Skyrim EP16: Wolves Aren’t Evil

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Mar 19, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 118 comments

Link (YouTube)

Imma spoil this for you, for your own good: Josh totally murders Lydia in this episode, and it takes a couple of minutes before anyone realizes it happened. Re-watching this now I knew it was coming, and I laughed. I mean mourned. Not laughed. I don’t know why I said laugh. That would be terrible. Anyway, watch for it. It’s all the more hilarious poignant that nobody knows it’s happening.

If you want to see the footage of ragdoll “physics” in Thief Deadly Shadows, Chris put together a nice collection of them here.


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118 thoughts on “Skyrim EP16: Wolves Aren’t Evil

  1. M. says:

    That’s what you get when you just snap a character into ragdoll without applying any impulses or blending in any animations. His knees buckle, his upper body goes straight down and then is guaranteed to topple into the most awkward and hilarious pose available at the time. If you’re lucky he’ll slump to flat on the ground and not stay in that pose forever.

    1. ET says:

      The first couple are hard to fix, without modelling the joints’ freedom of movement, with some extra stiffness from ligaments, muscles, and mass.
      However, the last ragdoll situation in Chris’ clip could be trivially solved, by just adding some gosh-darned friction-like component to the motion, so that it doesn’t bounce like crazy! :)

      1. Actually if one make the upper body heavier then the odd rubberman effect in Chris video would not happen (the body would slump backwards instead).

        Alternatively allow joints/bone breaking under certain circumstances (getting FusRoDah’ed through the air for example, that ground impact would be pretty nasty).

  2. Hal says:

    Just a thought*: You guys have reflected on how the darkness of the dungeons in the unmodded version is unsatisfying. Will you find time in this playthrough to go to Blackreach? I find going down there feels like visiting an entirely different world. (Assuming you decide to complete the main quest, you should get sent there for the Elder Scroll.)

    * – I have no idea yet if this is related to any of the banter in this episode, but it’s been mentioned before.

    1. Viktor says:

      Blackreach is cool and all, but it’s also a fairly long section with not much to talk about beyond the initial impressions/atmosphere. I doubt they’ll do it, but I agree it would be cool to get their thoughts.

      1. TheHokeyPokey says:

        Isn’t it necessary for the main quest? I think you have to go through it to get the elder scroll.

        1. Eruanno says:

          You do? I remember stumbling in there by complete accident and wondering how the hell I missed that enormous place.

          Then again, I’m not sure if I had finished the main quest at that point. Hm.

          1. Raygereio says:

            You need to pick up the Elder Scroll in Blackreach for both the vanilla game’s and Dawnguard’s main quests.

            Blackreach is mostly optional to explore though.

            1. Michael says:

              That was annoying, for Dawnguard. You need to get the Dragon Scroll, and you can’t advance the plot without it. But you never need to READ IT. You never use it in Dawnguard. If you sold it to the librarian after finishing the main quest and before starting Dawnguard, you need to get it back. So you can ignore it and return it to the college later! O.O

              *Blood sprays from his ears.*

  3. Dingus says:

    Coyotes would never attack a person? They stalk people pretty regularly here on the east coast.

    1. Zastrick says:

      To be fair, Wiki says second known person, meaning it’s improbable to the point that never isn’t that big of an embellishment. Considering how most other freak death occurrences have way higher death tolls, it’s extremely abnormal. Poor woman really won the bad luck lottery there.

      Also I’ve been followed by coyotes walking around the country in central California too. Made me a little nervous when it happened, but didn’t make me seriously fear for my life.

    2. Aitch says:

      Coyotes, bears, wolves, sharks, mountain lions, etc, so very rarely attack people that it’s true enough to say that it pretty much never happens. In fact, we kill magnitudes more of them to the point where many are near extinct.

      Coyotes and wolves, for instance, are much more interested in mice and rodents and the rare gimped ungulate than they ever would be a human. Apparently, we smell and taste awful, and it’s a real bottom of the barrel thing for an animal to even consider going after one of us. It’s all just a typical hyped up fear fantasy, and it agitates me to no end.

      Here’s the thing – chances are if it’s still alive in this day and age, it has an instinctual fear of humans – cause we straight up murdered all the ones that didn’t have enough sense to bolt at the first sign of a biped.

      And yes, there are cases of senile old animals that can’t hunt proper anymore and go after someone, or if there’s literally nothing else left to hunt cause we took all the prey for ourselves, or they’re just trying to protect their young… but it’s so rare that it’s practically useless to think about.

      Like when I see one of those wilderness survival programs, and the host decides to incessantly whinge on about “is that a bear? i think that’s a bear! i bet it’s a bear! oh god it’s going to eat me in my sleep! i’d better start complaining about how exhaustedly hungry i am for protein after not eating for a whole entire afternoon to get my mind off all these bears. wait, did someone say bear? there’s a bear out there? oh god! And all i have to protect myself is this 12 gauge slug loaded shotgun and a massive support crew 100 yards out…”

      They’d might as well be afraid of being hit by a falling branch, or being struck by lightning. At least those things happen occasionally.

      Really though, if you end up losing the wilderness rng lottery and find yourself faced with an irate coyote looking for a meal, there are so many simple ways to win that fight that if you lose, chances are you deserved it for being such a poor excuse for a human wandering around with no protection where you shouldn’t have been in the first place.

      1. Mumbles says:

        thiss! coyotes are curious but generally speaking they do not want to nom people!

        1. Tektotherriggen says:

          That’s your job, isn’t it?

  4. Spongioblast says:

    Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational Dragonborn!

    1. Mintskittle says:

      I would have went with “Fully armed and operational Battlekitty!”

      1. Humanoid says:

        By our powers combined, a fully armed and operational VOLTRONbert!

      2. Actually Dragoncat would be more apt in this case.

  5. Greg says:

    Maybe I’ve just forgotten in the intervening time, but what is Josh saving all those perk points for? Catbert lacking more than basic proficiency in anything is making the combat far more tedious. Far be it from me to complain about Spoiler Warning dicking around for an episode not getting much done, but here you were actually attempting to finish this simple “kill all enemies” quest and it took an entire episode and lost a follower.

    The preponderance of bandits in Skyrim is troubling if you actually think about it, because I would be willing to bet that the “half the population is bandits” comment is not far off at all, especially if you count Forsworn. It makes me think that the various bandit camps you run into are actually just small encampments of people who have no means or land in any of the holds, and are trying to eke out a living in the wilderness — heck, it’s distinctly possible that they’re not bandits at all and are actually trying to defend their homes, which makes their suicidal rushes into combat against the juggernaut of shouting destruction that is the Dragonborn slightly more believable. But it’s obvious that you’re not actually supposed to think about it, and it’s just an easy way to have you fight human enemies without pissing off one faction or another.

    1. ET says:

      OK, so normal enemies are indeed pretty easy, if you pick up some combat perk points.
      But what about the boss skeletons in the dungeons?
      Every time I run into one of those in my game, I need to find a place where their pathfinding glitches out, and just plink at them with arrows until they die.
      Like, even the giants in the game are easier for me. :S

    2. Humanoid says:

      He’s saving them for the parachute aug at the end.

    3. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

      I’m sorta meh on the whole bandits thing. As I’m wandering Skyrim I see enough cities, settlements, farms, and so on to think the place is pretty solidly settled -it’s just that we mostly see bandits because we spend most of our time outside the cities. I mean, the population of Whitehall should probably be at least 3 times what we see, plus outlying farms -it’s just all off screen and I’m OK with that.

      The bandits may well be defending their “homes,” but they are still bandits and outlaws. The war makes them especially likely -deserters and war criminals escaping justice from one side or the other -sellswords who crossed the Empire and refused the initiations of the Stormcloaks.

      I was more bothered by the bandits in Fallout 3.

      Of course,at a certain point I’m much more willing to just go with it than the Spoiler Warning crew is when they’re in let’s play mode.

      1. James says:

        it might have helped more if instead of just “bandit” the game labeled them “deserter” or something, instead it feels like the entire countryside is teaming with criminals, and neither the city guard, the army or the rebels care to remove the problem.

        like maby we can have
        Bandit “Deserter”
        ect ect

        that or make have some scripting to make patrols find these bandits so it seams like a problem the NPC’s are trying to fix.

        also yes all the cities need about 100x the population atleast, 50 people a city does not make, 50 people is barley a medium sized hamlet. but then i feel the engine would IMPLODE

        1. Humanoid says:

          Looters, Forest Bandits, Mountain Bandits, Steppe Bandits ….oh god Sea Raiders.

          As for general population, I always thought it weird that there were more cities than towns. A few more Riverwood/Ivarstead type communities wouldn’t go astray.

          1. Corpital says:

            Oh yesss, Sea Raiders! They are my favorite things to farm thanks to their rather valuable armor.

            On the other hand…oh god, Steppe Bandits. Hate them with a passion.

        2. Henson says:

          Well, there are the Forsworn, which is kinda nice.

          1. Humanoid says:

            Forsworn: “You’ll make a nice loincloth, cat!”

    4. Microwaviblerabbit says:

      Historically, in the early Germanic tribes (which Skyrim is heavily based on) bandits were people who ran instead of going to ‘court’. They could be killed on sight as if they were a wolf. The bandits in the game seem to follow this, since they talk about paying off their bounty. Since anyone could become a bandit for any crime, and the wilderness is dangerous, it makes sense they group together.

      I personally prefer the bandit camps with a purpose, like the ones in mines. Those ones could easily exist with normal society, trading ore for supplies. Even if “half the population is bandits”, less than a third of that (1/6 of the population) are bandits actually engaged in banditry.

      1. Humanoid says:

        I do like that some bandits like the ones at the tower on the way up to Bleak Falls don’t charge you on sight, but instead sort of gesture and warn you to keep your distance. But it either isn’t a feature for most bandit groups, or the groups are set up in a way that they can’t really get the message across until they’re in aggro range.

        So yeah, it’s nice that at least there’s some veneer of them being there for reasons not exclusively dedicated to ambushing you. On the other hand, that particular place seems somewhat of an impractical hideout.

      2. Matt Downie says:

        “I’m young and strong. I think I’ll join the army!”
        “To prove yourself worthy, you must kill fifteen bandits.”
        “What? No way!”
        “Hey, did you just steal that flower?”
        “It was an accident! I didn’t realise it was an owned flower!”
        (Everyone in town tries to murder him; runs away to become a bandit.)

    5. guy says:

      To be fair, high levels of banditry during wartime actually does make sense. All the soldiers are busy fighting other soldiers, after all, and attacking lone civilians is a lot safer than standing in a battle line.

  6. Henson says:

    I’d like to think that Josh’s “Accidental Companion Murderer” credits trait means that he doesn’t accidentally murder companions, but that he murders accidental companions.

    1. Humanoid says:

      I just wonder who our next accident, er, I mean, companion, will be.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        The funny thing for me is that somehow Lydia survived longer for Josh than she did for me.

        Course, after that I pretty much swore off companions.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I never really enjoyed companions much in this type of game (TES series in particular). I know people have been praising having a mule or a meatshield tagging along but for me it was usually more hassle than it was worth, bothering with pathfinding, aggro and what not. I will admit htat I stuck with New Vegas companions for their stories but here… meh.

          Edit: Okay, they have a personality of sort but I never felt it really went much beyond a few canned lines.

  7. Ofermod says:

    A question I thought of while realizing that the Spoiler Warning crew was *only* discussing companions that you couldn’t give orders to during combat (Rather than, say, those in PS:Torment, Baldur’s Gate, or Mass Effect): Companions versus party members. Should one be held to a higher standard of writing than the other?

    1. Thomas says:

      I think it might be part of the design choices that led to controllable/non-controllable party members? Having controllable party members is a decision that fits a more linear controlled and story-based experience whereas not allowing control of them is more of a ‘be any person you want to be’ sort of deal. It’s a lot easier to write for the first than the second and people probably can’t kill of the NPC and waste all that work in the first

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      The difference, in my opinion, is that thsoe games were designed with party play in mind, and so a lot of thought was put into giving orders, party management and synergy and generally party play. Not to mention that the companions there had stories and personalities, here they could be largely replaced with a construct or a battle donkey of some sorty.

  8. Thomas says:

    So if you take a drink whenever you guys say things like ‘This was better in Morrowind…’ does that mean you down a coffee when you say ‘…but Oblivion sucked.’

    1. Dragmire says:

      Nah, just a shot of espresso.

  9. Nano Proksee says:

    A good way around the bandits would have been replacing most of them with groups of Stormcloaks/Imperials depending on the faction of the player. I would have made sense, ’cause pretty early you turn into a notable figure in each faction. Also, it would have made the war more notorious.

  10. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

    On the strength of Spoiler Warning, I decided to get Skyrim. I am thus far enjoying it, 30 hours in. I even like Lydia and Ulfric (though I’m playing a Redguard, so I already have plenty of reason to dislike the Empire -had I read the history of the Great War earlier in the story, I might have even been less kind to Faendal -but he’s not Thalmor, and I appreciated his sense of turnabout’s fair play against Sven -yes, I know the quest bugs other people, and it probably bugs me too when I’m not playing a pirate).

    I’m having one minor hitch I’m wondering if the other Skyrim players here know how to fix. My graphics card keeps timing out and failing to restart -resulting in a BSOD. Seems to have been a problem a couple of years ago, but no one ever mentions a solution. Turning down the graphics didn’t help, nor did taking off the side and cleaning off the card or otherwise venting more heat. I reinstalled my drivers and reinstalled the game and it hasn’t crashed since, but I’ve also been reluctant to push it more than 30-45 minutes at a time. Any of the longer term players come across a fix for that?

    1. Dragmire says:

      While I personally don’t think I can help you, other may need to know what card you have as some graphics cards may need different solutions to others.

      I had a similar issue but a driver update fixed that particular issue for me. Now I have C++ errors after installing Visual Studio…

      1. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

        It’s a Radeon HD 7700 with “ghost thermal cooling.” I’ve seen the problem mentioned on nVidia cards too, though. The particular driver that was timing out was atikmpag.sys.

        1. guy says:

          The Internet says that probably means your display driver was faulty and a reinstall should be sufficient to fix it. If it doesn’t, you can try updating or rolling back to previous versions as appropriate, and that should fix it. Failing that, your GPU is probably faulty.

          As for why Skyrim would be the only thing to cause this, probably there’s some way of optimizing some of the calculations that it does, either in the driver or as a special subsection of the physical GPU (though as I understand it, GPUs just do a ton of vector multiplication and special sub-processors for certain operations are more a CPU thing) and that is what crashes. Since it takes a long time to happen, probably it has a memory leak and eventually either stops being able to store new things or writes data over code to be executed.

    2. guy says:

      Reinstalling/updating drivers usually fixes that sort of problem. Also, in a previous comment thread someone mentioned an issue with the latest patch not allocating additional memory as needed and said that there’s a memory management fix mod out there somewhere. Not a graphics problem directly, but if a program tends to fail after running for some duration instead of at random or in specific areas I’d be inclined to suspect a memory problem.

      I’ve also had a similar sort of problem from a dying hard drive recently; it could be you have an unreadable sector storing some crucial bit of bling-mapping shader.

      Lastly, it’s possible GPU memory isn’t getting properly deallocated by the game engine. I don’t know how you’d fix that, but lower resolution textures would slow it down.

    3. ET says:

      The fact that it’s a time-limit thing really makes me think it might still be heat.
      (Well, that plus the non-working-ness of the software- and drivers-based solutions.)
      You say you vented more heat, but have you:
      – Checked the thermal paste between the chip and the heat sink?
      – Ran any sort of temperature-monitoring software?

    4. Are you hitting the graphics card memory limit? That could crash the driver (but should not, there should be code to handle this).

      Also, did you overclock the card?

      And if you have a AMD card and it is not overclocked you might want to try and use the AMD controlpanel and increase the GFX cards voltage (but not raise anything else).

      Another thing to try is slightly underclock.

      It’s also possible the graphics memory is damaged or the GPU is damaged.

      Also, you might want to de-dust your computer, dust sticking to fan blades causes vibrations and dust sticking heat sinks/surfaces prevents proper cooling, and if exposes metal and old warm dust get to hang out too long you could end up with burnt dust, and if you never clean then t could be a fire hazard.

      Don’t worry though, most likely it’s as others have said the driver or the game (or the two together) that is the issue.

  11. Jokerman says:

    You guys shake your head at Lydia for the “Skyrim is for the nords” comment, but missed her saying “you will make a fine rug cat!” just before that. Which was even funnier.

    1. AJax says:

      Oh god, I just started playing as a Khajit after the season started and the combat taunts are just terrible and yet so hilarious due to how much they repeat. “You’ll make a fine rug cat!”, “My cousin had a cat once, I killed it!” or something stupid like that.

      Frankly, I’d prefer grunting and screaming rather than repetitious stupidity.

      1. Humanoid says:

        It does make me nostalgic for some classic Wing Commander, though.

      2. Trix2000 says:

        It was even more funny when they made such taunts while in the middle of kill-cams, impaled on my greatsword.

        In Soviet Russia, cat kills YOU.

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Maybe “You would make a fine rug cat” is a come on.

      . . . I just shipped Lydia with a furry. I’m going to be sick.

  12. Dude says:

    I have to ask. That’s the second Errant Signal video that’s not on the Errant Signal youtube page. ie, without a direct link through your blog, it’s basically inaccessible. Why is that?

    Or is it a youtube feature I’m missing?

    1. Shamus says:

      You can upload a video as “unlisted”, and so you can only watch it if you already know the link.

      Last time Chris uploaded one of these quickie joke vids he got a bunch of bitching from entitled lunkheads who were upset it wasn’t a “real” video. (I can understand being disappointed. I can’t fathom the need to complain.) Ill bet he’s just avoiding that.

      1. Jokerman says:

        Heh, for about a second i though “Ohh, an errant signal on Arkham origins” Then saw it was about 15 seconds long… i got over it.

      2. Dude says:


        I think it’s rather odd for viewers to dictate or complain about what someone puts on his or her youtube channel; it’s pretty easy to not click a thumbnail that says it’s only one minute long. Youtubers must feel like an entitled lot.

        1. ET says:

          Going by TotalBiscuit’s explanation of why he had to disable comments…yeah YouTube is filled with jerks.
          Makes it hard to actually converse with any creators, when you’re one person being drowned out, by a thousand mean-spirited people, thrashing at their keyboards. :|

          1. Henson says:

            I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because there’s no moderation of comments and no voice of authority (coupled with complete anonymity). Here at Twenty Sided, if someone goes too far, Shamus is sure to make it clear; it’s his house, and we’re guests, so people generally behave. On YouTube, the only people who can chastise someone for going too far are other anonymous users, and why would anyone listen to them?

            On one hand, it enables a toxic environment that helps no one. On the other hand, it’s pretty much the only way to get a true forum with complete freedom of speech on the internet. Otherwise, what we get is people with the freedom to say what they want on their own websites – in other words, the freedom to say what you want in your own house, but not outside of said house.

            On the other hand, if every site is analogous to someone’s house, can ANY site be considered a public area, analogous to public spaces in the real world? Are we just hopping from one house to another, all owned by different people? And what happens to freedom of speech once this house-hopping becomes our primary form of communication?

            It’s a strange issue, and not one I’ve been able to solve in my head.

            1. syal says:

              I thought the problem Totalbiscuit had was that Youtube actively promoted troll comments by giving higher positioning to statements that had lots of replies, which in practice meant giving higher positioning to the most controversial statements.

              (Public spaces in real life are still owned (usually by the government), the owners just don’t care to keep people out. That’s how you have absolute freedom on the internet; find a place run by someone who wants it.)

        2. Thomas says:

          Video spam is annoying. If you’re subscribed to a lot of channels and you use your subscription page to navigate youtube, then the little not really important videos can push the videos you want off your feed or at least mean you’ve got to go searching down a list of cruft to find them.

          It’s a frequency thing though. One or two jokes videos shouldn’t matter, but Tobuscus putting out non-Literal Trailers every week soon makes subscribing to him not worth while. And if everyone does it then even a small amount of irrelevant videos can make finding what you want a pain

      3. Well that’s stupid.

        Besides just throw a “Quickie” in the title and nobody can complain about it.

  13. I agree with Chris that Bethesda does a pretty good job with contextual music in their games, though it does become odd in one situation, and that’s when I’m not planning on stopping to fight. The stirring combat music is actually stirring Dragonborn jogging past the dudes I don’t really feel like interacting with right now music.

    1. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

      At present, there are 2 games where I will sit and listen to the music while enjoying the scenery.

      Skyrim and Bladestorm.

  14. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

    I’ve generally liked the companions. Most of them are serving you out of some type of obligation or thanks, and I’ve tripped over so many of them (Lydia, Faendal, the woman who didn’t get to be a Companion, the Priest of Mara in Dawnstar, and a sellsword in Solstheim, plus the Companions and probably more I didn’t realize were companionable) that I don’t stick with a single companion for excessive periods of time.

    They have enough character and personality that, so long as you don’t spend huge amounts of time with them, they seem like they have lives. Probably especially true if they can die semi-frequently.

    When I’m doing stuff for Whiterun, I go find Lydia because she is my Housecarl there. When I’m doing stuff for Riverrun I get Faendal. They support me, I equip them as best I can -finding them better weapons and armor, gifts of jewelry or food or medicine. The rest of the time, they have their own concerns. Lydia guards the Jarl at Dragonreach, Faendal works in the lumber mill at Riverrun, and the priest of Mara does… priestly stuff. Really, I’m still working out how the religions of Tamriel actually work. I actually start to feel a bit like a knight assembling a household. I’ve got a woman at arms, a woodsman, and a priest. Just need a blacksmith and cook.

    My only real gripe is that, once I get a manor built with Hearthfire, I’d really like to actually bring together a real household with all these retainers, and I’m doubtful the game will let me do that.

    1. I normally don’t take companions because they wind up getting in the way. I wanted them in Fallout New Vegas because they had quest arcs that were interesting (though sometimes triggering them was a pain). I’m not sure which I prefer: Companions I can take or ignore, or ones that unlock new content, but only if I consult the wiki to see why it didn’t work for me.

    2. Jarenth says:

      So you’re counteracting the limited companion characterization by spending little enough time with each of them individually that what little there is there doesn’t run out as soon?

      That’s… rather ingenious, actually. Like getting a tiny cookie, and then just nibbling crumbs off of it every day. And also imagining an active day-to-day life for the cookie whenever you store it, I guess.

  15. Henson says:

    The predilection for games to make Wolves the default wilderness enemy is actually something that’s been bothering me lately. I don’t know how it was back in medieval times, but nowadays, wolves are not a problem. Deer are. (Or, if you’re in Australia, it’s not the dingoes, it’s the kangaroos). And since our local laws prohibit killing deer off-season, we have to rely on – you guessed it – wolves.

    I think I’d like to see a game where choosing to kill all the wolves leads to an out-of-control population of herbivores that the locals treat as sacred animals.

    1. guy says:

      One of the reasons Europeans and their descendents have an ingrained cultural hatred of wolves is the tradition of herding livestock. While animal attacks on humans are relatively rare (though once animals start attacking humans they don’t tend to stop, with some lions or crocodiles estimated to have killed over a hundred people before getting tracked down) wolves consider sheep and cows fair game.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        It is also the main reason why the wolf is practically extinct on the British Isles and in most of Europe west of Poland; herding and agriculture called for its extermination.

        And that’s the regular ‘avoids humans’ kind and not the ‘rabid and attacks everything on sight’ wolves of role-playing games, who by all accounts should have been exterminated ages ago in any setting with intelligent humanoids with a history stretching further out than a century.

    2. syal says:

      I would like to see a game that featured angry deer or elk as the basic wildlife enemies. People tend to not think about how aggressive herbivores can be.

      1. Is there a mod that replaces the mammoths with moose? You really wouldn’t have to change the stats, and the cheese would be just as disgusting.

        1. Grudgeal says:

          Apparently, according to wikipedia, Moose Cheese exists in real life and makes for a feta-esque cheese. Learn something new every day.

          1. I’m beginning to think humanity’s got this flow chart of things we do when we discover a new animal, and “can we use it to make cheese?” is a lot higher up the list than I’d thought possible.

            1. Hitch says:

              Well, if it’s a mammal it can be milked. Once you have milk the first thing you discover is it goes bad pretty quick. So the second thing you work on discovering is how to make it go off big time styley.

              1. That probably means there’s Khajiit cheese in Tamriel somewhere.

    3. krellen says:

      It’s my understanding that wolf attacks were actually pretty common back in the Medieval period. Not on cities/villages, obviously, but travellers through wilderness (specifically, not on patrolled/trafficked roads) could expect attacks from hunting animals like bears and wolves.

      It’s far less common these days because there’s a lot less bears and wolves (and wilderness) than there used to be. (Europe used to be basically one giant forest, for instance.)

      1. guy says:

        I don’t think it was ever really common. Humans are generally relatively low on the target priority list for predators for a number of reasons. However, when wolves are hungry and people are isolated, they’ll go after humans.

  16. guy says:

    I don’t entirely mind the forts being samey. Skyrim has been an Imperial province for a long, long time, and they seem like the sort of group that would have a standardized fortress design. Historically, the Roman Empire liked to standardize fort and camp layouts so soldiers could get posted anywhere in the empire and know their way around.

    Of course, that does beg the question of why none of them are intact and fully manned. I guess the empire has been in a bad way since Martin died, but I’d expect them to have kept manning some of them. You might also think that they’ve decayed a lot even if they got abandoned a couple hundred years ago, but actually that isn’t too strange. Stone structures can stand up to the elements pretty effectively, but abandoned ones near populated areas tend to get dismantled for parts. Cutting blocks of stone out of the ground and smoothing and shaping them is pretty labor-intensive, and frequently quality stone has to be quarried far away from where you want to build something. It’s a lot easier to take it from an unused building.

    1. krellen says:

      I actually cleared out a fort near Whiterun randomly, just because I was there, and the next time I came back a bunch of Imperial soldiers were manning it instead.

  17. Kavonde says:

    I feel like a total weirdo for this, but every time a discussion about Elizabeth comes up, I feel like no one’s willing to address what I see as an elephant in the room. It’s one that only became a problem after a very late-game reveal, though, so it’s hard to discuss it without spoiling anything.

    So, spoiler tag time!

    Long story short, I really wish Liz hadn’t been running around in a corset for most of the game. Fanservice is nice and all, but it suddenly turned really weird and gross when Booker turned out to be her dad. I know the story never really even hinted at any romantic interest, and the squickiness comes entirely from my own projection onto Booker, but all of a sudden I really wanted to find a sweater and force her to wear it. A turtleneck. A baggy one.

    Anyway. R.I.P. Lydia. Never forget.

    1. I actually think that was the point, making you go “hang on did they have those kinds of feelings for each other?” Which is not as unsurprising as those growing up with someone automatically do not develop those kind of feelings for those they grow up with.

      In the case of the game I’m pretty sure the writer in a Nelson’eque (Simpsons ref.) way went “PSYCH! HAHA!”

      For some the reveal probably did not matter, they care for her anyway nothing changes. And for others it may just have helped re-enforced the fatherly or brotherly role. While for others it was more of a “Dammit!…Well…that really sucks…!” (that was my reaction BTW!)
      It was probably at this point that many guestimated that this would probably not end that well, and when you get to the end and see the multiple versions of “Liz” you do realize that at least one of them actually went that route, although they did not show it, it appears that thousands upon thousands of outcomes have occurred, yay for paradoxes or timeloops I guess?

  18. MadTinkerer says:

    War Dogs are a low level Skyrim hero’s best friend. At mid to high level, it’s best to leave them at home so they don’t get killed by friendly fire. Most monsters are programmed to immediately ignore companions that are low on HP and cowering (unlike your companions who mercilessly slaughter anyone who dares to surrender, without exception), so it’s pretty rare that your companions will die if they stay out of the way of your attacks.

    Generally speaking, you’re a much bigger danger to your companions than any monster. Especially as a mage. That’s the real challenge of playing a mage: avoiding accidentally killing your own tanks.

  19. RTBones says:

    So…wait. Now that Josh has lost his Meatbag of Holding, will we ever see anything accomplished this season? I mean, I can completely see a situation where we witness Josh spending hour after hour looting vendor trash off of corpses that he *cant carry*, realize he is encumbered and drop it, move 50 yards away from the loot only to go back and try to figure out an optimal way to carry the aforementioned vendor trash that, well, he *still cant carry*. Its like leftover vendor trash becomes the Skyrim Incinerator. You can loot all you like, but you cant ever take it.

    1. Josh says:

      This is gonna be the best season ever.

      1. ET says:

        Quick, somebody hack into his computer and install a loot-optimization mod, or a mod that gives him 2000 more carry weight! :P

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          You know that Josh will find a way to fill that extra 2000 pounds to put in his bag.

          It will only result in longer mercantile sessions.

        2. Henson says:

          This can easily be done through the command console.

          Apparently, so can flying. I learned something today.

      2. Dude says:

        Dude, just hire the blue elf in that tavern over there. She’s cool, dude.

      3. Doing the “Assasin” guild quest does reward you with a really kickass horse that I think would work nicely as a mule I guess?

    2. guy says:

      Shamus is going to have a stroke.

    3. Josef says:

      “Meatbag of Holding”.
      Thank you. :D

      1. Also known as “Dad” I guess in the Shamus’ household! :P

  20. Blov says:


    Fallout New Vegas companions are good. Not as good as A)Planescape B) Baldur’s Gate 2 and maybe C) KOTOR. I think most of which are written by Chris Avellone as well…

    But yeah the ones in Skyrim are blaaaand.

    Also perfect timing killing Lydia right in the middle of the companions discussion guys : p

    1. Humanoid says:

      MCA would only have been involved in PS:T out of those three titles.

    2. Eruanno says:

      The only not-bland companion in the entire game is the vampire girl with Laura Bailey’s voice from Dawnguard. I’m also fairly sure she can’t die.

    3. Gruhunchously says:

      The companions in F:NV were done by Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer, Eric Fenstermaker, Travis Stout, Akil Hooper, and Jesse Ferrell.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        To expand on this I’ll quote Josh Sawyer’s post in the Something Awful New Vegas thread:

        “John Gonzalez, who actually wrote the entire main story and many of the game’s central characters (Benny, Caesar, Mr. House, Vulpes Inculta, etc.) has seemingly been erased from the collective memory of the gaming community. I think it’s really unfortunate. He also wrote all of the Survivalist logs in Honest Hearts (and some of the Happy Trails Caravan).

        Writing duties are split up among designers. Not all designers write, but the majority of us do. Some do a larger share than others. I’ll miss some here, but notably:

        Eric Fenstermaker – Veronica, Boone, a lot of Novac and Helios One (Fantastic), a lot of Camp McCarran (Silas, Curtis, et al.), the White Gloves, Vault 11, some Goodsprings
        Travis Stout – Lily, Raul, the Misfits, some Goodsprings, Follows-Chalk, Waking Cloud, some Happy Trails folks, and a bunch of stuff on Old World Blues
        Akil Hooper – ED-E, a lot of Primm, the Omertas, some Hoover Dam, some Boomers
        Rob Lee – Some Camp McCarran, a lot of Freeside, Camp Guardian, some Boomers
        Jeff Husges – Most of Jacobstown, the Remnants, a ton of minor characters all over the place (including Boulder City, many Legion characters and Rex’s quest)
        Matt MacClean – Return to Sender station rangers
        George Ziets – 1st Recon
        Charlie Staples – Forlorn Hope, a bunch of other stuff I can’t even remember
        Jesse Farrell – A lot of Freeside (Kings, especially), Brotherhood of Steel, a lot of Hoover Dam
        Chris Avellone – Cass, Lanius, Oliver (I think?) and some minor characters at Mojave Outpost. Of course, he also did all of the writing for Dead Money and Lonesome Road, and split writing duties with Travis Stout on OWB (not sure of the split).
        Jorge Salgado – Red Lucy, Sarah Weintraub, Michael Angelo, and a few others (North Vegas)”

        Sawyer himself wrote Hanlon, Kimball, and a lot of Honest Hearts.

        1. Blov says:

          Was Avellone involved in KOTOR 2? Is that what I’m confusing that with. I don’t know who wrote the BG 2 ones. I should find out. Survivalist logs were wonderful.

          1. krellen says:

            To the best of my knowledge, KOTOR2 was kind of Avellone’s baby.

  21. Artur CalDazar says:

    WHen Mumbles sounded unsure when bringing up cooking I thought to myself “Is she trying to decide to mention the limited cooking that is in skyrim, or is she going to talk about that cannibal quest where you prepare the ‘meal’?”.
    Silly me, she was just wondering if poisoning counted as cooking. It does, but only if you do it by mistake.

    But yeah there is cooking in Skyrim, it can even require some rather rare ingredients, but I don’t think any other part of the game ever interacts with it. Not even so much as a fetch quest to make some dude his dinner, which is surprising for a game that has you fetch a dude a beer to become a Thane.

    Well at least if Josh decides to walk back with all that gear the whirlwind shout could speed it up. I say could because I assumed he delayed leveling up so that he could make use of how to brings you to full health, but then he didn’t do that. A poor craftsman blames their tools, Josh forgets he has them.

    1. bucaneer says:

      I think Mumbles was referring to the Dark Brotherhood quest where you pose as The Gourmet to poison a certain somebody. It uses dialog instead of the cooking interface though.

      1. Artur CalDazar says:

        Yeah that’s what I mean, even when the game has you actually do cooking, it doesn’t make use of the cooking system.

        Which is a shame, I like it.

    2. Trix2000 says:

      I spent my entire first playthrough not realizing that cooking was even a thing. The I happened to look at a cooking pot in my second playthrough and was all MIND BLOWN.

      …Except I didn’t really need it anyways since I was already incredibly overpowered again. Smithing is so broken.

    3. Mumbles says:

      When I brought it up my mind was like SPOILERS. SPOILERS. ALSO YOU DON’T REALLY COOK, SO. which explains me talking like i kinda forgot what i was saying.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You joke about litter boxes in cat society,but the truth is,if cat people were actually real,they would invent toilets long before ape people.And of course,they would be slavers,living in extravagant mansions.

    Its kind of odd that every game that introduces cat people usually portrays them as dog people(subservient,living in poverty and tribalism).

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I think Josh may be right about catching arrows midair.If you pause at 12:19 you can clearly see it says “take steel arrow”,while it is flying in front of his face.So has anyone tried this to see if it actually works?That would be so awesome.

    1. Hal says:

      I’m willing to bet it’s possible if you use the “Slow Time” shout.

    2. Raygereio says:

      Yep. You can catch an arrow in midair. You could do this Oblivion as well if I recal right. This is possible because mechanically the arrow you see flying through the air is the exact same one as the arrow that’s lying on the ground.

      In practice though it is pretty much impossible to do reliable in combat unless you use the Slow Time shout.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        So, a mod that auto-looted anything nearby would also make you impervious to arrow attack? Neat!

  24. Nick-B says:

    I had NO idea you can mine from ores by equipping a pick and whacking it….

    1. Hitch says:

      Yeah, Josh demonstrated and explained that a few episodes ago. I tried it. It works and may be slightly faster, but also, somewhat contradictorily, more tedious.

  25. A companion is always a issue, somebody mentioned Alyx from Half Life but she is more a temporary sidekick than a companion and is written as such.

    Others here mentioned KOTOR and New Vegas and those are probably close to a good companion (or life partner, some of the companion quest/sideplots to imply they end up as a life partner), like Bastila in KOTOR.
    Dragon Age: Origins (with all the extras) does flesh out Morrigan quite well. I also think Mass Effect trilogy and Tali manages to do the same.

    Their “companion” AI is pretty ok was well.

    The difference between those companions and Skyrim’s though is that in Skyrim they are not written/planned to accompany the player character though the main plot, they may have their own NPC quest/sideplot, but beyond that nothing.

    Skyrims companions are on the line between random mercenary mook for hire and a true companion.

    Anyway, then there is the AI of a companion, in most games (those mentioned) the companion AI get tested pretty well, there is is usually more scripting involved as well.

    But for a generic companion (i.e. “I shall send a soldier to aid you” variant) it is important that the companion do not die too fast (or is marked essential etc. as in Skyrim.)
    But the companion must not out damage the player (you really do not want the NPC killstealing).
    THe NPC should stay to the side or behind the player.
    THe NPC should not run off and chase enemies but follow the player’s orders and protect them.

    Most games that have companions do let you customize how a companion behaves and their role. That that listed above should always be possible.
    And a companion should be given some extra CPU cycles for path finding and similar.

    Skyrim is odd at times, as Josh mentioned during a earlier ep, it’s weird when a horse goes all berseker and charges at enemies.
    It as silly as super eyed guards (you travel to the other side of the world and “There he is!” it’s like they sent out a bolo to all mobile phones or something, just weird).
    But I’m getting sidetracked…

    Anyway, a well made NPC companion will let you immerse yourself in a way that it feels like you are playing a RPG with somebody else.

    When the companion character says, “I don’t like it here, maybe we shouldn’t do this!” and you actually stop to think about it for a moment, then that is a well made companion, just for an instance you forgot you where playing a game and you forgot that the companion was a NPC, but instead they where a believable character.

  26. Paul Spooner says:

    That is pretty cool. It’s like the game is built on a sketch, and they included the sketch in the game. Is it the same height map as the map from any other games? Perhaps this indicates that there exists some “master map” that got left in?

    EDIT: Um… where’s the comment I was responding to? Did I step on it? What just happened?
    It was something about how the Skyrim heightmap includes most of Tamriel, with a link to an article and everything… I can’t see where it went though.

    1. Humanoid says:

      My guess is that an edit to it resulted in it being shoved in the moderation queue. Apparently editing a comment is vetted in the same was as posting a new comment, so if you trip it, it’ll disappear until approved.

  27. Tse says:

    Ah, Byzantium. We’ve had a long and bloody history with those guys. The dream of our rulers was to capture Constantinople, which we sorta did in 718, but it was as Byzantine allies, not as conquerors.

    1. Tse says:

      Aaand I commented on the wrong episode. Sorry for that.

  28. Alexander says:

    I am from the future! The Lego Movie Batman is still the best Batman.

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