Dragonborn,  Shenner Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Shenner Returns to Kolbjorn Barrow and Enters Benkongerike

I would not normally have bothered to put up a post for a playthrough this short, but I wanted to gush some more about the graphics experience I’m getting in Skyrim on the Deck now. ๐Ÿ˜€ So here we go!


  • Playthrough date: 8/30/2022
  • Session number in this run: 55
  • Started in Severin Manor
  • Went out to run Kolbjorn again
  • Opponent at Old Attius Farm: Argonian skooma addict
  • Ran Kolbjorn round 3; got the Ring of Arcana and the Gauntlets of Warding
  • Killed all the draugr, mostly one-shotting them with my Ebony Dagger of Damnation
  • Zero problems doing the tile puzzle this time, or getting the ring via telekinesis
  • Got back out again and handed Ralis his 5000 septims
  • Headed north from there
  • Found an area that seemed to be where the ashy parts of Solstheim overlap with the snowy parts?
  • Passed Altar of Thrond so went ahead and took out the hagravens in there
  • Went through Moesring Pass
  • Took out a couple of frost trolls en route to Benkongerike but no other opponents
  • Made it to Benkongerike and started running the place
  • Paused halfway through, just before the larger cavern with the various walkways and the lower tier down in the water
  • Saved there for the night


And here’s the reason I wanted to do this as a standalone post: because I’m still fucking amazed at how much more realized Skyrim’s world is at Ultra tier graphics.

When I’m out traversing the southern half of Solstheim, I can see ash vapor rising off the ground, for fuckโ€™s sake! Which makes sense to me, ash will get blown around, right? So I should be periodically seeing wisps of it along the ground, if I’m running on a device capable of indulging in that level of extra detail.

Likewise, I just appreciate how, even if it’s ostensibly a clear day on Solstheim, the air is still pretty hazy. There’s an ashy weight to it, really. This also makes sense–because if Red Mountain is still actively erupting almost 200 years after it last blew, to the degree that even on Solstheim you can see it spewing ash into the air, then that shit’s going to linger.

I find myself thinking of the first time I visited Los Angeles back in the 90’s, in an era where the city pollution was kind of horrible. We were down there to go to the Worldcon science fiction convention and also Disneyland! But the air in L.A. was an unpleasant shock to lungs accustomed to breathing in Seattle. What my household said to one another at the time was that air should not be chunky.

I imagine Solstheim’s air being like that. And now that I’m playing Shenner’s run on the Deck, it looks like it. It’ll be real interesting to get Faanshi over to Solstheim on the Switch soon so that I can go back and doublecheck this stuff on that device! Because the Switch’s graphics in Skyrim are good–but I’m pretty sure it’s not clocking in at Ultra. I do want to see though if I get that same sense of weight to the air, or if I see those ash tendrils in Faanshi’s run!

One other thing I noticed along these lines that I want to comment on is how, while heading north to Benkongerike, I went up the slope that leads to the Altar of Thrond. This is right in the shift of terrain from the ashy parts of Solstheim to the snowy parts.

And for the first time, I stumbled across what looked like a place where the ash and snow actually mingle. What I saw, standing on that slope, was a dark area that had sparkles in it–and I wasn’t sure whether the dark on the ground was because I was partially in shadow, or whether it was ash intermingling with the snow!

I really like the idea of ash and snow mixing, thatโ€™s got to be happening all over Solstheim. Just because it’s not like there’s a hard barrier between the ashy parts of the island and the snowy parts.

Which also raises the question of how often ash storms from Red Mountain intermingle with snow storms on the island? Or rain? That’s got to be some horrible, horrible weather conditions right there. And I really gotta wonder why, Bulwark or no, every single person in Raven Rock isn’t constantly masked up when they’re outside? How the hell do these people manage to breathe?

The Skaal, Bujold’s Nords, and the rieklings all mostly seem to be living far enough north that they can get away without masks. But even so, all the hunting parties I keep running into, who’re coming down from the north to hunt netch, aren’t masked! YOU GUYS! I know the All-Maker wants you to live as one with the land, but y’know, this doesn’t mean you want volcanic ash in your lungs.

Heh. I also wonder whether Neloth spends any time on spells to actually purify the air. As the most powerful mage on Solstheim, he strikes me as a likely possible candidate for that kind of work. And certainly the need to actually keep the air semi-breathable seems like a mandate for survival here. I’d likewise be thinking that in the rest of Morrowind, surely the mages they still have must be working on that?

But anyway! Lots of food for thought here, and lots of questions, none of which I’m finding immediate answers for as I go trolling around the wikis. Sure is fun to think about though. ๐Ÿ˜€

Meanwhile, noting for the record that running the third round of Kolbjorn Barrow was very satisfying. I’m wibbling in the 30’s and 40’s for frame rates in Solstheim’s exteriors, but as soon as I set foot in the barrow, I was rock-solid on 60 fps.

Zero problems mostly one-shotting every single draugr I found. Zero problems running the timing-dependent tile puzzle–this time, I could actually move fast enough that a single word of the Slow Time Shout let me do it! Absolutely delightful.

Next time

Need to finish the run through Benkongerike! And by extension, reaching the Black Book in there, and getting the ability to call the dremora merchant. I gotta sell him a boatload of stuff. ๐Ÿ˜€


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.