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Nordic ruins dot the landscape of Skyrim and will be the dungeons you’ll explore the most when playing this game. Inside lay bandits, frost spiders, traps, and worst of all, draugr. These undead Nordic warriors won’t make your life easy, and some of them even possess the Voice, just like you.
If you can get past all the dangers within, great treasure awaits you. Most will be valuable weapons, armor, and potions, but rarest of all, are the Words of Power. Skyrim’s trademark shouting system requires that you obtain these Words of Power before you’re able to use the Voice effectively.
There are many Words of Power out there, with each shout consisting of three individual words, so you’ll want to get every single one of them. As you may have guessed, Silverdrift Lair is home to one such word, so we’re going to go and get it.
Silverdrift Lair is one of the shorter Nordic ruins in Skyrim you’ll explore, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier. It has more traps than the average tomb. From one Dragonborn to another, let me show you how to get in and out without joining the dead you’ll find in Silverdrift’s halls.
Silverdrift Lair is southeast of Dawnstar, but you’ll have to go around some mountains if coming from that direction.
I prefer to head to Silverdrift Lair from Blizzard Rest. It’s a giant camp with one giant and two mammoths, and Silverdrift Lair is to the northeast with nothing getting in the way.
The Gray Cowl of Nocturnal
If you have the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal mod installed or the Anniversary Edition of Skyrim, you’ll have to come here as one of the steps to obtain the eponymous cowl. It’s a pretty cool questline, so I don’t want to spoil the details for you.
- Disarm Word of Power
- Words and Philosophy (Two-handed skill book)
- Thief (Pickpocket skill book)
- Ancestral Sword of Clan Ice-Blade (If They Gray Cowl of Nocturnal is active)
Two bandits stand guard outside the entrance to Silverdrift Lair. Kindly send them to Sovngarde (Or wherever bandits go in the afterlife) before making your way inside.
There must’ve been one party going on here because empty wine bottles are everywhere. All they’re missing is some skooma. Someone must’ve crashed the occasion since all the bandits inside are dead. Let’s find out who or what did this to these poor lads just trying to have some drinks.
Make your way down the corridor to come across the corpse of another dead bandit. Just around the corner is a draugr, no doubt what killed the bandits who were here. There’s a strong chance that this draugr and several others inside Silverdrift Lair will be deathlords, even if you’re below level 30 (When they typically start to spawn), so be careful. Past the bandit is a barred wooden door, so leave it for now.
Past the draugr is an iron door. Open it up and head through to go inside the next chamber. There’s another dead bandit and a draugr here. Kill him, then walk up to the altar straight ahead to pick up a copy of Words and Philosophy, a two-handed skill book. Pick up the health and magicka potions as well.
Continue through either of the openings and snipe the draugr waiting below by the fire. Head down to the lower level and spin around. There’s an opening to a puzzle room. There’s an oil slick on the ground and a pot hanging above.
There’s a whale pillar and a snake pillar, and the trick is figuring out which handle to pull. If you guess incorrectly, you’ll set off a fire trap. The answer to the puzzle is behind the pot. Look behind it to see the whale emblem. Pull the handle on the whale pillar, and the door to the secret area of Silverdrift Lair will open up.
Head down the winding path and into the secret area. Two draugr will immediately bust out of sarcophaguses. One of them may be yet another deathlord.
Put them back to sleep, then go through the doorway in the far right corner and into a hidden crypt with several more draugr. There are some fire floor traps here, so be careful of those. If you have any companions with you, keep an eye on them.
Companions in Skyrim aren’t too bright, and they will quite literally stand on a pillar of flame and burn themselves to death (Or worse, if you have a dog, they will lay down on a fire pit). There’s an expert-locked chest and a set of armor on a table. Claim your loot before moving on.
In the next section, there are handle pillars in each of the three halls of the crypt. Pull the center handle first to open up a path to a closed-off area with a draugr deathlord that pops out.
Immediately pull the handle again to reseal the path, then use the handle in the left crypt. Doing so will open up the room adjacent to the deathlord. There are some bars in here that you can shoot the draugr through. Even though deathlords can use shouts, this one never does if you’re in this room.
Loot the chest in the room for some randomized goodies. There’s also a couple of coin purses, an iron greatsword, and a random shield (Last time I got Orcish, but before that, Dwarven) in front of the chest.
Open up the center passage again to loot the deathlord (Who may or may not have been using an ebony weapon), then use the final handle on the right. Go down the corridor, make a right, and you’ll come across a barred door. Release it, and you’ll be back in the main chamber with the entrance to the secret area.
Not too shabby for midway dungeon loot, eh? Let’s keep going.
Loot the draugr and bandit corpses and pick open the apprentice-locked chest. Head back upstairs and cross the bridge to the other side. There are two pressure plates up ahead for the two spiked gate traps. Two draugr will be here waiting for you, and one of them is always a deathlord. If you come here at a high enough level, both will be deathlords.
Up ahead is a gate leading to the next area. Look closely at the right pillar near the wooden poles. There’s a handle you need to use to unlock the gate.
Before moving on, be sure to claim the random enchanted helmet sitting on the pillar to your right. Taking it will set off a floor spike trap. Either grab it from the side or use Unrelenting Force to set off the spikes safely and avoid turning yourself into a shishkabob.
Head through the now opened gate and into the next room. There’s a chest with random loot and a potion on a table. There’s an adept-locked gate to your left, but there’s nothing inside. You can pick it if you want the lockpicking experience, though.
Pull the chain to open the gate to the next area but pause before heading through. A battering ram trap automatically activates when you release the gate. Head up the stairs and deal with the draugr deathlord and his companion (Usually a low-level draugr), then head around the corner into the next room. There’s a lone draugr and a chest with some loot here. To the rest of the chest are some skeletal hands. Laying between them is Thief, a pickpocket skill book.
Head downstairs, open up the gate, and cross the caged bridge. Another deathlord blocks your path, but you know how to deal with them by now. Make your way around the corner and prepare yourself for a boss fight.
Go through the iron door, and you’ll hear the word wall calling you. Standing in your way are two opponents. The main boss is usually a draugr death overlord and the other one a standard deathlord. But what’s cool about Silverdrift Lair is the final boss is sometimes a maskless, unnamed Dragon Priest. Even without masks, these guys are still powerful foes.
Whatever the game throws at you, take care of them. Be careful to watch out for the two fire pillar traps in the room. After you’ve taken care of business, walk up to the word wall to learn one of the words for the Disarm shout.
Before leaving the room, check the coffin on the upper left side of the chamber. There’s a random helmet inside, and sometimes it’s a great/valuable helm. Head through the iron door to your right and loot the chest at the end of the room.
The loot is random but always high-value stuff, so make sure you don’t miss it. Pull the chain hidden on the left side of the chest to open up the gate in the room. Head down the stairs and activate the door bar, and you will open up the previously barred wooden door at the beginning of the dungeon.
And that’s Silverdrift Lair boys and girls. Head back home to count your spoils.
Is the Disarm Shout Good?
It depends on whether or not you’re playing on Legendary difficulty.
If the answer is no, then my answer is also no. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a helpful ability to have, but there’s no reason trying to disarm your opponent when you can kill them without too much trouble. If you are playing on Legendary difficulty, the Disarm shout has some value. Enemies hit like freight trains, and you start durable as wet scroll paper. Disarming an opponent might save your life.
Bear in mind that one of the words for the Disarm shout is only accessible via the Thieves Guild questline (Which I don’t like since if you roleplay as someone not interested in thieving, you cannot get the entire shout).
Question: Do unnamed Dragon Priest bosses drop any unique loot?
Answer: No. Unnamed Dragon Priests are one of the worst high-level bosses you can face. All they drop is bonemeal and a low amount of gold.
Question: Can I come here and obtain the Disarm shout at a low level?
Answer: Yes, but it’ll be a little tricky. Some of the draugr here may be deathlords even if you’re at a low level. I recommend summoning minions like atronachs, luring the draugr into destruction rune traps, and using sneak ranged attacks as much as possible.
Question: How far into the Thieves Guild questline do I need to go to unlock another word for the Disarm shout?
Answer: You get sent to the location on the sixth quest of the Thieves Guild questline. That’s roughly halfway through. I don’t really like rushing through the quests to obtain the word for a shout I seldom use, but it’s up to you.
Silverdrift Lair Guide: Conclusion
I was surprised at how short of a dungeon Silverdrift Lair is when I came here for the first time. I would’ve liked it there were maybe a little bit more of a backstory here; perhaps it could’ve been the starting point of a quest that leads you into another ruin. Silverdrift is a pretty cool name. Imagine if a Clan Silverdrift was running around in Windhelm or something.
Nevertheless, from a gameplay perspective, it’s a nice bit of fun with some good loot for not too too much effort. It makes for a great dungeon to tackle early in the game if you want decent profit and give yourself an early challenge with the deathlords.
But it is a short dungeon, and we’ve still got plenty of time to do some more exploring. So, offload your loot, and let’s get back into the world of Skyrim for some more adventures.