Harrowhark Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Harrowhark Speaks to the Augur of Dunlain and Journeys to Mzulft

Double session post, mostly featuring exploring a bunch of changes to the mage college thanks to the Immersive College of Winterhold mod. <3 But I also got in working on the side quests for the mage apprentices, retrieving the staff for Enthir (this time from Pinemoon Cave), and then raiding Faldar’s Tooth for the clue about finding the sword Bloodthirst. And I got the Augur of Dunlain to point me at the Staff of Magnus, and Mirabelle to point me at Mzulft for finding clues on its whereabouts!

Play by play

  • Play dates: 1/12, 1/15/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 20-21

Thursday’s play

  • Picked up at the College of Winterhold
  • Went exploring around the college some more while looking for Mirabelle
  • Looked around in the Lustratorium and the Subterrarium, those are neat
  • A whole extra lower floor in the Hall of Attainment as well, and I found work areas and cabinets where ingredients are stored
  • Discovered a bunch of the nifty new artifacts in the Arcaneum could give me XP 😀
  • Figured out how the ‘classes’ work in the Hall of the Elements: I park near one of the instructors while they’re all in there doing their various magic types, and the appropriate power increments
  • Leveled up to 28 that way; took a Health bump and Apprentice Alteration perk
  • Got all three other apprentices to give me their favor quests
  • Got Enthir to agree to give back Onmund’s amulet if I got the staff for him
  • Got J’zargo’s scrolls
  • Got Brelyna to ask me if I would help her practice spells, and she turned me green
  • Meanwhile found Mirabelle and asked her about the Augur
  • So went down into the Midden–which did look a bit different but not hugely so, yet, though I think I did notice an extra hallway that will need investigation later
  • Took out a couple of ice wraiths
  • Snapped out of being green partway through
  • Made it down to the Augur and had the “go get the Staff of Magnus” conversation with him
  • On the way back out the boys took out a draugr
  • Reported to the Arch-Mage that we needed the staff; he told me to talk to Mirabelle again
  • Found her on the upper floor of the Arcaneum and got her to tell me I needed to go to Mzulft
  • Got Brelyna to do the rest of her practice on me though that went weirdly with a whole crowd of NPCs around us, and not enough space in the Arcaneum to see the effects
  • Attempted to ride out from Winterhold and head south
  • Killed a couple of wolves that attacked a random farmer NPC near Whistling Mine
  • Then the damn game locked up and I had to restart
  • Take two leaving the college: attempted to ride to Shrine of Azura this time and return the Star, but the dremora inside it fried me; right then, not ready to take on Malyn Varen yet, need more fire resistance, possibly also my own dremora lord
  • Take three leaving the college: boinged to Lost Echo Cave, and rode to Pinemoon Cave to get the staff for Enthir
  • Looted a bunch of fly amanita, and took out a total of three vampires; got the staff and a glass bow and other loot
  • Boinged to Lakeview for some building of stuff
  • Gave Lucien a round of Archery training; also gave him the steel crossbow and bolts I was carrying around
  • Took some of the other gear off of him so I could sell it, and boinged to Whiterun to do that
  • Lost track of Valdimar? Tried to boing around a bit and find him; no sign of him in Whiterun or Lakeview
  • Tried to boing to mage college to see if he was stuck there somehow; no
  • But I gave Enthir back the staff and got Onmund’s amulet, which I gave back to Onmund
  • Tried to boing to Morthal to see if Valdimar was there; answer: no
  • Boinged next to Windhelm Stables thinking iId go ahead and go to Mzulft and see if Valdimar eventually caught up
  • Didn’t make it; got killed by sabre cat and thrown back to Morthal
  • Boinged back to Whiterun and decided to try to find Valdimar via the console
  • Got him to show up, but he was in a weird state that had him running right out the door as soon as I moved him to Breezehome
  • Grabbed a bunch of clothes and ingredients just so i could move them to Lakeview and consolidate my stuff
  • Tried again and this time I moved to him; found him running along the road just outside Whiterun
  • Game crashed before we could get very far
  • Tried once more, and this time got Valdimar to stop as soon as I reached Hjalte at the Whiterun stables and mounted up; that triggered Valdimar’s “blow horn and summon horse” action and he stopped running
  • Tried fast traveling to Lakeview then and all followers showed up
  • Valdimar had defaulted to his original armor though; doublechecked his inventory and found he was still carrying the studded dragonscale
  • Took it back from him and then gave it back to him so he’d equip it again
  • Saved at that point for the night

Sunday’s play

  • Picked up at Lakeview
  • Did a tiny amount of building and rearranging of things, and a bunch of alchemy to burn through ingredients
  • Saddled up with the boys and moved out
  • Cut through Helgen and took out assorted bandits
  • Got out of sight of the others so invoked assorted call and whistle and find commands to get everybody grouped back up
  • Proceeded on past Haemar’s Shame
  • Took out a couple of wolves just near Alchemist’s Shack, which had respawned, so I looted it
  • Single troll
  • Then another troll and a couple of goblins near Largashbur
  • Found the bridge that leads over to Goldenglow Estate; not sure if this is mod content or not, will need to doublecheck Kendis’ playthrough; mercenaries warned us off so I turned us around and we proceeded to Riften
  • Came in the back gate
  • Immediately saw guards take aim at a thief but I couldn’t find the body afterwards, oh darn
  • Did a little tanning at Balimund’s forge; then waited three hours for him to show up and gave him ten fire salts, because even if a vampire, I get in good with the smiths!
  • Sold a bunch of the potions I’d made to Elgrim, then stepped out to the stables
  • Fast traveled to stables just to put Hjalte at the stables properly, I think he was stuck at the back gate
  • Confirmed I could get a command to tell Hjalte that the current place is his home, will save that for later
  • Proceeded on foot to Faldar’s Tooth
  • Ran some of the place; killed just once, then made it to the pit fight room and found the note pointing at Broken Fang Cave for the Bloodthirst sword, more on this later
  • Looted assorted bandits on the way out
  • Valdimar made disapproving commentary about bandits, LOL; Lucien was rather more forgiving
  • Returned to Riften to pick up the horses
  • Rode north to Shor’s Stone; killed a bear on the way
  • Killed another bear past Shor’s Watchtower, and a couple more wolves shortly after
  • Made it to Mzulft
  • Got off the horse and saved there for the night

Immersive College of Winterhold mod changes

You guys, I think I adore the Immersive College of Winterhold mod. <3

It’s added a lot to the college. Not only visual changes–though just from a visual standpoint alone, the changes are pretty wonderful. There are entire new areas in multiple buildings, with a whole range of changes both small and large. There are new NPCs. And there are new ways all over the place for a student of the college to actually learn things.

I particularly like that in the Arcaneum, there is a collection of various artifacts you can examine that will give you bumps to various magic stats. And there are morning classes, where the various trainers (Faralda, Drevis, Phinis, Tolfdir, and Colette) show up in the Hall of the Elements and do demonstrations of their particular schools of magic. Just by standing near them while they’re doing that, you can get bumps to the relevant magic skill.

Part of me wants to object that this feels a little overpowered–it makes it suddenly a lot easier to level your magic skills. On the other hand, it makes showing up at the college actually useful above and beyond running its plot (which as y’all know, I’ve loved since the first time I played it). And it actually feels more in character to me to power level a magic skill this way than it does via a bunch of the other workarounds I’ve read up on for how to power level your magic stats. (Like, say, repeatedly casting Soul Trap at a corpse even though it’s long, long dead.)

The Lustratorium and Subterrarium are really neat. I love the idea that in Winterhold, an area which Survival Mode will have me believe is the absolute icebox of Skyrim, the mages would have set up dedicated greenhouse areas to tend to their stock of plants and mushrooms. And by extension, I love that this mod adds an alchemist to the college, because potion making should absolutely be included in what the college does. So that work absolutely needs an alchemist on the staff.

And I love that the mod adds in areas where staff and students would in fact be doing experiments. When you first join the college as an apprentice, Mirabelle outright warns you to keep the noise down in the Hall of Attainment, because experiments happen in there. This mod makes a place for those experiments to happen.

Inside the Hall of the Elements itself, there’s a new spiral staircase in the center of the training hall–which is where the Eye of Magnus winds up. Which makes me raise two questions:

  1. How exactly did they get the Eye into the middle of that staircase?
  2. The mages apparently don’t believe in railings for their staircases?

But that said, I really like that the staircase leads to an upper level with tables, which is where the mages gather for meals.

Between all this, the nifty changes to the Arch-Mage’s quarters, a quest I’m apparently going to get to do later called “the Fall of Winterhold”, and the ability to fix the fucking bridge once I become Arch-Mage, I’m really delighted with this mod. I’m very impressed by the level of effort and detail that’s gone into it!

And, heh, Inigo wins for best line overheard about the entire situation: “I smell education!” LOLOLOL.

Lucien gets second best line, paraphrasing here because I didn’t catch a full screenshot of the line, but this was in response to Mirabelle warning me that she doesn’t recommend going down into the Midden unless absolutely necessary: “Oh good, a cave! That sounds totally delightful, let’s go down there! What could possibly go wrong?”

When we did inevitably go down into the Midden, the place mostly looked the same. Most of the changes I noticed were due to other mods, I think, possibly Noble Skyrim or maybe one of the Rustic mods changing the overall look of the walls and such. But I also think I did notice an extra hallway? That’ll need investigation later, it might wind up being where this Fall of Winterhold quest might be.

Raiding Pinemoon Cave

Here I am on my seventh and eighth consecutive Skyrim playthroughs, and yet I’d never been in Pinemoon Cave before! I have exactly one prior post from Merawen’s playthrough with this location tagged, and I’d said at the time that I’d found the place but not engaged with it. And apparently I never mustered enough giveadamn to check the place out in any playthrough since.

This time though, I had to head in there for Enthir’s staff. Notable things about the place were: a) vampires, and b) a whole lot of patches of fly amonita.

And yet another vampire lair that’s a gruesome mess. I think Harrow was explicitly appalled by this, and all the more determined to not let herself sink to that level if she can avoid it.

Weird behavior with Valdimar

Right about when I boinged to Whiterun from Lakeview, so I could sell stuff, I had a round of very weird behavior with Valdimar. Lost track of him, and could not get him to show up no matter what location I fast traveled to.

This led to some fits and starts as I describe in the play by play above, as I tried to figure out what to do next, whether I wanted to RP some more, or figure out where the hell my housecarl had gotten to.

Ultimately I opted for the latter, and returned to Whiterun to try to invoke the debug console. This required me shutting down the game on the Deck and shifting over to my VM–because while I can invoke the console on the Deck, actually using it with a small amount of screen space and the onscreen keyboard is awkward. I wanted the bigger and more legible screen of the VM.

The first thing I had to do was figure out what Valdimar’s refID in the console was. Once I did that, I tried these commands:

prid 0300521D
moveto player

This brought Valdimar back to me in Breezehome, but with two immediate weird effects:

  1. He’d reverted to his default armor
  2. He ran right out of Breezehome and out of Whiterun for no apparent reason

I tried this a couple of times with the same result. Then I tried to do the opposite, move me to him. This required this command:

player.moveto 0300521D

That plunked me out on the road near the Western Watchtower, where I saw Valdimar running to the west. I thought to follow him and see where the hell he thought he was going, because I was legit curious. But I never got the chance; the damn game crashed on me.

So finally what actually worked was to try to move me to Valdimar one more time. But this time, once I got outside Whiterun, I stopped to get on my horse to see if that’d let me keep up with him better. And as soon as I did that, that triggered his follower “get on the horse” code from Convenient Horses. Which broke him out of whatever weird loop he got into.

I have no earthly idea what caused this, either. If it’s a matter of some combo of the mods I’m running, or if Valdimar himself has some kind of weird bug, or what. This is the first time I’ve actually tried having Valdimar as a follower for any significant length of time, so I don’t know!

Why he reverted to his default armor, don’t know that either. But I discovered he’d simply unequipped the dragonscale; he still had it in his inventory. Which was good, because I’d have been pissed if I’d have lost access to that armor set! So I made him re-equip it. I will probably take it back from him at some point, but right now, I’m still more interested in the Hedge Mage Armor.

(Maybe I’ll headcanon it that Valdimar explicitly gives the armor back to her once she cures her vampirism. Because cleansing of the Dragonborn, and all.)

The problems of having a follower group

I’m starting to feel like having a party of three heavily armed followers, not counting any summons I do, feels like a bit too much. And one of the problems with this is that Lucien and Inigo both have their own custom ways for me to keep track of them, which I’m not used to having to think about.

Lucien has a dwemer-style sphere he gave me to trigger a quest marker on him so I can find him. Inigo on the other hand just outright marked his location on my map, and gave me a whistle command to call him. I kind of wish I had a whistle for Lucien, too.

(And for that matter, Vilja had the horn she gave me to call her, as well as the various other horns that were supposed to trigger various ways of communicating with her.)

I feel like keeping track of all these various followers would go easier if I had a standardized way to call all followers and get them back to me. A quick peek on Nexus tells me that there are multiple follower framework mods, so maybe in the future I should look into one of those? But I’ll need to think about it. I’m enjoying the novelty of a large group right now, but I suspect I really prefer the mobility and freedom of boinging around Skyrim by myself, or at most with a single follower. We’ll see how this opinion holds as this playthrough proceeds.

Now mind you, I know about Amazing Follower Tweaks already, and I did look at that mod–but got a little put off by some of the screenshots on it, and by the idea of making your followers pose and dance. That felt too much like treating them like your own personal collection of toys, rather than actual people.

Running Faldar’s Tooth

Knowing what I know about Faldar’s Tooth now as a result of Kendis’ run, doing a partial run of the place with Harrow felt surprisingly short. I only did enough of the place to get to the pit fight room and get the note that points off to Broken Fang Cave.

I was amused, though, by Valdimar getting all sententious about how bandits were “the lowest of the low, preying on their countrymen for profit.”

My dude, that’s rich coming from somebody whose thane is a) the future Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, and b) a frigging vampire. 😉

Lucien, on the other hand, got in a giggleworthy line about how he’d be a rubbish bandit because he’s far too polite. LOL.

A couple more thoughts about Convenient Horses

So far, very, very pleased I installed Convenient Horses.

I’m not a hundred percent a fan of the “call your horse with a horn” mechanic. Just because it makes the horse actually materialize beside you, rather than have it come running up to you. I kind of feel like I’d prefer to see the horse running over. But I think this may be because I’m trying to assume that the horn used to call the horse is not magical. If it is, then actually teleporting the horse to you makes a little more sense.

But if the horn is supposed to be magical, I also feel like I’d like a little more detail there to make it feel like it fits better into the lore. Because if there exist magic spells that can teleport an entire frigging horse to you from anywhere else it might have run off to, how does that work exactly? And why can’t you use it to teleport, say, yourself?

And how does the horn know to get your horse? Did you have to have the horn enchanted to attune itself to your specific horse? Is there some sort of a glyph on the horse’s gear? Or a brand on the horse itself?

What if you start riding a different horse? Do you have to re-attune the horn? Or could you wind up with a bunch of different horns all pointing at different horses?

And yes yes, sure, this is one of those “you should really just relax” situations. 😉 But this is what happens when my writer brain latches onto a thing it isn’t getting enough detail about!

And I’ll say this: having the horse be able to carry some of my gear for me is super helpful. Just before logging off at Mzulft, I stuck some of my less critical stuff into the horse’s sack, just to get the carry weight down some more. I can foresee myself taking a lot of advantage of this in the future.

Definitely pleased as well that the mod allows me to tell a horse that the spot we’re in should be considered its home. Next time I return to Lakeview I’ll need to do that with Hjalte just so he knows to return there, once I eventually change horses.

(Because I will totally be getting the unicorn later. Just because I giggle at the mental picture of a vampire riding a snow-white unicorn. LOL.)

A really interesting little character line from Inigo

While we were riding to Riften, Inigo and Lucien got into a conversation about Inigo’s parents. And one thing stood out to me: that Inigo described them as assassins and as good people.

This says all sorts of interesting things about Inigo’s background. But it also gives me food for thought for Harrow, and a way to actually nudge her to run the Dark Brotherhood. Because if she’s hanging out with people that can accept that someone with a super shady profession can also be a good person, I think that’d make her a little more inclined to actually join the Brotherhood when the time comes.

And since I’m running the Dark Brotherhood for Good Guys mod, that ties into this very nicely.

Next time

Gonna run Mzulft, since Team Dragonborn is now parked there. And then I’ll probably stop at Windhelm to inform Aventus that Grelod is dead. Which should set up the opportunity for Astrid to come after me later.

I wonder if she can kidnap me out of a tent? Or do I need to be sleeping in a bed? Will my boys follow me to the Abandoned Shack? We’ll find out!


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.