In Which Gyllerah Saves Western Skyrim
Another large Gyllerah post, hitting the milestone of her 200th session! Main RP action in this one is a side plot in Coldharbour featuring the Everfull Flagon, and more significant action in Western Skyrim as I finish up the primary plot there.
Also, I got add-ons active on the Steam Deck, and re-ran the White-Gold Tower!
Play by play
- Play dates: 5/1-5/10/2023
- Session numbers in this run: 199-208
Monday the 1st
- Ran writs in Alinor
- Ran a jewelry writ in Rivenspire since I was out of platinum, which took me to an island in the north of Rivenspire that I hadn’t been to before!
- It was a group boss site with a siren boss, and other players were fighting her, so I stopped to help out
- Returned with platinum to Alinor to do the final writ
- Created a Nord bed to drop into my inn room in Solitude, along with a copy of the oaken chest
- Then jumped back into it in Coldharbour
- Went off to run the Everfull Flagon quest, Special Bend
- Had to help the daughter of the tavern owner come up with a potion to purify the stuff and break them out of the thrall of the enchanted mead
- Required getting a runestone from a shrine of Kyne and then using it to gather four Kyne’s Tears flowers, and kill a bunch of shriven and spider Daedra and scamps while I was at it
- Then killed the dremora who’d snared them
- Got everybody freed and sent off to the Hollow City for safety
- Meanwhile, also cleared a clothing survey location nearby
- Returned to Alinor for inventory managing
- Boinged back to Cliffshade to make a bit more furniture with available materials, now I have a Wood Elf style small table
- Logged out there for the night
Tuesday the 2nd and Wednesday the 3rd
- Ran writs, no other significant RP action
- Worked on getting add-ons functional on the Steam Deck
- Tried to install ESO UI Integration mod into my Vortex but couldn’t get that to work, so rolled back from that
- Installed Lutris instead, which allowed me to in turn install Minion; ran into additional challenges, more on this below
- After a bunch of work, got all the add-ons active
- Main notable immediate use: setting a keybind of 9 to teleport me to Cliffshade, which I then promptly mapped to the lower back button on the Deck, so I can boing home to Cliffshade at any time
Thursday the 4th
- Ran writs, no other significant action
- Did additional doinking around with add-ons
- Main experimentation was with Dressing Room to see if I could figure out how to get it to change between my armory builds
Friday the 5th
- Ran writs
- Followed up on the Vampire Scholar quest, which required me and Lyris to save Fennorian in Blackreach
- We went down into Blackreach and found his quarters in a shambles
- Found a contact of his who turned out to be a werewolf, and who refused to help us unless we rescued some of his packmates
- Rescued the werewolves as well as Fenn, and slew Exarch Tzinghalis, who’d been experimenting on Fenn
- Returned to Solitude to check in
- Stopped at the Bards College to pick up a quest to recover instruments for the college (same ones I’ve seen in Skyrim’s Bards College mod, LOL), which would get me an alternate pair of Winter’s Respite leggings
- Quest required me to go to a secret auction to acquire the Petraloop lute
- But first checked in with Svana to make sure Fenn had made it safely back, and got her quest reward for that
- Then went to the auction in disguise, and found Petraloop’s buyer and persuaded her to sell me the instrument
- Finished up the session with antiquities hunting
Saturday the 6th
- Ran writs
- Did a little work on a new jewelry master writ; made a Varen’s Legacy ring and got terne plating to improve it
- Then teamed up with Guild for a second run through White-Gold Tower–this time in Veteran mode! \0/
Sunday the 7th
- Ran writs in Alinor
- Research timer on Powered trait for swords finally finished, boinged around to various guild traders in search of iridium plating and Shimmering Sand; got one of each; made the Critical Riposte sword for the master writ
- Improved it up to Superior but needed more materials to improve it to Legendary
- Scored at least one single iridium plating for the ring for the other master writ
- Returned to Cliffshade and logged off for the night
Monday the 8th
- Ran writs
- Managed to pick up an extra skill point just by getting Alliance points in daily reward? Spent it on excavation/scrying in both builds; this unlocked scrying for Advanced antiquities
- Ran writs in Alinor
- Went antiquities hunting on Artaeum and Eyevea, and in Greenshade and Northern Elsweyr
- Finally got enough gold to buy another iridium plating
- Finished up the Varen’s Legacy ring for the master writ and took that to writ vendor in Elden Root for drop off
- Returned to Alinor for some crafting to try to burn through backlogged ingredients and build up more gold
- Boinged back to Cliffshade for the night
Tuesday the 9th
- Started by running writs
- Did a bit of antiquity hunting on Artaeum
- Finished improving the Critical Riposte sword and turned it in for the master writ, got 100 vouchers!
- Then ran the rest of the Western Skyrim plot
- First major action there: hitting the three Gray Host camps to get useful info
- Did the midland camp and found Lyris; saw she’d killed a bunch of werewolves before I caught up with her, LOL; got netherroot elixir from that camp
- Then did the coastal camp; found Giant’s Coast Wayshrine on the way
- Found Fennorian there and got info on what kind of bodies they were digging up for necromancy purposes
- Hit a skyshard on the way out from that
- Third camp required going down into Blackreach via one of the Great Lifts; found that camp and Svana down there; spied on some of the conversations at that camp and swiped a document of orders
- Ohnoez they are going to do a major harrowstorm over Solitude!
- Hurried back to Solitude for a council in Svana’s chambers
- Team Solitude formed a plan to test Fennorian and Old Mjolen’s elixir to protect people from the harrowstorms; this required us to get some of Arkay’s sacred oil, but all of it in Solitude had been commandeered by the High King and placed in Castle Dour
- Headed over there to check out the situation; had a word with Swordthane Uthlet who let us take a bottle for testing
- We had to head back into Blackreach to find the Undergrove to test the elixir, so headed back down to find the Midnight Barrow, which turned out to be a delve
- Found a woman called Alwyn outside and got her local-to-delve quest; she was a descendant of a jarl called Hagridden who was tormented by visions of him, and wanted help finding his remains and putting his memory to rest; ran that plot before doing the main one
- Lyris got a little snarky about my going the wrong way but waited for me to come back after finding the Jarl’s remains; called in Ember at this point so I’d have her as backup
- Took out the delve boss
- Discovered the dead Jarl had been under the influence of a woman called Essenia who was responsible for his downfall
- Alwyn hastened back out of the barrow when we were done
- Resumed the main point of the delve and reached the Undergrove with Lyris, at which point Svana and Fennorian caught up
- Took out another head werewolf after the head vampire cut a retreat
- Svana successfully tested the elixir and survived the harrowstorm that came up on us
- Got out of there to return to Solitude and pitch using the elixir to the High King–who basically told his daughter to fuck off and revealed himself as a vampire, ohnoez
- The king fucked off from that point, leaving us all to go oh shit
- Soldier ran in claiming the Temple of the Divines and the Tower of the Wolf in Castle Dour had been taken; I ran off with Swordthane Uthlet to assess the situation
- Svana, Lyris, and Fennorian caught up and we decided the attackers must have come up from Blackreach
- Svana freaked out a little about the prospect of having to kill her father
- So back to Blackreach yet again, but before I did the final push through the plot, went back to find Alwyn and resolve her plot first, because I’d forgotten to do that properly on the way out of the delve
- She decided she was going to properly bury her ancestor’s remains out of mercy, after I told her I felt he was guilty of allowing himself to be influenced by a woman who clearly broadcasted her intentions (Gyllerah not having much patience for weak leaders at this point)
- Headed over to find Greymoor Keep and rendezvoused with Lyris, Fenn, and Svana there
- Lyris presented me with an option to either sneak in or charge across a bridge; went the route of stealth and managed to sneak in through a sluice gate (which Lyris’s voice actor kept mispronouncing, which drove me a little nuts, sluice is not two syllables)
- Got in, met up with the others, started running the place
- Discovered vampire leader Rada al-Saran was doing a ritual to attune Svargrim to the entire keep and let him run the harrowstorm
- We all had to find a way up to the top of the keep to catch up with the vampire king while Rada al-Saran removed himself from the proceedings
- Chasing after Svargrim eventually got us into the tunnels that led up into Castle Dour itself, and we caught up with him at the top of the Tower of the Wolf
- Hard fight! Discovered at that point that he was in fact a vampire lord, since he took on the same kind of form that Harkon does in Dawnguard, and he had similar abilities
- Finally beat him down to the point where Svana was able to kill him, at which point we made our way back down to try to check on the others
- Lyris and Fennorian did a valiant job fighting off a horde of harrowfiends, particularly after Fennorian got a little ubervamp on them
- Went to the hall of the dead to check on survivors there, including the Jarl of Morthal and the swordthane
- Then we learned that Jorunn Skald-King had shown up with a contingent at the gates; messenger flipped out a bit, afraid the city was being attacked, but I went over to check it out and found that Jorunn was bringing his people in to just try to help
- Svana showed up and gave them an official formal welcome
- Sent me over to the Mages Guild to follow up with Fenn and Old Mjolen about their progress making enough elixir, to not only distribute to the people but also even cure those who had become harrowed but not yet gone over to being harrowfiends
- Svana led a remembrance ceremony for the fallen; legit teared up at that, that was great <3
- Took my leave after getting quest rewards
- Returned to Alinor and then Cliffshade for inventory managing
- Finally logged out for the night
Wednesday the 10th
- Ran writs in Alinor
- Launched jewelry writ for Adept Rider ring
- Did some skill rearranging to bump up the scrying skills on the Healer build
- Did a bunch of scrying in Blackwood to get antiquities I hadn’t seen before; made enough on that to get dibellium to make the ring, and terne plating to improve it
- Still needed another iridium plating to finish it up
- Dd a bit more skills rearranging this time on the primary build, took the points off the scrying there and dumped them on medium armor
- Logged out for the night
Special Blend quest
First action in this set of sessions in Coldharbour was to run a side plot, because I feel like when the Groundskeeper told me to make a decision about whether to rescue more allies or begin the Council of War, Gyllerah was adamant about this:
“We leave no one. Period.”
As a player I’m a bit torn about it. Gyllerah crosses her 200th session mark with this post, which makes her my officially longest-running character so far in any Elder Scrolls game. And I do have a bit of fatigue with her, and am thinking about spinning up a different alt just to be somebody else in ESO for a while, and have reason to look at some of the other areas of the map that it seems less likely for Gyllerah to explore.
On the other hand, having more to do in Coldharbour does take a bit of the pressure off. I’m still enjoying balancing this playthrough against the other ones I have in progress. No matter what choice I make in ESO, it’s not like I’m lacking for things to play! So Gyllerah will finish the Main Quest when she finishes it, pretty much.
For now, as of this set of sessions, I went to go run the Everfull Flagon for the quest called Special Blend.
I found this one fun and kind of creepy, what with a tavern full of Nords being permanently drunk because of addictive, enchanted mead. And a “thane” who was clearly the Daedra who’d captured them, and who was the big bad of the plot that I eventually had to take out.
Though I gotta giggle at this particular Daedra’s plans. I wonder how this went over with his dremora compatriots? Imagine if you will this conversation, delivered of course in dremora voices:
Thane Fellrig: “Success! My plans will come to fruition now that I’ve ensnared these mortals!”
Dremora (uh, I dunno, let’s call him “Bob”): Ooh, what devilry have you unleashed upon them?
Fellrig: “Mead! I am giving them endless mead! Mead they’ll never be able to stop drinking!”
Bob, dubiously: “Wait, so you’ve basically got a tavern full of drunken Nords?”
Fellrig: “I sure do!”
Bob: “Oooooookay. And what do you get out of this?”
Fellrig: “Well, as long as they’re all soused off their asses, I have their souls, you see.”
Bob: “But you also have a tavern full of drunken Nords. Have you seen how Nords party? Do you know how much damage a room full of drunken Nords can cause?”
Fellrig: “But if I get them drunk enough they won’t–“
Bob: “Horseshit. They’re Nords. They’re drinking mead constantly even in their own realm. Y’know what they say to insult each other? Milk-drinker. You’ll be lucky if they only burn down your captured tavern, particularly if any of them have that Voice thing they’re always going on about, what’s it called, oh yeah. Thu’um. Have you checked to see if any of them are Dragonborn?”
Fellrig: “Uh, noooooo…. shit. I did notice one of them blew apart a table when she was trying to sneeze…”
Bob: “See? See? They’re not even going to frigging notice that you took their souls if they’re flinging Shouts around.”
Fellrig: “I’m… gonna need some bigger casks.”
Bob: “Have you considered filling them with milk?”
Anyway, despite my dubiousness about Thane Fellrig’s plans, I did enjoy the quest. And it was another one of those where it could play out in different ways depending on your choices. I erred on the side of forgiveness, just so I wouldn’t leave any of these poor sods stuck outside the Hollow City.
Getting add-ons working on the Steam Deck
After getting a few add-ons functional on my Mac install of the game, I finally buckled down and did the equivalent installing on the Steam Deck. Which took a few hoops to jump through, unsurprisingly.
My first attempt to do this, just to see if it would actually work, was to try to install the ESO UI Integration mod into my Vortex. I could not, however, figure out how to get it working. And was slightly disappointed by that, as it would have been nice to manage mods for all my games in one tool! But I didn’t quite have the patience to seriously dig into what I was missing, and punted instead to figuring out how to get Minion onto Linux.
The easiest answer to this appeared to be to install Lutris first, and then use that to install Minion.
I found, however, that I had issues left over from the attempt to install the ESO UI Integration mod. I’d had to manually create an add-ons directory for that–and that turned out to not be where ESO on the Deck thought the add-ons had to be. So I had to:
- Dig down into the directory structure and find the right directory
- Move the add-ons I attempted to install out of my manually created directory, and put them into the correct one
- Then blow away the manually created directory
Once I did that, the next challenge was that there was no Add-Ons menu in controller mode on my Deck. So I added an Escape key to my radial menu on the left trackpad, so I could quickly get to Add-On settings if I needed to.
And that let me confirm that several of the add-ons I wanted had required dependencies, so I nabbed a couple of important libraries.
Once I did all that, I finally had all the add-ons active.
For the interested, this is the list of add-ons (heh, I typed mods, and I’m going to have to fight to keep myself from calling these ‘mods’ instead of ‘add-ons’) I’m running:
- Action Duration Reminder
- Code’s Combat Alerts
- Dressing Room 2018
- Lui Extended
- Map Pins
- RaidNotifier Updated
Most of these were recommended to me by Guild mates, the combat ones especially, for running trials. However, I grabbed Dressing Room 2018 on my own, as well as Lui Extended. The problems I wanted to solve with those are:
- Faster way to swap between my Armory builds
- The ability to keybind going home, so that I could do it just by hitting one button on the Deck or on the Mac’s keyboard, rather than digging a few levels into the Collections menu
Initial finding on Dressing Room though is that it seems clunky, and doesn’t do what I actually want. I.e., immediate swap between my two Armory builds. So I will need to figure out if this is the add-on I want to keep, or if there are better ones that solve this problem. (Recommendations from ESO players reading this are of course welcome.)
Bards College action
I diverted into the Bards College to pick up their quest for recovering lost instruments, mostly because I knew it’d be a way for me to get Winter’s Respite shoes. And I must admit, I was amused by the flamboyant fellow who gave me the quest, and by having to go to the super secret auction to recover Petraloop.
Said auction was a bunch of robed and masked figures, which in any other context in Elder Scrolls games would probably have spelled “coven of necromancers”. But in this context, it just seemed to be “rich assholes who didn’t want it known how much money they were willing to throw around for pricy artifacts”. Particularly the drunken female I actually bought Petraloop from. Who clearly wasn’t very committed to owning it, if I could just wave money in her face and then go outside to talk to her Khajiit servant to actually get the instrument. (A servant who, I might add, made his disdain for his employer rather clear.) LOL.
I turned in Petraloop, as well as the other instrument I’d found in earlier adventuring. We’ll see when I get back to looking for the rest of them.
White-Gold Tower, Revisited
Took another run with Guild mates through White-Gold Tower! And this time, we did it in Veteran mode! This was not actually part of the initial plan, and I was kind of thrown into the deep end doing it in that mode–but I needed to try this eventually anyway, and it was fun, which was the important part.
I did die multiple times, including at the very end. But by gods, I at least finished the dungeon! \0/
Got a bust of Molag Kena out of it, and also a couple more pieces of Spell Power Cure gear. So now I just lack shoes and another ring.
Alliance Points, crafting, and antiquities
I was a little surprised to see that getting enough Alliance Points off of daily rewards apparently can trigger getting skill points! That seemed surprisingly generous, given that I haven’t done anything to speak of with PVP at all. But hey, free skill point!
And this did nudge me along to being able to do Advanced antiquities on the Healer build, since that’s also turned into my “running antiquities” build. Which does help a lot in getting money quickly.
Getting that money quickly did also contribute to my moving Master Writs along as well.
A thing I noted as well was that how I’ve set up my Armory builds does impact my research timers, and whether I get mails from hirelings with the crafting ingredients. So I blew my stashed skill reallocation scrolls and set it up so that both builds are set to get hireling mail. Which means I won’t have to care about always switching back to the Default build when I’m done playing on any given day.
And likewise, I dropped points on the research timers on the Healer build. So the Healer build actually has shorter timers on a couple of things than the Default one does, LOL.
Finishing up Western Skyrim
On the 5th, got in some good mileage with rescuing Fennorian in Blackreach. This phase of the plot also resulted in my getting a new gray wolf pet, which was cool! Though I ultimately decided I preferred the spottyboi doggo I’d already been having follow me around.
And I didn’t plan to run the rest of Western Skyrim’s plot on the 9th, but it just kind of worked out that way!
As part of this burst of adventuring, I found cause to adore both Lyris (for amusing herself killing a swath of werewolves while waiting for me to show up) and Svana (for being a princess who does her own adventuring)! Excellent mileage from both of these characters. <3
Overall, too, really enjoyed the whole team aspect of this plot–it wasn’t just a question of me doing all the work. Fenn and Old Mjolen provided the magical support, Lyris provided the muscle, and Svana provided the royal impetus to make things happen and reach out to other Jarls and such.
There was an awful lot of boinging into and out of Blackreach, though. ;D I mean, for logistically sound plot reasons, to be sure. But I did have a bit of “wait what Blackreach again? Wasn’t I just down there?” going on as I played out the rest of this action.
Every delve has its own local plot, and the Midnight Barrow was no exception. The Prisoner of the Past quest was pretty good, though I raised an eyebrow at the too blatantly obvious naming choice of calling the dead Jarl “Hagridden”. For one thing, it literally means “tormented”, with the heavy connotation of “as of by a witch”. For another, it felt entirely unnecessary to make the guy’s own name be a spoiler, given that his entire history is made obvious as soon as you find the four items Alwyn sends you into the delve to look for.
The Elder Scrolls games aren’t usually quite that clunky in my experience, so this felt really weird and jarring. Other than that, though, like I said, the plot was pretty good. I did like the aspect of the Jarl’s descendant, Alwyn, almost unwillingly coming down to this barrow in a desperate attempt to stave off the visions she was having of him. And you do get some decent arguments to give her for either side of the decision she has to make at the end about what to do with her ancestor’s remains once you both know what happened to him.
Once that was done and I returned to the primary Western Skyrim plot, I did have to be a bit amused about the whole question of Svana testing Fenn’s elixir and surviving the harrowstorm thrown at us. Because there I was also standing there having survived the harrowstorm. And nobody offered me any elixir. ;D But hey, player character immunity!
This led of course into the reveal that High King Svargrim was in fact a vampire. And I’d like to pause here to take a deeper look at this!
Because apparently, Svargrim was a vampire and nobody, but nobody, could tell? I mean, every single other named vampire NPC in this plot was very obviously a vampire, up to and including Fennorian. So how the hell was nobody able to look at Svargrim and figure out something about the king just ain’t right?
Fennorian was even surprised by this. Which means Svargrim was able to hide his nature even from other vampires. And that raises the question: how, exactly, did he do this?
My gut reaction to this was to think that it seemed like a really tall order. But here are the counter arguments:
- I’ve just spent most of Harrowhark’s playthrough in Skyrim with hardly anybody figuring out she’s a vampire, except for the occasional bandit NPCs, so this does not argue in favor of most NPCs being all that particularly alert.
- And in ESO itself, there are even multiple examples of illusions that make you look like somebody else. I’ve experienced these a few times directly, sometimes involving disguising me specifically, and that also very memorable plot involving Razum-dar being disguised as Queen Ayrenn. XD
So it seems reasonable to conclude that Svargrim had some sort of enchanted jewelry set to just throw off the vibe of what he used to look like before he was vamped. Hell, if he was made a vampire lord voluntarily, such an item might even have been made as part of that process, to deliberately hide his nature. All the conniving that the Gray Host does throughout this plot could certainly include that kind of detail.
And from that point onward, the action level of the plot kicked up considerably. As well as the angst level, because of course Svana had to face the prospect of having to kill her own father. She asked me if I could do it, confront and maybe even kill one of my parents; I told her yes, if I had to.
Mind you, Gyllerah barely remembers her parents. She likes to think that they were probably good people, to be sure. But after witnessing multiple dysfunctional relationships during her adventures (Ayrenn and Naemon, Ayrenn and Estre, Aranias and her parents), Gyllerah is well and thoroughly on Team Take No Bullshit Even From Your Own Kin.
The plot didn’t go into this, but I’m super curious as to when exactly Svargrim was made a vampire lord. Did this happen before or after his wife was assassinated? Was he involved with planning his wife’s assassination? Because the vibe I get off this guy is that he was a paranoid asshole long before vampires started threatening Skyrim. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he arranged for one of the Gray Host to come in and off his queen.
And here’s a fun question: did Gerhyld know about her husband’s becoming a vampire? Because if anybody was in a position to guess the truth, it would have been his queen. And it would have been an excellent reason for his being involved with her assassination.
Finding out that Rada al-Saran was pissed about Molag Bal was an interesting little complication. Gyllerah of course has major cause to be sympathetic to anybody that’s anti-Molag Bal. On the other hand, this guy is a vampire, and a hostile one at that, responsible for the deaths of a bucketload of people all over Skyrim. Which blows away any sympathy Gyllerah would have otherwise had. Particularly after meeting Fennorian and seeing that it’s possible for vampires to not want to actively destroy society.
The final fight with Svargrim was a good hard battle. He employed vampire lord tactics I’ve seen Harkon use plenty of times in Dawnguard’s finale: turning into a cloud of bats so he could quickly change positions, levitating himself, summoning up wards to shield himself from damage, and such.
Since I called this issue out on previous recent Gyllerah posts, I also want to explicitly point out that I was very satisfied with it being Svana who dealt the killing blow to her father. Because that was exactly the correct narrative resolution for her entire arc. She’d already been on the path to becoming a good strong ruler, and her confronting her father sealed the deal.
The denouement of the plot showed this as well. I really liked that she greeted Jorunn’s delegation politely, and opened the path for the two realms of Skyrim to establish better relations.
And I legit actually teared up at the scene where she led the singing to honor the fallen in Solitude. That was beautiful. <3 I was delighted to hear multiple voices actually singing there, too, and I love that the game went to that trouble. I can imagine Gyllerah being deeply moved by this, once Lyris even starts singing along with her people.
I envision Gyllerah taking a bit of a wistful leave, though. Gyllerah’s lack of connection to her past, as well as her general distaste for her own people’s culture, means she has some level of envy for the Nords’ ability to join together in song like that.
I’ve taken a bit of an RP break since these sessions, and a lot of my activity in the game has remained focused around writs. But next probable RP activity will be more stuff in Coldharbour. Stay tuned!