I’ve been playing a game called The Elder Scrolls; Skyrim recently. I’ve played it before, started quite a few run throughs. Finished only a couple–but, I’m sure I missed quite a few quests. The game is very big and very popular. It’s a fantasy game with dragons, elves, orcs, jarls, trolls, werewolves, and vampires. I thoroughly enjoy it.
I’m always a khajit (cat-folk person) when I play the game. My favorite way to play is as the ever popular stealth archer. I’m always a werewolf, because I hate vampires, and I always die the most by falling off something (it doesn’t matter the game. If it’s free-roaming, I’m going to die by fall damage…a lot).
This particular playthrough, I’m enjoying the moral dilemmas in the game. Skyrim has the opportunity for you to obtain some pretty powerful items, but to get them you have to do some things you would never do in the real world.
For instance, one quest that didn’t sit right with me was given to me by a priest who looked after the dead in one of the cities. He claims he’s been finding bite marks in them. Human bite marks. When you investigate, you meet a leader of a group of cannibals. I followed the instructions of the quest to complete it. You end up helping the cannibal clear zombies out of their lair for the exchange for them leaving the bodies the priest looks after alone. I try to keep my character neutral in all things. She doesn’t take one side or the other because she’s a khajit, and khajit are looked down on in the game. So, when this cannibal leader just wanted their lair cleared out, I thought “fine. I’m still getting the priest’s quest done. Cannibals aren’t going to dishonor the dead anymore.”
Then, the cannibal leader pushed too far.
In celebration for getting their lair cleared, the leader wanted to throw a feast. Not just any feast. A cannibalistic feast, and she wanted the priest to be the main course.
At this point, the game doesn’t give you an option. You have to go get the priest or you have an unfinished quest sitting in your inventory. So, I went and got the guy just to see what would happen. I brought him to the cannibal lair and there were a lot more cannibals then just the leader. They were all sitting at this long table, waiting for the feast to commence. The cannibal leader walks up to you as you arrive and entices the priest to join them for a meal. This is where my stomach curled. The leader easily convinces the priest to lay down on this table for nap like they had some sort of spell on him. Once he’s asleep, the leader turns to me, the player, and says I should be the one to carve the turkey for the feast.
Several alarms went off in my head at this point.
To finish the quest, you have to kill the guy. You have to become a cannibal and doing so gives you a ring that can be beneficial in tight spots in the game. I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. You can’t just walk out, because the cannibals would kill the priest anyway. I may be a werewolf, but when I maul someone as a werewolf, they’re always fighting back. Not laying on a table unaware they’re about to become dinner. Killing this priest and becoming a cannibal was definitely something I didn’t want, and its a good thing I don’t care about achievements.
I turned the blade the cannibals wanted me to use on the priest on the cannibals. I was outnumbered. There was magical fire, arrows, steel, and curses flying throughout the feasting room. The chaos lasted only a few seconds and all the cannibals laid dead on the floor. I received the notification that I failed the quest, but the priest woke up.
Like anyone would be, he was frightened after what happened and appreciative. He gave me a lump sum of gold for saving his life. Honestly, I prefer that over a ring I’ll never use. He heads off to return to the city and I let him go. Because I’m a greedy, little thief, I start looting the cannibal bodies, and I realize something else disturbing.
All the cannibals have names. In Skyrim, if a character has a name, they typically have a purpose, and when I start rummaging through their pockets, I start realizing their purposes.
They’re citizens of the city the priest is from.
One is a stable worker. Another is a shopkeeper I bartered with. In one form or another, they’re regular people you wouldn’t expect to be a cannibal. It was a chilling thought.
This is the stuff I’m enjoying through my most recent playthrough. The moral dilemmas, the grey areas, and the right vs. wrong choices. Yeah, I’m failing some quests and not getting the special artifacts, but I know I’m not going to use a lot of these artifacts and I’m more proud of the fact that I ended the cannibal plague on a city or spared the werewolf or stayed true to the friends my character’s made along the way.
If you ever find yourself playing Skyrim, I dare you to look beyond the quest instructions and make your own choices. You might surprise yourself by the actions you take.