Skyrim EP2: Pot Head

By Shamus Posted Friday Feb 7, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 153 comments

Link (YouTube)

Since this recording, I did indeed start a new game as an unarmed / heavy armor user. It strikes me as being OP the moment you get the “do your glove armor rating in damage” perk, although it’s annoying to get to that point. I parked myself in a cave and let a bandit tickle me with his dagger for 20 minutes to get heavy armor that high. That skill levels slow.

I’ve heard it suggested that unarmed is weak in the late game. I’ll let you know how it goes. Or maybe I won’t. I might forget.

I actually really like the love triangle quest we talked about here. It has a lot of freedom and is kind of playful about it. (I do wish the “none of the above” option was a little easier to find, though.) For context, here is how it goes:

Sven and Faendal both love Camilla. If you talk to him, Sven will ask you to deliver a letter to Camilla, supposedly from Faendal. The letter is written to make Faendal look incredibly bad. You can deliver the letter and lie to Camilla as asked (making Faendal look bad), or you can deliver the letter and tell the truth (making Sven look bad), or you can give the letter to Faendal, who will turn the trick around by writing a false letter of his own. Or you can start the quest with Faendal, which offers the reverse choices and outcomes. OR you can pickpocket the false letters from both of them and make them both look bad.

That’s, what? Six ways to resolve the quest? This tiny little easy-to-miss sidequest about a silly love triange between three not-so-bright people has lots of freedom. On top of this, there are after-quest outcomes where the other parties respond if you choose to murder one of the three.

Remember this freedom when we get to one of the many, many no-option, no-choice dialogs that plague the main quest.


From The Archives:

153 thoughts on “Skyrim EP2: Pot Head

  1. X2Eliah says:

    I recall reading about this love-triangle quest in nearly all preview and review articles when Skyrim first came out. It.. idk. It doesn’t feel indicative, to me, of how complex these ‘favour quests’ (which it basically is – it’s a very small, iirc unnamed, quest, similar to “take back my family’s sword from bandits”/”Find my moon amulet” ones) actually are, and it just got extra attention and was placed in the (typically) first place players get to, just to curry favour with game journos.

    That, and, well, it was quite amusing to realize that so many reviewers spent a good 20-30% of their review describing a single 3-minute quest when trying to sell their opinions on the game (compared to which, this quest is.. hm. 0.001%?).

    1. Raygereio says:

      Most “professional” gamereviewers don’t actually play a game all the way through before farting their review out. Bethesda plays into that by putting a lot little touches and spectacle in the first section of their games. I feel Skyrim is less obnoxious about this then FO3 was though.

      1. Tizzy says:

        To be fair, how long until you can consider that you’ve “played through” Skyrim? 50 hours? 100 hours? I don’t envy the reviewers their task.

        That being said, I found this quest underwhelming, for a couple of reasons.

        1) Who cares who gets the girl? These people are never important to me. I might feel like I have a stake in their fate if they were somewhat personable or interesting, but they’re not that either. So we can resolve the quest in any old arbitrary way without feeling that we missed out.

        2) The handling of quest resolutions is so clunky. In a good CRPG, the resolution would be mostly dialogue-driven, whereas Elder Scroll games rely on a series of tokens. Which token is in your inventory? You get this ending to the quest. There is never any branching to the dialogue, no possibility to lie or bluff or confront people outside of narrowly defined constraints. So you have to figure out the right mechanism to tease out alternative resolutions. As in: of course, both of those suitors would have the same stupid idea of writing phony letters impersonating their rival; all you need to do is steal both…

        I know that any game mechanic is some sort of abstracted convention, but this is as dumb and frustrating as they come!

        1. Thomas says:

          There are more and more games nowadays that reviewers just can’t adequately cover. It’s why youtube and updates are so important. How do you review the end game of an MMO? Or the multiplayer of Starcraft 2 where shifts in the meta dramatically change how each game plays?

          I do generally agree with the cynical reason here, but even without that, it makes sense to frontload a game like Skyrim with the good stuff. Skyrim is ages long, you need to entice people in to get them invested in the world, if you put your good stuff at the end, no-one will see it.

          And to add another cynical reason, it helps word of mouth too. The ending of a film is the most important part, because it’s what people remember, but people talk about games to each other whilst they’re still playing them. If you give the start the most attention that’s what they’ll tell people about

  2. noahpocalypse says:

    Wait, can you talk to both of them independently and get both letters by pretending you haven’t talked to the other person?

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      You can talk to the other one after talking with one. However, you CANNOT pretend that you’ve never spoken with the other one. The option doesn’t show up.

      1. Humanoid says:

        That you couldn’t betray both of them after following that sequence of events was rather galling. I wasn’t going to just arbitrarily turn one of them in, so I ended up just not following through.

        So I’m to understand that if you pickpocket both, you can turn both of them in? Because I can’t see any other satisfactory conclusion.

        Amusingly perhaps, you can resolve this quest then marry the woman yourself later. I guess it’d make for a typical rom-com setup.

        1. Bropocalypse says:

          I usually just do whatever the elf wants, because he’s an archery trainer AND a companion, meaning you can have him train you and then take the gold back from him.

  3. broken says:

    For shame Josh, why didn’t you pickpocket everything off of tutorialcompanion?

    Also, hello Stephen Russell aka Garrett aka Karas aka Edward Bedford Diego aka Xerxes aka The Many male1 aka Fallan Orbiplanax.

    I’ve missed you.

    1. broken says:

      DAMNED I meant William Bedford Diego. Stupid brain.

  4. hborrgg says:

    “There are no classes in this game, it’s very Marxist in that respect.”

    Ha, I get it now.

    1. Josh says:

      It really sucks going through all of the footage again when you’re editing it, because you hit spots like this where you come up with some awesome retort and then spend the next twenty minutes slapping yourself for not coming up with it when it was happening.

      For instance, in retrospect I wish I’d immediately replied, “No class at all. Dick jokes everywhere.”

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Cant you just record your retort later,and just insert it over the actual audio?

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Josh is too capitalist for that.

        2. syal says:

          Preferably with hilariously different sound quality.

          1. Peter H. Coffin says:

            this. It will be hi-lar-i-us.

        3. Humanoid says:

          The other hosts might start getting a bit bolshie over it.

    2. Warrax says:

      The problem with the class system in previous elder scrolls games was that the means of leveling weren’t owned by the people that actually have to level. The proli-char-iate, if you will.

      1. Lord Nyax says:

        This made me laugh inside.

  5. Disc says:

    The sad part is that it’s likely the most freedom in any quest in this whole game.

    1. Disc says:

      *of all the quests

      Brain not work today.

    2. hborrgg says:

      Eh, there are quite a few more good quests dotted around the game that offer you a fair amount of freedom. It’s just that everything else gets you so hung up on the “follow the arrow/do it right or the game breaks” mindset that you stop noticing whenever you actually are given any freedom.

      For instance I got really frustrated and angry during the Markarth prison questline because I didn’t want to help the forsworn murder the entire town (so much so that I wound up reloading an ancient save just so that I could avoid that city entirely). Yet it never even occurred to me that you could just kill the Forsworn leader and take the key from his corpse.

      1. Amnestic says:

        That quest had its own problems though, of course. Forcing you to get arrested in order to progress was just…urgh. You couldn’t even break in directly even with maxed lockpicking. The door simply doesn’t respond, as I recall. I suppose I should be happy they didn’t capture you in a cutscene, but when you’re forced into being arrested either way, is there that much difference?

        1. Alex says:

          Yeah, that was annoying. You’re not forced to be arrested, I removed my bounty by the simple process of butchering the three guards trying to frame me for murder, but that does stop you completing that questline until you turn yourself in anyway.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            This is going to sound really stupid, but I killed at a MINIMUM 50 or so guards doing that questline before I realized I was supposed to surrender and get arrested.

            Those guards are total wussies.

      2. Disc says:

        At the end of the day it’s still a questline with only two possible outcomes as I recall. Either you side with the Silver-Blood guy or with the Forsworn and get some exclusive reward. Some questlines may offer some freedom within their own boundaries, but the bottom line remains that there’s very rarely more than two possible conlcusions to a questline and often there’s just the one.

        Nothing wrong with it per se, but it’s a pretty limited experience compared to something like New Vegas.

      3. MadTinkerer says:

        In my first playthrough, I accidentally joined the Forsworn.

        Throughout the whole game I was taking a neutral attitude towards most “political” conflicts other than the main quest, never killing any important NPCs that were helping me save the world in spite of how much others lusted for vengeance (I guess the otherwise mostly sympathetic [spoiler censored] faction is going to be stuck with a small membership forever because they won’t let me help them without murdering someone they have no legal right to ask me to murder (who used to be a bad guy, yes, but he has repented of past misdeeds and is HELPING ME SAVE THE WORLD RIGHT NOW AND I THINK THAT’S MORE IMPORTANT)), and especially staying as neutral as possible in the civil war.

        So naturally, when I was unfairly tossed in prison after losing to the temporarily-plot-invincible-guards (who, PLOTHOLE, had only recently been installed in the city thanks to my direct meddling, but no one in Markarth ever cares if you’re Dovakin or not…), I decided I wanted to hear the tales of woe from the other prisoners. You know: just hearing them out and listening to their, surprisingly, mostly legitimate grievances. Before I knew it, and without being given the actual option to refuse or protest or try to convince my new pals that quietly escaping would be better than a random murderous rampage, the whole prison was ready to break out and the leader was thanking me by giving me my official Forsworn armor. And then we made it through the dungeon and… the carnage… the horrible carnage…

        It was one of the few times I went back on a previous save for non-technical reasons. Second time around, I had my Atronachs guard the prison passageway (You can’t confiscate learned spells from the Arch-mage of the college of Whiterun, you jackasses!) while I ganked the boss with a single incinerate spell and grabbed his key for the escape route.

        I then murdered the rich jerk who framed me, twice, in different ways, and emptied the bank, before settling on not-murdering him and not-robbing the bank because of how it affects minor sidequests. Plus, leaving him alive lets me murder him later whenever I want. (He tries to justify his actions by saying he was stuck in a bad situation with the Forsworn boss, but he’s still responsible for at least one direct murder of an innocent man on top of interfering with the Archmage Dovakin’s SAVING THE WORLD mission, so unlike most characters you’re given the option of not-killing, I have no problem murdering him on multiple occasions.)

        1. Michael says:

          I actually like the Blades situation. It’s legitimately part of their charter. They don’t think Paarthurnax has earned redemption, and that’s actually a fair position to take. I may not agree with the assessment, but I’ve met the guy, and made my assessment, and, rather obviously, they haven’t.

          It is egregiously out of character for who the faction was in the previous games, but, given that one of the surviving members was way the hell out there and living in the sewers before you found them… It kinda makes sense that they’d be a little more genocidal now.

          I get the feeling this was supposed to be a general theme with the game, though. You also have the Civil War, as well as Vampires and Dawnguard, so it feels like you were supposed to be picking between factions along the way. That groups like the Vigilants of Stendar or Silver Hand weren’t really fleshed out undercuts that, but the feeling is still there.

        2. Disc says:

          There’s fortunately a mod that lets you scare the Blades shitless and skip the quest.

        3. swenson says:

          I joined the Forsworn because my non-stealthy archer thief skills made it impossible for me to win the fight against the Forsworn guy–and for STUPID reasons you can’t just pickpocket the key off him as my character otherwise would do–but then I immediately killed them all once I got my gear back. Definitely helped soothe the conscience there.

  6. Amnestic says:

    I completely missed the Standing Stones on my first playthrough. I went left out of the cave and then curved all the way round the lake back to Riverwood.

    The first Standing Stone I actually found was the one east of Whiterun, which was…pretty useless as I recall? I think it gave a daily power which was pathetically bad. I didn’t know about the three “class” standing stones ’til one of my friends told me about them.

    1. Josh says:

      The standing stones are a super mixed bag. Some of them are fantastic (The Lord, The Atronach) or very useful (all of the experience stones [except maybe The Lover], The Steed) and then most of the rest are unbelievably shitty.

      Oh, really, Serpent Stone? Once a day I can paralyze someone for 5 seconds and do 25 damage? That sounds like something I’ll use exactly never.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        The Steed is the stone I end up using most of the time. As a Thief, the bonus to carrying capacity is too great to pass up.

        1. hborrgg says:

          As a chivalrous white knight who never stole anything, the bonus to carrying capacity was too great to pass up.

      2. Amnestic says:

        I’d blame trying to balance (…under the assumption they did try) a daily power versus passive bonuses. I feel like the Standing Stones might’ve been closer in relative power level if they’d all been passive, all been active or all had both passive+active effects.

        Doubtless there would still be some that are better than others, but it’d stop some from being utterly useless at least.

        1. Tizzy says:

          I don’t think the stones have to be balanced. After all, it’s a choice you make. It allows these little touches of personalization.

          But when some of the most powerful ones come up straight after the tutorial, in one of the safest places in the world, you pretty much guarantee that there will be very little interest in the others.

          1. kdansky says:

            Yeah, putting one with a really amazing ability somewhere hidden or well-guarded would have been a nice touch. I always found it weird how Bethesda takes great care in not giving out items or powers that are blatantly OP, but then adds so many ways to break the game in every single way possible that it really wouldn’t be a problem if the player had a power that gave them Invisibility for five minutes. But no, it’s just ten seconds, because longer would be useful.

      3. Alex says:

        The Steed is definitely the most useful one, in my opinion. And not just for thieves. If you’re wearing Orcish armour, it negates the weight of every suit of Orcish armour in your inventory. This means that you can carry a ton of crafted armour to sell it off piecemeal instead of having to drop it somewhere.

        It’s not until you visit the Soul Cairn and learn the spell that summons the undead horse, that consequentially lets you fast travel no matter how much stuff you’re carrying that it becomes less useful.

      4. MistahFixIt says:

        The Lord stone is pretty much my favorite when I wanna go Khaji’it Fistfighter, particularly against those bloody black-robed wizard initiates who seem to be BLOODY EVERYWHERE.

        I kind of wish I could add an enchantment to my gauntlets that did DoT as well as boosted my Unarmed. I would’ve named them Cat Scratch Fever.

        But when I’m not playing that set-up, it’s pretty much one of the Big Three (The Thief, The Warrior, The Mage) or The Steed. No particular reason; I mean, it’s not as if I steal every scrap of food and bit of metal that isn’t nailed down. >_>;

      5. MistahFixIt says:

        Also, I kind of miss The Atronach Stone’s power being the unique class feature of the Sorcerer, rather than him being “A mage, except with Heavy Armor.”

        Though you start out with 50% odds to spell absorb in Oblivion and Skyrim; in Arena, your odds were significantly less at Level One. I guess the ‘being able to wear armor and use all weapons’ was to soften the sting of your signature ability being really weak in early levels.

        1. Michael says:

          Morrowind used the same “50% absorb chance” for the Atronoch sign. I don’t think I ever realized classes had unique abilities in Arena. Then again, I could never get out of the starter dungeon in that one.

          1. MistahFixIt says:

            I apparently messed that up. In Arena, you START at 50% absorb chance (assuming you weren’t a complete derp and dropped your INT or WILL below 48) and could max out at 100% absorb chance if you got 100 INT and 100 WILL.

            The problem became when your Mana pool is full, you can’t absorb spells.

      6. Lachlan the Mad says:

        In Dawnguard, one of three possible quest rewards from the second-biggest quest in that DLC (the Aetherium Forge quest) is a circlet which allows you to have two standing stone powers at once; I went with Steed + Lover. Yes, it’s boring, but damn if it hasn’t made the game a lot easier (especially since I’m a werewolf and the stones are my only route to EXP bonuses, and I use a broad variety of skills so the Fighter/Thief/Mage stones wouldn’t be as useful).

        1. Michael says:

          Doesn’t the second sign break the instant you unequip the crown… like when you’re turning into a nine foot tall snarling deathbeast?

          1. Lachlan the Mad says:

            Well yeah, but I can just re-equip it when the wolfiness wears off. It stores the standing stone ability even while unequipped.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      I stumbled upon the stones on accident on my first playthrough. I ditched the guy and went into a cave. When I came back out, I followed the road to find the stones and later the town of Whiterun, where I reunited with the guy.

    3. Blake says:

      Yeah I didn’t see them either.
      I played for about 10 hours mostly in and around that town, guess I just never took that particular path.

  7. Mailbox says:

    Watching this Spolier Warning season is also making me want to start a new game and play through it again.
    I think Josh should try using Illusion magic. There is a lot of fun and silliness to be had. Has anyone of the Spoiler Warning group used Illusion magic?

    1. Josh says:

      I’m almost certainly going to level if only to buff up my level and give me more perk points (because lol repeat cast muffle). Also at 75 illusion you get free infinite invisibility, so I imagine we’ll see quite a bit of the illusion tree in this play through.

      On the other hand, I find most of the offensive illusion powers tend to really suck. The spells you really want to use don’t work on most enemies at the levels you finally get them, and the enemies they do work on are weak enough that it’s just faster and easier to punch/stab/shoot/fireball them to death.

      1. noahpocalypse says:

        Infinite invisibility? What is this you speak of? I never raised illusion over 50.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Expert level (75) Illusion magic unlocks the Invisibility spell in the Illusionist shop at the college.

          When paired with the Silent Casting perk and Expert Illusionist perk (each LV 75 in Illusion), that gives you the ability to clock yourself in invisibility forever.

          Very useful to a Thief like me. It’s also (unforgivably so) the only way to get through dungeons without killing things.

        2. Raygereio says:

          One of the expert level illusion spells is <a href=""invisibility.

          Though in vanilla Skyrim, sneaking become very forgiving once you start investing in the sneak perk tree. The only reason you’d need an invisibility effect is if you’re Josh and you’re going to be crouch-bunny-hopping in front of the person you’re trying to avoid being detected by.

          1. Michael says:

            Once you’re in the +70% (+40% from the perks, and the other 30 from enchantments) range for sneak, you can even get away with crap like that.

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        The problem with Illusion magic is to use effects like Rage and Pacify, you NEED the dualcasting perk.

        In most disciplines, dualcasting doubles the effect or duration of the spell. However, the Illusion tree works differently in most cases. Dualcasting an “offensive” spell in Illusion doubles the maximum level of enemies which are effected.

        In order to use them spells at the endgame, it is necessary to get all the “max level increase” perks and the dualcasting perk, else enemies are too high a level to be effected.

        1. Corpital says:

          Ooooohhhh. Thank you for these relevant informations! That explains why a lot of situations went very, very wrong for my first aspiring mage.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I don’t blame you or “guy” for not knowing this. The game never makes it a point to tell you.

            I only learned through a wiki, and on my first Illusionist character I felt gimped too because I didn’t know this information then.

        2. guy says:

          So that’s how you use those. I’d been wondering why everything was so weak relative to the level I got it at.

      3. thebluemenace says:

        I will personally enjoy hearing the muffle spell being cast over and over again. I remember hearing from a friend about the exploit, saying back that it was probably just a bit faster level up compared to other illusion spells. And then I tried it. Anyways, Invisability is the only real good reward from it because to get the master spells you have to use a random no cost master level illusion spell that you will never get rid of to go on a prop hunt for books that you can only see during the duration of the spell throughout the entirety of the College of Winterhold. It is at that moment that the wiki was pulled up. I guess the master level spells are nice for pacifying random guards or people that you’ve hit, and then getting the hell outta there. They also look kinda cool.

        1. thebluemenace says:


        2. newdarkcloud says:

          Honestly, the Master Illusion spells are a waste of time. Once you hit expert, even if you use the “offensive” Illusion spells, you have all the spells you’ll ever want.

          Actually, the Master spells in almost every school of magic are pretty worthless in Skyrim. Which is terrible b/c each school has a quest associated with it for unlocking the master spells.

          1. Tizzy says:

            The quest is its own reward. Why would you want a useful spell out of it?


    2. Hal says:

      Over at PC Gamer, someone did an LP for playing an Illusionist; they used nothing but Illusion magic. It’s . . . interesting. I gave the pacifist-play style a try (I at least allowed myself restoration magic and crafting), but it was tiresome. Followers are dumb.

  8. Weimer says:

    Feck those animations.
    If you have low health and/or are playing on hardest diffuculty/are running specific mods, some enemies (especially those with 2h weapons) will instakill you by being within 2m radius of you, even if you can easily dodge their attack otherwise.

    I suppose it makes more sense in-universe. Also, the TES games have never really been about the skills or reflexes of the players themselves.

    Now I wonder how this game would be with TF2 gameplay.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      This is why I hated dragons. They ALWAYS instant kill you once your below half-health and in front of them.

      So you effective have half your regular health when fighting them.

      1. guy says:

        There are some guys who do that at like 80% of max health. It is positively infuriating.

      2. Ah, now I remember why I’d done so well as a mage: I think a lot of my spells stun-locked the dragons, which kept them from doing a full-bore breath weapon in my face.

        Do any melee abilities do that? I honestly didn’t ever use any, so I dunno.

        1. Josh says:

          Can you stun lock dragons? Impact doesn’t work on them.

          However if you’re throwing lots of lightning bolts around, you’ll drain all of their magicka. For some reason, unlike your shouts, theirs count as spells, and they won’t use breath weapons if they don’t have the magicka for them.

          In light of that, it does seem like sort of a missed opportunity that you couldn’t ever become a “dragon mage” using breath spells and such. The direct combat shouts are so ineffective at late game that it’s just silly.

          1. Raygereio says:

            Can you stun lock dragons? Impact doesn't work on them.

            I’ve never really used impact (mostly because it’s one of those perks that kicks the game’s difficulty in the groin and laughs as the difficulty curles up into a fetal position), but from what I know about it the Impact perk should work on Dragons.
            Apparently the spell does need to do more damage before it will stagger larger creatures like dragons and mammoths, then it needs to if you use it on smaller enemies. The Augment perks should boost the damage enough.

          2. Alex says:

            “Can you stun lock dragons? Impact doesn't work on them.”

            Impact does work on them. I’ve successfully stun-locked a dragon to death with dual-cast Lightning Bolt.

          3. Zanfib says:

            In my mage playthrough, Impact worked fine on dragons. That was very shortly after release though, so it may have been changed by a patch.

          4. Just Passing Through says:

            Impact totally does work on them, every time. If the spell can stunlock a humanoid, it can stunlock a dragon.

        2. Michael says:

          They can as a proc, but it’s not reliable. I think there might be a stun chance enchantment, but I can’t remember if that’s in vanilla.

  9. Warrax says:

    Just because I don’t know f anyone’s mentioned it yet, the mod that fixes the hilariously broken physics is called “Realistic Ragdolls and Force.” You’ve missed out on drinking game opportunities by not mentioning it, and we can’t have that :)

    And the best thing about that love-triangle quest in Riverwood is that it gives you a guilt-free victim to sacrifice to Boethia for the Ebon Mail, or to level the Ebony Blade from Mephala.

    I had no idea you could resolve that quest for neither of them. Do they both count as “trusting you” after? That would be cool.

    1. Michael says:

      It’s been awhile, but IIRC, if you pick their pockets and make off with both letters, they both know you ratted them out.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I love it how you cannot run when carrying too much stuff,but you still can jump.

  11. Something I just noticed in this ep is that your character doesnt seem to act very khajiit-ish. By which I mean the death animations all seem very closed-fisted and wrestling styled with the over-the-shoulder throws and such. But the REAL eye opener was I just noticed your characters cry when he got attacked by those wolves and it definitely did NOT sound like a khajiit at ALL to me.

    Also one point to Rutz for the Wierd Al reference!

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      It’s like they grafted the same animations onto every character model regardless of whether or not they make sense.

      I poke fun, but I honestly can’t blame them for that. After all, that’s a lot of work to do when they’ve already spent so much time building the world.

    2. IFS says:

      Yeah having done a playthrough as an unarmed khajiit I have to say those animations all seem like they were built for a Nord. You’d expect a khajiit to have more finesse or something, since they are known for having (according to the wiki) at least three martial arts. On the plus side Khajiit do open their hand to strike so they are using their claws, at least outside of those kill animations.

    3. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

      I don’t know how Khajit should act, but the way Josh keeps playing with people, wicker baskets, shiny objects, and small animals -he’s certainly role-playing a cat very well.

    4. Humanoid says:

      I think even the female housecarls use the male animations do they not? Not sure if it’s universal since I was strictly a solo adventurer, but I have no idea whether it’s a bug or something done perhaps because the female NPC animations are missing certain required functions?

      1. Michael says:

        I don’t remember ever noticing that. It could be the unofficial patches fix it, which would make it a standard issue bug.

  12. Torsten says:

    Is khajiit the only race with the unarmed fighting perk? I’m thinking of doing a run as orc, and I’d imagine that is the kind of perk that would fit them well.

    It always bothers me how little games give change to play as unarmed brawler type fighter. It is something that any fighter would have at least some skill, but often games discourage you from playing that way.

    1. Disc says:

      Orcs have the Berserker Rage which lets them do doudle damage and take only half of incoming damage for a short while but that’s about it.

    2. Hal says:

      Part of the problem is that gloves aren’t treated as weapons, and they rarely have any sort of fist weapons like knuckles or claws. Because of that, you can’t add the magical weapon enchants to your attacks, which can really start putting you behind the curve as the game goes on.

      1. Cedric says:

        Actually there is a hidden pair of gloves in the city of thieves that has the only instance of the Unarmed Combat bonus enchantment in the game. You can break that down and then put in on any gauntlets you want.

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      I want to say that Argonians get a lesser version of the “Claws” class bonus, but I don’t know for sure.

      1. Eldiran says:

        Argonians do, but I think the effect doesn’t show up in the effects menu.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          Yup, they have half of the bonus Khajiit have, so they do 16 instead of the baseline 10.
          Incidentally, the effects menu lies about the amount extra Khajiit do, it’s 12, not 15.

  13. Cinebeast says:

    I feel ya, Shamus — watching Josh pummel fools with his bare hands is tempting. One of my favorite Skyrim playthroughs starred an unarmed Khajiit, and I never did finish it. Maybe if I . . .

    Argh, I’m in the middle of Darksiders II! I can’t just give it up and play more Skyrim!

    But punching people in the face looks really, really fun . . .

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      It’s funny because, like in Oblivion, the stronger you get with an Unarmed build in level, the less effective it is because the enemies skills will outclass you quickly.

      I do think they should’ve made unarmed a skill. I know that they did it to preserve their balance of 6 warrior, 6 mage, and 6 thief skills, but I don’t really care about that. (That’s also the reason pickpocket is a skill, even though I think that should be folded into Stealth.)

      1. acronix says:

        Speechcraft and Pickpocket are the two skill trees that get nuked and replaced by most mods, too. The first is redundant as you can’t do anything to level it up besides trainers, and the second has no reason at all to not be in the stealth tree, seeing how you need to be in stealth to use it.

        Bethesda’s just not very clever, I guess.

        1. Orillion says:

          The worst part is, Hand-to-Hand was even a thievery skill in Morrowind, to account for the fact that “rogueish” combat skills were mixed in with thievery (short blades and marksman, for example, also were thievery) and the Monk class was a thievery-specialized class in both Morrowind and Oblivion, so there’s definitely precedent for unarmed being a skill in the thievery specialization, and yet we got THOSE two trees instead.

      2. Michael says:

        Unarmed (Combat), Unarmored (Magic), Mercantile (Stealth). Done… >.<

        1. Amnestic says:

          Mercantile stuff is already baked into Speech. You’d have to split them up and Speech is terrible enough – both in use and in leveling – as it is.

          1. Michael says:

            This actually gets back into a hardcoded limitation, though. As far as I know, it’s impossible to actually add new skills, or new perk trees to the game. Bethesda might be able to, but modders can’t. So, those three would have had to be baked in during development.

            Of course, Unarmored disappeared with Morrowind (I think), so that’s ancient history now.

            Speachcraft really needed to be rethought so it advanced from talking to people (or shouting), and then advanced more from persuading people. Instead of just being the pain it is.

            1. Henson says:

              Do you mean a new tree entirely? Or changing the trees that are there?

              The Skyrim Redone mod makes major changes to all skill trees, including changing the layout of the constellations themselves. It also makes it so you can improve Speechcraft by shouting, so much so that my Speechcraft is the first skill I’ve leveled to 100.

              1. Michael says:

                I meant adding additional trees. There are a lot of mods that mess with the existing trees, including the Dawnguard ones.

                Of course, Dawnguard kind of implies that even Bethesda can’t add new perk trees into the existing system, hence the alternate monster progression trees.

      3. Nordicus says:

        This run is definitely going to be balanced rather weirdly.

        With weapon skills, you power them up by beating up enemies, while you level up Heavy Armor by getting beat up repeatedly.

        It’s like Josh gets increasingly frustrated over time and shouts “Stop shooting meeeh!” and then starts punching harder

        1. Nordicus says:

          And few lines below I read that leveling Heavy Armor will not increase your damage…

          Well crap

          1. Cedric says:

            Not by itself no, you have to pick the feat that lets your gauntlets do damage based on their armor rating.

            1. Felblood says:

              Yeah, but that gets you a weapon with comparable power to a sword of the same level, but it will always be treated like it is being wielded with a weapon skill of 0, so no fancy damage multipliers apply.

    2. Felblood says:

      My first character was actually a heavy armored fist fighter for much of the game, and while it is awesome to punch a dragon to death, the damage really does fall off rapidly after level 40 or so, and the lack of stunning impact and solid blocking makes combat a lot more risky.

      The problems are twofold:

      1. weapon skills give you a damage multiplier, but armor skill does not seem to multiply the damage of your Mailed Fist.

      2. Punches appear to be weightless, or use the weight value of your negligibly weighted gauntlet (at least I never manged to stun, reel, or knock back any targets). Compared to an Orc Shortsword, you might as well be trying to stuck your target with a feather.

      Even that late in the game, once I started using swords, the improvement in power was noticeable by the time my 1-Handed skill hit 10. –Though mark that Smithing and Enchanting were my primary skills, so I was using an awesome sword, very badly.

  14. Hal says:

    One of my all-time favorite mods for Oblivion was an “auto-harvest” mod. You just had to be within grabbing distance of alchemy plants and it would grab it for you. This made trips through the wilderness much less of an exercise in OCD hoarding, although you still had to deal with 500lbs of flower petals and mushrooms when you reached your destination.

    I missed that so badly when I played Skyrim (360).

  15. newdarkcloud says:

    I should note that, as a Heavy Armored, pugilist Khajit mage, I took that perk and it’s wording is slightly misleading.

    You do get the armor bonus from the gauntlets added to your attack. HOWEVER, only the base armor bonus of the item counts, not the bonus when perks and refinements are considered.

    For example, Daedric Gauntlets have a base armor rating of 18, so with them you’ll receive and extra 18 damage with Unarmed. Ironically enough, Dragonplate armor is worse in this respect, as it’s base is only 17.

    1. IFS says:

      Really? Huh, never felt that way to me when I my unarmed playthrough. Its been a while but refining did seem to boost my damage. Must not have been paying attention I suppose.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        If you have great enchanting skills and alchemy skills, you could probably take advantage of the alchemy exploit to get really strong +Unarmed enchantments added.

  16. far_wanderer says:

    FYI, Heavy armor levels in relation to the incoming damage, so the bandit with a dagger is actually one of the slowest ways to train.

  17. IFS says:

    I had a great playthrough as a mixed unarmed/stealth khajiit character where I ended up wearing light armor for sneaking around and then the moment I got spotted I just opened up the favorites menu and immediately changed into full daedric armor, if you spend a little bit of time with the smithing skill then you can really get that armor upgraded.

    Also I managed to mitigate the slowness of heavy armor leveling somewhat by joining the companions, as just by doing so you get the master heavy armor trainer of the game available to you. You still have to hoard money to buy training, but its not that expensive early on and money is everywhere in the game.

  18. Janus says:

    I really,really don’t get why many people like to run through TES-games picking up absolutely everything they come across… Well, of course, if you want to knock yourself out and all.
    But why would you want to? You get encumbered all the time, your inventory clutters, you don’t really need the money – I normally only take what I need + rare and unique stuff and the economy still breaks around level 5.

    Also I completely missed the love-triangle… Skyrim does that

    1. Janus says:

      Edit: Though I do get that Josh is doing for the silly fun of it here.

    2. Veylon says:

      It’s mistraining from other RPGs. Most of the time, you want to grab each and every random thing because it’s either stuff you want or stuff worth selling. TES games throw a monkey wrench in that mindset by making “random stuff” be actual random stuff like cups, boots, and food scraps instead of the weaponry and potions one is used to.

    3. Corpital says:

      I love alchemy. And weapon/armorsmithing. And enchanting. There is no reason not to pick every single flower, ore, gem and valuable-object-to-be-traded-in-for-more-ores in the entire land. Until you are the surpreme overlord of crafting, dressed in impenetrable metal and drugged beyond salvation.

    4. Alex says:

      Right. In Bethesda games, you have to restrain yourself to taking three types of things:

      1. Vendor trash. Choose a Septim per pound value (for example, 5 Septims per pound), and take anything worth more than that. As you go through the game, you become more and more picky.
      2. Useful stuff. Crafting materials, potions and superior weapons and armour.
      3. “Ooh! Shiny!” Unique items, and things you want to own for their own sake.

    5. Humanoid says:

      About half an hour into playing the game, I went ‘screw it’ and used the console commands to multiply my carry weight tenfold. Never looked back. Just needed to get it to a level where I’d never need to be appraising the value of stuff mid-dungeon, that kind of chore can wait until I get back to town.

      1. kdansky says:

        I completely agree. Giving yourself higher carry capacity through any mod/console means makes the game less realistic, and much more enjoyable. You can stop going into the inventory screen every few minutes to drop random crap you picked up by accident, and only do so every time you get to a shop, and just sell the twenty broad swords for 5 Septims each.

        One of the first mods I installed reduced potion weight by a factor 10.

  19. TheHokeyPokey says:

    Hate to disappoint you Shamus, but Fists of Steel only gives you the base armor rating (unmodified by perks, skill or enchantments) as bonus damage. Daedric gives you the most at 18 base armor. Personally I use a monk mod for unarmed fighting, that way I can wear kung fu clothes while german suplexing fools.

  20. Nytzschy says:

    Who lit those lanterns next to those skeletons? Was it the bear?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Those lanterns were

      *puts on glasses*

      barely lit.


  21. Nano Proksee says:

    Points to Rutskarn for the Avatar reference.

  22. el_b says:

    I said “Well, in that case – in that case, what do you have?”
    He says “All I got right now is this box of one dozen starving, crazed argonians”
    I said “OK, I’ll take that”

    So he hands me the box and I open up the lid and the argonians jump out
    And they immediately latch onto my face and start bitin’ me all over
    Oh man, they were just going nuts
    They were tearin’ me apart
    You know, I think it was just about that time that a little ditty started goin’ through my head”
    I believe it went a little something like this . . .

    Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin,
    Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!
    Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan,
    Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draal!

  23. Ratatoskz says:

    Rutskarn, thank you so much for the last minute Albuquerque reference. It made my Late-Afternoon-Almost-Evening.

    1. Kristoffer says:

      My Cabbages, the bear necesseties, everything good in this world got a shout-out this episode.

  24. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

    Just these two eps have almost persuaded me that I should give Skyrim a shot. Years ago I played Daggerfall, but never got very far with it.

    Alas, my completionist OCD kicks in and I think “good lord, 5 games I’d have to play…”

    Have Arena and Daggerfall at least gotten semi-easy to run on DosBox now?

    1. Humanoid says:

      Both games are depicted with a 100% compatibility rating bar on the DOSbox listing, so I imagine they ought to run flawlessly …that is, as flawlessly as they did in the original DOS versions at least.

    2. Michael says:

      Just jump into Skyrim. The 200 year time jump between Oblivion and Skyrim helps to invalidate prior experience with the setting.

  25. Kamica says:

    Funny that you mention putting dead people into the carts and doing stuff with them.

    I actually, in a roleplaying and “Just ’cause” madness wave, I killed someone (’cause why not? =P) in Riverwood, and then carted her ALL THE WAY to Falkreath and then put her on one of the graves. I felt like I had accomplished something that day =P.

  26. Rosseloh says:

    You can also marry Camilla yourself…


    …what makes you think I did that my first playthrough? Hmm?

  27. hborrgg says:

    So, to kick off what will no doubt be a recurring theme of “The Armors/Weapons in this game look terrible why do they do this?” This is what a viking shield grip is really supposed to look like.

    There are very specific reasons the shield is held like that and it really, really bugs me when artists consistantly screw it up even with shields that clearly made with an iron boss in the middle..

    1. Kamica says:

      There’s a simple reason (I believe) for this: It looks silly and unrealistic (Note the looks). When you ask any person in the streets how a shield is held, they’ll tell you on the side of your arm, not in your hand (Unless you’re talking about a zulu shield maybe). As such, the artists are also likely to either not know, or make it so to prevent people from going “That looks stupid” and “That’s unrealistic” out of ignorance =P. Just my guess.

  28. Ledel says:

    My first playthrough of Skyrim. After I finished the Golden Dragon Claw Quest, I the shop-keep puts the claw out as decoration, then just walks away from it like it was nothing.

    I felt like if, after going through all that trouble, and all that arguing/noise made over this thing, if he’s just going to ignore the claw, well, he doesn’t get to keep the claw. So that was the very first thing I stole and ended up stealing half the stuff in his store.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I… steal the Golden Claw after a give it to him.

      It’s a great piece for my collection.

      1. IFS says:

        To be fair its a solid gold object studded with gemstones and he just leaves it sitting on his counter, he has no one to blame for it getting stolen but himself (and maybe you).

  29. Naota says:

    Rutskarn mentions that he’s playtesting a game in active development and Skyrim’s bugs post-release still confound in multiple ways. I’d have to agree, particularly after the ballistic dragon corpse apocalypse, but still…

    ‘What development horrors has he seen, and how have they scarred him?’, you may wonder.

    Wonder no longer. I’ve caught a few first-hand.

  30. Wuh? You can make both look bad? I didn’t even know that.
    I’m guessing it was added early in production (hence more polish), it is also part of a bunch of introductory quests as well (at least I consider it to be that).

    This quest reminds me of the one in KoTOR at the Sith academy where you can not just doublecross someone but even double-doublecross (or is that triplecrossing both?)

    stuff like this is what I love about RPGs and in my eyes defines one of the core points that make up an RPG (more than one way to handle quests).

  31. Gruhunchously says:

    On that loading screen…it seems like massive hubris on Bethesda’s part to assume that anyone would want to associate with any children in one of their games. Why would they ever include such a feature?

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      It’s worth noting that the pop-up only appears if you purchased Hearthfire, which unlocks adoption.

  32. I was under the impression that bear claws were mostly a pastry with little slits cut in the flaky crust in a manner that reminds one of the marks left by a bear’s claws. My “you must try to be RIGHT” sense kicked in and there’s a Bear Claw line of ice cream from some place called Dean’s Dairy.

    Chris gets points for being obscure, I guess.

    1. Naota says:

      It’s a fairly common flavour here in Canada (or at least Ontario) as well. I’ve actually never heard of bear claws as a pastry, come to think of it.

    2. Michael says:

      That’s weird, I’m used to thinking of bear claws as a sort of U shaped pastry with several deep cuts along one edge, so it mimics an animal paw… sort of.

  33. patrick johnston says:

    So how soon until Rutskarn or mumbles starts saying “my fist’s they are made of steel” every time josh hits someone? After he gets the perk of course.

  34. Artur CalDazar says:

    The rebels have a “We’re all screwed now” attitude because they assume (correctly) that the empire is going to have you killed no matter what anybody says, something particularly true for the horse thief.
    One of the soldiers points out you’re not a stormcloak, you are not associated with them and you’re not somebody on the kill list, they don’t care.

    Also I like how you took everything from Alvor, even the stuff you will never use and sells for so little its not worth the effort of using the menus.

    Wait, you guys return the Golden Claw and then don’t instantly steal it? I find that far more amusing because I don’t think he ever mentions its gone.

    1. Raygereio says:

      One of the soldiers points out you're not a stormcloak, you are not associated with them and you're not somebody on the kill list, they don't care.
      Hadvar says you’re not “the list”. That’s all.
      The game never goes into detail about it, but how I interpreted it is that they don’t know if you’re a stormcloak or not. All that Legion captain knows is that you were captured alongside Ulfric (presumably you stumbled upon the Legion’s trap for Ulfric while you were crossing the border) and that they can strike a decisive against the stormcloaks by cutting of the rebellion’s head.
      From a practical point of view, that captain just doesn’t really have the luxury of taking the time and finding out who and what you are.

      1. Rutskarn says:

        “Execute Ulfric and the ones on the list, I guess. Then we’ll put that one in our MASSIVE DUNGEON and figure out what to do with ’em.”

        Yeah. They had time.

        1. D.A.M. says:

          Plus, they would have killed Ulfric first if they were in a hurry.

          Actually, they would have killed Ulfric first if they weren’t in a hurry.

          Bethesda wanted to take camera control from you during the big reveal. Logic, internal and external consistency, common fucking sense. All are to be sacrificed in the name of making sure you don’t miss the huge flying lizard whose voice shakes the very earth.

  35. Tychoxi says:

    Oh God, the cauldron scene had me laughing so hard!

  36. Lord_Bryon says:

    My favourite part of the claw fetch quest was immediately stealing it off the counter after I completed the quest. He never seemed to notice it was gone either …

  37. Will Coleman says:


    Reginald is naked now.

    He sold his iron armor.

  38. Khazidhea says:

    I’m very likely misremembering many details, but my first character went unarmed, and grouped with smithing and enchanting I never seemed to run into troubles even late in the game. Related to this I also levelled up enchanting and heavy armour.

    was my main character so I covered a lot of bases skill wise by the end, I would have had heavy armour and conjuring, and maybe alteration. When I wanted to mix it up a little later on I started in on one handed and block with conjured weapons, and even later archery, but to begin with for a good long while I was a heavy armour (conjuration) mage with unarmed fighting.

    1. Khazidhea says:

      Wish I could edit, conjuration at the end felt overpowered, with 2 high level resurrected mages by my side to help in combat. But even better than that, everytime I reached my inventory weight I’d just cast resurrection on a nearby corpse to depower one that I already had, move all my heavy stuff to my undead companion, then resurrect them again.

  39. Alex says:

    Oh, if anyone wants to know a good way to get a leg-up at the start of the game with Hearthfire, here’s my advice:

    Catch leaping salmon.

    Salmon roe (from the leaping salmon in the whitewater near Whiterun), nordic barnacles (in the Dragonsreach moat) and garlic (bought in the Whiterun market) produce a very expensive potion. This levels your Alchemy, your Speechcraft, and gives you a wonderful trade good for when you want to buy expensive things but neither you nor the merchant has enough money to go around.

  40. Neko says:

    That reminds me – is there any mod out there that fixes that infuriating conversation dialog bug? I’ve used SkyUI and that fixes up the inventory nicely, but (last time I checked) it doesn’t overhaul the conversations.

    The thing that drives me especially mad about that bug is I know exactly why it’s there – because testing was done for xboxes and controllers first, PCs and mice second. They update the highlighted item when the cursor enters a text item, but they should also be doing it just before the click gets processed, and whenever the mousewheel gets moved. I got into the habit of moving my mouse in a little circle before selecting dialogue options just to try and avoid that from happening.

      1. Neko says:

        May you walk on warm sands, sera.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.