Elder Scrolls Online,  Gyllerah Playthrough

In Which Gyllerah Meets a Hooded Figure and All Oblivion Breaks Loose

Double session post, in which my primary action is fighting a harrowstorm in Western Skyrim–and then finally getting the main quest of the game underway, with Paul and I having an encounter with a certain Hooded Figure. And if Gyllerah thought her existence was weird up until now, welp, it just got a lot weirder!

Play by play

  • Play dates: 12/1/-12/2/2022
  • Session numbers in this run: 58-59

Thursday’s play

  • Ran writs; had materials for four of them, but had to get food and ebony and kresh fiber from the Guild Bank; finished everything but Alchemy
  • Boinged to Rivenspire to do an alchemy survey
  • Rivenspire looked very bleak and forbidding! Located only a small number of places, and a few wayshrines
  • Alchemy locale was on the eastern half of the map just south of a body of water; had to fight a couple of werewolves there, who saw me pass from nearby
  • Got all the ingredients and then boinged back to Alinor to finish the writ
  • Found five PCs in identical armor near the crafting plaza looking like they were doing a dance routine! Which was kind of cool
  • Did a bit of inventory management
  • Popped back to Western Skyrim to try to disrupt a harrowstorm; found one at the Hailstone Valley Ritual Site
  • That was a hard fight! Many higher tier monsters and I died half a dozen times; my armor took a severe beating
  • A few other players finally showed up; grouped up with them, which helped turn the tide
  • Kept running circuits around the fight throwing heals, ults, and synergy combos as often as possible
  • Finally the PCs won! And we got the loot!
  • Boinged back to Alinor to repair my gear and do more inventory management
  • Parked in room and logged off for the night

Friday’s play

  • Did some initial survey work
  • Ran three surveys for locations I’d already visited:
    • Western Skyrim for jewelry survey near the Hunter’s House
    • Vvardenfell for jewelry survey near Gnisis Wayshrine
    • Craglorn for blacksmith survey near the Defunct Nirncrux Mine; got mix of ebony and dwarven ore off of that one
  • Boinged down to Greenshade to see if I could find a way into Reaper’s March
  • Answer: yes, but had to go from Greenshade into Malabal Tor, and from there into Reaper’s March
  • Didn’t make it all the way to the site of the survey I was looking for, but did at least see a bit of Reaper’s March
  • At that point Paul and I decided to sync up for joint RP
  • Went to Artaeum to check in with Oriandra; we told her Valsirenn needed her to organize a council in Alinor to try to form an alliance for the protection of the Crystal Tower
  • Spoke with Sotha Sil to see if we could get him to go to the council; he declined, on the general grounds of it being inadvisable for him to involve himself in politics outside Morrowind
  • We showed up for the council, and found the head of the Sapiarchs being pissy about letting the Psijics participate in the protection of the tower–since the Ritemaster of the Psijics had led to its endangerment in the first place
  • We tried to talk her down but she was pissy about why she should listen to us, too
  • Razum-dar pulled a trio of surprise witnesses: Kinlady Avinisse, Justiciar Hyircil, and Alchemy, all of whom said ‘yep this adventurer sure did save our asses’
  • Which convinced Sapiarch Larnatille that we weren’t bullshitting her and we really did want to protect Summerset; she agreed to let the Mages Guild and the Divine Prosecution join the Sapiarchs in protecting the tower, but still didn’t want the Psijics involved
  • Conclusion of the plot was talking to Razum-dar, who we found hanging out on the Proxy Queen’s throne; she was not thrilled about this, or about Raz flirting with her, LOLOLOLOL
  • Epilogue: overheard conversation between a couple of the guards about a mysterious book appearing upstairs; went up to read that, and oh hey final words from Darien! Thank you, Golden Boy, I miss you and your shoulders too <3
  • After that, it was time to finally go talk to the Hooded Figure
  • Paul had spotted her in Daggerfall since he has an inn room in Daggerfall now, so he wayshrined over there and I used group functionality to teleport to him and get Daggerfall onto my map
  • We found the Hooded Figure and both of us talked to her
  • She pointed us at the Benefactor; however, at this point things got weird; Paul’s quest marker sent him to Patheirry House, but mine was pointing at the ship the Interim Suitor
  • Tried to follow Paul into Patheirry house but the Benefactor didn’t spawn for me there
  • Quest marker on the ship was initially very confusing to me, I thought it wanted me to return to Vukhel Guard, and then back to Daggerfall
  • Cync finally clued me in that I needed to be on the ship but below decks, the Benefactor would be tied up in a cabin, so I found him and that finally let me proceed
  • And OHNOEZ I AM DED, stupid Worm Cult
  • Glimpses of Mannimarco in the cutscene of my being sacrificed
  • Woke up in Coldharbour in a cell, with no sign of Paul
  • Why HELLO THERE Lyris Titanborn
  • Stunned to see I still actually had all my gear? So apparently when I reincorporated myself as the Vestige, that included reincorporating everything I was carrying too 😉
  • Followed Lyris out through the place to break out
  • Paul and I were very confused that we didn’t both spawn in the same place in Coldharbour though, but I did finally catch up with him partway through the escape, so we discovered that at least part of this plot can be played while grouped
  • Met Caldwell and got the clue from him as to where to find the Prophet
  • Helped Lyris break out the Prophet, but at the cost of Lyris trading places with him in his cell
  • The Prophet summoned me at a skyshard with an in-game explanation for why those are important: i.e., they allow the Vestige to maintain a physical body
  • The Prophet helped us escape via a Dark Anchor that let us return to Tamriel
  • Woke up in Khenarthi’s Roost
  • Got projection from the Prophet who landed in a different place
  • Finally leveled up to 38
  • Not clear what was supposed to happen next, no obvious sign of a quest prompt; wiki says the Prophet is supposed to appear to you once you reach a safe spot like a settlement
  • Paul wanted to set main plot action aside for a bit and run a delve, so we decided to go to Northern Elsweyr; he boinged there and I once again used group UI to teleport to him
  • Ran the delve called the Tangle
  • Rescued a Khajiit worshipper of Azurah who needed us to get his cage key and his amulet of Azurah back
  • Killed the boss of the delve, Zayreba Sharpclaw
  • Paul showed me a very cool aqueduct and we spent a little time trying to see if we could find a way to get up on top of it, but no luck
  • Killed a bunch of lions and other big cats who kept coming after me
  • Made it to Rimmen and Paul showed me the main areas of that too, which was cool
  • Finally returned to Alinor to work on level 38 armor
  • Spent the skill points i had banked up—one from finding skyshards, but two more from level ups, I don’t think I took the point from hitting level 37?
  • Dropped all three points on various crafting things
  • Worked on armor for a while and logged off for the night

Thursday commentary

My session on Thursday was my first look at Rivenspire. I kind of liked it! I was amused that the interstitial I saw loading mentioned how many people thought the land was forbidding, and the interstitial wasn’t wrong. It was definitely bleak and forbidding terrain, the kind where Gothic novels should be set. Which makes me wonder, in a land where novels do actually exist, if anyone’s come up with the Tamriel equivalent of Gothics. 😉

Second item of note: last several days of play in Alinor, I’ve seen a group of PCs, all apparently of the same guild, doing a thing where they all have on the exact same outfits and gather in formation near the crafting plaza. It certainly looks distinctive though it does put a bit of a performance drag on me when I go through there!

Then I was back off to Western Skyrim, to try to hunt down a harrowstorm to disrupt. I did find one. But holy crap that was a hard fight. In no small part because I caught the harrowstorm while it was beginning, and for a piece of it, I was the only player there. It turned out to be a damned good thing I was swimming in soul gems, because I burned through half a dozen of them during this battle.

Eventually some other players showed up, and I grouped up with them, which helped turn the tide. Having others on hand also let me have the freedom to run circuits around the fight, throwing heals as fast as I could. I also kept hitting my Y and B buttons for synergy combos when prompted.

Something else I want to note here is that the experience of running that harrowstorm actually kind of pushed the boundary of what I’m able to parse in a huge battle. Overwatch is well beloved in this house, but one of the reasons I haven’t taken up playing is that whenever I watch Dara in full on melee mode in Overwatch, I have a hard time parsing all the action on the screen.

I ran into something of the same problem with this harrowstorm. There were so many hostiles, and at least for the first stretch of the battle not enough players to keep up with them, that I was extremely hard pressed to keep up with what was going on. I found it draining, really, and not entirely fun. And being walloped to death six different times by the hostiles didn’t help matters much, either.

It did help some when the other players showed up, and I was in a better position to take a step back and play support, throwing heals around. What this tells me about my play style is that while I very much do like getting into the thick of things in a smaller battle and beating something to death with my sword, if it’s a situation where there are a bunch of hostiles, I feel much better playing support.

And I think I really kind of knew this from my last couple runs in Skyrim, too, when I’ve had the difficulty dialed up and have had to let my followers and/or dremora kill things for me, while I back off and snipe things from afar.

Epilogue to the Summerset plot

This was a very low-key epilogue to the Summerset plot, which we went ahead and did just for closure, and the XP bump. Got an opportunity for final conversation with both Oriandra and Sotha Sil, and the latter in particular was interesting, just to hear Sotha Sil explicitly refuse to involve himself in politics outside Morrowind.

But as Paul and I were the PCs, we did involve ourselves in the politics! Which required us to go jump in on the council going on in Alinor.

I noticed with interest that a couple of Psijic NPCs were hanging out outside the palace, which caused other nearby NPCs to comment with wonder about their presence.

And inside the council itself, the main issue to solve was just convincing Sapiarch Larnatille to accept assistance in protecting the Crystal Tower from further interference. She was highly resistant to this mostly on the grounds of not wanting the Psijics anywhere near the tower, given that the late Ritemaster Iachesis was the one responsible for endangering the tower in the first place. And, well, can’t exactly fault her for that line of reasoning.

As the PCs, it fell to Paul and me to convince Larnatille to accept outside help. She was highly resistant to listening to anything we had to say, either, until Razum-dar pulled in some surprise witnesses to attest to our character: namely, Kinlady Avinisse (from the Shimmerene portions of the overall plot), Justiciar Hyircil (from the Cey-Tarn Keep plot), and Alchemy (from Rellenthil). All of whom basically said “yep, this adventurer sure did save our asses!”

Kind of nice to actually see Kinlady Avinisse stepping up to speak in our support. <3 Apparently, she has enough character to publicly admit to being wrong. Good for her.

This all convinced Larnatille that we weren’t bullshitting her, and made her willing to at least accept help from the Mages Guild and the Divine Prosecution–but not the Psijics. Which Valsirenn, there as the new Interim Ritemaster, was actually kind of fine with.

And we ended the encounter with some final words with Raz, who we found actually lounging on the Proxy Queen’s throne. And flirting with the Proxy Queen. She was not amused by either of these things. HA.

One last thing, though, was the mysterious book appearing out of nowhere on a chair up the stairs! I ran up to check this out, and found what I’d been warned to expect: a book with a message from Darien Gautier. Who warned about not trusting Daedric Princes, and who missed me. Awww, thank you, Golden Boy, I miss you and your shoulders too. <3

And now, finally, the Main Quest

Getting it on the record that Paul and I finally started the game’s main quest with me at level 38 and Paul at 40. Which is arguably way too late to really run that quest, really! Partly for reasons of it making the first part of the quest take a lot less time than we thought it would, and partly because of what I’ve said before about the risk of playing things out of order.

We also discovered some weirdness just getting it going. Because the Hooded Figure can spawn in any of the capital cities of the alliances, and Paul, who purchased an inn room in Daggerfall, spotted her there. So we tried going there, because Paul said he knew exactly where she was.

She had actually moved a little, but we did find her and talk to her. But here’s where the weirdness comes in. Paul’s quest marker for seeing the Benefactor directed him to Patheirry House, but mine wanted me to go to a boat. I tried to follow Paul into Patheirry House, but saw absolutely nothing unusual in there.

(The wiki says Patheirry House might actually be spelled wrong in the game, given that it’s apparently owned by someone whose last name is Pathierry. I’m going to have to doublecheck how it was spelled next time I log in. For now, I’ll go with the spelling the wiki uses.)

Which was weird thing number one. Cync says that since we’re both Aldmeri Dominion characters (by virtue of my being an Altmer and Paul’s being a Khajiit), we should both have been directed to Vukhel Guard. But Paul wasn’t, and Cync didn’t know why. My only guess here was that Paul might have confused things somehow by buying an inn room in Daggerfall? Maybe that made him consider him local to that area now?

Weird thing number two: my quest marker confused the hell out of me. Because when I went to the boat in Daggerfall and had it take me to Vukhel Guard, the quest marker was super confusing and made it look like I had to go back to Daggerfall. I tried going back and forth a couple of times, and even restarting the game, but couldn’t resolve this problem. Cync was able to help me with this, though, by clarifying that I did need to be on that boat in Vukhel Guard–but below decks. The Benefactor was in one of the cabins.

This was super confusing placement of the quest marker, I feel. 😛

But once I finally got that dealt with and made it to the Benefactor, that kicked in the thing I was expecting: being ambushed by the Worm Cult.

By which I mean: OHNOEZ I DIED AND AM DED.

Interesting plot question for me here: were the Hooded Figure and the Benefactor both in on the setup? Because I should think that if the Benefactor actually legit was working on behalf of the Worm Cult, they wouldn’t have tied him up? Why not just cut straight to knocking me out the moment I come in through the door?

Or did the Benefactor have some other reason to want to talk to me?

Heh, not that the game ever gives the player a reason to find out. Because then the cutscene happened, and yikes that was certainly intense. And I died and was dead. At the hands of fucking Mannimarco.

Which, y’all may recall, is a name Gyllerah now has reason to recognize just because of her visiting the Traitor’s Vault on Artaeum. So I figure one of the last thoughts of her living existence was Oh shit I know that face why do I know that face

Then I was in Coldharbour, and had to fight my way out again with the help of Lyris Titanborn. I’d been looking forward to meeting her, since I’d found info about her on the wiki quite some time ago, even before beginning to play ESO. I really like Lyris, now that I’ve met her. She’s awesome. 😀

Still though, this was weird thing number three for me and Paul, because I was with him for only part of this quest. When I landed in Coldharbour I was still grouped up with him, but at least for the first few rooms he was ahead of me. I did eventually catch up with him though, and we were able to get more or less out of the place together.

We met Caldwell, who was about as mad as expected, but at least he was awfully cheerful and kind of a nice antidote to the overall gloom of the place.

We also met the Prophet, who hit us up with some critical exposition: what the Dark Anchors are, and why it’s important for the Vestige to use skyshards. (Which I hadn’t known before! Apparently the skyshards are supposedly to help the Vestige maintain an actual physical body, built out of the very essence of Nirn.) And who we broke out of prison by Lyris sacrificing herself to take his place.

And the whole thing took way less time than Paul and I both expected. We just had to kill a few dremora, and one bigger bone monster at the end, before jumping through a Dark Anchor to return to Tamriel.

That landed us in Khenarthi’s Roost. And at this point, I think I bumped into another bit of weirdness from playing things out of order. According to the wiki, Razum-dar should have met me once I came out of the little tower in Khenarthi’s Roost, but I didn’t see him there. I don’t know if this was because I’ve already met Raz via the Summerset plot?

And at this point, too, Paul and I both were WELP THAT SURE IS A THING THAT HAPPENED, and we weren’t sure what to do next, because we had no obvious quest marker or NPC showing up to guide us in what should happen next.

I learned later from Cync and also from the wiki that we’d need to wait for the Prophet to ping us once we showed up in a safe place. For our purposes as Aldmeri Dominion characters, that meant setting foot in Vukhel Guard.

For now though Paul wanted to take a break from main quest things, and we decided to go run a delve instead. I feel like this might be explained narrative-wise by Gyllerah and K’sragi being freaked out by what just happened, and K’sragi retreating to home territory, with Gyllerah coming with him because where the hell else is she going to go?

Meta commentary about the Main Quest

And now, a digression, in which I want to note that it’s pretty bold of Elder Scrolls Online’s Main Quest to start off by killing you.

On the other hand, I also feel like it has less narrative weight than it should, because even though you have in theory been killed, it has no obvious impact upon your ability to function in the game. I was legitimately surprised that I landed in Coldharbour with all of my gear.

I guess if you run this as a brand new player, you don’t have any gear, which would of course make running Coldharbour a lot more difficult! Running it at level 38 definitely seems like an edge case, though. And I suppose that they didn’t want to piss off players by destroying all their stuff because of death?

But I could even see a way around that: have your stuff confiscated by the Worm Cult, because hey, if you’re running the quest at level 38, you’ve had some time to amass some useful stuff, right? So I could easily see them wanting to sell it. So you could do a little mini-quest involving tracking down your stuff before they have a chance to sell it off. Or, since the game goes out of its way to set you up with Razum-dar, I’m also thinking he could actually come across the stuff, and put two and two together, and arrange to acquire it himself.

Which even makes narrative sense in Gyllerah’s specific case. I’ve already met Raz. So it would make sense for him to recognize my gear, go “oh shit this is bad”, and arrange to sneakily buy it off the Worm Cult or even fight them to get it back, while he attempts to find me.

Still though, I have to handwave that. There’s no obvious impact in the game from having been sacrificed to the Worm Cult, from what I can see. It occurs to me that there is little functional difference between this and, say, being killed in the middle of a fight with a boss monster; you resurrect from that, too.

But there is a difference, and an important one. Namely, that “you get killed during a fight with a boss monster” is not inherently part of the game’s narrative structure. And you resurrect yourself with a soul gem, no big deal.

But “You get sacrificed to Molag Bal by Mannimarco and the Worm Cult” is part of the game’s narrative structure. It is, in fact, a core component of the game’s narrative structure. It’s the thing that kicks off the entire Main Quest.

So it was not exactly satisfying to me that it seemed to have absolutely no impact upon my ability to function in the game, except now apparently I don’t have my original physical body, and also I have no soul?

Which also kind of doesn’t make sense. I thought the whole point of the player being sacrificed to Molag Bal was that he could grab your soul and yank it into Coldharbour for his eternal amusement. So what part of me woke up in Coldharbour and managed to reconstitute a working body, if not some fragment of my soul? Is this a question of my will just being that damned powerful that it refused to die? And it manifested echoes of every single thing I was carrying with me when I was killed?

Or is this a question of philosophy a bit too deep for this game, and I should really just relax and roll with it?

Yeah, I guess I better roll with it. 😉

Also, now that I’ve actually started the main quest, I’ve learned something else about my preferences for ESO: this game is a lot more interesting to me when I am running an actual plot, particularly a plot with actual action in it. I like the crafting and writs system. And I like the opportunities to explore the world for the survey materials–but really, that’s in service of crafting and writs, and it’s gotten me into this mode where I’m less inclined to talk to NPCs because I just want to find the blacksmith survey spot.

Same deal with the antiquities. I’ve liked playing with those so far but again, if I’m focused on a goal of finding an antiquity, some NPC coming up to talk to me hits me as an annoyance rather than as an RP opportunity.

Which is a mode I need to break myself out of. Because the plots are the interesting things to me. So I’m pleased to have the main quest active now, because that means I can intersperse a healthy dose of action in between my writ running.

And apparently a lot of the main quest has to be run solo, from what I’m seeing on the wiki. So Paul and I will be able to run this at our own individual paces.

Postlude in Elsweyr

So yeah, neither Paul nor I was quite ready to finish playing after the jaunt through Coldharbour. But we were also kind of done with main quest stuff at that moment, so we elected to just go run a nice relaxing delve instead.

Paul suggested we go to Northern Elsweyr, and that sounded great to me, since I hadn’t actually seen it yet. So he boinged over there via wayshrine, and I followed him over via group teleport.

We traversed enough of Northern Elsweyr that I got to see it transition from jungle to desert terrain, which I really appreciated. And I very much liked that it looked like a different kind of desert than the Alik’r Desert, too, contributing to the wealth of different terrain types represented all over the game.

(I need to see if I can find a map that really calls out the various terrain types all over Tamriel. I’m beginning to develop a dim sense of it, but I’d really like to see it laid out in a map. I’m curious as to whether the location of the various terrain types makes geographical sense.)

We ran a delve called the Tangle, which was pretty easy as delves go. The delve quest was helping a captive Khajiit who was an acolyte of Azurah break out, and all we had to do for him was find his cage key and his missing amulet.

And then we played around a while with a nifty aqueduct, trying to see if we could find a way to get up onto the top of it. We didn’t, but it was fun trying!

Lastly, we went to Rimmen so Paul could show me around the place.

And I feel like this was possibly the point where the back of Gyllerah’s mind started going “hey, I know something about this. This looks familiar.”

Given that I’m imagining her being quite a bit freaked out over frigging dying on top of being amnesiac, I figure any little scrap of familarity was probably a welcome boon. I don’t think she quite knows why it looked familiar yet. But it did. I think she’s been there before.

I need to see more of Elsweyr, I think, before I commit to something like Gyllerah’s first house being in Rimmen vs. some other Elsweyr city.

Next time

Paul and I discovered that most of the Main Quest appears to be something you have to run solo. So I actually ran a couple more stages of it, visiting the Prophet at the Harborage, and then breaking Lyris out of Coldharbour. More on this in the next post!

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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.

2 Comments

  • Erin Schram

    The pond in your Reaper’s March Scenery Shot is just west of the village of Greenhill (https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Online:Greenhill) and east of the Greenspeaker’s Grove crafting site.

    If Razum-dar was not at Eagle’s Strand in Khenarthi’s Roost, then he might be in Mistral, either at the south bridge or the The Boatman’s Tail tavern.

    In Elsweyr, fighting a dragon is as tough as a harrowstorm, but it does have only one target, the dragon, expect when the dragon summons some atronach minions.

    As for your Meta Commentary about the merit of locking away the gear of a well-equipped character at the beginning of the Main Quest, my Meta Commentary is that the developers had to plan around players playing two kinds of games in ESO. Sometime the characters follow quests and live the life of the fictional protagonist. Other times the characters group up with their real-life friends for group activities that have nothing to do with the protagonist’s life. I think that a lot of mechanics, such as the wayshrines, unique to ESO in the Elder Scrolls Series are to make grouping up with friends at a moment’s notice easy. ZOS wants the players to be perfectly able to temporarily “Travel to Player” for an activity with friends despite their current status on a quest. And having gear locked away would interfere with that. They could invent a mechanism where the gear is missing in Coldharbour and present outside Coldharbour, but they cobbled together the Hooded Figure quest to accommodate the variant tutorials that came with the chapters and probably did not have the time to meddle with the old Coldharbour programming.

    As for how Cadwell obtained his musical instrument, Molag Bal has been pulling small pieces of Tamriel into Coldharbour for millennia. Cadwell has a collection of items in his home, Cadwell’s Hovel, which Gyllerah will see eventually.

    • Angela Korra'ti

      Ah, thanks for reminding me where the Reaper’s March shot was. 🙂

      I did actually find Raz before you left this comment, yes. I ran more plot last night, and Mistral was in fact where I found him. I used the “To My Friend From the Beach” note that I found on Khenarthi’s Roost to activate the quests there.

      Paul says he’s run into a dragon event in Elsweyr, yeah, and that it was way above his pay grade for ability to run. And that those dragons are harder to kill than the ones in Skyrim. :O

      Re: your commentary about letting the player continue to have gear after going through Coldharbour–eh, maybe? But that assumes the player is intending to spend a lot of time grouping up with others.

      I think a more relevant and simpler consideration here might just be, not pissing off players who’ve worked a lot to make good gear and blowing it away on them. Particularly if, like Paul and me, you come into the Main Quest when you’re a mid to upper tier level character. You spend a lot of time amassing good gear, choosing the sets you want to wear, setting colors and styles to your satisfaction, enchanting it the way you want… and then the game blows it away on you?

      Yeah, you’d have grounds to be pissed. Because the game would have stomped all over the hours you spent building out that gear.

      It’s not quite as satisfying to me narrative-wise as the “live the fictional life of my character” type of gamer. But I can definitely see why they’d want to avoid pissing off players by getting rid of their gear as part of the “you get sacrificed and killed” thing here. So I’m kind of okay with just needing to handwave a narrative explanation, just because this IS an MMO and they need to not piss off the players.