PC Gamer
Skyrim Mods thumb
Skyrim mods are amazing. In the two months since release, thousands of mods have been released, some of them quite spectacular. It’s not like Skyrim was an ugly game to begin with, but with new high resolution textures and post processing it becomes truly stunning. Not to mention new items, expanded crafting and a full UI overhaul.

With so many mods available, choosing them can be a little daunting, which is why we’ve rounded up the 25 best here for you to enjoy. Check inside for the full list.

Remember, this list will be perpetually updated as more mods are released, so if you have any particular favourites you'd like to be included, mention them in the comments below and I'll test them out before the next update.

1. Sky UI


Ask any PC gamer what Skyrim's biggest flaw is and you'll get one answer: the inventory. The default UI is inelegant, slow and features far too much scrolling. Which is why Sky UI is so essential. It doesn't merely fix the problems with Bethesda's interface, it improves it on every level. Icons are now used to easily distinguish items while using less space. Additional information, such as if an item is stolen or poisoned, is clearly displayed. The inventory can even be sorted by value and weight, while a text search lets you find the correct item in a hurry. There is simply no reason not to install Sky UI, even those few who don't mind the original interface will find their Skyrim experience improved immeasurably as a result.

2. Midas Magic


Midas Magic was a fantastic magic overhaul mod for Oblivion, which added flashy, powerful new spells to make high level mages even better at setting people on fire with their minds. The Skyrim version is shaping up to be just as good, with spells that summon mini dragons and call down meteor strikes. It also features a brand new way to learn spells, by using 'aurum reactors' dotted around Skyrim.

3. ENBSeries


The ENBSeries mods are famous for adding improved post processing and lighting effects to make games like GTA4 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution look amazing. Now, creator Boris Vorontsov has turned his hand to Skyrim. The result is unsual, but is nonetheless beautiful using brighter, more striking colours than previous ENB mods. Those who don't care for the style should check out the the more muted Confident ENB settings instead.

4. Skyrim HD

Like Quarl's Texture mod for Oblivion or NeilMC's for Fallout 3, Skyrim HD is an ambitious project to replace the majority of in game textures with new, high resolution versions. Clocking in at a hefty 1.29GB, this mod already contains huge amounts of textures, and is getting updated all the time. Alternatively there’s Chris’s Whiterun Texture pack, less comprehensive, but just as good.

5. FXAA Post Process Injector


There's a lot of post processing mods for Skyrim, but FXAA has emerged as the best. It layers on several handy effects like sharpening, technicolour, sepia and saturation, but the best part is that it's all totally customisable. Modifying the settings file will let you turn settings on and off or adjust them to your preferences, giving you full control over the look and feel of your Skyrim game.

6. Xenius Character Enhancement

Xenius has rapidly carved himself a niche as Skyrim's premier character enhancement modder, producing a whole series of texture improving mods at a tremendous rate before packaging them together as Xenius Character Enhancement. While so many other modders have spent their time making characters that look more like fashion models than medieval peasants, Xenius stays true to the original art style of Skyrim, and for that we salute him.

7. Val's Crafting Meltdown

Playing Skyrim inevitably results in picking up a lot of items you don't necessarily need. Weapons or armour you aren't properly trained with, or just useless pots and pans, every Dovahkiin ends up with a lot of clutter in their inventory. Val's Crafting Meltdown, has an ingenious solution to that problem, giving players the ability to melt down weapons, armour and junk into raw materials like iron and steel. It also provides an invaluable service for archers, letting them use smithing to create arrows, an ability inexplicably missing from the original game. Val's Crafting Meltdown is built to be compatible with other crafting mods, so if want to expand your crafting options, be sure to check out The Lost Art of the Blacksmith and More Craftables, which let you craft faction specific items like Thieves Guild armour or Skyforge Steel weapons. Alternatively Craftable Staffs lets mages get in on the smithing action too.

8. Tytanis


The creator of Tytanis bills it as 'The Ultimate Mod', and it's certainly comprehensive. The mod adds a whole bundle of crazy new items, powers, spells and perks, each more ridiculous than the last. If you've ever wanted to ride a bear, summon an undead dragon or dual wield two handed weapons then this is the mod for you. Future plans are even more ambitious, with farming, fishing and carpentry in the works.

9. Millenia Weapon Retexture Project

You spend an awful lot of time in Skyrim looking at swords, either because you're holding one in your hand or because a bandit is enthusiastically trying to insert his into your eyes. Modder Millenia understands this, so he launched his Weapon Retexture Project to ensure you get to see the prettiest, highest resolution blade possible in those brief moments before it takes off your head.

10. Deadly Dragons


Dragons? Wimps I tell you! I eat ‘em for breakfast! So goes the cry of the high level Dragonborn. Spectacular though Skyrim’s flying lizards are, they can sometimes be a bit of a pushover in the late game. Thankfully, there’s a mod for that. Deadly Dragons tweaks Skyrim’s biggest monsters to be even more terrifying, including adding all new Dragon types like Storm and Magma to threaten even the hardiest of adventures.

11. Quality World Map with Roads

Ever get lost trying to navigate the world map in Skyrim? Then Quality World Map is the mod for you. It not only upgrades the textures, but hand drawn roads to the map for easy navigation . It also includes the option for a 'classic style' map for those who prefer Oblivion's hand drawn look to Skyrim's flashy 3D. This last feature is a work in progress, but it looks so lovely it's worth trying anyway.

12. Weapons of the Third Era

Pre-Skyrim most Elder Scrolls fans would tell you Morrowind was the highlight of the series and, despite the excellence of Bethesda’s latest entry, Vvardenfell still has a special place in gamers’ hearts. Weapons of the Third Era aims to bring a little bit of the Dunmer Isle to Skyrim, adding over 50 new weapons with a Morrowind theme. Let’s hope this is the first of many mods to recapture the exotic flavour of Vvardenfell.

13. Jaysus Swords

For a more general weapons package, look no further than Jaysus Swords. Master smith Jaysus has forged 38 lovingly designed weapons for you to craft and wield. The pack offers everything from katanas to cavalry sabres, letting you pick a weapon that fits the look of your Dragonborn.

14. Bellyache’s Animal Pack

Skyrim is full of adorable, cuddly animals, most of which will attempt to eat your face at some point. Bellyache’s excellent Animal Pack contains a variety of different skins to improve and customise your furry friends. Whether you’re just improving the default textures, or turning grizzlies into polar bears, this is the mod for you.

15. Proudspire Manor - Dragonborn Edition

Proudspire Manor is the most expensive house in Skyrim, but it doesn’t feel that much better than starting house Breezehome, which next door to a blacksmiths. Enter Proudspire Manor - Dragonborn Edition, which expands and renovates your property, adding a built in smithy, along with extra mannequins and weapon plaques, turning your humble abode into the mansion it was meant to be.

16. Skyrim Online

A work in progress, but an exciting one. Skyrim Online aims to turn Skyrim into a pseudo MMO, letting players connect to a server where they can see and interact with each other. So far it's pretty simple, with other players appearing only as undressed prisoners, unable to do anything but chat with each other, but it's still a great technical achievement. We can't wait to see where this mod goes once the creation kit has been released.

17. Realistic Smoke and Embers

Another neat little improvement to Skyrim's effects, Realistic Smoke and Embers completely overhauls the appearance of fire in the game, improving it greatly. It's the mod that screenshotmancer Duncan 'Dead End Thrills' Harris used to create this stunning image (along with plenty of other mods and tweaks). If you're playing Skyrim as a fire throwing destruction mage, you have to install this mod.

18. Realistic Water


The water in Skyrim already looks pretty lovely, but Realistic Water pushes it that little bit further. Based on high resolution photography, Realistic Water makes Skyrim's streams foam and bubble in a beautiful and convincing way.

19. Skyrim Sunglare


If you like lovely sunlight effects Skyrim Sunglare is the mod for you. It makes the game's sun produce delicious rays of beamy goodness, including optional lens flare effects for those who favour the 'cinematic' look. There's something special about cresting a mountain and watching the sunbeams break through over the horizon, and this mod makes it even better. If this version isn’t to your tastes, try Alternate Sunglare from Isoku, the creator of the Realistic Water and Smoke mods.

20. Enhanced Night Sky

A nice little mod I've enjoyed in previous Bethesda games. Enhanced Night Sky replaces the Skyrim's stars with a high resolution texture taken from starfield photography. This version is so seamless it doesn't even effect the in game constallations, and looks simply beautiful.

21. Glowing Ore Veins

If you're like me, you probably played several hours of Skyrim before even realising mining was in the game. The problem is that ore veins don't actually look that different from the surrounding rock. Thankfully, Glowing Ore Veins solves that problem, tweaking mineable rocks to make them stand out more from the background. As an added bonus it'll fade back to normal once you've extracted all the ore, once again blending harmlessly into the background.

22. Nicer Snowflakes

There's a lot of snow in Skyrim, so it's a shame it's mostly represented by vague white blobs floating past. Nicer Snowflakes fixes that problem completely, replacing the default snow with beautiful, high resolution flakes. There's several flavours to choose from, from realistic to stylised. I like the 'Whimsical' version best, it might not be what snow really looks like, but it's what we all wish it did.

23. Map in Full 3D

Not so much a mod as a set of tweaks, Map in full 3D shows you how to modify Skyrim's ini file to make it possible to zoom the in game map right down to the ground. The result is essentially a free camera mode that lets you roam anywhere in the world. It's like the google street view team was let loose in the frozen north.

24. Vurt's Skyrim Flora Overhaul

This is going to be one to keep an eye on. Vurt's Skyrim flora overhaul is dedicated to improving the quality of the vegetation in Skyrim, starting with trees. It even offers several different colour schemes to let you tailor your foliage to your own desires.

25. No Spider Mod

Arachnophobes like PC Gamer contributor Richard Cobbett have a hard time with games like Skyrim. Which is why No Spiders patches, which remove the offending beasties from the game, are so useful. This first attempt at a spider free Skyrim is particularly hilarious, as it replaces the models of the spiders with completely out of place bears. Honestly, we mostly included this because it’s hilarious, if you want a more sensible anti-spider solution, try the Arachnophobia mod.

Once again, we're going to keep updating this list with new and interesting mods, so if you know of any good ones we've missed please let us know in the comments.

It's Like Skyrim's Guardian Stones for RealIn 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.


How to Make Your Skyrim Map Better: BLOODFake blood, that is. Skyrim player and prop maker Shannon Clawson decided to modify the map bundled with The Elder Scrolls V. Out came the sandpaper, fake blood, and fire.

Add an old frame and bam you're done!

"Project time was less than an hour," Shannon wrote. "Well worth the effort." And yes, Shannon is well aware that blood oxidizes and went with the "fresh blood" look.

Skyrim Map Modified [The Replica Prop Forum]

How to Make Your Skyrim Map Better: BLOOD
How to Make Your Skyrim Map Better: BLOOD

PC Gamer
Riften Inn
I don't care for Riften. Well, that statement isn't really fair. I hate Riften. I hate Riften, and I wish it would burn to the ground, and I wish everyone who lives here would also burn the the ground, and I wish a bunch of giants would come and push dirt and rocks over the ashes, and I wish that whenever anyone asked about the giant dirty rock pile that smells like burnt dead bodies that sits where Riften used to be, the giants would shrug as if they didn't know.

That's my wish for Riften.

Things start going wrong before I even get inside the city. When I reach the gate, late in the evening, the guards tell me the door is locked and I have to use the north entrance. Fine, whatever. I slog around the outside of the city, running into a necromancer who attacks me, and then three bandits who attack the necromancer and then attack me. After everyone is dead and their bodies have been stripped of armor and weapons, I finally reach the north gate, where another guard tries to extort a toll out of me just to unlock the door. I complain, presumably loudly enough that he worries about getting in trouble, and he lets me in.

I'm two steps inside the gate when a huge guy gruffly warns me not to cause any trouble. Another fellow glances at me and decides I've come by my wealth (wealth?) dishonestly and that I should help him with some criminal enterprise. A woman at the inn glares at me and tells me to get out of her face before I've even crossed the room to try to hit on her. Just how inhospitable this town is can be demonstrated by the pile of hay I find in Beggar's Row, the dank chamber under the city where I hope to spend the night rent-free.

Yeah. The hay pile is owned. OWNED. A stinky matted bunch of hay in a filthy cellar frequented by penniless panhandlers is too exclusive for me.

After paying to spend the night at the inn, I visit the Temple of Mara and talk to the priest about getting hitched. I buy the (fairly expensive) Amulet of Mara from him, which, when worn, will let the other NPCs in Skyrim know that I'm on the hunt for a spouse and they might as well get used to my optimistic leering. The priest also gives me the bad news I already knew: to get someone to like me enough to want to marry me, I'll have to perform some sort of task for them. Marriage, in Skyrim, begins with deeds.

Deeds. Why did it have to be deeds? I don't do deeds. Deeds, generally, lead to adventure, excitement, riches, power, intrigue... I'm not interested in any of that crap. I just want to chop wood, craft boots, and catch butterflies. Still, I'm holding out hope that there may be some NPC with a safe, simple deed I can accomplish to win their heart (and their home).

The tough part is, I'll have to complete the deed before I even know if it's a deed that will convince someone to marry me. No one will come out and say, "Hey, ugly, I'll marry you if you bring me the enchanted toilet seat I lost in Batshit Cave." I'll have to brave the bats and retrieve the seat before I even know if the NPC is interested in marriage at all.

So, I spend the next two days wandering around, talking to NPCs, seeing what kind of deeds they need deeded, and trying to determine if the deeds are doable and if they might lead to marriage. Sure, I know there are wiki pages that can give me all this information in advance, but I'm trying to be pure. It quickly starts sinking in that this is going to be next to impossible.

There's the burly blacksmith who needs fire salts for his forge, and tells me the best way to acquire them is by killing scary magical fire monsters. Pass. An elf at the meadery wants me to smuggle a illicit barrel of hooch to a buyer out of town. Smuggling? I'm not Han Solo. A barmaid is unhappy with her boss and wants me to collect evidence of her employer's promiscuity. A Redguard is in dutch with the local gangsters. A guy on a local farm wants me to retrieve some items of his that were stolen by the Thieves Guild. The list goes on and on. I finally meet a quiet, pleasant Nord woman who doesn't want me to do anything at all, but that's only because she's dead.

Desperate, I even stop by the orphanage on the off-chance that someone will simply adopt me. Looking at these poor kids with no parents and realizing they that have even worse lives than I do cheers me up a little, but not much.

I eventually find a decent prospect: an Argonian woman working at the Riften Fishery complains that she's addicted to skooma, Skyrim's drug of choice, and asks me to bring her a healing potion to cure her. An ugly talking lizard with a crippling drug habit? It's every young man's dream. Still, as quests go, it's a simple one, especially since I happen to have a healing potion on me. I hand it to her, and she thanks me... then gives me a ring. A ring! Oh, I do! I do! A thousand times I do!

Wait. No. She's not proposing to me, she's just giving me an expensive ring as a reward for handing her a potion. Well, jeez, you stupid junkie lizard, you could have just walked to the general store in town, pawned the ring, and bought the potion yourself. Is this what adventurers have to deal with on a daily basis? Idiots who can't complete even the most simple of tasks without assistance? What a terrible job that must be: admin to every NPC in Skyrim.

Adding to my growing list of irritations with this crummy town, I notice some random dickweed is wearing the same stupid hat I am.

Come on, man! That's my signature Nordrick man-about-town lid. You're totally copying me. Then it strikes me that I don't even recall where I got this hat. I flip through my notes, and find the scribbled answer: "DEAD GUY SHACK - DUMB HAT." Oh, right. This hat belonged to the guy who got eaten in the riverside blood shack, the guy whose grisly reappearing remains drove me to this lame city in the first place. I take the hat off and throw it on the ground. This causes a stir as three nearby townspeople notice the hat, then start arguing over who saw it first, then draw weapons and actually start fighting over it. Do you see now why I hate this town?

Okay, I need a break from my depressing marriage hunt and hat-related woes. Luckily, I have another personal goal in mind. I'm a little tired of the grim, patchwork look of my banded iron armor, so I head to the blacksmith's, thinking maybe it's time to craft myself some attractive steel duds. While I'm milling around, checking out the facilities, I notice something. There's no ore smelter. What kind of blacksmith doesn't have his own ore smelter?

Another problem: neither the blacksmith nor the general store have any steel ingots for sale. Riften just keeps getting worse. There's no way to smelt or buy own ingots. I can't find anyone to marry. I caused a brawl by dropping my hat. And, I completed a quest by helping someone, which makes me feel like a common hero. A local guard can't help but rub it in: "I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took an arrow to the knee," he says in passing. Granted, guards say that a lot anyway, but I find it particularly hurtful now.

I grouchily decide to spend the next day out in the wild. Maybe there's a mining community nearby: they often have their own smelters. Maybe I can still make Riften work. I head north, and sure enough, a mine appears on my psychic radar. As I stalk slowly toward it, I spot a Khajiit, dressed in Dark Brotherhood armor, sprinting right at me. What, this assassin shit again? We fight. I immediately start losing. I use my Battle Cry. He stops fighting and starts fleeing. I kill him. I examine his dead body, and sure enough, he bears the same assassination contract as the Argonian assassin did. Look, it was cute the first time, Skyrim, but now you're just repeating yourself.

Speaking of repeats, the near-constant wolf attacks are getting a little tiresome. Why are these wolves so damn hungry and stupid? Shouldn't they know by now to chase foxes and rabbits, and leave the iron-plated, sword-wielding travelers to bigger monsters? I can always use the pelts, but having to stop seemingly every few feet to kill the same three wolves is getting old.

I finally reach the mine, but as I approach, I can already tell something is a little off. Generally, there's a little community, or stronghold, or town built around these mines, but this one is just a door in the rock wall. Weird. Inside, it's weirder. No filthy but friendly NPCs greet me as I enter the cavern. No comforting sounds of workers chipping away at the stone ring through the air. I creep around in a crouch, suspecting foul play, but no monsters or bandits charge out to meet me. It's just an abandoned mine. Worse yet, whoever abandoned it seems to have abandoned it after mining out all the ore. Apart from a bunch of mushrooms, the mine yields nothing of value.

Well, that fits in perfectly with the rest of my crummy week. No ore to smelt and no smelter to smelt it in. No one to marry and no home to be married in. I actually miss my cruddy, bloody, bone-filled shack by the river. I never should have left.

Feeling glum, I leave the mine and start the long, lonely trudge back to Riften. And what do I see a hundred yards down the road? Three wolves. Sigh. I draw my sword, then notice that they're not attacking me but each other. Wolves fighting each other? I've never seen that happen before.

As I get closer, it appears that one wolf is fighting the other two, and the one looks a bit different than the others. A little bigger, perhaps? Wait, that isn't a wolf at all, it's a dog! I hurry over to help him finish off the annoying wolves, and then look around for the dog's owner. No NPCs in sight. This dog is a stray.

What's more, I can interact with him, telling him to wait, to go home (wherever that is), or to follow me. I have a dog. I have a dog now! I name him Jasper. My mood lifted, I start walking back to Riften, turning around every few steps to make sure Jasper is really following me. He's always there, a few steps behind, panting and barking.

Okay, it's not the same as having a husband or a wife, and I still don't have a home. But I have a companion who will sit in the pub all night, happily watching me drink. What more can anyone really ask?


One PC gaming truism is that modders make magic, by altering the rules or looks of a vanilla game release into something shinier or more idiosyncratic. In the case of PC modder Xilver, the magic-making's literal.

A.K.A. Brian Rivers, Xilver made an insanely robust mod called Midas Magic: Spells of Aurum for Oblivion. It delivered more than 100 spells that let you conjure freeze rays, hail storms and creature summons to the game's Mages. Now, with the follow-up to Oblivion being a major PC phenomenon, Xilver's launching the spiritual sequel to Midas Magic for Skyrim, The trailer above shows of the formidable powers players will be able to wield with the mod for The Elder Scrolls V mod. You can grab Xilver's add-on here.

Skyrim Modding: Midas Magic by Xilver [BethBlog]


How Can Anyone Be Disappointed By Both Skyrim and Skyward Sword?Some folks loved the latest Legend of Zelda game but weren't fond of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Others turned up their noses at Skyward Sword but embraced Bethesda's latest wholeheartedly. Somehow commenter Sloopydrew found himself disappointed with both games. In today's Speak Up on Kotaku we try to determine what sort of alien he is.

Am I the only one disappointed with both the most recent Elder Scrolls and recent Zelda game? I love both of those franchises and loved the last few games with a fanboy-like passion. But Skyward Sword and Skyrim — along with sharing a similar name — share the feeling of "sameness."

I just feel like I've played these games before and, when I did, they were better.

Every Elder Scrolls got better, for me, through Oblivion. Skyrim feels like a glitchy fetch quest with nothing new. Zelda got better for me through Windwaker. I still liked Twilight Princess, but Skyward Sword leaves me cold. Not to mention, popping in Windwaker after playing Skyward is startling, as Windwaker is clearly graphically superior, on top of being a better game.

Anyway, I didn't want to troll and I know I'm the odd man out on this, but I'm looking for anyone who agrees with me, just to validate that I'm not going crazy. I looked forward to both of these games, bought both on launch and have ended up finishing neither. I played some Skyrim last night and, as I have every time, shut it off about an hour in feeling bored and disappointed. I haven't even put Skyward Sword back on for at least a week. Probably more. I'm seriously doubting I'll even finish either of these games. Certainly startling, as I finished their predecessors more than once each.

About Speak Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run. That's why we have a forum on Kotaku called Speak Up. That's the place to post anecdotes, photos, game tips and hints, and anything you want to share with Kotaku at large. Every weekday we'll pull one of the best Speak Up posts we can find and highlight it here.

You've already seen a man clone himself and play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the violin.

Now, you're going to see a man clone himself and sing the game's iconic theme. The man here is Diwa de Leon.

Don't fret; there are hats and instruments, too, including, yes, violins! Well, a violin that's been cloned.

Skyrim Theme Remix by Diwa de Leon [YouTube]

PC Gamer
Skyrim Bather
I've settled into a comfy routine during my past week in Skyrim. I spend time by my new riverside shack, hunting, fishing, gathering alchemy ingredients, and chopping wood at a nearby mill. Every other day I make the walk to Windhelm to mix potions and craft armor to sell to vendors. I even run (well, walk) into a giant who is doing some strolling of his own near my house, and to my delight he doesn't try to kill me or ask me to do something for him. In my mind, he's the perfect NPC: completely indifferent to my existence. I've named him Andre.

This morning, however, on my way back from spending the night in Windhelm, something is nagging at me. I've spent my morning walk trying to figure out what do to next, but I'm drawing a blank. Where do I go from here? What's on my to-do list? And then, as my shack comes into view, I suddenly realize why I'm having so much trouble planning my next move: I may not actually have a next move.

I mean, isn't this the dream realized? Isn't this mission accomplished? I'm living as an NPC. I've got several ways to make money. While my crafting business is still operating at a loss, alchemy is paying off and it's only a matter of time until I grind my smithing and speech skills high enough to start turning a profit at the forge. I've got a home to live in rent-free and a quiet yet enjoyable routine. For all intents and purposes, I've done what I set out to do. Isn't this, well... the end?

As I step inside my blood-stained hovel, however, I notice something is wrong. It's the books. When I first arrived here, they were stacked in a pile on the table, but I'd moved them to the bookcase where they belong. Today, they're back on the table in that same neat stack. Next to them lies a dagger, which I'm pretty sure I moved to the nightstand. What's going on here? Who undid all my painstaking interior decorating?

More alarmingly, sitting in the center of the room, on the floor, is a bloody skull and ribcage. These belonged to the previous owner, who had been partially devoured by a sabercat, and I had kicked them into the river and watched them float downstream. Now, though, they're back, reset to their original positions. It seems I have a roommate, a dead roommate, and no matter how many times I kick his disgusting remains into the river, he will return. An even more dreadful thought: if the dead victim of the sabercat keeps returning, isn't there a chance the sabercat itself will return as well?

As I halfheartedly kick the bones back into the river, I realize the truth of the matter: as much as I've tried to make this filthy busted shack a home, it simply isn't, and never will be. It's a borrowed hut belonging to the bones of a dead man. As low as I've set my expectations for Nordrick's life, this simply won't do. I want and need a real home. The question now is: how to acquire one?

I can't buy a real house: as far as I know, all the buyable homes are tied to dangerous quests and tasks. The only other way to acquire a house is to marry an NPC who already owns a home, and move in with them. Nordrick needs to get hitched for the most romantic of reasons: to own property.

Of course, I can't just walk up to nearest man, woman, or indifferent giant and simply propose. Getting married in Skyrim is a three-step process. First, you have to travel to the town of Riften, which lies to the far southeast of Skyrim. Second, you have to visit the Temple of Mara and buy an amulet which, when worn, will signal to the other NPCs that you're interested in bumping uglies on an exclusive basis. Third... well, the third step is incredibly problematic for an NPC like Nordrick, so I'm not even going to think about it at the moment. It's all moot unless I can reach Riften anyway, and Riften is a hell of a long stroll from here. I won't be able to sneak around the edge of the map like I did on my trip to Windhlem: I've got to march straight through the interior of Skyrim.

To Riften, then! I set out in the early morning and leave the bloody shack behind, perhaps for good. Examining my map, it looks like I can follow the river pretty much all the way there. That's good news: if I run into trouble, I can always swim to safety.

It's around noon when I come across a small camp with tents and bedrolls, sitting on the rocks amidst some bubbling hot springs. I don't see anyone around, which is odd, because I can clearly hear someone talking to me. "Yes?" the voice says. Then, "Do you need something?" Finally, I look straight down and see that I've nearly stepped on a half-naked female hunter who is lying in the hot springs at my feet. Oh. Hi there. I didn't notice you lying there being pretty much nude.

I spot another two nearly nude hunters also enjoying the hot springs. Well, when in Rome, right? I strip off my armor and hop into the water with them. I can't sit down with them, though, and crouching just feels a bit... predatory. So, I just sort of stand there awkwardly for a while. The hunters stare at me and offer up conversational tidbits like "Hello" and "Huh?" Then they start making nasty comments about how I'm not wearing anything, which is a bit hypocritical. People in glass houses shouldn't sit around in their skivvies.

My beefcake display clearly unappreciated, I strap up and move on, eventually finding a small mining community at the base of the mountain I'm going to need to climb. I do some mining and pick their crops, but I can't find anyone to sell the crops to, so I just drop the wheat in a neat pile for them. I'm honest that way. I meet an NPC named Annekke Crag-Jumper, who talks to me a bit about her marriage. Maybe that's a good omen for my search for a spouse. (I wonder if her maiden name was Crag, and her husband's last name was Jumper, and she went with the hyphenated option.)

I spend the night in a spare bedroll, and in the morning I get a good look at the mountain that stands between me and Riften. It's going to be a long climb. There's a switchback trail snaking up the side of the mountain, but it takes me away from my escape route, the river, which is now basically a series of waterfalls. Well, as long as I don't run into anything large and angry halfway up the mountain, I'll be fine.

I run into something large and angry halfway up the mountain. Sabercat! We spot each other at the same time. I freeze, he leaps. I manage to get a single arrow into him as he charges, and then unleash my Battle Cry power right into his big, furry face. He runs off in fright, thankfully heading past me, down the mountain, allowing me to continue up without having to worry about meeting him again. Perfect. As long as I don't run into another sabercat today, I'll be fine.

I run into another sabercat roughly two minutes later. Okay! No river to dive into, no magic shriek to send the sabercat away harmlessly. Just my arrows and sword between me and the abyss. It's pucker time. I manage to get two arrows into the beast before it's on me, then switch to my shield and scimitar. I block one swipe, then raise my weapon for what I hope will be a deadly slash.

And wouldn't you know it, it's a damn deadly slash, right through the beast's neck. Fatality! It's dead. That was, um. Easy? Almost disappointingly so. Is it that my smithing has improved my bow and scimitar so much that they're actually dangerous? Or am I just a badass and didn't know it? I did look pretty buff while I was standing around naked earlier.

The next morning, having spent the night in another camp, I've reached the top of the mountain and am heading along the river again. Riften is finally in sight when I spot a female Argonian running directly at me. Before I can even ask her to marry me, she's leaping at my face with a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. She spins, she whirls, she dances, stabbing and slashing in a balletic display of violence that would be difficult not to admire if she were not carving me into bloody little Nordrick nuggets. I finally get my shield up and saber out and fight back. My swings are slow and spastic compared with hers, and it seems pretty clear I'm outmatched. I still have my ace in the hole, though: I hit her with my Battle Cry, which has recharged since I used it yesterday. As she pauses ever so briefly, gripped in fear and preparing to flee, I cut her down.

What the hell was that all about? I examine her corpse, noticing that she's wearing assassin's armor and that her name is "Assassin." This wasn't some common bandit or thug, this was the Dark Brotherhood. But why was she attacking me? Then I find the note on her body.

Someone wants me dead? Not just wants me dead, but wants me dead so badly they actually they took time out of their day to pray to an shadowy deity and pay for a contract on my life? Why? What the hell did I ever do? And to whom did I do it?

As I walk the remaining steps to Riften, I assemble a mental list of those who might hate me enough to hire an assassin. Someone in Dawnstar, angry I'd lured a giant angry troll into town? The hot springs hunters, offended by my casual nudity? One of the Jarls, because I always sit on their thrones when they're not looking? The blacksmith in Windhelm, because every time I want to use the grindstone or the forge, and he's using it, I'll just stand there repeatedly poking it with my hand until he finally gets the hint and stops using it? Yeah, probably that last one. I can be pretty annoying like that.

Well, no matter. My feelings are a little hurt, but a personalized assassination contract is kind of a cool souvenir. It actually says "Nordrick" on it! I'm really making a name for myself.

Ah, So That's Where Skyrim Bugs Come From Ever wonder how such a highly polished game as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim wound up with so many bugs and glitches? Dorkly has uncovered a completely fictional series of letters between Bethesda's Todd Howard and the lead developer that may explain the situation.

All it takes is one fussy lead programmer and a slightly grump project lead to turn an award-winning role-playing game into an award-winning role-playing game filled with humorous bugs and glitches. Just one simple internal memo sent on a bad day and everything goes spiraling out of control.

Ah, So That's Where Skyrim Bugs Come FromLuckily for Bethesda, no one cares if their games are full of bugs and glitches. Fake Todd should really just learn how to relax.

Ah, So That's Where Skyrim Bugs Come FromSee what happens? Look what fake Todd made fake programmer do! Now everyone is bears. Hopefully this doesn't escalate any further.

Ah, So That's Where Skyrim Bugs Come FromOh god.

Hit up the link for the full imaginary exchange. It seems completely crazy, but in an odd way it makes perfect sense.

Where Skyrim Bugs Come From [Dorkly]

PC Gamer
You've read the review, now build the best character, find the dev team's favorite items, survive your first PvP encounter, and get the most out of Star Wars: The Old Republic with our enormous 10-page launch guide and behind-the-scenes coverage. Then bury your nose deeper into the February 2012 issue of PC Gamer US for previews of 2012's biggest games, including Diablo III, BioShock Infinite, Guild Wars 2 (which may just change everything we know about MMOs), Mass Effect 3, and more, as well as an all-star lineup of reviews, including Minecraft, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3, and Assassin's Creed: Revelations.

You can find it all and more on newstands now! Or, if your house is surrounded by small rabid beasts which have somehow made it clear that only your flesh can satiate their voracious appetites, you may want to stay inside and check us out on Coverleaf.com and Apple Newsstand.