A Daedra’s Best Friend Guide

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Daedric quests are some of the most exciting and iconic quests in Elder Scrolls. This is because of their framing devices of the player interacting with one of the charismatic Daedric Princes and because they tend to reward the player with unique artifacts.

The quests also have a lot of variety in what players are tasked with doing. The possibilities often seem endless, from desecrating shrines to sacrificing a priest to a cult of cannibals.

To make them even better, your completion of one of these quests is a Daedric Artifact. These items are some of the most powerful in all of The Elder Scrolls, and each Daedric Prince has a number of unique items they can possibly gift to their champions. From unique pieces of armor and weapons with devastating effects to books of forbidden knowledge, helping out a Daedric Prince is always worth your while.

In Skyrim, there are 15 of these quests in total and they brought some innovations from their previous appearances in the series. The biggest change is that they can be started in a variety of ways rather than the player being tasked with traveling to the shrines of each Daedric Prince to start them.

This makes you never know when a quest will end up having the influence of a Daedric Prince. It could be an estranged child of a Jarl saying that they heard a strange voice or even a tribe of Orcs that have fallen on hard times.

Out of all the Daedric quests in Skyrim, however, one of the most well-remembered ones is A Daedra’s Best Friend which I will explain more in this A Daedra’s best friend guide.

Quest Details Up Front: 

  • Quest Location: Near Falkreath
  • Quest Giver: Barbas
  • Requirements: Player Level 10
  • Length of Quest: 20-30 minutes.
  • Difficulty: 4

Quest Synopsis

Quest Synopsis

This quest sees the Dragonborn being approached by Barbas, a talking dog that requests their help with getting in the good graces of the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile. After agreeing, Barbas leads the Dragonborn to a shrine of Clavicus Vile, where they are tasked with obtaining the Prince’s artifact, the Rueful Axe.

After completing a dungeon to get the axe and return, the Dragonborn is given the option of either killing Barbas to keep the axe or sparing the dog to receive a different artifact, the Masque of Clavicus Vile, instead.

Brief Walkthrough

Step One: To begin this quest, you have to talk to Barbas near Falkreath. He can either be found to the city’s east on the road or by talking to the city’s guard or blacksmith Lod.

Step Two: Follow Barbas to Haemar’s Shrine between Ivarstead and Fort Neugrad.

Step Three: Speak with Clavicus Vile and agree to obtain the Rueful Axe.

Step Four: Travel to Rimerock Burrow and retrieve the axe.

Step Five: Return to Clavicus Vile and kill Barbas to keep the axe or spare Barbas to receive the Masque of Clavicus Vile.

Extended Walkthrough

You may come across Barbas and start this quest simply by traveling around Falkreath after reaching level 10. However, if you don’t, you’ll want to start it by talking to the blacksmith Lod. If you speak to him before speaking to Barbas, he will mention wanting a dog and seeing one nearby.

This will not only make finding Barbas much easier, but if you return to Lod afterward, he will pay you a small amount of gold based on your level as a reward. Once you find Barbas, he will tell you that he has fallen out of favor with his master, the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile.

Before you follow Barbas, however, make sure that you stock up on cure disease potions and resist magic potions if you’re on a greater difficulty.

You will then have to follow Barbas to Haemar’s Shame to fight your way to Clavicus Vile’s Shrine. The entrance to the cave is just between Ivarstead and Fort Neugrad and south of the Throat of the World. The cave’s entrance first leads to an area known as Haemar’s Cavern.

Haemar’s Cavern

Haemar's Cavern

The first room of the cavern has wooden scaffolding with a Vampire Thrall on it that is easy to take out with a ranged stealth attack. Otherwise, you’ll have to rush him and take damage from his hunting bow as you approach.

If you do get spotted right as you come around the corner into the cave, you can typically back up around the corner, and he will forget you’re there pretty quickly after he is dead head up to the top of the scaffolding and loot the chest up there.

Then, head to the tunnel on the left side of the room. The tunnel will eventually bring you to a wooden staircase, with a Vampire Fledgling turned away from it. Watch out for the pressure plate at the top of the stairs and kill the vampire however you prefer. Continue through the tunnel the vampire was facing, and you will eventually come to a large cavern.

There is a ridge and scaffolding in this cavern that you can stay on for ranged attacks, or you can rush the vampires that are down below. The room spawns with a wizard vampire, a two-handed vampire thrall, and a one-handed vampire. Taking them out shouldn’t be difficult, and if you use a melee build, you can lead them back into the tunnel you came through so that you can’t get surrounded.

After you’ve killed the enemies, go onto the other wood scaffolding, where there is a chest you can loot. There is also an Alchemy table by the staircase up in case you have any ingredients you want to brew real quick. Follow the next tunnel to another cavern with a big pit at its center. Look to your right, and you’ll see a Vampire Fledgling.

To your left, there will be a Vampire’s Thrall with a two-handed weapon that you’ll want to take out quickly if you use light armor. There is also a vampire at the bottom of the pit that you can hit with ranged spells from above or go down the ramps to reach.

There is a copy of the book Response to Bero’s Speech on the desk by that vampire. Make sure you give that a read to get a free Destruction level.

Then, head to the south side of the pit, a third ramp leading to yet another tunnel. Going through that tunnel will take you to the next area of the cave, Haemar’s Shame. Before you head in, though, go back to the upper level of the cavern and go through the opening to the south. This will take you to a room with a few helpful health potions as well as a locked chest for you to get some more loot from.

Haemar’s Shame

Haemar's Shame

Once you’re in Haemar’s Shame, Follow that tunnel, and it will take you to another big room with a pillar in the center of it. For an unclear reason, this room holds the only Frostbite Spider in the entire dungeon, which should be easy enough for you to take out.

Once it is killed, go through the room and go to the right around the pillar, where you’ll find another tunnel. That tunnel will take you to a room filled with cages and an Arcane Enchanter. The room has no enemies in it, and there are some soul gems worth picking up next to the enchanter, and there is a chest directly across from it.

That room then leads directly into another exceptionally tall and narrow space. Once you walk down on the right side of the room and turn around the corner, there is a Vampire Thrall that will use a sword and shield.

Take him out however you choose, and continue back down the room, and there will be a tunnel to your right. That tunnel takes you to a cavern with some Vampire Fledglings and a Master Vampire. Go down on the southern side of the cavern, and you will have arrived at the shrine of Clavicus Vile. Interact with the shrine, and you will talk to him.

As you talk to Clavicus Vile, he will agree to accept Barbas back if you can retrieve an artifact of his known as the Rueful Axe. Clavicus then tells that player that it has a mage named Sebastian Lort who approached the Prince for help after his daughter was turned into a werewolf. In response, Clavicus Vile mockingly gave him the axe for him to use to kill his daughter.

This drove Lort insane, so Clavicus Vile needs the Dragonborn to go and retrieve it for him. Once you accept this deal, he will send you to Rimerock Burrow. You can either take Barbas with you or talk to him and tell him to stay put next to the statue.

Before you leave, however, go behind the statue to find a chest as well as an entrance to the cave blocked by iron bars. There is a chain just to the right of this final tunnel to lower the bars and leave, making returning to the shrine much easier.

Rimerock Burrow

Rimerock Burrow

If you are playing on a higher difficulty or have a particularly vulnerable build, you’ll want to grab some resist fire and frost potions for this part of the quest. Rimerock Burrow is a gave that can be found in the northwest section of Haafingar hold, and it is a pretty short dungeon.

However, the dungeon can be a tad difficult to access. To reach the cave entrance, fast travel to the Thalmor Embassy or any destination close to it. Go around the right side of the embassy and circle around behind it on the narrow cliff path.

You may get attacked by some Thalmor, and if you do, it is best to take care of them so that they can’t knock you off your horse or the path.

Then keep going down the cliff face once you get to the left side of the embassy, and you will see a road below. Drop down onto that road, and it will take you right past the dungeon. The road will also take you past a dragon wall and the Shrine of Meridia, which are worth stopping at along the way if you haven’t found them yet.

Once the road takes you near the quest marker, you will want to turn right to go down the mountain on a subtle path, just a little before Pinefrost Tower. The slope down is gradual, so you should be able to make it down without taking any damage. The path will take you to a crude wooden bridge, and just beyond that will be Rimerock Burrow.

Inside Rimerock Burrow, you will find a tunnel leading to a large cavern raised on the right side and even taller in the back. To your right will be a flame atronach behind a pillar. If you use ranged attacks, you can use the pillar to repeatedly break the atronach’s line of sight and avoid its attacks.

If you use a melee build, you’ll have to take the hits. The higher back of the cavern is the home of Sebastian Lort. Lort is a pretty powerful mage, so you should expect to take a lot of hits from spells as well as having to work around his ward if you are a spellcaster yourself.

This makes him the easiest to kill with a heavy-hitting physical weapon such as a great axe or a crossbow, but the fight is doable with magic.

Once you’ve killed Sebastian head up the stairs on the left side of the cavern to find the Rueful Axe with some spell scrolls next to it, the back of the cavern has another tunnel that will take you to Lort’s living quarters. In it, there is a bed, a chest with leveled loot, and a handful of books to read as well.

That is all there is to the dungeon, however, so once you loot that room, head back out the way you came, and you can travel back to Clavicus Vile’s shrine. Just make sure to go to the entrance you opened as you left so that you don’t have to go through the entire dungeon again to reach him.

The Decision

Upon returning to Clavicus Vile with the Rueful Axe, you will be given a choice. Clavicus Vile will gleefully thank you for your help, but before he accepts Barbas back with open arms, he offers to let the Dragonborn keep the axe for themself. All they have to do is kill Barbas with it.

Barbas does not want this to happen, and if the player refuses to, they are instead given the Masque of Clavicus Vile and some annoyed retorts from the Daedric Prince himself. Barbas then joined Clavicus on the shrine in statue form.

Quest Rewards

A Daedra’s Best Friend does not reward the player with any gold, so the only rewards given to you are whichever artifact you decide to get.

The Rueful Axe

The Rueful Axe

Type: Battleaxe

Base Damage: 22

Weight: 10

Base Value: 1183

Upgrade Ingredient: Ebony Ingot

The Rueful Axe is a decent battleaxe, but there are better options in the game for two-handed fighters. Its unique ability is that alongside its damage, it deals 20 points of Stamina damage, which is okay against melee fighters but not very useful against most creatures, mages, or ranged fighters.

Masque of Clavicus Vile

Masque of Clavicus Vile

Type: Heavy Armor

Slot: Head

Armor: 26

Weight: 7

Base Value: 1277

Upgrade Ingredient: Cannot be upgraded

The Masque of Clavicus Vile is a solid helmet for all characters, although it is not very useful in combat. Its unique ability grants the Dragonborn 5% extra Magicka regeneration, 20% better prices, and +10 to Speechcraft.

This makes the helmet very useful for carrying around with you to put it on before you do any buying or selling. Still, the low bump to Magicka regeneration is negligible because it is much easier to get a boost regardless of your armor preferences.


Question: Which artifact is better to take?

Answer: Neither of the two artifacts is must-haves for most characters, but it will mostly depend on your character’s build. The Rueful Axe isn’t a bad choice if you’re looking for a magical battleaxe, but the Masque of Clavicus Vile can help any character get cheaper items. Suppose you are going for the Oblivion Walker achievement/trophy. In that case, you’ll also want to avoid taking the Rueful Axe as only the Masque of Clavicus Vile counts towards completion for some reason.

Question: Can you give Barbas to Lod?

Answer: No, it is not an option to give Barbas to Lod. If you return to Lod after talking to Barbas, the only option is to tell him that the dog was not worth the trouble, resulting in him giving you 25 gold.

Question: Is Barbas a Daedra?

Answer: Barbas is the long-time companion of Clavicus Vile and is a shape-shifting Daedra but not a Daedric Prince. He frequently takes the shape of a dog but is also known to sometimes appear instead as a Scamp that goes by Creeper. How he decides which form to take seems to be up to personal preference or where he wants to try and blend in.

Question: What is the best Daedric Quest in Skyrim?

Answer: My favorite Daedric Quest in Skyrim is The Taste of Death. The quest sees the Dragonborn helping Namira satisfy one of her cannibal cults. The quest isn’t very mechanically interesting, but it does give you the Ring of Namira that lets you eat dead enemies to heal and is especially helpful when playing in survival mode to always have food nearby.

A Daedra’s Best Friend Guide: Conclusion

A Daedra’s Best Friend is one of the highlight side quests in all of Skyrim and is more than worth playing through regardless of whether or not you want to unlock Oblivion Walker. The other Daedric Prince quests are also worth checking out if you wish to gather some of the most powerful items in the game or you want to interact with their fun personalities.

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