Mission Design: My Sister's Keeper (Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)

1-Jun-2016

I designed a mission in the world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You may download a well-formatted PDF here or read the plain text below.

 

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Game Setting

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (open world, single player, medieval high fantasy)

Overall Mission Title

My Sister’s Keeper

Required Player Level

10 and above

Preliminary Mission Background

In Elder Scrolls lore, Azura and Nocturnal are rumored to be sisters, but the series’ writers have yet to confirm if this relationship is literal or simply spiritual. I wanted to explore that potential connection and why the writers might have left it ambiguous. After nearly 400 hours of playing Skyrim, I have not yet encountered Daedric Princes who interact with one another, so I also thought that that would be a unique possibility to explore. Even though Azura and Nocturnal are portrayed as female, they are still considered Daedric Princes.

 

I have separated this mission into three separate quests, all of which must be completed in order to finish the mission. Based on the logic I have outlined below, the player must complete Quest 1A (Q1A) and Quest 1B (Q1B), but the order in which they do so is irrelevant. Once Q1A and Q1B are completed, the player will receive Quest 2 (Q2).

 

Example

Player receives Q1B, then immediately receives Q1A from a courier so that Player has both quests in her journal. Each quest promises a different reward and mentions both of the Daedric Princes so that Player can potentially infer that the two quests are related. Player decides to complete Q1A first. Upon completion of Q1A, Q1A is removed from Player’s journal, leaving only Q1B. After completing Q1B, Player receives Q2, which involves finding someone who can combine the two necklaces retrieved in Q1A and Q1B and a final confrontation between the two sisters.

 
Note

Please see the Elder Scrolls wiki for further reading.

 

 

Quest 1A (Q1A): Azurah, Mother of the Rose

Quest Giver

Arasuna, a female Khajiit elder and alteration mage who worships Azura, the Daedric Prince of Dusk and Dawn (Khajiit spelling: Azurah)

Trigger

If Q1B has not yet been acquired, this quest is triggered by a conversation with Arasuna, an alteration mage, at her camp. If Q1B was acquired first, this quest is delivered by a courier the next time the player travels on a road OR immediately after fast traveling to a new location, whichever happens first. The courier gives the player a letter from Arasuna, directing the player to the quest location.

Location of Acquisition

Arasuna’s Camp (NW of Azura’s Shrine near Winterhold)

Overview

Unlike the Dark Elf priestess of Azura that already exists in Skyrim, Arasuna is Khajiit and informs the player about Azura’s (spelled “Azurah” in Khajiit lore) role in creating the Khajiit race and teaching them how to move swiftly and change shapes. With the help of Azura’s relic, Arasuna hopes to summon Azura and receive the Daedric Prince’s aid in restoring independence to the Khajiit province of Elsweyr. Elsweyr is currently occupied by the oppressive Aldmeri Dominion.

Player Dialogue Options

  • Investigate: Learn more about Azura’s relationship to the Khajiit race and to Nocturnal by talking with Arasuna. This is informative only and is not required, but in so doing, the player will also learn about the dangers they will face within the Moon Door.

  • Accept: Select this dialogue option to accept the quest. Arasuna will then only tell the player the basic information, including the quest location, when the Moon Door can be accessed, and the primary objective.

  • Reject: Select this dialogue option to reject the quest outright, which ends Q1A and cancels the rest of the mission.

Sample Dialogue

The following dialogue is a selection from conversation between the player and Arasuna during their initial encounter. All bolded selections are choices I’ve made for a hypothetical player.

 

ARASUNA
Some call her the Clawed Shadow. Others call her Water Breather. But this one calls herself Arasuna.

 

PLAYER

  • I haven’t heard your accent before. Where are you from?

  • A cat that breathes underwater. Now that I’d like to see.

  • So what does Arasuna want?

 

ARASUNA
This one looks to Elsweyr as home, though many moons have waxed and waned since she last laid her weary eyes on its shores. That is why this one must commune with Azura, and soon.

 

PLAYER

  • Who is Azura?

  • Why would a Khajiit want to talk to a Daedric Prince that favors Dark Elves?

  • What does this have to do with me?

ARASUNA
Arasuna sees that you know nothing of the old tales, then. She will tell you. Back when the mortal races were but children, Azura, the daughter of the first cat, bestowed upon the Khajiit three gifts: swiftness of the body and mind; such agility as was needed to conquer the world’s tallest reaches; and deceptive tongues dipped in silver.

 

PLAYER

  • If Khajiit are such good liars, how do I know you’re not lying to me right now?

  • Get to the point.

ARASUNA
So the one with the gift of dragon tongue is swift of mind as well! It warms Arasuna’s heart to have met such a one. Long has Arasuna’s homeland felt the absence of Azura. The High Elf conquerors murdered the Mane, claiming Elsweyr in the name of the Aldmeri Dominion. This injustice cannot stand. This one’s exile can continue no longer. Azura must be called to protect her Khajiit children once more.

 

Primary Objective

Retrieve relic of Azura for Arasuna.

Quest Location

Moon Door (west of Arasuna’s Camp; can only be opened within an hour of dusk or dawn)

Encounters

Within the Moon Door, the player will pass through the chambers listed below. Each encounter contains enemies that are progressively more challenging and that provide increasingly rare and useful rewards. The enemies and rewards also are related to the Daedric Prince and the quest’s location. Azura is often linked to the undead, so undead enemies are featured prominently, and she is linked to fire spells, so the best loot causes and repels fire damage. The quest is also located in Winterhold, where snowberry and Ice Wraiths abound, so I have included them as well.

  1. Entrance – Dilapidated Crypt

    1. Enemies: 2 one-handed Restless Draugr warriors; 1 Restless Draugr archer

    2. Loot: corresponding ancient Draugr weapons; gold from burial urns; iron daggers

    3. Resources: nightshade, snowberry, bone meal, health potions

  2. Room 2 – Icy Abandoned Camp

    1. Enemies: 1 Skeleton archer, 1 one-handed Draugr Thrall warrior, 1 two-handed Draugr Thrall warrior, 1 Ice Wraith

    2. Loot: corresponding ancient Draugr weapons and gold; locked chest (adept) that contains a silver moonstone diadem, low-level fire-resistant boots, gold, and a steel dagger.

    3. Resources: skooma and randomized jewelry looted from 2 dead Khajiit around campfire; Alchemist’s knapsack that contains salt piles, snowberry, and moon sugar; ice wraith teeth looted from Ice Wraith

  3. Room 3 – Icy Room of Sun and Stars

    1. Enemies (increasing difficulty): 1 one-handed Draugr Wight warrior, 1 Draugr Wight Warlock, 1 Draugr Wight Lord

      1. Note: Enemies only appear if the player does not complete the puzzle correctly. Each incorrect guess will unleash a higher level of enemy (max 3).

    2. Loot: corresponding ancient Draugr weapons, gold, iron daggers

    3. Resources: magicka and fire resistance potions; snowberry

    4. Puzzle: Like some other Skyrim spatial puzzles, this puzzle requires the player to look around the room for a pattern of symbols in order to determine the solution to the puzzle to unlock the gate to the next room. In this room, the player can find the three main symbols of Azura carved into the ruins – a sun, a star, and a crescent moon, in that order. The player must then turn the three stones directly in front of the gate so that they are in the aforementioned order, then hit a panel on the wall to activate the proposed solution. See Enemies section of this room.

  4. Final Room – Chamber of the Mother of the Rose (contains statue of Azura)

    1. Enemies: 3 Skeleton archers, 2 Draugr Wight Lords, 1 Wispmother

    2. Loot: Crescent Moon Pendant (quest objective; looted from Wispmother); chest in back of room filled with elven sword that inflicts fire damage, gold, moon sugar, stamina potions, diamond necklace, iron gauntlets

    3. Resources: alchemy lab adorned with skooma, health potions, dragonfly wings, spiky grass

Outcome

Once all enemies in the Final Room are clear, Arasuna joins the player in the Final Room. (This avoids an escort mission, which are generally tedious and needlessly difficult.) While the player uncovers a relic of Azura, Arasuna tells them that the relic – the Crescent Moon Pendant – is incomplete and therefore has only moderately beneficial properties. Arasuna performs a ritual to summon Azura in the hopes that Azura will explain the relic, but instead, Nocturnal appears. Having laid a trap for Azura, Nocturnal is annoyed that Azura did not show herself in order to protect Azura’s half of the necklace, and Nocturnal makes a vague reference to an earlier incident for which she believes Azura needs to apologize. The player’s only option is to select dialogue to inquire about the incident, but Nocturnal dismisses the player’s question, telling them she has nothing to say until Azura shows herself and apologizes. With that, Nocturnal vanishes. Arasuna gives the player the necklace, stating that it is useless to her without Azura but may do the player some good in her adventures, and says that she hopes that they will meet again.

Reward

The Crescent Moon Pendant – a necklace with half of a pendant in the shape of a crescent moon; bestows upon the wearer increased melee skill, magicka, and fire resistance.

Sample Dialogue

The following dialogue is a selection from conversation between Nocturnal, Arasuna, and the player during the first encounter with Nocturnal. All bolded selections are choices I’ve made for a hypothetical player.

 

ARASUNA
A moment, young one. Something is not right. The lights, they flicker though there is no wind, and the shadows, they grow longer and threaten to swallow the room whole. There is much darkness where there should be twilight…

 

[NOCTURNAL appears.]

 

NOCTURNAL
What’s this, one of Azura’s old hags and her sellsword, eh? My my, this is an amusing sight.

 

ARASUNA
You, I did not call. I do not know you, but this is no place for you.

 

PLAYER

  • So…this isn’t Azura?

NOCTURNAL
I am the keeper of night. The shadows linger in my footsteps. Thieves beg for my blessing. Or so they say. Nocturnal is here. And yet Azura is not. A pity. There is the matter of a great debt to be repaid.

 

ARASUNA
Prepare yourself, young one. Nocturnal and her Nightingales know no fear of bloodshed.

 

NOCTURNAL
Now now, there is no need to be so dramatic. An apology; that is all I seek. And yet my backstabbing sister could not be bothered to make an appearance.

 

PLAYER

  • Azura is your sister? What happened?


NOCTURNAL
I grow weary of this interrogation. Find Azura and ask her to tell you the tiresome tale. Oh, and you’ll be sure to let me know once you find her, hmm?

 

Next Steps

  • If Q1B has not yet been acquired: the player will receive it the next time they travel on a road or immediately after fast traveling to a new location, whichever happens first.

  • If Q1B has been acquired but not yet completed: nothing happens until the player completes Q1B.

  • If Q1B has already been completed: completing this quest (Q1A) triggers Q2.

 

 

Quest 1B (Q1B): Night Among Strangers

Quest Giver

Uunrin, a male Wood Elf and member of the Thieves Guild, which reveres Nocturnal, Daedric Prince of Night, Darkness, and Luck

Trigger

If Q1B has not yet been acquired, this quest is triggered after the player tries to pickpocket Uunrin in the Ratway. No matter the player’s pickpocket skill, they will fail and begin a conversation with Uunrin. If Q1A was acquired first, this quest is delivered by a courier the next time the player travels on a road OR immediately after fast traveling to a new location, whichever happens first. The courier gives the player a letter from Uunrin, directing the player to the quest location.

Location of Acquisition

The Ratway in Riften

Overview

Uunrin informs the player about Nocturnal’s role as the patron of the Thieves Guild. Nocturnal taught its members how to sneak and pickpocket more successfully. With the help of Nocturnal’s relic, Uunrin hopes to summon Nocturnal and persuade her to remove her curse on the Thieves Guild and make him a Nightingale.

Player Choices

  • Investigate: Learn more about Nocturnal’s relationship to the Thieves Guild (including the tale of the Gray Cowl and the secret order of the Nightingales) and to Azura by talking with Uunrin. This is informative only and is not required, but in so doing, the player will also learn about the dangers they will face within the Shadow Door.

  • Accept: Select this dialogue option to accept the quest. Uunrin will then tell the player the basic information, including the quest location, when the Shadow Door can be accessed, and the primary objective.

  • Reject: Select this dialogue option to reject the quest outright, which ends Q1B and cancels the rest of the mission. If Q1A has been received but not completed, it will be removed from the player’s journal.

Sample Dialogue

The following dialogue is a selection from conversation between the player and Uunrin during their initial encounter. All bolded selections are choices I’ve made for a hypothetical player.

 

UUNRIN
I can see from your fighting stance and deft hands that you are quite the seasoned adventurer. How fortuitous. You know, I could have much use for you.

 

PLAYER

  • Depends on what you need me to do.

  • What’s in it for me?

  • I’m not interested. [Fight]


UUNRIN
A world traveler like yourself must have heard all about Daedric Princes by now. There’s one in particular – Nocturnal, purveyor of darkness and luck – that I aim to engage. For my own purposes, you understand.

 

PLAYER

  • Sounds a little suspicious. I’ll need to know more about your ‘purposes’ first.

  • Spare me the details. What’s the pay?


UUNRIN
Nothing sinister, I assure you.

 

PLAYER

  • Forgive me if I have trouble believing the words of a stranger down in the Ratway.

  • Can you at least tell me what I’ll be facing?


UUNRIN
You are wise to be wary, adventurer. But I only seek to shield you from the Night Mistress and her…ways. The three members of her inner circle, the Nightingales, grow weak with age. Complacent. But Nocturnal deserves steady hands and sharp minds at her side; I can offer her both. I only want to call her. Talk with her. Help her see reason. And I have a way of getting what I want.

 

Primary Objective

Retrieve relic of Nocturnal for Uunrin.

Quest Location

Shadow Door (north of Riften; can only be opened at night)

Encounters

Within the Shadow Door, the player will pass through the chambers listed below. Each encounter contains enemies that are progressively more challenging and that provide increasingly rare and useful rewards. The enemies and rewards also are related to the Daedric Prince and the quest’s location. Nocturnal is often linked to the necromancy and conjurers, so these enemies are featured prominently here. She is also linked to frost spells, so the best loot causes and repels frost damage. The quest is also located near Riften, where skeevers and poison abound, so I have included them as well.

  1. Entrance – Into the Darkness (very limited light)

    1. Enemies: 2 Necromancer Thralls, 1 Novice Necromancer

    2. Loot: orcish boots of resist frost, steel daggers, necromancer robes, gold, emerald

    3. Resources: resist frost potions, luna moth wings

  2. Room 2 – A Tangled Web

    1. Enemies: 3 Frostbite Spiders, 1 Giant Frostbite Spider

    2. Loot: gold, iron daggers, silver rings

    3. Resources: spider eggs, frostbite venom, bone meal

    4. Trap: If the player or their companion steps on a raised stone just inside the entrance to the room, they will trigger poison darts that damage their health.

  3. Room 3 – Enchanted Skeever Den

    1. Enemies: 5 Skeevers, 1 Adept Conjurer

    2. Loot: gold, conjurer robes, iron daggers

    3. Resources: skeever tails; enchanting table with empty petty and common soul gems

  4. Final Room – Realm of Shadow (contains statue of Nocturnal)

     

    1. Enemies: 2 Necromancer Thralls, 2 Flame Atronachs, 2 Adept Conjurers, 1 Expert Necromancer

    2. Loot: Nightingale Pendant (quest objective; looted from Expert Necromancer); powerful necromancer and conjurer robes, steel daggers, randomized jewelry, gold, orcish helm of resist frost

    3. Resources: fire salts, glowing mushroom, void salts

Outcome

Once all enemies in the Final Room are clear, Uunrin joins the player in the Final Room. Again, escort missions are generally less preferred by players and can be tedious, overly-challenging, and frustrating. To avoid disrupting game flow with the need to protect an AI-controlled companion during challenging combat encounters, these quests simply add the player’s quest-giver in after all of the fighting is over.

 

While the player uncovers a relic of Nocturnal, Uunrin tells them that the relic – the Nightingale Pendant – is incomplete and therefore has only moderately beneficial properties. Uunrin performs a ritual to summon Nocturnal in the hopes that Nocturnal will explain the relic, but instead Azura appears. Having hoped to talk to Nocturnal, Azura is disappointed that Nocturnal did not show herself in order to protect Nocturnal’s half of the necklace, and Azura makes a vague reference to an earlier incident for which she wants to apologize. The player’s only option is to select dialogue to inquire about the incident, but Azura tells the player that she cannot discuss it until Nocturnal shows herself. With that, Azura vanishes. Disappointed, Uunrin gives the player the necklace, stating that it is useless to him without Nocturnal but may do the player some good in her adventures, and says that he hopes that they will meet again.

Reward

The Nightingale Pendant – a necklace with half of a pendant in the shape of a nightingale; bestows upon the wearer increased sneaking skill, magicka, and frost resistance.

Sample Dialogue

The following dialogue is a selection from conversation between Azura, Uunrin, and the player during the first encounter with Azura. All bolded selections are choices I’ve made for a hypothetical player.

 

UUNRIN
Hmm. Nocturnal should have appeared by now. It’s possible that my pronunciation was a little off. I suppose I could have done with more practice, but I thought I wasn’t half bad, all in all.

 

[AZURA appears.]

 

AZURA
Your words ring true, Bosmer, but I am not the Prince you and I both seek. Alas, Nocturnal has declined my meeting, even now, after all these years. Do not be afraid; I intend you no harm. I am Azura, Mother of the Rose and ruler of the realm of Moonshadow.

 

UUNRIN
And I’m a Forest God. Don’t be fooled by her trickery, adventurer.

 

AZURA
Forgive me, mortal. I did not deceive you for my amusement. I sought only to discuss an ages-old matter with my sister, and I am afraid that relations between us are currently…strained.

 

PLAYER

  • So Nocturnal is your sister? Did you fight?

AZURA
It is a story for another time, I’m afraid. There is little that can be done until I meet with Nocturnal and grant my apology. Then, we shall see. I have long watched over you and your deeds; you go where none dare venture and speak as dragons do. If you find her, can I entrust you with the task of calling me?

 

Next Steps

  • If Q1A has not yet been acquired: the player will receive it the next time they travel on a road or immediately after fast traveling to a new location, whichever happens first.

  • If Q1A has been acquired but not yet completed: nothing happens until the player completes Q1A.

  • If Q1A has already been completed: completing this quest (Q1B) triggers Q2.

 

 

 

Quest 2 (Q2): My Sister’s Keeper

Trigger

Player completes both Q1A and Q1B; the order of completion is irrelevant.

Location of Acquisition

None; automatically given to the player upon completion of Q1A and Q1B.

Overview

Now that the player has completed both Q1A and Q1B, the player has half of a pendant from both Azura and Nocturnal, two necklaces with weak magical properties. The player triggers the conclusion of this mission by entering the Mournful Pass.

Primary Objective

Help Azura and Nocturnal resolve their years-long dispute.

Quest Location

The Mournful Pass (NE of the Throat of the World)

Encounters

This mission culminates in revealing the incident between Azura and Nocturnal and giving the player the chance to side with one of the Daedric Princes or find a compromise. Azura expressed the desire to apologize during Q1B, while Nocturnal angrily demanded an apology in Q1A; their attitudes towards the incident are meant to inform the player about which choice will produce the most ideal outcome in terms of loot and survival (see Player Choices below).

  1. Starting Location – The Mournful Pass

    1. After reaching the Mournful Pass, the player runs into both Uunrin and Arasuna, the quest givers from Q1B and Q1A, respectively. They mention that they were both mysteriously drawn to the pass; Arasuna claims to have seen a vision of Azura, and Uunrin claims to have awakened at the pass. As soon as they’re done explaining how they arrived, all three mortals are transported to Moonshadow (four if the player has a companion).

  2. Main Location – Moonshadow, Azura’s realm of Oblivion

    1. Overview

As the mortals awaken in Moonshadow, they hear Azura’s voice calling for Nocturnal. While they await Nocturnal’s arrival, Azura shows the player the incident, finally revealing the cause of Nocturnal’s anger with Azura. Their parent, Padomay, was dying and sought to bestow gifts upon all of their children, the Daedric Princes. Azura’s turn came first, and Padomay did not see Nocturnal in the shadows behind Azura, so Padomay chose to bestow three gifts on Azura, saving none for Nocturnal. Even though she knew that Nocturnal had been skipped, Azura accepted them and gave these three gifts to her creations, the Khajiit, saving nothing for her sister. Nocturnal’s anger has been brewing for thousands of years, finally coming to a head in recent times. Finally, Nocturnal shows herself, insisting that Azura fight her for dominance over both the Khajiit and the twilight hours. Azura would rather make peace and not concede her dominance, and eventually the two Daedric Princes look to you for a decision, as you hold both of their pendants, which each contain a piece of them.

  1. PLAYER CHOICES (3 Possible Outcomes)

The player can side with one of the Daedric Princes or suggest a compromise. Each of the three choices has a different set of consequences.

 

1) Side with Nocturnal

  • Encounter

The player and Uunrin must fight Arasuna and Azura’s Storm Atronachs. Azura provides Arasuna with a special ward that reduces the effectiveness of physical attacks.

  • Outcome

After the player kills Arasuna, Azura is weakened from trying to protect Arasuna. Nocturnal takes advantage of Azura’s weakened state and banishes Azura to Moonshadow for a while. Nocturnal mentions plans to change Khajiit lore and start lurking in the twilight hours so as to control them all. Nocturnal promises Uunrin that he will become the next Nightingale after one of the three living Nightingales dies and subtly encourages Uunrin to murder one of them to speed up the process.

  • Reward

Keep both weak Daedric necklaces and acquire Uunrin’s Ring (bonus to pickpocketing) as thanks for acquiring Nocturnal’s blessing.

 

2) Side with Azura

  • Encounter

The player and Arasuna must fight Uunrin to the death in order to escape. Nocturnal promises to make Uunrin one of the next Nightingales, should he survive as her champion, and adds poison to his weapons.

  • Outcome

Uunrin dies, and Nocturnal is weakened from poisoning Uunrin’s weapons. Azura apologizes to Nocturnal, then temporarily banishes the weakened Nocturnal to Nocturnal’s realm, Evergloam, so Nocturnal can calm down. Azura gives Arasuna her blessing.

  • Reward

Keep both weak Daedric necklaces and acquire Arasuna’s Cowl (bonus to alteration spells) as thanks for acquiring Azura’s blessing.

 

3) Resolve Dispute

  • Encounter

The player suggests that Azura apologize and that the two Daedric Princes create something together so they can rule it together. They elect to combine the two pendants, each of which contain a small portion of the Daedric sisters’ souls. In so doing, they create a powerful relic that they want to bestow upon a worthy servant. They decide to give it to the player as long as the player swears to revere them both. The player can choose to agree eagerly or give the verbal equivalent of a shrug, but regardless, the player cannot disagree.

  • Outcome

The player becomes the Daedric sisters’ shared champion, and both Arasuna and Uunrin survive.

  • Reward

Combined necklace with stronger properties derived from both necklaces; permanent improvements to speech, sneak, alteration skills (skill points remain even if skill is made legendary).

Epilogue

The player and all other surviving mortals are returned to Skyrim. The player receives the appropriate quest rewards in their inventory. If any other mortals survive, they will each make a comment to the player about the experience before departing. If only one mortal survives, they will thank the player for securing their Daedric prince’s blessing.

 

Copyright Alexandra Lucas 2016

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