What are all those hobo signs in Skyrim about?

Skyrim is filled with many tiny details, right down to the butterfly you can pluck straight out of the air.  Its these little details that often keep me coming back for more.  One thing I noticed early on, but didn’t pay much heed to was the crazy hobo signs on houses (called “shadowmarks” in this game) and now there is an easy graphic to understand them with!

Hobo signs are actually a thing in real life.  They exist to tell other drifters when a house is dangerous, welcoming, has warm food, a place to sleep, etc.  Its an unofficial system that has existed in the United States since at least the 19th century.  Its probably not very widely used these days, but obviously a great way to communicate possibly life-saving information to fellow hobos.

Skyrim really takes their immersion to the next level by incorporating their own hobo sign system (as pictured above) with information that may even be valuable to the player.  The meanings of these symbols is listed in a handy graphic below:


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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

3 responses to “What are all those hobo signs in Skyrim about?”

  1. Emily says :

    I remember fantasy author Robin Hobb referencing the same kind of symbol system in the Tawny Man series of novels. Anyway, I hadn’t noticed the symbols while playing in Skyrim personally, but I’m going to keep an eye out for them the next time I can bring myself to play it.

  2. Yso_ says :

    Awesome! I’d noticed the signs, but had no idea they were part of a system; I assumed it was just a random nordic decoration. But this is good to know.

  3. Caleb says :

    How did you find these?
    Appreciate it though!

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