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The Illuminated Order Review

The Black Mill Review

The Cave of Woe Review

Prophesy Of The Lost Heir Review

Sea of Destiny Review

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added 16th January
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added 22nd December
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The Elder Scrolls Morrowind Utilities
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added 21st December
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The Elder Scrolls Morrowind Utilities

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Morrowind Plugin - Review 31st December, 2006 : The Illuminated Order

Elder Scrolls III Morrowind Mods : The Illuminated Order

The version of the game reviewed here is The Illuminated Order 1.0c Edition, released on the 27th June, 2003. This is the intro, taken straight out of the .rtf file that comes in the archive :

Adventure into unknown depths, and plunge into the greatest mysteries of Vvardenfell with the Illuminated Order v1.0c! A completely new faction with over 20 quests that will take you across Tamriel and beyond, including new and never before seen mod features and character opportunities!

Join a paranoid and secretive sect of the most mysterious and skilled researchers & adventurers in all of Tamriel. See amazing sights! Combat against impossible odds! Seek out and utilize strange and powerful artifacts, unlike anything seen before! And at the end of it all, confront your true self and have the opportunity to become a powerful lich!

Delve into obscure areas of Elder Scrolls lore and have the opportunity to visit the ruins of Scourg Barrow, search for the Waters of Forgetfulness in a Sixth House cave, explore a bizarre undersea science vessel with some strange surprises, party-crash a Wererat's island retreat, raid a Dreugh colony, encounter the three secret greater liches of Vvardenfell, and travel to the forgotten Hall of the Daedra to uncover the secrets of lich transformation - with an option to actually undergo the ritual at the end of it all and live out the rest of the player-character's existence as an undead master of magic!

  • Requirements :
  • Tribunal is required for The Illuminated Order.

  • Installation :
  • To install simply unzip the file to your Morrowind Data Files directory, make sure to use the subdirectory names in the zip file for the meshes and icons. Then activate Illuminated Order v1.0c.esp in the Data Files section of the Morrowind Launcher.

  • Playing Guidelines :
  • A rumor at the Eight Plates in Balmora states that an insane Dunmer male has been running around claiming to be a lich. After an encounter with the madman, a series of quests will be set in motion that lead the player on a strange quest to discover the secrets of becoming a lich, and then on to joining a secret society of mystic intellectuals and adventurers named the Illuminated Order of Invisibles - hidden in secret guildhouses across Vvardenfell, from a safe haven beneath the Molag Mar Waistworks, to an undersea Dwemer vessel dubbed Barataria, and the lost Dunmer stronghold of Fionnovar.

  • Features :
  • - a new faction
    - 20+ new quests
    - Several new areas, including the dreugh colony of Imboca, Fionnovar, Barataria, Inverness, Los Christabel and more. (includes a version of Scourg Barrow, (renamed Scourge Barrow, for purposes of compatibility w/ Tenaka's Black Queen Chronicles mod)
    - Numerous new enchantments and enchanted weapons
    - Many New and Unique Artifacts, that don't function quite like anything you've seen

    - Alters the following existing cells:
    Balmora, in between the north end of the channel running through town and the guard tower located at the north end of town, east of the channel (This will slightly conflict w/ the Bank mod - Not too a major conflict, check it out, you'll see).
    Sadrith Mora (underwater between the boat docks and the Telvanni council hall)
    Ald'ruhn, Ald Skar Inn
    Tel Vos, Central Tower (removes one dwarven artifact item)
    Heran Ancestral Tomb
    Arys Ancestral Tomb
    Mzahnch Lower Level
    Molag Mar, Underworks
    Molar Mar, Waistworks
    Gnisis, temple (very minor)
    Molag Mar, Buoyant Armiger headquarters (very minor)
    Ald'ruhn, Venim Manor (very minor)
    Massama Cave
    Maren Ancestral Tomb (very minor)

    - LAND Changes:
    --Los Christabel cell is cell of small island north of Dagon Fel (previously empty of all but terrain).
    -- The Island cells are cells of island north of Khuul, west of Ald Redania (previously empty of all but terrain).
    -- Imboca cell is cell northwest of The Island, Sheogorad region (previously empty of all but terrain.
    -- Inverness cell is on northeast end of Red Mountain (previously empty of all but terrain).

    - Alters the following existing NPCs:
    Miron Garer, Khuul
    Crazy Batou
    M'aiq the Liar (minor)

    -Alters major topics Latest Rumors, Little Advice, Little Secret, Greeting 0, Greeting1, and Greeting2 topics. Adds Voice Entries for Hello topic. Adds a single Attack voice entry.
    -Additions to far too many minor topics to list
    -Adds numerous global variables, PCWearingLich, PCGreatBest, PCOrdLich, etc.
    -Adds numerous scripts (no startscripts)
    -Other additions that I won't bother to list (Large amounts of dialogue, Journal Entries, books, Activators, lights, creatures, objects, items, etc.)

    The Illuminated Order is a mod for The Elder Scrolls 3 : Morrowind, and comes in the form of a .zip file that contains the .esp file together with a couple of extra .esp files that are needed if you play with Bloodmoon loaded, and the .rtf file that contains most of the preceding info.

  • first impressions
  • This is a review of the Illuminated Order version 1.0c_6-27-03 which arrived in the form of a 1.5MB zip file. Contained in the zip, along with the normal game esp and the meshes and textures, are an rtf readme file, a Bloodmoon compatibility file and a 'flee AI tweaks.esp' file.

    Loading was straightforward with no loading errors. Although Tribunal is required for this mod, I played it from a savegame immediately after finishing the main quest of Morrowind. Bear this in mind should you decide to play with a Tribunal savegame loaded. The compatibility file takes care of Bloodmoon should you wish to play from a Bloodmoon save. I did not use Bloodmoon functionality during the review.

  • onto the game..
  • You start the game in the Eight Plates in Balmora, where you ask around a bit until someone tells you of a cave just to the north. Here, you find the start of the quest after rifling through a dead body and ransacking the cave.

    Your journey takes you to various places within Morrowind via a number of contacts within the Order. The quests begin as quite trivial affairs, and as you progress through the ranks they become harder and more satisfying. The initial quests are, for want of a better description, quite boring and long-winded, but they at least give you a good feel for the plot and the aims of the Order.

    Eventually, you rise in rank a few times, then get sent to your next contact for another series of quests. The problem here, as I see it, is the quests are very sequential, and take you on long trips across Morrowind to the remotest parts of the country. For a reasonably high-level player this becomes very monotonous, but I managed to avoid the shortcut of "coc"ing to each of the destinations - but only just!

    It's a shame, really, because there is plenty of dialog to read through, and the quests are quite right in their approach to the player becoming a lich.

    You finally get to go to a lost underwater city and ship, an encounter with a lich on Red Mountain then onto a lost daedric ruin where you meet the person that knows how to become a lich. These locations are a welcome change from the usual places in Morrowind, and they provide new, unseen areas to explore.

    The end of the game comes in two parts. Either you find the location of the lich Elijah and report your findings to your mentor, or you then carry on to take up a series of quests that will enable you to actually become a lich. I opted for the first, since I have no desire to become a lich, vampire or werewolf etc.

    As I said, the game gets into it's stride once you have completed the first two series of quests, although the feeling of being stuck on a train is always there, as each new quest is only given once you have completed the previous one. Still, the later quests are quite challenging, even for a higher level character, and there is plenty of dialog associated with the quests and the lore of becoming a lich.

  • conclusion..
  • This was a reasonably immersive game with plenty to do and see, and if you wish to become a lich, then it is the perfect mod for fullfilling your ambition.

  • df rating..73%
  • Download The Illuminated Order from mods page


    Morrowind Mod - Review 16th January, 2006 : The Black Mill

    Elder Scrolls III Morrowind Mods : The Black Mill

    The version of the game reviewed here is The Black Mill 1.0 + V1.1 UPDATE Edition, released on the 15th March, 2004. This is the intro, taken straight out of the .html file that comes in the archive :

    Anxiety has risen amongst the highest ranks of the Temple, for their spies reported the coming of a new Special Agent of the Emperor to Vvardenfell - another Stranger with no known lineage. Even the Temple's Inquisition, focused on rumors about the return of an ancient evil, turned its gaze towards this newcomer, and summoned its trackers to find the Imperial Special Agent who came before in a similar way - you. Informed that you were on your way to the small seaside town of Seyda Neen, an Inquisitor with two Ordinators journeyed by Silt Strider to meet you there.

  • Requirements :
  • Tribunal is required for The Black Mill.

  • Installation :
  • To install simply unzip the file to your Morrowind Data Files directory, make sure to use the subdirectory names in the zip file for the meshes and icons. Then activate TheBlackMill.esp in the Data Files section of the Morrowind Launcher.

  • Playing Guidelines :
  • The game starts when you meet a company of three near the Silt Strider in Seyda Neen. Talk to them. The Black Mill is designed to be played with a more developed character, our estimate is that your character needs at least to have reached level 25 to be able to complete the mainquest. And even then you'll find a lot of challenges.

    It is strongly advised to use multiple savegames, so in case things go wrong you have a choice to which savegame you wish to revert to.

  • Features :
  • None Mentioned.

    The Black Mill is a mod for The Elder Scrolls 3 : Morrowind, and comes in the form of a .zip file that contains the .esp file together with a couple of readme .html files containing some of the information shown above. Another text file describes this plugin as adding Multiple Marking Support. A further .esp file is provided containing a shirt mesh for those using the Better Bodies plugin.

  • first impressions
  • Loading was straightforward with no loading errors. Although Tribunal is required for this mod, I played it from a savegame immediately after finishing the main quest of Morrowind. Bear this in mind should you decide to play with a Tribunal savegame loaded.

    As per the intro, you get to Seyda Neen and are met by a party of three - an Inquisitor and two Ordinators. The Inquisitor gives you the run-down of what is expected of you in the quest, then you're off on the mission to find out who the Special Agent is that arrived on a prison ship in similar circumstances to your own arrival. A good clean start then with plenty of dialog, a new character class, and an intriguing plot.

  • onto the game..
  • Things are pretty simple and standard as you go on a bit of a run-around in Seyda Neen then move on to Ebonheart. The plot moves along quite nicely as you meet various people that might provide you with a lead on where to find the Special Agent, then boom!, major problem. One of the informants is missing, and not by design. An NPC you're meant to meet in Ebonheart does not exist, and I tried for ages to locate the person without success. The first bug of the game then, and it's a game-breaker, for novice at least. I checked the .esp in TESCS, and there he is, right where the developer placed him, but he's not there in-game? Well, this was a dilemma. What next then...searched the net for known bugs in the game and discovered on a forum that this bug is known, although it's not a bug that presents itself to everyone that plays the game; apparently, none of the playtesters came across it, so I think I'm one of the unlucky ones. There is a bit of a clue as to where this bug originated, and it appears to be more to do with the .esp than with my savegame which I know to be clean. In the room below where you're supposed to meet this character is another NPC called Sader, and presumably he is the source of the missing character i.e. Sader was copied to create the missing character. In-game, this room has a duplicate of Sader (there are two identical Sader's), and this indicates to me that the mod is dirty in some way. But, I have no time nor inclination to go into this further, so I'll leave it at that. The only way of getting around this bug is to console the missing character into the game, which I really hate having to do, but it was the only way for me to get a full review. Having said that, it's an unusual bug, and is obviously very difficult to trace and iron-out. That's life, I suppose.

    Once you've got the info from the once-missing NPC you're up and running again. Pretty soon you're off to explore a series of large mines up near Caldera after a tip-off. This is also your first view of the mill of the title. These caves are very atmospheric and convoluted, providing plenty of exploration and encounters. Eventually, you find the special agent, and a meeting is arranged to discuss the situation. After the meeting, a real threat of a goblin invasion is apparent, and you're sent off the mainland to a remote location to obtain further clues. Up to this point the story has been very cohesive, with plenty of interesting encounters, dialog, intrigue and shady goings-on. But things are about to take a turn for the worse, as your first impressions of the island that you arrive on deliver a coctail of mixed feelings.

    Your first view of the island from the bow of the ship is stunning. A wide vista of docks, ships and quaint thatched cottages is a joy to behold. And you're eager to begin exploring this brand new landscape. You chat to a couple of the local sea-dogs and find out about the latest rumours, but you also notice that their dialog generally is much the same as you've heard in Morrowind many times over. And this is where the resemblance to another mod I reviewed earlier becomes very apparent. You meet a few others, and they have the same rumour, nothing else. Almost everyone you meet on the island has the standard Morrowind dialog, and nothing else specific to their character. There are no sub-quests, no encounters, and most of the houses are just empty, locked-up facades. One or two large houses are open, so you wander in to take a look around and speak to the residents. But inside, you discover that they're almost empty shells, with no 'clutter' as you would expect to find inside an interior. The residents have no conversation whatsoever, apart form the standard dialog of course. So, you end up wandering around looking for something to do, but you soon realise that there is going to be nothing to do until you reach the building that you're supposed to visit here.

    Eventually, you tire of the new scenery around every corner, because you know that there is going to be nothing further to do here until you meet the person you're looking for; and get the next part of the main quest. You make your way to the meeting place, and enter a very large building. It's hard to describe it, so I won't even try, because I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that it is vast inside. There are also a few puzzles and sub-quests to be had here, which comes as a pleasant change after all the aimless meandering about in town. As you speak to various people, and do the usual run-arounds, you get closer to your goal of meeting the person that is going to provide you with the information that you're looking for. Some of the locations you come across here are just as absurd as the ones you found in town. Personally, I found them somewhat out of context; others might disagree, but there's no denying that some of them are quite bizarre.

    So, you eventually gain access to the person you came here specifically to meet, and it's in another absurd, but beautiful environment. You're now given a minor quest, but still within the main quest, that encompasses a couple of worthwhile sub-quests, and suddenly, everything feels alright again. All that aimless wandering around is soon forgotton as you get drawn back into the plot and sub-plots. Unfortunately, this only lasts until very near to the end of this minor quest.

    Now, I don't know the number of people that suffered the same fate as me, but I'm sure there were at least some. I was unable to finish this quest since I had performed some actions outside the timeline set by the developer. Let me explain, since this is an important point. A main quest can be described, more often than not, as a number of minor quests that run in sequence. That is, in order to progess to the next part of the main quest you have to finish the minor quest that precedes it. This kind of quest sequencing, or quest processing is controlled by Journal Entries. I call this sequencing the timeline. If the developer has not tightly controlled it, then the player can stray outside the timeline by starting a minor quest out of sequence, thus breaking the timeline and, ultimately, breaking the game. Each minor quest on the main timeline has to be strictly controlled by the developer in order to prevent the hapless player from tackling a minor quest before he/she is supposed to. Otherwise, the player will not receive the necessary messages and Journal Entries that go hand in hand with normal quest completion. In this instance, the timeline was not sufficiently controlled to prevent me from getting involved in a minor quest before I was meant to. I performed some actions within a scripted minor quest and, because the controlling script was faulty, it left an area within the location inaccessible. This was just an oversight by the developer, a failure to reset a local script variable when the player leaves the location. But it was enough to break that quest and, subsequently, the rest of the main quest. But, like I said earlier, not everyone will be affected by this bug, since most players probably don't stray off the path as I often do. I was able to get around this bug by going back to an earlier save and re-doing everything in the correct order, but I lost about three hours gameplay in the process. If anyone wants more detailed info on this bug then just mail me with Black Mill as the subject.

    Eventually, you complete the main quest associated with this island, and are given valuable information that will lead you onto the ethereal planes. Some of these locations are weird and quite eerie, espescially the plane associated with water. Menacing creatures put you on the run, and terrorize you as you franticly search for items that a certain NPC has requested. This plane is quite large, so there is plenty of exploring to be done. An annoyance here is a locked door that you come across. You feel certain that this door leads somewhere since it has a barred, see-through grill into the next passage, but you also get the impression that some bug is associated with it. When you activate the door you're told that it is locked with a lock value of 100. I picked the lock, then it said the door was firmly locked. Now, I don't know abut anyone else, but when I successfully pick a lock I expect the door to open, and if it doesn't then I assume there's a bug. But, delving into the construction set again I discovered that some object is required to be in the player's possession before the door will open. I don't like this; it is illogical, along the lines of some of the old adventure games. To make matters worse, there are no clues in-game as to which object is required, or where it might be found.

  • conclusion..
  • A good mod all round, let down somewhat by the rather sinister bug I mentioned at the beginning of the review. That said, if you're not a novice and you know your way around the console, then it's not a problem. My real criticism of this mod mirrors what I said in my review of Sea of Destiny, and that is the lack of character dialog and interaction in some of the locations away from the mainland. Too much is made of the beautiful scenery and the extravagent new textures. These ultimately detract from what is a very good storyline, dragging the final score down.

  • df rating..75%
  • Download The Black Mill from mods page

    The Black Mill v1.1 patch


    Morrowind Mod - Review 5th January, 2006 : The Cave of Woe

    Elder Scrolls III Morrowind Mods : The Cave of Woe

    The version of the game reviewed here is The Cave of Woe 1.3b Edition, released on the 30th December, 2002. This is the intro, taken straight out of the readme file that comes in the archive :

    Explore the haunted caverns of Lorogh and Lagorn. Retrieve three lost weapons of legendary power. Escape with your life! To begin this adventure, visit the Razor Hole in Balmora and search for a clue. The Cave of Woe is a challenging dungeon adventure suitable for level 8 - 12 characters.

    - Type : medium-sized interior dungeon
    - Landscape : na
    - Buildings : na
    - Rooms : 9
    - NPC's : na
    - Monsters : 25
    - Items : many
    - Loot : fairly abundant
    - New Content : three books; various parchments; ghost; modification; new weapons
    - Best Feature(s) : three "artifact" weapons; new books
    - Helpful Skill(s) : thief or mage
    - Dungeon Location : near Seyda Neen; go to the Razor Hole in Balmora to find the clue

    The Cave of Woe is a mod for The Elder Scrolls 3 : Morrowind, and comes in the form of a .zip file that contains the .esp file together with a readme file containing some of the information shown above.

  • first impressions
  • Loading is a piece of cake with no loading errors. As with Prophesy of The Lost Heir, Cave of Woe starts with a message, but in a slightly different context - you have to find it. The message explains the quest, and this message eventually leads you to some large caves where the journey begins. Simple, straightforward and to the point. Good start.

  • onto the game..
  • The action begins at the entrance to an expanded cave system within the main cave. You've been directed here by the message you found, and now another message gives further details. This type of quest evolution turns out to be quite simple and effective as I'll go onto explain in the conclusion. As stated in the info, there is plenty of treasure to be had and monsters to slay, and all within the scope of a character whose abilities are those that the game is aimed at, i.e. it is just about right for level 8 to 12 characters. The caverns are in keeping with the rest of the original cave, suitably stocked with items, and have just the right amount of atmosphere. Acquiring the weapons of power results in a feeling of achievement, like all quests, so the mod achieves what it sets out to do.

  • conclusion..
  • This is a good mod, with a reasonable amount of gameplay for the novice that achieves a high satisfaction value. What I find most attractive about this mod is it's simplicity, not in gameplay terms, but in technical terms. A believable, playable mod has been constructed from nothing more than scenery, creatures and miscellaneous items. It's a quest that even the most novice modder could knock-up easily, with no complex dialog, few NPC's that need to be involved and no scripting. I would recommend it to novice modders as a training aid to simple, but effective modding.

  • df rating..
  • 90%

    Download The Cave of Woe from mods page


    Morrowind Mod - Review 22nd December, 2005 : Prophecy Of The Lost Heir

    Elder Scrolls III Morrowind Mods : Prophecy Of The Lost Heir

    The version of the game reviewed here is Prophecy Of The Lost Heir version 1.2 Edition, released on the 5th June, 2003. This is the intro, taken straight out of the readme file that comes in the archive :

    During a fearful storm 15 years ago, a ship was wrecked off the coast of Khuul. Among the victims were Iliam Dren - the rejected firstborn child of the previous Duke Dren - and his wife and children. However, one of the bodies was never found: the mortal remains of Iliam's oldest son Artruhn are still missing.

    Now, the ageing emperor Uriel Septim is worried about the violent Morrowind atmosphere and is concerned for the future for the Vvardenfell people. One night, he has a very strange dream. In his dream, Mara, the Goddess of Love, whispers to him, telling him that Artruhn might still be alive, and that he might have the powers to govern Vvardenfell and bring peace to the area. She also tells him that help from the Nerevarine is necessary if the search for Artruhn is to be successful.

    - meet the head of the Blades (the stunning blonde) and become part of her mission
    - 8-12 hours of playtime
    - six new optional companions
    - a number of sidequests and some new allies.

    Prophecy Of The Lost Heir is a mod for The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind, and comes in the form of a .zip file containing the .esp file, together with related meshes, textures, instructions etc. This mod requires the full version of Morrowind, plus the first expansion, Tribunal. It does not require the second expansion, Bloodmoon. And. as the readme states 'YOU HAVE TO BE NEREVARINE TO PLAY THIS MOD.'

  • first impressions
  • First impressions for this mod are very positive. On first loading there were no errors reported, which is always good to see. Too many mods are not sufficiently play-tested and suffer from annoying, or game-breaking bugs that manifest themselves during the loading phase. The start of the mission appears somewhat unusual compared to normal, in that a message is passed to you immediately by a passing stranger. Now, this wouldn't be too unusual if it happened in a crowded street or market, but it happened to me whilst standing in the temple with Lord Vivec; takes away from the realism somewhat.

    The note explains that the head of the Blades is in town, and that you should travel to Caius Cossaides' house in Balmora. And the surprise here is that the head of the Blades is a female with not much respect for the so-called Nerevarine - strike one. Strikes two and three quickly follow as you discover the first and second agents that you have to track down are both equally female. Then, there is an episode where the head wishes to speak to the other two agents alone, and you are asked to step outside - strike four. Now, I'm not in the least against girl-power, but this just seemed like outright reverse discrimination, and I believe that a Morrowind mod is not the appropriate place for this kind of 'showboating'. Point made and, I hope, point taken.

  • onto the game..
  • The initial conversation obviously sets the scene, with an explanation as to why Cossaides has returned to the Capital, and why the head of the Blades is seeking the help of the Nerevarine. The amount, and the quality of the dialog here is impressive, and immediately conveys the feeling of a nicely developing plot. You're given your first task in which you have to locate the first NPC of the quest, and this quickly follows onto the second part, both which include a spot of travel and espionage. You're then informed that, for many of the following quests you can expect to be accompanied by one or more companions. Whoa...! This immediately rang alarm bells for me, since I have never had a single, good experience whilst having a companion in tow. More on that later.

    As you begin to interact with your new boss and your new colleagues, and you begin to travel around and solve the numerous threads of the main plot, you come to appreciate that the mod has been well realised, and that it has some 'staying power'. There are not many new locations to be had, except for a couple of notable exceptions, the secret hideout for instance. But you find yourself getting involved in the story, and living the part of the Blade operative working for a very attractive employer. And, I believe there is ample opportunity to get amorously involved if that takes your fancy.

    Another small gripe I have, as well as the overtly feminist nature of the mod, is the use of the 'run-around'. By that, I mean those occasions where your mission is to find some-one or something, and this involves travelling long distances to remote locations that are not well-served by public transport. I just wondered whether this might have been a strategy to eke out the story a bit longer, so as to give the impression of playing a bigger mod. Just an opinion.

    Considering this mod requires the player to be the Nerevarine, which amounts to a fairly high ranking character assuming you have played a lot of the subquests as well, I would say that the difficulty level was somewhat on the low side, maybe level 10 to 15. That aside, the story continues to weave a spell that's hard to resist, and you find yourself soldiering on, despite some shortcomings.

  • conclusion..
  • A decent enough mod, with a reasonable amount of compelling gameplay and satisfaction value. Disappointing in some areas, notably the feeling of being given the 'run-around' on occasions, and the general lack of new locations to explore. And, just going back to something I noted earlier about companions, this mod uses an updated script that allows it to overcome the multitude of problems usually associated with companions. Not all of them I might add. I found it impossible to get my boss to go into her bedroom with me, and not for the want of trying!

  • df rating..
  • 72%

    Download The Lost Heir from mods page


    Morrowind Mod Review 13th December, 2005 : Sea of Destiny

    Bethesda Mod Reviews : The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind Mod Reviews

    The version of the game reviewed here is Sea of Destiny : Final+Gold Edition, released on the 26th June, 2004. These are the statistics taken straight out of the official manual :

    - 400+ new cells of land
    - over 300 new unique npcs
    - grand capital of Regar with over 200 buildings
    - about 20 new armors, 40 new weapons, 20 new books, + new misc items
    - ancient pyramid
    - grand size forest
    - storyline with quests

    Sea of Destiny is a mod for The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind, and comes in the form of an .esm file together with related meshes, textures, manual etc., all packaged up in a self-extracting .exe file. The mod requires the full version of Morrowind, plus the first expansion, Tribunal. It does not require the second expansion, Bloodmoon.

  • first impressions
  • First impressions are always the most important, since they convey to us a sense of how well the game is going to play. Unfortunately, in this case, they were not too good. The problem comes with the initial loading of the game, which to put it bluntly, is a real pain. We've all seen it before with mods; as the game loads, a series of pop-up windows appear informing us of various loading errors. In most cases, these errors relate to missing resources such as textures, nifs etc. But, in this case, the errors are more sinister, in that they relate to faulty geographical regions within the mod. To give them their due, the authors have supplied a hack for the Morrowind.ini file, which allows the player to dismiss all the errors with a single keystroke, but this is only a work-around at best. It just serves to give the player the uneasy feeling that the mod might not have been tested and debugged as much as they might have liked. Add to that the constant feeling whilst playing the game that other things might start to go awry, and that tends to leave the player with the impression of playing a second-rate mod.

    Personally, I have seen these errors before, so I understand the problem. But the player won't necessarily be an experienced modder that understands whether such loading errors are significant, and whether they are going to impact the gameplay. This could have the effect of persuading them to look for something more reliable. Now, either the authors understood the error, but took the shortcut option of the hack, which is sloppy; or, more than likely, they had no idea what was causing the error, which is forgiveable.

    As mentioned in the intro to this review, SOD requires Tribunal, but not Bloodmoon. The pop-up errors problem arises due to the fact that the development machine used by the developer has been loaded with Bloodmoon at some point, and the original Tribunal files have not been re-loaded prior to the development of SOD. With the arrival of Bloodmoon, Bethesda introduced two extra types of weather that could be assigned to a region. This meant that the variable assigned to hold weather types was increased to size 10 ( hex 0A ). Since the Bloodmoon version of the TESCS ( The Elder Scrolls Construction Set ) was used to compile the mod, each load of a region results in an overflow as the Tribunal.exe attempts to load the weather type into a size 8 field, which is the correct size for Morrowind and Tribunal. If the authors had known this, they could have easily fixed the problem by re-loading the Tribunal version of TESCS onto the development machine then recompiling the mod. The questions is, did they know?

  • onto the game..
  • Moving on now to the start of the game as the loading finishes, and the player finds himself near the dock of Daggersoul. This is the point at which the player starts to forget the loading hassles, and takes in the panorama that is Daggersoul, one of the large islands in the region of SOD. Everything looks very pretty and inviting, from the array of docks and ships to the rows of nicely laid-out houses, shops and market stalls. The scenery itself has the feel of Morrowind about it, as the shaped and smoothed low-lands merge gently with the sea and the undulating hills. There are no obvious signs of mis-placed objects or flaky construction as seen in other mods. Many NPC's can be seen milling around, going about their daily business, which gives the sense of a vibrant community. The player immediately gets the impression that there is going to be lots to do and see here. As you begin to wander around you come across the local denizens. This island is obviously well protected from marauders, as witnessed by the numerous guards, all kitted out in their beautifully crafted, custom armour. The market traders are all looking to give you a good bargain as you meander through the many stalls. Large statues sit atop the prominant headlands, and the larger structures, such as the temple, look imposing.

    Sadly, this is where the good impression begins to fade, as a series of setbacks quickly ensue. You speak to your first Daggersoul NPC for the first time, expecting to find out a little about the island and it's people. And there's the rub...the NPC has no unique dialog associated with the island, the people, or anything else for that matter. Their dialog consists entirely of the standard Morrowind fayre such as 'latest rumours', 'little secret' etc. There are no new responses to any of these questions, just the answers that you've seen thousands of times before. And that's a shame, since it is impossible to find out anything more about the island other that what you can see with your own eyes. And it's not just one or two NPC's that we're talking about here, it's all of them! After speaking to half a dozen, you quickly realise that it's a totally pointless exercise, since none of them have anything to say. Where's the storytelling in that? And yes, a game such as Morrowind, or Tribunal, or SOD must have a story; a plot, a goal, something achievable in order to be called a story, otherwise how can we become immersed in the game and achieve rewarding roleplay.

    You decide to take a look inside the tavern, because that's where you usually find all the interesting characters with all the interesting stories to tell. You speak to a few people that have nothing to say, then you meet Woody the Archer who has a little problem he wants you to solve. Do so, and he'll become your companion for the rest of the game. This is quickly achieved without breaking into much of a sweat, then it's back to more of the usual, after the short distraction.

    So, you continue to investigate the island of Daggersoul, avoiding the NPC's that you come across. You decide to visit a few of the many houses scattered around the centre, but quickly realise that they are all houses pulled straight out of Tribunal, with the odd change here and there, and with an NPC with nothing to say. You enter the impressive looking temple, only to find that it is just Ghostgate with the odd tweak and a host of temple guards that just get in the way. There is nothing of any interest in the whole of the building, as with the others you have visited.

    You finally make it to the Fine Weapon store and, joy of joys, something different and unexpected. A building that looks somewhat different inside compared to all the others, and crammed to the brim with all manner of exotic weapons for sale. This is the highlight in what can only be described as a soul-less community.

  • some questing to be had?
  • You eventually decide to curtail your exploration of the island so as to get involved with the game itself. You head over to the Council Building where you are supposed to start the adventure. Here, you meet the three kings, only one of which has anything to say. He immediately welcomes you as the visiting hero, come to the aid of his people. Something is afoot, and he's not sure what. He wants you to go and investigate, to speak to an ally on one of the neighbouring islands. You are to find out what he knows then report back. So, you head over to the next building where an array of travel experts can whisk you to any location within SOD in an instant. You find the right person that can send you to Sothador, materialise on the island, find the person almost immediately, get directed to someone else that tries to kill you, kill him, then return to the king with the news. And that's it, quest one completed.

    It doesn't take much imagination to guess what happens next...yes, you guessed it, the king now wants you to visit another of the islands to complete a similar, undemanding quest. I think you can probably get the jist of this game. It's mainly about a large set of scenery, a lot of custom armour and weapons, and very little plot. Maybe I'm being picky, but I do consider a good plot to be an integral part of the game. The 'fluff' is nice, don't get me wrong. The scenery, the weapons and the armour are all very well done. But, imagine this if you will, a large studio set, beautifully decorated with all the props and actors, but no script! The actors go about their business with no heed of you or the other actors around them. They have no lines, they have no purpose and there's no story to be told. It's just an empty shell.

    Well, by now you've probably gathered that I was not wholly impressed by what I saw in SOD, and you'd be right. It's an empty set, just waiting for someone to breathe some life into it, to generate a spark of interest in the player, to provide a worthwhile challenge to a once battle weary veteran.

  • conclusion..
  • A disappointing result on most fronts. I really was looking forward to a good challenge before Oblivion comes along, and, at times, it looked like I might be rewarded. But, the lack of any cohesive plot, and the zombie-like nature of all the inhabitants of SOD were a complete turn-off for me. Others, that appreciate just being able to trudge around the country admiring the scenery, may well get on with this mod. If you're looking for a mod that looks somewhat engaging, that is almost totally undemanding on any level, and that contains a shed-load of mouth-watering weapons and armour, then SOD may well be your cup-of-tea. Otherwise, I would suggest you stear clear of this one.

  • df rating..
  • 55%

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