If you have ever played an Elder Scrolls game before, then you are probably familiar with the many guilds or factions that make up a majority of the gameplay time outside of the main quest.
For many, including me, these guilds and the storylines that come with them are one of the best things about the Elder Scrolls franchise and are the stories I immediately seek out whenever a new title or DLC drops.
The amount of lore each guild has behind it at this point in the franchise is insane, and the developers love to drop little references and clues throughout their missions for us mega-fans.
In this Elder Scrolls Skyrim Eye of Magnus guide, we are going to be looking at the Mage’s Guild in a little bit more detail, focusing on one of the last quests the player must complete in the main storyline before being elevated to the grand position of Arch-Mage at the College of Winterhold.
The Eye of Magnus quest is probably the most climactic quest that the Mage’s Guild has to offer the player in Skyrim, and so I think it is high time that we do a little run-through of it. What do you say? Yeah, I thought so. Let’s go!
Here is a quick TL;DR for those of you who don’t have the time for a full walkthrough of this quest.
- Quest Giver: Tolfdir
- Prior Quest: You must have completed the Staff of Magnus quest to access this one.
- Faction Quest: Mage’s Guild/College of Winterhold
- Quest Location(s): The Hall of Elements in the College of Winterhol
- Rewards: Rank of Arch-Mage at the College of Winterhold, Access to the Arch-Mage’s Quarters, and the Arch-Mage’s Robes
At this point in the Mage’s Guild storyline, you have already discovered the Eye of Magnus in the bowels of Saarthal and brought it back to the Hall of the Elements in the middle of the College of Winterhold. You have also met and had many horrible conversations with the Thalmor agent Ancano.
While we obviously hate Ancano right from the beginning, he seems more benign than threatening throughout the Mage’s Guild questline. However, as we progress through this faction’s missions, he becomes more and more of a problem, continually bumping heads with people such as Tolfdir and the Arch-Mage Savos Aren.
Eventually, when we rescue the Staff of Magnus in the quest prior to this one, we will exit Labyrinthian, only to encounter another Thalmor agent, Estormo. We find out via a small dose of exposition dumping that Ancano has sent this Thalmor assassin to kill the Dragonborn and take the Staff of Magnus.
Apparently, Ancano wants to take control of the Eye of Magnus in order to push forward the Thalmor mission in Skyrim and control/break the local populace.
Therefore, the player must go to the College in order to stop him, but there is one problem – the College has seemingly been wiped from the map, with the fast-travel location being taken away or hidden by some kind of storm.
The player must then travel to the College by some alternate means to start this quest off properly.
Arriving at the College
When the player manages to get to the College of Winterhod, they will find that the College and the entire town are under attack by some magical storm. This swirling magical storm is populated by creatures called Magical Anomalies that are attacking your fellow mages and the people of Winterhold.
The player can either kill as many of these anomalies as they can or simply trounce through the magical storm, using the Staff of Magnus to clear the way in the same way that the Clear Skies shout does when journeying to meet Paarthurnax at the top of the Throat of the World.
Proceed through the College courtyard until you can enter the Hall of the Elements and properly commence this quest.
An Eye for An Eye
Once the player enters the Hall of the Elements, the Dragonborn will immediately be able to see that Ancano is at the center of all this madness. He is casting some sort of spell at the Eye of Magnus when you enter.
The player and Tolfdir will then have to stand and listen to Ancano as he casts this spell. The Eye seemingly gives him invincibility during this time as your strikes do nothing to throw him off his stride.
During this time, Ancano will become a true Bond villain and explain his entire evil plan and how he is so smart, and we are his inferiors. Who knew we could hate him more?
During your fight with Ancano, the player has to keep one eye on the Eye of Magnus. The eye will open and close throughout. When closed, you can strike and hurt Ancano, but when open, you should get distance from him and avoid his magical strikes while he’s invincible.
Throughout this fight, Ancano will most likely hit Tolfdir with a Paralysis spell, and you will be alone or with just your companion for help. A lot of people talk about how difficult Ancano is to take out, but this isn’t really the case if you know what you are doing.
Simply hide behind one of the many pillars in the room and equip yourself with some magical resistance armor, and the entire thing will go smoothly. Wait for your time to attack and try and ignore Ancano’s incredibly annoying voice as you Whirlwind Sprint him into the next dimension.
Once he is dead, the next issue becomes the eye itself. It seems that whatever Ancano was doing to it has caused it to become unstable. If left unchecked, it becomes clear that this magical tornado will continue to grow until it possibly swallows the entire world.
Enter the Psijic Order
As the Eye of Magnus is beginning to go nuclear and the Dragonborn is understandably freaking out, a member of the Psijic Order who we have already met appears. Quaranir, a High Elf sorcerer and member of the ancient and powerful mage’s organization, appears to help the player and the College of Winterhold out of this bind.
After a small conversation with the Dragonborn, Quaranir thanks the player for stepping in and saving the College. He then teleports the Eye and himself away, presumably to the headquarters of the Psijic Order, taking the problem out of your hands.
When the player finishes the battle with Ancano and lets the Psijic Order deal with the big glowing orb of destruction, they will need to speak with Tolfdir again. In this conversation, you will deal with the void that has been left by the death of Savos Aren at the hands of the eye and Ancano.
Due to the player’s help with defeating Ancano and their obvious magical ability, Tolfdir decides that the player should be the one to succeed Aren. Also, it helps that the Psijic Order basically ordained the player to be the next Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.
To finish this quest, Tolfdir bestows the title of Arch-Mage on the player and gives them the key to their new quarters. God, they really do move quickly in the College, Aren’s body isn’t even cold yet, and you’re sleeping in his sheets.
- Arch-Mage’s Robes
|1||3265||15% Reduction to Magicka cost and +100% Magicka Regen rate|
- The key and full access to the Arch-Mage’s quarters within the College. To be used as your own base if desired.
- Title of Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.
Question: What is the Eye of Magnus?
Answer: The Eye and Staff of Magnus come as a pair. The Staff is the only object in the mortal realm that can manipulate the Eye. As far as we know, the Eye of Magnus is a magical artifact that holds an extreme amount of power.
Ancient Nords discovered this orb during the excavation and building of Saarthal. According to the lore, this orb apparently belonged to the God of Magic, Magnus.
Question: Who are the Psijic Order in Skyrim?
Answer: The Psijic Order is a band of powerful and mysterious mages. This ancient group was founded in 1E 20 and is believed to be the group from which the Mage’s Guild was spawned.
Their headquarters is known to be on the Isle of Artaeum. Before Skyrim (the game), not much was known about the group, and since their involvement in the College of Winterhold quest, they have been fairly quiet.
Question: How do I Get into the College of Winterhold
Answer: When you initially approach the College of Winterhold, a mage named Faralda will stop the player and tell them that they must prove themselves before moving forward into the College.
She challenges the player to cast a spell to prove their worth. Thankfully, if you do not have this spell, Faralda will sell it to you for 30 gold. Simply cast the spell on the ground, and she will let you pass.
Elder Scrolls Skyrim Eye of Magnus Guide: Conclusion
The Mage’s Guild or College of Winterhold questline is one of the best storylines in the entire game, especially when compared with the rest of the guilds or factions. To be honest, I found a great deal of these rather lackluster when compared to the amazing storylines provided in TES: Oblivion.
The Eye of Magnus quest is a great final flurry to end the College questline, allowing the player to dispatch one of the most hated characters in the entire game while simultaneously earning the highest rank any Mage could ever achieve within the Isles of Skyrim.
For me, the best bit about this quest was the small bits of lore we learned about the Psijic Order and their dealings with the College through the Arch-Mage.
This quest is rather straightforward once you know how and when to strike Ancano, but I still hope you have learned something helpful from this guide and that I will see you again soon. Enjoy your tenure as the next Archmagus of the College of Winterhold.