Skyrim Thieves Guild Part 4

By Shamus Posted Thursday Dec 29, 2011

Filed under: Elder Scrolls 249 comments


So we meet these two idiots at Nightingale HQ, and Karliah tells us we’re here to “get the edge we need to defeat Mercer Frey”. Now, if you want to defeat Mercer Frey, all you really need to do is challenge him to a contest of not screaming a combat taunt for ten consecutive seconds, but whatever.

In the last segment, the story fell apart for me. This bit is where it pissed me off. We’re going to join the Nightingales.

Dear Bethesda: Do you understand that nightingales are birds, and not usually associated with power, cunning, or even darkness? I mean, I know you’ve got the word “night” in there, but the name actually means “‘night songstress”. As in singing. They are not harbingers of danger, adventure, or secrecy. They’re actually cute, fluffy little birds. It’s a terrible, terrible name for your super-secret cult. You basically named yourselves, “The Adorable Little Songbirds”. It sounds really stupid to hear people talking about “Nightingales” like they’re something insidious, and that’s before we see how completely useless they are. I can’t shake the feeling you were thinking of owls, crows, ravens, or blackbirds.

A better way to keep the Nightingales a secret would be to just not tell people about it, but I guess the myth thing works too.
A better way to keep the Nightingales a secret would be to just not tell people about it, but I guess the myth thing works too.

Karliah leads us through the secret entrance and ominously tells us, “This is Nightingale hall. You’re the first of the uninitiated to set foot inside in over a century.”

Sigh. Unless you, Gallus, and Mercer are all over a hundred years old, that can’t be true. Mercer is a human, and he can’t be more than fifty. So the last initiation would have been about, what? Thirty years ago? At most. Now, the Nightingales do have another facility (we’ll get to that later) so you could argue that Mercer’s initiation took place there, but there are only two rooms in Nightingale Hall: The armor room, and the oath room. There isn’t a single desk or bench in the place. What is this place used for, if not initiations? Was anyone paying attention when they wrote this?

The game has you click on the “Nightingale Armor Stone” to receive your armor. A stone. What is this? Is it like, a container? Or does it magically produce armor for anyone who pokes it? You have to put on this armor, and Karliah tells you that “You appear ready for the Oath.”

Nice! This armor does a great job of completely obscuring all of those character details I fussed with at the beginning of the game, including what race I am.  I’m actually a Khajiit (a cat-man) but the mask seems to have mashed my face into human proportions.
Nice! This armor does a great job of completely obscuring all of those character details I fussed with at the beginning of the game, including what race I am. I’m actually a Khajiit (a cat-man) but the mask seems to have mashed my face into human proportions.

Oath? What is this? What are we doing?

See, this is all some kind of bargain with the goddess Nocturnal. (She’s kind of your go-to deity for thieves, at least for those who have a religious bent.) Step one is putting on this armor. I’ll say now that this armor is not very impressive. If you’ve bothered to level smithing or enchanting, then you probably throw away stuff more useful than the Nightingale armor. It gives bonuses to stamina and one-handed weapons. This is ideal if you’re a warrior type, and useless if you’re, you know, someone sneaky. The bonuses on the armor are almost completely at odds with the secretive nature of this cult. The only useful bit are the boots, which muffle your walking. Nice, granted. (Although I have the exact same bonus on my existing boots, which have about double the armor value.) Okay, the hood makes illusion spells slightly cheaper to cast, but the #1 illusion spell a thief would want is “muffle” and the boots give you a constant muffle spell without you needing to cast it.

And yes, you must wear this armor while taking this oath.

I suppose it looks cool in a kind of conspicuously secretive way, like a guy wearing a “Shhh. I’m a ninja” T-shirt.


So Karliah finally explains things to us. In order to defeat Mercer, we must become Nightingales. Doing so means swearing to serve Nocturnal in this life and the next. You serve her in life, and in death. And in return she gives you… the game never actually says what you’re supposed to be getting out of this. Oh, Karliah acts like we’re getting super powers or something, but in this deal no actual powers are conferred. You might say we’re getting this crappy vendor trash armor in return, but we get that before the oath and it does nothing to help us defeat Mercer. There is no reason to accept this deal except that this idiot questline requires it.

Mercer was able to open the guild vault because he stole the Skeleton Key. It’s an artifact of Nocturnal. It lets you “open any door”. (Of course, when you get it, it does no such thing. It’s just an un-breakable lockpick with no other bonus.) It supposedly allows you to unlock your full potential, which is why Mercer is allegedly powerful. As Nightingales, they swore to protect the key and make sure it’s never used. (Which sort of makes you wonder why it exists in the first place, but whatever – gods don’t really need to make sense the way people do.) Apparently Mercer defiled the temple by stealing this key, which he’s been using to steal from the guild.

Karliah gets all high and mighty about this, but of course she never bothered to check on the key or the temple during her twenty-five year exile. If she did, she wouldn’t have needed to translate Gallus’ stupid journal to figure out that Mercer took the key. Stealing the key brought a curse on the guild, giving everyone bad luck, which is why the guild is supposedly on hard times now.

You do get some (really, really crappy) once-a-day powers as part of becoming a Nightingale, but you don’t get those until after you’ve defeated Mercer.


So then we have this stupid ceremony where we all pledge our eternal souls to Noctural, who manifests as a glowing orb of light with an agonizingly smug voice that makes you want to throttle her disembodied neck. She even says, “Karliah, I’m surprised at you. This deal is clearly weighted in my favor.”

Yeah, I guess it would be, since YOU AREN’T OFFERING ANYTHING.

So now we’re Nightingales, with all the rights and privileges that entails. (None.) Along with the costs. (My soul, apparently.) And we can finally go after Mercer, now that we’ve given him a massive head start. Our team of morons (and we must include the player as one of the morons, since you have to role-play a moron to agree to Nocturnal’s deal) meets at yet another ruin where we hope to corner Mercer Frey.

Oh, you guys are still wearing that crappy Nightingale armor?  I’m sorry.  I would have brought you something if I’d realized you didn’t have anything better.
Oh, you guys are still wearing that crappy Nightingale armor? I’m sorry. I would have brought you something if I’d realized you didn’t have anything better.

I meet up with Karliah and Brynjolf. Assuming he’s the slowest man in the world, Mercer should still be inside trying to recover the Eyes of the Falmer. Now we just have to go in and murder him.

Say… I don’t suppose I could talk you two guys into staying behind, could I? No? That’s what I was afraid of.


From The Archives:

249 thoughts on “Skyrim Thieves Guild Part 4

  1. The Schwarz says:

    Wait a minute. Why exactly does Mercer stealing the key bring a curse on the *guild*? While Mercer himself is leaving happily ever after? Is this Nocturnal the goddess of stupid or something?

    1. CalDazar says:

      Shes very laid back about getting her stuff taken or her plans thwarted. Hrormir screwed her over big time and she was rather laid back about it.

    2. Erik says:

      According to what i remember from doing this quest, the key is actually what opens the portal for nocturnal. so without the key in place, she has very limited powers, and thus can no longer provide any bonusses in luck for thieves.
      So its not actually like they are having bad luck, its more like they’re having no luck.

      1. acronix says:

        Which means they are awful thieves. They need common luck to keep their organization afloat.

        1. Erik says:

          It does, but that was not the point. The point was to explain why something mercer did had effect on the guild as a whole :)

          1. Kuma says:

            And what about you? Do you also have bad luck? Because I’ve been playing other quests while being part of the thieves guild and everything went perfectly fine for me… forgive me for the sarcasm, it’s just to make a point that the whole thing does not make any sense…

            1. Moriarty says:

              The thieves guild isn’t cursed with bad luck, they’re just no longer blessed with extra magical luck.

              The thieves guild is that special kind of bunch of winners who run the entire organisation into the ground because they lose their unfair advantage and then start blaming others for it.

      2. Dev Null says:

        And as a competing thief, who presumably wants to steal the same things the guild wants to steal and has no real reason to give a damn about the guild, I want to help the competition get their mojo back why now?

        1. WJS says:

          Because that’s the way the writers’ story goes. You didn’t think it was your story, did you?

        2. George Monet says:


          The guild members aren’t thieves, they are equipment launderers who take what you steal, launder it and then resell it for you. They don’t actually do any thieving. Do you ever see them leave the bar? NOPE! So they clearly aren’t thieves, therefore they must be vendors.

    3. susie day says:

      it actually makes some sort of sense – Nocturnal is punishing the people who let her key get stolen rather than the thief that was clever enough to steal it.

      1. bassdrum says:

        So, in other words, Nocturnal’s making it harder for the people she’s tasking with retrieving the key, and easier for the person they’re supposed to track down. Huh. No, I’m pretty sure that there’s no real logic to pull out of this mess.

        1. TheMerricat says:

          Sure there is. She’s a dick, and the patron saint of THIEVES, not “People pretending to be thieves and are actually just crappy guards.”

          She really wants Mercer to win.

          After all, the guy who stole her Cowl became the first Guild Master, and the Skeleton Key has been passed around more often than a mix tape. Mercer just has the incredibly bad luck of being just as stupid as the folk he’s working against.

      2. George Monet says:

        If Mercer having the key is preventing her from being able to manifest her powers in Skyrim, then how is she dicking around the rest of the thieves? Forgetting that huge problem, most of the thieves don’t even know about Nocturnal or believe that Nocturnal is real. They know nothing about the key. So is punishing them for not getting back a thing they don’t even know exists for a person they either don’t know exists or don’t believe exists really a great way to make them get the key back?

  2. Flo says:

    Honestly, this part was the point where the thieves guild questline died for me. Having to sacrifice my soul, spending the eternity as a mall guard for a stupid cave and getting… NOTHING (because I don’t need any of the stuff). And what for? NOTHING (because I could kill Mercer with one arm on my back anyway, without any daedric help). If she hadn’t shot me with the plot arrow, Mercer would already be dead. So, to help these guys out, you only have to lose your soul without getting anything for it. Seriously, I really missed the “Go … yourself” line as a response when hearing about the deal.
    And Schwarz, don’t ask questions like that. It really doesn’t make any sense, but as Shamus has already shown, the whole questline doesn’t make much sense :-)

    1. theLameBrain says:

      What I think is funny is that by this point I was already Harbinger of the Companions, and had embraced the power of Beast-Blood, meaning my soul already belonged to Hircine.

      Just waiting for my character to die and see Nocturne and Hircine fight it out. =)

      Actaully come to think of it, I may have also promised my soul to Molag Baal and Mehrunes Dagon…
      My character is going to have an interesting afterlife…

      1. Klay F. says:

        Actually, at no point during the Molag Bal quest do you ever pledge your soul to him. But this just serves to make the Thieves Guild quest line even more retarded. Molag Bal, the absolute master of soul enslavement in the Elder Scrolls universe doesn’t bother us, but now we have to pledge our soul to the goddess of luck? Ubuhwha?

      2. Kaspar says:

        Going for the Constantine gambit, are you?

      3. Felblood says:

        As an avatar of Akatosh, Dragon God of Time, you might be able to serve all your masters concurrently in separate timelines.

        If the writers can use it to explain away backloading saves and continuing a series with multiple endings, then you can probably use it to weasel out of your post-life guard duties.

        Plus, where were the spirits of Nightingales past when Mercer stole the key? Nocturnal doesn’t seem to be working them very hard.

        1. Johan says:

          “Plus, where were the spirits of Nightingales past when Mercer stole the key? Nocturnal doesn't seem to be working them very hard.”

          They were all companions too.

          It’s common knowledge that you need to sell your soul to get anything, so folks wanting to become Nightingales start short selling their own soul.

          In the resulting afterlife clusterfuck, they waltz into Sovngarde

          It’s a rather worrying comparison to the 2007 crash, actually

        2. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

          Actually, the souls were there, guarding the key; you get to meet them later. We’ll see what Shamus has to say about it.

  3. CalDazar says:

    Selling your soul to the other Daedra has a clear reward, whatever item is associated with them. But I had zero idea what powers I was getting, aside from the fantasy Batman outfit. Batman robbed the poor and gained the aid of corrupt politicians to spread crime right?

    Looking back I can’t shake the feeling that either I was part of an offering from Karliah, or I was supposed to get my powers then and there. Karliah tells me about the three different powers you can have, as if you get to take your pick now, rather than two quests later.

    Still the jokes on Nocturnal, dragon soul, you cant haz.

    1. Tim says:

      After rereading this, I thought of a way Bethesda could have made this soul selling thing make sense for self-serving opportunistic thieves, with just a few extra lines of dialogue.
      What if, as a reward for serving Nocturnal, you no longer age naturally, or at least get a greatly increased lifespan. That way you get to keep reaping the benefits of the deal forever, as long as you “serve” Nocturnal faithfully in this life, by remaining a competent thief who doesn’t get killed/executed.
      It would also make sense with that weird line about the last nightingale initiation being a century ago.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And the worst thing is that you can already get a perk that enables you to have unbreakable lockpicks.So I guess none of the thief artifacts are useful to thieves,only to posers who want to be thieves.

    By the way,nightingale as a name for an order isnt really that bad.For example,there is a real world example of The International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo.It is for the people in the lumber industry.Go figure.

    1. ACman says:

      There is absolutely no problem with the Nightingales as a name. I can think of far worse names for a super secret order of thieves.

      The fact that the thieves are so dumb however….

      1. Syal says:

        The first thing I think of is the Nightingale murderer from Frequency, so it seems suitably menacing to me also.

        Songbirds wouldn’t be that bad a name either.

        1. Hitch says:

          Well, people like to claim the Nightingale armor has a Batman look, which brings to mind Robin. Can you honestly say that “Nightingale” is a less menacing name than “Robin?” And are you willing to tell Mumbles that “Robin” is a terrible name? And can I listen in as you do? ;-)

          1. Shamus says:

            Robin was a fine name for the sidekick of Batman, the corny detective. Robin is actually a lame name for Batman, the Dark Knight. Batman has sort of evolved away from his origins. (Which is probably why the Robins keep dropping dead or calling themselves Nightwing.)

            Today, Batman & Robin sounds kind of like:

            The Dynamic Duo! It’s Green Lantern and… Dave.

            1. krellen says:

              Green Lantern actually historically teams up with Green Arrow (with whom he has absolutely nothing in common except for the green motif.)

              1. X2Eliah says:

                with whom he has absolutely nothing in common

                Objection! They both have in common the fact that, well, the both are really bad third-rate heroes :|

                1. Otters34 says:

                  Not really. One has a weapon that does anything the writer wants them to imagine, the other is an incredibly skilled archer who can defy the laws of physics. That they’re “third-rate” is a problem with their writers. Imagine if Batman wasn’t nearly as popular as he is, would that make him third-rate?

                  (Also I gotta ask: which Green Lantern?)

                  1. krellen says:

                    Green Lantern/Green Arrow was always Hal Jordan.

                    1. WJS says:

                      I presume you mean that it was only Hal Jordan who teamed with Green Arrow, but the way you put it, I couldn’t help but see Hal dressed as Green Arrow.

          2. Reet says:

            Robin might not be such a bad name for a thief. You know, because they rob stuff. Then again it probably wouldn’t be terribly suitable for any member of the thieves guild considering none of them have ever stolen a thing in their lives.

            1. Actually I’m pretty sure some of the idle chatter in the Ragged Flagon has Delvin mentioning to Vex that he procured an item for her, only he wants some extra cash for his trouble. I think it was Delvin. I just assume it was Delvin because he’s the best character in the guild.

              1. Alphadrop says:

                He’s the only one that comes of as competant so probably.

      2. Naota says:

        Assuming, for the sake of comedic interest, that the name of this super secret society closely tied to a guild of thieves must be bird-related…

        Why in blazes weren’t they called Magpies? Also, why not as a nickname given to them by the street-wise people they rob from rather than some silly official title for their order? That would at least make some inkling of contextual sense. The last thing a secret order needs is to encourage a recognizable buzzword title to be thrown around and associated with them.

    2. Raygereio says:

      And the worst thing is that you can already get a perk that enables you to have unbreakable lockpicks.

      Whu? They give you a perk that makes a super-duper-awesome legacy artifact from all the TES games utterly useless?

      Don’t tell me there’s a perk that allows you to reuse soulgems as well.

      1. Dys says:

        I believe picks became unbreakable at a certain skill level in Oblivion also.

        1. modus0 says:

          You’re probably thinking of repair hammers, which do become unbreakable for a Master Armorer.

          The lockpicking “grades” only keep cumulative numbers of tumblers from dropping. Only the Skeleton Key is unbreakable.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I think there is not a way to reuse soulgems.

        But yes,you should not use perks as specials for artifacts.Especially the ones that arent that special anyway.Its a perk that youll need only if you are bad at the minigame.But it is so high up,that you can get it only if you are good at the minigame.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Nope. In TES4, once you became master at security tumblers won’t drop when your lockpick broke in that horrible, horrible lockpicking minigame. That was it.

          @Daemian Lucifer:

          Its a perk that youll need only if you are bad at the minigame.But it is so high up,that you can get it only if you are good at the minigame.

          Argh! That just makes my head hurt. Gamedesign Bethesda. Learn it!

        2. Felblood says:

          You can also get the perk by breaking a few thousand lockpicks. You do get a tiny little bit of XP every time you snap one.

          Honestly, if you haven’t got it figured out by then, by all means, take the perk.

      3. tengokujin says:

        There’s a perk that allows you to recharge your weapon by draining 5% of the soul for any non-PC-race mobs you kill.

        1. guy says:

          Well, yeah, but that’s not going to cover the charges lost when whacking them most of the time.

      4. Mischa says:

        Reusing a soul gem: Azura’s Star would probably fit the bill.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Sure,but thats not a perk.And it has a right to be an artifact.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Wasn’t that the point in the first place? They were basically asking “there’s no perk that replaces Azura’s Star, is there?” at least that’s how I took it.

      5. Lockpicking became obsolete in Oblivion anyway because you could create an open very hard lock spell and never have to pick anything ever again

        1. WJS says:

          Could you not do that in Morrowind? I could have sworn you could.

  5. Dovius says:

    Something that I can’t seem to get my head around is that all the Daedra can apparently give mortals gifts and powers and stuff, but they can’t take them away.
    That sounds like one hell of a restriction. If Nocturnal could just go, ‘Hey Mercer, that’s MY key, and MY granted powers your using */snaps fingers, everything disappears*, not anymore!’, This entire questchain would be over in an hour!
    In the same vein, why can’t Boethiah, if she’s so displeased with her current champion abusing the Ebony Mail, just take the Mail’s poison effect and turn it inwards so it poisons the guy to death! Or poof it away magically!
    I mean, Sheogarath never seems to have a big problem getting the Wabbajack back into his possession.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Plotholes that involve gods are always a tricky subject.You can always cover them by saying something like “they want to have fun”.

    2. Dwip says:

      If I read the lore right, it’s not that they couldn’t do that, because it’s basically how Bethesda handwaves the same artifacts showing up in each game (though it makes more sense here than in Oblivion, where the Nerevarine from Morrowind not only collected most of the same stuff, he’s still alive), it’s that the Daedra lords just love messing with mortals that much.

      1. Klay F. says:

        Um, the hero of Oblivion is still alive also, just so you know.

        1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

          If you played human or other race that couldn’t live more than 200 years, I would say the hero of Oblivion is super dead.

          1. Gamer says:

            It’s possible he became the new Daedric Prince of Madness: Sheogorath

            1. I’d say definitely given his dialogue. He certainly looks like the Shivering Isles version and references a bunch of places/people there, as well as several things that happened in the main plotline.

        2. Carley says:

          “Alive” is kindof dubious here. Does becoming a deity count as “still alive?” Is it an argument here, since clearly Sheogorath wouldn’t need any of it?

    3. Destrustor says:

      She also couldn't take her cowl back from the grey fox.

      1. Gamer says:

        Actually, the Grey Fox states outright that she could, but she was so spiteful of him that she let him take it and suffer under its curse.

        They also explain that she could take the key back herself, but she was upset that the Nightingales failed in their duty to protect her so she didn’t take it back just to spite them until they got off their lazy asses.

        It’s basically Karliah’s fault.

        1. modus0 says:

          But in Oblivion she seemingly can’t take back the Eye of Nocturnal, she has to have you retrieve it (it’s even implied that she doesn’t even know where it’s been stashed!).

          And Mehrunes Dagon never bothers to try retrieving the Mysterium Xarxes after you steal it either.

          So either the Daedra Princes just like making mortals do their work and can’t be bothered to take their stuff back, or they can’t retrieve items that are said to be a part of them.

    4. Stebbi says:

      Daedra aren’t exactly gods. Think of them as more of forces of nature that are slaves to their own powers (that’s why for example the champion of cyrodil becomes eventually exactly like sheogarath when he turns into him). You see they aren’t really in full control of their actions.

      1. Dys says:

        Much like the rest of us.

      2. George Monet says:

        The daedra are humanoid mortals belonging to the daedra race. They can’t age but they can be killed. The most powerful daedra are lords of a planes that are separated from the world and can control every aspect of that plane within reason so long as no one else is also trying to control that plane within reason. The daedra can only reach into the world from their plane where other mortals have opened a path from the world to that daedra’s plane. Souls in the plane that are controlled by the daedra do not move on to the afterlife but remain in the plane, including the souls of the daedra. As the daedra can use their power to control the plane to expand the scope of their conciousness within the plane they control, it becomes very hard to kill them inside the plane as you have to recondense the conciousness into a body in order to do so. Even when the daedra “leave” the plane, they only send a small part of themselves into the real world and the rest inside the plane.

        The artifacts created by the daedra within the plane remain partly tied to the plane of their creation, allowing the daedra to influence the artifact and slightly influence the world around the artifact to a limited extent. Because the artifact exists partially within the plane as well as the world, it returns to the plane of its creation every hundred years or so.

    5. guy says:

      If Azura is anything to go by, once their artifact is manifested they can’t do anything about it. Exact quote from Azura: “Eventually, the Star will fade back into my realm in Oblivion, but I doubt you have the hundred or so years it would take to wait.”

      So they ask the Dragonborn to handle their artifact problems with varying degrees of politeness.

      The Nightingale granted powers are much less sensible, but the Daedric Princes are almost entirely slightly nuts.

  6. Greg says:

    I guess it also makes sense as an option if your soul is already committed elsewhere, I mean Nocturnal might steal it, but her having it probably isn’t worse than the half dozen other places it might be ;)

    I didn’t try not accepting the deal, does the game railroad you into doing it anyway? Or not let you continue the quest until you did? I’m guessing there’s no “I don’t want to be a Nightingale, but you suit up and we’ll go catch Mercer anyway.”

    It throws me slightly to see Shamus misquote four lines below a screenshot of the exact quote. Not that it matters, the meaning is exactly the same and the point stands strong.

    1. Shamus says:

      Hm. I didn’t even notice that. I typed the quote from memory, and took the screenshot later. And yes, I’m aware that this was a backwards way to do things. If I’d been more diligent with the screenshots I wouldn’t have needed to play through it that additional time.

      1. Steve C says:

        You played through it an additional time? O.o
        And you wonder why you got horrible eye infections…

    2. Phoenix says:

      You can go away pressing tab. They stand there waiting forever. And you can’t progress with the quest-line. That’s what I did.

      Also the other guy for the initiation first says something like: “Losing our souls, why? I don’t like the deal” then changes his mind without reason “Yes yes it’s the best thing to do”.

      1. acronix says:

        The reason he changes his mind is Karliah saying “We have no other choice!”. Which is true: the writers din´t think of any other choice, so there´s indeed no other choice. They both know they are inside a Bethesda game and are resigned to it!

        1. Phoenix says:

          Lol yeah ^_^

      2. WJS says:

        I do like the thought of them standing there waiting for you until they die of old age. Yes, sure, they couldn’t possibly program everything else you could do, but they certainly could program something else for you to do. I really don’t know whether it’s laziness or that they really were so arrogant they couldn’t imagine anyone not thinking the story they wrote was “teh awesum”.

    3. Ateius says:

      What made me laugh about that was, while you tell Karliah you’ll go through with the deal, unlike Mercer and Karliah you never actually make a deal with Nocturnal. You just stand there and don’t promise her anything. I don’t think she even addresses you, although it’s been a while.

      I like to pretend my thief outwitted a deity that way.

  7. RariowunIrskand says:

    After reading the previous one of these, I’ve made a Thieves Guild character after all and quickly ran through on the lowest difficulty. I had a good laugh.

    By this point, I felt that the game was going to have some dramatic revelation a la “Karliah is EVIL after all and she just wanted to sell your soul to get herself power!” (Hey, seems like a pretty good twist. I’ve always been appreciative of quadruple agents in stories). I just honestly couldn’t believe that the writers would get so bad. I’ve done the Markarth forsworn quest that you awarded “Worst written quest in Skyrim” to back in the first one of these, and I have to disagree. That one had some stupid moments, but this one is a barrel of stupid-mead which you have to flush down with some stupid-wine, and then flush the taste of it with stupid-water.

    1. I definitely did get the vibe that Karliah was just using you to get back into Nocturnal’s good graces and not be punished for failing. I was surprised there was no option to call her out on it, because she kind of was sacrificing both you and Brynjolf to save her own hide.

      Which in turn made our stop to become Nightingales make perfect sense in terms of her character motivation as a selfish incompetent with a warped sense of priorities.

      I hate her so much. She’s the Miranda of this game.

      1. Amanda says:

        I never shared this site’s hate for Miranda, but, yeah, general agreement. Karliah is really the worst. What bugs me the most about her is how she’s talked up continually by everyone as the “best most sparkly thief evar,” but everything she actually /does/ is incompetent and makes no sense. Including when she travels with you, which I’m sure will be covered in the next update.

        She struck me as someone’s D&D self-insert that they wanted to write in to the game, or something.

    2. psivamp says:

      My favorite thing about the Forsworn quest was that it turns your rigging (arms and stuff in first-person view) invisible and that effect fails to go away when the quest is over. So my first character has no arms, and her swords become invisible when she holds them. Plus side: spells look kinda neat just floating in front of you without hands blocking them.

      1. thebigJ_A says:

        What an odd bug. I’ve not heard of anyone getting that before. I’m glad it didn’t happen to me when I did that quest.

    3. Kdansky says:

      The forsworn quest is actually interesting, until it implodes with the force of a thousand suns when you get thrown into prison. The Thieves Guild quests on the other hand are a reeking pile of bovine dung from start to finish, but they are not quite a volatile.

      1. Klay F. says:

        Maybe I’m just thick, but I don’t really get the hate people have for the Markarth Forsworn quest. I pretty much figured from the start that the guy in jail was the main problem, so when I got arrested, it saved me from actually having to commit a crime. When I arrived I promptly acquired a shiv and stabbed the guy in the neck, then got the hell out of dodge.

        1. Irridium says:

          I did that at first, then got my ass handed to me by those dwarven machines on the escape route.

          So then I decided to go with him until we get passed those things, then murder him and everyone else. You know, use them then betray them (and get my Ebony Blade a nice boost in power). Well, it seems Bethesda didn’t plan for that. Since when I got passed it all and they gave me my items and started attacking the town, I decided to kill them then. Nobody fought back, always going “what are you doing?”. I eventually killed them all, but I think that might have broken something, hearing others talk about it. Apparently they were supposed to kill most of everyone and take over the town. I kind of stopped that.

          So yeah, there’s basically two options. Kill the leader or save the leader. Not save the leader then betray him later. Because god forbid a weak-ass player like me would need help getting past two of those Dwarven sphere bastards.

          1. Klay F. says:

            Yeah it helps to have high sneak or maybe some powerful spells.

            1. Trix says:

              Or in my case, claws and good restoration magic. And a lot of kiting.

              1. Restoration is such a useful school in this game. Borderline overpowered, unlike the other ones.

          2. thebigJ_A says:

            They don’t kill everyone and take over the town. They kill that guy who ran the jail and his men, then run out the gate and to a Forsworn camp. Assuming you helped them the whole way through, that camp (and ONLY that one Forsworn camp) is friendly to you from then on.

            They did take into account you betraying them halfway. If you betray them after you get your stuff back (and they give you that Forsworn armor), which is when it would make the most sense to betray them btw, the jail guy gives you his ring when you get out. You just waited until too late (and when it no longer made sense, you’d already freed them) to betray.

            The Forsworn quest in Markarth was one of the best, and until reading this thread I’ve consistently heard it praised (RPS forums and such). What problem do ppl have with it?

            1. Kdansky says:

              I’ll recount what happened to me:

              First I found it more than ridiculous that I needed to do a fetch-quest for a shiv, being the Archmage and all. I could just blast the guard to bits, but no, then the whole prison gangs up on me and I have to murder them all, because none of them actually want to live, and would rather try to beat up a clearly powerful wizard and his summons with bare hands. What’s the sensible thing you do when the new guy murders the thug who tries to intimidates everyone? Do you really go and help the guy who is losing, even though you have to fight someone even more powerful than the guy who you were afraid of up to now?

              Second I assumed I could not kill their leader. Because up to now, all important NPCs have been invulnerable. I actually consulted a FaQ to figure this out.

              So I allowed them all to escape, and saw how they plunder Markarth. Which is clearly not what I wanted and expected, so I reloaded an earlier save. Annoyingly, I didn’t have one that was practical, so I had to murder them all while running through the dwarven tunnels.

              At the end, everything bugged out completely. The other major NPC first gives me my stuff during conversation, then attacks me. I keep running and healing and after a while, he stops, talks some more, gives me a ring, and buggers off.

              The hell?

              1. Klay F. says:

                Considering the quest starts with a Forsworn member slaughtering a random person in the streets in broad daylight, then proclaiming how the Forsworn will kill everyone who isn’t Forsworn before dying, what did you honestly think was going to happen?

            2. Irridium says:

              Waited until it was too late? I betrayed them IMMEDIATELY when I got my stuff back. Nobody gave me any ring (I even went back into the jail to see if anything changed, talked to everyone I could. No ring), and people still say I helped kill half the town with the Forsworn.

              1. thebigJ_A says:

                You: “Since when I got passed it all and they gave me my items and started attacking the town, I decided to kill them then.”

                You let them into the town, something someone who didn’t want the Forsworn to start killing people in town wouldn’t do, so the game makes the rational assumption you decided to help them. People say you helped the Forsworn because…. you helped the Forsworn. You escorted them out into a city the Forsworn have sworn to kill all the Nords in. The fact that you started fighting them after doesn’t change the fact you helped them escape in the first place.

                You kill them IN the ruins, where it makes sense. Then, when you walk outside into Markarth, the guy who owns the jail talks to you and gives you a ring.

        2. That’s basically what I did – I figured I’d end up there, so I didn’t mind being arrested. I was also arch-mage at the time so I was hardly inconvenienced without my weapons – then I just killed every Forsworn I saw because screw those guys. So not really seeing the problem here.

          Well, there were problems where it glitched out and I couldn’t continue, but I fixed those.

        3. Jay says:

          I had a Red Eagle’s quest-flagged sword on me when they threw me into prison. It disappeared from my inventory, but was still in my favorites list. Oddly, a two-handed flaming sword makes a very satisfactory improvised shiv.

  8. Wandring says:

    After reading how the Oblivion (Elder Scroll’s IV) thieves guild operated (I use the term “operated” loosely in this context) on Rutskarn’s blog, I figured that the Skyrim iteration would have fixed how ass-backwards they do things.

    After taking a close look at the Skyrim thieves guild, the only positive thing I can say about it is that it makes me miss the old guild of mouth-breathers back in Cyrodiil!

    Can’t wait to see how they plan to top themselves in the next game! :P

    1. Bubble181 says:

      The sad part is, the Daggerfall Thieves’ Guild was actually very capable and efficient. Haven’t played Arena, but as far as I’ve played TES games, the Thieves’ Guild has gotten progressively more stupid.
      Whatever was wrong with a good old-fashioned Thieves’ Guild, stealing things for money and leverage?
      Really, looking back at it, Daggerfall had AMAZING questlines, coming from Beth. (The amount of people who ever become vampires in Daggerfall is probably only in the hundreds, considering you had to try quite hard to get bitten by a vampire in the first place. Then you had to purposely NOT heal yourself for days, even though the game is telling you you’re going to die. Oh, and there’s three different clans, one of which is only present in a part of the world you’d never go to for any other reason at all [and still has specific quests and shtuff. Amazing! People writing things and NOT forcing you to go look at them], and each has different questlines and benefits and drawbacks.) It’s just too bad the graphics are oh-so-bad. I like replaying old games, but can’t replay my all-time favourite because of the graphics. :-(

      1. Rasha says:

        Really? You aren’t kidding? You mean developers chasing the bleeding edge of graphics is a good thing. You’re absolutely positively not just trying to troll shamus?

        1. Kdansky says:

          There’s a difference between “serviceable” and “bleeding edge”. I like Dredmor, but I don’t like ASCII-Nethack.

  9. Piflik says:

    I actually quite like the look of the armor, but I really hate that mandatory cape. And the fact that the cowl distorts my feline face is also annoying.

    1. Phoenix says:

      What about the tail? It looks horrible popping out of the cape.

      1. Piflik says:

        Well…without the cape there wouldn’t be that problem.

    2. acronix says:

      Isn´t it interesting that the thief armor set they designed doesn´t mesh well with their designed thief-y races?

      Also, I like the look of the armor. I know it doesn´t make sense, but it´s a Bethesda game: clothes are the least logical problem they have.

      1. Tom says:

        Well, that’s not as bad as Oblivion, where the entire thieves’ guild quest they designed didn’t mesh at all with the mages’ guild quest. Apparently it never occurred to them that anyone would ever wish to do the thieves guild quest after the mages’ guild quest as the same character (what, wizards never get corrupt? Have you seen all those damned necromancers everywhere?), because halfway through the thieves’ guild quests, I get recruited into a plan to divert the guards off the guild’s back by robbing the arch mage’s chambers, followed by a cut-scene where a Dremora is sent on behalf of the archmage to deliver a message to the captain of the guard. Which was just a bit farcical because by this point in the game, I *WAS* the archmage.

        1. WJS says:

          Is that necessarily nonsensical, though? If the whole thing is supposed to be a diversion, it kinda makes sense for you to send a message saying, basically, “Hey, Captain, these thieves (who I have never seen before and am in no way affiliated with) have just robbed my quarters. Can you send some men to investigate?”

    3. To be fair, it’s magic armour you got from a rock. If it distorts your face there’s probably a reason for that – being anonymous or something.

      1. Dev Null says:

        Or just the fact that rocks make lousy tailors.

      2. Roll-a-Die says:

        But every armor and similar cowl does this.

    4. tengokujin says:

      There’s a mod for that.

    5. Kdansky says:

      The armor was designed to appeal to the AssCreed crowd, I’m pretty sure. It’s not like those guys would realize the idiocy of this plot.

      1. Gamer says:

        Hey. Not all of us AssCreed players are morons.

        Only most of us. (jk)

  10. Type_Variable says:

    You missed the bit where the secret Nightingale HQ is… right outside Riften.

    As for the “Karliah, I’m surprised..” part, the whole questline shows that Karliah is clearly Nocturnal’s b**** and would do ANYTHING for her approval and translates Nocturnal’s indifference as warmth, so clearly deluded about their communication as well. It’s like being led around by an oblivious stalker, and Byrnholf who’s here for the ride.

    1. Dwip says:

      The giant black obelisk with the symbol of Nocturnal makes for an effective disguise. Nobody’s going to find their secret base with that out front!

    2. Gamer says:

      True story. I had already discovered Nightingale HQ way before I was supposed to go there for the quest line. (There was a word wall somewhere in the area.)

      The “journey” there was just me hitting the fast-travel button.

      1. Destrustor says:

        I had found the sepulcher by chance the in-game day right before needing to go there.

  11. Dwip says:

    As much as my inner contrarian wants to write another epic length post refuting all this…nah. Because right about the time Karliah was talking about eternally serving Nocturnal was about the time that my self-serving mercenary rogue, were he not being controlled by a guy who wants to see how it all plays out, would have been all “Hooooooooold up there, cap’n. Time I got off the railroad. You all have fun with that, and me and my already-technically-sworn-to-thirteen-other-Daedra-lords-but-who’s-counting soul will see you all around somewhere. Somewhere else.”

    It would also help if he were living in a game without nonsensical plot railroading into however the designers think you ought to be playing your character, of which this is (sadly) not the worst example, but I think we knew that already.

    On the other hand, contrary to your opinion of it, I actually got a ton of milage out of my Nightingale armor. Certainly it’s better than either set of straight TG armor, and looks kind of badass. Paired up with some stuff from the DB set, and it was pretty effective, yet stylish. And I’m totally man enough to admit I’ll doom my character in the afterlife if it’ll make him look cool. Slave to fashion, that’s me, and he wasn’t really using his soul for anything anyway.

    Also, speak for yourself, those Nightingale powers were pretty useful. Better than most of the dragon shouts, though not as good as my orc’s wildly OP berserk power.

    And funnily enough, though I didn’t have a problem with the Brynjolf goes along with Karliah’s story and journal thing in the cistern, I spent the whole trek to Nightingale Hall going “Brynjolf, why are you even here, dude? Why are you even doing this? Why are you expressing all this doubt, then basically ignoring yourself because of I don’t even know why?”

    I don’t think I ever got a clear explanation for that one. He wasn’t even all that particularly useful in the final dungeon crawl, either.

    1. acronix says:

      The pre-made armor sets are ussually quite good if you lack smithing and enchanting (and, if you do, you can still enhace them in the forge/worktable). They also have the advantage that you don´t need to use 4+ perks on Smithing to get something decent. If you DO have enchanting, however, chances are you can put two enchantments on your new armor, and you can also cherry pick which enchantments so you aren´t stuck with a “resists poison” on your chestpiece or whatever.

    2. Kdansky says:

      The daily powers pale in comparison to enchantments and spells. It’s not that they are outright crap, it’s just that they are decidedly mediocre. In a world where I can cast Invisibility once every twenty seconds, I would not want to trade my soul for a once-a-day version, and the other two powers are way worse.

      That reminds me: I really don’t want MORE powers all crowding on my Z button. Really. I got a ton of shouts already, and I have to enter the (shitty) menu every few seconds to switch them around. Would have sold my soul happily for a few extra hotkeys.

      1. Dev Null says:

        Can’t be done; no more buttons on the console controller…

        1. Felblood says:

          Remember when console gamer had to make do with crap ports of OUR games.

          Granted, I bought most of those on the 360, back before I met the Red Ring.

          So, I guess the moral of the story is that I just can’t be on the right side at the right time.

          1. Phoenix says:

            Lol this world is insane :)

      2. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

        1. Favorite the spell/shout
        2. Open your spell/shout menu
        3. Highlight the spell/shout you want to use
        4. Hit a number key on your keyboard

        Hotkeys. Been there since day one.

        (edit: PC only, obviously)

        1. feighnt says:

          (edit – wait, i might be wrong about what i said, never mind, have to check when i get back from vacation…)

        2. Kdansky says:

          I know that there are hotkeys. I also know that there are only EIGHT. My WoW-Layout supported a ridiculous 60 hotkeys on the left hand alone, using zxcvfrqe123456, and shift/alt/ctrl. Skyrim is not meant to be played as a mage, because the spell system is completely off-balance, and you can only assign about 4-6 spells to hotkeys, because you just need the basic weapon/bow/shield/shout stuff too.

    3. thebigJ_A says:

      The powers are great! The invisibility is the best invisibility spell in the game. No casting time, auto-invis when you stealth. And if you do something to break the invisibility, it just comes right back when you stealth again.

      Healing yourself for 100 points, while also harming an enemy for the same is good in a pinch. Admittedly it becomes less useful at higher levels.

      The third one is a fury spell that affects everyone in a large area, even high level enemies. The very highest might be immune, but it’s still affecting enemies the normal spell wouldn’t.

  12. Sucal says:

    I’m gonna have to disagree with you on how bad the powers are. Well, at least how bad two of them are anyway. Personally I think Shadowcloak of Nocturnal is one of the best once a day powers in the game, just behind the Spectral Assassin, Berserker Rage and Werewolf form (mainly for the faster then horse speed and + 1000 or so carrying limit after a dungeon crawl)> I mean, when your doing actual thieving, or even in a tight spot, the ability to go invisible merely by crouching is incredibly useful, especially early in the game where reliable sources of invisibility cost too much for non illusion users.

    The rest of it didn’t exactly make sense, but as people have been saying, your basically taking the Constantine loophole when it comes to these deals. The moment a well played Dragonborn dies, there is basically going to be a massive all in Daedra brawl, even as he simply gives them the finger and heads into Sovngarde. Either that or gets Akatosh involved, as the various daedra attempt to eat his children.

    1. Sucal says:

      Gah, can’t edit for some reason. Anyway, the thing I find particularly stupid is the Skeleton Key was given out as a dang quest reward in practically ever other Skeleton key. Does that mean every other time Nocturnal was cursing everyone to bad luck as she locked herself out of house and home…

      Actually that might explain the collective IQ loss of the thieves guilds as the games go by.

    2. Phoenix says:

      The power to not break lockpicks can be useful if you don’t take the perks of lockpick (which aren’t really necessary even if you are a thief, I open everything with only one perk on lockpick). Anyway I got so many lockpicks that it kinda sucks both as perk and power.

      1. acronix says:

        You don´t even need any perk on lockpick: only lots and lots of lockpicks, which are very easy to come by.

        1. I got one perk in lockpick early on because I usually level it up, then I realised master locks were still kind of easy and felt like I’d wasted it for the rest of the game.

          1. tengokujin says:

            Especially when you can make armor to increase lockpicking ease by 192%.

          2. Jarenth says:

            Perk points in lockpicking only serve to make the minigame less boring, by making it be over sooner.

            1. Kdansky says:

              I actually liked the minigame the first few hundred times. But as all minigames go: It gets boring.

              1. acronix says:

                WTB autoattempt button!

              2. Phoenix says:

                I still find it amusing. Dunno why, lockpicks minigames likes me and I likes them :)

        2. Gamer says:

          My thief character currently has over 900 lockpicks.

    3. Destrustor says:

      Yeah the shadowcloak is the only one I bothered to even test, and it has served me well. Need to backstab a dude from the front, in broad daylight? Why yes, don't mind if I do.

  13. Pete says:

    So what does it say about me that the second I looked at the first screenshot my eyes were magnetically drawn to that red mountain flower bush and my brain locked up in Collect Ingredient mode?

    1. tengokujin says:


    2. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

      Ugh. Once you start doing that in real life, you know you need to stop playing.

    3. Reet says:

      When I started playing skyrim I was under the impression that it would take far more time than I had to collect enough under 1 pound ingredients to contribute a significant value to my overall encumbrance.

      Holy crap was I wrong.

    4. Carley says:

      Yeah, I did the exact same thing.

  14. Gamer says:

    I disagree with you on the Nightingale Armor. It looks cool and it was useful to me. (I say was because I eventually maxed out Smithing and Enchanting and got all of the good perks for them.)

    On the other hand, I was shocked that Brynjolf just went along with it. “I not very sure about th… Never mind, might as well sell my soul today.” Though I guess Nocturnal is one of the more pleasant Daedra to give your life to.
    Honestly, when I went through this. I though “He’s not that tough. I SAW him fight. I fought WITH him. He was completely uselesss.” But I just said “Well, might as well finish this.”

    When I go through quests in Oblivion/Skyrim, I always pretend that it’s a totally new character who is doing it. The game even says that there might be multiple Dragonborns in the world during the Main Quest. It helps to mitigate the pain. “That’s not MY character. That’s just some moron. My character just happened to come along later and take that guys stuff when he finished.” That way, I always feel better.

    In this next playthrough, I debating on whether or not to just skip the TQ questline or to just got along with it until I get the key and take it for myself.

    1. Dovius says:

      Wait, WHAT? Multiple Dragonborns? When is that said?

      1. Gamer says:

        You ask the guy on High Hrothgar “Am I the only Dragonborn?”
        He says “It’s impossible to know for sure, but you’re the only one that we know of.”

        The implication is that it is possible for multiple dragonborns to exist. It’s basically Bethesda allowing for the “Each quest was completed, but by a separate person” way of handling continuity to take hold in this game.

      2. Moriarty says:

        The greybeards are talking about the you being the only “known” one, there might be others, but they haven’t shown themselves. Given that you only notice you’re dragonborn if you stroll nearby a freshly slain dragon, I doubt many people would get the chance to test it out.

      3. Ira says:

        In-game, I’m not sure, but there have certainly been others throughout history.

        Still, I went with Gamer’s interpretation as well. Looking at Oblivion, my assumption was always that *someone* did the main quest, someone restored the fortunes of the Fighters Guild, someone became arch-mage and defeated the necromancers, someone freed Corvus Umbranox from Nocturnal, someone killed the entire Dark Brotherhood because the instructions said to, someone became a holy crusader and killed Umaril, and someone became Sheogorath…

        But they weren’t all the same guy.

        Possibly there is some cross-over. Maybe the Grandmaster of the Fighters Guild and the Divine Crusader were the same person. Maybe the Champion of Cyrodiil went on to become the Madgod. But one person did not do *all* the quests.

        Similarly with Skyrim. Someone does all the quests, but only one of those people was the Dragonborn.

    2. I want to know why they set up Brynjolf as a con artist by trade, then had him not know a raw deal when he saw it.

      1. X2Eliah says:

        His great ‘cons’ consist of trying to sell a “Falmerblood elixir, cures all your pains, ills and ailments”. Meaning, he’s not exactly the sharpest tool of the trade.

        1. tengokujin says:

          Yeah. That thing only heals 1 HP.

        2. No, that was a decent con – he was setting up an obvious snake oil sale in order to cover for framing a guy for stealing a ring. Everyone involved bought it (asking him sarcastically what he was selling this time) and the plan went off without a hitch (unless you screw it up). It’s only a genuine snake oil salesman routine if selling the useless health potions is the point.

    3. Stebbi says:

      Step 1: Do the drinking competition quest
      Step 2: Do not start the “finding out what I did last night quest”
      Step 3: Do the nightingale stuff pretending to still be drunk from step 1
      Step 4: Do the find out what I did last night quests and at the end visit the thieves guild going “Guys you won’t believe what happened last night. So there I was… Wait did you just say I sm the guildmaster now? Alrighty then lets get thieving”

      1. Gamer says:

        And already the questline makes much more sense.

        1. Jarenth says:

          Every questline would make more sense this way.

          “Wait, when did I become a werewolf, again?”

          1. guy says:

            Hey, hey, hey, I totally did the entire questline just because it meant I could turn into a werewolf. That one made perfect sense.

          2. Dovius says:

            It would also make some somewhat hilarious.

            “What the….a boat? The hell did I get he- Wait, who’s the dude in the robe?”

            Would make for intersting history lessons later on.

      2. Jeff says:

        I would pay to watch The Hangover 3: Skyrim.

        1. Phoenix says:

          Me too. That would be mad fun.

      3. What was that quest’s deal anyway? the moment I found Sanguine, none of my other objectives or debts mattered anymore.

        Also why did my ridiculously wealthy character borrow gold from someone to get a wedding ring when there aren’t any wedding rings in the game apart from the state issued ones when you actually have a wedding. The proposition item is the amulet of Mara, which isn’t even a ring.

        1. Dovius says:

          The quest’s deal is pretty much that Sanguine wanted to fuck with someone and laugh his ass off by then watching said person try to deal with the consequences.

  15. Mersadeon says:

    Ok, so I haven’t played through the main quest of Skyrim yet, so I don’t know if she even CAN take the soul of the Dragonborn even IF she got it through a (very one-sided) deal.

    But I’m just gonna say it anyway: No chance in hell my character would do that! See, my first character is kind of an asshole. Sure, he does help people, even if there is no reward. But if he has the decision between getting more powerful and helping, he’ll choose power. But giving up your SOUL to stop a guy I could totally stop already? No thank you, Miss Nocturnal!
    Also, isn’t Nocturnal the Deadra-Price of “getting her shit stolen and then not doing anything about it”? Cloak of the grey fox, the eye of Nocturnal, the Skeleton Key… I guess the other Deadra must have a good laugh about that. Besides Jyggalag, but he way to serious for humor, anyway.

    1. guy says:

      To be fair, like all the Daedric Princes got their shit stolen in this game.

      -Azura’s Star was stolen by a mage who turned it into a black soul gem in a bid for immortality.
      -Dawnbreaker was stolen by a necromancer who used its undead slaying powers to raise a bunch of undead.
      -The Razor was stolen and broken by the Dragon-God-Emperor’s groupies
      -The Mace of Whomever is nonfunctional due to blood magic
      -The Ebony Mail’s owner ran off with it
      -The Ebony Blade is locked in a closet


  16. Corpital says:

    Reading this I remembered a passage about Nocturnal in the “Invocation of Azura”, which could explain why this whole questline made no damn sense:
    I strove to understand her labyrinthine philosophy, the source of her mysterious pain. Everything about her was dark and shrouded, even the way she spoke and the acts she required of me. It took years for me to understand the simple fact that I could never understand Nocturnal. Her mystery was as essential to her as savagery was to Boethiah or treachery was to Molag Bal. To understand Nocturnal is to negate her, to pull back the curtains cloaking her realm of darkness.

    Regarding this, the quests seem like a Batman villainesque plan to get some souls…

    1. Klay F. says:

      This my friends is what we in the biz call a “handwave”.

  17. Captain Pandabear says:

    Though I agree with your assessment completely, allow me to play moron’s advocate and attempt to explain why the obvious flaws in this portion of the narrative are actually brilliant!

    Firstly, you aren’t selling your soul, but simply agreeing to guard Nocturnal’s shrine after death. Presumably this isn’t eternal, as Gallus goes away and stops guarding the crypt once the quest line is complete, and Mercer never shows up at all. There is clearly an exemption clause in the contract with Nocturnal that allows stupid assholes to walk away without paying for their.. er.. their stuff. That stuff they got from Nocturnal.

    Secondly, there is a difference between lore and mechanics. One could assume that, lore-wise, Nocturnal is making you extremely hot shit with luck-power, so you roll all sixes every time, but there is no way to represent this in-game appropriately. (Okay, fine, there are lots of ways to represent that appropriately, cut me a break, I’m defending an untenable position, here!)

    Finally, the armor at least -looks- pretty cool, and you can just run away with it without swearing any oaths. There is even a mod to scrub the shitty enchants off of it and put your own on it! That’s enough reason to do the quests, right? Who doesn’t want to look like a mix of Batman and Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

    Yes, that’s the best I can do to defend this garbage.

    1. There was a luck stat in the previous games. Maybe they should’ve kept it around?

    2. Gamer says:

      The luck Nocturnal gives isn’t the same as rolling sixes constantly. It’s more subtitle that. It’s the arrow that stuck its target it the perfect spot. It’s the one time a novice opens a Master level lock on his/her first try. It’s when guards turn away just before you go to do what you need to do, allowing you to avoid fighting them.

      Basically, it’s save-scumming and various quirks being explained in game. You already had her blessing.

      I guess they could explain that by saying that Nocturnal knew that you would do that. In fact, her plan hinged on the fact that you would eventually become a Nightingale and serve her. She’s the Mr. House of Skyrim.

      1. Captain Pandabear says:

        Nocturnal is in no way like Mr. House.

        Mr. House had a plan of action that made sense, and was awesome.

        1. Gamer says:

          Nocturnal knew you would say that. In fact, she counted on it in order for her plan to work. Her power relies on people not believing she has a plan. So she used this crappy questline to convince you to spread the word that she has no plan, boosting her power.

          1. Captain Pandabear says:

            That’s it. I’m desecrating the Twilight Sepulcher with bunny corpses and apple pies.

            Did Nocturnal plan on that?! Huh?!

            1. acronix says:

              She did. The next time someone tries to steal the key, they´ll trip over one of your bunnies and die a slow death after their face hits one of your pies.

              For you, it is desecrating. For her, you just installed the best security system ever.

              1. Dear Shamus, please install a like button for the comments. Signed Me.

  18. X2Eliah says:

    The whole ‘force the player to surrender his soul’ was the worst part of the entire TG questline.. It’s just obviously bad design, that screws over the players for no reward *and* conflicts with other quests (e.g. your sould for Sithis as the DB listener, and so on), with tripe explanation.

    You know, one way to solve this problem would have been very simple. Just have Brynjolf come up to you, on the way to the stone, and say something like “Listen lad, this is getting way out of control. We need to keep our heads here – the daedra are not gods, so if we both just stick to our wits and play along, it’ll go fine. And if Karliah or Nocturnal herself gets a whiff of this little scheme, well, we can just leg it, eh?”. Bam – now you are not surrendering your soul for arbitrary reason, you are just letting Karliah play out her charade with the orb-light-goddess. Moreover, it would show that Brynjolf is still somewhat sane, on your side, and has his priorities straight (1st – keep your soul, 2nd – get back at mercer for killing his friend, and not the other way around).

    1. Jeff says:

      Somebody provided a lore explanation that said that the Daedric Princes can’t actually claim your soul, but that Sithis can – and if you’re Dark Brotherhood, his claim will override all the others.

      1. Stebbi says:

        Why would Sithis be able to claim your soul? Sithis is literally nothing, it’s the void between realities, it’s the ultimate nothingness. It’s not the personification of nothing it’s nothing. It’s not an Aedra or a Daedra it’s nothing. The dark brotherhood literally worship nothing.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          I think you mean “Nothing” with a capital N. HPL would have to disagree with you, along with (it seems) the Dark Brotherhood.
          “The blind gods roar and rave and dream
          of all cities under the sea,
          for the heart of the North is broken,
          and the blood of the north is free!”
          There is much power, even in Nothing. For my part I would have nothing to do with Nothing, and stay far from those meddling in the Void.

        2. thebigJ_A says:

          Sithis isn’t just “nothing”, he’s Nothing, personified, as well as chaos. He’s Padomay, counter to Anu.

  19. Dys says:

    Nightingales sing in the night. They are beauty hidden in darkness and as such seem just fine as the symbol of Nocturnal. Crows, Ravens and Blackbirds are all day birds, which makes them rather unsuitable. Owls are already associated with wisdom, otherwise would probably be as good a choice. You seem to believe that Nocturnal is supposed to be threatening and insidious whereas in fact Boethiah is the prince of betrayal. Nocturnal’s realm is ineffable mysteries, secrets kept and all things hidden or night shrouded. I am quite fond of Nocturnal.

    When you’re actually in the dungeon you can tell Karliah and Brynjolf to stay where they are, while you go on ahead. I did that the first time, but it turns out that if they aren’t following you when you go through the last door, their AI doesn’t trigger correctly and they will never leave the water. I had to go back to a previous save, run all the way back to collect them and return to fight Mercer again.

  20. Jarenth says:

    I can think of no better way to represent Nocturnal, Daedra of mystery, stealth and subterfuge, than a big glowing ball of bright blue light.

    That is all.

    1. acronix says:

      If you added a dancing floor below, she´d be a disco ball.

    2. Friend of Dragons says:

      Yeah, I kinda have a feeling they made that model for Meridia (for whom it actually makes sense, being the Daedric Prince of Light), and then kinda sloppily ended up reusing it for Nocturne. I think if I was that rushed, though, I’d at least have put a purple filter on the model and maybe added a fog effect.

      1. thebigJ_A says:

        Meridia’s orb of light is in the game and looks totally different.

        Also, you get to hover miles above the world and look down on all of Skyrim when you meet her. It was one of the most glorious moments in the game for me!

        1. X2Eliah says:

          The only difference is a colour hue. Otherwise, same twodimensional flare image.

        2. It was, then an Elder dragon showed up and tried to kill her, and spent the next five minutes bumping her orb around the sky while I stood there laughing. Then the quest broke and I had to reload.

          1. thebigJ_A says:

            A dragon tried to kill Meridia?!? I didn’t even think the orb registered as a character. That’s hilarious!

  21. Grampy_Bone says:

    The rewards for these quests are scaled to your level. So if you do them at a higher level the Nightingale armor is quite decent, and the Nightingale sword, bow, and the unique glass sword Chillrend are all top-level weapons.

    Of course if you do it at a low level then they are middling-to-poor and you won’t keep them very long. The armor also cannot be “double improved” through smithing so that limits it usefulness, but hey smithing is pretty game-breaking anyway and not everyone is going to use it.

    As an aside, Shamus don’t ever play the Metal Gear Solid games. Your head will asplode.

    1. Keeshhound says:

      MGS is a lot more forgivable because it doesn’t have aspirations of being anything more than a ridiculous amalgam of James Bond and and a Micheal Bay movie.

      1. Klay F. says:

        Its also always fun to try and kill guards in the most over-the-top ridiculous ways possible. My best was the fake cigarette, girly magazine, throw a snake, bee suit combo. I had never laughed so hard before or since.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Well, someone has been paying attention to how ChipCheezum plays his games hasn’t he?

          1. Klay F. says:

            Haha yeah, it took me forever to replicate it, but when I did, I was oh so worth it.

      2. John Magnum says:

        The first MGS, maybe. After that, Kojima definitely set his sights higher than “goofy action pastiche”.

        1. Klay F. says:

          In MGS4 you WEAR FACE CAMO OF THE DEFEATED BOSSES. You can’t tell me Kojima created the ability to do this, saw it, and subsequently thought “Yup, this is a serious piece of fiction.”

          1. Raygereio says:

            I love people that criticize MGS4 for being to serious. It’s the most hilarious of all MGS games. Mind you; if you pay attention to the plot you’re likely to get an aneurysm, but at least you’ll die laughing from such exchanges as:
            “It even rained when I was born”
            “But you were the lightning in that rain”

            I’m farily sure Kojima’s arms just turned into a two large hams with which he just wailed onto his keyboard as he was writing.

            1. Grampy_Bone says:

              Yeah, Kojima thinks the MGS games are to be taken super super cereal. Case in point, play the original MGS and compare it to the Twin Snakes remake for the Gamecube. The script is identical but the tone of the remake is completely different.

              You see, Kojima wasn’t directly involved in the english localization of the first game and the translators and voice actors decided to adopt a campy, lighter tone with their roles. Kojima was not happy about this so he became directly involved with all the later translations, which is why they all act way more serious in the later games, even when fighting a Bee Man who Shoots Bees At You.

          2. Lord of Rapture says:

            Then he should have stopped creating 30 minute cutscenes dedicated to wrapping up the entire plot of the series.

            1. Klay F. says:

              Some people just won’t ever be satisfied.

    2. Gamer says:

      This is slightly off topic, but does anyone else here hate when quest-specific loot is leveled (like the Nightingale Armor). It always makes me feel punished for daring to complete a quest before I hit the highest level for scaled equipment (I think level 50).

      1. WJS says:

        Oh yeah, that really sucks. I recall a mod (probably for Oblivion, I played way more of that) that would periodically check if you had any obsolete quest reward crap, and if so replace it with the version for your level. Simple, yet a great patch for (at least part of) the horrible “levelled content” in that game.

  22. el_b says:

    so, you’re playing as a cat man who has the soul of a dragon and can become a werewolf or vampire and also lead all the guilds? this game sounds like most fanfics!

  23. Hitch says:

    People make the mistake of thinking that Daedra are god-like beings of great power. Basically, they’re just beings from another dimension with specific, and very limited, ability to interfere with Mundus.

    They like to claim that mortals are bargaining away their souls for access to their Daedric powers, but there’s little to no evidence that they actually have the ability to collect those souls they bargain for.

    The fact that they constantly need to make deals with mortals to get anything done is strong evidence for them being far less powerful than they like to imply. More often than not, any mortal contacted by a Daedra is given a quest to recover some artifact previously stolen by a different mortal. If they had any real power, they wouldn’t lose their artifacts at all, let alone on a regular basis.

    Which is to say:

    There is no reason to accept this deal except that this idiot questline requires it.

    Is no more valid than claiming that by all evidence in the game(s), there’s no reason not to accept this deal.

    1. guy says:

      See, there’s a major flaw in the arguement that the Daedra don’t have much power in Mundus, and it’s called the Oblivion main quest

      Meherunes Dagon manifesting in Imperial City itself and battling Martin’s God Dragon form in the streets sound familiar?

      Also, the Lord Of The Hunt most definitely makes good on his soul-collection deals.

      1. Klay F. says:

        Yeah I was about to say, Meherunes Dagon very specifically has the power to obtain people’s souls. Also, Molag Bal IS THE MASTER OF SOUL ENSLAVEMENT.

      2. Aegis Seigi says:

        Well, if I remember correctly, Mehrunes Dagon was actually the lord of his own little plane of reality, but got tricked out of it or something by the Divines, who took over the god role, and made Tamriel, and lorded over it’s people.

        As a result, he would have some degree of control over Tamriel (as it was/is his personal plane), hence being the Daedra Prince that could stage a full-scale invasion of the world of humanity/mer-anity.

        1. Yeah, but he also has his Badlands which are an entirely different plane he owns (the one you visit in Oblivion) and the one who claimed that was someone who worshipped him, so the truth of the matter is somewhat unclear.

    2. Irridium says:

      But later we see that Nocturnal can do this with the Nightingales, when we get to the Twilight Sepulchur.

      There’s Gallus’ ghost and the ghosts of other Nightingales everywhere.

      Also, what about Dagon almost taking over all of Tamriel in Oblivion?

    3. Yonder says:

      Actually in Tamriel I think that the fact that everyone and their brother has soul gems scattered around their book shelves is an indication that you should assume a powerful creature that claims he can claim your soul actually can. All they really have to do is get their hands on a black soul gem and cast Soul Trap with a duration of 100 years or so. Or just check in once a decade and cast Soul Trap with a 10 year duration, or just pay attention to you and cast a normal soul trap spell right before you die.

  24. Jeff says:

    I just wanted to point out that the #1 illusion spell a thief would want (in Skyrim) is actually Invisibility.

    1. Piflik says:

      The #1 Spell I want is Chameleon…preferably as enchantment…

      1. Gamer says:

        You know, part of me misses my InvisArmor from Oblivion. Man, that Chameleon enchantment broke the game.

  25. acronix says:

    EDIT: Well, smurfocks. This was suppoused to be a reply to Hitch above

    The problem is how the daedra are presented. Everyone in the game world seems to think daedra are extremely powerful beings and that dealing with them qualifies you as an evil doer (except for the pair that isn´t totally evil). The player can use his metaknowledge to conclude that they are actually quite stupid and not powerful at all (just like you did). But that still leaves the gameworld treating them like awesome creatures of uncomprehensible goals and twisted minds. The writers wrote them as god-like beings that are treated like god-like beings (look at all the worshipers each one has), but forgot to SHOW them as god-like beings.

    With that said, the only reason to accept the deal is to have metaknowlede that A) the daedra aren´t that powerful B) Your soul probably doesn´t go anywhere and C) that selling your character´s soul has no in-game effect. But your character has no way of knowing if it is true or not. Even considering the “there´s no evidence to suggest they do”, there´s the fact that there´s no evidence that they do not, either. At least until you die and the werewolf not-god takes you to his hunting grounds, but we don´t get that in game.

    1. Hitch says:

      Admittedly according to the lore they are extremely powerful being just like everyone in the game says. I just contend it’s a bit of an oversight when the designers fail to include any extremely-powerful-being-ness in the actual game.

      I was thinking about this after my earlier posts and wouldn’t it be interesting if the game acknowledged your soul bartering/corruption by locking you out of any other Daedric quests as long as you were under the influence of any of the others. “I have an extremely powerful artifact, but you can’t have it because you belong to Azura. If you want my goody, get rid of the Black Star and atone for your actions for Azura to cleanse your soul so I can corrupt it.” Then those things seem all the more powerful. You have to choose which one you want. Of course you’d need a quest to get rid of every daedric artifact and remove that Daedra’s influence from you.

      Then, as people have mentioned, the Dragonsoul may be incompatible with a Daedric influence. Can you complete the main quest with a corrupted soul? Can you shout with one? Is any Daedric artifact worth giving up your thu’un?

      1. Gamer says:

        Then most people would just take Azura’s Star and be done with it. Most of the other artifacts aren’t that good. Especially with a high Enchanting skill. Literally all of the other artifacts are collecting dust in my house.

        1. acronix says:

          This could be remedied if the artifacts were impossible to replicate, either because of unique (and useful) effects or because of enchanting being unable to match their enchantments by normal means, or both.

          The fact that a mortal can eventually match and surpass their artifacts is quite convincing evidence that the daedric princes aren´t that powerful.

          1. Gamer says:

            The other problem is that the ones with unique effects (like the Ebony Blade and the Wabbajack), at least to me, often also have too many downsides to really use.

            Wabbajack is unpredictable.

            Ebony Blade only gets stronger by reaping the souls of people who like you.

            Ebony Mail has a chance of burning both friend and foe.

            The Razor’s instant kill effect is unreliable.

            Skull of Corruption is too gimmicky and doesn’t have much power.

            Admittedly, the others look like they’d be pretty interesting if the actual base weapon was a bit stronger (except Volundrong, but that’s because I hate 2 handed weapons).

            And the Oghma Infinitum is a vital component to a glitch that let’s you level your character to the max in less than 10 minutes.

  26. Sozac says:

    Thieves’ Guild died for me after I sold the original vendor trash Thieves’ Guild armor at the beginning only to find out later I can’t finish the restore the thieves’ guild quests. This was a serious problem when I got there because I wasn’t going to do the Theives’ Guild again after I got to the end once. It was also pretty stupid during the whole swearing your soul to Nocturnal thing. I was a werewolf at the time so I didn’t know how that would work. Would Hircine and Nocturnal saw my soul in half and split it.

    Also, its pretty funny how I was a heavy armor/two handed tank and could be leader of the Thieves’ Guild. At least Winterhold had a test that took some time to bs through just to get in. She wanted me to do some illusion magic( I had only ever used restoration up to that point.
    I didn’t have enough magicka so I had to buy robes of illusion and down a potion just to do one spell. Its not really a problem that Oblivion and Skyrim do this, but it is always funny.

    1. thebigJ_A says:

      What are you on about?

      Selling it just means you can’t upgrade one of the parts to a better version, that’s all. It’s a separate miscellaneous quest you get after finishing Scoundrel’s Folly and has nothing to do with returning the guild to its former glory.

      Those quests come from Vex and Devlin.

      1. Gamer says:

        If you sell all the armor before the upgrade event, it’s impossible for you to finish the questline. This means it’s impossible to restore the Thieves’ Guild.

        That’s a pretty major oversight from Bethesda.

      2. Moriarty says:

        While the quests are seperate, the first quest to upgrade your thieves guild armor will lock Tonilla into the upgrade dialogue, making it impossible to receive the guild master armor from her.

        It doesn’t really matter though, because nothing really changes after finishing the guild master quest anyway.

      3. thebigJ_A says:

        Huh. I stand corrected. That’s a pretty significant screw up.

        I guess they just never thought a thief would sell all the thief armor, it being so useful for a thief class, and all. It’s no excuse, of course. That needs fixing.

    2. WJS says:

      Given that the Thieves’ Guild in Skyrim is basically the Nordic Mafia, no, I don’t think it odd that a fighter could rise to the top.

  27. DrinkingWithSkeletons says:

    I was under the impression that the Nightingales were called such because the word translates to “night songstress” and because most songbirds are interested in (stealing) shiny objects.

  28. Paul Spooner says:

    Game companies should really prototype their “story” before getting them animated and voice acted. A simple text based adventure (you can easily make one with javascript) would help a lot in clearing up this horendous gameplay. It would probably take just a week to mock up, and then you could refine it without all this flashy graphic stuff distracting you from the plot. Even the great artists of the past did thumbnails and sketches before launching into their fully rendered painting. The most basic planning and prudent preparation would avert many of these issues.
    Sheesh, who gives these hacks money? Oh wait, most of you do. The developers are not what is wrong with video game storytelling, it’s the customers. If you don’t like this tripe, don’t buy it.
    Which, ultimately, is not to say that there is no redeeming value in Skyrim. I understand the people play these games for a host of reasons, many of them good. The point is developers are getting rewarded for this kind of ridiculous “storytelling”, which only ensures it will continue unchanged.

    1. John Magnum says:

      That’s kind of overly reductive. You yourself recognize that there are many reasons to get or refuse to get a game, not just writing. So, what, if you really like the world and gameplay but don’t like the writing, are you somehow committed to supporting the writing because you spend money on it? There’s no way to JUST refuse to buy the writing. And if we did refuse to buy the game, it’s not like that would communicate to Bethesda “The writing is insufficiently good”. Even if somehow sales dropped enough that they started noticing, “We need to improve the quality of our writing” doesn’t seem like the obvious conclusion to draw.

      It’s just really sloppy to go “Game with bad writing sells well” -> “Gamers are ‘rewarding’ bad writing” -> “Gamers are at fault for writing never improving”. Seriously? How can you even think that?

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I’m glad you asked. As it turns out, the people at Bethesda are smart folks. Probably smarter than you and I. They can see what is selling; What the market demands. What is selling is “good graphics” and that is what they have delivered. Now, it happens that the Bethesda team has a good deal of “RPG” experience, so they are targeting that sector of the market. They threw a bunch of RPG elements on top of their pretty FPS engine and tried to keep the plot doors and clipping planes to a minimum. And a lot of people bought it. And that’s fine.
        However, there is more than the binary choice of “buy Skyrim VS don’t buy Skyrim” and you’d better believe that if you took your money and bought four indie games with great story (if you can find them, the indie writing is usually even worse than AAA writing) instead of Skyrim, Bethesda would notice. They have a whole team of guys who do nothing but watch what people are buying, and why.
        That (since you asked) is how I can think that it is the gamer’s fault, and not the developers, that video game writing is bad.

        And yes, I do find it a bit hypocritical that Shamus spent his (we can assume, meager) cash to buy a copy of Skyrim after his continual rants against degrading storytelling and overhyped graphics. I’d like to hear his justification for doing so (which, I will concede in advance, is probably good).

        1. Harry says:

          Shamus presents a video game series named Spoiler Warning, intermittently writes for the Escapist, and writes about games on his blog. To completely pass on Skyrim, probably the biggest game of 2011, would leave him unable to talk about a topic which his audience would want him to talk about.

          Furthermore, Shamus had no way of knowing the quality of the writing of Skyrim before buying it.

          And finally, Skyrim has many redeeming qualities which mean that, despite its frequent stupidity when it comes to its plot, it is still one of the best games of 2011 in the opinion of myself, many other of its players, and many reviewing sites. This is because of its ambition and its creation of a truly open world. It is supporting a type of explorative gameplay which relies on player agency rather than cutscenes, plot doors and invisible walls, and it is definitely worth supporting with our money as it provides an alternative to the soul-crushing linearity of many other popular AAA games (*coughCallofDutycough*).

          1. Klay F. says:

            I have to disagree with you that Skyrim has ambition. To have ambition, you actually have to do something risky. There is nothing risky about Skyrim. In fact, Skyrim is the opposite of ambitious. Every Elder Scrolls game has been smaller than its predecessor going back to Arena. They have also refused the fix the problems endemic to their library of games as a whole, and I’m not talking about bugs, I’m talking about shit gameplay, I’m talking about questlines that cause physical pain to experience. That is not ambitious.

            I fully expect Elder Scrolls VIII to be set in a log cabin. But damn if Todd Howard won’t still claim its the biggest Elder Scrolls game ever.

        2. George Monet says:

          Skyrim is a much better RPG than many less graphically intense RPGs. The reason is that Skyrim allows for a much greater sense of ROLE PLAYING than those other RPGs as the world is much more immersive. Sure the writing is gash, but the exploration experience is top notch, and that is what the role playing is really about. Having a better plot railroad doesn’t mean being a better RPG. Allowing for better ROLE PLAYING is what makes the better RPG experience. That’s also why stats and skill don’t lead to role playing but are simply things attached to games which allow role playing.

          Think about a pen and paper experience, you can have the most immersive and amazing role playing session without ever rolling a single dice or making a skill check, because role playing is about taking on a role, it isn’t about game mechanics.

          1. WJS says:

            You’re kidding, right? How many articles has Shamus written about the railroading in quests in Bethesda games now? Most of the time, your choices are basically “do the quest” or “don’t do the quest”. I don’t consider that a great free-form role-playing experience.

    2. JPH says:

      I’m not going to pass on a huge, expansive, and thoroughly enjoyable game so I can make a statement about the quality of video game writing. If you want to, go for it. I buy games so I can have fun playing them.

      I do appreciate the backhanded insults, though. Thanks for that.

  29. decius says:

    “They are not harbingers of danger, adventure, or secrecy. They're actually cute, fluffy little birds. It's a terrible, terrible name for your super-secret cult.”

    I disagree. ‘Nightingales’ does sound like exactly the opposite of what a secret cult organization should be- but that is exactly what a code name should be. Nobody wonders about what ‘The Dark Brotherhood’ does, because it’s right there in the name. ‘The Blades’ doesn’t connotate spies or a secret organization of any sort, much less one that is trusted with the personal family secrets of the emperor, but it gets a pass because it sound cool?

    1. burningdragoon says:

      “because it sounds cool” is a completely valid reasoning for so many things.

    2. Kdansky says:

      “Nightingales” is a great name for a Guild of BARDS.

      Not Thieves. Bards.

      1. WJS says:

        And bards are pretty closely related to thieves.

  30. burningdragoon says:

    I must have checked out of this questline the first time through, cuz I didn’t even register the selling your soul but until the second time. I thought the powers and armor were pretty useful, though not amazing. Of course I barely had any skill in smithing or enchanting and no perks in either.

    As an argonian, I have consistently gone helmetless for almost the entire game cuz pretty much all headgear looks gloriously awful on lizard folk. And the ones that don’t still cover the super badass spikes coming out of my head. So yeah, the ‘coolness’ of the armor was pretty much wasted anyway. I would use the body piece when fighting any frost dragons though.

    AND I definitely didn’t need any help from Nocturnal on Mercer anyway since I just Fus Ro Da’d him of the damn statue. Boom, instakill

  31. Jay says:

    After this quest, I did a Dark Brotherhood quest that involves impersonating a chef. I was wearing Nightingale armor, gloves, and boots. I had a huge ebony bow with lightning magic running up and down it, ten invisibility potions, about 30 healing potions, and about fifty vials of poison. And I was wearing a chef’s hat. Elmer Fudd would not have been fooled, but Skyrim guards were.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      Did you do that quest and finish it? It kind of comes clear that you didn’t fool anybody, and it was a set-up.

      1. Jay says:

        Yeah, after I killed the *spoiler* they tried to catch me. Their efforts were barely annoying. Did I mention the ten invisibility potions? And why did they wait until I’d killed to arrest me?

        It was just one of those “story collapse” moments that Seamus talks about. For me, at least.

  32. Tharwen says:

    I find that to truly appreciate Bethesda games you have to settle yourself into a comfortable sheath of doublethink to protect your enjoyment from any stupid that comes your way.

    Dangerous, I know. But I wouldn’t be able to play them otherwise.

  33. thebigJ_A says:

    The Nightingale Armor is levelled, so it’s better or worse depending on when you get it. As a thief, I didn’t use smithing or enchanting, so it was better than the armor I’d been using (DB armor. Not the ancient, just the regular.) And, while wearing it, thieves you meet actually pay YOU! They’ll give you like 500 gold and run away. How cool is that?

    Also, the Muffle on the boots (and on the DB boots) is better than any Muffle enchant you can make, at least until you have a very high enchant skill. People did tests:

  34. The Hokey Pokey says:

    Funny thing is, the thieves guild broke for me in the second quest. The one where you steal something and plant it on another guy was just about the only proper quest in the whole thing. All I heard Brynjolf say was “Tell three merchants in town that you are a member of the Thieves Guild.” Why, so they can send out a memo to the other shop keepers that I am not to be trusted? Maybe they can tell the guards so they will tail me wherever I go. That would totally allow me to be the best thief ever. All for what, maintaining a few negligible protection rackets? This isn’t the thieves guild, this is the mob.

  35. reg42 says:

    Actually you can take off the Nightingale armour right after they give it to you.

  36. Dev Null says:

    I just read the quote on the first screenshot and actually paid attention:

    “This is the headquarters of the Nightengales, carved into the mountainside by the first of our kind”

    So you’re a guild of miners?

  37. Eärlindor says:

    Hm… if becoming a Nightingale makes your soul the property of Nocturnal, and becoming a werewolf makes your soul the property of Hircine, what happens if you are both?

    *Evil grin*

  38. Domein says:

    Whole skyrim doesn’t make sense with bandits contributing around 90% of world population and all of them being literate, hell, playing games doesn’t make sense at all if you are so bent on picking them apart and comparing to real life.

  39. Carley says:

    My problem with the Thieves Guild is it just isn’t very…thiefy. Like, I would have expected the Dark Brotherhood to be the more martial of them, if you were going to have two stealth factions (especially with that mage guy in the Brotherhood who tells you he likes to just burn a face off and run, rather than relying on sneaking around), but that didn’t end up being the case at all. I played a character heavily weighted toward stealth, and I burned through the Dark Brotherhood in a day or two (doing other stuff on the side of course). I’ve been working on the Thieves Guild for over a week. I keep having to leave the line hanging for awhile to level grind just so I can survive the next quest. Mercer waited on me outside Snow Veil for like a month (after I died 10 or so times on my first go).

  40. Vlyn says:


    I could say so much things about this, sorry, but stupid article. It seems like you rushed through the game and never ever picked all the dialogue options?

    For example: Karliah was running away for 25 years. The whole thieves guild was behind her, with it most likely the Dark Brotherhood (hired) and lots and lots of people. She ran for her life and forged a plan to come back. Mercer was a Nightingale and knew the secret spots. Just coming back would get her killed.

    About the mead: The economy of Riften is built mainly on mead. When you disturb it you piss the highest townfolk of Riften off and crush the economy of a whole town (And therefore the taxes for the Jarl). It’s an heavy impact because this money gets used for the war (As you’re told ingame). When the economy goes down, the thieves guild will get crushed (because it’s “guarded” by the big families of Riften).

    About the treasure:
    Over the 25 years Mercer just stole from it, he never cleared it out. Maybe this is one of the reasons the guild is poor? He was also the bookkeeper and when he is subtle enough nobody will find out. Btw.: Every thief gets his cut for every “mission”. A part of it goes into the vault. The whole hideout, training, bribe money and so on is paid from it. The guild can only survive because they bribe and work for the most influental people of Riften. One time you get told: Do something stupid and they'll just order the Dark Brotherhood to kill you. (Of course, if you do the DB Quests first it sounds kind of silly… but who do you really trust when it comes to tons of gold?). Back to Mercer: I don't know how he cleared the vault, but use your imagination? He could've done it in a timespan of maybe a week? (Depends on how often the door is opened) And when he does it, why not send all the guild members out? Big mission, you do this, you do that, you three are the distraction, blah blah. When he's clever he could clear the hideout while everyone is around the world doing stuff. And maybe he doesn't even have to get it up the ladder? The sewers are big, there could be dozens of tunnels (like the one in his house!). Maybe he got the loot into these tunnels first, then when he had the time he lured them into a hideout / his house and after that shipped them out of town / skyrim? It's so sad that most people just look at the story the game tells you without thinking of what else could've happened…

    About the AI in dungeons: It worked perfectly for me. Only one time did Karliah run into a trap which was very hard to avoid (spinning Blades). The rest of the time I went first (sneaking), killed one Falmer off, the other two started a battle and I silently murdered the enemies around them. It was like a distraction and very welcome for me.

    About skills/AI/perks: Stop basing everything of the story on your engine skills! You get some really nice things from Nocturnal in the lore (Only in the lore, you won’t notice it ingame). The Nightingale Armor is neat, even though there are better pieces out there and everybody knows, that smithing + enchanting on high levels is “broken” or just overpowered. There will always be stronger items… but the weaker ones are not necessarely crap.

    The Elder Scrolls games are about lore and immersion, not about pure Skills and Engine. When you only look at the latter, you break the game for yourself.

    One short rant about the comments over Multichar/Singlechar playthroughs:

    I think it’s GOOD that you can play every questline with one char. Imagine the following: You don’t play a pure mage or warrior, but a Battlemage. Now you want to join the college and suddenly you don’t have enough skill / perks or whatever in magic. Okay… let's go to the Companions! Argh damn! Also not enough warrior perks/skills.

    TES is about freedom. Play it like YOU want! Just because you CAN do something, you don’t NEED to do it! I played as a mage first and joined the college / played the main questline. Then I made a Thief/Assassin and ONLY played the thieves guild / dark brotherhood. Every character has a story and is good or evil or whatever. He or she has it’s own beliefs in the game world. It’s really satisfying to play like that and you only do things that your character would do. I play a mage… just because I CAN join the Companions I'd never do it. But I could be a battlemage and want to do it and then there shouldn’t be some stupid skill barriers hindering me.

    Not the game breaks the lore for you, you break it for yourself. Play a warrior and join the College? Your own damn fault! Don’t complain afterwards that you COULD join it, why should they stop you from doing so if you WANT it?

    When you really dedicate your character to certain playstyles those “Now you're leader” quests seem much less stupid. It feels really rewarding because your char tries to be the best at what he or she does and can finally in the end reach the top of the guilds. I have a pure Mage… it would suck if I couldn’t be the archmage in the end!

    You can either play Skyrim as a shooter, run through everything just because you can and “finish” the game after 40 hours (There are idiots that say: I've seen everything after that time!), or you enjoy the ride, the lore and the world and just do a little bit of roleplay. In the end it's the best RPG I've played till now and after 140 hours I'm still eager to play it and try other ways to do so (Warrior, here I come!).

    Bye ;-)

    Edit: Damn, I forgot about Karliahs Arrow! First: She tells you when you ask her out that she had no clear shot at Mercer. Better shoot one down instead of running away (Otherwise you'd still think she is the bad guy and hunt her down!)

    And about paralyse arrows: Dude, they're ingame! Use Alchemy, create paralyse poison, use it on your Arrows (Bow) and fire… you got it! Karliahs poison was special (Paralyse + Slow Heartbeat, looking like being dead). No wonder she needed long to make it and you wouldn't need this kind of poison as a player… except for special quests!

    1. WJS says:

      Riiiight, because when you want to convince someone you aren’t an enemy, the logical thing to do is shoot them.

  41. Rosemary Kaye says:

    You can take the disgusting nightingale garbage off when the quest notices it, you don’t have to wear for the stupid ritual.

  42. Cain says:

    By the time I did this quest I had already John Constantine’d my soul between all the other Daedric Princes and possibly two of the Nine Divines as well. If Nocturnal wanted my character’s soul upon death, she’d have to wait in line.

  43. Flavius says:

    I recently came across a passage in The Count of Monte Cristo which may–just possibly–provide some context for why the name “Nightingales” was chosen; emphasis mine:

    “The Count soon heard the clink of iron on iron made by the rustling of that bunch of shapeless keys that locksmiths bring when you call for them to open a door, and which thieves call skeleton keys; or, if they are French thieves, rossignols, which means ‘Nightingales’, no doubt because of the pleasure they experience on listening to their nocturnal song when they grate against the bolt of a lock.

    At the same time, this seems to an obscure usage. I cannot find more than a handful of usages of the word Nightingale in this manner; and various dictionaries I have looked at do not include this definition…Perhaps it is an archaic colloquialism…So while it might make sense, perhaps it is too obscure a reference to simply dump in to the game without further explanation…Assuming, of course, that the writers did not simply get lucky this time.

  44. Mawnster says:

    Small dumb detail. Karliah asks you to go to the west spot when you enter the room with Nocturnal. I naturally checked the compass. Then I went on the spot the quest marker was pointing. Which is actually the east spot. They made her say “western” hoping that everyone would just have the reflex to go left. I can’t believe they did that. The game has a god damn compass on the HUD and they still do that kind of crap.

  45. George Monet says:

    “but whatever ““ gods don't really need to make sense the way people do”

    Incorrect. In our world gods don’t need to make sense because they don’t exist and are just fictional stories people tell each other. In a world where gods actually DO EXIST then they need to make sense because their world isn’t a one shot deal, it is an ongoing series of events where A lead to B leads to C lead to D ad inifinitem. Gods do have a goal, and because gods are immortal their goals are encompassing infinite time frames. They have grand plans which will require all of eternity to accomplish because that is how far ahead an immortal being plans.

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