The Elder Scrolls is a series of role-playing-games--currently five--with the primary goal of giving players complete freedom to construct a character using deep and complex character creation tools and specialized skills with the ultimate goal of molding an alternate persona in an open ended world. Morrowind's story occurs on a large volcanic island known as Vvardenfell in the Dunmer--though ruled by the Imperial Legion--province of Morrowind. The incredibly expansive world is open to exploration, offering a range of unique landscapes, dungeons, caves, and towns.
Morrowind is big in every sense of the word. There are twenty-seven skills, linked to eight attributes, to master in the game. Skills are increased by using them. If you wish to improve your effectiveness with the long blade, then you must use a long blade to gain knowledge in that skill. However, there are trainers scattered around the world that will 'train' you in a specific skill for a fee. When you level up, you get points to spend in the attributes. There are pre-made classes to choose from, but you can also answer a series of questions to have the game generate one for you, or you could just make one yourself by picking from the range of attributes and major and minor skills. There are over 300 books in the game, not counting the scrolls you can find. One particular compilation of the text runs to 1,241 pages on 8.26'' by 11.00'' sized paper.
Morrowind is a deep game with an emphasis on role-playing (and atmosphere), allowing you to do whatever you wish in the world, when you want. The non-linear design gives players a huge variety of options as to what they can do and how they can act, and the storyline can be pursued at your leisure or ignored completely in favor of the huge number of side-quests and exploration opportunities.
The Demigod Dagoth Ur has successfully used the Heart of Lorkhan to make himself immortal and now seeks to cast out the Imperial forces occupying Morrowind.
The game starts with the protagonist in prison, a staple of the Elder Scrolls games. The player is released from a prison boat into a small fishing village called Seyda Neen.
In the waning years of the
Third Era of Tamriel,
a prisoner born on a certain day
to uncertain parents was sent
under guard, without explanation, to Morrowind,
ignorant of the role he was
to play in that nation's history…
In the Census office the released prisoner is given a package by an Imperial Officer to be delivered to a man named Caius Cosades who is currently residing in the town of Balmora. Thus begins the game, and story in earnest. The player at this point is given the freedom to visit any location and complete any side quest without harming or disrupting the main questline. If you so wish, the prisoner continues onward to a new life and Balmora; the main hub of the Hlaalu faction and major economic center that effectively links the civilized western world with the technologically backwards and savage east.
Upon arriving at Cosades abode, the player is admitted as a novice into the Empire serving faction "Blades". The Blades is indicated to be an organization with the duty of spying for the Empire; "We're spies. We're the Emperor's hidden eyes and ears in the provinces." Cosades gives you your second task: visit his friend Hasphat Antabolis at the Balmora Fighters Guild and get schooled on the local lore and learn of various cults gaining strength in Vvardenfell. Unfortunately, Hasphat Antabolis won't simply share his knowledge for nothing and thus gives you your third task: visit a nearby Dwemer ruin and find a specific artifact.
Upon the retrieval and delivery of the artifact, Antabolis gives the player notes to be delivered to Cosades and read by you. The note describes the various cults in Vvardenfell: the Sixth House, "House Dagoth is an extinct Great House. In the wake of the ancient Battle of Red Mountain, its leadership was revealed to have plotted treason, and was discredited", and information on relevant historical events, the War of the First Council: "...a First Age religious conflict between the secular Dunmer Houses Dwemer and Dagoth and the orthodox Dunmer Houses Indoril, Redoran, Dres, Hlaalu, and Telvanni.". And the Nerevarine cult: "When the Dunmer followed Veloth to Morrowind, they were many warring clans ... One Dunmer warlord, Nerevar, had the ambition to rule all the Dunmer."
The player is tasked, from Cosades, to seek further information on the Nerevarine by searching for ancient texts and informants scattered around Vvardenfell. Why all this is important to the player remains a mystery, until Cosades reveals that the Imperial Legion believes the player character could very well be the Nerevarine reborn. The benefits the Empire could reap from such an event would be immense; having an ancient Dunmer man-god ally would gain the Imperial Legion an even stronger foothold in Morrowind, and the continued attempts of thwarting Dagoth Ur and his fanatical cults would win some support amongst the native Dunmer.
Cosades is recalled to the Imperial City; "Internal politics. Some concern about my sugar ... As the Emperor's health declines, factions are maneuvering for advantage. I may be gone a while ...". The player is now the top ranking Blades agent in Vvardenfell. The player continues on his or her journey to discover whether they truly are the Nerevarine; and is soon on the search for ancient prophecies, 'the Lost Prophecies'.
"From seventh sign of eleventh generation,
Neither Hound nor Guar, nor Seed nor Harrow,
But Dragon-born and far-star-marked,
Outlander Incarnate beneath Red Mountain,
Blessed Guest counters seven curses,
Star-blessed hand wields thrice-cursed blade,
To reap the harvest of the unmourned house."
The search leads the player to a monastery where they are informed they must go through a series of tests to determine if they truly are the Nerevarine. The first prophesy being that the Nerevarine, incarnate of Nerevar, is born from uncertain parents on a certain day. The second prophesy dictates that the Nerevarine must contract and overcome the Corprus disease. The fourth, the player character must find Indoril Nerevar's ring Moon-and-Star. Upon finding the Moon-and-Star, the player has a vision and Azura, a Daedric Queen, confirms that the player is indeed the Nerevarine.
The fifth and sixth prophesies see the Nerevarine rally the people of Vvardenfell under a single banner. In order to do so, the player must be acknowledged as a war leader, the so called Hortator, by all three Great Houses of Morrowind (Hlaalu, Redoran, and Telvanni), and as Nerevarine, the true incarnate of Nerevar, by four native Dunmer tribes (Ahemmusa, Zainab, Urshilaku, and Erabenimsun). Shortly after that, Vivec, the warrior-poet man-God of Morrowind, invites the Nerevarine to his palace to discuss Dagoth Ur, his followers, and the Heart of Lorkhan. The Heart is immune to normal weapons and requires the ancients Dwemer artifacts. 'Wraithguard' to protect the user, and 'Sunder' and 'Keening' to cause damage to the Heart itself.
After finding 'Sunder' and 'Keening', the Nerevarine then travels to Red Mountain to Dagoth Urs stronghold. The player finds Dagoth Ur deep within Red Mountain. Dagoth Ur attempts trick the Nerevarine into joining him and asks the Nerevarine his last questions: "My first question is: Are you really Nerevar reborn?" the Nerevarine responds: "By the grace of gods and fate, I am Nerevar reborn.". After a short discourse, Dagoth Ur and the Nerevar incarnate, long ago brothers fighting together for the same cause, now commence fighting each other.
After overpowering Dagoth Ur, he retreats to the hall where the Heart of Lorkhan resides. Before the Nerevarine can hope to defeat Dagoth Ur, he must first destroy the Heart with 'Sunder' and 'Keening'. Upon destroying both Dagoth Ur and the Heart of Lorkhan, the Nerevarine escapes the crumbling cave and surfaces to find the Blight gone and Azura waiting for him or her;
"You no longer bear the burden of prophecy.
You have achieved your destiny.
You are free.
The doomed Dwemer's folly, Lord Dagoth's temptation,
the Tribunal's seduction, the god's heart freed,
the prophecy fulfilled.
All fates sealed and sins redeemed.
If you have pity, mourn the loss, but let the weeping cease.
The Blight is gone, and the sun's golden honey gilds the land.
Hail savior, Hortator, and Nerevarine.
Your people look to you for protection.
Monster and villains great and small still threaten the people of Vvardenfell.
Enemies and evils abound, yet indomitable will might rid Morrowind of all its ills.
For you, our thanks and blessings; our gift and token given.
Come; take this thing from the hand of god."
This marks the end of the main story. After Defeating Dagoth Ur and the Heart of Lorkhan, the Nerevarine remains on Vvardenfell to protect and serve the people of Morrowind.
However, you do not need to follow the main questline; after leaving the Census you can simple drop all main quest items and never touch the main quest. You can complete side quests for citizens of Vvardenfell in need of help. Alternatively, there are also guilds to join, each of which offer a line of quests of their own.
Besides the quest storylines, the Elder Scrolls III continues and furthers the deep and detailed fiction, or lore, surrounding Tamriel and Nirn. The Elder Scrolls series is well renowned and praised for its fiction, often being compared to Tolkien's Middle-Earth in depth and quality of writing.
For more on the setting, see Nirn.
At any time the player can undertake any number of side-quests. There are hundreds of quests to find in Morrowind. There are three political great house factions and seven lesser guilds. The player can only join one great house, but is free to join any and every lesser guild with your character. The factions/guilds don't follow a linear story in the same vein as the main quest, but some do have a continuing story over several quests, and often have a set goal and/or "end-quest" for the player to work toward. They sometimes even intersect with one another across factions. Aside from the factions/guilds there are many other quests to find in towns, in all the different dungeons and other locations scattered across the map, or just out on the roads and plains.
Players start the game creating a character which they will advance throughout the course of the game. Eleven separate races are available to choose from, each having their own abilities and bonuses. Players can also choose their "birthsign," which also adds bonuses and abilities, before they are released into the world almost immediately after starting the game. Morrowind's completely open world is all available to the player to explore from the moment they disembark from the prison ship, although certain towns and villages must be visited to advance the main quest. Unlike Oblivion, encounters do not scale to match the player's level. As such, it is quite possible to run into impossibly high-level situations as a weak player accidentally, or spend an obscene amount of time grinding to a high level, then just crush all the lower-level quests and instances available in the world with minimal effort.
High Elves, or Altmer as they call themselves, are seen as the most noble race in Tamriel. Tall and gold skinned, High Elves originate from their home land of Summerset Isle. High Elves are especially gifted in magic arts but are also weak to its damages.
Argonians originated from the swamps of the Black Marsh. Reptilian looking and expert hunters Argonians are well equipped for both land and water warfare.
Considered the barbarians of all the the elf races. Wood Elves live and originate in the trees of Valenwood. Expert marksmen and gifted in stealth, Wood Elves make especially good thieves and scouts.
The ancestral land of the Bretons is High Rock. Being gifted in the arts of magic, many Bretons become mages or sorcerers.
The Dark Elves, or 'Dunmer' as they like to call themselves, inhabit the land of Morrowind. These dark skinned elves are tough and fearless, having provided some of the fiercest resistance in Tamriel to Imperial expansion under the leadership of their living gods, Vivec, Almalexia and Sotha Sil, making them known as some of the best warriors in all of Tamriel. They are skilled in both combat and magic on the battlefield.
From their homeland in Cyrodiil (the setting of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), Imperials are the protectors and peace keepers of the glorious Empire of Tamriel. Although not as physically imposing as other races, their discipline and mastery of a multitude of skills have allowed them to emerge as the supreme rulers of Tamriel.
The Khajiit are feline like creatures originating from Elsweyr. A Khajiit's natural agility and acrobatic skills make them expert thieves.
Tall and strong, Nords make tough and resilient warriors. Born in the cold lands of Skyrim, Nords are especially resistant to cold and frost. Nord are also known to be great warriors due to their skills in weaponry and armor.
Courageous and strong, Orcs or Orsimer as they are sometimes called, are from the land of Orsinium, but inhabit many other areas of High Rock alongside the Bretons. With green skin and sharp teeth, Orcs are fearless on the front line and make brutally effective warriors.
Quick and agile warriors, Redguards make good skirmishers and scouts. They originate from the desert region of Hammerfell.
The following is an explanation of the birthsigns within the world of Morrowind (Tamriel). It is an excerpt taken from the book in the game called The Firmament which was written by Ffoulke.
"The Stars of Tamriel are divided into thirteen constellations. Three of them are the major constellations, known as the Guardians. These are The Warrior, The Mage, and The Thief. Each of the Guardians protects its three Charges from the thirteenth constellation, The Serpent.
When the sun rises near one of the constellations, it is that constellation's season. Each constellation has a Season of approximately one month. The Serpent has no season, for it moves about in the heavens, usually threatening one of the other constellations.
The Warrior is the first Guardian Constellation and he protects his charges during their Seasons. The Warrior's own seas is Last Steed when his Strength is needed for the harvest. His Charges are The Lady, The Steed, and The Lord. Those born under the sign of The Warrior are skilled with weapons of all kinds, but prone to short tempers.
The Mage is a Guardian Constellation whose Season is Rain's Hand when magicka was first used by men. His Charges are The Apprentice, The Golem, and The Ritual. Those born under the Mage have more magicka and talent for all kinds of spellcasting, but are often arrogant and absent-minded.
The Thief is the last Guardian Constellation, and her Season is the darkest month of Evening Star. Her Charges are The Lover, The Shadow, and The Tower. Those born under the sign of the Thief are not typically thieves, though they take risks more often and only rarely come to harm. They will run out of luck eventually, however, and rarely live as long as those born under other signs.
The Serpent wanders about in the sky and has no Season, though its motions are predictable to a degree. No characteristics are common to all who are born under the sign of the Serpent. Those born under this sign are the most blessed and the most cursed.
The Lady is one of The Warrior's Charges and her Season is Heartfire. Those born under the sign of the Lady are kind and tolerant.
The Steed is one of The Warrior's Charges, and her Season is Mid Year. Those born under the sign of the Steed are impatient and always hurrying from one place to another.
The Lord is one of The Warrior's Charges. Its Season is First Seed and he oversees all of Tamriel during the planting. Those born under the sign of the Lord are stronger and healthier than those born under other signs.
The Apprentice is one of The Mage's charges and its Season is Sun's Height. Those born under the sign of the apprentice have a special affinity for magick of all kinds, but are more vulnerable to magick as well.
The Atronach (often called the Golem) is one of The Mage's Charges. Its season is Sun's Dusk. Those born under this sign are natural sorcerers with deep reserves of magicka, but they cannot generate magicka of their own.
The Ritual is one of The Mage's Charges and its Season is Morning Star. Those born under this sign have a variety of abilities depending on the aspects of the moons and the Divines.
The Lover is one of The Thief's Charges and her season is Sun's Dawn. Those born under the sign of the Lover are graceful and passionate.
The Shadow is one of The Thief's Charges and its Season is Second Seed. The Shadow grants those born under her sign the ability to hide in shadows.
The Tower is one of The Thief's Charges and its Season is Frostfall. Those born under the sign of the Tower have a knack for finding gold and can open locks of all kinds.
There are 27 skills governed by 8 attributes in Morrowind.
Morrowind ships with The Elder Scrolls Construction Set, a program players can use to tweak aspects of the game. Mods exist for new races, different texture sets, completely new houses, player-made quests and guilds, and more. Mods are one of the principle reasons why Morrowind is so replayable. A number of websites exist that encourage player modifications to the game and host player-uploaded modifications.
The Elder Scrolls community have hand selected a few popular mods for their Hall of Fame.
Morrowind Overhaul- Sounds and Graphics
A complete compilation of replacements for the graphics in Morrowind. Includes all the notable mods, and greatly enhances the look of the game.
BTB's must have mods list
Pluto's Mod Recommendations to New Players
Povuholo's ToMorrowind List
Since Morrowind's release, Bethesda have delivered two expansion packs for the game. Tribunal was released in the U.S. on November 6th 2002, whilst Bloodmoon arrived on June 3rd 2003. Both featured completely new and unique settings, with Bloodmoon taking place on the island of Solstheim to the north of Vvardenfell, and Tribunal taking place in Morrowind's capital city, Mournhold. In addition to the new locations, the expansions featured new independent Main Quests alongside new side quests. The expansion made improvements to the game's Journal, organizing quest threads into separate sections instead of a linear format, which forced players to spend time flipping back through the Journal for long periods of time to find quest details. A Game of the Year Edition was released in October '03, which included the original game and both the expansions. This version (along with Oblivion's Game of the Year Edition) was also made available on Steam on June 16, 2009.
Morrowind's soundtrack was composed by Jeremy Soule and earned an AIAS nomination for Best Soundtrack. The original CD was included with the Collector's Edition and contained the following 15 tracks.
Length (Total Length: 40:22)
Bright Spears, Dark Blood
Over the Next Hill
Dance of Swords
The Road Most Traveled
Blessing of Vivec
Stormclouds on the Battlefield
Shed Your Travails
Drumbeat of the Dunmer
In 2006, Soule released a remastered edition through his website, directsong.com that contained the following 21 tracks.
Over The Next Hill
Bright Spears Dark Blood
The Road Most Traveled
Dance of Swords
Blessing of Vivec
Shed Your Travails
Stormclouds on the Battlefield
Drumbeats of the Dunmer
The Prophecy Fulfilled
Nerevar Rising Reprise
The Elder Scrolls: Arena
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (not part of the main series)
The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard (not part of the main series)
The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal (expansion pack)
The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon (expansion pack)
The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold (not part of the main series)
The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar (not part of the main series)
The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey (not part of the main series)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim