Completing the Arduous Destiny 2 Independent Study Quest for the Coveted Exotic Thorn

As a Destiny enthusiast with over 500 hours sunk into the beloved franchise, I‘ve completed the convoluted Independent Study exotic weapon quest across all three of my characters. Earning the infamous Thorn hand cannon the first time around required nearly 12 hours of determined grind across 3 play sessions!

While the lengthy quest can feel daunting to take on, the power unleashed by wielding this signature exotic makes it all worthwhile. As someone who relishes mastering challenging PVE content like Grandmaster Nightfalls and Trials of Osiris, getting the most from my exotic weapon choices is key. That‘s why undertaking this quest to acquire Thorn‘s explosive potential made perfect sense.

This guide will focus on the Destiny 2 Independent Study quest line. Many players get confused by this quest but this guide will assist you by breaking down each step required to finally claim this dominant hand cannon. I‘ll provide essential tips that I wish I knew going in on that first grind to mitigate frustration. With the strategies I‘ve honed across three characters‘ worth of completion, you can set realistic expectations around the time investments required.

Let‘s begin the journey toward an exotic that opens up thrilling new build opportunities. Here is everything you need to know about conquering the Independent Study quest for PVE glory with Thorn!

An Overview of the Potent Thorn Exotic

Before detailing the quest itself, let‘s discuss the capabilities that make Thorn such a coveted exotic prize. Thorn‘s signature perk provides the cornerstone of what makes it so lethal:

Mark of the Devourer: Shooting enemies triggers damaging over time effects. Killing shot enemies spawns Remnants which partially refill the magazine and boost the strength of the Mark of the Devourer perk substantially.

This translates to a looping cycle of firepower – scoring kills reloads ammo to keep pouring shots into the next target while amplifying Thorn‘s searing damage at the same time. In PVE activities, the ramping damage output allows the gun to shred through even the tankiest yellow-bar enemies as long as you maintain kill flow.

Now let‘s examine the perk combinations I‘ve found optimal for PVE based on experience clearing end-game raids and dungeons with Thorn equipped:

  • Hand Cannon Holster – Quick swap speed to ensure Thorn is constantly ready
  • Unstoppable Hand Cannon – Stagger unstoppable champions with ease
  • Anti-Barrier Rounds – Penetrate those pesky barriers that slow you down

With these mods equipped and the Mark of the Devourer perk rolling, Thorn transforms into an add-clearing machine capable of melting through an entire wave before reloading. While the lengthy quest presents a barrier to entry, the firepower unlocked makes Thorn an S-Tier exotic in PVE.

Step 1: Searching for Ashes in the European Dead Zone

The quest kicks off with a cryptic objective to search for ashes in the European Dead Zone. I recommend equipping a machine gun or rocket launcher to deal with enemy threats swiftly as you explore off the beaten path. Here are the steps required to find the ashes:

  1. Spawn at Trostland in the EDZ and head north into the Salt Mines
  2. Take the teleporter available inside and look toward a Fallen barrier along the adjacent cliffside path
  3. Follow the path with the barrier along your left until you reach a rocky outcrop with a noticeable bonfire
  4. Investigate the bonfire to discover the ashes and open the next quest step

I learned the hard way that the exact ashes location is not labeled on your HUD or map. On my first time pursuing the quest, it took me nearly 30 minutes of scouring the cliffs and caves before finally locating the ashes. So be prepared to peel your eyes scanning the terrain for where to initiate the quest!

Step 2: Visiting Banshee-44 in the Tower

With the ashes uncovered, it‘s time to pay the gunsmith Banshee-44 a visit back in the Tower. He will request you collect 50 Hadronic Essence, the first of many crafting materials required throughout this quest.

I recommend tackling this step solely through Nightfall strikes rather than Crucible since consistent progress relies less on personal performance. Here are tips to farm up Essence rapidly:

  • Select the lowest difficulty Nightfall that week – your score does not matter!
  • Speed run through as quickly as possible slaying enemies to rack up Essence
  • Three runs should yield about 45 Essence; grab a bounty for the last 5

Expect to spend around 25 minutes plowing through Nightfalls to gather enough Essence. Load up a podcast or some tunes – this step is straightforward but still a bit of a monotonous grind!

Step 3: Gathering Plasteel Plating via Heroic Blind Wells

Ah, the nostalgic location of the Blind Well comes into play for farming 50 Plasteel Plating next. Running Heroic Blind Wells proved the fastest method in my experience, so be sure to purchase Tier 3 and 4 charge consumables from Petra Venj before heading to Blind Well.

Heroic Blind Wells do not happen naturally, requiring coordination to trigger the heroic version mid-run. So I found it best to LFG a competent team split across the two available arenas within Blind Well rather than relying on randoms. Some key tips:

  • 10 Plating is rewarded per Heroic Blind Well completion
  • Running with a team splits enemies across arenas for faster clears
  • Takes 5 runs x ~7 minutes each to gather enough Plating

Give yourself at least 35 minutes for Plasteel Plating farming. While it can be tedious re-running Blind Wells, teaming up makes it far more fun and efficient!

Step 4: The Long Grind for Sapphire Wire

Strap in for the longest single grind of this entire quest – gathering 50 Sapphire Wire. The best approach is to combine Wave 7 clears of Escalation Protocol with daily Mars bounties. My strategy:

  1. Stock up on key consumables before heading to Mars
  2. Launch Escalation Protocol and complete all 3 of Ana Bray‘s daily bounties while slaying Hive
  3. Finish wave 7 then fast travel to reset the event and resume bounty progress
  4. Rinse and repeat for 7 total Wave 7 clears PLUS bounties

The Wave 7 chest provides 5 Wires each time. With 7 clears amounting to 35 Wires, tack on 15 Wires from bounties for a smooth single run earning all 50 Sapphire Wire.

However, be prepared to carve out a solid 2 hours for this grind! Coordinating a competent EP squad then executing 7 flawless wave 7 clears took me 1 hour and 45 minutes. Building in bounty completion and respawn/resupply time, 2 hours is a safe estimate.

Step 5: The Crucible Cleanup for Connection Strength

Get your PVP game face on for this next phase focused on amassing 100% Connection Strength. This involves eliminating opposing Guardians with Void damage. I preferred to mix up my Primary/Special weapon combo while playing Control matches:


  • Primary: Graviton Lance pulse rifle
  • Special: Forerunner sidearm
  • Heavy: Gjallarhorn (securing kills is priority – ammo conservation not needed)

Between chaining Graviton Lance and Forerunner kills, progress went smoothly. My key tips for optimizing Connection Strength gains:

  • Play Control for predictable enemy movements
  • Use radar manipulation to get the drop on enemies
  • Leverage your heavy weapon to steal kills from teammates

Expect to complete 25-30 Control matches to finally max out your Connection Strength. So plan for around 6 hours of playtime depending on your skill bracket!

Step 6: Visiting the Overlooked Farmer Tyra

As a Destiny 1 veteran, I actually overlooked this short step and wasted 20 minutes trying to figure out the next quest trigger! Don‘t repeat my mistake – head straight to the Farm when prompted and chat with Tyra Karn. Super simple but oddly tucked away.

No grind needed here! Just make the brief trip to chat with good ol‘ Tyra.

Step 7: Vanquishing Sardav and Telesh

This final quest showdown tasks you with conquering a unique Strike called Chasm of Screams on Titan. Your targets are the Hive Wizards Sardav and Telesh.

While this Strike will feel familiar initially, beware of the three highly dangerous modifiers enabled:

  1. All enemies have greatly enhanced health, damage, and flanking aggression
  2. Players receive 200% more incoming damage from all sources
  3. The infamous Blackout modifier prevents motion tracker usage and turbocharges melee attacks against you

This combination of brutal modifiers took my squad over 2 hours to slowly dismantle through our first attempt! Here are the key tips I‘ve since adopted that make this Strike much more manageable:

  • Loadout: Bring long range options to keep space given Blackout risks up close
  • Take It Slow: This is no rush job – pace engagements to avoid being overwhelmed
  • Team Shooting: Focus fire with coordinated damage to tackle beefy enemies
  • Cover is Key: Use height and barriers wisely between engagements

The reduced visibility plus amplified enemy melee and damage output punish reckless aggression harshly. But exercising patience, chaining supers to clear waves, and supporting teammates in targeted burst damage exchanges mitigates the Strike‘s chaos.

Expect to spend 1.5 – 2 hours minimum working through this final quest showdown! But remain focused through the brutal difficulty spikes and your efforts will be rewarded…

Step 8: Wield the Notorious Thorn at Last!

When Sardav and Telesh finally fall, the quest reaches a climactic conclusion with Thorn yours for the taking! After 8 quest steps requiring nearly 24 hours of collective grind time, equip your new exotic hand cannon and bask in sweet success.

As someone with three characters bearing the Thorn‘s coveted firepower, the work required pays back tenfold. Building into the Mark of the Devourer perk and chaining kills to sustain its lethality creates a lethal positive feedback loop. Paired with the right armor mods and complementary energy weapons, entire strike waves evaporate against Thorn‘s unrelenting onslaught.

So while the Independent Study presents a gargantuan grind, the exceptional strength of the Thorn exotic cements it as a centerpiece for countless power-hungry loadouts. I hope these insights gathered from my multiple first-hand completions set you up to conquer this quest smoothly! Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for newcomers seeking the Thorn‘s overwhelming potential. Now get out there and claim your rightful place among the ranks of Thorn-wielders!

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