Skyrim's been out for 13 years, but players are still being surprised by the fact that NPCs die if you steal their hearts

(Image credit: Bethesda / Reddit, winwinwiintrr)

Nearly 13 years later, Skyrim players are still somehow surprised to discover that if you pickpocket an NPC's heart, they'll probably die.

In a recent post on Reddit, one user asked the community if they were "slow" for only recently having discovered that "when you pickpocket a Briarheart's heart they instantly die." While in an RPG as sprawling as Skyrim there are plenty of things that players tend to discover at their own pace, this one does seem pretty obvious.

Forsworn Briarhearts are powerful NPCs found, unsurprisingly, in Forsworn encampments around Skyrim. The result of a ritual that appears to leave them partially undead, Forsworn Briarhearts are created by having their hearts cut out and replaced with a Briar Heart, a plant-like ingredient that, despite its appearance, can't be looted from any actual, in-game plants.

when you pickpocket a briarheart’s heart they instantly die??? am i slow for discovering this just now?? from r/skyrim

The Briar Hearts are placed in the Forsworn's chest cavities, although they're not particularly secure. To get around that obvious danger, the Forsworn Briarhearts are especially good at detecting approaching players, and can even detect them through spells like Invisibility and Muffle. That doesn't mean it's impossible to get the drop on them, however, and particularly light-footed Dovahkiin should be able to pickpocket a Briar Heart right out of the Forsworn's bodies.

Doing so, of course, will immediately kill them Forsworn. That feels like it shouldn't come as a surprise - it's been known about for several years, for one thing, but it's also just medical fact. What would happen to you if someone removed your heart from your chest?

Nevertheless, this is exactly the kind of detail that Skyrim is great at presenting to players even if they have hundreds of hours of playtime or years of history with the game. It's a biological given, but it's also something that the game actively fights against - Forsworn Briarhearts are foes not to be messed with for many players, and their senses give them an active counter to exactly this strategy. Perhaps it's no surprise that this interaction can take a long time to discover, even if its existence in the game shouldn't come as too much of a shock.

There are two impossibly massive Skyrim mods remaking classic Elder Scrolls RPGs, and both had some extensive, gorgeous gameplay to share recently.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.