I’m finally playing Skyrim, almost a year after I bought it. It is perhaps the best open world role-playing computer game I’ve played. That said, because of the size of the world and it being so open, I think it does suffer a bit on the role-playing side. They seem to have hired a ridiculously small number of voice actors given the number of people in the game. But overall it’s a very enjoyable game. Some of my favorite parts are the small absurdities that you encounter. I will give two examples. I suppose they will be semi-spoilers if you haven’t played the game, although not in any big way. They both involve optional side quests which don’t have any importance to the main story. Anyway!
So I’m walking around the city of Markarth when I learn that there is trouble afoot in the Hall Of The Dead (which is basically a combined funeral home and mausoleum). Apparently there have been strange noises and some of the corpses are being eaten. I briefly consider the irony that they have chosen to bring this problem to me, a vampire. On the other hand, nobody seems to realize I’m a vampire, although they sure to love to comment on my extremely pale complexion and the disturbing hunger in my eyes.
ANYWAY, I agree to investigate their little problem. I’m not in the Hall Of The Dead five minutes when a woman named Eola appears from nowhere and begins talking to me. Without me saying anything, she seems to be under the misapprehension that I’m a fellow corpse-eating enthusiast. She agrees to stop eating the bodies here, but wants my help clearing out some zombies from a nearby cave.
I meet Eola at the cave and we merrily slaughter all of the zombies lurking within. Having done this, she suggests that we have a feast to celebrate. My guess about what sort of meal she has in mind is confirmed when she asks me to lure a priest from Markarth (the same guy who told me about the corpse-eating problem) to the cave, so we can murder and eat him.
I’m already a vampire. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? I head back to town and persuade the guy to follow me, under the pretext that I need him to protect me from evil things in the cave, and with the promise of possible treasure. Needless to say he is quite surprised when we get there and he finds a bunch of people sitting around a dinner table. Eola performs some sort of hypnosis on him and he docilely stretches out on an altar. I am then instructed to kill him.
A quick word about vampires in Skyrim. Unlike with people, the longer you go without feeding, the stronger you get. But there’s a catch. If you go too long, you become blood-starved. In this state, people CAN see that you are a vampire, and this makes them scared and/or angry. So generally you need to feed regularly, or else sneak around a lot. Or murder everyone who sees you. Anyway, it’s easiest to feed on someone when they are sleeping. If they are awake, then you aren’t given the option to feed on them unless you first use “vampiric seduction”, which is a lot less sexy than it sounds, and which doesn’t work on more powerful people.
Okay, so back to the feast in the cave. I noticed that I’m given the option to feed on the priest. I’m guessing the game considers him to be either asleep, because he is lying down, or seduced, because of the hypnosis. Whatever, I’m not one to pass up a free meal. Feeding won’t kill him, so this shouldn’t interfere with Eola’s dinner. So I feed. This brings me to the first moment of absurdity I want to share — the game promptly informs me that there is now a bounty on my head.
(When you commit crimes in Skyrim, provided they are witnessed, you generally gain a bounty in whatever major city is nearest. This means that guards will harass you and attempt to arrest you.)
Now, I was aware that if someone saw you feeding, then it was considered a crime. But:
1) The only witnesses to this crime, other than the priest himself, are members of the cannibal clan who asked me to lure this guy here
2) I’m about to murder this guy anyway
Rather than anger my new friends, I reloaded an earlier saved game and just murdered the guy outright. This made them happy, and Eola insisted that I take the first bite of the feast. I felt it would be rude to refuse. A good time was had by all, and Eola agreed to be my companion.
Days later, Eola and I find ourselves on the other side of the continent, where we encounter a cult in the mountains. The cult leader tells me that in order to prove myself, I need to show that I am a good liar. How am I to do this? Simple. Convince someone to follow me out to this cult, lead them to a nearby pillar, get them to touch it, and then murder them. Seems simple enough. I walk over to the pillar in question, just to get an idea of the lay of the land. Eola, my faithful companion, having heard this entire conversation, and having already seen me murder one stranger at the behest of another, calmly follows me. We both stand there regarding the pillar in quiet contemplation.
I decide that I like Eola too much to murder her, so I tell her to head home. I go to a bar in a big city and hire a sellsword into my service. He obediently follows me back to the pillar, and touches it without question when ordered to do so. This causes him to be paralyzed in place by some power, and I murder him with a dagger that the cult leader gave me for this purpose.
A few days later I’m walking around some city when a courier runs up to me. He informs me that I have inherited some money from a friend who died. He gives me money and a letter. Reading the letter, I learn that my faithful sellsword left me 300 gold in his will. Funny because:
1) In the day between the time we met and the time I murdered him, all of which was spent traveling from the city to the cult, he was able make out a will, and
2) Chose to leave me 300 gold, and anyway
3) I’m not sure how anyone found out he was dead, since I killed him in a pretty remote mountain location (and later killed everyone else in the cult, at the behest of the demon they worshiped).
Oh, Skyrim, you make murder and betrayal so amusing.