Elder Scrolls-Factions (Skyrim)

Factions (Skyrim)

Factions are organizations of people with a common goal in Skyrim. The Dragonborn can join several of these factions. Upon joining, specific tasks, known as quests can be administered by a higher-up or leading official of the faction. Each faction has a specific guildhall or headquarters that remains static for the entire storyline, with the exceptions of the Dark Brotherhood and the Blades. Each faction has a clear leader, such as Arch-Mage Savos Aren for the College of Winterhold, Delphine as the Grandmaster of the Blades, and Paarthurnax as the leader of the Greybeards.Bards-College

Comparisons with other games

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the last Elder Scrolls title to employ the conventional four factions, which were called “Guilds”. These factions included the Thieves Guild, the Mages Guild, the Fighters Guild, and the Dark Brotherhood. While Skyrim kept the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood, the Fighters Guild and Mages Guild were exchanged for different factions. Due to the Mages Guild splitting into the Synod and the College of Whispers, the guild could not logically appear in titles preceding the Great War. Thus, the College of Winterhold, making its debut in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim , appeared as a joinable faction. The Companions replaced the Fighters Guild, canonically aligning with Ysgramor and Nedic lore prevalent long before Skyrim‘s inception.

The Vampire Clans from The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind were omitted as well, with a newer adaption surfacing in Skyrim‘s first plug-in, The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard.

Unlike in Oblivion where each faction had a clear hierarchy of ranks the Hero could rise through, by performing certain tasks, Skyrim is less consistent between the factions. For example, the only rank attainable in the College of Winterhold, aside from being a basic student, is that of Arch-Mage. The Stormcloaks and the Imperial legion however, have specific ranks. All of these factions can give you a place to stay, like the other games, more or less, and perks to upgrade.

Perks of joining factions

F faction armor
Faction-specific armaments from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Some factions, such as the College of Winterhold grant a special uniform upon joining which can be worn optionally either to reap the bonuses of the armor or for role-playing aesthetic. More extreme benefits, such as becoming a werewolf can only be achieved by joining factions. In this example, joining the Companions opens up the opportunity for becoming a werewolf.

Other factions may provide amenities to the Dragonborn, such as sleeping quarters, containers that never reset for safe item storage, and free access to crafting stations such as Arcane Enchanters and Forges. Once a member attains a certain rank, they can freely take any items from the guild hall.

Certain guild-mates cannot be unlocked as followers or potential spouses unless a given faction is joined. For example, the College of Winterhold has three possible followers and two possible spouses within its walls. J’zargo, Onmund, and Brelyna Maryon are all potential college followers, with only Onmund, and Brelyna Maryon being eligible for marriage.

Because guild members can come and go at any hour of the day, joining a faction is wise for vampires, since there will be an abundance of sleeping guild-mates that can be accessed without breaking and entering, trespassing, or sneaking. Additionally, they provide safe havens that can be quickly entered to avoid sustaining Sun Damage.

 

Expulsion and availability

Vampire Being Attacked
A vampire being attacked by a guildmate, after she was caught feeding on him.

Factions possess some integral rules. Members cannot steal, murder, or attack other members of the guild without risking expulsion, arrest, or the faction’s members becoming relentlessly hostile toward the Dragonborn. Some will desist if the bounty is cleared.

While most factions can be joined at any time throughout the main storyline, some factions can only be joined for a limited amount of time or are entirely unavailable upon joining another faction. In the former example, the Forsworn can be temporarily aligned with while fleeing Cidhna Mine, similar to the Hero of Kvatch joining the Mythic Dawn to temporarily advance the questline. In the latter example, the Skyrim Civil War has two clear sides: the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks. At a certain point within the Civil War questline, one side must be selected to the exclusion of the others; if the Stormcloaks are joined, you can join the Imperial Legion if you give them the Jagged Crown. On the other hand if you join the Dawnguards vampire hunters or the Volkihar Clan you cannot switch to the other.

List of Factions

Joinable

Faction

Headquarters

Leader

Conditions

Bards College Bards College Viarmo Complete “Tending The Flames
Blades Sky Haven Temple Delphine Automatically joined but must kill Paarthurnax to actually do any Quests with them.
Greybeards High Hrothgar Paarthurnax Heavily involved in the main quest, the Dragonborn becomes their apprentice, unless the Dragonborn kills Paarthurnax. Must be joined to advance main quest. Complete “The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller“.
The College of Winterhold The College of Winterhold Savos Aren Must be joined to advance main quest. Visit the college to join.
The Companions Jorrvaskr Kodlak Whitemane Complete “Take Up Arms
The Circle Underforge Kodlak Whitemane  Complete “Proving Honor
The Coven of Namira Reachcliff Cave Eola Complete “The Taste of Death
House Telvanni Unspecified Neloth Exclusive to The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn, complete Old Friends.
Dark Brotherhood Falkreath Sanctuary, Dawnstar Sanctuary Astrid Complete “Innocence Lost“. Faction cannot be joined if “Destroy the Dark Brotherhood!” is completed.
Imperial Legion Castle Dour General Tullius Complete “Joining the Legion“. Cannot be a Stormcloak.
Nightingales Nightingale Hall Nocturnal Complete “Trinity Restored
Stormcloaks Palace of the Kings Ulfric Stormcloak Complete “Joining the Stormcloaks“. Cannot be a Legionnaire.
Thieves Guild The Ragged Flagon Mercer Frey Complete “A Chance Arrangement
Dawnguard Fort Dawnguard Isran Exclusive to The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard. Cannot be a Volkihar Vampire.
Volkihar Clan Castle Volkihar Harkon Exclusive to The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard. Complete “A New Order“. Cannot be Dawnguard.

Non-Joinable

Faction

Headquarters

Leader

Notes

Afflicted Bthardamz Peryite Have been infected with a special disease by Peryite, thought of as a blessing by them. Are hostile on sight.
Alik’r Coterie Not specified Kematu Can be sided with during “In My Time of Need“.
Anga’s Mill Anga’s Mill Aeri Can be helped by chopping wood for them.
Blackblood Marauders Wreck of The Icerunner, Broken Oar Grotto Captain Hargar Helped during “Lights Out!“. They always double-cross the Dragonborn.
Black-Briars Black-Briar Manor, Mistveil Keep Maven Black-Briar Bloodline descendants only. Can become rulers of Riften. Associated with Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood.
Blood Horkers Japhet’s Folly Haldyn Several Blood Horkers are encountered at Japhet’s Folly during Rise in the East
East Empire Trading Company East Empire Company Warehouse Vittoria Vici Leader can be murdered during “Bound Until Death“.
Forsworn Not specified Madanach Temporarily joined as possible escape route during “No One Escapes Cidhna Mine“.
Penitus Oculatus Castle Dour, Dragon Bridge Commander Maro Enemies if joined the Dark Brotherhood. Can be helped during “Destroy the Dark Brotherhood!
Psijic Order Artaeum Not specified Associated with the College of Winterhold
Summerset Shadows Uttering Hills Cave Linwe Rivals of the Thieves Guild.
The Silver-Bloods Markarth Thongvar Silver-Blood Bloodline descendants only. Supporters of the Stormcloaks.
Silver Hand Various strongholds Not specified Rivals of The Circle.
The Synod Imperial City Not specified Associated with the College of Winterhold.
Thalmor Thalmor Embassy Elenwen Rivals of the Stormcloaks and the Empire. They are interested in the Civil War as long as there are no winning party. Both Stormcloak and Empire victory is bad for them (Can be joined using console commands).
Vigilants of Stendarr Hall of the Vigilant Keeper Carcette Associated with the Dawnguard. Hunters Of Deadra.

Exceptions and special conditions

  • The Circle is merely a Sub-Faction within The Companions.
  • The Dragonborn is technically a member of the Dawnguard at the beginning of the first quest for the DLC, but they can then decide which faction they would prefer to join during “Bloodline“.

See also

Appearances

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