Return To Oblivion
Emperor Mittens will see you now
ForewordWell, here we are again. It took rather longer than I'd hoped, not least because of Fallout 3, STALKER and Dragon Age (none of which have really yielded enough material to bother writing about yet) but I am finally happy enough with Oblivion to write what I hope will be a worthwhile followup.
At some point I'll also tackle the Knights-of-the-Nine mission, but frankly I've procrastinated enough already and I want to get Shivering Isles out of the way first, otherwise it'd be another year late.
The Daedric Quests
NocturnalThe Nocturnal quest is pretty straightforward. She doesn't seem to want much in the way of bribes, but you do have to be a certain level. When you're able to talk to her, you will be sent to find her eye, which has somehow been stolen by two Argonians and hidden somewhere.
The culprits are Weebam'Na and his mate, Breech, Bretch, Bitch or something like that. Even at full bribery they refuse to admit that they've taken it or discuss the matter at all.
Given that you're representing a god, the typical Old Testament approach for this situation would be to kill the woman as an example and thereby loosen the tongue of the husband, but this does not work and the game will fail the mission if either of the two is dead (because of course it is only possible to ask the both of them, not just one).
What you must do instead is to eavesdrop on them while they're discussing the orb. If they see you they will end the conversation in a shockingly crass manner that is only one step up from "We must not talk about Tidewater Cave where we have hidden Nocturnal's Eye!".
Having read that vital piece of information in the walkthrough, you might be able to skip this bit and go straight to the cave, but I haven't tried that since I had forgotten the exact location myself at the time. Once the Eye is in your possession it is unfortunately not possible to sell it back to them, but then again, the Lockpick of Nocturnal is one of the most incredibly useful Daedric items in the game anyway.
Once the Eye is returned to its rightful owner, you will not be able to discuss the matter with Weebam'Na and his woman at all. Contrary to previous instances in the Elder Scrolls lore, Nocturnal is evidently in a good mood because she never seems to punish the pair for their blasphemous impudence.
I know what you did last summer
AzuraAzura is supposedly one of the nicer Daedra, but she still has a price. Specifically drugs - she will not talk to you except at dawn or dusk, and you have to bribe her with an offering of coke (known on the street as 'glow-dust'). When she is sufficiently high as to be able to talk intelligibly to a mere mortal, she will tell you to go and massacre some of her faithful servants.
The pretext for this is that they were hunters who caught the vampire disease and entombed themselves, but this seems a little improbable to me since the disease is curable by taking a Cure Disease potion within three days of the initial infection. Okay, maybe they were stupid and didn't bring any, and maybe all this happened before those were invented, but since praying within that time period will also cure it, the only sensible conclusion is that Azura knew full well and wouldn't lift a finger to save them.
Once they're dead, she will give you her Star, the famous reusable soul-gem (which however, cannot trap NPCs). Note that if you have black soul gems, the game will attempt to use these in preference to the Star, so be careful not to waste them.
Boethia's Tournament of the Ten BloodsBefore He will speak to you, Boethia demands a sacrifice of a Daedra heart. This was a bit of a problem because the only Daedra I had so far met was in Varondo and was now very dead and furthermore quite heartless.
I brought U a Daedra heart... ...but I eated it.
There are several solutions to this (which don't include visiting Kvatch). There's a dried one lying around on a desk in Ceyatatar and you can also buy these from certain wholesalers. If you want a fresh one, there is also the great Daedric God Peyote whose followers have stupidly managed to damn their own souls to Oblivion. Rescuing them therefore provides handy access to more Daedra enemies to de-heart. However you get one, try not to eat it this time.
Once the heart business is sorted out, Boethia will only deign to talk to you if you're level 20 or more. This was a problem for my spellsword, Mittens, who was level 19. In this instance Mittens was low on Block, so I used the Lover's Kiss power to knock out Boethia's immortal High Follower and pickpocketed him as he recovered. This drove him into a fury and so he drew his sword and attempted to murder me.
I blocked his attacks until I was levelled up and then walked down the mountain. He disappeared for a bit before suddenly leaping off the mountain and landing in an unconscious heap a couple of feet in front of my face, Morrowind-style.
Once you have spoken to Boethia, He will demand that you fight nine representatives of the other races to prove yourself and your kind. A portal opens and you end up in an Oblivion plane containing a ring of islands separated by bridges. The idea is that you go around them anticlockwise - the opposite gates are held shut by Boethia's Divine Will. It is, however, easy enough for a reasonably skilled Khajiit acrobat to jump around them with only a short dip into the lava and take on Boethia's opponents in clockwise order, so I did.
Boethia isn't very good at controlling people's fate
If this isn't enough, it is also fun to avoid fighting the contestants directly and instead goading them towards the edge of the lava and pushing them in. This is particularly effective for opponents without ranged weapons, but is achievable in most cases and is likely a very far cry from what the Daedric Prince had intended.
Since the gates won't actually open because we're doing it backwards, you can stand in front of the gap between the two gates and jump around to attract their attention. When your foe is on the other side of the gate, jump around in the lava (casting healing spells or chugging health potions) and your opponent should fall in to their death.
Looting the corpses is a lot harder since they'll be floating in a pool of hot death and some of the weapons will have sunk to the lava floor, but it is certainly possible with a sufficiently large quantity of healing potions or spells.
There can be only one
Clavicus VileNotwithstanding the slight problem that she's a horrifically dangerous soul-devouring monster, it is possible to attack Umbra at any point in the game, whether you have spoken to Mr. Vile or not. If you are sufficiently buff at athletics and speed, you may just be able to outrun her. If possible, lead her to a guard or two - she will then attack them instead, which should result in her being opened up like a can of spam and possibly one or two soul-dead guards to be stripped down for armour.
Otherwise, you'll have to fight her. It has been suggested to me that - particularly with an Argonian character - it is possible to push her into the gas-trap inside Vindasel while she is still friendly, and keep talking to her until she pegs it, but I have not been able to make this work myself so far.
Once this is done you can pick out the sword and armour, and go about your merry way. From here on you have two choices - if you really, really like Umbra, you can keep it and sacrifice the unicorn to Hircine instead. If you prefer to keep the unicorn, you'll have to sacrifice the sword to Vile - you can skip one of the quests (by foul means) but no more than that, otherwise you'll never get to read Hermaeus Mora's lovely Book O' Power.
There is a potential problem here, in that if you come straight to Mr. Vile with the sword, he will tell you to go and find it. Then, afterwards, you can talk to him again and magically have just found the sword.
The trouble is that a few seconds after the first conversation, the game will pop up a message informing you that you have 'found' Umbra. If this popup appears while Vile is in the middle of talking to you, the conversation will seize up and you will have to reload.
PeyritePeyrite is the great dragon god of order and seems to be a pretty nice guy. Sadly, his followers are incompetent and have managed to steal their own souls. You will find them standing immobile in a ring just in front of the shrine. Some people use them for combat training as they will not fight back and cannot die.
Peyrite doesn't want any bribes, he just wants you to go into Oblivion and rescue the souls of his embarrassingly retarded worshippers. Once this is done, he is extremely pleased and gives you a phenomenally expensive shield of reflection.
It is possible to push Peyrite's followers into the river, but they will warp out of it again when their souls are restored.
"Your mission is to bring me replacement followers, this time with central nervous systems."
Vaermina and ArkvedVaermina wants a Black Soul Gem. That's easy, Mittens had a dozen or so. I gave her one with a free necromancer inside it just because I was feeling really generous.
Once you've bribed her, Vaermina will send you to recover her orb from some guy named Arkved, who has nicked it. Once you've done this an exit hatch appears - sadly it is hidden until that point otherwise we could save a lot of time.
Once you do find Arkved, you should find on and around his desk three bits of diary, written in varying degrees of insanity. Arkved himself is asleep.
It is possible to slay him or even steal his soul, and paralyse him (which makes him sleep standing up instead) but you can't awaken him.
...unless you use the RESURRECT command on the console, which will respawn him in a fully conscious state. He doesn't say much (chiefly because this is absolutely not supposed to happen) but you can ask him about rumours. Asking him about The Horror is impossible, unfortunately.
"This one speaks! A welcome change."
By punching him, it is almost possible to rescue Arkved, leading him out into reality. Sadly, if you then yield to stop him hitting you, he will turn around and march straight back into the chamber of eternal torment (even if you destroy the trapdoor on the command line).
"This one fights back and summons zombies! A welcome change."
Meridia - Daedric Princess of ScotlandThis is pretty straightforward. Meridia wants you to sacrifice some zombies to her (though she can be fooled with any old pieces of zombie found lying around). Once she is appeased, she then sends you to massacre a bunch of evil Necromancers in Howling Cave. This is the sort of thing I usually do when bored, so it's no real challenge. You will get a remarkably large quantity of potions out of it, though.
As a reward you will be given the Ring of the Khajiit.
Molag BalMolag Bal (who sounds like a Khajiit when he talks) wants you to find some guy he doesn't like at Brindle Home and make him break his holy vow by attacking you. The idea is that you give him a special mace to kill you with, and then Bal will resurrect you afterwards.
This sounds horribly similar to a certain trap in Eye of the Beholder II, where you were conned into letting the entire party be killed on the pretext that it was necessary to stop Dran being able to track your souls. However, Mr. Bal does actually keep his word in this.
What is more fun is if you run away from the guy while he's attacking you with the mace, and make your way to Dive Rock, since Bal is only waiting for you to die or have a near death experience and isn't really paying attention to how that happens. So you can if you prefer, jump off the cliff to your doom in the sure knowlege of resurrection once your body has been converted into something akin to fishpaste. Molag Bal does not comment on this.
From here you can see half the dungeons and ruins in Cyrodiil. Even when it's snowing.
MalacathMalacath has already been dealt with to some extent in my short film, "Blood and Souls for Malacath". What can be fun, aside from the traditional trick of burglarising Drad's house, is leading guards from the mine into the house, so Drad and his wife kill them for you.
MephalaMephala wants you to go to Bleakers way and frame both clans there for murdering each other. This is straightforward enough, but there is an interesting twist.
If you come back after the quest has been completed and massacre all the survivors at a later date, the quest will have been won twice and by this means, you will have two Daedric Quests completed for the price of one.
This is significant not only in that it means one less quest to complete before Herbadacious Mora will speak to you, but more importantly it means that you can skip any other quest if you don't want it, for example, if you would rather keep Umbra to yourself or leave the Unicorn alive.
Be aware, if you do this, that you must skip one quest, or at least wait until after Mora has been dealt with before finishing up. The reason for this is that the Mora will activate if the quests counter reads a certain number, and no other. If you did too many quests, He won't speak to you.
NamiraNamira is a slut who will only speak to other sluts. Therefore you need to undergo personality removal prior to approaching the shrine. The quickest and easiest way to achieve this, if you have the readies, is to obtain the Document of Puerile Banter (from the First Edition if I remember right). A custom personality-drain spell should work too, though.
Once you are all slutted out, approach the shrine, and go into the proscribed cave using her spell of darkness to cause the death of the missionaries.
If, like me, you aren't terribly happy about the idea in the first place, you can hurry and pretend that Mittens is doing this under the influence of the Banter scroll. I cheated and resurrected the missionaries anyway, using the console commands. Namira didn't notice.
SanguineSanguine is fun, but not terribly easy to abuse. The party is at 6pm every night, and you cannot follow the Countess in, you have to dress in fine clothes and maybe sweeten the guards up with a spell or two.
Irritatingly you cannot cast Stark Reality on the guards too, which would not only make things more fun, but also make it a lot harder for them to arrest you.
When arrested, you have no money to pay the fine, so your only sensible option is to make a run for it and pay the bounty at a later date when you can. You don't get any infamy for any of this.
HircineMy original plan for this quest was to use the Mephala Principle in order to avoid killing the unicorn so that I could use her(?) as a mount. Fortunately I found and mounted the unicorn while the quests were still ongoing, as this soon proved to be a very bad decision.
Tell me, when did you first have doubts about the unicorn's intelligence?
While the unicorn is happy to let you ride her, she will make her way back to the grove if left unattended. This on one occasion resulted in her being killed while attempting to return from a cave near Bruma - I actually had to approach Hircine in order to get a line on where she was and only by doing this did I locate the corpse.
Suicidal tendencies aside, what really proved to be a problem was when the unicorn began attacking random strangers. This is a known problem, but turned out to be far more severe than I remembered from last time. "Fair enough," I figured, "Take the unicorn back to the grove and leave her there, happy and safe".
This did not work, and the unicorn would turn up out of nowhere each time I fast-travelled, even if I carefully tied the unicorn up in Bruma, sneaked to Bravil on foot and fast-travelled to Anvil.
When the unicorn spazzed out in the middle of the forest and massacred three passing deer for no satisfactorily explained reason, I began to express certain doubts. When she began to pick off the survivors of Kvatch one at a time, I realised that the only viable option was to kill the evil little bitch and sell her horn to Hircine. This I did at the stables of Anvil while the stable hand looked on impassively - if I do need to resurrect her for another try, well, she won't have gone far.
There will be no survivor, my friend.
SheogorathAfter the unicorn proved that it was impossible to take her anywhere, I decided instead to skip the Sheogorath shrine instead of Hircine's, so that I could have fun talking to the statue at various points later during Shivering Isles.
If there's one thing the new Madgod loves, it's yarn. Especially wound into a ball.
Hermaeus MoraOnce the correct number of quests have been done, and once the main quest is at least as far as 'Blood of the Daedra', the followers of Herbadacious Mora will allow you to speak to him. Their god will tell you that His followers wish to perform a divination, and that for this they require the souls of men.
Specifically, you must murder ten people, one from each race, and rob them of their immortal souls as an offering to Him. Precisely what happens to these unfortunate souls is not made clear - whether they are destroyed to be utilised as an energy source or whether one of each race is necessary because they will be placed in some kind of simulation is something that Mittens did not wish to enquire about.
Finding a source of souls is tricky if you are burdened by such things as a conscience. The Necromancers are an obvious choice, since they are into soul-stealing anyway. That should net you Breton and Altimer souls as the very least, possibly also Imperial and Dunmer too, but I'm not certain.
Between them and the vampires you should be able cover everyone except for the beastfolk (though stealing the soul of an Imperial Legionary out in the middle of nowhere has a certain bent appeal to it also).
There are Argonian bowmen and Khajiit bandits available (please don't use the highwaymen, they are a highly endangered species) but even then I wasn't sure I really wanted to kill them quite that thoroughly or permanently.
In the end I used Dar-Jee in Leyawiin after he tried to tell me one too many of his Khajiit jokes. This did not go down terribly well with the authorities and I had to use my Thieves' Guild contacts to sort out the mess. For the Khajiit soul, I reluctantly chose a particularly rabid female bandit outside the Doomed Mine near Dark Fissure.
Alternatively, there is a certain justice in sacrificing the followers of Mora to their own god - thus destroying the very people who ordered the divination in the first place - but Mora either doesn't seem to realise or care. The prize is a book of power that can increase your skills past their normal limits, a handy thing indeed.
If you have not done the Fort Grief quest in Bravil, now might be a good time, since if ever there was a good candidate for feeding to Hermaeus Mora, Kurgha the Orc has to be on the shortlist.
As an aside it is interesting to note that while you can't stop Mr. Loche from being killed, it is possible, with a suitably powerful death-spell, to blast Kurgha to atoms immediately afterwards. If this is done before he has a chance to talk to you, Mr. Keeneye and the Argonian dude will never show up, so you don't have to fight them.
Mehrunes' EraserSince this is mildly obscure compared to the other stuff, I should probably take time to mention that Mehrunes Razor is a fun add-on mission which can either be downloaded (for money) or obtained via the Knights-of-the-Nine collection CD (also for money).
Once properly installed, you will hear rumours of some nice goodies at Fort Sundercliffe on the far east border of the map, even if you happen to be on the top of a mountain, swimming in the sea or trapped inside Paradise at the time.
When you get there you discover that it has been taken over by a bunch of very well-equipped Dark Elves intent on killing the Emperor. The Emperor is already dead, but since they're basically a bunch of illegal immigrants who have spent the last couple of years working in a mine, they won't have heard about that yet.
The underground village of Sundercliffe
Goodies are kept inside rabbit hutches for no obvious reason
Once you've slaughtered your way down to the main underground village area, you'll find a jail. Inside is an assassin who has been sent to kill someone, but no-one quite knows who and he isn't telling. You basically have two choices if you free him - kill him (and steal his lovely expensive Morag Tong armour), or follow him to his victim, which is kind of cool.
I just let him go and kill whoever he wanted and reused the jailhouse as a loot dump. Practically anyone you kill at Mittens' level will have Daedric or Ebony goodies which are as heavy as they are expensive. All told, the add-on netted me a little over 100'000 gold coins worth of armour and weapons when sold at Anvil, which could have been a lot more had I not wanted to keep the more exotic goodies for myself.
You will need to open a magic door to the Alyeid Ruins using two magic keys. Obtaining these will involve more massacres, including The Forgemaster inside the mining complex.
For some reason the oppressed workers (Khajiits and Argonians) will not ignore you or ask for your help in freeing them from their unending slavery in the mines, but will take up their hoes or whatever instruments they have to hand and defend their persecutors. Since they're weak and unarmoured I didn't really want to kill them and basically boxed them into the mine complex using a secret door and some AI glitches.
Through the Magic Door, you'll have a corridor with a window in it - there's a view outside of the ruins and some guys running around. Curious, I used the cheat mode to look outside, particularly since the guys had all gone through a door and never come out again. The door actually leads to "UNUSED CELL" - a curious place with a small chunk of concrete, which displays the words "You should not be here" when you move around it.
Anyway, once you're inside the Ayleid Ruins proper, the Elf Army will do battle with a bunch of vampires, and there is a maze of caves leading you up to your final objective, the Nefaravigium or something like that.
That's the idea, anyway - but anyone even semi-skilled at Acrobatics should have little difficulty in just climbing up to the entrance by jumping around the place for a while.
Inside the Nefarium or whatever it was, you'll find some glowing red walls (always bad) and some corpses. Unlike the proper Drothari army veterans (or even raw recruits), who are agleam with top-of-the-line Daedric weapons, these poor sods were given only cheap leathers and iron daggers, which presumably explains why they are dead and the others are not. Or weren't until I came along, anyway.
Finally you will encounter Father Drothan himself, who is trying to figure out how to get at Mehrune's Razor, the fantastic weapon after which the expansion pack is named, and which is the main reason we're doing this.
For those who don't know, this weapon has an 8000 point enchantment on it. It has an approximately 10% chance of killing someone instantly and sending their soul straight to Mehrunes Dagon. It comes in very handy, though it may take a number of strokes before the enchantment takes (and it doesn't work on Essential NPCs). It even keeps a helpful count of how many people you've sacrificed to Mr. Dagon
But I digress. What I did while Frathan was humming and ha'ing about how to reach the dagger was simply to run past him, force open the door with my bare hands (or failing that, a strength spell), and steal the dagger from its hiding place.
Doing this kind of upsets Drothan, but I figured that since he really, really wanted to have the dagger, I should give it to him (in the chest).
Mehrunes wants you for a sunbeam
Finally, there is an exit from the Nefavarium to an underwater exit in the nearby lake. Sadly this exit requires a key, so it is not possible to enter the ruins directly via the back exit - not without using the console or similar cheating, anyway.
For Mittens, this mission made a nice little holiday away from the Mages' Guild while Traven and the others were busy with the Council meeting, and the dagger itself made short work of Mannimarco when all was said and done.
JPM: How goes things? RG: Not bad. RG: What about you? JPM: I had a cool idea for Oblivion while cleaning the bathroom. JPM: However I spotted James and am catching up with him at the moment. RG: Ah. RG: What was the idea, though? JPM: When Traven steals his own soul, he uses himself to create an enchanted gem to protect you against Mannimarco enslaving you. JPM: This is a quest object and so cannot be dropped, JPM: ...but it is, IIRC possible to stow them in corpses. JPM: So I want to see if Mittens gets enslaved and de-souled if he's accidentally forgotten to bring the charm. RG: Heh. JPM: Damn, didn' work RG: Aw. JPM: I'm sure there was a backdoor way to remove quest items. JPM: Can't find one, though, even on UESP. Ah well, so much for that idea. JPM: How are you doing, though? RG: Pretty fine. Chatting on AIM. JPM: Maybe if I get him arrested... RG: Hm. That probably wouldn't remove quest items. JPM: Only one way to find out. JPM: Sweet. RG: ? JPM: Being jailed removes all items except the Amulet of Kings. JPM: Now, I had to break out of jail (which I did by making the cell door vanish with the console, since I bungled the lockpicking), but that was all. JPM: It increased my bounty, but not by much since the guards I passed (while wearing prison clothes!) just said "Hello" and stuff as I walked by. JPM: As I half-expected, the Traven soul-gem doesn't do squat to protect you against Mannimarco's spells - he's simply incompetent at casting them. RG: XD JPM: It was quite funny actually, since I was trying to find out how to get out of jail and wandering around lost. JPM: I walked into the barracks and saw about a dozen guards heading towards me, and panicked. But they were just mooching around and paid me no mind. JPM: I was prepared to enter God mode and destroy them all if necessary. What intrigues me is that the bounty for stealing some hapless guard's soul wasn't enough to trigger their attack - I think it must have counted as assault rather than murder because it was a single blow and no-one else realised he was dead. Made a handy source of armour afterwards, though.
MagozaIt took a while for me to finally be bothered with talking to the impudent Magoza the Orc, but once I had done so, we set off together to the bandit camp (which wasn't occupied before).
I thought it would be rather fun to sneak around and pickpocket the bandits while Magoza spoke to their leader. The bandit leader in particular was rather fun to pickpocket, as it meant he kept saying "Pfff" during negotiations with Magoza.
One of my projects this time was to try and see if I could get away with not killing J'Baara and the other Khajiit bandit. I tried several techniques, but the most promising one seemed to be casting Eye of Fear on him, which on one occasion caused him to forget about gravity and run off at hill-height, ending up 6ft above the river.
I'm walking in the air...
On a second occasion I herded him away until Magoza lost interest in him, which worked in that she then began to head back to Leyawiin, but her dialogue consisted solely of an insistence that all the bandits had to die.
A few moments later, J'Baara doubled back once the Fear had left him and began hacking at Mittens, who stoically ignored this (as did Magoza). Reluctantly I slew him in order to move the plot forwards.
Thieves Guild ReduxOnce I had completed the main quest, Mittens fell into despair and pining for his lost friend and mentor, Martin, turned towards a life of crime. Once Drad had been pauperised, Mittens needed a new source of income to meet the Guild quotas, preferably one that did not impact the common folk. That source turned out to be the Imperial Legion.
Mittens would become invisible, sneak into the barracks and pickpocket any sleeping guards. This requires a lot of luck and reloading since it is difficult to rob them effectively. It is well worth the pain though, since the swords, cuirasses and leggings fetch a significant sum at the fences.
However, it is interesting to note that the guards are not apparently issued spare equipment, and may be sent into duty with their armour missing.
"Have you seen my cuirass, Citzen?"
Probably the best part was when I got bored, botched the pickpocketing and ran back to the guild to pay off the bounty for pickpocketing them. About 15 seconds later, the guards (dressed in civvies) turned up to arrest me, but since there was no longer a price on my head this meant that they ran up to me, asked if anything was the matter and then went away again.
Amusei displays his profound understanding of stealth
Owing to the unique timing of the mission, I happened to embark on the quest to locate a master forger a couple of weeks after the completion of the main quest. This resulted in some rather confusing messages:
The Main QuestPerhaps it was because I was interested in talking to Hermaeus Mora more than anything else, but the first half of the Main Quest went fairly normally, aside from an extended period of time when I went around closing gates for the express purpose of getting good Sigil Stones (+50 magic, +125 feather, Spell Absorption, things like that) and redoing the gate again if I didn't get what I wanted.
It is worth remembering that sigil stones are basically the only source of the Spell Absorption enchantment apart from the world editor.
Aside from that and the fact that I discovered it was possible to visit Kvatch and then remember you had to deliver the Amulet to Jauffre - and that he has special dialogue for this sequence of events - the quest was fairly uneventful.
Just another day in Oblivion
JPM: The Count of Bravil better be happy I got rid of that gate, or I'll send him to Mora RG: XD JPM: He was happy. Good for him - he's the only head of a major city who can die [during the main quest]. JPM: I quit saving the world. I'm going to rescue cats from trees, find lost husbands and that sort of thing. It pays better. JPM: If they give me a raise I might reconsider. RG: You'll still need to shut the Jaws of Heaven.. err, I mean, Gates of Oblivion every now and then, though. JPM: All I get out of that is a little bit of praise. I don't get so much as a 30% discount or points on my loyalty card....so, let's cut to Sancre Tor, where the end of the world is nigh, and Mittens has been sent to retrieve the sacred Armour of Talos.
...Sancre-TorInside the ruin there are four skeletal Blades who have been cursed to an eternity of torment by the evil Underking. You are supposed to free them from this.
However, since they are extremely tough, and since I have The Razor, I found it was easiest to dispatch them thus, sending them to an entirely different eternity of torment, care of Mehrunes Dagon who I'm strictly supposed to be thwarting.
I rationalise this as an insurance policy - if things go south and Martin's plan fails, Mittens might be able to wangle some kind of deal with Dagon on account of all the souls he's been given.
After retrieving the armour, I decided to visit Miscarand on the way back to base, so as to give Martin a nice surprise. He was surprised, which was nice.
Bruma GateOnce the Weylkind stone and armour have been delivered to Martin, he will tell you about the Great Sigil stone that is needed, and you will be sent to the Countess of Bruma to arrange her to meet Martin in the Chapel of Talos.
There is relatively little scope for mischief in the Bruma mission as a whole, except that it is possible to tap Martin on the shoulder during his speech and suck out his soul. This will of course cause all his knights to yell "Assault!" or something and it ends the game, but it is possible.
As has been noted by others it is also possible for you to accidentally kill one of the knights during the battle since they have an annoying tendency to run in front of you while you're casting death spells at the enemy.
This will cause all the knights on the battlefield who are still alive to suddenly yell "Help! Murder!" and may result in your arrest on a murder rap once you have saved the city from annihilation and torment.
I seem to recall Cat-Dude having a better time of this than Mittens, in that most of the knights survived. This time, the only survivors were Martin and the evil guy from Cheydinhal who is invulnerable. Martin ignored the fact that basically all our allies were now strewn about the battlefield without any kind of burial, and pronounced it a great victory.
Once the Bruma Gate mission and Paradise are all done, the Countess will construct a statue just down the road from Bruma Castle. Remember that the statue will be dressed in your 'best' armour, not what you were wearing at the time.
This can have bad effects, e.g. when Mittens was dressed stylishly for the occasion, and once the Oblivion gates were closed I found that the Countess had created some horrifying abomination in my honour with a fishlike head that I'm not at all convinced was even a mammal, let alone the same species as Mittens. I reloaded back to Bruma and tried again.
JPM: F*** JPM: I just saw the statue in Bruma JPM: It was f***ing ugly and looks nothing like me. I think I'll have to save Bruma again JPM: Right now I'm going to try and murder the Countess for this abomination she's created JPM: It has a head like a fish. RG: *snrk* JPM: I had him all decked out just how I wanted it. JPM: I completely forgot that the statue is based on the best armour you're carrying, not what you were wearing at the time. JPM: This may end up with him wearing the Emperor Palpatine robes. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad.
I mention this episode in part because on the second attempt, I accidentally left Cloud Ruler Temple before Martin had left the great hall and fast-travelled to Bruma. This had the fascinating result that the Countess and Mittens went to meet Martin in the Chapel only to find that he hadn't arrived yet. To keep her entertained while Martin's convoy was en route, Mittens performed a remarkable series of backflips.
Mittens does backflips to amuse the Countess while we wait for Martin
After seven hours and at least three return trips to try and persuade Martin to actually leave Cloud Ruler Temple, the Emperor-To-Be finally arrived and the battle got underway.
By this point I was starting to wonder if Martin's eventual demise was actually a blessing from the gods - if he couldn't even organise a stroll to a city just down the road, the Empire was surely doomed in his hands.
"He'll be along soon, Milady. Just a few more hours!"
It's Paradise (Is this my Paradise?)One you have performed the rather awesome ritual, you will enter Paradise, there to do battle with Mankar 'David' Camaron, leader of the British Conservative Party. I'd recommend Hawkwind's "Song of the Swords" for this bit if you can find a copy.
Paradise is kind of pretty. Bounding happily through its grassy environs are a number of deer - Camaron is strangely quiet about this, so unfortunately we never find out if these cervids died in the service of Mehrunes Dagon and became immortal, or whether they are intended to torment the Ascended in endless battle.
We were born... to be free / Not live in terror... of the tyranny
Once you've got Eldamil to join you and slaughtered your way through the grottoes, you will be greeted by two of Mankar's rather odd descendants. The first is a woman who says "I bet you didn't expect to see me again!" This was particularly confusing since I didn't really know who she was anyway - only later did I find out she appears at the very start of the game.
Anyway, I killed both of them with spells, looted their bodies and went on to confront Camaron himself. It is worth mentioning at this point that one of his children encountered here will respawn indefinitely if you wait a minute and then briefly go back into the grotto, so you can amass a significant quantity of immensely valuable magical rings by the simple act of killing him over and over and over again.
For Mankar Camaron himself, no other death would do than both stealing his soul into a black soul gem, and at the same time sacrifing it to his own god via Mehrunes' Razor. However, this plan proved a little difficult to execute since he has a very powerful robe of reflection, with the unfortunate consequence that Mittens sacrificed his own soul to Mehrunes Dagon on more occasions than I care to remember.
Done correctly this can be quite amusing as you will often see Mankar slump to the ground saying "At last! A worthy foe!" even after his soul has been removed.
Either way, I just about had time to take Eldamil's clothes and possessions as mementos before Paradise ended (I used these relics to build my Invisibility Suit).
It is slightly sad to note that if you go back into the Lake Arius Caves, the cultists will continue to insist that they shall enter Paradise when they die.
...And now for something completely different.
This was supposed to be 15 Black Soul Gems
Lighting the DragonfiresUpon my return I gave Martin the seal of his office and it was decided that we must set out at once to the Imperial City, which we did.
However, when we arrived in the Imperial Gardens surrounding the palace, I figured there was still time to quickly sneak back to see if the artisans at Bruma had built my statue yet. I mean, Martin and company didn't really need me for the ceremony, right? He's the one who's Emperor after all, not me, right?
So I quietly slipped off and when I actually arrived in Bruma I turned around and saw to my surprise that Martin had come along for the ride as well. He did not say a word about the detour.
Imperial Champion Palpatine triumphantly wields the fell weapon of the Enemy
Since it was the last opportunity for Martin and I to have fun, I dragged the Emperor with me into the permanent Gate at Lord Sutch's Fort near Anvil so we could go and fight Daedra together as a kind of bonding exercise.
JPM: Incidentally, the statue does portray Mittens as Emperor Palpatine RG: *snort* JPM: I'm... I'm not quite sure whether I want to do all that yet again just so I can have a bare-chested Mittens in Bruma...
JPM: Actually I am kind of tempted to stop this whole Emperor malarky and look for another oblivion gate. Maybe I can drag Martin into that too. RG: ..Just don't forget to take him back, alright? JPM: I'll try. RG: That does not fill me with confidence.
It is worth mentioning that Martin is invulnerable at this point so you can both tear around the countryside looking for gates, massacring Necromancers or anything else you fancy with no risk to his life. However, Jauffre (if he survived Bruma) is not so blessed and may drown in the lava or meet some similarly gruesome fate if you are not careful with him.
Once back in the city, things go rather pear-shaped. It is possible to kill Dagon, but I haven't achieved this myself - Mehrunes' Razor naturally will not work on Him. The usual way is just to sneak into the temple with Martin, and the rest is history.
Shivering IslesThe entrance to the Shivering Isles is in the middle of the lake, roughly between Bravil and Fort Grief. After the initial interview, which ends with a rather snazzy special effect, you will essentially be herded towards the Gatekeeper, who publicly executes a bunch of adventurers while you watch.
This did not sit well with me, so I reloaded and basically ran to the Gatekeeper as fast as I could, and stabbed him in the ankle with Mehrunes' Razor repeatedly before he could kill the Khajiit adventurer.
Suddenly everyone will look surprised, stars spinning, wheels in the skies
Once this is done, the surviving adventurers will stand in a mob talking to each other. They don't like talking to strangers, though.
Once the Keeper is dead, you can pick the keys out of his body and go through whichever of the two gates take your fancy. I always go through the Mania gate because it's all pretty and nice. Before doing this you might want to check out the houses in the Fringe for a fantastic archaeological treatise on the End of the World. The author is also wandering around the game, prophesying doom.
Anyway, from the Mania (or Dementia) gates you make your way to the rather rude and uncouth Lord Sheogorath. He does get better as the game goes on, though.
Your first god-given mission is to reactivate Xedilian, one of Sheogorath's torture chambers. This is straightforward enough, though rather depressing. It will be your first encounter with the Order Knights, whom the caretaker describes as soulless automatons. This is plainly nonsense since their souls are powerful enough that only a Black Soul Gem will hold them.
Confidence and ParanoiaNext up, you have to investigate the respective madnesses of Thadon and Syl. You can do these in either order.
ConfidenceThere is very little I could possibly say to paint this mission in a worse light. In short, the Champion of Cyrodiil - fame having gone to his head - develops a smack habit and is forced to go on some drug-addled quest in order to seek out the Holy Grail, the only cure for his addiction.
With Mittens the approach I took was pretty simple - I took one helping of Felldew in order to let myself in, and then went cold-turkey, utterly ignoring the withdrawal symptoms.
Originally this was done as an experiment to see if it would kill him, but since his drug problems made no appreciable difference that casting Heal regularly couldn't fix, I just let it be.
It may help that I used an Invisibilty Suit in order to keep the Elytra quiet.
You might want to take a little break once the grail has been returned to Thadon, and go around the island hunting Order Priests. Not all the obelisks will be activated by this point, but many of them will be.
ParanoiaSyl, the paranoid duchess of Dementia, believes that her subjects are out to get her, which is in fact true (and largely because she is too paranoid to rule effectively).
Your task is to root out this conspiracy and bring those behind it to justice. To do this you are lent Herdir the torturer, the idea being that you go around and get him to zap people into confessing.
My immediate reaction to this was to torture the first Dark Seducer I could find (who just so happened to be in on the plot) and then wander around looking for the right folks so as to avoid torturing too many innocents, since it's not really a nice thing to do.
My list of not-very-innocent people to torture at that point also included Haskell, Syl and Sheogorath but sadly there are no conversation options to allow this. Thadon might have been an interesting choice as well, but he simply tells you that he refuses to get involved, and that's that.
The fact that the true conspirator would also refuse to get involved doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone. It is also impossible to torture Bolwing the Incomprehensible, which again would make a perfect cover for any true conspiracy.
Your primary target really is Ma'zaddha the Khajiit, who is a member of the Rooftop Duelling Club or whatever it is called. You can have a lot of fun with this, simply by going down the first flight of stairs in Crucible and jumping onto the rooftop yourself.
Herdir will try to follow you and falls off into space, and will likely land in an unconscious heap by the sewer. If he does survive intact, jump back onto the stairwell and give him a few more rounds.
"Say, Herdir, can you fly...?"
If possible, wait until about 9:30PM before doing any of this, since you can then torture Ma'zaddha in the middle of his rooftop duel.
The duel gets serious
This is even more entertaining if you do it while the torturer is unconcious, since everyone will sit around and wait for him to turn up. Ma'zaddha's opponent will continue to duel with him while Herdir zaps him.
At some point, by virtue of electrifying the right people, you will get somewhere, and someone will let slip that Ma'zaddha meets up with Nelrene, the Dark Seducer I tortured in the throne room. You then have to spy on them, which is very tricky and fiddly unless you have an invisibility suit since they tend to detect your presence and clam up.
If you collar Ma'zaddha afterwards, he will 'fess up and agree to give evidence. Sadly this results in his death, though by the right use of the console it is possible to res him afterwards. Once this is done you can collect the evidence, find the brains behind the operation and turn her in.
For some reason, Syl utterly ignores the fact that one of her Dark Seducer guards has turned against her and also murdered your informant, so Nelrene gets off entirely unpunished.
CylarneOnce all this is done and you've reported back to the Madgod, you'll have to relight the torch in New Sheoth temple.
This means going to Cylarne, one of those horrible religious cults consisting of a fortified compound that houses a bunch of deeply indoctrinated and heavily armed religious maniacs who want to massacre everyone else in order to please their god.
The snag is that the compound has two groups of Chosen Ones, and you won't be able to get anywhere unless either the Golden Stains or Dark Seducers have massacred the other lot in an egregious act of pure genocide.
You don't have a lot of choice but to assist in this - agreeing with one side and then standing back to watch as they duke it out only gets you so far and at some point you'll be forced to pick a side and finish the job.
For the curious, it is possible for a suitably acrobatic (and determined) player to scramble-jump over the gates and into the grounds ahead of schedule, but unfortunately the actual guts of the compound will be locked until the mission starts properly.
Anyway, once the Faithful have triumphed over the Slighty Less Faithful, the obelisk nearby will come online. Sort that out, and then go back to the compound, set your fur on fire and run back to the temple.
At this point Sheogorath will appear inside the temple and tell you that you'll have to murder one of the two leaders of the city.
The UsurpationI actually liked Thadon and was itching to get back at Syl for the paranoia quest. However, the prospect of ruling over a dreary cesspool of a town when I could have the pretty one instead was not a particularly tempting one, so I killed Thadon anyway.
At the end of the day it doesn't really matter which side you choose since the opposing side will defect anyway once the mission is done. Thadon makes for an easier target and besides, at least he dies relatively happy - as opposed to Syl who has to be put down like a wild animal, kicking and screaming in her fortified bunker.
Of some passing interest is the Greenmote silo. It is possible to eat the stuff yourself, which will of course kill you if you have too much. If you put yourself into God Mode, the greenmote will not affect you at all.
Bizarrely, Wide-Eyes will only ever start doing her errand in the Greenmote silo when you ask her about it and never before, so you cannot - as far as I am aware - visit the silo and off Thadon ahead of schedule.
The Attack and the GatekeeperNext you are sent back off to the Fringe, where the forces of Order are doing Bad Things. There is little to be said of this, though it is fun to torment the mayor if you are so inclined.
Once you're done you might want to pass by Cann, which is kind of cool. You can infiltrate the facility and pick people off by posing as a Heretic. You can even use an enchanted Heretic hood, but be sure to use a regular Heretic robe or else they'll spot you.
When murdering them, stay distant and always use ranged attacks - watching you steal a fellow Heretic's soul from a distance does not constitute a problem to them, but seeing you too close will drive them into a frothing rage.
Once you're done, it's necessary to build a new Gatekeeper, which really got me loathing Ms. Verenim. I destroyed her as soon as Sheogorath was no longer in a position to object. Alas, you cannot free her victims.
When choosing parts, I tried to go for ones which might make him more vulnerable, just in case I needed to kill him again.
Next up, there is an emergency with either the Dark Seducers or the Golden Saints, whichever side it was you massacred during the Cylarne business. The suspicious mind might think that persuading the person who murdered their leader and decimated their ranks to go alone into into a sealed compound where no-one else may enter is a little too convenient, but the emergency is real enough, and actually fairly easy to solve.
Upon your triumphant return, Sheogorath becomes entirely lucid and expounds a remarkable thesis upon the reality of time. Then he suddenly explodes, turning fully into Juggalug and promising your eventual death.
The Stick of PowerIn order to avoid this, you must try and carry out the original plan by creating a duplicate of Sheogorath's magical stick. This is pretty straightforward so I won't go into it because there's not much opportunity for mischief, with the exception of your evil twin inside Milchar, which you can soul-steal if you are so inclined.
On one occasion it managed to survive this, somehow healing itself just as its soul came out, so I ended up with two.
Once you've got the magic stick built, you have to dip it in the font, which has been frozen up by the Order guys. You then have to go down into the basement to fix this and massacre all the priests you can find, including Syl (whose soul I always leave on one of the trophy pillars in the palace).
When you're done here, Juggalug will return, so as with the Gatekeeper, stab him in the ankle with Mehrunes' Razor and that should be it for him.
The God of Order collapses like a bunch of broccoli
You may find that his passing leaves little white bits of magical fluff still lying around the battlefield, but ignore this.
Leftover bits of Jyggalag
Power Over AllOnce I had finally dispensed with Sheogorath and Juggalug, I was awarded a few relatively trivial powers. While I was rather disappointed in their scope and the fact that I could not drop people like the original Sheogorath could, the one thing which I really, really saw as needing a change was the weather in the Shivering Isles. The Weather Control spell not only works but once a day, it also makes the weather worse.
This had to change and hence I got drawn into the seedy world of Sheogorath Powers mods. I eventually installed the Playable Sheogorath Mod, which by means of a magical outfit can grant Mittens powers far more befitting a god, such as the ability to devour the souls of my enemies, to drive them insane, raise the dead, execute foes in traditional Sheogorath Drop style or make it rain cheese.
But most importantly I gained the power to make it nice and sunny when I want to go for a stroll.
A side-effect of this was that Mittens also gained the ability to regenerate his own health rapidly. This makes him extremely tough to kill, though a fall or being torn apart by a sufficiently large number of creatures at once will do it.
At first I was less than happy about that, but then I remembered that Tribunal left me in a very similar state once I had obtained the Royal Signet Ring and cheered up.
Divine Power does have some drawbacks, mind. For instance, while trying them out on Countess Caro (which I will elaborate on shortly), I discovered that something Very Bad would happen if you turned a horse to stone and then tried to mount it.
Mittens tries to mount the stone horse
The other major drawback was when a frenzied villager I was attempting to drive insane ran headlong into a group of My elite Golden Saints, who promptly executed him before I could prevent it. As punishment I cast soul-swallow upon their captain, who unfortunately had a remarkably good reflection spell.
Yes, it is possible for a god to eat His own soul.
Countess Caro's security arrangements
JPM: I'm going to have to kill the countess when she becomes expendable. She's evil, and frankly quite insane. JPM: I don't know what I did, but in my massacring people, I broke the Countess. She just stands there - only her eyes can move. RG: Wow. JPM: My attempt at rebellion didn't really work out as planned. JPM: The oppressed masses rose up in revolution against ME, which wasn't quite the idea. RG: What a shame.Once I had become divine, I returned to Tamriel briefly for a quick holiday, and also to assassinate the dangerously insane countess of Leyawiin (Seriously - she wants to ethnically cleanse Leyawiin. Just talk to her. Even her aide isn't happy about that plan.)
These are not the words of a sane Countess
Aside from the harsh political statement against her policies that her assassination would bring, this exercise also made a fun opportunity to play around with some of the more exotic godpowers which I had acquired.
I quickly discovered that Countess Caro's security arrangements were both a little lacking in number and also in common sense, though this was made up for - in some ways - with zeal.
Once the countess had been suitably de-souled, the bodyguard began to attack me in vengeance, completely and totally ignoring several bears which were now eating her aide, Hlidara Mothril.
On one occasion the Countess got away and tried to flee, running straight into the arms of some passing bandits, who killed her. The bodyguard was aware enough to shout "Murder!" but carried on attacking me instead of bringing them to justice or trying to protect his charge in any way.
Turning Hlidara to stone while on horseback proved to be strange and unnerving, not least because she retained the power of speech.
When I was on horseback, wasn't I pretty?
On another occasion still, the bodyguard watched as his charge suddenly collapsed soul-dead, and then ran into the distance at full pelt. Fascinated, I followed him all the way to Chorrol, at which point he entered the city before immediately leaving and walking slowly off to places unknown, probably Leyawiin. I didn't have the patience to walk back with him this time.
The bodyguard runs non-stop to Chorrol at full speed
I also had far too much fun with the Fling! power, which can occasionally leave NPCs in a rubbery state afterwards.
At one point I managed to petrify Hlidara's horse while she was still mounting it. This had the fascinating result that she became invisible and the horse froze in mid-stride, gliding along the ground in a single direction and unable to turn or respond correctly to gravity.
Finally I decided that the best and most fitting way to end the Countess' evil reign was for her and the bodyguard to be killed by the notorious Grey Fox. That way no-one would ever suspect the Champion of Virtue, even if he dressed up in the murdered bodyguard's uniform and personally dropped the soul-stone containing the Countess onto her throne.
The Count didn't seem to care.
Once again, that's all we have time for. See also the Knights of the Nine thing, and hopefully Skyrim, probably next year.
Made with Kate, Smultron and various other things. Thanks to Ren for animating Mittens (and coining his name!).