NPCs are controlled by Radiant Al, a complex system in which NPCs move about the world in a non-scripted, lifelike manner and perform daily tasks including shopping, hunting for food, going to sleep, smithing, or even going on a mission of assassination. An NPC can come in many shapes and sizes and be any playable race.
Most of the NPCs in Skyrim are named characters. These characters are all listed on different pages under their relevant name. Quest-givers, trainers, merchants, as well as most NPCs in cities and towns are named characters.
Some named characters are deemed to be Essential Characters. If these characters are attacked, they will fall to their knees and surrender when they get near zero Health. After a short time, they will rise up with full health, and will reengage the attacker until they are killed or are no longer in their zone. The following is a list pertaining to such NPCs:
There are also many general NPCs in Skyrim, many of which are randomly generated. If they are killed they will become randomly generated again after a certain amount of time.
Non hostile NPCs:
- Afflicted Refugee
- Hold Guards
- Imperial Couriers
- Imperial Soldiers
- Stormcloak Couriers
- Stormcloak Soldiers
- Vigilants of Stendarr
- Falmer Servants
- Fire Mages
- Hired Thug
- Ice Mage
- Storm Mage
Details about characters
All of the characters in Skyrim have two different types of FormIDs that can be used in conjunction with console commands: a BaseID and a RefID.
Most console commands will accept only one of the two types of IDs: the BaseID is generally used in cases where a new copy of an object would be spawned, whereas the RefID is generally used in cases where interaction is requested for an existing object.
The behavior of characters is determined by a variety NPC statistics. As can also be seen here Creation Kit
There are four different levels of an NPCs aggression in conjunction with Faction Relationships, determines when the Actor will initiate combat:
0: Unaggressive. Will not initiate combat.
1: Aggressive. Will attack Enemies on sight.
2: Very Aggressive. Will attack Enemies and Neutrals on sight.
3: Frenzied. Will attack anyone on sight. Actors are rarely set to Frenzied by default; this is usually the result of some other spell or effect like the Frenzy spell.
Governs whether the actor will assist their Friends and Allies in combat:
0: Helps Nobody. Will not help anyone.
1: Helps Allies. Will only help Allies.
2: Helps Friends and Allies. Will help Friends and Allies.
Governs when the Actor will avoid or flee from threats:
0: Cowardly. Will always avoid or flee from threats. Cowardly actors NEVER engage in combat under any circumstances. Confidence can never be lower than 0.
1: Cautious. Will avoid or flee from threats unless the Actor is stronger than the threat.
2: Average. Will avoid or flee from threats if outmatched.
3: Brave. Will avoid or flee from threats only if severely outmatched.
4: Foolhardy. Will never avoid or flee from anyone.
If this Actor is the Dragonborn's Follower, and they order them to commit a crime, Morality determines whether they will comply:
0: Any Crime. The Follower will commit any crime.
1: Violence Against Enemies. The Follower will commit Property Crimes, and Violent Crimes when ordered to attack an enemy only. Rarely used.
2: Property Crime Only. The Follower will commit Property Crimes such as theft, or trespass, but never Violent Crimes. Rarely used.
3: No Crime. The Follower will refuse to commit any crime.