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So far, I have encountered two areas that I haven't been able to get past on a difficulty level above Adept. First it was the quest for the Companions where Farkas takes me to a dungeon where he reveals himself as a werewolf. There we were overrun by mercs and his health dropped in like five seconds. While he didn't die, when he was "defeated" they all swarmed upon me.

The second part is where I am now, at the Snow Veil Sanctum with Mercer. We get to a room that's crawling with draugr, and I can perhaps backstab one or two before Mercer charges in head first, gets subdued in three hits and then I get one shotted. And that's only on Expert. Since I can't tell him to wait, I'm pretty much stuck here, so I will probably set the game to Novice, just to get past this one encounter. It feels like such a let down but right now I can't see any other solution. I'm level 23, using DB armor, an Elven Bow and Mehrune's Razor. I've concentrated my skills to Sneak, Archery and One-hand in that order.

Is it possible to go from start to end on Master?

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It's definitely possible, as I've beaten both the Snow Veil Sanctum and the Companions series on Master. The issue comes in as how good at the combat you are and your strategy/playstyle. I was actually only around level 16/17 when I beat that specific Companions quest, but it was likely only possible because of my play style. My main strategy was to use summons/atronachs to have the enemies focus on and then use spells to keep my distance.

It's going to be more difficult as a range-focused character build when you don't have someone or something to distract the enemies. Without having a very good sense for how adept you are at Skyrim combat, it's pretty hard to comment on whether you should be able to beat it where you're at now or not. I would think it should be possible to do at your current level and with the equipment you have, but it's hard to say for sure.

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It seems that certain playstyles (read assassins) make for an even harder game. Nearly every post about "Encounter X is too hard" is answered with "I use summon/magic etc". Well, I'm an assassin, I don't want to wield magic. –  Sandokan Mar 28 '13 at 12:03
    
I have tried to play a bit as an assassin since and it can be more challenging in certain spots. I tend to find it easier when I'm out in the open and can sneak up on enemies, as well as have much more space/cover to run around, but in the very linear caverns it's certainly more difficult. While I think I could have brute forced some of the caverns eventually, it ended up just being easier to set left hand to the healing spell or a shield. So I stand by the idea that it's probably possible, but maybe just not very fun. –  Mono Mar 28 '13 at 12:13

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