Elessir Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Elessir Saves Dawnstar and Finds a Lost Drum

Another single-session post, this time for Elessir, as I try to keep my backlog of game notes moving. 🙂

This session features running the nightmares plot in Dawnstar and getting the drum out of Halldir’s Cairn. With a heaping side helping of WTF as I discover the game put itself into Master tier Difficulty without my wanting it to.

Play by play

  • Play date: 9/6/2023
  • Session number in this run: 14
  • Started off in Dawnstar
  • Went into the inn and talked to Erandur to get the nightmares plot going
  • Headed up to Nightcaller Temple with him and Lucien and Lydia
  • Killed by the snow bears up there 😛
  • Take two: swapped up to dragonscale armor, and this time we took out the bears
  • Got Erandur to tell me the spiel of what we should expect inside
  • Paused to set up the tent for Lucien and Lydia, then headed on in to run the place
  • Kept getting killed by Orcish invaders over and over; realized my Difficulty was set to Master, WTF
  • Kicked it back down to Adept and that made things easier
  • Tried out the Ice Form Shout on one of those Orcs as I was fighting him
  • Finally played the end of it, ignored Vaermina as per usual, and let Erandur destroy the Skull of Corruption
  • Stumbled across an Orc we’d missed on the way out and the bastard killed me–but I didn’t have to replay the end of the plot, i just got thrown back to the stairs
  • Avoided the dark corner with the Orc in it on the way out
  • Grabbed assorted loot on the way out
  • Slept in the tent after replenishing the fire
  • Since this is a two-bedroll tent, noted that Lucien did use the other bedroll, that’s cool
  • Horse-called to get Hildr and rode down into Dawnstar
  • Akhari’s Khajiit were on site so sold stuff to her
  • Heard a wolf barking nearby and I think the Khajiit went after it, though I didn’t see it
  • Rode on down into the town, stopped at the forge, and sold stuff to Rustleif
  • Got his quest to bring him Night Falls On Sentinel, pointing at Swindler’s Den
  • Then went over to see if Silus would talk to me and not try to attack me this time; answer: yes!
  • Got the quest to get the pieces of the Razor
  • But first boinged back to Lakeview for general inventory managing and building
  • Had a bunch of iron ore on me, so started on the Bedroom Wing of the house
  • Did some alchemy, but then realized I didn’t have previous items on me with alchemy enchantments
  • Went to Whiterun to sell stuff
  • Decided to adjust Immersive Armors’ settings a bit and make the various mage robes Light Armor
  • Then headed west with a rough idea of doing a circuit and hitting a bunch of smaller quests
  • Flyby dragon by the watchtower
  • Encountered wolves near Barleydark Farm, three and then an extra one
  • Farmer going to Windhelm was also nearby, and our fighting the wolves saved him
  • Made it to Hendraheim, realized that I also didn’t have the Ruby Dragon Claw, and did a hunt for my missing items
  • Boinged to Tundra Homestead and got zombies just outside the house, so had to kill all of them
  • Used Tundra Homestead’s smelter to break down their weapons into usable ingots
  • Boinged to Myrwatch and hadn’t left stuff there either, except for the wabbajack
  • Saw a bunch of stuff go flying as soon as I entered Myrwatch’s upper level, used Tidy Up mod to set stuff back in place
  • Came back out again and harvested some deathbell to help replenish my supply
  • Boinged back to Lakeview and realized where my missing stuff was: on the horse
  • Cleared Hildr’s saddlebags and did a bit more building in the Bedroom Wing
  • Boinged to Hendraheim to drop off the Ruby Dragon Claw there
  • Rode towards Falkreath and stopped at the Roadside Ruins; took out the spriggan in there
  • Realized that I had not in fact actually triggered the Bittercup quest yet, oops, will have to come back later
  • Proceeded from there to Halldir’s Cairn
  • Started running the place, which went easier with two followers
  • Discovered yet another new to me bug: the pillar puzzle wasn’t working, known issue shown for this dungeon on the wiki
  • Lucien hit me with some heals after a fight with ghosts, awesome! Teaching that boy Healing Hands was definitely useful! <3
  • Lydia got blocked out of the boss chamber but Lucien got in, so he was able to throw a bunch of fire in Halldir’s face
  • Cleared the place, looted it, and got out again with a bunch of mushrooms and also additional iron ore
  • Returned to Lakeview and saved there until next time

Mystery Master Difficulty bug

This session of Elessir’s now marks the second time I’ve seen my Skyrim Difficulty level set to Master without my explicitly setting it to that, and I’m confused as fuck about this.

While running Nightcaller Temple and getting killed over and over by Orcish invaders, I kept thinking “Why am I so squishy”–and then went WTF as I checked my Difficulty level. It was set to Master. I’d thought I was running Elessir on Adept, the default setting.

The weird thing here is not just that I hadn’t explicitly set my Difficulty level. The weird thing is that I’ve done this on both the Switch and the Deck now–because this happened fairly early on in Kendis’ run, too. In Kendis’ run, I’d thought at the time that I’d simply forgotten to adjust the Difficulty back down from when I’d run Faanshi. But that is not applicable for Elessir, because I haven’t run any prior playthroughs on the Deck where I’d gone to Master level.

Possibilities that present themselves here:

One, I could still be right about having forgotten to adjust Kendis’ run back down after running Faanshi, and maybe something is wonky with the mods I’m running as Elessir. Because shit, lobbing 112 mods in on top of a Skyrim run means 112 opportunities for additional bugs to be introduced.

Two, potential user error. I could have accidentally hit that field while trying to adjust something else on the Gameplay settings? Not likely as I don’t typically adjust the Gameplay settings very much once a playthrough is started. But I can’t rule this out.

(Even though it seems highly unlikely given that I’ve now seen this twice on the Deck and maybe also once on the Switch.)

And three, which is where my SDET brain kicks into gear: a potentially funky edge case in which if you start up a second AE game on the same device, the second one for some reason defaults to Master difficulty. Which, if you don’t catch this, could also impact any prior playthrough in progress like it did with my Skyrim Together run, and with Elessir.

And because I am an SDET, just going over this in my head suggests a bunch of different potential vectors through which I could be triggering an edge case:

1. Running on the Steam Deck
2. Running on the Switch (if my observed behavior there applied here)
3. Running the Anniversary Edition
4. Running mods in general (though the Switch potential repro was NO MODS)
5. Launching a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) game with the AE on the same device
6. Using Vortex profiles to swap between playthroughs (though again, not relevant on the Switch)

Overall this is smelling like an edge case specifically caused if you launch a subsequent game after having had a game before with the AE on the same device. But it doesn’t seem to repro all the time.

And now that my SDET brain is engaged, I may just have to poke at this and see if I can repro this on purpose.

Really needing to get better at using more esoteric Shouts

I decided to try out the Ice Form Shout while I was fighting one of the several Orc invaders inside Nightcaller Temple. Searching all my previous posts, I found that almost all previous references to the Ice Form Shout were me just getting the words for it. I only actually tried it once, as Ysani. Which got me killed by a Riften guard I accidentally hit with it.

This time though, I was successful in using it. And it was pretty much like hitting an opponent with Chillrend. Awesome. I really need to remember this for particularly difficult opponents.

Oops, missed one

It was kind of embarrassing to finish running the plot, make my goodbyes to Erandur–and then get killed by an Orc we missed, on the way out.

Fortunately, I only got thrown back to the stairs, immediately following Erandur’s destruction of the Skull of Corruption. So I didn’t have to replay that part.

I was overloaded at this point though, and Erandur had already gone on ahead to his shrine at the entryway of the temple. So I just avoided that dark corner on the way out the second time.

And I shall assume for narrative’s sake that Erandur found that Orc and kicked his ass later. ;P

“Where the fuck did I leave this,” Skyrim style

I’ve written before about how the plethora of houses you can get in Skyrim makes it super easy to lose track of where all your loot is. But now that I’m running Convenient Horses, this adds “on the horse” to the list of places where a thing can be.

And I am not used to that, yet! I boinged around through all of Elessir’s houses, trying to remember where the hell I left the Ruby Dragon Claw as well as the various things I had with Alchemy enchantments on them.

It took me going to all of those houses before I finally remembered that derp, I had put a bunch of stuff in Hildr’s saddlebag! I’ve tried to establish a habit of unloading the horse any time I either get back to a house or get to a city to sell stuff. But clearly I need to work harder on that!

Mage robes = Light Armor? Awesome

Immersive Armors has settings in it that let you tweak whether certain types of gear count as Unarmored, Light Armor, or Heavy Armor. I wasn’t going to mess with those, just because by and large, all the default settings seemed fine.

Until I gave Lucien the Dwemer mage robes. Because while I’m training Lucien up to be the mage of this run’s Team Dragonborn, I don’t know if he’s got access to the same kinds of Mage Armor perks that a player character does. And I feel like the design of the Dwemer mage robes, anyway, just looks like they’re a bit more substantial than ordinary robes. I want some AC on that boy just to keep him better protected while he’s flinging spells around for me!

Likewise, I adjusted other types of mage robes as well, thinking ahead for me. Because I really want to try the Ebony Mage Robes on Elessir. Possibly also the Tribunal ones. I’m pretty damn sure Elessir doesn’t worship the Tribunal, but the gear looks cool.

I’ll need to experiment with the settings, though. I may keep them as Light Armor up until I’m powerful enough to get all the Mage Armor perks and be able to cast, say, Ebonyflesh without eating all of my magicka.

Because Elessir, like his namesake, should also pack a magical punch.

Items going flying in Myrwatch

This session, I noticed particularly egregious items flying all over the place in Myrwatch when I came up to the Gallery level. I was able to use the Tidy Up mod’s power to put stuff back where it belonged, but I triggered that behavior twice. And wow, it’s annoying.

Items going flying is, I think, one of the reasons why I haven’t started using the AE houses as storage locals more than I have. It’s annoying to set foot in a house and see stuff go flying all over the place.

On any further modded runs, I think I’ll need to see if there are any patches that fix this kind of buggy behavior in the various AE houses. It’d be nice to be able to fix that.

And I’m super curious as to what the hell causes it, too. It seems like it’s a common problem in several of the player homes that the AE brings in.

And speaking of bugs

Running Halldir’s Cairn this time triggered a bug that was new to me, which is saying something given how many times I’ve played through Skyrim now.

There’s a pillar puzzle partway through this dungeon. And if the bug happens, you’ll see that the pillars just don’t frigging do anything when you try to activate them. When I checked the wiki, I saw that this was a known issue with a couple of recommended fixes:

  1. Try to load from a previous save
  2. Walk out of the dungeon and back in again

Option 1 did not work for me. Option 2, though, did. I noticed when I did this and came back in that the various pillars had changed which symbols they were displaying, which suggests that my previous attempts to activate them had in fact changed their statuses. It was just that the game wasn’t registering the actions visually, maybe.

But the important thing here was, the pillars worked again when I came back in, and I was able to finish the dungeon. Weird bug, though. I wonder if the pillar status got stuck in a cache or something, and going outside and coming back in again fixes that?

Lucien in Halldir’s Cairn

Lucien hit me with a Healing Hands spell after we fought a group of ghosts about three quarters of the way through the dungeon. Excellent. Shaping that boy up as the party mage and healer is definitely providing beneficial. <3 I should see about teaching him Heal Other, too. Maybe also Necromantic Healing if I can find multiple copies of it, just because that may be beneficial later when running Dawnguard.

Also noteworthy is that when we ran the boss chamber with Halldir, Lydia got trapped on the other side of the gate when it went down. Lucien, however, did not. I think his custom follower AI ported him into the room even though the gate was blocking the entrance.

Which doesn’t make much narrative sense, granted. But I’m willing to handwave this and put “line of sight teleportation” into Lucien’s skill set, maybe as a hidden perk of his having trained at the Arcane University. ;D

Favorite Lucien lines

When practicing his Destruction spells:

“Ha! Ha ha! Burn! Burn! I am Lucien, god of fire, and I will – ooh, gosh, that’s rather hot isn’t it! Ah! Ahh! Ah! Water, water, quick!”

Observation when I’m wielding the Bow of Shadows while we’re going through Halldir’s Cairn, because Lucien is all about the scientific observations:

“Funny how they call it the Bow of Shadows, but when you’re invisible, you don’t have one. Seriously, the light just goes straight through.”

Next time

Elessir still needs to get the other two Bards College instruments, so I’m likely to do that even though I also just did that with Finds. I want those skill bumps!

This may also involve any side quests I happen to have in my travel route, we’ll see. And since Stony Creek Cave is within shouting distance of Mzulft, I may also run that at the same time.


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.