Skyrim: Dragonborn DLC, a Christian’s View

Seeker from Bethesda
A Seeker in Apocrypha. Copyright, Bethesda.

The “Dragonborn” addition to the Skyrim video game, which came out earlier this month (December 2012) for XBOX, has – I think – the most “Christian” oriented content overall (in Skyrim, not the other Elder Scroll games).  I wish I had written down certain dialog as I played it with my high-level character, but I simply wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary to takes notes on!  (If I start a new game, it will be some time before I can get to those dialogs again – for now, this commentary without quotes will have to do.)

This latest DLC adds additional land mass via a large island known in the Elder Scroll series as Solstheim.  (Update of Dec. 24:  it appears to be playable from the beginning of a new game, as I went to Soltstheim at level 6, after I fought my first dragon and made my way to Windhelm).  It is no doubt loved by Elder Scroll fans since it brings in elements from Morrowind (the home of the Dunmer, or Dark Elves), and indeed, the flavor of the place is quite a bit different from Skyrim (the home of the Nords).  There are various quests to be found and accomplished, but the main quest involves the defeat of the first dragonborn, Miraak, who still exists after ages because of his service to Hermeus Mora, the powerful spirit being of knowledge and fate.  Miraak desired power and thus made a “pact with the devil” – a safe allusion to Mora and his top minion.   The DLC takes place when Miraak has used his powers to enslave the sleeping minds and bodies of the denizens of Solstheim, whom he is using to build a temple to himself.  Miraak has only a small amount of dialog, but that small amount sounds an awful lot like satanic desires and promises.  In addition, he has his hypnotized followers say things that are a copy, and thus a sick mockery, of true spiritual expression.

What’s interesting, from a Christian-in-the-current-world point of view, is that Hermeus Mora’s realm is called Apocrypha.  (“Apocrypha” are extra-biblical writings of various qualities some are legitimate but have some textual or factual issues, while others are outright forgeries with false “witness”).  It is dark and hazy and is made up of books (literally – the walls are made of books), and all underneath and around walkable areas is a very black sea.  This “sea” has black slithery arms coming out of it all of the time, and they will whip you and hurt you if they can.  The most dangerous creatures that stalk the place look very much akin to the old “creature from the black lagoon.”  The other dangerous creatures are “seekers,” whose hideous appearance includes a lamprey-like mouth where their stomach is.  These seekers of “knowledge” are never satisfied, but devour what their gut desires and not what their heart and mind discerns as true.  This is my take on them, anyway, which I see as the problem with seeking and using secret – usually false – knowledge, and which is the point of this dark and eery place.

When it comes to Christianity, God chose to communicate with man and it was His desire to be known and understood.  Those who purport to have “secret” knowledge of Him in order to steer someone away from God’s revelation, are not working within God’s desires for mankind.

On the other side of the coin are the Skaal of Solstheim.  They are Nords of the ancient way and claim to have been given Solstheim by the All-Maker.  They believe in one creator God, and the way they talk about creation and how we are to be in it, generally fits in with the Judeo-Christian biblical message.  You can have an interesting conversation with Wulf Wild-Blood of the Skaal, who asks you if you can find his run-away brother whom he believes turned into a werebear (like a werewolf, only a bear).  His brother could go down that path only be rejecting the call of the All-Maker.  While the Skaal have beliefs that mesh with scriptures, they have others that do not – they believe in reincarnation.  Conversations with fellow Skyrim players  about how reincarnation doesn’t at all mesh with a loving creator God, and how it is wholly incompatible with Christ’s message and work, is a possible real-world benefit of playing this game.*

If, as a Christian, you will only play games that have pure Christian messages and signs, then Skyrim and Dragonborn aren’t for you.  But if you want to play a game that actually gives a nod to God and certain Judeo-Christian beliefs and virtues in today’s world, then Skyrim is an OK game for that.  I wrote about Skyrim earlier, here.  That review by no means covers all the aspects of Skyrim.  There are things about the game I don’t like and scratch my head at, wondering about the game maker (Bethesda) every time I think of them (there are aspects of the game you can only play if you decide to do bad and dishonorable things).

Hopefully I’ll be able to flush this review out in the future, with quotes and such.  In the meantime, enjoy the Dragonborn and listen to the new leader of the Skaal:  do not follow Hermeus Mora, but follow the path laid out for you (and to the Skaal, this would be by the All-Maker).

* These last two sentences were edited in after the initial posting of this review (12-20-12).

A post that updates, or adds to, this post can be found at Dragonborn DLC Playability and the Skaal Religion.   Thanks!

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8 thoughts on “Skyrim: Dragonborn DLC, a Christian’s View”

  1. Going to start a new game today to see how this new DLC is integrated. I played with the DLC when I was almost all the way done with the game in general. Will do an updated article in the future – hopefully with the quotes that I mention in my post. Feel free to comment here, too, to let us know when the DLC kicks in, or whatever else you would like to share.

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    1. I mention above that I was able to get to Solstheim early in the game, at level 6. I bet you can get there earlier if you only make it to Windhelm earlier in your game. However, I was in Solstheim for a while, with Lydia, and we had good armor and all . . . and your enemies there are generally very high level. It just got way too frustrating fighting the ash spawn and the burnt spriggons to continue on there. There’s one room in the mine where many drauger come out at one time, and Lydian and I could not handle them at all at that level. So, Solstheim is not leveled to you if you’re a lower level character. When I had gone earlier, at level 60-62, I had no problems in that regard.

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  2. Ok, writing a new paragraph since my first one was insensitive. I came across your article while powersurfing for information for a statistical analysis of the general Christian communities’ thoughts about the “Elder Scrolls” games. This is the first one I found where Skyrim content is actually mixed in with Biblical doctrine in order to draw comparisons. I was slightly disturbed because I couldn’t tell, while reading the paragraphs, what was refering to fact and what was fiction. I enjoy discussing fantasy ideas but don’t want to see biblical truths smeared. I want to encourage you to write more but increase the divide between the two.

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    1. You could have read my update, which is given in a link at the end of the article; you could have also read my main article. They talk more specifically about some things. But, this is just a blog post, not a scholarly treatise. I would like to do something along those lines in the future, but it would actually take a lot of work since The Elder Scrolls series is filled with all kinds of books, and many of those contradict each other – on purpose – just as the people do in Skyrim. The game is realistic in that way. Anyway, anyone who plays the game and knows the Bible, would know what is fact and fiction, so I don’t really know what you mean. I also don’t know where you’d find stats on this kind of thing! From what I can tell, not a whole lot of Christians play games, and fewer still will investigate and take seriously themes in games. So, you could ask about what you don’t understand or if I need to clarify something, instead of just being critical. Makes me think you’re not too serious, or at least not very friendly or respectful.

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    2. I am not sure I understand how you could not tell at first what is fact and what is fiction…. then again I do realize that different people read things in a different manner. Perhaps that is where your problem lies. I try to read something a few times, just to get the full meaning out of it, like one would try to read the Bible more than once to understand it better. That point aside, there is a lot of Christian symbolism in the Elder Scrolls games. Having played them all (though haven’t fully beaten one and two) I have seen it. There are many books, many quests, and many conversations to be had with npcs, which will bring one to notice the Christian symbolism. Things like this aren’t always, and can’t always, be obvious and direct. If it were, many players would be turned off, and not play the games, and would not get any message out of them at all.

      I digress.

      Point being, I am not sure I get what you were saying about not being able to tell what was referring to fact and was was fiction. One needs to simply ask, and they will get the answer, should they not know. I can understand a bit, I suppose, where you might be coming from if you were a new believer or a seeker, and had never played the Elder Scrolls before in your life, that would make some sense. If that were true, as I said above, all you would need to do is simply ask. We also have a discussion board, if this format does not take to your liking, as it doesn’t mine, and you could post there to get more answers, and faster IMO. If you would like I could send you the link, and you could sign up and ask there. I would enjoy a good conversation or two. Anyway, on to the point, at what point(s) were you confused or lost track? And how is comparing and contrasting “smearing” Biblical truth.

      Perhaps I have misunderstood what you said, so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong in my assumptions about your comment.

      -Gabrielman

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  3. Skyrim isn’t satanic but some of the content is. Specifically, the dark brotherhood quest line, if followed to completion, contains overt satanic symbolism.
    Just starting the quest line gets you a note with a black left hand (symbolizing the left hand path).
    If you follow the quest line, you’ll find:
    A sanctuary housing “The Night Mother”: a dead mother who has been strangled and her body desecrated after sacrificing her children to the void (Sithis).
    A dead child (the vampire Babette), one of the only brotherhood members who survives to the end of the quest line. She often keeps the night mother company at the front of their sanctuary.
    “Hail Sithis” is used frequently as a greeting.
    The sanctuary ends up in Dawnstar. I’m sure you realize Lucifer means “morning star”.

    How is this Satanic? It’s symbolic.
    -the left hand (path)
    -the strangled, dead mother
    -the dead child
    -Hail Sithis! (Satan)
    -Dawnstar

    All very common satanic ideas/symbolism. I think it’s pretty clear if you’re at all familiar with it.

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    1. I’m not sure that it matters, though, unless you (the person playing) enjoy satanic things. As a role playing game, the player can go along with these things, or not. Just like the real world. The only real difference, that upsets me, is that Bethesda chose to make the game have more to do in it if you play a bad character compared to playing a good character. This is accurate as far as I know. There are extra things to do if you play the dark brotherhood quest and even the thieves guild quests, without having equivalent game play time for players who want to do good things instead. There’s no balancing out, so if you play as a good character you’re not getting as much for your money. I suppose some could argue that the Hearthfire DLC is that since bad characters wouldn’t care about it . . . but it’s a neutral DLC.

      Unlike Oblivion, too, characters don’t even recognize you as savior of the world, and what’s even weirder is that you can be savior of the world and be a horrible character! Nothing matters. Those are the problems that I have with Skyrim, not that it has bad stuff in it that you can fight to get rid of. We should all be doing that in real life. Satan is here, there’re all kinds of demonic things that go on everyday; it’s nothing knew. Do we fight it or ignore it? Of course, as Christians, we pray and rely on God to do the actual spiritual fighting (and we must be patient, too, as the weeds in the church are left in it by God until the end), with our role being to assist in bringing in His Kingdom.

      Oh, and Morning Star refers to Satan in Isaiah 14:12, while Jesus himself says he’s the Morning Star in Rev 22:16. Christ is OUR Morning Star, the real one. Maybe some of the people who wrote Skyrim know more about the Bible than you think.

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