The Elder Scrolls

The more I think about it, the more I feel like Savos is among the worst Archmages of all time and the College of Winterhold is a learning institute.

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As an apprentice he, and five other apprentices, go through Labyrinthian, which results in all but Savos, Atmah (the one that planned the whole thing), and Girduin dead. Savos then also binds Atmah and Girduin in order to seal Morokei, this is after the three of them promise to stick together no matter what.

To make matters worse, it is possible to speculate that Morokei didn't already possess the Staff of Magnus but attained it from the apprentices at this time. The reason behind this idea is that we did see a Staff of Magnus near the end of the 3rd Era (and while this expedition wouldn't have happened yet, we know from ESO that Morokei had other seals on him), and the Synod believed that the College had the staff (could it be that they did but lost it).

Considering how Atmah was the favorite of the Arch-Mage of the time and overconfident in her abilities, it isn't hard to believe that she would have had the ability to take it (even if she wasn't supposed to).

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But sure, let's say that this is a young Savos that has the ability to grow from this experience, right? Wrong. He doesn't grow from this, not really.

Everyone dislikes him. Tolfdir, iirc, basically tells you to tiptoe around Savos to not bother him. Students think it is time for a change in leadership. Fallion, the previous Conjuration teacher (who is better than the current one) left because of his dislike of Savos.

To make this even worse, when you come back from Sarthaal what is the first thing he says?

"Please don't tell me that another one of the apprentices has been incinerated. I have enough to deal with right now."

That is right, another. This isn't even including the missing apprentices, Yisra, Ilas-Tei, Rundi, and Borvir. These four are considered missing students and it takes you, an apprentice that is their junior, looking for them for the college to find out they are dead. So, who else has been dying? How often for this to be the first thing he brought up? And if it is specific to the Sarthaal expedition, then why let students that have barely even started getting taught go to Sarthaal (and yes, Tolfdir is also irresponsible here, especially towards to player)?

Oh, and let's also not forget the four students that died in the Midden when attempting magik with Velehk Sain. We don't know if this happened under Savos though, but it is yet another time where a group of students died.

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Furthermore, let's look at the past students that do remain.

We have Nirya, who has such a dislike for Faralda (the current Destruction School teacher) that in a cut quest she asks the player to steal her research notes. We have Enthir, who has ties to the Theives Guild and is a black market trader. We have Arniel Gane, the first student that seems like an actual, normal student and scholar, and he DIES in the end (based on when the quests can happen, this could also be under Savos's tenure).

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So, overall, not that good.

Furthermore, while not a student, let's look at Wuunferth the Unliving. When he is accused of practicing necromancy he gets offended and uses the defense that he is a member of the college and in good standing… except that the college doesn't ban necromancy. Great show of the quality of the members of the college.

Let's not forget two people that left the college of their own accord, Festus, a member of the Dark Brotherhood, and Calixto, a serial killer. While no longer members, this certainly doesn't create a good image for what comes out of the college.

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The teachers also are not all that great.

Tolfdir is a scatterbrain that constantly misplaces his things. He also emphasizes caution and safety yet brings brand new students to Sarthaal, and even when shown it is dangerous (with a Psijic Monk warning of danger) he not only has a student delve further into the ruins, but even sends him ahead, alone. He is the one for new students to learn under? No wonder the college has a problem with dead apprentices.

Next we have Colette, who seems to constantly be trying to remind everyone that 'restoration is a perfectly valid school of magik', even though we never hear anyone say otherwise. Hell, while some professors give lectures on trying to learn or understand new things hers is on how 'restoration is a perfectly valid school of magik'. This isn't even the worst thing, however. That comes with the Augur of Dunlain. When you are looking for the Augur she says,
"The Augur? Tragic story, really. At least, the way I heard it. But that was a long time ago. It was some experiment gone horribly wrong. Ghostly results, I was told. And his ghost still roams the halls, they say. Of course, on further reflection, that may have simply been an attempt to scare me. Hmm. Perhaps I'll ask Tolfdir what really happened. I understand he was here at the time."
Yet when asked about mastering the Restoration school she send you to the Augur and show knowledge of him and who he was. So, what is going on here?

Then we have Drevis, who is supposed to be a master of illusion magik yet doesn't know that his invisibility spell isn't working and, if the player lies to him (saying he can't see him but can hear him) then Drevis thinks he is making progress.

At least the last three teachers are decent, but the problem is that Phinis and Sergius (and Colette, but that is the least of her problems) are not master trainers. Faralda is, seemingly, the only excellent teacher the college has. Phinis and Sergius are good as well, but they are not masters, which is a problem when Fallion, who was the previous conjuration teacher, left due to Savos and enchanting services, which Sergius is in charge of, is the only real thing that connects the college to the world.

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So, with all this you might think that the college has a laissez faire policy, right? Wrong.

Nelecar and Malyn was exiled for their research.

The Fellglow Keep mages were persuaded to leave (which also lead to Orthorn stealing books for them and nobody doing anything about it).

Hamelyn was kicked out for being irresponsible (the irony), and, if we are to believe him, he was even beaten by the teachers there (doubt this part though).

So what, exactly, is the policy at the college that allows so many people to die, incompetent teachers, students that are thieves, yet still has people kicked out?

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Don't forget that Savos is not creating connections with the world while the college's reputation is crumbling. Winterhold used to be filled with Dark Elves, the Telvanni used to send people to Winterhold regularly to study, now we have a single Dark Elf student that seems to be there to get away from the Telvanni drama and Neloth feels that 'Archmage of Winterhold" is enough to be an apprentice (and he says Savos barely qualifies, he has to pay while the player can come back in a few years).

Nords also aren't all that happy to send their children to the college and there have been some Nords that have tried to attack the college (hence the more stringent entry procedures).

And what is being done to try and resolve this? Nothing. Kraldar, an influential figure of Winterhold, cannot get a meeting with Savos, even if he is Jarl.

When the Synod show up he doesn't even meet with them, and when they keep trying to ask about their members that seemingly went missing he won't even help (even when Mirabelle suggests looking into it).

Furthermore, both the Synod and College of Whispers have both contacted the College for other purposes (seemingly to get support) which has been denied by Savos (though, this might actually be a good decision on his part).

The only thing that connects the college to the world is enchanting services, yet Markarth has a better enchanter. Sure, maybe not one as willing to enchant as a business model, but yet a better enchanter none the less, and one that isn't even a full time scholar or enchanter but a priestess.

Well, actually there is one other connection to the outside that Savos has allowed, Ancano, a Thalmor agent that not even he trusts all that much allowed to stay at the college (which is, according to Savos, is supposed to stay out of politics) as an advisor, and this decision almost destroyed Winterhold, and maybe even the word itself. Great job Savos.

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And to finish up this absurdity, let's look at the interactions with the player. He get angry when you ask about the Augur, then when you find out you need the staff he doesn't tell you where it is (which he should know) but instead sends you off to ask the Synod, the same Synod members he has been informed are basically missing (as the Synod has asked the college about their status). What, was he trying to get you killed? 'Oh, the Synod members are probably dead from wherever they went, good place to dispose of this apprentice that seems to be close to finding out about what I did at Labyrinthian.' Was that it?

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This is Savos Aren? This is the prestigious College of Winterhold? Now I think I understand why they made the player the Archmage when they had barely been a member and might not even be that great a mage, because it really can't get much worse and most of the other options were terrible. I would just say that Faralda would probably have been a better Master Wizard than Tolfdir.

Oh, and I just realized I didn't really say much about Urag, but that is because there is nothing to complain about with him. He and Faralda are two of the greatest members of the college.

I also didn't really say much about Mirabelle, but there really isn't much we know outside of the fact that she does a 'fine enough job' and basically tries to run the place as Savos wants to always have nothing to do (which means I am assuming she is basically trying to do the job of the Archmage AND Master Wizard).

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So ya, tl;dr: Savos is a horrible leader and pathetic Archmage and the College of Winterhold is probably more deadly than sending your kids to Apocrypha to learn magik.

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