Morrowind Construction Set Landscape & Region Tutorial
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Dave Foster's Morrowind Construction Set Tutorials

The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind Construction Set Landscape & Region 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.

See the Oblivion Landscape/Scenery/Region Tutorial

The fourth tutorial will begin with an explanation of how to create and modify the landscape in Morrowind. This tutorial uses the Five Keys of Azura mod as it's template, so you should download it and get it into the CS before starting. We will raise some land to the north of the Northlands, create some hills and valleys, then paint the countryside onto it. We will then go on to create a new region for this landmass, and use the region-paint utility to make it stand out from the other regions of Morrowind.

  • Step 1

Open up the CS and arrange it to suit your needs. Focus the editor on the northern coast of the northlands, on the western side. The cell is 40, 39.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

Now, we want to move offshore some distance to the north, approximately two cells, that's 40, 41. With the window highlighted, you can do this easily with the arrow keys. Press the up-arrow a few times to get centred on the cell. Press the H key to enter landscape editing mode. In the Landscape Edit Settings, set Edit Radius to 1 and ensure the two vertices boxes are unchecked, and the Show Edit Radius box is checked. A small red circle appears in the render window. We will place this circle in the centre of the cell, then drag the land up. But first, it can be difficult to see exacly what we are doing with the land from the top-down perspective, and it can also be difficult focussing in on a specific area that contains no objects. So, we will place an object in the southern side of the cell for a reference. First, press H again to exit Landscape Editing mode. Go to the Static tab and select one of the large rocks e.g. 'terrain_rock_rm_11'. Place this rock on the southern boundary of the cell. We can now select this object and spin our perspective around it. Note that we are on the seabed here, with the ocean stretching to the horizon. I have raised the land just a little to the north just to give you an idea.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

Use H to enter the editor again, and move the circle to the position in the centre of the cell. To raise the land, hold down the left mouse button whilst moving the mouse up. The land will raise up, forming a cone. It will stop raising when the mouse pointer exits the CS or when it reaches the top of the screen. You will then need to let go of the button and move the circle back until it is over the raised land again. This can be tricky and time-consuming, and it can also become quite tedious, so you need to stay calm! Now, try it with a larger radius - say 5. Keep pulling the land up in this spot until it appears above sea-level. Zoom out a bit, now.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

Now, change the Edit Radius to 10, and tick the Flatten Vertices box. Take a top-down view of your land as per the image below.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

Raise the land slightly by clicking in the center of your you see, the land is raised automatically to be the same height throughout the circle. The Flatten Vertices command directs the editor to calculate the highest point of your land, then raise all land within the edit radius to the same level. So, if you'd set the edit radius higher, you would have even more land raised above sea-level. Press the H key, then take a spin around your new landmass.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

  • Step 2

Lets now zoom into the middle of this area and try a couple of the other land manipulation routines. First, move the boulder into the centre of the landmass. Now, let's paint some of the ground around the boulder with some nice, green grass. Use H again, then select the Textures box and sort on the ID column. Change the Edit Radius back to 1 and uncheck the Flatten Vertices box. Find the texture 'A1_grass' and select it. Move the circle to the base of the boulder, then hold down the right mouse button to begin painting the ground. The colour begins to fill the smaller, invisible cells as you move the mouse around the rock.

Now lets lower some of the land in the vicinity of the rock. Hold the circle half over the boulder and half over the grass, press the left mouse button and drag down. The land does the opposite and 'raises' down. Do it a few times to get the hang of it, then try it with an Edit Radius of 2.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

You'll have noticed that as you lowered the land it became quite rough and jagged. That is always the case, so it helps to have a smoothing routine. This roustine does not always work well on small areas, but on larger areas it's passable. With the radius of 2 and Flatten Vertices switched off, tick the box Soften Vertices then run over the area around the rock with the left button held down. It's difficult to see how this works on this occasion, but you will see that the jaggies are taken out, and the land looks somewhat depressed and smoother.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

Try it on the shoreline. Experiment with the radius setting. I used 2, then chose a 'Sand' setting to paint the beach.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

The other controls on the Landscape Editing page are to do with vertex painting, a technique that I have not used, so I will say no more about it. In my experience it is not used very much, but if you want to try it then go ahead.

  • Step 3

We now have a small island off the northern coast of the Northlands. It's now up to you to extend this island to the north and east. Keep it to a 3x3 grid, then create some hills and valleys. Paint it with whatever textures seem appropriate, then place a few trees and rocks here and there. Play around with the smoothing routines to find out the pros and cons, and the best way to get the countryside to look reasonably smooth.

I've always found that it's best to create a piece of land that's bigger than you require, since, as you smooth the area, you tend to lose some of it back to the ocean. So, that's the basics of Landscape Editing in the Morrowind CS.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

  • Step 4

We'll now turn our attention to Region Editing. Go to the menu item World|Regions and it will open the window as shown below.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

The combo box at the top-left of the screen allows you to select the region. This is the Region ID, and the Name box to it's right is the name you give to the region. As you can see, the ID and the region name are the same in this instance, although it needn't be. Notice the Weather Chances area - it has 8 boxes, one for clear, one for rain etc. These are the chances of getting this type of weather in the region at any time. There are 8 boxes, and these boxes should always add-up to 100. If you are using the CS that came with Bloodmoon, then there will be 10 boxes, since they added snow in Bloodmoon. You should NOT be using the Bloodmoon CS for these tutorials, since the Five Keys only uses Morrowind and Tribunal. Using the Bloodmoon CS will result in errors during the loading of the game - errors that relate to weather_id being size 10 when it should be size 8. The box on the right of the window relates to the chance of specific sounds playing in the region - atmospheric, ambient sounds as opposed to specific sounds from creatures etc. Above this is the Sleep Creature combo for selecting which creature attacks the player when sleeping outside.

The areas of this screen that we are most interested in other than the weather chances, are the Region Paint button and the Region Map Colour selector. Lets take a look at the Region Painter by clicking on the Region Paint button.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

This is where we actually paint the region that we have created. As you can see, the light blue colour refers to the Northlands Region, the region that holds the landmass associated with the Five Keys. All the regions can be seen on this map, and each region has it's own colour associated with it. The Paint Region Info area just displays the information that was availabe on the previous screen. Hold the mouse over any of the cells on the map, and you will get a readout of the coordinates of that cell, together with it's name. Note that Mournhold has it's own region and colour, although it does not appear on the map since it is all contained within an interior cell. Notice also, the white area to the north of the Northlands. This is the area that we have just modified in the Landscape Editor. Whenever a cell is modified, the CS makes a note of the coordinates of the cell and automatically creates a white square on the map. Note the white cells to the notheast. This is where some of the cells adjacent to the mainland were accidentally modified in the Landscape editor which I never fixed. It doesn't matter, since the white cells do not represent a region or any named cells.

This is where we need to ensure that the cells we have modified to the northwest are made to be part of the Northlands Region, or we should create a new region, then paint them in a different colour. To be honest, none of this is actually required for the new cells; neither is it required for the Northlands cells, since these cells do not appear on the World Map of Morrowind in-game - they are too far to the east and north to be seen. But, since this is a tutorial on Region Editing, we'll create a new region anyway.

Dismiss the Region Painter, then go back to the Regions screen and click on the NEW button. Call the new region the 'Northfar Region'. It appears in the ID box with an * next to it. Set the Sleep Creature to be 'ex_sheogorad_lev+2', the name to be the same as the ID, then select a colour for the region from the selectors in the Region Map Color area. Make sure the colour does not clash with any of the other colours. We'll make the Weather Chances the same as the Northlands Region. If you get a value wrong, and the total is not equal to 100, then you will be warned. When you have finished, click OK.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

  • Step 5

We now need to paint the region, so, ensure the Northfar Region is selected, then click on Region Painter. Select the Northfar Region. Now, paint the cells by clicking in them - the steely blue colour should appear. Remember, we are only painting a 3x3 grid starting at 40, 41. When you've finished, click DONE.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

  • Step 6

Let's now go back to our island at 40, 41 in the Render Window. See how the name of the cell has been changed to the Northfar Region, and in the Cell View window, how all 9 cells have been named accordingly.

The Elder Scrolls Morrowind CS Tutorial

  • Conclusion

In this tutorial, you have learnt how to use the Landscape Editor to raise some land from the ocean floor, the Landscape Painter to apply textures to the land, how to lower land and how to smooth land. We then went on to explain the use of the Region Editor and the Region Painter. These cells will not show up on the World Map in Morrowind, but, if the land falls within the window for display, then you will see your landmass on the map.

Here's an updated version of the keyboard shortcuts that you have learnt.

  • Keyboard Shortcuts

    • Up, Down, Left, Right------------------- Landscape Editor - move to cell
      H --------------------------------------------- Landscape Editor
      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

    In the next tutorial, we'll tackle the tricky subject of creating a new faction in the Morrowind Construction Set.

    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 House Mod Tutorial 3 & NPC 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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