Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

The Rift, otherwise known as Rift Hold,[1] is the a densely-forested region located in eastern Skyrim near the Morrowind and Cyrodiil borders. Rift is situated between many mountain ranges, including the Jerall Mountains and the Velothi Mountains.

By game[]



Stony Basin[]

"Skyrim's southernmost hold has a relatively temperate climate, thanks to northern mountains that block the frigid gales of the Sea of Ghosts, and warming volcanoes in the Velothi Mountains to the east. Its capital is Riften, on the shores of broad Lake Honrich."
―The Rift loading screen[src]

The Rift is a sprawling sea of bright trees and mildly cool temperatures that separate the Rift from the rest of Skyrim. The Stony Basin is the lower half of the region, and it shows. As you move southward towards Riften, the temperature becomes much warmer, and the area begins to rise. The only significant settlement located in the Basin is Shor's Stone (an Ebony mining settlement) and Fort Greenwall, the primary bulwark of the region's capital. The basin is also more forest-like with such sites as the Vernim Woods and Autumnshade Clearing appearing in the area.

Ragged Hills[]

The Throat of the World.

The Ragged Hills is much more mountainous and much colder as it is located at the base of the Throat of the World. Dead in the center of the Hills is Lake Geir, which serves as the primary source of food for the surrounding settlements in the area. A few notable settlements dot the landscape including Ivarstead, Nimalten, and Geirmund's Hall. The town of Ivarstead is the beginning of the pilgrimage to High Hrothgar which begins at The Seven Thousand Steps. West of Nimalten is a pass between the Snow Tower and the Jerall Mountains known as the Lion's Den. This pass connects Nimalten to Helgen.

Smokefrost Peaks[]

The Smokefrost Peaks is the warmest region in the Rift. This has to do with its proximity to the volcanic mountain of Trolhetta and the Velothi Mountains. Those who come from Stonefalls and Fort Virak will end up passing Trolhetta and the Dayspring Canyon. The major settlement in the region is Riften, the capital of both Smokefrost Peaks and the Rift. Riften is built on the shores of Lake Honrich. The Lake is vast, almost as large as Lake Ilinalta in Falkreath Hold. There have been many notable settlements including Riften, Fort Dawnguard, Largashbur, and Skald's Retreat. Riften is a major trading capital in northern Tamriel.



Wolves are the most common predators in any part of northern Tamriel. The ice wolves in northern Skyrim tend to be much more dangerous. Wolves travel in packs and attack all at once. Sometimes they will move in specific directions to confuse their prey and catch them off guard. Once a wolf spots you, they will signal their friends, and they will surround you. Despite their substantial numbers, a wolf is not hard to take down. A couple strikes from a well-sharpened blade can kill off those bastards quickly.[2]


Bears are a somewhat common predator found from the Eastern Reach to Eastmarch. Bears are carnivorous and tend to live alone in mountains and remote caves in the Forest. Bears are large, furry creatures that come in shades of brown, black, and white all depending on the location. Bears are also bulky and can take more hits than a wolf can. They have sharp claws that can tear flesh off anything.[2]

Frostbite Spiders[]

Frostbite Spiders are large arachnids that can be found in the southern Rift. They are more common in the Rift and Falkreath Hold compared to any other part of Skyrim. Sometimes, they come in packs of two while sometimes, they attack alone. They spit the Frostbite Venom from afar and can leap with a massive amount of force. They will wrap up their prey into thick layers of webs to put down any resistance. They will then eat their victim from the webs.


A Spriggan can be found in places like Autumnshade Clearing.

Spriggans are glowing green humanoid creatures with bodies made of wood. They are people of the forest. A Spriggan can take control of a nearby critter and use it against a threat; they can blast a foe with a swarm of insects and use Invisibility to catch unsuspecting prey off guard. When they are damaged, they can restore their health.[3]


Trolls are large burly creatures that stand on their legs somewhat like a feral Imga. Trolls can tower over High Elves if they were not so slouched over. They have fur on their face, shoulders, chest, waist, knees, and hands. They have large spikes growing across their arms, legs, shoulders, and face. They also have three eyes, one on their forehead.[2]


The autumnal forest of the Rift.

As mentioned before, the Rift is a sprawling sea of bright and colorful trees. The Rift has a variety of trees such as Larches, Birches, and Pines each coming in shades of red, orange, or yellow. The Rift was given its name for how different it was compared to the other Old Holds discovered in the Merethic Era. Because of the nearby mountain ranges, the Rift grows all sorts of Mountain Flowers. Other plants including Lavender, Canis Root, Scaly Pholiota, and wild Gourds grow here. In the Fourth Era, two Dunmeri sisters grew Nirnroot in the Ragged Hills.

Farms near Lake Geir and Lake Honrich grow a lot of crops and sells it to the merchants in Riften. Farmers grow plants such as Cabbage, Wheat, Gourds, and Leeks. In the lakes, Nordic Barnacle and White Cap grows inside or under the water.


Riften is the ruling stronghold, and whoever takes control of Riften, they have control of the entire Rift and smaller settlements like Nimalten and Shor's Stone. The Greybeards in High Hrothgar tend to keep to themselves, so they are not affected by this. The Orsimer in Largashbur are also not affected this, the Orcs follow their laws known as the Code of Malacath. The Code is fairly simple: it revolves around the key legislation of no stealing and fighting for honor. Leaders of the stronghold are Chieftains, who are elected by defeating the previous chieftain.

In Riften, the head of the city is known as the Jarl. The title of Jarl is usually hereditary; the title is passed down for generations which is evident with Ulfric Stormcloak, who inherited the title from Hoag Stormcloak. Sometimes, the position of Jarl is given those who proved themselves worthy. Jarls can give people the title of Thane, which is an honorary title for those who have much importance in a city-state.


Mara, the Goddess of Love and Fertility.

Unlike the fiefdoms and baronies in the Iliac Bay, there in no centralized religion throughout the Rift. Riften was commissioned by the Septim Empire to have a temple dedicated to Mara of the Nine Divines located on the western side of Riften, right next to Mistveil Keep. Since Riften owns settlements such as Ivarstead, Shor's Stone, and Nimalten in can be assumed that these townships worship Mara as well. But since there many private settlements in the Rift, that would not be the case.

The Orcish Stronghold of Largashbur worships Malacath, the Daedric Prince of the Sworn Oath and the Bloody Curse. Malacath was believed to be the first Orsimer after Boethiah defeated him and devoured his essence when he was Trinimac. His followers turned into the Orcs and they have followed Malacath since the Merethic Era.[4]

The Greybeards of High Hrothgar remain isolated from the rest of Skyrim in the Throat of the World. The Greybeards are monks that follow the teachings of Jurgen Windcaller, an Ancient Nord that gave the Nords the gift known as the Thu'um. The Greybeards are the remaining few that harness the Thu'um as both a way of life and a martial art lost on the people of Tamriel. The Greybeards are taught by a timeless Dragon known as Paarthurnax who fought alongside Windcaller in their time.

The Thieves Guild is very prominent in Riften, and they worship Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Luck and the Shadows. Nocturnal defines the traits that make Thief and her sphere of influence is what Thieves need to become successful. The Ratways is where the Thieves Guild lurks and they have a statue of Nocturnal sitting in the center. The Nightingales are Nocturnal's personal champions and they have influence through the Rift.


Merethic Era[]

The Atmoran Expedition into the Rift[]

"When finally a way was found, the crew crossed over and into a new land. "The Rift" they called this region, for it was riven by deep canyons and swift-flowing rivers."

After landing on the northern shores of Skyrim from Jylkurfyk in Atmora, the crew of the Fallowfire, led by Captain Gurilda Sharktooth, set forth southwards to discover land in the name of Ysgramor and his Five Hundred Companions. Compared to the other companions, the Fallowfire crew had traveled much more south since they could not find anymore land not occupied by other Atmoran Companions. Gurilda led her group through a series of mountains known as Ysgramor's Teeth to eventually find a new unexplored region they dubbed the Rift.[5]

After slaughtering many Snow Elven settlements throughout the Rift, the Mer mustered an army to fight the Fallowfire crew. The battle lasted for a day and many companions including Gurilda Sharktooth died in the conflict. Vikord One-Eye, the first mate of Gurilda's crew commissioned Fallowstone Hall to be built on the battle site. The hall became the main headquarters of the Companions in the Rift.[5]

First Era[]

The Gauldurson Conflict and Geirmund's Hall[]

The Spirits of the Gauldurson Brothers.

"Consumed by their newfound power, the brothers laid waste to the surrounding villages. So great was the carnage that the High King himself intervened, sending a company of battlemages led by the Archmage Geirmund to subdue the brothers."
Daynas Valen[src]

During the first era, Geirmund was the Arch-Mage of Windhelm. Arch-Mage Gauldur was slain by his three sons, Mikrul Gauldurson, Jyrik Gauldurson, and Sigdis Gauldurson. Geirmund hunted down the three brothers a slew then one by one. His first victim was Mikrul who was killed and sealed away in Folgunthur. The second victim was Jyrik who fought ten veteran mages, he was then overpowered and trapped within Saarthal, which was already half-buried. The last one was Sigdis who fled to the Rift. Sigdis challenged Geirmund to a duel which ended in both dying near Ivarstead. High King Harald erected a tomb which houses both Geirmund's and Sigdis' corpses.[6][7] In the second era, an estate was built atop of the crypt. A festival was held here to honor Geirmund and his triumphs.[8]

Atop the Summit; Forelhost Temple[]

"It sounds impossible, but we appeared to have stumbled upon a massive hold out of the Dragon Cultists, who were believed to be wiped out during the Dragon War."
Skorm Snow-Strider[src]

In 1E 139, Skorm Snow-Strider and his army was sent by High King Harald to vanquish the Snow Elves located in the Rift and across Lake Honrich. By the end of Sun's Dusk, Snow-Strider managed to push back the elves as far as the Smokefrost Peaks. Intel came in reporting about a hidden fortress located on the southern mountain that may be the Snow Elven headquarters. With a band of fighters, Snow-Strider scaled the mountain to find an abandoned Dragon Priest monastery known as Forelhost. Determined to destroy the Falmer, Snow-Strider besieged the ruins and entered the remains. His troops suffered heavy casualties such as the never-ending blizzard and the bad food supply. In about a month, Snow-Strider barely survived, and the remaining warriors fled the premises.[9]

Second Era[]

Main article: The Rift (Online)

The Unified Eastern Kingdom of Skyrim[]

In 2E 431, the Reman Empire had finally fallen, and High King Logrolf was assassinated. The next ruler of Skyrim came with controversy from the grand city states of Solitude and Windhelm. Jarl Svartr of Solitude claimed Logrolf's daughter, Freydis is an illegitimate heir to the throne. This was the first time someone questioned the legitimacy of the Crown of Verity, the ancient crown that determines the High King of Skyrim. The first person to question its judgment was Asurn Ice-Breaker who lost to Kjoric the White. The crown named Freydis the next ruler of Skyrim, while the Moot named Svartr the High King of Skyrim. This caused Skyrim to divided into two different states. The Kingdoms of Eastern Skyrim (Eastmarch, the Rift, the Pale, and the Winterhold) followed Freydis while the Kingdoms of Western Skyrim (Haafingar, Whiterun Hold, Falkreath Hold, and Hjaalmarch) followed Svartr.[10][UL 1]

Extracting the bones of Sinmur in Shor's Stone[]

"The bones of Sinmur the Terrible are entombed here forever. The heroes Fireheart and Darkhammer sacrificed all to end Sinmur's reign of savagery. The Companions will forever remember their names."
The Companions[src]

After defeating Fildgor Orcthane of the Stormfist Clan at Skuldafn, the Ebonheart Pact must deal with the Boneshaper Clan of Reachman who have infiltrated the Redbelly Mine in Shor's Stone. The Vestige was sent in to take down the Boneshaper Clan and to find out why to attack Shor's Stone. To do so, the Vestige must break into the mine which is sealed off by the Boneshapers. After destroying the wards, the Pact entered the mine and fought the Reachman. The Vestige had defeated the Reachman, but it was in vain as the giant of legend, Sinmur, has been restored once again.[11][12]

Retaking Fallowstone Hall[]

The Axe of Wuuthrad.

The Rageclaw Clan of Reachmen led by Chieftain Frostfang had assaulted the legendary Fallowstone Hall to take the almighty axe known as Wuuthrad. Vigrod Wraithbane led the force that retook the Hall. The Vestige rescued survivors from the previous attack and needed to reach the inner vault to secure Wuuthrad. To do so, they needed to summon Sage Tirora to open the keep. Once inside, the Vestige confronted Frostfang and defeated him in combat. Further, into the hall, the Vestige finds the statue of Ysgramor but only to find Wuuthrad gone. There have been reports made that Order of the Black Worm has appeared with the Reachman at the Vernim Woods.[13]

Worm Cult Vermin at Vernim Woods[]

The Ebonheart Pact tracked the Reachmen to Vernim Woods. The Reachman had formed an alliance with the Worm Cult where the cult would resurrect Sinmur in exchange for a blessing from Molag Bal. The leader of the Boneshaper Clan, Stral Blackthroat, had started the ritual in the Vaults of Vernim. A Pact spy named Belron comes up with a plan requiring the hearts of Reachman champions. With the hearts gathered, the Vestige was able to enter the Vaults of Vernim and defeat Blackthroat. With the Reachman beaten, the only force left to fight is the Worm Cult who had taken Wuuthrad and with it, Sinmur's control.[14][15][16]

The Phantom Menace of Nimalten[]

Aera Earth-Turner.

The tension was high in Nimalten, a fairly recent assassination attempt was made on Thane Fjora and has Nimalten on high alert. Aera Earth-Turner, a former refugee during the Daggerfall Covenant's conquest over Bleakrock Isle was in charge of the investigation. The Vestige was sent to investigate Housecarl Betar-Nes' house. The Vestige learned that Sinmur requires spirits to awaken his power. The traveler reported back to Aera who informed them about Golun Drenduf's demise by the Worm Cult. They learn that the Worm Cult plans to use the spirit of dead Companions to fuel Sinmur and that they are gathering in Nimalten Barrow.[17]

Aera had pursued the cult into the barrow and the Vestige followed suite. It was revealed that Fjora's advisor, Borodin, was pulling the strings behind everyone and was responsible for bringing the Worm Cult into Nimalten. Borodin convinced Aera to join him so she could see her dead family once again, so she attempted to assassinate Fjora and killed Golun. The Vestige decided her fate, but it is unknown whether they let her leave or killed her in the barrow. With that out of the way, the Vestige defeated the phantom menace of Nimalten.[17]

The Defiled Tomb in Pinepeak[]

"Stalwart Valdur and Sly Hakra, long may their spirits be honored, fell assaulting the wily half-giant. Many others now trod the blessed pathways to Sovngarde."

The Worm Cult split into two parties that went towards Ivarstead and another towards Grethel's Vigil, the one towards Ivarstead traveled to the hidden cavern of Pinepeak Cavern. A group of Mages Guild scholars came to Pinepeak to check on the tomb of Hakra, one of Ysgramor's Companions. The Worm Cult had forced them out and tried to take the spirit. The Vestige consulted with Hakra who tells them that two urns bind her to Pinepeak. They had to be destroyed to escape from the cult. Eventually, the cult was expelled from Pinepeak and Hakra was freed. She joins the Ebonheart Pact and their fight against the cult and Sinmur.[18]

Unearthing Taarengrav[]

The Worm Cult had dug up an ancient Nordic tomb located southwest of Nimalten. Valdur of Ysgramor's Companions was buried in the tomb of Taarengrav which eventually got buried in the Ragged Hills. How the cult knew of its whereabouts are unknown, but regardless, they dug up Taarengrav in a matter of days. The Companions had set up camp on the northern end of the site. Narir of the Companions ordered the Vestige to enter Taarengrav Barrow and disrupt the ritual that was stealing Valdur's spirit. Inside the barrow, the Vestige unshackled Valdur, preventing the cult from taking his soul. With two members of the original Companions, the Ebonheart Pact is stronger than ever.[19]

The Battle of Honrich Tower[]

Thallik Wormfather of the Worm Cult.

The Worm Cult began to terrorize the Rift countryside starting with the Honrich Tower on the Treva River. Jorunn the Skald-King intervenes and begins to fight the Worm Cult. The Vestige had been given the mission to destroy the Daedric army being manifested in Honrich. The Pact fought a series of Dremora and Harvesters while the Vestige closed portals spewing with Daedra. Valdur opened a portal to Arcwind Point in the Jerall Mountains where Thallik Wormfather of the Worm Cult chapter in Skyrim is performing a ritual with Wuuthrad and Sinmur. The Vestige arrived in the ritual chamber to find that Thallik fused with Sinmur and destroyed Wuuthrad. Wuuthrad would remain broken until the Fourth Era when the Companions in Whiterun would rebuild it to honor their Harbinger.[20]

In the Wake of the Giant; Restoring Riften[]

The abomination of Sinmur and Thallik Wormfather had rampaged across the Smokefrost Peaks. The giant had devastated the city of Riften. The northern wall had been completely torn down, and the surrounding farms were in flames. The Vestige helped in rebuilding the town and protecting citizens from the damage. Captain Viveka is suspicious of the Worm Cult in Riften. Anchorite Garmar resurrected zombies throughout the city and the Vestige disposed of him and the Zombies. The cult had left a shard of Wuuthrad in Riften. After finding the shard, the Pact seeks pieces in places such as Forelhost and the Lost Prospect Mine. The Vestige then travels to the base of Trolhetta and prepares to defeat Thallik Wormfather at the battle atop of Trolhetta.[21][22]

The Battle atop of Trolhetta[]

Jorunn the Skald-King of Eastern Skyrim.

"You have united not just the Nords—the ancient elves and the crafty lizard-folk stand with us as well... A hard road lies ahead of you, but for now safe is victory... Companions, three cheers for King Jorunn and his champions!"

The Worm Cult had already trekked the mountain from the entrance southeast of Riften. The Ebonheart Pact had camp set up at the base of the mountain. Before climbing the cliff, the wards blocking the way to the summit had to be destroyed. The Vestige destroys the wards, and the battle can commence. With the shards of Wuuthrad, the Pact was able to defeat Sinmur and Thallik Wormfather atop the Trolhetta Summit. Ysgramor and his Five Hundred Companions came and congratulated the Ebonheart Pact in their victory.[23][24]

Construction of Fort Dawnguard[]

"Vampires need to be dealt with. Hunted, rooted out, destroyed. Once there was a group dedicated to a similar cause. They called themselves the Dawnguard."

Sometime after the Worm Cult threat in the Rift, the son of the Jarl of Riften contracted Sanguinare Vampiris and eventually turned into a Vampire. The Jarl could not bear to kill his son, so he spent a fortune building Fort Dawnguard to house his son from the outside world. He hired men to guard the keep; these soldiers eventually became the Dawnguard militia. Sometime later, the guards were forced to put the Jarl's son down, and because of this, they were banished from ever returning to the Rift. Despite this exile, they continued to fight Vampires across the region until they eventually split up. Fort Dawnguard became an old abandoned castle.[25]

Third Era[]

The Rift and its cities during the Simulacrum[]

During the Imperial Simulacrum, the borders of the Rift were undefined. Many settlements dotted the landscape or at least its general area. These settlements include Reich Corigate, Sunguard, Greenwall, Nimalten City, and Vernim Wood. At one point, the Eternal Champion had visited the city of Riften in their quest for a piece of the Staff of Chaos.

Fourth Era[]

Main article: The Rift (Skyrim)

The Crossed-Daggers Revolution[]

"For over 40 years, Hosgunn ruled Riften with a black heart and an iron fist. He imposed ridiculous taxes upon his subjects and any merchants that wished to sell their wares within the city walls."
Dwennon Wyndell[src]

In 4E 98 during the Void Nights, the city of Riften was a bustling trade city with people coming from Windhelm from the north and Kragenmoor to the east. Mass confusion sprung up when Masser & Secunda disappeared from the night sky. While this was happening, Hosgunn Crossed-Daggers was named Jarl of Riften when the former Jarl was assassinated. Many believed Hosgunn was responsible and people protested on the streets. He used the city guard to quell the protests and installed oppressive order over Riften.[26]

Hosgunn's rule over Riften has put a lot of force on the people of Riften, he imposed heavy, ridiculous taxes on any passerby in Riften including citizens and kept all the gold to himself. He used the gold and built his wooden palace known as Mistveil Keep which was coined the name, Hosgunn's Folly. While Hosgunn lived in lavish luxury in his palace, the people of Riften lived in squalor. In 4E 129, the people finally revolted. They were able to overwhelm the city guard and set the palace on fire with Hosgunn inside. So ended the reign of Hosgunn Crossed-Daggers.[26]

The Crossed-Daggers revolution was a success to a certain extent. The fire from Hosgunn's Folly spread to the rest of the city, and as a result, Riften was in ruins, a shadow of its former self. In the span of five years, Riften was rebuilt into a smaller version of itself. Even after its destruction, Riften slowly thrives although little traffic flows through the city. Much less than before.[26]

The Skyrim Civil War; Joining the Stormcloaks[]

Laila Law-Giver of Riften.

"Ulfric's a bloody hero. I don't think there's a worthy Nord alive who'd dare argue the point. He's taking the Empire to task and making them answer for their crimes."
Unmid Snow-Shod

In 4E 201, Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak of Windhelm murdered High King Torygg in Solitude and initiated a civil war between his private militia known as the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion in Solitude. The Old Holds of Skyrim sided with Windhelm and Eastmarch; this included the Rift. The Jarl of Riften, Laila Law-Giver had little faith in the Stormcloak Rebellion, but her housecarl, Unmid Snow-Shod was a firm believer in the Stormcloak cause. Fort Greenwall in the north was used as a Stormcloak stronghold.[27]

The Way of the Voice; Pilgrimage to High Hrothgar[]

"The Greybeards are a solitary lot. I don't think they've ever ventured outside their monastery. We get the occasional pilgrim passing through here on their way to the summit, but almost all of them have returned disappointed."

The Last Dragonborn was revealed to be alive after absorbing a Dragons soul near the city of Whiterun. The Greybeards atop of High Hrothgar called the Dragonborn from the monastery and it echoed all over Skyrim. The Dragonborn traveled to Ivarstead to begin the pilgrimage to High Hrothgar. After trekking The Seven Thousand Steps, the Dragonborn met the Greybeards, and they taught them the way of the Voice. With the guidance of the Greybeards, the Dragonborn was able to defeat Alduin, the World-Eater.[28]

Emerging from the Ratways; Enter the Thieves Guild[]

Despite her position as Jarl, Laila Law-Giver did not have great control over Riften. The Thieves Guild and Maven Black-Briar of the Black-Briar Clan had a significant influence on the city although, at that time, the Thieves Guild was not as successful as before. Eventually, the Thieves Guild had influence in places such as Solitude, Markarth and Whiterun. Many of Maven's competitors were put out of business like the Honningbrew Meadery and people who decided to quit working for Maven were killed like the people in Goldenglow Estate on the Isle of Gold. The Thieves Guild had a firm grip on the Black Market, and Maven's Black-Briar Meadery was a booming success.[27]

The Reformed Dawnguard[]

Isran of the Dawnguard.

"So, welcome to Fort Dawnguard. I'm sure you've heard a bit of what we're up against. Powerful vampires, unlike anything we've seen before."

The Volkihar Clan of vampires have begun to emerge throughout Skyrim to the point it became concerning. In the Pale, the Hall of the Vigilant was a group of Daedra Hunters that worship Stendarr, the God of Righteous Mercy. Isran of the Vigilant decided to leave the Vigilant and reformed the Dawnguard in the abandoned Fort Dawnguard. Sometime later, the Hall of the Vigilant was destroyed by the Volkihar Clan. The Last Dragonborn joined the Dawnguard and helped the Dawnguard militia grow to nation level.









  • Eastmarch and the Rift in Online are meant to be much more westward than they are in-game. The Velothi Mountains in the Rift are much closer to the sea and gave the Blacklight region little space. This was done so the Skyrim regions can connect to Stonefalls and the other Pact areas. Otherwise, Stonefalls would have to extend much further to reach Skyrim.



Notice: The following are unlicensed references. They are not copyrighted by a ZeniMax Media company, but can still be considered part of The Elder Scrolls lore and are included for completeness.