My introduction to being a werewolf in the Elder Scrolls series came via the Tribunal expansion for Morrowind (Remember when video games had expansion packs), and boy, was it cool. It gave you massive buffs to your attributes and some nifty constant effect enchantments.
There were drawbacks to the form, like being unable to interact with almost everything and needing to kill someone every night or suffer adverse side effects in the morning. But being a werewolf offered a unique playstyle and added to the mountain of fun that Morrowind already was. All that was missing was an Underworld-style vampire versus werewolves questline.
With that said, becoming the beast is only cool if you’re just a gamer, not an actual person in the world of Elder Scrolls. I’m sure that for the people of Tamriel, werewolves are terrifying beasts you never want to come across. Noe one is safe from these beasts, not even the younglings.
If you travel to the town of Falkreath, you’ll soon find out that a family living a peaceful life has suffered a tragedy. And it looks as though a beast that emerges by way of the moon’s light may have been this tragedy’s precursor.
To begin Ill Met By Moonlight, you need to travel to the town of Falkreath in the southeastern part of Skyrim.
Bloated Man’s Grotto is southeast of Whiterun. Follow the road south from Fort Greymoor, and you can’t miss it.
- Clear out Bloated Man’s Grotto before starting Ill Met By Moonlight
- Clear out Bloated Man’s Grotto before level 20
- Green Thumb perk (Level 70 Alchemy required)
- Complete Ill Met By Moonlight before starting the Companions’ questline
- Lockpicking magical apparel and or potions
- Ring of Hircine
- Cursed Ring of Hircine
- Savior’s Hide
- Bolar’s Oathblade (Pre-quest reward)
- 100+ Hanging Moss (With Green Thumb perk)
- Gold ore
Getting Started: Bloated Man’s Grotto before Ill Met By Moonlight
You want to go to Bloated Man’s Grotto before doing the Ill Met By Moonlight quest because there’s a unique weapon here that is not here during Ill Met By Moonlight.
If you start Ill Met By Moonlight before grabbing this weapon, you have to make a specific choice at the climax of the quest and then wait 30 in-game days to reset the grotto. Additionally, this unique weapon is at its’ best at a lower level, ideally before level 20-25. So let’s grab it right now.
Make your way to Bloated Man’s Grotto, then head inside. If Ill Met By Moonlight is not active, the enemies you’ll encounter here are cave bears, wolves, and spriggans.
As you enter the first area of the cave, you’ll likely have to fight off two cave bears. After taking care of them, jump up to the ledge on the right and look behind a tree stump to find an apprentice-locked chest with random loot. Next, take a swim into the pond for some nordic barnacles and another chest before going deeper into Bloated Man’s Grotto.
As you progress deeper into the cave, you’ll run into your first spriggan here. Spriggans can give you a serious run for your money if you face them with a barebones combat setup. They deal good damage, have strong healing abilities, and blend in very well in an area like this. Don’t try coming here right out of Helgen. Companions and summoned minions like flame atronachs go a long way towards making spriggans a lot easier to defeat.
After taking care of all hostiles, head up the stairs. Before moving on, climb onto the rocks to your right to find a hidden gold ore vein. Smithing gold jewelry is a fantastic way to level up Smithing, so don’t miss this secret spot. Head back down to the stairs and into the next section to find the Bloated Man’s Grotto’s Shrine of Talos. If you caught Bone Break Fever from one of the bears, cure it here with Talos’ blessing.
Next to the shrine is a couple of potions, but the real reward is in front of the statue. Read Bolar’s writ to get some backstory. Bolar was a member of the Blades and the sole survivor of the attack on Cloud Ruler Temple by the Thalmor. Not wanting the High Elves to desecrate the shrine to Talos, Bolar willingly left Bloated Man’s Grotto to face his death.
Bolar also left behind his sword, Bolar’s Oathblade. It deals 25 points of Stamina damage and causes enemies level 12 or below to flee. That secondary effect is why I suggest you come here sooner rather than later. Bolar’s Oathblade has base damage roughly equal to an Elven sword, pretty nice for the early game. Coming here and picking this up before starting Ill Met By Midnight is necessary because both the Shrine of Talos and Bolar’s Oathblade are not here during that quest.
After claiming your Blades sword, take a good look at the walls in this area. You’ll notice that there’s a ton of hanging moss here. In fact, with a maximum of 63 hanging moss, Bloated Man’s Grotto is the best place in the game for farming this alchemy ingredient.
Hanging moss is an outstanding alchemy ingredient, with all four properties being good; most of all, the Fortify One-Handed property. Hanging moss is the most readily available ingredient with this effect, so collect as much as you can.
Unfortunately, collecting ingredients here requires a lot of Super Mario platforming, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get all 63. Hanging moss is also one of the worst alchemy ingredients to spot since it’s hard to tell what hanging moss is farmable and what isn’t.
I have never gotten more than 56, but if you have the Green Thumb perk, that’s still 112 hanging moss. Not too shabby. Bloated Man’s Grotto is also excellent for butterfly wings, blue butterfly wings, torchbug thorax, and luna moth wings, depending on whether you come here during the day or at night.
After collecting your wall mold and insect wings, loot the chest behind the altar table. Let’s wrap up expedition number one in Bloated Man’s Grotto.
The next area will likely have two spriggan, so deal with them before crossing the stream into the final part of the cave. I always come across a spriggan, two wolves, and a dead deer here. Finish off the last of your enemies, then get ready for some platforming. Zig-zag climb the rocky ledge to your right, and you’ll be able to spot a hidden boss chest up ahead. Here’s where your lockpicking gear comes in handy because this is a Master-locked chest.
I find Master-locked chests to be utterly obnoxious in Skyrim (Though not as annoying as Oblivion’s lockpicking system), as you can easily blow through 50 lockpicks if you have nothing to boost your Lockpicking skill. The loot in here is random but well worth the trouble.
And that’s it! From this point, you can go out in Skyrim and do some more adventuring, or head straight for Falkreath to begin Ill Met By Moonlight.
Starting Ill Met By Moonlight
Head for Falkreath and look for a man named Mathies. If this is your first time in Falkreath, Mathies and his wife Indara will be in the graveyard holding a funeral. Otherwise, you’ll find Mathies walking around town, at the Dead Man’s Inn, or the family farm, Corpselight Farm.
Speak with Mathies, who remarks that it’s a sad day. Ask him why, and he’ll tell you that a migrant worker named Sinding murdered his daughter Lavinia near the lumber mill. She was not even ten years old. Mathies will speak of how he doesn’t know how a person could do something like that to anyone, let alone a child. He tells you that Sinding is currently in the pit at Falkreath Jail if you want to find out more from the murderer himself.
Head for Falkreath Jail which is just past Grave Concoctions and downstairs into the lowest level of the building. Sinding will be in a water pit on the left side of the room.
You might run into some trouble here. To progress the quest, you need to speak with Sinding, but sometimes he stays on the far end of the pit and out of conversation distance. Leaving the jail and waiting a few hours always fixes this for me.
Eventually, when Sinding makes his way over to you, he’ll ask if you’re here to gawk at the monster. Tell him you heard that he murdered a little girl, and he will confirm that he did indeed kill Lavinia but that he didn’t mean it. You see, Mathies will tell you that Sinding ripped her apart like a sabre cat tears a deer. He meant that literally, as Sinding will reveal that he’s a werewolf. He blames his actions on his Ring of Hircine.
The Ring of Hircine was said to grant werewolves heightened control over their beastly powers, so Sinding took it upon himself to find such a ring and wear it. Hircine didn’t take too kindly to this and ended up cursing the ring.
Instead of giving Sinding more control over his werewolf transformations, the ring made them worse, as they happened randomly and at the worst times. Lavinia looked weak and helpless, and it spurred the beast inside Sinding and caused him to commit his unspeakable crime.
Ask Sinding what he plans to do now, and he’ll tell you that he wants to find a way to appease Hircine. He says that there is a majestic beast in the woods near Falkreath and that whoever slays it may communicate with Hircine. Sinding planned to return the ring to Hircine and beg his forgiveness, but then the incident with Lavinia happened.
Offer to take the ring to Hircine for Sinding, and he’ll thank you as well as tell you he won’t forget your kindness. After giving you the Ring of Hircine, Sinding will transform into a werewolf and escape his prison.
Hunting Down the Majestic Beast
Here’s where the Companions quest comes into play. The Cursed Ring of Hircine will automatically equip itself to your person, and you can not take it off until Ill Met By Moonlight is complete.
If you have started down the Companions questline, the Cursed Ring of Hircine will cause you to transform into a werewolf at random. Not an ideal thing to occur while in towns or villages for obvious reasons. If you haven’t begun the Companions questline yet, then the ring has zero effect on you.
If you already have the beast’s blood inside you, I recommend immediately fast-traveling into the wilderness. The majestic beast is a short distance northeast of Falkreath. Pinewatch is a safe place for you to travel to and close to the objective.
Take the exit east out of Falkreath and follow the road until the quest marker is close. Head up a nearby hill, and you’ll see a white stag near a pond. Kill it and then approach the corpse to be greeted by the Aspect of Hircine.
Hircine is still displeased with Sinding’s actions. He wants you to find him, kill him, then tear the hide from his body and use it as an offering to the Lord of the Hunt. Other hunters are on the hunt for Sinding, so don’t dally.
It turns out that Sinding is hiding out back at Bloated Man’s Grotto, so it’s time for round 2 through that cave.
Bloated Man’s Grotto Part 2
Fast-travel back to Bloated Man’s Grotto and head inside. All the wolves, bears, and spriggans will be gone. The Bloodmoon is out and about in the cave while this quest is active, and it makes it very hard to see hanging moss or mountain flowers to forage.
There’s a hunter’s campground in the first section of the cave now, but they aren’t doing so well. Speak with J’Kier, the lone survivor of his group, and he’ll tell you that Sinding was too strong for the hunters. He asks that you bring Sinding down for the glories of Lord Hircine before dying.
You can loot the hunters’ corpses if you want, but you’ll be disappointed. It’s all junk, and one hunter even came looking for a werewolf in just clothes. It’s no wonder Sinding kicked your butts, don’t wear crappy gear next time.
Loot the chests on the ledge and in the pool before heading to the next section of the cave. Sinding will be on a rock outcropping waiting for you. He’s surprised to see you.
Tell him that Hircine ordered you to kill himself, and he will ask that you consider sparing his life. He says that he could be a powerful ally to you and that he would remain in Bloated Man’s Grotto, forever away from civilized life.
At this point, you have three choices.
Side with Sinding
Agree to spare Sinding’s life, and he’ll ask that you join him in finishing off the rest of the hunters in the cave. Let’s get to work.
Make your way through the cave just like you did the first time around, and kill every hunter you see. You’ll notice that the Shrine of Talos has magically vanished. Maybe the Thalmor found it after all.
Sinding is not an essential companion and can die, so watch his back. He jumps right into the fray and is a big, easy target. He has the same low health indication dialogue as any humanoid character (No more! I yield! I yield!), so you’ll know when he’s close to dying. If you have the Healing Hands spell, that might help. Be especially careful if playing on Master or Legendary difficulty where the enemies are more dangerous.
There will be about ten hunters for you to deal with in the entirety of the cave. Like their deceased allies, these fellows are sport low-tier weapons and armor. Even at level 50+, the best I’ve seen is steel plate armor and steel weaponry. So they aren’t too tough to defeat.
After defeating the last group of hunters in the final section of the cave, speak with Sinding. He will thank you one last time and tell you he will work on making Bloated Man’s Grotto his home. With that, the quest is complete. Don’t forget to loot the Master-locked chest here again, then head outside. The Aspect of Hircine will be waiting for you.
Either tell Hircine that you couldn’t bring down Sinding, or you refuse to do his dirty work, but it makes no difference. The Lord of the Hunt was still thoroughly entertained by your hunting of the other hunters.
Amused and impressed by your abilities, Hircine gives you his blessing before disappearing. Check out the Cursed Ring of Hircine in your inventory, and you’ll see you no longer have it equipped, and it’s no longer cursed.
If you decide that Sinding must die, Sinding will accept his fate but run off to fight the other hunters regardless. Track him down and kill him so you can tear off his hide. Upon doing so, Hircine will appear before you.
He will praise your successful hunt and say that you have won his favor. He will also tell you to take a closer look at Sinding’s hide, for it will protect you from the dangers of the world. He will then disappear once more.
Look in your inventory, and you’ll see that Sinding’s hide has transformed into the Savior’s hide light armor.
Huh? Why would you kill everyone? So you can get both quest rewards, that’s why.
First, side with Sinding and help him kill all the hunters in the cave. After this, you may want to lead Sinding to the entrance of the cave to save a couple of minutes of backtracking. Speak with him as you would usually, then head outside.
Receive Hircine’s blessing and the Ring of Hircine, then drop the ring on the ground. Head back inside, and kill Sinding. You’ll notice that you still have the option to tear off his hide, even though the quest is technically complete.
Hircine will appear a second time and give you the Savior’s hide. Head back outside and pick up the Ring of Hircine. And that’s two birds killed with one stone. In the immortal words of Punchinello family goon number 137, wham, bam, thank you ma’am (Or wherever it is he got that from).
Now the Ill Met By Moonlight quest is complete.
Is the Ring of Hircine Good?
With the Ring of Hircine, you can transform into a werewolf as much as you want, anytime. Like the cursed version, it has no effect if you’re not already a werewolf.
Being a werewolf provides a fair share of fun, but it’s hardly a form that I would want to take on constantly. How good the Ring of Hircine is will depend on how much you like being a werewolf.
Is the Savior’s Hide Good?
No, but also yes.
The Savior’s Hide has a mid-tier base armor rating of 26. Not bad, but not great either. You need 60 Smithing for Arcane Smithing to improve its’ defenses and Ebony Smithing at level 80 to double those improvements. Once you’re well into the Fortify Smithing life, you can make a set of armor with the Savior’s Hide that can achieve the armor cap, but that’s a long way off.
It possesses double enchantments of 50% poison resistance and 15% magical resistance. You will seldom get poisoned in Skyrim, and while magic resistance is good, you can give yourself far better protection via self-crafted potions. As a result, it’s really just an early-mid game armor set.
But man, does it look cool or what? Maybe neanderthals in the olden days had the right idea about fashion sense. Unfortunately, there are no matching boots and gauntlets, but it looks incredible with Forsworn or Old Gods boots and gauntlets. The Gauldur Amulet is a nice touch, as well.
Keeping the Cursed Ring of Hircine
If you want to keep the Cursed Ring of Hircine, it’s 100% possible. You have to be a werewolf to make this happen.
Wander around until the ring makes you transform into a werewolf. After this happens, the Cursed Ring of Hircine will unequip itself from your person. Head to Bloated Man’s Grotto and complete the quest by siding with Sinding, but store the Cursed Ring of Hircine inside a chest. Head outside and receive the Ring of Hircine, then return to where you hid the cursed version. For some reason, it will still be there.
I guess even gods can forget things.
Question: Can I obtain Sinding as a companion?
Answer: No. While Sinding did say he could become your powerful ally, he actually can’t. Sinding is very wonky in Skyrim, and regardless of whether you kill him or not, he will be alive after the quest. It’s possible to run into him in the wilderness, strolling through Falkreath, or even back in his jail cell. Despite being a werewolf, no one reacts to his presence.
Question: Can you hook Sinding up with the Companions?
Answer: Nope. I thought this was a clear resolution to Sinding’s story, but you can’t have him join the Companions or tell them about Sinding.
Question: Are there adverse effects on your reputation in Falkreath after finishing this quest?
Answer: Oddly enough, no. The guards will occasionally accuse you of having something to do with Sinding’s escape, but that’s it. Not even Mathies or Indara seem to have a problem with their daughter’s murderer escaping justice. You can’t tell them you killed Sinding either.
Ill Met by Moonlight Guide: Conclusion
Overall I think Ill Met By Moonlight is a pretty good quest. There are some sweet rewards for early game players, and Savior’s Hide is one of my favorite armors in the game, aesthetically speaking.
I do wish I could’ve sent Sinding to the Companions, however. I feel like the resolution to this quest, if you spare Sinding, is a little underwhelming. And the fact that Sinding still roams around even when you kill him makes the whole experience feel more unsatisfying and as if your actions have no real impact.
But not every story can be a winner all across the board. There are plenty of other quests out there in Skyrim for us to take. Now, if you’ll excuse me, enjoy this parting shot of man’s best friend (And A Daedra’s Best Friend) while I go out and find them.