It’s now been about seven years since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released to gamers worldwide. The first truly open-world game in what would become a long line of Skyrimesque open-world games to grace the shelves over the years, Skyrim enjoys a place in gaming history most other games don’t.
Much like the game, the Skyrim community is also seemingly still as awesome as it was just after the launch. Aside from credits to Bethesda for the expansions and DLCs to keep fans busy, the community has made sure that Skyrim stays as relevant as any other modern game. With multiple mods available to enhance various features of the base game - like the graphics, quests, attire, language etc. – this is as good a time as any to get into Skyrim for those who haven’t taken the plunge yet.
Funky mods aside, it’s a pretty good game on its own, too, as it is full of exploration, politics, dangerous dungeons, and bosses, with a leveling system many modern RPGs take notes from. It’s also one of the first truly open-world games, providing you the opportunity to do everything you had always wanted to do in a video game before.
To do everything you want in Skyrim, though, requires you to find or craft the perfect weapon, as it’s a world full of dangerous enemies. While you’d have to find your own way with the crafting – as everyone chooses their own iteration of the skill tree – we can help a bit with the finding.
With that said, here are The 20 Most Powerful Weapons In Skyrim (And How To Find Them).
Many of the battleaxes in the game are pretty powerful, with high damage stats and enchantments to take on powerful foes. The Wuuthrad is no exception; dealing a base damage of 25, it’s enough to down most enemies you may encounter. However, it is its passive ability to do 1.2x damage to elves, some of the most powerful enemies in the game, which is the reason why it deserves its spot. Need to clear a ruin protected by a powerful Falmer? You know what you need.
To get it, you’d have to complete the Glory of the Dead quest, in which it’s used to open a locked tomb and returned to its original owner’s resting place. All you need to do to get it after the quest is simply go back and pick it up.
19 The Rueful Axe
Another one for all the battleaxe enthusiasts out there, The Rueful Axe makes for one of the most powerful two-handed weapons in the game. Originally given to a mage to cure his daughter of Lycanthropy by the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile – though details on how that would help are unclear in all of the books we found – the battleaxe is now up for the taking.
Its base damage of 22 rivals some of the best two-handed weapons, and it can be enchanted or upgraded like usual weapons. To find it, head straight for the Daedric quest called A Daedra's Best Friend, which can be triggered by talking to a dog called Barbas. This isn’t a joke, as the dog is actually a transformed companion of Clavicus Vile.
18 Mehrunes' Razor
Anyone who has played the previous game in the series, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, would recognize Mehrunes Dagon – one of the godly Daedric Princes of Oblivion. The dagger Mehrune’s Razor is his artifact, and even though daggers found in the game are usually not powerful enough without enchantments of your own, this one is one of the few exceptions.
It has about 2% of a chance to instantly take down anyone, which may sound a bit low, but by anyone we do mean anyone, whether it’s dragons, arch mages, or Dwarven bosses. Just take it to an enemy and attempt a blow; you may just be surprised. So where do you get it? By completing the quest called Pieces of the Past. It’s a high-level quest, and you’d have to make sure to take out Silus Vesuius at the end of it, or he just goes home and the dagger becomes unobtainable.
17 Nightingale Blade
The Nightingales are a shadowy part of the already-pretty-shadowy Thieves’ Guild, as anyone who has really explored the Thieves’ Guild quest line would know. A faction within the Guild worshiping Nocturnal – the Daedric Prince of Darkness – the Nightingales are not only rumored to drive decision-making within the guild, but they also have some of the best weapons.
The Nightingale Blade is a leveled sword that does anywhere between 10-14 damage and absorbs 5-25 points of health and stamina depending on the level, making it one of the most powerful weapons in Skyrim. To get your hands on this one, you’d have to complete the Thieves’ Guild quest Hard Answers, and obtain the sword from Karliah; one of the three Nightingales.
Even if the bow and arrow mechanics in Skyrim are far from the most polished compared to modern games, they’re still one of the most powerful ways to fight dragons as well as level up your Stealth skills. Zephyr, a unique Dwarven bow, comes with base damage of 14, but it’s its 30% faster drawing stat that gives it one of the highest damage-per-second values of all of the bows in the game. Combine it with the Quick Shot Archery perk – which is a further 30% drawing speed – and you never need to look for another bow again.
The quest required to obtain Zephyr is a bit hard to find, as it’s triggered by reading a book called The Aetherium Wars, and then running into a ghost NPC called Katria in The Reach.
15 Blade of Woe
Another dagger in the game that’s particularly dangerous for its size, the Blade of Woe is owned by Astrid; the leader of the assassin organization Dark Brotherhood. With a base damage of 12 and an ability to absorb 10 points of health, it’s one of the most powerful weapons to be found in the game.
There are multiple places one could get their hands on the Blade of Woe. If going the quest route, it can be obtained at the end of the Dark Brotherhood quest Death Incarnate, which can be triggered by completing To Kill an Empire. It can also be pickpocketed off Astrid, though you’d need the Misdirection perk in the Stealth skill tree to pickpocket equipped weapons. You can also just take it from Astrid after defeating him in one of your encounters.
Another weapon belonging to one of the powerful Daedric Princes Meridia, Dawnbreaker is a rare and unique one-handed sword that deals a base damage of 12. While pretty high on its own, particularly for lower-level players, what makes it one of the most powerful weapons in the game is its specific ability to fight the those who never rest, like Draugr or vampires. On top of the 10 points of burning damage for 10 seconds to all enemies, it triggers an area-of-effect explosion if the foes are from beyond the grave.
It’s a reward from Meridia for completing The Break of Dawn quest, though be careful about fighting with it in close quarters if your chosen race is vampire, as it affects all characters of this kind. It can be stacked with various other fire related perks and made into one of the most overpowered parts of your dungeon-crawling kit.
If you’ve come across a regular glass sword in the game, you’d recognize this one quite easily. A unique glass sword that’s got an icy look compared to the glassy one fans usually come across, Chillrend is a pretty powerful weapon. Because it is a leveled weapon, the intensity of its power only increases with each level, making it one of the best picks for new as well as veteran players.
At its highest at above level 45, Chillrend does Frost damage of 30 points and has a chance to paralyze foes. It could be stacked with other frost and one-handed perks in the skill tree as well. You can find the sword at the end of the tunnels in Riftweald Manor during the quest The Pursuit. It’s locked behind an expert-level lock regardless of your level, so make sure to level up your Pickpocket skill before attempting this one.
12 Mace of Molag Bal
For those who have played the previous games in the series, especially Morrowind, Molag Bal would be a pretty familiar name. A God of destruction – loosely speaking – and a Daedric Prince from Oblivion, Molag is pretty mad at all mortals and wishes to subjugate them. The Mace of Molag Bal is his artifact and, true to its name, it is a pretty powerful weapon to have in your kit.
Aside from damage of 25 to stamina and magicka, the mace also fills an empty soul gem in your inventory if the target is defeated within three seconds. Not only that, but it’s also not a leveled weapon, which means that it's overpowered enough for lower ranks to quickly climb up. To get it, you must complete the Daedric quest called The House of Horrors.
11 Nightingale Bow
Another powerful weapon belonging to the Nightingale faction of the Thieves’ Guild, Nightingale Bow is one of the most powerful bows in the game. Not only is its base damage ridiculously high for a bow – 19 if it’s completely leveled up – but it also has a bunch of other cool effects.
Being a leveled bow, its power depends on what level you are at. However, at its best at level 46 and above, it does Frost damage of 30 points, along with electrocuting the enemy by 15 points. Like the Nightingale Blade, it also belongs to Karliah, one of the three Nightingales. To find it, you must look for the Thieves’ Guild quest called Blindsighted; it’ll be given to you as reward by Karliah once it's completed.
Scimitars are hard to come by in the game in general, and the reasons why are obvious. They’re not particularly powerful weapons, they add weight to the inventory, and they are difficult to find. Windshear, however, is one scimitar that you definitely should be going out to find, given its unique enchantment.
Bashing with Windshear while blocking has a chance of paralyzing the enemy, though using it like a one-handed weapon will know down 100% of your enemies. It doesn’t matter who you’re fighting, this one will have them on the floor not knowing what to do every single time. To obtain it, you must look around on the ship called The Katariah, which can only be accessed during the Dark Brotherhood quest Hail Sithis! It can be found at the end of the bow in the front of the ship, embedded into it.
9 The Staff of Magnus
Magic in Skyrim is pretty powerful in itself, though levelling it up is more tedious than other skills. If you’re interested in being a mage and are just starting out, the College of Winterhold quest lines are the fastest way to level up. The Staff of Magnus is one such quest that lets you obtain the powerful Staff of Magnus, which absorbs 20 magicka per second and, if the target is out of magicka, 20 health.
As we said above, this one is recommended only for higher level players, as you’d need to fight and defeat a pretty powerful Dragon Priest to get it. Once you have it, though, dueling magic-based enemies is a lot easier.
8 Auriel's Bow
Auriel’s Bow can be found in Skyrim’s first add-on, Dawguard. Aside from being a great expansion in itself, Dawnguard adds plenty of new lore and items that players can go out and explore.
Auriel’s Bow is an artifact belonging to the elven God Auriel, and comes with some pretty dangerous features. For one, its base damage of 13 is one of the highest in the game for bows, making it a great weapon on its own. It also applies 20 points of Sun Damage on the target; a kind of an equivalent to Fire damage in the base game, but still not exactly fire. It deals triple damage to zombie-like enemies, which could be stacked up with perks. Its draw time is also lower than other bows, making it especially dangerous against enemies like vampires. You can get this bow at the end of the Touching the Sky quest in Dawnguard.
7 Soulrender & Bloodscythe
All Skyrim players have a unique style to their gameplay, carefully choosing their weapons and armor to build their own undefeatable Dragonborn. Dual-wielding scimitars, however, are not something chosen by most, as they come with several problems. Still, for the few who have mastered it, the dual-wielded combo of Soulrender and Bloodscythe is too good to miss out on.
Used together, both the scimitars deal damage of 15 points for health and magicka. They also have a chance to reduce enemy’s armor, making them useful for many types of enemies encountered in the game. Both of the swords can be found in the Dragonborn expansion, near the skeletal remains of their previous owner - a pirate called Haknir Death-Brand - at the end of the quest Deathbrand.
6 Dragonbone Mace
Available in the Dawnguard expansion, the Dragonbone line of weapons are some of the most powerful base weapons to stack enchantments on. Dragonbone Mace is one such weapon, which features the highest base damage of any one-handed weapon you could craft. Enchanted with the right enchantments, it makes for possibly the most powerful mace in the game.
Besides crafting it at a forge, you can also obtain it after defeating one of the three Keepers in Soul Cairn; a plane in Oblivion that can be accessed during the quest Chasing Echoes. Note that you’d need a Smithing level of 100 and the Dragon Armor perk to craft this one, and a minimum of level 45 to loot it from the body of the Keeper.
5 Miraak's Sword
Another leveled sword with damage stats that depend on what level you’re at, Miraak’s Sword is a powerful weapon that only gets more powerful with the time you spend with it. Found in the Dragonborn expansion, Miraak’s sword belongs to Miraak, a powerful Dragon priest and a Dragonborn in the expansion, much like the protagonist.
It’s the lightest one-handed sword, weighing only 3, but with one of the highest – and possibly the highest – base damage of all other swords in the game. Depending on your level, the sword can deal a damage of 16, which makes it a formidable weapon once you put some enchantments on it. To get it, you must loot the corpse of Miraak after, of course, defeating him in the final quest of the expansion called At the Summit of Apocrypha.
Skyrim’s lore heavily features dragons, as the nickname Dragonborn would suggest. Though for new players, coming across a dragon is not a pleasant experience, especially if they’re overpowered ones who can take you out in pretty much one shot. For older players, dragons are still some of the most dangerous foes to encounter if you’re not prepared, which is where Dragonbane comes in.
A leveled one-handed Katana belonging to the Katana-wielding Blades faction, Dragonbane deals a damage of 10 to 14 points depending on the level you’re at, 10 points of shock damage to non-dragons, and 20 – 40 additional damage to dragons. It can be found in the Sky Haven Temple during the quest Alduin’s Wall, along with the full set of Blades armor.
3 Ebony Blade
Another powerful Daedric artifact, the Ebony Blade is a katana associated with the Daedric Prince Mephala. Its history is a bit drawn out, though to make it a bit shorter, it’s now lying under Dragonreach and is totally up for grabs during the Daedric quest The Whispering Door. It would take a bit of fighting, though, as it’s only available to players who are level 20 and have completed the Dragon Rising quest.
As for its effect, it doesn’t really have particularly noteworthy damage. What it does have, however, is its unique ability to absorb damage, which starts at 10 and is added on by the number of friends/people who have helped you before. While it’s not easy downing old comrades, once you get in the groove of it, you will realize just how powerful that multiplier stat can become very fast.
2 Drainblood Battleaxe
Unlike other weapons on this list, this one is more unambiguously named, and it delivers what you would expect it to deliver quite effortlessly. Drainblood Battleaxe is one of the four ghost weapons that senior, ghostly Draugrs like to use – the other three being Drainheart Sword, Drainspell Bow, and Ghostblade – and also the most powerful.
With a damage of 21, every blow further absorbs 15 points of health, making it one of the highest damage two-handed weapons in the game. Furthermore, it has a measly weight of 5, unlike the other much-heavier battleaxes found in the game. To find it, you must trigger The Staff of Magnus quest. The battleaxe can only be obtained in Labyrinthian during the quest, though, so make sure to keep a lookout for this one.
1 Dwarven Black Bow of Fate
While the base game has many powerful items of its own, it’s really the expansions that introduce overpowered weapons. First seen in The Elder Scrolls: Dragonborn, the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate is a powerful bow with some enchantments thatt all levels of players would be interested in.
Aside from its base damage of 13, the bow has a 50% chance of absorbing 25 points of health, magicka, and stamina. Notice the "and" instead of ‘"or," which means that in a fight, there’s a pretty good chance of you utterly destroying your foe by depleting their resources and strengthening yourself quite rapidly, no matter who they are. The Dwarven Black Bow of Fate is not a quest item, so it can be picked up at any time. It can be found in Kagrumez, a Dwemer ruin on the Solstheim island.
Are there any other powerful Skyrim items that we forgot to mention? Sound off in the comments!