Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel is Stymied by Forgetting to Save

I discovered a big problem with having had a bunch of my gaming cycles eaten by playing Elder Scrolls Online: it broke the habit I was trying to establish for myself in Morrowind of saving as often as possible. Read below for exactly how this broke my play session this time through, and cost me notable progress in the Urshilaku Burial Caverns!


  • Play date: 11/3/2022
  • Session number in this run: 28
  • Went out to do some soul gem filling around Balmora, and successfully filled four Greater Soul Gems; didn’t want to waste the one Grand I have on a rat or a nix-hound or cliff racer, so I stopped at that point
  • Aimed down towards the southwest to get some coda flowers since they are another levitation ingredient; got a few of those
  • Skirted the edges of Hla Oad
  • Stopped at Seyda Neen to sell things to the trader
  • Went into the nearby Addamasartus to see if there was any loot I’d missed; answer: yes, a bit (though nothing cool)
  • So came back out and silt-stridered back to Balmora
  • Sold a few more things
  • Then cast Recall to boing back to the Burial Caverns
  • Unsuccessful at levitation, kept falling into the water at the bottom of the cavern; surprised it didn’t kill me 😛
  • So punted to a backup plan: trying the other chambers I could access to get loot for selling
  • This worked on one of the side chambers, though i had to creatively stack things to pick them all up in one go
  • Amulet’d out to Gnisis and wound up selling almost all the cool things there
  • Silt-stridered in multiple hops until I finally got to Vivec
  • Stopped at the alchemist I’d sorta kinda robbed before and bought coda flowers off of her
  • Then headed up to the top level of the foreign quarter
  • At which point I learned a critical thing: BOY HOWDY DO THE MAGES GET PISSED IF YOU PICK THEIR PLANTS
  • Had to roll back to previous autosave and lost all my progress in the Burial Caverns, AUGH
  • New plan: tried to re-do getting back to Balmora
  • Only to have the damn game crash on me, so thrown back to the autosave ONE MORE TIME
  • Finally gathered ingredients and decided to hit Fort Moonmoth and buy coda flowers from the guy there, then returned to Balmora
  • Decided to sell the soul gems i’d filled since I discovered they did not charge the Steel Blade of Heaven very fast, and selling them for the gold was going to be more beneficial
  • So I sold three of them to Galbedir and got her to train my Alchemy up to 25
  • Then I went downstairs and bought racer plumes off of Sharn and Ajira
  • Got Ajira to train my Alchemy up to 28
  • At which point I was able to make a slightly less terrible Levitate potion so there’s that
  • Repaired my gear and saved for the night


Two big lessons from this session were:

  2. For Divines’ sake DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT pick the plants inside the Mages Guild in Vivec

The first of these, I think, is a direct consequence of my having played a lot of Elder Scrolls Online lately. With an MMO, you don’t have to worry about frequently saving your game. Your progress is all server-side.

With Skyrim and Morrowind, not so much. And I knew this. I even went to the trouble to assign a menu to my left trackpad which explicitly includes an option to emulate F5 for QuickSave. But did I use it in this session? No I did not.

And this bit me severely once the thing with the Mages Guild happened. And really, this is entirely on me. I should have realized that picking a plant inside a populated public building was going to get me in trouble. I haven’t ever done it in Skyrim, but I have seen things like plants inside the Winking Skeever being tagged as red, i.e., “Steal”, if I roll my pointer over them.

Morrowind, I note, is not as forgiving as Skyrim is in this respect. It gives you zero warning if a thing you’re thinking about picking up would in fact be stealing.

Now that said: I’m ambivalent about this specific instance. Because half of me is all “well derp I should have realized this would be a problem.” The other half of me is going “holy shit you guys, what the hell, it’s a fucking plant and it will grow back, you’re attacking me and booting me out of the Guild for this?!”

For me as a player, though, I find I really miss that little indicator of “if you pick this thing up, you will be stealing it, are you sure you want to do this?” So when I get to the point of a second Morrowind playthrough (and I do want to try OpenMW), I will have to try a mod that will add that kind of ownership indicator. Which apparently does exist!

Before I get to that point, though, I need to finish this playthrough. And for purposes of getting past this particular hurdle, I immediately went, “Well, shit, this can’t stand, I need to roll back…”

At which point I discovered that since I hadn’t been frigging saving my game, my last save was an autosave taken while I was still derping around in the southwest corner of the island, looking for coda flowers.

Which meant I’d be losing all of the loot gathering I’d just done in the Burial Caverns. AUGH.

But, well, I had no real choice in the matter. So I rolled back. And attempted to re-do my ingredients gathering, to try to take another run at the Burial Caverns.

Only for that to get stymied by the damn game crashing while I was on my way back to Seyda Neen.

So rollback yet again, and by this point I didn’t feel like returning to Vivec or re-doing the visit in Addamasartus. Instead, I went to Fort Moonmoth since one of the NPCs there was another source of coda flowers, which I bought.

Then I returned to the Mages Guild in Balmora, where I acted on another thing I discovered: i.e., that the filled soul gems I had only dropped a few extra points of charge on the Steel Blade of Heaven, which was not useful for charging it up quickly. So instead of using them to charge the blade, I sold three of them to Galbedir, and used that money to pay her and Ajira to train up my Alchemy. I got up to 28 doing that.

So now I’m able to at least make Levitate potions that suck slightly less. And hopefully I’ll have better chances at actually creating potions in general. A lot of my potion attempts in this session were failures, which meant I was wasting the ingredients for making additional Levitate potions!

Next time

I will apparently need to do more prep work before I blip back to the Burial Caverns for another go at the loot there. Things I plan to do:

  1. Follow the guidance on the other wiki I usually use, to identify exactly where the good loot is in the big twisty chamber, so I minimize how much flailing I do in the air when levitating (I want that Wizard Staff, dammit)
  2. See if I can buy back some of the shitty soul gems I’d previously sold to Balmora merchants now that I have a reliable way to fill them
  3. See about running a side dungeon to stock up on additional soul gems
  4. Maybe take another stab at the side chambers in the Burial Caverns for loot selling purposes?
  5. Take what money I can get, boost my Alchemy some more, and make more Levitate potions

Lather, rinse, and repeat, until the Steel Blade of Heaven is maxed up again and I can take another stab at the really good loot in the Caverns, until I’m finally ready to go for the bow.


Didn’t take any screenshots this session.

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.