Characters: Skyrim Main Characters
The main characters of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
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Dovahkiin / The Last Dragonborn
"And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph's shout..."
is The Chosen One
of prophecy, foretold to be the one to defeat Alduin, who is poised to destroy all of Nirn
. He or she turns out to be a penniless prisoner waking up in the back of a cart and about to be executed
- The Ace: The introduction of Legendary Skills in Patch 1.9 allows them to become this, earning enough Perks to fill every Skill Tree.
- Action Girl: If you choose to play as a female.
- Amazon Chaser: If the Dragonbon marries a female follower. Especially Uthgerdt or Aela.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: Somewhat justified, as many Word Walls are located deep within trap-filled and Draugr-infested tombs built by the Ancient Nords.
- Some quests involve exploring dwemer ruins for ancient, forgotten knowledge.
- Always a Bigger Fish: According to lore, Akatosh used his own blood to create the first Dragonborns, who would serve as guardians for mankind and natural predators for Dragons.
- And the Adventure Continues: The game doesn't end when you complete the main storyline, and random Radiant Quests ensure you have something to do afterwards.
- Both Tsun and Paarthurnax doubt your purpose has been completely fulfilled and several plot-threads are left unresolved, such as the calling of a Moot to elect a new High King. Similarly, depending who won at the end of the Civil War questline, they will imply that they expect to call on you in the future, since a second war with the Thalmor seems to be all but inevitable.
- The end of Dragonborn adds another plot hook into the mix, as Hermaeus Mora declares you will replace Miraak as his right-hand man, despite any objections you might have in the matter.
- Anti-Hero: There is no karma meter, but the Grey and Gray Morality of the two main questlines can put you anywhere on the index of subtropes. Possible membership in factions like the Companions, Thieves' Guild, and/or the Dark Brotherhood add to this.
- The Atoner: You can invoke this by completing the Dark Brotherhood main quest which ends with you killing the Emperor. Afterwards, join the Imperial Legion and help them win the civil war as way of making amends for the crimes you committed against the Empire. See Face-Heel Turn if you do the opposite.
- The game itself will invoke this trope with you. If you steal from your fellows in the Thieves' Guild or kill a colleague in the Dark Brotherhood, you must make restitution (though the latter is a subversion as a fine of 500 gold is all that is assessed for murder.) You can also pay off your bounties for crimes committed in various communities. If your skill in illusion is high enough to pacify a guard long enough to accept the bounty, you can make restitution for any and all crimes.
- Smaller sidequests occasionally allow you to do a favor for someone you wronged in another quest. For example, you can beat up the bartender at the Bee and the Barb in Riften as part of a racketeering job for the Thieves' Guild, then retrieve the gemstones her lover needs to prepare a wedding band so he can propose to her.
- Awesome McCoolname: Ignoring how you can name your character whatever you want, most characters refer to you as Dovahkiin or Dragonborn; the former, being dragon speech, sounds comparably awesome to other dragon names like Alduin, Paarthurnax and Odahviing.
- Ax-Crazy: The Dovahkiin tends to show shades of this in everyday conversation, but if you choose to play it that way, s/he takes the cake and then robs the entire bakery. It doesn't help that you tend to get a serious Slasher Smile when you slit someone's throat, incinerate them with a fireball, or snap their neck in the most violent way possible.
Is Markarth bloody enough for you, stranger?
More blood is always good.
- Badass: Possibly one of the most powerful video game protagonists ever. After all, how many people do you know who consider dragon slaying to be the job description? As random encounters, the Last Dragonborn will be mowing them down regularly.
- Action Survivor: After surviving almost being executed by beheading and burnt alive by a dragon, you proceed to become The Chosen One to prevent the end of the world.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Your actions in the various holds can lead to the Jarls declaring you Thane, which is a courtesy title of recognition and prestige. If you're scouted out to join a group like the Thieves' Guild, the Companions, or the College of Winterhold, by the time their questline is over you'll have been made their leader in recognition of your skill.
- In Dragonborn, you can become Tribe-Kin to a tribe of Rieklings, and eventually their chief after Challenging the Chief.
- Badass Beard: Todd Howard really wasn't kidding when he said that Skyrim would have truly epic beards...
- Badass Bookworm: Via reading skill books or specialising in magic.
- Badass Bystander: Later in the game dragon attacks become more a nuisance than a threat - you fast travel to a town to conduct some business, but a dragon is attacking. You step in to help the guard kill it (likely doing most of the work yourself) and absorb its soul, then go back to whatever you came here to do while the townsfolk gather around the beast's skeleton and whisper in awe about you.
- Badass Gay : If you're so inclined when it comes to marriage.
- Badass In Charge: By the end of the game, you have the potential to be Thane of all nine holds, The Archmage of the College of Winterhold, Guildmaster of the Thieves' Guild, Harbinger of the Companions, Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, Lord of Clan Volkihar, and Chief of the Rieklings of Thirsk Hall. The only guild you can't take total control over is the Dawnguard, because unlike every other guild, their leader doesn't die or get killed by you.
- Badass Nickname: The One They Fear.
- Badass Preacher: If you join a temple to the Divines.
- Beware the Nice Ones: You can play as a polite, kind and all-round Nice Guy, who nonetheless is perfectly capable of bending reality itself to tear enemies apart and not afraid of doing so!
- Colonel Badass: The Dragonborn's rank at the end of the Civil War. An Imperial-aligned Dragonborn is specifically a Legate Badass.
- Dare to Be Badass: Invoked by the Greybeards during the ceremony where they formally recognise the Dragonborn;
- Bald of Awesome: If you so choose.
- Barbarian Hero: Although you can play your Dragonborn as whatever kind of character you like, the "official" Dragonborn seen in the promotional art and trailers is one of these. It comes naturally to Nords. In general, the theme of Skyrim is Barbarian Hero to Oblivion's Knight In Shining Armour.
- Berserk Button: A minor tip? Kidnapping a One-Man Army's spouse is an incredibly bad idea. The vampires and Rochelle the Red are stupid enough to learn this the hard way.
- The Berserker: According to the game, specializing in two-handed weapons qualifies you. Potions that increase two-handed skills are rendered with 'of the Berserker'.
- Blood Knight: You can choose to be one. Given that you're in the land of Blood Knights, it comes naturally. Paarthurnax also mentions that as you have the soul of a Dragon, you have an innate desire for destruction.
- Even if you don't play as one, this tendency can still come through. After all, what sane person would willingly accept a bounty that requires them to charge headfirst into a Dragon's lair, or because their real goal was the Word Wall that Dragon was guarding?!
- Boomerang Bigot: You can have a "Skyrim for the Nords" attitude when talking to Brunwulf Free-Winter, who holds disdain for such an attitude... while not being a Nord yourself.
- Bounty Hunter: One way to make money is to ask around for bounty decrees (the target is usually a dragon, a group of bandits, or a troublesome giant), then collect your bounty from the local Jarl.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Manages to pull this on dragonslaying of all things. Each dragon just serves as a minor annoyance in the end. Miraak calls them out on this at one point.
- Catchphrase: Unrelenting Force, one of the first dragon shouts you learn, which nonetheless can prove itself useful in almost any situation.
- The Champion: Serves as one for Serana in Dawnguard. It could also be said that the Dovahkiin is this for all of Skyrim, with regards to the main quest.
- Becoming a Thane of any hold is essentially about formalizing this relationship with the local lord.
- The Chosen One: A slightly unusual case in that there's sometimes more than one Chosen One running around; but the Player Character is implied to be the last Dragonborn.
- The Dragonborn is also the chosen one of every other circumstance and guild they run across.
- Taken Up to Eleven when you reach Sovngarde and are challenged by the guardian of Shor's Hall, Tsun. He wants to know by what right you should be allowed to enter, and you can say that you're the Dovahkiin... But if you've completed all the other Faction Quests, you can also say that you're Harbinger of the Companions, Archmage of the College of Winterhold, Nightingale of the Thieves' Guild, or Listener for the Dark Brotherhood.
- It's heavily implied in The Book of the Dragonborn, as well as a very accurate ancient prophecy, that you are the last Dragonborn.
- The Dragonborn DLC confirms that you are the Last and must deal with the return of the First.
- Chosen Ones Have Good Sex: If you get married, and go to sleep with your spouse (either because you're at the house or you're traveling with them), you get the Lover's Comfort buff, where the Dragonborn is in such a good mood that skill-building becomes a lot easier for a while.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Being a TES game, you can backstab basically everyone. Notable example: You kill the Emperor at the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline. Bonus points if you've previously joined the Legion and sworn allegiance to the Emperor. Then you can accept the Emperor's last request to murder the man who ordered his assassination. Less notable example: Help Madanach and the Forsworn escape Cidhna Mine, accept his reward and thanks, then stick a knife in his back when he turns to leave.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Can be played as such.
- Combat Pragmatist: If it gets the job done, no tactic is too underhanded for you. The kill animations are often quite brutal in this regard — some of them including using the shaft of a warhammer or battle axe to break the neck of the foe, headbutting them to death, Shield Bashing them to death, decapitations, and occasionally you just kick them. And let's not forget the Dragon Shouts, which let you freeze enemies solid, rip out their souls, drain their health, or, most famously, toss them through the air and off cliffs to die on impact.
- Co-Dragons: By the final mission in the Civil War questline, you've become the Co Dragon to either Tullius or Ulfric, alongside Rikke or Galmar, respectively.
- Cool Helmet: Always depicted as wearing a horned helmet with a face mask in promotional art (the readily available Iron helmet, for those interested). In the game, you can wear a variety, including that one, or none at all.
- Crazy-Prepared: Potentially. A Dovahkiin focused on smithing, enchanting, speech, and alchemy (at the expense of perk-placement in other skills directly-related to combat or magic) can have custom-made weapons, potions, and enchanted gear for any eventuality. You essentially sacrifice the ability to be the perfect warrior to instead be Batman.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Dragonborn is essentially The Elder Scrolls' version of Christ, a god in a mortal's body destined to save the world. You even go to the afterlife and then return to the mortal realm.. Some of the songs about the Dragonborn declare that once he's destroyed Alduin, he will usher in a new Age and (depending on your interpretation) give the gift of the Voice to the races of Man on a large scale.
- Cursed with Awesome: You can become a Werewolf, making you passively immune to disease and contracting Vampirism. Oh, and the whole transforming into a werewolf and tearing people limb from limb with your bare hands part is kinda cool as well...
- Becoming a Vampire Lord with Dawnguard removes or negates many of the drawbacks of common Vampirism, making becoming one incredibly worth it, despite the stat-penalty during daylight hours.
- Dad/Mom The Veteran: With Hearthfire, the Dragonborn can adopt children, and this trope applies for one who joined either side of the Civil War.
- Deadpan Snarker: There are plenty of sarcastic dialogue options.
- Defector from Decadence: If the Dragonborn is an Altmer and loyal to the Empire, one of the possibilities for why they arrived in Skyrim is that they are one of the many Altmer fleeing the expanding influence of the Aldmeri Dominion. Due to the White-Gold Condordat being signed between the Thalmor and the Empire, the Thalmor were effectively granted free reign to come and go throughout the Empire and the jurisdiction to arrest anyone they wish. One suspects that Altmer not loyal to the Dominion are on the top of their list...
- Determinator: Slaying Dragons, ending Civil Wars and saving the World? Numerous characters comment on the Dragonborn's tenacity.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The Dragonborn always has the option of telling the Daedric Princes, in no uncertain terms, to go to hell.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: You eventually end up defeating Alduin, firstborn of Akatosh, god of Time itself, whose purpose is to bring about the end of the world and who has done it many times before.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: The Dragonborn can do this to several Daedric Princes during their personal quests. It's also possible to pledge their soul to more than one Daedric Prince... which, since the Dragons-blood is a gift bestowed by Akatosh, might not actually be "their" soul to sell?!
- Can be all the more apparent at the end of the main quest, as Tsun, after the Dragonborn defeats Alduin, will tell the Dovahkiin that his/her afterlife is guaranteed to be spent in Sovngarde. Tsun says this even after the Dovhakiin tells him that he/she is a Nightingale to Nocturnal, suggesting that not even a Daedric Prince can prevent the Dragonborn from going to the Nord race's Warrior Heaven for his or her afterlife, even if he/she isn't a Nord.
- Disproportionate Retribution: If you join the Stormcloaks and the Dark Brotherhood, you can bring about the secession of Skyrim from the Empire and even kill the Emperor, as part of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Empire for that petty Imperial Captain ordering your execution at Helgen, even after it was brought to her attention you weren't on the list.
- Doom Magnet: Everywhere the Dragonborn goes, expect trouble to follow. Some characters refer to you as "Doom-driven." The mere act of the Dragonborn showing up in an area can lead to the collapse of ages-long plots by villains and bringing about the (often violent) resurgence, collapse, or changing of any number of guilds and organizations. Not to mention that both dragon attacks and the Dawnguard DLC's random vampire attacks will only happen when the Dragonborn shows up. The best way to prevent either from happening to someone you like is to stay the Oblivion away from them.
- The Dragon: Becomes one to Hermaeus Mora at the end of the Dragonborn DLC, although it's made clear that Dragonborn doesn't have much choice about it.
- Both Neloth and Frea beg to differ.
- Dragon Rider: The Dragonborn does this after releasing Odahviing. In Dragonborn, they learn the Bend Will shout that allows them to command Dragons into their service and use them as mounts.
- The Dragonslayer: A natural part of being Dragonborn. The Dragonborn is described as being the ultimate dragonslayer, because they don't just kill the dragon's body, but they also absorb the dragon's soul upon its death, thus preventing it from being resurrected.
- The Dreaded: Dragonborn, being the only mortals capable of truly killing a dragon, are actually mentioned as being something the Dragons fear above all else. Case in point, the music that plays during your fights with Dragons is titled on the soundtrack as "The One They Fear."
- Literally invoked the first Dragon you face, Mirmulnir, when he realises far too late just who you are.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Playing any race other than Nord tends to this, but especially Khajiit, Argonian, and Dunmer Dragonborn will still get talked down to by guards and some NPCs, even after defeating Alduin.
- The Blades, despite supposedly being sworn to serve the Dragonborn, often treat them as an indentured servant and demand they perform tasks for them.
- Due to the guard dialogue being randomized, they will often mock and talk down to you regardless of your titles and status, such as "So you can cast a few spells, am I supposed to be impressed?" even if you're the Archmage of the College, and "So you're that new member of the Companions, so you what, fetch the mead?" after you've eradicated the Silver Hand and been named Harbinger.
- Averted in a few rare circumstances. For example, when entering the College of Winterhold, you're normally expected to make a show of magical aptitude, but if you simply tell Faralda that you're the Dragonborn and fire off a Shout, she'll enthusiastically let you through. And in Hearthfire it turns out that, yes, simply being the Dragonborn is all the cred you need to adopt children at Honorhall.
- Played straight to some degree in the Dragonborn DLC by Telvanni Master Wizard Neloth, who doesn't think much of the Dragonborn even if he/she's the Archmage of the College of Winterhold and/or saved Solstheim from First Dragonborn Miraak, and is especially unimpressed if the Dragonborn shows off Shouts in his presence. Subverted later on when he becomes grudgingly respectful of the Dragonborn once he/she claims the Staff of Magnus, recovers the Oghma Infinium and the Black Books, defeats Miraak and earns the patronage of Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora and if the Dragonborn has done enough favours for him to be recognized as a member of House Telvanni.
- Establishing Character Moment: In Bethesda's official live-action trailer, as the citizens of a city are shown fleeing in terror from a Dragon attack, the Dragonborn's reaction is to merely clench their first for a moment, draw their sword and calmly proceed to march through the fray, before staring down the Dragon without flinching. While the race and class are left up to the player in-game, this is overall a rather fitting depiction since upon seeing a Dragon, the Dragonborn will (likely) end up running towards the danger.
- Extreme Omnivore: With the Dawnguard DLC, a perk allows you to devour any living creature in werewolf form to sustain the transformation, including bears, spiders, Falmer, giants, mudcrabs, etc.
- Eating alchemy ingredients is the most obvious way to learn their traits. Said ingredients include stuff like various teeth, claws, antlers, pearls, barnacles, elemental salts, and human hearts/flesh.
- Fantastic Racism: If you meet up with Brunwulf Free-Winter you have the option of saying that Skyrim is for Nords alone. Strangely enough, you get this option even if you're not a Nord.
- Featureless Protagonist: As in every TES game.
- Femme Fatale: Very possible for a female Dragonborn of any non-beast race.
- Folk Hero: In-Universe. The bards even composed a song called "The Dragonborn Comes," foretelling your arrival. You may occasionally encounter wandering minstrels who will sing it at your request.
- Friend to All Children: The Dragonborn can be played this way, even joining in a game of hide and seek or tag.
- In Heathfire, they can offer to adopt orphaned children, after hearing how they've been forced to live in abject poverty.
- Fur Against Fang: Played straight if the Dragonborn is a werewolf and sides with the Dawnguard against Lord Harkon.
- Genius Bruiser: Potentially; you can easily wear heavy armors, use insanely powerful weapons and be really good in hand-to-hand combat, yet being a skilled mage, alchemist and/or enchanter.
- Genius Ditz: Can invoke this with the Greybeards, saying you have no idea how you can learn new Thu'um quickly, you just do it.
- If you join the Mage College but haven't specialized in magic thus far, you essentially are acknowledged as being the least skilled with magic, but potentially one of the most powerful.
- Gentleman Adventurer/Lady of Adventure: The Dragonborn is frequently referred to as an adventurer, despite potentially being rich enough to not need to continue to explore Draugr-infested crypts or Dwemer ruins for anything other than fun.
- Gentleman Thief: The Thieves' Guild questline actually encourages you to be one, with penalties for murdering people during robberies; the desired outcome being to simply break in, get the goods and get back out again without anyone the wiser. The gentleman aspect comes even more into play considering you might be at the point where you have several thousand Septims sitting comfortably in your back pocket, meaning you honestly don't need to steal to make a living.
- Gentleman Wizard: Becoming the Archmage of the College and Thane of numerous Holds means you are essentially not only a respected member of the magical community in Tamriel, but also part of Skyrim's elite society.
- Good Is Not Nice: It's entirely possible to be a genuinely heroic figure who wants to help as many people as you can, while being a total asshole to all of them.
- Good Is Not Soft: Can be played like this.
- Good Parents: Very easy to play as one with the Hearthfire DLC. The Dragonborn can often play games with their children, come back from their travels with gifts, and just show them strong love in general.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: If you wish, the Dragonborn can have a plethora of manly scars.
- Glamour Failure: After becoming a werewolf, city guards will comment that the Dragonborn appears to have fur growing out of their ears and a wolfish grin. This happens even if you are an Argonian, whose ears and facial expressions shouldn't be readily apparent in the first place, or if you're a Khajiit, and have furry ears anyway. Oddly, a glitch can cause them to make comments of this nature even if you cure your lycanthropy as part of the Companions questline.
- And, if you're a vampire, people start commenting on your pale skin and hungry eyes.
- Half Humanoid Hybrid: The Dragonborn isn't one, but some people unfamiliar with the specific lore surrounding the Dragonborn think s/he is one.
- Happily Married: Entirely possible to invoke this, although some potential spouses are rather sour. That being said...
- Harbinger of Impending Doom: Alduin's Wall shows that "The Prophecy of the Dragonborn" foretold all of the events of the previous games and were signs that would herald the coming of the Last Dragonborn.
- Hellish Horse: The Dragonborn can gain possession of Shadowmere if they decide to join the Dark Brotherhood. In Dawnguard, they can also learn to summon a purple-flaming skeletal horse named Arvak after finding its skull in the Soul Cairn.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: Played with; regardless of the name you pick, you're usually referred to as "The Dragonborn" or "Dovahkiin", but your name will frequently appear written in notes and journals. The reason for this is obvious.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Even if you're the nicest, most heroic guy imaginable, you'll still get a bounty on par with murder if you're exposed as a werewolf or vampire lord. One wonders why...
- Of course, it's subtly implied that most of the Dragonborn's antics are tolerated as long as they're channeling their destructive tendencies towards the enemies of Skyrim and away from the common people. The unwritten rule the Guards seem to follow is as long as they don't see you do anything illegal or dangerous, they're not going to dare confront you about it!
- Heterosexual Life-Partners / Platonic Life Partners: Becomes this with Serana in the Dawnguard storyline.
- Hired Sword: Various NPCs will occasionally refer to the Dragonborn as a travelling sellsword.
- Horny Vikings: A Nordic Dragonborn will find himself embracing many beloved Viking clichés.
- Horrifying Hero: Potentially. You can perfectly rely on things such as Necromancy or weapons and artifacts you got from Daedric Princes, dress in black armors with Spikes of Villainy, and/or become a vampire or a werewolf, and still be an genuinely heroic character. Even more so in Dawnguard, where you can become a Vampire Lord even if you side with the unambiguously good, vampire-hunting Dawnguard (though you will have to cure yourself whenever you need to complete their quests, you can still turn yourself back into one once it's done)
- Humanoid Abomination: Is viewed as one by the Dragons, being a mortal who somehow possesses the soul of a Dragon and is able to permanently kill them, then proceed to use their souls as fuel.
- Technically could be considered one even outside of the Dragons' perspective. After progressing far enough in the game, the Dragonborn essentially has a multitude of dragon souls inside his/her body, which are used to fuel his/her Reality Warping ability. And a Vampire Lord Dragonborn adds to this the bonus of being an immortal undead with a One-Winged Angel form.
- The Hunter: Is considered by the Blades to be the ultimate Dragonslayer for good reason: only a Dragonborn (or a dragon) can keep dragons from being resurrected by Alduin. The Blades might be able to kill a dragon, but without your help it isn't going to stay killed.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: Given how the Dragonborn is of the same kith as Dragons, this is to be expected.
- Most vampires you encounter are hostile, so being one yourself invokes this trope. Being a werewolf can result in this too (mostly in the Sinding/Hircine quest).
- Thalmor can invoke this in both directions if you're an Altmer. Once you hit the Thalmor Embassy, they'll start sending execution squads after you, which will only happen to a Dragonborn who has the patience to not brutally murder Thalmor s/he encounters beforehand.
- Literally occurs in Dragonborn, where you hunt down Miraak, the very first Dragonborn.
- I Am Your Opponent: The Dragonborn towards Dragonkind.
- Iconic Outfit: As shown above, publicity images commonly depict the Dragonborn as a Barbarian Hero wearing a horned Iron Helmet, Studded Armour and Iron Gloves and Boots, with the Iron Helmet alone often being used to represent the character.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Due to being some of the earliest acquired and lowest-tiered pieces in the game, the Dragonborn used in publicity photos is actually wearing a mismatched set of light and heavy armour. Hold Guards will also occasionally comment on them wearing the type of armour typically favoured by brigands.
- I Hate You, Vampire Dad: If the Dovahkiin accepts Lord Harkon's offer of Vampire Lordship and ends up killing him
- I Have Many Names: Aside from the name you give your character in CharGen, you have the title "Dragonborn" (obviously), "Dovahkiin" (Dragonborn in dragon language), the title "Stormcrown" and "Ysmir, the Dragon of The North" by the Greybeards, and "Qahnaarin" ("Vanquisher"), given by Durnehviir . The Stormcloaks and Empire will also give you titles that effectively serve as your name while working for them.
- If you side with the Stormcloaks in the Civil War questline, you're given several names as you progress: Ice-Veins, Bone-Breaker, Snow-Hammer, and finally, Stormblade.
- I'm a Humanitarian: One of the quests allows you to become a cannibal.
- "Human Flesh" is also an alchemical ingredient, and the most obvious method of discovering an ingredient's first trait is eating it.
- Furthermore, the most effective method of healing oneself in werewolf form is to take a bite out of some dead human enemies.
- You can choose to be a Bosmer, a race that practices ritual cannibalism.
- Impossible Thief: With enough lockpicks, any lock the game lets you try to pick will be picked, and you can steal baskets, kettles and plates without disturbing the items on or in them, leaving those items to suddenly fall to the ground. With enough skill points and the right perks, eventually you can pickpocket the clothes and weapons off of people, run by right in front of their eyes without being seen, and vanish from sight instantly by entering Sneak mode.
- Informed Attractiveness: People won't be gushing over you, but you'll occasionally hear some NPC banter that paints you as good-looking regardless of your appearance, even if you're non-human, covered in dirt, brutally scarred, partially blind, and clad in dragon bones. Then again, given that Skyrim is a land of Blood Knights, these might be sexy traits as far as locals are concerned.
- Some very complimentary examples from Narri of Falkreath:
To a male Dragonborn: Shor's bones, a handsome man in Falkreath!
To a female Dragonborn: You're going to have the men around here wrapped around your finger in no time.
- Put on the Amulet of Mara, which indicates that you're interested in getting married, and listen to assorted NPCs comment about how someone like you should already have been snapped up. Then again, you are the Dragonborn, and potentially have quite a long list of other respectablenote titles as well.
- Instant Expert: Happens in two ways:
- The first way is what effectively makes the Dragonborn so special. Instead of having to spend years on mastering the Thu'um, you can simply absorb a dragon's soul and use those to master a known word of power. This does have its limits - the Dragonborn does not absorb a full understanding of the Dragon Language itself, something Alduin mocks you about at one point. Similarly, Arngeir only realises when you ask that you had no clue what any of the Greybeards actually were saying during your initiation ceremony.
- The second way is with the skills itself: If you read enough skill books and possess enough money to buy training sessions, you can easily go from being a complete novice in a skill to being fairly passable in it in the course of an in-game afternoon. It's also funny when one considers the perk system; if, for example, the Dragonborn decides to take the Dragon Smithing perk, s/he instantly knows how to forge armors from Dragonscales and bones, despite the fact that no one in Skyrim knows how to do this (given that until very recently, there were no dragons around!).
- The perk tree is so that you can save all of your perks and use them when you deem the skill necessary. This can result in a novice who barely knows how to aim with a bow at a deer becoming a master huntsman who can land a killshot on a elite Thalmor Justicar from several miles away.
- Interspecies Romance: Possible for any Dragonborn. If playing as a Khajiit, this is the only sort of romance you will be able to have (without the assistance of console commands or mods), because there are no marriageable Khajiit in the base game.
- Irony: The Dovahkiin can invoke this if they go with Ralof during the intro. Prior, an Imperial Captain (over Hadvar's objection) commanded you be beheaded despite being innocent of any crime except being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That said, guess who is one of the very first Imperials you can kill as soon as you enter Helgen Keep? And, for bonus points, the first weapon you can get your hands on is an axe.
- Karma Houdini: Depending on what you do through the game. By the end of it, you can be a cannibal, a Dark Brotherhood assassin, The Dragon for several evil Daedric Princes, master of the Thieves' Guild and Lord of Skyrim's most powerful Vampire Clan, yet still only be known and praised as the savior of Skyrim. The only possible form of comeuppance you can receive are suboptimal quest results, making various enemies, and the occasional Game Over.
- Kavorka Man: Possibly
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Entirely possible to do, and even probable if you are playing a thief archetype. Interestingly, while hot property is limited to designated fences for proper sale, there's nothing stopping you from gifting hot property for miscellaneous "I'd love it if you could find me one of those" quests.
- The Lad-ette: A female Dovahkiin can chug mead and get into fistfights at the tavern...
- Lady of War: ...or a female Dovahkiin can effectively be one of these.
- Last of His Kind: The Book of the Dragonborn heavily implies you are the Last Dragonborn. Confirmed in Dragonborn, that while you are the last natural, intended one in the line, the First Dragonborn has been biding his time in Apocrypha and seeking his return.
- In a metaphorical sense, since the Dragonborn are said to have been created by Akatosh and you are the last one in the line, the Dragonborn could be considered the lastborn offspring of Akatosh, opposed to Alduin who is the firstborn.
- Lightning Bruiser: In werewolf form, you can do a sprint slash; you sprint towards your foe, then do a power attack while still sprinting. Fully perked, the werewolf sprint attack maxes out at 960 damages at level 46 - which is several times stronger than a hit from maxed Legendary daedric warhammer without fortify restoration abuse. If you have Dawnguard, the werewolf form also has a pretty respectable scaled armor rating that maxes out at 400 and when combined with some passive magic resistance could practically make you impervious to damages. One combination that absolutely qualifies for this trope, however, is the Elemental Fury shout combined with the orc racial power, berserker rage. Elemental fury increases your attack speed, doubling it at max power, while berserker rage doubles your attack damage while cutting the damage you take in half. This combination renders any and all melee engagements moot; your enemies may as well be fighting an avalanche.
- Like Brother and Sister: The Dragonborn and Serana can easily end up as this, especially if the Dragonborn becomes a Vampire Lord.
- Living Legend: The Dragonborn is revered by the Nords as a legendary figure and hero. Esbern and Paarthurnax later reveal that the player actually is The Dragonborn that was prophesied in the Elder Scrolls to defeat Alduin.
- As the player rises through the ranks, they can become this to the side chosen in the Civil War storyline.
- Magic Knight: No matter what race the Dragonborn is, s/he can use at least some form of basic magic. The Thu'um Shouts further solidify this; even a Dragonborn who never expends any magicka will still be blasting enemies with their Voice.
- Should the Dragonborn decide to focus solely on Magic, Smithing and Enchanting, they can end up as a Mage decked out in heavily enchanted armour that reduces the magicka cost to nearly zero, allowing them to constantly fling fireballs at their enemies.
- Magnetic Hero: Although you can only have one follower with you at a time, there are 49 available and you can potentially recruit them all.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The Thu'um is literally called a Shout and can give you several different abilities. Check the Make Me Wanna Shout entry in Tropes H-M of the main work for a full list of what the Dragonborn can potentially do with the Thu'um.
- Master Poisoner: The Alchemy skill revolves around this.
- Match Maker Quest: You get to help a few couples get together in the quest The Book of Love.
- Meaningful Name: While most refer to you as "Dragonborn", the name Dovahkiin can be broken down into "Dov Ah Kiin", fitting with the dragon naming conventions of three words joined to form their names. This alternate spelling produces the translation "Dragonkind Hunter Born" or "Born Hunter of Dragonkind", a very apt description.
- The Messiah: The salvation of the world is up to you.
- Multi-Melee Master: Swords, daggers, maces, hammers, axes, staves, pickaxes, all of varying designs and variably one or two-handed.
- Multiple Choice Past: In conversation with several characters, the player has a choice of multiple answers regarding his or her past - for example, when talking to Serana the topic is the Dovahkiin's relationship with his or her parents - the choices range from being close to them to never having known them. Another example is in Cidhna Mine: you can claim either that the first time you were imprisoned was Helgen, or that you've always been a troublemaker since you were young.
- Mugging the Monster: It's remarkable how many people think attacking you is a good idea.
- You can actually get ambushed by a thief in a random instance and have the option to dismiss them entirely;
Dragonborn: I don't have time for this...
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: By no means required, but entirely possible. Listing the ways to invoke it for each race would be a page unto itself.
- The Altmer, Bosmer and Khajiit are the most extreme cases, as for them it is effectively required - the main storyline involves direct action against the Thalmor who rule over their respective homelands.
- Mysterious Past: Although it's left blank for the player to make up, you can make a couple of in-game suggestions about it. In Cidhna Mine you can claim your family is still alive but in another part of Tamriel, and tell Eola you've already indulged in cannibalism. However, since this is optional dialogue and can be refuted in said conversations, it's not set in stone.
- In Dawnguard, Serana will ask you about your family. You have a few options for what to tell her about your parents. (See The Parent Trope, below.)
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Dragonborn, of course. But the Stormblade, Harbinger of the Companions, and Listener of the Dark Brotherhood can also count.
- Never Live It Down: In-universe. All the guards will give you shit over releasing Odahviing, even if you had a perfectly good reason to do it. Even if you used Odahviing to win the Civil War (which is the whole reason that the current guards have their jobs), or just used him then and there to kill a hostile dragon, they'll still call you out on it.
Guard: Releasing a captured dragon. I don't think I'll ever understand that one...
- Nice Guy: You can be one by helping every helpless civilian you find on your travels, giving mercy to enemies who ask for it, donating money to beggars and playing games with children.
- With the Hearthfire DLC, the Dragonborn can adopt up to two orphans, giving them a loving home where they will be attended by your housecarls and stewards while you're off keeping Skyrim safe.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: As the game progresses and you complete guild questlines, main quests, civil war, and sidequests, the player will rapidly become an example of this trope. You already start off as part-dragon, which is coupled with your race of choice. Once the guild questlines are finished, you can add Viking champion/Legate, archmage, mentor of another Viking guild, thief, assassin, priest, bard, champion of multiple deities and Daedric princes, ally of the Forsworn, Thane of all nine holds, and werewolf/vampirenote to the list.
- Noble Top Enforcer: At the end of Dragonborn, Hermaeus Mora appoints the Dragonborn as their new Dragon, although it's made very clear that the Dragonborn actually does not have much of a choice in the matter. Likewise, what Mora does to Miraak is their demonstration of why it's not clever to try and play The Starscream.
- Although both Frea and Neloth say otherwise. It should also be pointed out that Mora has little to no power outside his realm; Miraak's mistake was trying to betray Mora within his realm.
- Non Human Side Kick: On top of any human/mer followers, you can have a dog as a follower, or an Armored Troll (with Dawnguard) or a Riekling, or a Dwemer Spider/Sphere (with Dragonborn). During Clavicus Vile's Daedric quest, you also have Barbas, a Daedra assuming the form of a dog as a temporary follower.
- No Sell: Werewolves are completely immune to disease or being infected with vampirism; conversely, vampires have that same immunity to disease and cannot contract lycanthropy.
- Not So Different: Paarthurnax notes that the Dragonborn has the same innate urge to kill, destroy and conquer as all Dragons do.
- With Alduin. How does Alduin grow stronger? By devouring the souls of dead mortals. How does the Dragonborn's Thu'um become stronger? By consuming the souls of dead dragons.
- With Miraak. A Dragonborn who has amassed an army of loyal followers, become one of the most powerful individuals in the land, slain multiple Dragons and proven they are not afraid to stand up to Daedric Princes? Sound at all familiar?
- How does one summon a Dragon? By calling forth their name via the Thu'um. How did the Greybeards summon the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar to begin their training? By doing the exact same thing!
- Occult Detective: Various quests have the Dragonborn having to deal with witches, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, necromancers, Daedric Princes, and all manner of arcane creatures.
- The Clairvoyance spell will pin-point to your current quest target.
- Odd Friendship: Potentially, between the Dragonborn and Paarthurnax.
- The Dawnguard DLC allows you to befriend Serana, a friendly vampire, even if you are a member of the Dawnguard faction.
- Oh Crap: The reaction of various Dragons when they realise who you are.
- One-Man Army: The Dragonborn can and will plow through entire fortresses filled with cultists, wizards, bandits, and vampires all by themselves. Taken to an extreme with the Civil War questline, where you end up doing the lion's share of the work to take down fortresses and cities from the opposing side, racking up tremendous numbers of slain foes by the end.
- Only in It for the Money: Quite possible with any Dragonborn, but comes out most when playing a Thief archetype combined with the right dialogue options. Especially if you join the Thieves' Guild.
- Open Secret: Guards will occasionally mention they know that you're in the Thieves' Guild, or a member of the Dark Brotherhood (including suspecting that you killed the Emperor himself), but never confront you about it because they lack direct evidence - and also because they're terrified of you.
- Pals With Daedric Princes: The Dragonborn can undertake quests from various Daedric Princes and eventually becomes recognised as their respective Champion. Given the Daedric Princes' rather indifferent (if not outright hostile) attitude towards most mortals in Nirn, being considered not completely useless is a pretty big accomplishment.
- Part Time Hero: The Dragonborn can be played as such.
- The Parent Trope: As stated above in Multiple Choice Past, there are varying responses for when Serana inquires about the Dragonborn's parents.
- Abusive Parents: The Dragonborn had a poor relationship with their parents, who are now absent from their life, and he/she is glad for it. Self-Made Orphan is implied to have taken place.
- Good Parents: The Dragonborn has a very close and healthy relationship with their parents, who are still alive, and is eager to see them again.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: The Dragonborn's parents were good people, but have since passed on.
- Parental Abandonment: The Dragonborn is an orphan, who grew up alone and never knew their parents.
- Papa Wolf/Mama Bear: With the Hearthfire DLC, if the Dragonborn's children live in a settlement, one of his/her duties is protecting them from invading bandits or monsters.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Averted if playing as an Altmer, which turns the infiltration of the Thalmor Embassy into a doddle. Instead of keeping a low profile, the Dragonborn can casually walk up to people, barking orders. Since everyone is so afraid of the Thalmor, they don't dare ask any questions.
- Person of Mass Destruction: The Thu'um, the elemental forces of magic, and mastery over all types of weapons and styles of using them. Special mention must go to Storm Call. Run into a town or fort full of enemies, Shout out the words to Storm Call, and watch blasts of lightning rain down on your enemies until there's nothing left for them to strike.
- Pet the Dog: A literal example. Over the course of your travels, you can rescue stray dogs from enemies.
- Physical God: The Dragonborn is essentially the Elder Scrolls equivalent of a Demigod.
- Primal Stance: Drops into this when Sneaking.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Comes through most when playing a Nord.
Jarl of Whiterun: Alduin... The World Eater? But if he has come, then surely it is the end?
Dragonborn: Maybe, but I intend to die fighting!
Jarl of Whiterun: Spoken like a true Nord! I stand with you, Dragonborn!
- Professional Killer: Very possible with a Dragonborn that joins the Dark Brotherhood. Can be most prevalent during your first meeting with Amaund Motierre.
Motierre: The real reason I'm speaking with a cutthroat in the bowels of this detestable crypt. For I seek the assassination of... The Emperor.
Dragonborn: Leaders rise and fall. Business is business.
- Psychotic Smirk: After becoming a Werewolf, guards claim that the Dragonborn has a disturbing wolfish grin.
- Real Heroes Love The Nine Divines: You can wear an amulet of any god, pray at their shrines regularly and serve any temple, should you wish.
- You're not limited to the divines only. Completing the Sacred Trials of Kyne and selecting 'I don't believe in the Nine' can make you a Real Man (or Woman) who loves the Old Nordic Gods.
- Joining the Stormcloaks ostensibly makes you a Real Man (or Woman) who loves Talos exclusively.
- In Hearthfire, you can build an altar with shrines to each of the Nine Divines in the cellar of your house, which is technically illegal in Tamriel under the terms of the White-Gold Concordat. Not that anyone in Skyrim seems to particularly care.
- Or should you choose, you can pledge yourself to one of the Daedric Princes and become their Champion.
- Rags to Riches: Can become a Thane to multiple Jarls of Skyrim, and unless you're actually trying not to, you'll probably end up with gold coming out of your ears, especially if you earn the Prowler's Profit perk, which lets you discover tons of gold and precious stones in every chest and urn out there in Skyrim - all yours for the taking. Appropriately, you start with rags in your inventory prior to having your restraints cut.
- Reality Warper: As with all those capable of the Thu'um. You literally yell at the world using the power and language that shapes it, and it changes at your command.
- Red Baron: The Dragonborn (Dovahkiin), "The One They Fear", Stormcrown, Ysmir the Dragon of the North, Qahnaarin (Vanquisher) and for those who join the Stormcloaks, "Stormblade".
- Reluctant Warrior: Can be played as one.
- Rightful King Returns: In a metaphorical sense, this is how the Greybeards view the re-emergence of the Dragonborn, lamenting that that the "Storm Crown" had been forced to languish without a worthy brow to rest upon for far too long.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Hapless emigrant from the heartland province that gets caught up in a trap meant for the leader of a rebel faction against an Empire that has seen better days discovers that they are actually a demigod and essentially the divine affirmation of the continuation of existence made flesh, determinant of an entire province's future political relations, and vanquisher of a really mean dragon. Or reality's total-reset function gone awry. Or some dragon mantling the godly essence of that function and letting the power go to their head. Elder Scrolls lore metaphysics gets complicated like that...
- Science Hero: If you specialize in Alchemy, Enchanting, and Smithing.
- Self-Made Man: Hearthfire allows you to become this by building a manor and all of its furniture with your own bare hands. In addition, the Dragonborn pretty much has to earn all their money, though most often by driving a sword or lightning bolt though his/her foes to get said money in the first place.
- Ship Tease: While the Dragonborn has the opportunity to marry a great many potential spouses, s/he has the most romantic subtext with Serana, who, ironically, s/he can't marry. During the final confrontation with Lord Harkon, there's even an option for a Dawnguard-aligned Dragonborn to tell him that s/he won't hurt Serana because "She means too much to me."
- Silent Protagonist: Actually averted: the Dragonborn doesn't talk normally, but he/she is actually voiced. Besides performing dragon Shouts, the Throw Voice power has you actually throw out a variety of insults at your enemiesnote .
- Smarter Than You Look: Farengar Secret-Fire says this if you ask about him about his work with the Dragon Stone.
- Super Mode: In the Dragonborn DLC, you will gain a "Dragon Aspect" power which allows you to crank your Thu'um powers Up to Eleven and involves some glowy ethereal spines and horns on your character model to visualize its activity.
- Super Senses: The Aura Whisper shout. The Dragonborn is also implied to be the only one who can see the glowing eyes of a vampire; other mortals see an ill-defined "hunger" in a vampire's eyes, but the glow is only obvious to the Dragonborn. Similarly, if we assume that the Dragonborn's vision going dark and the Words of Power starting to glow is not merely a gameplay mechanic, but an actual physical reaction of their Aedric soul's proximity to a Word Wall, this would explain why scholars have remained unaware of their true function for millennia.
- The Starscream/Et Tu, Brute?:
- Possibly one to Jarl Balgruuf the Greater, if you support the Stormcloaks. He's been the one guy to support you wholeheartedly and keep his people out of the war, but Ulfric tasks you with laying siege to the city he commands and forcing him out. This is after he made you Thane and welcomed you into his city. Grey and Gray Morality aside, you will feel like a dick for betraying him.
- In Dawnguard, the Dovahkiin can become this to Lord Harkon. Unlike Jarl Balgruuf, he unambiguously deserves it.
- The Stoic: The Dark Brotherhood questline once again gives the option of staying completely silent during most conversations.
- Supporting Protagonist: While still The Hero, the Dragonborn shifts into this role at various points in Dawnguard, since most of the story is centered around Serana.
- Tamrielic Mages Get No Respect: Actually mostly averted if you play a Dragonborn that specializes mainly (or entirely) in magic; while NPCs may often tell you to be careful with whatever spell you've equipped, they will otherwise treat you as fairly as they would a non-magic based Dragonborn. Ironic, considering how most Nords nowadays are very wary of magic.
- Token Minority: If you play as a non-Nord Dragonborn who joins the Stormcloaks.
- Also the case if joining the Companions with a non-Nord Dragonborn.
- Took a Level in Badass: You start off as a unlucky prisoner who crossed the border at a bad time, then almost got beheaded. The rest of the game sees you becoming the Dragonborn to save the world.
- Tribal Facepaint: Should you choose.
- Try to Fit That on a Business Card: First, take a deep breath. Ready? Here we go. Over the course of the game, you may become: The Last Dragonborn, Dragon of the North, Thane of Whiterun, Thane of Windhelm, Thane of Morthal, Thane of Markarth, Thane of Solitude, Thane of Falkreath, Thane of Riften, Thane of Dawnstar, Thane of Winterhold, Archmage of the College of Winterhold, Guildmaster of the Thieves' Guild, Nightingale (also of the Thieves' Guild, and Champion of Nocturnal), Harbinger of the Companions, Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, Lord of Clan Volkihar, Stormblade of the Stormcloaks, Champion of Hermaeus Mora, Champion of Boethiah, Champion of Molag Bal, Member of House Telvanni, Qahnaarin (the Vanquisher), and Chief of the Rieklings of Thirsk Hall.
- True Companions: During his/her time in Cidhna Mine, he/she can say that she/he considers the friends he's/she's made in Skyrim to be the only family he/she needs.
- Uncle Pennybags: No matter how you play, there's a good chance you'll end up with tens of thousands of gold before you know it. Fortunately, there's an almost unlimited amount of moments where you can just throw money at people to help with their problems, especially if you get the 'Investor' perk.
- The Undead: You can become a vampire, if you so choose.
- Unkempt Beauty: It's possible to invoke this by creating a female Dragonborn with messy hair. Given that this takes place in Skyrim, it's rather appropriate.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: For most people, the sight of a Dragon attacking the town would be the stuff of nightmares. For the Dragonborn, it's more of a nuisance than anything else. Back to work.
- Unwitting Pawn: At the end of his Daedric quest and Dragonborn, Hermaeus Mora claims that he's been watching the Dragonborn for some time and subtly grooming them into becoming his champion. Even if you are openly defiant towards him, he tells you that this doesn't change anything and you're already his champion, even if you don't know it yet.
- Warrior Poet: Joining the Bard's College can qualify you. Not that it changes anything.
- Warrior Therapist: Can potentially be one toward Serana in Dawnguard, depending on how you interact with her.
- Weather Controller: The Dragonborn after obtaining the "Clear Skies" and "Storm Call" Shouts.
- What the Hell Are You?: Some of the Whiterun Guards have this reaction upon witnessing the Dragonborn absorbing Mirmulnir's soul and demonstrate the Thu'um, before realising that the individual in front of them must be a Dragonborn.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In Hearthfire, your spouse may express their frustration at being left at home with the children in the wilderness fending off wild animal attacks while you're off adventuring.
- Wild Card: You can tip the balance of power in the Skyrim Civil War, whether for the Legion or Stormcloaks.
- Worthy Opponent: Considered this by many powerful adversaries:
- To Alduin, who eventually concedes that the Dragonborn is the only real threat he's encountered so far.
- Hermaeus Mora directly invokes this if you remain defiant to him throughout all conversations. "You will be a worthy adversary, or (Miraak's) successor, as the tides of fate decree."
- Durnehviir goes so far as to honor-name you Qahnaarin, the Vanquisher for besting him in battle.
- Miraak himself calls you much stronger then he thought possible, and a great many of his lines are compliments to you
- Wrestler in All of Us: Unarmed kill animations include choke slams, suplexes, chokeholds, and in one case an overhead body slam that drops the enemy on their head as of the 1.5 update.
- You Are The Translated Foreign Word: "In their tongue, he is Dovahkiin - Dragonborn!"
- Youngest Child Wins: The Dragonborn is the last in the long line of mortals to be gifted with the Dragonsblood by Akatosh and the subject of an ancient prophecy to defeat Alduin, the firstborn son of Akatosh.
- In Dragonborn, the Dragonborn is sent to defeat Miraak, the first Dragonborn. The latter even lampshades his suspicion that Hermaeus Mora pitted them against each other simply because because he found bookending them amusing.
- Your Soul Is Mine: A rare heroic variation, absorbing the souls of fallen dragons. Can also be done by filling soul gems, which are used to enchant or replenish already enchanted items. The Dawnguard DLC introduces a Dragon Shout that rips souls from enemies, turning them into undead thralls.
Dragons and Dragon Priests
Tropes relating to all Dragons
- Abusive Precursors: The dragons ruled over ancient man in Skyrim and the rest of Tamriel with an iron fist, until they were defeated and Alduin was sent forward in time.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Within each Dragon is the innate desire to dominate and destroy, although their baser insticts can be overcome with a lot of Heroic Willpower. Paarthurnax lampshades that their kinship means that same desires also run in the Dragonborn.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: All in all, the Dragons seem pretty happy at the end of the main quest that Alduin is dead... or whatever he is.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: How dragon hierarchy works. When a scuffle ensues over pecking order position, a dragon either wins the fight, submits, or dies. Alduin's violation of this understood system by fleeing is what engenders doubts of his supremacy after the Dragonborn Shouts him about the head and wings atop the Throat of The World.
- Badass Baritone: All the dragons that you hear talk have deep, booming voices.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Although it should be noted that not all of them are necessarily evil.
- Honor Before Reason: A true dovah that is unwilling to submit will stand and fight, to the death, even against an opponent obviously and overwhelmingly superior. The fact that Alduin flees from a battle with you makes the rest of the dragons question his right to rule.
- I Fight for the Strongest Side: A staple of Dragon culture, Dragons greatly respect strength and those who prove to be a Worthy Opponent. One of their traditions holds that when two Dov greet each other for the first time, they will test the Thu'um on each other, as a means to both demonstrate their power and to size each other up.
- This belief is best shown when Alduin flees battle with the Dragonborn. Afterwards, Odahviing reveals that many Dragons have began openly questioning his right to rule and considering defecting or leaving altogether.
- Immortals Fear Death: The inability of a Dragon to fully comprehend a mortal existence is exactly why Dragonrend is their Kryptonite Factor.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The original wielders of the Thu'um.
- Monogender Monsters: All dragons seen so far are male. Justified, as they have no need or capability to reproduce sexually - according to a Dremora, "they just were, and are". Female dragons do exist if you troll the more obscure lore; the Jills usually spend their, ahem, time maintaining the timestream at their father Akatosh's behest.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: According to the Greybeards and Paarthurnax, many Dragons rebelled against Alduin's plans and fought for humanity during the Dragon War, only to be wiped out afterwards by the Blades.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Their power comes from speaking Words of Power.
- Poirot Speak: Language is very intrinsic to the Dragons, and as such they tend to switch between Tamrielic and Draconic regularly.
- Proud Warrior Race: A lot of them have this attitude. It is the general opinion of the dragons that they must stand and fight no matter how powerful their enemy is, even if that enemy is a foe capable of killing them permanently (i.e. you). The dovah also have a tradition where, upon the first meeting between two dragons, they must use their respective Voices upon one another. To put it in perspective, the dragon equivalent of a handshake is to punch the other guy in the face.
- Rise from Your Grave: The Dragons aren't just coming back. They're coming back to life. That said, a few such as Paarthurnax have managed to survive since Alduin's previous attack, without being resurrected.
- Sympathy for the Devil: It is repeatedly said that many of the Dragons are intelligent, peaceful creatures, if naturally inclined to be destructive and cruel, and want no part of Alduin's plans, except if they openly defy him he'll surely kill them since he is obviously stronger than any of them. Indeed, many times you'll see dragons flying around that are not hostile until you engage them, as a dragon's pride is at stake when it comes to fighting a Dragonborn. Special mention for the trope goes to Durnehviir in the Dawnguard expansion, who yearns to return to Tamriel but has spent so many millennia in the Soul Cairn he can only enjoy the temporary summonings you invoke, and Numinex, the original dragon trapped in Dragonsreach, who Paarthurnax visited and found that Numinex had been trapped so long he couldn't even remember his own name.
- Token Heroic Orc: Paarthurnax and several other Dragons are mentioned as having fought on humanity's side during the Dragon War.
- The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: Whenever a Dragon has the misfortune of encountering the Dragonborn.
"You do not even know our tongue, do you? Such arrogance, to dare take for yourself the name of Dovah!"
The self-proclaimed "Firstborn" of Akatosh, Alduin is the Nordic God of Destruction, World-Eater, Devourer of Souls and Harbinger of the Apocalypse. Having been thrown through time to the Fourth Era, he immediately sets about raising his former army back from the dead to take over the world, leaving it up for the Last Dragonborn to stop him.
- All There in the Manual: His nature, and how it relates to Akatosh, is a bit loopy but it has been talked about in previous games and texts. His role as the Bigger Bad also counts as you can only find it in really obscure texts.
- Always a Bigger Fish: He interrupts your execution at Helgen, accidentally saving you in his efforts to kill you.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He is the leader of the dragons for a very good reason.
- The Battle Didn't Count: All the battles against him until the final one.
- Badass: As an aspect of Akatosh, he is the first true, honest-to-God deity encountered in the Elder Scrolls canon thus far. The only other example seen to date is Mehrunes Daegon, briefly glimpsed in the climax of Oblivion in his full form - who was then subsequently defeated by another aspect of Akatosh, which should give you ample indication of Alduin's power.
I am AL-DU-IN! First born son of Akatosh! Mulagi zuk lat! I cannot be slain here, by you or anyone else!
- Beast Of The Apocalypse: The purpose of his existence is to devour the world at the end of every cycle, so that a new cycle can begin and a new world can be born in its place.
- Because Destiny Says So: Paarthurnax argues this, believing that Alduin is doing what he was created to do. The problem is that he's doing this before he is supposed to. Likewise, while he's meant to cause destruction and The End of the World as We Know It, he seems to want to rule it instead!
- Played straight at least in regards to the Prophecy of the Dragonborn. Because all of the signs have come true in previous games, it's apparent that Alduin was meant to appear during the Fourth Era and do battle with the Dragonborn.
- Hell, even the Greybeards wonder aloud whether or not killing him is the right thing to do. Given Alduin is an indispensable mechanism integral to the turning of creation, it's almost guaranteed his death won't stick and he'll just come back at another appointed time. The game even suggests that this is the reason the Dragonborn couldn't absorb his soul after defeating him, instead causing it to return to Oblivion and await for the actual end of the world to occur naturally.
- Big Bad: For the main campaign.
- Bigger Bad: In Battlespire and Oblivion, though we only find this out after reading a very obscure text, which reveals that Alduin was responsible for the corruption of Mehrunes Dagon. That's right, the Oblivion Crisis and most of the following fallout was indirectly his doing.
- Blue and Orange Morality: It is repeatedly stated that Alduin is destined to destroy the world so that it can be reborn, and so there are some (like the Greybeards) who don't automatically accept that stopping him is a good thing. In fact, one of the replies you can give to such a question can be summed up as "I like the world the way it is," rather than a more impartial argument on whether it is right to avert the apocalypse.
- That said, for a mortal, Paarthurnax admits that 'I like this world' is as good a reason as any for wanting to stop him.
- Catchphrase: He seems to be rather fond of expressing his enmity with someone by saying "My teeth to (person who earned his ire)'s neck".
- Cain and Abel: The Cain to Paarthurnax's Abel.
- Combat Compliment: After you beat him at the Throat of the World, he admits that you have become extremely powerful.
- Complete Immortality: Played with. You kill him in Sovngarde, sort of, but you can't absorb his soul, strongly implying that he will return in the future and cannot truly be killed.
- Dirty Coward: The moment he runs away from you with his tail between his legs is the moment the other dragons realize he doesn't deserve to lead. A true dovah would fight to the end or submit to their better.
- Dark Is Evil: He's the only Dragon in the vanilla game who's completely black.
- The Dreaded: "Even the Daedra fear me!"
- Eldritch Abomination: Not in appearance, but in terms of being an inconceivably ancient and eternal entity who is arguably beyond human rationality and ethics (see Blue and Orange Morality above), Alduin fits the criteria quite neatly.
- The End of the World as We Know It: A very literal case of this trope, because it is repeatedly stated that Alduin the World-Eater is not going to erase all of Creation from existence; he is "merely" going to destroy the current incarnation so that a new one can take its place. Consequently, some characters (like the Greybeards) question whether stopping him is actually the right thing to do. (Again, see Blue and Orange Morality above.)
- Eternal Recurrence: Alduin was created to destroy the world, so the next can come. Then destroy that one for the next. This is why he cannot have his soul absorbed.
- Evil Overlord: Of dragons, and by extension the Dragon Priests.
- Foil: To the Dragonborn. The Dragonborn is an (eventually) immensely powerful mortal that eats the souls of dragons. Alduin is an immensely powerful dragon that eats the souls of mortals.
- Alduin was the first Dragon in existence, while you are the last Dragonborn in existence. Both are said to have been created by Akatosh.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Much like most of the dragons.
- Fantastic Racism: Towards mortals in general, and you in particular because you're not a true Dragon.
- Get Back Here Boss: This is a plot point! And in more than one sense; he also retreats to Sovngarde to feast upon the souls there and thus regain his strength.
- God Is Evil: In past games Alduin was described as the Nordic aspect of Akatosh in his role as both creator and destroyer of time. In the game itself, both Alduin and Paarthurnax say that he is the firstborn son of Akatosh. Of course, being Akatosh's firstborn son does not contradict him being an aspect; it's more like an outright confirmation of it.
- Guttural Growler: It adds to the effect of his deep voice.
- Honor Before Reason: See "Pride" below. It seems to be shared by all dragons.
- Hypocrite: Calls the Dovahkiin "arrogant" for assuming the title of "Dovah", when he himself is essentially the personification of draconic arrogance.
- I Am X, Son of Y: I AM ALDUIN! FIRST BORN SON OF AKATOSH!
- Jerkass: Whether or not he's evil, whether or not he's right, it's hard to deny that Alduin is an asshole.
- Kryptonite Factor: Dragonrend. Unless under its effects, he is literally invincible.
- Large Ham: Even for a dragon, Alduin sure loves the sound of his own voice.
"My belly is full of the souls of your fellow mortals, Dovahkiin!"
- Make Me Wanna Shout: He possesses the Thu'um like all dragons.
- Meaningful Name/Names to Run Away From Really Fast: His name means "Destroyer Devour Master." He is also known as the "World Eater."
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If he hadn't interrupted your execution, he almost certainly would have succeeded.
- No True Dovah: Berates the Dragonborn for having the sheer audacity to take for themselves the name of "Dovah", apparently seeing them as little more than an abomination or pale imitation. At one point, he mocks the Dragonborn in their language, before getting even more offended when he realises they don't even understand it!
- Gets this the other way when most of the other dragons consider him fleeing from the Dragonborn rather than submitting or dying makes him no true Dovah.
- Obviously Evil: He's a dark dragon who wants to eat the world, with glowing red eyes. Averted, however, in that his ultimate function is a necessary one and he operates on a level beyond crude, mortal ethics.
- Omnicidal Maniac: He's called "The World Eater" for a reason. Though depending on your interpretation of the mythology behind him, he may or not fit the 'maniac' part of this trope as his destroying the world is actually a regulated process.
- Orcus on His Throne: Subverted. He's meant to be doing this, waiting until it's right time for him to destroy the world as he is foretold to do, but unfortunately Alduin decided to jump the gun back in the Merethic Era. Upon finding himself thrown forward through time to the Fourth Era, he didn't let it deter him and got right back to it, starting with Helgen.
- Pride: His dominant flaw is his arrogant security in his own power. For his first defeat, the ancient Nord heroes spoke his name with the Thu'um, which in dragon language is basically a challenge, and upon his arrival they hit him with Dragonrend. Mere days (from his perspective) after this occurs, he falls for exactly the same trick and the Dovahkiin hits him with Dragonrend again. After this confrontation Alduin retreats to Sovngarde to recover strength - which makes the rest of the dragons question his leadership and leads directly to his second, and far more comprehensive, defeat.
- Physical God: As the strongest and firstborn of the dovah, he has access to powerful Shouts that no other dragon can use, and is literally invincible unless he gets hit by Dragonrend.
- Planet Eater: He's named "The World Eater" for a reason.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: In fact, he's one of the few dragons to have them.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: He wasn't actually defeated in the past, merely banished to another time... namely, now. It's implied that this may be all that you accomplish in slaying his body, as you do not absorb his soul and spiritual beings can reform over time. Albeit a very long time.
- This makes sense actually, as if he is destined to destroy the world to let it be reborn (see Eternal Recurrence above) but is simply doing it too soon or too late (see Because Destiny Says So above), it's only logical that he can't be destroyed, only delayed until the time is right. This also calls into question whether he can truly be called "evil" (see Blue and Orange Morality).
- Spanner in the Works: For General Tullius, who managed to capture Ulfric Stormcloak, the leader of the Nordic rebellion that had almost managed to rout the Empire completely from Skyrim before Tullius arrived to head the Legion forces there. Had Alduin not shown up when he had, it's likely the Empire would have won the Civil War before the game really started in earnest.
- Spikes of Villainy: All the dragons are pretty spiky, but Alduin is especially so.
- A Storm Is Coming: Invoked by Alduin himself. Amongst the many, many powers that Dragon Shouts have is the ability to summon storms, ominous clouds, and fog. Alduin does so several times throughout the story.
- Trash Talk: When he's not making badass boasts, he's outright mocking you.
- Villainous Breakdown/This Cannot Be!: When you defeat him in Sovngarde. In fact his exact words (which he screams in his highest ever pitched voice) are:
Zu'u unslaad! Zu'u nis oblaan!
- Villainous Rescue: Unintentionally saves the Dragonborn from being beheaded at the start of the game.
- We Can Rule Together: Sort of. In Sovngarde, he compliments your persistence and mentions that you would have been an excellent slave. For someone whose fundamental nature is to dominate, that is probably as close as he can come to this trope.
- Worthy Opponent: When he realises he can't make the Dragonborn a slave, he basically concedes that he sees the Dragonborn as the only real threat he's encountered so far.
- Your Soul Is Mine: As firstborn of Akatosh, Alduin has the "right" to consume the souls of the fallen warriors in Sovngarde to replenish his strength. When he is defeated the first time by Paarthurnax and the Dragonborn, he retreats to Sovngarde to feed on the fallen and regain strength. Of course, Shor is displeased with this, and while he won't directly intervene, he does dispatch the old heroes of Skyrim to assist the Dragonborn in putting a stop to it.
"What is better? To be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?"
An ancient dragon who turned against Alduin and aids the Dovahkiin.
"As for myself, you've proven your mastery twice over. Thuri, Dovahkiin. I gladly acknowledge the power of your Thu'um."
Alduin's right-hand dragon. He ultimately changes sides and helps the Dovahkiin.
- Afraid of Needles: Isn't afraid of taking on the Dragonborn, who fireballs him, shoots arrows into him, repeatedly stabs him, and blasts him in the face with a draconic Brown Note, but he freaks out and spews fire in a panic when Farengar attempts to retrieve some samples of scale and skin tissue.
- Awesome McCoolname: His name means "Snow Hunter Wing" or "Winged Snow Hunter."
- Badass: He's pretty tough as far as dragons go, and when you finally beat Alduin and unlock him as an ally, he'll annihilate entire scores of enemies given the chance.
- Big "NIID!": Once the Dragonsreach trap's yoke slams down on him and entraps him by the neck, he expresses his despair by exclaiming "No!" in Draconic.
- The Dragon: To Alduin.
- Graceful Loser: Once he's yoked into the Dragonsreach trap, he admits it was his own fault for getting into his current predicament, and salutes the Dragonborn for their "low cunning".
- I Fight for the Strongest Side: After you Shout Alduin about the head and wings the first time atop High Hrothgar, Odahviing and other dragons engender doubts about the supremacy of Alduin amongst themselves. Odahviing only helps the player because he wants to know who is more worthy as leader.
- I Gave My Word: Played with. He acts offended when you question if he can be trusted, saying he has done nothing to earn your distrust. The player can point out he just tried to trick you into letting him go without telling you everything about Skuldafn, such as how it can only be reached by flying.
- I Know Your True Name: How he's summoned. It's not so much that he's compelled to, but calling a dragon's true name is tantamount to a challenge, and he's not about to back down when you just fought off Alduin himself. Later, he comes as a matter of respect.
- Poirot Speak: Like Paarthurnax. It seems that Paarthurnax has a better command of the mortals' tongue, because Odie's speech sounds kinda stilted. Of course, Paarthurnax has been interacting with the various Greybeards over the millennia, while Odahviing has been a pile of bones entombed in a dragon burial mound and probably didn't interact with mortals much beyond domination before the Dragon War.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Once you gain his allegiance, you can summon him to fight alongside you by Shouting his name.
The first dragon the Dovahkiin officially takes on in the main storyline. You fight him during the quest "Dragon Rising" at the Western Watchtower near Whiterun.
- Awesome McCoolname: His name means "Allegiance Strong Hunt."
- Big "NIID!": Right before you finish him off.
- Oh Crap: What prompts his Big "NO!" as you kill him, realising too late that he's facing a Dragonborn.
- The Remnant: According to the Atlas of Dragons book, he is one of a very small number of dragons under Alduin's command that survived both the Dragon War and the Akaviri Dragonguard reavings.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: As noted above, he survived the Dragon War and being hunted by both the Akaviri Dragonslayers and the Blades for several millennia... only to be killed by an unwitting Dragonborn and a handful of Whiterun guards.
- Warmup Boss
- Worthy Opponent: Calls out that you and the Whiterun guards are such and make for good sport.
"I am Sahloknir! Hear my Voice and despair!"
Another named dragon, encountered at the end of "A Blade In The Dark."
- Pahlok Thu'um Dovah: Arrogantly declares that the Dragonborn's Voice is no match for his own.
- Awesome McCoolname: His name translates into "Phantom Sky Hunt."
- Badass: Other dragons at least admit that the Dragonborn scares them. Sahloknir isn't scared of you in the slightest.
- Rise from Your Grave: He is the first visible indication that this is what is happening to the rest of the dragons.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Moments after being resurrected by Alduin, he's killed again permanently by the Dragonborn.
- Undying Loyalty: To Alduin.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: If you put off the "Blade In The Dark" quest for long enough, he'll spawn as an Ancient Dragon, with absurdly high stats. Note that he'll spawn as the strongest possible dragon that is allowed by the game to spawn at the current player character's level; as such, he will spawn as a blood dragon at level 14, or and ancient dragon at level 36.
- Worthy Opponent: Considers the Dragonborn one.
The other named dragons that aren't major players in the storyline.
The Dragon Priests
During the Dragons' reign over Mundus in the Merethic Era, they had mortal followers known as the Dragon Cult, lead by powerful mages known as Dragon Priests. Although the Cult itself is long dead, Alduin's return has caused eight of these Dragon Priests to rise from their graves and terrorize Skyrim. Each Priest possesses a mask imbued with powerful magics.
For Miraak, the Dragon Priest who serves as the antagonist for Dragonborn
, see the DLC character page
- And I Must Scream: Otar the Mad has been sealed in a coffin since his death.
- Arch-Enemy: Morokei to Savos Aren.
- Person of Mass Destruction: According to an old legend, Vahlok's fight with Miraak was so destructive that it caused part of Skyrim to break off and become Solstheim.
- Memetic Badass: In-Universe example, Vahlok. Go look at the list of Badass traits Miraak has. Then remember, according to legend, Vahlok is the one who beat him - Miraak only escaped being killed because Herma-Mora snatched him out of Nirn. The Skaal remember him as a heroic figure called "The Guardian" because of it.
- Compelling Voice: Hevnoraak could make anyone do anything he wanted with his Voice.
- The Caligula: They all count to some degree, but Hevnoraak and Rahgot are the most clear examples.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Hevnoraak was very fond of this, especially due to the fact that his Compelling Voice ensured his victims wouldn't resist.
- The Dragon: One could argue that Nahkriin is this to Alduin, as he's the lord of Skuldafin and guards Alduin's portal to Sovngarde.
- Dual Boss: Krosis isn't locked in a dungeon like most Dragon Priest. His coffin is set right in front of a Word Wall guarded by a dragon, and there is zero warning he's there. Even if you know he's there, it's all-too easy to wander too close and trigger him, forcing you to fight both him and the dragon.
- Elite Mooks
- Even Evil Has Standards: Within the Dragon Cult itself, when Rahgot ordered his followers to commit mass suicide including the children, his alchemist Froda argued that it would more honourable to die from the blades of their foes than take the easy way out by drinking poison. Rahgot's response was to grant her request personally.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: Every time Morokei speaks, a wave of chilling air blows through his lair, draining your magicka bar.
- Founder of the Kingdom: The Skaal believe themselves the heirs of the Guardian, the Dragon Priest Vahlok.
- Get Back Here Boss: Somewhat unintentionally with Krosis. Dragon Priests are programmed to retreat from threats while attacking at range with their staffs. In every other instance, the priest is trapped in a room and can only go so far. Krosis is outside and thus can retreat for great distances if he isn't obstructed, plus you're on a cliff which can't be climbed up if he decides to run down it.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Otar's backstory; he used to be a good leader until after a certain victory, when he started hearing voices in his head.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Vahlok is remembered by the Skaal as "The Guardian", a mythical figure who fought Miraak the Traitor for days on end and eventually triumphed, Miraak escaping death only through Herma-Mora's help. Yet he was still a Dragon Priest and therefore a member of the horribly oppressive Dragon Cult.
- MacGuffin Guardian: Morokei holds the Staff of Magnus, the object which you need to defeat Ancano.
- Mask of Power: All of them except Vahlok; the eight in the main game also unlock a ninth.
- Magic Staff: Frequently seen wielding staffs.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Hevnoraak (Brutal), Krosis (Sorrow), Morokei (Glorious), Rahgot (Rage), Nahkriin (Vengeance), Volsung (Horror/Air Horror), Vokun (Shadow), and Konahrik (Warlord).
- And in the Dragonborn DLC there are Dukaan (Dishonor), Ahzidal (Bitter Destroyer), Vahlok (Guardian), and Zahkriisos (Bloody Sword). The only exception is, ironically, the Big Bad Miraak (Allegiance Guide).
- Our Liches Are Different: In fact, they're different even from the series' standard liches in that they don't make use of phylacteries.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Hevnoraak, Otar the Mad, and Morokei. Otar doubly so, since they not only entombed him but then put extra locks on the tomb to make sure he wouldn't be crawling out of it without help.
- Sealed Evil in a Duel: Morokei, who was sealed by Savos Aren in a duel with the ghosts of two of his colleagues, whom Aren killed, resurrected, and enthralled to keep Morokei from wreaking havoc on Skyrim.
- Sinister Minister: Their cruelty soon rivaled that of the dragons. Some of the descriptions of the Dragon War and preceding times suggests the cruelty of the Tamrielic Dragon Cults were worse than that of the dragons themselves.
- Sixth Ranger: Dragonborn introduces three new Dragon Priests aside from the main antagonist - Ahzidal, Dukaan, and Zahkriisos. They live in Solstheim, not Skyrim, and their masks have entirely different appearances from the base eight, as well as having a specific Fire, Ice, Lightning between the three of them.
- The Unfought: Collecting all eight Dragon Priest masks and placing them on a shrine deep in Labyrinthian unlocks a ninth mask, Konahrik. One of its effects is to summon a dragon priest as an ally, possibly Konahrik himself.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: Not the usual kind, but there is a very high chance that players accidentally stumble upon Krosis at low level and get fireballed to death before they know what they just fought.
- Would Hurt a Child: When Rahgot forced his followers to commit mass suicide, not even the children were spared.
- You Are The Translated Foreign Word: Inverted - Vahlok the Jailor is remembered as "The Guardian" who defeated "The Traitor" (Miraak). Vahlok means "Guardian" in Draconic.
Heroes of Skyrim
Gormlaith, Hakon and Felldir are the ancient Nord heroes who helped to overthrow the dragons in the Dragon War. After Gormlaith was killed, Felldir used the Elder Scroll to banish Alduin.
Voiced by: Lynda Carter
Voiced by: Paul Ganus
Felldir the Old
Voiced by: Thor Edgell
Shield-thane of Shor, and guardian of Sovngarde.
A small group of hermits who live in High Hrothgar high atop the Throat of the World. They are human practitioners of the Thu'um, and call the Dragonborn to test their abilities and teach them to hone their skills. To the Greybeards, practicing the Thu'um is a form of worship to honor the gods (particularly Kynareth and Akatosh, who gave the gift of dragon blood to humans), but they also consider it a responsibility and honor to train the Dragonborn.
- All-Powerful Bystander: Despite being very powerful with the Voice, they refuse to take part in the conflicts of Skyrim, and while they eventually help the Dragonborn hold peace negotiations for a temporary truce to the war, they do it with gritted teeth.
- If questioned about their neutrality, Arngeir will explain that Jurgen Windcaller, original founder of their order, suffered a terrible defeat in battle despite his mastery of the Thu'um. Upon meditating on why this happened, he came to the conclusion that he had misused the power of the Thu'um, which should only be used to glorify and honor the Nordic gods. The Greybeards follow his "Way of the Voice" philosophy to distance themselves from the rest of the world in meditative seclusion.
- In addition, contrary to what Delphine claims, Arngeir implicitly encourages the Dovahkiin to act against Alduin; his logic is that the Way of the Voice applies to the Greybeards, because their power was granted by Kynareth and they have chosen to undergo intense study to refine it, but the Dovahkiin was made by Akatosh and was likely made for a specific duty which he or she must fulfill. He suggests that rather than follow their teachings, as long as the Dragonborn uses the Voice for selfless reasons and to honour the Gods, they will remain true to the Way.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: In his youth, Ulfric Stormcloak was one of the rare individuals permitted to study at their monastery and learn to use the Thu'um, even intending to become a Greybeard himself, but left to fight the War when he grew frustrated with the Greybeard's insistence on remaining neutral. While they understood his reasons for leaving their order at the time, they were not happy to learn years later of his flagrant misuse of the Voice, during the duel in which he killed High King Torygg.
- Badass: They can and will utterly flatten anything that directly attacks them. One effective technique to bypass the ice troll on the way up the mountain is to simply run past it and go straight into High Hrothgar, and let the Greybeards splatter it. In the unlikely event that a hostile dragon appears over High Hrothgar, they can kill it in seconds.
- Badass Beard: Justified out of sheer practicality, since they live atop a very tall, windy, snow-covered mountain..
- Badass Grandpa: Due to it taking a lifetime to master the Thu'um, all Greybeards shown in the game are old men. It is however mentioned that training begins at a very young age, such as Ulfric Stormcloak being one of those chosen he was a boy.
- Badass Longrobe: The Greybeard's robes are unique amongst the various other magic practitioners in the game.
- Handicapped Badass: Their voices are so powerful that each Greybeard must take a vow of silence so not as to destroy half their temple by uttering the wrong word by accident. While they're not physically handicapped, they're all essentially mutes until they need to fight. Among the four, only Arngeir ever speaks; being one of the highest leveled characters in the game, and well above his companions, this hints at his mastery of the Voice.
- Barefisted Monk: The Greybeards don't carry physical weaponry (their Shouts are usually more than enough to wipe out anything that threatens them) but in the unlikely event that something survives their voices, they will pummel it to death in short order with bare hands augmented by Elemental Fury.
- Cool Old Guy: Due to pacifism and self-reflection being at the core of their philosophy, they are naturally one of the most affable factions in the game. They only truly become angry if the Dragonborn decides to slay Paarthurnax.
- Elemental Powers: If you try to take them on in battle, they're fond of Frost Breath, Fire Breath, Ice Form and Elemental Fury.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: It's debatable as to whether or not this is deliberate, but the concept of a reclusive and secretive monastic society living in seclusion on the top of a high snowy mountain from a young age and possessing mystical powers obtained from years of meditation recalls Tibetan Buddhist monks and the mysticism surrounding them.
- Foil: To the Blades, and the reason the two groups don't get along. The Greybeards prefer to study and meditate on the dragons and consider the Blades violent meddlers in things they don't understand for how they wantonly pursue all dragons for death. The Blades on the other hand (or at least, Delphine) consider the Greybeards cowards afraid of their own power which could be put to use making a difference in the world rather than living in seclusion never using it.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: As master practitoners of The Thu'um this is to be expected. The distant thunderclaps and frequently storms around the peak of the Throat of the World aren't natural weather, but the Greybeards practicing. When they summon the Dragonborn for training, the strength of their Voice shakes all of Skyrim itself.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: They don't approve of everything the Dragonborn does, but they inevitably support them because Paathurnax has seen fit to do so and they follow his wisdom.
- Power Echoes: Their Voices are so powerful that they hardly ever speak. However, if you speak to them yourself, they will greet you with a whispered "Dovahkiin." The resulting echo from their Voices causes the entire mountain to shake. When they first summon you from the world to High Hrothgar, the might of their collective voices reverberating through Tamriel causes the whole of Skyrim to shudder.
- The Obi-Wan: The Greybeard Order was founded to safeguard the knowledge of the Thu'um for mankind. For this reason, whenever a Dragonborn emerges in the world, they summon them for training at High Hrothgar.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Sensing the death of Milmurnir as proof of the return of the Dragonborn, the Greybeards proceed to summon the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar for training. The summons itself is so powerful, the ground literally shakes and it's implied that it was heard across all of Skyrim.
- Wizard Beard: They typically wear these, which double as a Badass Beard.
- You Are Not Ready: They could teach you a lot more Words of Power than they do, along with a lot of other knowledge about dragons, but feel the Dragonborn needs to learn such things on their own in their own time. Arngeir makes it clear that the Greybeards feel that the process of seeking out and acquiring Words of Power will present the Dragonborn with the training and experience to use the Thu'um with respect and responsibility. They'll point you in the right direction if you ask, but nothing beyond that.
"We have heard a whisper of a word... Give me your map, and I'll show you where its echo can be found."
The only member of the Greybeards who communicates normally, as the Voices of his fellows are too powerful; a word out of place from them could rip you apart.
- Badass Grandpa: Console commands show him to be level 150.
- Berserk Button:
- When the player mentions that they have been in contact with the Blades, Arngeir refuses to help any more "until you have returned to the path of wisdom". Even though he relents and apologises when one of the other Greybeards reminds him that they are not meant to make judgments of that sort, it is clear that he really dislikes the Blades. Turns out he has good reason for that...
- He has a second, but less overt one: Dragonrend. When you ask him about it, he immediately responds with a flat, disapproving demand to know who told you about that shout, and refuses to tell you anything about the Shout at first because Dragonrend is based entirely around hatred for all of dragonkind.
- Irony: He points it out during the negotiations for a peace treaty - how men of war and violence (Tullius and Ulfric) are now being called to High Hrothgar: a sacred place whose very stones are dedicated to peace and tranquility.
- The Mentor: To you, the Dragonborn. Likely the best example in the game if you don't kill Paarthunax, where he even gives the ending speech of the main quest.
- Voice For The Voiceless: He speaks for the rest of the Greybeards because he's the only one of them with enough control of the Thu'um to speak without killing a normal person.
- What the Hell, Hero?: After Arngeir threatens to withhold aid for the Dragonborn simply for being in contact with the Blades, Einarth angrily rebukes him for making decisions without consulting his fellow Greybeards, as well as standing in the way of the Dragonborn's destiny.
Paarthurnax See above in the "Dragons" section for the full list for Paarthurnax.
Einarth, Borri, and Wulfgar
The other members of the Greybeards, they usually don't speak because of their otherwise destructive Voices.
- He Who Must Not Be Heard:
- They try to speak as little as possible. For example, the initiation ceremony with all four Greybeards speaking at once is implied to be incredibly dangerous, taxing the Dovahkiin. And every time they greet you with a simple "Dovahkiin" the temple can be heard shaking. More specifically, they just whisper the word when greeting you and it still sounds like half the temple's gonna come crashing down at any moment. When Einarth reproaches Arngeir for withholding aid after you reveal you've associated with the Blades, the entire temple shakes during the duration of his admonishment.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Einarth's breaking his normal silence to angrily rebuke Arngeir for forgetting his duty to guide the Dragonborn.
An order of monastic warriors who can trace their origins to the Akaviri invaders in the latter part of the First Era who eventually bent knee to the dragonborn known as Reman Cyrodiil. Originally an order of dragon hunters, the Blades are sworn to find, and then "guide and guard" any Dragonborn on the mundus. The Dragonborn eventually known as Tiber Septim repurposed them into a combination of a spy agency and a royal bodyguard cadre when he became emperor of the first truly pan-Tamrielic empire. After the passing of the Septim dynasty, they returned to seeking the next Dragonborn, but still rendered spy services to the Empire. They deemed the Thalmor to be the biggest threat, but still vastly underestimated how dire a threat the Thalmor are. As a result, they were decimated by Thalmor hit squads preceding and during the Great War, and one of the terms of the White-Gold Concordat is the disbanding of the organization. Despite these hardships, a few Blades remain faithful to the cause.
- Katanas Are Just Better: As their origins are traced to the Akaviri Dragonguard, their symbol of membership is an Akaviri-style katana.
- Loophole Abuse: The reformation of the Blades if the Stormcloaks wins the Civil War, since the terms for the White-Gold Concordat specify that the Blades must dissolve within the Empire. Due to Skyrim ceding from the Empire, this means they no longer have to follow the terms of the treaty, while the Empire and Aldmeri Dominion lose jurisdiction to enforce it.
- Meaningful Name: The Sleeping Giant Inn's name becomes very fitting due to being one of the hideouts.
- Praetorian Guard: This was one of their purposes after Tiber Septim enlisted them.
- The Remnant: They've been utterly smashed by the Thalmor before and during the Great War. The declaration of war by the Thalmor involved presenting Emperor Mede with the severed heads of all Blades operatives within the Aldmeri Dominion's territory, and their numbers went downhill from there. Cloud Ruler Temple got sacked (but not after the Blades destroyed as much as they could to deny the Thalmor intel), and the Blades are now outlawed by the White-Gold Concordat. Nevertheless, a few Blades keep on fighting.
- The Order: Were this for centuries, until they were forced to dissolve and go into hiding after the Great War.
- Order Reborn: The Dragonborn helps to reestablish the order in Skyrim, since combating the reemergence of the Dragons takes priority over adhering to the terms of the White-Gold Concordat. That it's also a giant Screw You, Elves! to the Thalmor is merely a bonus.
- The Spymaster: The other duty that the Blades carried out for the Emperor.
- Trigger Happy: The Blades are accused of this by Arngeir, who believes they've let blind hatred allow them to commit near-genocide against the species, despite the reality being that some Dragons are non-hostile or even fought on humanity's side during the Dragon War.
- Who Needs Enemies?: Despite having sworn an oath to serve the Dragonborn and being meant to aid them in hunting the returning Dragons, in practice, the Blades treat the Dragonborn more as an indentured servant and later can refuse any further help unless they agree to kill Paarthurnax.
- Badass: He's a powerful mage, able to cast protective cloaks on himself, throwing fireballs at enemies, and he can summon atronachs.
- Badass Beard
- Badass Bookworm: He's spent a long time studying the prophecies of Alduin and the Dragonborn.
- Badass Grandpa: According to the Thalmor's research on him, he's over 70 years old. He's still very badass.
- Bald of Awesome
- Cloudcuckoolander: He's quite eccentric, especially when you first meet him.
- The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right: As Delphine lampshades, turns out all of Esbern's fanaticism over the prophecy of Alduin and the Dragonborn and the end of the world was spot-on. Esbern's attitude when you meet him and tell him what's going on is likewise "I knew it, I've said it for years!"
- Cool Old Guy
- Crazy-Prepared: As the Blades' archivist, he used to be obsessed with studying the original Dragonslaying campaigns for which the Blades were created. Since the dragons were all dead (or believed to be myth in the first place), everybody though he was just some eccentric old fool. Then guess what happens...
- Dreaming of Things to Come: "I used to dream of it. In the dream I was standing someplace high up, a tower, or a mountain. It was always just before dawn. The whole world was in darkness. Then came the flash of light just on the horizon within the clouds that marked the border between worlds. It could have been lightning but there was no thunder. In the dream, the sense of foreboding grew. But, I could never wake up. Then, it came again, this time more distinct, closer, definitely not lightning now it was orange, brilliant orange, the color of hearth and dawn. And a sound too, distinct and indistinct, not thunder but something else, something uh, I should recognize but in the dream I cannot place it. I want to leave my high place to seek shelter. From what, uh, I don't yet know. In the manner of dreams I cannot escape. I'm forced to wait and watch. Then, finally, realization and horror arrive together. The orange is flame, heat. The sound, a roar, a challenge in their ancient tongue. And now it's too late for escape. The dragon's upon me, fire and darkness descending like a thunderbolt. And not just any dragon, but the dragon, Alduin, the World-Eater! The dragon who devours both the living and the dead! And then, I would wake up and hope that it was just a dream but know that it was not."
- Eccentric Mentor: He's just a little off-kilter...
- Genre Savvy
- Guest Star Party Member: Once you find him he follows you until you meet up with Delphine, acting as an honorary second follower. Feel free to take your time getting to Riverwood, he's no slouch in battle and is marked as essential so he can't die.
- Last of His Kind: One of the last members of the Blades.
- Non-Action Guy: Despite his powerful magic, according to the Thalmor dossier he was not a field agent when the Blades were active. Instead he was in charge of planning and coordinating things from the behind the scenes, and was evidently good at it.
- Playing with Fire: His offense consists of Fireball, Firebolt, and Flame Cloak.
- Properly Paranoid: First met in Riften's Ratway, hiding among beggars and madmen behind a heavy iron door with roughly half a dozen locks (and he'll open a sliding panel and shout at you in his best "crazy old man" voice if you try to speak to him before the quest demands it). Not two minutes after the Dovahkiin confirms his identity, the Thalmor arrive to have him killed, and up to two citizens casually wandering Riften reveal themselves as Thalmor spies when you leave the city.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Delphine's Red. While Esbern is presented at first as a Cloudcuckoolander conspiracy theorist, once things get going he's far more calm and intellectual, not to mention respectful of the Greybeards, while Delphine is more of an outright Jerkass to both the Dragonborn and the Greybeards, and is less interested in the knowledge of the dragons than she is in killing them.
- He's also got a bit more rational and reasonable stance towards killing Paarthurnax, while Delphine is emotional and cruel about it. To Delphine, it's just about another dragon whose time to die has come, and she sees the player as going soft for not doing it. Esbern, however, acknowledges that Paarthurnax has reformed and has been of aid to mankind, but his good deeds do not excuse the evil ones he did in the past and so appropriate justice is still due, and it's his oath as a Blade that has him, somewhat reluctantly, deny the player aid in the meantime.
- Summon Magic: He can summon all three types of elemental atronach.
- Sword and Sorcerer: The Sorcerer to Delphine's Sword.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Tullius and Ulfric during the peace treaty negotiations, telling them that while they're busy arguing over the terms of a temporary truce, Alduin is in Sovngarde, growing stronger by devouring the souls of the men they've slain in the war, and they're being petty for not seeing the threat greater than either of them and not putting aside their differences to try and stop it.
- Warrior Poet: His room is filled with books, he admires ancient art and architecture so much he almost has to be dragged away from it (and can identify the technique and period), and he's completely dismayed when he discovers neither you nor anyone else knows much about dragon lore. He's still a member of a clan of dragon hunters who can more than defend himself when enemies arrive.
Voiced by: Joan Allen
- Action Girl: She has killed entire teams of Thalmor assassins by herself.
- Chekhov's Gunman: She's very possibly one of the first NPCs you'll meet in the game since she lives in Riverwood, the first town you visit. Only later do you realize that she's more than the local innkeeper.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Believes the Thalmor are behind everything, including the dragons' return. A mission to their embassy indicates they know nothing.
- She also follows Esbern's lead in thinking Paarthurnax is evil and absolutely must die. She is a bit more a jerkass about it, to the point of threatening to violate her oaths to the Blades if the Dovahkiin doesn't kill Paarthurnax.
- Note that according to the Atlas of Dragons, the Blades have known Paarthurnax was on the Throat of the World, "under the protection of the Greybeards," for centuries. The Blades as a whole have been waiting for an opportunity to "exact justice" on him for a long time.
- Cool Old Lady: It's not apparent at first, but she's in her late fifties. And still kicks plenty of ass.
- Dual Wielding: Blades Swords
- Expecting Someone Taller: You can tell her that you were after meeting her in the basement of The Sleeping Giant Inn.
- Genre Savvy: Once word of a Dragonborn being awakened gets out, she heads to the Tomb of Jurgen Windcaller to leave a note for you to meet her, because she knows that the Greybeards will summon the Dragonborn and send him to the tomb as a trial. She's also been watching the attack patterns of dragons and is able to correctly predict where the next one will show up.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: While she's absolutely correct in claiming that the dragons attacking Skyrim and the first one appearing just in time to stop Ulfric from being executed, all benefits the Thalmor, she's wrong in suspecting they're behind their return. After finding out that the Thalmor suspected the same thing from the Blades, she muses that they've been fighting so long they've become both as paranoid as each other.
- Jerkass: She's rather rude and demanding, especially on your first meeting. She tricks you into a meeting and demands a demonstration to verify the Dragonborn's identity, but without giving you a reason why she should be indulged. If you decide to simply ignore her and leave, she'll mention she should kill you, but decided she won't. Justified, as she doesn't trust you and has the Thalmor after her head every sleeping and waking moment. Granted, she comes across as more friendly and humble if you talk to her about her background after proving your status as the Dragonborn, and isn't nearly as bad as, say, Colonel Moore.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Slips into this at the end of the main quest, when Esbern says she's been worried about you since they heard you flew out of Whiterun on the back of the dragon. She's relieved to see you safe and happy to hear Alduin has been defeated. Still that little issue with Paarthurnax holding her back, though.
- Properly Paranoid: The Thalmor have free reign over pretty much all of Tamriel, meaning the Blades are all hunted. Her dossier pretty much indicates that the only chance the Thalmor have in killing her is overwhelming force, she's just that good.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Esbern's Blue. While Esbern is presented at first as a Cloudcuckoolander conspiracy theorist, once things get going he's far more calm and intellectual, not to mention respectful of the Greybeards, while Delphine is more of an outright Jerkass to both the Dragonborn and the Greybeards, and is less interested in the knowledge of the dragons than she is in killing them.
- Sword and Sorcerer: The Sword to Esbern's Sorcerer.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Even after everything you do for her, which includes helping her slay a dragon, spying on the Thalmor, rescuing her associate, opening up the Blades' old base of operations, and bringing new recruits to the order, she'll refuse to have any more dealings with you should you not kill Paarthurnax.
- Denies this post-main quest, though. She claims that she is certainly not ungrateful for all you've done for them and the world by defeating Alduin, but she must keep to her oath as a Blade and so still must deny you aid until you kill Paarthurnax.
- A mix between this and Revenge Before Reason is her insistence that Paarthurnax must be killed, even though Paarthurnax is the sole reason that humanity is not still enslaved by the dragons. He's also spent the last few thousand years peacefully meditating on a mountaintop, teaching the Greybeards how to use the Voice, and waiting for Alduin to show up so that he can help defeat Alduin again. Once the Dragonborn bests Alduin, Paarthurnax even vows to do his utmost to teach his fellow dragons how to coexist peacefully with other races. Doesn't matter. Paarthurnax is a dragon, therefore he must die.
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Unlike Esbern, who at least acknowledges what Paarthurnax has done for mortals, Delphine's only real reason for wanting Paarthurnax dead is because he's a dragon, though she tries to justify it through his past crimes and argues that he could always go bad again.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: More or less says this is the case for Paarthurnax.