In Elder Scrolls Skyrim I played until level 35 or so and I encountered many dragons, but they all used either Fire Breath or Frost Breath. I wonder why they don't use other shouts such as Slow Time or Unrelenting Force, that will make battles more challenging.

If I am learning words of power as Dragonborn, and those words are part of dragons language, why they don't use it against me? Alduin for example uses his version of Storm Call and the shout for resurrecting dragons, but why is he the only one? I find odd that common dragons don't "speak" words of power in their own language.

  • 1
    They technically can, though it is not programmed into their AI to (they were actually intended to use Unrelenting Force, but this was cut. There are audio files in the game that have dragons using it!) Sep 22, 2017 at 2:26
  • 3
    You haven't played long enough! Starting at Level 59 the game can generate dragons that use Drain Vitality.
    – tjd
    Sep 22, 2017 at 12:36
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    This is a question about lore, not gameplay mechanics.
    – Ethan
    Sep 22, 2017 at 13:30
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    If this is lore, then tell us what leads you to believe they should have it. Is there something, somewhere, that mentions dragons with the capability? Or is this just some musing because you're not a fan of their capabilities?
    – Frank
    Sep 22, 2017 at 14:10
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    @Frank I changed the question trying to explain myself better, hope it helps.
    – Ethan
    Sep 22, 2017 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


I'll have a crack at answering this one objectively, so let's look at the shouts available and see why a dragon may not possess the ability to use it. Yes, there is some speculation but it's based on the facts we have available. Some of these reasons are based on game restrictions, other based on what we know about the dragons.

  • Animal Allegiance - Dragons spend their lives flying and living on mountains - it's very unlikely they'd spend much time around animals
  • Aura Whisper - Chekhov's Gun - the player would never know they were using it, plus they have an aerial view and can see almost everything
  • Battle Fury - As soon as dragons start wielding swords I'm sure they'll find a use for this one
  • Become Ethereal - Dragons are destructive by nature, this shout prevents them from destroying anything - it would be illogical for them to use it
  • Bend Will - This wouldn't work against the player so would be immersion breaking
  • Call Dragon - I imagine any dragon could call another but there's no reason during the game for this to happen
  • Call of Valor - Even if the dragons used this, I doubt the hero would obey - there's no evidence that the hero is forced onto Mundus, instead the name suggests they are requested, just like Odahving isn't forced to answer your call
  • Clear Skies - I imagine a dragon might enjoy an evening fly through the clear skies, however since most flying dragons you encounter are hostile they'll probably want to use the weather to their advantage
  • Cyclone - This would probably be too overpowered against the player and make the game overly difficult
  • Disarm - This seems like it would have been very useful for dragons during the Dragon War. They may be unable to comprehend it, like Dragonrend, since dragons cannot use weapons themselves
  • Dismay - You can't kill something if it's running in fear, and dragons aren't known for "killing for sport"
  • Dragon Aspect - How can a dragon look more like a dragon?
  • Dragonrend - As we see in game, dragons cannot comprehend this shout
  • Drain Vitality - Higher level dragons do use this
  • Elemental Fury - Dragons posses neither arms nor weapons
  • Fire Breath - They do use this
  • Frost Breath - They do use this
  • Ice Form - Since attacking enemies under the effects of Ice Form dispels the effect it would be superfluous for dragons who just attack relentlessly with little regard for tactic
  • Kyne's Peace - It is not in a dragons nature to be peaceful
  • Marked for Death - The armour reduction is a bit useless against magical dragon attacks
  • Slow Time - It would be great for dragons to use this but I think it would be impossible to show when the perspective is someone's other than the player
  • Soul Tear - Given the relation to souls it likely that it was given to Durnehviir by the Ideal Masters within the Soul Cairn
  • Storm Call - So Alduin uses his version of this, so why not other dragons? Well, we know that he jealously guards his access to Sovngarde from Skuldafn, which happens to be the location of the third word - seems that he guards that little benefit too
  • Summon Durnehviir - Same as "Call Dragon" - why would we witness a dragon using this shout? There's no reason for it
  • Throw Voice - Dragons are rather large and noisy - I don't think anyone would be fooled by this shout
  • Unrelenting Force - Many dragons can use this but prefer to use damaging shouts instead as they are destructive by nature and not particularly tactical
  • Whirlwind Sprint - Dragons already move pretty quickly, I think this would have made battles overly long and boring

So, all of that being said, there are a few of those shouts that I think dragons would find useful outside of game restrictions (ie lore):

  • Aura Whisper - Basically turns the dragon into a heat-seeking missile
  • Bend Will - Suits the dominant dragons
  • Call Dragon - If one dragon fancies a "brawl" or if they need help after picking a fight with Braith
  • Clear Skies - When not in battle I'm sure dragons would prefer a cloud-free sky
  • Cyclone - Because, well, do you need a reason?
  • Disarm - Would have been invaluable in the Dragon War against men
  • Slow Time - Would be very advantageous to a dragon
  • Whirlwind Sprint - If some speed is good then more must be better!

[Speculation Abounds]

As mentioned in the comments, the Dragons in the game were originally meant to have the Unrelenting Force shout as a power, but this was removed in favour of only being able to use more "traditional" powers - the "breath" shouts.

A theory for this can be developed by looking at the storyline.

When the player reads the Elder scroll, he is teleported back in time to the end of the Dragon War, when Alduin was "Defeated". This led to The eventual defeat of all Dragons (save Paarthurnax). However, Alduin was not defeated, he was simply pushed through time, to the present day.

When he arrives, he is capable of summoning forth meteor storms, and even raising the dead - this is because from his perspective, he only "vanished" for a short period of time - he is still at the height of his power. The other Dragons, however, have been dead for centuries.

Dragons are believed to have a close affinity to magic. But, if left dead for long periods of time, it would make sense that much of their power has left them, and needs to be restored. It would then make sense why a handful of mere mortals would be able to kill one on a simple reconnaissance mission.

This is further supported by the idea that while dragons fighting could be described as a "heated debate", but I would argue that there would have to be some form of residual power involved in using a Thu'um - otherwise that Dragonborn would likely be killing a lot more people simply by sneezing violently.

So, my belief is that Dragons require some level of affinity with Magic to be able to use the Thu'um to it's full effect, which does require time, and training.

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