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.
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.
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?