Things I’ve learned while wandering Skyrim.

As a quick follow up to my recent Skyrim article, I’ve decided to share a couple of the things I’ve learn about playing Skyrim. Little tips to make life easier, and sometimes more entertaining.

1: Neigh, neigh, snuffle, snuffle, neigh! (Man you’ve put on weight!)

In Skyrim your horse is your (temperamental see below.) best friend. She carries you in to danger, bearing up under the insane weight of you, your armor and all of your loot. And all this without complaining. Even if say you’ve just cleared out the Forsaken Cave and Crypt, meaning that you’re inventory now weighs in at a respectable 900 pounds. And better yet, you can still fast travel while you’re riding your horse, even if you now weight about the same as Jabba the Hutt. A great time saver when you consider all the tooing and froing you’d have to do otherwise to get all your stuff to any vender.

2: You like it? I made it.

There is very little more satisfying in Skyrim than to cut down a dragon with a weapon you forged yourself. Or survive a hail of arrows due to armor you made for yourself. But training the Smithing skill can be kinda time consuming, right? Not so young Dragonborn. First of all don’t make any steel, it’s a waste of iron ore. Instead make, loot, mine and buy as many iron ingots as you can. Iron ores and ingots can be bought from blacksmith NPC’s and sometimes in smaller amounts from general stores. While you’re at it buy, or loot every last petty soul gem you can find. Again general stores and mage vendors. Now move on to the next step.

3: Charge the bastards down!

Filling soul gems is a pain in the arse at lower levels. Cast the spell, kill the bugger in under the timespan of the spell, all the while hoping nothing blindsides you. Well I’m here to tell you that it need not be that way. Find yourself a sword, axe, or mace (one or two handed based on what you want to train up) that comes pre-enchanted with the “of binding” suffix. Fill your inventory with all the petty soul gems. Climb up on your horse, and start practicing those cavalry charges on Mudcrabs. I’m not joking, not even a little. Hold down the trigger, and powerstrike as you charge past. Boom “Soul Gem Filled”. This works great on deer of different types, wolves, foxes, even rabbits. It’s also faster for gathering leather than hunting them down with a bow…but if you just have to use a bow get your Mongol on and do it from horseback. So you’re not only filling soul gems, gathering Alchemy, Enchantment, Cooking, and Smithing materials. But you’re also leveling up your weapon, or even magic skills.

4: Bang, bang, bang went the hammer.

Head home, and forge a lot of iron daggers. Hundreds of them. They each cost one Iron Ingot, and one Leather Strip. Making them a cheap way to level up your Smithing. Then head to the nearest enchantment table, disenchant any weapon (not your soul binding one) and just enchant dagger after dagger. This will let you sell them for a profit, thus making you filthy rich, but it will also quickly level your Enchantment skills. I would advise however against using any perks you gain until you decide what type of Enchantment and Armor you want to wear end game. Also keep the higher level Soul Gems for when you have a piece that is really worth enchanting in a serious way, because leveling these skills is based on the number of uses of the skill, not on the effectiveness of the product.

And finally.

5: Lydia, you may look all delicious in your armor, but please stay away from me in combat. (That goes for you too horse!)

Companions in Skyrim can be useful. But if you’re like me and tend to sneak constantly, taking pot-shots with your bow to wear down targets before charging in with your sword, they can be a liability too. Lydia, the first companion you gain, is a perfect example. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve ended up with my brains clubbed out because she refused to stay hidden. I’ve also lost track of how many times she’s gotten me killed by charging in and engaging ever enemy in a room, instead of taking them out, one by one. Personally I think she’s just trying to get me killed so she can go back to serving in Dragonsreach.

My horse is even worse. I think she’s waiting safely for me behind a boulder, and the next thing I know she’s attacking someone who wandered too close to me, and oh, oh, oh…yes she’s now dead. I’m overburdened, and now I have to walk the whole way home with my bow fully drawn so I can move at a speed slightly faster than a crawl. Or even worse than that, she’s decided “No fuck you human, I’m gonna walk back to the stables…on the other side of that mountain range.”

The companions can be so random in what they decide to do, that generally I just adventure alone. Using my horse only when I’m hunting, or I know I’ll be going underground, or into a building immediately. It’s just less hassle. Besides, Lydia looks so much better lying on my bed back in Breezehome.

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