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.


  1. Hey, glad to see you progressing there. I get *very* sidetracked while exploring the surroundings and visiting cities and... my journal is a mess. Good luck on that Mage's Guild and Telvanni thing! So far I am Blades and Mage's, but I can't pick the House or another guild yet. The Wiki website says of some conflits on quests with Fighter's and Thieve's, and I still can't pick one of them. Some for the Houses. I might just go with Hlaalu since it's right in my face in Balmora.

    Yeah, I haven't moved from there yet. Just today I decided to try to keep the quests more in mind, since I raided a tomb that was meant for a quest, heh. For my luck I keep different save games, one is before I enter any place, so that after I clear I go and check if I missed something - or if I messed up some quest to kill someone later. Anyway, I keep a little notebook by my computer to take notes. Usefull for quite notes and random WoW stuff I need to do math. Problem is, I was starting to transfer info from Morrowind's journal there, to try to keep things in order. That gave me an idea to go seach for a mod so that I could actually keep a journal written by me, like a check list so I stop beign so damn side tracked (Im seriuos, I need to search my journal soooo much to find directions, I talk too much to strangers lol). I found it, but it requires another mod... and after you had those problems with Ebony, and after reading the comments on it at Planet Elder Scrolls, I am affraid to get it.

    The mod is "Aerelorn's Writing Enhanced" and in order to make it work I need "Morrowind Enhanced", which is the one some people are reporting problems, but the file remains with a good score on the website. Would you know anything about that? If so, please tell me, I just won't get it if it may cause problems I have no idea how to fix.

    Another mod I "found" out is the Fletcher Kit, that comes with Balmora Expansion. I haven't paid attention to it, until I had to fight some ghost who would laugh at my Iron Arrows (bow is my character's primary weapon). So I got worried, because enchanted arrows are limited, as you can only find them, not make them. With the mod, though, you can add some enchants, it feels almost a little too overpowered. I recomend you go take a look if you use Marksman, the shop is near the temple in Balmora.

  2. Yes, I too have found certain items that I believe are quest items, that I've been keeping in a desk at home for the occasions when I actually come across those quests. Similarly, when I battled my way through a few of those shrines, I found some prisoners there waiting to be freed, but those are for either a Fighters' Guild or Imperial Legion quest, I'm not sure which. I have a lot of saves, too. :)

    Currently I'm a member of Telvanni, Thieves, Fighters, Mages, the Temple, the Imperial Cult, and the Blades. Oh, and Twin Lamps, apparently. I just joined the Fighters' Guild yesterday so I could take the free health potions out of their supply chest in Wolverine Hall. I haven't yet done any quests for them, or the Temple or Cult. There's no harm in joining them, it's just the advancement that might be difficult. The Temple isn't very appealing to me just because the first quest you have to do for them is to go on a pilgrimage all over the map.

    I'm going to need to start something to keep track of my quests, too. I found something called Morrowind Journal Helper that converts the journal from a saved game into a spreadsheet or other formats that you can mark notes in, or mark them off as done. I haven't tried it yet, but I need to.

    I am aware of Morrowind Enhanced and the other plugins that use it, because I also was looking for a journal enhancement a while ago. But the impression I got from the people on the Bethsoft forum who talked about it was that it was an older system of extending the scripting abilities of mods in Morrowind that is no longer as popular as it was, and that MWSE is the more widely-used standard. The fact that MGE adds MWSE capabilities automatically means I'm not really inclined to add Morrowind Enhanced, even though I would like the ability to write in my own journal. Unfortunately, the journal is already such a mess I find it hard to find some quests and information. I'm hoping putting it into an external spreadsheet will help. I run Morrowind in a window, so alt-tab is no problem. ;)

    As for arrows, I haven't looked at the ones that came with Balmora Expansion, but I've been finding fletching components and dipping poisons, and dipping poison recipes all over the place thanks to Complete Morrowind. I just haven't gotten into the arrows yet. I've actually collected a Daedric bow (for enchanting mainly, since I could just use Bound Bow for that) and a couple of steel crossbows, and a bunch of throwing weapons, but I just haven't taken the time to work on my marksman skill much. The magic has been working pretty well for me.

  3. Bah, now I wanna have Complete Morrowind for the poison tips... but Im affraid to get that bug you have. Did you find if that was it?

  4. I don't believe it was Complete Morrowind that caused the ebony problem, but Resources Enhanced, which places a script on the ebony, preventing it from being opened as normal. I tried disabling all my mods and trying to get the ebony again, but the problem remained. I've had Resources Enhanced disabled for a while now, and I'm still hoping it'll fix itself after enough time has passed. Maybe I should try installing a different mod that changes the ebony again...

    There's also Morrowind Crafting, which does just about the same things as Complete Morrowind does. I think they're pretty much equivalent in the crafting they add, including the poisons. I just don't know which one is better, since I've only used one.