Bethesda are looking to really raise the bar with the next installment into the Elder Scrolls franchise, and to do, they've even hired some designers to work specifically on "world interactions".
"We have a couple of designers who are just in charge of 'world interactions' or random things," Todd Howard told NowGamer. "You drop a sword, the story will see that as an event, thanks to the radiant [story scripting] system, and then if somebody nearby likes you, maybe they'll come and give it back to you."
He continued by describing how animals interact too, "These guys also set it up so when wolves hunt, they hunt in packs. If they kill something, like a mammoth "“ and we'll chat more about these at E3 "“ they'll hang out by it for a while."
Hopefully this turns out to be a fully fleshed out system, and not something that's just put in to get a little extra attention.