Skyrim AE Hardcore Survival Mode Walkthrough Part 5 – THE CHALLENGE BEGINS!

Skyrim Anniversary Edition Survival Mode walkthrough playing the game with the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal always equipped. This patently insane rule of engagement means that guards all over Skyrim will turn hostile the minute they spot the Dragonborn making all cities and towns extremely dangerous places to enter. This will be played on Legendary difficulty, the highest difficulty setting in the game.

Here are the complete rules of engagement for this run:

1. You must wear the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal at all times. ***
2. You are forbidden to use any and all Illusion spells on guards.
3. Planting ingredients will be forbidden.
4. Using the Dremora Merchant will be forbidden.
5. Using merchants in Riverwood will be forbidden.

*** Except when joining the Companions (as demonstrated in the video)

Other than that, everything else goes. There are no other restrictions. All player homes are up for grabs although since Survival Mode disables Fast Travel, most homes are decidedly inconvenient because of their remote locations and hence limited accessibility.

This is not a blind playthrough or Let’s Play. I always practice and study extensively before uploading videos to eliminate all bumbling and stumbling around making for a real walkthrough with smart gameplay and informative commentary.


Meet Bud Ugli. Bud used to be a good-looking Wood Elf but then one day he was playing ‘Rocketman’ with some giants and the re-entry into earth’s atmosphere didn’t go so well. When he finally hit the ground, he found himself in a big pile of skeever dung.

Two minutes later, a squad of Imperial soldiers came by and decided to beat the crap out of him because he smelled bad.

Dazed and confused, Bud Ugli stumbled through the forest only to encounter a frost troll who grabbed him by the face, dragged him back to his cave and made Bud do unspeakable things with him for 30 days.

Bud finally managed to escape but was now so horribly disfigured that he decided to always wear some kind of hood to conceal his hideous appearance.

At first he tried the Shrouded Cowl because he had heard that it had a mask that covered your face. Unfortunately, the mask didn’t work on men, only women. Much of his butt ugly features could still be seen.

Next he tried the Execution Hood only to find that instead of failing to cover enough, it covered too much. He figured being able to see where he was going was something he was unwilling to give up.

Then Bud found out about the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal. It was perfect. It improved his ability to sneak around so it was just as good as the Shrouded Cowl but it also allowed him to carry more stuff in his backpack and it had a built-in Detect Life enchantment. There was only one drawback. Wearing the Gray Cowl caused all Skyrim guards to become hostile.

If Bud wanted to always wear the Gray Cowl, he would have to accept that Skyrim was now a very different place. All cities were no longer havens of comfort, warmth and good vibrations. They were now teeming with bloodthirsty city guards, every one of them relentlessly intent on slaughtering him into oblivion.

Since he was a misfit and an outcast anyway, Bud decided that this was an acceptable consequence of being able to always wear the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal. And thus began…

The Curse of the Gray Cowl!


Skyrim Anniversary Edition was released on November 11, 2021, the tenth anniversary of the original release of Skyrim. It includes all three major expansions (Dragonborn, Hearthfire and Dawnguard) plus all previously released Creation Club content which includes new quests, dungeons, bosses, weapons, armor and spells. 26 new Creation Club quests were added along with the release of Skyrim AE for a total of over 500 unique pieces of content.


Major Slack is a veteran gamer who has been playing video games ever since they were first invented. (No joke. He was right there plunking his quarters into Pong when it first came out at the arcades in 1972.)

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