While many dedicated fans would vehemently disagree with the assertion that Skyrim is the best out of all the Elder Scrolls games, even they’d agree that it has been the most influential of them all. Released a little more than seven years ago, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was the first TES game that truly showed us the scope of what all could be done in a modern RPG if we had the technology to back it up.
It was also one of the first of many truly open-world games we have been bombarded with since its release, and even though similar concepts had existed before, Skyrim was probably the first game that let you do anything you set your eyes on. Don’t want to do the main quest (which was quite boring anyway)? You don't have to. You can climb that mountain at the distance, spend all of your time buying a house and gardening, take sides in a civil war and change the political landscape, join a guild and become its leader, or anything else you set your eyes on.
The biggest strength of Skyrim, and the reason it’s still one of the most played RPGs, is exploration. You never knew what you would find on one of your distracted walks around the vast world, which often included powerful, undefeatable foes.
In the spirit of revisiting the best-kept secrets from one of our favourite games of all times, here are the 15 Hidden Bosses Players Need To Find In Skyrim (And 5 That Aren’t Worth It).
20 Not Worth It: Anise
If you walk about in the region immediately south-west of Riverwood, you may encounter an old woman just sitting outside her house. You can make banter with her and just try to get to know her and leave, and nothing will happen. If you venture into the house, though, you’d find an Arcane Enchanter and other things related to witchcraft, proving that Anise is secretly a witch. Go out of the house, and she’ll attack, as she doesn’t want anyone finding her secret.
She’s not very difficult to fight, and having to attack an old woman actually makes us feel bad about the whole situation. She does have a few spells up her sleeves, but unless you find her immediately after launching the game for the first time, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.
19 Need To Find: Zahkriisos
In the lore of Skyrim, Dragon Priests were once powerful rulers of the land, largely due to the power wielded by their dragon masters. Even though times and political landscape changed overtime, they remain some of the most overpowered enemies you’d encounter in the game. Zahkriisos (who is only available with the Dragonborn DLC) is no exception, though he isn’t as accessible as others, and would require some finding to get to him.
His level is capped to 60, making him the only leveled Dragon Priest around. That may help if you seek him out after that point, though he’s still quite a difficult foe to finish due to his powerful kit. To fight him, find the quest called "The Final Descent", and head to the last area in Bloodskal Barrow via Raven Rock Mine.
18 Need To Find: The Reaper
One of the biggest reasons Skyrim still remains relevant and widely-played is all of the DLCs that came after it, even though Bethesda itself has been in news for all of the wrong reasons recently. The Reaper is a hidden enemy available through Skyrim’s first DLC Dawnguard, and – true to his name – he remains one of the most powerful enemies you’d be fighting in the game.
We don’t really know where he comes from or exactly who he is, but because of the Daedric Heart he drops once you do defeat him, fans have speculated that he may be Daedric in origin. To find him, you’ll have to enter a plane of Oblivion through a portal in Castle Volkihar, and find the area called Reaper’s Lair.
17 Need To Find: Uderfrykte
For the fans of the earlier games, you might remember that creatures with names starting with Uderfrykte also show up in previous iterations, and this one can be seen as a throwback to those.
With a name made up for words from Norway for "beast" and "fear," Uderfrykte is a powerful troll (much like his previous versions) you may have a hard time beating if you don’t level up enough before encountering him. He differs from other trolls with his green, shining eyes and dark green hair, instead of the usual black. To find him, you’ll have to trigger the Dark Brotherhood quest called "The Cure for Madness", head to Dawnstar sanctuary, and find his ice cave.
16 Not Worth It: Velehk Sain
Also known as the "Pirate King of the Abecean," Velehk Sain is a Dremora pirate trapped in the Midden Dark, a dungeon below the College of Winterhold. Velehk -- along with his crew -- is said to be a frightening foe in Skyrim lore, but he is now trapped due to an experiment gone wrong involving some students. He is also not really a pain to get rid of, as long as you find him at the right level.
To go to him, find the dungeon and trigger the quest called "Forgotten Names". At some point in the quest, you’ll be tasked with summoning him back to the dungeon, and you can choose to either free him or fight him depending on how you're feeling that day.
15 Need To Find: Yngol's Shade
One of the best parts of Skyrim is its ridiculously detailed and spread out lore. There is so much that gamers are still finding previously undiscovered parts of it even after seven years of its release. One of the most interesting parts of it is the historic period called The Return, when Men came back to resettle Tamriel after the previous events.
Yngol was the son of the legendary leader of that army – Ysgramor – and his ghost still remains as one of the hardest enemies you’ll encounter in the game. Known as Yngol’s Shade (basically Yngol’s ghost), this Draugr is especially difficult because he’s always many levels higher than you are whenever you encounter him. You can find him at Yngol Barrow, an ice tomb located north-east of Windhelm.
14 Need To Find: Taron Dreth
Taron Dreth is a Dunmer (also known as Dark Elves) mage who can be randomly encountered at many locations in Skyrim. While mages could be easy to fight depending on the level you’re at and the mage you’re fighting, the encounter with Taron Derth can be difficult, as he attacks with a group of three mercenaries.
While it’s not confirmed in the Skyrim lore, Taron Derth is supposedly the author of the book The Aetherium Wars, and you could hear Katria – an NPC central to the quest "Lost to the Ages" – accuse him of plagiarizing her research during the quest. Once you complete the quest, Taron Derth can be found on the road pretty much anywhere in Skyrim, though players have also reported encountering him at the Silver-Blood Inn in Markarth.
13 Need To Find: Arondil
Just like the real world, the world of Skyrim also consists of mad geniuses carrying out questionable experiments on innocent civilians. One of them is Arondil, an Altmeric necromancer, Ice Mage, Conjurer, and an all-around creepy guy obsessed with reanimating the deceased, especially women. He used to operate with impunity in Dawnstar at some point in the lore’s history, but as the villagers found out about his experiments, he was promptly exiled.
To encounter him, you’ll have to take a boat and head to an island east of Dawnstar once you trigger the quest called "Toying with the Dead". After that, head to the ice cave of Yngvild, where he has taken refuge since the banishment, with his own army of zombie bodyguards.
12 Need To Find: Bashnag
Spellswords are a special class of mages in the game who may be particularly difficult to deal with, as they wield weapons along with their own specific brand of magic. They featured in earlier games, too, and the difficulty of the fight depends on when you encounter them in the game.
However, that’s not true for their leader, Bashnag, who would always be a difficult foe to defeat no matter when you fight him, due to his advanced Frost and Shock attacks. He also summons multiple Frost Atronachs during the fight, so be prepared before taking this one on. Bashnag, along with his rest of Spellsword followers, can be found in Southfringe Sanctum, a cave found southeast of Helgen.
11 Not Worth It: Drelas
Drelas is a Dunmer necromancer who could be found working on his Arcane Enchanter in his house in the northern part of the Hold of Whiterun. If you find him hunched over, which you will if you visit during the day, you can easily finish him off with a few sneak attacks and be on your way, though he doesn't pose much of a problem if you make him aware of your presence and duel him either.
While he does have some useful spells to make it difficult for you (like healing), you can easily stop him from doing that by taking him down quickly. You can seek him out if you’re really bored and want to pick a fight.
10 Need To Find: Sigdis Gauldurson
For new players, Draugr can be some of the scariest enemies to encounter in the game, which is kind of their whole thing. However, even the most formidable Draugr bosses don’t match up to Sigdis Gauldurson, an almost-undefeatable Draugr if you go into the fight unprepared.
He carries the Gauldr Longbow – the Gauldr family being another interesting part of Skyrim lore – which absorbs quite a bit of magicka depending on the level you encounter him. That’s not it, though, as he can even make clones of himself, continuously depleting your resources until you spot the real one. He can also teleport, use Disarm and Unrelenting Force on whim, and is generally a pain in the backside to defeat. If all of that sounds too good to pass on, seek out the quest called "Forbidden Legend".
9 Need To Find: Vighar
If you’re lucky, you wouldn’t encounter a vampire until you’re ready for them, as they are generally difficult enemies. They also show up quite a bit after you begin the game, but can still be encountered anywhere on your random walkabouts. Master vampires – leaders of a vampire coven – like Vighar, though, are enemies you should definitely stay away from until you have the build for them.
Once an Elder Nord, Vighar got afflicted with the vampire disease Sanguinare Vampiris at some point in Skyrim’s history, and now occupies the master vampire chair (literally) at Bloodlet Throne in the mountains of Falkreath Hold. To meet him, you’ll have to find the quest called "Dark Ancestor", which tasks you with ending him once and for all.
8 Need To Find: Werebears
Werebears in Skyrim are lycanthropes, just like werewolves, though with some notable exceptions. Other than the obvious fact that they're bears and not wolves, their attacks look different and include a lunge, which can be dangerous if you encounter a particularly powerful one. It’s also not possible to become a werebear, which is not the case with werewolves (though that’s also only possible through completing the quest line for the Companions of Jorrvaskr in Whiterun).
While the lore says that werebears are abundant in Skyrim, they’re actually only found on the island of Solstheim. They’re fast, furiously hostile, and they don’t actually care about your high-level if you do encounter them, so make sure to know what you’re doing before going out to hunt them.
7 Need To Find: The Ebony Warrior
In the off chance that you haven’t already heard about this one from furious videos on YouTube, the Ebony Warrior is one of the most frightening enemies you’ll be encountering in Skyrim. He is a Redguard, masked warrior who has defeated pretty much all of the enemies he has encountered before meeting you, so we’d advise care before taking on this one.
He’s only available after you reach level 80, though you won’t have to make much of an effort finding him once you do, as he’ll start looking for you the first. One of the reasons why he is so scary is his ebony armor, which is the third best non-unique armor in the game after Daedric and Dragonplate armor. He can also restore his health, absorb health through his ebony sword, cast Unrelenting Force and Frost Cloak, and paralyze foes with his ebony bow.
6 Not Worth It: Guardian Mudcrab
If you travel to Froki’s Shack – a tiny house in the south-west region of The Rift – and meet Froki Whetted-Blade, he’ll present you with "Kyne’s Sacred Trials", a quest to hunt various Guardian beasts across the land. While a few of them maybe difficult to fight, the Guardian Mudcrab (found in an unmarked location between Broken Fang Cave and Gjukar's Monument) is really not.
Though it may look scary if you’re playing the game at night, it doesn't pose a huge challenge and the fight is pretty straightforward. Just get the right weapons and armor and you probably won’t even have to break a sweat. You can also use sneak from a distance and finish it quickly.
5 Need To Find: The Pale Lady
Fans of earlier TES games may confuse this one for a vampire of the same name from Oblivion, but The Pale Lady in Skyrim is different. Here, she’s a Wispmother – a rarely encountered spectre species that lives in the cold, high-altitude regions across Skyrim. They’re usually not hostile and will leave you alone if you encounter them, but if you do decide to fight, they’re also quite powerful.
The Pale Lady can be dueled in the quest of the same name, and she’s definitely hostile once you trigger it at Frostmere Crypt. She has quite a few frost-based attacks to stagger you with, but if you’re one of the pyromaniacs who loves setting things on fire, you may be able to beat her.
4 Need To Find: Vulthuryol
When the first posters and marketing material for Skyrim came out, we were all pretty excited to punch some dragons in the face. When we did encounter them, though, they turned out to be one of the least enjoyable – even if still powerful – foes to fight, as the game is filled with so many better ones. However, there’s one dragon you may not have found out about in your play-through that also happens to be one of the most difficult enemies to beat in the game.
Vulthuryol is a difficult and hidden dragon that can be found in the underground city of Blackreach, and is a challenge to beat because of the high damage of his attacks. He is capable of fire as well as frost attacks, and needs to be dealt with cautiously as he stays on the ground, instead of flying around and giving you the time to think.
3 Need To Find: Karstaag
As another enemy who makes its power level pretty clear due to how scary it looks, Karstaag is a spectral Ice Giant you can lock horns with in the The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn expansion. Ice Giants were first introduced in Dawnguard, and were found to be much more powerful than usual giants in the base game. Karstaag is like them, only his attacks do much more damage and impact.
He is also always accompanied by a frost field, which consistently deals damage if you stay close enough. In addition, he is immune to most elemental damage, though he is susceptible to some fire damage if you remain persistent. He can be found as the boss of an unmarked quest called "Summoning Karstaag", which is pretty self-explanatory.
2 Need To Find: Warlord Gathrik
If you explore the mountainous regions around Winterhold enough, you’re bound to run into NPCs called Salma and Beem-Ja at some point. You can hear them arguing about heading into Ironbind Barrow, and if you choose to enter, they will too. This triggers the hidden quest called "Coming of Age", and you have to defeat Warlord Gathrik to finish it.
Depending on what level you are, he’ll either be a Draugr or a Dragon Priest, and defeating him isn’t really easy. In most cases, though, he’ll be a Draugr, with quite a few dragon shouts like Unrelenting Force, Disarm, and Frost Breath at his disposal. He is also faster than the other Draugr found in the game, which makes defeating him even more difficult.
1 Not Worth It: Strange Orb
Skyrim shines the brightest when you find things that have no reason to be there, like that roaming spirit of a headless horseman you can’t interact with in any way. Another one is this strange orb found in a Dwemer Ruin south-east of Mzulft called Kagranzel. There is an Invisibility potion as well as an expert-level chest to be found here if you do decide to visit, but the main attraction is the orb.
If you activate it, it will start glowing and things will probably look scary for you for a moment, but all it does is open the floor underneath, which leads to a shaft and a drop in the lake under it. The only way it can do you any harm is if you happen to be standing too far away from the centre of the room when you fall, in which case you may hit the ground instead of the lake.
Which hidden Skyrim boss is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!