The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim dragon hunting guide

Main Storyline Encounters

In this section of the guide we will take a look at all of the unavoidable encounters with dragons that occur through the main storyline. There are only five dragons you must fight to complete the game although plenty more will attack you while trying to progress from one point to another. There are even a number of unique dragons that will attack in service to their lord Alduin but these are covered in the following section.

Mirmulnir – The First Dragon Encounter

The very first dragon you will battle is Mirmulnir. This isn’t that bad even for the unprepared since you will have numerous allies fighting alongside you. Since Mirmulnir gets so distracted trying to eat the basic soldiers you’re spoiled for choice on how to handle him. This fight is incredibly easy no matter how it’s approached if we’re being honest.

A melee character is best off hanging out inside of the tower and keeping track of the beasts’ movements until it lands. Rushing out of the tower, get a few attacks in and then retreat once it takes to the air again. Mages should do much the same since it’s unlikely that you’re prepared to go toe to toe with a dragon at this point.

But the easiest way to handle this fight is to simply bring a bow with you as the above video demonstrates. While he can strafe you with fire when you’re on top of the tower if you retreat down the steps then it’s impossible for him to hurt you. Keep retreating down the steps when he attacks and shooting from the top of the tower when he’s distracted. This will kill him in no time, granting you your very first dragon soul.


Shortly into the main quest line you will find yourself navigating through a fierce snowstorm to climb a mountain. The goal is to reach a dragon burial site with Delphine but a nasty surprise awaits the duo at the destination. Sahloknir obeys its master’s words, attacking the Dovahkiin and any allies he’s brought up to the site. If you don’t have some equipment or potions to help you resist fire then this is a very dangerous encounter.

Sahlokmir is a slightly stronger version of the Blood Dragon. Normally this would be a very difficult fight due to how powerful it is but it’s possible to have two allies helping you as well as any summoned allies. For mages, if you can’t summon up Atronach assistance then it’s possible to complete the quest A Night to Remember to gain the unique artifact Sanguine Rose. This will allow you to summon up a Dremora to aid in the fight. Fighters will have an easy time here whether they use a bow or not since Delphine has one and is incredibly accurate with her attacks.

Karthspire Encounter

When arriving at Karthspire you’ll find that you, Delphine and Esbern are besieged by a huge number of Forsworn and a vicious Frost Dragon. Normally the Forsworn will be too distracted by the titan but every now and again they’ll come after you which, to be frank, makes this near impossible. Luckily that’s a very rare occurrence so for the most part you and the duo with you can focus all of your energies taking down the beast. Esbern’s Frost Atronach is especially useful in tanking the dragons attention.

The dragon itself shouldn’t really be a problem at this point. Since there’s so many people attacking it the thing will go down rapidly. What complicates your life is that immediately after dealing with the dragon you’re going to have a large number of very angry Forsworn to contend with. Hopefully the dragon managed to help thin out the number of these freaks running around during his “fly around and murder everyone” phase.

Alduin, the First Fight

Honestly this is, without a doubt, the hardest mandatory fight in the entire game. No matter how prepared you might think that you are Alduin is powerful enough to absolutely wreck your day. Coming into this fight with a follower, summoned allies and Paarthurnax’s aid will still leave you in a position where you’re likely to die at least once or twice.

Above: Dozens of unprepared Dovahkiin died to bring us this recording.

Everything Alduin does involves fire attacks so you’ll want to have equipment to help resist that. His attacks consist of causing fire to rain from the skies, flaming breath attacks, a massively powerful bite and a devastating tail lash. While he’s beating on you, fireballs will be raining down from above, your only option is basically to tough the battle out. Lastly he’s entirely immune to damage until struck with the Dragonrend shout.

Defeating him is a simple enough matter in theory but executing it is something else entirely. Once he flies within range hit him with a fully charged Dragonrend shout. This forces him to land as well as rendering him vulnerable. Ready your most powerful weapons, or ice spells, and charge the beast. Keep your healing spells and potions at the ready while unloading on him with your most powerful attacks if you want to bring him down. Don’t take any chances, heal up as soon as your health begins to dwindle to avoid surprise deaths, and he should go down before too long.


This isn’t a fight since you’re just trying to capture this dragon inside of the castle. After using your shout to draw the beast into combat don’t even bother standing your ground. Simply turn tail as soon as the beast comes into view and run back into the room. Hide next to the device on the side of the room and wait for Ohdaviing to walk partially into the chamber. Once you’re told to activate the device drop the trap to finish this mission.

Alduin, the Final Showdown

Unlike the last fight this battle is actually incredibly easy. While any of your companions might have been left behind three of the most powerful warriors in Sovangarde are going to be fighting alongside you. Plus you should have leveled up a good amount as well as be equipped with much better equipment than the last time you battled, leaving Alduin to be immensely outclassed by the four heroes. It’s kind of anti-climactic to be honest.

When the four of you reach the misty area choose the Clear Skies Shout. Wait until told to use it and then use a level three Shout to clear the mists. This must be repeated a few times until Alduin stops trying to hide. The beast comes out to attack and your allies will begin attacking him but he is invulnerable until hit with the Dragonrend shout. Bring him down to the ground using that Thu’um and the quartet can begin laying into him. He fights in exactly the same manner as before but now there are plenty of targets to keep him distracted from focusing on you. It’s easy enough to complete this fight without even using a single healing item.


  • Xerxes667 - December 4, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    ok... maybe it's just because of my level; 32: i did a lot of smithing which leveled me up quite quickly, but during the Kathspire Encounter, it was not a Frost Dragon that spawned but an Ancient Dragon, the first i ever faced, not only does he kill me but he slaughters my entire party (i have Lydia tagging along too) and the entire Forsworn camp at Kathspire.... i've tried to get past about 20 times and i keep dying. I'm a Nord focusing on Melee and Destruction Magic and i don't have Dragonrend yes (obviously) so he's just flying and strafing everyone.... how screwed am i? any suggestions?
  • ThundaGawd - December 4, 2011 4:22 p.m.

    I play a stealth character, and I play on master, so just about any open encounter with any type of enemy is extremely difficult, but for the most part, when it comes to fighting any type of dragon, I just use literally any cover I can find (I've hidden behind a tree a few times) and hop out to shoot with my bow whenever the dragon stops to hover and breathe fire/frost. Another thing you guys should've mentioned is the use of Shadowmere, the horse form the dark brotherhood questline. I'm honestly not sure whether or not it's a glitch, but Shadowmere has an insanely high health regeneration rate, making it literally impossible for it to be killed by an enemy because it's health regenerates faster than it takes damage, making it the perfect tank during dragon fights.
  • Person5 - December 4, 2011 11:37 p.m.

    Its not a glitch, he's supposed to have a high regen and max health, but he CAN die, two bears killed him in my game which is weird cus he charges at dragons without a scratch on him, so while hes a useful horse, do be careful, and if he does die I heard he comes back to life in 3 days in the area he died at (unconfirmed for me though since I just reloaded my save)
  • bradmillow0 - December 3, 2011 7:16 a.m.

    When I first fought Alduin I didn't die at all, I thought he was fairly easy and I didn't even have any followers with me at the time, with the exception of Paarthurnax
  • jag0023 - December 2, 2011 11:12 p.m.

    i don't know why maybe its my game but i have only encountered one dragon the first main story dragon
  • D0CCON - December 2, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    I made two characters and they both deal with dragons very easily. My battlemage hits it with super fireballs of death until it lands and I use a bound/daedric sword to finish it. I'm guessing you can figure out what my archer does to it.
  • Maineiac - December 2, 2011 2:51 p.m.

    Sorry to disagree but you are wrong about sneak attacks not working on dragons. While it is a hard situation to reproduce I was able to sneak up on a dragon and one hit kill it with a dagger thanks to the sneak tree dagger perk and dark brotherhood gloves.
  • Boomer1992 - December 2, 2011 1:09 p.m.

    On master difficulty, I usually find a thick tree or rock and play ring around the rosie with it until finally my bow has brought it to the ground.
  • HeavyTank - December 2, 2011 12:53 p.m.

    Very nice guide, although the game's weird lack of scaling means that now my character can actually one-hit dragons even on Hard, so sadly now nobody poses a challenge to him anymore.. Also, the Blades tell you to kill Paarth?How?Why?
  • Manguy17 - December 2, 2011 12:34 p.m.

    As an archer ive found killing dragonsto be very easy most of the time due to the (glitch?) dragons prioritising everything else in the area as a target before me, including bunnies. And if theres cover i can normally just pop out and shoot an arrow and hide. This said (this is probally also a glitch) it seems that dragons arent scaling very accurately. the last few have just be plain old dragons and im lvl 42.
  • Manguy17 - December 2, 2011 12:50 p.m.

    also, ive had one game breaking backwards dragon, stuck flying into a wall. if i shoot it twice it would die, glicth around trying to find a place to crash, and thus would drop the framerates to unlayable, if it saw me it either flew backwards 100 metres and then froze, or flew sideways into a cliff and gets stuck dragon hunting is interesting.
  • ShowMeYourKitties - December 2, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    It's good to hear that the thief build gets easier, cuz right now it sucks for fighting dragons. I always have to lure the dragon towards a group of npc's to fight for me.
  • Y2Ken - December 2, 2011 10:57 a.m.

    This is quite a useful guide. I'm comfortable now fighting dragons, although I do have to be a little careful - that bite finisher is a pain if you let them get too close. The first two random dragons I "fought" were both killed by giants, which definitely makes life a little easier. I've been doing a lot of hunting Words of Power (asking Arngeir for locations and then visiting them) so a number of those point you directly to dragon roosts.

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