Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel Gathers Intel for the Blades

This post marks my first attempt to play Morrowind on my new Steam Deck! And aside from that, a fairly busy session! Main highlights: stealing a book and then returning it, for a colleague in the Mages Guild; killing a kwama queen in an egg mine; checking out a disturbance in Maar Gan; and hunting down three different informants for further information about the Nerevarine and Sixth House cults.


  • Play date: 8/27/2022
  • Session number in this run: 10
  • First play of Morrowind on the Deck! (More commentary on this below)
  • Took silt strider to Vivec
  • Found the Mages Guild after a bit of exploring, and found Sirilonwe’s room
  • Successfully picked the lock on the chest
  • Took out both books in there; read the Alteration skill book, and put that back
  • Took the Guild Guide over to Ald’ruhn’s Guild
  • Gave Chimarvamidium to Edwinna; got new quest from her
  • But first: to Suran, to try to deal with that egg mine!
  • Asked a guard for directions (once I got there), and found an ash storm in progress, FUN
  • Also found some weird steam vents
  • Took four tries to actually make it into the egg mine properly
  • One time was my own damn fault as i accidentally read a Scroll of Almsivi rather than invoking my ring of healing
  • Kwama warriors turned out to be a goddamn problem, those things do shock damage, killed by one at least twice
  • Swimming to where the queen was was challenging as well, was barely able to make it to her with potions of water breathing; I will definitely need some form of enchanted water breathing item
  • Slaughterfish in the water, also a problem
  • Finally remembered I am playing A GODDAMN ARCHER, so was much more successful finishing the dungeon once I started taking proper advantage of that
  • However, managed to pick up a blight from the action >_<
  • Returned to Balmora and had to go to the Dunmer temple for a blessing to lift the blight; only then was i able to get Nileno to pay me for the work
  • Returned to the Mages Guild to rest–and got a Dark Brotherhood assassin, who I promptly killed, and took all his stuff
  • Rested up some more and leveled up to 6; took bumps in Endurance, Willpower, Luck
  • Took some stuff out of the Guild chest; went next door and also took some stuff out of the Fighters Guild chest
  • Sold all the Dark Brotherhood gear to the Armorer dude in there and he of course promptly put it on, LOL; that got me over 2000 gold \0/
  • Headed over to Maar Gan to check out the disturbance at Huleen’s Hut, which turned out to be her apprentice having summoned a scamp that trashed the place; no sign of Huleen, who was presumably dead; returned to Ald’ruhn to report in on that; Edwinna is quite happy with me now <3
  • Got the book back from her and returned it to Sirilonwe in Vivec
  • And while I was in Vivec anyway, went to hunt down the three informants for Caius
  • First one: Argonian in the cornerclub, who was getting hassled by racist dickweeds
  • I bribed the racist dickweeds to leave him the hell alone and left without incident, and guided the Argonian to the nearby bookshop; got info from him there, and also bought the book I’d need for Caius
  • Then went to another portion of the city to look for the second informant, a Khajiit who’s hiding out from a census and excise agent, and I got the agent off her back
  • Went lastly to the temple district to find my third contact
  • Which was actually kind of neat just because I did see the Ministry of Truth floating overhead and HEY I KNOW WHAT THAT IS
  • Didn’t have to get rid of anybody to talk to this person, just had to go to the back of the ilbrary of Vivec with her
  • Returned to Balmora by silt strider to report in with Caius; he promoted me to Journeyman in the Blades and told me to go maintain my cover for a little bit, then come back later for more orders; got some training in Unarmed and Speechcraft with him
  • Then saved at that point for the night

What playing on the Deck is like!

A few remarks first about the experience of playing Morrowind on the Deck, since this was my first try at that. <3

Like with Skyrim, it was pretty painless to move my playthrough off the PC over to this device. And right out of the gate, I discovered that installing Morrowind on this device defaulted me to a controller configuration that explicitly took advantage of the extra buttons on the back. Very helpful.

I did rearrange that configuration a bit, though. I wanted the sneak toggle on my right hand rather than my left, since it seemed awkward to me to have to hold down a button and move with the same hand. Still not a hundred percent happy with the controller configuration aside from that, though. I’d just gotten to the point of arranging things to my satisfaction on the PC side; I think I may need to doublecheck what I did there, and echo it on the Deck’s controller layout. Just to minimize the confusion of muscle memory there.

Spent a little time experimenting with the graphical settings as well, just to see whether that helped the behavior I see a lot in Morrowind of elements in the background taking a while to redraw themselves as I’m moving. Or, in some cases, entire mountains drawing and un-drawing themselves if I just change what direction I’m looking, which is hugely distracting for me visually.

I had hoped that setting the distance redraw slider to its maximum would help out with that, but apparently not? Skywind Discord folks are telling me also that this issue is not fixable in vanilla Morrowind in general. My options here will be either a) mod Morrowind, b) jump to OpenMW, or maybe c) both. I’ll need to spend some time reading up on how moddable OpenMW is, I think. I’ve already seen several Morrowind mods I’m interested in trying, but I better find out in advance whether I can drop them on OpenMW, or whether I’d have to stick with vanilla if I’m going to mod at all.

One other aspect of the graphical behavior concerned me though, and that was, after I was playing for a while, I started dropping frames and getting stuttery behavior. The Deck appears to be capping Morrowind at 60 fps, which seems absolutely fine for how old that game is, but that burst of stuttery behavior was a concern. I’ll set my graphics settings back to what they were before, and see if I see the behavior again.

Stealing Chimarvamidium

First actual play action of the session was going to the Mages Guild in Vivec, finding Sirilonwe, and stealing the book from the chest in her closet. It took me a while to just locate her quarters. The Mages Guild HQ in Vivec isn’t quite as lush-looking as the one in Ald’ruhn to my eyes, but it is large. So I tromped around through the place for quite a bit before I finally found my target.

And I did look at the wiki for advice on this, which let me learn that the book was in a locked chest inside her closet–but if you close the door behind you, she won’t see you breaking into the chest. So you won’t piss her off and incur a bounty that way. And, just as importantly, won’t get yourself expelled from the Guild.

I have absolutely no compunctions about going that route! Just because it seems a lot harder to me to steal things in this game than it is in Skyrim. NPCs don’t sleep, and most of them do in fact hang out in the same places, which makes it really fucking difficult to steal stuff. Particularly if you’re trying to play a character who isn’t designed to be a thief.

I suppose I might have an easier time of it if I were actually trying to be a thief with this alt? I do enjoy the hell out of the Thieves Guild in Skyrim, and it’s likely I’ll try a thief-type character in this game. But right now I’m not.

Which makes it rather awkward with how I keep getting asked to steal things. Snerk.

And in this particular case, I find it kind of hilarious to envision my Bosmer in her Dark Brotherhood armor, showing up at Sirilonwe’s quarters and being all “uh, hi, ‘scuse me, can I just duck into your closet for a moment? My laces are broken in my pants and seriously, I better fix this before they fall down on me, and nobody wants to see me half-naked. Do you mind? No? Thanks! You are a queen among mages!”

Returned to Edwinna in Ald’ruhn after that, and handed off the illicitly acquired book to her.

Taking out the queen in the egg mine

Next up: going back to Suran, and taking out the kwama queen inside the Inanius Egg Mine.

I also read up a bit on the wiki about this one, and discovered that depending on how devious you feel like being, you could wind up potentially getting quite a bit of money for this quest. I ultimately decided to not play it devious, though; that option just didn’t seem appealing to me, even if it would have been more lucrative.

Plus, not really convinced that it was right for the character I’m envisioning. She’s clearly not above some light thievery (see previous thoughts re: why she was in the Imperial prison to begin with), but that doesn’t mean she’s going to go talk to a guy about his egg mine, accept his money for not screwing with his mine, and then go do that anyway.

Now that said, just getting to the damn mine turned out to be a bit of an adventure. First of all, it took me a few tries to get there, just because I’m still not clear on which places I can get to via which means of travel. So I blew more gold than I should have on that, before I finally made it to Suran.

Asked a guard for directions so I wouldn’t have to be inside Suran any longer than necessary (see previous commentary re: hive of scum and villainy). Turned out that the mine was not very far away, but in order to get to it, I had to go through an ash storm! FUN.

I’ve commented plenty of times on previous posts about how Solstheim is an ash-ridden hellscape. Much of Vvardenfell also is an ash-ridden hellscape, even more so, because this island is after all where Red Mountain is actually located. And so far, when I’ve seen ash storms come up in this game, they do seem a little more hardcore than the ones in Skyrim, in terms of intensity. Definitely makes me want to run for cover.

One extra detail I noticed though that I haven’t seen on Solstheim: steam vents. Which make geologic sense to me, I think. Again, because this is the island with the actual volcano on it.

It took me four tries to get into the egg mine properly, though! And several additional tries to make it all the way through.

Of interest here: this was the first chance I had to try out potions of water breathing, which were required given that I had to swim to get to the queen. Those particular potions didn’t work as long as I would have hoped, I cut it very close getting out of the water. But they did do the job.

Still though I’m going to have to see about getting some kind of enchanted item to take care of this problem. I am definitely missing Volsung here, is what I’m saying. Until I get any such item, the wiki has advised me that I can eat Luminous Russala as a means of sustaining water breathing effects. Good to know! And an argument for keeping some of that on hand, once I get my inventory weight higher.

Between the kwama warriors and the slaughterfish in the water, I had quite the time making it through the place–until I finally remembered I am playing a goddamn archer. Which means I can hit things from a distance. So I shot arrows into the water every time I saw that damn slaughterfish. And when I came out of the water on the other side, I only went far enough to get within range to pelt the kwama warrior from a distance. It did not come into the water to engage me directly. That helped a lot.

Did the same to take out the kwama queen, and finally finished the dungeon.

Final lingering problem coming out of the place: I’d picked up a blight fighting one of the first hostile kwama in it. Oops. So this got me some semi-hostile commentary from passing NPCs, and Nileno back at House Hlaalu actively refused to deal with me until I was cured. So I wound up having to go to the Dunmer temple and pay for a blessing at one of the shrines, since I didn’t have any cure blight potions on me. This problem, I feel, will need to be corrected.

With that problem dealt with, I did get Nileno to pay me for the effort at the mine. Yay!

Returning Chimarvamidium, and finding informants in Vivec

Upon returning to Edwinna in Ald’ruhn, discovered she was quite happy with me. <3 I got the book back from her, for returning to Sirilonwe in Vivec.

Which, again, was kind of hilarious to think about. Yet another incident of the weirdo Bosmer showing up to borrow her closet. ;D “Yeah I know, I’m sorry, this stupid armor keeps trying to fall apart and I don’t have enough septims to replace it yet. Thanks, you’re a peach! Ciao!”

And since I was in Vivec anyway, proceeded with finding the three informants Caius wanted me to track down. I liked this part, in no small part for the opportunity to further explore Vivec.

It turned out to be a good idea to have more money on me, since I had to bribe the racist dickweeds in the cornerclub to stop hassling the Argonian I needed to talk to. This is another place where I feel like Skyrim’s Brawl mechanic would have been helpful–just because killing the racist dickweeds seems like it might have been over the top, even if it’d been satisfying. Too much of a risk there of pissing off everybody in the bar, not to mention running afoul of the Ordinators.

I did read a bit about this quest on the wiki as I was doing it, which is why I knew to buy the book I’d need for Caius while I was in the bookshop. The wiki also, I saw, suggested stealing the book as an option, as long as you didn’t do it while the Ordinator in the shop was patrolling in that part of it. Which raises the question of why the hell is an Ordinator patrolling in a bookstore? Do the Ordinators patrol in all the stores in Vivec?

(Mind you, I’ve seen guards in other shops in other cities as well so apparently this is common in Morrowind, to provide shop security? Still though, since the Ordinators seem rather harder core than more standard guards, this seems like an awfully large hammer for this particular nail.)

But I wasn’t going to steal from a bookshop because I am not a heartless monster. 😉 I was too busy being delighted to actually see a bookshop, with actual books on shelves. And I have too much sympathy for a Khajiit bookstore proprietor, in a country that’s apparently as anti-foreigner as Skyrim in some ways, to want to steal from her.

Likewise the Khajiit who was hiding out from a census and excise agent. I actually found the agent first, and bullshitted my way out of that conversation by saying (truthfully!) that I didn’t know where the Khajiit was. But then I went and found her, got the scoop on the agent, and went back to more blatantly bullshit the guy. “Oh, you know that Khajiit friend you were looking for? She totally just took a gondola back to the mainland. If you hurry you can catch her.” Snerk.

(I’d have liked to see the guy go “oh shit” and go running off for the nearest gondolas! But nah, I guess he’ll just stand around being confused for the rest of the game, just because vanilla Morrowind is not that clever with its NPCs. So I’ll have to just imagine this as my headcanon.)

And since I’d therefore helped her, the Khajiit was very happy to clue me in on what she knew. Including the intriguing little tidbit that the Sixth House is apparently smuggling a bunch of things–but she doesn’t know what things.

Last but not least, it was off to the Temple district. Where I got my first real look at the Ministry of Truth floating above the place! I was all OH HEY I KNOW WHAT THAT IS. 😀

And the statue of Vivec was also quite impressive. I neglected to take screenshots, though. I will need to fix this next time I’m in Vivec! (Which will be soon as I am seeking additional House Hlaalu action there.)

I got my contact in the Library of Vivec to fill me in on what she knew–and I’m given to understand she’s supposed to be important later in the plotline as well. Oh dear. I think her filling me in at this point may get her in trouble?

As of achieving this part of the plot, I think I can safely say that I appreciate Morrowind taking a slightly more structured approach to the open world concept than Skyrim does–in the sense that you are in fact given an in-character excuse to go fuck around doing other things for a while, before you return to the main plot. There’s no such equivalent in Skryim. But even having a small detail like “my handler in the Blades has expressly asked me to go do other things to maintain my cover” helps my sense of immersion! And it helps silence the naggy part of my writer brain that bitches about when the hell I’m going to return to the narrative. 😀

Well done there, game.

Next time

I’ve already played the session after this one, and it was a much lower key session, just exploring the countryside–and clearing out the Ulummusa cave. More on that in the next post!


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.