You would think that anywhere you spend literal hundred of hours would be a space that is well known to you. After all, think about your office. Your home. Your car - or the train stations you visit on your commute. We know these places and the things in them so well that they’ve become the subject of many a film featuring someone in the throes of a middle-age crisis, desperate to leave the humdrum of life’s monotonous rhythms
You would think. But that’s not the case with Skyrim. Even if you think you could rob the people of Whiterun, Solitude, and (yes,) Riften blindfolded, learnt and applied every enchantment to every weapon in your inventory, met every bemused guard, mined every inch of machalite, killed every dragon, became both a werewolf and a vampire, and spent time walking through every one of Skyrim’s four mountainous passes, there is still some of this magical game that remains a mystery.
And that’s one of the fifth Elder Scroll’s installments biggest strengths - it favours both length and depth, creating an experience that doubles up as any RPG player’s best and most rewarding investment (Bitcoin ain’t got nothing on it). Yup, Skyrim became a cultural event as much as it did a video game, and while we know its history, development, and team as well as we do its snowy peaks, its brilliance is in its ability to surprise even six years after release. Here are fifteen shocking facts you didn’t know about Skyrim.
15 The Map Shows Life In Skyrim In Real-Time
Is it just us, or is any sentence with the words ‘in real-time’ thrilling AF? Just us? K. Moving on. Did you know that Skyrim’s maps show the landscape as it is in real-time? Of course, you didn’t! You might have noticed it changes periodically, sure, but if you’re anything like us, you’ll have chalked it up to AI randomly djing things up to keep life in Tamriel interesting, but the map actually responds to the player’s actions.
If you use the ‘Clear Skies’ shout (Lok Vah Koor), the clouds that hang low over Skyrim’s mountains will disappear, and if you open your map while you’re in the midst of swallowing a dragon soul (definitely not vegan), there will be a little bright, burning spot where you’re at. Dinner and fireworks, baby!
14 Skyrim’s Map Isn’t Bethesda’s Biggest
This is just salt in the wound, but anyone who doesn’t know what they don’t know about Skyrim’s map, won’t be happy to hear that it isn’t even Bethesda’s biggest. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall has a map that’s apparently 4000 times its size. Four. Thousand. But look, if the graphics and frame rate are anything to go by though, maybe it just felt like 4000.
Jokes aside, this is likely to be the truth, especially considering how, overall, Skyrim doesn’t fare too well in comparison with titles from other publishers, like Grand Theft Auto V from Rockstar, or Witcher 3 from CD Projekt Red. Skyrim’s map size does, unfortunately, beat out Fallout 4, according to at least one source. (Psst. Bethesda, you’re meant to be making them bigger as you go on, not smaller).
13 Winnie The Pooh’s Voice Actor Stars As Many Of Your Favourite Characters
Rumbling and tumbling, climbing a honey tree. All things you can do in Skyrim, and Ashdown Forest, apparently - the setting for all of the Winnie the Pooh adventures. And that’s not the only thing these seemingly-incommensurable universes have in common; the actor who voiced tubby Pooh Bear, Jim Cummings, also voiced none other than Festus Krex - the creepy old dude in the Dark Brotherhood.
Jim also lent his voice to Vignar Gray-Mane (hater of the Battle-Borns), Olfrid Battle-Born (hater of the Grey-Mane’s), Skald the Elder (that Jaarl with a giant problem, who lords over the town with the recurring nightmares), and plenty more. That’s a fair share of Skyrim’s NPC lines. If only they had got him to voice any of the opening scene’s characters, Skyrim’s rocky start may have stood a fighting chance.
12 Over 60 000 Lines Of Dialogue Were Recorded for Skyrim
Speaking of dialogue (ha!), not many people realize the scope of Skyrim’s voice acting. There were more than 70 actors employed to cover the 60 000 lines of dialogue in Skyrim. Some postulate that it’s this breadth that resulted in the poor voice acting in some of the game’s key scenes. Maybe not, though, given that The Witcher 3’s script featured the word count of four full-length novels, and didn’t leave every player cringing at less-than-impressive delivery - that job was left to whoever was in charge of Geralt’s many "adult" scenes.
Big names on the Skyrim cast included Max Von Snydow, who voiced Esbern, and who some might know better from The Exorcist and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Christopher Plummer who played Arngeir, and who is known for The Sound of Music as well as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Joan Allen, who starred as Delphine in Skyrim, and otherwise appears throughout the Bourne film series.
11 Someone Named Their Child Dovakhiin, And Got Loads Of Merch For It
In an age where few of us can commit to something as trivial as a gamertag, there are some that throw future anxiety to the (Morro)wind and choose to call their child ‘Dovakhiin’, after Skyrim’s principle character - you. (Little did you think anyone would ever name their child after you, but there you go, friend!)
Let’s break this down. Someone had to have a baby, then had to choose to name said baby after a character who prances around Tamriel eating the souls of his half brothers and sisters. In Talos, we pray that by the time this child grows up, nerd culture has been totally subsumed by the mainstream, taking with it the brunt of the bullying this kid might otherwise fail to avoid. Who knows? Maybe in this utopian future, Dovakhiin could use their Bethesda-gifted Skyrim merch to barter their way to the presidency. We’d have had worse.
10 Dragon Language’s Letters Are Designed To Be Written With Claws
Linguistic nerds, rejoice! This one’s all about Skyrim philology. The shouts that you thrust in the general direction of a dragon, unsuspecting bandit, or non-compliant merchant (shame on you) have a glorious imagined history, dating back to the time when dragons ruled Tamriel, and presumably wrote one another cute notes on rocks and whatever other natural surfaces were lying around.
You see, the shouts are made up of a combination of 34 rune words from Dovahzul (dragon language), and each word is written with lines in various positions. These lines were necessary, because the language needed to be one that dragon’s claws could write. No dragon’s got time for serif. Those in the linguistic know will also be interested to learn that Dovahzul follows the monophthong and diphthong structure of the International Phonetic Alphabet, and everyone - word buff or not - can get behind this English to Dovahzul translator.
9 Skyrim Has Inspired The Most Number Of Fan Tattoos Ever (Not Really, But It IS Possible)
There aren’t any stats on this, seeing as no one in the history of the universe has ever thought to keep count of the number of videogame-based tattoos people have collected, but we’re pretty much convinced that Skyrim’s numbers are up. Fan sites and Pinterest boards confirm the worst, with everyone from this guy to yours truly sporting one or more Skyrim tattoos.
This is all fun and games for now, and we’ll keep fingers crossed that the series doesn’t take a serious dive for the worse, or that none of the developers or writers are outed as practicing sexists. Need some help choosing your own Tamriel tat? It’s that the more literal Skyrim logo tattoos aren’t the way to go. How about a nice Amulet of Mara instead? Don’t balk. It’s original, okay!
8 It’s Me, Parthurnaax! Guess Who Voiced Your Favourite Dragon?
Clearly, we can’t get enough of Skyrim voice actors in this article. This time we’re here to talk Super Mario. Yeah, you read that correctly. Super Mario, guys! Charles Martinet, voice actor of everyone’s favourite plumber since the 90s, stars in Skyrim as Paarthurnax - leader of the Greybeards and all round nice dragon.
That’s the most like Nintendo any Bethesda game has ever been. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Where is the Mario voice dragon mod? Well, there doesn’t seem to be one. This is totally unacceptable. There’s a mod where all the dragon’s are replaced by Macho Man, for goodness sake. Thomas the Tank Engine, too! We can’t get a Mario mod? Smh.
7 Song Of The Dragonborn Is Technically Sung By 90 Voices
‘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!
Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,
To keep evil forever at bay!
And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph's shout,
Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!’
Ooh, the resounding notes of victory. It doesn’t matter who it’s sung by, the Song of the Dragonborn has a special place in the heart of every Skyrim explorer. That said, the original, featured in the game’s start menu, has a decidedly more anthemic ring to it, doesn’t it? That’ll be because it’s technically being sung by 90 voices. A choir of 30 was recorded, and then this recording was duplicated twice, leading to the thunderous, hearty song we cut off mid-sentence whenever we select an option from the menu.
6 The Voice Behind The Thieves Guild’s Mercer Frey Is The Same Voice From The Thief Series
Let’s get it out of the way - Mercer Frey is an asshole. We know. But really, can you blame someone for stealing from the Thieves Guild? Like, shouldn’t that make Frey the ultimate thief or something? Well, maybe not. But having the same voice as Thief’s Garrett certainly does.
Wait, what? Yeah - Garrett, protagonist, and guy who really pulls of eyeliner from the long-standing Thief series is played by actor Stephen Russel, also of Skyrim fame where he voices none other than our sneaky friend, Mercer Frey. Mind. Blown. It’s a thiefception! Off on a slight tangent, can we all just agree that anyone named ‘Frey’ in a fantasy series needs to jump in a lake? Mercer Frey, Walder Frey - where will the senselessness end?!
5 There’s A Pretty Cool Reference To The Film 300
This insert comes with a grave caveat. We all remember the dark time following the release of the film, 300, where frat boys everywhere sought to quote Sparta’s Leonidas in every barely relevant situation. We in no way condone such behaviour.
That out the way, let’s geek out about this awesome 300/Skyrim mash-up. Remember that scene in 300, where a (way too) young Leonidas goes up against a wolf in the icy tundra of Greece’s colder climes? The one where the wolf gets pierced after it leans its whole body weight on Leo’s spear? That one, yeah. Well, if you travel South of the Shrine to Peryite in the Reach, you’ll come across a human skeleton lying near the remains of a sabre cat trapped between two rocks. The poor thing has a glass sword stuck in its mouth. Wink, wink, Bethesda. We see you.
4 Skyrim Was Close To Being A Game Of Thrones Title
Plot twist! Your favourite Elder Scrolls title almost became a Game of Thrones tie-in for the then-recent release of the series on HBO. Truth be told, it wouldn’t have made much difference in terms of map, landscape, items, characters, or combat, but we’re not altogether too happy imagining Skyrim with only three resident dragons.
Unless the games was set in the summer time of the Targaryen reign, say around when Jaehaerys Targaryen I, otherwise known as ‘the wise king’, sat on the iron throne in 48 AC. Okay, so, now we’re starting to have doubts about Skyrim’s relative awesomeness. No shade on Telltale, but it would, without exaggeration, have been the best-ever screen-to-console adaptation ever. Ever.
3 The Game Features ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Story’ Books
Chances are you grew up with your fair share of ‘choose your own adventure’ books. Yep, before the invent of Minecraft, introverted children had to avoid going outside with books like Goosebumps, and the R. A. Montgomery series - brilliant pieces of fiction in their own right.
The developers at Bethesda think so, too, it seems, because they deemed it fit to include a ‘choose your own’ book in Skyrim. Named Kolb and the Dragon: A book for Nord Boys, the book brings a bit of 80s misogyny along for the fun walk down memory lane. Take a break from fighting gender binaries and dragons, and seek out this cute easter egg - starring Kolb, a brave Nord warrior who is definitely a boy or man but very much not a girl or woman. Found in all good bookstores where sexism is still apparent, and reading’s considered a male habit.
2 You Can Kill Someone By Pickpocketing Their Heart
If you find the Amulet of Mara and spend like, thirty minutes with the right person, you could win some hearts in Skyrim, for sure. You could also break some, if you imagine that all the bandits you’ve killed with no recourse or remorse have, you know, families and stuff. But not many Skyrim players know that you can steal a heart from a living being, killing them with a quick awkward crouch.
To explain. You know those Forsworn Briarheart dudes who’ve chosen a deer and fur motif for their overall aesthetic? Well, it turns out that they became Brairhearts by having their own hearts removed and replaced by a tree cone (briarheart). Not a fair swap, if you ask us - or anyone, really. Anyway, this makes the Forsworn Briarhearts particularly easy to kill. Just sneak up behind them, and pickpocket their hearts. Voila! Of course, you’re still the one who’s heartless.
1 None Of The Dragons In Skyrim Are Actually Dragons
Caught you off guard there, didn’t we? It’s true. None of the dragons featured in Skyrim are legitimately dragons - they’re wyverns. What are wyverns? They are the two-legged cousin of the four-legged dragon.
That makes the principle character a Wyvernborn. Doesn’t have the same ring, does it? We’re not sure what possessed the developers at Bethesda to base an entire game on a mistaken understanding of long-standing fantasy lore, but we figure they might have taken something out of Ubisoft’s book and called dragons too hard to animate. Then again, maybe the dragons of Skyrim just have a heavy wyvern-esque feel to them. Wyvern or dragon, though, the flying, literate reptilian creatures in Skyrim remain as bad-ass as ever.