Yesterday I finished the main quest for Skyrim. I originally planned to put it off until later, breaking it up by going through the faction quests, but by that time I was two-thirds the way through so I figured I might as well fulfill my destiny. Especially after I read that completing the main quest doesn’t stop dragons from spawning (like the Oblivion gates in Oblivion) so I didn’t have to worry about missing out on some Shouts.
In some ways, the main quest doesn’t seem quite as profound as some of the other faction quests, but I think that’s mainly because it’s more straightforward. There aren’t any major twists or turns to the story. But that’s not to say it’s a bad story. Far from it. It’s still fun & has some really interesting moments. For me, the highlights were actually getting to use an Elder Scroll (something that hasn’t happen in any of my previous games) & travelling to Sovengard (the Nordic afterlife) for the final confrontation with Alduin.
Because the main quest is much longer than the faction lines, I’m going to break this down into three acts. Why? Because that’s how it’s broken down on the Wiki Guide. And it would be too long a post to have them all listed at once.
Unbound. Why does Bethesda enjoy trying to kill the protagonist off at the very start of the game? Every Elder Scrolls game starts with you in prison for some reason. As I’ve only played since Morrowind, I can’t say if this was always the case, but so far every game starts with you being a criminal. The start of Skyrim is about as subtle as a brick to the teeth. My head was literally on the chopping block when a dragon interrupts & sets the whole thing on fire, forcing me to flee with the ally of my choice. Personally, I stuck with the Imperials. Yeah, they tried to kill me, but it was the Stormcloaks’ fault they were there in the first place. All joking aside, I really like the way they set up the world in just the first few minutes. I remember when I started in Morrowind not having any idea what was going on with the island. The dialogue leading up to the execution does a good job at filling you in on the political situation.
Before the Storm. This is sort of like baby’s first quest. You don’t have to go straight to Riverwood, but you can take a lot of starting gear from whichever household you stay at, so it’s a good idea to check it out before going off on your own. There’s not a lot to say about this quest, however. It’s one of those in-between missions that bridge the gaps between two larger, proper quests.
Bleak Falls Barrow. I actually completed this mission before I needed to. In Riverwood, you can get a quest from the store owner to retrieve his stolen claw from the barrow. The claw is actually the key to reaching the Word Wall. Since this was my first dungeon, it was definitely a learning experience. Allow me to pass on my valuable knowledge:
Watch out when you see red liquid on the ground. It’s oil, & highly flammable. And while it is great to use against enemies, remember that fire doesn’t discriminate & it will burn you just as easily.
Beware of circular stones on the floor with what looks like a curvy S. These are pressure pads, & set off traps. You should be able to walk around them without setting the traps off… unless you have a follower with you (see my previous misadventures for more on this lovely feature of the game).
If you’re using stealth, you can attack the draugr before they animate. Pay close attention to draugr laying in the catacombs or standing in alcoves.
If you see a room with closed coffins, be wary. Most of them are set to pop open when you get to a certain point in the room.
Spiders are still creepy.
Listen carefully while in dungeons. A lot of sound effects will tell you what’s ahead. Footsteps mean draugr, skittering means spiders & chanting means a Word Wall.
Since I’d already completed this quest, I simply handed over the carving the mage needed & BAM! quest complete.
Dragon Rising. Since this was my first dragon encounter, it was also a learning experience. I believe this is the first dragon fight you can have, period, as they don’t start spawning until after this point. I died during my first run. Not from the dragon, but from jumping out of a window. I wish I was making that up. I killed the dragon, then decided it was faster to jump from the window of the tower than to go down the stairs. But it was too high for my poor Bosmer, & I died instantly. One reload & another dragon killing later, & I was the champion. Although it’s tough for lower level characters, I highly recommend slaying dragons. Not only do they give you souls to unlock Shouts, but the loot is pretty good too. I believe every dragon I’ve slain has several dragon bones & scales that you can sell or make into armor, as well as a decent chunk of gold (I guess from eating people). My #1 tip for surviving a dragon attack is to take cover. Until later in the game, it’s almost impossible to fight a dragon while it’s airborne, but they can certainly still attack you. Taking cover protects you from damage. Eventually they’ll either land or hover over a spot, where you can attack them. So be sure you have both melee & ranged weapons or spells available.
The Way of the Voice. On my way back to Whiterun there was a loud cracking, which I thought meant another dragon was about to appear, since it’s the same sound from the fight I just finished. But no, it’s just the start of the next quest. The journey to High Hrothgar (which always makes me think of the Beowulf movie) is a long one. Hermits, by their nature, always have to live in the most out of the way places, & this time they had to make their homes on the tallest mountain in Skyrim. Be careful going up the mountain path. It’s very narrow, & there are enemies. I faced a sabrecat & a frost troll. The Greybeards are interesting characters. Only one will talk to you, as apparently all the others have developed the power of the Shouts to the point that just speaking could kill you. Fun. But they do teach you a second word for the Unrelenting Force Shout as well as Whirlwind Sprint.
The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. Don’t you just love having to prove yourself in fantasy games? This time I had to go to an old tomb to retrieve a horn. The tomb is very large, & full of traps & puzzles, not to mention enemies. There’s also a Word Wall with a word for the Become Ethereal Shout, which turns you into a specter momentarily. It’s a pretty unique ability, as you can’t be damage or damage others. It’s basically good for quickly getting out of sticky situations (ie. putting distance between you & an enemy so you can heal). I won’t spoil the fun by telling you how to get passed the two puzzles, but I will give a hint. The first requires Whirlwind Sprint. I didn’t need a strategy for the second puzzle, since it involves pressure plates but by that point I had the perk not to set off traps. But you can use your new Become Ethereal Shout. A few points if you have a follower. After the first puzzle, it’s likely your follower won’t be able to follow you. Just wait for an hour & they should appear next to you. You can do this with any puzzle/trap situation. So I eventually made it to the end of this large dungeon, but instead of a horn, I find a note from a “friend.” Interesting…