Modder’s Interview: ProfArmitage
How long have you been modding and what was your first complete mod?
I looked in the Construction Set when I first got the game in 2002, placed a couple of cave tiles, and then never went back. My first mod was Thieves Guild Regained Trust in 2017. During one of your streams, you tried to join the Thieves Guild to clear a bounty, but you couldn’t because you had already done the codebook quest for the Fighters Guild. I decided to create a tiny dialogue mod using the existing quests that would let the player overcome the bad reputation that they had earned with the Thieves Guild.
Prof later released Strike at the Camonna Tong, an excellent mod where you track Cammon Tong members for the Thieves guild.
How do you approach modding?
Coming up with ideas has always been my problem. Right now, I’ll likely be sticking to dungeons and quests based on old D&D adventures, mostly from Dungeon Magazine, letting those authors come up with the initial ideas. I have a spreadsheet listing every adventure the magazine published in 150 issues, with the ability to randomly select one of them when I want an idea. I generally write everything out on paper, or Word if I’m going to need to paste a lot of dialogue into the Construction Set. I have several bound notebooks that I got at conferences for work that I’ve started using since they were otherwise just sitting around collecting dust.
What’s your favourite thing about modding?
I like the flexibility that it gives to change the game world. You can give a single NPC a new hairstyle or you can create a new continent. Then those creations can be shared with the community, letting others experience your work.
What’s your favourite mod that you’ve made so far?
The Plumed Mountain. I had ideas for a Morrowind mod inspired by the classic D&D adventure White Plume Mountain rattling around in my head since 2002, and the 2020 May Modathon finally provided the inspiration to make it. Now I just need to do all of the fixes and upgrades that it needs.
Is there a mod you are especially proud of?
Working as a team on Pimp My Shrine was amazing. The final product was something that I couldn’t have created myself with years of work.
Are you working on a mod these days?
There was a mod I started for the 2021 May Modathon before having an attack of lack of motivation. The player finds a map leading to an ancient abandoned dragon lair near Solstheim and has to explore it and deal with the current inhabitants.
You've taken part in a few modding events, what makes them special?
The short-duration Modjams can aggravate my problem of coming up with ideas, so they can be discouraging if I can't think of anything. On the other hand, they can be energizing when a mod idea does come to me. Working with other people on Modding Madness was enjoyable, with us bouncing ideas off each other, building on each others' work, and keeping each other encouraged.
How much do you play Morrowind, not counting play testing?
Not as much as I would like. I have a 12-page list of fixes and graphics upgrades for my main “playing install”, but I rarely get beyond installing it to play an actual full game. I also have a minimally upgraded “testing install” that I add mods to just so I can say that I played a particular mod, but there’s no story or roleplay involved there.
How did you discover Morrowind?
I started with Daggerfall at the recommendation of people in my tabletop RPG group at the time, and then I continued on with Battlespire, and then Morrowind. I skipped Redguard, which I don’t regret.
How was Morrowind coming from Daggerfall?
When I first started Morrowind I wasn't sure I liked the combat system, since I was used to moving the mouse in the direction and angle that you wanted to swing your weapon. I got used to it quickly though. I remember being impressed that the Morrowind NPCs had animated faces when they talked, compared to the static 2D sprites in Daggerfall.
What makes Morrowind special for you?
The alien environment and culture make it really different from most other fantasy games, particularly other games in the Elder Scrolls franchise. It makes the game a lot more memorable than a generic medieval European setting would.
What are the mods you simply cannot play without?
When I first played the game again after being away for more than 10 years, I installed MGSO (forgive me), and I was impressed with the atmosphere created by the dark dungeons and nighttime exteriors. Now I always play with Let There Be Darkness, Weather Adjuster with a separate preset for dark nights, and Glow in the Dahrk.
Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?
I don’t know if they would be considered “underrated”, but I like Spokorni’s house mods, particularly Yorick’s Tower since it includes an optional high-level quest to buy and clear the tower. I prefer house mods that have to be bought or earned through a quest instead of just moving in. My “to-do” list includes creating a quest plugin for his Grazelands Manor, which I mostly have plotted out in my head.
Do you play other games?
I play Skyrim, having won a free copy during a Twitch stream several years ago. Most of the games I have on Steam are digital adaptations of board games and card games – Sentinels of the Multiverse, Talisman, Battletech, Pandemic. I play several older strategy games, like Dungeon Keeper, Warcraft II, Starcraft, and Master of Orion II. I also play a few old games based on tabletop properties that I play, like Mechwarrior III and Temple of Elemental Evil.
And by the way, what's the story behind your user name?
Henry Armitage was the protagonist in H.P. Lovecraft’s 1929 short story “The Dunwich Horror”, although he was the head of the university library, not an actual professor.