O Skyrim


I’ve been playing Skyrim again. Or technically, I’ve been modding Skyrim in preparation for playing it, but either way, I decided to revisit my favourite characters, therefore it’s the perfect time to make good on my promise and collect them into a post. I apologise to anyone who doesn’t play or care about the game, because this will be incomprehensible!

When I play Skyrim, I create a single world state with a varied cast. I don’t like to have my character discover they’re the exclusive Dragonborn, and also rule all the guilds, and also just haaaappen to be the especial avatar of half the deadric lords. I like to have one Dovahkiin, and one Thieves Guild leader, and one College of Winterhold student, etc.

This used to involve a lot of internal editing for quest redundancies, but now there are some very helpful mods. Skyrim Unbound lets you turn off the main story entirely, including word walls and dragon soul absorption. Timing is Everything lets you defer a bunch of prominent quests. So I tweak the settings for each character, and it works out surprisingly well.

As proof of concept, my first character, Winter (above), isn’t involved in any factions or major quest-lines. She’s more of a general explorer: she dungeon delves in search of power-sources, and collects arcane whatnots. She’s totally opposed to joining the College of Winterhold, so when she wants to buy high level spells, she has to sneak through the back entrance (which isn’t meant to be used, and involves a lot of awkward, repeated hopping to get up the slope to reach the door.) I have a whole story worked out for her, where she was raised in the Blackwood swamps of Cyrodiil by an old Argonian mage called the Tarn Witch, who has now sent her up to Skyrim to meddle in affairs and tweak events as they unfold. I imagine that Winter, herself, isn’t sure whether she’s making her own decisions or following her mother’s indirect bidding. I can’t really play this part out in game, but at some point she settles in Windhelm and plants herself as an advisor and seer for Jarl Ulfric, all the while misdirecting him in subtle ways. Danger and intrigue!


Winter’s main skills are conjuration (necromancy), illusion, alchemy, and enchanting (I wish mysticism was still around, though I get why they cut it). Her inventory might include cards for divination, various weird alchemical ingredients, arcane tomes, etc. All that witchy stuff. Her favourite foods are sweet breads and Argonian wine.


Next is Yrra, my Bosmer archer. I want her to be androgynous, so I had to search for a custom (broad-shouldered and flat-chested) body mesh, and for armor that came close to matching that. Let me tell you, readily available female armor does NOT tend to be androgynous OR flat-chested! Really, I should learn 3D-modelling. Anyway, Yrra is my cannonest canon Dragonborn, and the hero of the civil war to boot. She’s a war orphan from Cyrodiil, and was raised by the nuns of Gottlesfont Priory before spending her early adulthood idling around the Imperial Waterfront district with various ne’er do wells. I make a lot of characters from Cyrodiil, because I played Oblivion so much that every location is dear to me! Anyway, I’ve also given Yrra this cheesy romance side story where she falls in love with a young Thalmor mage. Love across enemy lines – it would make a perfect (terrible) YA novel.


Her main skills are archery, alteration, light armor, and smithing. For her inventory, I have assorted survival and crafting gear, an amulet of Kynareth, a creased up letter from her old mentor (Yrra travels up to Skyrim in search of her, and I’ve modded various related clues into the game). Her favourite foods are rabbit meat and hearty breads (she doesn’t follow the Green Pact, but still veers carnivorous).


My Thieves Guild leader is an argonian called Grey Throat. She’s a godfather-ish figure, or at least she’d like to be. I try to play her differently than I play the above characters – Grey Throat is a city lizard, so she never goes exploring (except into other people’s houses while they’re away), and she travels everywhere by carriage. She mostly sticks to Riften, unless she has business elsewhere; she’s all about making money and living high off the hog. God, I love her! At some point she marries her Argonian lady-love and settles down into a nice, domestic life of delegated crime. Eventually, it’s going to be Grey Throat vs. Maven Blackbriar – there can only be one.


Her main skills are sneak, of course, plus daggers, pick-pocketing, and lockpicking. Some of my other Thief characters reject the whole Nocturnal now rules my soul thing, but Grey Throat is into it. Her inventory would include stolen shinies, forgery supplies, letters of business, and various lush accessories. Her favourite foods are tasty fish and honey snacks.

Other Skyrim-obsessed people will notice that I don’t have a College of Winterhold or Dark Brotherhood or Companion character (I’ve never actually finished the Companions questline). I’m still working out who those are going to be in this world state. Maybe I’ll make a follow-up post when I sort it out.


Filed under Illustration, MTC

16 responses to “O Skyrim

  1. a rogue’s gallery if there ever was one marian!

  2. Colin

    Gosh, I love these drawings. And the “single world state with varied cast” is such a refreshing way to play an RPG — I wish I had thought of it myself. I’d happily read a novel about any of these three!

  3. Amstrad

    Your play-style makes me think there’s likely a market for a persistent world single player RPG where multiple player controller characters can have lasting effects on each other’s playspace. Having one character’s actions as the leader of the thieve’s guild actually be visible to the other character who’s running around doing Dragonborn stuff sounds like it’d be very interesting. I think Dwarf Fortress’s adventure mode does something like this, but that’s obviously a whole other barrel of fish.

  4. Jae

    Lovely bits of backstory, and I adore how in-depth you went on how much modding was needed to make them all work. I think I may just have to reinstall the game and make my elder caster who wants nothing more than to build a happy home full of weird regalia.

  5. Every Skyrim post you make reminds me of all the reasons I love that game. Your “one world game state” idea is really inspiring, and of course your characters are so thought out. I often find myself getting distracted by stuff I just feel curious about in-game, even though I tend to stay in-character with whomever I’m running. Oh, and if you ever feel like sharing your list of mods, I’d love to add some good ones to my own game…

    • Marian

      My list is so long, I’m not sure where to start! It’s too long, actually – they’re all held together with duct tape. A lot of them are the popular choices, though. For instance I’m trying Ordinator for the first time, which re-configures all the perks, combined with the spell mod, “Apocalypse”, and it’s making conjuring and necromancy way more fun.

  6. Wow, I hope the next Elder Scrolls game is this cool. It’s cool that you can explore in so many different directions in Skyrim but at the same time characters get so overpowered pretty quickly. This setup sounds much more immersive!

    • Marian

      Yeah, this is my complaint as well! A lot of my play style involves restricting what certain characters will do, which helps keep them from becoming ridiculous. Also, I have a mod that makes combat harder, and a mod that makes it harder to get rich (Trade and Barter, it’s fantastic), etc.

  7. Beth

    this makes me want to go and play Skyrim… months ago I’d set up my new bard character with the fabulous bard mod and spent ages preparing the follower mods and camping etc, and then I got so exhausted after modding I didn’t want to actually play. Will definitely be playing tonight though!

    • Marian

      Isn’t that bard mod amazing? But yes, I do that all the time – I have to force a break between modding and playing, or I’m too exhausted (and critical of the mods that aren’t quite working) to enjoy the game.

  8. Brittany

    I play Skyrim in much the same way! I like all my characters to come together and work together to get Skyrim in order, since the people who are actually in charge are apparently incompetent. My favorite character typically establishes an adventurers guild and the rest either join or encounter one another as contacts to keep in the back pocket for when time comes to take care of business. I’ve never actually encountered that business tho because hilariously in all my years of playing Skyrim I’ve never bothered with finishing the main questline. Truthfully my main goal in Skyrim has always been buying up all the real estate 😂 and plotting out my slow and steady ruination of Maven Blackbriar’s life while I’m planning my estates.

    • Marian

      I love your adventurer’s guild concept, that is amazing!! I did the same thing with Oblivion – a friend of mind had to sit me down and force me to finish the main quest.

  9. Latecomer here! One of my favorite points in the basic Skyrim game is after the Western Watchtower dragon, but before heading off to climb the 7,000 Steps.

    It’s at that point that my character assembles a team of followers, gathers resources for armor, etc. It’s almost pure sandbox at that point!

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