One of the main storylines that goes on in Skyrim is a big civil war. On one side, you have the Imperials, the main army of Tamriel trying to restore order to the nation that has stepped out of line with the emperor’s decree. On the other side, you have the Nord rebels, the Stormcloaks, who are against Imperial control. However, which side to join is not the easiest choice, and without a second full playthrough, you will never get to see both sides. So, I decided to make a list of qualities of both sides to see which one is better to join.
The Stormcloaks are the uprising rebels. At the beginning of the game, you find yourself face to face with the executioner’s axe. Why? Doesn’t matter. Every Elder Scrolls game starts this way. You’re imprisoned or finished your sentence or something. Just a good literary point to have a “new beginning on life”. Alongside of you to be executed is the head of the Stormcloak rebellion, Ulfric, who is proud of his Nord heritage. Before the execution can take place, a dragon attacks and you and Ulfric escape. So, automatically you’re thinking of joining the Stormcloaks as there is already a bond there. So, I visited the Stormcloak’s main city of Windhelm to join up with them… and found the city in trouble. With Ulfric in charge, the other races in the town who weren’t Nord were segregated. If you weren’t Nord, you were nothing. Argonians only live outside the city and are used for slave-like labor on the docks. Dark Elves are relegated to a single area of the city. Racism runs rampant under the Stormcloak rule. So, these people who fight for their freedom from the Empire are also taking away the rights of others. It also doesn’t help that when you first meet Ulfric, he’s kinda a jerk.
This didn’t sit well with me, so I visited the Imperial capital of Solitude. Their side of the story isn’t so clean either. From their side, they are trying to end the rebellion to restore order to Skyrim. However, it also comes at the cost of taking away the right of free religion. During the big war that happened before Skyrim’s beginning, the elves dictated that one of the game’s deities, Talos, a mortal whose accomplishments made him a god in the eyes of the people, was blasphemous to the worship of other gods and his worship was to be abolished. The elves are essentially the main power in Tamriel as they forced the signing of a treaty to end the war. The banning of worship of Talos was part of the treaty. So, the Imperials are also fighting to stop the practice of the Nord people’s primary religious figure.
So, the choice is definitely not one that is supposed to be easy. Side with the racist rebels trying to protect their religious freedom and create a free Skyrim? Or with the race accepting, but anti-religious Imperials who are just looking to establish order? Either way, the choice feel dirty. Establish freedom at the cost of racism, or create order at the cost of religious tolerance? Personally, I don’t consider myself racist. I think I’m a very accepting individual, accepting others of races and religions not my own. However, freedom is a very important human right. Everyone, doesn’t matter their race or orientation, deserves the same basic rights.
In the end, I see the abolishment of en entire religion to be the bigger offender. Racism will always exist at some level, and though it is terrible, racial tolerance will eventually prevail in the long run. Religious freedom, especially one that doesn’t harm anyone else, might not survive the war if the Imperials win. So, in this case, fighting the war for religious freedom seems more justified. Despite Ulfric being a prick, his fight seems right. Most important, you don’t have to like the leader to agree with their cause.
Aside from the philosophical discussion, I have a gaming goal. Essentially I want to get as far as I can in Skyrim before Guild Wars 2 launches. I’m afraid I simply won’t be able to make this goal as Skyrim is… well… Skyrim. I’ve hit level 42, so not too much can stand in my way at this point… but I STILL haven’t even really touched the main storyline. There’s just so much to do!! I haven’t even visited every major city yet! So, my gaming plan may be to even give the Guild Wars 2 launch a little bit of a pass until I complete Skyrim. I know that by the time I’m completely done with Skyrim, I’ll be so tired of the game that I won’t want to touch another Elder Scrolls game until they release the next one (Hopefully… I know there is an Elder Scrolls MMO on the horizon, but I’m really hoping they don’t stop making the single player titles because of it).
So, anyway, thank you for reading and here are a few more screenshots for your enjoyment.
Game well, my friends.
P.S. – I added a few more mods to the game, including ENB Cinematic Lighting, which completely overhauls the lighting in the game. Hence why all the screenshots above look a little more shadowed, bright, and colorful. Without it… the game just looks muted and dull. Plus, light spells, torches, and lanterns are useful again.