Cyrodiil is home to a large number of factions of various stripes. A number of these factions are joinable by the player, while others are present as opposing factions, or simply as "flavor" factions which provide background and color to the province.
Please keep in mind that not all of these factions should be set up as discrete "hard" factions in the ESM. For flavor and non-joinable factions, the only reason to make a separate faction would be to coordinate reputation and dialogue. In case of a smaller faction, such as a minor cult or guild, faction dialogue can easily be set up according to Cell or individual NPC records. This is especially important in that NPCs cannot be part of more than one faction.
Major factions are joinable by the player and have substantial questlines, leading to player rank progression and unique benefits or rewards. Furthermore, they may be involved in various ways with the main questline.
The Imperial Legion
The Empire's military hand. Home defense in Cyrodiil, ensuring the peace of its citizens and suppressing unrest. Garrisons and patrols are present throughout the province. the Legions are divided into various sub-groups, the notable being the "First Legion" in Colovia, which is focused on recruitment, a temporary expeditionary force present in the southern Nibenay which is busy mopping up the remains of a Khajiit/Argonian insurgency, and the Third Legion who are the ceremonial defenders of the Imperial Isles. The Legion is led by the Grand Marshal in the Imperial Isles. Upper ranks of the Legion are composed of noble knightly circles, such as the Order of the Imperial Dragon.
The Red Dome Templars, West Navy and Imperial Battlemages are soft sub-factions of the Imperial Legion.
The Great Faiths
The Empire's state religion worships the Nine Divines. Omnipresent in Imperial affairs, but also considered a cold and formal faith by those that are not part of its priesthoods. Consists of the Nine Great Faiths of Akatosh, Arkay, Dibella, Julianos, Kynareth, Mara, Stendarr, Zenithar, and Talos/Tiber Imperator. There are also various charismatic sub-cults across Cyrodiil, dedicated to specific aspects of the Divines. Most of these are part of the Great Faiths, but some are not. The Emperor is the head of the cult.
The Talos Cult is a soft sub-faction of the Great Faiths.
The Fighters Guild
Mercenary organization chartered by the Empire. Takes contracts from organizations and private citizens, provided they fall within the bounds of the law. The Guild halls of Nibenay distinguish themselves by following the teachings of the Syffim, and practice the ancient Akaviri philosophies on which the guild was originally founded.
The Mages Guild
Foremost organization of magical scholarship in Cyrodiil. Dedicated to the study and application of magic, as well as the general education and betterment of the people. Both the Mages Guild and the associated Imperial University are governed by the Council of Mages. The guild is protected by the Order of the Lamp.
The Thieves Guild
Union of Cyrodiil's major and minor thieves. Illegal faction. In the Imperial Province, the Thieves Guild is an old and powerful faction, with its own distinct customs, rituals, and philosophies. Officially ruled by the Gray Fox, though most gangs throughout the province operate in complete independence.
The Colo-Nordic Lords
Blood nobility of Colovia, descendants of ancient Nordic conquerors. Sworn to their code of duty, chivalry, and piety. The Colo-Nords govern the west, and are well-connected with the Legion - the Colo-Nords supply the Empire with officers and provincial governors. Most official positions in Colovia are exclusive to people of Colo-Nordic descent, and they are the only ones allowed to take part in Shor worship.
The Esoteric Order of Shor is a sub-faction.
The Niben Hierophants
Also known as the Battlemage aristocracy, these influential sorcerer-families govern the Nibenay. Their blood-ties to the Akaviri and inherited Ayleid secrets make them powerful mages, though they do not always understand the exact workings of their arcane inheritance. The Battlemages have a reputation for cunning and deceitful behavior, and many aspire to become the true power behind the throne.
The Imperial Curia
A bureaucratic nobility of merit, the scribes, administrators, prefects, politicians, arcane specialists and diplomats who keep the Empire running. The Census & Excise Office is connected to them, as are many other offices, councils, and authorities across Cyrodiil. Strong rivalry with the traditional nobility. Plagued by corruption.
The Dark Brotherhood
Murder-cult and assassins for hire. The Dark Brotherhood is illegal in Cyrodiil, but tolerated for their invaluable services to Heartlands politics. Their creed is to murder the world, though most cult members consider the religious aspect of the faction a distraction from its businesslike aspects. The Brotherhood operates under the guise of the Latent Iris Cult, a legal Nibenese Mephalite sect.
Under minor factions, we understand those factions that might allow the player to join, but only offer limited questlines or incomplete/conditional rank progression.
The Elder Council
Ancient advisory body of the Empire. Only the wealthiest and most influential people in the Empire take a seat on the Council. A "soft" faction in terms of implementation.
The Imperial Blades
Elite order of spies, dedicated to protecting and serving the Emperor. Originated with the Akaviri Dragonguards of Reman. Most Blades operate as spies and covert agents, serving in the Emperor's information network. Bases in the fortress-monastery of Cloud Ruler Temple. Blades "cells" can be found across Cyrodiil, investigating all kinds of things. The Blades also have a limited public face: agents and diplomats who work for the Emperor in an official capacity. However, this is a marginal aspect of their work. Blades agents also act as the secret bodyguards of the Emperor.
99% of Blades activity in Cyrodiil will be hidden from the player unless they are already a Blades member through the vanilla questline. Players cannot join the Blades independent of the vanilla faction.
This is a pan-Tamrielic "hard" faction, meaning that there are no province-specific varieties of it in existence.
The East Empire Company
Mercantile company chartered by the Empire. While it originated as a faction dedicated to exploiting Morrowind and Argonia, it has since spread out to form a near-monopoly on inter-provincial sea trade. Several lesser trade guilds compete with them on the local circuit. The EEC is a trans-provincial faction, and does not offer the option to join within Cyrodiil, However, the faction will acknowledge membership granted in Solstheim, and may offer quests and further rank progression based on that. The EEC is ruled by a board of directors in the Imperial City.
This is a pan-Tamrielic "hard" faction, meaning that there are no province-specific varieties of it in existence.
The Imperial Geographical Society
This scholarly organization does contractual work for the Empire's many maps and charts. Members are often attached to Legion expeditions to maintain and update sea and land maps. They are currently working on a new Pocket Guide to the Empire.
Small questline related to the creation of the PGE3, in which the player can provide field research.
The Imperial Archaeological Society
Associated with the Mages Guild(?). This scholarly organization mainly researches traces of previous Tamrielic civilizations. They are chartered by the Emperor to investigate Dwemer remnants in the east (and are infiltrated by the Blades for this reason). Within Cyrodiil, the Society is mainly interested in Ayleid ruins.
Cyrodiil Vampyrum Order
The Imperial province's native vampire clan. Ousted all other clans from their territory. The original name of their clan is a secret. Unlike other strains of vampirism, the Order can easily pass for human, allowing them to infiltrate various organizations. Secret agents have infiltrated the Mages Guild and Imperial bureaucracy.
These factions are defined by their opposition to the Empire or to Imperial culture. They are usually local rebels, often associated with nearby provinces. Some may offer the player the option to join or aid their cause. Usually associated with a regional storyline, or with a Twin Lamps-style short and indirectly triggered questline.
Political movement popular among the Nibenese upper class and native Elven minorities. Seek to revive ancient Ayleid morals and customs.
The Free Estates Movement
Popular political movement seeking the revival of the old Colovian Estate-kingdoms, either as semi-independent or wholly seceded from the east. The Free Estates operate in a rivalry/kinship with the Colo-Nordic Lords faction, and act as both adversaries and allies in the main Colo-Nord questline.
The Blackwood Company
A new mercenary organization based in Lleyawiin. Local quest importance.
The Renrijra Krin
Criminal organization and freedom fighters, Khajiiti guerrilla fighting against the Imperial occupation of the Molaquin Ren. Financed by the trade in Skooma and Moon Sugar.
Native Argonian tribes of the Blackwood region, fighting against Imperial influence in Blackwood.
Obscure Nibenese culture-group, jungle hillbillies and deviant cultists. Most Deepwood Nibenese are the descendants of exiles who fled into the jungle. Considered backwards and dangerous by urban Imperials.
The Kali Mes
Criminal Redguard organization, active in and around Sutch. Seeks to overthrow local Imperial rule and reunite the city with the province of Hammerfell. Supported by influential Redguard salt-merchants.
The Temple Zero Society
The Antitemple, a fraternity of scholars and mages with roots in Marukhati theology. Originally a society of teachers and truth-seekers, their discoveries and method are making them enemies of the Empire.
"Flavor" factions are localized, mostly passive factions that do not offer the player option to join. Mostly "soft" factions, unless it is necessary to give them unique dialogue.
Economical Flavor Factions
Briricca Company/Private Bank
Merchant and banking company.
Vintners, Silk-weavers, and Painters Guild are semi-important in that they are implicated in quests, or have multiple important locations.
Tailors, Furriers, Tinkers, Cobblers, Courtesans, Musicians, Furnishers, Potters, Glassblowers, Astrologers, and Scribes are currently unimportant and will likely be implemented similar to the "guildhalls" in Vivec City - i.e. one or two cells without specific importance.
Daedric Cult factions are non-joinable, but each offer a notable quest (or even a questline) to win the favor of their Daedric Prince and gain a powerful weapon or ability.
Horned Negotiator Cult
Dedicated to Boethiah, Prince of Plots, enemy of lawful authority, and patron of betrayal. Boethite worship is discouraged by authorities, who like to cement their legitimacy by persecuting the enemy of rightful rule. Despite this, the sect is a politically influential faction with ties to the Curia and Heartlands politics. Boethites believe that treason, cruelty and the violent lie are unnatural impulses, gifts of Boethiah that allow men to attain greatness against the world's natural order as ordained by the Divines.
Little Key Cult
Clavicus, Child-God of the Morningstar, associated with the spheres of mockery, oath-breaking, and wish fulfillment. Imperials consider him a patron of merchants and traders, worshiped since the days of the early Nedes. Traditionally, marketplaces are marked with the sign of the dog. The Little Key Cult is a powerful merchant religion that exerts considerable influence over Cyrodiil's trade routes. They emphasize serenity through wealth.
Gilded Eye Cult
Hermaeus Mora, also known as the Gardener of Men, is instinctively associated with the eastern jungle. He is the hoarder of forbidden secrets, popular among mages and scholars. Hermaeotics are united in the Gilded Eye Cult, a spy network that considers the hoarding of knowledge a sacrament unto itself.
Quarter Palm Cult
Mehrunes Dagon, the Lord of Razors, is both an enemy of the Empire and the Prince of Ambition and Energy, an inspiration for the audacious and a source of power for the disenfranchised. Before the Simulacrum, Dagon was worshiped by the respectable Shattered Mirrors Cult, which is now persecuted due to Tharn associations. Since then, other cults have taken their place, vying for supremacy. The Quarter Palm Cult is a nihilistic death cult among the Niben Bay farmers, known to perform ritual strangulation.
Mythic Dawn Cult
Another Mehrunes Dagon cult in competition with the former. Esoteric and charismatic, the Mythic Dawn has made headway in replacing the Shattered Mirrors among the Empire's middle class and government agents.
Placid Drowner Cult
Imperials see little worthwhile in honoring Molag Bal, the King of Strife, and his worship is subject to a heavy stigma. Apart from vampiric ritual, the most popular Bal sect is the Placid Drowner Cult, based on the sailor folklore that claims Bal is the master of the deep ocean, and must be placated with sacrifice. Adherents maintain secret shrines in port cities and aboard ships, where the ritually drown their victims.
Black Dictates Cult
An unpopular Prince, Namira is associated with beggars, hermits, and ascetics. Her nihilistic teachings are anathema to Imperial materialism and capitalism. The Black Dictates Cult is a brotherhood of beggar-monks who proclaim existence to be a random and meaningless mutation from the primordial darkness, to which it will one day return.
Hollow Grain Cult
An offshoot of the Black Dictates Cult popular among merchants and politicians. Using ritual mantras and drugs, adherents of this cult deaden emotional response and empathy. Mainly used as a technique to advance social status in the cut-throat political and commercial spheres of Cyrodiil.
False Worm Cult
Peryite, the Taskmaster, patron of accountants, archivists, clerks, and debt-collectors. Peryite is of special importance to the barristers and lawyers of Cyrodiil, whose guild is closely allied to the False Worm Cult. Humorless and myopic, the influence of the Peryisii is felt by all those who come in contact with the Empire's legal system.
Red Dancer Cult
Patron of debauchery and hedonism, Sanguine is one of the most popular Princes in the Imperial Province: the sign of the goat is a common marking for gambling dens and whorehouses. Some of the Emperors, like Reman or Antiochus, had a particular soft spot for him, and it is said that the lower halls of the Emperor's Palace still hold a shrine in his honor. His influence is strong in the Imperial City, where the influential Red Dancer Cult organizes the annual Crendali Festivals, which are accompanied by special celebratory fights in the Arena.
Derelict Mysteries Cult
In a society based on premises of law, speechcraft, and social standing, the effects of madness have a special significance. Sheogorath, protector and instigator of insanity, is worshiped by a collective of artists, poets, drunks, wrecks, and social outcasts, a refuge for those who have lost their social status through corruption, accident or incompetence. The adherents of Sheogorath maintain good relations with the Order of Mara, and often provide donations to her asylums and hospitals. Famous for their annual Ball in the Imperial City.
Dried Lotus Cult
Vaernima, prince of Omen and Dream, considered a protector of ferrymen and gondoliers. Thought to be a fortune spirit in the Nibenay, who can be invoked to ward off ill fortune or wish it upon another. The doctors of the Dried Lotus Cult have a monopoly on the trade in legal narcotics: shops, boats and market stalls run by Vaernimites can be found in every Nibenese city, selling any kind of sacred drug imaginable.
Cyrodiil is home to thousands of cults dedicated to thousands of gods, saints, spirits, and god-heroes. Most of these are fairly small, compared to the Great Faiths.
The Al-Esha Cult
Worship Alessia, the Liberator, first Saint of Cyrod, and Mother of Empires. A widespread, decentralized cult especially popular among commoners.
The Order of the Breath-of-Kyne
Worship the Mor-Bull, Morihaus, ancient cultural hero-god of the Cyro-Nordic peoples. The Breath Monks worship Morihaus in their Temples of First Breath, present throughout Cyrodiil. Their mother temple can be found in the Valley of Altars, in the holy city of Vengetho. Other prominent temples are in Anvil, the Imperial City, Mhorlagrad, Artemon, and Ato. An antique symbol of past dynasties.
The Temple of the Missing God
Worship Shezarr, the Cyrodiilic Lorkhan, in his aspect as Shezarr-Who-Goes-Missing. A rather obscure religion, consisting mainly of monks with a penchant for flagellation and mortification of the flesh. The Temple itself, a fortified monastery complex on the shores of Lake Rumare, houses most of their order. It is said that their loremasters and libraries hold clues to the location of other Shezarr temples, lost to time and the jungle, and that these could even be used to find some of the famous lost ur-cities of the Alessian Empire. There are many other Shezarrine cults in Cyrodiil such as the Unten Temple, the Order of the Temenatite, Shezacartha, the Cult of Ashesar, the Eutrophytic Dancers, the Syncretic Brotherhood of Seth, and the Lunciple Cult. Most are very unstable and prone to schisms and internal collapse.
Remanism and the Remanati Cult
Reman Cyrodiil, also called the Worldly God, was the founder of the Second Empire. The savage martial philosophy of the Remanati Cult, which emphasizes the channeling of violent impulses to attain greater levels of power and personal fulfillment, was established by the ascetics of Reman's court, who debated the life and deeds of their Emperor with the intent of imitating him. While the cult collapsed after the death of Reman III, its philosophies continued to be spread and are the basis of the modern hermetic philosophy of Remanism.
The Order of the Ancestor Moth
Also called the Ancestor Moth Cult, this monastic order is one of the oldest and most respected cults in Cyrodiil. The Order venerates the exalted Ancestor Moth, a creature of special significance to Imperial eschatology. It is also entrusted with the caring and interpreting of the Elder Scrolls, the Empire’s famous oracular tools.
The Cult of Heroes
A very popular cult located in the Imperial City. The Temple of Heroes is one of the miracles of the Imperial City, and an essential sight for any visitor. Within the spacious hall, thousands of banners, statues, votives, reliquaries, shrines and candles serve to honor the numberless saints. it serves to worship and placate the many martyrs, saints and hero-gods whom the Imperials have forgotten throughout the centuries.
The Esoteric Order of Shor
The Nordic-inspired leadership cult of the Colovian nobility. Worship of Shor is exclusive to those of noble Colo-Nordic blood, and shrines can only be found in the ancient cliff-fortresses of the Colovian lords. Shor rites play an important part in the secret traditions of the Colovian codes of virtue.
The Temple of the One
One of the most well-known remnants of the Marukhati faith, the Temple of the One is the last legitimate organization that still worships the One in Cyrodiil. They mainly serve a role in the rites of Imperial succession.
The Emperor Zero Cult
Worship of the hero-god Cuhlecain, mentor and father-figure to Tiber Septim, who was assassinated on the eve of his coronation as Emperor of Cyrodiil.
The Pelinati Cult
Once a key protector spirit of the Empire, worship of Pelinal Whitestrake has declined as the inclusion of the Elven nations in the Empire made the cult's message politically inconvenient.
The Qaith Cult
Worship of Qaith, an ocean god of obscure Elven origin.
The Sodality of Drisis
A Nibenese marsh-witch cult.
The Senna Cult
Worship a Nibenese god of common labor.
The Cala Cult
Worship of the deity Cala, three-faced goddess and mother-maiden-killer of the central valleys.
The Ashesar Cult
Worship a feminine aspect of Shezarr as a goddess of magic and purifying flames.
The Cult of the Theomachite
Worship Shandarr, a minor war-god associated with illegitimate or unnecessary war, or war for war’s sake.
The Vithros Cult
Worship the protector of passages and precipices, a god of the middle distance, a guardian of the entrance of temples, liminal spaces, and a weather spirit who presides over the hour before a storm.
The Sons of Hora
Worship of Hora, acroamatic many-eyed god of prophets, seers, and fortune tellers. Also the common ancestor of all Nedic and Beastmen tribes.
The Order of the Trichotomite
Worship the Triple Son of Sorcerers, a hermetic cult of the Divine Magnus.
The Thenalius Cult
Worship of the spirit Thenalius, a deity dedicated to the underground waters. He is the protector spirit of the Imperial City’s canals and sewers, as well as Lake Rumare and its surrounding waters (in some traditions). Often associated with the blind fish and lake serpents that dwell there. Prayer to Thenalius abjures the violent lake serpents and slaughterfish.
The Brotherhood of Eukatius
A cult and trade guild of the Nibenay’s tattoo artists. Eukatius, “The Thorny One” is the protector spirit of a specific kind of thorn bush whose berries are used as an ingredient for skin-ink.
The Adika Sect
The unregulated worship of Adika, a minor fortune spirit favored by thieves and criminals. Considered a goddess of injustice and protector of the guilty from lawful persecution.
The Order of Nepthia
As a minor spirit of funerary rites, worship of Nepthia is common among Arkayn sub-cults, funerary worker guilds, and death-cults in general.
The Cult of Nemetoria
Minor spirit dedicated to the maintenance of sacred groves and holy places.
The Arius Cult
A briefly popular god of fire whose worship has been banished to the eastern periphery.
The Syncretic Brotherhood of Seth
A deviant nihilistic philosophy whose worship has been banished to Argonia.