- "Throw off the shackles of Imperial oppression. Do not bow to the yoke of a false emperor. Be true to your blood, to your homeland."
The Stormcloaks are a faction featured in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Led by Ulfric Stormcloak and based in Windhelm, they directly oppose the Thalmor and the Imperial Legion. The Dragonborn has the option of joining the Stormcloaks after Alduin's assault on Helgen, regardless of whom the Dragonborn followed—Ralof or Hadvar.
The name Stormcloak was first used to belittle the Stormcloaks' cause, though it has also been said that the Stormcloaks' name originated from Ulfric's desire for power. Whatever the case, they gladly accepted being named for Ulfric Stormcloak, whom they consider the true High King of Skyrim and an exemplar of their Nordic values.
The Stormcloaks believe Skyrim should secede from what they feel is a corrupt crumbling Empire. This stance came about due to the aftermath of the Great War and the imposition of the White-Gold Concordat by the Aldmeri Dominion. The Stormcloaks consider the Empire as just a puppet of the Thalmor because the Empire surrendered during the Great War and accepted the Dominion's terms of surrender. These terms ban the worship of Talos, which most Nords do not support. Many are outraged at this Talos ban and point out the Markarth Incident, as an example of the Empire publicly supporting the Dominion's oppressive influence over Skyrim. Furthermore, their opinion of the Empire is exacerbated with the arrival of the Thalmor Justiciars, who have been granted the authority by the Empire to enforce the White-Gold Concordat within Skyrim.
The Stormcloaks believe they should not have to divert Skyrim's resources to rebuild a diminished Empire too weak to provide the functions of a just government and is under the Thalmor's thumb. Some think that the Empire is maintaining power in Skyrim by propping up loyalist Jarls. Many Stormcloaks have also begun to resent the imposition of what they believe are, Imperial-sanctioned High Kings, who can only act as figurehead puppets and not kings of merit. With so many grievances, the Stormcloaks have concluded that political independence is what's best for Skyrim, since it frees them from the Empire's detrimental policies and allows the natives of Skyrim to determine the fate of their homeland. Though there is much uncertainty that goes hand in hand with their revolutionary aspirations, the Stormcloaks believe that they will remedy Skyrim's wretched state and preserve their Nordic way of life.
Amongst the terms of the Concordat was the outlawing of the worship of Talos, and, after the Markarth Incident, the Thalmor were given permission to enforce the ban. This angered many Nords, as Talos was highly revered among them and was considered to be their greatest leader, and that banning his worship was blasphemous.
The Markarth Incident
The Markarth Incident is considered to be the initial conception of the Stormcloak Rebellion. In 4E 176, Ulfric Stormcloak and his army retook the city of Markarth from the Forsworn invaders, under the agreement from the Jarl of Markarth that in exchange for Ulfric's military aid, Talos worship would be permitted in his city. However, shortly after retaking Markarth, the Imperial Legion returned to Skyrim in the aftermath of the Great War, but was pressured by Ulfric's militia to permit the free Talos worship in Markarth that was agreed upon by Ulfric and Markarth's Jarl. The Legion capitulated to Ulfric's demand but soon broke the agreement due to pressure from the Aldmeri Dominion. Thus, Ulfric and his militia were arrested and incarcerated. During Ulfric's imprisonment, his father, the Jarl of Windhelm, died, and Ulfric was forced to deliver the eulogy by a letter he had smuggled out of prison. Upon his release he returned to Windhelm, where he took up the duties of a Jarl.
The event that escalated the unrest across Skyrim was the death of High King Torygg at the hands of Ulfric Stormcloak in 4E 201. After years of brewing resentment for what he believed was betrayal by the Empire, Ulfric, now Jarl of Eastmarch, challenged Torygg to a duel in order to take the throne.
Ulfric and his supporters claimed it was a formal duel in the "Old Nord Way." Many others in Skyrim, such as General Tullius, called it murder due to Ulfric's use of the Thu'um, which gave Torygg no chance of victory. After Torygg's death, Ulfric fled to Windhelm, and Skyrim's civil war began. Using a combination of the outlawing of Talos worship and the Nords' strong sense of nationalism along with their mistrust of the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, Ulfric successfully recruited a great many of Skyrim's populace to the rebellion. All of the hold governments of the four Old Holds declared for Ulfric, as well as many wanderers, workers, sellswords, warriors, soldiers and former soldiers.
Stormcloak Soldiers fight using coordinated assaults, with its infantry members relying on their "Shield-Siblings" to defend them as they attack. The Stormcloaks are known to use the shield wall formation, a tactic that has the soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder and form a "wall of shields," holding their shields so that they abut or overlap. Each soldier benefits from the protection of their neighbors' shields as well as their own. The typical Stormcloak soldier uses a bow and arrow for ranged attacks, and a melee weapon with optionally a shield, while fighting in the frontlines. During sieges, they employ flaming catapults to whittle away at a city's ramparts and fortifications, while the infantry storms the gates and tears down the enemy barricades. The Stormcloak soldiers' faith in Talos and the righteousness of their cause motivates them to fight with both ferocity and courage.
They are mostly non-regimental, not relying entirely on rank as the Imperial Army does; instead relying on the talent of the Nord warriors in their midst to achieve their goals. The Stormcloaks theoretically have weaker defensive, but stronger offensive capabilities than the Legion; their use of armor is lighter and thus not as tough, but the Stormcloaks use a wider variety of weapons to make up for this. The Stormcloaks consider themselves more covert than Imperial Legionaries since Stormcloaks soldiers commonly say, "Legion soldiers gleam like fresh fallen snow and clank like a kitchen." The Stormcloaks have sometimes employed covert ambushes, where they sneak onto higher ground and unleash a barrage of arrows on unsuspecting Legion soldiers. It is suggested through dialogue with Irileth, that the Stormcloaks used assassins in an attempt to kill Jarl Balgruuf the Greater. The Stormcloaks have also been known to plant false information in order to disorganize their enemies.
Stormcloak armor is basic light armor. It is the same armor set worn by Hold Guards, but slightly weaker. There is also an officer version decorated with many unique bear parts and motifs, a nod to Ulfric's banner.
Ralof invites the Dragonborn to join the Stormcloaks if he or she followed him through Helgen Keep during Alduin's destruction of the settlement during the quest Unbound. Likewise, randomly encountered soldiers might have also attempted to recruit the Dragonborn to their cause. Farmers met on their way to Windhelm to join with Ulfric can also start the process.
To become a Stormcloak, the Dragonborn must venture to Windhelm, seat of Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak. There, his second-in-command—Galmar Stone-Fist—tests the Dragonborn to ensure both battle-worthiness and devotion to the Stormcloak cause. He asks the Dragonborn to travel to an island northeast of the College of Winterhold, where The Serpent Stone is located, and slay an Ice Wraith. After doing so, the Dragonborn returns, where it is revealed that slaying the Wraith was as much a test of prowess in battle as it was a test of loyalty, because finding the island and killing an Ice Wraith residing on it is dangerous and difficult. As a new member, the Dragonborn receives the customary Stormcloak Armor.
Once the Dragonborn has joined the Stormcloaks, only one more opportunity remains to switch sides, leaving the Stormcloaks for the Legion. When the Jagged Crown has been acquired, the Dragonborn can choose to travel to Solitude where they can give the crown to General Tullius instead. Tullius will then recognize them as an Imperial Soldier and immediately orders them to deliver an important message to Whiterun, while skipping the formalities of making the Dragonborn swear the Imperial Oath.
All new initiates to the Stormcloaks must recite the Oath:
"I do swear my blood and
honor to the service of Ulfric Stormcloak
Jarl of Windhelm and true High King of Skyrim.
As Talos is my witness, may this oath bind me
to death and beyond...
...even to my lord as to my fellow brothers
and sisters in arms.
All hail the Stormcloaks, the true sons
and daughters of Skyrim!"
There are five titles that can be earned if the Stormcloaks are joined during the Civil War questline. Progress in rank occurs at the completion of key battles during the war.
- Unblooded – Complete "Joining the Stormcloaks"
- Ice-Veins – Complete "Battle for Whiterun"
- Bone-Breaker – Complete "Rescue from Fort Neugrad"
- Snow-Hammer – Complete "The Battle for Fort Sungard"
- Stormblade – Complete "The Battle for Fort Snowhawk"
- Battle-Maiden – The Dragonborn cannot achieve this rank
Stormcloak camps serve as outposts for the Stormcloaks and are instrumental in the ongoing civil war. They are located in holds that are controlled by the Empire. If the Stormcloaks take over a hold, its camp in said hold will disappear, and vice versa. The exception is Eastmarch, which will not get a Stormcloak camp even if it falls to the Imperials.
They are commanded by a Stormcloak Officer who can be found in his tent, and also have a Stormcloak Quartermaster working at a forge who will also serve as a merchant. The following is a list of every Stormcloak camp in Skyrim:
- Falkreath Stormcloak Camp
- Haafingar Stormcloak Camp
- Hjaalmarch Stormcloak Camp
- Pale Stormcloak Camp
- Reach Stormcloak Camp
- Rift Stormcloak Camp
- Whiterun Stormcloak Camp
- Winterhold Stormcloak Camp
Post Civil War
After the conclusion of the civil war in favor of the Stormcloaks, the player will be told there are still Imperial camps out there to destroy. However, when visiting said camps, the commanders will still be flagged as essential and cannot be killed. Furthermore the Imperial soldiers at these camps will eventually respawn if killed. Additionally, citizens will still mention the war. Although the Stormcloaks have won the war, Thalmor and Imperial soldiers can be still found with Stormcloak prisoners during random encounters.
A number of notable changes occur after completing the Stormcloak campaign:
- Vignar Gray-Mane becomes Jarl of Whiterun.
- Assuming that the Dragonborn gave Dawnstar and Riften to the Imperials in the negotiations, Skald the Elder is reinstalled as Jarl of Dawnstar, and Laila Law-Giver is reinstalled as Jarl of Riften.
- Stormcloak soldiers replace the guards in all the previously-Imperial-controlled cities in Skyrim; Whiterun, Markarth, Falkreath, Morthal, and Solitude.
- Jarls who have been removed from their throne due to the Stormcloaks take over are all kept down in the cellar of the Blue Palace in Solitude along with their housecarls, stewards, and a few other notable persons who support the Imperial Legion. Elisif the Fair, an Imperial supporter, remains a Jarl.
- Former Imperial Forts scattered around Skyrim will become occupied by Stormcloak Soldiers, for example Fort Greymoor.
- Stormcloak Soldiers aid the Dragonborn in battle, if they are attacked by a foe. However, they do not lend assistance if the Dragonborn initiated the fight.
- Though never directly stated, Skyrim is now its own sovereign country in Tamriel, leaving the Empire comprising of only Cyrodiil and High Rock, along with the smaller territories of Esroniet, Yneslea, and Cathnoquey.
- Ulfric Stormcloak – The leader of the Stormcloaks, Jarl of Windhelm.
- Galmar Stone-Fist – Ulfric's housecarl and overall military commander.
- Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced – The Stormcloak commander in Eastmarch.
- Kai Wet-Pommel – The Stormcloak commander in Winterhold.
- Gonnar Oath-Giver – The Stormcloak commander in The Rift.
- Frorkmar Banner-Torn – The Stormcloak commander in The Pale.
- Hjornskar Head-Smasher – The Stormcloak commander in Whiterun Hold.
- Thorygg Sun-Killer – The Stormcloak commander in Falkreath Hold.
- Kottir Red-Shoal – The Stormcloak commander in The Reach.
- Arrald Frozen-Heart – The Stormcloak commander in Hjaalmarch.
- Istar Cairn-Breaker – The Stormcloak commander in Haafingar.
- Ralof – A member of the Stormcloaks who was captured alongside the Dragonborn and sent to Helgen to be executed.
- Gunjar – A member of the Stormcloaks whose body is found in the Helgen Keep.
- Thorald Gray-Mane – The son of the Gray-Manes who was captured and tortured by the Thalmor.
- Angrenor Once-Honored – Used to be a Stormcloak soldier, but then he took a sword through the chest.
- Lilija – The deceased daughter of Nura Snow-Shod. She served as a healer or "Battle Maiden."
- Stormcloak Soldier
- Stormcloak Archer
- Stormcloak Field Commander
- Stormcloak Courier
- Stormcloak General
- Stormcloak Quartermaster
- Joining the Stormcloaks
- The Jagged Crown
- Message to Whiterun
- Battle for Whiterun
- Liberation of Skyrim
Achievements and trophies
|Join the Stormcloaks or the Imperial Legion|
|Capture Fort Sungard or Fort Greenwall|
|Hero of Skyrim||30|
|Capture Solitude or Windhelm|
- Dialogue with Stormcloak Commanders
- Dialogue with Legate Rikke
- Dialogue with Ulfric Stormcloak
- Dialogue with Vignar Gray-Mane
- Nords Arise!
- Dialogue with Igmund
- Dialogue with Bryling
- Skyrim's Rule
- Dialogue between Galmar Stone-Fist and Ulfric Stormcloak
- Loading Screens
- Dialogue with Thalmor Justiciars
- Dialogue with Igmund
- The Bear of Markarth
- Dialogue with Hadvar
- Stormcloak Soldier's dialogue during Sovngarde (Quest)
- Events of "Battle for Whiterun (Stormcloaks)"
- Events of "Battle for Solitude"
- Dialogue of Stormcloak Soldier
- Events of "Compelling Tribute (Stormcloaks)"
- Dialogue with Irileth
- Events of "A False Front (Stormcloaks)"