Monday, October 31, 2016

Yes, I Admit It - I Cheat

After blogging about the new Skyrim Special Edition and the availability of mods, I have to make a confession: I'm using a mod that allows me to cheat.

One of the mods we downloaded is called, appropriately, 'Cheat Mod'. It allows a character to get any mundane or enchanted armor or weapons, any spell tome, any skill increase book, any potion ingredient, any magic accessory, any potion. It also provides a treasure chest containing 50,000 gold pieces and a ring that basically gives you unlimited carrying capacity. This means that a starting character could have some powerful enchanted armor and weapons, and know many more spells that a character ordinarily starts out with.

Just because the mod is available doesn't mean I have to take advantage of it. But I am. I know there are players out there who feel it's part of the fun of the game to work your way up through the quests, acquiring these items as loot or creating them through the crafting system. I like those parts of the game, too. But I've been playing this game for 5 years. I've gone through a lot of the basic quests several times. I know how to craft items, and where to find the minerals I need to make something special. I decided that this time I don't want to go through all of that again as a typical starting character.

Skyrim doesn't use character classes; you don't choose to be a mage, rogue, or warrior as you do in some other games. Every character has the capacity to both use magic and wield weapons. How good a character becomes at either skill is up to the player. When I play in tabletop roleplaying games I like to play mages, and the same is true in console games. But when starting out in Skyrim, your character knows very few spells and has a limited amount of magicka available to fuel them. You are forced by circumstance to pick up a weapon if you want your character to survive long enough to learn more magic. I didn't want to go through that process again, acquiring spell tomes to learn more spells and gradually building up magicka level by level. I decided to use the advantages provided by the Cheat Mod to skip over some of that so my mage could be somewhat more skilled at first level. I read a number of the spell tomes the mod provided. I took a magic staff from the supply cupboard. I also took some nice enchanted armor, and an amulet that increases my magicka. And I took the ring that increases carrying capacity so that I don't have to worry about going back to town to unload loot  in the midst of exploring every cave or mine or dungeon. I can focus on the exploration and stop concerning myself with how much stuff I pick up.

Taking these items doesn't mean that I'm really that much better at magic than a first level character who doesn't have such equipment. I still cast spells at a low level. I can't simply wipe out my enemies with a wave of my hand. But with this equipment, I don't have to worry as much about creeping up on enemies, or rapidly depleting my supply of healing potions (the mod doesn't provide an unlimited quantity of those). The mod means I can enjoy the things I like to do, without spending as much of my time on the parts of the game I find less entertaining.

I also took the 50,000 gold. One of the first perks you get in the game if you follow the main Dragonborn quest is to be given the right to purchase a house in one of Skyrim's holds. It takes a lot of gold to buy a house, and the houses come unfurnished, so you then have to buy furnishings. You can spend a lot of time trying to build up enough gold to put a bedroom suite or an alchemical lab in your house. I decided to use some of that special gold to buy a house and furnish it right away. Technically I don't need a house, since the underground secret lair the mod provides contains two alchemical labs. But I like the idea of having a house to go back to instead of creeping around in a rather spooky basement that doesn't include any incidental music or ambient sounds. Since I've already got a house, I can spend the rest of my money on other things, like potions, or equipment for my traveling companions.

Playing a game is supposed to be fun. The first four or five times I ran through the introductory quests, it was fun feeling that anxiety that my character might die at any moment. But now I want something different out of the experience, and using a mod that lets me cheat the game a bit allows me to achieve that goal. So, yes, I cheat. And if cheating means I can get past level 10 faster and dive into some of the more difficult quests that I've never played through before, then I'm not going to feel guilty about cheating.

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