The Stormcloaks believe Skyrim should secede from what they feel is a crumbling Empire. This stance came about due to the aftermath of the Great War and the imposition of the White-Gold Concordat by the Aldmeri Dominion. The Stormcloaks consider the Empire as just a puppet of the Thalmor because the Empire surrendered during the Great War and accepted the Elves' terms of surrender. These terms ban the worship of Talos, which most do not support. They believe that if they gain independence, times will be hard, but eventually The Kingdom of Skyrim will push through into a new age.
Amongst the terms of the Concordat was the outlawing of the worship of Talos, giving free rein to the Thalmor to move throughout the Empire and hunt down any worshipers of this outlawed religion. This angered many Nords, as Talos was highly revered among them and was considered to be their greatest leader, and that banning his worship was blasphemous.
The Markarth Incident
The Markarth Incident is considered to be the initial conception of the Stormcloak rebellion. In 4E 176, Ulfric Stormcloak and his army retook the city of Markarth in the name of the Empire from Forsworn invaders, under the agreement from the Empire that Talos worship would be permitted. However, shortly after retaking Markarth, the Empire rescinded upon the agreement due to pressure from the Aldmeri Dominion. Thus, Ulfric and his militia were arrested and incarcerated. During Ulfric's imprisonment, his father, the Jarl of Windhelm, died, and Ulfric was forced to deliver the eulogy by a letter he had smuggled out of prison. Upon his release, he returned to Windhelm, took up duties as Jarl, and began his rebellion in earnest.
High King Torygg
The event that triggered rebellion across Skyrim was the death of High King Torygg by Ulfric Stormcloak in 4E 201. After years of brewing resentment for what he believed was betrayal by the Empire, Ulfric, now Jarl of Eastmarch, challenged Torygg to a duel in order to take the throne.
Ulfric and his supporters claimed it was a formal duel in the "Old Nord Way". Many others in Skyrim, such as General Tullius, called it murder. After Torygg's death, Ulfric fled to Windhelm and Skyrim was plunged into civil war. Using a combination of the outlawing of Talos worship and the Nords' strong sense of nationalism along with their mistrust of the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, Ulfric successfully recruited a great many of Skyrim's populace to the rebellion. All of the hold governments of the four Old Holds declared for Ulfric, as well as many wanderers, workers, sellswords, warriors, soldiers and former soldiers.
Leadership and opposition
The rebellion is led by Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Eastmarch. His second in command is Galmar Stone-Fist. They are opposed by the Imperial Legion, which is led by commander of the 4th legion, General Tullius.
Stormcloak soldiers follow mostly hit-and-run tactics to overwhelm the larger Imperial armies. They are mostly non-regimental, not relying entirely on rank as the Imperial Army does; instead relying on the talent of the powerful Nord warriors in their midst to achieve their goals. The Stormcloaks theoretically have weaker defensive, but stronger offensive capabilities than the Legion; their use of armor is lighter and thus not as tough, but the Stormcloaks use a wider variety of weapons to make up for this.
Ralof invites the Dragonborn to join the Stormcloaks if he or she followed him through Helgen Keep during Alduin's destruction of the settlement during the quest Unbound. Likewise, randomly encountered Stormcloak Soldiers might have also attempted to recruit the Dragonborn to their cause. Farmers met on their way to Windhelm to join with Ulfric can also start the process.
To become a Stormcloak, the Dragonborn must venture to Windhelm, seat of Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak. There, his second-in-command, Galmar Stone-Fist, tests the Dragonborn to ensure both battle-worthiness and devotion to the Stormcloak cause. He asks the Dragonborn to travel to an island northeast of the College of Winterhold, where The Serpent Stone is located, and slay an Ice Wraith. After doing so, the Dragonborn returns, where it is revealed that slaying the Wraith was as much a test of prowess in battle as it was a test of loyalty, because finding the island and killing an Ice Wraith residing on it is dangerous and difficult. As a new member, the Dragonborn receives the customary Stormcloak Armor. Once the Dragonborn has joined the Stormcloaks, only one more opportunity remains to switch sides, leaving the Stormcloaks for the Legion. When the Jagged Crown has been acquired, the Dragonborn can choose to travel to Solitude where they can give the crown to General Tullius instead. Tullius will then recognize them as an Imperial Soldier and immediately orders them to deliver an important message to Whiterun, while skipping the formalities of making the Dragonborn swear the Imperial Oath.
All new initiates to the Stormcloaks must recite the Oath:
"I do swear my blood and
honor to the service of Ulfric Stormcloak
Jarl of Windhelm and true High King of Skyrim.
As Talos is my witness, may this oath bind me
to death and beyond...
...even to my lord as to my fellow brothers
and sisters in arms.
All hail the Stormcloaks, the true sons
and daughters of Skyrim!"
There are 5 ranks that can be earned if the Stormcloaks are joined during the Civil War questline. Progress in rank occurs at the completion of key battles during the war.
- Unblooded - complete Joining the Stormcloaks
- Ice-Veins - complete Battle for Whiterun
- Bone-Breaker - complete Rescue from Fort Neugrad
- Snow-Hammer - complete The Battle for Fort Sungard
- Stormblade - complete The Battle for Fort Snowhawk
- Battle-Maiden - the Dragonborn cannot achieve this rank
Stormcloak camps are located in the wilderness within each hold throughout Skyrim, with the exception of Eastmarch hold. These serve as outposts for the Stormcloaks and are instrumental in the ongoing civil war.
They are normally commanded by a Stormcloak Officer who can be found in his tent, and also have a Stormcloak Quartermaster working at a forge who will also serve as a merchant. The following is a list of every Stormcloak camp in Skyrim:
- Falkreath Stormcloak Camp
- Haafingar Stormcloak Camp
- Hjaalmarch Stormcloak Camp
- Pale Stormcloak Camp
- Reach Stormcloak Camp
- Rift Stormcloak Camp
- Whiterun Stormcloak Camp
- Winterhold Stormcloak Camp
Post Civil War
After the conclusion of the civil war in favor of the Stormcloaks, the player will be told there are still Imperial camps out there to destroy. However, when visiting said camps, the commanders will still be flagged as essential and cannot be killed. Furthermore the Imperial soldiers at these camps will eventually respawn if killed. Additionally, citizens will still mention the war. And although the Stormcloaks have won the war, Thalmor and Imperial soldiers can be found with Stormcloak prisoners during random encounters.
A number of notable changes occur after completing the Stormcloak campaign:
- Vignar Gray-Mane becomes Jarl of Whiterun.
- Assuming that the Dragonborn gave Dawnstar and Riften to the Imperials in the negotiations, Skald the Elder is reinstalled as Jarl of Dawnstar, and Laila Law-Giver is reinstalled as Jarl of Riften.
- Stormcloak soldiers replace the guards in all the previously-Imperial-controlled cities in Skyrim; Whiterun, Markarth, Falkreath, Morthal, and Solitude.
- Jarls who have been removed from their throne due to the Stormcloaks take over are all kept down in the cellar of the Blue Palace in Solitude along with their housecarls, stewards, and a few other notable persons who support the Imperial Legion. Elisif the Fair, an Imperial supporter, remains a Jarl.
- Forts scattered around Skyrim will become occupied by Stormcloak Soldiers, for example Fort Greymoor.
- Stormcloak Soldiers aid the Dragonborn in battle, if they are attacked by a foe. However, they do not lend assistance if the Dragonborn initiated the fight.
- Though never directly stated, Skyrim is now its own sovereign country in Tamriel, leaving the Empire comprising only of Cyrodiil and High Rock. Windhelm is considered the capital.
- Ulfric Stormcloak - The leader of the Stormcloaks, Jarl of Windhelm.
- Galmar Stone-Fist - Ulfric's housecarl and second in command of the rebellion.
- Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced - The Stormcloak commander in Eastmarch.
- Kai Wet-Pommel - The Stormcloak commander in Winterhold.
- Gonnar Oath-Giver - The Stormcloak commander in The Rift.
- Frorkmar Banner-Torn - The Stormcloak commander in The Pale.
- Hjornskar Head-Smasher - The Stormcloak commander in Whiterun Hold.
- Thorygg Sun-Killer - The Stormcloak commander in Falkreath Hold.
- Kottir Red-Shoal - The Stormcloak commander in The Reach.
- Arrald Frozen-Heart - The Stormcloak commander in Hjaalmarch.
- Istar Cairn-Breaker - The Stormcloak commander in Haafingar.
- Ralof - A member of the Stormcloaks who was captured alongside the Dragonborn and sent to Helgen to be executed.
- Gunjar - A member of the Stormcloaks whose body is found in the Helgen Keep.
- Thorald Gray-Mane - The Gray-Mane's son who was captured and tortured by the Thalmor.
- Angrenor Once-Honored - Used to be a Stormcloak soldier, but then he took a sword through the chest.
- Lilija - The deceased daughter of Nura Snow-Shod. She served as a healer or "Battle Maiden".
- Joining the Stormcloaks
- The Jagged Crown
- Message to Whiterun
- Battle for Whiterun
- Liberation of Skyrim
Achievements and trophies
|Join the Stormcloaks or the Imperial Legion|
|Capture Fort Sungard or Fort Greenwall|
|Hero of Skyrim||30|
|Capture Solitude or Windhelm|