Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

For other uses, see Tolfdir.

Tolfdir is an elderly Nord mage at the College of Winterhold, where he teaches. An old, wise, and friendly mage, Tolfdir is adept in defensive magic, plus a master of Alteration and a trainer in its use. Some spells he sells include Telekinesis, Waterbreathing and Ebonyflesh. He serves as the Dragonborn's teacher and guide at the college. When Ancano is defeated, Tolfdir becomes Master Wizard of the College, succeeding Mirabelle Ervine following her death at the hands of the Thalmor agent.

Wares and routine[]

As well as offering Master-level training in Alteration, Tolfdir sells Alteration-based items such as jewelry, staves, spell tomes, and mage robes. When not teaching in the Hall of the Elements, Tolfdir may be found sleeping or eating on the lower level of the Hall of Attainment.

After completing "Under Saarthal," Tolfdir may remain at the Eye of Magnus in Saarthal, until the next quest in the College's main quest line, "Hitting the Books," is completed. 


Despite his age and apparently absent-minded nature, Tolfdir is a very powerful mage; Mirabelle Ervine describes him as a preeminent scholar on Alteration and one of the best in Tamriel. He is never boastful, nor does he abuse his influence at the college, and is always glad to pass on his knowledge.


First Lessons[]

During the Dragonborn's first lessons at the college, Tolfdir instructs the apprentices about the proper use of wards. He also provides a lesser ward spell, free of charge, if it isn't already known. Thereafter, he serves as a master-level trainer for Alteration, staying in the Hall of the Elements and studying the Eye of Magnus while it is there.

Under Saarthal[]

Tolfdir's second lesson takes the apprentices to Saarthal, where the Dragonborn stumbles upon a secret passageway while collecting magical artifacts. Tolfdir accompanies the Dragonborn as a companion from this stage until the Eye of Magnus is discovered at the end of the crypt.

Good Intentions[]

The Dragonborn must find and consult the Augur of Dunlain about the recent events and findings at the College of Winterhold and how to proceed after being visited again by a monk from the Psijic Order.

The Staff of Magnus[]

The Dragonborn must recover the Staff of Magnus from the Nordic ruin of Labyrinthian to stop Ancano and stabilize the Eye of Magnus.

The Eye of Magnus[]

After recovering the Staff of Magnus from Labyrinthian, Toldfir gets paralyzed when he tries to assist with defeating Ancano. Afterwards, he replaces Mirabelle Ervine as Master Wizard, due to her death in the skirmish that followed Ancano's seizing of The Eye.

Finding Tolfdir's Alembic[]

At regular intervals, Tolfdir misplaces his alembic, which can be located in one of three places in the Hall of Countenance.


Magic Anomaly appear at a random location, and Tolfdir tasks the Dragonborn to use the Staff of Magnus to remove them.

Alteration Ritual Spell[]

After surpassing Alteration level 90, Tolfdir will send the Dragonborn to harvest dragon heartscales in order to be teach the master level spell Dragonhide.


Show: First Lessons
In the Hall of the Elements:

"You've been quiet so far. What do you think we should do?"

I'm not really sure what to think. "Not going to weigh in either way? I admire your restraint, but there are times when you must make decisions, even without all the facts. Rely on instinct."
I think we should learn something practical. "Is that so?"
Safety should be more important than anything. "Well, your classmates certainly seem to disagree with you."

After Tolfdir speaks with the students:

"Would you mind helping me with the demonstration? Are you at all familiar with ward spells?"

I don't know any ward spells. "That's all right. I can teach you a very basic ward, one that's enough for the purposes of this lesson. Now, if you'll just stand right over there, I'll cast a spell at you, and you block it with the ward. Here we go. Over there, please. Just opposite me. Wouldn't want anyone else in the way. Now, cast the ward spell, and keep it up. Hold still. Excellent work!"

If a ward spell is known:

"Would you mind helping me with the demonstration? Are you at all familiar with ward spells?"

I have a ward spell, but I've never really used it. "That's what this lesson is for. Perfect time to try it out."
I already know it, and I already know how to use it. "Well, then this should be no problem at all for you."
"Now, if you'll just stand right over there, I'll cast a spell at you, and you block it with the ward. Here we go. Over there, please. Just opposite me. Wouldn't want anyone else in the way. Now, cast the ward spell, and keep it up. Hold still. Excellent work!"
Show: Under Saarthal
Outside of Saarthal:

"And here we all are. Shall we step inside?"

I'm ready. Let's go. "All right, please stay close to me while we're inside. It should be safe, but it's always better to be cautious."
I'm not quite ready to go inside yet. "No? I daresay we don't have all day."
Sorry, I'm still not ready to go in there. "Still? If I have to wait much longer, you may need to just bury me here."

Inside Saarthal:

"Well, are there any questions before we begin?"

Now what? "Well, are there any questions before we begin?"
What's so important about this place? "We're particularly interested in the prevalence of magical seals placed on the tombs here. It's rather unlike anything we've encountered."
What are we looking for? "Anything! Anything at all that might be of interest. That's why I adore this location... we have no idea what we're going to find. And if, along the way, my message about the dangers of magic should happen to sink in for a few students, that would be a happy coincidence."
I don't have any more questions. What would you like me to do? "Ah, yes. Hmmm. Well, why don't you see if you can assist Arniel Gane? He's one of our scholars, here working on cataloging our finds. I expect he'd appreciate some help in locating any additional magical artifacts here in the ruins. Any enchanted items will do; the usefulness of the enchantment is irrelevant. If you find anything, the class can look it over."

If approached again:

"Please be careful here. The site isn't entirely secured."

What did you want me to do? "Find Arniel Gane. He's somewhere in the northern section of the ruins. He'll show you what to do."

After getting trapped:

"What in the world was that racket? Everything all right?"

I'm trapped in here! "How in the world did that happen?"
I pulled an amulet off the wall. "Really? Perhaps the amulet is important somehow. Is there some way you can use it?"

After equiping the amulet:

"Do you see that? Some kind of resonance... you and the wall. It must be connected to the amulet! I wonder... what effect might your spells have?"

After escaping from the trap:

"I'm not sure what to expect here. Please be on your guard."

Did you see that? "Well would you look at that! This appears to lead somewhere. Let's see where it goes."
What is going on? "I'm not sure. I certainly wasn't expecting this. This appears to lead somewhere. Let's see where it goes."

After talking to Nerien:

"I... I swear I felt something rather strange just then. What just happened?"

Some sort of ghost or apparition appeared. It spoke to me. "I'm afraid I didn't see anything... Can you tell me more about what you saw?"
It said something about danger ahead, and the Psijic Order. "The Psijic Order? Are you quite sure about that? That's very odd. And danger ahead? Why that doesn't make any sense at all. The Psijics have no connection to these ruins. And no one's seen any of their order in a long time. Perhaps we should take a look inside these coffins... Now please be careful. Who know what we're going to find."
What's the Psijic Order? "They were a group of mages with history that pre-dates the Empire. Very powerful, very secretive. No one's seen them in well over a hundred years. They vanished, along with their sanctuary on the Isle of Artaeum. I have no idea what connection they'd have to this place."
Why is the Psijic Order contacting me? "I have no idea, but it's fascinating. Assuming it's true, of course. The Isle of Artaeum disappeared over a hundred years ago, and no one has seen them since. And yet now, suddenly, they have chosen to contact you? Why, it's intriguing! If nothing else, I'd take it as a compliment. The Psijics have only ever dealt with those they feel worthy."

When in the coffin chamber:

"I've never seen anything like this in Nordic ruins before. Why, just look at all these coffins! This bears closer inspection. I'd like to stay a while and examine this. You, however, should press on. See if you can find whatever this vision of yours mentioned. But if it is truly dangerous, be careful. Go on ahead. I'll be sure and catch up with you before long."

After advancing through the ruins:

"Hold on, my boy. Hold on! I thought it high time I caught up with you."

When approaching the Eye of Magnus:

"Well now... would you look at that. I never imagined we'd find something like this. Why is this buried so far within Saarthal?"

While fighting Jyrik Gauldurson:

"Nothing seems to work! Keep it busy. I'll try to drain some of its power! There! Now attack it!"

After defeating Jyrik Gauldurson:

"I'm not the only one seeing this, am I? Why, this is utterly unique."

When approached:

"What could this place be?"

What is this thing? "I have no idea! This is amazing. Absolutely amazing. The Arch-Mage needs to be informed immediately. He needs to see this for himself. I don't dare leave this unattended. Can you return to the College and inform Savos Aren of this discovery? Please, hurry."

If approached again:

"This is simply fascinating."

What should I tell the Arch-Mage? "Let him know that we've unearthed something... Well, I'm not sure. Something unique, let's say. It's clearly magical in nature, but like nothing I've ever seen before. He should be most interested."
Will you be all right by yourself? "Oh, I think I'll be fine. We seem to have eliminated the most pressing threat. It certainly seems that whoever placed this here intended for it to be well guarded. I wonder why..."
Show: Good Intentions
In the Hall of the Elements:

"It's always encouraging to see the younger generations embracing education."

Can you tell me more about Wards? "The key to wards is that they take time to charge. Not long, but you can't start casting with a fireball coming at you. Also, if your ward isn't negated by an incoming spell, it will recharge itself after a moment or two. Just be careful. Casting requires constant concentration, and you can easily find yourself drained of your magicka reserves."
Urag suggested I come see you. "Did he now? Does he have information about our wonderful discovery?"
I found a certain book, "Night of Tears"... "Is that the one about something burried beneath Saarthal? Something that men and mer fought over? I'll have to make a point of re-reading it. I don't recall the details. I just can't seem to tear myself away. Whatever this is, its beauty is like nothing I've ever seen before. If you allow me to indulge myself for a moment, I thought I might make a few observations..."
There's a book he thinks you should read. "Ah, yes. Well, I'll be sure and stop by the Arcanaeum later. I just can't seem to tear myself away. Whatever this is, its beauty is like nothing I've ever seen before. If you allow me to indulge myself for a moment, I thought I might make a few observations..."


"I'm sure you've already noticed the markings. They're quite unlike anything we've seen before. Ayleid, Dwemer, Daedric... Not even Falmer. None of them are a match. Quite curious indeed. Now, I'm not quite sure that you're quite as attuned as I am, given my extensive years of experience, but can you feel that? This marvelous object. It practically radiates magicka, and yet it's unlike anything I've felt before. Arch-Mage Aren is already hard at work, and hopefully we'll have more information soon. Now, I..."

After speaking with Quaranir:

"It's always encouraging to see the younger generations embracing education."

Have you ever heard of the Augur of Dunlain? "Well now, there's a name I haven't heard in some time. My goodness, it's been years since I've spoken with him. I suppose he's still down in the Midden, but I haven't checked. Are you going to see him? Do tell him "hello" for me, won't you?"
Where is the Midden? "Underneath the College. It's not the nicest place, so if you go down there, please do be careful."
Can you tell me more about the Augur of Dunlain? "Well, I suppose he wouldn't mind... It was all before my time, you understand. I've heard the stories, the same as anyone else. He was a brilliant student, an accomplished wizard. Delved into magic in a way none had seen before. But, I think, he became too focused on just how much power he could acquire. That's what led to the accident."
Show: Containment
At the College of Winterhold:

"Are you all right? What happened in there?"

It's Ancano. He's done something with the Eye! "By the Nine... Is he responsible for this? The Arch-Mage, dead? There's more. Something's happened to Winterhold. It must be whatever Ancano did. You need to get out there and make sure it's safe. Quickly now, quickly! I'll find Mirabelle and see if we can't put a stop to this!"
Arch-Mage Aren is dead? "I can hardly believe it. But there's no time. Whatever happened here has affected Winterhold as well. I need you to get out there and make sure everything's all right. I'll do what I can here. Go now, go!"
Show: The Staff of Magnus
At the College of Winterhold:

"You survived! You have it, then? Let's hope it's as powerful as the Psijics believe it to be."

Where's Mirabelle? "She... She didn't make it. When it was clear we were going to have to fall back, she stayed behind and made sure the rest of us were all right."
Why are you all the way out here? "Look for yourself. Ancano's power is growing. We can't crack whatever magic he's using to shield himself. I hope your trip to Labyrinthian was worth it."
Let's get in there. "I'll be right behind you!"

After defeating Ancano:

"I knew you could do it!"

What do we do now? "I... I don't know. Ancano is gone, but whatever he's done to the Eye doesn't seem to have stopped. I have no idea what to do!"

When the Psijics appear:

"Now what's going on?!"
"Psijics? Here now? What in Talos' name...."

After the Psijics leave:

"You've done it! The College is safe again, thanks to your work. I knew you had it in you. I daresay the Psijics are right. There's no one more deserving to be Arch-Mage, in my opinion. Here, consider these yours. And the Arch-Mage's quarters as well. I shall be here for advice, should you need me."

Show: Tolfdir the Absent-Minded
At the College of Winterhold:

You look like you could use a hand. "Well, yes. This is rather embarassing, but it seems I've misplaced something. I can't find my Alembic. I suppose I could use another one, but... well, it sounds silly, but mine has sentimental value. If you happen to see it, would you mind bringing it to me?"

What was it you were missing? "My Alembic. I need it for some research, and can't seem to find it."

After finding the Alembic:

I found what you were looking for. "Ah, yes! There it is! Thank you so much."

Show: Alteration Ritual Spell

Is there anything more I can learn about Alteration magic? "At this very moment? No. However... Well, I've been working on something. An improvement on the Ebonyflesh spell. I've made progress, but then hit a snag. I think perhaps you could help."

What's the problem? "I need dragon scales."
How can I help? "I need you to collect some dragon scales."
"And not just any dragon scales. As I've said, I made some progress using the essence of dragon scales. But they're just not quite potent enough. My knowledge of Skyrim's history is far from complete, but I did some research and discovered two things. First, there are ancient references to dragon "heartscales". What little I could learn suggests they may be what I need. Second, there are stories of a dagger called Kahvozein's Fang, said to be sharp enough to carve individual scales off a dragon. First you'll need to retrieve the dagger, then use it to carve a few scales off a dragon. Presumably a deceased one."
I'll return shortly with the dragon scales. "That would be wonderful. I'll be sure and have everything ready. This is exciting, isn't it?"
How do I collect these dragon scales for you? "Not just any dragon scales. Heartscales. Very special. You'll need Kahvozein's Fang, of course. Then, if you should happen upon the corpse of a dragon, you should be able to use it to slice off a heartscale or two. Even just one should be enough for me to complete my research."
Is there anything else you can tell me about the dagger? "Not much, I'm afraid. It was named Kahvozein's Fang after the dragon worshipped by this particular sect of the cult. They were said to be quite fond of ritual sacrifices. So fond, in fact, that the high priest spent a great deal of time sharpening the dagger. That way it was always ready for the next inevitable victim. Perhaps not the brightest spot in Skyrim's history, eh?"
I was just asking. I didn't really want to be involved. "Ah, well now you can help me directly! Far more useful, I think. Please do let me know if you change your mind."

After obtaining the heartscale:

Here's your heartscale. "Wonderful, just wonderful! And it's just as I suspected. The energies need to be channeled back through the nexus a second and third time... And that's it. I certainly think you deserve the first copy of the tome. Use it well!"


First Lessons[]

Tolfdir: "Welcome, welcome! We were just beginning. Please, stay and listen. So, as I was saying, the first thing to understand is that magic is, by its very nature, volatile and dangerous. Unless you can control it, it can and will destroy you."
Brelyna: "Sir, I think we all understand that fairly well. We wouldn't be here if we couldn't control magic!"
Tolfdir: "Of course, my dear. Of course. You all certainly possess some inherent natural ability. That much is not being questioned. What I'm talking about is true control, mastery of magic. It takes years, if not decades, of practice and study."
J'zargo: "Then what are we waiting for? Let's get started!"
Tolfdir: "Please, please! This is exactly what I'm talking about. Eagerness must be tempered with caution, or else disaster is inevitable."
Onmund: "But we've only just arrived here -- you've no idea what any of us are capable of. Why not give us a chance to show you what we can do?"
(After speaking with Tolfdir, and not making a decision)
Onmund: "We're all pretty new to this, right? Let's just give it a chance. What's the worst that could happen?"
Tolfdir: "All right, let's settle down. I suppose we can try something practical... In continuing with our theme of safety, we'll start with Wards. Wards are protective spells that block magic. I'll teach you all a ward, and we'll see if you can successfully use it to block spells, all right?"
(After speaking with Tolfdir, and choosing something practical)
Brelyna: "See? He agrees with us too! Why don't you actually show us something?"
Tolfdir: "All right, let's settle down. I suppose we can try something practical... In continuing with our theme of safety, we'll start with Wards. Wards are protective spells that block magic. I'll teach you all a ward, and we'll see if you can successfully use it to block spells, all right?"
(After speaking with Tolfdir, and choosing safety first)
J'zargo: "Oh, don't listen to him. We can do it, just give us a chance!"
Tolfdir: "All right, let's settle down. I suppose we can try something practical... In continuing with our theme of safety, we'll start with Wards. Wards are protective spells that block magic. I'll teach you all a ward, and we'll see if you can successfully use it to block spells, all right?"
(After working with wards)
Tolfdir: "Well, I think this is an excellent start. I'd like you all to continue practicing with wards, please. I think perhaps we're ready to begin exploring some of the various applications of magic throughout history. The College has undertaken a fascinating excavation in the ruins of Saarthal nearby. It's an excellent learning opportunity. I suggest we meet there in a few hours, and see what awaits us inside. That's all for now, thank you."

Under Saarthal[]

Tolfdir: "As some of you may know, Saarthal was one of the earliest Nord settlements in Skyrim. It was also the largest. Sacked by the elves in the infamous "Night of Tears," not much is known about what happened to Saarthal. This is an exciting opportunity for us. To be able to study such an early civilization, and the magics they used..."
(After speaking with Tolfdir)
Tolfdir: "Now, let's see. What shall we have the rest of you do? Brelyna, my dear, why don't you search for warding magics. Anything designed to keep people out. Don't interact with them, just identify them. All right, everyone. Let's be careful, but have fun!"
(When entering the room behind the Saarthal Amulet)
Tolfdir: "Well, this is highly unusual. And very interesting."

Inappropriate interruption[]

Ancano: "I'm afraid I must intrude. I need to speak to your associate immediately."
Tolfdir: "This is most inappropriate! We are involved in serious research here!"
Ancano: "[condescending] Yes, I've no doubt of its gravity. This, however, is a matter that cannot wait."
Tolfdir: "Well, I'm quite sure I've never been interrupted like this before...the audacity!...[to player] I suppose we'll have to continue this at some later time, when we can avoid interruptions."

The Eye of Magnus[]

Ancano: "You've come for me, have you? You think I don't know what you're up to? You think I can't destroy you? The power to unmake the world at my fingertips, and you think you can do anything about it?"
Tolfdir: "Spells have no effect!"
Ancano: "I am beyond your pathetic attempts at magic. You cannot touch me."
Tolfdir: "The staff! Use it on the Eye!"
Ancano: "Enough! Still you persist? Very well. Come then. See what I can do now."


  • Tolfdir has heterochromia iridum. His right eye is hazel and his left eye is green.
  • During the quest "The Staff of Magnus," Tolfdir is made Master Wizard, replacing the late Mirabelle Ervine.
  • Despite the Dragonborn being named Arch-Mage of the college after completing "The Eye of Magnus" quest, Tolfdir is effectively in charge of the college after that point. There are no more main duties or quests with other NPCs of the college than before. Tolfdir is also the one to answer to if the Dragonborn steals, assaults someone, or otherwise breaks the college's rules and ends up being forced to complete the quest "Rejoining the College."
  • He recognizes Talos as a Divine. In the quest "The Eye of Magnus," he exclaims "By the Nine...." and "What in Talos' name!"
  • Although he sells a ward spell during the Dragonborn's first lesson, and can be conversed with about how to use them, wards are from the school of Restoration, not Alteration.
  • Tolfdir, among several other characters, is voiced by George Coe, an original member of Saturday Night Live's first cast, and commonly known as the voice of Woodhouse from the FX series Archer.


This section contains bugs related to Tolfdir (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  •  PC   360   PS3   Tolfdir may travel to Whiterun Stables during Under Saarthal. From there, he moves near Mount Anthor, finally proceeding to Saarthal.
  •  PC   360   PS3   When teaching the Lesser Ward spell, Tolfdir may not shoot fire at the Dragonborn.
  •  PC   Tolfdir may only be able to sell Novice leveled spell tomes.
  •  PC   360   PS3   Tolfdir may repeatedly speak to the Dragonborn about saving the College, rendering him unable to sell items.
  •  360   He might disappear and it is unclear where he is. This is after he returns from Sarthaal. Keep in mind it may be scripted but it seems he is missing from the college area.