PC Gamer
steam top sellers

Valve did a sneaky, small-but-significant thing recently: it expanded its "Top Sellers" list on Steam to include one hundred games. The sales leaderboard doesn't tell us exactly how many copies a game sold, but it gives us a vague idea of how well certain games are doing on Steam in a given moment.

It's an inherently misleading metric—take that as a disclaimer. Still, as we sit in the shadow of some of 2012's biggest releases, I'd like to take a crack at gleaning what we can from this moment in time.

2K's having a great end of the year.
The $50 pre-sale of XCOM is outselling everything but Borderlands 2 on Steam. We might be able to chalk that up to fairly generous pre-purchase incentives (which could include a free copy of Civ 5 if enough people pre-buy it). It might be mild evidence that demos still work, too. Borderlands 2's high concurrent user count over the past few days (reaching 123,758 last weekend) is also evidence that 2K will win the weeks connecting September and October on Steam.

Digital pre-orders are a thing.
XCOM isn't the only thing-you-can-buy-but-can't-play-yet doing well. Joining the unreleased are Dishonored at #7, War of the Roses at #12, Football Manager 2013 at #17, Company of Heroes 2 at #29, and Hitman Absolution at #51. Even though there's no chance of a game going out of stock, Steam users don't seem to mind putting money down in advance, especially if they're rewarded with bonus content or a small discount for doing so.

Where are the MMOs? Oh, right.
Zero MMOs appear in today's top 100. I might consider that unsurprising—we wouldn't expect too many people to be picking up competitors while Guild Wars 2 and Pandaria are drawing the attention, and neither are available on Steam. Still, it's a little surprising not to see RIFT ($10) or EVE Online: Inferno ($20) popping up anywhere.

Call of Duty remains a PC fixture.
The sense that Call of Duty remains a fixture for PC gamers is supported by SteamGraph data. Some form of Call of Duty make up 10 whole entries of the Steam's top 100. Many of those are map packs, but the performance of Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition (#41) is interesting to me. It released yesterday, September 27, and it's outperforming stuff like Civ V: GOTY and Natural Selection 2. Modern Warfare 3 is 50% off until October 1, and it's sitting comfortably at #5.

DayZ continues to have a long tail.
I don't think Arma 2: Combined Operations (what you need to play DayZ) has left the top ten of Steam's Top Sellers since it caught on in May and June. It seems to be outperforming other games that released in May and June like Sins: Rebellion (#56), Max Payne 3 (#76), Civ 5: Gods & Kings (#20), and Spec Ops: The Line (unlisted).



Below: the data, captured at 6:05 PM PDT. Ctrl + Fing encouraged.



Top Ten
Borderlands 2
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Total War Master Collection
Torchlight II
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Carrier Command: Gaea Mission
Dishonored
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Arma 2: Combined Operations
Empire: Total War



#11-25
Castle Crashers
War of the Roses
Borderlands 2 Season Pass
FTL: Faster Than Light
Cortex Command
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Football Manager 2013
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard
Garry's Mod
Sid Meier's Civilization V - Gods 'n Kings
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition
The Binding of Isaac
Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy
Left 4 Dead 2
Hell Year! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit



#26-50
F1 2012
Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
Rome: Total War - Gold
Company of Heroes 2
Total War Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai
Sid Meier's Civilization V
Counter-Strike: Source
Borderlands: Game of the Year
Worms Revolution
Total War Mega Pack
Terraria
The Walking Dead
Rocksmith
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 3: Chaos Pack
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition
Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
Portal 2
McPixel
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year
Total War: SHOGUN 2
The Sims 3
Counter-Strike Complete
Hearts of Iron 3 Collection
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition



#51-100
Hitman: Absolution
Borderlands
Train Simulator 2013
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
Medieval II Gold
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Orcs Must Die! 2 - Family Ties Booster Pack
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The Amazing Spider-Man
Orcs Must Die! 2
Saints Row: The Third
Dead Island: GOTY
Natural Selection 2
Orcs Must Die! 2 - Complete Pack
Half-Life 2
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Rome: Total War - Complete
The Orange Box
Borderlands 2 + Official Brady Guide
Batman: Arkham City GOTY
Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead
Grand Theft Auto IV
Endless Space
Killing Floor
Call of Duty: World at War
Max Payne 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
SPORE
I Am Alive
Fallout 3: GOTY
Fallen Enchantress
Valve Complete Pack
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
Mount & Blade: Warband
New Star Soccer 5
Portal Bundle
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 2
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Expansion
Counter-Strike
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 3 Collection 1
Arma 2
Might & Magic Heroes VI - Danse Macabre Adventure Pack
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD
STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Planets Under Attack
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Age of Empires III: Complete Collection

Reiterating: We don't know what formula or data drives Steam's Top Sellers rankings. It's probably safest to consider them a representation of what games are selling well in one moment of time on Steam.
PC Gamer
Far Cry 3 screenshots 01


Shooters traditionally espouse linearity in their design, favoring tightly controlled sequences of lulls and action as players progress to the next room/ruined room/room-like battle. Open world shooters such as Far Cry 3 dispense direction for player freedom, but skirting boredom or uber-tough enemies still presents a challenge. At the Eurogamer Expo, Far Cry 3 lead designer Jamie Keen said his team took "huge inspiration" from open world successes such as the Elder Scrolls series for keeping interest levels high.

"We've had to take a little bit of a different approach to most shooters," Keen said. "In order to keep a player engaged over a period of time, there are certain other genres we have to look into to keep that engagement. So we've been looking at things like MMOs and other open world titles. The Elder Scrolls series is a huge inspiration for us along with games like Red Dead and other Rockstar games."

Keen also revealed over 250 "encounter types" exist in Far Cry 3 as players explore. Encounters won't constantly recycle either, as Keen said the game tracks your experiences and attempts to throw some new island madness your way whenever possible.

"We don't want you to feel like, 'Oh, it's this encounter again. I've seen this one'," Keen added. "You know, 'Arrow to the knee,' for example. While it's actually quite cool, we don't necessarily want that. You end up with this real feeling of diversity of things going on. And you will see the same encounter again, but hopefully there's enough of them that you won't remember it, probably."
PC Gamer
Skyrim Diary 7 - Cover


This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I'm in: I passed my initiation, got my official armour, sold my official armour, and am now an enlisted soldier of the Imperial Legion. In a dress.

More importantly, I still haven't broken my rule: no direct violence, only illusion spells. Hiring a lackey has solved the one problem I couldn't work around: killing quest-critical targets when there's no-one left to turn against them.

My next assignment is to retrieve an artifact called the Jagged Crown, and my commanding officer Legate Rikke is going to meet me at the fort with a team. Before I head out, I visit Solitude's court wizard to buy some spells: Courage, to buff and revive my allies; Calm, because people need to chill the hell out; and Muffle, not because my footsteps need muffling, but because I want something to repeatedly cast on myself to level up my Illusion skill.

The Nord tomb of *clears throat* Korvanjund is on the other side of the country, but I'm not using fast travel. That's basically teleporting, and teleportation is not Illusion.

The natural first stop is the stables just outside Solitude. But after a lot of awkwardly jostling amongst their horses, I can't seem to find a safe spot to steal one. And I certainly can't afford to buy. So we walk - while I repeatedly Muffle my feet.



Shortly after we emerge from the swamp outside Solitude, we see some steps leading up to a mountain temple, and a gang of people fighting on them. It seems like three bandits are all attacking one woman, so I try Calming them to even the odds. The two I hit immediately holster their weapons and amble about while the woman kills their friend. One by one, she kills them too. Hurray, my arbitrarily chosen side won!

The woman explains that her friend stole a sword from those bandits, and the bandits blamed her. My game-character brain interprets this as a quest: find the sword! Kill the bandits! Break some kind of curse? Rescue a guy maybe? Whatever, it's a dungeon, just go in.

Inside, inevitably, the bandits attack.

"You'll never leave Skyrim aliiiiive!" the first one screams, just before my Calm spell hits him. He stops mid-swing and looks at me, offended. "Hey! There's no need to use magic on me!" He walks off.

Belrand bashes the other bandit's head in, then stops. Out of politeness, I guess, he won't attack a Calm enemy. The three of us stand there awkwardly for a while, as the dead bandit's corpse slides slowly down some steps. Then the spell breaks, the calm bandit becomes enraged, and Belrand brings his mace down on him.



In the first chamber of this crypt, I find a note from the sword-thief explaining that he was trying to return it to the tomb: taking it had angered the Pale Lady. Anne Hathaway? Weird.

I also find an enormous battleaxe and give it to Belrand. He equips it eagrely.

The next group of bandits is a big one. I Calm any that come near me, and admire Belrand's style. He switches back to mace and shield to block an archer's arrows as he charges her and beats her to death, then brings out the axe to take on a swordsman. The guy blocks his swings again and again, but it's not enough: the sheer weight of the weapon just crumples him.

That's when the mages come in. Two of them come at us, lightning crackling from their hands. I try to Calm them down, but nothing happens - I'm unexpectedly out of juice. Shit! Lightning drains mana! I can't really do anything without mana.



I'm seriously low on health, completely out of mana, and trapped in an awkward corner with the lightning bandit bearing down on me. And then something weird happens.

Next Thursday: The Pale Lady
PC Gamer
Dawnguard review thumb


You there! How would you like to transform into a vampire lord? You get this fine set of flightless leathery wings, you can throw balls of red magic at people to leech some of their life, and you can summon a pet gargoyle! All for the low low price of I bite you in the neck and it gets kinda weird for a while but then I stop again.

The alternative, in Dawnguard, is to join the Dawnguard, who hunt vampires with crossbows and tame trolls. The vampiric option is a bit more exotic, but both sides seem pretty exciting, don’t they? And it’s Skyrim! It’s already amazing! About the only way this could be a let down is if both questlines steered you awkwardly into the same brain-numbingly dry prophecy guff and it crashed constantly!

So, er, the bad news first: that. Despite being presented with a choice between two factions with literally opposite objectives, both routes end up sending you on mostly the same errands, to achieve the same thing, and stop the same enemy. Which wouldn’t be so disappointing if it was a twisty, juicy, interesting plot. When it’s visiting a series of shrines to fill an urn with sacred water – as a floating genocidal vampire lord – it’s tough to enjoy



It’s also unbelievably shoddy. The very first quest marker you get is completely wrong, leading to tedious minutes trying to climb a mountain that has nothing at the top. Half the characters keep repeating their greetings on a maddening loop, then cut their plot-critical lines short after a few words, omitting essential information. When I first got the ability to turn into a vampire lord, actually doing so caused every vampire in the vampire mansion to attack me for being a vampire. The worst kind of racists.

Vampire Lord mode, while an excellent phrase, is generally problematic. Entering it disables essential functions like the map, first-person mode, the ability to interact with quest-critical objects, and even the ability to bring up the magic menu to select the ‘turn back into a human’ option. Instead you have to fumble around to discover your favourites menu has secretly been replaced with a new one, and it’s one of the skills on there.

I’m playing with no mods installed, and Dawnguard regularly crashes to desktop. On one PC that runs Skyrimperfectly, it crashes consistently at the same point in Dawnguard, rendering it uncompletable. Even after a patch, it’s still buggy.



It’s tough, because Dawnguard takes you to some beautiful places. They have all the visual drama of Skyrim’s most spectacular views: a lonely rope bridge over a heart-stopping ice chasm, a secret glade filled with amber light, a winding path leading out of an underground mushroom forest and into the blinding white cloud of a mountaintop. Exploring these has a real sense of adventure, and that’s Dawnguard’s biggest strength.

But because they’re sprinkled across disconnected islands, caves and alternate realms, you never get the sense of a whole new land to explore. The Elder Scrolls community is already churning out gorgeous new places like this, not to mention new abilities.

The things Bethesda can potentially do better are story and quality assurance, both of which they bungle spectacularly here. There’s fun stuff in Dawnguard, but £14 ought to buy you something a hell of a lot more polished.

When originally published this review carried a score of 69, instead of the 59 that appeared in the magazine. This was an error and has since been corrected.
PC Gamer
Skywind towers


And so it was foretold. Once every generation there shall be a new Elder Scrolls game, and it shall be in an updated engine. And a band of heroes every generation shall take on a great quest: to convert Morrowind into that engine. This time round, the Skywind project shall heed the call, bringing Morrowind's combat, characters and environments to the latest version of Bethesda's Creation Engine.

Modder, Eloth, has been posting some lovely early shots of the project in the Morroblivion forums. It's still a work in progress, but the mod already has already captured the giant mushrooms and weird architecture that makes Morrowind so strange and memorable. Check out the videos and screenshots below for an early look.

Eloth also helped out with the Morroblivion project, which ported Morrowind into the Oblivion engine. Skywind is a team effort, though, and that team are currently on the lookout for volunteers to help speed things up. Visit the Skywind development forum for more details.

There are also plans to port Oblivion into the Skyrim engine as part of the mod, as you'll see in the video of the Imperial City below. This is, of course, excellent news, because then we can start calling it "Skyblivionwind."























PC Gamer
Skyrim Diary part snowy - Main


I'm playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception - which makes my current task tricky. Before I can join the Imperial Guard, I have to clear out a fort full of bandits. I've finally lured the toughest of them to his death at the hands of a passing archer on the road to Solitude, but there are lots more left alive.

Back at the fort, I have the same problem. I barge into the keep, use my Fury spell to trick the guy with the battleaxe into killing all his friends, then hit a brick wall. He won't follow me out, and no-one will follow me in, so I'm left with one very angry man I can't kill.

There's one more segment to the keep. Inside, I Fury two bandits, get backed into a corner, then jump over a table to escape them. Downstairs, a woman with a mace and a shield comes at me, so I Fury her too and duck into a cell. As they cluster to get at me, they realise they all have closer targets they're equally angry at, and fight amongst themselves.



The woman destroys them, batting them away like flies. I slip out while she's finishing the last one off with an overhead smash, and get back outside.

Even if there's some secret tunnel that connects these two wings of the fort, my problem is the same: one will be left standing. I need more options. I need to go back to town.

It's not far, but I still manage to get lost and take a strange non-path over the mountains. I pass a small herd of goats, and decide to Fury them for practice. They all charge me. Then gobs of venom starting splashing into me, and I realise there are two giant spiders hiding in the trees. I Fury more goats and stumble awkwardly down a steep slope to get away.

Back in Solitude, I visit the Winking Skeever tavern to see if the bartender can sell me any illusion spells - less unlikely in Skyrim than it might sound. He does not. But in the corner, sitting at a table by himself, is a hoary old warrior type. It finally hits me: can't you hire people?

You can. But hiring Belrand, who announces himself to be a spell-sword, costs twice as much money as I have. I do have a couple of gold tiaras I inexplicably found on the bandits I tricked into killing each other, but even after selling those I'm a little short. As someone who doesn't wear armour or weapons, the only other valuable possessions I have are health potions, which I sort of need.

On the other hand, there are an awful lot of health potions lying around this inn. You can't sell stolen property to reputable vendors in Skyrim, but I wouldn't have to: once I've stolen all of his, I could sell the inkeeper mine.

It's laughably easy: most of them are on shelves in empty rooms, and even out in the open, there are only four people in the whole joint. I nab almost as much in coin purses as I net from selling my potions, and pretty soon I can hire Belrand with change. It's not magic, but the old fashioned switcheroo should be in every illusionist's repetoire. Belrand and I set off into the mountains.



He's a nice enough chap: he looks like John Malkovich pushing his face through a mop. He keeps calling me 'elf' derisively, then asking if there's anything he can do for me. It's going to be a weird relationship.

When we get to the fort, I check he's close behind and walk into the battleaxe bandit's building. He charges at me. Belrand takes one swipe at his neck and he collapses, axe clattering on the stone. Awesome. Next!

Mace lady is a tougher nut: she has a shield, and she's keenly interested in attacking me instead of Belrand. I actually have to Fury her to persuade her that we're equally tempting targets, and she and Belrand trade dozens of expertly blocked blows. I am thoroughly entertained.



Mace lady is better at it, thanks to the shield, but just as she gets into her stride, Belrand throws up a dazzling white dome of light. She doesn't seem to know what to do about it, and while she flounders, Belrand cuts her down with a rapid flurry of slashes. She actually surrenders, but Belrand just slays her on her knees. Well, I guess that's what I paid for.

More to the point, I've done it: all the bandits are dead, I didn't break any of my rules, and my initiation for the Imperial Legion is finally complete.

Before we go, I pick up the mace and shield and give them to Belrand. "Something for me? Can I keep it?" he asks, then laughs. "Just kidding!" Go ahead, man, you nearly died getting hold of them.



Back in Solitude, after much fanfare and oath-swearing, I'm told to collect my new uniform from the blacksmith. He presents me with an immaculate set of Imperial Steel armour. I sell it back to him for 140 gold.

Next Thursday: The Pale Sword
PC Gamer
Skyrim Dawnguard cropped


Bethesda's Vice President of PR Pete Hines recently spoke with GamesIndustry.biz about the lessons Bethesda has learned about how to earn both fan satisfaction and money, an especially critical component for The Elder Scrolls Online's business model.

"You can look at something like Horse Armor pack as an example," Hines says. "The reaction to Horse Armor wasn't just about price. It was more of a lesson: when you're going to ask somebody to pay X, do they feel like they're getting Y in exchange? If they don't feel like they're getting their money's worth, they're going to bitch."

Bluntness aside, Hines' thoughts seem like a sensible take on the public's reaction to common controversies like day-one DLC.

"It's not about the amount of money," he states. "It's about giving players really good value for what you're making them pay for. That's not an Elder Scrolls specific philosophy; I think that's a philosophy for us across everything, whether it's a game or DLC or an MMO or whatever. We have to make sure we're providing enough quality for what you're paying for, whatever you're paying for, so that the customer feels satisfied enough to declare, 'I got good value for my money.'"

Check out GamesIndustry's report for the full interview.
PC Gamer
unrealtourney


Epic Games frontman Cliff Bleszinski conducted a crowdsourced interview with Reddit over the weekend in the popular "Ask Me Anything" subreddit. A number of noteworthy responses cropped up regarding Bleszinski's thoughts on revisiting older IPs, modding's explosive popularity, and (though very definitely not announcing this) an open-world reboot of Unreal, among other answers. Check out a few choice quotes below:

On the potential for a Jazz Jackrabbit reboot:

"Not any time soon. We're (fortunate) slaves to our success here at Epic with great franchises like Gears of War and Infinity Blade. It seems like a risky bet: Could we see a 2D platform game return and really move that many units, or would it just be a cult hit?

"We make games as a labor of love, but we also try to weigh the choice of what we build based upon a solid understanding of the business. How could Jazz exist and flourish in this market? I don't know, honestly. One idea that George Broussard and I discussed years ago was to bring back Jazz as an FPS, Jumping Flash style. But yeah, we'll do that in our 'spare' time."

When are we getting a return to the PC FPS glory that was Unreal?

"It seems as if you're asking about two entirely different games. The first Unreal was more of a single player exploratory experience whereas Unreal Tournament was a multiplayer focused game with a 'ladder' for the single player. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

"I was quoted recently on a Fortnite panel about the first Unreal and what a reboot might look like. Having really grown into a big Bethesda fan lately (Skyrim rocked my world), I couldn't help but wonder what a reboot of Unreal would be like if it was more 'SciFi-Rim.' Sure, there would be shooting involved, but exploration would almost be more important. Get back to that sense of wonder that the first game had. (Caves and castles and crashed ships are basically your dungeon instances, whereas the 'overworld' is less intense.) Put it on a high-end PC, and prepare yourself for amazing visuals never before seen in real time.

"As far as a new UT, it's hard to say. Shooters and their sequels are a tricky beast. Often you wind up upsetting your core whenever you make a sequel because sometimes you change things the users didn't want changed, or the users are so very in love with their memory of the original game that there's nothing you can do to live up to the first game. This happened with Counter-Strike: Source, Quake 2, Unreal Tournament 2003, and heck, even Halo 2. All that said, I do personally believe that Unreal Tournament 3 suffered a bit from an identity crisis in regards to whether or not it was a PC or console game.

"So if, when? I don't know, honestly. We're understaffed right now for all of the projects we've got going on, so I can't say if or when it may happen. I do love that IP, and I do hope to return to Na Pali some day.

"P.S.: The delta between the current crop of consoles and a high end PC is incredibly obvious now. Looking at Hawken at PAX versus the other console games and this difference is startling. FYI, Fortnite is a PC-first game."



If there's one current trend (DLC, pre-order exclusives, etc.) you could change in the game industry, what would it be and why?

"I'd make sure there's still a place for survival-horror games to exist and floursh. There have been a few that have come back (Amnesia comes to mind), but by and large the genre has almost vanished. Fatal Frame 2 and Silent Hill 2 are two of my favorite games of all time.

"I believe that one of the main factors for this is the blockbuster-hit driven nature of the business that we have in a disc-based market. You're either Call of Duty, Skyrim, or Gears, or it seems like you're a 'campaign rental' or a used game. When we get to a digitally delivered world, I'd wager that there will be room for, say, a 20 dollar short and fun and scary experience to emerge."

What do you think of DayZ, and as a successful game designer, do you consider the success of games like DayZ, Minecraft, and Kerbal Space Program changing the way you think about gamers and how to design for them?

"I haven't had a chance to play DayZ myself, but I've seen the viral videos. That mod is a prime example of my theory stating, 'Bugs notwithstanding, there's a direct correlation between how cool your game is and how many interesting YouTube videos it can yield.' I loved the 'Never trust anyone in DayZ, especially if they have a helicopter' video. Pure gold.

"So, put the survival and social aspects aside for a second and step back and consider that we're in a world where a mod like that can blow up thanks to the connected nature of the world in which we live. A handful of guys can now have a great idea for the next big thing and put it out and it can explode seemingly overnight! We had seen this before with mods like Counter-Strike, but it's only become more and more frequent lately.

"My wife and I were very hooked on Minecraft for months. It's brilliant, and I have a lot of respect for Notch and the crew at Mojang, and I find it thrilling that unique games like the aforementioned can flourish now."

You have unlimited funds and processing power. What film/novel/comic book would you make into a game?

"Firefly."
PC Gamer
final_head


Every day this week, we’ve been visiting a version of Skyrim unlike any you’ve ever seen before – a world thrown into anarchy and chaos by Sheogorath, God of Madness, and the assistance of over 200 blindly-installed mods. In our final part... civil war, huh? What is it good for? Social change!

Catch up on the adventure: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4



Saving the world. That seems like something a hero should probably consider at least trying. So, let's break it down. What are Skyrim's problems, in order of how much they need sorting out?

Well, that's easy. Bandits, Civil War, Dragons, Bards. Luckily, that last pesky issue was, after a little provocation, dealt with behind the scenes while visiting scenic Solitude back on Day 2.




Conveniently, it turns out being a hero just means saving slightly more people than would have been killed if you'd stayed at home eating cake.



And how many would you say that is so far, my Thane?



So I took out a line of credit. I'm the Dovahkiin. I'm allowed.


Bandits are a trickier problem, not least because they're far, far more active in this mod-infused version of Skyrim. You know when the guards complain that it's been too long since a bandit raid broke up the tedium of their existence? Now, I often arrive at towns to find a swam of bandits battering down the doors and fighting with the guards. It seems like a reasonably fair fight. As a Thane of Whiterun though, it seems fitting to try and tip that balance a little in favour of the good guys. Other cities will then hopefully pick up on it and implement their own changes and eradicate the menace forever.

Hence the big pile of armour from Madness. Could Compass and Lydia ever use it all themselves? No. Obviously not. Besides, they're already well geared for combat.

But if someone could raise some kind of 'militia'...




Good morning, prostitutes of this bath-house brothel thing I apparently own for some reason, and who have to obey my every order without question. What's got two thumbs and is about to totally abuse that? This gal!



Oh no. Oh, please tell me this isn't going where I think it's going. Please, my Thane! Just say the words! I need to hear you say the words!


But of course, it is. In regular Skyrim, you only get the one follower. Here, it turns out that I can recruit as many as I want - though it does cause some pretty heavy slowdown after a while. The brothel bath-house thing is the perfect recruiting ground, being full of potential Followers and with the option to hire more in. Plus, it's conveniently located just a short walk from town. The only tricky thing is recruiting enough people and persuading them to stop getting naked enough to put on some armour. Then, it's off to defend Whiterun from the bandit hordes. Or to be more accurate, to do the Skyrim equivalent of sheparding sheep to Whiterun so they can fight the bandit hordes.


Attention, brave sluts, for today you fight for glory and your Hold, but mostly my benefit! You are well equipped, and also I gave you weapons and armour! You woke this morning as mere male prostitutes! You die as... MEN OF WHORE!





My Thane, please reconsider... whatever this is!



Nonsense, it's awesome! I feel like a cult leader!



Well, one letter out 'aint bad.




It actually goes oddly well. There aren't any bandits at Whiterun immediately, but they show up after a couple of days. With their enchanted armour and mostly decent weapons, they carve through the bandits with only one friendly fatality. The guards don't offer any thanks, but they do get to keep breathing, and Whiterun is safe for another day. The obvious plan then - station these proud warriors in strategic locations and tell them to stand on alert. Ever vigilant and ready to-


Where the hell did my militia go?



I think they got bored and went back home for a naked bath, my Thane. Followers will do that kind of thing after a while. Not everyone is as loyal as a Housecarl.


Still, the basic idea seems to work - and the squad is combat efficient. Maybe the problem is scale. Why waste this kind of power on something the guards can more or less handle? They're often bailed out by mercenaries and travelling adventurers as it is. No. It's time to tackle a far deeper problem - the civil war between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks. But which side deserves these reinforcements?

A flip of a coin decides it's going to be the Imperials.



The Civil War is far more active than in the original game, with skirmishes both breaking out all over the map and several zones devoted to battle. These are often hilarious as both sides have Fus Ro Dah shouty powers and use them a lot. Much of the battle consists of soldiers throwing each other across the map, then running up to have a go themselves. And that's before monsters get involved.

The big fights take place in Warzones, and can be configured as easily as the average remote control - by summoning a devil to handle the details. There's a test area on the map called Mount Pain, and others hidden like any other point of interest. I've found a couple while exploring. With Fast Travel disabled though, it's going to be a long, long walk to get to the nearest one - just behind a new village called StirlingShire. Keeping everyone together on the walk there isn't a fun experience either.


Right. If we have to do this stupid thing, my soldier's honour demands we do it properly. Sound off, men - one, two. WE ARE TOUGH AND WE ARE MEAN!



EVERY WEEK WE'RE TESTED CLEAN!



WE SERVE OUR THANE, THOUGH IT MAKES NO SENSE.



WE'RE SWORN TO CARRY HER BURDENS.



Arriving at the warzone, there are a couple of skirmishes going on. I don't immediately engage, since I've never been into one of these before. Would everyone be automatically hostile? Would they be looking out for some kind of sign, or cloak, maybe? Actually, no. Everyone continues their fighting without giving us a second's notice, and everything is so laid back that there's even a giant watching it all with an expression that seems to suggest "I am way too big to give the tiniest shit about this."

Then things go... weird. Even by Skyrim's current standards.



There are some tents in the back, which we head for to see if there's anyone to sign up with or anything. Getting close though, they suddenly morph into a pride of lions. If you remember Day 1, you'll know you do not want to start fighting lions. Those things kill dinosaurs without breaking a sweat.

Then out of nowhere a dragon appears. All fighting breaks off as the Imperials and Stormcloaks collectively go "Aaargh! A dragon!" and start beating it up. Then the giant sees it and casually ambles over, smashing it in what looks like one hit. It explodes into fire and the energy of a dragon soul whooshes across the map. Then, as if this sudden rush of magical energy caught their attention, the lions all perk up and run across - attacking the giant and taking down it in seconds, obviously. So his mammoths go for revenge. The lions kill the mammoths and use their tusks as toothpicks

So far, not one single feline casualty. The biggest lion's health bar is barely dented.



THEN THEY SWARM EVERYTHING. Ten lions rip through the Stormcloaks and Imperials, never losing aggro. It's a massacre on both sides. We're talking one or two hits per soldier here - nothing stands a chance against the furry onslaught. And it's still coming! Another giant tries to help and is torn to pieces. Archers take a pop from a distance only to find teeth in their face almost immediately.




RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!



RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNING!


But running won't work! They're too fast, and worse, they pretty much never seem to stop chasing once they've got their hate on. Whether that intentional or just an accident of clashing mods, I have no idea. It doesn't matter. They're relentless, and right on top of our group. Lydia's lightsaber bounces off a lioness as a couple of the recruited squad hit the dirt. There's no way we're going to win this.

At least, not playing fair. But do I still have the Wabbajack spell...



Wabbajack. The scourge of Riften. The penis of the Madgod Sheogorath himself. With its power, you can obliterate whole cities - you just can't control what happens when you fire it. Normally, you shoot it at single targets. This version is a wave of pure chaos, rewriting reality wherever it passes.

The big lion resists it. It resists it. The chaos wave passes right through.



The lionesses, and a Stormcloak who got too close, aren't as lucky. He finds himself suddenly naked on the battlefield, while she explodes into a red mist that turns into a Giant. Things don't go well for him there. Around, the sky explodes into suffocating rain and armageddon red as the lions are temporarily distracted and we run like holy hell - looking to be anywhere but here. It seems like a plan.

Guess what's just over the hill! Yep. More lions!

In fact, lions are everywhere. The whole zone is infested with the damn things, and while these ones haven't spotted us yet, even my fast magicka recharge isn't enough to deal with the current ones. There is exactly one chance - one. I've seen before that lions don't like chasing into rivers - though whether that's a programmed AI thing or just seeing a pattern that's not there, I have no idea. Still, I dive out of the way, not having the second to check for followers. A mammoth in the way takes a Wabbajack in the face, just in case. I don't see what happens to it. I see a river, and the river is all that matters.

Will it provide safety though?

Yes. From lions, anyway. It has its own nasties, but the thing about those right now is that they're not lions. Lions are now the Enemy. Worse even than bards. Well, almost worse than bards. Let's not go nuts here. Following the river and making a break for it, I get out of the Warzone and back into what for Skyrim counts as safety, and make a note to never, ever do that again. Not here, anyway.




Squad! If you didn't sacrifice your lives to defend me during that escape, you're fired! Housecarl! Set these layabouts on fire and dump their lazy ashes over the next person who displeases me!



Housecarl?



...Lydia?




Yes, the downside of a world where everyone (except children) can die is that Followers are no exception. Lydia survived the wilds and Riften and bandit attacks, and all kinds of death mages and orcs that appeared out of nowhere while exploring... but everyone's luck runs out eventually.




Though your body was too much of a pain to drag back, and I just realised I never even asked what your surname was, know this. Of all the souls who have ever carried my burdens, yours was the most... sworn. And you will not die in vain.



Mostly because you already died in a lion.



Cheers for that by the way.


So, that could have gone better. But the Civil War still has to end. Right now.

If Warzones are too dangerous though, the only solution is to deal with the problem at its source. The Imperials are led by General Tulius in Solitude, and the Stormcloaks by Ulfric Stormcloak in Windhelm. With both factions decapitated, maybe there's some hope. Even assuming that they're as vulnerable as anyone else in Skyrim though, that's an assassination worthy of the Dark Brotherhood. One attack, and you're talking a lot of very hostile military types with big swords in your face.

If only there was a way to take out a whole faction and just walk away...




General. You look distracted. Did someone steal your sweetroll?



No, no. Nothing as important as that, I suppose. I was just thinking that of all the places in Skyrim we could be waging this war from, we had to get the one called "Castle Dour". Why couldn't we have had Castle Fluffy instead?



General Tulius! Ulfric Stormcloak was just found dead in his castle!



Dead? How can this be?



Nobody knows, sir! In unrelated news, this scary looking woman just walked right through our front door and into your top secret meeting! We really suck at being guards, sir! I have a wife and sick child and even I would fire me!





Good evening, gentlemen. Lady. My name is Compass, but you may call me 'my lord' if you prefer. This civil war has gone on long enough. You have six seconds to pack it, or I shall end it for you in six short words. Choose wisely.



How amusing. And what six magic words would those be, before I have you escorted to the dungeon for what will no doubt be a surprisingly short stay?





Say hello to my leetle friends...





AAAAARGH! THEY'RE EATING MY ARSE!



MY BLOOD! MY PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS BLOOD!



I HAVE NO IDEA WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS!



I'll see myself out then, I suppose.


True, just like wiping out the Thieves Guild, this isn't really something that has any obvious impact. But that's probably just because not everyone's got the message that the war is over. They'll figure it out in time, when they don't get any more orders. Or they'll all be destroyed by lions. Either works.

So. Bandits dealt with. Civil War essentially over. What else needs to be done here?




ALDUIN! You! Me! Right here, right now, dragon-time-god-I-lost-track-frankly boy. We'll fight on top of the world, for the fate of it. That's poetry, almost. The really clever stuff that doesn't even try to rhyme at all!



Please. Have you seen our poetry? It rhymes when you translate it into English.



It's not very good though. "Black wings in the cold / that when brothers wage war come unfurled." Come on. Tongue of the dragons or not, that scans like crap.



True. But Dovahkiin, I confess I had not expected you in my clutches so soon. I fear you may not find me so easy to dispatch with your pets as you had hoped. For your sake, I trust you have been practicing with the Dragonrend shout...



The what now?



The... the what? Dragonrend! The shout that sounds really awesome and terrifying, but really just makes me land and go "Buh?!" The most disappointing superweapon since the nuke in Command and Conquer! You know! Dragonrend!



Not ringing any bells. So, do I hit you with my sword or throw lightning at you, or what? Honestly, the idea of fighting a dragon was much more intimidating before I discovered a few town guards could beat you guys up.



I do not believe it. You summoned me here - with the console, no less - and you haven't even broken the back of the main quest? I hope at least you're in charge of all the Guilds - including that Hunters one I hear they've added.



Thieves. Unofficially. And they're all a bit dead at the moment for reasons almost certainly not related to a mysterious, yet amazing, jester in-





FOOLISH MORTAL! YOU DO NOT TRY TO SKIP TO THE END OF AN EPIC QUEST LIKE THIS! WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, MORROWIND? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE SLAVED AWAY TO BRING YOU ADVENTURE?



One to press the 'make game' button, another to bring them coffee?



I would burn you, Dovahkiin; I would chill your heart to frost. But no. You are unworthy of being blessed by my power. I have only one thing to say to you...



Suddenly I have a really bad feeling about-



FUS!



Now let's not be too hasty here!



RO!



You eat souls, right? I know where there's a tasty Housecarl going spare!



DAH!




Epilogue
The technical side of wreaking chaos

Over 200 mods were installed for this diary, not all of which were noticeable or worked together. Here's a selection of the ones whose effects came through, mostly stored on Skyrim Nexus. Others were downloaded in bulk from the Steam Workshop and a few other sources. There's a ton of stuff out there, from city redesigns to mechanics changes, goofy additions, new followers... in fact, pretty much everything except a mod to make public indecency a crime. Odd, that.

In many cases, the effects of them as seen in this diary will have been caused by conflicts and incompatibilities with other mods rather than being intentional design choices. As a reminder, they were neither checked to see if they worked together, not what they even did. Still, to hell with lions!

Apachii SkyHair - More detailed hair, most fitting the models' heads
Travellers of Skyrim - Fill the roads with wanderers
Monster Mod / Monster Wars - A more dangerous Skyrim, if you dare face it
WARZONES - Civil Unrest - Put the 'war' back into 'Civil War'
Live Another Life - A different way to start, as well as a way to skip the intro
CBBE Curvy - The female character model seen here. Find the sexy outfits yourself.
Imp's More Complex Needs - Hunger and thirst, taken to pretty intense levels
Frostfall - Make the harsh landscape actually harsh
SOS - Sounds Of Skyrim - New soundscapes for Skyrim's different area types
Hunting In Skyrim - A new guild and wandering NPCs
Divine Punishment - I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I AAARGH!
Reneer's Crime Overhaul - Makes the guards much less dopey
Uncle Sheo's Really Helpful Tips - Funnier loading screens, courtesy of Sheogorath
Prides Of Skyrim - LION! LIONS! LIONS!
Whiterun Water Park - A truly insane overhaul, just for kicks
Harley Quinn Suit - For all your Dovah-Quinn crime sprees
Nords Are Rude And Shout A Lot - Specifically, they shout FUS RO DAH!
Dibella's Beauty - Upgrades the NPCs with better Apachii hair
Bandit Raids - Gives guards something to do
Luxury Suite - Your own brothel/bathhouse to use and abuse
Descent Into Madness - A really cool, quirky new quest
Multiple Followers - Build an army, crush your PC
Wabbajack Unleashed - Disappointed with the weapon? Try this for size...

...or just browse its categories and the Steam Workshop. Steam is the easiest because everything is a one-click install and you can subscribe to whole playlists. It's more limited in terms of what its mods can do to the game though, so check the Nexus for anything that needs advanced scripting features or to overwrite files. In both cases though, beware. Mods can really, really screw up your saves.

If you're going to install a lot of mods at once, try to steer clear of a few. In particular, I avoided Ultimate Followers Overhaul and Open Cities, but did install the SKSE Script Extender just in case. Replacement body models can be problematic, with several clothing pieces in the game just not appearing. And yes, it took quite a lot of trial and error to get the game running in the first place. Not impossible, just annoying. Monster Mod/Wars and Warzones seemed especially problematic together.

You'll want Nexus Mod Manager to help with that, move around load orders, and bring new mods in. If you really want to shake up Skyrim's look, you can also check out the ENB series - though I didn't want to push my luck any more than I already was. Even without that running, my PC had full system-freezing crashes quite a few times and was generally as unstable as a legless unicyclist after seven pints.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed this. Now go forth and make Skyrim a stranger place. Personally though, I think the next time I play, it'll be with a few carefully chosen tweaks to Bethesda's template - and definitely no bloody lions. Or maybe I'll just add Jason Vorhees to Fallout: New Vegas.

If you've enjoyed this series, please do Tweet, pass around the link on Facebook, click Reddit buttons and the like. Click here for a nice index page, or start people off at the beginning with Part 1. The more people who read this kind of thing, the better, not just because they take ages to put together, but because it's the most likely way to get more on the site.

For now though, this experiment... is over. OR IS IT?!


Ugh. Where... where the hell am I? Why is my skin so jagged and my hair so... blocky all of a sudden? I thought... I was fighting a dragon, then...





Hey. You're finally awake. You were trying to cross the border, right? Same as us.



I... dimly remember. That's... what's the penalty for that again? A slap on the wrist? A fine? A few nights in jail and some unflattering rags?



Hah! No. You're thinking of theft, murder, treason, assassination and genocide. Everyone knows unarmed trespassers are the worst kind of scum. We might ignore 'don't walk on the grass' signs and everything.





Next! You! The Imperial woman with the hair. Head on the block, no lollygagging!



Wait! I know you! You're Hadvar, right? Look, there's been some terrible mistake - a miscarriage of justice with four horses on the front. Can't you do something?



Yeah, about that. Hypothetically, if I was about to die in some horrible, unfair way, and it was you who had the power to save me, would you even lift a finger?



...I'm almost positive I wou-


The End
The world returns to normal... but you can still catch up

Day 1: The World According To Sheogorath
Day 2: Quest For Dignity - The Housecarl Chronicles
Day 3: The Dovahkiin Riften Deserves, Not The Hero It Needs
Day 4: Yet There Is Method In It, And Also Cheese
Day 5: The Life And Deaths Of Compass Meridian
PC Gamer
comp_head


Every day this week, we’ll be visiting a version of Skyrim unlike any you’ve ever seen before – a world thrown into anarchy and chaos by Sheogorath, God of Madness, and the assistance of over 200 blindly-installed mods. In our fourth part, it's time to put aside the altered and search for the new. What unseen wonders does Skyrim now hide for our brave heroes adventurers to discover?

Catch up on the adventure: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3



At least, that was the plan - and the number of new points of interest both on the Skyrim map, and hinted at in the Whiterun area suggested that it wasn't going to be too tricky to find cool new places to check out. Unfortunately, and not to take anything away from the modders' no doubt hard work, struggling through the dinosaurs and lions and constant wandering enemies to check them out usually ended up less a thrilling new adventure as something a bit more disappointingly like this.

Destination 1: Tristram
AKA That Town From Diablo Where Nothing Good Ever Seems To Happen...




Huh. Shouldn't there be some demons, or some dungeons or something here, or at least some nerds whining about DRM? These doors are painted on and there's a rogue here called Rouge. If she gets in a fight, it'll be a mascara.



Greetings, traveller! I am Deckard Ca-



You see a turtle lying on its back. It is boiling in the sun. You don't help it. Why?



I don't-



Wrong! The answer is 'Woo! Turtle soup! Free dish!' You ARE a Replicant. Glad we finally cleared that one up. Were you saying something?



Uh. "Stay awhile and listen". It's my thing, you see.



What will I get out of this, exactly?



Unncessary amounts of lore, I suppose. The warmth of knowing you humoured a lonely old man in his time of direst need. A sense of-



Pass.


Destination 2: The Shire
Where hobbits live, or are supposed to at least...




Just another empty house. A nice one, but...



Who keeps building these things and then abandoning them? Is it because they keep realising they forgot to put in a toilet? Don't they know you can just barge into other peoples' homes and use their stuff without permission?



No, I think that's just you, my Thane. And, well, about that...



Quiet. What's next? People paying real world money to buy land and build houses in this frozen country? No, who needs to go adventuring and enjoy life when you can have a greenhouse and adopt some soulless brats?



Now you're just being silly.


Destination 3: Neiheleim
The land of floating islands, like in that Avatar film - the boring one with the blue people, not the horrific one based on the amazing cartoon. You know, that was such a disappointment - M. Night Shyamalan utterly missed the point, butchered the chara- sorry, I'm drifting.




Bah, I walked backwards all the way here because someone said it was cool, and what do I see? NOTHING! To hell with this. Adventuring is cancelled for the day! Let's just go get some dinner at that new soup restaurant in Whiterun.



Soup restaurant?





Oh. Oh, I see. You don't know what a 'brothel' is, do you, my Thane?



Someone should tell these imbeciles. Every time I ask for a bowl of their finest broth, all they offer is 'beefcake'. Honestly, I don't know why anyone comes here.



...I'm not touching that with an Ebony Greatsword.



You called?


It is, in short, quite a disappointing day for finding new things in Skyrim - save for two discoveries. First, that someone out there, at some point, looked at a mudcrab and thought "You know what would make this perfect? Lips, googly eyes, and both a bikini and something to fill it..."



Shudder. And second, the single greatest moment in the history of Skyrim modding...



So, what to do? For want of inspiration, and to see if it would continue the trend of most stuff around happening near Whiterun, I finally take the Jarl up on his offer to buy Breezehome. I have the cash. Unfortunately, I can't actually get to the door because Whiterun is still an insane waterpark. To avoid any bugs and potential map trouble there, I leave Lydia somewhere safe and warp across.


I'm going home. You'll be fine spending the night in this luxury suite full of food, booze, music and an army of hot naked guys catering to your every wish, right?



For you, my Thane, I shall endure.



Don't get used to it. COC WHITERUNBREEZEHOME!



Oooh, sorry, he only works Morndas to Middas.



Arriving in Breezehome, it's dark and crappy, and impossible to see anything even at mid-day. Truly, the Jarl was generous when he let me buy what I believe estate agents refer to as a blower-upper property in his town. I quickly realise though that I'm not alone. Worse, the stranger is...




Great. My new house, infested with vermin.





I'm not vermin, my Thane! I'm a bard! I'm here in my full motley to protect you from misery - to be your personal gaudy-bard, if you will! I will be proud to fill your days with song and music, and your world with glorious light!



Excellent. Let's start with that one.





Bards. If you're still alive in there, be useful for once and start toasting these marshmallows on yourself. By the way, not sure whether that's screaming or singing I hear but stop it, I'm off for a nap and don't want to be disturbed.


Leaving the smouldering carcass where it fell, it's time to head upstairs to bed. About ten hours sleep should suffice, after which it'll be a new day, and a new opportunity to find adventure.


Zzzzzzzzz. Zzzz. Zzzzzzzzz...





Zzzzzzzz- huh?





Where... am I? What is this place? Last I knew, I was in bed, and then there was blackness and now all I know is I'm really glad I've slept in full armour ever since The Longest Journey...


Yes, in an amazing stroke of luck, I accidentally wander into an interesting, fully voiced quest called Descent Into Madness - one which starts by transporting you from your bed in Breezehome to the split realm of Madness and Dementia. Both sides have their own little village - Madness a mess of crystals, while Dementia keeps things low key with an icy lake area - and have started fighting after lots of essentially getting on fine. Both decide that you've been sent by Sheogorath to help break the stalemate, and waste no time trying to recruit the Dovahkiin. But who are these crazy characters?




I'm Nimbly! And I'm Trixie! I have a split personality you will find endearing and wacky, because I'm from Madness and we're just CRAZY! I also have boobs, and armour that lets you see said boobs and like sex and quote Serenity!



And I'm Captain Jack. From Dementia I hail, and not really that movie. My wacky thing is I have a talking mudcrab I will argue with for your entertainment, and if it'll sweeten the pot, just mebbe I'll let you see me arsecrack.



I don't know, you're both quite annoying. But I don't see a door back home anywhere, so how about I just flip a coin - heads you win, tails I probably end up decapitating you. Nimbly, you... sigh... you win.



Yay! Trixie says yay too!



Also, wasn't your half of Shivering Isles called Mania?



Waaah! You're mean!


It's a fun quest, with heavy amounts of scripting (voice and otherwise). On the Madness side, you start by travelling to the village through caves and a couple of Dementia ambushes, with Madness using robot spiders as troops and Dementia favouring zombies. Once there, an epic battle breaks out amongst big swirling shields, and the Jarl - busy painting - decides the only rational solution is to discuss peace. But given where this is, an assassination mission is chosen instead - quite possibly because the Jarl of Dementia has a seriously awful voice actress and such things must be Punished with Fire.

To get to Dementia though, you have to complete three trials. In the first, only the penitent adventurer may pass through a tunnel, meaning you have to keep your... head... down. Hmm. In the second, you have to bravely put your trust in something greater and take a leap of... faith...




I'm having a serious case of deja-vu here.



Cynic! You're a cynicy-poo! Jump in the pit already, come on!



Shut up for science. FUS!





Okay, fine. But if the next room is full of cups, I'm going straight for the wooden one - even if that's historically questionable at best.


Actually, that doesn't work - not really. The platforms only spring into existence when you jump down, which is better than the movie's rather weird version. Still, we're two familiar traps down out of three. What are the odds the third is going to be anything with a little novelty to it?




Okay. Credit where it's due, was not expecting that.



Mental illness is funny and awesome!


If it's not obvious from the video, the way this works is that the ghosts are incredibly tough and the apples are instant-kill death. You have to wait until the path is clear first, or you die. There's also a chest which you can't get to, unless you cheat. It contains such incredible wonders, spoiling them would simply be rude. Anyway, after this section, there's only one more challenge to go.




DOVAHKIIN! I CHALLENGE YOU TO A TEST OF SKILL OR OF WITS! DEFEAT ME IN THE MENTAL ARENA OR PREPARE TO BE-



For your sake, this had better not involve some ancient, generic riddles you found on a back of a cereal box this morning.



I AM ALMOST POSITIVE IT WILL NOT!



Fine, go. Whatever.



IT IS GREATER THAN GOD, MORE EVIL THAN THE DEVIL, THE POOR HAVE IT, THE RICH NEED IT, AND IF YOU EAT- Ow! That was my only spleen!



You were warned. Now stop wasting my time and open that door before I get cross.


As for Dementia itself, there's not a lot to it beyond killing its leader, Jarl Danni. Yes, Danni. Not too tough, and there's nothing wacky in the fight. The only question left to ponder is whether or not it's appropriate for a hero to take sides in this kind of conflict without knowing the stakes, the players, or what the long-term implications of allowing a hero of prophecy to take direct action will-



Never mind then.

Finally then, the reward for all this madness - loot! Most of the time, Skyrim quests are fairly poor when it comes to rewards. Either it won't be useful, or it won't be much better than you've already got, or it'll be a handful of gold for your trouble. This was quite a long quest, but was it worth the effort?




I may just weep openly.


Every. Bit. Of. Enchanted. Armour. In. The. Game. All in a box, and nobody to tell you that you can only take one thing, like some kind of game-balance Nazi. Having gathered your fill, a door then leads back to Breezehome - and it's even a two-way one in case you want to check back on Madness any time in the future. For now though, the path lies elsewhere. Possibly even to glory...




...and so I gave her the "protect you with my life" and all that, and meant it of course, don't get me wrong. But when I said "I am sworn to carry your burdens" it just came out... sarcastic. I think she may have taken that badly. I'm not sure.



HOUSECARL! What time do you call this?



My Thane? It's... it's just after 2AM.



Wrong.





It's time to save the world!


Tomorrow! The epic finale! Compass and Lydia go to war! Bandits face their ultimate challenge! Dragons! Bards! How could anything possibly go wrong?

Skyrim: Week Of Madness
The insanity continues... come along for the ride...

Day 1: The World According To Sheogorath
Day 2: Quest For Dignity - The Housecarl Chronicles
Day 3: The Dovahkiin Riften Deserves, Not The Hero It Needs
Day 4: Yet There Is Method In It, And Also Cheese
Day 5: The Life And Deaths Of Compass Meridian
...

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