Video Game: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind aka: Morrowind
"They have taken you from the Imperial City's prison, first by carriage and now by boat, to the east; to Morrowind. Fear not, for I am watchful. You have been chosen."
Azura, from the introduction
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is the fifth videogame in The Elder Scrolls series by Bethesda Softworks, released in 2002. Like the other games in the "core" series (i.e. the ones with numbers in their names), it is a massive, free-formRPG.This was the first Elder Scrolls game to be released on a console (specifically, the Xbox)—in fact, it was the first major Western RPG to get a Multi-Platform release in a long while. As such, it also marked a major shift in gameplay and design philosophy. Gone were Arena and Daggerfall's nigh-infinite, procedurally generated worlds, replaced with carefully hand-crafted environments that, while smaller than their predecessors, were designed to invoke awe and still be far larger than most video games.Also, the combat system is radically different from the rest of the series, being closer to more traditional RPGs. It is still real-time, but character stats play a far larger role than player skill compared to the rest of the series. This is generally seen as a downgrade, perhaps due to Bethesda's inexperience with designing console games.However, this does not stop Morrowind from being a classic that a large fanbase still plays to this day. Morrowind marked the point where Tamriel ceased to be a standard Medieval European Fantasy setting and became a truly unique Constructed World with highly memorable cultures, history, creatures, landscapes, mythopoea, and characters. Gushing fans will tell you that yes, Morrowind imitates the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, but in a much different way than most fantasy worlds do—by putting the same amount of thought and detail into its universe, rather than just borrowing ideas from The Lord of the Rings.Also, it puts a huge emphasis on the numerous side quests, to the degree where they are pretty much the most important aspect of the game, and are neatly tied into the main story.The plot is set 10 years after the events of Daggerfall, on the far eastern frontier of the Tamrielic Empire. The player character is a convict and an orphan in the Imperial City Dungeons. For unknown reasons, The Emperor Uriel Septim VII personally orders that you be released early on the condition that you be shipped to the backwater province of Morrowind (more specifically, the even more backwater district of Vvardenfell) and meet with an agent of his named Caius Cosades. However, upon being released, you are perfectly free to say "screw that" and explore Vvardenfell at your own pace. If you choose to accept the mission given to you, however, you are launched into a labyrinthine plot involving an Ancient Conspiracy, prophecies, lost prophecies, false prophecies, reincarnation, gods, backroom politics, gang wars, The Corruption, and lots and lots of walking. Seriously, you spend a good half of the game just walking around. Not that it isn't a pleasant and interesting walk.Two expansion packs were later released for PC: Tribunal has you visit Morrowind Province's capital city of Mournhold to investigate an assassination plot against you. It's noticeably more challenging than the original game, and intended for mid-to-high level characters. Unfortunately, it is not a Wide Open Sandbox like the rest of the game, as you are restricted to only one part of the stated-to-be massive city and the sewers/ruins beneath it. The new antagonist also turns out to have a very petty excuse for their Evil Plan, while the protagonist has to suffer some strange lapses in judgementin order for the plot to proceed.The second expansion, Bloodmoon, is generally considered far better. Set in a frozen tundra with a refreshingly different atmosphere than the main game, it returns to the Wide Open Sandbox formula. There are effectively two main quests to follow in Bloodmoon. The first begins when the player signs on to help an Imperial Legion captain with some odd jobs around his fort, which expands into a simple-but-dramatic plot about rescuing him from the Most Dangerous Game — by taking part in it yourself. Also, werewolves are involved. The second involves helping the new Imperial mining colony of Raven Rock grow from absolutely nothing into a flourishing frontier settlement, with plenty of somewhat interesting moral dilemmas along the way.
This video game provides examples of:
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Abandoned Mine: There are a number of them throughout Vvardenfell. Many kwama egg mines had to be abandoned when the resident kwama colony became blighted and turned hostile. There are also some ebony and glass mines that had to be abandoned for various reasons. One in particular, the Vassir-Didanat ebony mine, was abandoned so long ago that its location is lost. You can find it and report its location to one of three Hlaalu councilors, each of whom will give you a different reward... although you'll probably find this out entirely by chance.)
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Vivec and Mournhold each have them. Justified in both cases, as Vivec is a City of Canals, the sewers act as flood controls for the cantons and the extra space is needed. Mournhold's sewers are actually parts of Old Mournhold, which was destroyed long ago and the new city built on top of it.
Affably Evil - One of Dagoth Ur's highest-ranking goons will exchange a pleasant conversation with you and offer you some fine vintage brandy before offering to let you strike first. Also, Dagoth Ur is rather polite right up until you try to kill him.
The Ageless: Those suffering from the corprus disease effectively stop aging and are immune to all other diseases. They do slowly turn into a deformed humanoid monstrosity, however. Thanks to Divayth Fyr's "cure" for the disease, the Nerevarine retains these positive effects while only the negative effects are removed, leaving him/her as this.
Alien Sky: Two moons with (technically) impossible phases that are actually the rotting remains of the creator god? Check. "Stars" that are actually holes punctured in reality by escaping spirits of the creation era through which magic flows? Check.
All Myths Are True - But there are many different variations of them, so good luck figuring out exactly what parts are true.
Alt Itis: Unsurprisingly common with all of the character creation options available. Creating one character capable of completing everything in the game is quite challenging, so expect to see players with multiple save files. This trend is usually called "Restartitus" on the official forums.
Always Chaotic Evil - Played with In-Universe when it comes to Vampires. The Tribunal Temple's stance is that because it is easy to tell when you are becoming one and the condition is very easily cured within the first three days of the transformation, the only people who allow themselves to become night-stalking parasites are people who are alreadyChaotic Evil. Therefore, the policy of killing all vampires on site is Justified to them. As Galur Rithari's Papers (not to speak of a few incidents in later games) indicate, it's not always that simple...
Always Check Behind the Chair - There are a lot of items tucked in nooks and crannies all over the game. In the starting village you can find a (minor) enchanted axe hidden in a hollow tree stump, and it goes on from there. In addition to treestump and hollow log stashes all over the island, you can pick up a Sword of White Woe tucked under a bunkbed, the legendary Fists of Randagulf (the best gauntlets in the game) shoved behind a sarcophagus, an enchanted tanto that the last guest at a particular inn tucked behind the bed, coins that have rolled into the cracks of a shack floor, a magic ring underneath a mushroom in a cave, skill-boosting books hidden on a shelf lined with regular books, five One-Hit Kill arrows tucked in another treestump in the Bloodmoon expansion - not to mention various 'teleport gate' keys that can be found dotted around the world as paperweights. And people tend to misplace their keys a lot, too.
Amazon Brigade: All of the guards, retainers, shopkeepers, and other service providers in Tel Mora, home of the man-hating Telvanni councilor Mistress Dratha, are female. There is one lone male Telvanni guard patrolling the grounds, but this is likely a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as there needed to be at least one guard in the town capable of arresting the player if he/she commits a crime there. (The female guards are named and thus, not standard town guards.)
Each time you raise a rank in the Imperial Legion, you will be rewarded with a new piece of Imperial armor. Pieces of armor are given to you for a variety of other quests as well.
As you are named Nerevarine and Hortator of the Ashlander tribes and Great Houses, you will be given an article of clothing or jewelry as proof of your recognition.
After Caius is recalled to the Imperial City, he will give you a set of enchanted clothing.
During a couple particular Imperial Cult quests, presenting specific prisoners with Divine Intervention scrolls to aid in their escape will lead to them offering you enchanted clothing in return.
Rescuing Inwold in Palansour, who was imprisoned when by his summoned Daedra when he lost control of them, will provide you with the skirt and hat they left him as a reward. (Allowing him to preserve his modesty by telling him to keep the clothing will result in a much more valuable Reputation point.)
Anti-Hero - Larrius Varro of the Imperial Legion used to be a straight up law abiding legionnaire. Unfortunately, since the long arm of the law doesn't seem to reach certain criminals, he spends his days praying for a little bloodbath to wash away the bad people.
In a more general sense, many missions given the player by certain guilds or extensions of joinable organization (like the Office of the Watch in Vivec) will hire the player to do a little vigilante justice, and in almost all cases they admit they'd like to have the actual authorities do the job, but since that isn't working (usually because the target has friends in high places), you'll be serving as their indirect extension of authority.
Anyone Can Die - Because you can kill them if you want to and are strong/clever enough. Okay, so Daedra can't die, but they can get the crap beaten out of them and be sent back to their plane of Oblivion.
A number of the special weapons you can garner though temple, imperial cult, imperial legion and daedric prince quests also count considering we're often talking weapons created by the hands of gods.
Artifact Title - The Elder Scrolls are only mentioned once (not counting lore), as the impetus for the Emperor sending you to serve as the Nerevarine.
Artificial Atmospheric Actions: People appear to be programmed to say certain things depending on a couple conditions. If you're sick, they'll say "eeeew get away from me" or tell you to go to a healer. This sometimes is funny when the healer tells you this. But if you talk to them, they'll ignore that you happen to have some kind of ailment. Civilians don't stand in one place, thankfully, but instead they just aimlessly wander around the towns 24/7, sometimes getting stuck trying to walk through each other. They also sometimes don't react to monsters - which can be quite funny when they just stand there as an Ash Zombie had crawled into your house.
And sometimes, the "greetings" will cause them to break character. Such as the stuck-up-holier-than-thou Mage's Guild leader not talking down to you. Or Caius saying "Pleasure to meet you" after he's given you at least four quests.
This can even be useful: there are a couple of situations where you want to kill someone, but their standard greeting drops you out of the conversation with a goodbye, keeping you from taunting them to attack you first. The thing is, the 'why are you naked' subroutine usually supersedes that greeting...
The scripting errors can be hilarious. Especially when guards get stuck trying to walk over unconscious bodies. Or tell you to move along when a dark elf is trying to punch your lights out, but then shout "You n'wah!" if you fight back. Or fail to react at all and stand there staring while you duke it out.
Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: This is apparently what most of the dwarven race tried to do. It's never revealed if they were successful, because if they were, they are all on said higher plane of existence, and if not, they're all dead. Whatever happened, it even affected Dwemer colonies on the other side of Tamriel with absolutely no connection to the project though it did leave one dwarf alive and in a position to return to Nirn.
Careful reading of the various in-game sources on the matter, and conversing with the experts in the field (including Vivec, one of the three deities of the Tribunal), will likely lead to the hypothesis that they tried to unmake themselves down to basic elements and then become reforged into new, ascended beings. Unfortunately, they didn't get the reforging process right, and so they were instead deleted from existence. Of course, whether even this theory is true or not is entirely unknown...
Later in Skyrim, one mage tries to reproduce the Dwarven experiment in a smaller scale, substituting a modified soul gem for the Heart of Lorkhan and using the original, but severely depowered Keening. He vanishes, but can be summoned from somewhere as a ghost. Can this count as ascension to a higher plane? Your mileage may vary, but many people would think it's a pretty rotten existence.
Asskicking Equals Authority: House Telvanni allows you to kill your way to the top if you desire, due to their near-total lack of rules. In particular, during your quest to become Telvanni Hortator, you can kill all the councilors (except one, whom you must keep around to officially name you Hortator and progress the quest) in lieu of winning their support. The one you must keep alive, wisely, gives you his vote with no strings attached. It helps that one of their guiding principles is Might Makes Right (every House in the game has an 'in' that explains how you can rise so high despite being an outlander. The Telvanni's is the fact that they think might makes right, and you are very mighty indeed).
As You Know: Justified since, as an outlander, the Player Character isn't going to be any more aware of the local Dunmer politics and religion than the player in the real world. Even the non-natives living in Morrowind can be ignorant of such things, since a common response to asking a non-Dunmer about the Nerevarine Prophecy is "some Dark Elf superstition." So as the character learns more about these things, so does the player. (This applies to a Dunmer player character as well, since they were born and raised outside of Morrowind).
Autosave: The game has this, but you can turn it off.
Awesome, but Impractical - The Hammer of Stendarr in the Tribunal expansion is a MASSIVE war hammer that does insanely high damage, but breaks on the first swing and weighs half a ton, rendering it nigh-unusable.
Vampirism. It gives you some extra powers and some massive stat boosts that can break the stat caps...but sunlight will kill you, you can no longer use any shops or services in Vvardenfell, and you can only complete quests for House Telvanni, the Mages' Guild, and one of three well-hidden vampire clans.
Lycanthropy. You turn into a werewolf and get massive boosts to your killing power, and can murder anyone without acquiring a bounty. Unfortunately, you can't use any equipment, cast any spells, or pick up any items while you're a beast. And if an NPC sees you transform, then you're marked as "kill on sight" by everyone.
Badass Army - The Imperial Legion is legitimately tough, having brought the entire continent of Tamriel under their rule. However, even they collectively admit their respect for Great House Redoran in this regard for the Redoran's emphasis on being able to fight and defend Morrowind. Redoran isn't called the "Warrior House" for nothing. In the backstory, when Tiber Septim was threatening to invade Morrowind, House Redoran was preparing to defend Morrowind on their own while the other Great Houses chose to remain neutral or to accommodate the empire before the armistice was signed.
Later, House Redoran is destroyed during the Oblivion crisis, but not before reanimating the dead Emperor Crab known as "Skar" and fighting the hordes of Oblivion to a standstill. (By the time of Dragonborn, they've managed to make a comeback.)
Buoyant Armigers: Elite stealth fighters dedicated to serving Vivec himself, half of them decked in the ludicrously expensive glass armor, operating inside the Ghostfence and Molag Amur.
Beam Spam: Enchant an item with a damaging spell "On Target." Set the item to "Cast on Use." Equip the newly enchanted item and select it from the magic menu. Congrats! You now have what some fans refer to as a "magic machine gun." Unlike casting a regular spell which costs magicka and requires time for a casting animation, you can launch your enchanted attack as fast as you can click the mouse/button. Just be careful of using it on enemies with reflect...
Beat Still, My Heart: The heart of the dead creator god, Lorkhan, is still beating away deep beneath Red Mountain. In order to defeat Dagoth Ur, you will need to destroy it.
Becoming the Mask: Initially, your mission is to take advantage of the fact that you happen to fit certain local superstitions to pretend to be the Nerevarine so you can advance imperial interests. Ultimately, of course, you fulfill the prophecies in their entirety, though it's still uncertain how true they really were.
Beneficial Disease: The Corprus disease grants the victims immunity to all other diseases and even prevents them from aging. Too bad it also comes with a big serving of Body Horror and a bad case of crazy, and is completely incurable. However, as the Nerevarine, you undertake an experimental treatment that suppresses the negative symptoms of Corprus only, leaving you as The Ageless and immune to all other diseases.
Beware the Nice Ones: Divayth Fyr. Yes, the kindly old wizard who cures you (sort of) of Corprus. Once you can get his attention, he is generous and kind. Which, considering that he's House Telvanni, should probably be a warning flag all by itself.) He lived to see his 4000th birthday in a House where Klingon Promotion is pretty much a standard. Think twice before you anger him.
BFS - While most weapons have fairly realistic sizes (making them look tiny compared to other games) the atypically huge Chrysamere ("The Paladin's Blade") looks like someone took a good length of railroad track and attached a handle. It fells most opponents with a single blow.
Big Bad - Dagoth Ur in the main game. Almalexia in Tribunal. Hircine in Bloodmoon.
The House Redoran seat in Ald'Ruhn is situated in Under-Skar, the hollowed-out exoskeleton of a humongous sentient crab known as Skar.
The wizards of House Telvanni don't care much for actually building structures. Instead, they grow them out of giant mushrooms whose growth is facilitated by the trapped souls of powerful Daedra.
The Ministry of Truth, which is literally a hollowed-out giant rock that a Daedric prince threw down from Oblivion onto the city of Vivec, stopped in its tracks several hundred feet over the largest and holiest temple in Vvardenfell.
Body Horror - Corprus disease turns most people into mindless zombies and Sixth House descendants into "Sleepers", which evolve through several stages to eventually become Ascended Sleepers. Neither path is pretty.
Bonus Boss - The Anyone Can Die nature of the games means you could naturally fight and kill anyone you wish. But a special mention goes out to Vivec. You are by no means required to fight him, and doing so before completing the main quest will make the normal method of beating the game impossible, but if you choose to do so, you'll have quite the fight on your hands. Bonus irony points if you soul trap him in Azura's Star.
The Ash Vampires as well. You are only required to fight one in order to get an item (Sunder) off of him, but there are 6 others you can hunt down and kill. Killing them is supposed to weaken Dagoth Ur in the final confrontation, but due to a scripting glitch, this does not happen. Still, they each possess unique enchanted items that are Lost Forever if you don't fight them, and you should kill them if you're going for 100% Completion.
Booze-Based Buff: Most of the game's liquors boost at least one of your attributes with the cheaper ones also draining another. Special shout out to Sujamma, the most useful of them. Sujamma massively boosts strength while draining Intelligence, and the effects stack. It's really helpful if you need titanic strength for a short time and don't mind the penalty to your spell casting abilities.
The Dwemer Jinkblade sold by Wayn in Balmora. He will have it for sale the moment you arrive in Balmora, regardless of your level, and it only costs a few hundred gold. While there are harder hitting weapons with flashier enchantments around, the Jinkblade's practicality comes from it's Paralyze enchantment. Simply strike an enemy with it once to paralyze them and then switch to your stronger weapon to kill them while they're unable to fight back. To a character specializing in the Short Blade skill, it even borders on Disc One Nuke.
The game does have elements of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards to it, but the frequency of Reflect spells amongst higher leveled enemies (especially in the expansions) means that the ability to defeat enemies by simply striking them with your weapons remains practical throughout.
Drain Health weapons (especially ones with a small area effect, so you regenerate health faster when facing more enemies.) Swing your weapon repeatedly. Ignore everything the enemy tries to do to you, because you'll just regenerate it back.
Care Bear Stare - The Charm and Fortify Personality spells can make nearly every NPC in the game smitten with you.
Challenging the Chief - Several factions require you to defeat the current leader in order to take their place, including the Fighters' Guild, the Mages' Guild, and Houses Redoran and Telvanni. (In the case of the Telvanni, it's more of a Klingon Promotion.) (There is a peaceful way to become head of the Mages' Guild, but it is both harder to find out and leaves you co-head of the Guild along with an idiot, rather than sole head.)
Interestingly, the Morag Tonginverts this trope. "Challenging the chief" is, per their rules, the standard way to become the leader. However, the current leader is perfectly fine stepping aside when it's time for you to take the reigns.
Cherry Tapping - Actually encouraged due to the game's skill increase system in order to level up your weapon skills. Every successful hit, regardless of how much damage it does, counts the same towards increasing that skill. Stabbing something 100 times with the Fork of Horripilation will lead to a greater increase of your short blade skill than one-shotting that same foe with a Daedric dagger. Inversely, this works on you to level up your armor skills. Simply deck yourself out in a full suit of armor, find a rat, and allow said rat to cherry tap YOU. Each hit will count towards increasing the armor skill for the type of armor you are wearing.
The Chessmaster - Azura might be this. If she is, the fact that we are not sure of it is surely testament to her skill.
The Chosen One - The Nerevarine (you) is the chosen one by nature of being the reincarnation of Nerevar. There is strong evidence that the player is not Lord Nerevar reborn, but merely a convenient pawn Azura is using in her revenge plot; even Vivec admits such is possible. When Dagoth Ur asks whether you're the Nerevarine, you have the options, among others, of saying "Yes" or "I don't know". He accepts either and praises you for saying "no, but I'm still going to kick your ass".
Church Militant: Ordinators and High Ordinators are the main militant force for the Tribunal Temple. Buoyant Armigers are the Temple's elite special forces who operate primarily within the Ghostfence.
The Imperial Cult has the "Shrine Sergeants," volunteers who take on some of the Cult's more action-oriented missions such as tracking down thieves who steal from the Cult or putting spirits responsible for hauntings to rest.
City Guards: Naturally. Hlaalu, Redoran, and Telvanni guards each patrol the towns and villages under their faction's authority. Ordinators patrol Tribunal Temple holdings. Imperial Guards patrol the Imperial settlements. Mournhold is patrolled by High Ordinators and King Helseth's Royal Guards. The Skaal village has Skaal Honor Guards.
City of Adventure - Mournhold, city of light, city of magic! Vivec applies as well, to a lesser extent.
City of Canals - Vivec. Even comes complete with gondoliers to ferry you around.
Collection Sidequest: The Threads of the Webspinner quest for the Morag Tong. Finding all of the propylon indexes is an unofficial one, though you can turn them in for a "master index" in an official add-on.
Corrupt Church - The Tribunal Temple, despite its dubious origins, used to be an undeniable force for good. These days? Not so much.
Curiously, in the early days when the Tribunal gods consistently lived and worked among their people, it was much better. Since they retreated into their own seclusion thanks to no longer being able to replenish their divine power with the Heart of Lorkhan and instead having to conserve their power (by the time of the player's arrival, Vivec has been maintaining the entire Ghostfence on his own for centuries) to protect Tamriel from Dagoth Ur. It was only after mortals took over the running of things that everything started to go to hell.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Several members of House Hlaalu in the main game, and Carnius Magius of the East Empire Company in Bloodmoon.
Crazy-Prepared - You had better be if you hope to survive for long. Keep a few "Cure Disease" potions on hand (at least until a certain point in the main quest) because you never know when you might stumble into a den of vampires. And if you're going somewhere that might have Greater Bonewalkers, something to restore your Strength attribute will help. (They have a nasty tendency to damage your attributes with a spell. This is a mere annoyance for most of your attributes, but having your Strength damaged could leave you an overencumbered sitting duck in the middle of a fight.) A few scrolls of Almsivi or Divine Intervention are also a must in order to get out of a sticky situation or for transporting more loot than you could otherwise carry.
Creepypasta: The "jvk1166z.esp" mod. A supposedly legit copy of "jvk1166z.esp" turned up on the Bethesda mod forums and was uploaded to a modding site, but was quickly debunked.
Dead Character Walking: A particular glitch (substituting a torch or lockpick for a weapon in mid-swing) has the unusual effect of reducing the target to 1 hp but making them immune to all further damage.
Deadpan Snarker: In The Horror of Castle Xyr, which you actually have a chance to perform in the Tribunal expansion:
Anara:Please, serjo, go wherever you want. We got nothing to hide. We're loyal Imperial subjects.
Dem Bones: Unsurprisingly, skeletons of varying strengths are favored creations of necromancers, and can be found patrolling many ruins and caves. Bonewalkers are another, but are still rather fleshy.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Normally, if you kill a leader of a Great House, you will offend all of them, making it impossible to be named Hortator of that house and breaking the most straightforward way to finish the main plot. However, House Telvanni practices Klingon Promotion, which means that if you are a member of the house, then kill all the other leaders, you will not be expelled; instead, the game gives you a journal entry in which you dryly note that as the last surviving chancellor of House Telvanni, you have appointed yourself Telvanni Hortator.
Disc One Final Dungeon - Ilunibi has shades of this. It's a vast, sprawling underground dungeon where you will likely face the strongest enemies you have encountered to that point (if you've stuck to the main quest.) It even has its own Disc One Final Boss who gives you the corprus disease and sets the next part of the main quest in motion.
Disc One Nuke - The combination of Wide Open Sandbox and Always Check Behind the Chair means that a player who already knows where the powerful items are can, in many cases, equip themselves with upper-end gear at little or no risk. In a few cases a (cheap) Levitate potion, a nearby key, or a decent Security skill are needed, but little else.
In a few cases an upper-end item is owned by a relatively weak and non-hostile NPC - if you know who to murder, you can get unique and powerful items. The Amulet of Shadows makes you nearly invisible for a decent amount of time and is found on a lone archer in the wilderness. The Masque of Clavicus Vile makes everybody like you (in addition to being fine head protection) and can be found on a relatively low-level wizard if you can slip past his guards.
A character straight off the boat can acquire a very good weapon of whatever type he or she favors by setting foot, however briefly, in the Vassir-Didanat Mine (see Abandoned Mine) and then tracking down Hlaalu councilor Dram Bero. He will reward you with your choice in Daedric weaponry. The only true obstacle is the locked door that must be picked (or opened by a spell) to get to Bero.
Due to a design decision to let buyers of the expansion set start the new content immediately, Dark Brotherhood assassins added by the Tribunal expansion may show up at any time to kill you in your sleep. This can even happen to brand new starting character. If you manage to defeat one (tricky, but possible for a starting character, because they scale according to your level) you can loot the corpse for an excellent set of light armor and a useful short blade. If you aren't using light armor, the gear is also worth several hundred gold (more useful, in some ways, than the best stuff because it's easier to find a merchant who can afford it.)
Disproportionate Retribution - Unlike regular crimes (see Easily Forgiven), there are ways to get all the Ordinators howling for your blood forever. The first is to mention the Nerevarine Prophecy to them - that makes you a heretic. The other is to be wearing the armor of their Order, which is sacrilege to them.
Does Not Like Men: Telvanni Councilor Mistress Dratha. Exactly why she hates men is never explained, but it is her defining trait nonetheless. Her town of Tel Mora is staffed entirely by female retainers and merchants and completing the main quest as a male Nerevarine requires you to either beg at her feet for her support or kill her. (She'll support a female Nerevarine with no questions asked and even gives her several powerful summoning scrolls.)
Downer Ending - As Oblivion and tie-in novels reveal, as a result of the player's actions the Tribunal are missing, the Ministry of Truth lost its power source and resumed its interrupted crash onto Vivec City, and that impact caused Red Mountain to erupt, destroying most of Vvardenfell. Then the Argonians came in and what few Dunmer couldn't flee were slain.But on the bright side, thanks to the Nerevarine, the world isn't a Blighted landscape ruled by an insane Physical God riding a Humongous Mecha. You may not have saved Morrowind but you did save the rest of the world.
Dummied Out: Naturally, there are a few things that had to be left out with a game this large.
The Blight was originally going to be an expanding threat over time, but had to be left out due to technological limitations
Dagoth Ur and the Sixth House were originally joinable by the player. This had to be left out due to time restrictions.
Exploration of the Construction Set files reveals several quests that were cut from the game with no real explanation.
Hrundi of the Fighter's Guild had a quest for the player to eliminate a lesser Dagoth that didn't make it into the final game.
An early Imperial Legion quest has the player rescuing an Orc tax collector from a reclusive Telvanni mage. Another quest was going to have the player actually collect the taxes.
Another Legion quest has you searching for a specific set of Dwemer blueprints, but was removed.
Two quests, one for House Telvanni and one for the Morag Tong, sent the player to "forcefully retire" Master Neloth. Perhaps they already knew that Neloth would be appearing in a later game in the series?
One Thieves Guild quest had the player stealing a mission report from the Ordinators, but was removed.
In true Bethesda fashion, there is a quest which was only partly removed, potentially causing issues: There was going to be a Legion quest to acquire the plans to Anumidium. The dialogue to acquire the quest is properly blocked off, and the journal entries can't trigger... but the completion of the quest is only partly removed, so if you bring the plans to the general who would have given you the mission and speak to him about Anumidium you block off the rest of his quests.
There are several items and objects in the game that seem like they should have a purpose, but do not. Many were likely intended for use in a quest that never made it into the game. For example:
There is an alchemy ingredient called "bloat," which can be purchased from merchants or found in random crates. Where bloat comes from is never explained in-game—-but the level editor reveals an unused "bloat spore" plant that was supposed to produce them, but was never placed in-game. Several mods out there deal with this, ranging from placing them in several swampy areas to working them into a House Telvanni quest line as being in a bloat mine.
You can find a fountain called the "Pool of Forgetfulness." Players have frustratedly tried to get it to do something, but it apparently does nothing. Perhaps the developers simply forgot about it?
To defeat the Dagoth Ur, players need two special weapons called Sunder and Keening, which are being guarded by the Dagoth Ur's higher-ranked minions. The data files of the game reveal a phony look-alike of Sunder, and a voice file for the Dagoth Ur taunting you when you try to kill him with it. These were never included in-game.
"The Wings of the Queen of Bats", Morrowind's Infinity Plus One Axe, isn't actually in the game, but can be obtained through cheat codes or modding the game.
Morrowind also has a version of Azura's Star that can be used as a shuriken, but the final game replaces it with a Soul Gem.
There is a faction in the game files called "Imperial Knights", complete with full rank progression (this isn't actually necessary for a faction to have) and relations to other factions. What it doesn't have is any members or ways of joining it.
Early-Bird Cameo: Solstheim in the Bloodmoon expansion is essentially a cameo for Skyrim two games in the future. It's snowy, full of Nords, werewolves, spriggans and mead, all things that show up in Skyrim prominently. (Solstheim itself then shows up again as the setting for the Dragonborn expansion to Skyrim.)
In a subtler example, there are no trolls in Morrowind... but there is trollbone armor, and the helmets (which is a skull) have three eye-sockets, just as trolls had from Oblivion onward.
Early Game Hell: Character progression is largely lopsided, with little middle ground between "schmuck" and "god".
Easing Into the Adventure: Probably the best example out of the series, since it is the only one without a true starter/tutorial dungeon you must escape. You simply get off a boat, pick your name, race, class, and birthsign, then get released into a very easy-going starting village. Even the quests you can pick up there and the nearby enemies are extremely easy. Once you leave that town, however...
Minor crimes result in the guards demanding that you pay on the spot. More serious stuff may have you living on the run until you can find somebody (often Thieves' Guild) who can, for a substantial fee, make your wanted status 'go away'. But once it does, it never crosses anybody's mind that you might go out and commit more crimes.
In the rare event that you are expelled from House Telvanni, rejoining is as simple as talking to a Mouth and asking to be reinstated. Given that the Telvanni have practically no rules to break, even getting expelled in the first place is a challenge.
The Emperor: A benevolent one is described but not shown, since the game takes place far from the Imperial City.
Epic Fail: The sorcerer Inwold was hired by some smugglers operating out of Palansour to summon Daedra to use as muscle. However, his Ogrim and Scamps got out of control, killed all of the smugglers, and left Inwold imprisoned in nothing but a skirt and a hat (which he offers you for freeing him.)
Escort Mission: Quite a few. The combined Artificial Stupidity and Suicidal Overconfidence of your followers will drive you crazy. You'll be thankful when you have the ability to tell the follower to "wait here" while you run ahead and clear out the path ahead, but that isn't always an option...
Eternal Engine: The Steampunk machinery in Dwemer ruins is still running some 4000 years after their disappearance. (Justified, as they were known to tinker with the laws of time in order to preserve their creations for a long, long time.)
Eternal English: In the Cavern of the Incarnate, the player will encounter the ghosts of the "failed incarnates," who thought that they were the Nerevarine but were killed before they could fulfill the prophecy. They are each Dunmer from different time periods, yet the player is able to communicate with them all without issue.
Everyone Is Bi: When using the Admire option in conversation, your part of the dialogue is never seen, but the NPC's responses are, and more often than not they seem to be a response to a pick-up line or a suggestion.
Everything Is Trying to Kill You: The main game isn't too bad with this, as there are at least some enemies that are non-hostile unless you attack them and deadly terrain features (steep falls, lava pits, etc.) are generally easy to avoid. However, Bloodmoon cranks this way up. You can't travel one map square without facing a pack of 8 wolves, 2 plague bears, a snow bear, 2 Fryse Hags, a Berserker... And due to the nature of the East Empire Company quests only becoming available every couple of days, the local wildlife WILL respawn as you wait.
Evil Counterpart: The Camonna Tong to the Thieves Guild. The Dark Brotherhood to the Morag Tong. House Telvanni is regarded as this in comparison to the Mages Guild by most Imperial factions.
Eviler than Thou: The Dark Brotherhood versus the Morag Tong. Both are Murder, Inc., but the Morag Tong is government contracted and has a strict code of ethics, while the Dark Brotherhood is comprised of Ax-Crazy criminals who practice a Religion of Evil. Ditto, to a lesser degree, for the Thieves Guild and the Camonna Tong: the former has a strict code of ethics as well and favors clean, stealthy burglary and smooth talking, while the latter is made of xenophobic thugs who just kill and plunder.
Exponential Potential: There are over 100 obtainable spells in the game which use or combine over 100 spell effects all broken down into 6 schools of magic. Get into customized spells, Alchemy, and Enchantment and number of magical possibilities becomes near-infinite.
Extreme Omnivore: The player can eat things such as leprous meat, diamonds, poisonous mushrooms, raw hearts, human flesh, ashes of burned vampires, and animal hides, with varying effects. If you aren't going to carry it with you, you might as well, since partaking makes you better at alchemy on the premise that experiencing their alchemical properties will increase your knowledge on their effects. Particularly jarring with Dwemer scrap metal and ebony ore, since we're talking about wolfing down ten pounds of metal or twenty pounds of rock.
Face Death with Dignity: A House Redoran quest has you convincing another member of the house to do this via a duel to the death in the arena. He will almost certainly die (unless you aid him from a distance.)
Fame Gate: More like a Fame Bypass/Backdoor: Normally, you need to visit all Great House nobles and Ashlander chiefs to convince them that you are The Messiah, and only then will the Corrupt Church listen to your claims. But if you are already famous enough, the archcanon will listen to you anyway, and you can skip that tedious quest.
Hackle-Lo Leaf shares some similarities with tobacco and Coca leaves. It is chewed by the natives for a boost of energy, and can be chewed by the player (or brewed into a potion) to restore Fatigue.
Fantastic Honorifics: A slight variation on the gender-neutral "ser" version: The Dunmer use "sera", "muthsera" and "serjo", in increasing order of politeness.
Fantastic Racism: Being an Outlander in Morrowind is a bad thing, there are multiple words for it, N'wah and Swit are just two slurs used. You will also occasionally be insulted for your race in a fashion befitting what form of human, lizard, cat, elf you are. Even if you're a Dark Elf you won't be liked because you're not a native.
That last one has a bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation to it. While you are told that this is the case, playing as a Dunmer will still get you the standard +10 disposition increase with members of the same race even if they are native Dunmer.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture - Imperials are the Romans, Nords are Vikings, and the Dark Elves bear an extremely strong resemblance to the biblical Israelites/Jews, starting with the Abraham/Moses hybrid Veloth and all the way down to the Nerevarine/Messiah prophecies producing lots of wannabes during an occupation by a powerful foreign empire.
Fast-Forward Mechanic: The wait and rest features. Waiting can be done anywhere that enemies are not present, but does not restore your health or magicka, nor allow you to level up. Resting must be done in a bed or in the wilderness, but will restore your health/magicka and must be done in order to level up.
Fate Worse than Death: What the Tribunal Temple considers Vampirism, regardless of what the Vampire him/herself may think. It's why they consider death as the only "cure" for the disease.
The non-Sixth House victims of the Corprus disease. In essence, it combines the effects of leprosy, cancer, and dementia. The two "positive" effects of the disease are that you stop aging and become immune to all other diseases. Combine these, and your only hope for relief once the disease has advanced is to be killed mercifully.
Fetch Quest: About half the quests in the game it would seem. Some are easy ("Go down the street and purchase a ceramic bowl") while others are a bit more challenging ("Acquire the Infinity–1 Sword from a hostile, high-level mage.")The game will even invert this on occasion by having you deliver an item or supplies to a remote location instead.
Fighter, Mage, Thief: The Fighters' Guild, Mages' Guild, and Thieves' Guild are Exactly What They Say On The Tin; the three Great Houses each represent a different archetype: Redoran (Fighter), Telvanni (Mage) and Hlaalu (Thief), and even the three vampire clans represent a different archetype: Quarra (Fighter), Aundae (Mage) and Berne (Thief). This can cause a degree of Gameplay and Story Segregation, especially for magic-oriented characters: from a gameplay perspective, it makes sense to join the Guild/House/Clan that match your character's skills, but in-story many of the factions are opposed to each other (House Telvanni and the Mages' Guild have something of a cold war situation going on, even though you can become head of both at the same time).
This is also present in the three members of the Tribunal. Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec fit the Fighter, Mage, and Thief archetypes, respectively.
First Town: Seyda Neen is the town where the player starts, gets initial quests, and acquires his/her first set of equipment. However, Balmora (the second town visited if following the main quest) fits the "central location" part of the trope as there is far more to do there and many reasons to keep coming back to it.
Five-Man Band - During the war between the Chimer and the Dwemer, we had this on the Chimer side:
Flat Character: Most of the hundreds of NPCs don't do much but walk back-and-forth (and some not even that) all day and dispense already-known exposition and rumors when spoken to. Fans call them "walking information kiosks."
Flavor Equipment: There is some extremely low-end gear available which most players will pass over without a second thought. In particular, there are the Chitin weapons. The Chitin dagger, for instance, is even worse than the Iron dagger which you can pick up for free during character generation. It exists mostly to give the Ashlanders a unique form of weaponry. Chitin armor on the other hand is actually fairly decent early-game light armor, putting Netch Leather and Nordic Fur armor into this category. You can buy a (relatively inexpensive) almost-full set of the armor from Arielle in Seyda Neen. Even worse are the cloth bracers. (Think "shirt-sleeve" level of protection and durability...)
Floating Continent: The Ministry of Truth, actually a floating moon, is this same concept. In the backstory, Sheogorath hurled it at Vivec city. Vivec, the Tribunal deity, froze it in time suspended over the city. In part due to the player's actions during the game, Vivec disappears early in the 4th era, causing the moon to continue its uninterrupted fall with its original momentum, destroying the city and causing Red Mountain to erupt, destroying most of Vvardenfell.
Foreshadowing: "In the waning years of the Third Era of Tamriel, a prisoner born on a certain day to uncertain parents was sent under guard, without explanation, to Morrowind, ignorant of the role he was to play in that nation's history." By the end of the game, you are still ignorant of the role you were to play, i.e. that you've indirectly caused Morrowind's destruction.
The local Nords of Solstheim are a bit peeved that the Raven Rock mine was built on an ancient burial mound. When Raven Rock is revisited two games later, guess what the player finds in the mine?
One quest in Bloodmoon has you rescuing the "friend" of a seer, Geilir the Mumbling. He will reward you for completing the quest by telling you your future. If you complete this quest after completing the Bloodmoon main quest, he will give you this cryptic fortune:
Fungus Humongous: Tree-sized mushrooms are a common sight in Vvardenfell. Telvanni settlements consist almost exclusively of mushroom houses, and many homes (there and elsewhere) have potted mushrooms as decoration.
Game-Breaking Bug: the "Sunder/Keening Bug" which if you have an item that adds attributes to you while wielding and rapidly switch it with another item and back to that item, at enough switching speed the attributes are not removed when unwielding it but instead stacked. You could get insane amounts of attributes. That's how speed runs of less than 5 minutes are possible. The bug was removed in later version though.
In addition to a number of bugs that could break certain quests, installing Bloodmoon after Tribunal would cause a bug with a certain character's dialogue, causing it to loop endlessly and cutting off the rest of the Tribunal main quest. This bug was thankfully patched.
Moon Sugar and Skooma are highly addictive drugs, but the player can consume them will no negative long term consequences.
Averted when the player talks to an Ordinator while wearing their sacred Indoril armor. Don't do it unless you want to have them attacking you on sight for the rest of the game.
There are a lot of interactions between the various guilds and factions of the game which can lead to some annoying situations. One example, the player may be the Mages Guild Archmage, but if he or she joins House Telvanni, they will have to do a quest to get the Mages Guild's monopoly on magical training dropped.
Game Mod: Thanks to a strong cult fandom, a simple but extraordinarily flexible level editor, and over a decade in which they could be developed, there are tens of thousands of Morrowind mods available on the internet.
Multiple comprehensive efforts have been made to modernize the game. The Morrowind Overhaul is a complete collection of texture, mesh and gameplay updates for the existing game. Morroblivion is a mostly complete mod that imports Morrowind into the Oblivion engine while Skywind is an ongoing effort to import Morrowind into the Skyrim engine. OpenMW is an ongoing project to recreate Morrowind's engine.
Gender Is No Object: Gender is purely aesthetic for 99.9% of the game. The only times it matters are some slight differences in starting attributes (small enough to be made up within the first few levels if you choose to do so), for one set of quests in Pelagiad that is only available to male characters, and for one portion of a late-game quest where female characters have easier requirements to finish it and get a slightly bigger bonus for it.
Gendered Outfit: Initially averted by the game, as the clothing and armor would remain the same in appearance for both genders. After installing Tribunal, the cuirass for certain armor types (netch leather and steel, amongst others) would change in appearance when equipped to female characters, becoming more form fitting.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The 36 sermons of Vivec include, among other things, multiple barely-concealed allegorical descriptions of gay sex between Vivec and the Daedric prince of rape.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Karstaag feels like this. Unlike the other participants in Hircine's hunt, you don't get to meet him until you have to fight him in in the glacier. He has a unique model: a giant, four-eyed yeti monster with horns, which is unlike anything else in the game. Where he came from or what he actually is never gets discussed in-game. (A popular fan theory states that he may be a Kamal, one of the Akiviri "snow demons" who staged a failed invasion of Morrowind in the distant past.)
Skyrim reveals that Karstag was a Frost Giant, an offshoot of Giants that are native to a place called The Forgotten Vale. How he got himself to Solstheim? Still a mystery.
Gladiator Subquest: You will need to fight several battles in the Vivec Arena in order to advance through several factions. In particular, you'll need to do this to achieve guild leader status in the Imperial Legion, House Redoran, and the Mages' Guild. You'll need to battle Dram Bero's champion in order to gain his support in House Hlaalu as well.
A God Am I: All three of the Almsivi in the backstory, plus Dagoth Ur to some extent. Almalexia has this attitude in the expansion.
Dagoth Ur: "I'm a god! How can you kill a god?"
God Emperor: Not entirely played straight as they don't legally count themselves as the emperors, but the Dark Elves worship the Tribunal, a trio of living, flesh and blood gods. They exert great influence, but aren't officially the government - there's a separate King of Morrowind, who reports to the Emperor.
Tiber Septim, founder of the current empire, is a more literal example. A minor character, 'Wulf', can be met late in the game who is actually Tiber Septim - or his avatar - incognito.
God Is Dead: The creator god anyway. There are other gods who are still alive and kicking, some of which die in this game.
The entirety of the Elder Scrolls multiverse is also, in theory, nothing more than the dream of a sleeping godhead (which works out to be the player and developers in the end, coupled with oblique references to the inventory, command console and construction set in-universe). In-universe, understanding this fact without losing one's mind and "falling asleep" again is key to attaining the ability to alter reality to suit your whim.
Gone Horribly Right: The mage who tried to create a flight spell (and falls from the sky right in front of you) comes to mind. He made tremendously powerful scrolls that boost your jumping ability so that you can leap miles... but they wear off after three seconds, which means that by the time you're approaching the ground again, you no longer have the power to land safely.
The Good Duke: Duke Vedam Dren seems genuinely interested in protecting the people of Vvardenfell, he even says as much when asking him for a construction contract for your stronghold. If the player is in House Hlaalu, the two quests he gives involve getting some overzealous Ordinators to back down and getting his crime boss brother, Orvas, to grant the player control over the Camonna Tong.
Great Offscreen War: The "War of the First Council" and "Battle of Red Mountain" thousands of years ago set the stage for the plot of the game. The devout, Daedra-worshipping Chimer and atheistic, scientific Dwemer came into conflict in the land now known as Morrowind. After years of fighting, they were forced to team up to drive out the invading Nords. Their alliance remained under the leadership of Chimeri Lord Indoril Nerevar and Dwemer Dumac Dwarfking, known as the "first council." It was a time of great peace and prosperity for both races. However, the Dwemer Dug Too Deep beneath Red Mountain and unearthed the Heart of Lorkhan, the creator god. Chief Tonal Architect, Lord Kagrenec, crafted tools to tap into the power of the heart, hoping to allow the Dwemer to transcend mortality. The Chimer, seeing this as a blasphemy against their gods, attempted to stop the Dwemer, reigniting their war. Forces led by Nerevar and Lord Voryn Dagoth infiltrated the Dwemer Red Mountain stronghold. Exactly what happened next is described differently by all the surviving participants, but the Dwemer disappeared from existence, Nerevar was slain, Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal used the tools on the heart to achieve godhood, and Azura cursed the Chimer with dark skin and red eyes, transforming them into the modern Dunmer.
Green Hill Zone: The area directly around the starting town of Seyda Neen. It's relatively peaceful, one of the "greener" areas in Vvardenfell in terms of vegetation, and the toughest enemies you will face at that point are likely mudcrabs and kwama foragers. Subverted with the Grasslands region, which appears green and peaceful, but is full of rogue ashlanders, blighted critters, and the occasional wandering Daedra.
Grey and Grey Morality: The only truly evil people in the game are vampires, the Dark Brotherhood, and Almalexia. The Camonna Tong are pretty close with their ultra-nationalist bigotry. On the other side, very few factions are 'pure good', although House Redoran and the Imperial Cult are generally decent.
Guide Dang It: The main quest is relatively straightforward throughout, but certain side quests qualify. This trope is common in The Elder Scrolls, but for some this game marks the point at which it stopped becoming a matter of 'replay value' and achieved ridiculous proportions. The game provides an in-world, automatic (not player-entered) journal; unfortunately, many quests and other goals are not recorded in that journal.
The Threads of the Webspinner quest requires you to track down 26 items (each boosting one of the games skills). 17 of them are either on NPCs you are assigned to kill / their guards (or in 1 case, given to you) by the same quest giver, but a few require you to kill random peaceful NPCs that have no indication that they have them or NPCs in out-of-the-way dungeons that have no quest at all related to them.
Another (unmarked) quest involves acquiring Eltonbrand. Let's just say you have better odds of being struck by lightning and winning the lottery on the same day than you do of acquiring this blade without help.
The propylon chambers, an ancient Lost Technology teleportation network. Using them requires collecting propylon indices, tiny grey cylinders about the size of your thumb; in the vanilla game, the indices are scattered over the entire world with no rationale for where they are, generally just lying in some obscure place with no hints whatsoever, and no indication of what they're for or how to use them if you happen to stumble across one of them. An official add-on adds a collection sidequest that gives you general hints of where to go, but without that finding even one of them (out of ten) without a guide would be a matter of astronomical luck. (As an example, one of them is hidden between two crates, in a dark, locked room, in the basement of a temple you have no reason to enter, let alone explore. And, to reiterate, the vanilla game barely even gives you any hint that the indices exist, let alone where they are or what they are for.) Presumably, the chambers and indices were originally put into the game as an Easter Egg, not something players were normally expected to figure out.
The master-level Enchanter trainer, while not something the players need to find, falls under this trope, too. You find him in a dungeon filled with evil enemy wizards who attack you on sight; there's no hint that he's there or anything like that. Oh, and he is one of the many enemy wizards who attacks you on sight; the only way to get him to train you is to use Calm Humanoid or similar magic to approach him without violence. There is absolutely no indication that he is anyone important or any reason why the player would calm him down and try to talk to him, and if you kill him in self-defense, he is Lost Forever and you will have to grind to 100 Enchantment skill manually.
Hammerspace: The game version is present in full force. You're only limited in the amount of things you can carry by their weight, not their size or shape. Weapons that are not drawn are invisible, and none of the character models are wearing packs or any other indication that they're carrying around (say) a whole spare suit of armor and thirty potions.
Heel-Face Turn: You can convince one of Hard-Heart's minions to defect by giving her a certain artifact. However, this minion will try to kill you when you become master of the guild.
A Home Owner Is You: You get the opportunity to build your own stronghold as you advance through any of the Great House factions. You can also just take over one of the game's many abandoned homes or ruins.
Hub City: Vivec is the largest and most populous city in the main game, as well as the center of Dunmer politics and culture. (Ebonheart would be the center of Imperial culture and influence on the island.)
100% Heroism Rating: After you complete the main quest, many people will stammer and ask you to forgive them because they don't know how to speak to such an important person. Others will thank you for your heroic deeds. Additionally, when selecting the "Nerevarine" topic with most NPCs, their disposition will raise each time, maxing out in the 60s. This is very helpful when dealing with NPCs who would otherwise hate you, such as members of rival Great Houses or Guilds.
Improbable Power Discrepancy: The expansions, which were geared towards higher level players, tend to lead to this. You'll find common enemies like Spriggans and werewolves in Bloodmoon putting up a tougher fight than 4000 year old main game Physical GodBig Bad Dagoth Ur, even though you've likely gained many levels since then.
Informed Equipment: Generally averted, as all armor and clothing appear on your character. Played straight, however, with accessories such as rings, amulets and belts which do not appear. Also, arrow quivers and your sheathed weapon do not appear either.
Interface Spoiler: If you find an NPC with unusual dialogue options, even if they don't cause anything to happen at that time, odds are they will be involved with a quest at some point in the future. The same is also true if the NPC simply lacks the usual dialogue options (latest rumors, little advice, little secret, etc.)
Irony: If the lost prophecies are to be believed, the Nerevarine is an outlander, one of the same group of people the Ashlanders are trying to remove from Morrowind.
Irrelevant Sidequest: Standard for the series, but in a positive way since it's up to the player to decide which quests they want to complete. Morrowind even takes it a step further than usual by having it explicitly recommended to you to go do things outside the main quest in order to keep up your cover story as a freelance adventurer and as a way to gain money and experience.
Jerkass: Most of both House Telvanni and the Tribunal Church.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Most of the reasonable Dunmer you meet, really. While the Dunmer in general can be rather secretive, abrassive and xenophobic at face value, many of them will mellow and show a friendly and honourable side to the player. Some of the individual Dunmer NPCs will even befriend you and become your trusted allies if you achieve a high enough reputation level with them. All the more impressive when you manage this as an Argonian or a Khajiit, as those two races are usually not taken very seriously by the Dunmer. A lot of this applies to many non-Dunmer NPCs too, of course.
Kicked Upstairs: It's implied that this is how Trebonius came to be the head of the Vvardenfell branch of the Mages Guild. His mainland superiors were tired of his incompetence, so they put him in charge of the most backwater province in the empire to keep him from mucking things up elsewhere.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Pretty much encouraged by the game itself. Especially true for those in the actual Thieves Guild. A few of the prime examples:
The Census and Excise office where you start the game. There is a built-in area out of sight where the player will acquire their first weapon, lockpicks, food, beverages, light source, and book. Even better, until you are officially released by the Captain and given your orders, you will not get a bounty for anything you steal in plain sight of the guards. Simply pick up anything you wish to steal and then set it on the ground before the guard gets to you. He'll reprimand you for stealing it, but there are no other consequences. Simply pick the stolen item back up when you're done and it's yours! You can acquire a key to the Seyda Neen warehouse with this method. The warehouse contains even more stuff to steal.
An early Balmora Mages Guild quest will have Ajira call the resident enchanter Galbedeir down to the bottom floor so you can switch out one of her soul gems with a fake. This leaves every other soul gem (including one filled grand soul gem worth 60,000 gold) completely unguarded. The only draw back to stealing them is that Galbedeir will recognize ALL soul gems as stolen after that point, so you will no longer be able to use her enchanting service.
The very first Ald-Ruhn Thieves Guild quest will have you stealing an item from the neighboring Mages Guild. All of the mages inside will clear out, leaving only one inept guard who is easily killed by even the lowest leveled players. The mages will stay gone until you complete the quest, so feel free to loot the entire place from top to bottom, making several trips if you have to.
Unfortunately, a quirk of the game engine discourages stealing stuff that isn't unique or gold (which doesn't count for this): instead of marking a specific incarnation of an item as stolen, it marks the base item as stolen — in other words, steal a Grand Soul Gem, and all Grand Soul Gems you acquire are regarded as stolen. Luckily, if you avoid run-ins with the law (or, as mentioned above, drop your stolen items before talking to the guards,) this is largely a non-issue unless you attempt to sell the stolen items back to the person you stole them from.
Klingon Promotion: Morrowind is rather tolerant of this. House Telvanni practice this as a rule, but many factions indulge in it. For bonus points, Tamrielic law even allows for it (within sanctioned limits), citing such matters as duels of honorable combat.
Last of His Kind: There's only one dwarf left. And he's not all there anyway (physically or mentally).
Lethal Joke Character: The Mudcrab Merchant. He is identical in appearance to other Mudcrabs, he's hidden on a specific island in the Azura's Coast region and is difficult to find, he speaks with a drunken dialect... and he has more available gold for bartering then any other merchant in the game.
Level Editor: The PC version of the game comes with the "Construction Set." It is simple to learn and very flexible, allowing you to manipulate the game in a wide variety of ways.
Level Grinding: Expect to do it if you want to be come proficient in any skill, particularly the weapon skills. Made easier with unlimited training per level (unlike the later games in the series,) but only if you can afford it.
Level Scaling: Limited to creatures outside of caves. The items in many containers are also pulled from "leveled lists," give you a better chance at finding good items at higher levels. All of the loot outside of containers is hand placed and never changes, however.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Generally played straight with a few quirks. Any character build is going to have some difficulty in the very early going, but warrior types are going to have it a bit easier than magic users. Once magic users gain access to (and have the funds to pay for) custom spells, they become much more powerful. However, late in the game (and especially in the expansions,) most high level foes resist magic to some degree or outright reflect it, suddenly making things very challenging for magic users once again.
Living Gasbag: The Netch are basically giant, flying, gas-filled jellyfish.
Loads and Loads of Loading: When the game first came out, loading times were absolutely abysmal on both the Xbox and PC versions. The overworld would take as long as three minutes to load and doing something as simple as running too fast could cause the game to grind to a halt. Thankfully, as technology has advanced in the decade plus since the game was released, this is now significantly less of an issue. Even a modern "off the shelf" PC can now play the game with loading times of less than a second. At times, the "Loading..." box at the bottom of the screen appears and disappears so quickly you barely notice it.
Lock and Key Puzzle: In the dungeons of Tel Fyr, there is a series of chests each with a key and some minor treasure in them. Each key unlocks the next chest in the series. Near the end, you can walk away with a few legendary ancient weapons.
Lost Technology: Nearly anything created by the Dwemer, as per series tradition.
Lost Superweapon: Akhulakhan, is being built from Numidium's blueprint, replacing the Mantella with the Heart of Lorkhan as a power source.
Lovable Sex Maniac: Oooh, Crassius Curio is an example, dumpling, but it is soo nice to hear you say it. It is lovely when you list tropes like that, honey. Now give Uncle Curio a kiss.
It should be noted that, in our world, much of what Curio does would be sexual harassment punishable by law. Requiring you to strip for him so he will promote you, anyone? Also, how did ESRB not notice?
He has also written a play called The Lusty Argonian Maid. "Polish my spear!" indeed.
And between all this, he is one of the few "good" character in his House.
Low-Level Advantage: Generally averted in the game, but there is one Imperial Cult quest where you will get a better reward if a certain skill is below level 40. (Specifically, your blunt weapon skill.)
Luck Stat: The Luck attribute. It affects the success rate of everything you do, from hitting attacks, to lockpicking, to creating potions, and a lot else.
Mad Wizard: So many. Kagrenac in the Backstory who figures out who to tap into the Heart of Lorkhan originally. Dagoth Ur and Sotha Sil then figure out how to do it as well. Pretty much all of the Telvanni, even the faction's lone Reasonable Authority Figure, conduct experiments which extend their lifespans and enjoy summoning Daedra as guards and test subjects. Even Divayth Fyr's cure for corprus fails on every test subject other than the player.
Magic Is Mental: All of the magical skills are tied to either the Intelligence or Willpower attributes. (Illusion is tied to Personality instead, but that can still qualify as a "mental" attribute.) The Mages Guild also essentially doubles as the guild for scholars.
Magitek: Dwemer technology seems to be about half Steam Punk and half magical enchantments.
Meaningful Name: As the main quest progresses, several NPCs, mainly Dunmer, become Brainwashed by Dagoth Ur and his boys. The term used for these people? Sleepers.
Medieval European Fantasy: Averted. Morrowind in easily the most abstract game in terms of setting in the series to date. While some of the Imperial settlements still invoke this trope, the native settlements (such as the Telvanni mushroom cities and Redoran hollowed-out giant crab shell cities) and the landscape itself (ranging from mucky marshlands to Lethal Lava Land) are incredibly alien. It is also interesting as it's the only game in the series (besides Arena, in which every province is visited) that takes place in an Elven homeland. Particularly the Dunmer, who have more basis in the ancient Near East with some Biblical Hebrew/Israelite influences. (Led to Morrowind by the Moses/Abraham hybrid prophet Veloth, who are struggling for independence during occupation by a powerful foreign empire and who practice a comparatively unusual religion for the setting.)
Mighty Whitey: While the races and cultures involved are fictionalized, getting recognized as the Nerevarine of the Ashlander tribes (and, to a lesser extent, the Hortator of the three Great Houses) amounts to this trope, since your character is a hated outlander and an agent of the imperial government that has conquered Morrowind — especially if your character is not a Dunmer. Even if you are a Dunmer, as an outlander you're seen as a 'cultural' outsider and are treated as such by the people you're trying to get to recognize you.
"Clutter Warehouse - Everything Must Go!" It's an area only accessible via console commands. It was used by the developers to speed up world creation. Since certain arrangements of furniture and items (such as plates on tables and bottles on shelves) are very common in the world, but take a long time to put together, they have been assembled in this area where they can be copied and pasted to where they are needed.
"Character Stuff Wonderland" A secret room used by the developers for testing which is accessible only through the console. It contains almost all of the armor and weapons in the game and is guarded by some high level monsters.
"Todd Test" A debug room used by the developers and accssible only through the console. When the player enters the room, a large light brown bowl is seen. This bowl, when activated, will make the player super strong and give him/her necessary items and spells to test various parts of the game. It will also infect the player with Porphyric Hemophilia (Berne variety). There are five leveled beasts, a Steam Centurion and six NPCs, three of whom are Ordinators. There are also multiple treasure chests containing one piece of nearly every item found in the game (Artifacts not included). The room is a copy of the Puzzle Canal underneath Vivec's palace, without the water. Installing Bloodmoon will also add three chests for items only found in that expansion. Several quest items may be found here- there is a chest containing all the books in the game, which can be used to complete quests such as the Telvanni Stronghold quest where you are ordered to find the 'unique' book Secrets of Dwemer Animunculi. You can also find the Bittercup and Azura's Star containing the soul of an Ogrim on a table near the back of the room.
"Mark's Vampire Test Cell" Another room used by the developers and only accessible via console. It contains two vampires and a bed, presumably for testing the Vampire process and dreams.
The Mole: Sjoring Hard-Heart, leader of the Fighters Guild, is actually a Camonna Tong agent, and two of the sub-leaders are his assistants.
One Mages Guild quest requires you to root out a potential Telvanni spy: It's Tiram Gadar, Archmage Trebonius's personal assistant. A quest for House Hlaalu has you delivering new orders to their spy watching the Redoran: Bivale Teneran, the high-class tailor in Ald'ruhn. And even though one doesn't formally come up in the Thieves Guild questline, you can find a few Thieves Guild members deep undercover at the Camonna Tong HQ, the Dren Plantation.
You can temporarily be this — the Tribunal Temple is a joinable faction, and there is a period in the Main Quest where you work with the Nerevarine Cult (which is persecuted by the Temple) and the Dissident Priests (a dissident faction of the Temple) without that being known to the Temple mainstream (once it becomes known, you can't join or use the Temple's services, but you're not actually expelled). You can't actually do any Mole-ish things.... unless you get to the highest Temple rank (Patriarch — you're still outranked by the Archcanton and Vivec himself, which is why you can be suspended later on) in time for a specific quest, where you can use that rank to simply walk right into the Temple's high-security prison.
Money for Nothing: It really isn't all that difficult to obtain more gold than you could ever reasonably need. A few prime examples:
Even before leaving the character generation area, it is possible to steal several valuable items with no repercussions. You can also acquire a key to another area with stuff to steal with this method. It's entirely possible that the only merchant in the starting village won't have enough gold to buy it all from you. (Especially if you return Fargoth's ring in order to get a disposition boost before selling.)
If you report to Caius Cosades before you reach level 4, he will give 200 free gold.
Most outdoor crates and urns in cities can be looted without issue. Most contain low end vendor trash, but considering many towns have dozens of these containers (including the 2nd town you are likely to visit, Balmora,) it can really add up for a new player.
Even with no practice at it at all, you can easily brew potions from the cheaper unlimited-supply ingredients purchased from alchemist vendors, and sell them for more than the ingredients are worth, repeatedly, making arbitrary high amounts of money bounded only by having to occasionally wait for their gold on hand to reset.
Monster Lord: Dremora Lords. They have almost twice as much health as a regular Dremora, do a bit more damage, have a stronger magical barrier, and almost always come with a Deadric or Ebony weapon (compared to regular Dremoras, who are more likely to have Dwemer or Dreugh weapons.) And from a distance, they look exactly the same.
Mordor: Central Vvardenfell Island. First there's the Ashlands and Molag Amur, which are covered in cursed infertile ash all the time and populated by killer dinosaurs and cliff racers. Even there, though, the Ashlanders manage to get by thanks to their sheer badassitude. Then there's the Great Scathes within Molag Amur, which are full of cliff racers and nearly impassable thanks to the jagged terrain and open rivers of lava. But at the center of it all is the Mordor to end all Mordors, Red Mountain. It is covered in treacherous ruins populated by psychopathic mutants, cliff racers, and demons. The air is constantly thickened by the Blight, a cloud of red dust that causes horrific diseases and impedes movement. Oh, and it is an active volcano. Naturally, this is where the Big Bad lives. It's such a nasty place that the Dark Elves had to put up a giant magical fence around it (powered by burning the souls of their own dead) to keep all the evil from spilling out and ruining the whole world.
Naked People Are Funny: There are several side quests in the game where you can chance upon a Nord wearing no clothing in the wilderness. All of them claim a witch was at fault. Lampshaded in Tribunal, where a naked Nord denies any involvement with a witch and that he was "just hot". The player can strip, with varying reactions by NPCs (Dunmer are "not amused", Imperials will laugh and note how you are a first).
The "PC is naked" dialogue doesn't differentiate between genders, however, and appears to have been recorded with males in mind. To wit, walking around naked as a female will eventually elicit the phrase "put that away!" from a disgusted NPC.
The player will be fine though, as long as they wear at least one piece of clothing. That means if you wear nothing but a belt people will treat you just normally. (Even more hilarious if you just wear a ring and run around naked.)
Name Order Confusion: Indoril Nerevar and Dagoth Ur of House Indoril and House Dagoth respectively, also the Ash Vampires are introduced with their last name first. Modern NPCs are generally presented in a Western style Firstname Lastname format.
When you defeat Dagoth Ur, everyone will immediately know and praise you for your deeds. Of course, the fact that you essentially had to announce your intention of doing so to every major power figure on the island, and that the eternal dust storm over Red Mountain has vanished, make this universal knowledge pretty plausible.
Subverted in Tribunal after you kill Almalexia. Virtually no one will believe you, and trying to tell them about it will be met with confusion from non-Dunmer and a big disposition drop from Tribunal Temple faithful.
Played entirely straight with crimes. You could commit a crime, then teleport instantly to the opposite side of the island, and every guard there will be aware of your bounty.
Nice Job Breaking It Player: Since Anyone Can Die if you kill them, should you decide to slay an NPC that would in the future become important to the main quest, the game will give you a message telling you that you essentially fucked up the strings of destiny and now must either return to a previous savegame or carry out the remainder of your shameful existence in a doomed universe. A nice aversion of But Thou Must there.
No Bulk Discounts: Played with. While it is played straight for individual transactions, constantly buying from and selling to the same merchant will increase that merchant's disposition towards the player, while also increasing the player's Mercantile skill. Over time, this leads to lower buying prices and higher selling prices.
No Campaign for the Wicked: While there are a couple of ways to go about completing the main quest, joining Dagoth Ur is not one of them. It was originally supposed to be, but time limitations during development forced it to be dropped as an option. (A number of Game Mods have been created that will allow you to join House Dagoth, however.)
In every other sense, however, the game doesn't judge. You can be a slave-owning, cannibalistic vampire who murders for the sheer joy of finding out what's in peoples' pockets. It's just that if Dagoth Ur wins, you won't be able to continue that carefree lifestyle.
No Stat Atrophy: The only way to permanently lower a statistic is by going to jail, and even then, it is only very slight decreases. Temporary ways exist in the game by means of spells, diseases, and enchantments but are restored after the effect wears off or is cured.
Nominal Importance: Utterly averted. The vast majority of unique NPCs are all named. What few exceptions exist are the generic guards, vampire cattle, and a few Sixth House enemies like the Dreamers.
Nonindicative Name: The most obvious examples are Glass (a very strong mineral as opposed to a brittle substance made by melting quartz; it's a bit like obsidian but harder to shatter) and Ebony (another very strong mineral, as opposed to a tropical tree with black wood). That said, glass does look a fair bit glass-y, translucence and all (and ebony is rather dark in colour).
The "Ministry of Truth" is where the Temple suppresses dissent of any kind. Its resemblance to the Ministry of Truth in 1984 probably isn't a coincidence, though its actual function resembles the Ministry of Love more closely. Orwell's Ministry of Truth was devoted to spreading lies and propaganda, not supressing dissent.
"Ash vampires" are not vampires. In fact, they are not even undead.
Noob Cave: Addamasartus, though it doesn't include a tutorial, is found right across a bridge from the starting village. (One NPC even points you towards it if you ask for a "Little Secret.") It has some low level bandits, some slaves to free, and some low end loot. If you're especially thorough in searching the place, you can come away with a decent quality sword for that point in the game and an enchanted ring that is helpful to sneaky characters.
Arkngthand also fits the bill, as it is the first "dungeon" the player is required to visit as part of the main quest, and isn't particularly difficult - at least, not in the parts you have to visit; it has "bonus levels".
Not Completely Useless: The scrolls of Icarian Flight (scrolls that allow the player to jump incredible distances, but will kill the player on impact unless they land in deep water, use a 2nd scroll before landing, or cast a slowfall/levitate spell) can actually get you out of an annoying death trap in Sotha Sil. The player has to climb up a spiral staircase in a room while outrunning a spinning blade that moves faster than the player. The usual high-level character approach to this puzzle would be to levitate to the exit; but levitation is not allowed in Sotha Sil, and no practical jump spell that the player would have is capable of getting them all the way to the door. However the scroll of Icarian Flight will allow you to leap all the way to the top of the chamber, crash into the ceiling, and land on the platform right in front of the exit.
Another good use for the scrolls is when fast travel is unavailable for whatever reason, such as a Tribunal Temple quest where the player is forced to take an oath of silence before traveling to the complete opposite side of the island. (A trip of several in-game days on foot.) Instead of that hassle, the player can simply use one of the scrolls to leap across the island, crash down in the ocean beyond the shrine (or cast levitate when just above it,) and complete the quest in a fraction of the time.
Not the Intended Use: Abusing the alchemy system to create the game-breaking Intelligence potions described in the YMMV section.
Older Is Better: Ancient Dwemer gear is better than most modern armors. Justified throughout the series, as you find out the Dwemer were fanatics about building stuff to last for a VERY long time.
Even if you "properly" beat the main quest, nothing stops you from killing Vivec. You still get the usual message about tampering with destiny, but there are no real consequences - his part in 'destiny' has already been played. And you acquire the second, backpath version of Wraithguard.. Not to mention some satisfaction.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Endurance. Considering that it determines your starting health, as well as your health gain per level, it is a critically important attribute for all character builds. Making Endurance one of your favored attributes during character creation is highly encouraged.
One True Faith: Averted and Subverted in different instances. To elaborate:
Averted in general. The game features both the Imperial Cult, the religion of the majority of Tamriel, and the Tribunal Temple, the religion of the Dunmer people who worship the Tribunal. The friction between these factions (as part of the armistice to end their war, the Dunmer had to allow worship of the Nine Divines but could keep their own Tribunal worship as well,) is a plot point.
Also Averted when the Ashlanders are considered. They practice ancestor worship (which is still part of Tribunal Temple doctrine, though to a lesser extent,) and also, to a degree, worship (or at least respect) the Daedra. (Particularly Azura, Boethia, Mephala, Sheogorath, Molag Bal, Mehrunes Dagon, and Malacath.) Again, the Daedra are acknowledged by the Tribunal Temple, but are considered subservient to the Tribunal.
Then Subverted within the Tribunal Temple. While they present themselves in this fashion and attempt to suppress all dissent, the Dissident Priests and Nerevarine Cult have split off from the mainstream Tribunal worship. When talking to Vivec, he'll reveal that the Temple isn't entirely right, and that the others aren't completely wrong.
Finally, in Bloodmoon, it's revealed that the Skaal worship the "All Maker," with their own set of beliefs and rituals which include significant nature worship.
Opening the Sandbox: You're free to do what you and go where you want immediately after character generation.
Organ Drops: Plenty. Beyond the standard critter parts (rat meat, hound meat, various hides, racer plumes slaugherfish scales) we have parts from more humanoid creatures (Daedra hearts, dreugh wax, scamp skin, corprus meat...)
Oxygen Meter: One appears whenever you go underwater. Once it runs out, your health will drain at a steady rate until you surface.
Pause Scumming: You can enter the game menu, which pauses the game, at any time. In this menu, you can drink an unlimited number of potions or change armor in the nick of time, even in the middle of combat.
Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: You must be wearing Wraithguard in order to handle Keening and Sunder without dying instantly. And in order to even wear Wraithguard, you must sacrifice a large portion of your health, permanently. If acquired the "standard" way, through Vivec, he will take you "outside of time and space" so that it doesn't harm you.
Portmanteau: "Almsivi" is one of the names for the Tribunal, which is made up of Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec.
Player Personality Quiz: An optional one appears during character generation. You can choose a different class that the one that is recommended for you based on the quiz , or just skip it altogether and manually select/create a class.
Physical God: Loads of them. Special props to the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur, who used to be mortal.
Power Creep: The natural enemies you encounter in Bloodmoon (such as wolves and bears) are as powerful as enemies you find inside the Ghost Fence in Vvardenfell. The expansion also contains some of the few weapons in the entire series which are stronger than Daedric.
Power Glows: Partly. Enchanted items have a magical luminous sheen, but it's not bright enough to provide useful illumination.
Pragmatic Villainy: Master Aryon seems to be the Reasonable Authority Figure of House Telvanni. However, he's actually being 'flexible' because the stubbornness of the other Telvanni councilors leaves the House at a disadvantage to its numerous powerful enemies; his motives are entirely self-interested.
Propaganda Machine: The Ministry of Truth, as its Orwellian name might suggest. It is notable for being headquartered in a floating rock which is also known as "Lie Rock."
Prophecy Pileup: You are the Nerevarine, a man/woman who has been chosen as the one who might bring the evil DagothUr. Or at least, that's what the prophecy tells you to do. More to the point, you can screw the prophecy and do it in ways the prophecy didn't mean/didn't foresee. Also, there is another prophecy going on when you play the second expansion. And there and loads and loads of mods to add more complexity.
Though the second expansion's prophecy doesn't actually have you be The Chosen One — or for that matter have a chosen one. Ultimately, it is all about finding the most badass people on the island which you for entirely non-prophecy related reasons are visiting, and then having a hunt. You just happen to be one of the most badass people around this time (it is stated to be a recurring event), and so get dragged into the end-game.
Puppet King: What the position "King of Morrowind" had been for centuries. The Tribunal Temple, Great Houses, and the Empire held any and all real power. KingHelseth is attempting to change all that.
Purposely Overpowered: King Helseth's ring. It grants 100% Reflect, 100% Resist Magicka, 100% Resist Paralysis, AND health and fatigue restoration, ALL on constant effect. In order to even get the ring, you must kill him while he is wearing it, in addition to his room full of tough bodyguards.
For a player specializing in the long blade and heavy armor skills, Chryasmere and the Lord's Mail are the Infinity+1 Equipment, allowing you to dish out and take a serious amount of damage. The kicker? You get them towards the end of the Imperial Legion questline and must turn them into the faction leader to complete their respective quests. The way to get them back? You have to defeat him in a duel while he uses them against you. If you're able to beat him, you probably don't need the equipment...
Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Dagoth Ur can manipulate and corrupt people in their dreams; the exact degree varies, resulting in Ascended Sleepers, Sleepers, Dreamers, etc.
Ratstomp: The first Balmora Fighter's Guild quest plays this 100% straight.
Really 700 Years Old: As usual with fantasy world elves, the Mer races have natually longer lifespans than the races of Men or the beast races. Special mention for the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur, who are somewhere in the ballpark of 4000 years old, having used the Heart of Lorkhan to ascend to godhood. The Telvanni councilors are also said to be quite old, having prolonged their lives through sorcery. Divayth Fyr in particular is said to be one of the oldest non-divine beings in Tamriel, according to one of his daughters.
Baladas Demnevanni, one such Telvanni wizard who you'll meet during the Imperial Legion questline, refuses to pay taxes on the grounds that he was living there before there was an empire.
Barenziah, the mother of King Helseth and whom you can meet in Tribunal, is old enough to have had an affair with Tiber Septim.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Most of the guilds and Great Houses have at least one such leader. In factions where the majority of the leaders are corrupt (such as the Fighters' Guild and House Telvanni), they are that much more important. Subverted by the ultimate leader of any faction that requires or even allows Challenging the Chief; the Chief in question is never reasonable.
For House Hlaalu, we have Crassius Curio. Duke Vedam Dren and Dram Bero also count as the only other high ranking members above the general corruption of the Camonna Tong.
For House Redoran, it would be Athyn Sarethi. Most everyone except for Archmaster Bolvyn Venim is actually fairly reasonable, at least by the standards of the other guilds and factions in the game.
For House Telvanni, it's Master Aryon. His reason for being reasonable is still pretty selfish. Still, for a faction of powerful sorcerers, it's a much lighter shade of gray.
Divayth Fyr qualifies more directly; he spends his time researching how to cure the most serious disease on the continent, provides a hospice for people suffering from it, and offers his experimental treatments to anyone who is determined to be cured (after warning them that it has killed every previous subject.) He even allows people to try and steal from him (as a sort of entertainment), provided they're willing to risk their lives and don't hurt anyone else under his care in the process.
The Fighter's Guild has Percius Mercius and his former lieutenant, Hrundi.
The Mages Guild leadership is a pretty reasonable group for the most part, with the glaring exception of incompetent Archmage Trebonius.
The Thieves Guild is another with mostly reasonable leadership, especially considering their main occupation. Special props go to Master Thief "Gentleman" Jim Stacy, who a Robinhood-like figure.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Though they generally don't refer to themselves as "royalty," the Tribunal embodied this trope in past ages. They led the defense of Morrowind from multiple takeover attempts by the Reman and Septim empires over the course of several millenia, thwarted at least two takeover attempts by Akiviri races, and banished Mehrunes Dagon at least once. They also established and maintained the Ghostfence, which is the only thing keeping Dagoth Ur and the Blight at bay. By the time the game takes place, they've gone several centuries without being able to recharge their divinity, so they've been forced to withdraw from the day to day affairs of mortals in order to conserve energy.
King Helseth is another example. He's actively working to turn his position as "King of Morrowind" from a Puppet King/figurehead position into one with some real power, first by having his predecessor killed and then by trying to weaken the power of the Tribunal Temple.
Royal "We": King Hlaalu Helseth speaks like this in the Tribunal expansion.
Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Averted. Vvardenfell has lots and lots of ruins, but they are all justified by the lore. The old Dunmer strongholds were actual outposts during the ancient wars with the Dwemer and Nords. The Dwemer ruins were formerly Dwemer cities before the Dwemer disappeared, and their propensity towards building things to last has kept them in relatively good shape in the ages since. The Daedric ruins were built by the ancient Daedra worshiping Chimer before the Tribunal came into existence. The ruins that haven't become cultist or bandit strongholds still hold their various treasures because Vvardenfell was a Tribunal Temple preserve open only to Temple pilgrims until about 20 years before the events of the game.
Running Gag: The various naked Nords scattered around the countryside.
One that many fans find annoying: if Bloodmoon is installed, almost everybody on Vvardenfell will have a dialogue option of "Solstheim". If asked about it, they will all give the same response: "Solstheim? A terrible place, I've heard. There's a boat from Khuul, if you have any reason to go". Everybody outside the village of Khuul responds this way, aside from a few of the chattier ash vampires.
Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Inverted in the conflict between the native Camonna Tong and the foreign Thieves' Guild; the Camonna Tong is far more ruthless. Played straight with the Dark Brotherhood.
The Sleepers start out babbling about Dagoth Ur's return and the rise of the Sixth House. After a certain point in the main quest, they turn hostile and start attacking the player.
Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal all suffer from sanity slippage to varying degrees as a side-effect of becoming Gods through the power of the Heart of Lorkhan. Dagoth Ur has it the worst, since he was far less restrained in his consumption of the heart's power. Of the Tribunal, only Almalexia exhibits any obvious signs of insanity, though it is implied that Vivec and Sotha Sil would have eventually suffered the same fate.
Satan: The Tribunal Temple and the Ashlanders treat Dagoth Ur as this. The truth is a bit more complex.
Schmuck Bait: I'm sure nothing bad will happen if you take those precious gemstones or stacks of gold sitting on at the foot of that Daedric statue...
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: You can go on a murderous rampage, then just walk away by paying a fine. Then go on another murderous rampage, pay the fine, then take a nap in the streets, pay the fine....
Selective Enforcement: If you break any law, the guards will be on you in no time flat. However, they won't lift a finger to help you with that assassin trying to kill you.
Self-Made Man: At the end of the main quest, Dagoth Ur asks if you think you are actually the reincarnation of Nerevar. If you reply that you are not, but you will still destroy him, he will mildly praise you for your boldness. His responses to your other reply options are more neutral or negative.
As Vivec would say of gods and heroes of legends: "walk like them until they walk like you". Meaning it doesn't matter whether you really are the Chosen One. If you manage to do what the Chosen One was supposed to do, then you are the Chosen One for all practical purposes. This is actually an action called Mantling, and is one of the few (if only) times the main character is expected to do it.
Shining City: Mournhold. Expressly called "city of light" by its denizens. Doubles as capital city of the province of Morrowind.
Shoplift and Die: All I did was pick up a napkin off the floor! I didn't realize it was yours! Wait, no, don't kill me— * dies*
You accidentally bump the mouse or the analog stick while in a shop trying to talk to the shopkeeper and now you're wanted for theft.
This is bad enough in the base game, but if your low-level character accidentally takes any 'owned' objects in Mournhold, you'll find that even the shopkeepers there are inexplicably 30th level. Die!
At least one of the developers seems to have really liked Pokémon. Weepingbell Hall, Marowak's Spine, Peke Utchoo, et cetera.
One of the developers went to Duke, so he being a big fan of Duke basketball, there is an easter egg sword Eltonbrand that you get by retrieving Shashev's Key (among other requirements). Elsewhere in the game, you come across a (likely dead) enchanter who believed he could fly named "Tarhiel".
The very name "Morrowind" could be a reference to The Elf Queen Of Shannara, which featured the island of Morrowindl, which also had an active volcano being held in check by magic.
In Omalen Ancestral tomb, the corpse of an adventurer can be found crushed under a rock due to a cave in. There's a scroll that records his last thoughts, signed "Indie". It also mentions that his father made jokes about his childhood pet.
The Bjorn ice cave on Solstheim has a skeletal corpse with his feet stuck to the ceiling and a sword just out of his reach down below. He apparently didn't use the force.
Side Quest: Tons and tons of them, as per Elder Scrolls series tradition.
The Singularity - The Game Breaker described under YMMV, in which you use the boosts from the intelligence-enhancing potions you make in order to create better and better intelligence-enhancing potions, until you become intelligent enough to craft items that will make you invulnerable and let you kill anything in the game in one hit, essentially turns the player character into a one-man Singularity.
Sole Entertainment Option: No wonder everybody in the world has time to stand around and talk to you! Aside from a (usually unoccupied) gladiatorial arena in Vivec, an 'exotic dancing' club in Suran, and an outdoor theater in Mournhold, there's nothing to do!
Sorting Algorithm Of Threatening Geography: You start on an ordinary-looking seashore, and travel to your first city through unthreatening countryside. During the course of your adventure, you visit deserts of volcanic ash, jagged rocky shores, labyrinthine lava scathes and reach the climax of the story in a sprawling ruin built over an open volcanic crater. The Bloodmoon expansion works similarly, starting you off in a chilly-looking but generally green pine forest, passing through harsher and harsher arctic-looking climes, and culminating in and under a giant snowstorm-lashed castle atop a massive glacier.
Spanner in the Works: The player acts as one in most Guilds and factions, most notably in the struggle between the Cammona Tong and the Thieves Guild.
Starter Equipment: Morrowind is pretty stingy in this regard, giving you only the common clothes on your back and allowing you to pick up an iron dagger and apprentice lockpick during character generation. This is all you'll get for free to start out. Anything else will need to be bought or found out in the world.
The Spymaster: Caius Cosades. It's even his official title within the Blades organization.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: Pretty much the entire main quest of Tribunal, particularly the part where you must create ashstorms in Mournhold for Almalexia.
Suicidal Overconfidence: ALL followers and escorts. That withered old pilgrim who begged you to escort her to a shrine won't hesitate to charge a giant atronach made of fire with fists swinging.
Sure, Let's Go with That: Any dealings you have with Mistress Therana. The other Telvanni councilors note that "she hasn't aged well," and getting anything out of her requires you to play along with whatever insane story she is telling at the moment.
Teaser Equipment: Many shops have a piece or two of late-game level equipment no matter how early you visit them, but you'll almost certainly be unable to afford it at that point. Two good examples in Balmora, likely the second town you'll visit if following the main quest, are Ra'Virr's Demon/Devil weapons (steel weapons enchanted to allow you to temporarily summon much better Daedric weapons) and Meldor's Dreugh Cuirass and Shield (extremely good medium armor.)
Tentative Light: Many of the game's dungeons are dark enough that a light source is required. The torches and lanterns you can use have a finite use. Spells such as Light and Night Eye are available, but are also temporary unless you enchant them onto an item as a constant effect.
Teleport Interdiction: Dagoth Ur uses teleport jamming to stop you from teleporting away from his hall. Azura will also prevent you from teleporting out after destroying the heart until you have a conversation with her. She will use it again after defeating Almalexia, forcing you back to Mournhold if you try to use the Mazed Band to go anywhere else.
Timed Mission: The "Race Against the Clock" quest for the East Empire Company in Bloodmoon.
Timmy in a Well: In Bloodmoon, Lassnr will give you a quest to rescue Tymvaul, who fell down a well.
Too Awesome to Use: The Ebony Arrows of Slaying. You can find exactly 5 in a tree stump on Solstheim. They hit for about 5000 damage a pop, enough to kill any opponent in the game (not protected by a reflect spell) many times over.
The Skeleton Key is a lockpick that will never fail, but only has 50 "uses" before it will be gone. And by the time you get it, your security skill is likely high enough that you don't really need it anyway.
Since weapons are breakable and enchantment can run out, players will often find themselves saving their best weapons for only the toughest foes.
Trespassing Hero: You're free to enter just about any house or building you can get into. The only way to get in trouble for it is if you are seen by a guard picking the lock. There are also a few "forbidden" areas which, if you enter before you are supposed to as part of a quest, you will be told to leave. (Vivec's palace is one such example.)
Unique Enemy: Several. Old Blue Fin (a unique, named Slaughterfish,) a Giant Bull Netch, The White Guar (and several named pack guars,) The Dreugh Warlord, several named Daedra, several named skeletons and ghosts. Some are important to a plot, but not all.
The Unreveal: What happened to the Dwemer? Who killed Nerevar? Despite speaking with three of the people who were there for the actual events and one who understood a great deal about the first, it's still unclear.
Unwinnable by Design: Since all NPCs are mortal, it is entirely possible to kill someone critical to the main plot and thereby prevent you from completing it. The game is decent enough to tell you when you do this so that you can reload a saved game.
There is also a "back door" method of defeating the Big Bad that requires only one living NPC, but it skips the entire story and is pretty well hidden.
Other major plotlines, such as those of the various Guilds and Houses you can join, can be made unwinnable by killing important characters or being permanently expelled for bad behavior.
Unwitting Pawn: Dagoth Ur. You too, depending on your interpretation of Azura's intentions. You again in Tribunal, but the king is asking for you to go along with it.
Urban Segregation: Most of the game's larger cities have this going on. It's subtle in places like Balmora and Ald-Ruhn, but more clear in Vivec's cantons. (Plaza > Waistworks > Canalworks > Sewers) In fact, in Vivec, outlanders are typically restricted to the Foreign Quarter only.
Useless Useful Spell: Spells that cure paralysis on self. Sounds like it might come in handy, right? Too bad you can't cast spells when you're paralyzed.
Buying any spell allows you to use it an enchant effect, thus allowing you to create clothing that cures paralysis on equip.
Utility Magic: Many of the Alteration class of spells. Levitation, opening locks, increasing the amount of weight you can carry, etc. The teleportation spells offered by the school of Mysticism also have some extremely utilitarian uses. (Zapping out of danger, allowing you to move while over-encumbered, etc.)
Violation of Common Sense: One Tribunal Temple quest requires that you drown yourself. (You'll be just fine, however, as it was a test of faith.)
The Virus: Corprus Disease (which will either turn you into an Eldritch Abomination or a zombie depending on your personality), the Blight (which kills plants, drives animals insane, causes health problems in humanoids, and can carry corprus), as well as some more mundane illnesses ("Swamp Fever," "Jitters," et cetera).
Wake-Up Call Boss: Snowy Granius isn't a boss per se, but he is a battlemage who hangs out on the bridge to Arkngthand. He's wearing a heavy armor cuirass, wielding a mace, and will likely summon a skeleton when he sees you. For a player who has stuck to the main quest, this will likely be his or her first real challenge, and may even be the first non-critter the player has fought.
Wallet of Holding: With all of that Money for Nothing, most players will quickly amass hundreds of thousands of gold and there is no penalty for carrying it all around with you.
Warmup Boss: Boss Crito in Arkngthand. He is found at the end of the dungeon for the first quest given as part of the main quest line and is a bit stronger than his Mooks throughout the rest of the dungeon. He even has "Boss" in his name.
Warp Whistle: The spells "Divine Intervention" and "Almsivi Intervention" will teleport you to the nearest Imperial shrine/Tribunal temple, respectively. The Mark and Recall spells are similar, allowing you to set a "Mark" and then "Recall" to that spot. Useful for traveling long distances when no fast travel is available, getting out of a sticky situation in a hurry, or for transporting more loot than you could carry on foot.
We Buy Anything: Mostly averted, as the majority of shops only buy and sell in one type of product. There are a few general traders and pawnbrokers who will buy and sell in nearly anything, but they often have significantly less gold to barter with.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dagoth Ur just wants to make Morrowind independent from the Empire. The fact that his method of achieving that independence involves spreading a disease that either drives the victim to homicidal madness or horrifically mutates them throughout the entire world is acceptable in his mind.
Although if he had succeeded with his ultimate goal, he would have turned the entirety of the universe/multiverse into nothing more than an extension of his own mind. The collective inhabitants of reality dodged a bullet there.
When It All Began: Nerevar's death following the Battle of Red Mount some 4000 years prior to the events of the game. All of the events of the game's main quest (and the Tribunal main quest) can be traced back to that time.
Whispering Ghosts: These can be heard around the ash pits in Tribunal temples and ancestral tombs.
Wide Open Sandbox: As per The Elder Scrolls tradition. It's actually the smallest game in the series in terms of square footage. Makes up for it by being entirely hand built, unlike the other games in the series which rely on many randomly generated portions to fill out the larger area.
With This Herring: Sheogarath's Quest. If you manage to find the shrine of the slightly-mad demigod, he gives you a quest to kill a giant bull-netch (a stingless flying jellyfish the natives use for livestock) with "The Fork Of Horripilation." Okay, you might think to yourself, there's tridents and pitchforks in the game, no big deal. But no, after schlepping all the way to the other side of the island, you find that the Fork is really... a serving fork that does 1-2 damage. So you end up chasing a big, harmless, living zeppelin. With a fork.
Wizards Live Longer: All of the Telvanni councilors are implied to be extremely old by way of magic. Special mention Divayth Fyr, who at around age 4000, is said to be one of the oldest non-divine beings in Tamriel.
World Domination: Dagoth Ur seeks it. Almalexia seeks merely Nation Domination, at least for the moment.