The Daedric Princes which are sometimes referred to as the Daedra Lords, are the cosmic tricksters of the Elder Scrolls series. Some are malevolent and engineer atrocities, some are benevolent and bestow miracles on their followers, some appreciate chaos and revolution and engineer havoc. Most are neutral and are indifferent as to how their antics affect mortals because they see them as playthings, while others are guided by sheer boredom and madness. But whatever their motivations, the Daedra love one thing above all else: to interfere in the affairs of mortals.
A player in the Elder Scrolls series usually ends up being the champion of one or all of the sixteen Daedric Princes, if only to reap the rewards of succeeding in their respective quests, usually taking the form of a powerful Daedric artifact. The concept of the Princes is based on the Old Ones and Elder Gods from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, in the sense that they are supernatural beings with god-like powers who exist above morality and mortal concepts of good and evil. Buried at the heart of the Daedra is the idea that mortals are playthings, pawns, or curiosities to be observed, and that human interests and life become insignificant in the grand scheme of the cosmos. Though much about the sixteen Daedric Princes remains unknown (or even unknowable) to us, some basic knowledge about them can be taken from the in-game quests and tomes regarding their history, nature, and powers.
Here are 15 things you might not have known about the Daedric Princes. All of them are taken directly from the extensive lore of the Elder Scrolls series.
15. They Are The Most Powerful Daedra
Not all Daedra (sometimes the singular is written as Daedroth) are Princes. The Nine Divines of the Tamrielic pantheon are called the Aedra, a word of Aldmeri origin meaning “ancestors,” as opposed to Daedra, meaning “not our ancestors.” Daedra are beings that did not take part in the creation of Mundus and still retain their full power. Other creatures that dwell in the realm of Oblivion are Daedra, but not Princes. Daedra can come in many forms, from the humanoid Dremora to the elemental Atronachs to the mischievous Scamps and the harpy-like Winged Twilights. The Daedric Princes are the most powerful of all the Daedra and are frequently worshiped as gods by mortals and the various kinds of “lesser” Daedra.
All in all, there are sixteen of these powerful Daedric Princes known to mortals: Azura, Boethiah, Clavicus Vile, Hermaeus Mora, Hircine, Malacath, Mehrunes Dagon, Mephala, Meridia, Molag Bal, Namira, Nocturnal, Peryite, Sanguine, Sheogorath, and Vaermina. Unlike regular Daedra, the Daedric Princes appear to mortals as deities and cannot be summoned at will by sorcerers as lesser Daedra and bound Daedra can. Instead, the Princes choose when to manifest themselves on the mortal plane, usually to wreak havoc, cause mischief, or use a mortal champion as a pawn in their latest scheme.
14. They Are Beyond Most Mortal Concepts
Daedra are generally compared to demons while the Aedra are compared to gods, but such simplistic definitions are misleading. In reality, it’s inaccurate to label any of the Daedric Princes as truly “good” or “evil,” since they exist beyond mortal comprehension and moral systems, and all Daedra without exception ultimately view mortals as pawns to move around, reward, punish, and dispose of as they see fit. Just like Daedra are beyond mortal comprehension, so are mortals beyond Daedric comprehension, which is why the Daedra seem so much more active in the world than the Aedra.
While speaking about the morality of the Daedric Princes is difficult, there are clear variations between them regarding how they choose to use their power. Azura, for example, is the Daedric Prince of Dusk and Dawn, and generally the one most associated with “good,” and known to be one of the most benevolent Daedric Lords.
Molag Bal, on the other hand, is the Daedric Prince of Domination and Enslavement and seems to take enormous pleasure in acts of devastation. The Daedric Princes also seem to have no inherent gender, though they may assume a typically masculine or feminine form. They are always called Princes regardless as to what gender they manifest as.
13. They Represent Change, Cannot Be Killed, And Are Sometimes Worshiped
Aedra are associated with stasis, while Deadra represents change. The Aedra created the world and are bound to it. Daedra cannot create but have the ability to change reality, hence why they are constantly interfering with us mortals the way someone would turn over a rock to peer at the strange bugs crawling there. Despite the fact that the Daedra took no part in the creation of Mundus, they heavily affect life in mortal universes, either physically or mentally. Daedra cannot be killed; they can only be summoned from Oblivion by sorcerers for very brief periods using conjuration magic. When a Daedra “dies” its physical manifestation on this plane are destroyed, but their essence returns to Oblivion until the next time they project themselves onto Mundus. They cannot be truly killed, only banished. This applies to both Daedric Princes and lesser Daedra.
Although the Daedra are considered evil by most, in different parts of Tamriel they enjoy widespread worship, especially among the Dunmer in the wake of the fall of the Tribunal. Bizarre shrines dot the land to honor the Daedric Princes as gods, and the Princes often take an interest in their worshippers, either for ego gratification or to use them to carry out their morally ambiguous missions.
12. Each One Has Their Own Realm of Oblivion and Artifacts
A defining characteristic of each of the Princes is that they all rule their own plane of Oblivion, and each has a particular sphere of what they embody. The plane of each Daedric Prince is very different in nature and appearance, and within their respective planes, they have god-like power. For some examples, Azura’s plane of Oblivion is known as Moonshadow and is said to be too beautiful for mortals to comprehend; Hermaeus Mora’s realm of Apocrypha is an endless dark library; Molag Bal’s realm of Coldharbour is a dark and twisted version of Tamriel, and Mehrunes Dagon’s realm of the Deadlands resembles the typical mortal depictions of hell.
It’s well-known that Daedra are the undisputed masters of craftsmanship in the Elder Scrolls universe. Forged from the highest quality raw ebony and containing a Daedric soul within them, Daedric weapons and armor are the best in each game. Quests the player completes at the request of one of the Princes is usually rewarded with their respective Daedric artifact and use of its unique powers. For more examples, Azura’s Star is a reusable soul gem, the Ring of Hircine grants lycanthropes the ability to change into a werewolf whenever they want, the Mace of Molag Bal drains life and captures souls, and Sheogorath’s Wabbajack has a fittingly random effect.
11. Azura is Responsible for the Creation of the Dunmer
Every fan of the Elder Scrolls series is familiar with the Dunmer, the race of Dark Elves featured in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, widely considered the best game of the series. What they may not know is that our favorite ash-skinned, red-eyed, slave-holding, Tribunal-worshipping race wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for a curse of the Daedric Prince Azura.
The story goes back to the Battle of Red Mountain, the infamous battle between the Chimer and the Dwemer that led to the death of Lord Indoril Nerevar, the destruction of House Dagoth, the mysterious disappearance of the entire Dwemer race from Nirn, and the ascension of four of Nerevar’s councilors into godhood, becoming Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal. As if this story wasn’t epic enough, it culminated in the curse from the Daedric Prince Azura, who transformed the Elven Chimer into the modern Dunmer.
The Tribunal broke their oath and betrayed Nerevar, stealing divine powers for themselves and refusing to show remorse before Azura. Before this, the Chimer had pale golden skin, but the angered Azura turned their skin the gray color of the Red Mountain’s ash and their eyes the fiery red of its magma until the end of time. Today, the Dunmer still bear these features and are known as gloomy and ill-favored by fate.
10. Mephala Helped Found the Morag Tong, And Some Suspect She is the Night Mother
Players of Morrowind may remember the Morag Tong, otherwise known as the ancient guild of assassins that aren’t the Dark Brotherhood. The more professional and less disturbed of the two (not to mention the only assassin’s organization that’s actually legal), the Morag Tong claim to murder in the name of the Mephala, Daedric Prince of murder, lies, and deception. According to the Tribunal, Mephala directly helped found the Morag Tong to teach the Chimer how to defend themselves against their many enemies. The Tong essentially operated as a cult around her.
In the Second Era, the Morag Tong underwent an internal split where half its members left the organization and formed the Dark Brotherhood, who still worshiped and venerated Mephala but primarily worshiped Sithis. They were led by the mysterious Night Mother. Many people find the blood-drenched schism and feud between the Morag Tong and the Dark Brotherhood puzzling since both are professional assassins who worship Sithis. The one thing tearing them apart is the Night Mother.
There is little concrete detail about the Night Mother in Elder Scrolls lore, and there are many theories as to who she is/was. One of the most compelling theories is that the Night Mother is really just another form of Mephala herself. Mephala is well-known as the Webspinner who enjoys interfering in the affairs of mortals, and as the lore notes, no one has been able to verify the Night Mother’s identity or origin. Parts of her supposed backstory have glaring inconsistencies. So, to sum up, if this theory proves to have some truth to it, that would mean that Mephala is responsible for engineering the long-standing conflict between two zealous assassin guilds who worship her, likely because she was bored or for some other incomprehensible reason. It sure sounds like a Daedric thing to do.
9. Boethiah is the Original God-Ancestor of the Chimer and the Dunmer
Though the Deadra are not ruled by mortal concepts like “good” or “evil,” Boethiah is one of the Princes that is consistently viewed as evil. The Daedric Prince of conspiracy, treachery, sedition, and deception delights in visiting destruction upon mortals, even turning on her followers for seemingly no reason. But Boethiah is one of the most revered by the Dunmer, in both a positive and negative way, because she is the source for the idea of the Chimer (and subsequently, the Dunmer) as a distinct race.
In ancient times, some of the early Mer saw their mortal existence as the cause of trickery by Lorkhan, and that existence on Nirn was a trial to be endured. Boethiah approached a group of these Aldmer and took the form of Trinimac himself, preaching to them with his voice and teaching them new ways to be different from the rest of the Aldmer. She taught that the Aldmer were weak and undeserving of immortality. Through the actions and manipulation of Boethiah, some of the Mer renounced all ties to the Aldmeri civilization. These Mer would take the name Chimer, or Changed Ones and found a new nation based on Daedric principles, while following their prophet-leader Veloth to a new home on the continent of Morrowind.
While Azura and Mephala aided the Chimer in implementing their new society, the Dunmer consider Boethiah their chief god-ancestor, and since then all Dunmer cultural advances from their clan-based political system, to magic, to philosophy, to literature and architecture, are attributed to Boethiah’s influence.
8. Molag Bal Seduced Vivec And Created Vampires
Among the inappropriate and strange lore haunting the Elder Scrolls Universe, few aspects are as controversial as the Sermons of Vivec. Vivec was a Chimer who stole god-power from a dead god’s heart after killing his lord and trusted oldest friend, then rewrote time and history to portray his every act as one of Messiah-like heroism, some of the stories surrounding him are just plain weird even by Elder Scrolls standards. The stories of the Warrior-Poet deity of the Dunmer range from the fantastical to the utterly bizarre, and perhaps no single story in the sermons stands out as much as his “encounter” with the Daedric Prince Molag Bal.
The story goes like this: Vivec wanders into the Badlands to practice his giant form, making his feet less dense so he won’t sink into the earth. He’s attacked by the most infamous of the Daedric Lords, Molag Bal, who sends his armies to cut off his feet and catch him in nets of fire, and Vivec lets them. Then Molag Bal and Vivec seduce one another and are married in a ceremony that day. The Daedric Prince lay with Vivec for eighty-eight nights, and if you can get over the idea of Vivec having consensual sex with a being known as the King of Rape, wrap your head around the idea that the two fathered a population of abominations supposedly living in a region of Morrowind. When Molag Bal betrayed him and the offspring turned out to be monsters, Vivec then hunted down the terrible spawn with his spear Muatra (which is basically also his penis) and killed them all one by one.
The hideously wicked Molag Bal is also responsible for the creation of vampires, in one of the darkest tales in TES lore. Raging against Arkay and wanting to disrupt the cycle of life and death, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Enslavement raped a Nedic virgin in Skyrim, leaving a drop of his corrupting blood on her forehead. She did not survive the encounter, and her screams became the winds. But she rose from her funeral pyre as the mother of vampires, slaughtering the funeral procession and the village in which it was held. Her unholy spawn then spread to every corner of Tamriel, becoming the modern vampires.
7. Hircine Created Werewolves
For a Daedric Prince, Hircine seems like a pretty chill guy. The Huntsman of the Princes is a great sportsman, loves to hunt, and seems amused by most mortal activities. Though Daedra are shunned by Imperial society, this chaotic sense of fun might be why he is one of the most worshiped and accepted Daedra. But perhaps Hircine is best known for being the patron and creator of lycanthropy, the supernatural condition that causes someone to turn into a were-creature, particularly a werewolf. For this reason, the monstrous half-man, half-wolf werewolves are also known as Hircine’s Hounds.
Lycanthropy is a disease called Sanies Lupinus, a blessing bestowed upon Hircine’s most loyal followers and worshippers, or a curse, depending on who you ask. Because of the insatiable and constant bloodlust, werewolves who live with those with beast blood are widely feared in Tamriel and will be attacked on sight. Members of the Circle, the senior members of the Companions faction, can control their beast forms at will in return for serving Hircine in the afterlife.
6. Hermaeus Mora Possesses All Forbidden Knowledge
The old idiom “knowledge is power” was never more aptly used than when referring to Hermaeus Mora, Daedric Prince of knowledge, memory, and fate. Mora describes himself as, “The riddle unsolvable. The door unopenable. The book unreadable. The question unanswerable.” Hermaeus Mora maintains a realm of Oblivion called Apocrypha, described as an endless library with shelves in every direction. The very walls and ceiling are made of stacks upon stacks of books, each with a black cover and no title. Mystical winds blow with pages fluttering within them.
The forbidden knowledge hidden away in the volumes of Apocrypha is so great that it frequently ensnares mortal scholars. Their ghosts move through the stacks, ever searching for answers. More than a few knowledgeable souls have become trapped by the secrets within Apocrypha, such as the famous case of Morian Zenas, a master conjurer, as recounted in the lore book The Doors of Oblivion. He managed to visit five planes of Oblivion: Ashpit, Coldharbour, Moonshadow, Quagmire, and finally Apocrypha. But when he arrived at Apocrypha, his thirst for knowledge got the better of him and he began reading the endless tomes. He gradually grew quieter, eventually just whispering to himself, until finally, his whispers became unintelligible. He now whispers about once every few years. Zenas became another victim to the infinite forbidden knowledge of Apocrypha.
5. Mehrunes Dagon Has Basically Been Involved in Everything Bad
Mehrunes Dagon is the primary antagonist of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and the Daedric Prince of revolution, destruction, and change. He has appeared in all five installments of the Elder Scrolls series as well as An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire. His name is a reference to Dagon from H.P. Lovecraft’s horror fiction, and if his satanic appearance and the hellish look of the Deadlands, his plane of Oblivion, that doesn’t give you the idea he’s an evil dude, his list of famous interventions on Nirn will.
He invaded Morrowind at the end of the First Era and was repelled by Almalexia and Sotha Sil, but not before he destroyed the capital city of Mournhold and devoured the populace. Dagon also destroyed Ald Sotha, home of House Sotha and Sotha Sil’s place of birth. He conspired with the Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn to overthrow Emperor Uriel Septim VII, leading to the events of The Elder Scrolls I: Arena. He even violated the pact made by his fellow Daedric Princes limiting interference in mortal affairs by seizing control of the Battlespire.
Most infamously, he was the driving force behind the Oblivion Crisis, and through his servant Mankar Camoran he assassinated the Emperor and brought an end to the Septim dynasty, the first ruling family of the Empire. All in an attempt to open the Oblivion gates and conquer all of Nirn, an act that would end the Third Era. As if all this weren’t enough, Dagon is associated with natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and fires.
4. Malacath Was Created When Boethiah Ate An Aedra
Malacath is well-known as the Daedric Prince of the spurned and ostracized, and is called the father of the Orsimer, or Orcs. The Orcs’ original name itself means “Pariah Folk” in Elvish, and Malacath is not considered a true Daedric Prince by his peers, both of which are fitting for his sphere. But one controversial story is that that Malacath was created when Boethiah actually consumed an Aedra.
When Trinimac, strongest of the Aedra, champion of the High Elf pantheon, and greatest of the Altmeri ancestor spirits, and his followers attempted to put a stop to the Velothi dissident movement, Boethiah “ate” him and assumed his shape so she could convince the Velothi followers to listen to them. This would lead to the creation of the Orcs and the Chimer.
Afterward, Trinimac’s form and spirit were corrupted, and he emerged as Malacath, a vengeful but weakened version of his former glory. Trinimac’s devout followers were likewise changed and transformed into the Orcs. Some disagree with this story and say that Malacath is an entirely different entity than Trinimac, and Malacath himself claims the tale is exaggerated. Still, it wouldn’t be out of character for the deep and compelling mythology of Elder Scrolls.
3. Sheogorath Gave Mortals the Gift of Music By Ripping a Woman Apart And Making Instruments From Her Body
There are many myths and stories surrounding the antics of the Daedric Prince of Madness, most of them equally hilarious and disturbing. But perhaps none are so dark and nonsensical as the story of how he created music and gave it to the mortal world…by ripping a woman apart. As the story goes, in the earliest days of the world the Mad God would take the form of a gentleman with a cane to walk among mortals unrecognized. After eleven days and eleven nights of wandering, he found life among mortals intolerably boring.
While wondering what he could do to make mortal lives more interesting, a nearby woman remarked on the beautiful sounds the birds make. Since Sheogorath couldn’t change the nature of mortals, he decided to give us the tools to make beautiful sounds. So he did the logical thing: he seized the woman and tore her apart, made lutes from her tendons, a drum from her skull, and flutes from her bones, and gave them as gifts to mortals. And thus, music was born. Um…yeah.
2. Nocturnal Was the First Daedra And is an Aspect of the Original Void Itself
Nocturnal is the patron of thieves, the Daedric Prince of darkness and the night, also known as the Night Mistress and many other nicknames. Though very little is known about her, she was the first Daedra and is known by the title “Ur-dra,” or original Daedra by the beings of Oblivion. As the Mother of the Night, she is claimed to an aspect of the original Void itself. The Void is the name of the dimensions outside the known Planes of Existence (Aetherius, Mundus, and Oblivion), encompassing the vastness of the Aurbis. The Dark Brotherhood believe that when Sithis wishes someone dead their soul goes to the Void after death.
Even though Nocturnal is the Ur-dra, she doesn’t seem too concerned with gaining followers – her loyal Nightingales “Serve her without prayer, without charity, and without celebration.” Their worship is more akin to a business transaction where they guard her sacred sites, and in return can use the Nightingale powers as they see fit. Nocturnal also gets first dibs on souls, and the Nightingale’s ultimate fate lies within the Evergloam, Nocturnal’s plane of Oblivion where their spirits become one with the shadow.
1. The Lost Seventeenth Prince, Jyggalag, May Be the Most Powerful Being in Elder Scrolls
If you’ve played the Shivering Isles expansion for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you’ve no doubt met Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order and the most powerful of all the Daedra. In ancient times long before recorded history, Jyggalag’s realm extended across all of Oblivion, but the other Daedric Princes grew so jealous and fearful of him that they cursed him to become Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, complete with a personality the exact opposite of Jyggalag’s. In other words, it took the combined efforts of fifteen god-like beings to bring Jyggalag down, and even then they only cursed him instead of destroying him.
Many references in the lore point to Jyggalag as being the most powerful of all the Daedra, and while all the Daedric Princes exert almost unlimited power within their own realms, Jyggalag was able to impose his will on others. Were he not cursed, it is conceivable he could have come to control all planes of existence. Not only that, but as the Prince of logical order and deduction, he was able to predict with 100% mathematical accuracy every detail of every action that has ever taken place in the past, present, or future, even before the actor in question even thinks of it. With this, he was able to predict all events in Mundus and any of the realms of Oblivion long before they actually happened.
This ability is unique and unprecedented within the Elder Scrolls universe, and may very well mean Jyggalag is not only the most powerful Daedric Prince but the most powerful being we’ve encountered, period.