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I am just starting playing Skyrim and was wondering if there are many mutually exclusive choices I should know in advance?

For example, if I join guild A, then guild B wont let me in or even, say, if I join the Stormcloacks, am I still welcome in Imperial cities?

The best example of this I can thing of is from Morrowind where you had to pick your Great Houses (either Telvaani, Redoran or Hlaalu)

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There is a similar question about one quest disabling another. The answer was obviously 'A quest that involves killing an NPC will cause that NPC to no longer be able to give you quests' or something. Don't know if that holds true for low disposition, though. –  Konerak Nov 21 '11 at 17:01
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I believe you can join all of the guilds at the same time, however it's Imperials VS Stormcloaks - completing the quest to join one will automatically fail the other one. You will still be welcome in cities under the control of the opposite faction, however I believe outposts of that faction will be hostile to approach.

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About the outposts: The inhabitants won't attempt to kill you on sight, but will attack if you attempt to enter the camp, after a certain period of time. I'm not sure what it was about, but one of my friends had the Dark Brotherhood contract a kill on him, I doubt it'll effect the questline, however. –  Domocus Nov 21 '11 at 7:15
    
I hear there is an anti-Dark Brotherhood quest line which will prevent you from joining the Dark Brotherhood as well –  Rachel Nov 21 '11 at 14:42
    
I've had several NPCs attack me after completing the Stormcloaks as well. These were in the city of Dawnstar. I'm not sure if it is related to the stormcloaks being completed or not, but it started happening after that. (was also my first visit to dawnstar) –  JClaspill Nov 21 '11 at 17:24
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---Note: Links may contain spoilers!---

Most of the details below are available on UESPWiki under the entry Skyrim:Factions or in pages linked therein.

The only mutually-exclusive factions in the base game are those that represent the two sides in Skyrim's civil war.

It's also worth making mention here that your choice of who to follow early in the game (Ralof or Hadvar), when escaping Helgen, does not determine which of the above groups you are joining.

The two paths essentially merge in Riverwood, when family members of either side will suggest that you take news of Helgen to Jarl Balgruuf the Greater in Whiterun.

The NPC you follow out of Helgen, or one of their family members, will invite you to join their cause. This will add a quest to your journal, but still does not constitute a binding of your character to that faction. Afterwards, you're still free to join whichever side (or none) in the war you please.

A quest to join the opposing side can usually be picked up by simply encountering one of their soldiers in a city or camp that they control. The soldier will suggest that you join their cause, and this will populate that quest in your journal. Once you've expressly declared your allegiance though, you'll fail the quest for the side that you chose to oppose.

You still have one more chance to switch sides though, during The Jagged Crown. Simply deliver the crown to the opposition's leader, and you will join their cause instead.

All that having been said, there's several other factions you can join freely. Joining any of these will not preclude you from joining the others. They also do not affect, nor will they be affected by, your choice regarding the war.

Near or at the end of the quest lines for most groups, you will generally end up becoming the group's leader. This also will not affect your ability to join or lead other factions.

*The quest to join The Dark Brotherhood actually starts in Riften.

**There is (presuming you pursue the main story's questline to its end) an unavoidable quest which puts you in the middle of a conflict between the Blades and Greybeards. Your decision (or even a lack thereof) in this matter will restrict you from certain resources available via the faction you have chosen against. I do not list these as "mutually exclusive" factions though, since you never properly "join" the Greybeards.


The Dawnguard DLC adds in two new player-joinable factions, which are also mutually exclusive.

Note: While these two factions do ultimately become mutually exclusive, you must follow through some of the initial Dawnguard questline before you are given the option to join the Volkihar.

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