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That One Sidequest / The Elder Scrolls

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The Elder Scrolls has Loads and Loads of Sidequests in each game. Some are as simple as taking a single trip to a dungeon to complete, and then there are these, which will probably be sitting in your quest log until you've completed several main questlines and then some unless you consult a strategy guide.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

  • Finding all of the "Threads of the Webspinner," 26 items in all. Of them, 17 are either on NPCs you are assigned to kill / their guards (or in one case, given to you) by the same quest giver, but a few require you to kill random peaceful NPCs that have no indication that they even have one of the items or NPCs in out-of-the-way dungeons that have no quest at all related to them. Your reward? A mixed Chameleon/Fortify Attack spell that never fails and uses less magicka than a custom spell with the same effects would cost. Not terrible, but not really worth the time and effort this quest entails. The kicker? Before Tribunal, the spell had a different effect and was the only source of the Fortify Skill effect, which gave the quest some significance.
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  • Acquiring Eltonbrand. First, it requires you to acquire Goldbrand as part of an obscure quest that you are extremely unlikely to find on your own. (The one person in the game who tells you about it isn't exactly trustworthy and even then, his directions are bad, leading you to swimming around in the ocean further south than you need to.) Then, you get directions from Boethiah to find a sculptor to rebuild the shrine. If you manage to do that, then wait the two in-game weeks required for the statue to be built, you can finally claim Goldbrand. To upgrade it into Eltonbrand, you need to become a vampire (something most players of the game may not even realize is in the game for many, many hours) and perform a specific quest with a specific amount of gold in your inventory. THEN you get Eltonbrand. Complicated and near impossible to find on your own, but very worth it.
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  • The Mournhold Museum of Artifacts. While filling it up is quite enjoyable and profitable, finding all of the artifacts can not only take most of your playthrough (some can only be acquired near the end of hours-long faction questlines), but some of them can be missed, including a shield you can only get as a vampire. Plus once you donate something, you'll have to steal it back if you ever want it back again.
  • The side quest of escorting Viatrix Petilia, a Dunmer pilgrim, to Ghostgate. The quest is even titled "The Annoying Pilgrim". In addition to the usual frustrations that come with the game's Escort Missions, including poor follower AI, slow movement speed, and Suicidal Overconfidence in attacking every enemy you come across (and there are many), the mission is timed and must be completed in two days. She is very impatient and will interrupt you several times during the trip about how long it's taking. Finally, if you get her there successfully, she only rewards you with a paltry 100 gold.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

  • Any player who doesn't still have "Seeking Your Roots" somewhere in the back of their list of active quests to this day either specifically avoided starting it (by never picking up a single Nirnroot, ever), console hacked, or otherwise cheated like a maniac to clear it. The only saving graces are that there's no time limit on the quest and Nirnroots can be picked up while doing everything else. To fully complete the quest 100 Roots are required, but there are over three times that many scattered throughout the game.
  • Similarly "The Museum of Oddities" in Shivering Isles is one for players not all that interested in completionist-y dungeon diving. Unlike Nirnroots, some of the objects you must collect for this quest spawn randomly. Some of the items are also only available in non-respawning containers. If you don't find items in any of the containers that could carry the item, you can't complete the quest short of using console commands.
  • Another Oblivion quest would be "The Collector", where the objective is to collect ten rare Ayleid statues from ten different Ayleid Ruins. Finishing that one is a pain since you're randomly given the locations for half of the Ruins in the game world, unless you opt-out midway through and finish the other tasks in that questline instead. It doesn't help that the original printing of the official strategy guide actually gave an additional location for statues that don't exist.
  • Finding a cure for vampirism. When you see the words "you have contracted Porphyric Hemophilia" show up on the screen while fighting vampires, you better hope you have a Cure Disease in your inventory. Otherwise (unless you want to play as a vampire), you're gonna be in it for the long haul. After the Count of Skingrad directs you to a witch who can help you find the cure, she'll send you to every corner of Cyrodiil to find various ingredients for the cure. This alone is commonplace, given the quests listed above, but there are two restrictions that make this quest especially egregious: sunlight deals damage if you go past stage 1 of your vampirism, forcing you to avoid daylight as much as possible. If you go too long without feeding, your appearance will become more monstrous and most townsfolk will be too scared to hold a conversation with you, making it nearly impossible to acquire any ingredients they might be selling through legal means. Suffice to say, if you don't cure it right away, you're probably better off accepting your fate as a vampire.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • The "Seeking Your Roots" quest from Oblivion returns as the appropriately-named "A Return To Your Roots." Instead of searching all of Skyrim for the Roots, you're now searching through a dark cavern full of high-level enemies for thirty glowing plants that tend to be tucked in out-of-the-way places. So far, not much worse than any other Collection Sidequest, until you've cleared the entire enormous area of enemies and wandered over the same area twenty times without finding that Last Lousy Root. The plants do grow back eventually, but that means that the enemies in the cave get to respawn as well.
  • "No Stone Unturned." Finding 24 small gemstones that have no quest markers, all tucked away in the most unlikely places in all of Skyrim with its hundreds of caves, dungeons, and buildings, all of which you can't remove from your inventory once found and do not stack after they've been identified. After you find them all (if you find them all, and one used to be Permanently Missable Content in a main story-related building you can only enter once) you get to clear a Falmer cave. The reward causes you to find way more gems in containers and chests, which would have been REALLY useful when you started the quest at level 5 and were dirt poor, less so when you finally finish it at around level 50 and have more money than you can ever spend. The gemstones themselves, despite having a shown weight value of 0.5, thankfully do not actually affect the overall weight of the player's inventory, so at least they're weightless, despite the game telling you that they aren't.
  • The "Impatience of a Saint" quest from the Dawnguard DLC. You need to collect ten lost pages of Saint Jiub's opus, which are scattered across the Soul Cairn. Not only are there no quest markers, but the Cairn is large, dark, and hard to navigate; it's difficult to remember where you've already been; and the pages are small and very easy to miss. In addition, some of them are hidden behind portals and in hard to access buildings. And when you find them all, you then have to remember where to find Jiub again, which is no small feat in the vastness of the Cairn.

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