Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 30: Second Coming Conman

Fault’s plan to prove her prophetic status to the ashlander tribes has run into the teeny tiny problem that no one wants to talk to an outsider like her.

Fortunately after many persuasion checks and a more-than-half-serious threat to challenge the local war leader to a duel to the death Fault finally gets an audience with the tribal leader and explains that she’s their reborn hero and it would be really great if everybody believed her.

Fun fact: For historic reasons dark elves absolutely hate Nords making this an even harder sell.

I don’t think I ever spelled any of the elf words properly at any point in this entire Let’s Illustrate.

Of course it’s never that easy. Only the tribal wise woman can confirm whether or not Fault is the neverine but only tribe members are allowed to see her. That means Fault must first prove her worthiness to join the tribe.

But how to prove our worthiness? Well, the nomads are ancestor worshippers and there is a nearby tomb filled with the bodies and the ghosts of their past great warriors. If Fault can enter the tomb and return alive with a certain magic bow it will be taken as proof that the ancestors accept her as a new tribe member.

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 29: Getting There Is NOT Half The Fun

Fault begins her quest to “prove” herself a reincarnated hero by taking a silt strider up north to the ashlands and getting directions to the last known location of the nomadic tribe. It turns out they just live a bit to the north, which is nice. Unfortunately there’s some impassible geography between them and us and the locals instead suggest Fault head to the north-west and fight her way through demon territory until she gets to the ocean at which point she can swim around the obstacle and finally reach the nomads.

Whatever. Bring it. Between Fault’s kung fu and Deadra Burst armor this is no problem.

Not for the first time I find myself wondering WHY outlanders conquered Morrowind in the first place.

This is not the first time I find myself wondering WHY outlanders conquered Morrowind in the first place.

What is a problem is that when Fault finally reaches the tribe nobody wants to talke to her. She’s not even allowed to rest and regain mana unless she hikes over a nearby hill and does it out of sight.

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 28: Horoscope Heroics

Fault gathers up the info she learned from the Ashlands and reports back to Caius who looks over our work and decide’s we are finally ready to hear about the actual plot of the game. The reason the Emperor released Fault and forced her to join the Blades is because she fulfills all of the prophetic requirements of the reborn Morrowind hero. Caius’s job is to make sure Fault keeps fulfilling the prophecy. He originally thought this was just a political maneuver to put an empire agent in charge of a potentially dangerous dark elf cult but it sounds like the emperor really believes this whole prophecy thing might be true!

Not everybody is lucky enough to have a birthday that doubles as a get out of fantasy jail free card

Not everybody is lucky enough to have a birthday that doubles as a get out of fantasy jail free card

Either way our next stop is to visit the nomadic cults and “prove” to them we’re the reborn Neverine. The place they live is apparently absolutely horrible and filled with a plague called “the blight” so Caius sends us to Fort Moonmoth to collect some medical supplies and useful scrolls. Fault, of course, sells the supplies right back to Caius’s contact because this is a no equipment run.

But while she’s there she chats with a priest and finds out about the Imperial Cult. Apparently it’s a join-able faction that appreciates, among other things, conjuration and unarmored fighting. This means they are technically a much better fit for Fault than either the mages or the fighters. Even better their core philosophy is worship of the nine divines and promotion of Truth, Justice and the Imperial Way which sounds roughly a billion times better than the mage’s guild agenda of beating up other mages unless they pay heft guild dues.

Needless to say Fault wastes no time in becoming a proud member of the Imperial Cult (of JUSTICE!) but at this point in the game I’m really in no mood for low level guild quests so who knows if anything will ever come from it.

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 27: Diplomatic Gold Standard

Now that Fault has powered up with some training and custom spells it’s back to Caius who has looked over our reports and decided that we need an informant from the Ashlands since their beliefs about the Neverine differ slightly from more mainstream dark elves. He even has a particular merchant scoped out as a potential ally and gives us 100 gold to buy him a convincing present.

The mage’s guild has a branch in the Ashlands so Fault has no problem getting herself teleported there. It’s a unique looking city full of little round stone huts and plagued by a constant windstorm. Switch to third person view and you’ll even notice that your character is covering their eyes against the storm, which is a nice detail.

Anyways, I’m sure there are lots of subtle ways to figure out how to bribe a merchant but subtle Fault is not so she just approaches the contact and asks him what sort of he gift he might like if a outlander were, theoretically, trying to get on his good side. He admits he’s fond of poetry so Fault heads to a nearby bookstore, gets a recommendation on a few newly released books of poems and BAM we have a new informant who gives us some notes all about the Ashlander nomadic tribes and their obsession with the prophecy of a reincarnated hero.

As a classic adventurer Fault firmly believes all problems can be solved with either violence or gold

As a classic adventurer Fault firmly believes all problems can be solved with either violence or gold

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 26: Indiana Fault And The Temple Of Loot

So back at the guild Fault finally ranks up. That means access to new trainers with better spells none of which she can afford!

But this is a Bethesda fantasy game so there’s bound to be a few treasure filled random dungeons somehwere nearby, right? There are lots of unexplored locations around Bolera and Fault manages to raid a tomb, a cave full of bandits and even accidentally bumps into the back door of that one orc filled volcano temple she cleared out earlier. Out of a sense of curiosity I steal the gems off the alter and this time Fault has enough levels to barely defeat the Deadra Lord that is summoned to defend the alter. He drops pretty good loot.

After dozens of videogames filled with rubies and diamonds the size of your fist real world gems are a little underwhelming.

After hundreds of videogames filled with rubies and diamonds the size of your fist real world gems are a little underwhelming.

Back int town Fault is jut rich enough to prepare herself for her next adventure. Ten ranks of block training should give her +5 to agility next time she levels and help solve her “can’t hit the wide side of a barn” accuracy problem.

It’s then off to the mage’s guild to finally play around with the custom spell system.

Fault has been dilligently gathering more Bound X spells as she adventures and now has the ability to summon a full set of armor. But doing so one piece at a time takes forever and lets the enemies get in a lot of free hits. On the other hand, once she’s properly all magic armored up most fights last less than ten seconds.

So I create a new spell called “Daedra Burst” that summons all four four types of Bound Armor along with a Bound Spear. This would normally cost a lot of mana but by dropping it’s duration down to a mere ten seconds it now costs a mere five mana per cast!

As a bonus the short duration means it will get cast more often which means more conjuration points.

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 25: Protagonists Don’t Get Sick Days

Last time Fault found herself completely broke and stuck on a tiny island. Fortunately since Alteration was one of our starting skills we began the game with “Water walk” and several repeated casts let Fault reach the mainland. Unfortunately the part of the mainland she reaches is volcano territory and infested with Cliff Racers, one of which has fantasy rabies and manages to infect her. Fault is really in no shape to cross a volcano in search of town so instead she carves one teleport spell worth of alchemy ingredients from the corpses of the cliff racers and then water walks back to the island town.

The one bit of good news is that all that water walking finally bumped her alteration score up to 40! She can rank up at the mages guild now and tries to do so when she first teleports into Balmora.

Except it turns out that to reach the next level she has to pay 200 gold worth of dues. Considering that the last person to skip out on dues had a murderous protagonist sent after them we put that on the top of our list of things to do.

So, still suffering from a horrible disease, Fault stumbles back to the cleared out dwarven ruins and loads her pockets up with all the heavy but semi-valuable gears and chunks of scrap she ignored on her first trip. It’s not worth terribly much but she only needs a few hundred gold to get her disease cured at the local temple and then pay for her advancement.

That said it’s hard not to feel at least a little sorry for poor Fault, having to hike several miles with two hundred pounds of scrap metal thrown over her back and a bad case of fantasy flu.

Or possibly a marine if half the stories they tell are true.

Or possibly a marine if half the stories they tell are true.

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 24: Spooooky

Fault has accepted a job to get rid of a ghost that keeps coming back to life no matter how often it’s killed. She kills it anyways just for fun and then goes off to interview the last person who tried to resolve the problem. Frustratingly enough the person we want to talk to does not show up as a conversation topic so it takes a good half hour to find enough hints to track her down. Along the way Fault gets lost and winds up wandering through a Mage Hall instead of the Council Hall she was supposed to, which is OK since the Mage Hall was kind of cool. In a nifty bit of world building Telvani mage halls are giant towers with no stairs. The idea is any competent Telvani mage should at least know how to levitate a few stories making the no stairs solution convenient and efficient for wizards while simultaneously keeping most sales men and random adventurers out.

Anyways, ghost busting. The wizard claims she found no evidence of a trapped spirit at the hotel and that the ghosts are probably being summoned on purpose. Fault follows a hunch, heads back to the mages guild and discovers that the whole “haunting” was a prank being played by a conjurer who had had a lot of trouble getting her immigration papers and was taking minor revenge on the local beuaracrats. She agrees to put an end to the joke but only if you first deliver an official and very sarcastic set of anti-ghost paperwork to the local immigration officer.

I don't have much of an opinion on any of the movies but the Ghostbuster cartoon was a big part of my childhood.

I don’t have much of an opinion on any of the movies but the Ghostbuster cartoon was a big part of my childhood.

Fault’s final reward is a magic ring our build prohibits her from using that doesn’t even sell for enough to afford teleportation back to Balmora. Guess we’ll be walking…

Wow. It turns out this particular town is built on an island. That could be a problem.

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 23: Anti-Escapism

Fault is only five hundred gold or so away from being able to afford the last level of skill training she needs for ranking up in the Mage’s Guild. Unfortunately Balmora is starting to feel sort of tapped out on obvious quests so we have a guild buddy teleport us to the awesomely named “Wolverine Hall” in search of quick cash. It turns out to be a small outpost built in the middle of a city full of crazy mushroom rock houses.

Apparently the place is controlled by the Telvani mages we’ve heard so much about and chatting with them reveals that they are indeed evil, or at least close neighbors to it. They are basically a mage guild where murder and assassination are the official means of advancement.

They also have funny ideas about foreigners and Fault has to spend all of her gold but 1 buying some immigration papers. This game sure has a lot of paperwork!

Pretty much the worst random encounter ever.

Pretty much the worst random encounter ever.

But Fault is here to earn money, not spend it. Her first quest comes from the man who runs the local hotel for foreigners: There’s a ghost haunting one of his rooms. It’s pretty easy to kill but he claims it keeps coming back no matter how often it gets killed. He asked a local mage for help but they couldn’t see anything. That means this quest is now firmly in protagonist territory!

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 22: More Than Meets The Eye

So Caius has given Fault some time off from doing spy work. Unfortunately I’m not 100% sure what to do with that free time.

I guess I want to rank up in the Mage’s Guild in hopes of unlocking higher level summoning magic but to do that I need to raise one of my mage skills to 40. The closest Fault has is Alteration which started at (and still is) 35. So maybe I’ll buy a few new alteration spells and go on a dungeon crawl.

But which dungeon to crawl? Well back at the fighter’s guild the buddy we gave the dwarf puzzle box to says he’s managed to craft a key that will probably unlock the inner depths of the dwarven ruins we were exploring. That sounds fun!

So off we go back to the dwarven ruins where the key gives us access to another half dozen or so rooms. But this time there are no tomb robers. Instead Fault is faced with the ghosts of angry dwarves and a small army of steampunk transforming robots. It’s honestly pretty cool, especially since none of them prove much of a challenge when faced with bound weapons and armor.

It's like a Jack-in-the-Box but instead of playing music it tries to kill you

It’s like a Jack-in-the-Box but instead of playing music it tries to kill you

Our new selection of alteration spells includes one spell for levitating and one spell for unlocking doors and chests. Both get used roughly once which makes me think leveling up alteration without engaging in prohibited grinding might be a little harder than I originally thought.

There doesn’t seem to be any ultimate point to the dungeon besides looting some more dwarf artifacts but loot is a good enough reason for Fault and back in town she cashes things in and dumps it all on several expensive levels of alteration training. This makes up for how hard it is to raise the skill through actual use and puts us well on our way to ranking up in the guild.

Let’s Illustrate Morrowind Part 21: Urban Fantasy

Fault checks in with spymaster Caius and it looks like there are still some unanswered questions about this whole Neverine and Sixth House business. It’s now our job to go to the city of Vinnec and talk to three contacts. This mission is, more than anything, an introduction to the city where the five major political factions of the dark elves all live.

It’s actually a pretty cool place since it’s made up of several giant mega-buildings each dedicated to a different house and filled with it’s own selection of stores and housing. On the other hand it’s a terribly confusing place to explore at first, especially since Fault arrived at night and as a result couldn’t actually see the stairwells leading down to the lower levels of the blocks. This may have lead to her spending a good twenty minutes running in circles trying to figure out how to reach a bridge exactly one floor beneath her.

Once you’ve mastered the local architecture reaching the contacts is pretty easy. One is a lizard man that needs us to persuad some racist dark elves to leave him alone so he can give us his info. Another is a temple priest who we have to meet with secretly to avoid blowing her cover as an informant. The last one is a thief that won’t talk to us until we convince a local tax collector to leave the city and do his job elsewhere.

The only slight complication is that one of the informants suggests Fault should buy a certain rare and mildly illegal book to take back to Caius. Finding a copy is easy enough but the seller wants 150 gold and Fault kind of sort of spent all of her money on training.

Fortunately the local fighters guild is willing to pay money for a simple fetch quest. A local orc was hired to retrieve a certain ring for the fighters guild but appears to have decided to keep it instead. One lucky intimidate check is all it takes to get it back. Unfortunately the pay is only 100 drakes leaving Fault still a little short.

But then on her way to leave the guild she notices the equipment chest, full of basic armor and supplies for loyal new members of the guild. Five minutes later the chest is empty, a nearby merchant has a stack of millitary supplies and Fault can finally afford the book.

So you won't lend me money but you will give me free swords? Hmm...

So you won’t lend me money but you will give me free swords? Hmm…

Was this a gross misuse of Guild resources? Probably. Did Fault care? By that point certainly not.

So what did all that spying lead to anyways? Well, I think I can spy the plot now.

The Neverine is supposed to be a reborn hero who will save Morrowind by, among other things, killing a trio of immortal men turned gods who have ruled over the country for centuries.Unsurprisingly the God-Men are not happy about this.

Over the years lots of people have claimed to be the Neverine but failed to fulfill the prophecies. However there’s a new one running around that has a lot of people convinced this time it’s real. This might explain all the weirdos who keep stopping Fault on the street to talk of the Sixth House.

Back in town Caius gives us a small reward and again suggests we go off and do side quests while he figures out where the plot is going.