While writing the Elder Scrolls Anthology article, I couldn't help but reminisce about the amazing, frustrating, hilarious and fun times I have had in those games. One of the best moments came about as the result of me trying to out-think a game and encountering a glitch, while I was playing TES IV: Oblivion.
Let me set the scene: I was a low-level nobody named Big Daddy, with a bunch of garbage gear. I think I was still using rusty iron crap scrounged out of the prison sewers at the time, and was getting my ass kicked by cave-dwelling bandits. I decided to go a-hunting for better gear, and the best way to find gear in that game is to plunder it from dungeons and Ayleid ruins. Now, at the time I was a young and naive gamer, and didn't realize that the loot would be level-scaled regardless of where I got it from - in other words, I would only be replacing my rusty iron crap with more rusty iron crap, because I was rusty iron crap level. But I remembered watching a friend pull some Dwemer stuff out of an Ayleid ruin once when he was playing it on his 360, so that's where I decided to go.
My jaw firmly set and my rusty iron crap sword clutched in a determined fist, I marched toward Miscarcand.
That name resonates with me to this day, all because of the glitch. I went there looking for a weapons upgrade, but what I unearthed was horrific destruction and hilarity.
Not to give anything away, but it turns out you have to go to Miscarcand later on during the main quest. There's an important artifact located there, you see, and that artifact is guarded by a very powerful lich named the King of Miscarcand. If you go there before you're supposed to, the King of Miscarand will utterly destroy you and your rusty iron crap.
When I triggered the encounter with the King of Miscarcand, I could clearly see that I was outmatched. I hadn't found any worthwhile gear in the whole dungeon up to that point, maybe a few pieces of rusty iron armor that were in slightly better condition than the junk I was wearing but nothing that would significantly improve my game. So when the King of Miscarand popped up with his zombie pals, Big Daddy did what any sensible, under-powered adventurer would do: booked it the hell out of there and fled to the nearest city to pawn off the loot he had managed to scavenge.
Now, according to the sources I have read, running from the King of Miscarcand can cause a glitch wherein he will pursue you across Cyrodiil, blocking your ability to fast-travel, wait, or sleep. This did not happen to me. I was able to fast-travel and sleep just fine. In fact, I had no idea I was bugged at all until several in-game days later. Big Daddy simply went about his business, plundering dungeons and caves for loot and practicing his jumping.
Days later, I was involved in another quest in Bruma. The quest involves getting information from a prisoner in the Castle Bruma dungeon, and he will only trust you if you get arrested and thrown in jail with him. To get arrested, you need to get caught committing a crime, and when the guards throw you in jail, they take all your stuff. Once again, I tried to think ahead here, and I stashed all my gear before committing the crime, because a lot of it was stolen and would be confiscated when I got caught. So I stashed all my gear, ran up naked to a town guard and gave him a slap. Big Daddy was arrested, went into jail essentially naked, and came out the same way. The only way to complete that part of the quest is to quietly wait out the sentence with a fade-to-black cut scene.
And that's when the King of Miscarcand found me. Big Daddy stepped out of the dungeon wearing only a pair of ragged trousers, blinking against the bright sunlight, and there was the King of Miscarcand, murdering the Bruma town guards with fire and lightning.
I picture it happening like this: the King of Miscarcand comes flying out of the Ayleid ruins in a rage, and Big Daddy is nowhere to be seen, having fast-traveled to safety the moment he got out of the ruins. He's been down there a while, so he hasn't unlocked all the locations yet - he has to travel by foot to each town looking for the guy who stole his Great Welkynd Stone. He stalks around looking for the thief, interrogating the hapless citizens of Cyrodiil, using the Persuade wheel on them to instill maximum fear before picking the conversation topic, "Great Welkynd Stone".
Finally, he tracks the thief to Bruma, only to discover that he is imprisoned inside the castle dungeon. He wants to go in and have a little chat, but the guards won't let him in unless he's arrested for a crime. So he elects to kill a guard with lightning, and just to make sure it's an arrestable offense and not a minor fine, he attacks all the rest of them as well.
Anyway, Big Daddy ran away from that fight as well. He was naked and there was no way he was going to be able to fight a pissed-off lich. Who, by the way, had already managed to gun down two or three town guards. I got the hell out of there, retrieved my gear from my secret stash, and went back to kill the weakened dungeon boss. Like a hero.
Got a favorite game glitch? Let us know in our comments!