Harrowhark Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Harrowhark Takes a Moonpath to Elsweyr

Double session post, featuring as its primary action running the Moonpath to Elsweyr mod! Picoreview: found it flawed but enjoyable! And after visiting Elsweyr, I followed up on the Dark Brotherhood contract from Muiri in Markarth, and ventured into Arkngthamz.

Also, unfortunately, I’ve decided to have to punt Inigo out of my playthrough. Commentary on this below.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 4/1, 4/4/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 56-57

Saturday the 1st

  • Picked up just outside Whiterun after having talked to the Khajiit
  • Boinged to Riften to check in with Tonilia; got her payment for giving the moon sugar to Ri’saad, and sold her a few items out of my inventory
  • Went topside and did some fishing; caught a goldfish finally to give to Mila
  • Returned to Whiterun so I could do that
  • Decided I was now in the mood to run Moonpath to Elsweyr
  • Boinged to Falkreath to talk to the caravan, and got permission to travel with them
  • Stopped a couple of times, once to kill bandits (and a hyena or two), and once to find a way around a collapsed bridge
  • Dropped off in the Tenmar Jungle
  • A tribe of Pahmar apparently was expecting me? So the caravan dropped me off in the Tenmar Jungle at a hideout the Pahmar ceded to me
  • Greeted by an NPC named Yura, who introduced me to the place and clued me in that the hideout had been given to me, and that she’d been sent by Ameir to welcome me
  • Went to go find Ameir and say hello
  • Did a lot of running around between various areas; killed a lot of Jungle Queen spiders, elder ones and hatchlings; also blue velociraptor looking things, zahilisks
  • Met a few quadrupedal Pahmar at the hideout, acting as guards
  • Said hi to Ameir but didn’t have any particular result from that conversation
  • Spoke to Aleyt to learn more about the Pahmar; learned from her that the Pahmar honored me by allowing me to live in their jungle
  • Found Erid’or who refused to talk to me unless Mervar trusted me, so went to go find Mervar
  • Which led me to also have to talk to Qa’mel, who was just down the stairs from Mervar
  • Qa’mel basically said “go back and tell Mervar not to be an idiot”
  • Qa’mel also clued me in that the locals were rebelling against the Thalmor, so went back up to talk to Mervar
  • Mervar sent me to find his twin, Dervar, which resulted in having to help fight a Thalmor patrol
  • Dervar sent me back to check in with Mervar once the patrol was taken out
  • Mervar clued me in that the Thalmor had a frigging airship, which they landed at Pillar Falls
  • Went to Pillar Falls and attacked a Thalmor patrol at the airship; got the captain’s orders and a reference to Justiciar Lenial
  • Went back to report to Mervar, who asked me to speak to Khulan back at my hideout
  • On the way, stopped to talk to Erid’or, who would in fact now talk to me; he sent me over to the Tenmar Cathedral
  • Found another Pahmar there called Silkskin, who pointed me at the burial site where the Sload was hanging out
  • Silkskin had a line about hunting Sload together, but then claimed to not be able to go to the spot “in anger”, so very strange definition of “together”, I feel
  • Located the Sload, but had trouble talking to him because he kept moving around quickly enough that I couldn’t get the A prompt to come up
  • Once I did, he ranted about being hungry and demanded I bring him his dinner or else he’d totes unleash a plague
  • Returned to Erid’or to check in; he asked me to bring him Jungle Queen venom and hyena meat, to poison the Sload; had the venom, but not the meat
  • Returned to the hideout to talk to Khulan, and discovered I now actually owned the Waning Moon airship? Khulan told me I’d “Shouted it down from the sky”
  • Went with Khulan and the airship to a caravan supply post in desert territory
  • Fought another Thalmor patrol
  • Inigo ran into battle yelling about “a chance to prove my honor” and then “Talos is amazing! na na na na na!” LOLOLOL! Way to go, Inigo XD
  • Fought off the Thalmor and talked to the supply post leader Jelikirr
  • Fought a couple of siligonders, and discovered they are where the siligonder chitin armor I can apparently make comes from?
  • Killed a couple of hyenas and got meat for Erid’or’s quest
  • Did a second round of fighting with Thalmor, which let me get at Lenial’s logbook
  • Returned to the airship and tried to return to the Tenmar Jungle, but got boarded mid-air!
  • (Which the mod didn’t exactly portray clearly, I only know we were in mid-air because the mod’s text dialogues said so, but still, pretty cool fight!)
  • Took out Justiciar Lenial and returned to the hideout
  • Got next directive from Khulan to rescue Jo’ran, a senior mage of the rebel New Elsweyr movement
  • Took the ship to a new location, Topal Sea Pirate Base, to fight off Argonian bandits
  • Jo’ran appreciated the rescue but decided to stay in the place; Khulan sent his apprentices to him to claim and hold it
  • We went back later to check on them
  • Did a bit of playing around with crafting stations
  • Saved for the night

Tuesday the 4th

  • Picked up where I left off in Elsweyr
  • Couldn’t figure out how to get the quest for inspecting the base to resolve
  • Returned to the hideout so I could run the quest to take out the Sload
  • Gave Erid’or the venom and hyena meat; he sent me back to the Sload to give him the poisoned meat
  • Emerged from the lair and talked to Silkskin to find the infected animal the Sload was going to use to unleash his plague; turned out to be an infected zahilisk
  • Killed that, and finally got the directive to actually go take out the Sload–which was not difficult, given my ability to summon a dremora, not to mention having Inigo and Lucien; we killed him and his shade servants very quickly
  • Returned to Erid’or to report in and resolve the quest
  • Returned then to my hideout and took the airship back to the island base, on the theory that if I talked to Jo’ran, maybe i would resolve that quest that way? Answer: yes!
  • Resolved the quest, then chatted with Jo’ran some about whether the Thalmor would ever find their base
  • Learned that Khulan was apparently flying the Waning Moon telepathically? Not sure I buy this, canonically speaking, but more on this below
  • Also chatted a bit about the Khajiit language, though that dialogue turned into kind of a “who’s on first” conversation, snerk
  • There didn’t seem to be anything else to do on the island, so I returned to the hideout, with intent to return to Skyrim
  • (Saw signs on the mod’s forum posts pages that there was apparently a side quest at the caravan trading outpost to get some kind of armor, but I didn’t have quite enough giveadamn to go after it, wanted to return to main Skyrim play)
  • However, the game kept crashing every time I got near the door back to Skyrim, WTAF
  • Finally jumped over to the VM and got it to work there, which let me return to Skyrim, and specifically right at the gate to Falkreath
  • Got courier with the note from Mila for the second goldfish
  • Returned to Lakeview for inventory managing
  • I’d leveled up to 57 in the previous Elsweyr session, but never took the perk point; did that here, took a bump in Enchanting
  • Made better carry weight jewelry
  • Boinged to Markarth and sold a bunch of stuff to Endon
  • Found Muiri and talked to her about her assassination contract; wow, she’s bitter
  • Harrow’s down with killing bandit scum but not killing a daughter of an already grieving family even if Muiri is pissed at them–but hey, Muiri explicitly said it was not part of her contract, so
  • Headed out from Markarth to go hit Arkngthamz finally
  • Got an Elder Dragon attack on the way, before reaching Dushnikh Yal
  • Took out the dragon as well as a bear, but that also made the horses run off
  • Sond and Bottar, the kids with the map pointer to Deep Folk Crossing, showed up; let them sell me the mark for my map
  • Hoofed it from there because didn’t want to bother to find the horses that immediate moment, or call Hjalte back over
  • Discovered Dushnikh Yal for the map; no sign of orcs inside, so will have to worry about being declared Blood-Kin later
  • Saw hunters near Arkngthamz; one of them kept yelling “that’s close enough” but not sure if he was yelling that at us? Because he was definitely trying to take potshots at an elk
  • Didn’t bother either of the hunters
  • Tried whistling for Hjalte just outside the door to Arkngthmaz but I think i was too far away?
  • Got a helluva view for screenshots from there though!
  • Ran Arkngthamz quickly, no difficulties encountered
  • Inigo was the follower stuck on the pipe this time, but I was able to retrieve him when I went back for him
  • He and Lucien did stick with me for most of the way, except for the end when I jumped off the ledge
  • Got the aetherium shard and boss loot and got out again
  • Hoofed it back over to retrieve the horses
  • Fouught vampire and death hound near the bridge, before finally getting the horses back
  • Decided not to hit Deep Folk Crossing, because a) I was riding the wrong way, and b) it was late and I wanted to go to bed
  • Returned to Lakeview and saved there for the night

Why Harrow goes down to Elsweyr to begin with

This pair of sessions was basically all I needed to finally run Moonpath to Elsweyr, which I was in the mood to go ahead and do.

First and foremost here is the narrative question of why Harrow decides to bugger off to Elsweyr for a while. The mod doesn’t really give you a reason for this at all, really. It just parks a couple of Khajiit just outside Falkreath, and all you get in the dialogue with them is the opportunity to ask them if you can travel with them.

Which is certainly nice for the sake of simplicity. But if you want is narrative cohesion, it’s kind of lacking.

So based on how my RP of this mod went down, I’m going to retroactively headcanon that the Khajiit specifically sent Harrow a letter asking her to come down there to help them.

And it’s quite disappointing (although not surprising, given that Moonpath is literally one of the oldest Skyrim mods in existence) that Inigo as a follower mod doesn’t have any interactive capability with Moonpath to Elsweyr. Because you would damn well think that a Khajiit follower would be very goddamn interested in going down to help his people rebel against the Thalmor, right?

For purposes of this narrative, I will further headcanon that Inigo, the instant he heard from Harrow that his people had reached out to her, urged her to answer them. And Harrow, who’s feeling quite kindly disposed to both Lucien and Inigo with all this sticking by her side they’ve been doing (especially while she was a vampire), couldn’t say no to this.

So off to Elsweyr we went.

The journey down

The journey down to Elsweyr was not instantaneous, which I did like. But it was also a bit less interesting than I might have hoped for. After several Skyrim playthroughs and having the example of the little ship voyage animation that plays when you go to Solstheim for the first time, I kind of missed not having any such thing on the Elsweyr trip.

What I did get, though, was two stops along the way. The first one was in a desert locale to fight bandits and hyenas, and the second one was in a more jungle-like locale, where my task was to help find the caravan a way around a blockage caused by a collapsed bridge. Both of these situations did add a bit more interest to the journey, as well as giving a taste of the new terrains the mod has to offer.

And based on my experience playing in Elsweyr in ESO, both of these stops felt appropriate terrain-wise. I know that the northernmost portions of Elsweyr are more desert-like, and the southern portions are more jungle. So with the expectation that I was coming down from Skyrim, cutting through those terrain types in that order felt correct.

Arriving at the Tenmar Jungle

Actually arriving in Elsweyr amounted to the caravan dropping me off at a hideout in the Tenmar Jungle. And discovering, to my surprise, that that hideout was now considered my home base, and that the local Pahmar tribe had in fact ceded it to me and that several of them were showing up to provide me services as guards.

This right here is one of the reasons I wanted to retcon in a headcanon as to why the hell I went down there. Because it didn’t seem to fit well with the idea that I went down to Elsweyr just on a whim. And the mod’s intention seems clear: i.e., that your reputation as the Dragonborn preceded you, and the locals are trying to show you some respect and support.

I’m dubious as well that they would just up and give you an entire hideout just because you’re coming down for a visit. It seems more like the kind of thing they’d do if they explicitly wanted help with something and needed to give you a secure base to operate from.

Second thing I want to call out here is the presence of the Pahmar. These Khajiit were quadrupeds and basically looked like very large, very bulky tigers. Which, if you’re familiar with the types of Khajiit present in the lore (i.e., furstocks) is a lore-friendly idea.

There is a point of contention to quibble over lore-wise here, though. The Pahmar, according to the wiki, do look like giant tigers. But they are bipedal, not quadrupedal.

I can’t hold this against the mod, though. And this is why: Moonpath to Elsweyr is old. I’ve seen on its page on Nexus that it’s one of the oldest Skyrim mods there is, by which I mean, it dropped way back in 2012. Which was within a year of when Skyrim itself originally released.

Which means, it may well not have been clear at all at the time what the Pahmar should have looked like. It seems entirely reasonable to me that that had not been nailed down in the lore yet, if previous Elder Scrolls games hadn’t called it out. And the Pahmar that appear in this mod only get a little bit of side commentary about not being bipedal; it’s not at all relevant to the quests you are given to run. It’s just local color. So I don’t feel terribly put out about it.

Impressions of the terrain

I’d already had a bit of a sneak preview of this mod courtesy of watching YouTube videos featuring a couple of streamers running a character called Kippers, and running this mod with him. (Side note: Kippers’ adventures are delightful, check out the first video on YouTube if you want to see the fun the players have with him!) So at least in terms of the overall look of the thing, and the little outpost you visit to pick up some interactions with certain NPCs, I wasn’t surprised.

Most of the area covered by the mod was jungle terrain, on a very shallow river. I splashed around a lot through that river, to the degree that I kept hearing Lucien’s line in my head: “Can we pick up the pace a little? My boots are starting to slosh.”

(Note that Lucien at no point actually threw that line here! Because, like Inigo, he isn’t apparently set up to talk to Moonpath to Elsweyr? And I didn’t hear any of Lucien and Inigo’s usual random lines fire off while running the mod, either.)

In terms of just general overall look, the jungle area did look cool. But I found it a trifle limited. There were a few main areas in the jungle: the hideout, the Elsweyr Waterways (which contained the outpost I had to visit), and the Tenmar Cathedral area. And all of these looked more or less identical: large jungle with wide shallow river. And you could only traverse them following the river path; you couldn’t cut through the trees and go overland like you might do in Skyrim proper.

The jungle areas were not the only places I visited, mind you. There was also a lair of a Sload, a caravan outpost, and a secret island base. And there was action on board airships. (AIRSHIPS, you guys. More on this below.)

But transitions between these areas were done by airship, and I found that kind of clunky, honestly. Because there was no sign of the airship actually visually going anywhere. Instead, you got text popping up telling you about the journey happening. Which was… fine? But not really satisfying. And it reminded me a lot more of Morrowind than Skyrim, so it contributed to the very old-school vibe I got off the mod.

Impressions of plants

I did periodically see harvestable plants, but they were the same kinds of plants I’m used to seeing in Skyrim proper, e.g., deathbell, e.g., nightshade. Which struck me as a little odd just because this is an entirely different spot of the continent, so I’d expect different plants. Though again–not a thing I really hold against the mod, because it is old. I’m just saying, it was an oddity, is all.

Impressions of creatures

There were a few new types of creatures as well, but two of these were clearly just recolored versions of creatures in Skyrim. Jungle Queen Spiders were the exact same look as Frostbite Spiders, just colored green and yellow. Rivercrabs essentially looked like Mudcrabs, only bright orange.

One type of creature which also resembled a Skyrim equivalent, only made larger rather than being recolored, was the siligonder. Which basically looked like a much larger version of a chaurus. And as soon as I saw them, an armor type I’d already seen available at forges suddenly made sense to me finally–because they drop chitin, which you can combine with the zahilisk teeth to make armor.

But there were some creatures that very specifically did not appear in Skyrim proper:

  1. Hyenas (self-explanatory).
  2. Zahilisks, which basically looked like blue velociraptors and which dropped teeth similar to sabre cat teeth. This actually looked kind of neat.
  3. Mooncows, large herbivores that are apparently used to pull wagons (or so the Khajiit you travel down to Elsweyr with mention in their dialogue, you don’t actually see the mooncows doing this), and were surprisingly fast and nimble for their size; I kept seeing them actively galloping around the areas I visited. I likewise kind of liked the mooncows!

All told, a mix of sorta-kinda familiar-ish creatures, and some things that were brand new compared to what you usually see in Skyrim. So that was pretty cool.

Impressions of the Khajiit NPCs

Unfortunately, none of the NPCs particularly stood out to me as interesting characters. Of the ones I interacted with, most of them had no notable character development or even notable personality traits. Their dialogue was all super straightforward, and all along the general lines of “I’m a Khajiit rebelling against the Thalmor and need you to go do a thing for me”.

One NPC I’d already seen in the Kippers videos, and since I found him annoying in the videos, I avoided interacting with him in actual play: the character called Skullcat. Because this Khajiit’s lines were delivered in a very stereotypical “pirate” accent, which threw me completely out of my immersion as soon as I heard it. This guy was the only Khajiit around talking like this. It was grating.

Of the rest of the Khajiit, it also kind of grated on my ear a bit that they didn’t consistently pronounce “Elsweyr” the same way. As far as I know, canonically, the correct pronunciation is to make it sound like “elsewhere”. But at least one NPC, Khulan, kept saying “else-wire” and it kept jabbing me in the ear every time I heard it.

I think this would have bugged me less if all the NPCs had just been consistent about it. I will have to doublecheck Morrowind and Oblivion and see if I can get an idea of how “Elsweyr” is pronounced in either of those games by Khajiit NPCs. Like I said above re: the Pahmar, I can see an argument here for how when this mod first came out, it might have legit not been canonically clear how to say “Elsweyr”.

But if you don’t have a canon reference for it, and you have to run with your best guess, at least make your pronunciation choices consistent.

The NPCs likewise were kind of random as to phrasing and grammar choices. I found this less annoying, though. Just because this felt like a question of how various Khajiit might have to switch over to Tamrielic instead of Ta’agra just to talk to me–and not every Khajiit should be assumed to be fluent in Tamrielic! Particularly if they’re characters who don’t have a history of dealing with non-Khajiit or traveling outside of Elsweyr.

What annoyed me more than language patterns, though, was how some of the initial interactions with these characters worked. I got into a chain like this:

  • Character A goes “I’m not going to talk to you unless character B says you can be trusted”
  • I went to Character B, and he was all “I’m not going to talk to you unless you talk to character C”
  • And Character C is literally just a few steps down the stairs from character B, very clearly in earshot, yet I have to go and tell him “character B said this” and give him a chance to say “tell character B he’s being an idiot”

That kind of thing feels extremely clunky to me. Y’all may recall I had a similar complaint running some of Vilya’s side stuff earlier in this playthrough, when I hit the Eldergreen Sanctuary with her. And in general it contributed to the old-school feel of this plot. Again, I was reminded of Morrowind in terms of overall pacing and quest structure.

Which, let me emphasize, isn’t necessarily bad. It’s a different and older style of character interaction and quest design. But it does feel older in style than vanilla Skyrim does, so I found it jarring.

Impressions of the Sload

I actively did not like the Sload. The Sload character suffered distinctly by comparison to Sload I’ve gone up against in ESO, who were way more menacing; this one didn’t do much except stomp around in a tight circle in his lair, and rant about being hungry, and how he was going to unleash a plague if you didn’t feed him.

Also, for the record, not a fan of how the final confrontation with the Sload made me utter an insult to him about being fat. For one thing, it seemed way too over the top for Harrow. For another, and more importantly, if I’d played this in 2012 I might not have been bugged by that insult. But I’m playing it in 2023, and in this day and age, I don’t want my character throwing around gratuitous bodyshaming. I’d have much rather her call the Sload something like “you disgusting slug” or “you vile creature” or something of that nature.

Furthermore, his subplot didn’t make much logistical sense. This Sload was prepared to unleash a horrible plague if he didn’t get the nourishment and groveling he wanted, but his big plan rested on a single infected animal? Which apparently was somehow managing to not infect any other animal in the jungle? Because it was absolutely running around loose. And if the Sload never left his lair, how exactly was he planning on controlling what that infected animal was going to do?

Was he somehow magically constraining the infected creature to keep it from passing its infection on to any other creature? If so, it would have been nice to get that as a plot detail. If nothing else just to see some sign of the Sload doing badassed magic, versus just stomping around in circles and ranting.

Wait what AIRSHIPS? Since when are there airships in Tamriel?

I was very heavily taken aback when I found out that this mod involves airships. For these reasons:

  2. And this mod is giving some to the Thalmor?
  3. And I get to take control of one?

First of these: I sorta kinda already knew, I think, about the idea of airships in the Elder Scrolls franchise. Just because I stumbled across the idea of one in a plot I got a pointer for in Morrowind, but which I have not run yet, because I’m dragging on moving my Morrowind playthrough along. But that doesn’t really mean it sank in for me properly that holy shit the Elder Scrolls franchise has airships.

Or, at least, it has precedence in the lore for them. I specifically looked this up on the wiki, because my initial gut reaction to seeing this in the mod was “no way, this doesn’t feel like canon at all”. Yet I was specifically mistaken. The wiki says the Dwemer were known to have airships, and the Sload are apparently supposedly in possession of some, too. And the Bretons apparently canonically have hot air balloons.

Second of these: So once I read that, I was okay with the mod introducing the idea… to a point. Where I still balked at it was the idea that the Thalmor apparently had multiple airships. The reason I’m balking about this: because if the Thalmor have actual airships, they have air superiority over the rest of Tamriel. And they would have been in a much better position to destroy the Empire and also take over Hammerfell.

But here’s another thing there’s precedent for in the lore: older technologies and/or magics that used to exist (e.g., created by the Dwemer), but which fell out of usage for whatever reason, and are rediscovered by later cultures. I can buy the Thalmor in this mod having airships if they’ve only recently started trying to build them. I.e., after the Great War.

And for the third item on this list: I did in fact get control of an airship, the Waning Moon. But this struck me as awfully abrupt, because I saw this thing show up at the hideout I was given. When I went to talk to the Khajiit who seemed to be the captain (Khulan), he basically went “Surprise! This airship is yours because you shouted it down out of the sky and so you get to keep it by right of the hunt.”


Because none of this happens on camera. Which makes me sad, because the Dragonborn literally Shouting an airship down out of the sky sounds pretty damned badassed, actually, and I would have loved to play that out.

This is yet another thing I really have to cut the mod some slack for. Because it is a fan-created effort, and it’s old, and it dates back to before the Skyrim Creation Kit. So showing this on camera with what resources were available at the time was probably impossible.

Raises all sorts of entertaining questions though about which Shout the Dragonborn might use to ground an airship. 😀 I’d have grave concerns about the use of Unrelenting Force here, lest the ship just crash. Which seems like a recipe for it never getting into the air again!

And that raises the question of…

So if there are airships, how the hell do they fly?

This is sorta kinda answered by conversation with one of the NPCs in the mod, though I only discovered this after the main RP was over. I learned from the wizard Jo’ran that Khulan was in fact flying the Waning Moon by magic, “telepathically”.

Leaving aside any quibbles with terminology here, what this is telling me here is, Khulan is just levitating the fuck out of the ship. He’s basically pulling a Yoda. Levitation magic is another thing there’s canon precedent for, and this time a thing that I specifically do have outright experience with, since I’ve used Levitation in Morrowind.

But that said: levitating yourself so you can get to a higher level of a dungeon is one thing. Levitating an entire airship is another thing entirely. Khulan must be one hell of a mage if he can levitate an airship and keep it in the air for the duration of a journey. And, for that matter, during the course of a battle as well.

Because there was of course a battle. You have airships on both the side of the Khajiit and the side of the Thalmor in a mod, you better damn well have a battle!

And given that neither airship actually crashed to the ground during the course of this battle, apparently this meant Khulan as well as the Thalmor pilot were apparently just that awesome, that they could participate in hand to hand combat and keep the ships in the air.

Which… yeah, no. I don’t buy it. Willing to cut a bit of slack here too, again because old mod, and nifty idea even if I quibble with the execution.

But I do think it’s fixable. Because if you accept that the concept of airships exists in the lore, and also the concept of hot air balloons, this means that the cultures of Tamriel should understand that if they want to get such contrivances airborne, they need to be able to conduct controlled heating and cooling of the involved air.

And Skyrim gives us a way this is possible.

Flame and frost magic. This is used all over the vanilla game.

So you could do this with trained mages. Maybe even just one trained Destruction mage, if you’ve got one who’s skilled in both flame and frost spells and you’re feeling thrifty. Such mages should probably explicitly not be the people responsible for also piloting the ship, because if they have to constantly monitor the temperature of the air keeping the ship aloft, they don’t have attention to spare for which direction the ship’s headed in.

If you don’t want to do this with live mages, there’s also the possibility of doing it with soul gems. Vanilla Skyrim is chock full of examples of spellcaster traps where soul gems fire off flame, frost, or shock magic in response to player proximity. Which means the ability to enchant soul gems to spit out those kinds of magic as proximity alarms has to exist.

And that means it might also be possible to do a variation of that kind of enchanting. I could see a situation where an airship had one soul gem in charge of heating the air with flame magic, and another one in charge of cooling it with frost. But you would also still need to be able to activate each soul gem in a controlled fashion. Which means maybe a mage on standby to throw up blocking wards on the soul gems.

Or, if you wanted to go down a path of resurrecting other interesting Dwemer gadgets… maybe the Dwemer actually had devices that could control the output of such soul gems. This is totally plausible for what we see of the remains of Dwemer tech in vanilla Skyrim. And if a very clever and very lucky airship tinkerer managed to get hold of one such device and reverse engineer it, that would have massive implications for the future of the technology levels of Tamriel.

All of this, anyway, would be the paths I’d go down to try to explain the presence of airships in the scenario presented by this mod. And I’d definitely want to make it clearer that the Thalmor were trying to resurrect ancient Dwemer tech, and they’d only discovered how to do this in the last five years or so, to explain why the hell they didn’t just raze Cyrodiil and Hammerfell with an air force!

And speaking of the Thalmor in general

LOL, they were basically Thalmor. Not the slightest bit different from Thalmor as presented in vanilla Skyrim. Which is to say: not much in the way of depth or nuance.

There was in theory a named Thalmor commander, Justiciar Lenial. But I didn’t deal with the guy directly until the very last battle, in which I got to kill him belowdecks during the aforementioned airship battle.

Honestly, my favorite moment during fighting any of the Thalmor was actually with Inigo. Inigo’s not set up to interact with the mod per se, but he apparently does have a reaction line to fighting Thalmor! So there we are fighting a Thalmor patrol, and Inigo charges in yelling “TALOS IS AMAZING! Na na na na na!”


Crashes on the way back to Skyrim

Apparently there was a little bit more side questing I missed at the caravan outpost, according to what I read on the mod’s page on Nexus. But by the time I found that out, I’d finished the two main quests, taking out the Sload and taking out the Thalmor. And I was in a mood to go ahead and return to Skyrim proper.

Which, again… kind of clunky. You get a door leading out of the hideout that basically sends you right back to just outside Falkreath, without even any kind of text blurb saying something like “You join a caravan returning to Skyrim, and you have a long but untroubled journey”. Given that such prompts happened with the airship travel, such a thing wouldn’t have been out of place at that point.

As it happened, though, I had trouble even getting to that door for some reason. When I approached the door while playing on my Steam Deck, one hundred percent of the time, the game up and crashed on me.

I have no idea why. I was just standing on the walkway with Inigo and Lucien a short distance behind me, and I was trying to head up to the door to go back to Falkreath. Usually I’d trigger the crash just after Yura went past me going the other way, though once or twice it happened once I made it to a landing where a Pahmar guard was hanging out.

I finally had to save and load up the game instead on my VM. That worked, which was weird. But it did work, which was the important part.

All in all

Moonpath to Elsweyr can’t help but suffer for how late I came to Skyrim, for being used to later mods and Creation Club content and how they do things, and for my first introduction to Elsweyr being via Elder Scrolls Online. So to my 2023 gamer eyes, it really does show its age.

But that said, I can also see how it’s near and dear to a lot of players’ hearts. For players who were playing Skyrim when it originally dropped, and who got into modding it quickly, this mod must have been amazing at the time. The jungle areas are beautiful, and the creature designs are neat, even the ones that are just recolored versions of Skyrim creatures.

And I can see how any player coming into this mod after time in Skyrim, but also time in Morrowind and Oblivion, would very likely have felt just fine about the plot and pacing structure in the mod.

And, y’all, there are airships. Even if I quibble with the execution of how they’re handled, airships are fucking cool.

And most importantly? You get to beat up on a lot of Thalmor in this mod. And I cannot quibble very hard at all with any mod that lets you fuck up things for the Thalmor. ;D

In short: I quibble with it, but I also enjoyed it! And I am not sorry at all that I tried it out. When reading up on this mod and its history, I kept seeing references to an attempt to reboot it called Moonpath Reborn. That attempt seems to have fizzled out; I haven’t found any references to it more recent than six or seven years ago. And I found some other references that suggested such an effort was being moved under the umbrella of Beyond Skyrim… but nothing current on that front.

I do hope at some point though that somebody does reboot this mod using modern modding techniques. Because its core idea is pretty awesome, and I’d love to see a smoother implementation of it.

Especially if it lets me actually Shout an airship down out of the sky and commandeer it. Because that would rock. And I do have to wonder exactly what Shout would be best for forcing an airship down from the sky, without actually damaging it badly enough that it wouldn’t be airworthy!

Post-Elsweyr: Following up on Muiri’s assassination contract

Finally made it back to Markarth to talk to Muiri about taking out Alain Dufont. I was with up through “Alain Dufont ruined my life, kill the bastard”. But she lost me when she started bitching about also taking out Nilsine Shatter-Shield.

“The Shatter-Shield family turned me away even though I was totes also grieving over Friga being killed! So go kill their other daughter too! That’ll teach ’em to not treat me like a daughter!”

It’s a damn good thing Muiri explicitly said this wasn’t covered by the actual contract. Because wow am I not doing this. I mean, I already knew I didn’t want to do because I’d read up about this plot before on the wiki, and I knew I wouldn’t want to do it because it would drive Nilsine’s mother Tova to suicide. But now that I’ve actually seen Muiri vent her anger here, holy crap no not touching that.

Harrow’s own history certainly makes her down with taking revenge on men who abuse women. But under no circumstances is she going to be down with killing the remaining daughter of a family that’s already traumatized by losing the first one.

Not to mention: Windhelm. Fuck Windhelm. She’s only going to set foot there again for thievery purposes. Inigo and Lucien don’t like the place, and she doesn’t like it either.

One more important note re: Inigo

While I found Inigo’s response to battle with the Thalmor actively delightful, I have to admit that on the other hand, I also am now finding his responses to my absorbing dragon souls actively annoying.

This time, after I killed the Elder Dragon on the way to Dushnikh Yal, he threw this line:

“Absorbing dragon souls harms you and those around you. Every time you do it you put both of us at risk. You really don’t care do you?”

I am a thousand percent done with this being a topic of Inigo’s conversations. If it’s intended to be humorous, I’m not finding it funny. The ability to absorb dragon souls is part of the core concept of being the Dragonborn. Inigo has no goddamn basis whatsoever on which to assert that the Dragonborn exercising her inherent ability harms anybody else at all, except of course the dragon she just slew. And I also don’t care for the accusation of my character not “caring” about causing such harm.

Unlike with Vilja, where multiple things annoyed me to the degree that I banished her from my playthrough, Inigo has just this one thing about him that’s now pissing me off.

But at this point, it’s getting to be a pretty big thing. I was willing to let the repeated comparisons of absorbing dragon souls to skooma use slide. But now we’ve moved to Inigo outright accusing the Dragonborn of causing harm to others by exercising her inherent ability, and not caring about doing so. An ability which, I might add, Skyrim does not let you turn off.

Nor should it. Because again: part of the core concept of being Dragonborn.

I like Inigo. I really do. I find his synergy with Lucien especially awesome.

I don’t want to kick him out of my playthrough, necessarily. But I think I just decided that I’m going to have to. Because this is actively pissing me off, and nobody needs that in what’s supposed to be a fun adventure game.

I read up Inigo’s mod page on Nexus that the creator of Inigo has been undergoing a fuckton of personal life challenges lately, but is in theory still working on a version 3 of Inigo. And a volunteer who’s been relaying news says that that version will include an option to turn off dragon soul commentary. Which suggests to me that I’m not the only player who has found this aspect of the character really bothersome.

But until version 3 of Inigo actually happens, I’m going to have to stand down from running him.

The good thing here is, at least, that having just run Moonpath to Elsweyr, I have the perfect reason to send Inigo off camera. I can assume for purposes of narrative that he decides he needs to be with the rebel Khajiit in Elsweyr, and help them in their struggle against the Thalmor.

So I’m going to run with that plan. I gave Vilja a headcanon reason to go off camera, and Inigo absolutely deserves the same courtesy. Moreover, I feel like he really deserves a noble reason to not be following me around anymore. And you don’t get much more noble than fighting for your people against the Thalmor.

And if Inigo’s creator does get to a point of finally being able to release v3, I will absolutely give the big blue cat another go. For now, I will send him off into the sunset and presume he gets to fight Thalmor in his homeland. And maybe he pairs off with Yura, and the two of them can have a passel of cute little Khajiit children!

Next time

First up, I’m going to have to dismiss Inigo. After that, conflicting impulses going on here, really.

I kind of want to swing back and get the shard at Deep Folk Crossing, then go hit Raldbthar and take out Alain Dufont and get the final shard. Then hit the Aetherium Forge!

But I also feel like running the rest of the Thieves Guild jobs, and getting to the point of being Guildmaster, too.

So I’ll see what strikes my fancy when I fire Harrow’s next session up.


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.