Skyrim EP3: Catbert the Swifter

By Rutskarn
on Feb 8, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

Professor Rutskarn’s Introduction to Elder Scrolls Cosmology 101: Aedra and Daedra

So once upon a time, a bunch of nerd gods out in nerdspace decided they wanted to make a model universe. So they did, and it was pretty cool at first. Everyone got so into it they self-inserted themselves as planets and spent all their time in this fake universe they made. But then they started bickering hardcore, and this one guy was such a tool that he ended up getting kicked out (although if you ask him, he’ll say he left of his own free will).

But on his way out he ended up tearing a hole into another dimension. A dimension of rad dudes, who smoke and drink beer and party on school nights. And even though they didn’t make the nerd-universe, since they were too busy getting laid, they still had all their powers because they were coming in through the hole.

“Hey!” said the nerds. “This is our universe! We worked really hard on it! Get out!”

“You worked hard on this? Haha, dudes, come check this out. Look, they even made little people and shit.”

“Those people love us and they worship us as Gods! It’s very rewarding and life-enriching!”

“Oh yeah? Hey, that does sound like fun. Hey, little people, worship us too!”

“Th-this isn’t your universe! You can’t make them worship y–“

“CHECK IT OUT LITTLE DUDES, I’M MAKING IT RAIN MONEY AND ARTIFACTS! GO KILL EACH OTHER!”

“Stop! Stop! You’re ruining it!”

That’s basically the Elder Scrolls cosmology.

Tune in for next week’s lecture.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!20201241 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. Melfina the Blue says:

    Best explanation EVER!

  2. Tse says:

    Seems Youtube isn’t done processing the video. Max resolution as of this moment is 480p.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I say we need more of professor Rutskarn in every game.That was so funny.

    And now lets watch the episode.

  4. Sacae says:

    Shamus: “The idea is good, the thought is good” *pats Bethesda’s head*

  5. Jacob Albano says:

    I was about to make a snarky comment about Josh looting containers that are clearly marked (Empty).

    Then I realized I do the same thing every single time.

    • LupusAmens says:

      I have recently started playing New vegas again and in Old World Blues all the crates ever contain 2 of 3 things:
      – a couple of caps (which is weird seeing as they had no value in the old world)
      – old world money (let’s stuff these 4 bucks in this crate for reasons)
      – cartons or packs of cigarettes (either everybody smoked a lot or nobody did while still buying the cartons, which had to be stashed EVERYWHERE)

      and one or two misc. items with no value.

      which results in me now being able to auto loot the sigs, money and caps without reading and every run i come back to the sink with around 18 cartons and 18 packs of cigarettes.
      which i have to stuff in a locker with 120 of their brothers/sisters because the sink AI has run out of caps.

      • The presence of bottle caps (as well as why the Sink accepts them) is due to Mobius, who correctly predicted that the bottle cap would become the new economic currency unit of the post-Great War economy.

        As far as how they got there, the lobotomites are all former wasteland wanderers and other unfortunates Big MT’s drones have captured, so the area’s stockpile of caps (as well as other misc objects and how they’ve been stuck in odd places) is probably from the semi-brainless population of the area.

      • I will say this: Big MT had a missed opportunity vis-a-vis currency. It was a pretty big vestige of the old world, and much like how Dead Money’s Sierra Madre had only casino chips and old world money, it would’ve been nice if caps had been nigh-worthless at Big MT and old money had been the base unit of exchange.

        I don’t remember which game it was (or if this is just my memory being wonky), but I seem to recall a “back in the day” post-apoc RPG where some people/places wanted old world money (usually places where there were more remains of civilization) while others wanted barter or whatever the post-war unit of exchange was. This might have been 1st edition Gamma World, but I’m not certain.

  6. Theminimanx says:

    And so the adventures of the Dovahkitty continue.
    I’ve had that pun stuck in my head since the first episode.

    I am so sorry.

  7. BlooDeck says:

    The thing I actually liked most about Morrowind was that in this alien environment, occasionally you would find a standard fantasy town or a Roman style fortress. It heightened it for me that this is a strange strange place and that you should be thinking that.

    • ET says:

      Yeah, Morrowind had a sweet alien/hallucination kind of vibe to most of the game world, which was super cool.
      Giant bugs, floaty sky-jellyfish (I think; It’s been a while since I’ve played the game.), and other cool stuff.
      It definitely had it’s problems, but I think I lucked out, by having it be the first…only Elder Scrolls game I’ve actually played.
      Also, it was pretty fun to enchant perma-duration 1-point “flight” Rings Of Epic Cloud-Like Floatation, and make potions of STAT + 10000. :P

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What the….A sexy lich.A sexy lich with big boobs.A SKELETON with big BOOBS.That is seriously fucked up.

    • Nordicus says:

      Yeah that game’s seriously fucked u- OH, you’re just talking about the lich lady. Okay…

      (Still, the game’s pretty damn bad on its own)

    • Ygor says:

      I remember the first time I saw that picture I was unsure what to think- until I realized that there’s probably someone, somewhere, that finds this kind imagery arousing….

      On the other hand though, it kind of looks like Michael Jackson, if you remove the boobs.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        I read about a recent PS Vita game (obviously from Japan, because seriously, who are we kidding) that had a lot of censorship needed before it could be released anywhere else. The main issue was pedophilia (natch), but the thing that struck me was that among the list of monsters that needed to be toned down were Kraken, Rafflesia, Skeleton, and Death Scorpion.

        DEATH. SCORPION.

        • Alex says:

          “…the thing that struck me was that among the list of monsters that needed to be toned down were Kraken, Rafflesia, Skeleton, and Death Scorpion.

          DEATH. SCORPION.”

          I assume “Death Scorpion” means “sexy lady with scorpion claws and maybe a stinger”. Otherwise, yeah…

          • syal says:

            I’m more disturbed by needing to change Kraken, to be honest.

            Although I’m wondering how much of it was phallic instead; like, the death scorpion’s stinger was a giant penis or something.

            • The Rocketeer says:

              “Although I’m wondering how much of it was phallic instead; like, the death scorpion’s stinger was a giant penis or something.”

              You have fundamentally misunderstood the purpose of the game. I would not be surprised if the game had a single male character, although I would be surprised the player was not referred to as male.

              I know I’m speaking in generalities, but I am not willing to name the title in question. GIS didn’t turn up anything explicit, but neither did it turn up anything I’d want to be seen with in public.

              • The Rocketeer says:

                Scratch that first paragraph, I would be surprised if the game had any male characters. I let my negatives get away from me there.

                • Gilfareth says:

                  Personally, I still love when they do this sort of thing for the purpose of absurdity as opposed to sex appeal and then no one bothers to change it. Shin Megami Tensei, for example, has my favorite example in the form of Mara (NSFW, but also hilarious).

                  Plus, there’s stuff where sexy monsters are kind of the point. That exists.

    • syal says:

      Fingers crossed it’s an illusion she maintains for vanity reasons, but the boobs on the other characters mean I really don’t expect it.

    • C0Mmander says:

      I guess it would depend in how old she is. But still, it’s the kind of thing that, when you stop and think about it, makes you wonder the competence of the art team.

    • Warrax says:

      I’m not an expert on Forgotten Realms lore (I always hated that campaign setting), but I’m pretty sure Eliminster got it on with a lady lich once.

      She might have been polymorphed or something. I’m not sure, I didn’t read the novel, but he knew what he was doing.

    • Alex says:

      “Getting those breast implants seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I just look ridiculous!”

    • Tse says:

      It’s even more fucked up when you think about how most of the breast tissue would have to turn into soap in order to keep some of its shape.

      • Felblood says:

        Maybe she stuffs. –but like, stuffing her own corpse, instead of just stuffing her bra.

        We don’t know.

        I mean, we don’t know what the social pressures of being a sorceress are going to do to the self-esteem of a young lady lich, barely out of her fourth century.

        Even a living wizard can let himself go a bit and grow out his beard, and people are like, “Eh, he does the magics even if he’s not much to look at.” However, to be taken seriously as a sorceress, one needs to take considerably more care towards one’s appearance.

    • Amnestic says:

      I’m not sure what it says about me that I didn’t even notice that the Lich had boobs. I mean, I got that it was a Lady Lich, but I didn’t even consciously acknowledge the chesticles.

      I’d not get down on them too harshly for this. The idea of having the female non-skeletal undead marked by breasts is not even remotely unusual for video games and while it may be utterly ridiculous from a biological standpoint, they’re undead, not dead.

      I’d like to believe the boobs weren’t done for arousement purposes or sexual titillation but simply as a visual reference that it is, in fact, a Lady Lich and that some(/most?) gamers have come to expect that visual confirmation from previous undead-bearing titles.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        But thats the thing,a lich(in d&d at least)is a skeletal undead.Sure,it may posses some skin,but skin is not tissue,its still just a skeleton.

      • Rutskarn says:

        Kinda my whole point is that a lot of people apparently didn’t blink an eye at, “Yes, this videogame character is a dessicated corpse, but it’s also a lady, so big tits.”

        Which isn’t a judgement on those people, or the artists! The point isn’t “All y’all sexist,” the point is, “Nobody noticed because this is business as usual, but when you think about it objectively, it’s pretty fucking weird.”

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          And it has been weird for a long time now.Remember rabbit tits back in space jam?

          • Rem says:

            THat’s kind of a moot point when you consider talking, anamorphic animals as the norm.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              But not when you consider that there were plenty of female animals in that universe,none of which had boobs,except for that rabbit in that movie.

              Not to mention that plenty of female animals,just like their male counterparts,were usually naked.For example: vimeo.com/68530417

        • Amnestic says:

          Would you think it less weird if that was specifically called out as an aspect of the Lich’s personality? That they went to certain lengths in order to preserve their body as much as possible? The idea of a primping and preening undead who wants to maintain their appearance is not unheard of in fiction.

          Should it *need* to be called out, if so, or could the reason behind their…odd preservation aspects be left a mystery, and would that detract any from the actual story? For some people it seems to, but others (like myself) gloss right over it.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            However,any lich will always have access to a umber of illusion and polymorph spells,and some may also have access to permanency.So any lich willing to maintain their appearance would do so in a way much better than a rotting corpse with tits.

            Plus,theres the whole thing that liches are mostly skeletal,with only a few of them having some skin left.

            • Amnestic says:

              Maybe it’s a psychological tactic? Maybe they wanna feel pretty while also being intimidating and it’s a backup polymorph? In the teaser/intro/trailer/whatever cutscene the Lichlady starts off appearing all beautiful and then their skin starts to magically crack away leaving them in their undead form. Undead+boobies might be confusing to fight against. Or something.

              I dunno! If they lampshaded that it was weird and had one of the NPCs say “It’s weird how the Lich still has so much flesh. Aren’t they usually skeletal?” without providing an actual answer as to why, would it make it better?

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Yes,lampshading it would do the trick,because then you wouldnt think “Damn,these developers are weird”,but rather “This is one messed up lich.What is her deal?”.Heck,people would dive into her backstory in droves just to find out why she has such a fetish.

                • Axe Armor says:

                  This seems like a lot of effort to justify a pair of tits that no one asked for. The boys aren’t expressing interest in your corpse tits, and the girls are already giving you the side-eye because you have revealed yourself to be a person who draws tits on corpses. The tits do not require justification; they benefit literally zero people.

                  Personally, I think we are held back by our insistence on drawing lips and tits on our girl monsters. A tattered dress and a womanly voice are all the indicators necessary to identify a completely skeletal lich as a girl lich. We should just do that.

      • Benjamin Hilton says:

        TV Tropes

        Yeah, right or wrong this has been around forever.

  9. Neko says:

    I was already considering it for my next playthrough from the first two episodes, but ok yeah, now I have to make an Unarmed character.

  10. Ryan says:

    Nah, Mang, you’re making it sound like the aedra like what they created.

    Lorkhan tricked the other aedra into thinking it’d be rad as hell to create a universe. It’d be totally better than just hanging it in semi-existence as an immortal, unchanging spirit. But man, turns out it kinda sucks. It’s hard work keeping things like laws of physics straight. And all those little spirits who just sort of hung around you beforehand have to eat and sleep and stuff, and if they don’t, they can die! and man, death sucks. What the hell was Lorkhan thinking?

    So all the aedra with enough power that they don’t have to dedicate their entire existence to, like, fluid dynamics get together at a big ol’ tower called Ada-Mantia to decide what the hell went wrong. People start pointing fingers at Lorkhan, who seems suspiciously well off in this new world even though Auriel was supposed to be king. Auriel and the others want out, Lorkhan’s like “man, too bad.” Magnus is like “hell naw too bad I’m bouncing” and so he and his posse try to break out with force, tearing open holes to Aetherius and maiming themselves pretty badly in the process. Auriel gets fed up with Lorkhan for lying to the other aedra, and so he and his man Trinimac tear Lorkhan’s heart out and tie it to an arrow, which Auriel launches across Tamriel. With this done, the Aedra recognize that it’d be best for everyone involved if they went along with the stupid plan Lorkhan had stuck them in. They stop walking around in corporeal form, time solidifies, and history proper begins.

    Meanwhile, the daedra are checking this out from their peanut gallery. They thought Lorkhan’s plan was dumb from the beginning, so they just sort of watched, then recognized that they could have some fun screwing with the aedra by stealing mortals’ time and effort.

    This is, of course, just one of the many different views on creation as presented in the Monomyth as compiled by the Psijics of Artaeum. that book should be the first stop of anyone interested in checking out Tamrielic creation myths.

    • Entropy says:

      Oh, and if we’re getting into the Towers, yeah, those things pretty much hold creation together, and almost all of them are deactivated.

      Oh, and the Thalmor, they WANT to deactivate them, so that creation can be remade but without Talos being part of the Aedra and without Men existing.

      • MadHiro says:

        My understanding is that the Thalmor don’t want creation remade, they just want it unmade as an express ticket back to the freedom they possessed as unembodied spirits in the Before. There are plenty of other ways to ascend/transcend/broscend, but that’s how they roll. Which is twice as bent when you consider that most of the Towers were constructed by the Mer in the first place in straight up emulation of Auriel/Aka(tusk)’s creation of Ada-Mantia.

        Its also my understanding that Auriel/Aka(tusk) created linear time at Convention for the express purpose of allowing Lorkhan’s punishment to have meaning. The entire unspooling of history that followed is simply an unintended side-effect of Auriel/Aka(tusk) having a snit fit.

        • Entropy says:

          It’s entirely possible, I’ve seen it written both ways. Either way, the Thalmor basically want the removal of Man from existence, and Talos from the Divines.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      There are a number of things in your version that I’m tempted to pick apart, but that’s just the thing about TES lore: there are so many conflicting versions of it that nothing can be called true except in the broadest strokes. This is a good thing, though.

      For Bethesda, it means they aren’t pinned down to any one particular interpretation of most things, freeing up what they can do with the lore with impunity. It gives the players a great deal to work with while still leaving that essential wiggle room.

      For people who care about the lore, like me, it creates a motive to seek out as much information on the past as you can find, to try and piece together the whole truth from a thousand parts, always needing just one more quest or one more book.

      And for people who care about worldbuilding, like me again, it makes the history and myth feel epic, and lends a bit of realism to the world: if the events of everything before the Merethic era are basically incomprehensible to men and mer alike, why shouldn’t there be a thousand different attempts to capture the essence of it? And why shouldn’t they vary and conflict with one another after thousands of years of mutation and adaptation by a variety of cultures?

      Oh, to know what Akavir thinks of the moons!

      • Ryan says:

        Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff in my account I actually disagree with, which is the really crazy thing.

        Did Lorkhan lie to the other Aedra about what Mundus would be like? Did he tell the truth, but was betrayed by Auriel? Where did the other Aedra stand on creation? Is the point of Mundus to make possible the Endeavor to something greater, or is it a cruel trap by a jealous trickster?

        • The Rocketeer says:

          The only thing certain about Lorkhan is that he holds one hell of a grudge. I love reading the Song of Pelinal (and hate how the character was represented in Knights of the Nine.)

          Here’s the thing I don’t get, though: Lorkhan originated the idea of creating Mundus, or at least of creating a world or realm, but the “blueprint,” the entire how and where and what, was devised by Magnus, as attested to by multiple sources. If Magnus didn’t realize that the creation of Mundus would lead to the ‘death’ and degeneration of the et’Ada, would Lorkhan even have known, either?

          Either way, doesn’t that make Magnus incompetent? Either because he could not envision the effects of his own plan, and that he couldn’t have come up with anything different, or better? And then he saves his own skin fleeing back to Aetherius, leaving Lorkhan to a summary execution by Kano heart-rip Fatality, and the other Aedra stuck raising an ugly baby. And that’s why all mages are assholes.

          So yeah, if I was Lorkhan, I would have been pretty pissed. No wonder he prefers humans to elves.

        • Faren says:

          The Monomyth book (I think, it may have been a different book) explains Lorkhan’s motivation. Before the creation of Mundus, most Aedra were little more than ideas floating around and dieing out, and Lorkhan was one of them. His entire existence was the idea of creating the world. Although, again, that was just one interpretation.

          • Ryan says:

            A more interesting viewpoint can be found in the book Sithis, which I’m pretty sure is the Velothi creation myth.

            • The Rocketeer says:

              Perhaps Velothi in spirit, although the text in question seems to antedate 1E 700, and might be considered more Ashlander than Velothi at that point. Actual text from the Velothi era predating the First Council is almost unheard of.

              The interesting part of this version is that it alleges Lorkhan as a Padomaic- a Daedra, posing as an Aedra. It goes on to allege that Lorkhan’s purpose was to simply destroy the universe as it existed before Mundus. Lorkhan’s motivation is a common sticking point, and any additional viewpoint on it is interesting.

        • Klay F. says:

          Honestly, from a general standpoint, most of it is completely irrelevant, because its pretty clear in other sources, that its the simple act of belief that makes things true regarding gods. This is why a high elf can go to Sovengard without getting roflstomped by Ysgramor or Shor. Its also why a Nord can go the the Redguard afterlife if he believes in it.

  11. Irridium says:

    So, basically, the Deadra are Mumbles and crashed the nerds’ Dungeons and Dragons party?

    I love Elder Scrolls lore.

    • Irridium says:

      Oh, and if you want to get more into it, you can read this 4 part series on how the player characters in Elder Scrolls games are basically lucid dreamers (there’s a LOT more too it, of course) and can shape the world to their will, which means that the construction kit that comes with the PC version of the game and every mod ever made could all technically be considered lore-friendly.

      Again, I love Elder Scrolls lore.

  12. Mailbox says:

    Last episode I made a comment about illusion magic. In this episode Josh found the spell for fury, but then I realized, oh yeah, he’s a cat person and all I can think about now is finding some way to make a joke about fury and being furry. Nothing more clever to say than that.
    The draugr get more interesting when they start to have shouts. The disarm shout is of notable concern for melee weapon characters. Unrelenting force can be annoying. But I always prefurred fighting bandits or other human enemies. They have battle dialogue and we know how funny that is.

    Something I want to bring up now that will hopefully be relevant later. Take note on how josh is looting corpses for gold and possessions and stealing random things that he can then later sell for gold. I’ll explain should the time come.

    • Amnestic says:

      The disarm shout is the worst damn thing they could’ve added to the draugr. I can accept being debuffed and knocked down and damaged and the like, but when I’m in a game where occasionally items, bodies, and everything else just falls through the world it is damned stupid to give enemies a spammable disarm move.

      Twice I lost my weapon to the stupid disarm in a huge room. Did it fall through the world? Did it just vanish in a dark corner that was impossible to find? I dunno! But it was lame.

      • Zerotime says:

        Assault On Dragon Keep for Borderlands 2 added a gun as a quest reward that has a 10% chance to be dropped when you reload it. Standing too close to a ledge? On a grate? Near a buggy piece of level geometry? Better do a hard reset and hope the game didn’t save!

        • Felblood says:

          Suddenly, I find myself much more interested in Borderlands 2 DLC.

          After the Island of Doctor Z, I didn’t look at the DLC for the sequel, but that is a brilliant riff on classic Gygax and his sadistic gotcha items.

          • Vect says:

            Well, the item in particular is basically a joke about rolling critical fails. The quest attached to the gun has the players consecutively rolling zeros on picking up the gun, with bad stuff happening each time.

    • PeteTimesSix says:

      A fan of cat puns, are we? I believe its my duty as an inhabitant of the internet to drop this here link to Prequel Adventure, then. Doesnt get more appropriate than that.

  13. Nordicus says:

    That suplex was a beautiful work of art

    • McNutcase says:

      It needs to go into the credits.

    • Deadyawn says:

      It really was. When I saw that there was no unarmed skill in Skyrim I was dissapointed but I guess I should’ve known better than to think that would make unarmed not viable, I mean this is Bethesda we’re talking about.

      Hell, even if it wasn’t really viable I’d still do it for those sick suplexes.

      • Felblood says:

        The damage starts out great, but it falls behind as you progress.

        Even so, I only really break out the weapons for tough enemies or stealth kills, because–look at that!

  14. The Rocketeer says:

    The fact that Rutskarn’s synopsis of Elder Scrolls creation lore is more or less accurate just makes it burn even more that I know a great, GREAT deal of TES lore.

    Actually, paying attention to TES lore is a huge mistake just for the fact that both Oblivion and Skyrim took lots of things that were built up as being really, really cool and unique and canonizing them as mundane and uninspired. Cyrodiil, Oblivion, the dragons…

    And that’s not even touching what they did to the Falmer. It was definitely intentional in that case, but it still stings to know the Falmer from their description in “The Snow Prince,” and then see what came of them. Even if it even further cements the Dwemer’s status as the biggest assholes ever.

  15. Akuma says:

    That suplex was a thing of beauty. I had to actually clap.

  16. Disc says:

    So where would one put Anu and Padomay in this story?

  17. Gnoll Queen says:

    I like the low level stuff looks really normal and practical and the higher level stuff looks absurd as not as it doesn’t look too absurd. I think dark souls does this quite well with armor and slightly less so with weapons. I don’t realy like skyrim’s version of it though.

  18. Quentastic says:

    Earlier this week a guy released a video which pointed a lot of neat design decisions in skyrim.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo2iIwYbFO8&feature=c4-overview&list=UU5CYeHPLer3lbEhgonvbbAA

    He brings up quite a few points which would probably add to the discussion.

  19. Henson says:

    So I’ve never played vanilla Skyrim, having about 35 mods installed, so HOLY CRAP Bleak Falls Barrow is BRIGHT! I’m so used to stark shadows and needing torches, and now I can see…EVERYTHING. It’s so weird.

    Also, I’m really loving those hand-to-hand kill cams.

  20. Chris says:

    I thought the jungle region was Cyrodiil?

    • McNutcase says:

      Oblivion would beg to differ. Cyrodiil is Boringsville. Seriously, suddenly there’s potatoes and watermelons.

    • Ryan says:

      It was, until Tiber Septim decided the legions he was recruiting from northern Colovia and Skyrim would be more comfortable in a temperate climate and decided to change it (a change that, judging from TESO, must have been retroactive)

      …Or so the lore community tells ourselves as we cry ourselves to sleep over What Could Have Been, since the alternative is either completely divorcing the world we discuss from the games we play or accepting the idea that Cyrodiilic scribes working in Cyrodiil somehow made a transcription error and forgot what climate they lived in.

  21. HiEv says:

    Anyone else read the title of this episode as “Catbert the Swiffer”? :-P

  22. McNutcase says:

    As far as I can tell, having a pot on someone’s head while they move results in pot-flinging. Trying to time it right to have it on their head as they go through a door is beyond me, but I’d expect either a disappointing “clunk” as they fade out and it drops to the floor, or a whistling noise as it hits warp 9 and tries to take your head off.

  23. hborrgg says:

    They should have mo-capped some actual cats in order to get the scratching animations right.

  24. newdarkcloud says:

    I… liked Oblivion.

    Although I wonder if that’s because I immediately turned the difficulty slider all the way down when I started the game. Most foes were felled in1-2 hits for me.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Also worth noting is that Oblivion was my first foray into the TES franchise, and Western-style RPGs.

      • I almost want to play it again, but last time I didn’t get very far after closing my first Oblivion gate. Here’s why I haven’t gone back:

        1. The way you level up is so odd that you really need to consult a wiki to make sure you’re not doing it wrong. I was going for a wizard/alchemist build, and I though I was doing pretty well, except I found out I didn’t up the right offensive skills and I couldn’t get past any quest bosses because…

        2. …the game levels with you. I don’t mind it when encounters get harder as the game progresses, but making specific locations be somehow equated to your level feels cheap if you know how to game the system (which you have to do, kind of) and too difficult if you realize you’ve mis-applied your points and don’t have the option of going out, getting stronger, and coming back.

        3. The conversations. I like speech checks in video games, and the nonsensical wheel o’ jabber has to be one of the greatest works of Dadaist art I’ve ever experienced. I’m not sure who thought this was a great idea, but they must’ve been very persuasive to the people who approved it. Maybe he confused them with a similar wheel?

        Are there mods that fix this stuff, or do I have to wait until those guys working on Skywind or Morroblivion finish translating both previous games into the Skyrim engine?

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Honestly, your first two problems are fixed by turning the difficulty slider down. Though it puts the game firmly on the easy side, it gets rid of the issues caused by the game’s terrible scaling.

          Although I had almost the opposite problem with Skyrim. I wasn’t challenged even when putting the difficulty at max once I got passed level 50.

          • Any difficulty below what passes for “normal” is cheating, even if the developers weren’t the brightest bulbs in the box.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              If a game’s difficulty is poorly balanced, I’ve no problems with cheating.

              Hell, that’s how I got through Baldur’s Gate 2’s shitty combat.

              • True enough. I just wish it was more nuanced. I’m seeing a lot of re-calibrations on the Oblivion Nexus, so maybe there’s something that fits the bill. One mod keeps the level of an area stable at whatever your level is when you first enter it, but it only has two endorsements and not much feedback on how it messes with other aspects of the game.

            • Amnestic says:

              I’d argue that in some cases, difficulty below normal is almost required for enjoyment. This is especially true for “bullet sponge” enemies, which I find utterly dull.

              Normal mode has the player take base damage and deal base damage. On Legendary, they take 3x damage (that’s fine) and deal 0.25x damage (…what). Why is there not options for “you deal more damage, they deal more damage”? Up the lethality on both sides, make the game more about carefully executed fights rather than spending five minutes on one guy.

              That’s not a Bethesda specific complaint though. This applies to so many titles across the board it’s not funny.

            • Zukhramm says:

              No it’s not. Let people play game however they like!

        • Michael says:

          With Oblivion?

          There are a bunch. One of the easiest was the KCAS (Kobu’s Character Advancement System) mod, which let you tinker with how the leveling system worked. This included a fluid attribute increase as you leveled up, and adjusting the level cap.

          Normally the level cap in Oblivion was ~45 or 55 (It varied based on race and class, and I forget the exact limit.) If you Adjusted the level cap down (using the mod’s in game menu) to around 30, you’d see a real character progression as your character would become more powerful than the enemies that populated the world.

          This worked by requiring you to raise more than 10 skills to level, while the difficulty curve worked off the idea that you had only raised 10 points in your class skills. It was also a lot less jarring than using (say) an acrobat as your starting class when you really wanted to play a knight.

          On the whole, it was a fairly non-invasive mod, that wouldn’t alter the overall feel of the game. It will however make it easier. Note: that Oblivion’s leveled lists basically stop at 30, and things just level scale after that. So you won’t actually miss any content that way. Though it does make things like the Daedric quests much more end game. It may also make you go into the options and turn up the difficulty later, as you can seriously break the game’s balance with it.

          Oscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul is at the other end of the spectrum. This is kind of like SkyRe or Requiem for Skyrim. It completely guts the game, and reworks it so that the world is completely non-leveled. It also amps the difficulty up, initially, so you’ll actually need to scrabble for a while before you can casually dispatch bandits and their ilk.

          • Excellent! Thanks! I wasn’t having much luck with the search terms I was typing in, so that helps a ton.

          • Hal says:

            There was also a mod that adjusted the quest rewards to your level. This saves you from saying, “I want to do this quest, but I really want that ring when it’s at level 30.”

            • Michael says:

              I think you mean, “adjusts the rewards to their maximum possible level.” Oblivion was really bad about handing you leveled versions of unique items, so you could never get a really good reward from a quest. It would always be “level appropriate” (IE: vendor trash).

              Skyrim pulls the same thing, but it doesn’t level the unique rewards. So you’ll get handed random level appropriate rings, but you won’t get handed a leveled unique sword (for instance).

              (And, I’m not counting the Thane weapons as unique here.)

              One of the best examples (and one of the few you could actually mess with) was the Crusader’s gear from Knights of the Nine. The whole DLC was a weird little Arthurian jaunt in Oblivion, that focused on collecting pieces of a famous knight’s gear.

              Each piece had a unique visual, which came together to make you look like a ~12th century crusader. It could exist in a light or heavy version, and there were about a half dozen versions of the armor and weapons. For levels 1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24, and 25-30 (I think).

              Like I said, Oblivion pulled this crap all the time, but with KotN, you could actually relevel the gear by slapping it on an armor stand in your home base (for the DLC). This also had the possibility of switching it from heavy to light armor or back if your largest armor skill had changed from the last time you pulled the armor off the rack.

              Most of the time though, you’d get cool unique rewards, and then learn they were useless after five or six levels.

              Anyway, there’s a mod that replaces all the leveled lists with the level 30 versions. I think that includes the Sigil stones.

              Great… now I’m wanting to fire up Oblivion… :\

          • kdansky says:

            The easiest way to fix it is to never go to bed, ever. Your skills will keep increasing, but your base level won’t, which means the enemies will stay at very low levels, while your damage goes through the roof.

  25. My theory about why places in video games are chock full of loot even after hundreds of years when they could have easily been raided by someone else: By being a player character, your ability to see loot/valuables starts out greater than that of the common NPC by about a factor of 10.

    Much in the same way that you mystically have a crosshair, the ability to somehow carry JUST SO MUCH stuff, etc., you have the uncanny knack for seeing “obvious” loot.

    The Fallout series has an example of this (kind of): The Scrounger perk. If you take it, you find more ammo when you search places where you’d expect to find it. Without it, are you an “idiot” for not seeing that there were “obviously” more bullets to be had? No, your Player Character Perception ability just wasn’t augmented enough. It’s like how in D&D when the DM checks to see if you find any treasure in a given room. If you miss it, you’re not stupid, you just failed your check. In video games, the baseline for noticing treasure, armor, weapons, and, in some cases, whole multi-story structures is very, very low. Unless, that is, you’re an outsider who rolls into town poking his nose into every crate, urn, and chest, and has a name like “Sir VasDeferens of Hemipenes.”

    • ET says:

      Well, that’s one possible explanation.
      I prefer the other. ;)

    • swenson says:

      I offer an alternate possibility: previous adventurers left it behind as they crouched next to an ancient burial urn, sorting through their inventory, trying to figure out what to leave behind, because despite their 50,000 gold, they really, really want to pick up that Glass Greatsword of Burninating to sell back in Whiterun.

      There are going to be an awful lot of future adventurers who find the stuff I left behind, is all I’m sayin’.

      • So someone like Reginald Catbert came through these places, punching things, and then decided that the loot here was better than the loot he had, so he left the “reward” we get for going through these quests behind while taking the much better/more valuable stuff?

        Someone like Catbert with access to even more destructive weapons would explain all the ruins, fractured social structures, general chaos, and ticked-off dead things. Rutskarn needs to fit that into the lore somewhere.

  26. hborrgg says:

    I actually did go back and try some of the older games after I played through skyrim, and while Fallout 3 was pretty fun I just could not stomach my way through Oblivion with it’s awful combat and copy-pasted dungeons.

  27. Jumus says:

    How is Arena’s combat the second best and Morrowind’s better than Oblivion’s?

    • McNutcase says:

      A random number generator is better than badly-implemented first-person melee/timing puzzles. Morrowind’s combat is unrealistic but predictable, and tends to be over pretty fast. Oblivion’s combat is tedious and unpredictable at the same time. They made a big thing out of “a hit is a hit, we’re not rolling dice behind the scenes” and yet a hit tended to do scratch damage at best.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I know this is sacrilege, but I really couldn’t stand Morrowind. Maybe it’s because I played Oblivion first, but I honestly feel that a lot of the hype Morrowind has is mostly due to nostalgia.

        • Ciennas says:

          I liked Morrowind’s freedom and story that was structured in a way that let the players make interesting playthrough impacting choices.

          I hated the combat system to death. Oblivion’s combat was much improved, but broke away from the much more open questing that Morrowind did.

          Oblivion was also a vast improvement in terms of locating quests: Morrowind gave vague or outright insultingly wrong directions, with little if any hope of finding what you were looking for. (Stupid ‘find this specific cave in a cave filled cliffside’ quest: Had to look it up on a friggin’ wiki to get the right address.)

          But Oblivion did a lot wrong, partly because they were treading unfamiliar ground, and partly because development costs went up by a factor of ten.

          I will say in their defense though- Bethesda does listen and learn from their fan base- they just keep goofing it up in little ways. By Elder Scrolls six or seven, I’m betting they’ll have the memorable story of Morrowind, with the gameplay to match.

        • Destrustor says:

          If you call losing an amazing magic system full of freedom “nostalgia”, then I am hella nostalgic.
          That’s what I hated most when going from Morrowind to Oblivion, the whole magic and enchanting system was basically cut in half.
          We lost the “when used” activation trigger for enchanted items, the ability to enchant any effect on any item (within the limits of material capacity/spell cost), the ability to use any spell effect you know for enchanting/spellcraft, and the following spell effects: Jump, Slowfall, Levitation, Three slightly different types of teleportation, Silence, Sound(basically to silence what chameleon was to invisibility), Summon (most daedra types), Lock, Open, (I think) Weakness to X, Fortify Attack(basically a direct percentile increase to your chance to hit enemies with your attacks), and probably a whole lot more that I can’t really remember off the top of my head.
          The spellcraft and enchanting system was some of the most fun I’ve had with the game. A robe that heals my eight strength/agility/etc attributes when used? Gone. My Opening Ring, capable of unlocking any door/container when used, for the locks that are too high for my lockpick skill? Gone too. My pants’o’fire, casting a small amount of fire damage on self when used, for the sheer hilarity of it? I shall miss ye. Area effect soul trap? Nope, never again. An awesome spell effect that you just can’t cast, adjusted to your skill with the spellcrafting system so you can actually use it at your level? What are you, a nerd?
          The move from Morrowind to Oblivion basically turned the whole magic system into “you either hit enemies with a stick or hit them with a magic.” Whole reams of freedom were ruined/taken away. Finding new spells in Oblivion lacked the fun of finding them in Morrowind, because now you knew that whatever new spell you found was either a variation of “damage enemy”/”buff yourself”, or impossible to use in a fun and harmless spellcraft or enchanting combo. Because the game devs said so.
          The fast travel system is no real substitute for teleportation.
          That’s what ultimately made me quit Oblivion. It just wasn’t as fun and free as Morrowind.
          That and the auto-levelling enemies.
          And the level-adjusted loot.
          And the potato faces.
          And the speechcraft system.
          And the disappointingly generic fantasy setting.
          And the adoring fan.

          • Hal says:

            To be fair, while Oblivion neutered the enchanting and spell crafting systems in the transition from Morrowind, at least it had spellcrafting. Skyrim’s complete absence of spellcraft was extremely disappointing. Despite the way it was pared down in Oblivion, you could still create some interesting and helpful spells and effects. I had a few favorites: A short duration, max level charm spell that could be used very early on, bypassing the speechcraft skill entirely and giving you great prices from shopkeepers; a low-damage, max AoE fireball spell that was there to play havoc with the physics and cause chaos amongst the NPCs; a spell that used max damage from all three elemental damages and also caused weakness to magic damage (two shots from this killed basically everything.)

            • newdarkcloud says:

              I have to admit, I missed Oblivion’s spellcrafting system. There were a lot of really fun combos you could make with it.

              And I though a lot about why they didn’t include spellcrafting in Skyrim. The answer I came to is that it’s a direct consequence of the dualcasting/overcharge system. In order to make sure dual-casting works properly, they had to make sure that the spell schools didn’t overlap, because you might have the overcharge perk in one school, but not another.

              Also, they may need to avoid different effects intersecting for the overcharge mechanics, even from the same school. I honestly don’t know if that’s the case though, I’m merely speculating.

              Personally, I’d rather have spellcrafting than overcharging.

        • Entropy says:

          I finally played and finished Morrowind very recently (a year or two ago), and I personally think it still holds up, more or less, nostalgia goggles or no.

          The depth of the world and the lore is what I found interesting about the world. It seemed like a world people lived in, with all the complexities that come with that. Plus Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal are incredibly interesting characters.

          Disclaimer: I did mod the hell out of it for graphics and a couple other things though.

          Eagerly looking forward to Skywind. I mean, Skyrim Combat, Morrowinds Setting and Story, with Voice Acting? Holy shit.

      • TheHokeyPokey says:

        A dice roll to successfully cast, another dice roll to successfully hit, and a mana bar that doesn’t regenerate? I hope you weren’t planning on playing a mage. You want to play a sneak attack archer? Too bad, your carefully planned shot may have contacted the hitbox, but you “missed” and now the enemy is alert. Melee fighters were the only viable option in Morrowind. Plus, all that time saved in combat is lost by the unacceptably slow move speed.

        Then there’s this asshole.

        No. Dice rolls to hit in an action RPG is irredeemable garbage.

  28. IFS says:

    Rutskarn, since you offered to explain lore at the end of the video I would very much like to hear your version of the lore surrounding Vivec as well as your explanation of CHIM. The explanations I’ve heard elsewhere were interesting and very bizarre so I’m wondering what your take on them is.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      As near as I can remember, CHIM is a philosophical concept similar to the theory of an ubermensch; one who possesses CHIM has both freedom from fate and the means, mental, physical, and spiritual, to truly change the world. It could be said that all the player characters in TES possess or even embody CHIM.

      As for Vivec, you can probably disregard anything read in the 36 Lessons as propaganda, with any truth they may contain buried deep, deep under nearly incomprehensible fables meant to portray Vivec and the other Tribunes as all-powerful and all-wise.

      From memory:
      As far as what we can tell for sure, Vivec was born in the Chimer nation of Resdayn (or Resdaynia, not known as Morrowind until ages later) and ended up in the Tribunal, the closest advisers to Nerevar, king of Resdayn. The Tribunes were very well liked by Nerevar, and their counsel was valuable in their wars against the Nord occupiers, who were driven out by the Chimer and Dwemer.

      At that time, the Dwemer were led by Dumac, who was good friends with Nerevar, and the alliance of Dwemer and Chimer was the First Council. Somehow, the Chimer learned that the Dwemer had found and were studying the heart of the Aedra Lorkhan, which had been flung there at the beginning of measurable time, creating Red Mountain. Nerevar, shocked, confronted Dumac about this, but Dumac became enraged, saying that it was none of their business.

      The Chimer made war on the Dwemer, determined to stop them from tampering with the Heart, if such a thing was even possible. They were winning this war, and had seized the mountain stronghold that lead to the Heart, but, in desperation, Lord Kagrenac, the man in charge of these experiments and perhaps the only one who understood them, took his tools and did something to the Heart which the Dwemer did not understand, and in that moment every Dwemer in Mundus disappered, ending the war. The tools were left behind, however.

      What happened next is unclear due to deliberate misinformation on the part of several parties. I won’t bother recounting the war of the First Council, but Vivec’s character is highly dependent on: whether or not they truly followed or ever intended to follow Nerevar’s will regarding Kagrenac’s tools, or what that will even was; whether or not they then slew Nerevar themselves regarding this matter; and whether or not Dagoth Ur had truly been corrupted when they returned to Red Mountain, and thus whether or not they were protecting the tools from Dagoth Ur, or vice versa.

      However it truly happened, once the Tribunal used the Heart’s power to make themselves gods, Azura cursed them and all the Chimer for their blasphemy and hubris, creating the Dunmer; this is why Almalexia and Sotha Sil have golden or bronze colored skin, like the Aldmer, why the Dunmer have black or blue skin, and why Vivec is split down the middle with both, since it was he who ultimately made the choice for the Tribunal and bore the responsibility for their actions.

      Vivec and the Tribunes were certainly possessed of deific power, which we know from reliable accounts of their actions, like 2920: The Last Year of the First Era, in which Sotha Sil negotiates treaties with the Daedric Princes and serves as a great teacher among the earliest Psijics, and when Vivec and Almalexia battle Mehrunes Dagon personally, and win. Besides that, there is the small moon which we know for a fact Vivec froze in time just before it struck his Palace in the City of Vivec, and we can verify that it was his power responsible for doing so since the moon became unfrozen after his death and annihilated Vvardenfell, together with the eruption of Red Mountain it triggered. It was also Vivec’s power which held the Ghostfence together, even though this also required the spirits of the Dunmer Ancestors to maintain (sadly ending the ancient Dunmer burial rites). Vivec was also a brilliant tactician, and led the Dunmer in battle personally, devising brilliant strategies and applying his deific power to crush all enemies. It was a point of Dunmer pride that Morrowind, alone of all provinces, was never conquered by the Empire.

      Whether or not he and the Tribunal were actually as wise or benevolent as they claim is difficult to say; the actions of the other Tribunes speaks volumes, in that Sotha Sil eventually became despondent and longed for death, and Almalexia became bitter, mad, and power hungry. As for Vivec himself, it was he who oversaw the Temple, and the Temple controlled all information in Morrowind; it was heresy to say anything negative about the Tribunal, while praise of them was encouraged and widespread.

      I believe there is much merit in their reverence, though. The period when we see them in the waning years of the Third Era was a very dark time for them, and it should be remembered that they presided over a relative golden age for thousands of years. Sotha Sil was reclusive, of course, but both Almalexia and Vivec were said to walk among and minister personally to their people constantly, which was in large part the source of their popularity, regardless of their control of the literature. The only Dunmer we ever see that didn’t love the Tribunal unconditionally were the Ashlanders, who believed they had betrayed Nerevar (which may well have been true) and the Dissident Priests, who were both a recent phenomenon and not at all unreasonable or even unfaithful to Temple doctrine in all but a few increasingly contentious points.

      Ultimately, the mythos behind Vivec and the Tribunal, and the uncertainty of it all, is a fascinating element of Morrowind’s lore. It left me with something of a fixation on anything having to do with the Dunmer, Lorkhan, or ancient Resdayn.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        But was there anything in particular you were curious about?

      • Michael says:

        The part Rocketeer’s being vague about gets presented in two separate ways.

        In both versions, after the Dwemer disappeared, Neravar and Dagoth Ur went into the Dwarven stronghold and found the tools. Neravar charged Dagoth Ur with protecting them and went back to the surface to talk to Sotha Sil, Almelexia, and Vivec.

        The Tribunal maintains that they went back to reclaim the tools with Neravar, but that the tools had corrupted Dagoth Ur, and Dagoth murdered Neravar.

        Dagoth Ur maintains that the Tribunal killed Neravar, and came for him because they wanted to use the tools to turn themselves into gods.

        Both versions agree that they actually used the tools to turn themselves into gods and that Neravar died.

        I’m a little vague on some of the details because it’s been about a decade since I did a full Morrowind playthrough, but that’s the gist.

        There’s some credence to Dagoth Ur’s version from both Vivec and Almalexia. But, the game never flat out tells you one is the correct version.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          That’s not quite accurate.

          Only the Ashlander account claims that the Tribunal murdered Nerevar, having done so after (or during) a feigned ritual to Azura.

          Vivec’s own testimony, curiously, does not state at all how Nerevar died; he does not mention him dying in battle to Dagoth Ur, yet claims that they did not forsake their oath not to use the Tools for “several years,” and at such a time Nerevar was certainly dead.

          Many things can be asked of Dagoth Ur himself in his stronghold, but an account of times long past is not among them. He does relay a message to you at some point seeming to indicate that Nerevar himself struck him down that first time, although he may have meant that metaphorically.

          I say it may not be literal because in all accounts of the battle, Nerevar is wounded and near death after the Dwemer are vanquished. In the Ashlander accounts, it was this weakness that the Tribunal took advantage of, and in Vivec’s account, he had to be carried back from the mountain. It is unknown how much time passed between the end of the war and the return to the Heart, but it may well have been a very long time, since both Vivec’s and Dagoth Ur’s accounts seem to indicate that Nerevar fought personally in that altercation.

          Also, Vivec claims that Dagoth Ur had come to understand the tools and their workings to some degree by that time. I cannot imagine this could have happened swiftly.

          For my own part, I believe Vivec. The Nerevarine’s conversation with him is extraordinarily frank. He admits to many things unbecoming of a god, but you can ask him directly if he murdered Nerevar, and he maintains that he did not. He even presents you both accounts of the battle to read, and says he doesn’t care which you believe.

          Furthermore, I am disinclined to believe the Ashlander’s account because it is always slanted to cast the Tribunal in the worst possible light, as well as containing events I am almost certain could not have happened.

          The only thing I don’t fully agree with in Vivec’s account, in fact, is his inclination that Dagoth Ur had been corrupted or maddened by the Heart when Nerevar and the Tribunal returned to claim the Tools. I believe it is entirely possible that Dagoth Ur- Voryn Dagoth, in truth- simply could not believe the Tools had any correct usage whatsoever and was prepared to fight and die for this conviction rather than allow them to be taken and studied, even by Nerevar. The fact that he returned to life as Dagoth Ur after being slain there does go a long way to confirming Vivec’s belief, though.

          Overall, I would say that Dagoth Ur is as fascinating as Vivec, if not more so. He is, at all times, jarringly frank and courteous to the Nerevarine. His goals are, at their core, understandable, sympathetic, and even admirable at times. It is his methods, not his motivations, which are abominable. The use of the Heart is terrible. Always. But beyond that, his problem is mainly one of public relations; Dreamers and Sleepers come off as frightening, hostile doomsayers. Corprus turns people into twisted monsters. Even when corprus ‘succeeds,’ the results are terrifying ash creatures. The disease is transmitted by blightstorms.

          Ask yourself: What if corprus turned people into something pleasing and beautiful? What if it was a shower of glittering, gem-like sands rather than a blast of red ash? What if the affected presented themselves as welcoming and compassionate? Would the conflict between the Tribunal and the Sharmat be so cut and dry if Dagoth Ur had a better eye for aesthetics? The Temple’s intelligence on the Sixth House indicates that, while the Tribunal pays attention to both the mortal world and the divine world beyond it, Dagoth Ur thinks solely in the divine sense beyond time; it is entirely possible that these things never occurred to him, or simply did not matter, as he believed his plan destined to succeed anyway.

          One last thing that intrigues me is the matter of the Heart itself: what happened to it? It disappears in a flash of lights after the Nerevarine goes to town on it, and common consensus seems to be that it was destroyed. But Azura says the Heart was “freed.” What does that mean? Freed from existence? Freed from Mundus, and returned to Aetherius? Freed from its physical entrapment under Red Mountain and present elsewhere in Mundus? Or simply freed from existing whatsoever, and destroyed indeed?

          • Entropy says:

            My understanding is that it is elsewhere in Mundus. However, it is no longer the power source for the Red Tower, one of the Towers that holds existence together.

            • The Rocketeer says:

              I cannot find any evidence whatsoever that this is true, or in fact that any of the so-called Towers have any role whatsoever in holding creation together.

              After researching it thoroughly, the only source of these ideas seem to come from speculation in the Nu-Mantia website, which has zero credibility, and from a novel, which can and will be disregarded by players and developers alike.

              The only reference whatsoever I can find to Red Mountain being the “Red Tower” is on the Nu-Mantia website, which can and should be disregarded without hesitation. Even if it was, it is the heart, not the mountain, which matters to the world, and the Heart itself told Auriel and the et’Ada that it could never be separated from the world when they tried to destroy it, and could not.

              The Crystal Tower hasn’t existed since the Oblivion Crisis centuries before the current point in the lore. It lowered property values considerably, but the land where it stood isn’t seeping into Aetherius, or vice versa.

              The Direnni Tower may have been instrumental in creating Nirn as it came to be, but even then only because of the deliberations that took place within it. There is no evidence that it’s continued existence matters to anyone or anything, other than the Castellan of Balfiera, who would likely be very upset if it went away.

              Even in the dubious novel in question, the idea that White-Gold Tower is somehow necessary to hold Mundus together is merely speculative, and considering that the world existed more or less in its present state up until the Ayleids built the tower out of sheer vanity in the Mid-Late Merethic Era does not do much to raise its assumed metaphysical importance.

              Furthermore, I could find no basis whatsoever for your idea that the Thalmor have a grand plan to unmake/remake Nirn or Mundus, or that they could/would do so by destroying the towers. From what I gather, this, too, comes from Nu-Mantia, and should just be forgotten about. Yes, I know Kirkbride writes it. No, I don’t care.

              • Ryan says:

                “Yes, I know Kirkbride writes it. No, I don’t care.”

                this is going to be a point of contention moving forward, and I respect Shamus’ site too much to go into all-out nerd war here, so some background for the uninitiated.

                Michael Kirkbride was a designer and writer for TESA: Redguard and TES: Morrowind. He is often credited by the community for the ‘weirder’ or ‘more unique’ aspects of Elder Scrolls lore. He left Bethesda sometime before Morrowind was finished, but remains active on the official Bethsoft forums, at The Imperial Library, and on /r/TESlore. Which is all well and good.

                The tricky bit is that even though he stopped receiving a paycheck from Bethesda, he didn’t stop writing about Tamriel. Sometimes it’s taken the form of explanations of things he wrote that are in-game, other times it’s been works beyond the scope of any particular TES game.

                …these tend to be as weird or weirder than the stuff he officially wrote for Bethesda, so many people have difficulty accepting them as ‘canon’ works.

                So what the hell’s canon? Is it only stuff that he wrote while being paid for it? Is it only stuff that explicitly appears in-game? What about stuff like From the Many-Headed Talos, which wasn’t in a game until Kurt Kuhlmann had Heimskr quote it in Skyrim? Is there a deuterocanon?

                These are questions for nerds. I like Kirkbride’s stuff, so my Tamriel is affected by his writings. Maybe yours isn’t. Read what you want, believe what you want.

                • The Rocketeer says:

                  These are very much questions for nerds, which I am. My take on it is this: if an aspect of Tamrielic lore is more or less settled and static, and something Kirkbride or another writer says about it outside the context of the games themselves adds on or clarifies something about it, then that’s certainly worth keeping in mind, if not ‘believing’ per se, until such a time as the games themselves seem to disregard or contradict them.

                  But if something about the lore is, intentionally or otherwise, a morass of contradiction, speculation, disinformation, propaganda, adaptation, metaphor, and utter BS- as so very, very many of them are- then maybe we’ve already got quite enough fodder for bubble-pipe polemicism like we have going on here.

                  For instance, this post sits neck-deep in an intractable debate, merely one part of which concerns the Battle at Red Mountain, and not once has anyone-least of all me- dared to bring up the involvement of the third side in that conflict, the Nords, as led by Wulfharth/Ysmir (?) and possibly abetted by Dagoth Ur (?!).

                  To say that the Nordic and possibly Shezarrine involvement in the conflict is a can of worms is a colossal understatement. The implications of the Five Songs of King Wulfharth are terrifying, if even a hair of it is true.

                  • SyrusRayne says:

                    But now I really want to hear more, and your thoughts on it all. :(

                    Let’s see, how does one open a can of worms? “Would anyone be kind enough to give me their interpretation of those events?”

                    That might do it.

                    • The Rocketeer says:

                      Hmm, well, I’ll see what I can do.

                      The Battle of Red Mountain was said to have taken place in 1E 700. But this is an approximation, and the battle actually took place in 1E 668- the Year of Sun’s Death.

                      The Battle, and likely the Heart itself, resulted in the eruption of Red Mountain. Prior to the eruption, it had been the tallest mountain in Tamriel, higher even than the Throat of the World in Skyrim.

                      But here’s the odd thing: none of the Chimer/Dunmer/Ashlander accounts of the battle seem to mention the eruption, at least not directly. It is only mentioned in Nordic retellings of the battle, which is equally odd, because those same elven accounts never mention the Nords being present at the battle whatsoever.

                      Events recounted in The Five Songs of King Wulfharth, a Nordic folk history, in the Arcturian Heresy, a book of unknown provenance but written from the perspective of Wulfharth, and even a very rare Khajiit account all seem to place a significant Nord army, and a large cadre of Orcish mercenaries, at the battle as well, and allege that Wulfharth himself led this army and was present at the final battle at the Heart as well.

                      This is significant because of who and what Wulfharth was. Wulfharth is also called Ysmir, and the Underking, or the Ash King. Apparently born in Atmora and a natural master of the Thu’um, he is also a Shezarrine, a living avatar of Lorkhan, whom the Nords call Shor, or Shezarr. While there have been a handful of distinct Shezarrines over the eras, Wulfharth himself seems to have incarnated several times without ever truly dying. In this instance, it is said that “the Tongues sung Shor’s ghost into the world again,” apparently meaning that several Nords somehow used the Thu’um to reform his spirit back into life. This sounds impossible, but the same thing is said to have happened in an account of Jorunn the Skald King, when the Graybeards themselves did the same thing, resurrecting Wulfharth once more to fight the Akaviri invasion (although the Five Songs actually attribute this incarnation to a request by Almalexia, of all people).

                      Lorkhan, prior to this Battle of Red Mountain, did not know where his Heart had been hidden, and neither did any of the Shezarrines. Finding and reclaiming it, and reincorporating it back into Lorkhan once more, seems to be one of the chief goals of Shor and his avatars. But here’s the bombshell: the Nords were informed of the Heart’s location by none other than Voryn Dagoth. The Five Songs go on to say that the Tribunal had gone behind Nerevar’s back, sending Dagoth to the Nords specifically to draw them into the war and help destroy the Dwemer, and that regardless of how Nerevar and Dumac’s relationship was going, they intended all along to undermine the fragile peace, simply because they hated the Dwarves on principle.

                      The Nords attacked the Dwemer before the Chimer had even mobilized their armies to Vvardenfell; it was another strategy of the Chimer war pavilion to let the Nords and Dwarves expend themselves on one another and then move in at full strength to rout both sides, but in accordance with Wulfharth and Dagoth’s agreement, House Dagoth’s forces were also present in the battle from the very beginning, attacking from their Vvardenfell stronghold of Kogoruhn with “his House chap’thil, his nix-hounds, his wizards, archers, his stolen men of brass,” apparently referring to Dwemer automata the Chimer had reclaimed.

                      The battle conclude with Wulfharth, Nerevar, Alandro-Sul (the man who would later claim that the Tribunal poisoned Neravar), and Dumac all present within the Heart chamber. This is where the account in the Five songs diverges most completely from all other accounts. It contends that Dumac fought on the same side as the Chimer against Wulfharth, having realized for the first time his true objectives in regaining the Heart, and that each of the elves wielded one of Kagrenac’s Tools: Nerevar with Keening, Dumac with Sunder, and Sul wearing the Wraith Mail, or Wraithguard.

                      And here is where the most exciting diversion takes place: the account consistently refers to Lorkhan and Wulfharth as two separate entities, yet places them both at the battle! It seems that, while a Shezarrine is an avatar of Shor in Mundus, Lorkhan’s spirit itself is an entirely different and independent entity, like any other Aedra. While Wulfharth battled the Chimer, Lorkhan’s spirit attempted to reincorporate the Heart and become whole once more. Wulfharth could not beat Sul, wearing Wraithguard, but still managed to cripple him with his Thu’um before being struck down. Dagoth had joined the battle by this time, and slew Dumac- but not before he had struck the Heart with Sunder. Despite the war, Nerevar considered Dumac a true friend, and slayed Dagoth for his betrayal, and Lorkhan itself wounded Nerevar nearly to death while he was distracted. Nerevar, feigning death for a moment, slashed at the Heart with Keening when Lorkhan had turned its attention away from him, severing Lorkhan’s connection to it and banishing the Aedra for an indefinite amount of time.

                      The stress on the Heart, which had created the volcano in the first place, caused Red Mountain to erupt catastrophically, decimating the forces of all sides and ending the war. Notably, the Nordic accounts do not make a single mention of Kagrenac or the disappearance of the Dwarves. Nerevar and Alandro-Sul were rescued by the Chimer, and the rest is history. Ysmir, blown to ash, was carried away on the volcanic winds and not seen again until the 6th century 2E. Dagoth Ur’s spirit slept within the Mountain, somehow bound to the heart even then. The entire world was darkened by ash, resulting in the Year of Sun’s Death- 2E 668.

                      It’s hard to know what to make of all of it. One wonders why Lorkhan did not try again to incorporate his heart, and the only answer I can think of is that Dagoth Ur himself prevented him from doing so. If the accounts are true, it greatly changes the character of the mortal lives of Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal, which is essential to trying to understand what may have happened in the following years. And to think that Lorkhan came within a hairsbreadth of regaining his full divinity is really more than I can contemplate.

                      There are three things I have a particular fascination with in Tamrielic lore: Anything to do with Lorkhan, anything to do with the Dwemer, and anything to do with Resdayn. To say the least, the Battle of Red Mountain is rather interesting to me.

                    • SyrusRayne says:

                      Thanks for sharing that, I had no idea about a lot of it. “Shor is Lorkhan” is a connection I didn’t ever pick up on, for one.

                      And now I want to play Morrowind.

              • Disc says:

                About the towers, there’s reference to them and particularly Red Mountain as being the “Red Tower” in “The Prophecy of the Dragonborn” which is included in the in-game book “The Book of the Dragonborn”, for what it’s worth. While it’s a prophecy, it’s not really even trying to be too vague and if you know enough of the history of the series it’s pretty obvious what the specific parts are referring to.

                “When misrule takes its place at the eight corners of the world

                When the Brass Tower walks and Time is reshaped

                When the thrice-blessed fail and the Red Tower trembles

                When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his throne, and the White Tower falls

                When the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding

                The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn.”

                • The Rocketeer says:

                  Oh, wow! Very good catch!

                  It is very interesting that they refer to Anumidium, Red Mountain, and what is either the Throat of the World of the throne of the High King as towers, which would indeed grant one small but persuasive corner to the argument about towers, holding the world together, etc.

                  I’ll keep my eyes open in the future, as it might develop into something more eventually, but for now I’m still not convinced. If that prophecy is to be believed, then ‘tower’ is such a metaphorical term that it could mean nearly anything. Furthermore, all of those events were foretold by prophecies that predated them by ages, and no such thing exists to indicate what the Thalmor might be trying to do, if anything. Whatsmore, it sounds as though the Thalmor’s alleged plot is something entirely outside prophecy and fate, or seeking to defy it. And if these ‘towers’ are central to holding Mundus together, how is it that they can be created relatively recently, ages after reality has remained fairly set? The Amulet of Kings was not created until 1E 266, the actual lineage of High Kings in Skyrim, assuming it doesn’t extend all the way back to Ysgramor in the late Merethic Era, wasn’t established until King Harald in 1E 143, and Anumidium was not truly completed until around the start of the Third Era! It also indicates that the actual towers themselves aren’t material to the affair; the fall of the Crystal Tower is unmentioned, and seems to be conflated with White Gold in the Oblivion Crisis, which still stands but is considered ‘fallen’ in the prophecy.

                  If, then, to destroy the Adamantium Tower means not to merely destory the edifice but to undo the significant actions which took place there- these being the final settling-in of reality by Akatosh and the et’Ada and the canonization of time as part of Mundus- then it goes without saying that this would render the world immaterial and metaphoric once again, though how anyone could expect to accomplish this, control this, or capitalize on this in any way is pretty well beyond the realm of speculation! Alduin already tried to devour time, and it didn’t stick; I can’t imagine that that would be the same problem, in a nutshell, to assail Tamriel next time.

                  Oooh, this is good stuff.

              • MadHiro says:

                What would or wouldn’t happen if the Towers were destroyed is vague; what isn’t vague is that the Towers constructed by mortals, provided that they actually deserve to be grouped with Ada-Mantia, will have some sort of serious handle on reality. That’s a bit of a leap in itself, of course. But if that grouping indicates anything concrete, and given what the Marukhati Selectives accomplished with Ada-Mantia, then the Towers being co-opted or destroyed means [i]something[/i]. Awkward metaphor time! Just because the ornamental bits you add to a structure weren’t needed when you built it, doesn’t mean that blowing those bits up won’t mess the building up something serious.

                And responding to a post further down: Man, the Five Songs has the best rendition of Red Mountain there is! ” Don’t you see where you really are? Don’t you know who Shor really is? Don’t you know what this war really is?” The Glorantha fan in me has a hard time not wondering what Quest that Ysmir was on there.

                • The Rocketeer says:

                  Practically anything written about Wulfharth will contain a scandalously controversial alternate take on events generally accepted to have happened completely differently, such as the Battle at Red Mountain, the rise of Tiber Septim and the creation of Anumidium, the repulsion of the Akaviri invasion of Northern Tamriel, and so on.

                  Yet, the Five Songs doesn’t even contain the coolest (alleged) element of the Battle of Red Mountain, which belongs to The Tale of Dro’Zira, which you should definitely read if you haven’t.

                  Ysmir. Riding. A Tiger-Man.

          • Ryan says:

            Any mention of whether or not the Tribunal murdered Nerevar needs mention of the <a href="http://www.imperial-library.info/content/trial-vivec&quot;Trial of Vivec.

            Vivec hid a message in the Sermon of Numbers that, when decoded, reads “He was not born a god. His destiny did not lead him to this crime. He chose this path of his own free will. He stole the godhood and murdered the Hortator. Vivec wrote this.” He’s confronted with this at the trial, and ultimately admits that it is a confession of guilt, but not for him as he currently stood.

            “As Vehk and Vehk I hereby answer, my right and my left, with black hands. Vehk the mortal did murder the Hortator. Vehk the God did not, and remains as written. And yet these two are the same being. And yet are not, save for one red moment. Know that with the Water-Face do I answer, and so cannot be made to lie.”

            My interpretation of this, taken with other things like What My beloved Taught Me and the Sermons, is that the mortal Tribunal did indeed kill Nerevar to usurp his power. When they used the tools on the heart, Vehk the poet rewrote his past to what we find in the sermons (thus the sermons are propaganda, but also true). Both realities meet at the point of betrayal, the Red Moment.

            I have a Lot to say about what I think Vehk’s motivations are in this, his past, the Sermons, and the events of TESIII, but I’ll save it for another time.

            • Shamus says:

              See, THIS is why I love Morrowind. And even once we decide who is guilty and who isn’t, there’s a question of how you judge such beings. The Tribunal may indeed have begun their rein with murder, but they’ve basically done a bang-up job (by the standards of this world) since then. Who can bring them to judgement? Who has a right to do so? What would happen to the lands they rule?

              You could play around with these ideas all day.

              Oblivion is so very shallow by comparison.

              • TheHokeyPokey says:

                Even though from a mechanics standpoint Morrowind is awful, the lore is much better. The politics between the houses, the ashlanders, and the tribunal make for a much more complex world. Many of them support slavery or are actual slavers, however, so judgement is actually super easy.

              • The Rocketeer says:

                Well, we know what happened to the lands they ruled: the Oblivion Crisis devastated its political and military infrastructure, followed by the failure of Vivec’s divinity freeing the Ministry of Truth back into time, annihilated the city of Vivec, and triggering the eruption of Red Mountain, utterly annihilating Vvardenfell and much of Morrowind from the calamity and ensuing tidal wave. The Argonians took revenge on the Dunmer for eons of oppression and slavery and Black Marsh’s invasion of the province saw most of the remaining Dunmer slaughtered outright or driven west into Skyrim, where they are hated and marginalized, or north onto Solstheim, where the main authority is a dirty Telvanni.

                I, uh… I get sad when I hear news about Morrowind…

            • The Rocketeer says:

              I hate that that damned Trial exists.

              Nevermind the fact that it was a forum roleplay and shouldn’t have any bearing whatsoever on actual canon, regardless of who was running it. Vivec tells the court that he’s telling the truth because he magically can’t be lying, under his own power? In which Alandro-Sul, the sole claimant that Nerevar was murdered according to the Ashlanders, does not mention the murder in any way and states merely that he was opposed to their leadership on ethical, religious grounds? And then later reveals that the entire trial was a scam to get revenge on Azura for cursing them, and for a score of heretofore unmentioned, non-canon grievances? In which he revels in having stolen godhood from the Heart, and reaffirms that it was a good and correct decision that he in no way regrets, and that he desired only to avenge himself on Azura for his unjust punishment?
              A hysterical grudge he had nursed for millennia?

              I can in no way reconcile any of this hot garbage with how Vivec acts, speaks and thinks in conversation. It is all so very wrong. It is so disturbingly divergent from his characterization in game that either everything he claimed, however he acted, and however he seemed to feel, think and believe in either the game or that damned play must be a complete lie. And it isn’t a difficult decision which it must be.

              “We did not murder Nerevar. The legend that we murdered Nerevar comes from a story told by a shield-companion to Nerevar, Alandro Sul, who lived among the Ashlanders. The Ashlanders have retained Alandro Sul’s account as part of their oral histories. The account is persuasive in some details, implausible in others, and is in any case false… The sin of the Tribunal, however, is in the breaking of an oath to Azura to forebear from tapping the Heart with Kagrenac’s tools, and in the folly of seeking to become gods. Breaking the oath was evil. Becoming gods was folly. If we sinned, we have paid the price… We broke our oaths. We turned our backs on the old gods. I still see no compelling reason to worship any of the Aedra or Daedra. But, for the respect I held for Nerevar, and the respect I held for myself, I should never have betrayed my oath. Of all my life’s actions, I most regret that failure… I remember [being mortal]. I do not feel it. I can, if I choose, remember the feeling. But I do not choose. It is very, very sad being mortal. There is happiness, yes. But mostly sadness. As I have said, “Count only the happy hours.” For mortals, they are all too few. But for gods — for me — there is no more feeling. Only knowing. [Pause] Not quite no more feeling. I still want to win. I want to defeat Dagoth Ur. Perhaps I have lost the feeling for the people, for their suffering. I don’t want that feeling. It is no use to me. That is no longer what matters to me. I only want not to lose. To lose would be very, very bitter.” <–Vivec said this.

              • Ryan says:

                I hate that that damned word ‘canon’ exists.

                And if Vivec honestly had no part in the murder of Nerevar, then what the hell is he leaving secret messages in sacred texts for?

                • The Rocketeer says:

                  That’s a very good question: why would Vivec, with a rock-simple code hidden in text that thousands of people in and out of universe will pay a great deal of attention to, clearly admit to something that he denies up and down, to the point of denying and suppressing all accounts to the contrary and flat out denying it in a conversation in which he admits to a host of other grievous sins and bitter regrets? I’m not being rhetorical, I have no idea why. Probably for the same reason that Indiana Jones is dead inside of a Dwemer ruin, or why Boethiah is a fan of college football, or why the Dwemer and House Dagoth trade Pokemon: it’s just a dev screwing around in a capacity they know they can get away with.

                  To be frank, it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other what the answer is, since the question, not the answer, is what is important to the setting. The ambiguity itself is the answer. “Did the Tribunal murder Nerevar” is and should be left open for the same reasons that so many hundreds of other questions about Tamriel history are left open, like the exact nature of the Nerevarine, the truth of Tiber Septim’s rise, the nature of Wulfharth and other Shezarrines, and so on.

                  Kirkbride might say that Vivec killed him. Sure. Ridley Scott says Decker was a replicant. I don’t really pay that any mind either. I do tend to favor the idea that they pursued godhood after Nerevar passed on his own, but I recognize that I only care about the answer because the question exists, and should continue to exist.

                  That, and the ‘play’ is so absurd and grotesquely out of character for every figure involved it more resembles a TES-flavored existentialist heroin nightmare than anything. It’s a bizarre, provocative “what if?” and nothing more.

  29. I’m truly amazed that the Spoiler Warning crew met their first drauger in this episode and failed to notice that one of the earliest ones Josh took out had breasts.

    No other real flesh on this corpse, yet it still had breasts. Unless it had a metal bra on or mammary meat doesn’t contract as much as other tissues, I’m not sure how that works.

    • bucaneer says:

      While the in-game model does look silly (having both a visible ribcage and breasts), the basic premise is not entirely unreasonable (WARNING: pictures of actual mummified corpses).

      • You have to admit that she has other things the drauger don’t: Cheeks, thighs, stomachs, lips, etc.

        It does make me want to see a game where you have less skeletal undead. Not exactly zombies, though it would be an interesting callback to the horror movies of yore if the buried dead rose up rather than it being the freshly-dead that are running around and killing people.

    • Gordon says:

      It’s perhaps silly… but I can see the reasoning, and I’m pretty okay with it. for lack of hair and meaningful faces, body structure and shape is what they’re left with to denote gender, and I’m fine with having the slavering, ancient undead horrors be egalitarian in their hiring practices. Adds some variety.

  30. newdarkcloud says:

    Even though I had a Stealth/Bow style as well in my latest playthrough of Skyrim, I also found the Draugr to be tedious. Even though I got the drop on almost all of them, they started to grate on me after awhile.

    I think one of my biggest problems with Skyrim is that while it advertises freedom, it’s a limited form of freedom. It’s not “Am I a fighter, mage, or thief,” but rather “in which way do I want to ruthlessly murder everything”. I’d like a way to sneak through dungeons with a little more finesse than either running through it so that the enemies don’t react fast enough to my presence or through Invisibility.

    In short, I want to actually sneak around things.

    • Humanoid says:

      I hated fighting them as such, but I rarely got bored of walking up to their oblivious sleeping forms and septuple-damage stabbing them in the stomach, human-sacrifice style. (well, sneaking up to them, but I essentially stayed in sneak mode the entire time in dungeons)

      • But props to Bethesda for letting us do that. Remember the plant-zombies in Mass Effect that you could SEE ahead of you but weren’t killable until they’d stood up?

        I liked that if I detonated a fireball in a room ahead of me, it’d damage/kill whatever was there instead of hitting a “no fair shooting until everyone is ready” force field.

        • Humanoid says:

          If this were written by Bioware, the guy would have sucker punched you in a cutscene the moment you freed him, said something ‘witty’ to taunt you with, then run off. Then you’d mutter something ‘cynical’ before you regain control, setting off on a scripted chase scene where you weren’t allowed to catch him before the point the chase was scripted to end. At the end another cutscene kicks in in which a Draugr wakes up behind him as he’s taunting you again and it chops him down from behind, rendering that whole chase segment pointless. You then get to fight the Draugr.

          • Grudgeal says:

            And Rockstar would punish you for not reaching the end-point in time by making you do the whole dungeon again.

            Capcom would do the same, but without the part of the cutscene where he sucker punches you.

      • bucaneer says:

        The final Archery perk gives a chance of paralysis on hit, so my sneaky archer could kill the sleeping draugr and they wouldn’t even move from their original pose (normally, they ragdoll when unundeaded). The perk is generally good for making impromptu taxidermy exhibits.

  31. Phrozenflame500 says:

    God damn I’ve never seen these unarmed kill animations before and they are amazing.

  32. lucky7 says:

    What exactly IS an Elder Scroll?

  33. Mathias says:

    Okay, just one slight note here, mostly because I’m being pedantic:

    This is not actually what a medieval Norway would look like. Norway, Sweden and Denmark were all Christianized around the 11th century, and afterwards became stock European medieval kingdoms, with Catholicism as the only religion and with Norse paganism (which is probably what you’re referring to,) dying out.

    If it’s aesthetically similar to anything, it is vaguely similar to Scandinavia in the Viking period, but with a few notable differences. Namely, the ubiquity of steel plate armor, which would not have been available to a Scandinavian* at the time, as well as the general ubiquity of plate armor, which was technologically impossible at the time. The availability of swords for even lowbie adventurers is another point that sort of strikes against it – swords were ridiculously rare in the Viking age.

    The undead also don’t feature particularly heavily in Norse paganism. The dead didn’t rise back up if they’d committed particularly evil deeds – such as oathbreaking or kinslaying – they just had a third afterlife set aside for them. The only time the dead ever walked the earth was when Ragnarok would occur, and Loki would bring all the dead that didn’t go to Valhalla to Asgard for the final battle.

    Also, and this is really important, the ‘horned helmets’ thing is bullshit, and by and large, the aesthetic of Skyrim is more similar to Hollywood – Norse mythology than the genuine article.

    * The difference between ‘Viking’ and ‘Scandinavian’ real quick: Viking = A person who went ‘on viking,’ i.e went abroad to raid/trade with the populace of some other nation. Scandinavian = the population of the Scandinavian countries at the time.

    • Mathias says:

      One edit: Draugr are apparently featured in Norse mythology, so I was wrong on that account. I still maintain that the Norse mythology presented in the game is, by and large, BS.

    • Michael says:

      I’m on the verge of giving up when it comes to technology in the TES setting. We have iron weapons, okay, that’s actually fine, because they persisted for a long time alongside steel weapons. But Iron Greatswords?

      I mean, the entire thing with swords was that their length was seriously impacted by available technology. This is a big part of why the Romans used shortswords. They didn’t have the technology to make a long, stable blade. So they made what they could.

      Greatswords represent the technological apex of sword technology (in a lot of ways), it’s as long as you can make a sword before you actually can’t wield it anymore.

      So, maybe there’s something I just don’t understand about historical metallurgy, but how can you have greatswords made out of iron? Of course, the silver greatswords are actively even worse.

      • Alex says:

        A silver greatsword doesn’t need to all be silver, necessarily. Maybe it’s a steel greatsword with just enough silver in it to do bad things to monsters.

        • Michael says:

          Silver weapons have been a standard of the series. It would make sense if they’re plated steel blades (like the silver swords in The Witcher), but, we’re talking about a setting that literally explains the fisher price dungeon puzzles, how bonemold armor is forged (it’s basically a resin armor), why ebony (which is basically just another color of glass) armor is so strong, and describes the philosophical underpinnings to how magic works in the setting… and as far as I know, it’s never mentioned that, “hey, your silver weapons might just be electroplated on there” is a little hard to swallow. No offense.

          • Michael says:

            Well… I just botched that last sentence and can’t go back to fix it. That’s what I get for wandering off and coming back mid post.

            It’s a legitimate theory, but the setting doesn’t support it at all, which is really hard to swallow given it’s psychotic attention to detail elsewhere.

      • How about them glass weapons and armor, eh?

      • ehlijen says:

        Given that I’m told this game includes ‘Gold Ore’, I don’t think it’s your understanding of metallurgy that is the issue here.

    • Scott Schulz says:

      The horned helmet trope for Vikings definitely predates Hollywood. We know, for instance, that they were used in an 1876 production of Wagner’s Ring cycle, and they probably arose during the Romantic era before that. But, yeah, definitely not Viking.

      • It’s definitely a “rule of cool” thing. Also, when was the last time you saw a game of any kind follow the logic that armor was actually designed to protect important stuff (like kidneys) and didn’t have lots of fiddly bits for blades to catch onto?

        I figure if someone in a fantasy setting is wearing an outfit festooned with horns, spikes, and other things that make it easier for kinetic damage to transfer to their body, they’ve got to be a colossal idiot or such a bad-ass that I probably won’t even be able to touch them.

    • topazwolf says:

      I can’t tell if you realize that Scandinavia includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark or not…

      Incidentally, the Viking period would be classified as being in the Dark Ages which lasted from about the 6th to the 13th century. This period of time is sometimes referred to as Medieval (though likely not academically).

      Basically Viking Scandinavia is the same thing as medieval Norway/Sweden if speaking about the applied terminology.

      • Mathias says:

        I’m a card-carrying Scandinavian, so yes, I am aware of the fact that Scandinavia covers Denmark, Norway and Sweden :P

        And when I say ‘Hollywood mythology,’ I mean the tendency for Hollywood to take all of the recognizable elements and then strip all the others away because audiences won’t be familiar with them. Or to take the elements similar to other mythologies and use those. I know that the ‘horned vikings’ trope is much older than that.

        The Dark Ages are a bit of a dead horse for historians because it’s kind of a misleading term, especially once we realized that categorizing about 900 years of human history as ‘intellectually dead’ was really really silly. The Dark Ages today often refer to the Early Middle Ages (from the 6th to the 10th century,) which means that you’re correct, the Viking Age was in the medieval period, but it was in the early period. TES draws most of its visual inspiration (if it draws any from medieval sources at all,) from the Late Middle Ages (around the 14th to 15th century) when plate armor and crushing weapons started to become the norm because of better, more efficient weapons technology.

        That’s why I’m saying that saying it’s ‘medieval Norway’ is a bit unclear.

        • topazwolf says:

          I apologize, how your original post read to me was that you were refuting the Medieval Norway theory and replacing it with a Viking Scandinavia one. I see now that your intention was to clarify a more accurate reference point.

          Talking of historic oddities, I also find the Dark Ages to be quite strange. It was termed by the people living just after the period which goes a long way to explain why the “non-dark ages” (sometimes referred to as the pre-modern period though I think it is also called the late middle ages) contained the Bubonic plague. What I am trying to say is that historical period naming is a mess of overlapping periods and terminology that is ill-defined.

    • You’re leaving out the biggest problem Skyrim’s historical accuracy has:

      There are no skis.

      According to Wikipedia, archaeologists found a ski in Sweden that dates back to 3300 BC and one in Norway from 3200. I’ve no idea if they’re a pair that got tragically separated, but the point remains: The Dragonborn should be able to go to one of the sawmills, carve some Viking-grade fatties, forge obsidian poles, schuss down from High Hrothgar, participate in downhill slaloms while fighting liches, and Fus-Ro-Dah any trees that get in the way!

      • Mathias says:

        Skiing was such a big deal that they had not one, but -two- gods of skiing and hunting.

      • Humanoid says:

        Then get eaten by the SkiFree monster.

        • Mathias says:

          Another fun* note on Norse mythology:

          Much like the ancient Greeks, the Norse had two war gods. Most people probably knew this, but they usually name Odin and Thor, which is incorrect. Odin was a war god, true, but Thor wasn’t. he was just the ‘protector of mankind,’ which explains why he was running around the world chucking thunderbolts at people.**

          Odin was a war god, but the other god of war in Norse mythology (who also has the title of ‘second greatest warrior in Asgard’) is Freyja. The local love goddess also happened to be a war goddess, which really tells you everything you need to know about Scandinavians.

          *Disclaimer: May or may not be fun depending on your pre-existing knowledge of Norse mythology.
          ** In hindsight, probably not the smartest of ideas.

      • Disc says:

        First you’d need some proper snow, though. I’m getting kinda tired of white textured terrain pretending to be snow. Assassin’s Creed III was probably the best attempt at real snow so far from what I’ve seen in Youtube videos.

  34. hborrgg says:

    Long ago in Skyrim, an ancient Nord embalmer is preparing the corpse of his fallen female companion for her journey into the afterlife.

    “OK, now to apply the strongest preservation techniques I have to her chest area. . .”

  35. James says:

    Ok so your Arvel “the swift” and you’ve been caught Shelob style by a giant spider.

    Then a Cat in Iron Armor storms into the room though some web and then proceeds to PUNCH giant shelob spider to death, without even batting an eye.

    and what do you do you audibly betray this guy and try to run off.

    man Bethesda NPC’s are dumb right guys, its been like 13 season since fallout 3, but right guys hating on dumb bethesda npcs eh, like its 2009.

    i miss the timeline comments still, i really do.

    • Just wait until you meet his brother in the hag cave. They were taught by the same master strategist.

    • McNutcase says:

      So do I. Viddler just decided that since it no longer has any popular videos, it doesn’t need any kind of vibrant community either, and is now demanding money merely to have an account there. The idiocy would be funny if it weren’t so incredibly painful to watch them take aim at the bullet-riddled remains of their feet, saying “THIS time, it’ll fix it, for sure!”

      There would be a MASSIVE pile of comments at the 14:10 mark on this video. For once, it would be the game working as intended…

    • I like how the feline nickname for Josh’s chosen character race makes some comments sound like they’re being transcribed from a hip dude in the 1950’s:

      “You should’ve seen this cat, man! This cat started punchin’ everything, like crazy, man! That cat would’ve looked cool in a bonnet, yes sir…”

  36. Humanoid says:

    The power of Chris’ closing pun was so great that it forced YouTube to display but one recommendation on what to watch next instead of its usual 3×3 grid. Railroad to Nowhere.

  37. Yanni says:

    Your summary of the Aedric pantheon really only approaches it from an Imperial standpoint. The Aldmeri worldview is quite different.

    As you guys have dedicated so much time into the TES series I’m curious how much you know about CHIM and the Towers aspects of lore given you never mention them.

  38. Paul Spooner says:

    I suppose it’s a good sign of visual immersion, but I kept cringing thruought this episode because of the jagged rocks everywhere. I don’t know how many of the devs have actually sprinted headlong through narrow twisting passages with huge piers of stone jutting from the walls. Personally, I like my head concussion-free, thanks very much. And don’t tell me you’re wearing armor. There’s no way I’d want to run into those overhangs and jagged scree even in full plate.

    I really feel like there should be some sort of default “environmental danger” in games like this. There’s a reason people don’t dead sprint through boulder fields, underbrush, and snow-covered rocks that could hide any number of hidden cavities. That stuff hurts!

    • That’s what the carts and urns are for.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I address this in my Morrowind LP. To make a long-story short, I’ve decided to speed through a tunnel system without fighting any of the monsters…which means:

      a.) Taking off all of my (heavy) gear, including clothing
      b.) Putting on super speed boots, which
      c.) Blind me.

      “So yeah. Let me just rocket naked and blind through an uneven and unfamiliar tunnel full of monsters and jagged rocks. Good plan.”

  39. Sleeping Dragon says:

    One thing, the spiders in this game are creepy, period. Honestly, whenever I had to fight spiders I was almost freaking out and trying to not let them get close to me so I wouldn’t see them too well.

    • Amnestic says:

      I liked that they were creepy, because spiders are kinda creepy. I don’t have a problem with them outside of games (unless they’re the poisonous kind, but then it’s the poison part rather than the spider part), but even I thought they were a little bit iffy. So it was even more fun to murder them all. At least they’re generally easy to kill. They’re not the cazadors (spelling?) from New Vegas, thank god.

    • HiEv says:

      Some games have “arachnophobia mods”, that change all the spiders in the game to something else for people that can’t stand to see spiders. I know for Skyrim there’s a “Spider-Man” mod that changes the graphics for the skin on the spiders to make them goofy and Spider-Man-like.

      I found out about that one because PC Gamer did a 5 episode series titled “Skyrim: Week of Madness” where the author installed every single Skyrim mod (except for a handful that made things too unstable) and then reported his adventure in this weird version of Skyrim. It’s pretty hilarious.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I dunno, I have nothing against mods, in fact I’m notorious for stacking them to the point the game breaks and my PC cries (not to the extent linked, but the series does start pretty awesome) but I’d rather not turn the spiders into something comedic like that. I could consider somehow toning them down a bit but on the other hand maybe it’s a good thing that they are that creepy, I mean, I’m not phobic enough for the arachnids to make the game unplayable for me and I guess the creepiness is there on purpose so at least that part of the game’s design works for me ;).

      • Humanoid says:

        The one most popular and comprehensive spider replacer mod is the one that replaces spiders with bears, not to mention spider eggs with erm, honey pots. It’s actually pretty elegant in its way.

        Of course you’ll have to have the good sense to not let Shamus or Mumbles know that you’re a bear murderer.

        • PlasmaPony says:

          I am pretty damn scared of spiders, so the bear mod was one of the first I installed. I could handle them from a distance, but could never play a melee character because you HAVE to get close and fight some spiders. They are just too much for me. Even with the bear mod I still get nervous, because deep down, I know it’s still a spider. I freak out a bit with radscorpions too, as I am deathly afraid of scorpions in real life. I wish devs would find new creatures other than arachnids to put in their games.

          • Tuvalu says:

            Oh, I’ve got a story for this. Normally, I don’t mind the spiders too much. I would rather fight other things, but at the end of the day, I’m alright with spiders. But one time, I’m going through a dungeon. There’s a big room with a trapped chest right out in front. Being the master lockpick that I am, I disable the trap and loot the chest. Then I enter the room proper, kill a couple spiders, and start looking around the edges of the room for stuff to loot. While I’m doing this, I happen to look up. There’s a hole in the roof with one of those trapdoor type grates that swing open, and on the other side is the biggest frostbite spider I have ever seen, staring right at me. I freak out. Big time. The spider sits in its hole and stares at me. Now completely on edge, I keep looting the room, glancing up every few seconds, thinking, “Oh man, when is it gonna come out, oh man, oh man.” I end up working myself into a panic by the time I’m done looting the room. The spider is still staring at me. I leave the room and the spider is still staring at me. Later, a glitch makes me have to reload the dungeon, and I find out that the trapped chest was supposed to release the spider. Scariest experience I’ve ever had in Skyrim.

            #2 was the Seekers. *shudder*

    • Phantos says:

      Speaking as a man utterly terrified of being in the same astral plane as spiders, I have never been creeped out by any video game spider. They’re such a common enemy in fantasy, it’s like being scared of a skeleton or a goblin. When you’ve defeated thousands of them over the years, are they much of a threat anymore?

      You look at a real spider long enough, it either isn’t moving, and you’re just waiting for it to move, or it’s moving at a very deliberate, twitchy pace.

      Video game spiders are obviously not-real puppets, with canned, telegraphed animation loops that start and stop depending on when they attack. I’m not sure it’s possible for any video game to nail down the fidgety, sporadic movements of a real arachnid to give that KILL IT WITH FIRE reaction from me.

      Of which I’m very thankful. That’s the one time I’m grateful for unrealistic animation in games.

      • Axe Armor says:

        Hmm, now that I’m thinking about it, giant spiders probably wouldn’t actually move like that. Lots of small stuff has that “……………………………..GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO” movement pattern, so I think it’s probably correlated with being small. Contrast a squirrel with a capybara, or an anole with a monitor lizard, or a mockingbird with a vulture. So I’m guessing a spider the size of a bear would probably move a bit more like a bear. I’m not sure if that’s comforting given that it assumes the existence of a bear-sized spider.

  40. anaphysik says:

    I seriously hope that someone’s made a mod to restore that chicken-witness thing.

  41. Vermander says:

    I’ve always thought TES had the most confusing and convoluted history and lore outside of a JRPG. I’ll admit I have limited experience with tabletop games, so I’m not familiar with the huge number of deities in D&D.

    I actually prefer the Song of Ice and Fire approach, where it’s never actually clear which, if any, of the various religions is correct, or whether the various gods exist. I think deities seem less mysterious and powerful if characters are constant interacting with them and all of the clergy members are granted magical powers.

    One thing I don’t understand, how do the Thalmor (and the Empire) explain the fact that the alters and ammulets of Talos still work if he’s not really a God? Is this explained in the game? Do they just claim that these were created by a human enchanter, or that some other force is powering them?

    • That depends on how the game treats gods, I guess. Their goal could be to “defeat” Talos by depriving him of worshipers, but that assumes that worship is what fuels a god’s power. Tamriel could be like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld where the gods exist without question, leading to this sort of attitude towards them:

      Wizards don’t believe in gods. They didn’t deny their existence, of course. They just didn’t believe. It was nothing personal; they weren’t actually rude about it. Gods were a visible part of narrativium that made things work, that gave the world its purpose. It was just that they were best avoided close up.

      – “The Science of Discworld: Darwin’s Watch”

      The lore for Talos does get confusing, with probably most evidence pointing towards godhood, along with a little confusion over his origins (he was a mortal king that ascended to godhood, though he might not have been a Nord).

      I think Bethesda would be wise to adopt the Fire & Ice approach (as well as that of real-world religions) where each group has their own myths, legends, and interpretations that are at odds with each other as well as with discoveries the player makes (i.e. the Avatar of GodX was said to have been buried at Mount Coolbeans, but we find his tomb at Slugwort Swamp where whoever put him in the ground drew a lot of unkind things on his face and left a note about the shortcomings of his parents).

      • SyrusRayne says:

        To be fair, Discworld treats the gods as existing because of the belief in them as well. Small Gods goes into it quite a bit.

        It’s something along the lines of “We believe in them because they’ve always existed, and they’ve always existed because we believe.”

        • All gods exist in the Discworld, but only those who have belief in them get to actually do anything. Belief on the Disc is also a quantitative power of some kind, as new gods started popping up as belief in one (the Hogfather) started to wane. There was a surplus of belief and it had to go somewhere

      • The Rocketeer says:

        “I think Bethesda would be wise to adopt the Fire & Ice approach (as well as that of real-world religions) where each group has their own myths, legends, and interpretations that are at odds with each other as well as with discoveries the player makes (i.e. the Avatar of GodX was said to have been buried at Mount Coolbeans, but we find his tomb at Slugwort Swamp where whoever put him in the ground drew a lot of unkind things on his face and left a note about the shortcomings of his parents).”

        What, seriously? This is The Elder Scrolls’ frickin’ jam. Conflicting, contradictory lore is the bread and the butter of Tamriel. Heck, your example pretty much happens in Skyrim, when you can do a quest sussing out the hidden truth about how King Olaf was actually an awful tyrant, and possibly a ruthless dragon disguised as a man… and then you meet him in Sovngarde at the end of the game, and no, he’s actually a Pretty Cool Guy. He even admits grudging respect for the jerk bard who spent his whole life slandering his reign. Total class act.

    • Ciennas says:

      Ice and Fire’s approach to gods is not the only valid approach, though it is drastically much simpler. Much like the real world.

      But these games aren’t. They look close enough to our own, but they have massive differences. Like the starlight are tiny pinpricks in the edges of the universe itself.

      And they have actively meddling gods, part of two or three pantheons, none of which are mutually exclusive and are aware of each other, plus at least two entities that are Eldritch horrors that are beyond all of them- these are also interfering in the order of things.

      They also make a point of having ambiguity in their setting about key events. This is incredibly close to the real world, in that we argue over what happened in the modern era, where cameras are literally everywhere, and have three different recordings of a given historical event, and we still argue over what happened.

      None of these approaches are wrong, mind.

      (As far as the amulets and alters, it’s entirely the Thalmor insisting they don’t work. The Empire is silent because of the agreement they made to not actively worship Talos. When asked, they show every sign of not lifting a finger to enforce a single tenet of the agreement unless forced to.

      It’s also possible that the alters only work for those chosen. The Dragonborn, Chosen of Akatosh, probably gets all the help they can get, because they’re still facing off with ancient and angry dragons pretty much singlehandedly.)

  42. newdarkcloud says:

    Random thought: Does it bother anyone else than in the 200 years since the end of Oblivion, technology in the Elder Scrolls universe has barely advanced at all?

    I’m not advocating gunplay in a TES game or anything, but some sign of progress being made in either magic or technology might be interesting.

    • Vermander says:

      If anything it’s actually declined. We see more advanced architecture, armor, etc. in Morrowind and Oblivion. That’s not even counting all of the ancient Dwemer stuff, most of which seems to still be working.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        It might just seem lesser since it’s in Skyrim. The Nords aren’t really known for their brilliant inventors, artists, mages, or really anything besides Vikings. Skyrim’s cities are also very old, by and large, and the most memorable buildings reflect the styles of hundreds of years ago.

        I guess you also see Dunmer architecture in Solstheim, but their race isn’t really doing well, and probably hasn’t had the time to devote to pioneering much in the way of art or science. Oh, if only Master Aryon were here and not frickin’ Neloth! Neeeelooooooth!

    • That’s typical of (warning: TV Tropes link) Medieval Stasis, common in most fantasy settings. For a lot of stories, you need to have a previous medieval swords-n-magic civilization that went bust so your current adventure can take place in a swords-n-magic setting with lots of loot-filled ruins, tombs filled with evil-in-a-can, threats from ancient sources, etc. The following are some possible reasons for Skyrim to be such a place that I’ve just pulled out of the air:

      Probably the most common hand-wave for that is magic. The idea is that if you have magic, scientific inquiry is stunted by the smarter people going into the hocus-pocus biz. Not to mention if the Magic College is any indication, magic eventually goes haywire and blows up the surrounding area, which can’t be good for advancement.

      Plus, if you have monsters running around, putting man lower on the food chain, more resources are devoted to survival, defense, and (if the threat is otherworldly enough) magic cultivation to defend against the eldrich horrors that either wander by or are set upon your castle by a wizard your lord happened to annoy for some reason.

      We also have elves that are generally longer-lived than humans, more powerful magicians than humans, and can last for hundreds if not thousands of years. Saying such a culture might be not only conservative but actively working to keep “younger” races from overstepping their bounds isn’t out of the picture, either.

      Now I will say that it would’ve been awesome if they made the Thalmor a more powerful race on an individual level. They could’ve had some amazing anti-magic items or weapons that could wipe out five Dragonborn in one go, perhaps, showing how they’re able to keep their influence in the Empire and make them more of a force to be reckoned with.

      • Axe Armor says:

        Good points, but there’s also the fact that 200 years isn’t really that long. We’re viewing history from the perspective of people who take technological progress for granted, but really like 70% of all scientific advancement in 10000 years of human existence occured after 1700. The rate of change is just garbage pre-Enlightenment.

    • Ciennas says:

      They advanced, but not in a way relevant. Diseases are all cured by a single potion, and they imply that health potions of any strength end addiction.

      The armor is different, but still the same scale. Presumably it protects better, but the weapons improved as well.

      As a result of Morrowind and Oblivion’s plots, the world has far less magic in it- that’s the in universe justification for the sudden drop in available atronach summons.

      But yeah. It would be neat to show a mage-punk style city eveolve already- maybe they keep getting snuffed by the gods of the setting?

  43. rayen022 says:

    Don’t know if anyone has brought this up but catbert is the name of a character in the Dilbert Comic strip.

    Specifically he’s “Catbert; The Evil Director of The HR Department.” Are the any quests in which you passive aggressively screw NPCs without any consequences and will Spoiler Warning be tackling any of those quests in a Catbert like manner.

  44. RTBones says:

    In my various play throughs of Skyrim – I have yet to use a mod. I enjoy the game in spite of it being a pain to deal with at times. I have also not yet done an unarmed character. Once we get a little further into the season, I suspect both of those things will change as watching this series has already made me want to play again.

  45. lucky7 says:

    Speaking of Khanstipation, isn’t the guitar thing at the beginning of the Metro 2033 episodes the Jackass theme?

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