This session saw the first important milestone in the Companions plotline—i.e., when the player is inducted into the Circle, the upper tier of the faction. And by “inducted”, I mean, “is invited to become a werewolf”.
Aside from that, I did another dragon kill bounty and hunted all over the damn place for assorted ingredients!
- Derped around looking for nirnroot until nightfall
- Got two nirnroots out of the river near Whiterun
- Killed a few random critters while out on the plains
- Came back to Whiterun after dark
- Met Skjor at the Underforge, and Aela in wolf form
- Did the ritual to let Aela’s blood turn me into a werewolf
- Did not rampage through Whiterun, because hi, I’m living here and do not want to kill my fellow citizens, thanks
- Blacked out near the secret exit out to Skyrim
- Woke up with Aela near Gallows Rock
- Got her spiel about ‘we’re going to go wipe out the Silver Hand by way of celebration, Skjor went on ahead’
- Went with her to Gallows Rock to clear the place
- Tough fight, I kept getting killed due to very low numbers of healing potions
- Started making damn sure I threw a lot of the Oakflesh spell around
- Used Dawnbreaker as primary melee weapon until I finally made it to the boss Silver Hand
- Also started throwing Conjure Familiar to get additional aid in the fight and because hey, having a wolf familiar seems a lot more appropriate now
- Then switched off to greatsword to take him out
- Leveled up to 21 towards the end of the dungeon clearing (a couple of times actually since I kept getting killed)
- On final time through took additional Block perk
- Aela told me she’d found they’d killed Skjor and that she wanted me to get out while she made sure there weren’t any leftovers to mop up
- Got four rounds of Archery training from her
- Also a pointer to next radiant quest, assassinating a Silver Hand leader in Winterhold
- I cleared the boss chest and went out through a previously barred door
- Killed one more Silver Hand on the way out
- Got outside, and dragon! It came at me while I was trying to find a way down the hillside from Gallows Rock to the road
- Took a few tries involving backing off and then throwing healing spells to keep it from killing me
- I finally lucked out by having it land and get stuck in a clearing a bit too small for it; shot it to death and got its soul and bones and scales
- And then got promptly killed by a damn bear down on the road—embarrassing Killed a dragon, then got killed by bear!
- Second time through took it out though with the greatsword
- Also got enough Jazbay grapes to satisfy that quest
- Hoofed it into Windhelm; saw opening scene of asshole Nords harassing Dunmer woman; geez, fuck this place, says the orc
- No ebony at smith’s, booooooo
- Got a fire salt and other ingredients and potions from the White Phial shop; also got the quest for the Phial
- Set back out with the thought that I’d go find that nearby orc stronghold, but killed by two snow bears on the road to that; thrown back to coming out of Windhelm
- Fuck it, fast travel back to Whiterun it is! Sure hope my housecarl doesn’t mind me being a werewolf
- Did a bit of leather smithing at Warmaiden’s
- Dropped off a few things, and did a bunch of alchemy to identify backlog of ingredients, then slept the night in Breezehome
- Checked Warmaiden’s and Belethor’s and Skyforge, nobody had any ebony boooooo, but sold a bunch of things to Belethor and Arcadia anyway
- Returned to Breezehome to get Lydia so we could go do the dragon bounty in Riften
- Took the cart to Riften
- Found the local Khajiit, but they didn’t have any ebony either
- Smithed and sold some stuff to Balimund anyway
- Headed out to kill the dragon
- Troll chasing M’aiq the Liar!
- M’aiq: “Dragons were never gone. They were just invisible and very, very quiet.” 🤣
- Critters killed en route to dragon: bear, two wolves by Crystaldrift Cave, two sabre cats
- Ice Mage Adept at the foot of the stairs up to the dragon lair; DO NOT THROW ICE SPIKES AT MY HOUSECARL, GODDAMMIT
- Dragon was my first Blood Dragon this run! Took it out and returned to Riften for the bounty
- No pointer to be thane yet
- Headed towards Ivarstead to get Wylandriah’s thing
- Gathered nirnroot along the river
- Stopped at Largashbur to get the pointer for the ingredients for the ritual; completely skipped the part where the ranger gives me shit? was this bypassed because I’m an orc? Or is Ugor already dead?
- Critters killed en route to Ivarstead: wolves, troll
- Got into Ivarstead; slept at inn
- Waited until proper time of day for the farm to be unlocked; got the spoon
- Fast traveled to Meridia’s shrine to go find Solitude and some nightshade, and maybe also some fire salts
- Got into Solitude; witnessed execution
- Gathered the rest of the needed nightshade
- Smithed and sold a bit at the forge
- Got Angeline’s pointer for info on her daughter; bought a few things from her
- Shopped a bit at Bits and Pieces
- Got Noster’s pointer for finding his helmet
- Bought Fine Clothes outfit from Radiant Raiment
- Boinged down to Sarethi Farm to give Avrusa her Jazbay grapes
- Boinged back to Western Watchtower
- Blood Dragon! Whoops, pissed off the guards by badly aimed Unrelenting Force! Roll back! Roll back!
- Second time through, dragon showed up again but this time it flew off
- Headed into Whiterun; shopped a bit, and finally found an ebony ingot at Belethor’s
- Made Nordic armor
- Also leveled up to 22; unlocked Orcish smithing
- Made a helmet for later!
- Saved for the night
The Silver Hand quest
This was the main meat of this entire session: getting to the point in the Companions quest line where you’re inducted into the Circle and invited to become a werewolf.
There are a couple of interesting aspects about this right out of the gate.
One: the upper tier of the Companions clearly feel like you’re worthy of joining the Circle, even after you do only one radiant quest for the faction. From a gameplay perspective this seems to be another one of those “you go from zero to leading the faction in only a few quests” deals, like the mage college. And it does save you some time.
In the Companions’ case you can probably handwave this by the simple fact that they are headquartered in Whiterun and it is not plausible at all that the Companions don’t know you’re the Dragonborn and thane, and why you got to be thane. They must surely know about the dragon attack at the tower. All the guards gossip about it, so the Companions must surely have heard from someone else in the town even if they didn’t hear it directly from you.
Dara and I talked about this and she was all “Yeah, she’s Dragonborn, let’s get her on our side so we don’t have to fight her.”
Makes me feel a little sad for Ria, though! Every time she greets me with “I killed a bear yesterday! Did you kill anything?” And I think, “Well, three bears, five wolves, a couple of sabre cats, and a dragon.”
Here’s this new badass upstart coming in, and the prior four non-Circle members of the group are completely bypassed by you joining the Circle.
Two: Skjor makes a point of telling you not to tell Kodlak about your being invited into the Circle and to partake of Aela’s blood. Which raises interesting questions of whether the offer has in fact been secretly tendered to other non-Circle Companions, and you just don’t see it?
Also raises questions of why exactly they feel like they have to hide this from Kodlak. The power structure of this faction is such that technically Kodlak is not actually formally in charge, so it’s not like he can outright forbid any new werewolves from being made. But it’s very telling that Skjor and Aela feel like he should not know about your being made a werewolf too.
Corollary question here is, is Kodlak going to know anyway as soon as you’re in range of him? Aela’s dialogue to me during the raid on Gallows Rock tells me that a werewolf can recognize someone by their smell; she’s able to tell me that the first dead werewolf we find is no one the Companions know, just by the smell.
Which strongly implies that as soon as Kodlak—a werewolf—gets a whiff of you, he should be able to tell that you are, in fact, now a werewolf. Especially given that once you’ve been made one, the guards start throwing you gossip lines about how you smell like a wet dog. And hell, if the guards can tell you smell unusual now, how the hell is Kodlak not going to know you’ve been changed?
All of which kind of plays into the whole idea that the Companions, while very strong on honor (“HONOR!!!!!!!!!”), are not necessarily particularly strong on brains. Even the ones who aren’t Farkas. 😉
All that aside, the main interesting thing about raiding Gallows Rock was Aela’s periodic commentary, and how the place did give me a good challenge getting through it. It did take me multiple attempts.
And then there was the discovery that Skjor had been killed. Which raised yet another interesting question of why the hell Skjor went there all by himself without backup. But, see above re: the Companions: strong on honor, not so much on brains.
All in all I’m not sure how much impact on my gameplay being a werewolf is going to get me. Dara tells me that when she ran a Companion before, she never bothered to actually use being a werewolf in any significant way. I feel like I should try wolfing out somewhere like a draugr hive or a bandit lair, just to see what it’s like. But it’ll be important to not do that near any actual city or town, so I don’t piss off the guards.
One thing I will say, though: being a werewolf does mean I’m immune to all diseases, so there’s that! I don’t have to worry about carrying Cure Disease potions around. And this may be handy once I start running Dawnguard with this alt as well, because it’ll mean I can’t be made a vampire either or catch Sanguinare Vampiris.
Sidebar: your housecarls are clearly the most patient Nords in Skyrim
I had Lydia following me when I met Skjor at the Underforge, and she did come in after me. So she totally witnessed the ritual and my transformation. Which means that yep, my housecarl totally knows I’m a werewolf.
And she didn’t freak out! Which means Lydia clearly has a very, very high tolerance threshold for weird shit done by her thane.
Which raises all sorts of entertaining questions about how, once you have multiple housecarls, they must surely have really entertaining conversations amongst themselves.
Jordis: “Went to clear out a bandit lair with her last week and I barely had to lift my blade. She turned into a werewolf and wiped the place out. Smelled like blood all the way back to Proudspire, though. Does she do that with you all?”
Iona: “Divines, yes! Pretty funny though when she growls at wolves and they yelp and run off.”
Lydia: “Ooh, ooh, and pro tip, you all: want a day off? Scritch her right in the middle of her back. She loves that.”
Valdimar, Gregor, Rayya, and Argis: <collectively gape at the others>
Gregor: “She’s… a werewolf? I… see. I wish she would have told me that before I swore to carry her burdens…”
Jordis: “Ooh, she didn’t tell you?”
Valdimar: “Hardly the kind of thing you want to mention in front of a Jarl.”
Rayya: “No. Nor did my Jarl. On the other hand, Siddgeir is an idiot. He wouldn’t have figured it out if the Dragonborn walked into his court carrying a giant banner with the message HELLO I AM A WEREWOLF stitched into it in gold.”
Argis: “Werewolf schmerwolf. As long as she lets me keep staying at Vlindrel Hall, I don’t care. This is the best armor I’ve ever had. And I’ve cracked more bandit skulls this month than I did my entire life before she became my thane. I’m in.”
Valdimar and Gregor: “Aye!”
Rayya (sternly): “But is there anything else we need to know about her?”
Lydia (chuckling): “Oh Divines yes. Refill your mugs and settle in, you guys, this is going to be a long one…”
Rest of the session
The rest of the session was all about doing that dragon bounty in Riften, with a side helping of wandering all over the place to get various ingredients and other items for the favor quests.
And stopping at Largashbur as well to try to get the Cursed Tribe quest going. I did not see a giant attack going on at the gate there. I think that giant I killed in the previous session might have been the one doing the initial attack? Also, no sign of Ugor. I will have to check back there and see if she’s already dead, or if I bypassed the whole Ugor/Atub argument by being an orc?
Racking up a big backlog of quests to take care of in the quest journal. And I probably really ought to go deal with Ustengrav and the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, if nothing else just to get the Become Ethereal Shout. I need that!
So that’ll probably be my next plot-relevant action. We’ll see how many other side quests I’m able to knock down in the meantime!