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.

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