Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel Joins the Mages Guild

My second Morrowind session, which was very low key and mostly all about just trying to learn the game mechanics. And also, some derping around with OpenMW–i.e., a port of Morrowind into a more modern game engine which is supposed to play nicer on modern operating systems. This was less successful than I’d hoped.


  • Play date: 8/9/2022
  • Session number in this run: 2
  • Derped around a little with OpenMW, but this did not go well, see below
  • So fuck it, I’ll run vanilla for a while
  • Went back to Pelagiad
  • Found the hot bandit for Maurrie in the tavern
  • Gave Nelos her glove; he gave me a note to give to her
  • You crazy kids be good to one another now! I’m off to Balmora!
  • Killed a rat on the way
  • Passed a fort but did not engage with the place
  • Made it into Balmora
  • Found the cornerclub I was supposed to find, but of course the guy I had to talk to, Caius Cosades, wasn’t actually there; got the proprietor to give me directions
  • Found Caius’ house and discovered oh hey he’s actually a member of the Blades, and I’m going to be his secrent agent, cool
  • But he wanted me to build a cover story before he put me to work, so right then off to freelance for a bit
  • Figured out finally how to get a third person, front side view of my character
  • Hi Mages Guild! Geez, you guys let anybody walk in off the street and join up? You’re way less stringent than the College of Winterhold 😉
  • Pointed at Ajira to get some minor tasks to start building cred in the Guild
  • But before I could find her, tried to sleep in one of the beds I found; got awakened by a loud noise, and then got killed by a random assassin showing up–TWICE
  • So apparently that can happen in this game too ;P
  • This time at least the game didn’t crash when trying to throw me back to prior save so there’s that
  • (Though, noting for the record, it was not happy with me changing windows out to Steam and trying to come back again, so note to self, save early, save often)
  • Finally found Ajira and noted that she said “It suffers wounds”–so I think I need some healing 😛
  • Got her to give me a task to go find her mushrooms though
  • Saved at that point for the night


At the recommendation of the folks on the Skywind Discord, I spent some of this play session experimenting with installing OpenMW, i.e., “Open Morrowind”. As I noted above, this is a port of Morrowind into a more modern game engine, which is supposed to play nicer on modern, 64-bit operating systems.

I figured that if I was going to try to change now I’m running Morrowind, experimenting with this very early in a playthrough was probably better than trying it when I’m so far in that resetting would break my progress.

However, I rapidly discovered a few problematic things.

One: there was no way to port over the save files I’d recreated in vanilla Morrowind to the OpenMW executable. In theory there is a command line tool that’s supposed to let you convert the save files. In practice, I couldn’t get it to work.

Two: I would have put up with having to start fresh, and in fact did try that. But I also noticed some distortion in the middle of the screen any time I tried to turn my field of view. This was distracting and made me a little motion sick. 🙁 I’m kind of wondering if my ancient PC, with its ancient Intel HD graphics card, can’t entirely play nicely with OpenMW. I don’t know? I feel like I’d have to experiment with this more to see if it’s a problem I can correct.

It was however a dealbreaker for trying to get a game going with that build.

Three: The slightly less severe dealbreaker was that by definition, trying to run OpenMW means it’s running outside of Steam, where I have my vanilla Morrowind installed. This means, by extension, that OpenMW has no way of picking up on my Steam mappings for my Nintendo Switch Pro controller. My A and B buttons were flipped–I think which I think is more standard on an XBOX controller?

I did find the OpenMW settings for how to change your controller mappings. But as I experimented I found at least a few other keys set differently from how I’m used to them operating in Skyrim or even the short time I’ve played the vanilla Morrowind.

And right now that’s enough of a hurdle that I don’t want to fuck with it at the moment. I think I’ll stick with playing the vanilla Morrowind build for now for the actual playthrough. Time permitting, I will also play around with the OpenMW build to see if I can tweak it at all, to tailor it more to my liking. But I kind of anticipate I might not be able to run OpenMW properly until I finally get to upgrade my computer.

More on this later!

Once I finally got tired of experimenting with OpenMW, I went back to the vanilla game and picked up where I’d left off with my Wood Elf. I tromped back over to Pelagiad, with the goal of finding Nelos, the Dark Elf bandit that Maurrie had asked me to find on her behalf.

This gave me an opportunity to just wander around a town a bit, and get a feel for what that’s like in this game. Answer: a more primitive version of wandering around a town in Skyrim, as I kind of expected.

The NPCs don’t have nearly the same variety of lines that Skyrim NPCs do, even the standard townsfolk. And I have to admit I found it kind of hilarious that no NPCs in Morrowind appear to have knees or elbows. They walk around with big swings of their arms and legs!

I’ve picked up on how the vast majority of NPC interaction does appear to be text-driven. You’ll get one or two very basic voice lines, but any actual conversations you have to do with dialogue prompts. As a very old-school gamer with a long history of Nethack, mostly text conversations certainly won’t bother me! It’ll just take a bit of getting used to.

So far I’ve only fought a couple of creatures, and I don’t think I’m comfortable yet with combat mechanics. The usual sorts of swinging I do in Skyrim don’t seem like they work as well here. I’ve seen passing references to different kinds of attacks in this game, so I’ll need to read up on that maybe.

I find it super distracting that I don’t have a quest marker on screen to point me in the direction I want to go. This means I have to keep checking the map every little bit, and I’m not sure I like this yet. I think it’d bug me less if I could move around at the same speed I do in Skyrim? But right now, as a level 1 wet behind the ears Wood Elf, I find myself tromping along at speeds I usually hit in Skyrim only when I’m overloaded.

Hmm. A quick search suggests I’ll speed up as I gain more experience. Will have to see if this holds up, and I see reference to a speed stat I should probably check.

When I made it to Balmora, I discovered that the place felt a lot bigger in area than cities in Skyrim, even the big ones. There was a lot more room to tromp through, and a lot more buildings than I’m used to seeing in Solitude or Whiterun or Riften or Markarth. Mind you, a lot of those buildings were of fairly uniform design, so there was a sameness to a lot of it. And not many NPCs walking around for all the area the city occupied.

Once I found the house of Caius Cosades, though, I actually got to move the main plot along a little. This guy turned out to be an agent of the Blades, and I was hereby ordered to work with him as an undercover agent. So he told me to establish a cover story, get some experience doing other things, and then come back and talk to him. He gave me 200 gold and told me to get better gear as well.


Heading back out to wander around the town also gave me an opportunity to figure out how to get a third-person, front-side view of my character for picture purposes!

And since Caius seemed to think the Mages Guild was a better option to pursue, I went to go talk to them about joining up. Which was surprisingly easy! Found a woman at the door, Ranis Athrys, who was basically “do you promise to abide by our rules?” “Yep!” “Fantastic, you’re in the Guild!”

Didn’t even have to demonstrate any magic? Wow, these people are way less stringent than the College of Winterhold. 😀

Ranis pointed me at someone named Ajira, but before I could find that person, I tried sleeping in one of the beds I found downstairs. This turned out to be a bit of a problem. I saw a resting UI that looked a lot like a more primitive version of the sleeping UI in Skyrim–but I also got a message saying I was awakened by a loud noise. This is not a thing that happens in Skyrim.

And when I got up again, I saw an NPC that turned out to be an assassin come running into the room. They attacked me. :O

And took me out. Ouch.

This threw me back to a previous save. Fortunately I hadn’t been thrown back very far, so I didn’t have to redo joining the Guild. But the assassin showed up again the second time through. They looked like a possible Dark Brotherhood assassin, but I didn’t get a chance to confirm just because I did get killed twice!

So apparently random assassin attacks are also a thing that can happen in Morrowind. Good to know! Also good to know that the Mages Guild apparently has horrible security and none of those NPCs who were also in the room did a damned thing to stop that assassin from attacking me.

(Which suggests that NPCs in Morrowind don’t have the AI to actually jump in on a battle if you’re fighting near them, like Skyrim NPCs do? I’ll have to keep an eye out for how other NPCs witness any further battles I get into.)

This is probably also a good time to point out that I’ve seen that vanilla Morrowind is not exactly stable. It is apparently known to be crash-prone, one of the biggest arguments for playing OpenMW instead. And I saw that it certainly didn’t like me trying to pause out of the game via Steam’s Shift+Tab keyboard shortcut, and going back out to try something else on my Windows desktop.

Vanilla Morrowind: not happy to multi-task. And my motto for this game is clearly going to have to be, save early, save often!

When I finally found Ajira, she turned out to be a Khajiit. Which raises another point–so far, wandering from Seyda Neen to Balmora, I’ve seen more examples of various races than I typically run into in Skyrim. Not entirely surprising, I suppose, given that Skyrim is predominantly Nord territory? But it was certainly noteworthy to see a Khajiit and an Orc in the Mages Guild when I showed up there. And I spotted a couple of Argonians here and there while wandering around. So I like that aspect. More variety of races in NPCs is good!

Next time

I’m going to check on my health points and speed stat, and see what I can do about a) getting some better gear, b) getting some healing potions, and c) finding Ajira her mushrooms. That should be plenty for session number three!


Editing to add

  • 11/23/2023: Restored missing gallery.

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.