Life in Skyrim can be pretty dangerous for NPCs, with players often being around to cause trouble and hunt down those who might rat them out to the guards.
However, sometimes these annoyed adventurers turn their attention away from putting together their Ebony Blade kill lists and taking out their rage on their various nemeses via combat to focus on details in the game’s story that really grind their gears.
This is currently true of an oft-forgotten aspect of the game’s cart-based intro sequence, which most players have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of times, but is just now causing some of them to question why things don’t play out very differently in Helgen.
Why fus-roh-doesn't he just take the damn thing off?
The thread on this topic in the Skyrim subreddit began with a post from user GoBackToLeddit, who shared an image of a bound and gagged Ulfric Stormcloak, asking: “Honestly, what's keeping him from reaching up and pulling away the gag to shout?”
Their fellow players were quick to start concocting theories as to why Ulfic might choose to remain bound, with user DarkyDark123 asking: “Did you learn nothing from ‘Anyone else feel like running?’” and GreyCrowDownTheLane elaborating: “Exactly. It's scripted that way to show that any attempt to escape would be met with the arrows of multiple archers from multiple angles.”
However, a few users pointed out that this threat of death might not be as serious as it first seems, given that Stormcloak is on his way to the executioner’s block anyway, leading MandatedCrownn662 to suggest that notions like honour and the desire to de a hero’s death, rather than trying to run like a coward, might come into it.
Meanwhile, a couple of users thought the reason might go into tinfoil helmet territory, with stx06 citing supposedly cut dialogue that suggests the true reason for the Thalmor’s presence in Helgen to be to take in Ulfric themselves, so that he may be secretly released later to continue being a thorn in the Empire’s side.
Others were less concerned with in-game lore and more with the practicalities of game design, with user ASTRA03 getting very meta and suggesting “The script” is Ulfric’s true binding to his apparent fate and Sir_Olds_Alot theorising that the huge shoulder pads of the armour Ulfric was pictured in might be restricting his movement.
These notions led user NimdokBennyandAM to theorise what might happen to the game’s story if Ulfric did manage to escape, saying: “Ulfric reaches up and removes his gag. He shouts, destroying the cart. Credits roll as Ulfric is seen running away into the distance.”
Regardless of whether you think this is how things would go down if Stormcloak did a runner, make sure to follow us for more updates on The Elder Scrolls 6 and the wacky world of Skyrim modding.