Ganniwer Playthrough,  Oblivion

In Which Ganniwer Solves a Merchant Problem

Hey, remember that playthrough I started in Oblivion? Well, I finally nudged it a little further along in this session! Main action: checking out the Imperial City, and running a minor plot there involving a problematic merchant and where he’s getting his inventory from.

Play by play

  • Play date: 3/10/2023
  • Session number in this run: 4
  • Picked up at Fort Ash
  • Rode east-ish into the Imperial City
  • Don’t like how horses work so far in this game 😛
  • Fought a bandit on the way to the city
  • Left the horse by the stable just outside the city
  • Explored the city; found the market district and started selling my stuff
  • Found a shopkeeper named Jensine who complained about another merchant, Thoronir, undercutting everybody else with his prices and not joining their organization of merchants
  • Went to go check the guy out
  • Spent a couple of nights game time trying to follow him
  • Also found a little garden right behind the building that has his store; there was a grate down into the sewers, but that didn’t look like a useful way to explore
  • Followed Thoronir around at night a bit, but he didn’t trigger the conversation I was supposed to see him have; realized after consulting the wiki that I needed to question him specifically about his inventory
  • He refused to say where he got his stuff from, but that got me the objective to trigger the conversation with Agarmir, which did indeed happen in that little garden
  • Listened to the whole thing while in Sneak, which got me the objective to go follow Agarmir
  • Found his house in the Talos Plaza district, and had to wait for a time frame when he wasn’t in the house to break in
  • Got into his house after a lockpicking attempt only to get cornered by guards–because apparently I got spotted? DOH
  • Paid my 5 gold bounty much to the guard’s disgust, he apparently wanted me to resist arrest
  • Second time through, got in correctly
  • Got down into the basement and found the suspicious book with a manifest of recently dead people
  • Went back to talk to Thoronir to clue him in on Agarmir’s shady AF source of goods
  • Thoronir was legit shocked about this, to his credit, and he agreed to help me take the guy out
  • Got the pointer to follow Agarmir into a family crypt
  • Found him and an armored and armed associate in there–laying a trap for me! They killed me a few times before I got the hang of using my potions and a healing spell
  • Finally took them both out, and got Debaser, an enchanted weapon, off of Agarmir
  • Also snurched an elven mace with a valuable enchantment on it
  • Couldn’t take all the loot I wanted, because Oblivion doesn’t let you move when you’re overloaded, same as Morrowind
  • Tried to go back to the market district, only to realize fuck, I’d left behind the shovel I needed to get
  • Dropped a couple of items in the empty tree trunk in the garden, and went back for the shovel and a couple more loot items I’d left behind
  • Returned to Thoronir to present him the shovel as evidence
  • He gratefully gave me an enchanted ring, and swore he’d donate all his recent profits as well as the filched items to the temple, and that he’d join the merchant society
  • Quest resolved, yay!
  • Sold the loot, including the enchanted weapons, and got repair hammers to fix my gear
  • Saved for the night

Horses in Oblivion

Really, really not a fan so far of how horses work in this game. I noticed this the last time I tried to play Ganniwer, and it came up again here, too. Turning my horse in Oblivion definitely feels like turning a tank, and it doesn’t feel nearly as smooth as it does in Skyrim.

I had thought that Oblivion handled horse movement differently, in terms of just manipulating the horse with the left stick. But I was definitely mistaken in that; I doublechecked Skyrim, and it works the same way there.

So this seems to be explicitly a matter of the slow turn speed on horses. I’ve poked around Nexus a bit and saw multiple mods that say they address this problem by improving horse speed. I may need to nab one of these, to see if that’ll convince me to want to keep using a horse in Oblivion.

I will have to do some research into appropriate mods, though. I find the move speed of horses to be prohibitively draggy, too. Ideally, a mod to fix this horse issue would not only fix turning speed, but movement speed in general.

And speaking of janky movement speeds

Not a fan either of how just moving my character around on foot is janky, either. Character movement in Oblivion seems to be closer to what it’s like in Morrowind, rather than what it’s like in Skyrim or ESO. But in the newer games, I’m pretty much accustomed to moving at running speed all the damn time. Oblivion and Morrowind seem to expect you to move at walking speed.

This may be something I can correct on the Deck, though. My left stick is, I think, automatically sending a Shift if I hit the outer edge of the well it sits in. I will need to fiddle with this in both Oblivion and Morrowind, and see if I can fix this problem.

The Imperial City

My goal for this session was not terribly ambitious: just going to the Imperial City, finding out where its shops were, and selling as much of the loot I acquired to start building up a gold balance.

Getting into the city wasn’t hard, aside from it being awkward to ride the horse I got from the priory. There was at least a stable right outside the city, so I was able to ditch the horse there.

I spent a good bit of time just wandering around the place, checking it out. Not surprisingly, the architecture struck me as very Roman in style. So did the armor on the various guards wandering around the place.

I found the layout of the place simultaneously interesting and confusing. Interesting because the city had a very definite circular structure to it–and confusing, because as with certain places in Morrowind, there’s definitely a kind of general sameness to the architecture all over the place in this city. It made it a trifle difficult for me to keep track of where the hell I was.

That said, I really did like that there were a whole bunch shops, way more than I’m accustomed to seeing in Skyrim. It felt like there were even more shops in the Imperial City than I’m used to seeing in Morrowind, for that matter. But that kind of makes sense–this is, after all, the seat of an Empire.

I didn’t investigate this in depth, but I was pleased to see signs for the Black Horse Courier–which turned out to be a newspaper. So apparently the idea of a newspaper exists in this game! Which raises interesting questions of whether newspapers exist in any other game. They certainly don’t in Skyrim. I haven’t seen any sign of them in Morrowind or ESO yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there!

I found the Tiber Septim Hotel, but was surprised to learn that it wanted to charge me forty gold to rent a room, rather than the ten I’m used to in Skyrim. After looking on the wiki, though, I discovered that the city does have other inns you can stay in for ten gold. Apparently I just happened to choose the city’s most expensive inn first. Lucky, lucky me!

Unfriendly Competition quest

This was the bulk of this play session, kicked off by my getting a particular conversational topic going with the merchant Jensine. She had some tart words to say about a fellow merchant, Thoronir, and how he’d been undercutting all the other merchants in the city. Also, gasp, he had declined to join their organization of merchants!

I feel like Ganniwer, who did literally just escape from prison and is still very shaken about the whole “first hand witness to the death of the Emperor” thing, had a hard time mustering any fucks to give about a dispute between merchants. But on the other hand, she can see the logic of trying to get in good with the local merchants–because she does have the goal of needing to get that amulet to Martin Septim.

And in order to do that, she needs travel money, and probably better gear. So she grudgingly settled in to try to solve this merchant problem as quickly as she could, just in the name of being able to get some gold to work with.

As starting quests go, this was actually pretty good. Basic little bit of intrigue since I had to follow a couple of characters and do some eavesdropping. I found the garden where I had to spy on the conversation quickly enough. What took me longer, though, was realizing that I had to explicitly ask Thoronir about his inventory before that conversation would trigger at all. So I wasted a couple of in-game nights trying to follow the guy, only to never have him show up in the garden. Had to finally clue myself in by checking the wiki about this.

Once I did trigger that conversation, it was kind of hilarious how close I had to get to Thoronir and Agarmir to actually see their conversation playing out. I’d thought to protect myself by hiding behind a nearby bush, in the name of trying not to be explicitly fucking obvious that I was crouching right nearby listening to what they were saying. But that, as it turned out, wasn’t good enough. I had to get closer to them than that for the conversation to trigger.

So apparently neither of them were particularly alert, if they completely frigging missed the Bosmer chick crouching nearby, just out of arm’s reach. (Though you can make an argument that Agarmir just didn’t let on that he saw me, based on how he did trap me later!)

After that, I had to do a little light breaking and entering–which, heh, also let me get some experience with getting caught by guards. I was particularly amused that the guard was pissed that I paid my bounty.

Sorry to disappoint you, asshole! I just got out of that jail, I’m not inclined to go right back in. You’ll have to take my five gold and like it. And where I am going is right back into that house! I have a job to do. Wait, did I say that out loud?

Important takeway here for Future Me: when sneaking in Oblivion, I need to watch for the sneak eye to remain translucent. This is not how it works in Skyrim, where the eye opens all the way if somebody’s detected me. But in Oblivion, if the eye actually fills in, I’m fucked.

And at any rate, once I got into Agarmir’s basement and found the suspicious manifest of recently dead people, I was able to go back to Thoronir and be all, “So yeah, did you know your contact is totally selling you stuff robbed off of dead people?”

(It would be appropriate to point out here that player characters all over the entire Elder Scrolls franchise are looting dead people constantly. And apparently that’s okay as long as you’re not looting any actual in-city Halls of the Dead where people have died recently? Ancient corpses, rob the fuck out of ’em, fair game! But recent corpses? Oh my no. That just won’t do. LOL.

Dara pointed out that when the player character does it, it’s always corpses that have no living relatives, either. ;D)

Thoronir, to his credit, was legit shocked by this. And I have to admit I was surprised that the plot went that way! I wasn’t expecting the guy to have a change of heart. So apparently his morals were a trifle flexible, but not that flexible.

Which brings me to the part where Agarmir apparently clued in to my having been on his tail!

Because I wound up following him to a family tomb in the city–and discovered that he and a well-armed associate were lying in wait for me, with plans to actually kill me and bury me in said tomb.

They were a challenging fight. I didn’t clear level 2 in this session, so I was kind of outmatched in terms of gear. Agarmir himself had an enchanted blade that did damage to my Willpower and Endurance. And his associate had iron gear, so arguably he was better prepared than me for the fight, with my being all outfitted in leather.

So they killed me a few times, before I got the hang of using my healing potions and the healing spell I have.

Of course, at that point, what did I do but rob the tomb. Because the wiki did say there was a valuable elven mace hiding behind one of the bodies!

Got a little stymied by Oblivion having the same thing Morrowind does, not letting you move when overloaded. So I couldn’t get out of the tomb with everything I wanted to carry. But as it happened, I had to hit the tomb again anyway, because the one critical thing I needed to get out of it was Agarmir’s mud-covered shovel. So I hit the place in two waves to get that shovel as well as the various loot items.

And was then able to sell everything, including the enchanted weapons, for a decent amount of coin. And get the quest resolved with Jensine, and a reward off of that! And an enchanted ring from Thoronir as well.

Next time

Not entirely sure yet. I’ve been poking around on the Oblivion sections of the wiki, trying to get a sense of good low-level quests to try next. Options I’ll be considering include:

  • Mages Guild
  • Fighters Guild
  • Maybe the Arena? I don’t know how many fucks I have to give about this but it might be a way to get through the next couple of levels, I dunno?
  • The Zero Visibility quest seems necessary, just for the sake of getting a free place to sleep? Helps that it seems pretty damned easy

Also, I’ll install this horse mod, as it looks like one that accomplishes what I want to do, and has been updated in the last couple of years.

And I’m going to take another crack at the Character Overhaul mod, just because I’m finding the default potato-y head shapes for characters very distracting.


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.