Highly entertaining session, focused entirely on the conclusion of the Balance of Power and Restoring Order quests, which let me finish up the Saints and Seducers content provided in the Anniversary Edition. Took this all the way through to the epilogue as well.
- Started at Hendraheim
- Rode Swift Wind from there to aim for the Saints bandit camp
- Lydia and Gogh killed at least a couple of critters en route
- Stumbled across Serpent’s Bluff Redoubt en route; exterior Forsworn attacked us, fuck it, we’re not letting that stand; ran the place after Lydia, Gogh, and Swift Wind took out all the Forsworn outside
- Got overloaded gathering loot so definitely had to be mounted to move (god, lovely to have a mount now that I don’t have to worry about losing 🤩)
- Had to wind my way down to the road from the cliffs we were on
- Galloped past Broken Tower Redoubt because didn’t want to engage with the Forsworn
- Just past a bridge, I saw the refugee farmers go by but didn’t have a chance to talk to them
- Lydia and Gogh caught up and we wound up near the road up to Karthwasten
- Saints bandit camp was right there; cleared the place, including killing the bandit leader Kinthal
- Got assorted bits of Golden armor and weaponry off all the bandits; also Kinthal’s journal that said who he and the Seducers bandit group had been actually working for
- Really overloaded though so unicorn-fast traveled to Solitude to sell stuff and unload
- Leveled up to 30 while selling stuff; took Health bump and Insightful Enchanter perk in Enchanting
- Boinged to Windhelm to sell more things
- Rode out from Windhelm to find the Seducers camp
- Killed en route: ice wolf and a Boethiah cultist
- Then a dragon; unicorn vs. dragon = badass 😀
- Reached the Seducers camp and a melee erupted, Seducers vs. snow bear vs. ice wolves vs. Team Dragonborn
- I didn’t actually have to hit anything, which was good, because I was overloaded with dragon bits
- Discovered camp site overlapped with the caravans plot because there was a destroyed caravan there with another note for a quest hook to find a second caravan
- However: somehow triggered a second quest marker to kill Svarig even though he was already dead, WTF
- So rolled back to coming out of Windhelm
- Pretty much same pattern of adversaries with two exceptions:
- Went past the old orc who wanted a good death
- When I got to the campsite, which was right near Forsaken Cave, a frost troll killed a trio of mead revelers; geez you guys you ever considered partying not out in the middle of goddamn nowhere where there’s frost trolls and bears?
- This time killed the bandits and got the caravan note with no problems
- Boinged to Whiterun for a loot drop
- Khajiit were on site so also reported back to Ri’saad that the bandits who’d been bothering him won’t be a problem any more
- Back to Solitude!
- Headed into the sewers
- Found a large root cave full of funky new ingredients, also a bunch of elytra nymphs and corrupted spriggans; very otherworldly!
- Found a dead end tunnel with a dead hunter in it and an open hole high above, not sure where that hole was supposed to be on the surface?
- Finally reached the mad wizard Thoron and he fried me, ouch; thrown back to beginning of sewers
- Tried again, multiple times, but the bastard kept summoning Saints, Seducers, and Potent Storm Atronachs, and he kept throwing lightning
- New plan: time to level up!
- Came back up to street level and did a bit of smithing at Beirand’s forge until I was almost ready to unlock Arcane Blacksmith
- Did a bunch of alchemy in Angeline’s shop with the new ingredients until I was almost to level 31 (which also let me make some tasty offensive potions)
- Bought a bunch of materials from Beirand, made and improved items until I leveled up to 31
- Took Magicka bump and Arcane Blacksmith 😀
- Then improved all the Imperial Dragon armor, and the Bow of Shadows
- Went back in for another go
- Used a potion that was a combo of Damage Magicka and Paralysis a couple of times, as well as potions of Slow, and Fortify Archery when shooting
- Saints and Seducers came at me multiple times, had to remember to be very focused, use my shield, and remember that i can frigging Shout
- Ultimately had to target Thoron, and hope Lydia and Gogh would take out his minions, which did finally work! Came at the crazy bastard and took him out
- Proceeded to loot his stuff, remaining ingredients to harvest, and the leftover Golden and Dark armor lying around so I could sell it
- Notable items: Sword of Jyggalag, Sheogorath-Shaped Amber
- Very overloaded at that point so tromped slowly back up out of the sewer
- Got a Courier with a note with a request to meet under Solitude’s arch
- Had to tromp slowly out to the stable on Katla’s farm to find my unicorn so I could ride over there (had never actually looked very much at that stable before! Saw the kid lying down to sleep on the hay)
- Rode the unicorn over to find Staada’s meeting point, and found that the unicorn can swim! Carried me across the water to Staada’s camp
- As soon as i got off the unicorn to talk to her, surprise! Saints bandits attack! They were pissed that I’d killed their leader Kinthal
- I let Staada and Swift Wind take them out, and took all their stuff when they were done
- Gave Staada the sword and kept the amber, apparently it will be useful later! Staada gave me her helmet by way of gratitude
- Boinged by unicorn back to Whiterun
- Sold a bunch of stuff, and parked in Breezehome to save for the night
So if any of you are looking at the subject line of this post and going “Shenner fought a mad conjurer, you say? Imma need you to get more specific”, you are absolutely correct. Because you can’t swing a sword in many of Skyrim’s locales without hitting a completely batshit bonkers mage.
In this particular case, the batshit bonkers mage in question is even more batshit than usual by Skyrim standards. As you might expect, given that the Saints and Seducers plotline is all about Daedra in service to Sheogorath, the Daedric prince of madness!
And I’m here to tell you that Thoron, the mage who’s the main antagonist of this plotline, is definitely batshit bonkers. He wants to open a portal between Sheogorath’s realm in Oblivion and Tamriel, which is what he’s doing down in the Solitude sewers when you finally track him down and confront him.
For extra batshittery, you will also find that he’s wearing a Ring of Disrobing. This ring’s function is apparently to remove whatever you’re wearing in your chest armor slot. So when I found Thoron, he was wearing nothing but a helmet made out of madness ore*, his boots, and a loincloth. Exactly why he wanted to wear a ring that does this is entirely beyond me, but well hey, he was batshit.
(* It amuses the hell out of me that this content introduces armor and weaponry made out of a material that’s literally called madness, and which will apparently drive a smith crazy if they try to make gear with it! Because apparently if you are a follower of Sheogorath, you can literally arm and armor yourself with the physical manifestation of batshittery. Unless you’re Thoron, in which case you apparently only want to wear your madness on your head. LOL.
Note also that of course this quest line eventually leads you to the ability to make stuff out of madness ore yourself. But of course the game does not appear to be concerned about whether it drives the Dragonborn batshit too. Presumably the Dragonborn is immune to being driven batshit.
But I digress. 😆)
Now that said, Thoron being a lunatic does not mean he wasn’t a formidable opponent. Because he was. Dude could throw lightning, and he also kept summoning storm atronachs, Golden Saints, and Dark Seducers. The wiki says he calls in his backups at certain checkpoints when he loses health. And if you haven’t killed his prior summoned help, this makes your life a lot more difficult very quickly.
So even though I came in there with Team Dragonborn (Lydia and Gogh, I had no way of getting Swift Wind down into the sewers, so the unicorn was not in on this fight), Team Thoron wound up being bigger. And packing a powerful punch.
I came in there at level 30, and that was not enough. I kept getting my ass handed to me every single time I initiated combat–by either Thoron himself, or else one of his summoned backups.
What finally worked: retreating back up to Solitude’s streets, and taking the time to craft a bunch of tasty offensive potions I could use on my weaponry, as well as getting my smithing up enough that I could unlock Arcane Blacksmith. Which in turn let me improve the Imperial Dragon armor. Because that armor saved my ass, once I had it improved up. The enchantments on it, particularly the shock resistance, were particularly critical for blunting what Thoron could do.
With so many combatants in play (Team Dragonborn at three, Team Thoron up to four or five depending on how many summoned backups he’d called in and how fast I could kill them), my poor stupid old PC had a hard time keeping up. My frame rate started dropping, and the response time on my weaponry was likewise impacted. That was not a scenario I could effectively shoot in, particularly with my ebony crossbow, which is my current highest damage weapon.
So I pretty much had to resort to direct melee fighting. Which meant I had to focus on running for Thoron directly and trying not to engage any of his backups unless absolutely necessary. And I also had to burn a lot of healing potions. I have the Fast Healing spell on this alt as of this writing. But Thoron being able to throw lightning and call storm atronachs meant that my magicka was frequently obliterated. Throwing Stoneflesh, my current best armor spell, was likewise not much of an option for the same “because of a lot of lightning being thrown around”. Healing potions were therefore vital.
Equally vital: coming in there with magicka-disrupting potions at the ready. Some of the funky new ingredients I harvested out of the sewers prior to the boss fight, and which I took up to Angeline’s shop to make potions from, resulted in some tasty potions that not only caused a magicka hit to the target, but also caused paralysis. Very helpful.
Between my PC’s slowed response time and the need to check my health frequently, I wound up having to stop every few seconds and figure out my next move. Which meant that overall, this fight had the same level of challenge and tension that I got out of my very first fight with Malkoran to get Dawnbreaker, way back in Alarrah’s run!
Very satisfying to have that same kind of combat here. 😀
It was also satisfying just to see all of the otherworldly things growing down in the Solitude sewers, in the tunnels leading to where Thoron was trying to open his portal. This was clearly the result of some of Sheogorath’s realm, the Shivering Isles, leaking through to Tamriel. And, the various ingredients I harvested certainly seemed to have a bunch of useful properties, once I got them to an alchemy lab!
Contributing to that otherworldly atmosphere was the music, because there’s definitely different music when you go down into the root cave. According to the wiki, the piece that plays is “Wind From the Depths” from the Oblivion soundtrack. So people who have played that game (I haven’t gotten to it yet) may recognize it!
I must giggle as well that this content includes a thing called a Soul Tomato. Which acts like a Grand Soul Gem, but which is, well, a tomato. This? This right here? This is the kind of madness content I hope for in a plot featuring the realm of Sheogorath. 😀
Last but not least, after fighting and defeating Thoron, there was an interesting little epilogue to the plot. As soon as I came up out of the sewers, a courier came up to me on Solitude’s streets. He had a note from an unidentified party asking me to meet them under Solitude’s arch, because they were aware I possessed something they needed to return home to their own realm.
This unidentified party turns out to be Staada, who is in fact one of the actual Golden Saints, i.e., a Daedra, as opposed to the bandits who just swiped the Saints name. When you find her you have the opportunity to give her back one of two artifacts that, if you found everything to loot in Thoron’s lair, you should now have in your possession: the Sword of Jyggalag, or the Sheogorath-Shaped Amber.
I opted to give her the sword, just because it doesn’t come with any enchantment of its own, and you can find plenty of other comparably powerful weapons. Whereas you can use the amber later if you want to create a spellbook to summon Staada! Which seems potentially entertaining.
Also, I found Staada extremely terse. This may be a combo of the Golden Saints apparently being very haughty, mod creators probably having had to cobble together dialogue out of previously existing voice lines, or both. I was kind of amused about how terse she was, too! It seemed in character for her type of Daedra. She wasn’t exactly hostile, but she certainly didn’t seem to want to deign to talk to me. LOL.
So note to Future Me, as well as anyone else who is interested in running this content, either via the original Creation or via the Anniversary Edition: when you get down into those root tunnels, come down heavily armored and armed, with as much shock resistance as you can muster. Bring a lot of healing potions. And if you have to, harvest all the ingredients you can nab first, retreat out of the place and make your offensive potions, and then come back in and confront Thoron!
Also, Future Me and anybody else: take your time working up to this plot. Getting to Thoron requires going through two different sets of both Saints and Seducers bandits, and they do have formidable Golden and Dark gear, so taking those bandits out is tough all by itself. It took me amassing powerful followers to do it. So starting this plot in general? Not recommended for starting characters, get leveled up first. Lots of healing capability, good armor of your own, powerful magic if you’re magic-inclined for your play, and powerful followers would also be helpful.
Now that I’ve got Gogh on Team Dragonborn, feeling like I may be in a good position to try Giant’s Tooth again and get that plot resolved. Just because it’s supposed to result in my having a new follower available and I want to see if that guy’s awesome or what.
Likewise, the Crowstooth plot and the Edward the Bandit plot are pending resolution. So I’ll probably try to tackle those soon too.
And meanwhile, the mage college plot needs moving along, so I really probably ought to go talk to the Augur somewhere in between doing all this highly entertaining new stuff. 😉