Skyrim Fan's Real-Life Journal Tells an Epic Tale

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Skyrim Fan's Real-Life Journal Tells an Epic Tale

The creator of this leather-bound, hand-drawn journal that chronicles his adventures across the lands of Skyrim estimates he spent one hour working on it for every two hours of gameplay.

The Khajiit mage M'Bhasa, no-more-informatively known in the real world as Wula the Imgur user, is a serious Skyrim fan. How serious is he? Serious enough that he decided to record his in-game experiences in a leather-bound book, complete with illustrations, using a calligraphy pen. He says he almost always wrote in the book after playing, and even kept notes after "particularly detail heavy" sessions.

The penmanship is rough at the beginning, as the author acknowledges, but it really starts to come together right around his discovery of Mehrunes' Razor. The detail on the Ebony Mail illustration is even more impressive, and his efforts to learn the dragon language letter-by-letter are perhaps a tad obsessive but still very cool. The journal ultimately clocks in at 84 well-stuffed pages and ends on just about a perfect note - I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that I can't imagine a better way to wrap it up.

[gallery=1541]

Like many good gamer nerds back in the day, I used graph paper to map my progress through games like The Bard's Tale and Eye of the Beholder, and I thought that made me pretty hardcore. But the glory of this work makes me realize that I was playing in the minor leagues the whole time. So bravo to you, M'Bhasa - wherever you may be.

Source: Imgur [http://imgur.com/a/06q4x#0]


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Scentedwiind

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Nov 13, 2009
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I had tried to do this last summer but with mixed success. It is a really hard task to draw so well and so often as is required.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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"And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. Some guard had his knee capped. And then I" seriously, there's nothing to Skyrim's lore to warrant this ...
 

ImSkeletor

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I got to say I was really interested in reading some of this. Then I saw the handwriting. I thought mine was bad.
 

Fappy

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Page 200: "After returning her daughter to her I came to one final conclusion... there are more draugr in Skyrim than there are people."

This is a neat idea, but I'd have done it for Morrowind. By that I mean print out the in-game journal 'cause, you know, it's an actual journal XD
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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should be printed up and sold with a collectors edition or ultimate game guide or something...[small]although they should maybe tidy up the text[/small]...
 

Renegade-pizza

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Jul 26, 2010
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God! I love gamers! The crazy and awesome stuff people do is so damn cool. Yes, I would've preferred black ink too, but this is still pretty frackin awesome.
 

josemlopes

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Jun 9, 2008
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Was he being mauled by a wolf while writting this. My handwritting sucks but its not like I am going to show off anything that depends on it.

And either way the content that is in there is just your usual Skyrim gameplay, I just wonder if he will include the bugs.
 

ShadowGandalf01

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Oct 3, 2011
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This is like something i'm planning on soing sometime.. not anything quite as detailed, just a simple diary of my Skyrim exploits. On a new save file of course, it's far too late to do it for my current run. I've already put 135 hours into it and done most of the major quests. I'll get around to it someday.
 

synobal

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Daystar Clarion said:
I like it, but the I think the pink ink kind of ruins the aesthetic for me.
Ya it's neat but like why write an epic journal, in the style like that but go with Pink for the color. It's baffling.
 

Thyunda

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Ronack said:
"And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. Some guard had his knee capped. And then I" seriously, there's nothing to Skyrim's lore to warrant this ...
Not with that attitude there isn't!
 

Brother-Link

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Dec 6, 2010
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I agree pink ink probably wasn't the best choice. I feel like doing that now since I've threatened to in the past, but I'll bust out the quills I had used for an old art project, but I do like the artwork that went into it, drawing in pen can be tough because it's permanent.

I'll probably do this when I do my first play through on my PC when it's up and running and I get the mods I want installed just for that extra layer of immersion.
 

Maerx

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Sep 15, 2010
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Just finished reading it, wow it's quite good. It really feels like he was role-playing while writting that.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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He or she needed to use a much heavier stock if they were going to pen the entire thing. 20/20?

Bleed-through is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
 

IamLEAM1983

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Aug 22, 2011
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Ronack said:
"And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. Some guard had his knee capped. And then I" seriously, there's nothing to Skyrim's lore to warrant this ...
It's really a question of immersion. If you start reading the books and genuinely take your time, you can spend months fleshing out your character. If your objective is to clean out your quest log, you can blow through three or four faction quests in a single play session.

To each his own.

Space Jawa said:
Maybe the pink ink means he used dragon's blood as ink?
Maybe it's Blood Dragon ink?

AWW YEAH.
 

Sewa_Yunga

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Nov 21, 2011
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Hmm, the only thing I ever did for Skyrim was deciphering Mercer's journal by hand, though I'm pretty sure that I can't read it fluently anymore.
Daedric on the other hand... Daedric I can still read :D

Edit: The book looks nice though. Aside from the pink ink[footnote]I would've used a reddish brown ink if I had the perks to craft something like this :)[/footnote], the drawings hit just the right spot between crude and detailed to fit into a journal like this. The journal itself could do with a more "used" look, but the leather binding and strips make up for that.

Almost makes me want to start playing Skyrim again, but my last binge was not too long ago :)
 

Phuctifyno

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Jul 6, 2010
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This is something I've actually given a lot of thought to.

I don't have the time to do this myself, but I've often wondered how difficult/profitable it would be for Bethesda, or a third party, to write software to do this for a player (likely distributed as DLC). I already know that a huge portion of TES players imagine their playthroughs as epic quests deserving of novelization, and often try to imbue their characters with nuance and originality. So how interesting would be to have a program recording your every move and writing it down?

I would imagine that it would have customization and editing features, so that hours of inconsequential walking could be removed. Naturally, this would also result in a lot of terrible stories with no sense of narrative or pacing, but would show a level of mastery for players who are able to string together something coherent and enjoyable from their playthroughs - then show them off online or order official (even leatherbound) printouts from the distributing company.

Anyway, just a thought.

Kudos to M'Bhasa for ignoring the lack of anything like that and doing it all by hand. Now that's commitment.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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I've been a pen and paper roleplayer for fifteen years now and ever since my first session, I've written what happened in our adventures. It's a great way to learn how to write stories and decide what to keep and what to leave out. The sheer amount of insane situations that people invent and force through their characters is pure gold. When people are really invested and immersed, the situations become believable.

Doing it with Skyrim though... you're pretty much just rewriting the stories someone else already wrote.
Not saying it's wrong or a waste of time, quite the contrary; I'm sure it makes the game much more rewarding to play and gives a greater sense of immersion.
 

Clive Howlitzer

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Jan 27, 2011
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I'd like to judge his handwriting but speaking as someone who types everything that I possibly can since I first had access to a computer, my handwriting just gets worse and worse every year. I am convinced in another 10 years, it will just be illegible scrawl.
 

bigfatcarp93

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Mar 26, 2012
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Goddammit. This was my idea first. I've been doing this for about a year with New Vegas, and then this. Fuck.

Oh well. This one's way better then mine anyway.
 

piinyouri

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Mar 18, 2012
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This reminds me of sitting hunched over in my room deciphering the deadric alphabet, feeling like I had genuinely stumbled upon some secret hidden treasure.
 

Nurb

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Dec 9, 2008
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I'd like to read it but even the album doesn't have resolution enough for me to figure out everything.
 

UsefulPlayer 1

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I think the ending was only good because of the way he phrased it. It was a feeling we all had at some point in the game about something.

But imagine if the journal ended with M'Bhasa getting ready to head out with Mercer. I certainly can see how that could be an ending.....if ya know what I mean....
 

Anatoli Ossai

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Sep 5, 2012
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Initially I thought the writer had Parkinsons, he gets Zero points for penmanship, (I've seen Doctors with better handwriting) and no it did not improve LOL, sorry buddy. But the detail on the Ebony Mail is quite good.

Anyway kudos to your dedication. My brother and I just share campfire stories about our travels in that world. It's good enough.
 

Therumancer

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Nov 28, 2007
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Interesting, perhaps Bethesda will immortalize the work by scanning it and putting it into the game as one of the props so you can read about M'basa's adventures page by page when they finally get around to doing another Elder Scrolls game. :)

The handwriting they can keep, after all most people have pretty bad handwriting by the standards of others, but they should probably change the ink color if they ever do that though.
 

AbsoluteVirtue18

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I did something similar for TES III: I hand-drew a map of Morrowind so I could keep track of any interesting places I found. I still have it around here somewhere, I think.
 

Olas

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Dec 24, 2011
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I can't read a damn word of that, is it in english? God I hate cursive so bad.

I could totally see doing something like this in Fallout 3.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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it doesnt bother me about his handwriting or the ink colour. it is made as a personal journal he chose to share not to sell, etc

its an incredible piece of work in its own right
 

Phuctifyno

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Smilomaniac said:
Doing it with Skyrim though... you're pretty much just rewriting the stories someone else already wrote.
Not saying it's wrong or a waste of time, quite the contrary; I'm sure it makes the game much more rewarding to play and gives a greater sense of immersion.
I know where you're coming from, but that's not exactly true. More accurately, you'd be writing your own story in a world that somebody else created. The degree to which you're telling somebody else's story is proportional to the degree to which you're following the laid out quests. You can create a character with their own goals outside of what the programmers intended. It only depends on the player's ability as a creative mind to put significance into acts that the game doesn't deem significant.

For example, my unmodestly often mentioned Argonian, Caliban. Travels long distances only by water, offers aid only to other Argonians (sensing their local oppression), and possesses a naive mind on a spiritual journey learning about death in a war-ridden land. He's growing a bit of a religious obsession with death and retribution, and has taken to dressing like the grim reaper, with robe and (scythe-like) axe, a dispenses vengeance to pirates and bandits he encounters along his path. Also, he's an under-water treasure hunter.
 

Hero in a half shell

It's not easy being green
Dec 30, 2009
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I can totally relate to this. I wrote a 10,000 word background story...

for my Runescape character.

I've always been more interested in world building and character development than actual roleplay. I thought about joining some of the roleplay threads in these forums, but I realised that I only really enjoyed coming up with my own characters backstory, and reading the actual roleplay of the threads it seemed to just be 90% people talking to each other, 10% actually exploring the world or getting into the action.
Oh well. I think I'll make another Skyrim character, a properly bizarre quirky one and see what happens.
 

Bellvedere

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Jul 31, 2008
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Wow that's awesome. I really want to do this myself now. Not to mention it would be handy as I always get lost/disinterested in my character when I stop playing because I get busy and then have to pick it up again later...
 

BehattedWanderer

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Jun 24, 2009
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I kept a notepad journal of Terraria, that was kind of like this. I randomized each character, and used a name generator to name them, set the difficulty to hardcore, and would get as far as I could with each character before they died, recording a log every night (or every few nights, for the characters that lasted longer than a few days). They all worked in the same world, though, to see how long it would take me to get certain projects done, and what kind of enemies I could get to come bother me.

This makes me want to play Skyrim again, from tip to tip...ooh, and there's all that new content that was finally released, isn't there?
 

Diddy_Mao

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While I'm not the biggest fan of the Elder Scrolls games I have to admit that it's kinda nice to see people still do this.

I've got an old office filing cabinet will tons of this kind of stuff from back when I would play a lot of tabletop role playing games.

Hell, even today I'll spend my free time writing up little notes and back stories to my Warhammer 40k armies...and come to think of it I had done something similar with The Secret World. Nothing to this extent obviously but I've got a Moleskine pocket notebook full of in character notes and hasty sketches of the various puzzles, maps and whatnot found in that game.
 

Jessta

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Ronack said:
"And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. And then I got another cave. And then I got another dragon. Some guard had his knee capped. And then I" seriously, there's nothing to Skyrim's lore to warrant this ...
when I played I didn't become a dragonborn that ran into dragons until level 28 since I never did the dragon quest in whiterun nor did I enter a cave without having a story that directed me to that cave until about level 22ish (Although I did spelunk in a dwarven ruin city called rabaldthar a quest had brought me to its gates). Also throughout that time I only heard the arrow to the knee phrase two times because I never stopped long enough to talk to guards since I was constantly busy and they have something like 50 lines of dialogue
during my adventures I did two major quest lines, 10 moderate ones and about 40 small ones
I started off by joining the dark brotherhood as an acolyte of sorts and was really focused on that quest line and thought it was overall pretty well written my fave character being the crazy mage who burned his ex wife to death over a petty mistake. Once I got to the end of the dark brotherhood quest and all my friends had been killed and I had to kill the emperor who turned out to be sort of a bro I decided to have a bit of a change heart and tried to pull a 360 to a pacifist illusionist character, I ignored the final part of the dark brotherhood quest where I was supposed to rebuild and headed to winterhold college where I was welcomed as a new apprentice alongside 3 class mates, each of which had their own problems and backgrounds, during my time at winter hold I was contacted by the psijic order and told one i would save the world however being more one for side quests and looking to settle down I instead decided to start collecting books for the grumpy old orc librarian which led me through a variety of crypts and grave robbing, all the while I was practicing my enchanting and illusion magic and found a new best friend in J'zargo an overtly ambitious Khajit destruction mage who gives you a scroll that causes you to explode on contact with an enemy and has a line I'm particularly fond of, 'May your feet fall on warm sands' after awhile by some odd twist of fate that happened all around really suddenly I became the archmage of the mages guild and now I'm doing random little side quests around the world forever in search of the warm sands my friend J'zargo makes reference to in this frozen wasteland. all this within the first 20 hours of gameplay playing 3 hours a day for a week.

Skyrim has a crazy indepth storyline with a ridiculous amount of original characters if you bother to sit back and listen a bit but it's incredibly spasmodic and I find it best to start a variety of characters to do the main ones such as Thieves guild, dark brotherhood, companions, winterhold college, bards college, primary quest line, civil war, especially since combat doesn't really scale all that well into the later game, combine it mods and it has an infinite amount of potential.
 

Mr.FrigginMarvelous

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That's really cool. I remember keeping a journal in Morrowind. It was mainly just for remembering who I was supposed to find, where I was supposed to go, or to keep from getting lost in an ash storm. I wish mine was that well written.
 

Jedi-Hunter4

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I don't know what's sadder that he spent this much time writing a journal on the adventures in a game (admittedly a fantastic game but by no means worthy of this kind of in depth documentation) or the fact he wrote it like a 5 year old and in pink ink.

Each to their own if you have fun doing it, I would probably smirk and think it a little odd if I heard about it off hand but if you put pics up on the net and you have done a shoddy job of it expect to get ripped for it!

Have to give credit for some of the drawings though. On another note, journals are a pretty rewarding thing to keep over an ongoing project, just don't get it over a game that admittedly feels very very unique each play through but ultimately there will be numerous people out there with almost identical experiences, due to the unavoidably scripted missions.