This is actually two different mods combined into one. The original mod is called Path of the Skull Bearer. I played the Truth of Corruption version as its considered the update to the original mod, where it fixes a lot of bugged areas and changes several things. I became interested in this mod when I was browsing for a new quest/adventure quest to play. Upon reading the mod description, I was instantly hooked and always wanted to play it but never got around to playing it till last night.
Obviously in order to play this mod, you will need to have completed Vaermina’s quest and not given the Skull of Corruption to Martin during the ‘Blood of the Daedra’ quest. If you have given him the staff, then you are out of luck. This mod will take you into Vaermina’s plane of Oblivion which is Quagmire. The nightmarish realm of horrors.
The story of this mod is that Quagmire is no longer in Vaermina’s control and as the Skull Bearer, you are her right hand. The only one whom can control Quagmire in her absence. You must now venture into Quagmire to restore balance to the realm and kill the traitorous worshiper of Vaermina*. However Quagmire has turned against Vaermina and all of her allies, including you. You will uncover the mystery surrounding the Skull of Corruption, Orb of Vaermina and how they are intertwined. You will uncover the truth of corruption.
Regardless of your playing style, this mod is going to take you several hours to complete. There is no fast-travel in this game, so you will be running around on foot for the entire play-through. The only thing that upset me is that the mod did not have its own world map . There were many times I got lost or just wanted to look at the map; and kept opening the world map, only to remember that I had to use the local map. Which wasn’t much help either, you end up having to either remember where everything was located (thankfully not many structures exist in Quagmire, never did find that other city though) or heavily rely on the quest marker to guide you where to go.
Before I forget, I did notice one thing that stuck me as rather odd.ade it a point to emphasize how difficult Frytes are to kill. Some even suggesting they are immortal due to having Vaermina’s favor and such, so most npcs will say they cannot be killed. Unless you bring the true power of the Skull of Corruption, then you are able to kill them. It overlooked the fact that you did manage to kill two Frytes in the beginning with the help of a poison designed specifically to kill Frytes by hindering their ability to regenerate.
I didn’t understand why werewolves would be in Quagmire though. Aren’t werewolves the servants of Hircine? I admit it was pretty awesome to see the werewolves as guardians for the grove of illusions but it did not make much sense. Using creatures better suited to Quagmire such as the nightmare beasts which only appeared in one area of the entire mod. More variation on the possible creatures that dwelled in Quagmire would have added more difficulty to the mod and enhance the experience. Most likely a custom guardian made specifically to guard the grove, since Frytes were overused in the mod as the main obstacle against the player. Which leads me to another observation, the description says that the entire realm has turned against you but only the Frytes were against you. Minus Arkved and two other creatures. Although the nightmare beasts in the frozen cave were hostile to you. It didn’t feel like the realm was against you, felt more like Arkved turned the most powerful and loyal servants of Vaermina against you but ignored every other servant residing in the realm.
Another point to add: when you are close to the altar of flames (forgot the actual name of the place) to revive the Skull of Corruption, you were actually able to jump over the iron gates. If you had a high acrobatic skill or were on a high enough position on the stairs to jump over the gate. While this does not break the quest, it is rather queer to already have cheated your way over the gate and bring the skull to full power only to have your daedra buddy finally kill the Fryte guarding the altar….which leads to a journal update saying you killed the annoying bugger who can’t understand the concept of dying, and that you can revive the staff. So all the iron gates go down, thus giving you free access to the altar which was pointless after cheating your way over it. Invisible walls should had been used to prevent players from jumping over the iron gates, making sure they had to fight and finally kill the Fryte before gaining access to the magical altar of
spookiness pure malicious evil.
I really enjoyed the music that was used in this mod, the custom music was amazing. It helped set the mood for the overall atmosphere of the quests. The custom sky was really interesting to see. I was expecting something a bit more ‘nightmarish’ with heavy fog. Nevertheless it did suit the known lore regarding Quagmire, and I did occasionally got startled by the images I saw in the sky. Although, I was more concerned with the trees branches swaying violently out in the wind during the wind/sandstorm rather than the sky. I think the trees terrified me more than the sky did. Is that weird?
I really liked how they incorporated the idea of the Skull of Corruption having a mind of its own. I really enjoyed hearing the Skull talk to the player, either by guiding you to the next quest marker or how you proceed with the current task. The only problem I had with this was that it was so hard to hear what the Skull was saying. There were no subtitles for the Skull either, which was upsetting. I really did like how the Skull tries to turn you against Vaermina though, and reveals the truth behind corruption. I really enjoyed that twist. I had a bit of a bug during the one combat scene between you and the final boss before you can revive Vaermina when it wouldn’t summon the corrupted clones against you. I had to use the kill command in the end to proceed after being stuck in the same combat for over couple minutes.
The number of custom spells that you could find in this mod was just amazing. Especially that spell where you could summon a sword made of pure magical fire. When the Dremora companion finally offers to teach you that spell, I quite literally threw my arms up in triumph because I was waiting for so long to get that spell. At the end of this mod, I ended up having way too many spells in my spell menu. All the custom spells made sense and fit with the theme of the mod. Actually all the custom armor, weapons, locations and enemies you can find in this mod, just seemed to fit so seamlessly into the overall lore of what is known about Quagmire and Vaermina. I just wasn’t a big fan of the female counterparts of some of the armor, since they looked so skimpy.
When you are going through the ceremony cut-scene where the spirit of the skull, if it can be called that makes a final appearance seemed to suggest there was a possibility of a sequel. Or maybe it was just a forewarning of the fact that the incarnation of the skull is still biding its time with no actual sequel for this mod. On another note, I was expecting Vaermina to look a bit more evil? nightmarish? I don’t know, I was expecting Vaermina to look more foreboding. I did like that journal that can be found in the Skull Bearer’s quarters, which was written by one of the many Skull Bearers.
* I don’t think Arkved was ever a worshipper of Vaermina. Was he? I am not entirely sure. As far as I know, it was never stated that he ever worshiped Vaermina. I just figured he stole the orb because he wanted the power to control dreams based on his note. He could have been though, just never stated obviously that he was
Be sure to read the mod requirements for the mods as those requirements are necessary to run the mods smoothly, and to create the necessary mood. The link for the original skull bearer mod can be found here while the link for the update to the mod can be found here instead. I highly recommend getting both, as the update fixes a lot of issues that the original mod had and gives a better overall playing experience.