Skyrim EP12: The Innkeeper is a Spy!

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 2, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 183 comments

Link (YouTube)

So yeah, the Greybeards are amazingly shallow. No young members. No indication of where new members come from. No history. No interactions with each other. No texts to study. No apparent philosophy, goals, or guiding principles. No chores to do. No goal. No interaction with the society below, other than the people bringing them food for no reason.

To a certain extent I understand why the characters are flat: Voice acting is ruinously expensive and time-consuming. But I don’t understand why the world needs to be this shallow. I’m not asking them to ram a bunch of exposition down our throats. They don’t even need to fill in the details. They just need to hint at the depth and let us extrapolate.

I propose some changes:

One of the useless empty halls of House Greybeard should be a library, where Greybeards hang out during the day. There are two middle-aged Nords living with them. One chops firewood. Another cooksIt’s amazing how many environmental problems you can fix by asking the designer to imagine living there for a day.. If you talk to them, they tell you they’re taking care of the Greyeards and hope to someday be accepted into the order.

If the player asks the Greybeards about politics, the Greybeards answer by explaining that they stay aloof. Long ago Greybeards made a practice of lending their power or knowledge to various leaders, but in the end it did more harm than good. They’re monks, not politicians, and getting involved in power struggles – even for altruistic reasons – dragged them away from their studies and put them in situations where they would misuse the voice.

There. Only a very slight increase in assets, but now there’s enough detail there that we can extrapolate the rest. It’s not perfect. It’s not even interesting yet. But at least it’s not [as] silly.

Really, Skyrim is such an odd entry in this series. It has much less depth and world-building than either of the two previous games. It’s straightforward, simple, and afraid to stray from well-worn cliches. This is a series that brought us the story about mortals using tools to make themselves gods in crazy mushroom land. I can’t help but wonder where that creativity and relish for world-building went. Was it just a couple of people? Did they leave? Was the world made safer and more pedestrian on purpose to make it “more mainstream”?

I’d love to know.



[1] It’s amazing how many environmental problems you can fix by asking the designer to imagine living there for a day.

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183 thoughts on “Skyrim EP12: The Innkeeper is a Spy!

  1. “One of the useless empty halls of House Greybeard should be a library”

    Is there even a single book in that fortress? I can’t even recall.

    Having books laying around that you can read is kind of a Elder Scrolls thing, why no Greybeard book? *scratches head*

    Edit: Yes I realize there are a few books there (seen near the end of the episode), but not about the Greybeards is there?

    1. Grenaid says:

      Perhaps they focus more on the spoken word, or oral tradition? That would fit with their theme of shouts.

      1. Well, do hey like gift their memories to their “descendants” then?
        Remember, one of they say that the others are so powerful they can not speak or you know the ground shakes.

        Imagine two of these orally relaying traditions, it would piss off every single soul in the nearby towns around the mountain for months on end. *laughs*

        1. ? says:

          I would assume they learn about Thu’um from Paarthurnax, who has no problem talking and is the best qualified for this sort of thing anyway.

        2. Amnestic says:

          If the Greybeards created new Greybeards by transferring their memories into new hosts (who retained their memories, essentially joining into one being in the younger body) that might’ve actually been interesting. Or at least, it’d be something. It’d be more than we have right now.

          1. rofltehcat says:

            Or they could’ve just made them ghosts.

            “Yeah, one day some guy told us we were not born as old wise men and we didn’t write all the stuff down, so this was basically the only way…”

            Would also be easier on the guy who has to carry all their stuff up that mountain.

        3. illyrus says:

          Guess everyone knows when dinner time is there.

          Greybeard: “Pass the salt”

          *30 miles away books fall off shelves*

          1. Someone came up to the temple and offered to teach them sign language.

            Unfortunately, one of the Graybeards slapped his forehead and said, “Of course, sign language!”

            They never found the sign instructor’s body. They can only point in the general direction of where it flew.

      2. Disc says:

        It’d make some sense for them to at least keep some track of history to satiate outside demand for knowledge. You’d imagine something like the art of Shouting raising enough interest out there among scholars and people seeking power to put some significant pressure on the Greybeards over the centuries. With their implied pacifistic nature, I can’t imagine them just Shouting people seeking their knowledge off the mountain to preserve their secrets all this time.

        The “Way of the Voice” should at the very least have some basic tenets written down for general scholastic purposes. As it stands it’s not much to grasp on, other than that it advocates peace and noninterference.

        1. Thomas says:

          Peace, non-interference and devoting your life to acquiring incredibly destructive superpowers

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            If their philosophy is non-interference with the world, part of me even wonders what the point of learning the Voice even is. By their code, learning the Voice condemns you to a life of near-solitude.

            I’m not pressing that as a plot hole, because monks do shit like that all the time. But it’s food for thought.

            1. syal says:

              Ha, “condemns”. More like “is a good excuse” for a life of near-solitude.

              1. I thought they were near Whiterun?

                1. syal says:

                  Well, you still want to be able to go shopping.

                  Or have someone bring you food.

                2. Tizzy says:

                  I got it. :-)

      3. A Theme of Shouts
        Josh R.R. Veil

        Spoilers: Everyone who can be killed, dies.

      4. Michael says:

        Except there is a written dragon language… it is a little weird, come to think of it, that there aren’t tons of books in draconic scattered around the place.

        1. IFS says:

          Maybe because dragons are a bit big to be writing books? I suppose the word walls are effectively their works of literature. Now why people never adopted the dragon written language I don’t know, I suppose it doesn’t translate well to english.

          1. Michael says:

            If you have the strat guide, there’s a full translation guide, complete with a complete alphabet on page 645. There are 9 extra letters, and no C. Also, there’s no grammar guide, still… I get why the game uses the Roman alphabet for most things, but it is still a little odd.

  2. hborrgg says:

    Ok, so who here realized that if you skip the golden claw quest entirely and go straight to Whiterun then you find Delphine there, in Dragonsreach, wearing her spy clothes, talking to the court wizard guy, and she’s like “Oh hey player character, nice to meet you.”?

    1. That is mess up. I’m sure they could have recycled a bunch of stuff, made an excuse for the two of you to be alone and then reuse a lot of the tavern dialog.

      This was either missed by QA or they released Skyrim too soon.

      1. Raygereio says:

        There’s nothing messed up about it. Unless I misunderstood hborrgg, he/she/it is refering to a scene with some dialogue between Farengar & Delphine that’s really easy to miss.
        Delphine’s interaction with the player in it consists entirely of her saying “Oh, so you’re the one who fetched the MacGuffin? Good job.”

        1. Dragmire says:

          Is it that easy to miss? I’ve seen it on every occasion since my line of thinking when playing the game was very simple. I followed the guy to Riverwood and the blacksmith told me to go to Whiterun to get reinforcements, so I did. The Jarl had me talk to the mage who told me to go to bleak falls barrow to get a stone. After completing the dungeon, I returned to Whiterun and got that dialogue bit. I thought it was something everyone had to see since it seemed like part of the main questline.

          1. Raygereio says:

            Yeah, I’d say it’s pretty easy to miss. That scene happens when after getting Farengar’s fetch quest, you leave and re-enter Dragonsreach before turning it in. If you’ve already did the Golden Claw quest, you will probably have picked up the Dragonstone already.
            The Riverwood Trader is likely to be the first or second store you visit and the Golden Claw quest is immediatly introduced when you first enter. I feel it’s a fairly natural response to go “Hey, let’s do this side quest thing before going to another town”.

            1. Starkos says:

              I find it interesting that I hear more about the golden claw quest than I do the dragonstone quest.

              1. acronix says:

                That’s because they are one and the same, mechanically speaking: you go to the same dungeon and face the exact same sequence of events. Unless you turn around and leave the dungeon as soon as you get the claw, before exploring it fully.

                1. Michael says:

                  Can you actually do that? You still need the claw to advance the main quest. I’m all for being able to screw yourself, but I’m a little surprised that the game would let you toss the claw and force you to steal it back if you wanted to advance.

                  1. acronix says:

                    Actually, you can’t. I just tested it. You can leave the ruins as soon as you have the claw, but the trader won’t acknowledge you have it (there’s no dialogue option) and, what’s more, the quest actually tells you to “uncover the secrets” or some such. It won’t continue until you have used it to open the gate and reached the dragon wall.

            2. Dragmire says:

              I suppose I could see it that way. Skyrim was my first Elder Scrolls game so I figured that following the main quest for a couple of hours would be a good way to immerse myself. I didn’t even enter the store with my first character(or any place in Riverwood except the blacksmiths place). I thought, at the time, getting the garrison was urgent…

              I wonder if people who were new to the series went with a similar thought process.

              1. aldowyn says:

                probably. It’s a little strange how much Skyrim just doesn’t care about you doing the main quest line

                1. Chauzuvoy says:

                  Open world games in general have a real problem with pacing. It’s like the quest writers don’t really understand what the overall game is going to work like, because there’s always at least one questline (usually the main quest, come to think of it) that presents itself as being really urgent, in spite of the fact that the best way to enjoy the game is to explore, which is sort of antithetical to rushing forward to accomplish some goal. It’s ludonarrative dissonance of the worst sort, where you’re receiving directly opposed instructions from the story, which says “you’ve got to get over here!” and everything else in the game, which says “hey! look over there! a cool thing!”

                  1. Axe Armor says:

                    I actually kind of like that in Black Flag, characters occasionally give you the directions to the next story mission and then say “Meet me there in two weeks”. The game doesn’t use it every time it would make sense, but it demonstrates that someone on the team was aware that this is a game where the player could do that mission now or come back in thirty hours after doing a million side quests. It’s kind of stupid that sandbox games aren’t doing this all the time.

                    1. aldowyn says:

                      AC’s story in general is really conducive to just ignoring plot urgency due to the meta-narrative.

                      It really does work as an excuse for all sorts of things…

              2. MrDrSirLord says:

                *I wonder if people who were new to the series went with a similar thought process*
                Skyrim was my second TES game next to Oblivion and my thought prosses was screw this guy, I’m going the other direction. This resulted in my first play through ending up with me becoming the champion of almost every single Dadric Prince, killing the Wolf queen twice, saving the wourld from vampires and having collected two eleder scrolls (I think one of them was from Dawngaurd because I got a third one from it later on), all before I even found river wood.
                But Im not new to the series so I gess I don’t count, but still that was my first playthrough

    1. Noumenon72 says:

      That was a risky click.

      Wish they had made it about half as long.

  3. Amnestic says:

    So you know what option I’d really like? To report Delphine to the Thalmor. I mean, I don’t really like the stuck up elves, but I like being toyed with by a stuck up old person who acts like she’s sooooooo clever even less. She doesn’t exactly do much to endear herself to you with the whole “stealing the horn” thing.

    Also there is one two-handed katana – the Ebony Blade.

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      In Oblivion there are Dai-Katanas which seem to be swords designed to make historical sword experts eyes twitch.

      1. Josh says:

        Grumble grumble.

        1. Hey, you were way off base saying you can’t dual-wield katanas. I refer you to the many documentary films about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, most notably the records concerning one “Leonardo.”

          Game, set, and match, I think.

          1. Nimas says:

            If you watched Dawn of the Commercials from Nostalgia Critic you would know that that is indeed the “Amazing true story” of the ninja turtles.

          2. Josh says:

            In fairness, the Katana was not exclusively used as a two handed weapon; it’s certainly light enough to be wielded effectively in one hand with adequate training. And Miyamoto Musashi – widely considered to be the greatest Japanese swordsman that ever lived – disliked wielding a single sword with two hands, and developed various dual-wield techniques, typically utilizing a katana with a wakizashi (shorter sword typically carried with katana in a daisho arrangement; also typically wielded two-handed for close-quarters fights) off-hand. But he also advocated dual-wielding katana as a training method for more traditional dual wield techniques.

            All this said, it was far from common to see a katana wielded in only one hand. But it’s perhaps even worse to see the typical Blades’ armament consisting of a katana in one hand and a shield in the other. Japan didn’t have those.

            Then again this is a fantasy universe where an order of scandanavian-ripoffs inherited these weapons from snake people, so I guess my complaints are a bit moot.

            But seriously, “dai-katana,” no.

            1. Dummkopf says:

              Japan had shields, ya dingus. They just stopped using them once the Samurai became a thing.

              1. The Rocketeer says:

                The Tsaesci didn’t, though. To quote Versidue-Shae, “If you don’t want to be hit, you just move out of the way.”

            2. Andrew_C says:

              I always thought that an in-joke about that horrible, terrible, awful game by John Romero that killed the studio that made Deus Ex and Thief? Although I have no idea why anyone would commemorate that abomination, so maybe it is just a weeabo thing.

              1. Mathias says:

                Really, all of the weapons in Skyrm are things that would make a swordsmith cry.

                One-handed swords, for example, usually weighed somewhere around 1.2 kilograms (around 2.5 pounds) at the most. This means that while the blades were relatively broad, they weren’t the massive paddles you see in Skyrim. They’re way too broad and way too thick to be even remotely serious. And don’t get me started on high-level weapons like Elven or Orcish weapons. Whatever dipshit swordsmith came up with designs like those should have been driven out of business in spite of superior materials.

                And how the hell is a longbow worse than a quasi-composite hunting bow? Bethesda, do you even know what a longbow is?

                1. Grudgeal says:

                  Also, steel weapons are heavier than iron weapons.


                  1. acronix says:

                    And all ingots, no matter the metal, weight the same.

                    I still think Bethesda used “weight” to measure how much physical space an object took, which solves most of the problems with the silly weights.
                    That is, until you remember that there’s “Carry Weight” potions, which make no sense with that explanation.

                    1. It’s magic. They warp the physical space you use to haul junk, turning you into a Person of Holding.

                    2. Ciennas says:

                      Or, they tried to balance the weapons using ‘weight’.

                      yeah, you can find the sword of ultimate ass-kick, forged by the ancient lost tribes of ass-kicktia, (Mysteriously vanished upon the completed forging of the ultimate asskicking sword- ignore the pile of corpses you retrieved it from.)

                      It will still take up a sizable chunk of your inventory space, to balance against you using it with no appreciable tradoffs.

                      Knowing about what actual weapons weigh does not apply here- ‘weight’ is a mildly lore friendly way of saying ‘Low level characters need not apply’.

                    3. syal says:

                      They should just call it ‘burden’.

                  2. hborrgg says:

                    According to skyrim, steel is made by mixing iron and corundum ingots if I remember.

              2. Thomas says:

                Ion Storm Dallas (featuring John Romero, of Daikatana and the Dominion RTS infamy) is not Ion Storm Austin (featuring Warren Spector and Harvey Smith, of Deus Ex fame). They were loosely linked, but separate studios.

            3. Wait, I’ve never heard of a Miyamoto turtle. Was he from Dimension X?

              1. Mathias says:

                The potion is, among the more self-aware elements of Skyrim’s population, commonly referred to as a “TARDIS Expansion.”

                1. Here’s a fun thought: If it truly expands space rather than increasing one’s strength, what must that look like? Is it kind of MC Escher-esque, or is it one of those things that “the mind creates something less wrong so it appears normal”?

            4. hborrgg says:

              To be fair, I suppose it isnt any worse than combining a bastard sword and shield in mount and blade.

            5. Bubble181 says:

              The Dai-Katana was the #1 strongest two-handed sword in Daggerfall. An Ebony Dai-Katana with the proper enchantments could last you the whole game.

      2. I’d say in a fantasy setting, all you can really gripe about is functionality. A lot of fantasy tropes are basically medieval to renaissance Europe with magic, dragons, and new gods thrown in. Already, that would most likely have affected architecture, heraldry, and even basic technology to the point where a “real” version of the time period would be vastly different. Just as an example, I would think few castles would have such poor defenses against flying creatures that breathe fire, not to mention magic. Burial traditions would be a lot different, I would think, if the dead actually could get back up and cause trouble. There’s no evidence our own corpses do this, yet we have the tradition of headstones. I would’ve figured cremation if not niches that had iron bars on them would’ve been the result in Skyrim.

        1. aldowyn says:

          you’d think cremation would have at least taken care of the dragon priests. Seems like that would be an appropriate way to take care of someone who worships dragons, and I *think* the norse had a tradition of burning rulers on pyres or something like that.

          1. Actually the Norse (in particular Vikings) burned the body of at least great men in a pyre that was a boat. This boat may be on the water (as seen in the second Thor movie), but was also done on land. Sometimes these boats where built just for this purpose. But they where also buried with the boats in huge mounds (most likely not burned then) and gold and weapons and all their horses that they needed on their journey. (not unlike the Pharaohs).

            Now these where the big celebrity guys, not sure about the common folks back then.

            Edit: THere we go, better explained than I ever could

            1. Now I want to hear a Viking version of the song “What Do The Simple Folk Do?” from Camelot.

              1. Unbeliever says:

                Dammit, now I’ve got an imaginary “angry dwarf” version of this song stuck in my head… Thanks a lot… :)

          2. Michael says:

            Except the Dragon Priests didn’t die. There’s a fair amount of material in Skyrim to suggest that they were specifically entombed in an effort to create a lich-like transformation, or to preserve them for when the dragons returned.

            1. Right, but as far as I know, all Dragon Priests have Draugr, but not all Draugr are in the tombs of Dragon Priests.

              1. Michael says:

                I kinda wonder if the Wendigo Draugr are the same as the Dragon Priest Draugr now, or if they’re actually a distinct thing with the same name.

      3. Kyte says:

        Remember the Daedric Dai-Katana from Morrowind?

    2. Destrustor says:

      And even then, according to that exact page you linked, the game still considers it a one-handed weapon for the purpose of perks and mechanics despite making you wield it with both hands.
      Or at least it did for a while before the official Skyrim patch.

      1. aldowyn says:

        Hmm. Has elder scrolls ever had different mechanics for wielding, say, a long sword with just one hand and no shield? I suppose it’d be able to block, but I don’t know if it has different damage stats or attack animations…

  4. hborrgg says:

    My memory might be hazy but doesn’t the game end up bringing up what you propose Shamus? The greybeards are pacifists, they hate the blades and even start to express misgivings that the Dragonborn is using his powers for violence. (Wait, now I remember. They’re basically students of Paarthuurrnaaxx (sp?) and are following his teachings of using meditation to gain self control over one’s natural aggression or something like that.)

    Also if you do the Season Unending quest Ulfric and General Tulius both agree to meet at High Hrothgar since the Greybeards are seen by both as neutral ground and a trusted/respected 3rd party.

    1. Leviathan says:

      Arngeir has lots of dialog about the history and philosophy of the Graybeards, but you have to ask him about it; there’s also some history is some books, but you have to look for the books. Basically, Nords used to have soldiers called Tongues who used shouts as a weapon. Then they lost a really big battle against the Dunmer, and Jurgen Windcaller (the guy whose horn you’re supposed to get) realized that everybody who wasn’t Dragonborn (i.e. everybody except the player, Tiber Septim/Talos, Miraak from the DLC, and a few other guys) should only use shouts for peaceful purposes. He founded the Graybeards as an order of meditant monks to train in shouting but not use it for anything important.

      The Graybeards don’t interact with the world because they think shouting is so powerful that only a few people should have access to it.

      1. bucaneer says:

        The backstory and philosophy of Greybeards is summarized in the tablets along the 7,000 steps, which are hardly hidden (but easy to deliberately ignore I suppose).

        1. SyrusRayne says:

          I noticed the shrines on my way up, the first few times. I didn’t realize you could read the plaques. In my defense, Skyrim was my second Elder Scrolls game. My first was Oblivion. Can you really blame me?

          (I fixed it; I played Morrowind.)

        2. Yeah the Shrines! Nice idea but that info should be feed some other way too.
          Even Josh managed to miss one of the shrines on the way up and this ain’t his first rodeo (up that mountain).

      2. Tizzy says:

        But see, that’s the problem with this whole setup: the Greybeards didn’t retire from the world so that they could use the Thuum for peaceful purposes: they do NOT use it at all, essentially. I have to ask: What purpose do they serve? As dragonborn, you don’t really need them, they’re a tutorial and a gatekeeper, not really a story element. They seem to attract a lot of spiritually-minded people, but what do they DO for them apart from existing? They won’t even receive visitors! At least, monks made wine and beer, liqueurs and cheeses…

        If those guys were the last living Tongues, formerly revered heroes now ashamed of their failures, now you’ve got something worth exploring story-wise, but you’d need a lot more contrite and humble dialogue from Arngeir. As they are, they’re just a bunch of self-important losers. I’d take Delphine’s detestable unwillingness to compromise over their dumb ill-formed peacenik attitude any day…

        1. MadHiro says:

          The fact that they also managed to teach one of the biggest and most violent jerks in the world, Ulfric Stormcloak, their super secret power that must only be used in peaceful ways underscores the utter pointlessness of their stated purposes. They are the exact obverse of what they claim to be.

        2. Wide And Nerdy says:

          They use the Shouts to commune with the Divines (I believe Akatosh specifically). Angier says as much.

  5. Josef says:

    You could save some money on voice acting by having the Greybeards take a Wov of Silence :)

    1. Leviathan says:

      Like with many things in Elder Scrolls games, they had a good idea but only finished three quarters of it. Of the four human Graybeards, only Arngeir will speak in English. He says that he’s the only one with enough control over his voice that just talking doesn’t mess up the world or cause earthquakes. His three friends speak very rarely, and only in the dragon language – for which they really only needed one voice actor, because they all sounded the same to me.

  6. Spammy says:

    All of the talk at the end with the Greybeards yelling at you was just making me think they were saying, “DOVAHKIN AND ARNGEIR AT HIGH HROTHGAR”

    1. Warrax says:

      I was so disappointed when they ran right past Temba Wide-Arm in Iverstead without even mentioning it.

  7. spades says:

    “Wow, I’m already a Jedi Master and I only did two quests.”-Josh

    Every Skyrim guild ever.

    1. aldowyn says:

      except you have to do a dozen plus radiant quests along the way.

      Actually I guess that’s just the thieves’ guild and a little bit with the companions.

  8. Thomas says:

    Hey Skyrim has a more involved story than I thought it had! I thought the main plot was ‘There are dragons who are just randomly appearing, you can gain powers by killing Dragons. This makes you the chosen one. Go kill X Dragons for us’

    So the idea that there’s actually something behind dragon appearances and stuff about them not dying properly unless a dragondude eats their souls is actually a pleasant surprise. Admittedly my standards were rock bottom, but still kudos!

  9. Just Passing Through says:

    Are you guys going to do Dragonborn? Neloth gets that semi improved level of detail and I’d like to see what the crew nitpicks thinks about him.

    1. Disc says:

      Josh has the DLC installed and enabled as evidenced by the cultist attack earlier on so there’s hope yet.

      1. Destrustor says:

        With any luck he’ll learn the most broken and hilarious spell in the game.
        Oh, Ash Shell, what would I ever do without you…

    2. The Rocketeer says:


      Why Neloth? Why not Baladas Demnevanni? Or Master Aryon? Or even Fast Eddie Theman? Why not Divayth Fyr?

      Why, of all the people to survive the Red Year and show up in Solstheim, did it have to be that worthless prick Neloth, the “master of Conjuration” with only middling skill in the school who doesn’t know any Conjuration spells?

      It’s just as well, I guess; it works as a great reminder of how much better the Redoran are than everyone else, what with the son of Councilor Morvayn running the place nowadays. Speaking of familiar names, I always wondered if the Llervu chap was related to Falura or Guls, or if “Velothi” is Aphia’s real last name. Or if Revyn and Geldis Sadri are related.

      1. syal says:

        Worse is that I killed him the last time I saw him, for trying to stop me doing crimes.

  10. alex says:

    Delphine knowing exactly where to go really reminded me of the quest in oblivion where the daedra attack bruma. Martin and the other soldiers gather in some random nearby field and as soon as he’s given his speech the gates start appearing about ten feet in front of them.

    1. Arven says:

      I like to think that Martin was using Camoran to assassinate his father and brothers so that he can be the emperor. And that Bruma fight was staged by him so the hapless prisoner can kill Camoran and fetch him the Amulet. After all, you need a conjurer to erect an Oblivion Gate and the only one with conjuring experience over there was Martin.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        But then he sacrificed himself to save Tamriel.

        1. Endominus says:

          No plan is perfect.

    2. Micamo says:

      I hate to defend Oblivion’s horrible main questline, but you get the information that they’re going to attack Bruma from some documents you steal from some cultist spies you track down. It’s plausible that Martin (being established as knowing something about daedric magic) would be able to figure out where the gate was going to be located and where to position the troops. Sure it’s a stupid handwave but it’s nowhere near as big of a handwave as this “Oh I figured out the pattern Alduin’s resurrecting the dragons in, but I’m not going to tell you how or what the pattern is even though that would be extremely useful information for anyone who’s trying to fight the dragons.”

      1. guy says:

        I’m pretty sure that the pattern is literally that he’s been flying cross-country in a straight line. That’s what the map looks like.

        1. PeteTimesSix says:

          Dragon burial map

          I mean, come on. Theres plenty of stuff in Skyrim to complain about without inventing a new problem while literally staring at (and stealing) the map that explains it away.

          A thing to note here is that you can use this map yourself to locate the other dragon burials, and if you happen to pass by at the right time you even get to see Alduin reviving the dragon located there.

          1. Shamus says:

            You know what? That’s an acceptable explanation. I totally missed the map. (I just assumed it was decoration.)

            I think my complaint now is that it’s not part of the conversation. Delfine just does a perfunctory info-dump, and if you have questions you have to scrounge around the environment rather than just ASK HER. In previous games, we could always ask lots of questions about the why and the how.

            * What makes you think this is the next location?
            * Do you really think the two of us should go there alone?
            * How many dragons have been raised so far?
            * Alright. Let’s get going.

            Heck, just seeing that the questions are addressed is helpful, even if you don’t actually listen to all the answers. It’s basically lampshading: Maybe the other characters are too dumb to notice bad ideas, but at least I can roleplay someone smart enough to notice them.

            But Skyrim seems to be terrified of offering the player too many dialog options. Which is really strange, considering its lineage.

            1. Henson says:

              As usual, I think we can blame this on consoles. Distance from a TV screen and all that.

              1. Tizzy says:

                As someone who’s been playing it on console, I agree: everything feels extremely clumsy, the writing is already tiny, and navigating through conversations with many options feels already akward. BUT: there are a few instances of characters with many such options (Arngeir springs to mind), so why not here as well?

            2. bucaneer says:

              Well there’s a dialog option “How did you figure this out?” at 5:30 in the video that Josh refused to pick. Here’s what Delphine says in response:

              “You should know. You got the map for me from Bleak Falls Barrow. The dragonstone was a map of ancient dragon burial sites. I’ve looked at which ones are now empty. The pattern is pretty clear. It seems to be spreading from the southeast, down in the Jeralls near Riften. The one at Kynesgrove is next if the pattern holds.”

              Also, I don’t think we’ve been playing the same TES games. Morrowind had wiki-dialog, Oblivion had similar topic lists. The very idea of asking NPCs questions was foreign before Skyrim – you could only pick a topic and hope that the NPC will say something you wanted to know about it. I can only think of two exceptions to this in Morrowind – conversations with Vivec and Dagoth Ur where you had a few actual questions to choose from. Everybody else would mostly just tell you to stay away form Solstheim or something.

              1. Shamus says:

                I stand corrected. I straight-up missed that. Which is bad, considering how few dialog choices we get.

                On the other hand, I really like Wiki dialog. I consider it superior to question-lists in every way. There’s almost no need for the game to impose any sort of characterization to my questions. Maybe I admire Vivic. Maybe I despise him. Maybe I’m just curious. Rather than impose all of these possible attitudes on every possible question, just strip away the extraneous stuff. If I’m asking question it’s because I want to know stuff, not because I’m trying to earn renegade or paragon points.

                1. Chauzuvoy says:

                  I feel like the de-characterized dialogue was sacrificed on the altar of genre convention at this point. It’s easy to blame consoles and the difficulty of making it work in a console UI, and that’s probably part of it, but more than that I think it’s that in the same way that iron sights and weapon switching have become staples of the FPS genre, that full sentence dialogue options with voiced responses are becoming staples of the RPG genre. It’s a shame because it really doesn’t work for every game. This style is awesome for character-focused RPGs where the appeal largely is interacting with these NPCs, but it’s really hard to convey world and setting information this way without being a long and obnoxious information dump.

              2. Bubble181 says:

                I feel like every other comment I make in these threads is “Daggerfall did it better” – but…Daggerfall did it better. Look upthe conversation screen – including a “copy this to my log” button, questions per topic, the possiblity to continue a line of questioning (not that it ever helped, but it sometimes gave funny responses) ….

      2. alex says:

        True although it would have been nice for them to handwave it themselves rather than rely on the player. I’d also completely missed the map Pete Six and guy noticed!
        In both cases though I think they could have made a decent quest of uncovering that information, rather than just handing the player a map marker.

  11. Jokerman says:

    I wonder if they were always called the greybeards, like even when they were young men…. before they had grey beards.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      “[They are] of what is called the old school”” a phrase generally meaning any school that seems never to have been young…”

  12. Tizzy says:

    I vote for the mainstream thing; that’s where the move towards inane world building comes from. Not that I was ever a big fan of the crazy, over-the-top lore of the previous games… But it’s too bad: they managed to make the world LOOK a lot more interesting than The snow blanket I expected. But why so shallow? And let’s not even go into the politics: everyone’s a bad guy, or at least thoroughly misguided, is a sentiment that we can easily have when looking at real world politics, but there is nothing deep about it, it’s not a brilliant observation, and it doesn’t make for a compelling story.

    1. Gordon says:

      Maybe it’s not groundbreaking in fiction, but at the very least it’s GOOD that the two sides have valid points and legitimate motivation. It’s a step up from Fallout 3, hell, it’s even a step up from New Vegas, where the legion was just too damn evil to be interesting. I liked House and NCR, though.

      1. Hydralysk says:

        I think the NCR is a good example of how to portray a flawed faction well compared to Skyrim’s factions. There were tons of quests where you got to see the NCR at it’s best and worst. You got to see it’s charity in Freeside, the dark side of it’s expansionist ideals from that farmer in the Ultra-Lux (Jed?), the problems immigration causes in Freeside, and it’s horrible screw-ups by going to Bitter Springs. It felt like a real faction made up of individuals with different beliefs, not all of them good.

        Meanwhile the Stormcloaks and Imperials rarely interact with the world or it’s people, and aren’t that well defined other than being mildly racist or kind of authoritarian. The vast majority of the story and quests don’t even concern them, and you could probably even forget there was a war going on most of the time if NPCs didn’t occasionally say “I think X has the right idea in this war”. I guess what I’m getting at is I never really SAW the factions doing anything that really gave them much characterization, instead the game relied on people telling me what they were all about during dialogue sequences.

        1. aldowyn says:

          That’s a good point. There’s no feeling of an ongoing war like there was in NV. You never get the feeling ‘oh, I’m in loyalist territory’ except when you’re in the cities and have legionaries or racist jerk citizens (Windhelm, I’m looking at you) all in your face (and that’s only in the two ‘capital’ cities)

          Certainly no where is there an ongoing conflict like there was in several different areas in NV. The Civil War questline and plot were both mishandled pretty badly (although the upcoming Thalmor embassy quest has some of the most interesting parts to the story)

          1. Ciennas says:

            Of course, the aftermath of that little field trip through the embassy had the most irritating outcome due to time constraints or they’d already sent the Voice Actors home or whatever.

            SPOILERS, of course.

            So, they have dossiers lying around about Ulfric, and how they tortured and subverted him, and about their direct plans at keeping the Empire and Stormcloaks at stalemate.

            This is huge. Either one of those documents leaving the embassy would be a huge disaster for the Thalmor- They’re both even written in the Ambassador’s hand! Giving those documents to the people they’re about would pretty much dissolve the coalition, and turn them against the Thalmor, and reunify Skyrim all in a shot.

            But no, you can’t hand these to anybody- Not to Tullius, or Delphine, or even Ulfric. All the people who could best use this information, your character keeps mum about it, for reasons only Shor knows.

            In character at least. I know the real reason- but then the player wouldn’t do the civil war questlines. I disagree that this is a bad thing, since negotiating a truce would be the most beneficial option for all the parties, and would be a choice the players could make for themselves.

            Oh, Bethesda. Taking it away limits you, and makes you vulnerable to these potshots.

            1. Akuma says:

              It's because she was right, the Dragonborn is a Thalmor plot! Haha, that’s right, I became the mythical dragonborn in order to trick you into sending me to the embassy so I could hide evidence of the Thalmor’s involvement in the war. Nehaha!

              Writing that just made me incredibly sad as I can actually imagine that being something Bethesda would put in.

            2. acronix says:

              It would have been nice if they added this is an option in the “Negotiate a truce” part of the mainquest that comes later on if you didn’t solve the Civil War yet. Even if it had no real effect, it would acknowledge that the dossier exists.

        2. Tizzy says:

          Indeed, I liked the NCR as a faction because it made perfect sense: yes, they were bringing stability and technical progress to a region that sorely needed it. Yes, they represented the hope that humans would reclaim most of their lost civilization (for better or for worse, given that this was what had brought them to this state in the first place).

          Did they do this out of pure selflessness? No. Were there special interests back in Cali that looked at Nevada like it was a tasty pie to be divided? You bet! Were the political institutions back home corrupt? Sure sounds like it.

      2. Tizzy says:

        @Gordon: my issue is not that the two sides had good points. That’s great. My issue is that ANY faction in the game (not just Stormcloacks and Empire) is eventually revealed to be a bunch of self-serving jerks and the fools who follow them. It seems like the goal of the game is to make reasonable people exclaim “a pox on both your houses” and all that.

        Again, I just found the negativity too easy and nowhere near as deep as they may think. It would have been fine if there were just a couple of unambiguously positive figures to contrast that and make the game feel more realistic. The closest I could come to is Tulius, but he is putting his weight behind such a clearly misguided police action that it’s hard to respect him. Ulfric is only in this for himself, Baalgruf is an indecisive fool who can get tricked by either side in ways that are embarrassingly easy, the Greybeards are clowns, the Forsworn are evil and nuts, and the Blades probably lost all of their most talented members to the war and Delphine is what’s left over, a paranoid, revenge-hungry loose canon who, in the end, doesn’t make sense at all and confuses dragons and Thalmor.

        The Thalmor, of course, are irredeemable Nazi elves, but that’s perfectly fine. There is a historical precedent (actualy Nazis), we only see the ideologically-committed enforcers, their SS if you want, and you can find out from their documents that they’re only too happy to torture and execute their own people when they are not as ideologically pure. They’re the only faction that made sense to me.

        1. Irregular says:

          Those are some pretty hefty mischaracterizations. Tullius is doing his job of making sure Skyrim doesn’t splinter off from the Empire. And how is it misguided to keep one of the biggest chunks of your country from simply breaking away and doing their own thing? Again, it’s his job. He doesn’t get to slack off and let an entire province go separatist on him. It’d also fatally weaken the Empire, which he serves faithfully.

          Meanwhile, Ulfric is an off kilter patriot who’s trying to protect what he considers to be an important part of Nord culture. Yes, he accidentally started this whole mess by fighting FOR Talos worship. But he’s doing what he thinks is right, and if it means killing the crap out of the High King, who idolized him? So be it. He’s not willfully malevolent, he’s just trying to pull a coup to ensure the wellbeing of his beloved Skyrim in the future. It’s not exactly a brilliant or even well-informed plan, but he’s fighting this war for ideological reasons. It’s not personal enrichment he’s after.

          And Balgruuf? Balgruuf has to keep Whiterun safe. He’s probably in a harder spot than most of the other Jarls, because Whiterun is in a strategic location and he has to put his city above everything else. If he firmly declares for Imperial or Stormcloak, Whiterun’s screwed. His position is important enough that they’d come knocking at his door the moment that he says anything about it. He’s pretty much in zugzwang, and that’s why he holds off on choosing sides. His people come first, fair or foul. Putting them in jeopardy is not his style. His dialogue pre-Battle of Whiterun even points that out.

          I do have to agree with the assessment of the Blades, Forsworn, and the Thalmor, but I’d like to point out the Greybeards aren’t even involved in the whole crap about the civil war. It’s not their problem, because they aren’t exactly a part of society. And that part about them training Ulfric in the past? Yeah, they regret it. They know they screwed up, and that’s why there’s nobody training with them anymore, save for the Dragonborn. And it’s probably why they place such an emphasis on using the Shouts responsibly. Having one of their students abuse his teachings to kill the High King was probably one of the worst things that had ever happened in their history.

          1. Tizzy says:

            Ulfric is in it for himself. Not to say that he doesn’t believe in the Nord way of life and Talos stuff, but mostly he sees this as a golden opportunity to become High King. He is devoured by ambition.

            Tullius is implementing a reactionary policy that is hurting the empire as much as Skyrim seceding would. It is made abundantly clear that the Thalmor are bound, by their very ideology, to be back at the empire’s doorstep, and anything that contributes to weakening the empire will have disastrous consequences in the future. And he is intelligent enough to realize that, too.

            Baalgruf’s neutrality is perfectly understandable, but ultimately deluded: things have gone too far for neutrality to remain tenable. Also, the way he gets hoodwinked by Tullius in the Empire side of the civil war questline is simply shameful.

            As for the Greybeard, they are clowns for reasons that were touched on before: they don’t make sense, they’re not interesting, they’re just tutorial dudes.

    2. aldowyn says:

      People that say Skyrim all looks the same seem like they’ve never played it. There’s at least half a dozen distinct terrain types in the game :/

      It really does look pretty, especially with mods.

      1. Lalaland says:

        I would argue that Skyrim only looks pretty with mods. The default textures (esp. the distance textures) look awful. AS the crew notes in the underground cave unless you also mod the lighting engine everything is desaturated to a ridiculous degree.

        Bethesda make nice mannequin engines which the community fits nice things to (i.e. better textures, models, lighting, systems, etc) but they have no claim to the end result.

  13. bucaneer says:

    Well at least your room in the tavern had a door. Not all of them provide such luxury.

  14. Regarding the lip-sync: If this is the same engine that runs Fallout, it’s a kind of automatic module that does the basic stuff for you based on the speech sound file and you can tweak it if you want in the game editor.

    I looked it up on FNV when I was curious how new voice acting was incorporated into mods.

    1. ET says:

      This actually sounds pretty cool, even though right now, it obviously doesn’t do a very good job.
      At some point, it’ll be a library you just import into your game, or other software:
      – detect language
      – detect words/syllables spoken
      – output mouth bone movements for standardized mouth-bones
      Obviously it’ll still break down horribly, if your NPCs have non-human mouths. :P

  15. stratigo says:

    Where did the crazy stuff go? Went with MK. Whatever you think of Kirkbride and his work in Elder Scrolls, he did push for the Way out there crazy stuff that no one understands (not even him). The less influence he has in creation of Elder scrolls as the series goes on, and the more mundane it seems to get.

    Though, truthfully, you can’t have every entry be a morrowind, cause the crazy would get dull.

    1. aldowyn says:

      I was reading a bunch of stuff about how he wrote Vivec’s philosophy for Morrowind, courtesy of a link here in the comments earlier and the season, and… wow.

      It’s out there all right.

    2. Disc says:

      He’s still writing Elder Scrolls stuff, but just not in any official capacity. His latest thing was this:

      Which is about as crazy as it gets and probably not really worth it unless you’re really into his stuff.

    3. Eric says:

      Beaten to the punch! I curse my job for delaying me!

  16. Gruhunchously says:

    They totally should let you have a TARDIS for the purpose of fast traveling around the world!

    But to keep it realistic, they should also have it so that there’s a 50/50 chance that your rickety old time-space vessel will either get you to your intended destination, or send you somewhere completely random (and extremely dangerous).

  17. stupiddice says:

    I was with my brother when he went to the inn, and he was pissed that he had to pay the innkeeper. He was absolutely livid seconds later when person who left the note was the innkeeper and that she had made him pay for a meeting she had arranged

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      If you follow the quest prompts and do everything the quest givers say with the sense of urgency they seem to imply and respect the Nord ancestral tombs and don’t just help yourself to everything of value, that 10 gold is a fairly significant piece of change to help conceal her paper-thin disguise. I don’t blame him for being pissed.

      By the time I typically get around to remembering that I need to visit Riverwood again to thin out my quest log a bit, 10 gold is pocket change and I’ll trash anything worth 10 gold or less if it takes up one of my hundreds of “weight unit” allowances.

  18. Starkos says:

    I think using the force shout on animated skeletons just passes right through them. It would make sense to have it go through a dragon skeleton as well. Launching the bones across the map with a measly illusion spell is just too hilarious to debug.

  19. I don’t know if everyone was talking over him or if he just didn’t do it, but when I went down into the not-secret room and started looting it, I want to say whoever was in there along with Delphine (I don’t think it was Ognar, but I could be wrong) chides you for ransacking the place. I couldn’t find his exact dialog, though. Anyway, he and the dude Shamus mentioned an episode or two ago whose dead relatives are being raised are the only two people who call you on taking everything that isn’t nailed down (that doesn’t count as theft).

    1. aldowyn says:

      Really? That’s surprising

      The game has a relations system, so if you’re ‘friendly’ with an NPC (possibly just a binary switch, or it could be a hidden scale. Not sure) you can take some of the stuff they technically ‘own’ as long as it’s below a certain value, and it’s probably still tagged as owned so it wouldn’t be that hard to make generic.

      1. I wish I could find out who it was. I seem to remember it was something along the lines of “You sure you need all that?” or “Leave some for the rest of us, why don’t you?”

        I don’t see anyone on either wiki as being present, though.

  20. Vagrant says:

    Anyone else like how Lydia didn’t die when the graybeards spoke?

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Oh, she’s Dragonborn, too; she just can’t be arsed.

      1. DIN aDN says:

        In my last play-through I was already married to one of the random dudes you can brawl with [it was a strange game] when I reached the greybeards.

        EDIT: For clarification, he was following me [and also apparently running a shop at the same time?]

        Apparently this whole ‘dragonborn’ thing is a lot more common than people make it out to be :P

        1. Grudgeal says:

          I also brought Barbas with me up the mountain and he wasn’t bothered by the shouting either (though given his origins, that’s understandable).

          I still can’t decide if his constant whining and moving about made the tutorial better or worse.

  21. Kyte says:

    As far as I’m aware Fus Roh Dah only staggers enemies (which naturally a ragdoll can’t do), while spell projectiles have actual ragdoll physics interaction. So that answers that.

    1. Alex says:

      Fus Roh staggers enemies. Fus Roh Dah ragdolls them. Sneaking up behind bandits and shouting them off cliffs is fun.

    2. Michael says:

      IIRC, it’s a glitch in the havok data for the dragon skeletons. When you hit them with a spell projectile they have no mass. As I recall, the shouts aren’t projectiles, or they have different havok data.

      Rutskarn’s right, though, and it’s not just the construction kit. Skyrim has an absolutely absurd number of moving pieces under the hood. Morrowind and Oblivion both had a fairly basic “here are the rules, and if we want an exception, we’ll code around it” setup. So a lot of the time, if something happened, the game would interpret how the different mechanics interacted.

      Skyrim has a ton of exceptions. In Oblivion, the marriage system would have been “is their disposition >= X”, but with Skyrim, it’s “did you set the flags for the quests from them, do they have the marryable flag, ect” and if these flags get set incorrectly, anywhere, really weird things start happening.

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    I was just replaying through this part last night and one of the customers (the blacksmith guy, if I remember correctly) wandered down into the secret room while we were getting ready to leave. Neither Delphine nor the guy had much to say about it. I think Delphine was going to say something, but then once we got outside we were ambushed by a master vampire and two death hounds. Along with myself, Lydia, and Delphine there were two townsfolk and a courier who had been waiting for me to get to level 9 (Hearthfire) so the vampire was instantly outmatched two to one. Then, very briefly, six to one.

    (My horse was too far down the road to be aggro’d and I don’t have a war dog yet but I should get one. Vanilla Magic is still super-easy without vampire armor or a full contingent of companions. Protip: I discovered that healing yourself while standing on a fire trap even with no perks makes restoration advance like crazy. Totally doing that with every character build from now on.)

    1. CLuhrsen says:

      Even better is using the Alteration spell that restores your mana in exchange for health in one hand and restoration in the other. You can go from 0-100 in Restoration in about an hour and raise your Alteration by about 20 points.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        I had no idea. That’s what I get for neglecting Alteration, I suppose! :)

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Yeah. The spell is called “Equilibrium”. I think it’s either Novice or Apprentice-level.

  23. Alex says:

    Shamus, I think you’re making too big a deal of the fact Delphine knew where the dragon would be raised. Earlier in the game, the Dragonborn gave her a map showing where the dragon burial sites are, and her own copy of the map has half a dozen sites marked where the dragons have been raised, and they form a pretty straight line towards Kynesgrove. She doesn’t need to know why it’s happening to recognise a great big arrow saying “Kynesgrove is next!”

    1. Amnestic says:

      That line stretches from south of Riften up towards Windhelm – so what the hell was Alduin doing at Helgen, then flying up towards Whiterun?

      1. Hitchmeister says:

        He sensed a great disturbance in the force when the Dragonborn entered Skyrim and got arrested. He tracked the source to Helgen to try to rectify the situation but got driven away by a bunch of semi-competent Imperial soldiers.

        1. syal says:

          And then his OCD kicked in and he was like “I gotta finish that straight line I was making!”

      2. Raygereio says:

        That line stretches from south of Riften up towards Windhelm ““ so what the hell was Alduin doing at Helgen, then flying up towards Whiterun?

        The writers couldn’t decide if Helgen was the first reappearance of dragons in this age, or if dragons have been flying around for some time before.

        The main questline actually flows better if you take breaks at several points in the main questline where you go off faffing about in some random town for a couple of days, before progressing further.

        1. Michael says:

          I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Troll is supposed to be a progression barrier. A slightly less mechanical version of Caius Cosades’ line about needing a bit more experience, that can actually be ignored with enough skill. So you’re supposed to be ~level 10 before you start hitting this phase of the main quest.

        2. IFS says:

          That’s true of most of the major questlines, sure you can just jump from novice to archmage in a couple hours at the college but it feels like it takes longer if you faff about doing other stuff between quests.

        3. Amnestic says:

          Even if you do, Alduin’s choice makes little sense unless you go with the OCD explanation. There’s a burial site north of Whiterun which would make far more sense to hit after Helgen (at least on his way past) but instead he either starts over from the bottom right – for no apparent reason – or continues up his line because…OCD.

          The map gives us a credible reason for why Delphine can guess as to the next burial site. It doesn’t give us a credible reason for why Alduin chooses it except “I want to make a pretty pattern”. It also doesn’t make much sense if you do drop the main quest and go elsewhere for a while, since then you can fight dozens of dragons (guarding word walls or just flying about randomly) across the world only to find that apparently Alduin has only ressed a grand total of five prior to Kynesgrove.

          This could be fixed (or at least, improved). She needs the Dragonstone for a map of the burial grounds. She gives you her theory about how they’re coming back and asks you to investigate. You travel (leveling up along the way!) between a few different burial sites with some full and some empty. After a certain number – perhaps random with a cap, perhaps fixed – of sites you manage to “stumble” across Alduin resurrecting a dragon confirming her theory.

          1. Raygereio says:

            What I think the intention from the writers was, is that Alduin stumbled out of the time rift at the start of the game, came across Helgen and wrecked the place because he was cranky. He then went to Sovngarde to munch on some sweet souls and regain strength.
            Once he felt better, Alduin returned to Tamriel and began to resurrect dragons to serve him: going from one burial site to the next in something resembling a straight line.

            There are two problems with that however:
            For starters as you said: After the fight with Mirmulnir, dragons start spawning all over the place. On that map Delphine marked only 5 sites Alduin has visited, but there are way more dragons in the gameworld. So where did the others come from?

            The other issue is the time frame: Delphine says she visited the sites herself and found them empty. But she only got the locations of the burial sites from the Dragonstone the player retrieved.
            So in the same time the player beat Mirmulnir, visited the Greybeards and started on the epic quest to fetch the horn. Delphine travelled through the south-west part of Skyrim, found the pattern of empty burial sites, travelled to Ustengrav to pick up the Horn before the player arrived at Ustengrav and then went to Riverwood to wait for the player to show up.
            The only way that fits is if she has a rocket propelled horse. And what the hell was Alduin doing in between resurrecting the dragon at the last of the 5 sites Delphine marked and Kynesgrove?

            How I resolved this is first by making two assumptions: There are more dragon burial sites outside Skyrim and resurrecting dragons tires Alduin out and he needs to take the occasional break to go munch on souls in Sovngarde. If you then place breaks at several points in the mainquest line, the timeframe can fit somewhat:
            If you go off and do other stuff before completing the Dragonstone quest from Farengar, that would give Alduin time to start resurrecting dragons outside Skyrim (judging from the line on that map, along the border between Cyrodiil & Morrowind). That would justify the huge ammount of the dragons that show up.
            Then after fetching the Dragonstone and beating Mirmulnir, going off and doing other stuff before answering the Greybeard's call would give Delphine enough time to do her scouting.
            And Alduin needing to take a break, would explain the timegap in between Alduin visiting the site Delphine marked as last and him showing up at Kynesgrove.

            That being said, I'll be the first to admit that my headcanon here is but a flimsy duct-tape sollution for a story that just doesn't work if you look at it critically.
            I do like your fix by the way. It has the additional bonus of giving the player some sense of agency as you're the one investigating the burial sites. As opposed to what we get ingame which is meekly following the GM-NPC that Delphine around (really all that's missing is her declaring that our character is not a mercenary).

            1. acronix says:

              I solve part of this by considering that Skyrim (and all game worlds of every RPG ever) are actually scaled down versions of the world. So you only see five empty burial sites because it’s more practical and sends the message just as well as having X burial sites, where X is the number of dragons you have fought. This means there’s a ton of ‘out of screen’ stuff in Skyrim that you never see because, well, it probably is just another featureless empty burial site or long stretches of wilderness, and the game only has “this” much resources to spend on the world.

              I also imagine that Alduin has been wrecking stuff in Sovngarde besides flying around and failing to kill the Dragonborn.

              With all that said, I can’t justify Delphine’s rocket-horse time frame. That’s just Bethesda monkey-writers trying to show us how AWESOME and BADASS she is.

              1. syal says:

                There are multiple dragons buried at each site.

                Delphine ended up with the Boots of Blinding Speed. She threw them away after seeing all the dragon sites because she was tired of constantly taking them off just to look around and then putting them right back on.

          2. newdarkcloud says:

            To be fair, Aldowyn’s choices rarely make sense.

  24. Raygereio says:

    About the lip-sync issue we saw at the start of the episode:
    Bethesda broke something in the facial animations with the 1.9 patch. The result is the lip-syncing occasionally being wonky, eye blinking not working and NPC’s sleeping with their eyes open (that last issue was fixed in the final patch).
    Patch 1.9 also screwed something else up in the game engine (probably related to how it handles memory) which caused some mods like Open Cities to have a lot of performance/CTD/freezing issues. The memory allocation tweak seems to fix this though.

    Personally I like to concider that a last prank from Todd “You want spears? Oh, we’ll give you spears” Howard.

    1. Michael says:

      I think the memory issue is that Skyrim now can’t allocate additional blocks of memory on the PC. At launch it would allocate in 256mb chunks, as it ran, but now once it fills the first 256, the game dies. And, that’s incidentally exactly what the memory allocation fixes, it preallocates additional memory to the game.

  25. VorpalHerring says:

    Wouldn’t a katana be a bad signature weapon for dragon slayers? It’s designed for a slashing motion that wouldn’t do much to an armored dragon.
    It also has relatively short reach, putting you inside chomping range.

    A better choice might be some sort of pike or halberd, designed for long reach and armor piercing.

    Or better yet, a ballista or heavy crossbow, like the one shown in The Hobbit.

    1. MadHiro says:

      Or maybe a lance of some sort? In fact, a Dragon’s Lance or something along those lines?

    2. Michael says:

      Real world katanas are pretty much crappy weapons across the board. So, yes, pretty much.

      1. Spammy says:


        1. Michael says:

          Just a friendly reminder, you cannot use Anime to cite your sources… for anything.

      2. stratigo says:

        Katanas do cutting really really well. Very few blades cut as well as a katana.

        Problem is, you can’t cut through metal very well with any kind of sword.

        1. Michael says:

          Yeah, any hard object gives them some trouble… metal, wood, bamboo, other combatants… And of course they massively outpace the European weapons of their era that were produced with better materials and superior smithing technology… oh, wait.

          The Katana is unique, in that it has a religious significance in Shinto. So you have the actual sword, which is crap, and the idea of the sword, which is this perfect, mythical weapon. Which is where the division comes in. And, of course, no Katana has ever fulfilled the entelechy of a Katana.

          The result is, you’re presented with a lot of, “this is what a Katana” can do that has no relation to reality. At the end of the day it’s a pig iron sword. The Japanese didn’t discover some mystical method of making good weapons with it, they just had the myth of a good weapon.

  26. Dovius says:

    So to summarize the Dovahkiin’s role in this whole mess: You are walking Balefire.

  27. RTBones says:

    When I first played this game, my initial thought was that the Greybeards were somehow chroniclers of time -i.e. historians. Then there was no library and no study. Then there wasn’t really anything the Greybeards were doing other than teaching me to shout at things in a ‘this is how you do it’ sort of way. And you never went to see them to look up something – they were always sending you places. So, no historian, no librarian.

    Also – I had no idea you could do that with dragon corpses.

  28. Darren says:

    I dunno, did you play the expansions? Dawnguard seemed pretty well thought-through, even if it didn’t provide the jolt in the arm that the game perhaps needed. In particular, the subtle implication of the nature of the vampire ritual stood out as a very nice touch. Meanwhile, Dragonborn painted a very interesting picture of a mining colony clinging to life in a forgotten, far-flung part of the world.

    1. Michael says:

      It’s interesting that, as far as I can remember, the whole Daughter of Coldharbor ritual started with Dawnguard. The backstory with Molag Bal and vampires has been hanging around since, at least, Morrowind, but the actual ritual, recreating Lamae Beolfag’s death is new.

      The timeframe for Serana and Valerica is akward, though. Because it had to have happened some time during the first era, and by that time Cyrodil already had a history of being the center of one empire or another…

  29. Paul Spooner says:

    Rutskarn mentioned the idea that smithing could require collecting crafting secrets instead of grinding out garbage. This is a cool idea, but I’d really perfer if either way was available. You should be able to come up with the techniques from first principles… but it should generally be way more work than just asking someone who has figured it out already.

    Concerning the Greybeards “What do they do all day?” “And why does the city support them?”
    I was wondering that as well. When the guy at the bottom of the mountain was like “I hike up there a couple times a week and bring them food… I’d feel bad otherwise” or whatever… that just doesn’t make sense at all! I mean, maybe it’s like some sort of retirement center? And these guys are friends with everyone down in the valley or something? And their children send them food? But that’s not supported at all. There are lots of ways that one could speculate that it makes sense, but it doesn’t seem like there’s anything hinted at either in the setting or the dialogue. The best I can guess is that the villagers send them food to keep them from coming down the mountain and raising a ruckus.

    1. Destrustor says:

      While listening to the discussion, I thought up the following smithing system:
      Your skill only improves your chance to successfully create an item, with more advanced items having a lower base chance of success. Apprentice smiths need to start practicing somewhere, and until they are skilled enough, they will probably waste a few materials in the process. Maybe a way to recover the wasted resources would be cool too.
      And then the way to make some actually better stuff would be to make a lot of the same stuff or to work on those a lot: practice makes perfect, and the steel sword of a master who has already made a hundred others would certainly be better than the one of a novice who managed to make a functioning one by almost pure luck.
      So there’d be an overall skill, and an individual mastery value for every item. The skill improves your chances of making items, and the mastery makes every one you make better than the last. Maybe the mastery could also have synergy among materials: working any ebony item makes you moderately better at that particular item, as well as just a bit better with all ebony stuff in general.
      I feel this could be a fun third way of handling smithing.

    2. Michael says:

      The Complete Crafting Overhaul mods do some of this. It doesn’t lock the existing crafting styles behind quests, but it does add new recipes that are based on completing various existing quests. I’ve also seen mods that move Dwemer Forging behind the Ancient Knowledge Perk in Dawnguard… And of course, Skyforge crafting is already gated like that.

  30. Kavonde says:

    Each of the race/gender combinations actually have their own VA for Shouting. (For all of ’em, not just for Fus Ro Dah.) Most of them are nearly indistinguishable, but they did at least put the effort in.

    Here’s a video demonstrating this:

    1. Tizzy says:

      I guess it was easier to put the effort in extra voices than to put that effort into a story that makes sense…

  31. BeamSplashX says:


    hey rutskarn

    do the dragon lover voice

  32. Alexander The 1st says:

    I was kind of confused at first too about Delphine, but later playthroughs I ended up with a scene that makes it make a bit more sense.

    IIRC,I triggered it by first going to speak to the Jarl’s wizard, then going to get the Bleak Falls Barrow’s Dragonstone – but if you go there sometimes Delphine is in disguise (Still identified as Delphine, though I only picked up on the connection because I had already encountered her in a previous run.), she’s speaking to the Jarl’s wizard (Whose name escapes me at the moment.) about the stone, and specifically refers to his associate in disguise will handle the rest.

    The Dragon Burial stone is how she found the burial sites and decided to check them for the revivals, with the map Josh looted showing her taking trips and finding the actual sites and tracking the pattern of revivals.

    As for her taking the horn, she also says that apparently she knew that’s what they’d send you after eventually, hence the attic room system.

    1. Michael says:

      Faringar (or something like that.)

      I remember seeing her in my first playthrough, and she immediately went to the top of my “people to keep an eye on”, or, you know, “worst spies ever” list.

      And, the Thalmor can’t catch her, which makes me think they’re not only overstretched, but completely incompetent. They know she’s in Skyrim, they’ve spend decades looking for her, and she’s not even using an alias…

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        In their defense, up until you come along, she’s noted to never actually contact the other Blades. And that she’s probably unrecognizable to anyone looking for someone based off a description from a decade ago. Haven’t thought to check if her armor is specifically *unique* yet myself, but I’m willing to bet that’s also possible that they don’t know what armor she’s wearing when going out.

        Alternatively, yeah, overstretched works too – on a previous run, the only time I encountered the Thalmor Justicars was during a random Dragon battle they joined in – that since I was using a fire spell against it, they caught fire mid-dialogue and went straight to combat.

        Which is to say, those Justicars won’t be able to find Delphine anytime soon. :p

  33. @2:40 RIP headphone users (i.e. me) I mean yeah it was a silly response, but jesus Josh…check ‘dem levels during audio editing.

    @6:00 Y’know what, I’m gonna give ’em this one. First off, they establish she has a map showing (in-universe) all the dragon sites. They also establish that the Blades were originally (or at least spent a good majority of their time at one point being) dragon hunters. That’s plenty enough without resorting to an unreasonable amount of pace-killing exposition.

    @7:00 It’s also HILARIOUS how you swing ’em around in the game…they way NO ONE DOES OR HAS EVER DONE! They would snap in two upon the first strike, if they didn’t bounce right outta your damn hand!

    @8:30 I’m rather curious how many of those towns are lore-oriented, by which I mean how many are from the Arena and Daggerfall, since I know you could visit Skyrim in those games.

    @19:30 It’s dangerous to go alone, shout this.

    @22:45 And it STILL don’t sound right to me. I haven’t heard from ANY Khajiit in this game that sound as high pitched as your character. He sounds like what I’d assume a Khajiit kitten would sound like.

    @23:00 Why would you be worried about that? The game autosaves anytime you enter/exit a door, which he’d just done.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Daggerfall takes place in a small part of Hammerfell. Arena takes place all over the continent, but not all locations can or at least should, be visited…And SKyrim doesn’t really look anything alike.

  34. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Chris continued his complaints this week that there isn’t any sense that the Greybeards do anything. He cites real life monks as engaging in meditation as an example.

    Well, the Greybeards do that. If you poke around the premises, you’ll see them praying in various locations. Most notably if you go outside, sometimes Angier will be in the tower in their courtyard in a kneeling position doing dragon shouts. He is (as some of his dialog suggests if you poke around his dialog tree) using the Voice to commune with Akatosh which is what he’d prefer the Dragonborn do with that gift.

  35. Stupid bird says:

    If I had the least bit of modding talent, I’d give the Greybeards a few lines of dialogue to make them more interesting. Imagine if you start the battle of Whiterun only for everyone to stop fighting when they hear, “ULFRIC STORMCLOAK, YOU TWO-TIMING, SELFISH SON OF A BITCH, YOU BETTER START LEANING UP THIS MESS YOU MADE OF SKYRIM! I DON’T GIVE TWO SHITS IF YOUR DUEL WITH THE KING WAS LEGITIMATE; YOU STILL USED OUR POWER FOR YOUR OWN GAIN AND YOU WILL REPENT FOR IT. IF YOU DON’T, WE WILL TEACH YOU A HARSH LESSON IN EMPATHY. THERE’S NOWHERE IN SKYRIM OUR VOICE CAN’T REACH! WHEN YOU NEXT HEAR IT, YOU WILL FEEL WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON THE RECEIVING END OF WHAT YOU DID TO TORYGG!” From there, they basically have fun drunk shouting all of Skyrim.

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