As one of the major skills that you should invest in throughout your Skyrim playthrough, knowing where to increase your Smithing skill and create powerful armor and weapons is mandatory for higher-level play, especially if you are planning to play as a warrior or some variety. Not only is the Smithing skill great for obtaining weapons and armor that are otherwise difficult to obtain, like the Nordic Carved and Dragonbone armor, but it can also make a substantial difference in damage output with melee weapons as well.
While there are forges and blacksmiths dotted all around Skyrim and Solstheim, there are also four unique forges that are unlike any others found in the world. While some of these are simply unique in design and don’t offer the chance to create anything unique, others allow the creation of gear that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the game and are well worth investigating.
Located in Whiterun behind Jorvaskyrr, the Skyforge, run by Eorland Greymane, is one of two forges in the city, with the other, Warmaiden’s, under the ownership of Adrianne Avenicci. While the Skyforge allows Eorland to craft Skyforge Steel weapons, which have the same design as regular Steel weapons but have the same base damage as Elven weapons, you can’t forge this particular weapon variety yourself. However, after joining the Companions, you are able to buy Skyforge Steel weapons from him at any time and he is the only merchant in the game where they can be found.
While you can’t forge Skyforge Steel, if you have completed the Companion’s questline, you are able to craft Ancient Nordic Armor and Nord Hero weapons instead. The Ancient Nordic Armor is the same armor that most Draugr wear in Skyrim and is very difficult to find in most other instances, as it can’t be bought and is only found on certain enemies, such as the Dragon Cultists during the quest Seige on the Dragon Cult. The Ancient Nordic Armor looks fantastic, but it requires the Daedric Smithing perk to be unlocked while not having a particularly high base armor rating, being comparable to Iron Armor.
The Nord Hero weapons are, like the Ancient Nordic Armor, similar to that found on Draugr throughout Skyrim. However, unlike the Ancient Nordic weapons, the Nord Hero weapons have a distinctly cleaner look and deal more base damage, dealing the same as the Honed Ancient Nordic weapons. The means to craft Nord Hero weapons are a little different to other weapons, as you need the Ancient Nordic equivalent weapon, Steel Ingots, and Leather Strips rather than only requiring the raw materials.
Found in Silent Moons Camp, just a short distance from Whiterun, the Lunar Forge is normally crawling with bandits that need to be taken care of before you can enter the central smithing area. Although it appears to be like any other forge, with a grindstone, table, and forge being available for you to use, this forge is unique in that, at some point, it was discovered that weapons forged here would have the Silent Moons enchantment placed on them.
Unfortunately, while this would be an easy way to get enchantments on high-level weapons without investing in the Enchanting skill, this isn’t something that you can actually do without mods. However, you can find Lunar Iron and Lunar Steel weapons in the immediate area that can be broken down to learn the enchantment for yourself a place it on other weapons. These weapons respawn every few days and are a good way to get a decent weapon early on in the game, as most weapons you will find at early levels will be Iron or Steel anyway.
Found in the final part of the Lost to the Ages quest, this Dawnguard exclusive forge grants access to three powerful Dwarven artifacts: the Aetherial Staff, Shield, and Crown. After defeating the Forgemaster and uncovering the Aetherium Forge, you will be given the chance to create one of these items using the Aetherium shards you had collected throughout the quest. The necessary ingredients needed to forge these items are all found inside a chest to the right of the forge itself and prevent you from having to return with the right materials.
The Aetherium Shield will turn enemies ethereal when struck by the Shield Bash attack, making it a good way to stop taking damage from enemies if you are being swarmed, such as what happens in the Boethiah’s Calling quest.
The Aetherium Staff will summon a Dwarven Spider or Sphere for 60 seconds when used, though the staff doesn’t benefit from the Twin Souls Conjuration Perk. However, you can have both a summoned Dwarven automaton through the staff as well as the Steadfast Dwarven companions obtained through The Kagrumez Gauntlet. If the Master of the Mind Illusion perk is taken, they will benefit from the Courage, Rout, and Rally spells to allow give them more health and stamina.
The Aetherium Crown is the most powerful of the three items, as it allows you to have two Standing Stone powers at once while it is worn. While the Aetherium Crown is being worn, the Standing Stone power you had equipped on yourself will be moved to the crown, while the next power you take will not be locked to the crown. By putting once-per-day effects on the Aetherium Crown, you can use those effects multiple times in quick succession by simply un-equipping and re-equipping it and is particularly useful for using the Ritual Stone repeatedly in a dungeon.
Despite being called a forge, the Atronach Forge is far more useful for mages than warriors, in particular, those that invest heavily in Conjuration. Found in The Midden, the Atronach Forge requires items not usually used in Smithing, such as gemstones and various Salts, in order to summon items and creatures from Oblivion. The recipes themselves aren’t as easy to learn as those for regular Smithing, with some being quite convoluted and, although they can be looted from Conjurers, they are written in Daedric symbols rather than English.
Despite the complicated nature of the Atronach Forge, it is one of the easiest ways to get Daedric Armor in the game, along with certain Atronach staves and spellbooks that means you won’t need to find or buy them if you want to invest in Conjuration. In order to use the forge, you will need to complete the Conjuration Ritual Spell side quest for Phinis Gestor, which can only be started with a Conjuration level of 90 or higher. Luckily, Conjuration is one of the easiest magic skills in level up by simply casting Soul Trap on a corpse repeatedly.
Atronach Forge Recipes
While you can kill Conjurer’s over and over again until you find the right recipe you need to conjure something from Oblivion, it is much easier to use a guide to know exactly what you need.
You can summon a random piece of Daedric Armor by placing an Ebony Ingot, Daedra Heart, Void Salts, and a Greater or Grand Soul Gem into the lockbox before activation, with the same recipe being used for Daedric weapons but with the Void Salts being replaced by a Silver Sword. By using this recipe, you will not only receive a random piece of Daedric Armor, but the armor will also be randomly enchanted at a level equal to the size of the soul used in the Soul Gem. By saving and resetting, you can theoretically obtain an entire set with the desired enchantments by using the Atronach Forge, rather than having to invest in Smithing and Enchanting.
If you want a particular piece of Daedric armor or Daedric weapon, you need to place a Daedra Heart, Ebony weapon or armor of your choice, a Centurion Dynamo Core, and a Black Soul Gem. While the necessary ingredients are harder to obtain, you will get the weapon or armor piece that you actually want rather than a randomized version and is more suited to players who want to customize their enchantments more than can be allowed by summoning random pieces.
Aside from weapons and armor, you can also summon Spell Tomes for Summon Flame Atronach, Frost Atronach, and Storm Atronach. All of these will become available to you long before you have reached level 90 in Conjuration, but this is a far cheaper way of obtaining them. The recipe for the Flame Atronach Spell Tome requires a Ruined Book, Fire Salts, Dragon Tongue, and Bear Pelt, the Frost Atronach requires a Ruined Book, Frost Miriam, Ice Wolf Pelt, and Frost Salts, while the Storm Atronach requires Ruined Book, Void Salts, Deathbell, and Mammoth Tusk.
If you prefer a staff over a Spell Tome, the recipe is a little different but will allow you to cast the spells more efficiently at the cost of not gaining experience in Conjuration. Each staff requires a Broom and either a Greater or Grand Soul gem, but the last two ingredients are different depending on the type of Atronach you want the staff to summon. For Fire Atronachs, you need Fire Salts and a Corundum Ingot, for Frost Atronachs, you need Frost Salts and Refined Moonstone, and for Storm Atronachs, you need Void Salts and an Orichalcum Ingot.
While Salts and Daedra Hearts are needed for just about every recipe, simply buying them can become expensive very quickly. Thankfully, the Atronach Forge also allows you to create these items yourself, with the various Salts requiring a Salt Pile, Soul Gem, and either a Ruby, Sapphire, or Amethyst for the Fire, Frost, and Void Salts respectfully. A Daedra Heart can be made by simply combining a Human Heart and a Black Soul Gem, both of which can be found quite easily through the Companion’s questline.
Finally, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can summon unbound Atronachs to the forge that can be turned with Command Daedra spell or simply defeated. Flame Atronachs require a Ruby and Fire Salts, Frost Atronachs require a Sapphire and Frost Salts, while Storm Atronachs require an Amethyst and Void Salts. If you place a Skull, Daedra Heart, and either Dog, Horse, or Horker Meat into the forge, it will summon a random Dremora instead, which is a good way of getting a Dremora mage rather than using the warriors that are summoned with the Sanguine Rose or Conjure Dremora Lord.
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Callum Archer is a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia. He is an avid gamer, Nintendo fanboy, and lover of weird sci-fi novels, who also dabbles in manga from time to time, usually dark and twisted work like Uzumaki and Death Note.
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