The Atronach Forge is one of the best open secrets in all of Skyrim. It’s easily missed and even easier to underutilize due to how vague everything surrounding it is. It’s one of those things where it must’ve been a nightmare for the first players to decipher it.
But more than a decade later, we have this mysterious arcane dais all figured out. By using this guide, you’ll be able to learn everything you need to utilize the Atronach Forge in the most effective ways possible. There’s a lot to take in and plenty of mistakes you’ll want to avoid, so let’s get started.
What Is The Atronach Forge?
The Atronach Forge is a magical device that you can find beneath the College of Winterhold. It can conjure up various Daedra and items via unknown means by putting things into the offering box and activating the pullbar.
You must enter the dungeon known as The Midden via one of two trapdoors within the college to find it. Before you can do so, you must join the College of Winterhold yourself.
The first trapdoor is in the college’s courtyard, left of the Hall of the Elements entrance. The second is under the stairwell in the Hall of Countenance. Once inside, make your way through the Midden, and you’ll quickly discover the Atronach Forge.
History of the Atronach Forge
On the table next to the Atronach Forge are the Atronach Forge Manual, a ruby, and some fire salts. The manual belongs to a conjurer who presumably invented the device. He must’ve lived a long time ago as he directly mentions Sadrith Mora, which was wiped out during the Red Year several hundred years ago.
He left the manual for his nephew, then a student at the college, so that he may use it himself. Unfortunately, he lost most of his notes while traveling around Skyrim. With luck, his nephew may stumble across some of them.
The second part of the journal’s entries presumably belongs to the nephew. He has figured out the basic functionality of the device. There appears to be a pedestal above the offering box meant for some spherical object. He has not discovered what it is.
He has been experimenting with various items to positive and negative outcomes but has only discovered three recipes for the Atronach Forge: summons for the Flame, Storm, and Frost Atronachs. Without his uncle’s notes, all he can do is trial and error to discover more viable recipes. You will have to do the same.
Or you can keep reading this guide and take out all the guesswork.
Atronach Forge Recipes
Uncle conjurer’s notes exist in Skyrim in the form of Atronach Forge recipes. You can find them in various locations in Skyrim, primarily in areas occupied by necromancers. However, these recipes are exceedingly rare finds, and you can play for dozens of hours and not find any.
And even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to understand them since they’re in Daedric. Again, how did the first players to figure this thing out do so without a guide? They deserve a medal. There are 23 recipes in total for The Atronach Forge. Here they are as well as the ingredients necessary to bring them to life:
- Flame Atronach: 1 Ruby and 1 Fire Salts
- Frost Atronach: 1 Sapphire and 1 Frost Salts
- Storm Atronach: 1 Amethyst and 1 Void Salts
- Random unbound Dremora: Sigil Stone, 1 Skull, 1 Daedra Heart, 1 Dog Meat/Horker Meat/Mammoth Snout/Leg of Goat/Horse Meat
- Conjure Flame Atronach Spell Tome: 1 Ruined Book, 1 Fire Salts, 1 Dragon’s Tongue, 1 Bear Pelt
- Conjure Frost Atronach Spell Tome: 1 Ruined Book, 1 Frost Salts, 1 Frost Mirriam, 1 Ice Wolf Pelt
- Conjure Storm Atronach Spell Tome: 1 Ruined Book, 1 Void Salts, 1 Mammoth Tusk, 1 Deathbell
- Soul Trap Spell Tome: 1 Ruined Book, 1 Salt Pile, 1 Torchbug Thorax, 1 Soul Gem (Any)
- Staff of the Flame Atronach: 1 Broom, 1 Fire Salts, 1 Corundum ore/ingot, 1 Soul Gem (Greater or above)
- Staff of the Frost Atronach: 1 Broom, 1 Frost Salts, 1 Refined Moonstone/Ore, 1 Soul Gem (Greater or above)
- Scroll of Conjure Flame Atronach: 1 Roll of Paper, 1 Fire Salts, 1 Charcoal
- Scroll of Conjure Frost Atronach: 1 Roll of Paper, 1 Frost Salts, 1 Charcoal
- Scroll of Storm Atronach: 1 Roll of Paper, 1 Void Salts, 1 Charcoal
- Conjurer’s Elixir: 1 Empty Wine Bottle, 1 Ectoplasm, 1 Soul Gem (Any)
- Fire Salts: 1 Salt Pile, 1 Ruby, 1 Soul Gem (Any)
- Frost Salts: 1 Salt Pile, 1 Sapphire, 1 Soul Gem (Any)
- Void Salts: 1 Salt Pile, 1 Amethyst, 1 Soul Gem (Any)
- Daedra Heart: Sigil Stone, 1 Human Heart, 1 Black Soul Gem
- Daedric Armor (Chosen piece, no enchantment): Sigil Stone, 1 Daedric Heart, 1 unenchanted ebony armor, 1 Centurion Dynamo Core, 1 Black Soul Gem
- Daedric Weapon (Chosen weapon, no enchantment): Sigil Stone, 1 Daedric Heart, 1 unenchanted ebony weapon (Arrows not allowed), 1 Centurion Dynamo Core, 1 Black Soul Gem
- Daedric Armor (Random piece and enchantment): Sigil Stone, 1 Daedric Heart, 1 Ebony Ingot, 1 Void Salts, 1 Soul Gem (Greater or higher)
- Deadric Weapon (Random piece and enchantment): Sigil Stone, 1 Daedric Heart, 1 Ebony Ingot, 1 Silver Sword or Silver Greatsword, 1 Soul Gem (Greater or higher)
Now that we’ve gone over the recipes and ingredients, thoroughly explore The Midden if you haven’t already (Not The Midden Dark) and take note of the items you see. Torchbug thorax, brooms, skulls, rubies, dragon’s tongue, empty wine bottles, ruined books, etc. In other words, all ingredients for the Atronach Forge! Pretty nifty, huh? I still wonder how Bethesda thought people would figure it out.
And therein lies the reason why so many players get stumped by the Atronach Forge without consulting a guide. Some of the items are ones you’d never think twice to pick up. Did you think of grabbing the broom on your way out the door in the escape from Helgen Keep?
You’ll come across a library’s worth of ruined books in Skyrim, but with a terrible weight to value ratio, what reason would there be to grab them?
When you’re browsing the wares of the general goods trader, did rolls of paper ever catch your eye? I assume the answer to all those questions is no for 99% of Skyrim players. But we’re here now, and we know what we need. Let’s go over which recipes are worth cooking up and which are junk.
Best Atronach Forge Recipes
Random Enchanted Daedric Equipment
The random enchanted Daedric equipment is easily the best recipe for the Atronach Forge. If you get lucky, you can get some top-tier equipment that will be tremendously helpful in the early game. And this is something that you can do immediately after leaving Helgen.
Check out some of the items that I managed to conjure for myself:
Ordinarily, Peerless equipment won’t start showing up until you’re past level 40. Those Daedric Gauntlets of Extreme Smithing? Those would be your best-in-slot Fortify Smithing gauntlets until you hit around 90 Enchanting + 100 Alchemy for Fortify Enchanting potions. And you can get your hands on some within a couple of hours of starting Skyrim.
There is one slight caveat, however. To conjure up all of this good stuff, you first need to get a Sigil Stone from Oblivion. Yes, that Oblivion. And the only way you can do that is by first completing the Conjuration Ritual Spell quest, which requires level 90 Conjuration.
That might seem like a long and daunting task, but it’s pretty simple. Conjuration is one of the easiest and fastest skills to get to level 100 in Skyrim. Check out the Conjuration section of my Legendary Skills guide to get the full scoop, then come back here.
Once you achieve level 90 Conjuration, speak with Phinis Gestor at the College of Winterhold to begin the Conjuration Ritual Spell quest. After completing the quest, Phinis will reward you with a Sigil Stone.
Place the Sigil Stone on the pedestal above the offering box, and you’re good to go. As for the other ingredients necessary for the recipe, they aren’t much trouble to gather. You can get your hands on 24 ebony ingots from Gloombound Mine alone; you need to be Blood-Kin to access the mine, though.
You can purchase void salts from any alchemist in Skyrim or make some here. You can get 2 Daedra hearts every two days from Enthir here at the college, and every merchant here sells soul gems.
The only items you’ll have some trouble getting your hands on initially are silver swords and greatswords. If you haven’t started the questline of the Companions, these weapons are borderline impossible to get.
You will still need to achieve 100 Smithing to improve Daedric equipment twice as much, plus have an entire set of Fortify Smithing gear to get the most out of it, but these are great items to get early on. The base armor and damage ratings are decent, but most importantly, it gives you access to more potent generic enchanted gear that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
Random Unbound Dremora
If you feel comfortable fighting Dremora, summoning unbound Dremora is an excellent way to make gold and potentially weapon upgrades.
Dremora warriors almost always wield enchanted weapons of varying materials. Sometimes Glass, othertimes Ebony, but always with at least 1000+ base value. And since you get the Daedra heart you used to summon then right back, it’s very cost-effective. Skulls will be the only somewhat problematic ingredient to get your hands on in Skyrim. Clearing out any necromancer den should give you a few.
Storm/Frost Atronach Staves And Spell Tomes
The Storm and Frost Atronach staves and spell tomes are great, but only if you aren’t planning on rushing Conjuration to access the random enchanted Daedric equipment.
If you play the game more normally, merchants won’t have Storm or Frost Atronach stuff in stock for a while. Conjuration staves are great because their summoning distance is much further than what you can do by casting the spell. For the best combat potential, use the staves. If you also want to gain experience, use the spells instead.
You can use the brooms down here for the staves and the rest of the ingredients you can easily acquire from alchemists and blacksmiths.
Staff of the Flame Atronach
As mentioned in the previous section, Conjuration staves are great due to their superior summoning distance. I was a little on the fence about putting this here since this staff is *relatively* common, but the sooner you get it, the better.
The Conjurer’s Elixir is the best pre-made Conjuration potion in the game and increases the duration of your Conjuration spells by 100% for 60 seconds. You won’t make potions of better potency until around level 80-90 Alchemy + Fortify Alchemy gear (Your potions will have a longer duration, though).
I would say that creating void salts with the Atronach Forge might be worth it. They’re valuable as alchemical ingredients for Fortify Magicka + Resist Magic potions. And amethysts are common enough, I suppose. However, you can easily buy void salts from alchemists, so a better idea is to make lots of cash (Which you will always need to do sooner or later) and get them that way.
Worst Atronach Forge Recipes
Unenchanted Daedric Equipment
I have to admit that I was very confused when I first saw this recipe. If anything, you’d think enchanted gear would require the rarest ingredient, but apparently not. I’m not complaining, just making an observation.
Centurion Dynamo Cores are exceedingly rare in Skyrim. Use one core here at the Atronach Forge, and what do you get out of the deal? Unenchanted Daedric armor. And that’s great, except you can also get enchanted Daedric armor and not have to use a Centurion Dynamo Core.
Skyrim isn’t Morrowind. Weapons and armor no longer have durability/health. Maybe this trade-off could work if the enchanted Daedric equipment always had little to no durability left. But even then, you can just use Armorer’s hammers to repair them.
The Elder Scrolls series also no longer has cursed equipment (Except one-off items like the Cursed Ring of Hircine), which would’ve been a good way to give the Atronach Forge’s greatest recipe a balanced risk/reward system. But that’s not the case.
By the time you find enough Centurion Dynamo Cores to make a complete set of Daedric armor + a weapon, you’ll likely be able to smith them yourself at a forge.
Enthir is two minutes away upstairs and can sell you two Daedra hearts every two days. Do you know who can sell you two human hearts every two days? No one. Don’t ever make this recipe.
Like the Daedra heart, fire and frost salts require you to sacrifice rarer ingredients. Frost and fire salts are fairly common at any alchemist shop, but few jewelers exist in Skyrim. Getting your hands on rubies and sapphires is no easy task. If gems were still alchemy ingredients like they were in Morrowind, then they’d probably be more common.
Scroll of Conjure Flame/Frost/Storm Atronach
I have very fond memories of scrolls in the Elder Scrolls series. In Morrowind, when that first Dark Brotherhood assassin tries to kill you, the easiest way to survive the encounter is with two scrolls of Drathis’ Winter Guest from Arrille in Seyda Neen. Good times.
Scrolls aren’t nearly as useful in Skyrim, at least not the Atronach scrolls. The raw fire, frost, and void salts are much more valuable to you.
Soul Trap Spell Tome
Soul Trap is a cheap beginner spell, and there’s no reason any Conjurer wouldn’t already have it.
Summon Flame Atronach Spell Tome
After the Familiar, the Flame Atronach is the most basic summoning spell in Skyrim. You should purchase it immediately from Farengar in Whiterun, as it helps you deal with some of the stronger foes, like bears, early on.
Unlike the unbound Dremora, you have no reason to summon any of the Atronachs. You only get back the salts you used for the recipe and nothing else.
Question: Is there any way to translate Atronach Forge recipes?
Answer: As far as I know, no. Not unless you know someone fluent in a made-up video game language.
Question: Can I use black soul gems for the random unenchanted Daedric equipment?
Answer: Yes. So long as your black soul gems have Greater or Grand souls, you can use them in those recipes.
Question: Do we ever find out the identities of the uncle and nephew from the manual?
Answer: Nope. Whoever they were, their names are never known.
Atronach Forge Guide: Conclusion
Even 11 years later, there are many questions I would ask of the development team of Skyrim. One of those questions would be why they decided to make the Atronach Forge exclusively of interest to only the player.
You don’t mention the Atronach Forge to anyone in the game. Not Urag gro-Shub, who may or may not be interested in the Daedric recipes, or Phinis Gestor. Who as resident Conjuration expert would surely be interested in such a thing. He gives you an essential item for the best recipes, and you can’t even tell him about it.
There are no quests surrounding this fantastic, magical device either, and I think that’s why Bethesda messed up. If there had been a quest with a useful recipe as one of the guaranteed rewards, I think it would’ve incentivized players to explore experimenting with the Atronach Forge more. The only recipes they give you to work with are some of the worst ones. And with nothing overtly pointing players in the correct direction for experimentation, it’s easy to ignore it.
But luckily, you’ve just finished reading this guide and know better than that. I didn’t utilize the wonders of the Atronach Forge myself until my fourth playthrough of Skyrim. It’s almost like an enchanted gear slot machine, and that’s fun in my book. One lucky drop might be all it takes to give your Dragonborn the edge you need to take your game to the next level.