Time to check back in with my Elessir playthrough in Skyrim! With this post and its two sessions, I’m finally kicking off Dawnguard with this alt. Read on for the details!
Play by play
- Play dates: 12/3, 12/10/2023
- Session numbers in this run: 37-38
Sunday the 3rd
- Picked up at Windstad
- Boinged to College of Winterhold, and got dragon immediately upon arrival
- Killed it finally when it landed on top of the Hall of Countenance
- Went in for a sleep in the Arch-Mage’s quarters
- Got up and ran training in the Hall of the Elements
- Tried to talk to Urag about the Elder Scroll but couldn’t fucking find him
- So went outside after that, and got another dragon, so had to fight that one :O
- It wound up crashing just outside the college, but down the hillside, since there was still a skeleton on top of the Hall of Countenance
- I ran out and took potshots at it from up on the bridge, throwing lighting bolts
- It kept trying to spit frost but couldn’t reach me, I had cover from the bridge
- Sold a few things in Birna’s store in Winterhold after that
- Boinged briefly back to Lakeview for supplies check
- Heh, got a brief moment of snow at Lakeview, I think the weather lagged a bit catching up to my change in location!
- From there, felt like hoofing it for a while (just to be nicer to Lucien)
- Made it past Loreius Farm and eventually went off road to cut cross country
- Stopped at Heljarchen and dropped off some stuff because now that Dawnguard was active, didn’t want to risk stopping in towns
- Hoofed it from there towards Dimhollow Crypt
- Stopped at the Hall of the Vigilant since I found it on the way
- Noticed a “Vault of the Vigilants” lying on its side inside the wreck of the place, and there was a key to that vault nearby as well; nothing in it though
- Made it to Dimhollow Crypt and headed in with Lucien
- Got overloaded pretty quickly, but offset the problem with Orcish Boots of the Ox, and the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal
- Took out all the vampires
- Had a bit of a weird fight with Lokil’s crew as one of his followers fell down onto the surrounding rocks, and I had to throw Magelight down on her to see where she was
- Finally took her out with combo of lucien and storm atronach, then freed Serana
- Boinged back to Heljarchen briefly to drop off more stuff
- Mounted up on Rigmor—and that triggered Serana summoning her Arvak-like horse that’s an addition of the Serana mod I’ve got
- Boinged to Lost Echo Cave to get within range of Castle Volkihar, and hoofed it from there
- Threw Clairvoyance just to identify the right path since we got there in darkness
- Passed some Stormcloaks fighting an ice wraith; one of them hit me up to send “true sons and daughters of Skyrim” to Windhelm
- My dude, I’ll tell you what I told the last Stormcloak who asked me that: I am a Dunmer. Do I look like your recruitment division?
- Finally made it to Icewater Jetty and took the boat over to the castle
- Brought Serana in, and noted that Lucien did not follow me into the castle with her
- Turned down Harkon’s gift and got thrown back out to the beach
- Found Lucien and Rigmor both waiting for me? Did Rigmor swim over? LOL
- Took the boat back to the other shore, and since we were nearby also hit the Thalmor camp to finish up the Brothers in Irons quest
- Took out all the Thalmor and took their gear, and also the Iron Plate armor and all the clam meat
- Boinged back to Windstad for supplies check
- Saved there until next time
Sunday the 10th
- Finally able to play Elessir again after FISSES was unofficially patched!
- Picked up again at Windstad, and boinged off to Lakeview to drop off some stuff
- Then boinged to Fort Dawnguard to report in to Isran about Serana
- Helped fight off the initial vampire attack as per usual
- Then talked to Isran after, and got directive to go find Sorine and Gunmar
- Took some training from him in Heavy Armor
- Also realized one of the vamps had infected me when I got warned about feeling weaker when the sun rose, oops, so quaffed a cure disease potion to attend to that
- Doublechecked quests to see what else I could knock down in the Reach on the way to Sorine
- Getting Red Eagle’s sword
- Getting the mace out of Bruca’s Leap Redoubt
- So boinged to Hendraheim to get within easy range of hitting those
- Got a dragon (Elder Dragon, I think?) as soon as I showed up at the house, so had to fight that
- Smelted some stuff down into ingots and dropped off things in the chest by the forge, then set out again
- Reached and ran Red Eagle Redoubt, and threw the dremora at the Forsworn a lot
- Took out the Briarheart to get the sword, and also got boss chest loot
- Hoofed it from there around to Rebel’s Cairn to finish off the plot, and ran that with no problems
- Had to find a way down to get to Bruca’s Leap Redoubt, which involved a bunch of improbable climbing up and down mountainsides, as you do 😉
- Rode like hell past Broken Tower Redoubt (lot of redoubts in the Reach, wot)
- Did this a couple of times as I was trying to work out the proper way to get to Bruca’s Leap Redoubt
- Passed the Reach Stormcloak camp
- Heard somebody yelling “somebody do something”, but didn’t know what he was on about
- Then got a Blood Dragon shortly thereafter, so had to take that out
- Did some river crossings, and finally reached and ran Bruca’s Leap Redoubt
- Cleared the place, and got the mace out of the boss chest there to finish off that objective
- Headed next to find Sorine, and recruited her as per usual
- Boinged back to Hendraheim and picked up the stash I’d left there
- Then boinged to Lakeview to drop it all off, and smelted down more things for the stash
- Realized the quest marker for Gunmar was actually pretty damn nearby, but wasn’t entirely sure where, so hoofed it over there with Lucien
- Marker turned out to be at Bonechill Passage
- Killed a couple of bandits there, and Gunmar ran over to help out with that fight
- Went with Gunmar into Bonechill Passage and took out assorted critters, including the bear he’d been tracking
- Recruited Gunmar and sent him off to Fort Dawnguard
- But since I was right there in Bonechill Passage, popped out the other side so I could run Ancient’s Ascent and take out that dragon
- Got the word off the Word Wall there and the boss chest loot
- Finally boinged off to Fort Dawnguard to check in, and Isran checked us all with sunlight as he does
- Ran the conversation with Serana, and got directive to go find a Moth Priest
- Checked with Gunmar on the way out and got mixed set of Dawnguard armor
- Tried buying the full light set, but quickly found that Elessir’s hair does the thing where it vanishes underneath the helmet and that is not acceptable; wore it anyway for the moment
- Checked with Sorine and got the first of her crossbow schematic quests, which was pointing at the Wreck of the Winter War
- Boinged next to the College of Winterhold
- Checked in with Urag to ask him about both the Moth Priest and the Elder Scroll
- Got directive to go to Dragon Bridge for the Moth Priest, and also got directive to go looking for Septimus Signus in the north
- Also got a random line out of Urag about “my friend died”, and I do not know who died that he’d be reacting to…? College guard maybe?
- Did Septimus first and ran initial conversation with him; got pointed at Alftand
- From there, boinged to Snow Veil Sanctum to get within range of the Wreck of the Winter War
- Killed the bandits there and cleared the chest for the schematic
- On the way out also got fought and dispatched some vampires
- Next stop: Heljarchen Hall
- Enchanted the light armor I was wearing, and also made sure to be wearing my necklace of Disease Immunity
- Dropped off assorted things to get the carry weight down
- Boinged over to the Statue of Meridia to get within range of Dragon Bridge
- Talked to a guard to get the pointer to Forebears’ Holdout
- Went over and ran that place
- Serana fired off a line that I didn’t recognize as soon as I came in through the entrance, asking me if I was ready to do this; probably an addition from the dialogue edit mod? It certainly did sound good, anyway
- Ran the place without much trouble and freed Dexion
- Nabbed a bunch of loot and got out again
- Boinged back to Fort Dawnguard to check in
- Played through Dexion reading Serana’s scroll
- Discussed finding her mother and her mother’s Elder Scroll with Serana, and got objective to go to Castle Volkihar
- Talked to Gunmar and bought a full set of Heavy Dawnguard Armor from him, and I think that actually looks better on Elessir
- Talked to Sorine and got quest to go find Florentius
- Gave her the schematic and got her next quest, this time pointing at Stony Creek Cave
- Talked to Isran about Florentius and got objective to go to Ruunvald
- Paused there until next time
Resuming modded play after FISSES got an unofficial patch
The session on the 10th was my first modded run I was able to do after Bethesda releasing the new Skyrim update. It took several days for me to be able to play with mods again! But once FISSES got an unofficial patch provided by another player, and I installed it successfully, it was nice to be able to pick up where I’d left off getting started with Dawnguard.
Vault of the Vigilant
While hoofing it to Dimhollow Crypt to rescue Serana, I stopped at the ruined Hall of the Vigilant just to see if anything interesting had happened to it in this load order. Answer: yes. I found a Vault of the Vigilant, a large safe lying on its side.
I’m assuming, but don’t know for sure, that this is something added back in by Cutting Room Floor. From what I see poking around in searches, this vault was probably intended to be the place where the Vigil kept confiscated Daedric artifacts.
I didn’t find anything interesting in it, though. Which is probably just a matter of the hall getting destroyed as soon as the player hits level 10. And I never have any Daedric artifacts that early in the game!
Lucien and Dawnguard
With the Dawnguard plot underway, it rapidly became apparent that Lucien did not in fact have any Dawnguard-specific dialogue. Including any lines with Serana. I went back to the homepage for Lucien put up by his creator, and confirmed there that Dawnguard is not listed as game content that Lucien can comment on.
This slightly disappointed me! Just because Lucien is otherwise very thorough about chatting about things all over the game. But Dawnguard and Dragonborn apparently are not areas that his creator has touched yet.
And this by definition includes conversations with Serana. Now this in particular would be tricky, given that Serana is after all a canon content character. Lucien has had conversations with Delphine and Esbern, so it’s not impossible for a mod character to interact with canon characters, clearly. But I guess much would depend upon what lines the character already has available, and the modder’s creativity in utilizing them in new conversations. Or, the modder’s ability to utilize available tools to try to cobble together new lines for the canon character(s) in question.
I cannot help but think though that Lucien would find Serana absolutely fascinating. And terrifying at the same time. Because she is a vampire after all. But on the other hand, she’s also someone who’s been shut away from the world for so long that she’s surprised to hear that Cyrodiil is the seat of an empire–which means she’s also a treasure trove of information about the world as she knew it. And Lucien, being a scholar, must surely see the opportunities there.
And maybe seeing the Dragonborn and Serana building a tentative alliance might even encourage him to be brave enough to ask her questions! How much Serana would put up with this is an intriguing question, of course. If Lucien were particularly clever, he’d offer to clue Serana in on the status of the world as it exists now. And Serana’s definitely clever enough to see the value of a potential trade: she tells him about the world she knew, he tells her about the world he knows.
Changes with Serana Dialogue Edit mod
Speaking of Serana, this pair of sessions also finally marks the point at which I get to see the Serana Dialogue Edit mod in action. One of the first main ways it presented itself was that when I mount up on my unicorn, this automatically triggers Serana summoning herself an Arvak-like horse of her own. She dismisses it as soon as you dismount.
And her Arvak-like horse does look pretty badass! I’m not sure what the horse is actually called, though.
In general Serana seems a lot quieter in this mod, too. I do like that it dials down the frequency of her saying “What do you need?” But so far, as of these sessions and other Elessir sessions I’ve done since, my gut feeling is that it may dial down some of her other ambient dialogue a bit too much.
Elessir’s reaction to the situation in general
Let me note for the record though that Elessir is totally attracted to Serana. She is eight thousand percent his type: dark-haired, beautiful, and in possession of dangerous abilities that could easily kill him if she were so inclined. (Persons who have read Bone Walker will understand when I point out that Serana hits Elessir very similar to how Melorite hit his namesake character in that book!)
And I daresay this Elessir may have been legit tempted by Harkon’s offer to become a vampire lord himself. I think he went to the Dawnguard initially just because this whole Dragonborn thing has him in the habit of trying to take out threats to the populace in general, and the Dawnguard seems a good way to do that. But on the other hand, Elessir’s propensity to stir shit up means he’s not exactly impressed with Isran, either. And I think he’d let Isran know it if the game gave me an opportunity to do so.
On the third hand, I think he also read Harkon immediately as an even bigger asshole than Isran, so this was Elessir voting for the lesser of two assholes.
Frost River in conjunction with Dawnguard
Running Dawnguard finally gave me a reason to side-eye the addition of Frost River to the area right around Dragon Bridge. As I’ve written about before, I do really like having access to a forge and a smith to sell stuff to, right there.
But here’s the thing: having that tiny hamlet right there within easy range of Forebears’ Holdout means there were more witnesses in range to maybe hear what was going on. (Not to mention more witnesses in range of whatever bandit attack also took out the merchant wagon, also in the immediate area!)
Mind you, I don’t dispute that the Volkihar vampires would cheerfully have slaughtered everybody in Frost River if they’d had to. But unless they attacked Dexion in the middle of the night, I have a hard time buying that they wouldn’t have had any extra witnesses at all. And I also have a hard time buying that Dexion would have been traveling in the middle of the night to begin with. If nothing else, his escort should have warned him that traveling at night would be dangerous. So I’d expect him to be traveling during daylight hours.
So yeah, that’s a thing. It’s not a huge strain on my suspension of disbelief, not enough by itself to make me reconsider using Cutting Room Floor. But I can feel a tug on that suspension there nonetheless.
Notable Lucien lines
Lucien does not have Dawnguard-specific commentary, as I noted above. But some of his other lines nonetheless seemed very apt to the situation!
He said this while we were on the way out of Dimhollow Crypt after rescuing Serana:
“I can think of nicer places to get lost.”
And I saw Lucien give this line before in Harrow’s playthrough, but I’m noting it again here because LOL. This is Lucien’s reaction to finding Septimus Signus’ outpost:
“Well this is a charming little place for a perfectly reasonable scholar to live.”
Lucien got pretty excited about hunting down the Elder Scroll in general:
“Off we go to fetch an Elder Scroll from a dwarven ruin. Oh, the potential. The discovery! What an opportunity!”
One last side thought
I saw the human watchman at Castle Volkihar’s guard, as I’ve commented on in previous playthroughs. He threw his line about “Way I hear it, Lady Serana’s been gone a real long time.”
And it occurs to me to wonder: if even the human servant they’ve got guarding the door knows about Serana, a human who could not possibly have been alive when Serana was last in the castle, exactly how often has she been coming up as a topic of conversation in the castle? Does Harkon rant about her and Valerica? Do the other vampires whisper about her behind Harkon’s back?
Elessir’s next post continues Dawnguard action! Primarily, rescuing Florentius from Ruunvald, hitting Castle Volkihar with Serana (and discovering Lucien will definitely not go in there), and running the Soul Cairn.