- Dragonborn DLC Main Quest
- Discerning the Transmundane
Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was an industry-shaping RPG that introduced millions of gamers new and old to the long-established world of Tamriel. The success of Skyrim was so great that it has since been re-released countless times, including recently on the Nintendo Switch; in 2018, the untitled sequel was announced to be in development, known only as The Elder Scrolls VI.
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While there are plenty of theories of what the sixth game in the franchise will bring to the table, the sprawling and interconnected world of Skyrim still holds up as a beautiful, immersive world more than a decade after its original release. Some quests stand out for their memorable stories or characters that every Elder Scrolls fan should experience at least once, especially with the sequel on the horizon.
Updated January 19, 2024 by Erik Petrovich: With little to no news about The Elder Scrolls VI in recent years, and after the relatively disappointing release of Starfield, there’s no better time to go back and re-visit some of the best Skyrim quests. To help speed players up in getting to these quests, this guide to Skyrim’s best quests has been updated to include brief descriptions on where to go to trigger the quest, and what prerequisites you must fulfill. Some of the best Skyrim quests begin in multiple locations, or can be triggered in multiple ways, so be sure to read through these new unlock methods to more quickly find their start points.
15 Dragonborn DLC Main Quest
The Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim was the first DLC released for the game. It takes players back to the contested island of Solstheim, an inhospitable place controlled by the Nords until the destruction of Vvardenfell. The Dragonborn DLC features the First Dragonborn, who sees the Last Dragonborn as a false Dovahkiin.
Players are taken both to Solstheim and Apocrypha, the Oblivion plane controlled by the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora. The main questline is rife with new lore and callbacks to the Bloodmoon DLC for Morrowind, including new renditions of iconic songs from the third Elder Scrolls game.
How To Start The Main Quest For The Dragonborn DLC
In order to start the Dragonborn DLC, players must have at least progressed the main questline to the point that they retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. This is easily at least five hours into Skyrim, so be prepared to do a little catchup on a new character. The quest will begin upon returning to Whiterun, when two cultists attack the Dragonborn. Alternatively, you can just head straight for the Windhelm Docks after completing the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.
14 Dawnguard DLC Main Quest
The Dawnguard DLC introduced Fort Dawnguard near Riften, and takes players on one of two main questlines – one with the Dawnguard, and one with the vampiric Volkihar Clan. The DLC adds a completely new skill line for Vampirism for those who join the Volkihar Clan, but the Dawnguard questline is just as interesting.
It’s on-par with the Dragonborn DLC quest, at least in terms of length. While many new locations in the DLC are contained within the larger province of Skyrim, the Soul Cairn and the Forgotten Vale are included as two large new areas for players to sink their teeth into.
How To Start The Main Quest For The Dawnguard DLC
To start the Dawnguard DLC, players must be at least level 10 and must get to Riften. After getting inside the city, hang around the guards for a bit until one of them mentions joining the Dawnguard. After overhearing this dialogue, the quest that begins Dawnguard should automatically be added to your quest log.
13 The Cause
Skyrim Anniversary Edition adds a number of new weapons, armors, items, NPCs, locations, and questlines that expand on Skyrim‘s lore. Some quests, like The Cause, harken back to older Elder Scrolls games, in this case Oblivion.
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The Cause takes players back to the Deadlands as they uncover a plot within Skyrim to re-open an Oblivion Gate. The player discovers a group of Mythic Dawn cultists, and is sent to infiltrate (or destroy) their order within the realm of Mehrunes Dagon. If nothing else, the implications of this questline are… intriguing.
How To Start The Cause
The questline for The Cause can only begin once the Dragonborn reaches Level 46. At this point, a Courier should arrive the next time you take a rest or go to sleep to deliver a letter. Open and read this letter to set out on this Oblivion-themed adventure.
12 Ghosts of the Tribunal
Alongside The Cause, which is a callback questline to Oblivion, comes Ghosts of the Tribunal, a new questline in Solstheim that harkens back to Morrowind (specifically the Tribunal expansion). Hundreds of years after the Living Gods died or disappeared, the Dark Elves have returned back to worshipping the “good” Daedric Princes – well, except for a few.
In Raven Rock players discover a secret Temple to the Tribunal, and are sent on a quest to uncover what happened to Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec after the destruction of Red Mountain. It does a lot more than call back to the most lore-heavy game in the series, though, it also satisfyingly expands on existing lore for the Tribunal to the point that it could be considered canon.
How To Start Ghosts of the Tribunal
Ghosts of the Tribunal can only be accessed after reaching a certain point in the game, but not quite as late as The Cause. When you reach Raven Rock for the first time, on Solstheim as part of the Dragonborn DLC, head straight for the ominous temple and look for a book titled “Heretic’s Dossier: Blacksmith’s Confessional“. Reading this book starts the Ghosts of the Tribunal quest, but to get to Solstheim, players must have at least progressed in the main Skyrim quest a fair ways.
11 Forgotten Seasons
Forgotten Seasons is the last of three Skyrim Anniversary Edition quests players should try before playing The Elder Scrolls VI. While The Cause and Ghosts of the Tribunal serve as callbacks to earlier games in the series, Forgotten Seasons offers a narrative (and gameplay mechanics) that are entirely its own.
Players uncover a Dwemer Ruin beneath an easy-to-miss cave where they discover that a Weather Witch has been gaining power and may eventually threaten all of Skyrim, perhaps even Tamriel entirely. The Weather Witch isn’t what you think it is, though, but to find out you’ll just have to check out the questline. It’s a lot more fun on Survival Mode, as it was built with it in mind.
How To Start Forgotten Seasons
Forgotten Seasons takes place inside of a new cave about mid way between Markarth and Falkreath, in the southwestern hills of Skyrim. Look for Lost Valley Redoubt and head west to find the cave, called Runoff Caverns. If the quest doesn’t automatically get added to your list, read a note found on one of the dead mercenary’s bodies at the front of the cave.
10 The Mind of Madness
The Mind of Madness brings back one of the most iconic characters from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. His quest is complete with absurdisms, deranged conversation, and abstract representations of the troubles plaguing Pelagius’ mind.
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At the end of the quest, the player receives the Wabbajack, a chaotic staff that casts a random spell or effect. This quest takes place in Solitude and can be started by talking to a homeless man named Dervenin.
How To Start The Mind of Madness
To start the quest The Mind of Madness, you must get to Solitude, and either look for a beggar named Dervenin, typically found around the Bard’s College on the far end of the city, or head to the Winking Skeever and ask about rumors. Either way, this will point players towards a wing of the Blue Palace nearby, where the quest will properly begin.
9 Blood On The Ice
Blood on the Ice is a murder mystery quest where the player takes the role of inspector. The player travels around Windhelm investigating a series of grisly murders by interrogating townsfolk and guards, eventually putting the pieces together to find the killer.
The quest is a perfect example of what’s possible in an open-ended RPG such as Skyrim. There was a very similar quest in Oblivion, and if the trend continues players can perhaps anticipate another murder mystery in the sixth installment.
How To Start Blood On The Ice
To start the Blood On The Ice quest, head to Windhelm, and go to the left side from the entrance to reach the graveyard. Here, there’s a chance for a group of Guards to be inspecting a crime scene. If the Guards don’t spawn, try exiting and re-entering the city a few times. The quest should automatically be added to your quest log upon getting close to the murder scene.
8 A Night To Remember
A Night to Remember is Skyrim‘s love letter to The Hangover franchise. The player has a chance to find a man called Sam Guevenne in any tavern who will initiate a drinking contest. After waking up in the Temple of Dibella in Markarth, it’s up to the player to figure out what happened and retrace their steps.
The quest has a lot of hilarious moments and subtle details, such as the giant’s toe that somehow winds up in the Temple and being accused of stealing goats. Ironically enough, it is a quest that’s hard to forget.
How To Start A Night To Remember
To start A Night To Remember, first head to Markarth. Toward the back of the city players will find the Silver-Blood Inn, which is home to Sam Guevenne. Just like Blood On The Ice, this quest giver (and thus the quest) may not spawn upon entering the inn, so re-enter a few times until Sam appears. Challenge him to a drinking contest to begin the quest.
7 The Wolf Queen Awakened
The Wolf Queen Awakened is the culmination of a storyline in The Elder Scrolls franchise going back to Morrowind. The Wolf Queen gathers power underneath Solitude and it’s up to the player to stop her. It might sound a bit “vanilla” – go to this place, and kill this person – however it is anything but mundane.
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The dungeon is uniquely challenging, the story and ambiance are immersive, and the Wolf Queen’s narrative arc finally comes to a conclusion after many real-life years of anticipation. This quest starts in Solitude as early as level 10 and requires completion of the quest The Boy Who Cried Wolf beforehand.
How To Start The Wolf Queen Awakened
To start the quest for The Wolf Queen Awakened, head to solitude, specifically to the Winking Skeever. Ask the innkeeper about rumors, which should eventually reveal that a resident of Solitude was worried about strange and dangerous things happening in Wolfskull Cave, which begins the questline.
6 Lost To The Ages
Lost to the Ages is a quest that rewards the player with a wholly unique (and somewhat broken) reward for completion – the Aetherial Crown. The quest takes the player through a Dwemer-infested ruin to find the Aetherium Forge and finish the life’s work of Katria, a ghost who helps the player find their way through Arkngthamz.
While the crown is not the only reward the player can choose from, it is by far the best. It allows the player to retain the benefits of the last used standing stone, allowing the use of two standing stones at the same time.
How To Start Lost To The Ages
There are two methods to start the Lost To The Ages questline. The first, and easiest, way is to look out for a book called The Aetherium Wars. The Aetherium Wars can be found in a huge number of locations, so keep an eye out while adventuring. Read this book to be directed to Arkngthamz. Alternatively, you can just head straight to Arkngthamz itself, as the Dwemer ruin can be found in the southwestern mountains of Skyrim. Either way, players must have the Dawnguard DLC to unlock this quest.
5 Beyond Death
Beyond Death is one of the final quests in the Dawnguard expansion, and it doesn’t matter which faction the player joins. It introduces the player to the Soul Cairn, where souls bound to black soul gems are kept for all eternity. It’s an eerie, incredibly distinct area that might make an enchanter feel uneasy about the process of making soul gems.
The player must either be a vampire or have their soul partially trapped to enter the Soul Cairn, making the final fight against a dragon much more difficult as mana, health, and power are reduced.
How To Start Beyond Death
To start the Beyond Death questline, players must have made it far enough through the Dawnguard expansion to reach the Soul Cairn, which requires at least Level 13 to access. The quest should automatically be added to your journal once inside the Soul Cairn.
4 Discerning the Transmundane
Discerning the Transmundane introduces the player to Blackreach, an iridescent and mushroomy underworld that connects three Dwemer cities. While the player can access Blackreach through the main quest, this is an alternative for those who would rather avoid the main quest at all costs.
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It’s also another Daedric Prince quest, as Hermaeus Mora intervenes with Nirn and asks the player to follow them. By the end of the questline, which asks players to collect blood from all the races of Tamriel, the Dragonborn will open up a cube and find an incredibly powerful Daedric artifact inside.
How To Start Discerning the Transmundane
Discerning the Transmundane begins once players have read the book Ruminations On The Elder Scrolls, which directs them to Septimus Signus. Alternatively, you can speak with Septimus Signus directly in his makeshift home north of the College of Winterhold on a remote, icy island to start this quest.
3 House of Horrors
House of Horrors is yet another Daedric Prince quest that takes place in an abandoned house in Markarth. The player is tasked with removing the presence of a Daedra from the house without knowing that Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination, is the one who has taken residence.
The quest poses moral questions to the player, and it’s an excuse to side with one of the antagonists of The Elder Scrolls franchise. Who doesn’t love a bad boy antihero, after all?
How To Start The House of Horrors
The House of Horrors is a simple quest to start as players just need to head to Markarth and look for the abandoned house. Head into the city and up a gently sloping alley to see the abandoned house on the right-hand side. Go inside to begin the House of Horrors.
2 Ill Met By Moonlight
Ill Met by Moonlight is a quest in Falkreath that tasks the player with helping a werewolf to gain Hircine’s favor. As another quest involving a Daedric Prince (they tend to be memorable), the player received a ring that can’t be unequipped that randomly turns the player into a werewolf.
It’s another quest that poses a moral question to the player – to kill or not to kill – and Hircine offers rewards for completion based on the decisions made. It’s one to pick up if being a werewolf any time of day sounds fun.
How To Start Ill Met By Moonlight
In Falkreath, the Dragonborn will either hear a rumor about, or directly come into contact with, a father grieving his son. Simply head to Falkreath and talk to this man to begin Ill Met By Moonlight and go speak with the man in jail.
1 Stones of Barenziah
Ah yes, the stones of Barenziah, one of the most tedious, lengthy, and ultimately mind-numbing quests in Skyrim. It tasks the player with finding 24 unusual gems across Skyrim, and while that might sound easy, it’s much, much more annoying than one might think.
So why is it on this list? Ultimately, bragging rights. It’s a quest very few have completed, and it’s a fun way to re-explore the world of Skyrim before The Elder Scrolls VI is released. Plus, there are plenty of mods that make the process of tracking down the gems much, much easier.
How To Start The Stones of Barenziah
The Stones of Barenziah begins when players find their first Unusual Gem. Several of these can be found throughout the main quest’s dungeons and areas, and each one appears as a purple jewel embedded into a small golden case – it should be pretty noticeable from far off. If you’re having trouble finding them, install a mod that locates the stones precisely.
- November 11, 2011
- M for Mature: Use of Alcohol, Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes