Hortator Questline Brainstorming

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10Kaziem's picture
10Kaziem
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As discussed during the meeting on Sep 10, we need a place to gather ideas for the Hortator quests, for when we eventually get around to implementing them.

Problem: The Vvardenfell main quest claims you have to be Hortator of all the Great Houses. There were only 3 available to become Hortator of in vanilla Morrowind, but with TR around we now have access to all 5. Do we make the player have to become Hortator of all of them in order to proceed on the main quest?

Suggestions:

  • Claim that you only need the support of the 3 on Vv.
  • Claim that you only need a majority, ie, any 3.
  • Claim that you need all of them, write out Hortator quests for Dres and Indoril accordingly.

Discuss.

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All of them.

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I would say all of them.  However, if we are going to do Hortator quests, shouldn’t we follow the pattern set by vanilla, in which the player does one of the final quests for the faction?  If so, we need to have established those first don’t we?

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Second opinion is great oportunity not much edit vanilla and introduce TR in mine quest, so by practical reasons second is best.

 
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Honestly, this is one of the topics I don’t feel terribly invested in, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write a large post about it nonetheless.

The straightforward approach I’d considered for Indoril before is that they would formally and automatically recognize the PC as Hortator after the PC meets with Vivec, which assumes this bit doesn’t need to be done in chronological order:

 

I don’t think I had any idea on Dres back then. In general, TF’s majority vote idea would work quite well. That being said, I think both are certainly cop-outs from a narrative standpoint. One asks the question: why does only the majority need to recognize the PC? And the answers are either ‘Indoril and Dres wouldn’t accept an outlander Hortator’, which I think rather lacks imagination, or ‘we don’t want to mess with vanilla content’, which has nothing to do with the narrative.
On the latter point, there has been some discussion on how much would actually need to be changed. One specific suggestion was to just leave out the ‘three Houses’ and ‘four tribes’ lines from the above cinematic, which are arguably a bit redundant to start with.

As we have characterized House Dres – certainly as I’ve characterized them in my WIP questline – there’s one straightforward way to get recognized as Hortator by them: buy their recognition. Trade them something they perceive as equal value. The issue being Hortator is an incredibly valuable title, and the PC, as an outlander, lacks worth. The latter point can be amended in three ways: the PC proves their worth, someone with preestablished worth carries out the transaction in the PC’s stead, or the thing being offered in return is just that valuable to the Dres that being offered by an outlander does not sink its value enough to stop it being worthwhile. If we follow the vanilla model, the PC would need to make separate deals with all the Matriarchs, I guess.
With Indoril, things are less straightforward, but not for want of possibilities. I think Temple approval is not really the best approach as we’ve characterized Indoril, as illustrated by the Armistice: just because the Indoril don’t go against the Temple doesn’t mean they agree or accept all Temple decisions. That being said, Indoril Nerevar Mora cheated and lied his way into the House, so that’s one valid and narratively fitting approach for the PC to get Indoril approval. The other approach that springs to mind is a legal argument: for instance – presenting the case in such a way as to not immediately get reported to the Temple for heresy – making and winning a case demonstrating link-via-reincarnation to Indoril Nerevar.
Basically the Indoril, while not obsessed with law as such, operate through administration. They tend to focus on technicalities and place things into neat categories. The PC just needs to mess with their categorization and get ‘misplaced’. To become part of and justify their worldview rather than being an anomaly to be removed.

Having established that – at least in my eyes – acceptance as Hortator by all the Houses would be viable, I do actually have some narrative arguments that might speak against that approach:
While we make it pretty clear there are specifically five Great Houses, and they are organized in a council (often halfheartedly) and so on, things get murkier with the Ashlanders. I don’t see why the Ashlanders would have such a clear divide between their tribal camps and smaller camps. Especially on the mainland, the tribes have enough trouble keeping track of their own members, let alone each other. I don’t think getting the recognition of ‘all the tribes’ is a clear enough objective, basically.
The natural alternative, then, would be numerology. Pick a number that has significance which does not exceed the total number of tribal camps we will have in-game. Upping the Houses from three to five already broke the four-three/seven numerology (aha, another argument for the majority approach). Seven tribal camps would be the natural solution, but if the Ashlanders are the good and bad Daedra, what is the significance of the number five beyond simply ‘the Houses’? The corners of the world?
And the final issue is pacing. In vanilla Morrowind, you need to convince four Ashkhans and all the councillors of three Houses to accept you in one specific stage of the questline. In the case of TR, there would be more Ashkhans, more councillors and Houses, and far, far more ground to cover. That stage of the questline would be given a far greater role than it currently has, and might disrupt the pace of the questline as a whole. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but seems like it needs to be a conscious decision; if we want to roll with that, I think we may need to make more significant changes to the Vvardenfell Hortator and perhaps Nerevarine quests to match the new context.

To round off, I will say the ‘three Houses on Vvardenfell’ idea seems very flimsy, again from a narrative standpoint, and I doubt we would be well-served copying the vanilla pattern of overlap with the final Great House faction quests and getting recognized as Hortator. That is one vanilla convention we will disrupt either way by changing who the councillors of Telvanni and Hlaalu (not Redoran as far as I can recall) are. Our narrative approach is a bit more focused in direction than Bethesda’s, so I don’t think the last few TR Great House faction quests will be as easily torn from their contexts as their vanilla equivalents were.

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Your post raises an issue I have been thinking about.  Being named Hortator in the vanilla main quest always feels a bit flimsy, as it is essentually just a copy-and-pasted quest from the faction questlines.  Should we make entirely new quests for Hortator for each of the Houses.  Of course it is more work, but it may feel better.  If we raise the number of Houses by two, then going from councilor to councilor just asking to be named might be a tad annoying.  It would be more fun if getting named Hortator became a more laborious process.  (We needn’t even have the head of the faction automatically named Hortator, unless they are the Redoran.)  Being Telvanni Archmagister or Grand Ascendant doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be warmaster as well.

It could also be another way to show the character of the different Houses.  For example, being named Telvanni Hortator could involve minor quests which help the Magisters, but mostly because they find using you as an errand boy convenient and don’t want to pass up the opportunity, because the Magisters don’t care at all about the title because for the Telvanni it is powerless.  The Indoril however might take it very seriously (or maybe not because the Alma Rula has significant control over the Indoril forces perhaps?)  

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Practical me says the first option, because it’d be a massive undertaking and we need to finish TR first.

Idealistic me says YES DO IT NAO ALL THE HOUSES! ...and the tribes too!

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I remember I started a thread discussing this topic a while ago. It is rather difficult. But I think that if we choose the third option, despite it being longer, if done well, it would be more rewarding and relieving to become Hortator of all five great houses. We’ll just have to make sure that it’s not too tedious.

As for the Ashlanders, I think that something could be done as Nerevarine that would convince the Ashlanders without having to confront all of them individually. It may not make much sense for them to go to him, but something like that might work. I wouldn’t know for sure, but the Ashlanders on the mainland wouldn’t be as excited about a Nerevarine in a time not of crisis (at least not yet). If that is the case, then that could play a role.

Also, it might be more thrilling if the Temple actually had more of a presence as the Nerevarine fulfills his prophecy. In the vanilla game, the impacts on the player and others made by the Temple were pretty insignificant at least in terms of gameplay. However this could be done, it would still make the quest mechanically and narritively more exciting. I think. Oh well. 

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#3

In my mind, the Dres Hortator quests should be centered around the Satchim-Ichil and not scratch deep underneath the Dres surface. Understanding the Dres secrets is not something a war leader needs to do, they just need to lead their troops.

A good precondition would be to be Hortator of at least two other houses.
A couple of quests to convince the migratory council that the player is the real deal, one questline that resolves a minor pact of a Matriarch (like carrying a magic doodat filled with blood to a sealed Daedric ruin), one masked figure sniffing out the Nerevarine’s soul while they’re in a drug-induced haze according to “ash baptism” or some other made up ceremony, done.

Indoril I see pretty much like the vanilla questlines.

There’s also the question of the mainland Redoran/Hlaalu/Telvanni councilors. They should have their own little quests similar to the VV ones when we unify the factions.

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The 3-and-4 symbolism in the Hortator and Nerevarine quests are my main objection to a compulsory 5-house Hortator questline, but it’s worth also mentioning that changing the prophecy to “5 Houses must name you Hortator” will involve editing Azura’s voiced lines during the Cavern of the Incarnate scene. (though we might want to change the prerendered clip to show Dres and Indoril, anyway).

Something that might be interesting is making the 5 Hortator questlines mutually-incompletable (i.e, being named Hortator of the Dres necessitates taking actions that alienate Hlaalu councillors.) 

I don’t think it makes much sense to link the mainland Ashlanders with the Nerevarine cult, they seem too close to civilisation to be harbouring a four-thousand-year-old anti-Temple conspiracy, and presumably it was the Vvardenfell Ashlanders that had contact with Alandro Sul/the Wraith-mail. Another point I think is relevant is that while Indoril Nerevar literally (at least according to Temple dogma) united Morrowind, the Nerevarine is only doing so symbolically; the vanilla Hortator quests hardly leave the Houses/Tribes as a consolidated base, the player is clearly Hortator in name only. In that sense, it seems reasonable to not expect the player to actually unite every Ashlander tribe, but symbolically do so through the Nerevarine cult.

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Yeah sirrah, your points are pretty much the arguments against requiring the support of all the Houses and tribes. As I wrote in my lengthy post, the lines in the Cavern of the Incarnate aren’t necessarily an issue, as we can just edit the two lines out without really affecting the overall message.

For the Dres, while the PC being a Hortator of other Houses may make them deal with the PC more seriously, (as they’re not dealing with a mere outlander but with a representative of other Dunmer Houses), I don’t think it would ultimately affect how viable the Dres perceive the PC to be as a Hortator. Whatever the other Houses think of the PC has no bearing on the Dres.
I could see the Indoril caring very much, though; they might view a Hlaalu Hortator as a sort of anti-pope, as another Hlaalu attempt to set up a false authority disconnected from the Indoril, and treat the PC very warily. A Redoran Hortator they would probably try and treat respectfully, but probably patronizingly, inwardly shaking their head at the lack of judgement of their lesser cousins living off in the rugged northwest of Morrowind. A Telvanni Hortator they would likely be very suspicious of, as I doubt they’d consider for one second that the Telvanni genuinely have accepted the PC as protector and representative of their House, and that both the Telvanni and the PC must have some pretty hefty ulterior motives. A Dres Hortator would be quite a shocker, and perhaps the one the Indoril would be most inclined to take seriously just because it’s so out of character with the Dres. (The Indoril, of course, would not know about the big shady Dres deals). On the other hand, the Dres are perhaps the House Indoril feel the least capable of understanding, so they might just accept that the Dres are being the Dres and doing their own thing.