Followers are NPCs who agree to join you on your adventures. Some are trained hirelings, mercenaries who will fight in exchange for gold. Others might be ordinary townspeople inspired by your example who agree to follow you if asked. They help in combat and also carry excess inventory.
- Wait at a specific spot on the ground.
- Use an object in the world, such as a lever or a chair.
- Attack an enemy.
- Open a locked door or container.
- Pick up items in the world.
- Exit the command state by pressing .
Note that not all followers can be commanded, and some commands may not be carried out, either because they are physically impossible for your follower (such as picking a lock that is beyond their skill), or because they object to the command (such as being asked to attack a member of their family).
Be warned, the guards will hold you responsible for any crimes you command a follower to commit!
While followers will attempt to remain at your side, there are some places in Skyrim where they cannot accompany you (such as jail). They will wait outside for you to reappear, but after waiting 3 days, your follower will leave.
Should a follower ever leave your service, they will return to their normal lives. You can always ask them to come with you again (although Hirelings may demand a new fee).
Mercenaries and sellswords
Also known as "Hirelings". Hirelings are mercenaries found in the major citites of Skyrim. There is one hireling in each city, usually found in the tavern. Because of their combat experience, hirelings are among the most capable followers. Each hireling has a unique personality and skill set.
Unlike other followers, Hirelings work only for money. If you dismiss the hireling, replace them with another follower, or leave them waiting for too long (such as while serving a jail sentence), you have a small window of time during which you can hire them back at no cost. Otherwise, you will have to pay their fee to hire them again.
Occasionally, the Dragonborn can have more than one follower at one time. On occasion, their availability can be exploited. They do not respond to follower commands nor can they be traded with. They do not automatically sheathe their weapons in concert with the Dragonborn and trying to give them items by planting them in their inventory does not work. These NPCs are considered essential, so they cannot die.
Quest: Speaking with Silence – Meet Mercer outside Snow Veil Sanctum. He will tell you to take the lead and go inside. Do not enter the sanctum, and he will follow you until you complete the quest, including any detours you make.
Quest: Alduin's Wall – Inside the Sleeping Giant Inn, Delphine will ask if you want to travel together or separately, select travelling together and they will both follow you until you complete the quest, including any detours you make.
If you follow these directions You will have a small army of followers
- First you will start the Thieves' Guild questline. Go through that questline until you and Mercer Frey go to Snow Veil Sanctum to kill Karliah. He will ask you to lead, but do not go inside, and you will have 1 extra follower.
- Go about halfway through the main questline until you find Esbern in the Ratway. Take Esbern to Delphine. Delphine will ask you if you want to travel together or separately. Choose to travel together. You now have 3 Glitched followers.
- Start the Dark Brotherhood questline. When you have to go to the Dawnstar Sanctuary to kill Cicero, do not kill him. Instead, leave and tell Astrid that Cicero is dead. You then complete that questline and proceed as far as buying at least 1 upgrade for the new sanctuary.
- Return to the sanctuary, and make your "real" (the one you specifically chose) follower stand next to Cicero
- Dismiss your follower
- Ask him/her accompany you once again
- Before he/she is done talking, quickly ask Cicero to follow you as well (this may take a few tries)
- Repeat this for the two Dark brotherhood initiates. You will now have 6 extra followers.
- Either buy a dog from the Markarth stables, or find Meeko's Shack south of Solitude. Now you have 7 extra followers.
- Go to Falkreath and talk to the blacksmith, Lod and agree to help find his dog. When you find the dog, Barbas, he will ask you to go the shrine of Clavicus Vile. Clavicus will then ask you to retrieve the Rueful Axe. If you like 2-handed weapons, retrieve the Rueful Axe but do not return it. You now have 8 extra followers.
Your followers are:
- Mercer Frey
- Dark Brotherhood Initiates
- Vigilance or Meeko
- Lydia, maybe
Follower AI Issues
Exploring such a rugged and fragmented world can make it difficult for the followers to... er... follow. Here a few situations the Dragonborn should be aware of:
- Having a follower dive into under-water rooms or other under-water areas with some form of non-flat ceiling can be problematic. The AI tends to swim near the ceiling so that wooden beams get them stuck there. Solution: When exploring below water areas, tell the follower to wait on dry land.
- Merrily jumping over small rocks, climbing cliffs and the like is easy for the Dragonborn, but the follower often tends to get stuck. Or worse simply cannot follow such a direct path, and will try to circumvent via another "flatter" path. This will make the AI "run away". Solution: Keep an eye on the follower, and try to take paths the follower can navigate.
- Tightly winding stairs, especially in cylindrical stone towers, can get the follower stuck. Solution: Walk down the steps, move towards the outside of the steps and let the AI follow in that direction to get unstuck. May not always work.
- When exiting areas via gates or doors, the follower sometimes simply will not leave the area with the Dragonborn. Apparently a pathing issue near the door (a real bug). Solution: Exit into the open, then fast travel to a nearby location, the follower should get teleported along.
- When exploring dungeons or caves the very farthest area usually connects back to an area at the very beginning, conveniently avoiding needless backtracking. Often there is a need to jump down (2 to 3 metres) to be able to take this quick exit. Alas, in several instances the AI will not jump down with you, and instead try to backtrack the whole cave system. Solution: When this happens, avoid jumping down, and backtrack with the AI, to ensure it does not get stuck anywhere.
- In a few quests an additional NPCs may join the Dragonborn, e.g. Barbas, leading the way to some destination. When the Dragonborn loses sight of the NPC though, the NPC will in fact have directly travelled to the destination. Solution: Fast travel there using map and compass as well.