This was a big crunchy session, in which I wound up doing a lot more in the vicinity of Dawnstar than previously played! Main goal was initially to reach Driftshade Refuge and avenge the killing of Kodlak, but I wound up doing the entire nightmares plot in Dawnstar as well just because traveling in Survival Mode is annoying in the cold parts of the map.
Play by play
- Play date: 1/7/2023
- Session number in this run: 18
- Went to Lakeview and built stuff
- Lydia volunteered to be steward once I built out the Main House structure
- Rode over to Falkreath and sold stuff to Solaf and Lod
- Bought more iron and rode back to Lakeview to build more stuff
- Set out again and this time rode through Falkreath en route to Glenmoril Coven
- I think there was an assassin on this leg of the journey?
- Reached and ran Glenmoril Coven, even though I got overloaded and it took a while
- Could not drop a campsite inside the cave which I kinda feel is bullshit, because there was a nice wide open space right in the middle of it
- So went outside and dropped a campsite, because it was cold as balls out there
- Slept and warmed up before heading on, hit the road that led back to Whiterun after cutting down past the elven hunter camp
- Found a stray dog fighting wolves and got the dog to come with me
- Reached Whiterun and sold assorted things to unload
- Returned to Jorrvaskr to discover OHNOEZ the Silver Hand had come, and Kodlak was dead
- Saw Ria kneeling by Athis, thought he was dead but apparently he was only wounded?
- Got confronted b Vilkas and corralled into taking out the Silver Hand for vengeance; Lydia was dismissed and returned to Lakeview
- Made a couple extra sets of camping supplies, because I expected a long, cold trip to Driftshade Refuge
- Noted Cicero’s wagon by Loreius Farm, didn’t stop to deal with him
- Blew through two camping supply sets not too far north of Whiterun, because I hit a fucking blizzard (and also hit a frost troll)
- Did a long camp at the second camp drop just to outwait the blizzard
- Finally moved on and came within range of Windward Ruins and Agrane’s camp
- More wolves showed up at this point and Lightning ran off
- Lost track of the dog too, suspect I will have the same dog issue in Delga’s playthrough; doggie might have gotten killed
- Made it to Agrane’s camp
- Random encounter that spawned was bandits vs. giants, yikes; one bandit was already dead when I showed up, and I saw the giants fling another bandit into the air
- Bought Saturnalia clothes from Agrane
- Dropped another campsite right by Agrane’s camp
- Tried to hunt around for my horse, but no joy, so went to Dawnstar since it was right there and it was fucking cold
- Built more replacement camping supplies, and queued up favor quests:
- Book quest for Rustleif
- Frida’s quest for the Ring of Pure Mixtures (which also let me buy fire salts from her!)
- Captain Wayfinder’s quest for the Fine-Cut Void Salts
- Went to the inn to talk to Erandur about the nightmare situation and start that quest
- Got to “Freezing” status on the way up to Nightcaller Temple, because of course I did
- Ice wraiths were the monster at the temple
- Discovered I had to wait for Erandur’s lines, couldn’t just go straight in
- Ran the temple with Erandur; got killed several times, often enough that I had to doublecheck I was still at Adept difficulty, but finally made it through and let Erandur destroy the Skull of Corruption, because fuck you, Vaermina
- Slept in one of the temple beds to rest up (again, sorry Vilkas)
- Picked up useful loot on the way out
- Reunited with Vilkas and set off again to try to find my horse; still no joy, so hoofed it on foot towards Driftshade Refuge
- Hit a couple of iron veins on the way, and I think there was another assassin somewhere in here?
- Made it to Driftshade and took out the two external Silver Hands
- Partway through, inside, decided to run it wolfy because I kept getting killed by the Silver Hand, boooooo
- Ate enough hearts to get another werewolf perk, but towards the end reverted back to human form
- The boss Silver Hand was suited up in Nordic armor and had elven weapons, and she kept kicking my and Vilkas’ asses; finally had to do a lot of evasion and sneaking to snipe at her, while Vilkas kept shaking off recovery mode and coming back at her
- Got all her armor because fuck you from the Companions, but overloaded coming out
- Switched off to wearing the Nordic armor to lessen the carry weight, because Steed Stone
- Hoofed it off like hell for Whiterun
- Spotted trying to sneak past Fort Fellhammer, but we got away fast enough that we didn’t have to fight them
- Passed Weynon Stones but went around them so I wouldn’t have to fight the ice wraiths there
- Finally made it back to the road but hit Freezing status again–and just after, that the terrain started shifting, so I was saved from freezing to death or having to drop a campsite
- However, did find a thief and took him out
- Finally made it back to Whiterun, and Vlkas told me to come up to the Skyforge to pay respects to Kodlak
- Sold stuff first to get back under carry weight, then went to the Skyforge for Kodlak’s funeral
- Eorlund sent me to Kodlak’s quarters to get the one remaining fragment and bring it back to him
- Went down into the Underforge to hear the others discussing de-wolfing Kodlak’s spirit
- Cue Eorlund showing up with the reforged axe because he’s the most badassed smith in Skyrim and can apparently reforge an axe very quickly, LOL
- And now I have Wuuthrad! Cue the Companions going to Ysgramor’s tomb–but as that’s up in the corner of the map that’s colder than balls, much prep to do first
- I made more camping supplies and did some cooking, then slept at Breezehome
- Sold a few things, then got the carriage driver to take me to Falkreath, which finally made Lightning reset location, so yay I have my horse back
- Rode back to Lakeview to confirm Lydia was there (but still no dog <cry>) and to drop off things
- Did a bit more building and stashed clothes in the wardrobe
- Saved for the night
Glenmoril Coven, and more on Survival Mode temperature changes
Running Glenmoril Coven gave me another nit to pick with Survival Mode: i.e., that you can only build a campsite if you’re actually outside. I already knew you couldn’t build them within bounds of a city of a town, and I was kind of fine with that. But in the case of running Glenmoril Coven, that cave had a nice large wide area right in the middle of it, the central chamber which had all of the various side tunnels that led off to the hagravens.
And that nice large central chamber would have been a perfect place to drop a campsite. But the game wouldn’t let me do it, and I kinda feel like that’s bullshit.
I suppose this also probably means that I won’t be able to drop campsites inside ruins either, which is also bullshit explicitly because I’ve seen multiple examples of ruins that have NPC campsites inside of them. Mzulft, Irkngthand, Raldbthar, Bleak Falls Barrow, and Avanchnzel both come to mind. So I feel like if NPCs are allowed to camp inside caves and ruins, the Dragonborn should be as well.
Especially given how Survival Mode treats your fatigue levels, and how some of the larger dungeons can wear you out hardcore by the time you reach the end of them, if you have nowhere safe to sleep while you’re running them. At least in the Dwemer ruins, there are usually stone beds in various places you can sleep in. But the barrows and caves, not so much, unless they’re a location like Bleak Fallows Barrow which had bandits explicitly camping out in the front of it. Hmrmf.
From a coding perspective, I’m curious about the justification for not allowing campsites to be built inside caves. I guess it’d be difficult to account for a cave like Glenmoril Coven, which does have good space to put a campsite down, vs. smaller caves that may not. The terrain of smaller caves may not be good for it, and I could see clipping issues happening there if you tried to put a campsite down in a bad spot. I’ve already seen those happening with campsites as it is, outside.
All of this meant that when I was done taking out the hagravens, I had to go outside to drop my campsite. And of course, Glenmoril Coven turned out to be another location that can reach “treacherously cold” status at night. So I had to camp out if I didn’t want to freeze.
I’ve found this map on UESP.net, which is now making Survival Mode’s temperature changes make a bit more sense to me. Areas in white are designated as “freezing”, and those appear to be the areas with the tallest mountains. Or which are far enough north that they’re within range of the Sea of Ghosts. This makes Morthal’s temperature slightly more reasonable to me now, but it also alerts me that Solitude might be problematic if I’m outside there at night. (Though Solitude, at least, has plenty of warm places to duck into to warm up.)
And just because I’m that kind of a data nerd, I’m curious as to how those various areas set their temperatures based on time of day and weather. I’ve already seen areas get colder at night, or if precipitation is happening. Whiterun gets noticeably colder if it’s raining, for example.
But regardless, I got in, got those witch heads, and got out again.
Attack on Jorrvaskr
I picked up a stray dog on the way back to Whiterun. And lost him later, I think. He may have been killed by wolves! Which suggests I am in danger of having the same problem I had in Delga’s playthrough, with losing a dog causing me to not be able to pick up another dog later.
(I’m given to understand getting Meeko may specifically fix this. I will need to confirm. It’d be nice to know if this issue has a fix other than “install mods”.)
Once I got to Whiterun and reported back to Jorrvaskr, I of course discovered that OHNOEZ! The Silver Hand had attacked Jorrvaskr! And killed Kodlak!
And I still have the same objections to this that I did when I played Delga. Namely, I have a real hard time believing that the Whiterun guards apparently had their thumbs up their asses and let the Silver Hand get into the city in the first place. Hell, the city’s gates were closed to me until I showed up and explicitly said I had news of Riverwood being in danger. They wouldn’t let Kematu’s Alik’r warriors in, either.
So how the fuck did the Silver Hand get in and get all the way to Jorrvaskr, and launch an attack there without getting challenged at all by the guards? Even at night, there are multiple guards patrolling the Wind District. They should damn well have jumped in with the Companions to defend the place.
And for that matter, I am extremely fucking dubious that the Companions couldn’t protect Kodlak. Okay sure fine I can buy that even if he’s old, Kodlak’s honor as a Companion wouldn’t allow him to do something sensible like, say, hole up in his quarters with Vilkas or Farkas at his door to prevent anybody from getting in. Maybe Kodlak felt like he had to help with the fighting. But even if he did, why the fuck didn’t the other Companions have his back? Did they? Or were there just too many Silver Hand members in the attack that they couldn’t keep Kodlak from getting killed?
Which takes me right back around to how the hell did that many Silver Hand members make it into Jorrvaskr in the first place?
There are multiple citizens standing around outside Jorrvaskr when you show up, Ulfberth War-Bear, Uthgerd the Unbroken, and I think I did see at least one guard. I can allow the implication here that these armed citizens probably did participate in the fight outside Jorrvaskr once it broke out, or at least were ready to before Aela and Torvar took down their particular opponents.
But still. Real fucking dubious.
Here’s what I’d do to fix this part of the plot up a bit. The Whiterun gates usually have two guards on duty. Assume for plot purposes that when the Silver Hand show up, one of those guys is one who’s taken a bribe to let the attacking group in unchallenged. They show up with a cover story, some bullshit about needing to hire as many Companions as they can get to help them take back a farm that’d been overrun by bandits.
Their contact goes “this sounds TOTES LEGIT” and escorts them in, telling his fellow guard that he’ll see them over to Jorrvaskr.
However, the other guard thinks this smells like bullshit, but he’s torn between calling his compatriot on it and abandoning his post. He delays just long enough that the Silver Hand are able to get inside and all the way up to Jorrvaskr.
Let’s say the commander of the guard comes along and demands to know why the other guy left his post. The remaining guard repeats the story about wanting to hire Companions to take back such-and-such a farm, at which point the commander goes “Wait, what, there is no such farm” and he realizes shit is going down. He runs in and starts yelling for every guard in earshot to follow him up to Jorrvaskr.
But of course they’re too late. The attack has broken out, and between what Companions were on site, the nearest guards, and a couple other armed citizens, the Silver Hand have all been killed. But Kodlak’s also been slain.
When the Dragonborn shows up, have the commander of the guard greet them. “Careful, Dragonborn, there’s been an attack on Jorrvaskr. We think we’ve gotten them all out here, but be wary if you’re going inside.”
Dragonborn: “By the Eight. What happened?”
Commander: “The Silver Hand. They showed up at the gate with a story about wanting the help of the Companions to take back a stolen farm.”
Dragonborn: “And the guards believed them?”
Commander, grimly: “One of the men on duty was bribed, and he let them in even though their story was full of mammoth dung. I saw him run into Jorrvaskr claiming he was going to help. See if you can find him?”
And then you go in, and the guard is dead at Vilkas’ feet. Vilkas proceeds to give you shit for not being there, but now he can also have a surly line about taking out the bastard who let the Silver Hand into the city. “He had this note. Look. They told him to come to them at Driftshade Refuge. But we’re going to go there instead, and take our vengeance for what they did to Kodlak.”
And while I’m at it, I’d also like the Dragonborn to be able to give Vilkas a bit more pushback about the whole “where the fuck were you” shit he throws at you when you come into Jorrvaskr. You do get a line to say you were doing Kodlak’s bidding, but I feel like it should be more strongly worded than that–because Vilkas’ attitude very much carries an implication of “our Harbinger is dead because you weren’t here to do your part in the fighting”.
Which I figure, any self-respecting Companion would take as an attack on her honor. I gave a way for this to play out when I wrote about this in Delga’s playthrough. In Kendis’ case, I feel like she’d be much less inclined to take this than cinnamon roll Delga was.
Kendis, holding up the bag full of severed witch heads: “I was explicitly following Kodlak’s orders, and bringing him the heads of the witches who cursed the Circle, so he could have a way to remove his wolf blood. I was killing hagravens for his honor and in his name. If you have a problem with that, we can settle this with our blades right here and now. Otherwise, get out of my face.”
And I feel like Kendis and her Lydia would also take issue with Vilkas trying to make her send Lydia home. 😉
But here’s one thing I don’t think I’d noticed about the attack when I played Delga: i.e., that Athis had been wounded. I spotted him lying over on the floor nearby, with Ria kneeling next to him, and I thought at first he’d also been killed. But then I confirmed on the wiki that he just gets wounded in the fight.
Traveling up into the Pale
Now all that said, even though Kendis grudgingly agreed to Lydia standing down and to going to Driftshade Refuge with Vilkas, I figure that 1) she was pissed at Vilkas for his attitude, and 2) she wasn’t going anywhere until she damn well prepared herself for going out again.
So I made some more camping supplies, on the grounds that I knew it was going to be a very long, very cold trip up into the Pale. And I was right.
I spotted Cicero’s wagon near Loreius Farm, both coming and going, but explicitly ignored him just because I didn’t feel like stopping in dubious temperatures. I’ll get back around to him later, maybe.
And it was a damned good thing I made multiple sets of camping supplies, because I burned through two of them just making my way partway to Dawnstar. And at the second camp drop, I did quite a bit of waiting and resting there, just trying to outwait the blizzard. Because traveling in that kind of weather? Extremely problematic. I got to “Freezing” status very quickly.
Once the weather cleared up, I was able to make it to the area right around the Windward Ruins. Which also meant I found Agrane Peryval’s camp. But before I made it all the way to him, wolves showed up.
This fight was, I think, possibly where Lightning ran off. It may or may not have been where I lost the dog; I could have lost the dog to that frost troll, too.
Once I made it over to Agrane’s camp, I saw that the random encounter generated was giants vs. bandits. And one of the bandits was already dead, lying right near Agrane’s campfire. The wiki says that this encounter would have involved four bandits, but I only saw two of them–the one dead by Agrane’s fire, and another one that went flying up into the air when the giant smacked him with a club. :O
And I was all “so that’s what that looks like from afar!”
Needless to say, I did not go over to try to engage in that battle. Kendis is not capable of taking down two giants and a mammoth yet.
I did buy Saturnalia clothes from Agrane, but noted with disappointment that their Warmth stats were no better than fur armor. Damn. However, they do count as clothes, not as armor, so maybe they’d be good for more mage-oriented action?
I was tempted by the reindeer, but didn’t buy it. Just because I knew if I did, I’d have to go hunt down Lightning later near Whiterun. See previous commentary re: I want me a horse mod that’ll let me actually stable horses in known places. And call my horse if it runs off.
Action in Dawnstar
Now, since Dawnstar was right there, I figured I’d go over and take care of Dawnstar-based action. Including:
- Warming up
- Building more camping supplies
- Selling anything I could sell to get carry weight down
- Picking up local quests, particularly important given the difficulty of getting to Dawnstar to begin with
I also figure Vilkas was probably surly about Kendis diverting to Dawnstar. And that Kendis told him, “Kodlak’s vengeance will not be improved by our freezing to death before we make it to Driftshade Refuge, and I’d like to not freeze to death on the way back. We are stopping for supplies.”
Of course, I picked up all three of the notable favor quests in Dawnstar, the book for Rustleif the smith, getting the Ring of Pure Mixtures for Frida the alchemist, and getting the Fine-Cut Void Salts for Captain Wayfinder. Between all of that and being recruited to help with Dawnstar having nightmare issues, Vilkas probably got even more surly, and pulled her aside after the first conversation with Erandur.
Vilkas: “Shield-Sister, do you want to take vengeance for Kodlak or not?”
Kendis, giving him a long, level look: “Do you think Kodlak would want us to turn away if these people are suffering?” Vilkas is taken aback by this, and abruptly blushes and looks away. Kendis goes on: “I didn’t know him as long as you did. But my take on the old man was, he wouldn’t have wanted us to ignore the needs of these people. Isn’t that what the Companions are supposed to do? Help people?”
Vilkas, muttering: “Usually we get paid for it.”
Kendis: “And if you want to send that priest a bill when we’re done, be my guest. I for one am going to help him because it’s the right thing to do.”
Vilkas: “Just don’t forget why we came here.”
Kendis, her eyes glinting: “Oh, I haven’t forgotten, Shield-Brother. And one more thing–I don’t know if you Nords have a saying like this, but where I come from, vengeance is best served cold.”
Running Nightcaller Temple
The main new aspects to running the nightmare plot this time were of course getting to and from Nightcaller Temple. I got quickly to “Freezing” status on the way up to the temple, which was making me nervous about lingering outside any more than necessary once we got there. But there were ice wraiths to kill, and then I had to confirm that Erandur had lines he had to give me before we went into the temple.
But at least all of that played out fast enough that I wasn’t at immediate risk of freezing, I think? This makes me kind of hope at least that some of the other places I might need to run quests won’t put me at risk of freezing to death before I can reach objectives. (Saarthal, I am looking straight at you.)
I figure Kendis had her temperature tolerance strained, though, by Erandur stopping her at the door and delivering his lines about what to expect. Yes, yes, okay, clue me in, but do it quickly, please before my entire ass freezes off? Divines’ sake, man, how are you standing there in just a robe?
And of course, Vilkas couldn’t go in with us. The game didn’t give me any opportunity to do so, but I take the liberty of assuming Kendis gave him the camping supplies so he wouldn’t have to freeze his ass off outside.
Really, I can’t see any in-character justification for why a follower couldn’t come in with you and Erandur to the temple? If it’s just a question of the game mechanics having Erandur override your primary follower slot, surely that’s a thing a mod could adjust? Because there are situations in Dawnguard where you have Serana and your usual follower at the same time. Surely something like that could be applied here?
But given the circumstances, I expect Vilkas started setting up a camp and warned Kendis that if she didn’t come back out in a timely fashion, he was coming in after her.
Once actually in the temple, I got killed a frustrating number of times. Enough that I actually doublechecked I was still on Adept Difficulty! And what that tells me is, I need to upgrade off the Orcish Scaled armor at my earliest opportunity. And I need a better weapon than the Skyforge Steel axe! I need to remember I can cast Bound Sword, for that matter.
And because there were beds in the temple, I took the time to sleep in one once Erandur and I cleared the place. Which meant Vilkas had to still wait for me outside. Sorry, Vilkas!
Once Vilkas and I finally made it to Driftshade Refuge, it was time to get the vengeance on!
I started getting killed fairly regularly in here, too. Which made me to decide to run most of the dungeon as a werewolf.
This worked out pretty well, actually! Up until the end where the main boss was wearing Nordic armor and fighting with elven weapons, and she was a problem. Stealth and evasion were required to take her out. And I took all her gear when I was done, because fuck you from the Companions, stern letter to follow.
This got me overloaded. But I remembered I’d taken the Steed Stone, which meant any armor I was wearing was weightless. So I shifted over to wearing the Nordic at least long enough to get me back to Whiterun, which was helpful.
And now I’ve deliberately run a lair twice as a werewolf. Which is suggesting to me that Kendis is getting into being a werewolf more than Delga did, certainly. I have the suspicion she’ll eventually get called away from it, but I’m not sure why or how yet.
Kodlak’s funeral and aftermath
Of course, getting back to Whiterun meant playing through Kodlak’s funeral, and the aftermath in which Eorlund Gray-Mane reforges Wuuthrad. Which queued up the quest to go with Aela, Farkas, and Vilkas to Ysgramor’s Tomb.
I.e., right back into the cold, cold northeastern corner of the map. Going to have to replenish the camping supplies!
If I have to go to Ysgramor’s Tomb, up in the corner of the map most likely to freeze me solid, I’m going to damn well stop at the College of Winterhold on my way up and get all that started.
I need to see if I have enough gold to have Lydia hire a carriage driver for Lakeview. If I do, I can use that carriage driver to go to Winterhold. If not, I’ll need to go to Whiterun first and then take the carriage from there. Either way, this’ll save me considerable time and also camping supplies.
Once I’m in Winterhold, I’ll consider timing and then try to get over to Ysgramor’s Tomb. And right, this’ll be the first time in this game that I’ll need to be careful about not fucking swimming in freezing water. Another reason for the horse to be critical, because I do not have Ahzidal’s Waterwalking Boots yet, and it’ll be a while before I get them!
Editing to add
- 11/25/2023: Restored missing gallery.