I played Skyrim once. Then I took an arrow to the knee.
Yeah, that wasn’t even funny. I’m sorry. But my point is I never took an arrow to the knee, and thus I never actually stopped playing Skyrim. And given the fact that Bethesda adamantly refuses to make another Elder Scrolls game until people finally stop playing Skyrim, nobody else has either. And would want to stop playing? Even if you’ve played it once through vanilla, it’s so popular that you can romp around Tamriel with mods and experience Skyrim all over again. There’s even a Special Edition out now if you want to play Skyrim at it’s very best.
But no matter how many times I play, there are a few items I always make sure to have in my backpack. You know the ones - weapons you just can’t bare to part with, armors that have nice buffs for crafting, or maybe even just look too cool to pass up for something that has better stats. We all do it. There’s no shame in it.
Ok, there’s a little shame.
Here are 15 awful items that we should throw away, but we never do.
15 Shrouded Armor
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t have fantasies of being a shrouded assassin, slinking deftly from shadow to shadow, eventually pouncing on an unsuspecting target and committing the perfect kill?
Just me? Well, whatever, fine. My point is, there’s no reason to go to all this trouble with perfect execution if you don’t look good while doing it. The Dark Brotherhood know all about this, and that’s why they provide the Shrouded Armor, so their hired killers look stylish while they slay.
Let’s also be honest though: the Shrouded Armor is bad. It barely provides more defense than Leather Armor, and while the enchantments are mostly useful, they become outclassed pretty quickly later on in the game.
There are plenty of better Daedric artifacts in Skyrim, to be sure, but only one provides hours of hilarity, and that’s the Wabbajack. Wabba-ing anything has a chance to turn it into pretty much anything else, which means you could end up turning a dragon into a sweet roll.
The old-school among us may also remember how the Wabbajack used to be the only way to make sure your companions leveled up with you. Before patch 1.6 the only way to keep your companion from falling behind was to Wabbajack them into something and wait for the spell to wear off. When it did, they’d reappear at the player’s level.
The Dwarven bow was never all that good. It was light, which was a plus, but being light meant that it had a poor range for a bow, which was a minus. The damage was also pretty mediocre. Zephyr, being based on the Dwarven bow, shared all these faults.
But it had one great big advantage over every other bow: an innate enchantment that granted 30% faster attack speed.
30% attack speed is huge. Suddenly it didn’t matter that your damage was poor since you were shooting a third more arrows than ever before. This was especially useful for leveling your archery skill, as more arrows hitting means more experience gained.
12 Amulet Of Mara
As far as enchantments go, the Amulet of Mara is pretty crappy. 10% reduced mana use for healing. Woo. Be still my beating heart.
But if you want to get it on with Moth gro-Bagol you can’t just ask him - you gotta wear the Amulet. Once you do, then all you gotta do is whatever your target of affection wants. In Moth’s case, he wants a Daedra heart, which isn’t exactly easy to come by. But true love conquers all! Since the amulet is the only way to prove yourself worthy of a life-long mate, all of us have kept and amulet around for safe keeping. If only it were so easy in real life.
Fun fact: taking an arrow to the knee was actually a slang saying for getting hitched.
11 Leather Armor
Everybody’s gotta start somewhere, and where they start is usually Leather Armor. It’s the best you can craft in the early game, and for many players remains the best armor until they can afford better or find something on their travels.
And even if you can’t find something better, Leather Armor is pretty cool on its own. It has a nice aesthetic, shows off some skin, and is free to enchant to whatever your character desires. The only problem is Skyrim seems to be a pretty cold place, and I don’t understand how anyone can survive out in a freezing blizzard with bare arms and legs.
Ah well. The price you pay for fashion I guess.
10 Iron Arrows
Tell me if this thought sounds familiar: “I can’t shoot these bandits with my Elven arrows since I gotta save those for real tough guys, like dragons,” am I right?
And then you spend the whole game picking up every iron arrow you see while accumulating a quiver of 400 Daedric arrows that you can just never convince yourself are worth using on whatever you happen to be shooting at.
It’s an awful affliction, iron arrows. You gotta use them before you can use something better, but you can never seem to use them all. It's a vicious cycle that never ends — good luck breaking the habit.
9 Notched Pickaxe
One of the items you always gotta keep with you is a pickaxe. For the same reason you always need a Woodcutter’s Axe when you wanna cut wood, you gotta have a pickaxe for when you want to… pick axes. I mean mine. Yeah, mine.
Even if you don’t do much smithing, mining is a great way to accumulate wealth (since there be gems in them thar hills!) so I always keep a pickaxe handy. The Notched Pickaxe is like a regular one, but has an innate +10 to smithing so you can make better stuff, while it also has a small shock enchantment in case you somehow drop all your real weapons and you’re forced to use your pickaxe to defend yourself.
Don’t laugh - it’s happened to me more than once.
8 Sweet Roll
I mean, c’mon! They look so delicious! I always steal one wherever I go. I have no idea why I don’t end the game as the fattest Dragonborn that Skyrim has ever seen. Doesn't meant I'll ever stop.
But besides their delectable looks and succulent cream filling, I always have one to throw at the guards. Y’see, there’s a random line the guards will sometimes say that goes, “Let me guess - someone stole your sweet roll?” And then if I have one on me I throw it at them and scream, “Yes! IT WAS YOU!!!”
Am I the only one that does this? I can’t be.
7 Thieves Guild Armor
I have one word for you: increase carry capacity. Actually, that was three words. Regardless, those three words are the most important in the game.
I’m sure like many of you as soon as I step foot in Skyrim I become a kleptomaniac on meth. I grab everything that isn’t bolted down, and the worst thing that happens to me the entire game is seeing the message “you are carrying too much to be able to run.” It happens all the time. To make it happen less, I take anything that increases my carry weight.
Thieves Guild Armor may not have the best stats or the best enchantments, but it has the only enchantment I ever need.
6 Ancient Helmet Of The Unburned
There’s a sort of classic Skyrim look that’s on all the promotional material - it’s a dude in all iron armor on a horse with a sword drawn about to go slay a dragon. It’s not my look, but it’s still cool.
But there’s always a case where I throw my aesthetic to the wind and don some armor that is just the right tool for the job. When you’re taking on dragons, who breathe fire, it’s important to take some flame retardant clothing.
The Ancient Helmet of the Unburned gives you a huge 40% fire resistance. Since, generally, the only damage a dragon deals is fire (so long as you're outside 'chomping-range' or not fighting a frost dragon), who cares that it has lame for defense? It’s the fire resist I want. So before every dragon I slay, I sheepishly take off whatever I’m wearing and put on the Skyrim promotional helmet. Then I slay me a dragon.
5 The Forgemaster's Fingers
We’re heading into min-maxing territory with this one, but all the same, I always make sure to grab these gloves at my earliest convenience. Why? It's certainly not because of the defense rating.
Wearing these bad boys gives you a massive 12% bonus to your smithing ability. That’s huge! When combined with a good smithing potions, a few other smithing enchanted items, and then this, and you can make something so ludicrously powerful you’ll have to turn up the difficulty setting.
But you never do, ‘cause what’s wrong with one-shotting a dragon? Nothing, that’s what.
4 Blades Sword
Which Ninja Turtle was your favorite? Everyone who didn’t say “Leonardo” can now leave the room. This entry isn’t for you.
Yes, the Blades Sword’s damage isn’t all that great, and yes, it has slightly less reach than other weapons in the same class. But it’s a katana, so none of that matters. When you wield this sword you become the most bad-ass ninja to ever grace a screen. You become Leonardo. (Not the painter— WAIT. ARE ALL THE TMNT FAMOUS ARTISTS?!)
I will typically go just far enough in the Blades quest to get one of these, and then promptly forget they ever existed. Still, I can't throw them out. Ever.
I’ve played Skyrim many times now, and every time I always feel that I can’t do anything without a bow. It’s not that magic isn’t a capable alternative for ranged damage, it’s just that… it’s not as good as a bow. And besides that, you’re given a Longbow very early on in the game making it a must-have for all new players.
I once went through an entire playthrough using nothing but the Longbow. It was like I had simply forgotten that other bows existed and I would just sell them all out of reflex. It was just Longbow and Iron Arrows the entire time. I couldn’t figure out why I was taking so long to kill dragons.
Nobody said I was the brightest Nord in Skyrim.
2 Woodcutter’s Axe
It may be a fantasy land, but it’s still a medieval fantasy land. As such, you gotta have wood. Normally, it’d be to keep from freezing to death, but as the Dovahkiin apparently have anti-freeze running through their veins, you need wood for other reasons. Crafting reasons.
There’s plenty of wood-chopping blocks scattered throughout Skyrim, and many of them even have axes already nearby. But every single chopping block I go to has nary an axe in sight. That’s why I always bring my own wherever I go so I can always make me some arrows.
I never figured out why you couldn’t just use a regular axe to chop wood.
1 Forsworn Headdress
You have many options for headwear in Skyrim. You can use the aforementioned Iron Helmet and look like a walking poster. You can wear a hood and look like you’re a refugee or an assassin - maybe both. You can wear furs and look like you’re actually trying to not have your ears fall off due to frostbite.
Or you can wear a dead deer on your head.
I mean, it’s a dead deer. Why wouldn’t you want to be wearing it on your head? What better way to strike fear into the hearts and minds of your enemies than to wear the carcass of a deer? I killed Bambi, and now I’m wearing him on my head. That’s the mark of a true Dragonborn.