Double session post! Main item of interest here is that I joined the Antiquarian Circle, which a) gave me my first chance to lay eyes on what Skyrim looks like in ESO, and b) let me start using the game’s Antiquities system. And, I did a whole bunch of exploring for various materials surveys, which gave me a chance to put down a dangerous necromancer in the Rift.
- Play dates: 11/13-11/14/2022
- Session numbers in this run: 43-44
- Blipped to Solitude Dock Wayshrine
- Went into Solitude from there and wow the path into Solitude and the general terrain was super familiar, even if the specific buildings weren’t, entirely; in general the place looked much more austere
- Checked all the familiar places to see what was in all the shop locations, and of course there’s a different inn where the Winking Skeever sits
- Different access up to where Beirand’s forge is in Skyrim, just outside Castle Dour
- Found Proudspire Manor! And the Bards College actually exists in this game too!
- Found the notice about joining the Antiquarians; read that and got the quest prompt to go talk to them in a building next door to the Bards College
- Spoke with initial person who tested me on the Eye and then swore me into their organization, and sent me downstairs to talk to Gabrielle for training
- Did the tutorial for how to scry and excavate, then was sent on my way to look for antiquities!
- But first went looking for a clothing materials cache, which required me to loop around south to the vicinity of Morthal
- Went through Dragon Bridge on the way, the bridge looked pretty much identical 😀
- Found two different skyshards
- Notable monsters fought:
- Frost troll (which looked notably different from Skyrim era frost trolls)
- Werewolf in wolf form and possible werewolf in human form near one of the skyshards
- Skeletal dire wolf
- Found Old Karth Ritual Site, and witnessed what I think was a harrowstorm, Skyrim-area equivalent of the geysers and dolmens?
- Tried to jump into the fight on that but didn’t do enough damage to get any loot
- Went about my business and finally found the clothing materials stash nearby
- Couldn’t get to Riften on foot because don’t have the intervening territory in my DLCs
- Boinged to a temple wayshrine in Stonefalls instead to see if I could hoof it in from Morrowind
- Answer: yes but had to go past Fort Virak, and also hostile Covenant troops
- Spotted a dolmen going off but did not go over to fight at it
- Dropped into Sneak instead and made it into the Rift, only to find skeletal warriors out on the road
- Found Fullhelm Fort with non-hostile Pact soldiers in it
- Got past that and close to where I needed to be for the jewelry cache I wanted
- Found a cultist and zombie camp near Lost Prospect, but also got found by an NPC named Yngvar following me around and wanting my attention
- Told me his captain and some of his cohorts had been captured by the cultists, so I had to agree to get into the camp and save them
- Several zombies to kill in the Lost Prospect mine, and large blue crystals everywhere, not sure what they were mining?
- Several lost souls–which maybe gave Gyllerah the chills
- Followed the path up to the exit; found two peasants there to rescue
- Also found the captured captain, and a necromancer trying to do a ritual on her
- Fought the necromancer, and then a whole bunch of zombies as a nearby shade of a woman kept doing her ritual; she turned into a lich after nine zombies, and proceeded to kick my ass
- Resurrected with a soul gem; she kicked my ass again
- Take three: resurrected at the nearest wayshrine which was a bad idea, because then I had to come back in through the mine to get back to the ritual site
- This time though used several crown potions in the fight, and this time I killed the lich
- Freed the captain, who told me to come with her to retrieve the shard of Wuuthrad (saying that like Gyllerah should know what she’s talking about, sign that this was probably a zone level quest)
- Leveled up to 33 here
- Ysgramor’s ghost showed up and said complimentary things, awgosh
- Went back outside and gave the axe shard back to the captain, who gave me a belt by way of gratitude
- Went about my business and finally found jewelry cache just across from a giant camp
- Found Fort Greenwall which certainly seems to be in better shape than in Skyrim’s era
- Backtracked and went into Riften, because nearest source of wayshrine!
- Looked quite a bit different buildings-wise but the same geography-wise and general style of buildings-wise
- Wayshrined from there back to Alinor
- Ran writs
- Rearranged outfit style again this time to Khajiit + High Elf mix
- Went back to room and logged off for the night
- Returned to Skyrim to try to find the jewelry cache in Eastmarch
- Wayshrined over to a wayshrine in the Rift to see if i could hoof it northward
- Answer: yes, but I had go through Shor’s Stone to do it, looping east and north
- Shor’s Stone bigger than it is in Skyrim, several more buildings
- Swung north and west through Eastmarch; less tundra than I was expecting from a similar route in Skyrim
- Locations noted:
- Jorunn’s Stand
- Thulvald’s Logging Camp
- Tinkerer Tobin’s Workshop
- Enchanted Snow Globe Home
- Skirted the lower edge of Windhelm but didn’t actually go into it
- Fort Morvunskar
- Voljar’s Meadery
- Giant’s Run Dolmen
- Found the blacksmithing cache and got a boatload of orichalcum ore, LOL, which I wasn’t hurting for to begin with, but at least the exploration was fun
- Did a Dark Anchor at Giant’s Run Dolmen
- Headed southward to try to find a way to hoof it to Craglorn
- Additional locales noted:
- Bonestrewn Crest
- Darkwater Crossing
- Was not able to find a way to get to Craglorn on foot—intervening territory was either not actually implemented on the game or else was for DLCs I don’t own, also couldn’t find a wayshrine to bamf to on my in-game map
- So bailed on the idea of going to Craglorn and decided to hit Greenshade instead
- Cosest way for me to do that was to hit the Haven wayshrine in Grahtwood; bypassed as much of haven as I could to avoid the Jackdaw pirates attacking the place
- Headed northwest towards Elden Root
- Additional locales passed:
- Vineshade Lodge
- Reached Elden Root and explored there a bit to get it onto my map, and also find its wayshrine
- Worked my way northwest from there to get to the road that goes to Greenshade; mostly followed a road north and west from Elden Root
- Other locales passed:
- Elden Root Temple Wayshrine
- Reman’s Bluff
- Not marked for the map but I think I skirted around the Tarlain Bandit Camp?
- Crossed into Greenshade and immediately found Marbruk
- Driladan Pass
- Falinesti Wayshrine
- Found the clothier survey materials just northwest of the Falinesti Wayshrine; used that wayshrine to return to Alinor
- Ran writs
- Experimented with making Redguard style armor but didn’t really like it
- Made a Breton style Adept Rider cuirass since I feel like Gyllerah should be wearing heavier armor and I did like the Breton style cuirass
- Throughout the session blew both of the experience scrolls i got off daily rewards and came close to, but did not roll over into, level 34
- Logged off for the night
Visiting Solitude in general
First and foremost, since this pair of sessions saw my first ventures into Skyrim as portrayed in this game, I naturally had a lot of reactions to this!
Walking into Solitude felt super familiar, with the general layout of the terrain as well as the curve of the road that leads up from the docks and farm, and up past the stables towards the city’s gates. The open area where I’m used to seeing Ma’dran’s Khajiit caravan parked had a super large tent there instead. And inside the city, the overall configuration of buildings looked more or less the same. But the buildings themselves didn’t, not quite.
The main avenue with the shops didn’t have the colorful decorations up that I’m used to seeing when I enter the city in the other game. And all in all the city seemed more austere here, and a bit more formidable in appearance. I didn’t entirely like it.
The thing is, after discussing it with Paul, I’m pretty sure this is entirely because ESO is an MMO and Skyrim isn’t. ESO doesn’t have all the extra little details I’m accustomed to seeing when I walk in through Solitude’s gates. All those details, like, say, the strings of colored flags that hang over the road, or additional flowers here and there, wear and tear on the shop signs, and such. It kinda can’t, not when it has to render that city for potentially dozens of players to come through at any given time. But this is also an out-of-character explanation.
In-character, I feel like it’s totally appropriate that a city might indeed look more austere 800-some-odd years into its past. Even something as simple as “the buildings changed appearance when the people had to repair the stonework” or “the new Jarl ordered everybody to remodel their buildings because she was a fan of a particular style” could explain visual differences. The really important things, like the overall geography of the place and the general locations of architecture, felt the same. And that too is plausible, in a society where stone buildings should be built to last for several hundred years.
It was however very weird to see different names on all the shops and also on the inn to the left of the gate. It will definitely make me double take every time I come through there and the inn is not the Winking Skeever.
And am I going to specifically go into the Lonely Troll and see if it’s built on the inside like the Skeever is? Yes. Yes I am.
I already knew Proudspire Manor existed in this version of Solitude, as well as the Blue Palace. I did not know going in that the Bards College also exists! (And holy crap, the wiki even says it has quests. Rather more involved than the ones in Skyrim, I hope!)
I see Castle Dour exists as well, but not in the context of “it’s the headquarters of the Empire”, which kinda stands to reason. The wiki suggests spooky quest action to be had there. Which I may well need to investigate later with Gyllerah, or a different alt!
Joining the Antiquarian Circle
My main goal for showing up in Solitude, though, was visiting the Antiquarian Circle–because I wanted to figure out how the Antiquities system works, and that was the critical first step. Finding them was easy enough, I just had to show up in Solitude and find the handbill posted for public view, which then gave me a quest marker to their establishment.
Which turned out to be next door to the Bards College. hah.
So I went in to talk to them, got briefly tested, and accepted into their organization. I shall explain this in character by it being part of Gyllerah trying to find herself and re-establish her memories! Because if she can travel the countryside and look for crafting materials as well as antiquities, it will maybe mean she might find out where she actually belonged prior to the incident at Balfiera.
I found the Antiquities tutorial non-intuitive, though. The wiki explanations for it were not clear, and I couldn’t find a really good step by step walkthrough about how to use the tools once you’re doing a dig. I did eventually manage to derp my way into it, though, and get accepted as an official Antiquarian.
So now I can look for treasure and dig it up and sell it! Yay! Er, uh, I mean, send it back to the organization for research. That too. 😀
Dragon Bridge and Morthal
Heading south-westish from Solitude certainly looked familiar, particularly with how it led me past Kilkreath Temple on the right, and then looped down through Dragon Bridge. The layout of the buildings in that village struck me as different–but the bridge itself? Absolutely the same. Warmed my heart to see.
I went past Morthal on my way to finding a clothing materials cache, and I stopped there long enough to check the place out at least from a nearby distance; I didn’t actually set foot in the town. It seemed about the same size as Skyrim-era Morthal, to be sure, but I got a rough impression of “looks different”.
I will need to check the place out in further depth later.
While trying to find my way down to the Rift, I came across a place called Old Karth Ritual Site, which turned out to be the locale for a harrowstorm event. I.e., the Skyrim-zone equivalents of geysers and Dark Anchors. So I tried to jump in on the fight when I saw this one go off, but I got in there too late to really do any interesting damage or get any loot. Still, though, very impressive to see that firing off.
The Rift, Lost Prospect Mine, and a bucketload of zombies
Next up on my agenda was hitting a jewelry materials cache in the Rift. Now, in Skyrim, I could easily hoof it from the general vicinity of Morthal down into the Rift. In ESO, not so much. The reason for this: the territory covered in Skyrim is broken up into different zones in ESO. Some of these zones are covered by existing DLCs, but some of them aren’t yet built out on ESO at all.
So, in Skyrim the game, if I were to want to go from Solitude to Riften and specifically go overland, I could either go east through the Pale and then down through Eastmarch as I start viewing southeast towards Riften. Eastmarch exists in ESO, but the Pale does not. So there’s no getting through that way.
If I were to veer south from Solitude first rather than east, that’d take me down through Whiterun Hold, and then maybe cutting through the eastern part of Falkreath Hold because there’s a good route through the mountains down there that leads into the Rift. But Whiterun Hold hasn’t been built out in ESO yet as near as I can tell, and while Falkreath exists, it’s considered part of Craglorn in ESO’s timeline.
I do have access to Craglorn in what DLCs I have, but there does not seem to be an easy way to cross into that territory on foot. And I certainly can’t get to the Rift from there.
All of which adds up to, I had to wayshrine my way into the Rift. So I boinged down to Stonefalls to the nearest wayshrine to the Rift border I could find (I think the one I chose was the Iliath Temple one), to see if I could get in overland from there. Answer: yes. But I had to go past Fort Virak to do it. And Fort Virak was in the hands of hostile Covenant soldiers.
(Side note: I’m not actually in the Ebonheart Pact, but the Covenant soldiers were still hostile to me anyway. It’s not clear to me whether they were hostile because I’m a player character in general, whether I’m Aldmeri Dominion by affiliation, or what. Would they have been hostile if I’d been a Daggerfall Covenant affiliated character? I don’t know! I could certainly see them being hostile to all player characters regardless of affiliation, if they are people unknown to their forces.)
I snuck my way past Fort Virak and made it into the Rift–which definitely looked familiar, in terms of overall autumnal feel of the place. But since the first major place I got to was a fort that doesn’t exist in Skyrim, Fullhelm Fort, it was a bit difficult for me to really get a sense of whether the place’s geography matched up well with Skyrim’s.
Most of the action I had in the Rift, too, was with Lost Prospect Mine–a place that does appear in Skyrim, but which I’ve never actually set foot in, I think. So I can’t really say whether ESO’s layout of it is like Skyrim’s. But given that I saw blue crystals all over the place in ESO’s mine, and that Skyrim’s appears to be an abandoned gold mine, not sure exactly what the cultists were supposedly mining? Or what the crystals were for.
And boy howdy were there zombies. SO MANY ZOMBIES. And some Lost Souls in the mine as well, though I didn’t get any context on who those souls were, so maybe they were just the souls of the people who’d been turned into zombies?
The necromancer fight at the end of this dungeon was a challenge. Took me multiple tries to get through it, and once I did, I got the surprise of the ghost of Ysgramor showing up because there was a fragment of his axe Wuuthrad to recover. Which was my sign that this was in fact probably part of a larger zone plot–which I confirmed later on the wiki. This one, at least, was better structured than the one in Mournhold; I didn’t feel like I had any loose ends after finishing it, no NPCs telling me to go do things I didn’t get quest objectives for, and such.
After that rather exciting adventure, my next stop was Riften, because that was my closest wayshrine to get home to Alinor. I wasn’t in Riften long, but I got a good look at it.
Heh, it was quite a change of pace coming in the gates and not getting extorted by the guards. LOL. But also, unlike Solitude, Riften did look noticeably different in its layout. Not the style of buildings, which were still mostly all wood, but the configuration of buildings definitely seemed different. The waterway on the lower level, where the entrance to the Ratway is, was the same. But the buildings around it definitely looked different, and the place in general seemed more open in its layout.
I spotted a few refugees, too. I didn’t see signs of burned down buildings, but Paul says that he did when he visited Riften in ESO. Riften does get burned down, but not until the Fourth Era. The wiki however says that Riften does in ESO’s timeframe take a lot of heavy damage for local plot reasons, so I’m assuming that the refugees I saw are part of that.
I am delighted to see on the wiki that the Ratway does in fact exist in Riften in ESO’s timeframe. This will require later investigation. 😀
The main thing I want to say about going through Eastmarch is, there was less tundra and hot spring terrain than I expected. Overall the area still looked like Skyrim to me, but it looked like the Skyrim territory more over towards Morthal than it did the area I’m familiar with just south of Windhelm.
Also, the area right around the southern edge of Windhelm seemed a lot more built-out than it is in the time of Skyrim. Which is not bad, certainly! But it’s interesting, since I don’t know the rationale there, if there’s a story reason there’s more stuff exterior to Windhelm in this point in time or what.
I did find locations whose names I recognized, such as Bonestrewn Crest and Darkwater Crossing. But there were a bunch of other locales I did not recognize. So curious to know whether there was some sort of historical event that wiped out a lot of those locales later, or something?
I didn’t actually set foot in Windhelm, mostly because I was on the hunt for that jewelry materials cache. But I will definitely have to pop in there at some point and check the place out. I want to see if its overall feel is different in this game vs. Skyrim. Skyrim!Windhelm is certainly forbidding and austere, even in the nicer bits. It’ll be interesting to see if the same feel is present in ESO. And what stands in the area that later becomes the Gray Quarter.
Grahtwood, Elden Root, and Greenshade
The next major area I explored in these two sessions was Bosmer country! I’d been there before with Paul for the Halloween event, but this time I was able to spend more time exploring and get a better feel for the place. Including, specifically, Elden Root.
I took the time to explore the main layout of that city, since it’s the capital of the Dominion and all. Unsurprisingly, it was very full of player characters. I didn’t try to interact with anybody, just because again, I was in general exploration mode and didn’t want to get roped into a quest. Especially any quests involving any Hooded Figures.
I did like the overall look of the place, though. And I don’t know what I expected out of Bosmer architecture, really, but I was really pleased with some of the nicer bits of it that I found. (See the screenshots.)
A thing that I started observing at about this point, though, was that certain wayshrines were definitely ones showing up as discovered when I got near them, but which I hadn’t seen when I tried to get in via the map. So I’m getting confusing results about what places I can explore via wayshrine and what ones I can’t. I did find an Elden Root wayshrine that apparently I already considered “discovered”, but which I hadn’t seen on my map when I tried to get in! And this happened later when I went to Sentinel in a later session, too.
I found a lot of minor locations on the way to the clothing material cache I was aiming for, but a major location as well on the way into Greenshade: the city of Marbruk. Bigger than I anticipated and also not really oriented around a tree, from what I could tell? Again, not what I expected of Bosmer country. But a very nice looking area nonetheless.
Takeaway from this: don’t underestimate the Bosmer culture! They may not be as fancy as the Altmer, but this doesn’t mean they’re savages. <3
The next post after this will also be a double session post, with unexpectedly heavy exploration and plot action! Featuring:
- Going to the Alik’r desert
- Starting the plot line for the Mages Guild
- Starting the assassination plotline in Auridon
Editing to add
- 11/25/2022: Found a couple of screenshots I missed when I originally put this post up, and have added those to the attached gallery.