Posts tagged ‘nord’

November 16, 2011

Why I Love Skyrim – by Jsixgun


The main reason I love Skyrim is simple; I love a good RPG. I love to define and create my character until they are wholly mine and mine alone. Skyrim lets you do this very well and this article is going to show you exactly what I mean by that. I’m going to tell you a regaling tale of the beginning of my adventure in Skyrim and it starts with a name.

The first thing you have to do in any good RPG is pick a name. To some this is a menial task they wash away on some attempt to be funny or clever, which is fine and well for those people. I assume our own elusive DorisfromNoris would name his character with some sexual provocateur to be certain, and we won’t even get into what he named his Pokemon because I don’t want your cheeks to get red. However, I on the other hand always take my naming very seriously and use it to define my character through story progression. So what did I name my Nord Warrior? Holger Danske. You’re probably wondering what the heck kind of name Holger Danske is; the answer lies within the tales of Charlemagne in an old French poem, Chanson de Geste. While I will save you the history lesson, in short, Holger Danske (also Ogier the Dane depending on who’s writing about him) was a Danish prince who grew up in Charlemagne’s court, won many battles, killed a giant, had a special sword, and did all sorts of fanciful things. His legend claims that he fell asleep in old Kronborg Castle, and sleeps there still until the time that he will wake again to defend the Danish people against a great enemy (pretty cool).

Holger presumably sleeping until the aliens attack Norway.

My Holger? Well he’s no sleeping Arthurian-esque hero; at least not yet. Born into the great Empire of Tamriel, Holger didn’t quite enjoy the persnickety Imperials, not even a little bit. You see Holger’s great-great grandfather was a true Nordic kinsmen of the famed Companions. However, for purely economic reasons his family of blacksmiths moved south into the empire two generations ago, and has been blacksmithing in the south-eastern regions for decades. The Empire, nevertheless, was no place for Holger’s restless heart.  You see, Holger grew up resenting the Imperial taxes and longed for the cold northern skies and his bearded kinsmen. After his father’s untimely death he packed what few belongings he had and decided he would go north, search out the Companions, and find his fate.

Along the way he was mistakenly arrested as a storm cloak rebel and the rest is history currently in process of being written. I will, however, leave you with a bit of prose that defines my Holger well. It comes from the English poet Ted Hughes (credit gatesofvienna.com):

The Warriors of the North

Bringing their frozen swords, their salt-bleached eyes,

             their salt-bleached hair,

The snow’s stupefied anvils in rows,

Bringing their envy,

The slow ships feelered Southward, snails

             over the steep sheen of the water-globe.

 

Thawed at the red and black disgorging of abbeys,

The bountiful, cleft casks,

The fluttering bowels of the women of dead burghers,

And the elaborate, patient gold of the Gaels.

 

To no end

But this timely expenditure of themselves,

A cash-down, beforehand revenge, with extra,

For the gruelling relapse and prolongueur of their blood

 

Into the iron arteries of Calvin.

November 16, 2011

On The Subject Of Skyrim, And Other Related Thoughts…


We have all, at some point in our childhoods, been subjected to that joke of a thing they call D.A.R.E.  You know, the drug prevention program that encourages kids to become informants against their parents, the very same program that has been discredited by the government, condemned by the Surgeon General, and been shown to increase drug use in kids that “graduate” from their program.  But if there’s one thing we can take away from our elementary school’s D.A.R.E. officer, its that we shouldn’t do drugs because even one taste will get us addicted.  That first high will be so amazing that the rest of our descent into the gutter will be driven by an attempt to reclaim that now lost initial euphoria.  And while I can’t speak to meth or heroin, I can certainly see some relation in terms of Bethesda’s newest release, an experimental drug that goes by the street name “Skyrim”.

Before and after: The faces of Skyrim

Rambling, attenuated introduction aside, I’ve found myself obsessed with this game ever since its release.  See, I’ve lived under this crippling jones for years now; a futile attempt to reclaim that feeling that Morrowind gave me.  The game was so strange, so amazing in its novelty, and so engrossing that Oblivion couldn’t help but falter under the weight of my expectations.  And considering my expectations for Skyrim were considerably higher, I was under the cautious belief that this game might not be as great as I wanted it to be.  But for the first time in my life, I was happy to be wrong.  Skyrim has reclaimed in me that early sense of awe and immersion that Morrowind offered, while still retaining the improvements and innovation that Oblivion had brought.  That’s why when last night I found myself sitting in a field, eating antlers, watching the Northern Lights flow by, I realized this game will take me forever to “beat”.  And that’s entirely OK to me, because I don’t want it to be over.  I want to find out what weird things lie ahead, and I don’t want any guide or google search to tell me about them.  I have on one disc an entirely untapped world before me, and I intend to discover it myself, all of it, no matter how long it takes.

While I'm at it, I wan't to know why the sky is such a damn show off.

I just can’t put the game down.  It’s like reading the best book ever written, and I co-authored it.  Even the actual books in the game are great to read, and I highly recommend The Theif as a starting point for some of the local lore and fiction.  In terms of worth, it seems like I should be criminally liable to Bethesda for getting so much game for relatively so little.  And as Jsixgun and I have discussed, the game invites you to create your own backstory for your character, in order to develop the motivations for the choices you make in the game.  With that said, let me introduce you to my character, a man by the name of John Sylvester.  Had he been born in a different time, he would have made a wonderful Civil War general.  He may be a coward and as selfish as a baby, but his sideburns alone would more than qualify him.

Equip bushy sideburns?

*Don’t worry, I won’t post any spoilers.*  He’s an Imperial, but has chosen to fight against the Empire.  Unlike most people, who I’ve seen trying to believe they were headed for execution for some silly crime or political purpose, I like to believe ole John here was about to get what he deserved.  But he escaped, and like any fleeing death row inmate, he’s chosen to fight against the country that nearly, and rightly, put him to death in the first place.  Rejected by the Nords because he’s an Imperial, rejected by the Imperials because he’s a savage criminal, he’s started a new life in Skyrim, lying and manipulating people into believing he might just be a good guy.  I started him out trying to be a fighter with heavy armor, but as of now he’s 100% mage.  He also, from time to time, impersonates members of other guilds, makes mad Madoff-style money, and as of yet never breaks the law.  It looks like Mr. Sylvester may have found an OK life, rising through the ranks of a country that hates him because of his race.  It’s a tearjerker story of perseverance and overcoming hardships, except for the fact that he’s really just an awful person underneath it all.

Who, me?

And so last night, after a day of fighting skeletons in some dungeon somewhere, stealing tons of stuff to later fence, I retired in the middle of nowhere to figure out my next move.  The sun set over the river in the distance, John’s eyes bloodshot and wide as the skooma flowed through his veins, and he sat to rest.  I had tons of quests to do, but felt like moving off the beaten path for a while to see what might be out there on that border between Morrowind and Skyrim.  So I stumbled upon someone’s farm, robbed them blind, got chased for about a mile, and ran into a dragon.  I let the dragon kill that dirtbag and then I killed the dragon.  All was right in the world, and karma was good.  Well, except that I was trying oh so hard not to break the law.  Oh well, tomorrow will be a new day.

Oh, and you can totally eat antlers, too

It is this sense of exploration that makes Skyrim so great.  The idea, and underlying truth behind it, that you really don’t know what you’ll find if you just head off in a random direction makes this game enormous in terms of possibility.  Those random explorations, more often than not, lead to storylines, which lead you to new places, which progress the game in such unusual ways that you’re sucked in, addicted, and denying you have a problem before you even know it.  It almost ruins other games for me in terms of just how little content they offer in comparison.  I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to write about Skyrim in the future if for no other reason than its consumed my mind, and every day I want to get home for just one more hit.  And if I can’t be playing it, I might as well be writing about it.  Let me know about your characters in the comments below!

October 10, 2011

The Geography of The Elder Scrolls


This, my friends, is Tamriel.  It is the continent upon which the events in all the Elder Scrolls games take place, including the upcoming Skyrim.  Lets take a look back through the games and their lore, and see what information we can glean, in order to be better equipped to kick some dragon ass come November.

The dark brown area in the north is Skyrim, where all the events of the upcoming game will take place.  Its going to be very mountainous and cold from what I can tell, and it is the area that the Nords call home.  But of course, Skyrim is not created in a vacuum, and there are tons of games that predate it and have worked to weave a good bit of interesting lore.  I won’t detail hardly any of that here, but what I would like to explore is which regions on Tamriel have been used before in prior games and which regions have yet to be touched in this world.  (Tamriel is merely a continent on the Planet Nirn, which has other continents as well, including Atmora, Yokuda, Akavir, and Pyandonea, none of which have any of the games so far been set in.)

This is the entire map of Nirn

The first game in the Elder Scrolls series goes by the terribly off-putting name, The Elder Scrolls:  Arena.  Originally intended to be just an arena fighting game, development eventually evolved into an early iteration of what we know today, an RPG game where you can go anywhere and do anything.  This game did not specify which province you could go to, and thus you could concievably go to any province you liked.  However, the terrain and settings were all randomly generated, so that here you are in Skyrim, in The Elder Scrolls: Arena:

It was 1994, give them a break

The next game in the series was The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.  Daggerfall is the name of the capitol of the region High Rock, which you can see in the map of Tamriel above (its in the top left).  This land is mainly populated by the Bretons, the race I chose to play Oblivion with.  And thus this second installment takes place almost exclusively within High Rock, though you will travel to Hammerfell as well.  High Rock is mostly comprised of coastal cities near the shores, especially towards Hammerfell, and hilly plains with ruined castles and villages towards the mountainous boundary with Skyrim.

Daggerfall was notoriously buggy, and The Elder Scrolls games proceeded onto the next two titles, more focused on linear adventure gaming, and to some (including myself) they are not cannon.  These were Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire and Elder Scrolls Adventure: Redguard.  

But by 2002 the next true installment in The Elder Scrolls series was released, titled The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.  Morrowind takes place in none other than the province of Morrowind, which can be seen at the top right of Tamriel.  Morrowind is far different than most other regions of Tamriel, featuring a blackened sky from the eruptions of the Vvardenfell volcano, centered upon the island in Morrowind.  This area is home to the Dark Elves, and the setting is full of oversized mushrooms and large insect-like creatures.  This is the game that got me heavily involved in the Elder Scrolls series of games due to its sheer scope and graphical achievements.  Its unique aura gave me a feeling that is hard to explain, and I would love to see a title return us to Morrowind some day.  A future title could even boast a fully explorable Tamriel (not like Arena did, but like this newer gen could accomplish).  But that’s speculation.  Here is what Morrowind looked like:

Morrowind would also be my last forray into PC gaming, and thereafter I would be experiencing The Elder Scrolls through console.  In 2006, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released.  Oblivion, despite the name, did not take place in Oblivion.  No, that is simply a plane of existence, something like Hell I suppose, that is threatening the plane of mortals, in which Tamriel exists.  True, you do travel to Oblivion in the game, but the majority of the game is set in the province of Cyrodiil.  Cyrodiil is the very large central province in Tamriel as you can see above.  It is home to the Imperial race and is the capital province of Tamriel.  As is easily observed, Cyrodiil is substantially larger than Skyrim, so it is yet to be known if the map size will be smaller in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or if there will be larger cities, more detailed villiages, and less ‘waste’ space, i.e. using more in less space, thus giving us more to do per square foot.  That is yet to be seen, but what can be seen is what Cyrodiil looked like, and it is as thus:

And Skyrim will be released on 11/11/11.  It will, of course, take place in the province of Skyrim, which Bethesda has just verified today by providing the map below.  Being northern, and seeing how the Nords, who inhabit it, have a resistance to cold, it is fairly obvious this will be a very arctic climate.  Furthermore, because the mountainous boundaries of Cyrodiil, High Rock, and Morrowind they shared with Skyrim have all been high and snow capped, we can expect some simply beautiful environments.  And if that’s not got you excited enough, it appears that Skyrim is the province where dragons are native to.  And so in a few short month’s, we’ll finally be able to explore Tamriel’s most northern and unexplored province yet!  And click here for a larger, more detailed map of Skyrim!