Kendeshel Playthrough,  Skyrim

In Which Kendeshel Battles a Dragon on Wyrmstooth

And now, the very last playthrough post I need to do before my queue is entirely clear and I resume my playthrough activity! This one’s Kendeshel, and this features her finishing off the main plot of the Wyrmstooth mod. So by definition, this post contains major spoilers for that mod’s plot. Read with caution if you’re not already familiar with it!

Play by play

  • Play date: 11/19/2023
  • Session number in this run: 30
  • Picked up again in Wyrmstooth after finding the Goreduster sword
  • Returned to Wyrmstooth Barrow, along with the mercenary team
  • Put the sword into the slot it wanted
  • Got a little ways in and ran into a mage, Alberthor, who asked us what we were all doing there
  • Alberthor got more friendly when he realized we weren’t marauders
  • Discovered he also was using magic to mind control a draugr
  • And that draugr had apparently triggered a switch further in that had closed a gate and blocked us from getting any further into the dungeon, so he wanted to try his spell on me, so that I could take over driving the draugr
  • Finally got the draugr to the switch and flipped it, then zapped back to the room with Alberthor and we were able to proceed
  • The draugr hive part of this entire adventure was very large and involved a lot of puzzles to be solved, some of which were easy enough and some of which were annoying
  • Case in point for “annoying”: the room where I had to drag a draugr onto a pressure plate, more on this below
  • But got through that gate finally, went further in, and found more marauders
  • Also dead Thalmor, and a Rusted Dragon Claw I had to use to get through the inevitable puzzle door
  • (Except that there were multiple puzzle doors, one that looked like the Bloodskal Barrow one and another that was the standard three-dial puzzle door the main game uses)
  • Partway in found a second batch of non-hostile adventurers and talked to them
  • Eventually Elmera, the Altmer mage we’d left back at Stonehollow, caught up with us and joined us as we went further in
  • None of the fights through most of this dungeon were particularly challenging, because not only did I have Rulnik and Gogh, I also had the mercenary team and the ability to call the Dremora squad–so we quickly plowed through any opposition
  • Mostly spent my time looting chests and urns to look for anything useful
  • Amused by the “Draugr Kitchen Overlord”, okay that was funny 😀
  • He had a fork and a knife called “Eyegouger” and “Dragonslayer”
  • Eventually found a named draugr/dragon priest, Suleyk, but my team was big enough that I don’t think I ever actually directly engaged him
  • But my team was big enough that i don’t think I ever actually directly engaged him?
  • Got a dragon mask off of him
  • There was a Word Wall partway through for a Mirror Form Shout–which seems useful, it apparently lets you generate a decoy image of yourself?
  • Found three different unusual spellbooks: Ice Volley, Conjure Draugr Scourge, and Conjure Draugr Deathlord
  • Made it to the part where we had to jump down through a chute
  • Did Become Ethereal to do that because did not trust getting down there without killing myself
  • Landed at the bottom and everybody else came down with me, landing in deep water, and we swam back up to the surface of that
  • Which brought us to the beginning of a Dwemer ruin, and Alberthor took over a dead Falmer to communicate with us
  • This part started reminding me of Mzark just because of the layout of the first room—again, a bit too much reminding me of familiar territory
  • Searched the room though and picked up a few useful items
  • Got past that point and out into an area that the mod called Dimfrost but which was basically rebranded Blackreach
  • And of course there were bucketloads of Falmer and chaurus to have to fight through here, too
  • There was also crimson nirnroot, so I started gathering that
  • Finally reached the part where we had to get into the dragon’s lair
  • Pulled a lever that I thought was going to be a lift, but it wasn’t, it started filling the chamber with water; this was a nice OH SHIT WTF moment
  • The water rose to a point where we were able to get out and proceed, until we finally found the cavern with Vulthurkrah in it
  • There were a lot of dead adventurers in there and I pre-looted a bunch of them
  • This turned out to be a good idea, because once the dragon spotted us he spouted off about his diabolical plan
  • Team Dragonborn + mercenaries then had to fight every dead adventurer in the cavern as the dragon of course resurrected all of them before buggering off himself
  • We killed all the dead adventurers, and I had to figure out one more puzzle to get access to the lift that could return us to the surface
  • At which point we were finally reunited with Lurius, who reported that the Empire had sent over a legion of soldiers to help secure the island–which would have been a good thing, except for the dragon meaning to implement his plan of resurrecting a fuckton of the dead
  • So we all went OH SHIT and hurried back to Stonehollow
  • At which point I had to finally fight Vulthurkrah–which was anticlimactic, because allI I had to do was summon three storm atronachs and take potshots at him until he landed
  • Then I whipped out Dragonbane and wailed on him until I killed him, before anybody else even showed up
  • Was ahead of Rulnik and Gogh at this point, not sure if they got stuck down in the cavern or what
  • Had final scene with Lurius and he gave me the ten thousand gold bounty
  • He also said that they now had to spend some time rebuilding the town, and asked me to come visit some more
  • Explored the town a bit and found some Khajiit nearby, and sold a bunch of stuff to their leader, Ja’Shavi-Dar
  • Then hoofed it back to the docks to take the ship back to Skyrim
  • On the way, harvested some Elf Cup mushrooms for alchemy purposes
  • Then had a random encounter with like half a dozen draugr, WTF?
  • Since I was alone at this point i summoned all three dremora and went to town on them
  • Finally reached Fort Moonwatch and the docks just past that
  • Took the ship back to Solitude, at which point Rulnik and Gogh did catch up, as did Heimdall the horse who magically showed up on the deck of the ship
  • So got on Heimdall and rode him over to Katla’s Farm
  • Then hoofed it into Solitude and went straight to the museum
  • Passed Jawanan on the way and was very surprised by that, because I thought he was dead? But oh whoops no that’s in Finds-The-Way’s playthrough
  • Did the usual post-quest inventory managing, displaying items, crafting, and chucking things in the sell chest
  • Leveled up to 54 while doing all of this; took Health bump and Matching Set perk in Light Armor
  • Saved there until next time


This session was basically all about the main plot of Wyrmstooth. And I have a lot of thoughts about this, so this is a long one. It will not serve as my full review post for Wyrmstooth, just because there is a lot of other content for that mod that I haven’t hit yet, and I want to check more of it out before I do a full review post.

So here, in particular, I’ll just focus on the main plot and the hard push to find and confront the dragon Vulthurkrah. I’ll hit reactions to specific plot points first, then overall reactions at the end.

Alberthor is way too interested in remote controlled draugr and Falmer

Let’s start with Alberthor’s spell for mind-controlling draugr. I was very ambivalent about this, for two reasons:

  1. It seems really morally dodgy, particularly given that Alberthor enthused about using it on people, and eew what the hell is wrong with you, dude? And,
  2. Having to move that draugr around in enforced third person view was very distracting, and made me a little motion sick.

That said: Skyrim does have a long tradition of mages doing morally questionable experiments, and this certainly isn’t anything weirder than oh, say, inventing mind-control spiders! Alberthor at least seemed like a harmless crackpot type of mage, as opposed to actively hostile and trying to take over everything with his army of draugr slaves. He didn’t seem interested in trying his experiment on living beings, just dead ones.

(For now, anyway. The Dragonborn will be keeping an eye on you, old man. You show any sign of getting to be more of a problem, we’re going to have some words.)

And I’ll give the mod this: piloting a draugr’s body around was a very unique way to have to solve a puzzle!

Not a hundred percent on board with some of these puzzles

Speaking of puzzles, the “draugr hive” part of this entire run had a lot of puzzles to solve, as I noted above in the play by play. Some of these puzzles were easy. Some, not so much.

In one room, in theory I had to drag a draugr’s body on top of a pressure plate to open a gate. I say “in theory”, because this isn’t what actually happened.

There were a couple of NPC adventurers in this room, and one of them actually outright suggested I try dragging a draugr onto the plate. But then these NPCs started throwing random lines at me like “Why are you doing that?” And “Be careful with that!”

Which got old real fast. If an NPC tells me to do a thing, that NPC should not then start giving me the third degree about why I’m doing the thing.

Also, actually dragging a draugr body into plate was really fucking difficult, because:

  1. Half a dozen NPCs in the room (both the mercenaries with me and the extra unnamed Adventurers) kept getting in my way and blocked my path for dragging, and
  2. I couldn’t figure out how to get the body onto the pressure plate, because there was a lip around it that seemed to block easy sliding of a draugr body onto it.

I finally decided to drop one of the heavier weapons I had onto the plate. But realized as soon as I did this that the damn gate was already open.

All the NPCs had kept walking over the pressure plate during my efforts to trigger it–so I suspect one of them actually triggered the gate. Which meant I wound up doing a lot of frustrating work for nothing.

Wyrmstooth Barrow: Greatest Hits of Skyrim?

Partway in, I eventually started having a significant side issue with this dungeon. Namely, that it was trying to shove way too many noticeable things from the main game into one big dungeon. Sort of a “Let’s make this dungeon be all the Greatest Hits of Skyrim” deal.

  • A draugr hive! With a layout that reminded me strongly of Ustengrav in particular
  • Lots of puzzles just like the ones in the main game! Want some spinny pillars? I gotcher spinny pillars right here
  • Did you like getting Red Eagle’s Bane and sticking a sword into a slot to access the inner part of that dungeon? Guess what, you need to stick a sword into a slot here too!
  • If you’re a Tolfdir fan and liked him shooing you off in Saarthal and then catching up with you later, here’s a mage who’ll do the same thing
  • And a mage who also, I might add, is running Dubious Experiments in Conjuration because of course Skyrim mages gotta Skyrim mage, amirite?
  • And hey, if you liked that puzzle door in Bloodskal Barrow, we got one of those too
  • And, “here’s a place where you have to jump down a huge chute to get to where you need to go”, reminding me of Dead Men’s Respite and Halldir’s Cairn and Geirmund’s Hall
  • And there’s a dragon claw to open a puzzle door
  • And there’s a dragon priest with a mask
  • And there was a Word Wall to learn a new Shout

Now let me emphasize: this wasn’t actually keeping me from having fun. But it sure did get noticeable, particularly once I made it to the “Dwemer ruin” part of the dungeon. And the part that was basically rebranded Blackreach. More on that below.

On the other hand, extra NPCs were pretty neat

By contrast, I do want to note that I actively liked that there were non-hostile adventurers going through the place at the same time my team was. The player learns pretty quickly in this plot that most people coming to Wyrmstooth are explicitly there to try their mettle as adventurers. So it was cool to see other NPCs actually doing that.

Likewise, I kept finding dead adventurers as well, evidence that not every bunch of adventurers who’d come in there were successful in their efforts.

There were even a few dead Thalmor and hints that they’d come into the place up to something, but I got no indications of what. Totally looted their stuff though.

Speaking of rebranded Blackreach

Continuing the Greatest Hits of Skyrim theme, my group eventually reached a Dwemer ruin area. And that, in turn, opened out to a place called Dimfrost. But which basically looked exactly like Blackreach.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Blackreach. But I feel like having a rebranded Blackreach not on mainland Skyrim was a little much.

I would have liked it more if it had had more unique flora or fauna. If this is a cavern system on an island, I’d expect it to have much more of a unique ecosystem. But at least there were Deep Moths that looked like purple versions of Luna Moths. I caught several of those, to see if their wings did anything interesting in alchemy.

And of course there were also Falmer and chaurus here, who are the primary enemies to fight in Blackreach. Which is another thing. Because if the Dwemer made it over to this island and built themselves some cavern headquarters, okay yes fine, they probably also brought their Falmer slaves with them. And okay yes fine, the Falmer probably took it over when the Dwemer disappeared.

But my point stands: still a bit too much use of familiar look-and-feel, as well as familiar opponents, from the main game. Particularly ones that didn’t seem to provide any useful advancement of the plot I was there for to begin with.

Not-Blackreach even had crimson nirnroot. Since Kendeshel hasn’t run actual Blackreach yet, I went ahead and started gathering whatever samples I could find, which kicked off the Return To Your Roots quest. I wound up with six samples, so at least I have a bit of a head start on gathering the 30 I’ll need for later.

One thing I’ll grant Dimfrost though: it also had some lava pools here and there. And I have not ever seen lava in Blackreach, so that’s a difference worth noting. Though it raises questions about whether Wyrmstooth is volcanically active

Getting into the dragon’s lair

Once we finally reached the bit where we were supposed to get into the dragon’s actual lair, there was even a little “reminds me of X in the main game” moment there. Because flipping a lever in this part triggered making the chamber we were all in start flooding with water.

Which of course immediately reminded me of Irkngthand.

But in fairness, it wasn’t an area that looked like Irkngthand directly, so that was good. And I did like the OH SHIT WTF part of flipping a lever that I thought was going to activate a lift, only to have water start flooding the place instead.

The reminder of Irkngthand though was helpful in a way, because I used the same strategy here that I do every time I run Irkngthand: wait for the water to get high enough to get me to an access point where I can continue.

And at least this time, I didn’t have to wait for the ceiling to collapse! The access point was very clear and obvious! So that was good too.

One note to make here for benefit of Future Me (because so far I feel like chances are pretty good I may want to run Wyrmstooth again): come to this island with some means of waterbreathing. Kendeshel does have the spell for that, and I should have thought to cast it. I think she’s even got a ring with the proper enchantment (I should doublecheck!). Had I been thinking more quickly, I could have invoked either of these for a bit of leeway to better scope out the situation, once the flood started. I’ll need to keep this in mind next time I try to run this mod.

And finally, Vulthurkrah’s lair itself

Once we finally got into the cavern that contained the actual dragon, things got more interesting.

There were a lot of dead adventurers all over this cavern. I pre-looted a lot of them, with a bunch of casting of Stash Supplies to chuck their inventories into my stash back at the museum. This got me a lot of loot, and expensive stuff, too! I got something on the order of eight dragonhide robes, for example. And many more unusual pieces of gear along with those.

Epilogue: draugr just wandering around outside?

On the way from Stonehollow back to the docks, I had a random encounter on the road with some draugr. One at first, but as the fight proceeded I think like half a dozen total showed up. Which baffled the hell out of me, because there was no obvious reason for them to be there. No ruin they might have come out of, nobody nearby trying to conjure them up, nothing.

I’m informed on Discord that this is apparently a known random Wyrmstooth encounter. And apparently, you can also turn this off in the mod’s MCM. I think I will actually turn that off, because random draugr packs outside make no lore sense to me.

Overall thoughts

I may have come into Wyrmstooth over-leveled. Because by and large, I did not find the main plot terribly challenging. And it didn’t help that I had four mercenaries and Rulnik and Gogh and three summonable atronachs and/or Dremora Lords or whatever else I wanted to summon, on demand. This augmented Team Dragonborn pretty much blew through this entire dungeon.

And I spent way more time just looting chests and urns, and solving puzzles, than I did actually fighting anything. Given the size of the overall dungeon, the draugr part + the Dwemer part + the not-Blackreach part + the dragon lair, the overall balance of action seemed off. I think maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been able to actively fight more things.

If I try to run this mod again, I should maybe come in at a lower level and see if that makes things a bit more exciting.

I liked Vulthurkrah’s diabolical plan, which was: resurrect a bunch of fallen dead in order to fight off the scourge of humanity, and restore the age of the dragons. As evil plans go this is actually pretty good.

But I feel like the plot didn’t really take proper advantage of it. Once we got out of the dungeon and were reunited with Lurius, he freaked out a bit about an incoming Imperial legion walking right into the dragon’s trap.

Which seemed like a cool idea, and I really wish I could have seen that happening on camera. But no. As it happened, my final fight with Vulthurkrah wasn’t any different from any other dragon fight I’ve done in the main game.

And if there was any kind of a tie to Vulthurkrah’s plan to explain why draugr were wandering around the island, it would have been nice to actually get a mention of that somehow. Though I will hold full judgment on this until I run side quest stuff on the island; there may be more here I don’t know yet.

The final fight with Vulthurkrah was anticlimactic, though. He had a lot of buildup as this unusually clever dragon, but my killing him no differently than any other dragon in the game meant he really didn’t stick the landing.

Plus, I have questions. Like:

  1. Is there a reason Vulthurkrah was enacting his plan on this island in particular, versus on the mainland? Was he trying to start small and then try to take over Tamriel?
  2. Was he resurrected by Alduin? Or, has he been hiding out on Wyrmstooth all this time, out of the reach of the Blades? And only just now emerging as he sees signs of the return of other dragons in the world?
  3. Was he carrying out this plan for Alduin? Or was he acting on his own initative? Was he trying to make a power play here that would not only bring back the power of the dragons, but maybe also let him challenge Alduin as well?

Now all that aside, let me close out with some positive thoughts.

First up, I really like all the NPCs, at least the main ones, Lurius and the various mercenaries. They’re well-performed, they all had entertaining dialogue, and I got a good feel for them as characters.

I like that even though I’ve finished what turned out to be a fairly short main adventure, this does not mean I’m done with the mod. There does indeed seem to be a lot more to do on this island, and I want to give it all a good try at running it.

The overall island does look really cool. And I like that it seems to be comparable in size to Solstheim, maybe a little smaller, with a bunch of locations I’m given to understand will give me their own quests.

And I like that there are unique spells and a unique Shout. I’ve only got the one word of Mirror Form, so far; I’ll be interested to see where the other two words of it will be! And from what I saw peeking in the PDF that is this mod’s official guide, there are other unique spells I still haven’t found yet, either.

One last thing: I do also like that the mod makes use of the Red Wave, an existing ship, to move you back and forth between Solitude and Wyrmstooth. In this particular case, I didn’t mind the ship being a familiar one. Just because, as I understand it, the Red Wave is around in the game mostly for Dark Brotherhood stuff–and I have yet to fully run the Dark Brotherhood. So this ship and its crew are still pretty new to me. And it was cool to see them put to another purpose here.

So overall, even though I’ve nitpicked a lot of this pretty hard, my experience was positive. I did have fun doing this, and I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of the island!

Next time

I’m going to swing back to Wyrmstooth and follow up on more of its side adventures.


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.