Elder Scrolls Online,  Marwyth Playthrough

In Which Marwyth Saves Eastmarch and Discovers a Threat to Clockwork City

This is another ESO catchup post from mid-January, this time for Marwyth’s playthrough. Major action covered here is my finishing off the Eastmarch plot arc for the Ebonheart Pact, and then kicking off the Clockwork City DLC by running that plot’s prologue.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 1/8-1/14/2024
  • Session numbers in this run: 86-92

January 8th

  • Ran a bunch of surveys, trying to get enough heartwood to finish off a Deep Winter writ
  • Did a lot of exploring on foot since these surveys were in places I’d been to as Gyllerah, but not as Marwyth
  • Ran two different dolmens, one in Greenshade and one in Glenumbra

January 9th

  • Briefly tried the Infinite Archive with Ember as backup

January 10th

  • Bought the inn room in Leyawiin to round out my collection of inn rooms
  • Ran the quest to unlock Mirri for Marwyth
  • Mostly went the same way as with Gyllerah, but this time I saved all of Mirri’s friends except for the guy who got soul-shriven
  • Took a crack at the Archive with Mirri but Marwyth still didn’t last as long as Gyllerah

January 11th

  • Did one round in the Archive this time with Mirri as backup
  • This let me confirm that Mirri and Ember do not have the same Rapport level with Marwyth that they do with Gyllerah, even though the characters have the same gear and skills no matter which character I’m running
  • So Marwyth did not have Ember or Mirri’s quests at this point
  • Decided to see about a proper damage-dealing build for Marwyth since the one she had wasn’t cutting it

January 12th

  • Did one round of Infinite Archive and nope, didn’t get very far with that

January 13th

  • Ran the rest of the Eastmarch arc, with Ember as backup
  • Did several small quests at Jorunn’s Stand
  • Got the Ebonheart Pact leaders all talking to one another properly and willing to work with the prince, even though the prince had previously been a dick
  • Notably, had to eat a particular mushroom to make wolves not attack me, and get the favor of Thane Oda Wolf-Sister
  • Then had to go to Skuldafn, about which I have a lot to say, see below
  • Used more of my stock of invisibility potions to make it past a bunch of the bad guys
  • Got a little turned around though trying to figure out how the hell to get to the portal to Sovngarde–because as with many other locations previously seen in Skyrim, ESO’s Skuldafn was simultaneously familiar and not familiar
  • Met the ghost of Queen Nurnhilde again, and she told me I’d would be entering the portal as her champion
  • Fildgor Orcthane was right there by the portal, and all I had to do was fight him
  • Was surprised that I didn’t actually immediately kill him, he yielded and surrendered, at which point I had the opportunity to spare him or kill him–and I actually spared him
  • Got another decision point though: to either tell Jorunn to spare him, or execute him
  • At which point Marwyth did tell the king that in her opinion, his brother deserved what was coming to him–so then the king killed his ass
  • Jorunn and the Argonian and Dunmer generals formalized the Ebonheart Pact, each of them presenting artifacts I’d encountered during earlier stages of the plot
  • Then Jorunn sent me back to Jorunn’s Stand to update his son about what had happened
  • The prince proclaimed me the High King’s Arrow, and that concluded the arc
  • Another Nord showed up with news from the Rift, saying that I was needed there to help Shor’s Stone fight off an attack of Reachmen
  • CAN DO! But later! Paused Marwyth there until next time

January 14th

  • Ran Karnwasten with Ember as backup, and also did the local plot with the Khajiit smuggler
  • Got another bit of the ginger kitten’s fragments, which put me at four of seven
  • Kept crashing in there every time I tried to fight a particular boss though, I think maybe the same one I crashed at when I tried to group up unsuccessfully with that other player before?
  • Decided to start the Clockwork City plot with Marwyth to move the Daedric War storyline further along, so ran the prologue for that
  • This required me to go talk to a guy at the Mages Guild in Mournhold
  • He started chatting with me and then was SURPRISE! killed by his own shadow, which was neat and creepy
  • Colleague of his begged me to go warn some other junior members of their Order about what was going on
  • Went first to Shornhelm in Rivenspire, first time I set foot in there with either alt actually
  • Heard Darien Gautier near the gates, but did not go and interact with him
  • Went to the guild, and another mage told me the guy I was looking for was out in the courtyard
  • Went out there and OHNOEZ he was dead, so I took his notes
  • Went back inside and told the other guy this one was dead
  • Proceeded to Stormhold and found the mage there, an Argonian
  • Convinced him I was on the level and told him to get to his sister for safety; he let me have the journal he’d hidden nearby
  • Last, returned to Marbruk
  • Helped a Bosmer mage there by defeating her shadow when it came to life and tried to attack her
  • Then I saw a projection of a member of the Psijic Order, Lilatha
  • She asked me to go get two components of a thing she needed to try to help figure out what was going on
  • This required me to go first to Khenarthi’s Roost
  • Hadn’t been there yet with Marwyth, so wound up hitting some of the same initial stuff there that Gyllerah did–including NPCs throwing random lines thinking I had in fact been rescued off the beach, to wit, uh, no
  • Avoided all things pertaining to the main plot of the area though, and mostly stuck to a straight exploring of the coast of the island to get to where I needed to be
  • Gathwen tried to approach me for the temple plot but again ignored that one, don’t want to run major plots on this island with Marwyth yet
  • Made it to the area i was supposed to get to, Hazak’s Hollow
  • This was not a delve, but there was a local plot for it, a Khajiit who asked me to get in there and rescue her son, and who told me a sad story about her husband succumbing to skooma
  • Got into the cave and rescued the son, who begged me to help him kill Hazak
  • So we did, and got back out to report to the mother–who turned out to have been Hazak’s wife
  • Hazak had turned to smuggling to support his addiction
  • Their family had been training in the worship of Riddle’thar, and the mother was proud of her son fighting well
  • She gave me a piece of armor as a quest reward
  • Then had to go to Craglorn and hit an actual delve there, the Howling Sepulchers
  • Got the skyshard from there and the other piece of the MacGuffin
  • Then went to Vulkhel Guard to try to find Lilatha and her boat
  • When I got to that, the mage I’d met back in Mournhold, the one who’d asked me to warn her colleagues, showed up
  • She dropped a remark about the boat being a ‘death trap’ and begged me to let her come with me
  • She also told me she’d tracked me by slipping an enchanted coin into my pocket, to wit, what? THE HELL YOU DID, said the pickpocket of the Thieves Guild
  • That said I did let her come with me, so we went to the island of Dranil Kir
  • At which point Bonafryd was not with me, which seemed suspicious or at least glitchy plot-wise
  • Found Lilatha and went with her to assemble the MacGuffin
  • We activated the MacGuffin and saw some images hinting at the main plot to come, especially trouble with Sotha Sil and the Clockwork City
  • Then Lilandra’s shadow showed up and started trying to kill her; I took it out
  • At which point Bonafryd actually showed up again, and SURPRISE SHE WAS TOTALLY BULLSHITTING
  • Bonafryd attacked us, first by trying to make Lilatha’s shadow kill her again, so I killed it again
  • Bonafryd ranted about not failing her mistress, and yep, she sure was a Nocturnal worshipper
  • Took her out, then had final convo with Lilatha about needing to proceed to Clockwork City
  • Paused there until next time

Learning more about how Companions work

Picking up Mirri and Ember for Marwyth as well as Gyllerah taught me an important bit of data: i.e., that even though a Companion will share levels and the same equipment across your alts, they will not share Rapport levels.

Which means that even though Gyllerah had unlocked them, Marwyth did not yet have Mirri and Ember’s personal quests at this point. I have since actually run them with Marwyth as well as Gyllerah. But this was a good thing to find out!

I’ve learned as well that they don’t share costume assignments across characters, either. I’ve been putting the Golden Saint costume on Ember, and I’ve had to do it for all alts I’ve got. By contrast, the outfit I set up for Mirri via Gyllerah did come over for running Mirri with Marwyth.

Marwyth in the Infinite Archive

These sessions saw my first attempts to run Marwyth in the Infinite Archive, since I’d already done so with Gyllerah and I was curious how Marwyth would stack up. Answer: not well! Which surprised me, given that at the time, Marwyth had better damage stats than Gyllerah.

But she didn’t get very far in, with Ember as backup. Or with Mirri, once I unlocked Mirri via Marwyth as well.

My theory at the time was that either a) Gyllerah was doing better because of being faster thanks to Adept Rider gear, or b) Gyllerah had better healing capabilities. Probably option B, given that you have got to have decent self-heals running the Archive. Or else be playing with a player who can heal you, or a Companion who can do so.

Action in Eastmarch

Running more action in Eastmarch, and in particular at Jorunn’s Stand, got slightly weird. I had to talk to a couple of the thanes I’d previously met for immediately local quests–but these thanes acted like I hadn’t met them before.

Notably among said quests, I had to eat a particular mushroom that made me give off an odor that kept wolves from attacking me, so that I’d be able to approach Thane Oda Wolf-Sister out in the woods immediately around Jorunn’s Stand. Now, I’d just seen that killing wolves got me Rapport points with Ember. So I figure having wolves not attacking me was probably annoying her, or at least disappointing her! If so, she was at least kind enough to not grouse about it to me. 😀

Relatedly, I suspect the Wolf-Sister was not entirely happy that I wasn’t quite on board with her wolf enthusiasm. I got options for how to answer that very question, and took the less enthused option just because I think Marwyth was feeling kind of surly about how very fragrant that mushroom made her. And this is a woman who’s deliberately crept through sewers to conduct heists for the Thieves Guild! Snerk.

The weirdest part of this RP, though, was having to go to Skuldafn for the finale of the arc.

Skuldafn, comma, which is where you also have to go at the end of Skyrim. And the fact that you can’t get there on foot is, as I’ve written about many times at this point, a huge plot point in that game.

So it was very weird to be in a plot where I not only went to Skuldafn, I did so on foot.

What this tells me is, at some point between the timeframe of ESO and the timeframe of Skyrim, something happened to cut off Skuldafn from the rest of the world. I’m not sure what. I couldn’t find anything about this on the various lore pages on the UESP wiki. So I don’t know if this is a question that actually has an answer–whether because Zenimax just hasn’t come up with one yet, or whether they have and just haven’t disclosed it in released game content yet.

Relatedly, I don’t think I ever registered that Skuldafn was physically located in Eastmarch. And for that matter, not a huge distance southeast of Windhelm, according to the ESO maps on the wiki. It’s pretty much due east of Mzulft. But I think I can be forgiven for not realizing this–because Skuldafn doesn’t actually appear on Skyrim’s game map. And I don’t know this for a positive fact, but I suspect Skuldafn must be its own worldspace in Skyrim, similar to Solstheim? Which would explain why it isn’t shown at all on the main game map.

So best I can figure is, Skuldafn is somewhere just beyond the Skyrim game map’s eastern boundary, moving eastward from Mzulft. And I do know that a lot of that eastern boundary of the map is mountainous. Given this, I think it’s reasonable that something as simple as a massive avalanche could have blocked off access to the place.

Or, here’s a thought–from what I see on the ESO maps on the wiki, Skuldafn’s on a large penisula that sticks out into the Sea of Ghosts. That body of water is the only thing between where Skuldafn is, and the northwestern corner of Vvardenfell. And we certainly know Vvardenfell is volcanic. We also know from ESO that Stonefalls, southeast of the Rift, has at least two volcanoes.

It therefore strikes me as within reason that another volcano could be present in the range that contains Skuldafn. And if there was an eruption that did the right type and amount of geographic damage, that could certainly also cut off access to the ruin.

On the other hand, this being Elder Scrolls lore we’re discussing, I could also find it eminently reasonable that Alduin might have deliberately sabotaged overland access to the place, once he reappeared in the world and started resurrecting dragons to follow him. A bunch of sufficiently determined dragons could absolutely wreck enough local havoc to block off access to their lord’s chosen domain, I’d think.

And here’s the other big weird thing about going to Skuldafn: there was absolutely the same portal to Sovngarde there. It looked pretty much exactly like it did in Skyrim, too. And I’ll note here for the record that ESO does not do any better a job than Skyrim did at answering the question of why, exactly, there is a physical portal to Nord heaven!

In ESO, the place is in the hands of Fildgor Orcthane and his followers, so when the Vestige shows up, your job is to get into the place, commit some acts of havoc, and clear the way for Jorunn Skald-King’s forces to come in and take the place back. All very well and good, but this raises a side question for me of, why was this place in Fildgor Orcthane’s hands to begin with?

Because I mean seriously, this place has an active, open portal to Sovngarde. I should think that it would be the holiest site in all of Skyrim, even more so than the Throat of the World.

We know from Skyrim and general lore that the place used to be under the control of the Dragon Cult–because even in-game in Skyrim, the place is chock full of draugr and a dragon priest. Lore says the place fell into ruin after the Dragon War. But I’m baffled as to why the place was even allowed to fall into ruin. Why didn’t the Nords establish an order of protectors to guard and cherish the place?

I learned as part of running this plot that apparently only those of royal blood were allowed to go to the portal, and I could do so because Queen Nurnhilde specifically named me her champion. Which is certainly a strategy to keep random people from trying to get into Sovngarde without actually dying first. But who actually enforces that? Does the portal itself enforce this? Or is it more of a tradition kind of thing?

In which case I’d still be wondering why there aren’t people there full-time, protecting the portal from random adventurers and/or crazy people determined to get to Sovngarde.

You could make an argument that its remote location dissuaded the Nords from staking a proper claim to the place… but that didn’t seem to stop Fildgor’s forces from taking it over. And it doesn’t stop you as a player from actually getting there. It was a surprisingly short and easy jaunt to get there, in fact. I didn’t even have to mount up.

And you might ask, well, if the portal to Sovngarde is there in ESO, too, does the plot use it?

Answer: yes. I did in fact have to step through that portal into Sovngarde itself, for the final fight with Fildgor. But it was surprisingly anticlimactic. Going through the portal landed me in a spot that looked almost exactly like the spot I’d just left, only with a general ethereal haze on it. There was no sign of the celestial glory that is Sovngarde’s skies in Skyrim. And I didn’t even have to go very far from the portal at all to find and fight Fildgor.

Which made me wonder why Sovngarde was involved in this plot at all. I suppose that Zenimax didn’t want to try to replicate the Sovngarde experience in Skyrim, because after all, that’s endgame content in Skyrim, and trying to do the same look and feel in ESO would steal Skyrim’s thunder. But on the other hand, I feel like it also weakened that final fight with Fildgor.

Because here’s the thing: like I’ve written in previous posts, Fildgor’s overall “Make My Sister’s Spirit Occupy My Body So I’ll Be the Rightful Ruler of Skyrim” plan is just fucking goofy. One presumes he had to go into Sovngarde for the final stage of this plan, but the fight mechanics had him drawing on the spirits of the dead to try to boost his health while I kicked his ass. Which didn’t make any sense to me either. I have a real hard time buying that the spirits of Nord dead would take well to a living interloper coming into that holy place and trying to force his sister’s spirit to occupy his body.

If that’s not necromancy, it certainly seems necromancy-adjacent! Why the hell didn’t the spirits of Sovngarde swarm him as soon as he started trying this bullshit?

Also, that fight with Fildgor was surprisingly brief. He was not a tough fight. And I was legit surprised as well that he actually surrendered! Which triggered another couple of choices I had to make: killing him immediately, or turning him over to Jorunn.

I chose the latter. I think Marwyth was very, very close to just outright killing the bastard. She certainly wanted to. But her prior interactions with Naryu came into play here, I think. Marwyth is not a member of the Morag Tong–but she’s a Dunmer, and she respects the idea of legal writs of assassination. And the closest thing to that in this scenario would have been the king outright telling her beforehand to take his brother out.

Since Jorunn didn’t actually do that, Marwyth–very reluctantly–decided she should leave the matter of Fildgor’s fate up to the king. Mind you, I did not try to persuade Jorunn to let his brother live. Because Marwyth had enough savvy to realize that this was Jorunn’s call, but not enough mercy to argue for Fildgor’s life.

Because Marwyth does have a better nature, and that part of her did still sting from having accidentally killed that manor guard in Balmora. So she does try to keep a lid on her vindictiveness… to a point. In this case? Fuck Fildgor. He totally deserved to die.

One thing that did amuse me here though: both Nurnhilde’s ghost and King Jorunn had dialogue about how it would have been better if I’d just straight up killed him. LOL. Nords.

Clockwork City prologue

After all that action in Eastmarch, I changed tacks hard and decided to move the Daedric War storyline further along–and run the Clockwork City prologue!

This was good strong fun. I liked the creepy factor of members of the Order of the Eye being killed by their own shadows. And this was the first official time I set foot in Shornhelm at all, since Gyllerah hadn’t officially been there yet.

I couldn’t help but be amused at hearing Darien Gautier near the gates being all Darien-y. But of course Marwyth has no idea who this guy is yet. So I didn’t interact with him at all.

It’s always slightly weird to me to do actual plot in Marbruk, too. 😀 But this prologue had actual plot action in Marbruk! I guess it’ll be even weirder when I finally run this plot as Gyllerah, too. Marwyth only sorta kinda lives in Marbruk, technically. But it’s Gyllerah’s actual official home base.

And it was good to see the Psijic Order involved here, too, or at least one of them. It was nice buildup to the Psijics being even more involved in the Summerset portion of the overall Daedric War storyline. And Lilatha was a fun character. Who apparently, according to the wiki, can be found on Artaeum after finishing this prologue! I’ll need to look for her.

The plot also sent me to Khenarthi’s Roost. I hadn’t been there yet as Marwyth, so this let me see that coming in there outside the context of running it as a starter zone is another rough patch of the game’s post-One-Tamriel dialogue. By which I mean, I ran into a few NPCs who gave me the same sort of “oh hey you just got rescued from the beach” dialogue that you get if you are in fact running the place as a starter zone.

Now, I acknowledge that the Clockwork City prologue is DLC content released after the base game. And going back to adjust the dialogue of Khenarthi’s Roost NPCs to be more aware of whether or not you’ve actually run the correct plot to land in the place as your starter (either coming out of the initial tutorial, or running the correct part of Cadwell’s Almanac) would take extra work that ZOS probably just didn’t want to do.

But it sure did make for another one of those confusing little “what? no” experiences. Because Marwyth did not in fact get rescued from the beach. She’s Ebonheart Pact, not Aldmeri Dominion. And I would not in fact be playing that “rescue from the beach” scenario unless I explicitly run her all the way through Cadwell’s Almanac, since the progression goes Pact -> Covenant -> Dominion.

With this in mind, I deliberately avoided any local plot content on Khenarthi’s Roost as best I could and just went straight to the part involved with the plot I was actually running. I did make one exception, though, since Hazak’s Hollow had prologue plot and a local plot. Since I was there anyway, I also ran the local plot involving a Khajiit mother asking me to rescue her son.

I liked that the plot sent me to run a delve in Craglorn, too. Which I think marked the first time I had any specific plot to do there, too!

And here’s another bit of “what? no” I got out of this plot: the part where Bonafryd, the mage I’d met earlier in the plot, claimed to me that she’d slipped a “spooring coin” into my pocket to track my whereabouts. This raised my eyebrows hard. Because hi, Bonnie dear, I am a member of the Thieves Guild, and my Legerdemain is probably a lot better than yours.

So unless you slipped that coin into my pocket explicitly by magic, this smells like bullshit.

I mean honestly. Sorry, game. I explicitly maxed out my Pickpocketing passives on the Legerdemain skill line! You cannot make me buy that a skilled pickpocket is going to miss somebody slipping something into her pocket. I can maybe buy it if Bonafryd explicitly was invisible at the time, or had some sort of extra boost of Nocturnal’s favor, or something. But otherwise? NO.

Also, I found the plot flow weird once I got to the island I was trying to reach. Bonafryd just up and vanished when I got there. I was legit unsure whether this was an actual plot red flag, or just an actual game glitch. Turned out it was of course a red flag, because of course Bonafryd turned out to be working for Nocturnal. But as a play experience, it did at least strike me as a little clunky that she vanished for no apparent reason when I’d explicitly allowed her to come to the island with me.

The wiki says that she should have claimed to be seasick and told me to go on ahead. I do not actually remember this happening, but it’s certainly possible that I might have blown past that. I will need to watch out for this when I run this plot as Gyllerah. (Because I will be running it again, and it is active on Gyllerah’s quest journal!)

But although there were awkward bits to this plot flow, I still did overall enjoy it. And it was a great opener for the main event!

Next time

Marwyth’s next post will feature major Clockwork City action, but also side questing for the Guilds and Glory event that happened in January!


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.