Elder Scrolls Morrowind Construction Set NPC Tutorial
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Dave Foster's Morrowind Construction Set Tutorials

The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind Construction Set NPC Tutorial

Page updated 25th March, 2010

After seeing how popular the construction set tutorials have been from the number of emails I have received and the number of messages on the newbie tutorial page, I have decided to create a blog where I can answer your questions in full and where other modders can provide feedback on how they are progressing. This blog is called the Morrowind and Oblivion Blog. If you feel that you need help with a more personal touch, then why not try posting your questions, suggestions and useful tips in the open post that I have called 'Please use this post for CS help and general chitchat'. I would like to hear your problems and ideas, so come along and check out the blog. Dave.

The first tutorial covered the use of the CS for the beginner including : opening and loading a mod, keyboard shortcuts, coordinate system, copying and pasting another house into Moonrest in the Five Keys of Azura mod.

The second tutorial set up the interior of the house and linked the interior to the exterior.

This tutorial will re-decorate the house by removing certain object, place new objects, and set-up the ownership on all objects in the house. We'll then discuss the use of NPC's in Morrowind, and place the owner of the house.

  • Step 1

Open up the CS and arrange it to suit your needs. Open up the mod and focus the CS on the interior of your new house in Moonrest.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

  • Step 2

We are now going to modify the interior of the house. First off, we need to know who owns the house, so we'll create a new NPC to be the owner.

We already have an NPC in the house, the one we copied with the contents of the house. He's in the top left corner. Delete him by ensuring he's the only highlighted object, then press the DELETE key. Now, look in the Object Window and find the NPC Tab. Select it. What I would do now, would be to look through the NPC's that I'm interested in and select him into the house. This is the easiest way, for now, so click in the the ID column header to sort the column alphabetically starting at 'a shady smuggler'.

Let's just talk about naming conventions a little. When creating a new mod, we need to be able to find all our changes quite quickly, and the best way to do that is to ensure the names we give to all the objects we use start with the same combination of letters. So, for instance, we could use our own initials, or the initials of the mod's title. My name is Dave Foster, so we could name every new or modified object with the letters df_ e.g. df_mynewnpc. If you scroll down the column, you will see that I've used the latter, fkoa_ since this is more likely to be unique. The only thing I would say, is to ensure you stick to the convention once you've started.

The first of my NPC's is named 'fkao_pontius_defracto' which I got wrong. That's why I never ended up using it. Note the column COUNT. This expresses the number of objects in the mod with this ID. As you can see, I created this character but never used him. It's OK to do this - if you create an object and don't use it, then you can leave it in the mod with no ill effects - just don't do it too many times, otherwise the more objects in the mod, the bigger the mod will be. Scroll down the list until you reach the 'fkoa_redhand_wander' entry. Here, you will see that this NPC has been used four times. Note the asterisk after the number 4 - this indicates that this entry is an addition to the mod - it's not part of the original game. All fkoa_ entries are the same. Since this mod relies on Morrowind and Tribunal, during loading, Morrowind will be loaded first, followed by Tribunal, followed by the Five Keys. If the Five Keys has modified any of the object ID's from Morrowind or Tribunal without modifying the ID, then the modified object - or referece, as it is called - will overwrite the original object. This is how mods work with the original game - the originals are still there, but they are hidden by the mod's changes. If you need to know where each of the references for 'fkoa_redhand_wander' is used, then right click on the reference and select 'info' - a Use Report window pops up to show you where each reference is used. As you see, the references total four. It is possible to use this window to jump directly to the location of the reference by double-clicking on the reference. Try it on the 45, 36 reference - the render window focuses on the NPC in that location. This is a very useful feature of the CS, and allows you to get to locations quickly and easily. Dismiss the Use Report window.

Take a look through the other columns of the NPC window, and figure out what each one does. These columns hold most of the common data related to the NPC. To see all the data, you need to double-click on an object to open the Object window. Do it on the 'fkoa_redhand_wander' NPC. See the screen below.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS3 Tutorial
  • Step 3

This screen shows all the details of the selected NPC (or reference, since there are four of this character). Changing the behaviour of any of the references will change the other three, so be careful. The main info on this screen is the ID, the Script, the Race and the Class. You can give the NPC any name you choose to identify each reference uniquely. In this instance each reference is called 'Red Hand Mawler', but it needn't be. You could give each one a name such as Alex or Doug, etc. These are generic characters, so I give them all the same name. We'll talk more about scripts at a later date. The two drop-downs for Race and Class are self-explanatory. You have the choice of Male or Female via the checkbox. This reference has a level of 30 and it is a Mawler in the Red Hand faction - we'll talk about factions at a later date. Some characters in the game must not be allowed to die, otherwise various aspects of the game, the quests etc. would be compromised. To ensure that vital characters never die, just tick the Essential box. If you wish dead bodies to persist in the game, then mark the box Corpses Persist. If you wish dead characters or creatures ( the dreaded Cliff Racers, for instance) to respawn later then check the Respawn box.

Below this set of boxes is the Health and Attributes section. DISP refers to the NPC's dispostion towards the character, and REP refers to the player's reputation in this character's eyes. Auto Calculate Stats ensures the character's attributes are correct for the character's level. If you wish to change them after setting the level, then uncheck the box. Don't worry too much about the Blood Texture box.

We then have the character's skill value readouts which can be changed if you have a mind to. Most of the time I leave them as they are. The bottom left of the screen has the three buttons for Dialog, Animation and AI. We'll talk about those another time.

On the right side of the screen are the body parts, items and spells. You can change the head and hair by selecting a different value in the two edit boxes. Don't worry about the Animation File button. In order to give your NPC clothing and weapons, you'll need to be able to see this window and the object window at the same time. Drag objects from the Object Window into the Items box to give the character something different. To remove an item, click on it and press the DELETE button. The same applies to the Spells window

Some of the existing characters are blocked from Modification, but I have never used the feature, so I cannot say the reason. Don't save anything at the moment, since we'll need to change the ID as well.

  • Step 4

Now that we know how the character creation screen works we have two choices. We can either right-click in the Object window then select NEW to create a new character, or, we can modify and save an existing character. I would always choose the latter, since you can find a character that already has most of the attributes that you require, and just modify the ones you wish to change. Try it both ways and choose whatever is best for you.

We are going to create a new character from an existing character, then make some mods in order to give it the intended behaviour. Go back to the house you've created and take a look around. Decide who your character is going to be, and what kind of furnishings that character might choose. Is it going to be a shop or private dwelling. Is the character going to play a bit-part in the game, or is he going to be the subject of a quest? You decide. With all this in mind, create your character accordingly.

As you can see from the original contents of the cell, Soronsson was a single bloke, with a trollbone shield and an iron helmet - sure signs of him being a soldier with the Red Hand. If you choose the character to be somewhat different, you may need to get rid of these by selecting and deleting. If your character is going to be married, then you'll need an extra bed or a double bed. Work out who this person is, and what they'll need - it's up to you. For the moment, I will assume that this is just going to be one of Moonrest's normal citizens, a female that likes nice things around the place, and a lover of jewelry and finery.

So, get rid of the shield and helmet for starters. Let's also get rid of the desk with the book and other stuff on it. Drag the bucket to the left and leave it up against the wall. What we need is a wardrobe for this lady's clothes. We are going to put it up against the wall, to the left of the fireplace, where the tapestry currently resides. Delete the tapestry. A wardrobe can contain other objects, so you'll find them in the Containers category of the Object Window. The easist way to find one is to sort on the Name column, then look for Closet, which is another name for it. There are quite a few of them in the list. Finding one that suits the surroundings can be a bit hit and miss since you cannot see them without dragging them into the render window. There is a utility - an HTML file that someone has written that lists all the objects in the CS with pictures. You could use this to check what each closet looks like. For now, just pick the 'de_r_closet_01_fcloth04' which contains a selection of female garments. Double-click on the item to see it's window. Drag the closet out of the object window into the render window. This is tricky, since invariably the object appears behind the house, not in it. You will need to spin the house around and drag the closet into position.

This is a woman's house, so we might expect a bit more finesse when it comes to laying the table. Since this lady appreciates nice things, how about some fancy crockery for her and her boyfriend. Get rid of the candle and the mug, then go to the Misc Item tab of the Object Window, order by name, then find the plates. Take a look through them to find something appropriate. How about the 'misc_com_plate_03' item? Drag a couple onto the table. Best way is to centre the window above the table and drag the plate above it, then use the F key to 'Fall' it onto the table. This is the simplest way of getting objects to sit on other objects - let gravity do the falling. Continue setting up the table with goblets, knives, forks, spoons etc. Layout the table to look nice, then add a couple of napkins 'misc_de_cloth10'. Add a selection of food from the Ingredient tab. That's the table done. See image below.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS3 Tutorial

You could try adding some mats and cushions (furn_de_cushion_round and furn_de_rug from the Static tab, some books from the Books tab, and various ornaments from the Misc Item tab. Just play around with dragging and dropping these items into the render window, then placing them correctly. What about changing the lighting ( from the World|Interior Cell menu ), and replacing some of the existing candles and lamps with something a little more up-market from the Light tab. This is your house - or your character's house, I should say, so create it the way your character would expect to see it.

  • Step 5

Now we know something about this character, let's go back to the NPC tab and create this female. She should be a Nord, since this is the Northlands and the people of Moonrest here are predominantly Red Hand and proud of it. This is not Nordheim where the toffs live, so she should probably be a commoner, a commoner that just happens to like nice clothes and other such stuff. She will be a low level character with no direct alignment to the Red Hand. She should be around level 2 to 3. Now, scroll down the list of current NPC's and find a suitable starting point. Click once on the female column then once on the race column. Now scroll down to the section of Nord females that start with fkoa_. What about 'fkoa_janna_tolonen'? She's a level 2 commoner - she'll do. Double-click on her to bring up the NPC window.

The first thing we should do is change the ID; we do not want to modify this character until we have done so, otherwise we could get into a bit of a pickle if we save her by accident. Look at the list of Nord females and try to get an idea of what the name should look like, then find a combination of forename and surname that does not cause an exception ( duplicate id ) to be raised. Let's call her 'fkoa_krista_olsdottir'. Click on save, then dismiss the pop-up 'Create a new Object?' by clicking on the YES button. If everything is OK then the window should close and the new character will be in the Object list. Double-click on your new character to open the NPC window again - you may need to sort the list again on the ID column. Change the name field to 'Krista Olsdottir'. Leave the stats alone for now, and note that she is wearing a couple of expensive items and a couple of common items. This could be expected. If you want to change some, or give her some jewelry, then do so. At this stage you may want to experiment with some of the head/hair combinations before moving on. In order to see the changes, we are going to need to place a reference in the cell. So, drag Krista into the render window, and place her next to the closet. Have her facing towards the door. When you've finished, save the character again.

We'll now take a look at the AI (Artificial Intelligence) for this character. Click on the AI button to bring up the form. You'll see that there are two tabs - Packages and Services. The packages are the AI and the Services are for shopkeepers, ship captains etc. The default tab is the Packages tab. Krista has the Wander package, and the details appear in the right hand box. There's a drop down for selecting the package e.g. wander, follow etc. Her wander distance is set to 0, which means she'll stay where she is, although the list of Idle Chances will ensure that she moves a bit with various head movements and turns etc. We won't go into these at the moment. The Fight, Flee, Alarm and Hello boxes express the chances of this character performing any of these actions so, a Fight value of 30 means she has a 30% chance of fighting if provoked. A 90 to 100% chance means she'll probably attack you on sight. The Alarm value is the chance that this character would shout out if the player broke the law. Setting all these values to 30% is about the norm. Take a look at the Services tab. Everything is self-explanatory, except for, maybe, the Travel Services which we will not be using here. Close the AI screen, then close the NPC screen.

  • Step 6

We've now created and modified the interior of our new house, and created an owner for the property. There is one thing left to do, and that is to setup the ownership of everything in the house. The ownership of items ensures that if the player should attempt to steal anything, then the owner will shout out, and attempt to call a guard if there is one nearby. This is a little tricky to get right first time, so don't worry if it doesn't always work. If it does not work then try again.

In order to make everything in the house belong to Krista, we need to select everything first. So, move to a position outside the house so that you can highlight everything that makes up the house. Select everything so that it is all highlighted. We then need to zoom into the house and find an object that has ownership. Static objects such as rugs, tapestries, walls etc. do not have ownership. Misc Items, containers, ingredients etc. do. Zoom into the chest on the table, then double-click on it. This brings up the container screen, since the small chest is of type Container. Every other object in the house is still selected, so by setting the ownership on the chest, we will also be setting the ownership on everything else. This screen has object data above the middle, and reference data below the middle. Remember, there is only one object with any particular, unique ID - but there can be many references to this object. You'll find the Ownership property below the middle, which means that Ownership does not change the object, it only changes the reference. This is a very important point to make note of. Anything that changes the physical object i.e. the properties above the Reference Data, actually requires you to Save the object. When changing the reference to the object, you should NOT save the object. This container 'chest_small_02_misc' has an object inside it called 'extravagant_ring_01'. This chest may appear in the game 100 times. If you change anything in the object data, you are changing every other 'chest_small_02_misc' in the game - and that's very BAD. All you want to do is change this one, which is OK, because you're only changing the reference data. If you need to change the Object data for any of the objects in the game, you must copy the object and paste a new object with a different ID, as we did with Krista.

Getting back to the ownership then - find the reference data below the middle that refers to the ownership of all the selected objects. It's a drop-down box, that currently has ownership set to 'fkoa_soronsson'. Change this to 'fkoa_krista_olsdottir'. Click on the button Apply to Selection. A change notification box pops up notifying you that the change has been applied to x objects. Dismiss this box, then dismiss the container form. DO NOT CLICK THE SAVE BUTTON. I thought I should just drill that in, since saving changes to the object can have disastrous results that will probably require you to reload from a save. You can confirm that the changes have been made by checking the Cell View window that contains the list of items in the house. As you can see, the owner of these items is indeed 'fkoa_krista_olsdottir'. Save the mod.

  • Conclusion

In this tutorial, you have learnt how to modify the interior of your new house, how to use the Object window to choose and place new items, the NPC tab for creating a new character for your house, the settings for a character's AI, the importance of ownership, the differences between objects and the references to those objects, and how to setup the ownership on a lot of object references in one easy go. Here's an updated list of the keyboard shortcuts that you have learnt.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS3 Tutorial
  • Keyboard Shortcuts

    • F --------------------------------------------- Fall an Object
      A --------------------------------------------- Lights
      B --------------------------------------------- Borders
      T --------------------------------------------- Zoom to Top View
      C --------------------------------------------- Zoom to Ground Level View
      LShift/Mouse ------------------------------- Move object/s around
      MouseWheel/Move mouse --------------- Move your viewpoint or zoom-in/zoom-out
      Z/LeftMouse ------------------------------- Move object up/down
      CTRL-C, CTRL_V and CTRL-X ---------- Copy, Paste, Cut

    That's the end of the tutorials directly related to the creation of a house and it's contents. The next tutorial will focus on scripting, local and global variables, plus a few odds and ends.

    You can contact me here if you wish to make any comments or suggestions for further tutorials. Or try the Morrowind-Oblivion Forum. I'm always on-hand to answer your questions.

    Here are the other Morrowind Construction Set Tutorials :

    Morrowind House Mod Tutorial 1

    Morrowind House Mod Tutorial 2

    Morrowind Landscape & Region Tutorial

    Morrowind Faction Tutorial

    Morrowind Faction Dialog Tutorial

    You can find the Oblivion Tutorials here :

    Oblivion Quest Tutorial

    Oblivion Scenery Tutorial

    Oblivion House Mod Tutorial

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