I first ‘met’ Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, in Skyrim. He was one character that really caught my attention. When I bought Oblivion (Game of the Year Edition) I didn’t really know what the included DLC (DownLoadable Content) contained. I was very happy when I found out that “Shivering Isles” was a foray into Sheogorath’s realm of Madness. Beware, there may be spoilers ahead.
The best part of this was the amount of interactions with Sheogorath. He seems quite insane, with flights of fancy tripping lightly off his tongue. Yet behind that is a vicious edge where death is threatened as casually as he’d talk about flowers. Perhaps it’s the scottish accent, but his way of speaking is also quite lyrical, and wonderful to listen to.
The best part is that you also get the impression that he knows what’s going on; that he’s quite clear on his past and his position in the Realms. This clear-sightedness, mixed with his vicious insanity presents him as a complex, interesting character.
I have to commend the person (or people) who wrote Sheogorath and to his voice actor, Wes Johnson. Writing “nonsense” is easy; writing nonsense that flows, sounds good to the ear, and leads the conversation somewhere is rather difficult. Beyond that, there are serious acting chops required to bring such a character to life without making him silly and give him depth. Those chops are also required to give the edge to Sheogorath, since he has a viciousness that he doesn’t bother to hide – and seem to quite revel in.
His Realm, of course, is a reflection of him. Part of it, Dementia, is dark and depressing, . Part of it, Mania, is light and fanciful. Both parts are dangerous and have wonderful atmosphere.
What was just as interesting to me was the background of Sheogorath. In the beginning we find that Sheogorath’s realm is being invaded by something called the Greymarch. This is something that occurs every era, and completely destroys his realm. This time he has another plan to beat the Greymarch and save his realm. As the story unfolds we find that the agent driving the Greymarch is Jyggalag, who revels in order and despises the chaos that is Sheogorath’s realm.
Driving towards the conclusion Sheogorath sends you on quests so that you’ll take his place, and hopefully break the cycle. And why would that make any difference? Because Jyggalag is Sheogorath, or vice versa. At the end of every cycle Jyggalag returns to who he always was, and destroys the realm of his hated alter-ego. In this case, however, as you become Sheogorath, that helps break Jyggalag free of his curse.
The idea of one character turning out to be another is not new, and has been used in many stories as the twist. In this case it fits the mythos beautifully, and the idea that the already insane Sheogorath also is another person just seems to lay more absurdity on absurdity. I love it!
Personally I’d be happy to see/hear more of Sheogorath in future. He really intrigues me, and I’ve enjoyed my time with him so far.