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Kicking Skyrim's Ass, Day 3: Halfway Through Dawnguard

To start the Dawnguard expansion, I first had to go the very lower right corner of the map, past Riften.  Starting fresh out of Whiterun, that was actually a rather ponderous walk over broken terrain.  I suppose I could have just hired a wagon to take me to Riften, but I had a couple of things to do along the way.  I know I'm trying to avoid getting distracted from beating this game, but Skyrim makes it tough to do when it keeps dangling rewards for traveling slightly off the beaten path.

Just east of Whiterun were two easy quests involved clearing areas of Skyrim's most common fauna: bandits.  There are far more bands of thieves in Skyrim than could possibly be financed by their victims, but that's just standard fantasy fare, isn't it?   In any case, I was glad to have something to break up the monotony of the trip, and I rose some bandits with a raise zombie spell just for the irony of having them turn on each other.

When I reached Riften, I decided to poke my nose inside the gate to sell some goods.  What greeted me was a slaughter: something had broken the NPC faction tracking mechanism, because the Thieves Guild members were fighting corrupt Riften guards openly on the streets.   The Thieves Guild members were set to be "essential," so they merely fell to their knees and whined when they were defeated.  The guards were not so lucky... there's not too many guards left in Riften anymore, but their equipment sold well enough.   In spite of my drive to avoid distraction from completing the game, I framed a man as the first step towards joining the Thieves Guild.  I then fled Riften before I could get embroiled in any further turmoil, heading southeast into the new Dawnguard expansion area. 
What's even the point of having a Shout that can send people flying
if you don't sneak up behind bandit leaders standing perilously close
to the edges of cliffs before letting one rip?

The first NPC you meet in the expansion is a farmboy who wants to be a dawnguard vampire hunter.  He told me that he wanted to be escorted to Castle Dawnguard, a little bit down the path from where I found him, but the very first thing he did was get stuck on a log protruding onto the path.  I shoved him off that and he just sat there, stupidly, only moving after I had given up on him.  You know, farmboy, you're probably being trumped up as a sympathetic character I'm supposed to feel bad about having die later, but I'm kinda hoping you'll die right now.

Chalk another up another incredibly broken thing Bethesda miraculously avoided reviewer scorn for in Skyrim: this whole idea that you are supposed to follow an NPC somewhere to progress a quest is one of the core tools in the box of quest elements the game has.  Yet, they never did perfect getting the NPCs to move in a satisfying manner.  They have this annoying habit of stopping and staring at me.  Sometimes, it happens when I get too close.  Other times, it happens when I get too far.  Ultimately, I don't know why it happens, but it irritates me every time it does.

So I made it to Castle Dawnguard at last, met the leader of the Dawnguard, and expressed no hesitation to kill parasitic monsters.   Recognizing a kindred spirit when he saw one, he gave me a crossbow.  Fantastic, crossbows in Skyrim are rather nice, even with the bug that causes their ammo to hover several inches off my hip when equipped.  They reload as quickly as a hand-cocked toy crossbow while doing as much damage as a real one.  Hey, if I can cast spells "just because," the physics that these crossbows ignore is the least of my concern.

In same same breath that the leader of the Dawnguard bequeathed me a nice weapon and permission to loot the castle, he sent me most of the way to the northwest of the continent of Skyrim.  Well, lots of walking for me, then!  I turned in those Whiterun quests and grabbed the transmute spell from a nearby dungeon on the way up. 

The transmute spell is very handy for a power gamer.  Turning iron to gold or silver, smelting them into ingots, and turning those ingots into jewelery is a great way to both boost your smithing skill and make some gold... coins.  You know, now that I mention it, it would be quicker just to render the gold bars directly into coins, but apparently counterfeiting is not one of the Dovahkiin's skills
How does Tamriel's economy still run on gold?  Magic, that's how.

Before entering the dungeon, I happened across the Lord birthstone nearby and decided to take it.  Sweet: 50 armor points and 25% magic resistance.  I'm playing a Breton, so I had another 25% of racial magic resistance.  My necromancer amulet gave me another 25% magic resistance.  Skyrim basically just counts them all up and has them fully apply, so I now shrug off 75% of all hostile spells thrown at me.  Magic is not going to be killing me any time soon.

I arrived at the dungeon that the Dawnguard leader spoke of and, after one highly-typical dungeon jaunt, I now had a very deliberately likable vampire girl in tow who had A SCROLL CAPABLE OF UNMAKING THE WORLD strapped to her back.  Supposedly this girl had been sealed away for longer than the nation of Tamriel existed, but Bethesda not only had the audacity to expect me to overlook that she could speak modern Tamrielian, they even gave her a contemporary modern voice accent.  I'm guessing this is because they figure their audience is a bunch of casual idiots who would murder anyone who behaves differently.  Whatever, it's magic, a wizard did it, alright?

Anyway, likable-vampire-girl wanted to be escorted to her vampire daddy.  I guess that's the only way to get to the bottom of this vampire plot, so sure, lets deliver A SCROLL CAPABLE OF UNMAKING THE WORLD to your sociopath father, I'm sure this will end well.  Naturally, she wanted to go so far on the northwest side of the map that they had to create a new area to represent that.  Compare this to how I started this leg of the quest at Castle Dawnguard, so far to the southeast that they needed a new area to represent that, too, and it is a very strong hint as to why Dawnguard scored as lowly as it did on metacritic.

On the way up, I stopped by Marketh and started dumping my horded gold onto the local conjuration trainer.  Pumping my conjuration skill prematurely high is one sure way to make sure I can handle any combat challenges Skryim throws at me.  Now at 50 conjuration, my flame atronachs had been upgraded to frost atronachs.  Second solid day in the game, and I'm already half way to having maxed out the skill that will win all the fights in the game for me.  Skyrim, your ass is mine, and I'm not even to the real nastiness that will come about when I start abusing trade skills for all they're worth.
Arriving at the castle of vampire daddy at last, two rooms away from the entrance, here the main foyer is a dining hall with bunch of vampires eating people.  The craven pricks just thew the bodies down on the tables, fully clothed, and were chomping away.  There was also unidentifiable chunks of gore here and there on the table.  You vampires have a real classy clan going on here, you know that?

Daughter and SCROLL CAPABLE OF UNMAKING THE WORLD safely delivered to the same assclown vampire king who is currently performing random attacks on every town in Skyrim, I was rewarded for my idiocy with a choice to either become a vampire or get the fuck out.  I chose the latter option and was obliged with a magical clique that threw me out of the castle like so much chamberpot contents.  Clearly, the next time I come to see those parasites, it will not be on friendly terms.

Well, time to go all the way back to the opposite side of the entire continent of Skyrim, back to the Dawnguard, and tell them what a catastrophic fuck up I am to have DELIVERED A SCROLL CAPABLE OF UNMAKING THE WORLD TO AN EVIL VAMPIRE ASSCLOWN.   Another day, perhaps.  For now, I called it a Saturday and let Skyrim freeze over on its own for a bit while I got my daily Animal Crossing: New Leaf regimen done.

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