A Skyrim dev reveals a development secret about one of the most memorable moments of the Dark Brotherhood quest line.


A game developer who previously worked on The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim has revealed something the average player never knew about the Dark Brotherhood questline. One of the most creepy moments of the series of quests might not have been quite as terrifying as players were made to believe.


Skyrim‘s Dark Brotherhood is a group of assassins who serve Sithis and the Night Mother. After the player unwittingly takes a job that was meant for the group, they can potentially join as a member of the Dark Brotherhood.

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While there’s a lot in Skyrim that has likely spooked players, whether it’s the attacking undead or giant spiders, most would probably agree that meeting the Night Mother herself is an unpleasant experience, at the least. After progressing through the storyline, players find themselves literally face-to-face with the Night Mother, temporarily locked into her coffin to speak with her. Being forced to stay unmoving in first-person mode looking directly at a telepathically communicating corpse, however, was actually a clever way of hiding a secret, according to Skyrim dev Emil Pagliarulo.

According to Pagliarulo, when they were developing the quest line, closing the player into the coffin with the Night Mother caused collision problems. Most people who have played Skyrim or other physics-enabled games have likely seen similar cases, where models intersect and start shaking or moving abnormally as a result. This would have obviously caused some problems in one of Skyrim‘s tensest moments, so a little trickery was used instead: the player is put in first-person mode, the lights are dimmed, and a sound of the coffin shutting is played. However, the player is actually still exposed to the world and fully visible to anyone else in the room, which they would see if it were possible to turn around.

It’s an interesting secret into the development of Skyrim and how the developers had to find ways to make the engine work with them. Skyrim definitely has its share of odd collisions between objects, but the ability to interact with nearly any object in the game certainly increases the immersion.

This particular method of working around a problem is far from the only instance of development oddities in Skyrim, too. Over the years since Skyrim‘s release, players have discovered things like the merchant chests hidden off the map containing the store’s wares and gold, or the hidden room that dead bodies are teleported to. While this particular revelation is actually less bizarre than those, the fact that the Night Mother encounter stands out for so many players shows that the devs did a great job finding a unique solution to a problem.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is available for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

MORE: How The Elder Scrolls 6 Could Improve the Dark Brotherhood

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