Bethesda games are, traditionally, buggy at release. After release as well. When something weird starts happening in an Elder Scrolls game, I take it with a grain of salt. This behavior can be intended, but often enough the game’s quirky behavior is thanks to a bug. I’ve played through all of the main Elder Scrolls games, so I think of myself as a junior problem solver when it comes to wacky AI scripting (pictured).
But last night, something happened that shook me to my bug-squashing core.
After the jump, I meet Farkas.
Something was wrong from the moment the game loaded. Where were the walls to my house? The outer walls were still there, but the interior walls and all of my furniture had vanished, leaving all of my valuables on the floor. I left my house and turned around, going directly back in. Ah-ha! My furniture returned. Everything I owned was under the furniture now, but at least I had a place to sit.
With the rocky start to my character’s day, I decided to stick around the area and see what kind of mischief I could get into locally. One of the first encounters I remember from Skyrim is the approach to Whiterun. You come across a group fighting a giant and, after a bit of verbal jousting, they mention they’re with the Companions, or what seems like this game’s version of the fighter’s guild. The guild hall they use is in the same town as my house and only a brief walk from my front door, so I head on over. This is where all hell breaks loose.
I open the front door and as soon as I do, two women jump up and start fist fighting. A circle forms around them, cheering and shouting. This place seems cool. I can dig this. A giant, brooding Nord draws his giant two-handed sword and charges at me. Right before he reaches me, and as I’m considering running in a panicked state, the dialog options pop up. Thank God, he just wants to talk.
He introduces himself as Farkas, says he isn’t the smartest person around but he does OK, and points me to the guild leader. Cool. I exit the dialog and turn to find the guy I need to speak with. Then I turn back around. It’s Farkas again and the dialog options come back up. I close them and begin looking for the guy I need to speak to about joining the guild. Here comes Farkas. Again, I drop out of the dialog and begin looking. Once again, the dialog pops up.
At this point, I’m becoming concerned. Maybe if I get away from him, I can break this crazy cycle. I run downstairs and slam the door behind me. After a few steps down the empty hall, I hear a sword being drawn. I don’t have to wait long to see who it belongs to, either. It’s Farkas! I close the dialog and begin to run, full tilt down the hallway. I find the guild leader and some part of me sighed with relief as I was sure that this would end my torment. The guild leader speaks to me and then wants to confer with his colleague. As soon as the dialog box dropped, Farkas began talking again.
I manage to get through the beginning parts of the first quest by running out into the hallway and then sneaking. Farkas couldn’t find me unless he was on top of me, so I could effectively continue on with only minor annoyance. My first test was to fight a guy to prove my prowess in combat. I did so with aplomb and we moved on to the second test.
The guild master wants me to go retrieve some woozlewuzzle from a ruin. No problem! I do this sort of thing all the time. This one is in the bag, no problems at all. The next line stops my celebration prematurely: he wants Farkas to accompany me. Oh, and here he comes, sword drawn and charging, ready to get me into a conversation. Before I can leave the room with the quest-giver, Farkas opens the chat dialog six times.
Six freaking times.
After the sixth time, I take off in a run towards my destination. As soon as I got outside of the door I attempt to quick travel to no avail. According to the game, I’m being pursued by guards. At this point, I see Farkas coming and decide to keep booking it. What a sight we must have been – me, running at full speed and jumping off of walls and roofs and whatever else I could find to try slow Farkas down and the crazed, sword-wielding barbarian who just wants to talk.
Upon leaving Whiterun, I run into two giants. So does Farkas. He runs up to me to talk and the giants began attacking. I run in one direction and he takes off in the other, towards the ruin we’re supposed to explore together. After a bit, I decide to try fast travel again, hoping that it breaks the vicious, irritating conversation cycle me and my Nordic homie seem to be caught in. I fast travel a good distance away from our encounter and take a quick look around. Nothing. Sweet, sweet peace. I begin making a mental checklist of stuff I’ll need to go take care of that ruin. That’s when I see him, charging over the horizon.
I’m almost broken at this point, but want to see if completing this dungeon will set him straight. I fast travel to our destination and head in. At first, things seem OK. I sneak around the first few rooms, Farkas keeping his distance. I then spot a few draugr and ready my bow. First arrow is loosed and the draugr hits the ground, the other turn to see where the arrow came from. I’m pretty good at sneak, so I’m not an easy mark. Farkas, however, is. The draugr swarm us and right before I fire my second arrow, I turn around. Farkas has initiated dialog in the middle of combat. I can’t fire my weapon. I switch to my sword, but before I can swing, dialog pops back up.
Needless to say, I died
Something occurs to me. Why in the hell would the guard be chasing me at Whiterun? I’ve done a bunch of rotten shit around the world – I’m in the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild – but none around my house. I go and check my outstanding bounty. Nothing for the Whiterun area, but several thousand gold throughout the land. This gives me an idea.
I wrench myself away from Farkas and go about paying my bounty down in all the places I’ve offended the law. As soon as I return to that dungeon, things are perfectly normal. Farkas is done talking to me and I can continue my game without a crazed Nord tracking me to the ends of Tamriel.
Of all the NPCs in Skyrim, I’m sure Farkas will be among the most memorable to me.