Skyrim EP7: A Gigantic Mistake

By Shamus
on Feb 20, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

Dear everyone: I know Josh’s shenanigans are kind of funny. But please stop encouraging him. I really want to finish Skyrim before Elder Scrolls VI comes out sometime in 2017.


Link (YouTube)

Man, screw the horse AI in this game. It’s idiotic to the point of grief. Your horse runs into battle, which makes no damn sense. But then you have situations where it runs off to fight things you don’t want to fight and you have to chase it down. Also, it’s a nominally useful character to the player, which means it’s mortal, which means you can blow 1,000 gold on a horse and have it stupidly get itself killed five minutes later. Bad guys can instantly recognize a player-owned horse and will try to kill it on sight.

You can’t tie up your horse anywhere, so if you’re trying to assault a bandit outpost with stealth then you might as well kill the horse before you start, because it’s going to run in the front door as soon as you pick someone off. Or I suppose you can ride the horse away from the gate and then walk there without the horse, which sort of defeats the purpose of owning one.

Despite their unbelievable stupidity with regards to combat, horses are somehow able to understand the concept of ownership, so if you steal one it knows it’s stolen and tries to walk home the moment you get off of it. And I guess they have an amazing GPS system installed, judging by the way stolen horses are able to navigate back to town from anywhere in the world.

And then there’s the bounty system, which charges to not for the act of stealing the horse, but for every time you get on the horse. Imagine if you stole a car, drove it to work for a couple of days, and were then charged with eight counts of auto theft because that’s how many times you drove it.

I never bother with horses. The entire system is a ridiculous, farcical, immersion-shattering joke.

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From the Archives:

  1. Rutskarn says:

    Rutskarn’s TES Riddle of the Week:

    What’s the most duplicitous musical instrument in all of Tamriel?

    (By the way, Dice was technically last week’s winner–Dice, got a TES character you want me to illustrate?)

    • TheHokeyPokey says:

      The lyre.

      • Rutskarn says:

        Okay, you’re on the right track, but which lyre?

        • TheHokeyPokey says:

          M’aiq the Lyre?

          • Rutskarn says:

            …is the correct answer! Fastest one yet. THP, got a favorite TES player character you want me to illustrate?

            • TheHokeyPokey says:

              My first Skyrim PC was a high elf named Gregor Zavolon (reference to one of my favorite movie villains). I played him as a sort of magical Russian mob boss. I couldn’t find a spine sword, unfortunately.

              • I’d love to see a list of everyone’s “running gag” or “thing I always do” when naming players in these kinds of games.

                Me, I’d always name my magic-users after diseases: Anthrax, Scoliosis, Malaria, Encephalitis, etc. It was even better if the game gave me enough characters to add honorifics like “the arcane” or “the eldrich.”

                • Kamica says:

                  I usually make up random names, non-existing (as far as I know), or if I feel like doing extra effort, I’ll actually try a Lore Friendly name. Nothing exciting.

                • Neil W says:

                  I’m going through a phase of calling every character [Something] the Doomed.

                  “Nice to see you Neil the Doomed.”
                  “See you soon Neil the Doomed.”
                  “I’m sure you’ll succeed Neil the Doomed.”

                • Cuthalion says:

                  I’ve taken to naming characters, in and out of Elder Scrolls, in the Argonian style. I’ve got a not-too-bright-looking Argonian in Skyrim named Stands-in-Porridge, and a D&D goblin ranger named Stabs and Stabs. (Who, being the chieftain of the inconsequential village of Shells by Spring — inspired by Redoran architecture — naturally has a riding lizard named Eats and Runs, along with minions named Stands in Porridge (again), Feeds and Runs (guess his job), and Reads.)

                  So, humorously overly-descriptive Verbs the Noun names is what I’m saying.

                • Peter H. Coffin says:

                  I’m a little obsessive about researching contextually appropriate names for characters in games, where I get to name them. So someone savvy can know the race and gender of every GW2 character I play by name alone, and in some cases, can guess at least parts of the backstory.

                  Jane Sarg
                  Coswalt
                  Charlotte Nemo
                  Jiangu
                  Hester Arton

                  • Axe Armor says:

                    Huh, I’m sort of blanking on these. Best guesses, Coswalt and Jiangu are an Asuran male and female respectively, with the rest being Human females. Nothing looks Roman enough to be Charr and there are no warband names, my grasp of Norse names is too poor to recognize anything that could be Nornish, and there aren’t enough y’s and w’s for any Sylvari.

                    Do I get points back for showing my work?

                • guy says:

                  I’ve taken to naming and building them in imitation of characters from other media.

                • Axe Armor says:

                  I don’t have a quirk for names, but I do have one for characters: I tend to build character concepts to suit 2. lore, and 1. what I expect the character to actually spend most of the game doing. In practice, this means I pretty much always end up with something along the lines of

                  Nailbat Karla: A thug who beats people up and steals their things.
                  Morbolg: A dire Chaos warrior who slays all before him and plunders their belongings.
                  Radula Rosa: A sinister necromancer who performs field experiments and takes research samples*.

                  * this is a euphemism.

                  For some reason, my character concepts are all villains.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              No fair,you should not post these before anyone had a chance to watch the episode.

              • Hitchmeister says:

                The question is in no way referenced in the episode, so watching it wouldn’t help. Although, I guess you might not want to read the comments before watching so you don’t spoil Spoiler Warning?

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  I usually skip comments before I watch the episode/read the article.Sometimes I comment on the title first,but most of the time I watch it from the main page.

                • Humanoid says:

                  I’m used to comments first because new posts are usually posted while I’m at work, where I can comment but can’t watch.

                  That said, I’m terrible at riddles so you’re not at a disadvantage in that regard.

              • TheHokeyPokey says:

                Yeah, I’ve yet to see the episode myself. It’s still queued behind two other videos and Graham Stark’s livestream. I just checked the comments to see if the riddle was up (the gold background helps).

          • anaphysik says:

            This is seriously what TES players take for good humour? No, forget that – for humour, *period*?

            • Rutskarn says:

              I like M’aiq a lot, actually. He’s kinda the goofy Deadpool-type 4th-wall-breaking comic relief of the franchise.

            • Humanoid says:

              It’s the funniest they can intentionally be, yes.

              The Joker’s Paradox. Because the perfect joke makes you laugh forever, and that’s impossible.

            • Dragomok says:

              I am a huge sucker for referential humour. I often find jokes that I know reference something genuinely funny , even when I don’t know what they are referencing. I have no idea what kind of twisted mental mechanism are responsible for this, but they work.
              But even for me, calling the quotes on that page “often humourous” is a stretch.

              Also, as a fan of black humour, this explanation

              This is a joke based upon the fact that M’aiq is a Khajiit, who have fur. It is also among the darkest of M’aiq’s humorous dialogue, as it hints towards the broad tones of racism the game covers.

              for this line

              “Nords’ armor has lots of fur. This sometimes makes M’aiq nervous.”

              makes me feel a tiny bit depressed.

              (Also, since we’re talking about TES-related humour, let me use that opportunity to direct you to absolutely wonderful interactive story/”webcomic” PREQUEL.)

              • anaphysik says:

                “I am a huge sucker for referential humour.”

                Oh, I am too. It’s just that this reads like HORRIBLE referential humour. For starters, it’s just plain unfunny, and on top of that the ‘references’ are so extremely weak as to seem unintentional. All I’m saying is LRN 2 4THWALLBREAK GOOD, BETHURSDAY.

                • Grudgeal says:

                  Personally I’m not sure I’d even refer to it as ‘humour’. Fallout does reference humour. This is just ‘reference’.

                  • anaphysik says:

                    Hence my original “No, forget that – for humour, *period*?”.

                    The second point was that I don’t even think it counts as ‘reference.’

                    “Referential” “humour”

                    (I do find Humanoid’s “It’s the funniest they can intentionally be, yes.” very telling.)

            • mwchase says:

              Reading the details in there about how you can transform in front of him without getting bounty for it, he never attacks, and he’s unkillable… it kind of makes me wonder if the Elder Scrolls protagonists are just able to grind their imaginary friend for XP, and a bit of loot.

              I don’t know too much about what he actually does that makes him essential, but the details I’m getting from the article are… curious.

          • swenson says:

            Oh, that is just beautiful.

    • Disc says:

      I’m still confused by this. It’s only for the fact that I’ve never seen “Dice” posting before and that I had a comment about “AltMernative Rock” and remembering seeing nobody else posting about anything close to it before the void took the comments away. I tried asking in the earlier thread about this as well. Again, while a bit awkward, I’m only commenting since I’d hate to leave this hanging in case there was some confusion about my handle.

    • Gravebound says:

      Already solved, but I would have said the Clavicus Violin…:P

  2. anaphysik says:

    Off-topic-but-supremely-important: I remember a time when little helpful faces (like Batman and good ol’ T.R.) would show up next to a post to let us always remember who the author was. (I also remember a time before we had those, but we do not speak of the Days of Confusion.) Is that a feature that’s broken, or are they only not showing up for me?

    —–

    Insufferable NPC who is made of evil and whom any character would be of sane mind to try to kill: Essential

    A horse that you have to pay good money merely to bring into the world: non-Essential

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Dear everyone: I know Josh’s shenanigans are kind of funny. But please stop encouraging him. I really want to finish Skyrim before Elder Scrolls VI comes out sometime in 2017.”

    Ok,let me be the first to try:

    Hey Josh,you should definitely stop with all the shenanigans,they are seriously not funny anymore*winkwink*.

    • anaphysik says:

      Josh: I know your shenanigans are kind of funny. I will never stop encouraging you. Finishing Skyrim before Elder Scrolls VI comes out sometime in 2017 is of minimal importance.

      • nerdpride says:

        I think I’m one of the few ones remaining on the internets who hasn’t played or watched lots of Skyrim.

        I have to say that the encumbrance thing at the start here was tedious and I don’t see why he needs to gather guard armors for money he isn’t using yet. Meh, videogame money. Just looking at the inventory screens makes me feel a bit sick, too. Otherwise I think Josh is doing quite well.

        I think I heard more from Mumbles than anyone else. This vexes me greatly. She’s the most likely one to both say basically the same thing repeatedly and to say something completely random. Oh well.

        • Mumbles says:

          fuck you too buddy

        • vukodlak says:

          Oof, that came off a bit rude there at the end. I too prefer some of our hosts over others, but I wouldn’t mention it off-handedly like that. Especially since it’s the whole team that works to make me laugh (and cry).

          • Humanoid says:

            Unfortunately not the commenters’ intention, but it was mildly amusing that Mumbles did indeed say repeatedly “hateyouhateyouhateyouhateyou” and “pleasedonotpleasedonotpleasedonotpleasedonot” in this episode making the statement somewhat literally true. (The random aspect, of course, is Josh’s behaviour that provokes it)

            • Rutskarn says:

              Actually, I was the one who said, “Hateyouhateyouhateyouhateyou.”

              • Humanoid says:

                I apologise for the misattribution, but I’m sure you’ll admit it’s an understandable error as Josh appears to be universally reviled by the entire cast.

                There should be an entire series dedicated to the various expressions of contempt that have been uttered over the course of the show.

                • Rutskarn says:

                  “A Quiet Evening with Joshua Viel.”

                  • Speaking of Josh, I don’t know how far along you guys are in filming episodes, but if you still have Lydia and you find a magic staff, PLEASE give it to her and see what happens.

                    It was my experience (and several other people mention it online) that giving her a staff makes her an engine of destruction. I think she not only spams the staff (I gave her one that resurrected the dead as temporary zombies, which was hilarious) but staves level with NPCs, so they’re more effective in her hands.

        • MadHiro says:

          I want more Mumbles talking. But about the metaphysical implications involved in Soul Trapping Batman and making him into a ring.

          Also; at first I thought Mumbles was over reacting to the jumping. But good gord, it started to bug me too.

          Also also; axe of white wun. Adorable, Rutskarn. Adorable.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          I have not played Skyrim, nor have I watched much of it. So you’re in good company… or not, as the case may be.
          Yeah, the inventory (mis)management seems like a waste of everyone’s time. On the other hand, it’s a big part of the “Skyrim experience” as far as I can tell. It’s rather representative of the gameplay for many people. So perhaps it’s included for educational purposes… as well as to troll everyone.

          Speaking of trolling, I feel for you. I’ve even expressed this kind of prefrence before… though I hope a bit more constructively than the above. As an excercise in constructive criticism, allow me to offer a few pointers on your last statement.

          If you have a problem, it is polite to address the offending party directly, especially if they are party to the conversation. Your statement was in the third person, as if addressing someone not present. This is offensive because it implies that the offending party is incapable of addressing your concerns. Note how both Daemian Lucifer and Anaphysik address Josh directly in the comments you are responding to.

          It is also considered rude to offer “unbalanced” feedback, that is, much more negative than positive (or vice versa). Your comment was entirely negative, which gives (what is, I hope) a false impression, as Mumbles has many insightful things to say. I advise you to temper your criticism with genuine encouragement. Beware “damning by faint praise” as well, as this comes off even worse. Note how you even offer encouragement to Josh in your second paragraph, which seems to indicate that you are not unaware of this concept.

          In short, address others as you would like to be addressed. Be friendly if possible, and remember that all the hosts have put in effort to entertain you for no compensation other than to hear expression of your enjoyment. If you are not willing to pay them this fee, perhaps it is best for everyone that you find entertainment elsewhere.

          So, instead of your last paragraph, perhaps something like this would have gone over better:
          “Hey Mumbles, I love the comedy, but could you tone down the nagging and randomness? The “morning talk show” style doesn’t seem to fit very well. Thanks for working to keep Josh in check though! It was a good effort.”

          It’s impossible to make criticism entirely palatable, but your presentation does make a difference between others considering your views and simply dismissing them.

          • nerdpride says:

            Yeah, that was one of my more grumpy asocial moments. Thank you Mumbles for saying “fuck you too buddy” in a way that makes me not feel bad at all about this blotched interaction and assures me that you’ve shrugged it off at this point too. Sorry still but I’m sure we’ll work this out by mutually forgetting or something.

            I guess if I were thinking clearly I would have said something milder than “vexes me greatly”.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            He may have been rude but he kind of had a point. When the “please do nots” reached a crescendo, it hurt my ears. Its just a bit loud is all. I dunno, maybe a little more loudness correction when editing sound for the show? I could turn down the volume but then you’re a bit quiet till the yelling starts. That said, she’s not the only yeller on the show to suddenly startle me like that. But I’m sensitive to that. I’m usually playing my own games while listening to the show.

      • Hitchmeister says:

        I think the only thing more futile than asking Josh to cut out the shenanigans is asking us to stop encouraging Josh.

    • Humanoid says:

      Okay, so at the rate of say, 3.5 years to mid-2017, three episodes a week for 50 weeks a year, that’s a mere 525 episodes remaining for Josh to finish Skyrim. Better get a move on Josh!

  4. newdarkcloud says:

    Did anyone get peeved that after initiating a certain quest, Amulets of Talos became quest items. I could never finish my Amulet collection in my house b/c Talos amulets couldn’t leave my inventory.

    • HeroOfHyla says:

      I’m not sure whether it was a bug or some effect I didn’t understand, but on my first character amulets of Talos reduced shout wait time by 0%. I assumed it was some comment on the fact that he wasn’t actually divine. But now on my current character they’re reducing it by 20%. Too bad I’m not doing the main quest on this character so I have no way to get dragon souls to use for shouts.

      • MichaelGC says:

        If I remember rightly, there was a bug which just affected how the percentage was displayed. So it said “0%” on the inventory screen, but actually if you wore it you would get the 20% reduction.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Thanks for the warning! My amulet collection is pathetically small at the moment, but I’m just getting started, and haven’t seen a Talos one yet: I will proceed with caution…

      (If we do the relevant quest will they become normal objects again, I wonder?)

      • Raygereio says:

        The quest is “Return to Grace” in Solitude. If you pick up any amulet of talos for that quest, other then one in Solitude Catacombs, the quest will break and the game will keep the quest item flag on all amulets of talos in your inventory.

        If you’re on the PC, use the Unofficial Patches. It adresses this bug.

    • Protocol95 says:

      I believe I might know the quest you’re talking about. When you enter Solitude if you loot what’s his loose face you can find an amulet of Talos. On a later playthrough I came across a quest where the guy’s sister if i’m not mistaken said she wanted his amulet from his coffin.

  5. Jokerman says:

    I also don’t really bother with horses, as well as everything you said… they also just seem plain slow.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I’ve honestly never used a horse either. It was too expensive for what they offer and by the time I could afford it, I already had most of the important stuff on the map discovered.

    • Humanoid says:

      I installed an invincible horse mod after I lost my first one and that was that.

      • aldowyn says:

        Or you could do the dark brotherhood quest line and get shadowmere :D

        • Humanoid says:

          The downside of that is ….having to do the Dark Brotherhood quest line.

          I actually never got the quest started until right near the end of my time with the game. Thing is, there’s never any reason in the game to ever sleep, so the quest never triggered. By the time I did inadvertently trigger it, I was already done with playing ‘properly’ and was mostly clowning around, so that whole situation ended rather bloodily for the brotherhood (and not in the manner in which they had intended).

          • acronix says:

            Sleeping is good if you want to level quicker: sleeping 8 or more hours in a safe bed give you a bonus to the rate you learn skills.

            With that said, I just use the Convenient Horses mod. As usual, the modding community is better at designing games than Bethesda itself.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Or you could become a werewolf and travel quickly yourself. :D

    • Cinebeast says:

      I have the Dawnguard expansion pack, so I went and found the ghost horse, Arvak, and now I ride him around everywhere. He still dies like any other horse, sure, but it only costs about half my Magicka to resurrect him.

      I’m still kind of surprised to hear so many people here disliked Dawnguard — you’ve gotta like it for the invincible ghost horses, if for no other reason, right?

      • vukodlak says:

        Dawnguard had some nice gameplay tweaks (werewolf perks being my personal favourites), but they main quest itself is incredibly, showstoppingly bad, at least from a role-playing perspective. The quest deliberately goes out of its way to disable role-playing a vampire (by forcing you to join with vampire hunters before you can join the vampire clan) or a vampire hunter/ vigilant type, by forcing you to escort an unkillable vampire NPC. Well, I say NPC, but Serana appears to be more of a main character in Dawnguard than the Dragonborn.

      • acronix says:

        It also has crossbows and the Dawnguard’s (the organization) armors and weapons are actually quite nice looking.

        But it has those silly vampire attacks that basically force you to complete that questline as soon as it opens up, or else they’ll murderize all the NPCs.

        • Trix2000 says:

          Crossbows are pretty much the reason I do that DLC. They have some pretty awesome killcam scenes too (long as you ignore the occasions where the bolt stops a couple inches from the enemy’s model).

  6. newdarkcloud says:

    I think there should have been an option to dick over both the Empire and the Stormcloaks.

    After all, you’re Dragonborn. You have the biggest claim to the empire.

    • Greg says:

      ^^ OH GOD ALL THE THIS.

      When I take a side I’m Empire all the way (though I’ve played both to completion), and I honestly think that once you get far enough into the actual motivations and goals behind the war, the Stormcloaks are clearly the wrong choice, as in intentionally on the writers’ part.

      I mean, sure, you guys put it as practicality vs. idealism, and that’s definitely the second layer (down from just Empire bad, scrappy rebels good!), but the third layer is that both groups want the same thing: to throw off Aldmeri dominance. As you acknowledged, the Empire has just as much of a reason to want Talos worship back as the Nords do; they’re just taking the long view. Which is the right view, in light of the fact that, as I understand the backstory, the Aldmeri won handily over the largest human government on Tamriel. And not only that, but the Aldmeri Dominion’s entire religion demands that Talos not be worshipped.

      So once you understand that, I honestly don’t see how the Stormcloaks could ever be the correct choice. Best case scenario, they bloody the Empire’s nose enough to force it out … and then lose the Empire’s protection once the Aldmeri actually come in force, rather than just sending the Thalmor. And then get utterly steamrolled, because no matter how Viking badass Skyrim is, it’s still just one province of an Empire that already lost to the Aldmeri as a whole. The Stormcloaks are not just weakening the forces of humanity, they’re virtually guaranteeing their own destruction in a few years.

      Then, without getting into spoilers, you learn exactly what role the Thalmor played in Skyrim, and that should just cement it. The Stormcloaks’ goals are sympathetic (once you get past their leader’s racism), but being sympathetic to those goals means that the Empire is actually the better choice.

      And this is clear enough that I feel like it has to be intentional, because if the writers wanted to keep it ambiguous they needed to have put more uncaring bureaucrats and power-mad legates in the ranks of the Empire. This would show that the Empire’s corruption could be what led to their loss in the great war, and make it seem as though a new force united by idealistic goals and camaraderie could possibly win the future conflict.

      • swenson says:

        The major counterargument to the whole “only the Empire can defeat the Thalmor!” argument is Hammerfell, though.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Yeah. What I wanted is for us NOrds and Redguards to band up and go smash some High Elf faces in. Brettons can come too, I guess. You need slimy mages form time to time.

      • Hal says:

        You’re given the impression (probably from documents and books, I can’t remember now) while doing the main quest that both the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire were stretched very thin by their war, and that the White-Gold Concordant benefited both sides. It’s also implied that the Stormcloaks aren’t threatened by the Aldmeri because they couldn’t spare the troops to invade/pacify Skyrim if they wanted to.

        • guy says:

          Essentially, the Imperials lost a vast majority of their forces against the Aldmeri dominion’s main army, which got surrounded and totally obliterated. Essentially, the Empire gathered up everything they could get their hands on and narrowly defeated the Aldmeri’s deployed field forces. Since the Aldmeri had been winning handily, they’d have to have been pretty stupid to not keep some guys back, maybe only 10% of their standing army and not all that well-trained or equipped but more than enough to finish the broken remnants of the Imperial Army.

          So the Empire felt they’d dealt a pretty severe blow but the long-term outlook was bleak and took the opportunity for a negotiated surrender. It later turned out the Aldmeri had really been stupid enough to commit literally their entire army to offensive operations, so all their remaining soldiers were engaged in Hammerfell, so the Empire could have counter-attacked and potentially won. However, the Aldmeri counter-intelligence force is apparently omniscient, so the Empire had no spies to tell them that. Plus, the Aldmeri do have some pseudo-military organizations and probably a decent number of civilian mages they could draft, so they might have made a fight of it.

          As for them not being able to spare the forces to invade Skyrim, sort of. What they don’t (apparently) have is enough forces to win a war against Skyrim AND the Empire and probably also Hammerfell (who will probably come looking for revenge if they sense a chance). And the Empire hates the Thalmor; they kneel for now but they’ll turn on the Thalmor the moment it looks like a fight they can win. So the Thalmor are sitting back and letting their enemies fight amongst themselves. If Skyrim breaks away, they’ll invade the Empire, pause to build up their forces, and invade Skyrim and Hammerfell.

          • Oh gosh, all of this (and Hal and Greg)! I’m also pretty sure you find out Ulfric doesn’t actually care about Skyrim’s religious freedom, he’s just using the Talos ban to get to the throne. The guy is an absolute jerk-wad who wants personal gain at the cost of everyone else around him. What I really wish is that there was an option where you could expose the Dominion’s actual fragility, Ulfric’s true motives, and unite the province to drive out the Thalmor. THIS SHOULD BE A THING. Because as it stands, and how I see it, a victory by either the empire or the rebels only benefits the Dominion in the end.

    • Hitchmeister says:

      If Bethesda liked money they would make a DLC where you got to choose between joining forces with the Thalmor or driving them out of Skyrim. I say that because joining the Thalmor would be the best way to dick over both sides.

      • Microwaviblerabbit says:

        I tried role-playing as a Thalmor agent, and it worked very well. By the end of the game I had found the last two blades, had possession of the most important Nordic artifact – Ysgramor’s Axe, killed the Emperor, and had driven out the Empire. This led to the death of several Thalmor, but those casualties were excusable.

      • MelTorefas says:

        I created a High Elf character specifically so I could use console commands to force the game to add me to the Thalmor faction, thus allowing me to pretend to be on their side. Of course, my specific combination of neuroses make me psychologically incapable of actually playing the game for any length of time, so it came to naught.

        I really wish it WOULD be an official option, though… a DLC pack that lets you spawn as a Thalmor, and work to forward their goals while the Stormcloaks fight you, the Imperials split between helping you out of fear/greed or subverting your efforts, and an NPC Dragonborn (bonus points if you can load a char from a different save) runs around mucking things up (on a timer or something).

    • Amnestic says:

      I’d like to add dicking over the Blades to the list of things that there should’ve been. It’s amazing how Skyrim is so vast and so full of stuff and yet it still feels like so much potential was wasted in so many places for so many quests and so many story points.

      And I still want to play it!

    • guy says:

      Oh yeah, I really, really wanted to do that myself. I mean, it would have been so perfect. My first playthrough was as an Imperial female, after all. So I could easily proclaim that I was the divinely appointed true heir to the holy imperial line and declare I was due the allegiance of both sides. Then instead of the Civil War, you’d get a good chunk of both sides, establish headquarters in Whiterun, and lead the Reunification Crusade.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh that ending collage,now I cant wait to see Josh jumping off a waterfall.

  8. Viktor says:

    Keep in mind that Ulfric didn’t rebel when the treaty was signed. He took his militia and freed the Reach, in exchange for the Empire’s promise of free worship. His men died for the right to worship Talos; then the Empire revoked that promise. Then he went and challenged the High King to a legal duel, after which the Empire declared Ulfric a traitor and revoked the Nord’s historical method of choosing their leader in order to put an Imperial puppet on the throne.

    Plus, the Nords are willing to fight the Thalmor. The Empire is trading money and their first line of defense for the Thalmor’s promise “oh, we definitely won’t try to conquer you”. I can’t even understand how people think the Empire is the practical choice.

    • Greg says:

      Because the Empire already lost. The White-Gold Concordat was the best thing for it, as otherwise the Aldmeri would likely still be in the process of dismantling the Empire piece by piece.

      Yes, Ulfric got screwed over, sure … but focusing on that is not “practical”. The local Imperial governor or w/e screwed up to have even promised him free worship. The real threat is from the Aldmeri Dominion, which has to be faced on equal terms, not by one province (and one province without help from sympathetic Mer, as would likely be the case were Ulfric to get his way). Sparking a civil war inside the only government that may be capable of standing up to the Aldmeri, given time to recover, is the least practical option there is.

      • Henson says:

        I think Ulfric’s rebellion would make more practical sense in relation to the Aldmeri threat if it were a guerrilla-style conflict rather than warring city-states. Hurt the Empire badly enough in enough places completely at random in order to force them to leave. If the Thalmor invade as a consequence, the Stormcloaks can do the same terrorist cell tactics with them. The hope, while likely a remote one, would be that the Aldmeri would simply lose patience and abandon Skyrim because they don’t know how to effectively fight back.

        • Greg says:

          Such tactics only truly work when the enemy is not willing to “burn the forest down”, as it were. Which the Aldmeri apparently totally are, considering the sack of the Imperial capital and the apparent state of southern Hammerfell after Aldmeri incursions. Guerilla tactics likely would be effective against the Empire (although would also probably hurt Skyrim’s infrastructure itself), but that’s because the Empire doesn’t actually want this war or to hurt the Nords. Furthermore, the Thalmor aren’t pushing war solely for reasons of conquest; they legitimately think that Talos worship is a threat to the Mer religion. Even if they do get tired of fighting, they are unlikely to give up anyway.

        • kanodin says:

          I dunno that seems like too modern an idea of warfare. It would probably work against the Empire who want to hold the province, but the Thalmor seem more likely to just sweep the area burning all food killing any nords they come across rather than give a damn about occupation.

      • Disc says:

        The White-Gold Concordat was a shitty deal and there’s no way around it. It’s one thing that the Empire was forced to outlaw the worship of an important god, but it’s a whole another level of wrong that they let the Dominion justicars run around freely in Empire territory, capturing, torturing and murdering people for wanting to stay true to their beliefs and getting away with it scot-free.

        It’s not exactly an Empire I’d deem worthy of following when it doesn’t seem to give a shit what happens to its citizens. Practicality and necessity are some of the worst arguments you can make trying to justify it. There’s nothing pragmatic about letting your empire slowly fracture and collapse from within by betraying the trust of your citizens.

        • Greg says:

          What exactly are they supposed to do? Their own attempts to only follow the letter of the law in regards to the Talos cult ban led to the Thalmor demanding the ability to police if the Empire wouldn’t. Everyone on both sides of the truce recognizes that the Aldmeri are on top, here; if the Empire refused this, it would be tantamount to breaking the treaty, which leads to war again, which leads to the Empire losing again and almost certainly even greater excesses by the Thalmor against Talos worshippers.

          It’s not that the Empire doesn’t care, it’s that it’s in an absolutely shitty situation which it’s trying to recover from and gear up to the next war, on its own terms. You may not think it’s an Empire worth following, but the alternative is fracturing into weaker provinces that the Aldmeri will roll right on over in the next war, and then they’ll be able to simply genocide the Nords if they still won’t give up Talos, which the Thalmor would be more than willing to do. An independent Nord state openly worshipping Talos right now would last all of a few years at best.

          • Disc says:

            Hammerfell was able to hold out against them and eventually push them back without the Empire’s help, so I’m not really sure how crucial being part of the Empire really would be. If they wanted to keep Skyrim’s support, they could have alternatively just let it cede from the Empire without bloodshed, but keeping strong ties to it and making defensive pacts in secret should the war come again. Even if the Empire fell, it doesn’t mean the individual states couldn’t ally with each other against the Dominion.

            • Greg says:

              Hammerfell’s resistance does suggest that a unified Skyrim might be able to hold them off, true … but from my (admittedly spotty) knowledge of the setting, the Redguard had a more active, organized military along with some disavowed Imperial legions, and don’t worship Talos overmuch, so it’d be a tougher nut to crack that the Aldmeri care less about.

              Also, if Skyrim had refused to abide by the Cocordat and become independent like Hammerfell, I seriously doubt the war would ever have ended. We’d now have three smaller nations which the Aldmeri could work on one at a time, and the Empire likely would have just been crushed instead of made peace with, allowing the Aldmeri to further solidify their power. Skyrim might hold out, but even years later seems to still be suffering from the amount of troops lost in the great war, so becoming independent at that time it would have been even weaker.

              • Disc says:

                It’s a spotty setting by nature so guess it can’t really be helped. Speculation is the best we can usually get.

                There never was much said about the size of Redguard forces, only that they were losing initially, but then managed to form a bigger army and break the siege of a major city. Later on they did get reinforced by a number veteran Legionnaire’s allowed to stay behind as the rest retreated back to Cyrodiil to help in the fight there. What that actually amounts to, I’ve no idea.

                Continuing on with spottiness, I find it a little irritating how the Dominion keeps being painted as a force to be reckoned with in the lore when there’s no way to verify what they actually have as a military force and where they would be able to deploy in a reasonable manner. At the end of the day, the Dominion is effectively only three provinces/states combined, which probably shouldn’t give too big of an edge at least numbers wise. And if in-game books are to believed, they took a good beating in the Great War as well, despite their victory. Their retreat from Hammerfell five years after the war would suggest they’re not likely that strong either at this point in time.

                As for the possible continued war, I still don’t really see it as that big of a problem as long as the individual states would see the need to ally against the Dominion. Skyrim ceding from the Empire would just have been the more politically sound move in my opinion, because with that they could have still kept close ties and work together, only that the Dominion couldn’t use the Concordat to demand that the Empire do something about the Talos worship in Skyrim. It might have provoked them to wage war against Skyrim specifically, but I’ve my doubts they’d go further than that.
                If they were as strong as you suggest, then given the state of the civil war as it is now, eating resources and soldiers of the Empire, they’d have the perfect time to strike against Cyrodiil right now since it’d be relatively weaker due to divided forces. Yet they haven’t.

                • 4th Dimension says:

                  Also weirdly enough acording to TES wiki, Empire pretty much crushed the main Aldmeri army close to the IMperial city, and STILL signed a humiliating peace treaty.

                  • guy says:

                    The “victory” at the Imperial City was extremely expensive. As I recall, half the legions were completely obliterated and the rest were badly understrength. At the time the White-Gold Concordiat was signed, the Empire believed prolonging the war would end with their obliteration or unconditional surrender.

                • guy says:

                  Well, to be fair, neither we nor the characters know with certainty what will happen in the future and only know as much about enemy capabilities as their intelligence services can tell them. The Empire at least believes they cannot presently defeat the Thalmor in a full war. However, I’d say it’s pretty likely that the whole Empire can take them but if the Empire splits the Thalmor can take out the remnants one by one.

                  I’m guessing that the Thalmor depend very heavily on their mage corps, both tactically and with joint large-scale weather manipulation or summoning, making judging their power much more difficult than simple numerical comparison.

                  As for Hammerfell, that’s questionably applicable. The Empire might have been at peace with the Thalmor, but if they committed too much to attacking Hammerfell, the Empire would have opted to dogpile them. Also, I got the impression that once Hammerfell seceded, they got military support from groups that don’t contribute much to the legions. Until recently, the legions drew very heavily from Skyrim.

    • Spongioblast says:

      See but here is the thing, the Empire knows that war is going to be coming again. They only just survived the war with the Dominion and now they’re in a period of rebuilding, getting ready for round two. Then Ulfic decides that he doesn’t want to be a part of the Empire anymore and starts his revolt. Now if the united Empire managed to beat back the Dominion only at great cost how does an isolated Skyrim and an isolated Empire weather that storm when it comes around again? They don’t. Skyrim is one of the Empire’s main military recruitment provinces and without them the Empire doesn’t stand a chance. And without the greater Empire’s material wealth Skyrim won’t be able to stand against the Dominion.

      Also, in Ulfirc’s Thalmor Dossier they (the thalmor writing it) make it clear that out of all outcomes and Imperial victory in the civil war would be, for them, the worst possible outcome.

    • Microwaviblerabbit says:

      I believe it was the Jarl of the Reach, not the Empire who made that promise. The issue with the death of the High King was that circumstances of the duel were iffy. Ulfric didn’t ask the High King to rebel against the treaty, he just challenged him and then attacked. The fact the Jarl asks you to make an offering to Talos for her dead husband shows what he believed. The concern with Ulfric is that his rebellion is more about him taking the throne.

      On a basic level, the Stormcloak cause is good, but the leadership is not. Marcus’ quote in Fallout New Vegas about how the Legion is following Caesar, not his ideals comes to mind. What happens when Ulfric dies? The Aldmeri Dominion is playing the long game, they think in centuries.

    • Humanoid says:

      Expecting politicians to look at the bigger picture? No fantasy setting is *that* fantastical.

    • Raygereio says:

      Then he went and challenged the High King to a legal duel

      Ulfric’s a trained warrior with some skill in the Thu’um who fought and survived several battles, while Torygg was barely dry behind his ears. It was technically legal, but that doesn’t make it right.
      More importantly: Torygg practically worshipped Ulfric. If Ulfric had approached Torygg and talked to him, chances are Torygg would have listened. Instead he didn’t bother with that, killed a kid who stood no chance against him and claimed the throne.

      Keep in mind that Ulfric didn’t rebel when the treaty was signed. He took his militia and freed the Reach, in exchange for the Empire’s promise of free worship. His men died for the right to worship Talos; then the Empire revoked that promise.

      The Empre promised no such thing. That was the Reach’s Jarl Igmund.

      As for his right to worship Talos: It’s implied that the Empire’s enforcement of the White-Gold Concordat ammounted to knocking on the door and going “Hello, we’re going to check to see if you worship Talos in your basement next week. We better not find anything. *nudge nudge*”.
      If Ulfric had kept his idiotic mouth shut and just kept on quietly worshipping Talos, everything would have been fine. But he had to go screaming from the rooftops and that was something the Empire couldn’t ignore or they’d risk breaking the treaty before they recovered and were ready for round 2 with the Aldmeri Dominion.

    • acronix says:

      Let’s not forget you can find a dossier of Ulfric written by the Thalmor. There you learn that he is an “asset”, implying that the civil war was actually orchestrated by the Thalmor themselves. Though their idea is to let the Empire and the Stormcloaks duke it out for as long as it is possible, while Ulfric clearly wants to win.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Say what you want about asscreed 3,but at least horseplay was quite decent there.You could jump of a horse onto any nearby enemy instead of this slow dismount animation,you could jump back on a horse with ease instead of this slow mount animation,and most importantly,you could whistle to summon ayour horse to you from anywhere,which couldve easily been implemented here as well.Sometimes realism needs to take back seat for convenience,and traveling trough boring wilderness is one of those times.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Yeah,fighting a giant,woo!

    Also,I dont get why people keep saying how mages are underpowered compared to the rest,when my mage was incredibly easy to level up(summoning+destruction+restoration is an easy level up combo),and he dealt with individual giants without breaking a sweat.Grouped giants and giants with mammoths were trickier though.

    • czhah says:

      Mages work initially, but as you get on higher levels destruction spells start falling behind in damage. Partly this is because the only ways to increase your damage is new spells, a couple of perks in the destruction tree and fortify destruction potions. Weapon damage on the other hand can be increased by the weapon skill and perks, smithing, enchanting and alchemy.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well yeah,but the thing is that by abusing summons,destruction and restoration,in about an hour you can get 100/100/100,and a bunch of perks in those trees if you want.So you can end up stunlocking most enemies,and slowing down those you cant,and have your summons(and companions if you wish)finish off the stragglers.Add alchemy into the mix,and you can keep yourself buffed almost forever.

        True,eventually the enemies would get to your level,but by that time you would be also able to equip yourself with enough stuff to boost you even more.

        The only downside,however,is that it is time consuming.Not just for the initial grind,but because later enemies die a lot slower.However,they still wont be able to touch you.

        • Abnaxis says:

          I think you’re basically making the same point everybody else is making. For the most part, people don’t say magic is underpowered, they say magic doesn’t FEEL powerful. In most settings, mages are the glass cannons, soft and squishy but raining particle effects and explosions on their enemies with abandon. You can be effective as a mage in Skyrim, but only by stun-locking your enemies and painstakingly whitling them down on cloging tennis ball at a time.

          It doesn’t feel like you’re manifesting your will into an avatar of destruction, it feels like you’re firing rubber bands into your enemies’ eyes repeatedly for the win. Yeah, it’s effective enough, but it’s cheesy and boring.

    • Humanoid says:

      Yeah, easy to level up, but each level is worth a pittance in terms of meaningful power advancement. Like levelling small guns but staying with the 9mm pistol all game.

      • …until you get Maria. With the right perks and skill points, I was using that thing to wipe the floor with anything that dared attack me.

        One thing I’ve wanted to try is to make the Abilene Kid BB Gun my main weapon for a playthrough. According to the Vault Wiki, “it has a slightly higher critical chance and a dramatically higher critical damage bonus, boasting an astounding 70 points of added damage for a critical hit. With the Better Criticals perk, a critical hit from the Abilene Kid LE BB gun is on par with one from a sniper rifle, doing 109 damage total compared to the sniper rifle’s 113.”

        Anyway, I think one of the reasons magic spells don’t do as much damage as melee weapons is probably due to the fact that you get the benefit of range attacks. This also seems standard when looking at games that have ranged vs. melee damage, so there’s that.

        • Humanoid says:

          Skyrim’s problem is different because you can upgrade bows, which does increase damage, so intentional throttling of damage for ranged attacks isn’t really a thing. You can get *different* spells that do different, generally pretty niche things, but you can’t upgrade existing ones. Your stock damage spells are still the same pitiful ones you had when first learning them.

          Reginald’s Flames spell might seem pretty weak right now as he ineffectually warms the faces of his enemies. In 20 levels time, the only thing that’ll have changed about it is that he’ll be able to stand around for even longer while being equally ineffectual (or less so, assuming the specific enemies are level scaled).

          • newdarkcloud says:

            There is also the fact that unless you get the perks for half-cost of a spell, most of the stronger spells in the game are completely impossible to rely on.

            Hell, that’s often true even WITH the perks. The only exception is when you make god-level enchantments that dramatically reduce the cost of spells.

        • czhah says:

          On the other hand, bow *do* get all the benefits of melee weapons (ie. multiple ways to increase your damage, etc.) with range thrown in to the mix, so that can’t be all there is to it.

          Magic can be a useful suplement to your melee combat, though. For instance the destruction perks that increase your damage also increase the damage caused by your elemental enchantments on weapons. It just doesn’t work all that well on it’s own. There are mods for that, of course.

          • Amnestic says:

            One “potential” limiting factor is that bows requires arrows while melee weapons never break and magicka recharges automatically. I say “potential” because in practice I don’t think it’s actually possible to run out of arrows if you play properly. You might run dry of your best types, but between all the Draugr arrows, iron arrows, steel arrows and falmer arrows you’re almost certain to never run out.

            This is especially true if you have purchased Dawnguard which lets you craft arrows at forges for 1 piece of firewood (free) plus one ingot (minimal cost) for a quiver of 24 arrows.

            To compound bow’s power, the knockback shout – important for maintaining distance – is likely the first one you’ll master. Bows are just really really good.

  11. Henson says:

    Okay, the similarities between how I approached my character’s relation to the Empire/Stormcloak situation and how Chris and Mumbles approached it are kinda freaking me out right now. My character’s an Imperial woman from Cyrodiil on the run from the Empire who intended to help the Stormcloaks free Skyrim from the Empire until she discovered that Ulfric and Ulfric’s chief people are totally rebelling for the wrong reasons.

    I guess I’m not as creative as I thought.

    P.S. These ending credits were some of the most entertaining I’ve seen on this show yet. Imma Suplex you!

  12. LB says:

    I don’t understand why you guys don’t use mods. I know you want to see and mock some of the original game’s bugs and jank. But Spoiler Warning is generally more for people that have already played these games, it’s not a thorough breakdown of mechanics and it’s not focused on showing off the story (hah!), it’s just general commentary over general gameplay.

    So why not just throw on a few mods? It would make the show more interesting to watch, more interesting for you guys to play, it could showcase mods you like and it would probably get you a good few extra views on youtube.

    I mean you’ve already got seven episodes of vanilla Skyrim, you could easily jump to showing something a bit different and more unique.

    • krellen says:

      Having not played most of the games Spoiler Warning has featured and having watched them all anyway, I completely reject your hypothesis of who the show “is for”.

      Where do you even get that idea?

      • Ardis Meade says:

        I second this. While I have bought a couple of games after having seen them in the show, Spoiler Warning has yet to cover any game I have previously played.

      • czhah says:

        Yeah, while I’ve bought both fallout 3 and fallout: new vegas, as well as dishonored, the walking dead *and* tomb raider partly due to this show, I’ve watched all the seasons so far, regardless of whether I’ve played the game or not, or ever intend to, so assuming it’s only for people who have played the games in question is simplistic at best.

        Not that I would exactly mind some mods, if only to make switching to unarmed a little bit more expedient.

        Still, involving mods would result in the game being praised where it doesn’t deserve to.. and being scrorned where it doesn’t deserve to.

    • Destrustor says:

      Adding mods into the mix would make the commentary less relevant to the actual game. They’d be talking about the mods instead of the game.
      Have you ever noticed that they also often stray on the path of talking about the companies behind the games, and the industry in general? Having mods would invalidate some of that, as they could then never be sure if whatever bug they encounter is the fault of the game devs, the modders, or the interaction between vanilla and the mods themselves. They couldn’t go “oh, Bethesda!” with the same comical certainty as they do now.
      I think it’s better to focus on the core game instead of inviting endless arguments about which mod caused which particular bug and/or balancing issue, and fanboyish debates about which mod they should and shouldn’t have installed.
      And, just like Krellen said, not everyone in the world has played Skyrim, and for some of them this might be the only affordable way to get a taste of the game. This is why I watch let’s-players on youtube in the first place: to show me some games that I’d never bother to play otherwise.

    • I would say 4 other people commenting on a game while the player goes and visits Sheogorath is pretty darn unique (and occasionally hysterically funny).

      Also, I can count on one hand the number of games I’ve played that Spoiler Warning has covered (Fallout 3, New Vegas, and now Skyrim) and I either started playing them during the season or afterwards.

      Not to mention that they have good reasons for not adding mods. Critiquing a game with mods added is kinda like critiquing the New Testament based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You might get the gist of it, but you have no idea whether you’re complaining about a modder’s error, a programmer’s error, a design decision, or emergent gameplay.

    • Abnaxis says:

      Gonna halfway disagree with you.

      I don’t think it would be a good idea to run with mods in the Spoiler Warning season proper, but I would very much like to see a Railroad-to-Nowhere-type episode where Josh fires up All The Mods and chaos ensues. If nothing else, it would give a contrast to what the game can be with mods compared to what it is vanilla for the rest of the season.

  13. stupiddice says:

    I just want to say I was one of those people who did not do any of the political quests because I just couldn’t support either side. The only way I would’ve touched that questline was if there was an option to unite both factions against the Aldmeri Dominion, because fuck those guys. Seriously, I hated them a thousand times more than the dragons. In fact, I would have allied with the dragons in order to kill those guys.

    Actually, that would be an awesome questline…please be in TES VI.

    • Humanoid says:

      I supported neither side during my hundred hours or so of gametime, mainly because I was a thief who was only in Skyrim for the monies. But I still (sneakily) murdered the elves because my philosophy is best described by Oglaf: Good and evil are relative but being a dick cannot be allowed.

    • aldowyn says:

      Almost everyone hates the thalmor. It’s remarkable just how thorough Bethesda’s characterization of them as complete assholes is.

      • acronix says:

        That’s only because making a character into a Complete Asshole is actually pretty easy. The Alderi as presented in Skyrim have no depths: they are just evil elves.

        I did bother with the political quests on my first playthrough, but didn’t in subsequent ones. Mostly because I found that part of the game is buggy as heck.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          And the worst part is that the ones you REALLY want to kill often have plot armor.

          Much like Maven Black-Briar, the bane of my existence.

          • swenson says:

            Oh, Maven.

            I stole everything of value in her house. Repeatedly. It was the only thing I could do.

            • stupiddice says:

              I am still amazed that there is no quest to take her down. Why set up a villian and then not let the player deal with her?

              • Falling says:

                This would make the Riften quests a 100 times better. If you could join Maven, form a rival gang, or join up with that Lionheart chick and take down all the criminal rings.

                There’s no real alternative if you wanted to play an upstanding citizen except to not accept the major quest line in Riften. I started trying to play a “Paragon” character in Skyrim, got tricked into that Assassin group’s death alternatives (didn’t recognize the 4th option), strong-armed into some ghost house kill job over some Molag Bal mace and went screw it. I guess I’m evil. (Just not evil enough to join a cannibal cult.)

                Still kinda disappointed how far my character fell from original intentions. By the time I hit Riften, I no longer cared. But seems hard to get good quest lines for “Paragon” characters besides skipping major quest lines.

          • Grudgeal says:

            If you’re lucky enough with Unrelenting Force, it should be theoretically possible to knock her off one of Riften’s bridges and into the water, where she’ll hopefully remain forever. Theoretically.

            One day. Oooone day…

            • Humanoid says:

              Reminds me of the efforts in Ultima 8 to feed Beren to the lurker to end his reign of terror and let yours commence.

              (For background, the game also heavily relied on plot-armoured NPCs, but a quirk of the engine is that anything dropped into water was destroyed regardless of that flag)

          • czhah says:

            If there’s a mod I’d really wish to see, it’s one that removes essential NPCs and is safe, in the sense that it informs you of having failed such-and-such quest à la fallout: new vegas.

  14. PlasmaPony says:

    While I personally never did the questing for either side in the political conflict, I would choose to side with the Empire if asked. As others have said, it’s best for everyone if the Empire is in control. The Stormcloaks are very short sighted in the rebellion. It’s obvious that the only thing keeping the Dominion from just waltzing in and taking over Skyrim completely is the Empire playing along with them. The Empire is the buffer zone that keeps Skyrim as it is. To remove the Empire from the lands opens the gate to the complete domination of it. The Stormcloaks are so wrapped up in their ideals that they cannot see the politics at work, nor the benefits that working WITH the Empire would have over working against them. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Ulfric cheat in the duel against the High King by using a Shout in combat? Seems pretty scummy to do that in what is supposed to be a straight fight.

    I’m looking forward to the reading of the Twitter questions. I gave Mumbles one I’m positive will come up, and I look forward to the reactions.

    • Greg says:

      Honestly, I never really bought into the whole “Ulfric cheated!” argument, since I tend to regard imposing rules on a fight to the death as being stupid. But I had no problem denying his claim to High King-ship anyway, because having basically a more dressed up version of the Necromongers’ “You keep what you kill!” rule is even more stupid. A system where a dumb-as-rocks raw recruit of a soldier could simply walk into the capital, challenge and kill the reigning sovereign and by doing so become High King himself, all because he happens to be good at hitting people with metal sticks, is one that is not worthy of respect.

      • Humanoid says:

        And it’s hypocritical because the game doesn’t let you do the same thing back to Ulfric through his plot armour. :(

        EDIT: Before anyone replies about finished the civil war plotlines, yeah it gets lifted right at the end. But I bet Ulfric didn’t need to do a bunch of busywork sidequests for the Stormcloaks before the game let him kill the king. :P

      • aldowyn says:

        Especially when he ‘cheats’ using a power that’s traditionally a sign of rulers and such.

        • ben briggs says:

          the thu’um isn’t a sign of rulers actually, all emperors of tamriel (bar the mede dynasty) have had dragon’s blood which means they were descended from dragonborn (first empire alessia, second empire reman cyrodil and third empire tiber septim) who presumably could shout but their descendants couldn’t. Being able to shout is traditionally associated with being an intern for some old guys on a mountain and does not necessarily add any legitimacy to his claim to high kingship.

      • Grudgeal says:

        I expect any old person who tried that would get unceremoniously killed for regicide on the spot.

        There are real-world historical precedents, *lots* of them, for arguments between nobles being settled in a duel, but the operative word here is ‘between nobles’. Ulfric is Jarl of one of Skyrim’s holds and part of the council that elects the high king in the first place, which probably granted him the right to issue a challenge. And as the game notices, he still has to be elected to the post by a consensus majority of the remaining jarls, half of whom don’t support him.

    • Veloxyll says:

      Yah. This episoe they were talking about how The Stormcloaks were all FREEDOM OF RELIGION and stuff.

      But that’s not what’s gonna happen. What’s gonna happen is that as soon as the Stormcloaks break away rom the Empire, the High Elves are going to roll in and murder them all.

      The guard coming up to accost Josh for stealing the Horse after he mentioned it was perfect timing though. As was the horse avenging Mr Catburt’s death

      Also, favourite moment from Mumbles, “I practically never fought the giants, they seem like cool guys, providing you don’t mess with their mammoths. …
      Oh my god, they have CHEESE!”

      • Oooh! Now I know why my character chose the Stormcloaks. Yay! (She’s an Altmer and it’d been bugging me (but not enough to figure out how to change it) that she’d gone with the faction that wants to kick her out of Skyrim, but if she’s playing a long game and trying to create an independent Nord state so her people can conquer it, well that’s an awesome backstory)

        Mostly I went Stormcloak cause I figured SW would go Empire and I wanted to see both.

  15. hborrgg says:

    I have a suggestion for how sidequests are handled. Josh completes only the ones which are thrust into his quest log without any provocation.

    That would be the authentic Skyrim experience, wouldn’t it?

    • modus0 says:

      By the NINE, we’d be here until The Elder Scrolls VIII comes out if they did that.

      Particularly with that poor Courier constantly delivering “go find the power in [insert random location with a word wall here]” notes.

  16. Alex says:

    @Josh: Just fight from horseback. It’s not very well implemented, but it’s faster than jumping off and jumping back on all the time.

  17. topazwolf says:

    I chose the empire simply because I don’t like Ulfric. Dude basically challenges the high king of Skyrim to a duel, then uses his shout to win. A power that he obtained from the Greybeards for peaceful purposes. Basically, he murdered the high king to attempt to seize control over Skyrim by cheating in a duel using spiritual training. I can’t help but find a certain satisfaction in Fus Ro Dahing him into a wall and slaying him. Very circle of life and all that.

    EDIT:
    For clarification, I don’t actually care that he killed the High King. I am more concerned about him using the Thu’um to accomplish his foul deed. In fact, finding out he used a shout in the duel is what pushed me over the fence and on to the Empire’s side (this is of course before I found out about the racism and radical ideologies of his cause). To me the Thu’um are somewhat of a religious practice that promotes spiritual matters more so then physical. To use them for murder is horrendous in my eyes. In fact, I have never killed any man/mer/beast with a shout with the sole exception of Ulfric (I believed it to be just punishment for his acts).

    Even ignoring the implied meaning of the Thu’um (to Nords not dragons) I have an issue with Ulfric’s use of them. Originally, he was in study to become a Greybeard. He went to war because he thought it was necessary and eventually began to weaponize his shouts. This necessary usage of his abilities seemed to have degraded to the point to where he uses shouts for the sake of convenience (though he denies it). There should not have been a need for him to use the shout in the duel since he was a decorated soldier, yet he did so to ensure his victory. This indicated to me that he has become morally bankrupt and cares only about his own personal goals. A man like that will inevitably lead Skyrim into ruination. I therefore cannot support him.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      You mean it’s not that he challenged an inexperienced child to a duel, it’s the fact that he used Dragon Shouts to do it?

      Personally, the fact that the High King was a fucking kid is what pushed me over the edge. Well, that and his flagrant, unending racism.

      • The high king was a kid? How old are we talking? I would assume teenager with this information…

      • topazwolf says:

        I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure I saw him in Sovngarde. While I’m sure my Altmer would call him a child, not sure I would classify him as a child since he appeared to be a full grown adult. Inexperienced and poor at combat? Probably. But he was still an adult.

        • thebigj_a says:

          That’s because in Skyrim you look like you’re eleven years old from birth till puberty, then you instantly become a full grown adult. There are no teenagers in Tamriel.

          • topazwolf says:

            Very true. However, this particular art direction still caused me to not feel overly outraged by his murder. I was completely unaware that he was suppose to be a teenage, though having a teenager or even little boy model would have greatly affected my outlook on the murder in question. As it stands it looks like one full-bearded bear of a man killed another. :)

            This of course opens a new line of dialogue about the care needed to properly represent the world the player. Had the developers just put a picture in the blue palace of the teenage high king for the players to see, it would have sold their point much better.

  18. IFS says:

    Playing my no fast travel run I do find myself relying on (stolen) horses quite a bit. I don’t even mind that they wander back to the stable as it means I don’t have to keep track of them once I’ve used them to reach my destination. I did get Frost from a quest at one point, and he was useful for some time until a group of otherwise peaceful guards decided to murder him, immediately after succeeding they went back to being peaceful towards me, and even protested in confusion as I punched the lot of them to death.

    Oh also for the quest to get Ysolda the mammoth tusk I always just go right into the Inn she works at and swipe the mammoth tusk hanging right behind the bar. Ysolda is not the brightest person to not have been able to get it herself, but then she also still offers to tell a khajiit character about the khajiit people.

    • topazwolf says:

      I get around this by becoming a werewolf early on and getting the ring. Werewolf sprinting is extremely fast when getting from place to place and you can still kill normal wolves without having to go through the silly dismounting animation of a horse. Rather short lived, but traveling in bursts as a werewolf is still more fun then riding a Skyrim horse.

      Note that this is the only thing I ever use werewolf form for.

  19. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    Haven’t played the game, so I’m just spitballing here, but the Nords of Skyrim sound like a pretty good analog to the Protestants in the Holy Roman Empire after about 1618, or the Dutch (who were technically in the Empire after 1566). That makes the Aldemeri the French, and the Empire the… Empire.

    If the Nords worship all the various gods and find a lot of work as mercenaries, they could also be Swiss.

    Regardless, historically, they fought for a close to a century, with the 30 years war being the capstone. The only reason the war ended was because there was no one left to fight it. Arguing that the rebellion is short sighted is missing the point -so was the Dutch Revolt against Spain and the Empire. There was toleration within the Empire, the Emperor was far away, and they kept the French out. That didn’t make the Dutch any less oppressed, and they felt an obligation to revolt.

    And for what it’s worth, it took 80 years, but they won.

    • guy says:

      The reason it’s stupid and short-sighted is that the entire current situation is temporary. The Empire is actually pro-Talos and their appeasement of the Thalmor is a mere stalling tactic. Essentially, sometime in the relatively near future, probably while Ulfric is still alive, the Empire will go to war with the Thalmor again, and either they win and Talos worship comes back or they lose and the Thalmor conquer the world and exterminate Talos worshipers. By revolting against the Empire, the Stormcloaks are actually making it more likely their religion will be wiped out.

      Additionally, the Empire was not making any serious effort to crack down on Talos worship. They stopped mentioning him in religious ceremonies and removed his statues from temples, but beyond that they basically just came around every so often, knocked on doors, and said, “Are you worshiping Talos? No? Good, we’re done here.”

  20. hborrgg says:

    What really made the civil war questline interesting for me was learning a bit more about the lore. Skyrim, if I remember right, is considered the most prosperous province in the empire, Nords provide the bulk of its military forces, and historically a unified skyrim has been essentially invasion-proof due to the ring of mountains which encloses the entire region. This makes sense considering that Tiber Septim grew up in Skyrim and used Nords to unite Cyrodiil and build the entire Empire.

    With all that in mind the Civil War was a bit less “Scrappy Braveheart Underdogs fighting for their freedom” and a bit more “the Roman Empire if Italy suddenly decided to Rebel”. Which I guess would mean that Ulfric Stormcloak is Julius Caesar and General Tullius is Pompey.

    (Of course I wound up going with the Stormcloaks. It was actually a pretty dramatic development for my character when he discovered that the guy in Julius Caesar armor was actually the less Caesar-like of the two and promptly switched sides.)

    As for the moral discussion, bringing it up does seem to run the risk of getting somewhat political, but I will point this out: Being a video game with a great many of the finer details left vague and open to debate it is incredibly easy to come up with rationalizations for supporting whichever side you end up choosing, (ie. “Oh, the Empire hates the Thalmor and want to worship Talos too” or “Oh, the Stormcloaks aren’t really that racist.” (They don’t even seem to practice slavery like the Thalmor do)). And the game seems to actively reinforce this line of thinking whenever it can, for instance you go into Imperial territory and find people giving sob stories ending with “and it’s all those Stormcloaks’ falt!”, then you go into rebel territories and get essentially the same sob stories ending with “and it’s all those Imperials’ falt!” You even have that tavern song where it’s essentially the same song but with some of the words switched out depending on where you are.

    What I’m saying is that the game ends up starting to create an eerily accurate representation of the information bubbles present in real-world politics and I’m not sure if that was the intent.

    • Yanni says:

      Diving a bit deeper into the lore, especially into the Thalmor’s long term goals and the Aldmeri world view strengthens the Stormcloak cause greatly even if you hate Ulfric and his followers. For instance if you know the religious functions and how the world actually works then you begin to realize all the political arguments people use to decide are utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme, yet the grand scheme is hidden from most players just as it would be to most characters.

      The Aldmeri worldview differs from that of men in that unlike men who see the Aedra as creators the Altmer see them as ancestors. They saw the Dawn Era as a mythical time when all spirits were change incarnate before Lorkhan tricked them into mortal form and bound them to this world. Auriel and Lorkhan’s avatars battle throughout the early ages over this numerous times in the enantiomorphs with Auriel ultimately ascending and showing the Altmer the way to gain freedom.

      Tiber Septim came along and united the world, his siege of Alinor lasting outside of time for over three eras. It was a devastating, crippling assault wherein he essentially used a brass time god to destroy their national identity and bind them to the empire. He then ascended to divinity (this is undeniable as several plot points in Oblivion make it clear that he is in fact divine – also the Mantella of Daggerfall makes that apparent as well during the Warp in the West) and when he does so Talos mantles Lorkhan, essentially assuming his role and holding the mortal coil in place.

      This is relevant because Elves seek freedom. They seek ascension like Auriel. They’ve tried numerous times through the Towers and Stones (Red Mountain was a Tower, the Heart of Lorkhan its stone, so to was White Gold and the Amulet of Kings) to bring back the Dawn but as long as Talos exists they cannot. They found another method by using their own Crystal Tower to mantle their ancestors and ascend but then that was destroyed during the Oblivion Crisis and we see a sudden marked shift in their behavior. After losing this the Thalmor become more aggressive, they need to find another way to escape and ascend. So they divert to their old method of unmaking the world (See: Towers). To do this they need Talos gone and Elder Scrolls lore states that divinity is a result of praise, belief and worship in D&D fashion.

      When you realize this you begin to see why ensuring belief in Talos is essential to Mundus if you’re on the side of men. If you’re on the Elves side and want to see them free then Empire all the way, but if the Thalmor erase Talos as a god then they win and they “erase man from the possibility of existence”.

      • Abnaxis says:

        TL;DR Talos won’t exist without people worshiping him. Talos is holding the world together; if he goes away the Thalmor can destroy the world, which they want to do so they can reach Nirvana. Therefore insisting on worshiping Talos prevents a mer-begotten Armageddon.

        This is a very interesting take on the conflict. I mean, everyone else talking about the Stormcloaks as ideologues is forgetting that religion isn’t just an idea–anyone who wants to can commune with the Aedra, who in turn can affect the world at large in real, tangible ways.

        The game would have been so much more interesting if it had focused more on this aspect of the cosmology and let it play a role in the conflict.

        • Amnestic says:

          If the Thalmor planned to use the removal of Talos Worship as a method with which to head to paradise then they’re not doing a terribly good job of it. Even the neutral Whiterun has a Talos shrine in the central area, complete with a priest preaching loudly. The Empire too shows little desire to police Talos worship (why would they? They went to war with the Thalmor to defend exactly that!) and only pay their duty of keeping it down lip service when necessary. General Tullius expresses implicit approval as well, as long as it’s kept quiet.

          If anything, the Stormcloak Rebellion probably provoked more crackdown on Talos worshipers while also alienating a major force that was sympathetic to Talos worshipers – the Empire.

    • Grudgeal says:

      I always drew parallels between the Stormcloaks and the Germanic rebellions, both the first century uprisings that led to the Augustean ban on conquest east of the Rhine and the later ones that caused the fall of the western roman empire. The stormcloaks are essentially the Germanic ex-legionnaires that used their training and experience fighting the roman empire’s battles to make their own nation. Even though skyrim is the origin of the empire, it is not its cultural center or the ideal the empire is made from, so I’d argue Ulfric is more Arminius than Caesar.

      Personally I’m kind of tired of the “one nation conquers everything” trope when applied to fantasy worlds, especially when it’s modeled on the Romans without really understanding what made the old republic (and its subsequent empire) work in real life (cultural assimilation of its subjects, resettlement of provinces from the core region, instilling loyalty to the ideal of the empire and the idea of citizenship “civis romanus sum” and all that, combined with a consistent expansion for resources), and even more so all the ways in which it *didn’t* work, which is just glossed over in order to have this big ol’ empire hanging around.

      I especially don’t like it when they end up being portrayed as lasting “one zousand years!” without any signs of major cultural and societial upheaval, as if a stable thousand-year existence has happened to *any* multicultural and expansionistic civilization in history. Heck, the mere concept of having a multicultural empire in the first place without some kind of security inevitably leads whoever tries it to crash and burn horribly (*).

      I didn’t like the Empire in Morrowind where my curmudgeonly dunmer spellblade mostly tried to avoid getting involved as much as possible because they stuck out as a sore thumb in the magical land of Vywardenfell and there was no way to get rid of them, and I took near-glee in roleplaying my proud norse warrior into helping cutting off its life support. History marches on..

  21. hborrgg says:

    @Chris “There’s nothing to do other than murder things.”

    Are you kidding me? I had a great time playing as a Nondrickian-style traveling migrant worker who picked crops and mined ore and was all-around completely non-violent. (Well, aside from when he got drunk. I found that at some inns if you randomly punched someone then instead of everyone ganging up on you the NPCs would start fighting amongst themselves and have an actual bar fight until the cops came! Another time I accidentally dropped something in a bar and some people started doing the “That’s mine, I saw it first!” thing and a dude died! It was awesome!)

  22. MichaelGC says:

    How is a glitch like the ‘punch Belethor/reload’ one even possible? Is the game storing info like ‘is hostile’ or ‘is broke’ in some place other than the save file?

    • Rutskarn says:

      I have no idea, but I will say that right back to Daggerfall TES games have had some fuckin’ weird save/load exploits.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Sooo… would you say that the glitches were better in Daggerfall? Just wondering if I should take a drink or not! ;0)

        (PS There was a commenter on Rock Paper Shotgun lamenting the end of Irrational based on love for Freedom Force, so unless that was you, you are not alone!…)

    • Humanoid says:

      I think you can (somewhat less conveniently) achieve the restocking by quitting to desktop in lieu of punching/murdering before reloading, which does show that yes, it’s not stored in the save file.

      My amateur guess, horribly mangling my technical terms, would that be there’s some processing shortcut taken when reloading the game *normally*, because quicksave/quickload performance is something you’d want to optimise. So reloading without punching him is actually a ‘dirty’ reload where the game just reuses the Belethor object in memory, whereas forcing a state change between friendly and hostile (or quitting to desktop) would force a ‘clean’ load from the save game file, and as the gold amount is not present, it’s set to a default value.

    • Shamus says:

      It does indeed seem like vendor inventory is kept in memory but not the save file. Which is ridiculous.

      It works the other way, too. I’ll do a bunch of trading with a vendor, then as I leave I miss-click and accidentally nick something off their counter. So then I reload the save from when I entered the shop. My inventory and money reverts, but his doesn’t. (I realize now that this could probably be used to dupe one-of-a-kind items.)

      Very strange setup.

      • Abnaxis says:

        Alright, I’ve been working on a mod lately (after I complained about game balance in Ep 1 :p), so in hopes of expanding my budding expertise with the Creation Kit, I looked into vendors. Let me tell you about strange…

        See, Belethor isn’t actually the vendor–he might look like a guy selling you things, but the real vendor is a random, mundane container somewhere. That container holds all the gold and all the inventory for the shop. That container belongs to a faction, and the faction lets Belethor draw items from the container and peddle them to you for profit.

        The faction system is, incidentally, the part of the code that tracks all the crimes you commit and the bounty you rack up (an NPC can be part of multiple factions, and only one of them can track crimes). I’m guessing that’s where the bug comes in. When you smack Belethor a crime is generated, and I’m guessing it wreaks havoc with his faction affiliation in order to properly handle the witnessing system, likely breaking his link to the container.

        Reloading reestablishes the link, but the current gold isn’t actually stored in the container, only the max gold is. I’m…not actually sure which entity in this Goldberg machine tracks the current merchant gold…

        Yeah, spending 20 minutes with the Creation Kit makes it so clear why there are so many bugs in Beth games.

  23. Re: “They have CHEESE?”

    Fun fact: Of all the things in this or any other Bethesda game, including the Super Mutant gore bags, nothing made me feel queasier than when I saw my first tree stump full of giant-made mammoth cheese. I don’t know why, it just grosses me out for some reason.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I agree. You know why? It looks just like human fat after it’s been sucked out via liposuction.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Well, fat is fat after all. Personally, looking at it made me imagine what it smelled like. The smell of runny French cheese, milk and fat spoiling and souring in the exposed air, mixed with the smell of the mammoth leather under the heat of the sun… The insects buzzing around the barrel, the fact that it’s probably inevitable some maggots are living in it…

        • Humanoid says:

          I don’t care how excrementally runny it is, hand it over with all speed.

        • Kamica says:

          Hmm, I didn’t think any of this, I thought: YAY, GIANTS LOVE CHEESE JUST LIKE I DO, I LOVE GIANTS! =P.
          I actually do like Giants for multiple reasons.
          They’re the only race which doesn’t have members that just attack you for no apparent reason other than “I’m a bad guy and I’m gonna clubber/burn/chop/punch you to death.” as far as I know, they make cheese, they have a primitive culture, which is pretty cool, they were pals with the Dwemer (I love the dwemer, they’re my favourite civ from the Elder Scrolls and I’ll always try to find out more about them in every game), and it’s cool to walk with them when they’re not in a protective mood =P. (Oh, and they fight dragons with/for/instead of me =P, and win…)

        • hborrgg says:

          But on the other hand it’s being guarded, so it must be good!
          (I always stole giant cheese)

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        So thats why you are so skinny.

  24. Grudgeal says:

    I found that the main advantage to being a werewolf in Skyrim is that it completely obsoleted the need for a horse (as long as you manage to find the ring of Hircine so you can keep it going without having to stop for a snack every minute). Barring that it let you go giant hunting at level 4, its greatest boon really is the increased running speed, and it keeps the wolves off your back too. Just being able to speed through the landscape at speeds higher than your piddling walking pace without being bothered every five steps by a random encounter is a great enhancement.

  25. TMTVL says:

    Finally, it’s time! *ahem*

    My life was wrapped around the circus. Her name was Lydia.
    I met her at the world’s fair in 1900, marked down from
    $19.40. Ah, Lydia.

    She was the most glorious creature
    Under the su-un.
    Thais. DuBarry. Garbo.
    Rolled into one.

    Oooooooh
    Lydia oh Lydia, say have you met Lydia,
    Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.
    She has eyes that folks adore so,
    And a torso even more so.

    Lydia oh Lydia, that encyclopedia,
    Oh Lydia the Queen of Tattoo.
    On her back is the Battle of Waterloo.
    Beside it The Wreck of the Hesperus, too.
    And proudly above waves the Red, White, and Blue,
    You can learn a lot from Lydia.

    La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

  26. Mersadeon says:

    I think the reason why I was so pissed at the Stormcloaks, the straw that broke the lizardman’s back, was their handling of the former inhabitants of Markath (don’t remember their name right now).
    Because I can understand the Stormcloaks. Sure, Ulfric Stormcloak killed the High-King in a duel, but that is the Nord way! And the Imperials coming here and telling us that our rituals are uncivilized and that we can’t kill the King in duel is wrong! Except when we do the exact same thing to the people in Markath, because their rituals are uncivilized!

  27. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,about that whole turning into a ring thing,why does Mumbles want to see lydia fingeredon a finger so much?

  28. RTBones says:

    On the long road to High Hrothgar…one of the things you can do to reduce travel time is fast travel to Helgen, and come around the mountain from the backside. There is at least one interesting dungeon of vampires on the far side before you get to Ivarstead. You can actually get a quest later to find a dog, which you find out that talks, who will bring you back here in yet another quest. Given Josh’s antics, however, there is no telling which way he will or will not go.

    I guess he’ll be coming around the mountain when he comes….

  29. KremlinLaptop says:

    Why do I imagine Mumbles starts conversations with, “Shut up, Rutskarn!” even when Rutskarn isn’t around.

  30. Theminimanx says:

    It seems we found ourselves a successor to the incinerator.
    Any bets on how long it will take for Shamus to find out about the Dragon bones Josh is carrying, and start complaining?

  31. Grin of Madness says:

    One of the problems with capturing Lydia’s soul in a gem is that, unlike Morrowind, Skyrim doesn’t tell you what soul is in what gem. It just tells you the quality. Which means that unless you only have the one gem you have no guarantee that the soul you are using is Lydia’s.
    The other problem with the plan is that enchanting, at least by my understanding, purges the trapped soul of all identity so that it could be shaped into the enchantment thereby rendering the whole “put her soul in a ring” ineffective.
    However, I grant the illustrious Mumbles that if Bethesda allowed you to perform Necromancy in such a way that you could directly bind specific souls to an ornament so that you could summon their personal spirit to fight for you, that would make for some awesome gameplay especially considering doing so would probably raise your bounty across the world for being a Necromancer.

    • TVG says:

      I was always disappointed that you weren’t allowed to practice necromancy in TES. Those how-to books in Morrowind about how to put together a skeleton for reanimation made me wish I could try it out in the game.

    • Matt K says:

      That change in Oblivion really pissed me off. I loved going around in Morrowind and capturing mostly boss’s souls in gems as my prize for defeating them. I’d then toss those gems in some drawer.

    • topazwolf says:

      Actually the purging identity from the soul thing is not quite true. I believe that there is a book in the Elder Scrolls games (technically three books called Feyfolken) about an old man who uses an enchanting device (prevalent in Morrowind I believe) to enchant a quill to use in making these little posters that go on the doors of churches (or his local equivalent). He bought an expensive enchantment which used a powerful soul (the soul’s power is measured by its complexity. Men, dremora, and greater beings have grand souls since they are all sapient) to create its enchantment. The downside of this is that since he lacked any skill in enchantment the quill came out rather odd. It did everything that could be asked of it and more, but it took joy in its new task. It did so well, that it started creating the posters without any real input from the old man. This eventually drove the man to suicide.

      From this tale, it can be deduced that a skillful enchanter is basically limiting the soul and placing boundaries upon it so that its personality is not allowed to take over the item. Thus the personality is less purged and more controlled. You are basically not only enslaving their soul, but making it blind, deaf, and mute to all but its specific intended task. I have some issues with using black soul gems because of this.

      As a side note, you should really read some of the books in Skyrim (some are really good).

  32. Harry says:

    This is really NOT the place to get into this, and Shamus should nuke this comment if he feels it’s going too far in the “real world politics” direction, but I’ve noticed (as a person in the UK) that, in a very general sense, Americans seem more inclined to support the Empire, while Europeans are more inclined to support the Stormcloaks.

    I suspect it has something to do with America’s status as a leading world power. And I’ll leave it at that.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I think if anything (and coincidentally, to make this a little less political), some Americans are less familiar with themes of Empire and see Skyrim as analogous to a state and the conflict as analogous to our own civil war. We have a very different culture about state secession in response to an unpopular federal mandate.

      We kind of see states as teenagers and the union as a fumbling but well-meaning parent. We understand their rebellious tendencies, but sometimes we gotta lay down the law.

      • Grudgeal says:

        So, basically, the Stormcloaks are the Confederates?

        Interesting point of view. Not having interviewed many colonials about their Skyrim preferences I’d initially have thought it’d be the other way around: After all they/you tore themselves from the Empire over a similar ‘no repression without representation’ issue.

        So, the question left to ask is: Which side does that make the Canadians lean towards?

      • I am on the side of Whiterun! … That is to say, if the game would acknowledge that. -.-

        I did not think in terms of siding with the Empire because I was American. I picked the Empire over the Stormcloaks because I think Ulfric and his ilk are short-sided morons. But I do wish they could’ve been better written. I wish the whole conflict was handled better.

        Plus, the Septim emperors (Stewart and Bean at least) struck me as pretty cool guys, even if their line is long gone.

      • Harry says:

        Yeah. I suppose English people might be inclined to understand it as analogous to the British Empire occupying India halfway around the world, and India being desperate for independence – whereas, as you said, Americans see more of a civil war parallel, which has very different connotations.

        Which raises the question – politically speaking, is Skyrim a rebelling colony, or a seceding state? I assumed the former, but I honestly don’t know enough about TES lore to answer. And maybe how you answer that question is a big factor in who you end up supporting.

        • syal says:

          I’ll add that the individual states were all colonized by roughly the same people by the time they were given statehood (with the possible exception of Texas) so maybe there’s less culture over here to be sacrificed for the Federal good, in turn meaning we’re less sympathetic to people resisting those sacrifices.

          And the racism angle really brings up Confederacy thoughts.

        • stratigo says:

          It is neither. Skyrim is a client state to the Empire. It runs off a feudal and not colonial or federal system. The ruler of skyrim has certain duties to the empire and in return the empire has certain duties to the ruler of skyrim. The Jarls then have duties to the ruler of skyrim (and vice versa), but not so much to the empire, which is why the jarls all are so independant and also why the Moot for the high king is an important event.

          Ulfric thinks that the empire has essentially failed to uphold its duties to the empire and then used an obscure and outdated skyrim law to go in and off the high king so that he got a chance to sit on the throne. The empire, regardless of strict legality, is not willing to let one of their last three major holdings go and moves soldiers in to enforce its will. But notably they are doing so in a way that they intend to put Elisif on the throne as high queen, maintaining the feudal status quo that unites Skyrim to the Empire.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Thats a great read of the relationship. Thank you.

            Just checked into some Skyrim lore earlier today. Seems the Nords willingly joined the empire and with enthusiasm. Not something I would have expected but it fits better than whatever I was imagining (I hadn’t really thought much about it).

    • Amnestic says:

      I admit it’s a super limited sample, but both myself and my room-mate (English) sided with the Empire on our first playthroughs.

    • MadHiro says:

      I play Dunmer characters.

      I side with the Empire for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they don’t make me live in a ghetto.

    • I’m an American and I sided with the Stormcloaks. It was before I knew anything about their many faults and just went with the underdog, I suppose.

      Would it move these comments closer to being nuked if I pointed out how many empires have come out of Europe (some of which still have remnants), including one on which “the sun never set?” I think it was Jeremy Hardy who noted that a lot of the places in the world that are in turmoil aren’t too far from an Edwardian pillar-box. :)

    • anaphysik says:

      Gotta get this point in, just in case the thread really does get nuked: mad props for your choice in avatar, Harry. Silph Co. to the rescue!

      Sort of relatedly, in that it’s about Amer-v-Euro difference: in the first episode of Disclosure Alert: Alpha Protocol, newdarkcloud noted that most American players see Michael Thorton as generally normal, whereas the vast majority of European players see him as a total asshole.

  33. Jeff R. says:

    There is no Empire in any real sense; the current pretender to the Imperial Throne is a Thalmor puppet, no more independent than Vichy France. If they had any real independence they would have been able to honor their agreements with regard to the Reach. They didn’t, thus they don’t. So the conflict is really between Elf Nazis and Viking Rednecks, and you absolutely have to go with the Rednecks every time.

    • Rutskarn says:

      This is pretty much what it would take to get me to go Stormcloak–conclusive proof that the Empire wasn’t ultimately planning on hiting back.

      • Jeff R. says:

        What more proof do you need than the Reach? There is also the fact that the current “Emperor” (The real line died with Martin, because the Blades were too incompetent to get him wedded and bedded during the extended period of time when the Oblivion PC was busy fighting Gladiators and such) is old and childless and when he goes the Thalmor will pretty much get to pick his successor themselves.

        • Aaron says:

          supporting the empire is also a lot harder when you start to look at what is actually still part of the empire they have lost a good portion of their territories either to the thalmor (elsweyr) or to rebellion (hammerfell, highrock?, skyrim possibly,and maybe blackmarsh)

        • MadHiro says:

          Really? Because by my count, the “real” line died out with the demise of Emperor Borgas in 1E 369. The Reman and Septim dynasties are just as Johnny Come Lately as the Medes Dynasty, in comparison to the House That Ysgramor Built. The Medes took the title of Emperor the same way every prior line has; by force, with military might.

          Describing the architect of one of the most conclusive setbacks that the Aldmeri Dominion has suffered since the infinite sack of Alinor began as a ‘puppet’ is an interesting choice. Do you believe it was some sort of double-bluff, or are you just completely ignoring the Battle of the Red Ring? Consider what the Dominion actually gained from the White-Gold Concordat; they were ceded part of Hammerfell (which they lost when the Redguard inevitably kicked them out after another costly conflict). They are allowed to police the worship of Talos (which they’re obviously rubbish at, since everyone and their mother still reveres him). And the Blades were disbanded (who were rubbish at their job, and are still around anyways). So, Titus Medes II managed to grab a breather by conceding essentially nothing. A breather which vastly favors the principally human Empire over the elfen Dominion, as faster birth rates and the absence of ruinous eugenics allows the human manpower reserves to reinforce considerably faster.

          Describing the Emperor as a puppet of the Dominion makes even less sense when one considers what one can discover in Thalmor files in Skyirm on who and what is considered an asset to the Dominion.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Then what I’m curious about is the motivation for overthrowing Titus Medes. The plot that the Dark Brotherhood are hired to execute. If Medes is the cunning opponent of the Thalmor, does that mean the Dark Brotherhood have been hired by Thalmor puppets or is it rather shortsighted imperials who have no patience for the Emperor, similar to how Rome lost patience for Fabian.

      • topazwolf says:

        Big issue is that without Skyrim, the empire lacks enough power to hit back. Skyrim lacks the power to beat the elsweyr alone and the empire can’t beat the elsweyr without Skyrim. In essence, this rebellion started to lose the empire any chance of winning the war. In fact, it is likely that by the end of the war (win or lose) the Empire has lost too much power to take on the elsweyr. I image in the next game the elves will be the unquestionable rulers of the entirety of Tamerial (except maybe Blackmarsh). This is incidentally why the thalmor in Skyrim are being so annoying to the local Nords. They want there small force to be expelled so that they can have reasonable cause to later crush Skyrim. Even if they don’t get expelled then they will have had their greatest enemies tire themselves out fight with each other.

        • stratigo says:

          Considering the Thalmor’s goals really are genocide, I can’t imagine the devs letting them win for anything more then a single game in which you thwart their genocide attempts.

          • I’m not up on Elder Scrolls Online, but from what I saw, I’m guessing they’re chucking the whole political setup in favor of “everyone look out, there’s a bunch of hellgates spitting out chains everywhere” threat that will “unite” the factions for the time being.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, please, as I’ve not played the MMO and I don’t know if they’ve announced how the lore will/won’t change for the single-player games (if they continue making them).

            • topazwolf says:

              The Elder Scrolls Online takes place in 2E 583. This is hundreds of years before Morrowind takes place. The lore will deepen, but not change for future games. The thalmor are, so to speak, simply reforming the band in Skyrim.

          • topazwolf says:

            I agree. Might even be a good plot. Imagine, the world is being crushed under the iron fist of the Thalmor, and you are the last best hope for all men and mer. Hopefully it will take place in one of the fun parts of Tamriel, like Blackmarsh.

      • Artur CalDazar says:

        I would be happy to see something more showing that they ever even could.
        I mean think about it from a Nord perspective, a bunch of foreign troops and local sell outs (because the empire literally bribed the Jarls with chests of gold to keep them in line) are in your nation telling you that your local customs laws and religion are all utterly invalid and you will be taken away and at the mercy of Thalmor if you resist. These outsiders talk down to you, intentionally use incorrect terminology when referring to your nobility and consider themselves the owners of your land, not you. Plus these troops all follow the orders of Thalmor agents, both directly when one is there and in general because the rules they enforce, were largely written by the Thalmor.

        From that perspective I wouldn’t want to see proof they weren’t going to fight back, I’d want to know they hadn’t already lost, that they were something more than outsiders enforcing the will of the Thalmor.

  34. JAmes says:

    Thats why I like the horse you get in dawnguard. Making the horse a summon you can dismiss fixes literally every problem you have with horses. Unfortunately that requires a expansion to get so yah still a pain.

  35. General Karthos says:

    I have never bothered with a horse, actually. I have CONSIDERED buying one before, but now I know not to do that, since I favor stealth over brute force. I don’t want to blow 1000 gold on something that will act as a security device for the other side.

  36. Gilfareth says:

    I love how the Greybeard in the ending credits appears to be bouncing to the music as he stands over Catbert’s frozen, lifeless corpse.

  37. Actually Shamus, Elder Scrolls VI will come out late October 2015 [1], which means Josh may just be able to finish this season of SW by then. *grin*

    [1] It is a guestimation, considering Skyrim was released in November 2011 it’s about time for a sequel, and Nov/dec 2015 is gonna be a tad busy, there is at least a Star Wars movie then, and possibly a game as well, and who knows what other yearly franchise stuff, so a October (or mid/late fall) makes more marketing sense, it is unlikely ES VI will be this year, if they do it it this year it will possibly lack too much polish, then again the Legendary Edition was released summer 2013 so this summer that will be one year ago, and Bethesda releasing a game a tad too early seems to be a habit so who knows what they’ll do, we’ll see if my prediction holds I guess.

    And why the significance of the Legendary Edition? It means that the Skyrim project team closed the book on Skyrim and can focus 100% on another project, and as far as I know the Fallout 4 project team has been at work for some time now, which can only mean the Skyrim team becomes the ES VI team. (unless there is a new franchise).

  38. I forgot to say that at times it is fun to see Josh just horsing around!

    (can’t believe nobody said that so far)

    But like with all good things, they are best in small doses for maximum effect.

  39. Will says:

    FOX used LYDIA SHIELD!

    It was super effective!

  40. Reading that header about Elder Scrolls VI now that its the actual year 2017 hurts…

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