In the six years since its release, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has cemented itself as one of the biggest, greatest RPGs ever made. The size of its open-world, the detail in its story and characters, the sheer amount of stuff to do and things to see is staggering and players all over the world are still finding secrets and hidden areas after all this time. With the release of the Special Edition on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, which includes three massive expansions that increase the size and depth of the world, and the new versions of the game available on the Switch and PSVR, there is almost no excuse not to play this, one of the greats of the western-style RPG.If you're just diving in now because you've recently acquired one of the new versions, or you've been a hardcore PC player who's loaded their game up with thousands of mods over the years, there are still plenty of joys to be found tucked away in the secret corners of Skyrim, from epic quests, to pop culture references, to smaller love stories and murder mysteries. Even with over three hundred hours sunk into the game and its various expansions, I found quite a few things in researching this article that I had never heard of, including two major mysteries that have baffled the internet community for literally years. Dive in but beware: some of these secrets are for only the most battle-hardened Dragonborn.
25 Get Infinite Arrows
Few things are more satisfying in Skyrim than the "THWONK" sound of a successful sneak attack with a bow. At the beginning of the game you'll find plenty of basic iron arrows lying around but, as you get more powerful, the need for more exotic missiles likes glass and deadric increases. Here's an easy trick to get as many of those rare arrows as you need.All you need are three things: a camp with an archery range and a practicing archer NPC, one of the types of arrow you want more of, and a decent Pickpocket skill. Pickpocket the archer, take all of his arrows, and then put your fancy arrow in his bag. He'll swap the arrows he's firing into the target with an unlimited supply of whatever you gave him. You can then pluck them out of the target whenever you like.
24 Find The Secret Prison
One of the cornerstones of the Elder Scrolls games is the ability to commit crimes and, if you're caught, opt to be thrown in jail instead of fighting the guards. Since Skyrim is the home of the College of Winterhold, the Hogwarts of Elder Scrolls, there are a lot of mages running around who can't be easily contained by mortal jails.
Turns out there's a secret jail for mages way out in the ice of the north called The Chill. It's not marked on your map so you have to do a little snooping to find it (Or you can commit a crime and get sent there.) There's no fabulous loot to be found but you can take on the Frost Atronachs guarding the cells if you're up for a challenge, and mine a rare gold ore vein to for some easy cash.
23 Fight A Hidden Dragon
One of the most mysterious areas in Skyrim is the underground labyrinth of Blackreach which starts off as a series of tunnels jammed with the dastardly Falmer, then opens up into a massive underground cave housing an entire Dwemer city. The main quest of Skyrim sends you down there but doesn't tell you about Vulthuryol, one of the hidden bosses scattered around Skyrim.
By using the Unrelenting Force shout on a giant golden orb floating in the middle of the city, the player can summon Vulthuryol for an epic battle that is pretty tough if you're under level 20. If you don't attack him right away he'll zoom around Blackreach toasting all those pesky Falmer that have been giving you so much trouble. Just make sure you do eventually fight him: you can only summon him once per game
22 Case The Joint!
I always play open world games with a bit of a sneaky character, the better to get sneak attacks and open locked doors. A highlight of Skyrim is joining the Thieves Guild and playing through their quest line for a satisfying tale of betrayal and revenge. Being a member of the Guild also lets you in on a massive secret: Shadowmarks.
Look around and nearly every building in Skyrim will have symbols carved into them somewhere, usually near the front door. These are a secret code made up by the Guild to identify the building's worthiness of being robbed. Carry a copy of the cipher with you and you'll never break into a house to find nothing but cheese wheels and iron arrows again.
21 Go Shout Fishing
While fishing minigames are common in open world games these days (Even Mario Odyssey lets you reel in Cheep Cheeps.) there isn't actually a way to fish the traditional way in Skyrim. You can certainly wade into the rivers and pluck the little guys out of the water with your bare hands, grizzly bear-style, but as the Dragonborn, you've got another option at your disposal.Yep, you can Shout the fish straight up into the air and catch them, or blast them onto dry land and pick them up later. You don't even have to aim: a blast of Unrelenting Force into a pond or stream will stun every tasty swimmer in range, sending them bobbing to the surface. It's the Skyrim equivalent of dynamite fishing. Poor little dudes never knew what hit them.
20 Duel The Ebony Warrior
Bethesda games all basically follow the same arc: you're terrible at the beginning and slowly gain power until you're an unstoppable murder beast. Even with enemies who scale with your level, once you hit level 80 there isn't much that can take you on.
But that doesn't mean some people won't try. At level 80, and with the Dragonborn expansion installed, you'll be approached by a Redguard all done up in full Ebony plate armor, some of the prettiest and toughest armor in the game. He'll explain that he's fought hundreds of battles and never met a worthy foe, then begs you to give him a worthy send-off. You can then find him at a camp in the mountains where you'll fight a fierce battle and send his soul to Sovngarde.
19 Rip Hearts Right Out Of Chests!
Another creative way to use the Pickpocket skill is that it lets you channel your inner Indiana Jones villain.
When fighting the sort-of undead Briarheart enemies of the Forsworn tribes in The Reach, you may have noticed that each one of them has a giant bloody wound in their chest and, when defeated, they have a briar heart plant on them. The briar heart is an alchemy ingredient that boosts your magicka but is also the key to the Forsworn enemies' undeath. If you pickpocket the briar heart right out of the inventory of the Forsworn, they'll immediately drop dead. This is due to their human hearts being replaced with the plants in a ritual. You can even see this ritual being performed in a few places around Skyrim, if you're sneaky enough.
18 Make All Animals Friendly
Early on in the main quest for Skyrim, right after killing your first dragon, you'll be summoned by the Greybeards who live at the top of the Throat of the World, the gigantic mountain in the middle of the map which is the highest point in all the world. Climbing to the top of the mountain is apparently a form of pilgrimage for the people of Skyrim as along the way are many shrines to Kyne, the god of nature. If you stop and pray at every single one of these shrines, which is tricky at an early level as the mountain pass is filled with frost trolls and wolves, you'll gain a special power- Voice of the Sky. With this activated. no animals will attack you for a full twenty-four hours —unless you strike first.
17 Fly An Invincible Dragon
If you've gotten your hands on the Special Edition of Skyrim then you already have access to Dragonborn, the final and best piece of DLC for an already massive game. Dragonborn adds the island of Solstheim, first seen in an expansion for Morrowind, but also adds a major perk to the game: the ability to fly dragons.
If you're sick of having your dragon die or get shot out from under you, you can use this new skill on your best buddy Odahving and fly around in style, forever. Once you finish the main quest of Skyrim, you can summon Odahving from the Throat of the World and use your riding skill to mount him. Odahving can't die, so you're free to zoom around the skies with impunity. You can even fast travel with him!
16 The Hidden Cult Of Rorikstead
I found this discussion on Reddit of maybe one of the best-kept secrets in the game!
Rorikstead is one of the first villages you hear about, way back on the ride to your execution in the prologue. You can go there and find a normal looking farm but something isn't right. First of all, many of houses contain soul gems and books on the Deadra, which the farmers would have no use for. There's the matter of the town being mentioned in ancient texts and songs, even the tavern song "Ragnar the Red" mentions "ol' Rorikstead." Rumours will also tell you that it used to be a very poor farming area, but that now the dirt is of the highest quality. The dirt is so good, in fact, that the farmers are considering selling the top soil. It's definitely mysterious! You can read more about the investigation here.
15 Solve The Brutal Lighthouse Disappearance...
On the northern coast of Skyrim is a peculiar stone tower. Upon investigation, the tower is a lighthouse used to warn sailors of the rocks of Winterhold. Further investigation reveals there's more to the lighthouse than just a roaring fire.
The interior of the lighthouse is a horror scene, with blood everywhere and a woman's corpse lying with a Falmer axe buried in her chest. Reading nearby journals reveals the family had recently moved to the lighthouse and complained about noises from the cellar. A cellar key reveals the culprit: a caved-in wall leading to tunnels full of Falmer and Chaurus. Killing the Chaurus Reaper gets you the remains of the husband and, if you burn the remains in the lighthouse fire, you get an ability that increases how much health gained from healing spells for a little while.
14 Become A Master Hunter
Another animal-related quest that I totally missed the first few times I played the game. You can untake Kyne's Sacred Trials by finding a hut in the hills near Riften on the southwestern side of the map. Inside, a hermit named Froki will task you with killing a number of Guardian animals scattered around the world. The Guardians look like ghosts but fight and behave like normal versions of each animal. After two rounds of three animals, you'll be sent after a special Guardian Troll who guards Froki's Bow, a unique ranged weapon.
Finishing the Trials gets you Kyne's Token which boosts your damage with bows and reduces the damage you take from attacking animals. The rewards for this quest aren't huge, so this is best undertaken early.
13 Solve The Mystery Of This Hidden Gauntlet
You've probably heard about the Inifinity Gauntlet in the Marvel comics and movies, it's going to be a major focus of the next two Avengers movies, but did you know Skyrim has something similar?
Far below the College of Winterhold, in a cheerful area called The Midden Dark, there's a foreboding looking deadric gauntlet on a pedestal. Nearby is a document called the Midden Incident Report that tells you to find four rings and place them on each finger. Seems easy enough, except the rings are stored in a master-level locked chest in the chambers of the guy who runs the College. If you manage to place each ring, you get a treasure map that points to a magically hidden chest way out in the ice.
12 Find The Three Billy Goats Gruff
This is a cute little easter egg for weary travelers in the west near Markarth. You'll come across a bridge spanning a river with two goats crossing it. Soon, a third will hop up onto the bridge from down below and the trio will wander away. If you investigate under the bridge, you'll find a dead troll: a reference to the classic children's story The 3 Billy Goats Gruff, where a troll menaces three traveling goats who outsmart him by telling him to wait for their fatter companion, who eventually kills the troll with his horns. This is the second time Bethesda has referenced this story: there was a very similar encounter in the previous game, Oblivion. Many troll dens in Skyrim have goat bones littered around, so I guess these three goats were on a mission of vengeance.
11 Play Cupid
The quest The Book of Love is one of the few that doesn't involve combat at all and, since it sends you all over the map, is a nice break from all the sword slashing and shield bashing.
In Riften, if you request the blessing of Mara, you'll be sent on some errands for the priestess there that involve helping various NPCs fall in love, including the wizard Calcelmo who you meet as part of the main quest in Markarth. From helping young lovers elope, to writing a love poem on someone else's behalf, to reuniting the ghosts of two dead lovers, this quest shows the kinder side of Skyrim. Plus, as a reward, you get a permanent 15% resistance to all magic, which is pretty handy.
10 Be In A Ghost Story
Southwest of Dawnstar is one of the many Nordic crypts scattered about Skyrim, Frostmere Crypt. This is one is different: instead of being infested with angry Draugr, the crypt is filled with bandits. In another twist, when you arrive at the Crypt, the bandits are attacking one of their own!
If you save her, or loot her journal off of her corpse, you'll be told about the tale of The Pale Lady, who haunts the depths beneath the crypt. Follow the trail down into Frostmere and you'll see a Khajit battling a woman's ghost and several wisps. If he dies, or you pickpocket his sword, you can either use it to kill the ghost or place the sword on the pedestal to banish her. If you pick the sword up again, however, she'll return. You need to make a choice: greed for the weapon, or peace for The Pale Lady.
9 Read Some Steamy Books
Another celebrated aspect of all the Elder Scrolls games is the mind-boggling amount of literature written into books found all over the world. Just like in our world, these books have a variety of subjects and topics form histories to biographies, fiction, books about skills that can give you useful points, and even plays.
Also like real life, there appears to be a big market for grown up novels in Skyrim. The books The Lusty Argonian Maid (Actually a play) and The Real Berenziah have some pretty racy scenes in them and can be found tucked away under beds and in locked tables all over Skyrim. Argonian Maid is quite a classic, apparently: it's been in four games in the series including Elder Scrolls Online, which is set a thousand years before Skyrim.
8 Find The Headless Horseman
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow isn't just one of the better Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborations, it's an American ghost story from the 1820s. Written by Washington Irving, who also wrote Rip Van Winkle, both are some of the earliest examples of American fiction and have stood the test of time.
Skyrim's Headless Horseman can be found randomly in the world between 10 pm and 4 am and appears as a ghostly figure wearing steel plate armor (minus the helmet, of course) on top of a ghostly steed. He won't attack you, though you can attack him, and he can be followed to Hamvir's Rest which contains some enemies and high-level treasure in a chest. He's not connected to any quests but is another example of Bethesda's awesome environmental storytelling.
7 Find The Wolf From 300
At the very beginning of Zach Snyder's last good movie, 300, the narrator Dilios tells the tale of King Leonidas' training as a boy. Dilios tells how the King, naked and armed with only a spear, was cast out into the wilderness to fend for himself. Facing a ferocious wolf, Leonidas forced the beast to attack him through a narrow crevasse where, becoming stuck in the ice, Leonidas could easily kill him. This foreshadows the Spartan's strategy to deal with the Persian army later in the film, one of the greatest stories of military history ever.
In Skyrim, very near the Lover Stone, you can find a Sabrecat trapped in a similar passage with a glass sword stuck in his head. Nearby is a human skeleton, so I guess this boy will never be king...
6 Easily Cure Diseases
Being an adventurer in Skyrim is no picnic. Between the Draugr, the Dragons, the Bandits, and the Assassin's, sometimes you get bit by the wrong Skeever and contract a nasty disease that imparts debilitating effects for a very long time, often indefinitely.
While you'll eventually be rich and strong enough to carry as many cure disease potions as you like, in the early goings of the game you may find yourself burdened with a case of Bone Break Fever for quite some time. If you're not much for alchemy, I know I'm not, it's easy to forget that all the nuts, butterflies, and flowers you can pick up all have practical purposes. In particular, Hawk Feathers have a natural ability to cure disease. Munch down a few of these and that Rockjoint will melt away. Maybe have a glass of water handy to wash down those feathers...
5 Taverns Have Plenty Of Character
Bethesda spends an awful lot of effort making their worlds feel real and lived-in considering most players sprint from quest to quest without an eye for all the detail crammed into every nook and cranny.Every single inn and tavern in Skyrim has been painstakingly created with as much history and character as the dungeons and barrows you'll be exploring. From the bickering couple who run Silver Blood Inn in Markarth to the graduates of the Bard's College playing the open mics of the Winking Skeever in Solitude, there's a ton of character and history jammed into every bar in Skyrim. Even the Thieves Guild is basically built around a tavern, where you can sell off your ill-begotten goods and get new jobs from your friends.
4 Infinity Chests
This is more of a glitch than a secret but, in a game like Skyrim, sometimes they are one and the same.
The way Skyrim handles merchant inventories is to hide their wares in invisible chests somewhere near the merchant. Usually, these are impossible to find but some aren't as well hidden as others. Near the Dawnstar mines, there are some trees and two rocks. Between these rocks, you'll get a prompt to open a chest, even though no chest can be seen. The interior of the chest corresponds exactly to the Khajit merchant's stock and can be looted and sold back to him for nearly unlimited money. Waiting 48 hours will refill the stock with different things, so you've got a supply of items and cash whenever you want. Now, again, this is technically cheating but it's a single player game so it's not hurting anyone.
3 Find Luke Skywalker's Corpse
Another nice bit of pop-culture dropped into Skyrim is in a cave called Bleakcoast on the eastern side of the map. Inside you'll find a frost troll and a skeleton hanging from the ceiling, his boots encased in ice. Sticking out of the snow nearby, just out of reach, is a sword. This is obviously a reference to The Empire Strikes Back and the first time we see Luke use his telekinesis. Looks like this version of Skywalker wasn't as strong in the Force as the one we're used to.
This is another recurring easter egg in The Elder Scrolls series: the same situation appeared in Morrowind as well. This particular scene has been referenced in other games too, most notably in episode 2 of the classic FPS Duke Nukem 3D.
2 A Mural Tells The Story Of The Elder Scrolls Series
Around the midpoint of the main quest line, you'll discover that the two people who have been helping you out for most of the game are the last members of The Blades, the Imperial Special Forces that played a major part in the story of Oblivion. They'll give you access to Sky Haven Temple and the mural called Alduin's Wall.
Alduin's Wall, your buddy Esbern explains, might show the key to defeating the evil black dragon but there's something else worth noticing: all the events depicted in the mural are the main questlines of all The Elder Scrolls games to date. It shows pivotal moments form Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, and Oblivion, and even the foretold ending of Skyrim, the story you're experiencing that very moment.
1 The Most Hidden Secret: The Bug Jars
This one absolutely blew me away when I first heard of it while researching this article, especially because I'd found hints of this secret but never thought anything of them.
You may have noticed various jars on shelves in Skyrim with bugs trapped inside them. I even put the torchbug in a jar item in my home in Whiterun, as I thought they were just unique decorative items. It turns out that, if you look at the bottom of the jar, each one has a unique rune or runes carved into their lids. When written out, these runes spell out cryptic messages like GIFT - HORSE - LAKE. What does it all mean? No one knows! It's likely just the remnants of a quest that was cut before the game shipped but people have been puzzling over this mystery for years.