NPC (Non-Player Character) is a generic term for all humanoids (of various races), other than you, that are encountered while playing Skyrim.
The difference between NPCs and other creatures is somewhat blurry in Skyrim. One key difference is in trapping their souls: NPC souls cannot be trapped into ordinary Soul Gems; only Black Soul Gems or Azura's Star (Black) can be used.
Classes are still used by NPCs, despite being inaccessible to you.
There are many named NPCs in Skyrim. These people are all listed on the People page. All quest-givers, trainers, and merchants in the game, as well most of the people in cities and towns are named characters.
Some named characters are deemed to be Essential ("unkillable"). If these characters are attacked, they will fall to their knees and surrender when they near zero Health. After a few minutes, they will rise up with full health, and will reengage their enemies until the latter parties are dead or out of the area. Protected characters, on the other hand, can be attacked and killed by you but not by NPCs (however, a bug means that poisons can kill even Protected characters). Most NPCs can be killed, but there may be consequences later.
Special categories include:
There are also many generic NPCs in the game, most of which are randomly generated. If one dies for whatever reason, the game will eventually generate a new random replacement.
Friendly NPCs include:
- Imperial Couriers
- Imperial Soldiers
- Redoran GuardsDB
- Stormcloak Couriers
- Stormcloak Soldiers
- Vigilants of Stendarr
Enemy NPCs include:
- Ash ZombiesCC
- Dark SeducersCC
- Falmer Servants
- Golden SaintsCC
- Hired Thugs
- Haknir's CrewDB
- Mogrul's ThugsDB
- Morag Tong AssassinsDB
Various other humanoid enemies (e.g., Falmer, dragon priests, hagravens) are not NPCs, meaning they do not have black souls.
All characters in the game have two distinct FormIDs that can be used in conjunction with console commands: a BaseID and a RefID. Most console commands will accept only one of the two types of IDs: the BaseID is generally used in cases where you want to spawn a new copy of an object, whereas the RefID is generally used in cases where you want to interact with an existing copy of an object. The BaseID points or refers to the immutable prototype or template of an object; the RefID points or refers to the actual in-game working copy of the object.
Although this RefID/BaseID distinction exists for all objects in the game, it is particularly important for all of the game's unique NPCs. Most of the game scripts use RefIDs (via the associated EditorID) to control unique NPCs. This means that if you use the
placeatme <BaseID> command to spawn a new copy (with a new RefID) of, for example, Esbern, the new copy of Esbern will be ignored by most of the quest scripts. Your clone may have the correct dialogues and appearance, but many quest updates triggered by Esbern will not be triggered by your clone.
Therefore, when using the console with unique NPCs you should always avoid the
placeatme command. All of this site's NPC pages provide the NPC's RefID, as long as the ID is not randomly generated, which should be used to locate or modify the existing copy of the NPC. For example, to move a missing NPC to your location, use:
If the NPC is not visible after those commands, then the character may have been disabled, so type:
Or if the character is dead:
If you would prefer to move your character to the location of an NPC (instead of vice versa), you can instead use the command:
The behavior of an NPC is controlled by a variety of NPC-specific statistics.
There are four possible values for aggression. Together with the faction relationship combat modifier this governs whether the NPC initiates combat.
- 0: Unaggressive. Attacks nobody unless provoked.
- 1: Aggressive. Attacks enemies on sight.
- 2: Very Aggressive. Attacks enemies and neutral on sight.
- 3: Frenzied. Attacks anybody on sight.
Assistance determines whether an NPC will help in combat.
- 0: Will not help anyone.
- 1: Will only help Allies.
- 2: Will help Friends and Allies.
There are five possible values for confidence:
- 0: Cowardly. Always flees from battle at low health.
- 1: Cautious. Attacks only lower level enemies.
- 2: Average. Avoids higher level creatures.
- 3: Brave. Attacks unless being outmatched by the opponent.
- 4: Foolhardy. Attacks any type of enemy and fights to the death.
Morality determines whether or not an NPC will commit various crimes, and controls whether or not a follower will agree to do certain requested actions. There are four possible values for morality:
- 0: Any Crime. NPC is willing to commit any requested crime.
- 1: Violence Against Enemies. NPC is willing to commit violence against enemies, as well as property crimes. NPC is not willing to attack innocent people.
- 2: Property Crime Only. The only crimes the NPC will commit are property crimes (i.e., theft).
- 3: No Crime. NPC is not willing to commit any crimes. Followers with this morality will still not report crimes that they witness you committing (with the exception of crimes against them, such as stealing items owned by the follower).
- If you complete one or more of an NPC's quests, they will often greet you by saying "You've been a good friend to me. That means something." or another similar phrase indicating their affection. This conveys certain benefits, such as allowing you to take some low value items from their dwelling, or making some NPCs available to become a follower or spouse.
- Generic Dialogue — A list of dialogue that is not unique to a particular NPC.
- Unused NPCs — A list of all NPCs that were not implemented in the final game.