|Location||Hall of the Elements
Hall of Attainment
|Level||PC×1 (range=15-50)||Class||Fire/Frost/Shock Mage|
|Primary Skills||Destruction, Restoration, Alteration, Conjuration|
|Perks||Atromancy; Augmented Flames (rank 2); Augmented Shock (rank 2); Mage Armor (rank 2); Magic Resistance (rank 2); Regeneration; Respite; Ward Absorb|
|Essential||Yes, until The Eye of Magnus|
|Faction(s)||FavorExcludedFaction; Thalmor Splinter Faction|
Ancano is a High Elf elemental mage and an agent of the Thalmor. He resides at the College of Winterhold, where he serves as an "advisor" to the Arch-Mage. The College community demonstrates a palpable mistrust toward him due to his Thalmor allegiance. As the College quest line unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that Ancano is involved in a sinister plot on behalf of the Thalmor; and that the discovery of a strange orb underneath Saarthal is key to some ominous scheme.
While he claims to be the Thalmor advisor for Arch-Mage Savos Aren, Ancano seems to show up everywhere except consulting to the Arch-Mage. He spends all of his time inside the Hall of the Elements, carefully listening to everything that is going on. When he is not busy with his many quest-related actions, he sleeps in his room on the ground floor of the Hall of Attainment between midnight and 4am.
He wears Thalmor robes with matching boots and gloves. He knows a huge number of spells. From the school of Destruction he knows Chain Lightning, Fireball, Firebolt, Incinerate, and Thunderbolt. From the school of Restoration he knows Close Wounds, Fast Healing, Grand Healing, Greater Ward, and Steadfast Ward. Lastly, he knows the Conjure Frost Atronach spell.
- Hitting the Books: Find the books needed to identify the artifact found in Saarthal.
- Good Intentions: Find and consult the Augur of Dunlain.
- Revealing the Unseen: Learn the location of the Staff of Magnus.
- The Eye of Magnus: Reclaim the College and contain the Eye.
He is unpleasant and patronizing and will greet you with a threat:
- "Another new Apprentice, I see. Are you of the sort that believe you're here to change the world? Or are you only in it for yourself? I assure you that I shall be watching you -- all of you -- very closely."
At all other times, he will look at you in disgust and say:
- "I have many important things on my mind. Your concerns are not among them."
- "Are you quite sure we need to be speaking?"
- "I'm disappointed to say I've learned little during my time here."
- "I had hoped your scholars would be on a level comparable with my own colleagues. They are not."
He will, however, answer a few basic questions. On the Thalmor, he will say:
- I'd like to know more about the Thalmor.
- "Now that stability has been established between the Dominion and the Empire, we seek only to help Skyrim. To guide its people through this time of transition, to help lead them to a better future."
- What is it you do here?
- "I am an advisor to the Arch-Mage. The Thalmor wish to promote relations with your College. I am at the Arch-Mage's disposal if he requires advice."
- Does the Arch-Mage often ask for advice?
- "Perhaps not as often as he should. In time, I believe he will be more trusting."
Mirabelle: "I believe I've made myself rather clear."
Ancano: "Yes of course. I'm simply trying to understand the reasoning behind the decision."
Mirabelle: "You may be used to the Empire bowing to your every whim, but I'm afraid you'll find the Thalmor receive no such treatment here. You are a guest of the College, here at the pleasure of the Arch-Mage. I hope you appreciate the opportunity."
Ancano: "Yes, of course. The Arch-Mage has my thanks."
Mirabelle: "Very good. Then we're done here."
If approached, Ancano will then address you directly about the event:
- "Your superior and I were simply having a... discussion about my level of access to the College."
- Your discussion sounded like an argument to me.
- "Well, perhaps that is why you're merely an Apprentice here."
- Is there some kind of problem?
- "Nothing you need to concern yourself with. I shall be quite capable of observing everything that goes on here."
Mirabelle Ervine will also occasionally walk up to Ancano at random times and curtly address him:
Mirabelle: "I've had yet another complaint. Please stop barging in on experiments in progress."
Ancano: "My dear, I am merely observing the proceedings."
Mirabelle: "Well then 'observe' from a greater distance. You're making people uncomfortable."
Hitting the Books
After you return from Saarthal and report to Savos Aren about the strange Orb, thus starting the quest Hitting the Books, Faralda will seek you out to issue a warning about Ancano. After this warning, you can confront Ancano with the rumors floating through the College:
- There's a rumor that you're spying for the Thalmor.
- "What? Preposterous, and just the sort of thing I would expect from mages who have nothing better to do with their time. I have made it quite clear that my only role here is as an advisor to the Arch-Mage. I would suggest that you not further spread this rumor."
Faralda will prove to have been right when she told you she thought Ancano was looking for you: As soon as you have talked to Urag gro-Shub about the missing books, Ancano will suddenly appear right behind you in the Arcanaeum and start interrogating you about Saarthal:
- "You there. I have questions for you. You were in Saarthal, yes? It has come to my attention that something was found there."
- "I know full well that you have. Please do not insult my intelligence. Tolfdir is still there now, is he? I shall expect a full report when he returns."
- Yes, we did. I just informed the Arch-Mage.
- "I am well aware. Tolfdir is still in Saarthal, is he? I shall be expecting a full report from him when he returns."
Either leads to:
- How do you know anything about this?
- "It is my job to know these things. My role as advisor to the Arch-Mage is aided by knowing everything that transpires here."
- Why does this matter to you?
- "Something was discovered in Saarthal that was significant enough that Tolfdir sent a new member of the College, alone, to deliver word. That sounds precisely like the sort of thing that should matter to everyone. Especially me. Thank you for your help. You may go now."
He'll then leave you alone to take care of the rest of Hitting the Books.
The plot thickens as you are told to talk to Tolfdir, who will wander around the Orb in a fascinated state, rambling on. Before long, Ancano will show up and interrupt, causing a brief conversation with an insulted Tolfdir:
Ancano: "I'm afraid I must intrude. It is urgent that I speak with your associate immediately."
Tolfdir: "Now, I... This is most inappropriate! We are involved in serious research here!"
Ancano: "Yes, I've no doubt of its gravity. This, however, is a matter that cannot wait."
Tolfdir: "Well, I'm quite sure I've never been interrupted like this before... the audacity!... I suppose we'll continue this at some later time, when we can avoid interruptions."
While Tolfdir walks away, Ancano turns to you:
- "I need you to come with me immediately. Let's go."
- I don't understand what's going on.
- "Really? Well, allow me to clarify the situation. I'd like to know why there's someone claiming to be from the Psijic Order here in the College. More importantly, I'd like to know why he's asking for you specifically. So we're going to go have a little chat with him, and find out exactly what it is he wants."
- Why are you so concerned about this?
- "I'll be the one asking the questions. All you need to know is that the Psijic Order is a rogue organization, believing themselves to be above the law. They have clashed with the Aldmeri Dominion before, and I have no intention of allowing that to happen here."
- Aren't you just an advisor here?
- "Technically, that is true. But I still report to the Aldmeri Dominion, and I cannot ignore this situation. Don't worry, you can return to your petty squabbles and meaningless 'research' as soon as this matter is resolved."
He then turns around and you will have no choice but to follow him towards the Arch-Mage's Quarters. On the way, he will instruct you:
- "Now, you are going to speak to this... Monk... and find out why he is here, and then he will be removed from College grounds."
- What do you want me to say to this monk?
- "Find out why he's here, and what he wants."
Inside the Arch-Mage's quarters, Psijic Order member Quaranir will quickly outsmart Ancano by appearing to cause time to slow, inside of which only you and he can talk. Quaranir will warn you emphatically about the Eye of Magnus and how it will affect the College. He will also relate that his presence has caused suspicion, especially in Ancano. He will also explain why Ancano is suspicious about his presence if asked if he can be trusted. After telling you to go see the Augur of Dunlain, you will be returned to your own world and a confused Ancano will engage in conversation with Quaranir:
Ancano: "Well? What is the meaning of this?"
Quaranir: "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't understand."
Ancano: "Don't play coy. You asked to see a specific member of the College. Here he/she is. Now what is it that you want?"
Quaranir: "There's been a misunderstanding. Clearly I should not be here. I shall simply take my leave."
Ancano: "What? What trickery is this? You're not going anywhere until I find out what you're up to!"
Quaranir: "I am not 'up to' anything. I apologize if I have offended in any way."
Ancano: "We will see about this..."
Quaranir will then leave the College and Ancano will return to the Eye of Magnus. If confronted, he'll state:
- "I'm not sure what just happened but I assure you I will get to the bottom of it."
- Get to the bottom of what?
- "Whatever it is those Psijics are up to. They cannot be trusted. For all we know, he's here to scout out the College. I'm sure they want to undermine our efforts."
- What efforts would they be undermining?
- "This! This... Orb. The Eye of Magnus, whatever you want to call it. It's clearly powerful, and no doubt they want it for themselves! I expect to be informed if they make any future attempts to contact you."
- Have you ever heard of the Augur of Dunlain?
- "The what? No. No, I'm quite sure I have no idea what you're talking about. I suggest you mind your own business and return to whatever it is you do here."
Revealing the Unseen
When you return from Mzulft during the final stages of Revealing the Unseen, you will find that both Quaranir and Augur of Dunlain's premonitions will come to pass: Ancano will finally consume himself in pursuit of power and knowledge. Under the influence of The Eye of Magnus, he will invoke a ward spell sealing off the Hall of the Elements. You will find Arch-Mage Savos Aren and Mirabelle Ervine excitedly discussing the barrier:
Mirabelle: "I don't know. It's like a ward, but who's casting it? Ancano? How?"
Savos: "I don't care what it is, I want it down now! I want to know what he's doing in there!"
When you approach the Arch-Mage and ask what is going on, he will respond: "Ancano. He's in there, doing... something. We don't know what. We're trying to get in now. I will have his head for this, I assure you. Help take this down, will you? We're throwing everything we can at it." When the barrier's down, Mirabelle will then rush into the room along with Savos, and if spoken to will enlist your help: "We need to find out what Ancano's up to." When you reach Ancano, he will be joined with the Eye of Magnus by some kind of spell, and will be invincible at this point. Savos, however, will try and take him on:
Mirabelle: "What's going on?"
Savos: "Ancano! Stop this at once! I command you!"
Mirabelle: "Don't go near him!"
When Savos Aren slowly approaches the possessed Thalmor, a sudden explosion from the Eye will turn everything white and knock you out. When you come to your senses, you will find Mirabelle leaned against a wall, seemingly hurt by the explosion. She will explain what happened: "Ancano is doing something with that thing... the Eye. We can't stop him! I haven't seen Savos since the explosion. He must've been blown clear, and he may be injured. I need you to find the Arch-Mage, and I need you to do it quickly. Get moving!" Ancano will now be completely immersed in some kind of magical field crackling about the Eye, and you can catch only glimpses of him through this.
The Eye of Magnus
When you return from Labyrinthian with The Staff of Magnus, the entire College will be covered by the strange ward spell from the Eye. Tolfdir will meet you on the bridge with the sad news that Ancano's actions have claimed a second victim, Mirabelle Ervine who died attempting to foil Ancano's catastrophic scheme. When you have used the Staff of Magnus to break down the barrier, Ancano will shout:
- "You've come for me, have you?, You think I don't know what you're up to? You think I can't destroy you? The power to unmake the world at my fingertips, and you think you can do anything about it?"
When Tolfdir casts a spell on him that shows no effect, he'll proclaim:
- "I am beyond your pathetic attempts at magic. You cannot touch me."
Tolfdir will tell you to use the staff on the Eye, after which Ancano will exclaim:
Then he'll paralyze the Master Wizard and continue:
- "Still you persist? Very well. Come then. See what I can do now."
With this the Eye will open up to release its full power. Ancano will attack you and you will have to use the staff to remove the source of his power by shutting down the Eye. Ancano will defy you throughout the battle:
- "You dare approach me here? Are you mad? You cannot hope to defeat me!"
- "You dare challenge me?"
- "No! You will not deny me this!"
- "No! The Eye is mine!"
- "You cannot take this away from me!"
- "I cannot be defeated!"
- "I will end you!"
- "Die, insect!"
- "My power is supreme!"
- "Die, worm!".
If you try to hide from him, he'll exclaim:
- "Now you die!"
- "You cannot escape!"
As his health depletes, Ancano will desperately yell:
Mirabelle is not the only person at the College who displays suspicion or dislike toward Ancano. You may hear the following comments:
Brelyna Maryon: "I know I don't like the way he looks at me. I can't tell if he expects me to blow myself up, or to try and murder him. But he clearly doesn't trust any of us."
Onmund: "I know he's from the Thalmor, and that he claims to be here simply as an advisor. I also know that no one really believes that. I've been trying to avoid him, honestly."
Arniel Gane: "He's asked far, far too many questions about my research. I think the Thalmor are trying to steal my work! I haven't told him anything, of course. What I'm doing is far too important. Can't breathe a word of it."
Nirya: "Don't trust that one. He's up to something. Most here are up to something, of course, but in his case, it's not good. I haven't figured it out yet, but I will. He is rather handsome though, isn't he?"
- Ancano is voiced by musician Alexander Brandon (IMDb).
- Ancano also appears in the Heroes of Skyrim card expansion for Legends.
- Ancano won't become hostile if you hit him even though he will show up on the compass as an enemy upon being hit.
- You will not be kicked out of the college if you attack him.
- Arrows pass straight through Ancano's head as if it weren't there. Unlike shots to any other part of his body, head shots do not inflict damage.