Skyrim EP9: #Deserved

By Shamus Posted Sunday Feb 23, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 181 comments

Link (YouTube)

Slight Spoiler: The Greybeards are a wise order of quasi-religious monks and masters of The Voice, but they’re really sensitive about people taking their knicknacks.

We talk about their voice work in this episode. I actually brought this up way back in 2011, when Bethesda released the Sound of Skyrim promotional video. At the time I said…

Check out the side-by-side of Christopher Plummer at 6:32. That guy is delivering his lines masterfully. You can close your eyes and feel the weight of his performance. Then you look at his character on the right and the whole thing suddenly comes off as kind of wooden because his in-game character just doesn't seem to be into it.

I know it’s been part of the series for over a decade, but I really think they need to retire the camera-grab face-zoom system they use for conversation. That was the right way to go when dialog was text-based and the faces were used to show who you were talking to, but it clashes with the voice-everything approach they’re using today.

And here is Grill Skillz, which Rutskarn mentioned. For some reason.


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181 thoughts on “Skyrim EP9: #Deserved

  1. Humanoid says:

    Just had to put this up at 1am right before I was going to go to bed. Well, scratch that plan.

  2. anaphysik says:

    Dialogues are also probably the easiest place to readily show off your lovingly-crafted self-that-is-ever-elsewhere-completely-hidden-due-to-first-person-perspective.

    In other news: typing and computering with your dominant hand in a splint is hard.

  3. Nick Powell says:

    Would the Dovahkiin be thrusting during the dialogue or the Greybeards?

  4. Nyctef says:

    One of the spell effects I really miss from Morrowind/Oblivion is Charm. Just having that mechanic of certain people liking or disliking you added a lot to the game, which I miss in Skyrim (It makes Illusion a lot less fun for me, although clearing dungeons using only Rage is still awesome)

    I would have loved to have outright factions and armor disguises like in New Vegas as well, I thought that worked pretty well.

    Edit: Just wanted to say I’m absolutely loving the Skyrim series so far. It seems to be in that magical place for Spoiler Warning where the game is good but flawed, has lots of interesting things to talk about and lots of crazy shenanigans for Josh to get up to.

    1. Jakale says:

      That probably would have made the guy complaining about “those lazy Argonians” to me, a well armed Argonian, at least seem like he was insulting me, rather than apparently being fantastically vision impaired.

    2. burningdragoon says:

      In Oblivion, I liked to Charm bandits in dungeons and pay them off, so when the spell wore off they wouldn’t attack me.

    3. ET says:

      I actually miss the potion/spell which would damage the enemy’s health restoration.
      Would have made dealing with trolls easier, or at least feel less futile.
      I might be wrong though; In Skyrim, is there still a set of alchemy ingredients, which would let you make an appropriate poison for your weapons?

      1. Alex says:

        Yes, you can make potions and poisons in Skyrim. You can use three ingredients at a time and each has four possible effects, and your potion or poison has any effects that are pairs or triples. For example, an Imp Stool and Swamp Fungal Pod can be used to create a poison that paralyses and heals your target, if you just want to run away without killing them.

        1. ET says:

          That’s cool and all, but is there a poison which would stop the target healing?
          A quick search through the list of ingredients, would indicate that there are poisons to damage the target’s health, damage their health over time, damage maximum health, but not their health regeneration.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Well, any damage health over time effect would essentially counteract any regeneration, natural or magical.

    4. Thomas says:

      To be too negative, I’m pretty worried. I don’t think there’s much to talk about with Skyrim. It seems like it’s primarily a pure gameplay experience, there’s very little in terms of narrative or the like.

      So once they’ve covered the things they like or dislike in the gameplay (which will probably done by the end of this week), the rest of the game is going to have be them creating filler. And I imagine we’ve got at least 20 hours to go right?

      I do like what seems to be a conscious effort to mix things up though and to pace the discussions with some entertainment inbetween

  5. sofawall says:

    Josh, if you pulse the tier 1 destruction spells on and off, you can deal similar damage while using about half as much magicka.

  6. Amnestic says:

    I tracked down an interview with Todd Howard (Game Director on Skyrim) in which he explains the team’s reasoning for the removal of Spellcrafting from Skyrim. Basic summary is that he/they felt that Spellcrafting turned magic into something more spreadsheet-y rather than something whimsical and, for lack of a better term, magical.

    I’m not sure I agree with him on that, nor do I think the end result of Skyrim was satisfying. Is it because magic is comparatively underpowered? I don’t think so (though that’s a part of it), I think it’s because as a base there just aren’t that many spells and that most of them are same-effect-different-level. There’s nothing magical or special about the difference between Oakflesh and Ebonyflesh. There is something magical about being able to turn yourself invisible and summon a bunch of dudes at the same time, or paralyze someone with an inbuilt burn over time effect with a spell you made yourself.

    1. Viktor says:

      It’s not that magic is underpowered, it’s that it feels underpowered. Illusion and Conjuration are actually good(or at least decent), but Destruction, Restoration, and Alteration don’t seem to do anything major.

      If I play a destruction mage I can spend a bunch of perks, boost the skill as much as possible, get my magicka boosted by gear, and then I can defeat entire rooms full of enemies. One small sliver of health at a time. Hitting them with an axe might end with me reloading a couple times, but at least I get to see them get hurt. Alteration is the same, it might provide(a poor replacement for) armor and some utility effects, but it never feels like investing in it is actually helping you.

      1. czhah says:

        Even destruction can be worth investing in, since it works well enough in the early game and perks that boost destruction spell damage also increase damage caused by elemental enchantments. Furthermore casting cost reducing equipment also reduces the charge cost of weapons that do elemental damage, allowing you max out damage without running out of charges in, like, 4 seconds. Restoration is kind of redundant with alchemy, though, and using alteration spells don’t even come close to competing with armor.

        1. Radio Silence says:

          Restoration actually has some amusingly abusive corner cases that can make it worth investing in. Necromage + Vampirism is all manner of hilarious since it affects anything that counts as a spell effect on yourself including some arbitrary perks and assorted other useful things, and with Ward Absorption and a decent starting magic pool you can flatly shut down a lot of inbound hatred up to and including hostile shouts which is handy when you’re contending with a phalanx composed entirely out of Draugr Overlords.

          There are other ways to defend in that regard, and better ways to ablate raw damage, but very little else I know of that can stop an oncoming full force Fus Ro Dah from rag-dolling the player.

        2. WJS says:

          Pointing out that magic stuff helps everyone, but weapon stuff doesn’t help mages kinda drives the point home, no? I mean, if the best you can say about leveling destruction is that it improves your enchanted weapon…

    2. Raygereio says:

      I actually agree somewhat with what Howard is saying in that interview in principle, but overall it smells like marketing nonsense, especially given how not unique the diffirent spells in Skyrim feel.
      I always had the suspicion that the addition of Shouts in Skyrim caused some problems for Bethseda when designing magic. Shouts are basically a second form of magic and, when it comes to the setting and story, more important then magic. Spellcrafting and other neat things like for example spellcombos would have allowed magic to overshadow Shouts in terms of utility & “coolfactor”.

      Is it because magic is comparatively underpowered?

      I feel that on normal difficulty and lower, magic isn’t really underpowered. But it feels weak compared to melee & ranged because between the damage boosts from perks, enchanting & smithing and how easy sneak attacks can be abused, those two allow you to become ridiculously overpowered without even trying.
      On higher difficulties I do agree that the lack of damage-boosting things for magic, makes it flatout underpowered in terms of damage (though you can still cheese things via spellcost reduction enchantments & the impact perk).

      1. acronix says:

        Something I never understood is why they didn’t implement shout-making instead. Shouts are comprised of three different words in the vanilla game, and there is no good reason why you can’t pick those words on their own, specially considering the first ‘level’ of each shout is just one word. It would make shouts even more awesome and let the players come with some crazy shaenigans, just like spellcrafting did. And then you could have spellcrafting too, if you wanted.

        1. Corpital says:

          While I like the armor/weaponsmithing (and mods for making shiny shiny gem equipement), I’d actually prefer a…shoutcrafting? Dictionary? Over spellcrafting, even though that was one of my favorite things to do in Morrowind.

          I want (Expletive) (Not here) (Immediate) for all these little bandits and other mooks that swarm my, nibbling at my feet. Speaking of my feet: The sheer lack of recipes for food with cheese is insulting.

      2. Amnestic says:

        This makes me wonder if it might not’ve been more interesting to remove “conventional” magic entirely from the player and have it all tied into shouts. Make it a quirk of being Dragonborn or something. You’d need a way to scale Shout damage/recharge speed (the Speech tree is a common one for modders. Especially if shouting also gives you Speech skill ups), along with an expansion on the number of shouts and perhaps more ways to acquire them.

        I dunno if I’d have dragons being as numerous as they are in the base game either, and that’s with a mod I installed to up their numbers. I’d rather they be few and truly terrifying rather than many and less threatening than a Giant camp. Would have to adjust how Shout words were unlocked if you dropped dragon numbers though. Maybe have one soul=one shout rather than one soul=one word?

        1. Noumenon says:

          You’d rather dragons be few and terrifying, so you installed a mod that ups their numbers?

    3. ET says:

      To me, I think what makes magic seem stupid, is that the graphical effects of all the magics…is largely independent from how much effect it has.
      (I might be wrong, but this is how I remember it.)
      For example, the early heal-over-time spell makes you glow while you slowly heal health.
      The insta-heal-X-points healing spell you can buy later has the exact same graphical effect, except it only lasts for a second, instead of needing to be held down.
      So, to know how much I’m actually healing, I need to look over to the health bar of my HUD.

      I think that’s really a failing of both the programmers and the artists.
      A small healing spell, ought to be easily visually distinguishable from a major healing spell: just have less, slower-moving pink dots or other particle effects, for the less powerful spell.
      Flame magic? Give the more powerful spell a bigger-looking fireball and effect particles.
      It doesn’t need to be all hand-drawn by the artists, either;
      Just get the artists to make the visuals for the individual particles, and then they walk over to the other office, and tell the programmers, how many particles per X damage.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      That’s interesting, because I always assumed that the reason spellcrafting was removed from Skyrim is due to the duel-casting mechanic. Since there are perks which allow for overcharging spells by casting them in both hands at the same time, they need to make sure a spell isn’t drawing from multiple schools so that they can check for the overcharge perk.

      Part of why being a mage in Oblivion was fun was due to custom spells, so it sucks that they removed some features.

      1. Amnestic says:

        I’d trade away dual-casting for spellcrafting in a second. There’s nothing mechanically interesting about using both hands to get an effect boost.

        If dual casting gave spells more interesting effects – like the Impact perk, except more varied and baked into the spells directly – then it might be worth it, but even then…

      2. Humanoid says:

        They should have implemented triple-casting by adding in your shout.

        Partly being serious in that there could be some genuinely useful spell/shout interactions that could be invented.

    5. Ygor says:

      The thing with spreadsheet magic: It makes sense to have it not whimsical when you have an entire college dedicated to the studies of the arcane. They must understand the mechanics behind spells if they want to teach them, no?

      1. WJS says:

        Can you get any more disrespectful of wizards than claiming that the rational study of magic shouldn’t even be a thing? Isn’t that their entire concept?

  7. Henson says:

    I really, really liked the climb up to High Hrothgar, especially since I hadn’t yet explored much of the world up this point. It felt like its own epic journey, a trek past old stone and increasingly snowy, harsh, wind-swept paths. I would stop every so often to enjoy the lovely view of the places I had been only hours before, then continue on the long journey. It really felt like it was building to something.

    I even liked getting to the greybeards. They’re cliche as shit, but after that buildup, I didn’t bother to question the details of their office. High Hrothgar was a place of real gravitas.

    And then Bethesda ruins it by making you go back there at least FOUR TIMES MORE. It was even worse for me, since I don’t use fast travel; climbing that mountain lost its mystery and just became a chore. I nearly quit after I defeated Alduin the World Eater for the first time, with the help of a frickin’ Elder Scroll – supposedly one of the most dangerous, powerful, and mysterious objects in Tamriel – , went down the mountain feeling like I accomplished something important, went to get Balgruuf’s help, and he told me to go right back up that mountain again. I WAS JUST THERE. Asshat.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Yeah, I actually found the climb kinda cool. It’s rather long but it’s a cool kind of long (and it’s not like lore and NPCs didn’t warn me). The views are nice, I especially liked spotting a few interesting places off in the distance. I’d even consider getting rid of the enemies along the way, I understand they’re there to make the road less monotonous, but at the same time I don’t think they’re really adding to the pacing or the anticipation of reaching the greybeards’ sanctuary. I don’t really like too many scripted events but I think the climb might have been a place to put something in, such as something happening off in the distance. On the other hand I can see how they couldn’t rely on the distance thing because the player could very well arrive here during night, bad weather or they could have their draw distance set too short…

      Also, once I reached the greybeards there I didn’t really get the payoff I was hoping for so there’s that.

    2. Jeff R. says:

      If you’re finding travel a chore, you should really reconsider the whole “not using fast travel” thing. I mean, that’s what it’s there for.

  8. Harry says:

    I would 100% and unhesitatingly prefer it if the Elder Scrolls games had less voice acting. Maybe VA for a few key lines, but that’s it.

    Because the cost of VA means that the level of interactivity the player actually has in dialogue is abysmal. Usually it’s just one option. If there’s more than one option, the others usually aren’t locked off – you just get to choose which order you have your stilted conversation in.

    I hate it and it’s terrible and it makes me mourn for Planescape Torment and Baldur’s Gate and, indeed, Morrowind. I enjoy Skyrim in some ways, but it is a game populated by unliving plastic dolls with strings you pull to get them to recite their lines.

    Are we *ever* going to go back to the days of AAA RPGs with extensive, non-VA dialogue? Or is such a radical notion going to be confined to indie games and Kickstarter projects from now on? Because if so, I think I’ll stick to indie games and Kickstarter projects…

    1. Amnestic says:

      It’s especially strange when you consider how much of the fully VA’d dialogue gets skipped through by players who can speed read the subtitles and get the idea anyway. I think SW actually mentioned this back in their Fallout 3 LP. There’s a few conversations in Skyrim you can’t skip through (the thing under the mage college and some of the Daedric Princes, as I recall) and it feels like it takes forever to get anywhere. Not helped by the nature of the characters seemingly necessitating long, plodding “oh I’m so smart and smug, I’ll take forever to speak” voices.

      I’m not sure how they’d do it with the more “realistic” graphics of today though. Have the characters voicelessly mouth the words? Have them stand stock still staring into your soul with cold glassy eyes? Either poses potential problems, though I’d probably prefer the latter to the former. Save the voice acting budget for the important lines.

      1. ET says:

        Well, they could always make the next game with some kind of non-realistic graphical style.
        Like, maybe some kind of painted, cell-shaded, or cartoony style?
        (Heck, with Skyrim’s nordic setting, I think they easily could have made the game with a pixel shader, which made the game look like an ink-sketch, or a wood carving.)
        Then they wouldn’t need to worry about expensive voice actors at all!
        Just have it with a simple open-close-open-close animation when somebody talks, or have a portrait of the talking person show up.
        And not an expensive-but-still-looks-bad hand-drawn portrait either.
        Just get the in-game 3D model for the person’s head, and position it for a picture of their bust.

      2. acronix says:

        I personally think having them stare at you while a big window shows you the text and dialogue choices is less realistically clashing than having them say the same 3 lines over and over again. In the first one the devs acknowledge that it is a game. In the second they pretend it’s a ‘real world’ except each character is a piece of set dressing and plastic skin.

    2. Humanoid says:

      It’ll probably keep on as it is until the AA+ games start using voice synthesis and have it filter up. The temptation to use big name stars to print on the marketing material will still have appeal though.

      1. aldowyn says:

        the thing is if you start using voice synthesis, you can still have real actors for the important roles, and those important roles will theoretically become better for it because a lot of them do a lot of other roles as well (side note: Mark Meer voiced all the Vorcha, some of the Volus, and probably some of the other aliens in the mass effect series)

        1. Amnestic says:

          Steven Blum and Nolan North, of course, voiced the rest.

        2. Tizzy says:

          Hmmm… Wont having actors make the voice synthesis sound that much more off?

  9. Neruz says:

    The big difference you can see from the side by side comparison is the use of motion; Christopher Plummer is moving around while he speaks, his head is bobbing up and down and he is waving his hands around for emphasis; compare to Angrier in the video he is just standing there, arms limp by his sides, swaying slightly in a perfectly neutral idle animation. People don’t do that, they don’t stand woodenly like statues while they speak; they move around and speak with their bodies as much as their mouths.

    I can’t help but feel a lot of the conversations in Skyrim would be far less wooden and stilted if the characters were just waving their hands around a bit.

    1. Humanoid says:

      Now I’m imagining Arngeir moving around like an overcaffeinated Human Revolution character, including the sassy hand-on-hip animation. Especially the hand-on-hip animation.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        I’ve always wanted to go to a Halloween party as a Bioware character and do one of their three canned animations.

  10. Tychoxi says:

    Ah! The “Boots of Blinding Speed”. The blindness was literal and I still used them a lot for traveling quickly. (And maybe when I was overencumbered too?)

    1. aldowyn says:

      you can actually get rid of the blindness and not the speed boost using some kind of… resist enchantment, or something. I forget.

      I just sold them, I hadn’t heard that, and eventually discovered you get fast enough getting ridiculous Athletics and acting like you have seven league boots. (Seriously, you can jump over buildings)

      1. ET says:

        OK, that’s just a gross exaggeration right there.
        The highest you can just without abusing the unlimited-stats-aclchemy (read: playing the game the way the devs probably imagined you doing it) is like…three meters.
        You can pretty well jump onto the roofs of most buildings if you position yourself right, but not jump straight over them! :P

        1. aldowyn says:

          I had an enchanted ring that gave me a jump enchantment, I think. Actually, two, but if I used both at the same time I hurt myself when I hit the ground :D

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            I put a jump enchantment on a pair of daedric boots. A 75-point, 1-second jump enchantment. These I called my Leaguestep Boots, and they remain my favorite item in an Elder Scrolls game, ever, no contest.

            The enchantment is extremely powerful, since it only needs to be active for one second- the minimum amount of time- since you simply jump the instant you cast it, making any duration a waste. Because you jump so far and so high, you get insane acrobatics experience doing this, and it stacks up very quickly if you use them as a primary mode of travel, as I did (and do!). In no time at all, my Acrobatics reached 100. This, amplified by my Leaping Pants (Constant Effect 4-point Jump enchantment) and Marara’s Ring (Constant Effect 10-point Fortify Acrobatics, among other things), and my (boosted) Strength of 145, means I am the hoppingest motherfucker on Vvardenfell. Yes, jumping around that far can really hurt, even with 100+ Acrobatics. I have a Ring of Recombinance for that (Constant Effect 4-point Restore Health and 2-point Restore Fatigue).

            The enchantment uses so little of the boots’ magicka reserves that, unless I am jumping a LOT, it will recover on its own before I can use it up. It has 400 total points of charge, and each Jump takes 10, meaning I get, of course, 40 jumps before it’s drained. Considering I can get from the dock at Khuul to the dock at Fort Frostmouth in 7 hops exactly, that’s a pretty good bit of jumping around. In general, taking a silt strider or a boat somewhere, or hobnobbing around indoors, or just taking a snooze in a bed, is time enough for it to recover pretty significantly; I don’t think I’ve ever used a soul gem to recharge them.

            Coupled with my Bead of the First Rule (Constant Effect Water Walking and 18-point Fortify Athletics), mobility is a distinct non-issue. You know, they say the Nerevarine took a trip to Akavir after 3E 427. I think I know just how they got there…

        2. aldowyn says:

          I had an enchanted ring that gave me a jump enchantment, I think. Actually, two, but if I used both at the same time I hurt myself when I hit the ground :D

          Morrowind had much more interesting artifacts, IMO, largely as a result of the expanded spell list Rutskarn mentioned (since enchantments are just spell effects on equipment)

          1. ET says:

            Yeah, I really liked the huge list of spells in Morrowind, since it really made the game feel like it had huge possibilities, every time you picked up a new item.
            That game’s magic system is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen in a game, even with all the glitches and exploitability.
            I say that, because even though the player can exploit the crap out of that system, those behaviors are things which just need numbers tweaking/balancing.

            Like, there would have been nothing inherently wrong with having Levitation or Slowfall in Skyrim;
            They just need to make sure that the speed and duration numbers are balanced, so that the player doesn’t use them to cheese the game.
            Skyrim’s limited systems to me just really feels…like a steel table in a doctor’s operating room?
            Cold, mechanical, and sterile. :S

            1. Sleeping Dragon says:

              There is also nothing inherently wrong with “cheesing” the game. The fact that you could abuse the hell out of the spellcrafting/enchanting system in Morrowind didn’t make the game any less fun just because you didn’t play it exactly the way devs intended (in fact I would argue it made it more entertaining). If the players want to they can impose their own limitations, and in open world games they often do (such as no fast travel or not using certain items).

      2. McNutcase says:

        Go Breton, and your innate 50% Resist Magicka takes the edge off the blinding part. Or, make a ring with a 100-point Resist Magicka for 1 second (pretty cheap as enchants go) and put the boots on while it’s firing. Or just use Night-Eye, since both it and the boots are using the same effect: Mess With Gamma. Which leads to the cheesy way to sidestep the blinding effect: go into the settings menu and crank up the gamma.

        And I never jumped OVER buildings. Although I DID use the weird pier-humping bug to get into the customs house without lockpicking and clean it out, every time…

        1. syal says:

          Never got Night Eye to work on the boots.

          However, the game never remembered to load the blindness effect when loading my saved games, so saving with the Boots and then loading the save meant I had perfect vision again.

  11. TMTVL says:

    The problem I have with the Greybeards is this: why aren’t there any women in High Hrothgar? Can’t women learn to shout (think about it: the Greybeards, Stormcloak, all men)?

    And the Dragonborn doesn’t count, because they have a special gift for shouting.

    1. Humanoid says:

      Does the game have any lady dragons?

      (Hmm, now I’m genuinely curious)

      1. Amnestic says:

        You don’t meet any in the game, but I’m unsure about the Elder Scrolls lore in general.

        1. Neruz says:

          The specifics of Dragon reproduction are mostly unknown due to all the Dragons being dead for a really long time.

          1. Michael says:

            I was always under the impression that the Dragons didn’t. They were all “created” at some point, obviously, but, that they were more like self-aware constructs rather than truly living beings. I can’t remember where that perception comes from, though.

            It would also explain why the survivors of the Dragon War didn’t turn around and repopulate.

            1. AyeGill says:

              I think it’s stated that the dragons were all created by Akatosh.

        2. Raygereio says:

          Dragons are genderless.
          That said: I don’t know if this has been changed in TES lore, but I do recall there being a male-female/destruction-creation duality of sorts going on with the dragons we see in Skyrim (masculine voices, feel the need to dominate and destroy everything and whatnot) on the one hand, and the Jills (feminine in tone, keep time running smoothly and fix things like Dragonbreaks) on the other hand.

    2. Just Passing Through says:

      Pretty sure you’d need a beard to be a member of the Greybeards.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Or be named Beard, just like the entry requirements for ZZ Top.

      2. hborrgg says:

        Oh, and just because they’re ladies they’re not allowed to have beards?

        1. Corpital says:

          Of course they are! Ever looked at the randomly generated Draugr? There are quite a few female Draugr with beards.

    3. ET says:

      Wait, hold on.
      I randomly stumbled into some kind of Stormcloak camp near Riverwood, and there was at least one woman, and possibly a near-even number of them.
      Do the Stormcloaks later in the game appear as only men?

      1. Humanoid says:

        I assumed it was in reference to the Stormcloaks who could shout. Which in hindsight is a pretty small subset.

        1. Moddington says:

          It was probably meant to refer to Ulfric Stormcloak, not the Stormcloaks in general.

  12. anaphysik says:

    The crotch-thrust shout is the complicated “Bau Chik Ah Wau Wah.”

    1. ET says:

      That’s the sexy crotch thrust shout, which for obvious reasons, needs to be more complicated.
      The boisterous crotch thrust shout is just “Yeh Boo Yah”. :P

  13. Aaron says:

    as some one who spent nearly a decade in fast food kitchens i found the grill skillz video horrifyingly amusing

    also the idea of taking a troll on in hand to hand combat just seems wrong, unless they are of the internet variety

    1. Humanoid says:

      As someone who’s never worked in such a kitchen, I was amused but also now fully confident I now have the skills to do the job if I ever wanted a new challenge in my career. It’s entertaining and informative in the way that the Greybeards were neither. Now if the Greybeards had delivered the tutorial in rap format…

      P.S. That troll was asking to be suplexed. Also, Metro 2033 health kits on full display there.

      1. bucaneer says:

        No matter what kind of job you may be applying for, always make sure you have “watched Grill Skillz video” listed in your CV. Employment guaranteed.

  14. Grudgeal says:

    Brian Blessed would make an incredible employee coordinator if they allowed him to make the speeches in his Vultan persona.

    1. Paul Spooner says:


  15. If it’s mentioned in this episode (I’m still in the middle of it) or before, I apologize for not noticing, but has anyone noted that the build Josh is going for has an actual name?

    Apparently, being a Khajiit that focuses on unarmed combat is called a “Punchcat.”

    The more you know… *STAR*

  16. Rodyle says:

    Sorry, but magic shitty? In my experience, as soon as you reach the talent which makes your spells stun enemies, the game becomes ridiculously easy.

    1. Humanoid says:

      About as ridiculously easy as the other paths, just about an order of magnitude more time consuming.

      1. Michael says:

        Enchanting your gear to provide a 100% cost reduction to destruction spells and then spamming the wall of fire/frost/lighting spells as direct damage worked pretty well… Of course, they consume magicka at a ludicrous rate, so you really need maxed out enchanting to make it viable.

      2. Rodyle says:

        Yeah, okay. That’s true. However, I felt much more underpowered as a sneaky bow user than as a mage, especially on lower levels.

        1. Michael says:

          Stealth Builds are weird in Skyrim… and also fragile, though that’s been true in every Elder Scrolls game I’ve played.

          Basically, if you’re doing things right, your light armor skill never advances because no one’s pounding on you, if you do things wrong, you’re splattered all over the walls and can’t learn from the experience.

          I think your outgoing DPS is supposed to be backed by alchemy (based on the old Assassin class skills), which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, because that’s horrifically fiddly and resource intensive. I can’t remember ever having poisons that would have really worked with the reverse pickpocketing gag. Enchanting or Smithing (especially Smithing) are much more viable ways to boost your DPS consistently.

          The other major thing is that Perks get spread a lot more thinly for stealth characters. For a front line fighter, you’ll need to split your perks between an attack skill and an armor skill (minimum). For a stealth character you need to buy points in Stealth, Archery, your booster skill, and probably lockpick, pickpocket, and (probably) Light Armor and One Handed (if you don’t want to reload when you’re detected.)

          You can put perks in things like Enchanting, Smithing, or Alchemy as a straight up combatant, but it’s not nearly as necessary.

          1. Destrustor says:

            My stealth build almost never used a bow.
            It made the character actually decent in open melee combat since, in the beginning, I’d always get detected easily while getting within the daggerstab distance.
            And then all you need to be a murder-god is some decent stealth-buffing gear, the backstab perk, and the dark brotherhood gloves. It doesn’t really matter how much damage your dagger deals or how high your one-handed skill is, a 30X multiplier to damage kills almost anything instantly.
            I stealth one-hit-killed draugr deathlords, dragon priests, giants, and even a dragon once.
            The only important skills for that character were stealth, light armor and one-handed. Everything else was basically a collection of hobbies.

            1. ET says:

              (I haven’t played the game much, so bear with me. :)
              Are you referring to the shrouded armor or ancient shrouded armor?
              According to the wiki, those only give a double damage, so I’m curious what gloves you’re referring to.

              1. Destrustor says:

                Any of them, really. The gloves give double damage, and the perk gives a 15X multiplier to one-handed sneak attacks. These bonuses stack and multiply each other. Normal damage X 15 X 2. It’s ridiculous.

                Edit: I meant the “assassin’s blade” perk. I derped, that’s what I get for not checking my facts…

            2. newdarkcloud says:

              My Sneak character had some bow skills, but primarily relied on Illusion magic and backstabs to get through.

              It was actually pretty easy too. Doubly so with the Assassin’s Blade perk and the Dark Brotherhood gloves. (That nets you a combined 30X Stealth Critical damage modifier that you mentioned.)

              When you add Invisibility and Silent Casting, it really makes life easy.

          2. Nonesuch says:

            Stealth Build exception (may or may not have been fixed). In preparing for the odd time that your magic sneaking power fails to work you climb up on the emperor’s ship, you get the magic scimitar. You stick it in your off-hand, a non-magical weapon in your primary hand, and shout elemental fury. And then you stun-lock dragons into oblivion.
            Less effort than magic.

            I used conjuration magic a lot with one of my stealth builds for the sake of being able to hold more loot. Bound bow/swords was really useful.

            1. Josh says:

              Wait, Windshear works as an offhand? I thought you had to wield it alone to be able to bash.

  17. krellen says:

    Given the setting and feel of Skyrim, might not the bias for melee have been intentional? Viking myth isn’t really strong on “magic”; even the “wise old man” Norse God is still a badass with one eye and a spear.

    1. Rodyle says:

      I would agree with you if this wasn’t such a hugely bad idea from a game-design perspective.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        It would also remove a lot of options from the character customization, especially since the PC does not have to be a Nord or a warrior far as their past is concerned, which is not a direction I want TES games to head.

    2. ET says:

      I think that if they wanted to make the game melee-focused, to fit with the setting, then they should have eliminated half of the proper magic spells, and brought back the ability from Morrowind, to enchant armor, weapons, and items with other spells.
      Like, for example, you currently have a club of +3 fire damage, but find two better maces in a shop to buy.
      1. +10 fire damage
      2. +4 fire damage, but also has an activated ability, to heal you for 50 HP over 10 seconds, twice per day.
      Now, obviously they’d have needed another button to use the activated ability for items, but between the “favourites” menu, and the extraneous button for walk/run and sprinting, I think they could have easily done it.

      (I mean for serious, what kind of friggin’ game has buttons for crouch/sneak, and toggling walk vs run, AND sprinting?
      Shoud have just had crouch, sprint, and normal movement, and used that walk/run button for something else. :S )

      1. aldowyn says:

        hmm, all the enchantments are passive or on hit, aren’t they? Pretty sure most of the spells have a corresponding enchantment, but I did like Morrowind’s integration of the two.

        1. ET says:

          In Skyrim, yes, all the enchantments are passive or on-hit.
          (As far as I’ve seen.)
          In Morrowind, you could have spells, where you click the “use item” hotkey, or whatever, and your (for example) Sword Of Purification heals you for 50 points, while also emitting a turn-undead effect.
          In fact, I think there was an artifact shield you could find, where its on-use effect was to heal you, and raise your armor for a minute, or something like that.

          1. Destrustor says:

            Nope. You still couldn’t have both a “cast on hit” and a “cast when activated” effect on the same item. It was all one or all the other. If I remember correctly, the enchanting interface had a slot for the soul gem, one for the item, a checkbox-like thingy for the activation conditions, and then the box for the enchantments. The activation options activated all the enchantments at once.
            I remember being very disappointed in some artifacts for the fact that their cool “when used” enchantments basically prevented them from having either “on hit” or passive ones. Chrysamere and the Lord’s Mail were notable in that regard.

    3. Zombie says:

      I feel like there are better (and more sutler) ways to make a bias toward melee (and to some extent ranged) weapons seem more natural. Like, making everyone who practices magic outside of a court setting (like the Jarl’s guy who asks you to get the dragonstone thing) or as a performer seem disliked by the populace, or deemed unnatural. Make magic a force that people dislike, or has people who might give you quests or loot look down upon, and maybe give you worse quests and loot, all while having them tell you “You get this shit quest to go find 100 bear asses because your a mage, and mages aren’t welcome ’round these parts. Prove your actually useful, and I might, might just let you go on a quest to find my great grandfathers axe of pwning +20″

      If you make magic shit to make people want to use swords, that looks like bad design. If you give story reasons why you might want to pick up that axe and shield, (mainly because it feels bad to use magic) it looks like you put time and effort into your world. However, this is Bethesda we’re talking about…..

  18. Will Riker says:

    While we’re discussing the ridiculousness of the jump spell in Morrowind, here’s the world record speedrun which utilizes this trick to immediately jump to the end of the game. The world record time is 3 minutes 41 seconds.

    1. ET says:

      I like how the main baddies voice clip is still playing, after he’s already dead, and the ending cutscene is playing with weirdy-mc-weird-lady. :P

  19. Michael says:

    Josh, you’re trying to pickpocket a level 100 character. And, when that fails you try to pickpocket the highest level character in the game… What did you expect would happen?

  20. imtoolazy says:

    Since my tweet question wasn’t asked, I’ll bring it up here:

    Which crafting ingredient do you think would be the least/most pleasant to eat? In terms of taste, texture, side effect, …

    1. ET says:

      You mean besides mammoth “cheese”? :P

      1. topazwolf says:

        And things like bear claws, pieces of wood, ashes, and other glowly things you find lying on the ground. I would personally never try to eat most of the alchemy ingredients.

        1. Duneyrr says:

          Yeah, even common things like Large Antlers, Hawk Beaks, Saber Cat Teeth, and Hagraven Feathers seem like they would be awful to try to eat.

        2. Mintskittle says:

          Have some giant’s toe and falmer ears garnished with hagraven feathers and a side of frost salts, and wash it down with some ectoplasm. The PC’s digestive system must resemble that of a Discworld dragon’s.

    2. Grudgeal says:

      Human heart.

      They’re just sinew and blood and muscle and you chow them down raw? Disgusting.

  21. Destrustor says:

    I got the feeling that the greybeards weren’t actually waiting all their lives for the dragonborn, they were just dudes who really wanted to use the voice and trained all their lives for it.
    So it didn’t seem particularly weird that they weren’t fawning all over the player: to them, you’re just some dude who’s naturally gifted at their little hobby and they just want to make sure you’re not going to make a mockery of their discipline by misusing it or being a total noob at it. Sure, they’ll help you if you ask, but you’re just mostly a distraction from their real life’s work.

    That’s the general feeling I got from the game, anyway. Unless some bit of lore I haven’t seen comes to contradict me.

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      I don’t know how often they get a student, but it seems like the last guy they (probably) taught used his thu’um to murder the king and plunge the country into civil war. So you would think, if anything, they’d be a little more diligent in their vetting process. On the other hand, they don’t seem very concerned about the rest of Skyrim. As long as some fool manages to sneak past that troll with supplies on a regular basis, they’re happy to sit on their mountain and do nothing. Speaking of which, I have a bone to pick with Klimmek. Dude couldn’t mention the troll when asking a favor?

      1. aldowyn says:

        I’m pretty sure there’s a mention of some trolls somewhere, but yeah I don’t think that dude in particular mentions it.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Not that I’m aware of.

          All the townspeople talk about is “a couple of wolves.”

          Fuck off, useless townspeople. I’ll feed you to Mumbles for your blatant lies.

          1. anaphysik says:

            I knew about the conga death line going in to New Vegas, obviously, but one part of Goodsprings that I absolutely hate is the townfolk talking about generic ‘dangerous beasts’ being to the north, instead /properly/ warning you of ’10-foot leathery hellspawn, scorpions the size of trucks, and GODDAMN CAZADORES.’ I almost imagine some of them looking at a gecko and a deathclaw side-by-side an not being able to tell them apart. Then again, uncorrected myopia would be rampant in most post-apocalypses, so…

            1. Hitchmeister says:

              I’ve thought about it since I posted earlier. I think Klimmek gives you about 400 gold for making his delivery for him. He should mention that you should be careful after the fifth tablet (or whichever one it is) because a troll has moved in up there. He’s managed to sneak past it (I think the player can if you know it’s there and sneak around), but he’d appreciate it if you think you’re capable of killing it. This would encourage the player to pay attention to the tablets and the bit of lore they provide. Then if you kill the troll when you get back to him he’ll pay 300 gold for the delivery, with a 100 gold bonus if you killed the troll for him. This warns you about the troll, points out an option to a hard fight, gets you to pay attention to the tablets and gives you a nice little option on the quest.

              1. anaphysik says:

                That is a very clever fix!

            2. Gruhunchously says:

              It’s funny how the Powder Gangers give you a much more accurate description of what you’ll find if you wander North.

              “There’s Deathclaws all over Quarry Junction. Do go up there unless you want a bloody, painful death.”

      2. acronix says:

        I like to think he was chased by a troll and then he killed it the last time he was delivering the supplies. That’s why he doesn’t want to go up anymore. It is also why he doesn’t mention about the troll: he thought he killed it.

        Or maybe he’s a stealth psyco.

  22. Cyndane says:

    See, I felt like the natural point to start doing sidequesty stuff was after meeting the Greybeards. I mean, I looked at the map the first time I played and saw that High Hrothgar was just around the corner on the map (relatively speaking, of course). I did some side quests along the way (skipping the ones that I thought sounded kinda dumb) and got killed by that troll repeatedly. Not cool.

    Whereas, after clearing High Hrothgar’s part of the main quest, you have to cross what feels like the entire world to get to the next part of the main quest, going through many towns to get there, crossing much countryside. This, IMO, is when it feels like the game wants you to go explore and do sidequests and perhaps join a faction with even more murderous, stupid quests to do.

    If they had placed High Hrothgar further away from where we are, I probably would have been high enough level to take out that troll the first time I was there because there is pretty much a distance-to-experience ratio the way I play the game, not wanting to stick around in one area too long.

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      Even if you’re fairly low level, but decent with a bow and sneak, you can hide and get 3 or 4 sneak attack criticals off at range to kill the troll. Trolls aren’t very bright. Now maybe you have to reload a few times before you pull it off, so it’s pretty brutal if you’re playing hardcore. But (I feel) you have to be a bit of a masochist to play any Bethesda game hardcore given the the bugs and bullshit inherent in any of their games.

  23. hborrgg says:

    I think trolls actually are weak against fire so it might be that Josh wasn’t being quite as dumb as he seemed to be.

    1. acronix says:

      Trolls have regeneration that -I think- is offset by the burning dot. You can achieve something similar by using Lingering Damage poisons.

      1. From a classic tabletop point of view, that seems like a mistake to me. Trolls are usually equipped with regeneration, but fire (and if available, acid) were not only their weaknesses, they STOPPED the regeneration from happening.

        That would’ve made magic just a tad more unique/effective.

        1. aldowyn says:

          I think it does, actually. Let me check. Trolls regen fast, and Flames’ DOT isn’t very significant. From UESP: ‘Their greatest vulnerability is to fire, which not only damages them, but also impairs their capacity to self-heal’

          1. Except all I can find are references to it being “less effective.” Are there any numbers on that? I would’ve thought the more traditional “can’t heal from being burned” would’ve been better.

            There was also an opportunity missed for “trolling” this episode. From the wiki (emphasis mine):

            “Trolls can open doors and follow their prey into buildings, such as High Hrothgar.”

          2. Humanoid says:

            I started a new magic character last night and was reasonably pleased with my Flames at level two being able to take out a couple of Thalmor guys with only modest kiting. Stumbled across one of those randomish battles between Stormcloaks and Thalmor on the road to Riverwood after I had decided to split after exiting tutorial cave and taking the alternate road down to town.

            Nothing was really different besides that though. Hadvar arrived in town from the other gate the precise moment I did, not sure if that’s scripted but I assume it is. And after all this time I only now know that the sawmill is actually functional, huh.

            I now realise while I typed that, that I don’t have a guardian stone blessing active as a result, and I’m now all the way over in Whiterun, d’oh. On the other hand, it does mean I have three sets of Elven armour to pawn. Erm, I’ve totally drifted off subject.

    2. PlasmaPony says:

      They are indeed. It’s still a bullshit fight to put in so early. It’s either go out and avoid progressing your basic shouts to level up, or be forced to use a certain combat style that you might not want to do. My current run I am playing him as a Paladin type. Heavy armor, shield, one handed weapons, restoration magic. Always obeys the laws and helps a citizen in need. I am trying to stick with the Paladin archetype as hard as I can, which means I don’t want to walk around throwing fire and such, or poisoning my weapons. It doesn’t fit who the character is. Yet here I am in a scenario where if I play by character I get absolutely spanked. I don’t mind a game putting hard enemies on the map to aim for later, but they should not be placed down on an early quest like this one, especially when the game is very obviously pointing you that way. No pun intended, but it’s basically the game trolling you. It puts the next big quest within a pretty short distance of you, flashes a big neon GO HERE NOW sign over it, and then laughs at you for trying.

      1. ET says:

        Yeah, the game seems like it was maybe trying to force you to go level up some more, so you can slay dragons.
        The problem is, that the troll just murders you in the normal way, and you get the death animation and reload your last save.
        What they should have done, was make that troll special, so that he only “mortally wounds” you, and then an NPC shows up to heal you, and suggests you go to the nearby combat arena to improve your ability.
        Or something.
        Anything really, besides just killing the player with the normal mechanics which, and showing them the death/failure animations. :S

        1. acronix says:

          Having the player be defeated by a troll and then get healed by an NPC would still be trolling. A better option is to just have Klimmek or one of the hunters that are dotted on the way up to tell you that there’s a troll on the way and have them them say that you might not be ready for it unless you are X level.

          Bethesda always had a thing for trolling their players, though. See Little Lamplight in Fallout 3.

          1. ET says:

            Now that I think about it more, both our options seem pretty cheesy and “gamey”.
            I mean, to me, an NPC who can mystically know the exact power level you need to defeat a troll seems kinda dumb.
            Maybe the troll could just knock you unconscious and drag you back to his cave to cook in a soup.
            Then you have to cut yourself free of the ropes, and escape!

            Well, either way, the game needs some way of telling the player that they screwed up, to encourage them to flee, without just killing them and getting them to reload a save file.
            It might be a problem harder to solve than I imagined initially. :S

            1. acronix says:

              The alternative is to infuriate the hell out of your players when they run into it.
              Just take out the NPC knowing the player’s level but keep the warning. Then the player can decide to go punch the troll, see he’s just as hard as the NPC said and flee or reload. That’s probably the most important thing, though: make it so that the player can flee.

              1. Humanoid says:

                Instead of coming up with a way to either bypass the troll or to telegraph its existence, it’d be better to go further back and contemplate why it has to be there in the first place. If it’s a level gate, then it’s just a symptom of a pacing problem with the game’s narrative, why not just delay that canned sequence of the Greybeards calling for you? Or a little further back, delay the first dragon encounter. You can have the troll still there for the players who sequence-break, the location of High Hrothgar is such that it’d be extremely rare to do so unintentionally.

                If it’s there as a challenge then some alternate approaches can be considered. Maybe it has a relatively predictable patrol route, or perhaps it retires to sleep during the night. It might be as simple as adding an alternate path (that Klimmek would tell you about) that he’s discovered after the troll took over the main route. Or maybe – and I somewhat hesitate to add this – set up a situation where it’d be in a position to be shouted off a precipice off the mountain.

                1. aldowyn says:

                  It’s not that hard to go around the canyon it hides in, if I recall. Seriously, the troll isn’t THAT hard to get past, one way or another. If nothing else, just run past and let the greybeards take came of him. (I’ve heard it hypothesized that that’s what you’re intended to do)

                  1. Humanoid says:

                    Yeah, I took a not-dissimilar route as Josh did, up to the point he decided that plinking away at the troll with arrows would be a good idea.

                    It doesn’t feel so much clever as it does exploitative, as ridiculous at that sounds. Maybe it’s just that everything is usually so signposted that climbing a rock feels like cheating (and to be fair, it probably sometimes is). Partly perhaps because it’s hard to imagine Klimmek having taken that path, though that’s engine limitation rather than necessarily being a character thing.

              2. Tizzy says:

                It’s worth pointing out that one of the reasons why that troll is so INFURIATING is that he sits on top of 7000 BLOODY STEPS. There is no graceful or easy way to turn back at this point. You’re so invested in the trek, you want to push on…

  24. rgove says:

    Am I the only one who initially thought that Josh was taking the piss by saying “Poof!” every time he used the word?

  25. James says:

    Ahh man the 7000 steps with Frostfall installed is an exercise in OMG IS IT COLD UP HERE JESUS.

    and when they do there LONG LONG BORING Talk about the dashing shout, you stood thinking get on with it im freezing to death here omg shut up please i don’t want to die ‘cus you morons wont shut up and there is NO Firewood or Deadwood nearby and i forgot to bring some OMG SHUT UP.

    1. ET says:

      That’s what you get for not taking Frostfall seriously!
      You should have known that it’s cold up in mountains, and packed some firewood for yourself! :P

      1. MadHiro says:

        The problem wasn’t in not taking Frostfall seriously.

        The problem was forgetting that the NPCs don’t take it seriously.

  26. Completely offtopic (unless you consider that Skyrim was programmed), but I brave the potential for Shamus’ wrath by linking to this:

    Remember some time ago when Shamus talked about coding style?
    Well, here Apple could have avoided a huge security blunder by using brackets.

    And to bring this back to Skyrim again, I would not be surprised if a few similar bugs exists in the Skyrim code as well.

    1. Humanoid says:

      The site is called Imperial Violence, that totally makes this on-topic. (Okay, so it isn’t, but it’s close enough, and is what I read it as initially)

      On the on-off-topic though, there’s every chance they’d just end up with two sets of brackets while copypastaing (and I see that the article points that out). But other than the “it looks weird” method of code review, I’ve got nothing.

      1. guy says:

        Braces would have made it easier to spot, and they’d be less likely to mis-copy the braces.

        1. Richard says:

          Or more precisely, it’s much less likely that this or another similar copypasta error while using an always-in-braces style would have still compiled.

          There’s a reason why most safety-critical software code styles require braces for everything.

          1. downhill says:

            Well, really critical software needs to be proven correct. Mostly used in nuclear power plants, clinics and airplanes, since it is a shitload of work to prove any kind of software is correct (as in.. no bugs outside of hardware failure)

  27. Shamus I agree that the voice actor and the character does not match, the devs seem to have nailed the quality of voice actors for the main characters, but the animation of the characters, damn, they really need to work on the improving the animator work. (or use better middleware).
    Why didn’t they use some of Christopher Plummer’s body language for the animation?

    1. Humanoid says:

      Christopher Plummer in a mo-cap suit? They’d probably end up Thiafing this up and replacing him if they tried to take that approach.

      1. aldowyn says:

        or you could use tech similar to how the Kinect tracks body parts. Like those demos that show you where the Kinect thinks you are? That’s plenty precise enough for what we’re discussing.

        1. Wouldn’t have to be that complex even, rotoscoping if given the time to do it would look awesome in the hands of an animator. Heck, just eyeballing it using reference footage would probably be enough in this case.
          I suspect that the animator that did that character did not have any reference footage, or for some reason did not use it (time crunch/deadlines?).

  28. Duneyrr says:

    I love that every time Josh opens the spell/shout list, his mouse immediately moves to the upper left so he can select the category. SkyUI muscle memory :D

  29. newdarkcloud says:

    I agree with both Josh and Mumbles. Josh is right in the pure damaging spells become outright useless late in the game.

    However, a lot of the other shouts are really helpful. For example, Unrelenting Force is still a great shout in the late game in a wide variety of situations, for either granting a brief reprieve or throwing someone of a cliff. And, as Mumbles mentioned, Aura Whisper is a great shout for a Thief.

  30. newdarkcloud says:

    I love how they use the line of “We don’t know if you’re the only Dragonborn of the age.” to explain the canon.

    Since the canon is that every guild quest was finished, but all by different people. They can make them all Dragonborn if need be thanks to that one line.

  31. sdfq says:

    YES! The scrolls of Icarean flight are the perfect example of what the elder scrolls as a series has left behind: batshit insane enchantments.

    (for the uninitiated: the scrolls of icarean flight boosted Acrobatics (governing jump height/distance by 1000 points. You could traverse about 1/2 or 1/3 of the entire game world in a single jump.

    And then die on impact (which is how you gain them in the first place). Although there are workarounds, like slowfall or levitate.

    1. aldowyn says:

      Or just using one of the other ones you got before you hit the ground, since athletics boosts your max fall height I’m pretty sure. The problem is, you get 3. (also: Icarian flight)

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Acrobatics does; I assume you just misspoke. Presumably, somehow surviving a jump from one of those scrolls (perhaps with extreme fortify health effects) would grant you insance acrobatics experience.

        For real, though, Jump is the greatest way of getting around Vvardenfell. Accept no substitute!

  32. Hal says:

    1. I do the main quest right away because my character doesn’t feel ready to explore the world until he has the full “Fus Ro Dah” shout. It kills me that you have to play for a few hours just to get that thing. It’s the most iconic part of the game!

    2. Some of those shouts are still great. I love the “Storm Call” shout, as it just rains lightning down all over the world. Also useful: Throw Voice (useful for stealthy characters to get in backstabs)and Slow Time (Matrix time, woo!)

    3. Lydia stayed behind to fight the Greybeards for you. If that’s not loyalty, I don’t know what is.

    1. Amnestic says:

      I wish Storm Call was more useful. The fact that it targets non-hostile creatures can seriously screw you over, meaning your options for using it are few and far between. I did enjoy popping it during the final stages of the main quest though. There are few things that made me feel more Dragonborn than bending the heavens to my will.

      1. Greg says:

        Running SkyRe with Frostfall (for the Amulet of Talos backpack) makes Storm Call awesome and nearly spammable, because you can get to 80% shout cooldown reduction, and one of the perks in SkyRe links your damage to your Speech Skill. It’s still not a one hit kill for most things, but late game it remains amazing for clearing out bandit camps or assaulting towns (if you’re so inclined).

        1. Humanoid says:

          Something for Josh to remember next time we visit Whiterun then.

      2. aldowyn says:

        speaking of that, there’s the ‘clear skies’ shout, which is just *cool* if not hugely useful.

      3. Hal says:

        Oh, I know Storm Call is dangerous. I was just working on one of the Civil War quests where you sneak into the fort and free some captives. We stepped outside to see a skirmish of about 10-15 soldiers going at it. “Storm Call!” Whoops. Everyone, friendly or not, was dead in about 10 seconds.

        Well, except for my companion, who was now very grumpy about the constant barrage of lightning. How she knew I was the source of it I’ll never know.

    2. Hitchmeister says:

      Nah, Lydia’s bluffing. She’s all, “Run Dovahkitty, I’ll hold them off.” Then as soon as Catbert’s out the door, she stops and says, “Okay he’s gone. C’mon, Beefy Bix, let’s make a babybeard.”

    3. Grudgeal says:

      Slow Time is one of my favourite Shouts: It helps in practically everything combat-related. My no-shout playthrough was greatly lessened by its loss.

      Part of me is still annoyed its syllables arent “ZA-WAR-DO!”, though.

  33. aldowyn says:

    I feel like some of the later trips to High Hrothgar aren’t nearly as bad as this initial one. There’s the parts where Arngeir is trying to teach you about the Way, and trying to prevent you from getting to Paarthurnax… Not *great* (although Paarthurnax himself is cool) but *better*.

    Also, I will vouch for Morrowind’s spell variety. Morrowind wasn’t afraid to be wacky sometimes.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Morrowind, wacky? No sir, these are our serious mushroom towers, and our formal crabtown, and our dignified riding-fleas. Surely you were thinking of Hammerfell.

  34. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive noticed something interesting about magic in computer games:In most of them,its the buffs/debuffs that are the strongest thing in the game,while actual damage dealing spells dont scale well over time.For example,the various stun effects of spells in skyrim are the real deal for destruction magic,and not the spell damage you get.

    1. It’s doubly odd given that previous games (in this series and others) have allowed pretty overpowered magic systems. Not to mention the game itself seems to portray organized groups attempting to use magic as the equivalent of a bunch of musicians trying to compose new works using atomic bombs for percussion.

      I really miss stuff like in the old “Pool of Radiance” game that let you bounce lightning bolt spells off of walls.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Bouncing lightning with Bethesda physics would be cataclysmic.

    2. stupiddice says:

      It’s because everyone runs on a binary alive/dead system. An opponent with one hit point hits just as hard as an opponent with a hundred hitpoints, so unless your spell can kill him in one hit, a spell is not going to stop him from hitting you in the face. Meanwhile, a debuff can neuter an opponent immediately and a buff can give you a huge advantage over your opponent. Both allow you to finish off your foe at your leisure.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But thats precisely the problem.When spells progress in a good way,a low level buff/debuff wont help you much against a high level opponent,because they would either be very resistant to your low level magic,or would just easily counter your buff.Meanwhile,a high level direct damage spell would deal a huge impact,and quickly kill even a high level opponent.

        The easiest way to counter this problem is to tie buffs/debuffs to hitpoints as well.So a low level slow would only work on opponents that have,say 50 hitpoints,while a high level one would work on those with over 1000,or maybe even on a group that has less that 1000 hitpoints in total.

        Yet very few computer games do this kind of thing,so playing a mage focused on manipulation of enemies and allies is almost always preferable.

        1. aldowyn says:

          Interestingly, D&D does that somewhat indirectly. Many debuffs’ effects are tied to the target’s number of hit dice.

  35. Tizzy says:

    About these knicknacks, precisely… You’d think that if the Dragonborn is invited to High Whatever, the beardies could let him/her pick up AT LEAST a few flowers and random cheap items without this being theft. This has always bugges me…

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Yeah, that and all this pacifist “Way of the Voice” crap? Out the window once Brother Borri sees you pick a flower uninvited. No sir, those deathbells are the only thing keeping them sane, and picking one to smell or weave into your hair is more than enough to drive the contemplative monks into an unstoppable furor of dragon-shouts and fisticuffs.

    2. Goggalor says:

      I always end up playing an accidental kleptomaniac in Elder Scrolls games. They make stuff way too easy to steal.

      It doesn’t help that they bound “get up from the table” and “pocket the silverware” to the same button (on the Xbox anyway) and made it context dependent on where the player is looking.

  36. Tizzy says:

    Also, the greybeards are supposed to be really badass, but it’s hard to buy. “Oh hey, you need to spend your life in seclusion to learn to shout? All I have to do is kill one of these underwhelming flying lizards…”

    1. Amnestic says:

      They do make it clear that you’re the exception in that regard. You’re called Dragonborn for a reason. Greybeards spend their lives practicing the Voice, and still fall way behind you almost immediately. You have a dragon soul inside you, but the Greybeards are all bog standard human.

      1. Tizzy says:

        I know that part. But, then, the game turns around and says: “Oh, you should really be awed by these guys”. And makes them OP as hell, too, as Josh demonstrates.

        If it takes them so long to learn a single shout, and if they spend their lives cut off from the world in meditation, how can they possibly kick Catbert and Lydia’s ass so thoroughly, without breaking a sweat?

        There is a ton of ways you could explain this satisfactorily. But the game doesn’t deign explain anything. Just take it as it is given to you.

  37. Veloxyll says:

    Josh’s deserved fate was beautiful.

    There’s really nothing else to say.

  38. Grudgeal says:

    One wonders why, if you get them hostile, the Greybeards try ineffectually shouting you to death with the same old shouts you use instead of just speaking your name out loud and killing you instantly like Arngeir warned of. They don’t strike me as trying to pull their punches anyway, what with trying to kill you and all.

  39. Daemian Lucifer says:

    About the dialogue,I didnt mind it here in skyrim,because unlike in previous bethesda games,it was much less pretentious.So a bit of skippable fluff here and there was tolerable.

  40. Artur CalDazar says:

    Josh had a better chance of winning that fight with the mountain than he did with the Greybeards. Those guys almost don’t need to be unkillable because you’re not going to win a straight up fight.

  41. Phantos says:

    I was playing Skyrim yesterday, and I was in one of the Draugr dungeons.

    I don’t know if it was a glitch or not, but one of the female draugr you see sometimes had a male head, beard and all.

    I hope there is a mod that just gives everyone a wicked beard. Including the dragons.

  42. Maekrix Waere says:

    Wow, I’m surprised apparently no-one else used the most crazy broken shout in Vanilla Skyrim. The Marked for Death shout was insanely powerful. It lasted 60 seconds and, at level 3, drained 3 health/second and damaged armor value by 75 points PER SECOND. Also, it only had a 40 second recharge, and the armor loss was permanent. Absolutely crazy good.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      I never understood if that affected creatures that weren’t actually wearing armor items, such as dragons, draugr, automatons, and basically anything that wasn’t a PC race wearing a tin suit.

      1. Maekrix Waere says:

        Oh, yeah, it absolutely did. It just flat lowers the Armor Rating of enemies.

  43. Goggalor says:

    When I played Skyrim, I followed the main quest line straight away, apart from a couple of detours to interesting looking landmarks. So I was far too low-level to handle the troll when I met it. At the time, I was still too new to the game to have a feel for how it all worked, so I just assumed that I was bad at Skyrim, instead of that I was too low-level or that this was a puzzle monster I had to circumvent.

    I find the game has very little feedback for your actions, both for melee and spell damage. I always felt like I was playing wearing gloves. I would take a swing with a mace and then have to stop to see if it had worked and if I had hit anything (answer: usually Lydia).

  44. Chris B. says:

    Off topic:
    Okay, so at one point Shamus made a statement that advertisements on Spoiler Warning wouldn’t work to financially benefit the cast. I feel I have to ask, since I’m certain I’m not the only one who’s gone through the archives more than once, how about DVDs? I’d totally appreciate being able to watch the show without dealing with my spotty internet connection.
    Not to mention being able to share it with offline friends or buy a DVD for a friend. Plus, with Youtube already causing at least one of your videos I came across no longer having sound, it’d be nice to know we can watch them again in a couple years without worrying about Youtube getting ridiculous..
    So how about it? :)

  45. I’m listening to the dialog from Spoiler Warning’s Deus Ex season, and given Josh’s mentioning of it in the show, I’m kind of surprised we haven’t heard 20 minutes of Shamus going off on how hard it is to level up Speech in Skyrim.

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