First Lessons | Side quests

Our guide to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim features a detailed walkthrough of the First Lessons side quest, which is affiliated with the College of Winterhold (mages guild). In this guide, we explain how to gain access to the College of Winterhold (there are multiple ways to enter the mages guild).

  • Activating the quest
  • New main objective: Report to Mirabelle Ervine
  • New main objective: Tour the College of Winterhold
  • New main objective: Listen to Tolfdir

Activating the quest

Note that this isn’t a side quest, but one of the College of Winterhold (Mages Guild) missions. It’s included in this guide because completing it is necessary for Forbidden Legend.

To activate the first quest of College of Winterhold, you must first locate the area. Head to Winterhold, situated in the northeast part of Skyrim (as seen in the screenshot above). If you have already visited the town, use fast travel. If not, you’ll need to plan your journey. The easiest way to reach Winterhold is by hiring a carriage (e.g. in Whiterun Stables).

After arriving at Winterhold, look for the large bridge (as shown in the screenshot above), since it’s the only way to access the College of Winterhold.

As you approach the bridge, Faralda will stop you and inform you that only authorized individuals can enter the College. The easiest way to resolve this issue is to accept Faralda’s proposal for a short test to demonstrate your usefulness and magical abilities (as seen in the screenshot above).

Faralda will ask you to cast a random spell. If you already know the spell, you can skip to the next step. Otherwise, you’ll need to unlock it, and the simplest method is to request Faralda’s assistance (as seen in the screenshot above), as it will only cost you 30 gold to learn it.


Whether you had the spell or had to request Faralda’s help to learn it, you must now cast it. Choose the spell and make it active. In most cases, you’ll need to cast it on the seal on the ground (as seen in the screenshot above), unless you’re asked to perform a summoning, in which case you should aim somewhere beside you. Remember not to aim it at Faralda, as it may provoke her into a fight!

There are two other methods of gaining access to the College. If your character has highly developed Speech, you can attempt persuasion. Another option is to inform Faralda that she’s speaking with the Dragonborn (as seen in the screenshot above). For obvious reasons, you can only use this option if you’ve unlocked at least one Shout (by meeting the Greybeards during the main quests).

Faralda will ask you to prove that you’re the Dragonborn. As a result, press TAB, open the Magic menu, and activate any Shout you like. I’d suggest selecting Unrelenting Force and pressing Z (as seen in the screenshot above), which will only slightly harm her.

Feralda will allow you to enter the College no matter which method you choose. She will take you to the main square and direct you to speak with Mirabelle Ervine. If you plan on completing the College quests after finishing the main story, keep in mind that you can access it during Elder Knowledge. The quest “First Lessons” will be unlocked once you enter the College. Your new main objective will be to report to Mirabelle Ervine, who will provide you with basic mage equipment. She will then offer you a tour around the College, which you should agree to. After the tour, Mirabelle will take you to the Hall of Attainment and show you your assigned room. You will then head back to the main square to learn that Tolfdir will conduct your first training. Your new main objective will be to listen to Tolfdir, who will ask you a question about the danger of using complex spells. He will then inform the students that the first test will concern using protective spells, and you will have to cast the Lesser Ward spell. After casting the spell, Tolfdir will invite the students to another lesson outside the College, in the Saarthal ruins excavation.

FAQ

1. What are side quests in video games?

Side quests are optional missions that players can complete in addition to the main storyline of a video game. These quests often provide additional challenges, rewards and opportunities to explore the game world. They can range from simple tasks like collecting items or defeating enemies to more complex objectives like solving puzzles or making choices that affect the game’s narrative. Side quests can add depth and replay value to a game, as well as provide a break from the main story.

2. Why should players complete side quests?

Players should consider completing side quests because they offer several benefits. First, they can provide additional experience points or valuable items that can make the main story easier. Second, side quests can reveal more about the game world and its characters, adding depth and complexity to the overall narrative. Third, side quests can be a fun and rewarding challenge for players who enjoy exploring and experimenting within a game. Finally, completing side quests can often unlock additional content or alternate endings, making the player’s overall experience more rewarding.

3. Are side quests necessary to complete a video game?

No, side quests are not necessary to complete a video game. They are optional and can be skipped entirely if the player chooses. However, completing side quests can enhance the player’s experience and provide additional challenges and rewards. Some games may require players to complete certain side quests in order to unlock certain content or achievements, but this is not always the case. Ultimately, the decision to complete side quests is up to the player and their personal preferences.

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