My name is David Hodgson, and I was the lead author on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Prima Official Game Guide. I’ve come out of hiding to provide a mixture of background information, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and slightly out-of-date pop-culture references, about strategy guides and writing, in a column on this very website. We’re planning on this to run on a weekly basis, sanity permitting. I’ve spent over 16 years writing strategy guides…, a fact that may cause me to reevaluate my life in the coming months. Highlights include guides for Zelda: Twilight Princess, Fallout 3, Alan Wake, Half-Life 2, and Gex: Enter the Gecko (for the Nintendo 64). I believe I’ve been successful in burning all available copies of the latter book.

Recently, I’ve wrapped up work on the Dawnguard installment of the paper guide, which brings an already-weighty tome to over 800 packed pages. I had great fun writing this, along with copious help from Steve Cornett at Bethesda, and the result is a tome so robust, it may well need to come with a hernia warning. Among the highlights are a complete walkthrough of all the new quests (including those unnamed ones that you don’t know you’ve triggered until you’re scrolling through your Miscellaneous quest menu), and especially detailed maps of the Soul Cairn and Forgotten Vale. If it’s bigger than a bag of bones, it’s been tracked, captured in picture form, and flagged for your inspection. This book really is all you need to act as a companion to your latest treks through Skyrim, either as you play, or as you plagiarize for your popular gaming website.

I’ll ramble on about specific missions in future columns, but for the moment, let’s start the first of a few reoccurring elements: the “Pro-Tip.” Alas, the magazine that coined this phrase is no longer with us (I already “poured one out” for Boba Fatt), allowing me to appropriate it for quick-and-dirty tactical planning regarding activities you might not have thought about attempting. Such as:

Pro-Tip: Gargoyles! If you’ve contracted Volkihar Vampirism, and you’re using the Vampire Perk Constellation by draining the lives of everyone you’re meeting in the realm, you may want to consider the “Summon Gargoyle” Perk. These minions are tough, act as excellent blocking allies when facing multiple foes, and – when coupled with the Amulet of the Gargoyle (found during Vampire Faction Quest: Amulets of Night Power) – two can be summoned if you’re after the complete decimation of a Bandit Camp.

I’ll be offering additional tips each time this blog reactivates, so be sure to return to read all about them. Remember that I’m also here to help: If you’ve got a particularly troublesome quest, want to know which spouse is likely to be a deadbeat, or need to know why the original guide missed that hidden chest in Bleak Falls Barrow, I’ll be happy to answer almost any question you can come up with. Ask them here, and I'll answer them as soon as I can, and may even feature them in a future blog post.

So, that’s the end of the first blog. Pretty underwhelming, right? Well, that’s partly because I don’t usually interact online due to my hermitage, but it’s also because we’re just getting started. Don’t dare miss next week’s installment, where I talk about besting the tonal locks in Arkngthamz. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, then I’m at a loss regarding exactly what kind of blog you were expecting.

Until next time, may your hits all be critical, and your arrows Sunhallowed…

In the meantime, look for the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Revised & Expanded Prima Official Game Guide at a retailer near you!