A Fool In Morrowind, Day 1 – Trousers

By Alec Meer on June 23rd, 2009 at 9:07 pm.

Time for adventures! As you’ve probably gathered, I’m embarking on a series of diaries documenting my aimless exploits in Morrowind, the third Elder Scrolls game and predecessor to the, ah, divisive Oblivion. Armed only with a bunch of mods* and an entirely cavalier attitude towards lore and saving the world, I finally set off to Vvardenfell. In this first instalment – fighting ducks, plummeting wizards and accidental trouser-loss.

First, a few very basic ground rules about how I’m going to play this:

- My character is very much in this for himself, rather than being especially interested in any epic quest to banish evil from the land. This means I am free to roam as I please, and am not held back by a specific moral code – I do what I want to do, but must accept any consequences of that, rather than reaching for reload. The exception to this is death, because I’m not starting over every time a bandit cuts me from nave to chops.
- I might be a thief and an oaf but I am not, however, a murderer. When someone attacks me, I’ll fight back – but during this adventure, there will be no killing people in cold blood. Of course, this stance may at some point be tested…
- I will not attempt to shape my character’s development one way or another. Stats don’t generally figure in any real narrative, so to all intents and purposes they won’t exist here either. If this means I end up with a horrible, cludgy mess of a character, so be it. The adventures are what matter.

Okay. Shall we begin?

I can’t remember what I was in prison for. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t anything really bad though, as I don’t seem to be taking my release from it terribly seriously. After a Dark Elf with some particularly unattractive facial piercings asks me my name – a little odd, as we’ve clearly been on this prison ship for a while, but it’s only as I prepare to leave that he thinks to ask – a swaggering guard turns up to walk me out, and to freedom.

I’m not having any of it. As he strides manfully towards the prison ship’s exit, rather than mutely following as requested, I repeatedly attempt to overtake him. Hey, slowpoke, wassamatter? He seems displeased, but says nothing. What’s he going to do? I’m a free man now. I surge past him, reaching the hatch before he can whine at me. So long sucker.

Creeeeeeeak and…. daylight! Ah, yes. I don’t remember anything before today, but somehow it feels like a while since I saw the sun. It’s beautiful out there – trees and seas, and civilians pacing around amiably. I’m going to enjoy this place. The goodly guards have even brought in Morgan Freeman to cheerily send me on my way. Thanks, Morg.

Just past him, another guard arrives – heavily armoured, and blocking my path. I tense. Partly because I’m expecting trouble, and partly because he vaguely reminds of someone from another life. Someone I loathe to the pit of my very soul. Was it… Jauffre? I brace myself to hear a voice from my nightmares, but it’s okay. The people of Vvardenfell don’t communicate quite like those in that other life**. My ears are safe.

Jauffre-esque simply wants to know my origins. I’m a Dark Elf, I tell him. Look at my stern, oddly wrinkled face, I gesture. Admire my long, luxurious ebony locks, I preen. He waves me on.

I enter the building behind him, into a lavish room of ornaments and stern men. What a lot of people seem to have turned up for my arrival. It’s almost flattering. The bald fella I approach next wants to know my trade. I can’t quite remember, but I’m pretty sure I don’t fall square on the side of the law. It seems foolish to admit this but… hell, I yam what I yam. ‘Agent’ seems the best description of what I do – a bit sneaky, a bit thiefy, but not a total waste of space when it comes to a straight sword fight. I can also summon a few magical beasties for kicks and diversions. Next, he wants to know my starsign. Christ, man, this isn’t speed-dating. Oh, alright- the Thief. Happy now? I briefly turn invisible, just to show off.

I’m sent down the hall, and wander into a small sideroom. There is swag here. I peer around the corner cautiously. No-one seems to be watching, so… into my massive pocket it all goes: plates, candelabra, books, cutlery, bread, some strange ointment. Even the bread baskets are pocketed – every penny counts, right? I might be fresh off the boat, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got enough loot to afford a nice hat already.

I head out the door, briefly pausing in the next thoroughfare to swipe a magic ring from a barrel, and next I bump into Julius Caesar. I think he wants me to do a job for him. What am I, a volunteer fireman? Stow it, buddy: I’m a criminal straight off the criminalboat. I let him drone on a bit, then wander off again. One more door and then finally – I have the run of town.

It’s busy out. People are everywhere, a few children skip around the streets, and for some reason there’s a huge horse standing in the way of the main road out of town. Now, I’ve sworn not to take a life in cold blood, but inconsiderate horses don’t really count. During my casual larceny earlier, I pocketed a dagger – eat it, Mr Ed.

I get a couple of good stabs in before I’m warned that the townspeople don’t take kindly to me attacking their pets. The horse scarpers, and a guard accosts me. Do I want to pay a fine, to go to prison, or to fight? I don’t think I’m really going to risk my own life for the sake of the right to knife a pony, so I give the guy 65 gold and he lets me go. I’m not convinced I’ve had 65g worth of fun, but it sure beats going back to jail.

I am a little annoyed that I didn’t get closure on my first fight, however. So, I sneak around the back of the houses, and find a pond. A few ducks and herons are swimming around calmly. I stealth over to the cutest duckling I can find and shnikt-splat-squawk.

As I stare at the tiny yellow body, I experience an unpleasant sensation in the pit of my stomach. What is that? It’s not the pride of a clean steal. It’s not the adrenal joy of a fight well fought. Oh, yes. It’s guilt. Terrible, gnawing, shameful guilt – I just killed a baby duck, for no reason whatsoever. Oof. If I want the bards to ever sing my story, I need to smarten up my act a little. I head out of town, in search of a fair fight to redeem myself. There’ll surely be bandits out here, and I’m going to fight them. So long as they fight me first, of course.

On the way, a wizard in a funny hat falls out of the sky, and lands in a crumpled heap in front of me.

Erm?

I run behind a nearby tree, and hide for a bit. Once I’m sure that whatever threw the wizard isn’t hot on his heels, I creep over to the corpse. It seems I have no problem with rifling through the pockets of dead bodies, interestingly. Just as well, as this guy’s loaded with good stuff. There’s a sword with a magical electric charge, a few coins, some fancy shoes, a nice robe, and a book. Oh, and that ridiculous hat, which looks rather like a prophylactic. I immediately put it on my own head.

The book says something about experimental magical transport, which I presume was the source of this poor guy’s fatal arrival. I’ll look into that later. Right now though, as I stare at the mysterious wizard’s now-nude corpse, I feel that unpleasant sensation in the pit of my stomach again. This time, I supress it, and head back to town. Have stuff, will sell.

I find the local shop, but the first person I talk to in there seems to be a trainer rather than a seller. And yet she refuses to train me. I attempt some friendly persuasion, which backfires spectacularly. She’s instantly annoyed by my attempts at a compliment, and the conversation grinds to a surly halt. Oops – better hope I don’t urgently need training any time soon. I head upstairs, and find the shop’s proprietor. He seems unaware or unconcerned that my of my wares have been stolen from military bases and dead bodies from the sky, so I quickly amass what seems like a small fortune. I immediately spend it again, on a lovely set of chitin armour and a steel short sword.

To afford the last pauldron, I have to also sell what I’m wearing (though I manage to hang onto that ridiculous hat). I don’t notice until after the transaction is complete that I’ve managed to sell my trousers – without buying replacements. Nor can I now afford new pants. I’m all decked out in fierce-looking armour, but I don’t have any trousers.

My shoulders might be massive and spikily armoured, but my thin legs are embarrasingly bare, and a thin loincloth only just conceals my modesty. I look like I got wasted on a Lord of the Rings-themed stag night, and have left half my Sauron costume in some bar five hours ago. No-one in the shop laughs, but I can tell they’re looking.

Blushing, I slope off, a sad, bare-legged silhouette of shame. But at least now I have my first quest: to find some new trousers. I head out of town again, in search of profitable adventure. As I do, I wander past an old friend, still lying naked in the mud.

Huh. There’s that unpleasant feeling again.

Tomorrow: slaves, exciting new trousers and robbing the taxman.

*A few newly-added mods since the last post, in case you care – the excellent if faintly unnerving Children of Morrowind, the handily atmospheric Lights 300, an alternative tree overhaul in Seasons and a replacement Dark Brotherhood armour, the latter purely because something went horribly wrong with the original look during my ultra modding. A giant yellow pentagon doesn’t scream stealth, somehow.

** There’s little speech in Morrowind, so most dialogue happens only in text. Which mercifully spares me Oblivion’s ear-abusing handful of voice actors.

, .

81 Comments »

  1. Bret says:

    You definitely need to steal some pants.

    For everyone’s sake.

  2. Pundabaya says:

    And in the game, too.

  3. MrMelons says:

    Swimming is not for low levels!!! I seriously doubt anyone except the brave or the foolish know how to swim in morrowind, considering the vast amount of things in the water that want to kill you.
    Btw, don’t feel ashamed about the loss of your trousers good sir. Apparently witches in morrowind take great pleasure in the plundering of mens pants.

  4. CakeAddict says:

    Haha, I was just installing morrowind (again, sadly) myself when I saw this post.
    I had forgotten about the wizard from the sky oddly enough since I can remember my stupidity the first time around. *cough* I think everybody knows what I’m talking about.

    I’m happy to see that you have made the wise decision of selling your pants instead of the most awesome hat in the game. (And very very very happy that you haven’t installed the nude version of better body’s)

    Can’t wait to see how you will handle the tax man issue tomorrow.

  5. cyrenic says:

    The wizard falling out of the sky and the subsequent inevitable use of his magic item were some of my favorite moments from that game.

  6. M.P. says:

    Make sure you go visit the crazy wizards living giant mushrooms! :)

  7. Dr. Nerfball says:

    Or hero now has a… hey, did you ever give us his name in the first place? Meh, whatever, he is now called… The Pantless Avenger!*

    *Name may be subject to change due to the varying pantitude of the character in question

  8. Junior says:

    A fine start, who needs trousers anyway eh?

  9. Serondal says:

    I found this kind of boring. Though that is to be expected we’re still earlier on in the story. I remember morrowind being a pretty boring game though so I don’t know if it will improve or not. I enjoyed it but there were long tracts of time where I was just walking/jumping/ ect from one quest point to another never meeting a challenge I couldn’t over come.

    That is one of the reasons I kind of liked Giskard’s Oblivion mod that made the game a lot more unleveled to the point of making the game hard. You’d often run into beasts that where WAY to strong for you to kill which would require that you run away for a change.

    In origonal oblivion there was nothing strong enough to kill you in the wilderness if you know how to fight and I only died once in my entire oblivion playing career. The first day I had the game I went into a crypt and got all the way to the bottom of it and accidently triggered a quest monster to show up. An ancient lich just appeared and layed waste to me :P found out later that was tied into a quest to get some relics for a goods collector who’s trying to get some ancient Ayelid crown or some such. Scared the poo out of me.

  10. pat pierson says:

    TOu have not seen the real, beautiful Morrowind until you are used Brash’s Fantasy Colored Morrowinf texture pack.

  11. Mark says:

    I agree with Serondal. This diary felt pretty bland and pointless.

  12. Alec Meer says:

    Aww, you’re wonderful too.

  13. Tei says:

    What falling wizard? I have played morrowind for like six years, and I have never see this wizard? I suppose walked in different direction (maybe to the underwater dungeon near that town) or something. GRRRrrr.. this make me want to start again to play what is teh fuss about this wizard.

  14. Rinox says:

    Anal alert, but: Morrowind is the 4th in line Elder Scrolls game!

    Arena, Daggerfall and Battlespire came first. But the latter is so unbelievably awful that I will excuse the error, magnanimous nazi that I am.

    P.S. I know, Redguard is set in the TES universe too, but just isn’t part of the series as such

  15. Mr Ominous says:

    You’ve never seen the falling wizard?

    You, sir, have never truly played Morrowind.

  16. richmcc says:

    To me, this diary felt pretty spicy and pointful, so please keep going.

    Dreadfully, I’ve never played Morrowind. Though I did sink 180 hours into Oblivion as penance.

  17. Andrew Wills says:

    Great read Alec! Kind of wish I’d bought the Oblivion and Morrowind Pack now, rather than just Oblivion during the steam sale :(

  18. Ayekay says:

    Some of the details could do with a trim, but I liked this. It looks like Morrowind, it smells like Morrowind, it neatly captures the sense of possibility and frustration that I remember from Vvardenfell day 1.

    I wonder whether stealing an entire pair of trousers counts as pickpocketing.

  19. Serondal says:

    Redguard is just as much a part of the sires as Battlespire is (that is, not at all)

  20. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Alec:
    Aww I think you’re pretty cool.

    Oh yes the wizard.
    I remember when I used his spell on the xbox I was launched through five separate loading areas, over a village and was finally eatened by a fish in a small lake. I then spent about an hour just reloading and flinging myself at towns on the map.

    But I’ve never really been able to get into Morrowind. Say what you like about the voice acting in Oblivion but the actual dialogues were a lot better than the weird encyclopedia discussion from Morrowind. Those blocks of badly written text listing people I don’t, places I haven’t been and dozens of conversation topics I don’t even know about really killed the atmosphere of just wandering in the woods. Then I found the fucking cliff racers and found out how terrible the combat was.

  21. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    I’ve only played Morrowind once, but I also failed to come across this falling wizard. I feel left out.

  22. Devin says:

    Extra-anal alert: Battlespire, like Redguard, is not numbered in the main sequence of Elder Scrolls games. It’s Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion. Redguard, Battlespire, three cell phone games, and a PSP game are not counted.

  23. Serondal says:

    When you leave the starting town you can go east or west to get to Balmora. If you go the west direction you meet the wizard who just falls out of the air. I think west is described as being more dangerous but isn’t all that much harder than going east and it is a lot faster.

  24. Ashurbanipal says:

    The wizard who falls out of the sky has some “Scrolls of Icarian Flight”. And if you know anything about Icarus, you’ll know why he fell.

    Basically it’s a jump spell boosted by something like 1,000. Which means if you want to land with any sort of grace (i.e. not a crumpled heap) you should consider having a featherfall handy.

    As for Redguard and Battlespire, they’re part of the series. Just not the sandbox RPG style series. They’re titled The Elder Scrolls Adventures and The Elder Scrolls Legends respectively. Redguard has to be one of my favourites in the series in that it’s probably the best characterised and fully developed world, with little of the emptiness or repetitiveness of other titles. Morrowind is still my favourite though, just for the allure of the world and depth of the worldbuilding. It always managed to draw me in. You have to dig, though, to find the really fascinating stuff.

  25. Ashurbanipal says:

    (Er. The above implies Icarus fell because he jumped too high. Obviously, I know he didn’t. I just mean the scrolls are aptly named)

  26. Serondal says:

    I’d have to say Oblivion is my favorite by far. Just wondering through the forest always gives you new and interesting stuff to find. I always end up level 20 before I even start the main mission. Then when I get to the part where you have to find all the artifacts to open a portal to such and such I get TOTALLY side tracked and never return to the main story line :P

    I REALLY loved the Shivering Isles expansion. I played it all the way through twice (once for each side) It has some really striking visuals in the middle areas and some very fun quests that were a bit manic and demented. I really liked the one where you had to push the dude to his death but not let him know it was coming :P

  27. Jonathan says:

    What’s up with the horizontal distortion? Are you playing on a super-wide monitor or something?

  28. matte_k says:

    Great stuff Alec, reminds me of why i enjoyed Morrowind so much- a near insane amount of things to find and do. Can’t wait to see what happens to you in the capital, or Sadrith Mora :D

  29. pillxthrills says:

    You just have to find the “ring of slow falling” or something like that and those Icarian spells are awesome!

  30. Serondal says:

    What is this captial city ? Is that part of a mod or something?

    Morrowind did seem to have a lot more character and diversty between the diffrent factions in the game, where as in Oblivion the cities are only slightly diffrent in style.

    I remember my friend got into a brief disagreement with the temple guards in Vivec (he killed one and ran around in its armor with no pants on) which earned him the wrath of ALL the guards FOREVER. it didn’t matter that he gave them all the armor back, or that he had no bounty ect. No matter what he did every time he went to Vivic they chased him around constantly :P

  31. Redford says:

    I spent way too much time messing around in morrowind – my mansion which I stole from some guy in town was full of the fruits of my conquests and thefts of my bow-wielding bunny hopping thief with a backup axe.

    It was perhaps the lack of humanity in the world which made it quite easy for me to steal anything which was not nailed down, and in fact much of the fun I had was seeing exactly how much I could steal from every location in the game without getting in trouble with anyone.

    The end result of this was I had to be VERY careful with the things I used on my person – most of my stolen items were sold ASAP in a different location for money. This is because if you ever got caught by a guard he instantly knew which of your items were stolen and then promptly took all of them and put them into an evidence chest which was nearly impossible to steal from without killing more people. There were a few exceptions to this – there were a few really good items which had to be stolen (like the best light armor piece in the game was locked into a cabinet and HAD to be stolen if you wanted to use it.)

    Also, Camo 100 was forbidden because that was lame, but invis was fair game since it wore off the moment you performed an action.

    If you need some help with the “Rules of what you can steal and get away with it”, drop me a line Alec.

  32. Vinraith says:

    Thanks for this Alec, it brings back the feel of one of my all-time favorite games without my actually having to go back and figure out how to install a properly balanced 50-mod build of the damned thing. I suspect those finding it dull also find Morrowind dull, pay them no mind.

  33. Malefact says:

    I really like the diary format, actually (I don’t think it’s used enough in SSLPs of longer games). Looking forward to your take on some of the later stages of Morrowind, too; there’s certainly lots to see (heck, you could spend *days* just activating the game’s rather long-winded and optional ‘teleport’ system). I think you’re going to find yourself really missing Oblivion’s Fast Map, though.

    @Bhazor: CLIFF RACERS! Damn, I thought I’d managed to put them out of mind forever. Not so. Once about 5 of the damn things followed me into a village and killed nearly everyone. Another time I used the Magical Levitation Pants you get as part of the main quest to climb some mountains, where I got mobbed by more than 10 of them (which had been chasing me across the map). Bloody Cliff Racers.

    I spent *my* first 30 minutes of Morrowind proper running like mad from some creature in the forests, because I couldn’t work out how to take the Silt Strider to the next village. I died an awful lot.

  34. Fat says:

    I was about to ask if Alec had played Morrowind before, as i wasn’t sure if he was actually suprised at things he described as new to him, or if he was just pretending it was all new to him for the sake of the storytelling.

    But then, i read that quite a lot of people don’t seem to have seen the flying (falling) wizard before. Shocker!

    I’m pretty sure it’s the first road leading out of town, to the, err… north? I forget, but put me at the keyboard and i’d remember! :P

    I played through Morrowind so many times without fully completing it (normally due to taking it easy and losing a hard drive to HDDeath or something)… for some reason it makes me want to play OBLIVION again, since i had the same problem with that, except didn’t play it half as much.

    But then again, i didn’t find Oblivion as atmospheric or scary either. But man, i really gotta get Morrowind and the expansions, never got to see a werewolf and only saw a Vampire once, the fright made me kill him in about 3 seconds flat. Then i began to regret it, i wanted to get me some fangs. :(

  35. kalidanthepalidan says:

    Ahhh this took me back. Morrowind was the first open world RPG (actually of any genre) I played. The experience I had playing Morrowind is something I’ve never been able to repeat.

  36. Pie21 says:

    Ah yes, Morrowind. Good times. Took me forever to finish that game (I had a lot in common Redford – you should’ve seen my mansion!), and then once I’d finally won, I saw some other guy beat the entire game in 7:30.

    Needless to say, spoilers.

  37. Serondal says:

    morrowind was a bit of a let down for me having played Daggerfall to death and modded in my own races/quests/ect to that game. There just wasn’t anything in Morrowind compared to Daggerfall. I still liked it once I got over the fact that it was never going to come close to Daggerfall. Oblivion came a bit closer.

  38. Metal_Circus says:

    I reinstalled morrowind, too. And man, it’s still good, but I’m still heartily frustrated by the traveling system and the disarmingly boring nature of the atomosphere. Mind you, though, this has always been bethesda’s falling point. Even Fallout 3 lacks atmosphere in certain areas (although the wastes are brilliantly done to their credit)

    Despite Vvardenfell being an utterly fascinating world, the robotic nature of NPC’s and stunning silence in some areas really drags the atmosphere of the game down. They’re my main niggles with the game, all these years on, the fact that getting around the place is such a bloody chore and the atmosphere being so utterly dreary when the potential for it to be more prominant was right there.

    Sounds like i’m rubishing the game, i’m not, it’s one of my faveourites, but I believe it has aged quite clearly by our current standards. Thank god for mods though.

  39. Jimbo says:

    I only have vague memories of Morrowind at this point, but I seem to recall a sweet opportunity to steal a ton of expensive crystals when one of the mages (at the first guild) comes downstairs to nag you about something or other, leaving her stash completely unguarded.

  40. Serondal says:

    I just said I found it a bit boring but stated it was probably because we were still a bit early in the adventure. After all you even stated morrowind is boring in places. This is true and worst in the very start of the game where there is little to do besides walking every where and doing easy missions. It gets a lot more interesting when you run into some of the crazy quests (like the naked nord guy)

  41. Serondal says:

    I always travelled to the north east part of the island where there is a woman who lies to you about losing a ring in the water. you go find it and when you finally do she trys to mug you. If you kill them you get a nice ring that gives you a bit of camelon for free! Then I go straight to ghost gate and steal a bunch of glass armor, steal the nice soul crystals from the woman in Balmora’s mage guild that enchants stuff for you (the one Jimbo mentioned) and go get Azura’s star so I can spend my riches on enchanting awesome stuff with Golden Saints souls.

  42. superking208 says:

    >robbing the taxman.
    ♪♫ If you take a walk, I’ll tax your fe-
    Stick ‘em up, George.

    Something like that, I hope…

    And I must say, this has been the funniest piece on RPS since Fucking Ludo.

  43. malkav11 says:

    The falling wizard is one of my favoritest moments in Morrowind. I don’t think there’s anything nearly as startling and cool in Oblivion, sadly. (I mean, some of the quests are great – Dark Brotherhood, especially – but those are quests, not random bits of color to the world.)

  44. Serondal says:

    Malkav11 did you ever play Shivering Isles? If so when you attack Sheogorath you get a good surprise lol

  45. The Hammer says:

    Heh. The wizard falling out of the sky has happened to me each time I play Morrowind. It’s such a lovely, and surprising moment, and a nice way into the magic of the game, albeit dubious!

  46. tugboat interlude says:

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    Also:
    Icarian Flight > fast travel

    Fast travel’s got no charm to it, y’know?

    I remember on one playthrough I gave myself about 50 of these (justifying the cheating with the role playiing conceit that the unfortunate wizard had a whole bag full) at the beginning, to alleviate some of the more ridiculous quests:

    NPC: fetch me a widget from the other side of the island
    me: you got it mister
    (4 hrs later)
    NPC: thanks, now go back and fetch me a gizmo from a place 100 ft from the last place
    me: *facepalm*

    It’s possible to survive the flight unassisted – the bonus is to your acrobatics so it also allows you to fall from pretty much any height without takign damage – however it only lasts juuust long enough to jump to a place level(ish) with or higher than your starting place.
    This admittedly is not so apparent sometimes (in my cheaty game I had to burn another one in midair a couple times after miscalculating which is not greatly feasibel if you only have the three)

  47. Vinraith says:

    I always played with the Adventurer’s mod, which gimps the (all too abusable) levitation mechanics. Consequently, my favorite way of getting around was casting level 100 jump spells while under the effects of a 500-ish point feather potion and “Matrixing” my way across the island. This is obviously a mid-late game trick, and I had one of my bracers enchanted with a continuous slowfall effect to avoid any unfortunate splattering.

    So. Much. Fun.

  48. Rinox says:

    Well, I guess I stand (anally) corrected re: the TES series timeline. I mostly remember Battlespire. And not for any good reasons. Having come from Daggerfall to that (excusez-le-mot) piece of shit was quite the bummer.

  49. Nobody Important says:

    I think it was when I found the Wizard that I feel in love with Morrowind forever.

    My disc for the PC version was faulty, and by the time I had a computer that ran it okay-ish the disc was ruined. Blast. (Thank god for torrents, cough cough) For a while I played the Xbox version, which was more relaxing for me.

    Though, those screenies look awesome. I might have to get the PC version just for those.

    Good first post. I look forward to the rest.

  50. Blackberries says:

    Good read, Alec. I look forward to following this.