This is the third of three posts covering main action for the Project AHO mod, so I’ll be getting into major spoilers for that mod’s plotline.
There is also plot action in here for Legacy of the Dragonborn, specifically involving the quests Night At the Museum and It Belongs in a Museum.
Play by play
- Play date: 9/24/2023
- Session number in this run: 10
Finally got out of Bkhalzarf
- Picked up where I left off in the Dwemer ruin trying to figure out where the hell the magicka absorber was
- Finally had to rely on a tip in a Reddit post, and found the damn thing
- Got in, fixed the broken control cube that Yen-Ylu gave me, and got the directive to return to him
- Flailed around on the way out; got a bit more loot and killed a few more automatons
- Kept throwing the Stash Supplies spell just to keep my carry weight down
- Made it out, and reported back to Yen-Ylu
- He told me to go try to get back into Shanath’s good graces and see if I could find out what he was up to
Chess piece acquisition
- But before I did that, I went to get the rest of the chess pieces
- Popped into all the various houses looking for them, and at least didn’t have to actually steal them
- Got all the pieces filled in on the board and got the Strategist perk
Then back to plot
- Went back to Shanath’s house which had come unlocked
- Got in there, found him, and bullshat my way into his better graces, though I was severely tempted to just kill him then and there
- Was also tempted to warn him that the council had betrayed him, but decided against that on the grounds that fuck this guy, he gets what’s coming to him
- Shanath commanded me to meet him at Deep Folk Crossing and ran off, so I returned to Yen-Ylu
- Got the objective to get to Deep Folk Crossing and kill Shanath
- I did not have Deep Folk Crossing on my map yet, so had to fast travel to Hendraheim to plunk myself in range of the Reach; rode out from there
- Got a Blood Dragon on the way, and that let me unlock the one remaining unlocked Shout on my list
- Found an Altar to Magnus, but didn’t engage with it (really, kind of holding out for a shrine to Tall Papa)
- Went past Old Hroldan Inn, the unmarked camp with the bear and the two dead lovers, and Soljund’s Sinkhole
- Tried to avoid nearby Forsworn camps, and did a lot of improbable riding up and down mountain slopes, because Skyrim horses are like that
- Made it to Karthwasten and saw initial convo there, but did not intervene
- Passed the Shrine of Peryite but did not engage, really not feeling like worshipping Plague Daedra today, thank you
- Spotted Bthardamz but didn’t get close enough to it to mark it for the map; did improbable horse climbing around that, too
- Finally made it to Deep Folk Crossing without stumbling across any Forsworn, and Lydia and Snippy caught up; I put down the tent to camp
- Shanath found me, and GAME ON, time to die, you batshit enslaving motherfucker
- He wound up falling off the launch platform into the river, and I had to jump down after him to loot the body
- Also had to fast travel back to Deep Folk Crossing to get out of the water and back to Lyds and Snippy
- I think I had a museum visit back in here? Because I got the Crimson Tide sword from Auryen
- Returned to Sadrith Kegran to tell Yen-Ylu Shanath was dead
- Yen-Ylu then asked me to help him make some aetherium generators to inhibit further growth of Tel And, for which he needed me to go back into Bkhalzarf and get dwarven ingots and prowler cores
- I already had materials he needed after looting Bkhalzarf, so gave that stuff to him immediately
- He made two generators and asked me to place them, then I came back and he asked me to place three more
- Once that was done he announced it was time to launch the ship–which required me to go all the way back to Deep Folk Crossing, which he said he’d mark on my map, and he said he’d meet me there
- So went back to Deep Folk Crossing–and discovered I’d left my tent there, oops, so retrieved that
- Yen-Ylu showed up and tried to deliver a final line that I think was about how he decided that the right thing to do was just give me the ship
- But the mod interfered with that because it made a noise and threw up a “thank you for running our mod” dialogue box right in front of him, which kept me from fully hearing what he said or reading the subtitle for it
- Okay then! So finally done I guess? And I took control of the AHO and went in to explore it until I felt like I’d explored enough
- Boinged back to Solitude to hit the museum and drop stuff off
- At which point SURPRISE! MORE PLOT!
Ohnoez! The Museum is HAUNTED!
- Brother Ikard, a priest of Arkay, was at the gallery gate and tried to turn me away, saying the museum was closed
- Talked to him and he realized oh, I was the place’s benefactor
- He told me what was going on: the museum was currently haunted and he’d been engaged by Auryen to try to figure out what the hell to do about it
- Agreed to help him out and we went into the museum to investigate
- Found a letter in the library which clued us in that the ghost was possibly the ghost of the building’s original founder
- Ikard suggested we get some sleep in the staff barracks, but he woke me up a couple hours later to show me that the activity in the museum had increased
- The mannequins had come to life, and tables and bottles and chairs were stacked all over the place in unnerving ways
- Had to search some more and found a journal in the Gallery of Natural Science, which had flooded, and the animal displays in there had also come to life
- The wolves were hostile so I had to “kill” them, but the elk was not, so I left it alone
- The journal let us to the theory that maybe the founder was restless because he was feeling forgotten, so I searched the museum until I found a painting of him in the storeroom
- Put this up in the reception hall, and then Brother Ikard suggested we try to get some sleep in the staff barracks again
- Woke up a couple more hours later into OH SHIT HORRIFYING NIGHTMARE BLOOD AND FIRE YIKES
- Found another creepy encounter up on the second floor of the Hall of Heroes, heading towards the library, with the ghost of the founder’s wife
- Another journal materialized, which mentioned a commission for a sculpture of said wife
- Passed out and woke up on the first floor of the Hall of Heroes, with Brother Ikard leaning over me, and the museum still haunted but now at least not horror movie central
- He suggested I go out to search the cliffs where the founder had died, and gave me a ladder to use to do that
- Went out there and found a scrap of paper mentioning a contract for the statue, and the name of the artisan commissioned to do it
- (Had to do this twice though, because with both Lydia and Snippy following me, I had trouble moving through the area in question)
- Took this back to Ikard and he realized there was a person of that name living near Katla’s Farm
- Went down with Lyds and Snippy to try to find that person and see if they knew anything about the history of the contract
- Answer: yes! My contact was a descendant of that sculptor, and his family in fact still had the statue
- Paid him the remaining 4,000 septims owed on it, and he promptly promised to grab some help and move it up to the museum for me
- Got the objective to report back to the museum in a day
- While I was waiting for that, boinged to Meeko’s Shack to test whether I could still get Meeko to follow me even if I had Snippy
- Answer: again, yes! Snippy does not eat the game’s standard pet follower slot
- So I got Meeks back on follower duty at least until I could get a kid to adopt him
- Boinged briefly to Lakeview, thinking I’d try to build things there, but got the objective to return to the museum
- So I boinged back, and discovered that the statue of the wife was now on prominent display at the museum door and decorated with flowers around it, nice <3
- Brother Ikard told me the ghosts had settled down and were periodically happily wandering the halls and looking at the displays at night, and thus resolved the plot
- Went on in to do some inventory managing, find Auryen and tell him I had the Telvanni Hybrid Armor, and also tell him the ghost situation was resolved
- He told me he’d been taking shelter in the Blue Palace and thanked me for the work, and reimbursed me for the gold paid for the statue
Why yes, Auryen, making a new Guild sounds awesome
- Gave him the armor, which he accepted, and I took the time to hit some of his other dialogue options as well
- Found the one that triggered his proposal to start the Explorers Society, awesome 😀
- He suggested I be Guild Master and he’d be Chief Librarian
- He gave me info about the space he wanted to use to build a guild hall, and I went out to work on that, using materials I already had stashed for working on Lakeview
- Once it was built, found Auryen to update him and showed him the space, and he was very happy about that
Surprise visitor at the new guildhall–and surprise attack
- Auryen also had additional news: a contact of his had come in with a special staff that he wanted to turn over to the museum for safekeeping, and this contact wanted to meet me out on the guildhall patio
- Auryen asked me to go out and talk to him, and dropped a strong hint that I’d find this very interesting
- Found the Khajiit Rakis waiting there for me–with a frigging airship
- Talked to Rakis about the staff
- Unfortunately for Rakis, a frigging Thalmor showed up out of nowhere, attacked him, and killed him before my eyes before I could react
- The Thalmor asshole then tried to demand the staff from me, which was not happening
- Lydia, Meeko, and I took the bastard out
- Sad about poor Rakis, though 🙁
- Went to go find Auryen and see if there was any followup I needed to do about this, but he didn’t have any dialogue options for it, so i guess that was it?
- And apparently this now means I own the Dev Aveza, according to the LotD wiki
- So now I have two mobile player homes? LOL
- Saved in the gallery until next time
Finally getting the hell out of Bkhalzarf
As I wrote in my previous post, I was pretty frustrated with how maneuvering through Bkhalzarf took me way longer than I wanted, due to confusing quest markers and eight bajillion pressure plates all over the place. So when I started off this session, I did it by turning to the Internet to figure out how the hell to find the magicka absorber thing that I needed to repair the broken control cube.
I found the answer on this Reddit thread, hidden behind a spoiler tag in one of its comments. Thank you, Reddit user!
But even after I fixed the cube, I had to get out again. And there was some flailing involved with that, too. I stumbled across a few corners here and there I’d missed on the way in, and got more loot that way. I also wound up fighting a few more automatons, when Lydia or Snippy or I triggered the plates that released them.
And, I kept throwing the Stash Supplies spell just to fling loot back into my museum stash and keep my carry weight down. SWEAR TO TALOS, you guys, where has this spell been all my Skyrim-playing life? I love this spell. I love its mind, I love its shoes, I want to take it to dinner. <3
Once I returned to Yen-Ylu and gave him the cube, he asked me to go back to Shanath and see if I could find out what he was up to.
Here, I shall take a moment to wonder exactly why, if the town thought Shanath was that big of a threat that they asked me for help with him, they didn’t just straight up have me kill him.
Because unless he explicitly put up a magical ward on his front door, the only thing I see between me and brute-forcing my way into that house is that Skyrim doesn’t actually let you destroy a door with the Voice. Or even just an axe. You don’t want Shanath to launch the AHO and destroy the town as he does it? Fantastic. Let me break his door down and run him through. Problem solved.
Let me also raise these questions: why the hell did Yen-Ylu think sending me back to Shanath was actually going to be productive? And why in the world would Shanath tell me anything?
Me, comma, the person he’d bought as a slave, and who he chased out of his house in a fit of rage?
And for that matter, why the hell and every realm in Oblivion would I want to even pretend to help this asshole?
From what I see on the mod’s wiki, killing Shanath at this point in the proceedings might actually have been an option. But it didn’t seem clear to me at the time based on what dialogue options I got with him, once I got back into his house. (Which was not actually difficult; his front door was unlocked when I got there. Which… why? Did Shanath sneak out to harvest some ingredients somewhere and forget to lock the door again when he came back in? This would actually make sense, LOL, given that I did steal everything in his house and did not bring him any new ingredients.)
But before I went back to Shanath, I cleaned up the loose end of acquiring all those chess pieces for the board in the council hall.
Chess piece acquisition
When I started playing this mod, I didn’t know about the thing with the chessboard. But I found some of the pieces just by virtue of stealing everything in Shanath’s house, and I did legit wonder what the hell they were.
But there wasn’t any obvious clue about it, and I only found out that they were useful because I did in fact look at the wiki. This is probably an indicator of a) I’m not as observant a player as I could be, and b) I was also, as I wrote before, not terribly patient with the prospect of having to go over everything in the mod space with a fine-tooth comb. What I wanted was to find any immediately obvious way to get the fuck out.
So all in all, glad I actually bothered to look at the wiki.
At this point, I was now able to freely walk around the town, so had much less of a problem with the idea of being able to go wherever the hell I wanted. You could argue that it’s still pretty fucking odd to stroll into people’s actual homes and make off with their chess pieces, though. At least the mod had the courtesy to not mark them “Steal”.
I think it was the Andavel house where I walked in and found their n’wah there, a female Khajiit. She got up to follow me around. But she couldn’t talk, of course. I really wished I could have arranged to get her the fuck out of there. Or at least give her some coin or some food. Or a dagger for her to hide. Something.
The only other wrinkle here was that I had to break into Erver Milo’s house to get at his pieces, because he was never frigging there. So even after waiting a full game day by his door, I never saw his door unlock.
So I made Lydia and Snippy wait outside on the walkway, dropped into Sneak, and lockpicked my way in. I didn’t steal anything that was marked for stealing, but I thought about it! And only held off because that guy did teach me a useful spell, and seems to be the slightly less horrible of the two town consuls.
In short order, I got all the pieces filled in on the board, and unlocked the Strategist perk. I’ll forgive the mod a lot of its vexations if I actually do get to cast three atronachs at once–or even six, if I get the Twin Souls perk.
This will require testing. A squadron of storm atronachs is a very, very tempting proposition. We’ll see if I get to do that.
I say if because in sessions I’ve played already since writing this post, I have started trying to test this. I’ve had erratic results. I couldn’t seem to get it working at first, but then I did, so I dunno? We’ll see if it keeps working. More on this in coming posts.
I’ve also found another Reddit post where a player posted about the same problem, and someone else has a console workaround in the comments. So if I do start having problems, I have a possible workaround to test.
Then it was back to trying to push the plot along. And while I think it felt to Kendeshel like swallowing knives, she bullshat her way back into Shanath’s good graces.
I was extremely tempted to just kill him right then and there. I think I had an option to attack him? But Yen-Ylu seemed to explicitly want me to figure out his plans, so I went with the bullshit option instead.
I was also severely tempted to warn him that the council was turning against him, at least briefly. Because I had a huge measure of “fuck Marisa” going on. On the other hand, Shanath was the person who actually bought me, and he was an abusive son of a bitch. So “fuck Shanath” won out over “fuck Marisa”.
Shanath did a lot of insane babbling; his mental condition was clearly deteriorating. But he was coherent enough to command me to meet up with him at Deep Folk Crossing.
So I went back to Yen-Ylu to pass this info along, and Yen-Ylu was all “We have to kill him before he can summon the ship!”
And I repeat: so why didn’t you ask me to kill him in the first place?
I assume that this was because the mod creators wanted you to be able to go to Deep Folk Crossing and see the big nifty pad they added it for the AHO to land on. Which, okay, I can’t fault them for that. But it still makes the plot flow really clumsy. And the way the AHO itself works contributed to this; more on this below, in the part of this post where I talk about the AHO directly.
But anyway, once I got to Deep Folk Crossing, it was time to fight Shanath for reals. He sounded almost delighted when I turned against him, which was actually an interesting little bit of performance there, well done there, voice actor. And all in all it was pretty good fight. Shanath could cast Ebonyflesh and pretty decent Destruction spells, so it took me a bit to take him out!
Lydia of course also got in on the fight, and I think she actually may have gotten in the final blow. I am fine with that, just because I can totally see Lydia being extra special motivated to beat the shit out of the guy who enslaved her thane. This would be a point of honor for her.
Safe launching of the AHO
Once I returned to Sadrith Kegran to report back to Yen-Ylu, he asked me to help him make some aetherium generators to inhibit further growth of Tel And. There was a risk of it getting big enough to break through the cavern walls and ceiling, which would in turn expose their town to the view of the rest of Skyrim.
And this was another point at which I feel like the player really, really should have had an opportunity to push back.
“You say this like you think the rest of Skyrim discovering your hidden SLAVERYTOWN would be a bad thing. What, you think the Nords might be pissed off that you’re stealing Skyrim citizens and enslaving them? GOSH, WHYEVER WOULD THEY THINK THAT? But okay yes fine, I said I’d help you, so fine. I’ll help you.”
Because again, I was feeling super dodgy about the prospect of destroying the town and everyone in it–because that would explicitly also kill the slaves. And I did not want to do that, no matter how pissed off I was at everybody else there.
Plus, I guess I can throw in some genuine curiosity on Kendelshel’s part here to see the AHO in action. This woman is after all a relic hunter and a historian. Of course she wants to see a piece of ancient Dwemer technology functioning. There’s some goddamn science to be done here.
Yen-Ylu actually asked me to go back into Bkhalzarf and get materials for him to make the generators–about which I went fuck that noise. I feel like Kendeshel likewise went fuck that noise, after fighting her way through so many parts of that place. But fortunately for me and Yen-Ylu both, I’d actually already grabbed so much loot out of the place that I didn’t need to go back in. I’d nabbed a fuckton of Dwemer metal items and smelted them down into ingots. And I’d grabbed every Prowler core I saw, a couple of which weren’t even in Prowlers at the time. So I had four of those.
I was therefore able to give him the materials he wanted immediately, no return to Bkhalfzarf needed.
I wasn’t really a fan of his making me place the generators in waves, though. He had me do two of them and then three more. And at this late stage of the plot, that just felt unnecessarily complex. My dude, just make five of the damn things and give them to me when you’re done. This entire town is already using up the last few shreds of my patience, so I’m on a clock here, chop chop.
Also, I was really not a fan of Yen-Ylu then going “Okay now it’s time to launch the ship, so we need to go to Deep Folk Crossing! Let me mark it on your map! Meet me there!”
Yen-Ylu. Dude. I was literally just there. I killed Shanath there for you. I know where the place is, for fuck’s sake. See, here! Look at my map! Shanath marked it already!
And okay, yes, I get that this version of the plot explicitly asked for the player to place those generators so the town wouldn’t be destroyed once the AHO launched. So there was a bit of extra running around that had to happen. But still, making me boing twice to the exact same place felt really fucking clunky. At the very least, could Yen-Ylu have not asked me to meet him somewhere nearer than Deep Folk Crossing? How about Avanchnzel? Vary it up a bit, plot!
Once I returned to Deep Folk Crossing, Yen-Ylu showed up and delivered a final line about how he decided the right thing to do was to just give me the AHO. Or at least, so I’m assuming. Problem was, I actually didn’t catch all of his line. The mod made a big triumphant noise and threw up a “thank you for running our mod” dialogue box in front of him, which prevented me from hearing what he said or reading the subtitle.
Little cheesed about that, because if Yen-Ylu was going to be the only other person in this mod that had any remorse whatsoever about what the town had put me through, I wanted to actually be able to hear him say that. But oh well!
So that was the end of the main plot action for Project AHO. And I took control of the ship, and went in to explore it once Yen-Ylu went off to do whatever he intended to do with the rest of his life.
Some thoughts on the AHO itself
First and foremost, let’s talk about the name of this thing. The NPCs kept enunciating each individual letter, so they were calling it the A-H-O.
Me, I could not help but read it as a word and pronouncing it “ay-hoe”. Nor did it escape my notice, or my wife’s, that this also made it very close to “a-hole”. Given that Sadrith Kegran is filled with slavemongering assholes, that seems rather on brand.
Second up, at least during the actual main plot for this mod, I found the idea of how it was supposed to move extremely awkward. I was thinking at the time, wait, you can only get this thing to move by going somewhere and then summoning it to you? What’s the point of that?
This post is going up several days after I did this session, so I can say now that in later exploration of the AHO, I found a control panel inside it where I use the cube to tell it where it’s supposed to move to. Problem with this is, this control panel was not active during the plot action. So I can only assume that that control panel was specifically disabled until the player takes control of the AHO, because the plot was insisting that “OHNOEZ Shanath is going to summon the AHO and it’ll destroy Sadrith Kegran!”
And if the control panel had been there the whole time, that entire plot point would have been moot. Because if Shanath could just launch the damn thing from inside, he wouldn’t have had to run off to Deep Folk Crossing for the final confrontation I had with him at the launch pad. And, by extension, he’d have destroyed the town before the player and Yen-Ylu could do anything about it.
(Which swings back round to the question of “why doesn’t the player just outright kill him to begin with?”)
I also side-eye the notion that somehow neither Shanath nor Yen-Ylu had managed to access that control panel the whole time they’d been exploring the ship. Did neither of them ever hit the right button to turn the control panel on? The only way this makes any damn sense to me at all is that the control panel was hidden specifically until the AHO was successfully summoned. I had a repaired control cube inside it before that point, but maybe the cube had to be used successfully at least once to reactivate the control panel completely? Maybe that charged the cube up enough that the internal systems recognized it?
That does, in fairness, seem like the sort of finicky, fiddly security mechanism the Dwemer might have set up.
Still though, I’d have liked to be able to ask Yen-Ylu about this.
Me: “So wait. Shanath wants to summon the AHO from someplace else? He can’t just launch it from here?”
Yen-Ylu, dryly: “Well, he would actually have to come in here, and the AHO is already occupied. By us.”
Lydia: “And he’s not getting to you, my thane, without coming through me first.”
Dara suggested I even take advantage of how this playthrough does also include Legacy of the Dragonborn. And she’s right, because I can totally see Auryen going all alert-eyed and saying “I think I have a book about this”. Then he runs off to the library, with me in hot pursuit, and shows me a book that clues me in as to how to actually properly access the control panel. It could be a scholarly work, or even be some bullshit novel some writer wrote that managed to stumble across a few grains of truth in Dwemer lore. Either way, I could see Auryen getting super excited about a way to contribute to getting the AHO fully functional.
And this would absolutely be a topic Kendeshel would want to discuss with him. Because she sure as hell isn’t going to feel inclined to find Yen-Ylu and discuss it with him. And, well, she killed Shanath!
Now all that said, the AHO is pretty neat, I’ll give it that. And it has a few cool ideas in it:
- A machine that alters your appearance and gives you access to the character creation UI, which you can’t normally do in the game unless you go talk to the Face Sculptor in Riften
- A machine that makes bottles of juice out of various fruits and veggies I was carrying
- Portals that take you to various other rooms in the ship, similar to the one in Myrwatch
The appearance-altering machine seemed pretty cool, though what that said to me basically was “we want access to the character UI without having to throw money at the Face Sculptor”. So I’m kind of ambivalent about this. I’m not the sort of player who feels like I need to change my character’s appearance a lot; I’ve only done a serious overhaul on a character in a playthrough once, when I decided I didn’t like the original appearance I gave her. (I.e., Merawen.) So this functionality strikes me as a Nice to Have at best, but also honestly a little OP. I feel like changing your appearance should be difficult.
Now, you could argue that the player goes through a shitton of difficulty to acquire the AHO in this plot, and you wouldn’t be wrong. So again… I’m ambivalent.
I played with this thing a bit just to test it, and adjusted Kendeshel’s coloring a little but otherwise didn’t change her fundamental appearance. Since doing this specific session, I’ve also used it once more to give her a different hairstyle–because I’m running KS Hairdos in this playthrough and I’ve discovered that all the hairstyles in KS Hairdos turn your character bald if you put on a hat or a helmet. This is suboptimal. And there are in theory ways to fix this, but not ways I want to fuck around with in an active playthrough.
I also liked the idea of the juice-bottling machine, which seemed helpful since the resulting bottles had very beneficial effects. Where the machine was getting its bottles from? Who knows? Not me! I shall assume that it has some sort of bottle stock stashed away somewhere, and maybe there’s a chute Kendeshel can chuck used bottles down.
And, similar to the portal in Myrwatch, there are a number of portals that lead off to different rooms in the ship–the forge area, the alchemy area, etc. I couldn’t tell if the idea was that these portals were magical or mechanical or both. Maybe both, since we’re talking advanced Dwemer tech here, after all.
While I explored, I also finally found the Telvanni Hybrid Armor that I required to satisfy an artifact objective for the museum. I had mixed feelings about this, too. The armor does look cool. But I also knew from reading assorted Reddit threads and forum posts that the armor and matching boots can’t be tempered, unless you install an additional bugfix mod. So it’s not armor that’s going to be useful for very long, once I get up to higher levels and can wear dragonscale and such.
More to the point, I have a real hard time buying that Kendeshel would ever want to wear this armor at all, given her rejection of the offer to claim a place in Sadrith Kegran and in House Telvanni.
(Which, by the way, is certainly going to color her interactions with Neloth later on once I run Dragonborn with her, that’s for damn sure!)
I think the only reason she didn’t set that armor immediately on fire was because Auryen did ask her to get it for him, and he is her colleague and her friend. (The quest objective for this explicitly mentioned finding the armor on board the AHO, so I’m going to just ignore that part and assume Auryen didn’t already know the AHO existed. And that he just wanted Kendeshel to bring him Telvanni Hybrid Armor.) So I can see her very grumpily going through with taking the armor and matching boots back to the museum, and letting Auryen display it. Because Auryen did ask her to, and she respects him, and because she is a goddamned professional.
In this session, I left the AHO at Deep Folk Crossing. In my later testing, I moved it to Mzark and that’s probably where I’ll keep it. But I may later also take it to Solstheim since it can land at Nchardak. And that might be useful when i’m running Dragonborn? We’ll see.
Once I got done with exploring the thing, anyway, I finally boinged back to Solitude to return to the museum.
And surprise! Plot showed up!
Night At the Museum quest
After the huge frustrations of running Project AHO, this plot was a very welcome palette cleanser. I loved every minute of it.
It started off with lots of poltergeist-style activity all over the museum, including, notably, the armor mannequins coming to life and moving around. I loved that part in particular. Veteran Skyrim players know, and I myself have noted multiple times on this blog, that the armor mannequins in player houses are notorious for moving around due to how the game implemented them. I’ve been creeped out repeatedly by the ones in Severin Manor on Solstheim in particular, but in several other player houses as well!
So seeing that rolled into actual plot was hysterical. <3
I was slightly bemused about Brother Ikard suggesting we get naps in the staff barracks–but then I went duh, of course he doesn’t know about the Safehouse. It’s a safehouse. Auryen certainly can’t have made that common knowledge, since that would defeat its entire purpose. (And I’m still hoping to find out why that safehouse is there to begin with. Don’t disappoint me on this, Legacy!)
Little bemused as well that I was able to loot the wolves that came to life in the Gallery of Natural Science for their pelts once I “killed” them. Yet later, when I came back after this plot was done, the wolves were back in place and looked normal. I’d have thought that if I took the pelts off of them, there wouldn’t be anything left for the displays to rebuild themselves back to normal once the haunting was settled down? It would have been kind of cool to see some partially reconstructed wolves back in those spots, which would have left me to have to go “well fuck now I have to repair those displays”. But I guess the mod wanted to be kind and not make the player have to do that.
And far be it from me to bitch about free wolf pelts. 😀
Once I got the painting up and triggered the OH SHIT FIRE AND BLOOD NIGHTMARE YIKES part of the plot, this was the only part that felt a little off to me. While playing through it, I did love the experience. It was super intense and chilling, great horror imagery in general, and it was surreal to see versions of weapons and displays I didn’t even have up in the museum yet.
But on the other hand, that part of the haunting felt really over the top given what the ghosts were actually restless about. That scale of horror imagery seemed like it would more have been in line with something like Macnarian murdering his wife, and I legit wondered if that was what was actually going on. I could very easily have seen the wife’s ghost being severely pissed off by the painting of her husband going up, because that’s honoring her murderer, so of course she would be pissed off about that.
As it turned out, though, the actual problem was much less severe. And to be fair, Brother Ikard did have dialogue establishing the idea that spirits with unfinished business could lose their sense of proportion–which could result in them reacting far more violently than you might think, far more than whatever their unfinished business was might actually warrant. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable narrative choice, which is why I’m only calling this a thing that felt a little off to me. This is only me saying “I personally wouldn’t have written it this way”, rather than thinking this narrative choice is bad. Because it’s not.
And hey, I figure Kendeshel would respect that a priest of Arkay knows his business. Her business is bringing relics to the museum. His business is the rites and rituals of death, and if anybody (who isn’t a necromancer) is going to know about the behaviors of pissed off ghosts, it’s a priest of Arkay!
So we discovered a scrap of contract out on the nearby cliffs, and that let me down to the descendant of the original sculptor who’d taken the commission. Who, conveniently, still had the sculpture since his great-great-grandfather didn’t want to get rid of a thing that had already been at least partially paid for. Since I had enough money on me to cover the rest of the contract cost, I immediately forked that over. And he agreed to get some men together and bring the statue up to the museum ASAP.
Haunting problem solved! And I think the ghosts not actually vanishing, but happily wandering around the museum at night and looking at the displays, was a nice touch.
I also really appreciated that Auryen reimbursed me for the 4,000 gold the next time I saw him. The man’s a class act. <3
All in all, fun little plot!
Starting the Explorers Society
Speaking of Auryen, I also took the time to give him the Telvanni Hybrid Armor. My headcanon here is that he probably also had some probing questions about whether I was okay with this item being in the museum, given that I had acquired it only because I’d been thrown into slavery, and all. I shall assume that Kendeshel assured him firmly that it was okay. And if she needed to, she’d make a replica of it and then thoroughly smash the replica for therapy purposes. 😉
(This does, in fact, seem like an excellent way for Kendeshel to practice using Unrelenting Force. But in a safe room in the museum. LOLOLOL.)
Since I was talking to him anyway, I also explored what other dialogue options Auryen had available. And I found the one that let him give me the pitch to start the Explorers Society! He enthused at me about wanting to expand the museum space to allow for the building of a guildhall, and that he’d been working with the Blue Palace to secure permission for alterations to the city wall to allow for this.
Between that and Auryen also telling me he’d taken shelter in the Blue Palace during the haunting, this made it clear that the guy very, very clearly has pull with Elisif’s court. Given that he’s got to be throwing around enormous piles of money in Skyrim, and given that the player also sees commentary between Elisif and her thanes about how Solitude’s coffers need maintaining, it seems absolutely reasonable to me that Auryen’s support would be vital for Elisif to keep.
I took Auryen up on his offer, and proceeded to build the guildhall. I had enough stashed materials for it, and didn’t even have to take advantage of how Auryen had arranged for the Solitude sawmill to sell me logs at a discount. (Though I am noting that for later, as I proceed with building out Lakeview and Windstad and Heljarchen Hall!) What I did have to do, though, was boing to Lakeview briefly so I could make nails, iron fittings, and hinges out of my stash of iron ingots, and get quarried stone and clay out of the deposits there.
But soon enough, I had a full guildhall built!
It Belongs in a Museum quest
But I wasn’t done with plot showing up. Because as soon as I showed Auryen what I’d built, he gave me additional news. A contact of his had shown up with a special staff he wanted to turn over to the museum for safekeeping, and Auryen asked me to go outside and talk to him.
This contact turned out to be the Khajiit Rakis, who had the Staff of Indarys. He also had an airship.
Since I’ve played Moonpath to Elsweyr, I was able to tell immediately that this was a very similar kind of airship. So Legacy’s clearly hooking into the fanon of what Moonpath established.
As I wrote during playing Moonpath, I have a few logistical issues with introducing airships into gameplay in Skyrim. Mostly because I have a real, real hard time buying that the Empire wouldn’t leap all over that shit, or the Stormcloaks for that matter. Air superiority is a thing, and surely General Tullius or Ulfric Stormcloak would realize the tactical value of having airships at their disposal.
I should also think that the sight of an airship landing in Solitude would make the population in general go HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THAT THING HOW DOES IT WORK AND CAN WE HAVE ONE. Because if you have airships, suddenly that solves a bunch of problems with getting trade supplies from point A to point B. You have to worry a lot less about the bandits that have set up at the only major road that leads south of your city if you can just fly over them. At least until the bandits also get airships and become air pirates. 😀
On the other hand, there are blockers to airships achieving general use.
They’re supposedly telepathically piloted, and again as I noted before, this seems flimsy to me. But if you accept that as a concept, that strongly suggests an airship pilot has to be rigorously trained to maintain enough discipline to keep the thing in the air and on course. And even if Tullius took one look at the Dev Aveza and went “I NEED TO HAVE THIS”, that doesn’t mean he’s actually got personnel who can fly it.
Unless, of course, he recruits the Dragonborn into the Imperial forces. Which I could see, actually, LOL. He shows up at the museum, finds the Dragonborn, and says, “Citizen, I will give you a commission as an officer in the Legion right now if you allow the Empire to requisition your conveyance. Because if I can fill that thing up with battlemages, I can take Windhelm in three hours.”
Me: “Counteroffer. You give me a commission anyway, I go kill Ulfric Stormcloak for you, and the airship stays mine. I literally just got it last night, and you can’t spare the time for me or anyone else to learn to fly it properly. It’ll be faster if you just send me in overland.”
Tullius: “If we go overland, we still have to take out Stormcloak forces. The Empire will have to commandeer several forts to claim the territory.”
Me: “I’ll have it done in a week. Trust me when I tell you, General, that I have particularly strong interest in reestablishing the safety of citizens in Eastmarch.”
Tullius, dubiously: “You seem awfully confident of that, citizen.”
Me: “Does the word Dragonborn mean anything to you?”
Tullius: 🤨 “No. Should it?”
Legate Rikke: 😮 🤩 “Sir, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you take her up on this offer.”
(I may in fact do some version of this, just because having just run Project AHO, I feel like that’s strong motivation for Kendeshel to get the Empire on her side, just so she does in fact have access to resources to come in and take over Sadrith Kegran if she catches them taking any more slaves. And if she helps the Empire put an end to the civil war, I figure that’ll make Imperial forces way more amenable to wiping out a nest of slavery even if politically speaking, they have to let Morrowind extradite them all.
Not that I can actually do any of that, of course; that would require much more massive changes to the game than what Project AHO implemented. I’m just coming at this for purposes of story and how running that mod impacts my choices for this playthrough, moving forward.)
Also, taking airships into the sky is not without its own peril. Because you know what else is in the skies of Skyrim? DRAGONS. And I’d three thousand percent expect that dragons wouldn’t hesitate to rip the hell out of any airships that crossed their aerial paths.
But I digress!
When I talked to Rakis, he told me about the staff and stressed very heavily that it needed to stay out of the hands of the Thalmor. And he was right to be worried.
Because a frigging Thalmor showed up out of nowhere and attacked him, and killed him before I could get over being surprised.
And, being a frigging Thalmor, he of course demanded I turn the Staff of Indarys over to him.
Which was very, very much not happening. Kendeshel’s patience was especially thin and her aggression especially high, after Sadrith Kegran. So Lydia, Meeko, and I took the bastard out.
So now I own the Dev Aveza, from what I saw on the LotD wiki. Which means I now have two mobile player homes. And I’ll handwave the question about how fast in fact I could learn to fly it. Because see previous commentary re: the will of the Dragonborn. ;D I expect that later on down the line I will also have to do some handwaving for the end of the main Skyrim quest, too–because if I’ve got an airship, why the hell do I need Odahviing to fly me to Skuldafn?
(Immediate answer that presents itself here being, the dragons at Skuldafn would fly at me en masse and flame me the fuck out of the sky the instant they saw me coming. So I’d actually have a better shot of getting there on Odahviing’s back!)
But I’ll see what happens at that point when I get there in this playthrough.
One more question to think about here is, of course, what Kendeshel did with the body of the Thalmor agent! Solitude does have Thalmor headquarters at Castle Dour, and the Thalmor Embassy nearby just outside the city. Surely somebody there is going to be wondering where this guy is. I could totally see him having been staking out the museum, while invisible, on intelligence that Rakis might show up there.
Hell, the Thalmor may have been staking out the museum anyway. They do have a presence in Solitude, with their headquarters at Castle Dour, even though their official headquarters is the nearby embassy. But again, because Auryen has power and clout in Solitude, and also because he’s an Altmer, I could see Ambassador Elenwen being reluctant to openly move against him. Just because going after one of their own people openly might be very problematic in Skyrim. It could gain them sympathy for being impartial if they were shown to be willing to go after even one of their own people. But it could also be taken as a sign of weakness, that the Altmer in Skyrim are squabbling amongst themselves.
I could see Elenwen being wary of the Thalmor showing weakness, and also of the power Auryen holds in Solitude. Going after Auryen publicly would risk them pissing off Elisif, if they know the Blue Palace is allied with this guy.
She would spy on him, though. Because a wealthy Altmer who’s not advancing the cause of the Aldmeri Dominion? The Thalmor would totally be watching him.
Of course, the game’s cleanup scripts later got rid of the bodies anyway. But plot-wise, I can see Auryen having both of the bodies moved down to the Hall of the Dead as he reports the incident to the city guards. Because he is a Responsible Citizen! And he would be one hundred percent truthful to testify that he didn’t witness whatever unfortunate confrontation occurred. What a damn shame! They must have had quite the falling out before anybody discovered them!
Kendeshel would have no scruples whatsoever about lying about whether she witnessed anything. And she’s smart enough to not publicly admit to killing a Thalmor agent right in Solitude.
About which of course the Thalmor would be extremely suspicious. But going after Kendeshel could even be problematic for them, if they’re wary of moving against Auryen!
On the other hand, I could also totally see her being willing to chuck the Thalmor’s body into the Sea of Ghosts as soon as she figured out how to get the Dev Aveza in the air. ;D What the Thalmor want to know about where their agent went? Not her problem.
In Kendeshel’s next post, I’ll have the first of a few visits back to Sadrith Kegran just to tie up some loose ends; finally joining the Bards College; fighting a dragon right inside Solitude; running the quest to get the Wabbajack; and doing more displays in the museum!
Content warning: several of the screenshots in this set are from the Night At the Museum plot in Legacy of the Dragonborn. That plot involves some intense horror imagery, as I described above in the post. If that’s likely to bother you, skip looking at these screenshots.
If you’re good with this warning, use the password “haunting” to look at the gallery. You might need to scroll back down to the bottom of the page once the gallery is unlocked.
Editing to add
- 11/25/2023: Restored missing gallery.