Dragonborn,  Shenner Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Shenner Claims the Deathbrand Hoard and the Black Bow of Fate

This Shenner session is a milestone: the very first time I tried out playing Skyrim on my new Steam Deck! Very satisfying experience over all. And satisfying for Shenner as well, as she got to kill several pirate ghosts and a dragon, and collect more shiny loot. <3


  • Play date: 8/26/2022
  • Session number in this run: 54
  • Picked up right by Gyldenhul Barrow
  • Swam across to fight the two bandits outside
  • Then went in to clear the stalhrim veins and break into the hoard
  • Got pretty overloaded clearing the hoard so left some stuff in one of the chests before fighting the pirate ghosts
  • Took out all the ghosts \0/
  • Got the two scimitars; overloaded again on the way out so picked up the other stuff too
  • Daedric-horse’d back to Raven Rock
  • Sold a bunch of things to Glover and Fethis
  • Went back to Severin Manor to drop off stuff; did some alchemy and enchanting
  • Came back out again–and got a Revered Dragon!
  • Killed it with crossbow where it landed in the ash yams just by Fethis’ stall
  • Went out of the city after that
  • Encountered and dispatched pissed off Breton at Old Attius Farms
  • Mage fight near Ashfallow; conjured my bear to go at ‘em
  • Two different burnt spriggans
  • Two ash hoppers
  • Three nix-hounds (and a partridge in a pear tree?)
  • Made it to Kagrumez
  • Took out the reavers inside, then ran the place
  • Didn’t take on either of the friendly dwarven mechanisms since I already have Gogh
  • Came out of there very overloaded again, so once more Daedric-horse’d back to Raven Rock
  • Got courier with next letter from Ralis
  • Returned to Severin Manor though to drop off new loot
  • Saved for the night


Almost nothing I did in this session was AE content, so I’m not going to do into detail about running either Gyldenhul Barrow or Kagrumez. Note: Kagrumez did have the one interesting extra detail that you get the schematic for making Soul Stealer arrows–so now I should be able to do that. But that’s only a sentence’s worth of commentary right there! More on this later when I try making those arrows.

I’ll also note that since I’m running with the USSEP active, I had no problems getting into Kagrumez. The reavers all spawned correctly, and I got the necessary remaining resonance gems.

Instead, I want to focus on the initial impressions I got from this being the first time I played Skyrim on the Steam Deck. And as I’ve said in earlier posts and on social media as well: holy shit you guys this is amazing.

The additional depth and clarity is hard to capture in static screenshots, as I commented in my First impressions of my new Steam Deck post. With the screenshots I’m including on this post, you’ll be able to see what I mean. Inside Severin Manor didn’t look hugely different, and neither did Shenner’s stalhrim armor–though I did notice in a side by side screenshot comparison that her armor does look a bit bluer on the Deck’s screenshot than it did on the PC’s.

But where it really made a difference was when I was out moving around Solstheim, and fighting hostiles. I saw nothing having any trouble rendering, a pronounced contrast to how the world slowly draws itself around me when I move around in a game on my old, stupid PC. I’m pretty sure as well that I had much improved clarity on distant things as well.

And overall, I had a much more distinct feel of depth and dimension to everything around me. Again, that’s hard to capture in static screenshots. But while I was in motion, it really made a difference.

What drove this home for me was just tromping around in the ash-covered areas right around and behind Raven Rock. Those are the areas of southern Solstheim that still get blasted by ash storms off the Red Mountain, so in that part of Solstheim, everywhere you look, just about everything is covered in layers of ash.

And on the Steam Deck, I had a visceral reaction to this that I hadn’t had before on either the Switch or the PC. Namely, a slight itchy feeling, as if my subconscious suddenly believed that this was an environment that would, in fact, be highly uncomfortable to travel through. That ash should get all over everything and make my character really want a full-body bath or a long swim to get clean.

This time through, I even felt like I was traversing an environment where it would be harder to breathe. Redoran Guard NPCs bitch about the ash all the time, and you can frequently hear passing Raven Rock NPCs coughing, even. But having this new level of graphical detail helped sell this whole idea to me in a way I hadn’t gotten to experience before. I love this.

I’m going to be real interested to see how well I get shots of trees now, though! Some of the screenshots of Solstheim I’ve taken in Shenner’s playthrough are pretty, but the trees are also a lot less distinct than they should be. I will be looking out for this.

Even more importantly than the graphical rendering, the ease of motion was just absolutely wonderful. On this device, I no longer have to worry about being too damned slow in multi-opponent combat. And I will be better able to get out of the way of Rulnik’s familiar and Gogh’s storm atronach, too! Hopefully this will also lower my risk of hitting friendly NPCs when trying to fight dragons near towns!

Likewise, it was very satisfying to be able to whip out Shenner’s ebony crossbow for the Revered Dragon that buzzed Raven Rock in this session. Up until now I’ve been mostly using regular bows for Shenner’s ranged fighting, often still preferring the Bow of Shadows even if it doesn’t do as much damage as my better bows, just because of its improved draw speed.

Now I no longer have to worry about that. I pelted that dragon with crossbow bolts right good.

As I said in the other post, the only even remotely bumpy bit about moving Shenner’s playthrough to the Deck was that when I first launched from my last save, the Fishing Creation threw me a warning about resetting my fish plaque in Lakeview. I also got a warning about a couple of mods I didn’t port over. Neither of these were actual problems.

I did re-install the USSEP via Bethesda’s in-game UI, same as I’d done on the PC, just because I want to continue to have that available in Shenner’s playthrough. I’m going to finish her up this way, and save a really modded Skyrim for a fresh playthrough later.

(And I gotta admit, I am also half-tempted to run a completely unmodded Skyrim playthrough on the Deck now, just so I can have access to Achievements. Just because the Switch doesn’t have them in its build, and you can’t have them if you’re running mods. And hey, I like the idea of getting shiny Achievements as much as any other gamer! I’d kind of like to try it once just for the satisfaction of that.)

Next time

I think I may actually switch things up a bit, and consider taking out Miraak before I’m fully done with Solstheim. Just because I feel like the urgency of taking down Miraak, in character, should take precedence over whether I’ve gotten all the Black Books, finished helping the Tribunal cult, or anything else.

But I’m not sure about that yet. At the very least I want to run Benkongerike so I can get the dremora merchant!


Editing to add

  • 11/23/2023: Restored missing gallery.

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.