- "You've done well, hunter. And found my favor. That skin will serve you well, child. Look more closely at it. My glories shall protect you from all this world's grievances. Good hunting." — Hircine
Hircine, known as the Huntsman, the Father of Manbeasts, Master of the Great Hunt, Master of Beasts, and Master of the Chase, is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is the Hunt, the Sport of Daedra, the Greatest Game, the Chase and Sacrifice of Mortals. His realm of Oblivion is the Hunting Grounds, an endless forest where the Prince and his Huntsmen hunt great beasts, people, and even other Daedra. Hircine is a sportsman who thrills in the hunt, regardless of the prey, though his worshippers enjoy giving their prey a chance for victory, however small. He is typically portrayed with a great spear and either the head or skull of an elk, said to belong to Y'ffer's champion, the Graht-Elk.
As Hircine is the Father of werebeasts, lycanthropes are his "children". The Huntsman is a guardian to those he has "blessed" with the ability to change forms (though most may see these creatures as "cursed" abominations). Indeed, one of the Prince's artifacts is said to help lycanthropes control their powers.
Hircine's existence appears to have gone unnoticed longer than other Daedric Princes, as he is not spoken of in the most ancient records, and summonings of him appeared rare or nonexistent even to more modern scholars. Nevertheless, he is one of the more widely worshipped Daedric Princes in Tamriel, despite never actively seeking worship or reverence. One reason for Hircine's appeal is how his sphere encompasses the thrill of the hunt and he often seeks out people, tests them, and rewards hunters that have proven themselves worthy with a boon.
There is some belief that Hircine may be allied with Mehrunes Dagon, and shrines to the Huntsman have been erected in places dedicated to Dagon,[nb 1], and Ebonarm is said to be an enemy. His summoning day is the 5th of Mid Year.
There are five known aspects of Hircine:
- Alrabeg the Hunter: He bears the Spear of Bitter Mercy when he manifests. He comes to Nirn to hunt new prey, or brings with him prey native to the Hunting Grounds. It is said that if he arrives without prey, you may be the Hare in his next hunt. Worshippers will sometimes invoke the name of Alrabeg when praying for a bountiful hunt.
- Storihbeg the Manbeast: The wolf aspect wears the Wolf Skull Totem and is known to come to Nirn to hunt with his children, the skinshifters, or to "adopt new children and turn them pelt-side-out". His howl is said to be capable of freezing your innards.
- Uricanbeg the Great Dark Stag: He comes to mate with hinds, and may transform a mortal woman into one for the same purpose. He may also arrive to cull the herd of the weak. His hooves drum the Blood Summons that lure prey into his herd, which are then led into the Hunting Grounds where they meet their end. Some of his offspring have granted some people the honor to use them as mounts.
- Gulibeg the Quick Fox: Is an aspect that wields a Wand of Bone, and manifests to confound mortals, but rewards those he finds clever by teaching them tricks. In a tale, a medallion associated with Gulibeg makes less conventional forms of communication understandable.
- Hrokkibeg the Mighty Bear: He embodies strength and the Totem of Claw and Fang. He comes to seek solitude, peace from labors, and renewal of the Burning Spirit Within, and may bless those who make offerings of mead.
Worship and Culture
Followers of Hircine are promised an afterlife within the Hunting Grounds, a savage land that provides to its dwellers. Here, one can indulge in spectacular hunts, as well as experience an endless cycle of violence as well as death and rebirth. Its inhabitants reside in the many hunting lodges dotting the landscape. The forests of the Hunting Grounds are teeming with powerful beasts, which allow Hircine's followers to engage in the most spectacular hunts. For the devoted, it is a paradise.
Mortals are sometimes allowed into the Hunting Grounds to participate in the Great Hunt, a spectacular event that typically pits various participants of Hircine's choosing against each other for his amusement. Great Hunts are a constant occurrence within the Hunting Grounds, but outside of the Huntsman's realm, they are rare and are rumored to happen once per era. Hircine may call upon a Great Hunt in Nirn for his own amusement, or to punish those that defy him.
When a Great Hunt is hosted on Nirn, Secunda turns red, becoming the Bloodmoon, and the hunt proceeds until it goes away. The Bloodmoon is said to symbolize the blood of the Hunter's Prey, and those wishing to join a Great Hunt craft rounded bone pendants that are stained with blood to symbolize it. Should one emerge victorious from a Great Hunt, they may ask for a grand boon from Hircine.
The Glenmoril Wyrd
The Glenmoril Wyrd covens are known for worshipping Hircine in varying ways. Some within the coven, such as the Hagfeather Coven, the Rimerock Wyrd, and the Markarth Sisters, worship his more feral aspects, while the Ilessan and Viridian Wyrd worship his less feral side, and are known to provide services to cure Lycanthropy. The Reachmen who inhabit the Reach in Skyrim primarily worship Hircine. Their relationship to the Wyrd varies, with conflicts with the Viridian Wyrd coven being reported due to them offering a cure to Lycanthropy. In the Iliac Bay region, the Glenmoril Coven of the Ilessan Hills of High Rock are the only group for whom Hircine will answer a summons.
Hircine, the Hungry Cat, Father of the Hunt, and Spirit of Pursuit and Purposeful Change, is one of the many prominent spirits worshipped by cultists in Khajiiti culture. His sphere is hunting and skinchanging, and he is renowned for his cunning and ferocity. He was born of the second litter of Ahnurr and Fadomai, from which sprang many spirits known in other cultures as the Daedric Princes.
Hircine was once in love with Nirni, but she instead chose Y'ffer to be her mate after he created the first flower for her. A heartbroken Hircine slew the Graht-Elk, champion of Y'ffer, and took to wearing its head as a trophy. The pair made many children together, but eventually Y'ffer became corrupted by the Great Darkness, then struck and killed Nirni. Hircine, along with Azurah and Khenarthi, slew Y'ffer and made a cairn out of his bones for their beloved sister.
The Hungry Cat is said to be fond of Nirni's children (mortals), and frequently walks among them. Some Khajiit believe Hircine to be the father of Nirni's first litter, who were "as changeable as the Moons". This litter would later have their form stabilized by Azurah, who bound their forms to the Ja-Kha'jay. Khajiit pray to Hircine when they have "strayed from the Path", and believe he will guide them back upon it. However, lycanthropy is frowned upon, and seen as a "parody" of Khajiiti faith.
Bosmeri perception of Hircine the Hunter varies. While the Huntsman's name may be invoked for luck in a hunt, going further can can lead to cruel or violent extremes. The only shapeshifting allowed by the Wood Elves' culture is the Wild Hunt, which is only invoked in an act of vengeance or desperation.
In the Dawn Era, before Y'ffre stabilized the forms of most creatures, life was stuck in a chaotic, ever shapeshifting state called the Ooze. From this Ooze, Y'ffre gave shape to the Bosmer, but through the Green Pact forbid them from ever changing that shape. The souls of those who violate the Green Pact would be condemned to return to the Ooze. The Bosmer believe that Hircine wishes to return to this chaotic state. As in other cultures, his cultists see shapeshifting as a gift, and view being culturally mandated to a single form as "tyranny".
In 2E 582, Hircine attempted to meddle in the affairs of the Bosmer, through his cultist, Ulthorn the Hound. The Hound sought to usurp the Silvenar's role and be bonded to the Green Lady through the handfast, and had he succeeded, Hircine's influence would have spread through throughout Valenwood. He and his hounds took the city of Silvenar hostage, but the Vestige succeeded in freeing both the city and the Green Lady from Hircine's control.
Later that year, Hircine would host a Great Hunt within the March of Sacrifices region in his Hunting Grounds, inviting even mortal beings from Tamriel to participate. During this time, the ancient and powerful Werewolf Lord Vykosa amassed the largest werewolf pack that Tamriel has ever seen. She plotted to use this Moon Hunter Pack to take over Nirn and exact revenge on Hircine for forcing her and other werewolves into the role of his prey. Vykosa sent her lieutenant Balorgh along with a reconnaissance squad to infiltrate the Hunting Grounds, though he and his pack would instead opt to participate in the Hunt and seek Hircine's Boon. Unfortunately for Balorgh, Hircine would ultimately grant his boon to the true winners of the Great Hunt, the Undaunted.
Meanwhile, a group of Undaunted would also invade Moon Hunter Keep, a fortress of the Silver Dawn that had been taken over by Vykosa and her pack, and defeated the Werewolf Lord before she could enact her plan.
Around 3E 405, an agent of the Blades paid the Glenmoril Coven of High Rock to summon Hircine. The Huntsman told of a contrite wereboar in the area, and requested he be "taught a lesson". After impressing the Prince by putting the creature out of its "obvious misery", the agent (rumored to also be a werewolf or wereboar) was rewarded with Hircine's Ring.
Skaal legend speaks of the Bloodmoon Prophecy, which foretells the coming of a Great Hunt to the island of Solstheim. According to the Prophecy, a "demon god", the Hunter, will appear on Solstheim with his "Hounds", and initiate the Hunter's Game. The Hunter's arrival would be preceded by three signs: Fire From the Eye of Glass, the Tide of Woe, and the Bloodmoon. When the Nerevarine visited the isle in 3E 427, the Prophecy came to pass.
While investigating a werewolf attack on the Imperial Legion and the disappearance of Captain Falx Carius from Fort Frostmoth, the Nerevarine had to earn the trust of the Skaal. Before long, the signs appeared; a pillar of fire erupted from Lake Fjalding, the shores became littered with dead horkers, and finally, the Bloodmoon appeared. During this time, a pack of werewolves attacked the Skaal Village, and the Nerevarine was infected with Sanies Lupinus—the disease which leads to lycanthropy. However, it is unclear if the Nerevarine cured the disease in time or became a werewolf.
Ultimately, the Nerevarine was taken by Hircine to the Mortrag Glacier, where the Hunter's Game was getting underway. The Prince had chosen four mortals—the missing Captain Carius, Skaal leader Tharsten Heart-Fang, Karstaag the frost giant, and the Nerevarine—for the "honor" of being in his Hunt, as he deemed them worthy hunters. The four mortals were required to navigate a maze within the glacier, fighting off Hircine's Hounds (werewolves) and each other, with the survivor earning the "glory" of the Hunting Grounds to challenge Hircine.
The Nerevarine entered the maze and encountered Captain Carius; the two teamed up against the werewolves, and when it came time to venture deeper into the glacier, Carius volunteered to stay behind. Tharsten Heart-Fang was in the next section and revealed himself to be a werewolf as well before being slain by the Nerevarine. At the heart of the glacier the Nerevarine slew the giant Karstaag, and was met by Hircine. The Huntsman then bestowed the "greatest honor" he could give a mortal—the Nerevarine would be his Prey. The Huntsman allowed the Nerevarine to choose one of his aspects to battle, to give his Prey a sporting chance.
With the Bloodmoon setting, the battle was joined. And when it had set, the Nerevarine stood victorious. Hircine was surprised, but vowed to one day return to Solstheim, to hunt once again under the Bloodmoon. The Nerevarine escaped through a magic portal as the Mortrag Glacier collapsed, ending the Hunter's Game until the next era.
A murder occurred in Skyrim in 4E 201, the victim being a young girl from Falkreath. The Last Dragonborn visited the imprisoned culprit, Sinding, who revealed he was a werewolf. Sinding had taken the Ring of Hircine to help control his condition—this evidently upset the Prince, who cursed the ring to cause the wearer to transform at random. The girl was merely an innocent bystander.
Sinding had come to Falkreath to hunt the majestic White Stag, as Hircine would commune with anyone who slayed it, and wished to beg the Prince's forgiveness. The Dragonborn offered to take the ring to Hircine in Sindig's place, and the werewolf gratefully accepted before escaping his cell. The Dragonborn tracked down and slew the White Stag, and an Aspect of Hircine appeared. The Huntsman agreed to "consider" lifting the ring's curse, but initiated a Great Hunt as he demanded an offering—Sinding's hide. The werewolf was holed up within Bloated Man's Grotto; the Bloodmoon had appeared, and by the time the Dragonborn arrived one group of hunters had already been slain. Sinding made one last plea, asking the Dragonborn to defy Hircine and fight alongside him. It is not known what decision the Dragonborn made, but Sinding never appeared in civilized areas again.
Ring of Hircine
The Ring of Hircine (also known as Hircine's Ring, or The Hircine Ring) is a Daedric artifact created by the Daedric Prince Hircine. In appearance, it is usually an engraved metallic ring showing the head of a wolf, although it has also been known to appear as a spiked leather buckler. The ring can temporarily give the gift of Lycanthropy to the wearer, and allows lycanthropes to control their transformations. Lycanthropes who possess the ring are not affected by the moons or by bloodlust, and can change form at will. Hircine punishes those that did not legitimately earn the ring, stripping the ring of its ability to control transformations and instead making transformations unpredictable. For non-lycanthropes, the ring is often useless, although it has been known to extend the wearer's life and allow for transformation into a werewolf. The ring is known to affect werewolves and wereboars, and likely works on other lycanthropes as well.
Savior's Hide, also known as Scourge of the Oathbreaker, is a Daedric artifact commonly associated with Hircine. Savior's Hide once referred to a full set of armor, known as the Armor of the Savior's Hide (boots, cuirass, gauntlets, greaves, helmet, and pauldrons). Over time, the term Savior's Hide would become predominately used to refer to the Cuirass of the Savior's Hide, as the rest of the armor set have not been seen since 3E 399. The Cuirass makes the wearer resistant to magic.
There are three creation stories to the Hide, with two crediting Hircine and the third crediting Malacath. The more widely known tale involving Hircine holds that the Daedric Prince rewarded the first and only mortal to escape his Hunting Grounds with his peeled Hide. The mortal then had the Hide tailored into the Cuirass for use in their adventures. This version of the story also claims that the Cuirass gave the wearer a resistance to magic. Another version claims that it was Hircine himself who sewed the Savior’s hide from the hide of a werewolf.
The third tradition which credits Malacath is lesser known and contains an inaccuracy, stating that it made the wearer vulnerable to magic. Despite the conflict between the stories, they agree on the points that the Hide would protect from the blows of an oathbreaker, and would protect the wearer from the sting of the Spear of Bitter Mercy.
Spear of Bitter Mercy
The Spear of Bitter Mercy is one of the more mysterious artifacts in Tamrielic lore. Little to nothing is known about the Spear, but it is believed to be of Daedric origin and is usually referred to in a singular sense. In reality, multiple spears exist and were said to be forged by the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, but at least one is associated with his ally Hircine, whom has become the Daedric Prince that is most closely associated with the artifact. Dagon forged the spears for use in the Ritual of the Innocent Quarry, the Great Hunt that takes place within the Chimera of Desolation. Removing the spears from this site is forbidden.
According to Reachmen myth, Hircine is said to wield his Spear of Bitter Mercy when he takes on the aspect of Alrabeg the Hunter. This Spear grants its wielder a magical shield as well as the ability to summon storm atronachs. In appearance it is a metallic spear, usually with two or four protruding prongs surrounding the central spearhead. It is sometimes emblazoned with Daedric Hekem sigils, representing the letter H. Much like other artifacts associated with Hircine, it rejects a user who is unworthy of wielding it.
Spear of the Hunter
The Spear of the Hunter is an artifact associated and often wielded by the Daedric Prince Hircine. It has a floral pattern adorned on its spear head, which has a crosspiece that curves downward on one end. Like another spear associated with Hircine, the Spear of Bitter Mercy, little is known of it, and is one of the more mysterious artifacts in Tamrielic lore.
Totems of Hircine
The Totems of Hircine are ancient artifacts of Hircine, predating mens' ability to write, speak, and properly think. The first is the Totem of Fear, an engraved and feathered wolf skull that is said to have been used by shamans in blood ceremonies to create Lycanthropes. It augment's a werewolf's presence, making people cower in fear save for those that have caught a glimpse of Hircine's face. It is said to be worn by Storihbeg the Manbeast, a wolf aspect of Hircine. The second is the Totem of the Hunt, an engraved thigh bone that augments a lycanthrope's sense of smell and sound. The third is the Totem of the Brotherhood, a mundane drum that allows the summoning of pack members.
Totem of Claw and Fang
The Totem of Claw and Fang is a religious artifact sacred to the Skaal of Solstheim. It is used in their rituals to invoke powerful nature magic to summon the Spirit Bear, which is then tracked down and killed by the Skaal to please the All-Maker during the Ristaag. Hircine's bear aspect Hrokkibeg is also associated with the Totem, and the Skaal and Hircine have come to conflict over it.
The Hunting Grounds
The Hunting Grounds, also known as The Great Hunt, is a realm of Oblivion created and ruled over by Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt. It has been described as a realm of dense woodland and vast grasslands populated by werebears, wild cattle and unicorns. It is a savage land inhabited by vicious creatures such as bears, wolves, werecreatures, and Daedra. These creatures are generally much larger than their counterparts in the mortal realm. The Hunting Grounds are also populated with the spirits of small animals that may be hunted. All whom die within the Hunting Grounds are doomed to remain within the realm after death.
Followers of Hircine are promised an afterlife within the Hunting Grounds, where they can indulge in spectacular hunts, as well as experience an endless cycle of violence as well as death and rebirth. Its inhabitants reside in the many hunting lodges dotting the landscape. The forests of the Hunting Grounds are teeming with powerful beasts, which allow Hircine's followers to engage in the most spectacular hunts. For the devoted, it is a paradise. The souls of lycanthropes are claimed by Hircine and spend eternity experiencing the thrill of the hunt in his Hunting Grounds. However, it is possible for a soul to transfer to the proper afterlife (such as Sovngarde) if their lycanthropy is cured posthumously. During the daylight hours, werebears and fierce Nords stalk the land in their continual Hunt. When the sun sinks below the horizon, Hircine announces himself with a pack of werewolves to take his turn in the cycle.
- 16 Accords of Madness, v. VI — Hircine's Tale
- Aspects of Lord Hircine by Juno Procillus, Academy of Chorrol — Transcribed statement detailing the five aspects of the Daedric Prince Hircine
- The Blessings of Hircine — A call for Bosmer to follow the will of Hircine
- The Book of Daedra — Excerpts from a lengthy tome describing the nature of each of the Daedra
- The Glenmoril Wyrd by Lady Cinnabar of Taneth — A description of witches of the Glenmoril Wyrd
- Invocation of Hircine — Invocation to summon the Daedric Lord of the Hunt
- The Legend of Fallen Grotto — A cautionary tale surrounding the worship and summoning of Hircine
- Legend of Thane Icehammer — The tale of Thane Icehammer's corruption by the Spear of Bitter Mercy
- Living with Lycanthropy — Guidance on living a productive, peaceful life while afflicted with Lycanthropy
- Note from a Glenmoril Witch by Agnes of Glenmoril — Information on a cure for lycanthropy
- Prayer to Hircine — A prayer to the Daedric Lord of the Hunt
- The Totems of Hircine — Werewolf tales regarding artifacts of Hircine
- The Werewolf's Hide by an Unknown Packleader — A werewolf's greatest asset
- Hircine appeared in Sixteen Accords of Madness, Volume VI, where he imbued a Daedroth with the curse of lycanthropy, making a creature which became Hircine's most deadly hunter; however, the monster was tricked into committing suicide, causing the Prince of the Hunt to curse the peak where it happened.
Hircine's statue as seen in Oblivion
The Ring of Hircine (Skyrim)
Spear of Bitter Mercy (Morrowind)
Spear of the Hunter (Bloodmoon)
Savior's Hide (Skyrim)
- The Book of Daedra
- The Hunting Grounds loading screen in ESO
- Invocation of Hircine
- The Requisite Book of Daedra
- Meet the Character - Hanu — Mistress Dratha
- The Shade of Ulthorn's dialogue in ESO
- Varieties of Faith: The Wood Elves — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Hircine's appearance in Daggerfall
- Hircine's appearance in Bloodmoon
- The Worldly Spirits — Amun-dro, the Silent Priest
- Aspects of Lord Hircine — Juno Procillus, Academy of Chorrol
- The Glory of the Hunt — Wyress Strigidae
- The Blessings of Hircine
- Legend of Thane Icehammer
- An Accounting of Werewolves — Sage Svari of Fallowstone Hall
- The Hircine Ring item description in Daggerfall
- Ring of Hircine item in Skyrim
- On Oblivion — Morian Zenas
- The Huntsman Prince — Hanu of the Zainab Tribe
- Hanu's dialogue in ESO: Wolfhunter
- Statue of Hircine in Ularra in ESO
- Factions in Daggerfall
- Holidays in Daggerfall
- Great Dark Stag mount description in ESO
- The Silver Werewolf — Hildegard
- Crafting Motif 31: Skinchanger — Uraccanach the Witchman
- Crafting Motif 65, Huntsman — Uraccanach the Witchman (as transcribed by Juno Procillus, Academy of Chorrol)
- Korst Wind-Eye's dialogue in Bloodmoon
- Events of Hircine's Hunt in Bloodmoon
- Hircine Loading Screen description in Skyrim
- Events of Ill Met By Moonlight in Skyrim
- Bloodmoon Pendant item description in ESO
- The Glenmoril Wyrd — Lady Cinnabar of Taneth
- The Heart of the Beast quest in ESO
- Daedra summoning in Daggerfall
- Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi — Clan Mother Ahnissi
- Varieties of Faith: The Khajiit — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- The Sky Spirits — Amun-dro, the Silent Priest
- Moon Bishop Hunal Answers Your Questions — Moon Bishop Hunal
- Gwaering Answers Your Questions — Gwaering
- The Ooze: A Fable
- Events of the Malabal Tor questline in ESO
- Rolea's Journal — Rolea
- Letter to Mylenne — Vykosa
- Letter to Balorgh — Vykosa
- Balorgh's Plan — Ronela
- The Great Hunt questline in ESO
- Events of Moonlight Ascent in ESO
- Events of Hircine's quest in Daggerfall
- Events of The Disappearance of Captain Carius in Bloodmoon
- Events of The Skaal Test of Strength in Bloodmoon
- Events of The Castle Karstaag in Bloodmoon
- Events of The Siege of the Skaal Village in Bloodmoon
- Hircine's dialogue in Bloodmoon
- Events of Hircine's quest in Oblivion
- Sinding's dialogue in Skyrim
- 16 Accords of Madness, v. VI
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.