Harrowhark Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Harrowhark Gains a Thaneship and a Khajiit Follower

Double session post! Main action here: achieving the thaneship in Falkreath; reaching Haemar’s Shame and getting the directive to fetch the Rueful Axe; taking out the bandits at Treva’s Watch; buying the land for Lakeview Manor, and beginning its building; fetching the Rueful Axe from Rimerock Burrow, and then delivering it to Clavicus Vile to get him to take Barbas back; acquiring the sword Dawnfang and Duskfang from the depths of the Ratway; getting Grelod the Kind arrested for abusing her charges; and last but not least, acquiring a Khajiit companion with extremely odd ideas about why he needed to voluntarily commit himself to the Riften jail.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 12/28, 12/30/2022
  • Session numbers in this run: 14-15

Wednesday’s play

  • Installed some mod patches for Inigo with anticipation of getting him as a follower soon
  • Also installed alternate color textures for the Hedge Mage Armor
  • Picked up at Hendraheim; did some smithing to raise the skill a bit and use up materials
  • Rode out from Hendraheim towards Half-Moon Mill
  • Killed en route: sabre cat
  • Reached the mill and found the hidden notes about Golden and Dark smithing
  • Rode onward from there for Falkreath; stayed at the inn and slept the night–even though, well, not vampire hours, Harrow’s trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy here 😉
  • Sold a bunch of crafted things to Lod; bought assorted materials off of him
  • Bought a bunch of ingredients from Zaria even though she didn’t have bleeding crown
  • Derped around Falkreath a little until I finally found Thadgeir and got him to give me the ashes quest
  • So I could finish the third of three favors, report back to Siddgeir, and make with the thaneship–because Harrow is feeling territorial and Falkreath is hers, thank you very much
  • Thaneship achieved, but will have to come back later to buy Lakeview
  • Continued on with intent to reach Barbas at Haemar’s Shame; this took several tries!
  • Had two different crashes, one of which was going into Haemar’s Shame, augh
  • Multiple ambushes by zombies that were tough to kill, and it was daylight so I was nerfed for magicka 😛
  • Finally diverted to Riverwood to sell all the bandit loot I’d collected, both from the tower bandits and also from two bandits that a bear had killed
  • Sold a bunch of stuff to Lucan; bought a couple of spellbooks off of him, so I could try out Lucien’s training system
  • First attempt to teach him Lesser Ward got retconned by zombie ambush, but on the second attempt I taught him Oakflesh, and that worked well
  • Last run to Helgen finally had no zombies, just a bandit who warned us off and who I think might have been fighting a conjurer? Thought I saw a frost atronach from afar
  • Ignored the bandit and rode over to skirt around Helgen’s wall
  • Finally made it to Haemar’s Shame and ran the place
  • Snarfed vampire armor off several vampires to try later
  • No issues running the place with two followers
  • Made it to the last chamber and sniped a couple of vamps while Barbas was attacking them
  • Had convo with Vile and got directive to go get the Rueful Axe
  • Also finally learned exactly where the back way out of Haemar’s shame leads to, just a short walk away from the front entrance, which was a damned good thing because I needed to find my horse
  • Saved there for the night

Friday’s play

  • Picked up just outside Haemar’s Shame
  • Headed next to Treva’s Watch to take out the bandit leader there
  • But first stopped at Alchemist’s Shack since i hadn’t marked the place for Harrow’s map yet
  • Fed carrot to Thistle and got spell to teleport
  • Killed a few critters in route, including trolls
  • Reached Treva’s Watch and talked to the group camped outside; got mission to clear the place for them and open the gate to let them in
  • My large group alerted the exterior bandits, so we had a few exchanges of fire before I finally went in through the back ‘secret’ entrance
  • Proceeded to mow through the place, even though I was overloaded pretty much the whole time
  • Found a spellbook of Bound Sword, why hello useful spell to teach Lucien
  • Took out both bandit chiefs, cleared boss chest
  • Got Stalleo’s payment for our assistance–which was, notably, a spellbook of Spectral Arrow!
  • Found Tormod not too far away, mounted up and boinged to Riften by fast travel
  • Did some smelting and smithing at Balimund’s forge to break down some of the items I didn’t need
  • Waited a few hours till daylight (ow) and sold a bunch of things to Balimund and Bersi
  • Collected the bandit bounty from Anuriel
  • Boinged off to Falkreath and bought the land for Lakeview from Nenya
  • Rode over to claim the place and built Small House structure
  • Little bit of excitement with nearby wolf and bear, and I think the necromancer at nearby ritual site? I wasn’t directly involved in the fight but I think I heard said necromancer yelling
  • Built things until I ran out of iron on me
  • Fast traveled up to Dragon Bridge so we could go to Rimerock Burrow for the Rueful Axe
  • Killed en route: snow bear, ice wraith, ice wolf
  • Reached Rimerock Burrow, and took out Sebastian Lort and his flame atronach; got the axe
  • Boinged down to Haemar’s Shame and dropped it off with Vile, and made him take Barbas back; got the Masque
  • Came back out and boinged over to Goldenhills; planted crops there to move that plot along a bit (still need a steward for this place)
  • Boinged to Hendraheim; fought a cave bear as soon as we arrived
  • Got elytra nymph unstuck since it was sort of wedged in by the forge
  • Got all my materials to shift them over to Lakeview for building
  • Boinged to Half-Moon Mill
  • Bought logs from Hern—and it was Hern, not his wife Hert, which surprised me
  • Boinged back to finish up Small House building and added a few things inside; stashed materials in chest
  • Boinged to Whiterun and sold a bunch of things to Ulfberth and Belethor to make enough money for more lumber
  • Checked but Arcadia did not have any bleeding crown, damn
  • Boinged back to the mill to buy a bunch more lumber–and LOL, I could enter the house and buy lumber from Hern at stupid-o’clock, why hello fellow vampire, pleasure doing business with you, your secret is safe with me
  • Boinged back to Lakeview and built out the Main House structure
  • Built beds for upstairs and built myself a coffin downstairs just to test that out, and ah yes got the bonus for sleeping in it, good to know
  • Boinged to Rorikstead to buy Hilda the goat, which did not unfortunately get Thistle to teleport to me correctly; left Hilda parked at the farm
  • Bonged to Alchemist’s Shack and found Thistle; got bunny actively following me because bunny is best pet
  • Boinged back to Riften, this time to finish off assorted action there
  • Went into the Ratway and ran A Soul Divided quest to get Dawnfang and Duskfang
  • Killed once by the ghost in the west chamber; thrown back to beginning of the Guardian Vault, so not too far
  • Second time through, was successful and got the sword
  • Found the skeever cage and the pickpocket with the key (but forgot to actually free Skritch, will have to do so later)
  • Went up to see if I could get Grelod the Kind arrested; answer: YES! That was satisfying 😉
  • Grelod did not come along quietly and the guard had to kill her; the kids were very pleased by this
  • Went over to the jail to see about getting Inigo as my follower; was able to just persuade my way right in, because LOL Riften guards
  • LOLOLOL Inigo’s kind of awesome? Apparently was convinced he shot me and reported to the jail on purpose, and even paid the guards to let him have a cell
  • Convinced Inigo to pay his “debt” by coming along with me as a follower
  • Gave him all the Blades armor out of the Guardian Vault since he didn’t have any armor on and the iron in his chest was ass; he had an ebony bow and sword and arrows though!
  • Saw some great opening banter between Lucien and Inigo, and Lydia and Inigo as well
  • Boinged back to Lakeview to build more things
  • Lydia immediately volunteered to be stewar, so I let her just so I could have access to buying more logs without having to go to a mill; did in fact buy more logs and built out more of the house
  • Also improved my armor–and determined that the vampire armor I swiped out of Haemar’s Shame all looks the same due to Practical Female Armors, not showing colors correctly, damn
  • Oh well, happy to stick with Hedge Mage for now!
  • Noticed Lyds had several repetitions of a line to me about “up for a little hunting?” Was this a leftover from an attempt of my housecarl to go out hunting with me? Dunno!
  • Saved at Lakeview until next time

Mod adjustments

I’m probably playing with fire by making mod adjustments several sessions into my playthrough, but I belatedly discovered several patches for Inigo that seemed fairly critical. And since I hadn’t picked up Inigo yet as a follower, it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and install them.

A couple of these patches were specifically involved with AE content, and the other two were in regards to Inigo riding horses, and interacting with Lydia.

While I was at it, I also pulled down the color texture alternate files for the Hedge Mage Armor, though those have to be manually installed. I really like the overall style of the armor, but the monochrome darkness was starting to bug me a little. So I pulled down the alternate color files, and plunked in the ones for the red hood and trousers, and the black torso part of the armor. Which, overall, seemed to work well on Harrow.

Since I’m running this playthrough both on the Steam Deck and in my Win11 VM, any mod adjustments I have to do need to be applied to both platforms. Updating mods on the Deck has become slightly less onerous now that I’ve learned about an app called AnyDesk, which lets me initiate a connection from my computer straight to the Deck. It’s a lot easier to install mods in the Deck’s Desktop mode if I can use my full keyboard and trackpad to maniuplate files.

It’s still not as easy as I’d like, just because steamtinkerlaunch still hasn’t fixed the problem with opening files from Nexus directly in Vortex. And also, the UI for manually installing downloaded mods is really rudimentary, and I haven’t figured out how to fix that yet. I have to drill down several levels to get to my Downloads folder, which is quite tedious.

Still though–a lot less annoying if I can at least manipulate everything via the computer vs. on the Deck.

Vampire consequences

Settling into a bit of a pattern learning the consequences of being a vampire.

One notable thing that stood out: buying wood at Half-Moon Mill hits a little differently, LOL, given that Hert and Hern are also vamps! And with the mods I have in this playthrough, I actually got to see Hern. I’m not sure which mod actually made him spawn; the wiki thinks you’re not supposed to see him unless you’re running the Dark Brotherhood quest that targets him. I can’t confirm if the USSEP makes him spawn, just because I see no sign of my having mentioned him in Shenner’s posts that mention Half-Moon Mill. But this might be a USSEP fix?

Or, it could have been Immersive Citizens or Cutting Room Floor that woke him up. Not sure!

But in general, Harrow must surely have had some interesting reactions to finding a vampire couple running a mill.

“Holy crap, these people are totally vampires, am I the only one that can tell? Can nobody actually see the thing with the eyes? Are we exuding magic that keeps others from noticing? Am I able to see it because I’m a vampire, or because I’m Dragonborn? What the actual fuck?”

“Wait, they’re vampires, and they’re just hanging out here running a mill? Like… normal people? So maybe I can actually make this work?”

“Who the hell are they feeding on? I haven’t heard of anybody going missing along this road…”

“Can they tell I’m a vampire?”

And she must surely have side-eyed Lucien and Lydia just to see whether either of them reacted to Hern and Hert being vamps. And fighting between a bit of relief and a bit of wariness about whether it’d be wise to bring her followers to this mill. Ain’t nobody gonna snack on her people but her.

“No, you can’t have my housecarl. Yes, she is a snack, but she’s my snack.”

It was amusing, as well, to be able to show up at stupid-o’clock, go right into Hern and Hert’s house, and buy lumber from Hern. Because vampire business hours. And now I’m going to have to check when their house is actually locked. Do they lock it during the day?

Confirmed that yes, I was indeed able to build myself a coffin in Lakeview’s cellar, and get a bonus to magic resistance. I am not clear though on why Skyrim vampires get said bonus off of sleeping on coffins, though. The wiki is not clear about this. And when I went searching for it, I couldn’t find any decisive info about the lore involved. I did like one person’s theory that sleeping in coffins was a deliberate mockery of Arkay, though I am dubious that that would apply to all vampires.

Training Lucien

In this pair of sessions, started playing with Lucien’s training system. And I gotta say, it seems pretty cool to be able to teach Lucien spells. I’ll need to experiment more with training Lucien in other ways, as well.

I also noticed that as soon as I got Inigo, he and Lucien started chatting about Inigo training Lucien, too. And that was also cool. I’ll be interested to see if I can train Inigo, too.

A bit of confusion with the pets

I went ahead and got Hilda and Thistle in these sessions, but caused myself a bit of confusion with getting them out of order. I got Thistle first, then went back and got Hilda. Not sure if I actively broke things by doing that, or if I just forgot to tell Thistle to follow me when I got said bun at the Alchemist’s Shack.

I did manage to find Skritch while down in the Ratway, though I forgot to free it once I got the key. Not sure yet if, or when, I’ll bother. As I wrote in Shenner’s playthrough, most of the pets struck me as fairly useless. But we’ll see!

Treva’s Watch

Running this place was trivial with a large group. Particularly a large group that included Barbas.

Main interesting change here though was courtesy of Cutting Room Floor. Because in vanilla Skyrim, the reward you get from Stalleo is a spellbook of Detect Life. With Cutting Room Floor active, though, you get a spellbook of Spectral Arrow, a spell not available in the unmodded game.

Cooooooool. Looking forward to trying this out.

Lakeview Manor

It had not occurred to me that, what with Noble Skyrim installed, I’d see differences in the built Hearthfire houses too. But I did! When I built out the Small House structure at Lakeview, I got the same sort of wood walls I was seeing in Dragonsreach and all over Whiterun in general.

I am not sure if I like the wooden walls look more than I like the unmodded walls look, but for now it’s new and visually interesting enough that I appreciate the change.

Not sure which mod dropped a tree right by Lakeview’s front door, either, but Happy Little Trees, Skyrim Flora Overhaul, and Noble Skyrim all strike me as candidates. Either way, it does change the overall ambiance of the front of Lakeview, which I also appreciate.

And of course, once I built out the Main House structure, Lydia volunteered to be steward. I let her. Though I feel like I may still use Lyds as a follower to balance out having two male characters following me, and because Lyds is the housecarl Harrow explicitly trusts to guard her back even though she’s a vampire now.

Dawnfang and Duskfang

Re-ran this plot partly because it’s a pretty good one, and partly because the sword in question does strike me as kind of appropriate for a vampire.

And, as I write this, it also strikes me that I could maybe utilize that as a reason why Harrow accepts Harkon’s gift of being a vampire lord? If that sword has undue influence on its wielder, it might push Harrow in a bad direction for a little while, until she has will enough to set it aside and regain her humanity. I’ll have to ponder this as a narrative option!

Getting Grelod the Kind arrested

As of this session I finally followed up on getting Grelod the Kind arrested. I actually kind of forgot that I could do that, I was still dragging my feet about having to kill her. But I do really like the idea of just reporting the abusive old bitch to the Riften guards, so they can arrest her.

Dara raised a legit question: why would the Riften guards care? The mod doesn’t call that out. All you get is a patrolling guard right near the orphanage, to whom you can report Grelod’s abuse. The guard comes with you into the orphanage, and when you tell him “she’s in here”, he goes to confront Grelod directly with the line “you have committed crimes against Skyrim and her people”.

Grelod does not come along quietly, and attacks the guard, who promptly kills her. HA. 😀

Now, the quest still treats this as you having killed her. Which, well, you kinda did, even though you didn’t attack her yourself. This is killing Grelod by proxy.

I take issue with the idea that this counts as you poaching the Dark Brotherhood’s contract, and that the kids take it as Aventus having succeeded in calling the Brotherhood. But I also see that messing with this would have broken your ability to get kidnapped by Astrid later. So, *shrug*? Not sure how you could have fixed that without changing a bunch more things: the reactions of the kids and Constance, Aventus’ reaction when you report back to him that Grelod is dead, and Astrid’s lines when she kidnaps you.

(I can still see Astrid taking this as you having poached the Brotherhood’s contract, though I feel like the player should still get a shot at arguing that getting Grelod arrested did not count as assassinating her.)

But the important thing here is, it’s actually decent justice and I like that. I also honestly kind of like the idea that at least one guard in Riften is ethical enough to try to arrest Grelod for being a child abuser. Even if most of the guard is on the take. There’s a difference between “being willing to take bribes from the Thieves Guild” and “looking the other way when an old woman beats orphans”.

Still pondering now how to play the Dark Brotherhood. I haven’t bailed on that idea entirely, since I went back and re-read the page for the mod and saw that it does try to institute an idea that the Brotherhood doesn’t kill innocents. But I still feel like committing to being an assassin may be a step too far for Harrow. Unless she does it maybe after taking Harkon’s gift, and she sees it as an outlet for directing her vampire powers without harming most of the populace.

And speaking of Inigo

I finally got Inigo the Khajiit onto Team Dragonborn! And I gotta say, his intro was delightful. Very curious as to what’s going on with him, if he’s actually crazy, or if there’s some sort of weird timey-wimey thing going on where he legit thinks he shot me. I’ll be very curious as to how this plays out.

He had very approving commentary about Lakeview Manor when we showed up there, heh. “A queen relaxing in her castle.” Well, a vampire Dragonborn working on building out the place, anyway.

Not entirely a fan of the interaction he had with Lydia, in which he was trying to converse with her and Lyds was distracted, which led him to get snarky about hoping her sword was more effective than her head, or something to that effect. Lyds did go “HEY!” at that, though. And even though I feel like that exchange was unkind to Lydia, I did like that her side of the convo definitely sounded like her. Which makes me really wonder about the tools these mods are using to build new lines for characters.

One change from Practical Female Armors I don’t quite like

I was toying with the idea of having Harrow wear vampire armor, just to try it out, and I swiped several examples from the vamps in Haemar’s Shame. But when I got it all to Lakeview and got the time to try them on, I discovered a problem. Even though vampire armor in theory comes in different colors, black, red, and gray, each one of them when tried on showed up on Harrow as black. I was a bit bummed out by this, because I was hoping to see the red version on her.

This is not quite enough of a problem to make me want to uninstall Practical Female Armors, mind you. It just means I probably won’t use the vampire armor.

(Though once I get Bloodchill Manor I should have access to a set of vampire royal armor, and that should be interesting…)

Next time

I have got a huge array of quests in Harrow’s quest journal now, so I’ll have to see what I’m in the mood to do next. Kind of in the mood to work on building out Lakeview and getting a steward for Goldenhills, but aside from that, dunno yet.

I’m finding my inclinations with Kendis’ playthrough kind of bleeding over into Harrow’s, even though Harrow’s is not using Survival Mode. With Kendis’ playthrough, I’m finding myself thinking about broadening Kendis’ range of play by getting more houses for her into place. Harrow’s playthrough mechanics are not enforcing this–but Harrow being a vampire, for RP purposes, kind of is. Because I feel like a vampire’s going to be very, very interested in having places she can safely hole up all over Skyrim.

And I need to think about whether it’s time to hit the mage college, or what. I’m far enough along in the Thieves Guild, earlier than is usual for me, that I need to find other things to do for a bit. I don’t want to hit Mercer Frey’s place until I’m much farther along in levels.

So I should probably go finish off the Markarth jobs too and get Endon on board as my next fence! And check whether Gulum-Ei showed up in Solitude, as well.


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.