Skyrim is a truly massive game. In your travels across the land, you’ll find many incredible things, many beautifully written quests, and some big surprises along the way. You’ll fight dragons, daedra, monsters, werewolves, bandits, and unfortunate civilians. Oh, the places you’ll go! But then sometimes, well, you’ll find things that don’t quite add up. Whether it’s a remark from a guard that throws you off guard, a bizarre find deep in a dungeon, or some weird behavior on the part of an NPC, and you’re suddenly Stepford Wive’d back to reality. The immersion’s broken (muh immersion, indeed), and you’re suddenly not the dragonborn, just someone playing a video game.
Now I should say before you get the wrong idea about me, this article is some good-natured ribbing and hairsplitting on my part. I realize all the things on this list are incredibly minor, but some of them are hilariously out of place, while others are just plain weird, and deserve to be pointed out. I enjoy the hell out Skyrim whenever I fall back into it, warts and all, but warts can sometimes be funny, just look at my Aunt Gladys. Whether it’s the best preserved food in history, unlikely or nonexistent recruiting practices, materials unknown to this world, or astonishingly bad societal practices, you’ll find it here. One thing’s for sure, by the end of this list, you’ll never look at Skyrim the same way again. What’s seen can’t be unseen, and, as always, this list does contain spoilers, so beware if you’ve not finished the game!
20. Maro Must Be A Double Agent
Maro’s role in the Dark Brotherhood questline is pretty strange. After you kill (as far as you know) the Emperor by poisoning his dinner, he confronts you and places a 1500 Septim bounty on your head. Someone in the Brotherhood betrayed you, and now he intends to kill you, with the aid of some Penitus Oculatus agents. Dude, do you know who I am? I’m literally the Empire’s last hope, if I’m not around to kill the dragons, they’ll come down south sooner or later, and kill you and everyone you know! Nice logic, man. While we’re on the subject, can we talk about the weirdly low bounty you get for killing an Emperor? 1500 Septims is nothing! You’re essentially letting me sell about 60 of the worst swords in the game, and get a free license to kill the most powerful person in the land!
19. The Thieves’ Guild Aren’t Exactly Stealthy
So the Thieves’ Guild are based around being sneaky, living in the shadows, and stealing from the rich to give to, well, themselves. They’ve even got a special kind of code, shadowmarks, which they leave on buildings around Skyrim to inform other thieves about what kind of thing they can expect to find inside. Their recruitment process, well, it’s less stealthy, more one step short of a major poster campaign. Brynjolf will come up to you in Riften and tell you about a job that he’s got going on, and inviting you to get involved. I. What? You’re not advertising a telesales job here man, you’re trying to recruit people into organized crime! Do it with some sense of keeping the guild hidden! How are they not riddled with informers already, if they pretty much present an open door into one of the world’s most hidden societies? The Gray Fox would be ashamed.
18. The Forsworn SUCK
So everyone and their mother are terrified of the Forsworn. According to these guys, they’re extremely fearsome, a bunch of Reachmen who have a fetish for clothes made of bone and a hidden love for the daedra. Then you actually go to one of their camps. As a decently-leveled Dragonborn, what happens? You cut through them like a hot knife through extremely meaty butter, with antlered helmets falling to the ground like so many dropped quarries. The only ones that can ever really pose much of a threat at all are the ravagers and warlords, and these are pretty much their elite warriors! Send a bunch of town guards in and clear them up, don’t expect me to wander around doing it for you. The reward you give me will only be a pittance anyway.
17. Twisted Allegiances
The Blades in Skyrim are a faint shadow of what they once were in Oblivion. Where they were once the sworn protectors of the Emperor, this role has gone to the more sinister Penitus Oculatus, and most Blades perished in the Great War with the Aldmeri Dominion. All that said, however, traditions don’t tend to simply die out (er, that’s why they’re traditions.) Allowing a sworn enemy of the Empire, an acolyte of Ulfric Stormcloak, and a noted rebel to join their order wouldn’t seem to match with their traditional ethos of watching over the Emperor’s life, now would it? Nevertheless, if you choose to side with the Stormcloaks in the Civil War, you can still join the Blades. They’ll even try to help you negotiate a peace treaty between the warring factions. Weird, huh?
16. The Kids Should Be The Dragonborns Honestly
So you cast an errant shout in a village, and what happens to the kids wandering about? Nothing at all. They can’t be knocked unconscious, killed, or harmed in any way. So here’s the plan. We equip them with armour, turn their play swords into real ones, and send them off to fight the dragons! I mean, I don’t normally approve of child soldiery, but surely if no harm can come to them, there’s no problem whatsoever, right? We need to put this to use, before they hit adulthood and become mortal! Real talk: I get why the children are invulnerable – it wouldn’t do to have the protagonist have “child killer” on their long litany of crimes against the people, but it does leave the door open for some hilarious ideas.
15. A Pointless Pharmacy
If you’ve played much of Skyrim, or gone off the beaten track at all, I’m sure you’ve explored an optional dungeon from time to time. You’ll encounter bandits, monsters, or the occasional Dwemer machine, depending on the location. You’ll also find a whole heap of items, including, most notably for this entry’s purposes, health potions. So here’s the thing. The Dragonborn, potentially the leader of the Companions, master assassin, accomplished mage, and werewolf/vampire kicks your door in, and the average bandit doesn’t stop and think “Hm, I’d better grab some of these health potions to help fight him off”? The AI in Elder Scrolls games has always been, let’s say, not genius-level, but the enemies refusing to use their own stash of potions in their favor is baffling. Do they just collect them for the pretty colors?
14. The Sturdiest Doors In History
“I’m the all-powerful Dragonborn, and I’m here to bring you PAIN,” you cry as you slice through screaming enemies before hitting a locked door. Dammit. You forgot your lockpicks. Well, guess I’ve got to head home, then. What?! Why does a locked door (or a barred door, which is apparently the equivalent of a bank vault) stop me? I should be able to hack it down with an axe, Shining style, or blast it down with magic. I can shout pure force at people, for the Nine’s sake! The lore’s established that a group shout can bring down city gates, you’re telling me one can’t bring down a flimsy wooden door? Deus Ex let me blow doors open with explosives, and that was in 1999! Up your game, Bethesda!
13. Bounty Hunting Is The Worst Job
As the Jarl’s men are apparently far too busy meandering around town and being generally useless, killing the towns’ enemies falls to you. You grumble, thinking that you’ve got better things to do than killing some bandit leader, but hey, it’s all Septims. You wander over to the camp, take the villain’s head and stroll back into town, whistling a happy tune, dreaming of what you’re going to do with the no doubt generous payment. The steward hands you a bag that feels suspiciously light, checking it, you find just 100 Septims inside. Really? Enough to buy some weak armour? Gee, thanks, guy. Instead of going to the authorities for quests, the strange solution to not getting enough money is to just do odd jobs for townsfolk instead, which usually yield better rewards. No wonder there’s a rebellion on.
12. Dye Packs Are In Everything, Apparently
Light-fingered player that you are, trained by years of RPGs and point-and-clicks to pick up everything that’s not nailed down, you stagger into a merchant’s, pockets full of hot property. What’s that? I can’t sell them to you, because they’re stolen? Oh. How do merchants and guards know which items in your capacious knapsack are stolen? My theory is that some central authority in Skyrim has been going round putting dye packs like you get on bundles of bills into just about everything. That cup? Dyepacked. That sword? Dyepacked. This small statue? Dyepacked. I don’t know how they’re hiding them, but I think I’m on to something here. If I can find a way to remove them, I’ll be the richest man in all Tamriel, a veritable Mansa Musa! Someone get the Thieves’ Guild on this.
11. One Of The Most Powerful Forms Of Magic Can Be Stopped By Cloth
So when Ulfric Stormcloak is heading (heh) up to the executioner’s block, the Imperials have gagged his mouth to stop him using shouts to break free. This is meant to be game-changing, critically important magic here. Are you honestly telling me that it can be stopped with a thin strip of cloth over the mouth? I mean, the solution, as barbaric as it is, to the Empire’s problems seems pretty obvious then really. Just send a special force around Skyrim cutting the tongues out of powerful Stormcloaks. Their uprising would be quelled within a day! You would imagine that such a powerful form of magic would somehow work via the power of the mind, or through some kind of external force people channel. But no, it’s just plain old words of power being spoken. Doesn’t seem that dangerous to me.
10. Couriers Apparently Have Homing Devices Implanted
Couriers play a vastly important role in the world of Skyrim. They’re no FedEx, shipping discount TVs and consoles around the place. Their role is far more important here: they bring news of quests that the Dragonborn can fulfill to improve his already voluminous reputation! But the Dragonborn is one of the most mobile people in all of the realm. One moment they can be in Whiterun, one minute Solitude! They might not even have any fixed abode, preferring to camp out under the stars rather than forge a perfect home. It doesn’t matter, though. The couriers somehow still find him. Are they all Usain Bolts, sprinting around the map like Doomguy? Skooma addicts, using a terrifying amount of drugs to let them reach Mach 2? They must dash around, breathlessly asking for the guy in the cool-looking armor, before zooming off again. Give ‘em a raise!
9. Law And Order Matter…Until They Don’t
You’d think that saving a town from almost certain destruction would be worth a little bit of forgetfulness on the part of the guards, wouldn’t you? Sure, I stole a couple of cups and coins from an old lady (before maybe killing her, but shh), but I also just LITERALLY SAVED THE TOWN! If it weren’t for me, you’d all be cinders by now! But no. You’re still a thief, so pay a fine or head to prison to serve your time, cup-stealing scum! This would seem to suggest that there’s a very strong sense of law and order in Skyrim. Think back to the beginning of the game. You were going to be executed despite not being on the list! Then we’d really have been stuck, wouldn’t we! They’re all hypocrites, screw the factions, I’m going anarchist.
8. The Companions Suck At Strategy
The Companions are supposed to be some of the most elite fighters in Skyrim. In their own words “we are the true spirit of Skyrim. Honor is in our blood, death in our hearts,” well, the honor definitely gets splashed around the place a lot. Honestly, have you ever tried fighting with the Companions? It’s like fighting alongside extremely arrogant cats. You’d think there’d be some form of strategy in their movements, a wave of beauty in their combat. Instead, they charge like idiots towards the enemy, apparently taking their tactics from “The Big Book Of Swordplay” that they got when they were 15. Maybe their werewolf leadership is the explanation. The war room might just be full of werewolves scattering chess pieces around a map, with the foot soldiers following blindly.
7. Meridia Hates The Undead…With One Exception
Meridia is a daedra that takes the form of a beautiful woman who represents life and “infinite energies.” They also have a massive hatred of the undead, particularly necromancers who interfere with their actions, and thus is generally thought of as a good daedra, in comparison to their usually malicious compatriots. Here’s the thing though. Vampires are undead. Should the player become a vampire, you’d think that Meridia would be permanently pissed at you, right? She definitely wouldn’t let you work for her, right? Well…no. She actually is happy to let you complete her quests. You can still head out to kill Malkoran and his shades, becoming her champion and being rewarded with the enchanted sword Dawnbreaker, which is particularly useful against undead, such as yourself.
6. HR Needs More Training
Not to sound like a lazy guy here, but how come I have to trek across the world to join a side in the civil war. I’ve defeated dragons, I’m the head of the Thieves Guild, the Companions, the Dark Brotherhood, the College of Winterhold, and noted Werewolf. Maybe you’ve heard of me? I should be getting job offers from both side, left, right, and center. Fruit baskets, bouquets of weaponry and sacks of Septims should be being hand-delivered to me by wheezing couriers, but instead, what do I get? Nothing. Why should I be the one tracking you down? When I do finally go to join either side, I’m treated like dirt. I should have let all of you fry, or get captured by Thalmor.
5. The Most Mature Cheese
We’ve already talked about the weird presence of unused and unloved potions in various dungeons, but there’s an even weirder item-based secret lurking in the depths. You’re down in the deep, in untouched and unknown rooms, untouched by human (or otherwise) hand for centuries. The last thing you’d expect to find is a veritable restaurant larder of fresh, untouched food, right? Well, guess again! You’ll often come across cheese, fruit, vegetables, bread, etc, among the darkness and the monsters. Who left it down here? Did previous civilizations discover food preservatives unknown to man? Is it proof that we’re not actually the first adventurers to come down here, and are now merrily snacking on their last mark on the world? If that’s the case, I apologize for the grave robbing. They were delicious snacks, though.
4. The Thalmor (And Other NPCs) Are Blissfully Unobservant
If you’ve ever come across the Thalmor, you’ll know they’re not something you soon forget. Agents of the evil Aldmeri Dominion, they’ve been fanning the flames of conflict between the Stormcloaks and the Imperials. Creepy looking elves, you’ll spot them dressed in tight-fitting robes or plate armor, often leading some poor bastard across the landscape to a grim fate. In their efforts to try and root out Talos worshipers, they’ll still ask you if you’re dressed head-to-toe in Thalmor robes yourself, and even if you’re an elf too. This kind of lack of awareness stretches deep into Skyrim. You’ll often find city guards expressing a hatred for a certain kind of weapon, that they just happen to be wielding themselves, for example. I know that Skyrim must be an ungainly beast to try and program, but it’s pretty funny to see these kind of seams.
3. Stockholm (Windhelm?) Syndrome
The Stormcloaks are…an unpleasant bunch. Essentially in-game white supremacists, they throw slurs around like crazy and plan to do something unpleasant to elves if they emerge victoriously. So…why would an elf, whether high, wood, or dark, want to join this gang of bigots? Like, sure, they could hate the Thalmor, or be justifiably angry at the Empire for trying to slice their cranium clean off their shoulders, but really? Why would you go so far as to join a group who hate your kind, when you could just sit this one out? More to the point, why would the Stormcloaks ever accept an elf into their ranks? You’d think they’d be getting chased out of Windhelm by a baying mob, not being accepted as a loyal foot soldier of the rebellion.
2. People Adapt Too Quickly
So you say that you’re the Dragonborn, and now it’s time to prove your worth! A dragon’s showed up in a town and is terrorizing the place, spewing fire about more than an overly-enthusiastic G.I. in Vietnam. In no short order, you’ve dealt with the beast and absorbed its soul, no thanks to the town guards. Now, however, there’s a problem. A massive dragon skeleton lying in the middle of a road, causing pedestrian traffic gridlock. How do the townspeople react? Well, they kind of don’t. There’s a dragon skeleton outside your God damn door! You can’t get home now, thanks to the ten-ton bones in the way! Nevertheless, they go on living their bumbling existence, now rendered homeless thanks to your thoughtlessness in where you killed said beast. Apparently, this doesn’t matter though, they’ll just drink in the inn. Okay then.
1. Where Does All The Food Come From?
Despite the massive civil war going on, dragons rampaging from place to place, and a massively increased number of deaths since this Dragonborn person turned up, no one in Skyrim looks badly fed. Everyone seems to be getting enough of the right stuff to eat. So my question is where? How? You don’t come across many farmers in Skyrim. Whether that’s because of the freezing climate or a propensity to get murdered, I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that when you do find them, they seem to be bizarrely communally-minded souls, who let you harvest all their produce for yourself. You happily march off into the sunset, face buried in a fresh lettuce, and they’re left barren. Is food just being imported from Tamriel at huge cost? Do NPCs just eat metal and ceramics to stay alive?
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