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I need to go to Riverwood for a quest but every time I show up the NPCs start wildly attacking me (including ones with the little icon over them indicating they need to be interacted with). I don't know what to do. Please advise. I am on PS4 and not using mods, if that helps.

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10 Answers 10

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I know of two possibilities:

  1. You commit crimes against them, this can be checked by opening your journal and under "Crimes" tab check your bounty in Whiterun which Riverwood is under. If you have any bounty then it is possible that you have committed crimes against them. This can be cleared by surrendering to any Whiterun guards and serving you jail term or a few other means.
  2. You are a Starving Vampire, vampirism is split into four stages of hunger. By the time you reach the last stage and is starving for blood normally friendly NPCs will attack you on sight. This can be cleared by fleeing out of sight of NPCs and feeding. If you want to avoid getting a bounty for feeding you can consider feeding on bandits instead.
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  • How do I surrender to the guards? They just attack me when they see me, and then when I die I go back to the save where they are already mad.
    – Charzzart
    Jan 26, 2018 at 16:52
  • You need to sheath your weapon (have it NOT drawn) and try talking to them or go to the thieve's guild and see if they will help you clear your bounty (you must be a member to do this). Jan 26, 2018 at 19:37
  • I am quite sure the other question I linked in my answer explained in details how to clear your bounty. You should read it and maybe one of the other solutions may suit you more. More importantly, only guards arrests, if it is just aggressive citizens they will not attempt to arrest even if you yield. They will only cease aggressiveness if you committed a petty crime.
    – Ben Ong
    Jan 27, 2018 at 0:14
  • While vampirism, crime and one daedric prince mask can be reasons to put a bounty on your head I'm getting a lot of it with this 10th-anniversary edition. I'm suspicious of its lots of new horses. It started after I got all and bandits starting to attack my horses. I'm suspicious of bad faction setup. See my answer
    – jean
    Feb 6, 2022 at 11:17
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Old question, but I think I have an answer on how to fix.

The same thing happened to me: I traveled back to Riverwood and everyone in the entire town wanted to attack me on sight. The guards were also making off comments about how I smelled like I was robbing graves, etc. I am neither a vampire nor a werewolf. I have no bounty in the Whiterun hold. The only thing I could think of is that a bug caused some internal flag to be erroneously set that told the game I was a criminal. If this was the case then I'd have to find a way to somehow trick the game into resetting that flag.

So I killed a chicken on purpose in front of a guard. As soon as the guard approached with the usual "hey stop right there" dialog, everyone in the town sheathed their weapons and went about their business. I paid my fine, spend the night in jail, and was able to return to Riverwood without further incident.

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According to this site, in the Bugs section, a few select NPCs will attack you for no reason. Namely Delphine, Sigrid, Alvor, Gerdur, and Faendal will attack. This is said to be due to a thief being in town when you arrive. Surrendering to a guard should fix this.

To surrender, sheath your weapon and try talking to them. Holding block should help if they won't talk normally.

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  • This is happening with everyone you listed. I can’t surrender to a guard as typically they are also angry and continue to attack no matter what.
    – Charzzart
    Jan 27, 2018 at 5:20
  • If you can, try to find a scroll or spell of Calm and try it on a guard, then talk to them. This should help. If not, simply avoid Riverwood, reload a save BEFORE they was angry, or, if you you could find a mod that somehow cures the issue (in which unless the first two options work I HIGHLY recommend do not do). Jan 27, 2018 at 15:27
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Did you steal anything and then run away? What happens if you surrender? Drop all your valuable stuff and just go to jail. If that doesn't help then it's definitely some kind of a glitch though, maybe someone here can help more.

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  • How to I surrender? They just keep attacking I don’t know how to surrender.
    – Charzzart
    Jan 26, 2018 at 16:51
  • @Charzzart if memory serves, if you block and try to talk you can surrender so long as your bounty isn't insane
    – dsp_099
    Jan 26, 2018 at 20:02
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It's not always because you committed a crime or are a vampire. Sometimes Skyrim just bugs out. Just today I had NPCs at the whole Solitude Dock agro towards me for no reason. It was my first visit there. I quickly used the console to teleport to Whiterun, wait a few days (in-game of course) and went back to Solitude Docks. Things went back to normal. Also, sometimes NPCs from mods have bad faction settings. That can also cause this.

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The root cause is usually a hidden faction that has been added to the player. Only NPCs that are flagged as "Aggressive" will attack you on sight when that happens. Riverwood has a number of those NPCs: Faendal, Gerdur, Alvor, Delphine... Elrindir in the Drunken Huntsman is another in Whiterun. All of these NPCs are flagged as Aggressive.

A quick test to see if your factions are the problem

  1. Load a save from before the NPC has been aggro'd, before they show up as a red blip on your compass and draw their weapon.
  2. In the developer console type Player.RemoveFromAllFactions.
  3. Walk close enough where the NPC can see you. If they don't attack, that means one of their factions had a negative view of one of your factions.
  4. Before you do anything else, load back to your previous save. Removing all of your factions is just a test, next we want to isolate which faction is the actual problem.

Isolating the problematic faction

We are going to remove factions from the player one by one until this issue goes away. You can do this using the RemoveFac FactionID command. Some tips to make this easy:

  • You can pull up the player's list of factions in the left hand pane of the console. Select a faction to reveal its FactionID.
  • I recommend scrutinizing the list for any that seem like they could be a problem. Start by removing those factions first.
  • You can test if an NPC is still hostile without exiting the console. Type NPCRefID.GetShouldAttack Player and the console will respond with a number. If that number is greater than 0 they are still hostile and will attack you on sight. You should try running another RemoveFac command.
  • Once GetShouldAttack responds 0, load back to before you started removing factions. Run that last RemoveFac command (Press Up Arrow twice then Enter), and try running GetShouldAttack again. If it responds 0, then only one of your factions was a problem. If it says > 0, then you had multiple factions added to you that should likely not be present. You need to once again remove them one by one, to isolate which of the other factions you removed that was also a problem.
  • Use common sense when permanently removing a faction. If it is a faction it seems like you should be a part of, then you have to decide whether to permanently remove it. You can still remove any faction temporarily to test. But whether you continue playing with it removed is up to your good judgement.

For me it was the Wolf faction. It had been temporarily added by a random mod, and then a bug in the mod caused it to never be removed. This faction aggravated the aggressive NPCs in Riverwood, while the rest of the town was fine with me being a wolf. So long as I did not attack the unaggressive NPCs or their allies, they would not attack me. Obviously I should not permanently be part of the Wolf faction. Once removed I could play the rest of my game without issue.

How to see if an NPC is marked as aggressive

Use the developer console (press ~). Select the NPC either, using your mouse or with the command prid. Now type GetAV Aggression and you should get a response like this:

GetActorValue: Aggression >> 1.00

A value of 0, which is what most town NPCs have, means they will not attack unless provoked. Any value greater than 0 means they will attack the player if they don't like every one of your factions. 1 means they are an Aggressive NPC, 2 means Very Aggressive, and 3 means they are Frenzied into attacking everyone on sight.

Using SetActorValue Aggression 0 is a bad idea

You can run SetAV Aggression 0 to "fix" a single NPC. But this is a bad idea, on rare occasion it can break quests that rely on that NPC to be aggressive. Their aggression was set for a reason. This command is permanently altering the NPCs behavioral AI. Ideally we will get to the source of the bug rather than making a modification that can potentially break future quests. Plus, you would have to repeat that command for each aggressive NPC. Instead follow the above steps to find the problematic faction. And if applicable, remove it from the player. This will fix your issue with all aggressive NPCs, rather than just the one.

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This problem is not limited to Riverwood. You can probably work-around this and similar "why do all the NPCs hate me now" problems by traveling into the wilderness, or at least away from the cell where the NPCs are attacking the player, and waiting or sleeping for 24 hours. My experience has been that peace will be restored and you can carry on with your stay in the formerly hostile location.

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There are some items that my cause this as well. For example the "Grey cowl of Nocturnal" has several good effects but also cause guards to turn on you. So keep in mind what gear you wear in what areas.

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  • 3
    This is only from a Creation Club pack.
    – Nelson
    Nov 19, 2021 at 2:02
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This happened to me today on my replay of this game.
I was wearing the grey cowl and was attacked, so I went back to my last save and took it off. However, when I returned ,I saw the guards running around attacking and found out there was a thief in town, like what happens often in Riften. So I helped them kill him and took his stuff, and they didn't attack me.
So wearing the cowl makes them think you are his accomplice.

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Old question but those days I come back to Tamriel to play the 10th-anniversary edition and it happened a few times with me.

Elrindir - RefId <1A681> Wood Elf fletcher owner of The Drunken Huntsman in Whiterun.

Talsgar the Wanderer - RefId dynamically generated.

And now at Riverwood. So I found this post and guess it's worth sharing what worked for me.

First, it's a legit bug, no bounty/vampirism/etc related aggro.

player.SCAONACTOR - Stops all fights, but once an NPC attacks you, guards will aggro you or him/her.

TCAI - NPCs stop acting, but still can aggro you as you approach, used to stop NPC attacks, and guards aggro.

PRID - Same as opening the console and clicking on the NPC, to find any id goto: https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Skyrim

ENABLE/DISABLE - Reboots the NPC, him/her will be moved to him/her initial position.

Finally, I made a video showing the bug happening at Riverwood and how the solution works.

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