Tag Archives: Aranea

Skyrim Strategy Journal: FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions I often see around the message boards that I will provide here along with my own hard-earned answers:
1) There are some enchantments I can’t learn because I can’t seem to find the items necessary for disenchanting. Any ideas where I can find some of these more elusive enchanted items?
The best advice here is to explore, explore, explore (at least 75% of enchantments can be found on generic items in random loot spread across Skyrim). However, it’s true that many of the more common enchanted items found in the game also happen to be “named” items and, thus, cannot be disenchanted (e.g., you can’t disenchant an Amulet of Zenithar to learn Fortify Haggle).
Nevertheless, in my sweeping explorations I have found a place where you can find a couple of the more elusive generic enchanted items ripe for disenchanting. Visit the Radiant Raiment in Solitude (who would’ve guessed?) The two snobbish sisters that run the place usually have at any given time at least one of two VERY rare generic enchanted necklaces for sale: a Necklace of Minor Haggling or a Necklace of Remedy. Chances are you will not find these in loot, and either of them are definitely worth their asking prices of near two thousand septims each. The first carries Fortify Haggling and the second Fortify Healing Rate.

The Muffle and Water Breathing enchantments are also particularly hard to find. The latter can sometimes be found on a helmet for sale by the blacksmith in Riverwood (forget his name at the moment). I’ve also heard that a helmet of water breathing can be one of the items to loot from the skeleton at Cradlecrush Rock. The Muffle enchantment can only be learned from radomly generated items for sale by seemingly random merchants, including Radiant Raiment. Otherwise, you won’t find these enchantments on generic loot.
This link has a pretty comprehensive table of all the enchanment modifiers in the game and their corresponding item terminology:
2) Where do I find gold ore, gold ingots and flawless diamonds?
The best place in the game to mine gold ore is Kolskeggr Mine in The Reach, just east of Markarth. You’ll have to clear out some Foresworn, but it’s well worth your trouble. If you hit every vein, you’ll make out with about 46 chunks of gold ore (not to mention some precious gems… usually a couple emeralds and/or sapphires). There’s also a flawless sapphire on one of the bookcases in the main chamber (with all of the scaffolding) as well as a few gold ingots hidden in a darkened wagon. When you exit, be sure to use the conveniently located smelter to turn those nuggets into ingots.
In general, the next best place to find gold ore and ingots just laying around are in any of the Dwemer ruins/cities. However, the single best place in the game to find a rather large cache of gold ingots (like eight of them) is Forsaken Cave, a Nordic ruin located in the Pale. You’ll find the bulk of them in a large pot sitting on a table in the catacombs (make sure to jump onto the table and look down into the pot or you can easily miss them). The alternate and far easier method to obtain gold ore is to simply use the Transmute Mineral Ore Alteration spell on silver ore. For a small price, the spell can either change iron ore to silver ore and/or silver ore to gold ore. You can find the spell tome in the Nordic tomb of Ansilvund.
So far, there are only two places in the game where I have found a flawless diamond. The first is a secret area at the far end of Stony Creek Cave in Eastmarch. If you can somehow make your way to the top of the waterfall at the final chamber (use perfectly timed jumps OR your Whirlwind sprint from a high enough section of wall), you will reach a secret tunnel that will access the back end of the Dwemer ruin of Kagrenzel. The flawless diamond sits atop a darkly lit archway (you’ll probably need a torch to see it). Just as with the waterfall, you’ll have to enage in some fancy maneuvering to get to it (I found that switching to third-person helped with this one).
The other flawless diamond is a little trickier to spot. It’s underwater next to an abandoned boat north of Reachwater Rock in the river. The boat has a strong box in it (so you’ll know when you find it). Once on the boat, look West and then dive in the water. The flawless diamond is covered by a few empty mead bottles. You’ll also find a sunken chest and a couple sunken mead barrels.
Also, if you’re able to complete the rather involved quest, No Stone Unturned, the Prowler’s Profit reward/perk will allow you to start finding flawless diamonds as random loot.
3) Who are the best followers?
The answer to this question will depend largely on your own character type as well as the sort of adventuring you will be engaged in. Remember that followers will usually not die in combat with other NPCs unless they are poisoned or fall into some sort of trap (like a Flame Atronach blowing up or something). In fact, YOU will be the most likely cause of your own follower’s death! For example, if you and your follower are both in a melee clash with multiple opponents, your follower may drop to their knees (which will yield NPC attackers) only to have you accidentally blindside them with an errant blow from your warhammer. This is why I prefer using my followers as long- to mid-range backup. Also, unlike your follower, you will be much more likely to hit them if you’re the one providing the covering fire (whereas the follower won’t miss). I’ll admit I haven’t yet utilized every follower. But I have employed about half of them, and I can tell you with confidence which ones won’t disappoint.
Aranea is awesome and compatible with just about any character type. She’s a favor follower and can be found at the Shrine of Azura (you’ll have to complete Azura’s quest and obtain Azura’s Star, NOT the Black Star, to gain Aranea’s favor). A strong Dark Elf, Aranea is primarily a destruction mage. She’s very aggressive and will willingly dual-wield staffs if you equip her, which also ensures she stays at mid-range in combat. She’ll also heal herself regularly (in fact, she doesn’t like it when you try to heal her) and has some of the surest feet in the game (she will almost never trigger pressure plates and is very adept at staying on the path you layout for her). The only downside to using Aranea is that you can’t marry her, which is always advantageous with a follower because his or her shop will always earn you extra money (even if they’re not running it). But other than that, she’s awesome. Out of my five campaigns, two of my characters now use Aranea as their trusted follower.
Jenassa, another tough-as-nails Dark Elf, sells her services as a mercenary and can be found at the Drunken Huntsman in Whiterun. You can hire her for 500 gold. That may sound steep, but she’s worth every Septim. Obviously, if you marry her, you won’t have to worry about paying her fee again in case you get split up. Jenassa has the best stealth stats out of any other follower, so all you thieves or assassins out there are foolish not to have her at your back. She’s also a proficient archer, and is one of the only followers that can make effective use of dual melee weapons (like two swords or daggers). If you’re going to use her as a melee combatant, however, I would advise you equip her with some high rated light armor, preferably enchanted. I was having a lot of trouble with her dying on me when facing Falmers (because of their damn poison attacks), so I countered the situation by giving her the poison resistant Dark Brotherhood armor. Then she was practically unstoppable.
Not surprisingly, the instant classic Skyrim NPC, Aela the Huntress, makes a fantastic follower. However, to gain her favor, you’ll have to complete the Companions quest line which will keep you busy for a while (so until she’s available, use Aranea or Jenassa ;-). As her name suggests, Aela has maxed out stats in Archery (and also happens to be a Master Trainer). So use her as an archer! She makes an unbelievable combat companion when it comes to providing ranged cover fire. Give her a powerful bow and some decent arrows, and she’ll practically take down dragons herself. You’ll also watch enemies fall before you even have a chance to touch them. Marry that woman!
Mjoll the Lioness. Not only is she one of the heaviest tanks in the game, she can also be utilized as an effective ranged attacker with her decent archery stat. Also, like Aranea, she’ll kick serious ass with dual staffs equipped. But the biggest plus with Mjoll is that she CANNOT die. She’s the only follower to my knowledge that’s considered an “essential” NPC and, therefore, cannot be killed. Mjoll would be my first choice for a follower but for a couple drawbacks. First of all, she seems to be incredibly difficult to gain favor with. Out of my five characters, I was only able to petition the favor quest out of her with one. It seems that if you’re a member of either the Thieves Guild or the Dark Brotherhood (or maybe both?) she will not offer you the quest to retrieve her sword. She lets you know her disdain for the Thieves Guild in your first dialogue with her, so it probably has more to do with that. Well, four of my five characters happen to be charter members! 😉 The other thing (really more of an annoyance than a drawback) is that Mjoll has a follower of her own, a useless runt named Aerin. He’s not an issue outside of towns, as he ceases to follow Mjoll when she is following you, but every now and then he’ll pop up when you’re in a city and start conversing with Mjoll, even when she’s still in your service. I don’t know if this is a glitch or what, but it happened to me a few times and it reminded me too much of that little bastard from Oblivion (you know, the little fan you acquired from the Arena who randomly appeared like Santa’s Little Helper with a torch?) I’ve heard, however, that if Mjoll joins the Blades with you, Aerin WILL follow and there’ll be a good chance he is killed by a dragon. Problem solved!
As far as followers I didn’t like, here would be a few to steer clear of: Cicero (for no other reason than he’s incredibly annoying), Anneke Cragg-Jumper (her stealth sucks and she’ll trigger every trap in a room… even finding a few new ones), and Marcurio (I know others would disagree with me because he’s such a powerful mage, but he’ll go down in an instant if any enemies get past his initial barrage, half the time dying from poison or explosions).
4) What’s the best way to make lots of gold fast?
If I knew that, I wouldn’t be writing this blog! 😉 I actually spent a little time addressing this in a previous post. Obviously, there are tons of ways to get fat stacks of septims in Skyrim. Forging, enchanting and selling your own expensive jewelry is something you can start doing immediately, and at the same time you’ll be quickly leveling three different skills. But perhaps the best way to get gold in Skyrim is so obvious that it’s NOT so obvious: choose your race as an Imperial! As an Imperial, you will find and make TWICE as much gold as you would with any other race at any given time. It’s that simple. Out of my five characters, only one is an Imperial. And guess what? She’s the RICH one!
5) What are the best Dragon Shouts to fully learn and invest my dragon souls?
To be honest, the best and most useful Shouts in the game are mainly the ones you procure during the Main Quest. For example, the first part of Whirlwind Sprint is the second Shout the Dragonborn learns and it’s just as useful at Level 10 as it is at Level 30. Dragonrend is incredibly useful (also learned during the Main Quest). And the Call Dragon Shout (all parts learned during The Fallen) is about as cool as it gets. As far as other Shouts that I’ve found very useful on more than one occasion: Animal Allegiance and Slow Time. The former is very useful for low- to mid-level stealth-based characters who get into trouble in the wilds (it can be hard for a rogue/archer to take down two cave bears and a sabertoothe) while the latter can help in complex room puzzles and grandscale combat scenarios. Storm Call is a very powerful Shout, but it also has a tendency to kill followers.

Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Skyrim, Strategy


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Skyrim: Quick Character Example (Starting Out)

Yesterday, a blogger friend of mine challenged me to give an example of how I started one of my own campaigns on Skyrim. Okay… I’ll try to make this quick.

Should be an early stop for most adventurers.

I usually have three to four campaigns going at any given time to keep things interesting. Currently, I have a Barbarian, a Necromancer, a Spellsword/Battle Mage, and a very stealthy Rogue. Except for the Necromancer and Spellsword, they all couldn’t be more different. I pretty much just started the campaigns for all four (as I received the game over Christmas). Guess what I did before I even inserted the disc? I purchased the hardback special edition strategy guide off Amazon for less than $20 (major bargain).

Anyway, the last campaign I started was with my Necromancer, so I’ll use her as the example. She’s all about magic (obviously), and eventually she’ll be raising lots of dead things 😉 Since she’s a Breton and not a High Elf, it’s important that I raise her total magicka as quick as possible (only High Elves have the comfort of possessing a huge amount of magicka at the outset). Her skill focus is almost entirely on Conjuration magic with secondary focus given to Restoration, Destruction and a wee bit of Alteration. As soon as I stepped out of the underground tunnel leading to the outside with that hulking Nord, I already had four missions in mind: seek out a blessing, obtain Azura’s Star, join the College of Winterhold, and finagle my way into the Dark Brotherhood (in that order). First, I hit the cluster of Standing Stones just off the road while heading to Riverwood. I chose the blessing of the Mage Stone, which allowed me to immediately begin increasing my magic-oriented attributes at 20% faster than the normal rate. Advanced players might argue that I should have taken the Warrior Stone’s blessing–the logic there being that since I would be constantly using magic, the 20% increase would better supplement my non-magical attributes to offset the fact that I’m using magic all of the time and leveling those skills quickly regardless. However, since my Necromancer is a purist, she will probably never wield a sword or even a dagger unless she absolutely has to. So my counter-logic would argue that taking anything but the Mage Stone would be throwing my blessing out the window (in this case, anyway). Later in the campaign, I’ll probably switch my blessing to the Ritual Stone. Next, I headed straight for the Shrine of Azura. Since I had the strategy guide’s map, I didn’t need any in-game help to clue me in as to the shrine’s whereabouts. Not only would completing this Daedric Quest get me Azura’s Star (no, I didn’t want the Black Star and I won’t get into why), but it would ALSO get me my first companion, the deadly Aranea. Kill two birds, I say. Since I was playing a pure magic user, having a companion was not only desirable, it was downright necessary. Aranea also was a magic user (mainly conjuration and destruction), and she would be used to both distract and to double-team opponents. Unless you’re playing a character with heavy armor, you should seriously consider a quest companion as soon as possible. Otherwise, you better save your game often. Mission three was to head north to Winterhold. I did so, easily dispatching anything in my path with my new sister-in-arms. Note that my mission here was only to gain access to the College, not necessarily to play through the whole line of quests. By simply joining, I suddenly had an entire stronghold and almost everything within at my disposal. The same would be said for my fourth mission, seeking out the Dark Brotherhood. My Necromancer happened to have an evil streak (well… she IS a Necromancer), so the Dark Brotherhood was an appropriate choice thematically. But even if your character is a goodie-two-shoes, don’t rule out this powerful faction. The best horse of the game, Shadowmere, can be procured through them (as far as I’m concerned, Shadowmere is the ONLY horse in the game). Add to that yet another sweet base of operations with tons of fringe benefits.

So there you have it. And I believe my fledgling Necromancer accomplished all of that (and more) in less than five hours of gameplay.

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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Skyrim, Strategy


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