Barbas, the Daedric dog companion that can serve as a follower in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has even more unique traits than one might expect.
Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is host to hundreds of unique characters, many of which can join up with the player on their journey across the game’s expansive open world. Mages, elves, and even dogs are available to be recruited to tag along into battle.
Most followers in The Elder Scrolls operate under the same general AI, and therefore have set behaviors that players can expect to carry across characters. When hurt, followers will take a knee to recover health, they will sneak when the player sneaks, and can be told to wait or be dismissed at any given time. Humanoid followers can carry items for the Dragonborn, but players can pick up non-humanoid companions as well, such as dogs or armored trolls.
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Skyrim’s Barbas, the canine companion of the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile, can be picked up just outside of Falkreath starting at level ten. He’s classified as a quest follower – meaning he’ll only accompany the player throughout the duration of a certain relevant quest and cannot be killed. While this, plus his relatively powerful combat abilities, make him a seemingly good choice as an ally on adventures in Skyrim, there’s more to Barbas than meets the eye.
The Trouble With Skyrim’s Barbas
Every follower in Skyrim has their pros and cons to consider when choosing to recruit them, and Barbas is no different. Like every dog in Skyrim, his barking is incessant – and while it may not alert enemies, it will more than likely start to become grating sooner rather than later. He also follows right on the player character’s heels, much like a real dog, often resulting in players getting boxed into corners or pushed off of cliffs and bridges.
All of that is fairly standard when it comes to Skyrim followers. Even human followers are likely to bump into the player from time to time, and some of their commentary can be just as repetitive as Barbas’ barking. But most followers in Skyrim, quest-related or otherwise, also share another feature: they don’t get in the way of stealth mechanics. Followers will sneak when the Dragonborn sneaks, and won’t trigger the seeing eye alert when players wander into their line of sight. This means they won’t see or report any crimes players choose to commit. Even with a follower, players are free to steal and pickpocket without repercussions so long as no other NPCs are around to see the act.
Barbas, however, is not technically counted as a proper follower, likely because of his quest status. While on one hand this means players can recruit an additional follower and still keep Barbas around, it also means he doesn’t follow the exact same behaviors as other potential companions. Most notably? He’ll report the Dragonborn if they are in his line of sight while committing a crime. Players will receive a bounty if Barbas sees them stealing – this, plus his aforementioned tendency to bark nonstop and bump into just about everything, makes him ill-suited to accompany a stealth-focused Dragonborn and a bad choice to have around during the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood questlines.
But if players are looking to create an interesting roleplay experience while replaying Skyrim, then Barbas might just be an excellent choice to bring along on travels. It’s true to form for the Daedra within the franchise to be difficult and mischievous – so if players are in the market for a dose of Daedric troublemaking, Barbas is definitely a good source.
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