Training Dummies in Bethesda Games

Guys, remember how Morrowind and Oblivion had training dummies literally everywhere? You know these wooden things that existed solely to have NPC’s wailing on them every once in a while? Or the little targets for bow practice? Hell, even Fallout 3 had few places where you could shoot at cans or bottles lined up against the wall. I was always annoyed they were merely props and scenery elements. Why couldn’t they be used for actual training?

I mean, think about tit. You are walking around and you see a dude shooting arrows at an archery target, or whacking a wooden dummy with a sword. What do you do? You go and take a whack at it yourself. Tell me you have never done this. Tell me you never fired a few arrows at one of those target things. Tell me you never swung a weapon at a training dummy or never unloaded a few rounds into a neat stack of cans/bottles in Fallout. Unfortunately it does nothing to increase your skills.

Even Fallout 3 has these things.

I was always annoyed at this. Why can’t you train using the training dummies? I mean, this is what they were meant for, no? That’s what NPC’s supposedly use them for. So why not allow the player character do the same? Why not count hits scored against the dummy as “real hits”.

I know, I know – this is probably a game balancing thing. If you could train your weapon on a dummy a lot of people would just stand there for hours and do nothing else. I mean, there are dozens of tutorials and videos out there that show you how to outwit Bethesda leveling algorithms by sneak-walking into the wall in just the right spot, or abusing the master trainers. But it wouldn’t need to be like this. You could put a limit on how much training could be done for a dummy. I can see two caps that could be relatively easily implemented even via mod of some sort:

  1. Hit Counter – have a running counter that shows how many hits has the player scored on dummies (any dummy in the game is on the same counter). Once enough hits are scored, deactivate the dummy training script and notify the player via some sort of message. Any hits scored on the dummy do not train the skill, until the counter resets itself the next day.
  2. Skill Level Cap – training dummies and targets are great for beginners, but they can’t really teach a seasoned veteran anything new. At some point, you need live combat experience to progress. Thus, a player can only dummy train their skill until they reach a certain level. After that, dummies become ineffective.

Thus a low level character can really get a training boost out of using the dummies, and perhaps gain a few levels quicker than expected. But eventually the dummy training will become useless at a later stage of the game.

Oh, and apparently there is an Oblivion mod for that. I would test it but I don’t have Oblivion installed at the moment. I don’t believe this mod has any training caps like the ones I described above, making it less than balanced. Hmm… Maybe I should install Oblivion and try to figure out how to use that game editor one day.

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7 Responses to Training Dummies in Bethesda Games

  1. Alex UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    Don’t mean to be “that guy,” but I was really enthralled at the second paragraph when you invited me to reminisce about boobs. “Think about tit.” :)
    Awesome idea though, Ratchet and Clank seems to have implemented it somewhat in the Up Your Arsenal installment with both a training room and a gladiator ring. The training room does basically as you described, and the gladiator room has more strings and challenge-type stuff attached. I wish more games had this sort of training ability in them.

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  2. Adrian BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I always use some training dummy-mod in Oblivion. It greatly enhances the roleplaying value for a warrior/soldier/.. type character.

    What I think is most important for Bethesda to add, if they would implement this, is making the experience fade out the higher your skill is. e.g.: Such as how a war veteran won’t learn new things by hitting a dummy, but he’ll practise his reflexes and strength.

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  3. Nicholas UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    When I entered the pentagon in fallout3 and saw all of the brotherhood guys working out and doing target practice, I figured that there had to be someone you could talk to about training(like a strength bonus from the push-up guys). I wasn’t extremely dissapointed by the lack of brotherhood combat training, but it is kind of odd that bethesda would put all that stuff in there just so you could watch npcs practice.

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  4. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Actually, the bucket over the well in Oblivion’s prison sewers is a true training dummy. To mod it, you could just replicate the object in front of any of your houses in Oblivion and cap the script to a certain level.

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  5. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Having dummies, or any way to “train” skills outside the intended leveling scheme, is a wrong idea. It completely imbalances character creation and development choices. Any skill that can be trained later, especially for free, is not worth investing in until you hit the cap. Why tag and improve Small Guns regularly if you can just shoot a dummy, rest a day, repeat until you hit the cap and then invest all your saved points to become an instant sharpshooter ?

    F1&2 had this problem with training books, but they were sufficiently rare and expensive that a beginning character couldn’t really afford them. Still, it pretty much discouraged putting points in any skills that could be enhanced through them before hitting 95%. Tagging Barter could lead to a level 3 or 5 character becoming better at shooting things, medicine, unarmed combat, survival, repair and science than a specialized character focusing in only a couple of the above.

    Dummies somewhat fit in Oblivion and Morrowind because they’re coherent with the leveling scheme : do an action X times until you get better. I guess it would fit in the F3 philosophy of jack-of-all-trades characters that can do anything as well, but it would make the SPECIAL system even more meaningless than it already is.

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Alex:

    Oops… I guess this makes my post…

    *puts on sunglasses on top of sunglasses

    … titillating.


    @ Adrian:

    Heh, interesting. So you don’t actually increase skill anymore but you still get a bonus to a given attribute when you level up. I like it.

    @ Nicholas:

    Yup, same here. I kept wandering around and talking to people hoping someone will be a trainer or something.

    @ Alphast:

    Nice, I didn’t think of that. Isn’t one use only though? I don’t remember that part. I always save Bethesda games right before that one special door, where they give you an option to change everything, and then play from there with different characters.

    @ Zel:

    Ah, yes – I forget Fallout 3 is using the SPECIAL system and not the usual Bethesda leveling. You are absolutely correct that the dummies would probably break that system.

    Then again, they could have turned it into a minigame of sorts. Like, shoot all the target in a sequence without missing once and you get some minor perk. Or something like that.

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  7. Adrian BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Now I’m thinking about it. Maybe strength and dexterity and the likes should be handled like health, stamina or magic. (But just a little different.)


    I play a nord warrior in Oblivion. I fight/train/work my ass off and my strength and agility and endurance go way up. I’m the “chosen one”, save all of Tamriel blablabla. I get lazy. I don’t do anything any more, I just pay someone to do it for me.

    It doesn’t make any sense to remain that strong indefinitely. My stats should regress. Especially strength, agility and to lesser extent endurance. Simply hitting a training dummy a few times a day/week will counter that loss.

    Abilities, such as marksmanship and swordfighting etc., shouldn’t be affected though. Mental things are relearned way faster.

    But maybe all that would just be a nuisance or a bore.
    What do you think?


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