Skyrim: Ranking The Dragonborn’s Housecarls From Worst To Best
By Demaris OxmanUpdated
After greatly helping one of the holds and settling down in a home, the Dragonborn can appoint a Housecarl. However, some are better than others.
In the province of Skyrim, if the player helps a number of people within a specific hold, the Jarl bestows them with the title of Thane. Though it's mostly honorary, but there are several perks included with this status, including the appointment of a housecarl.
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Guardians of their employer's safety and property, housecarls fight alongside the player and will protect their homestead from threats. For the most part, all housecarls have the same skills and similar dialogue. However, there are a few details that set some of them a cut above or below the rest. Here's a ranking of the Dragonborn's potential housecarls, from worst to best.
Updated July 18 by Demaris Oxman:Skyrim's staying power is evident to this day, with fantasy-loving gamers still flocking to the title. Exploring in Skyrim never gets old, but it's always better with a companion — which is why the game's housecarls remain important. Each of these brave, bold warriors will protect the Dragonborn with their life, and make stalwart companions in battle. To help players on their journey, this list has been updated to include a few key tips on how to maximize each housecarl's potential.
8 Argis The Bulwark of Markarth
After becoming Thane of the Reach, the Dragonborn can move into Vlindrel Hall with Argis as their housecarl. Like any of the others on this list, he's a powerful ally in battle; however, his dialogue is pretty bland compared with some other followers in the game.
Argis is also the only housecarl in Skyrim who cannot become a steward for the player's homestead. Additionally, if the player is married to Stenvar, Argis will frequently fight with him(possibly due to a glitch). These limitations place Argis low in the housecarl ranking.
Tips & Tricks
As with almost all housecarls, Argis' main skills includeOne-Handed, Block, Heavy Armor, and Archery. Offer to trade items with him, and equip him with high-ranking gear compatible with these skills to allow him to unleash his fighting potential.
7 Jordis The Sword-Maiden of Solitude
The Dragonborn receives Jordis' housecarl services after becoming Thane of Haafingar. Like Argis, though she's a valiant protector, her dialogue has no character to it. Furthermore, there are a couple of odd details (again, most likely bugs) that make her a less effective follower.
Occasionally, Jordis will disappear from the Dragonborn's service, to be found back at Proudspire Manor wearing her default armor. She also won't equip certain bows even if they are much stronger than her default weapon, such as the Nightingale Bow. These details make Jordis a bit frustrating to adventure with.
Tips & Tricks
Equip Jordis with gear similar to Argis; however, if the player notices she is not using her strongest bow, remove it and give her a different one. If Jordis teleports back to Proudspire, the player can speak to her and ask to trade items; removing one item from her inventory will cause her to re-equip the gear she had when she disappeared.
6 Gregor, Nord Warrior From Dawnstar
There's not much to say about Gregor, housecarl to the Thane of the Pale, and that's why he ranks here. Like all housecarls, he can hold his own in battle, but he doesn't have any distinct fighting features or anything interesting to say.
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Despite having a higher One-Handed skill, his default weapon is a two-handed steel greatsword, making him an initially less effective fighter. Of course, this can be circumvented by giving him one-handed weapons. Overall, though, Gregor is a generic Nord fighter with very little personality, and thus ranks low among Skyrim's housecarls.
Tips & Tricks
First things first: give Gregor a one-handed weapon such as a sword, mace, or axe to let him take advantage of his higher fighting skill. Other than that, strategies for this housecarl are more or less the same as the rest. Give him a shield to make use of his Block skill, heavy armor to defend himself, and a powerful bow to deal with dragons.
5 Iona, Nord Warrior From The Rift
Housecarl to the Thane of the Rift, Iona tends to be a bit sharp towards the Dragonborn. Even as a spouse, her dialogue is strident and seems almost forced. She's an effective follower, but just not very fun to be around.
She takes the job of protecting the house very seriously, as she'll attack the player mercilessly if they kill a chicken in the Honeyside garden — even though the Dragonborn owns that house. Iona is just as strong as any housecarl, but there's nothing that sets her apart except her stiff demeanor.
Tips & Tricks
As with most other housecarls, Iona is at her best when equipped with a shield and one-handed weapon, as well as a bow for ranged attacks. Aside from that, just be sure to leave Honeyside's chickens in peace.
4 Calder, Nord Warrior Of Windhelm
Like most of the others, the housecarl to the Thane of Eastmarch doesn't have much particular flair when it comes to fighting. He's a typical Nord warrior; however, his dialogue has alittle more personality to it than some of the other housecarls.
Most of his dialogue is similar to his peers, but he makes the occasional remark about haunted Dwarven ruins or cracking a giant's head like a walnut. This extra flavor makes him a more entertaining adventuring partner, in addition to a strong protector.
Tips & Tricks
Calder is a standard warrior, with few quirks or distinctions. He has the same top skills as most of the other housecarls: One-Handed, Block, Heavy Armor, and Archery. Give him high-level gear that's compatible with these, and he'll fight tooth and nail alongside the Dragonborn.
3 Rayya, Redguard Warrior Of Falkreath
Rayya protects the Thane of Falkreath, and is the only non-Nord housecarl to be assigned to the Dragonborn. Despite this distinction, her dialogue is more or less the same as all the other housecarls, making her personality a little lacking.
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However, Rayya ranks higher on this list because of a unique fighting strategy. Unlike many followers, she will dual-wield one-handed weapons without the player having to put a pickaxe or Forsworn weapon in her inventory. As a dual-wielder, Rayya is capable of dealing fast, devastating blows to enemies, making her one of Skyrim's better housecarls.
Tips & Tricks
Equip Rayya with two fast, powerful one-handed weapons such as swords or daggers, to take advantage of her dual-wielding prowess. Like most others on this list, she makes good use of heavy armor. Make sure to provide her with proper garb to maximize her defenses, as she can't block while dual-wielding.
2 Lydia, Nord Warrior Appointed In Dragonsreach
As most players' first housecarl, Lydia is one of the most popular followers in the game. Assigned to protect the Thane of Whiterun, she's a strong ally available early on, making difficult quests more survivable at lower levels.
Out of all the housecarls, Lydia is the most expressive, especially in the Dragonborn add-on. As she follows the player across Skyrim and Solstheim, Lydia has a lot to say about Dwarven ruins, the Tel Mithryn towers, All-Maker Stones, and more. Her dialogue makes her a more fun adventuring partner than some of her generic peers.
Tips & Tricks
Lydia's battle strategy isn't much different than most other standard housecarls, but that doesn't mean she's not a powerhouse in fights. Give her similar gear as the rest – one-handed weapons, heavy armor, bows, shields – and she'll be a brave, bold adventuring companion.
1 Valdimar, Nord Battlemage Of Hjaalmarch
While most housecarls are pure warriors, Valdimar's style is closer to that of a battlemage. The housecarl to the Thane of Hjaalmarch is proficient in one-handed weapons, but also in Destruction, Restoration, and Alteration magic. His use of Oakflesh and Stoneflesh, combined with his Restoration spells, make him almost unbeatable in combat.
This makes Valdimar an incredibly versatile follower. Unlike many housecarls, he can adapt his offensive style to different enemies; for example, using Turn Undead against draugr. Thus, his unique skillset places him a cut above the rest, as the best housecarl in Skyrim.
Tips & Tricks
Unlike most housecarls, Valdimar is more proficient in Light Armor than Heavy; equip him with a set of Dragonscale or Stalhrim gear to make him as tough as possible. If these pieces have enchantments that fortify his magical skills, so all the better. He makes good use of one-handed weapons, but make sure he has a free hand to sling his spells.
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Read NextAbout The Author
Demaris is a reader, writer, and gamer from Juneau, Alaska. While studying linguistics at McGill University, she wrote for student publications covering music, theater, film, and various pop culture. She now puts her love of games to good use as a writer and editor for Game Rant. Always a fantasy nerd, Demaris has a particular love for games in that genre, and spends her free time writing epic and grimdark fantasy.
Housecarls are the personal bodyguards appointed to jarls and their thanes (if any) in Skyrim. Housecarls are free men and women who are voluntarily sworn to protect their masters with their own lives. Almost every jarl and thane in the province of Skyrim has their own personal housecarl that is often by their side. However, the housecarls of thanes are often found inside of that thane's home. Every housecarl that is appointed to you is also available as a follower, who, in turn, can carry out orders, carry equipment, and protect you from harm.
A few housecarls in the employ of jarls double as the general of their army, and are thus involved in planning war strategies. In terms of court politics, housecarls are the equal of court wizards, but less important than stewards and, of course, the jarls. In summary, housecarls are faithful guardians who are very useful in both the royal courts of Skyrim and in the deepest depths of its ruins.
Housecarls Available to You
Every personal housecarl:
- is primarily skilled in Heavy Armor and One-handed.
- reaches their maximum level at 50.
- is willing to commit any crime you request of them.
None of the housecarls appear in the game until you become a thane of their associated hold: Whiterun, Haafingar, The Rift, The Reach and Eastmarch in the original game (in each of which the player can buy a house in the major city), with The Pale, Hjaalmarch and Falkreath Hold in the Hearthfire add-on (in each of which the player can buy a plot of land to build a house in the country). There are no houses, plots of land or housecarls available in Winterhold.
Housecarls stay in their own rooms of their corresponding houses, except for the three added by Hearthfire, who patrol around the plot of land the player has purchased. If the corresponding house for these three does not have an available bed to sleep in, they will go to a different player-built home (if one has a bed available) for the night, then spend the next morning walking back.
Argis the Bulwark
Argis the Bulwark is a Nordwarrior living and working at Vlindrel Hall in Markarth. Once you have purchased the home and attained the rank of Thane of the Reach, Argis is appointed as your personal housecarl. As such, he is not accessible until Vlindrel Hall has been purchased. For more information, see Argis the Bulwark's main article.
Calder is a Nord warrior from Windhelm. Once you have purchased the home in Windhelm, Hjerim, and attained the rank of Thane of Windhelm, Calder is appointed as your housecarl and will automatically appear in Hjerim. For more information on Calder, see his main article.
Gregor is a Nord warrior found in the White Hall in Dawnstar. He becomes your personal housecarl when you have earned the title of Thane of the Pale if Hearthfire is installed. For more information on Gregor, see his main article.
Iona is a Nord housecarl who is assigned to you when you become Thane of the Rift. Once assigned, she will take residence in your Riften home, Honeyside. For more information on Iona, see her main article.
Jordis the Sword-Maiden
Jordis the Sword-Maiden is a housecarl assigned to you upon becoming Thane of Haafingar. Once you become Thane, Jordis will take up residence in your Solitude home, Proudspire Manor. For more information on Jordis, see her main article.
Lydia is a female Nord living in Whiterun. She is likely to be your first housecarl, as she becomes housecarl after you are titled Thane of Whiterun upon completion of the Dragon Rising quest. If she is not following you, she resides in the main hall of Dragonsreach, although if you purchase Breezehome, she will move there. For more information on Lydia, see her main article.
Rayya is a Redguard warrior found in the Jarl's Longhouse in Falkreath. She becomes your personal housecarl when you have earned the title of Thane of Falkreath Hold if Hearthfire is installed. For more information on Rayya, see her main article.
Valdimar is a Nordsorcerer found in Highmoon Hall in Morthal. He becomes your personal housecarl when you have earned the title of Thane of Hjaalmarch if Hearthfire is installed. For more information on Valdimar, see his main article.
Besides your personal housecarls, the jarls of Skyrim are also served by housecarls, who serve them as military advisors, generals, and personal bodyguards, although their exact function seems to vary from hold to hold (e.g., the housecarls of Winterhold seem to function more like generic courtiers than bodyguards).
*Helvard is the target of a Dark Brotherhoodassassination contract, and will not be replaced upon his death, although game data indicates Zaria or Thadgeir may have been intended to.
†The dialogue quest for Morthal indicates that Idgrod the Younger is her mother's housecarl, but Gorm is functionally the housecarl, and identified as such by other game data.
††Irileth will return from exile if Olfina dies.
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"The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" (2011): Why Lydia Is My Favorite Housecarl
Lee has played "Skyrim" for several years now and enjoys writing about it and her various Dovahkiin.
Lydia is the first housecarl you can get when playing Skyrim. You get her automatically after killing your first dragon at the Whiterun watchtower, and once you have her, she effectively becomes your slave.
The great thing about Lydia, though, is that she isn't like the other housecarls. She is not your willing slave and she is not there to stroke your ego.
Most fans hate Lydia because of her snarky "burdens" line, but I remember thinking that was hilarious. I was pleasantly surprised to find a character who actually had, well, character, in the bleak land that is Skyrim.
If you try to make Lydia sleep in the same bed as you (when you aren't married to her, naturally) she has a funny retort. She is also one of the few vanilla characters who actually has dialogue during the DLCs, Dragonborn in particular.
She's just . . . so much more alive than the other housecarls.
I also love that Lydia doesn't worship the Dragonborn but at the same time, she isn't mean to them. In fact, take her on your adventures, and she becomes your friend!
Now don't get me wrong. I recognize that Lydia is also a pain in the ass for reasons that largely involve game mechanics. This is so much to the point that a lot of fans (myself included) refer to her as Lydiot.
When I first started playing years ago, I remember playing a lot of sneaky characters. I took Lydia into that one dungeon in Whiterun with the big dead mammoth. I tried sneaking and shooting down one of the oil lamps, but what did Lydia do? She ran in, roaring at the top of her voice, sword drawn . . . banner flying . . . and got us both swarmed and killed. (I was a really low level and in really weak armor).
Having to reload because Lydia's a fool was really aggravating at the time, but now? Now I can look back and laugh at those playthroughs with my nostalgia glasses firmly in place.
Because if anything, Lydia's foolishness—while annoying in the beginning—has only deepened my appreciation for what an entertaining character she is. And over the years, I have developed a sort of love/hate relationship with her. It's become a tradition to use Lydia on a low-level character, until she either A) dies or B) outlives her usefulness as a tank.
Because I'll just state what everyone knows: Lydia is probably the most useless follower in the game.
She sets off traps.
She ruins your Sneak.
She gets in the way of your arrows and spells.
She dies easily.
The only thing she's remotely good for is carrying your burdens (Er . . . that is nota sexual pun).
You can hire Jenassa in the same town, a dunmer ranger who is infinitely more useful. Or you can do a bit of walking and grab Stenvar from Windhelm, a giant Nord who is a much better tank—but who also has a temper and will kill you if you (accidentally?) hit him during a fight.
That's another nice thing about Lydia: she forgives you for friendly fire. She complains and says "Watch it!" but she doesn't go ape-shit like Stenvar and bury her axe in your face.
Add in a couple mods, and Lydia suddenly comes to life (even more). Vanilla Lydia is actually quite pretty by Skyrim standards, but the Bijin Warmaidens mod gives her a small level up.
Also, the custom follower, Inigo, has some hilarious dialogue with Lydia. He basically says everything that most players have thought about her over the years, which makes it a sort of inside joke between Inigo and the players.
To be perfectly honest, my love for Lydia probably has a lot to do with nostalgia. It probably shocks people to read this, but I love her a lot more than most of the unique Skyrim followers we were supposed to love.
Yes, I love Lydia more than Serana, more than Mjoll, more than Aela. Even though I wrote entire articles about those three, I don't love them as much as the articles make it seem.
I rarely play Dawnguard because years later, I'm still utterly disappointed that the DLC was less about killing vampires and more about babysitting a vampire princess. Also, why wasn't there more werewolf content? And I don't care that much for Serana, just the novelty of her (she was new and different compared to what we'd seen before in that she had an actual personality!).
Mjoll, I had to warm up to over the years because her popularity was initially fucking annoying. Aela, I also warmed up to because failing to kill the giant (which most people did before the patch) leads Aela to be really rude to you.
But Lydia? Lydia just carries your stuff while hilariously making the occasional complaint. Because at the end of the day, that's all I really want: someone to carry my burdens.
Lydia does that exceptionally well.
© 2019 Lee
The first feeling that dominated me was to hide. I turned off the light, and, undressing, dived under the covers. Hearing the rustle of the water in the bathroom, I just began to understand everything that was happening, but I could not believe it completely.
Her name was Elena. We met in the beautiful city of Samara. Three of us arrived there: Slavik (director), me and my faithful partner Oleg.
Well, after half an hour, we headed to the scene. Her roommate called everyone who had ever fucked my mom while others were distracting. And now, at five minutes to twelve in the morning, we were already undressing our victim.
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Then, clasping the back of his head with his hands, he began to direct her movements, forcing her to swallow the "simulator" even deeper. Tears were not far away anyway, only held back by the remnants of pride, and from such treatment they poured down in a. Hail of hail, that with each immersion of a member there was a loud squelching sound, accompanying a sob, and the saliva became viscous, flowing down and smearing on the lips and chin.