Black Soul Gems or Illegal souls gems[1] are soul gems that can contain the souls of "higher" creatures, such as men or mer.[2] They are associated with the art of necromancy, and the God of Worms, Mannimarco, who also has the power to transform white soul gems into black.[3]

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Black Soul Gems were developed either during or at some time close to the Interregnum,[4] through a ritual known as the Shade of the Revenant, in which Great or Grand Soul Gems are offered to Mannimarco.[3] Black Soul Gems can also be created using lightning attractors in the Soul Cairn, although the precise mechanism for the gem's transformation is unknown in this case.[5]


Black soul gems can be used to trap the souls of sentient beings, which circumvents the law of Arkay.[6] It appears that souls trapped using Black Soul Gems are held in Oblivion,[7] in a realm known as the Soul Cairn.[8] While the gem holding their soul is intact, those spirits cannot technically die.[7]

Black soul gems also appear to be "hungry" in a way that white soul gems are not; they are noted to potentially absorb parts of a handler's soul if they do not contain a soul of precisely the right size within them.[2]


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