Skyrim is one of the greatest adventure RPGs of all time, without a doubt. In typical Bethesda first person RPG tradition, the game is deeply engrossing to the point of being dangerous; the world is beautiful and rich, quests are excellently crafted and fun, and combat is about as fluid as two marionettes trying to slap box while their hands are encased in concrete.
The game continues to be so mind-blowing that Bethesda recently announced plans to give it VR support on Playstation. A game like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim only comes around every few years, usually when Bethesda decides to release another game.
With a world as deep as an Elder Scrolls game’s, it’s near impossible to find and see everything on a single playthrough, let alone multiple runs. There are some secrets so deeply buried in video games that it takes most veterans hundreds of hours to find them all.
Regardless of how many hours weary travelers may have put into Skyrim, there are some things that even the most seasoned player has no idea about. Some of these are creepy and disturbing, while others are downright cool, requiring serious effort to discover them all. The game is so massive and dense that a few of these secrets slipped under the Dovahkiin’s radar, even though they’re the chosen one and all.
Ready your steed, because here are the 15 Things You NEVER Knew You Could Do In Skyrim.
15. Smut, Ahoy!
Scattered around Skyrim are a number of books that can be read, sold, and even used to imbue skill points in a particular area of study. Most adventurers in Skyrim seem to have a common approach to books; ones that can be read for skills are opened and closed instantly, the rest are never touched.
Aside from expanding the lore of the world, providing skill points, and touching on inside jokes or Easter eggs, there is a series of books that are of a much more dubious use.
The Lusty Argonian Maid and Sultry Argonian Bard are two entries in a rather hilarious series of erotic novels read by the residents of Skyrim. The former of the two is split into two volumes focusing on Lifts-Her-Tail, an Argonian chambermaid being pursued by her master through a series of baking-related sexual puns.
The latter of the two is focused on Croon-Tail, a well-endowed bard that is worried about damaging his “instrument.” It’s good to see that even in Skyrim, people are into exotic material that’d be at home on any grocery store bookshelf.
14. The Hidden Dragon
In the dank recesses of Blackreach, there is a massive orange lantern hanging in the main chamber. Like a lot of the more grand and intricate environment design pieces in Skyrim, gamers are naturally curious as to the lantern’s actual use; perhaps as a catalyst in an environmental puzzle, as a hazard used to down foes, or just as an expertly designed detail to engross players in Blackreach.
Turns out that the gargantuan lantern is used to summon a hidden dragon after players “Fus-Ro-Dah” it.
Most likely the byproduct of a bored adventurer’s experimenting, the hidden dragon in Blackreach can only be summoned by shouting at the large lantern suspended in the main chamber.
Imagine the surprise of the first player who shouted at the fixture expecting some kind of physics display or environmental advantage, only to move on and be ambushed by a particularly pissed off dragon moments later.
13. Sleepy Hollow Isn’t On The Map…
Skyrim is an absolutely gorgeous game, especially at night. The night sky– peppered with stars and kissed with the glowing ribbons of aurora– can turn any late night adventure through Skyrim into one of the most beautiful in-game experiences that gamers can have. That is, until they’re approached by the headless horseman…
The first time that gamers encounter the headless phantom, most will instantly pull their sword or start casting whatever spells are handy; after all, ghosts are an enemy type in the Elder Scrolls series.
However, after allowing players an introductory glance, he’ll take off without so much as a word. Follow him and players end up in Hamvir’s Rest, where a few skeletons and a draugr will do their usual “trying to kill the Dovahkiin,” routine.
Adventurers that pay particular attention to the world’s Bards and their song “Ragnar The Red”, which mentions Ragnar’s head being lopped off, may have already figured out the headless horseman’s identity, although some chalk it up to a shout-out at Sleepy Hollow.
12. Explosive Arachnids
DLC usually adds a little more playability onto a main game; a new weapon here, a minor storyline to follow there, and some exclusive backstory or fleshing out of a character, and gamers consider their money well spent in this day and age.
Bethesda is no exception to this, even going so far as to charge gamers for the privilege of having their horses wear armor, one of the most heinous examples of useless DLC in gaming history.
However, they hit the bull’s eye when they dreamed up living spider bombs as part of the Dragonborn DLC. In the depths of White Ridge Barrow, gamers can find an imbuing chamber that allows the combination of spider eggs and elemental gems to create spiders that inflict elemental damage, or become skittering proximity bombs.
11. The Endless Quiver
Assassins in the Dark Brotherhood and sticky fingered members of the Thieves Guild may find that arrows can become a serious pain in the butt when stalking their targets, dealing with a random threat encountered during a quest, or adventuring in general.
Sure, they’re easily picked up from a local merchant, looted from corpses of enemies, or found in chests in large quantities. But, when higher-level enemies have to be taken down from a distance, finding or crafting high damage arrows can become a task all on its own. Unless said Dovahkiin knows how to exploit the many practicing archers in Skyrim, yielding all the free arrows that they could ever want.
The many encampments in Skyrim always have a line of archers absentmindedly plugging arrows into targets. Pickpocketing an archer of his or her arrow type and replacing it with the arrow of the Dovahkiin’s choice will cause them to shoot that type of arrow. All Dovahkiin has to do then is watch archery practice and collect the spent arrows at their leisure.
10. Feathers Aren’t Just For Stuffing Mattresses
Potions that cure diseases in Skyrim can be a bit hard to come by and a bit of a pain to craft, especially when a character already has a disease that makes them less effective in combat, or unable to travel efficiently over the rough terrain of the Nord’s homeland.
When adventuring, contracting a nasty case of the Rattles or Rockjoint can make awkwardly jumping up the steep sides of mountains particularly difficult. If gamers ever find themselves stricken with an ailment in the wilds of Skyrim, all they have to do is look to the skies.
One of the main ingredients in a potion of cure disease is Hawk Feathers, plucked from hawks that can be shot out of the sky. Since the main attribute of Hawk Feathers as an alchemical ingredient is “Cure Disease,” simply eating the feathers (that is what’s happening when they’re used, right?), will cure any ailment contracted in the wild.
9. Now That’s Good Service
Taverns of all sizes litter the landscape in Skyrim; they’re a congregating spot for the locals, offer rooms for rent, and serve a variety of Skyrim’s many foods and beverages. Most adventurers will approach the counter when they enter a tavern, haggling with the barkeep in the same fashion as any in-game merchant. However, taverns offer a surprisingly intricate feature that gamers have to slow down to experience.
Instead of approaching the counter, gamers making a leisurely pit stop in one of the game’s many taverns should take a seat instead. Sitting at the bar, on a bench, or at a table, will usually lead the barkeep to call out for a waitress, who will come over and provide the food and drink, much like a real restaurant.
8. The Thieves Guild Secret Language
Traveling around the varied locale of Skyrim, most players will happily saunter right past this next feature. In a variety of locations throughout the world, players can find strange symbols carved into walls, doorways, and caves.
Easily mistaken for a design choice or some meaningless scribble meant to add character to a location, these marks are actually the Thieves Guild secret language.
Known as Shadowmarks, these symbols are the Thieves Guild’s secret language that let members communicate with each other without ever speaking a word. The Thieves Guild has signs that mean everything from letting members know where to pawn their stolen loot, to warning of impending danger.
7. Long Live The Emperor
The Dark Brotherhood is one of the most beloved factions in Skyrim– after all, it does offer the closest experience to being an assassin in a fantasyland full of dragons and magic. If players rise to the rank of Listener within the Brotherhood, the quest “To Kill An Empire” and “Hail Sithus!” can be completed, where the Listener is tasked with killing Emperor Titus Mede II, the current ruler of Tamriel.
Emperor Mede is visiting Skyrim by ship, which must be infiltrated before players can inflict the final blow. Once aboard, kill a few sailors and agents, get duped into killing a decoy, and be greeted by the actual Emperor, who accepts his death willingly.
Kind of anticlimactic in a depressing way, it is pretty neat to consider that Bethesda lets you assassinate an Emperor. Although it doesn’t have much of an effect on the world of Skyrim, some guards will talk to you about it if asked. Plus, 20,000 gold never hurt anyone.
6. Achy Breaky Heart
The Forsworn are a real pain in the neck when players are traversing the windingly beautiful paths of Skyrim. One minute it’s lovely score and butterfly wings, the next minute it’s half naked barbarians dressed up as deer chasing you down, screaming about how “the Reach belongs to us,” as if the Dovahkiin went and sought them out.
In the midst of battling half naked deer people, the Dovahkiin will usually run into a Forsworn Briarheart, essentially the leaders of the pockets of Forsworn. Briarhearts can be a serious pain in the butt, even at higher levels but especially when encountered in groups.
However, there’s one handy trick that any gamer can have up their sleeve in order to saw the antlers off a Forsworn Briarheart: just steal his heart. Not in the metaphorical sense, where the Dovahkiin stands outside of the spiked walls of a Forsworn fortress and serenades the Birarheart with a boom box held over his head and Peter Gabriel’s sweet pipes doing the talking for him.
5. Choose Your Own Adventure
The Elder Scrolls games are well known and loved in the gaming community for a lot of reasons: the open, seemingly organic world to explore, the rich lore seeped into every character and corner… there is no shortage of reasons that the Elder Scrolls series is so beloved in the gaming world.
One of the elements that is often taken for granted, or labeled as filler, is the many readable books littering the world. One book in particular is very interesting, especially for gamers that were raised on “choose your own adventure” books.
Kolb and the Dragon: An Adventure For Nord Boys is homage to the genre that influenced a whole generation of kids, convincing them that choices are fun, exciting, and can be reversed by flipping back a few pages (they sadly can not).
It is a classic fantasy romp set in the Skyrim universe, following a Nord warrior and his shenanigans with enemies and concepts familiar to any Skyrim fan. Considering that the book is scattered all over the world, there is little reason to not read through Kolb and the Dragon at least once, if not multiple times.
4. “You Are My Last Challenge”
Reaching the higher levels in Skyrim can make the game start to feel a bit stale, even when modding turns every dragon into Macho Man Randy Savage, the Dovahkiin becomes Link, and every NPC becomes a busty, bikini clad anime character.
Even installing DLC can only take you so far– becoming a vicious vampire lord is only fun for so long. After hitting level 80, most players may have hesitantly reached for the power button, thinking back on the significant portion of life that they contributed to force shouting Dunmer off cliffs. That is, until the Ebony Warrior shows up, informing the Dovahkiin that they can finally duke it out.
Armed with a laundry list of skills and immunities, the Ebony Warrior also has a few shouts up his sleeve that make him an incredibly formidable foe, even for a high-level player. It’s pretty neat that Bethesda crafted an epic fight on the side of a mountain between two bored adventurers as one of the higher-level quests in the game.
3. Lights Out!
Lighting in video games is usually used the same way as light in the real world, essentially in to allowing dark spaces to be visible. Sometimes, games use lighting as a way to show off graphical prowess with a new engine or system. Skyrim actually uses lighting in the game world to affect gameplay in a more direct way than most gamers would guess.
Slinking around in the darkness and stalking enemies is made considerably more difficult in well lit areas; if would be assassins are having trouble, extinguishing a few torches in the area will make hooded figures harder to see.
Some locks can be particularly difficult to pick without a high lock picking level, so equipping a torch and approaching a troublesome lock will actually make picking it easier. While some developers just see light as a way to show off a systems graphical capabilities, Bethesda integrated the concept of light into Skyrim as an environmental tool, adding to the numberless points of evidence that show how much detail is actually sewn into an Elder Scrolls game.
2. No Shortage Of Homages
The Elder Scrolls games are well known for their inclusion of Easter eggs that allude to a cornucopia of gaming, movie, and pop culture series.
A display of food is set up in a house in Markarth to resemble Pac-Man eating Pac Dots. A pickaxe at the top of the Throat Of The World is named Notch, after the creator of Minecraft. Additionally, a display case in Volkihar Keep contains a set of items identical to the ones Simon Belmont must destroy in order to defeat Dracula in Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest.
The references are so numerous, we could make a list just dealing with the subject. One thing can be gleamed from Bethesda’s fond tradition of nodding to their favorite series and games; if a conversation, location, or item give players a since of déjà vu, it’s most likely because it’s one of the Elder Scrolls expertly crafted Easter eggs.
1. A Hamlet Of Daedra Worshippers
The small village of Rorikstead doesn’t look like much from an initial glance– a few houses, an inn, and some farmland. The villagers seem nice enough and the village has a quiet demeanor, apart from the Forsworn that usually attacks an adventurer on their first trip in.
However, still waters run deep as they say, and the small farming hamlet of Rorikstead in no exception, especially when most players consider the isolated village to be a covenant of Daedra worshippers.
Every building in Rorikstead contains soul gems and books on Daedra worship and conjuring, which is a pretty obvious clue. Two of the residents can be heard discussing the teaching of magic, ending with the teacher telling her pupil to button up before an outsider is able to “know their secret.”
The village is also reported as having unusually fertile soil and successful crops, a trend that most Skyrim conspiracy theorists attribute to the worship of Daedra and other dark forces of Oblivion.
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