Last Time: I wandered through my favorite parts of Dawnguard. Read it here.
This Time: I continue my wandering. This time, I’m checking out a favorite Side Quest.
“How do you find everything in Skyrim when you’re writing the guide?” This question came up a lot, mainly in my head, during the frequent night-terrors after I agreed to write a book where the original game comprised over 270 quests. Even if I managed to play and write (and take screenshots, and approve design of) one quest per day, I’d sail past the book’s print deadline by more than three months. And that’s not including the labeling of maps, and all the other guide chapters that need attention. Fortunately, I have copious amounts of unseen data that Bethesda supplies me, which is critical to the accuracy of the finished product, and the cessation of my anxiety attacks. Now with close to one hundred additional tasks to finish in Dawnguard and Hearthfire, there were more sleepless nights. But there were some memorable moments of exploration too. Make sure you compete these epic treks too.
Forging Fire: Dawnguard isn’t only about thwarting or joining the Volkihar vampires: The fabled Aetherium Forge, where one of three powerful trinkets can be created.
One of my favorite new Side Quests is Lost to the Ages, a sprawling outing that usually begins after reading a newly-discovered copy of a tome called The Aetherium Wars. It prompts you into a precarious push up through the interior of a place in The Reach called Arkngthamz, a dwarven ruin as unstable as it is unpronounceable. Aside from the Falmer, fissures, and constant seismic activity, you’re introduces to Katria, the ghost of a previous adventurer, and a new piece of dwarven technology; the Tonal Lock. Fiddle with these spinning counterweights in the correct order to reveal the first part of an Aetherium Shard. Fiddle incorrectly, and expect a visit from increasingly powerful automatons.
With the first of four Aetherium Shards pocketed, you’re able to scour the province for further evidence of this strange and extremely rare metal. What’s great about this quest is that you could have stumbled upon any of the remaining shards already, during previous outings, so nothing needs finishing in any particular order. That’s splendid for those that want to adventure at their own pace, and tricky for a strategy guide author when writing up a walkthrough. How did I set everything out? Check out page 764 of the Revised and Expanded guide for all the thrilling answers.
The quest concludes with the unearthing of a massive dwarven lift underneath the Ruins of Bthalft; allowing you to return to areas you’ve seen before and view them in an all-new light. Not that there was much illumination after you descend deeper into Nirn’s core than ever before, deep into the earth to face down the guardian of the Aetherium Forge itself; a fire-breathing automaton named the Forgemaster. Your reward for vanquishing this foe, and his golden minions, is the use of the Aetherium Forge itself. Your shards only have enough of this metal to create a Crown, Shield, or Staff.
Fighting Fire: The fabled Forgemaster, guardian of an unknown furnace where fabled Aetherium objects are crafted, enjoys both breath and bludgeoning attacks.
Pro-Tip 1. The Aetherial Crown: Make this, and you retain the last Standing Stone ability you held, as well as the current Standing Stone. This is potentially the most powerful of the three items you can create; assuming you’re using the Standing Stones dotted around the countryside. The crown stops you wearing a helmet, so that’s a consideration. Look for Stone abilities that stack; the guide has a number of examples, but a good defensive combination is the Lord and Lady Stones.
Pro-Tip 2. The Aetherial Shield: Removing an enemy threat from combat is always helpful, and the shield does this to spectacular effect; foes become ethereal for 15 seconds when you strike them with this shield. Surprisingly powerful, this works on any enemy regardless of level (with the exception of dragons), and most foes also flee while ghostly. It might be just the artifact you need for group battles or when facing powerful foes like those troublesome Dragon Priests.
Pro-Tip 3. The Aetherial Staff: If you want an interesting ally or two that you can’t normally summon, pick this; a Dwarven Spider or Sphere is conjured for 60 seconds wherever you point this staff. The type depends on your level, and this usually isn’t the choice for a Conjurer (as they usually have Atronachs to help them in combat). If you fancy a dwarven automaton trundling by your side, and only a 15% chance of a conjuring “mishap”, perhaps this is the pick to try.
Don’t forget to fully explore the Aetherium Forge itself too; that lava’s deadly, but there’s a tiny island behind the Forge that might yield some secrets…
What? Another blog done already? By Talos, I didn’t even mention other Side Quests to try, including the uncovering of some well-hidden Dawnguard caches, but that’s for another day.
Until next time, may your shards all be Aetherium, and your Tonal Locks be spinning in the correct order…
Remember, you can ask your questions in the comments below or here, and I'll answer them as soon as I can, and may even feature them in a future blog post.
In the meantime, look for the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Revised & Expanded Prima Official Game Guide at a retailer near you!