Skyrim factions and guilds guide

Imperial Army and the Stormcloaks

The Imperials and the Stormcloaks are in the middle of a massive civil war, a fact you’ll discover almost immediately upon starting Skyrim. Choosing a side can be a tough decision, but rest assured you’ll earn the same Achievements regardless of which faction you join. There’s also no real item advantage to either side, so don’t worry about missing out on some incredible sword or jewelry. As a matter of fact, the weapons and armor you receive as quest rewards are usually leveled, which means their stats scale to match whatever your current level is at the moment of collection. 

That just leaves story as the determining factor. Are you the type who loves decimating rebel scum? Or do you prefer toppling your rulers because you think you know better? If you’re dying to see both outcomes, create a save file just before you make a decision, then load and try joining the other side.

Once you’ve joined either faction you’ll earn the “Taking Sides” Achievement/Trophy.


You can join up by visiting the headquarters in Windhelm, found in eastern edge of Skyrim. After you complete the “Joining the Stormcloaks” mission, you’ll have the opportunity to recite an oath to Galmar. Doing so cements your decision to join the Stormcloaks, so if you’re having second thoughts, now is your chance to back out. 

Imperial Army

You can join up by visiting the headquarters in Solitude, found in the northwest corner of Skyrim. After you complete the first quest labeled “Joining the Legion,” you’ll have the chance to recite the Imperial oath to Tullius. Doing so cements your decision to join the Imperials, so if you’re having second thoughts, now is your chance to back out.

Bard's College

The Bard’s College is just east of Solitude, which can be found in the northwestern corner of Skyrim. This is a minor faction, but well worth your time. After completing the first quest called “Tending the Flames,” you will receive upon completion of each subsequent quest an instant +1 to six of your skills. For example, after completing “Finn’s Lute,” Finn will give you +1 in Light Armor, Sneak, Pickpocket, Lockpicking, Alchemy, and Speech. There are two additional quests that cover the remaining skills. 

The Blades

The Blades can be found in Sky Haven Temple. Unfortunately, you cannot reach this location until after you complete the main story quest called “Alduin’s Wall.” Once you meet Delphine, you can bring any follower to her and she’ll “recruit” them. These recruits will still be your followers, but they will now live in Sky Haven Temple and be able to equip the powerful Blades armor and weapons. 

If you bring three followers for recruiting into the Blades, Esbern will start marking on your map the locations of dragons, one at a time. Once you’ve killed the dragon, return to Esbern and he’ll mark another. If he won’t give up the next one, wait at least three days and try again.   

The Greybeards

The Greybeards reside in High Hrothgar, found on the tallest mountain in Skyrim. You’ll eventually get here if you follow the main questline of the game, but if you want to go early, look for the massive set of stairs leading up the mountain that start in Ivarstead. 

Provided you’ve completed the main story quest called “The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller,” you can talk to Arngeir and ask him to mark a location on your map of a single undiscovered Word Wall. You can repeat this after each discovery until all the walls have been found. If he won’t give up the next one, wait at least three days then try again.

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  • 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.