Category Archives: About Ymelda

About Ymelda

Skyrim has taken a departure from its forebears in that stats and classes have been done away with, in an effort to prevent the fiddly and broken levelling up system that both Morrowind and Oblivion featured.

As such, there are no character stats – no scores for Strength, Intelligence, that kind of thing. There are simply skills, which improve directly through use. When you’ve levelled up any skills enough, you reach a new level, and can choose an increase in either stamina (running, fighting), magicka (casting spells), or health (not being dead). It also gives you one point that will grant a perk of your choice. Perks are special bonuses that give you abilities related to a specific skill (e.g: a perk in the archery skill might give your arrows a chance to stun an enemy, while a perk in the Alchemy skill might allow you to make potions with fewer ingredients). Having a higher skill level allows you to choose ‘better’ perks, but otherwise, you’re free to choose whatever perk you like.

All this in theory means more flexibility and more natural levelling, so players can do whatever they feel like without being forced into developing their character in a particular way. It’s also more interesting, in my opinion, to have more advanced abilities unlockable, rather than levelling up just meening you have bigger numbers.

Of course, that’s all in theory. It’s too early to see how well it works in practice. In any case, the effect is that choosing a character comes down to picking a race and gender. Each race starts with different skill levels, however the difference isn’t insurmountable, so a naturally magic-inept race could become a powerful magic user – it’d just take longer.

Now that all that’s out of the way, meet Ymelda.

Ymelda is a Redguard. Redguards are broadly skilled fighters, with a tiny hint of magic. There are many other races, but the differences aren’t very important here. As the main background of Skyrim is that a rebellion/civial war is brewing, this might be relevant: Skyrim is the homeland of the Nords, who are essentially the Vikings as viewed through English eyes – rough and rude fighters and little else. Imperials are Romans – fancy talkin’ merchants and straight-laced fighter types. These two groups, broadly speaking, are opposed. The Redguard homeland, Hammerfell, borders them both.

I know humans are boring, but I went for Redguard because… well, look at her. Hers is not a face that invites any nonsense. Would you mug this woman, out in the wilderness, where no-one can hear you fall in the forest? I’d be afraid to aistrike this woman.

To make things more difficult for Ymelda, I have modified all her skills to be slightly lower than the default. She has below average skill in one-handed, block, sneaking, archery, and alchemy, and abysmal skill in everything else.

The Rules

I’m trying to get by, not save the world. Dragons? Yeah, no thanks. Adventures? Unlikely. Bounty hunting, demon slaying, all that sort of business? Do I look like a total idiot? No. I might get involved in the odd bit of excitement here and there, but I’m not some suicidal hero type. I just want to make a living, thanks. With that in mind:

I must eat. How much I must eat will depend on my judgement. The reason for this is simple. Saying “3 items a day” means I could stay alive by eating 3 leaves or carrots a day or whatever, while 3 portions of meat a day might be expensive or not even exist. I do not know. It makes more sense to just, y’know, go with what seems reasonable. Same goes for sleeping. I must sleep. Again, no hard and fast rules, but I’ll be sensible.

No obvious stealing. Bethesda’s last several games allowed theft, and made it so easy that money swiftly becomes meaningless, and one can steal anything and everything without consequence. As I’m unfamiliar with Skyrim, however, I can’t rule out theft outright. So I’ll limit it to what’s necessary, and what it seems reasonable that I could get away with. The bucket trick, for example, is off limits.

I must walk, not run. Exceptions obviously apply if I’m in danger or need to catch up with someone, etc. I can’t fast travel, but I can pay for carriage between major towns, if I can afford it.

I can’t use the map. At all. I have no idea where anything is in Skyrim, and neither does Ymelda. All navigation must be done by landmarks, memory, and any directions I might be given.

I must stay alive. As usual, once I’m dead, I’m dead. I’ll be keeping some saved games in case of bugs, crashes, and fat-fingered idiocy on my part, but otherwise, no reloads.

Now, without mods (as it’s so soon after release), I can’t put systems in place to make Ymelda’s life difficult. Fortunately, as her creator and tormenter-in-chief, I can instead imbue her with certain moral principles, and blame them on her heritage or stupid family traditions or something. So here we go:

Ymelda does not rob the fallen. Stealing from the dead is unbecoming of a gentleman (if you know what game this is a reference to, you win the right to buy me a drink), and that includes the only very recently dead. I may make an exception to this for arrows and food/healing items if I’m desperate. Intelligent animals are included. What counts as ‘intelligent’ will be played by ear, as I don’t know what I’ll be encountering. It also includes the undead – they were alive once.

Ymelda is not religious, but she does respect the gods and the dead. Graverobbing and the like are forbidden.

Relatedly, I will be ignoring any gold or jewels I find in animals. Why or how a wolf would have a gemstone and 5 gold about its person I do not know. So I’ll pretend it doesn’t happen.

As for the rest… well. I may have to make up some new rules as I go along, depending on what I find. Remember: I’m going into this almost completely blind.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Okay. I’m not going into great detail here. Skyrim is an open-world RPG released just last week to massive fanfare (and it appears astronomical sales). Almost everyone who’s at all into games is currently either playing it, wishing they were playing it, or wishing everyone they know would shut up about it.

Therefore I won’t go overboard, because either you know already or you’re sick of it. In short, it’s the latest in a long-running series of games going back to 1994, which become enormously succesful in 2002 with Morrowind. Come 2006, Oblivion was released across PC, 360 and PS3, to much acclaim, as well as much criticism, particularly from fans unhappy with its difference from Morrowind.

Its creators, Bethesda, went on to make Fallout 3, which I’ve already talked about.

The relative merits of all three of these (ignoring the older games, spin-offs and add-ons for simplicity’s sake) have been debated more often and at greater length than the UK’s relationship with the EU (sub please insert condescending ‘state of the world’ remark here), so I’ll leave that well alone, but suffice to say that Bethesda promised many improvements to the features of Oblivion and to a lesser extent Fallout 3 with which so many fans were unhappy.

Skyrim is set in … er, Skyrim. The homeland of the Nords, which is currently on the brink of a rebellion against the empire, which in turn covers the whole known world (although each race has its own province that retain their titles – presumably they get some sort of devolved parliament or something. I don’t know – if you’re that interested in the game’s background you probably know already). It’s also the place where the return of ancient, evil dragons has been prophecised to happen by the eponymous Elder Scrolls. And wouldn’t you know it, just as the player arrives, one of the buggers goes and appears. Typical.

I will of course be exploring this by being as un-heroic and adventure-neutral as is reasonably possible. Well, I don’t want to get hurt, do I?

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