We're big fans of Bethesda at Dealspwn, having lost countless hours wandering the DC and New Mojave wastes in both Fallout title. As such, we're incredibly excited by the prospect of Skyrim, which we placed in our Top 10 Games of 2011 list. But how can we neglect to mention Elder Scrolls: Oblivion? After all, it forged the path both Fallout 3 and New Vegas followed, and was the first true example of a next-gen RPG in the hands of a capable developer.
Oblivion is massive, both in scope and intimate detail, so deciding on just a single aspect to profess our love for is difficult. However, when I look back on my fifty or so hours wandering the verdant sprawl of Tamriel, conquering villages and beguiling young maidens, I find my nostalgia drawn to one particular quest-line, joining the assassins of the Dark Brotherhood. So, grab your concealed weapons, your dark robes and best evil glare, and let us remember Why We Love Oblivion's Dark Brotherhood!
A Stranger In The Night
Initiation into the Dark Brotherhood is simple; the unprovoked murder of an innocent. Nursing a sore sword wrist and longing for sleep, you return to your bed and drift off, only to be awakened by Lucien Lachance, emissary and elected Speaker of the Dark Brotherhood. He asks you to eliminate a target located at the Inn of Ill Omen. Naturally.
Having dealt with Lachance's target, he once again greets you in the comforts of your own bed and invites you to the Sanctuary, the Brotherhood headquarters. It is here where the adventure begins, in the grimy, oil lamp-lit basement of an abandoned house in Cheydinhal. Accepted at the lowest rank of 'Murderer' and rewarded with the Shrouded Hood and Armor by Ocheeva, head of the Cheydinhal guild, you're now free to select Contracts and murder in the name of the Brotherhood. Bravo!
Creature Of The Night
At the Cheydinhal Sanctuary you can find a particularly reclusive member by the name of Vicente Valtieri. Vicente is a vampire, and promises to offer you his 'Dark Gift' if you agree to help him with a specific task. 'The Assassinated Man' is a brilliant quest-line, where you fake a murder, revive a 'corpse' and eventually escape a crypt crawling with enraged zombies. Once completed, you return to Vicente who, true to his word, makes you one of his kind.
Being a vampire is a divisive experience, as it requires extreme patience, a tolerance of the dark and total abandonment of the day. It's also incredible, macabre fun. By default, vampires gain 100% resistance to disease and paralysis, receive bonuses to strength, willpower and speed, not to mention sub-skills like acrobatics, hand to hand and mysticism. If you don't feed on human blood, essential vampiric cuisine, then you begin to gain and lose abilities, from further weakness to fire and sunlight to specific attributes like 'Hunter's Sight', which can detect life-forms in the nearby vicinity. Handy!
But it's not just the ability to become a vampire that elevates the Dark Brotherhood quest-line above all other parts of Oblivion. It's chock-full of fantastic contracts, like when you carefully dismantle a stuffed Minotaur head which makes the eventual death of its Wood Elf owner look like a tragic coincidence of fate, or the wonderful chemistry between all the guild's weird and twisted members. It's a terrific example of Bethesda' versatility at writing, questing and characterization, and I can only hope it makes a return in Skyrim. After all, Lachance claimed the Brotherhood have Sanctuaries hidden across all of Cyrodill...
Did you join the Dark Brotherhood and eventually become it's new Listener, too? Or did you take the more noble choice and slaughter the entire Sanctuary in one fell swoop? As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below!