Ralof is a Nord member of the Stormcloak Rebellion. During the opening sequence in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, he is a prisoner being escorted to his execution along with Ulfric Stormcloak, Lokir, and the Dragonborn. When being called to line for execution, the Imperial Soldier, Hadvar, calls for "Ralof of Riverwood."
He has a sister named Gerdur who runs the mill with her husband Hod in the village of Riverwood. Together, they own and operate the mill, which is focal to Riverwood's success. Because of this, they are considered the town's leaders.
During the cart ride into Helgen during the opening cut-scene, Ralof mentions "being sweet on a girl" from there in the past, before the Civil War. He also reminisces about Vilod's mead with juniper berry mixed in, which can be found should the Dragonborn return to Helgen at a later date.
It is likely that Hadvar and Ralof knew each other as children. They are from the same small village, and their interactions during "Unbound" seem to imply they are at least familiar with each other.
After the Dragonborn becomes settled in Riverwood, with Hod and Gerdur's house as a temporary place of stay, Ralof can be spoken to, further discussing subjects, such as the dragon that attacked, directions to Whiterun, and the Stormcloaks along with Ulfric Stormcloak. By further discussing the Stormcloaks, the Dragonborn has the option of being convinced to join the Stormcloaks, or considering the subject longer.
A group of prisoners are being taken to Helgen. Upon arriving, guards begin calling the names of suspected Stormcloaks with the intent of executing them. However, Alduin attacks Helgen, and Ralof is able to escape. After reaching shelter, Ralof frees the Dragonborn from their bindings and asks for help against the Imperial soldiers. Later, the Dragonborn has the opportunity to rejoin Ralof and escape from Helgen.
If the Dragonborn chooses to side with the Stormcloaks during the civil war, Ralof is promoted to the rank of Captain and assists the Dragonborn in various missions for the Stormcloaks. Throughout these missions, Ralof uses a two-handed Steel Warhammer.
- Ralof is the first character in the game to speak to the Dragonborn prisoner. He could also be considered to be the first character seen in-game, if the back of the head of the Legion soldier that drives the carriage is not counted.
- After the completion of the main quest, Ralof can be found at the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood. He carries an Iron Warhammer.
- Because Ralof is flagged as essential during "Unbound", skills can be practiced on him without him turning hostile or attacking. This makes him great for fast leveling.
- As with Hadvar and Solitude, it is impossible for Ralof to get to Windhelm ahead of the Dragonborn.
- "Ha! I knew you'd join up! Great news! We'll take back Skyrim together, eh?
- "As fearless in death as he was in life."
- "I don't think Galmar even knows my name. Probably because I'm not the 'Dragonborn'."
- "Ever wonder if maybe we should call a truce with the Imperials, join forces for a while, and take care of some dragons?"
- "Have you always been that ugly?"
- "Empire loves their damn lists."
- "I hate those damn things. Too many eyes, you know?" (about Frostbite Spiders)
- "I don't know where we're going, but Sovngarde awaits."
- "Hey, what village are you from horse thief?"
- "All right, get that armor on and give that axe a few swings."
- "It has been an honor, Jarl Ulfric!"
- "A Nord's last thoughts should be of home."
- "Look at him, General Tullius the Military Governor. And it looks like the Thalmor are with him. Damn elves. I bet they had something to do with this."
- "This is Helgen. I used to be sweet on a girl from here. I wonder if Vilod is still making that mead with juniper berries mixed in."
- "Funny, when I was a boy, Imperial walls and towers used to make me feel so safe."
- "Let's go. Shouldn't keep the gods waiting for us."
- "Face your death with some courage, thief."
Dialogue with Hadvar
If Hadvar and Ralof are near each other they will engage in dialogue. The dialog itself is what each answers when the Dragonborn asks questions before telling them the decision to join their cause.
- Hadvar: "How'd you end up here?"
- Ralof: "My cousin disappeared one night. Some say the Thalmor grabbed him. It wasn't long before I found myself under Ulfric's banner."
- Hadvar: "So why'd you join the Stormcloaks?"
- Ralof: "I'm a true Nord. Simple as that."
- Ralof: "So why did you join the Legion?"
- Hadvar: "My father was a Legionnaire, and his before him. I guess I never considered doing anything else."