The Hanging Gardens - a Quest by Acid Zebra
Skyrim » Quests and Adventures
Added: 21/01/2013 - 08:38PM
Updated: 04/05/2015 - 02:56PM

2,390 Endorsements

1.2 Latest version

21,860 Unique D/Ls

39,332 Total D/Ls

206,112 Total Views

Uploaded by acidzebra


Last updated at 14:56, 4 May 2015 Uploaded at 20:38, 21 Jan 2013

Traduction Française est disponible thanks to Bombeyte!
Polskie tlumaczenie jest juz dostepne thanks to Asmodarius!
Eine deutsche Übersetzung ist verfügbar thanks to Gunter525!

Introduction & Features
Starting the quest
Build history
Credits (in no particular order)
What users had to say

Introduction & Features

"for the town-center where lay dead the quadrangular gardens..."
(from the book The Hanging Gardens, written in Dwemer and translated to Aldmeris)

It seems Calcelmo has uncovered some new artefact while rummaging about in the Dwemer ruins (or rather having his students do it). It has allowed him to further translate bits and pieces of the book The Hanging Gardens. Were Wasten Coridale's gardens just a pale copy, an imitation of a mighty Dwemer structure?

A quest mod playing out on a remote abandoned Dwemer island/outpost with a secret, featuring a medium length quest for mid/high level player characters with an interest in exploring, new surroundings, and a good fight. Features voiced NPC, unique items & ingredients found only on the island, 2 smallish worldspaces, 14 or so interior cells, sea travel complete with pirate raids, a metric ton of dwemer treasure and a foe thought long gone from this realm. Find the island, make your way there, and conquer it... if you can. Oh, and remember, sea travel is dangerous. You never know what you might find... or who may find you.

Please note this mod is not built for the weaker PCs, unlike Bethesda I have no obligation to try and make it work for everyone running all kinds of hardware. That said, I run it on an aging ATI 5770 and it runs fine. Still, the two worldspaces are fairly resource-intensive. Even so, I do recommend you run on high or ultra - some of the dwemer kit pieces do not have distant LOD and I hate stuff just randomly fading in (at different times, even).


First, make a save game. BEFORE installing. You should do this any time you install a mod really. You only need an up-to-date Skyrim to run this mod. No DLC or other stuff required. Download the file. Extract and install as usual, both the ESP and the BSA go in your data folder. For uninstallation, it is recommended you finish the quest first to clear all the aliases. If you don't want to finish AND you want to uninstall (you n'wah), open the console and type "stopquest bhabhilonintroquest" and "stopquest bhabghilonmq", then go to a small interior cell (not on the island), save, quit, and remove the mod. Note: this could cause long-term issues with your savegame. That's how skyrim rolls.

While I know many people love their ENBs, there are two reasons why you may want to disable it for this quest or at least in parts of it, like interior cells. First, many of the effects were specifically designed for vanilla. They may look weird when using ENB, especially the interior bits with the lava. Yes, lava. Second, the worldspaces can be quite taxing on PCs. Anyway, if you think "this doesn't look right" or "man this is laggy", temporarily disable your ENB (shift+F12).

Starting the quest

This quest will start with a note from Calcelmo delivered by courier. The courier will start looking for you on change of location (going from one cell to the next) on the conditions that you are at least level 25 and have completed the quest for Calcelmo which requires you to kill Nimhe. In my testing going to whiterun, then entering and exiting a building triggered the courier every single time. Read the note. Follow up on it. The quest proper will start once you've found the thing mentioned in the note. You should probably take it and things found nearby along with you. Also, while the quest STARTS when you're at least level 25, you may want to wait until your character is in the 40-50 level range. Or not. Up to you.

NOTE: if you do not get the quest start message "started: The Hanging Gardens" when you read the book in Calcelmo's Dwemer museum, the quest has failed to start. In 100% of cases this has been (a) savegame issues (b) mod conflict (c) pirated game. If you experience this, all I can advise is to try this quest on a next playthrough. Mod conflict seems unlikely given that it's all unique worldspace and items, savegame issues seem very likely.

Remember to check your quest journal. Like I said, unless your character knows specifically where he/she is going, you will not get a quest marker. If you DO get a quest marker, follow it. I hope the quest journal is clear enough, you will have to use your brain and explore. Oh, and you will need to access Blackreach at some point. Just sayin'.

FAQ - please read. Asking a question in the comments section which is answered here will get you laughed at or ignored. Maybe both.

Q. I can't find this or that or don't know where to go, HELP!
A. There is a complete walkthrough available in the download section.

Q. Do I need anything else?
A. No, this mod is fully self-contained and should run on any recent vanilla Skyrim. However, there are mods you can install to make the experience more interesting. For instance, this mod is SkyBirds-friendly, meaning it has markers which SkyBirds will recognise and use to spawn birds. You could also use texture-enhancing mods since most of the dwemer structures and plants use default textures. Combat-enhancing mods to tweak the AI. The possibilities are endless.

Q. Is this mod clean?
A. As clean as it can be. I've kept changes to the vanilla worldspace & cells to a minimum and cleaned up with tes5edit after I was done.

Q. Can I take my followers along on the trip?
A. Absolutely. It's even encouraged. You'll need meat shields. There is one section on the island where you will briefly need to leave your follower behind (this is by design), but other than that everything is navmeshed. It took forever to do that :/

Q. I got stuck/I can't find X/I have a random question. Can I ask about X?
A. Yes, but please keep in mind (a) no spoilers in the comments section pls (b) I'm not paid to be your tech support (c) I don't owe you anything (d) a little politeness goes a long way. There is a full walkthrough available in the download section.

Q. Is the ship safe for item storage?
A. Yes, but only belowdecks. Do NOT store anything in the topside containers.

Q. Is anything on the island safe for item storage?
A. Only the four dwellings on the top level.

Q. Is this mod compatible with mod X?
A. This mod was developed on a 100% vanilla skyrim install. I even wiped my lovingly tweaked ini files to build it. I have NO idea if it's compatible. Why don't you try it and see? And let me know results, that would be a nice thing to do. For any details I uncover, see the troubleshooting section below.

Q. Why has my savegame grown?
A. Let's see, two worldspaces, many interior cells, lots of clutter to remember.

Q. Textures are corrupted, halp?
A. Don't really have an answer for you. I've seen this happen on several mods by several people. Try downloading again. Try putting the mod at the bottom of the load order. If all else fails use a tool like BSA browser to extract all textures from the BSA, but this will make an unholy mess of your data folder. You have been warned.

Q. Can you provide a loose files version?
A. No, but you can make one using BSA browser as pointed out above.

Q. I've waited for weeks and I don't see the courier!
A. Do you get other letters? Have you fast traveled to whiterun, entered a building, exited? The courier quest (like all the courier quest) is triggered by location changes. The quest uses the vanilla courier delivery mechanism, so if it's not working, there is very likely something wrong with your savegame or game in general.

- for some people the book to start the quest is not found where it should be, they've had to resort to console and the tcl command to get it. I suspect this has to do with one or more mesh replacements in their modded game. See the comments section for details.
UPDATE:I've tried to fix it in 1.2 but if you have mods that alter clutter or other meshes, things may get messy. I've doublechecked, in vanilla skyrim it works. [
- if you have a necromancer companion or are one yourself, you will very likely run into trouble as a needed quest item is in the inventory of a skeleton on the island. The skeleton is in an interior location. The problem is that after the raised skeleton expires, it turns to dust and its inventory is replaced by the game with another inventory (as the actor itself is replaced by the dust item). I did not foresee this when building the mod and at this time I'm not going back in to fix it. You'll have to leave your companion outside or pay close attention and work around it.
UPDATE: I've added MagicNoReanimate and MagicNoDisintegrate keywords to the skeletons in this mod. Let's hope that stops necromancers from raising them.[fixed]
- the island LOD is messed up. It messed up when I first built the island because the CK is... temperamental sometimes. I started over. Then it messed up again at 90% completion and I said "frag it". So it's not there. Deal with it.
- there is a strange bug where the Skyrim world map clouds will be overlayed on the island worldspace after looking at the map while on the island. I have no idea what causes this.
- the voice acting may be a little too soft compared to vanilla voices, we had to walk a thin line between being able to hear the actor and hearing too much background noise.
- subtitles may diverge from the actual spoken lines because of CK line limitations and limits on my patience.
- people using lighting mods: I know and love many of them (and there are quite a few), but again, I designed this on vanilla for vanilla. I had to make choices, I chose to go with the mainstream here. If areas are too dark, too light, or the wrong colour, I am sorry. Fiddle with your settings.
- there is a small number of people for whom the quest aliases seem to fail to fill correctly. I am still trying to find out why. If you DO NOT get the message "started: The Hanging Gardens" when you read the book in the Dwemer museum, the quest has failed to start. In 100% of cases this has been (a) savegame issues (b) mod conflict (c) pirated game. If you experience this, all I can advise is to try this quest on a next playthrough. Mod conflict seems unlikely given that it's all unique worldspace and items, savegame issues seem very likely. [fixed]
- some people report that the reward for completing the quest may make dwemer automatons friendly to the player when used, even though the island population has its own faction. A workaround is equipping/unequipping the item.[fixed]
UPDATE: I've completely decoupled the DwemerAutomaton faction from the faction the island creatures use, this should hopefully fix it.[fixed]

Build history

I was inspired by (obviously I hope) the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Looking at the CK, the most obvious choice for me was the Dwemer kit. Which pretty much meant underground. So this started off as an underground expansion to Blackreach. Except Blackreach's flora is kind of limited and I wanted lots of green. So I ditched the cave and made an island. Except how was the player to get to the island? So I built a boat. But I couldn't just give you a boat. And so over time a quest built itself. I had a lot of fun building it and I hope you'll have fun playing it.

At this point in time the island is surrounded by a border like Skyrim is (except much, much smaller). If this mod becomes popular, who knows, it's a big worldspace and I have an idea or two up my sleeve. I don't know how they keep getting in there.

Credits (in no particular order)

- Bethesda for their great game. For the interior cells I freely snarfed set pieces from the vanilla game setting. Because they were beautiful. And I am lazy.
- Great voice acting by RainsfordXY, who has done a lot of work for Fallout and is now interested in Skyrim voice acting. You should totally contact him, he's a great guy to work with, has stellar recording gear, and is good at improv.
- InsanitySorrow from TES alliance whose mod resources are invaluable. For this mod I've used morrowind potions, morrowind soul gems and the fountain and Ayleid clutter found in TESA's skyrim resource kit.
- GKB green trees resource by Ga-Knomboe Boy, the definitive Skyrim tree modder's resource.
- ChickenDownUnder's harvestables resource.
- TrainWiz who was kind enough to allow me to use his Dwemer specters.
- volvaga0 who was kind enough to allow me to use his Dwemer Goggles.
- Hothtrooper44 who was kind enough to allow me to use his Seadog Pirate Armor.
- ElSte17 who was kind enough to allow me to use her sea creatures ported from the oblivion modder's resource Oblivion saltwater fish by Sjors Boomschors (no longer on the nexus), using free 3d models from the Toucan Virtual Museum.
- Elinen and Ztrees amazing water plants modder's resource.
- Elinen's spring flowers II and ground texture modder's resources.
- The_Funktasm's Morrowind-style clutter modder's resource.
- Oaristys & Tony67's modder's resource pack.
- Soolie for helping out with several spastic palm trees
- UESP, whose content is available under a Creative Commons by-sa license, for part of a map attributed to one of Bethesda's developers (Hugh Riley) which can be found here
- the Academy for Dwemer Studies for the Dwemeris font used in the logo.

Thank you all, without you this mod would have been a lot more boring.

What users had to say
"I'm never leaving the island. Ever."
"another thx for this mod. impressiv graphic. very recommandable."
"This mod is astonishing, a new wonderful island to explore."
"I can't find the map" (x1000)
"this was the best quest, mod or otherwise, ive experienced in elder scrolls."
"It is a tough quest"
"It's added a bit of challenge back into the game."
"Might want to check up on those social skills. "
"this mod is undeniably SPECTACULAR"
"it was a wonderful ride. "
"This sh-t is off the chain"