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(Re)installing Morrowind, Pt. 7

Continued from Part 6, or start at the beginning.

Morrowind’s character models have always been… well, terrible, really. Thankfully the modding community stepped up and rebuilt them, so you no longer have to wander Vvardenfell looking like a twisted freak of nature. Updating the character graphics must be done in multiple steps, because the mods are fairly specialized. We have different mods for humanoid bodies, beast-race bodies, textures, heads and hair, clothing, armor, and weapons. Most of those we will cover in this update. Get ready to look your best!

Why These Addons?

There are multiple options available when it comes to most of these graphical upgrades. If you’re already familiar with body and head replacers for Morrowind, you may wonder why I’ve chosen the specific addons that I have. My preference is overall aesthetic consistency, adherence to Morrowind’s original look, ultimate compatibility, and as many “pluginless” (direct replacements without using an .esp file) options as possible in order to seamlessly replace the default graphics in a way that can easily be overwritten later by more complex plugins. Later on, I will delve into the other options available, and by then you will know enough about the game and the modding process to decide for yourself and customize Morrowind closer to your tastes.

A Note About Nudity

You will need to make a decision as to whether or not you want to allow nudity in your game. This is totally a matter of personal comfort level, but I’ll get into the implications just a bit so you know what to expect.

When you kill and loot someone, you can usually just dispose of their corpse, which will loot all their items and make the body disappear (which is usually a good option as memory usage does add up if you accumulate lots of corpses, which, this being an RPG, does happen). When you dispose of a corpse, it vanishes instantly and you never see the naked body you just looted. However, some corpses are important for quests and cannot be disposed, so if you loot everything from them, you will be left with, well, a naked corpse. Depending on location and positioning of the body, this can be awkward. You could just leave clothes on them, but you may really need that extra 2 gold you could get from selling their pants, and you’d still have a corpse lying around. It’s possible to hide these corpses by using the console (press the ~ key, click the corpse, type disable, hit enter, then press ~ again) but if you should need to get them back for some reason, you’ll need to find the dead NPC’s ID and enter a different console command (also, these undisposable corpses can be exploited —no, I’m NOT talking about anything gross— because they function as containers with unlimited capacity, like a chest you can put an unlimited amount of items in. The end result of this is usually an extremely well-dressed dead guy since he will appear to be wearing the most expensive of the armor or clothing you put in his inventory. So, depending on convenience of location, an undisposable corpse may be worth keeping around). However you decide to handle it, just be aware that when looting certain corpses you may be stuck seeing their junk for at least a moment. On another note, I’ve now ensured that this entry will show up in all kinds of wrong Google searches.

As for live NPCs, throughout the game, there are a few naked people here and there, who are kind of meant to stand out (by being, well, naked, so the player will wonder what’s going on). This isn’t all that big of a deal aside from the “I didn’t need to see that” factor. A good example is a barbarian by the side of the road who has been robbed by a witch (actually… there are like 3 of these guys and the story isn’t always that simple). You do his quest, then you go away and never have to see his pasty white butt ever again. But later on, you’ll start seeing random crazy naked people (which is as much as I can say without spoilers). A few appear by the sides of roads, but there are some dungeons that pretty much throw them at you. These places are full of insane, violent nudists who tend to all rush you at once and will chase you pretty far. Thankfully, it’s usually pretty dark in there, but that’s not at all reassuring.

My personal philosophy regarding nudity is to allow it, and deal with the slight, occasional shock factor as being part of realism and immersion. My explanation above reflects this; I have nudity present in my game but, as in real life, I don’t see it much around town and when I do I instantly wonder what’s going on. This makes it all the more shocking when I’m attacked by hordes of naked nutjobs (poor choice of words). Any other person may feel differently; some couldn’t care less either way and simply include it for realism, others don’t want it at all and use the character models with permanent underwear. My one final reason for using nudity in my own game is that I’m looking for a way to handle underwear differently, as something not permanently attached to the character model, that could be added to nude NPCs as a compromise between realism and modesty. Of course then we end up with a situation in which you can murder people and collect their underwear and okay I’m moving on from this topic right now, let’s go install some addons!

Humanoid Races

For the human and elf races, the go-to body replacer is Better Bodies by Psychodog Studios. There are two ways to install: you can use an .exe installer, or if you prefer not to, you can find an archived version downloadable at the bottom of that page. Either one is fine. Just make sure you install the version of the mod with your preferred level of skin exposure. More details are included in the readme that comes with the addon; be sure to read it carefully before you install.

Next, download LizTail’s Fixed BB Meshes. Install by opening the “nude” or “underwear” folder depending on which version of Better Bodies you installed, and copying the files within into Morrowind\Data Files\Textures\bb. Allow all overwrites, of course. These meshes fix the “claw hand” which you will see in my screenshots (as I neglected to install this before taking them) and cause the hands to hang much more naturally.

Start up your game just to make sure everything works right (remember to click Data Files in the launcher and double-click the mod to activate it!), then exit Morrowind and install Westly’s Fit Body Textures. Make sure you install the Hands folder first according to his instructions (in the readme!) and also be sure to pick the version that fits the amount of underwear you chose with Better Bodies. This will further upgrade the look of the textures, and even make the original ugly (like really nasty) underwear look pretty nice. Don’t forget, if you ever change your mind about nudity levels, you will need to reinstall Better Bodies and then reinstall Westly’s textures the same way you did here. Remember to back up your Morrowind folder before making such major changes!

So, here we have our buddy Testdunmer showing off his new physique.

That’s quite an improvement, hm? I also made a Nord (creatively named Testnord) to demonstrate the effect on a lighter skin tone (also, chest hair. The elves apparently Nair themselves so they’re not really the best example of Westly’s attention to detail).

Now our main problem is the heads. Morrowind has tons of available options for head replacers, but for now we will start with Westly’s Pluginless Head Replacer. Download, read the readme, and install. Here’s Testdunmer and his brother-from-another-mother Testnord with their facelifts.

The only thing I don’t quite like about Westly’s Pluginless Head Replacer is that it “calms down” some of the spikier haircuts. At first I wasn’t too sure about the Dunmer losing their lantern-jaws and gaining a more normal face shape, but I decided I liked it. However, if you want them to keep their old head shape, Westly has kindly provided alternate files (that’s why you read the readme before installing!).

Now we’re going to give the same attention to the Khajiit and Argonians.

Beast Races

The best option (in my opinion) for beast race upgrades is LizTail’s New Beast Bodies or the Mature Version. Whichever you choose, it also requires Unique Shadow Pack. Install the shadow pack afterward. Note that the “clean version” of New Beast Bodies doesn’t put underwear on the Khajiit and Argonians; they don’t have undies in the unmodded game, either, just no visible floppy bits, so if you start up your game and see a naked lizard DO NOT PANIC.

Improving the heads of the Khajiit used to be an extreme crapshoot until ashiraniir’s (yes, all lowercase) wonderful Pluginless Khajiit Head Pack came along. It’s a must-have. One of the unadvertised side benefits is the fact that the whole muzzle animates a bit when they talk, not just the jaw. I fell in love with it immediately.

You may notice that, in the screenshot on the right, Testkhajiit has much better pants on. This is because I forgot to take this screenshot of him until after I’d installed the addon after next: Better Clothes. I’ll get to that in a minute.

We still need to upgrade the Argonians, which will take a bit more of a process. There’s no pluginless replacer, and hardly any that stay close to the look of the original heads. After looking around for hours and giving myself an epic headache (har, har) I’ve determined the best thing to do is to use the Argonians from the modular version of Better Heads. Better Heads is itself a decent mod (and I’ll return to it later, as I plan eventually to do a detailed comparison of all head replacers), but many of the heads depart quite a bit from the original designs which is one reason that for now we’re only using the Argonians. They’re pretty close to the originals, if slightly different in color, and they go well with LizTail’s beast bodies.

Download Better Heads from here. Don’t extract it into your Morrowind folder! Unzip it into its own folder and look inside. Copy both the Meshes and Textures folders over to your Data Files folder. You’ll also see a folder called “Better Heads Extras” and inside that will be a folder for the modular race packs. Put only the two files BH_Argonians_F.esm and BH_Argonians_M.esm into your Data Files. Don’t forget to double-click them in the launcher!

I didn’t make a test Argonian to show the before-and-after images (this entry already looks like an ad for a workout video), but instead I decided to make a brand new Argonian character after all this modding, so that we could see the upgraded character generation NPCs. So, we are going through character generation again. Yay!

Everybody looks a lot better! Not happier— this is Morrowind, after all, but far graphically superior to their old selves.

An Alternative

There are many who feel that Better Bodies is long past its prime, and in my constant quest for the “best possible” Morrowind I’ve been keeping a close eye on the development of Robert’s Bodies by Robert, Bahamut, Westly, and Moranar. Robert’s Bodies provides new bodies for every race except Argonians and even has some upgraded heads. It’s gorgeous work and I definitely want you to be aware of it. The reasons I didn’t choose it for this guide, however, are that it’s still unfinished, but mostly because it has some major clipping issues with the majority of armor and clothing mods. The point of this guide is to teach you how to mod Morrowind and eventually have you exploring other mods, and I don’t want to cut you off from a huge number of costume mods you may enjoy. Better Bodies is a more ideal starting point for someone who doesn’t want to be smacked in the face by sudden incompatibilities later. However, I dearly love Robert’s Bodies and I hope people start converting more armor and clothing to fit them.

And now, it’s finally time for…

Better Clothes

What’s the point of having a smooth, ripped Body By Modders when your clothes replace your body parts with their old models? This may sound like the real-life problem of discovering that your jeans seem to have mysteriously dropped a size, but in Morrowind we can fix it without the hassle of exercise. I mean, if we wanted to work out while gaming, we’d be playing Wii Sports or something (as an alternative to Wii Sports you can get Morrowind for the XBox. You will walk at least a mile every day getting up to hit the reset button because the game has yet again frozen. I call it the MorroWorkout).

Anyway, Better Clothes grew over time into a small collection of mods that must be installed in sequence. Start out with the original Better Clothes. Note that you can choose between an installer version and an archive. Install with your preferred method. Use the “no Argonian change” version of the mod: Better Clothes_v1.1_nac.esp (as this is already taken care of by the “Argonian Clothing Choice” option in the Morrowind Code Patch).

Occasionally, upon loading a save or creating a new character, you might be greeted with an error similar to “Not able to find Foot part in BC_shoes.” You can nip this in the bud by downloading these replacement meshes and letting them overwrite.

Next, install LizTail’s Better Clothes .nif Fix, and then More Better Clothes vol I. by Plangkye, including both the main file and the MBC_ArmsFix.rar file from the Additional Files section at the bottom. Then, Better Clothes for Tribunal by Keazen, and finally Better Clothes Bloodmoon Plus by Spirited Treasure (be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and download version 1.5!) and this fix for two pants meshes. Whew!

 

I didn’t include the Khajiit in the above gallery because he’s already wearing Better Clothes in his “after” screenshot.

There is still yet another level of quality available for your clothing (sans robes): Darknut’s Better Clothes Textures. These are truly excellent, and even if they don’t cover every single clothing item, this mod is truly worth having. There are some good comparison screenshots at the download link.

Next time, we will continue our upgrades with robes, armor, and weapons!

5 comments

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  1. Chad

    Hello! Great guide but I’m encountering a problem. At the point of the guide where I download Better Clothes for Tribunal, the plugin file creates an error. Data Files summary section says:

    “Morrowind.esm is required for this file to be loaded, and it has changed since this file was last saved. You might experience problems with the game.

    Tribunal.esm is required for this file to be loaded, and it has changed since this file was last saved. You might experience problems with the game.”

    I also notice the Parent Master are listed as MORROWIND.ESM and TRIBUNAL.ESM instead of morrowind.esm and tribunal.esm like all of my other plugins. So, when I start the application with the plugin selected, I receive the message:

    “One or more plugins could not find the correct versions of the master files they depend on. Errors may occur during load or game play. Check the “Warnings.txt” file for more information

    Continue running executable?”

    The Warnings.txt file says:

    “One of the files that “BetterClothesForTB.esp” is dependent on has changed since the last save.

    This may result in errors. Saving again will clear this message
    but not necessarily fix any errors.”

    What do I need to do to resolve this? Can I provide any more helpful information? Please let me know. Until then, I will ignore this issue and continue with the guide.

    Thanks,

    1. Life in Ink and Pixels

      Hello Chad, and I am terribly sorry but for some reason WordPress marked your comment as spam, so I didn’t see it until now! Those errors are common and can be safely ignored. I’m about to run off to work but you’ve cemented in my mind that I should definitely make a post about common errors and why they occur. Again, sorry for the delay!

  2. Stephen

    Love your guide about Morrowind modding, and cant wait for the next sections to be uploaded.
    Anyway, your link for the Better Clothes for Tribunal file doesnt appear to go to a valid file page. I have tried searching elsewhere online to see if i could find the file somewhere else, but have been unable to

    1. Life in Ink and Pixels

      Thank you for alerting me. I’ve checked out Mod History and it seems like their site may be having problems. For the time being, you can download it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8xjggndvnhkyk3v/BetterClothesForTB.rar?dl=0

      In the next entry I also link to Better Textures for Robes which I’ve also noticed is missing, and that is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/roviyw843m8rlk7/MWBetterTexturesForRobes.rar?dl=0

      Let’s hope this is a temporary issue with the Mod History site, and in the meantime if you find any more that are broken please let me know. I’m glad you are enjoying the guide!

  3. Rudy

    If you encounter this error again as mentioned above:

    “Morrowind.esm is required for this file to be loaded, and it has changed since this file was last saved. You might experience problems with the game.

    Tribunal.esm is required for this file to be loaded, and it has changed since this file was last saved. You might experience problems with the game.”

    The fix is to run Wrye Mash, click on the problem mod in the Mods window and then click on any of the checked master files in the right pane. A SAVE prompt will come up at the bottom and this will update the master file dependencies and should get rid of the errors.

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