Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel Learns the Emperor’s Intentions

Main-plot-wise, this was a significant Morrowind session–because it’s the first one in which Tembriel gets a clue about what the Emperor actually wants of her, and why she was released from prison and sent to Morrowind.

Also, she solved a series of murders in Vivec, and took out the Camonna Tong in Balmora!


  • Play date: 9/9/2022
  • Session number in this run: 16
  • Started in Mages Guild
  • Bought a round of Restoration training from Sharn; leveled up to 10
  • Attempted to go clear out the rest of the Camonna Tong in the Council Club
  • Took me three tries, first two times got killed by the Tong with a poison sword, Vadusa Sathryon
  • Rad to re-do my level up once; took Strength, Agility, Endurance boosts
  • Had to do a lot of taunting of Sovor Trandel to provoke him and the others into attacking me
  • Sovor and Marasa Aren weren’t problems but Vadusa definitely was
  • And I had to do the thing with using the door of the building to escape through, third time through
  • Sold all their stuff to Ra’Virr
  • Went over to Fort Moonmoth to check in with Larrius Varro, who gave me the Ring of Surroundings (cool), and a skill book that bumped my Speechcraft
  • Returned to Mages Guild to drop off stuff
  • Reported to Caius to get his orders for the next step in the main quest: going to Ald’ruhn to talk to the Ashlander there
  • Landed in an ash storm (and isn’t that fun weather to experience in-game during an RL smoke event)
  • Bought him a book and got him to fork over his notes for Caius
  • Returned to Balmora to report back to Caius, who clued me in on what’s actually going on: guess what! The emperor wants you to fulfill this prophecy! (I have a lot of thoughts on this! See below)
  • Got instructed to head north and find out more about how the prophecy applies to me
  • But decided to hit Vivec first and follow up on the murder plot–which was a bad idea
  • Found the murderer and she killed me because I couldn’t figure out how the hell to get out of the water >_<
  • Thrown all the way back to Balmora and the Mages Guild, the point at which I dropped off stuff
  • Re-did going to Ald’ruhn and re-did reporting back to Caius
  • Re-did coming to Vivec after the killer, and this time I got her, though i had to keep burning through potions of Restore Fatigue, and damn good thing I had the Daedric katana
  • Reported back to the watch captain that the killer had been taken care of, and got Belt of the Armor of God (mostly because I don’t want pissed off Ordinators attacking me for wearing their armor)
  • Saved there for the night

The end of Larrius Varro’s little story

Front of this session basically went to resolving the Larrius Varro Tells a Little Story plot. Which meant I had to take out the three remaining Camonna Tong inside the Council Club in Balmora.

This was, in a word, tedious. Because I didn’t want to get the guards pissed off at me for outright murdering them–and I didn’t particularly want to murder them, either. Which meant my only other recourse was to provoke them into attacking me via Taunt.

And right now, my Speechcraft is still pretty damned low. So it took several dozen tries to taunt Sovor Trandel before I hit the necessary threshold to piss him off and make him attack me–which appeared to be a total of five successes. Once I provoked him, that also provoked the other two into attacking me.

The problem with this was that I had to do it three times, because Vadusa Sathryon killed me a couple of times with her vipersword. Of the three, she was the only real challenge.

But damn, it was tedious to have to slog through all those taunts. What this tells me is, I really need to keep bumping up my Speechcraft.

Still, though, I did get the Ring of Surroundings out of it, which might prove handy later. And a skill book to bump my Speechcraft, as well.

Goddammit, Caius, I am not a man

We are now to the point in the game where my character has been clued in on what’s actually going on with why she was sent to Morrowind: the Emperor wants her to fulfill the Nerevarine prophecy.

I have several conflicting reactions about this! And I’m seeing the conversation between Tembriel and Caius going something like this:

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t possibly have read these orders correctly, the Emperor wants me to fulfill this Nerevarine prophecy?”

Caius: “Exactly what part of the orders is unclear, Journeyman Tembriel?”

Me: “Uh, all of it? Starting with the part where I’m a Bosmer? And a woman? Who exactly is going to look at me and say ‘Yes, this little Bosmer girl is absolutely the resurrection of our ancient hero, let’s unite behind her so she can kick all the outlanders out of Morrowind!’ Divines’ sakes, sir, nine out of ten people I meet in this province call me outlander to my face! I am very, very obviously not from around here. Are you telling me there wasn’t a single Dunmer man in any Imperial prison the Emperor couldn’t have recruited for this?”

Caius, sighing: “I know it’s a lot to take in. And you raise good questions. But so far, the Emperor has not chosen to relay to me exactly why you specifically were chosen. Also, keep this in mind: it is not our place, as loyal servants of the Emperor, to argue with his orders. Our duty is to carry those orders out.”

Me, making a face: “Sir, these orders also call me ‘him’. Are you sure the Emperor even sent you the right prisoner?”

Caius, looking me up and down: “I’m sure. They did get your name right, after all. But out of curiosity, did anybody in that prison actually know you were a woman? You’re slim as a boy, you know.”

Me, scowling: “I… didn’t exactly make a point of publicly proclaiming it. I was, after all, in a prison.”

Caius: “Precisely. And that, Journeyman, tells me you had the foresight to protect yourself in a dangerous situation, a foresight you’ve already put to good use for me here in Morrowind. I expect you to continue doing so.”

Me: “Of course, sir, but…”

Caius: “What else is bothering you?”

Me: “What is the point of this? How does it serve the Emperor’s interests to convince the people of Morrowind that I’m the resurrection of Indoril Nerevar? If the whole point of this prophecy is supposed to be to unite the dark elves behind someone who’s going to re-establish all their old customs and laws and drive out all the outlanders, what exactly does the Empire gain from that? Am I supposed to convince the people of Morrowind to unite under the Emperor instead of kicking out all the outlanders?”

Caius, chuckling: “Again, you raise good questions. And between you and me, it wouldn’t surprise me if that is exactly what the Emperor wants. But his secretary has not yet seen fit to convey His Majesty’s intentions beyond what I’ve already showed you. I’m sure we’ll hear more in good time. For now, we can only act on the orders we’re given. Are you prepared to do that?”

Me, thinking to myself that this is at least better than being in a prison: “I… yes. Yes, sir. I’ll carry out the Emperor’s orders.”

Caius: “Good. And one more thing, Journeyman. If the prophecy expects a man, you might want to, ah…”

Me: “Keep not publicly proclaiming I’m a woman?”

Caius: “Yes. Is that going to be a problem?”

Me: “Well, you tell me. You did tell me to join a Great House and maintain a cover story. And Crassius Curio expected to see me naked before he’d agree to sponsor me any further in House Hlaalu.”

Caius, startled: “Ah… I, ah, I see. Well, I recommend you avoid letting anyone else see you naked. Use your best discretion and judgment. Report back to me after you’ve talked to the Ashlanders up north. And be careful.”

So there are two overall things I’m thinking about in this conversation as I’ve written it:

  1. The goddamn game keeps throwing me in-game orders and notes and things that are outright assuming I’m a man, and no goddammit, I’m not playing a man, why is the game assuming I am?
  2. It seems like a big gaping plot hole to me as to why exactly the Emperor wants this prophecy fulfilled to begin with, because it doesn’t exactly seem like it serves Imperial interests.

For point number 1, I’ve basically decided I have to make up an in-game reason as to why all the written documentation seems to think the Nerevarine has to be canonically male, and how that contradiction can resolve when the player is not playing a male character.

Because the more this happens, the more fucking annoying it is. This is the one thing I am actively really not liking about Morrowind. I mean honestly, if you’re going to let players play characters of either gender, why in gods’ name is the in-game material clearly expecting you to be playing a dude?

And while I’m liking the story and world well enough that I will probably do at least one more playthrough–I want to try OpenMW, if nothing else–it is highly probable that I’ll try to install a mod to resolve this problem. I went looking; there’s at least one. I want to see what my options are to solve this.

As I’ve written before in earlier Tembriel posts, there’s only a certain level of frustration I can muster about this, because this game is twenty years old. And Bethesda did learn to do better later.

And I think I’m also going to assume for the sake of my own headcanon that Imperial sources just did a shit job of translating all the material they’ve come across about the Nerevarine prophecies. After all, if these people got my character’s gender wrong just writing up the orders to send to my Blades commander, I could buy that they made equally shitty gender choices when translating the stuff about the prophecies. They’re all just assuming that the Nerevarine is going to be a dude.

And from what I’ve seen about the plot in what little peeking forward I’ve done, it seems fairly obvious that the actual Dunmer of Morrowind are going to give way less of a fuck about it. So that’s good at least.

Regarding point number 2, though, I’m still real curious as to whether the game’s going to make it clear exactly what the Emperor wants out of all of this.

It seems most logical to me that the Emperor wants to set up a convenient “Nerevarine” in a gambit to try to unite Morrowind for the Empire. But I also kind of suspect that Azura’s actually manipulating him, and this is a thing I am deliberately not looking ahead to read up on, just because I want to maintain some element of surprise here. We’ll see if my suspicions are correct.

What the guard force of Vivec clearly needs is an outlander

After talking to Caius, I wanted to divert back off the main plot for a bit, so I decided to head back to Vivec and follow up on this rumor of multiple murders going on–with a victim count so far of five outlanders and two Ordinators.

Which, naturally, required me to go hit up a captain of the watch for info about this. And that, naturally, meant that he was all “I can’t possibly actually hire you, you’re an outlander. But hey, if you can go handle this on the sly, I will totally reward you.”

Uh-huh. This, I figure, didn’t exactly sit well with Tembriel after having just protested to Caius that how the hell is she supposed to convince any of these people that she’s their Nerevarine? She did, I suppose, decide to do this by way of trying to make herself useful.

This did, however, turn out to be a challenge. I found the murderer lurking down in the bottom level of the Foreign Quarter, but the first time through she actually killed me–because I was in the water at the time, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of there so I could actually fight her.

Why was I in the water? Because the various sections of that level did not appear to be contiguous, and I couldn’t figure out how to get to the part where she was. So I was trying to swim over there.

Bad idea. Because this woman was armed with a blade that did severe Fatigue damage, so I had no ability to actually get out of the water, either away from her or towards her. She killed me in short order.

And I’d neglected to save enough (SAVE EARLY, SAVE OFTEN, ME), so I got thrown all the way back to Balmora, at the point at which I’d just finished up taking out the Camonna Tong.

So I had to re-do going to Ald’ruhn and re-do reporting back to Caius.

Once I made it back to Vivec for round two, however, I found the right trap door to get down into the murderer’s part of that level. She was still quite the challenge to fight, mind you, with that Fatigue-draining blade of hers. But I had a whole lot of potions of Restore Fatigue. And my Daedric katana. So I finally managed to take her out.

And report successfully back to the watch captain, and get him to give me the Belt of the Armor of God. Which I will have to try out in a future battle.

You’re welcome, Captain Andas, and I hope your Ordinators remember this next time you bitch at passing outlanders.

Final note

For the record, tromping around in Ald’ruhn during an ash storm in-game, and a smoke event with actual falling ash going on outside my house, was just a little bit too on the nose.

Next time

Next session after this one’s already played! So I can tell you it’ll feature my excursion into the north to try to help out a Buoyant Armiger in her quest to take out a necromancer in Vas!


Editing to add

  • 11/23/2023: Restoring 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.