Big, busy session with a lot of action in it, a mix of old stuff and new stuff! Main highlights: ran Ustengrav; went to Kynesgrove with Delphine and slew Sahloknir; acquired the new version of the dragonscale armor; slew the dragon and the Dragon Priest Krosis at Shearpoint; got a new bunny pet; and got the orcish plate armor you can get by clearing Embershard Mine and investigating the orc smith there!
This session was run on Saturday 5/28.
- Picked up in Breezehome; derped around Whiterun selling things for a bit
- However, that blew my available stock of gold and I didn’t have enough left to take the cart to Morthal; ergo, time to hoof it cross country to Ustengrav!
- Went more or less straight there, no notable encounters on the way
- Came up behind Ustengrav and spotted the bandits fighting something I couldn’t make out, and then Lydia went over to fight the bandits, so so we took them out
- Ran Ustengrav; got the word for Become Ethereal; mined the corundum vein while in there, and got other assorted loot and gold
- GOSH I WONDER WHERE THE HORN IS
- Boinged to Hendraheim and dropped off assorted building materials, then boinged to Riverwood to track down Delphine; played through that conversation as per usual
- Then headed out to Kynesgrove
- Killed a whole bunch of wolves en route, and one bear
- Cleared Valtheim Towers just because Delphine has no time for the bullshit of bandits, and Shenner approves
- Passed multiple Afflicted Refugees, these seem to definitely be a lot more common in this build, and apparently a side effect of installing the USSEP
- Reached Kynesgrove and ran the fight with Sahloknir as per usual; killed him pretty quickly
- A couple of wolves tried to attack us just as Delphine was telling me we had to break into the Thalmor Embassy, so had to pause to kill those wolves, LOL
- Then finished talking to Delphine and she exited the scene; found a dead Stormcloak and another dead wolf further down the hill
- Overloaded, so decided to head into Windhelm and sell stuff; got opening scene with dickweeds harassing Suvaris; told Suvaris I don’t hate her people
- Went into Candlehearth Inn to rent a room, and found the book with the quest for the alternate dragonscale armor 😀
- Got up the next morning and sold a bunch of stuff to Oengul and Niranye to get unburdened
- Headed out from Windhelm to Yorgrim Overlook
- Killed a few more wolves; passed M’aiq the Liar; mined iron vein
- Found the Seducers bandit camp by accident but didn’t engage immediately
- Got the dragonscale armor! \0/
- Tried to engage the Seducers Bandits and welp that didn’t go well; killed by bandits and thrown back to coming out of Windhelm
- Re-did jaunt to Yorgrim and iron vein, no M’aiq this time, but still had wolves; noted more Afflicted Refugees en route; made it back to Yorgrim, re-did getting the dragonscale armor
- Elected to not engage the Seducers yet
- Tromped back to Windhelm (because overloaded again)
- Improved most of the dragonscale armor with the scales off of Sahloknir; also improved and sold some dwarven and leather pieces
- Boinged back to Hendraheim to drop off building materials and armor pieces (dwarven plate boots, also the scaled armor now that I’m replacing that with the alternate dragonscale)
- Destroyed a dwarven shield from loot to get Resist Frost enchantment
- Leveled up to 16; took Magicka bump and first Speech perk
- Boinged to High Hrothgar to drop off the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller; got third word of Unrelenting Force
- Got Arngeir to point me at a Word of Power and OOH HEY SHEARPOINT
- Boinged to Whiterun to sell a few more things then hoofed it to Shearpoint from there
- Yet another Afflicted Refugee at the spawn point near Fellglow
- Took out the dragon, and, amazingly, also took out Krosis (see commentary below)
- Boinged back to Hendraheim to drop off the mask
- Came back out and HI ADDITIONAL DRAGON, so killed that bastard too
- Did a little smithing and got the Manic Elytra Nymph to follow me for a bit
- Boinged back to Whiterun for selling of stuff
- Popped into the guard barracks by the gate because I knew there was a quest pointer in there; read the book and got a pointer to finding a fugitive orc at Embershard; hold that thought, will get back to that
- But first boinged to Haemar’s Shame to hoof it towards Ivarstead and to take out the bandit chief at Rift Watchtower
- Stopped at Alchemist’s Shack and looted the place
- Also got new pet: Thistle the Bunny! <3 HI BUNNY
- Sent bunny back to Breezehome and sent nymph back to Hendraheim
- Continued on foot towards Rift Watchtower; spotted another Afflicted killing wolves from a distance
- Proceeded towards Rift Watchtower
- Found the Old Orc who wanted a good death on a bridge, so I obliged him
- Found yet another afflicted and that guy actually gave me his opening dialogue, but moved on before I had a chance to answer him
- Made it to the watchtower and cleared the place
- Started heading towards Riften in search of bears
- Got killed by FOUR TROLLS IN A GROUP WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK
- Thrown back to coming out of Whiterun AUGH, but the Khajiit were there, so I sold stuff to Ri’saad to get over 5K; boinged to Falkreath to buy land for Lakeview
- Left the nymph to wait at the gate
- Popped into the inn and looked for the book to give me a pointer to the Bittercup quest
- Bought food from innkeeper and got rumor re: Aventus Aretino, then went out and sold a few things at the general store to get back up over 5K; also bought a couple more bear skins to get close to the 10 for Temba
- Bought the land for Lakeview and boinged there; mined iron; killed a couple of wolves; built Small House structure
- Boinged next to Haemar’s Shame to re-do the prior action; realized I’d left the nymph in Falkreath so used the handy spell to bring it to me and get it following me again
- Found another Afflicted and this time got him to talk to me and give me the pointer to go find Kesh
- Only needed one more bearskin so cleared Honeystrand Cave
- Went to Ivarstead to check in with Temba
- No quest pointer in the inn but I did spot an NPC, Sirayar, who will be important later for the Remnants quest
- Gave Temba her bearskins and got a Steel War Axe of Burning
- Proceeded off to go find the Rift Watchtower
- Passed the group of revelers and accepted a bottle of mead, but, SIGH, they then got promptly eaten by a bear; guys, this is what you get for partying in bear country
- Still though they were an example of non-Afflicted NPCs, so good, all I really needed to do to fix that bug was talk to one of the Afflicted and get the pointer to go talk to Kesh
- Made it to the watchtower and cleared the place, then headed towards Riften
- Killed a frostbite spider, and just two trolls this time
- I must have gotten pretty close to Faldar’s Tooth? Didn’t get close enough to discover it for the map, but heard some bandits yelling offscreen about trying to find me
- Made it safely to Riften though
- Called the north gate guard on his bullshit and got into Riften without having to pay the ‘visitor tax’; also didn’t get close enough to Maul to trigger his opening dialogue
- Got the bounty from Anuriel
- Went to go sell things to Balimund, at which point HI BRYNJOLF
- Um, no, actually, don’t want to break the law for you today, fuck off
- Boinged to Hendraheim to pick up building materials and drop off the Butterfly in a Jar from the Alchemist’s Shack
- Boinged to Whiterun to sell more things
- Bought a Nordic Ring from Belethor and got the Certificate of Authenticity that triggered a quest on Solstheim
- Tried to boing next to Falkreath to talk to asshole mill owner and buy lumber, but a dragon showed up and killed Indara while everybody and their grandmother killed the dragon; decided I didn’t want her dead so rolled back to Whiterun
- Then boinged instead to Lakeview and hoofed it to Half-Moon Mill; realized I’d misinterpreted the map, couldn’t find the icon, but remembered on the way that yes I’d already been there when I’d found the bandit’s notes about making Golden and Dark armor under the bridge
- Bought a bunch of lumber from Hert
- Boinged to Lakeview and realized I was short on iron; boinged back to Whiterun and bought a bunch of iron and smelted what ore I had as well; boinged back to Lakeview and built almost everything in the Small House front room; couldn’t do the main house yet because I had no corundum, but I did build the smelter and other exterior accoutrements
- Leveled up to 17 while working on that; took Stamina bump and first Alchemy perk
- Hoofed it from Lakeview over to Embershard; alerted the conjurer near Lakeview as I passed, but didn’t bother to fight with her
- Arrived at Embershard and cleared the place, which was a bit more challenging than before because hey, these assholes are wearing orcish plate!
- Found the journal on the orc smith and nabbed the enchanted orcish plate, along with several examples of not-enchanted stuff off the bandits
- Would have given a set to Lydia, i like the look of it, but her silver armor was still better
- Also notable: found a thing called a Welkynd Stone in the boss chest, apparently this restores your magicka?
- Boinged to Whiterun and sold a bunch of the extra orcish plate pieces to build my gold back up
- Boinged to Hendraheim; parked the enchanted suit of armor as well as the three non-enchanted ones on a couple of mannequins in the basement; racked the Steel War Axe of Burning
- Saved for the night
Not much I can say about running Ustengrav that I haven’t said before, except for this: this really is a pretty weirdo way for Delphine to contact the Dragonborn. I mean honestly. It’s not like everybody else in the game can’t find me! And it’s public knowledge in Whiterun that I am, in fact, the Dragonborn!
Delphine, you were already in contact with Farengar about the Dragonstone. You could easily have left him a note to slip over to the thane next time I showed up in Dragonsreach. Or you could have just sent me a courier with a note. Those guys can find anybody.
Or hell, you could have just slipped a note under the door of Breezehome in the middle of the night!
But nooooo, you had to go into Ustengrav, kill most of the bandits and draugr and necromancers there, steal the Horn, and leave me a note on the off chance I might actually show up there.
Heh. Delphine is by her own admission hugely paranoid. But even given that, this plan seems a little much.
In other news, I’ve definitely been seeing signs of a bug reported against the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch, in which you keep encountering Afflicted Refugees often enough that they override other types of random NPC encounters. Apparently, from what I saw looking up the matter, there was a bug introduced by turning off a particular flag. From what I can tell, that bug is persisting in my setup.
The good news is, though, as soon as I actually talked to one of the Afflicted I passed, and got the quest pointer to go talk to Kesh the Clean, I started seeing other types of NPCs again. So running The Only Cure doesn’t seem to be required to make the problem go away, just getting the quest pointer for it.
(As to whether I’ll run The Only Cure with this alt–unclear. I wasn’t terribly thrilled by that quest when I ran it as Merawen, and since I’m not a Heavy Armor person, Spellbreaker is not sufficiently tempting to me.)
A Shenner Narrative Point, for when she showed up in Windhelm: I feel like she is sympathetic to the Stormcloaks, but it didn’t escape her attention that Ulfric showed no fucks to give about her when she was briefly in his presence in Helgen. And when she actually showed up in his city, the first thing she sees is two assholes harassing a Dunmer woman. This is, I think, enough to make her think twice about wanting to support them.
Interesting counterpoint to this, though: while in Candlehearth, I went by Susanna the Wicked and heard a line out of her I hadn’t heard before, “How can Elda hate the dark elves when she knows so little about them?”
And that’s a good thing to see in Windhelm. (A shame Susanna gets killed by the Butcher, though!)
Which leads nicely into the first major new action of this session: getting my mitts on the alternate dragonscale armor.
This armor set was ridiculously easy to get, just because it’s at Yorgrim Overlook, and all you have to do is kill one extra skeleton warrior there aside from the two already there. Then you nab the key off the extra warrior, unlock the chest, and boom, you have an entire suit of dragonscale armor. (Minus the shield.)
And, well, awesome. Given that I was level 15 at this point, this now stands as the earliest point in any Skyrim game where I’ve achieved dragonscale. I’m simultaneously pleased and a little disappointed about how easy it was! Didn’t even have to have Dragon Smithing unlocked! (Though once I do unlock it, I’ll apparently be able to make more of this new type of dragonscale stuff.)
Also important to note: having this armor was not enough to keep me from being trounced by the Seducers bandits. But now I know where their camp is, i.e., right by Yorgrim. So I’m going to need to figure out how to take those guys out.
The armor was, however, pretty fucking critical with the next notable action I did: going to Shearpoint to get the Throw Voice Shout. Which, by extension, meant I had to fight the dragon priest Krosis. At level 16. Which is a tall order given that Krosis is level 50!
But I actually did it. Twice. I had to do it twice because the first time through he killed Lydia, and that was not acceptable. So second time through I took the precaution of giving Lyds a bunch of healing potions. But it helped as well that we trapped Krosis down on a ledge, and at that point, I was able to pelt him with Lightning Arrows.
Which, by the way, are also now a thing, part of the Arcane Archer content that’s part of the AE. There are Fire, Ice, and Lightning Arrows, all of which throw the rune of their type when you shoot them. At which point the rune explodes and does damage! This helped a lot fighting Krosis, in no small part because of the hit it gave him to his magicka.
Next major notable thing: picking up a second pet, Thistle the Bunny, at the Alchemist’s Shack. On general principles of BUNNY! <3
What’s not yet clear to me: how fragile these pets in the Pets of Skyrim creation are. They seem like critters you could easily lose in battle? So I think I’ll be stashing various pets at various houses and only teleporting them to me if I need them. Convenient that you do in fact get the ability to teleport pets to you when you acquire them.
(Though I should think that if you get spells to teleport your pets to you, you should by extension be able to teleport other things to yourself, at least in character. Out of character, I expect figuring out how to teleport a thing out of one of your houses to you would be difficult.)
Now that said: after I got Thistle the first time, I had to do it again because of getting jumped by not one, not two, not three, but FOUR TROLLS IN A GROUP while crossing through the wilderness of the Rift. And what. The. Actual. Fuck.
Or at least, I’m pretty sure it was four trolls. I think I only specifically laid eyes on three, but I distinctly saw four dots on the HUD. Still, that was TOO DAMNED MANY TROLLS. They handed me my ass. And this was on default Adept Difficulty, even!
And since that threw me all the way back to Whiterun, I elected to go buy the land for Lakeview and get that home underway before re-doing getting Thistle and running the Rift Watchtower. Second time through, at least, I made it without getting swarmed by trolls.
And this time, since I also made it to Ivarstead to give Temba her bearskins, I saw a new NPC, Sirayar. I couldn’t interact with him, because he’s important to a different quest and I don’t have the opening hook for that one yet. But I’ll swing back around to that later!
Notable thing for Riften: for now I am avoiding running the Thieves Guild, just because I’m doing that with Faanshi and I don’t want to be running the same plots at the same time if I’m going to do parallel playthroughs. I really want to see Shadowfoot Sanctum, but there’s an argument to be made here for not hitting all of the brand new stuff on the first PC playthrough!
But that said, I enjoyed running Embershard this time just to see what the orcish plate armor looked like. And I’m really enjoying seeing all these little bits and clues about various NPCs connected with the Crimson Dirks.
Damn good question! I have a lot of options before me, and I’m torn between knocking down some more of the early game low-hanging fruit, like running the Bard’s College… and going after more new stuff. I think I’ll see what strikes my fancy when I fire up Shenner’s run next!