My Little Skyrim: shirenu roleplays a Khajiit alchemist who hates confrontation
Disclaimer: Not an expert on video games.
After getting burned out playing Skyrim the usual way of trying to complete every questline possible, I decided it was time to give a chance to a more immersive roleplaying experience. I installed two mods: Alternate Start – Live Another Life and additional encounters to the landscape to give Skyrim a livelier (more hostile) atmosphere.
What Alternate Start does is get rid of the original beginning with the long carriage ride and dragon attack. Instead you are trapped in a cell, left to rot, only able to interact with a statue of Mara that grants you a new life. You are given a list of options which allow you to begin your new journey from a randomized location. How many possessions you have and what type of location you begin from depends on which option you choose.
I’ll spare you from long-winded stories about her past (actually, there aren’t any) and will instead tell you how I will be playing her.
First of all, Qa’meera eats and sleeps. It sounds so simple, but normally in games I don’t bother with realism when it comes to rest and food. There are mods available for adding consequences to neglecting these things, but I fear they might discourage me from playing similar to how I haven’t played Minecraft since more survival features were added. I’ll just have to rely on myself to realize that hey, the sun is setting, Qa’meera is probably starving.
Qa’meera hates confrontation. This means that she sneaks around and if spotted, she is more likely to run than fight. I’m hoping that eventually she’ll be able to control hostile people and creatures with magic, as well as support any allies. She’s not a complete angel because she will aim to let others do the fighting for her. However, even this would take place only in self-defense (at least initially).
Qa’meera’s main source of income is alchemy. She is naturally curious about most everything, so a craft that involves discovering the various potentials of ingredients seems fitting for her. Her thirst for knowledge will also show in her love for books. I probably won’t go as far as to collect them, but instead of merely opening them, I will actually read what’s in them when playing as Qa’meera.
And finally, no fast travelling. I might allow her to use the paid horse carriage service since it doesn’t seem that unrealistic that one might get on one and then sleep all the way. However, I will only allow her to use this when travelling to locations she has already discovered on her own, similar to how fast travel works. (I can’t remember now if the game automatically sets this limitation.)
Qa’meera’s choice for a new life was… well, not her choice. I chose for her to have been attacked and left to die. Nobody would choose that for herself, right? I chose it because I wanted a random starting location. So yeah. As far as I’m concerned, that cell with the statue of Mara did not happen. Qa’meera’s story begins from waking up in a strange place with only five apples in her inventory and not a single gold coin.
Qa’meera woke up in… In… I’d never been to this place before. I had no idea where she was or where she should go, so the obvious decision was to not check the map because it would have ruined everything. Dwemer ruins, that’s as much I could tell.
After eating an apple and wandering around randomly, Qa’meera was finally able to find a road to follow. Roads are good because they tend to lead somewhere. Sometimes there are even signs. However, Qa’meera got busted by a thief soon after. It was quite sad. I told the thief I had no money and he insisted I looked like I was loaded. Mind you I still had no coins at this time and was wearing rags. Of course, Qa’meera wouldn’t like to fight, so I had to think about my next move.
What I haven’t shared with you yet is that just before meeting this thief I had ran past three Imperial soldiers. I also remembered someone’s experiences of trying to play as NPC in Oblivion and often other folks on the road ending up saving his butt. So when the thief insisted on fighting me, I ran back. I ran past the soldiers. And they… Did nothing.
…I will remember this.
Anyhow, once I noticed that the soldiers weren’t helping me I freaked out and cast fire on the thief until he fell. I suppose I could’ve kept running, but I’d like to think of this as an out-of-character moment of desperation caused by the fear of losing the only thing Qa’meera had left; her life. I think it’s quite realistic, in a way. She was running towards the soldiers thinking she was saved, only to find out the cold truth that they wouldn’t help her. Is it because she’s a Khajiit, you dirty racists? She had hope, it was taken away, so she reached out her arm and let the fire flow. In under an hour, Qa’meera the non-confrontational Khajiit had killed her first person. As a fuck you, I took his clothes.
I also quickly had to decide what Qa’meera would do about exploring certain areas.
You wouldn’t walk into a cave that looks like this, right?
I figured that Qa’meera, at this time, was desperate, so she took a peek inside. There might have been cheese dropped at the entrance or something. You never know! Too bad I could instantly hear unfriendly people inside, so Qa’meera’s cave adventure ended there. Anyway, yes, Qa’meera is willing to pick up apparently abandoned food at questionable locations if she’s running low.
One of the first locations that Qa’meera found was this Stormcloak camp. Unfortunately it was quite early in the day, so Qa’meera kept going forward and bumped into those useless soldiers, the thief, the cave and so on. What I really wanted to find was a town so that I could make and sell potions and thus, earn my first coins. But when it was getting dark, I bumped into a camp of bandits and decided to run all the way back to the Stormcloak camp. I could sleep there for free and they even had alchemist tools there that I could use. It was a bummer to run all the way back, but eh. I managed to have a bed for the night! I hadn’t failed my quest for sleep and food yet, even if Qa’meera was surviving on mere apples and even failed all her first attempts at creating potions (oops).
Fear not, for a beautiful misty morning greeted us with new hope. This time Qa’meera took a bit of a different road and found a small settlement – with nothing going on and nobody to sell things to. Bummer. So she returned to the same main road again, only this time avoiding the bandit camp from before by swimming around it. So graceful.
Is it realistic? I think if it was a matter of life or death, I probably would swim instead of walking into a camp of bandits. Even if I’m horrible at swimming.
Anyway, this little detour actually lead Qa’meera to a small crashed boat with various gem stones in it. Rubies, a flawless amethyst and diamond… There were about six in total. I would say that being cautious turned out to serve her well. She’s going to keep some of these gems as insurance for a rainy day. They are pretty, you know.
Continuing my journey, I hoped Qa’meera would bump into someone she could tag along with (read: follow and watch get attacked by everything) on the road and thought I got lucky when I saw a noble accompanied by a guard. Then they made a turn.
They went to stand at the waterfall like this and just stayed there. Forever. I think they were contemplating suicide. Fuck them! I still hadn’t found a town, which meant I had found no place to successfully make potions and, more importantly, sell them. I continued on the road.
With a mercenary, giants, and a group of drunks. All in harmony.
And then a thief happened. Sadly for us, this happened after the giants had left the road.
I was going to let the others deal with him, but he turned out to be a sturdy guy – he killed the mercenary lady like it was no big deal! – and then, I suppose I panicked again when I realized he was going to kill everyone in sight, and uh, Qa’meera burned him to death. I’m failing my non-confrontational quest so badly thus far. To be fair, Qa’meera has hidden or run from most things on the road. But yes, I still fail.
As you can see, it had got quite dark at this hour. Luckily, this abandoned and otherwise destroyed house still had a fully functional bed in it. Yet again I had found a place to sleep.
Even better, I had finally realized where I was. Have you ever been lost and then finally reached a familiar place that let you know you are saved? It’s not just a feeling of relief, but also a feeling of accomplishment and proof that you are actually a genius. This was totallylike that. Okay okay, I did find signs that told me which town I was headed at, but the thing is, none of the signs say how far the town in question is, so following a road can still be a pain. At a crossroads, how can you know which town will be closer?
Anyway, here’s an illustrative map of the distance I covered in a couple of in-game days.
Which means that…
Day 3 & 4
In the morning I was greeted with this beautiful sight. Oh Whiterun, the land of the familiar, warm and fuzzy! I can sell things, make potions, stay at an inn! Buy things! Life is beautiful. I even met ”my people”.
What have you got for sale? More like what have I got for sale, baby!
Reaching Whiterun lead Qa’meera to seeing a map of the world for the first time at Dragonsreach. This is also when I allowed myself for the first time to check where the hell I had spawned initially. Nuts.
I have to say my game hasn’t started the way I thought it would. I thought I would instantly find some kind of a town, make it my base, get into alchemy and then start branching out. Instead I ended up running a ridiculously long road with almost no pause, desperately looking for someone to sell things to and seemingly constantly having to run away from someone or avoiding trouble otherwise. Basically, it’s been awesome!
Upon reaching Whiterun, many things became clear. I learned how to learn magic. (No, really, I had no idea you use spell tomes for that. Oops.) Qa’meera was able to use all the ingredients she had collected to make potions and then sell them, becoming rich. And then spend almost all of it on spells of interest. This is probably where Qa’meera will stay for perhaps another day or two, trying to squeeze up more coins for one or two more spells, gather up rations and head north. Why north?
The college of Winterhold for mages. It was always in my plans for Qa’meera that she would head there as soon as possible. I don’t know how far she can improve her skills there (my previous character only visited there for the major storyline), but it seems like the logical place for her to go. But she’ll need coin, food, and some skills to last the journey.
Before that, some resting at an inn with, uh, suspicious locals.
That is all for now. We may or may not see each other again.