The "little topics" examined

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Atrayonis's picture
Atrayonis
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"The little topics" are several topics that are used by Bethesda to give NPCs generic, location-focused dialogue. These are rather formulaic, with a general gist of topics they cover. Tamriel Rebuilt adds another two.

In order to for future locations, this page is intended to list these (Morrowind first, Tamriel Rebuilt second), decipher the questions that the NPCs actually answers, then give two to three examples.

Someone in particular

  1. Who are the rulers?
  2. Who are the local faction leaders?
  3. Who are the shopkeepers?
Example: Balmora
 
Example: Dagon Fel
 

Specific place

  1. Where is this settlement located (region)?
  2. What are the defining locations of the settlement?
  3. Where are the shops?
  4. What travel services are there and where do they lead?
  5. Where do the roads lead?
Example: Gnisis
 
Example: Hla Oad
 

TR: Local economy

  1. Why does this city exist?
  2. How do the people earn their living?
  3. What do they trade?
Example: Firewatch
 
Example: Akamora
 

TR: Local area

  1. Where is this settlement located (region & geography)?
  2. Where do the roads lead?
  3. What areas of interest are nearby?
Example: Bahrammu
 
Example: Tel Muthada
 

TR: Local shops (should not be used)

  1. What does the NPC the player is currently talking to trade in?
  2. Where are the shops?
Example: Firewatch
 
Example: Gadave Sethan
 

Little advice (location-specific replies)

  1. Which NPCs should the player talk to for quests, training, or factions?
  2. What local area would interest the player?
  3. What is designed around this settlement that the player would find unusual?
  4. What should the player know about the game mechanics?
Example: Sadrith Mora
 
Example: Hla Oad
 

Little secret (location-specific replies)

  1. What dungeons are nearby that are of interest to the player?
  2. Which NPCs should the player talk to for quests or flavor?
Example: Ahemmusa Camp
 
Example: Molag Mar
 

Morrowind lore

  1. What defines province factions?
  2. How do the province political entities interact?
Example: Savant
 
Example: Temple Savant
 
Example: Savant
 
Gnomey's picture
Gnomey
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Adding this as a reply so that it doesn't get lost on Discord. After taking a quick glance at location topics (Balmora and Suran specifically), this is how they appear to operate in vanilla Morrowind:

At 30 disposition, NPCs in the location in question will tell you about it in detail. This entry is at the top, aside from ID specific ones.
At 0 disposition, savants anywhere (for TR's purposes in the given district) will mention relevant points about the location.
At 0 disposition, scouts in that location or in certain nearby locations will tell you a very basic line about it.

So scout-specific entries should generally be filtered to a cell, savant to a map, and the classless entry only to the location the topic is about.

Why's picture
Why
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And for all our sakes don't forget that practically all replies that tell the player anything significant at all about a town have ShowMap <townname> in the result box. This is something we have, historically, handled very inconsistently, and we need to get better at, as it's one of the main ways of giving the player a sense of scale and geography as well as of navigating to new towns beyond paying for fast travel or blindly following signposts.

Case in point, all Suran entries result in a ShowMap Suran, and all but two (Meril Hlaalo's "My family is quite important here in Balmora, now if you'll excuse me..." and Fast Eddie's "I'm just waiting here in Balmora until things cool off a bit in House Telvanni.") ShowMap Balmora.