I’m now to the point in Merawen’s playthrough that I’ve hit about all the unfamiliar stuff I expect to hit with this character. So unless further radiant quests send me to dungeons I haven’t run before, most if not all of Merawen’s coming posts will be territory Alarrah also covered.
What commentary I have in the posts will reflect that accordingly. I’ll focus just on talking about new-to-Merawen stuff.
- Changed my mind about going through Alftand without Jordis even though I knew I was going to have to have her stand guard for now
- Followed the wiki walkthrough because this dungeon is very large
- I don’t think I realized the first time through that there was flammable gas in the hall just before the forge?
- Put Jordis into wait mode at the piston traps
- Did not trigger the spinning blade trap
- Made it past dead elf and orc from the expedition
- Proceeded to evade every Falmer I saw (and also a skeever and a tripwire) while sneaking and often invisible \0/
- The centurion in the final chamber before the stairs down into Blackreach activated when I came closer, even though I was sneaking; I was able to one-shot it from Sneak mode, though \0/
- Saw the last two members of the party fighting; they tried to detect me but couldn’t
- Decided not to fight Umana because she didn’t detect me in sneak anyway, and her spiky shield isn’t interesting enough to me that I wanted it
- Made it into Blackreach, and killed the Dwarven sphere by Sinderion’s lab
- Got into the lab and looted it, and also opened the journal to trigger the crimson nirnroot quest
- Got the crimson nirnroot in the lab, as well as one near the entrance where I came in
- Made it to the tower of Mzark without having to kill anything else
- Got the Elder Scroll, and got the Lexicon transcribed for Septimus
- Also spotted a named skeleton I didn’t remember seeing the first time through: Drokt
- Came out of Blackreach via the lift from the tower; nearby flyby dragon did not attack
- Fast traveled back to Alftand to get Jordis and then sent her home to Solitude to relax (she’d been ever so patiently standing and waiting in the middle of a hellhole of a Dwemer ruin, she gets a frigging raise)
- Went to Riften to sell stuff to Thieves Guild merchants and Tonilia
- Went to Whiterun to sell stuff to Belethor and Arcadia, also made jewelry at Warmaiden’s
- Sold more stuff to Honningbrew Meadery
- Returned to Lakeview Manor to do more crafting, and killed a trio of bandits
- Made some better smithing gear! Dropped a better smithing enchantment on a set of clothes, and a better one as well on the gauntlets I got from the bandits; able to a lot more smithing of various items that way
- Went to Solitude to sell a bunch of things to Gulum-ei, Radiant Raiment, and Bits and Pieces
- Got a couple of interesting weapons from Gulum-ei to destroy for Banish and Paralyze enchantments
- Went to College of Winterhold for level 54 training
- Ancient Dragon killed me in the courtyard yet again; second time through it was a frost breather, and I took it out with my crossbow and a lot of dwarven bolts
- Got all training in
- Boinged back to Septimus to give him the Lexicon and get the Essence Extractor
- Intercepted by Hermaeus Mora on the way out
- Boinged right back to Alftand to get four of the five types of blood samples, and sneak past all the Falmer again for that matter (except for the one already dead one I needed for the sample); got back out again without killing any Falmer!
- Decided to do what I did with Alarrah and just go clear Halted Stream Camp again to get the Dunmer sample, partly for a chance to exercise Heavy Armor
- Returned to Septimus to give him the blood samples; he met his fate as Hermaeus Mora disintegrated him
- I got the Oghma Infinium, and told it to give me the Path of Magic, which leveled me up to 55 (and about halfway through that) with all the +5 boosts to magic-related skills \0/
- Decided this was a good time to go check in with the Dawnguard
- Reported in to Isran, who basically went ‘oh for fuck’s sake, welp we need some help, go find Sorine and Gunmar’
- Conveniently he’s a Heavy Armor trainer, so I paid him for five rounds of training to take care of level 55
Getting the Elder Scroll out of Alftand
Getting through Alftand and into Blackreach played out with only a few variations on how Alarrah did it, namely:
- Being more discerning about which bits of loot I picked up
- Trying to evade rather than kill the Falmer I encountered, unless absolutely necessary
- Got out again without accidentally eating any crimson nirnroot samples
- Came out through the tower exit in Mzark, as opposed to going right back through the dungeon the long way
This let me make it through the dungeon and get out again without being overburdened, yay! And i feel pretty pleased with the achievement of getting through Alftand three times in this session without having to kill a single Falmer. Well okay, two and a half, given that I didn’t have to go down in the Falmer-inhabited parts when I went back for Jordis.
Seriously, given that the game goes out of its way to make it clear to you in two different quests that the Falmer are victims of the Dwemer, I feel like I ought to get an achievement for clearing a dungeon without actually killing any of the Falmer in it. <3 (Or at least I should, if the Switch build gave achievements, which it doesn’t…)
Since I also didn’t fight Umana, the only things I did kill in this dungeon were Dwarven automata.
(Side note: Umana, you just gonna stand there in the dungeon for the rest of your existence? Go home, woman! I kind of wish the game would give me an option to guide her the hell out of the dungeon, rather than her being actively hostile to me. Which she would have been if she’d actually spotted me.)
In the Tower of Mzark, I also found a named skeleton I hadn’t seen with Alarrah: Drokt. And only when I adjusted the color on the screenshot of the poor guy’s remains did I see he had a book under his skull. The wiki says this was his journal, which would have provided a bit of a clue about how to use the oculory! Oh well, nice to know that’s there anyway, even if belatedly.
And oh yeah, I forgot to mention in the highlights above: at some point during Alftand/Blackreach (I forget where exactly I found it), I finally found an Amulet of Mara, the first time in this game!
Which means now I can think about who I might want to have Merawen propose to!
Finishing up the Discerning the Transmundane quest went more or less like it had with Alarrah, including not bothering with the “I’m not your champion, you vile monster” dialogue options with Hermaeus Mora.
The game seems to really, really want to make out Hermaeus Mora to be a horrible monster, both here and later on in Dragonborn where he’s a driving force of the plot too. But compared to the other Daedra, I have a hard time buying him as a horrible monster just because he prefers non-humanoid forms with all the writhing tentacles and eyes and things. Sure, he looks Lovecraftian, but he also doesn’t ask the Dragonborn to do anything really horrific like some of the other Daedra do–like, say, beating a priest to death, or killing people who are loyal to you, and such.
Plus, with Merawen in particular, I figure Mora’s not as scary to her as he might have been somebody of another race. He’s not one of the Daedra actively worshipped in Morrowind, neither one of the Reclamations nor one of the House of Troubles. But my feeling for this says that Merawen would probably categorize him the same as the Daedra of the House of Troubles: i.e., maybe not actively worshipping him, but not going out of her way to antagonize him, either. And appeasing him when she can, within reason.
So far, his behavior to her qualifies as “within reason”. Barely. Zapping poor Septimus into dust was still an asshole move, Mora. Maybe try not to drive your champions crazypants if you want them to keep being useful to you?
Back to the Dawnguard
Since I’ve gotten to the plot in the flow where I wanted to jump back to Dawnguard for a while, that’s what I did after getting the Oghma Infinium. And it was nice to remember that oh yes, right, Isran is a Heavy Armor trainer! And I was hoping to work on boosting that skill!
So now that’s a new thing I can do with Dawnguard this time through. And it was amusing to get Isran’s line when I asked him for training: “At least you’re smart enough to want to learn more.”
Another new thing, which you can see in the screenshot I took of Isran, is that he had a spell called Stendarr’s Aura active while I was talking to him. I’d come up on Castle Dawnguard in the middle of a scripted attack from vampires, a thing I remembered from my first playthrough. While that was happening, Isran cast this spell, and the effect remained in place even as I chatted with him.
Looked pretty nifty and I did not recognize it, so I looked it up and saw on Isran’s page that Stendarr’s Aura is a spell that throws a light that can damage undead. Plus, you can also use it as a light source in dark dungeons. Cool. I need to see about acquiring this spell. :D
I’m now at level 55 with Merawen. By comparison, when Alarrah got the Oghma Infinium, she was level 51. From what I see in Alarrah’s playthrough posts, she was done with Dawnguard by the time she hit level 55.
So I’m now past the point where Alarrah defeated Alduin, levels-wise. It’ll be interesting to see where I’m at when I hit level 62 with this alt.
Also, Alarrah’s playthrough started on April 17th, and I finished Dawnguard and hit level 55 with her as of July 15th. So that’s just a couple days shy of three months.
By contrast, Merawen’s gone the same amount of levels in just a few days over a month. So I’ve done the same amount of leveling up in about a third of the time! And that’s even with dropping a whole new major plotline, the Thieves Guild, into Merawen’s playthrough.
And with Merawen’s difficulty setting up a notch from Alarrah’s. This is, I feel, a nice indicator of how I’ve got a lot more comfortable playing this game!
Probably going to go find Sorine and Gunmar to move the Dawnguard plot along a little further. Which ought to let me get to the point of Serana being in play again!
I want to not blaze through Dawnguard quite so quickly this time through. There are a bunch of Dawnguard radiant quests I didn’t do with Alarrah, and for the sake of doing a few new things still, it’d be nice to do them with Merawen!