Something special happens when you completely learn a game's systems, and its limitations. Your imagination goes wild, and you can exploit the mechanics. Last night in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I attempted to achieve a goal that should be out of my current character's reach. Last night, I went troll hunting.
Heeding the call of the Greybeards, my character Dekkard ventured out toward the logging town of Ivarstead. Beyond the Seven Thousand Steps to the Throat of the World, Ivarstead is the doorway to High Hrothgar, where the ancient order of Greybeards call home.
Dekkard's journey began from the snowy, Nordic sanctuary of Windhelm. Inching on Ivarstead, I noticed a red blip on my navigation bar; an enemy was nearby. But this situation was different from others. I could hear the snarl of a beast in my midst, but no beast was seen. The pattering about was filled with rage and sounded desperate for blood; it could see me but I was blind to its position.
Rather than follow the path toward the beast, I climbed the side of a rocky hill. The world was dark, snow was falling vigorously. Went I neared the top of a rock wall I inched forward, only to peek toward the noise. As if perfectly timed, a large Frost Troll raised its arms and shrieked in my face.
The Frost Troll's arms swung wildly toward me, but I was just out of reach. I equipped my trusty flame spell and began to drench the beast in fire. As it attempted to inch toward me I used my first Dragon Shout, "Unrelenting Force," to push it away. It wasn't until the troll started to run backwards through the path that I avoided that I realized it was unable to attack me from my current position. It was looking for a way to solve its problem, and it was nearing a solution. I jumped forward onto the ridge it was standing on, forcing it to retrace its steps back toward me. As it approached, I inched backwards and fell onto my safe perch.
Very little space separated my safety zone and the Frost Troll's attack. Clearly, the beast's programming wouldn't allow it to venture off the side of the mountain to my position, hence its constant backtracking to kill me. As it would leave to find me, I would jump forward, forcing it back. I toyed with it like this for minutes, chipping away its health. I was nearing the end of my battle, when I got cocky.
Attempting to find the safe zone netted me a few scrapes; I'd be too far out and the beast's arm would land a strike. Though I could have taken time to heal with potions or magic, the troll's health was nearing its last sliver. One one final shot seemed to be the difference between the adversary's life or death, I jumped forward to land a vicious finishing move. In one swift motion, the troll rocked its arms forward, depleting the half-full health bar I had and bouncing me off and down the side of the mountain. In that overall situation I realized, as smart as I was for "breaking" the game to benefit me... I knew exactly how to act like an idiot to balance the scales.
Smarts may have been the accelerator for the battle, but my cockiness was certainly the emergency brake.
Game Stories is a new, ongoing feature where editors from Shacknews regale you with their adventures from the latest video game worlds. Skyrim Stories will continue, but anecdotes from other games are planned as well.