Last entry: How I would have Made Skyrim: The Companions
Hello once again, it is finally time for my third entry into this little series. This time I shall be going into the second faction I had listed in the last entry. The College of Winterhold. Now, some disclaimers just so you know exactly what I'm going to get into in this post. In this post, I will be discussing how I would have made the College of Winterhold as well as Winterhold itself, making it just as weird as the old lore from older games such as Morrowind and Arena. Hopefully, you enjoy it. Now, onto the faction.
The city of Winterhold faced great damage during the Oblivion Crisis and is in the process of rebuilding. However, it is still very much a city and not a couple of houses like it was in Vanilla Skyrim. The city would be very magical and have a shrine/statue of Shalador in the center. Now, the college itself is also bigger, having more students as well as professors and even a caretaker. There would be actual classes for the different schools of magic as well as things like Alchemy and Enchanting. The side quests would entail the typical college drama but with a magical twist. There would be no Ancano as the Thalmor do not exist in the period of time this Skyrim is set. Instead, the main enemy of the Faction is a group of rogue mages and spellswords called the Order of Magnus, a group who believe the College shouldn't be neutral during the civil war and are prepared to take violence as a way to make sure they do.
The main quest would start with you not enrolling at the college but instead a smaller magic teaching center in one city or another. After doing well, learning the basics you are advised by your teacher to enroll at the college. You go to Winterhold and after successfully enrolling you are required to go to classes to learn more magic, get your magical stats up and do smaller quests before moving onto your first real assignment. Exploring an ancient Nordic crypt that has sank underwater. There you would first meet the Order of Magnus who tempt you to join them, but are then scared off by the caretaker who was assigned to make sure the students were alright(sidenote, non-mage players can still play through the questline, but as a caretaker instead of a student. Not as interesting, but still something). You would then go on to do more studying and smaller quests and classes before you would be summoned to meet the Archmage of the College.
The Archmage/Jarl of Winterhold is not Savos Aren(He has been moved to the position of Ulfric's Court Wizard). But, instead, it is the Dragon Priest you would normally find in the Labyrinthian, Morokei. He has called you to meet him(which is a very rare thing for him to do since almost no one knows what he looks like) in order to discuss the group you encountered during your trip to the underwater dungeon. He explains that they had not been much a problem before, simply harassing the professors. But recently they have gone ahead and assaulted the caretaker. He wants you to investigate, seeing that you are a capable magic user by this point. This will lead you to discover the Order's main headquarters in Saarthal. It is here you would be given a choice, continue helping the College or abandon them to join the Order. By continuing to help the College, you gain access to more powerful spells through Morokei but are not able to become the Archmage. By joining the Order you do not get those powerful spells, but instead, you are able to gain access to being a Spellsword, as well as becoming the Leader of the Order by the end.
The conflict between the College and the Order would be similar to the civil war, but smaller in size and revolving around gathering magical artifacts and small skirmishes. All the while trying to still study as much magic as you can. This will escalate until the finale, where you must either defend both Winterhold and the College or attack it. You can fail at either objective, which makes you get kicked out of either faction. By keeping loyal to the College(and if your magic skill is good enough) you are able to become a Professor if you so choose, teaching students magic yourself with several things you can specialize in. You will get your own quarters and are paid every week but the College would remain neutral in the Civil War. By being loyal to the Order, it's leader will become the Archmage after Morokei retreats(there would be a side quest where you can kill him and obtain his mask afterwards). You, if your magic skills are high enough will become the leader of the Order. The Order will become involved in the Civil War.
Why do I believe this would be a more entertaining and enjoyable experience compared to the vanilla questline and faction? For starters, Ancano is a terrible and predictable villain, and far too black and white just like the rest of the Thalmor to really be interesting in my opinion. The Order of Magnus, while not exactly saints themselves give an interesting and difficult choice to the Player, whether or not they want to sacrifice the more personal and friendly environment of a neutral college in exchange for power in a more militant organization ready for war, whether or not they are wanting of the role of a teacher and or physical leader. The edition of Morokei and the general magic of Winterhold itself would give rise to the weirder aspects of the Elder Scrolls. While what I've put forth is certainly not lore friendly, I do believe it is far more interesting. But that's just my opinion. The addition of classes and skill requirements, in my mind, gives the impression of you actually learning as a student, with you being a Professor being a good, immersive reward for that study and effort you put into your magical studies.
Thank you for reading, If you disagree with anything I have said above, let me know. I want to know how others would have made their version of Skyrim. General discussion is also great. I hope you have enjoyed my opinions on what I think would be more enjoyable. The next Faction I will be tackling in this series will be the Bard's College, which to give a small spoiler, would involve more than raiding a single dungeon without even picking up a lute~
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