Okay... so we're in the shadow of upcoming DLC that has been discussed ad nauseam (not to say it hasn't all been worth while). There are so many awesome and different avenues to which Bethesda can travel that honestly most, if not all, ideas are within the realm of possibility. But, one very likely and popularly held option is some sort of continuation of the Skyrim Civil War. Whether the Empire "strikes back" so to speak, or the Thalmor do, or the Stormcloaks invade Thalmor territory, or whatever, is up for debate. The obvious fact is... one side or the other would have to be chosen for such a DLC or expansion or what have you. So, with this said, I come to my main point and reason for this blog.........
GIVE ULFRIC A CHANCE!!!!
I realize this can easily become a very heated topic (which is encouraged, arguing matters of opinion is far better than arguing matters that don't require much thought). But, in any case, im not necessarily trying to convince those who despise Ulfric to "about face" and start loving him. I simply want to try and bring about more neutral feelings for him at the very least, and at best achieve this^ Mostly because i personally think Ulfric is one of the most interesting and developed characters in Skyrim, if not the Elder Scrolls series. Now putting personal views aside, I'll evaluate Ulfric Stormcloak and some arguments against him.
One big argument i hear concerning Ulfric Stormcloak, in and outside of the game, is that he "murdered" the High King of Skyrim: Torygg. Fist off, i will attempt to shed some light on the definition of murder. There are varying definitions of what constitutes a murder, but the reccurring terms are "unlawful," "malice aforethought," and obviously it isn't considered murder unless the act is directed from one human to another (for example, a tiger mauling isn't considered murder). Bringing the argument back into the realm of Skyrim, Ulfric is only "guilty" of one of murders prerequisites (besides the obvious and universally held third point). Ulfric did indeed premeditate the murder of High King Torygg, (premeditate=malice aforethought) but he had no "evil" motives, his intentions were not to kill for the sake of killing. As stated by Ulfric himself and others, he wished to prove a point, and prove it he did. It is obviously difficult for some to accept a point being made through the death of a "boy," but nevertheless he was High King, and he wasn't prepared for a challenge. We are talking about the High KIng of all Skyrim here people, not a Jarl only concerned with his/her holds own problems, or rich bureaucrats who only care about wealth. No, the High King of Skyrim SHOULD be a wise and powerful ruler concerned and involved with ALL the provinces wants and needs. Ulfric Stormcloak may be responsible for many deaths, but at least he knows whats going on in his homeland. Obviously the price of ruling a country basically is little free time, but from what is heard about Torygg it seems he had enough of it, too busy "'entertaining his queen," as i recall. Also, he was said to be a puppet king of the Emperor, not surprising considering many Jarls were also in the "Emperors pocket." This is not to say Torygg had no honor at all, as many (including himself) have stated, he fought against Ulfric courageously and with no fear. But, the widely contested point of whether using the Thu'um was fair or not can be quickly and easily resolved. By definite terms, the use of the Voice to aid in the killing of Torygg is not unlawful by any means. Ulfric challenged Torygg to a warriors duel and honorably defeated him using the ancient and powerful art of the thu'um. Even Toryggs spirit in Sovngarde states that it was an honorable battle, however that does not prevent him from detesting Ulfric for using the Voice and defeating him so easily. However, as stated by Ulfric, the point was to send a clear message that Torygg was unfit to rule and defend a kingdom when he couldn't even defend himself. He's not a coward for proving a point against someone weaker than him; if the leader in a lion's pride is believed to be too weak, another lion challenges him and removes him from "office" so to speak. Also, Ulfric seems to be the first Nord to use the Voice for martial purposes in a very long time (possbily the first since Tiber Septim). Therefore, using this "lost art" would naturally be frowned upon simply because it seems like "cheating" when in reality any true, dedicated Nord could learn this power like they had in the past.
With all of this said, I find myself approaching a more "sentimental" line of arguing for justifying Ulfric's decision. Was the decision to kill the High King the correct one? We will never know, but honestly I believe Skyrim would be in much better shape if he hadn't... and i will explain why later. But, even so, Ulfric chose death for Torygg and considering what Ulfric has been through, can we really blame him? This is where the in-game lore hits the fan i guess. To start, lets look at his past quickly. Ulfric Stormcloak was supposedly rather young when he began his training to become a Greybeard and master the Voice. He spent almost tens years, I believe, (going off of what i remember him saying) training before the Great War began. He could not stand being away from the events of the war, so he left his training to join the legion, yes the IMPERIAL LEGION. He fought with them for the better part of the 4 year long war. So 4 years of bleeding alongside imperials that he called brothers at the time im sure, not to mention his eventual capture at the hands of the Thalmor and subsequent torture. So we have fighting for years, watching his men die on foreign soil, "hearing the names of their children whispered in his ears as they died," and being substantially tortured at the hands of the Elves. And when he returns to Skyrim after the war what does he find? The imperials allowing the Thalmor into the land to eliminate Talos worship as they please. On top of this, his own father dies, just something to add in there. But, back to the elves, they simply can accuse anyone of worshipping Talos and arrest them, and as we see in the Thalmor Embassy quest, can easily result in torture and death. So basically the Empire allowed their enemy the right to kill anyone they want in Skyrim for worshipping the founder of the IMPERIALS EMPIRE. Tiber Septim was a Nord, so of course they would be very upset if his legitimacy was threatened. But he fought for the damn imperials too, started the empire they love so much, and was readily accepted as Talos the Nineth Divine. And they gave him up so they may survive a little longer and not end up homeless like the Dunmer. As a matter of faith and respect for the one who started the empire, this i a very big deal. But even more so, the fact that the High King and many Jarls were content with the money given to them so they may overlook the White-Gold Concordat was maddening to the honorbound Nords, such as Ulfric. He literally was losing everything, his fellow soldiers from the war, his pride from being captured, his freedom to worship, his fellow Nords to the Thalmor, and his faith in the honor of his fellow Jarls and High King. I know I would be pissed off if i spent 4 years fighting for an Empire that "won't bleed for us," putting all my faith in it and then being stabbed in the back in my own homeland. Ulfric had every right to be angry and to seek out revenge for such traitorous acts. At this point, as Ulfric alludes, he can do nothing else but fight anymore. So he challenges and defeats Torygg and is branded a traitor for merely wanting what his people deserve. The imperials take their "high horse" stance and call him a murderer and rebel leader, when it was the Empire who through the people of Skyrim to the curb and left them there. It's no wonder everyone else left the Empire, who wants anything to do with an ally who won't watch your back? No one who wants to go to war, thats for sure.
The fact of the matter is, Ulfric made a rash action and is paying for it with the deaths of his comrades. Did he have other choices? yes. But does he have a right to be incredibly angry at the Empire and the Elves? YES. He says himself he doesn't know if any leader, including himself, can ever easily make the order that will cost many lives. He obviously does, but unfortunately he no longer has other options. Ulfric Stormcloak is an honorable and dedicated warrior who respects those that fight for him and the cause with honor. Unlike General Tullius who is close-minded and openly mocks Nords, even in front of his Legate, who is a Nord. And as for him being a racist, well.. try being tortured for days on end by an inhuman race and then tell Ulfric to readily trust them.
In all honestly I feel bad for Torygg and Ulfric. It was said by Toryggs court wizard that if Ulfric had simply asked for him to aid him against the Empire, he most likely would have out of respect for the man. This course of action would have been an interesting one. Because the main reason some Jarls and other Skyrim dwellers hate Ulfric is for killing Torygg, if they had teamed up.. then more than likely all of Syrim would have been united easily. The imperials and the Thalmor would stand virtually no chance admist a fully united Skyrim, without the losses of civil war. They compliment each other well, it would seem. Torygg would have leanred to stand up to the Emperor and more of what it means to be a warrior and rule with honor. And Ulfric would have probably become the top general and have a ton of influence over Skyrim without the need for civil war. Leading his troops into battle with the Voice and bringing honor to his homeland, to make up for the Empire's lack of balls. A very unfortunate missed opputunity....
This all to say: if a DLC/expansion comes out and the choice to join Ulfric or Tullius is still present, hopefully people will choose Ulfric Stormcloak! (: