A Fool In Morrowind, Day 3 – Fort Stupid

I’m going to try and keep these diaries a little shorter. This does mean a) varying hilarity, depending on the situations I’ve genuinely encountered and b) my promised visit to the city is delayed by a day. If it’s any consolation, that entry will involve trying to steal diamonds in front of children.

A note to anyone thinking of building a fort: do not build a fort with easy hillside access. It kind of defeats the point.

Being able to jump onto the battlements of a fort from a gentle nearby slope means said fort is not really a fort. If I ever encounter its architect, I’m totally going to pickpocket him and leave a bunch of bat wings and crab meat in his trousers to teach him a lesson.

I had no particular reason to enter the fort in so brazen a manner, but it was hard to resist the opportunity. So, in I hopped. Inside was a different world from the quiet towns and doting pensioners I’d encountered thus far – industriously patrolling guards, and a veritable enclave of shopkeepers.

Now, I was used to the traders of this land being curiously short on customers outside of myself, but an entire marketplace inside a remote fort seemed especially strange. Hence, I elected to exercise a muscle I’d left fairly unused until now, having previously been fixated upon larceny and slaver-stabbing: my tongue.

Some light conversation revealed a horrifying truth: this was no mere military base. I’d stumbled into a religious cult, obsessed with Empire. Honestly, if you’re going to be a cultist, at least pick something fun.

Also, if you are a cultist, telling anyone who passes that you’re a cultist probably isn’t going to convince them to join you. If ever there was a word with negative connotations… Still, no wonder their architecture was so openly foolish – it was a stealth way to attract new brainwashees. And they’d really worked on their patter. Everyone I spoke to immediately suggested I join, and after a while my initial alarm subsided, replaced by a strange desire to belong. I had no home, no friends, no family. I’d had a surrogate grandmother once, but I’d let her get killed by a bat. Perhaps it would be nice to join these peop… these peo…

No longer engaged in conversation (whilst I gathered my confused thoughts), I finally noticed the tables in front of the cultists. They were laden with goodies – potions, weapons, books, scrolls… The Hunger gripped me. I needed these things; these things were money-in-waiting.

Crouched, I snuck around the cavernous, goodie-filled room, searching desperately for an opportunity. Wherever I went, I was observed. Ack – can’t a guy rob placid churchgoers in peace? Then, I remembered my hitherto ignored starsign. I was born under the Thief, and this granted me a special ability to be used once daily. Invisibility! 60 precious seconds of invisibility!

Now to test quite how stupid these stupid cultist stupids were. I scarpered into a corner, cast my spell, and strode coolly back into the absurd, silent marketplace. The timer was running out fast, but it was time enough for a smash’n’grab operation. A few potions, a book about something boring and, ah yes, a shiny katana. Shiny! Mine! I was just running over to the alchemy apparatus on the adjacent table when I popped back into visible reality, hand poised incriminatingly over an alembic. No matter – I’d be back in 24 hours, once my invisibility had recharged.

Now, though – business time. I immediately strode back to the guy I’d just robbed, and requested a barter. He spurned me, referencing some dodgy herb in my pockets that he’d somehow sniffed out from afar. Apparently cultists don’t “do” “drugs.” Moon Sugar? Pfft. Too valuable to throw away, yet too worthless to sacrifice the sadistic joy of selling this guy’s own sword back to him. Time for crime.

I wandered downstairs, and soon found a barracks, out of sight of the blank-eyed retail crazies upstairs. Once I’d finished robbing the place blind, I lockpicked a chest with the sole intention of then stashing my drugs there.

Upstairs I went again, requested a barter.. and the idiothole only tells me I’ve got something else illegal in my pockets. Downstairs, one bottle of something sinister deposited in the chest, upstairs again, barter… and the trader had miraculously forgotten I was a drug dealer five minutes ago. That’s religious nuts for you – they’re so forgiving. “I have this katana…” He didn’t hesitate for a second, and gladly bought his own property back from me. Yes! I now had money in pocket, a fool-proof scheme to earn more, and I was only a stone’s throw from this land’s capital city.

Ah, Fort Stupid. Brimful of idiot cultists, and now also unknowing home to my burgeoning drug stash. I shall be returning here.


  1. Clockwork Harlequin says:

    Do containers respawn? Could be a nasty surprise if those cultists take all your drugs on the quiet. . .

  2. Kinsley says:

    I think only the containers in caves respawn.

  3. One of those dead Gods says:

    I could’ve sworn the NPCs could tell if you tried selling their stuff to them…

  4. Bret says:

    Hey, maybe the drug stashing will get you a better class of cult.

    I mean, these guys didn’t say “Blood for the Blood god” once! Talk about a lack of devotion to the craft.

  5. Vinraith says:

    Hilarious as this is, I’m a little concerned that if Alec is intent on exploiting the weaknesses of the game (hell, scratch that, if he doesn’t apply some house rules to AVOID exploiting the all-too-abusable mechanics of the game) that this whole thing isn’t going to last very long. The truth is that unless one is interested in role-playing around its weaknesses, a game that’s already quite easy (without any balance, critter addition, or quest mods, all noticably lacking from this build) becomes absurdly so.

    Ah well, it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it, especially since it would never even occur to me to try to play the game this way.

  6. Anon says:

    “I’m going to try and keep these diaries a little shorter.”

    Don’t! The other two were excellent in terms of length. I didn’t lose interest part way through or anything.

    Or was I alone in this?

  7. Pat Pierson says:

    I have been thinking about Morrowind mods.
    You really should get Morrowing Advance. It was primarily done by someone at Bethesada who worked on the official game and after you install it you really cane see that it should have been in the original game instead or being released as an unnoficial plug in.

    Also I would suggest Creatures 10 by pirate lord. It adds more real , lore friendly creatures to fight. Some of them are totally great.

    Loose some of your other creature mods if you need toin order to fit this one in.

    Balmora expanded is pretty good.
    You really should get Brash’s texture more. It is beautiful and perfectly adds to the atmosphere and the fun of playing.

  8. Dreaded Walrus says:

    “I could’ve sworn the NPCs could tell if you tried selling their stuff to them…”

    Yeah, but the katana probably wasn’t tagged as belonging to that shopkeeper, therefore it wasn’t selling his items back to him.

    It’s been a long time since I uninstalled Morrowind though, so I can’t go and check who is set as the owner of the katana.

  9. Scott says:

    Heeeey… doesn’t invisibility deactivate when you pick something up? Chameleon would do what you’re talking about, but The Shadow gives you invis, not chameleon.

  10. Howard says:

    Yeah I’m playing with the same mods as Alec right now and I noticed that one of them allows you to sell stolen items MUCH more easily than vanilla Morrowind. Odd thing to change.
    @Alec: If you character is determined both to go to the capital AND be a dastardly thief, may I suggest killing two birds with one stone?
    While in Vivec nip into the Redoran quarter, pop into the mansion to acquire the Redoran Vault key and then loot the Vault dry (the only people that attack you are the chaps in the Mansion. Once you have the Vault Key you are fee to plunder with impunity).
    Of course a wise cut-purse will have dropped into the upper-waterworks of the Foreign Quarter, bought himself the spells Mark and Recall and left said Mark by “The Creeper” in Caldera, that way he could sell all his ill gotten gains at full whack. =)

  11. FatMat says:

    you’re so evil ! what a shame…

  12. Vinraith says:

    It IS odd that his invisibility didn’t drop the instant he interacted with something, come to think of it. And yes, usually a shopkeeper’s items are marked as such and can’t be sold back if stolen. I wonder if some of those mods are interacting oddly with one another, but he isn’t really running anything that should be affecting these kinds of elements. Weird.

  13. Alec Meer says:

    Hmm. At a guess, I was also in stealth mode, and was out of sight of the shopkeeper when I took the extra couple of things by a fluke. The guys at the alchemist stand swivelled to look at me as I approached, but I had put that down to the invisibility wearing off- presumably they could just see me all along. I must have looked like a right tool, creeping along blatantly towards them.

  14. Howard says:

    Yeah, having now spotted this in Alec’s comments and my game time I’ve had a look through the read-me’s but I cannot see any reason for this. Something is definitely bugged though as I can now trade anything, stolen or not, and pinching things seems to be far easier. For example taking something lying around in a city (in the open or in a jar or box) no longer triggers anything at all. I can just half-inch it and bugger of with nary a reprimand.

  15. Gnarl says:

    Pfft. Real thieves love crustaceans. Creeper only useful as a stone’s throw from Mage teleport.

    This ran through my head even though it’s been at lest 30 years since I played Morrowind.

  16. Tei says:

    hehehehehe….. another great one!

  17. Alex says:

    If Oblivion is anything to go by, most containers that are anywhere other than guild halls and bought houses respawn.

    @Scott: I assume that this was changed after Morrowind as it seems not to be the case here, but certainly is in Oblivion.

  18. Howard says:

    Well sure, the crab has more money but talk about poor location! lol

  19. Vaynes says:

    Containers never repawned when I last played the game. The crates outside of the shops in Balmora ended up full of really high value stuff which i would sell to the shopkeepers when their cash was reset.

    Some stuff I had to practically give away because they didn’t have enough money.

    I’ve got the collection of mods reccomended in this article and am going to re-install soon.

    Anyone know if there are there any issues with the order the mods have to be installed in?

  20. Agamo says:

    From what I remember of Morrowind, locked chests are safe from the blight of respawn.

    I think containers out in the open (ie, not inside buildings) don’t have any owners assigned to them, and are perfectly safe to take from (not so much to store stuff in, though, because the respawn).

  21. Captain Haplo says:

    Ah, the poor Imperial Cult. An accurate name, but a name with so many negative connotations nowdays.

    They would get so many more members if they called themselves the Imperial Cool Kids or something.

    Idly, the Imperial Cult, who do they worship? Just the one ascended Septim fellow? Or do they include all of the Nine in there as well?

  22. aldo_14 says:

    Perhaps they could call it Imperialtology and get some famous heroic person involved.

  23. Hermit says:

    @ Haplo

    The cult worship all the Nine Divines, including Tiber Septim. If I recall, the Imperial Cult is basically like the missionary branch of the churches you find in Cyrodil (In Oblivion). They really do need a better PR Department though.

  24. Hermit says:

    Also (No edit function):
    Deadranetics. By L. Ron Hlaalu

  25. Tei says:

    I use to play with a mod that adds a house that has doors to everywhere (even a door to the mudcrab merchant) and a garden over the celestial door (or whatever is called the barrier fortress with all the niiice cristal armor.
    Yea, I probably like ezMode.

  26. Captain Haplo says:

    It always struck me as odd that the Imperial Cult were in Vvardenfell at all. Or rather, that they were having any success (if they were). The Dunmer don’t really need to go far to point out their gods. They just sort of hang around in asteroids and cities and stuff.

  27. Hermit says:

    But Vvardenfel is an Imperial Province. The cult partly provides services to Imperial citizens in the province who already worship the Nine. But they’re not exactly going to turn down other converts.

    The Empire as a whole seems to be pretty tolerent of other religions, too, which probably helps it. There’s nothing to stop you joining both the Cult and the Dunmer temple, either, so one need not be mutually exclusive. I guess one can never worship too many divine beings in Tamriel. Unless you end up in some sort of Mythic Dawn style cult, I suppose.

  28. Alec Meer says:

    Ew, there’s lore in my comments thread.

  29. Hermit says:

    Least I haven’t resorted to linking to The Imperial Library yet.

  30. CakeAddict says:

    Stealing must be really easy if you can be invisible and interact with things at the same time.
    And yeah just drop the drugs on the ground just make sure there is no Khajit around.

    @ Pat Pierson
    I never get Morrowind Advanced it tends to conflict with several mods I use.
    And I don’t care much about crafting anyway not when you can mostly only craft items you already have.

  31. Simon Jones says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading these. The first installment with the Trouser Incident is my favourite so far, despite it making my giggle like an idiot and nearly spew food over my computer at work, much to the consternation of my colleagues. Please don’t feel the need to truncate the articles for the unwashed masses. :)

    I loved Morrowind. I’m slightly surprised by the “it’s too easy” complaints, though, from people complaining that they “only died once” and the like. If there’s one thing I hate in a roleplaying game, it’s dying. There really is nothing that compares to a good death for destroying the immersion, story and, yes, the actual roleplaying.

  32. Tony says:

    You should read some of the books. I mean, REALLY read.

    Some of them are incredibly fucked up.

  33. Adam says:

    I remember having similar problems with skooma, except I just left all mine on a bridge in Balmora, coming back to pick some up whenever I found a merchant illicit enough to buy some.

  34. Heliocentric says:

    Don’t drink the cool aid.

  35. Captain Haplo says:

    “Got some skooma? Got some skooma buddy? Skooma! Skooooooma!”

    You know, I just kept feeding her addiction. I’m not a good person :(

  36. Paul_M says:

    Hah! “Idiothole” – and thus a new word is born unto the world. I knew it was only a matter of time before I heard this somewhere else. And apologies Alec, if this was your own creation – an example of convergent linguistical evolution if that is the case.


  37. Dr Gonzo says:

    I always used to use the invisibility. you could steal things as long as no one looked. Where you would normally be seen by a shop owner for e.g. you would reappear but they wouldn’t notice that you had stolen anything as long as they weren’t looking directly at you when you reappear. Then sleep 24 hours and back into the shop :D

  38. piphil says:

    I’m personally enjoying these diaries so far. It feels a touch flat however, as I keep on comparing them in style and content to Living in Oblivion (the blog that originally prompted my visit to Tamriel in the first place).

    I don’t feel a lot of empathy towards the character so far; maybe it’s the lack of name, or perhaps the random stabbing of wildlife to apparent comic effect. It could also be that there’s seemingly little aim to this story, other than to tell the story of someone, for the want of a better term “dicking around” with the game world.

    However, I will say that this blog has prompted me to move Morrowind to the top the list of games that I haven’t played before but currently don’t have time to, and I look forward to seeing where this goes.

  39. Xercies says:

    Being a thief is great if you want money in Morrowind, I have so much that I don’t know what to do with it.

    Invisibility is a bit strange, sometimes I won’t be seen but sometimes even if there not looking the people will attack me. I just don’t really get it, am I actually invisible or not.

  40. Owen says:

    These are brilliant Alec. SOMEHOW I’ve never played Morrowind; just slipped me by somehow. Will definitely be giving it a try at some point now.

    9/10 for your diaries so far
    (I docked you a point for no mouse-over image funnies. It’s just not good enough Alec…just not good enough) :)

  41. Seth says:

    @ Alec – but the lore of Morrowind is totally awesome.

    Also, the word “cult” is used in it’s classical positive/neutral connotation, because the Imperials are based on, you know, Romans.

  42. Jonathan says:

    I guess I should have played as a thief. I started the games as a Breton warrior, good old stump-dumb unskilled musclehead. The beginning of Morrowind is brutally tough in that mode.

  43. Serondal says:

    As far as containers go. Being locked has no effect on the container’s respawn. The only thing that has an effect on this is if the container is marked respawn or not in the construction set.

    The best way to find one that is not going to respawn is to find one that has a unqiue quest item in it and use that. They’re not marked respawn. Most other chests in peoples homes ect will respawn sooner or later but it could take 7 or more ingame days for the entire cell to reset. The only way to be perfectly certain is to check in the construction set ;P

  44. WaywardBuddha says:

    Please don’t truncate the posts! I am really enjoying these thus far. I only played Oblivion and not this one. Oblivion was just too crap for me to really stick with it though. Aimless wandering, crap quests, and lousy melee combat just made it not enough fun to see through. I did enjoy the gladiator bits, but even that wore thin after a while.

    I’m looking forward to day 4. This is vastly preferable to me actually having to wade through it.

  45. Joe says:

    I remember really liking the Cult quest line. At first, it’s mostly flower picking for some nebbish alchemist-monk, but eventually you’re on some superb continent hopping, artefact gathering adventures. Plus, you don’t even get proper directions, and have to decipher someone’s prophetic visions before you even know where to go. Ace.

  46. perilisk says:

    I thought Thief gave you permanent sanctuary, and Shadow gave you invisibility 1/day?

  47. Ashbery76 says:

    Better than Oblivion? Nostalgia

  48. Serondal says:

    One thing I valued in Morrowind that was totally lost in Oblivion was the lack of directions in the quests. For example you get a job from the Morag Tong to kill someone and they just tell you “he’s on the east coast near this thing” and then you gotta go find him. No green arrows, NOTHING. However if you look at the map that came with the game you can see a tiny little hut on the east coast and if you go there you’ll find him;) That added a LOT to the game that Oblivion lost. Some call it green arrow syndrome.

    I don’t mind quick travel but I think it should have some kind of negative side effect

  49. Philip says:

    However if you look at the map that came with the game you can see a tiny little hut on the east coast and if you go there you’ll find him;) That added a LOT to the game that Oblivion lost. Some call it green arrow syndrome.

    I’ll agree with that; sometimes Oblivion did feel on rails as a result. Is the green arrow part of Fallout 3? Perhaps Bethesda should credit their players with a little more intelligence?

    (Is not aware of any in-game option to turn off said green arrows; if there is then I partially retract my statement…)

  50. Vinraith says:

    There are mods to remove those idiotic quest arrows, they’re usually the firs thing I install.