It is the largest ruin in the game. The entire ruin is inaccessible unless the quest The Only Cure has been started.
Although Dwemer in origin and still harboring the creations of its original inhabitants, the Dwarven Automaton guardians, the site now primarily serves as the sanctum to Peryite's Afflicted and their leader, Orchendor. The exterior appears much like any other Dwemer ruin in Skyrim and is guarded by two of the Afflicted.
The exterior buildings cascade down towards a recessed rock face, where the entrance to the ruins' interior can be found. There are two levers near the entrance. The lever by the stairs activates a trap and the lever by the door lowers the bars which block the entrance.
Beyond the lever-controlled gate is a door that leads to another room. On the left (south) side are two chests with leveled loot. Straight ahead (west) is the door to the Bthardamz Upper District, the first part of the interior.
The Bthardamz Interior is a winding collection of districts and small connecting areas. There are three major districts, the Upper and Lower Districts and the main Arcanex. Three much smaller areas serve as thoroughfares or small alcoves, the Workshop, Dwelling and Study.
Bthardamz Upper DistrictEdit
This is perhaps the largest section of Bthardamz and appears to function as the living quarters for Peryite's Afflicted. Upon entering, the Dragonborn will see Dwemer pots that have been filled with a curious green liquid, not unlike the vomit that spews forth from the Afflicted themselves. The district has a heavy population of Afflicted mages, fighters, and archers that patrol the ruins. There are several chests scattered throughout the district, but approach with care, as one may set loose a few leveled Dwarven Spheres or spiders. The district is separated into two distinct areas and is bisected by the Bthardamz Workshop.
The first area of the Upper District is quite straightforward. There's a chest on one of the tables in the first room. Immediately after turning right (north), there is an intersection. Straight ahead is a novice-locked gate, while an open door leads to the left. The door leads to sleeping quarters of the Afflicted. The couple of Afflicted residing in these can be bypassed by going through the locked gate, or if the Dragonborn has a high Sneak skill, he/she can assassinate them, quietly. Beyond the gate are more Dwemer pots, and the hall turns left (west). An open door to the right (north) leads to a room with an adept-locked gate with a chest behind it.
Back in the hall, the hallway turns right (north), descends a ramp and finally opens up to a large hall. Entering the room, one of the first large chambers, one can overhear a prayer circle of three Afflicted calling out to their patron Peryite.
A hallway to the left (west) leads to the next large hall, which contains four Afflicted, some of which are patrolling. There are two spiral ramps and two sets of stairs leading up from this room. The stairs both lead to the same ledge overlooking the room, with a lever in the center that opens a spike gate on the other side. The ramps both lead to the gate. Near the bottom of the left (south) ramp going up to the next room is a gold ore vein, on the floor of the rocky area to the right of the ramp. Beyond the gate is a short passageway (south southwest) that leads to another room with a walkway to the left (east southeast). At the end of the walkway, it is possible to make a right-hand U-turn and head down to an area where the only notable item is a chest on the wall.
Through the next door, the hallway slopes down to the east and comes to an intersection. Straight ahead is a dead-end room with a couple of Dwarven Spheres and a wall chest. The Spheres will appear when the chest is approached. To the right (south) of the intersection the hallway slopes down to another Afflicted and a helicopter blade trap which is activated by the pressure plate in front of the blades' channel. At the bottom of the ramp is a closed but unlocked gate. Behind the gate, the path slopes further down to an area with three more Afflicted. Against the left (south) wall, a set of steps leads to a ledge with a short, squat pedestal with a potion on it. A set of steps leads up from the bottom of the room to the west to Bthardamz Workshop.
The Workshop is a fairly small section of the ruins. If the Dragonborn stops to listen, two Afflicted will be heard discussing Orchendor's request for "more ichor" to be sent to him in the Arcenex. This area seems to serve as resting quarters. On the right (north) side, an unlocked gate leads to one bedroom. To the left (south) is another bedroom with the Afflicted's Note on a table. Directly across to the north is another larger sleeping area.
The hallway turns left (south) to an open door that leads to another room, this one with three Dwarven Spiders who will drop down from the nearby pipes when approached. There's a chest and another hidden Spider behind the pipes against the north wall. The nearby east stairway leads up to a balcony in the Upper District with a chest and a good vantage point from which to fire on enemies in the district's as yet unexplored section. Returning to the workshop, the path to the south turns east, where two more Afflicted can be found. A chest is on the left (east) side. The path turns left ((east), then a door on the left (north) side leads to the second Upper District section.
Bthardamz Upper District revisitedEdit
Next is the area viewed from the balcony. The path takes an immediate U-turn to the right, then leads to a pair of stairs. The short stairs to the right (southeast) lead to the Dwelling (see below). To the left (north), a narrow path leads to a chest as the walls narrow to a dead end. Going straight up the first two stairways to the east and then to the left around the corner, there's a second chest tucked next to a balcony-type platform against the north wall. Staying at this height in the chamber, to the right (west) of the final set of stairs, a gold ore vein can be found against the south wall. Further on against that same south wall, after jumping across to the roof tops, is another chest. Back at the final stairs, the path leads to another set of ramps which lead to the door to the Lower District.
- NOTE: There is another way to the third chest described above. When entering the labeled door, it is possible to jump up the rocks to the right, which leads to the 'rooftops', and the third chest. From this vantage point, the Dragonborn can safely sneak attack the Afflicted, and also reach the upper level of the room, right near the gold ore vein.
The dwelling can be reached through the second section of the Upper District. Upon entering, the Dragonborn might be able to overhear a curious speech of one of the Afflicted. The Dwelling consists of a single room with two Afflicted, a chest, and an apprentice locked gate with the Speech skill book Biography of the Wolf Queen and another chest. Leaving the dwelling and following the stairway up will lead to the Lower District entrance.
Bthardamz Lower DistrictEdit
The Lower District commons are heavily patrolled by Afflicted as well as a few Dwemer automatons. Again, the Lower District is divided into two distinct areas by the Bthardamz Study.
The path starts out west, turns right (north), and leads to a room where a gate on the left side leads to a chest. The path continues to the north (where a few Spiders suddenly appear), then east, to a door. Behind that door, the Lower District opens up into an amphitheater with an Afflicted mage performing for his compatriots. Flipping the lever directly in front of the Dragonborn releases a set of helicopter blade traps that kills the mage, leaving his audience the only ones left to deal with. There is a very visible chest in the center of the room which can be reached easily as long as the blades are turned back off.
The path leads east, then north, to another large room with three sets of stairs. The left and right stairs lead to nothing but an empty ledge. The middle (northwest) steps lead to an open gate.
The next point of interest is a large cavern with a river. Numerous Afflicted will be patrolling the bridges which crisscross over the river. Again, this is a great spot for a sneaky archer. There's a small chest and a skeleton which can be found by jumping up the rocks to the left of the waterfall. It is possible to climb up the rocks to reach the walkway around the waterfall, but there are a couple of suddenly appearing Dwarven Spheres on the walkway. The yellow glowing bulbs growing on the plants will explode when struck by arrow, but have no other effect. A set of stairs leads down to the east, then turns south to get to a gold-colored path. To the right (south) on the path is a trap, but to the left of the trap is a small room with a chest. Continuing that way leads back to the river, along with a chest and lootable skeleton. Going the other way leads to a gold ore vein on the left (against the north wall), then stairs leading up to the right (south). Across a small walkway is a hallway that leads south, then east to the study.
Bthardamz Study and Lower District upper levelsEdit
The study is a very hallway-like area with a few enemies, chests and little else. With a sneaky character, it is actually possible to sneak through the Study without alerting a single enemy. At one point, there is a set of shallow steps leading up to the left ((east) that contain a spinning blade trap whose trigger is right at the bottom. Exiting the other side will lead to the upper tiers of the Lower District.
Traversing the catwalks starting to the right (north), the Dragonborn will encounter more Afflicted. Behind a gate at the dead end to the right (east, then south) is a chest with leveled loot. Up to the right (north), a ramp curls up to an area where three more mages are sitting. Continuing along the catwalk and hallways leads to the entrance to the Arcanex.
The Arcanex serves as the inner chambers and stronghold for the Afflicted Priest of Peryite, Orchendor. He is guarded by a formidable force of Dwemer Automatons, ranging from spiders to the ever-imposing Dwarven Centurion.
Upon entering, a cavern-like room is seen with a few Dwarven Spiders and Spheres patrolling the bottom. After winding along walkways along the bottom, a long spiral ramp leads up to the higher levels. Before going up the set of stairways, a quick left (east) leads to a nearby chest.
At the top of the second set of stairs, where the Centurion patrols, a quicksilver ore vein can be found to the left (east). The hallway leads south, turns left, then left again to another set of stairs up. The path turns left (west) then left again (south) where several Spiders are on guard. The hallway turns right (west), then leads to a room with two sets of steps down to the right (north). Directly ahead is a large column that can be passed on either side. Orchendor is on the other side of the column.
Orchendor is in a large chamber past the Centurion. He is a highly skilled mage who deals considerable Destruction damage. In addition, Orchendor is completely immune to fire, frost, and shock spells, as well as absorption effects; physical weapons are recommended. He is capable of teleporting and will often do so onto the upper tiers of the room, thus raining down fire and frost. Archery is a good choice because it can follow him as he teleports around the room. Once he is defeated, the key to the Bthardamz Elevator can be looted from his corpse to exit. The exit is beyond his room on the left side (against the west wall), then up stairs to the east, over the walkway/bridge to the west, then to the right ((north), where the key opens the door to the elevator.
- For a Dwemer Ruin, Bthardamz contains practically no dwarven scrap metal, save what can be found in chests and on steam animunculi. To offset this, however, Bthardamz contains many chests, and the Afflicted found here are known to have upwards of 100 septims on their person.
- Bthardamz Workshop
- Afflicted's Note - just after entering, there are a few rooms. The note can be found inside the first door on the left.
- Bthardamz Dwelling
- Bthardamz Arcanex
- If sneaking and undetected, one can listen in on some dialogue between Afflicted throughout the ruin. Just after killing (or sneaking past) two sleeping Afflicted and down some ramps are three Afflicted around a spew-covered column praying to Peryite:
Afflicted 1 "Peryite, heed our call and deem us worthy. Our leader, Orchendor, has led us here, and for that we are thankful. He has shown us that our suffering is not a punishment, but a blessing."
Afflicted 2 "Yes, a blessing. For many months we have sought your guidance, yet we have heard nothing from you. If we do not please you, give us a sign so we may understand why."
Afflicted 1 "Yes, a sign. We are lost without your guidance. On the ninth of Rain's Hand, our prayers went unanswered, yet here we stand unfaltering in our belief that you will soon show yourself to us."
Afflicted 2 "Yes, show yourself to us. Until that day, we will continue to devote our lives to you and suffer for you."
Afflicted 1 "Yes, suffer for you."
And in Bthardamz Workshop:
Afflicted 1 "I'm sorry to wake you, my brother, but I have a request from Orchendor."
Afflicted 2 "Yes, what is it?"
Afflicted 1 "He requests more barrels of ichor to be delivered to the Arcanex tonight."
Afflicted 2 "This is the reason you wake me? I already have Orchendor's request taken care of."
Afflicted 1 "I'm sorry, my brother."
Afflicted 2 "Now, leave me to my sleep. My strength and patience are waning."
Afflicted 1 "Yes, my brother. Forgive me. May the blessing of Peryite be with you."
Afflicted 2 "Yes, yes. As with you. Now, off with you."
In Bthardamz Dwelling, if sneaking and undetected, a female Afflicted can be heard talking to a male Afflicted, who is sleeping:
"Are you asleep? I know you can't hear me, brother, but I don't like what we've become. We've been here so long and what do we have to show for it? Orchendor promised a place where we'd be accepted and taken care of. He promised Peryite would be here at all times and comfort us in our suffering. Forgive me, brother, but I have not felt Peryite's presence. I want out. I want to leave this place. I long for the fresh air of the Reach. This place only makes us sicker. But who am I kidding. You wouldn't let me leave, brother. You truly believe in Orchendor and his promises. I know this place will eventually kill us. I have come to accept that. But I will always regret the day I introduced you to Orchendor."