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Dotting the landscape of Skyrim, the ancient Nord ruins are a testament to the ingenuity of the Nord people of the past. When constructing the final resting places of the noble class, our ancestors proved to be quite crafty, developing some of the most sophisticated and clever defenses I have ever encountered. Coupled with the presence of the fearsome draugr, these tombs have become quite a challenge for me.
The most often-overlooked obstacles are the abundance of traps spread throughout the tombs. Ranging from simple tripwire-activated rock falls to complex pressure plate-triggered dart traps, the ancient Nords utilized these devices abundantly. Most of the traps can be bypassed by simply looking for the trigger mechanism and avoiding them. Since they are most often placed in areas where distractions abound, remember to keep your eyes to the floor.
One of the keys to surviving in a Nord ruin is to use these traps to gain an upper hand against any denizens occupying the ruin. In many cases, it's trivial to lure them across the triggering mechanism. Try this when you find an oil trap. Using a bow, lure your victim onto the oil and then loose an arrow at the fire pot hanging above. The moment the fire pot shatters, the entire pool of oil ignites and engulfs the enemy in hot death. Just be certain that you're standing clear of the oil, or else this trick could end your expedition earlier than you planned.
Perhaps one of the most amazing engineering marvels of all has little to do with the traps designed to kill. Utilizing all manner of pull chains, levers, switches, and pressure plates, some of the most frustrating obstacles can occur in the form of puzzles that threaten to block your progress. Watch for the telltale signs of these barriers: groups of levers in a single place, rotating pillars with carvings on all faces, and even large arrays of pressure plates covering the floor of a room. In most cases, the puzzle requires experimentation to solve. In others, the solution might actually be found elsewhere in the complex. It's recommended to keep a writing implement and a journal handy so that you can always take notes about whatever you find. You never know when you might need to refer to something from elsewhere in the complex.
Although Nord ruins are commonly infested with vermin, including skeever and spiders, these creatures pale in comparison to the mighty draugr. These horrific, animated dead are commonly found as guardians in most of the tombs, and they defend them mercilessly. Since the draugr tend to lay dormant until someone happens upon their resting place, it's advisable to keep an eye out for niches or sarcophagi. These undead animate rapidly and silently, so always watch your back. Any remains you pass could suddenly animate and set upon you without warning.
The perils of a Nord ruin are not without reward. The burial chambers in some of the larger complexes contain all manners of riches, from gold to the occasional enchanted weapon or armor. Never ignore the ceremonial urns that dot the ruins, as they are often filled with ancient offerings of great value.
I've tried to be comprehensive with what I know of Nord ruins, but I'm sure there are dangers lurking within that will prove to be unique and never before seen. Just be sure to always enter these tombs with plenty of equipment and a good, solid weapon by your side. With a bit of patience, a keen eye, and a light step, a Nord ruin can bring you great wealth. Otherwise, you risk becoming a permanent resident, like many of those who tried to loot the place before you.