When the Greybeards speak, storms brew above High Hrothgar, and people are forced to evacuate due to the imminent danger of avalanches. When they even so much as whisper the word "Dovahkiin", it rumbles through the world, and the mountains shake. Such is their power, the last time that they spoke was when they announced the greatness of Tiber Septim.
The Greybeards were founded by a powerful Tongue called Jurgen Windcaller in the First Era. After he suffered a disastrous defeat at Red Mountain where his army was annihilated, he spent seven years pondering the meaning of his defeat. He finally came to the conclusion that the gods had punished the Nords for their arrogant and blasphemous misuse of the Thu'um.
Following this revelation, Jurgen developed a pacifist creed called the Way of the Voice that preached the Thu'um should only be used for the worship and glory of the gods rather than martial exploits. He built High Hrothgar, located near the peak of Throat of the World in Skyrim, which served as the monastery where he and his disciples meditated and perfected their voice .
It is unclear exactly when in the First Era that the Greybeards were formed, as the exact time of Jurgen Windcaller's seven-year meditation is not known. It occurred after a momentous defeat at Red Mountain, and the most well-known defeat of the Nordic forces at Red Mountain was the Battle of Red Mountain circa 1E 700. However, the Nords had been driven out of Morrowind hundreds of years earlier, around 1E 416, and the Five Songs of King Wulfharth suggests that the Greybeards were already in existence before Wulfharth's first death in 1E 533.
By the Fourth Era, there are only five members of the Greybeards. Four of the monks reside in High Hrothgar. Their grandmaster, Paarthurnax, resides higher up on the Throat of the World in constant meditation. The leader of the Stormcloak rebellion, Ulfric Stormcloak, was once a student, learning the ways of the Thu'um.
The Greybeards are featured prominently in the main questline. When completing the Dragon Rising quest they call out for the Dragonborn, summoning him to them so that they may meet and test him. They also help the Dragonborn understand the unique power they wield. They do meet and test him, then they somewhat train him. Once he arrives he must prove he is Dragonborn by demonstrating the power of the Thu'um. They teach him a couple shouts and then, for his final test, they send him on a quest to receive The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller
Words of PowerEdit
Arngeir will reveal the locations of Word Walls throughout Skyrim to the Dovahkiin, if he or she is in the favor of Arngeir as opposed to the Blades. He mentions how you arrive, at this certain moment in time, at the turning of the age. You may ask is it a coincidence that he was brought here at the time of the Dragons returning, Arngeir notes that it is not a coincidence.
Upon attacking a member of the Greybeards, they respond with the Ice Form shout to paralyze the attacker, as well as utilizing a plethora of other shouts and spells. Unsuccessful pickpocket attempts cause them to attack as well.
The Greybeards do not wield weapons and may engage in unarmed combat when foes reach melee range. Weapons dropped near the Greybeards are picked up and wielded by them.
Flagged as essential, it is only possible to reduce their health to a low level. After this, they crouch down until their health regenerates and resume battle with their attacker. Using Unrelenting Force or Vampiric Grip on a Greybeard to knock them off the mountain does not cause them to re-spawn. However, players can remove the essential flag through use of console commands.
- Amulet of Talos
- Various potion ingredients.
- It is possible to obtain the Greybeard's Robe by using the Console commands.
- If the Dragonborn attempts to engage in conversation with any of the Greybeards in High Hrothgar besides Arngeir, they simply respond with a respectful greeting - "Dovahkiin" and a gentle bow. When they speak, the building tremors and if outside, a loud, distant bell can be heard. Arngeir can be asked to elaborate on the reason why none of the Greybeards can be engaged in conversation. The reason is that the other Greybeards' voices are so powerful that even a whisper could kill a man.
- When the Greybeards greet you in the dragon tongue after completing The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, they say "Lingrah krosis saraan Strundu'ul, voth nid balaan klov praan nau. Naal Thu'umu, mu ofan nii nu, Dovahkiin, naal suleyk do Kaan, naal suleyk do Shor, ahrk naal suleyk do Atmorasewuth. Meyz nu Ysmir, Dovahsebrom. Dahmaan daar rok." This translates roughly to "Long has the Storm Crown languished with no worthy brow to sit upon. By our breath we bestow it now to you in the name of Kyne, in the name of Shor, and in the name of Atmora of old. You are Ysmir now, the Dragon of the North. Hearken to it."
- Interestingly, the Greybeards make no reference to Ulfric Stormcloak (other than in Season Unending), despite his training in the Way of the Voice.
- Despite both factions serving the Dragonborn, the Blades seem to distrust and mock the Greybeards, calling them a pesky cult.
- The Greybeards wear the unobtainable (without console commands) clothing item called Greybeard's Robe.
- Sneaking behind the meditating Greybeards can help the Dragonborn power level the Sneak skill. Caution is advised, as detection causes them to attack the Dragonborn. It is advisable to save for every few levels gained.
- The Greybeards use a different version of the shouts Disarm, Dismay, Elemental Fury, Fire Breath, Frost Breath, Ice Form, Unrelenting Force and Whirlwind Sprint shouts with a cooldown time of 5 seconds and without voice sounds.
- The Greybeards dislike the Elder Scrolls, viewing them as "blasphemies" they refuse to deal with.
- If the Dragonborn kills Paarthurnax, the Greybeards will no longer aid the Dragonborn in locating words of power.
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (First appearance)