Level 45. 58 hours. This is my Skyrim experience expressed in two lonely numbers. It also marks the point in time at which I discovered I'd unnecessarily gimped myself, denied myself one of the game's finest delights. I'd heard friends speak in reverent tones about a particular "power" and its hilarious, physics-perverting properties, while I stared, dumbfounded and confused. Were we playing the same game? Had I broken something and missed out on this most magical of abilities? As it turns out, no, it was nothing like this. I was, to put it simply, an idiot possessed.
Note: This post contains mild Skyrim spoilers!
Although I've yet to finish the game, I thoroughly enjoyed my 58 hours of robbing lower-level entities in Skyrim. Placing buckets on the heads of storekeepers and stealing all their wares. Abusing the "grab" action to walk expensive reagents, scrolls and silverware right out of a shop, before hiding behind a barrel and gleefully pocketing my illegitimate bounty.
I may have also completed a few quests and slain some dragons, but none of that compares to my career as the most light-fingered, pilfer-happy Dragonborn to ever walk the northern reaches of Tamriel.
I was the Breton from Bag End, the human-cum-hobbit. No object was too precious for me not to have a go at relieving its gilded owner of its burden.
So taken was I by my single-minded objective to cure Skyrim of its disease of affluence, to rid it of its pesky, shiny valuables, I totally, utterly and unconditionally missed the best part of the game, a part that, compared to my ever-growing inventory of gems, jewels and miscellaneous ingots, was solely my own, if rather intangible.
Somehow, I managed to knock over the quest that releases dragons upon the world, yet effortlessly bypassed the next mountain-themed sojourn in the chain. In hindsight, I was terrified of getting caught up in the main quest line, only to have the game end prematurely and so, from an early point, avoided anything remotely related to destinies, prophecies and dragons.
But anything worth more than a copper? Mine.
In terms of shouts, Ice Form had been my workhorse. Playing a Breton spellcaster, being able to freeze my opponents in place while I whittled away their health using a combination of mace torture and shocks of static electricity built up by my endless circling of their prostrate bodies was, as far as I was concerned, a top strategy.
So you can imagine my surprise -- well, the surprise of my Skyrim-playing friends -- when I mentioned how pathetic the supposedly mighty "Fus Ro Dah" was. Was I mad? Had I lost my marbles? Did I have a split-personality disorder I only revealed when alone or in the company of other hobbits?
It was none of these.
The conversation moves to the Dragon Rising quest line and again, my blank face is all I can contribute to the discussion. It is then (well, once I got back home) that I take a wander up ye-olde Seven Thousand Steps and discover, mournfully, what I've been missing out on.
(This itself is another story of one man's geas-like fascination with scaling impassable, almost vertical terrain when a steadily-sloping -- if bear-filled -- path awaits just metres away).
The absolute saddest chapter to this story, a personal shame if you will, is that in addition to having not seen the game through, I haven't mastered the full strength of Fus Ro Dah and can only appreciate its awesomeness vicariously through YouTube clips.
If there's a moral to this story, other than the wisdom of exposing a delicate aspect of one's gaming past that can now be toyed with by all and sundry, is that a great game can still be enjoyed even if you miss out on what is, arguably, its most delicious component.
To this day, I've never felt compelled to just do what is required to get Ro Dah'd up and scream my way to a good time, which is a testament to the excellent job Bethesda did crafting a world where even a low-life, thieving monster such as myself who takes unbridled pleasure in destroying honest, high-fantasy businesses can still have a whale of a time.
Gollum images: Movies Wallpapers