Whether the player is a Stormcloak or Imperial, Skyrim is beloved by all. For those unfamiliar with the game, it is one of the strongest titles in the Elder Scrolls series. The player takes the role of the Dovahkiin, the legendary Dragonborn. Using their dragon powers, players defeat enemies and unlock the secrets of the land. It’s one of the best medieval fantasy games because the world is so fascinating and the characters are so compelling.
Like all video games, however, Skyrim is subjected to some false rumors and assumptions. These aren’t always harmful to the game though. Usually, it’s simply a fun Easter egg or a bug that leads to odd results. Sometimes, it’s a piece of lore that takes the game to the next level. Regardless of the cause, these facts challenge the player’s assumptions and prove how unique and fun Skyrim can be.
From the design of the buildings and dungeons to the interactions with the characters, everything in Skyrim is brilliantly designed. It’s what keeps players coming back to the world six years later. With hundreds of hours of potential gameplay, it’s easy to keep playing. And every dedicated player needs to be in the know for the ins and outs of the games. This is where setting straight rumors and challenging assumptions comes in handy. With such a large game, it’s to the benefit of the player know the origins of the lore and the different gameplay options.
20 Couriers Carry Letters… And Nothing Else
Unclothed couriers were one of the most perplexing bugs of the game. Couriers carrying important messages would find the player character nearly anywhere on the continent. Couriers cross dangerous woods and explore cities. They go on their own adventures to find the most famous adventurer in Skyrim.
This is part of why they sometimes turn up without any clothes. Couriers all originally spawned with clothing, but the world in the game is constantly moving (more on this later). The courier does not simply appear next to the Dragonborn. Instead, he is roaming the world encountering real enemies. If the courier dies, he respawns, but a bug in the game causes him to respawn with nothing but the letter he is carrying. Everything else is lost to the digital ether.
19 That’s No Moon
Skyrim is a pretty game. It’s easy to get lost staring at the aurora borealis or sunset. It would seem that the sky would behave similarly to the real world, but things are different on Nirn: the world that holds the continent Skyrim. Most notably, the moons, Masser and Secunda, are not moons at all. Masser and Secunda are the remains of Lorkhan, a fallen deity and creator of Nirn.
In The Lunar Lorkhan, an in-world book, Fal Droon explains that, like all deities, Lorkhan had a “flesh-divinity” made up as a planet. Each of the eight divinities lent portions of their flesh-divinity to create Nirn, but Lorkhan was torn in two while his “spark of divinity” fell onto Nirn. So while the other eight lived on, his corpse simply floats in the sky. His life was given to create mortal life on Skyrim.
18 Is The Player Really The True Dragonborn?
The dragons are some of the most iconic parts of Skyrim. Even the player character is called the dragonborn. However, some fans have realized something about the winged beasts in the game: they aren’t dragons at all. Instead, the creatures who you fight and whose blood runs through your veins are wyverns.
This is an easy mistake to make. The difference between dragons and wyverns is that dragons have four legs in addition to their wings. Wyverns have two legs and their front arms are winged like a bat. Likely, this design decision came down to animation. Four limbs and two wings are much more difficult to animate than two legs and wings. More limbs equals more time spent on dragons instead of other aspects and details of the world.
17 I Used To Be An Adventurer Like You
Skyrim will forever live on as the “arrow to the knee” meme. After the game’s November 2011 release, players quickly took to the random saying. Some of the other guard lines are referenced occasionally, but the saying “I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow to the knee” really took off. This was printed on t-shirts and other merchandise and was up there with “fus roh dah” as one of the most iconic lines in the game.
Some fans attributed this line to Patrick Rothfuss’s novel Name of the Wind. In the story, one of the characters laments that he gave up life on the road after taking an arrow to the knee. However, Bethesda has denied this. The real story of the line is that designer Emil Pagliarulo wrote it to make the guards seem more real and relatable.
16 Staffs Are Not As Useful As They Seem
Staffs have a long history in magical lore. Mages use them to concentrate their magical power or harness the innate magic of the staff. Then, they shoot spells out at enemies. In a pinch, it can also be used as a melee weapon. In Skyrim, staffs are plentiful, but many players do not know the finer details of how to use staffs. For example, it’s not inherently obvious that staffs do not level up the associated skill.
This is another odd design decision from the Skyrim developers. If a player relies on staffs, then they may play for a long time with no inherent benefit. Staffs are a good alternative for when a player’s magic runs out. Melee weapons do not need to be reloaded and arrows are plentiful in the game. It seems like an unfair disadvantage to mage characters.
15 Daggers Cannot Be Enchanted
One of the odder aspects of the mechanics of Skyrim has to do with daggers. They’re a versatile weapon and can easily be used for a sneaky, assassin character. What’s most odd about this weapon, however, is that it isn’t affected by the one-handed fortify enchantment. Many players noticed this and wondered if it was a bug or an intentional decision by the game developers.
What is interesting is that potions worked on daggers where enchantments didn’t. This seems like an odd decision, but players noticed a difference. While daggers are still a decent weapon, the fact that they were immune to this enchantment made using them less desirable. However, a popular Skyrim mod designed to fix typos and other errors in the details of the game released a patch that fixed this issue.
14 Cicero's Descent Into Madness
The Keeper of the Night Mother’s Coffin is a great adversary to the Dragonborn. Cicero is annoying not only in his habit of dancing and singing, but also in his erratic behavior with the Dark Brotherhood. Despite his loyalty to his “mother,” Cicero finds it difficult to maintain loyalty and trust in anyone else. However, the player has the ability to find out that Cicero was not always afflicted with madness.
If the player finds his journals in the Falkreath Sanctuary, they learn about Cicero’s past. Cicero was once an assassin for other sanctuaries. After the Mother’s previous listener died, he was voted to become the next Keeper. In order to do this, he had to complete a final job: killing a jester. As he followed the jester, learning his movements, he slowly became obsessed. The other members of the sanctuary were killed until he was left alone with only the thoughts of the jester to keep him company.
13 May Your Road Lead You To Warm Sands
The Khajiit from Elsweyr are one of the most mysterious races in Skyrim. Like the Argonians, the Khajiit are distrusted and oppressed because they are more similar to animals than humans. Skyrim grapples a lot with oppression and prejudice, but the Khajiit’s storyline is mostly unresolved in this (and every) Elder Scrolls game. Little is known about the Khajiit, and they don’t interact much with the player character.
While most players may think there are only a few types of Khajiit, according to the games developers, there are many types of Khajiit as there are types of cats. Khajiit can resemble bobcats or cougars, or even tigers and housecats. A Khajiit’s appearance is based on the lunar cycle, though only a select few fur patterns and physiologies appear in Skyrim.
12 Not All Items Returned Are Lost
Some items in Skyrim are really, really cool. Throughout the world, there are many unique items and weapons that, unfortunately, the player does not have access to. Sometimes, however, the player can temporarily get access to these items for a mission, only to lose them later. It’s disappointing, especially when the weapon fits the character’s skills especially well. However, it seems that these weapons do not need to be lost after all. Some players have found a way to hold on to these weapons and complete their respective missions.
The solution to this problem is simple. Though the game wants the player to think these weapons will be lost forever, all players need to do is hang them up on a weapon rack. The item will be available in the weapon rack, and available to return to the quest giver. Though it breaks the reality of the game, it’s a win-win for the NPC and the player.
11 The Mammoths Of Skyrim
The mammoths of Skyrim are one of the coolest animals in the game. They’re huge, but mostly unaggressive. They are often seen with the giants. Players can actually steal mammoth cheese from giant camps. These beasts are powerful, though, unlike the dragons and other powerful creatures, players don’t get the opportunity to interact with them much.
What most players don’t know is that there are two types of mammoths roaming Skyrim. There are wild and domesticated mammoths. Tame mammoths are denoted by the carved runes on their tusks. Domesticated mammoths are also slightly more difficult to kill due to the increase in enemies during mammoth battles. Giants will enter into battle if their mammoth is attacked. Mechanically, however, both types of mammoths behave similarly.
10 It’s A Hard Knock Life For Aventus Aretino
One of the first quests that introduces the player to the Dark Brotherhood is “Innocence Lost.” In this quest, Aventus Aretino begs for the Brotherhood’s help in assassinating Grelod the Kind. Grelod, despite her name, is an evil woman. She runs the orphanage in Riften and abuses the children there. However, being orphans, they have no one to advocate for them and stop the abuse. When the Dragonborn meets Aventus, he assumes the player is a part of the Dark Brotherhood and begs them to kill Grelod.
Grelod, as every player who has completed the mission knows, is extremely easy to kill. In fact, it would have been feasible for the children to kill her themselves. She has a mere 2 HP and will go down after a single hit. It’s obvious why the Dark Brotherhood would not trouble themselves with such an easy target.
9 Skyrim Is Constantly Evolving
Skyrim is an amazing game for many reasons. The biggest one is that the world is extremely dynamic. Some players have realized that the map of Skyrim is rendered in real time. That is to say that the map is an eagle eye view of what the player is experiencing in Skyrim. If a dead dragon begins to burn or the clouds are cleared away by the Dragonborn, this can be seen on the map.
This is because the entire world is constantly moving in Skyrim. NPCs, creatures, and even weather is constantly changing and moving across the whole map—even in places across the continent from the player character. This leads to interesting spontaneous match-ups, like a courier versus a dragon. From what we learned earlier on this list, the odds are likely not in the courier’s favor for that battle.
8 Ivarstead Or Bust
Getting to High Hrothgar really sets the Dragonborn on their journey. It is one of the most pivotal moments of the main storyline. Usually, this involves going through Ivarstead, a small settlement at the base of the mountain. It is the first stop before ascending the 7,000 steps. This pilgrimage leads the player to the Throat of the World and the Greybeards.
However, there is more than one way to reach the Throat of the World. Players can travel up the other side of the mountain. On the way, they will meet a frost troll and miss the 7,000 steps, but some players prefer to do things their own way. Meeting the Greybeards, one way or the other, is the only way to progress the story and unlock dragon shouts.\
7 Secrets Of Jorrvaskr
The Companion’s hall, Jorrvaskr, in Whiterun is the ancient mead hall of the warrior’s guild. Though the building simply appears to be very old (the oldest in Whiterun, in fact), there is much more to it. Just like the Companions themselves, the building has its own secret transformation.
Zooming out while looking at Jorrvaskr reveals that it is not a building, but a massive longboat. Skyrim’s mythology states that it was a ship originally sailed by Jeek of the River and twenty-two. The ship was originally constructed for First Five Hundred Companions of Ysgramor—the first of The Companions to arrive on the region. While exploring Whiterun, they discovered the Sky Forge, which would be used by the Companions for centuries afterward.
6 Remembering The Fallen
Skyrim has a bloody history. Between the Stormcloaks’ Rebellion and everything that has come before, many have died in the region. Though many plotlines and missions in the game continue the killing, many are about remembrance as well. Throughout the game, there are many opportunities to learn about the lore of Skyrim and the people who have resided there.
One Easter egg of remembrance is on the wall of Windhelm’s cemetery. Though it’s easy to pass by, this piece of Skyrim shows how the people react to loss. In the south alley of the cemetery, there is a memorial wall. Though the names are partially obscured, players can pick out a few names. It seems that the artists who created this wall combined figures from Elder Scrolls lore and real European history.
5 What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
In Skyrim, any type of fire has the potential to kill the player. Magical or not, just like in the real world, flames hurt. If player jump into forges, magical fire, etc., their health will begin to drain. However, like the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you strong.
While most players know that fire burns and hurts your character, it isn’t the whole truth. Fire does drain your health, but forge fire does something special as well. When player characters jump into forges, their health is drained, but if they stay alive long enough (usually through jumping), their destruction skill will also be increased. It’s not clear why this happens, but it’s an easy way to level up that particular skill.
4 The Finest In Skyrim Dining
Everyone knows that food can be the difference between life and death in the middle of some Skyrim battles. To get a character’s health back up to full, players can open their inventory and gorge themselves. Many players think the way to pick up food is by stealing it or buying it from taverns. What they don’t realize is that Skyrim also has a restaurant function.
When in a tavern, players have the option to sit down at the bar or at a table. When they do, a server will come up to them and take their order. This order comes from a pop-up merchant menu. It’s the same food as the main merchant, but it’s more immersive and fun to play restaurant within the game.
3 Rain, Rain Go Away
The weather in Skyrim makes the game feel more real. Even dreary, rainy weather is rendered and designed beautifully. The weather doesn’t affect the Dragonborn unless mods are installed. It’s simply an aesthetic effect. Not even the moons have an apparent effect on the weather. The Dragonborn, however, does.
Players can use the “Clear Skies” shout to push away clouds and other weather effects. What’s most fascinating though is that the shout will cause an aurora borealis. This light effect is common in Skyrim, but not every player knows that it can be a side effect of a shout. If the Dovahkin desires a clear night, then they need only to shout it at the sky. Waiting a few minutes shows that the skies won’t only be clear, but also filled with the light of the aurora borealis.
2 Stealing Hearts
Some of the high-ranking Forsworn are Forsworn Briarhearts. These enemies are tough to kill. They’re keenly aware of their surroundings and immune to many of the undead-targeting weapons and spells. They are usually as strong as the player, so battles with them are formidable. There are ways to defeat them, however. One is to simply steal their heart.
Because they are able to hear even the slightest noise, it’s very difficult to sneak up on a Forsworn Briarheart. If the player succeeds, however, then they are able to pickpocket the Forsworn’s heart. This instantly kills them. When this happens, a gaping hole is left in their chests. For sneaky players, this may be the best way around this tough enemy. Who would have thought that you can steal the hearts of Skyrim characters outside of giving them an Amulet of Mara?
1 Don't Dead Open Inside
The draugr are some of the first enemies the player encounters in Skyrim. While in Riverwood and Bleak Falls Barrow, the player encounters some very easy puzzles. The puzzles unlock doors to get deeper into the dungeons. One of the first criticisms most players have for the game is that these puzzles are baffling easy. They’re usually literally written in stone near the door. However, there is an in-game reason for this.
According to Skyrim mythology, the locks are not to keep anyone out. They are there to keep the draugr in. It makes sense that the people of Skyrim still want access to hidden treasures but also to keep their towns free of the undead. It makes the dungeons something to enter at one’s own risk. Still, it’s worth questioning why the puzzles would literally be written out for the adventurer. Surely they would want to prevent inexperienced adventurers from being overwhelmed by draugr and leaving the door open.