Skyrim factions and guilds guide

Skyrim is a big place, so it’s easy to feel lonely when you first set off on your adventure. Fear not though, for there are a handful of factions and guilds ready to take you in and make you feel loved - provided you meet certain requirements. We’ve gathered the details on all the joinable factions in the game including locations, barriers to entry, benefits, and rewards: everything you need to know before you dedicate hours to a specific direction. After all, you don’t want to waste time playing a video game, do you?

LIGHT SPOILER WARNING: In order to give you an idea of whether or not each faction is worth joining, we’ve listed the rewards for completing each faction’s main questline. These rewards may contain very light spoilers, depending on how much you read into them.

Also note that you can be a member of all factions simultaneously without any conflict, with the exception being the Imperials and Stormcloaks. In the case of those two, you must pick a side. 

The Companions

Who should apply

Physical warrior builds and not aspiring prostitutes 


The Companions have set up shop in Jorrvaskr, the large hall found in the eastern part of Whiterun.  

How to join

The Companions will probably be the first faction you discover. On your way to Whiterun you’ll encounter a few warriors fighting a giant. If you speak to one of these warriors after the fight, they’ll tell you about the Companions and suggest you speak to Kodlak Whitemane in Whiterun. Once you do that, you’ll be given the “Take Up Arms” quest. Engage Vilkas in a training exercise behind Jorrvaskr, making sure to use a physical weapon (or a bound weapon), because Vilkas won’t accept magic. Finish up this quest and the Achievement/Trophy will pop, signifying your initiation.   


Once you’ve joined the Companions, you’ll have access to trainers who can help you level up in most of the warrior skills (archery, one-handed, two-handed, smithing, heavy armor, and block) in exchange for gold. You’ll also find some decent warrior-related equipment as you complete the main and side quests. Another important benefit is the eventual introduction to werewolves, and access to a sub-faction of the Companions called “The Circle” (see section below for details). As a member, you’ll gain the power to turn into a werewolf yourself.

By joining this faction you’ll earn the “Take Up Arms” Achievement/Trophy.


You’ll get a fairly powerful two-handed axe called Wuuthrad during the final main quest, provided you remember to grab it after you put in the hands of the statue. The damage output will scale up depending on the level and skill you are at when you obtain it. This axe is especially powerful against elves and can be enchanted. Finishing the main questline will also allow you to marry several of the Companions, if you wish.   

The Circle

Who should apply

Physical warrior builds and/or members of Team Jacob


The Underforge, a secret cave accessible through a secret entrance in the rocks near Jarrvaskr. You cannot enter the Underforge before taking on the quest involving it. 


You’ll be able to transform into a werewolf once per day using a power listed as “Beastform.” In werewolf form you have more health, more stamina, more speed, greater strength, and can roar to make enemies flee. In exchange, you cannot loot, use spells, use items, or talk to anyone. You’ll also be attacked or feared by anyone who sees you (beware of silver), but any crimes you commit will not count against you once you’ve changed back. However, be careful not to be seen while transforming, as that does count as a serious crime. You can stay in wolf form for at least two and a half minutes - longer if you feed on corpses. Finally, once you join the circle you no longer get any benefit from being well rested.

By joining this faction you’ll earn the “Blood Oath” Achievement/Trophy. 

How to join

The Circle is a sub-faction of the Companions. Once you’ve joined the Companions, continue through the main questline until you get to “The Silver Hand.” During this quest you will transform into a werewolf if you choose to do so. After your night on the town as a beast, talk to Aela and the achievement/trophy will pop. 


The ability to transform into a kick-ass werewolf once per day. What more could you want?


  • swift123 - July 10, 2013 1:23 a.m.

    im a member of the thieves guild and the nightingale the amour is boss! XD
  • xavion28 - March 2, 2012 7:51 p.m.

    Is there a way to get Daedric armor without smithing or mods? If so, how?
  • azurechocobo - December 9, 2011 1:58 p.m.

    During the Thieve's Guild quests, you also get the chance to become a Nightingale, and get an awesome set of Nightingale light armor as a reward, a Nightingale Blade (absorbs health and stamina from enemy) and Nightingale Bow (frost + shock damage to target). At level ~35, the gauntlets gave me a 25% boost to one-handed and lockpicking, and the armor boosts stamina by 40 and gives 50% frost resistance. As a Nord, that means 100% frost resistance (once they get the bugs ironed out). Best armor in the game for me, and should be mentioned in the guide.
  • joshua-wilkinson - December 9, 2011 12:49 p.m.

    how do you get married on skyrim. xD
  • Matt Hughes - December 9, 2011 3:18 p.m.

    There'll be a followers guide posting shortly that explains it :)
  • xavion28 - March 2, 2012 7:44 p.m.

    Go to riften. Speak to marmol in the bar and buy his necklace(THE MARA NECKLACE). If you dont find him their go to mara's temple. Once you get the necklace go to mara's temple and get it blessed. Then go to a woman or male, depending on what your character is, speak to em. If the one you want is in high power like Aela or Farkas then you must do all of the group's missions. Then you can marry them. Tell the person to follow you, then speak to marmol and tell him you want to be married and your wedding would be at or 12 a.m. and say you do. The mara temple is in riften.
  • swift123 - July 10, 2013 1:28 a.m.

    Joshua-Wilkinson u go to riften enter the [bee and barb] and youl find a guy named maramal talk to him a lot then say [id like to purchanse a amulet of mara] tthan go to a women that u can help after completing her quest it gives you the option to say [are you interetet in me] than she says yes and go the the temple of mara in riften and talk to maramal to arrange your wedding than wait 24 hours than all the gusest arrive and u go to the serromony [simple] XD
  • AllentheDominic - December 3, 2014 7:29 p.m.

    You have to go to the Temple of Mara in Riften or the Bee and Barb and talk to Maramal and buy an amulet of Mara from him. Once you have that the speech option to marry someone will be unlocked
  • worleykins - December 6, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    iv been turned into a vampire and i hate the side affects = (. can anyone tell me how to get cured?
  • azurechocobo - December 9, 2011 1:58 p.m.

    Go become a werewolf. Seriously, it works
  • swift123 - July 10, 2013 1:34 a.m.

    u go to an inn than u ask the innkeeper for rumors and sometimes thers a mission that can cure u worleykins
  • Kaeda - December 4, 2011 noon

    The Amulet of Articulation is glitched. It's supposed to be level-dependan, but the version you get is randomly determined. You could get the best at level 1, the worst at level 50, etc. Save before you finish the last Thieve's Guild quest.
  • jimmynak - December 3, 2011 5:17 p.m.

    i feel i should warn people not to use the leveling up glitches with hadvar at the beginning of the game. thanks to enemies leveling with you this makes the faction quests much harder. or maybe i just suck at rpg combat i dont know.
  • closer2192 - December 3, 2011 2:23 p.m.

    The Dark Brotherhood sent an assassin to kill me... what does this mean?
  • sirdilznik - December 3, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    It means someone wants you dead.
  • ranivus - December 3, 2011 1:41 a.m.

    Wheres the vampires?? East india Company?
  • azureguy - December 2, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    Good guide overall, but I think you've made a mistake by the Blades: Delphine is a woman, not a man. Also, I should point out that in order to complete the Thieves' Guild quests and get the final achievement, you must do some of the side-quests Vex and Danton offer you. These quests eventually unlock about 3 or 4 other quests, and once these quests are done, you can proceed to the ceremony.
  • winner2 - December 2, 2011 6:34 p.m.

    Same here with the thieves guild, I don't think I ever got any special amulet or master armor after I beat it. That's one really annoying glitch cause I don't feel like completely redoing a sneak file just for that
  • jackthemenace - December 3, 2011 12:56 a.m.

    It's a little more complicated to get 'Guild Master' status than just finishing the questline- you have to do a whole bunch of those optional side jobs, and eventually Delvin'll tell you to go do a special quest in one of four main cities. once you've done all four, there may or may not be a fifth one to do (I can't remember), but Brynjolf then gives you 'Guild master' status, as well as a snazzy 30g cheevo.
  • inkyspot - December 2, 2011 5:33 p.m.

    I messed with the mage guild was thinking about the thieves guild, just didn't like people hating me or having to rough up people that were innocent. So I reverted back to an older save. My brother did the vampire thing and I thought the side effects sucked. I also did the Imperial Army (I couldn't care for either), but I felt that they were more welcoming to different races as the the Stormcloaks. Me with my honeyed words.

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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