{Procrastination Post} Modding Skyrim: Custom Male Followers Get A Custom NPCs House and Still No Quest

In my previous procrastination post I introduced my custom male followers I created for my own amusement for the fabulous game of Skyrim. They were sandboxing in High Hrothgar and had their own small story. All I wanted to add was a simple quest to get them as followers. After studying tutorials I still don’t quite follow the whole quest creation procedure, but I will get there eventually. I’m persistent. It takes me longer to master stuff, but when I do, I’m thoroughly anal with it. And since there is a lot to learn here — especially when it will come to scripting, I’m set up for some portion of my procrastinator’s life.

The reason I got into modding at all was that I needed a new hobby. I got bored with everything I do outside writing (and maybe even with writing itself as it was!) and now I can feel the spark I thought I had lost a long time ago. It is quite reinvigorating for me.

So, all this aside, I sat down and wrote my first quest. I still don’t know how to implement it, but now I will need to rewrite it, since my in-game conditions changed.

While the characters were placed in high Hrothgar, this was what I had in store for them. It’s nothing special and I tried to be lore-friendly. But it still came out quite silly. πŸ˜€

STARTED: APPRENTICE TONGUES

I’ve noticed two young Nord men in High Hrothgar who seem to be studying with the Greybeards. They appear quiet and reclusive, like the rest of the monks. I want to learn more about these two.

>> Objective 5: Talk to any of the Silver-Eye brothers

DRENNAN BRANCH
Player: Hi there. Who are you?
Drennan: I’m Drennan. And the skinny guy over there is my little brother Verod. So, Master Arngeir thinks you are Dragonborn?
Player: Yes, it seems so.
Drennan: Amazing! I bet you had your fair share of adventures with that destiny already. I wouldn’t mind having a dose of those, but Master Arngeir will probably be against any warmongering on my part… (Sigh) and my brother and I have errands to run. Perhaps some other time, friend.

VEROD BRANCH
Player: Hello. Who are you?
Verod: I’m Verod, and there’s my elder brother Drennan. Are you really Dragonborn?
Player: Yes, it seems so.
Verod: Interesting! I wouldn’t mind sharing the fun of battle and treasure hunting, but Master Arngeir has some tasks for me and my brother to complete. Perhaps some other time, eh?

>> Objective 10: Talk to Arngeir

Player: I though there were only five of you. (This dialogue appears after the player asked Arngeir how many of them were in High Hrothgar and if the player had talked to any of the two potential followers, the event which starts the quest APPRENTICE TONGUES).

Arngeir: Yes, as I’ve said it before. The other two young men you’ve seen here are our apprentice Tongues.

Player: They look strong.

Arngeir: (Sighs) Foolhardy sometimes. Talented as they are, the Silver-Eye brothers have been mastering to use the Voice since very young age and hopefully one day will become Greybeards themselves. Not yet, though. They have much to learn.

Player: I think I’m starting to understand why you’re being too cautious with me.

Arngeir: True. Perhaps, a bit overcautious. Mistakes with entrusting this kind of power can have dire consequences. Both brothers are capable warriors and good men, and they have thirst for knowledge and peace in their hearts, yet they are still full of adventurous fire and curiosity. As they are now, the Throat of the World is a little bit confining for the two. You should speak to them, Dragonborn. Knowing both, I have no doubt they would agree to aid you on your journeys.

>> Objective 20: Talk to Drennan

Player: It seems Arngeir doesn’t mind if you two go out into the world. Are you still interested to join my travels?

Drennan: Really? Maybe because it’s you, Dragonborn. Sure, why not. However, I don’t want to leave the little one behind. Verod won’t show it, but me going without him will make the guy sad. We’ve been together since forever, though we have different mothers.

Player: Ah, that’s how it is. One can’t tell you are related just by looking at you two.

Drennan: We may not look alike, but our bloodline has been around for a long time. We trace our ancestry to one of the early Dovah-Sonaak… a dragon priest of Atmora of old. We are not of Dragonblood like you, but we still proudly carry the power of our Nordic forefathers, bestowed upon mortal men by Kyne herself. The dragon cult is long gone, but here we are.

Player: Descendants of a dragon priest, eh. I’m intrigued. Maybe it is truly our fateful meeting. So, are you versed in dragon language?

Drennan: Geh, Dovahkiin. Of course.

Player: I’ve encountered a few word walls. They made me curious and I was looking for someone who could help me translate the writings. Or at least teach me the basics. Between the draugr-punching, or something.

Drennan: Ah, yes. The walls that harbor words of power. They are all over Skyrim’s hidden, dangerous places. A bridge between the realm of the ancient Nords, and our own. Dragonborn, I would be honored to help you with your linguistic pursuits. But you should speak to my brother. He is also able to help you… with language… in some dark tomb.

>> Objective 30: Talk to Verod

Verod: I heard your conversation and I won’t mind if you two leave me here. Drennan is a beast in battle. However, if you have room for one more sword-or-spell-arm for your adventures, or you prefer a battlemage, Dragonborn, I’ll gladly jump into my traveling gear.

Player: Sure, I’d love to have you both. (Player has multiple follower mod installed and likes both characters.)
Player: Sorry, I don’t like crowds. I need someone for close combat. So I would have to ask your brother Drennan to come along instead.
Player: Sorry, I don’t like crowds. But I’d like you to come with me. I need a good Mage in combat.
Player: Not now. I’ve decided I’ll go solo for a little longer.

>> Objective 40: Talk to Drennan

Drennan: I see you made up your mind. Very well then. For the future reference, if you change your mind, you know where to look for any of us.

Player: Yeah. It’s time we get going.
Player: Yeah, thanks, I got to go now.

>> Objective 200: Quest Completed. Reward: Possible Free Followers (Drennan and Verod)

QUEST LOG: After I learned more about the two Greybeards-in-training and they got acquainted with me better, the brothers agreed to provide support on my future adventures, whenever that might be.

If this made you cringe — hey, I tried. πŸ˜€

However, after a few fresh playthroughs I got annoyed with how long I had to play before I could get them to follow me. I needed to travel to High Hrothgar and complete my training as Dragonborn before I could even talk to them. The pleasure of custom followers is that you can get them ASAP.

Besides, with one of my mods (Eager NPCs) which made dragon powers some sort of porn stuff and making people aroused — everyone in High Hrothgar is sex-mad! — things got awkward pretty soon. So I decided to make them their own house. The house is not intended for player and is owned by the NPCs. So if you trespass or steal from them, they will brutally kick your ass. πŸ™‚

Fighting them is not advised, since they are essential and have massive amounts of life. Unless you cheat in game, you’ll end up dead. At the beginning of the game you are a nobody and they are level 150 + bonuses.

The story behind their house idea was pretty simple: their father died and they had to return home from High Hrothgar to bury him. And eventually they remained in Whiterun until they met Dragonborn. Why didn’t they help the fine folk of Whiterun when the dragon attacked? They can’t kill a dragon permanently — they are no Dragonborn — and they don’t want to show their power and magic, otherwise they will have trouble with the locals. Nords don’t like magic people and those two are damn hot magical Nords.

So, the house. I took me 3 attempts to finish what I had started.

The first attempt ended badly since I placed the house in Whiterun (between Olava’s and Ysolda’s houses, there is a rock patch). Placed is not a good word. Squeezed into the place is better. And eventually I fucked up the Whiterun cell navmesh. So I had to scrap that one.

fail
This how a failure looks like.

The second house I made was good. I made a beautiful inner cell. Only to realize that I edited a vanilla cell I had copied from BY MISTAKE. So I had to return to the basics of this mod and build everything from scratch again…

But then I finally succeeded.

All was left to do is to fix the damn navmesh in the outer cell. Now, I’m not really good with this thing yet. But I was lucky I didn’t place my house on the cell intersection and I had an object I removed earlier from the map — a log — that left me with the edges of the navmesh to work with. LUCKY!

It took me several attempts to make the navmesh comply with what I wanted it to look like. When I was done, my NPCs could leave and enter the house and walk around as they normally would. THE JOY! πŸ˜€

working

drennansilver-eye1
Drennan Silver-Eye
verodsilver-eye1
Verod Silver-Eye

So all was left to do was to give them basic AI packages so they would interact with their house and even go for a drink to Bannered Mare in the evening.

headingtodrink
Heading out for a drink.

drink1

The house is near Whiterun — close to the intersection where the Dragonborn first hears the call of the Greybeards after he kills his first dragon at the watchtower. It’s a good place. Whiterun is overcrowded anyway, with Dragonborn buying the last available house. πŸ˜€

location

The interior is pretty simple. A couple of common beds, a wardrobe, a couple of book cases, an arcane enchanter and an alchemy lab, some rare and valuable books, a table to eat and few chairs to sit, and a cooking area. Good enough for the two tough Nords. πŸ˜€

books01
Some books on Daedra
books02
Dragons, draugr, lusty argonian maid and some skooma. πŸ˜€
interiors02
Cooking area
interiors01
Cooking area and the dining hall
interiors04
Drennan’s corner
interiors03
Verod’s corner

Now that I’m done here, I’ll focus on the quest (or possibly a quest line). Writing a good one takes time. However, I have no voice actors for the job, so the mod will use Fuz Ro D’oh, which in turn requires SKSE (installed via Steam). Optional requirements: Amazing Follower Tweaks (supports up to 5 followers) with Followers Wander.

EDITED NOV 20 2016

After some musing I placed Dibella’s shrine in the house and dropped Amulets of Dibella into character inventories. They are not particularly religious, but they are taking part in Skyrim’s sex cult. πŸ˜€

dibellasfaithful
Dibella’s Faithful

After some tweaking of AI packages, they are now following a schedule:

Sleep 01.00 – 08.00, the house door is locked;
Breakfast 08.00 – 10.00, the player can enter the house;
Work outside 10.00 – 12.00, the house door is locked;
Sit on the bench outside 12.00 – 13.00, the house door is locked;
Dinner 13.00 – 15.00, the player can enter the house;
Work outside 15.00 – 18.00, the house door is locked;
Work inside 18.00 – 21.00, the player can enter the house;
Heading to Bannered Mare for food and drink at 21.00 and stay there until 01.00.
Then the cycle continues.

bench1
Chillin’ outside. Go on, ask them to follow you. πŸ™‚

{Procrastination Post} Modding Skyrim: Custom Male Followers Mod and a Possible Quest

The last time I did one of these procrastination posts, I made a book cover for a friend. Before I started to procrastinate professionally again on my current project, I hit 75+ K words on part 1 until I sailed into dead waters and I’m still not in the mood to finish the job. I like doing so with a bang, anything else is just underwhelming. It’s not like I have any hard deadlines with the book–I may spend years on it. I began working on it years before I wrote my previous works, after all. I have the story outlined until the very end, even the final scene planned, but my brain is not ready to see in pretty pictures yet. So what a girl to do for months? Create other things until everything works as she envisions it.

So, Skyrim. Before I set out to try the Creation Kit myself, I played hundreds of hours in vanilla, then I modded the hell out of my game (as much as my machine allowed this) during the last few months. Now, I don’t have a very powerful rig. I have a Dell Inspiron 15 3542 notebook which is rather mediocre at best (I get to run Skyrim Special Edition at Very Low quality and it sucks, so I won’t be modding this one). Currently my stats say I have 85 active mods and those do not include any graphics mods (better lighting, water, etc.), because I have no interest in them. I’m more items-quests-NPCs-oriented in this regard. I collect things and I like good stories, even if they are short.

So, Skyrim mods. My favorite mods so far are Konahriik’s Accouterments (and everything that comes along with it) and Eager NPCs (for sex lab, duh) because there is so much to do with it. πŸ˜€ Amorous Adventures gets a special mention, because more quests is always good. And suddenly Skyrim is more rounded and full of life that is missing from vanilla game due to nature of content. All that is left is to bring more fun characters into game. There wasn’t a good choice of marriage partners in vanilla game, so naturally people would start making some. But I never marry in-game anyway. I have a wonderful hub IRL and Skyrim is my outlet for having a reverse harem. Besides killing dragons, that is. πŸ˜€

And castles. Don’t forget castles. This is my regular player home. Big thanks to the creator of this mod.

So, finally I decided to make something of my own as well. Whether I’ll share it with the masses, I don’t know yet. But I’m working to make something good out of it.

My mod so far includes two male followers, but I really want to learn how to make quests, so I can write one for them. (Writer’s habit, I guess.) I like vanilla Skyrim character faces and the only mod I use to design them is RaceMenu. Because I totally loathe beautification of Skyrim. These are supposed to be sturdy people, not supermodels. My mod will use whatever body replacer you use (I have SoS + its body, so it works with Shchlongs too) and totally works in vanilla Skyrim. WYSIWYG. That was the goal.

followers
I’m not the only one who makes ugly characters, so deal with it. Personally, I think they are cute. Because.

So, a little background for these two.

Drennan and Verod Silver-Eye are Nord half-brothers sharing the same father and direct descendants of a Dragon Priest.

So, the quest I’m thinking about will involve the dragon cult and all that lore.

Both are set at level 150 regardless of when you meet them. They can be found sandboxing in High Hrothgar, studying the Way of the Voice. Both know a few Dragon Shouts; Drennan already mastered four – Unrelenting Force, Ice Form, Fire Breath and Disarm. His brother Verod knows Unrelenting Force, Ice Form, and Disarm.

Drennan, the older and bigger of the two, is also skilled in Conjuration and can summon a Dragon Priest or a Dremora Lord, but his main strength is in his sword arm; he is a double wielder and prefers to fight with two swords.

drennansilvereye
Drennan Silver-Eye

His brother Verod is skilled in Destruction and can easily bring a Legendary Dragon down to the ground with his shock spells. If the situation demands it, he will also double wield his swords and slash his enemies good.

verodsilvereye
Verod Silver-Eye

Both brothers are experienced archers and have high sneak skills. Their preference is light armor. Both also have perks that benefit weapons with fire, frost or shock enchantments. Their morality allows any crime.

Both Drennan and Verod are fiercely protective of their friends and allies and will not run away from any battle. Both are marriageable.

To take them both on an adventure you’d need a mod like Amazing Follower Tweaks or something. Otherwise one at a time.

I admit I need to make Verod more balanced and I’m still tweaking his abilities. He just tries to kill everything with his Lightning Storm spell… Drennan is awesome in combat (he has his own style, just like his little brother). Both obliterate everything they get their hands on and it’s nice to see a battlemage follower who doesn’t scream “help!”. πŸ˜€

I might switch to leveling with the character mode, but I tested them on a high level character (I’m currently level 265), so I skipped that part.

Now all is left is to write the quest to get them as followers, or maybe I’ll have something else for them in store. πŸ™‚

Between Inspired Writing and Hard Work

I’m naturally lazy. I admit it and I’m not ashamed of it. I can get shit done when I need to, but I won’t be busy with it until, well, the need arises. Or inspiration. So I have to admit that doing 70k words without inspiration is a fucking chore. There’s no fun in it, even if there was a spark of brilliance here and there. The book in progress — Rjg — is good. Better than anything I’ve done before. It is full of wonderful characters, with vibrant setting and twisted plot. Yet when writing becomes a chore it is not something I’m thrilled to do, so I had to stop. For a month, for two months, and look back at where did I go wrong. Why something I loved so much became a living hell. It’s not my first book by all means. I’ve successfully finished projects before. I’m not burned out, am I? No, not really. Depression is something I’ve lived and worked with before, and I was doing well enough. But it’s not just the book. I can no longer produce even my worldbuilding articles, which I had been creating for fun.

There’s something I forgot the meaning of: inspired writing. Now it feels like walking into an empty room and partying alone. There is something in my brain that is not right. It doesn’t tick. And I’m well aware of it. And from creative standpoint it is terrifying. Because in all honesty I don’t know how to fix it. Excitement doesn’t spark even when I’m reading, reading things I would normally love, be entertained with.

Nope.

Silence.

The world is still colorful. It is full of meaning. Nothing is different outside. But it is no longer inspiring.

It is depression. Somehow it got worse.

I will probably continue to write things, through hard work alone. But I don’t know what will come out of this emptiness. Maybe I could use it to create somehow. That’s the only thing I can think of right now.

Wrestling With Scrivener

After nearly two decades of being a MS Word power user I finally decided to invest into Scrivener. I have to say I’m actually horrified at the amount of things I have to learn (according to the manual) to become prolific in this thing, but oh well, shiny coin already spent. I don’t know if I’m going to regret my decision, because I didn’t do it before I started my new book. I don’t find the experience of moving to a new software fun and not because I hate learning new things. Even this simple task of importing text threw me out of my comfort zone. πŸ˜€ Anyway, here I am, in the middle of transferring my manuscript. Good it is only some 70k. I’m actually thinking of doing the same with my previous books, just to keep them all in one place.

I feel like a damn newb. >_<
I feel like a damn newb.

This whole affair will definitely slow me down from my writing, but no more than 800 hours of playing Skyrim did. And this game introduced me to the hell of a simulation sickness before my suffering was mitigated enough and I could enjoy it. πŸ˜€

SkyrimScreen

So, yeah, Scrivener, challenge accepted.