The families of your incidental victims may seek revenge for your crimes as you make your way through Skyrim.
Every adventure comes with a risk of collateral damage. Usually, this gives you licence to mow down as many NPCs as you feel necessary on the way to your goal without ever really being called out too seriously for your crimes against the population. Rumor has it, however, that things might work a little differently in Skyrim; the families of the innocents you murder could actually seek you out and exact their revenge.
Imperial Guards have always been a concern for the lawless in Elder Scrolls games, but according to EB Games Australia's Facebook page, "if you kill somebody, a family member might wish to take revenge." If this is true, it could mean exciting things for the game. Equipped with the game's Radiant AI system (and maybe assisted by the brand new Radiant Story system too), NPCs could be given the ability to plot their retribution independently. Then, they might find you, just to remind you that this isn't Grand Theft Auto or Fallout. Things matter here. You killed their dad/brother/mom/sister, you fiend!
Assuming this civilian-generated revenge all works the way we hope, Bethesda might just have created a moral judgement mechanism that sounds a lot more realistic than the "Pariah/Saint" points systems used in many recent RPGs. By removing the grand sweeps common to these systems and making your wanton violence personal, they could remove the immersion-breaking loopholes (I mean, who didn't just keep giving the guy outside Megaton free water in Fallout 3 every time they stole someone's valuables?) that these systems afford you and offer a gameplay experience that's just that bit more realistic than its competitors. If this turns out to be true, the only other question that remains is just how you're going to explain yourself to the angry wife of that guy you accidentally killed three towns ago. Whoops?
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is due to be released on November 11, 2011.