Skyrim: 15 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About Dragons (2022)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not the first game in the series to have dragons. In fact, one is encountered by the main character of The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard. The dragon, Nafaalilargus, not only talked to you (eat your heart out, Paarthurnax), he also fought you. Of course, with how advanced graphics are nowadays, he certainly does not look like a spring chicken anymore, but at the time, this encounter was exhilarating and likely set the stage for the winged beasts in Skyrim.

The fifth Elder Scrolls game took the fire-breathing dragon from Redguard and evolved it into the realistic beasts we encounter across Tamriel. Now, instead of a solitary dragon, there are many variations, ranging from harmless brown ones to powerful legendary ones. Some are ice types, others use fire-based attacks, and a few, like Alduin, possess a shout unique to themselves.

With so many different types and their long absence from Tamriel, it is only natural that dragons are shrouded in mystery. No one knows when they first appeared. We aren’t even sure if Alduin is the first of their kind. As players pour over the lore, diving into in-game books such as Olaf and the Dragon and Mysterious Akavir, they discover more pieces to this seemingly infinite puzzle. We may never know everything there is to know about Skyrim’s dragons, but we can at least record and share the little knowledge we do have with each other.

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15 Dragons Or Wyverns?

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The dragons of the land of Skyrim are many things—powerful, intelligent, and sublime to name a few. They do all the things that dragons do, such as flying about and breathing fire (or some other elemental attack). However, there is one minor problem with the in-game dragons—they look more like wyverns.

Wyverns are serpentine creatures with barbed tails who fly about, as dragons do, and occasionally breathe fire. They are prominently featured on coats of arms from the 16th century to the present day. In heraldry, the main difference between dragons and wyverns are the number of legs each one has. Wyverns, like the dragons found in Skyrim, have two legs. Their front “legs” are fused to their wings like a bat. However, this is where the comparison ends, as Skyrim’s dragons are larger, stronger, and smarter than wyverns.

Now, which of you wants to tell Todd Howard he got it wrong?

14 No One Knows Where They Came From

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Although it is known that dragons are indigenous to Akavir, a continent to the east of Tamriel, their precise origins are unknown. Sure, Alduin claims to be the first-born of Akatosh, which implies he is the first dragon, but even if he is, where did he come from? Even the dremora, when summoned and questioned by members of the College of Whispers, cannot recall when dragons first appeared. According to them, dragons have always existed; they are immortal, ageless, and eternal.

There are no known examples of dragons breeding. It seems that they just appear full grown, as no eggs or children are ever seen (the dragonlings in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall are said to be unrelated). Pair this with the fact that it is nearly impossible to kill a dragon and it is no wonder they were once worshipped as gods.

13 Dragons Once Ruled Over Men

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During the Merethic Era, Ysgramor and many of his people fled their homeland of Atmora for Tamriel. They brought their faith, which practiced animal worship, with them. Since dragons were the most powerful of all the animals, they eventually came to be worshipped as god-kings by the Atmorans. The dragons felt that their rule was justified because they were obviously more powerful than men, and being powerful means being right.

Of course, although the dragons were destined to rule didn’t mean that they actually wanted to, which is why they gave the Dragon Priests the power of kings. This worked out well in Atmora, but in Tamriel, the Dragon Priests’ rule was strict and resulted in the enslavement of the rest of the populace. The priests were met with rebellion and lost control of their subordinates, resulting in a deadly response from the dragons that kickstarted the Dragon War.

12 The Dragon Language Is Complex

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Much like Star Trek’s Klingon and Tolkien's Elvish, the language of dragons is intricate, as the creatures are quite intelligent. In addition to spoken words, there is also a writing system that appears on words walls and in dungeons that are similar to the cuneiform system of Mesopotamia.

Their alphabet is comprised of 34 symbols. Of the 34, 25 symbols correlate with the letters of the latin alphabet and nine represent letter pairs, such as “AA” or “UR.” Currently, there are over 600 words in the dragon language that use these symbols. Dragon speak is similar to English but with a few notable exceptions: it lacks apostrophes, prepositional phrases appear earlier in sentences, and tense is non-existent. As such there are a few complicated rules to help convey possession, plural words, and perfect verb form.

So, why not learn the language? You might become the mother (or father) of dragons.

11 You Can Save That Dragon Soul For Later

You are just walking along, minding your own business, when the dragon battle music starts blaring out of nowhere, but you don’t see anything. You look around and hear the swoosh of beating wings as the creature lands in front you and the battle begins. Of course, you manage to slay the vile beast, as you possess the Dragonrend shout and a healthy arsenal of spells. Now it is time to collect its soul.

Unfortunately for you, the dragon happened to drop dead a considerable distance from your body. No big deal. You can just run up and absorb it, right? Well, not always. In fact, it is unlikely you will be able to absorb it at all. However, fear not, for you can leave its corpse where it lies and return in a few days to finish the job.

10 You Can’t Use Soul Trap On Dragons

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Everyone knows that when the Dragonborn defeats a dragon that he absorbs its soul. That captured soul remains in their possession until it is used to learn a new shout. So, what if you don’t want to absorb a dragon’s soul? What if you want to use it for something else?

Typically, if you want to capture a soul, you use Soul Trap to store it within a soul gem. The soul gem is then used to enchant weapons and armor or to recharge weapons that are already enchanted. Unfortunately, the Dragonborn is unable to forgo absorbing their souls to trap them instead. Even if a regular person tried to use Soul Trap, they would fail, as dragons will always resist the spell. Their souls are simply too big to capture.

9 The Skull Above The Jarl’s Throne Isn’t For Decoration

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Spend enough time in Whiterun, and you are bound to notice the dragon skull hanging above the Jarl’s throne in Dragonsreach. You might think it makes a great accent piece that ties the room together, evoking a sense of wonder and power. However, that skull is more than mere decoration, and it doesn’t belong to just any old dragon. Oh no, dear reader. For that is the skull of Numinex who was defeated by the Nord hero, King Olaf One-Eye.

Yes, it was by defeating Numinex that King Olaf was able to assume the throne of Skyrim. Dragonsreach was then built to imprison the creature, and that is where it remained until it died. Now his skull hangs over the Jarl of Whiterun, perhaps as a symbol of Nordic pride or to serve as a warning to other dragons.

8 Alduin Has A Nordic Counterpart

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Alduin, the World Eater, is the main antagonist of Skyrim. It is said that he is both the creator and destroyer of worlds. Endings that make way for new beginnings are common in myths and religions from around the world. Destruction is a scary but necessary evil. One such symbol of destruction is found in Norse mythology and is possibly the inspiration for Alduin—Níðhöggur!

Níðhöggur is a dragon who gnaws on the roots of Yggdrasil, the world tree that unifies the nine Nordic realms. Luckily, the tree is able to withstand the damage caused by the dragon. In addition, Níðhöggur also feasts on the dead in the afterlife, just as Alduin does when confronted by the Dragonborn in Sovngarde. Of course, Níðhöggur didn’t try to resurrect an army of dragons, so this is where the parallels end.

7 Mario Is A Dragon?

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Paarthurnax is like your wise old grandfather who survived the war. He is full of great stories and sobering realities that make you a better person for having listened to them. He is easily one of the most interesting and well-rounded characters in the game—and possibly the only true friend or ally the Dragonborn has—much of which is due to his awesome voice actor, Charles Martinet.

If that name sounds familiar, it is because Martinet’s voice has been a constant presence in your life since the 90s. That’s right, he is the voice of Mario (and Luigi, Wario, and more). Yes, the Mario from your favorite pipe-filled platformer. Imagine Paarthurnax greeting you with, “It’s a me, Paarthurnax!” Wow! All of a sudden he doesn’t seem so wise anymore.

6 You Can See Their Remains On The World Map

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If you aren’t playing Skyrim to kill dragons (with the exception of Paarthurnax, of course), then are you really playing at all? There really isn’t any other way to prove yourself as the Dragonborn unless you defeat Alduin, the ultimate threat. The best way to prepare for this predestined battle is to slay every dragon you encounter. The skeletons that you leave behind will serve as a warning to Alduin that you are a force to be reckoned with. But don’t those skeletons disappear after you leave the area? No, they don’t.

In fact, not only do the skeletons remain where they fell, but they can also be seen on the map, leaving behind a visual record of your conquests. It isn’t just their skeletons that can be seen on the map; their burning remains are visible as well if you open the map as you absorb their soul.

5 Dragons Have Special Landing Requirements

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Dragons are a lot like airplanes. They both can fly, transport you from place to place, and, apparently, both need special permission to land. Okay, maybe not “permission,” but they definitely can’t just land anywhere. In fact, in order to land on the ground, they require an ample amount of flat, open space—much like an airplane making contact with a runway.

If a dragon refuses to land, no matter how much you poke and prod it, then try moving to a different area. Instead of standing under a group of trees, head out to an open field. If you are okay with the dragon landing on a building, then you should make your way to the nearest town. Hit it with Dragonrend, and you are good to go.

Happy hunting.

4 Dragon Battles Are Basically Intense Debates

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There is no distinction between words and fighting when dragons speak because their words are used to cast magic spells. We don’t hear it in the game, but when they breathe fire or frost they are actually speaking in their native tongue. It is a good thing they don’t have any children. Just imagine how difficult it would be to raise a rebellious teenage dragon. The debates would be deadly.

In fact, the Dragonborn is also versed in words of power derived from the dragon language. In a sense, when they get into a “shouting” match with a dragon, it is probably more accurate to say that they are in an argument. Without a cool, mysterious, and ancient language to fall back on, shouting would actually be pretty lame.

3 Legendary Dragons Are Stronger Than Alduin

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Alduin may be the World Eater and a symbol of death and destruction, but he certainly isn’t the strongest dragon in the game. It is true that he levels with the player, but even at higher levels, he is still no match for the nameless legendary dragons introduced in Dawnguard. Maybe the legendaries should have been the main antagonists of the game.

Legendary dragons have a whopping 4,163 point of health, which is much more than Alduin’s, even when encountering a level 90 Dragonborn. In addition, they have 150 magicka points, which seems plentiful when compared to Alduin measly 50 points. The shouts and bites of legendaries also deal more damage than the game’s antagonist. The only two things that Alduin has that they don't are a 50% resistance to damage and his unique shout Dragon Storm Call.

2 They Can Destroy Your Quests

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Dragons destroy lots of things such as people, buildings, and lives. Over time, we have come to expect this behavior from dragons, so much so that when we meet a docile, level-headed one, like Paarthurnax, we are taken aback. It is hard to believe that such a hot-headed and malicious creature could actually care about the well-beings of others.

Unfortunately, the majority of dragons simply don’t care and seem to go out of their way to ruin your day. They appear inside of walled cities and kill not only random NPCs but quest-givers, as well. Once a quest-giver is killed, the Dragonborn may no longer be able to access their quest, which is a major disappointment if the rewards were good.

Do yourself a favor, and try to lure dragons away from city walls.

1 Dragons Were Once On The Menu

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Long ago, before dragons appeared in Tamriel, they lived in Akavir, which translates to “Dragon Land.” It is a land overrun with beasts—and without humans and elves. It wasn’t always this way. Men once lived in Akavir, but all were eventually eaten by the serpent people. Once they finished eating all of the men, they set their sights on one of the most powerful creatures in Akavir, the dragons.

However, the dragons would not allow themselves to be taken down so easily. The black dragons fled to Ka Po’ Tun, the nation of cat people. The red dragons were not so lucky and ended up being enslaved by the serpent people. This resulted in a war between the cat and serpent people that left all the dragons dead. This led the ruler of the cat people to turn himself into a dragon, the largest in the world.

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