During the Great War, when the Third Empire was busy fighting the Aldmeri Dominion, it pulled many of the Imperial Legion soldiers from Markarth to fight, leaving it with only a small garrison. The Reachmen, who had wanted independence for a long time, took this opportunity to force Imperial troops out of the Reach, and from 4E 174 until 4E 176, it was its own kingdom. Aside from some crimes which were committed against former Nord landowners, the Forsworn ruled their lands fairly, and were trying to be recognized by the Empire as a legitimate kingdom. In 4E 176 Markarth's nobility asked Ulfric Stormcloak to reclaim the Reach, to which he accepted. Upon reclaiming Markarth the remaining Forsworn scattered, those who stayed or those related to the Forsworn were executed, excluding Madanach, Nepos the Nose and a handful of others. Their uprising has made travel in the Reach dangerous. The Legion sees them as merciless, and order their soldiers to neither give, nor expect mercy if they attack.
The Forsworn make use of looters, foragers, hagravens, shamans, archers, pillagers, ravagers, warlords, assassins, and lastly, briarhearts. The briarhearts are a special type of Forsworn. These Reachmen chose to let their heart get cut out by Hagravens for it to be replaced by a Briar Heart, granting them greater strength. When they attack, they do not care about their chances of success, nor for the money, as large sums of gold are often left behind. They seek to harm the Nordic population in such a manner that they will eventually leave.
- The Forsworn can be seen engaging with three Imperial (or Stormcloak) soldiers just off the road to Markarth.
- They can also be seen fighting with several Orcs in the Reach.
- They can be spotted attacking a Peddler.
The following are Forsworn hideouts:
- Deepwood Vale
- Dragon Bridge Overlook
- Druadach Redoubt
- Karthspire Camp
- Red Eagle Redoubt
- Serpent's Bluff Redoubt