The Companions of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim are generally considered to be one of the weaker factions in the game, at least conceptually. This is because the group’s associated questline isn’t as compelling as those of the Thieves Guild or the Dark Brotherhood. It’s also not as long as a campaign. Perhaps one of the faction’s few perks is that it has some of the more memorable NPCs in the game, like Farkas Vilkas and Aela the Huntress.
But even with these characters, the companions make an appearance Skyrim still falls short, mainly due to the underdeveloped antagonist of the quest line. The Silver Hand just isn’t an interesting enemy faction, which is a shame as the group could have improved the companion’s story.
The story behind Skyrim’s Silver Hand faction
The Silver Hand is a group of werewolf hunters out to kill the members of the Circle. The player encounters them early in the fellowship questline when they set off with Farkas to retrieve a Wuuthrad Battleaxe Fragment Skyrim. During the quest, members of the Silver Hand appear and attack Farkas, forcing him to transform into a werewolf and eliminate them. It is at this point that the player first learns of the lycanthropy rituals taking place among the higher-ranking members of the Fellowship.
How the Silver Hand found out about the Inner Circle of Companions is unknown. However, it is immediately clear that they want to abolish the group. At some point in the quest line, it is revealed that the Silver Hand is hunting the Fragments of Wuuthrad and trying to get to them before the companions can. Her motivations for doing this – aside from taunting the companions – are unclear, but it does suggest that the faction is specifically targeting the Circle.
The Silver Hand is led by a randomly generated NPC named Krev the Skinner, so they don’t have a unique dialogue Skyrim. However, the generic Silver Hand NPCs tend to yell things like, “Ysgramor would be ashamed of you!” and “I’ll rip you to pieces, mate!” when fighting the player. This indicates a tumultuous history between the two factions.
Some members of the Fellowship even suspect that the Silver Hand is a splinter group of the Fellowship, and there is reason to believe. Books from the Songs of Return series can be looted by some enemy Silver Hand corpses, and this one Skyrim Books tell stories about Ysgramor and the Five Hundred Companions. It’s an oddly specific detail that only the enemies under the Silver Hand faction have, and while this theory can’t be confirmed, it would certainly explain how the faction knew about the Circle and why they want to retake Wuuthrad.
It is also worth noting that some members of the Silver Hand are said to have fought alongside the Vigilants of Stendarr. This is revealed in a note from the Unholy Vigil quest (although it’s part of a Skyrim Creation Club add-on, so whether it’s really canon is debatable). This may seem strange as the Silver Hand and the Wardens of Stendarr are factions with very different methods. The Silver Hand is nothing more than a group of bandits, while the Vigilants are holy but militant vigilante groups. However, both try to exterminate the dangerous creatures – mainly werewolves Skyrimso their motivations are somewhat aligned.
Missed Opportunities in the Skyrim Fellowship Questline
One of the most noticeable issues with the companion quest line is the lack of focus on the Silver Hand and its motivations. Throughout the campaign, the player can only interact with members of the Companions in Skyrim, while all Silver Hand NPCs are generic enemies. So everything the player learns about the Silver Hand, they learn from the companions – meaning their perspective on the werewolf hunting party is biased from the start.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great setup for a twist that reveals the true nature of a supposedly antagonistic group. However, the trend continues until the end of the questline, so the Silver Hand never really gets enough backstory to explain why the members hate them Skyrim Companions and Lycanthropy. This makes the faction appear as nothing more than a low-level bandit group that haphazardly decided to target the werewolves of the coven.
How the Silver Hand Faction could have been improved
Improving the companion quest line would require a lot of work. First and foremost, the campaign should delve more into the Silver Hand faction. This would mean that more is specified Skyrim NPCs for the party – ones that actually have a unique dialogue about the history and motivation of the Silver Hand. All indications are that the Silver Hand is a splinter faction, so the player should be able to learn this directly from its members. Perhaps Krev or another unique NPC should lament how the fellows in Whiterun have besmirched their honor with the blood of beasts.
Explaining the backstory of the Silver Hand then leads to the next path to improve the companion questline Skyrim – Let the player choose which faction to join. Now that the player can learn both sides, they can choose which faction to support. This allows for branching opportunities and diverse campaign completions. One ending could be similar to the game’s canon ending, leaving the companions and circle intact. Another ending could see the Silver Hand rightfully taking over the Fellowship’s Guild. Meanwhile, a third ending could see both factions reach a compromise.
This third ending would put the spotlight on Kodlak Whitemane as he is one of the members of the coven that wants to get rid of the beast blood. With its help, the player was able to facilitate dialogue between the two groups, which eventually led to the companions finding a cure for lycanthropy, thus reuniting the two groups. It might even lead to a confrontation with Skyrims Aela the Huntress, who insists on remaining a lycanthrope.
Overall, a little lore behind each faction is enough, and the emphasis on player choice goes much further. The Silver Hand faction could have been a compelling group to challenge the supposedly honorable Companions. Unfortunately, the game didn’t do it justice, resulting in a generic and shallow quest line. Hopefully The Elder Scrolls 6 does it better with his faction quest lines.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is now available for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
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https://gamerant.com/elder-scrolls-skyrim-silver-hand-faction-companion-questline-underutilized/ Skyrim’s Silver Hand faction was barely utilized