- "You think you lose, you die, and that's the end. It's not." – Clavicus Vile
Clavicus Vile, also known as the Prince of Trickery and Bargains, and Nycot to some Second Era cultists who lacked the ability to read Daedric script, is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is the granting of power and wishes through ritual invocations and pacts. He is seen as one of the more "sophisticated" of the Daedric Princes, and often appears in the guise of a jovial Skaafin, a race of horned Daedra that inhabit the Fields of Regret, his realm in Oblivion.
Clavicus finds eternity to be "boring", so he finds entertainment in watching mortals and occasionally meddling in their affairs. He has been known to be the patron to vampires, gracing them with social stature, reason and savvy, allowing them to not only live among regular mortals, but to hold powerful positions in society. However, not all of Vile's machinations are necessarily insidious; he has been known to reward those who, on his direction, eliminate threats to the general public (while still serving his own interests).
Vile is rarely seen without his loyal companion, Barbas. Barbas typically assumes the form of a dog, but is also known to appear as a Scamp named Creeper. The two are so close, Barbas is almost universally depicted alongside his master in artwork and statuary. In fact, Vile has been known to store up to half his power within Barbas. These facts have led to speculation that the pair are, in fact, two halves of the same being.
Barbas is the Hound of Clavicus Vile. He is a shapeshifting Daedra, although he most commonly takes on the form of a dog or Skaafin. Barbas acts as a repository for around half of Vile's power, though behaves as his loyal servant rather than equal, often pining for his approval to little avail. According to Vile, he likes being a dog—as well as many other things—on sunny days. "When he's like this, I think he's somewhere else. It's all quite significant, of course... But who knows what it means." Although Vile is always depicted along with Barbas, the Prince has at times grown tired of and abandoned him. While Barbas seems to be subservient to Clavicus Vile, he also often warns people against Vile's plots, suggesting he has some discretion and free will. He sometimes takes the form of a musically talented scamp merchant named Creeper.
At some point in the Early Second Era, Clavicus Vile formed a secretive alliance known only as the 'The Triad,' pacting with two other princes, Mephala and Nocturnal. Their goal was to gain total control of Nirn by any means possible. Their first known target was the mythical Crystal Tower on Summerset. As part of their scheme, Clavicus Vile made a deal with the Sloads of Ul'vor Kus—he would give them the island of Summerset in exchange for a piece of Transparent Law, the 'Stone' of the Crystal Tower. The Cabal of Sea Sloads brainwashed the Ritemaster of the Psijic Order, Iachesis, into stealing Transparent Law, but Nocturnal secretly betrayed Clavicus Vile and Mephala and helped Iachesis hide the Stone from the rest of the Triad until such time as she could move forward with her own plans. Iachesis then moved the island of Artaeum off of Nirn entirely to avoid falling under the influence of the Princes yet again. With the Triad's plan seemingly foiled, they moved on and began to plot their next move.
In the sixth century, at the height of the Khanaten Flu within Black Marsh, the Kothringi people were on the verge of extinction. In a desperate effort to save themselves, a singular tribe in Northern Shadowfen turned to the Daedra for help. Clavicus Vile offered to save their tribe at the cost of their mortality, and they accepted; surviving, but becoming undead unable to die. They would continue their way of life until 582, when the Vestige discovered the truth of the tribe and was given a choice by Clavicus Vile; They could break the curse and kill the last of the Kothringi, including those who wanted to continue living, or they could doom the rest of the unwilling Kothringi to continue their suffering forevermore. Which fate the Vestige picked for the Kothringi is unknown.
Following this, the Triad found that their next target would be the fabled Clockwork City. While the Triad began their attempts to locate it, Barbas enacted his own plan in an attempt to please his master. The Prince's companion infiltrated Vvardenfell and utilized godly energy he had siphoned from Vivec to locate and invade the Clockwork City. And though Barbas' invasion was thwarted by the Vestige, and Vivec's stolen energy was returned before Vvardenfell was destroyed, he nevertheless succeeded in locating the Clockwork City for his Clavicus Vile.
Now knowing how to enter the Clockwork City, the Triad quickly launched a full scale coup within it. Nocturnal replaced Sotha Sil with a shadowy replica and imprisoned the Clockwork God within his own throne. The Vestige would once again intervene and free Sotha Sil, seemingly foiling the Triads plans once more. In reality, however, Nocturnal had tricked Clavicus Vile and Mephala once more and succeeded in stealing crucial information for the final part of her plan.
The Triad turned their attention once more to the Crystal Tower following this failure, seeking some way to find the missing Heart of Transparent Law or otherwise gain entrance to the Tower. Clavicus Vile would send the Abyssal Cabal to Summerset once more in an attempt to hunt down Iachesis and pull the location from his mind. This chase would eventually lead into Nocturnal's realm, Evergloam, where her treachery was revealed and it was discovered that the Heart was hidden within Iachesis himself. Clavicus Vile and Mephala both immediately manifested within the realm to claim it, only for Nocturnal to banish them both and rip it out of the Ritemaster herself. Noctural, utilizing a technique stolen from the Clockwork City and the omnipresent nature of the Crystal Tower, would attempt to drain the life out of every single reality and use that power to become everything. Clavicus Vile begrudgingly allied himself with the Psijic Order and the Vestige in order to stop her, granting them access to the Crystal Tower's counterpart in his own realm and having Barbas lead the charge against Nocturnal's invading forces. After the Vestige succeeded in finally putting a stop to Nocturnal's plot, Clavicus Vile joined the Coldharbour Compact alongside Mephala and disbanded the Triad for good.
The famed hero Cyrus the Redguard ventured into to Clavicus Vile's realm in 2E 864, seeking the soul of his sister, Iszara. Vile kindly gave him an opportunity to have it—the two gambled, the Prince wagering Iszara's soul, and Cyrus wagering his own. 
Around 3E 405, an agent of the Blades working in the Iliac Bay region summoned Clavicus Vile. The Prince agreed to give the agent the Masque of Clavicus Vile in exchange for killing a werewolf that was terrorizing the area.
The Bittercup, a relic associated with the Prince became the focus of a Thieves Guild operation in Vvardenfell in 3E 427. The Nerevarine retrieved the artifact from the ruins of Ald Redaynia and used it to bribe Eydis Fire-Eye, a member of the Balmora Fighters Guild and secret worshipper of Clavicus Vile.
The Nerevarine also came into possession of the legendary sword Umbra, by defeating its previous owner, an Orc named Umbra, who had grown tired of life. The Nerevarine later sold the sword to Torasa Aram, curator of Mournhold's Museum of Artifacts.
Umbra resurfaced in Cyrodiil in 3E 433. Vile tasked the Champion of Cyrodiil with retrieving the sword from a Bosmer named Umbra, in exchange for his Masque. However, Barbas attempted to dissuade the Champion from doing so, saying the sword was "bad business" and if Clavicus regained the sword it would "ruin him". It is unclear whether or not the Champion returned the sword, but it was known to be in the Prince's possession a few years later.
In 4E 201, Barbas approached the Last Dragonborn outside of Falkreath in Skyrim for help. He and Clavicus had gotten into a heated argument, and the Prince kicked Barbas out until he could get someone to settle things. Barbas led the Dragonborn to a vampire-infested shrine to his master. After killing the vampires (who were seeking a cure, inadvertently granted), Vile asked the Dragonborn to retrieve an artifact, the Rueful Axe. Upon returning with the axe, Vile offered to let the Dragonborn keep it in exchange for killing Barbas, though Barbas suggested the Prince offer his Masque instead though it is not known which option the Dragonborn took.
Masque of Clavicus Vile
The Masque of Clavicus Vile (also known as The Masque of Clavicus) is a helm which makes the wearer more popular wherever he or she might go. Much like other Daedra and their artifacts, Clavicus seems to retain ultimate control of the Masque and may recall it without warning.
The best known story of the Masque tells the tale of Avalea, a noblewoman of some renown. As a young girl, she was grossly disfigured by a spiteful servant. Avalea made a dark deal with Clavicus Vile and received the Masque in return. Though the Masque did not change her looks, suddenly she had the respect and admiration of everyone. A year and a day after her marriage to a well connected baron, Clavicus Vile reclaimed the Masque. Although pregnant with his child, Avalea was banished from the Baron's household. Twenty one years and one day later, Avalea's daughter claimed her vengeance by slaying the Baron.
The Umbra Sword is a Daedric artifact designed with the sole purpose of the entrapment of souls. The ancient witch Naenra Waerr created the sword at the request of Clavicus Vile, who wanted the sword as a tool of mischief which would send him souls from the mortal realm. Naenra created the sword, but it was unstable, requiring Vile to give the witch a piece of his power to be imbued in the sword in order to stabilize it. However, Naenra (sometimes accredited with being Sheogorath in disguise) supposedly tricked him, as the piece of Vile's power imbued in the sword became a sentient being which called itself Umbra. Naenra was executed for her evil creation, but not before she hid the sword. The sword took on a life of its own, remaining hidden until a worthy wielder was found. Umbra then slowly takes control of the wielder. The Umbra Sword has the ability to change shape, but it is always in the form of a bladed weapon. It has been reported as a black and silver claymore, a jet black longsword and as a black sword emblazoned with red markings. The sword is also known to have the ability to absorb the health and stamina of those it strikes.
The Rueful Axe
The Rueful Axe is a Daedric artifact created by the Daedric Prince, Clavicus Vile. It takes the form of a large iron battleaxe engraved with images of werewolves, although it is actually made of ebony. It is enchanted to magically fatigue anyone that it strikes.
The axe was supposedly created by Vile for Sebastian Lort, a powerful Breton conjurer whose daughter was a worshipper of Hircine and cursed with lycanthropy. To cure his daughter, Sebastian prayed to Vile for his aid. In response, the Prince gave him the axe, allowing him a means of "curing" his daughter-- by slaying her. Sometime afterward, Sebastian would lose the axe.
Feyfolken is a (possibly fictional) artifact of Clavicus Vile, which is the subject of a historical fiction trilogy. It is a quill enchanted with the soul of a Daedric servant of Clavicus Vile named Feyfolken, at the request of Thaurbad, a sage for the Temple of Auri-El. It transfigures the writing of the user into scripture of unparalleled quality. The trade-off of wielding such an item is that the quill manipulates the thoughts of its holder. In the case of Thaurbad, he was driven to suicide, even writing notes to whomever would discover his body.
Fields of Regret
The Fields of Regret are a realm of Oblivion, created and ruled over by Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Wishes. The realm appears as a tranquil countryside, dotted with majestic cities of glass and ornate buildings and populated by Skaafin. It contains dense forests, lakes, and mountains, with floating golden metals and stone spirals filling the landscape. The city of Umbriel was once a part of the realm, but was eventually severed and came to rest in the Realm of the Hist.
- Feyfolken by Waughin Jarth — The Great Sage tells a story of Artaeum, Psijics, and Robotic Enchanters
- The Nycotic Cult by Ordinator Alurua of the Order of Doctrine and Ordination — An Ordinator's letter regarding Clavicus Vile cultists
- The Vile Truth of Barbas From the notes of Pelagius Habor, Council Daedrologist-in-Residence, Imperial City — A scholarly essay on the relationship between Clavicus Vile and Barbas
As seen in Daggerfall
Clavicus Vile's statue in Oblivion
Clavicus Vile's statue in Skyrim
Clavicus Vile's statue in ESO
Clavicus Vile's statue from ESO Morrowind
The Masque of Clavicus Vile in Skyrim
The Bittercup in Morrowind
- Clavicus Vile's dialogue in Redguard
- The Nycotic Cult — Ordinator Alurua of the Order of Doctrine and Ordination
- The Book of Daedra
- Loremaster's Archive: Arthenice Belloq Answers Your Questions — Arthenice Belloq
- Clavicus Vile's appearance in Daggerfall
- Clavicus Vile's appearance in Redguard
- Clavicus Vile's Appearance in ESO
- Events of ESO
- Manifesto Cyrodiil Vampyrum
- Events of Daggerfall
- The Vile Truth of Barbas — Pelagius Habor, Council Daedrologist-in-Residence, Imperial City
- Barbas' appearance in Skyrim
- Events of Morrowind
- Barbas' dialogue in Oblivion
- Clavicus Vile's statue in Skyrim
- Clavicus Vile's dialogue in Skyrim
- Events of The Summerset Expansion of ESO
- Events of ESO
- Events of The Morrowind Expansion of ESO
- Events of The Clockwork City DLC of ESO
- Events of Redguard
- Events of the Bitter Cup quest in Morrowind
- Gentleman Jim Stacey's dialogue in Morrowind
- Events of the Umbra quest in Morrowind
- Events of Tribunal
- Events of Oblivion
- Events of The Infernal City
- Events of A Daedra's Best Friend quest in Skyrim
- Feyfolken I — Waughin Jarth
- Feyfolken II — Waughin Jarth
- Feyfolken III — Waughin Jarth