• Finds-The-Way Playthrough,  Skyrim

    In Which Finds-The-Way Slays Sahloknir and Joins the Thieves Guild

    A three-session post, just to clear my queue! Primary action here is slaying Sahloknir at Kynesgrove, and also joining the Thieves Guild! With a bunch of side action involving bear hunting, getting the plot started at Largashbur, raiding Lost Valley Redoubt for the Word of Power there, and finding out where the location is for some of the Anniversary Edition content I haven’t actually run yet.

  • Elessir Playthrough,  Skyrim

    In Which Elessir Defeats the Wolf Queen, and the Dragon Sahloknir

    Second of two Elessir posts I wanted to do today, to get caught up on his run. Main action here: retrieving a helmet from Rimerock Burrow; interrupting a necromantic ritual at Wolfskull Cave; going with Delphine to Kynesgrove and defeating the dragon Sahloknir; returning to Solitude and defeating the undead Potema in her catacombs; and taking her husband’s hunting horn to a Shrine of Talos at the request of Elisif.

  • Alarrah Playthrough

    In which Alarrah the Dragonborn’s Player is Seriously Not Amused

    Twitter thread from 5/12/2021, in which Alarrah and Lydia make it to the end of Ustengrav, go to Riverwood to find out what happened to the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, and then journey with Delphine to kill the dragon Sahloknir at Kynesgrove.

    In which Alarrah the Dragonborn’s Player is Seriously Not Amused, and in which Alarrah and Lydia weren’t exactly thrilled either:

    9:33 AM · May 12, 2021
    1. Last save point was down in the Ustengrav Depths, just before the waterfall. Which is where we rejoin our heroines! Made my way down there, heard what’s becoming a familiar musical hit, and found another Word of Power wall! First word of the Become Ethereal Shout: learned.

    9:34 AM · May 12, 2021
    2. Paul was watching me play at this point and dropped me a large hint that yes, I did want to check out that waterfall. So I jumped into the water and went through the fall, where I discovered a room behind it. And a chest, and one draugr to kill.

    9:34 AM · May 12, 2021
    3. Still wasn’t where I needed to be to get the horn, according to the dungeon map. And there wasn’t any other exit out of the room behind the waterfall. So I went back out from there, with Lydia slogging through the water behind me, and went back up the way I’d come.

    9:35 AM · May 12, 2021
    4. Took some more judicious slow exploration with the Candlelight spell on to finally discover where I needed to go. And through more up, down, back, and forth in various directions (see previous commentary re: twisty kind of dungeon), I spotted a few more already killed draugr.

    9:37 AM · May 12, 2021
    Which was continuing to seem suspicious, given that Lydia and I hadn’t killed them.

    5. Found the gates I needed to get through to get to the proper dungeon area, of which there were three. Also discovered the stones that triggered those gates, whenever you got near them.

    9:38 AM · May 12, 2021
    Logicked my way through it and realized, well shit, this is going to require me to use that Whirlwind Sprint thing, isn’t it? Which Paul confirmed.

    9:39 AM · May 12, 2021
    (Now, this is another thing I get from a narrative perspective. If the game’s going to have the Dragonborn learn various Shouts, it makes sense to have puzzles that actually exercise those Shouts. So I’m not going to say this is a bad game design decision.

    9:39 AM · May 12, 2021
    I AM going to say that for me as a player, that puzzle was not enjoyable, because I still have issues with the necessary muscle memory and timing to make it safely through the puzzle. And that was with Paul’s guidance, too. But this part’s on me, not on the game.

    9:40 AM · May 12, 2021
    This may or may not improve later if I can get down the necessary muscle memory to manipulate two controls at once. In the last couple days of gameplay I’m only just now getting to a point where I feel like I can just move around smoothly, navigate and turn along a road, etc.

    9:41 AM · May 12, 2021
    And if I’m moving and turning my head, that’s also moving two controls, the left and right levers. This is improving with practice, so hopefully the Left + right trigger combo to make this Shout happen will improve for me as well if I can actually just practice the thing.)

    9:42 AM · May 12, 2021
    6. Getting through the gates also required that I tell Lydia to back off, so that she wouldn’t try to follow me through and get plammoed by them. I need to remember that I can in fact tell Lydia to stand out of the way. This makes her throw off a line about standing guard.

    9:44 AM · May 12, 2021
    7. Once I got past those stupid gates, I was finally on the home stretch. Got down into this ornate chamber with a walkway between two great pools, up from which rose some lavish carvings. Those things rising up actually looked pretty awesome and made me go “WHOA” out loud.

    9:45 AM · May 12, 2021
    I inched my way past them, a little suspicious that they might actually try to explode at me or something, but made it to where the Horn was supposed to be, without incident.

    9:45 AM · May 12, 2021
    8. And oh look more already dead draugr. Which, in retrospect, should have been a big honking clue, because I’d seen too many already dead draugr for this to NOT be plot relevant. I.e., “somebody’s already been down here and killed them, probably recently”.

    9:47 AM · May 12, 2021
    9. Which is exactly what I discovered, as I did a circuit around the structure that was supposed to hold the Horn. I didn’t clue in though until the game threw me up a failure message about not finding the Horn, and that I needed to read a note instead. At which point:

    9:48 AM · May 12, 2021
    Alarrah: WHAT?!
    Lydia: WHAT?!
    Me: MOTHERFUCKER! I slogged all the way down here for NOTHING?

    9:48 AM · May 12, 2021
    10. Dara and Paul both tried to assure me that this was not a question of me failing or doing something wrong, the game narrative structure is calling for this. It’s good narrative tension.

    9:49 AM · May 12, 2021
    However, for me as a player, it was not enjoyable game design. If I have to slog through a long dungeon, the game damn well better make it worth my time. I’d have been less cranky about not getting the Horn if there’d been other suitably awesome loot to balance that out.

    9:55 AM · May 12, 2021
    Or enough actual opponents to kill to let me level up. But with a lot of the dungeon’s opponents already dead, I couldn’t even do that.

    9:55 AM · May 12, 2021
    11. Also, the back door shortcut to get out of the dungeon didn’t even have the courtesy of letting me get all the way out. It cut the distance by only about half and I still had to go manually through the upper level of the barrow. Grumph.

    9:55 AM · May 12, 2021
    12. At this point, having read the note instructing her to go rent the attic room at the Sleeping Giant Inn, I figure Alarrah is going “_Seriously_?! I have to go all the way back to friggin’ Riverwood?!” This, however, is what Fast Travel is for. So back to Riverwood we went.

    9:56 AM · May 12, 2021
    13. There were new guards in Riverwood, and I do recall the Jarl of Whiterun ordering a detachment to be sent there. So presumably these were some of that detachment. And as I came in one of them made chitchat about being Dragonborn. So presumably my rep is, indeed, spreading.

    9:58 AM · May 12, 2021
    14. Got a little gold off Sven the bard, who was apparently pleased I’d kept Faendal from lying about him to Camilla.

    9:58 AM · May 12, 2021
    15. At this point I already knew as a player that there was more to Delphine than meets the eye—and Alarrah finally now also learned it, as it turned out that Delphine was the one who’d taken the horn.

    9:58 AM · May 12, 2021
    Tried to rent the attic room from her, only to have her take me aside to talk in private, and learn from her that she’d taken the Horn because she was looking for me—or someone like me.

    9:59 AM · May 12, 2021
    She spoke of dragons coming back to life, and that she knew where the next one was going to happen. At this point I imagine Alarrah was staring at her _very_ grumpily, but because Delphine did in fact turn over the Horn, she agreed to come with her to check out this new dragon.

    10:00 AM · May 12, 2021
    16. Which involved a speedy tromp out of Riverwood, and up to the fork in the road that led west off to Whiterun—only from there, we went east.

    10:00 AM · May 12, 2021
    17. Delphine kept killing wolves that attacked us, and made commentary about wanting to make sure I didn’t die before we got to our destination. But this was more of “the NPC kills something before I even see it”. I need to listen harder for the audio cues of imminent attack.

    10:02 AM · May 12, 2021
    18. Delphine also kept throwing random lines at me, at one point expressing appreciation that I’d decided to trust her and that she really did hope I was the Dragonborn.

    10:02 AM · May 12, 2021
    Delphine also made complimentary commentary when Alarrah pointed out that she’d seen her in Whiterun, talking to the wizard—“Ah, you were paying attention!” This mollified my cranky state somewhat, and I figure it also mollified Alarrah a little.

    10:03 AM · May 12, 2021
    Delphine seems like a complex and interesting character, and that she’s a woman pretending to be a simple innkeeper but is in reality something far more important is intriguing to me from a narrative perspective.

    10:03 AM · May 12, 2021
    19. Partway along the road though I got separated from her. Trying to figure out where she’d gone led me up a hillside where I discovered my first giant in the game. A very, very cranky giant.

    10:12 AM · May 12, 2021
    Which pounded me right into the dirt and caused me to revert back to the last autosave, which meant I had to start the road jaunt with Delphine a second time. 😣

    10:12 AM · May 12, 2021
    20. This time though we made it all the way to Kynesgrove. And when we got there, we passed a villager coming the other way going “Don’t go up there there’s a DRAGON!” Delphine went “oh shit we may be too late”, and we charged up past the village to the burial ground.

    10:13 AM · May 12, 2021
    21. Where we discovered another dragon resurrecting the one we’d come to investigate. And by “another dragon”, I mean “the one that destroyed Helgen from the start of the game”. OH SHIT INDEED.

    10:13 AM · May 12, 2021
    That other dragon flew off, leaving us to kill the one it had roused. I do actually kill it, and slurp up its soul, at which point Delphine goes “you really are the Dragonborn” and spills the rest of her story.

    10:14 AM · May 12, 2021
    I.e., that she’s a member of the Blades, dragon hunters who have a long history of serving the Dragonborn, the greatest dragon hunter. Since there hasn’t been a Dragonborn in two centuries, they have had less purpose—but now there’s a Dragonborn again. Yay me?

    10:15 AM · May 12, 2021
    22. Delphine presented her theory that the Thalmor may be behind this campaign to resurrect dragons and proposed we go break into their embassy to look for clues, and to meet her back at Riverwood when I’m ready to do this. At which point this quest line was completed.

    10:15 AM · May 12, 2021
    23. At this point though Alarrah (not to mention her player) was thinking, “Okay FINE this sounds important and all but dammit I have this Horn and the Greybeards DID ask me to take it back to them, so I’m going to damn well do that first.”

    10:16 AM · May 12, 2021
    Which is what Paul strongly recommended, to get that done and dealt with, and then stand back doing side things for a little bit to regain my footing before trying to take on main quest plot points again.

    Which is exactly what I will do.

    10:16 AM · May 12, 2021


    1. This post was written on 3/17/2022, but backdated to the time of the tweet thread for organizational purposes.
    2. Post updated 12/28/2022, to reconstruct the original Twitter thread in the post body, and remove links to Twitter.