Primary action in this session was the finale of the Dawnguard plot, slaying Lord Harkon and putting a stop to the prophecy about blotting out the sun. And after that, some side action: taking out the Thalmor assassin targeting Malborn, and finding the Word of Power at Shriekwind Bastion.
- Play date: 12/28/2021
- Session number in this run: 59
- Started at Fort Dawnguard; got Isran’s “let’s go kill all the vampires” speech
- Tried to boing to Castle Volkihar to begin the assault and killed out of the gate; thrown back to Fort Dawnguard
- New plan: hey Florentius, howsabout you sell me healing potions? Nope, he’s gone already
- Okay take two; nope, killed quickly
- Right then, Plan C: hit up all the apothecaries on the way to Volkihar and hope I don’t spawn the Traveler
- Elgrim’s Elixirs at Riften: success
- Next stop: Windhelm
- Serana re: Windhelm: “I had expected Ysgramor’s city to be… bigger.”
- The White Phial: success
- Next stop: Dawnstar
- Blood Dragon! Initially dragon vs. giant, but then it started strafing the city and welp not having that; took out the dragon, and then also the giant since it was still pissed off
- Went and waited by the apothecary for it to open
- Mortar and Pestle: success
- Next stop: Whiterun
- Sold loot off the dragon to Adrianne; sold most of the dragon bits to Belethor
- Arcadia’s Cauldron: kind of successful? What the hell, Arcadia, you need more healing potions! Sold her remaining dragon bit though
- Next stop: Morthal
- Reached Lami’s hut and tried waiting for nine hours, but spawned a vampire attack, oops; successfully fought them off
- Had to wait a couple more hours for Lami to show up in her shop, but then was able to buy potions
- Next stop: Falkreath
- Grave Concoctions: meh, not many potions of healing at all
- Next stop: Solitude
- Angeline’s Aromatics: kind of successful, made a few additional Restore Health potions at her table
- Checked Bits and Pieces to be thorough, and additional potions there, good
- Checked Radiant Raiment and this time was actually able to shop there as per normal; bought another Disease Immunity necklace for purposes of the battle, and a Ring of Major Archery
- Boinged back to Castle Volkihar for take three of assault; take three: nope
- Thrown back to Solitude, boinged back to castle for round four
- This time actually made it in, and charged ahead of the fighting safely this time to get to Lord Harkon
- Serana and I confronted him and made good headway on taking him out, but then he fucking froze and wouldn’t take any additional damage
- So I had to roll back to previous autosave to re-enter the final chamber and do the fight again
- Victory \0/
- Did epilogue conversation with Isran
- And I’m pretty sure we got through the battle this time without anybody dying? No Dawnguard corpses outside, good
- Blipped to Castle Volkihar balcony to return to Soul Cairn and get Valerica
- Notified her of Harkon’s death and got her to return to her laboratory, after Serana and I got lost a bit yet again in the Soul Cairn
- Got Valerica’s permission to take anything from her lab
- Headed back out to balcony, and encouraged Serana to go investigate being cured of her vampirism
- Boinged to college for level 56 training
- Did a little enchanting, then slept and got up for training
- Bought several new spells from Colette
- Sold assorted jewelry bits to all the trainers and also got training
- Boinged to Windstad to see if I left anything there of interest; answer: yes, boatload of things in the cellar
- Fetched them and came back out to trio of bandits!
- Called up flame atronach, and also, Valdimar was on the case; we took out the bandits, well done there Valdimar
- Went on my way with the large pile of loot and Arvak’d to Whiterun
- Sold a bunch of the cheaper loot to Elrindir
- Got all the stored stuff out of the two chests in Breezehome
- Smithed a bunch of stuff; sold crafted and looted armor and weapons to Adrianne and Ulfberth; sold a bunch more things to Belethor, Arcadia, and Eorlund Gray-Mane
- Tromped outside the city walls and called up Arvak; boinged to Windhelm
- Came in at night but passed Torbjorn and gave him the Amulet of Arkay
- Trudged over to Hjerim and dropped off several things; slept the night
- Then trudged out to sell things to all four vendors that aren’t hostile to me
- And while I was at it, also popped into the cornerclub–and oh hey, Malborn made it, YAY
- So I could get the assassin off his back
- Trudged out to the gates and got a shadow of a dragon overhead, but only a flyby
- Hi Ma’dran! Who in your caravan is an assassin?
- But wound up having to go through several iterations of reloading from save, because the damned assassin wouldn’t give me a quest marker to actually confront him
- Also a dragon kept showing up, and at one point killed a couple of Windhelm NPCs; in particular, the elf in charge of the stables, and yeah no
- Pickpocketed the assassin after quaffing a potion of invisibility, and found his orders confirming yep, he sure is a Thalmor agent
- Also tried going back into Windhelm and coming out again (after swapping Blades armor on mannequin to drop off vampire armor instead), but the quest marker wasn’t consistent
- Also tried boinging to Riften where I put the Blades armor on open mannequin there
- Boinged back to Windhelm stables, quest marker showed up again, but then vanished
- So I finally had to back up into the trees, quaff a potion of invisibility, and sneak snipe him; not a fan of having to do that, but I will take it as narrative that Delga felt it justified because yep, he’s a Thalmor
- She just didn’t want to upset the other Khajiit by killing him openly, they are fine
- Boinged back to Whiterun and did a bunch more shopping and crafting and selling of loot, including stuff swiped off the Thalmor kitty
- Switched off to dragonscale armor because better armor rating at this point
- Then went to go run Shriekwind Bastion and get the Word of Power there (and also do J’zargo’s scrolls so I can report to him when I go to the college next)
- Boinged to Lakeview for loot check; dropped off Dawnguard heavy armor on mannequin there to get it out of the inventory
- Boinged to Heljarchen for loot check
- Saved for the night
Going back and checking Merawen’s post about slaying Lord Harkon, I see that in her run it took me three tries to start the battle at Castle Volkihar properly. This time through, it took me four tries. I think the same issues I had with Merawen’s run apply here–I have a hard time keeping track of multiple simultaneous opponents in a melee setting. Also, there are lessons to be learned here about finding a balance between “charging forth to take the lead” and “taking advantage of coming in with an entire attacking force”.
And also, remembering to use the best possible armor at my disposal! I was in the Dawnguard heavy armor for this battle and arguably I really shouldn’t have been, I get better protection off the dragonscale at this point. But part of this is also involved with when I chose to set Heavy Armor Legendary. Definitely need to get more strategic about when to do that, in future playthroughs.
And last but not least: gotta remember to be well-stocked on healing potions before hurling myself into battle with a castle full of pissed-off vampires.
This time through I was pleased to see that as near as I can tell, the Dawnguard had no casualties. Yay!
Not so pleased that I triggered a bug with Harkon becoming invincible when he hit zero health. Serana and I both kept hammering him with attacks, and he just stood there frozen, not losing any health! So I wound up having to roll back and start the entire fight with him over. Augh. At least, the second time through, we took him down properly.
Most of the rest of this session was not new territory so I won’t go into those parts here, but I do want to talk about doing the epilogue to the Thalmor Embassy plot–because I discovered that Malborn had in fact made it safely to Windhelm!
So I thought I’d try to do his little side quest to take out the Thalmor assassin hunting him.
Which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be buggy as fuck. First of all, I didn’t get most of the dialogue you can get with Malborn at this point, to set up for you that he’s hiding out for fear of his life, and cranky at both you and Delphine. I just cut straight to “tell me about this Thalmor assassin hunting you”, pretty much.
More vexingly, I couldn’t get the assassin to fight with me at all. The way this plot is supposed to work is, Malborn tells you there’s a Khajiit out by the city gates that he’s sure is a Thalmor. You go out to confront him, and you find a caravan camped out there as per usual. Ma’dran or Ri’saad, if present, are supposed to be able to point you at J’datharr, the one out of place Khajiit hanging out with them. But I didn’t get that dialogue option off of Ma’dran.
And I also got no option to tell the assassin I have a message from Malborn. All I could get him to say was to move along, and that he had nothing to sell today.
Apparently, there’s some kind of internal game counter that means you have to deal with the assassin 24 in-game hours after Malborn makes it safely to Windhelm? So since I had no idea when Malborn actually got there, who knows when my window of opportunity to do this quest correctly was.
(I kinda hope he didn’t try to come in during the Imperial assault on the place? ‘Cause, well, that would have been awkward for a guy on the run from the Thalmor.)
The lesson for me here is to pay more attention to Windhelm whenever I finish the Thalmor embassy in future playthroughs!
Going to finish up a few more side things. I need to go get Sorine’s next schematic, and I need to clear Valthume to get the Word of Power there, too.
Editing to add
- 11/20/2023: Restored missing gallery, and added play date and session number markers.