Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Escapes the Destruction of Helgen

This is the inaugural post for my fourth Skyrim run, starring Ysani Demers, a Breton! As I’ve called out on the playthrough page I’ve set up for her, this character is intended to return to my preferred play style of sneakiness and archery. I’ll be revisiting the Thieves Guild, and aiming for an even higher focus on magic this time through. And I’ll be kicking the Difficulty level

And, most entertainingly, I will do this entire playthrough in French!


  • Play date: 1/25/2022
  • Session number in this run: 1
  • Began Ysani’s run! In French!
  • Notable place names:
    • Vendeaume (Windhelm)
    • Rorikbourg (Rorikstead)
    • Rivebois (Riverwood)
    • Blancherive (Whiterun)
    • Haute-Rouche (High Rock)
  • Followed Hadvar out again this time
  • Also chose to equip myself in the novice robe and hood swiped off the mage in the torturer’s cage
  • Started throwing Destruction and Conjuration around once we started fighting Stormcloaks, since I had both Flames and Conjure Familiar starting right out of the gate
  • Also got Sparks spell out of the cage
  • Opted to sneak past the bear rather than shoot it and that worked out
  • Followed Hadvar to Rivebois (hee)
  • Chose the Mage Stone, a.k.a. Pierre du Mage
  • (Noted that ‘mage’ translates over, though it’s pronounced with an ‘ah’ sound in french)
  • Had conversation with Alvor and Sigrid in their house; got invited to take supplies and asked to go talk to the Jarl
  • Did the smithing tutorial at Alvor’s forge
  • Saved at the point of heading out to “Blancherive”

General commentary

This session was pretty much focused on getting Ysani up and running. Which meant doing the Helgen opening sequence, escaping from the place and also doing a bit of Riverwood to get the helpful support there from Alvor and Sigrid. And at this point I’ve done that enough times that I don’t need to talk about that in depth here.

But I will note a few things just to document my choices.

Went ahead and followed Hadvar out of Helgen just because I like Hadvar! I will not however commit yet to actually fighting the war for the Imperials again with this character; I might go with the Stormcloaks, and I might just go neutral again. For narrative purposes, I think this can be attributed to Ysani making a snap judgment about liking this guy slightly better than Ralof, just because of seeing him trying to help get the little boy off to safety.

Hadvar’s commentary to me once I confirmed my character setup choices was along the lines of “You’re from Daggerfall? Are you fleeing a court intrigue? Very sorry, we’ll make sure your body is returned to High Rock.” (Note: I was not previously aware that Daggerfall is a city in High Rock, but now I know!)

This raises some amusing questions about Ysani’s background. Paul suggested maybe she was framed for a crime and had to flee to avoid the bounty, which could be a good hook for getting into the Thieves Guild. I kind of like this and may run with it!

With my goals of magic and sneaking in mind, I made a point of outfitting myself in the robe and hood I could procure from the dead mage in the Imperial torturer’s chamber. Entertaining questions to be asked here about how Ysani feels about a) Imperial torturers, and b) having to steal clothes off a dead torture victim. I’m pretty sure she’s not thrilled about that. On the other hand, kind of not in a position to argue, given that she’s trying to flee a city that just got burned down by a friggin’ dragon.

Noted with distinct satisfaction that I had the spell Conjure Familiar right out of the gate. This is in keeping with the Breton culture’s high proficiency in magic, and it suggests that Ysani’s been rather familiar with that spell. She may even have called up a wolf familiar often enough to name it. <3

Also, when the opportunity arose during the escape, I took Hadvar up on his suggestion to sneak past the bear rather than trying to fight with it. This worked out well!

Language commentary

Right out of the gate, I can note that by and large, I had no trouble following the game with the UI and dialogue in French. After three back to back playthroughs I have a pretty damn good idea at this point of the dialogue in the Helgen sequence. And it does help a lot to have the subtitles on, so that I can read the French dialogue along with hearing it.

I had a little trouble with the character creation UI, just because I had to doublecheck a couple of words so that I knew what part of the character design I was working on. Namely, I had to look up the translations of “pommette” (cheekbone) and “menton” (chin). Most other terms for features of the face, though, I recognized on sight.

Running the Helgen sequence let me identify several important place names, as listed above in the highlights. I was a little surprised by “Vendeaume” as the name for Windhelm. The word for “wind” in French is “vent”, as I certainly know from the name of my favorite band, Le Vent du Nord. But the first syllable here is “vend”, not “vent”. This is suggesting to me that the translators who worked on the game might have just tried to come up with a French-like name for the city that still sounded pretty close to the English name? Because I’m pretty sure this isn’t built out of actual French words.

“Rivebois” and “Blancherive”, on the other hand, do seem like more direct translations, the former more than the latter. “Rive” is more or less “bank” or “shore”, so a more literal translation back to English here might be “Whiteshore”? But given that Whiterun is near the White River, this seems like a good way to translate the name.

“Rorikbourg” is also a good translation, as I know from vocabulary study that “bourg” is essentially “village”. And Rorikstead is basically one of the tinier hamlets in the game, so.

All of the various translations of armor and weaponry and potions and such were pretty self-evident. It does help that you see pictures of the stuff in your inventory, so if you’re familiar with the game already, it’s easy enough to figure out the translations for what you’re looking at.

Important to note as well that the word “Jarl” remains as-is, but I’m not far enough yet to know if they’ll translate “housecarl”.

Next time

It’s important to note that for this run, I’ve kicked the Difficulty up another notch! And I was a little surprised to discover that there are six Difficulty levels in Skyrim, not five!

In English, the progression is Novice, Apprentice, Adept (which is default), Expert, Master, and Legendary.

In French, the Expert level becomes Difficile.

So since I’ve kicked the difficulty up another notch, I’m going to work over the next couple of sessions to just do the visit to Whiterun and run Bleak Falls Barrow, and work my way towards that first dragon encounter at the Western Watchtower. I want to get a feel for what this new difficulty setting is going to mean for me, particularly if I’m going to be focusing more on magic.


Quite a few screenshots, mostly specifically taking examples where location names showed up in dialogue. And a couple of examples of the translations of gear terms in inventory.

Editing to add

  • 11/20/2023: Restored missing gallery, and added play date and session number markers.

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.