Adventures in Mesh Replacers

Well, I did the thing I said I’d never do: I tried out a character mesh/texture replacer mod for Morrowind. I had decided that the faces in the Races Redone mod looked pretty good and were very true to the style of the original faces, so a lot of the original feel/character seemed like it was preserved.

However, I did not like the hairs at all. I much preferred the Vanilla hairs. I just about spat out my drink when I saw Aryon’s new “haircut”…

This is actual footage of Steen coming back from adventuring, and seeing (and reacting to) Aryon’s terrible new haircut that makes him look like he’s a 5 year old child about to go to get a family portrait:

I wasn’t a huge fan of Aryon’s old dorky-ass haircut, to be quite honest. But this… Peewee Herman monstrosity of a haircut was… irredeemable. Don’t get me wrong, it is gorgeously rendered, and absolutely 10000x better than anything I could make a mesh for. I just feel like it doesn’t quite have the same feel as the original, and it looks like it was made with a much younger character in mind. Which, given how few hairs there are to choose from in Morrowind, maybe it was.

The new face is great, though. It is pretty much how I’d always seen him in my mind. The facial tattoos are a bit of creative license here, since the original texture did not have any. But, they’re subtle and such things are common enough in Dunmer society that I don’t mind them.

I didn’t like Steen’s new hair, either. I hated how it was luxurious and flowing and beautiful, because Steen’s hair is none of those things and it never should be. So I suppose maybe she waited too long between haircuts here in this photo:

Again, the face is great, but ugh the hair >:-( no way would Steen be caught dead with hair like that. Or even be willing to maintain it, for that matter.

I also don’t like anybody else’s new hairs, but obviously Steen and Aryon are the most important characters for me to be happy with.

So then I had to go on this mad goose chase to get the vanilla hairs without the ears (because then otherwise he’d have 4 ears), but alas then there was still a problem with the hairs clipping into the new face model, making Aryon and Steen both have bald patches.

Too bad, too, because if not for the clipping, the aesthetic of these new faces plus the vanilla hairs is PERFECT for me. Like, exactly what I was looking for. I thought everybody looked great.

Master Aryon with the new face and Vanilla hair… pretty much exactly what I was looking for, except for the clipping giving him a weird bald patch
Steen with the new face but Vanilla hair. I love this look a LOT. I wish this is how it could be.

So I set out on a gallant mission to tweak all the vanilla (earless) hairs in Blender to solve that clipping problem. But, several hours in, and now I apparently have like 5 different versions of Blender installed (because that’s important for Morrowind meshes… for some reason… I don’t even know anymore), and yet ANOTHER version of Python installed on this machine, non-working .nif files all over the place… it’s a madhouse. I might… I might just go back to Vanilla faces and hairs. Because the clipping is a tiny bit too much to ignore.

And also also… I am partial to the tall rabbit-ears of Vanilla Morrowind mer. These stumpy little Skyrim-style mer ears are not cartoony enough for me, I guess. I’m just too used to all the original meshes and textures, I have trouble adjusting to anything else.

I might have just wasted an entire day on this, because I nuked everything and went back to vanilla meshes and textures. Oh well! It was funny to think of Aryon getting a terrible haircut. Luckily it grew back 😉

Elder Scrolls Mods

Me in an ash storm in Ald’rhun

One of the great things about the Elder Scrolls series is that they are basically built to support mods. This is a good idea for fan and developer alike: it engenders interest, replayability, and fan commitment. This I fully admit.

However, I have mostly just played the vanilla games. I’ve played vanilla Morrowind over and over again. I played vanilla Skyrim for one full playthrough, with a smattering of a few games started up and abandoned.

Side note: I really liked Skyrim, but for some reason it didn’t draw me in again and again like Morrowind did. I dorked around on side quests endlessly, but the moment I killed Alduin was the last time I ever loaded Skyrim. I then went back and re-re-replayed Morrowind. I have my speculations as to why this is, but enough of that.

Telvanni Guard. Yeah I just found random screencaps on my machine for this post.

The first mod I ever installed on an Elder Scrolls game was Tribunal Delayed, for the very reasons I’ve already covered here.

I still vastly prefer the vanilla aesthetic to updates or most mods, and yet I still found myself installing mods after that, so I thought I’d compile my list of mods that I’m using now. I’ve even started installing Skyrim mods, and that seems to have rekindled my interest in the game.

For Morrowind

  • Tribunal Delayed – As discussed above. Delays the events of Tribunal (and the assassins) until you’ve killed Dagoth Ur – as it should be!
  • HD Vanilla Textures – I love the aesthetic of the old game, and I don’t much care how all the textures/skin mods seem to make everybody look like Fabios and Barbies. That’s just weird. So now you can keep the vanilla aesthetic but make everything look cleaner and less muddy. I swear I noticed things like embroidered peacocks on clothing – that were there the whole time – but I never noticed before this mod!
  • Patch for Purists – Fixes legit bugs without actually changing intentional gameplay. Good for purists like me 🙂
  • Uvirith Unleashed – To spiff up Tel Uvirith a bit, in an attempt to get me to finally stop hanging out in Tel Vos all the time a la Seinfeld’s Kramer (or Bojack Horseman’s Todd)
  • Face of the Hortator – I just like the idea of a “terrible aspect of Nerevar” being a mask

For Skyrim (Note that I got Skyrim Special Edition, so all the mods listed will be for that version – it is only fitting, since I’ve purchased Morrowind in at least 3 different forms over the years, so now I’ve purchased Skyrim twice)

  • Practical Female Armor – Seeing women with massive Madonna boob-cones on their their chests just looked plain silly and was a part of the reason why I never wore plate and just gave all plate to Erandur instead. Well, now women will wear regular old plate mail with this mod! No Madonna boob-cones.
  • Spouse’s Freedom – As you might recall from here, I’ve long lamented the fact that spouses essentially got super depressed if you ever moved them into a different house. They’d stop doing their usual cycle, and just refuse to ever leave the house or even TRY to make new friends. Well this mod solves that! Your spouse actually leaves the house and does stuff!
  • Dawnguard Delayed – I never bought Dawnguard before, ON PURPOSE (despite buying the Dragonborn and Hearthfire DLC), so when I found out SE comes with all DLC, I immediately installed this mod