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6:21 PM on 01.09.2012

The non-bug issues of Skyrim

Mild Skyrim spoilers are contained within, as it is hard to point out faults without mentioning some things which would constitute a spoiler.


I'll start this by saying that I have enjoyed Skyrim. In many aspects, it is far superior to Oblivion. The graphics, some of the smaller quests, the radiant system, the dialog system, and even the leveling system all feel superior to Oblivion. Sure, they have their issues, but they are vastly improved. However, the story writing is a lot weaker in Skyrim.

The beginning of the main quest is fantastic. I could almost put the beginning of Skyrim on par with the ending of Oblivion (except naturally not as climactic). However, the end of the main story arc was a complete let down. You knew when you beat Oblivion's main story. There was no mistaking the ending or the accolades and rewards after. I won't say that it was a complete failure in Skyrim, but it really did feel anticlimactic. Running through a dungeon of Falmer is a harder fight. There's not really enough graphical awesomeness to offset the difficulty of the fight. I mean, couldn't they come up with a way to justify him suddenly being three to five times larger with more variation of attack or something?

Then there's the Thieves Guild quest line. I understand that many of our favorite things are declining as the empire falls apart. The Dark Brotherhood was definitely in a bad state. What do we have to do? Restore it to its former glory! The bandits guild tries to make the same claim, but there are a lot of problems with it. First, while the small jobs are all about being exceptional thieves, many of the other client jobs (guild quest line and some special requests) are completely thuggish. The removal of the "don't kill anyone" means that you can really just run rampant and wipe everyone out. The penalties for doing so are pretty much non-existent. The guild quest line doesn't even solve the real problems. Sure, you have this nice story of why things are bad, but the true problem is that the guild is under the thumb of Mavin.

DB quest-line, was almost perfect. All that I'd really have wanted changed is a better way to enter the "Destroy the DB" quest-line. The method used is only good if you are role-playing a competitor. Of course, there were minor bugs that would be nice to fix, such as losing bonuses when you use frenzy as your attack method, but that's actually an issue with the spell itself. It's not limited to DB quests.

So, if the story-lines were corrected, Skyrim would be perfect! Not really. There's a nice list of things that could change, outside of fixing the thousands of bugs. These are immersion and practical changes.

If a character is in dialog or a screen grab, the game should either hold off hostiles or immediately release the character with the dialog person raising an alarm. It is only funny the first few times you are one hit killed while in a dialog. I should be pointed out that letting the AI continue to run while in dialog mode is wonderful. I wouldn't change it for the world. The lack of reaction and sometimes the inability to defend yourself when the Radiant AI suddenly pops someone up to kill you is annoying after awhile. Yes, I'm probably nitpicking on this one. It's happened only a handful of times to me in over 500 hours of game-play.

What is truly important, is the dialogs themselves. If the character is listening to quest dialog, there shouldn't be random people that are walking by and chatting with the character. The same goes with the random one liners. In fact, the best fix for this is to always restrict it to one person talking to us at a time. I don't mind NPCs talking to each other, but when I'm listening to a speech to rouse the troupes and go kill a dragon, which takes place in a busy roadway, I don't want to have it thrown in the background by every NPC that passes me in the road. The NPC should be smart enough to know that I'm busy and keep moving along. This happens a lot when in free-moving quest dialog sequences.

Reputation. TES used to have reputation, and then it got tossed. However, it does seem pretty strange that I can be thane of a town, caught hundreds of times trying to pickpocket everyone and their dog, and there are no consequences outside of paying small fines or sleeping in jail.

You are now the supreme being, master of all. It would require thought, but it is not impossible to have faction quests end differently depending on if you are already the leader of another faction. The bonus here is that guild leader equipment can be more overpowered for the factions, as the player may only be able to be leader of one, perhaps two factions. There should also be lesser equipment for the players services as a higher ranking member without them actually becoming guild leader. This leaves the player making choices as to what their character is going to be. In many cases, it's strictly a matter of not having every faction suddenly say, "We took a vote and think you should be the new guild leader." It would be cooler if in some cases the original guild leader actually survives, though. The death rate of guild leaders is quite sad.

Pacing. There are very few points in the main quest line where a role playing character can actually break from the quest. Everything is "now now now now" and "hurry hurry hurry hurry". There is a courier system. It should be used. We are a level 1 character with crappy skills in the beginning. It shouldn't be overboard to just extend the length of the main quest, but it wouldn't be bad to place a couple of pause points in the main quest line. "I'm researching this. I'll send a courier to you when we've made headway." Tada! The other advantage of this is to appease the "I'll never leave level 1" group. They use the fact that they can stay level 1 not as a challenge but to show how flawed the game mechanics are. "It sucked! I beat the game at level 1!" For the record, the final fight at level 1 is easier than killing Falmer in a dungeon at level 1. I about died laughing, but it was a disappointment.

Isolation. There are multiple ways to start some quests. However, some of them intersect with the mages guild. In such cases, you MUST join the mages guild to complete the quests, even though you are not a mage. It was very annoying to hold that ward spell down without magicka or perks. It was just as annoying to start a sequence of events that are "now now now now" and I had to just tell the guy (literally, as my character had no way to) to take a flying leap, I wasn't going to do what he said, I just needed into the dungeon. This was compounded by the fact that some dragon walls are in these special areas. You must kill an innocent (by some definitions) to get to a dragonwall. You must join the mages guild to get to another dragon wall. The most annoying thing was taking the trip to the dungeon (pointed out by a journal in another dungeon, and we'll presume it had a map, since there's no other way to know where the dungeon is) and finding a requires key door and no clue how to get in (unless you've been through the mages guild quest-line before).

Variety. Some may say there needs to be more variety in voice acting and stories so that names stand out more. In some aspects, this is probably true. I will listen to the wise words of my young son, as well. There should have been a lot more wildlife variety with different names and textures to spruce up the wilderness. Of course, one could argue that most critters have been eaten by the wolves and the wolves attack humans out of starvation. However, more random critters would be more enjoyable. I completely look forward to this in future player mods.

Divorce. I heard the quest is in the game but not activated. Sometimes your wife just gets lame, and killing her isn't really a polite way to move on to a new woman. Not that killing your wife lets you move on. Makes me afraid to take a follower out. She might die and then I'm stuck being single.

Crime handling. It has improved in Skyrim, but there are some things that could still be improved. If you kill a chicken, you should have the ability to pay the owner of the chicken some money. I like having a lot of towns that don't have guards. The problem is, if there's not a guard to arrest you, the citizens will attempt to kill you. The punishment is honestly a little harsh. I'm sure letting citizens arrest you, fine you, or some other option wouldn't be inappropriate.

Rather than deal with a different post, I will probably update this one at a later time as I remember other various things which I think could be improved. Among other things, this blog entry is a reminder to me of things I will need to look into with the Creation Kit.   read

12:44 PM on 01.07.2012

Journal of Sam Locke v4

WARNING: SKYRIM SPOILERS (intro to thane, some whiterun quests)

Author's Note: I've gone 3 days without loading Skyrim. It's a new record. Some of my friends complained that my last entry was too short, so I hope this one makes up for it. One thing I do need to remember while playing is to take more pictures!


As I wake, I realize that I have too much stuff with me to go see the Jarl. I visit several shops around town and offload armor, weapons, and even dragon bones. Finally free of all the clutter, I head up to Dragonreach to see the Jarl. He rewards me for my dragon slaying efforts with the Axe of Whiterun; something that will definitely be sold as soon as I can get out of here. He also makes me Thane of Whiterun, a mostly honorary title. He reminds me that I can also buy a house in Whiterun.

The Jarl asks me about the event. I tried to keep it simple, but he was probing for something. I finally mentioned the weird energy I absorbed. That seemed to be what he wanted to hear. He's now convinced that I'm this dragonborn guy and that the Greybeards are calling for me. Apparently they are some reclusive guys up at the top of the nearby mountain. The Jarl mentioned something about a shout or summons yesterday, but I honestly hadn't heard it. I must have been more tired than I thought.

I thank the Jarl and part ways, stopping briefly to talk to his steward. The house that is for sale in town is 5,000 gold. I only have around 2,600. I guess I will have to earn some more money; starting with the sale of this silly axe. I head back into Whiterun proper, sell the axe for some measley amount of gold and start talking to the various residents.

A kind shop keeper named Carlotta in the market says that she's been having problems with Mikael, a bard that stays at the Bannered Mare. He just won't leave her alone. I tell her I'll happily take care of it. It appears he's as good with the women as he is as picking good songs to play. I head over to the inn and strike up a conversation with Mikael. I ask him to leave Carlotta alone. I try to persuade him, but he just thinks that I'm jealous. What a fool. I really should knock his ears in, but that wouldn't be very pacifist of me. Instead I appeal to his sense of greed. I mean, all artists are starving artists. Right? It ends up costing me 85 gold, but he promised to leave Carlotta alone.

As I was turning to go, I noticed a Redguard woman cooking in the back room. It was late yesterday, but on my way into town some men were arguing with the guards. They were pretty cool. They had curved swords. Curved. Swords. One of the men said he was Al'akir and they were looking for a Redguard woman. He wouldn't really tell me much about it though. Just said that if I saw her, I should find him in Rorikstead.

I'm not really sure why the man wanted her, but I should probably warn her that they are looking for her. I approach to mention it, and she says we should talk privately. No sooner do we get upstairs, she's pulling a knife out and wanting to gut me! I calmly reassure her that I am not there to kill her. She calms down and we talk for a bit. She begs me to kill the leader of the guys who want her. However, what caught my attention was that she said they were taking her back for her execution. That sounds like she's committed a crime, not that they are blood thirsty murders. I part ways with her, deciding to ponder the situation for awhile.

I return to Carlotta and let her know the good news. She's overjoyed and gives me 250 gold for helping! While not as much profit as if I'd boxed his ears in, I'm happy with how things turned out. It suddenly dawns on me that I still have the golden claw, so I head out the gate and have a nice jog down to Riverwood. I arrive in early evening and return the claw to the nice trader. He's overjoyed at its return and gives me some gold and some cheese.

Delphine appears to be back at the inn, so I rent a room and pass the night pondering the situation with the Redguards. I finally decided to head to Rorikstead. My gut just tells me that she can't be trusted and not because she tried to put a knife through it. Besides, I may be a liar and a thief, but I'm not an assassin. I just don't think I could kill this man who may just be doing his job.

It was a long walk to Roristead the next day. I met a variety of people on the road; imperial soldiers, Thalmor, farmers, and people who didn't like me. One farmer I had to save from a pack of wolves. I was pleased with my calm spell, casting it multiple times until the farmer finally was far enough away from the wolves. It was probably a waste, though, for as I was rounding the bend in the road I looked back and saw a group of soldiers killing the wolves. I met a Nord and a Khajit who both seemed to have anger issues and attacked me. I left both of them with confused minds, perfectly content to let me pass unharmed.

Upon arriving in Rorikstead, I found the inn and talked with the Al'akir. They said they weren't welcome in Whiterun and that I'd need to get the woman to go to the stables. They'd meet us there. They also said I'd be paid for my assistance. Payment was something I could understand. I spent the night there and headed out the next day.

On the way back, I passed more wolves, some elk, and some deer. I calmed and petted all of them, not being hungry and seeing no reason to kill these pleasant animals. It occurred to me that use of illusion magic would make hunting very unsporting. It gave me a new respect for hunters who kill their prey through hard work and not the use of magic.

I also found and assassin on the road. He was a pleasant guy, really, once his mind was bent to the effects of my calming spell. I wasn't sure if it would help, but I did pick his pockets and took the note telling him to kill me. I tried to take an amethyst he had on him as well, but he caught me doing so and while he was under the effects of my spell, he still kept an eye on me from that point on.

I just don't understand. Who could want me dead this bad? I don't know who Astrid is, but I have heard of the Black Sacrament. It is a very barbaric ritual, and then paying an assassin money to kill me is like icing on the cake. Sure, I may be a petty thief, but I've never stolen anything of great value! I don't even own a house! I have tried not to involve myself in the war and I don't run around killing people. It just doesn't make any sense, yet here is the note clear as day asking for a premature end to my life. I'll have to be careful and keep my guard up.

I also met a nice mage named Faldrus. He was on the way to Azura's shrine. He pointed it out to me on my map. He had a cool magical staff which I tried to steal. He caught me and taught me a valuable lesson, almost killing me with lightening before I could manage to calm him with a spell. I decided that perhaps I should be more careful who's pockets I picked in the future. Not everyone needs to hire an assassin to kill me.

Upon arriving in Whiterun, I met with Saadi, the Redguard woman. I lied to her with partial truths, telling her that she wasn't safe in town and that I had a horse ready for her at the stables. She was irritated at having to be on the run again, but she followed me to the stables. The leader of the group was there waiting for us.

As it turns out, my hunch was right. While I don't agree with war, I definitely think she shouldn't have betrayed her people and she'd have to face the consequences. The man cast some type of paralyzing or binding spell on her and told me she'd be taken back to face judgement. He paid me 500 gold for my service, and while his back was turned I stole another 100 gold from his pockets.

It was late, so I headed into Whiterun again, lightened a few citizens of their gold and broke into Belethor's place while he was out. he only had 64 gold in his lockbox, but gold is gold. For now I've stuck with gold when it was enough to be worth risking my neck, as I don't know any fences in Skyrim to sell anything else to. As it got later I got a room at the Bannered Mare again and considered my next move.

I still need to know more illusion magic. Tomorrow I think I'll head to Winterhold and visit the mage's college. Surely someone there can tell me more about illusions and if there are better spells than my calming spell.

Kill count:
2 wolves
3 skeevers
1 Draugr Overlord
1 Dragon   read

12:24 PM on 01.05.2012

Journal of Sam Locke v3

WARNING: SKYRIM SPOILERS (Intro to being thane).

Author's note: Honestly, these notes are mostly to fill up the initial description on the community page. Seems kinda silly to mention spoilers and then immediately start into what might be a spoiler. So far I have put over 13 hours on this character. He's considerably ahead of the story, though I'm keeping notes to reference as I write. There are some things he must do that tend to be repetitive and while they take hours of game play and many days of in-game time, they will probably fit within a paragraph or two.


The next morning, I head to Whiterun. I was in such a hurry, I forgot to return the Golden Claw to it's rightful owner. Arriving at Dragonreach, I find the lady Delphine talking with Farengar. It turns out that she's the one who knew where to find the dragonstone. She's definitely an interesting inn keeper. As I hand the dragonstone over and they begin their studies, a scout arrives to report that a dragon has been sighted outside of town.

We rush to the Jarl who requested that we head to the western tower and kill this dragon. I follow his housecarl out to meet the soldiers and then we head to investigate the tower. Upon arriving, there is no sign of the dragon. However, a soldier runs towards us to warn that the dragon hasn't gone far. We scan the horizon to see the monstrous beast flying towards us from the mountains. While it looks smaller than the dragon from Helgen, it's still a frightening sight to behold.

I look around the ruins of the western watchtower and I know that I won't have a choice but to kill this magnificent beast. I summon a familiar and ready a bow as it approaches ever closer. It stays to the air, spraying fire everywhere. Soldiers fall to their death, their corpses blacked with fire. My familiar vanishes, unable to reach the dragon as it hovers above. I try to stay to the side, avoiding the deadly flames as I loose arrow after arrow at it. With a huge downward push of it's wings, dust goes everywhere and the dragon starts to spiral overhead. It then lunges for the ground, hitting with such force to make the earth shake. As I regain my balance and clear my eyes of the dust, I see it grab a poor soldier in its mouth and fling him into the air. I summon another familiar and start streaming arrows at the dragon as fast as I can. My ability to use a bow is limited, but I dare not get too close to it. After what seems like an eternity, we finally kill it.

I approach the dragon, admiring its beauty and sheer size. Suddenly, a strange light swarms around the dragon, it's body cracking and fragmenting. As it deteriorates, leaving nothing but a skeleton, the energy slams into me. I'm stunned for a second. I feel different, but I'm not sure what it is. Then I realize that I suddenly understand the meaning of the word Fus. I lift my head and shout the word, watching the wind around me react, pushing everything in from of me away slightly. To say it was interesting would be a great understatement.

A soldier approaches and claims that I'm a dragonborn. I'm not completely sure what that is, but he definitely is sure of it. An argument starts up between the soldier and the housecarl. I lose interest and take note of my surroundings. There's a handful of men lying death around the field of battle. Some are charred corpses, while others seem to have escaped most of the fire. I grieve for their loss, yet it also reaffirms my belief that killing the dragon was the right thing to do. I strip the corpses of their armor and weapons and slowly begin my walk back to Whiterun. It takes a long time as I am overloaded with gear. I arrive late, and so I'll have to see the smith in the morning concerning all the armor.

As I arrive at the Bannered Mare, a bard is singing. At first I am delighted. It's been a long day and some good music would help lighten the mood. Then I hear what the minstrel is singing about and feel sick to my stomach. It's some horrid song that glorifies the war and the future defeat of Ulfric. As if there hasn't been enough death, he seems to desire more. I close my eyes and drown out the sounds of the inn, sleeping until morning.

Kill count:
2 wolves
3 skeevers
1 Draugr Overlord
1 Dragon   read

11:10 AM on 01.02.2012

Journal of Sam Locke v2


Author's Note: I did reload once this day. It wasn't my character's fault he died. I had a brain fart and kept running him into walls, under ramps, and generally had the worst mouse control ever. I mean, how hard is it to run across room, up a ramp, turn left, cross a bridge, and run like a mad man? Well, apparently I got turned around (being in first person view), ran into a wall next to ramp, fell off ramp, ran under ramp, back into another wall. Yeah. It was bad. Drank some coffee, reloaded and ran through perfectly the second time.


Woke up early and followed the soldiers to Riverwood. It was a good jog and left me somewhat winded. We split up at the fork in the road and I turned in the direction of the barrow. I also decided now would be a good time to start learning how to sneak and using the muffle spell. The first thing I learned was that these spells use a LOT of magicka at my current proficiency. Soon after, I discovered my sneaking isn't so hot either.

Part way up the path I spot a tower. It's set back a ways from where I'm at. I'd like to say I sneaked by the sentries posted there, but I know one of them spotted me. Luckily, he must have decided I was too far away to bother with. However, it was a good indicator that I might be entering hostile territory. Then next bend in the path opened up to a grand scene of the barrow. The snow was blowing pretty heavy, so it was very hard to see, but hopefully it also made it harder to see me.

I'd love to claim that I crept past all the sentries, but I only made it past the two outer ones. The two guarding the door spotted me before I could spot them. I made a mad dash, slipping through the door and then dashing into the darkest corner of the room I found myself in. I looked back, but apparently they hadn't followed me through the door. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that they had friends inside. Friends that I spotted as my pulse calmed down and I started to look around.

I sneak forward to get a closer look at the two people talking. Unfortunately, I apparently suck at sneaking. They spot me and start to run my way. I cast calm on one of them. It took almost all my magicka to do. Some may call it luck, but I prefer to call it strategy, as I'd calmed the great big brute of a warrior. His partner was an archer and she hung back trying to fling arrows at me. I dodged behind cover briefly, but realized I only had a limited time before her buddy would recover and cleave my skull in.

I sprinted the short distance to the hallway on the other side, zigzagging to avoid any arrows that might be coming my way. I also chugged a few magicka potions, as the excitement of battle has made it hard for me to regain magicka. I turn around and cast calm, and I missed! Running around a turn, I drink a few more magicka potions, bringing me to my last potion. I try and find cover, but take a few cuts from flying arrows. Finally ready, I cast calm at her again. Not to be redundant, but my aiming apparently really sucks, and I miss her by inches. Drinking my last magicka potion, I squeeze against the rough walls of the tunnel, trying to get any cover that I might. The archer yells taunts at me, but she does keep her distance, affording me a brief break while my magicka regenerates. I'm pissed at this point for my own lack of skills, so I do want any sane person would do. My magicka finally gets close to full again, I precast the calm spell, step from cover, and charge to within meters of the archer, blasting her in the face with the spell. Point blank casting. Never fails!

While she calmly walks back up the trail to visit with her partner, I crouch down and start looking around.

This would be a good point to mention that even when running for my life, if I pass something interesting, I probably grab it on the run. Of course, it's sad that I can't stop and pick the lock on a chest while being chased by bandits, but I'll always grab a big potion sitting there screaming, "Take me!" That being said, I'm sure that there are all kinds of cool treasures in the place which I won't be taking home with me. Not only would it be boring to tell you every time I grab a potion or pickup a sword, I'm paranoid and don't need thieves chasing me looking for my hard earned riches (that I don't have!).

So I start sneaking deeper in, but as usual, I'm apparently not very stealthy and I hear some guy calling out for help. I also note the spider webs everywhere. I hate spiders! I pull out a dagger that I'd kept from one of those soldiers yesterday and start cutting through some webs. It's a big room with corpses wrapped in webs, and webs everywhere. It looks like there's a guy trapped in a web on the far side of the room. I start walking towards him when I see a shadow on the floor. Looking up is the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life! I briefly considered killing the horrid beast, but something tells me that my silly little flame spell won't even make it itch. Out of desperation I do what any sane person would do. I casted calm, prayed it work, sprinted like mad to the guy and started slashing at the webs.

Apparently the calm worked, as I didn't have fangs in my back, but I'd accidentally nicked this guy and he gets pissed at me. I think it's okay, as he yells something about treasure and runs away through a path behind him, but as I follow him into the next room, he turns around and attacks me. Luckily, I have regained enough magicka, I cast calm on him. He turns back around and continues a mad sprint out of the room into corridors on the other side.

Well, being a sane person, I don't dash madly after the guy. I pick my way slowly, looking for any type of danger. I head down the tunnel and come out into a room full of dead people; including the guy I'd just saved. He's laying dead on the floor, clutching something that looks like a golden claw. I look closely and I spot the pressure plate which triggers a swinging gate of spikes. Ouch! I also spot a chest of loot, which a few lockpicks later gives me, nothing worth stealing from me.

As I'm collecting the golden claw from this crazed lunatic's corpse, I hear a strange sound. I look up, and there's this dead corpse walking straight at me. Terrifying as it is to see walking dead, the weapon he was carrying looked even more frightening. I panicked and cast calm at him. Of course, it does nothing. I'd read that in the book, that only extremely good illusionists can calm the undead or automatons. I'd not thought much about it, as I hadn't expected to see such things.

This left me with a choice. I briefly considered standing and fighting, but I noticed he wasn't alone anymore. However, these undead (which I've since learned the Nords call Draugr) seem to move relatively slowly. This made my choice easy. Run! I sprinted past undead, many just getting out of coffins. Periodically, I'd stop and pause, trying to hide in shadows and listen for any that might follow me. Luckily, they don't seem to wonder too far from their crypts. The rest of the path was somewhat of a blur, of running, hiding, and running some more.

I finally reach a strange door. The center piece looks like the golden claw I have would fit it, but it has three circular pieces with animals on it. After some inspection, I figure out what to do and open the door. It must not have been opened for some time, as dust went everywhere. I pass through into a huge cavern, accidentally disturbing some bats that fly from the roof.

Looking around, I see a platform with some crypts and a strange wall with weird lettering on it. Closer inspection of the wall shows some glowing letters. Against my better judgement I get closer and some type of energy floods from the letters into me. I seem to know a word, fus, but I'm not really sure what it means. I say it a few times, but nothing happens. I'll have to reflect on it more later.

There's a crashing noise behind me. I turn around to see a really big Draugr. In addition, he puffs up his chest and shouts something and I slightly stumble a bit as if hit by something. I consider leaving him be and running, but then I see the dragonstone. It looks like I don't have a choice. I'm going to have to put this undead thing back to sleep. I cast summon familiar and watch my spectral wolf die almost immediately. I dodge some swings of his axe, and watch how he moves. He seems slow and burdened by his gear.

For what seems like an eternity, we played cat and mouse. I didn't have any magicka potions, so I had to weave in and out of the coffins and do anything to keep stuff between that ugly axe and my skull. As I could, I'd send a spurt of fire out to engulf the draugr. It was a long battle, but eventually he fell dead. I was grateful for his heavy gear. If he'd kept pace with me, I'd have surely died. I collected the dragonstone and looked for a way out; preferably not the way I'd just come.

I found a tunnel in back which took me back out into the wilderness of Skyrim. I was a little high up on a mountain, but not too far. Slowly dropping down from one ledge to another, I made it down to a river. Looking across I saw three standing stones. I couldn't believe my luck. It might be the road to Riverwood. It was dark out now, so I swam across to where I saw a fire. The hunter there was polite but didn't have an extra bed. I walked up to the road and headed into Riverwood.

The bar keep said I could lay my head on a table, but Delphine the inn keeper was out, so I couldn't have a room. I needed some real sleep, so while I hated to impose, I asked Alvor if I could use one of his beds. He was agreeable and I slept long and hard.

Kill count:
2 wolves
3 skeevers
1 Draugr Overlord   read

3:50 PM on 01.01.2012

Journal of Sam Locke v1

Author's Note: WARNING: SKYRIM SPOILERS (intro through thane, some smaller quests). I did some research and started this out in a book format and quickly realized that it isn't very blog friendly and requires a lot more work than I want to do right now. After all, I want to play skyrim, and I wanted pictures! :)


My name is Sam Locke. I am a Breton and have lived in Cyrodiil all my life. My parents had migrated there in search of adventure, fortune, and nobility. While they made a decent income, they never reached the level of nobility and died while searching for treasure in an abandoned house. Their bodies were never found. Being educated in the center of the empire and hearing tales of the political intrigues and wars fought in my parent's homeland of High Rock, has led me to pacifism. Don't get me wrong. I don't believe in not using violence, but if at all possible, I prefer to avoid it, and I absolutely abhor war. Which is why I consider my current situation extremely distasteful.

I had decided to leave Cyrodiil and see the rest of Tamriel; Skyrim might be a good place to start, working my way slowly towards High Rock. Of all the passes to take, I decided to try Pale Pass through the Jerall Mountains. Perhaps I'd find some hidden ruins to explore or discover some lost treasure. I was flat broke and all I had left was a nice suit of elven armor my father had left me and a couple of spells I'd been taught. Unfortunately, all I found was snow, steep cliffs, and more snow.

Just as I was crossing the border into Skyrim, someone clubbed me from behind. When I awoke, my armor was gone, my hands were bound, and I was sitting in a cart with three other bound people. It was apparently my own bad luck. One of the other prisoners informed me that it was an Imperial ambush intent on capturing Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Windhelm. Apparently, Skyrim is in the middle of a civil war, and I just had to stumble right into the middle of it. Well, I had done nothing wrong, so I was sure they'd let me go once we got to where were going. Apparently, I was naive.

We reached a town named Helgen, where despite my name not being on the list to be executed, I was grouped with the rest. This is one reason I despise war. The participants are often so full of rage and disgust, they don't care about guilt or innocence. I was guilty for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, I wouldn't be writing this, were my head to have been cleaved from my body, but it was definitely close. One soldier had already been to the chopping block, and I was next in line. The axe was raised and ready to swing when I was saved; by a dragon!

I started running through town, trying to escape the situation. Getting eaten by a dragon definitely didn't sound any better than having my head chopped off by an axe. I ran into one of the Imperial soldiers, saving a child from the dragon. He seemed honest and more concerned with everyone's safety then trying to recapture prisoners. In fact, he shouted to me to keep close to him if I wanted to live. That sounded like a good idea to me! Turns out that his name was Hadvar.

The run through town was hectic. I don't think I've ever been more scared in my life or felt more exhilarated. At one point, we were even huddled against a wall with the dragon's wings not but a few meters from us!

We finally made it to a tower. Ralof, one of the other prisoners called out to me to follow him, but I wanted nothing to do with the rebels. Almost losing my head once was one too many times. I continued on with Hadvar into the tower. I will be brief on the escape. We ran into more rebels on the way out. It was a sad waste of life. Hadvar tried to talk his way out, but blood was running hot and he had to engage the stormcloaks. I hid in a corner and waited for the battle to be over one way or the other. I refuse to get involved in a needless war that will just cost lives. I was slightly happy that Hadvar won, though. I'd had to borrow some armor from a chest and was dressed like an Imperial soldier. I don't think the stormcloaks would have taken kindly to me and I didn't see Ralof among them.

Ralof didn't seem to mind, and I was going to need some money, so I stripped the fallen soldiers of their goods. I've since found out that the Nords believe their spirits depart for Sovngarde, and recycling armor and goods in this harsh land is a perfectly acceptable practice. We traveled for some time and Hadvar had several more skirmishes before we finally escaped through a cave which had a road just outside it. I'm guessing they plan for emergency exits in Skyrim. One good thing to note was that I did manage to find some mage clothing to wear, getting me out of that horrid soldier uniform.

We followed the road, where Hadvar pointed out several sights to me, including some standing stones, which I seemed to feel something strange when I touched the Mage stone, and Bleak Falls Barrow, an ominous looking ruin atop a mountain. We arrived at the town of Riverwood with only one incident, where I helped kill two wolves that attacked Hadvar. I wish we could have scared them off, but they were quite persistent. We talked to his uncle in Riverwood who offered me some goods and a place to stay. He also requested that I run to Whiterun and inform the Jarl of the dragon and request aid for Riverwood who normally didn't have guards or soldiers.

I quickly said my goodbyes, ran across the street to the Riverwood Trader. Upon arriving I found out that some thieves had taken a golden claw from the shop recently. I offered to help retrieve it when I had time and sold all the armor I'd picked up during my escape. The shop owner's sister kindly showed me the road which would lead to Bleak Falls Barrow where they believed the bandits had gone. I thanked her and then turn the other way to head towards Whiterun. I jogged the entire way, encountering only one wolf who luckily was preoccupied with some deer and I was well past it before it might consider me a better dinner.

Nearing Whiterun, I came across a farm where some people were fighting a Giant. They seemed to have it under control and no one was in danger of dying except for the giant. I wish there was a way to save the giant as well, but I didn't know the situation and it was best I not interfere. After which, a lady who seemed to lead the group sarcastically thanked me for my help. Apparently they are members of an organization called the Companions that likes to fight for money. It sounds like pointless killing to me, so I bid my farewells and headed on into Whiterun.

I met with the Jarl who gave the order to dispatch some men to Riverwood. He also asked me to help out his court wizard. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but I agreed. It turns out that the court wizard, Farengar, wanted me to go to Bleak Falls Barrow and find a tablet called the dragonstone. He was kind enough to tell me that it probably was dangerous. I asked him about spells which might help me out. He recommended muffle for when I wanted to be quiet and avoid danger and calm for when a person or beast might want to slit my throat and I wanted to calm them down. Just the two spells I needed. It also was all that I could afford. Magic spell books are expensive.

It was around midnight by the time we wrapped up, so I found an inn called the Bannered Mare in town and rented a bed for the night.

I think that this is a start of a great adventure and so I have started this journal to document my journey in Skryim. It's now 2am on the 18th of Last Seed 4E201. I set off for Bleak Falls Barrow after I get a few hours of sleep.

Kill Count:
2 Wolves   read

12:11 PM on 12.31.2011

A new Skyrim tale

I've played over 400 hours of Skyrim. This involved 7 characters, 8 if you count the short life of Raelin. I've done many daedric quests, all the big side quests, and completed the main quest. I didn't do them all on the same character. I do try and keep them in their proper class and morality. There's still plenty of things I haven't done in Skyrim. However, after taking a day break to play through Portal 2, the call of Skyrim still beckons.

I started the tale of Raelin as a good writing exercise. I haven't written any stories in many years. It's a habit I miss, but I'm just not into creating new material. Writing a story based on Skyrim lets me enjoy my addiction while providing some therapeutic writing exercises. In addition, I want to try newer challenges in Skyrim. There are a variety of high level skills in Skyrim which make the game extremely easy. I actually plan to exploit some of these in my challenge, but place extra restrictions that force me to use these skills.

I needed a neutral place for some friends to read my stories, so I went looking for a good place to blog that was game oriented. Destructoid was the first place I found, and given the cblog recap does have a literature category, I think this will work just fine.

I will start every entry in all caps with "WARNING: POSSIBLE SKYRIM SPOILERS". I tried using bold letters in my last blog entry, but those are stripped in the main blog synopsis. I'm not going to be playing an NPC character. He's definitely an adventurer. He will be running through the main quest and some of the side quests. This is part of my challenge, so the character's attitude, skills sets, and desires have all been crafted to fit my challenge. Of course, as a level 1, he doesn't have near the abilities I need to meet my challenge. Given my intimate knowledge of the main quest line, having played the first sections of it 7 times, I'm fully aware that it doesn't really allow for a good time break. As such, I will avoid it and the triggers for it.

Rules of the Challenge (minor story spoilers, perhaps):

Complete the main quest line and live life with as few killings as possible. Yes, our protagonist is going to be a pacifist for the most part. His moral conflicts will probably be a highlight of the story. Skyrim isn't very big on not killing people, and actions in several quests have huge repercussions if you don't kill people. It'll be interesting to see how the character decides, because I honestly have no idea yet.

No reload cheats. It's not a very believable story if our protagonist always succeeds. If he does something illegal and gets caught, he'll have to suffer the consequences. If he casts the wrong spell, or drinks the wrong potions, and things go horribly wrong, then so be it.

Difficulty: Master I played 40 hours on adept, hundreds of hours on Expert, and hundreds more on Master. This shouldn't be an issue, but it definitely will keep things more challenging when I must fight. A point I must make here, difficulty directly effects the AR/damage of your enemies. It does not appear to effect their level. I believe, though have not tested, that it also effects your followers and summons, which means the only person at a disadvantage is you. Since my guy doesn't really want to fight much, this should theoretically be easier than my other characters.

That's it. I'll actually be pushing the game mechanics to their fullest to see if I can get inventive on not killing people. It also means that this could be a very boring and lame story. However, I writing it for me, so it's okay if no one else likes it. Unlike Raelin, I will support reload on death, though I will not use it as an excuse to run through a fight 10 times to luck out the win. One reason for this is that Skyrim mechanics can let the smallest of mistakes end with you dying to a single hit kill even from full health. Oh, there's so many hysterical stories to be told concerning one hit kills (both enemy and character). Perhaps I'll share a few in the future.   read

10:24 PM on 12.30.2011

The short life of Raelin

Warning: Skyrim intro/early main quest spoilers

To whom it may concern. We are sorry, but Raelin has passed away in service to the Jarl. We managed to recover his body from Bleak Falls Barrow surrounded by many Draugr corpses and found the following Journal:

17th of Last Seed 4E201

So I was just crossing the border into Skyrim. It had been a long time since I'd been to my homeland, but I wasn't expecting how things had changed. No sooner did I cross the border, I apparently stepped into some Imperial ambush setup to capture Ulfric, the Jarl of Windhelm, Ralof, and some horse thief; errr, Loki, Lokir? Something like that. He's from Rorikstead. I didn't know him that well. No sooner did we get off the cart in Helgen, he tried to run away and was shot down by archers. I so didn't like my odds at this point. But, hey! I hadn't done anything wrong. Surely these Imperial soldiers will realize that, and then I can go on my merry way.

So the nice soldier was checking the list and realized I wasn't on it. Man, I so love Imperial lists. He pointed it out to some lady soldier that I guess was his commanding officer, and what does she say? "Forget the list!" That bitch!

I'm lead with the other prisoners to what appears to be a chopping block. Great. I'm not guilty of any crime, except crossing the border at the same time as this Ulfric guy. Now I'm going to lose my head. I'm not normally a violent man, but I'm quite agitated by the situation. Some Imperial higher up yells and Ulfric, he grunts through his gag, and they call some priestess to give last rights or something. I was intrigued by what kind of rights she might be giving, but then some other guy yells out that he doesn't have all day. Um, yeah. You don't have all day to have your head separated from your shoulders. Right. A minute later, he had all the time in the world as his head fell into a crate.

Of course, blast my luck, the Imperial bitch says I'm next. I wasn't even on the list, and suddenly I'm second to be beheaded? What does she have against me? Do I remind her of an ex-boyfriend? Did one of my ancestors burn down her ancestor's farm or something? So I wobble over to the chopping block, find myself twisted in a weird position watching the axe man prepare his swing. I personally think this is cruel. Why couldn't they face me the other way so I didn't have to watch it coming? Then, right as I'm ready to shit myself, I piss myself. There's a dragon landing on the wall behind the axe man! Do those things even exist? Well, of course they do. There's one right there and he seems to be shouting. People are falling over, including me. Ouch! My head takes a wallop and everything goes blurry.

Next thing I know, Ralof is telling me to follow him. At least, I think it's Ralof. We run into a tower. He's talking to Ulfric or something. I'm just staring at the injured people and wishing I was anywhere but here. I hear a yell to run up the stairs, so up I go. I'm almost to the top, when I see some poor guy taken down by flying chunks of the tower wall and a dragon head popping through. I think someone said something about getting back. I'm pretty sure I didn't need anyone to tell me not to go kiss the dragon on the lips. My vision blurs as the tower lights up with fire from dragon breath, then it slowly clears out. Ralof tells me to jump over to another building and he'll catch up. I don't really want to leave, but I don't see much choice, so I jump over. Ouch. That was a pretty good fall.

So I start running like a madman. I just want out of this cursed town. I'm not on any lists, so if I can get out of here, I should be free and clear. I run into the nice Imperial soldier who'd checked the lists. Outside of following orders instead of his own conscience, he didn't seem too bad. Wish he'd quit calling me prisoner, though. He tells me to stick with him and I'll make it out alive. Who am I to argue? He leads me through the town, and we manage to not get slain by the dragon, though I almost had a dragon wing pierce my foot. He wasn't kidding when he said HUG the wall. We're almost to another tower when we run into Ralof. Now, I realize the Imperial soldier was just doing his job, and he was nice enough to help me stay alive with the dragon, but I'm just not very trusting of people who try to chop my head off. So as soon as I see Ralof, I start following him into another door of the tower.

Ralof checks on a buddy who appears to be slain and then in standard fashion, tells me his buddy won't need his stuff, so I should take it. Of course, he's kind enough to go ahead and free my hands this time. I swear. Some Nords are dense and take forever to realize that it's easier to do things without having your hands bound together. So I pickup the guys armor and axe and wait on Ralof to decide our next course of action.

Apparently, the doors out of this place are locked. Luckily, after just a short wait, we hear someone coming from one of the portcullises. Ralof says to hide, or something to that effect, but hiding sounded good to me. So I crouched near a wall and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. Two Imperial soldiers walk in through one of the grated doors. Ralof attacks and the fight is on. Now, I normally would have considered sitting this out and letting Ralof take care of things, but life is just funny that way. There was the Imperial bitch! I put my axe between her shoulder blades and stole her shiny armor. You were on my list, bitch. I don't recall if it was her armor or her buddy's, but there was some light imperial armor which seemed to protect me better, so I changed out outfits. Most importantly, she had a key to the other door. We were off.

We hooked up with some other stormcloaks, and fought some torturers and other imperials, or rather, they all fought, and I watched with the occasional smashing of a head with a mace I found along the way. Unfortunately, we got separated again further down. Stupid dragon above was reshaping the underground tunnels with cave-ins and shit. Ralof and I continued on. I'll skip the telling of the spiders. I so hate spiders. Is it enough to say, Ralof did everything? He got me out of the town, the dungeons, and the caverns we found. I've never been happier to see sunlight.

So Ralof said it might be safer if we split up, but I think he really wants company anyways. He said we should meet up in Riverwood if we do split up. His sister, Gerdur lives there. I guess I'll go along for now. I mean, he did save my life back there.

18th of Last Seed 4E201

So Ralof and I journeyed together to Riverwood. In the end, I think we were glad to stick together. He showed me some standing stones, and I felt a Nordic affinity towards the Warrior Stone. I'm not sure why. For a Nord, I'm really kind of puny. Then soon after we ran into a couple of wolves who attacked us. Ralof's sword and my mace made short work of them. Ariving at Riverwood, we met his sister. She's quite nice and welcomed me openly; even gave me a key to her place along with some goods to help me out on my journey. She was worried about the dragon and asked that I tell the Jarl of Whiterun about it and get help to protect Riverwood. After all she's done for me, I couldn't refuse, but she seemed that it would be okay to wait until the next day to go. I ran quickly to the local Riverwood Trader and sold all the stormcloak and Imperial gear I had taken along the way. It definitely wouldn't do to get caught carrying that stuff right now. I mean, how would I explain it all? The trader apparently had a problem with some thieves, but I'm not sure I want to go chasing thieves into dungeons. It was late, so I didn't get a chance to talk to the local blacksmith. I slept at Gerdur's house for the night.

The next morning, I went straight to the local blacksmith. He needed some help around the forge. I made a few things for him, which he was kind enough to pay me for. I also bought some leather from him and made myself a full leather suit. I sold extra weapons I didn't need, choosing to keep my trusty mace and an iron shield for now.

Then I set off for Whiterun. It was early afternoon by the time I arrived, the only bit of excitement was some people who are members of what they call the Companions fighting a Giant in a field just outside Whiterun. I was quite impressed. The giant looked very big and mean. For some reason, they thought I was all high and mighty because I didn't want to join them and suggested I talk to their leader. Perhaps another day.

Whiterun definitely is a nice city. Strong walls, big gates, and lots of guards everywhere. I saw a smith when I entered discussing getting too much work, but I needed to head straight for the Jarl. The Jarl was kind and dispatched some troops to Riverwood. However, he seems to think a lot of me. I tried to tell him that it wasn't my idea to come tell him, that I was just a messenger, but he'd hear none of it. We met with his court wizard Farengar. Apparently they need some dragon tablet out of Bleak Falls Barrow. I briefly saw it on my way to Riverwood. From the way Ralof talked, it's a spooky place. However, it's not every day that a Jarl asks something of you, so I feel somewhat obligated to go. Surely he wouldn't send me somewhere too dangerous.

Well, the Jarl kept me late, so I rented a room and got some food at the Bannered Mare. I'll set off tomorrow in search of this dragonstone.

19th of Last Seed 4E201

It's been a tough fight. I tried to sneak past the sentries up in the tower along the path to the Barrow. I failed miserably. Mace and Shield in hand, I gave a cry, frightening one away, while I clubbed another over the head. Keeping a body between me and the archer seemed like a good idea, and given that I survived the battle against the three, I'd say it worked. Coming up the stairs I ran into 2 more. They were weak and easily fell. I started to get depressed after I saw the next 2 just inside the door. I mean, how many people are in this place? However, they weren't the real horrors. Further in, I found a huge gigantic spider. I hate spiders, and this thing was more than twice my size. Luckily, it couldn't fit through the doorway. I weaved in and out, shooting arrow after arrow into it. Finally, it died. I found a guy trapped in one of it's webs. He was still alive. I cut him loose and he went running away screaming something about the treasure being all his. I cautiously followed, not thinking it ever wise to run in such an old place. Unfortunately, he wasn't as wise. I found him one level down. He'd stepped on a trap, a spike door swinging closed and impaling him. Poor fellow. Unfortunately, I'm probably not going to make it much further. I've fought these undead corpse things down here, one after another. I'm out of healing potions and there never seems to be a break. Some of these guys are restless and relentless. I'm going to try one more level down to see if I can find that stone, otherwise, I'm getting out of here.


And this is why you save when playing a game on Master difficulty (or don't run into a dungeon without a TON of healing potions).   read

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