Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Important Pieces of Paper: Skyrim, Dragonborn, the Final Frontier

Well here it is, the final expansion to Skyrim and I’ve only finished it almost 3 years since it came out, I should feel a sense of completion but nothing ever seems complete with this game though I maintain that I’ve done most of it, pretty much all I can do now. I had previously decided to do Dragonborn with my Imperial-siding Nord Brogan that you’d know from a  previous post as I did Dawnguard with my more steathly-type character so it’s only fair. Firstly though I couldn’t get the game to recognise that I had the expansion so I had to download a new version of the game so I could finally see those cultist guys who then tried to kill me to no avail cause I’m level 45 and have full enchanted Dragonbone armor and weapons and are boosted with skills and are pretty damn prepared but with the scaling effect you can still be killed quite quickly if you’re silly. The main questline for this expansion involves an encounter with some Cultists and leads to you travelling to the Island of Solstheim with is north-west of Vvardenfell which itself is a part of Morrowind the home of the Dunmer or Dark Elves. Solstheim was given to the Dark Elves by the Nords when the Red Mountain erupted creating a mass exodus of refugees from Morrowind. Your involvement there comes from the Cultists' Orders you find that mention the name Miraak who is apparently the first Dragonborn and the main antagonist of the series but not the only one.

Map of Solstheim
So I had gotten the first quest and was ready to go to be off to Solstheim, but the problem was the latest save I had seemed to be before I’d actually finished the civil war so I still had some castles and outposts to clear before I could kill Ulfric himself. So I thought I may as well do that but firstly I had decided I wanted to get some more skill ups with single handed weapons and also blocking, so I got my Dragonbone Mace and Dragonplate Shield and went in for a bash with my trusty companion Lydia killing Stormcloaks left and right. The shield and mace fighting style has some pretty brutal cinema kills (beheading) etc and was a lot of fun. So we took over more and more territory until we stormed Winterfell oops I mean Windhelm and I cut the bastard and his lieutenant down for the second time. I was sure it was the second time too as I was sure I had done it before and listened to General Tullius’ magnificent speech but anyway It’s done now and I can get on with things. I did return once or twice to the Winterhold Throne room to find all of the ousted Stormcloak-backing Jarls now sitting at the table as usual but I noticed that the dead bodies of Ulfric Stormcloak and Galmar Stone-Fist were still there.

A pretty cool shot of a victorious General Tullius and I
This is because of a bug in Skyrim that dead bodies will sometimes not despawn so they are lying around where they are killed, which can often be annoying because they are in your house or on this spot of land which you want to keep looking nice and clear of dead fackin bodies of course. This issue was rampant on the island of Solstheim where much of the story takes place as there were I had to resort to the /disable console command to get rid of any annoying dead bodies (including dragon skeletons) that were around the two places I stayed, one island and a house I had been given. Funnily enough it took me awhile to remember I could do that, thank god for having Skyrim on PC eh? those console peasants must just have to deal with it. Though it actually suits in this situation in this case as both Ulfric and Galmor bodies are fallen slumped against the Throne at the feet of the replacement Jarl Brunwulf Free-Winter, I swear that would be one hell of a sight to behold for all of those exiled Jarls hah, so I just left it be.

The bodies of Ulfric and Galmor at the feet of Brunwulf Free-Winter

I then went down to the docks, got on the ship and set sail to Solstheim where after a brief loading sequence we arrived at Raven Rock, the main town of Solstheim. It’s a mixture of Nordic and Dark Elf architecture with those underground hovels that they have, I also noticed the pillars of black stone, the dead trees and ash everywhere, I also saw the odd looking shrine thingy that some random people were building a weird monument around an All-Maker Stones which are similar in nature to Skyrim's Standing Stones, as well as Cyrodiil's Rune Stones and Doomstones. Everybody sounded a little unfriendly except for the blacksmith who was actually Nordic and asked me to retrieve his Ancient Nordic Pickaxe from Crescius Caerellius in the nearby mine.

The Ancient Nordic Pickaxe, pretty coool lookin'
 But first I thought I should research what houses I could get in Solstheim and the only one was Severin Manor and to do that I had to do a series of quests, one of which, The Final Descent involved the nearby mine and the dude with the pickaxe himself so I went in and spoke to the old geezer and his Dunmer wife then went down the mine where I saw this mysterious new ore called Stalhrim which is apparently some kind of enchanted ice the ancient Nords used to seal their dead for protection and it can only be mined with you guessed it, an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe. I then found Bloodskal Barrow and the Bloodskal Blade which I hoped to be a new weapon and armor type that you could create but it was apparently unique, it emitted some sort of energy blast when power attacking and you need to use this to open the door which took me a few tries but I got in and took on a dragon priest Zahkriisos and got the first Dragon Aspect shout and I wish I actually got the rest and used it as the effect would be very impressive indeed.

The entrance to Bloodskal Barrow and the Bloodskal Blade
This first quest is also where I found the first Black Book and had my first trip to Apocrypha, the plane of Oblivion belonging to the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora who says hello when you first arrive, and man is it funky, fighting goddamn Seekers and Lurkers and those freakin annoying tentacles coming out of the water not to mention the darkness that apparently hurts you. So all in all it’s a pretty dangerous place but necessary in order to become powerful enough to defeat Miraak through getting more shouts etc, at the end of these Black Book “Trials” you come across this freakishly large book, the first being The Winds of Change which gives you three options of hidden knowledge and boy Companion's Insight was a no-brainer, my brother had told me about it before and man not having to look out for your companion when attacking man that was good. After doing this you get warped back to Solstheim being in some kind of trance before. So I emerged from the barrow about halfway up the coast and sprinted back to Raven Rock where I talked to Crescious and got my Ancient Nordic Pickaxe and ran back down to mine the Stahlrim in the hopes of using it for weapons and armor.

Hermaus Mora says hello when you first come to Apocrypha

I fight some seekers then get stuck on a puzzle

After that I had to find somewhere to stash my treasure as I couldn’t carry it around till I had gotten the house so after some research I chose this small island off the coast of Raven Rock which apparently had a chest that your stored items didn’t disappear from. So I drank a water walking potion (which were very useful) and cleared out the Ash Hoppers that were there who sort of fall apart when dead but I still had the corpses of two Reavers who are Dunmer bandits you find around Solstheim. When returning to Skyrim I had forgotten about the /disable command and tried to chuck them off of the side and into the water in the hope that they’d float away which they didn’t until I swam them out into the ocean. But anyway I offloaded my things into the chest and continued on with March of the Dead where I had to kill a bunch of Ash Spawn and defeat their undead leader at Fort Frostmoth. On the way I met some this weird guy and helped fund his excavation of a Nordic Tomb but never got it finished unfortunately. I was finally able to do Served Cold and investigate the murder plot, and after storming Ashfallow Citadel, with Lydia and I clumsily getting hit by a bunch of traps I finally got rid of the killers and was rewarded Severin manor which I quickly moved into. It’s a very roomy underground house which is certainly much better than a damn island, I found once I had cleared the mine everyone was much friendlier towards me and congratulated me on a job well done.

I seriously did not remember you could just /disable

After that it was time get on with the main quest and I started with The Temple of Miraak where I saw more enthralled people working on the Temple and met Frea who was trying unsuccessfully to free her Skaal brethren, we then headed down into the temple and kicked ass defeating whatever was in the way and we eventually find another black book Waking Dreams where you come face to face with Miraak himself who remarks about you killing Alduin and how he’s so powerful and he will return and Solstheim will be his blah blah blah. I then go with Frea to the Skaal Village. And meet her father Storn Crag-Strider who tells me to go to Saering's Watch and learn the Bend Will shout in order to purge the All-Maker Stones and free the people there from the influence, I did this with the wind stone then a goddamn Lurker appeared and did all those people who should be grateful that I saved them come to help noo they did not, Lydia and I had to take them on ourselves. I read that when you know all three words to this shout you can use to tame and ride dragons which I did for a short time in the story, (more on that later) while exploring the world and Cleansing the Stones I found a few interesting creatures such as the jellyfish-like Netchs and the goblin-like Reiklings who I was either massacring in large numbers or strangely doing quests for them. As you find a fairly intelligent English speaking Reikling who have taken over a mead hall, I didn’t end up finishing their quest to find their Bristleback but may go back there again and help the survivors retake Thirsk mead hall as the quest looks fairly interesting.

I meet Frea at the Temple of Miraak then get attacked as usual.

I traveled around the island for a while doing various quests and investigating caverns and barrows and sometimes finding more black books and also fighting dragons with Miraak appearing and stealing their souls so I couldn’t get them, what a prick. I also got a bit sick of using Mac and Shield at this point and fashioned myself a Dragonbone Warhammer which is basically a dragon femur fashioned into a weapon and looks pretty funny when you’re bashing people with it. I wanted this cause I hadn’t used a warhammer for a while as I previously used the Dragonbone Greatsword and had used a Daedric Warhammer on my first character. One interesting and annoying thing that happened while the stones were not yet cleansed is that when you went to sleep you often woke up to find yourself working on one of the moments and have to run back to where you need to go. Though this wasn’t too hard if my horse was around, I had chosen a mottled grey horse this time as I though it fitted well with the landscape.

My current horse, you can see Tel Mithryn and the mushroom forest in the background
Anyway back onto the story I then had to travel to Tel Mithryn which is a giant mushroom and has lots of other giant mushrooms around it where I also met some hunter and joined a hunt for Netchs. I met Neloth in his giant mushroom house and travelled to Nchardak to find another black book and more knowledge to help defeat Miraak, after the three of us took down the brigands living there we found the Dwemer ruin was quite technical with rising water and the use of dwemer cubes to control them and the doors, I ended up getting the black book and also the Kagrumez Resonance Gem which I used in another ruin Kagrumez which is interestingly some kind of Dwemer ‘Hall of Trials’ though you need more stones to unlock its full potential.

I sneak up on some unlucky souls in Kagrumez
 After getting the black book The Path of Knowledge I immediately read it and after a lengthy sequence in Apocrypha I came face to face (or face to whatever the hell he has eyes and tentacles?) with Hermaeus Mora himself who tells me if I give him the secrets of the Skaal then he will grant me the last ‘Bend Will’ shout to be able to defeat Miraak. 

I confide with Hermaeus Mora once again and also check out my Dragonbone Warhammer oh yeh

You then take the book to Storn Crag-Strider at the Skaal village and he reads the book and then ‘Herma-Mora’ as they call him comes out again and takes the secrets from Storn, killing him. So then Freya is sad obviously and you know what you gotta do, so you pick up the Waking Dreams book and read it for the final quest and showdown with Miraak. This leads to quite possibly the longest section in Apocrypha with 6 “chapters” to complete but eventually you get to tame a dragon and try out some dragon combat which to be honest isn’t that good, you can’t control where the dragon goes you can only order them to attack enemies or land and if you don’t do anything they just fly around.

"So many books!, ooh I bet that tower is where Miraak is"
But soon enough I was at the highest point and faced Miraak, and after some chit-chat we got to it, it seems you have to defeat him three times as when he gets low health he becomes ethereal and summons a dragon and steals it’s soul restoring his health completely, he wasn’t too hard to defeat though, I didn’t have Lydia to help so I used Scroll of Conjure Storm Atronach and the Sanguine Rose to distract him while I ran in and beat the crap out of him with my warhammer. Once he gets low on health for a 4th time Hamaeus Mora appears and he’s pissed that Miraak has defied him and he raises him up and spears him with a tentacle and says that you are his new Dragonborn champion. Then you get some reward allowing you to respect skill trees but I didn’t bother as I didn’t need it.

I ride a dragon to the final showdown with Miraak, Beware Spoilers!

 After that I had basically finished the main story but there was unfinished business to attend to, most notably to find A New Source of Stalhrim so I picked up the quest and rescued the Skaal blacksmith who gave me the knowledge of how to make Stalhrim and a map of a  place where it can be found. I’d already found a few pieces of Stalhrim but this place had about 20 bodies all encased in Stalhrim it was like a smorgasbord but when I tried to go back to Raven Rock I ran into a big, big problem as the game would not load it just kept loading and loading.

Soo much Stalhrim, and it's all mine!
As I mentioned before in Skyrim bodies don’t often disappear quickly and although you can /disable to disable them it’d hard if there’s a heap of them around as some animals like fish and bugs tend to have a glitch where they keep spawning. I didn’t mention this before but one time when I was at Raven rock I experienced some slowdown in FPS and notice there was a heap of those Torchbugs and River Betty spawned around the one place, I tried shouting and various spells in order to kill them but eventually couldn’t be bothered catching them all as I had done before in my house in Falkreath. So had been away from Raven Rock for a long time and my guess was they had spawned to such a degree that the game locked up when trying to load the town, I confirmed this by spawning somewhere nearby and trying to walk there, I got within about 300 metres and then the game loses FPS and locks up and I have to close it with the task manager. I’ve tried a number of things to fix this including the /kill 100 console command but it didn’t make a difference cause their bodies would still be there, I need a way to remove them from the game entirely similar to /disable except I can’t get anywhere near them, I wonder actually if /disable disables all of them or that particular one. Either way I had finished the main story, but most of my things were now stuck in Raven Rock with no way of getting them back currently unless I can some way warp directly into my house which may be a plan.

This is about as close as I can get to Raven Rock now
So that was as far as I have gone, I may actually finish off some quests anyway that don’t require me to go to Raven Rock hopefully as I have taken up temporary residence at the Abandoned Lodge near Raven Rock which is thankfully out of range of the bug, I can get pretty close before it buggers up though. I may have enough Stahlrim to make some armor but may just add some more as I’m going to need a hell of a lot to replace all the weapons and armor for Lydia and I. But I actually don’t think I’ll bother as the weapons do less damage then my Dragonebone ones and the Stalhrim armor is the same armor rating and only slightly lighter then Dragonplate armor. In any case I’ve done the whole story and have finally finished all of the Skyrim expansions, was a pretty good way to finish it off as well. I have only heard rumours of the new elder scrolls so far which is exciting to hear but frankly I can wait, who knows I might even delve into Skyrim yet again….


A full Stalhrim armor set with greatsword.
It’s a sad situation where I’d rather ride a horse then a dragon.

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