Morrowind,  Tembriel Playthrough

In Which Tembriel Tries to Decide What to Do Next

Here’s a post to get caught up on my Morrowind playthrough! Not a huge amount of action in this one, this was mostly me doing some low-stress things as I think about what I want to do next in the aftermath of Caius being recalled to Cyrodiil.

Play by play

  • Play dates: 5/15, 5/18/2023
  • Session numbers in this run: 36-37

Thursday the 15th

  • Picked up at Mages Guild in Balmora
  • Silt-stridered to Vivec
  • Hoofed it east trying to find the route to the mudcrab merchant
  • Found Ald Sotha, which turned out to be a Daedric shrine, yikes; killed by flame atronach >_<
  • Thrown back to Mages Guild
  • Went to Caldera instead, sold glass boots to Creeper
  • Mages-Guild-boinged back to Balmora, then silt-stridered again to Vivec
  • This time successfully found the mudcrab
  • Amulet’d out and landed in Molag Mar
  • Silt-stridered two hops back to Balmora
  • Took training from various trainers
  • Checked in with Dondos Driler in House Hlaalu, stronghold is still pending
  • Went to Caius’s house and LOL I can use the place now yay?

Sunday the 18th

  • Picked up again at Caius’s house
  • It was late game-time so I tried to sleep–and was awakened by an ash zombie breaking into the house :O
  • Went back to bed but Tembriel probably didn’t sleep very well ;P
  • Ggot up in the morning and went over to House Hlaalu again to check in about the stronghold
  • Was told to go check on the progress so got directions and headed over there on foot
  • Found the stronghold after some hunting and spoke to the foreman, or at least fore-Orc; was told things are going well
  • Decided to go to Vivec next for Fighters Guild questing
  • Hoofed it slowly over towards Vivec and killed assorted critters en route
  • Ran the quest to get a Juicedaw ring, which did not require leaving Vivec
  • Got the next quest for going to silence an Argonian
  • Left off there until next time

About the mudcrab merchant

I didn’t have much in the way of goals in these two small sessions. Mostly, I wanted to find the mudcrab merchant and see if I could sell him stuff, and also do a little light questing.

And about the mudcrab, I’ll say this: while I’m amused that an actual talking mudcrab exists in Morrowind, I find him kind of underwhelming in actual practice. As anybody who’s been regularly following my playthrough blogging should be able to figure out by now, I care a lot about the story and worldbuilding of a game I’m playing. And if you’re going to give me a talking animal in a game that doesn’t otherwise actually have that, I’m going to want to know okay, why, exactly, is this mudcrab able to talk?

And why the mudcrab is apparently sitting on a stock of booze and 10,000 gold?

But the mudcrab isn’t helpful if you actually ask him about this. His dialogue shows that he is, in fact, drunk. And he’s basically all “I’m a mudcrab, I talk, what else do you need to know, are you going to buy something or what?”

And, well, meh. It’s cute and all. And kind of funny that the merchant that has the biggest stock of gold available in the game is, in fact, a mudcrab. But ultimately, it strikes me as kind of pointless.

Of course, being me, I naturally find the back of my brain trying to make up a headcanon for this crab. Easiest answer is probably a mage who managed to transform himself into a mudcrab without meaning to. And now he’s stuck on a little island where some smugglers had left a cache of booze and gold, and he’s been consoling himself by drinking the booze. And trying to sell it to anybody who manages to find him. There! Backstory!

Dara suggests it could have been a situation in the opposite direction, too–a creature who was just a standard mudcrab until some mage’s stray spell hit it and gave sentience. Because that’s just as plausible in Tamriel’s lore as a mage managing to transform himself accidentally into a mudcrab, that’s for damn sure.

And as I thought about it, I also could totally see a situation here of the mage maybe even trying to figure out a cure for lycanthropy. Maybe the intent was to figure out how to help a werewolf stay in human form! Only it backfired horribly, and now the mage is stuck in mudcrab form. That could work too.

I’ll leave aside the question of how, exactly, a mudcrab manages to get drunk. LOL.

Here’s the thing, too, about him having 10,000 gold: that still wasn’t enough for me to sell him any of the really expensive loot I’ve been acquiring. I have one item I could have sold him, a demon katana, but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I wanted to sell it.

Regardless of how I decide to deal with the katana, I also don’t have the patience to go through the steps the game apparently wants you to do if you want to artificially bolster the crab’s available gold so you can sell him expensive stuff. By which I mean: going through repeated cycles of selling and buying until the merchant has a big enough cash reserve to buy the really expensive thing you want to sell.

Maybe if I’d played Morrowind when it first came out, this would have seemed more acceptable to me? I don’t know. But since I started with Skyrim, I’m way more accustomed to how selling things in Skyrim works. And all the merchants in Skyrim are a lot easier to get to than the mudcrab in Morrowind, for that matter.

I’m given to understand that there should be a merchant with a stock of 25,000 gold once I start playing the Tribunal content, but this playthrough isn’t to that point yet. And I also am seeing in search results that I could also consider using expensive magical weapons to finance enchanting items. That seems like a productive thing to do, since I’d definitely like to drop some enchantments on Tembriel’s glass armor.

Surprise ambush at Caius’s house

I had not realized that, once I got far enough along in this plot, that I would be vulnerable to attack by ash zombies when sleeping. Even when inside a house in a population center like Balmora.

So Tembriel was already getting periodically attacked by the Dark Brotherhood while sleeping, which as you might expect had her on edge already. And then there are the nightmares she’s been periodically having (which, in addition to the ones about her being the Nerevarine, I am also now declaring include ones about abandoning her sister Ganniwer, too). She already wasn’t sleeping well, is what I’m saying here.

And the first night she tried to sleep in Caius’s house, thinking maybe it might be a bit more private than the Mages Guild with only one door for any hostiles to come through, what happens but her getting attacked by an ash zombie. Yikes.

I have some questions about how exactly a creature like an ash zombie managed to make it into Balmora and break into a house without any of the town guard actually spotting it. Because I should think an alarming sight like that would attract some attention! Maybe it was given a bit of a stealth boost by Dagoth Ur? Don’t know!

Regardless, it was quite the surprise. And I think Tembriel is now rethinking the wisdom of sleeping in a small house by herself.

Following up on the stronghold

I’m still torn between actually liking that building myself a stronghold should take some work, and finding myself impatient with having to do a bunch of “hey is my stronghold done yet?”

On the one hand, having it take a while is absolutely more plausible than singlehandedly building an entire house in Skyrim.

On the other hand, so much of Morrowind moves at a slower pace that I like, and that makes me go for chrissakes just make my house already so I can stash my stuff.

At least, once I get into the second and third phases of the stronghold building, there will be actual quests to do. And that’ll make it more interesting. Looking forward to that part.

Fighters Guild quest in Vivec

Not much to say about this one. Bog-simple “go get me a thing” quest, from an NPC who couldn’t be arsed to walk from the Foreign Quarter over to the Hlaalu Canton just to get a ring. Geez, Lorbumol, step outside for once, why don’t you? Get some fresh air. It’d do you good. Okay okay, fine, I’ll go get the ring for you. 😉

Next time

I’ll probably run the “go tell the Argonian to shut up” quest, and I’m glad I read about it first on the wiki. Just on the grounds that a lot of the Fighters Guild quests, after a certain point, definitely seem unnecessarily cruel. So I’ll definitely be doing the “hey, you just leave town, okay?” option for this quest. I’m not going to kill an Argonian just because an Orc in the Fighters Guild thinks he talks too much.


Editing to add

  • 11/25/2023: 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.