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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim/The Pit

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This is a sub-page of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

At one point in Skyrim's development, the city of Windhelm was meant to house an arena, similar in function to the Imperial City's arena, found in Oblivion. Unlike that one though, the Pit was much smaller and less of a widely-accepted spectacle. A LOT of work went into its creation, but at some point, all of the Pit was scrapped, with only a tiny handful of its content remaining or being repurposed in the final game.

The Location

The Pit itself was meant to be found to the right side of the Palace of the Kings. In the final game, this side of the palace contains a small corridor, it itself being placed there to cover up the large hole of nothingness left behind by the Pit.

Windhelm Worldspace Pit Worldspace
TESVSkyrimThePitFINAL.jpg TESVSkyrimThePitORIGINAL.jpg

The Pit exists in its own worldspace known as WindhelmPitWorldspace, which is comprised of 29 different cells, only one of which isn't simply a Wilderness cell. This cell is named coc WindhelmPitEntrance. As its name implies, it's where you would end up after entering the Pit from the spectator side. The whole cell is a barren, walled-in pit with raised walkways from the spectators. Besides the wall carvings, there are no decorations to be found except for some shrubs and braziers. The Pit uses architecture that lines up perfectly with the rest of Windhelm.

The bottom of the Pit, where the fights would take place, is separated from the spectator side by an invisible wall. There are three different cages to be found at the bottom, one of which opens the wrong way, and another opening in a way that causes its door to clip into the wall. There's also a cell corridor that only leads to darkness, and a big door that isn't tied to anything, just like the door at the entrance. These doors were once meant to tie back to Windhelm. Another thing of note in the worldspace, is that some of the walls contain purple spots, these are from missing textures that are tied to the wall's snow texture.


Finally, it should be mentioned that there are 12 unique NPCs found here, all of them being called "Pit Fan". They all have a different gender, race and outfit - but share a name and all possess a messed-up version of their race's respective default face.

It should also be noted that there are plenty of leftovers that tie The Pit back to the normal Windhelm worldspace. There's a cell called WindhelmPitExterior that still exists in said worldspace, for example. It contains some markers, but is otherwise empty and placed underneath the usual map, implying a height change in the worldspace at some point.

Another part of the Pit were meant to be its "Bloodworks". This term was previously used in Oblivion to refer to the area underneath the Arena, where the fighters would gather and train. It was meant to be the same case here, and the Bloodworks cell even still appears in the final game, albeit renamed. The cell that appears in the final game as the "Windhelm Barracks", is internally known as WindhelmBloodworks. Generic guards, Jorleif, and Wuunferth the Unliving all still refer to the Barracks as the Bloodworks during the quest "Blood on The Ice". This, alongside the inclusion of many markers, shows that the cell is basically unaltered besides the name recontextualizing it.

The NPCs

A notable chunk of the unused NPCs that appear in Skyrim's files, are tied to The Pit. They all appear to be either nearly or fully complete, suggesting that were all finished by the time they got cut.


Form ID: 0001E94C

Benkum was meant to function as the Pit's bookmaker, the person in charge of the bets. If his unused greeting dialogue is anything to go by, he wouldn't be a very honest bookmaker.

Speaker Text File
Benkum Hello, hello, hello. Interested in fighting in the Pit? The rules are strict, but if I don't see it, it didn't happen, know what I mean?
Benkum It's very important to Huki that all the battles are fair. What's more important to me is that my pay is fair.
Benkum Prove your valor in the Pit! If you haven't got any valor, prove your pocketbook!

He wears scaled armor with scaled boots and only carries a simple iron dagger. He's a static level 4 Nord NPC and is a part of 3 factions; "Eastmarch", (the local crime faction), "TownWindhelmFaction", and "FavorExcludedFaction".

His Relationships tab shows that he's marked as an employee of fellow removed character Huki Seven-Swords, and as a friend of Angrenor Once-Honored, beggar that still appears in the final game. He only possesses a single AI package called BenkumIsAlwaysInTheBloodworks. The name of this package is confusing, however, as it would make him travel to a marker called "BenkumStaysHereMarkerREF", which isn't found in the Bloodworks cell, but rather in the unused entrance cell, meaning he would be found outside of the Bloodworks, likley posted by the entrance door, where the spectators could place their bets. It's possible that the name of the package is an earlier leftover.


Form ID: 00014143

Huki was meant be both Windhelm's jailor, as well as the Pit's Matron. A similar title was also carried by the NPC Ysabel Andronicus in Oblivion. Similar to Benkum, Huki also has unused greetings.

Speaker Text File
Huki Looking for something?
Huki Real Nords like to prove their mettle in the pit.
Huki Just between you and me, I wouldn't mind if the Empire just up and left for good.
Huki I'd love get one of those Imperial weasels under my boot...

This dialogue also implies that she would've been pro-Stormcloak. Huki wears studded armor and hide boots, and she's armed with an iron greatsword. She's also a level 4 static Nord NPC, and she's part of two factions: "Eastmarch" and "TownWindhelmFaction". In her Relationships tab, she's marked as Benkum's boss, Brunwulf Free-Winter's friend, as well as the friend of Brond, a cut Pit fighter. She also only possesses a single AI package called HukiDoStuffAroundBloodworks, and once again this name is not entirely accurate. While the name would lead you to believe this was a sandbox package, it's actual purpose is to just let Huki stand in place at a marker called "HukiStandHereMarkerREF". This marker is placed in the Barracks, meaning the package will function correctly should she be placed in-game.


Form ID: 00014144

Brond is the first of the three unused fighters for the Pit. He has quite a few unused greetings, like the others before him:

Speaker Text File
Brond I've been a lot of things in my life. Pit fighter's the one I'm best at.
Brond We should get a dragon for the Pit. I'd love to fight one.
Brond I've been fighting in the Pit for years. That should tell you something.
Brond There's two kinds of Pit fighters -- good ones and dead ones.
Brond Ulfric once tried to get me to fight for him, but marching bores me.
Brond Steel. Barehanded. Armor. Naked. It's all fighting. I can kill you with a weapon or by myself. No difference.

Brond wears hide armor and hide boots, and he's armed with an Imperial bow with 30 iron arrows, a steel greatsword and... a dragonplate shield (?!). This strange addition seems even weirder considering Skyrim doesn't let you use or evencarry a shield alongside a two-handed weapon. He's also a level 4 static Nord NPC, and he's part of four factions: "Eastmarch", "TownWindhelmFaction", "FavorJobsDrunksFaction", and the only faction unique to these NPCs, "Windhelm Pit", in which he is the highest rank of 5, "Pit Lord". In his Relationships tab, he's marked as Huki's friend, Edorfin's rival, and Liesl's foe. The latter two being other Pit fighters. Brond also has two AI packages: the first being a generic sleep package "DefaultSleepEditorLoc22x7", and the second a use weapon-type package called "PitFightersStayInBloodworks". The package was intended to make Brond use his greatsword on a certain "linked reference", but said reference seems to have either never been linked, or was deleted, breaking the package in the process.


Form ID: 0001E956

Liesl is the second unused fighter meant to appear in the Pit:

Speaker Text File
Liesl Stand away from me, or I'll crack you like an egg.
Liesl What are you looking at? Scared of strong women?
Liesl You look mighty tasty. Better not stick around for supper.

Liesl wears scaled horn armor alongside scaled boots, and carries an iron battleaxe alongside an (once again redundant) iron shield. She shares her race and level with all the others, and uses the same factions as Brond, minus the one for drunks. She's marked as a rival to Edorfin and a foe to Brond, with her also sharing the latter's "PitFightersStayInBloodworks", alongside a different generic sleeping one. Due to these two having this particular package, it's possible that they were intended to spar against each other in the Bloodworks, although it's also possible that they were both meant to fight combat dummies.


Form ID: 0001E957

Edorfin is the third and final Pit fighter, he only has a single remaning greeting line:

Speaker Text File
Edorfin What I lack in strength, I make up for with tenacity.

He's also notable for being the only Bosmer tied to the Pit, and he would've been the only one in Windhelm for that matter. He would also be the only person in Windhelm with the "MaleElfHaughty" voicetype. Edorfin wears studded armor with hide boots, and he is armed with a steel sword alongside a hunting bow with 200 (again, ?!) steel arrows. He is also a level 4 static NPC, and he possesses a unique AI package called EdorfinAttackTarget , another use weapon package which was meant to make him atack a linked target with his bow. However, this target was also either deleted or never placed, as there are no training dummies to be found in the Barracks/Bloodworks.

Fellow Prisoner

Form ID: 000967DE

The Fellow Prisoner was meant to be, as their name states, a fellow prisoner to be found locked up in the Bloodworks. They would've been used in the player's very first Pit fight, in order to win back their freedom after being jailed. They are just a randomised bandit boss template copied with a different name, and a different inventory. They are armed with an iron shield and an iron sword, and also carry a lockpick. Strangely, they have no outfit assigned, but seeing their role it's quite possible that they were meant to wear a roughspun tunic with footwraps, the standard prisoner's outfit.

[Blank Name]

Form ID: 00090CFA

Another NPC, this time without a name, that was meant to appear as a generic enemy in the Pit. This NPC also uses the generic bandit boss template, without any alteration - except for their name. A messagebox called "ArenaCombatantName" internally would've made their name appear as "Pit Fighter".

Pit Fan

Form IDs: 000558ED, 000558EF, 000558F1 (Nord males), 000558F3, 000558F5, 000558F7 (Nord females), 00055900 (Imperial male), 00055A1C, 00055B40 (Argonian males), 00055CEA (Dunmer male), 00055D1A, 00055D42 (Dunmer females)

Pit Fans are the generic NPCs that are still found in the Pit cell itself. There are twelve different NPCs with the Pit Fan name, all of them having a different race, gender, and outfit. These NPCs possess no unique dialogue or scripts, but they do all possess an AI package called WindhelmPitFanCheer which, due to broken conditions, doesn't actually do what it says, as the NPCs will just stand in place, motionless. The NPCs do all share the same two factions, TownWindhelmFaction and Eastmarch. Another notable quirk they all share is the fact that they all have a default face, some even bearing broken faces (incorrect, clipping hairstyles or eyebrows) due to them having been gender-swapped without their facial data having been re-exported. It seems that these generic NPCs were simply made as placeholder characters, possibly so Bethesda could see how many NPCs they could reasonably cram into the tight cell. If the Pit had made it into the final game, it's very likely that these NPCs would no longer exist, with their roles having been taken over by actual Windhelm citizens coming over to spectate. Torbjorn Shatter-Shield is a very likely candidate to have been an intended spectator, due to his leftover line, with Angrenor Once-Honored and Brunwulf Free-Winter also being possible due to them having connections to NPCs related to the Pit.


Despite most of the actual arena-related dialogue either never getting recorded, or getting entirely removed from the files, the NPCs actually still have a multitude of remaining scen lines leftover in the files. These aren't actually set up to work in-game, but they can mostly be pieced back together in an accurate fashion. These lines likely remain in the files due to having the same nondescript naming scheme as other scenes taking place in Windhelm (and Winterhold), and the developers not wanting to sift through them all in order to find the ones to remove. Keep in mind, the subtiles here are made from scratch so they might not be punctuated 100% like Bethesda envisioned. Also, some parts might've not been meant to go with each other, but tying these scenes together is just guesswork.

Huki-Benkum 1

Speaker Text File
Huki Benkum, there have been complaints about one of the fighters having unauthorized armor in the ring.
Benkum Well, that would be against the rules, now wouldn't it? It'd be a horrible shame.
Huki Don't toy with me, you little icebrain, it's your job to enforce the rules.
Benkum Yes, indeed. That's why I make such princely wages.

Huki-Benkum 2

Speaker Text File
Huki I need you to put out word there will be a Liesl fight later this week.
Benkum Splendid, Matron. Who will be her opponent?
Huki I haven't decided yet. Maybe a pack of wolves, or some of those Imperial thickheads we have stewing in the dungeon.
Benkum Excellent, my lady, most excellent.

Huki-Benkum 3

Speaker Text File
Benkum Madam Pit Matron, my lady.
Huki Don't get cute with me, Benkum. Just "Pit Matron" will do. What is it?
Benkum The outter restraint has come unhinged.
Huki So why bother me? Fix it!
Benkum Yes, my most lovely sovereign and high-born lady.
Huki See that your inspections are watertight, or it'll be you in there fighting the bears next.
Benkum Yes, ma'am.

Huki-Brond 1

Speaker Text File
Brond The Pit is just boring these days. There's a real war on, real fighting. [[File:]]
Huki Would you rather be out there getting your head smashed by one of those dragons?
Brond I just miss seeing the world.
Huki I've seen it all, there's nothing to see. Now get your rear back in there and keep training.
Brond I will for now, but you don't control me. Nobody does. And someday, I'll move on.

Huki-Brond 2

Speaker Text File
Brond Huki, I'm not sure I have the spirit to fight in the Pit for much longer. [[File:]]
Huki Brond! What kind of talk is that? Either the Pit is in your blood, or your blood will be in the Pit. Do you hear me?
Brond At least it would be a challenge.

Huki-Brond 3

Speaker Text File
Huki You ready for tomorrow's fight, my Lord, strapping, meat of a man? [[File:]]
Brond I'm always ready, Huki. But I'm not yours.
Huki You let me know if you ever change your mind on that.


Speaker Text File
Huki Liesl, what would you say to fighting a dragon? I've got word from a friend in Dawnstar that he could procure one for me. [[File:]]
Liesl Are you sure it's a real dragon?
Huki Of course! I wouldn't lie to you, now would I? [[File:]]
Liesl Then bring it on!

Fighting in the Pit

Unlike Oblivion's Imperial City Arena, where you could just head in and talk to the Blademaster in order to join up as a fighter, Skyrim would do things very different. It seems that becoming a Pit fighter was actually the punishment for getting jailed in Windhelm, and Huki would actually double as the local jailkeeper, as well. If you got arrested and put into jail, Huki gets teleported nearby. Should you pick the lock to your cell, Huki will use a package called EastmarchJailkeeperGreetPlayerPackage to forcegreet you and basically stop you dead in your tracks. (There’s another package called EastmarchJailkeeperGreetPlayerPackageAfterShortCircuit which also practically does the exact same thing, but it has some other invalid conditions attached.)

When forcegreeting, Huki would say this:

Speaker Text File
Huki What is this, you think you're clever?
Huki If you want to fight your way out of here, you have to do it in the Pit.
Huki Gotta give the crowd a show.
Huki Luckily there's no shortage of Pit bait around here. Now get in there and earn your freedom.

You could then ask her "What do I have to do?", and she would further explain:

Speaker Text File
Huki We don't just let people rot in cells until they've served their time. Here, you fight.
Huki If you win, you go free.
Huki If you lose, well, you'll know the freedom of Sovngarde if you're lucky.

It's possible she was then meant to use this line, possibly if you exited the conversation:

Speaker Text File
Huki All right, meat, it's time for you to earn your freedom.

But you could also tell her "I’m ready to go." and she would say:

Speaker Text File
Huki All right. Head to the pit when you think you're ready.

After this point, dialogue becomes very scarce, but based on the other remaining info stored in the quest EastmarchJailArenaFightQuest, the quest would then progress to stage 20, at which point the real quest actually kicks in. This being ArenaCombatQuest00JailFight, according to this quest, in order to win your freedom, you would have to defeat a singular opponent, one instance of the aforementionted "Fellow Prisoner". After defating them, the player would likely go free, and receive the chance to return for more fights.

All following fights seem to be gradually increasing in difficulty, and also have a numbered quest attached, corresponding to the enemy the player would have to fight. The following fights would go as such:

Quest Name Opponent
ArenaCombatQuest01Skeevers 7 Skeevers (released in 2 waves)
ArenaCombatQuest02Wolves 6 Wolves (released in 3 waves)
ArenaCombatQuest03FrostbiteSpider 1 Giant Frostbite Spider
ArenaCombatQuest04NPCsPlusTwo* 1 "Pit Fighter"
ArenaCombatQuest05Bear 1 leveled Bear
ArenaCombatQuest06SabreCat 1 Sabre Cat
ArenaCombatQuest07Chaurus 4 leveled Chaurus (released in 3 waves)
ArenaCombatQuest08Troll 1 Troll
ArenaCombatQuest09NPCsPlusFive* 2 "Pit Fighters"
ArenaCombatQuest10Giant 1 Giant
ArenaCombatQuest11NPCsPlusSeven* 2 "Pit Fighters"
ArenaCombatQuest12IceWraith 1 Ice Wraith
ArenaCombatQuest13NPCsPlusNine* 3 "Pit Fighters" (released in 2 waves)
  • These internal quest names don't actually match up with how the respective fighters are actually leveled.

How would it all work?

Despite there being no remaining dialogue, or much in the way of scripting or quests, the latter two provide enough info to know how the Pit fights were meant to play out. The main script for this all was the aptly-named ArenaScript. This script shows that not all of the fights mentioned above would be available from the start. The player would start at the very lowest rank of the Windhelm Pit faction, "Pit Meat". At this rank, only the first three fights would be available. After winning 10 fights, you would rank up to "Goon" and unlock the option to fight number 4. After winning 11 more fights, you would once again rank up to "Ruffian", and unlock fights 5-9, and after winning 12 more, you would rank up once more to "Thrasher", and unlock fights 10 and 11. The final rank, "Pit Lord" would be attained after winning 13 more fights, and would unlock fights 12 and 13, after which there would be no further progression.

The script also mentions a "loaner sword" and a "loaner shield", implying that the Pit would give you specific weaponry to fight, although there's never any mention of specific armor. Although, during the first fight, the player would probably wear just the standard prisoner's gear. The reward for winning a fight seems to always be 100 gold, even when the player attains the highest rank, although the script explicitly states "player is already pit lord, for now reward as normal", possibly implying that the reward was meant to be changed at a later date, before the Pit was cut.

Not all enemies would fight te player at once. Some quests have "wave" keywords attached, which are noted above. In these fights, some enmies would be released at the same time as the player, and only upon their defeat would the next batch of enemies get released (they would presumably be held in the other cages around the arena). There are actually five wave keywords defined, but only the first three are ever used. Also, not all enemies were meant to spawn in the cages, likely due to clipping issues. The enemies that were exempt from this were from fights 3, 10, 12, and 13.

What else?

The script also contains info on the wagers the player could possibly make with Benkum, similar to Hundolin from Oblivion. The player could apparently choose a random amount of gold to bet (not with a set amount like in Oblivion) and choose either "the field" or an unknown second option. There were four possible enemy options to choose from "tough animals", "easy animals", "people", or "exotic". It's unknow what exactly these categories would've contained, as there's nothing defined about them, besides their name. If the player won the wager, their given gold would be doubled. If not, then their gold would be lost (possible going to Benkum's inventory, although that's not defined either).

There are also some mentions in the script to the Pit's doors. Two unused message boxes are also meant for them.

This one would likely be attached to the spectator's side door, closest to Benkum. Just like in Oblivion, you could not enter the spectating area without making a wager first.

ID Text
ArenaWagerDoorMessage You cannot enter the Pit without making a wager.

This message would probably be attached to the big Windhelm-style door that's seen in the middle of the pit's fighting area. It's purpose is quite clear.

ID Text
ArenaNobodyLeavesMessage You cannot leave the Pit during combat.

The Dark Brotherhood Connection

Quite possibly one of the most famous things known about the Pit is that it was once meant to be tied to the Dark Brotherhood questline. Specifically, to the quest "Mourning Never Comes". In the final game, the player meets a distraught woman named Muiri, who wants revenge on her ex-lover called Alain Dufont, who was actually a bandit leader. If the player wants a bonus, they would also need to complete the optional task of killing Nilsine Shatter-Shield in Windhelm. However, this was once completely different. The early draft of the dialogue lines can still be found in the game's files when examining the lines in the Creation Kit. (Only the relevant parts of the changed lines are shown)

Final Early
And... I heard about Nilsine. You have more than fulfilled your part of the bargain. Please, take this - as payment, and a symbol of my affection And please, take this. As sort of, I don't know, a thank you. For killing Alain in the Pit. And as a reminder of me.
Final Early
But last I heard, Nilsine is still alive. So I guess you decided not to kill her as well. I have to admit... I'm disappointed. But the agreement was to kill Alain in the Pit. I wanted him disgraced. I wanted all of Windhelm to know him for a failure.

It's clear that the original version of the quest had killing Alain as its base objective, with killing him in the Pit as the optional one, leaving Nilsine completely out of the quest. As such, it's unknown if the characters of Nilsine and Muiri were altered much inbetween versions, as Nilsine plays a big role in Muiri's hate. One thing that's known for sure, however, is that Alain basically wasn't changed at all. In the final game, he appears in a Dwemer ruin called Raldbthar, but doesn't really do anything, or even move for that matter. That's because his only AI package, AlainDefaultSandboxPackage doesn't actually work since it's bound to a specific cell. Said cell isn't found in the ruin, but it's actually the Windhelm Bloodworks/Barracks.

Alain was meant to be found in a cell there, as shown by a marker called AlainDufontCellStandMarkerRef. Another leftover is that his class is actually set to "Prisoner". He's one of only a handful of NPCs in the game with said class. Another interesting leftover, is that Muiri gives you Lotus Extract, a poison, in order to aid you in killing Alain in the final game. However, there is another place where this poison can be found, in a barrel located inside of the Windhelm Barracks/Bloodworks. This barrel is known internally as DB03BarrellRef and contains the poison at all times, even when not on the quest. It's likely that originally, Muiri was meant to have had the poison smuggled into jail in order to aid you.Killing him in his cell would just net you your basic reward, as he had to be killed in a Pit match for the bonus.

In order to do this, you would've once again needed to speak to Huki. If the quest Mourning Never Comes was on or past stage 20, and had not yet reached stage 40, you could say this to Huki instead of the normal “I’m ready to go”-line mentioned earlier:

"I want to fight Alain Dufont."

To which she would've responded with:

Speaker Text File
Huki Well aren't you in luck. He's the next piece of gutter scum on the docket. Between you and me, I hope you cleave his arrogant head open.

The lines also have a note attached mentioning the poison, and objective 35. That objective doesn’t exist, and the quest stages I mentioned were likely rewritten as those still exist but mention nothing of the earlier iteration.

At the start of the Pit fight, Alain would've forcegreeted you using the package DB03AlainPitGreet, which he still uses in the final game. The dialogue he was meant to use is actually the same as he uses in the final game, and it's even still contained in a branch called DB03AlainPitTauntBranch. The dialogue got repurposed in the final game, but it does contain a lot of giveaways that he's actually talking about you as a Pit fighter - calling you Muiri's champion, explicitly calling you an "opponent", and the way he delivers his lines is as if he's yelling them to a bloodthirsty crowd.

Unlike his weapon of choice in the final game, the unique warhammer Aegisbane, Alain was also meant to fight you with an iron sword and shield, as shown by the quest data for ArenaCombatQuest00DBSpecial. It's possible that Aegisbane wasn't added until much later, after Alain was displaced. The package he would've used when fighting is called DB03AlainStayInPit. Besides Muiri's different prerequisites, it's unknown how different the citizens of Windhelm would've reacted to Alain's demise.

Other Leftovers

There are also some more leftover details that don't really fit in with the other points above:

  • There are two keywords that specifically refer to the spectators, or at least the places where they stand. Every Pit Fan’s spot has the keyword "ArenaSpectatorSpot" attached, while there is a second keyword called "ArenaWealthySpectatorSpot" that goes completely unused. It's possible that a specific spot for wealthy citizens was decided against due to the already limited space, or maybe because the keywords were kinda pointless to begin with?
  • In the quest data for "Mourning Never Comes", there are two empty scenes to be found: "DB03PitAnnouncerSceneBegin" and "DB03PitAnnouncerSceneEnd". These two empty scenes are the only mention of an announcer for the Pit, and due to them not existing in NPC form, it's possible that they were just an omnipotent voice broadcast through a different NPC, just as in Oblivion. It's possible the announcer was also meant to appear during other matches, but there's no leftover data implying as much.
  • Was Alain really some sort of champion like he implied? If so, were there to be others? And how different wa sthe story with him, Muiri and the Shatter-Shields meant to be?
  • There's another unused quest called "DB03Jailquest" that's basically completely redundant and doesn't have any purpose that isn't already covered by the other quests.


This is an entire list of scripts all relating to the Arena, including references to wagers and to the enemies the player would battle;