Guidelines for Quests and Dialogue

Quest ideas and dialogue should be posted in the Asset Browser.

Guidelines to Creating Good Quests

Principles of quests

  1. A quest should be fun to play.
  2. You may have ways to fail the quest.
  3. Failing/succeeding may have consequences, ie multiple endings!

 

Three things one should acknowledge before doing anything

  1. Combat in Morrowind is not fun. Woosh woosh hit woosh woosh hit. Repeat until insane. Apart from the fight against Dagoth Ur and Lorkhan’s heart there aren’t any real boss fights in the vanilla game. Fighting Almalexia/Imperfect/Hircine was about as fun as fighting a cave rat with 2000 hitpoints. Quests that are only about killing person X aren’t fun.
  2. Fetching things is not fun. Being sent half the world away to find a missing item is tedious work. It doesn’t matter if the item’s a shipment of Sujamma or a lost artifact. Quests that are only about fetching item Y from location Z aren’t fun.
  3. Escorting NPCs a million miles through the wilderness is not fun. In this case the biggest challenge is oftentimes provided by the AI (or lack thereof). Quests that are only about escorting an NPC from location A to B aren’t fun.

Most, if not all, quests both in Vanilla Morrowind and TR tend to center around one of these three quest archetypes. This is not a problem in itself, because there are many ways to flesh these out (more on that below). However, quests that are only about one of the un-fun concepts listed above should be avoided.
 

A few things that are fun when encountered in a quest

  1. Exploration. Discovering interesting/pretty places.
  2. Conspiring. Lying to NPCs and being lied to by NPCs.
  3. Solving puzzles.
  4. Getting meaningful rewards. Not just gold.
  5. Getting the impression that what you do has meaning. Have the NPCs react differently depending on different outcomes. After succeeding in a difficult quest you should be the talk of the town.
  6. Witnessing showy scripting. The world of Morrowind is very static, so whenever a quest offers something cool and new to see, it’s a reason to play the quest in itself. Think teleportation magic, NPCs engaging in combat with one another, water levels rising, walls moving, lights going out, spells exploding, sound effects, etc..
  7. Making choices. A pivotal moment where the player gets to make a choice in what direction the quest will go from there on out. Do I kill this person, or let them live? Do I address this important character politely, or insult them? Also, since there’s no proper “infamy” counter in Morrowind, failing quests/being an evil character should be recognized via dialogue responses.

 

Some fine examples of TR quests that are fun

  • Dead Marshes - Combat made fun with simple puzzle-solving. The lich Sabine is nigh-impossible to kill unless you kill her husband Reynard first and smash Sabine’s Locket.
  • Search for a Perfect Sword - Fetching things made fun with meaningful rewards. After finding and giving ‘the perfect sword’ to Anirwen he will become a follower for the player.
  • Coladia Nelus' Stalker - Escorting made fun with conspiring / puzzle-solving. The player escorts and betrays/traps the stalker to either in a Velothi tower or a ship. This quest also features some showy scripting.

 

Things to watch out for in dialogue

The word ‘quest’.  Quest givers should never use that word. It should be a favor, or a task, or trekking in the wilderness, but they should NEVER talk about actual quests (aside from the rare cases where the NPC is a Cult Oracle or a messenger from a god). The word quest might appear in book writings, but even then it should be used sparingly.
i.e. (This is acceptable:) “I began my quest to figure out what specific ingredients cause Mazte to taste like rat piss,”
(This is not acceptable:) “I was questing over near the ashlands when I noticed…”
 

Creating a unique topic

When you’re implementing a quest and you need to create a new topic, make sure that topic is unique! If your topic is something simple, there’s a chance that it will conflict with another plugin adding a topic that incorporates the same words. Should that happen, the topic text won’t be highlighted in dialogue. Using the exact same topic name as another plugin is not a source of conflicts in and of itself*.
*if two plugins edit the same dialogue line from the original game to add new dialogue under or above it, the ordering may end up reversed when both are loaded together. This is one of the reasons why adding dialogue above the top lines of the original game (or under the bottom lines) is discouraged. However, this won't happen if your plugins are clean and don't edit vanilla dialogue.

A prime example is the “help me” topic that two TR quests used in the past. This topic was also used within an LGNPC mod, which was not an issue, but yet another LGNPC mod added the topic "able to help". It so happened that in TR, the greeting meant to hyperlink "help me" included it in the sentence "perhaps you could be able to help me". Because of this, when both mods were loaded, the game engine looked for "able to help" instead of "help me" and the player was unable to click the topic. Therefore, it is VERY important to make sure that quest topics you create are unique. This is especially important when factoring in the other province mods and realizing that there’s going to be a thousand or so new topics.

A more or less idiot proof way of making sure a topic is unique is to have it contain a proper noun: a quest location or an object or a NPC relevant to the quest. So, for example, instead of ”Will you help me settle my debt with Rethys?” one could use “Will you help me settle my debt with Rethys?”. This will make sure that your plugin does not generate conflicts elsewhere. If another plugin uses the topic "settle my debt", though, the same issue could still apply in yours.

In addition, topics unique to a quest should ideally be found as hyperlinks in the quest’s Journal entries, so that the player can easily check the dialogue relevant to that quest. So a Journal entry for a quest should read “Rathog gro-Mullug in Narsis docks asked me to help him settle his debt with Rethys Naaril, a Camonna Tong enforcer. I should look for Rethys Naaril in the Black Hearth Cornerclub.” instead of “Rathog gro-Mullug in Narsis docks owes some money to a Camonna Tong enforcer named Rethys Naaril and asked me to help him settle the debt. I should look for him in the Black Hearth Cornerclub. [no hyperlinks]”
 

Understanding the Greetings Tab

Greeting Intended Use
Greetings 0 Absolute priority, includes crime greetings for arresting guards using the “alarmed” function.
Greetings 1 Priority quest greetings where it doesn’t matter if the player is a vampire, criminal, etc. The Vow of Silence failure reply must be at the top.
Greetings 2 Player is a vampire/player is nude, both generic and for triggering vampire-enabled quests.
Greetings 3 Special greetings for traitors to the Morag Tong.
Greetings 4 Greetings for players with common diseases, blight, or corprus. Also covers writs for the Morag Tong, and faction-based greetings if the player has a high bounty.
Greetings 5 Greetings for NPCs involved in quests, both faction-based and miscellaneous.
Greetings 6 Greetings between faction members. Also includes expelled greetings.
Greetings 7 Class-based greetings (publicans, fast travel, guards, slaves), unique ID greetings, crime level greetings, Endgame Nerevarine greetings.
Greetings 8 Clothes (general greetings concerning how player is dressed). Will not trigger properly in an unpatched game due to Endgame Nerevarine greetings.
Greetings 9 Location-filtered greetings. Will not trigger properly in an unpatched game due to Endgame Nerevarine greetings.

When adding greetings, there are really only four of the 9 possible 'Greetings' topics which you should be adding to, without a very clear reason as to your deviation.

Greeting 7: Generic local dialogue, of the kind created in an NPC claim. If your quest needs to add some non quest related greetings, or modify the dialogue of an existing NPC claim, such greetings will be found here.

Greeting 1: Greetings which are known to be prompted by a ForceGreeting should go here. ForceGreetings are 'once only' events, so if the intended greeting gets hijacked by a Diseased, Unclothed or Vampire greeting, it may well break your quest. Therefore ForceGreetings, or any others which should not be filtered out in favour of the above, should go high up in the Greetings chart.

Greeting 6: Non-quest greetings that belong to an important faction NPC, or are shared among NPCs in a certain faction (location), go here. Any quest-related greetings should still go in Greeting 5 though.

Greeting 5: All other quest related greetings should be placed here.