The Skyrim’s the Limit

If you’re like me — and I really hope you aren’t, because one of me is enough — then you’re thinking about what kind of character you’ll make in Skyrim. Maybe you’ll go for a light-footed wood elf, or maybe a rough-and-tumble nord, or maybe a versatile dark elf.

(Here’s a style tip, BTW, if you ever write for me: Racial names, along with class names, are not to be capitalized. Exceptions might be made if the name is part of a proper name, like “American” or “Vulcan,” but nobody ever refers to us as “the Human race.”)

Whenever I create a character in a single-player RPG, I try to come up with at least a meager background for that character and “sort of” roleplay him or her. Some games, like the Mass Effect series (and, to a lesser extent, anything by BioWare), make this easier by offering character creation choices that develop your character before you even play him or her. My Commander Laila Shepherd is a tough-as-nails girl who’s more interested in getting the job done than in making friends along the way — or even keeping those friends alive, as Wrex found out after I put a bullet in him. +25 Renegade Points!

For a game with a little less structure, like an Elder Scrolls game, I still at least come up with a basic personality for my characters, sometimes related to their class. For my first Oblivion character, I made a nord paladin, a class of my own making but based on the typical paladin archetype, and figured him to be a classically good fellow trying to right wrongs, save the oppressed, and all that jazz. Imagine his dismay upon being turned into a vampire! At first, it didn’t seem so bad, but as his condition worsened and he had to assault sleeping people at night just to keep from being incinerated in daylight, he realized it was time to seek the cure. That globe-spanning quest seemed all the more epic for my notion of his being a sort of “fallen champion” looking to redeem himself. When he finally succeeded in the epic quest line, he retired to his big house in Skingrad, having outgrown his tiny place in Bruma — after all, a conquering champion needs a suitably impressive home.

My first Morrowind character, by contrast, was a breton nightblade. He reveled in attacking from the shadows, using a blend of stealth and magic to achieve whatever goals he set out for himself — and they usually weren’t about rescuing puppies. When that pilgrim outside Ald’ruhn wanted an escort to the temple, he put up with her for a little while, but once he got her away from civilization, he just killed her and took the money she had promised him in payment. My biggest disappointment with the game? It was teased in some of the writings that it might be possible to assume Dagoth Ur’s powers instead of just defeating him, and that was something I desperately wanted to achieve for such a power-hungry character, but alas, he had to make himself content with just slaying the great evil and fulfilling the Nerevarine prophecy — which he then exploited relentlessly, laughing behind people’s backs as they praised him as their “savior.” Suffice to say, his was a very different path from that of my Oblivion character.

Khajiit has no words for you

I rarely play a “pure stealth” character in such games, and I’ve never played a khajiit for any significant time in a TES title, which is why I’ve decided that my first Skyrim character will be a khajiit thief, with few skills beyond breaking and entering and a little swordplay. Since I like collecting books, I’ve decided that, somehow, he (or she… I haven’t decided yet) is a former slave who was taught to read by his/her master. That master took him/her to Skyrim where he met with an untimely end. Forced to be self-sufficient, our hero(ine) fell back on his/her second-story skills, got caught, and wound up in a cold, dark prison cell — which is how every Elder Scrolls game starts, and I expect this one to be no different. In general, my thief is not an evil character, just a little self-serving and probably a touch lonely. I expect him/her to try to make friends with half of Skryim and rob the other half blind. And maybe I can backstab a dragon.

What kind of character are you planning to play in Skyrim? And what’s his or her backstory?

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