Miraak is the central antagonist of the Dragonborn DLC and was the first-ever Dragonborn. Throughout this DLC,the player will battle with Miraak multiple times in order to prevent his terrible plans from coming to fruition.
When we first jump into a new role-playing game, the amount of freedom we are given can sometimes be overwhelming. There appears to be too much to do and, as we get older and take on more responsibilities, less and less time to do them. This is a problem many players experienced when they booted up Skyrim for the very first time and managed to escape Helgen.
However, with the title being released well over a decade ago now, players have well and truly devoured up all of the content the creators originally provided for the base game; therefore, Bethesda did as all game companies do nowadays, they created DLC as a way of making even more money out of their legions of adoring fans.
One of the most memorable DLCs produced during a couple of years following Skyrim’s release was the Dragonborn DLC. This extra piece of content sees the player traveling to the land of Solstheim on the hunt for a former dragon priest who has seemingly become obsessed by the player’s presence on Skyrim and their title of Dragonborn.
Therefore, this former dragon priest, Miraak, is the central antagonist of this DLC and is easily one of the most interesting characters in the entire game, not just on Solstheim. So, I think it is only right that we find out a little bit more about this ancient ally to the dragons, don’t you? Well, let’s get right into it!
Who is Miraak, Anyway?
Long ago, when the dragons ruled over the race of men, Miraak was one of the few mortals who held a position of power. He served as a dragon priest, a position that involved worshiping his dragon overlords and leading their countless mortal armies into combat.
Miraak was not just any dragon priest; he was one of the first of his number and therefore was very well known by the dragons he served and possibly even respected to some degree within their ranks. It is possible then, for this reason, the dragons decided that he deserved something of a reward for his great service to their kind.
This reward was to gift Miraak with dragon blood, creating the first-ever Dragonborn. Making him capable of not only learning and using the thu’um with inherent ability but also able to absorb the souls of defeated or recently deceased dragons.
Enter Hermaeus Mora
It did not take for the Daedra to notice what an important figure Miraak had become once he was gifted the dragon blood and the title of Dragonborn. In fact, almost before the weather could change, the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora made his move on the great dragon priest.
Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of knowledge and memory, rightly saw Miraak as a mortal that he could exploit in order to gain more power. After all, Mora had been tricking mortals long before Miraak ever came into existence and will continue to do so long after the current Dragonborn has withered away. So, after recognizing Miraak’s unique position of power, Mora came up with a plan to trap him and claim him as his own.
Mora, an expert in reading the desires and personalities of mortals, rightly guessed that Miraak would happily betray his dragon overlords, who he had spent his entire life serving, should he be offered a chance at even more power.
After all, once he got a taste of true power thanks to his dragon overlords, he simply wanted more and more. So, Mora made a rather simple offer to the first Dragonborn, enter into his service and become an agent of the Daedric Prince.
In return, he would share with Miraak some ancient and forbidden knowledge that would see him become the most powerful mortal in all of Tamriel. Of course, since I am writing this guide and you are reading it, Miraak happily accepted.
- Miraak was a dragon priest who served the dragons during their initial reign over mankind. He was the first to be gifted with dragon blood, becoming the first Dragonborn.
- Hermaeus Mora wanted Miraak to be one of his servants, and so concocted a plan to draw him into his web.
- Miraak resides on the island of Solstheim, located to the northeast of Skyrim and northwest of Vvardenfell.
Mora’s Black Books
As cunning as ever, Mora decided that the best way to bring Miraak into his service was to break any loyalty he had to his current masters, the dragons. So, as Mora often does, he gave Miraak one of his black books.
The black books of Hermaeus Mora are another type of Daedric artifact, imbued with the power of the Daedric Prince who created them, much like artifacts such as Nocturnal’s Skeleton Key or the Mace of Molag Bal. The only difference between common Daedric artifacts and these books is that it seems Mora can create them at will, with some predating mankind and others detailing events in the future.
There are seven of these artifacts that the player character can come across on the island of Solstheim, some of which are held under guard by former dragon priests, seemingly also under the spell of Mora.
These books almost always contain incredible knowledge that grants the readers some otherworldly power they could never have even dreamt of. Because of this great power, Mora will easily pull these unlucky mortals into his service to further his needs.
Miraak’s Great Power
Once Miraak came into contact with Mora’s black book, he was instantly transported into Mora’s realm, Apocrypha. This realm of Oblivion holds all of the true locations of the black books and their powers. The physical books read on the mortal plane act more like portals than actual tomes of power.
Therefore, once he was transported into his own particular region of Apocrypha, the former dragon priest was forced to traverse the treacherous landscape of this particular plane of Oblivion until he eventually reached the altar upon which the true black book sat.
Miraak instantly devoured the pages of the black book and came away from the realm of Apocrypha with a power that would, in his eyes, bring the dragons and, therefore, the rest of mankind under his control. This power Mora had granted Miraak was a word of power within the dragon language or thu’um.
This shout would allow Miraak to control the dragons around him, bending their will to his own. As you might imagine, this made Miraak very powerful indeed.
- Mora gave Miraak one of his black books. These Daedric artifacts hold immense and otherworldly power, which Mora offers mortals in order to gain their servitude.
- The power Mora gave to Miraak was the Bend Will shout, allowing Miraak to control dragons’ minds near him.
- Miraak traveled through Mora’s realm of Oblivion, Apocrypha, to read the black book.
As with any great mythical story, a two-fronted rebellion against the dragon overlords soon began. On one side, we had Miraak with his new ability, and on the other, we had the ancient Nordic heroes we have heard so much about during Skyrim’s base game: Hakon One-eye, Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, and Felldir the Old.
However, the two parties were not exactly rebelling for the same cause. You see, Miraak, drunk on power, decided that he was not only going to become the rule of the dragons but of the mortals also. So, when the Nordic heroes came to Miraak and asked him to use his Bend Will shout on Alduin, ultimately destroying the dragon threat to mankind for good, he refused and remained on his island of Solstheim.
Without the help of the other mortals, Miraak was ultimately defeated by the dragons which had once held him in some esteem. As punishment, they burned his temple on Solstheim to the ground and sent one of their more loyal dragon priests, Vahlok, to finish the job.
This dragon priest proved more powerful than Miraak could have suspected as he was brought to his knees before Vahlok, his rebellion burning all around him. However, just before Vahlok could perform his duty and kill the first Dragonborn, Mora intervened and transported Miraak into the realm of Apocrypha.
After Miraak was defeated, the reign of the dragons over Nirn and the realms of men did not last long as Hakon and his comrades ultimately defeated Alduin by sending him into the future, creating the dragon crisis, which the player character must ultimately defeat for good during Skyrim’s base game.
However, before they were defeated, the dragons appointed their loyal agent, Vahlok, as ruler over the island of Solstheim under the condition that he remain there and await Miraak’s return, a certainty in the eyes of many.
Of course, since the Dragonborn DLC actually takes place, Miraak ultimately did return to the realm of the living some time in the fourth era, roughly 4E 201. It would seem that he had to wait all of that time to rebuild his strength up to a point where he deemed himself capable of defeating Vahlok and any new threats he may face.
- Miraak led a rebellion against the dragons but was ultimately defeated by the dragon priest Vahlok.
- Miraak was transported to the realm of Apocrypha before Vahlok could kill him.
- Soon after Miraak’s defeat, Hakon and his allies defeated Alduin and ended the reign of the dragons over mankind.
Miraak’s Cult of Personality
It would seem that Miraak cuts a rather striking figure across the island of Solstheim till this very day, inspiring many from the islands around Solstheim and those within it to worship the fallen dragon priest as some form of God.
The player character first witnesses this ‘cult’ that has sprung up around Miraak after they have installed the DLC and booted up the game for the first time. Mostly, when entering through the front gates of Whiterun, the player will be confronted by two enemies, simply named ‘Cultists.’
These NPCs will confront the player character and shout, “You there! You’re the one they call Dragonborn?” any response the player gives them will result in an answer similar to “Your lies fall on deaf ears, Deceiver! The True Dragonborn comes.
You are but his shadow. When Lord Miraak appears, all shall bear witness. None shall stand to oppose him!” From this, we can therefore see that these cultists not only worship Miraak despite his actual non-presence on the plane of Nirn, but they also somehow know that he is soon to return, and thus measures must be taken in order to prepare the way for him. A staggering feat to achieve from deep inside the planes of Oblivion, if you ask me.
Of course, these two are no match for the player character, but it does serve to activate the Dragonborn questline and asks the player a couple of questions about who this Miraak really is and how he has created such a following even from the realm of Apocrypha.
What Is so Special About Miraak
Many things make Miraak stand out from the crowd in terms of enemies in Skyrim. He is not only the first-ever Dragonborn and a former dragon priest, but he also has myriad followers backing him up. However, we have already talked about all of this; what I want to talk about now is his personality and why he is different from pretty much everyone else you will come up against in Skyrim.
First of all, Miraak can be seen as rather one-dimensional regarding his obsession with more and more power. However, I actually see this personality trait as fitting for Miraak and the time he came from.
In my view, this is the very reason someone like Mora would bring Miraak into his service, and he would know that someone whose ultimate goal is simply the acquisition of power is the easiest to control and, therefore, the best kind of servant. After all, any power which Miraak gains belongs to Mora in the long run.
I also believe that since Miraak is so devoted to gaining more and more power, he is able to develop a deeper character arc than we may expect in the beginning. I say this because when we actually get to speak with Miraak, we see that he has a clear and deep-rooted inferiority complex.
He is so concerned that someone else (the player character) could also be a Dragonborn that he has to compare himself to the player, stating that he has killed and absorbed many more dragons than the player and that he could have killed Alduin himself “easily” should he have wanted to.
His ignorant self-belief also leads him to think that he is not actually under the spell of Mora and that he is only residing in Apocrypha out of his own decisions, not because it is Mora’s will. This could also be the reason that Apocrypha has not driven Miraak mad in the search for knowledge like it does so many others. Therefore, this same arrogance and obsession with power sets Miraak apart in the world of Skyrim.
- Miraak has a cult of followers who will confront the player at any point after the completion of the quest “The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.”
- Miraak can resist the maddening qualities of Apocrypha due to his overwhelming lust for power.
- Miraak’s ‘Cultist’ followers are one of the main enemy types in the Dragonborn DLC.
Quests Involving Miraak
As the main antagonist of an entire DLC, you would be right in guessing that Miraak or his influence features heavily in the Dragonborn questline.
The first time the player will hear the name ‘Miraak’ will be in the dialogue with the cultists who have come to slay the ‘false’ Dragonborn. Once these two followers have been killed, the player can loot a note off of their bodies which instructs them to kill the player in order to “please Miraak.” Once the player reads this note, the quest ‘Dragonborn’ will begin, and the player will be instructed to make the journey to the island of Solstheim.
To do this, follow the quest marker, which will bring you to the Windhelm docks. Here, the player will find a couple of ships docked at port. An NPC by the name of Gjalund Salt-Sage will be on one of these boats. Talking to him will give the player an option to pay 250 gold for safe passage to the island in question.
Once the player actually arrives on this new island, they will have to travel around the small spit of land called Raven Rock, searching for anyone who can help direct you in your quest to find this mysterious Miraak. Eventually, the player will find an NPC who will inform them of Miraak’s recent activity on the island, taking over the All-Maker Stones.
These stones are not only important locations in Solstheim due to the power which emanates from them, but they are also central to the Skaal faith, the presiding religion in Solstheim. These standing stones serve a purpose similar to the standing stones in Skyrim but with a religious element thrown into the mix.
After learning all of this and witnessing the people’s distress over Miraak’s actions, the player character will find a renewed reason to hunt down this Miraak and search for his temple in order to solve this issue for the people of Solstheim.
The Temple of Miraak
As the player journeys to the Temple of Miraak, found in the very center of the map as it was built there purposely to hold central authority, they will begin to see signs of Miraak’s true power.
Not only will the player begin to see more and more dragon skeletons as they approach the temple, but they will also see enthralled islanders helping to rebuild the temple under some kind of trance, placing them in service to Miraak somehow.
The player will have to battle their way through a couple of these enthralled servants until they meet a Skaal woman named Frea. When the player first approaches her, she will attempt to help some of her enthralled people break free from Miraak’s control; however, this will be to no avail.
After this, you will need to talk a little with Frea in order for her to give you a rather long-winded exposition dump about everything going with Miraak and the people of Solstheim. Eventually, however, after you make your way through the temple, the player will come across one of Mora’s black books.
This one will be entitled ‘Black Book: Waking Dreams.’ Activating this artifact will then immediately transport the player into the realm of Oblivion known as Apocrypha, wherein Miraak will sneak attack the player, forcing them to their knees in some quasi-cutscene, at the end of which Miraak will ride off on a dragon and instruct his minions to transport the player back to the mortal realm.
At the Summit of Apocrypha
After a couple more filler missions and some plot development regarding the Skaal people, the final battle between Miraak and the most recent Dragonborn will be set up and ready.
After the player has battled their way through this quest and Storn Crag-Strider has sacrificed himself to Hermaeus Mora, the player must journey through the realm of Apocrypha in order to finally battle the first Dragonborn. However, don’t expect this to be another easy boss battle.
After all, Miraak needs the player’s soul to fully heal and have enough power to return to the mortal realm and enact his plans, so he will put up one Oblivion of a fight.
- Miraak is first met during the ‘Temple of Miraak’ quest, where he breaks the player down to their knees and rides off on a dragon.
- Miraak has the power to enthrall people to do his bidding throughout Solstheim.
- Miraak wishes to kill the player character in order to absorb his soul. As a Dragonborn, the player would have a very powerful soul that would allow Miraak to return to Solstheim.
I think of the final battle with Miraak as something very similar to the final battle with Legate Lanius in Fallout New Vegas. Not only is Miraak very tough and equipped with some very good gear, but he also has some unique abilities and scripting on his side.
As with all great boss battles, the player’s usual tricks might not work on Miraak. For example, certain Daedric weapons, which I have certainly used in the past to change the tide of a battle, may simply not work on Miraak. For example, items such as Mehrunes’ Razor simply do not have its one-hit kill ability on Miraak, no matter how many times you strike him with the dagger. The Wabbajack is also not effective against the first Dragonborn.
It is also important to note that the player cannot use certain spells and shouts against Miraak. Things such as Unrelenting Force and the Paralysis spell/potion simply have no effect on him.
Miraak also benefits from a host of perks, each of which would make him slightly more difficult to deal with, but combined, surely make him a real handful. These perks include:
- Augmented Shock
- Critical Chance
- Fighting Stance
- Magic Resistance
- Savage Strike
- Extra Damage 2
- Reduce Damage
On top of all these perks, Miraak also has the bonuses his unique armor grants him. These include:
- Miraak’s Mask = Increase Magicka by 40-70 points (un-lootable).
- Miraak’s Staff = Sprays writhing tentacles on the ground, causing poison damage.
- Miraak’s Gloves = Adds 5% to the dragon breath and spell absorption of Miraak’s Robes.
- Miraak’s Robes = Absorb 15% of Magicka from dragon breath and spells.
- Miraak’s Boots = Adds 5% to the dragon breath and spell absorption of Miraak’s Robes.
- Miraak’s Sword = Absorb 15 points of stamina.
When fighting Miraak, there are a couple of things the player should be aware of that differ from every other enemy they have faced thus far in their Skyrim playthrough. First of all, he has the ability to summon poison tentacles out of the ground, which, should the player make contact with them, hurt the player greatly and inflict poison damage.
Miraak is also known to flee from combat should his health reach below a certain point. He will almost always return to the central battle area and use his thu’um to call a dragon down to him. He will then kill said dragon, absorbing its soul, thus returning him to full health.
Alternatively, Miraak may use shouts such as Become Ethereal and Whirlwind Sprint to become immune to any, and all attacks the player might hurl at him whilst he attempts to regain some health.
He may also, at times, use the Bend Will shout to call multiple dragons down at once to aid him in his combat with the player, forcing the last Dragonborn to pull their focus away from Miraak to deal with this new threat. Should the player manage to kill these dragons, Miraak will absorb their souls right away, displaying that his absorption abilities far outrank that of the player.
There is also the possibility that Miraak will cycle through a range of shouts that the player may have in their own arsenal. Shouts such as Fire Breath, Frost Breath, and Cyclone, for example.
- Miraak has the widest and most challenging combat scripting in the entirety of Skyrim, thus making him a difficult opponent at even the highest levels.
Miraak will call dragons to his side to both fight the player and use them as sacrifices to absorb their soul and gain some health.
- The player can ultimately kill Miraak, although it may take several cycles of near-death and recovery.
So, there you have it, a complete guide to the first-ever Dragonborn and one of the most important people in the history of Tamriel. Miraak is certainly one of the best antagonists in the game, giving the player a unique and interesting challenge to overcome throughout the Dragonborn DLC as well as the final battle.
For me, Dragonborn is probably the best of the Skyrim DLCs. It offers a look at a completely different culture and people, helping to expand the horizons of players who consider Skyrim their first Elder Scrolls game. So, with this in mind, I hope you did enjoy this guide to Miraak, and it helps the next time you decide to take a little holiday over to Solstheim. Happy exploring!
Question: What race was Miraak?
Answer: Miraak was born as a Nord on the island of Solstheim during the Merethic Era.
Question: How do I absorb dragon souls without Miraak stealing them?
Answer: First of all, there is no way to stop Miraak from this without manipulating the game mechanics a little bit. However, you do get all stolen souls back from him once he is killed at the end of the Dragonborn questline. Alternatively, killing a dragon over a body of water seems to stop Miraak from collecting their souls.
Question: What level should I be at to start the Dragonborn DLC?
Answer: The game does not have a level limit to start this DLC. However, most players recommend that you are at least level 10 before beginning it. It will be harder at this level but very possible to complete.
Question: How long is the Dragonborn DLC?
Answer: This DLC can be completed within 10-30 hours without factoring in the side quests and exploring which can take place.