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I trusted you, now you trust me.
~ Barbas

Barbas is an immortal totem-like creature in the Elder Scrolls game. Barbas is constant compagion to the villainous Clavicus Vile. Barbas acts as a foil to his master, trying to encourage ethics in the shifty Daedric Prince, when he can not do so, he tries to aid Clavicus Vile's potential pawns in avoiding the demented wish-master's cons.

Morrowind

In Elder Scrolls III:Morrowind, Barbas had a non-speaking role. This was in one of his few non-dog forms as he was a scamp at the time. In Ghorak Manor a scamp called "Creeper" can be seen negotiating with some orcs. He has a smaller gold pool than most merchants but he will not adjust prices to his advantage, selling items at market price, making him the best merchant in the game but with his limited money pool only allowing for a few items to sell at a time. Most player found Creeper to be the ideal merchant for selling off rare items while keeping common ones to more traditional merchants. As would be revealed in Oblivion, Creeper was in-fact Barbus. As Barbas usually tries to counter-act his master's more predatory practices, Barbas was likely doing this out of a simple charity to give the locals a fairer deal - as a Daedra, Barbas has no real use for gold anyway.

Oblivion

In Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Barbas is encounter on Clavicus Vile's Daedric quest. Clavicus Vile was egged on into infusing a sword called Umbra with a sizable portion of his Daedric essence by a witch, (the witch is implied to be the rival Daedric Prince, Sheogorath, in disguise). The enchantment on the sword stole the souls of all those it touches, while this takes the form of soul-trapping those it kills in soul-gems to be used for enchantments later, it affects more than just the blade, and even holding slowly wares away the users soul, eventually turning it's wielders into possessed hosts for the sword itself to kill. The sword and a previous Umbra were seen in Morrowind by a male Orc, but in Oblivion passed on to female wood-elf called Lenwin, though when met she is simply calling herself "Umbra".

Clavicus has come to regret ever letting the witch invest his power in the blade and wants Umbra. Upon making offerings at Clavicus Vile's shrine he tells the Hero of Kvatch to retrieve Umbra for him and he will hand over his boon. Barbas appears as soon as the Hero of Kvatch, leaves to track down Umbra. Barbas warns that Clavicus's deals may seem tempting, but they are never worth it. He warns not to go after the sword. If the Hero of Kvatch investigates they will find out about Lenwin's possession and she is now a hardened murder, isolated in some ruins. It seems Clavicus has two main goals for Umbra, the first is to gain back a sizable level of power used to create the sword from having it in his hands, the other is to have the current Umbra dead, so she does not complete her rampage later by slaughtering her former village and then moving on to Clavicus Vile's Shrine just beyond it. Umbra is a level 20 opponent regardless of level, so engaging her before that is extremely challenging. Barbas warns against it, telling the Hero to just turn around and tell Clavicus the deal is off, and that he will smooth out the issues with Clavicus. Even if Umbra is killed, Barbas tells the Hero of Kvatch to keep it, that the sword will be better than any boon Clavicus will give. The Hero of Kvatch will have the opportunities to do each; To either give up the quest; To keep the sword and just never return it - though the quest remains open until completed, the blade may even be sacrificed for a Daedric ritual, though doing so permanently leave the quest open; Or to simply turn the blade into Clavicus Vile against Barbas's advice - the boon is a moderate (yet subpar for a Daedric Item) mask which give speech a 20 point boost). While Barbas was trying to look out for the Hero of Kvatch's best interests, he was also trying to look out for his master's as the sword would likely affect his soul as it did it's weilders. Canonically it appears Clavicus gets a-hold of Umbra eventually over the years, though there is no way of knowing if it was directly from the Hero of Kvatch or just from some forgotten corner of Tamriel or Oblivion of the centuries.

Skyrim

In Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Barabas's fears appear to have been validated. Clavicus Vile is very weak - As Daedric Princes do not have traditional souls like-unto mortals, years of wielding Umbra did not tear at his sense of self, but did ware away his power for in this era Clavicus Vile can not manifest far from one of his Shrines without Barbas. The two got into an argument over Clavius's cons and lack of personal responsibility and he sent Barbas away. Barbas will go searching for a warrior and eventually find the Dovahkiin. Barbas wants help from the Dovahkiin to reunite them. Clavicus Vile's only shrine in Skyrim is in Haemar's Shame, an exile post inside of a cave, currently infested with vampires. Barbas warns the Dovahkiin of the vampire threat and that the Shrine was located in the back, so to be ready for a fight. After fighting through the vampires (followers of Clavicus who were there to seek a cure for vampirism, Clavicus considers their deaths to be this) the Dovahkiins will pray at the shrine. The Prince will offer the Power or the Chance to end the War, but the Dovahkiin may simply say the reward must be to take back Barbas. With Clavicus stuck in a cave with most of his powers gone from years exposed to Umbra, he will come up with a task. Clavicus Vile knows the location of another powerful artifact he made, the Rueful Axe. Getting it back would allow him to break it down for power to manifest anywhere he likes again. The Rueful Axe is in the hands of a mage called Sebastian Lort who made the bargain with Clavicus, so the Dovahkiin must go far to the north and face the wizard to retrieve the Axe for Clavicus. Barbas comes along to help, though a simple dog, he is currently immortal and can offer advice, so he comes along.

Barbas tells the Dovahkiin that Sebastian Lort's daughter worshiped the rival Daedric Prince Hircine, Prince of the Hunt and inventor of werewolves. When the girl became a werewolf, Sebastian could not bare to see her like that and bargained with Clavicus Vile for something that could cure the curse, Clavicus gave Lort the Rueful Axe, and left him to figure out how it would cure her (as he has no daughter when encountered, he seems to have found out the magic of the axe only lifted the curse via killing). Clavicus uses the fable as a warning, that no temptation from Clavicus is ever worth. Barbas says Clavicus will surely make a counter-offer but to stick to the original offer and give the Rueful Axe up rather than trade it in for something else from the tricky Daedra. After fighting/sneaking passed Lort and getting the Axe the Dovahkiin will find that Axe steals Stamina from it's victims while replenishing the wielder. Sure enough returning it to Clavicus Vile will have him make a counter offer, the Dovahkiin can keep the Rueful Axe, if he/she uses it to kill Barbas. If the Dovahkiin does so they keep the Rueful Axe, Clavicus will either regain power from absorbing his Daedric essence back from the Axe or from Barbas. Either way Barbas rejoins his master, but if killed he is not conscious in his return and Clavicus Vile has all his power back without having to put up with a conscience. If Barbas is spared he has Barbas give him the Masque of Clavicus Vile - in this version not simply boosting speech but making all prices 20% better in the Dovahkiin's favor for buying/selling.

  • The Axe is actually the booby prize in the scenario, as the Absorb Enchantment may be gained from other artifacts - making the effect replicatable for the Player's own Axe with Enchanting skills. The Rueful Axe also swings slower than a normal Axe, making it objectvely worse than a Stamina Aborbing Axe, the player could make themselves. The Masque of Clavicus Vile on the other-hand has continued use for earning gold at stores.

Personality

Barbas and Clavicus Vile

Barabas and Clavicus Vile.

True to his preferred form, Barbas is an innately loyal hound. Though he tries to undermine his master by sticking to a code of ethics, he still prioritizes his master's well being and lives to serve. His attempts to keep Umbra out of Clavicus Vile's hands were not merely to give the Hero of Kvatch, an very powerful sword, but to also keep his master from inadvertently cutting away his own powers. His desire to reunite with his master after their falling out, shows he wishes to restore his master by donating his own Daedric essence, but knows Clavicus would never accept on his own due to his pride and refusal to apologize after a fight. Most statues of Clavicus Vile have a hound as a background companion piece. Barbas tries to control his master and generally keep mortals from getting scammed. Though he has no desires to die, he prioritizes his master's well being above all else, though this well-being might not be for his life, but for his psyche's as Barbas feels ethics are important for any deal-maker, lest they become drunk on their financial power.
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