Volume VI: Vvardenfell
by Ansel the Craven Adventurer
In my previous volume, I talked about the Morrowind mainland and all the places you should avoid there. This volume is dedicated to the island of Vvardenfell, and boy is it a doozy! You practically trip over Dwemer ruins and Daedric shrines on the roads, making them hard to avoid indeed. With over 30 Daedric shrines and at least 20 Dwemer ruins in Vvardenfell alone, that’s enough to get you seriously dead several times over.
I would normally recommend not going to Vvardenfell at all, because it’s a wild and dangerous place, but sometimes you can’t avoid getting shipped out away from the comfort of your own home. I spent some time in Vvardenfell a few years ago, and I managed to avoid most dangers, so it’s entirely possible to survive a trip there. All it takes is some careful investigation: for example, if you’re in a town, ask the locals if there’s a shrine or ruin nearby. They’ll be sure to tell you to keep well away from the place. After all, they’ve spent their entire lives avoiding those places, because those who don’t, don’t have the rest of their lives to spend, do they?
Other places to avoid in Morrowind include: the dunmer strongholds, which look nice and peaceful from the outside but are usually full of creepy cults and bandits; Velothi towers, which are old-style towers only evil necromancers like to hide in nowadays; and there are also lots and lots of tombs and caves. One word of advice: never ever go into a tomb or a cave, especially anywhere in Morrowind. Dark elves like to summon their ancestors to guard their tombs, so they’re full of horrible ghosts and skeletons. Most caves, on the other hand, are full of bandits, because that’s where they like to hide, and they don’t like being found. Do you know what they do when they’re found? They kill you, that’s what, so just stay away from caves altogether. If you get caught in the rain and need to find shelter, sometimes it’s better to let yourself get drenched.
The best way to survive in Vvardenfell is to stay in cities and towns, above ground, well away from sewers. Make sure to take the siltstrider to get from place to place. Unfortunately, you’ll sometimes find you have to walk when there’s no readily safe transport, because Vvardenfell is still really backwards – they don’t even have horses! My advice in previous volumes, such as the Cyrodil volume stating, “Ride, ride as fast as you can!” doesn’t apply here. If you’re forced to walk anywhere, stick to the roads as much as you can. However, if you ever find you’ve gone down the wrong road or lost your path, here’s how to spot all the dangerous places to avoid.
The daedric shrines in Morrowind are all dedicated to the most terrifying Daedric Princes. I don’t know why, but my guess is because the dark elves are rather twisted folk. They used to worship the baddest of the bad, perhaps because they were scared the Daedric Princes would come to Nirn and wreak havoc if they didn’t. Anyway, dark elves don’t worship daedra anymore, now called the House of Troubles, because the Tribunal Temple recognizes that these Princes are seriously evil. These shrines are still full of evils, from crazy worshipers to wild daedra, who will all kill you if you ever have the misfortune of meeting them.
I’ll list the four Daedric Princes with shrines in Vvardenfell so you realize just how frightening they are:
Malacath is the Daedric Prince of the spurned and the ostracized, the keeper of the Sworn Oath, and the Bloody Curse. He’s supposedly created the orcs, and many orcs still worship him. Most orcs aren’t very nice at the best of times, but the ones eating strange mushrooms, deep in the throes of Malak worship, are the meanest of all. The horrible ogrim are his servants, and you may still see some stomping around his shrines, if you’re unlucky enough to get close to one.
Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric Prince of Destruction. He’s associated with natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and fire. The dark elves are really familiar with this prince’s sphere, since it’s a harsh land with a huge volcano in the center, so they have good reason to be terrified of this Daedric Prince. He has many servants, such as scamps, clannfear, and the dreaded dremora.
Molag Bal is the Daedric Prince of enslavement, and also known as the King of Rape. He’s also the prince of corruption and enjoys causing wars. In other words, he’s absolutely terrifying and his followers should be avoided at all costs. I once read he had something to do with creating vampires as well. The nasty daedroth are his servants. Thankfully, you don’t see them often unless you happen to accidentally fall through a hole in the ground and end up in a long lost daedric shrine. If this ever happens, you’re probably going to die, so be careful not to fall in holes.
Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of madness. He tends to appear as a harmless old man with the sole purpose of confusing people. His servants, the golden saints, are equally confusing because they’re so beautiful, but in truth they’re the most frightening and deadly daedra of all. Not much else is known about Sheogorath, but that’s probably for the best. Not surprisingly, his followers are completely insane. They might kill you, or they might not. It all depends on the kind of mood they’re in, so it’s a good idea to stay away from them entirely just to be on the safe side.
Nearly all the shrines in Vvardenfell are dedicated to one of these four Daedric Princes. Only one of them, the Shrine of Azura, is worth visiting at all. Getting there is probably dangerous as well, so I wouldn’t bother risking your life to see some musty old shrine nobody even worships anymore.
It’s easy enough to spot a daedric shrine from a distance. They mostly look like stone ruins with tall spiny towers, unlike dwemer ruins, which are made of metal and have big pointy towers. Dwemer ruins are not safe either, but they’re safer to pass by than daedric ruins because the horrors are mainly contained inside. The first thing you’ll notice as you approach a daedric ruin is something coming at you hurling balls of magic and roaring. If you’re ever in the mountains and notice the rocks have strange patterns on them, look around, and once you’ve picked out the general direction of the ruin, run in the opposite direction as fast as you can!
Nobody really knows how the dwarves disappeared, but they left a lot of nasty things behind. Dwemer ruins can be spotted by their large pointed towers. Dwarves were good at working with metal, so their towers have a lot of great big metal bits and pipes stuck all over them. They’re usually safe enough from the outside, but inside they’re terrifying. They left their centurions guarding the place, set to attack all intruders before they disappeared. Since the dwarves are gone, there’s no one left to tell these nasty machines to stop going around killing everything in sight.
I spoke to a crazy adventurer once, who told me about all the kinds of dwemer centurions. There are little spidery ones that shoot poison at you, bigger rolling ones that carry pointy swords, and huge nasty ones that have one great big whumping arm that will crush you dead in an instant. Many of these still wander around inside the ruins, because the dwarves were amazing engineers who built things to last forever, which is unfortunate for the rest of us still living on Nirn. Apparently dwarven ghosts also wander around their ruined cities, and they are very angry. These ghosts like to hurl spells at you, and are immune to most weapons.
My advice to anyone who comes across a dwemer ruin is to keep walking. They’re perfectly harmless from the outside, so don’t ever go inside one. Think of them as a big trap, trying to lure you with its promises of fine dwarven loot, which you won’t fall for because you’re smarter than that.
These strongholds are big. They’re really big. They’re big enough to hold enough members of evil death cults and bandits to form their own armies. Think of them as cities of pure evil. They even look evil. Dunmer strongholds are huge dark fortresses squatting on the ground like great big beasts that will swallow you up whole if you get too close to them. They look similar to the cantons in Vivec or Molag Mar, but more evil and menacing. The thought of an entire city of evil sends shivers up my spine. The people of Vvardenfell really need to get their act together and send in armies to clear these places out. Then they could turn them into big fancy cities, with inns with huge marketplaces, and then Vvardenfell might actually be a nice place to visit.
Unfortunately, that will probably never happen, so don’t ever go near a dunmer stronghold. They have great big platforms on the top, frequently occupied by nasty people who will kill you on sight. There are hostile people inside and out. You probably wouldn’t even make it to the door before you’re killed. They could be full of bandits, insane cultists, or worse. I’ve heard tales of people who’ve been turned into horrible monsters, who worship an ancient evil dunmer called Dagoth Ur, who is supposedly sitting around Red Mountain planning the end of the world and causing all the blight that’s been plaguing Morrowind.
Writing all this down gives me the willies, and I’m probably giving you the willies too, so I’m going to stop talking about this and move on to the next section.
You might be walking along the road when you spot something that looks like a Tribunal Temple. You might say to yourself, “Hey I need a few more scrolls of Almsivi Intervention,” (which are really handy in spiriting you away from the horrible dangerous places you might accidentally stumble upon) “I think I’ll stop over and pick a few up!” Well, don’t be fooled. Tribunal Temples are only found in cities. Is this temple located in a city? No? It’s in the middle of the wilderness, you say! Don’t go in there! It’s not a temple at all; it’s an ancient Velothi tower full of skeletons and necromancers!
The Ashlanders are probably nice people for the most part, but they really don’t like other people very much. The people in the big Ashlander camps probably won’t kill you. They might even trade with you for supplies. The small Ashlander camps, on the other hand, are full of outcasts who like to rob and kill people who happen to pass by. If you are traveling though the Ashlands or the Grazelands and you see one or two yurts (those are the big tents they like to live in) or a couple people huddling near a fire, don’t go near them! Alter your course so you stay well away, and try not to be seen. These people are almost 100% guaranteed to be hostile. They will not want to share their fire, or trade with you, or let you sleep in their tent for the night. They will kill you, loot your corpse, and leave your body for the rats to eat.
The Regions of Vvardenfell
Some regions in Vvardenfell are more dangerous than others. Not even the roads are safe in some areas, as they often lead to dead ends and really dangerous places. Here I will tell you which regions to avoid, and which are a little more safe to travel through.
You can travel to most places by siltstrider or boat. The siltstrider is fairly safe, since the caravaners are all good with a bow and can shoot down any cliff racers trying to attack from above. Boats are fairly safe as well, as long as you don’t put a single toe in the water. The oceans around Vvardenfell are full of slaughterfish that will eat you alive!
The Ascadian Isles
This is one of the few pleasant regions of Vvardenfell. There are plenty safe roads, because there’s a good Imperial presence here. There are many farms and plantations around here, and the towns aren’t too far apart from each other. You might encounter the odd rat or nix-hound on the road, so bring a friend if you have to travel by foot. Those nix-hounds are pretty nasty. You might also encounter a few cliff racers, which are great big, squawking, flapping, death from above. If you see great big floating things, those are called netches, and the big ones are harmless. Don’t get close to the little ones though. Those are betty netches, which are fairly aggressive.
The biggest city in Vvardenfell is Vivec. It’s easy to get lost in Vivec, and the underworks are pretty dangerous. Stay up above, and you’ll be fine. The place is guarded well by Ordinators, but they’re probably the meanest guards you’ll ever meet, so try to stay well out of their way. Suran is a smaller town, much nicer since it’s not so easy to get lost in. It has some great inns and taverns. You can get to both by boat or siltstrider.
The Bitter Coast
This place is mostly swamps, filled with rats, nix-hounds, mudcrabs, and cliffracers. Mudcrabs are quite slow and stupid, so they’re easy to run away from. They’re usually carrying some pretty nasty diseases. Actually, most of the creatures in Vvardenfell are carrying horrible diseases, so the less contact you have with them the better.
The Bitter Coast is not as dangerous as some places, but it’s still pretty nasty. Its only redeeming feature is it’s fairly close to the nicer regions of Vvardenfell, so you can get away from there quickly. If you’re dropped off by boat in Seyda Neen from the mainland, make your way to Balmora or somewhere nicer as soon as you can. Seyda Neen has a siltstrider, so you can get away from there safely and quickly.
The West Gash
This area is fairly civilized in the south, but gets wilder as you go further north. As you near the mountains, you’ll have to watch out for cliff racers. Most of the towns in this region have siltstrider transport, with the exception of Caldera. However, this town has a guild guide at the Guild of Mages, and another guide at the Guild hall in Balmora. It’s probably the safest way to travel, so don’t ever walk to Caldera.
Balmora and Caldera are two of the safest cities in Vvardenfell. They have nice big walls and lots of guards to protect the place. Balmora has plenty of good inns and taverns as well. You could live your whole life in Balmora and never have to venture anywhere dangerous at all.
This region is very dangerous. It’s full of mountains, and you know what that means? Cliff racers are everywhere! They even fly into town sometimes, and the guards have to kill them before they carry off small children. The Ashlands is a great big barren land filled with ash storms and blight. I wouldn’t recommend going there ever, but if you need to go to Ald’ruhn or some other town, they do at least have siltstriders that can take you there safely, and there’s also a guild guide at the Mages Guild.
Ald’ruhn is not a very nice place though. The Redoran are unfriendly people, and the city is constantly bombarded by ash storms. Never ever travel by foot in the Ashlands. There’s really nowhere worth going to that you can’t get to by transport. Everywhere else is really dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Red Mountain is sealed off by the Temple, because that’s where all the blight and other evils come from. The Temple built a giant fence around the place called the “Ghostgate” presumably because they’re using the ghosts of their ancestors to power the magical fence and keep all the evil inside, but the evil still manages to leak out into all the surrounding areas. Red Mountain sits like a great big boil in the center of the Ashlands. Stay as far far away from this place as possible.
Apparently the Tribunal Temple has a pilgrimage site at the Ghostgate, so I would suggest you stick to the Imperial Cult, which is much safer. At least they don’t send you to the most evil place in Nirn to go have a looksee.
This region is just like the Ashlands, except with more mountains, boiling lava lakes, ash storms, and blight. There is nowhere worth visiting in this region, except maybe Molag Mar, but this town has proper transport, so you can go there without ever setting foot in Molag Amur itself.
This is the entire eastern coastline of Vvardenfell, which is dotted with lots of islands. There are lots of strange mushroom trees all over the place, and the crazy Telvanni build their houses out of them. Most of the towns around here are only accessible by ship, and they’re all run by the Telvanni. The Telvanni is the dunmer Great House full of ancient wizards, and they’re all mad as loons, every one of them. They’re not very friendly either.
The Empire built a fortress in their biggest city Sadrith Mora, only because they had to as a condition of the armistice. You can tell they don’t really want to be there, and even the Imperial guards are too scared to poke their heads out of the fort and venture into the mad mushroom town.
I traveled there once by guild guide, because there’s a Guild of Mages in Wolverine Hall, and I even dared to venture into Sadrith Mora itself, because I was feeling really brave that day. Anyway, one of the Telvanni guards started yelling at me about a guest pass or something, so I ran back to Wolverine Hall as fast as I could and never ventured outside again for the whole trip.
This region is really pretty, but it’s also one of the most dangerous regions of all. In a way, it’s kind of like a golden saint. Really beautiful, completely deadly, but promises the finest loot you can imagine (if you actually manage to survive the encounter). In other words, it’s not for ordinary people like you and me. Only crazy wizards, heroes, and tough as nails Ashlanders dare wander around a place like that.
The Grazelands is home to many grazing animals, and by grazing animals, I don’t mean fluffy sheep and docile cows. By grazing animals, I mean wild guar, alit, and kagouti, which are all great big bitey two-legged lizards of death. The kagouti even have great big goring horns on their heads. If you ever find yourself face to face with one of these, run as fast as you can! Worse yet, there’s apparently a ton of daedra just roaming around wild and out in the open around here.
There are no towns really worth visiting in this region. Vos is a poor farming village, and Tel Vos is a crazy wizard tower that only crazy people would want to visit.
A friend of mine once dared me to visit Tel Vos because he said I couldn’t call myself an adventurer anymore if I refused to go on adventures. So I went to Tel Vos, because I heard Master Aryon is one of the nicest Telvanni around, but in reality he’s just as mad as the rest.
Master Aryon’s tower is a big twisty-turny labyrinth, filled with angry ghosts, daedra, and dwemer centurions he built himself. I was attacked by a ghost, and tried to hit it, which made the guards angry for some reason, so I had to run. I never did get to meet Master Aryon, because he lives in a huge mushroom in the sky above the tower, and I never use levitation spells because I’m terrified of heights. I think I far prefer living in Cyrodil, because levitation is banned there.
This region is an archipelago of the northern sea. There is a small Nordic settlement called Dagon Fel, but it’s hardly worth noting. The rest of the region is full of angry daedra, evil necromancers, and crazy hermits. It really lives up to its name, you know, being named after Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of the looney bin. I can’t think of a single reason for any sane person to visit the place.
Thus concludes my volume on dangerous places to avoid in Vvardenfell, which happens to be most of them. I hope you join me next time as I take you to far away places in the comfort of your own home and tell you where never to go. In my next volume, I will be visiting Valenwood, and not Solsthiem as I previously promised. I’ve heard a lot of stories about Solstheim and they’re all bad. I also happened to get my fill of nords while visiting Skyrim, which is detailed in volume IV of my series, Dangerous Places and How to Avoid Them.
I hear tell Solstheim is a cold barren little island rife with giant bears, wolves, and crazy naked nords who keep them as pets. There are practically no civilized towns to speak of. Unless you’ve taken a post in the East Empire Trading Company, and are forced to go there, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.