Skyrim EP19: Bottle Fairy

 By Shamus Apr 2, 2014 140 comments


Link (YouTube)

I love how Kelly Mumbles and I lament that the Homestarrunner site is dead, and then two days after the recording we get the first new entry in three years. High five, Mumbles.

Next week we’re just going to play the Strong Bad game and do nothing but bitch about how long it’s been since the last Strong Bad email. Maybe we can jump-start the site again.

Ruminations on Homestar Runner follows:

It’s actually hard to introduce people to Homestar Runner these days. The jokes mostly stem from this fractally complex meta-lore that grew over the years. The team would make new versions of existing characters as part of a one-off joke. Teenage versions of the characters. Anime versions. Mid-90′s “edgy” re-designs. Comic book version. Vaudeville version. Storybook version. Then the joke characters would grow in complexity until they had a little world of their own. Then there would be a joke that created a crossover between the worlds, or made a new spinoff within the spinoff, or whatever. The jokes are impenetrable to people who don’t understand the origins and lineage of all these characters. Imagine a version of the Star Wars universe that you couldn’t follow unless you were familiar with all the movies, the novels, the 80′s cartoons, the videogames, the arcade games, and the comic books.

The longer the site ran, the more rewarding it was for longtime fans and the more impenetrable it was to outsiders.

So obviously the way to experience the site is chronologically, right? Except, there’s no easy way to do that. The Strong Bad Emails form a nice orderly numbered progression, but they often make references to the holiday specials or one-off toons that aren’t part of any series. I’m not even sure how you’d go about watching the site in order. The wiki would certainly help, but you’d still need to jump around quite a bit and understand the different types of toons and when they tended to appear.

Making matters worse is that a lot of the old toons are pretty rough by today’s standards. They were amazing in 2001 when animated, voiced content was hard to come by and the net didn’t really have the infrastructure for instantaneous video delivery. They’re much less impressive in a post-YouTube world.

I’d love to know how the Strong Bad videogame went over with people unfamiliar with the site. My guess is that the whole thing would feel like random nonsense, but I don’t know. It’s very hard to look at this through the eyes of an outsider.


A Hundred!2020We've got 140 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.


  1. imtoolazy says:

    Chris watched Kenshin???

    And he’s a Cowboy Bebop fan, and he mentions ‘harem anime’, so like…how much do you know (about anime), Chris, how much do you know????

    (i.e. What’ve you watched?)

    • Chris says:

      Some high schoolers get piercings and wear leather to fit in. Other kids join sports teams. I got real into anime. From 1999 until 2004 or so, anyways. I dunno. It was a phase, really – I just happened to be a geeky kid in high school as the Anime bubble/Renaissance of the late 90′s/early 2000′s played out in geeky circles.

      I never had the hardcore xenophilic fetishism of Japanese culture some of my friends got. I never wanted to move to or even visit Japan, I didn’t long for an Asian girlfriend. But I mean, I watched Trigun, Kenshin, FLCL, Hellsing, and Cowboy Bebop in high school. I got excited by Cartoon Network putting on Tenshii Muyo and Dragon Ball Z when I got home from school, and later all the stuff they did with Big-O and other animes early in Adult Swim’s run. And by the time college rolled around and I suddenly had access to high speed internet I was watching pirated fansubs of Full Metal Alchemist and Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar.

      And then slowly I sort of grew out of that crowd. I started getting more and more into game dev and design and watched less and less anime. Meanwhile, the people who were real into visiting Japan and eating sushi for every meal or whatever drifted away to their various places in life. Those that stayed remained so deeply into Japan that they were watching and ardently defending animes I couldn’t stand like Naruto or Inuyasha, and as a result my interested just kept waning.

      Cowboy Bebop still holds a special place in my heart – it’s a gorgeous, moving work that helped me through some dark times in high school – but otherwise anime isn’t a scene I’ve really returned to in over a decade, I’m afraid. I think the last anime I’ve even seen bits of that I’ve enjoyed was Abenobashi.

        • Adam says:

          It’s times like these I wish Shamus would implement some way of +1-ing or “like”-ing comments here, because that’s basically the only purpose this comment serves. I’m +1-ing this whole comment thread.

      • TheAngryMongoose says:

        “Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar.”
        Why would you do that to yourself?

        • Chris says:

          A) It was the fansub which was waaaaaay better than the trash dub that got released a few years later.

          B) It actually had a really pretty soundtrack that I still listen to sometimes! And I liked the pre-World War 1 Germany thing they had going on, it was a really pretty city with none of the suuuuper creepy undertones of something like this.

          C) It’s cute fluff, which I think worked for me in response to how OMG SRS everyone else was taking their anime. It was also sort of my first exposure to a show based around the idea – other anime series may have glimpses into that sort of chibi cutesy stuff as a reaction shot or cutaway gag, but this was my first full-blown exposure to a show based around it. And that novelty helped.

          D) I had an e-relationship with a girl I was sweet on who also dug the show, so I kept up with it to talk to her.

          Incidentally, I also watched Bottle Fairy, which, hey, is the name of this Spoiler Warning Episode!

          • Shamus says:

            Related:

            http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=278

            Pretty sure we’re talking about the same show.

            • Phantos says:

              As much as I miss when you’d would write about dem animoos, I can’t really blame you. The selection hasn’t been that great in recent years. I don’t know if I was ever obsessed with, or even a part of that “scene”, and I don’t think it’s a matter of outgrowing it, like a fad. But very few japanese cartoons really interest me any more.

              Part of their appeal growing up was that they seemed so different and less homogenized than western cartoons. But I guess once you notice that anime has it’s own tropes and cliches, the appeal starts to wear off.

            • Chris says:

              Yes! I really adored it. It was fluffy and cutesy but it tugged at my heart strings all the same and it was absolutely gorgeous and had a wonderful soundtrack.

              • Axe Armor says:

                What the heck, did everyone watch this? I know I’ve seen about half of it, but I have no idea how I found it or why I watched it.

                I watched Bottle Fairy too. Why?

          • MadHiro says:

            I, er, wow. Barbarossa. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. There ain’t much about this that doesn’t strike me as disgusting. I’m fairly certain that project leaves ‘creepy undertones’ behind and just slaps the ‘creepy overtones’ onto the table and says,” Well, here you go.”

            • Grudgeal says:

              It really says a lot about Japanese attitudes towards the war as opposed to the German ones, doesn’t it? I think that game might actually be illegal under German law due to displays of Nazi symbols in a non-educational, non-anti-nazistic context, just to rub in the irony.

      • Annikai says:

        You reference Kenshin and Army of Darkness. Are you just specifically making the show for me now? My experience basically mirrors yours though. Every now and then I try to find something new to get into with only middling success. So far the only anime to keep my interest was Madoka and Eden of the East.

      • Henson says:

        Yeah, my anime watching has gone down a lot, too (and thank god. I don’t know if I’d be able to plough through another 200-300 episodes of Naruto, which I FULLY admit is mediocre). TV series are such a timesink; I usually would rather be spending that time playing games. Or watching Spoiler Warning!

        I still watch a lot of anime movies, though, like Wolf Children or Sword of the Stranger. There is a lot of really high quality work out there, and it scratches the itch fairly well.

        • Mintskittle says:

          I pretty much stopped watching anime to focus my dwindling free time more on gaming. Occasionally I’ll pull something out that I’ve watched before and play it in the background while I game, but even that is happening less and less.

          • Daimbert says:

            I actually came to anime late — I was already working and had been for ages — and part of the reason for that was gaming: I had the original .hack games which came with short anime episodes due to the push to cross media, and then bought .hack//Sign and found that it had great characters. I also found an anime store that rented anime, and watching and liked Record of Lodoss War (which I’d love to buy somewhere), Vampire Princess Miyu (which was VERY dark) and Read or Die (which Shamus didn’t like anywhere near as much). A cable channel here also ran Yu-Gi-Oh! and Sailor Moon for a while. Also, I had the anime channel on cable for a while, and liked Mythical Detective Loki.

            I just recently picked up a new anime cycling back to video gaming: Persona 4: The Animation, based on the game that I played and loved on the PS2 and have now spent about 100 hours in on the VITA version. I watched the anime twice in about a week or two, and could watch it again.

            • Trix2000 says:

              The Persona 4 anime is AMAZING, even disregarding it being about one of my favorite games. Had its hilarious moments too, especially with how they characterized Yu.

              • Daimbert says:

                It’s also an incredibly good example of how to convert a video game into an anime: yes, it changes things and leaves out things that I liked, but it converts P4 about as well as you possibly could, and even adds some things of its own.

                And I agree about the funny moments, and especially soem of Yu’s lines.

          • Same. I used to watch a lot of anime as a child. Now, I don’t watch it at all.

            Nothing against anime, I just don’t have the time anymore.

      • CraigM says:

        Wow, Chris, you pretty much nailed me here. Only difference I suppose would be remove the bit about high school, and place it all into college. Same series, same reasons I quite watching. Admittedly Cowboy Bebop was what introduced me to the whole… however you’d phrase it (genre is too restricting as there are several within anime, broader cultural show style doesn’t quite roll off the tongue though either).

        I highly doubt I would have gotten quite as into Anime were it not for the Bebop soundtrack either. Having grown up playing instruments, particularly loving trombone in jazz bands, I loved it. It remains, to this day, the only soundtrack to any show I’ve ever listened to outside of the show. For context the only movie soundtrack is Lord of the Rings, and games are Bastion and The Black Mages versions of Final Fantasy. In other words I don’t do soundtracks, so that’s high praise for Cowboy Bebop from me.

      • Jabrwock says:

        Crunchyroll makes it easier to tolerate series like Naruto which switch from “A-plot” to “B-plot”. So you can take a few months off, then skip the “B-plot” episodes.

        However unless the A-plot brings you back in, it can be hard to start watching again. That’s why I stopped watching Bleach, the repetitiveness (Ichigo has to go train to defeat the next bad guy, rinse and repeat) got to me.

  2. Spammy says:

    I really enjoyed Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, even though I had never really watched any of the animations (Save for the Trogdor one), and still haven’t really watched any of them. To an extent I think I have an ability to go along with jokes so long as the jokes are funny, even if I’m not familiar with the base material. For a second example, I’ve never watched any of the MLP stuff, but I can still laugh at the fan comics/jokes/images stuff.

    So… get someone to play the SBCG4AP games then?

    • Micamo says:

      My first exposure to Homestar Runner was through the Strong Bad game, and I loved it. It got me into watching the animations on the site (though I can’t say I’ve seen them all) and I never felt at all like I was missing something or that I couldn’t follow the jokes, and I was essentially just watching them in a random order. I think Shamus is either overestimating the number of in-jokes there were, or underestimating how enjoyable they are even divorced from the context.

      • Lisa says:

        I came to Homestar Runner through the Strong Bad game as well. Though even after that I barely watched anything on the site itself.I bought it because it was Telltale and I’d enjoyed everything else they’d done.
        So I was a complete n00b. I’m not sure if they pitched it just right to appeal to both new and old crowds, or if perhaps the material itself is just easily accessible if you have the right kind of sense of humour. Whatever the reason, it was funny, and silly, and stupid and a lot of fun!

  3. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I love that in the context of the game’s story, no Khajiit are allowed in the cities partly because of their reputation. So your dragonborn character is the ONLY Khajiit that regularly gets to enter the holds. But in this lets play thats Reginald Catbert and he confirms all the worst fears Nords have about Khajiit.

    Reginald Catbert has set back Khajiit civil rights in Skyrim by decades if not centuries.

    EDIT: Like the new enlightened attitude is going to be “Cmon, not all Khajiit are child murderers, most are just thieves and skooma dealers.”

    • lucky7 says:

      I thought it’d be more of a fear/respect thing. “Don’t mess with that Khajiit, man. He could kill all of us!”

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Wouldn’t work in the walled holds. Besides, while Reginald is a pretty competent fighter, the guards do eventually overwhelm him. And that reputation only helps him (to the extent it even helps) because they already know that not every Khajiit is a badass.

        In fact I think it would be a good gameplay mechanic in general to lock the gates on any walled hold where you have a bounty.
        Maybe with an option to be able to sneak in through a sewer.

        • lucky7 says:

          True, and interesting *writes down on mod bucket list*. I was thinking more groups of travelers.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Yeah, I think the fame or infamy mechanic (its there, it just doesn’t get used) could be better leveraged against the NPC’s aggressiveness/fearfulness score (which is also there but is annoyingly always set to a fairly aggressive setting).

            Interestingly, if you use Open Cities and have the full Bend Will shout, that would be a whole new way of getting into the cities. Imagine landing right next to Proudspire on your dragon.

        • Humanoid says:

          Suggesting a sewer level should be a crime punishable by flogging.

          Besides, cats can climb walls.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            The whole point is for the means of entering the city to be unpleasant and inconvenient so that the option is there if you really just want to be a criminal but there is at least an incentive to make restitution so you can walk through the front gates again.

  4. TMTVL says:

    Yeah, there are no marriageable cat people. Bethesda hates cats.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Maybe they just wanted to avoid the creepy implications of furry or anthro marriage. Deviant Art and others have ruined anthropomorphic animals.

      (I say “And others” because I fully acknowledge that I don’t have intimate working knowledge of the ins and outs of that subculture. And I only mean to say that its ruined it for people who aren’t into that and I don’t mean to attack the good people of that community, I just want to make a joke and not have the chronically offended ruin it. [So I guess I've preruined my joke, so there!!])

      Oh and to clarify, I believe Reginald can marry all the usual eligible marriage candidates (its just that none of the marriage candidates are Khajiit). Which I guess undermines my point about Bethesda trying to avoid creepy furry love.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Do khajiit even practice or care about marriage? Especially one run under Nord/Maran practices?

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Thats a good point. They’re nomadic (at least in Skyrim, I don’t know what they’re like elsewhere, heh, elsewhere, that wasn’t on purpose). And they travel together in packs. What would marriage even mean to them?

        • krellen says:

          My Khajiit got married because she needed someone to look after the sociological experiment children she adopted. She doesn’t really consider them “family” or anything.

          I mean, this is a cat that relishes the challenge of murdering entire bandit camps unseen and eats her victims. She’s not a person, she’s a demonkitty.

    • ET says:

      So…they let you marry lizards in the game, but not cat people? ^^;

  5. Mr Mister says:

    I played the Strong bad games without knowing anything about the universe. I think the games do a very good job at introducing the established characters. That is what adventure games do best right? Character and world building.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The best way to introduce someone to homestar runner is with the shapeshifting sbemail.

  7. Phantos says:

    The Jarl’s assistant walks into a wall, while the player is trapped in a boring, wooden exposition dump.

    Everyone gives Skyrim their GOTY.

    I die a little, inside.

    • Hal says:

      Yeah, sometimes the AI is . . . bizarre.

      I’m playing through the Dark Brotherhood quest line right now. I was sent to Markarth to get orders from a girl there who wants an ex-lover killed. I approached the girl on some stairs outside the Temple of Dibella, and we hashed out the details of the assassination.

      Meanwhile, a guard is making his regular patrol route, but because we are blocking the path of this narrow stairway, he is pacing back and forth in my locked perspective for the entire conversation. And, of course, he is locking eyes with me every time he passes through the frame.

      Utterly bizarre.

      • “Have you been Cloud District? Oh who am I kidding, of course you haven’t.”

        Yes, that’s lovely. But in case you didn’t notice, I’m talking to a grieving mother who is missing her son, now buzz off!

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait…Mumbles’s name is Kelly?Well that explains a lot.

    • Phantos says:

      I honestly expected her name to be Kate or Katie. Because that is the first name of every girl I’ve ever met, seen or heard a vague description of. Any time I read about or talk to or watch a video of a lady who uses an online handle or stage name, they always turn out to be named Kate.

      It turns out there are no Julies, or Samanthas or Maries. Only Kate.

      I went to bite into a potato chip, only to find it was Kate.

      I looked to my cats for comfort, but upon closer inspection, they were all Kates.

      In fear, I ran from my home. But when I looked down at the soil of my home country, I realized there never was a Canada. The whole thing is just Kates. Kates piled on top of Kates, orbiting a star that is itself simply a massive gathering of Kates in Outer Kate.

      KATES! KATES EVERYWHERE!!!

    • The Rocketeer says:

      This was the crux of all the jokes about Yeoman Kelly Chambers back in the ME2 season.

      Remembering that, back in our brief collective fascination with Guild Wars 2, I found a really pretty green dye called “Kelly” and sent it to her. She just about flipped! I think I heard later that green is also her favorite color, but I’m kind of hazy on that.

      Now I realize this sounds sort of obsessive… I swear I’m not stalking you, Mumbles!

    • Hitch says:

      This was not known information? I swear I remember Rutskarn taunting her by calling her Smelly Kelly.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Huh,I thought my “question” was obvious.

      Errr,I mean “Troll quota fulfilled”.

  9. Greg says:

    Noooooo! Not the greatsword critical perk! Last I checked (admittedly a while ago so I might be misremembering), the critical perks in Skyrim only take into account the weapon’s base damage, not added damage from perks or blacksmithing, so they’re essentially useless.

    I am fully prepared to eat my words if I am misinformed on this, though.

  10. Seriem says:

    As a Polish guy I must protest. Cabbage stew has a lot of interesting flavours and source of much enjoyment :)

    • Tse says:

      Not if you use nothing but a head of cabbage and a pile of salt.
      EDIT: Well, you can make sauerkraut with these ingredients, but it would take a lot of time.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Indeed.It encompasses a wide spectrum of flavors from bland to vomit inducing.

    • Shamus says:

      Context: My wife and I both come from mostly-Polish families, and as we recorded this episode she had a crock pot full of cabbage cooking. (Although she had meat in it.) I’ve always found our Polish cuisine to be incredibly dull, aside from the meats. (I favor Mexican and Asian, myself.)

      This may be related to the fact that I have almost no sense of smell, so food needs to be really spicy and fatty before I can taste it.

      • Seriem says:

        I forgot to include ” :P “, and so my post sounded way to serious. If you want not bland cabbage dish you should try frying it with some bangers (sasusages? not sure if there is any difference). For a sauce use a bit of bear (stock cube for non-alcoholic version, but it won’t be very polish of you :) ) with honey and garlic. Then put it into oven for 25 minutes 200C/400F. It is way less bland.

        And now I notice that I’m giving cabbage recipes in comment section of Spoiler Warning… What is wrong with me :P

      • ET says:

        Internet high-five!
        I too have a dulled sense of smell/taste.

        I had nose surgery*, which kind-of helped, but I still taste things less than other people.
        It’s hard to know how much however, since my enjoyment of a food is based on the cost of food too, to a greater extent than most people, and definitely more than “foodies” like my one friend who loves going to the yearly food festival in town.
        Me, I’m all like…meh I’ll go if somebody pays for half of my food.
        Or I could stay home and play five videogames, and eat five hamburgers with extra salt, for the same price as one burger over there. :P

        EDIT:
        I forgot to say:
        Fried cabbage with salt is friggin’ awesome, when you’re hungry.
        Used to cook that and hotdogs on the farm, when we were visiting dag at harvest.
        Hell, it even tastes good in the city! :)

        * Deviated septum, plus weird shape/wrinkles or something? Whatever I breathe slightly easier now. :)

      • evileeyore says:

        Okay now, Gołąbki are frikkin awesome!

        Golumpki as it’s known here in the States, or ‘stuffed cabbage’.

      • Dragmire says:

        Hmmm, I wonder if this is a common issue. My sense of smell and taste is also rather dull. As a result, many foods I enjoy are dependent on texture rather than taste.

      • SlothfulCobra says:

        Yeah, Poland’s one of those places that developed its local cuisine off of maximizing food stores and protein intake for long winters. It’s the places that were historically big centers of trade and near coasts that have the more “exciting” food. That way they can get fresh meats and plenty of spices to prepare them.

        • Having access to spices doesn’t mean you get awesome cuisine. As some might remember when he appeared on the pre-Stewart Daily Show, John Cleese was hit with the host’s “five questions,” and this was one:

          “British food. Why does it suck?”
          “Well, look. We had an Empire to run…”

    • StashAugustine says:

      I am roughly equal parts Polish, German, and Irish, and I still say anything involving cabbage is terrible. (Although pierogies are the shit.)

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,why are you constantly submitting to Mumbles?You are the one playing the game,so she cant dispose of you like she did with Rutskarn.Be a man,shoot a fox,make a lady cry.

  12. Raygereio says:

    Anyone want to take a bet as to what not-that-great greatsword is Josh going to use? Let the speculation begin!
    Personally I’m going with the Bloodskal blade.

    Also @Spoiler Warning crew:
    Completing the Civil War quest line means you won’t get the Season Unending thing during the main quest. It’s not a great quest (what quest in Skyrim is?), but it is kinda interesting and maybe worth showing.

    • Geek Knowledge Failure says:

      This is something I’ve been wanting to ask them to do, to finish the Civil War questline before they fight Alduin the first time in the main quest.
      If you don’t complete the Civil War, you have to do Season Unending, and Esbern is the one that sends you after Odahviing.

      But! If you have completed that questline when you fight Alduin, you get the quest from Paarthurnax, and how many of us have actually heard his dialog for that? Because it’s so much better than listening to those boring old men, talking in their bored tones.

    • hborrgg says:

      My guess is that it’s going to be a regular steel greatsword with a +10 frost damage enchantment. *fingers crossed*

      I think I’d also be in favor of showing the seasons unending quest, if only because it’s another case where the game at least tries to do something interesting before falling flat on its face.

      Only downside is that Josh can’t kill Paarthurnax if he want’s to do that quest.

    • Henson says:

      More like Exposition Unending. That peace council scene was one of the most boring things I have seen in a video game. The whole ‘two pig-headed leaders brought to their senses by the voice of reason (Esbern)’ done ala paint-by-numbers. Hitting all the predictable story beats. So loooong, so wordy. Not just wordy: Skyrim wordy. And you, being forced to SIT THERE and behave through the whole goddamn thing.

      This, after Balgruuf had the nerve to make me go right back and climb that mountain immediately after I just came down. This quest wasn’t just bad. This quest hurt me.

      I so hope they do it for Spoiler Warning. I need them to tear it to shreds. I MUST SHARE MY PAIN.

      • Ugh. I do hate how this game relies exclusively on dialog to tell its story. It results in some of the most boring monologuing I’ve ever heard.

        Also, this quest makes me feel bad for those who refuse to fast travel, because that makes an otherwise 5 minute quest take so much longer.

    • Grudgeal says:

      The Ebony Blade, I presume. It’s not terribly good but it is fun, and you boost its power by shanking people who trust you.

  13. DIN aDN says:

    Fun fact: I don’t know if you can get her to do so anyway, but if you do the quest in morthal before you do the embassy quest, the jarl will agree to cause a distraction at the dinner, which is somewhat amusing.

  14. Thomas says:

    So we’ve reached the point where developers can successfully create multiple factions who all suck.

    I feel like we need to break out onto the next level, multiple factions… who all seem to actually be good. Revolutionary stuff I know. It be nice to have discussions about which teams methods were more effective at helping than which one murdered less children.

    Speaking of which, I think I’d really dig a game where the factions all told you horrible stories about the others. Those guys are racist, those guys allow slaves, and then you travel to those factions and actually they’re all normal nice people telling the same sort of stories about the others.

    • Thomas says:

      It’s something about the balance. There _are_ good reasons to support Mr House or the NCR or even the Legion but somehow they’ve got it so that people end up saying ‘well at least Mr House isn’t inefficient, corrupt or a slaver’

      • Slothdor says:

        Totally. I went with House because he was promising a booming economy to fuel scientific rediscovery and space colonization, and being basically a brain in a jar, he’s both long lived enough to see it through, and detached enough that he’s got no reason to blow his power on personal pleasures, window dressings of old world vegas and robo-concubine aside.

        Yeah, he’s an overbearing, smug autocrat, but like he says “Throwing away the future of humanity over FEELINGS? Stupid!”

        Go Team House!

        • Phantos says:

          I might have gone along with Mr. House, if he hadn’t asked me to kill the Brotherhood of Steel. Even though me and the Brotherhood left on bad terms, I couldn’t do that to Veronica.

          It wasn’t easy betraying Odo, but I’m glad Obsidian gave me the option, instead of forcing me to go along with orders I didn’t agree with.

          • Slothdor says:

            I knooow I totally had the same conflict. Veronica was my companion, too. tough decision, but “for the good of the world and all that.” After that, my character spent a week blind drunk at the atomic wrangler before meeting Arcade and learning to adventure again. very touching.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      I’m always disappointed when games try for ‘moral ambiguity’, and end up going with, ‘everyone on each side of the conflict is a total bastard and you were an idiot for ever getting involved’. Bioshock Infinite did this, and so did Dragon Age 2 to an extent. Would it really be so difficult have two or more factions with understandable but opposing motivations who didn’t turn out to be totally evil at some point?

      • Phantos says:

        I think Dragon Age 2′s take on it could have worked, if they had just made the Jerks be whoever the player doesn’t side with. Maybe they could have made it so the final boss is different depending on where your allegiances lie. Maybe then it wouldn’t have felt so rail-roadey, and not come off looking like prejudice was the right answer when it came to the Mages, the Qunari, the elves, and the… everyone.

        Damn it, BioWare…

      • I think Final Fantasy X-2 actually did that fairly well with the Youth League and New Yevon. Both sides have fairly decent points for why they are right, and while there are bad apples on both sides, most people mean well.

        There were even some interesting things they did with it like split up Donna and Bartholameo (spelling?) because they joined separate factions.

        • Thomas says:

          Hah, you’re totally right! When FFX-2 is schooling your game maybe it’s time to think a bit harder.

          I guess it was helped that FFX-2 has a really light tone. It’d be weird for it to become very serious about any of it’s conflicts (and New Yevon can’t get 100% on a first run), but at least it actually had two factions with pretty reasonable viewpoints instead of just making both of them suck.

      • Tizzy says:

        I HATED that aspect of Skyrim. With a passion.

        When they got down to: hey, poor Forsworns unjustly oppressed by their Nord conquerors, it made me want to barf.

  15. Kana says:

    I think this showed why I bailed on Skyrim while Josh was talking to Jarl Lazy. Like, it demands you to use one and only one option to force the plot along. What was even the point of letting the player say anything?

    I lost it at the battle of Whiterun. Couldn’t beat it so I ran off to grab some potions, at which point it said it completed. Assumed it was just a bug, so I went back to talk to the Stormcloak guy (edit: Ulfric! I remember now.) and the dialog is nothing more than him chiding you. And then you get one option, “What do we do next?” No explaining yourself, no backtalk, no mention of everything else you did so far.

    How did this come from the same developer as Fallout 3? As stupid as it got sometimes, you were still pretty much shackled to the plot, but you had plenty of options to express yourself. Everything in Skyrim feels like 1 dialog option to move the plot along, and 5 more that are just generic questions. The lack of self-expression just depresses me.

    Let’s get Obsidian in for Elder Scrolls: New Whiterun or whatever. They made another game for the Fallout universe, lets get one for Elder Scrolls. It’d be hilarious.

    • Thomas says:

      I genuinely want this to happen. I’d be really interested to see what an Obsidian take on an Elder Scrolls game would look like. The post apocalyptic setting is the thing I like the least about Fallout: New Vegas. I’d love to see the same game structure in a world with actual colours

      • Kana says:

        Now that I think about it, I really want the option to say “both of you are idiots, we do this my way” and crown myself High King/Queen of Skyrim. Get the various other Jarls to agree or murder them on the path to glory and take Skyrim by storm. Also shouting, there will be a lot of that.

  16. River Birch says:

    Shamus! Mumbles! Have you seen the April First Homestarrunner cartoon? :o
    Yes
    I mean April 1st, 2014.

  17. Eruanno says:

    Oh man, Ke–Mumbles seems to be in a really good mood for this week of Spoiler Warning. Dis gonna be gud.

  18. hborrgg says:

    Isn’t there a quest where a dark elf ends up using the Nords’ racism to his advantage? He’s on the run from a khajiit assassin sent after him by the Thalmor so he hides out in Windhelm because the Stormcloaks won’t let any cat people in.

    I suppose it makes more sense when the player character isn’t a kahjiit himself.

  19. Act 2 says:

    I know this was recorded a bit in the past, but I want to make sure Shamus found out that Homestar Runner DID update on April Fool’s day.

  20. Dragmire says:

    Ooooohhh, THAT’S why Mumbles was so pissed at Ruts during the Mass Effect 2 season. I can’t believe that flew completely over my head…

  21. sdfq says:

    Cuftbert, what happened to you? Play tag, join the less bad faction, not be a racist…

    You used to be cool, man.

  22. Mintskittle says:

    Want to be the High King of Skyrim? Now you can!

    http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/41087/?

  23. silver Harloe says:

    There are about 25 people on a baseball team, and about 55 on a American football team. Neither sport fields the whole team at once.

  24. Hamilcar says:

    I find that the biggest barrier for Homestar Runner is the voices. It took a while for me to figure out what StrongBad was saying. I find this is the case with others that I show it to.

  25. Mumbles says:

    omfg we did it shamu we fixed the internet

  26. Slothdor says:

    Blah, you keep criticizing the Empire for executing Roggvir! I have to take issue with that!

    You say that they’re killing some guard who just let Ulfric in and had no reason to bar him – that’s patently not true!

    Roggvir opened the gates to let Ulfric ESCAPE after he killed the king! and it’s not a matter of his ignorance – right before they lop his head off, he’s talking about how he’s proud to have done it, and how he thinks Ulfric was in the right… Sure, an execution is a gruesome first impression of the Empire, but if they HAVE executions, how is accessory to murder and high treason not deserving?

    Bugged me, is all.

    • Flock of Panthers says:

      When it’s a Nord law that jarls can challenge the king in personal combat?

      And when the Imperials are basically saying “nope. No, I don’t care about your sovereign laws, publicly execute the guard who had the temerity to not be a lawyer, failing to resolve a conflict of contradictory laws in the heat of the moment”

      This is on top of the fact that (in a fantasy game where political power equates to character level) I don’t think you can honestly expect a town guardsmen to stop a jarl who has the voice.
      And there’s the fact that when/if YOU murder a visiting dignitary in the town (both times) there isn’t a barred gate, there’s a guardsmen near that quarter of the city.

      We only see two executions in this game. Both are by the imperial military, both are ethically and legally questionable (which is to say, it doesn’t seem like a trial occurred, just a captain decided you/rogvir should probably die anyway). In both cases, I don’t really believe it achieved anything, and was motivated primarily by an imperial officer getting uppity about showing off their authority.

      As a side note. Let’s forget the guy manning the toll booth for a second.
      Where was the high king’s huscarl? Honour guard? Kingsguard?
      Honestly I don’t think this was deliberately written that way, but rogvir is a sacrificial lamb. Someone we can kill as an item on our political agenda, but who isn’t valuable to us in someway, like the dozen trained soldiers that were charged with, you know, guarding the kings life.

      Allllll of that aside, I still side imperial, but that’s a “don’t fight in front of the thalmor, guys”

      • Slothdor says:

        Wasn’t the whole “fight the high king in noble single combat” thing an ANCIENT Nord custom? Considering the Empire has been the ruling power in Skyrim since Tiber Septim, I took it as given that the Imperials have a solid grasp of law in Skyrim. Just because dueling has a proud history and tradition doesn’t make it legal. If you were to claim that shooting your neighbor and then say it wasn’t murder because you challenged him to a duel, you would STILL be tried for murder.

        It makes sense to me that Ulfric and his followers would CLAIM it was legal, since they’re self-righteous jackasses who have built an army out of holding everything Nord as superior, but that doesn’t justify breaking the more contemporary laws. Besides, did Torryg ever ACCEPT the duel? Did he know Ulfric had the voice? The whole thing about it being a “duel” stinks of revisionist propaganda to me.

        Maybe the confusion comes down to a difference of perceptions about how the whole thing went down, and that comes down to a major problem with Skyrim – there’s no meat to the setting or events to explore. You can’t ask anyone for more detail about this HUGE event that set off major conflict, like, say, like you said – where was Torryg’s staff and guards and housecarl through all of this? Did they let Ulfric walk away, or did he hop off a balcony to make a break for the gates after they tried to arrest him for killing Torryg? By “Opening the gate,” did they mean that Ulfric WAS arrested, then Roggvir sprung him? These are all POSSIBLE in the narrow explanation that the game offers us… but there’s no way to get more informed, and thus no way to make a real choice about who is right and who is wrong.

        Also, yeah, mostly I sided with the Empire because what the hell did Ulfric want the empire to do? Let the Thalmor wipe them out? The Empire doesn’t like the restriction on Talos worship any more than the Nords – he’s their friggin’ FOUNDER. But, the Stormcloaks are willing to declare independence… so long as they have the Empire between them and the Thalmor.

        Blah, I say, Blah.

        • Artur CalDazar says:

          It is an old custom, but so is the way they elect their High King, that doesn’t make it invalid. The imperials clearly dont care about the laws of skyrim, officers don’t even bother to get titles correct. Rikkes most important function is to keep the General informed about what Nords care about, because he doesn’t understand them.
          People who don’t support Ulfric accept the tradition, in this video you see a Jarl who opposes Ulfric totally willing to accept a challenge if Ulfric were to show up and give it. The High King clearly accepted its validity since he accepted the duel, we know this from talking to people that were there.

          • I think a lot of the confusion is coming from the fact that even if all the information is there in the game, it’s not something that’s even remotely brought up during the completion of the quest, and so many people miss it.

            As a result, we’re all looking at this situation with different pieces of the puzzle missing and none of us have completely know what happened.

            And this is assuming that Bethesda actually bothered to put it all in the game, which I’m not entirely convinced is the case.

            • Flock of Panthers says:

              I don’t think all the information is in there, and it doesn’t help that there is some conflict between how the rest of the game functions and how these two scripted events function.

              I’m not really sure if it qualifies as ludo-narrative dissonance, or just plot holes. But the fact that there isn’t a single crime that you can commit that warrants execution is messy.
              Murder? Thievery? Mass Murder? Assassination? Assassination of very important people? Being a ranking and notorious member of the stormcloaks, waltzing up and talking to General Tullius while wearing stormcloak armour? Fine and a slap on the wrist, or a couple of days/weeks imprisonment (with food and board comped).

              It doesn’t help that the only executions we see are imperial led. I would be much less invested in this argument if we ever saw a Jarl executing a murderer or bandit.
              Hell, make it like a radiant quest. Occasionally it will happen in a town. Thursday night beheading!

              Now for Roggvir, the crime of not forcibly blocking the path of a nobleman is a decent basis for execution.
              We don’t know how the event went down. Somehow he was manning the gate when it happens, but knows what Wulfrik did? They don’t have walkie talkies.
              If he did know, he would only have known what message reached him which could very easily have been “Wulfrik won a duel against the king” and make no mention of cheating with the voice or fighting unfairly.

              Now, trying to execute Wulfric in the intro makes enough sense. Personally I’d rather have the leader of the rebellion symbolically held in chains in an Imperial dungeon rather than Ned Starked, but different strokes for different necks.
              For the PC, I never even felt like you were put on the block because they couldn’t tell if you were a member or not. I always felt like it went like this

              Captain “Execute all of the prisoners”
              Hadvar “But Captain, what about these two, they aren’t prisoners of war they are just civilia-”
              Captain “Don’t you dare question me”

              • Flock of Panthers says:

                Alright, a short one this time.

                Something that might be colouring my opinion: when was the last time we saw the executors as the sympathetic characters in a work of fiction? In any time period or country?

                This is speaking as an Aussie living in the UK, so it might be different elsewhere. Then again we share most of the same movies and folk lore via US films/books/shows.

              • Gordon says:

                I think the big deciding factor on whether the Empire was right” to execute roggvir or not was how Roggvir himself didn’t seem particularly bothered about it. He never really claimed that he didn’t deserve to be executed – he spent his last moments giving his political pitch for Ulfric. He seems happy enough to accept the consequences as they happened.

                If he’d been “Oh, god, please, I didn’t know…! I was just doing my job, he’d killed the high king, how was I supposed to stop him?!” then I would have been much more angry with the empire.

                • Flock Of Panthers says:

                  True. I’m not really arguing that either execution was outright wrong/illegal, I’m arguing it was questionable. Unnamed captain probably wasn’t outside of her rights/jurisdiction, but it was a place where any reasonable autocrat would have at least asked you what you were doing there. Maybe put you in a dungeon and forget about you, but not summarily execute you as a war criminal.

                  And yeah, my argument that the dozen armed guards who failed to stop the king being killed are more culpable than the one guard who assumed the ancient laws that had never been repealed were still valid… would be a lot stronger if he had been blubbering and begging for his life in front of his friends and family.

                  As it is, he showed only about 15% more Nordic stoicism than the horse thief at the beginning.

                  Again, the argument is not ‘the empire, as portrayed, are explicitely wrong to execute these specific people’ but ‘the empire, as portrayed, appear to be riding roughshod over the period/setting equivalent to due process’

                  I think executing the King’s bodyguard -even if the general feeling is that they couldn’t have stopped the duel- would have said more about Nord culture. It would have nicely hand waved how little regard your housecarl has for their own life. Let the bodyguard be utterly stoic, or rage against it. We could have heard a first hand account of the duel, from someone with a motive to lie.
                  I feel that could have been very interesting. I feel like killing the doorman is just a scapegoat.

        • krellen says:

          So, I haven’t gone far in the Dragon quest, and haven’t started the Civil War yet, but so far I’ve honestly seen very little evidence of the Altmer/Thalmor power that supposedly broke the Empire. There’s like one loading screen message saying that they sacked Cyrodiil, but the history I’ve read also seems to say that it was basically a sneak attack that took the Empire completely by surprise; the Altmer didn’t march across the Empire and break them upon the walls of Cyrodiil, but rather suddenly appeared out of nowhere and broke Cyrodiil – and they were, in fact, defeated there, albeit Pyrrhicly.

          Honestly, it feels to me like the Great War mostly cost the Imperial seat, but the other holdings of the Empire were largely untouched, and the power of the Altmer Dominion is largely exaggerated. The Nords might have a point in their claim they don’t need the Empire (Skyrim is surrounded by mountains, which makes it highly defensible, especially if they have a Dragonborn whom can command dragons aiding in their defence; it seems to me the canonical Dragonborn is supposed to be a Nord).

          The threat of the Dominion is entirely stated and never once demonstrated, which calls its veracity into question.

  27. The Rocketeer says:

    I have to say, about the scene with the Dunmer when entering Windhelm: this immediately set me against the Nords. I mean, the Nords have some incredible heroes and some great history, but the Dunmer have been an amazing culture since before the Dunmer even existed, and they have had nothing but awful times for literally centuries by the time this pansy Stormcloak versus Imperials slapfight lit up.

    Even though I’ve never played many Dunmer characters, ever since irreversibly immersing myself in Morrowind, the Dark Elves have been My People (TM), and if you’re going to go against them, especially for some rock-chewing stoopid schoolyard bullying racist crap, I am going to leave your shit in ruins.

  28. Artur CalDazar says:

    Who is Jarl is actually very important. If you side with the empire, they put Maven Blackbrair in charge of Riften. Siding with the empire makes you help Maven Blackbriar. But siding with the Stormcloaks gets rid of the best Jarl in the game so thats the downside there.

    I love how there is a scene of a Jarl planing to accept Legion aid not because he likes the legion but because he plans to make an enemy of their enemy, how he had no choice in accepting the empires treaty and clearly resents it, how he was bribed to lessen that anger.
    And Josh is just rubbing this guys face with a bottle the whole time.

    • It’s implied that even with the old Jarl, Maven still used her steward to manipulate her from behind the scenes. It’s arguable that either way, she controls Riften. (That was far too painful for me to write.)

      On the other hand, siding with the empire ensures that Ulfric dies, so yay for killing the petty racist dictator before he gets too powerful.

  29. Hal says:

    Also, to answer Mumbles’ question, yes, shrines in Oblivion were unavailable if you played an evil character. Mostly.

    The game had two tracks: Fame and Infamy. You gained each from doing good/neutral quests or “evil” quests (Dark Brotherhood and Thieves’ Guild, mainly). As long as your Fame > Infamy, you could use the shrine. Otherwise, you were implored to repent. I recall there being quests you could undertake which would zero out your Infamy, but that may have been added in Knights of the Nine.

    This was really annoying, because the shrines in Oblivion didn’t just remove diseases, they also healed ability score damage. You could really end up in a bad place if you opted to play as a thief or assassin early in the game.

    There was some DLC which added an evil sanctum later, including a shrine to Sithis which could only be used by evil characters (Infamy > Fame).

  30. Don’t all the Jarls have the same throne-pose, both male and female? The laid-back, one-hand-in-the-air semi-recline?

    It’s like they’re part of a hivemind that forgets to change up their physical tics when they’re not in the same room.

  31. Eljacko says:

    Wait, let me get this straight. So Shamus failed to recognize the racism inherent to the culture of the Stormcloaks because he, as a fellow Nord, had a position of elevated respect? Did Bethesda accidentally make an observation about Nord Privilege?

  32. arty says:

    What if, the first three times you talk to a shopkeeper they just say “Greetings, traveler.”
    Then after that
    “Welcome back.”
    Then after the next 10 visits
    “Good to see you again.”
    And you get a 10% discount for visiting them so often. No need for them to tell you their entire fucking life story the first time you meet them, they should just greet you with simple things like this and have the exposition lines as options like “Tell me about your position on the Civil War.”
    Instead of having them say “YOU BETTER NOT BE AN IMPERIAL WE DON’T SERVE IMPERIALS HERE GO AWAY I AM A STORMCLOAK AND LOVE STORMCLOAKS THEY ARE THE COOLEST COOL HAVE YOU HEARD HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT ULFRIC I SERVE HIS SOLDIERS WITH TOP-OF-THE-LINE GEAR WE MIGHT AS WELL JUST DRIVE OUT THOSE DAMNED IMPERIALS AND ALSO ELVES AND ALSO EVERY RACE THAT ISN’T OURS INCLUDING YOUR OWN”
    Then you, an elf sided with the Imperials say “Show me your wares.” and they gladly agree and brag about their low prices.

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