The Elder Scrolls - The Imperial Library
February 15, 2005 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Ever play Morrowind? Did you realise how obscenely gargantuan the backstory and associated literature is? I'm not much of a roleplay geek, but the sheer amount of work to produce this fictious world is kinda hypnotic. And as for this...
posted by Pretty_Generic (32 comments total)
The series' previous installation, Daggerfall, also had an insane amount of history, found in tons of lengthy books all over the kingdom. Which I broke into shops to steal, and then sold back to the owners the next day.

Now, imagine me doing that for about 40 hours without eating or sleeping.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:59 AM on February 15, 2005


Thanks for the link, I almost tried to play Morrowind, but I got so overwhelmed by reading the box, that I sat it down.
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:02 AM on February 15, 2005

Yeah, the meat of the stuff is here and here. Oblivion is going to be "bigger than Morrowind".
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:03 AM on February 15, 2005

dougunderscorenelso - they fixed that in Morrowind by having shopkeepers recognise their own property. However, they didn't fix the fact that with sufficient charm and finesse, you can instantly sell something you've bought from a shopkeeper back to that same shopkeeper for a much higher price than you paid for it. If it's that easy to make money, the temptation to go and risk your life in dungeons is limited at best. I hope they fix that for the next game.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:07 AM on February 15, 2005

I loved Morrowind, the size of it. It was like playing an MMOG only without all the annoying other people. But as cool as the backstory is, the actual writing was pretty poor. Great epics have a deeper story, human themes, a sense of grandeur. Morrowind had the grandeur, but nothing else. Particularly when it came to the quests which, inevitably, turn into "go into this place, kill this thing, bring back a trophy to me".

Contrast this to the writing in Knights of the Old Republic, or Baldur's Gate II. Epics with a deep personal story. I'm not saying Morrowing is bad, it's not, but it is limited.

I'm amazed at how much depth there is in World of Warcraft. For a game that started out as a dinky little RTS there sure is a lot of backstory.
posted by Nelson at 9:22 AM on February 15, 2005

My friends, you have only begun to see the horror...

But let he without geekitude cast the first stone, since I not only played but actually finished Morrowind.
posted by bardic at 9:23 AM on February 15, 2005

But let he without geekitude cast the first stone, since I not only played but actually finished Morrowind.

Pfft, so what? Fully realized Neravarine's are a dime a dozen. Ever manage to finish Daggerfall?

Me neither. Now let's go hang out in Suran. I know a place...

[Slits wrists, pure geek flows out]
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:26 AM on February 15, 2005

One of the great things about Morrowind is the size and scope of the modding community. For instance, I enjoy the quests in The Illuminated order more than any of the ones that shipped with the game. Better Bodies is nice too (screenshots NSFW): the skins and joints the game shipped with are a little iffy, but the modding tools that also shipped with the game allowed for a complete redesign.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:39 AM on February 15, 2005

Great post, PG, my cousin had Morrowind for XBox and that's all I did for my entire Christmas vacation. I finally had to give it up to take my life back. Reading the plot synopsis I am just stunned by how little I had gotten into the main quest. I am almost tempted to go back and finish it now. The whole time I was playing it I was thinking about how many people it had taken to create all the backstory; it's just immense. Oblivion looks gorgeous, and I can just plan on not having any sort of life when it comes out. From the sound of things it might be more like Fable was supposed to be than Fable was. I can't wait.

[goes to the bathroom to take a geek]
posted by daHIFI at 9:40 AM on February 15, 2005

Fable was a fucking joke. It had attractive locations, good combat mechanics, and that's it.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:41 AM on February 15, 2005

I wasted so many days-months of my life playing this game. I went through the first time and finished the main quest, then I played it four more times from the beginning just so I could attain the highest status in all the guilds and whatnot. I could have written 10 dissertations in the time it took me to do this. I am a failure at life.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 9:42 AM on February 15, 2005

TheGoldenOne - all you can achieve in life is your own pleasure. Be at peace.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:43 AM on February 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Pretty, the reason I quit Daggerfall was that, as a thief, dungeons were INSANELY hard. There was nothing making up for my lack of sword or strength, I just had to pick on the weakest enemies, get horribly lost (terrible autmap), and usually either give up on finding the end or get massively overpowered by an extremely strong enemy.

There's something to be said for pre-constructed dungeons, instead of random ones.

Still. I'm curious about Morrowind.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 9:49 AM on February 15, 2005

A lot of people I know just can't stand Morrowind, largely because of its open-ended nature. I think there's too much freedom there for some who are more used to RPGs that walk them in a straight line through the story. To me, that's the best part, and it's what makes the game the best of its genre. You discover the rich world on your own, rather being spoonfed. It's a game that respects its players and doesn't assume idiocy.

How playable are Daggerfall and Arena? I hear they're as buggy as shit.

For what it's worth, dougunderscorenelso, I played a straight out Thief in Morrowind and your combat abilities do advance quite well. What's more is that I've never played an RPG where it's more fun to play a sneaky type than in Morrowind. Stealing is very challenging and very... rewarding (especially when combined with telekinesis).
posted by picea at 10:15 AM on February 15, 2005

I've gotten 30 hours into Morrowind on two different occasions, but I always stop because it becomes too easy after a certain point. That's the tradeoff with open-ended games, I guess.

Oh, and one time I tried playing it on the XBOX and gave up after like an hour. The load times on that are ridiculous.
posted by Hildago at 10:17 AM on February 15, 2005

i played this on the xbox and fell in love with it as the best cosole rpg ever put together. i beat it twice, then played again with a character that never bothered to pursue his destiny as the nevarine. i also played a char that i turned into a vampire.

I actually think the back story was much better realized than kotor. the guilds, associations, races and history of them made the interactions really, really rich.

And unlike kotor, the side stuff was as interesting, if not more interesting than the main mission path. Becoming head of an orginization is fun, fun, fun. And hunting slavers is fun. And looking around for vampires is fun.

You know, I think I'm going to start another game....
posted by lumpenprole at 10:27 AM on February 15, 2005

I beat the game twice. I got so powerful in the game that i was grandmaster of every guild. I was so high level that when i fought the boss, i could wield sunder and keening without the gauntlet thingy that protects you from them (if you've played the game this far you know that you need to use these two weapons at the end and when wielded without the gauntlet it has a constant drain life effect for a lot of hp). It's difficult to become this powerful in most RPGs because there is little freedom. It's fun power tripping and killing everyone in town with 1 hit.
posted by EvilKenji at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2005

How playable are Daggerfall and Arena? I hear they're as buggy as shit.

Can't speak for Arena, but in Daggerfall I'd never get farther than the quest for the King's tomb before some technical issue (a missing quest trigger that the restore save tool couldn't retrieve, a totally corrupted save, a set of circumstances where one crucial move always caused a complete crash, etc.) made further progress impossible. Beautiful, totally immersive game, better than Morrowind in many ways, but yes, buggy as shit.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:36 AM on February 15, 2005

oooh, stop it, you're getting me so hot!
posted by killy willy at 11:37 AM on February 15, 2005

You know, I think I'm going to start another game....

It begins...
posted by Tullius at 1:43 PM on February 15, 2005

Does Bethesda have any plans to bundle (and perhaps fix up, a little) the older games into an anthology-type deal? One of the admins on a MUD I played on would always be singing the praises of Daggerfall in the MUD-wide OOC chat channel, in spite of its numerous technical glitches, and while I think Arena is a free download now I believe it's a DOS game and doesn't work very well on NT-based Windows (NT4/2000/XP).
posted by Kosh at 1:52 PM on February 15, 2005

I'm an avid Elder Scrolls fan. I remember playing Arena on my pentium 60 and double-speed cd-rom. The load times were horrendous at times but I loved it. The riddles in the main dungeons were great too. If you haven't played i t and don't plan to google for "elder scrolls arena riddles" and look at them.

I got daggerfall about a year or so after it came out because I had tried the demo and even IT was buggy. Combine that with all the bugs I read in magazines and such I just waited. When I got it a year later most of those were ironed out and the game was a blast to play. I spent well over 100 hours on it and got only about 1/3 through the story.

Morrowind sucked just as much time out of my life and the main quest is actually finishable. I finished it with a paladin type guy. The one thing I despised about morrowind was that spells were pretty useless because they cost SO much mana compared to the damage/benefit they provided. So the first time through I only used magic to heal and to teleport.

After I finished it I went on a hunt for mods. This is where Morrowind really shines. If you don't like the original game I can almost guarantee you someone had the same problems and fixed them with a mod. There are mods that fix the spell points problem so that it works like Daggerfall (higher magic skill = less spell cost). The extra recall point mod is a savior for those that grew frusterated at the long walking lengths. For those that think it is too easy get the Adventurer's plugin which is a game-wide mod that changes a lot of things. It does make it a lot more difficult and it adds a lot of new creatures. If you were like me and absolutely despised cliff racers there is a mod that removes them from the game completely. You can also add new races, new classes, new weapons, new locations (I use a mod Mage Tower to store all my stuff).

My second time through it I'm about 60% through the main quest and I am guildmaster of mage/fighter/thieve's guild. Once I finish the main quest I am going to move into Tribunal and Bloodmoon. So after probably 200 hours of playing I still have another 50 at least.

About Arena. Bethesda released it for free when morrowind came out. I am not sure if you can still get it from their website or not.

I never paid much attention to the books in any of the games. I do collect them. In morrowind I have probably 100 books sitting around my house that I may get around to reading.

My ramble is complete except for mentioning Redguard which was a great adventure game. It has a lot of dialogue, but it is really fun and has some nice puzzles.
posted by Hypharse at 2:25 PM on February 15, 2005

I looked and you can still download Arena here. It even includes instructions on how to install it.

posted by Hypharse at 2:34 PM on February 15, 2005

Does Bethesda have any plans to bundle (and perhaps fix up, a little) the older games into an anthology-type deal?

There are persistent but unconfirmed rumors that some or all of the Daggerfall source code was lost (somehow) when Bethesda moved offices. So a rerelease is possible but maybe not a fixed and updated version.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 3:04 PM on February 15, 2005

This game ruined all other RPGs for me, as I cannot stand anything which isn't as open ended or grand anymore. I spent more then 140 hours traveling around, collecting books, decorating my house, and freeing every slave I could.

The depth of the backstory is incredible what with the codes you can decipher in the prophecies, the well throughout religions, and the general history of the island. And nothing beats telling a quest-giver to get stuffed, and promptly beat them into a red mist.
posted by Vaska at 3:21 PM on February 15, 2005

Arrgh. I'm envious. I like Morrowind so much. But, I just can't play that stuff for more than 10 minutes without gettting sick.
posted by Jim Jones at 3:27 PM on February 15, 2005

I to have put in more hours of my life into the Arena series than I ought to have. Played through Daggerfall three times from beginning to quest-ending-trigger bug end (about 120 to 150 hours each) over the course of my undergrad career until I finally gave up.

Morrowind, I managed to finish. It's a grand game but I think that the open-ended nature of it makes it rather difficult to code epic scripts consistantly. After finishing the main game, I nerfed my character to make Tribunal a little more interesting. I made the concious decision to put the game away for good when I started grad studies.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:41 PM on February 15, 2005

I just got The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard working on XP. That's no mean feat. I feel the warm glow of inner leetness spreading throughout me.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:09 PM on February 15, 2005

Man, I really enjoyed Daggerfall, but all I ever ended up doing in that game was starting a theif, and getting lots of cash by stealing from the thieves' guild (there was always four piles of loot on the floor, and if you save/reload they respawn) or doing quests from the mages guild to protect some guy (free magic items).

Never actually started the main quest. Ever.
posted by graventy at 8:02 PM on February 15, 2005

I gave up on the pseudo-medieval stuff and started learning about the real thing.. talk about an immense backstory, you wouldnt believe the amount of literature there is to cover, much less artwork. Plus, there are actual buildings, in the real world, it's an amazing trip that could take a lifetime to cover.
posted by stbalbach at 9:46 PM on February 15, 2005

But Bodicea couldn't save and reload.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:19 PM on February 15, 2005

Thanks for the post! I dont know how many hours I spent in Morrowind.. and I just remembered that I still haven't finished the game.
posted by ruelle at 11:40 PM on February 15, 2005

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