4 Mechanics to Know Before Playing Morrowind

For prospective outlanders, these 4 mechanics will be crucial for surviving the harsh conditions of Morrowind. The RNG-based combat, complex stat systems, and slow pacing drive many modern beginners away. However, with proper knowledge, the game goes from a slog to an epic journey towards mastery.

4 Mechanics to Know Before Playing Morrowind Cover

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a radically different game from its successors. Instead of the more action-oriented Oblivion and Skyrim, it centers around RNG-based everything – from attacks, spells, stealth, to even persuasion. This makes it a tricky game for most newcomers. Thankfully, these 4 mechanics will help you go from an unsuspecting outlander to the hero of Morrowind.

You can purchase the game on Steam, GOG, and Xbox (including Xbox Game Pass). In addition, the screenshots use Morrowind Graphics Extender XE – a mod that implements 16:9 resolution, higher view distance, shaders, and more.

The Elder Scrolls III : Morrowind Trailer

1. Fatigue – The Key to Beating RNG

Morrowind has complex equations to determine whether you succeed or fail at almost anything. What links them together is that they use your current fatigue as values. Long story short, higher fatigue increases your chances with real-time actions – landing a strike with a weapon, casting magic, sneaking around, and so forth.

Granted, it doesn’t magically solve every instance of RNG. If you have a low skill level in Axe or Mysticism, not even max fatigue will help you use them effectively. Regardless, unless you’re traveling and you know that there aren’t any cliff racers to annoy you, it should be topped out as much as possible. You will miss your attacks, fail spells, and get hit much more often than otherwise.

Fatigue is the green bar in the lower-left corner. Keep it high.

Fatigue is the green bar in the lower-left corner. Keep it high.

2. Attributes – Your Character’s Bread

When creating a character, you’ll notice that every race has a unique set of attributes – their stats, in other words. All 8 attributes correlate to different playstyles and utilities. You can also choose two “favorite attributes,” which provide a 10 point bonus to both. 

Do you want to become a warrior? Focus on high strength for more weapon damage. Mages need intelligence for more Magicka, while thieves want agility for better stealth and lockpicking. Note that some stats are universally applicable, regardless of playstyle. Endurance is extremely important since it determines how much health you gain per level, speed simply affects your movement speed, and luck benefits almost everything you do.

Of course, whichever race, stats, birthsigns, and skills you pick is entirely up to you. However, if this is your first time playing Morrowind, note that certain combinations can make or break a class. As a point of reference, Nords are natural-born warriors, while High Elves are undisputedly mages.

 

Argonians have an interesting mix of magic and combat capabilities - perfect for my Night Lancer class.

Argonians have an interesting mix of magic and combat capabilities – perfect for my Night Lancer class.

3. Skills – The Butter

Speaking of skills, they’re essentially a list of options for completing the game. They receive a starting bonus depending on the race and specialization you choose, and the game places them into three categories – combat, magic, and stealth. For instance, Long Blade and Heavy Armor appear as “combat” skills, Conjuration and Destruction go under “magic,” and both Sneak and Short Blade correlate to “stealth.”

As in other Elder Scrolls games, successfully using these skills increases their level. The higher the level, the more proficient you are. Weapons hit more regularly; magic spells succeed more, armor better protects you – the list goes on.

You can mix and match different abilities to your liking, but ideally, you should specialize in a specific style. One of the major ones would be a warrior class, but where do you go from there? Do you want the augmentations of Alteration? The mobility of Acrobatics? Persuasion through Speechcraft? Furthermore, do your attributes and birthsign complement your set of skills? These are all things to consider when choosing major and minor skills.

If attributes lay out your gameplay style, skills determine your class.

If attributes signify your gameplay style, skills determine your class.

4. Combat – Fancy Footwork

Admittedly, combat mechanics in Morrowind are awkward – if not aged poorly. Not only can you miss the target despite clearly swinging through them, but the type of attack is based on how you move. Standing still and moving diagonally creates a chop, strafing side-by-side slashes, and forward and backward thrusts. The effectiveness of each attack type differs between weapons; swords are more balanced, axes have powerful chops, and spears have lengthy thrusts.

Alternatively, you can go into the settings and turn on “Always Use Best Attack,” but I don’t recommend this. The reason is that weapon leveling is solely based on strikes landing in the first place – not on damage dealt. Therefore, you can spam the weakest hit to gather the most experience out of an enemy. Just make sure you’re strong enough before doing that.

Mudcrabs make for good target practice.

Mudcrabs make for good target practice.

Do you have any tips for Morrowind mechanics?

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