Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel Falls Down a Lot and Dies

Session 4 of my adventures in Morrowind features a lot of boinging between Seyda Neen and Balmora, a lot of catching up on super simple early quests, and a whole helluva lot of being fried to death by a fire-throwing battlemage.


  • Play date: 8/15/2022
  • Session number in this run: 4
  • A lot of derping around with controller settings in this session, even before I started playing, see below
  • Actual play-wise: bounced back and forth between Balmora and Seyda Neen, and had to get wiki help for some stuff
  • Balmora: ran the plot to help Ajira find her stolen reports which Galbedir had apparently swiped
  • Had to get wiki help on that because while i did talk to other people in the Guild to try to get clues, that still didn’t tell me much
  • Had to get the wiki’s pointers on where to actually find the damn scrolls, finally took them back to Ajira and got her really happy with me, and to give me a pointer to talk to a colleague in another city, which I’m apparently going to have to do before I rank up any further?
  • She gave me several useful potions and I tried to put at least the fire shield one to use in Addamasartus, but that didn’t go too well
  • Sold multiple loot items to merchants and got my chitin helm and pauldrons and shield upgraded
  • And after retreating from Addamasartus one last time i came back to the Guild to rest up, because I finally killed enough small creatures to reach level 2
  • Rested in one of the beds to replenish my health and got the UI for leveling up, which wanted me to spend points on skills to progress; took boosts to Speed, Agility, Endurance
  • Had to do it twice though because another goddamn assassin showed up and fought me, and killed me, so I got thrown back to arriving at the bed, booooooo
  • Seyda Neen: found Fargoth and finally clued in that the ring he was looking for was in fact the one I’d found during setup, so i gave that back to him and got the disposition boost
  • Explored around the lighthouse and found the useful skill book in there, and grabbed a few other items to sell
  • Got the suggestion to go clear out the nearby cave Addamasartus of smugglers; this did not go well
  • Killed the first one, but the second one kept handing me my ass, which he lit on FIRE, because battlemage (see below for details)
  • Finally retreated because I’m clearly going to have to come back and beat on this guy when I’m a bit more powerful
  • Went northward and found the road where a Bosmer fell right down on the sky on me, because his flying practice went very, very badly
  • Killed a couple of mudcrabs, and got my health down low enough while fighting two rats and a kwama forager that I actually had to run like hell back to the town, at which point the guards killed the second rat and the forager
  • Retreated back to Balmora for healing (see above)
  • Saved for the night after leveling up, and also learning how to do alchemy


I still wasn’t entirely happy with my controller setup in Morrowind, so last night I derped around through assorted settings, trying to figure out how to solve two problems:

  1. Still getting a little motion sick moving around, my right thumbstick seemed like it was too sensitive even though I had the camera settings in the game options all the way down
  2. I wanted better button mappings so I wouldn’t have to hit as many things on the keyboard

Turned out the answer to both of these questions was a thing I’d already had to do when setting up my Nintendo Switch Pro controller to use for Skyrim in the first place: i.e., getting into the Big Picture mode of Steam, and going into the controller configs for the game.

I’m still not entirely happy with the settings, I was finding playing Morrowind after a few minutes, even with my changes, was making me a little queasy. It’s weird to me too that Morrowind seems to be worse about this than Skyrim is? Clearly, at any rate, I’ll need to poke at this some more.

But now at least I have the journal accessible via my left shoulder button. And I’ve figured out how to wield both weapon and magic. I think i’m going to have to figure out how to add buttons that’ll cycle between wielded stuff, too.

I also experimented with capping the frame rate in the Morrowind.ini file. But that broke OpenMW when I tested it, so I had to revert that change. Still not clear to me if higher frame rates are making me queasy on this system or not.

Once I actually started playing, I still had issues, but different ones!

This is not in chronological order, just because this time through I was too distracted by trying to solve play issues to stop and take notes. So instead of covering stuff as I played it, I’ll split it up by what I did in each area.

Mages Guild: Where the hell are Ajira’s reports?

First main action in Balmora was to do Ajira’s mini-quest to find the reports that Galbedil stole from her. This was less obvious than I would have liked. I tried not to look ahead on the wiki, but all the wiki told me was that other members of the Guild might be able to give me clues as to where the reports were.

But I talked to everybody, and all I could get out of anybody was that one of them saw Galbedil going up to her desk with a scroll. And of course Galbedil was all “Reports? I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no reports!”

In the end, I had to look ahead on the wiki anyway. At which point I discovered I was overthinking it, and had to just search the whole Guild building for the scrolls just lying around.

Had this been a Skyrim quest, I’d have gotten a couple of quest markers that just pointed me at the scroll objects so I could go and find them. As it stands, what I learned here was, “be prepared to search the whole immediate area if I’m supposed to find a thing for somebody, and nobody’s being helpful about where to find the thing.”

Also: jeez, Ajira, you’re nice and all, and Galbedil, I’d like to like a fellow Bosmer in this place, but you two need to get over yourselves. Seriously!

(I suppose this is one way Morrowind is actually kind of like Skyrim, what with Colette Marence bitching all the time about people stealing her research!)

And I wound up having to run this plot twice, just because of bouncing back and forth a lot between Balmora and Seyda Neen, and getting fried a lot by the fire mage in Addamasartus. And while Ajira giving me potions was welcome, I didn’t find that fire shield potion of hers as useful as I would have liked. More on this below.)

Mages Guild: Holy crap, I finally leveled up!

This also counts as Mages Guild activity, just because right now, the beds in the Mages Guild are the only place I know about where I can sleep. And Morrowind expects me to rest in order to level up.

I’m of two minds about how the game handles this. On the one hand, this is way slower leveling than I’m used to in Skyrim, and I’m finding myself getting frustrated by that. Four sessions in on a Skyrim run, I’ve usually cleared Bleak Falls Barrow, fought the first dragon at the Western Watchtower, and gone to see the Greybeards! Four sessions in on Morrowind, I’m still derping around trying to actually learn combat mechanics and not die.

On the other hand, I also like that the leveling mechanic actually gave me some messages about how I ought to rest to meditate on what I’d learned, and how I woke up feeling rather better about my skills! That I kind of like. It helps fit the idea of getting better at things into your actual character narrative.

I wound up taking bumps in Agility, Endurance, and Speed. Hopefully this will let me take on baddies a little more easily now?

Also, while derping around through my character stats, I finally realized that I’ve been trying to fight things with a Short Blade. Which is not a significant skill for an Archer, it’s in my list of Miscellaneous Skills. Long Blade is one of my Majors. I feel I have stumbled across one of the reasons why I’ve been having a shitty, shitty time hitting things with my Chitin Short Blade!

Right tool, right job, etc.

I think what may have happened here is another “because I’m still used to how Skyrim handles things” issue. Skyrim doesn’t distinguish between different lengths of swords. Morrowind clearly does. And also, much, much older gaming experience I have–dating all the way back to Nethack–may also be in play in the back of my brain here.

I’m playing an Archer here, which is the closest Morrowind equivalent to a Ranger in Nethack, my usual character class there. And Nethack Rangers get short swords by default. So I think I naturally gravitated to using a Short Blade. This, clearly, was not the choice I should have made!

Fortunately I have actually now acquired a Long Blade (see below). So hopefully my next round of leveling up will be aided by this.

Mages Guild: Seriously, do these people have no security whatsoever?

This, though, was another thing I wound up having to do twice. Because after I got up from leveling up the first time, another goddamn Dark Brotherhood assassin strolled right into the Guild, attacked me, and kicked my ass.

This I definitely find frustrating. It feels super weird to me that an assassin could stroll right into a Guild off the street and attack somebody inside the building without consequences. None of the NPCs react or help in any way, and there were at least five NPCs in immediate range, as well as the two upstairs. I’d think that if an assassin tried to come in and take out a Guild member, somebody in the Guild should react to this.

And I mean, sure, I know assassination is supposed to be legal in Morrowind, right? But this assassin is supposedly Dark Brotherhood. Who are as far as I know operating outside legal assassination strictures, right? All the more reason why somebody in the damn Guild should help whenever one of these bastards comes at me.

Now mind you, I also get that this is clearly a situation that the NPCs just weren’t equipped to handle and intellectually I’m fine with that! But as a player experience, I find it frustrating. Fucking assassins, man.

Balmora: Oh okay that’s how alchemy works

After a whole bunch of selling various loot objects, I finally found an apprentice mortar and pestle in the pawnbroker shop in Balmora. Which let me finally experiment with how to make potions, and I did successfully make a few which I then sold.

So now at least I’ve got that settled, and hopefully a means to generate a few more coins as I keep gathering ingredients.

Seyda Neen: Oh, you mean that ring

Discord folks dropped me a hint that I should go back and deal with the Fargoth’s Ring quest in Seyda Neen. This was another thing I wound up overthinking.

I talked to Fargoth, and got his complaint that the Imperials must have made off with his ring. Tried to ask around about it to other NPCs, with no luck.

And I only belatedly realized, after checking the wiki yet again, that the damn ring was the one I’d gotten during character setup. Doh.

So I finally clued in and gave it back to him, to get the disposition boost and hopefully also a disposition boost with his trader pal.

Seyda Neen: Exploring the lighthouse

The wiki page with tips for starting out suggested exploring the lighthouse, so I tried that. This led me to finding the useful skill book (and by extension, learning that skill books do at least seem familiar from Skyrim experience, only real difference is the UI for reading one).

Grabbed that book to sell it, as well as a few other loose items. And I was able to get into one of the tree trunks around the lighthouse to pull stuff out of that, too. Couldn’t figure out how to get into the other one, though.

Seyda Neen: Addamasartus must mean “Death Cave of Fiery Death” in Dunmeris?

While talking to NPCs in Seyda Neen, I also got a suggestion to go clear out a nearby cave, right by the lighthouse, of smugglers that had holed up in there.

I rapidly discovered this was a problem. I was able to kill the first one, but the second one repeatedly handed me my ass. And lit it on fire, because he was apparently a battlemage.

I tried at least a dozen times to make it past that guy, with no joy. Things I tried:

  1. Invoking my Moonshadow power to become invisible and try to get a free shot at him, becoming invisible worked, free shot did not, didn’t do enough damage to slow him down from coming at me
  2. Using the fire shield potion from Ajira, again, this only seemed to slow him down temporarily, did not do enough damage at close range to take him out (but see previous commentary re: armed with Short Blade)

So I’ve only partially cleared this cave. I got a key off the first smuggler I killed, and I know I’m supposed to be able to use that to free slaves in the cave to count towards a quest later.

But after being fried repeatedly by that battlemage, I finally had to retreat. I’ll have to come back in here a little later when I’m more powerful.

Seyda Neen: Oh hey look it’s raining Bosmer

One other tip I picked up off the wiki page for starting out was going just a little north of Seyda Neen, to a point on the road where a Bosmer falls right out of the sky in front of you.

I found that spot, and sure enough, saw the guy yelling on his way down until he went splat on the road in front of me. Turns out he was trying to practice some form of levitation spell, which did not go well for him.

Sorry, brother Bosmer. I’m going to have to confiscate this stuff of yours, which you will clearly no longer be needing!

Side note here: I do actually like that Morrowind has a “Dispose of corpse” option you can take once you loot a corpse. That seems tidier than just letting dead things lie around all over the place. So I can assume that, oh, say, I actually buried that rat I killed.

But let me also note for the record that I am not assuming my character is an adherent to the Green Pact. I buried that guy, okay? I didn’t eat him for lunch. 😉

Also, this guy had an Iron Long Sword of Sparks. Which I think just solved my “needing to wield a Long Blade” problem. How convenient.

Seyda Neen: Okay now this is just embarrassing

After swiping the stuff off the poor unfortunate Bosmer who went splat, I derped around a little longer and wound up killing a couple of mudcrabs near the water. But that beat my health bar kind of critically low.

And then I got jumped by a couple of rats and a kwama forager!

I did not want to die nibbled to death by rats. So though I did manage to kill one of the rats, I had to run like hell back to Seyda Neen. At which point the guards, who are apparently slightly less useless than the NPCs at the Mages Guild, ran over to kill the other rat and the kwama forager.

And at that point, I retreated to Balmora to rest up. And level up. See previous commentary re: that.

I wound up having to retreat to Balmora just because I’m not sure if there are any beds I can actually use in Seyda Neen? I don’t see any sign of an inn there where I could rent a room, like I would in Skyrim.

Next time

Some final thoughts: chitin armor is fugly, and I’d like something prettier. Right now I’m wandering around looking like a combination of a mummy and a bug. But from what I’m seeing on the wiki, getting something better than chitin, and which doesn’t look quite so fugly, isn’t going to be an option for a while.

So I’ll put up with wearing the chitin for now!

However, I’m about out of arrows and this is definitely a problem I need to solve. Likewise, healing potions, now that I gave that ring back to Fargoth. So I need to find more ways to get money and level up, so that I can actually survive returning to Addamasartus.

Supposedly there’s a shipwreck I can loot somewhere around Seyda Neen. I’ll look for that next time, see if I can survive it, and look for something else to sell.


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.