11.20.2011

Skyrim Diaries: Purpose & Allegiance

"Skyrim Diaries" is an admittedly self-serving, updated-when-I-feel-like-it (read: when I can pull myself away) chronicling of my own unique experiences within Bethesda's delectably open "Skyrim", beginning from just after midnight, 11.11.11.


This game! At times I almost (almost!) feel as though its scale compromises it to an extent, as I am practically disabled from focusing on one thing at a time. What's that, Max von Sydow? Continue my training in the Way of the Voice by traveling to such-and-such dungeon and facing down so-and-so evil undead dude? That sounds great, I'll get right on-- wait, is that a bandit hideout over there? I'd better check it out to see-- hold up, did a fox just run that way? If I follow it maybe I can-- Ooh, check it out, a cave! You get the idea. My purpose is purposelessness. My quest journal is already unweildy to the point that I'm considering limiting myself to a single town's worth of quests at a time and making my way across Skyrim that way.

Thank goodness this game is not online, though. After so many years of being desperately in love with Final Fantasy XI, a game I do still miss dearly, it is honestly refreshing to know that when I turn off my console, I'm not missing anything. I have no obligation to be inside the gorgeous virtual world.

But seriously, this game! Since my last update (and I'm only really making another one now to pass the time until I'm free to play again in a couple hours) I've freed the souls of imprisoned lovers, learned firsthand the beastly freedom of lycanthropy while quelling the Silver Hand's anti-werewolf efforts, engaged in an epic, over-30-minutes-long battle with a floating, reanimated ice mage atop a beautifully snow-capped mountain and much, much more. Oh, my housecarl, Lydia? She did not fill Uthgerd's shoes, to say the least. Not only was she but half the loyal defender that badass elf bitch was, during one of our fortress raids she... just kinda ran away. With at least 2k gold worth of items, no less. I have a new housecarl now, as awarded by the Jarl of Solitude (in which I now own a manor - excessive, I know... Whiterun was sufficient and affordable... but it's not like any of the NPC denizens were in the market), and while she has a better attitude than Lydia, I won't be using her for much more than accompaniment up the 7,000 steps to High Hrothgar (a trip initially faiiled with the assistance of Lydia, who fell down the mountainside while intwined with an ice wraith, leaving me as little more than hapless ice wolf fodder). I've become quite capable on my own, and I'd like to take the skill-ups for myself, thank you.

I am learning the various allegiances open to me and exploring them with trepidation, but it seems that apart from the most oppressed, everyone has a skewed vision of what Skyrim should be. I'm siding more with the Imperials at this point, if only because they seem honorable and friendly while the Stormcloaks are racist thugs. While I was eager to arrive there and join the rebellion, my first experience in Windhelm wound up being the witnessing of a couple self-righteous Stormcloaks harrassing a grey elf (whose race have been sanctioned to "the grey quarter", a slum if I've ever seen one). With bare fists I beat the lead aggressor in to submission and happily paid my bounty for having done so. I will soon attempt to befriend the grey elves in hopes of working against their plight, which eerily mirrors that of blacks in America during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. They might ask, "What business does a Breton have in these matters?" Well, if caring isn't enough, I can try to relate. I am a werewolf now, after all... and since becoming one have met with certain adversity, albeit in passing. It's a stretch, I know. Hey, there's plenty of room in my ridiculously huge Solitude manor... come live there and make business with the seemingly more fair Imperials!

As I type my game is saved on the path to Pinemoon Cave (or something like that), where I've encountered not one but two dragons. One has detected me, and I can only hope the other follows suit rather than flying away as at least five have done by now. Indeed, slaying the dragons that cap off the majesty of Skyrim is one of the game's great pleasures and great challenges, and I'd love to see how I fare against two at once. Then, maybe they'll begin attacking one another. Seeing what happens in randomly assorted situations such as this is part of the charm of this open world. Similarly charming is the way one might plant an arrow smack in the head of a distant enemy only for them to say, "Is someone there? I must be imagining things...". While it would be passable and ultimately funny in a simple way regardless, at least the developers appear aware of this AI oddity as in what I'll suffice to call a decidedly strange, "Alice in Wonderland"-esque quest that suddenly abducts you in a certain palace's certain wing, a Mad Hatter type man suggests that some remedy could cure anything, from the most common disease to "an arrow in the face".

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