I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack! At least, I’m back to a place where I can at least have a few moments to type. So enjoy the continuation of my exploration of Skyrim with my feisty Bosmer ranger avatar, Piter.
It’s still a little while before I really got into the screenshot taking thing, so forgive the lack of some of the important bits. Hopefully my l33t English-major description skillz will help make up for it.
When we last left Piter, she had almost been eaten by a dragon, and was asked to choose sides in a civil war she could care less about. Rather than follow the Stormcloak (or seek out the Imperials), she skips off of the path entirely and heads out into the woods for several (in-game) days. After getting my fill of hunting and exploring various settlements we come across (and being loaded down with pelts and furs in my inventory), it is time to find a road again, and continue South. I find birthsign stones as I do, and–obviously–pick the Thief. Piter is no pickpocket, mind you, but she does rely on ranged weapons and stealth. The Warrior is not her way, and neither, for certain, is the Mage.
Piter, you see, doesn’t even use enchanted weapons or armor, let alone actual spells. She is quite mistrustful of magic in general, and the “easy” solution it seems to offer to most problems. She is very proud of using nothing but her gods-given skills and tools, and is insulted by the implication that the intervention of some unnatural force might be necessary to enhance the skills she has spent a lifetime perfecting. (As a player, this does hamstring me, but it is also a bit freeing–I put no points into any sort of magic or enchanting, spend no money on expensive enchanted items, and focus purely on the ability to craft or download the best pure weapons and armor I can–though I won’t be using any mods til the main quest is done I think.) She is a big fan of alchemy however; I, and she, treats it as a ranger thing–purely using knowledge of local plants and herbalism to create only potions that can restore health and stamina, like the poultices any good forester would know how to create from the land. (Speaking of alchemy, I hate how they’ve changed it in Skyrim; not being able to carry my mortar and pestle is beyond irritating.)
After choosing my sign, I head down the path, further enjoying the beautiful scenery that was obviously set up here to show off Skyrim’s awesome engine to new players. Eventually, I end up in the small little hamlet of Riverwood. This is a lovely place, and in spite of her usually introverted nature, Piter immediately begins trying to make friends, hoping against hope that maybe this will be a place she can settle. I also have some fun selling off various loot I’ve acquired, and play around with the new armor crafting system. (From the first post, you’ll remember that Piter is something of a smith.) I try out various iterations of fur armor, thinking that it might fit the look of my nature-loving ranger a bit more…until it turns out that “fur armor,” for female heroes, means a fur bikini at worst (in fucking SKYRIM! In SNOW!), and a highly irritating and unnecessary boob window at best. So in spite of liking the fur look because it seems like the natural look that a Skyrim ranger would wear (the leather looks a bit too armor/military for my taste), we’ll be sticking with leather for the sake of not looking retarded.
(Slight deviation on the armor subject, I did end up downloading some very nice armor mods that eliminate these issues. None are gamebreaking (they’re all the equal of dragon scale, which I could easily craft by the time I downloaded them) and are much more cloth/ranger looking, which is nice. I even took care of the fur armor problem by downloading a simple fur hood mod, which cover up that retarded fur armor boob window when you wear it. So thanks to the modding community, I have several nice cosmetic options when it comes to armor–I can wear fur when I want to do the barbarian ranger thing, and good looking LOtR style ranger armor when in town on business. Thanks modders!)
I meet lots of nice people in Riverwood, and even help solve a few problems–a love triangle being foremost among them. An elf asks me to try and fool a nice lady into disliking another man. This highly pisses off both Piter and I, and we inform the lady of the elf’s treachery at the first opportunity. This earns us her gratitude, and the gratitude of the ‘other man’–the local bard (hilariously named Sven.) He offers to join us on our journey, but seeing as how he has no armor and is, well, a bard, we decline for the moment.
One problem we can’t yet solve is finding an artifact that has been stolen from one of the local traders–apparently it is a very valuable claw made of gold. Neither Piter nor I feel ready for any extracurricular dungeon crawling yet though, so I take the quest with the intent to fulfill it later. And speaking of quests, it is time to continue the main one. A friendly patron of the lumbermill asks that we inform the Jarl of Whiterun of the dragon attack. As much as she simply wants to settle in Riverwood quietly and avoid both the Imperials and Stormcloaks for the rest of her life, Piter can’t deny that sending a professional scout–as well as the only eyewitness to the dragon attack left alive, really–as the messenger is not a bad plan at all. So, reluctantly, she departs for the biggest city in the hold.
Along the way, the scout in Piter (and compulsive explorer of open worlds in me) can’t help but wander off the beaten path a bit as we circle around the tundra looking for Whiterun’s front gate. We find some amazing things along the way–caves and ruins, breweries and windmills, even evidence of foul play–an overturned cart and murdered merchants. Nothing prepares us for the campfire we approach in the night, however–GIANTS! Giants who, after several minutes of careful, hidden watching, herd some kind of mammoths! Amazing. The giants seem friendly enough–they are peaceful herders, it seems–but there is no mistaking the aggressive stance one takes when I reveal myself. Perhaps they think I am there to take their herd? Regardless, communication does not seem possible, as the aggression increases the closer I get. Clearly they do not want me in their camp, and so I fade back into the shadows and depart towards the town to fulfill my mission.
Whiterun, as it turns out, is locked down, but dropping Riverwood’s name gets the gates open easily enough. The place is HUGE, and–temporarily forgetting the dire nature of our mission–I spend quite some time simply exploring the place and gaping at the amazing scenery, and meeting some of the characters the place has to offer. (Piter has probably been here before, natch–but I haven’t!) The effects of the aurora, in particular, drop my jaw. Faithful readers will recall that I lived in Alaska for several years, and had the pleasure of seeing the Northern Lights in person many, many times. This is amazingly close to the real thing, and made me unbelievably homesick for the far North. Just beautiful.
After the exploration is done, it’s time to head up to Dragonsreach palace to meet the Jarl. He is suitably thankful for the message, and immediately pawns us off on his court mage, who is…less grateful. In fact, he’s kind of an ass.
This, by the way, does nothing to change Piter’s opinion about magic and the sort of people who use it.
After meeting more of the people in the palace and exploring a bit (without stealing, mind–Piter doesn’t steal, and the only thing we ever take out of turn are books to complete our library), it’s time to head to Bleak Falls Barrow. Wouldn’t you know it–that seems to be the location of the golden claw that the nice Riverwood shopkeeper needed found. Isn’t that a nice coincidence? We’ll have to keep our eyes peeled while we search the barrow for the, whachacallit, dragonstone that the irritating mage wants us to fetch for him.