The Top 5 Daedric artifacts in ‘Skyrim’ (and the 3 lamest)

Meridia 300x168 The Top 5 Daedric artifacts in Skyrim (and the 3 lamest)

What would an Elder Scrolls game be without Daedric shrines? (hint: 10% less awesome)

Adventurers have been hunting for the fabled Daedric artifacts in Elder Scrolls games since, well, Daggerfall. The artifacts have undergone some tweaks over the years — for better and worse — but one thing is certain: they are the ultimate ES status symbol. There is nothing as satisfying in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as displaying your trophies throughout your home. My Solitude house has an entire Daedric room where I entertain guests over sniffers of Courvoisier.

But the real question for new players may be: what artifacts are most worthwhile to hunt down? After all, most require the players to jump through a variety of hoops, so which will you want to wield, and which gather dust on your shelves? Here’s our take on them, in no particular order (please be advised there are some spoilers below, you’ve been warned):

The Five Best

Mace of Molag Bal

In Markarth, as you make your way up the main street, a man named Vigilant Tyranus will approach you, asking if you know anything about an abandoned house. Offer to help him, and you will soon discover someone has been summoning a very powerful daedra within the house. Molag Bal will speak to you and tell you to kill the Vigilant. Go ahead because the jerk will try to kill you, too. Journey to the bottom of the basement (there’s a tunnel near a bookcase), and Molag Bal will instruct you on how to proceed to claim his mace. Bal’s a charmer, but only slightly less charming than his female counterpoint, Boethiah, and you will need to bust one of her priests out of hock.

The one-handed ebony mace does 21 damage, and drains 25 health and stamina per hit. Also, if you kill an enemy within 3 seconds while wielding it, it will capture their soul. Nice, huh? It cannot be disenchanted, and sells for a pretty penny, but really, it’s a heckuva one-hand weapon that both damages your enemy’s health and slows them down. You’ll need to be at least level 10 to pick up this bad boy.


This is easily the most difficult quest to start, but it’s worth it to keep your eyes peeled. Once you hit level 12, the Beacon of Meridia will randomly spawn in a chest. Check for chests around dragon walls, as a good starting point. Once you find the beacon, Meridia will speak to you and ask you to return her beacon to her shrine. Travel to the shrine and she will demand you wipe out a necromancer who has defiled her shrine. Once you do this, Meridia will grant you Dawnbreaker. The one-handed sword does 25 damage, and light fire damage, as well as the chance to burst the undead in a fiery explosion. (Meridia hates the undead.) Plus it’s gold and glows. Looks cool when wielding, and very useful when dungeon crawling.

The Masque of Clavicus Vile

MasqueofClavicus 162x300 The Top 5 Daedric artifacts in Skyrim (and the 3 lamest)

Vile’s mask is one of the few items that has remained relatively unchanged since inception.

In Falkreath, if you speak to Lod, the blacksmith, he will ask you about a dog on the road. Travel outside of town and a dog, Barbas, will approach you and tell you he is lost from his master. Follow him to Clavicus Vile’s shrine (he is prone to wandering aimlessly, so be prepared for a trek). Cut your way through some vampires and speak to Clavicus Vile’s shrine. Vile will tell you that he needs help reclaiming his Rueful Axe, and that he will grant you a wish in return. Your options are to return Barbas to his master, save Skyrim from civil war, or have the power to smite all your foes. Keep in mind that Vile has a very unique sense of humor, so personally, I suggest doing the nice thing and say you want to reunite dog and master. That’s just me.

After traveling to reclaim the axe, Vile will tell you that you may keep the axe if you kill Barbas. If you do this, you get a neat looking but not very special axe. I suggest refusing the deal, and speak to Barbas again. He will convince Vile to give you the Masque of Clavicus Vile. The mask is heavy armor that provides 42 armor, but the enchantment is almost unrivaled: +10 speech, prices are 20% better and magika regens faster. It’s cool looking, to boot, and helps you turn even more of a profit from your dungeon exploits.

Ebony Mail

This quest, for Boethiah, requires a very specific mind set. Once you are level 30, you may either find the book Boethiah’s Proving (at Septimus Signus’ camp), or travel to the Sacellum of Boethiah, which is East-ish of Windhelm. (If you head directly east from Windhelm, you should run into a bandit cave near a mountain. It’s around in this area) Boethiah, charmer that she is, will demand that you sacrifice someone to her shrine. You will need to bring a follower to the shrine and kill them. This is especially difficult if your follower is male, and uses the good ol’ “You’ve been a good friend to me. That means something,” right before you shank them. I still have guilt over this… I killed off her followers for good measure.

Boethiah will tell you to defeat her current champion and claim his armor. Once you do this, you will have the Ebony Mail. It is heavy armor that increases your sneak ability and poisons anyone who gets close to you. I mention this specifically because, frankly, I feel like kick ass heavy armor is harder to find than light. But then maybe I’m just biased to my Nightingale Armor.

Sanguine Rose

As mention in my Top 5 Enjoyable Sidequests article, the Sanguine Rose is gained from completing A Night to Remember. Why do I put this non-weapon on the most awesome artifacts? Because it summons a damn dremora, that’s why! He’s good when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, and an excellent distraction. I’m all about inflatable friends whose death you don’t need to mourn.

The Three Lamest

The Ebony Blade

In Morrowind, Mephala was infinitely cool. The patron Daedra of the Morag Tong, and the Lady of Whispers, Mephala is diabolical and conniving to the extreme. Which is why it is strange that she is relegated to such a nothing of a quest and a ho-hum weapon. In Whiterun, ask the Bannered Mare bartender about latest rumors (you must be at least level 20). She’ll eventually mention that the Jarl’s son is “not right.” Head to Dragonsreach and ask the Jarl about his kids. He’ll ask you to speak to the youngest, who you may remember as the charming brat who remarks on you licking his father’s boots. (Every time I talk to these kids, I remind my daughter about manners) The boy will tell you about a door in the basement that whispers. All you need to do is visit the door, then pick pocket the key from either the Jarl or the wizard to open the door. That is it. Seriously.

The Ebony Blade is a two-hand blade that looks like an ebony dai-katana. The blade is a decent two-hand weapon, which gains power as you murder your followers, and only those who trust you. But the blade has a few issues, most of which make me think it will be patched in the future. You may currently only use one-handed enchants on it, and one-handed bonuses apply to it. That is, if you have +two-handed on an item, it will not affect the Ebony Blade.


Granted, I said that The Mind of Madness is one of the most fun side-quests available, and it’s worth doing it to get this item. However, the Wabbajack’s main claim to fame is that it turns an opponent into a chicken, ala Hexen (look it up, kids). This is pretty damn funny the first two or three times you do it, but it gets pretty old quickly. You’ll run around the country side for ten or fifteen minutes, and then the Wabbajack will promptly gather dust in your home.

The Savior’s Hide/The Ring of Hircine

hircine The Top 5 Daedric artifacts in Skyrim (and the 3 lamest)

It’s neat looking, but that’s about all it has going for it.

In Falkreath, travel to the cemetery where a funeral procession is taking place. Speak to the older man at the funeral, and he will tell you that his young daughter was murdered by a stranger, Siding. Speak to him in

Speak to him in the Falkreath jail, and he will tell you he is cursed by Hircine, and that he must appease Hircine. He will instruct you to kill the great white stag, and give you Hircine’s ring. After you kill the stag, Hircine will appear and tell you to hunt Siding and skin him. Go to the cave where Siding is hiding (which is, unarguably, one of the prettiest dungeons in the game. I’m a sucker for the blood moon), and you will have one of two options: side with Siding, or follow Hircine’s orders.

If you side with Siding, you will receive The Ring of Hircine, which grants those with lycanthropy the ability to chance into a werewolf as often as you please. But there’s the kicker: you already have to have lycanthropy. If you were a Companion and chose to cure yourself…

If you side with Hircine and skin Siding, you will receive the Savior’s Hide. It’s a very pretty piece of armor, with Hircine’s symbol on the chest, but all it offers is increased poison and magic resistance. Whoopee. Throw it on a mannequin and go about your business.

Wait! There’s more! Before you ask…

What about Azura’s Star?

Yes, Azura’s Star is a fun side quest, and the most awesome soul gem in the game. To me, this item is a no-brainer. Hence why it doesn’t make this list.

What about the Skeleton Key?

SkeletonKey The Top 5 Daedric artifacts in Skyrim (and the 3 lamest)

It’s kind of funky looking and, frankly, I don’t want Nocturnal pissed at me.

Okay so this item… [*Extreme spoiler warning*] The Skeleton Key may only be obtained through the main Thieves Guild quest. The current Guild Master, Mercer, stole the Skeleton Key from Nocturnal’s Twilight Sepulcher, and she’s very angry about this. Following the Thieves Guild quest will eventually place this unbreakable lock pick in your inventory. It doesn’t instantly open locks, but it doesn’t break, either, which makes expert and master locks a no-snap procedure. However, if you keep the Skeleton Key, you will be unable to finish the main Thieves Guild quest. Keep this in mind.

If you return the Skeleton Key, you get Nocturnal’s Blessing, which offers three options you may change once per day.

What about the Oghma Infinitum?

[*Serious spoiler warning. No, seriously. Like, main quest stuff.*] This is, without question, the best artifact in the entire game.  It grants +5 to all skills within a branch. If you select Magic, it will grant +5 to Illusion, Alteration, Restoration, and Conjuration. Awesome, without question. However, to receive this item, you have to proceed rather deep within the main quest line. You must be at least level 15, and well on your way to finding the Elder Scroll — you’ll be speaking to Septimus Signus. If you ask him about the Elder Scroll, you will be sent to a Dwarven ruin (easily the largest ruin I have encountered, incidentally) to transcribe a lexicon. The quest is pretty straight forward after this, up until you speak to Hermaeus Mora. He will ask you to open a box, warning you that once the box is opened, Signus will die, and you will take his place. If you disagree with this statement, Mora will disappear and you’ve gone to a lot of trouble for nothing. If you agree, you will receive the book. Please note: with most of the daedra quests, agreeing to serve “x” daedra will have little effect on your game.

About Jen Bosier

Jen lives with her husband, daughter and super-villain cats. If she's not reading comics or engrossed in a WH40k novel, she's probably telling you which horror games you should be playing. She's a recovering member of the PC Master Race, and a reluctant Xbox fangirl. You can also find her on the Furious Fourcast.


  1. I’m totally ROFLMAO now after that ‘spoiler alert’ for a main quest that almost everyone do first right after you spoil EVERY GODDAMN DECENT daedra quest, and I don’t think someone will disagree that they are the most saught after and interesting ones.
    Nice job, don’t read this, lol.

  2. The Nightingale bonus changed on you during the patch due to some code swapping. Theres actually 3 different bonuses you can activate, just go back to the Sepulcher and stand on one of the three circles with a moon print. each circle has a different bonus, and you can swap them out once a day.

  3. Maderschramm says:

    Actually getting the Beacon of Meridia is easy since you can simply go to her statue and she’ll place a quest marker on your map where it’s located….

    Also, the Wabbajack seems to do random effects, I’ve seen it summon minions, do massive explosions, etc.

    PC Version of the game

  4. You forgot the cannibalism quest in Markath

    That gets you a neat ring if you sacrifice the priest. Ring allows you to eat corpses to regenerate health.

  5. what about mehruns razor and the black star is better than azuras

  6. Jen, you’ve commented twice on the Azura’s Star questline, but not on the end product. What’s your take on getting Azura’s Star vs The Black Star? Other than the fact that The Black Star, by virtue of being alphabetized according to “T”, appears at the BOTTOM of the list for recharging items, I personally prefer it immensely since Black Soul Gems are so much harder to find…

  7. Wabbajack can instant kill dragon priests so um yeah it’s the best

  8. Ring of Hircine is useful, especially for assassination quests where you don’t want to get a bounty on your head. Turn into a wolf, run into town, slay your mark and leap out. (and perhaps feast on a couple of guests at the wedding :P)

    I used the Oghma Infinium glitch to get myself to level 81, and even with the scaled guards the Werewolf form is still viable (if I set it to Novice, lol). My character is 600HP and regenerates in werewolf form, though some people have reported their wolves don’t regenerate… maybe the Lady Stone effect helps you regen? *shrug*

    Still, if you want to go butchering innocents without raking up a bounty, Ring of Hircine is very useful.

  9. At the nightingale altar thing you can if you have a pc get all three abilitys and I abused the ogmah infinim and I have four level 81 accounts and I LOVE the shield spell breaker

  10. With the Oghma Infinitum, you don’t actually have to do any of the main quest to start it.
    I’m yet to visit the Greybeards yet I visiting Septimus while heading towards the standing stone nearby and he gave me the quest to get the Elder Scroll.

  11. Here’s the thing.

    Spellbreaker wasn’t anywhere on this list.

    When I can simply hold up what looks like a skimpy sattelite dish and suddenly an Elder Dragon’s breath does absolutely nothing to me most of the time, yeah, there is something to be said for a shield of such caliber.

    Also, I think the mace is just… okay. I prefer Volundrung, a beast whose attack power would suggest it is weak, but swings like a Greatsword rather than a Warhammer and sucks a hefty chunk of stamina with each hit.

    I guess when I have a Legendary Daedric bow of Damnation, steals a soul in 20 seconds or less, coupled with 100 Archery and Sneak and the better perks of both, maces become pretty much irrelevant.

    I will grant that when I was led to that Molag Bal quest by a buddy of mine, having never played Oblivion long enough to pick up any artifacts myself, it was a pretty amazing first Daedric experience.

    • Tod Schwartz says:

      Really? best quest?I HATED that molonblarg quest, so damned railroaded.

      Hey buddy, lets investigate a haunted house.
      now you are required to kill him weather your character would or not because there is no ko option and we can’t jump through windows or kick down doors and some locks can’t be picked.

  12. The spellbreaker should be in the top five it has saved me several times from mages and dragons.
    The masque of Clavicus vile is cool and useful but onece you increase your smithing you can make a much better helm and enchant it with something that will help you more in battle so i dont thing that the Masque should be in the top five
    And the Wabajack has the most awsome name of any weapon in the game :P

  13. Why are you bashing Saviour’s Hide? Magic resistance is worth it’s weight in gold for warriors and really hard to get early game.

    Light armoured fighters: get Saviours Hide as soon as possible and combine it with the Lord Stone. That’s 40% magic resist and will make mages and Dragons that much easier.

  14. Mahrunes razor never worked for me. I expected it to do more damage, and an ebony dagger far surpasses it, SERIOUSLY? Only a small chance of killing a target? I wish I’d let him live and got the money. I regret selling my ebony blade, I wanted to go kill Lucan in the riverwood trader

    • Delavari says:

      letting the man live would give you 500 coin.and you can get the ebony blade by pressing” ` ” then typing coc qasmoke. search the chest “standard weopens”then find it.at last to return to skyrim,press” ` ” the type coc riverwood.then youl be at riverwood

  15. Yes The Saviors Hide isn’t cool but if you don’t kill Sinding, get the ring uncursed, then go back and kill him you end up getting both.

  16. okay, the ebony blade is good because one, it swings as fast as a one handed weapon, and 2 because if all i have to do is exchange hits with my enemy and keep him from doing damage by regenerating with every time i hit him, it makes killing things very easy

  17. robby vs toby says:

    is all about the dragon priest mask volsung

  18. One thing the Ebony sword is perhaps the best weapon in the game and you only need to do a difficult but worthwhile thing to do it. You have to get conjuration to level 100 and get the master level raise Zombie. Then just keep killing a unimportant character( the one after the argonian ale quest for example) and get it to surpass just about any weapon. Also it doesn’t need to be patched Mephala (if you actually listen to her) talks of how it not being used warped the blade form its original state so its meant to be one-handed skilled. It isn’t a bad thing either is basically a long fast never-ending sword of doom.

  19. Doomsteel says:

    you might want to give yer head a real good shake ( or kick ) about the Saviors hide quest. WHOOPEE

  20. ebony blade is pretty useful if you get it to its full power saves you from using health potions or good for followers

  21. Travis Rosario says:

    The Spellbreaker shield is easily my favorite Daedric artifact. It completely blocks all breath attacks from dragons, as well as spells. If you get the perk that halves the damage you take from destruction spells, your shield can basically absorb any spell thrown at you.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The mace of molag Bol has a higher damage so you are just commenting the damage you have on them both now instead of the base damage.

  23. Volendrung for any 2 handed character. Fast swing and immense damage. My orc absolutely obliterates everyone with this.

  24. CreeperCretin says:

    Adventure isn’t my Skyrim life. I like settling down, get a spouse, get children (Hearthfire DLC), get a house. I know that sounds like typical real life. But im a kid and I don’t get to do this crap. Its my dream life! And before you say that skyrim is nothing like real life, I CAN DREAM THAT DRAGONS ROAM THE SKY, I CAN DREAM!!!

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