Tamriel Rebuilt is a massive community modding project more than 22 years in the making that aims to expand the game world of TES III: Morrowind by adding the missing mainland of the province. The mod is released sequentially as a series of fully realized expansions that add new landmass along with all interior locations, NPCs, dialogue, and tons of quests. Players can already download and play a completed landmass that comprises about half of the Morrowind mainland, including hundreds of interiors, NPCs, thousands of lines of dialogue, and more than 600 quests – much more than the original game and expansions combined.
Having given you time to digest the Andaram expansion that came our last October, it’s time to tease you with what we are up to next: introducing Grasping Fortune. This massive expansion will extend the available mainland all the way to Morrowind’s southwestern border with Cyrodiil and will bring you Narsis, the capital of House Hlaalu and one of Morrowind's prime cities.
A map of the playable area to be added in Grasping Fortune. Colors correspond to different regions: blue for Aanthirin, mauve for Othreleth Woods, yellow for Coronati Basin, and tan for Shipal-Shin. The inset on the top left shows the location on a map of all of Morrowind.
This one will be among the largest and most content-rich expansions we will have attempted, but the good news is that the pace of development on this has been quite fast. To see what you have coming your way, read on.
The highlight of this expansion is surely Narsis – the second-biggest city in Morrowind and possibly the richest, sprawling across a mesa on the upper Thirr, where the great river first becomes navigable.
Narsis has long been a bit of a holy grail for Tamriel Rebuilt, ever since Prometheus, a talented early level designer, first designed a monumental iteration of it in 2004. Beset by technical and conceptual issues, the city has been remade three times over the course of two decades, but is now finally well on its way to release.
Narsis is the capital of Great House Hlaalu, possibly the preeminent faction in late Third Era Morrowind. Hence, the Council Quarter on top of Narsis’ central mesa hosts the grand Measurehall, the headquarters of House Hlaalu and all its byzantine bureaucracy. The bustling Market Quarter also holds the HQ of the Hlaalu Council Company, an entity that consolidates House Hlaalu’s considerable trade power for dealings outside of the province, holding major interests in Cyrodiil and Argonia. Many branches of clan Hlaalu make their home in opulent manors across the city, while the disgraced Duke of Narsis stews in Castle Narsis, just outside the city’s boundaries.
Narsis Measurehall, the seat of Hlaalu power. Interior level design by Fremennik (not yet reviewed).
The dark side of House Hlaalu is its connections to the Camonna Tong. Their influence goes deep inside the city – among countless business ventures controlled by Tong associates, the most conspicuous is the Council Quarter casino, where rich outlanders are fleeced for all their worth. The Tong’s more sordid dealings happen in the labyrinthine sewers that run below the entire city for what seems like miles.
In spite of the outlander-hating Tong, Narsis is fully steeped in Empire. As mentioned in the apocryphal Skeleton Man interview from 1999, Narsis is the seat of the Proconsul, an important if ineffectual Imperial appointee who plays a large role in Morrowind’s bureaucracy of government, often squabbling with King Helseth in Almalexia on their particular division of responsibilities.
The Narsis Arena. Interior level design by Vern and CdoubleOK (not yet reviewed), interior shell model by shivatheo.
Aside from the Imperial government, the semi-private East Empire Company has one of its most important chapters here, directing overland trade between the Nibenay and Morrowind. Countless merchants pass through the Grand Bazaar in the Market Quarter, proffering wares from all corners of Tamriel. Many of these outlanders have settled permanently, making their home in the giant Foreign Quarter, which hosts some of the province’s most important guildhalls for the Mages and Fighters guilds and many others besides. Those faithful to outlander gods have come together to outfit the lavish Chapel of Zenithar in the same quarter.
The little people of Narsis are often employed as dockhands on the Waterfront, always busy with ships loading and unloading for the trip up the Thirr, or as miners in the region’s many lucrative sapphire mines. They often have to make their home in the scummy apartment towers of the Cammona-Tong-dominated St. Veloth’s Quarter. Among their few entertainments are sermons in one of Narsis’ two important Tribunal Temples or fights in the imposing Narsis Arena, where adventurers, too, may try their luck.
The Narsis sewers by Aveno, Bero, Osidian, Khazar, and Vern, all compiled into a Construction Set image by Aveno. And this doesn’t even include the catacombs…
The truly squalid denizens of Narsis find their way into the labyrinthine sewers, often becoming victims to the several criminal gangs that contest the city’s underworld. A few unlucky ones will stumble unto the old Catacombs which intersect the sewers – the most ancient part of the city, by tradition dating back to Veloth’s time, now full of undead dangers.
Considering all of the above, you may already be worrying about performance in such a large city (cough Old Ebonheart cough). Fear not; Chef’s restrained and clever level design allows us to pack the city with more content than any other locale in Morrowind so far, all without melting your computer. Thanks to the central mesa, few sightlines will have you rendering the whole city on the screen at once. Not only that, the city is left to breathe, eschewing the performance-killing overcluttering that prior settlements from Tamriel Rebuilt have typically suffered from. At least in the current stage of development, performance in Narsis promises to be at least reasonable for most players.
Narsis is surrounded on three sides by Morrowind’s southernmost biome – the Shipal-Shin region. The most arid locale in Morrowind, this reddish desert forms the border both with Argonia and Cyrodiil. Although the Thirr sources itself between the mesas, only a few scraggly plants survive here under the hot sun.
Approaching the town of Shipal-Sharai through the canyons of Shipal-Shin. Exterior level design by Fürst Thal, heavenlee, and Phenoix12, screenshot by shivatheo.
Millennia ago, the Shipal-Shin used to be inhabited by the Morrowind Nedes, primordial humans whose distant descendants may now be found on the archipelago of Cathnoquey in the Padomaic Ocean. Only a few burial goods and cave paintings remain of these people.
Now, the arid canyons are inhabited by a couple caravan outposts and what few Hlaalu farmers and ranches manage to eke out a living here. Much better acclimatized are the Shinathi – Dunmer nomads with a complicated relationship to House Hlaalu. Although they bear many similarities, the Shinathi differ from the Ashlanders by adopting the material culture of their surrounding settled folk as needed, even the Imperials. They herd their Sand Kwooms, ride their trusty Sharai hoppers, and will happily both guard and raid caravans, depending on circumstance. Yet, even they steer clear of the nasty skyrenders or the powerful “Horned Butchers” (placeholder name) that stalk the canyons.
Aside from Narsis, the only other town in the region is Shipal-Sharai, a once-prosperous caravanserai. With the continuing decay of Mir Corrup across the border in Cyrodiil, the trade route through Shipal-Sharai has lost much of its importance and the town has entered into decline. As the Hlaalu governor remains preoccupied with their own mysterious affairs, it is up to the small Imperial Legion garrison to try to keep things together.
Hiding among the canyons are many points of interest for would-be adventurers – two Septimite Imperial forts/outposts guarding the passes out of the province, a Temple monastery celebrating the source of the Thirr river, a ruin of the Barsaebic Ayleids that once ruled the adjacent corner of Black Marsh, an abandoned fortress of the Reman Empire from the late First Era, and a massive Velothi tower complex taken over as a headquarters for the unscrupulous Ja-Natta crime syndicate.
Looking across Shipal-Shin, towards the Cyrodiil border. Exterior level design by DarkKnightComes (S’wit), Chef, and mojo187.
Some might ask why we chose to develop the Shipal-Shin region first, instead of the Othreleth Woods that lies somewhat closer to currently released areas? This is simply a historical artifact of the means available to us – the assets needed for Shipal-Shin were fewer and easier to complete, compared to those for the Othreleth Woods. Because of this, exterior claims for the former were first opened to development in 2020, while the latter could only really get going in 2022. Hopefully you will excuse the weird shape the in-game map will have for a year or two before we get the next expansion out the gate.
Coming together with Grasping Fortune is the remainder of the Coronati Basin region, surrounding the Lake Coronati known from the vanilla book “2920, Last Year of the First Era” and constituting the middle run of the Thirr River. Seen already in the Andaram expansion last October, the shores of the Thirr crowd with thick mushroom mangroves here, surrounded by yellow semi-arid fields.
Many Hlaalu towns dot the riverside here. The most prominent of those is Hlerynhul (a.k.a. Heimlyn Keep from TES: Arena), home to the Hlaalu councilor Ivul Hleryn, rich and powerful from levies imposed on those traveling the Kanit river up to the Othreleth Woods. The prosperous town also includes an Imperial Legion garrison, a Fighters Guild chapter, and a Chapel of Dibella.
If you are looking for the local Mages Guild chapter, there is one in the slightly smaller town of Othmura just downriver – once a fishing village that has recently seen a boom in trade and construction. Then on the eastern bank there is Sadrathim, a small village governed by scions of House Sadras, most notable for including a Chapel of Stendarr frequented by converts among the local populace.
While not quite the locus of political intrigue like the Aanthirin region to its north, the survival of the Redoran Ald Iuval–Ald Marak double-fortress on the exit from Lake Coronati ensures a steady low-level conflict between houses Hlaalu and Redoran in the Basin. In fact, this whole area along with the neighboring Othreleth Woods was once part of the vast Redoran Waters March. Through centuries, the Hlaalu managed to flip nearly all the old Redoran bannermen in southwest Morrowind – yet, the old March capital still stands proud, unwilling to give in.
Skylamp mounts await their Redoran masters in the fortress of Ald Marak. Exterior level design by Meriyal, Rats, Chef, and Nemon.
The player can help the Redoran lord of the March sustain their precarious grip on the fortress, or side with the Hlaalu to further undermine what’s left of the Waters March. Better yet, help the Temple ensure the little people of Ald Iuval are taken care of while the Great Houses squabble – or take advantage of the distractions to help the Ja-Natta syndicate expand their criminal operations at the expense of said populace.
Looking across Lake Coronati. Exterior level design by Excuses and Accusations, Cicero, Chef, Nemon, Gnomey, MinerMan60101, Nirvayn, and others.
Once slated to release in what became the Andaram expansion, this part of the Coronati Basin was punted over into Grasping Fortune a couple years back in order to give the many towns of the middle Thirr a proper political gravity centre in the city of Narsis. This way, local questlines in these relatively quaint towns have to do less heavy lifting, leaving the tricky intrigue to Narsis.
Among a grab-bag of various items tucked into Grasping Fortune will be a substantial sliver of the lush, yet alien Othreleth Woods region also seen in Andaram, and a slew of smaller pieces of new content.
This time around we will try to finally get the long-delayed Foul Murder questline – our little epilogue to Morrowind’s main quest – merged into the mod. Trouble is that we are perennially lacking one last needed asset that would complete the questline (SPOILER link). If you can make or are willing to learn to make creature models, or know of someone who can, please do consider helping out here. Otherwise, if need be, we can merge Foul Murder using a placeholder asset for now, although we would then likely gate the questline behind an off-by-default terminal setting for those who would prefer to experience it in its full glory later down the line.
Marhaus testing out scripts in their work-in-progress Old Ebonheart melee tournament.
Old Ebonheart is slated to get a few tweaks, too – Marhaus continues to make progress on the ambitious melee tournament and may possibly finish it in time for Grasping Fortune. They are also overhauling the East Empire Company questline with the blessing of its former developer.
Further, we wish to make some substantial dialogue alterations and a couple of interior reworks in Old Ebonheart that would clarify its role in provincial administration. Specifially, we are moving away from old TR lore which placed Old Ebonheart as the heart of Morrowind’s Imperial government; rather, that role will be given to the TES III canon locations of Almalexia and Narsis, with Old Ebonheart retaining the headquarters of Morrowind’s Imperial Legion.
The Saros Archipelago, with the overrun Fort Firemoth in the background. Exterior level design by Selengor and Chef.
Finally, among the islands that rim the norther margin of the province, some may come to be included in Grasping Fortune, should they be ready by the time: the Leviathan isles that lie just north of Sheogorad; Vounoura, a northerly isle home to a secretive shrine to Sanguine; or our re-imagining of Firemoth, expanded to include a new Imperial Legion quest to rebuild the fortress.
All exteriors needed for Grasping Fortune are now finally ready, with the recent addition of a strip of Coronati Basin in the east of the release area thanks to Chef. The 3D assets still missing are relatively few, with a couple of important exceptions, like the skyrender hive interior set, additions to our Ayleid interior set, as well as some statues, clothes, and creatures.
Most effort on the interior level design side has recently gone into reviewing nearly all claims in the Coronati Basin region, although the addition of the afore-mentioned strip of land just expanded the scope of that task. Otherwise, still to be done are a couple of caves in Shipal-Shin, a few giant interiors in Narsis, and a ton of reviews of completed interiors in the Shipal-Shin wilderness and the town of Shipal-Sharai. The lack of an interior tileset for our skyrender hives prevents us from working on the respective interiors yet.
All the dialogue and many faction quests for most towns in the Coronati Basin are ready, as is a substantial part of the NPC and dialogue work for the city of Narsis. Most quest work, however, is still bottlenecked behind the interiors mentioned above.
While the questing burden ahead is still substantial, we have a good pace going and hope to make this release cycle swift – no estimate on a release date, though!
This is it for Grasping Fortune, but much like with our 2022 release, Embers of Empire, we have a development side-track wherein we aim to rework the old and nearly content-less Sundered Scar region, with a little bit added extra – read about that one in the next news post!
Then, of course, we’re working on even more than that; primarily, on the rest of Morrowind’s southwestern quadrant, including the bulk of the Othreleth Woods region and the city of Kragenmoor. We are also getting the assets and heightmap ready for the Clambering Moor region and a reworked Mephalan Vales. We hope to bring a more detailed overview of all that progress in a month or two.
In the meantime, if you’d like to follow our development closer or come chat with us, join us on our Discord server, where we develop the mod in the open. Denis418 also posts much more frequent content teasers and updates there on the #progress-reports channel.
Better yet, if you’d like to help realize the world of Morrowind faster, consider joining our development team – TES III: Morrowind has among the most accessible modding scenes out there thanks to its easy, intuitive, and constantly-improving level design tools; most of our current developers had no modding or game design experience prior to joining!