Back to Skyrim

What is winter for? Many things, and one of them is playing Skyrim. Last year in January, I installed Skyrim Special Edition for the first time but quickly gave it up after repeatedly failing to configuring my favourite mods – besides I was busy playing Metro 2033 anyway. Come year 2019. At last, I managed to get the game running with the mods without crashing every second minute. Now, everything I needed was a proper winter weather outside to play with full immersion. Too bad it didn’t happen. Did I mention that I hate the climate change? Oh well.

Not that I’ll let it stop me. If I can’t play with a winter strom blasting outside my windows, I’ll do it with sunshine and birds singing. Spring or not, on this Labour Day of 2019 I’m starting a new playthrough. The main goal is to finally finish the main questline after the two failed attempts in the past. The secondary goal is to explore as much as possible, check out interesting mods, and just enjoy myself.

Meet Giovanni Renzi, my Imperial Dragonborn. To be honest, I didn’t think much about his background and the reason why he decided to cross the border and enter Skyrim. Maybe he was a farmer whose farm got destroyed by the war with the Aldmeri Dominion? A rank-and-file veteran of that war? A commoner without land or trade looking for a better life? Whatever his past was, I imagine him to be a generally decent if pragmatical person, as well as a loyal citizen of the Empire. This means that he will hate the Thalmor, won’t join Ulric, and will absolutely refuse to serve the Daedra or work for the Dark Brotherhood. Of course, there’s always the possibility that at one moment he will snap, say “I’ve seen enough” and join the dark side, just like my Courier Six did in New Vegas. We will see.

Mods, Blood Mods

Every Skyrim fan knows that playing the vanilla version is a very dull experience, so it’s obvious that I’ll have my favourite mods installed.

  • Frostfall – who cares about dragons and daedra when you can die in a sudden snowstorm, just because you forgot to chop some wood and your fingers are too numb to do it now. For me, I think this is an essential mod when playing Skyrim, and I was glad to find out that it’s grown bigger and more complex since my previous playthroughs.
  • Interesting NPCs – Wait, you’re saying I can meet NPCs who actually have something to say and don’t look like extras in a cheap theatre play? Again, I can’t imagine playing without this mod. It’s an impressive project with dozens of well-written, convincing characters, several companions and potential spouses, new locations and professional voice acting. Moreover, the people behind it didn’t have to bother abot ESPB ratings, so it finally introduces some risky themes, like various aspects of human (and inhuman) sexuality, making Skyrim a bit more of a Low Fantasy game and less a Sunday morning cartoon.
  • Cooking in Skyrim – finding new recipes for food and collecting rare ingredients has been my favourite in-game past time since Fallout 3. There are a few different mods for wannabe master chefs out there, but I’m picking up this one for starters, just because it adds some challenge: you can unlock recipes only when reaching a certain character level.
  • Darker Nights – playing Fallout 3 with pitch-black nights was surprisingly fun, so I want to do it again. And those chiaroscuro screenshots look great, too.
  • Friendlier Taverns – a small mod which improves the general look of inns, adds baking ovens and baths, and generally makes them feel really cozy.
  • Immersive Armors – another favourite modification I found during my previous attempts to beat Skyrim. Just as the name says, it adds an impressive selection of new armours to the game and manages to do it in a lore-friendly way.
  • SkyUI and Unofficial Patch – of course. I’m not a masochist.

Rules, Damn Rules

It’s a role-playing game, remember? Setting self-imposed challenges and keeping to them has always worked well for me as a way of suspending the disbelief and making the in-game world more believable. So, here’s a couple of them:

Religious – maybe he’s a Dragonborn, but he still follows the Path of the Gods. As a devout worshipper of the Imperial pantheon, Renzi will make regular offerings at the shrines (the type of offering depending on the deity), venerate the dead (which means absolute disdain for necromancers, and also taking care of human remains), hate the Daedra and their worshippers, and secretly worship Talos, which involves hating the Thalmor not-so-secretly.

Limited Saves – this means saving only when entering a new location or resting for a night. Now fights get more exciting, just because you don’t want to waste that hour of crawling through a Draugr necropolis for nothing, and you can train your self-restraint and patience (rage-quitting).

Hospitality Laws – when entering someone’s property, try to be respectable. If you’re picking their crops or just using their home as a shelter from the storm, be sure to leave a gift on the table. Another measure to make the Skyrim experience more immersive.

Real Time Activities – whether crafting, cooking, or putting up a tent, make sure to hit that Wait button.

And last but not least, I’ll focus on working on the two most important stats:

Deadline? No such thing this time, it’s never worked to me. There’s truth in the old saying that God laughs when you make plans. Still, I want to finish the game in a reasonable time so I can get back to New Vegas. Wish me luck.

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Creative Christmas: Festive Dining with a Geiger Counter

The last few days were pretty busy, but now I’m finally back to the Creative Christmas competition hosted by Kim from the Later Levels blog. The task for today is…

It’s now time to head out to the kitchen to put on your oven gloves and start preparing Christmas dinner. It consists solely of video game food; what’s on the menu?

As someone who spends most of his time in Skyrim looking for bloody leeks to make that delicious soup, I feel that I’m the right person to answer this question. Still, the cuisine of the Nords seems to be a bit too obvious choice. Instead, I have a better idea.

Gamers of the world, rejoice! Hereby, I invite you to…

The Great Postapocalyptic Christmas Dinner

…which is to take place in my cosy underground bunker near the Great Khans‘ territory. Please do not disturb the cazadores.

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We’ll start with some appetisers, of course. Iguana on a stick? Here you go. Some squirrel bits? Be my guest. Or maybe you’re into classic pre-war food? One Blamco Mac’n’Cheese for you.

Now for the main course. Obviously, ordinary food like Squirrel Soup won’t do on this occasion. So what makes a dish so special and unique? Maybe rare ingredients? Then I have something for you.

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Sure, Hearty Soup sounds delicious. You better appreciate that Mole Rats are so hard to find and fresh carrots can only be obtained at the McCarran NCR base. It took me a long walk to get them and I almost got shot as a Legion sympathiser, but everything for my guests.

Like every self-respecting chef, I have this one recipe for a festive dinner. No, I didn’t invent it. Actually, I took it from the still warm corpse of a drug-crazy cannibal raider called Cook-Cook. Maybe he was a monster, but his taste was impeccable. No worries, my version of his (in)famous Fiend Stew includes brahmin meat which means that everyone leaves my little party alive.

Very well, we’re finished with our festive meal. Don’t pay attention to that radiation counter inside your Pip-Boy ticking, I swear it’s safe and even makes food more tasty! Now let’s celebrate with something liquid! There’s that nice saloon in the nearby Goodsprings and I’ve heard they’re going to be open all night long.

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I have this feeling that the morning after Christmas won’t be a pleasant one… Totally worth it!