Bethesda's Skyrim has a total of 273 unique quests for players to complete, spanning from murderous assassinations to fighting for the Empire to uncovering your Dragonborn powers. One popular quest many players will encounter is Diplomatic Immunity, which is part of the main game's quest storyline. It involves infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy by way of a party in order to gain information on the Thalmor's plans and what they know on the return of the Dragons.
This quest is superb for those who love stealth games and spy elements. It’s got the whole package: a disguise, infiltration, distractions, murder, theft of classified information, and allies on the inside. Read below for a full detailed guide on the whole quest and what to watch out for while playing Dragonborn James Bond.
Unlocking The Quest
After completing The Way of the Voice, the Dragonborn will have practiced their Shouts with the Greybeards of High Hrothgar and will be started on the next quest, The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. Retrieving the Horn for Arngeir will lead players to Delphine, who has already claimed the Horn in order to meet the Dragonborn in person.
This is how A Blade in The Dark begins, which has the player tasked with slaying a dragon to prove their Dragonborn powers to Delphine. One of the last living members of the Blades, Delphine will send you to Kynesgrove to kill the dragon Sahloknir, having been brought back to life by Alduin himself. After absorbing the soul of Sahloknir, Delphine will trust you enough to reveal her Blade identity, as well as her secret room underneath Riverwood's Sleeping Giant Inn.
Safely secured in Delphine's secret office, she'll bring you in on her plan for finding out what the Thalmor knows about the return of the dragons. Thalmor Ambassador Elenwen loves throwing lavish parties at the Thalmor Embassy, so Delphine plans to send you to a party, disguised as an important guest. Once you're inside, you'll search for any and all information the Thalmor has hidden away. It's a classic spy mission, and Delphine has someone on the inside: a Bosmer Elf named Malborn.
Delphine will send you to the Winking Skeever tavern in order to meet Malborn, who can be found behind the bar. He works at the Thalmor Embassy and offers you a chance to sneak in items that wouldn't be allowed past security. You'll only get one chance to give Malborn items, so make sure you have everything you want to give him when you talk to him.
Consider what weapons and armor you'll want to use, as there will be Thalmor guards in the Embassy. Malborn has no limit to what he can smuggle in, but make sure it doesn't over encumber your character later. Lockpicks are also recommended since there is treasure to grab inside and this quest will be the only opportunity you'll have to be inside the actual building.
Entering The Party
After you give your desired equipment to Malborn, you'll head to Katla's Farm in Solitude where Delphine will give you both your official party invitation and proper Party Clothes so the Dragonborn will blend in. Delphine also will hold all the gear and items you didn't give to Malborn, which you can retrieve in her office in the Sleeping Giant Inn afterward. You'll automatically board the carriage heading to the Embassy after talking to Delphine, so make sure you're ready when you speak to her.
Arriving at the Embassy, you'll meet the drunk Razelan of the East Empire Company (who will be very useful later on), as well as a Thalmor Guard checking your invitation. Elenwen will ambush you immediately after entering, wanting to know everything about the mysterious guest at her party. Luckily, your friend on the inside Malborn will distract her for us before she sees through the disguise. Grab a drink from Malborn afterward and peruse the party and its guests, many of which are randomized or selected based on your previous actions in the game.
Creating A Distraction
Players who have completed many different quests before Diplomatic Immunity will find themselves at an advantage when it comes to creating a distraction. Certain characters may appear depending on which quests you've fulfilled. Almost all of them can be used to create a distraction and allow the Dragonborn to slip away unnoticed. Here's a full list of who you can encounter:
- Balgruuf the Greater: Players who have finished the Battle for Whiterun will run into Balgruuf at the party, who is distinctly not having a good time in the presence of Thalmor. The Jarl will be glad to help you out if you ask, promptly starting a fake argument with the inebriated Razelan.
- Elisif the Fair: Elisif's appearance is randomized, but whether or not she'll help you out depends on if you've completed Elisif's Tribute, a quest that involves honoring her deceased husband, former High King Torygg. If you have, you'll need a Speech Skill of at least 50 to get her help, which comes in the form of bullying Razelan.
- Erikur: This thane is another character with a randomized appearance, but getting his help only requires a little manipulation… and messing with a woman's career. Erikur spends the party being sleazy towards one of the servers, a Bosmer Elf named Brelas. The Dragonborn can speak to Brelas about this unwanted attention and use it to create a distraction by talking to Erikur again. No matter if you lie or tell the truth about Brelas, she will be thrown in the dungeon, as it's Erikur's word against hers. Thankfully, you can free her later in the quest, the least you can do after putting her through such trauma. After being freed, Brelas moves to Windhelm, living in the Candlehearth Hall.
- General Tullius: Highly regarded Imperial General for the Legion, Tullius appears if the player has finished Message to Whiterun and there is no civil war attack ongoing. After all, a war General would have more important things to do than attend a Thalmor party. You won't get any help with distractions from him, however. He's just there to vibe.
- Idgrod Ravencrone: The Jarl of Hjaalmarch is a fascinating woman who uses "visions" from the Eight Divines to guide her decision-making. If you've completed the quest Laid to Rest and are not currently on the quest Thane of Hjaalmarch, Idgrod will appreciate your previous aid and will also cause a ruckus for you. She envisions terrible things about Razelan, the poor man, though she means him no harm.
- Igmund: The Jarl of Markarth has a random chance of appearing, and all you need to enlist his help is a relationship above zero (meaning you've assisted him before) and a Speech Skill of 50 or above.
- Maven Black-Briar: You'll most likely see Maven Black-Briar at the party unless she's the Jarl of Riften or you're on the quest Dampened Spirits. Having a positive relationship with her will convince her to help you out, but you'll have to be the Master of the Thieves Guild to do it.
- Ondolemar: One of the most interesting interactions in the entire quest is getting an Altmer Elf to help you steal Thalmor information, even if it is unintentional. Ondolemar is a Thalmor Justiciar in the Understone Keep of Markarth, and players who have helped him expose Bard Ogmund's Talos Worship (in the quest Search and Seizure) can request a favor from him. If Markarth is still under Imperial Rule and you have a Speech Skill of 50 or above, Ondolemar will agree and start harassing Razelan.
- Orthus Endario: Orthus is a pretty average guy compared to the rest of the guests. In order for Orthus to appear and help you out, you'll need to have completed the Rise in the East quest, which involves slaying some pirates for the East Empire Company.
- Proventus Avenicci: Though Proventus can't help with a distraction, he can appear as a guest if Message to Whiterun is not currently active and The Whispering Door is either complete or below stage 80.
- Razelan: The reliable drunk, Razelan will always be at the party and is used in almost every character's distraction method, but he's also the easiest distraction option himself, especially for players who can't convince others to help them. Simply give Razelan a drink and he'll go off on an inappropriate speech about Elenwen, giving you time to sneak off.
- Siddgeir: The Jarl of Falkreath may grace the party, but only a Thane of Falkreath with a high Speech Skill could possibly convince him to assist.
- Vittoria Vici: Famous Solitude bride-to-be has a small chance of appearing at the party unless the Dragonborn has started/completed the Dark Brotherhood quest Bound Until Death. If players have completed The Spiced Wine quest and gotten Vittoria to relinquish Evette San's Spiced Wine from costly tariffs, they'll have the option to persuade her to create a distraction (solely as a prank, of course). Like other guests, the Dragonborn will need a Speech Skill of at least 50 to convince her.
While the incident is occurring, simply sneak out of the main room and towards the kitchen.
The Sneaking Begins
Once in the kitchen, you'll notice Malborn has blackmailed the Khajhit cook to not say anything about your presence, so you can safely grab your stashed items and proceed to the next stage of the quest, as Malborn locks the door behind you.
You'll then need to formulate a strategy of getting past all the Thalmor guards. Wearing Hooded Thalmor Robes can help make it harder to detect you, but you'll have to encounter the Thalmor Wizard upstairs. Most players opt to practice their stealthy sneaking around the guards' patrols. If you keep getting caught, murder is also an option.
There are guards having a conversation in the first hallway you'll go through, which you can listen in on. Finishing their conversation allows you time to sneak past them upstairs and kill the Thalmor Wizard quietly and get his robes.
The outside courtyard is tricky, considering there are three different Thalmor guards and a Wizard who won't buy your disguise. You'll need to enter the Solar of Elenwen, though, so attacking them may be necessary. Stealth archery can help you gain an advantage and not be immediately swarmed by guards. Spells like Calm and Fury will also work in your favor, as well as invisibility and high Stealth.
Extracting The Info
Once in the Solar, find the plant to hide behind and listen to the talk between Thalmor Rulindil and informant Gissur. They discuss their interrogation victim, Etienne, along with an unnamed old man. Gissur will leave the building after and Rulindil goes to the dungeon, leaving you to sneak past (or kill) a guard to get the interrogation chamber key from a chest in the northwestern corner.
Also in the chest are files by the Thalmor on Delphine, Ulfric Stormcloak, and their investigations on the Dragons, exactly the info Delphine wanted us to find.
In the dungeon, Rulindil will be making a guard torture Etienne for info until he passes out. You can then proceed to kill both of them to get what you need, or you can use stealth to sneak past them both. Fighting Rulindil is not recommended, due to his powerful wizardry skills, though he does have considerable loot to grab. A stealthy backstab would work nicely.
Making Your Escape
You can free Etienne and ask him for information now, or you can get the same info from the Thalmor Dossier: Esbern in the chest near his cell. After this, go up the east staircase and you'll find Malborn, who has been revealed as a traitor. The two Thalmor soldiers will kill him on the spot if you don't intervene, so make sure to act fast or save beforehand. The soldiers will have a trap door key on them, making it that more reasonable to kill them.
If you used Erikur to provide a distraction earlier, this will be the only moment you can free Brelas, who was thrown in the dungeon for the incident. You now have three NPCs following you, none of which can fight or defend themselves. Swell! Use the trap door key to enter Reeking Cave and leave the Thalmor Embassy behind for good.
Your inept, temporary followers will try to kill the troll waiting in the cave. This will most likely lead to their death, so try to run ahead and take care of it if you want them to survive. Notable items in Reeking Cave include the Illusion Skill book Before the Ages of Man and an Unusual Gem.
Once you've exited the cave, your followers will all disperse and go their separate ways, so you can head back to Riverwood and inform Delphine of what you learned, as well as grab the rest of your equipment. Telling her the Thalmor want Esbern shocks her, as Esbern is a former Blade living in hiding in Riften. This will be your next destination in the journey, but this marks the completion of Diplomatic Immunity. A Cornered Rat will start right after. A Dragonborn's work never ends!