Please read this first.

Welcome! This blog is devoted to considerations of morality in the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda. Rather than a fansite, review, or walkthrough, it is a serious attempt to examine the game through a moral lens. Please note that the purpose of this blog is to discuss morality within the context of the game, not to determine whether playing the game is immoral in and of itself; the latter type of "discussion" tends toward tedium and inhibits, rather than promotes, a meaningful conversation.

If you have not visited this blog before, it might be helpful to read the posts labeled "Orientation," most of which are the first few entries in the blog archive (see right). These posts include a short introduction to this project, a content-specific author bio, and a few other pieces that explain key concepts relevant to this study. These posts are of particular use to those readers less familiar with Skyrim (or video games in general).

PLEASE NOTE: HERE BE SPOILERS!

If you have visited this blog before, thanks and welcome back!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Unbound (Katnyss)



Playing as Katnyss differed immediately from playing as Lothar.  While both of them faced execution at the hands of the Empire, Lothar was a loyal subject in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Although he had no wish to die like a criminal, it was relatively easy for him to forgive Imperial hypervigilance, especially in light of Hadvar’s assistance.  Katnyss, on the other hand, had lost everything because of the Empire: her homeland, her parents, and now her sister, whom she had managed to protect through all prior hardships.  As she laid her head down on the chopping block, she was ready to die, as there was nothing left for her on Nirn.  Alduin’s attack not only freed her from execution, but also liberated her to pursue a new goal: the total destruction of the Empire.  After all, she had nothing left to lose.

Naturally, I followed Ralof this time and relished the opportunity to kill Legionnaires as we escaped Helgen.  After Helgen, however, she had little interest in accompanying the fugitive Stormcloak to Riverwood, so she went her own way in search of shelter.  Before long, she found Pinewatch and broke in, hoping to find a place to stay for the night and perhaps some supplies; instead, she found a nest of bandits.  I was now faced with the first unpremeditated moral decision of this playthrough: kill the bandits or leave them be.

Whereas Lothar routinely kills bandits because bandits prey on the innocent, Katnyss has no sense of obligation to protect the citizenry of a foreign country.  She does, however, have an obligation to avenge her sister…one she cannot fulfill if she is dead.  She knew they were bandits, she knew that if she were caught, she would likely be killed, and, perhaps most controversially for this blog, she had no moral obligation to not kill them.  These bandits were not her people, nor did they provide any benefit for her people, so preemptively killing them was not wrong.  She managed to pick them off with the bow she grabbed during the Helgen fiasco, and proceeded to clear out the caverns, fueled in large part by her rage and grief over her sister’s death.

After ransacking the bandit lair, Katnyss headed for Riverwood the next morning; Skyrim was going to be a tough place for a lone Dunmer, so perhaps she needed to join up with Ralof after all.

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