It is a radiant guild quest. In order to start this quest, the Dragonborn must join the Companions guild in Whiterun, and request work from either Skjor or Vilkas.
A prisoner has escaped and the Companions have been hired to track them down then kill them. The Dragonborn must track and eliminate the prisoner. After the prisoner is killed, the Dragonborn should return to Skjor or Vilkas to receive a leveled reward of gold.
In order to obtain this quest, the player needs to talk to Skjor or Vilkas, depending on how far they are within the Companions questline, who will request that they track and eliminate an escaped prisoner within a specific hold. The difficulty is in locating the prisoner, as they will continue to move, and should their location be fast-traveled to, they will not be there. Several considerations should be noted, including:
The prisoner may seek refuge within a bandit hideout.
Should the prisoner be killed before the player can reach them (for example during a vampire attack) then the quest will still complete as if the player did eliminate them.
In order to remove any possibility of incurring a bounty, the prisoner can be talked to, triggering them to attack the player.
The prisoner will keep to using roads, and as such, if the player waits along a road, it is possible that the prisoner will pass by, unless they reach a bandit hideout.
Should the prisoner be confronted whilst traveling through a town, it is possible that the local residents will assist the player in eliminating them.
Upon the elimination of the prisoner, the player should return to Vilkas / Skjor at Jorrvaskr to collect a reward of levelled gold.
There is an escaped criminal wandering <radiant Hold>. I'm supposed to track him down and kill him.
Objective: Kill the escaped criminal
I killed an escaped criminal in <radiant Hold>.
Objective: Speak to <quest giver>.
This section contains bugs related to Escaped Criminal. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template 360 / XB1 , PS3 / PS4 , PC / MAC , NX , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
Click to see the list of bugs encountered
I ran into a problem where after I killed the criminal, Vilkas had nothing to say and Skjor pointed me back to Vilkas. I got around this problem by using the console command:
setstage cr07 100 - which marked the quest as completed, gave me my reward and unlocked the next quest from Skjor.
There's a chance that the criminal will have no marker. Sometimes the quest can even move into the completed tab without having finished any of the quest objectives. This makes completing the quest and attempting to receive additional Companion quests impossible even if you happen to find and kill the criminal.
On PC, console commands to change the state of this quest have no effect.
This can be bypassed through console commands, by accepting and completing one of the other companion radiant quests. The following commands will assign Animal Extermination as a new quest and complete it. Afterwards, you can accept new radiant quests from the companion leaders.
setstage cr01 10
setstage cr01 20
setstage cr01 100
In case this does't work, using cr02 instead of cr01 worked. In addition it may happen that you can only get a quest from Aela after using this bypass. Completing the Quest from Aela (in my case: Totems of Hircine) seemed to reset the other quests, so I can now again take quests from the other leaders, including Vilkas
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