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Outsiders view the college with indignation, believing its members to be the cause of the cataclysmic, "Great Collapse". The event left Winterhold in ruins.
Upon visiting the college, it can be joined by passing a test of merit, which typically requires the casting of a spell. The college must be joined during "Elder Knowledge" in order to progress the main quest. Joining the college opens a questline consisting of eight main quests and eight side quests, one of which is radiant. Because three followers are associated with the guild, completing their three personal quests allows them to become potential followers.
Three unique achievements can be unlocked by completing tasks for the college.
Before entering the college, the gatekeeper Faralda wishes to see a demonstration of magical powers. She requests to see a spell appropriate for the Dragonborn's level before gaining passage. These spells include:
Although she does not state it explicitly; some spells, e.g. Fear, must be cast at the emblem on the ground or she ignores it. If the spell she requests has not yet been learned, she offers to sell it for 30 gold . The gate beyond the bridge does not open until the proper spell has been demonstrated for Faralda.
A persuasion check bypasses this test. Additionally, revealing one's Dragonborn-identity to Faralda causes her to ask for a Thu'um demonstration. Successfully using it bypasses the spell-casting test. This option can only be used if the Dragonborn heeded the call of the Greybeards and headed to High Hrothgar to be instructed in Thu'um.
Rules and expulsion
Killing a student causes other college members to refuse speaking with the killer, starting the Rejoining the College quest. Stealing items from college members is also considered a crime.
The College of Winterhold is located north of Winterhold on a large cliff. A narrow bridge in a state of disrepair connects the city to the college.
The central courtyard is dominated by a statue of the first Arch-Mage of the College; this is the hub of the facility, offering access back out to the bridge and into the three Halls. The exterior windows offer exceptional views of the coastline.
The courtyard branches off to the three halls of the college. The Hall of Attainment, the living quarters for mage apprentices, is off to the left upon entering the college, while the Hall of Countenance, the living quarters for more advanced mages, is off to the right. Straight ahead lies the Hall of the Elements, the lecture hall of the college.
Papers kept in the College's library are meant to prove its age, reportedly dating back 700 years. However dialogue with Serana reveals it to be much older as she recalls the college from before she was entombed in the First Era.
As the College is independent from the Mage's Guild, Necromancy was never made illegal by the College, unlike the Arcane University in Cyrodiil. The practice is generally regarded as a tool, not a weapon, although practicing it outside of the College is advised against by Phinis Gestor. Like Cyrodiil, there are still wandering groups of Necromancers that do not function alongside the College. Because the College is independent of the jurisdiction of the Mages Guild, it was unaffected by the Necromancy Ban of 3E 431 and the subsequent eradication of that ban which led to battles against Mannimarco.
The college is often blamed for the Great Collapse of 4E 122 and is therefore widely distrusted. It is often believed that it was activities at the college that caused the disaster; the proof of this is that only the college remained untouched. The college has since been cautious as to avoid provoking the population of Skyrim. Many nationalistic Nords also do not trust the College because of the fact that the immigrant Dunmer make up the vast majority of the members within the faction. Additionally, most Nords view magic and its practitioners as spineless and weak, as stated quite humorously by a pair of feuding siblings upon entering Winterhold.
Lectures are held in the Hall of the Elements during the day. These cover a wide range of subjects and the Dragonborn is welcome to listen, provided the college has been joined.
"I would just like to remind everyone, once again, that Restoration is indeed a valid school of magic. It is absolutely worthy of research, despite many of the notes I've had left in my bed. And my desk. And on occasion, my meals. Anyone suggesting that Restoration is better left to the priests of the Temples, I think, is forgetting a few things.
Firstly, the ability to repel the undead cannot be ignored. Skyrim is well known to be full of these... Draugr, ancient Nord warriors who cannot find peace. I submit that everyone in this College has, at one time or another, relied on one of the Restoration spells that can keep them at bay.
Secondly, how can anyone forget wards? They have become essential to any mage working in dangerous situations. They are counted upon every bit as much as Candlelight, or Invisibility. But more importantly, wards have saved lives. This is a simple fact. Every mage in this College regularly uses wards for practice, so as to avoid physical harm. I truly hope that these points actually sink in, and that more care and thought is given to this subject in the future. Thank you."
"It is no secret that both the Synod and the College of Whispers have recently made inquiries as to the status of our College here in Winterhold. At this time, there is no indication that either group is aware of the other's correspondence. The College of Winterhold has thus far declined requests for direct meetings. This has been at the specific request of Arch-Mage Aren.
Aren believed that although the initial communications were innocent enough, they were sent with a particular motive in mind. The Synod's harsh rules and draconian structure are maintained only by suppressing any opposition to their Council's policies. It is entirely possible that they look to our College here in Winterhold in order to find supporters for their organization. Likewise, the College of Whispers has long been driven by its desire to directly oppose the Synod. They focus on research banned by the Synod, such as Conjuration and Necromancy. The College of Whispers hopes to learn that our College also supports these avenues of research. Thus they may claim that the Synod is indeed a political minority in the Empire and should be treated as such.
Our actual position and policies are irrelevant. No matter the facts of the response, it will certainly be twisted to suit the whims of either group. Indeed, it has been jokingly suggested that we send the exact same response to both, which each will warp into support for their side. At present, these two groups do little beyond attempting to gain the attention and favor of the Emperor. They appear to have little interest in real study and research for the sake of gaining knowledge.
Arch-Mage Aren believes that their conflict poses a significant threat to the autonomy of our College, and I concur. Falling in with either would threaten to draw much unwanted attention to our College. If either group goes through less official channels and attempt to contact you directly, please refer them to the College's Master Wizard. Say as little as possible so as to avoid compromising our neutral position."
"The existence of so-called "Doomstones" throughout Skyrim has been repeatedly verified. The meaning of these stones has not. The prevailing opinion of Skyrim natives is that the stones are indeed magical in nature. While there is no direct evidence of this, it does seem likely.
References to similar stones appear in lore throughout the various Tamrielic cultures. None, however, exactly match the markings or distribution of Skyrim's stones. At present, there is no confirmation of any of the various theories surrounding the nature of these stones. Their relative positions do not indicate that any individual stone is part of a larger, unobserved pattern. Also, their placement throughout Skyrim does not correspond to any known magical phenomenon.
The age of the stones themselves has yet to be officially determined. It has been widely assumed that they were placed during the Merethic Era. Writings from that period, including those of Ysgramor himself, do not mention the stones and thus this idea cannot be verified. Nonetheless, many are drawn to these stones based on the local stories describing them as a source of significant power. The College will continue to research these intriguing objects, and of course any findings will be relayed with all possible haste."
"As many know, there is an ongoing effort to research the work of the Archmagus Shalidor. He is most remembered for his great maze of Labyrinthian, said to hold "Glamoril", or the secret of life. While stories have persisted since the First Era, none have ever confirmed the existence of this "Glamoril" or its purpose or function.
The College has developed some theories, however. We know that Shalidor had an understanding of magic that surpassed almost any of either his age or ours. The few works of his that have been recovered suggest that he had an understanding of magic and the world that few have ever achieved. What is interesting is that it appears he was also incredibly prolific, writing on a diverse array of subjects. An array so great, in fact, that it remains a source of curiosity.
What, then, of this Glamoril? It means "secret of life" in elvish. Could this be an explanation for Shalidor's works? Is it possible that it somehow contributed to his work? Perhaps allowed him to life multiple lifetimes in a short span of time? Increased his intelligence and knowledge in ways unfathomable to us? We may never know for certain. The College is always searching for more of Shalidor's writings in an attempt to understand both our knowledge of the man, and of magic in general."
"Projects are underway to discern the origin and nature of the College's recent find in Saarthal. Any and all theories are currently being considered. Those with ideas should please speak with Mirabelle.
At this time, there is no indication that, as has been rumored, the object is in fact a physical part of Magnus, the god of magic. It has been suggested that the object is a gateway to the realm of Aetherius, but nothing has proven that idea one way or the other. It has been proposed that the object is in fact the entirety of Aurbis in one physical space. This would of course mean that Tamriel, indeed all of Mundus, is actually contained within the sphere.
It further suggests that we are somehow then outside our own existence while looking in at it. While the idea seems dubious at best, it has not, at present, been entirely ruled out."
As with most other places in Skyrim, the College is a possible spawning place for dragons - sometimes several dragons. The most commonly encountered dragon around level 20 and higher is the Blood Dragon and will usually respawn.
Just beneath the floor of the College quarters, there are four chests containing various high-leveled robes, tomes, soul gems, quest items, and other mage-oriented gear organized by magic school. They can be accessed on the PC version by typing "TCL" into the console to toggle no-clipping mode and enable walking through solid surfaces. On the console versions, these chests are randomly accessible due to bugs in the game's texture loading system. There may be a missing floor tile in the Hall of the Elements, revealing one of the chests. It is then reachable by crouching close to the chest without touching the broken floor. All objects taken from these chests are considered stolen.
Even after joining the College, Farengar Secret-Fire in Dragonsreach still says, "You know, if you have the aptitude, you should join the mages' college in Winterhold."
The College of Winterhold has more teachers than students at the time the Dragonborn joins.
This may be because most of the teachers are involved in their own research, much like real universities.
In the Hall of Elements, Colette Marence will host a meeting with all the teachers including the librarian, to explain that the school of Restoration is essential to the school of magic. When her speech is completed everyone returns to their daily positions.
After becoming the The Thieves Guild Master and obtaining the Amulet of Articulation. Joining the College by persuading Faralda will not allow the Miscellaneous quest "Discover College Of Winterhold" to be completed.
This section contains bugs related to The College of Winterhold. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
Confirm all bugs with other editors on the talk page before adding them below.
Always try reloading an old save first, before asking for assistance.
Dismissing a follower inside the Hall of the Elements while magic is being practiced causes the mages and the follower to become hostile towards one another. Usually, this causes the follower to be killed due to the multiple magic attacks.
Faralda may not recognize that the entry-spell is cast, preventing access to the college through the front gate.
Solution: Access The Midden by scaling the rock face the college sits on. The entrance lies at the foot of the cliff, near the back of the college. Upon entering, the other students and teachers treat the Dragonborn as a new student.
PC While taking the tour of the College, Mirabelle Ervine will sometimes pause and stare after talking about the history of that area.
Solution: Talk to her and she will say, "After I show you the grounds, we can talk." Then she proceeds with the tour.