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Skyrim, Roleplaying and You – What it Means to Roleplay in Skyrim (Part 1)

December 3, 2011 in Gameplay, Skyrim Roleplay, Skyrim Tips

What it Means to Roleplay in Skyrim

If you visit the official general forums for Skyrim or have browsed the Lore section of the official forums you will know that roleplaying happens in TES (The Elder Scrolls) games. What many people sometimes don’t understand is that Skyrim is not just an action/fantasy sim but it is, at it’s very core, a roleplaying game (RPG).

One thing to note is that while the game is perfect for roleplaying, it may strike some people as odd that a person can essentially play with him/herself. “How would one go about roleplaying in Skyrim?” you ask… It’s simple! Just follow these simple rules and take in some of my personal favorite tips for roleplaying in any game.

The first thing you need to understand is that it takes a certain mindset to begin roleplaying a character, in any game. You will need to first make sure you have no pre-existing expectations for your roleplaying experience. A good roleplayer takes what he or she is given and uses that to their advantage. This goes hand in hand with researching and testing the game and figuring out it’s mechanics. These mechanics will aid you as tools to fulfill your every roleplaying fantasy. It is important to note the amount of cool things to do in Skyrim and I will lay out a couple activities for you below:

  • Mining ore; great as a profession or a supplement for blacksmithing which brings me to…
  • Blacksmithing; be the greatest smith in all of Skyrim!
  • Hunting; always a classic way to provide for your character both nutritionally and financially; also a supplemental job that is useful for smiths…
  • Farming (to a degree); help around farms, harvest crops, grind up wheat for flower…
  • Woodcutting; be the best lumberjack Tamriel has ever seen! (protip: if you bring wood to the innkeeper in Whiterun she will pay you for it; 70 or so firewood makes around 400 gold)

These are just a few of the things you can take on as a simple and honest profession. These jobs will help provide funds so you can get back to adventuring and provide a way to deeply immerse yourself in the simpler things the game has to offer.

Another way to help you get into the right mindset is music. Music is a big player for me in any roleplaying scenario. It is the easiest way to get in the mood and makes an otherwise normal fantasy experience a more personal one. Some good genres to get into Skyrim are:

  • Symphonic/orchestral music. There are many orchestra groups who do perfect fantasy music and some simple Google searches will net you some good results.
  • Heavy Metal/all subgenres. Skyrim is cold and mountainous. It is a breathtaking and epic place and what better than to listen to some breathtaking and epic music! Some personal favorite bands include: Avantasia, Devin Townsend, Falconer, Hammerfall, Kalmah, Masterplan, and Nightwish.

These are just personal suggestions for a better experience while playing. Music is always a personal preference though so whatever gets you in that mood to dive into a high fantasy scenario is just as practical.

Getting in the mood and having the right mindset for roleplaying is one thing but, one of the best ways to get more involved in the story before you begin a roleplaying session is doing some research into the lore of the TES series. Browsing the official BGS forums you will find many discussions on lore in all TES time frames and can get a general sense of what has occurred, what is occurring and what may occur in the future. Lore is a good way to make a realistic background for your character. It is good to know the history of any factions or groups your character may join as well as his racial heritage and where he or she came from.

It is always good to do some research before you get into the meat of the experience. You wouldn’t want to be playing a High Elf who you vaguely think came from Valenwood, rather than Summerset Isles for no apparent reason other than you liked Valenwood and think he would be the type to mingle with Bosmer and somehow relocate to Skyrim to join the Thalmor. Lore-wise that would be a very bad background for said character. A more realistic and lore-friendly background might look something like this:

As a child the High Elf (Altmer), known as Averyn, was brought on a ship with his parents to Valenwood. He was to see firsthand what his parents did for a living and be taught their ways and hopefully become a Thalmor agent. However, as Averyn grew more mature he saw the strife and hardships of his Bosmeri cousins and made a decision to join them to fight against the tyranny of his people and more importantly his parents. After many years spent in the woods with the Bosmer, he was betrayed and used as a way to get back at their masters. Breaking free from what he thought was his home and family, and hearing of the Thalmor presence in Skyrim, Averyn decided to travel north in the hopes of following in his parents footsteps and fulfilling their wishes. He now serves as a Thalmor agent and has begun a campaign to personally exterminate not only all human races, but every single Bosmer he sees.

Now, that was just a quick (and probably not the greatest) example of a lore-friendly background. This can work with any race, but also note that any race can follow any path. An orcish warrior who joined the Imperial Legion can end up being a Thalmor pawn. A khajiit who prided himself on being the swiftest assassin in Tamriel can turn out to be a hero, crusading for his fellow merchants. It really just needs to be lore-friendly. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure it makes sense and meshes with the lore. This will make your experience that much better.

And that, my friends, concludes part one of this series. In part two I will discuss things like general roleplaying rules, good habits for healthy roleplaying sessions, and knowing what you want out of the experience.

Part two is now live! Continue reading this guide with: Skyrim, Roleplaying and You – What it Means to Roleplay in Skyrim (Part 2)

4 responses to Skyrim, Roleplaying and You – What it Means to Roleplay in Skyrim (Part 1)

  1. I’ve never been a huge fan of Roleplay and never even thought about how it can completely change your attitude towards the game and the experiences you have.

    What you’ve said has literally opened a whole approach towards the way in which I think I’ll play the game now – I’ll take time to read, to see and to create my own character which will actually make sense and have a background that fits in with the rest of the lore.

    You’ve gotten me pretty excited, can’t wait to read part two! =)

  2. I’ve just started to roleplay today on my second character. My first was a Khajiit mage which I had made just to test out what I liked and didn’t like. Of course I love this character but never drew a story for him or anything like that. Now I have started to write my characters story (why he was crossing the border and such) and develop him. I’ve decided on an archer/hunter who worships Hircine, Daedric Prince of the Hunt. I will also make him a werewolf. Thanks for the tips and happy roleplaying!

  3. My current character is a woodcutter, working in Riverwood. He does some hunting now and then – selling what he finds to The Riverwood Trader. Once he gets enough gold, he’ll be moving to one of the main Cities to try and make his way in life!

    Love the article!

  4. Interesting concept. My character I have named Yngvald Maulhand, a decendent of Manheim Maulhand of The Inn of Ill Omen fame. I’ve been playing around with the idea for a while, and now am creating a family tree type thing that shows the link to Manheim etc. My character is roughly 45/46yo so just in the age to have gotten involved in the arse end of the great war, ergo his(my) intense dislike and distrust of elves (he’s a Nord btw obv).

    Another thing I would be interested in is going through all the historical books in the game(s) back to Arena to create a more indepth tome of the histories and lore of TES. anyway, I like the site. :D

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