In Which the Dragonborn Goes to Geirmund’s Hall

The main point of yesterday’s run was the next part of the Forbidden Legends quest, but with the obligatory extra building and smithing and crafting on either side. Plus, more occurrences of the dead dragon corpse bug! Highlights as follows:

  • Before I went on the main quest, went to Heljarchen Hall first to do some building and make Gregor the official steward
  • Hoofed it with Lydia from Whiterun to head east for Geirmund’s Hall
  • Went towards Riverwood first which turned out to be the wrong way, and accidentally discovered a back way into Riverwood
  • Fought a giant who was just standing right there in the road
  • Killed another random Dark Brotherhood assassin
  • I think Lyds and I may have saved Talsgar the Wanderer from frostbite spiders? Go us!
  • Took a long looping road to the east before we swung back west towards our destination
  • Discovered a new bandit lair, Nilheim, but did not engage with it
  • Got attacked by a couple of cranky treasure hunters after we crossed a river
  • Cleared Geirmund’s Hall, in which we found the obligatory draugr, flooded chambers, a lot of mushrooms, a dead adventurer, the dead Archmage Geirmund, and the cranky draugr boss Sigdis
  • More recurring dragon corpse in Whiterun, I have definitely triggered some kind of weird dragon corpse bug

First thing I did in yesterday’s run was to return to Heljarchen Hall so I could find housecarl Gregor, and set him up officially as steward of the place. I found him patrolling the area, so got that sorted quickly, and then proceeded to pay him some of my gold so I could get additional lumber and stone on hand. And then I finished building out the main hall and other accoutrements.

Since Heljarchen is so close to Whiterun, I just hoofed it back from there. And happened to notice that right by the farm, Cicero’s carriage was on the road again. Or still? I thought I’d finished that quest? But maybe his carriage never goes off camera? (And from what I see on the wiki, this does seem to be the case, he’ll stay there until I either join or destroy the Dark Brotherhood. OKAY THEN.)

For now, anyway, I didn’t re-engage Cicero. I just hoofed it back to Whiterun and did a little hunting on the way, and a bit more smithing and selling before picking up Lydia for the main activity of the evening.

Which was: going after that second bit of amulet for the Forbidden Legend quest!

I was in the mood for more road tripping, just because one of the things I really love about this game is the richness of the world design, and just wandering around in it and seeing things! Plus, the target location wasn’t too hugely far from Whiterun, so I decided to hoof it there rather than fast traveling.

This took a little longer than expected, because to start out with, I took the wrong road out of Whiterun. I went through Riverwood, when I should have gone east instead from the bridge that leads in Riverwood’s direction. Still though going through Riverwood was amusing just because I accidentally stumbled onto a back way into Riverwood I hadn’t found before—which surprised me. I thought at first I was coming into Ivarstead, but I hadn’t seen a new location tag trigger. And I only belatedly realized I was looking at Riverwood from an angle I hadn’t seen it from before!

So I went back the way I’d come. And then discovered a giant just standing right in the middle of the road.

Up till now, I’d been feeling vaguely guilty about fighting giants. The game certainly makes it clear that you’re expected to fight them, what with the various bounties you can get for clearing out a giant camp. Or, in some cases, being outright ordered by a Jarl to take one out. But aside from that I hadn’t really seen any sign of giants being an active problem. All the ones I’d run into so far had just been minding their own damn business and didn’t get hostile at me until I got too close.

This time, though, the giant was clearly looking for trouble. I tried to go past him without engaging, but Lydia had no such intentions, and started fighting him as soon as we were in range. So we had to go ahead and take him out.

Dara and Paul also say that once you have your own homes and you experience giants taking out your animals, you get over “but I don’t want to kill the giants just minding their own business” real fast.

Anyway, once we got past that giant, we continued eastward. Notable other NPC encounters were:

  1. Got jumped by a couple of Frostbite Spiders, but this time I heard an NPC yelling something, and after Lyds and I killed the spiders I saw Talsgar the Wanderer going past us on the road. I think we may have saved him from the spiders?
  2. Another Dark Brotherhood assassin attacked me. This was technically the third one if you count the one that got retconned by a rollback, otherwise it was the second one. Either way, Alarrah’s going to have to go have a word with Astrid. And by ‘word’, I mean ‘sword’.
  3. Found a new location called Nilheim, and when I looked it up on the wiki, saw it was actually a bandit camp. Elected to not engage it for the time being.
  4. Reached a point where I had to do a bit of river crossing, and stumbled across a couple of treasure hunters who got really cranky at us and attacked us. Took them out.

Notable thing about the treasure hunters was, they had a boat. I checked out the boat briefly, but didn’t see any way I could actually do anything useful with it. Apparently Skyrim has boats in-character, but not as a usable game mechanic.

Eventually discovered I had to cross another bit of river, because the location we were headed for was actually on an island. But once we got there, it was easy enough to find. And this time, Lydia didn’t go “Look, a cave!” Maybe she figured Alarrah knows one when she sees one at this point. ;)

This was essentially a draugr hive, like many of the caves I’ve encountered are. But this one had a couple of unusual features about it. One, possibly due to being on an island, bits of it were lightly flooded. And two, there was a battering ram trap that involved a hanging mammoth skull acting as the trap. Which did actually hit me once, but didn’t do any serious damage—still though, ow.

Had to get through a pillar puzzle and also find a couple of levers to launch bridges to cross, but once I did that, I found the dead body of Archmage Geirmund.

The wiki seemed to think I should have been able to get a key off of him. I didn’t. But I didn’t seem to need it, because I was able to proceed through the rest of the dungeon and finally get to where the boss draugr was, Sigdis Gauldurson.

Taking that guy out was tricky. Not only did he do the thing I’ve seen before where powerful bosses can clone themselves, he also had an Unrelenting Force Shout.

Which is an expected thing with higher-level draugr, apparently? This guy smacked both me and Lyds with the Shout a couple of times. Fortunately, he didn’t actually kill us, but still, ow.

I figure at that point both Alarrah and Lydia had to be going “fucking hell, he’s also Dragonborn?” And Alarrah had to have a side helping of “fucking ow, that’s what it feels like to be hit with that Shout, ow ow ow”.

What actually finally worked for me to take him out was to engage my Sneak and whip out a bow to zing him with. Right now I’m favoring Zephyr, just because Katria’s ghost did ask me to take care of it for her. This bow isn’t quite matching my others for sheer raw damage, but the improvement in draw speed is pretty tasty!

So I was finally able to take the bastard out that way. It took three shots, I think because I also had to kill his clones? But once I did that though I was able to run over and loot his corpse, which had fallen into the water.

That got me the second amulet bit, as well as his bow, the Gauldur Blackbow. I’m amassing quite the collection of enchanted bows now, for sure.

Got a bit more tasty loot on the way out, including another pair of glass boots with a resist frost enchantment which I think might become my new favorite boots. And then blip, back to Whiterun via fast travel…

At which point I saw the dragon corpse again, twitching not far away from the Western Watchtower.

And I saw it again after I got up the next in-game morning in Breezehome, and popped next door to the forge for the next round of smithing. Saw the corpse wedged right through the front gates.

At this point that’s five times I’ve seen this corpse manifest, and now my QA brain is getting engaged, because wow this is a weird problem. I’ve done some searches and have seen various forum posts from other Skyrim players talking about this. I’m definitely not the only player to have experienced it, and it’s clearly also not specific to the Switch.

From what I’ve seen, the most definitive way to solve the problem is not one I can do, because it requires you to have access to the game’s debug console. This is a feature only available on the PC, it’s not included with the Switch build. The idea is for you to select the dragon’s corpse, and then go into the console and mark it with a flag that tells the game to delete it.

Which is nice and all if you can actually do that, which I can’t, so I have to look at other options. Other players I’ve seen posting about this were told they could try things like throwing a Shout at it to get it far, far out of the way—not really an option though if I’m seeing the corpse in Whiterun, because throwing a Shout around inside the town walls would piss off the guards. Other players have tried to re-animate the corpse to get it back into a “live” state, but I don’t have appropriate magics to do that.

Thinking about the problem, I did recall that the last non-named dragon I killed was at the watchtower. I also recall that just as I was absorbing its soul, I saw one of the tower guards actually walk through the corpse. I think that’s what might have triggered this bug, the guard getting the dragon corpse into a bad state somehow.

Next time: I think my next session is going to have to just involve several fast travels, to see if I can make the game throw me another dragon to kill and maybe overwrite the bad corpse data for the last one! Bonus, I could get more dragon bits that way!

On the other hand, Paul also suggests I could just move to Solitude now that I have Proudspire Manor. ;D