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In Skyrim, Civil War is raging between two factions – the Stormcloaks and the Imperials.  To complete the Civil War questline, you must pick a side.  Both paths are similar so it’s just a matter of preference.  To initiate the questline, ask any soldier, citizen or Jarl how they feel about the war.   If they sympathize with the Imperials, your journal will add the miscellaneous objective: “Join the Imperial Legion.”  If they sympathize with the Stormcloaks, your journal will add the miscellaneous objective: “Join the Stormcloak Rebellion.” 

To sign up with the STORMCLOAKS, travel to WINDHELM and enter the PALACE OF THE KINGS.  Inside, you’ll hear Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak, talking to his lieutenant, Galmar Stone-Fist, about the war.  Ask Ulfric if you can join the rebellion and he’ll tell you to speak with Galmar.  If your character is not a Nord, Galmar will ask why you want to join.  No matter how you respond, Galmar gives you a small task to prove your worthiness.  This initiates the quest, “Joining the Stormcloaks.”

J O I N I N G   T H E   S T O R M C L O A K S 

Galmar wants you to kill a particular Ice Wraith on SERPENTSTONE ISLE.  To help with the task, he gives you an Elixir of Resist Cold and three Ice Wraith Banes.  Leave Windhelm and start heading north.  Serpentstone Isle is located in the ice fields, west of Winterhold.  As its name suggests, the isle is home to THE SERPENT STONE, which allows players to paralyze targets once per day using ranged attacks.  To reach the Standing Stone, go to the north or east shore and start climbing.

On top, you’ll see the Ice Wraith.  Use the potions Galmar gave you to have an easier time defeating it.  Report to Galmar afterwards and he’ll have you take an oath.  After repeating the oath, Galmar hands you a Stormcloak uniform and welcomes you to the team.  Upon completing this quest, you automatically fail the “Join the Imperial Legion” objective, and Galmar gives you your next assignment.

T H E   J A G G E D   C R O W N 

Galmar wants you to meet him at KORVANJUND to retrieve the Jagged Crown.  Tell him you’re ready to fight the Imperials and be on your way.  Korvanjund is high in the mountains west of Windhelm.  You can rest at Nightgate Inn on the way there.  If you happened to find “Treasure Map VI” during your travels (found near Volunruud), the chest it points to is on top of the Korvanjund archway by a tree.

Upon reaching the ruins, you’ll see Galmar standing with a squad of Stormcloaks – among them, Ralof from the beginning of the game.  Speak with Galmar when you’re ready to fight the Imperial troops outside.  During the battle, look for a master-locked gate towards the bottom that contains a chest.  Once the Imperials have been defeated, follow the Stormcloaks inside.

Crouch behind the rubble with your comrades and spy on the Imperials up ahead.  When Galmar gives the signal, charge in and attack.  After the skirmish, two soldiers stay behind to guard the entrance.  Keep moving through until Galmar stops at the mouth of a tunnel.  He sends you off to find an alternate route while the other Stormcloaks stay behind.  Use the time alone to loot the ruins, starting with several burial urns in the room. 

Sneak upstairs to a room occupied by Imperials. As soon as you’re detected, the Stormcloaks will rush in to fight, forcing you to follow once again.  After ridding the foes, loot the room and climb the stairs to the east to find a chest and a skeleton holding the Light Armor SKILLBOOK, “Jornibret’s Last Dance”.  Pull a lever near the cliff to forge ahead with your comrades.  After defeating more Imperials, Galmar explains the significance of the dead Draugr in the room.  Go through the tunnel to reach Korvanjund Halls.

Inside, battle Imperials that are still alive and loot dead Draugr as you proceed through the halls.  Dash through the swinging blades on the left to reach a chest.  Use the lever on the floor to stop blades, go back through and continue downstairs where Galmar will comment on some wall carvings.  Approach the circular door at the end and take the EBONY CLAW lying next to it. Open your inventory and examine the Ebony Claw.  Rotate the door rings until they match symbols shown on the Claw.  From top to bottom, they are:  FOX / MOTH / DRAGON.  Once set, activate the keyhole to lower the door. 

In the next room, Galmar asks you to look for a lever that will open the gate.  Enter the door on the right and go upstairs.  Remove a dagger off the pedestal to open a secret passageway.  Follow it down to a chest.  Stand to the right while opening it to avoid a spear trap.  After collecting its contents, exit the cave and follow the catwalks across to an alcove with another chest.  Look for a lever inside.  Pulling it opens the gate below but also awakens Draugrs.  Go down and help the Stormcloaks fight the undead enemies.  After killing them, proceed to a door and enter Korvanjund Crypt.

Follow your comrades through the tunnel into a room with a throne.  On it, sits a Draugr Deathlord (or similarly leveled boss).  Approaching the throne awakens the boss, and causes more Draugrs to rise out of their coffins.  Kill the lot of them and loot the boss to obtain the JAGGED CROWN.  Galmar tells you to bring the Crown to Ulfric while he stays behind with his men.  Before leaving, explore the chamber.  In addition to a boss chest, you’ll find a word wall.  Read it to learn a new word in the Dragon Shout “SLOW TIME”.

Climb the stairs and take the shortcut back to Korvanjund Temple.  Once outside, return to Windhelm and give the Jagged Crown to Ulfric.  Note that you can betray Ulfric and bring the Crown to the General Tulius instead, causing you to fail the quest and change your allegiance to the Imperials.  This will be your last opportunity to switch sides.  If you remained loyal to the Stormcloaks, Ulfric gives you his WAR AXE to deliver to the Jarl of Whiterun.  This ends the current quest and begins, “Message to Whiterun”.

M E S S A G E   T O   W H I T E R U N 

The Jarl of Whiterun has remained on the fence concerning the Civil War.  Ulfric wants you to present his War Axe as a less-than-subtle hint of what will happen to Whiterun if the Jarl refuses to back the Stormcloaks.  Travel to Dragonsreach and give the weapon to Jarl Balgruuf.  After consulting with his advisors, Balgruuf regrettably decides to side with the Imperials.  He returns the axe to you and begins drafting a letter to the Imperials requesting their protection.

Return to Ulfric and give him the bad news.  He tells you to meet Galmar at the camp outside Whiterun to join in the hostile takeover.  This ends the current quest and begins “Battle for Whiterun”.

B A T T L E   F O R   W H I T E R U N 

Report to Galmar at the WHITERUN MILITARY CAMP, which is southwest of the city, and you’ll see the battle is already underway.  After rallying his troops, Galmar leads the charge in breaking through the enemy barricade to get inside the city.  Rush in with your comrades and smash the barricade, while Imperial archers and Whiterun guards attack.  Enemies respawn so don’t waste time trying to kill all of them.  Fight only those that prevent you from moving forward.

Once the barricade is gone, you have to lower the drawbridge.  To do this, use rubble near the wooden bridge to climb up to the walkways.  Fight off soldiers as you make your way over to a set of levers.  Pull either one to lower the drawbridge, allowing Stormcloaks to charge into the city.  Join them in battle, smashing barriers and enemies, as you head up to Dragonsreach.

Once inside, defeat soldiers on the first floor of the castle then go upstairs.  The Jarl will be there with his housecarl, Irileth, and several guards.  Fight them all.  When Balgruuf’s health reaches about 25%, he’ll surrender.  Watch the scene that follows.  When it ends, Vignar Gray-Mane becomes Jarl of Whiterun and you are now his Thane.

Galmar instructs you to return to Windhelm to bring news of the victory to Ulfric.  Speak with Ulfric and he’ll reward you with an enchanted weapon for liberating Whiterun.  This ends the quest and begins “Liberation of Skyrim”.

L I B E R A T I O N   O F   S K Y R I M 

Having liberated Whiterun, you must now conquer the remaining holds in Skyrim by completing a series of missions for Ulfric.  This quest tracks your overall progress in the Civil War and remains active until all nine holds are controlled by the Stormcloaks.  Note that Eastmarch (Windhelm) does not need to be liberated since it’s already controlled by the Stormcloaks.

The order in which Ulfric offers the “Liberation of Skyrim” quests varies, and the amount he offers depends on whether or not you finished “Season Unending” in the main questline.  The list below shows quests that will definitely be offered as well as quests that are conditional:

MANDATORY QUESTS

  • The Battle for Fort Hraggstad
  • Battle for Solitude

CONDITIONAL QUESTS

  • Rescue From Fort Neugrad
  • Compelling Tribute
  • The Battle for Fort Sungard
  • A False Front
  • The Battle for Fort Snowhawk
  • The Battle for Fort Dunstad
  • The Battle for Fort Kastav
  • The Battle for Fort Greenwall

The remainder of this guide is organized by the initial allegiance of the Holds when you first arrive in Skyrim.  If Holds have changed hands as a result of other factors (e.g. “Season Unending” peace negotiations), then skip down to the applicable section.  Speak with Ulfric to get your first objective.

R E S C U E   F R O M   F O R T   N E U G R A D

NOTE:  You will not receive this quest if the Stormcloaks gained Falkreath during the quest “Season Unending”.

After speaking with Ulfric, report to Galmar at the FALKREATH STORMCLOAK CAMP, which is east of Helgen.  Once there, Galmar tells you to rescue some Stormcloaks being held by Imperials in FORT NEUGRAD.  Go to the staging area near the fort and speak with Ralof to learn that there’s a cave under the lake leading into the fort’s prison.  The objective is to sneak inside without being seen by Imperials in the courtyard.  If you fail, the Stormcloaks will have to raid the Fort, losing men in the process.  To successfully reach the cave without being detected, do not approach the fort from the front.  Instead, sneak along the right side and quickly enter the water near the small pier.  Drinking an Invisibility potion might help.

Once in the water, swim down to the sunken boat and unlock a partially hidden chest.  Gather its contents then swim past the boat to emerge in the cave.  Sneak through the passage to the fort’s prison and kill the Imperials posted there.  Loot bodies to get the FORT NEUGRAD PRISON KEY and use it to free the four Stormcloaks who dash to a chest containing their weapons and armor.  Once outfitted, talk to any of them and they’ll ask what to do next.  You can choose to have the group follow you or tell them to wait until you’ve cleared the fort.

To assure that all four prisoners remain alive, have them wait in the prison until you’ve cleared the rest of Fort Neugrad.  Or take your chances and have them charge into the courtyard with you.  Ralof’s men will join the fray as soon as you attack any of the Imperials posted outside.  Once the courtyard is cleared, Ralof will help you clear out the interior of the fort.  If you told the prisoners to wait, fetch them and they’ll join the others outside.  Note that you’ll find a unique treasure map on the roof.  The FORT NEUGRAD TREASURE MAP leads to a chest southeast of Helgen.

When ready, sneak inside the fort with Ralof.  Kill all Imperials you come across and loot rooms as you go, with your ultimate target being the Fort’s Commander who isn’t all that hard to defeat.  The Light Armor SKILLBOOK, “Jornibret’s Last Dance” is on a table in one of the side rooms if you haven’t read it already.  After taking over the fort, your journal will update.  Speak with Ralof, who tells you to report to Ulfric. 

Having liberated Falkreath Hold, Dengeir of Stun becomes the new Jarl of Falkreath.  This ends one phase of the “Liberation of Skyrim” quest and the next one begins as soon as you talk to Ulfric.

C O M P E L L I N G   T R I B U T E

NOTE:  You will not receive this quest if the Stormcloaks took Markarth during the quest “Season Unending”.

After reporting to Ulfric, meet Galmar Stone-Fist at the REACH STORMCLOAK CAMP, which is near the river northeast of Karthwasten.  Galmar wants you to go to Markarth, find evidence that Rarek (the Jarl’s steward) is worshipping Talos and use it against him.

Travel to MARKARTH and enter Understone Keep.  Head towards the throne and turn right to find Rarek’s quarters.  Instead of going upstairs, turn right and lockpick the door on the left without getting caught.  Once inside, steal the inscribed Amulet of Talos from the dresser.  Leave the room and bring the amulet to Rarek.  Follow him to his quarters to talk privately.  Ask him if you can reach an agreement and he’ll mention a shipment of valuable goods heading to Solitude. 

Return to Galmar at the Reach Camp and tell him about the shipment.  He plans to ambush the wagon and tells you to meet his squad by the road.  Travel to the location marked on your map and speak with Ralof to learn that the wagon has broken down.  He wants you to go up the road and distract the Imperials so that the Stormcloaks can take out sentries posted above.  You can go with his plan or or tell him to wait while you take care of the Imperials yourself.

If you decide to go with Ralof’s plan, sneak over to the rock with your comrades.  After they stealthily eliminate one of the sentries, head towards the Imperials and start attacking.  As soon as you engage them, your fellow Stormcloaks will open fire.  Once all of the Imperials are dead, unlock the chest on the cart to grab the goods.  Talk to Ralof afterwards and he’ll tell you to head back to Galmar at the Reach Camp.

T H E   B A T T L E   F O R    F O R T   S U N G A R D 

NOTE:  You will not receive this quest if the Stormcloaks took Markarth during the quest “Season Unending”.

Speak with Galmar Stone-Fist at the Reach Camp, and he’ll tell you to join the attack on FORT SUNGARD.  Head north to meet your fellow Stormcloaks.  As soon as you approach, they will dash towards the fort.  Break down barricades and help your comrades defeat all Imperials both inside and outside the fort.  As usual, loot rooms along the way.  In particular, look for a Smithing SKILLBOOK, “The Last Scabbard of Akrash”, on a table at the top of the Muster and open a couple of chests in the hall.  In the second part of the fort, there’s an alchemy lab on the bottom floor and a room with a Shrine of Akatosh on top.  Receiving its blessing cures all diseases and magicka regenerates 10% faster for 8 hours.  Look for an adept-locked chest there as well. 

Inside the Annex, you’ll find a smithing area and two chests in the Commander’s quarters.  Grab the Fort Sungard Jail key from a table and look for a chest in between the spiral staircases near a moonstone ore cart.  The final tower to explore is the Oubliette, which leads down to the fort’s prison.  At the bottom, there’s a long drop that can seriously injure you so be careful.  The chamber below contains a corpse and the Pickpocket SKILLBOOK, “Guide to Better Thieving” - worth getting if you haven’t read it already.  Use the secret exit to get back up to the fort.

After killing all of the Imperials at Fort Sungard, your journal will update.  Speak with Ralof, who tells you to report to Ulfric.  Having liberated the Reach, Thongvor Silver-Blood becomes the new Jarl in Markarth.  This ends one phase of the “Liberation of Skyrim” quest and the next one begins as soon as you talk to Ulfric.

A   F A L S E   F R O N T 

NOTE:  You will not receive this quest if the Stormcloaks gained Morthal during the quest “Season Unending”.

Ulfric tells you to report to Galmar Stone-Fist at the HJAALMARCH STORMCLOAK CAMP, which is northeast of Morthal.  Speak with Galmar to learn that you must intercept documents from an Imperial Courier so that they can be falsified.  Galmar indicates that the Imperial Courier travels between Dragon Bridge and Rorikstead, usually resting overnight at the inns. 

Dragon Bridge is your best bet.  Travel there and enter the Four Shields Tavern.  If the Courier is inside, pickpocket him at the bar without getting caught.  If he has already left, persuade the innkeeper to tell you where he’s gone.  If persuasion fails, either intimidate Falda or bribe her to get the information.  At this point, you can either wait for the Imperial Courier to return or track him down on the road.  

To avoid bounties, dash to the quest marker and confront him on a secluded road.  Since the Courier will not give you anything willingly, kill him and loot his body to obtain the IMPERIAL DOCUMENTS.  Take the Courier’s clothes as well.

Bring the documents to Galmar.  After he falsifies them, he instructs you to deliver them to Legate Taurinus Duillis in Morthal.  Put on the courier’s outfit and go to Morthal.  Enter Highmoon Hall and give the forged documents to Taurinus in his quarters.  While here, loot the hall.  Notable items include the Lockpicking SKILLBOOK, “The Locked Room”.  Return to Galmar afterwards.  Give him your report to end the quest and automatically begin “The Battle for Fort Snowhawk”.

T H E   B A T T L E   F O R    F O R T   S N O W H A W K 

NOTE:  You will not receive this quest if the Stormcloaks gained Morthal during the quest “Season Unending”.

Galmar wants you to join troops on a ridge south of FORT SNOWHAWK to begin the takeover.  After meeting up with your team, kill all of the Imperials at the fort, including reinforcements that arrive during battle.  Clear barricades and sweep the courtyard, then do the same inside.  You can stand back and let your allies do most of the fighting or rush in to protect them.  Explore the fort for treasure either during battle or after it’s been captured.

In addition to chests, notable items include a Block SKILLBOOK titled, “A Dance in Fire, Book II” and a key that unlocks the fort’s central chamber.  The prison tower contains very little so most of your fighting will take place outside.  When all of the Imperials are defeated, your journal updates.  Having liberated Hjaalmarch, Sorli the Builder becomes the new Jarl in Morthal.  This ends one phase of the “Liberation of Skyrim” quest and the next one begins as soon as you talk to Ulfric.

T H E   B A T T L E   F O R   F O R T   D U N S T A D 

NOTE:  You will only receive this quest if you gave Dawnstar to the Imperials during the quest “Season Unending”.

After reporting to Ulfric, meet Galmar Stone-Fist at the PALE STORMCLOAK CAMP (the camp only appears on your map if the Rift was previously given to the Imperials).  Galmar wants you to join troops in taking back FORT DUNSTAD, which is south of Dawnstar. 

After meeting up with your team, kill all of the Imperials at the fort.  Clear barricades and sweep the courtyard, then do the same inside.  You can stand back and let your allies do most of the fighting or rush in to protect them.  Explore the fort for treasure either during battle or after it’s been captured.  In addition to chests, notable items inside include the Heavy Armor SKILLBOOK, “2920, MidYear, v6”. 

When all of the Imperials are defeated, your journal updates.  Having retaken the Pale, Skald returns as Jarl in Dawnstar.  This ends one phase of the “Liberation of Skyrim” quest and the next one begins as soon as you talk to Ulfric. 

T H E   B A T T L E   F O R   F O R T   K A S T A V 

NOTE:  You will only receive this quest if you gave Winterhold to the Imperials during the quest “Season Unending”.

After reporting to Ulfric, meet Galmar Stone-Fist at the WINTERHOLD STORMCLOAK CAMP (which only appears on your map if Winterhold was previously given to the Imperials).  Galmar wants you to join troops in taking back FORT KASTAV, which is in the mountains between Windhelm and Winterhold.

After meeting up with your team, kill all of the Imperials at the fort.  Clear barricades and sweep the courtyard, then do the same inside.  You can stand back and let your allies do most of the fighting or rush in to protect them.  Explore the fort for treasure either during battle or after it’s been captured.  In addition to chests, notable items inside include the Block SKILLBOOK, “Warrior”.

When all of the Imperials are defeated, your journal updates.  Having retaken Winterhold, Korir returns as Jarl.  This ends one phase of the “Liberation of Skyrim” quest and the next one begins as soon as you talk to Ulfric.

T H E   B A T T L E   F O R   F O R T   G R E E N W A L L

NOTE:  You will only receive this quest if you gave Riften to the Imperials during the quest “Season Unending”.

After reporting to Ulfric, speak with Galmar Stone-Fist at the RIFT STORMCLOAK CAMP (the camp only appears on your map if the Rift was previously given to the Imperials).  Galmar wants you to join troops in taking back FORT GREENWALL, which is south of Shor’s Stone.

After meeting up with your team, kill all of the Imperials at the fort.  Clear barricades and sweep the courtyard, then do the same inside.  You can stand back and let your allies do most of the fighting or rush in to protect them.  Explore the fort for treasure either during battle or after it’s been captured.  In addition to chests, notable items inside include the One-Handed SKILLBOOK, “Mace Etiquette”. 

When all of the Imperials are defeated, your journal updates.  Having retaken the Rift, Laila Law-Giver returns as Jarl.  This ends one phase of the “Liberation of Skyrim” quest and the next one begins as soon as you talk to Ulfric.

T H E   B A T T L E   F O R   F O R T   H R A G G S T A D 

After reporting to Ulfric, speak with Galmar Stone-Fist at HAAFINGAR STORMCLOAK CAMP, which overlooks the Karth River southwest of Solitude.  Galmar instructs you to meet up with troops that will be taking over FORT HRAGGSTAD, which is north of Dragon Bridge.

After meeting up with your team, kill all of the Imperials at the fort.  Clear barricades and sweep the courtyard then do the same inside.  You can stand back and let your allies do most of the fighting or rush in to protect them.  Explore the fort for treasure either during battle or after it’s been captured.  In addition to chests, notable items inside include the Archery SKILLBOOK, “The Gold Ribbon of Merit”.

When all of the Imperials are defeated, your journal updates.  Instead of reporting to Ulfric, return to Galmar Stone-Fist and ask him what else needs to be done.  Galmar tells you it’s time seize control of Solitude and Ulfric himself will be there.  This starts the final Civil War quest: "Battle for Solitude".
 
B A T T L E   F O R   S O L I T U D E 

Travel to SOLITUDE and you’ll see that the battle is already underway.  Ulfric Stormcloak will be waiting for you there, along with Galmar and a group of Stormcloaks.  Speak with Ulfric then watch as he gives a rousing speech outside of Castle Dour.  When he’s finished, lead the charge into the city.

Kill all Imperials that get in your way but don’t dwell in any spot for too long, since they only respawn.  Cut through waves of enemies and destroy barricades, knowing that it’s impossible for Ulfric or Galmar to die.  They will, however, become hostile if you accidentally hit them too many times.  Your principle goal is to find General Tulius and force him to surrender.  The gate to Castle Dour’s training yard is closed so move further into the city.  When you reach the residential district, climb the hill on the left to get inside Imperial headquarters.

Upon entering Castle Dour, Ulfric and Galmar automatically join you.  Locate General Tulius and Legate Rikke.  Ulfric tries to reason with them but fails, so fight the duo until Legate dies and Tulius surrenders.  Ulfric asks if you’d like to deal the finishing blow and hands you his SWORD OF DEVOURING.  Use it to kill Tulius or have Ulfric do the honor. 

Once Tulius is dead, Ulfric asks you to stand by his side while he gives his victory speech.  Agree to do so and follow him outside.  Stand next to him as he addresses the crowd.  During the speech, Elisif the Fair swears loyalty to Ulfric and remains Jarl of the hold.  Having sided with the Stormcloaks, you can return to Windhelm and buy property in that city, as well as earning the title of Thane.

This finishes "Battle for Solitude" and, more importantly, the "Liberation of Skyrim" quests.  Congratulations on completing the Civil War questline!

 

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