As I survey the room I don’t like what I see. Two Restless Draugr are on either side of me, but I think I can take them out without too much fuss. The real problem lies down below, as two Scourges and a Deathlord mull about, and I can’t get a clear bead on any of them. I take a deep breath and lodge an arrow deep in the neck of the Dragur to my left. He goes down, but now the others are curious, and they start to shuffle over to see what’s happened. I drop the other Restless Draugr as he shambles past, with an ebony arrow to the gut, but then a Scourge spots me, and all hell breaks loose.
I switch from my bow to a mace, but my One-Handed skill isn’t great, and my strikes aren’t knocking off much health. I try a Flame spell, but my Destruction magic is even weaker than my melee, and I think all I manage to do is tickle the advancing horde. Had I continued to build my Skyrim character the way I originally planned then this encounter would have been easy; I could just pull out a greatsword and hack away until my enemies laid in pieces. Somehow along the way I became a master of stealth and shadow, and as I struggle to survive I briefly think how much easier this would be if I just started over with a brand new character, but I won’t ever do that. I love my roguish Wood Elf too much, warts and all.
Coming into Skyrim I had every intention of playing as a loud, brash hero who charged headlong into the breach with armor shining and warhammer swinging. In the character creation screen I should have chosen to play as an Orc or Nord, but I remembered that stealth was a huge part of Oblivion, and I wanted to be able to complete Thieves’ Guild and Dark Brotherhood quests without too much difficulty. That led me to play as a Wood Elf, even though it seemed out of character for a member of that race to be such a brazen fighter. “No matter,” I figured, “If nothing else he’ll be unique.”
My first ten levels went pretty much according to plan, as I poured points into my Two-Handed, Heavy Armor and Blacksmithing skill trees. The problem was that I wasn’t having that much fun, and the only time I was really enjoying combat were those rare moments when instead of bullrushing enemies I sat back in the trees with a bow and tried to pick them off one at a time. Considering my character build I wasn’t having great success, but the first time I nailed a bandit and took him out with one shot I was hooked. Suddenly I knew how I wanted to play Skyrim, and it wasn’t as a one-man wrecking crew.
At this point what I should have done was fire up a new game, recreate my character and immediately start training to be a feared dealer of silent death. It’s what all my friends had done, restarting the game twice, three times or more until they knew exactly what sort of character they wanted. I thought about it for a long while, but I just couldn’t do it. In no other game had I ever created a character who was so imperfect, so restless, so much like me.
Growing up I had no idea what I wanted to be as an adult. Like any kid I was going to be a doctor, a fighter pilot, an astronaut and a fire fighter in turn, but even into high school I wasn’t sure where I’d end up. Heading off to college I thought I had settled on lawyer, but after a single pre-law class I knew that was out. When I graduated I figured I was headed into politics, but that world was so slimy and sleazy that I couldn’t stand to be a part of it.
Since that time I’ve moved around and taken on several jobs, trying to figure out what I’m good at and where I belong. It’s a familiar tale for most of us, and it made me relate to my cobbled together Wood Elf all the more. It took him 10 levels to figure out what he liked, and the next 40 to become an expert. For me the process is ongoing, but I like to think I’ve found my skills, at this point I just need to hone them. I may be a bit farther along, perhaps level 15, but there’s still plenty of time left before I hit the cap.
In a way my character is my inspiration, and I can’t even fathom scrapping him and starting over. I needed time to figure out who I was, and he deserved the same fate. Throwing it all out to restart with a “good” character is not only unfair, it’s unnatural. No one is born knowing what they’re meant to become, why should my Wood Elf be any different?
Back in the Draugr-filled tomb I switch to my ebony greatsword and prepare to bring the pain. Even though I probably could have taken these guys down more effectively with a bow they haven’t really left me a choice. Suddenly I’m glad I wasted all that time leveling up my Two-Handed skills, otherwise this fight might have been unwinnable. As the Deathlord falls and I start my looting I cant help but grin, who would have thought a little old Wood Elf would be so handy with such a big a sword?