Previous entry: How I would have Made Skyrim: Thieves' Guild
So, it is the final base game guild that I will be covering for this series, after this I will be heading in the territory of the mainquest/Civil War factions. With some smaller posts as well for funsies. For those unaware, this is a series where I give what I think would be an idealized version of Skyrim in terms of writing, I heavily recommend reading the first entry in this series: How I would have Made Skyrim: An Introuduation and World, as I lay out the many changes to the world I have made which I think would have made more sense than the vanilla game. But anyway, on with the Guild.
The Dark Brotherhood is, like the Thieves' Guild a faction I actually quite enjoy in the vanilla game. I thought the quest was pretty cool, with you basically helping the guild become feared throughout the land once again. However, also like the Thieves' Guild, this isn't gonna stop me from putting my own spin to it. So, let's begin.
The Dark Brotherhood, in this version of Skyrim is suffering from a schism, the catalyst of this schism/internal conflict being the question of whether or not the Dark Brotherhood should continue the worship of Sithis and the Night Mother. There are three sides to this. The first side, being led by Astrid believes the Dark Brotherhood should step away from the religious aspect and should add more focus onto their role as political assassins and spies within the Civil War. The second side, led by Cicero believes the exact opposite, and should stay out of the civil war entirely and focus on the worship of Sithis and the words of the Night Mother(In this version, Cicero is the Listener). The final Group, led by Naalia Aretino, the mother of Aventus Aretino, are more neutral to the argument, and are simply trying not to have the faction collapse whilst trying to find some sort of middle ground.
You are able to join the Guild when you complete a tiny series of quests where you act as a contract killer, the man who hires you found in the Grey Quarter of Windhelm, this man is Naalia's servant(Naalia is a Thane under Ulfric Stormcloak), and through this servant you will eventually join the Brotherhood properly, not just as a normal assassin. But specifically tasked by Naalia to survey both sides, and to try and find a way the matter can be resolved peacefully before the guild tears itself apart. You can go the neutral route, which has you help Naalia(with the option to become her spouse if you play your cards right) and reorganize the guild to better suit the needs of everyone. Or you can side with either Astrid or Cicero, and take command. This will end in Naalia getting killed, the side opposed to your side splitting from the guild and and you end up having to pick up the pieces, and eventually have to deal with the opposing side, be that Astrid or Cicero.
Doing as Naalia says involves you integrating yourself into both Astrid and Cicero's personal circle, for Astrid you'll be killing people of political power that are against the Loyalists(if your confused, read the first entry), as Astrid favors the Loyalists to the Traditionalists. This mostly includes smaller nobles and thanes/their loved ones rather than Jarls and the bigger players. Cicero will be more concerned about opening more sanctuaries throughout the Province, in every hold's capital rather than in just Falkreath and Dawnstar. It is also here you learn that Aventus can also hear the Night Mother. Now, it's during this you also do Naalia's quests, which is to get as much dirt on both Astrid and Cicero as you possibly can. From stuff like Astrid's husband being a werewolf. To Cicero trying to have sex with the Night Mother's body. Stuff that will make them stay in line. It's only when a meeting is called between Naalia, Cicero and Astrid, that you can finalize which side you're siding with.
Siding with Naalia will have you defend her and Aventus from Astrid's attempted Coup, resulting in you killing her husband in a boss battle and Astrid getting away, taking those assassins loyal to her away. Cicero is given an ultimatum by Naalia, to give Naalia full control, or to die which he will agree to. You will then have to hunt Astrid down, and Naalia will offer her services to Ulfric and the Traditionalists. There is a complete restructure of the faction with the assassinations being the main part with the religious section being a side aspect. The Listener is no longer the leader of the faction, but only the religious aspect, with a new position called the Hand taking charge of the faction as a whole. Before the meeting is also when your optional relationship with Naalia can come into full bloom, and since she is thane. You become apart of the nobility of Windhelm if you go down that path. The relationship with Naalia is how you become the actual second Hand of the faction, instead of simply being the second in command, and will allow you to take assassins as companions until death, as well as makes Aventus your companion as well.
Siding with Astrid will have you backstab Naalia and kill her before running off with Astrid, where the questline will end with Astrid offering her forces services to the Loyalists, and the sanctuaries within Loyalist territory will become Traitor Sanctuaries and will become targets for the Traditionalists in the Civil War. This means if you are in the civil war questline, you're either attacking these Traitor Sanctuaries or defending them, and vice versa with the sanctuaries not under the control of Astrid. Astrid and her husband lead the assassins, with you being their second in command. Being second in command gives you command over assassins, allowing you to take any of them as a companion until death.
Siding with Cicero is actually the most neutral option you can get with not involving the Brotherhood with the civil war. Astrid will still try and kill Naalia and Aventus and make off with those loyal to her, and you'll still need to deal with the Traitor Sanctuaries in the civil war. However, siding with Cicero will involve you selling Naalia out to Ulfirc and frame her for his attempted assassination. Meaning she will die and Cicero will continue to lead the faction as Listener. You are his Speaker. Aventus is sent off to Honorhall and is resentful and the Brotherhood will not involve themselves with the civil war. Being Speaker will allow you to order initiates/assassins to kill whoever Cicero says, as well as give you a bodyguard in the form of Nazir.
Now, I know what some people might ask. "What about the Penitus Oculatus?" Well, I did originally want to incorporate them into the guild questline, I thought that was a bit too convoluted. So instead the Penitus Oculatus has been replaced by sections of both the Loyalists and Traditionalsts, called the Order of the Dragon's Blood, and Order of the New Crown respectively, which act as the Penitus Oculatus for both sides, protecting Jarl Elisif and Ulfric. Both Orders want the Brotherhood dead for their own reasons, the Loyalists want them dead to show loyalty to the Empire, while the Traditionalists want them dead to show off to the Empire. Both questlines are more or less the same, however you will need to have started the civil war for your specific side, and gotten to a high enough rank first. You will conduct in secret raids of Brotherhood Sanctuaries, interrogate members, and eventually snuff the Brotherhood from existence. This questline will be shorter than the Brotherhood questline, but still be long enough that it will still be engaging.
That's about it for the Dark Brotherhood, I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. I think the changes I made to the faction follow the theme of inner conflict that while I feel the vanilla faction tried to do, didn't go far enough, while also adding more options for the player to choose when siding with the Brotherhood as well as giving the option to go against the Brotherhood entirely. This, as the title suggests will be the last main Guild faction found within the vanilla base game that I will be covering for this series. I will move onto the Civil War factions, the Loyalists and Traditionalists as well as the side factions that will be involved in the Civil War. There will also be posts where I cover niche factions like the Vigilants of Stendarr, city guard, etc as well. Please, tell me what you thought of my version of the Brotherhood, I'd love to read your opinion down below.
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