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Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

I noticed the Mages Guild doesn't have a thread here yet, so here it is. That said, I don't have much to say about them at the moment, so I'll just quote klep (and myself):

klep wrote:
Concerning faction relationships, or NPC reactions towards members of other factions.

In another thread I started drawing a table to determine faction relationships with other factions, which has changed a few times since the first sketch. The table shows NPC reactions towards members of different factions. The table should be read by finding the source faction on the left hand column, and matching it with a faction from the top row. See the table in the spoiler below.
Gnomey wrote:
First of all, in those graphs, I think the vertical columns are really the most important. They show how the opinions of members of factions change upon the player joining a certain faction.
Always remember that faction relations are inherently player-centric. The player will probably never join Her Hands, for instance, so figuring out what other factions would think of Her Hands would mostly be a waste of time. Figuring out what Her Hands thinks (if anything) of other factions is, however, very important.
Truth be told, I think it might be more reasonable to just figure out the vertical columns in the individual faction threads. This would split the task into bite-sized portions, allowing for proper discussion, and it would be rather easy to then go through the faction threads and gather the results.


Per Gnomey’s advice I am now splitting this up through the faction threads. Please discuss in this thread the reactions of other factions towards [the Mages Guild] to keep things organised.



[...]

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Post Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:58 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

I want to very prematurely broach the subject of guild guides. We cannot plan them out properly at this time because we have no idea what locations will end up having Mages Guilds, aside from a handful of certain locations. For the sake of discussion, however, here's a list of the current candidates for Mages Guild chapters as I understand them, splitting them between the administrative districts (as I suggest in my post from Jan. 20 in the Empire thread):

a. Vvardenfell
Ald-ruhn
Balmora
Caldera
Vivec
Wolverine Hall Note that there are no Imperial guilds in Sadrith Mora, and that instead they are shacked up in the Imperial hall; also note that it's called a hall and not a fort, though going by its visuals those are just semantics; also note that Sadirth Mora is the Telvanni place for receiving outlanders.
b. Telvannis
Firewatch
Bal Oyra? The questionmark mainly being there because it's a small town in Telvannis; I have no idea if there were any radical ideas for Bal Oyra or anything.
Helnim? The questionmark being there because I have no idea whether we'll end up making Helnim Telvanni, Imperial, or who knows what.
c. Mournhold
Akamora? Question well established here; no point in worrying about the answer at the moment. If this doesn't get a Mages Guild, though, I'd suggest going with Fort Windmoth, if it will exist, using Wolverine Hall as a precedent.
Andothren
Llothis? Several questions here; will it exist, will it have Imperial guilds. Probably best discussed in the thread for that settlement, as it has one.
Mournhold
Old Ebonheart
d. Deshaan
Tear? I'd say one guildhall in Dres lands, at most, and Tear is where the Dres deal with undesirables/outlanders.
e. Narsis
Kragenmar
Narsis
...?
f. Velothis
Baan Malur
Cormar? Not sure if this will be Imperial or Redoran.
Kartúr?
Kogotél?
...?

Do correct me if I missed something; I may well have. Note that some cities may belong to a different district depending on how the borders are drawn, which is something to be discussed here.

So at best that gives us:
a. 5
b. 3
c. 5
d. 1
e. 5
f. 4

Now five is the magic number, because in Morrowind NPCs can only provide four travel destinations. There are workarounds, but I would frankly find it more of a bother to abandon this particular system at this point than to just roll with it; putting it briefly, I think dropping it would open a large can of worms I would rather leave sealed.

So assuming we stick to five as a magic number, Telvannis, Deshaan and Velothis fall short of our mark. We should be able to get five for Narsis one way or another, it being Hlaalu. I personally think we could probably scrape together five for Velothis, and at the moment I think we should: it is in the West, the Redoran are as a whole unable to check Imperial incursion, and so on and so forth. That leaves us with Telvannis and Deshaan, which I actually think they are fine as they are. They are places where the Mages Guild has failed to gain a foothold, and as such can be short on chapters.

There is one more subtle infringement on the magic number, though: there are six administrative districts. My main proposal for the Mages Guild guild guide system is that there should be a second guild guide in the most important Mages Guild chapter of each district, linking to the other premier chapters; so a network between a. Vivec, b. Firewatch, c. Old Ebonheart/Mournhold, d. Tear, e. Narsis and f. Baan Malur. However, for that to work one of those needs to be cut out in some way.

One idea would be to leave out Vvardenfell, but the only reason for doing so that springs to mind is to avoid mod conflicts, which is a weak reason when taken on its own. Another would be to cut out Deshaan, which I think is worth considering. Another would be to merge Telvannis and Deshaan, which I'd like a lot more if they weren't on opposite ends of the province. Another would be to merge Deshaan with Narsis -- which is a small district -- if we don't want Mages Guild chapters in every Tier III Hlaalu town, though in this case as well the distance between Kragenmar and Tear would be rather large.
Or, perhaps, we could make Deshaan the exception and simply handle it through dialogue; ask the inter-district guild guide to transport you to Tear, and he'll say something to the effect of 'your funeral' and away you go. I think I like this solution best.

---

Here's a rather ugly doodle on Swiftoak's map, which is only supposed to give a rough idea of how such a system would look and where the locations I mentioned are. The straight white and blue lines are mine, as well as the black district borders which should by and large be ignored:



Once again, please do not take this as a proposal for Mages Guild locations or a concrete plan for the guild guide network or, for that matter, anything else concrete. The basic idea here is: link five chapters in each district, link five chapters from each district, figure out what to do with the districts with less than five chapters, figure out what to do with the sixth district. I think the actual figuring out of how many chapters there are/should be in any particular district should be dealt with on a district-by-district basis. Specifically, I'd suggest figuring out travel routes for a particular area as one of the last steps before releasing that area, so if we should be worrying about any district it would be Mournhold, and I think that can wait a little.

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"The "drunks" are hopefully leading the "sober" in the right direction. They're just not heading there in a straight line...." - Kovacius

"I have nothing to declare except my genius." - Oscar Wilde, border
Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:41 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
RyanS
Lead Developer
19 Aug 2013

Location: California

I understand you don't wish to discuss travel options/guild locations yet, so I'll make this short; but could adding guild chapters to the border forts be an option? (e.g. adding a hall to Silgrod Pass, and another in whatever the Narsis border fort will be) Most forts are Imperial-run and definitely seem to be large enough.
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Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:21 am Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Theminimanx
Lead Developer
26 Jan 2014

Location: GMT +1

Wow, I did not know about the max 4 destinations per transport NPC rule.
...
OpenMW, save us!!

More seriously, to me the most elegant solution would be to just not place Mages Guilds in one of regions. Dres is the obvious candidate here, thanks to their xenophobia. If we're not certainly not going to put Mages Guilds in cities other than Tear, then the leap to not placing one in Tear either isn't that hard to make. If they can force their duke to hide out at OE, it isn't hard for me to imagine House Dres not being especially welcoming to a bunch wizards. Even if Tear is supposed to be the place where Dres deals with outsiders, they're researchers, not traders.

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Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:25 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

RyanS wrote:
[..]could adding guild chapters to the border forts be an option?


Yes. I was going to include the idea for the Narsis district, in fact; I mainly didn't because the context of the western border forts is very different from that of Wolverine Hall, but it would still be a valid option.

As for not giving Deshaan a Mages Guild, yeah, that's probably the likeliest option.

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"The "drunks" are hopefully leading the "sober" in the right direction. They're just not heading there in a straight line...." - Kovacius

"I have nothing to declare except my genius." - Oscar Wilde, border
Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:17 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
arvisrend
Lead Developer
04 Oct 2010

Location: substitutional world

@Gnomey:

I remember hearing the idea that Bal Oyra would be deleted one day. The MG there is just a "relay", whatever this means (a single room mainly used for travel), and the two Bal Oyra MG quests don't seem to use it.

Helnim has a lot of Imperial stuff currently (way too much), and I'd rather not add an MG to the mix even if it is kept.

Akamora has an MG already and it would be a major pain in the ass to repurpose it to a different town. Arguably I'd have put it in a different town if I were to do things from scratch, but I'd rather not make any grand plans which require this to be changed now.

Fort Windmoth is an abysmal place for a Mages Guild to be in. If we get rid of the corruption plotline (which I'd rather not -- it is not bad), it will basically be a blank slate, and then we can just as well take any other fort.

I can't speak of Dres lands.

About Kragenmar: is it necessary? That's a question, and not a rhetorical one; I am essentially asking if this is the kind of place where an MG makes sense, because I want to know what kind of place it is.

Should a guild-guide travel system really be a set of disjoint cliques? Wouldn't it make more sense if different regions were connected by travel options between their respectively closest points? That at the cost of not connecting far-apart nodes in the network. It would be similar to the other transportation networks, such as silt striders.

What do you think about small MG branches at the border forts with Cyrodiil and Skyrim? The respective travel options might only be available for high-rank members, so as to not make the places available too early in the game. I'd imagine the MG is interested in keeping contact with the branches in the other provinces, and the Imperial legions defending the forts feel safer having some mages around.

EDIT: FFS I should have read RyanS's post before I posted mine. It's always great to see one's opinions validated. :)

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Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:29 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

arvisrend wrote:
I remember hearing the idea that Bal Oyra would be deleted one day. The MG there is just a "relay", whatever this means (a single room mainly used for travel), and the two Bal Oyra MG quests don't seem to use it.

Helnim has a lot of Imperial stuff currently (way too much), and I'd rather not add an MG to the mix even if it is kept.


Yeah, having only Firewatch could work just as well; that all remains to be seen.

arvisrend wrote:
Akamora has an MG already and it would be a major pain in the ass to repurpose it to a different town. Arguably I'd have put it in a different town if I were to do things from scratch, but I'd rather not make any grand plans which require this to be changed now.

Fort Windmoth is an abysmal place for a Mages Guild to be in. If we get rid of the corruption plotline (which I'd rather not -- it is not bad), it will basically be a blank slate, and then we can just as well take any other fort.


As far as I'm concerned I'm leaving my hands off of Akamora, at least until we get back to working on the region around it, so when I mention it I'm more covering for possibilities than anything else. Until we have a clear idea of what we want to do with the region, I'd be against making any changes to Akamora. The same goes for Fort Windmoth and other Imperial locations that far east.

arvisrend wrote:
About Kragenmar: is it necessary? That's a question, and not a rhetorical one; I am essentially asking if this is the kind of place where an MG makes sense, because I want to know what kind of place it is.


I think so; current plans seem to go in the direction of it being the Hlaalu town with the largest percentage of outlanders. It's also a Hlaalu Tier II, and both of the other Tier IIs have Mages Guilds. I'm more worried about the smaller towns, for which using the border forts instead would be one solution.

arvisrend wrote:
Should a guild-guide travel system really be a set of disjoint cliques? Wouldn't it make more sense if different regions were connected by travel options between their respectively closest points? That at the cost of not connecting far-apart nodes in the network. It would be similar to the other transportation networks, such as silt striders.


The unique characteristic of the guild guide system is that you can travel between all of the locations in the network from any location in the network. This makes it stand apart from other travel systems, and also underlines the fact that the system uses teleportation, and as such that geographical distances -- or at least travel routes -- are not much of a concern.
I'd rather keep that characteristic, which either means allowing the player to travel to any Mages Guild chapter in Morrowind from any Mages Guild chapter in Morrowind, or taking advantage of the arbitrary administrative districts to create artificial borders to teleportation. At the moment, I prefer the latter. It's ugly, but sometimes that's a good thing, it's distinctive, and it's fairly easy to grasp and remember in-game.

_________________
"The "drunks" are hopefully leading the "sober" in the right direction. They're just not heading there in a straight line...." - Kovacius

"I have nothing to declare except my genius." - Oscar Wilde, border
Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:46 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Yeti
Lead Developer
15 Feb 2009

Location: Minnesota: The Land of 11,842 Lakes

Not that it has much to do with the topic, but Cormar will definitely stay Imperial. When was it ever questions that it wouldn't? It's the only Imperial settlement in northwest Morrowind at the moment.
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Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:14 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

The idea has been tossed around here and there, but I don't think anything was ever posted on the forums. When we get around to discussing Cormar the idea might surface, but for the time being I wouldn't worry about it. Edit: I'm personally for keeping it Imperial myself, but the alternative has never been fully explained to me.
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"The "drunks" are hopefully leading the "sober" in the right direction. They're just not heading there in a straight line...." - Kovacius

"I have nothing to declare except my genius." - Oscar Wilde, border
Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:22 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Tondollari
Developer
02 Dec 2013

Location: Louisiana

Gnomey wrote:

Here's a rather ugly doodle on Swiftoak's map (...)

http://i.imgur.com/o0fUQAD.png][img]http://i.imgur.com/o0fUQADl.png


Is there a higher definition version of this map? This one is a little too compressed & I can't read everything.
Post Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:39 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Theminimanx
Lead Developer
26 Jan 2014

Location: GMT +1

The original map (without doodles) can be found here:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/yovm95l2wl8me72/Master%20Plan%20%5BEverything%5D.jpg?dl=0

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Post Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:12 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

Has Balmora’s Mages Guild chapter never struck you as a little… odd?

I mean - Wasn’t Ranis Athrys a pretty cold character - almost Telvanni like in her ruthlessness?

Look at the kind of quests she gave us:

- Convince an ex-Telvanni to join the Mages Guild.
- Escort a High Elf scholar to Pelagiad to get his notes, thought she didn’t actually care how you got the notes (murder’s fine).
- Persuade a reclusive mage, obviously uninvolved in the MG, to pay 2000 septims in Guild Dues.
- Force an independent Argonian alchemist to close up shop, possibly through murder, because he’s operating in Mages Guild territory…

Of course, Ranis is not representative of the entirety of the guild, what about the Guild Stewards of Ald-Ruhn and Wolverine Hall?

Skink-in-Tree’s-Shade aks you to murder an ex-member for breaking rules, while Edwinna Elbert sends you on a strip-mining mission to pillage native ruin’s of their indigenous riches.
And not to forget one of the final quests of the guild for becoming Archmagister: a blatant and crude power grab achieved by killing all of the Telvanni councilors.

Does this strike you as a collective of quirky semi-autistic smartypant hippy scientists, as mage archetypes are typically portraid in fantasy - or as a moblike and imperialistic union expanding and enforcing its monopoly?

The feeling I had for the Mages Guild, when I first played Morrowind, is that they were the “Good Mages”, while the Telvanni where the “Antihero/Bad Mages”. They somehow came across as the underdog in the Mages Guild vs. Telvanni rivalry. But what if there was more to it? There’s a reason why one of Master Aryon’s quests is breaking the Mages Guild’s monopoly in Redoran territory. The MG has a lot more power, and a lot more bussiness-like ruthlessness, than one might initially think.

What if we ran with this as a backdrop for designing the MG. We’re not playing with an innocent collective of quirky mages - we’re playing for an imperialistic organization looking to expand its power, stripmine magical artifacts and steal the knowledge of the Telvanni. Specifically that would mean more quests where you pursuade independent mages to join, more collecting of guild dues under the threat of violence, more extortion of non-member mages - either to exile them from MG territory or demanding tribute, and more.

(This also fits the broader theme of role-reversals found in Morrowind; Fighters are typically portrayed as moral and upright - Morrowind’s FG is entirely corrupt; Thieves are typically portrayed as shady and selfish - Morrowind’s TG are noble thieves; Mages are typically portrayed as idiosyncratic and out-of-touch - Morrowind’s MG is a down-to-earth corporation expanding power.)

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Post Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:27 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Telvayn
Member
28 Jan 2014



immortal_pigs wrote:
I mean - Wasn’t Ranis Athrys a pretty cold character - almost Telvanni like in her ruthlessness?

Seeing how we can hear the Telvanni Archmagister (one before Gothren) killed her parents, it seems likely she was connected with the House.

Quote:
Skink-in-Tree’s-Shade aks you to murder an ex-member for breaking rules

For breaking the law, with the crime being punished by death. The ex-member is doomed anyway, and this shows the locals the Guild does care about the law.

Quote:
Edwinna Elbert sends you on a strip-mining mission to pillage native ruin’s of their indigenous riches.

All of the riches belong to the Empire anyway.

Quote:
And not to forget one of the final quests of the guild for becoming Archmagister: a blatant and crude power grab achieved by killing all of the Telvanni councilors.

Seeing what Trebonius supposedly ordered other guild members to do clearly shows he got the position either due to having great political support or because someone wanted to get rid of him.

Quote:
The MG has a lot more power, and a lot more bussiness-like ruthlessness, than one might initially think.

And while the Telvanni teach us several spells and shower with enchanted items, the Guild gives us hardly anything.

Quote:
What if we ran with this as a backdrop for designing the MG. We’re not playing with an innocent collective of quirky mages - we’re playing for an imperialistic organization looking to expand its power, stripmine magical artifacts and steal the knowledge of the Telvanni. Specifically that would mean more quests where you pursuade independent mages to join, more collecting of guild dues under the threat of violence, more extortion of non-member mages - either to exile them from MG territory or demanding tribute, and more.

This was basically spelled out in the Origins of the Mages Guild book - the Guild become so involved into politics, that the original mission (and even structure created by Galerion - and kept in Daggerfall) got lost along the way. Also shown by it falling alongside the Empire (while the FG stayed "alive").
Post Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:29 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

Quote:
And while the Telvanni teach us several spells and shower with enchanted items, the Guild gives us hardly anything.


True. Instead, the Mages Guild's more ambitious members are actively stealing and cheating eachother.

Think of Ajira's bitter rivalry with the Bosmer enchanter Galbedir. Ajira sends the player to thwart Galbedir's ambitions of becoming a Journeyman by placing a fake soul gem in her desk, while later on Galbedir steals and hides Ajira's alchemical papers to stall her advancement as revenge.

(The Fake Soul Gem quest does offer a passive opportunity to steal Galbedir's rather lavish collection of soul gems should the player be so inclined, as Galbedir will leave her desk during the quest).

Or look at Edwinna Elbert asking the player to steal the book Chimarvamidium from fellow guild member Sirilonwe in the Vivec chapter, as opposed to just openly asking for it.

This does not leave the impression of collaborating and sharing mages, but rather ambitious actors seeking to further their position by sabotaging their rivals.

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Terrifying Daedric Foe
Developer
26 Aug 2010

Location: England

I was rereading the Vhul thread and came across Gnomey's proposal for the wizard Narvs Sodryth.

Gnomey wrote:
Narvs Sodryth might be an ex-Mages Guild member from abroad who for whatever reason decided to cut ties with the guild by setting up shop in Indoril territory, (the reason doesn't need to be explored, but should probably not be tampering in dark arts or anything clichéd; maybe he wanted to simply pursue his studies undisturbed by guild bureaucracy?)


This offers potential for a quest of the "bullying-magical-practitioners-who-aren't-members-of-the-Mages-Guild" type.

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Post Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:03 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

I don't have too much to add to the discussion; as noted, the Mages Guild has a problem with corruption, but rather than strictly affecting those outside of the guild as a purely corporate-level problem, its effects can be felt everywhere in the guild's structure. Edwinna Elbert is interested in the Dwemer and is willing to do anything in her quest for knowledge of the race, Ranis Athrys has an axe to grind and is willing to do anything to get her way, Skink's interest is more along the lines of vampirism, Ajira in getting promoted before Galbedir, etc. etc.

I think the Mages Guild's problem is essentially decadence. It's too powerful and influential for any other faction to check, and its members are generally either uninterested, unwilling or unable to properly police each other. The Cyrodiil Archmage attempts as much in Oblivion and look where that gets him and the guild.
So should they, either as individuals or as a mass, be huge, festering, nigh-unstoppable pain-in-the-necks? Probably, though as noted Skink doesn't really do anything wrong -- at least by Imperial standards -- while Edwinna Elbert and Ajira are rather tame in what they demand of the player.

And note that Ajira's rivalry with Galbedir is hardly bitter. Galbedir seems to take it all rather well, really, and Ajira -- while concerned when her papers are stolen -- hardly seems up in arms about the whole affair.

While I agree with the overall thrust of the above posts, though, I don't really agree with a lot of the less important points made; I think the idea of portraying Mages as without scruples and self-interested is hardly new; it was an exaggeration of that trope that gave us House Telvanni. I do, however, agree that the more corporate, almost mafiosi attitude of the guild is fairly novel. Also, having noble Thieves is hardly new; Robin Hood has medieval origins and I think that image is about as common in modern fantasy as the 'edgier', seedier thief characters. I'd argue the latter trope is, in fact, generally a reaction to the former, and the surge in popularity of 'grittier' portrayals of thieves is a relatively modern phenomenon, which can be seen as recently as in Skyrim.

Edit: the wizard in Vhul might indeed be a good choice for a Mages Guild quest; he's in Indoril lands, where the Mages Guild would have little influence, but near the border. It would be a good way of representing Indoril's inability to stem the tide of western influence.

_________________
"The "drunks" are hopefully leading the "sober" in the right direction. They're just not heading there in a straight line...." - Kovacius

"I have nothing to declare except my genius." - Oscar Wilde, border
Post Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:19 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
arvisrend
Lead Developer
04 Oct 2010

Location: substitutional world

I haven't read the whole conversation, but let me add that the Galbedir-Ajira rivalry always struck me as friendly, almost a joke. The monetary value of the soulgems (prior to the MCP rebalance) might have given you a serious-business association, but I really doubt that the player was ever meant to steal them. I am not sure if I would generalize a corruption/decadence thread that is visible in Balmora onto the whole MG, either. Edwinna and Skink are either motivated by honest curiosity, or good at hiding their ulterior motives.

In general, the contrast between the MG and House Telvanni should definitely remain strong, both at the superficial and the deeper levels, or else we will be lacking a faction representing a certain kind of gameplay. Projection of Imperial power is already the player's mainquest job, and there are enough occasions on which it bleeds into other questlines.

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