Skyrim, Roleplaying and You – What it Means to Roleplay in Skyrim (Part 2)
In the first part of this series of articles I went over some tips and tricks that are useful for enjoyable and efficient roleplay while in the land of Skyrim. If you haven’t read part one I would highly recommend doing so before venturing forth into part two as it will give some basic roleplaying ideas unique to Skyrim.
In today’s article I’d like to go over some more generalized tips for roleplaying which are useful in not just The Elder Scrolls, but other games as well. It is good to understand that roleplaying as a base concept does not change from game to game. The same basic principles apply to any new land you venture into and can make or break your experience and reputation as a roleplayer depending on where you choose to become a part of on your adventures.
The first thing you need to realise is that while the principles of roleplaying are the same in every game, the execution and methods differ greatly. The reason I say this is because one fantasy game may not fit into the same category as another. To use some examples, Dragon Age is very different from The Elder Scrolls. The lore is different. The setting is different. Everything is different, same for the parent genre which is high/dark fantasy RPG. A human in DA is not a human in TES. The same can be said for the elves of DA and the elves of TES. These races are fundamentally the same but their origins, their very being is different because of the universe in which they call home.
If you’re looking to have a lore-friendly and purist experience in any one game you have to conform to that game’s universe and the laws that bind it. You cannot jump into Skyrim and create an elf character who came from “far away lands” and who claims to be Dalish (similar to TES’ wood elves) but is clearly a high elf from Summerset Isles. You simply cannot cross-reference when roleplaying as it makes absolutely no sense. Try explaining to people on the TES forums that this is your character’s background and that somehow it fits into everything. It doesn’t and it can’t. Now, I’m not telling you how to play your character but it simply makes the whole experience less fun as a whole if you play the game this way.
I have fallen victim to the cross-universe character before myself. My main character I used in Oblivion was a vampire who had been somehow transported to this reality from the “World of Darkness” reality and had been stuck there for over 600 years. It worked because I barely ever made any mention that he wasn’t of that universe, I just built upon his otherworldly experiences and went with it. It only worked for me because I took him and made him conform to the laws of the TES universe. I still do this, to this day, as he is a unique and fascinating character I have grown to love in a way, not out of some sick fantasy, but as if he was my own child. In Skyrim, I use this character but I’ve completely redone his history for TES. He no longer came from somewhere else, he simply always has been a part of Tamriel.
At the end of the day though it really is good to try to come up with something new and fresh. Don’t try to bend Nirn to your will, just go with the flow and become a part of it.
Some other good habits for healthy roleplaying sessions are to sit back and take everything in. One way to keep yourself in check is to once in a while force your character to do something they never would. It keeps you on your toes and allows for deeper character development. You character doesn’t have to always be a warrior. What if one day he decides he is done with bloodshed and picks up a book for the first time in his life and finds a new calling? This warrior, this taker of many lives, this force to be reckoned with just had an epiphany. He’s found a new calling! He decided to put down his sword. He unstraps his armor and sits down at his dusty old desk and picks up a quill. He becomes the greatest scribe the world has ever seen.
One thing to always remind yourself of is that things change. The world around your character does not stay the same, at least not in his mind. We know that life can change at the drop of the hat in real life. Why does this not apply in a fantasy world? It’s inevitable that things around you change even if you do nothing. This is because there are forces at work that aren’t you which are making things change. Try to remember this as you play your character. Try to remember this when you’re standing atop a mountain, level 59, legendary armor and weapons adorning your body. Remember that your character’s life is not over when he has accomplished everything he could on his chosen path.
There are always more ways to keep things going, but if you play your cards right you may never have to face retirement. You could play the same character for 500+ hours and still never get bored! It just takes some careful planning and some conformity to make it happen.
That’s it for part two! In part three I will be going over multi-class characters in roleplay situations, mods and roleplaying and the “Dead Is Dead” play style. Thanks for reading!