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I realize that my question is a bit ambiguous, so let me clarify. I've been playing Skyrim for a while now, and I'm up to level sixteen. I just resumed the "Missing In Action Questline" and decided to find the Thalmor camp. I haven't explored the area and solitude much, except for finding a few places. I fast travelled to the Haafingar Stormcloak camp and decided to head up from there. It is important to note that by this point, I have completed the quest, "The Break of Dawn", so I've been to Meridia's statue and absorbed the "Elemental Fury" word of power from the wall. However, I did not kill the dragon in that area at that time. On arriving at the Haafingar camp, I noticed a dragon flying around and roaring. It didn't attack me, or appear as a red dot, but the Stormcloaks did prep their weapons and look to the sky. I moved on and decided to explore the area a bit more in the direction of the Thalmor prison. I found that the dragon turned up dead, it's body near Volskygge possibly killed by the bandits there. As I passed by it, I absorbed the dragon soul. I reloaded, and tried doing a few different things:

  1. Travelling to Meridia's statue instead and trying to get the dragon there. This didn't work out well. The dragon flew off, so I waited. It didn't come back in about 10 hours. I moved on to attempt two.

  2. I reloaded an old save, outside of the Whiterun stables, just before I fast travelled (I'd just finished the "In My Time of Need" quest and had to move away from Kematu and Saadia to fast travel). I fast travelled to the Stormcloak camp and attacked the dragon there. I couldn't land a hit on it, so I gave it up as a bad job and decided to go towards an unexplored town. I discovered Dragonsbridge. On the way back, I found the dead body of the dragon near an intersection in the road and absorbed its soul.

  3. In between these, I reloaded many times, and explored around to find the dragon a lot. I had no different results.

IMPORTANT:

  1. I've used console commands to delete the Gildergreen so that the sapling that I planted didn't seem to sprout out of it. I also used console commands to examine Lydia's inventory and to disable/enable Birna of Birna's Oddments in Winterhold.

  2. The dragon by Bonestrewn flats wouldn't give me a soul. I think I might have killed it already when near the Eldergleam sanctuary for the quest to restore the Gildergreen.

  3. I have the Dawngaurd dlc, but it is inactive. I had the "Data Files" section of the launcher grayed out and edited Skyrimprefs.ini in "My Documents" to fix it. I am not currently loading the dlc file.

I was wondering if anyone else had experienced this behavior or if this is a new bug I discovered. I was also wondering if anyone had a fix for this problem. As of now, I'm waiting ten days for the location to respawn (24 hours, rinse, wash, repeat) for the dragon to respawn so I can actually kill the damn thing.

UPDATE: I waited ten days, but that location did not respawn. I have cleared Meridia's dungeon, so it may be that I have to wait 30 days of in game time. I don't know. The dragon hasn't reappeared, and I'm no closer to killing the monster.

So, in summation, my question is, can dragons be killed by NPCs and still give me a soul? I'm especially interested in whether anyone has seen the same problem as well and if there is a fix. So do let me know.

Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

NPCs can kill dragons. But regardless of who kills a dragon (player character or otherwise), the dragon soul will always be absorbed by the player character (spoiler: except when you currently have a particular set of Dragonborn DLC quests active).

To add to this answer, you might also want to install the Run For Your Lives mod. It makes most NPCs hide indoors when there's a dragon attack, instead of facing them head-on and possibly getting killed by, or killing the dragon.

Mod description:

A small mod that makes citizens in a village or city run indoors during a dragon attack.

This was born out of frustration at seeing the citizens all trying to be a hero and rushing headlong to their doom attacking dragons. Instead, the citizens will run to safety like smart people should when faced with the horrors of giant flying fire breathing lizards. NPCs who live in the attack location who own a home there will retreat to it. If the attack location has an inn, NPCs who don't live there will flee to the inn, along with any NPCs who live outdoors. If no inn is present the game picks a random interior from the surrounding area and those NPCs will flee there instead.

This should work for any NPCs added by mods as well, up to a limit of 150 in the area. After that, they're on their own. The NPCs chosen are first come, first serve by the game engine.

Guards, members of The Companions, Vigilants of Stendaar, and the player's followers/teammates will not run, they will stand and fight. Farm animals will not run either, because they're stupid. That includes your horse.

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Dragons are hostile to most NPCs, so yes, NPCs will kill dragons or die trying. You will absorb souls from nearby dead tragons regardless of who killed them. There is a bug with respawned dragons not giving soul some of the time, the cause of death of the original dragon is irrelevant; note that this bug has been fixed by the first version of Unofficial Skyrim Patch, which you would do well to use.

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1  
A bug which is fixed in the USKP. –  SevenSidedDie May 23 '13 at 5:20
    
@SevenSidedDie thanks, added to the answer. –  kotekzot May 23 '13 at 5:30
    
A friend irl just told me that NPCs can't kill dragons unless you attack them first. Of course, this is unconfirmed. So you're saying that NPCs can kill dragons regardless, right? Is it possible to avoid this or at least re-spawn and kill the dragon? –  batbrat May 23 '13 at 6:02
1  
Yes, that is what I'm saying. You know there are infinite dragons, right? Let the NPCs have their fun. You could try using the resurrect command on a dragon, it might work. –  kotekzot May 23 '13 at 10:47
    
Thanks @kotekzot –  batbrat Feb 4 at 7:14

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