Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel Hunts Smugglers for the Fighters Guild

Meanwhile, back on the island of Vvardenfell, Tembriel the Bosmer continues establishing herself as a member of both the Fighters and Mages Guilds, and quests back and forth between Balmora, Caldera, and Ald’ruhn! Main highlight: hunting down Telvanni smugglers at the ebony mine near Caldera.


  • Play date: 8/19/2022
  • Session number in this run: 6
  • Picked up where I left off in Balmora
  • Hoofed it a little northward of Balmora to get to Caldera
  • Killed en route: a nix-hound
  • Found the mining town, and got the proprietor of the tavern to tell me how to find the mine
  • Hoofed it over that way but before I got there, encountered a naked Nord barbarian: Hlormar Wine-Sot
  • Dude lamented to me that he’d been totally ripped off by a conniving witch who took all his clothes and his favorite axe, so I promised to help him out with her
  • We traveled a little further along the road, killed a rat, then found the witch, Sosia Caristiana
  • She claimed he was getting handsy, and she slapped a sleep spell on him and took his stuff to teach him a lesson–which I have to admit I’m sympathetic to
  • Wound up attacking her anyway (and I apparently bypassed the part where you can ask Hlormar about Sosia’s offer? Oops)
  • She hit me with reductions to my personality and luck and also temporarily immobilized me, yikes
  • Successfully killed her and got Hlormar’s stuff, and gave him back the axe
  • Onward to the mines
  • First NPC I spotted turned out to be one of the smugglers I was after! He attacked me immediately as soon as I asked him about Telvanni smugglers, so okay then, that was easy
  • Peeked briefly into the mining town to see if any other smugglers were out and obvious; found a couple of NPCs inside the mining office but they weren’t helpful
  • Then swung uphill past the spot where I fought the first smuggler
  • Found entrance to the cave Ashanammu and took out the other three agents in there
  • Took two waves of loot over to Caldera to sell to their general trader and armorer
  • Bought a potion to restore Luck from the Caldera Mages Guild
  • Then got bored retrieving loot and returned to Balmora
  • Killed two alits, one of whom was diseased, just outside Caldera
  • Reported back to the Fighters Guild and got paid for killing the agents
  • Got a round of Armorer training
  • Went next door to the Mages Guild and bought potions to get my Personality and Luck back up the rest of the way
  • Briefly thought I would hoof it to Ald’ruhn to follow up on the plots there
  • Wound up attacked by a rat that gave me a blight just north of Balmora
  • But had a potion to cure it, which i used at the inn in Caldera
  • Slept at that inn (surprisingly fancy for an inn in a mining town)
  • Then went back to the cave where I’d killed the smugglers and got the rest of their loot
  • Did a Scroll of Almsivi to get back to Balmora because overloaded
  • Dropped the Iron Shardsword so I could move, then went and sold a bunch of stuff
  • Then came back and got the sword and sold that too
  • Took the silt strider to Ald’ruhn
  • Found Ajira’s contact at the Mages Guild there, who got asked to fetch a rare Dwemer book and gave me 250 gold for expenses, awesome
  • Discovered the deadbeat who owed the shopkeeper owed five of the shopkeepers
  • Finally had to look up on the wiki how to find him; answer: in his house
  • So i did the thing where I quoted him out of the sermon book he had on his table, which convinced him to give up all the goods he owed money for
  • Took them all back to the merchants and got a tidy sum of gold for that
  • Ash storm kicked up after that, and that certainly reminded me of Raven Rock :O
  • Silt-strider’ed back to Balmora
  • Got some training in skills that didn’t actually count to my level up, but which I wanted for Mages Guild anyway, got training in Destruction and Alteration as well as a round of Restoration (which did count for the level up)
  • Saved for the night


This session saw the first mini-quest I’ve gotten in Morrowind where you can play it out differently depending on your choices: i.e., my encounter with Hlormar Wine-Sot, who’d been ambushed (or so he claimed!) by a witch. Mind you, I only know this is a quest that could have played out differently because I did read ahead on the wiki! But knowing that I could have played that encounter differently pleases me. It’s the same kind of interesting nuance you see later in Skyrim, with the In My Time of Need plot, which you can play either in favor of Saadia or in favor of Kematu.

Here, I elected to play in favor of Hlormar mostly just because I wanted the Strength boost he’d give me. Though to be honest, my natural sympathy went with Sosia! Because yeah, I can totally buy the dude getting too handsy with her, and her defending herself. I’ll have to try it playing in Sosia’s favor on a second playthrough.

She was also a formidable opponent, smacking me upside the head with a staff that whacked two of my stats significantly down. I had to spend coin a few times throughout the session to get potions that could restore my Personality and Luck. Yikes!

I did give the guy his axe back, though, after I’d helped him defeat Sosia. I already know from Skyrim that I don’t tend to favor axes, so it didn’t feel like a weapon I’d wanted to have kept. Also, I’m not generally a fan of “yeah, I know I agreed to help you, but fuck you, I’m going to keep this thing of yours anyway” as a resolution to a quest.

Also, let it be noted that it was kind of hilarious seeing this naked dude trying to punch a rat. 😆

Then it was onward to the mines. I liked this part of the session! I appreciated that Caldera was a standalone town but that the mine had its own little separate cluster of buildings, not too far away. Easy enough to walk over there from the main town, and I could easily see most of the mine’s workers living and sleeping in the main town, but maybe getting daily services on site? Fixing equipment, and such.

And it was very easy to find the smugglers. One of them was just standing around outside the cave where his compatriots were hiding, and all I had to do was talk to the guy to provoke him into attacking me. I was able to take him out as well as his three friends in the cave, though I had to burn through several healing potions to do so. This made the fight decently challenging, but not so difficult that I had to retreat!

Returning from Caldera to Balmora gave me another first: killing alits. These looked intimidating at first, given how the kagoutis had chomped my ass earlier! But I was able to kill both of the alits without too much trouble, and I got hide off of both of them.

Next notable thing: getting attacked by that rat north of Balmora, which gave me a blight! Black-Heart Blight, I think it was. Now, I’m familiar with the risk of getting diseases off of animals in Skyrim; I’m looking straight at you, bears! But what made this interesting to me was that when I made it to the tavern in Caldera, the proprietor flat out told me I needed to get cured or nobody would want to deal with me. And I couldn’t rent a bed from him till I utilized the Potion of Cure Blight Disease I had in my inventory.

Note to self: get more of those!

I am not familiar with NPCs refusing to deal with me if I’ve caught something. In Skyrim, NPCs are usually just all “no offense, but do you feel okay? You look like you should be in bed!” I’ve never had a Skyrim shopkeeper refuse to sell me anything. (I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position of trying to rent a room while diseased in Skyrim, though. So I legit can’t say for sure whether an innkeeper would refuse to rent me a bed in that game. It’ll be interesting to see if I can repro the behavior there.)

Once I was safely cured and got my bed at the inn, though, I gotta say, that place was surprisingly fancy for an inn in a mining town! Lots of nice tapestries on the walls. Clearly, Caldera’s mine is profitable. 😉

I found it tedious to have to move the smuggler loot out in waves from the Ashanammu cave. Particularly given that moving at walking speed in Morrowind on my PC is quite slow. I’ve found how to toggle running, but I’ve also found that that eats my Fatigue points, so I can’t leave that on all the time, clearly.

(Though I also found that running periodically exercises my Athletics skill! So some judicious toggling of it when I’m not actually actively in combat does seem called for.)

What ultimately sent me back to get all that loot, though, was that at least one or two of those smugglers were carrying good stuff. Like an Iron Shardsword, which was apparently a sword that did frost damage. It had stats comparable to the Longsword of Sparks I was already carrying, so I elected to go ahead and sell it. Likewise the Dragonscale Tower Shield, which surprisingly had slightly worse stats than the Chitin Tower Shield I’m currently carrying!

Good armor and weapons, though, are heavy. And my carry weight max is currently 220, which is a really tight constraint, and lower than what I’m used to in Skyrim starting out! Which tells me I’ll need to keep throwing points at the stats that influence carry weight frequently, at least for my first several level ups.

Most of the latter bit of this session went to exploring Ald’ruhn, and resolving the side quest involving the deadbeat who’d bought a bunch of fancy things from various shopkeepers but not actually paid for them. I only found out when I got back to Ald’ruhn to follow up on this that the guy had actually stiffed multiple shopkeepers, not just the one! Discovered this initially while talking to a second person he’d dealt with, and then, when looking on the wiki, learned he’d actually dealt with five different shopkeepers who were all now cranky at him.

Problem was, I couldn’t actually find the guy. I tried talking to several NPCs, but nobody had any pointers as to where to look. So I had no compunctions about looking on the wiki for pointers! What I learned from this was that a) he was in his house, and b) he had a book of sermons lying around that I could utilize to actually get him to give all the things he’d tried to buy back peacefully.

Which seemed like a good option. I went that route, got back all the things he’d taken, and returned them all to their various shopkeepers. And got all of them to hand me various amounts of gold. Yay!

One thing I do want to note about Ald’ruhn here: I was struck by how many more shops that place has, compared to my experiences of larger cities in Skyrim. Balmora likewise has more shops than I expect, and both places have different types of shops than what I’ve seen in Skyrim, too. For example: pawnbrokers and booksellers.

In Ald’ruhn alone, I think I spotted at least seven different shops? Some of which sold the same kind of wares but clearly to differing levels of wealth amongst their clientele. I really kind of like that, because it raises interesting questions about the differences in the development of commerce in Morrowind vs. in Skyrim–by which I mean, both the actual provinces in-game, as well as the games themselves.

I could kind of buy that in-game, the culture of the Nords might not lend itself as readily to a huge diversity of shops. But I could also buy that since Skyrim does way more complex things with its game spaces and with the behavior of its NPCs, Bethesda might not have had the luxury of, say, plunking down more shops in Solitude even if the place probably should have more shops than it does. And the only overlap of shop wares I’ve seen in Skyrim in any given location is for places that sell weapons. (Example: two smiths in both Whiterun and Markarth, and Whiterun also having Drunken Huntsman which sells armor and weapons. Also, overlap in Solitude between Beirand’s forge and Fletcher.)

Which, okay, yeah, that’s kind of culturally appropriate for the Nords. 😉

Still, though, after visiting the fancier clothier in Ald’ruhn, I kinda feel like Radiant Raiment ought to be way fancier looking a shop than it is! (Heh, maybe this is why Endarie and Taarie are snarky all the time?) And also, I’m a little sad that Skyrim doesn’t have standalone bookshops! You can buy books in Skyrim, but there aren’t standalone shops for it. The general merchants are selling them as part of their own wares.

Which, again, possibly culturally in character for the Nords, but possibly also “because shops are complicated and the game’s already pretty complex”?

Capped off the session with a little bit of training, as much as I could spare the gold for.

Next time

I’m still two skill bumps away from leveling up to 4, so some more of these starting-type quests will be what I do next time! I’ve got a new quest from the Fighters Guild which seems like I’m going to have to utilize a little thievery, and I’m not sure if I’m up to that task yet? I may have to wind up going after that book for the Mages Guild next.

And from what I’m seeing peeking ahead on the wiki, looks like it would probably be a very good idea to get a hold of the Chameleon spell.


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.