There are some video games you return to after years of playing. Game makers know this; why do you think remastered games are constantly released for more advanced consoles? There are some games that are so enjoyable that we can return to them over and over for years. Skyrim is one such game.
Released in November of 2011, Skyrim was one of the first games that not only achieved a solid open world structure but gave gamers enough to do to keep them occupied for ages. It was essentially a theme park with endless possibilities: you could be a thief, a hero, a lover, a parent, an assassin, a creature, a soldier, or all of the above at once! Even after finishing the main quest line, ages of opportunities were still readily available and at your fingertips. Six years later, we’re still playing.
In all that glory, it’s easy to lose sight of the little things; the details that make the game so perfect. The attitudes of the bystanders, the systems of government, and, most importantly, the gravitas of the decisions you make- including the first choice you make in the game: which race your character will be. You have many choices, from the more humanoid options like to Breton or Nord, to the more fantastical options like Elves and Khajiits. The choice you make will stay with you throughout the game, helping you on occasion and harming you just as often (if not more frequently). One option you can select is Argonian and you shouldn’t be scared of it. Before making this epic decision on your origin and moving on to the attack on Helgen, consider some of these facts about the secretive Argonian race.
15. Victims of Hate Crimes
If you’ve played Skyrim, even if you chose to play as a Nord or Imperial rather than an Argonian, you’ve undoubtedly heard some of the hateful racial slurs thrown at them. ‘Lizard’ is one, though it’s perhaps the most kindly; others include ‘scale-skin,’ ‘pond scum,’ and ‘scale-back.’ There’s a reason many Argonians choose to turn to a life of crime, beyond of course the set of skills that they are predisposed to be adept at (including sneaking and pickpocketing). Argonians came to Skyrim to assimilate into their culture, but they are frequently the victims of hate crimes, discrimination, and prejudice. If you were made a target by the country you always idolized, causing disillusionment and broken dreams, don’t you think you might also turn on the country you once adored in just the same way they turned on you? If there is any other group that receives similar amounts of discrimination in Skyrim, it might be the Khajiits but Argonians seem to take the cake.
14. Thick Skin
Upon becoming an Argonian, you’ll learn about a lot of traits you’ve inherited merely due to your race as well as skills you’re likely to develop rapidly in due to your heritage. You’ll learn about your ability to breath underwater (thanks, gills); your blood is 50% more resistant to diseases than that of other races; your ability to invoke the power of the Host (which we’ll talk about more later) in order to heal ten times faster for 60 seconds; and your predisposition towards skills like sneaking, lockpicking, and pickpocketing. What you may not realize is that Argonians are special and valuable also for their thick scaled skin. This scaly skin isn’t just convenient for swimming or suited for their natural climate, but is also an armor in battle. Though you’ll definitely want to buy some good armor as well, Argonian skin can withstand a blow far better than a Nord’s or Imperial’s.
13. At Least They’re Not Naga
The Argonians are tough. For this reason, as well as several others that we’ll discuss more elaborately later, Argonians aren’t exactly the favorites of Skyrim. They’re a sly and tricky bunch that don’t mind succeeding at your expense. If you’ve chosen to play as a race besides the Argonians, you may not harbor a lot of love for them. However, unclench your fists and wipe the anger from your mind; the Argonian’s are not so threatening and bad, especially in comparison to their relatives, the Naga. The Naga are a breed of Argonians that reach up to eight feet tall. With black scales and eyes and a mouth filled with rows of sharp, fang-like teeth, these Argonians were not to be trifled with. Known as the thugs of Black Marsh for a long time, these were the Argonians that earned such a bad reputation by raiding caravans, smuggling drugs into other countries, and killing Imperials for pleasure. Next time you want to complain about Argonians, bite your tongue.
12. How Romantic
Nordic and Imperial marriage rituals closely mirror the rites we are so used to in our modern culture: propose, get engaged, get married, live together, have babies. However, Argonians don’t operate in the same way. While some Argonians have adopted the Skyrim rituals of marriage, involving the Amulet of Mara, there are very strict and particular steps to an Argonian courtship as outlined by their heritage. First, after Argonian lovers have beccome acquainted and decide they want to marry (arranged marriages aren’t frequently found in this race), an Argonian must present the other with a traditional wedding proposal band with three flawless amethysts: the two on the outside represent the lovers in question, and the one between represents The Hist (the sacred religious icon we’ll discuss more later). Though this tradition is absolutely sacred and dear to the Argonian race, you likely won’t see them propose to someone outside of their race in this fashion.
11. Cold Blooded Killers (Guerrilla Warfare)
Argonians have not traditionally been trained in the arts of warfare and battle. For reasons you’ll realize as the article goes on, Argonians have not previously been trusted with that sort of knowledge and skill. This means that, for ages, Argonians have had to teach themselves how to fight, survive, and fend for themselves. As you can imagine, they’ve become more brutal and daring soldiers than those that learned by the book. It’s quite common for an Argonian to be found fighting with their bare claws or as a Spellsword, wielding a sword in one hand and magic in the other. Perhaps their greatest fighting advantage, though, is one they have employed in several battles and wars across the ages: ambushing their victims from the water, dragging them into the depths, and easily drowning them. Their guerrilla warfare tactics are certainly obscure and odd, but they’re also bold and entirely effective.
10. Not From Skyrim
Argonians are indeed not natives of Skyrim, which may further explain (though certainly not excuse) some of the hate crimes committed against them and why they’ve been singled out for discrimination. Argonians are indigenous to the Tamriel land of Argonia, hatefully dubbed by the empire as The Black Marsh. Black Marsh is filled with swamps impenetrable to those who cannot navigate them underwater, and weaving waterways so elaborate they’d baffle any cartographer. Black Marsh has been won and lost by different countries and kingdoms over the centuries, but it has always returned to the only race that can conquer these lands: the Argonians. With their abilities to breath underwater and nearly camouflage themselves to the swampy climate, who else could ever have had a chance presiding over this land? When Black Marsh was won by Tiber Septim, he merely skirted the country and never attempted to breach its labyrinthine interior for fear of the mysteries it held there.
9. The Famous Argonian Pirate
Also known as “Red” Brahman, one of the most renowned and infamous pirates to ever wander the seas around Skyrim was an Argonian. Way back in the first era, he invaded and terrorized the southern shores of Tamriel around Topal Bay, which connected to Black Marsh, Elsweyr (native home of the Khajiits), and Cyrodiil (homeland of the Imperial Race). When enough damage and horror was afflicted, around year 1033, the Empress Hestra ordered the Imperial Navy to hunt down the brigadier and return only when they had his decapitated head in tow. They battled him throughout the Topal Bay but he escaped and eluded them at each turn. Finally, after pursuing Brahman into the heart of Black Marsh (a feat rarely attempted by those outside of the Argonian race), they cornered, captured, and killed him. He is still known as one of the most formidable pirates to ever sail the seas.
8. An Enslaved Race
Nowadays in Skyrim, slavery is an illegal practice. If you find a slave (not a servant, but a slave), they’re likely bound to a malevolent mage or perhaps are being lorded over by bandits and marauders. However, just because slavery isn’t legal now doesn’t mean it was always an outlawed practice. In fact, slavery is more common in the history of this realm than you’d know. Long ago, humans were enslaved by the Ayleids before they were driven out of Cyrodiil, the slaves became the slavers. Elves and humans alike, after assuming control over Morrowind, enslaved Khajiits and Argonians alike. This caused hatred specifically between the Argonians and the Dunmer, who politically permitted the enslavement of their race. After raging against their captors and even inciting war in the name of liberation, the Ebonheart Pact was eventually signed and the enslavement of Argonians was dubbed illegal. Yet, this race still faces the prejudice inspired by ages of hate and enslavement and they still await reparations.
7. The Freeing Flu
One of the main causes for the freedom of the Argonian race was not actually the war they waged. While the Argonians are fierce and vicious fighters, they were still vastly outnumbered by their captors and those that wished to maintain the status quo. Instead, the Argonians devised another plan to defeat their enemies: biological warfare. A conspiracy theory and fear in our current bellicose world, the Argonians of the fantastical Morrowind used biological to their advantage years ago. Knowing fully well that they’re blood was resistant to diseases and their immune systems could repel simple viral infections, they devised the Knahaten Flu. This plague ravaged the families of oppressors and essentially killed everyone in Black Marsh not of Argonian descent; it even wiped out the entire culture of the Kothringi. Even when Black Marsh was clean of the flu, decades later, humans and elves dared not enter for fear of reviving the deadly plague.
6. Praise the Hist
Finally, we ought to explain this Hist that we’ve referred to over and over. While Nords and Imperials choose to worship the many Divines of Skyrim, the Argonians worship only one spiritual being: The Hist. These are essentially sentient and cognizant trees that nurture life, foster the wounded, and receive the spirits of the dead. Argonian eggs are placed at the foot of the tree as they develop. There, they earn a soul from the Hist before they are hatched. By drinking the sap from these trees at young ages, everything from their gender to their destiny is determined. When Argonians marry, they marry under the blessing of the Hist. When Argonians die, they’re spirits wander back to the Hist to help nurture new life. The Hist is said to harbor the history and knowledge of the entire Argonian race and these trees are essentially hallowed sacred ground to all of the Argonian race.
5. Argonians Believe in Reincarnation
After learning about the Hist, you might have considered what happens to the Argonian soul after it returns to the Hist? Argonian souls, based on the courses they took in their lives, are deemed by the Hist to be worthy (or not) of being bestowed again on a life force. If worthy, the soul of the deceased will be dispensed to a hatched Argonian egg and the soul will have another cycle of life in another consciousness. This is essentially the belief of reincarnation that is shared in many of our real-world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. This is perhaps why so many Argonians fight fearlessly and with such abandon and take risks in thieving careers: the Hist has seemed to be generous with its deeming of a ‘worthy’ soul and Argonians know that, if they fail, at least they tried their hardest- they’ll get another chance someday!
4. They Get Political
The Argonians are certainly known for taking careers in less than prestigious fields, such as thievery and assassin work. However, no one should make assumptions about an entire race based on a few commonalities. There are plenty of Argonians involved in politics and government! The most commonly known Argonian sect of politics is the An-Xileel. While they tend to stay neutral on many issues not involving Argonians and Argonian rights, they are quite active when it comes to their people, their history, and their culture. They are most commonly known as the party responsible for the Argonian invasion in Southern Morrowind decades ago in efforts to reclaim all of their homeland. Their attack was warded off, but the An-Xileel stays adamant and patient in their pursuit to drive the foreigners from their native land. They base their operations in the southern-most city in all of Tamriel and Black Marsh, Lilmoth, and are believed to be quietly biding their time for the next attempt at fighting in the name of Argonia.
3. The Genocide of a Generation
If you still don’t think that the Argonians have a reason to be bitter against the inhabitants of Skyrim and neighboring countries, you must not have been reading this article carefully. However, if you weren’t in their corner before, you should be now. In 2E 582, back when the Aldmeri Dominion was attacking Black Marsh in efforts to overthrow the Ebonheart Pact and re-enslave or otherwise hold power over the Argonians, they nearly extinguished all Argonians with a single artifact: the Mnemic Egg. This artifact, actually Argonian in history, was used by the elves to sever the connection between the Hist and the newly born eggs. Without this connection, souls were not able to pass into the eggs and thus they all perished. They nearly succeeded at driving Argonians into extinction before the Vestige (playable in Elder Scrolls Online) took the egg from the Dominion base and, entering into the Hist dreams, destroyed the corruption implanted there.
2. Argonians Always Have (& Will) Fight
Clearly, Argonians have faced a lot in their time. Nearly every time they’ve made connections with neighboring countries and races, it has not fared well for them. Their neighbors have made slaves and enemies of them, centuries over. They’ve had to combat every false charge and capture laid on them, sometimes with physical brawn and other times with intellectual wit and cunning. For all of the slings and insults thrown at them, they’ve persevered and endured and become stronger than ever. While you may think lowly of the Argonians, they’ve had to battle more than perhaps any other race in the game; they deserve not only your respect, but your admiration. They are the fiercest, most cunning, and longest enduring race. While you may think them weak or lesser because of the troubles they’ve faced, they are actually some of the strongest and most honorable characters in the game. Their fight has made them stronger- you should never underestimate an Argonian.
1. A Universal Consciousness?
Though never explicitly stated in the games, Argonians may have what is commonly referred to as a “hive mind,” and what is more scientifically referred to as a universal consciousness. Through their connection with the Hist, which harbors all of the wealth of knowledge and history of the Argonian race, it is believed that Argonians have a backlog of wisdom they can draw on at any time. If taken a step further, since all Argonians drink the sap of the Hist, it’s possible that all Argonians can access a mental network of Argonian thought and thus have a universal consciousness wherein they can access the thoughts and knowledge of their fellow countryman. Imagine how amazing that would be! This is why the Hist is so holy to the Argonians. Not only does it dispense life force and nurture the souls of the Argonian race; it also gives the wealth of wisdom that can only be made possible by the accumulation of ages of souls.