Ysani Playthrough

In Which Ysani Seeks Words of Power and Entry Among Thieves

And now we shift tone in this run from College of Winterhold to Thieves Guild. Which is a very distinct tonal and moral shift, and I have some thoughts about how Ysani is approaching this! How do you go from taking over the College of Winterhold to running off to join the Thieves Guild in Riften? And why?

Answer: because Ysani’s hellbent on fucking up the Thalmor as much as possible, and the Thieves Guild are going to help her do it. Plus, she rather likes the mages at this point and wants to keep them out of this if she can.


  • Play date: 2/8/2022
  • Session number in this run: 15
  • Did some selling of things in Whiterun
  • Decided to go run Shearpoint and get the Throw Voice Shout, since that dragon lair isn’t too far from Whiterun
  • Killed two wolves and a sabre cat en route
  • When I got near Fellglow Keep, spawned encounter between Thalmor and Stormcloaks, see below
  • Boinged back to Whiterun to sell all the stuff
  • Take two to go to Shearpoint; same spawn point, got bandits attacking a peddler; killed the bandits and saved the peddler and his horse, then bought a bunch of things from him
  • Proceeded to Shearpoint; me + Lydia + dremora vs. Blood Dragon, then me + Lydia + storm atronach vs. Krosis
  • Throw Voice Shout and Krosis mask achieved \0/
  • Boinged back to Whiterun again; sold more stuff to Belethor, Arcadia, and Farengar; did a little enchanting to improve the price on jewelry items sold to Farengar
  • Boinged straight to Falkreath; sold Solaf a staff and that got me over 5K, so bought the Lakeview property
  • Stopped at Lod’s forge to buy all his iron
  • Boinged to Pinewatch
  • Mined the two iron veins on the way in for more iron; Lydia killed a mudcrab from the pond
  • Built the small house \0/
  • Boinged to Solitude to sell additional stuff; sold a few things to Sayma; bought more iron from Beirand; sold current enchanted gloves to Endarie, bought fresh pair of gloves to put a better mage-friendly enchantment on
  • Headed out on foot to go to Deepwood Redoubt
  • Three Imperials before I realized I was headed to Dragon Bridge and going the wrong way; circled back around to take the road north
  • Female Argonian assassin
  • Female hunter who’d been bitten by a vampire, asked me for a potion of cure disease, I gave her one
  • Realized I shouldn’t run Hag’s End yet, I really want Serana to get in there with me, if I want the Ancient Shrouded Armor, see below
  • New plan: run Volskygge since it’s right there
  • Leveled up to 36; took Conjuration perk to lower the cost of Expert level spells by half
  • Continued to run the dungeon, no problems till I got to the Draugr Deathlord at the end, who killed me a couple times before I figured out how to get him to come down the stairs and engage with Lydia and my dremora lord while I stayed out of the way
  • Found ebony gauntlets of archery in the boss chest, another gift for Lyds! \0/
  • Hit Volsung with Lydia + storm atronach, but also took potshots at him with my Bound Bow
  • Got the word for Whirlwind Sprint as well as Volsung the mask
  • Fast traveled back to Whiterun for a bit of crafting and selling
  • Boinged to college for a full round of training, bought all five rounds with Faralda since I’d been focused on power leveling everything else; also sold Faralda some stuff
  • Did enchanting in Arch-Mage’s quarters; sold enchanted jewelry to Drevis and Colette
  • Bought Frenzy and Rally spells from Drevis; bought a couple more higher tier healing spells from Colette
  • Boinged to Lakeview to go buy logs for building out the house; walked to Half-Moon Mill from there, and bought logs; went back to Lakeview, started building main house structure
  • Boinged next to Whiterun to take the cart to Riften
  • Talked to Wujeeta at the fishery, then did the skooma dealer quest to become thane
  • Critters fought en route to Cragslane: two bears, two frostbite spiders, another bear, two wolves
  • Stopped to get Shor’s Watchtower onto the map
  • Killed once going through cavern, remembered to sneak second time and let the dremora lord handle the fighting
  • Cleared the place on second try, but overloaded so had to Whirlwind Sprint back to Riften
  • Stopped at watchtower to pick up loose armor and weapons to sell
  • Got back to Riften and sold a bunch of loot to Balimund and Bersi
  • Reported to the jarl that the dealers had been dealt with
  • Had brawl with stable owner; settled debt for other stable guy
  • Ha! Enough favor quests to become thane! Because Balimund’s fire salts counted
  • Boinged back to Whiterun to settle additional things; got up to 5K, and had Lydia go off duty
  • Boinged back to Riften; reported to the keep and bought Honeyside, then got the thane title
  • Visited Honeyside, and HI IONA you’re on deck
  • Had Iona watch my back going down into the Ratway; made it through the Ratway and reached the Ragged Flagon
  • Got the quest to go hit up Bersi, Haelga, and Keerava for the owed debts
  • Saved for the night

Ysani Vs. the Thalmor: Fight!

In my considered opinion, the game really ought to give you a stat for how many Thalmor you fuck up. So far this game, the count for Ysani is eight!

And that count got bumped by the Thalmor vs. Stormcloaks random encounter on my first attempt to go to Shearpoint. The Thalmor won the fight—and got pissed off when I got close enough, ambling over ever so innocently, to pull gear off the Stormcloaks.

Not that I really wanted the gear off the Stormcloaks, mostly I was interested in having an excuse to piss off the Thalmor by being in their vicinity. Muahaha.

Because fuck all of these Thalmor assholes.

True to form, they got pissed off and yelled at me about interfering in their business. What interfering? I just wanted those weapons off those guys you just killed, after all! Are you telling me you wanted their weapons…?

Oh, I see, you’re just going to attack me because I’m here, oh darn, hey, would you like to meet my housecarl and my dremora lord? They sure would like to meet you!

And unlike with the Stormcloaks, I stripped everything off the Thalmor once Lyds and the dremora took them out. Because I’m implementing a policy this game of leaving armor and/or clothes on fallen foes (though I will still take their boots or shields). Thalmor, though? Fuck ‘em! I’ll take all their stuff. They can lie there naked.

Quandary: Do I want the Ancient Shrouded Armor?

So here’s the fun thing about Hag’s End: it’s the location where you can find the Ancient Shrouded Armor. This is armor you’d normally get only by running the Dark Brotherhood quest line, and it’s a fancier version of the Shrouded Armor you can get either by just joining the faction or by wiping them out.

However, I found out there’s a workaround to getting the Ancient version of the armor if you don’t want to join the Dark Brotherhood. And that is, go in there with Serana and let her trigger a resurrection on the hidden dead assassin who has the armor. Then once he evaporates into dust, you can swipe the armor off of him. Muahaha.

But that said, there’s a big interesting question here as to whether I want to go for that armor. Because I’m playing a pure mage this time through, or at least as close to a pure mage as I can get. Accordingly, I’m trying to use the mage armor perks on the Alteration tree to serve as my primary method of defense.

According to what info I’ve been able to find on the matter, though, the most armor rating I can expect to get off of the mage armor perks and the Ebonyflesh spell is 300. Add 50 to that because I’ve got the Lord Stone active, so that gives me a working armor rating of 350 as long as the spell is working.

Which is pretty good, but only pretty good. In my experience full light armor sets get you a way better armor rating over all; I’ve gotten over 1,000 on armor rating with all the relevant perks, either Heavy or Light Armor.

So from a practical “ability to protect myself” sense, actual armor gives me way better protection than I can achieve via magic. On the other hand, I really like the whole idea of being able to defend myself via magic, not only mage armor, but also high levels of magic resistance. And as I’ve seen correctly pointed out in forum threads about running a mage, if you’re playing a properly done mage, nobody should get close enough to you to hit you regardless. And you need to let your housecarl/other follower/summoned creature deal with the up close melee fighting as appropriate.

And yet. Some of the lighter armor sets are my favorite ones in the game. I’ll be getting the Nightingale armor as part of the Thieves Guild quest anyway, and that’ll probably wind up being my armor for use in the late game.

But I’ve also always been fond of the Shrouded Armor for stealth purposes. Which still requires you to kill Grelod the Kind if you want to get that armor at all–either by joining the Dark Brotherhood, or destroying them. And even though I’m always Team Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, I’m still really not a fan of having to kill Grelod to do it.

So if I can get an alternate version of the armor by doing the Serana workaround, I totally want to try that. Also, I still find it hilarious when Serana resurrects anything within her immediate vicinity. ;D I feel like I need to try this just on that grounds alone, even if I never wind up using the armor later!

So yeah, I’ll swing back to that.

Narrative for going into the Guild

This is the part where, I think, Ysani is going to have to work through her rage at the Thalmor. Which has all come bubbling back up within her after fighting Estormo and Ancano.

Realistically speaking, she could probably very easily have the mage college at her back if the Thalmor came gunning for her again. But I think she’ll have a couple of conflicting frames of mind right now.

One, she knows the mages were putting up with Ancano being around before, possibly even against their will. So this makes Ysani suspect that they might not be as ready to outright defy the Thalmor as she’d like.

Two, if she’s feeling more charitable, she’ll tell herself she’s a much bigger target than the rest of the college, and her running off for a while will take the heat off of them.

Also, I specifically had Lydia stand down because of the thought that Lydia is not local to Riften. And Ysani needs a local at her back if she’s going to get in good with the Guild. Hence, drafting Iona to follow me into the Ratway instead of Lyds.

I also figure that since Iona is a local girl, chances are pretty decent she may have some level of awareness of and/or connection to the Guild. So she might not bat an eye at the prospect of her shiny new thane wanting in on the Guild’s action.

Still though I feel like Ysani will have certain ethics in the Guild that Merawen didn’t do.

I’m going to try to avoid most of the random side jobs for various reasons. I don’t like the ones that want me to steal randomly generated objects from wealthy homes, because the game has a dodgy definition of who it considers “wealthy”. For example, Addvar’s family in Solitude. I don’t think I’ll be able to do all of the required reputation jobs as Bedlam Jobs–there aren’t enough Stones of Barenziah to pull that off. But I can do most of them that way. And that’ll give me a chance to target thievery specifically against people who just damn well have it coming. ;P

Ysani’s goal here? Partly to get skills to break into the Thalmor Embassy later once she circles back up with Delphine. But also to get funds, if she has to finance doing as much damage to the Thalmor as possible. She knows taking the Thalmor down publicly just ain’t gonna happen until the Empire has strength enough to fight them off.

Right now, therefore, she’s not seeing any option but to battle them via illicit means. Which means dealing with the Guild.

Language commentary

Not much in the way of language commentary for this session, except a couple of translations to remark on:

  • Jarl Laila Juste-Loi: Jarl Laila Law-Giver. This translation seems like Just-Law, just as in “right”?
  • Rucheline: Honeyside. Ruche in French is hive. Beehive is applicable here, though the definition is not just beehive in particular according to reverso.net. I guess the translators decided to go with the “beehive” connotation? Miel is honey in French, so I can only guess why the house doesn’t have miel in its name here.

Next time

More Thieves Guild action, as Ysani hits the Goldenglow Estates! And manages to do so without killing a single person!


No screenshots this time.

Editing to add

  • 11/21/2023: 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.