Diverse as Skyrim's offerings are, an element of repetition creeps in eventually. After 10 hours or so you'll start to see where Bethesda has economised, recycling level assets to pad out the game's umpteen dungeons and cities - a familiar Dwemer bust here, a reskinned Sabre Cat there.
Long before all that, though, you'll notice that certain NPC dialogue lines recur. Sometimes they stand the test of time. And sometimes they... don't. Here are fifteen bits of chitchat that make our knuckles whiten.
Got time for a Skyrim Story? We're all ears.
1. "What you learn here will last you a lifetime. Several, if you're lucky." (Savros Aren)
We've been wizarding for twenty hours, Savros. We've picked through obscure tomes in dank cellars, exhausted the mysteries of arcane conjuring instruments, uncovered Dwemer artefacts and bent them to our will. But we still haven't found any spell or magical object capable of making your syrupy smugness any less insufferable. Next time you retreat to your chambers to gloat over your private herb garden, we'll cast a goddamn fire rune on the door.
2. "Let me guess - somebody stole your Sweet Roll." (Guards)
We're sure you think your harsh-accented cynicism is charming, Stormcloak #456, but to us, you just sound like something they edited out of Conan the Barbarian.
3. "I have a bad feeling about this." (Lydia)
Of course you do. We're in a f**king dungeon. They put bad stuff in dungeons. What were you expecting, shag carpets and naked butlers? Tell you what - let us know when you have a good feeling about this.
4. "I am sworn to carry your burdens." (Lydia)
This was funny the first time we heard her say it. Bless you, Lydia - you just sort of broke the fourth wall, alluding to the fact that you're basically a glorified pack-rat. A fine jest. But then we visited a few more Draugr crypts, accumulated a few hundred kilos of loot, and every time we passed her a lump of Ebony ingot or Dragon bone, she'd trot out the same line in precisely the same tone of weary almost-insolence. OK, Miss Passive-Aggressive. We get that being a human filing cabinet/arrow sponge has its downsides. Consider it punishment for walking in front of our fireballs.
5. "Do you get to the Cloud District very often? Oh what am I saying, of course you don't..." (Nazeem)
Every time you patronise us, Nazeem, we make a little mark on our axe haft. And when there are 100 marks on our axe haft, we'll make a little mark on your head.
6. "I've never seen anything quite like this before." (Lydia)
Yeah you have. We saw one 10 minutes ago. You killed it, remember? Then we tore a bunch of chitin and alchemy ingredients from its stomach and shoved them down your top.
7. "I got to thinking, maybe I'm the Dragonborn, and I just don't know it yet." (Guards)
Sorry, but the position of free-roaming nuisance has already been filled. You can be our next victim, though, if you like.
8. "I must be hearing things." (Bandits)
Yes, and the thing you heard was us stabbing your friend in the epiglottis. Notice that you can no longer hear your friend. That's because he's now a corpse, right at your feet.