A subclass of followers is non-humanoid followers, such as dogs and Armored Trolls. (Armored Trolls are only found in The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard when the Dawnguard has been joined.) 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 or conjuration (see Multiple Followers) 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, Sneak, Smithing, Speech, Alchemy, and Enchanting. However, skills outside of Combat, Magic, and Sneak cannot be directly benefited from.
Followers will match the current Character Level of the Dragonborn up to a certain level cap which varies from follower to follower. The vast majority of followers cap at level 30. Roggi Knot-Beard and Sven notably cap at level 20.
Torvar, Ria, Athis, and Njada Stonearm of The Companions, Adelaisa Vendicci, and Beleval and Agmaer from the Dawnguard add-on cap at level 25. Mjoll the Lioness, Illia, and all hireable mercenaries (including Erik the Slayer) cap at level 40.
Erandur, Cicero, the members of The Circle (Aela, Farkas, and Vilkas), and all Housecarls cap at level 50. In Dawnguard, Serana caps at level 50 as well. As a result of patch 1.9, followers who would level with the Dragonborn to level 81 will no longer experience a level cap, and will continue to level with the Dragonborn. They include J'zargo, the Dark Brotherhood Initiates, and in the Dawnguard and Dragonborn add-ons, Celann, Ingjard, Durak, and Frea also have no level cap.
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 encountered the Dragonborn, and will not continue to level up. The only way to fix this leveling error is to use console commands on the PC (
enable the character while they are not active followers) or use the Wabbajack to turn them into an animal, then wait for them to change back. This resets their stats to the Dragonborn's current level. This does not appear to reset their inventory or quest scripting. Essential characters cannot be transformed, and one can therefore not reset their stats without 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 quest "The Silver Hand." This is because the game de-spawns Farkas and Aela and replaces them with a transformed version, then re-spawns them later, which is 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 version of the character than the one that can become a follower.
Targeting a follower and typing
setlevel 1000 0 1 81 will make that follower level up with the Dragonborn until they reach level 81. Replacing the last number in that command with a number other than 81 will change their level cap to the given number.
It is notable that followers with a lower level cap, such as Jenassa, have more stats (Health, Magicka, and Stamina) and skill points (One Handed, Sneak, etc.) per level than other followers with a higher level cap, such as Aela the Huntress, or even followers with no level cap, such as Frea or Ingjard. As such, it is wise to have a similar follower with a lower level cap, such as Jenassa, up until they reach their level cap, then trade for a similar follower with a higher level cap, such as Aela, to be more effective.
All followers favor two-handed weapons over one-handed weapons, even if they are unskilled in two-handed weapon usage. Therefore, letting followers whose primary combat skill is one-handed weapons have two-handed weapons in their inventory should be avoided. Additionally, followers appear to favor magic staves 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 shoots an endless supply of iron arrows, which are not visible in the follower's inventory. To have a follower shoot more powerful arrows, a single arrow of that type should be put in their inventory. This will allow them to lose an endless supply of that arrow type. Followers will automatically choose the most powerful arrow type available in their inventory.
Followers can dual-wield melee weapons, but only if there is no shield in their inventory, and only if a Forsworn Sword, Forsworn Axe, Falmer War Axe, Falmer Sword or a pickaxe is wielded along with another melee weapon (the Housecarl of Falkreath, Rayya, can dual wield scimitars). They will also dual-wield magic staves, 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, e.g. 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.
Fortunately for followers, enemies 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 up and rejoin the fight. However, 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 a 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 Dragons, can also kill a follower.
Some followers are marked essential, specifically: Mjoll the Lioness, Derkeethus, Serana, Cicero, Farkas, and Dark Brotherhood Initiates. They cannot be killed by any means — should their health be depleted, they will fall to the ground, and will get up after a certain amount of their health has regenerated. 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 their knee. Caution is advised if encountering high level Falmer, Chaurus, poisoned traps, etc.
To avoid a follower's 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 or Potions of Cure Poison to carry in their inventory, which they will automatically use if the need arises. In some cases, the best course of action may be to tell a follower to wait before entering a particularly dangerous area.
Other ways followers can die include:
- Traps, such as the swinging blade hallways in dungeons or spinning floor blades in Dwemer ruins.
- 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 need you to do something." 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 a great way to call the follower to the Dragonborn's position while they are in their "wait" mode.
- Attack another individual or creature.
- 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, although they will, unless told to wait, usually stand back up.
- Activate a shrine to receive its blessing.
- Perform jobs such as wood chopping, excluding mining.
- Leave the Dragonborn's service.
- Pickpocket: The 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 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 roughly three days before they get 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, or simply leave their service. 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. All followers, regardless or their morality, will not have any possible interactions while trespassing, saying only "You're not supposed to be in here" when spoken to. Cicero is the only exception. They will still fight for the Dragonborn, however, and commands can still be issued by activating them from a distance (holding the "activate" button) and telling them the desired task.
If not hidden, the Dragonborn will be held responsible if a follower is asked to perform an illegal activity. However, it is possible for the guards in a town to attack the follower while leaving the player character alone. Interfering with the battle will be seen as a crime, though.
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 by 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.
Each follower tends to have their own preference of armor. For example, Aela has no preference and will use heavy armor if she receives it, even though she is a marksman whose default armor is light. A Dark Brotherhood Initiate, however, strongly opposes the use of heavy armor unless it is significantly better than their current armor. This is because the initiate prefers light armor, matching their skills.
If a follower insists on using an undesirable piece of equipment, the only way to prevent this behavior is to remove it from their inventory.
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.
Enchantments on weapons work normally, but followers will only benefit from the following enchantment effects on their apparel and armor:
- Fortify Health
- Fortify Health Regeneration – only works during recovery phase/out of combat
- Fortify Heavy Armor
- Fortify Light Armor
- Fortify Magicka
- Fortify Magicka Regeneration
- Fortify Stamina
- Fortify Stamina Regeneration
- Fortify Unarmed
- Resist Fire
- Resist Frost
- Resist Magic
- Resist Poison
- Resist Shock
- Waterbreathing – Followers will not drown; however, this stops them surfacing for air
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 over-encumber them appear grayed out. Quest-related items cannot be given to followers for storage.
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. Alternatively, entering a new area will remove the "stolen" label.
An alternative exploit is to drop the items on the ground and instruct the follower to pick up each item one at a time. While potentially time consuming, it is a handy method when containers are not present or handy.
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 a follower is using their own default bow, placing just a single arrow in a follower's inventory will give them an infinite supply of that type of arrow.
Enemies may also exhibit this behavior: Shooting an enemy with an arrow more powerful than their own arrows has a small chance of adding that arrow to their inventory, allowing them to equip the more powerful arrow and return fire with an infinite supply.
Effect dismissing has on equipment
If the Dragonborn sends their follower away, i.e. dismisses them, and later decides to recruit him/her again, the Dragonborn will find the follower wearing their 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, they will use new or better equipment again.
Followers are supposed to be limited to one at a time; however, there are several ways to avoid this limit. Quest characters triggered to follow the Dragonborn, the Dark Brotherhood Initiates, Serana and summoning more than one Atronach. For more information, see Multiple Followers. Theoretically, if all DLCs are installed, one can have a maximum of fifteen followers at one time, though this can be undesirable in cramped spaces.
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 Thane of a Hold will grant a personal housecarl. In the base game, almost all available housecarls are Nord warriors, however, Hearthfire adds additional housecarls for The Pale, Falkreath and Hjaalmarch. All Housecarls have a level cap of 50.
All Housecarls are one-handed warriors, with the exception of Valdimar, who is a sorcerer. A Housecarl's main skills are Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Archery and Block, with the exception being Valdimar (Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Alteration, Destruction and Restoration).
|Argis the Bulwark||Vlindrel Hall, Markarth||Thane of Markarth||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Calder||Hjerim, Windhelm||Thane of Eastmarch||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Gregor HF||The White Hall, Dawnstar||Thane of The Pale||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Iona||Honeyside, Riften||Thane of The Rift||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Jordis the Sword-Maiden||Proudspire Manor, Solitude||Thane of Haafingar||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lydia||Breezehome, Whiterun||Thane of Whiterun||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rayya HF||Jarl's Longhouse, Falkreath||Thane of Falkreath||Redguard||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Valdimar HF||Highmoon Hall, Morthal||Thane of Hjaalmarch||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Completing certain quests for a faction will grant access to some followers from that faction.
|Brelyna Maryon||30||Mage||Hall of Attainment||Brelyna's Practice||Dunmer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|J'zargo||None||Mage||Hall of Attainment||J'zargo's Experiment||Khajiit||No||Yes||No|
|Onmund||30||Mage||Hall of Attainment||Onmund's Request||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Aela the Huntress||50||Ranger||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Athis||25||Warrior-1H||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Dunmer||Yes||Yes||No|
|Farkas||50||Blacksmith||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Njada Stonearm||25||Warrior||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ria||25||Warrior-1H||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Imperial||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Torvar||25||Warrior-1H||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Vilkas||50||Warrior-2H||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cicero||50||Assassin||Dawnstar Sanctuary||Hail Sithis!||Imperial||No||No||No|
|Dark Brotherhood Initiate||100||Assassin||Dawnstar Sanctuary||Hail Sithis!||Nord||No||No||No|
Having Dawnguard installed adds several more followers, both humanoid and non-humanoid, to the game. Most are dependent on which faction the Dragonborn decides to side with during the Bloodline quest, thus A New Order needs to be completed.
Mercenaries are typically found in taverns across Skyrim. They cost 500 to hire for any length of time. Dismissing a mercenary will send them back to the tavern they were found. All Mercenaries reach their maximum level at 40, the exception being Teldryn Sero, who caps at level 60.
|Belrand||Spellsword||The Winking Skeever, Solitude||Nord||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Erik the Slayer||Barbarian||Rorikstead||Nord||No||Yes||Yes|
|Jenassa||Ranger||The Drunken Huntsman, Whiterun||Dunmer||Yes||Yes||No|
|Marcurio||Mage||Bee and Barb, Riften||Imperial||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Stenvar||Warrior-2H||Candlehearth Hall, Windhelm||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Teldryn Sero||Spellsword||The Retching Netch, Raven Rock||Dunmer||No||Yes||No|
|Vorstag||Warrior-1H||Silver-Blood Inn, Markarth||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
Quest reward followers
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. Their levels cap at 30.
|Benor||Warrior-2H||Morthal||Beat him in a brawl||Nord||Yes||Yes||No|
|Borgakh the Steel Heart||Warrior-1H||Mor Khazgur||Pay her dowry or persuade her||Orc||Yes||Yes||No|
|Cosnach||Warrior-1H||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-1H||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||Troll||Fort Dawnguard||A New Order, 500|
|Barbas†||Dog||Outside Falkreath||Begin Speak to Lod|
|Bran||Armored War Dog||Fort Dawnguard||A New Order|
|CuSith||Death Hound||Castle Volkihar||The Bloodstone Chalice|
|Garmr||Death Hound||Castle Volkihar||The Bloodstone Chalice|
|Meeko||Dog||Wandering near Meeko's Shack||None|
|Riekling||Riekling||Thirsk Mead Hall||The Chief of Thirsk Hall|
|Sceolang||Armored War Dog||Fort Dawnguard||A New Order|
|Steadfast Dwarven Sphere||Dwarven Sphere||Kagrumez||During The Kagrumez Trials|
|Steadfast Dwarven Spider||Dwarven Spider||Kagrumez||During The Kagrumez Trials|
|Stray Dog||Dog||Random location/With hunters|
† 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 them to increase the skill level for those skills. The training is not free, but once these trainers become the Dragonborn's followers, they 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, they 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)
- 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 three 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.
- Followers, dead thralls, and animal followers cannot follow the Dragonborn into a Dark Brotherhood sanctuary, with the exception of Cicero or a Dark Brotherhood initiate as a follower. This also includes particular quests where the follower will not enter the location the Dragonborn entered, such as Snow Veil Sanctum.
- There are only two Khajiit and Redguard followers, one Argonian follower, and no Altmer followers.
This section contains bugs related to Follower (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
|Click to show a list of bugs|
- Follower Google Doc — For a full list of followers, their stats, advantages, and perks. This only includes humanoid followers from the base game. Followers found in Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn add-ons are not covered.
- Follower Google Doc #2 — For a more up to date full list of followers their stats, advantages, and perks in game. The Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn add-ons are covered. However please note a few stats of the Dawnguard and Dragonborn DLC followers are missing. This is the most near complete list of all humanoid followers in the game. Feel free to edit and update this guide to make it as accurate as possible.