I’m going to do something different for this look into Murderface’s life, by which I mean skipping ahead a couple of play sessions because I wanted to get this down while this extremely frustrating and hideously glitchy play session was still bright in my head.

Bonus: there are videos! Not-so-bonus: they’re filmed with my phone because I’m stuck on the PS3. FINGERS CROSSED I can port a PS3 save to the PS4 when the remastered version comes out, but I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway! Last time Murderface got married to the beauteous Sylgja because she didn’t run screaming from him at first sight, didn’t actively insult him, and seemed happy in his presence, which pretty much ruled out most of the rest of Skyrim’s population. Marriages have been made on worse grounds before. They’ve been settling in together, with a few hiccups here and there, until this, their first enormous challenge as a couple.

If you would like a portrait that perfectly encapsulates Murderface McKenzie’s (and my) rageface during this whole shebang, you can do no better than have a look at @ninjamonkeystudios’ Murderface marker portrait below the cut/jump/what-have-you:

(also on Tumblr)

Keep that firmly in mind as you read!

It’s been a few play sessions on, and I’ll get back to them because they’re somewhat important, what with Murderface advancing what little plot there is and actually killing THREE MORE DRAGONS BOO-YAH! He’d got the bug for better gear, and after glass armor, if he didn’t want to switch to heavy armor, the only place to go was dragonscale armor. He’d got plenty of dragon scales, but not the smithing ability.

Toby introduced me to a really good way to cheese your smithing skills: a dungeon crawl through ancient dwemer ruins, picking up various bits of dwemer scrap metal, and then using that to craft an approximate metric fuckton of dwarven bows. Which you can then drop onto many of the merchants around and, if this were a slightly more accurate simulation, wreck the economy for years to come.

So Murderface’s goal was to hit up some dwarven ruins and put this plan into action. Coincidentally, he’d been advancing the College of Mages plot far enough that he needed to go look for a MacGuffin called the Staff of Magnus, and the next step in that was to trawl the dwemer ruins of Mzulft. Off to Mzulft, for a lucrative dungeon crawl!

And, as soon as he arrived, the realization hit him that his inventory was full up of loot from his previous misadventures so he needed to sell what he could and dump the rest off at home, a fateful decision that unknowingly would set his current adventure on a completely different course.

After selling what he could in various places around Skyrim, he arrived home and stored his extra gear and crafting supplies in the storage boxes and bags around the house that he’d designated for such purpose. He then went looking for Sylgja, to request another Homecooked Meal--a food item you can receive once per day that resembles a fruit pie with latticework, and which bumps your health, stamina, and magicka regen--to get his share of the profts from her store, and to see if he could sell her some stuff.

Sylgja was nowhere to be found. Murderface tried his Detect Life spell, which pinpointed Valdimar and the girls inside, and the cow, horse, and remaining chicken outside, but showed no Sylgja. Murderface, and I, was beginning to get worried at this point. I knew that bandits kidnapping your spouse was a radiant quest possibility, but I also knew that it was glitchy and one of the glitches that prevented the quest from completing properly was going into your house after receiving notification of the kidnapping, and wasn’t sure if Murderface heading into his house then was going to trip the glitch or not. Murderface should probably have been more worried that Valdimar and the girls were behaving in a perfectly normal way, not mentioning the missing Sylgja at all.

I sent Murderface back outside again, and this time a bandit woman was in the process of killing his horse. He attempted to kill her, but the she triumphantly shouted that the bandits had dropped by earlier and enjoyed his wife’s company so much they took her back to their lair. Murderface was going to have to pony up 5000 septims if he wanted her back. She then escaped Murderface’s reach and killed his cow before he was able to set her on fire and decapitate her.

Well now. Someone kidnapped his wife, and now everyone had to die.

Pay ransom? As if! He could certainly afford it, but that sort of thing really wasn’t Murderface’s style. He set off for the bandit stronghold in a mood to do some murderin’. Upon arrival at Embershard, the mine they were hiding out in, he found a bandit and Rochelle the Red, the bandit leader, standing outside. As per his style, he rushed in throwing fireballs and swinging his axe and once he sorted out which direction he needed to be facing, he killed them.

Murderface engaged in the only thing approaching a religious observance he had: looting the bodies, then stripping them and dumping all the clothing, armor, and weapons he didn’t want next to them, as a sort of “fuck you--you don’t even have stuff worth stealing", plus showing that he didn’t consider them worthy of standing in front of their gods in full armor. Then he entered the mine.

The mystic message “Quest completed: rescue your spouse" floated in the air temporarily, but that didn’t put him off (although it puzzled me). Murderface dropped to a crouch to go through the mine, but kept his fireball spell and Skyforge Axe of Fuck You Up (fire damage and soul trap) at the ready because they were messier ways to die than a clean arrow shot, and he wanted them to suffer. He first encountered two bandits talking, one questioning the efficacy of the guarding methods they were using, and the other one assuring him that it was all right, because two bandits were on guard outside and they had a rockfall trap inside. Little did they know that Murderface had murdered the faces off the outside guards, and had all unknowingly managed to completely miss the tripwire attached to the rockfall trap.

After that conversation, Murderface got impatient and threw a fireball at them. Bandit #1 died instantly, while Bandit #2, on fire, staggered up the wooden ramp next to him and ran at Murderface, swearing to kill him. Another fireball finished him off. Murderface looted and stripped them, then poked around until he found the lever that lowered the drawbridge into the next part of the mine. Two more bandits spawned, and Murderface firebombed them as well.

He crept down the passageway, stopping to loot chests and shelves as he came across them, until he found the cell where Sylgja was stashed. Another bandit rushed at him before Murderface could talk to her, but a fireball and his axe finished the man off. If Sylgja didn’t know what sort of man she’d married before, she certainly did now.

Perhaps that’s what set off her...change in behavior, let’s call it. Or maybe...it’s not Sylgja that was locked in that cell.

Murderface approached her. “Hello, love!" she cried. “Back from some adventure, I bet!" There was no conversation option available for “I’m not going to let you out until everyone is dead, because they might kill you," so he contented himself with mutely banging into the bars a couple of times, hoping she’d understand, then crouched and crept deeper into the mine.

A couple of times he stopped to mine ore veins he came across. Sylgja was a miner through and through, he figured she’d understand.

He found 2 or 3 more bandits and carefully murderated, looted, and stripped them before going back to free his lovely wife. She greeted him again, and he unlocked the door.

Then he noticed something was ...a little off. She stood there, but acted as if she were walking in a weird way. “Are you OK?" he wanted to say, but didn’t have the option to. She smiled at him, walking in place, not exiting the cell.

This was when I went “Ah, hell, it’s that glitch." Sometimes when your spouse is kidnapped, they get bugged in a way that has them walking backwards for a bit, or sort of twitching in place, and getting stuck on things. If you’re on a PC you can use console commands to fix it, but on PS3 you’re stuck.

Video of the glitch in action:

Not pictured: the seconds immediately after the video ends, when I dropped the controller and, picking it up, accidentally made Murderface loose his new Fire Breath Shout at Sylgja. Luckily she is a forgiving woman, and only said something like “What was that?" instead of, say, dying horribly.

Sylgja eventually left her cell and greeted Murderface, then bade him goodbye as she walked into and out of conversation trigger range. She came upon the dead bandit and stopped, changing mien abruptly, as she looked down at him and muttered “I’m going to find you all." Then she amiably greeted Murderface again as he walked over to her, intending to comfort her.

She turned and walked down the passageway, which made me optimistic, but then she came upon another dead bandit and got stuck. Murderface dragged the body out of her way, but she remained stuck. He bumped into her in an effort to make her move, and eventually she turned and walked over to the other side of the passageway, where she got stuck again.

Murderface exited the mine, triggering the rockfall trap along the way but remaining unhurt because the trap-setters assumed that someone setting it off would be sneaking into the mine instead of running out, and then re-entered in the hopes that the loading screens would trigger Sylgja to at least get unstuck, if not be fixed. Alas, no such thing happened. Murderface bumped her a bit more and managed to get her to walk a couple of feet until she got stuck at the entrance to the bridge.

Well, hell. No way was she going to make the walk back home, even if she was able to get past the rockfall detritus. Murderface asked the gods while I perused the Skyrim wiki, and found a possible solution: reload a saved game and pay the ransom instead of killing all the bandits.

This didn’t appeal to Murderface, but I explained that he could pay the ransom and get Sylgja home, then kill all the bandits, and he agreed. So I loaded the save I made right after decapitating the messenger bandit and started over.

This time, Murderface strolled up to the mine entrance in as nonthreatening a manner as he could, to be met with bandits going insta-hostile and killing him without giving him the chance to pay the ransom. Gah.

I loaded the saved game again and this time thought I’d try a different approach: sneaking around to the hidden entrance of the mine that Murderface had discovered on his first foray and entering that way. Again, right after entering, the mystic words “Quest completed: rescue your spouse" appeared and Murderface thought, well, let’s give it a try, exited the cave, and teleported home. Alas, no Sylgja was to be seen, and the girls and Valdimar carried on as if Sylgja had never existed in the first place.

Back to the mine, still through the back entrance, and re-killing the bandits. There were two fewer bandits inside this time, as the two that spawn when the drawbridge is lowered don’t spawn if you lower it from the other side.

There was also one fewer Sylgja. Her cell was locked, but empty. Murderface unlocked her cell and had a look around just in case she was hiding behind a rock or something, but found no Sylgja. He continued on down the passageway in an even fouler mood than before and fireballed the two last bandits remaining inside before they could start talking about their lair’s security. He exited the mine via the main entrance, snuck up on the bandit guarding it who was obviously not expecting an attack from that direction, and buried his axe in the bandit’s head.

Also numbered among the inexplicably missing: Rochelle the Red, the bandit leader.

Murderface trudged home, sort of hoping for something or someone to attack so he could kill them because that was the sort of mood he was in, but no luck.

When he entered his house, though, Sylgja was there, stirring the pot full of orange chunky stuff Valdimar had set in front of the fire months ago (I assume it’s a perpetual curry that they keep tossing stuff into as bowlfuls get eaten). She turned her head to Murderface as he approached. “Hello, love! Back from some adventure, I bet."

Murderface sighed, his spirits lifting. Sylgja was home, and safe.

But was she?

Shortly afterward, she walked across the room, got stuck and marched in place for a little while, then walked backwards to her destination. I haven’t been able to really catch the glitch in all its glory, but she also tends to stand still in one place, watching everyone in a creepy manner.

Video 2, showing her creepily watching different people in turn:

Video 3, with Valdimar’s non-reaction:

And Video 4, showing her walking erratically in place, as Valdimar stares morosely at an empty set of shelves in the background:

So in-game, Murderface has accepted that Sylgja is home, but seems to have contracted some sort of post-traumatic thing that causes her to behave weirdly on occasion. He’s been in a lot of fights, and knows that violence can do things to a person, especially if you’re not inured to it. Maybe he shouldn’t have murderated someone in front of her, but Skyrim’s a tough world and he’s not about to let anyone get away with kidnapping his wife.

She still greets him warmly, makes him homecooked meals, and works at her shop as usual, and if he sleeps in their mutual bed for at least 8 hours, he still gets the A Lover’s Comfort bonus, so as far as he’s concerned, Sylgja’s fine. A little worse for wear, perhaps, but you don’t stop loving someone when they’ve gone through trying times.

He believes that, because the only other option is that whatever he brought back wasn’t Sylgja, and that is not a possibility he’s prepared to face.

Anyway, this glitch is a persistent one, so says the wiki.

There’s a couple of ways to fix it, but the best one is unavailable to me because Sylgja is not a follower. You can tell NPCs who are followers to follow you, then lead them to a dragon lair and wait for them to be pummeled down to 1 hit point. They’ll drop to one knee, and apparently get reset. They won’t die unless they have the bad luck to be following Murderface, what with his indiscriminate setting fire to everything in a 360° arc around himself.

I do hear that if you install the Dawnguard DLC and vampires kidnap your spouse, that’ll reset them as well, so I’m going to have to just deal with Sylgja walking around the house backwards and watching people in a creepy manner until I install that, and hope she gets kidnapped again.

Next time! Er, I’ll probably be going backwards in time to tell the tale of Murderface’s dragon-killing.

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Tags: gaming, skyrim

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