Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vegtabill's Guide to Map Notes in TES3: Morrowind



Welcome to my guide on how to get the most out of the "Map Notes" feature in Morrowind. Just to make sure we're all on the same page here, this is the feature, added with the Tribunal game expansion, that allows the player to leave a seemingly unlimited number of notes on the in-game map for the video game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. If you're here, I'm going to assume you are already familiar with Morrowind's awesomeness, and that you are playing at least with the Tribunal expansion active in your load order. I am also going to assume you are already familiar with some of the fundamental parts of Morrowind's Main Quest (MQ) and a few side quests, particularly the names and locations of some quest-related Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and artifacts (i.e. there will be spoilers). Beyond that, no other assumptions are required because nothing we will go over here requires any sort of mod or game tweak; it just comes with the expansion (or the Game of the Year edition, of course).

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What are Map Notes?

If you have played much Morrowind at all, there is a very good chance you've already used them to some degree. Map Notes are markers you can add to your local maps by double-clicking a point on the map, filling in some text in the text input box that pops up, and then clicking "OK". When you're done, you will have a nice new red square on the local map. When you hover your mouse-pointer over your marker you will see the text you provided in the pop-up. The process looks something like this in-game:

Creating a new Map Note
Once created, the new note will display the text that you typed any time you hover your mouse-pointer over the little red square on the map, as shown here:

Hover state of new Map Note
These little notes may seem simple, but there are a number of ways they can be used, a few of which you may not have considered before. I'll be going over some of the uses I've found for Map Notes in the following paragraphs along with a couple of tricks to using them that, once understood, have the potential to bring a whole new level of organization to your adventures in Vvardenfell. I hope you find them useful!

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The Most Basic of Uses

I think probably the most basic use of Map Notes is to place a marker on your local map for something that doesn't already have a marker of its own. I'm sure you can think of many uses for this yourself, but I'll go over a few markers that I find myself making on a regular basis.

Morrowind is a game with literally hundreds of locations, and most all of them already have a marker. But there are a few exceptions to this, and shrines tend to be one of them. For example, the Ghostgate Shrine just inside the Ghostfence is a desirable location to revisit when one is ready to challenge the hordes of Dagoth Ur, but it has no marker of its own. Well, with Map Notes, we can do something about that.

Where was that shrine again?
Ah yes, there it is!

As you can see, adding a simple Map Note right on top of the shrine makes its location quite clear. Now, I realize some of you are probably saying to yourselves, "OK, but that shrine is no problem to find once you've found it once, which you'd have to do to make the note"... and you'd be right, of course. But what about that annoying woman wanting an escort to the shrine? If you're like me, I pass mean ol' Viatrix by many times before I'm finally ready to take her on her truly annoying journey (annoying in every sense of the word, cliff racers and all!) Well, with a Map Note I can mark her location, and then come back and find her easily whenever I am ready, even in the worst of storms:

Viatrix? Where are you, Viatrix?
Ah! There you are, you old goat!

And that's all well and good, yes? In truth though, we're once again looking at a location that is pretty darn close to a city, and one could certainly make the argument that, if you can get to Ald'ruhn, you can find Viatrix Petilia. But what about a somewhat more remote shrine-seeker, someone like Nevrasa Dralor? Like Viatrix, she is found along the roadside, waiting for a kind soul to escort her to the shrine at the Fields of Kummu. Unlike Viatrix, she is not miserable about it the entire way! Still, she is not particularly close to any city or town, and it's not always convenient to stop what you're doing to help her find the shrine. A Map Note can be a huge help here:

Before adding a Map Note, one might run right past poor Nevrasa!
After adding a Map Note, it's a lot easier to spot her, even in a rush!
Then, of course, you have to get her to the shrine itself. And like Nevrasa, the Fields of Kummu Shrine is not really near anything. But if one happened to pass by it once, a new Map Note could be just the thing to make that little escort quest a piece of cake when you get around to doing it:

Even when you're very close, the shrine's location is not obvious...
But a simple Map Note makes it abundantly clear!
Shrine-seekers like Viatrix and Nevrasa are but one type of NPC one encounters wandering throughout Vvardenfell. There are quite a few other quest-givers you'll meet along the road, some easier to find than others. There's even one NPC who will chide you about being able to find the quest-giver again once you leave to fulfill the request! Yep, ol' Bashuk gra-Bat doesn't hesitate to tease you about not being as good of a "finder" as her, all while Bugrol gro-Bagul waits near the tree by a rock by another rock. (Orcs!) Well, with a Map Note, you'll be as good a finder as any Orc:

Near the tree... by a rock... by another rock... ???
Oh, that tree by a rock by another rock!

Besides shrines and NPCs, I have found a few other places and things where Map Notes really come in handy, but the most useful of all is probably marking places in the map that connect to other locations, or where there may be something I might want to remember later. A great example of that is a place I found that makes it really easy to cross from the West Gash, just north of Seyda Neen, to Pelagiad, without having to go all the way down past Addamasartus, through the pass, and back up again. I find myself using this little shortcut fairly often, but it would be a pain to have to find it every time. Map Notes make it easy:

This point on the map marks where I can cross over,
without needing Levitation or Jump spells or potions.
In this case, the passage works both ways,
and I can return to the West Gash the same way I came.

Given these few examples I imagine you are beginning to see how these things could be useful, and you probably have some ideas of your own. But as I mentioned above, these are just some of the simplest uses for Map Notes. They can be used for much more and, working in concert with the Journal, they can become a very useful tool to add to your Morrowind questing. Read on...

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Going Beyond the Basics: Visibility

So far we've seen some interesting uses for Map Notes, but one thing we haven't talked about is visibility. The notes we've looked at so far require one to be in the general vicinity of the local map marker to really be effective. But once you understand how and where Map Notes are made visible on the many in-game maps, you will be able to extend their usage well beyond what we've seen so far.

Basically, there are two ideas to keep in mind regarding the visibility of Map Notes in Morrowind. The first is that any time you make a new Map Note, it will be visible not only in the cell you create it in, but it will also show up in the hover state of any door markers that connect to the cell you created the note in. That's a mouthful, isn't it? The second thing we want to talk about in terms of visibility is how to get some of the notes to show up on the world map but, as it is really just an easier-to-describe extension of the adjoining cell thing, we'll leave it for now and revisit it in a bit.

The best way, I think, to describe how Map Notes work across adjoining cells is to look at a few examples. Let's start with a simple one, and while we're at it I'll introduce another very handy use for these little red squares. Suppose you are just finishing up the final bits of Larrius Varro's little "story". Naturally, you loot the place after dealing with the "bad people", but there's one chest you can't quite open yet. It's got a lock on it that is simply beyond your skill level for the time being, but you're afraid you'll forget about it by the time you've advanced enough to come back and open it. This is where adjoining cell visibility comes in. First, you would make a new Map Note. Because this is a lock, you'd want to include the lock level (if you know it):

This Map Note shows the location of the chest and its lock level.

Because the Council Club cell is connected to Balmora by a single door (i.e. there is only one loading screen separating them), you will be able to see your new Map Note's content essentially as a bullet point when you hover over the Council Club's door. Now, whenever you arrive in Balmora by silt strider, you will see something like this:

The hover state of the Council Club door,
showing the contents of the Map Note within.

That's pretty handy, huh? Now, if you were to forget about the chest, and even the note you made, there's a good chance your mouse-pointer would glide across this marker at some point, and that little red square really does stand out when your eyes are used to seeing only gold letters in those text boxes. Better yet, they stack up, so you can have as many as you want* lined up like bullet points on the hover states of any door marker that connects to the cell you make the notes in. (* I imagine there is a limit, but in practical terms I have a hard time thinking of many situations that would require more than a handful; therefore, I doubt any such limit would be meaningful, but please let me know in the comments if you hit the limit.)

Here's another example, and while we look at it I'll go over yet another use for Map Notes that helps me out a lot, especially in the early stages when carry weight is such a big factor. Let's say you're playing as a thief, and eventually you find yourself checking all the locked doors you can find in Tel Naga's Upper Tower. But lo and behold, you're already loaded down and there's just no way to carry everything you've found. Enter Map Notes:

Some nice stuff, even a few enchanted pieces!
Definitely do not want to forget about this stash...
Some of these pieces are Master's and Journeyman's,
and some of the ingredients are of the less common variety.
Not sure who this guy is, but judging from the "bedroll and bucket" treatment,
I'm guessing he's not here by his choosing! Better make a note...

There, that should do it. Now that everything has been properly noted, and knowing what we now know about adjoining cell visibility, that means I should be able to exit to Tel Naga's Great Hall and see my notes in a nice bullet list when I hover my mouse-pointer over the door from the Great Hall to the Upper Tower:

Let's see, Alchemy equipment? Check. Weapons and Armor? Check.
Some Bosmer  apparently held against his will? Check!

But wait... Tel Naga's Upper Tower has several doors to adjoining cells. Does this mean it works for all of them? Well let's see. First, let's have a look at the Upper Hall. It's another interior cell and besides, there's probably one of those Azura's Coast thunderstorms outside! I'll just go back through the Upper Tower, into the Upper Hall, and check the hover state of the door back to the Upper Tower once I'm there:

Alchemy gear, Weapons & Armor, imprisoned Wood Elf... Yep, it all checks out!

Great! That's exactly what we expected, and that's exactly what we got. If only more things in life functioned with such predictability. Seriously though, this handy little visibility feature can drastically reduce the number of things you need to try to remember as you advance in your playthroughs. In fact, I've found I can keep track of so much more now that I use them. Continuing with the Tel Naga example, before I leave the Upper Hall I have a look around. Sure enough, there's more stuff here I'd love to loot, but I'm still too encumbered to add anything to my Inventory. No problem:

This side of the staircase has more ingredients and a few more weapons.
Over here there is a complete set of Bonemold Armor.

Now that I've added those two new notes, I should be able to see them when I go back into the Upper Tower, one of the cells adjoined to the Upper Hall:

The Bonemold Armor, ingredients, and weapons all show up nicely
in the Upper Hall door's new hover state.

Finally, we'll take a step outside of Tel Naga and see how things look from there. Because both the Upper Tower and the Upper Hall have doors that exit to Sadrith Mora, the Map Notes I made inside should now appear when I hover my mouse-pointer over their doors:

Alchemy, W&A, jailed Tree Hugger... All here!
Bonemold Armor, misc. other items... Looks good!

So now, whenever I am in Sadrith Mora, it will be remarkably easy to keep track of what I still need to come back for. As items are removed I can go back and edit my notes to keep them current. Eventually, I will delete them entirely, one at a time, until there's nothing left for my thief to steal.

As we've just seen, understanding how the visibility of Map Notes functions in the game can significantly expand their usefulness. But we still haven't discussed how to extend this to the world map. To do so, let's head back to where it all begins... Seyda Neen.

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Taking a Global Perspective

Earlier, I called the process of getting Map Notes to appear on the world map an "easier-to-describe extension of the adjoining cell thing". To demonstrate, let's look at still another handy use for Map Notes, and let's do it in a setting everyone reading this should know by heart: Addamasartus. This particular cave, just on the outskirts of Seyda Neen, is a popular starter home for many players. For most, it provides one of the first tests of one's combat abilities. And its collection of chests, crates, and barrels, all safe storage*, make it a nice prize for the victorious new character in need of new digs. (* "Safe" storage, a subject I may have to write about some day, refers to any container that has no ownership attached to it.) As such, it is a place I use a lot myself, and it just so happens I currently have a character running an Alchemy lab in there.

Alchemy equipment is big and heavy in Morrowind, even more so if you run mods designed to make them even heavier and more cumbersome! In any event, it simply isn't practical to carry the gear and all those ingredients around everywhere you go, so my characters that use Alchemy always have at least one place that serves as a lab. And of course, I always want the best equipment I can get in my lab, but it can take time to acquire it. In order to keep from selling pieces I need in order to own the best set possible, I started using Map Notes to keep track of what I have. Here is my current lab in Addamasartus:

Master's Mortar & Pestle and Calcinator
Apprentice's Alembic
Journeyman's Retort

Notice that I made a Map Note for each level of Alchemy gear I have. This isn't just to make the list look nice on the outside. If the text in a Map Note gets too long or has line breaks in it, it will be truncated in the hover state on the other side, the missing text replaced with an ellipsis (...). By breaking the list up into short individual notes, I ensure that all of the info I want to see will be there when I look at it from the other side. Now when I step outside of Addamasartus and look at its door's hover state, I see this:

All the info I need about my Addamasartus lab,
and without having to actually enter the cave!

OK, that's pretty cool. But alas, when I switch to the world map, there is no marker for Addamasartus, so there's nothing to place my mouse-pointer over to see the hover state. My goal here is to be able to see which pieces of Alchemy equipment I need in my lab whenever I find new stuff, so I will know without having to return to the lab whether to keep or sell what I've found; if I can't see that from the world map, well, what's the point? I could make a Map Note right outside the cave, but just like the simplest ones we looked at back at the beginning, it would only be visible on the local map. The closest marker is the northern one for Seyda Neen but, as expected, its hover state looks like this:

Seyda Neen's marker does not display the contents
of Addamasartus' Map Notes, just as one would expect.

Since there's no way to make a new world map marker, the next best thing would be to add to the hover state of the existing markers. Because visibility works the way it does, this is actually something we can do.

In the examples we've looked at up until now, we've seen how Map Notes made in one cell will show up in the hover state of door markers that connect to that cell. The markers on the world map are not door markers though, and we're not moving from cell to cell when we switch from the local map to the world map, and back. Fortunately for us, when the Map Notes feature was being developed, someone had the brilliant idea to treat world markers as if they were door markers. This really is brilliant, because it allows us to extend what we've learned to the top level: the world map. To see this in action, all we need to do is place a new Map Note in the same cell the world map marker appears to be in. If all goes as planned, we should be able to see the content of the new note in the hover state of the world marker. That's another mouthful, isn't it? Let's just look at it... that's so much easier!

We have already established that Addamasartus does not have its own world map marker. Seyda Neen is so close by though, that using its marker for Addamasartus' notes works almost as well. I'm going to place my new Map Notes more or less between the entrance to Addamasartus and the footbridge to Seyda Neen. Sometimes I have to play around a bit with the placement of the notes so that they show up roughly where I want them, but still appear on the world map marker I'm working with at the time. In this case I've found my spot; now I just need to make three Map Notes, one for each level of Alchemy equipment I have in the cave:

Master's Mortar & Pestle and Calcinator...
... Apprentice's Alembic...
... and Journeyman's Retort.
Just to refresh your memory, I made three notes here instead of one long one because long notes tend to get truncated in the hover states. Since my goal is to make it easy to see all of the Alchemy equipment I have here (not just some of it), I made sure to split it up. Besides, it makes a nice bullet list that even Word® aficionados would be envious of! Check it out:

All of my Alchemy equipment in Addamasartus, in one view.

Notice that I added "Addamasartus" in parentheses to these notes. This is not really necessary; there's pretty much zero chance that I'll "forget" where my Seyda Neen player home is, or that Addamasartus is actually where my gear is. Still, for those that like to be precise, I thought I'd show that you can always do something like this to give yourself little reminders here and there. Morrowind is a huge game... it's always easy to forget little details!

So, now we've seen how to get Map Notes to show up on the world map, and how that could come in handy for things like collecting Alchemy equipment. But what else are they good for? Well, I would ask what aren't they good for? For example, let's head back to Balmora. Remember the Map Note I made back there, the one that was supposed to remind me that I need to open a level 100 lock in the Council Club? Well, that's fine for when I'm actually in or near Balmora, but what would be great would be if I could make that a Map Note that I would be able to see from anywhere.

As it is right now, my Map Note in the Council Club looks great when I'm in Balmora and I check the hover state of the club's door. But when I go to the world map and check the hover state of Balmora's marker, this is all I see:

Nothing shows up from my Map Note inside the Council Club...

If I apply what we learned back in Seyda Neen and Addamasartus, I should be able to place a new note somewhere in this exterior cell and have it show up in Balmora's world map hover state. Note that I could put the Map Note anywhere in this cell; the effect would be the same from a global point of view. But I usually place my notes as close their subjects as I can, or just inside the door (for interior cells). In this case I decided to place my Map Note right on the roof of the Council Club... That'll show those lounging Camonna Tong thugs basking in the Balmora sun there!

But if I place a Map Note outside the club, say, on the roof...

There. Now, with that done, I should be able to see my note when I hover my mouse-pointer over the world map marker for Balmora:

My Map Note now appears on the world map!

Excellent! Now it will be much easier to remember that there's something to do in Balmora that a particular piece of equipment, or certain potion or spell, might be useful for. Once you really start using these things, it will soon become second-nature to quickly check on the notes that towns, cities, forts, ruins, and strongholds might have have before traveling to them.

Here is one more use for Map Notes, combined with the hover states of world map markers, that I'm sure most fans of the game will appreciate. If you have spent any time at all on the official Morrowind forums (I am "vegtabill" there), then you've almost certainly seen someone post something like this:
"Can someone please tell me where that merchant Mudcrab is?"
Well, you still have to find him on your own, but once you do you can create a Map Note that will make finding him a breeze from that point on. The little bugger is on a tiny little island of his own, just east of the Dwemer ruin, Mzahnch. Of course, his little island has no world marker, but Mzahnch does. Using a Map Note just as I did with Addamasartus over near Seyda Neen, I can place a note for the Mudcrab Merchant inside Mzahnch's exterior cell, like this:

By placing a Map Note here in Mzahnch's cell...

When I'm done, I have my very own signpost on the world map, pointing me right to that drunken little crab any time I want to find him. (It can also act as a friendly reminder to be careful of the mudcrabs you kill in this area!) Here's what I see now when I check out Mzahnch's world map marker:

I have permanent directions to everyone's favorite crustacean!

If you have high-value items to sell, finding this guy in a hurry can really be helpful. I know I've spent more than enough time wandering Azura's Coast, fending off Cliff Racers, Dreughs, and Daedra, just trying to find that darn talking mudcrab!

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Final Thoughts

That just about wraps up everything there is to say about using Map Notes in Morrowind. We have seen how they can be used in most every way possible, from simple markers on the local map, to keeping track of gear, and marking people, places, and things on the global map. All that remains now is to provide a few more examples that tie it all together.

Back in Seyda Neen, we looked at how I keep track of the Alchemy equipment I have in Addamasartus. But it turns out that Addamasartus isn't the only "player home" this particular character is using. In fact, with this character I am playing with a personal all-time high of four player homes. Truth be told, I really use them more like remote bases, with only one of them being "home". But regardless of what I call them, they all have Alchemy labs set up. I showed how Map Notes can be really helpful for keeping track of the Alchemy equipment I have in one lab; imagine how much more useful they are four managing four! By doing the same thing I did for Addamasartus in Seyda Neen, I can add world marker notes for Hlormaren, the Hlaalu Ancestral Vaults in Vivec, and Uvirith's Grave. When I'm done, I can inventory all four labs from one map view, like so:

Hlormaren's Alchemy Apparati
Hlaalu Ancestral Vault's Alchemy Apparati
Telvanni Stronghold's Alchemy Apparati
Addamasartus' Alchemy Apparati

And now I have a nice, quick snapshot of what I have and where it is, all from anywhere in Vvardenfell I happen to be. Not bad, eh? Naturally, these could just as easily be notes regarding how many repair hammers I have and of which types, what kinds of extra weapons and armor I have stashed in different places, or which quest items I have stored away. The possibilities are endless, to be sure.

Besides inventorying items, Map Notes can be used for identifying places you've been. This is a great little tool for dungeon-diving, and for keeping track of quests. Just east of Caldera, there's another annoying NPC who has been robbed of her jewels. The bandits are holed up in Shushishi, which is not exactly the easiest place to find, and is easily forgotten once you've been there. I've stumbled by that one countless times myself, unsure if I've already been there or not. Once again, Map Notes are the answer:

Everything I consider to be of value has been taken.
None of the containers here have ownership attached to them,
so they are "safe" for storing my items in.
Aeta Wave-Breaker's family heirlooms have been recovered.

And, wrapping it all up, here's what I'll see next time I'm in the neighborhood of Shushishi:

Next time I'm in the vicinity, I'll know exactly what I've done here.

Now I'll never have to wonder if I've already been there or not. At a glance, I'll know that I've done the quest related with the place, I've cleared it out of any valuables, and that it's a possible place to stay or even use as a player home because the storage is safe. Quick little views like this into wilderness locations can really come in handy when you're roaming the countryside. They can save you time, keep you from poking your head into places you don't need to, and even help you find a place to regroup when you're down to that last Restore Health potion.

Finally, here's a look at Odrosal, a crucial location in the Main Quest (MQ). Odrosal has a couple of levels and a world marker in addition to its importance to the MQ, so it's a great place to take a final look at Map Notes on every level. Starting from the deepest level in and moving out:

Keening's Map Note from inside the tower...
And Keening's location from outside the tower.
Nothing left here, and the artifact has been recovered.
None of the storage has any ownership attached to it.
Dagoth Odros has been dealt with.
There are a few "bottomless containers" here (i.e. permanent dead bodies).
Here's how those notes all look from just outside Odrosal.
Keening once more, this time for the world map.
A quest update for the world map.
Safe and unlimited storage makes this a potential player home.
A quick, at-a-glance snapshot of Odrosal from the world map.

Needless to say, there's really no need to have notes at every level like this. I tend to play with Map Notes only at the highest levels possible, so for Odrosal I'd have the world map notes, but no more. But this example does demonstrate just how detailed you can get if you really want to!

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Thank you...

Well, that covers just about everything I could think to say about using Map Notes in Morrowind. OK, OK, almost everything... even as I write this wrap-up I am thinking of uses I left out. Perhaps at some point I'll make an addendum or two, but in all likelihood I have already gone deeper into this feature of my favorite video game than anyone else would ever care to! Still, I would like to sincerely thank you for reading my guide, especially if you got all the way to this point. You know what you deserve!

I also want to thank my family; my wife, for just being who she is, and for putting up with hour after hour of Cliff Racer screeching; and my step-son, for his awesomeness, and for turning me on to The Elder Scrolls in the first place.

I want to thank the many kind people on the greatest video game forum in the world, the Bethesda Softworks Forums. You folks rock, and I am honored to be a part of your community!

And of course, I want to thank Bethesda Softworks, for creating the amazing world of The Elder Scrolls, and the games that let me enjoy it to the fullest extent. To me, Morrowind is the crown jewel, but I do love them all!

Thanks again for reading my guide. I hope you find it useful.

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It's been almost two weeks since I first published this guide, and I must say I have been truly humbled by the response it has gotten. I have received lots of positive feedback, which is always great! But more importantly, it seems my primary reason for doing this was not far off the mark, not far at all. As I learned how to really use Map Notes, I came to suspect that there were a lot of Morrowind players who do not know these things exist, or who only use them for the most basic of things. Searching the Internet seemed to confirm my suspicions, but until I published I really wasn't sure. There was a chance that Map Notes were more commonly used than I thought, or that it was a feature too obscure to matter to most players. As I reached the end of the guide, I decided to leave a couple of things out because I didn't want to overwhelm my audience any more than I already had.

But once the comments started coming in, I saw that this was indeed a hidden little nugget that many players never knew they had! Most people (but not all) did know of their existence, but had no idea that Map Notes were visible as bullet points in adjoining cells, or that you can make them appear on the global map. All in all, I think most everyone who commented picked up at least one or two little tricks they did not know about before reading the guide. That is why I wrote it in the first place, so these comments are truly music to my ears! Thank you again, sincerely!

So, with the guide's raison d'etre validated, I decided to come back and add in the things that I left out. There's nothing new or particularly earth-shattering here, just a few more ways to use them that I didn't mention before. As such, I'm probably not going to show every single step; we've already gone over the procedure for making these a few times now, so I don't think we need to do it again. But please let me know in the comments if anything is unclear or incomplete.

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Services: Merchants, Trainers, Etc.

Vvardenfell is a wild and largely uninviting world, replete with vast, forbidding expanses stretching between its few towns and cities. It can be a challenge to find the merchants, trainers, spell-makers and enchanters you need, and even then many of them have faction requirements that often result in a flat refusal to do business. Some popular mods take this further by adding tougher requirements for business, and tacking on surcharges for low-ranking faction members and non-members. And that's not even mentioning the trouble you can have when Moon Sugar and/or Skooma are in your inventory. Keeping it all straight is a lot to remember! Here again, Map Notes can be a big help.

To start, let's look at a couple of unmodded examples. Out of all the NPCs that offer services in Morrowind, there are actually quite a few that will flat refuse service if you are not a member of their faction. To avoid wasting my time on these characters, I find myself making quite a few "Faction Members Only" notes. For instance, Ondi is a Trainer in the tradehouse in Khuul, but if you are not a member of the Imperial Legion she won't have anything to do with you. A Map Note placed inside the tradehouse can help:

Unless I join the Imperial Legion,
Ondi is one Trainer I won't need to waste any time on!
With this little note added, I'll know not to waste my time on Ondi unless I join the Legion. Khuul does not have a lot to offer as it is, and since it is a place I don't get to very often, every little reminder helps! Still, being a faction member is only one of a few possible requirements; some people are going to need a bit more before they'll do business with you...

If your character happens to join the Guild of Mages, the Caldera guild house is a great place to shop. There you have an Alchemist, an Enchanter, and a couple of Spell Merchants, one of which is also a Trainer. However, Folms Mirel requires a little more than simple Guild membership before he'll offer his services to you; you will need to rise to at least the level of Conjurer first! Since he is the only Enchanter in the Caldera Mages Guild, it might now be a bad idea to make a note of that, at least until you've reached the required level:

This Map Note lets me know that Folms Mirel is available for barter and
enchanting, but I'll need to be at least a Conjurer first.
This tells me: 1) Where? The Mages Guild, 2) Who? Folms Mirel, 3) What? Barter and enchanting, and 4) How? I must be at least a Conjurer in the Guild. I placed this note just inside the Guild, so now I will see it any time I hover my mouse-pointer over the marker for its door. If I wanted this reminder to show up on the world map, I could make the same note somewhere in Caldera (probably on the roof of the Guild itself).

In addition to faction requirements, having Moon Sugar or Skooma in your inventory can be a real problem when it's time to trade. Honestly, if I had a Drake for every time I dropped those troublesome items on the floor, only to forget them and leave them behind after trading... well, let's just say I'd have a lot of Drakes! It would be so much more efficient to unload the contraband first, and then go about my regular business. But who can keep track of the NPCs that are willing to buy the stuff? With everything else you have to remember in Morrowind, that may well be one detail too many! Luckily, we have Map Notes:

Placed inside the Balmora Mages Guild, this note is helpful
whether I arrive by Guild Guide, Silt Strider, Intervention, or even on foot.
This useful little note, placed just inside the Balmora Guild of Mages, tells me where I can profit from these illegal goods. Now I can arrive in Balmora via any of Vvardenfell's many modes of travel, and easily find a place to make unload my contraband for cash. Sure beats decorating vendors' floors with Skooma and Moon Sugar, doesn't it?

Besides meeting the many requirements for doing business, sometimes I find it helpful just to make notes of who sells what, and where. A great example of this is the Telvanni Stronghold at Uvirith's Grave. Once construction of your compound has been completed, your rapidly rising Telvanni Lord will have four new inhabitants, each with their own mushroom house and a service or two to offer you. But out of the four, only three offer bartering services, and two of them only deal in Alchemy supplies. Worse still, the one that only deals in spells is the closest one to your front door... I've wasted many a trip to her little hut myself, only to head right back out the door, cursing my forgetful nature! Well, with Map Notes, this is no longer a problem:

Arelas, Spell Merchant
Seleth, Enchanter with some bartering
Omavel, Spell Merchant with some Alchemy bartering
Menas, Alchemist
There! Now the next time you visit your stronghold, a quick glance at the door markers will tell you exactly where you need to go. No more running into Arelas's house with a load of Dwemer weapons and Armor to unload. Instead you can head straight to Seleth, sell your loot, and then head back to Arelas with a pocket full of Drakes, ready to buy any spell of hers that you want. Or load up on Alchemy ingredients from Omavel and Menas. Whatever your needs, Map Notes can help you get where you need to be without a bunch of running around.

To wrap up this section on Services in Morrowind, let's take a look at a modded example. One of my favorite mods is "Service Requirements", a gameplay mod recommended on BTB's Morrowind Mod List. Service Requirements does a lot to make the game's factions even more exclusive than they already are. This is accomplished by enforcing faction membership much more rigorously and by raising the rank requirements for most service providers. This has the potential to cut off access to many of the game's key merchants and trainers, so hefty surcharges are used to allow unqualified characters to conduct business, if they have the gold to do so. With this mod, simply knowing where the services are and what they provide is not enough; we also need to know about the providers' factions, and whether or not they require surcharges. Once more, a few Map Notes can make all the difference in the world! Look at these examples from Ghostgate:

This Map Note shows the Services available
in the lower level of the Tower of Dusk.
From here we can see the Services available
in the Ghostgate Temple.
From the Temple we can easily see the Services available
in the Tower of Dusk's main level...
... and the Services available in the Tower of Dawn's main level.
Lastly, we can see the Services available
in the Tower of Dawn's lower level.
In each of these, we get a look at just how far you can go with Map Notes if you really want to get detailed. From any level in the Ghostgate compound, we can quickly see which Services are available, which factions the providers belong to, and whether or not they require a surcharge. And of course, because of how visibility works with these, a good deal of this info can be accessed from outside the towers. In fact, given everything we have covered in this guide, I'm sure you can think of ways to expose all of this info outside of Ghostgate, or even on the world map. The flexibility of this feature allows just about as much, or as little, precision as you like.

That pretty much covers all of the ways I have found to use Map Notes with Services. However, with the many different Merchants, Trainers, Enchanters, Spell Makers, and Alchemists you will find in Morrowind, I'm sure there are at least a couple I did not think of. I'd love to hear any other ideas you might come up with, so please let me know in the comments if you think of any!

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Yet another use I have found for Map Notes deals with caves, ruins, and dungeons that respawn enemies. In such locations, new enemies will be created to take the places of the ones you dispatched, usually upon re-entering after leaving. For my style of play, this is important for two reasons: 1) finding a safe place to rest, and 2) locating suitable player homes.

Traveling in the wilderness of Vvardenfell is tricky business. The distances between civilized places can be great, and just about everything that moves wants to kill you. It's a good idea to stop when and where you can to rest up, repair, and recharge. But when resources are running low, the last thing you want is to poke your head into a place to rest, only to find an Ash Ghoul or a Sphere Centurion waiting on the other side, ready to take your head right of your shoulders! Unsurprisingly, one of the regions I frequently find myself seeking refuge in is Red Mountain. There are actually quite a few potential resting locations inside the Ghostfence... but how can we keep track of which ones are safe and which ones aren't? With Map Notes, of course:

Hmmm... Respawns Dwemer Animunculi...
This probably is not a very good place to catch some Zs!
Now whenever I am in this region, I'll know better than to try to rest up in Bthanchend. Best to keep moving, or cast Recall!

The other reason I find it useful to keep track of respawning dungeons has to do with finding good places to set up player homes. "Safe" storage is a big consideration for me, but even that is not as important as whether or not I'll be greeted by an Ascended Sleeper when I come home from adventuring. In some cases, like the Hlaalu Ancestral Vaults in Vivec, the respawns are hardly worth considering. (Honestly, who's that worried about a couple of rats, especially when simply closing a door generally handles the problem?) Ash creatures, Dwemer Animunculi, and Daedra are another thing altogether though, and it's probably best to avoid shacking up with any of those guys! Just as above, a simple Map Note can make house shopping a lot easier:

This would be a great place to live...
Well, except for the Sixth House respawns, that is!
Situated near the middle of the map and well within the Ghostfence, Vemynal might have been a good candidate for at least a forward base. It has safe storage, and a "bottomless container" in the form of a permanent dead body. Too bad it respawns Sixth House creatures. Coming home to Ash Zombies or waking up with a Lame Corprus crawling into bed with you is not my idea of a good time! Making note of respawns like these makes it easy to quickly cross potential homes off the list.

There is actually a third reason I've found it useful to make note of respawns: it makes it easier to find enemies to hunt, loot, and soul trap. This one doesn't really need examples. To be sure, the argument could be made that finding things to kill in Morrowind is never a problem. Still, sometimes there are particular ingredients you need to collect, or souls of a certain quality that you must harvest. Knowing where some types of enemies respawn can make these tasks almost trivial... if you don't get yourself killed in the process, that is!

Respawns show up all over the place. Some will be in places where you can add a note to the world map, while others will require you to be in the vicinity of the dungeon, cave, ruin, etc. to be very useful. I've only shown a couple of examples here, but there are many more. If you come up with some new ones please share them in the comments. Though we have covered a lot here in this guide, there is always more to learn!

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Wealth beyond measure, Outlander!