Ghosts, are the disembodied souls of the deceased for one reason or another are unable to move on to their respective afterlife. They are classified as being a form of undead known as the Returned. Most often, they remain on Nirn because they had some form of unfinished business they wanted to see completed before they moved on. But they could also come about when prevented from entering the afterlife. One of the known methods of this is through the use of curses, magical rituals can be preformed to summon and bind them to Nirn. One of the most prolific methods of bringing back souls as ghosts is through the use of necromancy.
Ghosts come in many shapes and forms— some are so degraded they appear to only have their upper bodies, while others may appear skeletal, or whatever shape their body was in death. Most often, they will appear exactly how they did in life. During combat, ghosts can see invisible enemies and often have a chilling effect on those they attack, being also able to drain the magicka of their enemies from a distance. They can even be hard to hit, often hiding in the shadows where they are effectively invisible.
Similar to other supernatural creatures, ghosts are often the target of professional hunters dedicated in dealing with them, with some of those hunters encountering various strange spirits and unusual entities during their hunts.
- 1 History
- 2 Ghosts of Animals
- 3 Powers
- 4 Cultural Significance
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Notes
- 7 See Also
- 8 References
Before the rise of Reman Cyrodiil as emperor of the Second Empire, legends state that Cyrodiil bled with ghosts thanks to the chaos of the period when the Imperial Province lacked an emperor or the Alessian Empire.
At some point, the Daedric Prince Molag Bal made a pact with a priest of Stendarr that caused a curse to befall the Breton village of Westtry, causing the inhabitants of the entire village to become ghosts and relive their invasion in the hands of Nords over and over again as. The curse of the town was later broken thanks to the aid of the Vestige, using a magical gem in order to free the spirits of the townspeople, allowing the people of the village to finally find some rest.
In 2E 578 or 2E 579 the infamous necromancer Mannimarco, convinced the Cyrodilic Emperor Varen Aquilarios that, despite not being Dragonborn, if they slightly modified the coronation ritual, they would be able to both relight the Dragonfires and convince Akatosh to gift Varen with the blood of a dragon. However, Mannimarco corrupted the Amulet of Kings, and, by performing the ritual, Varen broke the divine covenant of Akatosh and Alessia which protected Nirn from the forces of Oblivion. This caused what was known as the Soulburst, which not only tore the veil between Mundus and Oblivion but also tore the veil between Aetherius and Nirn. This tearing increased the number of hauntings to record levels, even average mortals were able to visibly and audibly hear ghosts, and wraiths they normally would have never been able to see or hear. The tearing in the veil also allowed necromancers to raise many forms of undead on an unprecedented scale. Its unclear if staving off the Planemeld allowed for these restless spirits to return to Aetherius.
In 2E 582 an army of Chimer spirits led by General Radrathren, returned to haunt the ancient battlefield of the Starved Plain, near the city of Davon's Watch in Stonefalls. The ghostly army was not only just a threat to invading Daggerfall Covenant soldiers, who were invading Daven's Watch at the time but also a threat to the Ebonheart Pact armies repelling the Daggerfall Covenant army. The Vestige was tasked with finding a solution to the threat. One mage suggested enslaving the ghosts to fight for the Pact, and help defend against the Covenant, while the other mage suggested the ghosts should be set free and returned back to their natural rest. It is unknown if the Vestige decided to free the army or instead took the suggestion of enslaving the army to help defend Davon's Watch.
During the same year, the Bloodthorn Cult violated the tomb of Warcaller Targoth and his warriors in Betnikh, dragging their spirits back into the mortal realm as ghosts, with the commander of the cult using the magical war horn of Targoth in order to attract he and his warriors. The ghost of Targoth then asked the Vestige for help, with the hero later freeing the warcaller, although it is unclear if they freed his warriors as well by returning the magical horn or if they remained as spirits if the horn was kept.
If the horn was kept, the army of ghosts would have been present during an attack against the Bloodthorn Cult by the local orcs of Betony of the Seamount Clan, giving their living kin a valuable reinforcement during the battle, with Targoth himself recognizing the reason to keep the horn as he and his warriors were able to help their living kin even in a ghostly form.
The same Bloodthorn Cult would later attack a burial mound in the Glenumbra region of High Rock, where they similarly began to enslave the spirits of the dead to do their biding. Once again the Vestige interfered, killing the cultists who were attempting to bind the ghosts and also defeating the spirit of one of the great heroes who had been successfully enslaved, freeing the ghosts in the process.
Meanwhile in Stormhaven, a group of ghosts of bandits began to threaten the surrounding area of the cave where they had been originally starved to death, with many spectral archers, brigands and rogues at their side. The Vestige later aided the ghost of the knight that attempted to kill the bandits in life, defeating the spirits of the criminals and trapping them inside the sword of the knight, fulfilling the vow of the soldier and allowing him to rest as well as ending a threat to the region.
In 3E 253, the Camoran Usurper sent the Nightmare Host to take control of the Barony of Dwynnen. According to legend, it comprised of a lich ruler and its army of undead, including ghosts. These monsters were defeated by Othrok and his holy army of men and animals. Othrok went on to become the first Baron of Dwynnen and his army later became the modern-day Order of the Raven.
Imperial Simulacrum and Warp in the West
Ghosts and Wraiths were often encountered across Tamriel as enemies by the Eternal Champion during their mission to free the Emperor of Tamriel at the time, Uriel Septim VII, from his prison in Oblivion. Years later, King Lysandus and his legions of ghosts haunted the streets of the city of Daggerfall at night and trying to communicate with the dead monarch was futile, as he only moaned the word “Vengeance”. It was even recommended that people should not wander the streets of the city at night as any travelers would be certainly attacked.
The hauntings would only end thanks to an Agent of the Blades who interfered, with the hero being able to soothe the rage of the ghost after sprinkling a special dust onto Lysandus' corpse, allowing the two to communicate. Lysandus informed the hero about his wish for vengeance against Lord Woodborne of Wayrest. With the death of Woodborne and Lysandus vengeance complete, the spirit of the king was able to return to the afterlife alongside his legions of ghosts, leaving Daggerfall safe.
Other hauntings often happened in houses in the Illiac Bay done by ghosts that said that they built the houses that were haunted, with temples of the Divines often asking adventurers to deal with the issue in return for appreciation of the temple that contracted the adventurer in question. Similar quests were also offered to the members of those temples as well. Members of the Benevolence of Mara were also sometimes asked to deal with a haunting that happened in their sacred shrines in the region and if the member failed, Maran Knights would be sent instead, causing the ghost in question to rest in peace regardless.
Similarly, Knightly Orders of the Illiac Bay often had to deal with exorcisms of ghosts as well, as the spirits often haunted abandoned properties that nobles resided, with the nobles in question contracting the Orders for the job. If the job was refused by a knight, the Order might have turned the job to the temples of the Divines instead.
By the time of the appearance of the Nerevarine in 3E 427, many ghosts were found across Vvardenfell and in the underground ruins of Mournhold, particularly in the ancestral tombs spread across the island. Some ghosts of the Dwemer were also found haunting the ruins of their cities at the time, both in Vvardenfell but also in the underground portions of Mournhold.
One ghost was even seen in a section of Vivec City while another haunted an inn in the Telvanni city of Sadrith Mora, ruining the local business of the establishment and scaring customers, with this special ghost being able to be killed again but always returning. Investigations eventually pointed out that a conjuration expert was to blame, with the conjurer saying they were using the haunting as a joke. Members of the Imperial Cult of Vvardenfell sometimes had to deal with similar hauntings that caused problems, such as one that happened beneath a house that was built on top of a Dunmer ancestral tomb.
In the island of Solstheim, spirit bears were part of a Skaal ceremony that involved their hunting as part of a ritual known as Ristaag that was meant to bring the favor of the All-Maker. It is possible that the hunt of 3E 427 went well or that the hunters were killed, although the spirit died again regardless.
Later, many ghosts were found across the Imperial Province of Cyrodiil by the time of the Oblivion Crisis, usually being found in Ayleid ruins, some caves or even in the undercrofts of chapels. Notable occurrences of ghosts during this period happened after an entire family was murdered by a member of the Dark Brotherhood, causing the matriarch to attempt to attack the assassin in a ghostly form and another happened in Anvil where a manor was being haunted and the curse on the location had to be lifted by the one who bought it.
There was a ghost that haunted the Niben Bay that people have dubbed the "Forlorn Watchman". He would always appear at 8 PM and sadly overlook the water from the ruins of Fort Irony. The people claimed that the ghost died in a horrible shipwreck but the truth had eventually come out. The ghost was originally the sailor, Grantham Blakeley, who was thrown overboard during a mutiny in 3E 421. An adventurer caught wind of the legend and tracked down the ghost in his usual haunt. Blakeley pointed them to the shipwreck on the Mouth of the Panther and released his soul from the mortal world by destroying his killer, the mutineer and gloom wraith, Gable the Traitor.
By this time, several ghosts of members of the Blades were found in the ruins of Sancre Tor after being freed from a curse that kept them as undead by the Champion of Cyrodiil. Another haunting event was seen in a ship of Anvil known as The Serpent's Wake, with the ghosts of the crew remaining after being murdered, with the Champion of Cyrodiil being asked to retrieve a crystal ball found inside the ship, likely causing the hero to attack the spirits in the process. The Champion would later put an end to the curse Sheogorath placed upon the ghosts inhabiting Vitharn, a curse that for many years forced them to relive the events of their defeat at the hand of Vassal Fanatics. When the curse was lifted the spirits were finally able to move on to their rest.
By the year 4E 201, several cases of ghosts and hauntings were seen in the region of Skyrim, with them being seen in ruins, the wilds and sometimes even in populated areas. A notable case of ghosts happened after a necromancer amassed a legion of enslaved ghostly followers who were eventually asked by the necromancer to gather other people in order for their numbers to be further expanded, allowing for a potential threat to Skyrim as this army was built up.
Several ghostly visions of members of the College of Winterhold were also seen by this time by a member of the College while the person was delving in the Nordic ruin of Labyrinthian, with most of the ghosts appearing to relive their final moments. Two of the spectres were holding the Dragon Priest Morokei with magic, having remained in that state thanks to the actions of Savos Aren.
Ghosts of Animals
Daedrats, despite being Daedra, can also appear as ghosts and have been said to follow the ones that killed them to where the killers go and are sometimes used to scare away other people. Other animals, such as cats, can also appear as ghosts, with Nibenese legends stating that a cat can haunt the house where its owner was murdered, with the cat being sent by Lord Hollowjack to torment the killer with shame and guilt.
While many ghosts are explainable, others are not, and scholars from Alinor even speculated the reasons on why an indrik would linger after death, with a suggestion being made that they simply pick someone worthy to follow all the time. Ghosts of chickens also sometimes had a similar mystery behind their existence, with it being suggested that they might appear after killing those animals in places that are already haunted.
One of the favored feline companions of Telvanni wizards is a type of cat from the city of Necrom said to be capable of seeing spirits. Other cats are also said to have the same ability and can even keep company to ghosts that are haunting houses.
Ghosts of animals are sometimes used as mounts both by other ghosts and the living, such as is the case for horses returned from the grave.
People with the knowledge of the Psijic Order can summon creatures with the appearance of ghostly animals as well, such as is the case of some beasts that take the appearance of a tangible Ghost Cat and are said to manifest as an Y'frren spirit of the Green.
Some indriks are capable of not dying at all and instead live as haunting apparitions that walk between two words but can choose a companion to serve well, with the animals even becoming mountable. There are Altmer of the Summerset Isles who claim that this choice of the indrik is a true sign of the worthiness of the rider.
The nature of ghosts gives many of them special capabilities when it comes to their manifestations, with some of them being able to fly and use the shadows to turn invisible. Other ghosts have spells that are capable of dealing considerable damage at a short range and are only able to be damaged by weapons made out of silver or better materials, therefore being completely invulnerable to unprepared adventurers.
Ancestor ghosts seen in the region of Morrowind were also immune to weapons made out of normal materials, with some of them being able to cast curses in their enemies, reducing various capabilities while also causing damage. At least one of the ghosts in Vvardenfell was even able to give the disease of Brown Rot to the ones that they attacked.
Various ghosts can also use frost spells natural to them in order to combat their enemies, with some of those ghosts even being immune to effects of silence, causing them to be dangerous and problematic even to prepared mages. Some of the ghosts with those capabilities of attack and defense have been seen to not be affected by normal weapons, but are able to be hit if the weapon in question is enchanted.
While many ghosts have special offensive abilities, there are also those that merely retain and use what they had in life, such as archers that can use their own bow and arrows, even if in spectral form, as a way of offense against their enemies. They are still capable of disappearing without leaving a trace behind if they need to move somewhere else though, showing access to supernatural powers. Other ghosts can be seen wearing a variety of weapons other than bows such as swords and battleaxes, sometimes using a shield for defensive purposes.
The powers of the ghosts are not limited to only combat, as they can also be valuable with information, sometimes holding knowledge that mortals are not aware of and that can be precious even to a god, therefore being able to help with advice in various ways. Ghosts can also perform various duties even in their spectral form, although sometimes they might not be aware that the area that they are acting for is not abandoned, with the god Auri-El being known as capable of having his followers in such a state. Ghosts are also one of the many creatures that are capable of escaping physical barriers naturally, forcing mages to create spells with a high cost of magicka in order to contain them, although objects like binding stones can also be used.
Some ghosts are also capable of opening portals to their last moments of life, allowing the one that steps through the portal to see a vision of what happened, with the vision being able to show events as they happened even in the eyes of the enemies of the ghost that opened the portal.
For the Dunmer, the proximity with the ghosts of the deceased is one much closer if compared to other races, with the ghosts being generally able to be interacted and honored. Ghosts can even be found defending the hearth, teaching wisdom to future generations and allowing some to know better about the future, in return they are guarded and protected by the Dunmer, who keep a close proximity with them.
The bond between a Dunmer and the ghostly ancestors is partially blood, ritual and volitional, with a member being brought into a House thanks to marriage being able to bind themselves through ritual to another House and therefore gain access to communicate and benefit from the ancestors of another family. That bond of marriage is weaker than the one of their offspring, and they still maintain access to their own ancestors who can be contacted and worshipped in a family shrine.
This relationship with the ancestors and their ghosts is extremely intimate and personal, but also quite serious. Dunmer also feel that all that they think and do is under the watchful eye of the ancestor spirits, causing a special interaction with those ghosts. Ancestor worship is also practiced by the Ashlander tribes and was not exclusive to the Tribunal Temple Dunmer when the Tribunal were an active force as gods.
Due to those beliefs, both the Tribes and the Temple believed that forcefully summoning the ghosts of the ancestors was a shameful and sinful act as it not only made them slaves but also took the spirits out of their own world. The Dunmer did often consider it cruel to take the spirits even if it was done out of their own will in service and love to family and their race, but it was seen as much worse if it was forceful necromancy, with the action not being tolerated in Morrowind in general.
There are many legends and spooky stories in High Rock involving ghosts and their hauntings, with many ruined castles and other ruins that dot the countryside, with each likely having a story of ghosts behind it. The ruins of Baelborne Rock and Dresan Keep in particular had many legends surrounding them while other areas were completely suggested that they should be avoided both thanks to the hauntings and the danger that the undead posed. Glenumbra as a whole is known for being haunted, its said that everyone living there has some story to tell about a haunting, while the woods of Daenia are believed to be haunted, they are actually inhabited by spirits of nature. The most haunted area within Glenumbra is the Glenumbra Moors, the area where the Battle of Glenumbra Moors took place in the First Era. Another famous haunted location within Glenumbra is the cemetery of Cath Bedraud, where many of those who died at the Battle of Glenumbra Moors were buried. During times of heavy fog, ghostly lights and moans have been reported to be seen in the vicinity of the cemetery.
Another area with many ghost stories is the Cambray Hills where Camlorn is located, as that part of High Rock is known for being haunted as well, with any given member of the populace being believed to know to usually have an unique ghost story or two.
It was speculated that some talismans made by Bosmer were created and worn in order to ward off ghosts or to keep spirits from crawling back out of tar-pits where the Bosmer that disobeyed the Green Pact were buried, sometimes alive.
An ancient Nordic tale, known as Yngol and the Sea-Ghosts refers to the death of Ysgramor's eldest son, Yngol, at the hands of vengeful "Sea-Ghosts". An odd custom observed in Solitude in the Second Era, involves placing a bowl of sea water inside the doorway to a house. This is believed to capture any wandering spirits that may come from the Sea of Ghosts.
- Sometimes necromancers are suggested to use their servants sparingly and to allow no one to see them in order to cause others to eventually forget the undead. This was one of the practices done to combat Arkay and his influence, as the blessings of such a divine prevents those buried with proper rituals from being raised, which could likely affect the presence of ghosts as well.
- Despite being somewhat common across Tamriel, there are those that show that they do not believe in ghosts.
- Superstitious sailors are known to tell ghost stories, which include the presence of entire ghost ships as well.
- For game-specific information, see the Arena, Daggerfall, Battlespire, Shadowkey, Oblivion, Oblivion Mobile, Skyrim, ESO, Legends, and Blades articles.
- Unhallowed Legions — Phrastus of Elinhir
- Distinctions of Appearance, throughout the TES Games.
- Arena Ghost description
- Twilight Cantors: The Exorcists of Azurah — Theyo Prevette
- Events of The Ghosts of Westtry in ESO
- Events of Memento Morri in ESO
- Chronicles of the Five Companions
- Gabrielle Benele Answers Your Questions
- Introduction to the Lore of The Elder Scrolls Online
- Events of Through the Aftermath in Elder Scrolls Online
- Warcaller Targoth's dialogue in ESO
- Events of Tormented Souls in ESO
- Events of Carzog's Demise in ESO
- Events of Servants of Ancient Kings in ESO
- Sir Edain's Spirit's dialogue in ESO
- Events of Legacy of the Three in ESO
- The Third Era Timeline — Jaspus Ignateous
- The Fall of the Usurper — Palaux Illthre
- Order of the Raven faction description in Daggerfall
- Events of Arena
- Curse of Daggerfall quest in Daggerfall
- Instructions from the Empire quest in Daggerfall
- Lysandus' Revelation quest in Daggerfall
- Lysandus' Revenge quest in Daggerfall
- The Spook quest in Daggerfall
- The Haunted House quest in Daggerfall
- A Powerful Spirit quest in Daggerfall
- The Exorcism quest in Daggerfall
- Events of Morrowind
- Dwarven Spectre presence in Morrowind
- Dahrk Mezalf presence in Morrowind
- Radac Stungnthumz presence in Tribunal
- Ancestor Guardian presence in Morrowind
- Events of the Gateway Ghost in Morrowind
- Events of the The Haunting in Morrowind
- Events of the The Ristaag in Bloodmoon
- Events of the Disrupt the Skaal Hunt in Bloodmoon
- Events of Oblivion
- Presence of Perennia Draconis in Oblivion
- Where Spirits Have Lease quest in Oblivion
- The Forlorn Watchman quest in Oblivion
- Log of the Emma May, 3E 421
- Blood of the Divines quest in Oblivion
- The Ghost Ship of Anvil quest in Oblivion
- Events of Ghosts of Vitharn in Oblivion
- Events of Skyrim
- Arondil's Journal — Arondil
- The Staff of Magnus quest in Skyrim
- The Cure for Madness quest in Skyrim
- Ghostly Daedrat pet description in ESO
- Ghostly Housecat pet description in ESO
- Haunting Indrik pet description in ESO
- Spectral Chicken pet description in ESO
- Necrom Ghostgazer Cat pet description in ESO
- Haunted House Cat pet description in ESO
- True Ghost Horse mount description in ESO
- Green-Graht Ghost Cat mount description in ESO
- Spectral Indrik mount description in ESO
- Ghost abilities and weapon resistance in Daggerfall
- Ancestor Ghost abilities and weapon resistance in Morrowind
- Wraith of Sul-Senipul Brown Rot disease chance in Morrowind
- Ghost abilities and immunities in Oblivion
- Katria abilities in Skyrim
- Companion Ghost equipment in Skyrim
- Events of Divine Conundrum in ESO
- Gelebor's dialogue in Dawnguard
- The Binding Stone — the Office of the Canonreeve of Corrections
- Events of Unearthing the Past in ESO
- The Doors of the Spirit
- Ancestors and the Dunmer
- Reflections on Cult Worship — Cuseius Plecia
- Progress of Truth — Dissident Priests
- Blasphemous Revenants
- Ghosts of Glenumbra — Jean Dutheil
- Glenumbra's People — Aldous Brousseau
- Protective Tar Warding Sigil antiquity codex entries in ESO: Greymoor
- Yngol and the Sea-Ghosts
- On:Nelos Drurel
- Great Spirits of the Reach — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
- Arkay the Enemy — KW
- Ralion's Journal — Ralion
- Letter to Captain Oghul — Dulzur