My wife Dara found out about Skyrim Together Reborn, a mod that allows you to play Skyrim in a group with your friends, and as soon as she and I knew about this we knew it was a thing we wanted to try. So did Dara’s friend Mel, who has better Internet than we do, and who was therefore able to host a server.
Last night, we tried a playthrough session together and it turned out to be pretty frigging hilarious. 😀
- Play date: 10/1/2022
- Session number in this run: 1
- Met up just outside Helgen since my character picked up just after escaping Helgen with Hadvar of the Imperials
- Did initial shopping in Riverwood and got the quest for the Golden Claw from Lucan in the trader shop
- Large number of naked NPCs!
- Dara had issues crashing, though, so we had to do Riverwood twice
- Ran Bleak Falls Barrow and got the Dragonstone, and the first word of Unrelenting Force
- Issues meeting back up on the way down from Bleak Falls Barrow
- But once we did, we found some Thalmor with a prisoner! And wound up killing them all, HA, and that got me elven armor
- It also triggered a situation of there being three Thalmor prisoners, who also started attacking everything in sight, including an animal and a nearby hunter, yikes? I’d tell them to dial it back a bit, but y’know, you build up a lot of aggression when you’re imprisoned by the Thalmor 😉
- I think it was also at this point that I spotted Ralof of the Stormcloaks, hanging out by the side of the road? Because Dara and Mel had both followed him out of Helgen, and he threw a line about “showing them who this land belongs to”. Because that’s exactly the thing you want to say to a party consisting of an Altmer, a Khajiit, and a Redguard
- Mel found the bandit camp with Treasure Map I, and nabbed that
- Brought the Golden Claw back to Riverwood to give it back to Lucan
- Had a courier show up with a note to provide the hook to the Plague of the Dead Anniversary Edition plot, and Dara actually shot the poor courier (because kitties hate the mailman!)
- Mel nabbed the treasure out of the log near Riverwood
- Headed towards Whiterun
- Found the Companions fighting the giant at Pelagia Farm, so had the initial conversation with them and got the pointer to go talk to Kodlak about joining the Companions
- Also found Ri’saad’s Khajiit and some issues with Ri’saad being stuck in his sitting pose that he usually does in his tent
- Ri’saad gave Mel the note that gets Saints and Seducers started, also AE content
- Made it to Whiterun and were challenged by the guard at the gate, then allowed in
- There may or may not have been issues with certain persons haranguing guards on the way up to Dragonsreach 😉
- Made it to Dragonsreach to bring word of Helgen being destroyed
- Certain persons may or may not also have jumped up and down on the Jarl and then the Jarl’s throne while he was talking with us, Irileth, and Proventus about the situation
- Got the Jarl to give us the quest to go talk to Farengar, but LOL, we already had the Dragonstone
- So that also immediately triggered Irileth showing up with word that the watchtower was under attack by a dragon
- Certain Kitties who shall remain nameless totally stole everything in sight while the Jarl was ordering us to go take out the dragon
- We all ran out there and noted hilarity with the guard force not being four as per a usual playthrough, but twelve
- Headed out with this surprisingly larger force to get to the watchtower, which mostly played through as expected but with some of Irileth’s scripted activity not happening, like her stopping at the rock to address the guards
- Got a little sidetracked returning to Whiterun; Mel ran off to the nearby giant camp and got plammoed by the giant there
- Dara tried to pay Mel’s bounty but got thrown into the Dragonsreach jail, so wound up getting back there ahead of us–which automatically triggered the resolution of Dragon Rising
- Got the Greybeards going DOVAHKIIN when I got back closer to Whiterun
- And saw Lydia introducing herself to me as our housecarl when I reached Dragonsreach
- Mel showed up in Dragonsreach as well and re-triggered the Jarl’s making us thane and giving us Lydia as a housecarl
- Note: We only did get one instance of Lydia!
- Got the Jarl telling us to go talk to the Greybeards
- We did not, however, go talk to the Greybeards; instead, we went to go check out Jorrvaskr (and Dara stopped to play her favorite game, Jumping on Heimskr’s Head, which was extra hilarious with Heimskr rendering naked)
- Stopped in the Bannered Mare and Mel attempted to brawl with Uthgerd the Unbroken, which, uh, may have resulted in her actually killing Uthgerd the Unbroken, oops
- I read the For Sale notice on the counter in the Bannered Mare which triggered the Pets of Skyrim AE quest
- Advised Mel that we should have Lydia stand down so that she wouldn’t get pissed off with us sparring with Vilkas
- Talked to Kodlak, then went out to spar with Vilkas; this took a while because Vilkas maybe was reacting to all three of us?
- Finally got him to stand down though and accept us as new “whelps” for the Companions
- And we’re pretty sure this is the part where Dara suddenly found her speed had significantly increased–Kitty got the zoomies! 😀
- Mel got a new Companions quest to go take out vampires at Broken Fang Cave
- So we headed out that way (and on the way out, Mel discovered trying to steal a horse from the stables didn’t go very well)
- I also noted Atahbah of Ri’saad’s Khajiit caravan near the stables, even though we’d seen the Khajiit already walking before?
- Delphine walked past us on the way out and I heard a line from her I’d never heard before, asking if I was afraid of her?
- We wound up also running Fort Greymoor, which was interesting to me on the grounds of my never actually having run it in my usual playthroughs, but we couldn’t figure out how to properly clear it
- Passed a couple of Vigilants of Stendarr who were fighting wolves (which apparently rendered as skeevers for Dara?)
- Didn’t quite make it to Broken Fang Cave before Dara crashed again and we saved for the night
Let me establish expectations straight out of the gate here: this is not a playthrough I am taking the slightest bit seriously. I’m not going to worry at all about character roleplay here, since the whole point of trying Skyrim Together Reborn is to play Skyrim with friends, and see how well that works.
Plus, given that Dara and Mel are taking great delight in fucking with things as much as possible (stealing everything in sight, jumping on the Jarl of Whiterun, shooting poor hapless couriers, etc.), I am not going to stand in the way of that. I’ll just be the Altmer over here rolling her eyes at the reprobates she’s hanging out with. ;D Expect general shenanigans with this, as well as extensive snark and snickering at the various weird aspects of trying to get Skyrim working in a multi-player context at all.
For me, the first challenge was actually getting STR running correctly, as I’ve written about in previous posts on this blog. My only option right now for running STR is on my Steam Deck, since I couldn’t get it working on the Win11 VM on my new M1 Mac. Thankfully, the Deck handled it pretty well. The only additional thing I needed to do to be able to play with Dara and Mel was to install the Discord client on the device, just so that I could join our voice chat on the Deck and be able to hear them as well as game noises and music at the same time.
We discovered pretty quickly though that there were going to be issues. NPCs without clothes are apparently a known thing in STR, enough so that their official wiki even has a page about it. And we also discovered that we were not all running on the exact same setup either. Mel and I both had the Anniversary Edition installed and Dara did not, which could well have explained why she kept having crashes.
Mind you, the STR team does explicitly advise not trying to play with the Anniversary Edition content at all. But neither Mel nor I wanted to go the route of deleting the AE files off our systems. I like the AE and don’t really want to fuck up my ability to play it. But I need to investigate whether it’s a thing I can safely disable in Steam.
And in the meanwhile, Dara says she’ll try to install the AE on her system. We’ll see whether, next time we play, that stabilizes things at all.
Here, too, is a list of various weirdnesses we saw:
- Naked NPCs all over the place, and the same NPCs not rendering the same way for all of us at the same time
- I saw at least a couple of examples of NPCs who were not only naked, but also composed of weird mixes of body parts and skin tones, like an NPC with an Altmer head and a clearly Redguard body (and who was also, as it happened, naked)
- Quests not syncing well between all three of us, Mel picked up the vampires quest from the Companions, but it did not sync over into my and Dara’s quest journals
- Aela of the Companions was initially naked in the battle with the giant, but later when we saw her at Jorrvaskr, she had her usual armor but not her usual warpaint
- I kept seeing random level ups of my One-Handed and Destruction skills, even when I wasn’t actively using them. This seemed to happen a lot when Mel, as party leader, was fighting opponents. Dara, however, did not get these level ups
- Lots and lots of objects sliding through the world, generally all in the same direction, and clipping through walls, furniture, other objects, and us. This included the spider in Bleak Falls Barrow, and even NPCs. We saw Ria of the Companions who was supposedly sleeping on her bed in Jorrvaskr sleeping in mid-air, and then floating along until she finally got outside and kept floating
- Lots of NPCs who just had general trouble walking, and instead wound up floating along their usual routes. And NPCs as well who were frozen in place and not moving at all
- As noted above, when we headed out with Irileth and the guards to go fight the dragon at the watchtower, the guard force spawned as twelve, rather than the usual four. Presumably because there were three of us in our party. Dara theorized that if we had eight players in the party, the supported max for the mod, we’d have an entire goddamn battalion of guards. Which, truth be told, would actually have been the correct response to a dragon attack nearby!
- When we killed Mirmulnir at the watch tower, he completely evaporated for me, though Mel saw his dragon skeleton properly. Later, once we were back in Whiterun, his corpse dropped right into the middle of the Wind District, right onto the Gildergreen! And we saw him as a full corpse, not just as skeleton
- The way this setup is supposed to work in theory is that the party leader should be the one interacting with quests. But we discovered it’s certainly possible for the party followers to do so, as Dara made it back to Dragonsreach first–accidentally, because of paying off the bounty–and triggered concluding Dragon Rising. So I was greeted by Lydia when I showed up. But that same script played through once Mel showed up as well
- As noted above, Dara got the zoomies when we were at Jorrvaskr! So she spent a lot of the rest of the session running circles around us
So yeah. Not the most stable play experience in the world! But even given that, it was still fun, and mightily impressive that it worked at all. It’s some goddamn sorcery to make it possible to let multiple players play a game that was not originally designed to do that. Hats off to the STR team for pulling this off!
We liked it well enough that we will be trying it again, and we’ll see if we can make it more stable for next time!
We never did make it to Broken Fang Cave, because Dara crashed out again at that point, and we were all ready for a break regardless.
But we did agree to play again next weekend! So we’ll need to try to run Broken Fang Cave to take out those vampires.
And before that happens, Dara needs to install the AE on her system. We’ll see if that does stabilize things, or if we have to consider making new characters with less fucked up scripting baked into our save files. More on this next time we try to play!
Boy howdy do we have screenshots. We all took them of various hilarious things we spotted, so this gallery is a mix of ones from me, several from Dara, and one from Mel!
Editing to add
- 11/23/2023: Restored missing gallery.