Multi-session post, and this one’s got a lot of action in it. Pushed the Main Quest further along with the rescue of Sai Sahan and the recovery of the Ring of Stendarr’s Mercy. But I also moved the Aldmeri Dominion quest along by working with Razum-dar to rout Veiled Heritance traitors in Mathiisen, and did work on the Ruthless Competition quest by seeking information from denizens of the Vulkhel Guard Outlaw Refuge.
Play by play
- Play dates: 1/8-1/10/2023
- Session numbers in this run: 90-92
- Hit Greenshade to run a jewelry crafting survey; this took quite a bit of exploring on foot since I didn’t have too many wayshrines identified yet; went through Woodhearth and wound up ignoring Raz as I went past him, LOL; finally reached the survey locale near some shipwrecks
- Headed over to Auridon to run the next phase of the Main Quest
- Hit the Harborage to talk to Varen
- This let me finish up the still unfinished “The Tharn Speaks” quest, and Varen basically told me he and Tharn would work on finding where Sai Sahan was being held
- Unsurprisingly shortly after I exited the Harborage, a couple minutes later, Varen called me back
- So I went back in and found that Tharn had arrived, and he and Lyris were arguing about which of them was going to accompany me into Coldharbour
- Tharn gave Lyris shit about nursing a crush on “that shirtless mammoth”, a line which confused me until I realized he was actually talking about Sai Sahan
- And while I think Tharn is an interesting prickly bastard, I also think he’s a dick, and Gyllerah is crankier at him than she is at Lyris–so I took Lyris into Coldharbour with me
- Discovered Sai was being tortured via dopplegangers, one pretending to be Tharn, one pretending to be Lyris, and the Lyris doppleganger’s lines are what clued me in that Tharn’s line had been about Sai
- Lyris was appalled by this and swore up and down that Sai was just a friend, but she also clued in that she had some reflecting to do about her perceptions on that
- Took out the Tharn doppledanger (which was difficult, he killed me a couple of times)
- Moved on to taking out the Lyris doppleganger
- Had to activate some stones that were feeding her power; eventually she reverted to a scary Daedric form before we finally took her out
- Fought some dopplegangers of Varen before the Duchess of Anguish finally showed up to fight us directly
- She called in a flame atronach—which was blue, interestingly, not red and orange like they usually are elsewhere, apparently this is a cold-flame atronach?
- Finally took her out and freed Sai Sahan; Varen opened a portal for us to bail and escape
- Chatted with Varen and Sai for the epilogue, and Sai said he’d have to rest up before he could proceed to look for the Amulet of Kings
- Yet again, got the ping for the next phase of the quest line shortly after leaving the Harborage
- But this time I was done with Main Quest for now
- Got a skill point off of finishing both The Tharn Speaks and The Halls of Torment, so that let me get my woodworking up to 9
- Returned to Alinor
- Got the Daedric style page out of the Guild Bank so I could learn that style
- Tried to run writs, but didn’t have enough materials for everything
- In particular was short on runes, so decided to run an enchanter survey on Auridon
- This required me to hit a spot in the northern part of the island which turned out to be in the middle of the Torinaan ruins
- Talked to the priestess, Aldarch Colaste, and learned that the place had been corrupted by Daedra and needed cleansing; went in to take care of that problem for her
- Killed a bunch of scamps and clannfear
- Had to cleanse four shrine structures, each of which had two shrines inside, and the cleansing procedures were all different which made things interesting
- Found the runes by one of those shrine structures, then finished the quest by heading into the central shrine
- Colaste told me the Divines had further info for me–and I saw a vision of the Veiled Queen praying to Mehrunes Dagon to gain power
- Leveled up to 46 in the middle of cleansing the shrines, which got me another skill point, so I activated the miner hireling perk
- Finished up the pending previous round of writs, and took new writs to accommodate the new materials I got access to, and finished that round
- Started working on level 46 gear
- Got full set of Ancient Elf armor made, discovered I get different colors if I improve stuff, cool
- Lacked materials for weapons and shield though
- Logged off for the night
- Boinged to Auridon to try to run a woodworker survey to get additional mats for finishing up level 46 gear; found and looted survey locale
- Since I was on Auridon anyway, went to Mathiiesen for followup on the plot with the Veiled Heritance
- Had forgotten to check with appropriate NPC to be pointed at this plot, but bypassed that issue by just going straight to the place and finding Razum-dar
- Had to go talk to another agent of the Queen, but found her dead in her house
- Had to go hit up the forge for evidence, which required me to fight past some Heritance hostiles
- Raz then sent me over to search Canonreeve Malanie’s house, where I found a Veiled Heritance uniform
- Went into the guard barracks to get myself deliberately captured
- Raz broke me out, then I went to go take out Condalin
- Raz and I then went down into the Smuggler’s Tunnel under the city to confront Malanie
- Raz’s next instruction was to head to Skywatch to talk to Captain Tendil
- But for now I boinged back to Alinor
- Worked on inventory management and unlocked a new dye color after cooking a higher tier recipe
- Made remaining level 46 gear that I needed
- Logged off for the night
- Picked up in Alinor
- Writs weren’t ready, so boinged back to Vulkhel Guard to report in to the Harborage
- Spotted Cadwell hanging out in there!
- First goal was to talk to Sai Sahan about going to see his friend Kasura
- Varen opened a portal for us (all four of us, me, Lyris, Tharn, Sai) to the Valley of Blades–which was on FIRE
- A lot of Kasura’s students had been killed
- I had to destroy three sigil stones while the others fought Daedra sent in by Mannimarco
- We reached Kasura, who was wounded but not in danger of dying, and she led us to the crypt where the Ring of Stendarr’s Mercy was hidden
- Got in there only to have Mannimarco start raising Sai’s various dead ancestors, and boy howdy did that piss off Sai and Kasura
- So we had to fight all of their honored dead, and I did get killed a couple of times, but finally got out with the ring; the others stayed behind to help Kasura bury the dead and tend to her own wounds
- Returned to the Harborage and gave Varen the ring; he promised to ping me when the others returned
- I moved on to do some of the Ruthless Competition quest in the meantime, because I found where the Vulkhel Guard Outlaw Refuge was
- Went in and spoke to three different NPCs trying to get info on Margus; they all demanded I do favor quests for them, so went back out again to do that
- Found a Psijic portal and looted it
- Stole an Elegant Jacket out of Watch Captain Astanya’s now empty house (though I still had to pick the lock to get in)
- Went to the western side of the island and had to get a wamasu egg at Seaside Scarp Camp, which happened to be a group boss site; tried to fight the world boss but that was a mistake
- So instead snuck around from behind and got the egg that way
- Proceeded up to the west coast of the island; killed a few critters
- Found a shipwreck full of ghosts, the Wreck of the Raptor, but did not engage with it
- Returned to Bewan to find a missing assistant for the Outlaw Refuge black market NPC
- Ran most of that delve and killed the boss in there, got the achievement
- Found the assistant dead and recovered his sword
- Returned to the outlaw refuge; got the info the various NPCs promised
- Returned to Concordia to tell her what had happened
- She asked me if I’d help her go deal with the hideout where Margus was hiding; I agreed
- But first went back to Alinor to run writs
- Did all of them successfully and logged off for the night
About the pacing of the Main Quest
I am a little thrown off by how fast each phase of the Main Quest becomes available to you. Very distinct pattern of “the Prophet/Varen calls you to the Harborage to do a thing, you do the thing, Prophet tells you to go away for a little bit, and then three minutes later he calls you back to do the next thing.”
According to the wiki, prior to the One Tamriel update, the various stages of the Main Quest were level-dependent. But now, apparently, you can power through all those stages very quickly if you are so inclined. From an MMO mechanics standpoint, and really from a gaming mechanics standpoint in general, I kinda get it. It gives freedom to the player to play out these parts of the story whenever they’re ready.
But here’s the thing: every single part of the Main Quest I’ve done so far has been prompted by Varen telepathically contacting me and asking me to return to the Harborage to do the next thing. And this provokes two reactions out of me.
One: given the stakes of the Main Quest, it feels weird to me roleplay-wise to not drop everything I’m doing and come on back to the Harborage to do the next thing.
Two: It also feels weird to me that Varen delivers his next “come to the Harborage to do the next thing” pretty much right on the heels of you doing the last thing. Because I never have time to go off and do something else before I get pinged about the next stage of the quest. Not dropping everything and coming to answer the Prophet’s call makes more sense if I’m, say, on the other side of Tamriel doing something else. But if I literally just left the Harborage after doing the last thing, that doesn’t apply.
This was particularly weird this time after rescuing Sai Sahan, and that portion of the quest ending with the NPCs talking about Sai needing some time to recover from his torture. Likewise, when I ran the Valley of Blades, and Sai, Lyris, and Abnur all were going to stay at the abbey and help Kasura bury the dead. With both of these, as soon as I returned to the Harborage for the conclusion, getting that new ping from Varen to come back and do the next thing made the whole thing feel extremely rushed.
So it all comes off as “okay sure yeah this is an open world game and you can play things whenever you want, but the Prophet really really really wants you to come and do this thing now“. It makes no sense to me, RP-wise, that I’d be told “the others are going to stay in the Valley of Blades and help Kasura bury the dead, I’ll ping you when they’re back”… and to have that happen pretty much immediately. Because apparently they buried the dead very, very quickly?
It all ultimately contributes to my sense of time being non-existent in ESO, and to the whole overall reason why I made up the headcanon about Gyllerah being unstuck in time due to the Soulburst.
And like I said, I get it, they’re trying to let players play out the parts of this quest line whenever the hell they want. I don’t mind that, certainly. It’s just that the way the quest behaviors are implemented, they explicitly seem to encourage playing the quest as fast as possible. Which makes for a surreal RP experience for me personally as a player.
Rescuing Sai Sahan
The weirdness of the pacing I describe above isn’t helped, either, by a lot of the opening steps of the Main Quest being essentially the same:
- Getting yourself and the Prophet out of Coldharbour
- Returning to Coldharbour to rescue Lyris
- Returning to Coldharbour to rescue Abnur Tharn
- Returning to Coldharbour to rescue Sai Sahan
So not only am I displaced in time, at least through the first third of the Main Quest, I’m kind of in a loop. I keep wishing Gyllerah could have dialogue options to go “you couldn’t have told me to go rescue that person the last time I was in Coldharbour?”
Rescuing Sai Sahan, at least, allowed for a little bit more variety and character development, even if I take a bit of issue with what prompted that character development. Namely: that the Prophet had decreed that I could take only one companion with me into Coldharbour. It was not clear to me why exactly I could take only one person with me. No other plot I’ve done in this game that required opening a portal to a Daedric Prince’s realm limited the number of NPCs that could go through it–case in point, the various jaunts to Daedric realms in the Summerset plotline.
I would definitely have appreciated a bit more clarity on that, even if just an additional line from the Prophet saying something like “look, I’m old and tired and I can only muster enough energy for a portal strong enough to let you and one other person through.” Or, “Molag Bal is strong enough that I dare not open a portal powerful enough to send all three of you”. Maybe even a little of column A, a little of column B.
That said: that constraint made for highly amusing bickering between Lyris and Abnur. I was definitely confused about Tharn’s crack to Lyris about nursing feelings for “that shirtless mammoth”–because at first I thought that was a dig against me. I think my instinctive reaction there was because of being piqued about Morrowind assuming too often that the protagonist is male.
But I should have had a little more faith, because it soon became obvious that the “shirtless mammoth” in question was in fact Sai Sahan.
Now, I like Abnur as a character. He’s a prickly, sardonic bastard. In some ways, that makes him one of the most entertaining aspects of this quest and its set of major NPCs. But that said, he is a bastard, and Gyllerah doesn’t trust him. So even though Gyllerah’s still kind of smarting about being lied to re: the Prophet’s identity, she chose to take Lyris with her.
So back into Coldharbour we went. Which led to some interesting character dynamics, just because of the dopplegangers being used to torture Sai–and the reveal to Lyris, specifically, about the feelings she was harboring for him. She’d been in denial about this, and hearing her own doppleganger being all seductive at Sai knocked her out of that denial pretty hard. Those lines were in fact what clued me in that Tharn had been delivering a dig against Sai.
And despite my protests about the various rescue parts of this quest line being repetitive, I’ll cheerfully allow that this time through, the various dopplegangers and other beasties all put up a hell of a fight. The fight with the Duchess of Anguish, in particular, had a notable thing: she called in flame atronachs as backup, but they were blue, not the standard red and orange ones I’m accustomed to in all Elder Scrolls games. These are apparently cold-flame atronachs. Coooool.
After taking out the Duchess, we were able to get Sai Sahan freed and returned to the Harborage (which meant an extra person in the portal, so, see previous commentary re: why the hell couldn’t Tharn have also come with us?).
Cleansing the shrines
Took a Main Quest break to try to run an enchanter survey on Auridon, since I was short on appropriate runes for writ running. The particular survey I wanted to run, though, wanted to send me to a location called Torinaan, which turned out to be a holy site with shrines to the Divines in it. But which, as happens all too often anywhere in Tamriel, was overrun by Daedra that had corrupted the shrines.
When I showed up there, I found a priestess, Aldarch Colaste, standing next to a glowing golden barrier. Which alarmed me a little–was I going to have to run the local quest to get in there and get my runes? I was not clear on whether I could have gone through that barrier anyway; the wiki doesn’t say.
But as it happens, I was glad I actually ran the place. There were different steps necessary to clear all the shrines, which varied things up nicely.
What made this side quest real interesting, though, was the chaser after the shot: the Divines giving me a vision of the Veiled Queen, praying to Mehrunes Dagon, and committing her soul to him in order to gain power.
Shocker! The Veiled Queen is a Daedra worshipper! LOL. (I mean honestly, how many of the human antagonists anywhere in the Elder Scrolls franchise turn out to be Daedra worshippers? Too many for me to count easily, that’s for damn sure.)
Still, though, this was a tasty little piece of information. I’ll be interested to see if it comes up again as I proceed through the Aldmeri Dominion plot on Auridon.
Brief note about gear
All the skill points I hoovered up during Sunday’s play let me make advances on materials:
- For running writs, nightwood for wood, still at kresh/topgrain for clothing, but up to galatite for blacksmithing
- For gear I can use, fell hide for medium armor, ebonthread for light, yew for woodworking, ebony for heavy/weapons
Working on level 46 armor also taught me something useful to know: that I can trigger color differences by improving gear. Cool!
Back to the Veiled Heritance
Main action for Monday’s play was running Mathiisen, which required me to find Razum-dar. Apparently, when I’d finished up the plot at Tanzelwil, there was another NPC there who should have given me a pointer to do this. But I didn’t know that at the time! So I bypassed this whole problem just by going straight to looking for Raz myself.
And running this plot basically underscored the weirdness of playing things out of chronological order. Because this Razum-dar was a bit more standoffish than the Raz I worked with in the Summerset plot, and didn’t hesitate to drop a very strong hint that yes he was totally side-eying me and looking for any sign that I might betray the Queen.
He clearly does not register that I already helped him save Summerset! This is very distracting to Gyllerah, who likes Raz. And this kind of thing is exactly why I came up with the unstuck-in-time headcanon.
That said, this was still a nice little plot. Though it raises questions about how many other Eyes of the Queen Raz commanders to run around and do his work for him. 😉
Going after the Ring of Stendarr’s Mercy
Next up, continued with the Main Quest. This time, finally, I got to do something besides breaking into Coldharbour to rescue somebody!
This stage of the quest got to put Sai Sahan front and center, and I think I like this guy as a character. I do have to wonder if he actually owns any shirts, snerk. But I really liked his reverence for his ancestors, and it did not escape my attention either that he referred to Lyris as “Snow Lily”. So yeah, holding out for when those two crazy kids are going to fess up their feelings for each other.
Varen’s portal constraints clearly didn’t apply to the Valley of Blades, since he was able to send all four of us over there. At which point we discovered that the place was ON FIRE, because it’d been attacked by Daedra. Because of course it had.
We found a whole bunch of dead swordplay students, and a wounded but still functional Kasura. Kasura led us to the hidden crypt where the ring was stashed, which led to what I think is my favorite line out of Abnur Tharn so far:
Lyris Titanborn: “Why would a crypt need a secret entrance?”
Abnur Tharn: “It’s a wonder there’s an unplundered crypt in all of Skyrim! You Nords could learn a thing or two from the builders of Hammerfell.”
As many a Dragonborn has made their fortune plundering the crypts of Skyrim, I gotta say, nope, Abnur’s not wrong. 😀
Still though, Sai’s very explicit reverence for his Honored Dead made me avoid trying to peek into any of the urns in the place. When you’re accompanied by two well-armed Redguard warriors who have very strong opinions about the sanctity of their dead, particularly in a crypt where the entrance has been hidden to explicitly keep people the fuck out, looting stuff would just be rude.
And of course, since we were in a frigging crypt, this left us wide open to Mannimarco projecting in and raising each and every dead ancestor in the place to fight with us. Which pissed off both Sai and Kasura right good. And led to another great line from Tharn:
“The next time you hide something from the most powerful necromancer in all of Tamriel, you might reconsider hiding it in a bloody tomb!”
Again, he’s not wrong. 😀 And yeah, he’s a prickly bastard, but he’s an entertaining prickly bastard.
After a good brisk fight with the raised dead, we finally prevailed and I took the Ring of Stendarr’s Mercy back to Varen.
Ruthless Competition quest
And finally, I got in a bit of side questing, advancing that plot I picked up from Concordia about recovering Argonian antiquities. I hadn’t actively planned on doing this plot again yet. But after exiting the Harborage and derping around a bit just to explore, I located an entrance to the Vulkhel Guard Outlaw Refuge.
So since I was right there, I headed in to check the place out.
As this was my first peek into one of the outlaw refuges in ESO, I gotta say, my first immediate impression was “well, this is sure nicer than the Ratway in Riften”. 😀 And the loading screen when I entered the place even called out that this particular refuge, being run by a group that’s majority Altmer, was still haughty enough to try to keep the place looking as stylish as possible.
Nobody challenged me when I came in. And I just basically had to find and speak to three NPCs to hit them up for data about Margus, the NPC I was tasked with investigating. Not the slightest bit surprisingly, none of these NPCs were just going to hand me information for free. They all demanded that I do certain favors for them.
One of these was a little light thievery, as the NPC in question wanted me to steal her a certain elegant jacket in a certain house in Vulkhel Guard. I was going to be a little dubious about this until I discovered that the house in question belonged to Watch Captain Astanya. Who, y’all may recall, I have already dealt with.
So Gyllerah was basically all “well okay then”, and broke into the place. Heh. I suppose I’m a little surprised that the house was in fact still locked up, as opposed to, say, confiscated by the Queen as property having previously belonged to a traitor.
Getting the wamasu egg required me to go to Seaside Scarp Camp on the western shore of the island. Which turned out to be a group boss site, and there, I got my ass handed to me by the bandit chief and her bone colossus. Yikes.
Backup plan: dropping into sneak and coming around to the back of the place, where I could reach the nest without alerting the bandit. Whew.
Last, I went up the western coast of Auridon to the Bewan delve, which I’d visited before. I passed the Wreck of the Raptor on the way, which looked intimidating since it was large and surrounded by a bunch of ghosts. I’m glad I didn’t engage with it–because it was apparently also a group boss site, and there would have been more ass-handing there, I feel.
Favors accomplished, I returned to the outlaw refuge and got all the NPCs to fork over the information they’d promised. And that let me return to Concordia, who of course asked for my further help. I agreed.
But for later, because it was time to go run writs!
Legit not sure what I’ll be in the mood for next time I run Gyllerah, really. Something “not Main Quest”, but that could be the Aldmeri Dominion quest line, more on the Argonian antiquities thing, or even action for the Fighters or Mages Guilds, or the Psijic Order. We’ll see!