I got up this morning realizing I’d identified another core reason why Inigo harshing on the Dragonborn for absorbing dragon souls bugs me.
I’ve already written in my last Harrowhark post about how it annoys me that Inigo has no reason whatsoever to get on the Dragonborn’s case for this. Nothing happens in the game to make it at all a possibility that the Dragonborn absorbing the soul of a slain dragon is harmful to anybody except the actual slain dragon.
But that’s only part of what bothers me about this. The other part of it is a question of narrative and conflict.
I’m a writer, y’all. I get that in order to drive conflict in a narrative, sometimes characters are going to have opposing ideas. And Inigo as a character isn’t even necessarily out of line getting an idea into his head like “the Dragonborn absorbing dragon souls is dangerous.” By his own admission to the player, Inigo does have a history of skooma use. And you even encounter him for the first time when he’s voluntarily locked himself in the mail in Riften, somehow convinced that he’s killed you. So clearly, Inigo’s thought processes are, shall we say, not typical.
But here’s the thing. The Inigo mod sets this character up with this weird idea, one that’s deliberately contradictory to the general lore and to what happens in the game itself… and there is absolutely no way to resolve this conflict.
What prompts you have to interact with Inigo give you no option to actually talk about this with him. You can’t ask him why he’s reached this conclusion. You can’t try to talk him out of it and assuage what certainly looks to me like subconscious fear on his part, or maybe something caused by leftover skooma damage to his brain. You can’t even just confront him about it angrily and tell him to knock it off.
And even if you decide as part of your playthrough that you think Inigo has a point and you want to reject absorbing dragon souls, you have no way to do this. As I wrote in the other post, Skyrim does not give you that option. The soul absorption happens automatically, as soon as you kill a dragon, assuming that the dragon’s body falls within range of you.
(Which doesn’t always happen! I’ve had a prior incident of a dragon body falling down behind the College of Winterhold in a prior playthrough, as well as down over the side of a cliff on Solstheim. But those were rare exceptions to the general rule.)
The mechanics of the core game give you no way to not absorb dragon souls, as I’ve said before. (And, I maintain, nor should it. Because core concept of the lore.)
But Inigo’s mod doesn’t give you any way to do this, either. I’m not even sure it could. It would take a fuckton of extra work to set up a quest wherein the Dragonborn could try to figure out how to not absorb dragon souls, maybe by channeling that power into a weapon or something that any hero could use against dragons? And that could be narratively interesting. But that turns a single-follower mod into a much bigger endeavor. And I’ve been in the tech industry for my day job for way too long to not have a healthy fear of scope creep. 😉
As a writer as well as a lifelong consumer of stories (in books, in TVs, in movies, in games), I find character conflicts that never resolve a fundamental narrative flaw.
And that, I think, is the core problem I have with this whole “Inigo hates that you absorb dragon souls” thing. Because it’s a character conflict that by definition cannot be resolved. So it turns instead into a situation where Inigo just gives me constant shit for a thing I cannot control, and that is not satisfying to me as a player.
I’m given to understand that Inigo’s creator does have intentions to fully flesh out a quest line for the character in version 3 of the mod. Which raises the possibility that maybe such a quest line would in fact address this question. And if it did, I could work with that! I don’t mind good character conflict if it actually has a narrative purpose and goes somewhere interesting.
Otherwise, having an option to toggle off the dragon soul commentary completely would avoid the whole problem, and I could work with that, too.
Let me also note for the record: that I still have all these thoughts boinging around in my head is a testament, I think, to how well Inigo is done in his mod. This is the only thing that bugs me about him, and even though it does bug me, I’m in a headspace about it where I would prefer to see the conflict actually go somewhere interesting! Because I do like the character.
So we’ll see what happens if Inigo version 3 comes to fruition. As I said before, I will absolutely give him another shot once v3 happens.