When last seen, he looked like he was done for. Gregethor, the scene-stealing bearded shopkeeper from the enormously successful parody Skyrim 2012, was getting blasted in the stomach by his own Staff of Lightning. It appeared to be a fatal blow. I was so distraught I re-rolled a Breton in Gregethor's honor.
Well, the Grosjean Brothers, the twins who star in, wrote and produced Skyrim 2012, have good news. Gregethor is returning in their next episode, among many other big plans they have now that Justin Grosjean has graduated from Michigan State's film studies program and can put a lot more time on what was already a well-made project.
"There's something about Gregethor that makes you smile," Justin Grosjean told me. "We talked about killing him off because people loved him so much, they care more."
Portrayed by the Grosjeans' high school friend Greg Davis, Gregethor embodies many of the quirks and limitations of interactions in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where a homeowner will discover an intruder and simply—but still firmly—ask him to leave. The robbery of a disgruntled, cigarette-smoking courier (played with perfect deadpan by Matt Smith) was hilariously familiar to Skyrim fans.
"I happen to be an absurdly obsessed video game man," Davis told Kotaku, "and Skyrim was already many hours underway before this project came to my attention." So his pitch-perfect impersonation of the sleazy merchant Belethor, encountered early in Whiterun, comes from a great deal of exposure to the game. Davis, a student in music education at Oakland University, has been involved in theater and the performing arts in some form since second grade, rounding out the foundation of his performance.
"Seeing my likeness next to Belethor was thoroughly entertaining. I have always wanted to meet my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great," he says, stealing a joke from Skyrim 2012, "grandfather."
Neither he nor the Grosjeans say how Gregethor will return, but it's one feature of an elaborate sequel project they kicked off earlier this week. "We want this episode to be much grander and to blow people's socks off," Justin said. They're hiring on more actors to bring more characters to their reimagining of Skyrim, which looks a lot like their home of Clarkston, Mich.
A dragon character is the biggest ambition. They've picked out a voice actor from Justin's class, but need to give the thing a head. Designing that will take some time and effort, so the brothers are trying to raise $5,000 to deliver the fourth episode of project that's already gathered more than 3 million views on YouTube.
They've made other videos, but Skyrim 2012 is far and away the biggest hit. A full cut of all three episodes has been entered at the Phoenix Comic-Con Film Festival later this month. (The Grosjeans will be attending.)
"I think the reason that Skyrim 2012 was so well received is because it captures a world that is beloved by many and portrays it in a setting where people can not only relate to it on a personal but also relate the the rich world Bethesda created," Justin said. "I think it's easy for fans to enjoy because it's a joke that only they and the Bethesda community are in on."
That may be selling its appeal a little short. Davis—with his striking blond beard and looks he does not mind if you compared to Jeff Bridges'—said he's been recognized around Clarkston as much as he has been on Oakland's campus. "The best part of having played Gregethor has been getting recognized by people in everyday encounters," Davis said.
And if Davis and his fans are glad he's coming back, well, so are the Grosjeans. "He's so willing to commit to any line you give him, it was hard sometimes not to laugh on the set," Justin said.
"We knew deep down we were bringing Gregethor back," he said. "He's just too awesome."
Hints of what's coming next for Skyrim may be buried in the latest patch for Bethesda's hit action/RPG.
In the lore of The Elder Scrolls V, the Snow Elves have been driven underground by the Nords. But the in-game legends about the mystical race make it sound like they're former badasses who've been laid low and are ripe for revenge.
Enthusiast site RipTen brings word of a BethSoft forum user's discovery of files related to the animation of a Snow Elf character and a crossbow weapon:
You're still playing Skyrim. With content from the game's Creation Kit making the game more weird and grand on a daily basis, why wouldn't you be? But maybe you're a bit tired of how all your finishing blows looks the same. Worry no more, Dovahkiin!
The 1.5 update's live on Steam now and will include new kill cams for melee, ranged and magic and a slew of other features and fixes. Bethesda says that PS3 and Xbox 360 owners will get the update soon. For a full list of changes and fixes, go here.
I play Skyrim obsessively, like lots of people. I'm also a full-time antiquarian book dealer and during my glorious attempts to become a leather-clad death machine in The Elder Scrolls V, I'm always tempted to make some in-game coin on the side collecting and selling the hundreds of available antiquarian titles. Books such as Advances in Lock-picking or Dwemer Inquiries Vol. III offer both arcane and practical lore to thereader as well as deep context for the game's developed history, technology and culture.
But, I am bamboozled at every turn by what is essentially a completely unrealistic book market based on ridiculous assessments of value. While items such as staffs, swords, armour, and jewels fetch a premium price on the secondhand market (500-2000 gold usually), books, for some reason, no matter how scarce they are, top at a measly 100 coins. This is ridiculous. It is simply not possible to make a decent living as a bookseller in Skyrim, despite all my systematic and professional attempts.
My argument is based on two major points: rarity and demand. In our world, these are the factors that fundamentally determine a book's value. How scarce is it and how many people want it? It makes no sense to me at all how a merchant would only give me 50 coin for a title so rare there's only one copy of it in all of Tamriel. If I need to penetrate the bowels of the earth through some death-trapped dungeon and hack through legions of the walking dead to find that book, shouldn't it be worth a little more?
Take Fragment: On Artaeum, for example. It is required reading in a quest where you have to stop the influence of an unearthed, potentially cataclysmic magical Eye. You even have to fight a ticked-off rogue Altmer mage named The Called to get your hands on it (the rare edition, that is). You put your life on the line! Nevertheless, this book only fetches a paltry 45 gold on the secondhand market, despite its central role in saving the land. Well, it just doesn't add up does it?
Now, admittedly, booksellers are notorious spendthrifts when it comes to purchase price. And the game is very accurate in portraying its booksellers as grumbly overbearing cranks. The truth is, despite long afternoons lost in the lore of ages, it is very hard to make a real living as an antiquarian dealer. They're sour for a reason. Many folks who take the plunge into this apparent dream job find this out very quickly. Still, it is possible to make a go of it, as a truly rare item can fetch a glorious sum.
… Only 50 coin for a title so rare there's only one copy of it in all of Tamriel?
This simply isn't true in Skyrim. Even a world where books figure far more centrally than in ours, a land where messages are still sent though couriers on foot (there are no phones, no Internet) and essential knowledge still needs to be kept safe in big monastic castles against the ravages of time (not to mention the mould encouraging environments of old keeps and crypts) you often can't make more than 15-30 or so gold per title.
Considering that a decent house in the game costs 5000 gold, not to mention the 1500 you have to drop outfitting it, you would have to buy and sell 216 titles, scattered willy-nilly all across the land, and fight numerous Dragur, Icewraiths, and Saber Cats to get them, and most certainly die a broken and hungry bookseller. Maybe that's why there are so few full-time people in the game trying. There are numerous grocers and blacksmiths, but only a handful of booksellers, despite a glut of material and occult demand. Still, their shops have so little inventory that I can't see how they possibly could be making a living without selling something illegal on the side.
I feel that this is an unacceptable blind spot that needs to be addressed. When so much thought goes into the minutiae of a sword's magical abilities, a Tolkienesque Middle Ages fantasy where mysterious knowledge is required to survive needs a much more functional antiquarian book market. And I'm not even going into the fact that there seems to be only one printing press in all of Tamriel producing these things. These problems aren't a deal-breaker, however, because I've easily clock 100 plus hours into this game and don't seem to be stopping. But, just like in the real world, I would like the poor bookseller to get their due.
If you pay attention to ads, you know there are subliminal messages. Even if you don't, your brain picks up on them. Typically, these messages are sex-related, but not always. Blogger Copyranter, who's apparently been an ad copywriter for 18 years, sure notices them.
On a post titled "Today's Blowjob Ad", Copyranter pointed this this poster, which is part of a new UK campaign for Nvidia's GeForce GPUs. The ad agency is supposedly London's Alecoppe.
The top advert features an image from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
The ads have the tag, "The Most Realistic Ever" and are designed to contrast game realism with the back of some player's head. According to Copyranter, the second ad in the series, featuring a sumo wrestler, is less "blowjobby".
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Guardian Stones give players special abilities. One stone can be activated at a time, and if you've played the game, you will be familiar with them.
These powers these stone offer exist only in Skyrim. The stones themselves seem to have a real-life counterpart.
Kotaku reader Brian, spotted this sea front monument in the Irish town Bundoran.
"The area is one of Ireland's primo surfing areas, with surfers from all around the world coming to the small town of Bundoran on the west coast of Ireland," wrote Brian, who blurred out his lady's face for privacy. "So I can only imagine that this is in fact the Surfer Stone giving users the power of Atlantic Wave Tamer!"
The work of artist Brendan McGloin, the stone sculpture dates from 2000 and is named Carraige na Nean, (Rock of the Birds). It may not be a real Guardian Stone, and it may not even be Skyrim's inspiration, but it's close to the real thing. Well, minus things like quick Magicka regeneration.