My new character in Skyrim is a bandit.
I have 101 mods installed. One of them lets me start as a member of the bandit faction, in theory meaning that all guards will attack me on sight, and all bandits will ignore me. In practice, one of the other 100 mods installed has clashed with it, so other bandits attack me anyway. There are also many, many more bandits. And the handful of combat mods I’ve stitched into my Gordian modlist since 2011 mean that, when fighting multiple people, anything short of heavy artillery basically guarantees death. Almost everywhere with people is hostile.
I can’t slum it like you can in vanilla. Wandering in the hills alone, I will starve, I will freeze, I will get sick from drinking untreated river water. I can basically only carry what will fit in my crevices (thanks to a mod some kind soul tweaked to suit my needs). But I can forage. I can scrape together branches for a fire, steal vegetables from some mountain-living sucker’s tiny garden, and spend hours looking for a good rock to make into a flint axe, so that I may clad myself in the skin of goats.
I can’t win a fight like this. I can in theory non-murderously rob travellers like a sensible bandit, but I can’t even get to the road safely with skirmishes all over the place (thanks to another few mods that it’s frankly foolish to use together, OH WELL), and swarms of bandits (and another). I can’t buy weapons, or sell anything I find (not that I can carry much anyway). I could build a storage box (mod), but for that I’d need a forge, and I’m not aware of any I can get to without fighting a lot of people. The outlook, it is bleak.
But then I find the axe.
I don’t do ‘dungeons’, generally. My Skyrim characters want to live, not stumble around in filthy caves getting eaten by cultists and stabbed by bears. But I start poking into caves and ruins, in case I find that forge to build a box with. And that’s how I stumble on the axe. It is just lying there, in this bandit hideout, out in the open. The fools. I bet they’ve got gold and gems and super valuable boots of blinding speed (mod, with a slight tweak) stashed somewhere deeper, protected by a dozen big lads and probably one of those idiot mages. On the way out, I realise I’ve even walked right past a chest full of gold, but it doesn’t matter. Pfft. Gold. Who am I gonna give gold to? No, this axe has got me more excited than any of that.
With this axe, see, I can chop wood. And with wood, I can keep warm. I can make a tanning rack, to turn skins into leather, and make leather into a tent. I can make lace and string a simple bow. I can carve arrows. I can make a big stick. And I can stitch together satchels and backpacks to carry it all in. Thanks to this axe, I can survive anywhere. The only thing I need now is a cooking pot, and as it turns out, there is a guy nearby who turns out to have one in his bag after I use the axe to ah, bargain with him.
When I come back to the cave a few days later to rob the survivors with my trusty bow and flint arrows, I find magical boots worth 4,000 gold. I throw them away. No use to me, mate. I’m a bandit. I travel light. And I have an axe.