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Follower (Skyrim)

Last edited on April 18, 2014
by Sky Above,Voice Within
Lydia
For other instances of this mechanic, see Follower.

Followers are various characters found throughout Skyrim. They can travel with, battle for, and carry items for the Dragonborn.

A subclass of followers is non-humanoid followers such as dogs and Armored Trolls. (Armored Trolls are only found in the Dawnguard DLC if you joined the Dawnguard.) 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. 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, Stealth, Smithing, Speech, Alchemy, and Enchanting. However, skills outside of Combat, Magic, and Stealth cannot be directly benefited from.

Certain followers can also serve as Skill Trainers. Many followers can marry and a few can join the Blades after being relocated to Sky Haven Temple.


Leveling

Followers will match the current level of one's Character, up to a certain level cap that varies from follower to follower. The vast majority of followers cap at level 30. Be sure to take care of your Followers. For example, giving them better weapons and armor may save them or even you in the long run.

Roggi Knot-Beard and Sven notably cap at level 20.

All recruitable members of The Companions who are not part of The Circle, as well as Adelaisa Vendicci, cap at level 25. Mjoll the Lioness, Illia, and all hireable Mercenaries (including Erik the Slayer) cap at level 40. Also, in the Dawnguard add-on, Beleval and Agmaer cap at 25.

Erandur, the members of The Circle (Aela, Farkas, and Vilkas), and all Housecarls cap at level 50. In Dawnguard, Serana caps at 50. J'zargo and Dark Brotherhood Initiates cap at level 81, the same level as the Dragonborn maxed out before patch 1.9, and so do Durak, Celann, and Ingjard in Dawnguard.

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 encounter the Dragonborn, and will not continue to level up with you. The only way to fix this leveling error is to use console commands on the PC ("disable" then "enable" the character while they are not active followers) or use the Wabbajack to turn them into an animal, then rehire them when they change back. This resets their stats to the Dragonborn's current level and also does not appear to reset their inventory or quest scripting (although one must take an item from their inventory and put it back to get them to re-equip any non-default equipment they have). However, it has no effect if they are currently following. Essential characters cannot be transformed; therefore, essential followers cannot reset their stats unless 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 Silver Hand (this is because the game de-spawns Farkas/Aela and replaces them with a transformed version, then re-spawns them later; 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 character version than the version that can become a follower.

Combat

Morale varies from Follower to Follower. Some, like the Housecarls, will always fight to the death, while others, like Roggi Knot-Beard, will often flee from combat if seriously injured.

All Followers favor two-handed weapons over one-handed weapons, even if they are unskilled in two-handed weapon usage. Therefore, avoid letting followers whose primary combat skill is one-handed weapons have two-handed weapons in their inventory. 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 does not use up inventory arrows and will fire the strongest arrow available in the Follower's inventory. For example, a Follower with 1 Daedric Arrow in their inventory effectively has an infinite number of Daedric Arrows.

Followers can dual-wield, but only if a Forsworn Sword, Forsworn Axe, or a Pickaxe (the Housecarl of Falkreath, Rayya, can dual wield scimitars) is wielded along with another melee weapon, and only if they do not have a shield or other weapon in their inventory. They will also dual-wield magic staffs, 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 (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.

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.

Death

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 and rejoin the fight. 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 that 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 Dragon, can also kill a Follower. Many times, followers tend to get in the line-of-fire of an arrow or a spell produced by the Dragonborn causing them to die, even if it was unintentional.

Some followers are marked essential, such as Mjoll the Lioness, Derkeethus, Serana, Cicero and Dark Brotherhood Initiates. They cannot be killed by any means. 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 its knee. So caution is advised if encountering high level Falmer, Chaurus, poisoned traps, etc.

To avoid follower 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 to carry in their inventory, which they may use if the need arises. 

Other ways followers can die include:

  • 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 resurrect.

Commands

Giving Follower Commands to Lydia
A player giving Follower Commands to a Follower called Lydia

Permanent followers can be given several commands.

Initiate conversation (outside of combat), and tell them I have something I want you to do OR 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 great way to call the follower to The Dragonborn's position while they're in their "wait" mode.

They can:

  • Attack another individual or creature (disposition allowing)
  • 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 (unless told to wait, they will usually stand back up)
  • Activate a Shrine to receive its blessing
  • Perform jobs such as wood chopping (but not mining ore)
  • Leave the Dragonborn's service
  • Pickpocket (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 can fill soul gems on the Dragonborn's behalf - provided they have soul gems in their inventory and a weapon with the Soul Trap enchantment.
  • 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 for about 3 days before they get tired and leave the Dragonborn. They will then return to their home or the location where they were originally found.

Morality

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. 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. Kharjo, Aela, Lydia and Benor will not have any possible interactions while tresspassing, only saying, "You shouldn't be here," when spoken to. They will still fight for the Dragonborn, however.

If not hidden, the Dragonborn will be held responsible if a follower is asked to perform an illegal activity.

Equipment and inventory

Mjoll
Mjoll the Lioness, in Ebony Armor with a Steel Plate Helmet, a Dwarven Shield and Grimsever.

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 using 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. The Dark Brotherhood Initiate, however, strongly opposes the use of heavy armor unless it is significantly better than her current armor, this is because the Initiate prefers light armor, matching her skills.

The only way to prevent the use of an undesirable piece of equipment is to remove it from their inventory.

Inventory

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 overencumber them appear greyed out.

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, this 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.

Effect dismissing has on equipment

If the Dragonborn sends their follower away (dismiss), and later decides to recruit him/her again, the Dragonborn might find the follower wearing the 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, he/she will use new/better equipment again.

Placing just a single arrow in a follower's inventory will give them an infinite supply of that type of arrow (assuming the follower has a bow), so it is a good idea to keep them equipped with one of the best arrows the Dragonborn has. It can backfire against stronger enemies that use bows, as this can immediately cause the enemy to equip the one high-end arrow that landed on their body and shoot it back with an infinite supply.

Multiple followers

Followers are said to be limited to one at a time, but there are several ways to exploit 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.

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.

Followers

Housecarls

Housecarls are essentially bodyguards who protect nobility and important people from threats. Becoming the Thane of a Hold will grant a personal housecarl. In the base game all available housecarls are Nord warriors, however The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire adds additional housecarls for The Pale, Falkreath and Hjaalmarch.

Name Location Prerequisite Race Marriage Blades Steward
Argis the Bulwark Vlindrel Hall, Markarth Thane of Markarth Nord Yes Yes Yes
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

Faction followers

Completing certain quests for a faction will grant access to some followers from that faction.

The College of Winterhold

Name Max

level

Class Location Quest Race Marriage Blades Steward
Brelyna Maryon 30 Mage Hall of Attainment Brelyna's Practice Dunmer Yes Yes Yes
J'zargo 81 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

The Companions

Name Max

level

Class Location Quest Race Marriage Blades Steward
Aela the Huntress 50 Hunter Jorrvaskr Glory of the Dead Nord Yes Yes Yes
Athis 25 Warrior 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 Jorrvaskr Glory of the Dead Imperial Yes Yes Yes
Torvar 25 Warrior Jorrvaskr Glory of the Dead Nord Yes Yes No
Vilkas

50

Warrior Jorrvaskr Glory of the Dead Nord Yes Yes Yes

Dark Brotherhood

Name Level

max

Class Location Quest Race Marriage Blades Steward
Cicero 50 Assassin Dawnstar Sanctuary Hail Sithis! Imperial No No No
Dark Brotherhood Initiate 81 Assassin Dawnstar Sanctuary Hail Sithis!

Nord

No No No

Dawnguard

Having The Elder Scrolls V: 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.

Name Level

max

Class Location Race Marriage Blades Steward
Ingjard 81 Warrior Fort Dawnguard Nord No Yes Yes
Durak 81 Ranger Fort Dawnguard Orsimer No Yes Yes
Agmaer 25 Warrior Fort Dawnguard Nord No Yes Yes
Beleval 25 Bandit Fort Dawnguard Bosmer No Yes Yes
Celann 81 Warrior Fort Dawnguard Breton No Yes Yes

Mercenaries

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. Mercenaries reach their maximum level at 40.
Name Class Location Race Marriage Blades Steward
Belrand Spellsword The Winking Skeever, Solitude Nord Yes Yes Yes
Jenassa Assassin The Drunken Huntsman, Whiterun Dunmer Yes Yes No
Marcurio Mage Bee and Barb, Riften Imperial Yes Yes Yes
Stenvar Warrior Candlehearth Hall, Windhelm Nord Yes Yes No
Teldryn Sero

DB

Spellsword The Retching Netch, Raven Rock Dunmer No Yes No
Vorstag Warrior 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.

Name Max

Level

Class Location Prerequisite Race Marriage Blades Steward
Adelaisa Vendicci 25 Citizen East Empire Company Rise in the East Imperial No Yes Yes
Ahtar 30 Warrior Castle Dour Kill the Bandit Leader Redguard No Yes No
Annekke Crag-Jumper 30 Archer Darkwater Crossing Kill the Bandit Leader Nord No Yes Yes
Aranea Ienith 30 Mage Shrine of Azura Side with her during The Black Star Dunmer No Yes No
Eola 30 Nightblade Hall of the Dead, Markarth Help her in The Taste of Death Breton No Yes Yes
Erandur 50 Mage Windpeak Inn, Dawnstar Help him in Waking Nightmare Dunmer No Yes No
Erik the Slayer 40 Barbarian Frostfruit Inn, Rorikstead Erik the Slayer Nord No Yes Yes
Faendal 30 Archer Riverwood Help him in Love Triangle Bosmer No Yes Yes
Frea

DB

81 Warrior Skaal Village The Fate of the Skaal Nord No Yes No
Golldir 30 Warrior Hillgrund's Tomb Help him in Ancestral Worship Nord No Yes Yes
Illia 40 Mage Darklight Tower Help her in Repentance Imperial No Yes Yes
Kharjo 30 Warrior Ahkari's Khajiit Caravan Retrieve his Moon Amulet Khajiit No Yes No
Lob 30 Warrior Largashbur The Cursed Tribe Orc No Yes Yes
Mjoll the Lioness 40 Warrior Riften Retrieve Grimsever Nord Yes Yes No
Ogol 30 Warrior Largashbur The Cursed Tribe Orc No Yes Yes
Ralis Sedarys

DB

 ? Rogue Kolbjorn Barrow Spare him at the end of Unearthed Dunmer No Yes No
Roggi Knot-Beard 20 Warrior Kynesgrove Find Roggi's Knot-Beard's Ancestral Shield Nord Yes Yes Yes
Serana

DG

50 Vampire Fort Dawnguard
Castle Volkihar
Kindred Judgment Nord No No No
Sven 20 Bard Riverwood Help him in Love Triangle Nord No Yes Yes
Talvas Fathryon

DB

 ? Conjurer Tel Mithryn From the Ashes Dunmer  ? Yes Yes
Ugor 30 Archer Largashbur The Cursed Tribe Orc No Yes No

Miscellaneous followers

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.

Name Class
Location Prerequisite Race
Marriage Blades Steward
Benor Warrior Morthal Beat him in a brawl Nord Yes Yes No
Borgakh the Steel Heart Warrior Mor Khazgur Pay her dowry or persuade her Orc Yes Yes No
Cosnach Warrior

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 The Bannered Mare, Whiterun Beat her in a brawl Nord Yes Yes Yes

Non-humanoid

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.

Name Type Location Preresquisite
Armored Troll

DG

Troll Fort Dawnguard A New Order, 500
BarbasDog Outside Falkreath Begin Speak to Lod
Bran

DG

Armored War Dog Fort Dawnguard A New Order
CuSith

DG

Death Hound Castle Volkihar The Bloodstone Chalice
Garmr

DG

Death Hound Castle Volkihar The Bloodstone Chalice
Meeko Dog Wandering near Meeko's Shack None
Riekling

DB

Riekling Thirsk Mead Hall The Chief of Thirsk Hall
Sceolang

DG

Armored War Dog Fort Dawnguard A New Order
Steadfast Dwarven Sphere

DB

Dwarven Sphere Kagrumez During The Kagrumez Trials
Steadfast Dwarven Spider

DB

Dwarven Spider Kagrumez During The Kagrumez Trials
Stray Dog Dog Random location/With hunters
Shadowmere Horse Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary Begin The Cure for Madness
Vigilance Dog Markarth Stables 500

† 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.

Follower trainers

Some potential followers are also Trainers who can train the Dragonborn in particular combat skills, allowing him or her to increase the skill level for those skills. The training is not free, but once these trainers become the Dragonborn's followers, he or she may 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, he or she 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.)

Trivia

  • Followers can be ordered to take all the contents of a container, even if they would not be able to hold the equivalent weight; however, the items taken will be marked as stolen. This means follower can hold an infinite number of items.
  • 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 3 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.
  • If the Dragonborn starts the quest Alduin's Wall and lets Esbern and Delphine follow him/her to the objective, he or she effectively gains two extra human followers who cannot die permanently, as long as the quest is not actually completed.
  • If this is combined with the conjuration perk Twin Souls, a traditional follower and an animal follower, the total number of creatures following and fighting for the Dragonborn can be brought up to six. This can, however, make it difficult at times to backtrack through doors and passages.
  • With 90 skill in Conjuration, reanimation of two conjurers/summoners who then summon an additional two minions, the unique mount Shadowmere, Delphine, Esbern, a minion that can be summoned by Esbern, a regular Follower, a Dark Brotherhood Initiate and an animal Follower brings the number of followers up to a total of 10, and even 11 if one regular follower is a mage who can conjure a familiar, or if a follower is given a staff of summoning, for example, the Sanguine Rose. If the Dragonborn chooses not to complete A Daedra's Best Friend and keep Barbas and Mercer Frey, he or she could potentially have 15 followers.
  • If the quest Arniel's Endeavor is completed, the Dragonborn will be able to summon Arniel's Shade along with their regular conjured familiar(s), and increase the total number of followers by one.
  • Some followers will give the Dragonborn the key to their house, which will allow the looting of the entire place without stealing or killing the follower.
  • Certain quests may require the follower to leave the Dragonborn's service. The follower will then leave with any items he received. To regain the follower, meet them where they were originally found. If they are a hireling, they will most likely ask for another 500 gold depending on how much time has passed or whether they're particularly fond of the Dragonborn.
  • If the follower gets any kind of arrow, it can be duplicated if the follower attacks someone. (Followers will pick up arrows.)
  • Occasionally, a mage follower will equip armor or clothes that is equal to their current robes (or one that has a better enchantment). This will occasionally happen if the Dragonborn waits, fast-travels, enters a building, or sleeps. But the easiest way to make the mage follower equip other robes or clothing, is by entering Apocrypha. When the Dragonborn leaves Apocrypha, the mage follower should be wearing the desirable armor they were given. (The above was tested on Talvas Fathryon, Brelyna Maryon, and Marcurio)
  • Followers, Dead Thralls, and Animal followers cannot follow the Dragonborn into a Dark Brotherhood sanctuary unless it's either Cicero or a Dark Brotherhood initiate that's following the Dragonborn. This also includes particular quests in the game where the follower will not enter the location the Dragonborn entered, such as Snow Veil Sanctum

Bugs

This section contains bugs related to Follower (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Confirm all bugs with other editors on the talk page before adding them below.
  2. Always try reloading an old save first, before asking for assistance.
  3. Do not discuss possible bug fixes or origins. Leave those and all other first-person-anecdotes on the talk page, not the article.
  4. Always add  360  ,  PS3  , and  PC   to clarify which system the bug appears on.

At a very rare occurrence, if you use command on a follower they will not do what they are commanded to and instead say "Anything else?" This will make it impossible to acquire certain objects due to lack of cooperation with the command phase.

  • Follower Google Doc - For a full list of followers, their stats, advantages, and perks. Note: only includes humanoid followers from the base game. Followers found in Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn add-ons are not covered

Appearances