Falling Snow: Adventures in Skyrim
As someone who's played a few hundred hours of Skyrim, I began to find it more and more odd that there wasn't some kind of weather and cold mechanic implemented within the game. As my Orcish warrior barrelled across Winterhold in naught but a hide skirt and a pair of fluffy shoes, I decided to look into ways to make my journeys through Skyrim feel more authentic.
So I checked JT's amazing Skyrim mod review thread and found mention of Frostfall, a community mod for Skyrim that does pretty much what I wanted. Now if I get caught in a blizzard, I have to run and find shelter; I can't zip about the map as if by magic because I turned off fast travel (which is optional), and I have to plan journeys with far more care than I did previously.
So what does Frostfall actually do? Well, it adds in a meter for "exposure", which ranges from 20 to -100, and declines in cold and inhospitable climates. It also adds a percentage rating for being "wet", which multiplies the rate at which the exposure meter decreases. In the most extreme conditions you have to travel in short hops, taking shelter and resting in caves to keep warm before venturing out again. Clothing and food can improve your resistance to this exposure (thereby marking the first time I willingly cooked anything that wasn't Elsweyr Fondue) and torches help a bit too (which is convenient, given I need a light source due to the realistic lighting overhaul).
Need a light?
This might sound tedious, but for two very important things:
Firstly, Skyrim generates random events while you're travelling in the world map. That means when you're out and about random stuff might spawn, more enemies might appear and NPCs you can speak to will wander up the road. All these things are both fun and interesting, and my experience of higher-level play in Skyrim using fast travel have led me to think it's worth preserving those random encounters, because they're fun.
See? All the fun.
Secondly, as fun as killing all the enemies and completing all the quests is, there's only a finite amount of it on offer in any one game, and prolonging the fun of one game means you have more fun to have when you come back to it as a screaming barbarian next time. That's not to everyone's taste, but I find it a lot of fun.
Now, to get to the point. This kind of gameplay is great for emergent stories that can't be predicted, and here's one of them:
Velehk Sain is a Dremora pirate bound to a relic in the bowels of Winterhold College, aptly named the Midden Dark. While probing the Midden Dark (should I be winking here?), I chanced upon the relic, and remembering that this was a quest I'd not yet completed before in a game I've played for several hundred hours, I figured I might take a crack at it (keep the puns coming...).
Well hello there, this doesn't look suspicious AT ALL.
A notebook told me there were rings to steal and place on the relic fingers; Google told me which ones to place where. What I wasn't prepared for were the floating skulls and the giant nearly nude Dremora that manifested itself afterwards. He gave me a choice: speak his name to release him, and he'll give me a treasure map to his booty (okay, now this is getting silly), or I could try and destroy him myself. Thing is, he's tall, and I'm not; I'm a beardy wizard with more sense than courage, so I release him, and he drops a treasure map in my inventory...
Oh come on! That's not a treasure map, it's a vague drawing!
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