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!