I Think I Started A Civil War

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion screenshot

One very cool thing about Oblivion is that it gives you much more freedom of action than the typical console RPG, but many of your actions have consequences. Break into someone’s house and start taking their stuff (a completely ordinary thing to do in, say, Final Fantasy), and the town guards will bear down on you demanding you pay a fine, go to jail or fight them to the death. After spending hundreds of hours playing Oblivion as a law-abiding “good guy”, I began to ponder living instead as an outlaw — committing crimes without paying my fines, fighting guards that attempted to arrest me, and being chased by soldiers every time I went near a city. After discussing this on the GameFAQs message board for the game (one of the few really good communities on that site) and reading some responses, I decided to give it a try. I figured if I wasn’t having any trouble killing guards for the most part, and it wouldn’t interfere with my remaining quests, it wouldn’t be a problem.

There have been some unintended consequences, however.

One thing I hadn’t counted on was the number of allies I had made during my adventures. I knew from previous experience that some NPCs turn into vigilantes when they see me break the law (I once killed a man in a crowded tavern and got a fatal beatdown from all the other patrons) and might assist the guards. However, I had no idea that others would be coming to my defense — members of the guilds I had joined, people I’ve helped before, and townspeople who apparently just like to fight guards. I first learned this when I was chased by a guard into one of the Mage’s Guilds (don’t remember which town), and the other guild members, all very powerful wizards, ran to the front door and made short work of him. Since then, I’ve figured out that guilds are good places to run to anytime I’m badly outnumbered. However, things have started to spiral out of control…

The city watch led what was pretty much a full-scale invasion of the Anvil fighter’s guild the last time I tried to hide there, and the building is now filled with bodies of both expired guild members and guards. On my last visit to Bruma, the fighting spilled out into the streets so badly that it looked like a full scale riot — almost everyone in town came out of their homes to fight the city watch (both proprietors of the general store are dead), and I swear the countess actually ran out of the castle all the way to the front gate just to punch me in the face.

Pretty much everywhere I go now, there are massive fights in the streets. Bodies are piling up everywhere. Even those who try to stay neutral usually get hit by some stray arrow and enter on one or the other side of the fight. As I run through the various cities, with guards in hot pursuit, ordinary townspeople cry out “Die Imperial!” and take up arms against the town watch. Worse yet, the Leyawin Mage’s Guild has taken to the streets, patrolling the city for guards to kill without any provocation at all. They’re like a crazed militia.

I think I may have inadvertently begun overthrowing the government.

About the author

Brad Hates Games

BHG grew up in the frozen post-apocalyptic wasteland of Buffalo, NY (it’s like the old Soviet Union but more depressing), recently escaped to the (relatively) sunnier skies of Seattle, and does freelance work when writing for an unpopular blog about 20 year old video games fails to pay the bills.

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