strange is happening to Winterhold and you need to protect the town.

Start heading toward Winterhold. Faralda will intercept you, then join you.

Continue heading out of the college and you'll be met by Magic Anomalies which look similar to wisps or ice wraith. They are incredibly squirrely and defeating them will not be easy. Once you've defeated them, be sure to search their "ghostly remains" for filled soul gems, then head back to the College to report to Mirabelle.

Mirabelle sends you off to Labyrinthian to find the Staff of Magnus and gives you Savos Aren's Amulet. This completes the quest and launches the next quest, The Staff of Magnus.



Entrance to Labyrinthian

Find the Staff of Magnus

Return to Tolfdir

Once you're done speaking with Mirabelle, head outside and travel to Labyrinthian. Watchout for the two frost trolls waiting outside the entrance to Labyrinthin ruins. Trolls don't run fast, so kite him while shooting it with firebolts. There are three other normal trolls in the ruins, however, so watch your step.

Approaching from the South the entrance to the dungeon is on the far side of the area, towards the North, North East, up steps. Outside the entrance you'll enjoy a ghostly flashback of Savos Aren and former college students preparing to enter Labyrinthian. When they're done talking, head on in. Listen to another spectral flashback, then start exploring (there is a Spell Tome on the table to the right), and moving through the ruins.

You'll soon come to a closed gate. The lever is back and on the left. Once you go through the gate you'll need to be prepared to battle a skeletal dragon and a number of skeletons. The skeletal dragon isn't quite as tough as a regular dragon (and doesn't have a soul for you to absorb), but he'll still blast you with cold, so be prepared. Arrows from afar can help dwindle his health (especially if you have the slow time Shout or Perk) or you can stand by the level and opening the gate shoot fireballs at the skeletons and dragon. As the gate closes their attacks won't reach you. Keep opening the gate and firing at will until most if not all skeletins are dead and the dragon too.

Continue into the Labyrinthian Chasm. In the first room there is a well hidden chest. As you're heading down the stairs into the next room, up on the right is a bench and a shelf. The chest is to the right of the bench, behind the stone pillar. Down the stairs to the left are a few Burial Urns as well. Be sure to collect the gold before moving on.

In the next room you'll see an ice formation in front of a sealed stone door. As you approach it, a Frost Spirit will emerge. Keep your distance and hit him with some flames and/or your Fire Breath shout. Then hit the ice formation with flames until the door opens. (If you need it, the Flames Spell Tome is on a pedestal in this room).

As you come into the next room, watch your step. If you go straight ahead you'll drop down. The path is to the right. Take care of the Draugr there, then stay up there and take care of the Draugr down below. (P.S.: If you use Unrelenting Force on a Draugr, they'll go flying across the room and fall down the pit! You need to have good timing, but the result is hilarious.)

Head down the bridge to the next level then take a right. Clear out the enemy, then go through the door into a room where you'll find some good loot, a spell tome, an alchemy lab, and an arcane enchanter. When you're done in here, retrace your steps back out, and continue down the bridges.

When you come to a fork in the bridges, follow the path towards a door, rather than straight into the water. This will lead you through some loot and ultimately to the same location in the water that the other path leads.

Follow the path along the water and through the dungeon. You'll encounter a variety of enemies including trolls and wispmothers. In the room where you battle the wispmothers, you'll find a fire burning on the floor in front of a sealed door. A fire spirit will emerge. Take care of him with ice or frost, then use the same on the burning fire to open the door. (The Frostbite Spell Tome is on the floor to the right if you need it).

Go through the door, then through the gate on the left. Watch another flashback, then move on into a room with some spectral enemies and a floor trap. You can open the floor trap and send your enemies falling to their death, but make sure you're not standing on it as it will also send you to your death. Follow the path that will take you down to the level below the floor floor trap, then through the door into the door into the Labyrinthian Tribune.

Continue down, battling more spectral enemies. You'll come to a wooden door with a pedestal on the left, with the "Steadfast Ward" spell tome on it. If you do not have this spell, you probably want to grab it and learn it for what's ahead.

Go through the wooden door and down the stairs. Put up your Steadfast Ward and grab the soul gem on the pedestal on the right side. You'll want to do this because the Lesser soul gems shoot Frost spells at you, and if you're not careful, you'll die quickly. There's another gem you'll want to grab just up ahead and to the left. Straight ahead there are some Runes on the floor, and more gems shooting fire at you. Stand back and shoot something at the Runes to trigger them. Don't stand in the centre too long without a ward up or you'll get heavy dose of flames sent your way. If you know the Become Etheral shout, use it to get yourself up to the centre pedestals without getting hurt, and disable them by grabbing the gems. Then head up the stairs to the right.

Continue through the dungeon. You'll find a word wall where you'll learn the Slow Time shout. Be ready for a nasty fight with a ghostly Draugr Deathlord first, though. Once you've defeated him, learn the Shout and head into the next room. There are a lot of skeletons and ghostly Draugr, so be prepared. Once you defeat them, keep going into the next room, where you'll watch another flashback. Now, go through the door into the large chamber, where you'll find a pair of ghostly wizards casting some sort of large spell on something, who turns out to be Morokei. You can approach the wizards from behind, but don't be fooled by the "talk to wizard" option, they don't want to talk. You're better off sneaking up behind them and hitting them with weapons or magic.

Morokei is a Dragon Priest, though if you have good armor (I personally use Fine Blades Armor), his attacks don't do much damage. Still, you will want to be fully prepared with potions to keep you healthy.

Here's one way to beat him:

Preferably you'll need powerful Destruction spells (preferably Firebolt or Fireball) and Slow Time shout. Also, a Flame Atronach would be helpful to have at your side.

When you enter the chamber, you can see Morokei inside an orb created by two mages. One is on the higher floor and one is one the lower floor. Kill the one higher first, and then kill the other one. The purpose is so you can run toward the door and save yourself, just in case. When Morokei is about to move, Shout and start throwing fireballs. When you are out of Magicka, run towards the door and use the Wait option to force full Magicka restoration and repeat. A simpler way to restore Magicka is to use potions, if you have any. It won't take long to kill him, and this way you can keep damage to a minimum.

Once you've defeated him, take the Staff of Magnus off of him, and the Mask of Morokei. Now, head to your right, where you'll find a different door leading out, along with a chest containing gems and equipment.

On your way out, you'll encounter Estormo, a Thalmor sent by Ancano to take the Staff of Magnus from you. You'll need to defeat him before you can exit Labyrinthian.

Upon exiting Labyrinthian you'll find that the College of Winterhold is no longer on your map. Travel to Winterhold then head up toward the college. You'll find Tolfdir and a couple of mages up on the bridge, with the College enveloped in a some sort of magic. Speak to Tolfdir. This completes the quest, and launches the next quest, The Eye of Magnus.



Use the Staff of Magnus to enter the

College of Winterhold

Reach the Hall of the Elements

Defeat Ancano

Talk to Tolfdir

Speak with Quaranir

Defeat Morokei in Labrynthian to obtain the Staff of Magnus. The Staff of Magnus is used in order to complete the last part of this quest chain.

Entering the college Tolfdir will speak to you about Ancano who needs to be stopped - he is in the centre of the hall charging the Eye. Activate the eye and Tolfdir will tell you to use the staff on the Eye. It is suggested moving to the top of the steps and firing at the Eye. Arcano will shoot a fireball at Tolfdir who may fall at this stage but don't worry. As you shoot at the Eye using the Staff the Eye will start to open and a ghostly spirit will emerge and Ancano will start to fight it. Hide behind a pillar so you don't attract the spirit. As you shoot the Eye two more spirits will emerge and also fight Arcano. At this point go outside the Hall gates and close them to stop the spirits reaching you. The spirits will kill Arcano for you after which Tolfdir will become conscious and the quest will be completed. Upon completion of this quest chain you will be promoted to talk to Quaranir of the Psigic Order. You will be promoted to Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold and be given the key to the Arch-mage quarters.

Andi Hodgetts

Author of Stonehurst