In Which the Dragonborn Scours the Land for Ingredients

This session was another low-key one, and mostly just focused on a) practicing more with the horse and b) running around getting ingredients for the side quest for Ingun Black-Briar in Riften. But I also eventually started working on one of the side quests from the Dawnguard, as well.

Highlights

  • Checked the apothecaries in Whiterun, Solitude, Morthal, Dawnstar, Windhelm, and Falkreath to see if I could buy them out of deathbell, nirnroot, and nightshade
  • Also checked my ingredients stashes at Breezehome, Proudspire, all three built houses, and the Arch-Mage’s quarters at the college; between that and the stores, got the deathbell sorted
  • Had to pick wild nightshade in Solitude and a little in Falkreath to get the nightshade count finished
  • Hunting the nirnroot was harder, apothecaries were low on it, so I had to bounce around a lot looking for places where nirnroot grows wild; picked several around Whiterun, several more at an “Evergreen Grove” location, and a few west of Riften along the river
  • Specifically opted to not harvest nirnroot from the sisters on the farm because just going up and picking it out of their field seemed like stealing
  • Checked several places that I wound up losing out of the flow of play due to the horse getting killed, so I had to roll back to a previous save
  • Fought a few random bandits while hunting for the nirnroot, also one cranky Orc who attacked me for no apparent reason
  • Managed to avoid fighting either the giant near Whiterun or the mammoths right around its camp, by using a potion of sneak and another of invisibility, to get the nirnroot at that pool
  • Killed a Frost Dragon when I fast traveled to Falkreath and the dragon landed on the town; fortunately it didn’t seem to kill any guards, or my horse
  • Fought but was killed by an Ancient Dragon when I tried to hunt nirnroot around the Abandoned Shack north of Morthal
  • Eventually returned to Riften to give Ingun her ingredients; she gave me 750 gold for each ingredient cluster, and a free key to her ingredients supply chest
  • Discovered my horse will also not fast travel with me to Solitude or Windhelm if I fast travel directly to the cities–possibly because the fast travel landing spots for those are within the city gates? So fast traveling to them will seem to require landing outside the gates at the stables if I want the horse with me
  • Practiced riding some more as well as combat from horseback, and started getting the hang of swinging the sword while mounted
  • Also wound up experimenting with the Summon Arvak spell I got in the Soul Cairn, so I could ride Arvak and get my own actual horse out of “follow me everywhere in fast travel” mode
  • Started working next on one of the Dawnguard side plots, finding the schematic for Sorine; this required me to investigate a cave I’d already cleaned out, only to discover it wasn’t the actual location of the schematic but it did have a back way into where I needed to get; that back way was hard to reach, though

Hunting for Ingun’s ingredients

This is not in any kind of chronological order, because I bounced around a lot looking for the various ingredients. Some places I visited twice, even. Some places I wound up visiting but losing due to having to roll back to a previous save. But here are the overall themes of the search:

  1. Checked the apothecaries in Whiterun, Falkreath, Solitude, Morthal, Dawnstar, and Windhelm, just to see how many of the ingredients I could buy
  2. Also checked all of my various houses, as well as the Arch-Mage’s quarters, to see how many relevant ingredients I had in my ingredients stashes
  3. Between the apothecaries and my houses, I was able to get the deathbell all sorted
  4. Had to do some wild gathering of nightshade in Solitude and Falkreath to get the nightshade all sorted
  5. The nirnroot was unsurprisingly harder and I had to visit a bunch more places to look for that

According to the wiki, the hands down largest count of nirnroot I could get anywhere was at the farm in the Rift where I’d visited during the quest for the crimson nirnroot. I did try to go there, but eventually backed out of doing that, and this is why.

When I landed at the farm, I happened to spy a Rift Guard fighting an Imperial soldier, and I had to go around them to get the sisters’ nirnroot field. I started picking the nirnroot, only to hear the sisters talking as they came out of their house. They didn’t actually get to me but I strongly suspected the change in the nirnroot noise might have alerted them?

And I realized that taking the nirnroot out of their field was essentially stealing even if the game didn’t ding me for it. So I wasn’t comfortable with that. I retconned back to a previous auto-save to undo it, and resolved to hunt the nirnroot I needed elsewhere.

Other notable activities while I was on the ingredient hunt included:

  1. Sneaking around a giant camp west of Whiterun, after quaffing both a sneak potion and an invisibility one, to get a nirnroot out of a pool without having to fight either the nearby giant or the nearby mammoth
  2. Killing a few random bandits near another pool with nirnroot, not far from a known bandit camp; also fought a random Orc who came up and attacked me, even though I was pretty sure the Orc wasn’t one of the bandits
  3. Killed a Frost Dragon in Falkreath when I fast traveled straight to the town; surprisingly, it didn’t actually kill my horse
  4. Was not able to kill the Ancient Dragon that attacked me when I tried to hunt for nirnroot around the Abandoned Shack I was kidnapped to during the Dark Brotherhood quest
  5. At least once or twice I had a guard go “Whatever you need, Dragonborn, just say the word”, and I totally wanted to go “What I need right now is nightshade, do you have any? How about nirnroot?”
  6. Tracking down an unmarked alchemist’s camp in Falkreath which had a few more nirnroot surrounding it, and which required me to take out a couple of spriggans

Eventually, I was able to get all the ingredients necessary and return to Riften to give them to Ingun Black-Briar. I was rather startled that I wound up getting 2,250 gold for the effort, but I guess that’s a benefit to doing a side quest for Maven Black-Briar’s daughter? Lol.

She also actually gave me a key to her personal ingredients supply chest, which was a nice extra gesture. Not that I actually need to hit her supplies, I have quite the buildup of ingredients myself, but I appreciated her thinking of it.

More about the horse

I discovered that my original assessment of Fort Dawnguard being buggy with the horse not following me there may not have been accurate? Because I also saw that the horse didn’t follow me when I fast traveled directly to either Solitude or Windhelm.

Dara’s theory about this is that fast traveling directly into those cities put me inside the city gates–and inside the city gates, inside their walls, is apparently treated as a different zone than the exterior of the city. So maybe the horse isn’t able to follow me across zones? Maybe it has to stay in “outside” zones? The horse does come with me if I fast travel to the Solitude or Windhelm stables. But if I fast travel to some of the towns who don’t have actual gates, like Winterhold or Falkreath, the horse totally comes with me and I land on the outer edge of the town.

In the case of Fort Dawnguard, it’s not a town, but it does have outer fortifications and a gate. And I’m pretty sure that gate does cause a screen transition when I go through it, though I’ll need to doublecheck that. Dara’s theory seems plausible, though.

The wiki says that if I fast travel to a city with a stable, the horse should land at the stable outside the city… but that didn’t seem to be the case for me, at least when I tried it. So I don’t know if this is a bug with the Switch build or what.

I played some more on practicing riding, as well as combat on horseback, and I did started getting the hang of swinging the sword at oncoming trolls or bears. The trick for how to do this also seems to be maneuvering the horse into a good position so I can be in sword-striking range.

However, in addition to the horse being too easy to kill, she also showed me that she’s prepared to actually attack things that could easily kill her. At least a time or two, after I came out of fast travel and got off the horse, she actually ran off and attacked hostiles. Which made me go HOLD UP HORSE YOU DO NOT HAVE THE HIT POINTS FOR THAT COME BACK!

And that raised questions of hey, can I actually heal my horse? Answer: I can certainly throw my Heal Other spell at her, and that seemed to surround her with the appropriate aura. But I didn’t see a health bar on her at the time so I’m not sure if it actually did anything.

Ultimately though I found that once I started an actual quest–the Dawnguard quest to find that schematic for Sorine–the horse started being a liability. It took too much effort to keep the horse from getting killed while I was searching for the way into the dungeon I needed to reach.

So I decided to try a workaround suggested on the wiki. I went back to Whiterun to park the horse at the stable, and then went out onto the plains to try the Summon Arvak spell I’d gotten in the Soul Cairn.

That let me ride Arvak for a little bit, and cancelled having my horse follow me on fast travel. Because apparently the way it works is that the last horse you rode, whatever horse that was, is the one that follows you. Unless it’s Arvak, who dissipates when you get off of him or after 60 seconds!

(I did not think to take a screencap of Arvak, or Alarrah on Arvak in particular. I will need to do that, because he is cool-looking, being an undead horse and all. But he looks kind of hilarious when you’re riding him across the sunny Whiterun plains, too!)

So now at least I have a way to have my horse available when I want her, and to have her safely housed at Whiterun when I don’t.

Dawnguard side plot

Finally, after all the bouncing around looking for Ingun’s ingredients, I settled in to try to find that schematic that Sorine wanted for her crossbow designs. The quest marker was pointing very near a couple of places I’d been before–Stony Creek Cave, and Ansilvund. But the actual place I needed to get to was Kagrenzel, which is supposed to be east of Ansilvund.

And I had a hard time finding it. At first I thought the quest marker wanted me to go back into Stony Creek Cave, so I spent cycles in there trying to figure out how to get to where I needed to be. Which meant I had a whole new set of bandits to kill in there, and I had one giggle-worthy moment when I killed one who fell ride into the moonstone vein he was mining. Which left his feet sticking out of the vein. (Which I also didn’t think to get a screencap of, damn!)

There’s supposed to be a back way into Kagrenzel from Stony Creek Cave, but the back way is supposed to be accessible only from climbing up into a cave behind a waterfall. And I could not figure out how to get that to work.

So I finally saved the night, and will be picking up from there to look for the actual front way into Kagrenzel next time!

Screenshot

I did get a couple nice screencaps of Solitude one of the times I popped in there, though, when I came in at night and there was an aurora show going on over the city. So here’s that!

Auroras Over Solitude 1
Auroras Over Solitude 1
Auroras Over Solitude 2
Auroras Over Solitude 2

Next time

Breaking into the ruin at Kagrenzel! And if I get another chance to use him, I will totally screencap Arvak the Undead Ghost Horse.