Nothing is worse than a question left unanswered—the final scenes in Shutter Island and Inception spring to mind. We, as viewers and gamers want finality and conclusion; we crave answers and rear against any writer or developer who dares to keep a definitive answer from us.
The Elder Scrolls franchise has always been great at posing questions to the player and somehow answering said question further down the line, whether we notice it or not. Sometimes they hide these answers in dastardly places, such as books and even the developer code files in the back end of their games.
With this being said, there are a few questions still left to be answered, questions posed in the fifth edition of the franchise that Bethesda is still keeping to itself. However, there has been one question that has driven more people to Reddit forums than any other, and this is the topic of today’s article – The Ebony Warrior.
Setting the Scene
Most Skyrim players can easily close out the majority of content in Skyrim before they reach level 60. Others find grinding through the higher character levels in the game a little boring for one playthrough and choose to switch it up well before they reach level 80.
If this sounds like you, then the Ebony Warrior might be someone you haven’t come into contact with yet.
Once the player reaches level 80 (the previous max level before the Dawngaurd DLC) in the base game and has already downloaded the Dragonborn DLC, a figure fully dressed in Ebony armor will appear in one of Skyrim’s major cities.
This hulking, towering presence will insist on fighting the Dragonborn, stating that you are possibly the last true warrior who is skilled enough to send him to Sovngarde like the true warrior they are. His tone is respectful but determined, a real oddity in the game.
Outside of this interaction and eventual battle, very little is actually known about the Ebony Warrior until now.
What is even more interesting about the Ebony Warrior is his size. While I already mentioned his hulking presence, this is something worth talking a little more about.
You see, the Ebony Warrior is not just broad or large; he is a unique entity in the game. His game files show that Bethesda designed a custom character script just for him, allowing him to walk around a fully 25% taller than the normal height limit in the game.
After the Ebony Warrior says his piece, he will leave the city in question and wait for his ‘Last Vigil.’ This will put a marker down in the player’s quest log somewhere near the southwestern edge of the Velothi Mountains.
As soon as the player arrives at this location, the Ebony Warrior will commence his attack straight away, leaving no time for discussion or further information gathering.
Ebony Warrior Stats
As I have already mentioned, the Ebony Warrior stands a full 25% taller than the largest normal humanoid height commonly allowed in Skyrim, but this is the least of your concerns. Let’s take a look at the full stats list for this Godlike warrior:
With these base stats, the Ebony Warrior already stands head and shoulders above every other antagonist or creature in the game that the Dragonborn may face, even Miraak. However, this isn’t all you need to worry about.
Keep in mind that these stats will also rise to match the player’s level should you fight him after surpassing level 80.
Resistance and Immunities
|Immune and may reflect back on the player
On top of all this, he is also immune to a wide range of spells and shouts, resisting their effects entirely. To list them all would take too long, but here are some of the main ones that ordinarily could help you win such a daunting duel:
- Vampiric Grip
- Ice Form
- Bend Will
Of course, much like the player character, the Ebony Warrior will enter your duel with a full accompaniment of perks that he has presumably earned over many hundreds of battles. Take a look at this massive list, and start shaking in your boots now.
|Fists of Steel
|Hack and Slash
|Tower of Strength
While looking at all these stats may be daunting, by the time you interact with the Ebony Warrior, your perk list should be head and shoulders better than this. However, knowing this doesn’t make the battle any easier.
After fighting the Ebony Warrior numerous times over the years, I found that only a few of these perks are anything to be minorly concerned over.
Therefore, focus your efforts on either thwarting or countering perks such as Deadly Bash, Regeneration, Paralyzing Strike, and Power Bash. Each of these perks ruined my day at some point during our many battles.
The Ebony Warrior is not just some simple sellsword with a couple of fancy dueling moves up his sleeve; he is as well-rounded as the Dragonborn and has a response for everything you could possibly through at him – even Dragon Shouts.
With this in mind, here is a list of all the possible shouts and spells that the EW could throw at you:
|Conjure Storm Atronach
While he has very seldom used the Conjure Storm Atronach and Command Daedra spells on me during my playthroughs, keep in mind that he is capable of such.
Lastly, we must discuss the massive amount of incredibly highly leveled equipment that the Ebony Warrior likes to lug around with him.
Unlike other enemies or characters in the game, he is known to have an almost strategic set of equipment and miscellaneous items on his person that culminate in a very well-thought-out character set. Let’s have a look.
|Ebony Armor of Regeneration
|40% Health Regernation
|Ebony Boots of Frost Suppression
|50% Frost Resistance
|Ebony Gauntlets of Extreme Wielding
|35% One-Handed attack damage
|Ebony Helmet of Water Breathing
|Infinite Water Breathing
|Ebony Shielf of Fire Suppression
|50% Fire Resistance
|Ebony Bow of Winter
|30 Points Frost damage to Health and Stamina
|Ebony Sword of the Vampire
|Absorb 25 Health points
|Ring of Peerless Wielding
|40% One-Handed Attack Damage
|Necklace of Shock Suppression
|50% Shock Resistance
All of the items found on the Ebony Warriors person after you defeat him. He uses some of these items during your duel.
- Black Soul Gem
- Daedra Heart
- Human Heart
- One flawless gem of each type
- Vigorous Healing potions
When you finally go up against the Ebony Warrior and all the gear I have already listed, you are going to want to proceed with a firm strategy in mind should you wish to have any success. This is not a fight that you will win your first time out, so be patient and learn from each exchange.
Here is a list of tactics or strategic ideas that I have used in the past to great success that may or may not suit your character build.
1. Damage Tank
We already know that the EW has an insane amount of health and an incredible array of enchantments, spells, and potions that he can use to continually top up his health bar, making every other swing of the player’s sword basically useless.
However, should you bring good enough gear of your own to the party, there still should be some attrition rate here.
In this strategy, the player doesn’t really have to do anything fancy or game-breaking to get the win. Simply turn up to the Last Vigil location with some of the best armor, weapons, and enchanted items the game has to offer (something you should have in abundance by level 80) and a lot of health potions in your back pocket.
Once here, start swinging and use those hard-earned skills you should have accumulated over your 80 levels to outpoint the blade master, hitting him cleanly more than he hits you.
Both of you will deal significant damage to each other throughout the battle, resulting in copious healing potions and spells. However, if your damage attrition rate is higher than his, you will eventually emerge victorious.
2. Run and Gun
There is something to be said for avoiding as much damage as possible for as long as possible when coming up against an enemy that could take half your health away with one swing of his enchanted sword.
Therefore, this tactic has the player running around the slopes of the Velothi mountains, bow in hand, picking the Ebony Warrior off slowly over time.
While he will routinely catch you or knock you down with one of his many spells and/or shouts, you will be able to take a significant chunk of health away from him before you get bored of all the running and decide to get close and personal.
One of the best and easiest ways to defeat the Ebony Warrior is with a heavily specked-out stealth character class.
If your version of the Dragonborn has a high enough Sneak skill to unlock the Perfect Touch perk, you can sneak up on the Ebony Warrior and steal his armor and weapons right off his person before the battle even begins.
While he will still be a tremendously difficult fight even without any clothes on, the difference in his offensive capabilities will be night and day.
You can also combine this stealth approach with the run-and-gun method by picking him off with arrows while crouched and hidden, earning your shots the stealth damage multiplier.
4. Jarrin Root
While the Ebony Warrior confronts the player honorably and wishes to engage with you in combat due to a respectable desire to fall on the battlefield as a true warrior should, there is nothing in the game that suggests the Dragonborn should behave equally as honorable.
Therefore, if you don’t really care about keeping this a clean fight, I recommend Jarrin Root poisoning. This unique alchemy ingredient is given to the player at the end of the Dark Brotherhood quest line and is one of the most dangerous substances in the game, dealing over 200 points of health damage when consumed.
Suppose the player keeps hold of this ingredient and subsequently stacks their Alchemical abilities. In that case, they can combine this root with myriad other substances to create the one true Damage Health potion, capable of dealing over 6000 points of health damage in one go.
Once acquired, simply coat your blade with the poison and hit the Ebony Warrior with a deadly blow, killing him instantly.
Who is the Ebony Warrior?
As mentioned at the start of this article – there are just some questions that the Skyrim developers over at Bethesda do not want to give us the answers to. The Ebony Warrior is probably the most debated example of this in the history of the franchise, with fans from all over the world continually debating his true identity to this day.
It’s easy to see why; I mean, his entire character archetype is one big mystery. The areas of interest surrounding the Ebony Warrior all seem to come down to these facts:
- He is a Redgaurd and yet is obsessed with dying well and making it to the Nord’s only afterlife dimension called Sovngaurd. As a Redguard, he should seek their afterlife dimension named The Far Shores.
- The EW is the only non-Nord in the game (apart from the player) who can Dragon Shout.
- When he dies, he drops a Human and Daedra’s heart.
Due to all of these rather annoying red hearings, a lot of fans believe the Ebony Warrior to be some kind of God from the Redgaurd pantheon or a Redgaurd version of the Dragonborn. However, some of that just doesn’t line up for me. In my opinion, the story of the Ebony Warrior goes far deeper than that.
While I may have only jumped into TES franchise with Oblivion, I have served my time and earned the right to discuss these games by going back into the franchise and experiencing the masterclass of early game design that was Morrowind.
In playing this game, you will eventually begin to hear tales about a mad Orc roaming around the countryside, taking on and killing anyone foolish enough to confront him. The player is then severely warned to stay clear.
Of course, we must ignore this warning entirely and immediately tack down this warrior, only to discover a heavily armored Orc who goes by the name Umbra. Yes, that Umbra – the best sword in the Oblivion game.
You see, after comparing Morrowind’s version of Umbra (Oblivion also has one) and the Ebony Warrior, you begin to see a lot of correlation. Umbra in Morrowind has become so dedicated and enthralled by his Daedric artifact that he has long forgotten his own name, identifying himself by his equipment’s name.
He has also been through so much war and turbulence that the time has come for him to finally find a warrior skilled enough to beat him and give him the death he deserves. Sound familiar?
The Oblivion version of Umbra is the same; their love for the weapon has taken them over, and they simply identify as Umbra. The player must face off against yet another heavily armored opponent to wrestle Umbra back for Clavicus Vile.
Of course, the player then gets to keep the weapons as a show of thanks from the Daedric prince.
While the sword itself is not present in Skyrim’s base game. However, as of March 2019, one can purchase it from the Creation Club for 500 credits.
As part of this purchase, the player not only gets the weapon added to the game like most creation club purchases, but you also get a unique dungeon to explore and a boss battle at the end before you can liberate Umbra.
This location, named ‘Champions Rest,’ is located within a stone’s throw of the Ebony Warrior’s Last Vigil, and when you proceed through the dungeon, you will discover the ghostly figure of the ‘Champion’ in question.
This figure, standing 25% taller than all other humanoid creatures in the game, with their own specific game script, will be glad from head to toe in Ebony armor and will be just as difficult to defeat in combat as the Ebony Warrior himself.
With all of this information, I cannot see how the Ebony Warrior we come up against in the base game is not related to Umbra, Clavicus Vile, and the other champions from previous Elder Scrolls games.
Question: Can You Fight the Ebony Warrior before You Reach Level 80?
Answer: You can fight the Ebony Warrior at any time with the help of console commands. In the base game, you will need to reach level 80 before the NPC even spawns in one of the towns.
Question: Who is the Toughest Enemy in Skyrim?
Answer: Throughout the game, the hardest enemies the player comes up against are all humanoid. The top of this pile by quite a margin is the Ebony Warrior. Not only are his base stats very impressive, but they also increase with the player if they pass level 80 before fighting him.
Question: What Triggers the Ebony Warrior?
Answer: For the Ebony Warrior to spawn and then search out the Dragonborn, you must reach level 80.
Elder Scrolls Skyrim Ebony Warrior: Conclusion
While Skyrim has been with us for some time non, players are still not able to fully agree upon everything in the game. This is probably something the developers intended, and I am of no doubt that the correct answer is out there somewhere in the hills of Skyrim, waiting for some incredibly addicted soul to stumble across it.
The Ebony Warrior is one of these secrets that does not have a correct explanation or understanding amongst the community, resorting to myriad arguments across Reddit and TES-dedicated forums.
However, in my opinion, it is clear to see that the Ebony Warrior is in some way associated with the Daedra Calvicus Vile and his all-powerful weapon, Umbra. Whether you agree with me or not, I hope that this theory has at least piqued your interest in the mystery.