Harrowhark Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Harrowhark Becomes Guildmaster, Fights Mudcrabs, and Takes Contracts

This is Harrowhark’s last post documenting stuff I did in her run, since as per this post, I’ve irreversibly fucked up her playthrough and am going to have to cancel it. But I did have a post pending for her, so here are the last three sessions I ran with her.

Main action here is running the Aetherium Forge, becoming Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, fighting a swarm of mudcrabs in Dawnstar, running a few contracts for the Dark Brotherhood, and being revealed as the Brotherhood’s new Listener.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 5/23, 5/26, 6/18/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 74-76

Tuesday May 23rd

  • Started off in Riften in Honeyside
  • Asked Inigo and Lucien to hang out at Honeyside
  • Put on Nightingale gear as I was in the mood for that, and boinged to Windhelm
  • Came in fairly early in the evening, but in the time when I knew Viola would be wandering the city
  • Broke into her house and snurched the items with no problems
  • Got back out again and boinged back to the Thieves Guild
  • Reported back to Delvin and Vex about finishing the Windhelm jobs
  • Unlocked the final merchant in the Ragged Flagon
  • Got Delvin to give me the Summerset Shadows job
  • Returned to Honeyside and got Inigo and Lucien back on duty
  • Boinged back to Windhelm
  • Chatted with Torsten Cruel-Sea, got his directive to recover the locket, and got pointed at Niranye (who, despite us having had the convo near her stall, somehow didn’t overhear our conversation, LOL)
  • Chatted with Niranye, and actually passed the Persuade check to get her to fess up (see, wasn’t that easy? Now I don’t have to break into your house)
  • Headed out from there on foot
  • Killed an ice wraith and an ice wolf near the river
  • Ran Uttering Hills and it was super easy with Inigo and Lucien backing me up; one-shotted many of the Shadows with the Scout Bow, though Linwe himself took a few more tries
  • Wound up with a pile of Summerset Shadows at the stairs XD
  • Burned their banner and took loot
  • Came out of Uttering Hills and swung back over towards the mill so I could take out Viinturuth, which got me overloaded
  • Called Hjalte so I could fast travel
  • Tried to return to the Thieves Guild only to realize I’d forgotten to resolve the quest in Windhelm with Torsten Cruel-Sea, so boinged all the way back to Windhelm to take care of that
  • Returned to the Thieves Guild to check in for real this time
  • Talked to Brynjolf to do the Guildmaster ceremony; fuck yeah, I’m the Guildmaster!
  • Got the Amulet of Articulation
  • Got Guildmaster’s armor from Tonilia
  • Dropped off a bunch of things in Shadowfoot Sanctum; left Linwe’s armor there as well as the Nightingale gear; shifted over to the Shrouded for a little while
  • Went back topside and fast traveled to Honningbrew Meadery
  • Fished at the crossroads, nothing interesting caught
  • Boinged briefly back into Whiterun to sell things, then went back out again to get Hjalte
  • Rode over to Raldbthar
  • Killed a couple of skeevers near Fellglow Keep
  • Re-fought dragon at Shearpoint but it was a base tier dragon and a quick kill
  • Headed to Raldbthar from there
  • Had some trouble with Lucien getting stuck in a couple of places and not following me into Raldbthar; had to do a circuit around the place to finally get him to follow me properly
  • Killed a few frost trolls while doing that, then went in and ran Raldbthar
  • Alain Dufont this time actually knew I was there to confront him, LOL
  • Had a few issues getting Lucien and Inigo past the two spinning blades traps, but did manage to pull it off
  • Didn’t bother with stealth taking out the Falmer since we were a party of three
  • Did get a Falmer blood sample though
  • Cast Waterbreathing at the puzzle at the end so I could clear the fourth of the stuck gears
  • Took out the centurion, and made it to the back where the third shard was
  • Got the loot and took the lift to get out
  • Put on some of the backup armor to get the carry weight up since I was overloaded
  • Went back in the front of Raldbthar to doublecheck i hadn’t missed any Brotherhood clues; answer: had not missed any as far as I could tell
  • Went back out again and boinged to Markarth
  • Came in fairly early in the morning, but found Muiri and reported in about taking out Alain Dufont for her
  • She was vocally disappointed that I hadn’t also taken out Nilsine for her, but Harrow, i feel, had no fucks to give about this
  • After that, sold stuff to Lisbet and Endon, which got me finally back down under carry weight
  • Headed back out to get Hjalte and saddle up
  • Returned to Dark Brotherhood sanctuary–twice, because the game crashed when I tried to fast travel from Markarth
  • Thought that Inigo and Lucien wouldn’t be able to follow me in–but Inigo did come in, although halfway clipped through the floor, LOL, and he had lines about the Sanctuary too
  • Reported back to Astrid and got payment for the job
  • Also got her objective to go spy on Cicero, so went ahead and did that, which required me to park in the Night Mother’s coffin (ew)
  • Cue Cicero babbling, and the Night Mother going HELLO I WILL TALK TO YOU (yikes?)
  • Night Mother told me to go to Volunruud and talk to Amaund Motierre
  • Emerged to be confronted by Cicero, and uh yeah I appear to be your new Listener?
  • Enter Astrid; told her what was going on, and she was not happy about this; told me to get new jobs from Nazir while she thinks about it
  • Got two new contracts from Nazir to take out Lurbuk and Hern
  • Then exited the sanctuary and boinged back to Lakeview; saved there for the night

Friday May 26th

  • Forgot to note in prior session: leveled up to 59; I think I took a Health bump?
  • Spent 2 perk points since I’d forgotten to spend the one for the level 58 level up; went ahead and finished out the Smithing skills
  • Picked up again in Lakeview
  • Made some weapons out of stockpiled materials and did a bunch of alchemy
  • Went outside and helped Team Dragonborn fight off a wolf attack
  • Mounted up and boinged to Markarth
  • Slept the night at the Silver Blood inn
  • Sold stuff to Lisbet
  • Went to Hag’s Cure and gave Bothela her spadefish
  • Sold stuff to Ghorza
  • Hunted around until I finally found Endon in his house, and sold him stuff too
  • Went out and rode off to find Deep Folk Crossing
  • Took north branch of road out of Markarth
  • Dragon showed up by Kolskeggr mine but primarily targeted the Forsworn there
  • I took out the dragon, then the Forsworn came at me; hey, you assholes, I HELPED SAVE YOUR ASSES JUST NOW
  • Took out the Forsworn
  • Went through Karthwasten and saw initial convo there
  • Made my way up and past Peryite shrine; didn’t get close enough to discover it for map
  • Sabre cat not too far from Deep Folk Crossing; also Forsworn that killed a peddler and her horse
  • Reached Deep Folk Crossing and got the Aetherium shard
  • HI KATRIA! Meet you at the forge!
  • Boinged to Alchemist’s Shack to get within range of Ruins of Bthalft
  • Bandits right near the Imperial camp; one of them attacked us, but the other two looked like they actually engaged the Imperials
  • Found after the fight that the Imperials’ horses were dead, and so were a couple of the Imperials; oops
  • But this also cleared Bthalft so there’s that
  • Found Katria actually trying to mine the corundum vein nearby; hon, you are a ghost, how do you think this is going to work?
  • Opened up the Forge though and ran it; made the crown as per usual
  • RIP Katria, I will hand your asshole apprentice his ass when I eventually see him, just for you
  • Got heavily overloaded looting all the automations coming out though
  • Mounted up and boinged to Riften
  • Sold a bunch of stuff at the Thieves Guild
  • Got Sapphire to back off of Shadr (good to be the Guildmaster!)
  • Sold a few things to merchants as well, then decided to ride overland to Dawnstar
  • Got shot at near Fort Dunstad but did not engage
  • Made it to Dawnstar but rode straight through town, and then around to the beach to engage the mudcrabs–which for some damn reason were INVISIBLE
  • Found the dead mage and got his journal
  • Saved at that point until next time

Sunday June 18th

  • Picked up near Dawnstar where we’d fought the mudcrabs
  • Hoofed it back a little towards Dawnstar with Inigo and Lucien
  • Killed a frost troll and a couple of bandits as I hoofed it towards the Saturnalia merchant’s camp
  • Found his reindeer fighting one of the bandits in fact
  • At that point decided to just fast travel back to Riften
  • Found Viriya in Haelga’s bunkhouse and resolved the crabs quest with her; got the Alik’r fishing rod
  • Asked her if there were any further fishing bounties to do; got the one for Fangtusk in Windhelm
  • Did a little alchemy in Honeyside as I was carrying a bunch of ingredients
  • Went down into the Thieves Guild and sold a bunch of stuff to Tonilia
  • Came back up and found dead thief just outside the market so snurched his stuff
  • Slept the night in Honeyside then got up to shop
  • Met by courier who gave me a note from Swims re: arctic fish
  • Sold a few things at the Pawned Prawn
  • Went over to the fishery to speak to Swims; got the list of arctic fish and read his Vol. 3 book
  • Went in back of the fishery to do a bit more fishing; finally got the second goldfish for Mila
  • Boinged to Whiterun and slept at Breezehome
  • Cleared out the cached building mats and alchemy ingredients there, which made me overloaded
  • Gave mila her fish and got her key for her little treasure chest
  • Tromped out to get my horse and fast traveled to Lakeview; dropped off a bunch of things
  • Put Inigo and Lucien on standby so I could go do some assassinating
  • Changed into the Shrouded Armor and went out on foot with intent to go to the mill
  • Didn’t get very far before an Ancient Dragon showed up, so had to fight that
  • It started strafing the house, so went back up there to take it out, along with Lydia and Rayya
  • Headed to mill, take two
  • Killed the two skeletons along the road
  • Spotted the hunter’s horse
  • Made it within range of the mill and spotted moving quest marker; Hern was actually on the move
  • Managed to one-shot him while hidden in the trees, fuck yeah
  • Poisoned my bow with lotus extract from Muiri in Markarth, but wound up using both bottles of it because I got distracted by a bear
  • Tried to fast travel to Morthal, but couldn’t because I realized I was very near Falkreath Watchtower, which has hostiles
  • Went a little further back towards the mill
  • Spotted a black wolf that didn’t seem to be hostile, weirdly, even though I shot at it; left it be and then got far enough from the watchtower that I could fast travel
  • Landed in Morthal early in the morning, so went to hide out in Myrwatch until nightfall
  • Did a little smelting of stuff and slept a bunch to kill time, then went back out again and went to the inn
  • Lurbuk was asleep; tried to pickpocket him which actually woke him up and pissed him off, so rolled back to try again
  • This time I pickpocketed poison into his pockets; that hit most of his health but not all of it
  • Tried again, which woke him up again and pissed him off, and got me a 25 gold bounty
  • Quaffed a potion of invisibility though so he lost track of me and went back to bed, LOL
  • A guard came running in to try to arrest me, and I bribed him to get him to fuck off
  • Pickpocketed Lurbuk again to try to place another poison, and finally got him
  • Hoofed it quickly out of the inn and fast traveled to the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary
  • Astrid met me on the way in and told me she’d decided it was foolish to ignore a directive from the Night Mother, so she wanted me to go to Volunruud
  • Reported in to Nazir and got payment for both of the contracts
  • Boinged back to Lakeview
  • Got courier with a note from Chief Burguk, nd saved there

Dark Brotherhood stuff

I was curious, heading into Raldbthar this time, how different confronting Alain Dufont would be. Answer: he specifically knew I was there to come after him. And he tried to get snarky about my not having any words for him, and claimed I was so terrified of him that no words were coming.

Which was hilarious given that, as per usual, I proceeded to then one-shot him with my dragonbone sword.

And of course, when I returned to Markarth to check in with Muiri and collect her payment, she was vocally disappointed about my not also taking out Nilsine for her. I feel Harrow had no fucks to give about this. Particularly given that Muiri herself even said that killing Nilsine was outside the parameters of the contract. I feel like if Muiri had wanted a Dark Brotherhood contract out on Nilsine too, she should have damn well included that in her initial call to the Brotherhood.

There is also a question here of whether it’s even kosher for a Dark Brotherhood assassin to kill somebody their contract does not actively cover. If this were the Morag Tong we were talking about here, I’d say definitely no taking out anybody not explicitly included in the contract. Especially given that, as far as I know, they still retain legal sanction in Morrowind as of the time frame of Skyrim.

With the Brotherhood, though, it’s a murkier question. Astrid’s branch of the Brotherhood in particular may be more flexible about this than Brotherhood traditionalists, maybe. I have the sense that Astrid would be all “as long as we get paid, who cares whether it was initially part of the official contract or not?”

Nazir… open question. I haven’t played the Brotherhood in an unmodded playthrough, so my experience so far is only with the modded version in Harrow’s run. In that context, I’m getting the sense that not everybody even in Astrid’s little group would approve of taking out people not explicitly covered in contracts. This may include Nazir, mostly based on how he tells the Dragonborn that the Brotherhood restored a kind of peace to his life.

Cicero, on the other hand, I feel would probably not approve. Even though he’s absolutely batshit crazy, he also strikes me as having a very stringent adherence to the traditions of the Brotherhood.

Which of course also raises the question of whether the Night Mother herself would approve or not. This part isn’t clear to me, just from what I see in Dark Brotherhood lore on the wiki. But given that the Brotherhood is supposed to operate based on a person doing the correct ritual, the Night Mother hearing them, and relaying the contract to a Listener, it feels like to me that this means the Night Mother has to approve the petitioner’s ritual. And if the petitioner happens to say later “I want you to also kill this other person and I’ll pay you extra” to the assassin, that’s not part of the ritual. So it’s outside the scope of what the Night Mother gave her blessing to do.

The very first of the Five Tenets explicitly says to not dishonor the Night Mother. So I feel like killing somebody other than who the Night Mother explicitly told you to kill bends that tenet real hard, if not outright breaks it.

Harrow in particular, though? I think she just took this as “I’m not killing a person not explicitly covered by our contract, no matter how pissed off you are at her parents. Fuck off.”

Speaking of the Brotherhood, I was legit surprised that Inigo actually followed me into the Sanctuary. In an unmodded run, followers are not supposed to be able to go in there with you. But apparently Inigo’s auto-catchup AI kicked in, and moved him into the Sanctuary with me when I came back to report that Muiri’s contract was fulfilled. Sorta kinda. By which I mean, Inigo followed me in–but he also clipped halfway through the floor the whole time he was in there with me. Which was very disconcerting!

He had some pithy commentary about the place, too. Called it “Murder HQ” and didn’t like the vibe of it. Which struck me as interesting given that he’d explicitly told Harrow earlier in the playthrough that his parents had been assassins, and good people. So I have a hard time taking this as Inigo being disapproving of assassins per se. Maybe he was just picking up on the vibe of Astrid’s group in particular being kinda fucked up. Which, legit.

And this leads me to the part where I actually had to hide in the Night Mother’s coffin, and she talked to me. Yikes. But also a little bit of LOL. I feel like for any other character I’ve ever run, they’d be pretty freaked out by being addressed by a corpse. This, however, is Harrowhark, named for Harrowhark Nonagesimus, necromancer supreme. She is totally fucking unfazed by being addressed by a corpse.

(Even this version of Harrow, who turned out to be less of a necromancer in this run than I was anticipating.)

Interlude: Team Dragonborn vs. mudcrabs

When I went to Dawnstar to do the part of the Fishing quest line that involves fighting the mudcrab swarm there, the game threw me an unexpected curveball: for some damn reason, the mudcrabs were invisible.

This made fighting them quite complicated. I think Inigo and Lucien got most of them, and which ones they didn’t get, Hjalte stomped on. It also made actually looting them complicated as well. I had to do a lot of casting Detect Dead to find their bodies.

I suspect, but do not know for sure, that this may have been a glitch caused by the Realistic Animals and Predators mod? I see a bunch of forum posts talking about a similar glitch reported by other players, and the majority of those posts are talking about this being caused by that mod.

So I will need to note this for reference if I want to consider using that mod in a future playthrough.

And, more Dark Brotherhood stuff

Taking out Hern at the mill was surprisingly easy. I also noted with interest that he’d actually left his house; I didn’t have to break in to get him. I just had to hide nearby and one-shot him when he was within range.

I wasn’t sure where he was actually going, though. I couldn’t find any good info about that on the wiki. And I’d thought that he usually just hid in the house all the time.

Taking out Lurbuk in Morthal, by contrast, was surprisingly difficult! I tried to do the “pickpocket poison into a target’s pockets” thing, since that seemed like the best course of action in an inn. But really, I should have just one-shotted him. 😉 Or waited until I was better at the Pickpocketing skill. Waking up the target with skill failures was just professionally embarrassing.

I found it highly amusing as well that once I returned to Lakeview, I got a courier with a note from Chief Burguk in Dushnikh Yal–who actually thanked me for killing Lurbuk. This is the standard “rival of someone you killed thanking you for doing the deed” note you can get in Skyrim sometimes. But in this particular case, it had the extra oomph of being from an Orc chieftain.

Because according to the wiki, Lurbuk was actually Burguk’s son! This raises a bunch of questions about the relationship Lurbuk had with his father and with his tribe. Was he exiled from Dushnikh Yal? Did his tribe find him an embarrassment because he was a bard, because he was bad at it, or both?

And I also gotta wonder how exactly Burguk knew I did the deed. Dara proposed that Malacath told him. “So, you know that embarrassing son of yours who didn’t deserve to be called an Orc? Somebody did you a solid. Just so you know.”


Next time

Unfortunately there is not actually going to be a next time for Harrow, given that I had a disastrous loss of all her saves since February, thanks to fucking up trying to fix her broken playthrough.

So I’m canceling her playthrough completely. Stand by for a wrapup post about this.


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.