In the Elder Scrolls universe, Daedra, literally "not our ancestors" in the Aldmeri language, are a class of divine beings who unlike their counter-parts the Aedra ("ancestors") did not take part in the creation of Nirn. Unwilling to give up a part of their own power, and subjecting themselves to mortality like the Aedra, they instead used their powers to forge the Daedric Realms of Oblivion and the inhabitants that reside there. Some scholars claim them to be the embodiment of Sithis (or Padomay), the primal force of chaos, somewhat explaining their fickle nature in their dealings with mortals.
Daedra are, for all intents and purposes, immortal. Though it's not an easy task, as even lesser Daedra are powerful physical fighters or highly trained in the arcane arts, their physical form on Tamriel may be destroyed, banishing the essense of the Daedra back into the plane of Oblivion from whence it came. There they will remain until brought forth by a summoning situal, or as seen during the Oblivion Crisis, the boundaries between planes are brought down. Bringing forth Daedra into the mortal realm is, surprisingly, not a complicated one and summoning chambers are found throughout the Mage Guilds of the Empire. Even amateurs in the field of Conjuration have been able to call forth some lesser Daedra, albeit usually nothing more than a scamp, whereas experts can call forth even more powerful Daedra as willing servants, including the mighty Golden Saints.
Daedra are known for their craftsmanship, well beyond the knowledge of any mortal race. Daedric weapons, armor and artifacts are some of the rarest and most highly sought after commodities on Tamriel, with a value thats almost priceless. The exact process in which Daedric armaments is created is unknown, but it is believed that they are constructed through the combination of highly-refined ebony which is then imbued with the essence of a lesser Daedra.
Daedra are often worshipped through Tamriel and have shrines dedicated to them littered across the landscapes, particularly prevalent in Vvardenfell
where the ancient Dunmer
revered them as gods before the rise of the Tribunal Temple. Upon their ascent to Godhood, the Tribunal brought the old traditions of Daedra worship into the Temple doctrine, though marked the Daedra as subservient to the power of Vivec
and Sotha Sil
. In temple doctrine the Daedra are roughly split into two groups, the "Good Daedra"; Azura
and Mephala, who 'willingly' submitted to the Tribunal, and the "Bad Daedra"; Mehrunes Dagon
, Malacath, Sheogorath
and Molag Bal
, who openly reject the Tribunal, known to the temple-faithful as The Four Corners of the House of Troubles. The Nerevarine
notably worked with the Daedric Prince Azura in his battle against Dagoth Ur
. Interestingly, despite the Temple regarding her as one of Good Daedra, Azura was instrumental in the downfall of the Tribunal.
Though it's not against the law in the Imperial ruling province of Cyrodiil
, public opinion of such worship is often seen as heretical towards The Nine Divines of the Imperial Cult and the worship is often performed in secret. As such, the shrines found throughout Cyrodiil are often hidden in remote locations, away from the prying eyes of the chantry. With the right offering, or a test of character, the Champion of Cyrodiil was able to summon forth the Daedric Prince of the shrine and, in return for completing a task for the Daedra was rewarded with a powerful magic artifact.
Sometimes called the Daedric Princes, the Daedric Lords are the sixteen Daedra responsible for the creation of and rule over the Daedric Realms. They are each responsible for their own plane and each has a sphere of influence over which they reside. Though at the end of the Third Age they were able to be summoned at will (assuming their petitioner met certain circumstances), traditionally the Daedric Lords can only be freely summoned on specific days, or under specific circumstance. What caused this change is unknown.
The Daedric Lords are as following:
- Azura, her realm is Moonshadow. Her sphere is the dusk and the dawn, the twilight between night and day. She was instrumental in the fulfilling of the Nervarine Prophecies and the fall of the Tribunal. She is associated with two powerful Daedric Artifacts, Azura's Star, a soulgem that can contain multiple powerful souls; and Moon-and-Star a ring that once belonged to Lord Indoril Nerevar.
- Boethiah, his realm is Attribution's Share. His sphere is deceit and conspiracy, assassination, treason the overthrow of authority. His artifact is the Goldbrand, a legendary sword imbued with the power of fire.
- Clavicus Vile, sphere of granting power through invocation and ritual. His artifact is the Masque of Clavicus Vile, dedicated to his own vanity, it provides the wearer with increased charisma and the gift of a silver-tongue. He also requested the Champion of Cyrodiil bring him the legendary blade Umbra.
- Hermaeus Mora, his realm is Apocrypha. His sphere is the scrying of the past and future as read in the stars of the sky, knowledge and memory. His artifact is the Oghma Infinium , a tome that can vastly increase the knowledge of whomever reads it.
- Hircine, his realm is his Hunting Grounds. His sphere is hunting. Every 1000 years he engages in a legendary hunt, known as the Bloodmoon Prophecy and is the father of the lycanthropic werewolves. His known artifacts are the Spear of Bitter Mercy, once stolen by Sheogorath, and the Cuirass of the Saviour's Hide.
- Malacath, his realm is Ashpit. His sphere is the spurned and ostracised. His known artifacts are Volendrung and Scourge, a powerful mace that would banish any Daedra who tries to wield it into the void.
- Mehrunes Dagon, his realm is Deadlands. His sphere is destruction, change and energy. His followers, the Mythic Dawn, are directly responsible for the Oblivion Crisis, and briefly brought their lord into the mortal realm until he was banished back by the avatar of Akatosh. His artifact is Mehrunes' Razor, a blade capable of instantly slaying whoever it strikes.
- Mephala, sometimes known as Webspinner, whose sphere is unknown to mortals. She is only known to interfere for her own amusement. She is closely tied to the Morag Tong, the legal assassins guild of Morrowind. Her artifact is the Ebony Blade, and was at one point in possesion of the Ring of Khajiit.
- Meridia her realm is The Colored Rooms. Her sphere is also known, and during the Oblivion Crisis was in possession of the Ring of Khajiit.
- Molag Bal, his realm is Coldharbour. His sphere is the enslavement and domination of mortal races. Doctrine of the Tribunal Temple paints him as the father of Vampires, though is has also been known to cure mortals of the vampiric disease. His artifact is the Mace of Molag Bal, which has the power to drain the strength of its victims.
- Namira, her realm is the Scuttling Void. Her sphere is the ancient darkness and repulsive creatures. She neither likes nor trusts attractive people, and her artifact is the Ring of Namira which can reflect damage against it's wearer.
- Nocturnal, also known as the Night Mistress, her sphere is the darkness and the night. She is highly revered amongst thieves and her artifact is the Skeleton Key, an unbreakable lockpick.
- Peryite, also known as the Taskmaster, his realm is Peryite's Pit. His sphere is the order of the lower realms of oblivion. He has possession of the Dwemer shield of Spellbreaker.
- Sanguine, whose sphere is hedonism, pleasure and debauchery. He has control over thousands of realms of oblivion, used as 'pleasure pockets.' His artifact is Sanguine Rose which is capable of summoning forth lesser Daedra.
- Sheogorath, also known as Jyggalag, his realm is the Shivering Isles. His sphere is madness. He is known to make bewildering requests to those who summon him, but in returns offers extremely powerful artifacts. Some of his known artifacts include Wabbajack, a staff with the ability to transform creatures; the Staff of Everscamp, able to summon a horde of scamps and the Staff of Sheogorath.
- Vaernima, her realm is Quagmire and her sphere is the realm dreams and nightmares, from which bad omens emerge. Her artifact is the Skull of Corruption, a powerful staff which can create copies of those it strikes.
In addition to the powerful Daedric Lords there are vast numbers of less-powerful, but still deadly lesser Daedra:
- Atronachs, not associated with any of the Daedric Lords, they often take the form of a powerful element be it fire, ice or lightning.
- Clannfear, a servant of Mehrunes Dagon, it is a small reptilian Daedra with a large crested head, resembling a bipedal triceratops. T
- Daedroth, servants to Molag Bal, a tall reptilian Daedra with the head of a crocodile, they are powerful spellcasters.
- Dremora, highly intelligent servants of Mehrunes Dagon. They are skilled warriors and mages and some of the most powerful of the lesser Daedra. They have a strict caste and rank system, uncommon amongst most Daedra.
- Golden Saints, servants to Sheogorath, powerful golden-skinned warriors who often wield rare Glass, Ebony or Dwemer weapons. Their souls are highly sought after by enchanters looking to imbue powerful magicks.
- Hungers, servants to Boethiah, capable of quickly tearing its opponents armor to shreds and feared for its paralysing touch.
- Ogrim, servants to Malacath, a giant and lumbering reptilian beast. Slow on the move and extremely dull-witted it is nevertheless a powerful fighter.
- Scamps, servants to Mehrunes Dagon, though immune to non-magical weaponry, they are weak and skittish. They possess rudimentary intelligence and have been known to converse with mortals. They are often summoned to perform menial or manual labour tasks.
- Spider Daedra, servants of Mephala, they are powerful spellcasters and capable of summoning minions of their own. They are known to be unruly and even Master Conjurers are wary about summoning them into the mortal world.
- Winged Twilights, servants of Azura, resembling harpies these Daedra have strong defenses against spellcasters, and are even capable of reflecting spells back at the caster.
- Xivilai. servants to Mehrunes Dagon, grey-skinned with a traditional demonic appearance. They are master spellcasters and are capable of regenerating magicka from spells they are struck with.