Skyrim EP36: Shffere!

By Shamus
on May 25, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

You know we’re on a roll when we stop complaining about a Bethesda game so we can complain about another, older Bethesda game. Next week we’re getting back on the main quest.

Also, you can tell I was getting tired when we recorded this. Almost everything out of my mouth was a reflexive movie quote, which is a sure sign that my higher functions have shut down and I’ve reverted to some sort of atavistic parrot-like behavior.

If my head had been fully operational, I might have pointed out that the cannibalism intro is about as clumsy as it can be: A random NPC runs up to you, makes a ridiculous assumption, blathers a bunch of exposition that they have no reason to reveal, and your dialog response boils down to a binary “I accept” / “maybe I’ll accept later”.

This is a really fun game, but calling it a role-playing game is like calling Serious Sam a stealth game. Skyrim will let you do anything BUT roleplay.

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  1. Will Riker says:

    “This is a really fun game, but calling it a role-playing game is like calling Serious Sam a stealth game. Skyrim will let you do anything BUT roleplay.”

    I think this is pretty much the key to enjoying Skyrim. When I started playing, I would approach every situation with the question “what would my character do here” but I quickly realized that there’s no room for that. The quests are not there to let you express your character, they’re there to give you content to munch on.

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      No, the quests are there as a framework in which to muck about and discover hilarious bugs.

    • Henson says:

      Skyrim actually allows quite a bit of roleplaying…just not in dialogue, the one place you would most expect it. There are many times I’ve wondered if Elder Scrolls games are better off with the keyword-based dialogue of Oblivion and Morrowind, with some longer dialogue inserted when appropriate.

      As for quests, I find the best way to roleplay is in choosing which ones to complete, which ones to ignore, and which ones to abandon halfway through. Because almost all quest choices do boil down to “take it or leave it”.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        That’s just the thing, though; as someone else pointed out before, there are almost no choices in a given quest to express your character; you simply choose to do the quest, or not do it. And since there are so very few instances of one decision limiting any other decisions, playing a character through quests is determined almost entirely by what you don’t do.

        But that doesn’t feel ‘real;’ those quests are still going to be there, sitting in your questlog, NPC’s going on and on about whatever menial task they won’t accomplish on their own. It’s an artifice of the player, not anything the character or the game world actually recognizes in any way. There’s a fine line between role-playing and make-believe, but that’s jumping it.

        • Will Riker says:

          “But that doesn’t feel ‘real;’ those quests are still going to be there, sitting in your questlog, NPC’s going on and on about whatever menial task they won’t accomplish on their own. It’s an artifice of the player, not anything the character or the game world actually recognizes in any way.”

          Yes, this is exactly why “just don’t do the quest” is not an acceptable answer to the problem. Actually getting feedback is really, really important, and when you decide not to start a quest or abandon a quest halfway through you get absolutely zero feedback on that “decision”. Even having a quest in your quest log creates a powerful psychological drive to finish that quest, and when the game doesn’t give you the ability to resolve the quest in a way that’s in line with your character, that’s incredibly frustrating if you’re trying to actually roleplay.

          • Michael says:

            There’s a hilarious paradox: As a roleplaying environment, Skyrim works best when you metagame the hell out of it and know exactly where you’re going and what you’re going to do once you get there.

            I actually find the game as a more satisfying role-playing environment now that I have ~85% of it squirreled away in some recess of my head… which is not how this stuff should work.

            How sad is it that TESO actually handles role-playing better, while kneecapping your freedom to wander?

            • Tizzy says:

              I’ve been watching some TESO on youtube, and I must say it looks more fun. And freedom to wander is quickly overrated; if you’re having fun, you won’t really feel the need to wander very far afield.

              Ultimately, an easy way to introduce more player agency in Skyrim would be to have the various factions competing for quest outcomes. That wouldn’t change anything to the locations and so on, but would allow you to choose where you stand among competing factions.

              As it is, a tiny minority of quests offer this in Skyrim, and sometimes hamfistedly. E.g., if you decide to wipe out the Dark Brotherhood, you cut yourself off of a huge chunk of quests. You could sidestep this by having the player infiltrate the DB instead. Who knows, it could even be fun, with extra “don’t get your cover blown” quests…

              • Kana says:

                That’s also a reason why I gave up on the main quest really early on in the game. It’s played up like this super important thing… but then nothing happens. You can take a hike or sit in a corner hitting the Wait command for months and nothing happens. Just felt like my actions in it were irrelevant. Alduin’s fine with chillin’ while I go eat people or die to drauger twenty times.

                I mean, yeah there are dragons now, but they don’t really do anything besides murder a few NPCs total (that I noticed). How strange would it be if there were a few more out-there villages that don’t have many guards. If a dragon attacks one, everyone’s dead. You’d just find an empty village with a bunch of dead bodies.

                I don’t know if it should have any quests though, since that’d just be liable to irritate someone or make the main quest feel forced. Just thinking outloud about some more noticeable impact on the world for screwing around.

                Those generic NPC deaths are on your head, Dovahkiin.

            • Tizzy says:

              Also, the lack of freedom to wander means that you won’t be spending your time shuttling back and forth across the map for fragments of conversation just to progress in a ingle quest. Skyrim does that so gratuitously, it’s maddening. The quest to set up the peace talks has my vote as most annoying for that particular aspect.

            • Tharias says:

              I agree that having foreknowledge of the game makes it easier to roleplay. In my current playthrough, I sat down at the character creation screen and thought to myself, what kind of character would kill dragons, chase after a bigger dragon that is practically a god, and generally be a complete sociopath?

              The answer: someone obsessed completely with power, who is doing all these quests to gain power, thus explaining why he will do any quest, no matter how silly or stupid.

      • abs1nth says:

        I completely agree. Saying Skyrim has no roleplaying shows a very limited understanding of the term imo. Roleplaying isn’t only picking dialog choices. It’s about how you play the game. Do you kill everyone on sight, do you try to stealth past people, do you murder civilians, do you rob people, do you craft and sell stuff, what kind of armor are you wearing, what kind of quests do you accept… etc. Not roleplaying, right? It’s something the game enables through it’s open play structure whereas in more linear RPGs not taking advantage of certain mechanics or opportunities would be disincentivized by the linear nature. It’s true though that it feels like in its quest design and the way it shoves every quest in your face the game is really pushing you to be the kind of player that finishes every quest in one playthrough which doesn’t seem appealing to me.

        The only way I could enjoy Skyrim was through roleplaying even though strangely it felt like that approach was often at odds with the game. It does feel like the quests, factions and dungeons are first and foremost content for you to plow through whereas in previous games it always felt like they were trying to show me something about the world and they were there for a reason other than just gameplay content. Skyrim feels a lot more like the Ubisoft approach to open world games: a theme park with different activities. There is almost nothing in Skyrim that the game doesn’t try it’s hardest to show you exists, compare that to Morrowind where all those things were secrets for you to discover but Skyrim seems to be too afraid to let someone on the off chance miss something they made.

        • Lachlan the Mad says:

          The problem I have with this argument is that, broadly speaking, the game doesn’t particularly respond to the “choices” you make. At best, the roleplaying is represented by the dialogue that guards use — e.g. if you have a high Pickpocket skill (presumably implying that you’ve been stealing from a lot of civilians) they’ll say “I find your hand in my pocket, I’m going to cut it off.”

          Now, this is an interesting example of the game reacting to the player, but it’s also completely superficial. The fact that the guards somehow recognise you as a famous pickpocket (which is weird in and of itself, because “famous pickpocket” is something of an oxymoron) doesn’t translate to any change in the guard’s actual behaviour. I guess it’s roleplaying, but in terms of depth, it’s only a tiny bit below the “roleplaying” offered by Dungeon Siege (do you want to kill things with MAGIC or SWORDS?).

          • Humanoid says:

            I feel roleplaying in Skyrim is more or less like roleplaying in chess. You’re free to do it, but don’t bother telling the game/your opponent/the GM, because they won’t care. But you can give your little pieces names, you can act out dialogue for them when they battle it out, and you can make suboptimal choices if you wish if you feel that’d be more in character (but don’t be surprised if it makes the game harder for you).

            • Henson says:

              I don’t think this analogy works, mainly because Chess has a single, unchanging goal and Skyrim has hundreds of different goals, all of them optional.

              Imagine Chess where your only piece is a queen and the board is ten times as large. You could checkmate your opponents’ king (very difficult!), or you could prevent his pawns from promoting, or you could capture only his knights, and none of these goals is inherently ‘better’ than another, nor do any of them mean the end of the game. What would make you choose one goal over another? Would it be so odd to start roleplaying your queen in response to those choices?

              • Humanoid says:

                Eh, you have secondary goals, but in the end it’s still one final goal that’s technically optional to pursue. You’re not technically obligated to win chess, and you’re not technically obligated to try to finish Skyrim. At a stretch you can have secondary goals in chess too, such as ‘holy war’, where you have a sidequest to wipe out the enemy’s bishops. :P

              • Jakale says:

                I think it still mostly works, but, to deal with the issues you bring up, it’s multiple chess games that you can start up at any time, or may even be just put out in front of you and left there to be played or ignored at your will, though there are a few boards where there are tiny little gates set up so you can’t utilize all the pieces you normally could at any given point.

                There’s still always one goal per game: do the thing to get the king and finish the quest.

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              I will admit to sometimes doing this in, for example, x-com games. After a longer game I would have rough backstories and even certain concepts for attitudes of and between certain troopers, though this would affect my actual gameplay very slightly (for example certain soldiers would “prefer” to team up with each other). It does probably help that I tend to play these games on easier difficulty settings so a bit of playing suboptimaly or messing around doesn’t cost me much.

          • abs1nth says:

            The biggest feat of Skyrim is that it allows you to ask “What would my character want to do right now?”. Which isn’t something any other non-Bethesda RPG allows you to do, as in those games that question would be answered mostly on a mechanical level: “I have to rob everyone to get the best gear possible. I still have to do all these quest to get as much XP as possible and then I HAVE to do the main quest.” Skyrim allows you to throw all of that away and just do what fits the story you want to tell with your character.

            The Bioware approach is “How would my character react to this?”. I find telling your own story a far more satisfying and meaningful kind of roleplaying then simply reacting to fixed situations.

            • Flock Of Panthers says:

              I don’t know, I felt like I spent my time in skyrim doing exactly what you listed, and I felt like in mass effect (1), I did a fair bit of independant work (sidequests) because they seemed interesting and like something my characterer would care about.

              In the respect of letting you decide what you feel like doing, Saints Row is a far superior game. I never really felt that the smithing system, as implemented, was any deeper than the Tiger Driving minigame in The Third.
              But I feel like we are just talking about a sandbox, not the ability to play a character.

        • I would tentatively agree as well. Skyrim has very little ‘roleplaying’ in the sense of personality and character – i.e. how your PC reacts to quests and NPCs, unlike say Mass Effect. However, it allows roleplaying of archetypes at a more gameplay level – and allows a very different experience – only based on the systems in place. As an example, I have played ‘roles’ of a kleptomaniac sneak thief, a very cowardly summoner/illusionist, a rampaging berserking Orc and a priest with a fetish for not spilling blood (in the old D&D sense that he wasn’t allowed blades :)). While these aren’t the deepest of personalities, the gameplay really was remarkably different each time. Contrast this with Mass Effect, which allows for much more (although I would argue not that much) freedom to express your PC as an actual person, with views and opinions, but where both narrative and ludic choices have VERY little effect on the majority of gameplay.

          Striking a balance between these two is kinda hard – I would argue that the original Fallouts, Deus Ex and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines succeed, but they are old quite old now. I guess that lately, only Obsidian comes close (especially in New Vegas) to offering a balance of these two types of role-playing.

  2. Michael says:

    Josh, you have to actually tick the miscellaneous tab in addition to the quest in the tab or none of them will actually show up on the map… because Bethesda thinks intuitive UI designs detract from the difficulty or something.

  3. Michael R. says:

    Man, every time Josh shoots a merchant, I keep thinking that we’re in “The Secret Life of Reginald Catbert” and he’s daydreaming about murdering everyone.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,this is really bugging me(no pun intended),but why does attacking a shopkeeper and then reloading reset their gold?Why does just reloading do nothing,but doing something that should not affect the previous save affect it anyway?

    • Ciennas says:

      Maybe the game keeps variables in memory between loads, and attacking the shopkeeper keeps it from remembering gold count because it’s currently tracking hostility.

      Or something like that.

      • Michael says:

        It also only applies to specific merchants. Some script associated with Belethor (probably) goes crazy when you attack him, and that resets his gold when you reload.

        Some of the other merchants will reset their gold if you kill them and reload, but not if you just attack them. (Josh ran into this a while back.) And, as I recall, some are simply unaffected. Their gold won’t reset ahead of schedule regardless what you do.

        • Humanoid says:

          I think a more in-depth discussion of the issue came up in one of the earlier episodes (presumably the first time Josh pulled the stunt). But yeah, the principle is easily demonstrable by the same reset effect working if you skip the murder part but instead of just reloading, quit the game altogether first. So yeah, merchant gold amount have to just be stored in volatile memory, and I guess that value is lost when some sort of “Peaceful NPC” object is deallocated or something. (This sounds like a layman trying to talk in programmer speak, mainly because it is)

      • MichaelGC says:

        Definitely something along those lines, as it’s not just the merchants. I once came across a hut in the middle of nowhere, and being a cautious Dragonborn, quicksaved before investigating. Thus feeling cocky, I sauntered around to the front of the hut, and was immediately cleft in twain by a bandit who’d been quietly sitting there.

        I quickloaded with every intention of giving the hut a wide cowardly berth, at which point Slicey MacCleavesyer (still set to ‘hostile’) came storming around the corner and again indulged his love of efficient murderization. There was no way he could have detected me normally – I was too far away – so somehow the blood rage he’d felt in that abandoned future was strong enough to reach not only back through time, but also across to an alternate reality in which we’d never even met.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      By now I bet Belethor has some sort of save-game traversing form of PTSD that is just getting increasingly worse. Some nights he has a fear too many bottles of Honningbrew Mead at the Bannered Mare and tells anyone who will listen how he’s sure there’s something odd about the Dovahkiin. Something wrong with the Dragonborn.

      Every time the door to Belethor’s General Goods opens every sphincter below his belt reflexively tightens in anticipation and a cold sweat breaks out across his skin. When he sees it’s the Dovahkiin? He thinks for a moment to just run away.

      “What can I do for you today?” He asks instead. Rooted to the spot by fear. Or programming.

      “Just here to sell some rusty iron pots and twenty brooms,” Dovahbert replies while taking his bow from his back.

    • Grudgeal says:

      The shop system is really strange. I once forgot to use a bartering potion half-way through buying and selling some really expensive (and good) equipment and re-loaded the autosave, only to find the shopkeeper had replaced her entire inventory and no longer carried the items I wanted to buy.

    • Neko says:

      Generally, it’s because Quicksave/Quickload in Elder Scrolls games are buggy and don’t clear game state properly. It’s been a long-running piece of advice for players on forums that if you switch between multiple characters a lot, you should never rely on Quicksave and instead do a full save/load each time, otherwise state can sneak through across savegames. Things like NPCs being hostile to you even though you only went psycho and murdered half the town on your other character.

      I can’t figure out exactly how it’s happening with the merchant gold though.

      • syal says:

        So does it not actually work with Calm spells then? If you attack them and then calm them magically, does their gold reset?

      • Tizzy says:

        That would explain it, indeed.

        But… why… I mean, how poorly thought out would your setup have to be to allow this to happen?

        I know, I’m not a professional programmer, but to me, this doesn’t sound like just random bugs. It sounds like an engineering problem.

        • Neko says:

          The thing with Quicksave and Quickload is that, well, it has to be quick. To accomplish this, most games just take the the game state that was last loaded or saved, and then tack on an addendum of all the changes that have happened since then.

          With normal saving, you go through every NPC and every item in the world and methodically write down who or what they are and all their properties. Quicksaving is taking that and putting a bunch of sticky notes on it saying stuff like “oh, actually, this NPC is now at x,y,z” and “this item is no longer in the player’s inventory but the player has 20 more health”. Quickloading may just apply those notes to the current game state rather than clear everything and restore it from disk.

          I am not an expert on Gamebryo’s inner workings, but it’s quite possible that some of those notes are incomplete or someone neglected to save/restore a particular field if the entity is hostile. I’m certain the engine is held together with duct tape and twine if you go deep enough, and the Bethesda devs are just licencing the engine, they’re not necessarily experts on it either.

          Edit: removed angle brackets from my example so they don’t get eaten.

  5. Ciennas says:

    Isn’t this how the Thieve’s Guild started? Make a clumsy accusation that you couldn’t follow through with until you’d already completed the quest that springs the accusation at you?

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      The Thieves’ Guild was more abrupt because he accuses you of earning all of your money through theft, when you can’t sell stolen goods until after you’ve joined the Guild. This one just suggests that you might like to try cannibalism, although you still can’t commit acts of cannibalism unless you’re wearing the Daedric ring… which is weird, because Daedric artefacts are supposed to be one-offs, so how are all the other cannibals committing acts of cannibalism without their own rings?

    • Michael says:

      Ironically, the only one that was actually well handled was the Dark Brotherhood. You actually need to go out and poach one of their contracts to get dragged in, as opposed to accidentally snuffing one of the Kvatch guards while you’re assaulting the keep because he (or she) jumped in the path of an arrow or spell. And Lucy showing up saying, “‘sup, so I heard you like killin’ dudes…”

      I mean, this was literally the mistake they got raked over in Oblivion, and they fixed it for the DB in Skyrim… and repeated it for the DB and Nermia quest.

      The irony is, this would have been SO easy to fix. If Brinjolf said something like, “I can see you’ve got skills lass, how do you feel about making some easy money?” I mean it’s weird and creepy, but apparently the guards have the same mystical ability to peak at your character sheet, so it’s not that out of the question.

      And, here, it could have just been cryptic BS, like, “I can sense your curiosity,” with the player responses of “Yes”, “no”, “what are you smokeing?” or “KEEEL EEEHT WITH FIER!!! FOR THE EMPORAH!!!!”

      • The Rocketeer says:

        I never understood why ‘FUS ROH DAH’ wasn’t an option of every branch of every conversation. Why wait to end the chat before sending them to their inevitable destination?

        • Michael says:

          Because 95% of the time, there’s no option for personal expression in the dialog options.

          There’s a thing about the game, where they’re still writing dialog like it’s the old hyperlink system from Morrowind, where you’re just inquiring on a subject, but what you actually says is irrelevant… only now, they’ll give you a fragment of text, and then… not really follow through.

          It makes the conversations with Serana really freaking annoying in Dawnguard, because interacting with her is such a sharp shift from how the game normally handles dialog.

          But it’s also a big part of why you can’t really roleplay in the game. I mean, if you’re playing the DB questline, you have a lot of opportunities to not respond, when people are talking to you, but that vanishes outside of the questline.

          • Tizzy says:

            You forgot to mention how you can have three dialogue options for yourself which will be followed by the exact same freaking line by your interlocutor.

            Can it still be considered roleplaying if you’re the only one getting into the spirit of things?

            • Mintskittle says:

              Bioware actually one upped this in the first Mass Effect. The scene where you have to convince the council to go after Saren, and they turn it down, there’s one section of dialogue where it doesn’t matter if you choose the paragon/neutral/renegade option, Shepard says the same line for all three choices.

              • Michael says:

                There’s actually a couple of those in Mass Effect, one in the conversation with Anderson after Eden Prime, one talking to the council, one talking with Anderson about Saren, and I think one of the conversations with Saren, mid to late game.

                I kinda seem to remember running across one in Mass Effect 3, but I’m not certain.

              • Daimbert says:

                This can actually work really well if done properly, because what it hints at is that the difference isn’t in what you say, but in what the character is thinking or WHY they say that. Making more of the reactions internal instead of external really can work to make it feel like you are playing a role where the internal thoughts and feelings of the character you are playing matter and drive things. Which is one reason why I tend to find games that have strong linear plots more interesting role playing wise than the sandbox games, as the latter focus to much on what you do but without a structure don’t really provide for interesting ways for you to decide or rationalize WHY you’re doing it, since the answer in sandbox games too often ends up being “Because I feel like it”.

                • Michael says:

                  I think that was actually Bioware’s intent, unfortunately it came across as “all aboard the stupid train.” Where Shepard would randomly spaz out no matter how carefully you tried to keep them in check.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                Sometimes those options can be very satisfying. One of my favorite options in Dragon Age Origins was telling Anora what I thought of her after she betrayed me at the landsmeet. And I could either tell her off or not tell her off no matter whether I decided to side with her or not. It has no impact on the game other than a single annoyed reaction line which only made me love it more. You weren’t saying it to save or doom an empire. You were saying it because she’s a B and you want her to know it.

                At one point you can offer to help someone woo his spouse or bed her yourself then, if you feel like it, brag about it to him. Again it has no impact on the game or the world other than to let you express yourself as either being a matchmaker or a complete orifice.

                Or any of a number of times when your dialog choice is “Yes for Reason A” or “Yes for Reason B.” Those can be quite entertaining.

          • Henson says:

            It’s oddly appropriate how one of the most satisfying dialogue options in the whole game is [Say nothing].

            • Michael says:

              I freakin’ love that option. Especially when you can use it to just work someone’s nerves.

              I especially love that Redguard who’s response is basically, “yeah, whatever, stop pretending you’re Batman and get back to work.”

        • Mintskittle says:

          In the High King of Skyrim mod, you can shout people to death through dialogue.

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

          • Humanoid says:

            Which would make it magnitudes more effective at killing than it is outside of dialogue. I always find these types of physics attacks (see also Biotics) to be exceedingly inefficient at actual murder compared to conventional weaponry unless in specific places made to show off the physics.

            It could be argued that increasing the impact damage might make things too easy, but it’s a bit of a hollow argument when you can one or two-shot using melee weapons without much difficulty. Then there was the instant-kill on the Draugr Death God King Overlord with the log trap which confuses matters even more.

            • syal says:

              Well obviously the trap had a sneak attack bonus because he wasn’t looking at it.

              …I want to see sneak attack Fall Damage now.

            • Michael says:

              Trap damage is leveled. So, as you level up, the traps actually deal more damage to you… and everything else. If traps are flagged to ignore defense (I’m not sure if this is the case), and the Draugr have high defense (which, I think they do), then that would make perfect, hilarious, and horrible sense.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ugh,alignment systems…Thanks to the marvel that is fallout 2,Ive long ago learned to replace them with much better reputation systems.So instead of the whole world thinking of you in shades of goodness and order,places think of you as either inconsequential,reviled or revered,based on what you did for them,or for their neighbors.

    Which is one of the very,very few things mass effect 3 did correctly,by merging paragon and renegade into a reputation scale.

    • Michael says:

      The absolute lack of an alignment system is one of the few things I really like with the Elder Scrolls games. Getting rid of the fame and infamy counters was also a really good idea, though it would have allowed for a more organic change over time, going from an unknown hero to a scourge that terrifies people on sight or some great hero… though, I fully expect Bethesda would have found a way to bjork that up.

  7. Tuskin says:

    Chris/Campster I think you’re confusing Deep Space Nine with ‘The Animated Series’ ‘Voyager’ and Enterprise Seasons 1 to 3.

    DS9 was the best series.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      It was also the one that deviated the most from Gene’s original vision,which is actually why some fans really dont want to remember it.

      • Ciennas says:

        Doesn’t make the show inherently bad though.

        I couldn’t say: I’ve never watched it myself.

        In all seriousness, Wouldn’t the original vision have been better served by making a movie length production, rather than a TV length one?

        Because ‘A world with no conflict’ is the same as saying ‘where’s your story, then?’

        Some kind of parallel universe travelogue type thing?

        • Raygereio says:

          In all seriousness, Wouldn’t the original vision have been better served by making a movie length production, rather than a TV length one?

          That was Star Trek: The Motion Picture which Roddenberry co-wrote and produced. And while not the worst of the Star Trek movies, it’s easily the most boring one.

          A lot of Star Trek fans like to remember Roddenberry as some kind of saint, but really Star Trek had to be saved from Gene. Wrath of Khan is almost universally regarded as the best of the Star Trek movies, but one of the main reasons for that is because Roddenberry was kicked upstairs as “creative consultant” after the first film and Harve Bennett, Nicholas Meyer and everyone else politely ignored everything he said.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Doesn’t make the show inherently bad though.”

          No,it only makes it different.And DS9 is really good.But if Gene’s vision was preserved,some of the best episodes,like the pale moonlight,would never have existed,because it involves a human deciding he is ok with arranging a murder in order to prevent a war.

          And apparently,according to Gene’s vision,people in the future never grief.I wont go into whether thats good or bad,but it sure limits the stories you can do.

          • Josh says:

            It’s funny, you can really tell Gene went off the deep end and started drinking his own Kool-Aid sometime between the original run of TOS and the movies. And it got really bad by TNG. Things went from the prime directive occasionally being cited only for Kirk/Spock/McCoy immediately explaining why it shouldn’t apply in a given situation because the alternative would be much worse, to Picard getting really uppity when not everyone was on board with letting preventable natural disasters wipe out entire planets just because they hadn’t invented the warp drive.

            Make no mistake, the dude had some great ideas and I still consider TOS to be a science fiction masterpiece, but at some point he lost track of what made good television.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              What I dont get is why people still use the dumb directive even after gene had anything to do with it(the most recent example being the reebot wrath of khan)?Yes,one should not mess with a prewarp civilization UNLESS not messing with them would lead to their extinction or the death of your crew.

            • Michael says:

              As it was, he still threw a massive snitfit over the Conspiracy plotline late in TNG’s first season.

            • Henson says:

              One of Shatner’s books mentioned how, after The Motion Picture tanked, Gene was (as Raygereio mentions above) effectively “kicked upstairs”, given a high title and left out of most creative decisions. Gene also was highly in favor of a Star Trek movie where the Enterprise crew goes back in time to stop the John F Kennedy assassination. He suggested it for movies II, III, and IV.

              Bizarre.

            • Lachlan the Mad says:

              Roddenberry intended for the Ferengi to be serious villains. ‘Nuff said.

            • Humanoid says:

              To wander off on a tangent, I’d never understood the (presumably) American saying of “drinking one’s Kool-Aid” for the longest time. I’d assumed Kool-Aid might have been some sort of engine coolant like antifreeze or something like that, thus making it undesirable to consume.

              Of course now I have the power of Wikipedia and luckily my knowledge gap was never exposed at a bad time.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    If you are a cat person,and you eat human people,technically thats not cannibalism.In fact,should eating another sapient species be seen as worse than simply killing them in such a setting?For example,are illithid considered morally worse than drow?

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Illithid morals can’t be judged by those of us from the Prime Material Plane; they’re aberrations, they have their own designs in orbit. Their customs and dietary practices should therefore be respected in a spirit of cultural tolerance.

      Drow, of course, are as unworthy of your attention or deference as are all elves, but remain relatively praiseworthy due to their dwelling underground where decent, round-eared folk don’t have to look at them.

    • Disc says:

      Killing for food is still killing. Don’t see why a people would necessarily need to care about the reasons all that much, especially if and when they’re on the menu.

      • Humanoid says:

        That cannibal wasn’t even killing, they were just stealing some human jerky, really. They’ve gone to all that length in preparing it, it’d be rude to turn it down.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That drake pun shows why Rutskarn is still the king amongst the crew.His puns are so stealthy,you dont see them coming,while the others make blatant ones.

  10. There is also the kind of cannibalism where you eat people to show that you have owned them on every level. read more here.

  11. Red says:

    B-b-but Serious Sam is a stealth game! If you kill everybody, no-one knows you were ever there!

  12. IFS says:

    Going off of the idea of companions bailing you out it might also be interesting if certain characters, including possible companions, might get landed in jail from time to time where you could bail them out if you wanted.

    Also does it annoy anyone else when an innkeeper says they will show you to your room? How hard is it to have them go ‘your room is down the hall on your left’? Most of the time they walk so slow they either get in the way or only arrive to tell you about your room after you’ve just woken up from a five hour nap.

  13. TMTVL says:

    Josh: “Actually, it’s a wyrm.”
    Mumbles “W-R-U-M.”

    Seems like it was getting late.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Maybe Mumbles was getting ready to WRUMBLE!!

      (Sorry. It’s late where I am too…)

      • Yes says:

        In German, “Wurm” means simply “worm”.
        An earthworm is a “Regenwurm” and so on.
        However, in medieval times, “Wurm” in various spellings was also used for Dragons, hence a wyvern being called “Lindwurm” in German for example.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          Wouldn’t ‘regenwurm’ mean ‘rain worm?’ Makes sense, but it’s still funny that an earthworm and a rainworm are the same thing.

          And where does Worms fit into this, and can a Diet of Worms really drop ten pounds in a week?

          • Bryan says:

            What about Worms Armageddon?

            Concrete Donkey ftw!

            • Yes says:

              Literally, Regenwurm does translate to rain worm, but I picked the first suggestion from the dictionary.

              “Würmer: Weltuntergang” would have a nice ring to it, but it was simply Worms Armageddon ’round these parts.

              And if anything, a Wrum would be a species of worm discovered and/or named by a dyslexic scientist, I guess?

  14. Grudgeal says:

    I tried making a wurm tribe deck in mtg once.
    It was terrible.

  15. slipshod says:

    I think Skyrim is wearing you guys out, Spoiler Warning… or at least making me feel less like I want to ever play the game again. Which is somewhat curious, because your New Vegas (and even Fallout 3) playthrough had the exact opposite effect. Hmm.

    • Humanoid says:

      On the other hand, New Vegas had worn the crew out by Dead Money, which was at an earlier point in the season than we’re at in the current season.

      • Michael says:

        Wait, did they actually do Dead Money? I remember Honest Hearts, where they were joking around and Josh actually went in and started it. I don’t remember Dead Money, though.

        Huh… just found them… I kinda remember seeing some of these episodes, weird.

        • Humanoid says:

          Yes, altogether too long on it (looking at the episode list, episodes 23 through 33). The trouble was that of the crew, only Josh had played it to completion, so there wasn’t much in the way of insight, and the nature of the DLC itself didn’t really lend itself to many hijinks. In the end it sort of devolved into a bunch of fish and chip puns and Rutskarn turning into a cockney orphan.

          Fortunately they perked back up afterwards, at least until the hemipenes incident. I’ve watched the season at least three times over, but have only endured Dead Money once. In hindsight it kind of feels like someone put episodes of Metro 2033 in the middle of Fallout.

          • Michael says:

            Yeah, as with Dark Souls it was one of those times where most of the cast couldn’t really comment, and that does bring some of the memories back. I haven’t rewatched any of the seasons, I think. But, I kinda remember their irritation.

            In tone, Dead Money always reminded me more of System Shock 2 than… well, anything else. New Vegas stops, and then this survival horror RPG starts up with your character.

            I actually really enjoy it, but it does hilariously sabotage someone’s ability to comment on the game if they’ve played the main title, but not that piece of DLC. Of course, all the New Vegas DLC was kind of designed to do that, Dead Money was survival horror, Honest Hearts is closest to the main game, but with more of a wilderness theme and a more vertical environment, Old World Blues was a return to the weird sci-fi sequences from Fallout and Fallout 2 in a tightly hubbed world, and Lonesome Road was a brutally unforgiving, corridor shooter.

          • The Rocketeer says:

            Metro? That’s waaaaay too high praise for Dead Money.

            • Michael says:

              I don’t know, I loved Dead Money, but I’ve got a soft spot for the exact flavor of survival horror it delivered…

              Not being able to go back was annoying, and not having access to any system that would actually let you traverse the fog… aside from whatsisname was also annoying. But, I really liked the New Vegas DLCs… except for Lonesome Road because… ugh.

  16. sdfq says:

    This has been a very directionless season. Which is apt for skyrim since as a game it’s also extremely directionless, but it’s not a very entertaining season :(

    • Jack Kucan says:

      I’ve been having fun with it, but it’s probably about time they got on the main quests again. Going completely off this LP, it honestly doesn’t feel like Skyrim really has enough content to last the entire season if they don’t wrap it up relatively soon. The majority of the entertainment in the LP stems from them making fun of how stupid the current quest is, and I honestly feel like Bethesda doesn’t have enough ways left to fuck up a quest to carry the rest of the season. Then again, Bethesda has proven me wrong with their ineptitude before…

      What I’m getting at is that it feels like New Vegas, for as much freedom as it gives you, feels like it’s still always giving you meaningful objectives, while Skyrim feels like you’re never accomplishing anything except in a few sidequests where you’re, progression-wise, not actually accomplishing anything.

      God, I miss New Vegas. There were few “main quest” quests, but there were tons of varied quests, some of which actually contributed to the main quest. I’ve played most of the game myself and I’ve watched three let’s plays of it and *every time* I’ve learned new things. I hope Fallout 4 is more like NV than like Skyrim.

      • Thomas says:

        I didn’t think I would say this, but I hope Fallout 4 is more like Fallout 3 than Skyrim (if it can’t be like Fo:NV of course).

        At least Fallout 3 had a lot of interesting quests and characters and events and settings outside the main quest. And at least it’s main quest was terrible in an entertaining way.

        You nailed it with “I honestly feel like Bethesda doesn’t have enough ways left to fuck up a quest to carry the rest of the season”

        The way Skyrim is designed, it’s barely got any ways to be interestingly screwed up. You can’t have a Three Dog moment in Skyrim because 1) No NPC would be interesting enough to kill. 2)No NPC can be interacted with beyond speak/hit with sword. 3)In Skyrim he’d been frickin’ invincible.

        The most fun of this game has been from the bugs and some generally screwing around with the gameplay. Skyrim isn’t entertainingly bad, it’s entertainingly bland.

        • Humanoid says:

          I’d be content with this season being prolonged until Fallout 4 is released and ready for the crew to tackle. :D

        • Michael says:

          The worst part is, there are very specific ways you can break Skyrim. They’re never explicitly mentioned, which is cool, but so rare, you’re unlikely to try.

          One of them was the crown in the first Civil War quest, where you can defect and take it to the other leader at the end and switch sides.

          Another is in the next Main Quest phase, where you can actually ignore Brinjolf, and go straight to the guy in the Flagon (because you know where that is, right?). But, there’s no hint that it’s an option, and you’re otherwise forced to sign up with the Thieves Guild while you’re just trying to do the main quest.

          A third one, you can kill Astrid when she tries to recruit you and then go wipe out the Dark Brotherhood. Except, she’s a quest giver, so clearly she’s immortal, right? Well, not right now.

          If these were the norm, it’d be cool, but… there’s maybe 20 quests in the entire game you can really break like that.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Well, mileages vary, of course, so I’m certainly not arguing with your opinion, but personally I’ve found it the most entertaining season yet. It may be because I know the game quite well, which isn’t normally the case (the only other time was ME3. And for me, ME3 = grrr). So maybe that pre-disposes me towards the positive, but it feels like the crew have been on good form throughout, and it also seems like they are enjoying themselves (definitely not always so, by this late stage!).

      Anyway … Shamus says it’s back to the main quest next week, so I hope you’ll find that a bit more enjoyable!

      • KremlinLaptop says:

        Yup, I’m on the most-entertaining-season train. To be honest I prefer the sandbox game seasons … I watch SW as entertainment and Derpbert breaking games? Good entertainment! Also ditto to enjoying themselves. I think the worst of them not enjoying themselves? Alan Wake. It felt like they would’ve given anything to be playing something different.

        Personally I do think maybe the Spoiler Warning format could use changing up. Not devoting full seasons to games and doing more different games. Egh, not sure how it would work out but would keep them from getting too bored with a given game.

      • Tizzy says:

        I’m enjoying it, but sometimes, like this week, it is painfully obvious that Josh doesn’t have a specific gameplan, and getting lost and selling stuff is less entertaining than it would have been if we felt bolstered by a brisk pace and sense of purpose.

        Actually, the whole cast sounds really exhausted by the end. Makes you wonder how much time they spent in Markarth with the Molag Bal quest.

      • Humanoid says:

        Yep, for me it’s already the best season since at least DXHR, and in all probability the best since New Vegas.

        The thing is, a lot of the intervening seasons (excluding Dishonored perhaps) have been of absolutely linear games where it wouldn’t make a difference who was playing: it could have been some random gameplay footage plucked from the Internet such is the nonvariance of gameplay. It’s still got the Spoiler Warning commentary over the top of it of course, but the occasional glitches aside, that’s only half of the Spoiler Warning formula.

  17. evileeyore says:

    Okay Mumbles (and Ruts) the original D&D alignments were based on the writings of Micheal Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné series, wherein the Gods of Creation and Destruction were aligned via the Law/Chaos axis, both sides had good and evil elements within them (but Gary dropped that and decided Chaos was Evil and Law was Good).

    And in case it ever comes up Gygax stole D&D’s magic system from the Tales of the Dying Earth series by Jack Vance.

  18. Luke says:

    grrr… spoiling Walking Dead is NOT cool, Mumbles! I just have one more week to go before my bro gets home from overseas and we have an epic marathon. :(

    • Luke says:

      …on a more positive note, these last few weeks of Spoiler Warning have been awesome. My favorite season thus far.

    • Humanoid says:

      Talking about the TV series or the game? Because while I do sympathise with the whole spoiler thing, I do think that discussing games they’ve played previously does add to the show instead of having each season they play be completely stand-alone in terms of talking points. I mean a fair bit of time this season has been spent comparing Skyrim to the Fallout games and to Bioware’s various games. Excluding the Walking Dead season would be somewhat arbitrary.

      • syal says:

        But if they do that then you can’t skip a game playthrough to avoid spoilers, you have to skip everything.

      • evileeyore says:

        “Talking about the TV series or the game?”

        … or the comic? My first thought was Mumbles was talking about the comic since I refuse to watch the show* and I’ve forgotten most of the game.

        * It are sooooo crappy.

      • Luke says:

        The TV Series. Actually, I’d like to apologize to the Spoiler Warning crew for my comment– it was unreasonable for me to react to a spoiler that most of the show’s fans already know. Keep up the good work, y’all.

  19. djshire says:

    Campster was right, DS9 didn’t exist

    • Grudgeal says:

      Now that’s not entirely fair. Sure, the story was a fair bit human-centric and I don’t know how I felt about the wrap-up, but the space station looked lovely, it was a fascinating insight into a multi-cultural interstellar society and alien relations, and it managed a pretty decent myth arc after a few early hiccups.

      I especially liked the aliens. Like that guy with the sideways punk hairdo and the Romanian accent, or that cryptic one in in the spacesuit.

      • You know it took me three viewings of this comment before i got the joke. Bravo Grudgeal Bravo.

      • Michael says:

        The irony is, aside from a couple cast members leaving, the first season actually syncs up to the mytharch remarkably well. Especially given how much of it was written by people who hadn’t been read in on the series’ long term plans.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        To be fair,its the similarities with babylon 5 that made the first few seasons rocky,but once they left that and did their own shtick,it was great.But then again,TNG also had a rocky start,so no trek is perfect.

        • Michael says:

          I never thought I’d say this when I was a kid, but the Original Series is pretty close. I mean, there are some episodes that are terrible misses, but even most of the goofy, stupid stuff it still stands head and shoulders over most network TV today.

          TNG and DS9 took awhile to find their feet. DS9 always compares unfavorably to B5 for me. Part of this was because B5 had a lot more freedom to shape it’s setting, it wasn’t fighting the inertia of 25 years as a utopia, and part was that B5 wasn’t trapped in Trek’s central conceit of people being better than they really are. Since Roddenberry’s death, they’ve tried to get away from that, but I don’t think anyone’s really managed to without coming across as juvenile in the process. (Griming the setting up just to claim, “no really, it’s dark and gritty, guys!”) Which was part of the problem for DS9.

          Voyager, honestly, I’m conflicted on it; basically they had a mix of characters the writers could work with and characters the writers couldn’t figure out. And, the results were spotty as a result.

          Enterprise… I’m actually in a minority here, but I liked the first season, and as it went on, they started trying to tie it into the elements TNG added to the setting, rather than building into the TOS era, they really started screwing up the continuity (even by Trek standards). I know the Borg and Ferengi are major series draws, but those two really should have been left out. On top of that, the show was saddled with a Straczynski style metaplot that would have worked a lot better if it was actually an alternate timeline, rather than a prequel.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            “Since Roddenberry’s death, they’ve tried to get away from that, but I don’t think anyone’s really managed to without coming across as juvenile in the process. (Griming the setting up just to claim, “no really, it’s dark and gritty, guys!”) ”

            I think DS9 managed to do it well.Its not grim just to be gritty and dark,but to show that war is hell and it changes people.Especially in the episode where nog loses his leg and has to deal with it,or in the episodes where dukat goes insane and tries to be buddy bud with The Sisko,or the episodes where garak is doing his spy stuff,especially like Ive mentioned above,in the pale moonlight.In the end,all these end on high notes with hope for the better tomorrow,which makes them more than just grimdark.

            Heck,any show that manages to have a ferengi focused episode that actually deals with a serious issue in a serious fashion(the nog legless episodes)automatically makes it a good mature show.

            • Michael says:

              I actually like DS9, for the most part. There’s also been some top notch episodes in every series. Even Voyager had a some.

              For me, at least, DS9 was a mixed bag. Even episodes like Pale Moonlight didn’t really work for me. On a subjective level the drama felt forced. In contrast, nearly everything with Kira and Dukat at each other’s throats worked really well, (again, for me). Now, maybe I just had a low tolerance for the way Avery Brooks presented the moral dilemma, but compared to Picard in I Borg or First Contact it felt less like a man doing what he believed was necessary, and more someone doing something convenient so he could flagellate himself. I can’t really even lay this one on Brooks, because it was a consistent theme with the character from the pilot, it just always felt slightly out of place, for who he was supposed to be, given the setting. That he never actually grew out of the behavior through the series also (in retrospect) undermines Pale Moonlight a lot. This isn’t Sisko crossing a line, or point of no return, because he’s in the same exact position he was in after Wolf 359, right up to his apotheosis.

              Nog was, I’ll actually stand behind this, always a surprise. Aron Eisenberg, and for that matter Armin Shimerman, managed to make characters that were set up as comedic relief, compelling and consistently interesting. And, actually when DS9 works, a lot of it is on the shoulders of absolutely fantastic chemistry between the actors. I know I’d watch the hell out of anything with Auberjonois and Shimerman together. Or Andrew Robinson and Alexander Sidding as buddy cops… Or…

        • djshire says:

          So you don’t know the story then? Oh joy….

          So TNG was winding down. Paramount knew it was going to lose a ton of money to other shows…with one in particular, a show that had been in development for many years. This show was going to be set on a space station, and this space station would be a gathering place for the various races of the galaxy, and all that happened on that space station. Paramount rushed into development and production a competing series, using part of the TNG canon. Paramount managed to get their series released a week before the other series. So a week before Babylon 5 premiered, DS9 did. So to those that didn’t know any better, B5 looked like a rip-off of DS9, when in reality, it was the other way around.

          • Michael says:

            Yeah, no, I was fully aware of the story. You skimmed over the part where Paramount was actually considering picking up the series in ’91, but eventually backed out. Some of the people there had access to B5’s season 1 bible (or at least a truncated version of it), and, although Berman and Piller denied they ever had access to it, there’s a fairly reasonable theory that some of the elements of DS9 were suggested to them by execs who had been read in on the B5 pitch.

            EDIT, B5 was getting shopped around for… I forget, five or six years before Warner Brothers finally picked it up. But, yeah… I’ve heard the story before.

  20. Artur CalDazar says:

    I like Rutskarns point about magic. Reminds me of a scene in a book where two mages were fighting, a battlemage and a master of the arcane, who knew zero practical or offensive magic. The battlemage has just reduced the landscape to rubble and the arcane mage is standing on a pillar of earth with a crater around him. Then the Arcane mage just turns the other guy into a tree.

    I also find it interesting you guys are directing this lets play thing the same way people who have spend a lot of time in skyrim play. “Gee, what do we do now? I can’t think of anything”- while most quests are undone, and the main quest line is mostly untouched.

    I dislike this cannibal quest, so much assuming on the players behalf. Even if you are a Bosmer, when has them being cannibal ever come up?

    • The Rocketeer says:

      The main quest is really about half done already, although the next mission is awful and some of the ones coming up are really long.

    • Michael says:

      You mean When have Bosmers been identified as cannibals? Or when has it been relevant in the story?

      The Bosmer get outed as cannibals first in, I think A Dance in Fire, which is kind of a dubious source since it’s actually a novel (or series of novels) in the setting. So it’s possible it’s author was just a racist or relying on stereotypes about the Bosmer. As far as I know, the only explicit mentions of the Bosmer being cannibals comes out of ADiF and some other in setting novels.

      ESO might have changed this, I’m not sure.

      In game? It doesn’t. Just rolling up a Bosmer doesn’t seem to make your character cannibalistic, and no one seems to care that you’re a Bosmer, the way they care if they see you chowing down on a corpse.

      Again, this quest could have been easily fixed if the character you find in the tomb, just hints that you’re there for dinner rather than outright saying, “yeah, hey, I know you, you eat people, right? Isn’t that cool?”

  21. Cybron says:

    I find the 4e (and original) alignment system to be much more useful than the grid alignment of 3rd edition. The grid is ridiculously narrow and specific. Meanwhile, the single axis alignment system is just a spectrum from ‘nice guy’ to ‘jerk’, with no great implications about your character. If you have to have an alignment system, that’s the way to go about it IMO.

  22. Atarlost says:

    In a way Mumbles is right. The main quest is about cannibalism. You, the dragonborn, eat the souls of dragons.

    The one where you, a kajit, eat things that aren’t kajit is neither important nor cannibalistic.

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