Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel Solves a Murder for House Hlaalu

A very busy and profitable session for Tembriel, running multiple quests for House Hlaalu, and racking up enough drakes to be able to pay for quite a bit of training. Solved a murder in Balmora, escorted a noble from Vivec to Pelagiad, delivered some orders to a clothier spy in Ald’ruhn, and picked up owed money from a pauper in Hla Oad!


  • Play date: 9/1/2022
  • Session number in this run: 13
  • Started in Balmora
  • Boinged to Ald’ruhn via Guild Guide to drop off the orders for the clothier there; she gave me a fancy outfit as payment, cool 😀
  • Boinged back via their Guild Guide
  • Practiced with more control layouts to try to get a screenshot of the new outfit
  • Reported back to Nileno; got another 500 gold, booya; got quest to solve the murder of Ralen Hlaalo
  • CAN DO! Let me get started on that! But first some quick gear repair at the Fighters Guild
  • Took the key to go enter the house
  • Found a servant who gave me a description of the murderer
  • Peeked a little ahead on the wiki; saw that the guy I needed to go after was actually one of the ones I have to take out for the Imperial officer’s quest, and they’re all level 9
  • Time to go to Hla Oad!
  • Picked up the owed money, though this time it actually took me two Intimidate attempts
  • Returned successfully to Vivec to hand in the money and keep my share
  • Got quest to escort a guy to Pelagiad; killed a couple of cliff racers on the way, but got him there safely!
  • Shopped with the trader there and OOO he had silver and glass arrows; yes please I’ll have some
  • Returned to Vivec to report in and got paid another 500 for the escort mission
  • Got new quest to take out batshit Telvanni mage
  • But first back to Balmora
  • Trained with all the trainers at the Mages Guild
  • Popped into the Council Club and oh hey look there’s the murderer, who was all “Nine-Toes totally did it”
  • Took him out, but had to burn healing potions to do it
  • Couldn’t pick up his axe after getting all his armorer hammers; blew a bunch of those on gear repair
  • Dropped the axe, then returned to House Hlaalu for payment
  • Discovered that Nileno can’t advance me further, but she gave me another thousand for solving the murder, and the last of her quests
  • Saved for the night

More on configuring Morrowind on the Steam Deck

A good bit of this session went to my experimenting with how to get good screenshots of my character. This is way more complicated than I’d expect, what with being used to how it works in Skyrim, and particularly how it works on my Switch.

In Skyrim, I can toggle between 1st and 3rd person via my right joystick, and I can easily zoom in for the best closeup view of my character as possible. And there’s a single button on the Switch to hit to take screenshots.

In Morrowind, however, where the game was originally written with keyboard and mouse in mind, it’s more complicated. You hit TAB to toggle between 1st and 3rd person. But that automatically drops you into a 3rd person view where your character is facing away from the camera. If you actually want to see your character’s front side, you have to hold down that TAB key and use your mouse to rotate the camera view. And you use your mouse’s wheel to zoom the view in and out.

If you are however me and you’re playing on a Steam Deck, without a keyboard, none of this is applicable. So what I’ve wound up having to do to be prepared to take good character screenshots is get into the controller mappings and set up the following:

  • L4 (upper of the two left hand buttons on the back): TAB
  • Up button on the D-Pad: Scroll up
  • Down button on the D-Pad: Scroll down
  • Right button on the D-Pad: Take screenshot

By default the Deck expects you to hit STEAM + X to do a screenshot, but I find that two-button combo really awkward. Particularly given that I have my X key mapped to drawing a weapon–as I’m used to it behaving in Skyrim. So while practicing getting screenshots during this session, I wound up taking screenshots of Tembriel with her sword drawn more than once!

(Which, granted, was actually kind of cool since I can’t get that in Skyrim! Still though that wasn’t what I was aiming for at the time.)

I finally decided to put taking a screenshot onto the D-Pad, as well as the scrolling functions, just because so far in this game I haven’t had a use for that particular part of the controls. By default the controller layout that Morrowind showed me when I installed it on the Deck mapped the D-Pad to Morrowind’s Quick Keys functionality. But I also haven’t had a use for that yet.

Mind you, I can see how the Quick Key stuff could be useful. But for me as a player right now, having immediate access to good character screenshots is more important!

Overall, trying to strike a balance between making the controller layout semi-familiar with what I’m used to from Skyrim, accounting for what Morrowind does and does not let me do, and taking advantage of the extra buttons on the Deck. So far I think I have a controller layout I like.

But I’m still experimenting with it and rearranging it to my satisfaction, so I’m not going to write up the full arrangement quite yet. I even just, while working on this post, discovered that the left trackpad is mapped to TAB as well–but I find that doesn’t work for me, just because I can’t hit the left trackpad and the D-Pad at the same time. But I can do it with one of the back buttons.

And the trackpad apparently also has been mapped to Quick Key stuff? Experimented with that some as well, only to find I couldn’t get it to work to my satisfaction until I reconfigured the trackpad a bit. I mapped the trackpad overall to using directional swipes rather than trying to act like a D-Pad. Then I told it to map pressing down on the trackpad to F1, to launch the Quick Key UI. And then mapped the directional swipes to the first four options for Quick Keys.

So this seems like it might be useful? I’m going to play around with it some more.

Surprised and pleased by clothes in Morrowind

So far, twelve sessions in on Morrowind, I can say I’ve found at least one thing about it that I actively like better than Skyrim: how it handles character clothing.

For one thing, you can wear regular clothes underneath your armor. Which makes more sense to me than how Skyrim handles it–i.e., where you can either wear regular clothes or armor, but not both.

For another thing, there is greater variety of clothing. Multiple types and multiple qualities of, say, shirts. Or pants. Or shoes. Or robes. Whereas in Skyrim, you generally have an entire outfit considered one thing in your inventory, e.g., “Fine Clothes”.

Last but not least, the part of this that I like the most: CLOTHING IS NOT FUCKING GENDERED. If I’m given a shirt and pants, I can be reasonably sure it’s going to look the same on me, a female character, as it would on a male character. And the pants aren’t going to magically turn into a skirt just because I’m playing a woman. In fact, from what I’m seeing on the wiki, if a male character puts on a skirt, he’s going to be wearing a goddamn skirt, and it’s not going to magically turn into pants, either.

All of this commentary brought to you by how the first thing I did in this session was a quest for House Hlaalu, wherein I was to take some coded orders to a particular clothier in Ald’ruhn (who’s an undercover Hlaalu spy, apparently). When I delivered them, she gave me some really nice free clothes, an “Exquisite Shirt” and “Extravagant Pants”.

And showing off that outfit is what led me into playing with screenshots more to begin with!

The Death of Ralen Hlaalo quest

This was a pretty good one! I was directed to find out who killed Ralen Hlaalo–with an O, not to be confused with the name of the House, Hlaalu with a U. Nileno handed me the key to his place, so I went over to check it out.

And let us leave aside exactly how suspicious it might look to the casual viewer that a woman in Dark Brotherhood armor is entering a house with a dead guy in it. But at least Tembriel can say with perfect sincerity that the guy was dead already when she got there!

The house wasn’t very large, and I found the dead guy immediately. There was no sign of any interesting evidence, but I did find a servant upstairs who gave me a description of the murderer.

A bit of peeking ahead on the wiki told me that the guy in question was actually one of the same people I needed to go after for Larrius Varro’s quest! And as of this point I was still level 7, so a bit nervous about going after level 9 characters.

So I overlapped this quest with the other action I did for House Hlaalu. When I came back to it, though, I decided to go ahead and try to take a crack at the Council Club where the murderer and his fellow “bad people” were hanging out.

Turned out the murderer was in fact the first one of them I found, and he was by himself in a single room. So I confronted him about his matching the description given by the servant back at the manor, and he tried to swear up and down that Nine-Toes, an Argonian, totally was the actual murderer.

My dude, exactly how sympathetic do you think a Bosmer is going to be to your attempt to deflect blame onto an Argonian? I don’t think so.

I had to taunt him into attacking me, though. And he did put up a decent fight, even though I was wearing better armor. He was wielding a Dwemer axe, which did some notable damage! So I had to burn through several potions.

I did take him out finally, but he was carrying multiple armorers’ hammers. So that loaded me down pretty heavily, and I wasn’t able to pick up his axe to take to sell.

Hla Oad, take two

Went back to re-do getting the money from the guy in Hla Oad, and this time, getting there was easier since I took a different route out of Balmora. It took me two Intimidate checks this time to get the guy to fork over the key to the hidden chest, but otherwise, played out the same.

And this time, I was able to take the boat safely to Vivec to check in and get that quest resolved properly.

Other House quests

Escorted a guy from Vivec to Pelagiad, which was extremely easy, as there was absolutely nothing threatening enough on the road to actually be a risk of killing my charge. He even helped me fight a couple of critters en route.

And I queued up a couple more quests, one from Edryno and one from Nileno. Nileno’s quest will be the last one she can give me–and it’ll be the one that should get me at least a partial set of glass armor. So that’ll definitely be worth taking on.

Next time

I think I’ll go ahead and do Nileno’s last quest, just because I want that glass armor. And then my options for what to do next will be:

  • More House Hlaalu action, if I want to go after that quest that Edryno gave me
  • The quest I have queued up for the Fighters Guild
  • Taking out the rest of the bad guys in the Council club–I want to be able to actually take them on directly via Taunting, and if I’m going to do that, I’ll need to be able to fight three of them at once, hence the need for the glass armor!
  • Swinging back to the main plot, and seeing what Caius wants me to do next

Not sure what it’ll be! Will find out when I play again.


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.