Almost eleven years since publication, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is still one of the most famous video games to this day.
Skyrim gives its players almost complete freedom, but like many others, I find myself coming back to one particular questline time and time again. Even in a fantasy world where dragons rule the skies, I’m always called back to the shard of Tamriel to tread the well-worn path of blood, guts and betrayal: the Dark Brotherhood.
Although becoming an e-assassin may seem like old hat, SkyrimThe pitiful group of undoubtedly charming merry-go-round killers deserves a revisit.
The Dark Brotherhood is an elite faction of assassins that appears in each of the main five The Elder Scrolls games. Like everything else in the series, Brotherhood lore has deep roots. NPCs whisper about a bloodthirsty group lurking in the shadows, mercilessly killing anyone unlucky enough to become a target.
Despite rumours, the Dark Brotherhood is more than a group of greedy contract killers, but a deeply religious and organized faction. Led by their deity, the Dreadfather Sithis, and his mummified bride, the Nightmother, the Brotherhood adheres to a strict moral code called the Five Principles. Without these tenets, the Dark Brotherhood cannot exist—or at least it did it shouldn’t.
The guild makes a strong first impression by unceremoniously kidnapping a Dragonborn (a feat in itself considering the player character is the most powerful person in Tamriel at this point in the game) and ordering them to execute one of the hooded victims kneeling before them. After a satisfactory amount of blood has been spilled, the Dragonborn is invited to join a legendary group of assassins.
[NOTE: To the Skyrim sticklers, no, this technically isn’t the beginning of the Dark Brotherhood quest line, but it’s the first time the player meets any of the members. Don’t come for me please.]
Upon entering the faction’s dilapidated headquarters, Falkreath Sanctuary, it becomes abundantly clear that the Dark Brotherhood is no longer the same powerful organization that struck fear into the hearts of Tamriel’s citizens in earlier installments of the series. Now they are the last of their kind.
“Silence my brother”
In the 200 years between the events of the previous game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivionand Skyrim, the Dark Brotherhood was almost completely wiped out, leaving the few remaining members to pick up the pieces without success. Under the leadership of their leader, Astrid, the members of Falkreath Refuge turned their backs on Sithis, the Nightmother, and the Five Principles.
“In Skyrim, we’re delving into some of the cultural stuff, we’re dealing with marginalized groups, so the stories throughout the game were deeper in terms of the struggles that each faction had,” says Emil Pagliarulo, the game’s senior designer and writer. “The Dark Brotherhood within Forgetting [is] really powerful, so I wanted to look at The Dark Brotherhood as, ‘What can I do that’s completely different?’