BLOG Skyrim: Our Friends From The Nord
Blogger John Cooper is hopelessly lost in Skyrim – Scrolls, Nirn and a brief history of Tamriel
So I’m onto my fourth horse now. The first was killed by bandits, the second chased a necromancer off a cliff, and the third I accidentally rode off a waterfall as I was too busy admiring the view. I’m wielding the mace of Molag Bal, which clashes horribly with the gold and green a mixture of elven and glass armour I’m wearing, but makes a great whooshing noise when it sucks the soul out the top of the neck of a freshly decapitated Orc.
If you’re a gamer you’ll probably know about Skyrim, the big, open-world role-playing game. If you’re not, you might have noticed one of those big billboards in your street of a big shouty Viking in a horned helmet all coiled up ready for battle. That’s how big the world of gaming is these days; billboards in the streets. For games. Crikey. Skyrim is truly massive both in gameplay choices, and the amount of hours you can loose to it.
There are plenty of reviews for the game (here’s ours – ed), so I’ll leave that to others. If you’ve been tempted by it, like one of my Xbox playing chums, (I’m strictly PC) but are too daunted by the depth of it, that’s totally understandable. Skyrim is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series. I’ve been playing them since the third game, Morrowind, which is about ten years old now, and I’m hopelessly excited by them. It’s not just that they’re jolly good fun to play but also the history of the series as a whole. Bethesda, the studio which makes the Elder Scrolls series, has played a very long game, refining its mythology, people and places. It’s an impressive bit of world-building, and here just a few reasons why.
Every planet has a North.
All the games are linked, not just in the series but it’s actually the same landmass. Skyrim is the northern province of Tamriel, on a planet called Nirn with two moons. If you ride your Skyrim horse as far south as you can possibly go, you would hypothetically end up in Cyrodil, where the previous game, Oblivion, is set, and if you rode east, you’d end up in Morrowind where everyone looks a lot more blocky, because their game was made back in 2002. If you rode due west in Skyrim and managed to pass the Druadach Mountains you’d eventually end up in High Rock and Daggerfall (1996), but you wouldn’t be let in unless you were DOS compatible.
What day is it? Tirdas
If you’ve waited or had a sleep in Skyrim, you might wonder why “Tirdas”, “Middas” or “Last Seed” are flashing up on your screen. It’s Tamrielic. You don’t need to know it, but days and nights are all properly ordered in Edlder Scrolls; there are seven days in a week and 12 months in a year. Tuesday is Tirdas, November is Sun’s Dusk, and you can work out the rest yourself.
History is also divided into ages. Skyrim is set in the fourth age and is written “4E” followed by the date, so if you’re going to let Skyrim be a massive time-sink in your life like I have, why not go the whole hog and measure it by the Tamrielic calendar. According to Skyrim I’m now about 65, or thereabouts.
As long as you’ve got your elf
There are humans and elves, but no dwarves in the Elder Scrolls. In both Morrowind and Skyrim references to the dwarves tell how the entire race went missing, possibly banished by the gods for doing science instead of religion and leaving behind ancient ruins which are to all intents and purposes large steam-punk death traps for the unwary. I had to go and stand in the calm down corner at least once when fighting my first steam centurion in Skyrim. Maybe the dwarves all got sent away by the god of health and safety for a refresher course. Speaking of gods…
By The Nine
Religion can be tricky at the best of times and there are dozens of deities. Nine of them of are the nice “Divines” one of whom is a bloke called Talos who caused a bit of a stir. A dozen or so are evil “Daedric Princes”, one of which has a really dodgy Scottish accent and most of them dress in black and red and wear spiky clothes and live in even spikier houses surrounded by lava. You can spend the better part of a day reading all the books in the game to find out who’s who.
Leaving my trusty forth horse on the banks of lake Illinalta I went for a spot of diving to find some treasure on a map I’ve found. Thanks to my enchanted ring of water-breathing I didn’t have to worry about being at the bottom of the sea, but then dropped it instead of equipping it, then some slaughter-fish turned up… and you can probably guess the rest.