Pranking, not to be confused with the lame meme planking, could be considered a science, or at least a skill. In your earlier years you start off with simple skill building hijinks that you play on your younger and more gullible cousins. You take that quarter proudly in your hands and roll in down the middle of your forehead to the tip of your nose. You smile with pride as you complete this monumental task and your cousins stare on in amazement and eagerness to prove they too, can pull off such a feat. You give them their own personal, prior prepared, quarter with pencil graphite generously applied to its edges and watch, with an anticipating and encouraging grin. As your overly trusting family member shows his superior quarter rolling skills you smile with him and then laugh hysterically at your marks “mark”.
That quarter prank is similar to the more common traps you see in the early quests of Skyrim. The bait, the untainted quarter, is a shade floating around a corner and your avatar eagerly following, to get that sneak attack bonus. The switch, comes when your avatar tries to round that same corner but fails to realize that shades are ethereal, but your avatar’s armored boots are not. Your boots clip the taut string strung along the ground, triggering the darts from the wall, bringing attention to your presence. As the shade turns you can almost see the younger, cousin teasing, version of yourself in its lifeless grin. You realize your are the over trusting cousin, with a line running down your face. You are the mark.
As you progress in Skyrim’s main quest line and/or explore more of its open world you start to encounter traps that mimic the pranks from your teens. The first time boulders and stones came crashing down on my avatar, after I walked through a trapped door, I instantly flashed back to my pizzeria pranking heydays. Boulders were replaced with buckets of water and the stones, with cups of flour. Instead of a bloodied Randy Stardust, leader of the Companions, I picture my boss, leader of the pizzeria.
As of this post I will be in the middle of my birthday week. Which, according to my girlfriend, means I will be getting a heavy dose of real world Skyrim traps. Did you know that workout supplements now come with extra steel? In the form of bottle caps? As of this post my girlfriend will also know that I am well trained in the art of pranking. Thanks to growing up devious, and more recently Skyrim, I consider myself a novice prankster – so I can’t wait for her birthday week.
Though the traps in Skyrim are made with the intent to harm, as will the ones to be used during my girlfriends birthday week, each new form of trap elicits laughter and memories from my past. Even when I notice a potential swinging set of spikes and announce “It’s a trap!”, I will save… and trigger the pressure plate anyways. With talk of new expansions to Skyrim already on the press’s and player’s minds, I hope they include the possibility to “fool your cousin”, in game.