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Skyrim: Of Guilds, Cat Burglars, and Rebels

There was a video posted last week (it’s embedded above) talking about a problem with Skyrim. The creator, Mumbles, focused on the Thieves Guild in Riften. In case you do not recall, the Thieves Guild quest line starts when the player visits Riften. They will be approached by a man named Brynjolf, who claims all of the player’s wealth was gained through illegitimate means—stealing, extortion, robbing the dead, things like that.

I’m not going to summarize the problem Mumbles addresses. The video is not even five minutes long. Just watch it; she makes her point pretty succinctly.

Anyway, it’s no secret that I did not like the Thieves Guild quest line. It had its moments and started with a cool premise, but I didn’t like it overall. Compare my articles on the Thieves Guild with my articles on the Dark Brotherhood, and you can see that I was far more enthusiastic about the Dark Brotherhood. It is simply the better faction. The writing was better, the quests were better, the design was better. All well and good, but this doesn’t really touch on why the Dark Brotherhood is better. It wasn’t until I watched Mumbles’ video that I realized what makes the Dark Brotherhood stand out.

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 2)

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 2)

For a faction that focuses on contract killing and conspiracy, the Dark Brotherhood is the last place one would expect to find quests that really resonate with the player. We’re introduced to characters—clients, targets, and assassins alike—and we can sympathize with them. We can see why most of our clients want their targets dead. We can see that our targets are not simply targets, but are people with their own lives. Our fellow Dark Brothers and Dark Sisters each have their own stories that brought them to Astrid’s Sanctuary. It is perhaps the most well crafted faction in all of Skyrim.

We join the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim by investigating a rumor that Aventus in Windhelm wants someone dead. After killing Grelod in Riften, we’re abducted by Astrid and forced to pay for the stolen contract in blood. From there, we’re as good as in with the Brotherhood, having been given access to the last remaining Sanctuary in all of Tamriel.

The funny thing about killing people is that their relatives tend to want revenge. In Oblivion, Lucien Lachance killed Mathieu Bellamont‘s mother; Bellamont joined the Dark Brotherhood and rose to the rank of Speaker in the Black Hand, which is the Brotherhood’s leadership structure. From there, Bellamont conspired to destroy the Brotherhood by using the player as his instrument. The Black Hand is aware of this betrayal from within, and suspects Lachance to be the mastermind of this treachery; the Black Hand kills Lachance.

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 2)

Contract killing can be an ugly business.

In Skyrim, we’re going to find out what happens when you kill the wrong person.

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 1)

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 1)

“Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear.”

In Windhelm, Aventus Aretino is reciting this innocuous chant.  However, locals fear that he is trying to contact the Dark Brotherhood.  As an adventurer, it’s up to the player to investigate these rumors.  Idesa Sadri tells Grimvar Cruel-Sea that what is going on inside of the Aretino Residence is pure evil.  Heading into the house, the truth is far more sinister…

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 1)

Aventus Aretino is a child.

Skyrim: Thieves Guild (Part 2)

Skyrim: Thieves Guild (Part 2)

On Tuesday, I started talking about the Thieves Guild in Skyrim.  Today, I finish talking about the Thieves guild in Skyrim.

To quickly recap: a man approached me in Riften, said I’m thief material, had me rough up some shops, and then sent me to go burn a honey farm.  After that, it was off to Whiterun to poison some mead and then tail an Argonian.  All of this sabotage and subterfuge happened because Maven Blackbriar wants me to investigate her competitors.

At this point, we’re five quests into the Thieves Guild, with a few of the side quests thrown in.  At this point in Morrowind, we would have done all of the entry-level quests for each of the guild branches.  We’d have been introduced to the Fighters Guild as the Guild’s bitter enemies.  We’d have run into the Camonna Tong, which is the Guild’s rival enemy.  In Oblivion, we’d have stolen five items, outsmarted the Imperial Guard three times, and investigated a missing Guild member.  In fact, at this point, we would be entering the end game for the Thieves Guild.

In Skyrim, we’re about to blow the lid on the financier for Maven’s competition.  Considering that the cost of making games has gone up, Skyrim can not have as many quests Morrowind did; following the example Oblivion set, we’re about to start the end game for the guild.  We’re going to find Karliah, discover where she got her wealth from, and what her plans are.

Skyrim: Thieves Guild (Part 1)

Skyrim: Thieves Guild (Part 1)

Writing about Skyrim is something of a challenge.  Sit down and play it, and then when you stop you’ve missed lunch and dinner, and people are waking up to go to work.  It steals your time.  After investing over 200 hours into Skyrim, I think it’s about time I wrote something about it.  Let’s talk about the Thieves Guild.

I had trouble joining the Thieves Guild, because nobody would tell me where to go or what I needed to do.  I stole some stuff, got caught, went to jail, but nobody contacted me.  That’s how things start in Oblivion; it’s a tad counter-intuitive that the Thieves Guild would seek out people who got caught, but whatever.  I visited taverns in Whiterun, Windhelm, and Solitude, seeking out members of the Guild that I could talk to and join that way; to join in Morrowind, you just have to visit a Guild contact and do a small errand for them to prove that you can, in fact, steal things.

I guess things really have changed in the 200 years since Morrowind and Oblivion took place, huh?

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