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Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



You know what it is! This time, there's a secret hidden inside.

For preparing a document about the House Hlaalu.

As this is the first house to be discussed, we also need to establish what we will need to establish to regard this document as finished.

Swiftoak Edit: Moved Sload's thread into here for consolidation. Please remember these threads are meant for the discussion of Factions as Character/Tropes not necessarily particular questlines or how we plan on implementing this yet.

NOTE: This was originally two threads, the posts on the first page my be confusing for that reason.



Notes for House Hlaalu.pdf
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Last edited by Sload on Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:15 pm; edited 2 times in total
Post Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:44 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Infragris
Developer
10 Mar 2013



I really like the big Hlaalu secret, but I would add a note of internal tension to it: the high level of secrecy involved in the project has gradually diminished its base of support among the Hlaalu, and the people truly dedicated to it are now a (powerful) minority, opposed by factions within the lower ranks who are either ignorant of the conspiracy, or secretly oppose it and earnestly pursue Imperial power and recognition.

Parts of the actual quest design could reflect this, with internal purges that the player takes part in, etc.

EDIT: a somewhat related question. how far do you think Hlaalu holdings in the rest of the Empire stretch? Do they control mountain passes, trade routes, that sort of thing? And what is their weight in the Imperial City? I've always assumed that any provincial representation in the capital would be solely in Hlaalu hands (wich could tie into some quests). I'm asking for P:C as well.

EDIT EDIT: the Skeleton Man interview has some interesting tidbits relating to this: the "Theoretical Dignity Club" in Narsis, and a mention of the Great Hlaalu or his Vizier as having the real power in Morrowind. The Theoretical Dignitiy Club could perhaps double as a invitation-only meeting place for the Hlaalu top ranks who are in on the secret.
Post Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:40 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
gro-Dhal
Lead Developer
05 Nov 2006

Location: A charter'd street

So pleased that this has seen the light of day.

Infragris wrote:
EDIT: a somewhat related question. how far do you think Hlaalu holdings in the rest of the Empire stretch? Do they control mountain passes, trade routes, that sort of thing? And what is their weight in the Imperial City? I've always assumed that any provincial representation in the capital would be solely in Hlaalu hands (wich could tie into some quests). I'm asking for P:C as well.


They control County Cheydinhal as of Oblivion.

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Post Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:39 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

The first question to ask would be: "what will the END of this story be like"? By starting with the end in mind we can work our way backwards to the beginning. As long as we know there's a satisfying ending at the end of the road the rest of the details will be easier to fill in.

Some other questions:

1) Will the player have a chance to influence the direction the House will take in the end? Will there be other courses besides fighting "the enemy"?

2) How and why does the player end up in the Hlaalu secret elite? As this is an important plot twist in the story.

3) How do they sabotage "the enemy"?

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Post Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:13 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
gro-Dhal
Lead Developer
05 Nov 2006

Location: A charter'd street

^That's stuff to think about when it comes to designing the faction questline. I think for now the focus is on fleshing out the general character of the house. Not that I can see a great deal to add to this.

One thought: aside from being a general economic nuisance and a rival to the Hlaalu's own pet scoundrels, the Thieves' Guild is perceived as a threat because they're a sneaky faction that exists beyond Imperial control (and thus, beyond Hlaalu influence). There are serious concerns that the Guild could potentially stumble upon Hlaalu secrets in a way that the Empire's spies won't, so the Thieves are persecuted with particular aggressiveness in Hlaalu territory.

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Terrifying Daedric Foe
Developer
26 Aug 2010

Location: England

There's also the fact that the Thieves Guild are infringing on the Camonna Tong's monopoly on shady activities.
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Post Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:33 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

idea for the questline:

For the duration of 2/3d of the questline the story is driven by some pan Imperial-Hlaalu project. It could be the exploitation of the Thirr River Valley, or some kind of mining project, in any case something economical. This Imperial project would depend on Hlaalu cooperation. The first 2/3d of the story would feature the Hlaalu removing competitors out of the way, seemingly in the interest of the Imperials. Along the way they end up so intrinsically entwined in the Imperial system that when the twist comes, they have agents in place across all Imperial sectors... and the consequences are dire.

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Post Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:17 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
adamantum
Developer
25 Jun 2007

Location: Belgrade / Velika Plana

The Hlaalu secret is a great idea. I would really like to see the focus of the questline shift from more mundane profit - related quests (could be as a part of a pan Imperial-Hlaalu project, yes), to the great Hlaalu conspiracy to secede from the Empire and maybe even annex the County Cheydinhal. As the player advances through the ranks, he would first be given tasks that would, in the end, be revealed to have been related to the project, and in the end, when he proves himself worthy, he would be let in on the conspiracy. The questline would end with events set in motion that would result in an independant Morrowind with annexed Cheydinhal, but the project is first postponed when the Oblivion Crisis hits, and then ultimately foiled when the Red Year ruins everything. It would be tantalizing to see how close Morrowind we all know and love was to achieving greatness...

As for the general character of the house, I imagine it would be divided into the 'true' Hlaalu, the minority that knows of the conspiracy, and the 'false' Hlaalu, the majority that only joined the house for profit. Most, if not all, of the non-dunmer members would be a part of the 'false' Hlaalu, and they would have no idea the 'true' Hlaalu exist at all. Accepting outlanders would both serve to strengthen the house and maybe even to lay the foundation for a possible Morrowind empire in the future. The friction between the two parts of the house would only be hinted early on, but it would become more obvious as the player gets higher in ranks.
Post Thu Dec 26, 2013 6:57 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
gro-Dhal
Lead Developer
05 Nov 2006

Location: A charter'd street

One thing it might be worth thinking about is how the Hlaalu, as an economic power, underpin their wealth. The slave trade has no international market, and agricultural production is handled by the Dres. So does their money come from mining? Manufacturing? Brewing? This would affect the character of their cities.
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Post Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:58 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Why
Lead Developer
04 Jul 2009

Location: Utrecht

gro-Dhal wrote:
One thing it might be worth thinking about is how the Hlaalu, as an economic power, underpin their wealth. The slave trade has no international market, and agricultural production is handled by the Dres. So does their money come from mining? Manufacturing? Brewing? This would affect the character of their cities.
They underpin their wealth simply by being, and leveraging their status as, an economic and political powerhouse?

Hlaalu got rich long ago by being the first to set up stable and reliable trade relations with the Imperials. Now they have a hand in virtually all trade passing the Velothi mountains. They levy taxes and enact tolls on trading caravans through legal authority within their district. They gain commissions for connecting local and foreign businessmen. They use their political positions and connections to sell influence to the highest bidder. They intimidate and extort traders around the continent with their many Tongs and other associates. They infiltrate and sabotage rival trade organizations - East Empire Company comes to mind. They create artificial scarcity by hoarding or destroying certain goods. They poison Netch fed food not traded through Hlaalu channels. They falsify documents and steal commoners' houses.

I'd really like their main source of wealth to be all this stuff, which I suppose we can call "trade", rather than actual production. Production is left to the commoners, for Hlaalu to profit off.
Post Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:42 am Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



this is largely a repeat of why's post, and along the same lines.

primary sources of the house hlaalu's wealth:
-control of the border passes at Kragenmoor & Shadowgate (Narsis), giving them a monopoly on trade with the west
-control of the khajiit slave trade (by the above), especially prior to the introduction of argonian slave trade by the dres
-control of much major internal trade infrastructure - port tolls but also caravanserai along land routes
-lending; the house is the only entity which it allows to charge interest on loans within its territory, making it the only legal lender.
-land taxes and leases of its vast territorial wealth

the house controls trade, in other words. the house has a way to take a cut of anyone trying to profit in areas it controls, but doesnt itself produce anything (other than stability & regulation, which it would say is an invaluable service).

meanwhile, many wealthy individual hlaalu (including magnificently wealthy and powerful ones) have also made money by:
-mining, sometimes for rare materials but mainly egg mining
-agriculture, but not saltrice. mainly comberries for brewing & hackle-lo, possibly other crops that are not as major as saltrice.

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Post Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:52 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



For preparing a document about the House Hlaalu.

As this is the first house to be discussed, we also need to establish what we will need to establish to regard this document as finished.

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Post Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:58 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
gro-Dhal
Lead Developer
05 Nov 2006

Location: A charter'd street

So it'll be something like

-Key figures, their agendas and locations
-The significance of each major Hlaalu settlement
-The end goal of the Hlaalu faction quest (PC being head of the house obviously, but what else?)
-The questline itself

Am I on the right track with this?

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Post Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:07 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Why
Lead Developer
04 Jul 2009

Location: Utrecht

I'd start with identifying the Hlaalu identity. Obviously Sload's put a lot of work into that already in threads I don't have time to link, but I think such things should form a key part of a Hlaalu master plan.
Post Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:39 am Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

edit: So basically we should take Sload's "Notes on House Hlaalu" and expand it. I was thinking something along these lines.

Table of Contents

- The character of the house
Already contained in Sload's document. Maybe expand further.


- Economic character
Should detail how the House makes money and how this is reflected in their cities and the types of mines and plantations they have. This was already discussed in the House Hlaalu thread in Internal.

- General history
Also in Sload's doc, maybe expand further.

- General structure of the House Hlaalu
Also in Sload's doc, maybe expand further.

- Key settlements
General descriptions of Narsis, Kragenmoor, Andothren and Balmora and how they fit together in the Hlaalu Trade Empire. Also include some descriptions of Tier III and IV Hlaalu settlements. What are they like?

- Important families
I believe Sload mentioned Hlaalu, Narsues and others. Let's describe some of the main Hlaalu families, give them a little bit of history and background. Where did the Dren come from? How did the Hlaalu lose their position to a new upstart female Head of the House? This kind of stuff.

- Key people
As gro-Dhal mentioned. This ties into questlines and such. This will also contain quite a few people: Orvas Dren, the Head of the House, Dram Bero, Crassius Curio, et cetera. This will also help establishing the personality archetypes in the house.

- Key parties
Talk about the differing political groups in the House: conspirators, Camonna Tong affiliates, Imperial-lovers, Plantation owners, and so on. What are the different parties in the house and how do they relate to one another?

- Key issues
Conflict with the Dres over Lake Andaram. Conflict with the Telvanni over Bug Musk exploitation rights. Conflict with Indoril over Almas Thirr. Conflict with Redoran over whatever. Establish the various issues the House is dealing with.

- Stories
Follows through from the key people and the key issues. Not every issue needs to get a questline. But this can talk about different stories we might want to tell.

- Sample Hlaalu opinions
As a reference: what do Hlaalu think about xyz?

- House Hierarchy
Also in Sload's doc.

Google Drive Doc for the House Hlaalu [Master Plan]
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ayr97rgRz_3k9py_0cz19KLNvhvWb47_zLohQ1EN0No/edit

///

Some questions to address.

- What is the character of the 4 main Hlaalu cities (Narsis, Kragenmoor, Andothren and Balmora).
- How do Hlaalu plantations differ from Indoril plantations?
- Will the player have a chance to influence the direction the House will take in the end? Will there be other courses besides fighting "the enemy"?
- How and why does the player end up in the Hlaalu secret elite? As this is an important plot twist in the story.
- How will House Hlaalu sabotage "the enemy"?
- How will the Hlaalu trump the Redoran, Telvanni, Indoril and Dres?
- How did the current head of the House reach her position?
- What are important Hlaalu families (Hlaalu, Hlaalo, Narsues, Dren, et cetera)?
- What are established Hlaalu family names (sort Hlaalu NPCs in the CS and take their last names).
- What are conventional Hlaalu opinions on recurring themes in Morrowind; what do they think of the 6th House, what do they think about the dissident priests, what is their attitude towards Nerevarines, what do they think about Redoran/Indoril/Dres/Telvanni).

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Post Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:56 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Bero
Reviewer
26 Sep 2007

Location: Slovakia

I would like a possibility of finishing hlaalu quest line with no or little killing (should be difficult though) using only personality, sneak and security or something like that.
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Post Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:54 am Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



Immpigs brings out I think basically what the document needs to cover, but I think the organization of it could be improved. I also think its important to recognize what elements all house descriptions need to have and what is unique to the hlaalu.

A four part structure seems correct (and the same goes for all houses):

1. General Character.

This would include a lot of what I included in my original PDF: what are we going for with the Hlaalu? What impression are all of the representations of the Hlaalu trying to create? This should contain both a very out-of-character abstract description of our goal and a very in-character history/characterization of House Hlaalu. It should also outline all of the unique structures of House Hlaalu that will need to be represented (the company, the tongs, the families).

2. Settlement Spaces.

The first part of this would be a general description of Hlaalu settlement spaces. Images of the architecture & how to use it properly, what unique buildings may need to be present, etc.

The second part would describe each Hlaalu Tier I & II settlement in general terms, mainly to decide which city has which element (this is the camonna tong town, this is the outlander town, et cetera; with more nuance of course).

3. NPCs.

The first part of this would be a general description of Hlaalu-associated characters. What are Kinsman/velothi/outlanders in Hlaalu cities more likely to be like than in other settlements? What attributes can be given to certain Hlaalu-associated characters and not those of other houses?

The second part would describe some major characters, but not necessarily all of them, as well as specific character-associations, such as subfactions and families.

4. Faction Quest Storyline.

This would describe in very broad terms what is going on in the faction quest. Conflicts that will form the driving action, the general goal of the quest, that sort of stuff. Not specific quests.

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Post Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:13 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

something like this

3. NPCs

Hlaalu Traders
Avaricious, smart and enterprising. They are shrewed merchants who drive a hard bargain. Profit is gained by attaining a monopoly or chasing away the competition, not by having the better quality goods.

Hlaalu Nobles
Hlaalu who have attained a certain degree of financial status may apply for a title of nobility. Material wealth is seen as proof of skill and dependability.

Councilmembers
Hlaalu who have such a degree of material wealth or political power that they have been able to claim a position on the House Council.

Hlaalu Velothi
Common Dunmer, religious, who happen to live in Hlaalu territory. They're a bit more pragmatical and individualistic than the Velothi found in other Houses.

Hlaalu Guards
These are a separate martial class of Hlaalu, in fact the majority of guards are members of a specific Hlaalu Tong. Hlaalu guards are perhaps the most *moral* Hlaalu one may find.

Hlaalu Caravaneers
Merchants traversing the Armun Ashlands, the Roth Roryn and the Thirr River Valley, bringing along shipments of Corkbulb & Comberry, or Imperial liquors & Khajiiti slaves.

Hlaalu Imperials
Entrepeneurial Imperials looking to find their fortune in the only House that will let them in. They tend to be optimistic, enthusiastic and a bit naïeve. They feel like they're on the winning team, but never seem to ascend to any real positions of responsibility.

Catcatchers
Subclass of slavehunters with indirect ties to House Hlaalu. Cunning and daring mer who catch Khajiit and sell them to the House.

Hlaalu Diplomats
Empire ass-kissers. They tend to be effete and falsely humble. Like to prance around in Imperial style clothing. Most are shrewd and may be involved in more shady dealings while on a diplomatic mission.

Hlaalu Enforcers
Raw muscle relied on for private matters. Many are of a foreign race, such as Orcs or Redguards. They also tend to be rather pragmatic rather than principaled. Most are in it for the money.

Plantation Owners
Hlaalu plantations tend to produce Comberry, Corkbulb Root & Whillow Anther. They hold stocks of Khajiiti slaves and some other foreigners. Very little humanesque slaves, though. Hlaalu plantations are run by individuals who may harbor rivalries towards one another. They tend to hold more old-fashioned attitudes as they are less dependent on Imperials for success.

Camonna Tong Thugs
Many are verbally hostile. Some may be outright physically hostile. Xenophobic and aggressive.

Camonna Tong General
Still afiliated with the Tong but less obnoxious. They may hint at their distaste in more subtle ways. They have more public roles and so are less confrontational unless they can get away with it.

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Post Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:37 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

Some comments:

immortal_pigs wrote:
Hlaalu Velothi
Common Dunmer, religious, who happen to live in Hlaalu territory. They're a bit more pragmatical and individualistic than the Velothi found in other Houses.


Something worth remembering about the Velothi is that they are not just common Dunmer. They are former Ashlanders who have adopted Great House culture. They could or could not be followers of the Temple, depending on whether anybody bothered converting them. I'd guess that most of them in mainland Hlaalu lands come from Roth Roryn, with a few from the Armun Ashlands, though the Armun Ashlands still have a significant Ashlander population.
I'm not sure whether there should be a separate planning thread for the Velothi or not, as they are a fairly distinct subculture.

immortal_pigs wrote:
Hlaalu Guards
These are a separate martial class of Hlaalu, in fact the majority of guards are members of a specific Hlaalu Tong. Hlaalu guards are perhaps the most *moral* Hlaalu one may find.


I was thinking something more along the lines of them being young nobles. Perhaps Hlaalu noblemen choose one son or daughter to be their 'successor' (sort of business partner who will inherit the 'business'), and the other children either marry into other 'businesses', try to establish their own 'business' or join the Buoyant Armigers/do something else.
Often those not chosen as successors would serve as guards for a while until they decide what to do with their lives.
I like the idea of most of them being members of a Hlaalu Tong.

immortal_pigs wrote:
Hlaalu Enforcers
Raw muscle relied on for private matters. Many are of a foreign race, such as Orcs or Redguards. They also tend to be rather pragmatic rather than principaled. Most are in it for the money.


Some pertinent Morrowind dialogue:

Savant wrote:
As mercenaries, House Hlaalu prefers Imperials and Redguards, Redoran prefers Nords and Altmer, and Telvanni prefer Bosmer and Bretons.


immortal_pigs wrote:
Plantation Owners
Hlaalu plantations tend to produce Comberry, Corkbulb Root & Whillow Anther. [...]


Glancing at Morrowind dialogue, those plants seem fine, though Corkbulb may have greater importance in Vvardenfell. What about Mournhold plants like Meadow Rye and Scrib Cabbage?
Post Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:08 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



While an in-game dialog uses "Velothi" to refer to reformed Ashlanders, I have been using "Velothi" to mean "Non-House Dunmer" & not necessarily with an implication about being Ashlanders. We should stop using the term "Velothi" in an ambiguous way and just say Non-House Dunmer, but there is no reason to assume there are former Ashlanders in most Hlaalu territories.
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alex25
Developer
21 Jan 2010

Location: Here and There

Gnomey wrote:
Some comments:

immortal_pigs wrote:
Hlaalu Velothi
Common Dunmer, religious, who happen to live in Hlaalu territory. They're a bit more pragmatical and individualistic than the Velothi found in other Houses.


Something worth remembering about the Velothi is that they are not just common Dunmer. They are former Ashlanders who have adopted Great House culture. They could or could not be followers of the Temple, depending on whether anybody bothered converting them. I'd guess that most of them in mainland Hlaalu lands come from Roth Roryn, with a few from the Armun Ashlands, though the Armun Ashlands still have a significant Ashlander population.
I'm not sure whether there should be a separate planning thread for the Velothi or not, as they are a fairly distinct subculture.


Considering how the Tribunal Temple is portrayed it would be odd to have the Velothi poor not worship the Tribunal. In fact they would probably be more devout than most Hlaalu since the Temple does (somewhat) care about the poor and is militant enough to make very serious efforts at converting them. By contrast the Hlaalu nobles and merchants would be more likely to join the Imperial Cult for profit. Most Velothi would probably be the distant descendants of the original Ashlanders with no personal connections to Ashlander culture.
Post Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:41 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

Sload wrote:
While an in-game dialog uses "Velothi" to refer to reformed Ashlanders, I have been using "Velothi" to mean "Non-House Dunmer" & not necessarily with an implication about being Ashlanders. We should stop using the term "Velothi" in an ambiguous way and just say Non-House Dunmer, but there is no reason to assume there are former Ashlanders in most Hlaalu territories.


Ah, thank you. I stumbled upon the (I think) only in-game line on the 'Velothi' sub-culture in Morrowind recently and was wondering whether I had been using the term incorrectly all this time. I do think we should probably stick to "Non-House Dunmer" to avoid confusion (like this). Especially as the term 'Velothi' is already also used to refer to early Chimer and Chimer culture.

As to former Ashlanders in Hlaalu territory, though, we do have Ashlander presence in the Armun Ashlands and Roth Roryn, and we also have this vanilla Ashlander line on House Hlaalu:

Ashlander wrote:
"House Hlaalu is a pack of lying thieves. They send their traders to try to trick us out of our treasure. And if they cannot trick us, they send soldiers to drive us away from our lands. They want to steal our land and put houses and towns there."


I think there is definitely potential for an underclass of former Ashlanders in Hlaalu land, though whether we actually want one is a different question.

Edit: just to help clarify this discussion, here is the only line I could find mentioning the 'Velothi' sub-culture in Morrowind:

Savant wrote:
The Velothi are people of Ashlander stock who have abandoned nomadic life and settled among the native Dunmer; the Velothi are despised by their Ashlander cousins as weak and soft, while the Dunmer look down upon the Velothi as an insignificant underclass.


Indeed, it is possible that they adopted Great House culture generations ago and have since integrated more thoroughly.
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Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



Here's a beginning to the doc as a pdf. Mostly just the old doc reformatted as its first part, but some additions to that.

Immpigs, your post about Hlaalu NPCs suffered from being unsystematic (again). Is that really all the Hlaalu character types? Are they really flat like that - no hierarchy of type so that they can be divided into sets of similar characters? I doubt that very much. Maybe before you write out a paragraph on each character, you should brainstorm the list of character types & then try to find common themes among them to develop a system of characterization. This is something everyone should take note of; you shouldn't just try to list everything and then describe it, there is an intermediate step of looking at your list and finding what underlies those immediate thoughts.

There is still a lot to write in this document. Most of it, in fact.

What are the different cities like? I think of Andothren as being run by the Camonna Tong; is Kragenmoor the city which is most friendly to outlanders? Does that differentiation work, or is it bad? & there is much more than that.



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Adanorcil
Developer Emeritus
22 Jan 2006



Quote:
is Kragenmoor the city which is most friendly to outlanders


I suppose that makes sense. Kragenmoor would the easiest for people from Cyrodiil to reach across the mountains, right? I forgot which cities line up with the mountain passes.


Narsis' identity gives me more trouble, really. Apart from the Imperial consulate, I can't picture a whole lot of identity for it that Kragenmoor doesn't claim. Maybe do something with it being the true ancestral home of the Hlaalu clan? Maybe make it the most traditional (by that I mean attention to families and ancestors, etc.) of all the Hlaalu settlements? Sounds pretty weak, all in all.
Post Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:46 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

Here are my thoughts on the cities:

Andothren - I like the idea of it being run by the Camonna Tong. Andothren is well situated for such a role, sitting on the Inner Sea and surrounded by various plantations and wilderness. While it would have Imperial presence, most Imperials would probably live in Old Ebonheart or any one of the other three or four nearby Imperial settlements.
What also bears repeating here is that Andothren might be the most 'religious' Hlaalu city, and that it is also fairly isolated as far as Hlaalu settlements go.
Smuggling and plantations play a major role here.

Balmora - Balmora was a backwater for a very long time, but with Vvardenfell opening for settlement it suddenly gained strategic importance. No faction is well-established in Balmora, as they had generally been ignoring it; it's very much a free-for-all for entrepreneurs, many of whom are trickling into the city. (The Camonna Tong, I'd say, was well-established in Vvardenfell in general, but not necessarily centered on Balmora).
Smuggling plays a major role here.

Kragenmoor - I'd agree that Kragenmoor is the city that is most open to outsiders. It could well be the Hlaalu city with the largest percentage of resident outlanders, such as border officials. It could even have a fairly Nibenese atmosphere, rather than a Hlaalu one.

Narsis - I'd say Narsis is where House Hlaalu, rather than its various satellite factions, is best established, but I also imagine it as a place with a lot of parallel insular communities. (I'd say ghettos, but without the many negative implications of the word). So there would be a part of the city where outlanders like to gather and form an insular community, (maybe even several parts for different races and cultures), another part of the city where the Camonna Tong has all of the power, etc.
I'd imagine that the open-minded atmosphere typical of Hlaalu settlements would be stretched very thin in Narsis. It has an ancient history in which various factions have been engaged in various power struggles for centuries. Once you dip below the friendly surface the city presents to outsiders, you get exposed to a very brutal unending war, waged in equal parts through intrigues and acts of violence.

I'm not sure how large of a role cross-border smuggling would play in Narsis and Kragenmoor.
Post Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:09 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

Andothren - I agree with the rest: religious, Camonna Tong, smuggling and plantations.

Balmora - I figured Balmora would be the city of ebony, which according to lore is apparantly mainly found on Vvardenfell. So Balmora would be like the main administrative hub dealing with the extraction of ebony and sending it down the river Odai towards the Inner Sea.

Kragenmoor - I suppose it makes sense to have it be open to outlanders, though it seems a bit cliché, why do we necessarily need an "open to outlanders" city? Basically all Hlaalu cities are already open to outlanders compared to the other Houses. I'd figure Kragenmoor is more centered on the slave trade of Khajiit. Also the trading/taxing of many Imperial commodities such as alcohols, clothing and armors.

Narsis - I don't yet know about Narsis. But I remember Sload mentioning House capitols ought to be symbolic of the faction as a whole. Also there was this idea that in Narsis, there are a lot of hidden in plain sight backdoor houses. So what the player sees is mostly a facade, hidden behind the first level exteriors you have the smoke-filled rooms where the real action happens.

If Andothren = sea trade & plantations, Kragenmoor = slaves and foreign commodities, Balmora = ebony, what's left for Narsis? I suppose plantations would still be a big thing in the area. I guess it would be a combination of river trade, plantations, slaves and perhaps some struggling.

Quote:
Immpigs, your post about Hlaalu NPCs suffered from being unsystematic (again). Is that really all the Hlaalu character types? Are they really flat like that - no hierarchy of type so that they can be divided into sets of similar characters? I doubt that very much. Maybe before you write out a paragraph on each character, you should brainstorm the list of character types & then try to find common themes among them to develop a system of characterization. This is something everyone should take note of; you shouldn't just try to list everything and then describe it, there is an intermediate step of looking at your list and finding what underlies those immediate thoughts.


I don't want to come across thick but I don't really understand what you mean by hierarchy. The reason I made it in a list format is because if I'm going to NPC an area, this is the kind of list that I would want. It sounds to me like you want more of a general description of types of NPCs and mine was a bit too specific? Also I wrote the list in mind that others could add to it, it wasn't meant as a definitive list.

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Post Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:08 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Aeven
Lead Developer
17 Aug 2008

Location: Groningen

Let's remember Narsis interiors have already been made, and quite well at that. Which isn't to say nothing could be changed, of course.
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Post Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:53 am Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
rot
Lead Developer
21 Oct 2012



Kragenmoor <= New Orleans

Narsis <= the imagined least fun parts of Louisiana, plus mafia and slavery
Post Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:00 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
immortal_pigs
Developer
15 May 2008

Location: Utrecht

short expansion of the Master Plan document pertaining to the Camonna Tong:

This Company does not have a unitary will. Conflict within House Hlaalu is over control of the Hlaalu Council Company. One of the most powerful and organized factions in House Hlaalu is a fraternal order called the Camonna Tong.
The Camonna Tong is a xenophobic crime syndicate with a strong presence along the Inner Sea, in the city of Andothren and on the island of Vvardenfell. Major enterprises of the Tong include smuggling, illegal slave trade and skooma production. Lower level thugs tend to be outright hostile towards outlanders, while higher level kingpins maintain a more subdued racism.

edit: also Corkbulb Root should be added to Hlaalu crops as many of the current plantations grow Corkbulb.

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Post Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:45 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
EJRS
Developer
14 Aug 2013



A few thoughts and expansions on "the big secret"

When I first read about "the big secret", my initial thoughts were along the lines of "oh, come on, that's about the cheapest, cheesiest...". But then I thought about it a bit more over the following weeks, and after a while it dawned on me that there was a core concept in all this that could actually be made to work, and even be quite interesting. The big problem for me was in the details.

I'll quote myself here, because I think this is an important point in this topic as well:
Quote:
"I think that a very important thing to point out here is the plurality of Dunmer culture. The only way I can interpret it with the original game as the source, there is no single Dunmer culture as such: each of the five houses would likely claim that their specific culture is the TRUE culture, even the houses Telvanni and Hlaalu. They would be vying for influence much in the way that real world cultures would. From a bigger perspective, they are all equally aspects of the Dunmer identity. The haughty isolationism of the Telvanni and the manipulations and shady dealings of house Hlaalu are just as much parts of the collective Dunmer character as the characters of the Redoran, Dres and Indoril are. I feel that Dunmer culture is often perceived with too much bias towards the more easily identified Redoran and Indoril identities, while the more abstract Hlaalu and Telvanni (not to mention the Dres, which there simply isn't sufficent information about to even bring them into this) are left out of the equation, completely denying the wonderful depth and complexity of the vanilla Morrowind stuff. Even the usual portrayal of the Temple faith, which sort of represents this collective and undivided identity, suffers from this bias, which I feel goes against the texts of the original game."


Each of the houses would be dealing with the armstice and the Imperial presence in a way that is in accordance with the values of that particular house. The big difference here is that the Hlaalu way of dealing with it is far less obvious than that of the others. The interesting thing here comes from that they will likely, out of all the houses, in the long run be the most effective, even though they are seen from outside as being allied with the Empire. The Hlaalu sphere is that of manipulation: of the market, the flow of resources, politics etc. They are the survivor house. They know how to adapt and how to exploit weaknesses, to do whatever is necessary, in order to safeguard their way of life. They are less tied down by rigid tradition and dogmatic loyalty than the Redoran, Indoril and Dres, and are enough of a unified house to actually be a power to be reckoned with, in contrast with the Telvanni. They are, so to speak, streetwise.

Having a small circle of conspirators, spiders in a greater web, secretly pulling the strings in a greater plan to broaden and secure the Hlaalu influence and weaken the Imperials is totally in character. What I like most about this is how it effectively portrays the more abstract side of the Hlaalu mindset. I feel, however, that this stands in conflict with "Hlaalu has little loyalty the present form of the Dunmer society" and "their loyalty above all is to the Velothi project, to the Dunmer people, with or without the houses and the Tribunal".
I'm very much objecting to the use of "the present form of the Dunmer society" (what exactly is the "present form of the Dunmer society", as per the above self-quote), and I would also protest to them having loyalty to the "Velothi project". Again, what exactly is that? I would say it makes all the sense it needs to make that the Hlaalu are simply loyal to the Hlaalu and the Hlaalu way of life. The unity of the Hlaalu culture is far more abstract than that of the Redoran, Idoril or Dres, but it is still there. They are in this for their own culture, and the Empire would be (at least by the Hlaalu conspirators) considered a threat to their way of life as well as to their future expansion. They are indeed "fervent nationalists", but only in the sense that each house is a nation in itself.


On the ingame execution of this

I would argue that the conspiracy should be centered around a very small group of powerful individuals, no more than ten, holding different positions throughout the Hlaalu hierarchy. Of course, this core circle would have an extensive network of agents independent of eachother in their pay, but these would not be clear on the real agenda, many to the point of thinking that the agenda for their separate actions is quite another. I dislike the idea of this being a conspiracy known to all the Hlaalu elite. Have too many characters be in on this secret and you're stretching the beleivability of it being a secret: the more people you invite into a secret, the less of a secret it is likely to remain. And actively working against the Empire is a pretty big secret that would have big consequences if it, say, reached that Imperial intelligence network we all know and love.

More importantly, though, I think it very much goes against the character of house Hlaalu. I see this as working perfectly within the already established Hlaalu character without implementing this whole collective hidded agenda out of nowhere, that really goes against the way of doing things that allowed the house to outlast and outlive in the first place. I think that by doing so, you would be doing the house a great injustice, and instead of expanding on the complexity of the Hlaalu, you would simplify them and create a pretty plump cartoon out of them.

The purpose of the main quest for each house should be to expand upon the unique identities of each house, their current position in the gameworld and the problems they are currently facing as a consequence of those two factors.


That said, I hope I'm not coming across as too harsh in my criticism here. I know that Sload has put a lot of thought and effort into this. But by proper discussion, we make this project greater than the sum of it's parts.
Post Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:58 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Adanorcil
Developer Emeritus
22 Jan 2006



To be honest, I don't really see any detail of your implementation proposal that disagrees with what Sload described.
Post Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:55 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



Indeed, EJRS. I don't actually understand your post.
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:44 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
EJRS
Developer
14 Aug 2013



Hmm, yes, I might have been a slight bit unsystematic in my last post. Here are the parts of the planning document I'm specifically reacting against:

Quote:
"They are the last defense of the Dunmer against their enemies, fervent
nationalists who only pretend to do the bidding of the Empire"

This implies the Hlaalu as having a strongly dogmatic streak. When did this happen? Were they like this before the armstice, and then implemented a house-wide change of character, which everyone, Empire included, accepted without question and became the manipulative house Hlaalu of the original game as a charade? Or were they originally manipulative and pragmatic, and then the heads of the house suddenly turned into idealistic defenders of the collective dunmer culture after the armstice? Or were they always ruled by a secret conspiracy, which kept the outward Hlaalu character as a smokescreen? Neither of these options make the least bit of sense to me.
And where did this very clear-cut us/them-dichotomy come from? What exactly is the collective dunmer culture?

And they aren't exactly "do[ing] the bidding of the empire" as they are portrayed in the original game.

Quote:
"Hlaalu has little loyalty the present form of the Dunmer society; social structures can be fleeting. But their loyalty above all is to the Velothi project, to the Dunmer people, with or without the houses and the Tribunal."

Without the houses and the Tribunal, how much is left of the Dunmer culture? Are they advocating a return to their cultural roots, Dres style? And what exactly is the Velothi project, and why are they loyal to it?
As mentioned in the previous post, I can definitely see them safeguarding the Hlaalu way of life and the Hlaalu culture, but in that case they would not be loyal to the Dunmer people as such. They would be loyal to House Hlaalu, and would be seeking to expand the Hlaalu influence in Morrowind.

Quote:

"Every member of the Hlaalu council, much of the House Peerage, and many of the officers of the Council Company are part of a secret conspiracy"

See my previous post, under the "On the ingame execution of this"-header.

I hope this somewhat clears up what I was pointing at originally. If not, might I ask you to be a bit more specific about what details I am being unclear about?
Post Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:24 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



First, the question of the number who are in on this conspiracy; I don't think we are at a stage at which we can determine that. I agree that it should not be too numerous, but the big point I was hoping to make was that it is not an internal conflict in the Hlaalu. The people who have power, whatever side they are on in the conflicts that do exist, agree on this.

Second, the question of the "Velothi project" is a good one that needs to be addressed more broadly; what made the Chimer "Chimer" is not really accessibly presented. The Tribunal and the Houses that exist are just the present stage of the project intiiated by Veloth in the Dawn. It can grow and change and take on a new form - the virtue of the Hlaalu is their ability to see this. Our project should foreshadow the coming end of the Empire and the destruction of Morrowind (though in a manner which cleaves more tightly to the themes and plot of TESIII than was depicted in later TES fiction); the Hlaalu are laying the groundwork for the Dunmer's survival through that hardship.

Third, understanding how this "conspiracy" came about relies on understanding the arc of Morrowind's backstory which is paralleled throughout the houses:
    1. Three Thousand Years of Peace: The Tribunal ruled for ~3000 years before the Armistice (counting the 1000 years of the Dragon Break). Over this time the houses coalesced into what seemed like a stable social order. This is the good part before the bad part that makes for the story.

    2. The Peace Falters: At the end of the Second Era, Dagoth Ur reappears and the Tribunal are forced to sign the Armistice. These approximately coterminous events mark the decline of Resdayn which has continued unabated since them. They are paralleled in the houses: Dral disappearing, the Redoran gathering at the aldruhn under the Skar, et cetera.

    3. The Apex of the Crisis: The game's present is the moment at which all of this is coming to a head. Dagoth Ur's blight mounts with full force and the Tribunal are powerless to stop him. The Empire, also is faltering (foreshadowing the events of TESIV). This is paralleled in the houses: Neril Sevuro is dead, for example.
The Hlaalu countervail against this trend. They were seen as the lowliest house before the Armistice, and now are seen as the house which betrayed their kin. In reality, they carry a secret virtue.

As Morrowind's interface with outlanders, the Hlaalu became skilled in just the skills that the conspiracy required: risk assessment, deceitfulness, foresight and diplomacy. They were keenest observers as Dagoth Ur returned to Red Mountain and Tiber Septim gathered his armies on the border, and they secretly manipulated events to bring about the Armistice which maintained Morrowind's exceptional autonomy. They continue to prepare for the future seeing that the Tribunal Temple is on its way out. Does the larger narrative necessity of this make sense to you?

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Post Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:33 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
EJRS
Developer
14 Aug 2013



As I've stated in both my previous entries, I very much agree that House Hlaalu would be the house to make the proper assessment of the current situation, and adapt to it. As I put it earlier, "the survivor house". This adaptability and near-opportunistic two-facedness is, in my mind, what made the house endure as an underdog, slowly gaining influence, with the Imperial annexation of Morrowind being the springboard which put them in the spotlight.

With the way of doing this proposed in the planning document, you are basically rewriting the core Hlaalu character in contradiction with what was presented in the original game, repainting them as the white knights of (an arguably ill defined, if even existent) Dunmerism. I think this is taking too much liberty with the source material. However, as I detailed in my two previous posts, I think that with a few changes to the foundational details this story could work without venturing outside of the character of the Hlaalu of the original game. I even think it would tell a far better, more nuanced and believable story, with less of the cheese. It could also similarly be made to "foreshadow the coming end of the Empire and the destruction of Morrowind", but in a more elegant manner as well as in a way more well-integrated with the world of the original game.

As for the "Velothi project", I think that would require a discussion of its own.
Post Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:08 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Sload
Developer Emeritus
06 Feb 2005



The only cheese is in your description of it - "white knight"?

Yes, it is inconsistent with the original depiction of the Hlaalu, which is to be simply duplicitous with no higher motive than rancid self interest. Giving them one does not make them heroes - the success of the Vel is not a necessarily noble thing - it gives them depth.

What is there to safeguard in "Hlaalu" without "Dunmer"? Without the concept of the Velothi project, the Hlaalu perseverance dissolves into the survivalism of rats scurrying from a sinking ship. How boring!

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Post Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:22 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
EJRS
Developer
14 Aug 2013



Sload wrote:
The only cheese is in your description of it - 'white knight'?


My usage of "white knight" was a characterization of what I feel that you would be turning them into by what is proposed in the planning document: idealistic secret crusaders, "the last defense of the Dunmer against their enemies, fervent nationalists" with "loyalty above all [...] to the Velothi project, to the Dunmer people". Also, pull the "secret conspiracy"-card, and you'll have to be very careful of where you tread next: you'll automatically be teetering on the brink of cheese territory.

Honestly, I think it's rather bad practice to contradict the source material. If the material you have to work with is too vague, deepen it within the parameters set up by the source, instead of latching on something that contradicts it on several levels. And with the Hlaalu, I think you have considerably more to go on than you have with the houses Redoran and Indoril: an underdog house of merchants, historically existing in the cracks between the other, considerably more powerful, socio-political entities of the province. Over the years, in order to survive, they've developed a culture where adaptability and manipulation, secret dealings and pragmatism is at the core. This within a culture, among whose original guiding deities we find "the demon prince of murder, sex, and secrets". They represent the mephalain streak of dunmerism, the sly, devious. Their lack of higher motive as a collective is a contributing factor to their depth.

During the events of TES3, we find them in a situation where an outside influence has destabilized the more powerful houses, while they themselves have been able to use the same influence to embolden their own standing. This sees culture in morrowind moving away from the "old way" of redoran and indoril, ushering in a paradigm shift. If they are rats on a ship, they are the soon-to-be rats running the show, not through betraying their character, but by merit of their character.

Also, please note that I didn't object to there being a higher motive, I objected to the way this was proposed to be implemented. I agree that for gameplay purposes, a higher motive within the questline of the house helps keep the interest of the player. I simply argue that I think that this is better off being a higher motive held by a group within the group, who through the established Hlaalu methods have others unknowingly forwarding their motives as part of a greater scheme. I think this blends in much better with the gameworld as most TES3-players know it, while what you are proposing in the planning document comes across as rather deus ex machina.

Sload wrote:
What is there to safeguard in 'Hlaalu' without 'Dunmer'? Without the concept of the Velothi project, the Hlaalu perseverance dissolves into the survivalism of rats scurrying from a sinking ship. How boring!


I feel that when you are looking for the core "dunmerism" from which everything else dunmer is sprung, you are looking at things a bit backwards. Look at it the other way around: Dunmerism encompasses everything that is in the character of the Great Houses as well as the ashlander tribes and the Temple. The Hlaalu culture is an equally valid expression of dunmerism as that of the other houses, a culture that encompasses a system of values and a way of life that definitely would constitute something tangible to safeguard.


Please, don't take offence. I think your writing and planning in other areas has been really good, I just think your plans for the Hlaalu have some severe flaws, which could easily be worked around by a few adjustments to the foundation of the story.
Post Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:09 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
rot
Lead Developer
21 Oct 2012



I think Hlaalu seeing themselves, their methods, and ideology as Morrowind's best hope (whether incidentally, or as partial or prime motive depending on individuals) is enough to make the whole thing consistent with their character.
Post Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:47 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Adanorcil
Developer Emeritus
22 Jan 2006



Quote:
If they are rats on a ship, they are the soon-to-be rats running the show, not through betraying their character, but by merit of their character.

They are increasingly running the show. Sload's only suggestion is that apart from purely monetary gain, their motivation is the keen understanding that if they don't run it, the Empire will.

Take a look at all the Imperial titles of power. For a conquering Empire, and one often styled after the Roman Empire, they're all suspiciously Dunmer. A Duke is created to distribute land deeds to the newly opened Vvardenfell; he is a Dunmer and a Hlaalu. Kingship is an institution entirely alien to Morrowind, yet after only a couple of royals, the Hlaalu already have their man on the throne, one who can play friends with the Empire to boot.

I think your primary objection is that you're seeing the Hlaalu cause as too rose-tinted. They, too, are capable of bigotry and even radicalism. It's not a coincidence that this, the most 'progressive of Houses, is also the one in which the grandmaster's brother allies himself with the devil to "drive out the mongrel dogs of the Empire".
Post Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:26 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
EJRS
Developer
14 Aug 2013



Adanorcil wrote:
I think your primary objection is that you're seeing the Hlaalu cause as too rose-tinted.


Almost, but not quite. In the shortest terms possible, I'm reacting against:

-The proposed collectivism

-The proposed idealism

The other points of your post are entirely aligned with, rather than opposed to, what I've previously been writing.
Post Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:42 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
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