I know all my posting love has been going to Elder Scrolls Online and my primary Skyrim playthroughs, but we are still periodically doing Skyrim Together when time permits! Last night, Dara, Mel, and I had our next STR session. So let’s return to the hapless adventures of our trio of Dragonborns in the Skyrim AU where the laws of physics are often on vacation, where weather can change at a moment’s notice, and where the newly slain can come back to life without a single necromancer involved.
- Play date: 11/26/2022
- Session number in this run: 3
- Picked up at Dustman’s Cairn
- Dara triggered the cutscene where she got trapped in the side room, which led to Farkas turning into a werewolf and fighting several of the Silver Hand
- Mel and I were both out in the main room, but we couldn’t draw our weapons, we still had to also just witness the fight
- Past that point all of the Silver Hand we kept encountering were in various weird states; a lot of them didn’t actually move to fight us, they just stood around, even though they were saying their combat lines
- Swiped a set of fur armor off one of the Silver Hand just to see if I stopped registering as naked to Dara and Mel if I switched out of the Leather Scout Armor; answer: yes
- Dara reported a bad crash about here, which cost her opening a Master lock at level 7 and an entire level up, because she wasn’t being paranoid enough about saving
- Draugr further in were likewise kind of random in whether they actually moved and fought us, or just stood around in various weird poses
- Explored around quite a bit but lost track of Farkas
- We made it through to the boss chamber, and bunches of draugr
- Got the word for Fire Breath off the Word Wall, anyway, and we headed back out to return to Whiterun
- Went past Bleakwind Basin, at which point Mel decided she wanted to play with the mammoths
- Mel got stomped on pretty hard, but we did however manage to take down the two giants
- Mel also reported a couple of Whiterun guards showing up near her commenting on the fight–naked; they got killed in the melee though
- Eventually we decided maybe playing with the mammoths was not a good idea, so back to Whiterun!
- Got the courier with the letter from the Jarl of Falkreath on the way into Whiterun
- Made myself a full set of leather armor, as that allowed for a bit more protection than fur
- Popped up to Dragonsreach to see if I could get rid of the extra copy of Balgruuf’s Greatsword in my inventory, but couldn’t get a prompt from Proventus to give it to him
- Mel tried to get Lydia on deck as follower but Lydia wouldn’t do it, because Farkas was still in active follow mode
- Dara and Mel both got everybody around them mad at them (more on this below); Dara reported not doing anything she knew of to piss off everybody in Dragonsreach, but they were in a hostile state nonetheless
- Mel, on the other hand, accidentally Shouted Unrelenting Force at Olfrid Battle-Born, which pissed him off at her
- And she totes deliberately killed both Heimskr and Nazeem–though that got retconned because she had to reset her game
- Dara also had big time zoomies in Dragonsreach, an issue which kept persisting for her as we kept playing
- Took a bit of a break so Dara could take care of a 3d print in progress, during which time I was curious about whether if one of us slept in a bed, would that advance time for the rest of us; Mel went into the Bannered Mare to test this, discovered that she could not in fact get the time pointer to advance
- She also triggered the conversation with Saadia which got the In My Time of Need quest started
- We decided to run the quest to get the Gildergreen restored next; Mel got the Blessings of Nature quest from Danica Pure-Spring; Dara also successfully triggered the quest, and I tried to get it, but wound up losing it for some reason
- So I followed the two of them out of Whiterun to head off to Orphan Rock to get Nettlebane
- We cut through Riverwood and went out the back way, then stumbled into that one little bandit camp up on a trail dead end, the one that always confuses me; took out the bandits
- Cut through Helgen briefly; Dara and Mel spotted a citizen just standing around like she still expected to see some execution action happening, but Mel couldn’t get her to do anything entertaining
- Reached Orphan Rock but Dara and Mel had to run that, it didn’t spawn for me; we got Nettlebane though and returned to Whiterun
- Reported back to the temple and got Maurice on as follower to go with us to the Eldergleam sanctuary
- Headed out on foot to go to Eastmarch, with not only Maurice but also Farkas following
- Near White River Watch found the random horse by a dead bandit encounter, which turned out to be hilarious, but also problematic for the stability of Dara’s game; she had to reboot
- Once we finally got that sorted out Mel cleared the Ritual Stone, and Dara shot at a skeleton hanging in mid-air, but it didn’t do anything
- Then we proceeded to Valtheim Towers and cleared the hell out of that; Dara and I both scored good bows; I got a Dwarven Bow of Soul Snares; Mel picked up a very sexy warhammer of Embers
- Also of important note about Valtheim Towers: Dara found Meridia’s Beacon in one of the chests there, but did not trigger Meridia’s “A new hand touches the beacon” line
- Fought a frostbite spider just before crossing the river over towards Cradlecrush Rock
- Lost track of Maurice and Farkas both as we climbed down the cliffside to the next road and made it into the hot springs area
- Fought a dragon right near the Eldergleam Sanctuary–though that turned into more weirdness! Mel and I killed it, but Dara lagged behind us, and couldn’t kill it properly
- So we went on ahead into the sanctuary
- I couldn’t proceed up to the Eldergleam with Mel because I didn’t have the quest, so I couldn’t get past the roots
- She took the “get the sap” route, which triggered angry spriggans
- Came back out of the sanctuary and once more returned to Whiterun
- Called a halt at that point until next time
Running Dustman’s Cairn
We picked up where we’d left off at Dustman’s Cairn, the site of Proving Honor, an early important quest in the Companions quest line. And it didn’t take long for us to start noting weirdness.
First major bit was the part of the dungeon where the player has to throw a lever which traps them in a side room behind a gate, and Farkas goes full on werewolf on the other side and rips through several of the Silver Hand. We were not at all sure exactly how this was going to play out with three Dragonborns on hand. Answer: we only needed one of us in the nook!
Dara volunteered to be the one to throw the lever, because curious Kitty. This left Mel and me on the other side of the gate, out in the open where Farkas fought the Silver Hand. But neither Mel nor I could actually participate in the fight. We were blocked from taking any action, including drawing weapons. So like Dara, we had to just witness the fight and Farkas’ transformation.
After that, the majority of the Silver Hand we ran into were in various weird states as well. For me in particular, very few of them actually properly moved like they were in combat. Mostly they just stood around while also throwing their combat lines. I suspect, but do not know for sure, that this was because Mel and/or Farkas might have killed them first? Same thing happened with the draugr further on in the dungeon.
This would be in keeping with what we saw later with the dragon we fought; more on this below.
Early on in the dungeon, I swiped fur armor off one of the fallen Silver Hand, just to see if I could stop registering as naked to Dara and Mel if I put on non-AE armor. Answer: yes!
I found this slightly disappointing. As I’ve written before, I really like the Leather Scout Armor, and I thought it looked pretty good on Luciriel. But what this tells me is, there’s a strong likelihood that STR just isn’t prepared to deal with the various types of armor available in the AE content, which could be why the STR team strongly recommends not using the AE when playing. We’ll be testing this out further when we find other types of AE armor.
We lost track of Farkas some ways in, which confused us. Mel reminded me he did have a spider phobia, so we thought perhaps he’d bailed because of the part in the dungeon taken over by frostbite spiders. I doublechecked the wiki, and confirmed he isn’t supposed to bail on you during Proving Honor; Dustman’s Cairn is in fact what causes the spider phobia he shows later. So Farkas vanishing was just additional weirdness on the part of the plugin.
When we reached the boss chamber, we were swarmed by draugr. Possibly even more than I remembered from when I’d run Dustman’s Cairn as Delga? I went back and doublechecked that post, and saw that I’d commented at the time that there were a whole helluva lot of draugr in that chamber. But whether we had even more than a single player would get is unclear. We were legit wondering if we had extra draugr spawn just because there were three of us, but maybe not? There were a whole lot of coffins in that room, and we got draugr out of all of them.
But I did trigger the Word Wall to get the Fire Breath Shout word,
Important safety tip: mammoths are very large and very cranky
On the way back to Whiterun, we went past Bleakwind Basin. Skyrim veterans may recall that Bleakwind Basin is generally populated by two giants and three mammoths.
Mel, however, was not about to avoid a challenge. She wanted to play with the mammoths and giants! And by “play with”, I mean, “attack”.
This did cause her to get stomped on pretty hard. But Kitty and Luciriel joined the fray–from a distance. It helped that I had a bow at that point and was able to start pelting the giants with arrows.
Mel also reported, though I was too far away to see it at the time, that a couple of Whiterun guards showed up. One of them was all “this ought to be good!” And let it also be noted, they were naked.
Which probably also explains why the guards didn’t survive the fight, either. My dudes, if you’re going to jump into battle with giants, you might at least want to keep your armor on? Just a thought.
We did eventually manage to take down the giants, but decided that maybe at least a little bit of discretion was the better part of valor. Three mammoths seemed a bit much to take on at once. So we returned to Whiterun!
Back in Whiterun: letters from Jarls, and pissing off the citizenry
I think I was the first one back in Whiterun this time, and I’m pretty sure this was when I had a courier intercept me with the usual “hey, I hear you’re badass, want to come be my thane?” letter from the Jarl of Falkreath.
My first action back in the city was to re-make a set of leather armor, since I’d determined that the Leather Scout Armor wasn’t going to show to Dara and Mel. And leather armor would give me better protection than fur.
Then I popped up to Dragonsreach, to see whether I could take my copy of Balgruuf’s Greatsword to the steward. But Proventus didn’t give me a prompt to do that. So this was clearly one of those instances of Mel having finished the quest, which synced the quest status over to me, but not the status of the leftover quest item.
In Dragonsreach, Dara tried to also get rid of her copy of the sword–but quickly ran into an entirely different problem, because everybody in Dragonsreach was mad at her. Nobody actually attacked her, they were sitting or standing around normally, but they kept delivering combat lines!
Then Lydia got pissy and started fighting someone else, which prompted Dara to jump in and try to defend Lydia. From which she took a pile of damage, so she went ahead and let them kill her. Which appeared to reset the hostility state of everyone.
Mel, on the other hand, absolutely had known reasons for why the citizenry and guards got mad at her. She accidentally Shouted at Olfrid Battle-Born, but, well, Unrelenting Force is an attack Shout! And she also deliberately killed both Heimskr and Nazeem. In her defense, Heimskr and Nazeem are both annoying in their very own special ways. 😉
That said: both of those kills got retconned, because Mel had to reset her game. So it’s likely we’ll still see both of them wandering around next time we play.
The weird aggression of the folks in Dragonsreach may not actually be Skyrim Together’s fault, though. I went googling for info about the issue and saw reports that both Irileth and Hrongar periodically have their aggression set to 1 for unknown reasons. It may or may not be triggered by the player having a zero-gold bounty? But if they happen to attack someone in Dragonsreach, that can set off everybody else. And if you’ve got Lydia, she will jump into the fray if you’re threatened.
At this point, too, we took a brief break so Dara could check on a 3D print she had in progress. During this, I was curious about what would happen if one of us tried to sleep in a bed. Mel went into the Bannered Mare to try this, and discovered that she could not, in fact, get time to advance while sleeping. This is in keeping with what I’d noticed trying to wait–I couldn’t wait, either!
And this is deliberate on the part of STR, their wiki explicitly says on its features page that you cannot progress the time by waiting or sleeping. So that’s good to know.
Restoring the Gildergreen
Mel wanted to do the quest to restore the Gildergreen next, so we proceeded to try that. Getting the quest started was bumpy, though. Mel was able to launch it, and in theory, that should have synced the quest over to both me and Dara, but that didn’t happen.
So I tried to launch the quest myself and was able to do so, by talking to Danica when she was out by the Gildergreen. For no reason I could discern, however, I also lost the quest, possibly due to my game locking up, which caused me to have to restart Skyrim and rejoin the server.
Dara was able to get the quest started as well. But since I didn’t have it, I just had to follow Dara and Mel off to Orphan Rock.
On the way, since we went out the back way through Riverwood, we hit that bandit camp up on the side trail that always confuses me every time I come through there solo. This time, since the bandits got pissy at our proximity, we went ahead and took them out.
Since I didn’t have the quest active, Orphan Rock’s witches and campsite didn’t spawn for me. Neither did the hagraven. So Mel did the heavy lifting on this, with Dara hanging back and taking potshots at opponents; I myself mostly just tried to be helpful by throwing heals on Dara when I could, since I had the Healing Hands spell. (I think we have spells synced across us? But not sure.)
When we got back to Whiterun to report in and get the next stage of the quest, we went ahead and picked up Maurice so we could head out to Eldergleam Sanctuary. We started on the route east past White River Watch, and when we got to the usual spawn point there, what we found was the “horse and dead bandit” random world encounter.
Naturally, Mel wanted to ride the horse! And then Dara wanted to ride the horse! Which was hilarious for me to watch, as the two of them did not fit well on the horse, and whichever one of them wasn’t in front got shoved backwards to hover in mid-air behind the horse’s ass. This persisted when I also tried mounting the horse.
Pro tip: you cannot fit three Dragonborns on the same horse. Not unless you’re specifically going for hilarity. 😉
This did, however, seem to get Dara’s game into a really weird state. Weird enough that she had to reboot her computer.
We tore right through Valtheim Towers, because none of us were in the mood to humor bandits demanding road tolls. Which resulted in all three of us scoring good weapons! Dara was going to give me one of her bows; she had one that did fire damage and another that did soul trap, and she put it into a dresser for me to get. But then I discovered a nearby chest none of us had gotten into yet, and I found a Dwarven Bow of Soul Snares in that. So I didn’t have to take Dara’s extra bow.
Also: Dara got Meridia’s Beacon out of one of the chests in the tower, but says it did not trigger Meridia’s “a new hand touches the beacon” line. So we’ll have to follow up on this next time we play. Either have Mel check the same chest and see if the beacon spawns for her, or see if Dara can put it into a chest or other container for her to pick up.
(It’ll depend on whether Dara actually spawned the Break of Dawn quest or not. If she did, she won’t be able to put the beacon back into a chest. So we’ll have to check this next time we play!)
Once we crossed the river and passed Cradlecrush Rock, we wound up losing track of Maurice and Farkas. We saw Maurice kind of fall down the cliffside we went down, in fact, so we were legit not sure if he’d accidentally gotten killed.
We fought a dragon right near Eldergleam Sanctuary, but that turned into more weirdness. Mel and I killed it, with Mel doing the close up fighting and me pelting it with arrows. Dara was lagging behind us, though. When she caught up, the dragon was still registering as alive for her, but it was also in a very weird state, stuck in a loop that made it look like it was doing the breast stroke in water. Dara kept shooting at it, but it was not showing a health bar, so she couldn’t tell if she was doing any actual damage!
Once we got into the sanctuary, Farkas and Maurice did catch up with us. But we discovered another consequence of my not having the quest active in my journal: namely, I could not accompany Mel past the roots of the tree when she went up to get the sap.
We also discovered that Mel hadn’t ever played the version of this quest where you let Maurice actually pray at the tree to get the sapling! I told her and Dara on the way in that in my experience there were no hostiles in the cave–but this also was because I hadn’t ever played the version of the quest where you get the sap instead of the sapling. I hadn’t realized before that playing the sap version of the quest actually triggers pissed off spriggans, which proceed to kill the two worshippers in the cavern. Okay then!
I’ve done my share of bitching about Maurice in prior playthrough posts on this blog. But after I rechecked the wiki and confirmed that yep, you get pissed off spriggans with the sap version of the quest because taking the sap actively pisses off Kynareth. Because you’ve harmed the tree by taking the sap, you see.
(Mind you, I gotta raise an eyebrow at this plot logic. Because okay sure, I can see Kynareth being angry at you for taking the sap. Sending spriggans after you makes sense. But why would the spriggans turn on the worshippers also hanging out at the sanctuary? They weren’t doing anything! Having the spriggans kill them seems unnecessarily cruel.
Also, if it actively pisses off Kynareth that you take the sap out of the tree, then why did the priestess of Kynareth ask you to do this in the first place? I feel like if a priest(ess) of a Divine asks you to take on a quest, it is very unfair of the quest to then have that Divine get pissy at you for doing what the priest(ess) asked for in the first place.
Not to mention it doesn’t say good things about Danica’s relationship with her chosen Divine, either! You could perhaps handwave this a bit by saying Danica had a lapse in judgement due to a bunch of her cycles being eaten by having to tend so many war victims, maybe? It would be a handwave, though!
All in all, knowing that this happens now with the sap version of the quest will make me rethink going down the route in future playthroughs.)
But at any rate, we got the sap and returned to Whiterun, to give it to Danica. And at that point Dara was tired after several hours of play, and also a little motion sick from recurring repros of the zoomies bug. This was a good breaking point to call a halt until next time, though, so we did!
We’re definitely going to have to follow up on the question of the beacon.
And we’re also going to have to figure out how to make Farkas stand down, because Dara and Mel both want to go to Riften and join the Thieves Guild. And we definitely do not want Farkas tromping along with us when we join the Guild and have to hit Goldenglow Estate. Sneaking is not one of Farkas’ strong suits. 😉
Do we have screenshots? Yes we do! Splitting this up into different galleries for mine, Dara’s, and Mel’s. Note that as I usually do with all my screenshots, I brightened a bunch of them up in Preview, just so that it’s easier to see all the details. Otherwise it’d be harder to see some of the weirdness with the horse, in particular.
First, here are mine!
Here are Dara’s. She got a lot of the shenanigans with the horse!
And also, we have bonus video! Dara got a video recorded in OBS of what she saw when she fought that dragon near the sanctuary!
Editing to add
- 11/25/2023: Restored missing galleries.