The vampiric disease spread throughout The Elder Scrolls’ world of Tamriel is equal parts mystifying and horrifying, striking silently and fatally against anyone without discrimination. Feared in some regions, and violently reviled in others, vampirism may never be fully understood, as it seems to constantly shift and change as though evolving with its demonic hosts.
From a player’s perspective, vampires can either be a horrific damper to the game, or a perfectly evil additive to a particularly chaotic play through. Wherever they lie in any particular situation, it’s always important to know thy enemy (or otherwise understand thy friend), here’s everything that’s important to keep in mind about the vampires of Tamriel.
10 A Brief History
Vampires, in legend, are related to a Daedric Prince named Molag Bal. In the legends, he is titled the “kin-father” of the vampires, though he was not a vampire himself. He’s a much darker figure who was often referred to as the “king of rape and strife.”
By defiling the Bloodmatron, Lamae Boelfag, Molag is said to have spawned the race of vampires in order to spread his corruption further through the land. There is a different version of the legend appearing in Morrowind’s lore, in which Molag spawned the first vampire from the corpse of a defeated warrior, who varies by account, sometimes taking the form of a beast, Daedra lord, or (ironically) a Temple Saint.
9 Molag Bal
Molag Bal himself is a bit of a legendary figure, taking the role of main antagonist in The Elder Scrolls Online and becoming a forefront character in a lot of Tamriel’s lore. He remains enigmatic in his motivations for dominating Tamriel, and yet continues with a rampant bloodlust, forcing the player to rise against his dark forces on several occasions. Bal’s foremost goal seems to be the causation of strife throughout the world in order to harvest and consume mortal souls. His name translates to “fire” and “stone,” indicating his place as the hellish leader of darkness.
8 Skyrim Variations
There are over 100 variations of vampires in Tamriel, each taking their own powers and abilities. Those that appear in Skyrim, while more simplistic than some of their foreign counterparts, are nonetheless violent and influential creatures.
One of the most powerful tribes in Skyrim is the Volkihar, who live under the icy lakes of the east, as well as their counterparts residing in Volkihar Castle. The Coven of Movarth also lives in Hjaalmarch, where the ex-vampire hunter’s fiends plan to overtake the local city of Morthal through trickery and seduction. There is also a vampiric couple in Falkreath who run Half-Moon Mill, where they feed on travelers and local animals to get by.
7 Other Variations
Outside of Skyrim’s borders, variations of the vampiric plague exist with greater strengths and abilities, breeding unprecedented fear from locals and travelers alike.
One of the more civilized tribes, located in Cyrodiil, consider discretion an important part of their hunger, and instead vouch for political influence and manipulation. In Valenwood, there are several tribes that prey upon children and infiltrate local families, swallow men whole, have the ability to turn invisible, and can only be recognized by candlelight. In Morrowind, due to the abhorrence of necromantic practices, the vampires have grown stronger in hiding, believed to have been extinct for generations. These are some of the most vicious breeds, known for exceptional frenzied strength, spellcasting abilities, and discreet feeding tactics. High Rock vampires are highly defensive, allowing themselves to be protected from damage via magic and turn invisible, as well as restore their wounds quickly.
6 Vampiric Subtypes
There are several dangerous mutations of the vampiric bloodline, which branch off into various types of heightened senses and abilities separate from regional variations.
Pure-Bloods are direct descendants of Molag Bal, which gives them not only a higher status in vampiric society, but much greater powers than readily available for other varieties. Similarly, Vampire Lords, like those in Volkihar Castle, are hand-picked by Bal and given a monstrous form and stronger bloodline. Bloodfiends are much more feral in contrast, often losing themselves to bloodlust and hunger, which often stems from the starvation of a regular vampire. Blood Scions are a direct alteration of Lamae’s bloodline after her defilement by Bal. Scions are powerful beings meant to rival Lords with their pure Lamae blood. They grow stronger with the blood they consume and can transform into a swarm of bats and sense prey through walls. The final, Bloodknights, are vampires who have taken power from others of their kind, gaining strength and speed akin to that of a beast.
5 Notable Vampiric Figures
There are many famous faces in the vampiric community, either for their contributions to the dark powers that be, or their historical altercations with mortal communities.
Lamae Bolfag, of course, became the first vampire against her will. King Styriche was notable for bargaining with Bal to lead the armies of the Gray Host, inquisitors of a great slaughter, of which Rada al-Saran was famed for his body count. Lady Essenia was the first to learn to manufacture Bloodknights for her own devices, making her a prized figure in their history. Lord Harkon, the Argonian priestess Shuxaltsei, and Baron Montclair are also all respectively famous for their roles in attempting to blot out the sun, end the world, and infect all of Rivenspire.
4 Dealing With Vampires
Vampires, while tricky fiends to handle, have their fair share of weaknesses. With proper tactics and bravery, they can be dispatched without too much trouble.
Most vampires’ weaknesses include sunlight, which prevents the recovery of wounds, and their debilitating hunger, which can also cease healing abilities and make them irrational. To those in more dire straits, fire is highly recommended given the vampire has no magical immunity. One of the best ways of inflicting critical flame damage is through the use of Powder of Flame. Alternatively, silver weapons and enchanted flame weapons are viable options, with the recommended addition of an Aetherium cuirass to prevent drain attacks.
3 Becoming A Vampire
There are two ways of becoming a vampire in Skyrim. The first, and easiest, can be inflicted by simply being attacked by a vampiric weapon, which can be encountered during the quest “Laid to Rest” in Morvarth’s Lair. The player must wait three days without a cure in order to fully succumb to the disease.
The second path gleans much more reward, but is relatively hard to pull off. In the Dawnguard expansion, the player is given more opportunities to become a powerful Vampire Lord with unique perks. In order to begin the transformation quests, the player must start the “Awaken” quest in Fort Dawnguard. At the end of the quest, after escorting Serana back home, Lord Harkon will reward the player by offering to transform them into a Vampire Lord.
2 Surviving As A Vampire
While becoming a vampire may be easy enough, surviving as one can prove much more difficult on occasion. Naturally, given the player’s new weaknesses and strengths, there’s a definite shift in play style to accommodate the requirements of vampirism.
First, it is recommended that players find enchantments to protect against fire damage, as dragons provide much more challenge with this new weakness, and enemy magic can be deadly if encountered without preparation. It’s also important to have a good sneak level or else risk being attacked on sight by NPCs. The Dark Brotherhood and Thieves’ Guild do not attack vampires, making them good points for fast traveling. Being a part of guilds can also allow more feeding opportunities, as members will not attack if feeding remains covert.
1 Vampiric Artifacts
There are several significant vampiric items throughout Skyrim that can be important additions to a player’s inventory. The Rings of Blood Magic, for example, can be found through Volkihar’s alchemist, and augment the player’s abilities as Vampire Lord. The vampire clothing set can be found on the Dawnguard quest “Hide and Seek,” as well as amulets in the quest “Amulets of Night Power” that allow the player to summon a gargoyle and acquire more powerful buffs. The player might also find Potions of Blood in Volkihar Castle, which are supplements to the consumption of human blood.