In Which Delga Escapes from Bloodskal Barrow and Finds More Schematics for the Dawnguard

This post is for play done while my house internet was down, and accordingly, I posted the first version of this to Dreamwidth directly without crossposting. The Dreamwidth version of this post is here.

This is my Skyrim play session from the night of Friday 1/7, in which Delga and her housecarl Calder finish their quest through Bloodskal Barrow! And with a side helping of finding a couple more schematics for Sorine of the Dawnguard. (Which by definition required going back to the mainland for a little while!)

Highlights

  • Took three tries to make it through the flooded chamber with the waterfall; see commentary below
  • Cleared the second stalhrim deposit behind the waterfall
  • Cleared the spellcaster trap with the shock soul gem
  • Made it to Graetian’s remains and got the Bloodskal Blade
  • Had to look up how to do horizontal power slashes again but got that done and got the puzzle door open
  • Made it slowly past all the swinging blades, giving Calder time to catch up with me after each, though I also had to heal him a couple of times
  • Made it to, and cleared, the final chamber with the dragon priest Zahkriisos; took him out and got his mask
  • Ran the Winds of Change Apocrypha level in the Black Book; took Companion’s Insight power
  • Cleared the rest of Bloodskal Barrow with Calder and a side helping of flame atronach
  • Cleared the boss chest there and got the schematic for Sorine
  • Overloaded by the time I got out
  • LOL Calder picked up one of my dragonbone arrows and now he’s shooting dragonbone arrows, awesome, infinite dragonbone arrows!
  • Cleared the towers outside, and I got the red Dunmer outfit there
  • Got on Arvak to ride back to Raven Rock
  • Passed the Deathbrand locale on the way back and killed the reavers there, since they attacked us; got the Deathbrand armor from the chest
  • Made it back to Raven Rock and sold a bunch of things to Glover, Milore, and Fethis
  • Reported back to Glover that I had the pickaxe and he let me keep it
  • Finished up handing out the sujamma
  • Reported back to Crescius and gave him the journal
  • Still overloaded so went back outside the gate and called up Arvak again
  • Fast traveled to Windhelm and then to Fort Dawnguard
  • Got five rounds of Smithing training from Gunmar to get to 79
  • Dropped off the schematic with Sorine
  • Got quest for final schematic
  • Also bought the new crossbow type off of Sorine and sold her my old one
  • Did a little smithing to go over the 80 mark so I can reactivate ebony smithing next level up; improved the new crossbow, and most of my stalhrim stuff with the six stalhrim bits I got from running the mine and the barrow
  • Made some more exploding crossbow bolts :D
  • Arvak’d to Riften to sell stuff
  • Courier! Calcelmo is all ‘hey about that exploding Dwemer bolt of fire, it’s shiny and i want it’
  • Dropped off all books in inventory at Honeyside to fill most of the shelves there
  • Sold stuff to Bersi and Balimund
  • Went out southern gate because Broken Helm Hollow, locale for new schematic, was actually nearby
  • However, surprise dragon! Took it out with the new crossbow
  • Attracted surprised gawkers from nearby farm, and also Imperial soldiers
  • Overloaded again with dragon bits! Dammit I just whittled down the carry weight XD
  • Discovered Nightingale Hall nearby and sigh can’t go in there this session :D
  • Decided to go visit Heartwood Mill before going to Broken Helm Hollow because Grosta has a mini-quest to locate her husband there
  • Got on Arvak to ride over
  • Calder killed a wolf en route
  • Passed three Imperials
  • Found a mercenary in hard battle with multiple creatures that turned out to be two cave bears and two frostbite spiders, and THEN a giant stomped over and got in on the action (probably distracted from beating up on Largashbur)
  • The mercenary didn’t make it unfortunately, but Calder and I took out all opposition
  • Made it over to the mill
  • Waited until morning to speak to Grosta even though her kid stands around at all hours
    (just because going in her house at night? Rude!)
  • Got Grosta’s mini-quest to go find her husband, then got back on Arvak to ride over there
  • Went around Riften to get to Broken Helm Hollow
  • Calder took out a troll, well done there Calder
  • Passed three more Imperials
  • Made it to Broken Helm Hollow
  • Called up a wrathman to help Calder lead the charge, since I was overloaded
  • Took out the two bandits outside, then headed into the hideout to get the rest of them
  • Found the final schematic in the boss chest, and also found poor dead Leifnarr
  • Went back out and re-Arvak’d to fast travel back to Grosta
  • ‘Found your husband, he’s kinda dead?’
  • ‘Oh shit, I totally he thought he was being unfaithful, well don’t I feel stupid!’
  • She gave me an enchanted weapon
  • Boinged back to Fort Dawnguard
  • Got the final crossbow from Sorine \0/
  • Sold more things to her and Gunmar to get rid of the acquired loot
  • Sold dragon bits to Florentius and bought Vampire’s Bane spell from him! I didn’t get that last time through!
  • Improved the crossbow up to Legendary \0/
  • Potion’d up to fast travel back to Solstheim and resume Dragonborn business
  • Spent a bit of time borrowing Milore’s outdoor alchemy table to burn through built up backlog of ingredients
  • Went into the netch to report to Geldis that I’d handed out his sujamma
  • Sold more things to Glover, Milore, and Fethis once it was daylight again
  • LOL Calder triggered the ‘Hello ladies, can a big strong man help you with anything’ conversation with Milore and Mirri of all people
  • Does this mean Calder goes for Dunmer girls? Lolololol
  • (Don’t get too interested in Mirri there, boyo, we’re gonna take her out later)
  • Finally got reasonably mobile again and headed out to go look for the folio
  • Passed the captain at the farm fighting the ash spawn so triggered that quest too
  • Got his quest to go check out Fort Frostmoth
  • But went to go get the folio first; overloaded again with loot from that
  • Returned to raven rock to return the folio
  • Ash spawn attacking the Bulwark when we got there! So I called up a frost atronach, and the atronach and Calder did well taking out our opposition
  • Then headed into the town
  • Returned the folio to Cindiri and got a Circlet of Illusion for the reward
  • Sold more things to Glover and Fethis
  • Saved for the night

Running Bloodskal Barrow

Playing on standard default “Adept” difficulty certainly continues to show itself in this playthrough, because it took a surprising number of times for me to make it through a particularly crunchy part of Bloodskal Barrow: the flooded area with a waterfall in the back, and multiple tiers of floor from which it is super easy for draugr deathlords to shoot at you.

And I say “surprising”, because it turned out that there were only maybe three draugr deathlords in that part of the dungeon? Maybe four tops? So Calder and I were outnumbered, but no more so than we’d been earlier in the dungeon fighting five or six draugr of various types at once.

The difference here appeared to be those multiple tiers in the place, which gave the draugr above us free rein to shoot at us. So after the first disastrous attempt that led to Calder getting killed in the previous session, I tried three more times in this one, because two of them resulted in my getting killed.

I tried various strategies to deal with this. Notably, summoning either atronachs or a wrathman to go in ahead of me didn’t help, not when I was shortly behind my summoned beasties and still within easy range of getting shot down by arrow fire.

What did finally work though was a combo strategy:

  1. Casting Ironflesh on myself
  2. Giving Calder a boatload of my healing potions, not the crafted ones but the bought ones, because he can use those
  3. Not charging in immediately, but picking off draugr deathlords via archery, as close to the door as possible
  4. Making the flame atronach be my summoned beastie of choice because they can throw fire

(As I write this though I remember I can also summon bonemen and they are archers. Remember this, Future Me! This may come in handy later!)

So that cleared out the three deathlords and let us get in farther unhindered.

Past that point, there were still challenges to get through the place.

So here’s another note for Future Me: remember how to do horizontal power attacks, dammit! Wield the Bloodskal Blade, park where you want to be, start moving either left or right with the controls, then hit the attack button.

Also, I’d just like to say I MEAN HONESTLY about that gauntlet of swinging blade traps you have to get through before you reach the boss chamber with the dragon priest. Seven sets of blades, with three blades in each set, for a total of twenty-one swinging blades.

<insert Sigourney Weaver yelling THIS EPISODE IS BADLY WRITTEN here>

This is definitely the most challenging trap for me anywhere in Skyrim, either in the main plot or in the DLCs. Not for me personally, because getting the Dragonborn past swinging blades is fairly trivial if you have the Become Ethereal Shout. But getting your follower past the damn things is another story.

What I’ve found works best is to just take your time ducking past them, and make damn sure your follower is well armored as they try to follow you. Bonus if you’ve given them a boatload of potions, and/or you have the appropriate spells to heal them.

Telling them to stay put on the far end of the gauntlet while you go through it doesn’t work, either, because there’s no way to deactivate the damn traps and they’re activated by proximity!

So it’s either, you take your damn sweet time going through the gauntlet and monitor your follower after each set of three blades. Or, you just don’t bring a follower into this dungeon at all.

This time through, it occurred to me that “y’know, while fighting a dragon priest who does shock damage, maybe it would be a good idea for me to NOT BE IN THE WATER”. Fortunately I realized this before he managed to kill me, but I had a couple of close calls and burned through a lot of potions.

Running the Winds of Change Apocrypha level

While running the Winds of Change level in Apocrypha for this dungeon’s Black Book, it was amusing to think about Delga’s take on Hermaeus Mora. I think she’s definitely more hostile to him than Alarrah or Merawen, and yet, here she is venturing into Apocrypha, and approaching the part of the plot where she’ll have to cut a bargain with him if she wants to take down Miraak.

To think about this with the “Delga is a cinnamon roll” part of the narrative, I think the justification here might be, Delga’s appalled that Hermaeus Mora just up and disintegrated poor Septimus for no damn good reason. “Because he’s no longer useful to me” is not justification for killing him, and that will have left a really bad impression with her that the events of the Dragonborn plot are not really going to alleviate.

Alarrah and Merawen, I think, were more practical about it and coming at this from a standpoint of “he’s a powerful Daedra and it’s probably a good idea not to piss him off, so be diplomatic as possible”. Delga might ordinarily be diplomatic (because cinnamon roll), but her moral compass re: the death of Septimus calls for her reaction there to be stronger.

I think her reaction is probably atypical for Orcs, too. The game gives good reason to believe that Orc culture in general, because it favors strength and usefulness, would probably just shrug at Septimus going poof. Delga, though, is clearly not a typical Orc. So i feel like I have leeway here for her to be a lot more appalled about this than more typical examples of her people might be.

All that said? It was kind of hilarious coming into the Winds of Change level and getting Hermaeus Mora’s greeting, all about the “sate your appetite for all my tasty forbidden knowledge” temptation. And Delga’s thinking, “Look, tentacle beast, I think you think I’m way more interested in all these scary black books than I actually am…”

And then of course she gets to the part where she opens up the Black Book and gets to choose a power off of it. LOL. I took Companion’s Insight again, just because not damaging my followers when I’m throwing around area attacks is helpful!

Dawnguard interlude

It feels weird going back to the Skyrim mainland in the middle of doing Solstheim activity. Because once the Dragonborn knows what’s going on with Miraak, it makes little narrative sense to go “but hey, hold that thought, I gotta run back to the mainland for a few days game time and go drop off this schematic with people at Fort Dawnguard, y’all will be okay while I’m gone, right?”

And yet. As I’ve written before, this is kind of the consequence of an open-world game you can play in any order you damn well please. Narrative cohesion? Pfpfpbpt. Not a priority!

That said: I did want to go ahead and take care of delivering that schematic to Sorine as well as getting the last one for her. Because the locale for that, Broken Helm Hollow, was practically next door to Fort Dawnguard. So it made sense to deal with that before returning to Solstheim.

And now I have the best possible crossbow! And the knowledge that it’s possible to run Sorine’s schematic quests in Dawnguard without doing the side quests I don’t like! So that’s good to know for the future.

Returning to Solstheim

After doing the interlude for the schematics, I did have at least a little time to get back to Solstheim in this session and resume activity there.

Which led to the amusing sight of Calder hitting on Mirri and Milore! Because he and they fit into the conversational template that the wiki says goes like this:

FemaleSultry: “Hello.”
FemaleNord: “Oh, hi, I’m glad I ran into you. I was wondering if…”
MaleNord: “Hello, ladies! Is there anything a big strong man can do for you this fine day?”
FemaleSultry: “I don’t know. If you see any big strong men around, let us know, will you?”
Females: <Laughter>
MaleNord: “Harpies, every one of them.”
FemaleSultry: “Oh, come now. Don’t go away mad.”

And, well, lolololol. I think Delga must have watched this little exchange with eyebrows up, and trying not to burst into giggles. And possibly also evaluating whether this particular housecarl of hers is, in fact, kinda hot.

Last but not least, doing Cindiri’s folio quest for her and having the opportunity to help Captain Veleth with the ash spawn established good setup for the action of the next session!

Next time

Stand by for deets on how Delga and Calder clear Fort Frostmoth for Captain Veleth! And then go straight into foiling an assassination plot against Councilor Morvayn!

Screenshots

Got quite a few screenshots for this round of play!

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