Magic has seen better days in the Elder Scrolls series. One of the most criticized elements of Skyrim is what many players perceive as a significantly dumbed-down magic system.
Mysticism, an entire School of Magic, no longer exists, and numerous spells and spellmaking are all gone. Mages feel somewhat underpowered, especially compared to the notorious Stealth Archer. And if I had to say which is harder to play, a Destruction mage or a Conjuration mage, I’d go with the former.
But! None of this means that magic is a lost cause in Skyrim. It’ll take you much longer to ramp up your character build if you focus purely on magic than melee or archery, but you’ve got some options. And once you gain access to the endgame skills of the School of Destruction in Skyrim, you can have a ton of fun and deal a ton of damage. So, let’s walk you through Skyrim’s Destruction Ritual Spell quest.
- Level 90 or 100 Destruction
To begin the Destruction Ritual Spell quest, speak with Faralda at the College of Winterhold. She will usually be in her room in the Hall of Countenance. You may also find her in the Hall of the Elements.
- Fire Storm spell
- Access to Blizzard spell tome
- Access to Lightning Storm spell tome
Before We Begin
Each School of Magic in Skyrim has a Ritual quest that you can only begin after reaching level 90 in a particular School of Magic. All except Destruction.
Skyrim has plenty of bugs, and one that occurs regularly is the inability to begin the Destruction Ritual until you reach level 100, not 90, as Faralda will not have the dialogue option.
What’s The Best Way To Reach Level 100 Destruction?
The fastest way to reach level 100 in Destruction is to purchase five Destruction level-ups from Faralda at every level. Attempting to hit Max Destruction by only actively using Destruction spells is a gauntlet that you don’t want to put yourself through. Look up the names of the five Destruction skill books and refrain from reading them until levels 95-100.
As for levels 90-95, use an Expert-level Destruction spell of your choosing and cause some havoc in Skyrim. The Incinerate and Thunderbolt spells work well at dealing damage and leveling up Destruction. And, of course, make sure you have the Mage Stone active while level grinding. There are plenty of caves, crypts, and bandits camps in Skyrim, and it shouldn’t take too long.
Beginning The Destruction Ritual
After reaching level 100 Destruction, head back to the College and speak with Faralda. Ask her if there’s anything more to learn about Destruction, and she will tell you that she has heard whispers. There are ancient and powerful spells out there that only true Masters of Destruction can utilize.
She hands you a book called Power of the Elements, telling you that it’s all she has found and that you should have it. With that, The Destruction Ritual quest begins.
Deciphering The Power Of The Elements: The First Clue
Open up Power of the Elements and read the lone written page. A cryptic message points where you should head to next to progress the quest.
And south, Dwemer
live and toil,
A simple place,
a shield from draft
At this stand
wield mage’s craft
So fierce the sea will boil.
The Destruction Ritual Spell quest is one of those quests where it really pays off to have discovered many map markers and at least visit all of the cities and villages in Skyrim. Each cryptic message has one obvious clue that points to a place that can at least serve as a good starting point.
The city of Dawnstar lies to the north along the coastline. If you speak with the locals, there’s a belief a curse is preventing the residents from sleeping. Southwest of Dawnstar is a place called the Windward Ruins.
It’s one of the blandest ruins in Skyrim with nearly nothing to see, do or loot but would make for a decent spot to make camp for the night. Dare I say this sounds like a simple place that’s a shield from (The wind’s) draft? X marks the spot.
Head inside the ruins and deal with the two woefully outgunned skeevers nearby. Head to the bottom, and you’ll find a pedestal that interacts with the Power of the Elements book. The final part of the clue, so fierce the sea will boil, refers to Fire magic. Place the Power of the Elements on the pedestal and cast any Fire spell on it. Pick it back up and read it to discover a new clue.
Deciphering The Power Of The Elements: The Second Clue
Under Greybeards’ morning shadow
At this northern watch, long lost
Nirn’s hoary Throat does scrape the sky.
Here unleash a chilling cry
And gild this stand with frost.
The second clue is the most obvious, as it directly mentions the Greybeards, so High Hrothgar works as a starting point. You’ve no doubt been here for the main quest. Nirn’s hoary Throat obviously refers to the Throat of the World.
The location you’re looking for is North Skybound Watch, northwest of Orphan’s Rock (You’ll come here for The Blessings of Nature quest) and southeast of Riverwood.
A lone sentry bandit stands guard outside, and two more are inside. Kill them and place Power of the Elements on the pedestal. The second clue openly mentions the word frost, so use any frost spell on the book on the pedestal. Reclaim Power of the Elements to receive the final clue.
Deciphering The Power Of The Elements: The Third Clue
Over western river waters
By Karth bounded, south and north
On mountain sits a humble crown.
Sky’s wrath on this stand bring forth
To shake these snowcaps down
The word Karth immediately stands out in the final clue since several locations have Karth in their names.
Travel to the town of Karthwasten and make your way south to Four Skull Lookout. It’s an old ruin that overlooks the Karth River valley. Several bandits are inside, so send them to the afterlife and head outside to the nearby pedestal.
It’s not like the School of Destruction has poison spells anymore, and the clue sky’s wrath is an obvious nod to thunder and lightning. Place Power of the Elements on the pedestal and use a shock spell on it.
Read Power of the Elements one final time. Instead of receiving another clue, you’ll receive the Fire Storm spell and a final passage from the ancient Arch-Mage Shalidor. With that, The Destruction Ritual Spell quest is complete! From this point, you can head back to Faralda and purchase the Blizzard and Lightning Storm spells, Master-level frost, and shock spells, respectively.
Now that we have the best Destruction spells in the game, let’s see if they’re any good, shall we?
Are The Master Destruction Spells Any Good?
The first thing that immediately stands out about all three of these Master-level spells is the magicka costs.
Because golly is that a lot of magicka.
You would need Naruto-levels of magicka to be able to use these even once. Luckily, it’s possible to reduce the cost of spells in Skyrim. Don’t waste a perk point on the Master Destruction perk. With a complete set of Fortify Destruction enchanted gear, you can get the cost down to a grand total of zero. With that out of the way, let’s get to the spell breakdown.
Each spell requires both hands and has the same windup time and animation before it casts, so these are not spells to use if you have a low armor rating as you’re a sitting duck.
Fire Storm unleashes an explosive pillar of fire around the Dragonborn and deals 100 points of AOE damage to everything in the blast radius (Except you). It’s extremely powerful and scales wonderfully with Fortify Destruction potions.
It’s also very companion-unfriendly, so if you have any allies around, you won’t be able to use it without risking killing them. If you want to have some fun with Fire Storm, give your followers the day, week, or month off.
Blizzard is the best spell of the three, visually speaking, in my opinion. Casting it will evoke a snowstorm that deals 20 damage per second for 10 seconds to everything within the blast radius. And that includes you.
But don’t worry. With a high armor rating, the damage you take from Blizzard is negligible. Your companions should be fine as well.
Blizzard synergizes well with the Deep Freeze perk and can crowd control enemies low on HP.
And last but not least, my favorite of the bunch is Lightning Storm. It’s a great spell card in Yu-Gi-Oh and a better spell in Skyrim.
Lightning Storm deals 75 points of shock damage per second to enemies’ HP and half that to their magicka. If you’re as fond of Star Wars as am I and want to cosplay as a Force Lightning spamming Sith Lord, get some hooded black robes and let Lightning Storm loose.
Lightning Storm is the most useful of the three spells since it is a ranged attack that is even effective on dragons. If you find a safe vantage point away from an enemy camp or location, you can take a lot of them down before they get anywhere near you.
The spell does have some drawbacks, however. Unlike Fire Storm and Blizzard, you must remain stationary at all times while casting Lightning Storm. You can rotate to switch targets, but other than that, you’re rooted to the ground.
Lightning Storm is also kind of the Elder Scrolls version of the Bloody Mess perk from the Fallout series. It’s a spectacle to behold but can make looting more annoying. Lightning Storm regularly sends enemies flying and ragdolling through the air, off cliffs, and careening over waterfalls.
You may or may not send an enemy with an enchanted item or other good loot (Or worst of all, a unique item) out of your reach. And that’s just for locations in the great outdoors. If you use this spell in an enclosed area, it’ll send items in the room flying.
You may have to do more searching than normal to find them. Lightning Storm also regularly turns enemies into ash piles, which are easily missed (Especially at night). By this stage in the game, you should be well off enough to afford missing out on some loot, but be careful.
It’s reasonably safe to use around companions, but they may walk into the path of your blast because follower AI isn’t too intelligent. If you have a glass cannon follower, it will probably kill them.
Question: What’s the quickest way to get enough level-ups to train to 90 Destruction with Faralda?
Answer: I would recommend two skills: Illusion and Alchemy. Illusion is the easiest skill to max, and you can do it repeatedly with the Legendary Skills system. You need a lot of gold to afford all this training, and power potions made via Alchemy will do the job.
Question: Is it worth it to rush towards getting these spells?
Answer: If you frequently play Skyrim without companions, then sure. If not, I would say probably not. More than anything, they’re spells for your power fantasy.
If roleplaying as a Magic-only character, then Lightning Storm is worth getting as quickly as possible to deal with dragons efficiently. Some areas in Skyrim have pretty obnoxious dragon spawn rates.
Question: I can’t initiate any dialogue with Faralda! What’s going on?
Answer: Do you currently have a bounty in Winterhold Hold? Faralda has a low crime tolerance, and having a bounty will cause her to behave strangely or even attack you.
Destruction Ritual Spell Guide: Conclusion
Do I think Skyrim has the weakest magic system of any of the modern Elder Scrolls games? Unfortunately, yes. There’s no Mark, no Recall, and no more levitating. Waterwalking is a thing of the past, even though Skyrim has plenty of instances where it would be a supremely useful spell to have handy.
And of course, no more greatest spell of all time, also known as earwig. But do I think magic in Skyrim is as horrible as some people make it out to be? No, I don’t. It’s true that magic is easily the weakest of your three combat options in the early game, especially on Legendary difficulty. But if you commit to the playstyle and take advantage of every asset at your disposal, like Alchemy potions to give you an edge, it gets much better.
Sure, you didn’t need to rely on potions or enchantments in Morrowind or Oblivion because you could just create insanely powerful spells yourself. But those days are unfortunately gone. But that doesn’t mean Destruction magic can’t be fun in Skyrim too. Hopefully, this guide helps make it a more enjoyable experience for you.