Feature: Skyrim “Legendary Creatures” DLC
Given the recent release of Skyrim‘s first expansion, Dawnguard, which gives players the ultimate choice between becoming a vampire slayer of the titular Dawnguard, or going all evil and joining the blood-thirsty dark side itself – but, in particular, being a life-long fan of cryptozoology, or the study of hidden animals – there was something that I touched upon quite some time ago in the “Awesome Mods in the Land of Skyrim!” feature that proved to have quite the lasting effect on me…
A subject that simply wouldn’t shake itself from the back of my mind, never ascending to anything more than an enthusiastic paragraph in pertain to a frankly fantastic Giant Mudcrab mod created by Bethesda during the Skyrim Game Jam earlier this year. But only now do I realise exactly why: It was the early workings of an idea that was forming in my subconscious all along.
Hear this: A “Legendary Creatures” DLC pack for Skyrim.
As it turns out, the flames for this feather-light wisp of inspiration were only intensified by that very example, and, although it was pushed to the back of my mind indefinitely, I wouldn’t dare forget about it because, although remaining there merely amongst the shadows, it was always ever-so close to the surface; something that I really wanted to take further and bring into tangible and substanceful fruition at a later date, but simply couldn’t quite plant my finger and expand upon it because undefined requirements of the unknown seemingly weren’t fulfilled. Until now.
“The Giant Mudcrab chitins are on me!”
Very much inspired by the utterly brilliant and (excuse the pun) perfectly executed Legendary Animals in Red Dead Redemption – which were, in effect, no doubt inspired by the myth of a Bigfoot in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – there is simply no denying that Skyrim would be the only true successor (and possibly even overtaker) to this throne of myths and cryptids, only a much deeper, radiating take on the concept would be in order this time around. And, seeing as we’re probably not going to be given the opportunity to travel far and wide to the many as-of-yet unexplored (at least in game form) provinces of Tamriel any time soon, where’s the real harm in bringing the provinces, or at least the spark of some of their wildest and most legendary inhabitants by way of a bounty, to us?
For example, allow me to introduce you to Mahlek Many-Minds, the feral Argonian, just one of my many creations for consideration:
Description: Left to fend for himself in the harsh swamplands of the Black Marsh after being abandoned from birth, Mahlek Many-Minds, as he has become known by the people of Skyrim, never knew anything of the life of the tribal settlements of his native land, sympathising instead with himself, and only himself, through the duration of his life – an upbringing that deprived him not only of language and basic civility, but also his sanity, crumbling his mind to little more than his predatory, primeval Argonian instincts; helped in no part by the scars, both mental and physical, bore from the ordeal of his tumultuous, torturous struggle through the early stages of his life.
It is unknown why he chose to leave the Black Marsh for the land of Skyrim – or how he even managed to make it there in the first place – but the stories surrounding his legend (some true, others not quite) have done nothing to brighten the reputation of his already-reviled species, many of whom grew up around the same time as Mahlek but were forbade any interaction or involvement with him, leaving the sad character shunned even by his own people and considered little more than a loose legend by the people of Skyrim.
Location(s): Exterior of Moonpine Cave/Clearpine Pond (after the Spriggans have been taken care of)/Interior of Ironback Hideout (will charge at the player if startled)
Attributes: Mahlek is fierce, unstable, savage, and, as a result of besting a number of the Black Marsh’s feared Werecrocodiles with little more than his bare hands in fight-or-flight encounters in his youth, is an extremely formidable and unrelenting brute of a fighter, stopping at nothing to completely destroy anyone or anything he views as a threat. Very unpredictable, and prefers charging at his adversaries head-on as opposed to sneaking up on them.
Completely immune to all forms of poison, and has a strong natural resistance to fire damage thanks to his diet of wild Dragon’s Tongue, a flower native to his homeland. He is, however, extremely susceptible to both ice and shock damage, and, wearing little more than a loincloth for protection, takes considerable damage from weapons of physical impact.
Bounty item: The tip of his tail – with its distinctive three-way split – can be removed and turned in for a reward.
A wild Zoidberg appears!
Basically, the legendary creatures on offer are interesting and/or extreme variations of creatures in and around the land of Skyrim, except, unlike their counterparts, they come with the added essence of a legend surrounding them, as opposed to being ‘just another enemy’ to kill. The DLC will become active just as soon as the obligatory update has been installed, and in order to prove to the giver of the bounty that you’ve slain the creature in question, an appendage unique to that being – be it a finger, a toe, or *ahem* otherwise, similar to Fallout 3 – must be looted from their corpse and turned in to the giver of the bounty; and once said unique appendage has been collected from the respective creature, it can then be turned in at a hunter’s residence – possibly a shack added by the DLC – where it’ll be a case of simply talking to the hunter and turning in the quest for a reward. KA-CHING!
The way in which the bounties are presented to you is by means of a random encounter with a courier, not unlike the ones who deliver those “Letter from a Friend” letters, only the letter will be in regards to kicking the shit out of a creature of legend in return for a large sum of money or rare item, as opposed to asking you find the “source of power” in wherever-or-another. Reading the letter will then activate a quest – of which a maximum of two can be in your log at a time, active or inactive – and plant an area marker around the rough area that the creature is located out of a possible three locations (though only one will ever show up as a marker), so you will actually be required to have a little wander through their surroundings, because, in all honestly, being directed slap-bang to the exact location of the creature of myth would just suck, wouldn’t it?
SOME people have to take it just a little too far…
My instincts (not predatorial, unlike our mate Mahlek there) tell me that a maximum of between eight and ten legendary creatures would make the perfect number, and, in keeping with Bethesda game director Todd Howard’s rule of keeping the main Skyrim DLC more story-driven, as opposed to dishing out barrel-loads of content at lax quality, I see it only right to release this DLC as more of a free ‘pack’ – strictly a pack, and in no way a piece of full-blown story-driven expansion – to keep the fans tide over between the release of a future DLC.
There’s the idea, there’s the business model, and that’s pretty much everything that is needed to go on, wouldn’t you say?
Over to you, Bethesda!