In Which Harrowhark Becomes Thane of Hjaalmarch
Double session post, with primary action being achieving the thaneship of Hjaalmarch, which brings housecarl Valdimar onto Team Dragonborn. Also, built things at properties; took out the dragon at Skyborn Altar; gave Inigo my horse (and got a new one of my own); and took out a whole bunch of bandits, wolves, and zombies.
Play by play
- Play dates: 1/2, 1/4/2023
- Session numbers in this run: 16-17
- Picked up where I left off at Lakeview
- Boinged back and forth between Lakeview and Goldenhills, trying to build stuff out
- At Lakeview, got a bunch of the furnishings for the Main House built, but some still missing, and didn’t have enough corundum to start building the bedroom wing
- Had to move supplies around so that I could actually build out the smithing area at Goldenhills, enough to get the mill built and have an on-site wood chopping block
- Planted several things in exterior planters at Goldenhills (and still need a steward for this place)
- Meanwhile, set off on Tormod to ride to Whiterun to buy stuff
- Got in after hours, doublechecked Breezehome for anything I needed to pick up
- Got another round of iron once it was time to shop in sunlight (ow, stupid sunlight)
- Boinged to Morthal to try to do a third favor quest; found Idgrod the Younger and got her quest to deliver a letter to Danica
- Tried to ride to Skyborn Altar to take out the dragon
- Killed a frostbite spider, then killed by zombie horde before I could make it to the dragon >_<
- Thrown back to Whiterun
- Attempted to ride to Skyborn Altar from there to see if I could make it to the dragon from the opposite direction, and avoid the zombie horde
- Saw an elk freaking out near the horse and cart, it seemed to be attacking the horse? So I stopped to shoot it down
- While highly amused at Inigo and Lucien exchanges, made it to Skyborn Altar, but came in from a bad angle; had to try to navigate my way down the cliff on horseback and that was a bad idea, could have killed myself and the horse that way ;P
- However, the fucking game crashed on me just before engaging the dragon, DOH
- Thrown back that time to partway along the ride out from Whiterun
- This time through, when swinging past Halted Stream Camp, wound up engaging a pack of six red wolves, which appeared to be a wolf variant brought in by Realistic Animals and Predators; they were a bit of a challenge!
- Wound up engaging exterior bandits at Halted Stream as well, and as long as I was there, decided, fuck it, clearing this place, I needed the iron and the Transmute spell
- Cleared it with no issues with Lucien and Inigo along
- Set out from there to try to hit Skyborn Altar again; this time made it safely there via the route near the access to Labyrinthian, so I didn’t have to worry about making it down a cliff on the horse
- This route also took me past a skeever, so I was able to get the skeever tail I needed for Hedge Mage Armor upgrade (couldn’t do the actual upgrade at that point, had forgotten I’d planted bleeding crown back at Goldenhills)
- Safely took out the dragon, and got the word off the Word Wall there
- Boinged to Morthal to check in with the steward and get the bounty payment
- Then boinged back to Goldenhills to get the bleeding crown I needed; did the upgrade to the Hedge Mage Armor
- Saved there until next time
- Started off at Goldenhills; mounted up and started riding back to Whiterun
- Encountered en route:
- Cultists, dispatched
- Wolves, dispatched
- One deer, a buck, who got pissy at my horse and picked a fight with him; got off the horse and Tormod promptly chased the deer off a ways and I had to go after them up a rocky slope; finally took out the deer with a bow shot
- Mercenary who got in a fight with a wolf, including hitting it with fire magic; let the mercenary go about her business, but totes looted the wolf
- Giant with mammoths, and then later two more giants, did not engage; probably same giants I’ve seen in the area before
- Reached Whiterun and sold assorted things to Elrindir
- Slept until morning at Breezehome
- Sold more things to Adrianne and Belethor; bought iron
- Dropped off the letter with Danica to resolve the favor quests for Hjaalmarch
- Went back out and talked to Inigo so I could give him the current horse, but before I could do that he taught me how to find him on the map, excellent
- Then gave him the horse, which pleased him; he decided to call the horse ‘Rusher’ <3
- Went over and caught the Red Wild Horse as my new mount; registered the horse at the stable and got him on record as being called Hjalte
- Boinged to Lakeview to do more building
- Got a crimson nirnroot off of Thistle which launched that quest early, same as in Kendis’ playthrough
- Boinged to Morthal
- Checked in with the Jarl to let her know I’d helped her people; proclaimed thane!
- Hi Valdimar, welcome to Team Dragonborn, so yeah how do you feel about having a vampire for a thane? (Wait, did I say vampire out loud?)
- Decided to let Valdimar follow me for a bit, since I haven’t actually used him much as a follower
- Set out from Morthal to try to head east and get to the dragonscale armor
- Ran into frostbite spiders and then a zombie horde, the horde killed me ;P
- Thrown back to Morthal
- Leaving, take two; this time Team Dragonborn took out the zombie horde
- Proceeded onward, killed a bunch of wolves, multiple packs attacked us
- Passed the wrecked carriage where bandits had fought conjurers; killed a remaining live bandit there
- Made it to Windward Ruins, and found Agrane Peryval’s camp, he’s the guy that sells the Saturnalia gear and the reindeer
- Also found a dog fighting skeevers; killed the skeevers but the dog got hostile and tried to attack me; I think Inigo took it out? Was a little afraid it was Agrane Peryval’s dog and that he would get annoyed at us, but no
- Bought Saturnalia gear from Agrane just to see what it looks like; not a fan of it on Harrow
- Moved on from there to hit the wrecked carriage by Forsaken Cave
- Reached and ran Yorgrim Overlook, got the studded dragonscale armor
- Ran the Seducers Bandit Camp and cleared it–then made the mistake of trying to clear the other Seducers camp back over by Forsaken Cave, that bunch of bandits killed me
- Thrown all the way back to Agrane’s camp
- Take two: boinged to Heljarchen (the town) to get near Yorgrim Overlook; re-ran it and got the studded dragonscale
- Re-ran the first Seducers camp
- This time boinged back to original Saints camp–because I still had an unfinished quest objective on the journal for killing the bandit leader there, except I had killed him, the objective was broken
- Saved at that point
- Next morning: logged into VM on my computer to get better access to the console without having to use the bluetooth keyboard on the Deck
- Got into the console, resetting the entire quest, and then using setstage command to reset all of the various stages of the quest i’d done already
- Saved again to pick up for later
The Inigo and Lucien show
So far, having both Inigo and Lucien as followers does not disappoint! They’ve got great conversations to play off of each other, and these two sessions in this post included:
- Inigo trying to get Lucien to fess up about whether he had a romantic interest, Lucien initially not getting it, and then deflecting Inigo off for being “nosy” (also amusing about this: Lucien making a crack about our little team being “partners in crime”, which is fairly hilarious coming from a guy following the future leader of the Thieves Guild, you don’t know the half of it, son, just wait till I go rob Markarth again)
- Rhyming contests
- A bunch of riffing on Ragnar the Red, with versions about each other, and also a version in which Ragnar becomes a failed baker
- A really nice long conversation about how to fight off self-doubt
- Cracks about counting snowflakes
- Inigo deflecting Lucien’s over-eager curiosity about the coloration of his fur, and reminding him that he is a person and not a thing to be analyzed or experimented on, really liked that exchange
I really like that both of these characters seem to be smart and philosophical. The long conversation about handling doubt was very much along those lines, but it also had humor! So mad props to the creators of these two followers for getting them to play off of one another so well.
Amusing solo stuff out of Lucien:
- A great reaction line to my absorbing the dragon soul at Skyborn Altar, something to the effect of “I don’t care what anyone else says, that looked like a really big soul, are you going to be okay?” LOL. Nice to see somebody reacting to this with something besides “Holy shit, you’re Dragonborn!”
Amusing solo stuff out of Inigo:
- Remarking on seeing me work, building out things in Lakeview, mining ore veins, and such. He noted he was just getting tired watching me. Well, my dude, you could help maybe? Just a thought!
- Fun comments to his horse, like warning him he’s about to mount, and sternly advising him not to trample me
- He called Breezehome a “homely home”, and heh, I take that in the “The Last Homely House” Rivendell sense, not the “homely as in ugly” sense, for the record
- Snarky commentary about dogs
Discovering I could outright just give Inigo a horse gave me an excuse to go ahead and tame the Red Wild Horse near Whiterun. I gave Inigo Tormod first, and observed that:
- Tormod’s armor vanished, reverting the horse to his original appearance
- Inigo renamed him ‘Rusher’, so now I need to remember to call the horse Rusher
I really wish I could give Lucien a horse as well as my housecarls, that’d be an excellent reason to get all of the various wild horses. Now seriously considering whether I want to go to the trouble of installing Immersive Horses or Convenient Horses.
And I’ll also say this for having Lucien and Inigo as lively followers: they really make the housecarls seem fairly dry by comparison. Lydia gets extra dialogue with Inigo apparently but both she and Valdimar have some lines that sound like they’re maybe brought in by Cutting Room Floor, and they are not nearly as entertaining as Inigo and Lucien’s lines!
Observations about changes in animal behavior
Realistic Animals and Predators made its presence known a couple of times in this session.
One notable incident was comparable to my initial testing of this mod–where I found an elk getting really pissy at the carriage driver’s horse near the Whiterun stables. I remembered an elk getting similarly pissy before in that same location, and this time through, I saw the elk actively attacking the horse.
So that was… interesting? I wound up having to shoot down the elk just for roleplay purposes, really. It’s not clear to me whether the elk could actually have killed the horse, or if it had, if the horse would respawn later? But I figured if an elk was making a big public nuisance of itself, somebody was going to have to take it down.
And hey, free elk meat!
A similar incident happened when I was riding back to Whiterun from Goldenhills. Passed a deer that wound up getting pissy at my horse–maybe because I bumped into the deer while riding, I don’t know. But it started displaying dominance behavior and bellowing and such. I got off Tormod, and the horse proceeded to actually chase the deer to fight with it. I had to run after them and finally shoot down the deer.
The last interesting thing was over by Halted Stream Camp, which I finally ran with this alt. I saw six, count ’em, six wolves spawn in a pack just outside the camp. That by itself was interesting, but what added even more interest was that they were a wolf variant–red wolves. They dropped red pelts! So that was neat. 😀
So many fucking zombies, and also, consequences of being a vampire
Off the top of my head I’m not remembering if Shenner had this much trouble with her early zombie hordes in her playthrough. But it sure seems like Harrow and Kendis both are having issues. I’m having a zombie horde show up at least once per session, and right now, in the mid-20’s range for level, both characters are having trouble with these hordes.
In Harrow’s case, this is exacerbated by her being extra squishy in daylight. Having three heavily armed followers is helping mitigate that, but it’s also putting me into a position similar to Ysani and Faanshi’s playthroughs–i.e., I’m having to rely on my followers to do a lot of the fighting, and that is less satisfying to me than being able to engage hostiles directly myself.
I haven’t bothered to do a feeding in the last few sessions, to get Harrow down out of stage four. The ability to go invisible if I really need to is too useful, and so is the improved Vampire’s Sight. But the 60 point nerf to Stamina, Magicka, and Health during daylight hours is a hard hit. I’m really going to have to look into either making or buying appropriate enchanted gear to counter those nerfs. And maybe seeking out an appropriate Standing Stone.
(Hmm, skyrimguides.com’s build guide for vampires is suggesting the Lady Stone. Right, that’s the Standing Stone in the middle of Lake Ilinalta, so easy to get to. I’ll need to make a point of visiting that in Harrow’s next session!)
If I can counteract some of the nerfs I’ll be okay with staying a vampire longer, but we’ll see. Right now my rough sense of how I’m going to play this out is probably that I’ll get cured after running Dawnguard.
Agrane Peryval’s camp and Saturnalia gear
Since I didn’t do this in Shenner’s run and I was curious, I finally tracked down Agrane Peryval’s camp near the Windward Ruins. I wanted to see what the Saturnalia gear he sells looks like.
I kind of like the coat and the boots and the gloves, but not a fan of the hat, at least not on Harrow. It hides her hair, so she looks like she’s bald while wearing it. Also, the color scheme of the overall outfit does not work for her vampire complexion.
I’ll be more curious about how this outfit looks on Kendis, really–because I want to see what the warmth stats are on those pieces, and if they’re comparable to or better than actual armor with fur. But for Harrow, it’s a resounding meh at the moment.
Also of note, this guy Agrane also sells a reindeer. Which I was kind of tempted by, but since I don’t have a mod active that’ll let me just hand out horses to all my followers, I didn’t want to have to deal with rearranging my mounts.
(I’m considering appropriate mods for this but not sure it’d be wise to bodge ’em into my playthrough at this point?)
The other notable thing about visiting Agrane’s camp was that as per the wiki, it’s right by a spawn point for random encounters. So when I showed up there, I triggered the encounter of a dog fighting skeevers. Took out the skeevers–but the dog turned out to also be hostile to me, and wound up attacking me. Inigo took him out, I think. Sorry, pupper!
(I was a little alarmed by this, just because I was not entirely sure it wasn’t Agrane’s dog? I half expected him to come over and be hostile at us, but no.)
Balance of Power quest action
Having a party of three followers definitely made it easier to take out the Seducers camp by Yorgrim Overlook. It was not however quite so helpful with the other Seducers camp, the one near Forsaken Cave. But I think that was more on me–see previous commentary re: how squishy Harrow is right now in direct melee combat.
But what I wanted to note here was more, noticing that I still had a quest objective marked as not completed in the journal, i.e., the one for killing the bandit leader in the original Saints camp. I had killed him. But when I went back to the campsite and found the dead bandits where I’d left them, yep, the dead leader still totally had a quest marker over him.
So I had to figure out how to fix that. Answer, as is usually the case when things go awry in Skyrim: the debug console.
Specifically, the setstage command. I tried to just mark the one portion of the quest related to killing the bandit leader as complete, but that didn’t fix the problem. What I had to do instead was:
This command completely reset the Balance of Power quest objectives. Then I did this one:
setstage ccBGSSSE025_QuestA 400
That advanced the quest up to the point where I’d killed the Saints leader in that camp, and this time, that cleared out that quest marker. I used the setstage command on a few other stages of the quest as well, to hit the ones I’d legitimately completed at that point (i.e., clearing the Seducers camp by Yorgrim Overlook).
Now I should be back in a decent state with that quest and can proceed with it normally. Also, this was something that made me grateful I’m doing Harrow’s run via Steam, and have access to her save files both via VM and the Steam Deck. Because doing the console via the VM was a lot easier than trying to do it on the Deck.
I’ll have to keep an eye on this for Kendis’ playthrough, where I can’t invoke the console. I’ll have to see if I have similar trouble with her.
Definitely going to have to visit the Lady Stone. And since the Lady Stone is right there in the middle of Lake Ilinalta, kind of wondering if this is going to be my queue to run Azura’s Star, since this’ll put me within range of Ilinalta’s Deep. And I still haven’t gotten the Star in this playthrough.
Nor, for that matter, have I started the mage college. And it occurs to me that I need to still get Bloodchill Cavern for Harrow, too. Vampire home is appropriate home.
Hmm. I think a trip to Winterhold is going to be in order!
No screenshots this time.