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 Info for First-Time Players
- You may wish to see the Skyrim main article for information such as using controls.
- You may also wish to take a look at our Guide for First-Time Players.
- The journal, which also functions as a convenient way to pause the game, can be activated as soon as the title SKYRIM fades from the screen: [ Esc or J] [/ Start].
- Its functionality is initially limited to: pause the game, change settings, list controls, start new game, help, and quit.
- Load becomes available upon disembarking from the cart after it stops, and save very shortly thereafter.
- The detailed walkthrough below contains much of the information presented on-screen and from the in-game tutorial.
- Welcome to Skyrim!
 Quick Walkthrough
- Observe what you can about Skyrim province and your situation.
- Create your character.
- Escape the executioner's block.
- Make your way to Helgen Keep to escape a dragon attack.
- Choose Ralof, a Stormcloak rebel, or Hadvar, an Imperial soldier to escort you through the keep.
- Begin to equip yourself by opening containers or looting bodies.
- Escape from Helgen and enter Skyrim a free person.
 Detailed Walkthrough
 A Rude Awakening
You awaken to find yourself still bound at the wrists and under guard in Imperial custody as you bump your way down a winding mountain road in a horse-drawn cart, part of a prisoner caravan.
A Civil War rages across the province of Skyrim, for which the Stormcloak rebels fight the Imperial Legion to wrest from the Empire of Tamriel. Your fellow prisoners include Ralof, a rebel fighter sitting directly across from you; to the right of Ralof, a horse thief named Lokir; and the man next to you, who is gagged as well as bound. As will become clear from the conversation, the latter is Ulfric Stormcloak, leader of the Stormcloak Rebellion, and regarded by Stormcloak rebels as "the true High King" of Skyrim.
The procession will be led by General Tullius, military governor of Skyrim for the Empire. He is followed by a carriage containing rebels wearing Stormcloak armor. Your carriage follows that, and a solitary mounted guard will bring up the rear.
The first person to speak to you will be Ralof. After observing that you're awake, he implies that you must be innocent, having been mistakenly arrested as a Stormcloak rebel for being in the wrong place at the wrong time as you crossed the border into Skyrim.
When the conversation reveals Ulfric's identity, Lokir will begin to panic, realizing that your fate as a group is likely a grim one. You will next reach the well-fortified town of Helgen in Falkreath Hold, not far from Skyrim's southern border. At the time of your arrival, Falkreath's jarl is loyal to the Empire, and the hold is controlled by the Imperial Legion—though Stormcloak rebels have a presence in the area. As Helgen's gate swings open to admit you, a guard there will seem to confirm Lokir's fears, informing the general that the executioner ("the headsman") is ready.
The general will ride off to the right and stand near an Imperial captain and some Thalmor, members of a militant political group that exists in uneasy alliance with the Empire, and which is authorized to enforce laws against the worship of Talos.
The rest of the convoy will drive through the village, then draw to a stop in a central area. The Imperial captain will order you and the other prisoners taken off the carts, then tell you to proceed to the execution block as your name is called. Hadvar, an Imperial soldier, will first call Ulfric Stormcloak, identifing him as the Jarl of Windhelm. Ralof is next. Both men will walk toward the block. When Lokir is called, he will try to flee and the captain will have him shot by an archer. Hadvar will then instruct you to step forward.
 Who Are You?
When Hadvar asks for your identity, you'll need to take a moment to decide.
Game: (Create and name your character.)
Once you communicate your identity to him, Hadvar will make a comment based on your race.
 Keep Your Head
Hadvar will express hesitation when he notes that your name is not on the list of those to be executed. The captain, however, is not concerned with such details and will order your death. You will then follow her to the execution block area.
General Tullius will charge Ulfric with using "the Voice" to kill the king and attempting to usurp the throne. He will further blame Ulfric for instigating the current war and tell him that the Empire will now "put you down and restore the peace."
At that moment, a distant but awesome noise will echo across the sky. Hadvar will ask, "What was that?" But the general will dismiss it as nothing and order that the executions begin.
A priestess of Arkay, god of burials and funeral rituals, will begin to administer the condemned your last rites, but as soon as she mentions the Eight Divines, the first Stormcloak to be executed will defiantly interrupt her, invoking the name of Talos (the outlawed Ninth Divine), walking to the execution block, and insisting on getting it over with—a wish that is promptly granted.
When the captain identifies you as being next, the ominous sound will again roar through the mountains, this time closer. Most of the assembly will turn their heads skyward as Hadvar remarks, "There it is again." The captain will then forcefully reiterate, "I said, 'Next prisoner.'" Following Hadvar's direction, you will lay your head on the execution block. From that perspective, you have a view of the headsman and some blue sky above.
 Return of the World-Eater
Just as the headsman will have raised his axe above your neck, the dragon will descend onto the nearby tower with a crash, generating a shockwave that will knock the headsman to the ground. Alduin will then attack with a dragon shout, again knocking down the headsman as he rises back to his feet.
When the dragon blasts the area with a third shout, you will nearly lose consciousness from the impact.
As you are regaining your senses, Ralof will urge you to your feet to escape, saying that the gods may not provide another chance such as this incredible disruption.
When you are able to stand, you'll be able to move your feet freely.
On-Screen: STARTED: UNBOUND (Name of quest).
On-Screen: Make your way to the Keep (Current quest objective).
- Notes: You can use [ Esc/J] [ / Start] to open your journal. At this point, you can begin to use all of the movement controls, including sneak and sprint, although you are apparently expected to use only walk/run and look. Your compass, and a crosshair for targeting enemies and activating/using objects will appear on-screen. An objective marker will appear both on your compass and above Ralof's head, indicating that you should move to his location.
 Make Your Way to the Keep
If you are able to get your bearings soon enough, you can follow right behind Ralof. If it takes you a little time, Ralof will go into a taller tower to your south-southwest and call to you: "In here. This way! Come on!" Walk toward him as fireballs rain down from the sky and boulders fly off in all directions from the explosions. Despite the apparent danger, you will have no trouble getting into the tower unless you loiter in unsheltered areas for an extended time.
Enter the building far enough so that the door can close itself behind you. Inside, you'll see some injured Stormcloaks and another tending to them. Stepping onto the carpet in the middle of the small room and turning back around toward the door will position you to observe the conversation that will follow. You'll find Ulfric Stormcloak waiting there. A loyal Stormcloak, Ralof will refer to him by his title, "Jarl Ulfric" and, trying to assimilate what's happening, will ask him if "the legends are true".
Ulfric will reply that "legends don't burn down villages."
Both Ralof and Ulfric will urge you to hurry, "up through the tower". Follow Ralof up the staircase. When a Stormcloak soldier up ahead tells you that some rocks need to be moved out of the way, the wall to your right (southeast) will be blown in by Alduin. He will then attack through the hole with a Fire Breath shout. Though you cannot perceive it as such, Alduin will shout "Toor...Shul!" as transliterated from the Dragon language, meaning "Inferno...Sun". This will knock Ralof off the stairs, but he will climb back up to you. The gods may indeed be providing you some extra protection, at least for now: You will not be hurt by the shout, even if you don't heed Ralof's warning to step back. Eventually, however, once you venture outside of Helgen, encounters with dragons will prove much more dangerous.
When Alduin flies off, Ralof will urge you to jump out the hole just created and down into a partially destroyed inn below, telling you that they will follow as soon as they can and meet you on the other side. Your target landing spot will be indicated by your objective marker. Move to the ledge and jump while continuing to move forward.
On landing, you may hear yourself grunt in pain, but you won't be significantly hurt. Walk eastward through the inn and drop down through the hole in the floor. Your objective marker will indicate the next waypoint to Helgen Keep. That waypoint will be Hadvar, the Imperial soldier you just saw near the execution block. He will be outside the door from the inn, and to your left (northeast), trying to help some citizens.
Hadvar will be trying to coax a young boy, Haming, away from an open area where his father, Torolf, lies injured in the road. As the boy returns toward Hadvar, Alduin will land to the northeast and send a Fire Breath shout toward Hadvar and the boy, killing Torolf. Hadvar will take the boy to safety back near the inn with another man, Gunnar Stone-Eye and leave the boy in his care. When he sees you, Hadvar will address you as "prisoner" and tell you to follow him if you want to stay alive.
Follow Hadvar as he proceeds northeasterly across the area where Alduin just killed Torolf. Hadvar's purpose at this point is to "Find General Tullius and assist in the defense" of Helgen. Passing between a building and a stone wall, Hadvar will advise you to stay near the wall. Alduin will then land on top of the wall and direct a Fire Breath shout ahead of you and to the right, around the corner.
Once Alduin takes flight again, follow Hadvar up the steps and then to the left (northward) through the gap in the wall. Inside the ruined building, jog to the left, then turn right (eastward). You will exit into an open area where a number of Imperial mages, soldiers, and General Tullius will be counter-attacking Alduin with arrows and fireballs.
When Hadvar approaches Tullius, the general will order him into the keep, announcing a retreat. Telling you to stay close to him, Hadvar will head down the road to the north, and then follow it around to the left (west).
- Note:Hadvar can be taken seriously when he tells you to stay close to him. If you tag fairly close behind him at this point, Alduin will not harm you. If you choose to lag behind or explore the area, however, you will do so at your own considerable risk. Eventually, Alduin's shouts may hit you between this point and entering the keep. He can use the Fire Breath shout and the less serious Unrelenting Force shout. If you are hit with the former, it may or not kill you. The latter will violently shove you or may send you flying for a short distance. Once you reach the exterior of the keep, if you remain outside for an extended period, Alduin may land and attack with a shout at close quarters or physically with his jaws—an attack that will be fatal.
After running under an archway, Hadvar will cross paths with Ralof just outside the keep. The two enemies will draw their weapons and prepare to fight before realizing that getting into the keep—and away from the dragon—is a higher priority.
As Hadvar and Ralof rush to two different but nearby entrances to the keep, and as both call to you to follow them, your journal will update to show the objective of making your way to the keep as completed, and the next objective will appear, presenting you with a choice.
 Unsafe Haven
- Note: After entering the Keep, depending on whether you chose to enter with Hadvar or Ralof, the part of the interior map which you emerge in and the initial events that occur will differ slightly.
If you choose Ralof, you will discover the body of a dead Stormcloak, Gunjar, in a circular room immediately after entering the keep. After freeing you from your bindings, Ralof will instruct you to recover the gear on Gunjar's body for your own use. While you equip yourself, Ralof will examine the doors. He will discover one door is locked, and the other can't be opened from the side you're on. Luckily, the captain and an Imperial soldier, will come through and open the door secured from the other side. Once they open the door, you will be forced to kill them to recover the key to the other gate from their bodies. Don't forget to loot the barracks they came from.
If you choose Hadvar, you will enter the keep to find yourself in the barracks room where Hadvar will cut your bonds and instruct you to loot the room for some equipment. Once you have acquired some gear from the marked chest, he will open a gate and you will follow him down a path to the circular room containing Gunjar's body. Here you will face two hostile Stormcloaks. Once they are defeated, follow Hadvar onward through the opposite door.
- From here onward the physical path taken by both Hadvar and Ralof is identical. Only the type of enemies and the accompanying dialogue is different: for Hadvar's path you face Stormcloaks, for Ralof's path you face Imperial soldiers.
Going through the door onto the now opened-up path, the dragon's activities above will cause the ceiling to fall, diverting you through a door on your left, where you will discover a store room with two Imperial soldiers/Stormcloaks gathering supplies. After defeating the enemies, Hadvar or Ralof will advise you to go through the barrels for any valuables they may contain.
Continuing down, you will arrive at an interrogation room, where a battle between an Imperial torturer, his assistant, and some Stormcloak soldiers is taking place, prompting you to fight with whichever enemies your escort is not aligned with. If you are with Hadvar, he has a conversation with the torturer, trying to convince him to come; his attempts are futile, however, as only the assistant torturer follows. If you're with Ralof, he has a quick conversation with the surviving Stormcloaks, who will both choose to join your party. Hadvar/Ralof will then point to a cage with a dead mage and several valuables inside it (including robes, and mages hood and a Sparks spell tome), offering you several lockpicks, and suggesting you pick the lock to get to the items. If you are not near Hadvar/Ralof when he offers you the picks, you will not get them, but there are a couple of picks in the room in the corner that also contains an iron shield and iron mace, as well as four picks inside a knapsack laying on a small table near the cells. The table also contains the Book of the Dragonborn. There are two empty, locked cells on either side of the dead mage, and two other locked cells down the hall.
Continue down the corridor past some prison cells which can be unlocked for some minor loot, and through another prison room, and you will eventually enter a natural cave, filled with either Imperial soldiers guarding it for General Tullius, or some lost Stormcloaks. There is an oil spill that can be set alight to damage the enemies on the upper level using the Flames spell.
After killing them, you will find a raised drawbridge obstructing your path. A lever can be used to lower the bridge and shortly after you cross it, the passage behind you will be destroyed by falling rubble. After some further exploring, you will discover a frostbite spider nest. Once you defeat the spiders, head through a passage leading deeper into the caverns. Next, near an underground stream, you will encounter a resting bear. Ralof/Hadvar will advise you to sneak past it, but he will give you a bow and some arrows in case you choose to ambush it. Fighting the bear is not too difficult with Hadvar/Ralof helping you. Afterwards, follow Hadvar/Ralof and exit the cave through a crevice in the rock. Leaving the dungeon, you'll see the dragon flying off into the distance, towards the north, completing the quest.
One achievement is unlocked when you complete this quest:
- For all intents and purposes, choosing either to side with Hadvar or Ralof doesn't matter, as the player isn't locked out of any quest chain. The only difference between the two paths is the availability of certain loot types and the presence of certain enemies. At the end, the player will still have the option of choosing to side with the Empire or the Stormcloaks.
- Both Hadvar and Ralof are essential NPCs at this point, so they cannot die, and will never turn hostile until the Unbound quest is finished. This means you can use them to train many of your abilities, without risk of them attacking you or dying.
- Special Loot and Early Equipment Choices:
- A good selection of light armor and one-handed weapons can be found on either path, as most of the Stormcloaks and Legionnaires wear light armor, and there are several one-handed weapons stored in the keep.
- Players who wish to level the Heavy Armor skill from the very start of the game may wish to follow Ralof into the keep, as the first enemy you face at his side is the Imperial Captain who was present at the execution. Upon killing her in the keep, you can immediately loot a full set of heavy Imperial armor from her corpse. On Hadvar's path, the only Heavy Armor to be found is an iron helmet and iron shield, as all the Stormcloaks you face wear light armor.
- For players who wish to level the Two-handed skill from the start of the game, some of the Stormcloaks carry greatswords, battleaxes, or warhammers.
- Mages will want to make sure they open the locked cage in the interrogation room as it contains basic enchanted mage clothing and a spell tome of Sparks.
- In addition, there are a number of alchemy ingredients to find in the keep's storehouse and the caverns.
- After you exit the cave with Hadvar or Ralof, Alduin may fly over the hills to the southeast rather than over Riverwood and Bleak Falls Barrow.
- It should be noted that this quest takes place on the 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201. This is the ONLY quest that has a specific date and time tied to it, as the other quests can be done in any order at any time.
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lots of very unlikely bugs here; needs removal of the most ridiculous ones, testing of the believable ones
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- You might encounter bugs in the quest script where the game will stop progressing. These errors may occur even after a game restart, and possible fixes are a complete re-installation of the game or installing DXSETUP.exe from skyrim\DirectX10. There are several versions of the bug:
- You may start outside the cart with other prisoners, unable to do anything. This can be fixed by restarting the game.
- The cart of prisoners in front of you may clip, unexpectedly turn, flip on its side, or strike the city gate. This will sometimes cause the same to happen to your cart.
- The headsman may not carry out the first Stormcloak execution as scripted, which stops the script for your execution as well. This can be fixed by typing
prid 654edfollowed by
kill. Alternatively, the guards and executioner may successfully execute the Stormcloak, but will do nothing to lead you to the block.
- When you are at the chopping block awaiting your execution, Alduin may not land on the tower, instead flying around in circles overhead. The game is unable to progress. Entering
killallactorsin the console may resolve this.
- After following Ralof up the stairs in the keep, Alduin may not attack the tower and you cannot jump through to the inn.
- Hadvar may start much further away from the prisoner convoy than he's intended to be. As a consequence, he will be locked out of Helgen once the gate closes behind the convoy, and will not be present for the proceeding scene. Luckily the quest will proceed as usual, albeit without Hadvar to read off the lists or give commentary (the game will simply skip his dialogues in his absence), and on top of this Hadvar will reappear in his proper place after the player exits the inn during Alduin's attack.
- This can be fixed after the player gets off the cart by typing
prid 2bfa2followed by
moveto player. This will cause Hadvar to appear in front of the player. He will then take his proper place in the scene.
- This can be fixed after the player gets off the cart by typing
- If you follow Hadvar/Ralof into the keep, when you escape Helgen later, rather than going with you to Riverwood, he may deviate towards Embershard Mine instead of the Guardian Stones, and not move. This will also cause Sven and Hilde's dialogue to never play.
- When you enter Helgen Keep with Ralof, if you choose to go in with him, you may appear to jog in place, having no control over anything except for the menu and console command keys.
- This can be fixed by waiting until Ralof asks you to go there, so he can take your bindings off, then using the console command player.moveto 0002bf9e. This will teleport you to him, at which point he unbinds you and you regain all control.
 Quest Stages
- The following empty quest stages were omitted from the table: 0, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 65, 67, 70, 75, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 90, 95, 97, 98, 99, 100, 120, 130, 140, 145, 190, 195, 202, 210, 220, 240, 252, 256, 257, 258, 260, 265, 267, 268, 270, 272, 275, 280, 285, 290, 292, 300, 305, 310, 317, 318, 320, 340, 350, 360, 365, 368, 370, 380, 395, 400, 450, 460, 470, 480, 485, 490, 500, 550, 560, 600, 630, 650, 700, 705, 710, 720, 725, 730, 750, 760, 780, 800, 1000
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