House Hlaalu Brainstorming

Brainstorming, discussing, and drafting of the Master Plan happens here.

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Sload
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Post by Sload »

I don't know what collectivism or idealism is being proposed.
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Post by arvisrend »

[spoiler] Swiftoak: hey arvisrend:
|<-- theguarman has left irc.chatspike.net (Quit: http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client)
arvisrend: hi
Swiftoak: think you have time to do some stuff today?
Swiftoak: i'm currently writing a document in an attempt to propose a characterization of the thirr conflict
arvisrend: i probably don't have the time
Swiftoak: ah
Swiftoak: no worries
arvisrend: i'm making a dent in my math to-do list
Swiftoak: haha
Swiftoak: this is virtually impossible
Swiftoak: i feel like using the TRV as a crutch for setting up hlaalu cheapens shit
Swiftoak: it's like the easy-way-out
Swiftoak: like the thing that i'm running on is basically
Swiftoak: the theme is that the hlaalu are pissing all the other hosues off, while actually secretly doing them a favour
Swiftoak: but internally their flaw is each of the councillors has their own idea of how to achieve this
Swiftoak: and somehow it has to end with a looming feeling thaty you're royally fucked
Swiftoak: no matter what
Swiftoak: ascending to head of house and "beating" the game
Swiftoak: is a pyrrhic victory
Swiftoak: and the player should *feel* that
Swiftoak: vanilla didn't do this imo
Swiftoak: except maybe the MQ
arvisrend: hmm the morrowind house martell?
arvisrend: i'm not sure if we want every councillor of hlaalu to be particularly egaer to drive out the empire
arvisrend: there should be some who gain a lot from trading
arvisrend: let's try to work the other way round
arvisrend: what is the CT's role in this overthrow gonna be?
Swiftoak: yeah my thoughts exactly
Swiftoak: they're sorta the snake
Swiftoak: well mind you the CT is only one of the factions in Hlaalu
Swiftoak: vying for control over the company
Swiftoak: though i imagine they're the most prominent
Swiftoak: spearheaded by dren et-al. undermining authority...everywhere basically.
Swiftoak: operating under the protection and guise of house hlaalu and claiming they do "house business"
arvisrend: my issue with that is that the CT is too big
arvisrend: it's basically a band of rogues on the lowest level
arvisrend: hardly the people i'd trust to secretly undermine an empire
Swiftoak: hm
Swiftoak: perhaps so actually
arvisrend: if the CT is to help, there must be a good soundtight separation between the elite who knows what it is for, and the footsoldiers
Swiftoak: i always thought the council company was that false front
arvisrend: i'd suggest that the CT we've seen on vvardenfell is all footsoldiers
Swiftoak: hmm yeah
Swiftoak: except dren
Swiftoak: who is supposed to be on the council
arvisrend: but it makes more sense that the elite is on vvardenfell, as the place is less frequented by the empire
-->| Sload: (mangosteen@ChatSpike48mope.sd.cox.net) has joined #tamriel
arvisrend: ohai Sload: we're talking about the CT
Swiftoak: perhaps
Swiftoak: im trying to write a basic document about the thirr conflict
arvisrend: so
arvisrend: if you want to kick the empire out of morrowind
arvisrend: what would you do?
arvisrend: thoughts:
arvisrend: -- escalate the redoran-nord conflict
Sload: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixci-5EAkWA
arvisrend: -- make staying in morrowind uneconomic for the EEC and the IL
arvisrend: -- attack parts of the Empire's heartland (dangerous and probably out of scope for TR)
Swiftoak: i dont think that works
Swiftoak: such brazen acts are not really within their character
arvisrend: -- terrorism against random Imperials (dangerous)
arvisrend: so, uneconomic?
Swiftoak: kidnappings maybe but even that
arvisrend: what exactly is *keeping* the Empire in MW?
arvisrend: telvanni musk? ebony?
Swiftoak: resources i would imagine
arvisrend: which are what?
Swiftoak: ebony would be kidna obvious
arvisrend: glass?
Swiftoak: right
Swiftoak: maybe there are other reasons other than resources
arvisrend: once the EEC is bullied out of wanting to stay, how likely is the IL will retreat as well?
Swiftoak: hm
Swiftoak: i imagine that at the start of the game they're already in retreat
Swiftoak: the empire is being played
Swiftoak: im trying to come up with the setup
Swiftoak: and sorta expanding (a little) about the river's history
Swiftoak: pre-armistice
Swiftoak: i see a parallel between dres and hlaalu actually
Swiftoak: both were founded out of a desire to counter indoril power[/spoiler]


[...] [We were discussing why holding Morrowind is important to the Empire, and what a Hlaalu conspiracy might do to loosen that hold.]
[21:29] Swiftoak: prior to that the minor southern families were only slightly above serfdom
[21:30] Swiftoak: the details are fairly trivial for what we want to achieve though
[21:35] Sload: red mountain
[21:35] Sload: it is mythopoeically significant that the empire Actual hold Red Mountain
[21:41] Swiftoak: oooh
[21:41] Swiftoak: has it something to do with the towers?
[21:43] Sload: yes, prior to morrowind they needed to control the use of the heart of lorkhan
[21:45] Sload: also yall should watch the john cleese clip
[21:48] Swiftoak: ahhh
[22:05] arvisrend: do these things still matter to the part of the Empire that controls the legion?
[22:05] arvisrend: and what exactly is the mythopoeic significance?
[23:18] Sload: arvisrend, yes to some of them
[23:18] Sload: its probably a conflict, the emperor & the blades clearly understand that dagoth ur is an existential threat to tamriel
[23:19] Sload: and that their mythical/magical power comes from their control over all tamriel, especially adamantine + red mountain
[23:20] arvisrend: ok
[23:20] arvisrend: so when the player is done with dagoth, the empire has good reason to retire from MW?
[23:22] Sload: well in the original morrowind story, what the player does in TESIII directly leads to TESIV
[23:23] Sload: the magic of red mountain is fundamentally altered by what the player does in TESIII, but bethesda really dropped the ball after 2003 on what that meant
[23:24] Sload: the story that they were building during daggerfall->redguard->morrowind was that the events of tesii & tesiii precipitate the oblivion crisis and have all been manipulated by "the tharnatos"
[23:24] Sload: which is either jagar tharn or jagar tharn's successor or w/e
[23:24] Sload: the way tesiv wrapped up the arc of all the TES games up to it were going to be a lot neater
[23:25] Sload: *was going to be
[23:26] Sload: so tesii destroyed the numidium and the mantella and tesiii destroyed the heart of lorkhan
[23:26] Sload: which were the forces keeping tamriel stable, and once they were destroyed and the emperor was murdered - and his heirs were doppelgangers - the gates to oblivion were able to be opened
[23:26] Sload: so that's the plot that morrowind thought it was building to
[23:56] arvisrend: ok
[23:56] arvisrend: this actually explains things, which i have almost lost hope for
[23:57] arvisrend: but doesn't this imply that, as long as red mountain is standing, house hlaalu can't really hope to get the empire out of their land?
[00:04] Sload: i had imagined hlaalu as smarter than that
[00:05] Sload: they arent trying to get rid of the empire
[00:05] Sload: never never trying to get rid of the empire
[00:05] Sload: they saw the empire was inevitable, they brought about the armistice
[00:05] justastranger has disconnected: Ping timeout: 121 seconds
[00:05] Sload: they see now the empire's fall is inevitable, they are preparing for that
[00:06] Sload: they are perceptive and reactive & they only care about the essentials of the velothi project
[00:06] Sload: they're like cockroaches, they will survive anything and they will ensure the dunmer survive anything as well
[00:08] arvisrend: oh so
[00:08] arvisrend: they do have a feeling that red mountain is going down?
[00:09] arvisrend: [00:05] Sload: they saw the empire was inevitable, they brought about the armistice
[00:09] arvisrend: [00:05] Sload: they see now the empire's fall is inevitable, they are preparing for that
[00:09] arvisrend: [00:06] Sload: they are perceptive and reactive & they only care about the essentials of the velothi project
[00:09] arvisrend: i actually like this idea
[00:10] arvisrend: this gives them quite a unique identity in a world where everyone is trying to change something
[00:10] arvisrend: though the grand conspiracy doesn't play well with this
[00:10] Sload: right that's been what i've been trying to say
[00:10] Sload: no, that is the grand conspiracy
[00:10] arvisrend: to survive?
[00:10] Sload: hlaalu is the only house that changes
[00:10] Sload: which is public too
[00:11] Sload: they started out as the border traders and now they run the whole thing
[00:11] arvisrend: so basically the dunmer have split into various houses to lay their eggs in different baskets
[00:11] Sload: but secretly, they also "wag the dog," they've subtly set up the situation to make sure morrowind doesn't destroy itself
[00:12] arvisrend: house hlaalu is the one that bends, indoril breaks, redoran resists, telvanni ignores
[00:12] arvisrend: Sload: more precise on that?
[00:12] Sload: well we don't have the details, which is the problem
[00:12] Sload: but the armistice
[00:13] Sload: hlaalu somehow "betrayed morrowind," that's what everyone thinks
[00:13] Sload: which is why morrowind came to the table on the armistice
[00:14] arvisrend: ok i see
[00:14] Sload: hlaalu actually perceived that morrowind would be destroyed by tiber septim
[00:14] arvisrend: so when you say grand conspiracy, i shouldn't be envisioning a night of long knives in which the imperial population is driven out or killed
[00:14] Sload: and manipulated the situation to ensure the armistice
[00:14] Sload: no, nothing like that
[00:14] Sload: like the illuminati
[00:14] arvisrend: i should be envisioning something subtler in which control over the EEC is taken over by natives, laws are manipulated etc.
[00:15] arvisrend: well thing with the illuminati is, they haven't actually done anything as an organization, though some of them were very successful
[00:15] Sload: like do you know how in TESV, the morrowind survivors are all redoran?
[00:15] arvisrend: i actually don't but i've heard it's a dragonborn thing
[00:15] Sload: right
[00:15] arvisrend: also relating to redoran territories bordering skyrim
[00:16] Sload: its completely against what tesiii foreshadowed
[00:16] arvisrend: i'd expect the hlaalu to settle down in cyrodiil and the telvanni to stay
[00:16] Sload: so as a subtle point in the hlaalu plot
[00:16] Sload: it should be implied that the redoran who survive are actually hlaalu who became redoran to save morrowind
[00:16] Sload: does that make sense?
[00:17] Swiftoak: i can get behind that
[00:17] arvisrend: that's a nice twist
[00:17] arvisrend: fuck i should play dragonborn
[00:17] arvisrend: is it approaching a sale?
[00:18] arvisrend: thinking of this, house redoran look like the one house that's supposed to recruit the most
[00:18] arvisrend: and hlaalu looks like the one house that cares the least about people leaving
[00:18] arvisrend: so yeah
[00:19] Sload: the important thing is that everyone knows hlaalu are shady, manipulative liars
[00:19] Sload: but hlaalu has to have a twist, because its the house of shady, manipulative liars
[00:19] arvisrend: exactly
[00:19] Sload: so the twist is, they're shady, manipulative liars who are secretly motivated by a higher purpose
[00:20] Sload: the twirly moustaches are "good guys" (if you think dunmer culture surviving is good)
[00:22] Swiftoak: i never saw it as a night of long knives
[00:22] Swiftoak: it's totally out of their character
[00:22] Swiftoak: just like outright attacking the indoril/almas thirr
[00:27] arvisrend: "outright"
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Post by Swiftoak »

Here's my attempt at *finalising* a document for Hlaalu. It's still very rough around the edges (especially characters which are still pretty weak), but the stuff about settlement spaces and character tropes is hopefully a decent start. Alot of it is Sload stuff.

I say a final round of brainstorming is in order before this gets to a vote.
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Post by Gnomey »


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Post by Swiftoak »

Derp! Didn't know how that ended up in there, may have accidentally pasted in a question asked of us on Tumblr haha. Also the secret was always meant to be part of the doc, I just forgot to paste it in (look for it in Part III of the revised doc below).

As I said, alot of this was rushed, so thanks for pointing stuff out. For the most part, I can't argue with your points so I worked them into the document.

As for the semantic details on the characters, I purposely left them vague as I don't think they're super important until we get to section/quest-specific stuff.

Alright, sneaking in this revision before I go. See y'all in a week.
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Post by Yeti »

Great work on this, Swiftoak & Sload.

Slaves
This seems to imply that the transportation of slaves within the borders of Morrowind is illegal, which I do not think should be the case. Transport over Morrowind's borders would be illegal, as well as transport over Imperial waters, including the Inner Sea, but everything else within Morrowind should go, in my opinion. This is both because the Empire has limited authority over Morrowind itself, which still has its own government and laws, and also because almost every last slave owner would naturally ignore such a law because it is so inherently impractical, and as such the law would serve no purpose. (Sort of like a law against giving people funny looks. How would one practically go about enforcing such a law?)
I think the main reason slaves would be kept away from cities is simply to keep them out of sight and out of mind of western business partners, though also because Hlaalu might simply never have picked up the habit of employing household slaves, preferring more reliable Dunmer servants, who they could afford.
While I agree with your argument to a certain extent, how else do we explain the prevalence of slave pens in smuggler caves if moving slaves around the province is completely legal?

Settlements
Not really an important point, but I always imagined Narsis as an ancient and natural center of trade, sort of like Constantinople, which was thriving long before House Hlaalu began to emerge.

I'd actually have thought that that honour would belong to Tear. (I seem to be crediting House Dres with everything in this post...)
I agree on the first point, but I think you give too much credit to Tear in the second one. It has the slave trade going for it, but Narsis should outclass it when it comes to trade in general.

Characters

I kind of like the idea of Orvas Dren being an old fart. It would give him a personal connection to the independent Morrowind he wishes to see recreated. Living for more than 427 years isn't out of the question with elves, even without relying on necromancy. We can always change his [url=http://www.uesp.net/wiki/File:MW-npc-Orvas_Dren.jpg]in-game appearance[/url]; I always found the combination of head and hair given to him unfitting for his character.

It is of the up-most importance that we incorporate the player needing to strip in front of [url=http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:Crassius_Curio]Crassius Curio[/url] at some point during the Hlaalu questline. Perhaps have the steward of Tholer Andas send the player on an errand to Vivec that requires Curio's cooperation.
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Post by Gnomey »

Yeti wrote:While I agree with your argument to a certain extent, how else do we explain the prevalence of slave pens in smuggler caves if moving slaves around the province is completely legal?
Sload's explanation for that was the fact that slaves need to be smuggled across the Inner Sea as the sea was ruled to be Imperial waters. As such, one would mostly expect to see slaves in caves near the coast of the Inner Sea. There might also be a few around TRV for various reasons, (transporting slaves around Almas Thirr, etc.), but there should probably not be any slaves kept in smuggler pens further south, for the most part.
Yeti wrote:I agree on the first point, but I think you give too much credit to Tear in the second one. It has the slave trade going for it, but Narsis should outclass it when it comes to trade in general.
The way I quoted Swiftoak's document was unclear, there. The first paragraph was referring to Narsis, but the second referred to Kragenmar. It's sort of hard to say which of those three cities is the largest center of trade in Morrowind, actually; Narsis is a likely candidate, but some of its importance might come through industry and administration. It's not really an important point, though.
Yeti wrote:I kind of like the idea of Orvas Dren being an old fart. It would give him a personal connection to the independent Morrowind he wishes to see recreated. Living for more than 427 years isn't out of the question with elves, even without relying on necromancy. We can always change his [url=http://www.uesp.net/wiki/File:MW-npc-Orvas_Dren.jpg]in-game appearance[/url]; I always found the combination of head and hair given to him unfitting for his character.
Hm. I suppose this could be discussed; Orvas Dren is a major character after all, and worth discussing. I wouldn't really be against it, but it would rather change the dynamic and characters of Orvas and Vedam Dren, I'd think, and +400 years really is very old for a Dunmer. He'd have to be older than Barenziah, (who was three when the Armistice was signed, apparently), and I suspect Barenziah did use magic to get as old as she is; I think 200 years is generally cited as the upper natural age Dunmer can attain.
Yeti wrote:It is of the up-most importance that we incorporate the player needing to strip in front of [url=http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:Crassius_Curio]Crassius Curio[/url] at some point during the Hlaalu questline. Perhaps have the steward of Tholer Andas send the player on an errand to Vivec that requires Curio's cooperation.
I'm intrigued by your priorities. Do you mean in the way of replacing the Vanilla questline? Because if so I think a lot of the Caldera business could become a side or misc. questline. I'm all for that particular episode being incorporated into the main questline, though.

Some points I forgot to address about characters, by the way:

House Peers
Hlaalu Document wrote:1 in Balmora (Odai Manor): somehow tied to the Caldera intrigue.
Would the Odai manor be the Rethan manor? Because if so, Raynasa Rethan seems like the obvious candidate. I'm not sure she should be a House Peer, though. Ralen Hlaalo strikes me as a more likely candidate for Balmora.
Hlaalu Document wrote:2 in Andothren (1 outlander)
I was thinking that the outlander here could actually be the corrupt Balmora magistrate mentioned in vanilla dialogue but not featured in-game, Nolus Atrius, and could also be the Imperial who owns slaves, a character [url=http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/old_forum/viewtopic.php?t=24400]mentioned[/url] in Andothren planning. While he is technically the magistrate of Balmora, he has a nice place in Andothren he much prefers to grimy Vvardenfell.
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Post by Yeti »

Gnomey wrote:I'm intrigued by your priorities. Do you mean in the way of replacing the Vanilla questline? Because if so I think a lot of the Caldera business could become a side or misc. questline.
I just want Curio's eccentric weirdness to come across in our version of the story, since he is a pretty memorable character. I always see him brought up in Morrowind-related threads as a fan favorite.
I think 200 years is generally cited as the upper natural age Dunmer can attain.
Perhaps I'm off, but I've seen 1,000 cited as an extremely rare upper limit for how long an elf in The Elder Scrolls series can live through natural means alone. Then again, maybe I'm misremembering something. Interview with a Dunmer has this to say on the subject:
Well, I'm fifty, done my twenty years in the Service, and I'm in the prime of life. I expect another fifty good years, and then I'll be old, and slow, chatting with gaffers around the hearth for another twenty, thirty years. I've known mer still mind-sharp in their late hundreds, and heard of folk 200 and older. My family usually makes it to 120-130, providing we don't get sick or poked in the eye.
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Post by Gnomey »

Yeah, I edited the post just now to clarify. I agree that we should properly include Crassius Curio's character in the questline. He is certainly one of Morrowind's more memorable characters.
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Post by Yeti »

I've since edited my own post, as well.
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Post by Gnomey »

Have we inadvertently begun an editing battle? :P

1000 might be referring to Altmer, who have the longest lifespans. That being said, I really just brought up Dunmer lifespans for consideration; I don't think we really need to be too worried about that specific aspect in the end. Dozens of threads have been made on Imperial Library and TESF discussing the subject, but really what little information on the topic there is is incredibly vague, often contradictory and generally outdated. If we want the Dren brothers to be over 400, then they should by all means be over 400, and we can leave it to other people to figure out whether that works out and how.
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Post by Aeven »

First off, before I want to react to the contents of the document, I want to say it's a job well done! Few spelling errors or inconsistencies, but it's to be expected in such a large work. Also, lol for the tumblr paste ;)

I'll think of a few things I want to say about this. Yes to Crassius Curio being well-integrated into our new questline.
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Post by Osidian »

Great work on these documents.

In vanilla, Vedam Dren is the leader of the House, but he isn't even mentioned here. I can see him having little importance in the questline, but maybe he should be addressed.

What would his rank be? House peer? Would he be part of the conspiracy, like his brother? Him holding an important position within Imperial hierarchy (on paper, if not one with real power) would also be part of the secret plan.

There's also Barenziah and Helseth, but I imagine those would have little to no influence within the House itself.
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Post by Gnomey »

I don't know how I overlooked the fact that Vedam Dren is missing from the document. It's probably because he is part of the Imperial as well as Hlaalu hierarchy.

I think he should be a Council Elector, but going from the document that would give us 12 Council Electors in all, and I'm not sure if we want that many. My proposal:

Chancellor Falena Narusa (Narsis) - upstart

Council Elector Fethas Hlaalu (Narsis) - established family; make him the Duke of Narsis District?
Council Elector Ivul Hleryn (Ud Hleryn) - established family
Council Elector Llaasa Indarys (Kragenmar) - established family with Redoran branch. (House Indarys may have been a minor house in the Waters March which, much like the march itself, got partially incorporated into House Hlaalu).
Council Elector Atran Oran (Oran Plantation) - upstart family? (Along with Avon Oran in Suran).
Council Elector Tholer Andas (Andothren) - family status unimportant
Council Elector Vedam Dren (Ebonheart) - established family; Duke of Vvardenfell District
Council Elector Orvas Dren (Dren Plantation) - established family; boss of the Camonna Tong
Council Elector Dram Bero (Vivec) - family status unimportant
Council Elector %PCName/some outlander House Peer (Nav Andaram) - upstart; possibly gets the spot to fill a vacancy. (The prior Council Elector would get killed or otherwise removed during the Hlaalu and probably Indoril questline, and would probably just be stated to have been assassinated after the player reaches a certain point in the questline of any other House. Tholer Andas would be a likely candidate for removal).

Note that, while there is only one outlander Council Elector, there may have been more before. The seats just happen to be occupied mostly by established families at the time of Morrowind, in contrast to Falena Narusa being an upstart.

House Peers - I think House Peers should generally just be people with manors who are not Council Electors. And not everyone with a manor needs to be a House Peer. I don't think we need to fill any sort of quota.

Crassius Curio (Vivec) - outlander
Yngling Half-troll (Vivec) - outlander
Velanda Omani (Ascadian Coast) - family status unimportant; probably moved there with Orvas Dren. Not sure if she needs to be a House Peer.
Nevena Ules (Suran-ish) - established family?; possibly from the family that originally controlled Suran before Oran took the position. Note that this does not automatically signify resentment of the Oran family, though it could. Not sure if she needs to be a House Peer.
Raynasa Rethan (Odai Plateau) - established if fairly minor family; gets Rethan manor. (I think we might as well keep the scripts as intact as possible, so she would only become a House Peer in-game).
Ralen Hlaalo (Balmora) - established family and very dead
Nolus Atrius ('Balmora'/Andothren) - outlander
Eoli Freixaal (Kragenmar) - outlander
Avrar Narsuaes (Othreleth Woods) - established family; the Narsuaes family generally hold at least one seat on the council, but Avrar generally tries to keep out of intrigues. He would be another candidate for Duke of Narsis District, in which case he would be an ineffectual duke whose sole purpose is keeping himself and his family out of trouble, not caring whether he actually does his job well or not.
Edayn Sadras (Shipal-sharai?) - upstart
Tharsa Omayn (Narsis) - established family
Ivasu Raran (Narsis) - perhaps newly established family; a relative of Llananu Raran. I don't think Llananu herself needs to be a House Peer, she just needs to come from an important family.
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Post by Swiftoak »

I'm fine really with Gnomey's proposed changes. The Balmora situation remains kind of muddy. The role of "town magistrate" should probably be expanded. When I wrote the doc, I imagined the Odai Manor would actually be the residence for the Balmora person, but the whole situation seems kind of convoluted. We have Atrius, Hlaano (who is dead), and Rethan. We need to briefly expand these characters. Also maybe throw in someone minor for Ald Erfoud?

That said, alot of this is semantical and doesn't really have any weight on the main idea of Hlaalu, which is the subject of this proposal, moreso than particular details about characters and how they will play into the in-game narrative.

I'd like to hear a few more responses if possible before this gets put to a vote (I think doing this somewhat soon is important because it will affect current and near-future sectional work,)
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Post by Yeti »

I think having two Drens on the Council might be a bit much, especially if the founding Hlaalu family only has one seat.
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Post by Swiftoak »

Agree with Yeti, I seemed to have overlooked that. Vedam doesn't have to play a huge role. I'm content with Vedam sort of straying away from the core Hlaalu intrigue. He can be a member of the house and the duke of Vvardenfell (conflict of interest?), without being on the council.
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Post by Gnomey »

I would personally be for running with it and highlighting the struggle between the brothers. While they are related, they belong to very different factions, and probably got their council seats through the support of those factions, rather than just because of their names. (Though that certainly would have helped).

I wouldn't be against kicking Vedam Dren out of the council either, mind; I just think the alternative could present a more interesting scenario.

Edit: in the case of Balmora, I don't think it's a problem that there are more manors than we know what to do with. Not everyone with a manor needs to be on the council; they just need to be rich, or come from a rich family. Balmora actually makes things easier, as the nobles might be there to exploit Vvardenfell's resources, and as such have reasonable economic reasons for living there.
I don't really care where Atrius lives, but think a good case could be made for his living on the mainland, and think that there is no real need for us to mess with Vvardenfell in this instance as a result.
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Post by klep »

Concerning faction relationships, or NPC reactions towards members of other factions.

In [url=http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/old_forum/viewtopic.php?p=326454#326454]another thread[/url] I started drawing a table to determine faction relationships with other factions, which has changed a few times since the first sketch. The table shows NPC reactions towards members of different factions. The table should be read by finding the source faction on the left hand column, and matching it with a faction from the top row. See the table in the spoiler below.
Gnomey wrote: First of all, in those graphs, I think the vertical columns are really the most important. They show how the opinions of members of factions change upon the player joining a certain faction.
Always remember that faction relations are inherently player-centric. The player will probably never join Her Hands, for instance, so figuring out what other factions would think of Her Hands would mostly be a waste of time. Figuring out what Her Hands thinks (if anything) of other factions is, however, very important.
Truth be told, I think it might be more reasonable to just figure out the vertical columns in the individual faction threads. This would split the task into bite-sized portions, allowing for proper discussion, and it would be rather easy to then go through the faction threads and gather the results.
Per Gnomey’s advice I am now splitting this up through the faction threads. Please discuss in this thread the reactions of other factions towards Great House Hlaalu to keep things organised.
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]

The Hlaalu part seems quite solid to me. Their secret being a secret doesn't leave much space for unexpected reactions towards other factions. This is open for discussion.
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Post by Theminimanx »

I've been mulling over the Hlaalu plans lately, and most of the document seems solid. I like the way the Secret gives House Hlaalu some depth beyond mere selfishness, but I do have some things that worry me. Specifically:

1. I'm very concerned that players will be unable to believe the idea of an altruistic Hlaalu conspiracy. Pulling the 'It was a conspiracy all along!' card can feel incredibly cheesy, and this problem only becomes worse the more powerful the conspiracy is. For a House as powerful as Hlaalu, I'm very worried the conspiracy will pull the player right out of the story. This is only made worse by the fact that the conspiracy's motives can feel like they come out of nowhere. Most players have a mental image of Hlaalu as being incredibly selfish, so having them suddenly work for the good of all of Morrowind is incredibly risky.
2. House Hlaalu as it currently exists feels too powerful. Not only is it winning on the political field, it also has even deeper plans that are also progressing smoothly. I've heard people say that this power imbalance can be used to explore the differences between the houses, and while that's true, I think exploring the differences in kind would be much more interesting. More importantly, the sure path to victory that Hlaalu is currently on is boring. You need some kind of opposition in other to make a journey interesting, and Hlaalu is not going to find it in any of the major factions, who are all on the decline.
3. The Secret in its current form, while an interesting idea, is just a narrative hook, not a plot. Nothing about the Secret provides the kind of conflict you could build a story around. At best, it allows you to make some quests revolving around secretly sabotaging the Empire's position in Morrowind. However, because the sabotage has to be kept secret until the fall of the Empire, you can't build a narrative arc around it. The big payoff for all these events would be after the game is over, which simply does not work as a satisfying conclusion.

To address these issues, I propose we make a small change to the Secret. Essentially, the very nature of how House Hlaalu works is causing the conspiracy to fail.
House Hlaalu is stated to be adaptable and very open to new ideas. This allowed them to thrive in a post-Armistice Morrowind, while the more traditional Houses floundered. Furthermore, your place in House Hlaalu is determined by your skill instead of your birth. As a result, those with good ideas and the capability to execute them end up in places of great power, and therefore influence. Their ideas of how Hlaalu should be run then spread through the rest of the House. While this is great for the prosperity of Hlaalu, it does mean that Hlaalu's goals, values and ideals are far more malleable than those of other houses.
Additionally, because the conspiracy has to be secret, Hlaalu has to appear as a House filled with people looking out for their own self-interest with no qualms about working with the Empire. Hlaalu therefore attracts these kinds of people, while the people who would support the conspiracy join other Houses. Hlaalu's face grows to fit their selfish, Empire-friendly mask.
Together, these problems mean that the only members of the conspiracy are those councilors that were already part of House Hlaalu before the Armistice, when Hlaalu was still relatively small. Now, they're unable to recruit new conspirators and find their support base weakening and weakening. Eventually, the conspiracy will fall apart entirely.

What I hope this proposal will accomplish:
1. Make the conspiracy a lot easier to believe by making it a lot weaker, and therefore more plausible. The issue of altruistic Hlaalu would also be addressed by making it clear that it's the idea of individual people, not House policy.
2. Give Hlaalu a tougher road to victory, while keeping their strong position over the other Houses. Its greatest strength is now also keeping it from accomplishing its ultimate goals.
3. Ensure the Hlaalu story has an interesting conclusion. The intra-house conflict creates a plot for the final stages of the Hlaalu questline, when they've already won at inter-house politics.

Any feedback is of course welcome. Like it? Dislike it for certain reasons? Let me know!
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Post by Anonytroll »

Three additional things I would like to add to Theminimanx' post (which I tend to agree with):

1) Such a conspiracy could in no small part be made up of Boethiah cultists, even outside of House Hlaalu proper. This seems like something the prince of plots would support.
2) Since everything in Morrowind is religious, a small problem could be the conspirators who have fallen in with Mehrunes Dagon in his role as the prince of Anarchy. They could be a secondary foil, aside from the thugs of the Camonna Tong.
3) The Secret seems to point out Hlaalu Helseth as a convenient tool of the house. This doesn't do him justice. He's essentially a wild card who wants to create his own western-style kingdom and depower all houses. It could be the issue which finally breaks the conspiracy into two, as some of them are idealistic enough to care more for the Dunmer people as a whole (even if they are united under a almost-an-outlander king) and the people who are in it so that Hlaalu comes out on top.
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Post by Gnomey »

First of all, thanks for writing this post; you lay the issues you have with House Hlaalu out well, as well as your solution, which makes it a lot easier to start a discussion on the matter. Perhaps as a result my reply got rather long, so apologies in advance.

---

I personally think your solution is valid, but makes for a less interesting story; I feel as though it is marginalizing the role of the secret, and as such much of the potential the secret has in setting House Hlaalu apart from the other Houses and -- in fact -- major factions of Morrowind and making it interesting. It just makes it another large conspiracy plot encapsulated in a faction storyline.
Rather than limiting the secret, I'd actually expand it; I think perhaps the terms 'secret' and 'conspiracy' carry a connotation with them that is less than ideal, and that we need to try to distance ourselves from the clichés associated with the terms rather than the idea itself.

All houses have a 'conspiracy' to some extent; or in other words a 'mission'.
House Redoran's is to protect Morrowind, but that mission is arguably undermined by the very society the Redoran are supposed to protect, as Morrowind was more or less a utopia (mostly) free of wars which, when a suitable threat did emerge, submitted to it rather than resisting.
House Indoril's mission is naturally to govern Morrowind. Their failure is perhaps in failing to look beyond Morrowind and at the 'big picture'; their worldview is too insular, and when the outside came in they could not cope with it. It was beyond their perception.
House Telvanni's mission is murkier. It may have one. The Temple almost certainly projects one on it. In short, though, the Telvanni are the dissenters and heretics, who always form an important part of any society. They look beyond the bounds of society and common decency and constantly try out new and strange ideas. Consequently, if they do go the way of the dodo, I favour the idea that they do so at their own hands; basically retreating so far into their minds that they cease to -- certainly as a House, and likely as individuals -- function.
House Dres' is very complex and layered. At its core, it is likely much the same mission that lured the Chimer out of Altmora in the first place, and Nerevar's and then the Tribunal's missions were superimposed on that. More directly, though, it is to give Morrowind the means to rise above all others, and that at any cost. In many ways House Dres made the society Indoril was to govern, Redoran to protect and Telvanni to shun viable. It nurtures Morrowind much like a parent.
While those missions may all exist within Morrowind's society and canon, (I finally found [url=http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/old_forum/viewtopic.php?t=24320]this[/url] again, which illustrates that point), they're also important to give factions a sense of direction and identity. In an earlier Skype meeting we basically discussed the 'missions' of the Imperial guilds; the Thieves' Guild to establish itself in Morrowind against local resistance, the Fighters' Guild both to exercise its ideals and find favour among the locals -- very much cross-purposes, at least most of the time -- and the Mages' Guild to extend its power and influence. All of those missions at the same time presenting different facets of the Empire and the West and how they interact with Morrowind.
The important thing to note is that those missions are not necessarily one and the same with the faction questline, or with the player's mission, or with the player's questgiver's mission. They can, and often should, exist in the background.

So returning to House Hlaalu, its mission is to ensure a future for Morrowind. This is not the conspiracy of a handful of councilors; if the House was not expressly created for the purpose, it was at least built up around it. Planning ahead is the whole point of that mission, and in a way the rising power of the House shows how desperate a situation Morrowind is in; its present is disintegrating, leading to greater demands for a future.
And Hlaalu fails to deliver, though that is indeed not their story in Morrowind.

Secrecy -- or more precisely scheming -- is simply the means House Hlaalu uses to reach its end, no differently than House Redoran uses force of arms and Indoril uses rule of law. Remember that scheming is what Hlaalu do; it is their identity. A grand conspiracy is not out of character for them; it's all they do. In fact, it's not out of character of Dunmer in general; they are all descended from followers of Boethiah, Mephala and Azura, and worship gods who -- at least to a degree -- fit the mold of those Daedra.

As far as altruism is concerned, Almalexia in Tribunal was about as altruistic as I think Hlaalu needs to be. She also had a utopic vision for Morrowind. Certainly she had an increasingly important place in that vision, effectively becoming the center of it instead of the Dunmer people she originally wished to advance, but advancement of the Dunmer was still always an integral part of her vision. The altruism of the Tribunal is hinted at in-game, though often overlooked, and more heavily in texts, but that doesn't stop people from hating them, nor should the altruism of House Hlaalu stop people from hating it. Even with their high goals, one could make a very good argument that they're all vile people anyway, or at least that they sacrificed far more in pursuit of their goal than they ever should have.
Remember that Hlaalu's 'greater good' does not necessarily -- or rather, I think should necessarily not -- correspond with what we might consider the 'greater good'. The Camonna Tong are not a necessary evil that will be cast aside when the utopia is restored. They are, instead, the less subtle expression of Hlaalu's goals. They represent Hlaalu altruism at its most apparent. The idea of the Hlaalu secret brought the House more in-line with the Camonna Tong than it was before.

As to power imbalance, at the time of Morrowind, one thing that's worth keeping in mind is that when Indoril is described as 'failing' or Hlaalu as 'emerging', these are relative processes. Hlaalu started at, effectively, the very bottom, and has only recently come up to -- and probably surpassed -- House Indoril, which more or less started at the very top and, while unable to check its fall, is still at a really high place in that fall at the start of the game.
Remember that House Indoril will probably win the House War against House Hlaalu in the Indoril questline, so it's still not behind by much. It remains a force to be reckoned with. House Dres, on the other hand, is probably either about as, if not more, powerful than House Hlaalu. Sure, it's living on borrowed time, but unlike Indoril and Redoran it isn't weakened, at least yet. In fact, our questlines will probably precisely show the point at which time catches up with House Dres.
This ties into the opposition: as far as the actual Hlaalu questline is concerned, House Dres is probably that. In the Indoril questline, it may even be House Indoril. While House Hlaalu's prospects are good, it's still hardly able to tackle all the other Houses by itself. Hlaalu relies heavily on avoiding open conflict, because it still would not be able to assure a victory, and that's not how it does things anyway.
More to the point, House Dres, who at the start of the game probably look like the surest candidate to ally with House Hlaalu, if only by method of elimination, end up not only becoming enemies, but probably will be the ones to take up arms and put a wrench in House Hlaalu's carefully laid out plans. And the only reason they become involved at all is because House Hlaalu ends up biting off more than it can chew and -- whether intentionally or not -- alienating their only potential ally through their aggressive stronghold placement.

So the conflict of the questline will probably be a very hopeful one; the player starts out scheming in Andothren, portraying some of the really selfish sides of Hlaalu, and then moves to Narsis and is, at some point, or quite possibly gradually, acquainted with the true mission of House Hlaalu. Whether that happens sooner or later, the player will do missions which work towards that goal, and everything will be going nice and smoothly, and the player gets to the point where he's tasked with having a stronghold built.
Then all of a sudden the player's stronghold becomes the focus of a major and unexpected development in the plotline; House Hlaalu's schemes, as well as the House itself, are put directly in jeopardy. Due to the long-developing conflicts with House Redoran and House Indoril, having to fight a war against at least three of the other Houses -- if not indeed all of them -- at the same time will probably look like a likelihood.
However, through great difficulties and against all odds the player is able to save House Hlaalu in the eleventh hour. (Forgive the flurry of clichés). Not by directly beating the other Houses; that would be beyond both Hlaalu's means and modus operandi. I'd assume Hlaalu manages to strike a deal with House Dres bringing about a ceasefire and more-or-less allying the two most powerful Houses at the time, and that the other Houses would back down accordingly.
At the end of the questline -- we might want to and be able to insert a sign of the impending doom in the House questline, but I'm not sure if we should -- House Hlaalu has established itself as the preeminent House, and the path to the finish line looks clear. The player has saved not only House Hlaalu, but also Morrowind.
Which is more-or-less the impression the player will probably have at the end of every House questline, not to mention the mainquest, and it won't be any truer here than it will be elsewhere.

---

Having said all of the above, though, I'm not ruling out your suggestion either. To address some points specifically:
Theminimanx wrote:Essentially, the very nature of how House Hlaalu works is causing the conspiracy to fail.
I certainly think this should be true for Hlaalu, though I think it could be applied just as well to any House, or Morrowind as a whole.
Theminimanx wrote:House Hlaalu is stated to be adaptable and very open to new ideas. This allowed them to thrive in a post-Armistice Morrowind, while the more traditional Houses floundered.
I take issue with the wording here; what sets Hlaalu apart -- and only to a degree -- is being open to foreign ideas. All Houses aside from -- perhaps -- Dres are open to new ideas.
Theminimanx wrote:Furthermore, your place in House Hlaalu is determined by your skill instead of your birth.
To a point, but birth is still a factor. Names like Hlaalu and Dren don't continually pop up among the councillors because a disproportionate number of people bearing those names happen to be really talented. House Hlaalu is not a straight-up meritocracy, though it -- as well as the other Houses and arguably most organizations -- has elements of meritocracy.
Theminimanx wrote:While this is great for the prosperity of Hlaalu, it does mean that Hlaalu's goals, values and ideals are far more malleable than those of other houses.
For the above reasons, I don't think the difference is as large as you make it out to be, though the difference is certainly there; the other Houses are not so static, and Hlaalu is not so malleable. Again, Dres being a probably exception, and to a degree Telvanni in a very different way. (Whoever has power can gain a high position in House Telvanni, but actually leading the House in any direction is nigh-on impossible. Hence Aryon).
Theminimanx wrote:Additionally, because the conspiracy has to be secret, Hlaalu has to appear as a House filled with people looking out for their own self-interest with no qualms about working with the Empire. Hlaalu therefore attracts these kinds of people, while the people who would support the conspiracy join other Houses. Hlaalu's face grows to fit their selfish, Empire-friendly mask.
This idea I largely agree with; it should sort of be the point of the whole Andothren questline as far as I'm concerned. However, only to a point; House membership is still largely dictated by birthplace and family, so the opportunists out to gain power would not be as much of a majority as you suggest. What I disagree with is that this would get much in the way of the conspiracy, though; for the most part, I'd think the councillors are aware of the issue and would be able to plan around it, just like the Telvanni plan around the fact that the rogue Telvanni they send off to settle Vvardenfell are often volatile in a variety of ways. The trick is to keep such individuals pointed squarely at the enemy.
Also, I doubt any of Hlaalu's founding members are still alive.

---

In reply to Anonytroll, I don't think Daedra should directly factor in to the Hlaalu questline. They influence Dunmeri culture, certainly, but have long stopped playing an active part in it outside of fringe cases like the whole of House Dres, the Morag Tong and Azura's spiteful plotting which will bring about the ruin of Tribunal civilization.
As far as Helseth is concerned, I agree that he shouldn't come off as a tool of the House. That being said, I'm not sure whether he should be a co-conspirator, an antagonist (which I find likely), or, as you say, a wild card.
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Post by Theminimanx »

Thanks a lot for responding! It gave me a lot to think about. As for my newly revised thoughts on the situation:

Mission: I'm still not a huge fan of the idea of every single House having some sort of mission for Morrowind and its people. This could just be a matter of the details of the missions not being very fleshed out yet ('a future' is so vague that it's meaningless), but I always felt that the primary mission of most factions was acquiring more power for its own sake. Maybe I'm just cynical like that.
However, if the other members of TR think this is the way the Great Houses should be developed, who am I to say no? [hint]This means I'd appreciate it if other members make their thoughts known[/hint]

Secrecy: While you're absolutely right that secrecy is the Hlaalu way, the most important thing here isn't convincing me that Hlaalu would have such a conspiracy, but convincing the player. Still, you've addressed the biggest problem I had with it (the conspiracy being too powerful) in a later section, so I have no real complaints anymore.

Altruism: Okay, the comparison to Almalexia does alleviate most of my concerns, and presenting it in such a way does make it fit into the Hlaalu character better. I don't quite understand the paragraph about the Camonna Tong though.

Power Imbalance: From the discussions I've seen over the time I've been here, I got the impression that Indoril is already really weak, with the already dominant Hlaalu just delivering the final blow. But if Indoril is supposed to still be really strong, I can see them posing a decent challenge, especially if Redoran and Dres also get involved.

All that praise out of the way, one of my biggest issues is still present. The Hlaalu Secret does not in any way create a plot. All phases of the plot you just described -the House War with Indoril, the creation of Nav Andaram, the conflict with Dres- could just as easily work as a result of Hlaalu greed. Nothing about that questline can only happen because of the secret, and because of that, the Secret feels like something added to make Hlaalu more special/awesome/[insert other Mary Sue term here], rather than as a way to create new and interesting stories. On the other hand, a schism within Hlaalu over the direction it should take can only happen if there are differing opinions, and the Secret would provide exactly that.
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Post by alex25 »

Theminimanx wrote:Thanks a lot for responding! It gave me a lot to think about. As for my newly revised thoughts on the situation:

Mission: I'm still not a huge fan of the idea of every single House having some sort of mission for Morrowind and its people. This could just be a matter of the details of the missions not being very fleshed out yet ('a future' is so vague that it's meaningless), but I always felt that the primary mission of most factions was acquiring more power for its own sake. Maybe I'm just cynical like that.
However, if the other members of TR think this is the way the Great Houses should be developed, who am I to say no? [hint]This means I'd appreciate it if other members make their thoughts known[/hint]
My two cents: mission is both too strong and too weak a word for what's happening within Great Houses. Each Great House should have (and actually has in case of the canon Great Houses) a specific character, paradigm, set of values and long term objectives which gets called mission for brevity.

There has to be more to the Great Houses than just power for its own sake. Vast institutions that have lasted for about two millennia simply must have an ideological/cultural backbone or else they'd fall apart. This obviously doesn't need to apply to all the individual house members.

I don't think there should be a 'secret conspiracy' in a Illuminati/Masonry/Ebil Cult style- certainly not something with solemn ceremonies, established ranks or other such nonsense.

Rather I envision the 'conspiracy' as being be an informal or semiformal understanding between several very powerful individuals and families to do collaborate in order to further House Hlaalu's 'mission'. The mission itself is not necessarily a secret - House Hlaalu hasn't been building up to a Night of the Long Knives (as a whole- Orvas Dren is quite clearly a 'rogue' element even for the Hlaalu) but to a long term project to protect what they consider at the important bits of Velothi culture and values and ensure Dunmer prosperity- with Hlaalu in the leading position.

Basically Hlaalu is aiming towards a cultural and economical victory over Tamriel (or at least large parts of it). Sufficiently dunmerised outlanders should specifically be able to occupy top spots in the new Hlaalu utopia.
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Post by Gnomey »

Once again I'm late to reply to this, but alex25 has pretty much hit the nail on the head. To add to what he has already written:

The 'Hlaalu secret' does not need to provide a plot; I don't think that was ever its primary purpose. Its purpose is mainly to provide House Hlaalu with more of an identity than being greedy, unscrupulous merchants.

As for the paragraph on the Camonna Tong, basically the Hlaalu involved in the 'secret' are, more or less, working for what they consider to be the greater good of the Dunmer. However, their concept of 'good' is not necessarily the same as our own. Dunmer culture having been nurtured by Daedra from the beginning, it's a very twisted thing.
The ideal that the Hlaalu are working towards could potentially be what the Camonnna Tong are: doing business with outlanders where necessary, but not suffering their presence within Morrowind; monopolizing trade and killing the competition; possessing slaves and treating them like dirt. Their goal in saving Morrowind may be something other Dunmer would find unsavoury, let alone outlanders.
Which is the one part of alex25's post I would not readily agree with: it's quite possible the Hlaalu are only allowing outlander membership for the time being, and are planning to purge them when they have outlived their usefulness, though that's only one possibility.

Edit: I almost forgot. A while ago there was a bit of discussion on the Seyda Neen lighthouse [url=http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/old_forum/viewtopic.php?t=24302&start=40]here[/url]. Swiftoak recently brought my attention to a [url=http://www.reddit.com/r/teslore/comments/2zfvm2/are_there_any_details_or_speculations_about_the/]reddit thread[/url] in which Michael Kirkbride elaborates on the original intention behind the Seyda Neen Lighthouse:
Michael Kirkbride wrote:Early concept art shows House Hlaalu with gems in their foreheads. These gems were purportedly part of the glass in the construction of the Seyda Neen.

The Seyda Neen was the flagship of a fleet that Hlaalu sent to sea at the behest of a Saint, "to see the face of Veloth". The mariners on this voyage would send back for the rest of their House when they had found whatever this "face" was.

But an unnatural storm destroyed the fleet, the jetsam and flotsam coming back to the shore. The Hlaalu used this to construct the Lighthouse, so that any of their countrymer that may have survived the storm could find their way back. House nobles embedded their flagship's glass in their foreheads, because Morrowind.
I'm not sure whether we can use any part or all of the idea, but I certainly think it's worth considering. As far as desiring "to see the face of Veloth" is concerned, it is possible House Hlaalu did some soul-searching in its formative years to try and figure out what course of action they could take that would best serve Morrowind, and -- as the prophet of the exodus -- going "to see the face of Veloth" might be viewed as akin to observing the face of Morrowind.
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Post by Ironed Maidens »

How come MK can reply to subreddit threads but can't give any 2 cents on here...
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Post by alex25 »

Gnomey wrote:Once again I'm late to reply to this, but alex25 has pretty much hit the nail on the head. To add to what he has already written:

The 'Hlaalu secret' does not need to provide a plot; I don't think that was ever its primary purpose. Its purpose is mainly to provide House Hlaalu with more of an identity than being greedy, unscrupulous merchants.

As for the paragraph on the Camonna Tong, basically the Hlaalu involved in the 'secret' are, more or less, working for what they consider to be the greater good of the Dunmer. However, their concept of 'good' is not necessarily the same as our own. Dunmer culture having been nurtured by Daedra from the beginning, it's a very twisted thing.
The ideal that the Hlaalu are working towards could potentially be what the Camonnna Tong are: doing business with outlanders where necessary, but not suffering their presence within Morrowind; monopolizing trade and killing the competition; possessing slaves and treating them like dirt. Their goal in saving Morrowind may be something other Dunmer would find unsavoury, let alone outlanders.
Which is the one part of alex25's post I would not readily agree with: it's quite possible the Hlaalu are only allowing outlander membership for the time being, and are planning to purge them when they have outlived their usefulness, though that's only one possibility.
I wouldn't make House Hlaalu too influenced by the Camonna Tong. The CT and their boss Orvas were happy to be allies with Dagoth Ur- aka the devil (and referred to as such IC).

It seems unlikely that the upper Hlaalu echelons have the fanaticism and the desperation of the Camonna Tong. Leaving aside the difficulty of getting people raised with Tribunal beliefs to go Dagoth dangerous allies would be far too risky for the cautious Hlaalu especially since the long term plan is going wonderfully. Basically House Hlaalu should be the happiest with the status quo.
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Post by Theminimanx »

Gnomey wrote:Its purpose is mainly to provide House Hlaalu with more of an identity than being greedy, unscrupulous merchants.
If being greedy and unscrupulous is not permissible, does that mean we need to make similar changes to Telvanni? Because that would be ridiculous.

If you want to give Hlaalu more of an identity, that's great. But expand on what's already there, don't invent stuff out of whole cloth. Saying that the Hlaalu are unified by a single goal is a massive change from the selfish people they were in Vanilla.

As an example of expanding on what was there in Vanilla: Hlaalu's greed means they're quick to capitalize on Indoril's weakness, allowing for rapid expansion post-Armistice. But on the other hand, when there's not a lot of room to expand, that greed will likely manifest in the form infighting. Boom, you now have a concept for Narsis.

I'm not saying that my idea is fantastic and we should immediately adopt it (of course not, I came up with it five minutes ago). What I'm saying is that we haven't fully explored Hlaalu's potential yet, and we should be very careful about inventing new stuff until we have.

On the topic of a plot:
Isn't the entire point of the Great House stories exploring their identities? You're proposing we make a massive change to the Hlaalu identity, and then not create a story about it? What?
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Post by Yeti »

The Hlaalu will still very much be greedy, selfish and unscrupulous, Theminimanx. Only now, they'll have an actual goal to justify their actions, and a little more depth to them, rather than have them be caricatures of greedy corporate backstabbers. Working towards what they see as the best interests for their homeland doesn't make them any less selfish, since they ultimately want to impose their worldviews on Morrowind and step on the other Houses and commoners whenever it suits their interests. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_%28Ayn_Rand%29]Objectivists[/url], for instance, make the pursuit of an individual's best interests the central tenet of their philosophy, but that doesn't stop them from having a vision for what their ideal society would look like. Some infighting among the Hlaalu is to be expected, of course, and we could certainly include quests that focus on feuds within the House.
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Post by Theminimanx »

Yeti wrote:Only now, they'll have an actual goal to justify their actions, and a little more depth to them, rather than have them be caricatures of greedy corporate backstabbers.
Why can't they just be greedy corporate backstabbers? Not everybody needs a higher motive, especially not a faction that's focused on profit.
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Post by Yeti »

Well, I can't speak for everybody, but I personally find greedy business characters, who are greedy for the sole sake of blind greed, incredibly uninteresting. Such characters belong in cheesy B-movies and other works that call for one-dimensional bad guys. In our mod, we're trying to portray nuanced aspects of Dunmer society with each Great Houses. The Hlaalu need to have some overall goal to cling to. Otherwise, the House would have no direction - something its steady expansion and strategic undermining of the other Great Houses contradicts. Profit alone can't fuel the aspirations of an entire culture, even a mercantile one like House Hlaalu.
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Post by Theminimanx »

I personally don't see why money and power can't be the goal of House Hlaalu, but apparently I'm in the minority with that.

Still, what are their goals and ideology/worldview exactly? Because 'a future for the Dunmer' is far too vague.

EDIT: More specifically, what would their ideal society look like?
Last edited by Theminimanx on Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Ironed Maidens »

The way I look at it is this: the conspiracy is fine as a building point, but perhaps it could be toned down or modified a bit. Why not make it fit more in line with the Hlaluu's mercantile background and make it more of a pyramid or ponzie scheme instead of some crazy Illuminati global conspiracy? By that I mean the structure of knowledge. A pyramid scheme usually denotes people at the top being the most in the know with the most profit, while those further down you go, the less in the know the people have while still yearning for the profits those at the top have. This would make more sense and eliminate the concern of there being so man members of Hlaluu and trying to keep the conspiracy contained; the sales-like structure is secretive by nature. The Hlaluu present it as an opportunity to make money to eager people, and the better you are at making money the more you are exposed to as far as the inner workings of the society go. This would also help in forming more of an identity of the House as well because it would allow the player to slowly and subtly pick up on more...hints? Ques? On what is going on within the in-world of the House, and as I said it would make it more feasible and reasonable for the secret to remain as such; basically those at the bottom would know there's money to be made and they're probably aware that shady business practices are the norm and all of the orders they take at the beginning are to further some type of monopolistic gain.

Those in the middle are more aware of what threats the House faces, and at what cost the gold they make comes at, and maybe they have a little gut feeling that there is something more going on than meets the eye. Those in the upper tier of Hlaluu probably work day and night with a lot of self-sacrifice to try and cover their tracks of how the money is made, and they also are good at keeping a high moral and a high sense of aristocracy amongst everyone beneath them, and maybe a select few of them who are in the sights of being Masters of their jurisdiction are somewhat aware of at least a piece of the conspiracy. It would be interesting to have 5 or 6 different councilors who all know a different piece of the puzzle, so to speak, that the player will learn from each one that they keep in the dark from one another to get a better understanding of the bigger picture.

Then there are the elite, maybe 4 or 5 Hlaluu who are aware of the actual plans; the puppeteers pulling the strings along using subterfuge, guile, cunning, and gold to keep things moving as smoothly as possible. The player will eventually be told only a partial truth of the grand scheme of things at first, and then once they are appointed as Grandmaster they will be given a book with the exact details that they may choose to read or not read; leaving it an imbecilic option as to what the player really wants to know. Do they lead the House in the direction of the conspiracy, or do they try and turn the tides?
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Post by ihavefivehat »

I think that the lack of direction and a larger goal is important to Hlaalu's identity. They appear to be at the height of power, but really they are only a few years from being pushed off the council. They are rich and powerful, but have lost the larger picture of how to use that money and power. This is why they fall so quickly after the red year, whereas Redoran, for instance, was able to hang on despite centuries of seeming irrelevance during the 3rd era.

This could make the motives more xenophobic conspiratorial faction within the House a little bit more understandable to the player. The members of the conspiracy recognize their core vulnerability and are willing to act on it, even if their means for doing so are reprehensible.

But that doesn't mean that the more profit-motivated Hlaalu members have to be one dimensional or cartoonish. Some of them should be likable and shown to be willing to bring positive reform to some of the more questionable parts of Dunmer tradition. Just like in the real world, the super-rich aren't all bad people, but the lack of perspective that money brings can lead them to allow terrible things to happen.

Now that I'm writing this, though, it makes Hlaalu seem very similar to your plan for Indoril. But maybe that makes sense for Morrowind's current political situation. Everything seems rosy and prosperous on the surface, but below that it's all ready to explode and fall apart.
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Post by Ironed Maidens »

Also keep in mind that in vanilla MW, the mercantile master is an Ashlander selling things out of a yurt, and not some hotsy-totsy Hlaluu merchant or governor; which I think goes to lengths to describe how there are different ways to approach economics, and perhaps the Hlaluu do not have the best ideals in the long-term...
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Post by Gnomey »

I ought to have written "more of an identity than being just greedy, unscrupulous merchants."

House Dres is a House of greedy, self-interested (to a greater or lesser extent), unscrupulous merchants. House Telvanni is a House of greedy, self-interested, unscrupulous wizards. House Hlaalu is a House of greedy, self-interested, unscrupulous merchants. The Dunmer are a race of greedy, self-interested (to a greater or lesser extent), unscrupulous (by our standards) elves. The Imperials are a race of greedy, self-interested (to a greater or lesser extent), unscrupulous (rather hypocritical; they pretend to have scruples but never let them get in their way) humans. The Sload are a group of greedy, self-interested, unscrupulous necromancers. The Daedra are a group of greedy, self-interested, unscrupulous immortals. The Tribunal are a trio of greedy, unscrupulous (in the same sense as the Imperials) gods. The Dwemer were a race of greedy, unscrupulous (by our standards) elves. Vampires are characterized as greedy, self-interested and unscrupulous. I could go on for quite a while.

The thing is that, for most of the above, they are more than just that. Their identities are better fleshed out. Not so for House Hlaalu as it appears in vanilla Morrowind. That's the limit of the House's identity. The Imperial guilds, which are fairly generic factions tailored to suit the three major specializations, have more of a unique identity than House Hlaalu does.

Before we developed our current vision for House Indoril, I could have made a similar list for them; the staunch, conservative, xenophobic, magical, narcissistic, cultured fanatic sort. House Indoril, the Temple, the Altmer, the Ayleids and so on and so forth. But we managed to break House Indoril out of that mold. I think House Hlaalu needs the same treatment, and giving the House as a whole -- rather than all or even the majority of individuals within it -- a singular goal beyond 'get rich' seems like a good start.

Compare diplomats. Certainly there's the day to day meeting with representatives from other countries, rubbing shoulders, wheeling and dealing, etc. etc., but without an actual agenda to push other than 'get everyone to like us' it's all rather uninteresting. Introduce concepts like Realpolitik and you get a more interesting story. If the Hlaalu don't have some sort of grander agenda, why do they need to be a House at all? Clearly, they're trying to get at something. But is a purely mercantile goal in any way interesting? What is their end goal?

And having such a goal or mission -- again in a broad sense -- to strive towards actually appears to be closer to Bethesda's original intention, going by MK's quote above. That quote does not sound like something one would expect from a group of greedy, self-interested, unscrupulous merchants. It sounds more like what one would expect of an organization with some sort of broader vision, whether for themselves, or Morrowind, or whatever may be.
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Post by Theminimanx »

And I am convinced. I was wrong, and House Hlaalu should indeed be expanded beyond greedy, unscrupulous merchants. Why did I ever doubt you? :)

With that said, I do feel the need to once again point out that the Secret is merely a (and not necessarily the best) way for Hlaalu to accomplish their mission, and that we have yet to establish what that mission is.

Also, I personally think that phrasing the discussion as figuring out their ideology/what their ideal society would look like, would be a lot less confusing than phrasing it as figuring out their mission. But that's just nitpicking.
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Post by klep »

I could see Hlaalu as a faction that aims to evolve Morrowind's fuesalism into a more capitalist style (corrupted) democracy, with themselves on top. Their greed for capital and power could be seen as their weapon. They are political economists who scheme to (economically) rule Morrowind in order to establish a solid and profitable province which has a chance against the Empire which, they feel, is exploiting Morrowind and its people. Strategically trading with the Empire could strengthen Hlaalu's economical position against other Houses (in the public POV) and the Empire (in Hlaalu's POV).
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Post by Yeti »

I don't have much to add right now, but I just want to point to out that it was good of you to prod us on this, Theminimanx. No idea in the project should go unquestioned, and I think you've helped sparked a much-needed discussion that will help with implementing the Hlaalu's identity.

@klep - the Hlaalu aren't really capitalistic, though. They follow mercantilism, "the economic theory that trade generates wealth and is stimulated by the accumulation of profitable balances, which a government should encourage by means of protectionism." Capitalism depends upon open markets and free competition, while the Hlaalu seek to channel the bulk of economic activity in their lands through their House.
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Post by klep »

Hence they aim for a corrupt capitalistic style of government, with them on top.
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