Skyrim confirms the grim truth behind its Headless Horseman

Skyrim confirms the grim truth behind its Headless Horseman
Summit Entertainment | Bethesda

Written by 

Tom Chapman


1st Mar 2023 15:08

If you're playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, remember, don't lose your head. While GTA has Bigfoot, Fallout 4 has a kid in a fridge, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the Happy Mask Salesman. Still, nothing compared to the weird and wonderful NPCs of Skyrim

From the return of Morrowind's M'aiq the Liar to the chicken necromancer, Sheogorath (also the Oblivion player character) turning rain into cheese to the hated Cicero, we had them all. All of them pale in comparison to the mysteries of the Headless Horseman

The Headless Horseman has a tragic Skyrim story

If you've ever laid awake at night wondering how the Headless Horseman came to be in Skyrim, designers Justin Schram and Joel Burgess told BioShock Infinite Level Designer Steve Lee (via PCGamesN) the even more tragic backstory of the HH.

Apparently, it wasn't the case of just chopping the head off any old NPC, with knocking the block off the Headless Horseman being more difficult than you'd think. Burgess explained, "You would call a script command at a certain point in their spawn. You had to do it at the right moment."

The tricky bit is because you could dismember body parts without killing an NPC it came with a gruesome side effect. "If you were there at the time, you would see their heads explode, added Burgess, "So we had to spawn them around corners and stuff.”

"I spawned this horseman," said Schram, "And I gave him this little back story and a place in the world to go. We put a ghost shader on him. His head explodes in the background. And then he travels to this one point, his grave in the world. It's this simple, little dumb thing but I'm so proud of it."

Of course, the Headless Horseman is a pretty pointless NPC that's just there for a bit of lore. He can't be harmed, will leave you alone, and isn't connected to any other quest. It's refreshing to know the team put so much effort into a character that didn't even need to be there.

What's going on with The Elder Scrolls 6?

For those hoping we'll see the Headless Horseman ride into the next game, you might have a bit of a wait on your hands. Bethesda is currently hard at work on Starfield, and only then, will move to work on The Elder Scrolls 6

With Bethesda now falling under the iron grip of Microsoft, we also know The Elder Scrolls 6 will be an Xbox exclusive. Apart from a teaser all the way back at E3 2018 and a map tease at the start of 2021, we know literally nothing about what's on the way to the next chapter.

There's sure to be another colourful cast of NPCs riding their way across Nirn, but alongside a new-gen Headless Horseman, we hope we'll get to see more from Ulfric Stormcloak. Come on Bethesda, make it happen.

Tom Chapman
About the author
Tom Chapman
Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.
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