In the name of having Kendis not completely duplicating what I’m doing in Harrow’s playthrough, I decided to take a page from Delga’s earlier book and have Kendis sign up to fight for the Empire. I also had her go ping the Bards College to sign up with them. One of these things did not go very well for her.
Play by play
- Play date: 1/16/2023
- Session number in this run: 21
- Picked up at Lakeview; did a general resources check
- Racked the glass sword I had on me, because it still wasn’t matching the Skyforge Steel axe for damage
- Rode over to Whiterun
- Sold things to Ri’saad since Khajiit were on site; did a little shopping inside the city as well
- From there rode to Hendraheim
- Passed Imperial trio on the way
- Killed a bunch of wolves
- Stopped at the puzzle ruin near what would be Barleydark Farm if I were running the Cutting Room Floor mod; ran the puzzle and looted the chest underneath the trap door
- Reached Hendraheim; did a resource check and gathered a bunch of food; slept the night
- Rode next to Goldenhills
- Picked up profits from Golldir, 8000+ gold, fuck yeah
- Did another resource check and harvested some leeks for soups and stews
- Proceeded from there through Rorikstead
- Took out re-spawned crossroads bandits
- Avoided Robbers Gorge by swinging around to the west of it, then onward to Dragon Bridge and Solitude
- Bought a better Alchemy circlet at Radiant Raiment, also a Ring of Remedy
- Tried to get the quest to go get Noster’s helmet but I couldn’t get the prompt off of him? I don’t think I ran that with Kendis yet…
- Sold bandit loot to Sayma
- Went over to the Bards College to tell them I wanted to join up and get the quest to hit Dead Men’s Respite
- Then went up to Castle Dour to check in with General Tullius and Legate Rikke and volunteer to join up; Rikke gave me the quest to go clear Fort Hraggstad
- Rented a room at the Skeever to rest up
- Got up the next morning, retrieved Lightning, and rode over to try to clear the fort; this did not go well
- NEW PLAN! Pulled a retreat from where i’d attempted to drop a campsite, and instead rode down to Dead Men’s Respite
- On the way, remembered oh hey I should get Meeko, which was successful, so apparently my animal follower slot was able to take him, yay
- Killed more wolves heading into the barrow
- Ran the barrow fairly quickly
- Partway through running it, got the level up alert for 29
- Got the ruby dragon claw, got the verse
- Followed the ghost of Svaknir into the boss chamber
- Cue shooting a bunch of draugr! And letting Svaks take on Olaf, mostly 😉
- Fuck yeah ebony sword \0/
- Got the word for Whirlwind Sprint off the wall, and got some tasty loot out of the boss chest
- Exited the barrow and dropped a campsite to sleep and get warm
- Got up in the morning to ride back to Solitude, again avoiding Robbers Gorge
- Reached Solitude and did some improving on the ebony sword
- Rearranged what weapons Lyds was carrying, and improved her ebony battleaxe for her as well
- Rented a room at the Skeever again
- Took enough of a nap to take the level up to 29; took Stamina bump and additional One-handed perk to up my damage output
- Saved there for the night
Trying and failing to clear Fort Hraggstad
This time through, getting the quest to run Dead Men’s Respite from the Bards College went a little roughly. Viarmo nabbed me for the dialogue as soon as I walked in the door, but that meant I was right by the door, so assorted other NPCs kept getting right up in my face as they were trying to leave. Which made it hard to see Viarmo! But at least I got the quest.
Then I went over to Castle Dour, intending to go ahead and sign on with the Empire and run the Civil War. I got to the point of Legate Rikke giving me the assignment to clear Fort Hraggstad by way of a test–though this time through, I noticed her dialogue actually called it “Fort Hraagstad”.
Regardless of how to spell it, I had gotten the idea into my head that clearing Fort Hraggstad was going to be easy. And the reason for this is, when I went over there to it as Delga back in her playthrough, I wrote at the time that I had no issues with it.
But here’s the thing: Delga ran that fort at level 36. As of Kendis’ attempt to hit Hraggstad, she was level 28.
I’d said in Delga’s post that the bandits there weren’t leveled, and I need to clarify that, too. Because bandits are leveled… to a point. Regular bandits cap out at level 25. Bandit chiefs cap out at level 28.
Which means that when Kendis hit that fort, she and Lydia had to go up against a bunch of bandits that were all pretty close to them, level-wise. Whereas Delga had built up enough of a buffer that she had no issues charging through the place.
But even aside from the level problem, there were other issues in play. Since this is Survival Mode, I also had to contend with the weather. It started snowing when I hit the road that leads to the fort, and the air rapidly got to “frigid” and even “treacherously cold” status. I got cold very quickly, and my health bar responded accordingly. Which made me squishier than I really should have been, trying to fight that large group of bandits at the fort.
All of which adds up to, I will probably not be able to do the same frontal assault on the place that Delga did in her playthrough, certainly not without racking up more levels first. I may need to cut around to the back of the place and sneak in, and take out the bandits one or two at a time.
Not really the Companion way, but hey, until I can actually conjure me a dremora lord, I am not above being sneaky!
Particularly if I’m trying to clear out a fort in a snowy icebox area, where the weather is going to work against me.
Trying and succeeding to clear Dead Men’s Respite
So I fell back to a backup plan: running Dead Men’s Respite instead.
On the way over to that, I remembered I wanted to try to get Meeko, to see if my animal follower slot was fucked up from having lost the Stray Dog earlier. Answer: no! Or at least, I was able to take Meeko, which I think is supposed to clear up any problems with the slot being taken.
So now I have Meeko as a doggy follower. Which might help offset problems like, say, being swarmed by too damned many bandits.
Running Dead Men’s Respite, anyway, went a lot better. I got through there pretty quickly, and was able to elude the swinging blades trap, which certainly saved time.
And I got the main thing I wanted out of there: Olaf’s ebony sword! Which, hopefully, I can make be better than the Skyforge Steel axe I’ve been using. I really need to be doing more damage now.
I’m still in Solitude, so I’ll fix the Bards College festival! Then get the “fetch an instrument” quests queued up, and probably head down to Halldir’s Cairn first since that’ll be the one I can get to quickest without having to hit freezing territory. Then I’ll swing from there through Riften, and aim my way up to Stony Creek Cave… and Mzulft!
Then hit the mage college to follow up on the Staff of Magnus, which should queue up the slaying of the Arch-Mage… and then I can swing over to Hob’s Fall Cave for the flute.
This ought to take the next two or three sessions, given that I’ll need to ride overland the whole way!
Editing to add
- 11/25/2023: Restored missing gallery.