/ Morrowind

Morrowind First Time: 15 Mods or Less in 2020

Foreword

This is a guide for those who want to play Morrowind for the first time, stay true to the original content but have a few Quality of Life and graphical improvements.
I've focused on a few things:

  • Reduce the clunkiness of Morrowind and make its discovery easier with useful tooltips (which is NOT the same as making the game easier)
  • Spruce up the graphics BUT keep the game accessible to lower-end machines
  • Fix known issues
  • Make this an introduction to modding.
    To this end, I selected mods that:
  • alleviate the main complaints I hear from new players
  • are pluginless and conflictless
  • can be disable in-game if the player opts for a vanilla experience.

What this guide does not do:

  • Make Morrowind look like a game released in 2020. We can do that but it takes some modding experience AND I honestly think Morrowind should be discovered first, modded second.
  • Overhaul and balance Morrowind: in my own game, I use many mods that prevent exploits, add realism and generally make the game more challenging. You may very well enjoy these mods too but once again, I strongly believe Morrowind should be discovered first, modded second. Not to mention that a balanced game is superlatively subjective.
  • Tell you which mods you must use or how to play the game.

You can find the modlist here

Morrowind

1. Get the game

Choose either the GOG version (recommended) or the Steam version.
The GOG version comes with the official plugins and the full manual in pdf. The Steam version doesn't have the Construction Set (used to create mods), though you can download it separately from the Nexus.

2. Install the game

  • If you hard disk is partitioned, or if you have more than one hard disk, install Morrowind anywhere but on C:. This is to avoid admin-only issues.
  • Launch the game to make sure it's installed properly.

Utilities

1. Morrowind Code Patch

ESSENTIAL

  • Download from the Nexus.
  • Extract in your Morrowind directory
  • Run Morrowind Code Patch.exe
  • Select the options shown below
    Untitled-2
    Of course, you are free to experiment with those, you can read their description, but I'd recommend playing the game first.
  • The other tabs already have all you need selected assuming you are playing the International/US version. If that's not the case, check the International tab. All bug fixes are selected by default so you don't need to worry about those.

2. Morrowind Graphic Extender

ESSENTIAL

  • Download from the Nexus. I personally get the manual installation version.
  • Extract in your Morrowind directory or use the exe to install.
  • Run MGEXEgui.exe
  • Select the following options:
    mge
  • We will look at Distant land later once we have installed a few more things.
  • Navigate to your Morrowind folder and find MWSE-Update.exe, double-click to run it.
  • Run Morrowind to make sure all is in working order

3. Wrye Mash

This tool can be a bit intimidating at first but I promise you it is the most powerful one around.

  • Download from the Nexus. I personally get the manual installation version.
  • Extract in your Morrowind directory or use the exe to install.
  • Run mash64.exe (found in Morrowind/Mopy).
  • All Wrye Mash needs to know is 1/ Where your Morrowind is, 2/ where the mods you'll download are. If you ever need to change directories, if you decide to store your mods elsewhere for example, click the cog icon at the bottom of Wrye Mash, select the paths tab.
  • There isn't much to it right now. Look under the "mods" tab so see and select the mod. By default, Morrowind.esm, Tribunal.esm and Bloodmoon.esm are selected since they are the base game. The GoG version comes with the official plugins that you can also select.
  • We'll come back after we've installed a couple of mods.
  • You can launch the game directly from the Morrowind icon in the bottom left corner of Wrye Mash.
    wrye

4. tes3merge

ESSENTIAL

  • Download from the Nexus
  • Create a folder tes3merge in your Morrowind directory and extract the content of the archive in your new folder
  • That's it for now! We need to install a few mods before using this.

Mods (at last!)

Download these directly into the folder you selected for mods when you installed Wrye Mash

1. Morrowind Optimization Patch

ESSENTIAL

This mod does what it says on the tin: no new models, no fancy new objects, just vanilla things that run nice and smooth.

2. Project Atlas

ESSENTIAL

This mod is also going to help your Morrowind nice and smooth, even on older machines.

3. Intelligent Textures

This mods enhances vanilla textures: Morrowind is still the same but in higher-def.
Totally optional but highly recommended.

4. Patch for Purists

ESSENTIAL

An essential mod that corrects inconsistencies, bugs and typos in the game.

5. Expansion delay

ESSENTIAL

When Bethesda released the dlc for Morrowind (Tribunal and Bloodmoon), they introduced the new quests in a rather clumsy way. This mod fixes that.

6. Graphic Herbalism MWSE

ESSENTIAL

In the base game, the player harvest plants by "opening" and dragging its content (if any) in their inventory. With Graphic Herbalism, you simply activate a plant to harvest it, much like in later Elder Scrolls games.

7. Easy Escort

ESSENTIAL

This mod makes escort quests, summoned creatures and followers manageable as they will follow the player better.

8.Move or Take My Place

ESSENTIAL

NPC can be very dumb and stand in doorways, staircases and corridors. With this mod, press left Alt key while looking at an npc to make them move.

9. Essential Indicators

A nifty mod that lets you know that the object you are looking at belongs to someone, or that the npc you are looking is important for a quest by changing the colour of your crosshair. Saves you the hassle of reloading because you stole/kill unknowingly and are now stuck.

10. Tooltip Complete

Morrowind is a very rich world with so much to discover it is often over-whelming. This mod adds bit-size information in the tooltips of items. Totally optional but a nice touch if you are interested in the lore.

11. Travel Tooltip

Morrowind is a big place with a few travel options. This shows you a map so you have a better idea of where you are travelling to. Optional but very welcome.

12. Shrine Tooltip

In Morrowind, you may pray (ahem, pay) at shrines to receive a blessing in the form of healing or buff. The names of these blessing are obscure: Meris's Warding, obviously provides protection but against what? Pay and find out. And then remember, along the other 20 blessings. With this mod, the tooltip simply states what the blessing does.

13. UI Expansion

ESSENTIAL

A very useful mod that lets you search you inventory and spell list with ease. Its most important feature, especially for a first-time player, is that the dialogue topics that have already been read are greyed-out. This may not seem like much, but when you have dozens of topics and you are trying to get new information, this mod will save you time (and sanity).

14. Speed Boost

Running speed in Morrowind is the source of many complaints. With this mod, you can tweak your running speed in-game to something that you find comfortable and balanced.

15. Mort's Ultimate Leveling Experience

Levelling your character in Morrowind requires some micro-management ("I need to level up 3 skills based on strength and 5 skills based on Endurance to get a maximum of health"). If this sort of planning is something you'd like, skip this mod altogether, if you are not sure, install it, we can disable it in-game later if needed.

16. MWSE Magicka Regen

Unlike Health and Fatigue, Magicka does not regenerate naturally in Morrowind. This means that you need to use potions and scrolls, or simply rest. In practical terms, most players will leave a dungeon when they run out of magicka and "rest" outside, by the dungeon door, before heading back in: rather un-immersive in my opinion. This mods lets you magicka regenerate slowly.

Note that Health does not regenerate over time either (unless you sleep) but it is not an issue: health potions, scrolls, shrines AND spells are readily available in the game.

17. Next Generation Combat

Morrowind is based on good old Pen and Paper role-play mechanics where you cast a die to determine the success of failure of actions. This happens under the hood, of course, but the combat suffers the most from this: you character will swing a sword right in the enemy's face... and nothing happens. A lot of players find this very frustrating. With this mod, every attack (yours and your enemies') will connect but the damage is proportional to your skill much like in the later Elder Scrolls games. In addition, each weapon type now has a special perk. This mod is fully customisable in-game so you can have some or none of its features.

Installing mods

Time to open Wrye Mash again, this time, go to the installers tab.

  • Wrye Mash will take a bit of time scanning your mods folders
  • The problem when installing mods, is that mods tends to overwrite each other: first let's organize the zipped mods. The basic idea is that zipped mods at the top can be overwritten by the mods below.

If you want a more in-death understanding of mod installation, check my Wrye Mash Guide

For now, click and drag the zipped mods to look like this (the only thing that really matter with our mod list is the last three mods):
ORDER-1

  • Let's install the mods from the top! Here's the basic principle:
  1. Click on a zipped file
  2. Check there are no (known) conflicts in the Conflicts tab
  3. Select the esp you want to install
  4. Right-click on the zipped file to open the context menu and click on install.
    install

Choosing the options for each mods:

1. Patch for Purists

Select all 3 esp
Right-click + install

2. Expansion Delay

Select Expansion Delay.esp
Right-click + install

3. Graphic Herbalism

Select the sub-packages 00 Core + Vanilla Meshes and 01 Optional - Smoothed Meshes
Right-click + install

4. Next Generation Combat

Select both esp, right-click on the zipped mod to install.

5. All mods down to Magicka Regen included

Right-click + install

6. Morrowind Optimization Patch

Select sub-packages 00 to 03 included
Select Lake Fjalding Anti-suck.esp
Right-click + install

7. Project Atlas

Select sub-packages 00, 20, 40
Right-click + install

8. Intelligent Textures

Select both sub-packages 00 and 01
Right-click + install

Mods tab

Head back to the mods tab to enable your mods
select

With a larger mod list, you would have to merge your levelled lists, however the mods we have installed do not conflict at all so we can skip this step.

Keep Wrye Mash open.

tes3merge

  • Navigate to your Morrowind/tes3merge directory
  • run tes3merge.exe (it's very fast since we have very few mods)
  • Go back to enable Merged Object.esp in Wrye Mash

MGE (Morrowind Graphic Extender)

  • Navigate to your Morrowind folder and run MGEXEgui.exe
  • Head to the Distant land tab
  • Click "Distant Land Generator Wizard, a new window pops up
  1. Select all the plugins and click continue
  2. Select the size of the land textures. Personally, I use 1024 for world textures and 512 for world normalmap.
  3. Click "Create Land Textures"
  4. Select the World Mesh Detail, I use high.
  5. Click "Create Land Meshes"
  6. Here's the next set of options:
    mge01
    With a beefy machine you can reduce the Minimum Static size. ALWAYS keep the Mesh detail level to full.

We don't have a grass mod right now as discovering Morrowind for the first-time is plenty beautiful already. If you absolutely want grass, download Remiros's Groundcover. Grass will have a hit on your fps.

  1. Click "Create Statics" and let MGE work, then click "Finish" to close this window.
  2. Enable "Dynamic ripples"
  3. Close MGE

Almost finally...

Good news, you are set to play.
Thanks to MGE/MWSE, we now have the possibility to change the settings of mods while in-game. Typically, all the options have a line or two of explanation. I recommend using the default settings and only change things around when you know what everything is and what you want to change. Most mods that be disabled right there in-game.

Finally!

Some useful tips:

  1. Read
  2. Seriously, read
  3. Fatigue is important: while you can run, fight... while you fatigue is at zero, your chances of success a greatly lowered.
  4. Combat is not dark-souls-level (VERY far from it) but you have a few options:
  • heavy / light attacks: the longer you hold the attack button, the more damage.
  • movement while attacking: weapons have a thrust (move forward + attack) damage, slash (move sideways + attack) damage and chop (stand + attack) damage. If this is not for you, go to the option menu and select "Always use best attack". If you keep the option, be sure to check what is the best attack with your current weapon.
  1. Save often, you can use F5 to quicksave but you should regularly do hard saves as well. This is a very light install and crashes should be rare or even inexistent. To keep your game running smoothly, use Wrye Mash to repair your saved games from time to time.
    The Repair All option will basically compare the data in your saved game file and the data from the master mods. rematch what was mismatched and delete unused references.
    While this certainly helps maintain a mod stable game, it is not a miracle.
    Not changing mod during a playthrough is still the best option.
  • Click in the list of masters, click save.
  • Right-click on the saved game file, click Repair All
  • Wait. Done
    WryeReapirSave-1
  1. You can remap your keyboard: most modern games use E to Activate objects and spacebar to jump, by default, Morrowind does the opposite
  2. F to ready your weapon, left mouse click to use your weapon, R to cast a selected spell, T to rest/wait, right-click to open/close your character sheet/inventory/spell list.

Last words

It was really hard to keep the list short, with so many mods I consider essential : grass, lights, shaders, realism mods... but a guide to make a (more) breath-taking Morrowind would be much longer, way more complex for new player and most importantly: if the first time you play the game, you have all the "best" mods, where do you go from there?
As someone who loves mods, making them, discovering them, installing them, even playing them..., I hope that new players will eventually get curious about "what else can this old game do? ".

Danae

Danae

Long time Morrowind fan, I decided to get busy on YouTube and Twitch in 2016. Before that, I've been creating mods for Morrowind. I also enjoy the gamejam scene.

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