Traversing Labyrinthian, the Dragonborn searches for the fabled Staff of Magnus, which is needed to control the Eye of Magnus. Morokei, a Dragon Priest, holds the staff and must be battled to obtain it. The battle is difficult and recommended for levels 20 and above.
Shock-resistant armor will make this quest easier, as the boss uses high level shock magic and can summon a Storm Atronach. The Arch-Mage's Quarters at the College of Winterhold has a pair of boots with 40% shock resistance on top of the short wardrobe to the right of the bed. Also in the quarters is a Draught of Resist Shock on the shelves with the alchemical ingredients. Approximately four potions of resist shock can be made with the ingredients found here, alleviating some of the difficulty of the boss battle.
Upon arriving at Labyrinthian, there are many staircases leading up. Following the quest marker up the steps leads to a large stone door named the Ceremonial Door. Just before the door is reached, a conversation takes place between the ghosts of six former College mages who undertook an expedition within Labyrinthian. The group is led by Atmah and also includes Savos Aren, Takes-In-Light, Elvali Veren, Girduin, and Hafnar Ice-Fist.
Once the ghosts disappear, the door can be opened. Opening it requires the Torc of Labyrinthian, which was given to the Dragonborn by Mirabelle Ervine following Savos Aren's death. Thus, Labyrinthian is entered.
The foyer inside the entrance contains numerous skeletons. On the right (east) side, on a table, is a randomly generated spell tome. Possible tomes found here include Detect Life, Ironflesh, Telekinesis, Waterbreathing and Equilibrium. Upon approaching this table, the six ghosts will appear again, talking about what they expect to find inside. An iron door on the north end leads further in to the ruin.
A path leads down and curves to the right (east). Just outside a narrow passageway, that leads to a closed iron gate, is a lever that opens them. The gate remains open only for a short time, so sprinting is advisable; Whirlwind Sprint will almost certainly achieve this. Alternatively, however, ranged attacks which can be fired through the bars may be a wise idea. The huge room beyond the bars contains several animated skeletons, including a Skeletal Dragon. All of these can be looted once defeated, although it should be noted that the dragon does not have a soul to absorb. There are also several urns scattered about the edges of the room, containing gold and a few potions.
At the eastern end of the room, steps lead down to a pedestal on which is an etched tablet. Upon approaching the pedestal, the mage ghosts appear again, in which they discuss their encounter with the dragon and other skeletons and the fact that Girduin perished in the battle.
The etched tablet reads:
"Hail All - Brave City Bromjunaar
Forever These Walls Shall Stand
May Enemies See Her Majesty
May all Quake to Behold Her"
The path turns right (south) down stairs to double wooden doors that enter the next area.
Against the right (west) wall is a raised area with a bench. To the right of the bench, behind a pillar, is an urn containing minor loot. The main chamber has two sets of downward steps to the south - the left steps come to a dead end with several urns.
Down the right-hand stairs is a room that holds a frozen door and two guardians: a Restless Draugr, which is in an alcove in the right (northwest) wall, and a Frost Spirit that emerges from the iced-over door. An ethereal voice speaks to the Dragonborn before they enter the room; this experience depletes all of the Dragonborn's magicka. A door is covered in ice and impassable, so melt the ice using Flames, Fire Breath, or another form of fire magic. After the door opens a "frost spirit" (which is a ghost) appears and will either attack with Ancient Nord Swords or frost magic. A Flames spell tome is in an alcove in the south wall.
The door just opened reveals a passage down to the west. Starting down the path will trigger another encounter with the ethereal voice that drains magicka. The passage opens up to a pit with a walkway curving down roughly counter-clockwise. At the landing are two draugr wights, a troll, or a frost atronach, depending on the Dragonborn's level. An opening to the south lies behind them. It leads down, turns right (west), and heads down another staircase where a draugr awaits. At the bottom, the path turns left (south).
On the left (east) side is a door, sealed with a Lightning Rune. This rune does approximately 100 points of lightning damage and wards do not protect against it. However, the draugr in the room can open the door from the other side and set off the rune. Flinging projectiles at the trap may spring it prematurely. In this room, on a table, sits a spell tome for the Alteration spell Equilibrium which turns 25 points of health into magicka per second. There is also an Alchemy Lab and an Arcane Enchanter, along with a chest and some supplies. In a chair, in front of the enchanter, sits the skeleton of a novice conjurer with some loot.
Back out in the original pit, continuing down further, triggers a third encounter with the magicka-draining voice, who this time speaks in English ("Must I use this guttural language of yours?"). At one point, it is possible to turn left (south) or go straight (west) across a stone walkway.
Across the walkway is an opening leading northwest up a few stairs. After a jog to the right, there is an arched walkway with a draugr standing guard on the other side. Beyond it is another draugr. At the northwestern end of the room are several urns and a piece of gold ore.
Turning around, a set of steps leads down back to the southeast (next to the walkway just crossed). There are several shelves and an urn with minor loot. To the left (north northwest), an open wooden door leads to a rough passage down to a river. Against the right wall, a ledge leads to a dead Argonian, a Coin Purse, and a chest.
The river flows left (north) to a door to the next section. However, it is also possible to turn right (south) and walk through the rest of the cave that was skipped before. There is a Nirnroot on the right side. Near the end, a set of steps leads up to the left (east) to a dead end. At the very end, a rough ledge leads back up to the right, and eventually back to the place where the voice was heard for the third time.
Back in the river, now following the current, the magicka-draining voice speaks for a fourth time ("Have you returned, Aren? My old friend."). A door leads to the next section, the Labyrinthian Thoroughfare.
The path starts out to the west, through a metal gate to where several draugr and/or skeletons lie in wait. A novice-locked gate lies ahead, but an alternate path leads right (north). Through the gate, the path turns left (south) and leads to an iron grate that can't be opened. There is a path to the right (west) just before the grate that leads to an alcove with two chests and two urns. The path turns right, then left and leads to a broken archway from which it is possible to jump down to water.
However, returning to the room with the novice gate and following the path north, it immediately turns back left (west). Upon starting down that path, the magicka-draining voice says, "Do you seek to finish that which you could not?" The path turns right again. At the point of the next turn, a small pool of water to the right has a piece of malachite ore. It may be necessary to move it to a shallower location to pick it up.
Continuing forward to the west, there is a stone walkway straight ahead, but it leads to a dead end. It is possible to turn left and walk down the rough area to which it was possible to jump down earlier. At the end with the waterfall, the path turns right, then leads down a free-standing set of steps to the floor of a large room. Behind these steps against the southern wall of the room is a chest. Against the northern wall are three fixed grates that provide a view of a room beyond. Against the eastern wall is a passageway leading north that is protected by a troll. Along this path, the magicka-draining voice speaks again, saying, "You only face failure once more."
This path leads to an opening midway up the wall of an even larger room. A staircase along the right-hand (east) wall leads down to a landing. An arched walkway leads left (west), while the stairs continue down to the floor, where several draugr or skeletons lie in wait. Across the walkway, the path leads west past a troll to a room that contains another troll, a chest, an urn, and several bunches of nightshade.
Back in the main room, halfway down the steps, the voice says, "You are not Aren, are you? Has he sent you in his place?" At the southwestern end of the room are two gold ore veins, although one can not be mined.
The northeastern end of the room has another gate, operated by a lever. Beyond the gate is a pathway to the left. At the end, turning left (southwest) leads to a set of steps going up to the left the eventually come out on the area above the battlements of the gateway; a chest and a skull are found here.
Back down the steps and heading northeast, there are three wisps floating around a fire and what appear to be gravestones. The wisps are non-hostile until the Dragonborn runs past them, or attacks first. The Wispmother will appear on the raised platform near the empty coffins.
In the northeastern corner of the room, from the raised platform, an opening leads to a door which is on fire. When approaching it, the voice says, "Did he warn you that your own power would be your undoing. That it would only serve to strengthen me?" If the door is approached too closely, a fire spirit may attack, as the frost spirit had earlier, though it can cast fire magic as well as melee attacks.
The door can be opened with frost magic, such as Frostbite, Frost Breath or other frost-based magic. A Frostbite spell tome and two Scroll of Ice Spikes are found to the left of the door within a small gray circle.
The door leads east to a junction. Proceeding straight leads to a dead end with several urns. To the left (north), a metal gate opens to a small room, where another vision of Savos Aren and his expedition is seen. The group has again grown smaller, as Elvali Veren was killed by "something from behind" before anyone could save her. The room contains a spiral downward ramp that leads nowhere.
Moving forward to the east, the voice says, "Come, face your end." At the other end is a small room with a waterfall falling on a metal grate in the floor. A skeleton, a draugr wight, and a spectral warhound are all here. The wight may drop a Drainheart sword or similar item, as do many of the other spectral foes in this dungeon.
The path proceeds southeast, then east, leading down some stairs. It turns left (north), then left again (west). In the next room are two more spectral foes, and a skeletal compatriot below them. A gold ingot and a soul gem can be found on a bookcase in the upper level where the room is first entered. There are two spectral foes beyond the next door. The path then leads right and down steps to a door to the Labyrinthian Tribune.
The Tribune is a tomb, with more spectral foes to defeat. The path starts out heading west. It turns left (south), and heads down a set of stairs to a pedestal with a spell tome of Steadfast Ward and a chest. After turning right (west), more stairs lead down to fireball and ice storm traps. These traps can be deactivated with anything that dislodges the soul gems powering them (e.g., arrows or a fireball spell), or one can simply run in and take the gem before it fires. The shout "Become Ethereal" can be used to gather them one by one without taking damage.
At the end of the hallway, steps go up to the right (north). At the top, the path goes left (west) to a large pit. To the left, a wooden walkway leads up into a tower with several spectral foes, two chests and several urns. A ledge along the right wall leads down to more spectral enemies. At the very bottom is a pool.
Before reaching the bottom, a path leads west. Walking through it triggers another drain of magicka, although with no voice this time. At the end is a T intersection. To the left is an adept-locked gate. Beyond this is some worthwhile loot, including an ebony shield, an enchanted sword, and a unique helmet.
Back at the T intersection, to the right, steps lead down to a door where magicka is drained with no warning. Beyond it, a draugr deathlord sits on a throne facing away from the door; with a high Sneak skill, the Dragonborn can approach it without detection and do some damage before it has a chance to rise. Once defeated, down the stairs is a word wall to learn the word of power for the Slow Time shout. There is also a chest hidden on the right (north) side of the room behind a dead tree.
The next hallway contains a few foes - two draugr, and two other foes, which the Dragonborn can draw out of hiding by firing an arrow down the hallway. In the alcove on the left side of the hallway are two Ebony Ingots.
At the far end, in the next room, another vision of Savos and friends appears, in which they talk about how their number has again decreased; Takes-In-Light was mortally injured and urged the remaining three companions to leave her, but the spirits of Savos, Atmah, and Hafnar pledge to one another that they will see their quest through to its end. This room contains more loot, including a black soul gem.
To the left (south), behind a final door, stands the Dragon Priest Morokei, who wields the long-sought Staff of Magnus. He is sealed inside a magical aura, which is being sustained by a pair of Enthralled Wizards; these are all that remain of Atmah and Hafnar, whom Savos sacrificed in order to contain the power of the Dragon Priest.
This fight is not recommended for levels 20 and below. Morokei uses wards, shouts, Mage Armor, and shock spells, but also has a spell which may convert summoned beings or zombies against their summoner. Summoners using scrolls are not affected by this either.
Once he locks onto his target, he does not move. As he has high-damage spells, attacking him at melee range is difficult; ranged attacks are effective. The Bretons' Dragonskin power is very useful to kill Morokei by the fact that each attack he uses against the Dragonborn will instantly regenerate their magicka. Shock resistant armor and potions help diminish the effectiveness of his attacks, and a shock resistance score of 80% is enough to be completely invulnerable to his attacks. Also, The Atronach Stone's power will absorb his spells, refilling magicka instead of causing harm, and when he uses the Staff of Magnus against the Dragonborn to refill his magicka, the Stone's power will make the attack refill the Dragonborn's magicka, instead of draining it. This makes it possible for those of a lower-level (10+) to defeat him without a prolonged fight. The Slow Time shout can be used to slow down his attacks, making dodging much easier. Using a weapon with the "drain magicka" enchantment, such as the Drainspell Bow found earlier in the dungeon, is also an effective strategy, particularly when used in conjunction with an atronach or summoned daedra, to allow for ranged attacks whilst the conjured creature prevents the Dragon Priest from causing harm. Combining ranged attacks with a high Sneak skill can potentially prevent Morokei from doing any damage to the Dragonborn at all before he is defeated.
To kill Morokei, it is necessary to kill the enthralled wizards first. At that point, Morokei becomes free. Using long range attacks from above will finish him off. From this position, his spells may not reach the Dragonborn and hurt them.
There is a chest at the bottom of the pool of water. Note that a Slaughterfish is in the pool. There are Deathbells near the pool. Behind the ledge where the lower of the two Enthralled Wizards was positioned is the staircase leading to the exit. There are two chests in this room; one is right near the exit door, while the other is concealed in a narrow passage on the left (north) side of the stairs (it can be viewed from the chamber where Morokei was slain through a gated window).
One last ghostly vision is encountered upon leaving, in which Savos Aren apologizes to his dead friends for having sacrificed them to seal Morokei, and promising that he will make sure no one is ever able to enter Labyrinthian again.
Finally, up the path to the east, then turning south and climbing stairs, an opening to the sky can be found. To the left (east) is a gate with a lever beside it. When it is opened, Estormo, a Thalmor mage, attacks so that he can retrieve the staff of Magnus for Ancano. He can be killed, or it is possible to sneak past him. Proceeding south leads to a ladder that allows exiting to Skyrim.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to return to the College of Winterhold, because it is now completely surrounded by the force of the Eye. Tolfdir is found outside, battling more magic anomalies. Talking to him reveals that Mirabelle Ervine is dead, sacrificing herself to make sure everyone else escaped. This completes the quest and begins the next, "The Eye of Magnus."
The following remarks can be heard at intervals throughout the exploration of Labyrinthian. Each time Morokei speaks to the Dragonborn, the Dragonborn's magicka is completely drained by the experience.
- "Wo meyz wah dii vul junaar?" Who comes to my dark kingdom?
- "Nivahriin muz fen siiv nid aaz het." Cowardly men will find no mercy here.
- "You do not answer...Must I use this guttural language of yours?"
- "Have you returned, Aren? My old friend?"
- "Do you seek to finish that which you could not?"
- "You only face failure once more..."
- "You...You are not Aren, are you? Has he sent you in his place?"
- "Did he warn you that your own power would be your undoing? That it would only serve to strengthen me?"
- "Come. Face your end."
I need to retrieve the Staff of Magnus from within Labyrinthian and return with it to the College of Winterhold. Only the staff will help me put an end to Ancano's abuse of the Eye of Magnus.
I have recovered the Staff of Magnus, and need to get it back to the College at once.
I have recovered the Staff of Magnus.
- Killing one of the enthralled wizards, exiting the dungeon, and returning may cause their magicka chain to remain, allowing for infinite health and magicka restoration while standing in it.
- When fighting the skeletal dragon, the subtitles show that the dragon uses the power-word "Yol" for fire, but the actual attack is an ice attack.
- Using the Clairvoyance spell after defeating Morokei will lead the Dragonborn back through Labyrinthian to the entrance, rather than towards the exit. Following Clairvoyance will cause the Dragohnborn to miss the speech of Savos Aren's ghost and the fight with Estormo.
- Despite the fact that one of the two wizards left behind was Atmah, a woman, both of the Enthralled wizards are male.
This section contains bugs related to The Staff of Magnus (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
|Click to see the list of bugs encountered|
|College of Winterhold Quests|
|Main Quest||First Lessons • Under Saarthal • Hitting the Books • Good Intentions|
Revealing the Unseen • Containment • The Staff of Magnus • The Eye of Magnus
|Side Quests||Arniel's Endeavor • J'zargo's Experiment • Brelyna's Practice|
Onmund's Request • Out of Balance • Rejoining the College
|Master Spell Quests||Alteration Ritual Spell • Destruction Ritual Spell • Conjuration Ritual Spell|
Illusion Ritual Spell • Restoration Ritual Spell
|Radiant Quests||Aftershock • Tolfdir the Absent-Minded • Fetch Me That Book!|
Shalidor's Insights • Enchanting Pick-Up • Restocking Soul Gems
|Other Quests||Lost Apprentices • Forgotten Names|