Elder Scrolls-Follower (Skyrim)
Followers are various characters found throughout Skyrim. They can travel with, battle for, and carry items for the Dragonborn.
A subclass of followers is non-humanoid followers such as dogs. These followers can neither carry nor equip items. The interaction with these followers is limited to the wait/follow commands and dismissal.
It is only possible to have one humanoid follower at a time unless additional followers are gained via a quest. In most cases there is no penalty for dismissing a follower and then re-recruiting the follower later.
Followers specialize in a variety of Skills ranging from Combat, Magic, Stealth, Smithing, Speech, Alchemy, and Enchanting. However, skills outside of Combat, Magic, and Stealth cannot be directly benefited from.
Followers will match the current level of your Character, up to a certain level cap that varies from follower to follower. The vast majority of followers cap at level 30. Be sure to take care of your Followers. For example, giving them better equipment may save them or even you in the long run.
All recruitable members of The Companions who are not part of The Circle, as well as Adelaisa Vendicci, cap at level 25. Mjoll the Lioness, Illia, and all hireable Mercenaries (including Erik the Slayer) cap at level 40. Also, in the Dawnguard add-on, Beleval and Agmaer cap at 25.
Erandur, Cicero, the members of The Circle (Aela, Farkas, and Vilkas), and all Housecarls cap at level 50. In Dawnguard, Serana caps at 50. J’zargo and Dark Brotherhood Initiates cap at level 81, the same level as the Dragonborn maxed out before patch 1.9, and so do Durak, Celann, and Ingjard in Dawnguard.
If patch 1.6 or later is not installed, followers (along with all other levelable characters) are locked at the level at which they first encounter the Dragonborn, and will not continue to level up with you. The only way to fix this leveling error is to use console commands on the PC (“disable” then “enable” the character while they are not active followers) or use the Wabbajack to turn them into an animal, then rehire them when they change back. This resets their stats to the Dragonborn’s current level and also does not appear to reset their inventory or quest scripting (although one must take an item from their inventory and put it back to get them to re-equip any non-default equipment they have). However, it has no effect if they are currently following. Essential characters cannot be transformed; therefore, essential followers cannot reset their stats unless using console commands.
There are a couple very specific occasions in which certain Followers will level up due to scripted events in quests. For example, Farkas will level up to the Dragonborn’s current level in the quest Proving Honor after his scripted transformation. Likewise, Aela will level up after her transformation in The Silver Hand (this is because the game de-spawns Farkas/Aela and replaces them with a transformed version, then re-spawns them later; the same process that occurs when manually using the console to “disable” then “enable” a character). Similarly, Erik the Slayer and Cicero “level up” after the first encounter with them, as the version met during the first encounter is actually a different character version than the version that can become a follower.
All Followers favor two-handed weapons over one-handed weapons, even if they are unskilled in two-handed weapon usage. Therefore, avoid letting followers whose primary combat skill is one-handed weapons have two-handed weapons in their inventory. Additionally, Followers appear to favor magic staffs over melee weapons, and will default to using a magic staff if given one, only switching to a melee weapon after spending several seconds in close combat.
Most non-magic using Followers have a bow as part of their default, non-removable equipment. This bow does not use up inventory arrows and will fire the strongest arrow available in the Follower’s inventory. For example, a Follower with 1 Daedric Arrow in their inventory effectively has an infinite number of Daedric Arrows.
Followers can dual-wield, but only if a Forsworn Sword, Forsworn Axe, or a Pickaxe (the Housecarl of Falkreath-Rayya-can dual wield scimitars) is wielded along with another melee weapon, and only if they do not have a shield or other weapon in their inventory. They will also dual-wield magic staffs, regardless of whatever else is in their inventory.
If the Dragonborn enters sneak mode, humanoid Followers will follow suit. While in sneak mode, they will not attack unless attacked first. Non-humanoid followers (dogs such as Meeko, Vigilance, or the Stray Dogs), however, do not understand the concept of “stealth” and will charge straight at an enemy as soon as they see one, even if the Dragonborn is in sneak mode.
Ironically, the default equipment of many Followers does not correspond to their actual combat skills. For example, Aela‘s default armor is Heavy Armor, despite her being skilled in Light Armor, and Erik the Slayer’s default equipment is Iron Armor and a one-handed sword, despite the fact he’s actually skilled in two-handed weapons and light armor.
Fortunately for followers, enemy combatants will tend to ignore them once their health is depleted and turn their attention to the Dragonborn or any other allied characters. This condition is easily spotted, as the follower will drop to one knee and stay in that position for a short period of time.
Once they have regenerated a sufficient amount of health, they will stand and rejoin the fight. This does not mean that they cannot die by physical attacks from characters. In some cases, especially when left no other target, enemies will continue to attack a follower until death. Additionally, in that near-death state, a follower is not in danger of being killed outright unless hit by an attack from the Dragonborn or another Follower. Extremely powerful attacks (especially area-of-effect attacks), such as those from a Dragon, can also kill a Follower.
Some followers are marked essential, such as Mjoll the Lioness, Derkeethus, and Dark Brotherhood Initiates. They cannot be killed by any means. This makes them especially valuable as distractions for difficult battles.
It is important to remember that enemies using poison can kill followers, since the poison continues its effect even after the follower drops to its knee. So caution is advised if encountering high level Falmer, Chaurus, poisoned traps, etc.
To avoid follower death in this scenario, the best course of action is to lead attackers away from the area where the follower is trying to recover. Followers may also be given several healing potions to carry in their inventory, which they may use if the need arises.
Other ways followers can die include:
- Falling from a great height.
- Being hit by an enemy while the Dragonborn is speaking with them.
Followers can be revived using the console command
Permanent followers can be given several commands.
Initiate conversation (outside of combat), and tell them I have something I want you to do OR the Dragonborn may also hold down the “select/activate” button while pointing at the follower. This method can be done at a distance and is great way to call the follower to The Dragonborn’s position while they’re in their “wait” mode.
- Attack another individual or creature (disposition allowing)
- Wait at a given location (or just simply wait)
- Use an object
- Open a locked door or container
- Pick up individual items or take everything from containers
- Sleep in a bed
- Sit on chairs and benches
- Activate a Shrine to receive its blessing
- Perform jobs such as wood chopping (but not mining ore)
- Leave the Dragonborn’s service
- Pickpocketing (Dragonborn must remain undetected)
There are some additional benefits from using certain commands. These are:
- Followers can pick up skill books that the Dragonborn may not want to read just yet. These can be safely taken from their inventory and read at a later date.
- Followers can fill soul gems on the Dragonborn’s behalf – provided they have soul gems in their inventory and a weapon with the Soul Trap enchantment.
- Followers will illuminate dark areas with a torch, provided there is one in their inventory.
- Followers do not require lockpicks to pick locks.
- As a vampire, ordering a follower to sleep will allow the Dragonborn to feed off them
If told to wait, a follower will wait for about 3 days before they get tired and leave the Dragonborn. They will then return to their home or the location where they were originally found.
Every follower has their own level of morality. Certain followers, such as Farkas, are lawful citizens and will report the Dragonborn to the guards if they witness a crime. Other followers, such as Jenassa, will readily commit any crime they are ordered to do and will ignore any criminal behavior by the Dragonborn. Some will report the Dragonborn for a serious crime, such as murder, but not for a petty crime. J’zargo, Aela and Benor will not have any possible interactions while tresspassing, only saying, “You shouldn’t be here,” when spoken to. They will still fight for the Dragonborn, however.
If not hidden, the Dragonborn will be held responsible if a follower is asked to perform an illegal activity.
Equipment and inventory
Followers always equip the best possible weapons or armor given to them. More specifically, the weapon with the highest damage value and the pieces of apparel with the highest armor value are equipped.
Followers will not use equipment that is the same in armor or damage value as their starting equipment, unless it has been improved using smithing or enchantments.
On occasion, a follower may equip a weapon that they are not skilled in over one they are. For example, Mjoll the Lioness is better skilled in Two-Handed weapons over One-Handed, but if given a sword with a higher damage rating than a battleaxe, she will equip the sword.
The only way to prevent the use of an undesirable piece of equipment is to remove it from their inventory.
Followers can be used to carry almost any item, either via the inventory menu or picking up world items. However, they also have a weight limit which restricts how much they can carry. In the inventory menu, items that would overencumber them appear greyed out.
An exploit is possible to make them carry over their limit. First place the items in any container and then order the follower to take everything in the container. After this, every single item will be in the follower’s inventory; however, these items will be marked as stolen. If these items are dropped and picked up again in plain sight, it will be considered a crime. Alternately, entering a new area will remove the “stolen” label.
Followers will retain their inventories even after the Dragonborn dismisses them. In this way, it is possible to use them for limited storage. If they are killed, the stored items can be looted off the body.
If the Dragonborn sends their follower away (dismiss), and later decides to recruit him/her again, the Dragonborn might find the follower wearing the original equipment. The Dragonborn can fix this by either leaving the area or by simply taking away any piece of equipment from them, which will in turn “reset” them, causing them to equip their best available equipment. If the Dragonborn chooses to “reset” their follower, he/she will use new/better equipment again.
Placing just a single arrow in a follower’s inventory will give them an infinite supply of that type of arrow (assuming the follower has a bow), so it is a good idea to keep them equipped with one of the best arrows the Dragonborn has. It can backfire against stronger enemies that use bows, as this can immediately cause the enemy to equip the one high-end arrow that landed on their body and shoot it back with an infinite supply.
Followers are said to be limited to one at a time, but there are several ways to exploit this limit. Quest characters triggered to follow the Dragonborn, the Dark Brotherhood Initiates, Serana, summoning more than one Atronach, and mods on the PC make it possible to build a small army.
It is also possible to use the spell/power gained through the Dark Brotherhood questline for an additional follower. The Spectral Assassin will stay by the Dragonborn’s side until it is defeated in battle or another familiar/atronach is summoned. It will travel with the Dragonborn across Skyrim.
Housecarls are essentially bodyguards who protect nobility and important people from threats. Becoming the Thane of a Hold will grant a personal housecarl. In the base game all available housecarls are Nord warriors, however The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire adds additional housecarls for The Pale, Falkreath and Hjaalmarch.
|Argis the Bulwark||Vlindrel Hall, Markarth||Become Thane of Markarth||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Calder||Hjerim, Windhelm||Become Thane of Eastmarch||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Gregor HF||The White Hall, Dawnstar||Become Thane of The Pale||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Iona||Honeyside, Riften||Become Thane of The Rift||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Jordis the Sword-Maiden||Proudspire Manor, Solitude||Become Thane of Haafingar||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lydia||Breezehome, Whiterun||Become Thane of Whiterun||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rayya HF||Jarl’s Longhouse, Falkreath||Become Thane of Falkreath||Redguard||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Valdimar HF||Highmoon Hall, Morthal||Become Thane of Hjaalmarch||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Completing certain quests for a faction will grant access to some followers from that faction.
|Brelyna Maryon||Mage||Hall of Attainment||Brelyna’s Practice||Dunmer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|J’zargo||Mage||Hall of Attainment||J’zargo’s Experiment||Khajiit||No||Yes||No|
|Onmund||Mage||Hall of Attainment||Onmund’s Request||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Aela the Huntress||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Athis||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Dunmer||Yes||Yes||No|
|Farkas||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Njada Stonearm||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ria||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Imperial||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Torvar||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Vilkas||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cicero||Assassin||Dawnstar Sanctuary||Hail Sithis!||Imperial||No||No||No|
|Dark Brotherhood Initiate||Assassin||Dawnstar Sanctuary||Hail Sithis!||Nord||No||No||No|
Having The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard installed adds several more followers, both humanoid and non-humanoid, to the game. Most are dependant on which faction the Dragonborn decides to side with during the Bloodline quest.
|Ingjard||Warrior||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order||Nord||No||Yes||Yes|
|Durak||Warrior||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order||Orsimer||No||Yes||Yes|
|Agmaer||Warrior||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order||Nord||No||Yes||Yes|
|Beleval||Warrior||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order||Bosmer||No||Yes||Yes|
|Celann||Warrior||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order||Breton||No||Yes||Yes|
|Belrand||Spellsword||Winking Skeever, Solitude||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Jenassa||Assassin||The Drunken Huntsman, Whiterun||Dunmer||Yes||Yes||No|
|Marcurio||Mage||Bee and Barb, Riften||Imperial||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Stenvar||Warrior||Candlehearth Hall, Windhelm||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Teldryn Sero DB||Spellsword||The Retching Netch, Raven Rock||Dunmer||No||Yes||No|
|Vorstag||Warrior||Silver Blood Inn, Markarth||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
These followers typically have a quest attached to them and it must be completed in order to gain them as a follower.
These followers have no specific quest attached to them. Gaining them as a follower may sometimes be a trivial affair, such as Brawling against them and winning the match.
|Benor||Warrior||Morthal||Beat him in a brawl||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Borgakh the Steel Heart||Warrior||Mor Khazgur||Pay her dowry or persuade her||Orc||Yes||Yes||No|
|Cosnach||Warrior||Silver Blood Inn, Markarth||Beat him in a brawl or give him a drink||Breton||Yes||Yes||No|
|Derkeethus||Ranger||Darkwater Pass||Free him from captivity||Argonian||Yes||Yes||No|
|Ghorbash the Iron Hand||Ranger||Dushnikh Yal||Convince him to travel with the Dragonborn||Orc||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Uthgerd the Unbroken||Warrior||The Bannered Mare, Whiterun||Beat her in a brawl||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Non-humanoid followers can be used alongside any humanoid follower, which means that the Dragonborn can have one human and one non-human follower simultaneously. Most non-humanoid followers cannot be given items and thus cannot use equipment, the exception being Riekling.
|Armored Troll DG||Troll||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order, 500|
|Barbas †||Dog||Outside Falkreath||Begin Speak to Lod|
|Bran DG||Armored War Dog||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order|
|CuSith DG||Death Hound||Castle Volkihar||Complete The Bloodstone Chalice|
|Garmr DG||Death Hound||Castle Volkihar||Complete The Bloodstone Chalice|
|Meeko||Dog||Wandering near Meeko’s Shack||None|
|Riekling DB||Riekling||Thirsk Mead Hall||Complete The Chief of Thirsk Hall|
|Sceolang DG||Armored War Dog||Fort Dawnguard||Complete A New Order|
|Steadfast Dwarven Sphere DB||Dwarven Sphere||Kagrumez||During The Kagrumez Trials|
|Steadfast Dwarven Spider DB||Dwarven Spider||Kagrumez||During The Kagrumez Trials|
|Stray Dog||Dog||Random location||None|
|Shadowmere||Horse||Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary||Begin The Cure for Madness|
† Barbas does not count as a true follower since he is tied to his quest, but unlike other quest forced companions, (e.g., Farkas), the Dragonborn’s current animal follower will not be dismissed.
Some potential followers are also Trainers who can train the Dragonborn in particular combat skills, allowing him or her to increase the skill level for those skills. The training is not free, but once these trainers become the Dragonborn’s followers, he or she may may receive training without any permanent cost; If the Dragonborn asks a follower to train him or her in a particular skill, after receiving the training, he or she may access the trainer’s inventory and recover the spent gold. The following followers are also trainers: (Note: All but Faendal and Talvas Fathryon are Companions who require the Dragonborn to complete the Companions quest line before they become recruitable as followers.)
- Aela the Huntress, Archery expert trainer (trains to level 75)
- Athis, One-Handed expert trainer (trains to level 75)
- Faendal, Archery adept trainer (trains to level 50)
- Farkas, Heavy Armor master trainer (trains to level 90)
- Njada Stonearm, Block expert trainer (trains to level 75)
- Vilkas, Two-Handed master trainer (trains to level 90)
- Talvas Fathryon, Conjuration master trainer (trains to level 90)
- Followers can be ordered to take all the contents of a container, even if they would not be able to hold the equivalent weight; however, the items taken will be marked as stolen. This means follower can hold an infinite number of items.
- Almost every humanoid follower with the exception of Cicero, Serana and the Dark Brotherhood Initiates can be recruited into the Blades and will be given a free set of Blades Armor and a Blades Sword. Up to 3 followers can be recruited by speaking to Delphine at Sky Haven Temple. After followers have been initiated as Blades, they will no longer return to their home or starting location, instead taking up residence at Sky Haven Temple (with the exception of Derkeethus, as he is bugged to stay at his home). The free set of Blades Armor will replace the follower’s current armor, even armor given to the follower. This makes it impossible to get the items back. Higher level weapons, however, will still be chosen by the follower over their new Blades weapon.
- If the Dragonborn starts the quest Alduin’s Wall and lets Esbern and Delphine follow him/her to the objective, he or she effectively gains two extra human followers who cannot die permanently, as long as the quest is not actually completed.
- If this is combined with the conjuration perk Twin Souls, a traditional follower and an animal follower, the total number of creatures following and fighting for the Dragonborn can be brought up to six. This can, however, make it difficult at times to backtrack through doors and passages.
- With 90 skill in Conjuration, reanimation of two conjurers/summoners who then summon an additional two minions, the unique mount Shadowmere, Delphine, Esbern, a minion that can be summoned by Esbern, a regular Follower, a Dark Brotherhood Initiate and an animal Follower brings the number of followers up to a total of 10, and even 11 if one regular follower is a mage who can conjure a familiar, or if a follower is given a staff of summoning, for example, the Sanguine Rose. If the Dragonborn chooses not to complete A Daedra’s Best Friend and keep Barbas and Mercer Frey, he or she could potentially have 15 followers.
- If the quest Arniel’s Endeavor is completed, the Dragonborn will be able to summon Arniel’s Shade along with their regular conjured familiar(s), and increase the total number of followers by one.
- Some followers will give the Dragonborn the key to their house, which will allow the looting of the entire place without stealing or killing the follower.
- Certain quests may require the follower to leave the Dragonborn’s service. The follower will then leave with any items he received. To regain the follower, meet them where they were originally found. If they are a hireling, they will most likely ask for another 500 gold depending on how much time has passed or whether they’re particularly fond of the Dragonborn.
- If the follower gets any kind of arrow, it can be duplicated if the follower attacks someone. (Followers will pick up arrows.)
- Occasionally, a mage follower will equip armor or clothes that is equal to their current robes(or one that has a better enchantment). This will occasionally happen if the Dragonborn waits, fast-travels, enters a building, or sleeps. But the easiest way to make the mage follower equip other robes or clothing, is by entering Apocrypha. When the Dragonborn leaves Apocrypha, the mage follower should be wearing the desirable armor they were given. (The above was tested on Talvas Fathryon, Brelyna Maryon, and Marcurio)
- Followers, Dead Thralls, And Animal followers cannot follow you into a dark brotherhood sanctuary unless it’s either cicero or a dark brotherhood initiate that’s following you.
This section contains bugs related to Follower (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
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