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 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 as well. This diversity encouraged the development 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 austrosized, they still view the entirity 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 Briarhearts. The ritual can be witnessed at Bard's Leap Summit.
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 conquered all of Tamriel. 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 fairly, both Nords and Bretons being treated equally, though the truth of these claims is questionable..
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 outlowed. Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Windhelm and a former member of the Imperial Legion, was opposed to this. Desperate to regain control of the Reach, the Empire 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 Stormcloaks to brutally take back Markarth, forcing the Reachmen to flee into the hills and exacting cruel revenge against those suspected of being involved in the rebellion. These Reachmen would eventually become 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.
- Forsworn Archer
- Forsworn Forager
- Forsworn Looter
- Forsworn Pillager
- Forsworn Ravager
- Forsworn Shaman
- Forsworn Warlord
- Forsworn Briarheart
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.
- 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 mordern-day 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.
- 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 Wendo based on Michael Crichtons "Eaters of the Dead".
- Some forsworn have Danish names, e.g. Bendt, Which is a clear reference to the Danish language in Scotland known as Scots.
- They seem to have been greatly influenced by the Picts in Robert E. Howard's world.
- Like real world Scotland and Ireland, Reachmen have a high rate of red hair, as opposed to the darker hair of their High Rock brethren.