The Mystery of Lund’s Hut and Passive Storytelling
Tucked away in the wilderness of Skyrim, not far from Rorikstead, is an abandoned house called Lund’s Hut. It is overrun by skeevers, and Lund, the owner and namesake, lies dead in his bed. In the world of Skyrim it isn’t uncommon to come across an abandoned house, and it’s still not uncommon to find a dead body (or bodies). But there’s something that makes Lund’s Hut stand out from the multitude of other abandoned houses in Skyrim: there is no journal.
From my experience, when you come across a house like this in Skyrim it comes along with a journal that explains what happened. It’s usually the first thing I look for when I stumble on a mystery, but Lund’s Hut has none. There is no definitive explanation for what happened to Lund, or why his house is overrun by skeevers. But there are clues. A bottle of poison left on the table, a grave marker outside with a silver ring, bowls of food lined up below the hearth, and a skeever head mounted on the wall.
In the small amount of research I did on Lund’s Hut (kept deliberately small in order to not impact my own theories), most of the questions are, naturally, about whether Lund’s Hut is suitable for a player home, but I did find a few theories:
- Lund and his wife raised skeevers, contracted a disease from them and died.
- Lund and his wife raised skeevers. Lunds wife was killed by a skeever and Lund, in his grief, killed himself.
- Lund and his wife were killed by skeevers.
Skeevers are at the heart of all of these theories, and I think that’s for good reason. When first arriving at Lund’s Hut you are attacked by skeevers, and there are more inside. Of these theories I think the second one is the most plausible. I think that Lund and his wife raised skeevers and at some point one of the skeevers attacked Lund’s wife, killing her. Lund then killed the skeever that killed her, eventually mounting its head on his wall, and buried his wife. Sometime later, troubled by the death of his wife, Lund drank poison (perhaps poison originally intended for the skeevers) and climbed into bed to die.
Why is any of this important? Why did I just spend nearly 400 words talking about an inoffensive hut in a game as expansive as Skyrim? Because I think it’s a prime example of passive storytelling. We aren’t told what happened at Lund’s Hut. There’s no journal written by Lund to give us a timeline of events. We have to take in the clues and figure it out for ourselves, and while there seems to be a coherent timeline of events just by reading the clues, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the poison was meant for the skeevers but Lund died before he could use it. Unless we talk to who created the house, we’ll probably never know. Lund’s Hut stands out in a game that relies heavily on journals and diaries left behind to tell us what happened. Video games have this unique interactive component that other mediums don’t have, and passive storytelling is a great way of conveying story in an interactive medium. Gamers generally aren’t stupid. Be like Lund’s Hut, let us figure it out for ourselves, your game will be better for it.