I really did intend to go to work the day Skyrim was released. “Right, I’ll just buy it right after I wake up so I can play when I get home,” I thought. Oh, sweet naïveté. The pangs of guilt about calling in “sick” quickly faded the first time I stepped up to that Imperial officer and spent an hour painstakingly tweaking every facial feature possible, none of which I would ever notice in-game. Victoria von Catnip the Khajiit was born, and work might as well have never existed as I frolicked through fields, slayed dragons, and poked giants with sticks all day. I was smitten.
After rubbing the stars out of my eyes, however, Skyrim’s many flaws became apparent. Admittedly, I’m very particular about games and spend at least half of my play time analyzing the design. When I express my opinion that Skyrim is a great open-world game but not necessarily a great RPG, I usually get a look like I just ripped someone’s arm off and knocked them on the head with it.
Today, my lovelies, we will be focusing on a mod that is very dear to me, and addresses something that always grabbed me by the wrist and yanked me out of immersion land: the dull, one-dimensional NPCs all voiced by the same three generic actors, as well as the boring dialogue options.
I had never been so near-uncontrollably giddy over a character in a video game until I installed Interesting NPCs. He was a thief named Gnives, a fellow Khajiit at the Thieves Guild, and the first character from the mod I met. When I saw him I nearly tripped over myself to talk to him. A new, unique NPC! A new voice actor! What could be more exciting in a game where everyone has the same voice and personality? I eagerly initiated dialogue and before I could open my mouth, he subtly chastised me for not approaching him stealthily like a cat. Deeply chagrined, I decided to sass him. “I like to announce my presence for everyone in the room to hear,” I boasted. He was unfazed, and I swear he smirked.
He began telling me about his life, his story, how he came to be a thief. I found myself awestruck, trying every one of the many dialogue options just to see what he had to say. Being a fan of role-playing in games, I couldn’t get enough. It was at this point I realized that Gnives was a real person. He might not exist in our world, but he existed, as complex and flawed as any of us.At least, that’s what the fantastic writing will lead you to believe.
Every character has this effect. Some are tragic. Some are insecure. Some are paragons of their version of honor and morality. Some are intelligent, some are dumb. Some give quests as engaging and enthralling as the NPCs themselves, and others exist as living stories, meant to be absorbed and explored.
Interesting NPCs is a work in progress. Currently there are 110 voiced NPCs with over 50 voice actors, and new quests are being made on a consistent basis. At the moment there are 15 full questlines and 10 miscellaneous quests, but the creator has planned for 100 to be added.
One of the most important features of the mod is that it makes you want to help these people out, as opposed to the vanilla fetch quest-y “go here and do this because reasons.” The quality of voice acting is very good for a mod; some of the characters sound so on-par with vanilla that I had a hard time distinguishing them as fan-made. It makes Skyrim seem alive, as opposed to this cold, barren place devoid of meaningful interaction. If you’ve ever wanted characters with depth, characters you can get to know, you will fall in love with Interesting NPCs.
Interesting NPCs is created by Kris Takahashi and can be downloaded at the Skyrim Nexus. As always, it is fully compatible with RCRN and the official DLCs.