Welcome, Troper, to the land of Morrowind. Even if you've spent time elsewhere in Tamriel, you may still find yourself unprepared for the unique challenges and quirks of this land. But fear not, for we at TV Tropes are watchful, and you have been chosen...
Follow the path set forth in the Beginner's Guide to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind below and you will go from newbie schmuck to god-slayer in no time at all.
For additional information, please consult one of these helpful wiki pages:
- The Elder Scrolls Wiki
- The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages
What's Your Name?
The very first choice you'll make in the game following the opening cut-scene is to choose your name. Naturally, it won't be said in any spoken dialogue though it will appear on menu screens, in text-based conversations, and in some in-game documents. Fill in your own name, your preferred fantasy name, or, if you want something lore-friendly, Fantasy Name Generator has some good Elder Scrolls options.
You've Finally Arrived, But Our Records Don't Show From Where
Upon exiting the boat, the guard will ask you to choose your race and sex. There are ten races to choose from, each lending itself well to specific playstyles:
- Altmer (High Elf) - Squishy Wizard Witch Species
- Argonian (Lizard Folk) - Professional Killer Glass Cannon
- Bosmer (Wood Elf) - Forest Ranger Archer Archetype
- Breton - Mage Killer Magic Knight (with a dash of Summon Magic)
- Dunmer (Dark Elf) - Jack-of-All-Stats
- Imperial - Boring, but Practical Humans Are Diplomats
- Khajiit (Cat Folk) - Stealth Expert Knife Nut
- Nord - Horny Vikings Glass Cannon
- Orc (Orsimer) - The Berserker Mighty Glacier
- Redguard - Master Swordsman Fragile Speedster
Naturally, there is nothing stopping you from playing as a race and class combination which goes against the norm. The early game will be a bit tougher as your starting Major and Minor skills will be lower, but there is otherwise no penalty in doing so.
While it stops short of the Character Select Forcing level, the advantages conferred by certain races are superior to those of others. Some racial powers, like the Bosmer's Beast Tongue and Argonian's Water Breathing, can be easily duplicated by spell and enchantment effects, so don't let those be a deciding factor. Other advantages, especially racial resistances, remain impactful throughout the game. For example, Bretons have a whopping 50% passive magicka resistance, while also gaining a 50% bonus to their own maximum magicka. Dunmer meanwhile get a passive 75% resistance to fire-based magic, the most common offensive magic type in the base game. Altmer, though their inherent weaknesses to magicka can be crippling (and even that can be circumvented with a Birthsign, see below), they get a 150% bonus to their maximum magicka, making them the ideal race for dedicated mage characters.
Another minor factor to consider in selecting your race is that you'll get a +10 disposition bonus when speaking to members of the same race. Playing as a race with less representation in Vvardenfell, like an Altmer or Orc, means you won't get much use out of this bonus. Dunmer NPCs, on the other hand, make up over 50% of the game's population. Even though you're told that native Dunmer do not like non-native Dunmer (which a Player Character Dunmer would be), you still benefit from the same-race disposition bonus.
In terms of sex, the game largely takes a Gender Is No Object stance. One or two starting attributes per race differ between the sexes, but these can be made up within the first few levels if you so choose. A very small number of quests later in the game also differ depending on your character's sex, but not significantly so.
You'll Have to be Recorded Before You're Officially Released
After selecting your race and sex, you'll be escorted into the Census and Excise office where you'll fill out your paperwork, including both Class and Birthsign.
Morrowind offers 21 different pre-made classes to choose from, including each of the Fighter, Mage, Thief trio as well as numerous mixed classes in between. While the classes are all playable, it is highly recommended that you create your own custom class in order to get the most bang for your buck. Several of the pre-made classes are inefficient when it comes to Major and Minor skill bonuses given their primary attributes. Additionally, most of the "fighter" and "thief" classes include multiple weapon types among their Major and Minor skills. With the exception of Marksman (which you can pair with a melee weapon skill), it is highly recommended that you choose one weapon skill and stick with that as your primary means of attack.
Additionally, creating a custom class allows you to set your own two primary attributes. It is highly, highly recommended that you always choose the One Stat to Rule Them All as a primary attribute - Endurance. Endurance determines your maximum health and your health gain per level. By setting it as a primary attribute, it will get a +10 bonus right away, giving you more health to start with and increasing the amount of health you gain each level right out of the gate. This can potentially result in an extra 100+ points of health at high levels (in a game where even the beefiest characters max out in the 400-500 range).
For your other primary attribute, Intelligence is recommended for mage-types (like Endurance for health, Intelligence determines your maximum magicka) while, perhaps surprisingly, Luck is recommended for other character types. Strength, Speed, and Agility may be flashier and have more immediate, tangible impacts, but all are much easier to raise as you play the game. Luck has no associated skills, so you will only ever be able to increase it by one point per level. It influences the failure rate of performing actions in the game's "dice roll" system when, for example, picking locks, brewing potions, casting spells, etc. It also increases your odds of finding better loot in containers which are pulled from "leveled lists". The +10 to Luck as a favored skill is much more substantial than it is for any other skill.
Finally, unless your are role-playing or seek a challenge, avoid the Dump Stats Personality and Willpower. Both Personality and the skills it governs (particularly Speechcraft) can be increased temporarily by numerous means (spells, potions, enchantments, racial powers, etc.) when needed. Since the game time freezes when you enter into a conversation, you can easily create something to increase Personality considerably for 1 second. Use it, then immediately enter the conversation. The effect will persist until you leave the conversation. Willpower affects your maximum fatigue and your ability to resist certain magical effects (paralysis, silence). The former is a minimal factor and items which restore your fatigue are plentiful. The latter is somewhat useful, but enemies who use these spells are few and far between, giving it situational value at best.
Born Under a Certain Sign
Morrowind offers 13 birthsigns, each of which confer advantages to those born under them in the form of both "once-per-day" spells which cannot fail and passive bonuses. While the spell effects are flashier and, at least in the early game, have some use, they can all be replicated (even more effectively in some cases) by spell effects you can acquire later. Instead, focus on these two in particular:
The Atronach - If you are playing a magic-focused character, this is the only Birthsign to reasonably consider. It grants a whopping 200% bonus to your maximum magicka pool while giving you a free 50% passive spell absorption. The downside is that you can no longer recover magicka by resting. Not only does the spell absorption give you a 50% chance of absorbing any incoming hostile spell, negating it and refilling your magicka pool, but potions of restore magicka are plentiful if needed. Taking this Birthsign as an Altmer will give you the highest possible magicka pool in the game, while the spell absorption will help negate your crippling weakness to magicka. As a Breton, the spell absorption combined with your natural magicka resistance will turn you into a mighty Mage Killer.
The Lady - Remember what we said earlier about Endurance and its importance? The Lady gives a +25 bonus to Endurance. For any non-magical class, take The Lady.
We've already covered attributes to a degree in earlier sections, but we'll go into additional detail here. They are essentially The Elder Scrolls version of The Six Stats and consist of Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Agility, Speed, Endurance, Personality, and Luck. Each, except Luck, "governs" 3-5 associated skills.
Skills indicate how well your character can perform specific actions, from striking with weapons to casting spells to picking locks to brewing potions and much more. Each class has five "Major" skills, which receive the largest bonuses (+25) at character creation, five "Minor" skills which receive smaller bonuses (+10), and the rest are classed as "Misc" skills with no class bonuses.
Each time you increase one of your Major/Minor skills, be it through use, training, or a Rare Candy skill book, you'll gain one point toward your next level. Once you've gained 10 of these points, you will level-up the next time you rest. When leveling up, you may choose three attributes to increase. When increasing a skill, you'll get a multiplier toward its governing attribute when leveling up. For example, Long Blade is governed by Strength. If you increase your Long Blade skill 10 times, you'll get a x5 multiplier to Strength the next time you level up.
One important thing to note is that while only Major/Minor skills contribute toward leveling-up, Misc skill increases still count toward your multipliers. Because of this, it is wise to focus some time and training on Misc skills governed by attributes you'd like to increase in order to level most efficiently. (Essentially, try to always get three 5x multipliers at each level-up.)
Two skills that are best avoided as Major/Minor skills, regardless of class, are Athletics and Acrobatics. Both increase naturally as you run, swim, and jump, which can lead to inefficient leveling.
While your skills will increase through use as you play, you can also purchase training from an NPC. Each NPC trainer can only train you to their skill level in a given skill, after which you've Surpassed the Teacher. Each skill also has a "master trainer" somewhere in the game, who can train you all the way to the Cap of 100.
As training becomes more expensive and high-level trainers harder to find as your skills increase, one option to exploit the system is to use a Drain (Skill) spell or enchantment. As the cost of training is calculated off of your current level in that skill (rather than your base level), you can use this effect to lower a skill's level. For example, say you have a Long Blade skill level of 60. You create a spell that drains Long Blade on Self by 50 points. Go to a trainer who can train you to level 50 in Long Blade, then pay for (very cheap) training from level 10 to 50. When the "Drain" effect wears off, you'll now be at the cap of 100 despite spending far less money and without the need to seek out the Long Blade master trainer.
Additionally, a tip when it comes to skill books - try to save them for as long as you can. They are fairly easy to identify because they are worth considerably more (100-250 gold) than non-skill books. If you find one while out adventuring, it is recommended that you add it to your inventory using the menu, rather than interacting with it directly (which will automatically open it up and count it as "read", giving you the skill increase). You can then set it down and use it later, when its associated skill is at a much higher level and, thus, harder to increase. This also allows you to be more judicious with your skill increases and attribute multipliers when leveling up.
Another easy way to increase your skills is through Cherry Tapping. For example, striking an enemy five times with a low-quality Iron Dagger will increase your Short Blade skill more than one-shotting that enemy with an elite Daedric Dagger. This can be used in reverse to level up your armor skills. Simply put on the type of armor you wish to increase, find a weak foe like a rat or mudcrab, and allow them to cherry tap you for a while.
Magical skills are also easy to increase in this fashion through the use of custom spells. For example, create a custom spell of 1 point Fire Damage on Self and 1 point of Restore Health on Self. Because it is so weak, it will be cheap to create and cheap to cast in terms of magicka use, but it will simultaneously increase both your Destruction and Restoration skills. Use it until you're out of magicka, rest for one hour, repeat until satisfied.
As mentioned above, it is generally advisable to have only one melee weapon skill as a Major/Minor skill. To reduce frustration for a newcomer, try to make it a "Major" skill in addition to choosing a weapon type that gets a boost from your character's race. (For example, a Nord with Axe as a Major skill will start out with a respectable 45 skill level in Axe.) Aim to get at least 40+ as your starting skill level and misses due to poor "dice rolls" will be drastically reduced.
Furthermore, if you look at any melee weapon, you'll notice that there are three "types" of attack - chop, slash, and thrust. Axes logically have higher "chop" damage while thrusting weapons like spears and most daggers have higher "thrust" damage. Your attack type is determined by the way your character is moving when the attack is initiated. Standing still results in a chop, moving side-to-side results in a slash, and moving forward/back results in a thrust. If you find yourself struggling, there is an option in the settings menu to "always use best attack". Simply select that option and, no matter how you are moving, the weapon's most damaging attack will be executed.
Additionally, unlike later games in the series, blocking is not an active maneuver for the player. Instead, if your character is holding a shield, there is chance they will automatically block the incoming attack based on their skill level and the positioning of the enemy's blow. A higher "Block" skill level increases the chances of a successful block.
There are also multiple types of ranged weapon. Bows and crossbows are fairly self explanatory, firing arrows and bolts, respectively. In addition, there are several varieties of thrown weapon, including darts, stars, and throwing knives.
Unlike later games, projectiles play No "Arc" in "Archery" straight. (One exception is if you fire an arrow from a bow before the bow is fully drawn, the arrow will noticeably tumble in the air.) As such, there is no need to account for the arrow dropping at long ranges.
That said, there are some other quirks when it comes to aiming. Arrows fire perfectly straight in line with the crosshair...as long as the race of the character doing the shooting is at the base "height" of 1.00 (the height of all Dunmer and Imperials, male Bretons and Khajiit, as well as female Redguards, Argonians, and Bosmer). Taller races (including Altmer, Nords, Orcs, male Argonians, and male Redguards) will notice arrows "drop" a little relative to the crosshair once fired while shorter races (male Bosmer, female Bretons, and female Khajiit) will instead notice the arrow "rise" a little.
Medium armor is unfortunately plagued by a lack of high-end options. One of the better vanilla medium armor types, Indoril, is also held sacred by the Ordinators who will attack you on sight if you wear it in their presence. Tribunal adds Adamantium armor as a high-end medium armor, but the only way to get the full set (without murder) is to tediously collect the ore in the sewers/ruins beneath Mournhold then pay an absurdly high price to a particular smith to craft it. There is also only a single piece of "legendary" medium armor in the game, the Ebony Mail, which can only be acquired near the very end of the Tribunal Temple questline. (Light and Heavy armors have multiple legendary options for cuirasses, boots, and gauntlets.) As such, unless you are role-playing or intentionally challenging yourself, medium armor is best avoided.
Additionally, there is the Unarmored skill. By definition, any armor "slots" on your body which aren't covered (slots including the head, chest, shoulders, arms, legs, and feet) by armor default to the Unarmored skill. This skill is handy to both mages as well as thief-types who feel too encumbered even in light armor. Unfortunately, the skill is also bugged. Unless you are wearing at least one piece of armor, the game treats your armor rating as being zero, regardless of your Unarmored skill (though it will still show an armor rating value in the inventory window). Cloth bracers, due to being extremely light, are a favorite means of combating this. If you're into Conjuration magic, you can also summon a (weightless) "Bound" armor piece when needed.
Common diseases are, well, the most common. These can be spread to you by any creature labeled "Diseased" either when being struck by an attack from that creature, or when accessing the deceased creature's inventory. Each drains a different Attribute or set of Attributes by anywhere from 10-40 points which will persist until cured. Common diseases can be cured by a potion, spell, scroll, or enchantment with the "Cure Common Disease" effect. Additionally, you can go to any Imperial Cult or Tribunal Temple altar to recieve a blessing which cures the disease.
Blight diseases are less common but more devastating. They can be spread to you by any creature labeled "Blighted", as well as by any of Dagoth Ur's "Ash" minions. Blight diseases are much more crippling that common diseases, dropping the affected Attributes by 40 points. Blight diseases can be cured by a potion, spell, scroll, or enchantment with the "Cure Blight Disease" effect. Additionally, you can go to any Imperial Cult or Tribunal Temple altar to recieve a blessing which cures the disease.
Corprus disease is a Mystical Plague channeled by Dagoth Ur from the heart of a dead god. As such, it is the most devastating disease in Morrowind. Thankfully, you cannot catch it directly from Corprus beasts. There is no known cure and it will be a plot point during the main quest.
Vampirism and Lycanthropy are both transformative diseases which are similar in their initial symptoms. Both start out as mild, easily cured common diseases (Porphyric Hemophilia and Sanies Lupinus, respectively). If not cured in three days, however, the disease grows turning you into a Vampire or Werewolf. As a side effect of these diseases is immunity to all other diseases, they are mutually exclusive.note Getting cured at that point is much more difficult and requires the completion of associated quests.
Silt striders are giant flea-like arthropods used by the native Dunmer for transport over land. Silt striders link most of the major settlements in the western and southern portions of Vvardenfell. For a relatively small fee, you can use their service to travel between any linked settlements.
Boat transportation links most of the major coastal settlements around the island. For a few, such as Dagon Fel, boat is the only fast travel method available. Like silt striders, you can pay a small fee to travel between linked settlements.
It should be noted that both of these methods cause time to pass while using them, relative to the length of the trip you are taking. There are no true Timed Missions in the vanilla game in which this would matter, but there are still instances where it has an impact such as the progression of a certain disease and the fact that long-term spell effects may wear off in transit.
The Mages Guild offers "Guild Guide" services which will instantly transport you (for a fee) to any other Mages Guild hall. Unlike the above methods of travel, no time passes when using a Guild Guide.
Similarly, there are the Propylon Chambers in the old Dunmer strongholds which form a rough circle around Vvardenfell. If you can find the matching Propylon Index, you can use them to instantly transport to one of the neighboring strongholds. Given their remote locations as well as the well-hidden nature of the Indices, these aren't very efficient but do have their uses such as being a vampire (where all other fast travel options are unavailable) and a specific Tribunal Temple quest which requires traversing the island after taking a vow of silence. (Assuming you already have the Index needed, you don't need to speak to anyone to use the Propylon Chambers,) A free DLC, Master Index, adds a quest which guides you to each Propylon Index and allows them to be combined into the eponymous "Master Index", while also allowing you to transport from the Caldera Mages Guild Guide to any of the strongholds.
Magic also offers several options for quickly traversing Vvardenfell. The School of Mysticism offers three options including Divine Intervention (which will teleport you to the nearest Imperial Cult shrine), Almsivi Intervention (which teleports you to the nearest Tribunal Temple), and the Mark/Recall set of spells which work by casting "Mark", and then casting "Recall" to return to that exact spot. Each of these is available in both scrolls and as an enchantment effect as well if you aren't so magically inclined.
Jump and Levitation spells are available through the Alteration school of magic. These allow you to jump and fly through the air, respectively, with the spell's power dictating how far/fast you move. These are also available through scrolls, potions, and enchantments.
Once you've finished creating your character and have picked up your release papers from Socucius Ergalla, you are all but free. We say "all but" because you have one tremendous advantage until you provide your papers to Sellus Gravius and get your official release - you will not be arrested or made to pay fines for crimes. In addition to the low-level Starting Equipment you can pick up for free in the next room, you can steal additional valuable items right in front of the NPCs without penalty.
The room with Socucius Ergalla and the lone Imperial Guard includes the valuable Limeware Platter, as well as several books and silver candlesticks. Simply bring up the menu, select the item, then drop it onto the ground. (If you add them directly to your inventory, they will be confiscated by the guard.) You'll be reprimanded by the guard, but will not be punished otherwise. Pick the items back up when you're done and they're yours!
You can also do this in the room with Sellus Gravius which includes additional dinnerware, candles, and alcoholic beverages. Additionally, there is a key on the shelf behind Gravius to the Census and Excise Warehouse. Steal it in the same fashion and you can then use it to loot even more goods from there. Just remember to also set down any items you stole from the first room, or they will be confiscated. By taking everything of value from these areas, you should have around 1000 gold worth of goods, more than enough to get you started on the right foot.
One of the items you get for free is the Engraved Ring of Healing. Once you're released, one of the first NPCs you'll see in town is a Bosmer named Fargoth. Speak to him and he'll reveal that the town guards like to shake him down and steal his things, including that ring. Give it back to him (don't worry, you can get it back later) to get not only a massive disposition boost with him, but his good friend Arrille, who just so happens to be the town's only trader, thus making prices better for you.
If you stole the key to the warehouse and still have some carrying capacity, head there now. A lone guard patrols both floors, so time your stealing so that he is out of sight. The crates, chests, and sacks in the "tower" portion will have random leveled loot, including weapons, pieces of armor, and ingredients. A container on the upper floor always spawns 200 iron arrows, which will be quite useful if you're planning to utilize archery.
Another worthwhile area to loot is the Lighthouse. There is a single NPC on the first level who doesn't move, so everything on the upper floors is yours for the taking. The most valuable item is an Unarmed skill book near the second floor door.
Once satisfied with your haul of loot, head over to Arrille's Tradehouse. Sell everything you've acquired which you don't wish to use. If you've raised his disposition by giving Fargoth his ring, have a naturally high Personality attribute, and/or are an Altmer yourself, your selling prices might be so good that he won't have enough gold to buy all of the items you're trying to sell. He does have some useful items to acquire in bartering to make up the difference. If you're a Light Armor user, he has a nearly full set of Chitin armor which is great for starting out. In terms of Heavy Armor, he's got a mix of Iron and Steel. The Chitin Bow he sells is the only bow around Seyda Neen, so grab it if you're into archery. If you still have some gold leftover, grab a Scroll of Almsivi Intervention (a teleportation scroll which will allow you to get out of a dangerous situation or haul more loot than you can normally carry) and/or a Scroll of Ondusi's Unhinging (which will unlock anything up to a lock level of 50). For a magic-oriented character, he also sells basic Destruction spells in each of the Fire, Ice, Lightning trio and the ever valuable Hearth Heal spell.
Once outfitted to your satisfaction, head upstairs and find the Nord Hriskarr Flat-Foot. Hriskarr will give you a short quest to locate Fargoth's hiding place and recover some gold. Follow the instructions, locate the hiding place, and loot it to get back the Engraved Ring of Healing, a lockpick, and 300 gold. By simply not returning to Hriskarr, you can keep all of the gold. (If you don't like unfinished quests cluttering up your journal, return later when you have plentiful gold and turn in the quest.)
Another easy quest in Seyda Neen can be initiated by finding the body of Processus Vitellius, a local tax collector, to the northwest of town. Report his murder to any guard and you'll be instructed to speak with Socucius Ergalla. Ergalla will ask if you recovered Vitellius' tax money (say yes) and then task you with finding the murderer and bringing him to justice. Asking around will point you to Vitellius' girlfriend, Thavere Vedrano, who mentions seeing Vitellius get into an altercation with Foryn Gilnith. Confront Gilnith, who will admit to the murder saying that Vitellius as corrupt as justification, then tell him that you plan to turn him into the guards. He'll attack, so you can kill him. Recover Vitellius' Ring, which is Exquisite Quality, and return it to Vedrano for two Health Potions. You can then turn in the quest to Ergalla for 500 gold. Furthermore, you can then use Gilnith's shack as a Player Headquarters for sleeping and storage while in the area.
If you're ready for more combat, head across the bridge out of town to the northeast. Not far from the main road, you can see the entrance to Addamasartus, a smuggler's den. Inside are three level one smugglers who you should be able to dispatch without much difficulty. (The toughest of the three knows a ranged fire spell which can kill you in a single hit if your race doesn't resist fire or magic. However, he will run out of magicka after casting it twice and it's easy to dodge, so side-step the spell and then move in for an easy kill.) The cave has three slaves to free, several storage containers to loot, and a hidden chamber accessible along a ledge or by swimming underwater. The hidden chamber contains an enchanted Thief Ring, which is useful for stealth-oriented characters. The cave also contains a reasonable quantity of the Fantastic Drugs Moon Sugar and Skooma, which are quite valuable but can only be sold to Khajiiti merchants. (Take them and hang onto them until you get to Balmora, where you can easily sell them to Ra'Virr. Other merchants won't do business with if you if you have them in your inventory, but you can easily just set them on the ground and pick them back up when you're done.)
You've now covered most of what there is to do in and immediately around Seyda Neen, so it may be tempting to hop onto the Silt Strider and head for Balmora. Resist that temptation and instead take the road north of town to get there on foot. Before you go, if you aren't a magic user, make sure you acquire a silver or enchanted weapon. Arrille sells a silver staff and shortsword, while an enchanted axe can be found in a tree stump near the lighthouse. If you prefer a longsword, take the north path. After a short hike along the road, you'll hear an NPC cry out and then crash into the ground from a great height. Loot his corpse for three Scrolls of Icarian Flight (save those for now) and an enchanted iron sword.
Keep following the path northwest until it goes over a small rise. Here, head off the road to the left along the coast. Follow the coast and, to the east, you'll soon see the door to the Samarys Ancestral Tomb. Unless you've been doing some Level Grinding around Seyda Neen, you will only face two weak undead enemies inside, usually an Ancestral Ghost and a Skeleton. The ghost can only be harmed by silver or enchanted weapons, or by spells. Dispatch them both (or sneak past) to the final room. There, you'll find an urn containing the ashes of a "Lord Brinne", the key to the chest found next to the urn, and most importantly, the Disc-One Nuke Mentor's Ring. The ring increases your Intelligence and Willpower by 10 points each, enhancing both your spellcasting abilities and your spell resistance, so it is useful for all character types.
Head back to the road and continue to follow the signs toward Balmora. About halfway along the Odai River, you'll see a rope bridge to the western side. Go northeast opposite the bridge toward the hills to find the Vassir-Didanat Cave, an abandoned mine. Step inside, but don't go any deeper, as it is full of tough foes who will destroy a low-level character. Nothing will happen at this time, but setting foot inside will allow you to report the mine's location in exchange for a very valuable item after you get to Balmora.
Return to the road and follow it to Balmora. From here, there a number of things you can do in any order you choose which are all quite valuable. A short list:
- Make sure you have a means of picking a level 50 lock, such as a Scroll of Ondusi's Unhinging (available for purchase almost anywhere that sells scrolls), then head to the Mages Guild. Use the Guild Guide transport service to go to Vivec. Head for the St. Olms Canton Plaza. There, enter the "Haunted Manor". Pick or use a scroll/spell to open the level 50 locked door. Speak to Hlaalu Councilor Dram Bero and report the location of the Vassir-Didanat Cave. He'll reward you with your choice of Daedric weaponry, which will carry you into the late stages of the game (and further if you enchant it).
- Head to Ra'Virr's store and sell him the Moon Sugar and Skooma from Addamasartus for a hefty profit. Or, if you'd prefer, drop it on the ground near him to save for later. In your travels, as you acquire more, pile it up and, once you have enough, trade it to Ra'Virr for one of his "Fiend" weapons. These are enchanted to allow you to summon a Daedric-quality "Bound" version of the weapon, which is weightless and be resummoned whenever you need it.
- Buy the extremely valuable Mark and Recall spells. Given the game's lack of fast travel, these will be incredibly helpful in getting around the island quickly. The spells can be most readily purchased from two different merchants in the basement of the Balmora Temple.
- Join the Fighters and Mages Guilds. Even if you don't plan on advancing in those factions, joining gets you a disposition boost with their merchants and trainers, while also giving you access to their supply chests which can be looted for free and respawn every in-game month.
- Buy the Dwemer Jinksword from Wayn at the Balmora Fighters Guild. Even if Short Blade isn't a specialty of yours, the cast-on-strike Paralysis enchantment will be a major boon for you over the next several hours of gameplay.
- Steal the Sword of White Woe from Balmora's eastern guard tower. There is a guard present who will arrest you if he catches you, but he has a blind spot near the foot of the bed. Simply jump up, grab the sword, and it's yours. It is an enchanted Ebony Broadsword which will carry you into the middle portions of the game with ease.
- If you need some quick cash, feel free to loot any of the outdoor crates and urns around Balmora. Most contain nothing more than Vendor Trash, but even that still sells for a few gold a piece and there are dozens of chests, meaning it adds up fast.
Once you've acquired some quality gear and lined your pockets with some easy gold, head over to Caius Cosades' House to begin the main quest...
If you are not yet at least level 4, Caius will comment on how "green" you are and offer you 200 free gold. He also has a massive amount of conversation topics available. Not only does this provide you with useful information on the game world (particularly the various joinable factions), but it causes them to appear in the dialogue options of other characters which can lead to additional information as well as add some locations to your map.
Caius will advise you to go join some of the game's other guilds and factions in order to keep up an identity as a freelance adventurer, as well as gain experience and earn gold. While this is definitely a good idea, you can put it off for now if you're feeling good about your character build (especially if you've taken our advice in the above section) as the first two missions Caius gives are relatively easy. We'll cover them both here.
His first assignment is to visit an informant in the Balmora Fighters Guild, Hasphat Antabolis, to gather information on two cults active in Vvardenfell - the Nerevarine Cult and the Sixth House Cult. Antabolis knows of them...but he wants a favor before he'll reveal this information. Specifically, he wants a particular Dwemer Puzzle Box from the nearby ruin of Arkngthand.
It is a short jaunt from Balmora, past Fort Moonmoth. There is a bridge over the volcanic foyada which is guarded by a surprisingly tough battlemage named Snowy Granius, who will summon a skeleton when he sees you and knows a variety of other damaging spells. If you haven't ventured too far off the main path, he very well may be the toughest encounter you've had.
Once you're to the ruin itself, you'll need to use the crank next to the door in order to gain entry. Inside, you'll encounter a number of low-level bandits who are really only dangerous if manage to aggro several at one time.
Arkngthand is a relatively large ruin with multiple sections, but you only need to explore one to find what you need: the Cells of Hollow Hand. Here you'll find the bandit leader, Boss Crito. He's somewhat more challenging than the other bandits, but no more so than Snowy Granius. Once defeated, you can grab the Dwemer Puzzle Box from the bottom of a set shelves in the same room as Crito. In terms of other loot, there are plenty of valuable Dwemer objects to take, as well as Dwemer coins. A Dwarven Spear can be found in the main area just outside the door to the Cells of Hollow Hand. The various chests and "kegs" also spawn random gemstones and minerals, so they are worth checking as well. When you're satisfied (or you've reached your encumbrance limit), head back to Antabolis who will provide you with reports to take back to Caius.
Later, you can return to Antabolis who will give you a key he created using the instructions in the puzzle box. This will unlock a door to deeper areas of Arkngthand, though there are much stronger enemies in those areas as well, so it is best to put this off until you're stronger.
Seeking additional information on the Nerevarine Cult, Caius' next assignment has you visit an informant in the Balmora Mages Guild, Sharn gra-Muzgob. As before, she wants a favor before she hands over the information - she wants a specific skull from the Andrano Ancestral Tomb.
The nearest town to the tomb is Pelagiad, which has no fast travel services. The quickest way to get there is to take the silt strider from Balmora to Seyda Neen, then head northeast. Conversely, if you have a means to cast Divine Intervention, you can cast it as soon as you are in Seyda Neen to teleport to Pelagiad.
The tomb itself is lightly defended by a few low-level undead. In fact, the "lesser" Bonewalker and two "crippled" Skeletons here are unique to this tomb. Defeat them, collect the skull, and return it to Sharn. The tomb doesn't have much in the way of other loot save the unique Dagger of Judgement, an enchanted chitin dagger, as well as a skill book (one of the 36 Lessons of Vivec).
In exchange for the skull, Sharn will give you notes to take back to Caius. If you're particularly sneaky and can manage to open the lock, you can open the chest next to Sharn and acquire her copy of Legions of the Dead, an illegal book on necromancy. Show it to Sharn and, in order to keep you quiet, she'll agree to teach you a free summoning spell.
After returning the notes to Caius, he will promote you to Blades Apprentice. Make sure you speak to him about your new rank in order to acquire some free scrolls. He will also suggest taking some time to go train on your own before returning to him for more missions. They do get more difficult from here, so it is wise to take his advice.
Once you feel prepared, return to him to continue with the main quest.
- The Great Houses of the Dunmer (mutually exclusive):
- House Hlaalu - A progressive, Imperial-aligned Great House favoring traders, merchants, politicians, thieves, and assassins. Balmora is their seat in Vvardenfell, though most of the councilors are found in and around Vivec.
- House Redoran - A conservative, Temple-aligned Great House favoring warriors, crusaders, and other manners of honorable professions. Ald-Ruhn is their seat in Vvardenfell, with all of their councilors found in the Under-Skar manor district.
- House Telvanni - A hyper-conservative, largely independent Great House favoring mages, wizards, and other manners of magical profession. Sadrith Mora is their seat in Vvardenfell, though their councilors are spread out with their own settlements along the eastern coast of the island.
- The Imperial Guilds:
- Fighters Guild - A mercenary organization for those of the martial persuasion, offering combat training as well as assignments including bounty hunting, creature extermination, bodyguarding, and debt collection.
- Mages Guild - A scholarly organization for those of the magican persuasion, offering magical services as well as assignments researching magical topics.
- Thieves Guild - An criminal organization for those of a shadowy persuasion, offering stealth training as well as assignments involving theft, blackmail, and various rackets.
- Imperial Legion - The main fighting force of the Empire of Tamriel. Your duties will include eliminating threats to Imperial interests in Vvardenfell as well as rescue operations.
- Morag Tong - A native Dunmeri guild of legal assassins, commissioned by the Dunmeri government as an alternative to destructive open warefare between the Great Houses. They offer "writs of execution" for their agents to dispatch individuals targeted for assassination.
- Tribunal Temple - The native Dunmeri church in service to the Tribunal, the trio of Physical Gods revered by the Dunmer people. Their quests involve pilgrimages, healing the sick, and, at higher levels, dispatching blasphemers and abominations.
- Imperial Cult - A branch of the mainstream religion of the Empire (the Church of the Nine Divines) active in Morrowind. They perform services for the faithful such as acquiring donations, dispatching low-level threats, and, at higher levels, investigating the visions of high-ranking church members.
- East Empire Company (Bloodmoon) - A monopolistic merchant organization. Their focus in Solstheim is to establish the Raven Rock ebony mining colony.
Aside from the mutually exclusive Great Houses, you can join and advance in them all. Some, such as the Mages Guild to House Telvanni and the the Fighters Guild to the Thieves Guild, have rivalries which affect the disposition of members. This is largely a minor annoyance, though high-level quests for the Mages and Fighters Guilds, if certain options are taken, will make it impossible to join and advance in rival factions. These are quite obvious when they come up, and the related quests offer much less destructive alternatives which you should take instead if you wish to join the opposing faction in the future.
Unlike Oblivion and Skyrim, the factions all have "favored" Attributes and Skills. Certain levels in each are required in order to advance to higher ranks. This makes it impossible for say, a barbarian to brute force his way into becoming Archmage of the Mages guild simply by completing the questline.
When starting out, it is advisible to join (at least) one of the three Imperial Factions with a guild hall in Balmora. The initial quest givers for each here offer the easiest missions while still being quite rewarding. As you complete quests and rise in rank, the disposition of your fellow members will also increase, giving you better prices with merchants as well as cheaper training costs. As mentioned under "Easing into the Adventure" above, the Fighters and Mages Guilds both have "supply chests". By joining, even without completing a single mission, you can take all of the useful items within.
The Mages Guild in particular offers an early opportunity to steal several extremely valuable filled soul gems with a very minor downside. After joining the guild, you'll be directed to resident alchemist Ajira for your first set of quests. Her first involves collecting four types of mushroom native to Vvardenfell. She suggests searching the swamps southwest of Balmora, but an even easier option is to take the silt strider to Seyda Neen instead. All four types can be found so close by that you won't even lose sight of the settlement. Return these and get her second quest - "Fake Soul Gem". You see, Ajira has as a bet with Balmora Mages Guild resident enchanter Galbedir about who will rise to the Journeyman rank first. Ajira wants your help sabotaging Galbedir, who Ajira will call downstairs away from her second floor desk. You are tasked with replacing a real soul gem in the desk with a fake provided by Ajira...but several other filled soul gems are present, including a Grand Soul Gem containing the soul of a Winged Twilight, worth 60,000 gold. With no on else present, you can help yourself to all of the soul gems, as well as the valuable Limeware Platter they sit on.
There is one unfortunate downside to this - due to a quirk in the game's engine, Galbedir will now recongize ALL soul gems as belonging to her and thus, stolen. You'll no longer be able to use her enchanting service...but you can simply head to the Guild Guide in the basement to teleport to any other Mages Guild Hall and use the enchanting service there when needed. Additionally, any soul gems you are carrying if you are arrested for a crime will be confiscated as stolen due to the same engine quirk. Luckily, all guards in the game fail their spot checks. Before you turn yourself in to a guard, simply drop any "stolen" (legitimately or bugged) items on the ground. Pay your fine, then pick the items back up. If you are confronted by a guard before being able to set the items down, resist arrest. Your bounty will increase slightly and the guard will attack, but you can run away, set the items down, and turn yourself into a different guard in order to clear your bounty while keeping the "stolen" items. A mild inconvenience compared to the nuke-level fortune the soul gems are worth.
- The Lady's Ring - Take a silt strider from Balmora to Ald-Ruhn, then to Khuul. From there, head southwest along the trail to the tiny fishing village of Ald Velothi. Continue southwest along the road and you'll come upon a Breton woman named Synette Jeline. She has dropped her ring into the small pond below and wants your help getting it back. If your character is male, she will also flirt a little and drop hints about just how she'll reward you for getting it back. The ring can be challenging to spot in the murky water, made even hard if it is at night or raining. The ring is near the second plant from the south edge of the pond. Once you grab it, however, Synette springs a trap. She and her nearly invisible archer friend will attack. Neither is especially tough, especially in a close-quarters fight, so charge at them out of the pond while they use their ranged weapons and cut them down. Claim the Amulet of Shadows from Synette's accomplice as your own. When used, it will grand you 80 points of Chameleon for 60 seconds, essentially making you invisible. It will give you a tremendous advantage in combat as well as allow you to sneak past many foes.
- Boethiah's Quest - Most of the game's Daedric quests are too challenging for a low-level character. Boethiah's, however, can potentially be completed without entering combat a single time. To get the quest, travel to Hla Oad, a tiny fishing village southwest of Balmora. It is a short enough hike on foot, but you can also take a silt strider to Vivec and then from there, a boat to Hla Oad. Once there, head northwest. You'll find an island with the Daedric ruin Ashurnibibi. Challenging enemies may spawn there, so skirt around the perimeter of the ruin to avoid them. Hop into the ocean and swim west-northwest. At the bottom of the sea, you'll see the remains of another Daedric ruin. There is a chance for water-based creatures to spawn here, including Dreugh which will be a tough fight for a low-level character. Hopefully none spawn, but if they do, kill or avoid them as you swim down to the ruin. Find the head of the collapsed statue to speak with Boethiah and begin the quest. He wants you to rebuild his shrine, and needs you to find a sculptor to do so. Head to Caldera (the Mages Guild Guide service can send you there instantly) and then find Ghorak Manor, an Orc mansion. On the third floor is a sculptor, Duma gro-Lag, who agrees to build the statue but needs 2000 gold and the book Boethiah's Glory. If you've followed our "Easing into the Adventure" tips above or the "Making Money" tips below, you should have plenty of gold to cover the cost. The book, however, can only be found in one place - Jobasha's Rare Books in Vivec. (Pro tip: Any quest which involves buying a book will likely involve a visit to Jobasha's.) Use the Guild Guide to zap to Vivec, purchase the book, and then return. Duma tells you that he will rebuild the statue at Khartag Point, northwest of the village of Gnaar Mok, but that it will take him "several weeks" to do so. Leave the manor (otherwise Duma won't leave and the timer won't start), then go about your business. (You can also just go outside and use the Wait function if you'd prefer.) After 21 in-game days, the shrine will be completed. Activate it to speak with Boethiah again, who will reward you with Goldbrand, a legendary katana enchanted with fire damage. It is one of the best one-handed weapons in the entire game.
- Pemenie and the Boots of Blinding Speed - Head to Caldera, most easily accessed via the Mages Guild Guide service. Take the road to the northwest and you'll come upon a Redguard trader named Pemenie. She'll ask you to escort her to Gnaar Mok and offers you her enchanted boots in exchange for your services. Complete her request (or simply kill her) to get the boots, known as the Boots of Blinding Speed. In Exactly What It Says on the Tin fashion, the boots increase your Speed Attribute by 200 points...but also afflict you with 100% blindness when worn. They may seem like a Joke Item, but a little Magicka Resistance (via spell, racial ability such as that of the Bretons, or by another enchantment) turns them into a Lethal Joke Item. The reason you don't want 100% magic resistance to completely negate the blindness is that, due to another bug, blindness INCREASES your chance to hit in combat (instead of decreasing it like intended). The only downside is slightly darker screen, which can be fixed by increasing your television's/computer's brightness.
- The Matchmaker - If you have the Tribunal expansion installed, you may be attacked in your sleep at any time by a Dark Brotherhood assassin. If you are able to defeat the assassin, which is difficult because of their quality armor and enchanted weapon but quite possible as they scale to your level, you can begin Tribunal's main quest in order to reach Mournhold. Once there, seek out Marena Gilnith in the Great Bazaar area. She's too busy with work to find a husband, so she asks you to set her up with a man. There are several options, but head to the shop of Sunel Hlas in the Great Bazaar. Before speaking with him, save your game. This is important. Then speak with Hlas to find out that he's a widower and will reluctantly agree to go on a date with Marena. Once you've set the date up, speak with Hlas again and bring up Marena's name. You'll get three options in terms of advice for the date, so choose "be optimistic". At this point, it is a Luck-Based Mission. By giving Hlas the advice, you've increased the odds of success to maximum of 67%. Wait an in-game day then speak to Hlas. If the date was a success, he'll be very happy and will gift you with the Bi-Polar Blade. As befitting its name, it has two enchantments which cancel each other out. However, the blade's base damages are on-par with the game's other "legendary" two-handed swords (which are only available at the end of lengthy faction questlines). If the date failed, reload your save and try again. Almost everything else in Mournhold will be too difficult for you at this point, but return with the blade to Vvardenfell and easily defeat most enemies for the next several hours of gameplay.
Other Useful Information
- Restocking Alchemy Ingredients Exploit - Head to the Caldera Mages Guild Hall (most easily done using the Guild Guide service). Head to the top of the tower section of the building to find a complete set of Master's Alchemy equipment. Steal it and then head to Balmora, then go to Nalcarya of White Haven's Alchemy shop. She has infinitely restocking supplies of Kwama Cuttle and Slaughterfish Scales for scale, as well as 3000 gold to barter with. Buy as much of the cuttle and scales as you can, then use your alchemy equipment to turn them into Potions of Water Walking. The potions are worth far more than the price of the ingredients, so sell them to Nalcarya and repeat the process. The only thing preventing this from becoming an infinite source of gold is that you need to wait 24 in-game hours for Nalcarya's gold to restock. She also isn't the only merchant who can be abused in this fashion (though she does have the most gold out of those who are easily accessible). You'll never need to worry about money again.
- Creeper and the Mudcrab Merchant - The two wealthiest merchants in the vanilla game aren't even NPCs. In Caldera's Ghorak Manor, you can find the non-hostile Scamp known as Creeper. He has 5000 gold for bartering and, being a creature, doesn't have a Mercantile skill or Disposition, so he buys and sells everything for the item's base cost. He is also only a short distance away from one of the Mages Guild Guide stops. On a remote island in the Azura's Coast region (just east of the Dwemer ruin Mzahnch), you can find the Mudcrab Merchant. Like Creeper, he is a creature and thus buys/sells at base value. He also has a whopping 10,000 gold for bartering. His remote location makes him less appealing than Creeper despite his larger supply of gold, but this can be fixed using a "Command Creature" spell. As the Mudcrab Merchant is only level one, the casting the weakest variant of the spell will cause him to follow you. Simply guide him somewhere more convenient to you. You can even use this trick to bring both he and Creeper to same area, allowing you easy access to unload goods for up to 15,000 gold a day.
- "Item Stack" Exploit - By selling duplicate items individually rather than selling the whole stack at once, you will get more more out of the transaction. For example, say you have a stack of 100 arrows worth 1 gold each. If you sell all 100 arrows at once, you'll get less than 100 gold. Sell each arrow individually, however, and you'll get the full 100 gold.
- The Redoran Treasury - If done correctly, you can loot one vault of the Redoran Treasury in Vivec without risk of combat or crime. First, head to the Plaza level of the Redoran Canton in Vivec. There, enter Dralor Manor and find the bedrooms. In one of the dressers, you'll find a key to the Redoran vaults which are in the same Plaza. Go inside and head down to the Lower Vault. They key will unlock the door and no one will react to your tresspassing. Simply wait for the patrolling Ordinators to exit the area, then close the door. (Despite being made up of bars instead of solid, NPCs cannot see through the door.) Here, you can take everything not nailed down to either sell or use. Included are pieces of Ebony and Glass armor, several pieces of enchanted lesser armor, a number of high quality weapons including Glass, Ebony, and the enchated Dwarven Claymore Foeburner. Keep what you wish to use and sell the rest for immense profit.
- Always keep a means of teleportation handy (Almsivi/Divine Intervention Mark/Recall). If you ever get in over your head, use it to zap back to civilization. They can also be used to move more loot than you could normally carry.
- Greater Bonewalkers aren't a particularly tough foe in a straight fight, but they have an agonizing Damage Strength spell. Note that says "Damage" and not "Drain". Drained Attributes return to normal once the spell wears off. Damaged Attributes can only be cured by a "Restore <Attribute>" spell or an altar blessing. If your Strength is damaged, you may find yourself overencumbered and thus, unable to move in the middle of the fight, making you a sitting duck. You'll need to dump half your inventory in order to move again, then flee back to civilization to heal. If you're going into an area where Greater Bonewalkers might be present, a Restore Strength potion or scroll may come in handy.
- Before performing any actions, wait for your Fatigue to reach 100%. Obviously this can be tricky in combat, but as long as there are no enemies around, you can afford to wait before picking a lock, brewing a potion, enchanting an item, casting a non-combat spell, etc. A low Fatigue reduces the success probability of these actions.
- Foryn Gilnith's Shack - Completing the quest "Death of a Taxman" as described under "Easing into the Adventure" above grants you access to Foryn Gilnith's shack in Seyda Neen. You can legally rest there and use it to store your goods.
- Caius Cosades' House - Once you've joined the Blades, you can use Caius' bed to rest and use his house for storage. There are stairs leading to the roof of the house outside, which can also be used to store items. (You can leave them laying without fear of them being stolen or despawned.) After a certain point in the main quest, Caius will specifically leave his house to you.
- Balmora Council Club - If you ask around Balmora for a "Little Secret", you may be directed to Larrius Varro at Fort Moonmoth. Speaking to him will start the quest "Larrius Varro Tells a Little Story". In it, he will not-so-subtly ask you to kill several members of the Camonna Tong who hang out at the Council Club in Balmora. Although only four of the five present inside need to die, attacking any one of them (without taunting them first) will cause them all to attack. It can be a tough fight with so many foes, but large AOE spells and summoned creatures will even the odds. Once they're all dead, return to Varro who will clear any bounty you may have accrued and will give you a legendary ring as a reward. You can then use the Council Club as a home. The containers are marked as "owned", so any items you place inside will be marked as stolen when you remove them, but there is plenty of counter and table space to use for storage instead. Additionally, there are two beds where you can rest without issue.
- Great House Manor - Progress to the highest levels in any of the three Great House questlines will eventually give you the option of building your own manor. Complete the associated quests to not only get your own house, but also a small settlemente around you including merchants and trainers.
- Velas Manor (Tribunal) - Asking around about the "Latest Rumors" in the Great Bazaar area of Mournhold will eventually start the quest "The Summoner". Like most Tribunal quests, it can be challenging to complete, but doing so allows you to use Velas Manor as your own home while in the city.
- Factor's Estate (Bloodmoon) - After completing the East Empire Company questline, you'll be given the chance to build the Factor's Estate in Raven Rock. It is a large mansion you'll be free to use similar to the Great House manors.
Another is the Morrowind Graphics Extender. Let's face it, for as venerable of a game as Morrowind is, it is nearly 20 years old. Video game graphics technology has improved a thousand fold in that time, so why not apply it to Morrowind?
A great source for others is the Nexus Mods website.