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My single favorite memory from my first Skyrim playthrough is when I decided to collect all of the game’s Daedric artifacts. These all-powerful items created by gods themselves looked great in my trophy room, and the quests to get them are some of Skyrim’s most unique and interesting.
Despite the clear effort that Bethesda put into all of these Daedric artifact quests, it’s possible for someone to play through Skyrim missing all of them but one. That one is Discerning the Transmundane, and it’s the quest that gives you the Oghma Infinium.
The Oghma Infinium quest is the only Daedric quest you’re guaranteed to find if you play through Skyrim’s main questline, making it arguably the most important of the bunch. Further, the Daedric Prince to which the Infinium belongs is Hermaeus Mora. That’s the same tentacle ridden-slimeball that you’re dealing with in the Dragonborn DLC.
It’s a rare case of a quest that was in vanilla Skyrim not only continuing onto a DLC but being retconned so that doing the DLC first influences it. That’s why I’ve put together an Oghma Infinium guide. Not only will I run you through the steps needed to get your hands on the artifact, but I’ll give you a bit of information about its lore, and tell you why you shouldn’t actually use it.
Key Details Up Front
- Location: Septimus Signus’s Outpost.
- Cost: None (quest completion).
- Effect: Gives +5 to all skills in one of Skyrim’s three classes.
- Related Quests: Discerning the Transmundane.
- Related Characters: Hermaeous Mora, Septimus Signus.
- Item Type: Book.
The Oghma Infinium is the artifact of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of knowledge and memory. It’s been present in several Elder Scrolls games and connects not only to the Daedric Princes but to the elven and Khajiit gods, as well.
Despite being in the possession of Hermaeus Mora, the Oghma Infinium was actually written by an elven god called Xarxes. This god belongs to the pantheon worshipped by the Altmer and Bosmer, with the former actually forming their orderly cities according to Xarxes’ will.
Xarxes is commonly known as the elven god of death, being closely associated with Arkay and Redguard god Tu’whacca. As well as this, Xarxes served as the scribe to Auri-El, the head of the elven pantheon and adjacent to Akatosh.
Despite serving Auri-El, Hermaeus Mora claims that Xarxes was a devout follower of his. Herma Mora claims to have given Xarxes his knowledge, which he wrote down in the Oghma Infinium. While we don’t actually know the contents of the Infinium, we can make some assumptions based on this. Chiefly, that it’s a tome of ever-spanning knowledge not too dissimilar to an Elder Scroll.
The Oghma Infinium is actually named after Xarxes’ wife, Oghma. Xarxes created Oghma from his favorite moments in history. That, combined with the added “Infinium” leads me to believe it’s a tome containing knowledge on the infinite history of Nirn. There is no lore to back that up, however.
Interestingly, we do get a look at one of the Infinium’s pages in Skyrim. The page has a rune on it, although it doesn’t appear as though that rune appears anywhere else or has been translated.
Discerning the Transmundane
Speak with Septimus Signus
You obtain the Oghma Infinium through the Discerning the Transmundane quest. To get this quest, you need to speak with a man called Septimus Signus. Septimus is a scholar living in a cave in the ice fields North of Winterhold.
Skyrim’s main questline will actually send you to him once you get the Elder Knowledge quest. Both Elder Knowledge and Discerning the Transmundane run side by side. However, you can get Discerning the Transmundane any time during your playthrough. Completing it before Elder Knowledge will save you from having to visit Blackreach later on in your playthrough.
When you speak with Septimus, he’ll tell you about a Dwarven lockbox located in this cave that he’s trying to open. He’s convinced that the lockbox contains the “heart of a god”, referring to the Heart of Lorkhan for any lore buffs reading along.
Septimus will tell you that the instructions for opening the lockbox can be obtained from an Elder Scroll that the Dwemer had in their possession. This is the same Elder Scroll you seek in Elder Knowledge.
According to Septimus, the Dwemer managed to create a device capable of reading and transcribing the contents of the Elder Scroll. He’ll give you a Blank Lexicon on which to inscribe the instructions, and an Attunement Sphere needed to enter Blackreach so that you can reach the Tower of Mzark, the location where the scroll is housed.
Reach the Tower of Mzark and Obtain the Elder Scroll
To reach the Tower of Mzark, you need to go through Blackreach. To get to Blackreach, you need to get through the ruins of Alftand, so that’s where you’re going first. Alftand is a fairly straightforward Dwemer ruin. There are a few different levels to it, but all you need to worry about is a few Spiders, Spheres, and some Falmer. It’s nothing too complicated.
Eventually, you’ll end up in the Alftand Cathedral. There, you’ll need to fight a Dwarven Centurion. This Centurion has a key that you need to continue through Alftand, so you can’t skip this boss fight.
After the Centurion, you’ll come across a Redguard woman and Imperial man having an argument. If you let your inner voyeur get the better of you, you can stay hidden and listen to them bicker. Eventually, the two will fight. The winner of the fight is unscripted, but they will attack you after you reveal yourself. Alternatively, you can rush them, causing both of them to put aside their differences to mess your day up.
You’ll want to deal with them in some capacity, though. The Redguard woman has the unique Targe of the Blooded shield. The shield itself isn’t too great, but it looks awesome and super unique compared to Skyrim’s other shields, so try not to miss it.
At this point, the Alftand dungeon would be complete. You can take the elevator to the surface, but that doesn’t mean you’re done. There’s a pedestal in the final room of the dungeon. If you place the Attunement Sphere Septimus gave you onto the pedestal, a staircase to Blackreach will open up. This is the only way to reach Blackreach.
Take the staircase down to Blackreach and you’ll be greeted with one of the most visually stunning areas in the entire game. It’s well worth exploring the area if you’ve never been here before. Once you’re done in Blackreach, follow your quest marker and jog on over to the Tower of Mzark.
The Tower of Mzark is a simple area. There are no enemies or loot that you need to worry about. Instead, head up to the highest point of the tower and you’ll be on a platform overlooking a Dwarven Oculory. On the platform, there will be a slot for you to put the Blank Lexicon into. Once done, two of the buttons in front of you will light up and present you with a puzzle. To complete the puzzle, follow these instructions:
- Press the third button from the left four times.
- Press the second button twice.
- Press the first button once.
Do this, and you can take the now inscribed Lexicon out of the slot, as well as the Elder Scroll which has revealed itself in the center of the Oculory.
Return the Lexicon to Septimus
Leave the Tower of Mzark and return to Septimus. He’ll take the Lexicon and tell you that he needs some time to study it and to leave him alone. So, that’s exactly what you’re going to do.
Upon trying to leave Septimus’ ice cave, you’ll be greeted by the “Wretched Abyss”. This is actually Hermaeous Mora, and he will remember you if you’ve completed the Dragonborn DLC. If not, he’ll remember you in the DLC after this encounter.
Herma Mora will seem to present you with a choice here, but it doesn’t matter what option you pick. The outcome is the same either way. Finish up the conversation, and leave the cave.
At this point, you’re locked out of Discerning the Transmundane until you’re level 15. If you’re below that threshold, go do some adventuring. Once you hit the level requirement, Septimus will send a messenger after you. If you’re already level 15, you can head straight back in to continue with the next part of the quest.
Collect Blood From Skyrim’s Elven Races
Septimus will tell you that he needs Dwemer blood to open the lockbox. Needless to say, that presents a bit of a problem. However, he believes that he can forge the blood by mixing blood belonging to Skyrim’s various elven races. He’ll give you an Essence Extractor and tell you to bring him back a sample from each. You need blood from:
- A High Elf.
- A Dark Elf.
- A Wood Elf.
- An Orc.
- A Falmer.
Now, you can’t exactly just head to Whiterun and run a blood drive. You can only use the extractor on NPCs that are dead. So, unless you’re willing to kill some of your buddies for a blood donation, you’ll need to go elf-hunting.
There are no locations in the entire game that contain all of the races you need for the extractor, but Liar’s Retreat has all of them except a High Elf. So, that’s probably your best bet. After that, it’s just a matter of taking a short trip to the Thalmor Embassy, which you should have already reached in the main story at this point.
Once you have a sample from each race, return to Septimus in his cave.
Open the Dwarven Lockbox
Give Septimus the extractor, and he’ll open the Dwemer lockbox. Rather than finding the Heart of Lorkhan, though, all that the box contains is the Oghma Infinium. Given that Herma Mora appeared to you earlier, this shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.
Septimus will be all shock and awe before promptly disintegrating into a pile of ash. Pick up the Infinium for yourself, have another chat with your buddy Herma, and Discerning the Transmundane will be complete.
+5 to Each Skill From One of Three Classes
Compared to the other Daedric artifacts in Skyrim, the Oghma Infinium is pretty disappointing. This is mainly because you lose it after you use it. It’s the only artifact in the game that does this. Therefore, I stronglyrecommend you don’t use it. Instead, put it in a display case in your house so that it can look all pretty. That’s what I always do, at least.
If you do decide to read the Infinium, you’ll be presented with a choice. The book will add +5 to every single skill in one of the game’s three classes, being thief, mage, or warrior. Admittedly, this is a free 30 skill points and an easy level or two, but you’re not going to be using every skill in a class, anyways. After you make your choice, the Infinium will disappear from your inventory, returning to Hermaeous Mora in his realm of Apocrypha.
How to Obtain
Complete Discerning the Transmundane
To get your hands on the Oghma Infinium, you need to complete the quest Discerning the Transmundane. Despite being a Daedric artifact side quest, you’ll actually get the quest if you follow Skyrim’s main questline.
During the quest Elder Knowledge, you’ll be sent to speak with Septimus Signus. Septimus will give you Discerning the Transmundane. Both of these quests require you to go to the Tower of Mzark to retrieve an Elder Scroll.
I’ve included a full walkthrough for Discerning the Transmundane in this guide, so it shouldn’t give you any trouble.
Question: What happens when you read the Oghma Infinium?
Answer: When you read the Oghma Infinium, you’ll be given the ability to add +5 points to all the skills in one of Skyrim’s three classes. You can select either warrior, thief, or mage. After you read it, it will disappear from your inventory and will no longer be obtainable.
Question: Should I keep the Oghma Infinium?
Answer: That depends on your playstyle. The Oghma Infinium serves no purpose beyond the skill points it gives you, but reading it causes the book to disappear. If you prefer to show off your unique items and Daedric artifacts as trophies in your home, you should not read it.
Question: Can I read the Oghma Infinium more than once?
Answer: Legally, no. The Oghma Infinium is intended to be a one-and-done book. However, depending on the version of Skyrim you’re playing, it may be possible to drop the Infinium after reading it, allowing you to pick it back up to read again. If this exploit is not patched out on your version of Skyrim, it is repeatable and an easy way to max out all of your skills.
Oghma Infinium Guide: Conclusion
That’s all I’ve got for you in this Oghma Infinium guide. The Infinium is interesting in that it’s the artifact belonging to Skyrim’s most prevalent Daedric Prince. Hermaeous Mora appears as a central character in Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC, something that none of the other Daedric Princes can claim. The fact that Herma also remembers you between the base game and DLC is a nice bit of continuity that Bethesda didn’t have to include.
The Oghma Infinium itself isn’t a spectacular item as far as the artifacts go. It’s no Mehrunes’ Razor. The fact that you lose it after you use it is a massive shame, so much so that I advise people not to read it. However, if you’re more practical than me, feel free.
I hope you managed to discern (get it? Because of Discerning the Transmundane?) something of value from this Oghma Infinium guide. The artifact can be a pain to get, even though the first part of its quest is required for Skyrim’s main questline. The hardest part of the whole ordeal is getting blood from all of Skyrim’s elven races, but if you head to Liar’s Retreat as I recommend, you’ll have your hands on the Infinium in no time.