Arwen's Skyrim Journal

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(updated September 09, 2013)

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latest journal news

September 9, 2013:

My old computer died completely in July, so I my plan to purchase a new computer happened a bit sooner than I had planned (fortunately I started a new job in June, so I had enough in my budget). My brand new Custom Gaming Computer arrived in mid August, and this one is very fast! I'm slowly getting everything installed on my new system, but my life has been so busy lately that I still haven't get Skyrim up and running yet. I'm currently trying to focus on a couple of unfinished projects ... once those are complete I'll finally get back to playing Skyrim.

May 24, 2013:

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. The reason is that I've pretty much given up on playing Skyrim until I have a faster computer. It was just becoming wat too frustrating trying to do anything when my fps dropped into the mid teens (which happened way too often). And my attempts at getting a new computer keep getting throttled. Now it looks like the earliest that I'll be able to afford to do this, may be sometime this Fall.

November 1, 2012: The Latest Skyrim Update (version 1.8), was  released on Steam today (Nov. 1, 2012).

I just updated my Skyrim Mod List again, with the latest versions of all the mods.

I'm in the process of adding a bunch more mods, since I have spent the last month or so play testing the mods that I'm now using in my own game.  I've finally put together a pretty comprehensive collection of mods, that have greatly enhanced Skyrim for me.  It may take me a week or more to add all these new mods to the list (which will likely be done in stages).

August 27, 2012: Added to my Skyrim Mod List in August (also updated my list to the latest versions of all the mods):
- Bethesda Hi-Res DLC Optimized
- Character Creation Overhaul
- Dynamic TimeScale - Standalone
- Feminine Running and New Dash Animation
- Lanterns of Skyrim
- HiAlgoBoost FPS Performance Accelerator
- Pure Waters
- Real Wildlife - Skyrim
- Realistic Lighting With Customization
- Torches for Skyrim
- Wearable Lanterns

July 31, 2012: Added to my Skyrim Mod List today: Better Dynamic Snow; Fishing In Skyrim;  HD Body & Face Textures for Females.

July 30, 2012: Version 1.7 is out today: if you have auto updates on, your game will be updated, and any SKSE mods will be broken. To fix this, install SKSE's beta runtime  Any mods that require the Skyrim Script Dragon will no longer work until it is updated to the new version of Skyrim.

Added to my Skyrim Mod List today: ACE - Combat Skills; Closer Quivers and Longer Arrows;  Fatigue Effects; Keyboard Remap FIX;
SM Drop Lit Torches.

July 29, 2012: After spending hours yesterday play testing a bunch of mods, I have now begun playing a new game from the very beginning again, since I now have my game modded to where many of my earlier issues (with the default game) have been mostly corrected. 

There are still a number of mods that I need to use a bit more before I add them to my Skyrim Mod List, but the following mods  were all added today: Alternate Start - Live Another Life; Frostfall - Hypothermia; Radiance; Winter Is Coming.

I also updated Chapters 1 and 2 of my "Trials of a Reluctant Dragonborn" fantasy story, so that they now match my current game (with all the mods I am now using).

July 27, 2012: Another long day spent getting my Skyrim Mod List more up to date.  My Skyrim Tweaks section has now be update, with a new section on how to safely install mods with the Nexus Mod Manager.

I also added the following mods today: Classic Classes and Birthsigns; Difficulty Tweaks; Economics of Skyrim; Skyrim Script Dragon; Third Era Attributes for Skyrim; Unofficial Skyrim Patch.

Previous news is in my
News Archive Page

Welcome to my Skyrim Journal!

Skyim was released on November 11th (11/11/11) . . . nearly 6 years after Oblivion was released (03/20/06). 

Updated 05/14/12: My Skyrim Journal is currently on hold, due to my disappointment with the game itself. [The role-playing aspects were crippled to the point that it no longer even feels like a Bethesda RPG to me.] This could have been such a great RPG, but it was mainstreamed in a way that pretty much ruined it for me.

I've also had nearly constant computer issues since early December, so I haven't been able to keep up with any of my RPG Journals (or even play my own games) for months. I just had to have my main hard drive replaced, so I'm slowing reinstalling everything.

Eventually my Skyrim Journal will likely include a modding section, but I no longer have any plans for anything beyond that.

PC Requirements

Released by Bethesda (10/25/11):
Recommended PC specification:
- Quad-core Intel/AMD CPU
- DirectX 9 video card with 1GB RAM
- Nvidia GTX 260/AMD Radeon 4890 or better
- Windows XP/7
- 6GB hard disk space
- DirectX compatible soundcard
Minimum specification:
- 2GHz dual-core CPU
- Windows XP/7
-  2GB RAM
- DirectX 9c video card with 512MB RAM
- Windows XP/7/Vista (32 or 64 bit).

Skyrim is a Steamworks title, so you'll need an Internet connection to activate it.

Skyrim DLC/Expansions:

There are currently no DLC available for the PC.  "Dawnguard" was released for the Xbox on June 26th, but is still not available for the PC.  And, as of July 29th, there is still no news that there will be a PC version released.  But this doesn't mean that we will never see a PC version of "Dawnguard" . . . there's just been no official word . . . yet.

Current Version is 1.8 (for PC: v., released on Steam 11/01/12)

PC Version 1.8 Changes:

- General stability improvements
- Fixed issue with horse animations
- Fixed rare crash when using vampiric grip
- Fixed issue where Arnleif and Sons Trading Company could become permanently locked
- Fixed issue related to duplicate NPCs
- Fixed rare issue where exterior door would not open properly

Game Lore

You should have acted.
They're already here.
The Elder Scrolls told of their return.
Their defeat was merely delay
Til the time after Oblivion opened,
When the sons of Skyrim would spill their own blood.
But no-one wanted to believe.
Believe they even existed.
And when the truth finally dawns:
It dawns in fire.
There's one they fear.
In their tongue, he's she's Dovahkiin:
Dragon Born!

Dragonborn Dragonborn
By his her honor is sworn
To keep evil forever at bay
And the fiercest foes rout
When they hear triumph's shout
Dragonborn for your blessing we pray
And the scrolls have fortold
Of black wings in the cold
That when brothers wage war come unfurled
Alduin bane of kings
Ancient shadow unbound
With a hunger to swallow the world

Page Menu: | News | Current Patch | First Impressions | Concerns | Links
First Impressions

January 2, 2012:

Even though my copy of Skyrim arrived on 11/11/11, I've still only played it for a few hours, so my initial impressions are admittedly not based on all that much game time.  I'll be playing more once my new gaming PC arrives in the next week or so (and once the Creation Kit is released).

Custom Character Appearance:


I'm very disappointed in how limited Skyrim's Face Gen is.  Oblivion had more customization, as far as actual facial diversity.  Remove the scars and face paint, and characters from the same race are not all that different looking. And this becomes very noticeable after you play the game for a while.  Other than racial differences (which are actually pretty good), everyone looks like they are related.

The default Bosmer females were really ugly, and my character always ended up looking too masculine, no matter how much I fiddled with the facial settings.  So I starter searching for a mod that might give me the look I wanted.  The screenshot to the left is the result, which I'm still not happy with (although this is a much better than my earlier attempts). Now if I could only create one who doesn't scowl so much.

My character was made using the Better Females by Bella mod, with the optional Less Make up installed. [Note: this mod changes the appearance of ALL female characters in the game (including the NPCs).

Hopefully once more mods are released, I'll be able to create a Skyrim character that is much closer to what I had imagined her to look like.

Game Difficulty:

Even with the little bit that I played, it is obvious that Skyrim is a VERY easy game. my character's health regens way too fast.  Free potions are VERY easy to find, and free food is plentiful and also restores HP. The health regen heals so fast that I haven't even had to drink a potion or eat any healing food yet.

Gold is VERY easy to come by (no surprise there either).

And there's way too much blood . . . and I hate the forced 3rd person finishing moves. And I hate having to freeze combat just to select a weapon (we seriously need real hotkeys).

Note: I was eventually able to get the hotkeys working, but it was not easy. Why did they have to make these so clunky to set, by adding an unnecessary "favorites" assignment step?  What was wrong with the much easier way they were done in Fallout 3 and NV?  The other issue is that if you change you key assignments, the prompts still reference the default keys, which makes things very confusing . . . so much so that I went back to the default keys (even though many are not at all intuitive).

I don't mean to be so negative, but I was hoping for more from Bethesda this time around. . . even though I predicted that Skyrim would be more of a fast-paced action game than an in-depth RPG (I was really hoping that I would be wrong).

And it isn't that the game is all bad. Not at all. I'm having fun playing it (even with all the above issues), and it is superior to Oblivion in many ways.

It runs VERY well on my older PC (much better than OB ever did) and is graphically much better looking, and the animations, voices, and conversations are much better. The interface is gorgeous, especially the skill tree!

I LOVE the moving water and the increased details that was added to even the little things in the game (like food and dishes).  And I love that the characters are actually dirty-looking  . . . like the have actually been working or fighting (instead of looking like they just came from a spa).

So I'm not totally bummed out, especially since I can probably fix like half the above issues pretty easily (once the Creation Kit is released). And I'm guessing that mods will be released to fix the rest fairly soon. I do feel bad for the console players, who are limited to the default game.

Page Menu: | News | Current Patch | First Impressions | Concerns | Links
My Concerns

Written months before Skyrim was released:

My concerns have not been totally confirmed yet.  But, from what we know about the game so far, these are legitimate concerns.  I hope I am wrong and that none of my concerns will end up being an issue for me in the default game.  Before Oblivion was released, I totally bought ALL the hype and expected TES IV to be a huge improvement over TES III (Morrowind) . . . But it wasn't.  This time I'm being a LOT more skeptical . . . I'd much rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed again.

Character Builds:

I am very concerned with the way that Skyrim's character build is being mainstreamed.

In Oblivion you didn't distribute attribute points at the beginning (but not until you select your Class, near the end of the tutorial, and then later, every time that you leveled up) . . . this was the opposite of FO3, where you distribute your attribute points in the very beginning of the game. And then distributed just skill points (and picked a perk) when you leveled up.
In Oblivion, the game determined your initial attribute points, based on the race and gender that you CHOSE to play. In Fallout 3 you didn't have any choice on which race you played . . . since there was only one playable race (and there were no stat differences for male of female characters) . . . so the game allowed you to just set up your own personal character build (distributing your 40 attribute points).

In Oblivion, besides your choice of gender and race, you also got to select your own Birth-sign (from 13 different ones), which gives you constant effect Attribute bonuses, or constant effect Magicka bonuses (and some Birth-signs come with inherent weaknesses).

In Skyrim these are all determined for you (more hand-holding, so that the player won't be able to make a "bad" choice, and "ruin" his character build).

In Oblivion you also got pick your Class (from 21 Standard Classes, or you could create your own Custom Class).  You are given a suggested Class, which was determined by what skills you had used up to that point.  This was done in Fallout 3, by answering a series of questions [the G.O.A.T.] . . . with the result being your suggested skill point spread (basically your Class, although it wasn't called that), but you could also do your own point spread (your custom "class").

In Oblivion, classes further define your character by allowing the player to distribute 7 skill points and 2 attribute points . . . any way you want.

In Skyrim you are stuck with what the game determines is best for you. How many players here, who played Oblivion, were happy with the Class that the game picked for them? How many players decided to select their own Class?

TES games have always allowed the player to create their own unique initial character build . . . based on how we want to play the game. In Skyrim we will be MUCH more limited . . . other than Race, which may have some minor differences, every starting player character will be EXACTLY the same (stat-wise) . . . the only real differences will be in their appearance. 

And that is an issue for me.

My Skyrim Starting Character "Build"

Race: Bosmer (only for cosmetic reasons)
Gender: Female (I'm a female, and my character represents me)
Class: Prisoner
Birthsign: None (Clones don't get to have birthdays . . . because they were not born)
Skills: None
Education: None
Experience: None

Second character (see above).

The problem for me is that there is no more real initial character build (so that no one will be able to make a "bad" character build, along with the consequences, or "bad" limitations on their character).

You always start out as a Prisoner/Clone, and then "build" you character by just whacking your way through the game, with rapid leveling, and a mess of Perk Bonuses. This sounds more like an Action/FPS than a RPG to me. I like to actually build my character at the beginning of each game . . . not start out exactly the same each time, and then improve my skills unrealistically fast during the game.

Based on a 200 hour game estimate: a beginning, totally average character with no specializations at all (Class in Morrowind and Oblivion), can become the best Mage/Warrior/Thief in all of Skyrim in less than one game year (200 real hours * 30 Timescale / 24 = 250 game days].  Unbelievable!

Fast Travel:

I would hope that Skyrim doesn't have Oblivion's free-fast-travel-from-anywhere . . . as it really doesn't fit a TES RPG (in my opinion). ALL Fast Travel should include a fee that you have to pay to travel anywhere.  And Fast Travel should ONLY be available from towns and cities (by carriages and perhaps by ships and from mage's guilds teleports).

I never played Arena or Daggerfall, so I'm relying on what little I know about those two games:

Arena's fast travel made sense, since the game map was of ALL of Tamriel AND the ONLY way you could travel from between the cities was by clicking on the map, and fast traveling to them.

Daggerfall's game map was HUGE, and Fast Travel was NOT free, and if you didn't plan well, you would arrive after the city gates were locked.

The problem is that ever since Morrowind, so many players whined that any game like this NEEDS free-fast-travel-from-anywhere (where you can just click on any place on your map and be there, totally for free).

Why should any type of fast travel be free? If Skyrim is anything at all like OB and FO3, having enough gold will not be a problem. If ALL fast traveling comes with a fee, it would help to slow the speed of gaining wealth (which is a good thing, since it is always way too easy).

If you are in the middle of the wilderness, and do not have a horse, you should have to walk . . . and by "walk" I mean in the game world, one foot at a time . . . not by just clicking on a map and "walking" there in your head.

It amazes me that so many gamers practically demand free-fast-travel-from-anywhere, yet these same people want the ability to climb mountains, want a very large game world, and complain that Oblivion (and Fallout 3) made it too easy to get wealthy. I honestly do not get this type of realism-if-it-is-not-too-hard logic.

Bethesda's Game Map Size vs. Elder Scrolls Lore:

From the Imperial Library website: "Starting off in Daggerfall can overwhelm the senses. No other game has such a huge world to explore. Travel around a land mass twice the size of Great Britain . . ."

Based on the Nirn Map - by ArthmodeusD, Skyrim's size measures roughly 250 miles wide (North to South), and  roughly 600 miles long (East to West). [Based on my own measurements.]  Skyrim's game map is only has 16 square miles, and is based on the TES lore map, where it measures roughly 250 * 600 miles (150,000 square miles). The size ratio of lore map (150,000 square miles)to game world map (16 square miles) ends up around 1000:1.  This means that the game world is only going to be approximately 2.5 miles wide (North to South) and 6 miles long (East to West). It won't take long at all for a flying dragon to cover 6 miles.

This scaled down game world (the 1000:1 map ratio) is one of the main reasons why the default Timescale is 30:1 . . . . so that it will take the player 1 or 2 game hours to walk from one city to the next. [With a 1:1 Timescale, you could cover the distance in a couple of minutes.]

Morrowind and Oblivion never felt realistically large enough for me . . . even for a fantasy game world. To keep a game world interesting (and perhaps doable for the game designer), it needs to be scaled down a bunch, but turning a 250 x 600 mile land mass into a 4 x 4 land mass is way too much of a reduction.

If you reduced the land mass by a factor of 30 (to match the default Timescale), you would end up with roughly an 8 x 20 mile game map . . . which is 10 times larger than what we will be getting [4*4=16; 8*20=160 square miles].  Then we would actually have the "huge open game world" that Bethesda has been saying that Skyrim is.  Personally a 4 x 4 mile game world is not what I would consider to be "huge." Skyrim is going to be pretty much the exact size of Oblivion . . . yet Skyrim has 8 different regions . . . so each region is going to average only 2 square miles . . . 2 square miles of tundra is hardly a "huge area."

An 8*20 (160 square miles) game world would actually feel huge. And I wouldn't even mind if it had to be broken up into the 8 different regions (with loading screens when you went from one region to another, which would also allow for Xbox DVD swaps). Then you could add cities that were much larger along with a LOT more NPC's. Imagine Oblivion times 10 (10 times greater land mass, 10 times larger cities, and 10 times more NPCs).

Both Morrowind and Oblivion also included mountains that you could climb . . . but the way Todd talks in his Skyrim interviews, you would think that Morrowind's and Oblivion's game worlds were just flat 2D land masses.  We all need to remember that Todd's main goal in his interviews is to promote/sell Skyrim . . . and salesmen tend to exaggerate and embellish their products a great deal.

Arwen Note: For me, a 30 Timescale is way too fast . . . I don't like the way it makes the days race by [24 game hours = 48 real minutes], so I generally set mine at 8 [24 game hours = 3 real hours].

Post E3 Gameplay Demo (updated June 26, 2010):

The E3 demo reinforced my previous concerns . . . and I was really hoping that wouldn't happen. I'm nearly certain that the main focus in creating Skyrim has been on combat, and on streamlining the rest of the game around combat . . . where every player will be a warrior/mage/thief . . . with no character limitations.

In previous TES RPGs, you had to select your Birthsign, which represented the stars your were born under . . . and your Birthsign gave your character some inherent strengths (and some also came with inherent weaknesses). But in Skyrime the Birthsigns were removed, and have been replaced with Birth-Stones . . . which allow you to change your "birthsign" whenever you want to (you just have to go to where these stones are).  This change (along with the removal of Classes) virtually removes any inherent strengths and weaknesses from the player character.

That's a HUGE issue for me. And the presence of Oblivion's Fast Travel, and of the Fast Level (along with the rapid skill advancing Perk rewards) leads me to believe that the game is more focused on fast paced gameplay than on in-depth gameplay. I'm seriously bummed.

After having some of my biggest fears confirmed (by what was shown at E3), I'm predicting that it is going to take a LOT of mods to make Skyrim an enjoyable RPG for me. 

Fear that Skyrim is going to be even more Mainstreamed than Oblivion was (updated September 20, 2010):

What we know so far:


No Classes: Now your abilities are totally based on 'what you do in the game,' but other TES games had that. Class and being able to create a unique starting character has been removed.
- No Attributes: All we will have are Health, Magicka, and Stamina . . . which are stats, not attributes.
- No Birthsigns: Yet another way to define a unique starting character was removed. And guardian stones are NOT birthsigns. We had BOTH guardian stones and birthsigns in previous TES games.
- Fewer skills:
- No Spellmaking: Simplified into being able to put a different spell into each hand and cast both at once.
- No Armor or Weapon Degradation: No repair or repair skills. The end result is that once you get an ebony sword (or the best bow) there will no longer be any reason to use any sword that does less damage. (In previous TES, weapons and armor could degrade to the point that they broke.  And when you found or bought an weapon or some armor, it was rarely in top condition.)
- No Locational Damage (damaged to individual body parts) no crippled limbs
- You will not be able to see your character in the inventory screen. This is not a biggie for me, but it was a nice feature in Oblivion and Morrowind, that I will miss.
- Fewer armor slots:
- No Named Soul Gems: this was not in Oblivion either.
- No Levitation: this was not in Oblivion either.
- No Teleportation: this was not in Oblivion either.
- Retaining Oblivion's Fast Travel System: There won't be a comprehensive Travel Network, like Morrowind's, all we will have are Carriages (no boat travel, no mage teleports).

I'll continue to update this section as new information is released.

Page Menu: | News | Current Patch | First Impressions | Concerns | Links
Skyrim Links (off site)

Arwen's Realm (my forum) - The is often the fastest way to contact me. If you are new to Elder Scroll RPGs (or Fallout ) and need some help with these games, or are having trouble with mods, or just have questions or comments about my journal - just drop in and post a message. I've put together a place called Arwen's Realm, a friendly little moderated forum community (where members actually respect each other) - and this is my personal invitation for you to drop by and become a member.

Skyrim Nexus: This is the best place to find Skyrim mods.

Official Skyrim Site - Bethesda Softwork's Skyrim home page.

The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages - Skyrim Section ( - "We have been building a collaborative source for all knowledge on the Elder Scrolls series of games since 1995 . . . . This site's purpose is to provide information; therefore, most of the content contains spoilers."
Arwen Note: this is a great place to find Skyrim resources, such as lore (for the entire series), maps, and much more.

NVIDIA's Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tweak Guide - "The aim of this guide is to allow you to better understand and utilize all of the configuration options available in Skyrim, as well as a selection of advanced tweaks to enhance the game."

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