The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim: The Best Followers

In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, let’s face it.. not all followers are created equal. Some (or should I say most) followers jump right into the fray, and die rather quickly. Some have no business getting hit at all, let alone jumping into a pit of five Draugr’s to get beat up on all at once.

I’ve used quite a few of the followers in the game, and I have to say that in my experiences, the mages are by far the best followers out there, and here’s why..

Why Mages Are The Best Followers

Power – The power of the mage is not 100% dependent on you crafting the best equipment for them like the melee followers. They already have powerful spells, and they are ranged so they don’t get beat up on a whole lot. You’ll find that with the power of a mage, you don’t need a tank to absorb damage because the fights really won’t last that long.

Range – Mages are powerful ranged characters, so they can literally have most melee enemies dead before they even reach you. If you’re a ranged character as well, you’ll be clearing out dungeons without much effort, and hardly taking a scratch in the process.

Smarts – I’m sure you’ve noticed that your AI followers aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, but mages are pretty smart when it comes to battles. They use fire on trolls (most trolls are weak to fire), they use lightning on mages (to drain their magicka), and so on.

Finding Mage Followers

There aren’t a whole lot of mage followers in the game honestly, which is somewhat disappointing. There are a couple that you can hire very early in the game though without doing any quests for them.

Marcurio can be found in The Bee and Barb in Riften. You’ll typicaly find him near one of the entrances sitting on a bench. He costs 500 gold to hire, but he’s worth every penny. He’s a pro at destruction magic, and can kill most enemies within a few hits.

Belrand can be found in The Winking Skeever in Solitude and can also be hired for 500 gold. He boasts himself as a “spellsword” and used one-handed attacks and magic as well. Belrand is ok, but I don’t feel that you get the “bang for your buck” like you do from Marcurio.

There are a few other mages that can follow you for free, but you’ll have to do quests for them. Brelyna, Onmund, and J’zargo can all be recruited in the College of Winterhold after doing quests for them. Illia can be found in the Darklight Tower south-west of Riften, but you’ll have to kill her mother to convince her (it’s ok, she wants you to). Erandur is found in Dawnstar and will follow you once you figure out their “nightmare” issues. Eola can be found in the Hall of the Dead in Markarth, and will follow you after clearing Reachcliff Cave for her.. and if you decide to be a cannibal (steep price to pay if you ask me.)

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  1. Mish says

    I guess I’m not as hardcore as y’all cause I have no idea what all this leveling stuff is, but I use eola. I gave her awesomely enchanted and mega upgraded glass armor and she’s only died on me the one time when I was facing six drougr deathlords (which suuuuuucked). But she uses spells bows and the dawnguard upgraded crossbow which I enchanted with a paralysis spell as well as any one handed weapons I give her. She sneaks really well and doesn’t care if I steal or murder which is good cause I sort of jump in and out of the dark side in skyrim.
    The WOOOORST follower ever is Erik the slayer. He is an idiot. He will whine about going into caves and ask to leave and scolds me about everything. He’s worthless and useless. Having a horse is a better follower. But I love eola. She’s perfect an looks SEEEEEXY in my nightingale and dark brotherhood armor. ;)

    • says

      Followers have maximum levels, that’s really all I was referencing. As you progress through the game, you’ll notice that some followers die much easier than others at a certain point, which is probably because you outgrew their max level. Eola for example is maximum level 30, so the farther you get past level 30 the easier she’ll die. This is a good page of reference for finding good followers:

      The highest level followers in the game are the Dark Brootherhood Initiates, and a couple of the Dawnguard followers (Celann, Durak, and Ingjard).
      Donny (admin) recently posted..Knights of Pen and Paper – Unlockable ClassesMy Profile

  2. bob says

    I heard that when getting a new follower in a new city is best because they match you’re level. Well somehow I didn’t even know Riften EXISTED until I read this. So I guess the dude there is going to be power full? I’m level 81 :-)

  3. Bob spiot says

    I have 7 followers all at once serana, barbus, shadowmere, assassin, ghost assassin, flame antorach, and Sceolang my dog!

      • Arkhaic says

        Pretty sure those aren’t cheats, just different types of followers:
        Serana/DB follower: If DB is recruited first Serana can be a follower,
        Spectral Assassin/Flame Atronach: Legal with twin souls perk
        Barbus/Sceolang: Quest animal follower, stacks with animal follower
        Shadowmere: Horse,
        With the possible exception of Serana these are all different types of followers, or are otherwise legal with perks. (Serana seems to be using the glitch, as I’m pretty sure the game counts Serana as a /dog/ for some reason if she is a quest follower, correct me if I’m wrong)

  4. Ragnar the Red says

    Cicero was the best follower i ever had, though probably because his rants are funny. He’s already equipped with an ebony dagger and is a good sneak. And followers can’t die unless you kill them, I think. Also; don’t give a follower a dragon mask. J’zargo disappeared with Henvarok and i looked everywhere for him, because i had the other 7.

  5. William says

    Well… I knew most of the followers I meet sucked, but I didn’t think it was because they don’t level up. Pfft, and to think Lydia was starting to improve. -_- Guess it was just the armor improvements I was putting on her.
    But, I found my follower, and lover, though I don’t think it works that way. ^_^ Eola = M’lady of Magika, Sneaky Swordswoman, and can even whip out a bow along side my archer! Oh, and did I mention? She also summons. :D GO FIRE ARCHONACH! <3

  6. kane palmer says

    use the wabberjack on your companions till they turn into an animal punch them and they will be at there lvl cap

  7. Displacedmic says

    As stupid as the follower AI is – i’d take that times a million over the atrocity that is the Skyrim horse.

    Horses in this game are the worst.
    How did they fail so hard at something that Ocarina of Time damn near perfected 15 years ago?

    the horse will vanish randomly
    if you are “off roading” the horse will spring half the map away the second you dismount
    the horse can’t gallop for more than 10 seconds or so
    you can’t do anything while mounted. fine – they didn’t give us horseback sword swinging or even horseback archery – that sucks but i guess you can’t have everything. but we have to dismount to talk to someone? seriously?

    it’s unresponsive. it dies easily. it is expensive (although getting cash in skyrim is a joke). it is stupid. it is slow.

    it’s simply not fun.

    But the absolute worst part of the horse mechanics is that it friggin fights. what could they possibly have been thinking making the horse do anything other than stay the heck out of it? it gets involved in almost every fight you’re in – and more often than not gets itself killed.

    the mobs also swarm it – even after you dismount. which, by the way, takes an eternity to do. Why on earth are 8 forsworn attacking my horse 30 feet away when they just saw me shout one of their buddies off a cliff and chop off another one’s head?

    it’s obvious they put almost zero effort into the horse mechanics. i don’t even use them anymore. the only time i use a horse is if i’m overburdened and i’m near a stormcloak or imperial i just steal a horse so i can fast travel back to whiterun. the rest of the time i just walk everywhere.

    why don’t i use my follower you ask? well i would, but he’s gotten lost for some reason and no amount of waiting lets him catch up.

    ug- i hate skyrim horses. you think it’s annoying that you’re no longer getting sneak bonus on your arrows because your follower ran out ahead and blocked your LoS to the target? Well it’s worse when your follower AND your horse do it.

    • says

      lol.. I agree completely friend. I stopped using my horse after it thought it was a grand idea to haul off and start attacking a dragon, and got one-shot with a fire breath. I had the exact same issues.. slow dismounting, low health, attacking mobs then running away in some random direction so I had to comb the area for 15 minutes looking for the stupid thing. You’d at least think that they would put in a horse call right? Maybe make them upgradable to be war horses?

    • William says

      Hey, don’t forget, horses are good for one thing: They can climb a near-90 degree angle like a boss, while you’re stuck jumping side to side until you find that one spot that lets you move up a foot. xD But, other than that, there is one horse that is invincible, unless you jump off a cliff with him: Shadowmere.

  8. spike says

    btw the only fortify unarmed enchant in the game may be found on the gloves of the pugilist worn by gian the fist in the ratway of riften. add to your khajiit follower and watch their awesome claws take down your enemies

  9. spike says

    some followers do sneak better than others (muffle and light armor helps) , but every one i`ve used automatically goes into battle once you`re spotted and won`t go back in hiding. you might get the first 1 or 2 shots from sneak if enemy not alerted. my “godz-illia” throws ice spikes/spears from a distance and will go nuts with a staff of fireballs if you give her one(stay out of her way if you`re not magik resistant). when the enemy gets close in a melee, she`ll often give them a beat down with her bare knuckles !

  10. spike says

    my build for “godz-illia the battling bikini babe” . admitting to using fortify restoration / fortify enchanting loop to reach cap/insanely high numbers on armor rating and enchants. 1. helmet with fortify magika / breathe underwater 2. leather boots with muffle/resist shock 3. leather bracers with fortify magika / fortify unarmed ! 3. necklace with fortify health/fortify healing rate 4. ring with resist fire/frost 5. spellbreaker shield 6. any 1h weapon(she will RARELY use it anyway). add all to illia with any armor , then remove armor and she`s ready to rock !

  11. spike says

    agreed mages are best for ranged support primarily because of the difficulties in getting your archer/fighter to consistently use your improved bow over their default one. good bow + iron arrow only will work for a bit but default hunting bow comes out if follower shot with another kind of arrow OR often after fast-travel or other transition. this occurs also when your mage has a bow so check often to see what they are using or just give up like i did and give them daedric arrows and live with the hit point reduction

  12. spike says

    from what i understand , illia is a one-shot follower and once she leaves your service , she can`t be recruited again. she will be with the blades if you brought her in , otherwise back in darklight tower. sure gonna miss her when she`s gone. SAVE OFTEN !

  13. spike says

    always buff your follower with as much fortify health and resist magic as you can pin to them to make up for lack of leveling. illia is still watching my back with her ice spikes/spears at lvl 67 and can slay dragon priests solo. as a lark , i pinned fortify unarmed on a pair of gauntlets i gave her and she promptly beat a forsworn ravager to death with her fists. what a hoot ! best battle so far was against a dragon on a big flight of steps with illia at the top and a volkihar vampire dead thrall with me below. while the thrall and i were throwing fire bolts and chain lightning at the beast , illia clocked it with a left hook that sent it tumbling !

  14. LndR182 says

    Thanks, I had Lydia for a while and she actualy lasted long enough, I picked her up at lvl6 and she lasted until lvl18. I just don’t have her anymore cause I got tired of her, I wanted a stealthier follower.
    So I got Erandur and I quite like him even though he pulls out the Elven Sword I gave him (just in case) to much during fights.

  15. Fred says

    I don’t know about the mage followers because I haven’t tried them, but I like Faendal, I met him practically right away, and he has leveled up with me. He very rarely runs into battle preferring to sit back and snipe with arrows, and because I’m playing as a stealth type character, he will not usually attack until after I do, unless we get spotted. However, I’m playing as a good character, and his drawback is if he sees you commit a murder or attempted murder, he will attack you, but he apparently could care less if you steal.

  16. Paulette says

    Thanks! I just went and got Marcurio because Lydia has died on me like 10 times and I keep reloading to get her back. Finally she died at a fort and I just said fuck it, she can’t roll with me anymore. I looked up suggestions for followers, saw you suggested Marcurio, and omg he’s soooo much better than Lydia. I like that he’s a mage so he doesnt just run right into battle and actually stands back and tried to kill the baddies with magic. I love him!

  17. brianluk says

    I summon two dragon priest and i have two dogs and illia and myself uses bound with 139 damage. it is just op, i can kill alduin without hitting him myself easily

  18. Chrono says

    You should also note the mage at the shrine of Asura, if you complete the Daedric Lord’s guest and choose Asura’s Star over The Black Star, she becomes a companion. She is very smart in combat, using destruction AND conjuration, and is completely free. Best of all, you can wait until you hit high levels before you meet her, unlike Marcurio who you’ll be seeing over the course of the Thieves Guild quests (which are excellent by the way).

    On the subject of melee companions, I definitely support Lydia. Give her some good Heavy Armor, a heavy shield, and the best one-handed weapon you can spare and she will WRECK enemies. Better yet, in a tight spot she’s more useful than a mage, since she can take quite a beating and doesn’t have to worry about maneuvering to stay alive. She’s also free. Also, I play on the Xbox, and I haven’t encountered the mechanic where she doesn’t level up at all. She was dealing as much damage as my perked-up blacksmithing expert, maybe even more. I played a sword and shield orc in heavy armor, and I can tell you, two characters shield-bashing and dicing up enemies makes short work of anything from Draugr to Dragons.

  19. Nissl says

    You should also mention that followers don’t level in Skyrim, instead they are set to your level the first time they are loaded, so the strongest followers available are going to be the ones you find right when you enter a new city.

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