You know, I may be a bit harsh against Skyrim. It’s not like they have nothing that I find fascinating or impressive. The music is great. The scenery is spectacular. But the thing that will never cease to amaze me is their ability to never miss an opportunity, to miss an opportunity.
Case of point: The Giants.
The Giants, to me, are pretty much unique in this game.
Let’s say you’re walking through the wilderness of Skyrim, or across the great plains.
Suddenly, you see a pack of wolves. The wolves see you.
Question: What happens?
Answer: The wolves attack.
Let’s say a bear sees you. What happens?
Answer: the bear attacks.
A Skeever? It attacks. A troll? It attacks. A dragon? It attacks. Atronachs, Vampires, Bandits, Forsworn, Hagravens, Spriggans, Altmer soldiers, mages of any kind? They all attack. Some may insult you first, but they all attack. All of them with little to no provocation.
Then you see a Giant, herding a pack of mammoths. The Giant sees you. Does he attack?
He looks at you, and goes on his merry way.
There are only three instances when a Giant will attack you.
1) Attack him.
2) Attack one of his mammoths.
3) Trespass on his territory.
And even then, if you do go into their territory, does the Giant attack?
No, he warns you!
He waves with his club, stamps his feet and gives every single possible indication to “STAY THE FUCK AWAY!”
If you comply, he goes back to doing what he was doing.
And this is ONLY at their camps. They don’t warn you when you approach their mammoths. Not when you approach them. But when you go into their camps, they warn you to stay away. If you then refuse to listen, THEN they will attack.
Now, with that in mind, let’s say you walk into an inn, looking for work. The bartender tells you that the Jarls men stopped by with a bounty letter.
The letter states that the Giant at Steamcrag Camp has been killing people, and that the Jarl is paying for the Giants death. (And yes, it is only ever bounties on Giants who live in camps, areas that are officially sanctioned as their territories)
With the information the game has supplied, what does that letter say to you?
Because to me, it says someone saw a 3.5 m tall, blue-grey man, carrying what’s essentially a tree trunk with a rock tied to it….
AND THEY DECIDED THIS WAS SOMEONE THEY WANTED TO ANNOY.
Maybe they decided to try their hands on mammoth tipping, maybe they wanted to take some potshots at the giant, or perhaps they were part of one of the many factions that decide that this land belongs to them by right, and that they walk where they please and hey, the giant is probably bluffing anyway.
Whatever the reason, I’m not going to blame the Giant.
But the thing that drives me insane about the Giants is that, beyond bounty notes, they have no purpose in the game! They are completely wasted! They’re treated as bothersome pests. NOBODY shows the slightest interest in them!
Here’s an idea. How about establishing some contact with them?
Dave: Why would you want to do that?
Oh, I don’t know… how about the MASSIVE, FLYING MONSTERS OF FROST-AND/OR-FLAMESPEWING DEATH AND DESTRUCTION?!
Like I said in the previous chapter, a single Giant, with nothing but a loincloth and a stick, can beat a dragon in a one-on-one fight.
Two of them can beat a frost dragon. And none of them wears anything more than animal skin for protection!
Imagine, for a moment, what a Giant in plate mail, wielding a sword might do.
Imagine, if you will, that every city in Skyrim had five or six armoured Giants each.
Suddenly, those dragons don’t seem like much of a problem, do they?
Dave: Maybe, but how would you do that? The Giants are idiots! It’s not like they understand trading, ownership or even language.
The Giants understand status. We know this, since they collect trophies, in the form of animal skulls.
They have a system of ownership. We know this, because they mark their mammoths, by engraving their tusks. They will also mark their cows by painting them.
They may well have a religion, since they’re covered in scars in the form of symbols.
Either that, or it’s another sign of status.
(You know what might be a good way to find out for sure? ESTABLISHING A CONNECTION TO THEM AND LEARNING SOMETHING ABOUT THEIR CULTURE!)
And they understand trading. I know this, because during a quest, I SOLD A GOAT TO A GIANT!
And I did it while drunk. Not only drunk, but blackout-and-propose-to-a-hagraven-drunk.
And I still managed to sell a goat to a Giant. I was never informed what I sold it FOR, which meant I had to steal it back. And it’s only because of a glitch that I managed to do so without killing the Giant.
But the point is, they either understand gesticulating or language, so much so that a drunk could make themselves understood, and sell them something.
Dave: Ok, but what else do they have to offer? What if we don’t want superstrong soldiers?
Well, first of all, you’re an idiot if you don’t want them as soldiers. But let’s look at the other things they have to offer, shall we?
They herd mammoths. Mammoth ivory is valued by jewellers all over the empire. They also make mammoth cheese, one bowl of which is about as nourishing as a cooked beef, horse haunch or a mammoth steak. And unlike all of those, the cheese doesn’t need to be prepared in any way. And they make that in vats of about 30 litres at a time.
Oh, and they also have mammoth meat and hides.
Let’s go a step further. Imagine that, instead of herding, they could do farming? Imagine the size of a field, ploughed by a mammoth? Or the amount of supplies a mammoth could carry? Mammoth-powered machinery? I’m sure you can think of more uses for big, strong elephants.
Then there’s basic man power. Giants building houses, working mines, cutting trees, clearing roads?
Teach them trades. Imagine a Giant working as a mason, or a blacksmith?
How many expeditions into Dwemer ruins have been halted because of tunnels collapsing? Oh, if only they had some very strong people with them who could help clear away the rubble and protect them against things like… oh, I don’t know, THE DWARVEN CENTURIONS!?
This isn’t hard!
They have scholars going through ruins of the Dwemer, a race that pretty much combines Steampunk with Josef Mengele. A race that captured, tortured and genetically altered the Falmer (Snow elves) into hideous, insane, blind monsters and they’ve been dead for hundreds of years.
There are scholars who are studying the language of the aforementioned Falmer, a race who’s only goal is to destroy all life above ground!
And yet nobody has ever thought of trying to learn the Giants language, a people who are
A) still around and B) Not out to destroy humanity?!
They’re spending years, if not decades, trying to chronicle civilizations long dead, completely ignoring the civilizations RIGHT OUTSIDE THEIR FUCKING FRONT DOOR!
Imagine that as a quest! Establishing a contact with the Giants! I can paint the scenario right now! Once the civil war is over (and don’t worry, I’ll get to that) you’re charged by the High King to make peace with the Giants.
You’re told to bring a chest of materials to Whiterun, and ask Eorlund Gray-Mane to make a big, heavily decorated battle axe from the materials. You then bring the axe to the Giant Chieftain as a peace offering.
If this were me, and this game was worth a crap as an RPG, this is where a high intelligence-score would come in handy. You’d have to communicate without being able to speak the same language. Maybe you could go the “gesture and body language” route, or you could try and learn the language then and there?
That done, the chieftain will allow academics to visit and learn the language.
This pretty much writes itself!
But no, we can’t have that. We need to make room for really important things. We have to make sure the graphics are good! We need to make sure the world looks pretty.
The Giants aren’t important. There’s nothing useful or interesting we could do with them. They’re only useful after they’re dead, because we can take their toes and make potions out of them. I mean, if they did anything else with them, it’d mean putting some effort into the writing, And we can’t have that in an RPG, can we? Just shut up and look at the shiny, jingling keys- uh, I mean the pretty scenery.