Best Side Quests Of The Elder Scrolls Franchise, Ranked

Across five mainline entries, the games that compose The Elder Scrolls series are jam-packed with content. At their core stand the main quests, the central conflict these games revolve around. However, it's worth remembering that many of the franchise's side quests are just as memorable in their own right. From simple townspeople in need of aid to shadowy groups of assassins and thieves, plenty of people need the protagonist's help.

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The quests below serve as some prime examples of the storytelling in the Elder Scrolls games. Although these quests appear to be vastly different from each other, the one common denominator that ties them together is their creativity. No matter how many times they're played, these optional adventures never get old.

10 A Night To Remember – Skyrim

Running errands for Daedric Lords has been a staple activity for the franchise for some time now. These types of quests tend to mean serious business, at least for the most part. In Skyrim, a more lighthearted example of a Daedric quest is "A Night to Remember."

The quest starts innocently enough. After taking part in a drinking game with a stranger, the Dragonborn will pass out. Reawakening with a hangover and no memory of the previous night, it's up to the player to piece together the story of their drunken escapades. It's certainly one of Skyrim's more humorous and unique side quests, and ends with revelry in Daedric Prince Sanguine's realm.

9 Silent Pilgrimage – Morrowind

In Morrowind, players have the opportunity to complete a variety of Tribunal Temple quests if they so choose. These activities can run the gamut from recovering a lost item to cleaning out a dungeon full of enemies. In addition, players will also perform pilgrimages as proof of their faith.

One quest, "Silent Pilgrimage," takes a unique spin on that idea. The Nerevarine is tasked with traveling to Sanctus Shrine, while also promising to take a vow of silence for the duration of the journey. That means no talking to any NPCs along the way. It's little details such as this that make so many of Morrowind's quests memorable.

8 Blood On The Ice – Skyrim

Side quests that offer something different to players aren't particularly abundant in Skyrim. Most of the side and miscellaneous quests boil down to "clear the dungeon of enemies and recover the item." It can become a little monotonous at times. That's why a quest like "Blood on the Ice," though not perfect, is so refreshing.

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In Windhelm, players are deputized by the authorities to catch a serial killer on the loose in the streets. The Dragonborn will conduct an investigation, uncovering a macabre conspiracy to bring somebody back from the dead. Players can even botch the job and send the wrong person to jail before discovering the identity of the real culprit. It's a short adventure, unfortunately, but one that adds some much-needed character to the game's side quests.

7 A Brush With Death – Oblivion

The sheer number of creative side quests in Oblivion makes it difficult to nail down the best of the best. Nevertheless, "A Brush with Death," definitely deserves to be mentioned as one of the most unique quests in the game. While exploring the city of Cheydinhal, players may come across Tivela Lythandas, a woman searching desperately for her missing husband, renowned painter Rythe.

In an unexpected twist, players learn that Rythe is actually inside one of his paintings. Entering the painting is easy, but getting out proves more difficult. Fans need to navigate the serene landscape, battling painted trolls along the way. It's a one-of-a-kind quest that's hard to forget.

6 Larrius Varro Tells A Little Story – Morrowind

It was mentioned previously that many of Morrowind's quests possess a lot of character. Whereas most NPCs are rather upfront about what they want, Larrius Varro at Fort Moonmoth begins his request by first telling the player an amusing story. It starts the aptly named quest, "Larrius Varro Tells a Little Story."

It turns out Larrius Varro tires of bureaucratic corruption and red tape limiting his abilities to exact justice on criminals. He asks the player to perform a "bloodbath" on some "bad people." With a little snooping, fans can learn the identities of these "bad people," and proceed to slaughter all of them for the frustrated Legion commander.

5 A Shadow Over Hackdirt – Oblivion

"A Shadow Over Hackdirt" takes its cue from the literary works of H.P. Lovecraft, notably The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The Hero of Kvatch, once again, is tasked with locating a missing person. The protagonist's journey leads them to Hackdirt, a strange community not keen on outsiders.

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With a little digging, players learn that the inhabitants of Hackdirt worship outlandish beings known as the "Deep Ones." Bizarre, large-eyed humanoids who dwell in the caverns beneath the town will start attacking the player after learning too much. It's a fun, entirely weird quest that's hard to forget.

4 Laid To Rest – Skyrim

Vampire infestations are common problems for communities in The Elder Scrolls. Morthal is a case-in-point, although the inhabitants don't quite know it at first. "Laid to Rest" is yet another quest in Skyrim that lets players uncover a mystery, similar to "Blood on the Ice."

The Dragonborn will start the quest with an arson investigation, slowly uncovering a conspiracy by a coven of vampires to take over the town of Morthal itself. The quest ends with a confrontation with the vampiric mastermind, a legendary vampire named Movarth Piquine. Slaying a vampire and saving a town in the process is good fun, to be sure.

3 Remove The Heads Of The Thieves Guild – Morrowind

In Morrowind, the Thieves' Guild and Fighters' Guild aren't on the friendliest of terms. Although it's possible to join both organizations, some of their respective quests conflict with each other, a situation that will likely force the player into supporting one guild over the other.

If pursuing the Fighters' Guild route, the Nerevarine can receive a mission from Sjoring Hard-Heart that involves assassinating the three primary Thieves Guild bosses in Morrowind. Thus, players are forced to examine where their allegiances truly lay concerning these two rival organizations.

2 The Mummy's Finger – Daggerfall

Although it's easy to dismiss Daggerfall because of its age, there are a few hidden gems buried beneath the surface. Despite the antiquated nature of the graphics and gameplay, there's still some charm to certain aspects of Daggerfall that make it worth revisiting. "The Mummy's Finger" quest is one such reason to go back to it.

Talking to a merchant or innkeeper may start this quest. The NPC will ask the player to deliver a package to another individual. Sounds easy, right? It turns out the package is a mummy's finger...that's cursed. With the finger in the player's possession, a mummy will haunt the protagonist every night at midnight while they sleep. Only by breaking the curse or pawning off the finger to somebody else can the mummy be put to rest. It's a creative idea, one that should be implemented more frequently in Elder Scrolls games.

1 Whodunit? – Oblivion

Oblivion's Dark Brotherhood contracts are a ton of fun — in a twisted kind of way. The creative scenarios, each one wholly different from the last, make these quests a joy to experience no matter how many times they've been completed. Among these, "Whodunit?" must certainly rank as one of the best side quests in Elder Scrolls history.

Fans of Agatha Christie's work no doubt understand the premise of this quest. A murderer stalks the occupants trapped inside a house, picking them off one by one. The twist is that the murderer is the player character! Watching the NPCs react and turn on each other is a scenario unlike anything else witnessed in The Elder Scrolls. Here's hoping more side quests like "Whodunit?" are included in The Elder Scrolls 6.

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Mark Hospodar (197 Articles Published)

Mark Hospodar has been an avid gamer ever since he fired up the original Medal of Honor on his PS1. A history teacher by training, Mark has branched out into the fields of fiction and non-fiction writing. He has co-authored several published works, including Future Imperfect and Tales from the Grimacing Goblin. However, his love of gaming has never dissipated over the years. A good, old-fashioned RTS title will always bring him back into the fold. His other interests include horror movies, toy soldier collecting, and anything Batman-related.

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