Tolfdir's class meets outside of Saarthal before beginning an academic exploration of the ruins. You can travel there with the other students as a group and they will help deal with any bears or trolls you may meet on the way. After some touring inside, Tolfdir asks the player to find Arniel Gane. Alternatively, the player can run ahead to the quest marker and simply speak to Arniel. The player must now fetch several artifacts; one of which being the Saarthal Amulet. The rest of the artifacts are very small and hard to see so follow the quest indicator markers to each. Picking up the amulet traps the player. To escape, simply equip the amulet and cast any spell on the tablet it originally came from. The tablet breaks into pieces revealing a passage. When Tolfdir gets down to the room at the end of the passage there will be a vision sequence. After talking to Tolfdir about the visions, deal with the draugr that appear from the three coffins in the room and then follow Tolfdir through the middle coffin. At a barred gate, look to the right and pull the lever. Dispatch the enemies in this room and the quest updates. Follow the marker to a gate in front of a door. Pulling both chains opens the next area.

Pillar Puzzle 1

In this area, there is a door on the second floor near a broken coffin; open it and proceed. There is a puzzle with 6 different movable pillars. The correct position for each pillar is shown on the wall directly behind them respectively. This is easily missed if you do not get right up next to the pillars. Using the candlelight spell makes them easier to see. In the next room there is a Draugr Deathlord. (Level dependent).

Pillar Puzzle 2


Now the player will come upon a second puzzle. There are four movable pillars. each pillar has the corresponding animals picture above and behind the moveable pillar. Each pillar is linked to the others, so that rotating one will rotate multiple (except for one). This is not random at all; rotating the southeastern pillar rotates all three other pillars, rotating the northeastern pillar rotates both of the west-side pillars, the southwestern pillar rotates itself and the northwestern pillar, and the northwestern pillar only rotates itself. With this in mind the easiest way to solve the puzzle is to align each pillar with its correct animal in the following order: SE (fish), NE (snake), SW (hawk), and finally NW (fish). Using this order bypasses the connected rotations since each pillar you complete is unaffected by the following pillars. The complexity of this puzzle makes it one of the most challenging puzzles in the game, which fits well with the theme of magic and it's associated intellectualism.

Under Saarthal

After puzzle 2, move down the stairs. Finally, Tolfdir catches up ("I thought it was high time I caught up with you"). He will follow the player now. In the final room, jump down to the glowing orb to start a battle with Jyrik Gauldurson. Initially Jyrik is invulnerable, but after about 30 seconds Tolfdir weakens Jyrik by casting a spell on the glowing orb in the room, allowing the player to deal damage. Loot him for the amulet and the Writ of Sealing; the letter, when read, will start the quest Forbidden Legend. Talk to Tolfdir to advance to next stage of the quest (Return to the College). Before leaving, take the Staff of Jyrik Gauldurson on the altar.

Open the door behind the artifact and jump down to the garden to find and learn the Dragon shout Ice Form. Travel back to the college and find Arch-Mage (Savos Aren). Inform him of the discovery and the player is rewarded with the Staff of Magelight.

There are a number of inconveniently placed traps which provide a great deal of problems for some followers such as dogs especially. Most are pressure pad. The swinging pendulums are also difficult for followers to navigate so keep healing spells handy or be ready to wait.


  • When first entering Saarthal, after Tolfdir goes through the door, he can sometimes end up in a completely random part of the world. (In mine, he teleported to Whiterun for some reason) After waiting a day, he reappeared inside the dungeon.
  • The door on which the Saarthal Amulet is found upon causes the game to crash when a spell is cast on it. This occurs while the player is trapped in the room and Tolfdir is watching.
    • One possible solution is to equip the Amulet plus one of the Rings the player has just collected.
    • The player can try to fire something like a Firebolt or other projectile spell at the door, then look away as quickly as possible so that it's not in the field of view when it breaks. Try standing up against the barred door in front of Tolfdir, aiming the recticle at the left side of the door, firing the spell, and then jerking the view as far to the left as possible. If the door breaks while looking away from it, the game should not freeze. Another way is to go to the barred door farthest from the stone door, where the player can only see the lowest part of the stone door and cast something like lightning bolt on it.
    • In some instances where Firebolt freezes the game, using Flames works.
    • If none of these work, as the spell is about to hit the door you can open console, or just keep tapping the console key as soon as you have fired the spell.
    • Also, playing the scene in windowed mode (as opposed to full-screen) works for some people.
    • Another option is setting the graphics settings on low, breaking the wall down and restoring the settings. Unfortunately, this necessitates exiting the game twice.
    • It has been found that equiping the amulet then standing as far from the breakable wall as possible, then using unrelenting force shout caused the barred doorways to open.
    • The gate before finding the amulet will sometimes close when the player equips the amulet, trapping Tolfdir. If the player continues down the hall the quest will update and he will warp through, however, when you are done with the events in Saarthal and are to return to the College, the gate will remain closed and the player is trapped. You cannot fix this once it has happened. Save the game and make sure the gate is open before progressing with the quest. Last resort: console command "TCL" will toggle no-clip to walk through the gate.
  • Jyrik Gauldurson's body may fall through the floor or disappear.
  • Equipping the Saarthal Amulet can cause players to have infinite magicka.
  • If the player is in beast form when Tolfdir catches up, the player will not be able to progress in the quest, even if the beast form wears off.
  • The six pillars will not rotate when trying try to spin them.
  • Pulling the lever in the room with four rotating pillars (right before Tolfdir rejoins you) can cause the player's follower to disappear.
    • To avoid this, dismiss the follower before pulling the lever.
  • At the second pillar puzzle, the game will not recognize the completed puzzle. When it is solved, darts still fire and the door will not open.
    • In a few circumstances, players have found the solution to be some other random combination of pillar faces.
    • Some people have opened the door by placing the pillars in the following order:
Left front: Snake
Left back: Whale
Right front: Whale
Right back: Bird
    • This can also be resolved by entering the console, selecting the lever at the center of the puzzle, and entering 'setpv numPillarsSolved_var 4', followed by 'setpv puzzleSolved_var true'. After exiting the console and activating the lever, the door should open as normal.
  • For some users, Tolfdir doesn't appear at the meeting place outside of the Saarthal entrance, and cannot be found anywhere in between Saarthal and The College of Winterhold. This persists after waiting several days in-game.
    • XBOX 360/PC SOLUTION: Traveling back to the college and entering the Hall of the Elements, and then returning to Saarthal fixed this.
    • PS3: If you open the door and try to return to the hall of elements (solution posted for 360/PC) your system crashes.
    • Another solution is to use console command player.placeatme 0001C19E while standing near the quest pointer.
  • After taking the amulet and going through the door, being killed by a draugr and reloading caused amulet to become invisible,
  • The player can fall through the floor in the hallway with the shock rune and will end up in the room in front of the glowing orb. Jyrik Gauldurson will be still seated and will not rise until the player backtracks and finds Tolfdir. However, Tolfdir will never cast a spell on the orb and Jyrick will be invincible indefinitely.
  • Sometimes in the room where the vision is supposed to take place the spirit will appear but no dialog will occur and the game will be stuck. You cannot fix this if you are inside the room because the way out will be blocked by an invisible wall. However, if it keeps happening, you can six this by quickly running in and then out of the room. Once the spirit appears, walk back out into Skyrim. This will allow the quest to continue.

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