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I've finished the Stormcloaks and Imperial Legion, and both seem to have endings which could support an Elder Scrolls sequel in which a war occurs with the Thalmor.

I'm used to seeing Bethesda make games with choices that end up achieving the same thing, are inconsequential to a sequel, or are the "right" way to finish. I don't think the civil war's winner would be ignored in the inevitable "The Brief History of Skyrim" series or similar in-game books. It seems like a very important development.

Is there any additional dialogue or hints as to what side was intended to win the war that I might have missed? I've noticed in my current game that while the Stormcloaks have supposedly ousted the Legion from Skyrim, the Imperial Legion still appears to hold certain towns on their strategic maps.

Does that mean that while Tullius is dead, the Imperial Legion will just promote a new leader who will return to annex Skyrim?

Will the soldiers in the hidden wilderness camps continue to fight for the various garrisons around Skyrim?

If you intend to include dialogue or plot which could be considered a spoiler, please use the >! spoiler tag.

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@Ullallulloo Wow, having read that, I really, really want to play Daggerfall. –  Thaumajig Dec 14 '11 at 1:57
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The Thalmor will probably invade anyway and, as victors, will get to write the history books. "4E 201: The silly kids in Skyrim started shouting at each other again. We put an end to that nonsense." –  ZoogieZork Dec 16 '11 at 17:00
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Bethesda themselves probably don't know, considering how they've handled continuity in the past (i.e., they don't bother until they start on the sequel). I'm not sure if that makes this inherently speculative, but I'm pretty sure it will attract (er, has attracted) speculation. :-/ –  SevenSidedDie May 17 '13 at 3:53
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Both sides lose. The Thalmor invade and easily conquer the divided and weakened empire. –  Shadur Jul 18 '13 at 18:23
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6 Answers 6

I think it will turn out that both sides are the official "answer." Whatever side the Dragonborn sides with will turn out to be the right one. If the Dragonborn sides with the empire, s/he will eventually lead the empire back to health and defeat the Aldmeri Dominion as a great hero. If the Dragonborn sides with Skyrim, then s/he will eventually lead Skyrim into the collapsing sections of the empire and defeat the Aldmeri Dominion.

The Dragonborn has impressed gods and dealt with daedra. No matter who you side with as the Dragonborn, I don't think you're going to play second fiddle for long. Ulfric would soon be overshadowed by a Dragonborn who will come to lead Skyrim (if sided with Stormcloaks) and I think it is inevitable you lead the empire if you side with them (especially since

the Emperor is assassinated by the Dark Brotherhood no matter who wins).

As another poster mentioned, in the end it won't matter who 'won' this war. All the histories will record is the return and rise of The Dragonborn. After I beat the game (which I've done a few times now), I'm itching to go frag some Altmeri butt. Hopefully I won't have to wait until Elder Scrolls VI to do it!

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Interestingly I am working through the Civil war quest line now but I wiped the dark brotherhood out instead of joining them. I wonder if the emperor will still be assassinated. –  Colin Apr 15 '12 at 1:12
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@Colin Can't actuall wipe them out really... seeing as there's a member who cannot die. The Night Mother's been dead for over a thousand years. She'll just restart the brotherhood with another listener. –  Selonianth Jun 8 '13 at 8:05
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Bethesda has already written into the lore as it stands that other provinces have broken away from the Empire - Black Marsh and Elsweyr seceded after the Oblivion Crisis, Hammerfell refused to submit to the White Gold Concordat, etc. Future lore can sum up the Skyrim era with a simple "The Empire fragmented as provinces seceded or fell to infighting before finally being restored." So long as they don't list which provinces left the Empire, there's no need to specifically state how the Stormcloak Rebellion turned out.

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It doesn't matter which side you back, there will continue to be skirmishes in the field that you can come across. Both sides will mention this when you complete the final phase of their campaign and deal with the opposing faction's leader.

It's not really defined who Bethesda will pick as the canon victor until some DLC or more likely, the next game in the series. It stands to reason that the Empire/Altmeri would continue to attack Skyrim until they controlled it barring some other problem arising that demanded their attention.

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I would say that there is no conclusion to the conflict, regardless of which side you choose. If you choose the Stormcloaks, the dialogue at the end clearly indicates that the empire will try to reassert control over Skyrim, and if you choose the Imperial Legion, the rebellion is thwarted, but not completely crushed into non-existence.

I found the ending quite unsatisfying in that the Elderscrolls games are about the destiny of the character, and while defeating Alduin might be a grand heroic feat, it is only the beginning of the story for the "Dragonborn", just as banishing Alduin was only the beginning for Talos. (Talos went on to forge the Empire).I personally would pay another $50 or $60 for an expansion that allows us to explore the full destiny of the "Dragonborn". I was hoping (too ambitiously) that we would get to see the Dragonborn take up his mantle as the rightful heir to the throne of the Empire. Talos, the first Dragonborn founded the Empire; it seems that it should be the destiny of the last Dragonborn to restore it.

Picture this: After you defeat Alduin, you meet with all the surviving members of the Akavari. There are more than just two. Maybe a couple dozen. They are there to convince you of your destiny to restore the Empire. After you agree, you get on a dock at one of the Port Cities (regardless of which faction you chose, Imperials or Stormcloaks). At the dock a ship awaits you and the game renders a big fleet out on the water to make it look like you are joining an invasion fleet. Destination: Cyrodil and the Imperial city from Oblivion. You and the army land and must fight all the way to the palace, fighting combined legions of Altmeri and Imperials. Either the Imperials, or the stormcloaks from Skyrim fight beside you, along with the Akavari who serve as your personal bodyguard. You must penetrate to the Imperial city and destroy the puppet on the throne, and then YOU are crowned as the rightful Emperor, the DRAGONBORN.

That is how it should have ended.

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Officially, the Civil War ended with the truce atop High Hrothgar. I think Skyrim and Cyrodill will fight the Altmer together and and in doing so, Skyrim will win its independence from the Empire.

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Do you have any sources for this claim? –  kotekzot Mar 30 at 18:07
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If you look at the two sides of the war, you will see that the empire is most likely the winner. For one, no matter which side you choose, Jarl Balgruuf and Whiterun will go with the empire. Assume that if the Dragonborn sides with the Stormcloaks, he is most likely a Nord. So there is a 1 in 10 chance of the Dragonborn being a Stormcloak (the 10 being the total number of playable races). So the only way we can beat the Aldmeri Dominion's hatred towards humans is to hate all Mer kind after raising our strength after crushing the rebellion.

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