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The Elder Scrolls series is as high fantasy as it gets. It has mages that float around in giant mushroom towers and Nords who can send men flying (Or worse) with their Voices. It has talking mudcrab merchants who buy and sell goods and store them, uh, somewhere.
And it has drugs. What would a game world be without its’ own illegal, addictive substances after all? One of the most prominent narcotics in Tamriel is the drug known as skooma. Since its’ inception, several variations have emerged, all of them dangerous like the original.
Even in a world where you can shoot fireballs from your hands and summon demons from Oblivion to fight for you, the temptation of drugs is still prevalent. Let’s take a deep dive into one of Tamriel’s most potent narcotics.
What is Skooma?
Skooma is a refined version of Elswyr’s moon sugar. The Dunmer invented skooma at an unknown date by mixing it with the plant nightshade. It made its debut in Morrowind and has appeared in every main installment of the series ever since.
Skooma being an invention of the Dunmer and not the Khajiit is a surprise. The Khajiit have a special connection to moon sugar, seeing the substance in a religious light and referring to it as crystallized moonlight. In their native Elswyr, the Khajiit consume moon sugar every day as a seasoning on dishes, and it has a place in religious ceremonies.
People caution foreigners that travel to Elswyr to be careful of what they consume due to the Khajiit’s casual moon sugar use. If anyone were to create a more potent form of moon sugar, you’d think it would be Tamriel’s native cat people.
Skooma is incredibly potent and seemingly equally dangerous to all races. The humanoid and elven races of Tamriel are at risk of suffering adverse side effects from consuming moon sugar. But unless consumed excessively, the Khajiit are highly resistant.
That remains the case with skooma, but the Khajiit are more likely to fall into addiction. The Khajiit are known to have an insatiable sweet tooth and may be more prone to overconsumption of skooma in search of that sugar high. After all, what can be sweeter than moon sugar on steroids?
Sheogorath the Skooma Cat
Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, has long been a prominent Daedric Prince in Khajiit culture. The Khajiit call Sheogorath the Skooma Cat because they think nothing is crazier than a cat on skooma. Many believe that skooma acts as a medium that allows mortals to communicate with Sheogorath.
Sheogorath takes his status as Skooma Cat seriously, appearing in Elswyr as an Alfiq, the variant of Khajiit that resembles house cats.
How Do You Use Skooma?
Skooma is consumed via a skooma pipe (Similar to real-life hookah bubblers) or straight from the bottle if in liquid form. As far as I can tell, there has been no indication whether smoking skooma makes it more potent than drinking it or vice-versa.
What are the Positive Effects of Skooma in Lore?
Those under the effects of skooma will experience extended bouts of euphoria, otherwise known as the highest of highs. The effects of skooma are significantly more potent than that of moon sugar. The elated sensation one feels when using skooma is why it is so easy for people to slip into addiction.
What are the Negative Effects of Skooma in Lore?
The euphoria that comes from skooma use doesn’t last forever, and when it ends, users come down with immediate cases of lethargy.
People can be completely functional skooma users. However, excessive use brings on the risk of long-term negative side effects. Some of these effects are mental deterioration (Which may lead to fits of violent outbursts) and a decline in vocal abilities. Heavily addicted users will often find themselves in a flux of delusion-induced euphoria and perpetual fatigue. In a worst-case scenario, addicts are left permanently confused and mentally capacitated.
And those are the negative side effects of good skooma.
It is not uncommon for Skooma dealers to produce the narcotic with bad batches of moon sugar. Widely called tainted skooma, consumption can result in extreme side effects, including death. There is also an inherent risk in using skooma due to the primary ingredient that makes it possible: nightshade.
Nightshade is a toxic plant, primarily used as an essential ingredient in poisons. As such, improper mixing of nightshade and moon sugar won’t end well. The afterlife is the only high that users of incorrectly made skooma will see.
Can You Cure Skooma Addiction?
It is commonly believed among the Khajiit that skooma addiction has no cure. But that’s not the case.
There exists a book called Confessions of a Dunmer Skooma Eater. The author, Tilse Sendas, was once addicted to skooma but overcame her addiction. She achieved this by letting go of her shame and self-hatred of becoming a skooma addict and renouncing skooma and the enticing pleasures it offers.
You can read the book for yourself in both Morrowind and Skyrim. In Riften, you can help an Argonian get over her skooma addiction just by giving her a health potion. But I would assume that’s purely a game design choice for quest simplicity, and curing addiction isn’t that simple.
What are the Effects of Skooma in-game?
Base value: 500
- Fortify Strength by 20 points for 60 seconds
- Fortify Speed by 20 points for 60 seconds
- Drain Agility by 20 points for 60 seconds
- Drain Intelligence by 20 points for 60 seconds
Stacked bottles of skooma can turn you into an offensive powerhouse for a brief time, and the speed boost is similar to putting on the Boots of Blinding Speed. However, the drop in Agility means you will be less accurate, and it will be easier for enemies to knock you to the ground (But the Strength increase means you should be able to take the hits). Using skooma in battle is the sword and shield version of spray and pray.
Skooma is a great way to make a hasty escape due to the Speed increase. It not only makes you run faster but also increases the leaping distance when jumping forward. Be careful, however, as it does not provide heightened protection from fall damage.
Most skooma you find in Morrowind will be in smugglers’ dens, shipwrecks, or Camonna Tong territories. With a base value of 500, selling skooma is a great way to make money. If you know someone willing to do buy, that is. The vast majority of merchants in Morrowind will not purchase skooma. They refuse to do any business with you if you have it in your inventory.
Several merchants in Morrowind sell skooma:
- Ashumanu Eraishah: Suran Tradehouse in Suran
- Andilu Drothan: Lower Waistworks in Vivec Foreign Quarter
- Creeper: Ghorak Manor in Caldera
Six merchants in Morrowind will purchase skooma:
- Ajira: Balmora Mages Guild
- Baissa: Upper Waistworks in Vivec Foreign Quarter
- Creeper: Ghorak Manor in Caldera
- J’Rasha: Eastern canalworks in Vivec Foreign Quarter
- Mudcrab Merchant: On an island east of Mzahnch, which is east of Ald Sotha
- Ra’virr: In a trader shop next to Mages Guild in Balmora
The mudcrab and Creeper are the best traders to sell skooma to since they buy items for base value.
Best Places to Obtain Skooma in Morrowind
Ashumanu sells four bottles of skooma, which is a decent amount. However, given how expensive skooma is in Morrowind, you’re better off procuring it by other means. For example, there are four bottles on the top floor of the Suran Tradehouse where Ashumanu resides.
You can steal a lot of skooma from the Dren Plantation east of Pelagiad and the Gro-Bagrat Plantation north of Vivec. Both are run by the Camonna Tong and heavily guarded. If you get caught, you’re probably dead.
Base value: 75
- Fortify Strength by 60 points for 20 seconds
- Fortify Speed by 60 points for 20 seconds
- Drain Agility by 60 points for 20 seconds
- Damage Intelligence by 2 points
The value of skooma plummeted in Oblivion, which is odd given it’s rarer in Cyrodiil than in Morrowind. Nevertheless, the positive effects have been increased threefold, and stacking them results in hilarious shenanigans. Imagine The Flash if he was a drug addict.
Even though Oblivion takes place in Cyrodiil, the heart of the Empire that banned skooma, merchants here buy and sell it as they would any other item. Given skooma’s heavily reduced base value, increased positive effects, and rarity, selling it is no longer particularly recommended. Those temporary buffs really come in handy for melee fighters.
Best Places to Obtain Skooma in Oblivion
Nordinor, at The Fair Deal in Bravil, is a skooma dealer with a respawning supply of five bottles of skooma. Skooma is a lot cheaper in Oblivion than in Morrowind, so it’s okay to purchase it rather than steal it all the time.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore good thievery opportunities, however. Also in Bravil is a Skooma Den above Carandial’s house. The people inside are high as kites, and all have a lot of skooma on their persons. They aren’t hard to pickpocket, either.
Trenus Duronius in the Imperial City is a secret skooma addict, and you can raid his house for 15 bottles of skooma. Easy pickings.
- Base value: 25
- Positive effects: Restore 25 stamina
- Negative effects: None
No, you didn’t read that wrong. And no, I didn’t type that wrong. In Skyrim, skooma is a glorified potion of minor stamina. Just look how they massacred my boy. I don’t understand how moon sugar on steroids is somehow just a stamina pick-me-up with no adverse side effects.
Now I will give Bethesda a little slack here. Members of Skyrim’s criminal element state that skooma here is a watered-down version and not as potent as skooma in other parts of Tamriel. But stepped-on cocaine is still cocaine. There should still be some downsides to using it for the player.
I understand skooma cannot have the same effects that it did in the previous entries in the series. After all, attributes don’t exist in Skyrim. But surely Bethesda could do better than stamina restoration?
Like in Oblivion, merchants have no issue buying skooma despite its’ illegality. You can purchase it from any of the Khajiit caravans. My only problem with this is the Khajiit caravans having diluted skooma. I think it would’ve made sense for them to have authentic skooma rather than the watered-down version for obvious reasons.
Considering the cultural importance moon sugar and skooma have in Elswyr, I would’ve like to see one of them give the Dragonborn a quest.
They are offended by Skyrim’s cheap imitation of skooma and want you to put the dealers peddling it out of business. Doing so would give them room in the market as the sole seller of skooma, the authentic kind to boot. Wishful thinking, I suppose.
The Dawnstar DLC opens up access to redwater skooma. Found exclusively in Redwater Den, it restores 40 points of stamina. Unlike regular skooma in Skyrim, it has negative effects. These effects are very similar to those of Sleeping Tree Sap.
Your vision becomes blurred, your movement slowed, and the environment becomes a haze of red and purple. Unlike the skooma in Morrowind or Oblivion, the pros don’t outweigh the cons, so there’s no reason to use it.
It turns out that Redwater Den is a vampire coven, and their unique flavor of skooma is made utilizing the Bloodspring that lies within. They prey on skooma addicts as an easy source of blood.
Best Places to Obtain Skooma in Skyrim
Every Khajiit caravan in Skyrim sells 5-6 bottles of skooma, so getting the drug is no problem in the land of the Nords. After that, I suggest heading to Riften and going through the local quests to become Thane of Riften. Along the way, you’ll go through the Riften Warehouse and Cragslane Cavern, both home to skooma dealers and smugglers. Clearing out both locations will net you almost 20 bottles of skooma.
As you would expect, redwater skooma is obtainable at Redwater Den. If your Speech skill is high, you can convince the dealer to give you free samples of redwater skooma over and over.
The Elder Scrolls Online
ESO is the most confusing game yet when it comes to skooma.
Characters talk about skooma, and there are skooma smugglers in-game, and Sheogorath appears in ESO as the Skooma Cat. There’s even a recipe for an item called the Khajiit Skooma Bubbler. But despite all this, players do not have access to skooma at all.
I can’t blame Bethesda for this one, but I can still be confused by the game design choices made here.
Quests Involving Skooma
The Corpse and the Skooma Pipe:
Find the body of Ernil Omoran north of Balmora. Retrieve the skooma pipe and note from his body and deliver them to Tsiya in Balmora (Or lie about not finding any items on Ernil).
Ahnassi, a Special Friend:
Finishing this quest involves completing many small quests for Ahnassi. One of those quests requires you to help her friend J’Dhannar get over his skooma addiction. You do this by giving him a copy of the book Confessions of a Dunmer Skooma-Eater.
The Short Unhappy Life of Danar Uvelas
Speak to women inside the Brewers and Fishmongers Hall in the St. Olms Canton in Vivec to learn a lady’s husband is missing. Speak to Moroni Uvelas, who tells you her husband is a skooma addict, and she’s worried he may have contracted corprus. Look for him (Now a Corprus Stalker) in the Underworks. Kill him, retrieve the husband’s ring from his body, and return it to Moroni to finish the quest.
Rabinna’s Inner Beauty
Speak with Relam Arinith in the Fatleg’s Drop Off in Hla Oad. He wants you to deliver the slave Rabinna to Vorar Helas (A Camonna Tong member) in Balmora as Rabinna is a moon sugar mule. You can do as he asks, which results in Vorar killing Rabinna or assist Rabinna by taking her to Im-Kilaya at the Argonian Mission in Ebonheart.
While not confirmed, the Camonna Tong are involved in skooma dealing in Morrowind. It’s possible the moon sugar inside Rabinna would be used to create skooma.
Raid on Greyland
Speak with Lerexus Callidus near the western gate of Leyawiin. He’s an Imperial guard who wants your help in wiping out a group of skooma dealers located at the nearby Greyland settlement. Head to Greyland and kill the Dunmer leader Kylius Lonavo and his friend. Retrieve Lonavo’s ring off his body and return to Lerexus to receive your reward.
The Lonely Wanderer
If you are a member of the Dark Brotherhood, you’ll receive a contract from Ocheeva to kill a man named Faelian. He’s a High Elf in the Imperial City and an active skooma user. He has a girlfriend named Atraena who will tell you that he was a fine man before falling into skooma addiction.
Improve Atraena’s disposition towards you or bribe Faelian with skooma to learn he hands out at Lorkmir’s house during the day. Head there, wait for Faelian to arrive, then kill him. Head back to Ocheeva to finish the quest.
The Lady of Paranoia
Caldana Monrius is a wandering skooma addict on the streets of Crucible, New Sheoth. During The Lady of Paranoia quest, you need to investigate who wants Lady Syl dead. Caldana can be a source of information for this quest, and it’s easy to get on her good side due to her never-ending cravings for skooma.
An Argonian in Riften named Wujeeta is at risk of losing her job due to her skooma addiction and wants your help curing it. Give Wujeeta any healing potion to cure her. The questline doesn’t end there, however.
Speak with Wujeeta further about the skooma trade in the area to learn the dealer’s identity: Sarthis. You can report to the Jarl of Riften about your findings and be immediately dispatched to the Riften Warehouse to kill Sarthis and company.
Supply and Demand
After killing Sarthis, loot his corpse for a note that will continue the questline. The note will reveal that his skooma supplier is in Cragslane Cavern. Head back to the Jarl, who will send you to Craglane to eliminate the source of skooma.
You’ll have way more enemies to deal with than at Riften Warehouse, but it’s not too bad. Kill everyone inside, then report your success to the Jarl of Riften for your reward.
Depending on how many other people you’ve assisted in Riften, completing this quest may have the Jarl make you the Thane of Riften.
No One Escapes Cidhna Mine
In the first leg of the, No One Escapes Cidhna Mine quest, to see Madanach, you must first give Borkul the Beast a shiv. You can obtain a shiv by trading Grisvar the Unlucky a bottle of skooma.
The Bloodstone Chalice
If you side with Harkon in the Dawnguard DLC main questline, you will go on a quest that takes you through Redwater Cavern, which is secretly a skooma den where they make redwater skooma. Redwater Cavern can serve as your source of redwater skooma from this point forward.
Some Light Theft
Speak with the Argonian Stands-In-Shallows at the Argonian Assemblage in Windhelm. He is a skooma addict going through withdrawal and wants you to steal some Double-Distilled Skooma from the New Gnisis Cornerclub for him.
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Family Business
Speak with Azbi-ra at the Speckled Shell Plantation to learn about the family moon sugar plantation burning down. Azbi-ra would like your help figuring out what happened.
It turns out the situation is a little complicated and involves someone making skooma. As you complete your investigation, you’ll have to decide what will happen to this family business.
Find a note at one of three Crosstree bandit camps near Khenarthi’s roost. Read to note to discover that the bandits took a young Khajiit to Hazark’s Hollow. Travel to Hazark’s Hollow until you run into a Khajiit named Zulana. The kidnapped Khajiit, Khari, is her son. She asks that you go inside Hazark’s Hollow and rescue him.
Make your way through Hazark’s Hollow, killing bandits as you go until you find and free Khari. He doesn’t want to leave without killing Hazark. Agree to help him, enter Hazark’s Lair, and kill the bandit leader. Exit Hazark’s Hollow and reunite Khari with his mother. It turns out that Hazark was husband and father to Zulana and Khari. However, he became a skooma addicted and abandoned them to become a dealer and smuggler.
Clan Mother Shuzura wants you to help her people with their problems, so speak with the farmer Ezzag. People are stealing his crops during the night, and he wants your help in ending the thefts. He is sure that nearby bandits are responsible. Head for Old S’ren-ja Cave and kill the bandits inside. They stole moon sugar from Ezzag to create skooma Rakhad, a skooma supplier. After killing the common bandits, their leader, Zurana will approach you and offer to make a deal.
Deal with Zurana peacefully or violently, then report back to Ezzag to complete the quest.
After helping all the people of S’ren-ja with their woes, speak with the Clanmother. Rakhad seems to have involvement in every problem of her town, so she wants you to deal with him. You can find him in Cleft Rock Cave. Unlike with Zurana, there is no chance of peaceful resolution, so put the troublesome skooma supplier out of his misery.
After taking care of Rakhad, head back to the Clanmother to finish the quest.
A Pinch of Sugar
Juranda-ra at Laughing Moons Plantation has a problem. There is a rat infestation at her farm, and a Thalmor inspection is coming up. Cinder-Tail has several senche-tigers, but they aren’t doing their job to dispose of the rats. If they won’t kill rats, they won’t kill thieves who want Juranda’s moon sugar to make skooma, either. Juranda wants you to find a solution to her problems.
Speak with Cinder-Tail and discover that the tigers were killing the rats. However, the rats consumed moon sugar, and thus the tigers did as well. As a result, the tigers have become lazy. Cinder-Tail suggests that in the meantime, you steal a couple of Thunderbug Eggs, lead them to nearby rat nests, then let them kill the rats for you.
You will need to do this for five rat nests. Once finished, head back to Juranda to find her with the Thalmor inspector. She will thank you for saving her farm.
Speak with Shazar the Sibilant outside the Moonlit Cove Temple. He will tell you that skooma smugglers have turned the place into a skooma distillery and have tainted the holy waters inside. He asks that you get rid of the defilers and then dispel the tainted water into the sea.
Kill all the pirates you come across, and drink water from each of the five shines. Return to Shazar, and he will tell you to vomit into the sea. Speak with Shazar again to finish the quest and receive your reward.
The Champion Division
The Grand Champion Ishalga is the only person left for you to challenge. As Grand Champion, she gets to dictate the tournament’s rules if someone challenges her. Ishalga wants you to steal some skooma from the office of Feluni. It turns out to be a trap, and she’s sent goons to the office to ambush and kill you. Take care of them before you challenge the Grand Champion to a fight in the arena.
Miscellaneous Skooma Fun Facts
- In the Elder Scrolls novel The Infernal City (Which I highly recommend you read, along with the sequel Lord of Souls), there are skooma smugglers in the Black Marsh city of Lilmoth. All across Tamriel, skooma is a problem.
- In Morrowind, you can use a good skooma pipe as an alembic for alchemical purposes.
- Despite Ashumanu Eraishah being one of the few merchants to sell skooma in Morrowind, she refuses to do business with you if you have any.
- Even though Dunmer invented skooma by mixing it with nightshade, the poisonous plant is not present in Morrowind. Ironically enough, nightshade is native to Elswyr.
- The keyword of Sottilde’s Thieves Guild Code Book is skooma
- Saint Jiub the Eradicator was a skooma addict before turning his life around
- You can get around Oblivion’s four potions per minute rule to stack an excessive amount of skooma on top of one another. You haven’t played The Elder Scrolls pre-Skyrim era unless you break a game or two with consumables.
- There’s a weapon and armor set in ESO called the Skooma Smuggler
- A real-life version of skooma exists. Tread lightly.
Question: Can the player create skooma in any Elder Scrolls game?
Answer: Unfortunately, not yet. Even though the ingredients for skooma are present in both Oblivion and Skyrim, we can’t make it. I’d love to truly roleplay as a skooma dealer, so Bethesda, make this possible someday.
Question: How hard is it to find skooma?
Answer: For players making repeat runs through Morrowind or Oblivion, it’s child’s play since we remember where to find them. If you have the pleasure of experiencing these games for the first time, skooma will be a pretty rare find. It’s easy to get in Skyrim since you can buy it from Khajiit caravans, but it’s also no longer fun to use.
Question: Does skooma have additional purposes like moon sugar?
Answer: No. While moon sugar is an alchemical and cooking ingredient, skooma is only a consumable drink.
Skooma Guide: Conclusion
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is everything you need to know about the most dangerous drug in Tamriel. There have been highs and lows in the series, and it’s been 16 years since skooma was fun to use. I’m hoping the downward trend doesn’t continue in the next Elder Scrolls game when it comes out in 2056.
Everyone is clamoring about where TES 6 will be based, and a game in Elswyr would surely bring the drug back to its’ former glory. Until then, we always have the glorious modders of the Skyrim community to spice things up. And, of course, Morrowind and Oblivion. Just be careful, though. Those games are as addictive as skooma itself.