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I strayed off course simply exploring, clearing tombs, caves, towers etc. without completing any quests, for quite some time. Now as I go back through to complete campaign quests they are listed as incomplete and I must go through all the motions all over again. Is there any way I can bypass re-doing everything in order to make campaign progress?

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Incomplete as in your quest journal? – ヴァイシャリ Jan 5 '12 at 18:06
This is a bit unclear. Do you mean you cleared an area you got a quest to clear? Do you mean you explored a place you are asked to visit? Are you saying you did the task in the quest while it was active but it didn't trigger the quest complete? Can you be more specific? – Andy_Vulhop Jan 5 '12 at 21:40
Sounds like he cleared a cave which contains a quest BEFORE he actually had the quest and now just wants to not have to clear the site again. maybe? – Christopher Klein Jan 5 '12 at 22:21

For the majority of quests in Skyrim, the quest item and/or quest enemies do not appear until the quest has been activated. This is especially true for miscellaneous quests, where the quest location could be one of a number of different places. I think the game tries its best to send you to new locations, but if you've already been to all the possible locations for that quest then it would have to repeat a location. So unfortunately if you've cleared out a dungeon and then later on received a quest in the same place, new items and enemies would have spawned there and you will have to go through it again.

I'm sure there are plenty of console commands which would allow you to skip over the quests if you're playing on the PC.

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