Elder Scrolls Online,  Gyllerah Playthrough

In Which Gyllerah Discovers a Plot in Shimmerene

This is a double session post! Main action: Paul and I actually progressed a plot a little further, following up on the request given us by Razum-dar to question certain persons about their thoughts on the queen’s decree about opening Summerset’s borders to newcomers. And of course there was a lot more to this than met the eye!

Epilogue: More of my derping around the game and discovering why, exactly, it is a bad idea to practice your abilities within range of NPCs. Oooooops.


  • Play date: 10/5, 10/6/2022
  • Session number in this run: 4-5
  • Picked up with Paul where we left off in Shimmerene
  • Did a little investigating of how to shop with Guild traders, all of whom generally had stuff that’s at level 50 which we cannot use, damn
  • Then we returned to the plot at hand
  • Went to talk to the first of the three NPCs, the Argonian Tsoxolza, who we found dead on the beach, oops–but with a disturbing note in a backpack that basically went “THE HIGH ELVES ARE TOTALLY IMPRISONING NEWCOMERS”
  • Went off to talk to the second NPC, a High Elf named Olnewil, bitching about her Bosmer apprentice being carted off, and third NPC, Rhanul, a Redguard merchant whose cousin had been taken
  • Returned to report this to Raz, who sent us off to infiltrate the nearby monastery while he distracted the sentry
  • We got in and investigated the place, and found a list of detained persons and a suspicious letter about making use of those detained persons–in the Undercroft (again, Not the Slightest Bit Suspicious)
  • Went down there to check it out, and found Valsirenn, NPC from the Psijic Order, also investigating the place; helped her get in
  • And were shocked, SHOCKED WE SAY, to find a few surviving locked up prisoners, signs of them being used for Daedric magic, and also actual Daedra roaming the place
  • Fought our way through and got back out again
  • At some point during this battle I leveled up to 4
  • Valsirenn paused to rest and sent us on ahead
  • We went to an inn to meet up with Raz and brief him, at which point he asked us to get into a party held by the Kinlady, and gave us fancy clothes and invite to infiltrate it
  • Which was a good place to stop main plot action for the night
  • I did a little bit more shopping and armor repair work after Paul logged off
  • And then also did a little practicing with controls, at which point I accidentally triggered my Aedric Spear and plammoed an NPC with it, yikes
  • Pissed off the guards, got a warning about all guards now bent on killing me on sight, and that I’d now have a bounty
  • Guard came over and beat me to death, ow ow ow ow
  • Revived at the nearby Shimmerene Wayshrine, at which point my bounty evaporated and everything was fine
  • But at least at that point I also had figured out how to set up my controller buttons to let me turn off the UI for screenshot purposes
  • Logged off at that point
  • Came back next session for more controller practice and also, in particular, getting used to hitting the right trigger to draw my weapon rather than X, so that I wouldn’t trigger Aedric Spear unless I damn well meant to
  • Practiced that and killed a bunch of imps, and an indrik
  • Got a maple shield off of one of the imps
  • Found a dead armored elf with a note to Chief Justiciar Carawen which appeared to be a quest hook; did not engage
  • Found nirnroot! 😀
  • Also a fishing spot and a heron right by the nirnroot
  • Found several runestone deposits and also a skyshard
  • Practiced fishing since I’d gathered a bunch of bits of bait
  • Sold a few things to the non-guild merchant
  • bought another maple shield off a guild merchant because it talked about being useful when deconstructed
  • And logged off at that point

Plot commentary

Elder Scrolls Online is a huge and complicated game, so Paul and I are taking our time getting to learn how everything works, and taking our time dipping our toes into actual play. That said: it was nice to be able to get to doing some actual in-game questing. Summerset may not be the best place for newbies to start off, but hey, we got roped into the local plot right quick, so it was as good a place to start as any.

And certainly, as soon as we discovered one of our contacts was actually dead, that made it clear that there was more than meets the eye going on with the local populace’s reaction to the Queen’s decree. From the note we found on the dead Argonian, as well as talking to the other two NPCs Razum-dar sent us to find, it became quickly apparent that the borders aren’t as open as the Queen wants them to be. Local authorities are seizing newcomers, sometimes even newcomers who have been around for a while, and there are rumblings about making sure that they’re “culturally suitable” and such.

NOT THE GODDAMN SLIGHTEST BIT SUSPICIOUS oh my no. And I say that as somebody playing a High Elf.

(I still need to figure out exactly where Gyllerah is from, and what her stance is on the High Elves interacting with the other races. Being me, I am inclined to make her be rather more liberal about this kind of thing than many of her Altmer kin might like. Hmm, I’m kinda feeling a background here of, she is the child of Altmer parents who were serving as low-level diplomats somewhere else, and she came back to Summerset to actually see her homeland for the first time? Or at least tried to, before she got slurped into that portal?)

So since this was Not the Slightest Bit Suspicious, by which I mean Completely Fucking Suspicious, Paul and I returned to report this to Razum-dar. Who then asked us to infiltrate a nearby monastery for him for further information.

At this point, some of the differences between playing Skyrim solo and playing an MMO like Elder Scrolls Online became more apparent. Because:

  1. We went into that monastery in broad daylight and didn’t really seem to need to sneak? Even though the situation kind of called for it, or at least would have done in Skyrim
  2. We weren’t the only players running the plot, I spotted at least one other PC in the immediate area, who was followed by another character tagged as a Companion
  3. Not much in the way of obstacles to investigating the place, either–nobody challenged us once we were in there, until we got to the point where we had to fight actual monsters

I wonder whether in an MMO environment they’d have to keep the number of NPCs you need to interact with in a zone down to a minimum? If you have multiple players trying to play an area, and they all need to interact with the same NPC, I could see that becoming complicated.

It was pretty cool actually meeting a member of the Psijic Order, though. I of course know of them from their appearance in the College of Winterhold plotline in Skyrim. 😀 And I’ll be interested to see where the Psijics being involved in this little plot takes us.

Also, Razum-dar is delightful. He’s very point-blank about his intentions for recruiting you, saying stuff like “we need to investigate this thing, and by we, I mean you”. He also drops highly amusing hints about his background.

From what poking around I’ve done on the wiki, I see Raz is also a character you meet when you start the main plot–so Paul and I are kind of meeting him out of sequence, I guess? I did notice that he got called an Eye of the Queen in some of the dialogue we had with Valsirenn, and that was not a piece of information we got off of Raz himself.

So that’s a little bit of a discrepancy. I will take the liberty of assuming that either I can ignore that little tidbit for narrative purposes, or that Raz actually dropped a hint about that anyway, or that either Paul’s character K’sragi or I managed to clue in on it regardless. I could arguably have a little bit of insider High Elf knowledge to have an eye of who the Queen’s Eyes are? And Paul, if he’s inclined to sneakiness and intrigue, may have gathered that info on his own.

Once we got down into the undercroft, it was a little tricky figuring out how to free one of the NPCs in the cages. We had a prompt to talk to her, but we had to do the prompt to actually unlock the cage separately, and that required a little bit of pointer movement to actually find that. And Paul and I both were surprised that we didn’t have to lockpick the cage to open it.

Once we got into the actual fighting with Daedric monsters part, that’s where doing this with two players was certainly more handy than doing it solo. Paul reported that his health bar got down pretty low, which reminded me that yeah, I’m going to need to learn how my healing abilities as a Templar work.

But there was also at least one other player running the plot at the same time we were, the person who had a companion along, as well as Valsirenn. So it worked out to be a bit bigger a fighting force in that undercroft than narrative might otherwise have dictated! That, clearly, is going to be a thing I’ll need to get used to on this game.

Valsirenn sent us on ahead after we escaped the Undercroft, admitting that the battle had wiped her out and that she needed to rest. So Paul and I followed the quest markers over to an inn, where we had to meet up again with Raz and tell him what we’d discovered.

Raz then asked us to go infiltrate a party being held by the Kinlady, a local authority who seems to be neck deep in this whole plot to kidnap newcomers to the island and use them for Daedric purposes. This was the point at which Raz also dropped tantalizing hints about how he’d pissed off that person in the past, and coyly demurred telling us anything about it in depth. Damn. 😉

Raz also handed us invitations to that party, and fancy outfits to wear. Lolololol. Shades of the Thalmor Embassy!

And that seemed like a good breaking point for us to stop.

Non-plot commentary

I popped back into the game a couple of times without Paul, just to practice using the controls, and in particular to see if I could figure out how to get the Steam Deck set up in an easily useful way for taking screenshots.

But before I talk more about the controls, I’ll also note that I learned an extremely important lesson: that it is a very bad idea to practice your character skills near an area that has NPCs. Particularly if you’re a Templar who has an ability to invoke a magical spear that can, in fact, manifest and fly over to impact NPCs.

Boy howdy was that a bad idea.

I figured out later what happened. I’m used to hitting my Y button to draw my weapon–from playing on the Switch, and on my Switch Pro controller. On the Steam Deck, that translates to my X button, since Nintendo swaps positions for the X and Y buttons, and also for A and B.

Running ESO on the Deck, I do seem to have some kind of weird double-mapping thing going on with the X button. Because when I hit it, if I don’t have a weapon drawn, it does draw the weapon. But it also throws Aedric Spear.

Which is a goddamn problem if I’m near enough to an NPC that I can hit them with Aedric Spear. Which is exactly what I did. Ooooops.

I immediately got an alert that I’d committed a serious crime, that I now had a bounty, and that all guards were going to kill me on sight. And a guard ran over and proceeded to pound me into the ground.

I got asked where I wanted to revive, so I told it to put me at the Shimmerene wayshrine, since that was nearby. And when I revived, the bounty evaporated and guards were no longer on alert about me.

Welp, that was a little bit more excitement than I wanted while just trying to figure out how to map my screenshot buttons! I lamented about this to Cync on Discord, and she assured me that the guards would not remember I’d slaughtered an innocent civilian. LOL. 😉 She also relayed that one of our guildmates pointed out over voice chat that there is a toggle for not attacking innocents, so yeah I think I better find that and make sure it’s on!

Once I got past that little burst of excitement, though, I did manage to figure out a few things.

First: how to set up the Deck to let me do screenshots. I found ESO’s menu for setting server-level key bindings, which included the option for hiding the game UI for screenshot mode. But I also discovered that doing a second binding for that didn’t work–because ESO doesn’t know what the Steam Deck’s back buttons are. So I couldn’t bind that function to one of the Deck’s controls directly.

What I wound up doing instead was to do a first binding for that to the semi-colon key on the keyboard. And then going into Steam’s own controller layout and telling it to map the semi-colon key to my L4 button. That got me to where I wanted to be, i.e., being able to toggle the UI on and off with a single controller button.

While I was in there, I also mapped the system-level screenshot to R4.

What I couldn’t figure out how to do, though, was map the server-level sliders for camera position. I did find the menu items for those, and that seems very handy for centering the camera on your character for screenshots. This may be a thing I learn about how to do via addons, which I’m hearing from the Guild folks do exist. But I don’t want to dive into addons quite yet, still learning how the base game works first.

For now, I’m satisfied with screenshot functionality being set up!

Next time I popped in, I explicitly practiced with using my right trigger button to draw my weapon on its own, rather than using the X button. That’ll be a lot safer than trying to hit that X button by default. (That said, I do also want to investigate why X appears to be double-mapped, and see if I can fix that.)

So I ran around a bit killing a bunch of imps, and doing my best to position myself to throw Aedric Spear at them only when I was sure I wouldn’t hit somebody else by accident. This gave me a chance as well to try to practice Interrupt (LT + RT), and I think I need to practice a bit more with Dodge as well (LT + A). Dodge apparently can be directional? So yeah, I need to play with that.

Other things of note I ran into:

  1. An indrik, which appeared to be some kind of supernatural deer creature, and which was pissed off and hostile when I got close to it
  2. Nirnroot! 😀 Nice to see that it exists in this game too and makes the familiar noise
  3. Several runestone deposits
  4. A skyshard
  5. A fishing spot, finally
  6. A dead body that appeared to be a quest hook

Runestones were a thing I’d already seen a bit of in previous sessions. And now I actually have a better idea of what they’re for: i.e., enchanting. I’ve got a pretty good handful of them now. But I need to get to an enchanting station to actually use them.

I like the idea that runestones are what you need to do enchanting. Apparently you’re supposed to use them to make glyphs that do various things, and those glyphs are used for the actual enchantment, once they’re placed on an object.

However, Soul Gems are still used for recharging enchanted weapons, so that’s important to know.

Skyshards on the other hand appear to be entirely optional. I found one of those in my wandering, and triggered it. Wiki says you get a skill point for every three skyshards you find, so that at least seems worth doing for now.

I learned about how fishing works. To wit: very similar to Skyrim, with the exception of not apparently actually needing a fishing rod in my inventory. Instead, what I need is bait, and I can apparently get a lot of that by killing assorted critters.

Found a fishing spot right by the nirnroot plant, and saw that I was able to use river bait to fish there. Wound up catching two salmon and a river betty. As to what to do with the fish–use them as cooking ingredients, apparently?

And the question for me here is: does ESO actually expect your character to eat? So far from what I’m seeing, food in ESO gives you buffs to attributes like food in Skyrim does, but I’m not seeing if eating is actually necessary. Mostly so far it looks like cooking food seems to be another potential way for your character to make money.

Last but not least, I found the body of a dead elf that appeared to have a note lying next to it, addressed to “Chief Justiciar Carawen”. I didn’t actually read the note, given that that looked like a quest hook and I didn’t want to take a quest without getting Paul in on the action. But I did look Carawen up on the wiki–and it looks like she’s a leader of the frigging Thalmor.

Apparently the Thalmor are recruiting newcomers to the island to have them take care of problems? This seems to be a mechanism to let players have in-game reasons to go find and run dungeons. Which, on the one hand, seems useful.

But on the other hand, it’s the frigging Thalmor, and I kinda don’t care if the Thalmor are less obnoxious in this point in time than they are in Skyrim’s. Kinda not inclined to do anything for the Thalmor. Even if I’m playing a High Elf. But we’ll see if the game gives Paul and me a reason to change our minds!

Next time

Paul and I plan to play tonight, so we’ll see about moving that plot along.

And other things I want to figure out:

  1. The double mapping thing on my X button
  2. How well the screenshot functionality translates if I’m playing via PS4 controller on my Mac–no back buttons there, so I’ll have to try hitting that semi-colon key while playing on the Mac
  3. How disguises work, since the fancy outfits Raz gave us for the party seem to be “disguises” and I need to know how to equip those
  4. How my healing ability works and how I can position myself by Paul to heal him and me in combat


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.


  • Erin Schram

    The game settings under GAMEPLAY > COMBAT have an option “Prevent Attacking Innocents” to keep from accidentally hitting innocent bystanders with attacks. I usually have that set, but my characters in the Dark Brotherhood have to turn it off for assassinations. Likewise, GAMEPLAY > ITEMS has a setting to prevent accidental stealing. However, Cync installed the NoAccidentalStealing AddOn onto my computer, so I use that to prevent accidentally picking up someone else’s property instead.

    AddOns can be found at http://www.esoui.com. Of course, you have to check out the Event Tracker AddOn that Cync wrote.

    You said, “I still need to figure out exactly where Gyllerah is from, and what her stance is on the High Elves interacting with the other races. Being me, I am inclined to make her be rather more liberal about this kind of thing than many of her Altmer kin might like. Hmm, I’m kinda feeling a background here of, she is the child of Altmer parents who were serving as low-level diplomats somewhere else, and she came back to Summerset to actually see her homeland for the first time? Or at least tried to, before she got slurped into that portal?”

    Lots of Altmer live in other zones, so Gyllerah does not need a diplomatic backround to explain a non-Summerset family. I myself love backstories, so though my characters started as blanks (especially since the original tutorial has them set up as someone whose past life is gone. The Prophet annoying calls my character “Vestige.”), I gradually pieced together a backstory out of how they interacted with others.

    My first character, bosmer templar Erinlar, learned about Khajiiti culture on the starter island of Khenarthi’s Roost, so I figured that he grew up among Khajiit. I eventually settled on Southern Elsweyr. He also spent a lot of time in the city of Skywatch in Auridon. He purchased the Barbed Hook Private Room in the Barbed Hook Tavern as his residence, did most of his banking at the Skywatch Coinhouse, and sold most of his adventuring loot to the merchant closest to that bank, the bosmer chef Eranwen at the Sleepy Eaglet tent.

    I decided that Eranwen was Erinlar’s sister. I set up the Barbed Hook Private Room with two beds, claiming that both siblings lived there. Their parents had been fishermen on Errinorne Isle east of Skywatch before the Maomer pirates became too dangerous and they moved away. Eranwen and Erinlar returned to the ancestral home, where Eranwen found permanent work at a temporary festival tent (Skywatch is holding a Defiance Day festival, and due to the looping time in a MMORPG every day is Defiance Day).

    For my fifth character, I had been considering making a copy of Valsirenn, whom Gyllerah just met. I would name the copy Valsirenn the Younger and pretend she was on a time-travel quest for the Psijic Order. However, Elsweyr was the next chapter, so I decided instead that the time was ripe to start roleplaying Eranwen (https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Online:Eranwen). I copied her–a blacksmith costume dyed in the right colors resembles her outfit–and named the character Eranwen of Skywatch.

    When Eranwen’s parents left Errinorne Isle they moved to the west coast of Grahtwood, a beautiful deserted beach. They did not know that the beach was deserted because just inland was the cursed remains of Gil-Var-Delle. Their first two children, Eärendil and Eranwen, were born cursed with dark magic. They moved to Southern Elsweyr for their third child, Erinlar, who was born with powers of light. Eärendil the Coroner is one of Amy’s characters. He embraced his necromantic powers for honest work. Eranwen chose to avoid magic and become a chef, learning about Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajiit cuisine. But now she adventures with her necromantic magic, too, turning soup bones into spells.

    Backstories are fun.

    My acount’s primary residence is the Barbed Hook Private Room, if you ever want fast travel to Skywatch. A New Life Festival (Christmas) event and a Jester’s Festival (April Fools) event take place in Skywatch, because it is a festival town. Residences and friend’s residences are good for fast travel out of deep wilderness or a deep dungeon to convenient banks and merchants. One tiny apartment, such as the Golden Gryphon Garret in Alinor, Summerset, is free for each new character (https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Online:Room_to_Spare).

    “I’m going to need to learn how my healing abilities as a Templar work.”

    The Rushed Ceremony skill is basic for small-group play. It heals the ally, including possibly yourself, who need it most. For a team effort in a dungeon, a templar needs some healing-over-time skills, such as Grand Healing on a Restoration Staff, because Rushed Ceremony consumes too much magicka for frequent use.

    • Angela Korra'ti

      Re: the toggle to not slaughter innocent civilians: LOL, yes, that’s the one Story mentioned to me by way of Cync. And I think I spotted it once derping around through the controls myself. But thank you for the specific pointer.

      Re: it not being necessary for Gyllerah’s parents to be diplomats–yeah, I know! But that’s just the first idea that came to mind. And I kinda landed on that just to have an excuse for why Gyllerah might be a bit better than the average Altmer at sussing out why some seemingly random Khajiit might come up to her and a friend and recruit them for what is clearly spy work. 😉

      I’ve come up with a bunch of backstory for the various Skyrim characters and the Morrowind character I’ve run, so I fully expect to do so here as well. Though as with my other characters, yes, I do expect Gyllerah’s background to reveal itself to me kind of organically, as play dictates. I’ve updated the pages for my other characters repeatedly as I’ve gone through that process with them.

      Your various backstories sound fun!

      Re: addons–yes, those have been mentioned to me. I’ll get to them soon enough. Right now I want to focus on making sure I understand the base game before I start trying to doink around with modding it. That’s kind of the same strategy I’ve applied to both Skyrim and Morrowind. Though if I find any particular aspect of it that I really want to tweak right now, then yes, I’ll poke at mods. The question there is going to be how well I can set them up on my Steam Deck, which is intended to be my primary gaming device. I’m already chatting with Gulid people about that on the Discord.

      Re: the healing ability for my character, yes, I’ve read on the wiki what it does. But when I say I need to learn how it works, what I more mean is, how it should work for me in hands-on practice. I’ve been slurping up a great deal of info on the wiki already. But what I need to learn in actual play, when I play with Paul, is how best to throw healing around when he needs it, what cues I need to look for on screen if not getting pinged by Paul directly, etc. The kinds of stuff you only learn from directly playing the game, vs. looking up stuff on the wiki.

      (Because I can look stuff up with the best of ’em. 😉 I have a long history of looking up stuff on uesp.net, from Morrowind and Skyrim.)

  • Erin Schram

    You said, “Re: the healing ability for my character, yes, I’ve read on the wiki what it does. But when I say I need to learn how it works, what I more mean is, how it should work for me in hands-on practice.”

    Most people write to not slot Rushed Ceremony, because it costs too much mana. But it is simple and its advanced form Breath of Life serves my needs. I learned what fit Erinlar from hands-on practice, and he is a weird build.

    Amy reminded me that I have not answered your question about fish, “Found a fishing spot right by the nirnroot plant, and saw that I was able to use river bait to fish there. Wound up catching two salmon and a river betty. As to what to do with the fish–use them as cooking ingredients, apparently?”

    You can USE a basic (white font) fish, such as a Salmon, via your inventory and an animation of your character cleaning the fish appears. Cleaning turns a fish into a food ingredient named Fish, which can be used at a Cooking Fire. About one time out of one hundred, you also get a Perfect Roe, a fantastically valuable Legendary Provisioning ingredient. Because of the value of Perfect Roe, lots of people will buy basic fish to try to get Perfect Roe, so those fish sell for a very good price in a trading guild. The Tamriel Trading Centre web site says 600 gold for a River Betty.