Alftand is an ancient Dwemer Ruin located southwest of Winterhold. The quests "Elder Knowledge" and "Discerning the Transmundane" concurrently unfold here. Upon entering the ruins for the first time a team of trapped archaeologists is discovered; the story of their fate, disrupted by a snowstorm and the Falmer also plays out within.
The location has three sublocations, including the Alftand Glacial Ruins, the Alftand Animonculory, and the Alftand Cathedral.
Alftand Glacial Ruins
Upon entering Alftand, you will find scattered rubble, bedrolls and tools leftover by the expedition members, along with clues of what happened to the expedition itself. Continuing further, you will hear J'darr, one of the workers who survived, arguing with J'zhar, his brother, about stealing his Skooma. This can be heard when you come close to a crevice boarded up by planks, with barrels and crates behind. Moving on you will find a room containing a stone table that was used to study disabled Dwarven Spiders. To the right of the table is a lift to the Alftand Animonculory, but it is sealed off and can only be opened from inside. Beware from this point, as you will begin encountering Dwarven automatons coming out of pipes. On your way you will encounter the Khajiit brothers again. This time it will be revealed that J'zhar is actually dead on his bedroll and J'darr has gone insane, most likely due to the abstinence effect of not consuming skooma for so long. He will turn hostile and you will be forced to kill him. Follow down the path, on a raised area with oil spills on the floor, you will be ambushed by two Dwarven Spheres. An interesting feature in that room are the three pistons behind a table, that thrust up vertically, that can be used to gain access to a ledge hidden loot. In the next room, there are various Dwemer metal parts along with four Dwarven Spiders; two dead and two hidden in pipes. There is also a forge in the room. Through the door to the next area you will find an unlocked chest behind a pressure plate. To the right is a dead end with a Dwarven Spider and another chest in the rubble. To the west are more enemies along the path to the door to Alftand Animonculory. Be wary of the five horizontally thrusting pistons that can push you off into the ledge below if you’re not careful.
Continue down the hallway to a set of stairs leading up to an area covered in oil, along with a Dwarven Sphere and a Dwarven Spider. Before climbing up, there is a gap between metal bars underneath the stairs leading to the body of Endrast with a Falmer arrow in his shoulder. An adept-locked chest can be found next to him. Past the stairs is a ramp with several pressure plates to the sides. Triggering them will activate the spinning blades that will go down along the in the middle. The path will be blocked, but can be opened by one of the levers. Continuing downwards, you will come across a ledge that you must jump off of. But before doing so, there is a locked door to a room with various loot, including a skill book. Once you jumped down, you will find the body of Yag gra-Gortwog, riddled with arrows. That path upwards leads to a dead end with a chest and a Dwarven Spider hiding in a pipe, while the path down leads to several Falmer guarding the path. Past them will lead into a series of rooms filled with Falmer. Various types of loot can be found like ores, ingredients and everything found in chests. A few things of interest are an Alchemy Lab in the first room and a workbench along with an anvil in the other room. In the final room lies the Falmer boss along with 2 more. The room holds an assortment of items scavenged from the expedition members, like Sulla Trebatius's knapsack. Valie's body can be found on a table with shackles. Next to her lies a lift that leads back to the Alftand Glacial Ruins. Further down, past a dead Falmer riddled with Iron Arrows, lies the door to Alftand Cathedral. Be careful of the claw trap before the door.
In the final area, you will encounter a Falmer guarding the door to your path. Watch out for the three pressure plates on your way. Climb the stairs and you will run into two more Falmer patrolling the area, along with possibly another creature (either a Frostbite Spider, a Skeever or a Chaurus). The path to the exit is blocked and can only be opened by the lever on a platform at the top of the stairs with two chests next to it. Around the area are several Falmer tents containing various Falmer equipment and ingredients. Past the gate, up the stairs, are two Dwarven Centurions. One dead and the other remains dormant until you approach it. After defeating it, climb the next set of stairs leading up to the lift to outside. Behind some pillars, Umana and Sulla Trebatius, the two last expedition members, will show themselves. Umana tries to convince Sulla to abort the expedition, but Sulla refuses to give up. At this point both will become hostile to each other and to you, so you can either kill them both or stay hidden and let them fight out until one stands victorious and then kill the winner. In the center of this area is a Dwarven mechanism, that can be opened with an Attunement Sphere, to gain access to Blackreach. The exit is behind a master-locked gate that can either be picklocked or unlocked with the Alftand Lift Key that can be found on the Dwarven Centurion you fought earlier. The lift will take you outside to a gatehouse that could only be opened from the inside.
Alftand Ruined Tower
Upon entering, there will be a shelf holding some Dwarven arrows and metals. Beside the shelf is a spiral staircase leading down, deeper into the tower. At the end of the staircase one Dwarven Spider Worker will spawn out of the wall directly in front of the Dragonborn and another one behind more shelves. There are several iron and silver ore and ingots scattered throughout the room and more dwarven metal. Proceeding further shows two buttons against a wall. Pressing them will activate ceiling spike traps on the other side of the wall for purposes unknown. One will eventually arrive at the spike trap's location but first encounter a Dwarven Sphere.
The spike traps can also be activated by pressure plates directly below them. Beyond the traps is a door and a button before it. Pressing the button is the only way to open the door as there is no option to open or unlock it. Doing so will activate a relatively harmless fire trap. Sprinting or rolling can allow one to avoid taking any damage at all. Then, in front of the Dragonborn will be a desk with another button that, if pressed, will close the door and disable the trap. Going further will lead to a small ice cave where two final Dwarven Spider Workers will spawn. At the end of the cave will be a door exiting far under the wooden bridges leading to Alftand.
The Ruined Tower is an ideal source of Dwarven scrap to smelt into Dwarven metal ingots. The following is an approximate amount of the Dwarven scrap, not accounting for the random loot found within Animunculi:
- Bent Dwemer Scrap Metal (x9)
- Large Dwemer Plate Metal (x3)
- Small Dwemer Plate Metal (x3)
- Solid Dwemer Metal (x6)
- Large Decorative Dwemer Strut (x5)
- Large Dwemer Strut (x1)
For an approximate total of a possible 88 Dwemer metal ingots.
There is an exit at the top of the tower, but the ruin does not connect with the other Alftand sections.
Sorine Jurard will explain that she has located a schematic that can provide a new upgrade or ammunition type for the crossbow. She asks the Dragonborn to retrieve it from a radiant location, typically a Dwemer Ruin or bandit stronghold, the chosen location can also be on Solstheim if Dragonborn is installed.
The Dragonborn met Septimus Signus, a brilliant but mad scholar living in the northern ice fields. They are then directed to a Dwarven observatory that supposedly houses an Elder Scroll. Septimus doesn't care about the Scroll itself, but wants the Dragonborn to use some kind of machine there to inscribe a Dwarven lexicon with the Scroll's knowledge and bring it to him.
The Dragonborn must venture into the ruins of Alftand in order to find out what happened to a group of archaeologists that went exploring in the ruins. The Dragonborn finds various clues along the way as to what happened to them, including finding two Khajiit brothers, one alive and one dead, as well as other dead members of the expedition in various other places.
- Targe of the Blooded – Unique shield found on Umana near the end of the dungeon.
- The Locked Room a Lockpicking skill book in the Alftand Animonculory. After entering the Animonculory, and traversing a few hallways, eventually the Dragonborn will come to an astoundingly deep room, with many stone walkways descending. After following a couple of the walkways, they will come to a large bronze door, Average locked. Inside the door is the treasury, and to the left is another locked gate, the book is behind this gate.
- Expedition Manifest – Inside a shack, uphill from the entrance to Alftand Glacial Ruins, on the ground, next to a chest.
- Research Notes – Once inside Alftand Glacial Ruins, keep heading straight until you reach a horizontally barred gateway. On a stone table in front of said gateway are two broken Dwarven Spiders and the Research Notes. Also there is a chest behind the table.
- J'zhar's Journal – After entering Alftand Glacial Ruins, and reaching the barred gateway, instead take a left down a snow tunnel. Eventually the twins J'zhar (deceased) and J'darr can be found. The journal is found next to J'zhar's corpse, on the ground, next to J'zhar's pack, which contains a random amount of empty skooma bottles and some random potions.
- Umana's Journal – Alftand Glacial Ruins – Past J'zhar's corpse, on a table, just after exiting the snow tunnel.
- Endrast's Journal – Alftand Animonculory – After entering the Animonculory, heading down the hall and soon coming to a large room with a staircase to the right, and a ledge in front. Instead of heading up the stairs, there's an open section of bars under the ledge. Endrast's corpse is here next to the journal. There are also a couple lockpicks near the journal.
- Sulla's Journal – Alftand Glacial Ruins – Just around the corner from the entrance, on a barrel.
- A rare set of dwarven knife, dwemer fork (on tables), and dwemer spoon (in a chest) can be found here.
- Going through Alftand is not required to obtain the Elder Scroll, one can go through any ruin that leads to Blackreach.
- It is possible to completely bypass this ruin and still get into Blackreach. By standing against the gate of one of the above-ground lifts and casting Summon Arvak, it is possible to get through the gate by mounting and then unmounting Arvak. One can then use the lever to open the gate and descend into Blackreach. Note: If it worked correctly, Arvak will appear to be halfway through the gate.
- Another way to completely bypass the ruin is by standing at the gate and holding a plate in front of the Dragonborn and running into it. One must move the plate around to find the correct spots that allow them to move through the gate.
- Alftand means "elf tooth" in Swedish.