Elder Scrolls Lore Series: Chapter 1 – The Daedra and Daedric Princes

In the first chapter of our Elder Scrolls Lore series I wanted to give an overview of all the Daedric Princes.  Like the Aedra, the Daedra have great influence over the realm of Mundus, and as we cover the epic saga I figured a working knowledge of these deities will be imperative if one is to truly grasp the whole story.

script

We learned previously that Tamriel did not come about on it’s own, but rather was created by divine beings.  It was the Aedra that gave themselves in the creation of Tamriel and Mundus, giving up part of their power to become the bones of Nirn.  On the other hand, we have the Divine beings that did not want any part in the creation of us mortals.  The elves gave them the name of “Daedra”, which translates to mean “not our ancestors”.
The affairs of Men and Elves are constantly being trifle with, and the immortal Daedra are greatly to blame.  The Daedra are the supernatural beings that reside in the plane exsitence known as “Oblivion”.  Daedra have the bad habit of manifesting within our mortal plane of Mundus to cause all sorts of mischief and chaos.
The Daedra come in two main varieties. On one side of the spectrum we see the Lesser Daedra. These Daedra can be summoned by talented sorcerers or encountered serving their respective Daedric Lords.

Elder Scrolls Daedric Art
Daedric Princes, on the other hand, are the most powerful of the Daedra, and thus most commonly worshipped in Tamriel as gods, especially among Dark Elves whose society, culture, and even appearance, has been heavily influenced by these mysterious beings.
Contributing to their air of mystery Daedric Princes have no inherent gender.  Although all are referred to as Princes, Daedric Lords seem to be capable of changing their form at will, a power they love to exercise when fooling us silly mortals.

What makes the races of Man and Elves so nervous about the Daedric Princes is their lack of a mortal sense of “good” and “evil”. There are 17 Daedric Princes known to us on Tamriel, and almost all of them seem to find entertainment and humor in turning us into their little playthings. Dealing with the Daedra, one gets the distinct impression of being mused over. Kind of like a man looking under an upturned rock, wondering at the lives of the bugs wiggling ignorantly in the dirt.
As much as the Daedric Princes like to study us, we like to study them. Throughout Tamriel’s history there have been many who have encountered these supernatural beings, and those who were allowed to live have returned with many stories to tell, and powerful artifacts to abuse.

Azura – Queen of Dawn and Dusk, Mother of the Rose, and Queen of the Night Sky; Azura maintains a constant female image. Her sphere is that of dusk and dawn, the hidden magics in-between the realms of twilight.
Azura’s plane of Oblivion is Moonshadow, where she lives in a rose palace. Legend says that Azura’s realm is blindingly beautiful and colorful, complete with with waterfalls, trees, and a city of silver.
Azura is considered unique among the Daedra, because she is one of the few Daedric Princes who consistently acts on the side of “good”.  It is said that in her dealings, Azura has shown concern for the well-being of her mortal subjects, where in contrast, most of her Daedric brethren seem to view us mortals as mere pawns.
The Daedric artifact bestowed upon Azura’s most faithful is a soul gem that never yields.  Azura’s Star has an almost unlimited capacity for souls making it a highly sought after relic for mages and assassins alike.

m azura star

Boethiah – Prince of Plots, Deceiver of Nations, Queen of Shadows, and Goddess of Destruction; Boethiah is depicted as both male and female.  Her sphere is associated with deceit, conspiracy, secret plots of murder, assassination, treason, and the unlawful overthrow of authority.
The Realm of Boethiah is the realm of Oblivion, created and ruled by, you guessed it, Boethiah. This dark realm consists of stormy skies, volcanic islands and lava seas.
Among most scholars Boethiah is viewed as “evil” in the traditional sense. She is often cited as using her followers for sport and entertainment.  This Daedric Prince delights in death and destruction, and many mortals have suffered because of her influence.  The Dark Elves on the other hand have a different view of Boethiah, but we’ll have to save that study for another time.
There are not one, but three Daedric artifacts associated with this Daedric Prince of Deceit.  The Ebony Mail, Fearstruck, and Goldbrand.  Each powerful in their own right, Boethiah’s artifacts have a knack for finding their way into the hands of mortals in key moments of history.  Like their master, they crave change.

Clavicus Vile – Daedric Prince of Power, Conjuration, Wishes and Bargains. Clavicus Vile is depicted as a small jovial fellow with horns protruding from his forehead, and he is never far from his companion Barbas, who is a shapeshifter usually appearing as a dog.
Clavicus’s plane of Oblivion is an unnamed, tranquil countryside populated by deadly yellow Daedra. When he finds himself in our realm of Mundus, Clavicus Vile seeks out individuals who wish to aquire something and, by summoning him, he gives it to them. Nice fellow you might be thinking. However, he is known to take back his deals at inopportune times giving the summoner more than they bargained for. The mind of a Daedra is unknowable to us mortals, but we assume he does this for his own amusement.  He is simply one of those Daedric Princes that find our mortal behavior amusing.

skyrim art clavicus barbas
The Masque of Clavicus Vile is a helm which makes the wearer more popular wherever he or she might go. The catch. Much like other Daedric artifacts, Clavicus seems to retain ultimate control of it and may recall it back to Oblivion without warning.

Hermaeus Mora – Guardian of the Unseen and Knower of the Unknown, Hermaeus Mora is the Daedric prince whose sphere is the scrying of the tides of Fate, of the past and future. Unlike the other Princes, Hermaeus Mora chooses not to take on a humanoid form.  Rather he appears only as a mass of tentacles and claws or an all-seeing eye.
An endless library of forbidden knowledge, Apocrypha is Hermaeus Mora’s plane of Oblivion. The books found within the library all have black covers with no titles, and the library is haunted by ghosts cursed with a thirst for knowledge they can never satisfy.
Black Books are the Daedric artifacts created by the Daedric Prince of Fate and Knowledge. Each book contains some manner of forbidden knowledge. Upon reading one of Hermaeus Mora’s Black Books the reader is pulled from his mortal body and transported out of Mundus into Apocrypha. Most mortals are driven insane by this process, but those who successfully journey through Apocrypha are rewarded with powerful knowledge.

Hircine – Huntsman and the Father of Manbeasts; Hircine is the Daedric prince whose sphere is the Hunt, the Sport of Daedra, the Great Game, and the Chase. He is typically portrayed as male, with a spear in one hand, and head of a beast in the other.
Hircine is responsible for creating diseases which transform man into beast.  He is father to all werewolves, hunting at night and being hunted by day.
Visitors to Hircine’s plane of Oblivion, the Hunting Grounds, described it as a realm of thick forest and open plains.  If the horn of Hircine is heard there, beware.  Hircine himself has arrived with his hunting pack of werewolves.
Hircine has more than one artifact, but the most notable is the Savior’s Hide which he bestows on only the mightiest of hunters.

Jyggalag – Jyggalag is the Daedric Prince of Order. He is rumored to be one of the most powerful Daedric Princes because he has taken account of every detail of the world and of every action that has ever taken place, past and present. As a result, he views the concept of individuality has an mere illusion.
There came a time when Jyggalag became so powerful that the other Daedric Princes began to fear him, if that’s even possible.  The other Princes cursed Jyggalag in the cruelest of ways.  They transformed him into an illogical, insane, and unorderly madman.  Henceforth, Jyggalag became known as the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath.

Sheogorath – His method – irrelevant – his motives – unknowable.  The Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath is an enigma. His realm, the Shivering Isles, is known as the Madhouse.  It is a place of light and dark, colorful insects and dreary landscapes.  Much like the man himself, those adventurers unlucky enough to find themselves in the Shivering Isles, quickly lose their minds.
It was The Champion that discovered Sheogorath was actually one side of a greater coin. At the end of every Era, Sheogorath would transform back into Jyggalag, and as Jyggalag, he would restore order to the realm of Madness. After that, however, he would be transformed back into Sheogorath, who would spread madness upon the realm once more. The Champion ends this cycle by defeating Jyggalag in one-on-one combat, effectively separating Sheogorath and Jyggalag into two separate Princes.
The most well-known artifact Sheogorath has contributed to the mortal plane is the Wabbajack.  An infamous staff, the Wabbajack can transform a creature into something else entirely.  It’s results like Sheogorath, are unpredictable.

Malacath – Keeper of the Sworn Oath, and the Bloody Curse. Malacath is the Daedric prince whose sphere is the patronage of the spurned and ostracized. He is seen almost as a heretic among the other Daedric Princes. His fabled weapon, Scourge, is cursed and will cast any Daedra that touches it to Oblivion.
Malacath’s story is a long one, and has left scholars with much to debate.  It is widely believed that Malacath was created when Boethiah ate the Altmeri ancestor spirit, Trinimac.  The remains of Trinimac were then transformed into the Daedric Prince we call Malacath.  This lead to the birth of the Orcish race, and as such, many Orcs follow Malacath to this day.  Malacath is considered to be a “good” Daedric Prince, at least among the Orcs because of his reverence for honor and duty.

Mehrunes Dagon – His spheres are destruction, change, revolution, energy, and ambition. Mehrunes Dagon is the foe of all mortal races, and he has attempted to conquer our realm of existence many times in the past. He differs from the other Daedric Princes in that he believes Tamriel is in fact a plane of Oblivion which is his by right.
Dagon’s actual plane of Oblivion is known as Deadlands. As the name suggests, they are barren wastelands, consisting of blackened islands, and seas of lava, much like Boethiah’s realm.
In an event known as the Oblivion Crisis, Dagon’s followers- the Mythic Dawn – attempted to merge the Deadlands and Tamriel into one realm.  They would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling Hero of Kvatch.  Like so many failures before, Mehrunes Dagon was banished back to Oblivion by Akatosh himself.
Dagon has attributed two artifacts to the realm of Mundus.  The first, was an artifact more powerful than any weapon, because it led to the events of the Oblivion Crisis, an unassuming book called the Mysterium Xarxes.  The second artifact is known to us as Mehrunes Razor, a deadly dagger capable of slaying any creature instantly.

Mephala – Webspinner, Spider, and the Anticipation of Vivec. Mephala is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is obscured to us mortals. Just like her nicknames suggest, Mephala appears as either male or female depending on whom she wishes to ensnare. Mephala sees the affairs of mortals as a weave; pull but one thread and the whole thing unravels. Like her other colleagues, she thoroughly enjoys playing with Mundus for her own amusement. Her realm meanwhile remains a complete mystery.
Mephala is thought to have some deep roots in the Dark Brotherhood, by that dear viewer, is a story for another day.
Mephala’s artifact, The Ebony Blade, is indeed as dark and deadly as the mistress who empowers it.  Very time the Ebony Blade strikes an opponent, part of the damage inflicted flows into the wielder as raw power. The Blade itself may not be any more evil than those who have used it, but at some point in its history, a charm was cast on it so it would not remain with anyone bladesman for too long.

Meridia – Prince of Life and Lady of Infinite Energies, Meridia is a Daedric Prince we know very little about except that she is associated with the energies of living things. Yes, she has a great and everlasting hatred for the undead and will greatly reward any who erase them from the world, because of this, most citizens of Tamriel view her as one of the “good” Daedric Princes. If such a thing can be said about Daedric Princes.

skyrim art meridia beacon
Meridia’s artifact, The Ring of the Khajiiti, became famous when it found itself into the hands of an infamous burglar who used its power of invisibility to become the single most successful burglar in Elsweyr’s history. Which among the Khajiit, is certainly saying something.
Meridia’s other known artifact is rightfully called Dawnbreaker, scourge of the undead.  Meridia’s power contributes to the blade by releasing a blast of energy that burns away all undead it touches.

Molag Bal – The King of Rape and Harvester of Souls, Molag Bal is the Daedric Prince whose sphere is the domination and enslavement of mortals. His main desire is to harvest the souls of mortals and to bring them within his sway by spreading seeds of strife and discord in the mortal realms. One legend claims that Molag Bal created the first vampire when he raped a Nedic virgin, which gives him the name “Father of Vampires”.
Molag Bal’s plane of Oblivion is Coldharbour. The book “The Doors of Oblivion” says that his plane resembles a copy of Nirn, including the Imperial Palace, but all is desecrated and in ruin. The ground is sludge, the sky is on fire, and the air is freezing.
The Mace of Molag Bal represents it’s master well by sucking the magical energies away from the victim and giving them to the wielder. The weapon is sometimes even referred to as the “Vampire’s Mace”.
Molag Bal attempts to bring his realm of Coldharbor to the realm of Mundus in the 2nd Era.  Much like Mehrunes Dagon and his Oblivion Gates, Molag Bal tries to use his Dark Anchors to merge Tamriel and Oblivion into one.  Luckily for living things everywhere he fails in his endeavor; even so, he cannot be destroyed, and yet lives on.

Namira – Spirit of Daedra and Lady of Decay, Namira is the Daedric Prince whose sphere is the ancient darkness, often associated with repulsive creatures like spiders, insects, slugs, and beggars. As a matter of speaking, Namira is credited for giving the beggaring gifts of disease, pity and disregard.
Namira’s artifact is the aptly named Ring of Namira, with it the wearer is compelled feast on the dead, growing stronger with each corpse devoured.

Nocturnal – The Night Mistress, the Mistress of Shadows, The Unknowable, Daughter of Twilight, The Mistress of Mystery and The Saint of Suspicion – Nocturnal is known by many names but she has but one sphere of night and darkness. As you’d imagine worshipers of Nocturnal consist primarily of those who operate in darkness and night, such as thieves and spies. Although Nocturnal has arguably one of the largest cult followings of all the Daedric Princes, she has no form of organized clergy. There are few who call themselves priests of Nocturnal, but the Mistress of Shadows seems to ignore them altogether. As a matter of fact, Nocturnal seems to hold worship with little regard.

skyrim art nocturnal
Evergloam is the mysterious realm of Nocturnal, and seems to have some connection with the “luck” that thieves seem to enjoy. Little is known about Evergloam much like its Mistress.
The Night Mistress has two known artifacts that complement their master perfectly. The most infamous artifact is an enchanted cowl that completely hides the wearer’s identity from mortal knowledge. The cowls magic is so powerful that whomever posses it is wiped from the tapestry of life.  Close friends and even spouses can’t recall the person’s name.
The second artifact grants the wielder special power as well as the ability to open any door, physical or otherwise.  The Skeleton Key has found it’s way into many hands throughout history, and it’s impact here on Tamriel is undeniable.

Peryite – Known to some as the Taskmaster, Peryite is the Daedric Prince who sphere is pestilence. It’s pretty ironic that Peryite is often depicted as a dragon-like being considering he is one of the weakest of the Daedric Princes. Albeit, labeling a Daedric Prince as “weak” is pretty laughable. Indirectly, Peryite, has influenced the lives of nearly every mortal inhabitant on Nirn. He is the Lord of Pestilence, and the cause of many plagues and pandemic diseases. He is typically listed along with Princes such as Mehrunes Dagon and Molag Bal as one of the few truly evil Daedric Lords.
Peryite’s artifact is an enchanted shield, the Spellbreaker, which possesses the ability to reflect or absorb incoming magical attacks.

Sanguine – Sanguine is the Daedric Prince of debauchery.  The citizens of Tamriel recognize his domain over the darker natures of man, such as lust, sin, gluttony, and greed. Although a joker in his own right, Sanguine prefers to drag mortals down to sinful lifestyles by means of temptation and humiliation.
Sanguine’s Realms are a collection of one hundred thousand realms of Oblivion, created and ruled over by this Daedric Prince of Indulgence. The realms are used mainly as pleasure pockets and very little is known about them.
Usually after performing some odd task Sanguine will bestow his artifact to his champion.  Sanguine’s Rose is one of the most powerful summoning staves to grace the realm of Mundus, capable of summoning a Dremora to aid the wielder in battle. Like fits of passion, the Rose is only temporary. Each time the Rose is used it wilts a little, and when all the petals fall off, it loses its power. Somewhere in Oblivion a new rose blooms and is plucked by Sanguine to be given to another champion.

Vaermina – Vaermina is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is the realm of dreams and nightmares, and from whose realm evil omens enter the mortal plane. She is seen as one of the “demonic” Daedra, and for good reason.  Vaermina’s plane of Oblivion is called Quagmire, and those poor souls that have caught a glimpse of it describe it as a realm where nightmares are born, and every few minutes reality shifts and it becomes ever more terrifying.
The Skull of Corruption is Vaermina’s signature artifact. It is a staff of dark magic that creates a mirror image of whomever it is cast upon. This image then attacks the victim at the behest of the caster. This isn’t the worst it can do however. Legends holds that the staff has a mind of its own, and can feed on the memories of those around it.

The Daedric Princes have a great foothold in Tamriel, and whether we realize it or not, they’ve shaped our lives in more ways than we know; however, where there is night there is day, where there is darkness there is light.

Take a look behind the scenes with a video by Nick, our honorary Shoddy bro.


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