Ganniwer Playthrough,  Oblivion

In Which Ganniwer Joins the Arena

Back over in my Oblivion playthrough, I made the foolish choice of trying to move the main plot along at level 3! Those of you who know what happens when you try to go to Kvatch to find Martin Septim will know to what degree I had my ass handed to me by this decision. Snerk.

Play by play

  • Play date: 5/13/2023
  • Session number in this run: 5
  • Lots of false starts in this session in general
  • Picked up in the Imperial City
  • Hoofed it out to run the Zero Visibility quest at Aleswell
  • Found the invisible innkeeper; got the directive to go down to the nearby ruined Fort Caractacus and find the mage there who probably caused the problem (narrator: the mage had, in fact, caused the problem)
  • Also, the mage was invisible, but I talked him into giving me the counter-spell
  • Discovered from the wiki only after I’d gone back to the village that I missed a step, though, and had to go back to the fort to talk to him again; bribed his disposition up high enough to fess up that he also needed to give me a ring of protection in case the spell had side effects
  • Got the ring, and also read a couple of his skill books
  • Returned to the village and made the town visible again; got the free inn room
  • Innkeeper made jokes about wishing his sisters could still be invisible and they were, in fact, bitchy at me
  • Slept there and leveled up to level 3
  • Returned to the stables outside the city
  • Ran the quest to get free horse armor for my horse; took a couple of tries because I had to park the horse in a specific place in order to get the orc stable mistress to give me the free armor
  • Also saw that her overall appearance was fucked up so i turned off the character overhaul mod
  • Got Elven armor for the horse and heh looks like the stuff in Skyrim, yep
  • Attempted next to ride to Kvatch; fought a lot of wolves and bandits on the way
  • Went through Skingrad on the way but didn’t linger
  • Took several tries to get through the Kvatch part of the plot
  • NPC called Hirtel came running to warn me the city had been overrun by Daedra and the guards were trying to hold the road
  • I went up to find out what was going on and volunteered to help
  • The captain sent me into the Oblivion gate that had opened up blocking access to the city gates, and this took several tries as I kept getting killed
  • The Oblivion gate dropped me into the Deadlands
  • Found NPC Ilend fighting scamps
  • Tried several times to get past this point; first time through I let Ilend flee out the gate but got killed shortly thereafter myself, so subsequent times, asked him to come with me
  • Lots of scamps and dremora, and I kept dying fast
  • Finally found the remaining captive who told me to get up to the sigil stone, and that I’d need the key off the keeper i’d just killed (conveniently)
  • Could not free said prisoner though
  • Fought my way after several attempts to the sigil stone and used it to trigger getting back to Tamriel
  • The captain was stunned to see me come back, and asked me to help him and his men make a charge back into the city
  • Good idea, bad execution, because wave of clannfear and a dremora or two meant I kept dying hardcore
  • Last time through actually made it into the temple and found Martin Septim
  • Had initial conversation with him, and actually sold him on the idea of being the Emperor’s son, but he refused to abandon the people under his protection
  • However, got killed again trying to get back out and clear the way for Martin to accompany me out
  • So went ‘fuck it’ and decided Kvatch was too damned difficult for me to run at level 3
  • Rolled back to the point of getting the Elven armor for the horse at the stables, and re-did that
  • Then went back into the Imperial city and checked out the Arena
  • Made a bet on the Blue team, then tried to join the Arena and got gear for the Blue team
  • Was not allowed to have a match while I still had an active bet, so went to go watch the fight–and the Blue team lost, oops
  • Had to clear my business with the elven bookie before I could take my own match
  • Got my first fight; killed the first time through, so had to do it again
  • Second time through I beat the Yellow team combatant
  • Tried a second fight, but that guy had heavy gear and killed me
  • Rolled back and re-did fight number one, won that time
  • Got paid 50 gold
  • Went back out into the city and rented a room at the Merchants Inn
  • Saved at the inn until next time

Pre-Kvatch commentary

Getting this session going took repeated false starts. Mostly surrounding making it to Kvatch.

But before I did that, I ran the Zero Visibility quest at Aleswell, north-ish of the Imperial City. The wiki recommended this as a good initial starter quest, in no small part because it’s one way of getting a free place to sleep. And since Oblivion does require you to sleep to level up, like Morrowind, having a guaranteed place to sleep is wise.

And at least in Oblivion, unlike in Morrowind, I should be able to fast travel to get back to that inn. So I don’t have to hoof it all the way back there if I need to sleep.

In general, this quest was super easy. And utterly unsurprising. I mean, of course the mage hanging out in the nearby ruins was responsible for turning the entire town invisible, and hadn’t realized he’d done so. Thereby upholding the grand tradition of experimenting mages all over Tamriel accidentally (or deliberately!) fucking things up for nearby citizens. 😉

I suppose the only vaguely surprising part of this was that the mage was not in fact hostile, and all I had to do to get him to give me the counter-spell was bribe him. Or, more specifically, give me the counter-spell and a protective ring to keep that spell from fucking me up. I’m glad I checked the wiki about this, because otherwise I’d have done myself some damage trying to help out the village!

Second thing I tried: running the quest to get free armor for my horse. This took me two tries, as I noted above. Apparently because I had to specifically park the horse in a particular place, and talk to the Orc proprietor inside the main building.

The second try got me the armor, anyway. Which as expected did pretty much look like the stuff that got ported to Skyrim with the Horse Armor Creation! Skyrim’s of course looks better but the Oblivion version honestly looks pretty good too.

Running that mod did clue me in though that the Character Overhaul mod I wanted to try was going to be problematic. The Orc rendered weirdly enough that I just punted the mod back out of the playthrough and picked up again from there. Ah well. I didn’t like the look the mod gave to Ganniwer either, so it’s all good. (Hopefully this won’t fuck my playthrough over? We’ll find out!)

Worth noting as well that once the horse was armored up, it certainly did seem to help keep him alive as I rode over to Kvatch. I did fight a bunch of critters on the way, and the horse did get in on the combat! So having him armored was a good call. The wiki says that horse armor does not actually improve the horse’s armor rating, though; it improves the horse’s health. (A detail also preserved in the Skyrim Horse Armor Creation.)

Kvatch commentary

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m going to take it as read that I cannot be the first Oblivion player ever to notice how close “Kvatch” is to “kvetch”. Dara in fact called this out when I mentioned this part of the session to her, LOL. So with that, let me proceed to kvetch about Kvatch. 😉

In general, I was very, very not ready for this yet. The wiki was advising trying to run Kvatch sooner rather than later, on the grounds that if you wait too long, the monsters will level up accordingly and you’ll be fighting a boatload of storm atronachs. But that said? Level 3 was clearly too damned early.

It took me multiple tries to get through the part where the captain of the guards sends me into the Oblivion gate to try to shut it down. I got killed a lot doing that. And even though I eventually made it out again, I also discovered that the next phase of the plot was just not going to happen. I tried to join the few remaining guards in making a charge back into the city, only to be slammed in the face with a wave of clannfear that I could not break through for the life of me.

I got through them to Martin in the temple once. Only to get killed again as soon as I tried to come back out and clear a path for him and those he was guarding to escape.

Here are some general observations about this whole experience.

One: I discovered that I could walk right through the Oblivion gate without actually activating it, to reach the city gate beyond. LOL. Which raises the question of whether this will apply to all Oblivion gates I see open up? Guess I’m gonna find out!

Two: The Oblivion gate dropped me into the Deadlands, and several aspects of that definitely looked familiar from The Cause quest in Skyrim’s AE. So good on that Creation for making it look appropriate. I saw several familiar plants, as well as the Fleshy Pods and the Punished.

Three: Ilend, the main soldier NPC I found when I went through the gate, was sometimes useful and sometimes not so much. Even when I had him come with me to save his comrade, he frequently got killed too. At which point I just punted to looting his body for his gear, since he had light chainmail armor on, and that was better than the leather armor I was wearing.

And I definitely needed the better gear to fight my way through the rest of the level.

Four: When I finally made it to the temple and met Martin, I had a big reaction of LOL YEP THAT SURE IS SEAN BEAN. And resigned myself to spending the entirety of this game reminding myself that Martin Septim is not, in fact, Boromir. No matter how much he sounds like him.

I ran the initial conversation with him, and sold him on the idea that I was not trying to bullshit him and that okay yeah fine, maybe the Emperor had sent me to find him. But he also refused to leave the people he’d brought into the temple. Aw. What a nice Martin!

And I’ll say this about his initial lines, too: Sean Bean sold the hell out of them. I was immediately struck by how this guy was clearly having a crisis of faith, but also doing his damndest to hold it together for the people he’d brought into the shelter of the temple. Way to go there, game writers. And also Sean Bean. <3

Too damn bad I had to roll back and retcon the entire encounter out of existence!

Also, I am sad that I neglected to take any screencaps of Martin. I will rectify this problem when I take another run at Kvatch!

Rolling back to horse armor, and signing up at the Arena

By the time I got to Martin, I was thoroughly tired of being instakilled every few minutes. So I went ctrl-alt-fuckit and decided to roll back to the Imperial City.

My last save had put me at the point of getting the horse armor, so I re-did that bit. And then went to go sign up for the Arena.

Mind you, I wasn’t terribly engaged by the Arena. But I do recognize its potential as a way for me to practice Oblivion’s combat mechanics, and as a useful way to build up a cash reserve. Because I’m going to need that to pay for better gear to make my next run at Kvatch, clearly!

Not entirely retconning what happened at Kvatch

One additional note here: I’m proclaiming that all the retconned bits of this session that happened at Kvatch never actually really happened. But I’m keeping them in the narrative as Ganniwer having nightmares about what’s to come, while still in the Imperial City. Because Uriel Septim VII isn’t the only person in this plot who can have premonitory nightmares!

And this is going to bother the fuck out of her, after the Emperor told her all about the visions he’d been having. And how he’d seen her in a dream.

So here’s Ganniwer having visions of a city under Daedra assault and this son of the Emperor’s she’s supposed to be finding–and how she keeps dying over and over trying to do this. When all she wants is to just see her sister again, so why can’t she have dreams about her sister?

I think she’s afraid of forgetting what Tembriel looks like. And she’d give anything to see her sister again, even in a dream. Instead, she’s getting visions of Martin Septim. Which also unnerves the hell out of her. Because given that I am a romantic sucker, I am totally going to have Ganniwer fall for him. Muahaha.

Particularly after I found some delicious fan art of Martin, too. Because holy shit, that artist made him super gorgeous. And made him look more like Sean Bean, for that matter. I can work with this! This will in fact be my headcanon appearance for what he looks like for this narrative. 😀

One other thing I decided about the backstory here, after my last Morrowind session in which Caius Cosades was recalled to the Imperial City: I am also putting it into the narrative here that Tembriel tried to have Caius find Ganniwer and tell her what was going on with her.

I think Caius brought Ganniwer the last letter she received directly from Tembriel. But I don’t think he was able to maintain regular contact with Ganniwer for whatever reason–probably because the Blades made a point of putting him somewhere out of the way, due to his skooma habit. And probably also a heaping side helping of wanting to make sure the main guy who knew anything about Tembriel’s mission from the Emperor wasn’t going to go blabbing it around.

There are questions here, even, of how much Tembriel herself would have felt it appropriate to say in that letter. I don’t think she would have said straight out that she is the Nerevarine. At most she probably would have said that the Emperor had sent her to Morrowind on a mission, that she was in the Blades now, and acting on the Emperor’s orders. And that she’d try to get back to Cyrodiil as soon as she could.

Which of course would not be good enough for Ganniwer. I daresay she struggled for a couple of years trying to go through aboveboard channels to get the Blades to tell her more about where the hell Tembriel was. To no avail, and that probably drove her to trying to get info via more illicit means.

Next time

Probably more fighting in the Arena.


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.