Stormcloak or Imperial: The Skyrim Civil War

One of the most discussed topics for every Skyrim playthrough is the ongoing civil war between the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion. One of the first choices you make(whether you know you’re making it or not) is to fight with the Imperals or with the Stormcloaks. 

Which side was right?

This is actually a matter of opinion. This tends to be a very political discussion and requires all of the facts before you make a decision. Both sides have their own philosophy and their own justifications.

Some of their moral decisions aren’t entirely clear. You can’t really understand why they believe in these things until you’ve heard all of the facts.

Stormcloaks vs. Imperials: Get the Facts

Ulfric Stormcloak is a liar. He will whatever he can to recruit more people. It is believed that he doesn’t even know what he wants, but he believes that lying will lead to him being the king of Skyrim.

In every Elder Scrolls game, the player is given the choice to aid the Empire. For once, players can oppose them.

The Imperials actually stand a chance at defeating the Thalmor. Although they are pinned down by them now, they have the resources to win long-term.

The Stormcloaks are defending their home land. The Thalmor and the Empire are an oppressive faction that doesn’t care about Skyrim or it’s people.

No matter which side you choose, you are always siding with the Thalmor. The Thalmor are controlling the Imperials, but they are also aiding Ulfric Stormcloak.

The Stormcloaks are regarded as heavily racist. They discriminate against most races that aren’t Nord. This is especially apparent if you visit Windhelm(more specifically, the Gray Quarter).

The races that they discriminate the most on are Elves, Khajiit, and Argonians. The Stormcloaks go out of their way to harass them on a daily basis.

On the topic of harassment towards a certain demographics, the Imperials bother the Nords because of their Talos worship. Under Imperial rule, all Talos worship is banned.

Many people believe that, in future installments, the Thalmor will have control over the province of Skyrim. Their end-game goal is to destroy all of mankind.

The Imperials attempt to kill you right at the start of the game. They don’t have a reason to kill you. You were just picked up with their other prisoners.

Supporting the Stormcloak army allows the Thalmor a better chance at winning. Supporting the Imperials gives them an opportunity to control Skyrim without Aldmeri influence.

What do they Stormcloaks believe?

The Stormcloaks are thought of as a rebellion. They are a force that was put together to defend the Nords of Skyrim from being forced into a different way of life.

It is worth mentioning that Stormcloaks don’t believe much in giving out ranks to their soldiers. Instead, soldiers are honored for their abilities in combat.

The opposing faction(Imperials) came to Skyrim to enforce many rules and government on the people. One of the biggest concerns is that the Imperials have made it illegal to worship Talos, a god that Nords worship their entire lives.

To make things worse, the Imperials appear to be owned by the Thalmor. Any kind of decisions they make do not appear to be their own. This is believed to be true because of an incident during the Great War, when the Imperial Legion had to surrender to the Aldmeri. It would only be a rumor, until people in Skyrim started to see more and more Thalmor Justiciars.

These soldiers working side by side with the Imperial Legion have made it crystal clear that the Imperial Legion is here to oppress the people of Skyrim.

What happens if Stormcloaks win?

There will still be Imperial camps throughout Skyrim. These camps will continue to produce Imperial soldiers. Furthermore, you will still find Imperial and Thalmor soldiers wandering the land(some escorting Stormcloak soldiers).

Skyrim will be free of Thalmor and Imperial Legion rule. This doesn’t have any significant effect to the world, but the people will acknowledge that they are free from oppression.

All major cities that were under Imperial control are now under Stormcloak control.

These cities include:

  • Whiterun
  • Markarth
  • Falkreath
  • Morthal
  • Solitude

All of the Jarls that were removed from their positions are now kept in the prison cellars of Solitude.

Many forts around the province are now controlled by Stormcloak soldiers.

What does the Imperial Legion believe?

They have an incredible army and a powerful rule. It is fairly accurate to say that the Imperials are good at creating some level of government where they go.

The Imperial Legion is a force that is always growing, and in order to survive, it needs to continue to grow. Spreading their forces across Skyrim is a great way for them to grow their ranks.

Because of the Thalmor, the Imperials are in a tough spot . During the Great War, the Imperial Legion was forced to surrender to the Aldmeri Dominion. The Thalmor was able to defeat them, and are now able to make demands towards the Imperials.

The Aldmeri Dominion have their own plans for Skyrim, but because of their hold over the Imperial Legion, they can do it from a distance. They have told the Imperials that they need to enforce Aldmeri laws alongside Imperial laws. This brings a gigantic speed bump to the Imperial’s plans, since this decision has brought forward a rebellion that they need to face(the Stormcloak army).

What happens if the Imperial Legion wins?

There will still be Stormcloak camps spread out across Skyrim. These camps will continue to produce Stormcloak soldiers. Furthermore, you will still find Stormcloak soldiers wandering the lands of Skyrim. Some will even have Imperial soldiers as prisoners.

If you are attacked and there are Imperial soldiers nearby, they will aid you in battle. This only works if you didn’t initiate the battle(you must be defending yourself).

All of the major cities that were controlled by Stormcloaks are now replaced new Jarls that support the Imperial Legion.

All of the previous Stormcloak Jarls are sent to the prison cellars of Windhelm. These prisons will also include all of their stewards and housecarls.

Forts around the land will now be occupied by Imperial soldiers. Some forts that weren’t taken over will still be under bandit control.


Skyrim has seen a few mods that were made to better the experience of the civil war story aspect. One of the most notable mods was the Skyrim Civil War Overhaul mod. This mod was made to include many aspects of the Elder Scroll’s lore, including backstory for every race and their involvement in the greater war that is happening across all provinces.

This mod has been discontinued as the community made it very difficult for the mod creator to keep everybody happy.

Thinking about starting a new game in Skyrim(as if we have to ask)? Check out our Skyrim things to do early in the game walkthrough.

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