When a studio is confident enough to mock its own marketing practices, it is safe to assume the original product was a success. Available across six different platforms, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim represents the peak of Bethesda Game Studios' storied history of game development. Developed using the Creation Engine and featuring an expansive open world brimming with life, Skyrim set a new standard for the genre. Eventually, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Red Dead Redemption II eclipsed Bethesda's RPG; nevertheless, the studio's accomplishments deserve to be recognized.
Recently, Bethesda has come under quite a bit of flak for Fallout 76, a buggy RPG lacking much in the way of redeeming factors. In hindsight, Skyrim might prove to be the only worthwhile Bethesda Game Studios project published during this particular decade. Despite coming out in 2011, the studio's annual re-releases and modding community has kept Skyrim in the public eye.
Putting aside all the amazing mods capable of transforming the base package, Bethesda's RPG is packed with an overwhelming amount of content. Even though the main quest line can be completed relatively quickly, Skyrim's side content inflates the playtime into the hundreds. Unlike most other RPGs that use filler quests as a brief distraction or a way to grind levels, Skyrim's world-building is chiefly restricted to these missions. Whether comedic or dramatic in nature, Tamriel is worth exploring to uncover every little detail.
Taking into account Skyrim's age and player base, every quest has been identified. However, some can only be triggered when a gamer travels off the beaten path. Here are 25 epic Skyrim side quests casual fans never found!
24 Always Know Who Cooked The Food
When it comes to Skyrim, joining a faction is half the fun! The Dark Brotherhood consists of highly trained hitmen, and one of the group's central goals is to undermine the social hierarchy governing Tamriel. As the Dragonborn's ninth assignment, Astrid tasks the player with infiltrating Emperor Titus Mede II's household and plant a little surprise in the powerful ruler's food.
Activating this quest requires the Dragonborn to have earned the trust of the Dark Brotherhood, but the mission is well worth the effort. Agent 47 is not the only person who can impersonate a chef!
23 Rise In The East
Why walk when there is the option to sail? Contrasted with more recent RPGs, Skyrim's age is naturally starting to show. Modders have worked tirelessly to ensure Bethesda's magnum opus preserves its visual splendor, but Skyrim seldom prioritizes a cinematic perspective over a practical one.
Bethesda's titles aim to immerse players into their expansive worlds, therefore, the games tend to avoid presenting anything too dynamic. Rise in the East is an exception. Seeking to stop a group of pirates, the East Empire Company hire the Dragonborn to put a stop to their treacherous ways. Obviously, this involves a trip on a sailing boat.
22 The Book Of Love
In order to be awarded the Blessing of Mara, an ability that buffs healing spells, players must complete Dinya Balu's quest to help two pairs of lovers. Visit Riften's Temple of Mara and speak to the priestess to activate The Book of Love quest, which will require the Dragonborn to visit Ivarstead, Markarth, and Gjukar's Monument.
Dealing with a young couple who seek to elope, the quest's first half is on the forgettable side; however, things pick up greatly after the protagonist is sent to Markarth. While the final reward is nothing too special, this quest packs enough twists and turns to give Romeo and Juliet a run for its money!
21 First Astrid, Then The Brotherhood!
After completing the Dark Brotherhood's second quest, the hero suddenly finds himself in the unwitting custody of Astrid, the leader of the organization. After being taken to the Abandoned Shack, the player is tasked with eliminating one of three hostages, a task designed to cement the Dragonborn's allegiance to the Dark Brotherhood. However, one can choose to defy Astrid's expectations!
Rather than picking any of the three prisoners, the blade can be turned onto the faction's leader.
Once the hitwoman is dismissed, Commander Maro orders the protagonist to infiltrate the Dark Brotherhood's stronghold and eradicate some of its most prominent members. Obviously, this path bars access to any other quest associated with the Dark Brotherhood.
20 Jeepers! This Inn Is Haunted!
Typically, quests triggered seemingly out of nowhere leave the longest lasting impression. In the grand scheme of things, The Ghost of Old Hroldan could easily be missed and Tamriel would be none the wiser; nevertheless, this short story contains more personality and intrigue than some of the more extensive questlines.
Located near the Karth River, Old Hroldan Inn is home to a spooky transparent guest who only emerges at a specific time. After boring the Dragonborn with a history lesson, the innkeeper offers Tiber Septim's room for the night. Eventually, the protagonist is woken up by the terrified innkeeper, who insists that she has seen a ghost.
19 The Ebony Warrior
Less of a quest and more of a duel, the Ebony Warrior ranks among the hardest opponents in Skyrim. Cosplaying as a Ringwraith, the Redguard combatant packs a mean punch and boasts over 2000 HP. Besides his intimidating appearance, the Ebony Warrior is immune to various spells and shouts, while elemental attacks tend to only hit for half damage.
Simply put, veteran players are the only ones who stand any chance against this enemy. Installed as part of the Dragonborn add-on and requiring players to reach level 80, the Ebony Warrior automatically spawns in one of Tamriel's main cities. Prepare for the worst!
18 Innocence Lost
One would think Skyrim's inhabitants have better things to do than gossip about children, but that seems to be far from the case. At one point or another, the Dragonborn will overhear a rumor about a "cursed child," which can be expanded upon by an innkeeper. Innocence Lost centers around Aventus Aretino, a boy who ran away from an evil orphanage.
While there are other ways to activate this quest, the most direct route would be to break into the Aretino Residence. Fair warning, this leads to a pretty haunting scene of a teenager practicing the dark arts. Crucially, this quest leads directly to the Dark Brotherhood's storyline.
17 One For The Road
Due to its brisk nature and lack of a distinctive marker, this particular quest stands among the easiest to miss. Tamriel is littered with people seeking to employ the hero as their personal errand boy. If an NPC can talk, it is safe to assume they want something out of the Dragonborn.
Spread across the map, there are seven men offering friendship in exchange for a drink.
As long as a beverage is held in the inventory, gamers are presented with the possibility to share their wealth with the inebriated individuals. As a thank you, the recipients occasionally bestow the player with a gift.
16 Forbidden Legend
During High King Harald's reign, there lived a powerful conjurer named Gauldur. While the mage was revered across the land, Gauldur's three sons lacked their father's wisdom or benevolence. Determining an amulet to be the source of Gauldur's power, the children eliminated their parent and used the jewelry's magic to spread terror across the land.
After defeating the three sons, High King Harald forbid their names to be mentioned or written in the history books. Requiring players to traverse across the entire map, Forbidden Legend expands upon this part of Skyrim's lore. Read the Lost Legends book to activate the quest.
15 Who Called The Exterminator?
Now, in all fairness, Animal Extermination is hardly a hidden quest. As long as someone pledged their allegiance to The Companions faction, they are bound to have accepted a couple of these hunts. Among the more straightforward missions, Animal Extermination asks the hero to defeat an animal that has infiltrated a cave or a house.
Due to the target and location being selected at random, this operation tends to invariably incorporate a certain degree of uniqueness. Once the Dragonborn add-on is purchased and installed, Animal Extermination even sends players to Solstheim, the setting added by the DLC. An exterminator's work is never done!
14 Dragon's Breath Mead
By definition, side quests tend to be somewhat pointless. That is not to say the developer sought to waste everybody's time, but these distractions cannot leave a big impact on the wider world or the main narrative. Dragon's Breath Mead serves as an example of a filler quest executed to perfection!
Annoyed by her husband's love for mood-altering refreshments, Olda asks the Dragonborn to locate Horgeir's secret stash and lift his favorite drink.
After clearing some wolves guarding the stash, players are presented with the opportunity to deliver the mead to Olda or Horgeir. While the former awards a useful cash prize, the latter teaches the hero how to block an angry spouse's punch.
13 Light Masks The Darkness
Located on the outskirts of Winterhold and belonging to a couple, Frostflow Lighthouse should be an early discovery for most players. Left in a state of disarray, the lighthouse's interior contains two corpses: a chaurus and one of the owners. Once the bodies are discovered, the Frostflow Abyss quest becomes active, although progression requires some investigatory research.
Diary entries are scattered along the lighthouse, and finding all of them reveals the hidden place of the cellar key. Descend down into the abyss to stumble upon a nest of insects and Falmer, who are employed by a Chaurus Reaper.
12 The Pale Lady
Player choice is an overused buzzword that often amounts to little more than lip-service. Bethesda's RPGs are frequently heralded for their branching quests and flexible narratives. The marketing department deserves most of the credit for cultivating this sentiment, but Skyrim's optional content embraces this concept.
Adding greatly to the quest's entertainment factor, The Pale Lady can be completed using several different strategies. Chasing a bandit who stole a sword rumored to be capable of defeating a ghastly spirit, the quest leads to a lively confrontation with the eponymous phantom. While there is the option to bust the ghost, returning the stolen sword appeases the Pale Lady.
11 Honor Thy Family
The Pale Lady's resolution changes depending on the utilized strategy; on the other hand, players must show a touch of creativity to trigger Honor Thy Family. The Dark Brotherhood does not tolerate insubordination and annoying the right people may end in a swift banishment.
Irritating a group of professional hitmen might not sound like the smartest decision, but Skyrim permits players to go against the grain. Pickpocketing or attacking faction members is the quickest way to earn a banishment, and the Dragonborn would need to pay a fee to be allowed back into the Dark Brotherhood. Surprisingly, the faction is a firm believer in forgiveness.
10 Red Eagle
Certain people refuse to accept that their time is up! The Legend of Red Eagle is a book stocked throughout Skyrim's map, and reading its pages activates a quest to find the titular character's sword.
Presented as a simple treasure hunt, the mission gradually mutates into a wild goose chase, culminating in a battle with the Red Eagle. Back in the day, Red Eagle defended The Reach from an invasion, but the hero had to sacrifice his humanity to accomplish this feat. Left to rot in a Karthspire tomb, Red Eagle awaits to do battle with a worthy foe.
9 Sea Of Ghosts
Unmarked quests are a joy! After clocking more than a 1000 hours into Skyrim, the majority of gamers would have drained every ounce of blood out of Bethesda's RPG. By this point, mods tend to be the only justification for a return to Tamriel. Starved for excitement, the Dragonborn lazily wanders the streets of Winterhold, talking to anyone willing to spare some time.
Recently conned into purchasing the Coral Dragon Claw, Birna offers to sell the item and spices up the deal by tossing in some information on a location called Yngol Barrow. Purchase the claw and head to the barrow to fight a mighty draugr.
8 Siege On The Dragon Cult
Willing to raid a tomb? Really, what else is there to do in Tamriel? Activated by speaking to Captain Valmir in Forelhost's courtyard, Siege on the Dragon Cult tasks the Dragonborn with storming the cult's stronghold to locate a special mask. If possible, Valmir also asks to retrieve a journal.
Packed with draugr and ghosts, the stronghold spans multi-stages and expects the hero to bring their A-game. Putting aside the actual quest, the most interesting part is the fact that Valmir is an impostor! Pickpocket the dude to find a letter explaining that Captain Valmir is not the person he pretends to be!
7 Forgotten Names
College of Winterhold trains Tamriel's future mages in the art of sorcery, but this prestige school masks a sinister past marked by tragedy and departed students. Near the door to the Hall of the Elements, there is a trapdoor leading to the Midden, a dungeon residing beneath the college's halls.
Deep within the dungeon lies a mysterious gauntlet and an incident report partaking to a class' unfortunate demise.
The only way to activate the relic is to confiscate four rings stored in the Arcanaeum's Master Investigators Box. Place the accessories on the gauntlet to awaken the pirate king responsible for the students' passing.
6 Out With The Old...
Providing the player opted against betraying the faction, the Dark Brotherhood's actions typically seek to strike at society's heart. Aiming to eliminate the Emperor, the faction turns its gaze to Commander Maro's security team and the Breaching Security quest presents the opportunity to eliminate the leader's son.
As a bonus for going the extra mile, Gabriella bestows the Dragonborn with a token for Olava, who will then predict the hero's fortune. The feeble lady speaks of an ancient Nordic tomb located at the top of Deepwood Redoubt mountain. Completing the trek compensates the player with the ancient shrouded armor and a new shout.
5 The Savior Of Selveni Nethri
Unless armed to the teeth with spells and proficient in the art of hitting targets with pointy weapons, Southfringe Sanctum should be avoided at all cost. Selveni Nethri learned this the hard way. In her defense, the woman was abandoned by her fellow mages, who left the Dunmer Necromancer at the mercy of Bashnag's crew of Frostbite Spiders and Spellswords.
Luckily, a humble Dragonborn happened to stumble upon this particular Sanctum during their travels! Willing to dive into any trap in pursuit of loot, the hero has the option to clear out all the enemies lurking within the Sanctum and, inadvertently, rescue Selveni.
4 The Man Who Cried Wolf
If reports are collected concerning strange disappearances, perhaps, a reasonable amount of resources should be allocated to investigate the matter. What did these people do before the Dragonborn made an appearance? The Man Who Cried Wolf can be accepted by speaking to Falk Firebeard, who informs the hero about a peculiar light hailing from Wolfskull Cave. Seeking to revive the Wolf Queen, necromancers have been carrying out a ritual to this end.
Dispatch the necromancers and return to Falk for your reward, although completing this quest is succeeded by a fight with the Wolf Queen.
3 Reading Bestows Insight
Radiant Quests refer to missions with randomly assigned objectives. Depending on the situation, the goal or location may be adjusted. Admittedly, the alterations tend to be superficial, but Radiant Quests inject some novelty into every playthrough. In order to gain access to the Shalidor's Insights quest, the Dragonborn must offer to locate any unique book for the Orc working at the Arcanaeum.
Urag gro-Shub asks the player to find a book belonging to a powerful Arch-Mage named Shalidor, which is kept in a chest marked on the map. Return the book to Urag to be rewarded with a scroll that enhances the duration of spells.
2 Kyne's Sacred Trials
Technically, Skyrim's side content chiefly boils down to fetch or hunt quests, but Bethesda injects just enough variety to stave off boredom. For example, Kyne's Sacred Trials literally tasks the Dragonborn with traveling to specific locations to defeat seven beasts. Despite adding "guardian" as an adjective and shifting to a translucent design, the beasts are nothing out of the ordinary.
Simply put, Bethesda swapped the skins of normal enemies and called it a day. Nevertheless, Kyne's Sacred Trials is an amusing diversion and rewards players with a useful amulet that improves damage dealt with a bow.
1 The Mind Of Madness
By definition, madness needs no explanation. Skyrim's world-building determines what activities can be conducted by players, but The Mind of Madness throws caution to the wind and opts to mess with the status quo. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, this quest teleports the Dragonborn into the mind of a Daedric Prince named Sheogorath, and the final reward is even called the Wabbajack.
Do you wish to abandon logic for a few minutes? In that case, travel to Solitude's The Winking Skeever to learn about a man wandering the neighborhood around the Blue Palace. That man is Dervenin.