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?

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  • McSpermie - December 2, 2011 4:53 p.m.

    Useful guide, made sure I didn't miss anything.
  • IChooseUAntistaMON - December 2, 2011 5:08 p.m.

    I completed the theif's guild but apparently there is a glitch where you can't become the Guild Master unless you do specific quests before the final quest
  • HankVenture - December 2, 2011 5:10 p.m.

    I've completed the Thieves and Brotherhood guilds and while their missions are fun, I didn't feel the impact like I did in oblivion. I didn't feel like I did anything truly important, I mean the endings were significant but I just was craving a lot more to it for me to get those titles. and the brotherhood had funner missions in Oblivion I think, but still thank you for the guide
  • Craza - December 3, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    I didn't like how evil and corrupt the Thieves Guild felt, so I haven't done any more of their quests. In Morrowind, they were kinda the good guys, like a guild of Robin Hoods and I loved that. In Oblivion too, it never felt like I was just one big douchebag. I felt like I was actively helping people. In this one, they really just are bunch of thieves without regards to the type of people they're stealing from. I haven't gone to the sanctuary for the Dark Brotherhood yet, but I'd really like to go through their quests. That was my absolute favorite part of Oblivion. Those quests were the most unique and fun, even if the slaughter of that entire base of operations at the end disheartened me.
  • ombranox - December 5, 2011 6:45 p.m.

    Murderfying the Emperor was fun. I made sure to use bound blade in the process.
  • D0CCON - December 2, 2011 5:16 p.m.

    I didn't know you could physically join the Greybeards and Blades, which are both pretty cool. I'm personally working on the companions right now so I can turn into a freakin werewolf. No aversion to sunlight AND people don't hate you unless they see you turn? It's like being a vampire except better and with no major annoying side effects.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ranivus - December 3, 2011 1:41 a.m.

    Wheres the vampires?? East india Company?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 :)