This, I think, is the first Shenner session where I had major new action with content out of the Anniversary Edition. So given that unlike most of Skyrim, this is actually dealing with new content, be mindful of that if you care about spoilers and think you might actually want to play the AE at some point!
Non-spoiler summary: foiled an assassination attempt on the Jarl of Whiterun and got a very tasty new bow for my trouble. And picked up a new house after answering the challenge sent me by its owner!
- Boinged from Falkreath to Whiterun
- Did a little shopping with Ri’saad
- Went into Whiterun and did some smithing with my leather items I had; made a new set of Leather Scout Armor and sold it to Elrindir
- Went back out again and attempted the Saints bandits camp again, no luck
- Take two of going out: going to hit Swindler’s Den
- Ran the place without much difficulty, sniped several bandits, also tried out the fire arrows, which exploded nicely
- Decided to side with Kematu again just because apparently I am not in the mood to side with Saadia this week (though see commentary below)
- Returned to Whiterun to craft a bit more and sell more stuff
- Did Carlotta’s side quest to get Mikael off of her back, and sold the Flawed Varla Stone to Belethor to kick me up over 5000 gold
- Went up to Dragonsreach to buy Breezehome–and also noticed a new dialogue prompt in Proventus’ options so took that
- He passed me a note to review in private because he didn’t want to discuss it in earshot of the Jarl, and ooooh suspected assassination attempt on Balgruuf :O
- This required me to go down to Arcadia’s shop and pick up the ledger copy she left out for me, which pointed me at the Hall of the Dead and the stables
- Went over to the Hall of the Dead and since I was there anyway, also picked up Andurs’ quest to get his amulet so i could run both at once
- Went down into the catacombs and found the note re: the suspicious poison purchase—which turned out to be setting out poisoned cheese for skeevers, lol
- Got the Unusual Gem while I was down there, killed a few skeletons, and got Andurs’ amulet
- Also found an entirely separate note about diverted caravans headed to Falkreath which kicked off a separate quest
- Returned the amulet to Andurs
- Headed out to the stables from there, and found dead stable hand who turned out to be a bandit in disguise; took his stuff, including the Spellbook of Detect Life that he was apparently too clueless to know how to use; his note about what was going on pointed me back at Silent Moons Camp
- So I headed over there and found some ebony arrows and a hunting bow, and the assassin’s journal talking all about how he’s going to assassinate Balgruuf
- Went back to Dragonsreach and found the guy lurking upstairs
- Irileth, as I went by, was all ‘keep your weapons sheathed in the Jarl’s presence’
- HOLY CRAP this assassin had a bow that turned him invisible; this didn’t stop me and Lyds from killing them though 😀
- Got the reward from Proventus, and the bow, which is the Bow of Shadows, an artifact of Nocturnal, improved draw speed and turns you invisible for 30 seconds, yes please I’ll have some
- Headed out from Whiterun to follow up on the caravans thing
- Killed a few wolves, and a dragon! But killed by a snowy sabre cat >_<
- Thrown back to coming out of Whiterun so I didn’t roll back that far
- Take two: went along the road to Riverwood this time, aaaaaaand got a dragon as soon as I reached Riverwood
- Killed it along with Lydia and the guards; guards were particularly apt in their random dialogue immediately after
- Proceeded along the road; passed hunters
- No other obstacles until I found Barbas, so went ahead and launched A Daedra’s Best Friend
- But also stopped to look for the caravan when I found it not far after Barbas, but before the bandit tower near Pinewatch
- Searched the caravan and found an Attunement Crystal and a journal saying what was up: a hook for the Wraithguard & Sunder plot, for which I’ll have to go to Sightless Pit
- Lost track of Barbas, though, and had to proceed through Helgen and on to Haemar’s Shame without him
- En route to Helgen, spotted what looked like a couple of bandits vs. a conjurer from a distance; bandit chief was wearing silver armor! So had a hard time telling her apart from Lydia! But got an almost full extra set of silver armor off of her
- Passed noble and horse but didn’t see Imperial escorting him?
- Cleared Helgen without Barbas, took out the bandits; temporarily got sidetracked because I went out the wrong gate, the north side of the city rather than the east
- Spotted an Afflicted Refugee but did not engage
- Backtracked into Helgen and went out the right gate
- Spotted another hunter close to Haemer’s Shame
- Started running Haemar’s Shame; however, contracted Sanguinare Vampiris twice and had only one Cure Disease potion on me, oops
- (Lost track of where in all the previous action I leveled up to 11; took Health bump but didn’t drop a perk yet because Smithing was hovering at 29 and I wanted to drop a perk there)
- Caught up with Barbas in the Shrine chamber and yep he sure was wiping out the vampires in there
- Got the objective from Vile to go get the Rueful Axe
- Cleared the boss chest on the way out, and oooo Apprentice Robe of Destruction & Alteration, well that sure is pretty
- Quaff-traveled back to Whiterun
- Went straight to Arcadia’s to get Potions of Cure Disease; also made a few extra with vampire dust I had with me, and ingredients I purchased from her
- Did some running back and forth doing a little smithing and a little shopping
- Leveled up to 12; took Health bump; took Custom Fit perk in Light Armor but kept a perk in reserve for when Smithing goes up
- Got a courier with a dinner invitation to Bloodchill Manor, lololololol
- Hold that thought, vampires, I gotta go sic this Daedra dog on some bandits, so headed over to the Saints bandit camp for like the fourth or fifth time
- Killed a wolf close to it, and finally cleared the place, got the bandit leader’s journal and the notes on the blacksmith to move the quest along; also freed the Manic Elytra Nymph and got it to be a pet, yay?
- Headed from there westward with the thought of trying to get Hendraheim en route to Rueful Axe
- Killed a sabre cat; witnessed Thalmor vs. Stormcloaks, the Thalmor won and ordered me off, did not engage
- Made it to Hendraheim and Eydvina Shield-Hearth handed me my ass
- Rolled back to finishing with the Saints camp; tried a few more times to get at Eydvina, took me three more times to do it and I had to let Lydia and Barbas help
- Oh well, lady, you didn’t say I couldn’t bring friends, enjoy Sovngarde, I shall enjoy this house
- Spent some time exploring the place
- Left a full set of golden armor on one of the mannequins, as well as the scaled armor Eydvina had been wearing; also claimed her Nordic Sword of Scorching
- Boinged back to the Whiterun stables so I could take the cart to Solitude
- Realized I didn’t have the Clairvoyance spell which is helpful for finding Rimerock Burrow, so I thought of going on into Solitude, but then found Ma’dran’s Khajiit outside; sold them a bunch of stuff including extraneous pieces of golden armor
- Headed on foot on to find Rimerock Burrow
- Passed Imperials with prisoner, and Faldrus the pilgrim
- Made it to Lost Echo Cave
- Passed some Stormcloaks who’d killed a wolf, I think? They warned me away, and HEY GUYS? I’m a Nord! Not a fan of the Imperials, what with how they tried to EXECUTE ME and all! Howsabout you chill?
- Overshot trying to find Rimerock Burrow as I expected I would; killed a couple of ice wolves though
- Fast traveled back to Lost Echo Cave to get back on track and this time I found the correct path in
- One-shotted the flame atronach with the Bow of Shadows (goddamn I loves me this bow)
- Engaged Sebastian Lort in combat; Lyds and Barbas mostly took him out, but I got a few arrows into him; got the Rueful Axe
- Also got Meridia’s Beacon out of Lort’s boss chest!
- Saved for the night
I started this session with familiar territory: running Swindler’s Den to finish up the In My Time of Need plot. And I sided with Kematu, partly because I’d just run the exact same plot with Faanshi, and I was kind of not in the mood to side with Saadia, apparently!
But it only occurred to me after I ran it with Shenner that on the PC, I’ve actually got the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch installed. So I should have the bug fix that gets rid of the Alik’r warriors stuck at the Whiterun gate if you play the plot in Saadia’s favor. I’ll have to deliberately try that in a future PC-based playthrough.
I waffled about whether to keep the Flawed Varla Stone, because it’s a new thing. As I understand it from looking it up on the wiki, that thing basically acts like a renewable Soul Gem, similar to Azura’s Star, only it’s the equivalent of a Common Soul Gem rather than a Grand Soul Gem. I ultimately decided to go ahead and sell it, just because I wanted the money in hand to buy Breezehome.
And I’m glad I did, not necessarily because of Breezehome per se (though having a home base in Whiterun is always good), but because it gave me an opportunity to trigger what turned out to be my first real favorite plot out of the new stuff the AE has to offer!
Which is to say: the steward of Dragonsreach discreetly enlisting my help to foil an assassination attempt on the Jarl. And that was fun. Even though I definitely find the new content’s ways of bypassing needing new voice lines a little awkward–such as, having Proventus slip me a note rather than actually talking with me directly. Or having Arcadia give me an entire extra copy of her shop ledger rather than actually just letting me review the actual one.
I really liked the use of the poison bought for the Hall of the Dead, though: i.e., as pest control! Finding a hunk of cheese down there next to a dead skeever and a note strictly warning people to not eat the cheese was cute. (A bit weird that the purchase of the poison was listed as being done by a Priest of Arkay rather than by Andurs? Because there aren’t any other priests in the Hall of the Dead? But maybe this content is assuming there’s at least one more besides him.)
Note also, going through the Hall of the Dead let me find a whole separate note that kicked off an entirely different quest. More on this below. Takeaway from this: be on the lookout for mysterious new notes everywhere.
I was slightly more dubious about the other poison purchase I had to investigate, though, the one at the stables. Just because the quest marker led me to the body of a dead stablehand, and I feel like somebody would have actually, oh, I dunno, found the dead body? Shit, he was lying in an empty stall right next to a stall with a horse in it. And I feel like the horse would have raised a ruckus about somebody killing somebody else right there.
And, well, here was the dead stablehand with a note on him talking all about how “hello I am an undercover bandit, let me carry around this note describing my shenanigans, no one could possibly ever find this note on me”! Not to mention the assassin’s journal I had to go find at Silent Moons Camp. But then, this is not out of the ordinary for Skyrim in general, so the AE doing it is hardly out of bounds. 😉 Bad guys write down their shenanigans all the damn time, all over the place!
(Heh, kinda would have been nice to know about this plot the first time I went up to Silent Moons Camp with this alt, though. I kind of imagine Shenner thinking “wait, I was literally just up there a few days ago, how the hell did I miss this evidence the first time?”)
Once I found that journal, then the plot got actively fun. Because Shenner was all “NOT ON MY WATCH, ASSHOLE”, and hastened back to Dragonsreach to report in and do something about this.
Went by Irileth on my way upstairs, and she was all “keep your weapons sheathed in the Jarl’s presence.” Look, lady, there’s somebody else in this building right now who is absolutely not going to keep his weapons sheathed in the Jarl’s presence, a thing which I should think is entirely relevant to your duties as his housecarl? But okay fine, I’ll go take care of this problem for you. 😉
Which netted me not only a reward from Proventus, but also the Bow of Shadows. An artifact of Nocturnal, which has an improved draw speed and turns you invisible for 30 seconds when you wield it. Yes please I will absolutely have some. This is my new favorite bow!
After that little bit of excitement, I headed back out again to follow up on the other new plot I got the hook for in the Hall of the Dead. This required me to track down a detoured caravan.
And that required me to go through Riverwood first, where I fought a dragon with Lydia and the local guards. Who were particularly choice in their random dialogue lines, immediately after. Got one of them going “Got to thinking, maybe I’m the Dragonborn”, and another going “Got to keep my eyes open, damn dragons can swoop down at any time.” Guys. Given that we literally just now killed a dragon, I think it’s safe for you all to conclude that 1) until you actually demonstrate you can Shout, I am in fact the only Dragonborn here, and 2) yes, you will in fact have to keep your eyes open, just in case another dragon drops on your head now that we’ve just killed this one. Y’know, just in case.
I found Barbas before I found the caravan, so I went ahead and launched A Daedra’s Best Friend–because it occurred to me that if I had Barbas along, I could utilize that and go take out the Saints bandits!
But before I did that, I checked out that detoured caravan. Which turned out to be a destroyed caravan. When I searched it, I found an Attunement Crystal and a journal describing what the caravan’s goal had been. And ah! This plot leads to acquiring Wraithguard and Sunder, artifacts that are supposed to make a set with Keening, the dagger you get hold of during Arniel’s side quest at the mage college. And this plot also wants me to head to the Sightless Pit in Winterhold. Welp, it’s going to have to wait a bit! I have some leveling up to do before I’m ready to take on Falmer.
Until then, though, let it be noted that I love, love, loves me some Bow of Shadows. I one-shotted a whole bunch of enemies in Haemar’s Shame with that thing, and it is tasty.
Leveling up to 12 got me a whole new courier note, this one a dinner invitation to somewhere called Bloodchill Manor. And, well, lolololol. I already know that place is the vampire-themed player home available in the AE. From a purely in character perspective, though, I gotta go WELL GOSH, THIS ISN’T THE SLIGHTEST BIT SUSPICIOUS! I AM ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE THIS DINNER INVITATION COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE COME FROM VAMPIRES!
The vampires were going to have to wait, though. Because after getting Barbas, my next immediate objective was taking advantage of having him to go clear out the Saints bandit camp finally! Which did in fact work.
Even with Barbas, though, it was a hard fight. And it was a damn good thing I’d suited Lydia up in the silver armor, because even with that, she got pushed into recovery mode a few times. Fortunately, the bandits were way more concerned with Barbas as the biggest threat. And this freed me to snipe at the bandits periodically from a distance!
I am not at all sure yet what to think about having a pet Manic Elytra Nymph. I like the design of the thing, but I’m not sure how useful it’ll be, and I don’t like the skittering noises it makes when it follows you.
Right after that, I went after Hendraheim. And that was another hard fight, which I don’t think I’d have pulled off if I hadn’t had Barbas with me. I feel like this was possibly not what Eydvina had in mind when she challenged me to combat? But hey, well, lady, your note didn’t say I couldn’t bring friends along! And you didn’t say it had to be single combat!
On the other hand, the implication I get out of this character’s backstory is that she was apparently remorseful about her actions during the civil war? And if I read her note right, it seems like she killed her own brother in combat? (Not clear which of them was the Imperial and which of them was the Stormcloak.) So maybe she wouldn’t actually have objected very much that I showed up with help, if her overall goal was to just get to Sovngarde already.
And as for Hendraheim itself, very nice house. Lots and lots of armor mannequins and weapons plaques, and a fair number of bookshelves as well. There’s children’s beds, though when I showed up in the house, they were marked as owned. So I’m not sure if they’d be considered usable if I were to move a family in here.
As seems to be the case for the player homes available in the AE, there’s an entire trophy room included for displaying all of the more unusual artifacts you can get during the course of a full Skyrim run. The plaques are all targeted by name to specific artifacts, in fact. And there are shelves as well for the dragon priest masks and the dragon claws. It’ll be interesting to see one of these trophy areas filled out!
I’m not sure yet if I’ll pick up all of the new player homes. I mean, even without the AE installed, you can have around a dozen places to sleep anyway, counting all the built properties, the mage college, the Thieves Guild, Nightingale Hall, etc. And I’ve seen references to at least a half dozen more new player homes you can get. Get all of these and you wind up owning significant chunks of real estate all over Skyrim!
And aside from the question of which homes to get, there will also be the question of which ones are in locations I feel like actually living in.
Hendraheim is… not exactly in the best of areas. The closest settlement is Rorikstead, which is to say, not exactly a bastion of commerce and culture. And, it’s right by both Bilegulch Mine and the dragon burial mound that I believe contains Vuljotnaak. Plus, pretty sure Lost Valley Redoubt is a little ways further east, so there’s bandits, Forsworn, and a dragon all within the immediate vicinity.
But hey, if you’re a Nord raising a family of Nords, that might actually be considered a good thing? 😉
Last but not least, headed off to get the Rueful Axe. Once I was finally at Rimerock Burrow and I’d taken out Sebastian Lort, I was thinking, “Okay, so I haven’t found Meridia’s Beacon yet, am I going to have to take this Daedra dog back to Vile without running Kilkreath?”
But apparently Meridia heard me. Because I found her beacon in Lort’s boss chest! 🤣
I’d say “Right then, I guess we’re going after Dawnbreaker next,” except for one relevant detail: Shenner is still only level 12. According to the wiki, the recommended level for going through Kilkreath is 24. So I may or may not actually be able to pull this off, with Barbas along.
I admit to being tempted to see if I could actually get in there and do this, partly because having Barbas as a follower does tend to him getting underfoot everywhere. But on the other hand, caution advises that if I go in there at level 12, I will be completely fucking obliterated.
On the other hand? Checking my previous posts for running Kilkreath, I see that I literally just ran the place as Faanshi, and Faanshi did it at level 16. On Master Difficulty.
So hell, maybe I can do this!
Let’s find out. 😀