The Forsworn (also known as Witchmen of High Rock) are a clan of Reachmen who are mostly encountered throughout the highlands of the Reach. Part Breton and part Nord, the Reachmen are natives of the Reach who have been engaged in a centuries-old rebellion and bitter power struggle with the Nords of Skyrim for control of the province's western-most hold.
The Forsworn, widely considered as a clan or tribe, are greatly feared among many people of the Reach. Their soldiers are notorious for being zealous in their cause to capture the Reach.
The Reach has historically been riddled with strife and turmoil because of its strategic location between High Rock and Skyrim, as well as for its rich silver mines. This has caused the two provinces to fight bitterly over its ownership. Over the centuries, the intermingling of Bretons and Nords in the region began to create a regionally distinct offshoot of Bretons called the "Reachmen."
These men and women of the Reach are the most closely linked to the distant Mer blood of any of the races of Men, as well as being part Nord. This diversity encouraged the development of a unique culture over a period of centuries. Following the Nords' conquest of The Reach- which they had laid claim to and held- a deep rooted hatred of the Nords has since become ingrained in their culture.
Despite being ousted from power and culturally ostracized, they still view the entirety of the hold as their ancestral land, and do not accept the Nordic occupation of the region, nor the Empire's legal authority over it. They briefly succeeded in taking control of Markarth, until Ulfric Stormcloak and his men were enlisted by the Empire to retake the city, causing the death of many Reachmen in the battle to reclaim the walled city. They have since taken on the name of "The Forsworn"- though it's unclear if this was by their choice, or was imposed upon them by the Nords to further encourage the perception of them as the aggressors in the conflict.
Regardless, they have organized and formed a "resistance": attempting to infiltrate Markarth, occupying the nearby forts and outposts, attacking its supply lines and its neighboring mines, all in an effort to weaken the Nord and Imperial's control of the region.
The Forsworn are rumored to worship the Daedric Princes and several other ancient Et'Ada, whom they refer to as the "Old Gods", and have a long history of consorting with Hagravens, who can often be encountered inside of Forsworn encampments, serving as spiritual leaders. Many male Forsworn, due to their worship of Hagravens, have offered their hearts to them in exchange for resiliency and combat prowess. This leads to the creation of the powerful Forsworn Briarheart. The ritual can be witnessed at Bard's Leap Summit.
Not much is known about the Forsworn's inner workings. The Vigilants of Stendarr, however, have investigated the Forsworn's practices and traditions, considering them 'occult'. They are known to deal with both Witches and Hagravens (who are their main magical and 'spiritual' leaders) and commit terrible practices, such as offering their hearts to Hagravens to become Forsworn Briarhearts.
The Forsworn wage a constant guerilla campaign across the Reach. Their soldiers are fearless fanatics who will often tattoo themselves or inflict self pain to get themselves into a battle trance. Forsworn Ravagers are most notable in these instances as they often work themselves up into a battle frenzy. However, they lack both training and order, which make them vulnerable to ambushes and assaults.
Following the collapse of the Reman Empire and the beginning of the Interregnum, the Reach seceded from the Empire. Although the natives faced threats throughout this period, overall, throughout the majority of the Second Era, the Reachmen remained in control of the region until Hjalti Early-Beard defeated them with Cuhlecain's and Skyrim's forces.
In the Second Era, when Skyrim was conquered by Tiber Septim, the Reach was also conquered with it. Though under Septim's reign the natives lost their dominance over the Reach, they did not lose the right to their own culture and religion. This was accepted by most Reachmen.
When the Empire went to war with the Aldmeri Dominion, troops from the Reach were called to duty. In the year of 4E 174, radical Reachmen rebelled in the city of Markarth. This revolt quickly gained support among indigenous Bretons, and was successful in driving the Imperial supporting Nords out of their land. Between 4E 174-4E 176, an independent kingdom was declared and rule by the Reachmen was instated. During this time, this kingdom was claimed to be ruled more or less fairly. Both Nords and Bretons were allegedly being treated equally and the only crimes the Forsworn were reported to have committed were against their former Nord landowners that were often accused of being the harshest towards their native workers.
However, when the Great War ended in 4E 175 (culminating in the signature of the White-Gold Concordat between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion), the right to worship Talos was outlawed. Ulfric Stormcloak, a former member of the Imperial Legion, was opposed to this. Desperate to regain control of the Reach, the Jarl of Markarth accepted the aid of a Nord militia led by Ulfric to reclaim the hold from the native Reachmen, in exchange for permitting the free worship of Talos in Markarth. Ulfric led his militia to take back Markarth by force- details of how the battle really ended deviate, with some saying Ulfric forced the Reachmen to flee into the hills. After which, some claim Ulfric or Jarl Hrolfdir exacted cruel revenge against those suspected of being involved in the rebellion, whilst others report that "the leaders of the uprising refused [the Jarl's] offers of peace. They fled into the hills and became the Forsworn".
The aftermath of Ulfric's invasion of Markarth inspired many otherwise non-radical Bretons to change their minds and take up arms against not only Ulfric's men, but also any foreigners. Many, in bitterness, fled into the hilly areas, joining the Forsworn. Driven from Markarth, the Forsworn spread across the Reach fortifying any defensible spot they could find. They become a separatist organization, composed of numerous cells, with the intent of creating fear into the hearts of their occupiers, specifically the Silver-Blood Family.
Thus, the Reachmen have separated into two distinct groups: the Forsworn, who oppose the occupation of the Reach and fight violently against all those whom they perceive to be outsiders and foreign aggressors; and those left behind after their kinsmen fled, who remained neutral to both Nords and other Bretons.
It should be noted that the religion of the Reachmen differs from that of the Bretons of High Rock. Instead of worshiping one main entity, they instead worship multiple types of gods. For example, in some Forsworn camps, Aedra altars can be found with several Forsworn members praying at them. They also are rumored to widely accept Daedric Princes such as Azura and Hircine, the latter due to them mimicking his appearance. However, one custom truly unifies the clan as a whole: the reverence of Hagravens. Within proximity of nearly every Forsworn camp there will be at least one Hagraven. Reachmen on several occasions refer to "the Old Gods", but give no indication of who or what these deities are. In Cidhna Mine, Madanach mentions that the Nords stopped the Reachmen from worshipping their gods following the Markarth Incident of 4E 176. It is unknown if the ban on the worship of the old gods of the Reach was still enforced as of 4E 201.
- Madanach – The Forsworn King
- Borkul the Beast – Madanach's bodyguard
- Nana Ildene
- Nepos the Nose
- Weylin – Forsworn assassin
There are many types of Forsworn, acting as the Dragonborn's enemy.
This type is generally not very tough – individually they are about as tough as a standard Bandit. Usually met when the Dragonborn has a low level. They wield Forsworn Axes and Forsworn Swords, as well as Forsworn Bows. Sometimes, a Forsworn Staff is also used by them. They sport Forsworn Armor as their body cover. One should note that Forsworn can drop notable amounts of Soul Gems, generally spanning up to Greater Soul Gems.
Forsworn Archers are extremely aggressive and quite accurate, being one of the main forces of the Forsworn. They are notable for wielding Forsworn Bows and Forsworn Arrows. They can be found in nearly all Forsworn settlements, especially in the Sundered Towers and Dead Crone Rock.
Forsworn Arrows cause less damage than Iron or Steel, making them the second weakest arrow in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, along with Falmer Arrows, although Forsworn Bows have better base damage than Dwarven Bows.
Forsworn Foragers are aggressive, mostly female members of the Forsworn, notable for populating Broken Tower Redoubt as well as other settlements.
They can wield anything from a Forsworn Bow to an Iron Sword, as well as dual-wielding Forsworn weapons. As with most members of the Forsworn, they are recognizable for their warpaint and minimalistic hide clothing.
Several unnamed Forsworn Looters appear in Markarth when Kaie springs the Dragonborn and Madanach from Cidhna Mine. They can also be found in Deepwood Redoubt and Deepwood Vale. They also hold residence in the abandoned fort, keeping Logrolf the Willful—a priest of Boethiah—prisoner.
Forsworn Pillagers are most commonly encountered at level 25; they normally dual-wield Forsworn swords. They become a challenge in numbers but can be dealt with individually with ease; low level players should be wary if encountered in groups.
They are, along with basic Forsworn, Looters, and Foragers, the only Forsworn that will be non-hostile unless encountered where a leader figure is present. They will say, "stay away," and issue other similar warnings. Much like low level bandits, they rarely use magic, but will use frost spells more often than fire.
The Forsworn Ravager is a member of the Forsworn, made unique by its rarity and strength. The Ravager will tend to dual-wield Forsworn weapons with deadly efficiency, and with unmatched speed.
Forsworn Ravagers will be encountered only at higher levels and have larger amounts of health and attack power than their lesser counterparts.
Forsworn Warlords are very similar to Forsworn Ravagers in the nature of their strength and attack capability. They, like Ravagers, dual wield Forsworn weapons with incredible skill, yet, like the Ravagers, are also incredibly difficult to encounter.
The Forsworn Warlords can only be encountered at higher levels. They are generally considered to be the second strongest Forsworn opponent—the first being Forsworn Briarhearts—and the unofficial first being, of course, the Hagravens for which the Warlords will be found nearby.
- Main article: Forsworn Briarheart
Forsworn Briarhearts are high ranking Forsworn that are usually found in Forsworn encampments. They appear to be partially undead in nature, as the ritual of creating a Briarheart involves cutting out the warrior's heart and replacing it with a briar heart, hence the name.
The melee using Briarhearts can be found dual-wielding axes or swords, and are usually leveled with the Dragonborn. They are also rather quick, and can make short work of their enemies when at close range.
The magic-casting Briarhearts will often begin the battle by activating a cloak spell and conjuring an Atronach. They can cast Ice Storm, Icy Spear, Frost Cloak, and Conjure Frost Atronach or Fireball, Incinerate, Lightning Bolt, Sparks, Flame Cloak, and Conjure Flame Atronach, depending on the preferred element of the Briarheart. These enemies can be very difficult to face at longer ranges, they also run backwards if chased, making them harder to hit with melee weapons.
- The partially-exposed Briarheart can also be targeted with a bow if the Dragonborn is skilled enough. Striking the heart will deal more damage than usual and is easier to score a critical hit on it, though not significant.
- Despite having their hearts removed and replaced with Briar Hearts, werewolves can still consume a heart from one for points toward werewolf perks.
- It is possible to pickpocket their briar heart, which instantly kills them and leaves a gaping hole in their chest, therefore, it is quite similar to a "stealth attack".
- Briarhearts are always male, and always wear the Forsworn Headdress.
Weapons and armorEdit
Forsworn equipment is distinguished by its use of bone, fur, and feathers. It is of a primitive, albeit effective, design and is surprisingly valuable. According to their fighting techniques and equipment, Forsworn prefer to use dual-wielded weapons with unmatched skill, which may be the explanation for the lack of any Forsworn two-handed weapons or shields. Their bows are especially powerful for their weight.
Forsworn armor is statistically identical to leather armor while their weapons are on par with dwarven (albeit one pound heavier). Their arrows, however, are considerably weaker, being weaker than iron arrows
- Armor of the Old Gods (a unique enchanted set that can be obtained by siding with the Forsworn during No One Escapes Cidhna Mine)
- Forsworn Axe
- Forsworn Bow
- Forsworn Sword
- Forsworn Staff (unique version: Staff of Hag's Wrath, Eye of Melka)
- Forsworn Headdress
- Forsworn Armor
- Forsworn Gauntlets
- Forsworn Boots
- Forsworn Arrow
- The Forsworn are known to have ancient Celtic, Pictish or Gaelic names, e.g. Braig which is unlike the Bretons of High Rock who usually have Anglo-Saxon/English, French names or medieval Scottish, Irish or Welsh names.
- Not all Forsworns are Bretons. Madanach's personal bodyguard Borkul the Beast is an Orsimer, and, if joined the faction, the Dragonborn, who can be of any ethnic/race.
- Despite "becoming a Forsworn" after following Madanach in No One Escapes Cidhna Mine, Forsworns anywhere except those found at Druadach Redoubt will still attack the Dragonborn on sight.
- However, if the Dragonborn equipped with full set of Armor of the Old Gods, most Forsworns found in the wilderness will greet them with generic greetings ("Yes?," "Can I help you?," etc.) and they may assist Dragonborn in fights such as against dragons or hostile creatures. Only those in camps and forts will attack Dragonborn on sight.confirmation needed
- They could be considered to be somewhat based upon the original Celtic Britons. The Nords could represent the Anglo-Saxons, who drove the Celts to the outer reaches of Britain.
- The Forsworn may have been influenced by the movie "The 13th Warrior" and the design of the Wendol based on Michael Crichtons "Eaters of the Dead".
- Some forsworn have Old Norse names, e.g. Bendt, Which might be a reference to Danelaw in England could resemble the fact that Reachmen have relations with the Nords.
- They seem to have been greatly influenced by the Picts in Robert E. Howard's world.
- Sometimes the Forsworns will give the Dragonborn letters of inheritence despite still attacking on sight. They can be used to level up the Ebony Blade.