A subclass of followers is non-humanoid followers, such as dogs. These followers can neither carry nor equip items. The interaction with these followers is also limited to the wait/follow commands and dismissal.
It is only possible to have one humanoid follower at a time, but in most cases there is no penalty for dismissing a follower and then re-recruiting the follower later. In addition, one non-humanoid follower may accompany the Dragonborn at the same time.
Followers will match the current level of the Dragonborn, up to a certain level cap that varies from follower to follower. The vast majority of followers cap at level 30.
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, Cicero, 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, and so do Durak, Celann, and Ingjard in Dawnguard.
Prior to patch 1.6 in Skyrim, followers (along with all other levelable characters) were locked at the level at which they first encounter the Dragonborn, and would not continue to level up with the Dragonborn. The only way to fix this this leveling error is to use console commands on the PC, ("disable" then "enable" the character while they are not active followers), or use Wabbajack to turn them into an animal, then rehire them when they change back. This resets their stats to the current Dragonborn 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.
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 staffs 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 as long as they are only using their default bow). If a Follower is given a different bow other than their default one, they will use up arrows just like the Dragonborn.
Followers can dual-wield, but only a Forsworn Sword 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 duel-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.
Fortunately for followers, enemy combatants 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. In addition, in that near-death state, a follower is in danger of being killed outright if 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.
It is important to remember that enemies using poison can kill followers, since the poison continues its effect even after the follower drops to it's knee. So caution is advised if encountering high level Falmers, Chauruses, poisoned traps, etc.
To avoid follower death in this scenario, the best course of action to take 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, if the need arises, they may use them.
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
Follower commandsPermanent 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.
- Attack another NPC 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.
- Activate a Shrine to receive its blessing.
- Perform jobs such as wood chopping, (but not mining ore).
- Leave the Dragonborn's service.
- Pickpocketing (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.
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.
If not hidden, the Dragonborn will be held responsible if a follower is asked to perform an illegal activity.
Inventory and equipment
Followers can be commanded to pick up items even when they are at their carry limit and their movement rate will not be reduced. Although the Dragonborn can command a follower to pick up any piece of equipment, giving them the same piece of equipment, (trading in conversation menu), has a different result, since followers might use it if it has higher stats. An exploit the Dragonborn can use to carry an infinite amount of weight is available through followers. A follower can pick up anything at any time when directed by the Dragonborn to do so. Alternatively, a follower has a certain "given weight" limit. After the Dragonborn has given a certain amount of weight to a follower, they are no longer able to be given certain items. If the Dragonborn wants them to hold more, all they need to do is to find a canister (chest, corpse, barrel, anything that can hold items) and put every single thing they want their follower to pick up inside. The Dragonborn must then tell the follower to take everything in the canister and they will comply. After this, every single item will be in their inventory; however, these items will be marked as stolen and can only be sold at the Thieves Guild in Riften or through the higher levels of the Speech perks. These items will be confiscated if in the Dragonborn's inventory when arrested. If these items are dropped and picked up again in plain sight, it will be seen as a crime.
Followers always equip the best possible weapons or apparel 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 as their starting equipment unless it has been improved using smithing or enchantments. Therefore, sometimes followers refuse to equip an item the Dragonborn gave them, (as in the above example: Mjoll the Lioness prefers two-handed weapons over one-handed, but the Dragonborn can give her a sword and a shield). The Dragonborn can start trade, take an old item from the follower, (to prevent the use of that piece of equipment), and then drop it, in order to exchange it with a newer/better piece of equipment, thus forcing the follower to equip the desired item.
Followers will retain their inventories even after the Dragonborn dismisses them. In this way, it is possible to use them for limited storage, as long as the Dragonborn does not lose access to them by somehow turning them against the Dragonborn. If they are killed, the Dragonborn can loot the stored items 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.
Read the main article 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 Initiate, summoning more than one Atronach, and mods on the make it possible to build a small army.
It is also possible to use the spell/power gained through the Dark Brotherhood questline to have an additional follower. The Spectral Assassin will stay by your side until they are defeated in battle or you summon another familiar, atronach, etc. They will travel with you across Skyrim.
Housecarls are essentially bodyguards who protect nobility and important people from threats. Becoming the Thane of a Hold will grant the Dragonborn a personal housecarl. All available housecarls are Nord warriors.
|Argis the Bulwark||Vlindrel Hall, Markarth||Become Thane of Markarth||Nord||Yes|
|Calder||Become Thane of Eastmarch||Nord||Yes|
|Iona||Honeyside, Riften||Become Thane of The Rift||Nord||Yes|
|Jordis the Sword-Maiden||Proudspire Manor, Solitude||Become Thane of Haafingar||Nord||Yes|
|Lydia||Breezehome, Whiterun||Become Thane of Whiterun||Nord||Yes (as of patch 1.5)|
Completing certain quests for a faction will grant the Dragonborn access to followers from that faction.
|Name|| Class||Faction||Location||Quest|| Race|| Marriage|
|Aela the Huntress||Rogue||The Companions||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes|
|Athis||Warrior||The Companions||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Dunmer||Yes|
|Farkas||Warrior||The Companions||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes|
|Njada Stonearm||Warrior||The Companions||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes|
|Ria||Warrior||The Companions||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Imperial||Yes|
|Torvar||Warrior||The Companions||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes|
|Vilkas||Warrior||The Companions||Jorrvaskr||Glory of the Dead||Nord||Yes|
|Brelyna Maryon||Mage||The College of Winterhold||Hall of Attainment||Brelyna's Practice||Dunmer||Yes|
|J'zargo||Mage||The College of Winterhold||Hall of Attainment||J'zargo's Experiment||Khajiit||No|
|Onmund||Mage||The College of Winterhold||Hall of Attainment||Onmund's Request||Nord||Yes|
|Cicero||Assassin||Dark Brotherhood||Dawnstar Sanctuary||Hail Sithis!||Imperial||No|
|Dark Brotherhood Initiate||Assassin||Dark Brotherhood||Dawnstar Sanctuary||Hail Sithis!||Nord||No|
|Name|| Class||Location|| Race|| Marriage|
|Belrand||Spellsword||Winking Skeever, Solitude||Nord||Yes|
|Jenassa||Assassin||The Drunken Huntsman, Whiterun||Dunmer||Yes|
|Marcurio||Mage||Bee and Barb, Riften||Imperial||Yes|
|Stenvar||Warrior||Candlehearth Hall, Windhelm||Nord||Yes|
|Vorstag||Warrior||Silver Blood Inn, Markarth||Nord||Yes|
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, or could be as easy as Brawling against them and winning the match.
|Name|| Class||Location||Prerequisite|| Race|| Marriage|
|Benor||Warrior||Morthal||Beat him in a brawl||Nord||Yes|
|Borgakh the Steel Heart||Warrior||Mor Khazgur||Pay her dowry or persuade her||Orc||Yes|
|Cosnach||Warrior||Beat him in a brawl or give him a drink||Breton||Yes|
|Derkeethus||Rogue||Darkwater Pass||Free him from captivity||Argonian||Yes|
|Ghorbash the Iron Hand||Warrior||Dushnikh Yal||Convince him to travel with the Dragonborn||Orc||Yes|
|Uthgerd the Unbroken||Warrior||The Bannered Mare, Whiterun||Beat her in a brawl||Nord||Yes|
Animal followers can be used alongside any humanoid follower, this means that the Dragonborn can have one human and one dog follower simultaneously, (plus Barbas for a total of 2 dogs), plus a horse.
|Barbas||Outside Falkreath||Begin Speak to Lod|
|Meeko||Wandering near Meeko's Shack||None|
|Stray Dog||Random location||None|
|Shadowmere||Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary||Begin The Cure for Madness|
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. Animal followers cannot be given items and thus cannot use equipment. As animal followers die with any killing stroke, they are not recommended late in the game nor for use with powerful melee Dragonborns, as a single attack from a high-level well-equipped Dragonborn will result in the immediate death of the animal follower.
- Most, but not all, characters that can be married can become followers, as well.
- Followers can be ordered to take all the contents of a container, even if they would not be able to hold the equivalent amount of weight; however, the items taken will be marked as stolen. This means that the Dragonborn's follower can hold an infinite amount of items. This can be especially useful for Dwemer metals, dragon scales, and bones.
- Use caution when giving followers unique weapons, as they can lose them when attacked by Draugr that use the Disarm shout.
- Only rogue and rogue-like characters are able to open any chest if asked. If they cannot, either they are not a rogue, the Dragonborn asked them to unlock a door, or this is a bug.
- Every humanoid follower with the exception of Cicero 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 initiated as Blades, they will no longer return to their home or starting location, instead taking up residence at Sky Haven Temple.
- The free set of blade 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 to the objective, he effectively gains two extra human followers who can not die permanently as long as he does not actually attempt to complete the quest.
- 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 amount 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 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 his regular conjured familiar(s), and increase his amount of followers by one.
- Some followers will give the Dragonborn the key to their house which will allow to freely loot the entire place without stealing or killing the follower.
- Certain quests may require the follower to leave his service. The follower will then leave with any items he received. To regain the follower, meet him where he was originally found. If he is a hireling, he 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.)
- If the Dragonborn has acquired a bounty, and wish to pay it without losing their stolen items, they can place them into their follower's inventory, and then pay The Dragonborn's bounty to a guard. After the Dragonborn is freed, they may retrieve the stolen items from their follower's inventory.
- Sometimes when the Dragonborn frees something from a cage they will attack their enemies instead of the Dragonborn.
- Followers get effects from enchanted items and will equip enchanted items in favor of identical non-enchanted ones.
Followers who are Trainers
Some potential followers are also Trainers, who can train the Dragonborns 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 this way: 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 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)
- Follower Google Doc - For a full list of followers, their stats, advantages, and peaks
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