Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 19: More Imperial Cult, Balmora Expansion home, crafting

The Imperial Cult quests in Ebonheart are actually pretty fun, and surprisingly rewarding in terms of the enchanted items, free spells, alchemical apparati, and skill books you get. I think these would be best to do early on in your game when you can really benefit from some of these items, for not much effort. Though they were all rewarding, the Lay Healer ones were the least interesting, as all except the first one had no special interactions on the quests, only fetching 5 units of various alchemical ingredients (the first of the set had an entertaining special interaction with a farmer), and I just ended up going back home each time to fetch the required ingredients. I'd recommend just reading the page or pages describing his quests and just make a list of ingredients to bring him all at once, so you don't need to go back and forth if you already have the items as I did.

Iulus Truptor's quests all have special interactions with NPCs, though of course you can choose to skip the trips if you prefer, and just pay him the alms yourself for the first three quests, but as I said before, I enjoyed the interaction. His later ones have you requesting donations of items, which adds a little variety and takes you to places you might not otherwise go.

As mentioned before, the Shrine Sergeant quests are the most classical adventuring quests of the lot, such as tracking down a thief, quieting a haunted house, slaying a witch in an egg mine, etc. Once you've advanced far enough in rank (which is very quick with all these easy ingredient turn-ins and the in-town alms collections), you can also start doing quests for the Oracle, which are also adventure-style quests.

I also finished collecting the last of the propylon indices. Unfortunately, the last of them was located in a stronghold that was infested by some creatures that I'd never seen before, aside from the ash zombie (one of which I had encountered when stepping briefly into the Ghostgate to finish the Temple pilgrimage quest). One of the first three...people...I encountered in that stronghold, either an ascended sleeper (looks like a sort of Lovecratian tentacle-faced thing) or a dreamer (naked dark elves) hit me and infected me with corprus disease, which I had no way of curing. Blight or common diseases I can cure, but not this one. So, that meant I had to go a little further in the main quest...just one more mission for Caius, and I was cured. Now I can put the main quest back on the backburner.

Balmora Expansion home

For quite a while, I'd noticed the house in Balmora added by the expansion called "Balmora Residence", which had doors locked higher than I could unlock. It seemed likely that this was meant as a player home, by the name, but I couldn't find a key hidden anywhere. I eventually went to the local spellmaker and made a spell to unlock doors up to level 100 (which is any door), and went in (though I accidentally got a bounty for it). I found it was a very nicely designed interior, with a spacious kitchen and a workshop, which is what I needed for my crafting. However, when I went upstairs, I found a maid who accused me of not belonging in the house and urging me to leave. The grammar was incorrect in her lines, so it was clearly added by a mod.

So I reloaded a previous save so I could figure out how to obtain the house properly. I dug into the pack of readme files that comes with Balmora Expansion, and found the readme by the author Jolard, with the mod named Balmora Manor. The readme file was no help at all in figuring out what to do. All it said was that it adds a quest for the maid. So I tried downloading the standalone version of that mod, whose readme file was no better, and opened it in the construction set to see where it was supposed to start. I still couldn't find anything, and also noticed some differences in it, such as a trapdoor leading to the Mages' Guild, which isn't in the BE version.

But, I did figure out enough of the names in the mod to find them in the BE mod when I opened that in the CS. Turns out the quest begins at the Overseer's manor. Is this added by BE too? I couldn't find any reference to this Overseer in the UESP wiki. Anyway, I had spoken with the Overseer before, but he never said anything about a quest he had for me, but his dialogue seems to be a little buggy. I went down and talked to his wife about one of the usual topics like "Latest Rumours" or something, and she mentioned the Overseer was looking for someone to do a job. I went back up and talked to him again, and this time he offered me a quest, promising a nice, but unspecified, reward. It seems that you just need to talk to him twice before he'll offer you the job, and talking to his wife isn't necessary.

It was a simple ancestral tomb clean-out quest, just outside of town, though one of the spirits seemed a little tougher than usual, and one of the items was cursed to summon a dremora lord which killed me the first time through. But after turning it in, the Overseer gave me the key to the manor. So, to get into the Balmora Residence, you have to find the Overseer, talk to him repeatedly until his buggy code makes him offer you the quest, and then do the quest.

Workshop and kitchen for crafting

I saved at that point, because I wanted to do a little renovating to customise the kitchen and workshop to optimise it for the crafting system in Complete Morrowind. I added a few cabinets for materials, replaced the kitchen stove with the CM functional stove (for bread, pies, etc.), and added a CM cauldron (for soups, porridge, poison brewing, etc). The rest of the cooking is done with portable items, which I carried from my tower. The only thing the kitchen is still missing is a sink. Even without running water, there should at least be a basin that people can manually pour water into, and maybe a well pump.

Anyway, then I moved on to the workshop, which I rearranged a bit, and set it up in three sections. One is the tailoring area, where I installed a CM loom, some containers, and a couple of tables and shelves, on which I placed the items I had collected while playing, such as the sewing machine, shears, spools of thread, loose cloth, and bolts of cloth. In the second section I installed a CM forge and anvil, for smithing and metalworking, and a couple of small tables. I also have two small cupboards under the table that divides this section from the third section. The third is the main work area with a large table with shelves, as well as cabinets and a CM hearth for pottery and glassworking. Glassworking is not likely to be something I'll be doing, as the raw glass is very expensive, and the items made from it are nearly worthless. Clay is cheap, though. This large table is where I'll do the carpentry, wickerwork and fletching, and display my crafts from all these sections on the shelves. (At least the good-looking ones.)

Although most of the skills associated with this crafting system are added by the mod (such as cooking, tailoring, etc.), smelting metal ore affects the vanilla game skill of smithing. This is fine with me, though, as smithing is not one of my major skills. A word of warning about power-leveling your crafting skills (that is, gathering a large amount of raw materials and crafting them all in one session) -- some of the crafting failures actually injure you a bit. Sticking yourself with a needle, or spilling a little molten metal on yourself. Keep an eye on your health so you don't die of crafting!

No, I haven't abandoned my nice mage tower, but now I have a proper workshop and a roomy kitchen in my second home. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 18: Clothing mods, Imperial cult quests, slaves

I began today by exploring Clothiers of Vvardenfell, the large clothing mod that I learned about from seeing the Youtube video I mentioned before which shows one of the new locations it adds. This is perhaps the largest clothing mod there is for Morrowind, adding numerous shops in multiple locations that sell selections of clothes by different authors. The readme file lists where to find all the shops and other attractions. I say attractions, because some places are more than just shops, like the lively Wailing Wench, as well as a fairy grove with dancing fairies and flying pixies (the pixies are the same ones as in the Magus Realm) who offer their outfits and matching wigs in exchange for a few of their favourite flowers, and a small colourful cave inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

It says there are about 500 new items added by this mod. I haven't yet visited all the locations, but I started with the Wailing Wench in Caldera. A little note -- if you have your game music turned off usually, I recommend turning it up for the wailing wench. The band will play a selection of fun tunes on request that suit this tavern well. The tavern sells some new drinks, rents a room upstairs, and has lots of interesting little touches and unique NPC responses. The clothier is upstairs, and sells mostly "wench" style outfits. The texturing seems a bit flat compared to the clothes from other shops.

Next I found the new room in the Vivec guild of mages, where a sinister sorceress in a circle of candles sells a small selection of goth and evil-style outfits. I like the one with spiderwebs.

From there I went to Gnisis, a town I haven't spent much time in, mainly to check out the fairies in their grove a short ways out of town, but first I stopped by the local fort where a shop was strangely situated, whose door is hidden behind a tapestry. This was not a bug, it seems, because this location was noted as being hidden behind a tapestry in the readme and in the JPEG that came with the mod, showing its exact location. I don't recall any in-game text explaining why it's hidden. This shop is mainly oriented toward male characters, with armour that doesn't work on me (my character's breasts stick out of the tops), but there are a few dresses included as well, some of which are rather nice. The male-only items aren't marked in any way, but it seems all the armour, coats, and pants are male-only, and the dresses are the only things for females.

The fairies were very nice, though I didn't come prepared with any flowers for them. I started walking around looking for some to harvest, but eventually just ran back home to get some out of my alchemical ingredient collection. The outfits (which include fairy wings) and wigs they give you are all the same except for the colour, so you just talk to the fairy whose hue you like the best.

After that, I visited the shop in Pelegiad, transdimensionally located in the side of a building where a downstairs passageway couldn't possibly fit, which sells a selection of mix and match articles. This shop is nicely designed, with mannequins displaying the clothes, a little dressing room, and evidence of tailoring. There weren't very many from this selection that I liked, but there were some good ones, especially when combined with pieces from some of the other collections. Especially good for mixing and matching are the brown and green ranger outfits, which I bought even though I'm not a ranger.

The shop in Ebonheart has possibly the best selection of the ones I've visited, with three vendors who sell different items (one focuses on hats). The shop is bigger, with a dressing room much like the one in Pelegiad, as well as a couple of attractive waiting areas, a couple of mannequins, and a couple of NPCs, one of whom offers a collection quest, and a lot of fake mirrors (as there are no true reflective surfaces in the game, except water if you use MGE). There are a number of very nice dresses and gowns here, in many different colours to choose from, suitable for an elegant night on the town, or a festival, or a formal ball. There are three hats, but they're all just different colours of the same style.

There are six more locations that I haven't visited yet, which sell fur armour, pirate wear, gypsy apparel, lingerie, and functional or glamourous armour, according to the readme.

The down side

What I don't understand is why all the dresses and gowns are classified as "shirts" and set to only use the left ankle clothing slot instead of being set as "robes" and using the same slots that the robes occupy (chest, left, and right ankle). The way it's set up, I can't wear my Dark Brotherhood boots (they cover up the left ankle, thus the gown doesn't appear), nor my enchanted skirt (it shows through the gown), nor my Dark Brotherhood pauldrons (they become visible, unlike for the robe, ruining the aesthetic). The enchantment capacity of these gowns, despite being clearly well-made and probably being comprised of the same amount of cloth as the robes, only have 10 enchantment capacity (whereas the exquisite robe, for which I was looking for a replacement, has 40). Since these are classified as shirts, I can still wear my enchanted robe at the same time, but there's no point, because it completely covers the gown.

There must have been some consensus amongst mod-makers at the time to use this system for some reason, probably to allow for some kinds of combination of outfits and accessories... I expect they all mix and match well with each other, just not with the vanilla clothes. I first saw this in another mod I installed called Cali's Opticians, which had some glasses which I wanted for my character. But the glasses I bought were set to use the "neck" slot, so when I wore them, my character's neck disappeared. They've been in a trunk ever since. At any rate, the result of these slot choices is that I can't wear these modded clothes in conjunction with the clothing and armour I've been collecting and enchanting to wear together. In the vanilla game, I can wear a shirt, pants, skirt, gloves, boots, amulet, two rings, pauldrons, helm, and robe, all simultaneously, without any aesthetic problems of the wrong articles showing or not showing, and as a mage I can enchant every single article of those clothes for maximum benefit to my stats and abilities. If I want to use these mod clothes, I'll have to completely change my approach to clothes, and basically throw out my original enchanted gear and give up the boots and pauldrons, or else edit the mod to better suit my purposes.

And I do want to use the clothing, because some of these dresses look very nice, and would make excellent replacements for my robes. But since there's no way I'm giving up the enchanting capacity of an exquisite robe, I'm definitely going to have to edit at least that bit of the mod, to increase the capacity of the gowns, and maybe change them to "robe" instead of "shirt" so I can still wear an undershirt as I can now, but without it showing up. And perhaps also edit the Dark Brotherhood boots so that they don't cover up the ankles, only the feet.

Despite the high ratio of screenshots here showing purplish dresses, there's actually a wide variety of colours, especially of the ones called "carlile", which I show in the next section here, in purple, since I ran out of room in this section (considering how many nice dresses I picked up, it was hard to choose just a few to show here!) I also have it in black, green, blue, and red, but I thought this screenshot showed the texture better.

Ebonheart slave run

One of the locations of the shop that sold these new clothes was Ebonheart, which happened to also be the headquarters for one of the factions I hadn't tried advancing in yet -- The Imperial Cult. After the main quest stuff from yesterday, I thought it might be an interesting change, so I decided to take the boat from the little fishing village Hla Oad to Ebonheart. While I was in Hla Oad I remembered this odd little quest I hadn't pursued at the time that I found it -- some slaver wanted me, a complete stranger, to deliver a khajiit slave to another man in Balmora as payment of some kind of debt, and he also carelessly joked that "she may not look like much, but it's what's on the inside that counts!" As soon as I had custody of the slave, she immediately told me that her old master had force-fed her some sealed bags of moon sugar, and that was the real payment. Unlike the guy who swallowed a key in the demo video of Dragon Age: Origins, this slave's new "master" wasn't going to wait around for the contraband to come out on its own, so she was certain to be killed and cut open to get it out.

Well, that takes "human cargo" to a whole new level, using her as nothing but a disposable bag to smuggle drugs in, so there's no question how I would deal with this situation. I was already going to free her anyway, if I could, but then as a bonus she asked me to take her to Ebonheart instead of Balmora, where she believed the Twin Lamps could help her (the Twin Lamps being the Underground Railroad of this world). Great! I was going to Ebonheart anyway, and there's the boat right there in town! I can free a slave, do some shopping, and check in with the Imperial Cult about this "lay servant" work they have for members to do.

Imperial Cult of the Nine Divines faction quests

I don't like Ebonheart. It's a confusing labyrinth of featureless stone Imperial castle architecture with no rhyme or reason, and staircases that lead up to nowhere. I found the abolitionist first, in the Argonian Mission, which I suppose is a sort of religious embassy, an Argonian representation in the Cyrodiilic Empire's main base of operations on Vvardenfell. The Skyrim Mission was in the building next door. The Imperial Cult headquarters, however, was hidden away in the far rear of Ebonheart, despite being the missionary arm of the official state religion of the Empire.

I had found the clothing shop second, and bought everything they had so I could see what it looked like. I really wish these games had the "dressing room" feature from WoW, where you can see what the clothes look like on you before buying them. Here, I have to buy it all, and then sell back the ones I don't like. There are some on display in the shops, but they're statics, so I can't mouse over them and see which dresses they are.

The Imperial Cult offers three different kinds of quests. They say normal members can't actually become priests or ministers, which is fine with me. I expect that would be some boring gameplay. So they offer "lay service" quests that fall under the categories of Almoner (going around collecting alms and donations), lay healers (not, as you might expect, healing injured or sick people, but just collecting alchemical ingredients for someone else to make potions out of), and shrine sergeants (basic adventuring quests like any other, except in the name of the church).

I did the first two almoner quests because they were both in Ebonheart. Just go to the Argonian and Skyrim missions and ask them for donations. This seemed pretty strange. Why them? Especially the Skyrim mission, since I know from Oblivion that the Nords have their own religion and they don't like the stuffy imperials and their church. But, being embassies, they did see the need to make gestures of generosity toward the religion of their occupying Imperial force. These quests were easy enough since I've had a charm spell in my repertoire for quite a while, so they all complied instantly, but each time the goal was only 100 drakes, and I paid more than that for each dress in the shop just a bit ago. The questgiver doesn't care if you actually go and talk to the people or if you just pay the money yourself, but I went anyway because I was doing these quests for the flavour, not just to get them out of the way. Quite ridiculously, if you come back with 200 drakes or more (he only takes 200, no matter how much you earn), he'll give you a special thank-you gift (unique enchanted items) worth 100 drakes for the first quest, 150 drakes for the second, and over 500 drakes for the third! What was the point of sending me out to collect alms if he had all these valuable prizes to give away?

While there, I also picked up a little side delivery quest for the East Empire Company, this world's East India Company, whose headquarters is also in this base. No tea to be found, though -- at least not in the vanilla game. Clothiers of Vvardenfell added steaming mugs of tea available for purchase at the Wailing Wench in Caldera, as well as some nice tea service sets, which unfortunately are not available for purchase, nor can they be moved. I think my crafting workshop could use some teapots and cups for a little more atmosphere.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 17+: Progression, Faction quests, enchanting

Over the past few days I've gained quite a few levels (I'm level 30 now) and advanced though a bit of the main quest, and a lot of faction quests and side quests. I'm going to complain about the main quest for a few paragraphs, so please skip to the next header if you want to avoid any ill feelings. :)

I think just about anything's more interesting than the main quest. Perhaps even the Temple quests, once I got past the annoying pilgrimage part. So far, the main quest is a lot of drudgery and grudgingly working for this agent of the emperor who imprisoned me for unexplained reasons and shipped me to Vvardenfell, all so I can fulfill...ugh, I can't say it. Blah blah prophecy, blah blah chosen one...hasn't that tiresome "prophesied chosen one" theme been beaten into the ground enough by pop fiction? Can we chop off its head, stuff its mouth with garlic, and cremate it, please? Bethesda seems to love this "destiny" business, with this, then the emperor in Oblivion's "You are the one from my dream!", and then Fawkes in Fallout 3's "We all have our own destinies, and yours culminates here."

I'm still pretty early in the main quest, due to its sheer tedium. I've just finished the part where Caius sent me to talk to some people in an Ashlander camp. I had learned all about "Ashlander courtesy" (read: hostility and snobbishness to outsiders) from Hassour Zainsubani in the previous leg of the main quest, so I was prepared for some rudeness and racism, which I was given in spades. They all need to be bribed to give you the time of day, and they tell you as much. Still, I was determined to plow through this irritating grunt work to get on to more interesting parts of the plot (or, failing that, at least get through it so I can focus on the more interesting side quests and faction quests), so I jumped through their hoops until I got to the "Ash Khan" -- quite a fancy name for some jerk living in a tent -- who says there's no way in hell he'll let me talk to the bloody "wise woman", and how dare I even imply that I might be this "destined one" they've been expecting, considering I'm one of those hated outlanders? Hey, friend, I'm just the messenger, okay?

So he says that if I want to meet the wise woman, I'll have to go through a harrowing to prove myself worthy of the title "Clan friend", because only clan members and friends can talk to her. I'm thinking, "A harrowing? Are you serious? I don't want to join your stupid nomad fraternity, I just came here to ask some simple questions to keep this government agent happy." All the civilised factions I joined just had to take a look at my skills to determine my eligibility for membership, but if I want to progress the main quest I have to submit to this barbarian's initiation. So what does this khan tell me to do, to prove my respect for their customs and worthiness? That's right, he wants me to raid his tribe's ancestral tomb, and kill the ghost of his own father to get his father's longbow to show him. And after I'm done desecrating all his ancestor's mummies, taking the weapons from their mummified hands and the offerings laid around them, and tearing them open for bone dust, not to mention trapping all the souls of the walking skeletons and his father's own ghost to recharge my gear and level up my enchanting skill, I got back to camp and he tells me "Oh, I don't actually want the bow, I just wanted to see if you could get it." Fortunately, he declares me "Clan friend" before I end up shooting him with it (just kidding), though there's no one else in his tent to hear him, and he never leaves it to tell anyone, so I guess they all just take my word for it.

So I talk to the "wise woman", who tells me that due to the wisdom of their illiterate ways, a number of the necessary prophecies have been lost because no one could write them down. She hopes that some "dissident priests" preserved them at some point, though of course how would any of them know if these priests didn't go ahead and make some changes to the text to suit themselves, or just make them up entirely? Then she starts telling me a litany of "trials" that I'll have to start going through after I report to Caius, and I'm not happy. ("I'll be judge, I'll be jury," said cunning old Fury. "I'll try the whole cause and condemn you to death.") So now's my cue to leave off the main quest again for a while, and get on to more interesting and enjoyable things.

Ring of Golden Saint and other enchantments

My original plan was to level up my enchanting to avoid the extremely high prices the professional enchanters charge by enchanting items myself. But it's not as simple as it was in Oblivion, where you could just activate an altar, pay some gold, and enchant any quality item with any level of spell that your soul gem could support, and it always worked. In Morrowind, it takes a lot more finesse, and I like that. Enchantments should be expensive if they're this prone to failure. It also makes sense that it takes higher quality gear to support more complicated enchantments, though it does require consulting lists of enchantment capacities of clothes and weapons. Strangely enough, as far as weapons go, the heaviest, rarest weapons are not the ones that hold the most powerful enchantments. The ebony staff is the best, holding 90 enchant points and weighing 16 pounds, with the second-best being the bonemold long bow, at 40 points with a light weight of 7 pounds. So I guess I won't be carrying around that 42-pound daedric spear with its paltry 15 points of enchantment capacity.

Nothing's better than rings and amulets, though, the most expensive of which hold 120 points each, and are extremely lightweight. And there are plenty of articles of clothing that can be enchanted and worn simultaneously with armour, which can also be enchanted, though not as much. The annoying thing is that there's only one type of exquisite clothing in the game (the highest enchant level). You've probably seen it in a lot of screenshots, and wondered at the taste of the characters sporting this pink-and-yellow affair. Well, it's the only colour available, that's why. It's not like it's a unique set -- you can get the pieces in quality clothing shops all over the place. It's just that when it comes to the rich, there's only one fashion.

I picked up a Telvanni-style robe from a mod...not sure which one added it, but probably Balmora Expansion, as I expect it's one of the ones I got in one of the shops there. I'm not sure exactly what's so "Telvanni" about it, since the leaders of House Telvanni all wear different robes with no unified colour scheme. Certainly not red and black, unless you count Divayth Fyr, owing to the daedric armour he's wearing. And it's decorated with skulls, another thing that doesn't say "Telvanni" to me. How about mushrooms, or crystals? Or the symbols they have on their doors, or the distinctive archways in their cities? This seems more like a necromancer's robe to me. But at any rate, it's an exquisite-level robe, so I've been using it. I'm going to install Clothiers of Vvardenfell today and see if I can find something better.

Anyway, I've enchanted a couple of articles of clothing with constant effects such as "fortify intelligence", pushing me to about 120.

My conjuration skill is still too low to successfully summon Golden Saints for easy grand soul trapping for these constant effect enchants, but it was a worthwhile investment to enchant a ring to do it for me. My new "Golden Saint ring" can summon a Golden Saint five times before recharging, saving me the trouble of searching daedric shrines for them whenever I need some. And they can come in handy in a fight, too!

Propylon indices

I've almost finished collecting all the Propylon Indices, to open up that alternate means of transportation. Just one left to go. One thing I have to say about these things -- In cases where a hostile NPC owned it, of course, the answer was to kill them. Others offered them for sale. But only the two that were owned by Telvanni members were given to me without cost. Just saying.

Anyway, once I get all of them, I'll be able to teleport from Caldera to any of 10 locations arranged in a rough circle around Red Mountain, or teleport between strongholds in either direction in the circle. (The green line on this map.) This was, in fact, the reason I chose this time to go to the Ashlander camp for the main quest -- because the wise woman had one of these indices.

Telvanni/Mage conflict -- or is it?

A frightened mage scholar named Tenyeminwe needs an escort to the ship out of town, because she got in some kind of argument with a Telvanni the previous night, and she's afraid of being attacked if she goes to the ship alone. The funny thing is that the guild sends me, a Lawman-ranked Telvanni, to escort her. You'd think they might have checked. At the very least, I'd have thought Tenyeminwe would have automatically recognised my faction like everyone else can. Even funnier, though I know there's no way for her to have known this, since it was added by a mod, but when I went to meet the scholar to escort her, I was wearing my Telvanni robe, which, even if it didn't look particularly Telvanni, might have made her doubt my motives, with its red-and-black colour scheme and skull motif.

I thought this might be the first quest to be a real conflict of interest between the two houses, thinking I may have to fight some Telvanni attacking her, or at least have to sweet talk them like I did those three racists harassing the argonian in Vivec, but in fact the walk was completely trouble-free. Just a short, simple walk through town to the docks.

Mage/Thieves attitude

I had picked up a Thief quest from Big Helende to obtain a grandmaster's retort, and I hadn't gotten around to looking for the person she said had one, when I happened to find an alchemist in one of the propylon chambers who was selling two complete grandmaster sets, so I bought a retort and delivered it to Helende when I was in town next. Figured out later that I was supposed to steal the retort from the person she'd directed me toward, but this one worked just as well.

Anyway, the next quest she gave me was to hire a wizard from the Mages' Guild to act as a bouncer for the cornerclub. Helende apparantly couldn't tell that I'm a wizard. So I went back to the guild, said hello to Arielle Phiencel again (from whom I'd previously purchased a Staff of the Silver Dawn for a Telvanni quest), and asked her about hiring a wizard for the club, and suddenly it's like she doesn't even remember that I'm a Warlock-ranked member of the Mages' Guild (she's only Apprentice-ranked), snidely saying that she might deign to send a wizard to protect my "precious guildhall" only if I bring her four pieces of raw ebony. Well, the place is called "Dirty Muriel's Cornerclub," so maybe her snootiness is warranted.) Despite the ebony mine problem I mentioned earlier, which prevented me from having a good amount of ebony, I did still have some collected and saved from other locations, so this was no problem. I suppose this is just a matter of roleplaying breakdown. If I were really serious about roleplaying this to the hilt, I suppose I should wear a different set of gear when I go on thief errands, like perhaps the Dark Brotherhood armour set I got from that assassin that attacked me from the Tribunal expansion. It includes a face-covering mask, so at least there would be a reason Arielle would suddenly not know me.

Well, there was a lot of fun exploration and questing for factions that I didn't mention. The last of the Temple pilgrimage I did was pretty interesting, actually. There are 3 sites in Vivec alone that you need to visit to finish that quest, and one of them gives you a 24-minute super-fast flying buff in exchange for a simple offering of any grade of Rising Force potion. And of course Azura's shrine quest is well worth the trip out to the middle of nowhere to obtain Azura's Star, very useful for recharges without needing to restock on soul gems.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 16: House Telvanni, shrines

As may be implied by the title, I've taken the plunge and joined one of the three Great Houses. I would have done so earlier, I'm sure, if not for the fact that you can only join one in the entire game, and that the decision is irreversible. I also took my time about deciding whether to join the Aldor or Scryer factions in WoW, though I suspect those factions no longer have much impact since WotLK came out.

I imagine most people join House Hlaalu, simply because it's likely to be the first house you ever see, since the main quest directs you to Balmora, their seat of power. Perhaps this is why their faction alignment is so middle-of-the-road, being on friendly terms with the Mages Guild, Imperial Cult, Temple, Fighters Guild, Imperial Legion, and even the Commona Tong, having mild hostility toward the other two houses as well as the Thieves Guild, and having no hated enemies (though they strongly dislike vampires and Ashlanders).

The three Houses, by the analyses I've read, are each oriented to appeal to one of the three basic play styles: thief, magic user, and fighter. Hlaalu, being all about "business", is for thieves, Telvanni is for magic users, and Redoran is for fighters, based on the types of rewards you get, the style of your stronghold, and the types of quests. There's a strange imbalance in the houses' relations with various similar independent guilds, however. Hlaalu has a mild hostility toward the Thieves' Guild (and an alliance with the Cammona Tong, who the Thieves hate), Telvanni is hated enemies with the Mages' Guild, but Redoran is friendly toward the Fighters' Guild. I'd call that a special advantage for people who like to play paladins.

House Telvanni

Anyway, I chose Telvanni, as I had been planning for some time, as is probably obvious from the background texture art of my blog headers. I'm still going to go as far as I can in the Mages' Guild, but I think if there's a conflict, I'll side with the Telvanni. Ranis did not make a good first impression, and even though a reader kindly pointed out that not all of the guild leaders are like that, Archmage Trebonius is a bumbling idiot who can't detect obvious forgeries and gives vague, impossible-seeming quests. I chose Telvanni despite having read that the little exploit that was in the original game has been patched -- the one that lets you also join Hlaalu once you've progressed through the main quest far enough. Well, no matter.

I perceive the Telvanni like the Scryers of WoW (with Redoran being the Aldor, and maybe Hlaalu being goblins?), and I picked the Scryers in WoW, too. Even though I'm generally a good-aligned character, or at least "neutral good", I'm attracted to personal wealth and comfort. My goodness and altruism only really shows at first in how I settle disputes. Only later, when I'm comfortably rich, do I feel free to be generous. So far, the only characters I've killed who didn't attack me first were those "bad people" of the Cammona Tong that Larrius sent me after. I didn't feel good about it, but it fulfilled 3 different quests. Other than that, if they don't attack me, I leave them alone, and if they attack me, but start fleeing for their lives, I let them go.

The Scryers embody two of my ideals: personal comfort and personal learning. House Telvanni seems to be much the same. True, both of them do have a bit of an evil side. Telvanni, for instance, keep slaves, and say things like, "Have you noticed, for all its proclamations about protecting the rights of property and preserving law and order, the imperial legion does little enough to capture and prosecute abolitionists? That's a bit hypocritical, don't you think?" So, I will obviously be keeping a few secrets from my allied factions. The Mages' Guild doesn't need to know that I'm working with House Telvanni, and House Telvanni doesn't need to know that I'm in the Mages' Guild and have been freeing every slave I've found the key for.

Joining up, with a side trip to a money factory

As I'm already Warlock rank in the Mages' Guild, the Telvanni were none too pleased to see me when I headed back to Tel Branora, the only Telvanni-controlled town I'd visited yet, to pick up a Summon Golden Saint spell from Felen Maryon. But I've been putting points into my Personality stat occasionally when I level up, and been working on my speechcraft as well, so it's not a big problem. Bribing is easiest, and still counts to increase speechcraft, conveniently enough.

I couldn't find anyone willing to talk about joining House Telvanni in Tel Branora, though, so I headed to Sadrith Mora, which someone said was the seat of power of House Telvanni, as Balmora is for Hlaalu. I had a hell of a time finding anyone to talk to about it even there. I headed for the two biggest buildings first, assuming those were the best places to start. The first was actually a hotel, with a nice little quest that is better as a moneymaker than something to complete, in my opinion.

There's a haunted room in the Gateway Inn, with a respawning ghost. I soul trapped the ghost on a whim, and to my surprise found that it occupied a grand soul gem, and was worth 56,000 drakes! For something that respawns every time you enter the room and is very easy to kill? And they want me to get to the bottom of why this ghost keeps respawning? Someone's not seeing the forest for the trees here. I can stand there for over a minute letting him hit me, and my health barely drops -- he's good for training my block and armour skills that way. For comparison, winged twilights are a lot harder to kill (for me anyway -- they tend to kill me in one hit) and their trapped souls aren't worth that much more (60,000 drakes). Considering the empty gems only cost 200 drakes, I consider this to be a wise investment. I'll save the Golden Saint and Winged Twilight souls for enchanting (they're the only ones that allow constant effect enchantments), and use these Gateway Haunt souls for when I need a little extra cash. I guess it's a good thing that I never reset Creeper's inventory, as I had a lot of stuff to buy back from him to actually get the full value of the soul gem.

So, after also purchasing some hospitality papers from Angaredhel, just to make things nice and legal, even though other characters advised me that they weren't necessary as long as I stay out of trouble, I went to the biggest building in town, which is where they said Master Neloth lives, apparently the head of town. The man wouldn't even talk to me, his disposition was so low, so I had to cast a charm spell on him just so I could give him a bribe. But regardless, there was still no option to join the house, so I investigated the whole tower looking for this spokesperson of his (or "Mouth" as they like to call them). One interesting thing about House Telvanni is that they intentionally omitted stairs or ramps for some areas of their towers, reasoning that only people with the ability to levitate should have any business going up there anyway.

Where the hell are they?

I didn't find the aforementioned Mouth in that building, so I went looking for what my journal described as a "council" building. It was difficult to find, because it was much smaller than I was expecting, and all the way on the far edge of town. It was much bigger on the inside, most of it being underground, hence the deceptively small exterior. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong door to look in first, and ended up going deep, deep underground, and as I later found, the councillors are in the first door in front of you as you enter. Nevertheless, at the bottom of an aptly-named "hermitage" in the bowels of this tower, I found a woman who actually had the "join" topic. Yay! I saw her disposition shoot way up when I joined, and everyone in town was nicer to me after that. Amusingly, one of the priests of the Imperial cult outside the hermitage first complained about the "cramped, dark" accommodations the Telvanni had given to them, and then was rather sarcastically obsequious to me after learning that I was a member of House Telvanni. Rather ungrateful, I thought. Didn't look cramped to me, and I hear candles and torches work wonders for lighting up a place.

I found the councillors (well, the Mouths for the councillors actually -- the ones I was supposed to get the join topic from) after I went back upstairs, and they were all conveniently in one place, allowing me to pick up five House quests at once. One of them I could complete immediately, as it was a simple request of fetching a few muck samples, which I already had on me thanks to my hobby as a herbalist/alchemist.

West Bitter Coast

I was quite pleased and excited about these new Telvanni doors opening in front of me, but before I got too deeply into them, I wanted to take care of a couple of things back in Balmora, and ended up going on a long excursion. Firstly, I headed to the Hlaalu council building and reported that I had found and dealt with the murderer of Ralen Hlaalo, and the Nileno Dorvayn was puzzled, but pleasantly surprised that a Telvanni would do such a thing. She paid me 1000 drakes, and said that she'd make a point of letting the Hlaalu councillors know of my deed. I don't know what effect that may actually have on our relations, if any.

After that, I headed west, back to the Bitter Coast, to check on two things -- a highwayman that Larrius Varro had asked me to do something about, and a khajiit that Sugar-Lips Habasi of the Thieves' Guild had told me to retrieve some dwarven artifacts from. I could have just brought her some of my table decorations, but I decided to take the scenic route.

So I ended up in Hla Oad, where the khajiit was staying, and found some interesting secrets in that tiny fishing village. I'd recommend checking it out. The guy denied having any dwarven artifacts, so I checked back in with Sugar-Lips, who assured me he was lying, and spent a while trying to open his locked chest while not being seen by either him or the publican. Was tricky, and took a lot of chameleon spells and enchanted gear to pull it off.

Then, as I could see some more daedric shrines near the village, I went off exploring. As I went to get a better look at one, I happened to find that highwayman Varro had told me about, and he was almost as roundabout as Varro in demanding money from me. When he attacked, he was of the opinion that I "should have picked an easier opponent", apparently not having noticed me killing a nix hound that had attacked as I approached him.

Daedric shrines

This map that comes with the game is very handy in finding locations. Those little Xs in the water show locations of notable sunken points of interest, such as shipwrecks. What I couldn't tell from the map was that this area contained not one, but four daedric shrines, one of which is located underwater at one of those Xs on the map, and is the source of a daedric quest like you see in Oblivion. I investigated all of the shrines (all of which are reddish, and not a Lovecraftian "grey-green" as NPCs tell you. The angles are appropriately strange, though), and obtained a large amount of excellent loot, including a glass shield (raises my armour level just by having it equipped, regardless of whether I block with it) and a glass jinkblade. Now there are three weapons that I'm carrying around all the time, for their useful enchantments. I just need to find a shortblade trainer so I can hit more often with them.

A strange thing that occurred is that in two of these shrines, certain occupants didn't attack me immediately, so I went up and spoke with them a bit, finding nothing special in their dialogue and a reasonable disposition, but a few seconds later they seemed to "wake up" and notice me, and attacked. One of them actually offered training in some disciplines, and continued to offer it even after attacking me -- she gave up the fight and started fleeing, and I stopped my attacks, and as long as I could catch up with her I could talk to her and obtain some training from her.

Golden Saints

I hit level 19 while I was investigating these places, and suddenly I'm seeing Golden Saints at these daedric shrines, which is very convenient for me, because I can't yet cast the Summon Golden Saint spell that I'd been planning to use to fill my grand soul gems for enchanting purposes. I believe it's because my conjuration skill is too low, because when I use spells and enchanted jewelry to increase my intelligence and conjuration skill, the success percentage estimate rises a bit above zero. So I've been practising conjuration when I have the down time, just summoning an ancestor ghost over and over, which raises the skill very slowly but surely. The Wizard's Staff I picked up at the first daedric shrine I visited is my best friend for dealing with these golden saints and winged twilights, keeping me out of reach of their swords and claws (as they have no ranged attacks), except for the one moment when I have to get close enough to cast soul trap on them. I need to make a ranged version of that spell.

Other attractions

Also in this area is one very small dwarven ruin which contained nothing special, aside from some dwarven spectres whose souls are worth 40,000 drakes. And visible from the second daedric shrine is a large stronghold called Hlormaren, which seemed strangely abandoned despite appearing to be in perfect condition. A small room on the left contained a propylon chamber, which is a dunmer teleportation network which still works despite being completely unattended and apparently attracting no interest from outside parties. There's a free official plugin that adds a quest to gather all the indices for these chambers, which are necessary to allow you to use them, but you can find the indices and use the chambers without the official plugin. It's just that the plugin adds a quest that has you hunt them all down with directions on where to find them, and finally gives you a master index to replace all the separate ones, making it more convenient to use them.

Hlormaren would make an excellent place to live if I didn't already have a modded house, as the occupants are all hostile and so the place is empty once you've gone through it and cleaned out the bandits and slavers. Well, almost empty, as there are two people on the roof who didn't attack me, so I left them alone, and a basement with 3 or 4 slavers who also didn't attack me, even after I set all the slaves free. But that leaves 2 levels of dining rooms and bedrooms with plenty of storage free for any players who like large strongholds. Just bring some candles or torches in to brighten the place up a bit.

Well, that was an incredibly long post. And looking at the locations on the map, I really see how little of the game I've explored so far. I didn't even have any mods to talk about this time, aside from the beautiful tree replacers I already mentioned before that make the Bitter Coast so pretty.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 15 extra: Ebony mining

What should have been a delightful discovery -- a mine full of raw ebony rocks -- was instead an exercise in frustration, because activating the rocks as a container did nothing. No response. I recalled that I had a mod called "Resources Enhanced" installed, which claimed to make changes to the way certain items were harvested, including diamonds, ebony, and pearls, but when I had earlier found a few diamond deposits, I was able to extract the diamonds like any container. Possibly this is because Complete Morrowind added clay to the diamond deposits, which overrode any changes that Resources Enhanced made, and I suppose it must not have done something similar to the ebony.

The readme file for Resources Enhanced says it makes ebony minable by hitting it with a mining pick, which I had stashed away for such an occasion, but when I returned to it, it didn't work. Neither activating it, nor swinging the pick at the rock. The readme also says that there's a "simple" option that can be enabled in the console, which makes ebony openable as a container again. I entered the code, and there was no change.

I disabled the mod, and reloaded a game saved before I had entered the cave, but the rocks still did nothing when I tried to open them. In the CS, I can see that the containers have a script attached to them, but removing that script (and all references to the ebony altogether) didn't help either. I tried a mod cleaning with Wrye Mash, and there was still no change.

Not even creating my own plugin that marked the ebony deposits as "changed", and set to load last, caused them to act like normal containers again. I think I'm just out of luck there.

Day 15: Shrines, loot, NPCs, crafting

Good mage loot in daedric shrines

I've been finding several quests along the sides of the roads. One was a very easy, but amusing, escort quest to Vivec. Another was a very strange "quest" of sorts where a bandit just wanted to "steal a kiss." I'm trying to not look these things up until after I've finished the quests.

While I was in Caldera, I ran into a lady who wanted me to recover her stolen heirlooms, which were located in an unspecified hideout somewhere east of Caldera. I ran around for a while looking for such a place, thinking perhaps it might be a tomb I saw against the mountains, but it didn't seem likely some bandits would be hiding out in an ancestral tomb, with all the ghosts and skeletons around, and upon further inquiry in town I was informed that the hideout was on the opposite side of the mountains.

While heading for that area, I found one of the daedric shrines I'd heard about from countless NPCs, and had basically ignored, thinking they were the same as Oblivion's daedric shrines (just a statue with a few harmless NPCs standing around making vague gestures of worship at it). Well, these Morrowind ones are a little different, being larger ruined structures with unique architecture, with columns and walls hiding a high concentration of animals and daedric creatures. I saw dremora, clannfears, and a winged twilight for the first time at this shrine. And more unlike the Oblivion shrines (aside from the cave housing a shrine to Sheogorath involved in the Everscamp quest), these shrines have interiors, where the actual statues are. Anyway, a very different experience, and a great source of souls to trap! Maybe I can actually make a constant effect enchanted item soon.

I also came across a nice staff. Remember how I said a staff suits a mage? I hadn't yet found any staves that had any useful enchantments on them, but this one's called Wizard's Staff, and it has two very nice enchantments on it, which last long enough for a typical fight: Levitation and fortification of the unarmoured skill, for two minutes. I'm not sure really how much I need the armour skill boost, though, considering the levitation keeps me out of reach of the enemies, so I can just throw spells at them. Probably helps protect against archers. I'm keeping this staff! But I'll also keep the Fiend Tanto on me as well, at least for now.

I also saw the Ghostfence, and poked my head into the gate buildings before leaving it for later. Assuming the main quest will take me through there, I went back and reported to Caius Cossades to move that along a little bit.

Need more enemies

One dremora is enough for me in a fight, or any higher daedra (dremora lord, winged twilight, etc.), and some of these axe-swinging barbarians are tough for me as well, but in general I'm finding the caves to be a little too lightly populated. I want a bit more of a challenge when I go dungeon-delving. In Oblivion, I'd regularly find bandits or raiders in groups of two or three, chatting away, and it was a challenge to take one out quickly with the element of surprise so that I only had to deal with one or two more at the same time. I've found a couple of mods, like Tweaks, Sneaks and Better Freaks, and More Enemies, but as far as I can tell they only add enemies to exterior cells, and I only want the actual interiors to be more dangerous, not just walking along the road. There's one called The Undead, which adds 150 new types of undead, but not necessarily more of them. I can't tell from the description. I need something like Mart's Monster Mod for Oblivion. Perhaps Morrowind Comes Alive might help. It says it adds a lot of NPCs, both friendly and hostile. Suggestions would be welcome.

More mods & crafting

I've also found a couple of useful NPC interaction mods. Especially useful to get them to move out of your bloody way when they're standing in a narrow hallway or in a doorway. One is simply NPC Move Command, but there are others for more extensive possibilities, like NPC Functionality (general purpose RPing, with move and follow commands, as well as disposition and other stuff), or NPC Commands (mostly sex-oriented, but also includes move and follow commands), or perhaps Give your orders (works only on people of lower rank than you in any particular faction). These might conflict with the Less Generic NPC series, but I haven't checked on that yet.

Meanwhile, I've toyed around with adding a room to the Magus Realm tower to house my pottery, tailoring, cooking, carpentry, and forging crafts. This was immediately a challenge because I can't find any way to "duplicate cell" in the Morrowind CS like you can in the Oblivion CS, I just wanted to copy a room and its contents, and add or remove things to my new cell from that starting point. Not only could I now find such a command, but the "copy render" and "paste render" doesn't seem to work across separate cells, so I can't seem to load the room I want, copy its contents, load my new cell, and paste the contents into it. Tried several times, and nothing happens. I tried a utility called TESfaith which claims to be able to do this externally, but my efforts resulted in nothing but identical, unchanged duplicates of either the Morrowind.esm or the .esp of the tower. So, I'm doing it the long way.

The frustrating thing about this is that I can't actually use it until I've completed it to my satisfaction, because the game doesn't always update changes to mods once you've visited the cell, and I can't just "clean" it as you might do to get around that problem because I plan to be leaving my raw materials in there, and cleaning the save would reset the cell and make me lose anything I put in there. Well, I suppose I can create my room in a separate ESP, and teleport myself to and from it, so as not to leave my items in there until it's complete, and disable and re-enable the ESP whenever I change it. Just a lot more bothersome than it was to make mods in Oblivion.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Day 14: Balmora & Mage quests, more exploring


Well, after an interesting turn of events, it turns out I was correct in my suspicions about Ranis Athrys, and I can safely say that she won't be blocking that particular hallway anymore. But the tour of all the guilds of mages in the other cities has made me sort of anxious to start expanding my activities into other cities. Meanwhile, however, there are a number of unfinished quests in Balmora, one of which I completed today. It was that "murder of Ralen Hlaalo" quest. I had not joined House Hlaalu, as I'm still saving myself for House Telvanni, but I heard about Ralen's murder from a random NPC, and broke into his house to investigate. This house is one of the ones that I see listed in several places as a recommended home base in the vanilla game if you don't plan to install any house mods. Well, it's all right, but it doesn't feel any more like a "home" than the Mages' Guild does. More like someone else's place where you're temporarily dumping your stuff.

As it turns out, this quest has a common goal with Larrius Varro's little story (if Ralen's servant was telling the truth, of course). I like Larrius, and his very roundabout way of asking you to do something!

This was also the first place where I attempted to goad someone into attacking me first, so I wouldn't get in trouble for it later. I was going about it the wrong way at first. I thought that if you reduce someone's disposition to 0, they'll be likely to attack you, as happens in Oblivion. Here, though, it doesn't happen. Only by actively taunting them, and succeeding a certain number of times, will they attack you. And it also seems that a successful taunt requires their disposition to be high, strangely enough. I found that I got many more failures when I tried taunting him at disposition 0, than when I taunted him while I had him under the influence of a charm spell.

I have to say, though, that THE Morrowind NPC Makeover made an error in changing the appearance of one of the NPCs involved, as he no longer fits the description given by the servant.

And why is Ralen's last name "Hlaalo" instead of "Hlaalu"?


While I was still in Balmora, I stopped by the shop of a raver -- oops, I mean Ra'Virr -- who buys those illegal narcotics Moon Sugar and Skooma, but more importantly, has a nice selection of enchanted weapons.

Early on in the game, I bought a Devil Spear from him, on the recommendation of something I had read...probably UESP's getting started guide. It was useful for finishing fights if I ran out of mana, had a good reach for keeping a bit away from the enemy, and like all of the "devil", "demon", and "fiend" series of weapons, actually conjures a daedric weapon to replace itself whenever you activate it, which has higher stats, and a constant effect of fortifying your skill in that kind of weapon. Very nice! I hadn't been using the spear for a while, since making my custom spells, and it was a bit heavy to be carrying around for no reason (at 14 pounds), and my short blade skill is higher than my spear skill anyway, so I decided to get a lighter replacement.

I went with the Fiend Tanto, which is only 4 pounds, and when the bound weapon is conjured it has faster attacks than the spear, with better slash and chop damage (though lower thrust). Like the spear, it also comes with a 10 second shock shield, and though it isn't quite as powerful as the one on the spear, I think it's worth it for the lighter weight. The bound dagger lasts for 60 seconds, which should be more than enough for a typical fight. A dagger or a staff is probably more classically suitable for a mage than a spear, anyway.


I finally went back to Seyda Neen to check on some things. I think I was originally going there as a quicker trip to Pelegiad, but I got distracted. I went back to that ancestral tomb where I left that rotten log to see if it had finished drying yet. It had, but I was informed that it had been too rotten, and was not salvageable. I had the same results with the two rotten logs I'd left drying out in front of the Caldera guild of mages, which I couldn't pick up before because there was an unusually long rainy season there at the time. There really should be an option on those logs to abort the "drying" process and move them somewhere else.

I've also acquired more folded cloth, and have been attempting to sew some clothes. (There are some other cloth items that can be crafted aside from clothes as well, such as rugs, pillows, and usable bedrolls.) So far, my skill has been slow to rise in that area. I've been having a hard time finding cloth, as vendors don't usually sell it, so I have to resort to stealing it from various places. Not very ideal. I've read in the mod's readme that there's one vendor that has unlimited supplies, though. I'll have to look into that.

Over the course of my playing, I've found recipes for 3 of the mod's brewable poisons, for applying to weapons. These are found in books in different locations.

Additionally, I've figured out how to do a little metalworking, and made some probes at the guild in Ald'ruhn where there's a convenient hearth and anvil. I think I may have to add another room into the Magus Realm tower to accomodate some of my crafting. I need a hearth and anvil for smelting and forging, and a loom or two for sewing would be a nice alternative to the portable sewing machine, which has to be picked up to use it, whereas looms do not. I also need a larger kitchen, with more counterspace, I think. A hearth is also necessary for pottery and glassblowing. And perhaps I could also use a section for my carpentry crafts away from the library area. Carpentry is mainly for making furniture (beds are also usable), musical instruments, etc. Expansions and renovations to follow!

Seyda Neen and teleporting

While I was at the tomb where I left that log, I decided to swim out to a little island I saw a ways off the shore, to see if anything was there (also checking underwater to see if I could glimpse any of those fabled underwater palaces that Water Life is supposed to add, but no luck there). Indeed, there were two locations on the tiny island, right near each other, strangely enough. Seems hard to believe the tunnels of the cave and tomb wouldn't intersect each other, the way they're placed. And who in their right mind builds tombs right next to the ocean, anyway? Are they using magic force fields to keep the water out, or what? There are mountains right nearby, which would be a drier location for these things.

This cave was my first test of the Multiple Teleport Marking Mod, something I knew must exist, but couldn't be bothered to look for it until a reader here helpfully did the work for me (thanks, Dragatus!) This mod sort of eliminates the need for the pack guar, since I have 15 slots to mark for recall, so I can just mark my current location, and teleport back to Creeper to sell off my loot, or to my home to store some items, and then teleport back to the dungeon, tomb, etc. I don't mind the loss of the guar, anyway, since there was always that annoyance of him constantly getting in my way of doors or creatures to loot, etc.

I need to look into a way to reset Creeper's inventory, too, to get rid of the items I've sold him over the past few weeks that I don't plan on re-buying. Then again, I might regret that later, since I may want to buy some of those weapons back from him to melt down as scrap metal for crafting. Ah well.

Friday, May 1, 2009

List of mod lists

So here's a list of sites that I have bookmarked, that have made an effort to spotlight various useful mods in different categories:

Day 13: More spells, wandering

I spent most of this session just exploring the area around the lake that Pelegiad overlooks, on a vague mission of looking around for some person that was mentioned in one of my quests. It's a large area, full of alchemical ingredients to harvest, and a few ancestral tombs and an "egg mine". I explored a bit of the mine, but not the whole thing (those eggs were getting heavy), and continued on around, meeting a fellow on the road who had a short quest to explore the area (which is what I was doing anyway) to find his lost friend. I thought he might have gone into a tomb I saw very close by, so I went in there expecting to have to find his friend's corpse. He wasn't in there, but there was a pretty unique encounter down there, which I won't spoil. But, this was my first combat test of the use of my new Life Tap spell.

Life Tap

As I explained before, I thought this would be good spell to port into Morrowind, to better balance the mana problem. The idea is a spell of negligable cost which converts an equal or semi-equal amount of your own health into mana. A dangerous thing to do in the heat of battle, of course, but that's what makes it so appealing for role-playing purposes. After casting that (several times if necessary), the warlock must regain health by draining it from an enemy. Since the in-game spellmaking made it prohibitively mana-expensive to cast, with no discount for the obvious cost to my own health, I had to make it in the CS. I'll demonstrate its use in a little video, and probably put the spell up on TES Nexus as a mod later.

The Drain Life spell can be made in-game just fine, though again, the mana cost doesn't make it very practical as a means of restoring your health, as it also comes with a large mana hit, whereas a simple healing spell like the Hearth Heal does not. I think I may just go ahead and create a low-cost, long-duration spell that leeches a small amount of health from the target while restoring a greater amount to you, just so it's more of a tactical move than a killer offensive spell. The reason WoW warlocks have to do it this way is because they have no healing spells -- just drain life, potions, and bandages. The reason I'm recreating it here is that I think it makes for a more interesting game mechanic for a certain kind of mage: endurance and fortification of health is either just as important or more important than intellect, because this way your own health can be used as a renewable supply of mana.