In Which the Dragonborn Buys a Horse

This was a very low-key session as I was doing a bunch of side things, to take a break in between doing the Dawnguard plot and doing the Dragonborn plot. My main goals for this session were:

  1. Visit all my houses where I had loot stashes, and organize, sell, craft, or otherwise deal with a lot of the backlog of loot
  2. Visit all the towns I’m thane of and invest in any shops I hadn’t invested in yet
  3. Do the side quests on my queue from the college
  4. Visit Fort Dawnguard again and see if I could trigger the conversation to persuade Serana to cure her vampirism, and also see if I could trigger any Dawnguard side quests
  5. Experiment with a game feature I hadn’t played with: riding a horse!

And I did number five first, which helped out a lot with all the other goals for the night.

Highlights

  • Grabbed a bunch of loot items and materials out of my chest in Breezehome, to begin my circuit of all the places
  • Bought a horse from the Whiterun stables
  • Practiced riding by going through Riverwood on horseback; had to to figure out how to deal with a wolf attack on the way; stopped in Riverwood to invest in both the forge and the general goods store
  • Rode onward to Lakeview where I do in fact have a stable, so I stashed the horse there while dealing with property business; did additional building on site to spend more of my materials, and also cleaned out the loot stash in the chest at the workbenches; put a lot of books on the shelves in the library wing, as well as the upstairs shelf
  • Tried to ride to Falkreath, only to have the horse killed by a bear a couple of times, and then by bandits, and I was not going to lose this horse the first night I had her; figured out how to kill a bear with a bow from horseback, then finally fast traveled to Falkreath to avoid the bandit lair along the road
  • Invested in the general store in Falkreath even if the brother of the store owner is an asshole; tried to invest in the apothecary but she didn’t give me the option
  • Went to Solitude next, and parked the horse by the gates; got my loot stash from Proudspire, and smithed and sold a lot more things
  • Went to Windstad to do more on-site building, including with playing with a trophy room wing
  • Rode down to Morthal from Windstad since it was close enough; fought with bandits on the way but had to get off the horse to do it; invested in Lami’s apothecary
  • Stopped in Dawnstar to invest in the forge and the apothecary there; no stable, so I had to just park the horse by one of the main paths through the town
  • Fast traveled to Winterhold next, and invested in the general goods shop there, much to the surprise of the owner, who promised she’d work to justify my faith in her
  • Tried to see if I could get the horse up the bridge into the college, which I could, but boy howdy that was awkward and probably not really safe for the horse so I will not be doing that again; dropped a bunch of scrolls and ingredients off in the Arch-Mage’s quarters
  • Next stop: Windhelm; parked the horse at the stable there after a brief chat with a stable NPC; invested in the forge (whose owner was not the slightest bit surprised I wanted to invest in him) and the apothecary; sold a few more things
  • Down to Riften next, and was able to park the horse at the stable there; stopped at Honeyside to say hi to housecarl Iona and confirm I didn’t have any loot stored at the place; invested in the general goods store and the apothecary
  • Fast traveled to Fort Dawnguard to suddenly discover I was no longer on my horse, WTF; wandered around the place to interact with NPCs, and got side quests from Sorine and Isran; also got Dawnguard equipment from Gunmar, though he initially sold me heavy armor and I traded it out with him for the light armor version; found the priest and just outright gave him the other two Elder Scrolls without charging him because I did not need his money; found a group of refugees camped outside the fort and cranky that Isran wouldn’t let them actually move into the fort; and, found Serana and finally figured out how to trigger the conversation with her to get her to consider curing her vampirism, which she decided to do
  • Had to spend additional time at the Dawnguard smithing stations and enchanter table to work on improving and enchanting the Dawnguard gear, just so that I could whittle the inventory down enough that I could quaff a potion of Strength and fast travel again, to try to figure out where the hell my horse was; answer, still at the Riften stables
  • Went back to Winterhold to now deal with the quest to find the book for Urag, at the shipwreck east of Winterhold; left the horse just outside Winterhold so I could get down to the beach without risking it; found the shipwreck and fought several bandits so I could get the book and a bit of other loot
  • Returned to the horse and fast traveled to the spot west of Solitude where the rift from the Eye of Magnus had appeared; this again caused me to have to recover from save a couple of times, due to the horse being killed by random monsters; finally left the horse further up the trail and went on foot to the anomaly site so I could close the rift
  • Returned to the college to report in to Urag and Tolfdir; got their thanks and yet more gold
  • Finally returned to Whiterun (thankfully, no dragon from the fast travel, because boy howdy would that have panicked the horse); stashed the horse back at the stable and returned to Breezehome; gave Lucia an elven dagger much to her glee

All about the horse

I had been having a conversation on Facebook yesterday re: what I could actually spend money on in Skyrim, and as part of that conversation I realized hey, I could actually buy a horse. This was interesting to me for a few reasons:

  1. Game feature I hadn’t learned yet, so I was interested in playing with a new thing
  2. Another thing to spend money on, because horses cost 1,000 gold
  3. Once I discovered from the wiki that you could fast travel on a horse even when encumbered, this got really relevant to my interests, because of how many times I’ve gotten overburdened with all the loot

Therefore, the first action of this entire session was to see about getting a horse. The Whiterun stable was perfectly happy to sell me one, a beautiful creature who was clearly very, very interested in having her face brushed:

Brush My Face? Brush My Face!

I am sad that the game provides me no mechanism by which I can in fact brush this beautiful creature’s face. 😢

Likewise, I’m a little sad as well that I couldn’t actually change her name. Skulvar, the stable NPC who sold her to me, told me said they’d been calling her “Queen Alfsgir”, or Allie for short. But also that I could name her whatever I wanted. Which I would except for the part where the game doesn’t actually give me a way to do that!

Apparently this is another problem that’s been solved by one of the player-created “Creations” you can buy as add-ons, unless you happen to be playing on the Switch. SIGH.

So at least as far as the game is concerned, she’s “Alarrah’s Horse”. Right now I see no IC reason why Alarrah wouldn’t keep calling her Queen Alfsgir, though. I can see her pondering the matter and even conversing with the horse on the road about whether she has an opinion on the matter.

Oh and another thing I’m sad about: you can’t feed a horse, either! There are apples and carrots all over the damn game and I cannot give a single one of them to this horse. I should like to hope that some horse-loving Skyrim player has already corrected this problem with another Creation, because if the game’s going to bother to give you horses to begin with, you should damn well be able to give them apples and carrots, says I.

That said: I also grant that this would take some thinking about how the mechanics for doing multiple actions with your horse would work. Right now your only option is to hit the A key to ride. But you could modify that to make the UI behave similarly to the “Talk” prompts you get with a person, with various dialogue options. It could be “Horse Actions” instead of “Talk”, and look something like:

  • Ride horse.
  • Groom horse.
  • Feed horse.

“Groom” could give you a nice animation of your character just brushing the horse. If the game can serve you cinematics of your power attacks on killing dragons, it seems like brushing a horse should be a piece of cake!

“Feed” could trigger the same UI you get when you’re storing stuff in containers, though perhaps limited to food objects suitable for horses?

I’m not even a horse person, really, and I can think of all this stuff. I can only begin to imagine what actual horse people could come up with for these scenarios!

All that said, I really enjoyed playing with riding, and the advantages of having a horse. The ability to fast travel while encumbered was super, super helpful. Some other aspects of dealing with a horse, though, were more awkward. Such as:

  • When you’re on horseback the game enforces third person. I’ve been playing in first person all this time, so the switch to third while riding felt weird and I had to ride slowly along roads, just to practice the different muscle memory to be able to move smoothly in third person and not make myself motion sick.
  • Combat mechanics on a horse are also different, even aside from enforcing third person. I had a harder time finding my viewpoint crosshair to use it to let me actually hit targets. And, I had to learn that if I’m fighting with a sword, hitting the left trigger lets me swing to the left of the horse, right trigger swings to the right. A couple times though when bandits came at me and the horse, I wound up accidentally dismounting and then just having to fight on foot.
  • Also, you cannot use either Shouts or magic while on the horse. Dara points out to me that this is actually reasonable on the grounds that magic and/or Shouts would probably scare the fuck out of the horse, and it would probably throw you. And I cannot argue with that logic.
  • It’s apparently very easy for your horse to get killed. Mine was killed a couple of times on the road when I tried to ride between Lakeview Manor and Falkreath, and again later when I investigated the magic anomaly west of Solitude. This meant that I wound up mostly just fast traveling on the horse rather than actually riding, and I also restored from save a lot, because I did not want to lose the horse the very same session I bought her.
  • Note to self: trying to go down a steep cliff on your horse is a very, very bad idea. Both for you and the horse. The animation I got of myself bouncing down the rocks will serve as a very clear reminder of this in the future.
  • It’s kind of hilarious that I can just basically park the horse anywhere like she’s a car, when I fast travel into a location. The game has no fucks to give about whether I’m parking the horse somewhere safe. She will apparently wait for me wherever I park her, but I did at least make a point of looking for actual safe places to leave her whenever I dismounted. If there was a stable available, I put her there.
  • Putting the horse into a stable did also get a little awkward a time or two, because it gave me trouble with dismounting. I had to figure out the appropriate angle to put the horse into the stall and still leave myself room to dismount.
  • A time or two, when we were attacked by hostiles, the horse freaked out and ran off a bit. So I had to go after it to remount.

All in all though, despite the various awkward bits of experimenting with the mechanics, the ability to fast travel while encumbered was so helpful that I am totally glad I bought the horse.

Visiting all the places

Basically, I did a huge circuit of all the places I’m thane of, to visit almost all of my properties (the only one I skipped was Heljarchen) to get my loot stashes organized, and to invest in all the shops.

The loot organization part of this plan worked swimmingly. I got a bunch of things sold, crafted, built, stashed somewhere useful, or otherwise dealt with. Though this also meant I ended the session with a lot more gold than I started with, because I kept having so many expensive things to sell!

Investing in all the shops was also fun, partly just to see how the various vendors reacted.

Also, more than one guard in more than one location explicitly called me “Dragonborn” or “Dovahkiin”, and professed willingness to help me in any way I needed. Aw, thank you, guards. ❤️

Riverwood

I don’t have any kind of a residence in Riverwood, but it’s under Whiterun’s jurisdiction, I think? So I guess technically I’m thane here too.

And I do have a soft spot for Riverwood as it was the first place I had time to learn to interact with the game. So I did want to make a point of investing in the general goods shop and the forge there.

And I got to meet the blacksmith’s daughter who had nice lines with her father about growing up to be as good a blacksmith as him. Aw.

Lakeview

While stopping at Lakeview, I noted that my bard there was singing “Age of Aggression”—not “Age of Oppression”. I’d forgotten Falkreath was actually under Imperial control!

Dropped off a whole lot of books here to fill out the library wing, as well as the upstairs shelf. Which really made me wish other types of shelves had a similar UI to let me put things on them.

Main building activity here was to finish out building the storeroom wing in the back of the building.

Falkreath

There are two brothers in Falkreath, one of whom runs the general goods shop and the other of whom runs the mill. The one who runs the mill is an asshole and he made snarky commentary at me about not liking that Skyrim let “provincials” like me just run all over the place. His brother, at least, was much nicer so I didn’t have to regret investing in his place.

I will not, however, be visiting Falkreath’s mill.

I also tried to invest in Falkreath’s apothecary, which is run by a Redguard vendor. That’s odd enough that I did in fact want to give her money. But not all of the shops in the game will let you invest in them, and this one was one of the shops where I couldn’t. Drat.

Solitude

I had a huge cache of loot in my bedroom chest in Proudspire, so organizing that did take a while!

And while Solitude does have a stable, I didn’t see a good place for horse stalls, so I wound up leaving my horse by the Solitude gate.

Windstad

Main building activity here was to play with finishing the trophy room wing. And in there, I was able to play with the trophy interface and build several trophies, using a bunch of the pelts and straw I was carrying. The resulting trophies all basically looked like the creatures the pelts had come from, so apparently the game thinks I’m really good at taxidermy?

Also, since I was carrying some dragon bits I’d glommed from the loot stash at Lakeview, I made a dragon skull trophy too.

(As a player, I was not entirely comfortable with the concept of the trophy room once I set it up. It smacked too hard of just hunting for the sake of trophies, vs. hunting for the sake of food or using the pelts for useful purposes. I did it this once just to see what the feature was like, and I’ll keep it in this game because I’m pretty sure I don’t have the option to actually get rid of it. Also, I figure Alarrah would probably be fine with it, in character. But I don’t think I’ll build this type of wing on future playthroughs.)

Morthal

Main activity here was to invest in Lami’s apothecary. No stable in Morthal, so I parked the horse right outside her shop.

Dawnstar

Invested in both the forge and the apothecary here. Again no stable, so I parked the horse near the inn.

Winterhold

Birna, the general goods vendor in Winterhold, was blatantly surprised that I wanted to just outright give her money, lol. And she swore up and down that she’d work to justify my faith in her and earn the investment. Which made me actively like Birna, and made me glad I made a point of stopping in Winterhold to give her some money. ❤️

Windhelm

I am still not thane in Windhelm and not likely to become so unless I change my mind about playing out the actual war. But I do like the vendors in Windhelm, so I stopped there to invest in them, too.

Their blacksmith was kind of hilarious about that, as he was all “of course you want to invest in me, I’m the best smith in all of Skyrim”.

Windhelm has an actual stable so I left my horse there, after having a chat with the NPC there who cheerfully assured me he wasn’t worried about dragons. And also had commentary about how there were few life problems that couldn’t be helped with a swift steed.

Riften

Came into Riften to find that the city guards had been replaced by Imperial guards—because oh yeah, right, I’d turned Riften over to Imperial control during the Season Unending truce conference!

This didn’t really change any of the guard behavior to me in Riften, just what the NPCs looked like. They still had location-specific dialogue to me, including the line about how the woman who’d been running the orphanage had been murdered, and “Say, didn’t I see you coming out of there?”

My dude, you most assuredly did not. Ahem, er, I mean, I have no idea what you’re talking about!

Anyway, checked in at Honeyside to say hi to my housecarl, who still calls me thane even though I’m pretty sure I’d have to check in with Maven Black-Briar now that she’s Jarl and see if I’m still thane as far as she is concerned.

Also invested in the Pawned Prawn general goods shop, as well as the alchemy shop down on the lower walkway. And while I was in there, I actually found a Black-Briar NPC, Ingun, who’s apparently Maven’s daughter. And who apparently is an apprentice to the alchemist, and who lamented having made him angry for destroying a bunch of his ingredients. So I agreed I’d bring her the ingredients she needed. Because boy howdy do I have a lot of ingredients.

And since Riften does have a decent stable, I left the horse with them as long as I was in there. From there, I then tried to travel to my next location…

Fort Dawnguard

… only to find that I was no longer on the horse when I got there. WTF.

Paul theorizes that because Fort Dawnguard had been added as a location after the horse UI was created in the game, the horse UI might still have a bug in it to not register Fort Dawnguard as a location a horse can fast travel to?

I had a few other major goals while at the fort, so I took some time to deal with them while trying to figure out what had happened to the horse.

Wandered around talking with several NPCs until I triggered a couple of side quests, one from Sorine to go get her a schematic out of a Dwemer ruin that would let her make better crossbows, and one from Isran to go recruit another NPC for the Dawnguard. I’m pretty sure these quests were ones I probably should have done before we wiped out Castle Volkihar’s vampires? But it’s not like there aren’t other vampires in the game, so!

I also found the old Moth Priest, Dexion, so I could give him the two remaining Elder Scrolls. And I just outright gave them to him, because I did not need his money. He was very grateful.

Gunmar gave me some Dawnguard armor (again, probably a thing that should have happened before I concluded the main plotline). He actually gave me a mix of Heavy and Light armor, so I sold the Heavy Armor back to him and bought Light from him instead, as well as a proper helmet. And I spent some time improving and enchanting these armor bits. Got them all up to Legendary with various useful enchantments (including Fortify Carry Weight on the boots). This armor set is still not as good as my dragonscale, but now at least at this point, if I’m wearing it on Dawnguard business, I’ll feel reasonably well protected!

Outside the fort, while searching for my horse, I found a party of refugees camped a little further down from the entrance. One of them lamented to me about why the hell the Dawnguard won’t let them stay in the fort. Presumably these folks are refugees from a vampire attack, and I gotta say, it’s a damn good question as to why they aren’t actually inside the fort. So what the hell, Isran? Let these people stay inside!

Last but not least, I found Serana. ❤️ I still couldn’t trigger the appropriate dialogue tree to get her to consider curing her vampirism—until I actually asked her to follow me again (at which point I got “I knew you’d miss me”, ha), and then I had the prompt.

So I followed that conversational tree, pointing out that vampirism had fucked up her family; her legit counterargument for that was that her family was fucked up in several ways on its own. I told her that if she wanted to consider a cure, I’d support her. And she decided to go speak with Falion in Morthal to get it dealt with. I wished her good luck. ❤️

Finally, after doing the smithing and enchanting work, I got the inventory down far enough again that I was able to fast travel as long as I quaffed a potion of Strength. So back to Riften! There, I discovered that my horse was still at the Riften stables. Got mounted up and headed north once more, back to Winterhold.

Wreck of the Pride of Tel Vos

This was the site that Urag wanted to send me to to get a copy of The Legendary Scourge—which, I note, I’d already gotten him a copy of on a previous quest of this type? But apparently he really wanted an extra copy!

This being a shipwreck a little ways east of Winterhold, I parked the horse just outside the town and in sight of the guards, and then hoofed it from there down to the coast. I threw Clear Skies around a few times just to clear out the snow showers and see where I was going—which was, a small island not too far out.

A small group of bandits had set up a camp around the shipwreck, and they were not pleased about my approach. They put up arguments about that, and by arguments I mean weapons, but they did not win that particular debate.

Nabbed the book as well as a couple other loot items, then went back to get my horse.

Closing the rupture

The site I needed to go to to close the leftover rupture from the Eye of Magnus was a little ways west of Solitude, and it took me a few tries to actually handle that without getting the horse killed. My first attempt to get there sent us both tumbling unceremoniously down that aforementioned mountain; a couple of subsequent attempts also got the horse killed by hostile creatures on the road.

What finally worked was to pick a fast travel landmark south of the rupture, which let me use flat terrain to get close enough to find the proper route in. Then I got off the horse not far away from a horker—who, while it made cranky noise at my approach, never came close enough to bother either me or the horse. And I hoofed it the rest of the way to the rupture so I could close it.

Once this was done, I was able to return to the college and report back in to both Urag and Tolfdir, who were suitably grateful.

Home again to Whiterun

And with that, I finally returned to Whiterun. Thankfully, when I came out of fast travel on horseback, I did not trigger a dragon approach because I did not want to risk having my nice new horse eaten by a dragon. I stashed her safely back at the stables, and headed back in to say hi to my family!

And this time, I was able to present Lucia with an elven dagger when she asked me if I’d brought her anything. She was overjoyed to receive this (“you’re the best!”) and promptly ran off into her room to use it to attack her practice dummy. Yep, that kid sure is a Nord!

I told Paul and Dara about this interaction, and it amused the hell out of both of them. Particularly the part where, in the middle of attacking her practice dummy, Lucia paused and looked up at me and complained about Braith being a big meanie to both her and Lars Battle-Born.

And I couldn’t help but think, “Well, kiddo, I have given you the means to resolve your problem!” 🤣

Paul and I figure the next time Lucia talks to Braith, the conversation will go very differently.

Lucia: “My mom’s the Dragonborn! And she has a lot of weapons. And magic! I learned a new spell today. It’s called FLAMES.”

Also, I figure a subsequent conversation with a concerned parent would go like this:

Amren: “Uh, Dragonborn, thank you for saving us and all, but could you convince your kid to not poke my kid with her dagger?”

Alarrah: “Howsabout you convince your kid to stop being horrible to her playmates?”

Braith (poked by Lucia’s elven dagger): “Ow! Make her stop!”

Lucia (continuing to poke): “You bleed pretty!”

Screenshots

And now, to close it all out, a bunch of screencaps! Including more of the horse, as well as Alarrah in her new Dawnguard armor, and Lucia in battle with her practice dummy.