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Guide Dang It / The Elder Scrolls

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The Elder Scrolls series provides numerous "Guide Dang It!" instances.

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The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

  • The following is never explained:
    • What dungeon exits look like.
    • The fact that there are secret doors, so you either have to try to use every little section of a wall or consult your map every now and then.
    • The fact that torches and other objects trigger important mechanisms elsewhere in a dungeon.
    • You will get paralyzed a lot in the lategame.
    • You absolutely need Levitation, Water Breathing, & Open spells.
    • You need a lot of potions, including but not limited to Resist Paralyzis, Fire and Shock, Cure Disease and the aforementioned Levitation and Water Breathing.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

  • The "Threads of the Webspinner" side-quest requires you to find multiple (read: 26) individual pieces of Sanguine equipment. The quest giver will only tell you about a few of the pieces, while the rest are on seemingly random NPCs scattered throughout Vvardenfell. (Some are even possessed by non-hostile NPCs in towns, virtually guaranteeing that you'll get a bounty for killing the holder.) Even worse, if you don't find out about the quest before you start uncovering some of the items, you may have accidentally left them behind or sold them. While each has a rare enchantment, they aren't very powerful and are usually outclassed by other equipment you have at that point, which makes leaving them behind quite easy to do if you don't know what they are. Originally, this quest's reward, the unique "Mephala's Skill" spell, was useful as the only way to acquire the incredibly exploitable Fortify Skill effect, for use in custom spells and enchantments. However, that effect was later patched out of the vanilla game, removing the only thing that might make this quest worth the effort. Understandable, perhaps, for such a Game-Breaker... except both expansions include Fortify Skill spells that are easily purchased from vendors.
  • One of the early missions of the main quest has you searching a large Dwemer ruin for a specific item (the Dwemer puzzle box.) While the item is located in a relatively easily-reached portion of the dungeon with few guards, it's located in a small nook off the obvious path in such a way that few people will notice. Even then, the item itself is small and the same color as the shelf it's sitting on in a low-light area. To make matters worse, if you go to the dungeon where the Dwemer Puzzle Box is located before you receive the quest to fetch it, the puzzle box is there... but cannot be picked up. This could lead some players to believe that it's something that simply can't be interacted with - interesting-looking scenery, effectively. Naturally, the official forums had a several hundred page stickied thread dedicated to helping people find it.
  • Finding the Cavern of the Incarnate as part of the main quest mission "Path of the Incarnate" is difficult to find even with a guide. The in-game directions are incredibly vague and in riddle form. Even with a guide handy, the cavern is located in a maze of hills, rocks, and Cliff Racer ambushes. And when you do find it, you can only enter it during two two-hour periods of dawn and dusk in the game.
  • Acquiring Eltonbrand, to the point where acquiring it without a guide would be nothing short of a miracle. To summarize, you first have to start the already obscure quest to acquire Goldbrand. Only one character in the game even gives you directions to the shrine you need to visit, and he is a.) not very trustworthy and b.) gives you inaccurate directions. Then you get even more vague directions from the Daedric prince in question to find a sculptor, who then asks you for a large sum of money and a unique book. Once you do all of that, you then have to wait the two in-game weeks for the shrine to be built in order to receive your reward. Then, to upgrade Goldbrand into Eltonbrand, you have to first become a vampire (which can be difficult enough to pull off, or near impossible if you've advanced far enough in the main quest to receive disease immunity.) Then, you have to complete one obscure vampires-only quest and have a specific amount of gold in your inventory (11,171) when you report back to the quest giver.
  • As mentioned, Vampirism itself is extremely difficult to acquire without a guide. You could easily play for dozens of hours without realizing that vampires are even in the game, much less learning that you can become one. They inhabit only a few out-of-the-way crypts or ruins, they are immediately hostile to you, and there is only a small chance of catching the pre-disease (Porphyric Hemophilia) while fighting them. Because the disease is so benign in the first three days after catching it, you may not even realize you have it until you suddenly change. This is particularly bad because if you catch it while wiping out the inhabitants of one of the headquarters of one of the vampire clans, you'll cut yourself off from that vampire clan questline. Did we mention that, while a vampire, your clan headquarters will be the only place for you to barter for supplies? While you can still complete quests for a few groups (House Telvanni and the Mages Guild), no other bartering or fast travel services will be available to you. Further, there is no indication in the game itself about which clan you have been infected by or where their headquarters are if you are infected elsewhere.
  • The master trainer for enchantment, Qorwynn, is a hostile Altmer spellcaster in a dungeon filled with nearly identical hostile Altmer spellcasters, with no indication, anywhere in the game, that there is anything special about him. The only way to get training from him is to use magic to calm him down first, and there is absolutely no reason anyone would do this without a guide. Kill him, and you'll have to grind to 100 enchantment yourself if you want it.
  • The Propylon Chambers are a network of fast-travel teleports scattered around Morrowind. To use each one, you need to find its corresponding Propylon Index, a tiny black thumb-sized cylinder of nondescript stone. Simple enough, right? Except that there is no indication anywhere about what the Propylon Chambers are, what they do, what the Propylon indices are for if you're lucky enough to find one, where the Propylon indices are, and so on. As an example, one is found in the basement of an empty temple you have no reason to enter, in a dark room, tucked in the back between two crates; this is typical. This was changed in the free-to-download official "Master Index" add-on, which creates a quest that guides you to each propylon index, and creates a hub warp in one of the Mages Guilds that lets you warp to any propylon chamber.
  • While there is an enchanting service in the game, you can prepare to pay tens of millions of gold for high quality enchantments. On the other hand if you do it yourself, the Enchanting system is so powerful that it's possible to make yourself a custom Infinity +1 Sword before you even reach level 10. The catch? It has a percentage-based success rate factoring in your Intelligence and Luck stats and Enchanting skill level, and that percentage chance of success is so minute that at ordinarily obtainable levels (up to 100 Intelligence and Luck, up to 100 Enchanting)... good luck getting particularly powerful enchantments to succeed! Oh, and if you fail, your soul gem breaks and you lose the soul inside it. Say goodbye to that expensive grand soul gem and that rare Golden Saint you had to track down and kill. The only way to give yourself a 100% chance of success for artifact-quality enchantments is to use Alchemy or Enchanting to circuitously boost your Intelligence, making progressively more potent potions or gear. If you're going the Enchanting route, the amount of enchantment each bit of gear can hold is limited, so the duration of the stat boost is going to be at best 2-3 seconds, but more likely 1 (and that's on the highest quality clothing and jewellery money can buy). Once you've made enough pieces of gear, get ready to hotkey all of them, then sprint your fingers through the hotkeys and mash down that inventory button to pause the game before the duration runs out. Now that your character's Intelligence is boosted so far that they can probably see through time (900+)... you stand a decent chance of success on that Daedric sword with the 70 point AOE-on-hit fire damage. Have fun figuring all that out without a guide.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

  • The quest "A Venerable Vintage" requires locating six (infinitely respawning) bottles of Shadowbanish Wine and is often added to players' quest logs early on in the game due to the fact that the quest is received in the first settlement players are likely to encounter once first venturing out from the Imperial City. After that, with this being one of the quests acquired so early in the game, that quest is pinned to the top of your quest log ... for the entire game. Seriously, this is one of the last quests players ever complete. Whereas most quests provide some exact indication of where to go due to the vastness of the game world, the only hint Nerussa provides is that it is found in abandoned forts located about Cyrodiil. There are easily 40 forts in Cyrodiil (50+ with expansions), and only eight of them (or 10 with expansions) have the vintage. A typical fort can take a good 20-30 minutes to slog through the darkness, the worst ones literally being mazes in spite of the auto-mapping feature, with monsters all the while ambushing you from the darkness. The reward for this quest is a somewhat respectable 1,000 gold. If you are the type of player who detests exploring forts and caves, either consult a guide or don't even attempt this quest.
  • Seeking Your Roots is another candidate for the Permanent Active Quest Club and is just as bad. You must find 100 Nirnroots to complete it, which are very rare plants that do not regrow (there are about 300 in the entire game, though) and worst of all, are scattered all over the landscape with no obvious pointer as where to find them note . Your reward is a series of fortifying potions that become decreasingly lousy as you deliver more samples of the stuff, with more required for each potion (10 for the first, 20 more for the second, 30 for the third, and finally 40 for the final potion). By the time you get to the stronger potions, and assuming you had any interest in Alchemy (why else would you be running around the field looking for the things anyway?), you can craft stronger potions with common ingredients, and would probably be more inclined to use the Nirnroots to craft strong poisons.
  • "Legacy Lost" also has a fair amount of frustration. You're supposed to find Weatherleah, a location that you are told is south of Chorrol and north of Fort Carmala. Except it's not - it's actually southwest of Fort Carmala. Most players would probably spend hours looking and then give up to either consult a walkthrough or later on pass by it through a stroke of luck doing something completely unrelated to the quest.
  • Master trainers. Once you reach 75 in a given skill, the option opens up to receive "Master" training from specific NPCs throughout the world. The problem is that the game won't just tell you this immediately — you have to find another NPC who will give you a recommendation, which starts the requisite quest and search for the trainer. Nowhere in the game is this information revealed, short of trial-and-error to see which merchants and citizens refer you to which skill. While you'll likely run across some of these by accident, knowing which ones boost which skills to the highest levels is nigh-impossible without a guide.
    • It doesn't help that installing the Knights of the Nine DLC and playing through its quest causes one of the people who would refer you to a Master trainer (Marz at the Temple of Bruma) to be killed offscreen, locking you out of Restoration Master Training if you didn't already meet her beforehand and get her recommendation. Nothing in the game warns you that this is going to happen, and you could very easily lock yourself out of the stat boosting if you didn't have a guide that told you otherwise.
  • There are three quests in Oblivion that are "undocumented"—they won't show up in your journal, ever, though the game still checks them off internally. That means that even if by chance you happen to stumble across an aspect of the quest (which is unlikely in and of itself, as one is easily lost, one occurs in a place you'll never need to revisit, and the last is in the middle of gods-forsaken nowhere) you still won't have any idea where to go or how to progress. They are:
    • Fort Sutch Oblivion Gate: Only appears after the "Dagon Shrine" quest. An Oblivion Gate spawns a little to the north of Fort Sutch), a place where you're never directed to go outside of a Dark Brotherhood quest. note  Make sure you don't confuse it for the other Oblivion Gate that spawns to the west. The only indication that this is any different from your normal wilderness Gates is the party of Imperial Legionnaires that tangle with unusually high-level Daedra. The captain of said party will order you to close the Gate. Do that, and they'll thank you and disappear. End quest, no reward. Oh, and if you pass the Main Quest, as that causes all the wilderness Gates to close, this quest can't be attempted.
    • Uderfryke Matron: This quest is mainly an Easter Egg for Morrowind players. It requires you to find and read Agnar's journal at a location called Dive Rock, which is north-west of Cheydinhal in the Jerall Mountains. You are never directed here, and there is no trail, making it very difficult to access without either using a horse or taking a very long and winding route up steep cliffs. Upon reading the journal, you're required to slay the Uderfryke Matron, a tough opponent immune to frost. (Depending on whether her script acts correctly or not, she may be partially invisible, completely invisible, or appear as a normal troll.) On the plus side, you do get access to a unique bow, and Dive Rock is the highest location in Cyrodiil, so endless fun can be had with the enormous drop.
    • Chests of Pale Pass: This quest is located in Pale Pass, a hidden area that you're required to visit exactly once, during a Miscellaneous side quest—and chances are you're not going to find the chests on your first go-through. You need to find four chests in a specific order, which are scattered across the map without any indication as to where they are (although the first chest does contain a note that alerts you to the existence of the other chests, as well as providing backstory). Each chest contains some shiny stuff and a key to the next chest, with the exception of the fourth, which holds a unique and powerful magical item.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Orchendor, the renegade cult leader Daedra Prince Peryite tasks you to track down (in the depths of a Dwemer ruin) and kill, is immune to magic. As in, destruction spells do no damage. Now, sometimes enemy NPCs can be invulnerable (usually for cutscenes, dialogues, etc.) and sometimes the game can glitch and not remove the invulnerability, usually when you accidentally interrupt a script. Now imagine you're a magic-focused character, you approach the guy, the fight starts, and you can't damage him. It'll probably take a few reloads to "fix the bug" before trying to harm him in any other way. No, there's no mention of how or why this guy is immune to magic (practically no one else in the game is, even much more serious bosses) and he's not carrying any items that gives the ability either. He's just immune to magic for no reason at all. Investigation of the game's files suggest this is a result of his (also unique) teleportation ability, which strangely includes "Resist Magic 100%" among its effects. Inflicting him with the "Weakness to Magic" poison effect solves the issue (given how the game's mechanics work, he's not so much "immune" as "100% resistant" ).
  • "A Return To Your Roots," because apparently we didn't have enough of the damned nirnroots. This time around they are red. Fortunately, they hiss when you are near, they regrow (slowly), there are slightly more of them available than you actually need to find for the quest, there's a huge stash hidden that's almost enough to fill the quota, and the reward is the ability to craft 2 potions with the same ingredients 25% of the time.
  • And another collection quest... it almost seems like a Running Gag. Scattered through the world are 24 'unusual gems'. If you show them to an appraiser (who is only available if you join the Thieves' Guild, which is a Guide Dang It! in itself), she tasks you to find all of them. Now, most collection quests give map markers to show you where to go, or at least narrow it down to a specific room. This quest doesn't - you'll stumble across half of them doing Thieves' Guild quests, but the other half have no indication at all. And the gems can be anywhere: their locations are fixed, but vary from caves and tombs to people's homes (one is located inside Proudspire Manor, which you can only enter after buying it) to places of high restrictions like a Jarl's quarters (which require you to sneak in really well unless the said Jarl made you a Thane). One is even located inside the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, which can only be entered after starting the Dark Brotherhood questline, either to join them or destroy them. And prior to patch 1.4, one of these gems was inside the Thalmor Embassy, which can only be visited during the "Diplomatic Immunity" quest; if you forget (or don't realize) to grab it, this quest becomes Unwinnable by Mistake. Thankfully, after the patch it was relocated to a cave underneath, which is accessible anytime (but not marked on the map). Luckily, a few mods exist that make life easier, either by adding quest markers or by just putting all gems together in an easily reachable location. As with "A Return to Your Roots," at least the reward is absurdly good: a permanent ability that massively increases your odds of finding precious gems, more or less eliminating your money problems from that point forward.
  • One more collection quest involves you getting Deathbells, Nightshade and Nirnroot. On top of all of these being rather rare ingredients, you need 20 of each. Fortunately there are locations within Skyrim (and Solstheim, if you have Dragonborn installed) that spawn massive number of these and they regenerate. Bad news is, unless you physically happen upon these locations, you'd have no clue they even exist. The Deathbell and Nightshade ones are at least easy, since they are in three major holds; if you have Hearthfire installed, it can be even easier since you can grow them in your own garden. But Nirnroot grows by itself in very disparate locations, and the two places that have an abundance of Nirnroot are a small farm and an unmarked island off the coast of Solstheim. Said unmarked island otherwise has nothing of interest on it. Happy hunting!
  • From the Thieves Guild comes the Larceny Targets quest, which has you nab something of value from various dungeons and estates. Good news is, all of these places are visited during the main quest, so at least you won't have to run across Skyrim. Bad news is, good luck knowing this without checking at least one guide or having done this quest before. Even if you know an item is within a specific place, it's fairly well hidden (except for 2 or 3, which are placed in the open for the express purpose of letting you know they exist, the Falmer Eyes being the most prominent). The difficulty also ranges from "you-have-to-be-blind-not-to-see" to Guide Dang It!, as some are hidden as pieces of scenery, in heavily guarded areas, behind a series of annoying traps, or just hidden in places you didn't even know existed. Granted, being in the Thieves guild you're expected to nab everything that isn't nailed down, so it's at least a bit better than most examples.
  • Downplayed with the alchemy system: Unless you're just in it to make some money, looking up potions and ingredients online or in the strategy guide is the only way to do any alchemy work, since finding two ingredients with compatible effects (that you also desire) are few and far between. You can eat the ingredients to find out some of their properties, and luckily the feature is alluded both in a loading screen tip and in one perk on the Alchemy skill tree, but that's slow going since it only reveals the first ingredient unless you dump some perks into the skill tree.
  • In the quest "Blood On the Ice," the quest arrow and journal only point you to one person so you can tell him who you think is the murderer. The only way to get the good end for the quest is to, perhaps without knowing he exists or where to find him, confront the suspect - whom the clues you collect will strongly suggest is the murderer - before reporting him as a suspect. Confronting rather than accusing him will reveal his innocence.
  • In one quest, you're framed and confronted by corrupt guardsmen and given the choice to either go to jail or fight. The only way to complete the quest and get the best loot is to go to prison; all fighting does is get you a nasty criminal fee.
  • For the "Oblivion Walker" achievement, you only get it for having 15 daedric artifacts, not just completing the quests. This means that, if you choose alternate endings to some of them, have fun making an entirely new character or reloading a very old save. Clavicus Vile's quest is the worst offender, because unlike the other Daedra whose quests offer multiple artifacts, only one of his (the Masque) counts towards the achievement, meaning you absolutely must finish the quest in that way to get the achievement. Another offender is Vaermina's quest, which forces you to choose between either the Skull of Corruption or a decidedly non-Squishy Wizard follower. The easiest way to get the achievement if you want Erandur instead is to save Vaermina's quest for last, save your game before you get the Skull, get the achievement, and then reload.
  • There are several ways to start the quest to reforge the Gauldur Amulet; the most straightforward is to join the College of Winterhold and enter Saarthal. If you start it any other way, note  you will get to Saarthal and realize there's no indication of how to gain entry. There's no obvious connection to the College, unless you can figure out that they're the ones excavating the site.
  • You are unlikely to find all the recipes for the Atronach Forge in the Midden under the College of Winterhold unless you savage the population of rogue mages throughout Skyrim and pick up all the randomly dropped recipe notes (which are themselves worthless unless you can read Daedric)... or look it up online or in a guidebook. This is probably intentional, as the book you find in the room encourages you to experiment with random combinations.
  • In the main questline, the Greybeards send you to a dungeon where, in order to progress, you need to lift a gate using a pressure plate and get through it before it closes. The only way you'll get through it in time is to use your Whirlwind Sprint shout. The fact the Greybeards teach the shout and tell you to follow the way of the Voice before sending you to the dungeon serves as a subtle nudge, but of course that only works if you remember and haven't decided to do 50 side quests beforehand.
  • The first time you turn into a Vampire Lord in Dawnguard, you get a nice little tutorial that covers everything... except how to change back. (You have to open your Favorites mini-menu, something you couldn't do while transformed before.)
  • When you're charged by Maven Black-Briar with finding the Quill of Gemination, which was lost somewhere in Lake Honrich, she gives you an approximate area to start your sweep, and it is located in a sunken rowboat, making it slightly easier to find, but there is NO quest arrow. You literally have to comb the bottom of the lake until you find it.
  • The Destruction Ritual Spell does not have quest markers. It does give you hints on where to find the next location, but to even have a hope in hell of understanding those clues, you would had to have already visited the locations.
  • Being a vampire is fine for the first two days, but once people begin chasing you out of town, it starts being a problem. You are given no hints how to feed and no warning as to what will happen. The stronger Vampire Lord does not have this problem, though it's misleading in that it still warns you as if it does.
  • A more mild example are the claws used to open the puzzle doors throughout various dungeons in the game. The game does tell you that the solutions are on the claws themselves, but they don't tell you that you can rotate items while browsing your inventory. Since the claws always default to facing away from the camera, you have to rotate it to see the combination on the paw side. This isn't so much of a "How are we supposed to guess this?" as it is "How are we supposed to think to try that?", as the claws are the only time you'll ever have to rotate an item in your inventory. Fortunately, the doors in question use a simple three-symbol combination, leaving only 27 combinations to brute-force for those that don't figure it out.
  • Similar to the claws, there's also the doors that can only be activated with the rotating pillars (which also have 3 sides each). All of them have the answer prominently displayed somewhere close, but a few of them only show you which symbols you need - not the order. Have fun trying out all the combinations!
  • During "Diplomatic Immunity", if you managed to get your hands on a set of Thalmor Robes and are of the right race, you can wear them and sneak by the guards rather than fight them. (Humans can't get close to guards, Mers can get closer, while High Elves can actually speak to the guards and not have a hood over their heads. Beast Races are completely unable to do this due to the tail that hangs out the back.) At no point in the quest is this even hinted as being possible.
  • "Impatience of a Saint" requires you to look for the scattered pages of a book in the Soul Cairn. There are no quest markers and not a single hint on where the pages might be located. The Soul Cairn's design makes it very difficult to keep track of the places you've already visited, and just like the other "sublocations" like Blackreach and The Forgotten Vale, it does not even have a map. Then there's the fact that the pages are fairly tiny and easy to miss, so you may scour the whole Cairn, fail to notice one, and then good luck finding out where the hell it is without a guide. To make things even worse, if you're a fan of explosive spells, you could accidentally blast the page to Akatosh only knows where, and then even a guide won't help you.
  • Becoming Thane usually consists of: 1) speak to the Jarl 2) complete the quest the Jarl gave to you 3) receive the task to help inhabitants of the hold 4) buy the local player housenote . Since Jarl Laila Law-Giver doesn't initially provide the relevant dialog option, becoming Thane of the Rift is more convoluted: you need to complete a specific sidequest received from a NPC in the dock, then help five inhabitants of the Rift (there is no journal entry for this step), then you'll receive the instruction to visit the Jarl, who allows you to buy the local house, which itself allows you to receive the title.
  • Becoming Thane of Eastmarch is much more straightforward but can be confusing, since you must progress far enough in the Civil War questline to receive the quests (it's unlocked after either the conquest of Falkreath by the Stormcloaks or the conquest of Windhelm by the Imperials, depending on the faction you joined).
  • The quest "Revealing the Unseen" requires you to focus a Dwarven oculory. It's simple enough in theory: you use fire and ice spells to heat and cool a crystal to make it refract light a certain way, then align the mirrors in the room accordingly. The spells are even provided for you just in case. What the game doesn't tell you is that only the Novice-level Flames and Frostbite spells, which use sustained casting, will actually work. The stronger, bolt-style spells will adjust the light between two wrong positions and nothing else. It certainly doesn't help that the Novice spells have a shorter range that falls just shy of the crystal if you're at the mirror controls.
  • At one point, the main quest requires you to tinker with a Dwarven oculory via a series of buttons. The only clue you get is that pressing buttons will move things, and when the lights line up more buttons open. Naturally, this will lead players to try various combinations of buttons to try getting everything in the right location, when the actual solution is to mash all of the buttons in order as they open up.
  • The "First Lessons" quest from the Winterhold College questline requires at one point to cast a ward to protect yourself from a spell cast by Tolfdir, one of the College's teachers. The event flag which triggers this step of the quest requires to stand on a spot on a sigil tile inside the room. The objective marker points to the tile, but the actual trigger is a very tiny spot which isn't the center of the sigil, to the point many players (not knowing they're required to stand on a very tiny spot) assumed they encountered a Game-Breaking Bug and had to reload a previous save.
  • Becoming Guild Master of the Thieves Guild requires you to restore the guild to its former power and glory. Neither this very fact, nor how you're supposed to do that, nor that you even can become Guild Master, is ever mentioned anywhere, and even if you do know how to pull it off, the mechanisms behind it remain obscure enough to leave many a player completely stumped. In theory it's simple enough: complete a bunch of Vex' and Delvin's radiant quests. What the game fails to tell you is that in order to progress through this hidden quest, you must complete five of their respective side quests in all of the major hold capitals except Riften (the game can still send you there even though completing quests there isn't necessary, and this isn't explained anywhere either). This means doing a minimum of 20 repetitive tasks with negligible rewards at the very least. The quest locations are randomly chosen and some appear significantly less often than others, so if you don't know about the five-per-hold requirement, you're more likely to play about a hundred of them, if not more, assuming your patience even holds out that long. The best thing you can do is keep a tally of how often you've done business in each hold on a piece of paper and keep Save Scumming while picking up new quests until Vex and Delvin send you to where you need to go. If you do that, you might notice that new merchants occasionally suddenly opened shops in the Guild's HQ, one for each subset of hold missions you've completed, but their correlation to you forging ledgers or nicking stuff from random houses is tenuous at best, making this a pretty obscure indicator that you're making progress. And then, eventually, once all six subsets are done, you finally get a quest objective to talk to the Guild's leader for your coronation ceremony. Simple, isn't it?
  • To start the Daedric quest "The Whispering Door" (Mephala), you need to reach level 20 and exhaust the "rumors" dialog option of innkeeper Hulda until she talks about Jarl Baalgruf's children, which adds the quest in your quest journal. To a level 20 Dragonborn, Hulda offers at least one rumor before giving the one about the Jarl's children. Initially, Hulda offers about five rumors (which can all be heard right when you go to Whiterun for the first time, likely many levels earlier). Before hearing this line, there's no clue about a Daedric quest in Whiterun. Also, by this point, you've probably heard each of Hulda's rumors, and have no reason to ask her for more rumors. The odds of stumbling upon this quest by chance are quite low.

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