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Fun Things To Do In Balmora

Whether you've taken the silt strider directly from Seyda Neen or walked on foot killing wandering monsters and pocketing useful objects all the way, you will eventually make your way to Balmora, your first real Morrowind city. Explore it at will and at your own pace; unlike the wilderness, which is littered with things you aren't supposed to do until later, there is little you could do in Balmora that would impinge on your fun later in the game. (Don't kill NPC's you aren't specifically tasked to kill, is the only biggie; many of the people here, including seemingly unimportant ones, will come into play later in the game.)

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Here's my guide to interesting things in and around the city:

1) First, and most basically, there are the service providers. In Balmora, I found 36 trainers (!); there may be more, too. Some won't train you till you belong to their faction or have a high level. There are also several merchants, two transport providers (the silt strider operator and a teleporter in the Mages' Guild), two enchanters, and, finally, someone who will buy moon sugar and skooma from you. Figuring out who is too straightforward to qualify as a quest per se, but I won't ruin it for you. Start by asking Nine-Toes for advice, if you're frustrated; he'll even give you a sample.

2) The Thieves' Guild doesn't have a placard out front that says "Thieves Guild," but it just so happens to be the building you're supposed to go to first, so you could hardly miss it. It's called the "South Wall Cornerclub" and is in the southeast of town. If you join, you can get a series of Thieves' Guild Quests, beginning with the mission to steal a diamond. If you suffered through Bethesda's last Elder Scrolls game, Morrowind, you may be starting to hyperventilate right now. Relax: it's just a lame fed-ex quest, not a sign of worse things to come. Guild quests will NOT all consist of "Hi, bring me an [object X] from {dungeon Y]." Some of them are actually interesting (there will eventually be guild politics and stuff), and even the fed-ex quests are at least scripted. You will not get stuck in a randomly generated underground tunnel trying to get the one magical ingredient your guildmaster will accept out of a crack in the game environment. I promise. In fact, you don't even have to steal the diamond Habasi sends you after; you can steal (or buy) a diamond from anywhere.

3) Caius Cosades lives nearby there too, and you can get more specific directions from the Thieves Guild folks (or just wave your cursor over all the doors in this neighborhood till one says 'Caius Cosades House,' that works too.) Caius is evidently a moon-sugar addict, leaves empty gin bottles lying around on his floor, and never wears a shirt. Too bad his dialogue is too badly-written to portray the Hemingway-esque sort of frontier agent he must have originally been conceived as. If you arrive here at a low enough level (lower than level 5), Caius will give you 200 gold to help you outfit yourself. Either way, he will then shoo you out the door to gain some more levels before entrusting you with your next errand, fetching some documents from the Fighters Guild. Get used to this--except for the spymasters, Blades are pretty much just couriers with swords. This particular quest does run into a complication (the guy with the notes won't give them to you until you go fetch something else for HIM, from a dungeon guarded by a fairly dangerous NPC), so Caius is right, it's a good idea to do some of the other, easier quests around town first, and try this one once you're level 8-10 or so. It's up to you though; it's possible to do this quest even at a low level if you're determined enough. There's a whole string of Errands for Caius that you can do after that. In fact, you can't win the game without completing them eventually.

4) Across the River Odai you can find the Fighters Guild (they do have a placard hanging out front). If you join, you can get a series of Fighters' Guild Quests, beginning with one to kill some rats. There's a lot of interesting guild politics going on in the Fighters' Guild--be sure you chat with the trainers downstairs, one of whom will refer you to Percius Mercius in Ald'ruhn. He's the one who really knows what's going on here. He won't tell you till much later, but he'll give you intriguing clues, and advice about all the quests you get from Fire-Eyes. You won't need it for the one about the rats, but once she starts sending you off to interact with people, see what Percius has to say about it before taking any actions.

5) Right next door to the Fighters Guild is the Mages Guild (also with a placard out front). If you join, the guildmaster still won't give you any quests till you're a journeyman, so you'll have to work your way up by doing some Throat quests for one of her apprentices, Ajira. You can ask both Ranis and Galbedir about what Ajira's asking you to do, if it worries you; no one actually seems to mind. Eventually you'll achieve journeyman rank and be able to embark on a series of Mages' Guild Quests. The guild also features teleportation and enchantment services, and is a good place to start learning about enchantment, soulgems, and custom spells, if you aren't actively opposed to magic use. Once you reach the rank of Warlock, make sure you come back and talk to Ajira again, as she'll give you a free tip-off to the location of two powerful magical artifacts. Finally, it *is* possible to get the orcish necromancer to tell you more about necromancy, but you have to confront her with some inarguable proof of her profession before that will happen.

6) You can also join the Tribunal Temple, in the large temple complex north of town. If you join, you can get the Pilgrim's Progress quest. This is a moderately tough multi-part quest that requires visits to several different locations, but you can (and probably should) take your time finishing it.

7) You can discover the local Camonna Tong hangout with minimal exploration, but since you can't join the Camonna Tong (even if you're a dark elf yourself), there's no point yet. Eventually several different quests will lead you in here. No matter how obnoxious they are, it's a good idea not to kill these guys until you've finished the Murder Mystery quest, because you'll need one of the NPCs in here for that.

8) You can join House Hlaalu if you want to. This is the only Great House you can join in Balmora, so most people do. Be aware that if you join Hlaalu, you will never be able to join Redoran or Telvanni when you encounter them later. They're all about equally fun, but Hlaalu is (generally speaking) geared more towards rogue-types, Redoran more towards warrior-types, and Telvanni more towards mage-types. If you've already played the game as a Hlaalu once, then be sure to pass on it this time so you can experience one of the others. If you do join Hlaalu, you can get a series of House Hlaalu Quests here, beginning with one to infiltrate House Redoran.

9) In one house, the Hlaalo Manor, you can bump into a quest, Murder Mystery. Asking locals about the murder will get you directed to the Hlaalu headwoman, Nileno Dorvayn, who has offered a reward to anyone who tracks down the killer. You can complete this quest regardless of whether or not you belong to her House (she will bring it to your attention herself if you do, but will have the same information to provide you with either way).

10) There's nothing to do in the Morag Tong guildhouse until much later (you can only join this guild in Vivec), but if you explore the house thoroughly enough, you can find a puzzling corpse in a locked room, by the name of Methas Hlaalo, who has a unique item (a named amulet) on his person. Unlike Ralen Hlaalo, no one in town has ever heard of Methas or cares about his death, and there is no plot associated with either his body or his amulet to the best of my knowledge. This must have been part of a quest that didn't make it into the final version of this game.

11) And, of course, you can break into, explore, and/or loot any other houses you care to. Just don't kill anyone you aren't directly tasked to, as many NPCs in this city are useful for later quests.

12) Just northeast of town, along the road to Caldera, you can encounter a body that will start a small quest, The Dead Smuggler.

13) There are three ancestral tombs in the vicinity of Balmora: Tharys just southwest of the city, Norvayn to the northwest, and Andrethi to the west. None of the three figures in any quest, so they are all fine to explore. Andrethi Ancestral Tomb does contain Berne vampires, and you can infect yourself with vampirism here if you'd like. The other dungeons nearby are the Shulk Egg Mine to the south, which you'll need for a Fighter's Guild quest, and the Arkngthand Dwemer Ruins across the bridge to the southeast, which you'll need for a Blades quest. You shouldn't go into either of those dungeons until you are assigned to.

And that's about all there is in the Balmora vicinity. Now what about the areas you're asked to go to for all these quests you've collected? Read on!

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Taino language * Native wolf masks * Native medicine * Longhouse picture * Tribal design

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