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"In days of old, when dragons ruled the earth, there lived mortal men who worshipped the beasts as gods. These dragon priests are long since dead... but something has awakened them from their ancient slumber."
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Dragon Priests (Dragon Language: D.svgO.svgV.svgAh.svgS.svgO.svgN.svgAa.svgK.svg Dovah-Sonaak, "Dragon-Priest(s)") are powerful undead[note 1] enemies found in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Thousands of years ago, these priests ruled over Skyrim at the behest of their Dragon overlords. In their service, many of these dragon priests were granted extraordinary powers and knowledge in arcana, and some of them managed to reach lichdom to evade their own demise. They are typically buried in one of the many ancient tombs and temples dotted all across Skyrim, awaiting the return of Alduin the "World-Eater."

There are eight high ranking priests, each wearing a unique dragon priest mask that bears a powerful enchantment said to be bestowed them directly from their dragon benefactors. These priests can be encountered at any level, and are typically found within Nordic tombs and ruins that house Word Walls. Often they are accompanied by an array of undead underlings, such as draugr and skeletons.

Dragon Priests in Skyrim

Concept art for the Dragon Priest.


In life, Hevnoraak was a powerful dragon priest who practiced a form of mind-controlling magic. Using his power, he managed to build up an army of enthralled disciples. Before his death, Hevnoraak planned his resurrection obsessively. He drained his own blood from his body and planned to transfer his power back into himself after death, thus becoming a powerful Lich. He was buried in the ancient tomb of Valthume.[1]


Krosis was buried, not within a tomb or temple like other dragon priests, but atop one of Skyrim's highest peaks, known as Shearpoint, which is also a dragon lair. His sarcophagus is located directly in front of a Word Wall.


Morokei was a powerful priest who was entombed in the ancient city of Bromjunaar, specifically within Labyrinthian. At some unknown point, he came into the possession of the Staff of Magnus, an immensely powerful artifact.

In the early Fourth Era an ill-fated group of mages, including a young Savos Aren, encountered Morokei within Labyrinthian. The trip resulted in their deaths, with the exception of Savos. In an attempt to seal away Morokei permanently, Savos bound two of the surviving mages to be magically enthralled and permanently forced to maintain a barrier around Morokei.[2]


Nahkriin guards the portal to Sovngarde.

Nahkriin was a priest who was buried in the secluded Nordic Temple of Skuldafn, high in the Velothi Mountains. In the Fourth Era, he was found in the service of Alduin, and presided over a portal that lead to the Nordic afterlife of Sovngarde.

Otar the Mad

Otar the Mad was originally an ancient Nordic chieftain who ruled over the city of Ragnvald in the Merethic Era. Initially, he was believed to have been a benevolent ruler and successful in battle, but his mind was subsequently corrupted by unknown forces that drove him to insanity. Otar became a Dragon Priest and subjected his people to unspeakable cruelty until two Nordic heroes named Saerek and Torsten were sent to stop his tyranny.[3]

Both heroes were unable to defeat Otar, so instead they sealed him in a large sarcophagus in Ragnvald and locked it with two skull keys that each of them kept. They pledged to guard the keys so that Otar may never escape his imprisonment. The city of Ragnvald was eventually abandoned, but Saerek and Torsten remained as his guardians.[3]


Rahgot is believed to be one of the Dragon Priests to survive the Dragon War. In the early First Era, he led a small cult in the secluded monastery of Forelhost high in the Jerall Mountains. A legion of King Harald's soldiers, commanded by Skorm Snow-Strider, discovered the hidden stronghold of dragon cultists and laid siege to it for several weeks. In a desperate act, Rahgot ordered the entire cult to commit mass suicide, while Rahgot himself was entombed within the temple.[4]


Vokun was a priest who was buried in the Nordic tomb of High Gate Ruins. He was the bearer of the Vokun mask.


Volsung was a priest who was buried in the Nordic tomb of Volskygge. He was the bearer of the Volsung mask, and like Krosis, guarded a word wall.

Dragon Priests in Solstheim



During the period of time when dragons ruled over mortals, Miraak served as a dragon priest on the island of Solstheim. He came into possession of a Black Book, which in turn lead to him to servitude under Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge and Fate, who taught him a means to great power. With this forbidden knowledge in his possession, Miraak turned on his dragon masters, using his power to devour their souls to become ever more powerful. Because of his betrayal, the dragons razed his temple on Solstheim.

His rebellion was unsuccessful, and was defeated by another Dragon Priest named Vahlok who was then made his jailor, restraining him to Solstheim.[5] Other accounts mention that just as Vahlok was about to kill Miraak, Hermaeus Mora saved him by transporting him to the realm of Apocrypha. The dragons then appointed Vahlok as ruler of the island, but not before he was compelled to swear an oath of vigilance to watch for Miraak's return, earning him the title "The Jailer."[6]

Miraak stayed in the realm of Hermaeus Mora until he could amass enough power and influence to return to Solstheim, which he was able to do in 4E 201, although he was eventually defeated by the Dragonborn.[7]

Vahlok the Jailor

According to Skaal folklore, Vahlok served as a dragon priest during the rule of dragons in the Merethic Era.[6] One of his contemporaries, a priest named Miraak, was seduced with promises of power and forbidden knowledge by the Daedric Prince of Knowledge and Fate, Hermaeus Mora. Miraak began to conspire in secret against his dragon overlords. However, Vahlok discovered his plans and accosted him. The two fought a lengthy battle that was said to have lasted for days, and was so destructive that Solstheim was torn apart from the mainland of Skyrim.[6]

Vahlok was victorious and gained much glory. He was appointed by his dragon masters as ruler of the island, but in return he was compelled to swear an oath of vigilance to watch for Miraak's return.[6]



Ahzidal was the first great Nord enchanter, and the first human to master elven methods of arcane magic. In his lust for knowledge and power, Ahzidal had become corrupted, eventually falling mad with his obsession. Not satisfied with the mere knowledge of man and mer alone, he sought out the secrets of Dragon-runes, which eventually led him to join the ranks of the dragon priests. Even this was not enough, though, and eventually Ahzidal turned his focus to the Planes of Oblivion.[8]

In his lust for power and knowledge, Ahzidal finally lost himself, falling victim to his own pursuit of perfection. Eventually, he fled to Solstheim, and was sealed in the depths of Kolbjorn Barrow, together with the last of his relics.[7][9]


Dukaan was a priest, and buried in the Nordic tomb of White Ridge Barrow. He was the bearer of the Dukaan mask.


Zahkriisos was a priest buried in the Nordic tomb of Bloodskal Barrow. He was the bearer of the Zahkriisos mask.


In the base game, eight named dragon priests can be encountered at their place of burial throughout Skyrim. Often they are found in the company of several draugr, while some priests can be found guarding word walls. In addition, unnamed dragon priests can be encountered at various locations at higher levels.

With the addition of Dragonborn, four additional priests can be encountered in Nordic ruins throughout Solstheim. Three of these priests each guard one of Hermaeus Mora's Black Books.

Dragon Priest Masks

Krosis Mask.png
Main article: Dragon Priest Masks (Skyrim)

High ranking priests were known to wear dragon priest masks that each bore a unique and distinct enchantment, or a series of enchantments. These masks can be obtained by killing the priest. Bromjunaar Sanctuary, within Labyrinthian, is the location of the mysterious dragon priest shrine. The shrine displays the busts of the eight high ranking dragon priests found throughout Skyrim.

Masks that have been obtained from defeated dragon priests can be displayed on their respective bust on the shrine. Once the eight masks are in place, the final mask, Konahrik, is revealed. The other masks may be taken from the shrine once Konahrik is obtained. Any improvements made to a mask or masks will revert to normal when the item is recovered from the shrine. (For example, if Morokei is made a Legendary item through smithing before being placed on the shrine, it will lose its bonuses should it be placed on the structure and then recovered).


Dragon priests in the base game are generally identical in both appearance and attributes. They share many of the same spells and resistances. These include the ability to use Wards, Mage Armor and both summon and turn Daedra. They are also immune to poison and paralysis.

Mask of Zahkriisos

The only difference between them is the type of elemental magic they're attached to. Most named dragon priests dabble in shock magic, and will only use the corresponding spells during combat, such as Thunderbolt or Chain Lightning. Other priests are fire based, and will only use Fireball or Incinerate as part of their core arsenal. One exception to this rule is the priest Nahkriin, who, although being mainly primarily shock based, also uses fire and frost spells during combat. Some priests even wield a destruction based staff, which usually takes precedence over their own spells.

Dragon Priests encountered in the base game are fixed at level 50. In Dragonborn, Ahzidal and Dukaan are fixed at level 60, and Zahkriisos is leveled, placing him between level 25 and 60, depending on character level. These priests have knowledge of similar spells as the original eight priests, but also possess a powerful elemental spell that is unique to them. Ahzidal uses Fire Stream, Dukaan uses Frost Stream, and Zahkriisos uses a one-handed variant of Lightning Storm. Vahlok has no unique spells and, like his counterparts in Skyrim, is fixed at level 50.

All dragon priests are highly adept in the arcane arts, and boast a level 100 skill in Conjuration, Alteration, Destruction, and Restoration.

Fire Damage

Priest Level Health Magicka Spells
Rahgot 50 1490 545 Command Daedra, Conjure Flame Atronach, Ebonyflesh, Fireball, Flame Cloak, Greater Ward, Incinerate
Vahlok DR
Ahzidal DR 60 2000 595 Ebonyflesh, Fire Stream, Flame Cloak, Greater Ward, Revenant, Raise Zombie

Frost Damage

Priest Level Health Magicka Spells
Krosis 50 1490 545 Command Daedra, Conjure Frost Atronach, Ebonyflesh, Frost Cloak, Greater Ward, Ice Storm, Icy Spear
Dukaan DR 60 2000 595 Conjure Seeker, Ebonyflesh, Frost Cloak, Frost Stream, Greater Ward

Shock Damage

Priest Level Health Magicka Spells
Hevnoraak 50 1490 545

Chain Lightning, Command Daedra, Conjure Storm Atronach, Ebonyflesh, Greater Ward, Lightning Cloak, Thunderbolt

Zahkriisos DR 25–60 1650–2000 320–495 Conjure Seeker, Ebonyflesh, Greater Ward, Lightning Cloak, Lightning Storm, Thunderbolt

† Krosis, despite being a Frost based priest, mainly attacks with Fire magic, as he wields the Staff of Fireballs.


A Dragon Priest bursting out of his sarcophagus.

Combat with dragon priests is usually initiated when approaching their sarcophagus. The cover is flung to one side, and the dormant priest will awaken with a high pitched shriek.

As combat begins, priests typically activate Ebonyflesh for added protection against melee attacks and their specific elemental cloak. They may also summon their elemental-based Atronach to aid them.

Owing to their lack of melee attack, they are forced to exclusively fight with their elemental magic spells, but this may be overridden if they wield a destruction-based staff. Occasionally, they will use a Greater Ward to protect against both melee and magical attacks. Upon death, their bodies will disintegrate into an ash pile, while their armor and items will remain intact.

It is possible to make dragon priests very easy to kill by using the Aetherial Crown to bestow one with the Atronach Stone, and the Apprentice Stone, along with the Atronach perk and Miraak's Robes, worn with another item of the Miraak set to set spell absorption to 100%. Items with a spell absorption enchantment will also prove useful. It is also possible to siphon their magicka with Shock Damage enchantment, simultaneously depleting their magicka. As dragon priests lack a non-magical attack, the only threat to the Dragonborn would be their conjured creatures.

Notable items

All named dragon priests (excluding Vahlok the Jailor) drop an aforementioned dragon priest mask, a leveled amount of gold and, occasionally, a leveled staff. On rare occasions, they may drop Kahvozein's Fang, a unique dragon priest dagger used in the "Alteration Ritual Spell" quest.


  • Originally, dragon priests were to be summoned under the Conjuration skill. The "Conjure Dragon Priest" spell is in the game's files and can actually be used through the use of modding in the Creation Kit.
  • Dragon Priests can be considered liches, powerful beings with great control over the Dark Arts. For their lifetime, they have obtained many powers and gifts of knowledge from dragons.
  • Unlike most other undead, Dragon Priests' feet never touch the ground; they always hover a few inches above the floor.
  • Dragon Priests are immune to paralysis. This includes the Ice Form shout, though they are still affected by the frost damage. They also cannot be knocked off their feet by Unrelenting Force, but are still staggered by it.


See also



  1. In fact, they are, as the draugr, still (barely) alive, but are classified as undead.