The year is 2018. The governmental forces that be have decided that I am to develop and claim mayor-ship over a new town in the county of Riverrun. I have minimal experience developing towns, but enamoured by the prospect of making my mark on the world, I accept. This can only go well.
I name the town Glimmerside, after the glimmering river beside which the town will be made. I immediately spend three months trying to plan a symmetrical layout with two grids for residential and industry, and eventually give up on perfection. I also neglect to pause the game until houses have been constructed and residents start moving in, complaining at me for the lack of power and water. I set up basic systems for both, almost bankrupting myself in the process, before realising that I have perhaps started too big. Oops.
I sustain my industry with the bare necessities and watch as my funds plunge to less than $500 during construction, barely evening out into profitable territory in time. I muddle along at a snail’s pace, my entire town earning as much as maybe one full time employee on minimum wage per day, before the governmental powers that be notice that I’ve reached 460 residents – an apparent milestone – and award me twenty grand, apparently blind to all else that is happening in Glimmerside. I almost choke in relief.
It’s not all sunshine and daisies from there, though. After extending my pipes, building some extra wind turbines, and creating a landfill for the whinging masses, I find myself running low on funds again. I use the last of them to make a long-overdue sewage pipe (down-river from the water intake, I’m not stupid), and sit back while my city turns out enough money for me to progress. Something’s wrong, though. My profits are suddenly dwindling. Glimmerside is losing citizens due to crime. I haven’t hit 900 population yet, so I’m not allowed to build a police station. Glimmerside is essentially a lawless place, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I take out a loan. The crime rate continues to skyrocket. Citizens continue to move away, distancing me from my goals of being able to build a police station. Abandoned houses litter the streets. Desperate, I try to make citizens happier. I build a medical clinic. I build another wind turbine to stop blackouts. I demolish abandoned buildings and add more trees – people like trees, right? But nothing works. The sewage is backing up again. Bandits parade brazenly through the streets. I’m in debt, and utterly unable to pay back my loan. I can’t see that I’m missing anything else; Glimmerside was doomed the moment I built those massive grids. With a smaller population, crime and budget may not be such an issue. But I bit off more than I could chew.
Glimmerside was doomed. Alternative methods would have to found…
In part 2, I attempt to fix Glimmerside and wean myself off of the Unlimited Money budget, so begrudgingly bestowed upon me by the very realistically generous government.
This isn’t going be your typical blog post because I’m currently knee-deep in deadline panic and have already written 1,500 words today! But a blog post there shall be, following up on last week’s post on Skyrim. I’m a little traumatized from some in-game events that took place a few minutes ago in-game, outside and inside my very own home. (Hey, I wrote 1.5k words today, I needed me some Skyrim.)
I know I said my High Elf was going to settle down for a while. It’s just… you see, I realised that my wife Camilla was having an affair.
Faendal here had the gall to tease me by showing up outside my very house. The smugness in his voice could not be mistaken; this pointy bastard was sleeping with my wife.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not flying off the handle here for no reason. Camilla and Faendal have history, you see. Upon my first arriving in Riverwood, she was locked in a vicious love triangle with him and another pursuer named Sven. I don’t remember who approached me first, but each of them wanted me to fake a letter from the other to give to her, but I ended up simply marrying her myself after saving the world and proving that I was the better elf. Beforehand, however, I ended up faking a letter from Faendal and tipping the scales on Sven’s behalf. (Don’t worry, Sven met an unfortunate end before any of the events of this blog post happened.) As a result of this, and probably due to the subsequent marriage, Faendal held a fair amount of resentment towards me.
Oddly enough, Camilla kept the faked love letter and put it up for sale in our shop:
Well, anyway, let’s return to today. After going rogue for a while and ultimately completing the Thieves’ Guild storyline, I decided to drop in on my wife and kids and let them know I was alright. Upon entering the premise, I discovered that my daughter had adopted an adorable little puppy! This was great news. I was home. The fire was going. The kids weren’t arguing. We had a puppy.
And then, to my left, came his voice. “Greetings, friend! It’s nice to see such a friendly face so far from home!”
My world shattered. My eyes darted to my wife, who stared back at me with her eternal, unblinking gaze. I returned to Faendal. He eyed me from the shadows. They didn’t even care that I knew. Even my children were happily playing in the other room, probably happy in the knowledge that Uncle Faendal was home again, never mind their dear old Dragonborn Dad.
I had to make him leave. I couldn’t harm him, not here, not-
Dear Talos, the bastard was asking for it. He was mocking me in my own home, cuddling up to my own wife. I understand that I’d not been there for her. I get that I’ve been absent. But she’s my wife.
This was inexcusable.
I was a law-abiding elf, once, intent on saving the world. But then I got roped into the civil war. I killed brave men. Lost Lydia. Lost Sven. Guilt consumed me, drove me to the Thieves’ Guild. The wolf’s blood ran thick in my veins and this abhorrent act was now punishable by my own hand, with no regrets.
It was time to be rid of Faendal.
Camilla couldn’t watch; she turned her head away as her lover was murdered in front of her, the horror and guilt unreadable on her endlessly placid face. But damnit all, I was justified. This smug bastard came all the way from Riverwood to destroy the sanctity of my marriage. And I-
Raised voices were heard. Guards were called. This one arrived at my house within moments of Faendal’s… dispatch. In a state of disbelief, this young milk-drinker turned to me and uttered out his duties as a guard; I’d committed crimes against the people of Whiterun. I was to be punish-
You’re god damn right.
The guard left. Grimacing, I turned to face the wrath of my wife. I’d already taken her dear friend Sven under my wing and ended up killing him in a wolf-out; now I’d murdered her other friend in our own home, in cold blood. Surely she’d not forgive me for this. Life would be forever changed and Faendal, the bastard, will have won.
My wife is either a cannibal, a necrophiliac, or a blank sheet of paper. All she did was thank me once again for returning the golden claw to her brother in Riverwood, before continuing to stir that pot of oh so lovely mammoth stew, and smiling. In a way, her indifference to the situation was more terrifying than my reaction to it. Taking this into consideration, I nudged Faendal’s corpse into the flames and took an early night’s sleep.
This blog post contains some spoilers for the main story and civil war questline in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
So after defeating Alduin and saving the world-
Haaaang on just a moment. Let’s dial this back a bit.
So after playing around 12 hours of Oblivion I realised that I wanted more; namely, that I wanted to graduate to the frozen lands of Skyrim before saving the world in Cyrodiil. I mean, sure, the story in Oblivion was interesting, but I was able to catch up on the events by reading a handy little in game book named The Oblivion Crisis. (Though I’d recommend actually playing the game, in all seriousness.) I decided to play Skyrim as it was meant to be played: with no carry limit removal mod, and on the standard difficulty.
I started out as a lowly prisoner, as this is an Elder Scrolls game and that’s essentially the tradition. After morphing into a few races before the eyes of the nonplussed Imperial before me, I settled on the decision of being a High Elf, as I’ve shown on this blog before:
Now, I’ve played Skyrim a few times before; firstly on PS3, secondly on PC, and both times my attention wavered. Before this playthrough I’d piddled through 11 hours of the game, messing about with commands and mods. I was very wary of starting yet another new character due to this. However, 35 hours later, I’m not regretting this decision. I’d previously never made it past High Hrothgar in the story, but once I decided to focus purely on one thing at a time (namely, one questline at a time) then things became much more fun.
I’m a destruction / conjuration user; I summon my Flame Atronach, back away a few paces, summon my Bound Sword, and start blasting people with fireballs. I also learned to use shouts to my advantage, as the game wants you to do but many people seem to forget exist. In passive roleplay fashion, my character has no solid backstory but happens to be a law abiding citizen with high moral values, who sees both sides of the civil war as flawed and remains the neutral party… whilst the dragons remain an immediate threat.
So, after defeating Alduin and saving the world (there we go), I decided to browse Skyrim a little more and learn a little of its history. I bought a house in Whiterun; I adopted a child; I saved a town from its collective nightmares; I adopted another child; I married Carlotta Camilla, who continues to stress to me every day how much it means to her and her brother that I brought back the golden claw. I proposed to her after I completed the silly love triangle quest and also, directly in front of her brother. Awkward.
I am yet to do many things, but there are some side quests I’ve completed, such as slaughtering the inhabitants of Northwatch Keep to save so-and-so Grey-Mane, joining the Companions and becoming a bit of a werewolf, and obtaining a daedric artifact in the form of a soul gem which will never break upon use. And on my way to the Shrine of Azura, this occured:
But I’m afraid Lydia’s days of photobombing my screenshots were numbered. I have a rule in my playthroughs: when a companion dies, you may not revert time to save them. It sounds silly, but feeling the genuine guilt and regret when you accidentally kill your follower (for they can only die by your hand) legitimately enhances my gameplay experience. It makes the world feel more real, and it creates a sense of the world having consequences.
Lydia met her end in a cramped hallway in some shoddy cave when I was clearing the place out of bandits for the Companions.
Perhaps I should have given her some better armour. Perhaps I should have advised her to stay behind me when I was casting spells. Or perhaps I should have let her stay in Whiterun, tending to my garden, free of the burdens of my many dragon scales and dragon bones, happy to live a peaceful life with my wife and kids and a never-ending awkward tension of feeling out of place.
Well, anyway! Times change, people die, things move on. Desperate to bury my guilt in the youth of a new follower to aid my cause, I returned to Riverwood and sought out a new apprentice. I came across Sven, the Bard, whom I helped with his affections for Cam-
Camilla’s my wife now. Well, that would be an awkward conversation.
Anyway, I approached Sven with the offer of a lifetime – to carry the Dragonborn’s shit – and reluctantly, he accepted, saying that some guy I’m presuming was his bard master had always told him to get out and see more of the world. (Not very good advice for a bard, if you ask me. Counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t he be getting acquainted in taverns? Leave adventuring to the adventurers.) Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I spent 2,000 gold to kit him out with a set of armour to keep him breathing.
Sven was… an interesting companion. Sometimes, upon fast travelling, he’d get out his lute and start playing a tune to the open forest around us. Whilst in full battle-mode gear. He once did it even as a dragon was swooping down on us. Poetry in the face of adversity; it would be commendable if it wasn’t so ridiculous.
Well, anyway, I was messing around with my werewolf abilities and, uh, those swinging arms are hard to control, and…
Nobody tell Camilla.
Torn apart by grief, guilt and feral instincts, my Dragonborn High-Elf Werewolf of a Destruction-Conjurer took a look at the world around him, and decided that civil war was tearing Skyrim apart. By this point my hybrid hide had read many books dotted throughout Skyrim, and spoken to many people; I’d discovered the recent war and the threat of the Aldmeri Dominion (more specifically the Thalmor) in basically taking over Tamriel. And the Stormcloaks are a bunch of racists who’d throw me out anyway, so…
I joined the Imperial Legion to bring unity to Skyrim.
So, alright, my moral values loosened up a bit. I completed the civil war questline on day two of my Skyrim playthrough (those 35 hours were not played far from each other). It was morbidly satisfying to blast through forts, killing at will with an army at my back, winning back Skyrim piece by piece. Tullius wasn’t exactly fond of me, given that I signed half his holds away in the peace treaty, and I never did mention the slaughter of Northwatch Keep to him… but hey, I helped him take down Ulfric. And he only gave me the swiftest of glances whilst I undressed the Stormcloak leader and took his clothes.
His bloodlust satiated, my character finally settled down and considered his actions, and settled upon the idea of living the quiet life for a while. He ventured to Falkreath where, after being tasked to kill some lowly bandits, he was given permission to buy a plot of land.
He built a lovely little house.
There’s still much to do. Every time I pass a guard nowadays they shout “HEARD THEY’RE REFORMING THE DAWNGUARD!” in my ear like it’s going out of fashion. Alright, I get it, I’m the almighty and famous Dragonborn, you want me to kill vampires, just freakin’ ask instead of screaming hints. There’s also apparently some work to be done in Solstheim. But man, this High Elf needs some rest. For now, his adventures are on hiatus; he’s going to settle down in his quiant little log cabin and read the adventure of another type of elf, one who lived around 1,000 years ago…