I mentioned in my previous Skyrim Mod Spotlight how Deus Mons was outdone not just by other abodes, but by its own creator. Well, having downloaded and explored the Sleeping Tree Sanctuary abode, I can say that it is the superior of the two. To round out today’s article, here are two dungeons I think deserve your attention and endorsement: Jornheim and the Temple of Black Rock.
Sleeping Tree Sanctuary: A castle in the sky.
The sanctuary itself is impressive, contained not only within its own pocket realm in the distant skies of Tamriel and within a magical rock, what’s more amazing is getting there and what you’re given once settled. To start, you have to undergo a small quest begun by a courier (word of advice: don’t lose the Note from a Friend). There’s some cool swag involved, a really interesting ascent into the sky, and some fairly good world building that the creators didn’t need to include but did because it’s cool.
The Sanctuary is not exactly standard fair either. It comes with all the amenities you expect from home mods: manequins, a forge, workbench, item storage, etc. What makes them stand apart is the models used for them. You’ve got ancient Dwemer tech powering your forge and heating your water, turning your grindstone and otherwise coming out of the walls. There are miniature displays of battles and other cool effects, from butterflies to changing lights and even a number of diary entries detailing the history of the Sanctuary.
Perhaps the coolest part of the whole mod is not the abode itself, it’s what comes along with it. In short, you get your own personal airship to take you to any of the major locations in Skyrim (essentially the major holds and any other mods by the creator). While the actual travel in’t particularly interesting, the beauty is in imagining the people of Skyrim looking up and wondering what that darn Dragonborn’s gotten up to now.
Temple of Black Rock: Hard or unfair? You be the judge.
Advertising itself as a dungeon for the hardcore, high level players, the Temple of Black Rock is a masochists dream in dungeon form. All the monsters are stronger than you unless you’re very near the level cap. Part of this is due to the sheer number of high-leveled NPCs present, and their relentless hail of dragon shouts, arrows, summons, and spells. There’s what seems to be an unending trail of draugr deathlords with ebony bows and powerful Fus-Ro-Dah’s more than willing of murdering you. To top it all off, there’s even an unkillable final boss. Your reward for escaping him is an almost over-powered item, but that’s not the real fun of the mod.
The depth and breadth of Black Rock is staggering. It toys with your expectations from the get go, making you think it’ll be just another dungeon with a whole lot of things wanting you dead. The story is something you have to seek out, and even then much of it is implied rather than stated anywhere. You’ll find yourself wanting to explore each of the areas after clearing them, just to see all the details and interesting little tidbits the modders packed in. By the end, you’ll probably have at least half a dozen deaths under your belt, and if you’re like me, you’ll have backtracked a couple times just to be sure you’re going in the right direction.
By the end of it, I was both amazed and incredibly satisfied by The Temple of Black Rock, and there are a few twists and turns I never saw, or would have even thought to be, coming. Featured on Youtube in almost any Skyrim mod top list, delve deep into Black Rock, and don’t ignore the potions available before you enter each area.
Jornheim: The simple joys of dungeon crawling
This mod hasn’t received nearly the attention it deserves. Some of it might be because it isn’t flashy, or that its ending is kind of underwhelming, or that it’s short, or a whole host of other excuses. While all those things are true to some extent, Jornheim is not about the flair or the difficulty or the complexity, though there’s plenty of complex mechanics at work here. This dungeon is all about powerful adventurers — the players — exploring a dungeon for the sake of it. If you played Dungeons and Dragons back in the day, you know how fun that can be.
Now, Jornheim has some interesting mechanics and ideas incorporated in its design, and there is something of a story if you really want one to be there. There’s a bunch of loot to be had, a few powerful enemies to fight, and a fairly expansive complex to uncover. At no point are you overwhelmed as with Black Rock, and you’re never wowed like Sleeping Tree. Jornheim is, at its core, just a good time. There’s not a ton of investment needed on your part, and you’ll get through it in around an hour. It’ll be a fun hour and not one you’ll regret downloading the mod for.
If nothing else, it’s a strong first entry into modding from a talented creator. I can’t wait to see what he puts out next, hopefully with a larger team and a little more depth.