Kendis Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Kendis Escapes Helgen

New playthrough, who dis? This post officially kicks off my Survival Mode playthrough, starring Kendis the Redguard! In this session, I did the Helgen run, and just enough of Riverwood and Whiterun to get her to the point of getting the quest for Bleak Falls Barrow.

Play by play

  • Play date: 12/7/2022
  • Followed Hadvar out of Helgen this time
  • Got into a weird state in the room with the torturer and had to roll back from that, because Hadvar and the torturer got into a frozen state and wouldn’t proceed
  • But second time made it through okay
  • Made a point of nabbing food items, because as soon as I made it out of Helgen, I turned on Survival Mode
  • Immediately noticed temperature icons that came up on either side of the HUD, and indicators telling me when I was cold or warm or hungry
  • Took the Warrior stone at the Guardian Stones
  • Made it into Riverwood and got an alert that I was tired
  • Did the conversation with Alvor and got his request to go to Whiterun to warn the Jarl
  • Napped a little on one of the beds in Alvor’s house, then headed out to Whiterun
  • Killed one wolf on the way, and the damn thing gave me Rockjoint, stupid wolf
  • Got quite cold on the way to Whiterun as it started raining
  • Passed the Companions fighting the giant at Pelagia Farm, so stopped to deal with that
  • Got the pointer from Aela to go talk to Kodlak if I wanted to join their order
  • Khajiit were on site so I paused to warm up at their fire, and sold a few things to Ri’saad
  • Went over to get the guard to let me into the city
  • Brenuin commented on my being ill: “You look worse than I feel!”
  • Went to the Temple of Kynareth and prayed at the shrine, which cost me 100 gold because Survival Mode!
  • Then went up to Dragonsreach to talk to the Jarl; got Studded Imperial Armor from him
  • Talked to Farengar and got the quest to go to Bleak Falls Barrow
  • Stopped in Bannered Mare first to rent a room and get some sleep
  • Between that and buying some cooked food from Hulda, got back out of fatigued state and got my stamina back up
  • Saved there until next time


Very familiar with the start of Skyrim now, so I don’t really need to go into that in detail here!

What I will note is that I decided Kendis would follow Hadvar out, and now that I have a better idea of her backstory I have a bit of a better idea as to why. Reading up on Redguard lore on the wiki, I get the impression many Redguards are seriously fucking cranky about the Empire bailing on them. But this is also the same society that predominantly frowns upon using magic.

And Kendis is a young woman who’s discovered she does in fact have some magical skill, and she’s run off from home with the express intent of finding her way to the College of Winterhold. What this tells me about her is, she’s the kind of person who’s willing to go against her societal wisdom to find out the truth of something.

I suspect this also applies to her opinion of the Empire, or at least it did up to the point where she got captured and brought to Helgen. Logic suggests to me that if she learned about the College of Winterhold, she probably also heard at least some rumors of Skyrim’s civil war, and had at least a vague idea it was going on when she crossed the border.

She did not however expect to get caught up right in it. Yet here she is, captured and sent to Helgen, and having to think extremely fucking quickly about how to keep herself alive. So I think she followed Hadvar pretty much on instinct. Part of her hoping, perhaps, that the Empire isn’t as bad as a lot of her people claim, and hoping she can see something good in it. Seeing Hadvar saving a young boy during the tumult of Alduin’s attack contributed to that.

Getting through the keep with Hadvar had one unexpected bumpy bit. When I reached the torturer’s room, the exchange between Hadvar and the torturer locked up and wouldn’t proceed, so I never got Hadvar’s prompt to take his lockpicks and open the cage with the dead mage in it. So I wound up having to roll back from that to a previous autosave–fortunately not far, just to the point of getting into the keep. So I didn’t have to redo much.

And of course, once I got out of the Helgen sequence, I got to the point of activating Survival Mode!

Certain things about Survival Mode proceeded to reveal themelves.

One: having to care about temperature of the environment. Coming out of Helgen wasn’t a problem, but later on when I went to Whiterun, it was raining. And I got chilly pretty quickly, enough that it became necessary to stop and hang out with the Khajiit just so that I could warm up at their fire. And when I popped back into the game long enough to take a screenshot for this post, I saw that even in Whiterun properly, if it’s raining outside, you can get chilly as well.

So what I learn from this is, I need better armor soon. And I need easily accessible ways to warm up.

Two: Fatigue. I noticed coming into Riverwood that I got an alert about being tired, and that this put a dent into my Stamina. This situation didn’t really resolve itself until I got to Whiterun and slept in a bed at the inn there, with time enough to get in a proper sleep.

Lesson from that: get in the habit of sleeping even more than I have in prior playthroughs. No going for days on end game-time without getting some rest.

Three: Disease. This is apparently going to be more of a goddamn problem. That wolf I fought on the way to Whiterun gave me frigging Rockjoint. And getting that cured required me to blow 100 gold at the Temple of Kynareth, because I hadn’t had time to get any Cure Disease potions yet.

Four: My Health doesn’t replenish automatically in this mode.

Five: Hunger. I got to the point of being Famished by the time I made it to the Bannered Mare, and only by buying several cooked items from Hulda did I get to a point of feeling Satisfied.

On the way into Whiterun, I did see the initial encounter with the Companions killing the giant. And I had a sudden “hmm this character might actually fit the Companions” reaction, which was supported further once I read up about Redguard lore. Kendis is coming out of a very martial culture, so even if she’s in Skyrim to begin with to try to learn about magic, it’d make sense for her to be drawn to an order of warriors. So now I have the quest prompt to go talk to Kodlak. I will need to think about if I want to proceed with this.

And unlike with prior playthroughs, I didn’t immediately head back to Riverwood to take on the Bleak Falls Barrow quest. Because I know that Bleak Falls Barrow is up on a snowy peak–so this is going to take some planning.

Next time

Preparing for Bleak Falls Barrow is going to be my next immediate goal. I need to make some camping supplies, and take stock of what all I’m carrying to see how much food and ammunition I need. And I’m going to need a fishing pole.

So I think a bit of judicious inventory care is next called for–and also, perhaps, doing some of the favor quests in Whiterun just to start building up a stock of money to spend on supplies!


Editing to add

  • 11/25/2023: 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.