Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Hearthfire DLC
Yesterday Bethesda released Hearthfire, a new Add-On for Skyrim.
With this official add-on to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you can purchase land and build your own home from the ground up – from a simple one-room cottage to a sprawling compound complete with an armory, alchemy laboratory, stable, garden, and more. Use all-new tools like the drafting table and carpenter’s workbench to transform quarried stone, clay, and sawn logs into structures and furnishings. Even transform your house into a home by adopting children…”
You have three building sites to choose from; one in the swamps of Hjaalmarch, one in a rocky forested area of Falkreath, and one up near Dawnstar in The Pale. Each site will cost you 5000 gp. Since I don’t enjoy being cold and had no desire to fight off wayward chaurus while trying to build a home, I choose the Falkreath site.
In order to trigger this new content you need to either be a Thane of one of the three available holds or have done the Jarl of one of those holds a significant favor. I cleaned out a bandit camp for Jarl Siddgeir and he was happy to grant me permission to purchase land in Falkreath hold. If your character is already a Thane, a courier will arrive with a note summoning you to the Jarl’s longhouse.
I purchased the plot of land, and alongwith my trusty housecarl Rayya and Vigilance the war dog, hiked out to the building site. We found a drafting table for reviewing and choosing building plans, a storage chest with clay, stone and other building materials, a carpenter’s table for the actual construction of the home and an anvil to create the nails, hinges and fittings needed to hold the structure together.
The initial small house goes up fairly quickly as long as you have some iron bars on hand for nails and fittings. There are spots to quarry stone and dig clay on your site but you will need to purchase logs from one of the sawmills. I didn’t realize I had a starter log pile so I went to Full Moon Mill to purchase some before I started building.
Once you build the small house you can add structures to the exterior or you can use the interior worktable to furnish the house. I put a little garden in first thing and planted my ingredients. The program allows you to sow any plant you have a harvested piece of in your inventory except for nirnroot. The plants grow to full size quickly and you can harvest three or four ingredients from each. They regrow ingredients quickly so if you have a potion recipe you favor or like to sell potions for cash this is a great way to keep stocked on the ingredients.
After planting my garden, I went to work furnishing the house. For this you will need materials like glass, straw and goat horns. Yes, goat horns. All these can be found in the general stores. From these materials you can build shelves, chairs, tables, beds, display cases and a fire pit. Each additional building you add to the original structure will expand the list of furnishings you can build.
You can build your own house!
No, seriously, Hearthfire allows you a decent level of customization over buying a pre-built house. You can build your own private smithy with a smelter, armor table and grinding wheel or run your own farm with a garden, bee hive, chickens and cow. If your mage needs a quiet place to study and enchant you can build a library, a greenhouse and a magic lab. If your fighter wants a place to kick back you can build a trophy room or an armory. If you can’t make up your mind what to build, just build it all. With three building sites you have room to try everything.
The subtle changes to the game world.
Once you install and trigger Hearthfire clay deposits and quarry spots will appear on the world. The ability to smith nails and other metal work will show up at the various blacksmith shops and you can purchase toys and kid-sized clothing at the general stores. Unlike the ‘vampires destroy half a town’ problems of Dawnguard, these are small changes that blend seamlessly into the game world.
The space planning.
In some of the pre-built Skyrim houses you find rooms that don’t actually function as a room. Even considering the game setting, those rooms and houses are just uncomfortable. So far the rooms of my custom built house are very warm and comfortable. They look and feel as though someone lives in them.
Mock me all you like but I love my chickens.
My Less-Than Favorites:
The building sites are pre-chosen so you can’t pick your favorite little waterfall and build next to it. You also have no control over where the exterior structures are on the lot or which direction they face. I understand this is done to avoid having you build a house in the middle of a quest area but it still would have been nice to choose where my stables and other outbuildings are located. Also, I have wanted a house in or near Riverwood since I first started playing Skyrim so there was a little bit of disappointment on my part when I found out that was not an option.
No bookcase in the small house. I realize I am being picky but I would have been happy with a garden and the small house if only it had a shelf for my books. Considering that building and furnishing the small house costs more than buying the house in Whiterun, I don’t think wanting a bookcase is unreasonable.
The wayward moose. In my game I am building Lakeview on the Falkreath lot. Unfortunately, my house sits directly in the middle of an AI pathway for a large moose so he is always galloping around the building site. I considered shooting him to get him out of the way but finally decided to name him Barnaby and just accept that he was going run all over the property. Still, I wish the designers had shifted the pathway to skirt the property, rather than run through the middle of it.
Kit’s tips for building:
Clear out a nearby iron mine before you start building. Iron veins are plentiful but if you can mine all you need in one spot it will save you time and travel. I ‘liberated’ Embershard from a bandit gang and had enough iron to build and mostly furnish the small house and the manor hall addition. Also, try to have 1000 or so gp set aside to buy materials. This will let you build a section of the manor without needing to quest for more money everytime you finish a table or shelf. Finally, if you build nothing else outside the house, build a smelter. This will save you immense amounts of time as you can mine ore and then turn it into bars right on your building site.
This is a very nice addition to Skyrim. I have played through building and furnishing the first manor house addition as well as constructing most of the exterior buildings without any bugs. Hearthfire is customizable enough to accomodate different playing styles and fit well within different rpg storylines. It won’t appeal to every gamer but for those who enjoy the crafting aspects of Skyrim it is well worth the money spent.
For those of you playing Hearthfire, tell us your favorite building site, where you hide your sweet rolls and if you named your pet chickens. Share your likes and dislikes in the comment section below.