Swiftly approaching its seventh anniversary, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim still stands as one of the most influential open world RPGs ever to see release. The game is something of a high watermark for the genre, and it exemplified Bethesda’s ability to craft a compelling and extremely diverse narrative that could be experienced a near countless number of times without ever feeling repetitive.
Seemingly re-released on more platforms than Capcom’s original Resident Evil title, it would be tough to come across gamers of any kind unfamiliar with the game. Everyone and their grandmother has played it at some point… in fact, there is a YouTuber by the name of Shirley Curry who uploads daily videos of herself playing Skyrim, and she’s actually an 82 year old grandmother.
That said, tons of fans are venturing back into the treacherous lands of Skyrim in preparation for the recently-announced sixth entry into the Elder Scrolls series, though it isn’t likely to see release until at least 2020. That said, there are tons of things to do and quests to complete, which may not be apparent to some players — some great, some pretty mediocre.
From fighting warlords to banning ancient evils and eliminating traitorous marauder parties, there are tons of slightly obscure side quests to do in Skyrim that some veterans may not even be aware (provided they haven’t read every single page on the game’s wiki). By that same token, there are also a handful of quests that just aren’t worth anyone’s time.
With that said, here are the 15 Hidden Skyrim Quests Every Player Needs To Complete (And 15 That Aren’t Worth It).
30 Must Complete: The Mind of Madness
The Mind of Madness is a slightly tongue-in-cheek side quest that parodies Lewis Carroll's famous work of fiction Alice in Wonderland. To begin the quest, players must come across a man named Dervenin in Solitude who will entreat the Dragonborn to find his missing master.
What follows is a literal trip down the rabbit hole as players are transported to Pelagius’ Mind, which apes quite effectively the famous tea party scene from the aforementioned literary classic.
Upon completion, players will be rewarded with the Wabbajack, a staff which casts random spells with each use and seems to derive its name from the Jabberwocky, a beast from Carroll’s work.
29 Not Worth It: The Whispering Door
A rumor circulating around the Bannered Mare, a popular tavern in Whiterun, posits that the province’s Jarl is keeping some strange secrets relating to his children. Investigation such rumors eventually leads the player to Nelkir, a son of the Jarl. Nelkir is a strange boy seemingly bewitched by a woman whom he says whispers secrets to him from behind a locked door.
Following a small quest to obtain the keys to the door will reveal the Ebony Blade, which is a weapon said to be made more powerful through the destruction of one’s allies. The player is then tasked with taking out NPCs friendly to the Dragonborn, which is a pretty heartbreaking task that isn’t worth all of the effort and public extrication.
28 Must Complete: Forbidden Legend
Forbidden Legend is a long and fairly involved quest that is a must-complete for those invested in Skyrim’s extensive lore. Focusing on a trio of brothers who long ago seperated a powerful amulet into pieces during a disagreement, the Dragonborn is tasked with piecing together both the legend of the brothers and the amulet itself.
This quest can be started by reading the “Lost Legends” book, which can be found in multiple locations across Skyrim. What follows is a long-winded series of dungeons that comes complete with their own boss encounters. For completing the quest and defeating the brothers, the player is rewarded with the Gauldur Amulet, which grants +30 to health, stamina, and magicka.
27 Not Worth It: Telrav’s Request
The side quest Telrav’s Request can be completed in under two minutes, yet, even in that case, it isn’t worth the time. This quest can be started by speaking with an Imperial Guard named Telrav, who is apparently marooned on the side of a road near Nilheim.
Telrav claims to have been attacked by a set of bandits and thanks the Dragonborn for coming to his aid.
He then escorts him back to his camp, where he instructs his fellow marauders to attack him. Once these bandits and the treacherous Telrav are defeated, the player can loot the camp, and that’s all there is to it. These trick quests can be found in plenty of Bethesda’s games, and they are almost always very short.
26 Must Complete: Forgotten Names
Forgotten Names is an interesting quest because it takes place in one of the more interesting areas of Skyrim: the Midden Dark, which is a booby trap-laden dungeon found beneath the College of Winterhold. There, the player will come across a mysterious gauntlet surrounded by skeletons. The player is then tasked with finding a set of four rings that originally adorned the gauntlet.
These rings may be found in a chest, though they must be stolen, which will likely incur the wrath of Urag gro-Shub, the College’s librarian. Placing the rings back on the gauntlet will summon the notorious pirate Velehk Sain, who will either reward or attack the player based on their actions.
25 Not Worth It: Tending the Flames
Tending the Flames is necessary to complete for players looking to gain entrance into the Bard’s College, thought it’s reputation as one of the most useless factions in the game make this a pointless process. To begin the quest, speak with Viarmo at the Bard’s College, and then ask for admission.
He will task the player with a copy of the illusive King Olaf’s verse, which can be found at Dead Men’s Respite, though it is incomplete. The Dragonborn then literally makes up the missing verses, which will impress the Jarl of Haafingar and allow the player entrance into the Bard’s College. There’s hardly any reward for the effort, and Tending the Flames is an all-around joke of a quest.
24 Must Complete: Forgetting About Fjola
Forgetting About Fjola is a neat little quest involving deceit, decision making, and unrequited love. The quest begins in the North Tower of the relatively well-guarded Mistwatch Fort. Once there, a man will commission the Dragonborn to explore the location in search of his lost wife, Fjora. Once she is found, she will explain that she doesn’t want to return to her husband.
The player can either lie to her husband and say that he couldn’t find her, or eliminate Fjora all together and loot her body.
Either way, the player will be rewarded with Fjora’s wedding band, reprehensible actions aside. Regardless of the ending, Forgetting About Fjola is a bitter yet interesting side quest that is worth exploring.
23 Not Worth It: Finn’s Lute, Pantea’s Flute, & Rjorn’s Drum
As previously mentioned, the Bard’s College is one of the most underwhelming colleges in the game and is hardly worth the already relatively meager price of admission. Aside from the introductory quest Tending the Flames, there are three major quests available here, all of which revolve around retrieving someone’s missing instrument.
Each of these items can be found at the end of a unique dungeon, which only adds to the already ridiculous amount of dungeon exploring there is to do in Skyrim. Instead of learning an instrument or any particularly worthwhile bard skills, the Bard’s College offers little more than a series of bland fetch quests.
22 Must Complete: House of Horrors
House of Horrors is something of a controversial quest among the Skyrim community, but it is worth completing thanks to its unique story. The quest can be started after entering the city of Markarth and speaking to a man named Tyranus.
Tryanus will ask the Dragonborn to search a nearby abandoned house for daedric activity, though he gets more than he bargained for when he encounters Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Schemes. Morag Bal then instructs the Dragonborn to eliminate Tyranus and capture the Boethiah priest Logrolf the Willful. Completing this quest will award the player with a unique quest-specific weapon, the Mace of Molag Bal.
21 Not Worth It: J’zargo’s Experiment
J’zargo’s Experiment is less of a quest and more of a joke on the player set up by some nefarious developers over at Bethesda. J’zargo is a Khajiit apprentice at the College of Winterhold.
Speaking to him will reveal that he has created a set of ten Flame Cloak Scrolls, which he needs to have tested on some zombie enemies.
Unfortunately, none of the scrolls work as intended, as they require the Dragonborn to be within melee range of his enemy when using them, and they make his targets explode, damaging everything in the area. The main reward for the player’s hard is that J’zargo will become available as a follower, which is about as useless as it sounds.
20 Must Complete: Coming of Age
Despite its relatively short length, Coming of Age is an interesting miscellaneous quest that reminds players never to trust strange adventures. To begin the quest, speak with Salma, a Redguard adventurer who will be arguing with her Argonian compatriot in front of the entrance to Ironbind Barrow.
The Dragonborn will accompany this pair into the throne room of Warlord Gathrik deep within Ironbind Barrow where Beem-Ja, the Argonian mage, will attempt to sabotage the expedition. Once both Warlord Gathrik and Beem-Ja are disposed of, the player will have access to the dungeon’s treasures, and the quest will be completed. Despite its length, Coming of Age is a fun little side story that every Skyrim adventurer should experience.
19 Not Worth It: A Daedra’s Best Friend
A Daedra’s Best Friend is a notoriously disliked quest among Skyrim fans, and most of this disdain stems from the mission’s talking dog follower, Barbas. Barbas has had a falling out with his master, Clavicus Vile. Vile agrees to mend their relationship if the Dragonborn travels to Rimerock Burrow and fetches the Rueful Axe for him.
The issue here is that, though trekking across Skyrim with a talking dog initially sounds cool, Barbas never stays quiet. Strangely enough, he also speaks with what sounds like a thick Brooklyn accent, which makes absolutely no sense in context and makes the whole ordeal much more annoying than it should be.
18 Must Complete: The Man Who Cried Wolf
The Man Who Cried Wolf is a pretty well-known quest that just about every Skyrim player ought to experience. It begins with a sinister air as a man in Solitude named Falk Firebeard tasks the Dragonborn with the investigation of Wolfskull cave, a mysterious area thought to be at the heart of a series of strange disappearances.
Upon arrival, the player finds the cave to be teaming with necromancers and eventually encounters the head sorcerer and foils a plan to resurrect the Wolf Queen Potema Septim.
This was a well-designed quest with an excellent narrative structure and payoff, and it stands as perhaps one of the greatest non-essential quests in the game.
17 Not Worth It: Onmund’s Request
Onmund’s Request should be skipped because it is a piece of content that had potential but quickly devolves into nothing but another fetch quest. To begin this side mission, speak with Onmund at the College of Winterhold after completing the Under Saarthal quest. He will confess that he made a sketchy deal with a vendor that he regrets and tasks the Dragonborn with returning the amulet he sold.
The vendor will return the item if the Dragonborn retrieves a Grand Staff of Charming, which can be found in one of several dungeons, though this can be skipped altogether should the player have a high enough speech skill. This quest is nothing more than a monotonous slog and can easily be skipped.
16 Must Complete: The Wolf Queen Awakened
The Wolf Queen Awakened acts as a followup to the previously mentioned The Man Who Cried Wolf quest and serves as a more definitive ending to the story of the Wolf Queen. This quest begins when the Dragonborn is approached by a courier who presents him with a message from Falk Firebeard. Firebeard explains that Potema Septim remains a threat and must once again be eliminated.
From here, the player must explore Potema’s Catacombs, which can be entered through the basement of the Temple of Divines in Solitude. They must then quest through the catacombs and make their way to Septim’s inner sanctum, where she is to be defeated. This quest will provide the player with a leveled weapon andends the saga of the Wolf Queen.
15 Not Worth It: Dragon Hunting
Dragon Hunting is a pretty divisive quest among those who have completed it, and it can be either immensely entertaining or beyond tedious depending on the player’s view of dragons. Once the Quest Rebuilding the Blades is complete, the player will be able to speak with a man named Esbern who is studying dragon lairs.
He then tasks the player with hunting down a dragon alongside some Blades followers.
This would be fine, but this process must be repeated a total of eleven separate times to bring about a concrete end to the quest. Defeating dragons can be a great experience, but carrying out the task ad nauseum can quickly ruin the fun. Though, the rare players who can’t get enough of this type of thing will doubtlessly love this divisive quest.
14 Must Complete: In My Time of Need
In My Time of Need is a gripping quest that will test the players sympathies toward certain NPCs. At any period after the main quest is started, the Dragonborn may happen across a group of warriors requesting entrance to Whiterun to search for a fugitive Redguard woman.
Once she is found, the player can either side with her or with her pursuers, though both outcomes provide the player with a handsome reward. Depending on their allegiances, the player may head to Swindler’s Den and take out one of the woman’s enemies, or escort her to the Whiterun Stables and allow her to be apprehended. The draw here comes less from the actual gameplay and more from the generous amount of agency afforded to the player, an element unique to games of this sort.
13 Not Worth It: Medresi Dran and the Wandering Dead
Medresi Dran and the Wandering Dead is another one of those quests that should only be taken if there’s really nothing else for the player to do, or if the player is for some reason interested in upgrading their animal allegiance shout. A woman named Medresi Dran may be found in Angarvunde, and she will eventually provide the Dragonborn with two keys to a series of crypts that contain a ridiculous amount of draugr.
Once they are dealt with, Medresi and the Dragonborn will encounter a treasure-filled room in which the woman meets her tragic end thanks to a shifting staircase. From here, the player is free to loot the room and tick off one more quest from their to-do list.
12 Must Complete: Dark Ancestor
Dark Ancestor may seem like a rather ordinary quest on the surface, but the mission’s intrigue comes primarily from the story surrounding it. To begin the Dark Ancestor quest, travel to Falkreath and speak with Dengeir of Stuhn, the towns former Jarl.
He reveals to the Dragonborn that his ancestor Vighar is a vampire and has been freed from his tomb.
Should knowledge of these happenings get out, it would bring shame to Dengeir’s line, and he tasks the player with putting an end to the vampire’s reign. What follows is a quest through the Bloodlet Throne, a dungeon not far from Falkreath. It may seem like a relatively by-the-numbers quest, but who could resist playing the role of vampire hunter one more time?
11 Not Worth It: The Book of Love
The Elder Scrolls series is primarily concerned with battling dragons and completing epic quest lines. Famous for its dynamic dungeoneering and spectacular storytelling, the last thing anyone thinks of in relation to Skyrim is bad rip-offs of Shakespeare’s centuries old play Romeo and Juliet.
The Book of Love is started when the player speaks with a woman named Dinya Balu in the town of Riften. Should the player ask her for Mara’s Blessing, she will instruct them to prove their worth by advancing the cause of love throughout Skyrim. What follows is a pretty involved story of love and loss, but it's so long-winded that most players will be aching to get back to their actual adventures by the time it all wraps up.
10 Must Complete: Lights Out!
Lights Out is among the most celebrated side quests in all of Skyrim, and it offers yet another cautionary tale concerning the nefarious intentions of some quest givers. The quest starts when the player interacts with an Argonian named Jaree-ra in Solitude, who will inform the player of his plans to run aground and rob an Imperial ship.
Unbeknownst the the player, once the task is completed, Jaree-ra and his sister Deeja will make off with the loot and attempt to dispatch the Dragonborn. Of course, they don’t quite know who they’re dealing with, and the player will ultimately track down the loot and enact their revenge. This is definitely one of the more unique quests in Skyrim, and inquisitive players really need to check it out if they haven’t already.
9 Not Worth It: Civil War
The Civil War questline is a semi-divisive series of quests in Skyrim that feature the conflict between the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion, a conflict that is at the very heart of the goings-on in the land of Skyrim. Depending on the faction with which the player chooses to identify, the questline will unfold in favor of one of these two sides.
That said, though the background story surrounding the Skyrim Civil War is interesting, the actual gameplay associated with it is far past tedious.
Much of it revolves around taking a series of forts with a couple of allied soldiers, and it gets old quick. Fans of The Elder Scrolls lore may find it compelling, but others should just leave it alone.
8 Must Complete: Ill Met By Moonlight
Ill Met By Moonlight is definitely one of the most interesting side quests available in Skyrim, though players need to be aware that, once they take it, they are pretty much forced to complete it. This quest can be obtained by speaking with a man named Sinding, who can be found in the Falkreath Jail. Sinding will give the player the Cursed Ring of Hircine, which is equipped automatically.
This ring has the power to transform the player into a werewolf at random, and it cannot be removed until the player hunts down a fabled White Stag. After that, the quest focuses on the elimination of Sinding, who definitely isn’t as he initially seems. Ill Met By Moonlight is a fun quest full of twists and turns that every Skyrim aficionado should complete.
7 Not Worth It: A Return to Your Roots
In a game already littered with repetitive fetch quests, A Return to Your Roots is a pretty unwelcome inclusion. A spiritual successor of sorts to the Seeking Your Roots quest from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, this quest can be acquired by finding and reading Sinderion’s Field Journal, which can be picked up in the ruins of Blackreach.
Now, Blackreach is admittedly a pretty cool place: a hidden, buried city littered with bio-luminescent fungus should be tons of fun to explore, but the scenery gets old quickly as the player must scour the place in search of a total of thirty Crimson Nirnroots. Those who love scavenging through every last inch of a dungeon may get a kick out of this, but, for most players, the novelty will wear thin rather quickly.
6 Must Complete: Evil is Waiting
Evil is Waiting is a pretty intimidating side quest that will ask quite a lot from any player afraid of zombies. This quest can be obtained by entering Valthume, where a spirit by the name of Valdar will instruct the player to collect three urns and return them to him.
These vessels can be found throughout the dungeon, and, upon returning to Valthume, he uses them to reanimate the lich Hevnoraak, unbeknownst to the player.
The Dragonborn must then send this awful enemy back to the grave, which will complete the quest. Evil is Waiting is a harrowing experience, and would definitely make for a great play on Halloween.
5 Not Worth It: Nikolas’ Future
Nikulas’ Future may be the shortest and most uneventful quest in all of Skyrim, and perhaps even the entirety of the Elder Scrolls series of games. To begin this quest (not that anyone would want to), the player must speak with a woman named Edia in the town of Skaal Village. She will complain that her son is looking to leave the village in hopes of fulfilling his dreams of becoming an adventurer. She is worried that he doesn’t have the constitution for such a profession and asks the Dragonborn to talk him out of it.
Nicholas can be found just around the corner and can be rather easily talked down in a matter of moments, and returning to his mother will complete the quest and reward the player with some pretty worthless alchemy ingredients.
4 Must Complete: Waking Nightmare
Waking Nightmare is pretty much the closest thing Skyrim players can get to inserting themselves into a Nightmare on Elm Street flick. Beginning with a conversation with a Mara priest named Erandur in the town of Dawnstar, who will explain the the townspeople are experiencing nightmares as a result of the actions of Vaermina the Dreamweaver, a Daedric prince.
What follows is a quest through Nightcaller Temple that will challenge the mental stability of even the most sturdy Dragonborn. At the end, the player can either choose to dispatch Erandur and receive the Skull of Corruption or leave him be and allow him to reunite with his long lost companions.
3 Not Worth It: Dragon’s Breath Mead
Dragon’s Breath Mead is a quirky little side quest that may be worth it to those really starving for something to do. To begin the quest, speak with Olda in Dragon Bridge, who will complain about her husband hiding his adult beverages from her in a far-off cave.
Travel to the cave and fend off the three wolves guarding it to find a bunch of different beverages stashed there.
From this point, the player may either return them to Olda or reunite them with Horgeir, her husband. Olda will reward the Dragonborn with around 500 gold, while Horgeir will impart a one-point block skill increase, which he says is dodge a potential hit from an angry wife. Though funny, Dragon’s Breath Mead is little more than a tiny distraction.
2 Must Complete: Innocence Lost
Innocence Lost is yet another side quest in Skyrim that will tug at the heartstrings. Yet, unlike The Whispering Door, this one is actually worth experiencing. To initiate this quest, either speak with innkeepers until they bring up rumors of a so-called cursed child or simply pick the lock to the Aretino Residence in Windhelm.
Here, the player will encounter Aventus Aretino, an orphaned chilled attempting to summon the Dark Brotherhood to enact revenge on a hard-hearted member of the orphanage staff ironically named Grelod the kind. Eliminating Grelod and returning to Aventus will complete the quest and act as the first step in the player’s slow initiation to the Dark Brotherhood.
1 Not Worth It: Thieves Guild Questline
Nobody seems to like the Thieves Guild in Skyrim, and that may have something to do with the fact that many members of the guild are flat out annoying. Beside that, none of the quests available through this guild involve any actual thievery, and many of them devolve into simple and repetitive dungeon-based fetch quests.
Much like the Bard’s College, the Thieves Guild is a major disappointment that doesn’t really help to level up the organization’s associated skill. Though some rare players may be innamered with the tale of betrayal and infighting in these quests, most players would do well to stay far, far away from this terrible guild and its stupid questline.
Are there any other hidden quests in Skyrim that players need to complete or avoid? Let us know in the comments!