In Which Three Dragonborns Quest for the Thieves Guild
It’s been a while, but Dara, Mel, and I finally got some time to do another session of Skyrim Together Reborn! Featuring a newly released version of the mod, slightly less crashing, only sorta-kinda-dead Eorlund Gray-Mane, pissing off a lot of mercenaries, Sabjorn having a very bad day at the Honningbrew Meadery, and Kitty stealing everything in sight.
Play by play
- Play date: 4/8/2023
- Session number in this run: 5
- STR dropped a new update, so we all updated to that and tried to make sure our mods were up to speed beforehand
- I tried out streaming STR off the Deck to my Mac so I could try playing with keyboard access and better sound quality for Discord voice chat; performance wasn’t particularly great but I will need to experiment with that and see if I can improve it
- Used my backup headset since that seemed to work better for sound
- Dara had some issues getting started but after a few attempts at restarting the game she got the STR UI to work okay and we were able to start playing
- Started off in Thieves Guild in Riften
- I sold a fair amount of random crap I’d amassed to Tonilia
- Mel talked to Vex to get her pointer about sneaking into the Goldenglow Estate via the sewer
- We headed out to go run the Goldenglow Estate job
- Ahkari’s Khajiit were on hand and we stopped to talk to them
- Mel got the quest to get Kharjo’s moon amulet
- Kitty got a little bit too ambitious trying to pickpocket the Khajiit though; they did notice and it did make them back off talking to her
- Ahkari triggered the conversation with her companions about how her bones ache for moon sugar, and Dara found she could not give her any skooma
- Headed on over to Goldenglow
- We realized that we were trying to raid the place in broad daylight, and this did impact me as I tried to burn the beehives; got spotted by a mercenary who came after me and I had to retreat
- Tried a couple of times to get closer but the guy kept coming at me; wound up throwing a conjured familiar at him, and finally made it up to burn the three specific beehives
- Meanwhile, Dara and Mel went through the house to try to carry out the bulk of the mission
- Mel tried to avoid killing Aringoth, but all the mercenaries were pretty much free game
- Kitty was 100% “ffs why are you playing with those idiots when we should be stealing things“, and also “gave” a bunch of mercenaries her arrows, LOL
- Mel let Aringoth kill her once, but she got the Bee in a Jar as well as the Queen Bee statue
- Dara and Mel made it down into the basement to get the bill of sale out of the safe
- Then we realized oh shit, the quest wasn’t actually advanced, which meant Mel had to be the one burning the hives
- I swam back over to the shore intending to come back in via the front gates, and found a fight breaking out! Trio of bandits had spawned right by Riften’s front gates!
- Meanwhile, Mel made it to the Riften docks, and talked to From-Deepest-Fathoms to get the Lexicon from her to start the Unfathomable Depths quest
- Bandit chief in steel armor killed me; I respawned up at the door to Honeyside, which was a little weird; went back down to find the fight still in progress, threw my familiar in ahead of me
- Khajiit were still in on the fight, and Dara and Mel also caught up, so the bandits were dispatched in short order
- I found two of them to swipe their stuff for selling, and discovered Hofgrir Horse-Crusher had been killed by the bandits, which means Shadr is now in charge of the stables
- We headed back into Riften to check in at the guild; I started selling stuff to clear out my inventory, including the bandit loot
- We got directive to talk to Maven about the Honningbrew Meadery job; headed to the Bee and Barb to find her
- This may have been the point at which Dara spotted Sam Guevenne (a.k.a. Sanguine) in the Bee and Barb?
- We spotted Talen-Jei horizontal and levitating by the wall as we went up to talk to Maven, lololololol
- Got Maven’s orders to go to Whiterun and talk to Mallus
- On the way out, Mel chatted with Mjoll the Lioness to get her quest to recover her sword
- Mel also chatted with Sapphire re: Shadr’s debt, and agreed to Sapphire’s proposal to give her a cut of the profits; also told Shadr on the way out that nope, sorry, sucks to be you
- Boinged off to Whiterun and headed into the Bannered Mare to talk to Mallus; got his orders to plant the poison in the nest and poison the mead
- Kept seeing Lydia show up near us, but she kept refusing to actually follow us
- As we came out of the Bannered Mare Dara had hardcore graphics glitches and wound up having to reboot
- Dara started stealing steel arrows off of all the guards, because “fuck the police”; however, the pickpocketing campaign only lasted as far as us getting to the meadery! Kitty tried to pickpocket a guard near the entrance to the meadery, but he caught her and chucked her off to Dragonsreach to pay her bounty
- (Surprisingly, Dara didn’t actually lose her stolen arrows, the game seems to be having trouble keeping track of stolen things in our playthrough)
- Mel and I waited for Dara to return, then headed into the meadery
- Got the mission to go put the poison in the skeever nest; headed down into the cellar and started killing skeevers
- Lydia showed up in the cellar too, and also killed skeevers! I kept seeing her without clothes, LOL
- Charging through there with three worked mostly very well
- Mel got killed partway through but actually respawned ahead of us, so killed Hamelyn the bonkers mage even before Dara and I caught up with her
- Mel poisoned the mead vat, and we headed back into the main room of the meadery to witness Sabjorn’s very bad day–which did not go smoothly:
- Eimar got stuck in a loop and kept going back and forth through the front door
- Captain of the guard and Sabjorn went through their confrontation and the captain arrested him, but they didn’t actually leave
- We tried to get the promissory note out of the dresser in Sabjorn’s office, but we kept also seeing Sabjorn and the captain playing out their confrontation, even as we went back outside
- Mel realized she’d picked up ataxia off one of the skeevers, so we headed back into Whiterun so that she could hit the shrine in the temple and cure herself
- I went to Jorrvaskr to see if we could find Farkas, and we realized that we still hadn’t played out the bit where the Dragonborn gets inducted into the Companions, so we played that out
- Dara went up to talk to Eorlund Gray-Mane to see if she could give him her copy of Vilkas’ Sword; answer: not for purposes of doing that mini-quest, but she did sell it to him, as well as her extra copy of Balgruuf’s Greatsword
- Dara and Mel both jumped up and down in the Skyforge, LOLOLOL; clearly very sturdy boots
- Then SURPRISE MELEE! Whiterun guards came up and started giving Mel shit about “do you know anything about this?”
- Mel basically told him to fuck off and that got the guard pissed; she tried to back off but then Eorlund actually got into it with the guard, and a second one showed up too 😮
- The guards actually won the fight, but since Eorlund is Essential up until the Glory of the Dead quest, he didn’t actually die, he just fell over into the “dead” pose–but we could still talk to him!
- And we saw him floating horizontally down into the Wind District; we followed him just to see where he was going; answer: his house
- Dara did get him to train her in Smithing even while dead-floating!
- Mel realized that the Dampened Spirits quest was broken, she still had a directive to get stuff out of Sabjorn’s office, so we went back to the meadery to see if we could fix it; answer: no
- So Mel got into her debug console and threw the setstage command to force the quest to accept that we’d hit the meadery; that let us report back to Riiften to finish up the quest and report to Brynjolf
- Mel talked to Mercer and got the directive to go to Solitude and contact Gulum-Ei
- While she did that, Dara pickpocketed him and got a gem, ha!
- We called a halt at that point for the night
Preparing this time around
I realized it’d been a while since we last did a Skyrim Together Reborn session, so I pinged Dara and Mel to confirm for them I was still interested. And we all went “yeah, we should totes do this”!
We discovered that the mod had even released a new version. So we all took a bit of time to download that, doublecheck the rest of our agreed-upon mods were current, and see about another session with our trio of thief Dragonborns.
Dara had the most issues getting started, since she had trouble getting the UI for the mod to show up in her game once she started. At first I was concerned that the MODS menu item in the game’s main menu might not have activated Skyrim Together Reborn properly in her load order, so I asked her to check that.
Which proved way more difficult than it should have been. Dara’s game demanded that she log into her Bethesda account, and the login server was convinced that she didn’t have an account, so she had to recreate one.
Plus, Bethesda’s keyboard shortcuts for the form Dara had to use were maddening. Dara expressed it like this:
“Skyrim breaks UI standards that have been present LONGER THAN I’VE BEEN ALIVE by making “tab” not be “next field” but “enter and go to next page.” It’s all but fucking impossible not to use tab reflexively to go from a “username” to a “password” field AND YET SUDDENLY THAT’S HITTING “SUBMIT”.
So yeah, augh.
Eventually, after restarting of both the game and of her computer, and a lot of just general “fuck, how do we fix this”, Dara did finally get into the game with the mod properly active. We’re still not sure what fixed it. Still, though, she got it fixed and that was the important part.
Meanwhile, I decided to try a new thing, since I discovered that I could stream the game off my Steam Deck straight up to my Mac. This accomplished a few things for me:
- Letting me use my MacBook’s screen and keyboard for seeing the action, and getting at the Skyrim Together Reborn UI
- Let me plug in my Nintendo Switch controller to use it for the game, so I wouldn’t have to actually hold the Deck
- Run Discord off my computer rather than off of the Deck, for purposes of voice chat and being able to hear the game action at the same time
Being able to use my Switch Pro controller, and therefore not having to hold the Deck to play, was particularly useful. Because when I tried it while holding the Deck, it meant I saw the game action both on my computer’s screen and on the Deck, which was visually distracting.
The graphics quality wasn’t great as viewed from the computer, and my frame rate performance wasn’t the best in the world. But that said, it worked well enough that I think I’ll try it again next time we play. I’m going to have to experiment with the streaming settings to see if I can improve things.
Generally not a good idea to pickpocket the Khajiit
Kitty being, well, Kitty, Dara conducted her general campaign of trying to pickpocket the hell out of everybody. Including her fellow Khajiit, when we first left Riften to try to run the Goldenglow Estate job.
This, unfortunately, did not go well for Kitty! Because Ahkari’s Khajiit did notice her attempts and got cranky at her, and refused to talk to her any further.
Lesson to be learned here: generally not a good idea to try to pickpocket the Khajiit. They’re probably better at it than you are. Even if you’re another Khajiit.
It was during this encounter that Ahkari also happened to trigger the conversation you often hear amongst the Khajiit caravans, where one of them moans about their bones aching for moon sugar, and the other one warns them not to scare off customers with their fits.
Given that Ahkari is in fact the Khajiit in her caravan in charge of selling stuff to customers, she picked an unfortunate time to vocalize her cravings with customers standing right there. This led Dara to two things:
- Discovering that she could not give Ahkari her skooma
- Ahkari was whining about not having any moon sugar when she had some right there in her inventory of purchasable items
Clearly, Ahkari is a disciplined enough merchant that under no circumstances will she raid the stock she’s trying to sell. Or, her companions keep her out of it. Maybe a little of column A, a little of column B.
Bold daylight raid on Goldenglow Estates
On the way into Goldenglow Dara asked, “Maybe we should be doing this at night?”
She did have a point! In my main playthroughs, any time I’m running Goldenglow, I try to go in solo. And at night, when it’s easier to sneak. Preferably also once I have the Throw Voice Shout, or at the very least, a reliable way of becoming invisible.
This time, though? Fuck it, we went in in broad daylight!
And we split up the action a bit, which did not go as well as we hoped. We’d discussed my burning the beehives, Dara breaking into the safe in the basement, and Mel handling interacting with Aringoth. But we were reminded during the course of play that Mel, as our party leader, was the one who had to do major quest actions. But we only recalled this when we were about done with Goldenglow!
Before we figured that part out (or I should say re-figured that part out, because we knew this already, we just had to be reminded of it), I spent some time trying to get at those beehives outside. In broad daylight, this was challenging. I did get quickly spotted by one of the mercenaries, who came after me and drove me off to a nearby island to get out of his range.
This taught me two things:
- He apparently didn’t want to come after me?
- A conjured familiar could, in fact, swim across the water to get at my opponent! Good to know!
Meanwhile, though I wasn’t inside the estate to witness it, Dara and Mel pretty much wreaked havoc.
Mel tried not to kill Aringoth so as not to wreck the intent of the mission. All the mercenaries, though, were pretty much free game! Mel wound up letting Aringoth kill her, but also did nab the Queen Bee status in his quarters, as well as his Bee in a Jar.
Meanwhile, as per Dara’s relaying, “Kitty was 100% ‘ffs why are you playing with those idiots when we should be stealing things‘. And also she ended up giving them a lot of arrows. Or rather loaning them a bunch of arrows. Because they were still hers, but she was being generous, because well Mel kinda started it, so if they want to borrow some arrows so badly then okay I guess.” LOLOLOL.
Once Dara and Mel came back outside again and found me waiting by the estate door, we also realized that the quest hadn’t properly advanced. That was the point at which Mel had to go burn hives too.
Heading back into Riften
Returning to Riften proved unexpectedly lively! Because a bandit trio spawned just outside the city, near the Khajiit camp, and I found a big ol’ melee in progress when I came back from Goldenglow.
Got killed once, in fact, by the bandit chief! Which caused me to respawn right at the door to Honeyside, and by “right at” I mean “clipped through”. Which was weird. I am a little sorry I didn’t think to get a screencap of that!
Meanwhile, Mel made it to the docks and talked to From-Deepest-Fathoms, receiving the Lexicon from her so we can hit up Avanchnzel for the Unfathomable Depths quest.
Once she and Dara caught up with me as well as the Khajiit still in on the fracas, the bandits were dispatched in short order. At which point I discovered that the fight had a casualty: Hofgrir Horse-Crusher, the dude in charge of the stables. Which puts Shadr in charge of the stables.
Unfortunately for Shadr, Mel also declined to run interference for him with his debt to Sapphire. Sapphire offered Mel a cut, and Mel took her up on it! Next week in Riften: Shadr’s GoFundMe for “Please help me escape to Hammerfell so Sapphire doesn’t knife me in my sleep”.
Mel was rather kinder to Mjoll the Lioness, though. Because sure, we’ll go get your missing sword for you! Still to be determined: whether any of us are going to fess up to Mjoll that we are, in fact, part of the Thieves Guild she’s trying to stomp all over. Awkward.
Talking to Maven to get the orders for the Honningbrew Meadery job worked about like it usually does in my usual playthroughs. Including the part where Maven is a cheap bitch and just forks over an enchanted iron weapon for running Goldenglow. Really, the most amusing part of that entire discussion was seeing Talen-Jei hovering horizontally nearby and asking if we wanted drinks.
Kitty maintaining her arrow supply
We all boinged back over to Whiterun at this point, to check in with Mallus at the Bannered Mare and get the setup for hitting the Honningbrew Meadery. That was fairly standard procedure for the Thieves Guild plotline.
Less standard: Dara deciding that Kitty was going to steal all the arrows off of every single guard in Whiterun!
Dara: “Because fuck the police.”
Me: “All Guards are Bastards!”
However, this pickpocketing campaign was rudely interrupted when we got to just outside the meadery. Dara got caught by a guard in the road, and he chucked her over to Dragonsreach to pay her bounty, Which meant we got to watch her disappear before our eyes.
Dara reported as well that the game didn’t seem to be really keeping track of stolen things. A lot of things she swiped were not marked as stolen in her inventory. And she didn’t seem to lose any of the arrows she’d taken, even though in theory the guards should have confiscated stolen things off of her as soon as she was arrested.
Relatedly, Dara reports that Kitty was both frustrated by her arrest and feeling rather justified that nobody actually took any of the things she picked up. Because they are hers, you see. Kitty has very dysfunctional ideas about the concept of personal property. 😆
Sabjorn’s extremely bad day
Once Dara rejoined us, we headed on into the meadery to kick off the mission to poison the skeever nest as well as the mead. This started off standard enough.
But then Lydia showed up in the cellar with us, and got in some skeever killing herself. She did not however stay with us. She kept spawning every time we changed zones, only to walk right back out the nearest door again, and we still couldn’t get her to follow us officially.
Plus, I kept seeing her without clothes. Snerk. So there she was in a bikini, but with her sword and shield. Arguably kind of hot, but not exactly useful in terms of effective combat protection!
I started throwing my conjured familiar ahead of me, just because the tunnels were tight fighting and I did not want to try to throw Destruction magic around down there. This wound up confusing Dara briefly, though, and she asked why a ghost bear was attacking the frostbite spiders coming at us. I explained that was my conjured wolf familiar! To which Dara went oh-okay and added, “Good dog!”
Mel actually got ahead of Dara and me though, entirely by accident. Because she got killed partway through the tunnels, and respawned right in Hamelyn’s lair. So she killed him for us before we even caught up with her! Lesson to be learned there, a suitably well-armed level 20 character can definitely take out that particular batshit bonkers mage. Just be able to withstand lightning attacks, as I’ve written about before.
Once Mel poisoned the mead vat and we returned to the main room of the meadery, what was supposed to happen next was that the captain of the guard would taste the poisoned mead, arrest Sabjorn, and leave Mallus in charge.
What actually happened was an attempt at that, but neither the guard captain nor Sabjorn actually left the meadery! And we saw Eimar, Sabjorn’s staffer, keep going in and out of the front door in an endless loop as well. Mel got the promissory note out of Sabjorn’s office, but even after we went back outside, we saw the guard captain and Sabjorn continuing to play out their confrontation in a loop.
Surprise melee at the Skyforge!
Meanwhile, Mel also realized that one of the skeevers in the meadery had given her ataxia. Which, yeah, risk of that from the venomfang skeevers in particular! So we decided to pop back into Whiterun so she could hit the shrine in the temple and cure herself.
While she was doing that, I went over to Jorrvaskr to see if I could find Farkas and check on his follower status. That let me discover why Lydia was probably refusing to follow us–because we’d never properly resolved the Companions quest that gets the Dragonborn inducted into the Companions. So technically, Farkas was still our follower! So Mel came in to get that resolved.
Meanwhile, Dara had also seen that she had Vilkas’ Sword in her inventory. This was a leftover artifact of the Companions mini-quest where you have to take Vilkas’ sword up to Eorlund Gray-Mane and have him sharpen it. But out of curiosity we went up to the Skyforge to find Eorlund and see if Dara could actually do that mini-quest, or at least, sell him the item.
She could not do the quest, but she could sell him the sword. Which she did, along with her extra copy of Balgruuf’s Greatsword.
Then, just after Dara and Mel amused themselves by jumping up and down in the Skyforge (clearly, they have extremely sturdy boots), a surprise fight broke out! Because a guard came up and started giving Mel shit: “Do you know anything about this?”
This, as I’ve seen in my main playthroughs, is what can happen if a guard spots you near a dead body inside the city. The problem with this was, we didn’t see any dead body at the Skyforge. After discussion on our chat, what we think probably happened is a thing I’ve sometimes seen in Whiterun, where a Stormcloak spy spawns inside the city and gets into fights with the guards. And for whatever “because Skyrim Together Reborn does frequently get confused” reason, one of the guards found us at the Skyforge to get cranky at Mel!
Mel, naturally, told him to fuck off. Which made the guard get pissed and start trying to attack her, and a second one showed up as well! That part was not exactly surprising.
What was surprising: Eorlund Gray-Mane deciding to fight with the guards! Presumably because he was pissed about a fight breaking out at his forge? All three of us went “WHOA” at this, and just kind of stood back and watched because holy crap what guard is going to pick a fight with Eorlund Gray-Mane? These guards, apparently!
And the guards actually won the fight. But Eorlund is an Essential character, at least up through the Glory of the Dead quest in the Companions quest line. So he cannot be killed.
He did, however, fall over into the “dead” pose. Though we could still talk to him! And we saw him start floating off horizontally away from the Skyforge, so we followed after him to see where he was going. Dara even tried to ask him to train her in Smithing.
Me: “‘Ah, well, I’m drunk off my ass but I am the best smith in Skyrim, so why the hell not!’ Hey Fralia, better come get your husband!” 😆
Invoking the power of the Debug Console
After those shenanigans, Mel realized that the Dampened Spirits quest appeared to be in a broken state; she still had a directive to get the promissory note from Sabjorn’s office. And that was no good. So we went back to the meadery to see if we could fix it.
Answer: no, not even after we all tried to see if we could get the promissory note. But we also did remember that we had the power of Skyrim’s debug console at our disposal! So Mel fired that up, and invoked the setstage command to put the quest into a state where it considered us to have gotten the promissory note properly.
Reporting back to the Guild
We still had to return to Riften to report in to Brynjolf, though. Who, I might add, was totes showing up in my view of the game as naked. So we had Shirtless Brynjolf, which admittedly was also kinda hot. 😉 I feel like this is totally relevant to the interests of anyone who might want to run the Brynjolf Has Time For You mod, too!
Also, seeing Shirtless Brynjolf actually made us realize he was wearing the Amulet of Articulation. Mel identified it, and I confirmed it on the wiki. I knew that Brynjolf actually had the amulet prior to now, I mean, he always gives it to the player once you become Guildmaster.
But I’d only registered this as Brynjolf having had the amulet at that point in the quest. I hadn’t ever realized he was actually wearing it the whole damn time, all throughout the Thieves Guild plotline. Which raises an interesting question: why the hell does Brynjolf have the Amulet of Articulation, anyway? Why doesn’t Mercer have it? Does Mercer know about it? Because I have a hard time buying that Mercer would let Brynjolf get away with wearing the thing if he knew it existed and what it could do.
I’m not finding anything about this on the wiki; the Amulet of Articulation doesn’t have a lore page. So I think I’ll just headcanon that Brynjolf got hold of it, and decided to keep it to himself once he realized that wearing it seemed to make him rather better at talking people into things, or talking his way out of things! And he’s just avoided mentioning it to Mercer–maybe not because of being suspicious of Mercer in particular, but just because Brynjolf’s a canny enough thief that I don’t see him giving up an advantage like that without a damn good reason.
Last but not least, Mel went to talk to Mercer about getting our next mission: going to find Gulum-Ei in Solitude. And, since Mel did have the Guildmaster’s attention, Dara naturally pickpocketed him and stole a gem off him. ;D
We’re discussing playing again this coming Saturday! So we’ll see if we’re able to pull that off. Possibly on the agenda:
- Hitting the dragon lair Shearpoint so we can get the Throw Voice Shout, which is awfully damned useful for the run through the East Empire Company Warehouse
- Finding Wujeeta in Riften just so we can get the quest action off of her to find and take out the skooma dealers, to get that set up for thaneship purposes before she gets eaten by a dragon
- Maybe getting a house? Mel’s cleared level 20 and Dara and I have cleared level 15, so it’s probably high time we had a home base
As with prior STR sessions, we had screenshots getting taken all over the damn place! So here’s Dara’s:
Here’s Mel’s, just the one from her this time:
And here’s mine: