The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

Every girl I date seriously must eventually pass a test. It happens at a certain point in every relationship I have; by then she basically knows what she's getting with me, including my tendency to get weirdly obsessed with things. The bands Titus Andronicus and Belle & Sebastian, for one thing, or Game of Thrones. I'm tattooed with 16-bit Mario, a Dark Souls bonfire, and my dog Ricky. Etc. But if she hasn't picked up on that part of my personality, she'll see me in full when I show her my stronghold in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Nowadays I play a million games for a few hours apiece, but back in the day my friends and I would play a single game, like Super Smash Bros. or Halo, for months or years straight. Morrowind was a solitary obsession, but it lasted just as long, from the time I was 13 in 2002 through much of my high school years, until about 2006. My dad had just died of a heart attack and I was more than ever finding comfort in video games. Maybe that's why the island of Vvardenfell grabbed me so completely, or maybe Morrowind was really just that good. Either way, I was hooked.

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

During that roughly four-year period I logged hundreds of hours using multiple characters, and while Morrowind is an absolutely gargantuan game, I eventually ran out of quests to complete and caves to explore. And that's when things got weird.

Progress far enough in Morrowind and you'll eventually gain your own "stronghold." It will be different depending on your faction, and I always chose Great House Telvanni rather than Hlaalu or Redoran. House Telvanni is led by powerful, ancient wizards, and they grow tower strongholds out of magic mushrooms instead of building them. There was never any other option for me.

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

The tower, located in a remote, ashy basin called Uvirith's Grave, is named Tel Uvirith in the Telvanni style. Most players will cast a teleport spell and return to this base whenever they need to offload some loot, and Tel Uvirith is handsomely equipped for that purpose. The blueprint includes a foyer, guest room, reception hall, dining area, and bedroom, all littered with chests and wardrobes in which to stash treasures and equipment — not to mention the multi-level dungeon, complete with a lava pit and a mysterious "perma-corpse" that never moves and can hold unlimited items for you.

That's fine for most players, but I made my stronghold into something more. This was role-playing at its finest: I fancied myself, through my white-haired Dark Elf avatar (even then I went by Rogue Cheddar), a powerful and mischievous sorcerer. As leader of Vvardenfell's various guilds and factions and defeater of the demon Dagoth Ur, the game's story and side quests completed, all I wanted to do was party. And I had the ultimate party pad.

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

One of the unfortunate side effects of the advent of realistic-ish physics in games is that the things you put down in Oblivion or Skyrim never seem to stay in place. Not so in Morrowind, and I covered every surface with the detritus of my imaginary rager.

Lanterns, candles and torches floated magically in empty air. Skooma pipes and moon sugar, the island's most illicit drugs, littered the tables and the shelf-like mushrooms growing in the dungeon. Every unique piece of armour or weapon I ever found, from the ever-burning swords Trueflame and Hopesfire to the fearsome helms known as the Daedric Faces of Inspiration, Terror, and God, was on display inside. All the alcohols of the region, from sujamma and flin to mazte and the rare Cyrodilic Brandy, were available for my guests to partake of.

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

And what guests I had! Like many role-playing games, Morrowind features spells that allow you to turn enemies to your side for short periods. And like most things in any Elder Scrolls game, these "command" spells were easily exploited. I gathered the realm's most powerful beings to my home, enchanting them with impossibly strong incantations and luring them over volcanic wastes, perilous swamps and Daedra-infested mountains to my isolated tower.

That was probably the strangest and most impressive aspect of my obsession. Morrowind had a robust spell creation system, but only by severely exploiting it could you hope to craft enchantments powerful enough to snare the game's highest-level creatures and NPCs. Even then, some, like the warrior-poet and god-king Vivec, could only be commanded for a few seconds at a time. It took infinite magic (and patience) to continuously re-cast the spell, inching backwards across miles of treacherous in-game geography while my "guests" followed, while also casting intermittent speed and levitation spells so they could walk faster and avoid the many rivers and lava pits along the way. I don't remember the specifics, but it must have taken dozens of hours to get them all there.

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

My guests included every resident of Vvardenfell whom I envied, admired, or feared. The ancient life-creating wizard Divayth Fyr stood in a foyer watching one of the game's awkward strippers — lured there by my adolescent brain from Desele's House of Earthly Delights in the far-away town of Suran — alongside the brooding Dremora Lords Krazzt and Anhaedra, the curious vampire Mastrius, and Goris the Maggot King. Vivec, omnipotent (well not quite, it turns out), alien, and floating cross-legged and serene, watched all.

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

In the dungeon the merchant scamp Lustidrike (a less-cute Dobby) peddled spirits to Ra-Gruzgob, the orc who thinks he's a cat, Big Head the crazy lizard man, and M'Aiq the Liar, a funny character who's made cameos in other Elder Scrolls games. Vedam and Orvas Dren, the Duke of Vvardenfell and his younger brother, conversed with the vampire queen Dhaunayne Aundae while the dancer Caminda gyrated alluringly (read: disgustingly) nearby.

There were more: the naked barbarians Hisin Deep-Raed, Botrir, and Hlormar Wine-Sot; benign but impressive elemental atronach spirits of frost, storm, and fire; Creeper and the talking mudcrab, two other unlikely merchants; the corpse of a bandit named Luven, who for some forgotten reason earned my ire and paid the ultimate price; and the mystical White Guar, a unique beast who resided in a separate guest house because he wouldn't fit through the tower's entrance.

The Only Reason I Still Own An Original Xbox

I've been using the past tense, but in truth they're all still there, waiting. It's the party that never ends. My obsession with Morrowind has faded, but I still think fondly of the game. I don't think any Elder Scrolls game since can possibly compare, and it's amazing how many of the oddball names and places in this article I recalled from memory.

But since I've never figured out how to salvage my Morrowind saves off my original Xbox, every so often I take the big, ugly, black box off the shelf, blow the dust off, and take a lady on a tour. It's a nostalgic trip for me, and a potential eye-opener for her; this is what I'm capable of at my weirdest. So far none have run out of the room screaming, so I guess I'm doing something right.


    is it not possible to carry that save over to 360?
    Morrowind works on 360.

    I guess not?

    I was just reminiscing over Gladius which is only on the original xbox, such a great game. I think I'll have to hunt down a mates xbox or sort out an emulator if they exist.

      Oh jesus I want to play that game again. It was fantastic.

      I think there's a gamecube version that runs on dolphin emulator and in HD... my friend told me.

        I've got it working on Gamecube and PS2 emulators. Though I have my wii modded with a usb loader, so I play it like that. :D

          Yeah I had a quick hunt on ebay... about $30 for the disc and I can run it on a dolphin emulator.... if all of my "alternate" methods of finding it fail, then I'll grab it off of ebay.

      Bwahahaha, I was just reading another article and someone mentioned URL obfuscation and it made me think of Gladius...

    Original Xbox? You mean the Xbox one?

      no. the xbox one is more like xbox 3 original xbox is still the first

    My wife is always weirded out by my tendency to manipulate corpses in Bethesda games. If they die near a cliff I like to roll them off the edge and if they get snagged on the way down I push them along. I also like flinging them around with Unrelenting Force. But the voices in my head tell me to ignore her.

    With the wealth of mods, updates and extra features on the PC (and can be picked up for a few dollars on sale) ... you still want to keep using the Xbox version?

      Did you actually read the article? It's a relic from his past, he doesn't actually want to play it anymore.

    Thanks for this. I've finally discovered the reason nobody wants to come around when I have a party at my house is because my mind control magic isn't strong enough.

    Halo made me stray from PC gaming and morrowwind made sure I never went back.....good old original xbox

      But Morrowind was about ten thousand times better on PC..?

        I had both versions including expansions and I enjoyed it more on Xbox....

    Sounds like a party I went to at Sheogorath's.

    If you had just played in on PC like you were meant to then you wouldn't have this problem... #pcmasterrace

    I LOVE Titus Andronicus - massive thumbs up.

    I would have gotten far further in this game if it wasn't for the memory bug, where if you had done so much stuff in the game the Xbox would run out of RAM and just lock up. It got to the point of only lasting a few seconds before it crashed the Xbox.

    So do you only need the mind control magic until you get them in the house? Then they just stay static?

    This turns out to be quite a popular thing - you should see some of the houses people do in EverQuest 2. I myself spent quite a time perfecting my house, but I was never anywhere near as artistic as a lot of my friends, or most of the people here:

    Fact: Morrowind was better than Skyrim/Oblivion.

    To me, a prime example of games selling out their gameplay for market appeal.

    To get the save files off your Xbox and onto a PC, you just need a Memory Card-to-USB adapter known as an "Action Replay" or "Mega X-Key". These were made about 10 years ago for savegame modding and the like.

    Mike, I'd be willing to mail you my Action Replay so that you can upload the save file to the web. I would love to fire it up in my copy of Morrowind.

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