The Gray Cowl of Nocturnal is a DLC size quest-adventure mod made by Italian modder: MannyGT. Unfortunately this is also the last mod he will be making (minus his portals mod) which is a shame. I was very fond of the Silverfish Grotto player-home also made by MannyGT, I do not think I ever used any other mods of his.
The mod was in development for some time actually, I think it took about a year? Sorry, I lost track of how long it was in development before it was released. However, it was released on Skyrim Nexus on April 11th, 2015. From what I seen on his official Facebook page, it was originally meant to be released back in March but was delayed since the voice actor never sent the files. I found that disappointing since I know the original ending was supposed to follow the lore of what happened in Oblivion (acknowledging the ending of Shivering Isles story-line). Since the voice actor never delivered, MannyGT was forced to change the ending. So for ‘lore purists’ the ending is going to be odd.
That is my understanding of what happened however.
The quest begins when you pick-pocket or steal something. For some reason, it did not begin when I pickpocketed something, but I did manage to finally trigger it while I stole something during one of the Thieves’ guild quests. It actually terrified me since all I saw was a map suddenly taking over my screen.
Just a heads up, since this is the first release there are still some bugs and grammatical mistakes that need to be fixed. It is recommended people who are using ENB to disable it while playing this mod, otherwise some dungeons will appear pitch-black. I only had one minor issue which was missing textures for the site called ‘Eye of Cyrodiil’ and I am still unsure why it wasn’t showing on my game but everything was fine. Ignoring the part I had to use the console to progress further into the story cause I had no idea where to find the key. Even after over ten minutes of searching. I probably missed the key with my amazing observation skills.
Some of the puzzles drove me insane, in particular the hidden chambers of Sancre Tor. I was searching frantically trying to figure out whether I broke the quest, cause I was under the impression the ‘four companions’ of the Champion was in the same area I was in. During my last sweep of the area before using the console, I noticed the very well-hidden wall switch. So I am glad I did not use the console to cheat that part but damn, that was evil.
Going into Coldharbour was a surprise. For those who do not know, Coldharbour is the realm of the Daedric god known as Molag Bal. It was quite interesting to see how MannyGT portrayed Coldharbour, although it did not match the lore description of the realm. Although I do not think it would been possible to recreate Coldharbour to be true to its lore. It would take many hours to recreate, even if it was just a single section. Why? Coldhabour, according to lore is almost like a mirror version of Nirn (aka the mortal plane) but darker (like the ground is sludge, air is freezing and the sky is forever burning). I am not sure which area I hated more. Being lost in the Imperial City dungeons, Coldhabour, Halls of the West or that desert temple which I forgotten the name of in the Alik’r Desert. Yes, I hated a lot of areas mainly because they were so large that it was easy to get disorientated. The Imperial City dungeons wasn’t that bad but it was confusing at times if you lost your sense of direction. Coldharbour was just hard to navigate/see especially if you are trying to get the bonus award. The other two however…..way too maze-like, activate one switch and you had to run around to find out which gate you opened. Far too time-consuming for me.
I think my favorite areas was the Alik’r Desert and the area where you retrieved the Cowl from. I think the last area was referred to as Akavir? I literally just finished this mod today at the time of writing and I already forgotten the name.
Best memory ever!
What was I going to say..?
Seriously though. I never thought you would visit so many new “lands” in this mod. You go down a trip down memory lane (for Oblivion players) and you get to visit a Daedric realm and even the deserts of Hammerfell. I was loving seeing the new places.
I think my favorite puzzle was probably the chamber of fire. The usage for the clairvoyance spell was so unique and new to me. I actually never used that spell ever, for either mod or vanilla Skyrim. Having to rely on the spell to navigate safety across the giant fiery pit of doom, by having it show the path to you was awesome. It reminds me of that one quest back in Oblivion – Knights of the Nine addon where you had to use the Boots of the Crusader to safely cross to the other side to retrieve the next artifact of the Crusader.
I found the dialogue given to you by the people who give optional side-quests in Alik’r Desert to be a bit awkward. It was not because it was default lines from default/vanilla Skyrim. It was just the wording that seemed awfully awkward. For the portrayal of Valen Dreth (everyone’s BFF from Oblivion), I just do not think it matches with his personality. Especially since his personality is….well that of a douchebag really. Yet he’s oddly very nice to you when you help bury him? I suppose 200 years could help change someone but I think it would been better if he had a snarky remark or was sarcastic in thanking you for helping bury his bones. Just my opinion since my opinion of Valen Dreth is very much set in stone.
Fun Fact: I always join the Dark Brotherhood cause killing Valen Dreth is one of my favorite quests to do….besides the Whodunit? quest 🙂
I am still undecided to how I feel how the Champion of Cyrodiil was portrayed in the game. I suppose this is the point of debate since everyone who has played Oblivion (in my opinion anyway) would have their own idea of how the Champion would act and say. I just find it odd how he seems to approve being a thief but if you mention that you have aspirations to join the Dark Brotherhood, he tries to discourage you. Although he provides the reasons why joining them is not a good idea based on his experiences. I just found that odd. I am curious why you cannot get the story about the Mages guild out of him, other than perhaps the deaths of his fellow members and mentor’s death weighs heavily on him? Even have him giving Thalmor-hating comments seemed out of place, since he’s been dead for 200 years so….it is not like he can do much about it.
Other than that, the voice-acting was actually pretty impressive although the guy you first meet in the desert was really hard to understand or hear. Thank god for subtitles cause I really had trouble understanding since the voice was so quiet and his accent was hard for me to understand. I feel bad but that is the truth.
Oh, side note: the fort in the desert was a little strange. Why is there such a massive cavern like literally underneath it? With a chair looking out at a huge pond of water? If there was a secret hidden in the water….I am going to be sad for missing it.
Amazingly fantastic mod. I am really glad I waited for the mod to be released. Some things could not be kept true to the lore due to limitations like changing the enchantment on the infamous Boots of Springheel Jack. From the name you can guess that it makes you jump higher, but in Skyrim since of the limitations, it just makes you…oddly run quicker. Seeing MannyGT’s interpretation of Coldhabour and Alik’r Desert was really interesting. Very geared towards the thief-playing style since you do not have any combat (other than in the Alik’r Desert). I loved the extra challenge given to you by Molag Bal where he will give you a reward if you do not kill any of his servants. The almost near re-creation of how Oblivion started with that cutscene and have you follow the path (with some variations) was great. I swear I heard the Morrowind theme song, unless it was actually the Oblivion theme song and I mixed the two up cause I am intelligent like that.
I do not know but I had fun collecting all the unique items in the mod. Not sure if there is a challenge thing for how many artifacts/unique items you could find. I found all the journals as well but not sure if I found all the items. I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed something though.
Really fun mod, I highly recommend you guys to go check it out! It does not need the official add-ons or SKSE. You do not even need to be a member of the Thieves’ guild to start this quest.
Bonus screenshots below and a list of the unique items I managed to find in the adventure!
For those curious, these were the unique items I managed to find:
- Amulet of Ancestral Cheetahs – all Cheetahs will love you (aka not attack you and eat your face off)
- The Champion of Cyrodiil’s Blade sword and shield
- Boots of Springheel Jack
- Eagle Eye – ring given by Molag Bal for not killing his servants
- Left eye of ColdHarbour – ring given to you by Valen Dreth
- Right eye of ColdHarbour – amulet found in a cave within Coldharbour; reveals location of all Molag Bal’s servants
- Yokuda – shield that can knockback attackers
- Umbra – yes, the evil sword returns but completely custom meshes and textures by MannyGT, with awesome critical hits if you feed it delicious souls of your fallen enemies
- The Withdrawal – oddly named shiv with awesome enchantment (can knock either weapons/shields off the enemy, random chance)
- Ancient Redguard Clothing (hood, clothes and boots)