Getting started in Skyrim can be a time of confusion and total mouth-agape awe, but we're a couple weeks in and here's a few tips for starting a new character or just getting started in Skyrim.
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I have been checking out some of the various tips and tricks threads online and found several different things to try when I start another character --not to break the game, but rather just to get off to a strong start-- in the Bethesda masterpiece Elder Scrolls V:Skyrim. Yet nowhere is there a good combination of several of the tips together in a bit of an all-in-one guide, which I present now to get it all sorted out in one place. [NOTE: This guide will not be advising you to drop a bucket on anyone's head so you can rob them while they are blind. These tips take advantage of game mechanics but that is just ridiculous. You want to have some suspension of disbelief after all.]
The first few hours I was playing my character in this immersive and breathtakingly beautiful game I was literally stumbling my way through the new world I had discovered, so amazed and curious that I did not really comprehend all that I could (and should) be doing to get off to a start on the adventures which await therein. The game is so shockingly detailed and, as in other Elder Scrolls games, there is so much to pick up (and potentially sell).
I knew from past experience with Oblivion and the Fallout series that I had a few things I should accomplish to get a good foothold in this brave new world. In short I wanted to get my skills and level up enough to not die easily in combat-- and to sneak by in times in which I did not wish to be in combat or wanted the element of surprise to give me an upper hand. I also wanted to get a good start on making money and having some financial means to get going. I figured there'd be some things I would wish to buy and services (such as training) I would like to be able to afford. This game has crafting skills as well and I wanted to also be able to make and sell items to generate income as well as save on what I would need.
So, without further ado let's get started. If you haven't yet played the game there are potentially a few "spoilers" but I will not disclose anything that would ruin the experience for you, only giving you a little bit about what you will run into and where you will eventually go. This is based on what I have done and want to do in starting a new character, so your mileage may vary and other disclaimers may be assumed.
Starting out, the game pretty much takes you through some starting sequences and you will eventually end up choosing to follow either an Imperial soldier or a Nord freedom fighter (Stormcloak). I chose the Nord as the Imperial folks had just tried to execute me... just saying. The first tip is to grab yourself a weapon when the opportunity arises and attack your guide as much as possible, which will not really phase him or make him attack you but will help to level up your chosen weapon skill --he can't die and you can keep on hitting him to get skill points. You may choose to grab a two-handed weapon or a one-handed one for whichever you anticipate wanting to use. If you, like me, want to develop a fairly stealthy thief-type character the one-handed will eventually be the one for you, as daggers offer a potential 15x backstab damage perk later in the game. If you are more the heavy hitter you may want two handed skills which offer higher damage weapon choices. You also should pick up and equip some armor, as this will begin to level up your armor skill in whichever (heavy or light) you are wearing when someone strikes at you. For this reason when you do get into a fight with someone, let them get a few hits in, as this is when you get skill points for your chosen armor type. Also a separate skill is block so block as you learn to and it will get that skill started. Sneaking a bit won't hurt but skill is only increased as you sneak and do something like avoid detection and actually attack something from a sneaking crouch. Later on you will encounter a bear and have an opportunity to attack from a sneaking position. (Do not make the mistake of thinking this bear is like any other in Skyrim, as others will be much tougher and will probably maul you horribly when met in the wild. They should probably be avoided until you are at least level 12+ and have a follower to help you fight them. More on followers later.)
The rather linear progression ends with you being told to meet your guide in a town nearby which will be shown as a [V] marker on your compass. You are now "on your own" in the big world of Skyrim. What will you do? What WILL you do? You can go about a bit and explore or you can make a beeline for the designated town of Riverwood. I would recommend a bit of both. Note that also on your compass is a symbol with crossed hammers, which designates the location of a mine. I would note the location for later but not tackle the bandits there just yet. You should be able to go to to town and get geared up a bit before taking them on. Generally make your way to the town but look at your surroundings as you go. Stop by the Guardian Stones and get an appropriate "blessing" to increase your ability. Don't sell off some things too fast as some may be useful in the game once you learn how to craft. Keep picking any flora and fauna you can as ingredients for future alchemy potions and poisons. Leather pelts from animals will be used in smithing armor and weapons so don't sell those off just yet. Oh and keep the bear pelt as there is a quest later requiring ten of them. Might come in handier to have it rather than just cash in early. You will make good money soon enough. Read on...
Once in the town of Riverwood you will see that there are a few buildings and people about. If it is night time when you arrive, you may need to wait a bit before folks will start to show up. You can head for the tavern in town, on the right along the main drag through town, it's the biggest building. Even at night there are people there. If you run across a guy who tells you about his love life quite out of the blue, go ahead and pay attention to him and see if he wants some help with his girl-troubles. Eventually this will lead you to the first of your followers and an important and cheap training opportunity if you play this love triangle correctly. Point is there is some randomness set up in the game as to whether you will be more inclined to help the blonde Nord bard (singer) or the elf Faendal, but if you can wrangle it, be on the elf's side and help him get the attention of the lady in question. The bard fellow could end up as your follower, but will not be nearly as helpful as Faendal proves to be.
No matter what sort of fighting you lean towards, there will always be times when it is beneficial to have a ranged attack using a bow, and the elf character is an archery trainer. Training and gaining skill levels will help actually level up your character, which is what I propose you do at this point. Spending a little time in town getting skills and levels will make your character a bit less vulnerable in the initial forays out in the big bad world of Skyrim. Once you get some gold you will be using it to level up your archery skill in training with Faendal, but the nice part is that once you spend that gold you can just ask him to trade some things with you and grab it right back from his inventory. Free training and skill ups. Woot!
At some point you can also meet the blacksmith in town on his sort of breezeway porch-- with a forge, grinding wheel, tanning rack and workbench. These will be where you learn to use your smithing skill to create and improve weapons and armor. Start out with the dialogue thread that gets you started with the blacksmith, who will give you the first few items you need to craft an iron dagger and then improve upon it. If you can afford it, buy up as much leather strips and iron ingots as you can to make more daggers, improve them, and sell them to the blacksmith to buy more materials. If he runs out of stuff, he will replenish his supply in two in game days. You can even use the wait feature to wait this out, but it may not be necessary. When you increase your skills it may eventually end up leveling up your character. When this happens you can choose perks to increase the sorts of armor and weapons you can use in the Smithing constellation of the skills interface. In this way you can get from iron to steel to Dwarven and higher levels of armor. One tip I saw even had the beginning user getting started with the high level Daedric armor, but it is not necessary at this point and you don't want the game to totally break so you have no challenges whatsoever... (do you?)
Once you get a bit of self-improved armor and weapon or two, you and your trusty elf follower can venture back to that mine you passed on the way to town and start smacking some bandits. Near the outside of the mine you will find a smelter, which will come in handy in a while. (Before leaving town if you have the coin, buy up the iron and conrundum ores from the blacksmith to make iron or steel ingots at the smelter.) When traveling in the mine, look for a pickaxe and grab it to mine the ores you find along the way. I won't mention all the surprises waiting inside but let me just say you should be aware of traps. If you actually grab two pickaxes and equip them both in each hand you can "attack" the mine ore veins and get the ores out faster. If you get through the whole cave first you can mine as you go through it again without enemies. Keep a sharp eye out for an alteration spellbook for a spell called Transmute - which may have been random on my first trip through there, but if you get it you can use it to transform iron ore into silver and silver into gold for more money after iron and steel are no longer your needed metals. You can then make jewelry and sell that for big bucks, too. Use the smelter and get your ingots all together. If you find you are too heavy to move, put some stuff in an empty chest and immediately tell your follower to do something, namely take all from the chest. There's a bug that items picked up in this way by your follower have no weight consideration. Can you say Pack Mule? yeah (Just "trade" items to get those things you need back from their inventory.) Get back to town and make some more stuff and progress your skills and levels. Perks should now be used to get bonuses to your sneak, archery, etc as you want in the game. Now you can get started on some of the proper quests and get into the story with a little less vulnerability to death and other distractions. Head for the "claw" quest only after going to the next big city of Whiterun and picking up another quest from the Barrows west of Riverwood. Game on- get going...
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