Yes, yes, I’m writing about Skyrim … again, but when you’ve put something like over 400 hours into a game (I’ve played more since deers and loathing ), it’s kind of hard not to run out of things to say about it. Today, I thought I’d treat you to some thoughts on armour in Bethesda’s huge open world (or should that be open dungeon) sandbox of a videogame. That’s right, I want to talk about fashion in Skyrim.

Why are you talking about this?

As with many things in life, I only started deeply thinking about this subject after comics writer Gail Simone asked:

I entered the conversation around here:

This may have happened in September, but I keep going back to this game and this conversation stuck with me.

My preferred stylings

I’m not overly fond of the more extravagant armour available in Skyrim. The characters I tend to play are ones that prefer Light Armour and I love having my character dressed in hide, fur, leather or scale (and the Dawnguard armour is nicely unassuming). I go for these ones, because they don’t tend to look too over the top or ostentatious. While Elven or Glass will offer greater levels of protection in much of the game, I just can’t stand how pompous the stuff can make a character look. I might be the Dragonborn, but I’d rather my character looks like they fit in rather than they don’t.

The irony here is that my character is the embodiment of the chosen one stereotype and treated like an outsider by much of Skyrim’s inhabitants, regardless of how nice my character is to the inhabitants. My character will never truly fit in, but I can’t bring myself to acknowledge that in her attire. But I wasn’t always so negative about the more over the top pieces…

Dragons

Pdorne armour 1 This is Pdorne, one of my earliest Skyrim characters. She is wearing a full set of light Dragon Scale armour. When I originally made that set of armour, I was quite happy with it , mainly because I had had to train my Smithing skill to 100 in order to be able to produce this set of armour. When you spend that huge amount of time in a game, training and levelling a skill… it’s unlikely that you’ll look at your first creation and frown at it:

Pdorne, my Nordic warrior, is now able to smith armor from dragon scales and bones. Naturally she’s now been kitted out in a full set of dragon scale armor.

Now to go and find more things to kill…

I posted that after I’d just finished putting the armour on my character for the first time. But now when I look at it, I cringe. The helmet is big and clunky, the breastplate awkward and ill-fitting. The pauldrons on her shoulders look like they will be more of a hindrance than a help – it should have been layers of scales down her arms, instead of something that would restrict movement and possibly give enemies an easy way in.

And how the hell is she meant to sneak about unnoticed in that helmet? It’ll tower above an urn no matter how low she crouches (not that this is a genuine issue in game, but the thought takes me out of it).

Mods

The mod community doesn’t offer much in the way of great alternatives if you get bored of looking at leather. There are many highly revealing armour sets for female characters that can be downloaded and the odd conservative set like Freya’s Rainmet , which looks great, but doesn’t make you look like one of the people. If I had the time to learn how to make mods, I would, but I don’t.

But I feel like I shouldn’t have to rely on the mod community for alternative armour sets. That armour made from bits of dragon is something that Bethesda included and takes  a lot of hard work to obtain in-game, but it just looks horrible and not at all practical. I want style and function, but without looking like I’m about to lose my helmet in the nearest patch of hanging moss.

Now, while I hope for Elder Scrolls VI to be announced at some point in the next two years, I’ll also hope that we can have armour with style and function included with it.