In Which Merawen Explores North of Windstad and South of Riften
Another low-key session as I continue to look for remaining things I can do before I finish out the main plot. Main action of this run was going to High Gate Ruins for the quest called A Scroll for Anska, but I also got in some exploration along the northeastern coast of the Sea of Ghosts, and found some spots I hadn’t found before!
And I reset my Smithing, and did a boatload of creation of things and purchasing of training to work on building it back up.
- Bought and sold some resources in Solitude, including a bunch of iron
- Potioned up and fast traveled over to Windstad for building
- Magic rupture right by Windstad, not prompted by an Aftershock quest; killed three anomalies, and the Aftershock quest auto-launched. with a directive to return to Tolfdir
- Valdimar showed up! Oh good I don’t have to go looking for him
- Built out a bunch of things in Windstad
- Set Smithing Legendary
- Dropped perk point back on Light Armor to start building it back up; dropped a bunch on various magic trees to pull down the cost of casting spells; pushed Heavy Armor up to the point of having the Matching Set perk there
- Re-outfitted in the stalhrim gear, because right now the stalhrim is a better choice than the Blades armor, it’s lighter; re-armed with the stalhrim weapons to keep to the theme!
- (Though I may have to go back to Solstheim and see if I can find more stalhrim at the source)
- Went next door to High Gate Ruins to run the quest A Scroll for Anska
- Boss level draugr was a generic dragon priest even before I got to Vokun
- Cleared the dungeon, killed Vokun and got his mask, also got the word off the Word Wall for Storm Call
- Gave Anska her scroll; she gave me the Conjure Flaming Familiar spell
- Explored a little bit north of the ruin, because it was right on the shoreline and I hadn’t realized Windstad was that close to the Sea of Ghosts
- Worked my way east towards the Wreck of the Brinehammer
- Spotted a dragon overhead but it didn’t land to fight
- Explored the ship, which had run aground; nothing more serious than mudcrabs on it
- Found a lot of useful ore and some potions (got stuck at one point trying to get the potions out of the crate and had to roll back to prior auto-save)
- Archery skill book that kicked me up to 100
- Kept hearing the dragon, though
- Headed towards skiff southeast of the wreck to also doublecheck that I hadn’t already used that skill book there (answer: yes, I had)
- Caught up with the dragon, finally, which was a Blood Dragon
- But the game crashed after I killed it, just as I was trying to head east to Dawnstar 🙁
- Thrown back to coming out of the wreck, so I had to re-do the skiff and the dragon fight
- This time the dragon also attacked a nearby bandit camp
- Very buggy frame rates at that bandit camp? May have been a symptom of the same thing that caused the crash?
- Killed dragon and bandits with magic; used Greater Ward spell + fire spells
- Also threw the Fire Breath shout at the dragon, that was fun 😀
- Noted the bandit camp on the wiki list of unmarked places
- Headed east to sell stuff in Dawnstar
- Attacked by a thief in glass armor, yet another one who didn’t recognize his guild master
- He yelled “I’ll see you burn!” at me, which was pretty hilarious given that I was throwing fire in his face at the time
- He also kept trying to yell for mercy and then croaking “if I can just stand up…”, and then coming back at me for another round; he even freaked out once and fled because I’d set him on fire, and then came back one more time
- Dude, you had your chance to flee? But so be it *FLAMES TO THE FACE*
- (This is what you get for attacking your guild master, asshole)
- Found another unmarked spot which turned out to be where the missing mage apprentice Yisra died, lingering flames on the ground near Yngvlid; Yisra apparently had very bad luck with the Flame Cloak spell
- Found the Tower Stone, which is apparently a lockpicking stone? I have Lockpicking at nearly 100, I think I’m good 😀
- Pro tip: do not try to Whirlwind Sprint across tops of glaciers, this will not go well (sidebar: ow)
- (Fortunately I saved before trying this experiment)
- Found unmarked skeleton location with a flag (skill book there was one I hit already)
- Kept working my way east to see if I could find anything else cool
- Pretty sure I found Pilgrim’s Trench (ship graveyard), but it was night time in game and I didn’t want to try to go diving in the dark, so onward
- Attacked by snowy sabre cat when i made it back to shore; Imperial courier went running by me as i was setting the cat on fire
- Also found Ysgramor’s Tomb, though couldn’t explore it because quest-locked for the Companions quest line
- Spotted what was probably Skytemple Ruins, and also an under view of the college I don’t normally get
- But finally ctrl-alt-fuckit’d and fast traveled into Winterhold, then walked up to the college
- Tried some alchemy and enchanting for a bit to see if I could get past 67 but didn’t quite make it (and also belatedly realized right, Enchanting at 100, it’s not going to level me now)
- Sold a few things to Colette
- Resolved surprise unofficial Aftershock quest with Tolfdir
- Practiced magic for a while in the Hall of the Elements, particularly Greater Ward and Incinerate
- Went back to Windstad to build out more things, and also to work on regaining Smithing
- Made a crapton of leather and hide armor and a few iron things, got Smithing back up into the 30’s
- Turned on Steel Smithing as I leveled up to 67 finally
- Decided to go to Riften to sell things and work my way south to Forelhost
- Arvak’d to Fort Greenwall and heard somebody yelp, HA, I think I scared the shit out of some bandits 😀
- They started attacking me and I rode off; had to get off Arvak to fight a bear though
- Bandits kept shooting while I was fighting the bear, but didn’t pursue, so I made it to Riften
- Got in overnight and saw the guards take out another thief, so I took his stuff
- Hung out at the forge until daybreak
- Sold all the stuff I’d made to Balimund, then bought five rounds of Smithing training from him
- Went out the southern gate
- Noted Snow-Shod Farm
- Discovered Shadow Stone, where I pissed off a conjurer with my approach
- Look lady, I just wanna see what Stone it is, I don’t wanna fight with you, OKAY FINE *WARDS AND FLAMES TO YOUR FACE*
- Nightingale blade when I ran out of magicka
- Ooh Shadow Stone lets you turn invisible, but lol I’m already a Nightingale, Nocturnal’s got me covered there
- Met two different hunters, one of which was a poacher; don’t worry, your secret is safe with me
- Headed east from there up to the dragon lair Lost Tongue Overlook
- Dead Stormcloak at the bottom of the steps, or at least somebody in Stormcloak armor
- Spellcaster trap got me, and I dropped right back down the stairs ow ow ow ow
- Thrown all the way to coming back out of Riften’s southern gate
- Take two of killing the conjurer: “I am master of the arcane!” “Well I’m the fucking Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold, and also master of this sword, so eat stalhrim!”
- Hunters didn’t respawn, but I did get a pissed off spriggan who sicced an elk on me on my way to the dragon lair
- No dead Stormcloak at the stairs this time, but I did find a burned carriage
- Fuck yeah, disabled the spellcaster trap with Telekinesis!
- Switched off to stalhrim gear though to take on the Revered Dragon at the lair
- Got word for Dismay Shout off the Word Wall
- Found Crystaldrift Cave
- Derped around a little while trying to find the path to Forelhost
- Stumbled across Darklight Tower again (and what was probably a pointer to the tiny dwemer ruin Rkund)
- Finally made it to Forelhost though and saved for the night
Surprise additional magic rupture!
I discovered this time that you can apparently have those magic ruptures left over from the Eye of Magnus, even without prompting Tolfdir for a quest to go find one! And one of the spots where there’s a chance of this happening is right by Windstad Manor.
But I didn’t know that before this run, and was therefore very startled to see that shimmer in the air right by the house when I fast traveled in.
Still though the handling of this scenario seems buggy. Once I dispatched the anomalies, the Aftershock quest auto-launched and I got an objective to return to Tolfdir, as per how the quest usually works.
(Later, when I did report to Tolfdir at the college, I still got his closing dialogue about how “the Jarl” was very happy with the work and I deserved a big chunk of the reward? Um, yay? I get paid for clearing out magic anomalies right by my own house? Awesome!)
Setting Smithing Legendary, and other crafting updates
Decided in this run that I should go ahead and set my Smithing to Legendary. This is my train of thought on that:
- Just about all of the skills I seem to favor in my play style made it up to 100 in recent levels, or are otherwise very close. For Merawen, that’s meant Speech, Light Armor, Smithing, Enchanting, and as of this session, Archery. Lockpicking is also about to hit 100. Since these are the skills I’ve historically used the most, continuing to use them makes it more difficult for me to level up.
- However, in this run, I’ve also got a bunch of other skills that are high enough that I can use them to compensate for anything I reset to Legendary. My Heavy Armor’s good enough that I can wear Heavy Armor and still be protected. And now I’ve also got my magic high enough that I can more effectively use Wards and the various “flesh” type spells, notably Stoneflesh and Ebonyflesh.
- Resetting Speech was kind of a no-brainer. I’ve got the Amulet of Articulation if I need to pass a difficult Persuade check. And I am swimming in gold, so I don’t exactly care if the vendor prices suck. Plus, as I observed in a previous post, having lower prices also means I have a better shot at selling more things. And, I have all the Thieves Guild fences set up, with their higher gold available, so I’m not hurting for places to sell things.
- Resetting Smithing seemed to be the next logical choice. Sneak feels way too damned critical for Merawen as a thief and a Nightingale, so I don’t want to fuck with her Sneak. And punting the Smithing back down to 15 put me back into a position to have a reason to burn through my backlog of building materials–because seriously, what else am I going to do with over 70 dwarven metal ingots?
Doing this let me throw all the perk points on the Smithing tree over onto other trees, as I described above. So I feel like this put me in a real good position to start using magic more offensively. Which went well as this particular session proceeded!
Plus, I like Balimund in Riften and it was satisfying to be able to go buy Smithing training from him. I figure it won’t take me long to get the Smithing back up to acceptable heights!
A Scroll for Anska quest
This played out more or less the same way it did for Alarrah, so I don’t have too much to add to that. I do like this quest though, just beause Anska is a fun NPC, so it was pleasant to do it again.
Plus, it let me tick off another one on the list of Dragon Priest masks. I’m less interested in the masks per se, just because out of all of the various masks, the only one I’ve found actively useful is Volsung. But I do appreciate that the Dragon Priests put up good fights!
Also, getting the mask as well as the new Shout word appeals to my being a game completist.
Exploring the coast
As I said up in the highlights, I hadn’t quite realized that Windstad Manor was as close as it is to the coast of the Sea of Ghosts. Not right smack dab on it, but a surprisingly short walk away!
I discovered this after I got done running High Gate Ruins, and decided to explore a bit. My original plan was to try to find a shipwreck I had an icon for on my map, but which I hadn’t discovered yet. Getting to that took less time than I’d anticipated!
It also led me to having a fun jaunt heading east, all along the coastline, in search of other things I hadn’t found yet. The Wreck of the Brinehammer was fun in a very low-key kind of way, partly just because it had nothing more serious in it than mudcrabs, but also because of how the ship had ran aground. Poking around in it was challenging just because of the angle it was sitting at.
I was also surprised to find the site where another of the missing mage college apprentices died! According to the wiki, the four missing apprentices you can learn about from Phinis were originally supposed to be part of a quest that never got finished. Still though the fact that you can find out about their fates just as background detail of the game helps flesh out the experience nicely. Not to mention underscoring that it can be quite dangerous to be an apprentice of the college!
And speaking of the college, that was my other favorite part of this little jaunt–getting an underside view of the college I hadn’t seen before. Documented in the accompanying screenshots!
Fast traveling to Fort Greenwall
As noted above, when I boinged down to Fort Greenwall on Arvak, I distinctly heard one of the bandit NPCs there let out a startled yelp. Which was hilarious.
It’s not clear to me whether he yelped because I came in on the spooky-looking ghost horse (which, if so: lolololol), or whether just because I appeared out of nowhere? Or whether it was fast travel + Arvak + night?
I’ll have to try fast traveling on him to somewhere else with immediately nearby NPCs, just to see if I can make this happen again. 😀
Exploring south of Riften
My main point of boinging down to Riften, aside from selling stuff to Balimund and also paying him for Smithing training, was to put myself into a position to get to Forelhost.
But that said, I was also still in an exploring kind of mood. So it was fun to check out some of the locations just south of Riften that I hadn’t really looked at before. And also fun to get in plenty of practice using magic both offensively and defensively!
Definitely running Forelhost. As it’ll be a Sunday night session I may not have time for more than that!
After that I have this sort of unofficial agenda of swinging further west towards Arcwind Point, to finish checking that out properly. And by then I’ll probably need to swing into Whiterun to do another loot-selling run.