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My dragon slaying strategy right now is using dragonrend to get the dragon to land and then hitting it with dual spark spells. The spark spells deal magicka damage as well as health damage. I have been noticing something interesting part way into these battles. If I'm able to keep a spark spell on the dragon for long enough, it eventually stops using it's breath attacks and settles for trying to bite my head off, typically for the rest of the battle, save a short burst or two occasionally. I don't remember getting this behavior during the mundane dragon battles (using pointy objects). This leads me to believe that in the dragons, the devs might have decided to limit the breath attacks by using magicka rather than a recharge timer like the player gets for the thu'ums.

So, are the dragon's thu'ums linked to their magicka, or is just some odd behavior?

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can someone test this? I am interested but at work. use the console, click the dragon then put in setav magicka 0. If the dragon's thu'um is linked to magicka, he shouldn't be able to use it if he has none. –  Skizzlefrits Nov 28 '11 at 14:53
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Off work and out of class. Going to go try it now. I forgot I could use console commands. –  fire.eagle Nov 28 '11 at 21:20
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Ok, so, Skizzlefrits reminded me of the wonders of the console. So, I popped in for a while and decided to try it out.

Long story short, the dragons were not too pleased that I likened their mighty thu'ums to mere magic, and proceeded to shout at me for quite a while.

The Riften guards weren't all that thrilled with me either. Something about how crazy experiments belong in Winterhold...

Result: If the dragon's shouts are tied to something, I don't think it's magicka anymore.

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It would make more sense that their Thu'um works like the players - a delay based system. My guess is that they simply have much shorter delays than the average player.

It's possible that they decide to stop using Thu'ums via AI. The AI says "Ok, ranged attacks aren't working. Try melee attacks now."

I have no source for this answer, however.

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I think that their "bite my head off" behavior is caused because of 2 reasons:

(1) after attacking the dragon for long enough, it can no longer fly and has more of a chance to bite you than when it can fly and use it's ranged attack

(2) the dragons tend to try to get closer to you when on the ground (simply programmed to keep you from getting away) and thus use their teeth when they get close

I do not think that the magic and the thum are linked.

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