Skyrim is big. Very big. It is a living world, with many thriving denizens, cultures, and stories. There is so much content to be had in The Elder Scrolls V that even veterans may miss some of it on their second or third play throughs. I for one have played Skyrim for 400+ hours, with multiple play throughs, and still haven’t seen all there is to be seen.

Bethesda has an amazing way of soaking every bit of content in their games with meaning. I love the way in which seemingly easily understood actions of good and evil are blurred when you understand the deep lore of the Elder Scrolls series. Or a seemingly abandoned quest line creates a wellspring of fan speculation.

So, I would like to explore some of the more interesting things that may have slipped past your exploration of Skyrim. Some are cute little easter eggs, or nods important people in gaming. While others are pretty dark and twisted explorations of human nature, or existential meditations on the nature of choice and existence.

This is gonna be a lore heavy undertaking at times, so stay with me. But The Elder Scrolls’ best aspect is the depth in which the wider lore can take you. I’m sure you will come away from this list with a better understand and appreciation of the world Bethesda created for us.

25 Ulfric May Not Be Who He Seems...

via: vg247.com

When Ulfric Stormcloak was a young man, he was chosen to become a Greybeard. Over ten years of training, he developed proficiency with The Voice. However, the Great War between the Empire and the Thalmor’s Aldmeri Dominion broke out, and Ulfric left the Greybeards to fight for the Empire.

Things get weird when you examine the Thalmor dossier on Ulfric. In it, he is referred to as an “asset” that has “proven his worth.” Something is afoot...

The use of the word asset leads to three theories. One: Ulfric was intentionally set free to incite a civil war, making Skyrim easier to conquer. Two: The Thalmor used magic to create a ‘Manchurian Candidate’ out of Ulfric, who would undermine the empire. Third: Ulfric is actually actively in league with the Thalmor.

All seem plausible, but it does put into question the actual intent and consequences of the Stormcloak rebellion.

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24 A Demon, A Dagger, And A Parallel Universe

via: suhowk.blogspot.com

Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric Prince of Destruction, Change, and Ambition. He is also the big baddie in Oblivion. In Skyrim, there is a quest where you can acquire a dagger called Mehrunes Razor.

During the quest, Pieces of the Past, you can find a series of books called the “Mythic Dawn Commentaries” which outline the creation of Mehrunes Dagon. It says that Dagon was created in depths of Lyg by the Magna Ge. So what is Lyg?

Lyg was created when Nirn was folded up, and Tamriel left an imprint in Nirn, creating Lyg, which is an alternate-universe version of Tamriel. Rumours have it that Lyg is a dark and twisted place. Always in twilight. It is also said that Lyg often reaches out to consume parts of Tamriel; in which places, objects, or even people end up.

Perhaps this has something to do with Skyrim’s bizarre psychedelically creepy “dead body cleanup room.”

23 What Could Have Been...

via: YouTube.com(MrMattyPlays)

As some of you may have been aware, Target supposedly leaked the idea that Bethesda was making a Game of Thrones open world game. These rumours were later proven to be a hoax. However, at one point in time, a Bethesda led project set in Westeros was almost a thing.

Elder Scrolls director, Todd Howard, has confirmed that Bethesda was offered to make an adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s popular fantasy series. They would decline, preferring to develop another project, in what would become Skyrim.

A couple of factors prevented this from happening. This was well before HBO’s version of Game of Thrones was developed, so the potential for making easy bank was not there. Also, Howard felt weird working on another person’s vision, preferring to stick to their own IPs. Which is highly respectable. Though I do wonder what a Skyrim would look like with a Westerosi paint job… Modders?

22 Damn… I Have A Skyrim Lecture With Dr. Battle-Born At 3:00

via: rice.edu / pinterest.com

As an advocate for alternate learning methods, this next thing is still a little weird, even for me. The Department of English at the Rice University in Houston, Texas had a course that used Skyrim as a study tool.

Back in 2012, for one semester only, Rice University offered Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim. To be fair, this doesn’t seem like a gimmick, the concepts seem well thought out. The professors of the course had two goals: “first, it introduces students to fantasy as both psychological concept and driving force in gamer culture; and second, using these paradigms, it considers how and why medieval Scandinavia serves as a locus of modern Anglo-American fantasy.” (Neogaf.com)

This is a really cool idea seeing that Scandinavian culture is the main influence for Skyrim’s race of Nords. I just hope students realize that dragons, vampires, or draugrs aren’t roaming around Stockholm late at night.

21 Are Your Deeds In Skyrim Ultimately Evil?

via: YouTube.com(MrRhexx)

Paarthurnax muses with the Dragonborn that “perhaps this work is simply the Egg of the next Kalpa? … Would you stop the next world from being born?” Interesting, but what is a Kalpa?

Time is cyclic in the Elder Scrolls, and one of these cycles are called Kalpas. Alduin is known as “The World Eater.” It is his purpose to end, or consume, the current Kalpa and bring about the next. Thus Alduin’s actions could be understood as a natural process of death and rebirth, and not necessarily evil.

However, the Alduin of the current Kalpa is a failure. Rather than bring about a new rebirth, Alduin chose to subjugate and dominate. Is the Dragonborn saving the world from an indefinite subjugation? Or are your actions ultimately evil as you are preventing the infinite possibilities of the next Kalpa?

It’s hard to say, but it sure adds ambiguity to what seems to be a clear cut good versus evil story.

20 So The Sky Is Leaking Magic?

via: nexusmods.com

Upon completion of the quest line at the College of Winterhold, you are aware of the Staff and Eye of Magnus. I always wondered: who is Magnus anyways?

Magnus is the God of Magic and responsible for the creation of Nrrn—the mortal realm. Magnus and a few other gods were deceived by Lorkhan—the trickster god of the Elder Scrolls—to create the mortal plane, and were severely weakened in the process.

When Lorkhan’s treachery was discovered, Magnus fled to the realm of magic, Aethereus. This torn a hole between Nirn and Oblivion. This hole is the sun, Nirn’s primary source of magic. The lesser gods followed Magnus, tearing smaller holes in Oblivion, these are known as the stars. While the origins of the Eye of Magnus are still unknown, the Staff is certainly an artifact created by Manus himself.

19 Murder For Potions

via: nexusmods.com

You got a hankering for some potions, but not enough patience to grind out your Alchemy skill? Well, I got just the thing for you. The Silver Hand, who are werewolf hunters, believe that Lycanthropy (werewolfism), is a disease. So every Silver Hand foot soldier you meet, is carrying a Potion of Cure Disease.

This potion is pretty handy as it cures all diseases. So if you in the market for curing disease, just roll up on a Silver Hand camp, and start swinging that battleaxe!

And don’t feel bad. All of the Silver Hand members are hostile. They attack you on sight like a bunch of jerks. So it’s more like self-defense instead of armed robbery and murder. Yeah… you had to do it… You had no choice…

18 A Not So Useful Scavenger Hunt

via: YouTube.com(LaunchMinecraft)

Still can’t get enough those free potions? Head on over to Solitude, put on your platforming shoes, and get ready to… spend a stupid amount of time jumping through hoops.

If you look carefully, you will find potions of healing all over the town. Behind walls, between rocks, on top of ramparts, everywhere. They seem to be intentionally hard to reach, so some have suspected that they could be part of a unimplemented Dark Brotherhood quest line. While that is certainly a possibility, I like to think that this was the result of a trolling Bethesda developer.

“Maybe I will toss a random potion on top of this spire, that can only be seen at 4 PM. Let’s see them make a YouTube video about that!”

17 A Challenger Approaches

via: reddit.com

This quest is only known by the most dedicate Skyrim vets. After crushing hundreds—if not thousands—of bandits, draugr, and skeletons under foot. And you finally achieve level 80, you are approached by a mysterious man.

Upon entering any of the major cities, you are approached by the Ebony Warrior. As his name gives away, he is clad entirely in enchanted Black Ebony armour. From his cryptic speech, he seems to be a seasoned warrior and is looking for someone who can finally send him to Sovngarde.

He asks you to meet him at the Last Vigil, which is deep in the Southeastern mountains, behind Riften. Once there you are in for one of the hardest fights in the game. The Warrior hits like a truck, is heavily armoured, and can shout just like the Dragonborn.

This fight has a lot in common with the Dark Link encounter in The Ocarina of Time. You are your own worst enemy after all.

16 You Got Yourself A Strange Architect There

via: reddit.com

You ever wonder why the College of Winterhold looks the way it does? The concentric circles, and the oddly placed towers, seems like a purpose more than aesthetics is being served here.

There is a book known as the Oghma Infinium, which is a Daedric artifact. This book is the possession of the Daedric Prince, Hermaeus Mora, the Prince of memory and knowledge. There is a certain page in the book (seen above) that has a sigil, which looks strikingly similar to the architecture of the College of Winterhold.

Now it is hard to say what this means. Coincidence? Or is the college associated with a Daedric prince? Mages are a cloistered bunch, and often hold their cards close to their chest. One may never know, but it is fun to speculate.

15 The Lying Cat

via: shadowoftheskylark.blogspot.ca

“M’aiq knows much, tells some. M’aiq knows many things others do not.”

M’aiq the Liar is an interesting Khajiit. He has appeared in The Elder Scrolls Online, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. This would make M’aiq well over 1000 years old.

In Morrowind, he chats you up about a sentient mudcrab who is also a merchant. Best deals in Morrowind I hear. During the Oblivion Crisis, he can be found running from town to town. So fast, that some suggested that he was hopped up on skooma. And in Skyrim, he seems to be a more stable character, speaking of the events of the Dragonborn in a more rational way. He also tells the Dragonborn that, “M'aiq's father was also called M'aiq. As was M'aiq's father's father. At least, that is what his father said.

So who is M’aiq? A crazy immortal Khajiit, or series of descendants who are victims to uncreative naming conventions?

14 Parents Who Are All In

via: nexusmod.com

As part of the huge marketing campaign to promote Skyrim, Bethesda offered the parents of any babies born on November 11, 2011 (11-11-11) a little something, something. In addition, to being born on 11-11-11, the parents had to name their child Dovahkiin. In return, that family will receive free Bethesda games for life.

Now I love Skyrim. LOVE IT. But come on. That’s a huge commitment. And for what? A couple hundred dollars in free games?

But I guess your child’s name is Dragonborn. So that is kinda badass. Either that will make him a pariah, or the coolest kid on the block. Here’s hoping you don’t develop a complex little buddy.

13 Am I Hearing Things?

via: knownpeople.net

You ever been wandering through Dragonsreach and hear the Jarl of Whiterun speaking, and you think to yourself: “Is that Tigger?” Or perhaps you are handing in another quest to the Dark Brotherhood, and you go down to the lair’s dungeon to go chew the fat with Festus Krex. “Doesn’t he sound like Christopher Robin?” Of course, you didn’t that would be silly… Or would it.

Yet again, Skyrim reveals just how small the voice acting community is. Jim Cummings voices many characters from Disney films to many other video games. He has done Fallout 4, Star Wars: Rebels, even Shrek. But what I find most amusing is that Cummings voices Winnie the Pooh.

Now every time, I hear Festus Krex drop some deplorable thing about murdering his wife, or flaying some random passerby, I will always think about that mischievous diabetic bear. Oh, bother.

12 A Pantheon For Developers

via: elderscrolls.wikia_.com

I like when video game developers acknowledge game creators of the past, and Skyrim does a good job of honouring their predecessors. The names of the Pantheon of the Divines are based on developers from the Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.

Julianos is named after Julian Lefay, “the father of the Elder Scrolls.” Dibella was named after Mary-Jo Dibella. The best reference was for Akatosh, who was named after Lawrence Sadowski, who signed his online posts with “Also known as the Old Smaug himself.” If you put all the first letters of that salutation in order, it spells Akatosh. This is pretty damn clever seeing that Akatosh is a dragon, just like Smaug… Pretty damn clever indeed.

11 Not Just Another Pair Of Pretty Orbs In The Sky

via: tarnvogl.deviantart.com

Skyrim is indeed a beautiful game. So like me, you’ve probably spent a lot of time looking at the breathtaking night sky of Nirn. Masser and Secunda, Nirn’s two moons, dominate the evening sky.

As with all things in Elder Scrolls lore, these moons have a supernatural origin. Masser and Secunda are actually Lorkhan, who was split in two upon his execution. It is said that the pair is supposed to represent Lorkhan’s two faced nature.

The Khajiit not only worship the moons, but the forms they take at birth, are based on the phases of the moon. This has lead to 13 different variants of the Khajiit species. Boom! A bonus thing that you didn’t know.

10 Don’t Lose Your Head

via: taringa.net

You recall that toe tapper you often hear in Skyrim’s pub? “Oh, there once was a hero named Ragnar the Red, Who came riding to Whiterun from ole Rorikstead.”

The song speaks of Ragnar as a boastful chap who annoyed the crap out of those around him, and drank all the mead. Eventually, he was challenged by a woman named Matilda who has enough is this nonsense. And so the song ends “when his ugly red head rolled around on the floor!”

What is interesting is that a ghostly headless horseman can be seen riding through Skyrim at night. If you follow him, he leads you to the town of Rorikstead.

So what’s the lesson here? Not all the ladies like to hear about the time you fought 40 guys with a feather duster.

9 Keep It On The DL

via: davkxj6.deviantart.com

The Companions are an interesting faction. They are de facto Fighters Guild of Skyrim, but what’s more interesting is that many of their members are werewolves. But if you have done any Companion quests, their werewolf secret, isn’t so secret. However, the relationship between Aela and Skjor is.

Members of the Companions suspect that Aela and Skjor are in a relationship. They are both rumoured to go off hunting together in the middle of the night.

Unfortunately, Skjor is killed on a quest by the Silver Hand—werewolf hunters. Because he died as a werewolf, Skjor’s soul is said to dwell in the Daedric realm of Hircine. As such, Aela is the only member of the Companions who doesn’t want to be cured of her lycanthropy. She wants to die a Lycan, so she may return to her lover in the afterlife.

Such tragedy and beauty on the margins is what I love about this game.

8 Hidden Enemies

via: dorkly.com

Skyrim is full of secrets, so it comes as no surprise that Bethesda has hidden a couple of secret boss fights in unexpected places.

The first fight can be found in the depths of the Dwemer city of Blackreach. You will come across a large lantern in the middle of a wide cavern. Shout Unrelenting Force at it, and Vulthuryol will come screaming fire and death upon your unsuspecting head.

The second is The Reaper. He can be found in a building in the Soul Cairn in the Dawnguard DLC. Just collect the gem fragments and place them on the altar to summon him.

The final boss is Karstaag, and can be found in the Dragonborn DLC. He can be found in the Castle Karstaag Ruins. All you need to do is place his skull on the through and voilà. Be warned, homeboy is level 90 and resistant to almost all elements. So bring a lunch.

7 Bethesda Has A Money Printer

via: rebrn.com

Nintendo really has the console market locked. So much so that 23 of the 25 all-time best selling console games are Nintendo. Only GTA 5 and Skyrim are that company. Now the success of Skyrim is no big secret, but just how successful might surprise you.

The game released on in November of 2011, selling seven million copies in its first week. To date, Skyrim has sold over 30 million units across all consoles, and that’s not even counting the DLC content… Wow. This makes Skyrim the most popular RPG of all time.

Must be nice to have a Cash-o-Matic to fund extended vacations… Yeah, that’s a not so thinly disguised dig at Bethesda’s development schedule. Quit being the George R. R. Martin of gaming and paper maché that money into The Elder Scrolls VI!

6 Narcos In Skyrim

via: reddit.com / 8list.ph

Skooma is the main narcotic in the Elder Scrolls universe, and is a major part of the Khajiit trade out of Elsweyr. A Khajiit trade caravan can make an appearance at your wedding if you marry the trader Ysolda. But why would a reputable trader be personally involved with a race many other Nords despise?

Well, this is because Ysolda is not only a trader in Whiterun, but also a clandestine narcotics trader. Sweet little Ysolda is hardcore drug dealer, who would have thought?

It’s funny to think, that a little private wedding in Skyrim could have a Godfather kinda feel. Complete with groups of Narco-Khajiit paying their respects to their important business partner.

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