Morrowind is a legendary game amongst RPG fans. It’s personally my favorite video game of all time. But it has something of a notorious reputation amongst newcomers.
The only thing more legendary than Morrowind itself is its complete lack of handholding. The tutorial ends with a literal “You’re on your own now. Good luck!” message. If your first Elder Scrolls game is Skyrim, you’re in for quite a rude awakening. And most likely, a quick death by way of mudcrab after missing 75 swings with your Iron Sparksword.
Unlike Skyrim’s heavily streamlined character-building system, Morrowind is significantly more complex, and our build is extremely important. If you want to have fun, that is.
I can tell you from experience that an unsatisfactory build in Morrowind is enough to make you want to restart the game with a new character. And that’s fine if you’re 45 minutes in. But if you’re 10 or 20 hours in before you realize you screwed up badly, that’s a lot more annoying.
While I would love for players to dive into Morrowind blind and experience the game from a completely fresh perspective, I can’t deny that its relative lack of approachability (Compared to modern games) causes a lot of gamers to shy away from this masterpiece. And that’s not what I want.
So if it’s Morrowind character build advice you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’ll be going over the best possible character builds in Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind.
But before we can get to the meat and potatoes, we first need to go over the basics of what makes up a character’s build.
There are ten races to choose from in Morrowind. Each race has unique racial bonuses, including starting spells, resistances, or once-per-day powers. Each also has skills that they possess a natural affinity for. The UESP will be your best friend for many things, including understanding all the differences between races.
Some races thrive with magic, Bretons, and High Elves, while others are best-suited for melee combat like Nords and Redguards. Other races have a knack for stealthing around, like Wood Elves and Argonians, and some races, like Dark Elves and Imperials, are hybrids that are competent in all areas.
It’s important to note that all races have different Attribute spreads depending on the gender you choose. Female members of most species tend to have better Personality and Intelligence. Male members of most species tend to have superior Strength, Endurance, and Agility.
Bretons and High Elves stand out as the best races for magic characters, as both are the only races in the game that start with a magicka multiplier bonus.
Playing Morrowind as a kid, it was really cool seeing these pre-made classes with these cool-sounding names like Nightblade, Battlemage, and Witchhunter. But once you start playing Morrowind and understanding it, you quickly realize most pre-made classes are absolute trash, and only a few are passable at best.
Ignore all pre-made classes. Maybe do the class quiz once to experience it. But if you want to make a good character build, or as is the case in this guide, the best character build, you need to create a custom class. And there are a lot of things that go into making one.
Your custom class’s Specialization can be Combat, Magic, or Stealth. Depending on which one you choose, all skills that fall under that Specialization will gain a +5 level bonus and only need 80% of normal experience points to level up.
Now, you might be thinking specializations are a no-brainer; pick the one that matches your preferred method of combat. And yes, that can and does work well in most scenarios. But there’s another option.
There are a few skills you should train, no matter what your preferred combat style. Speechcraft, Mercantile, and Security are a few that come to mind. That’s successfully swaying people in conversation, getting better deals from merchants, and opening up locks and disarming traps (Magical characters can mostly ignore Security if they use Alteration).
All three skills fall under the Stealth category. Even if you’re a Combat or Magic character, it wouldn’t be a half-bad idea to pick Stealth as your Specialization since they level up slowly without seeking out trainers.
There are eight primary Attributes in Morrowind: Strength, Endurance, Agility, Speed, Personality, Willpower, Intelligence, and Luck. Each Attribute except Luck governs 3-5 skills. They also affect numerous gameplay elements, like movement speed, how much health you gain when you level up, weapon hit chance, and maximum magicka. The two you select as your Favorite Attributes get a +10 bonus.
Many players choose Luck as one of their Favorite Attributes since you can only increase Luck by 1 point per level up. Each Attribute except Luck governs 3-5 skills. When you level up your character, you get a level-up multiplier for each Attribute depending on how many times you’ve increased one of the governed skills of said Attribute.
Each skill level-up increases your level-up multiplier by 0.5 up to a maximum of a 5X multiplier with ten skill increases. Since Luck governs no skills, you cannot receive a multiplier. With every other Attribute, you can. That extra +10 headstart can go a long way.
Numerous players select Speed as one of their Favorite Attributes since your beginning movement speed is very slow. Said slow movement speed gets worse the more you carry since Encumbrance affects your movement speed too. However, I would not recommend selecting Speed. It’s a minor flaw you can quickly fix with items like the Boots of Blinding Speed.
Birthsigns grant your character powers or buffs to Attributes, abilities, spells, or magicka. Some birthsigns, however, also have negative effects.
Birthsign buffs are permanently active, but the birthsigns that give your characters powers are essentially useless since you can only use powers once per day. The only exception is The Lover, which gives you a power and a permanent buff (Which happens to be one of the best).
Your Major Skills are the skills you will use the most. In theory, at least. You can choose five skills to be your Major Skills.
Before factoring in racial bonuses or your Specialization, every skill starts at level 5. Selecting a skill as one of your Major Skills gives it a +25 level bonus. All Major Skills also only require 75% of the normal amount of experience points to level up.
The obvious skills to select as Major Skills are your primary weapon/Magic attack type (Or Unarmed) and armor type (Or Unarmored. Though if you are playing Morrowind without community fixes, don’t pick Unarmored as it doesn’t work properly).
As mentioned under the Specialization section, picking skills like Speechcraft, Mercantile, or Security as possible Major Skills is a good idea since they level up slowly.
Minor Skills are your second most-used skills (In theory). These skills level normally, but get a +10 bonus.
What’s important to remember is that Major and Minor Skills are the only skills you can use to level up your character. After leveling up any Major or Minor Skills ten times, your character can go to sleep and level up. All leveling up Miscellaneous Skills does is increases your Attribute level-up multiplier.
Like with Major Skills, fill out your Minor Skills with skills you plan on using frequently. Secondary weapon types or Schools of Magic tend to go here.
Watch Out for Overleveling
Now before we get into the best builds themselves, there’s one last thing we need to talk about. And that, my friends, is overleveling.
You might wander along the Telvanni coast, stumble into an ancestral tomb, and walk right into a powerful necromancer’s clutches at level 1. But that’s not a common occurrence. You stumbled into a high-level area with an enemy with a set higher level. But generally speaking, the enemies you encounter will differ depending on your level.
At level 1, you’ll see a lot of rats, mudcrabs, and scribs. The stronger your character becomes, the stronger the enemy types you will run into, and at greater frequencies. That scamp lurking outside that Daedric Ruin before might now be a Golden Saint.
Numerous skills in Morrowind are extremely easy to level, especially as Major Skills, namely Athletics, Acrobatics, and Alchemy. If you level up your character too quickly, you might fill the world up with enemies that you are not yet ready to deal with regularly or at all.
So, a word of advice: Don’t overlevel.
Best Morrowind Builds
Best Combat Build
- Race: Redguard/Nord/Orc/Dark Elf
- Specialization: Combat/Stealth
- Favorite Attributes: Agility, Endurance/Strength/Luck
- Birthsign: The Lover/The Lady/The Atronach
- Major Skills: Long Blade/Blunt Weapon, Speechcraft, Heavy Armor, Armorer, Security
- Minor Skills: Alchemy, Block, Blunt Weapon/Long Blade/Axe/Spear, Marksman, Restoration
Redguards make for the best Combat characters in Morrowind. They have a +15 Long Blade racial bonus, and if you pick Combat Specialization and Long Blade as a Major Skill, it will start at level 50. Long Blades are also the most common weapons in Morrowind, so players will never run short of weapons to use.
They also have the powerful Adrenaline Rush power, which can get you out of a bind whether you’re an hour or 100 hours into a playthrough. Redguards also possess 75% resistance to both common diseases and poisons. Poison isn’t a huge issue, especially not early on, but the common disease resistance comes in handy.
The best secondary race options would be Nords, Orcs, and Dark Elves. Nords have immunity to Frost and 50% Shock Resist, making them very effective for taking on mages. They prefer Axes and Blunt Weapons over Long Blades but are effective with all three. Orcs are the most defensive race option for Combat characters, with racial bonuses for Armorer, Block, and Armor skills and less for weapon skills. They also Resist Magicka by 25%. If you want to play on the safer side, you might want to use an Orc.
Dark Elves have 75% Resist Fire, which comes in handy in Morrowind, and they are handy with a Long Blade. As a jack-of-all-trades race, you’ll need to build them up more than the other races, but they’re still effective.
Agility is the best Favorite Attribute for a Combat build since Agility affects how often you hit. Early on, how often you hit is far more important than how hard you hit since most enemies have little HP. And also because Nords and Orcs have below average Agility and Redguards and Dark Elves have slightly above average Agility.
Keeping with that theme, The Lady is a strong birthsign candidate for the +25 Agility. The next best options would be The Lady or The Atronach. Male Redguard and Dark Elves and Orcs and Nords of both genders have below-average Personality, a problem The Lady fixes. The +25 Endurance will also allow your Melee characters to take more hits, so what’s not to love?
After Agility, Strength, Endurance, or Luck are your best second Favorite Attribute options. Go Strength if you want more offense, Endurance if you want more Defense, or Luck because it’s a pain to level (I personally use Fortify Luck enchantments to deal with this).
The best tech/advanced player option for a birthsign is the Atronach. Stunted Magicka means nothing to a Combat character, and 50 points of Spell Absorption is exceptionally useful. Nords with The Atronach can essentially toy with enemy mages most of the time.
Combat characters are the simplest in Morrowind, so you have a lot of room to experiment with regarding Major/Minor Skills. Pick Long Blade or Blunt Weapon as your primary weapon skill as a Major Skill, then a second weapon type as a Minor Skill (You don’t want to max out both your weapon skills too quickly by making them both Major).
Spears take some getting used to due to their slow attack speed, but they have the most reach of any weapon type. If you despise the infamous Cliff Racer, these are the best for dealing with them and their guardbreaking antics. Axes are fun too. If you want a long-range option but don’t want to use magic skills, pick Marksman. Just be aware that Marksman is a little janky, especially at low levels. It’s a far cry from Stealth Archers of Skyrim legend.
Heavy Armor is the way to go for Combat types except possibly Dark Elves. Bethesda did Medium Armor dirty in Morrowind, as it’s significantly worse than Heavy or Light Armor. Pick Armorer to effectively keep your weapon and armor conditionings up instead of spending a fortune on repairs at blacksmiths.
Speechcraft and Security are musts for dealing with people, locks, and traps. Every character should have Alchemy as at least a Minor Skill. Player-made potions can have greater magnitudes, longer durations, more effects, and weigh less than NPC-made potions. There’s no reason not to pick it.
The rest of the skills are largely up to you. I like to roleplay as a Paladin or Holy Knight and pick skills like Restoration and Enchant. If you pick The Atronach, you can use your Magicka pretty much exclusively on your Restoration spells. Many Restore spells are relatively cheap and easier to come by than their respective Alchemy ingredients (At least for a while).
Best Magic Build
- Race: Breton, High Elf, Dark Elf
- Specialization: Magic/Stealth
- Favorite Attributes: Willpower, Intelligence/Luck
- Birthsign: The Atronach/The Mage/The Apprentice
- Major Skills: Destruction, Blunt Weapon/Long Blade, Heavy Armor/Unarmored, Speechcraft/Illusion, Alteration/Security
- Minor Skills: Alchemy, Enchant, Mysticism, Conjuration, Restoration
They best Magic races in Morrowind are identical to the best Magic races in Skyrim. Bretons are the best race for anyone seeking to play as a Magic character. They possess skill bonuses in every Magic skill except Destruction and Enchant and have a native 0.5 Magicka multiplier.
Bretons also have an innate 50% Resist Magicka ability, making them ideal for taking on other mages. Their once-per-day Dragon Skin power gives them 50 points of Shield for a minute, which is useful since Magic races are physically weak.
The next best races for Magic characters are High Elves and Dark Elves. High Elves possess the highest native Magicka multiplier at 1.5X. However, this benefit comes with the downside of High Elves having 25% weaknesses to Frost and Shock and 50% weaknesses to Magicka and Fire.
They resist Common Disease by 75%, which is nice, but I don’t recommend playing as a High Elf on your first playthrough. High Elves gain skill bonuses in all magic skills except Restoration and Mysticism.
The last option for Magic characters is Dark Elves. They do possess a nice +10 bonus in Destruction and +5 in Mysticism. If you were looking to make a hybrid Mage, they would be better suited for it than Bretons or High Elves.
Willpower is the best Favorite Attribute option for Magic characters, as Willpower affects the spellcasting success rate. Next would be Intelligence, as it increases your maximum Magicka. Both Bretons and High Elves suffer from low Endurance, Strength, and Speed. You’re betting off offsetting those innate flaws with potions, enchanted items, and Restoration spells than attempting to fix them via Favorite Attributes.
The best birthsign for Magic characters is easily The Atronach. With it, Bretons are probably the most Magic-resistant characters in Morrowind and have a ton of Magicka.
The stunted Magicka is barely an issue. If you want to play it safe, The Mage gives a 0.5X Magicka bonus without any drawbacks. Magic players looking for a challenge sometimes choose The Apprentice, which gives a 1.5X Magicka multiplier and a 50% Weakness to Magicka. Like with High Elves, I only recommend this to veteran players.
As for which Magic skills to use, it depends on what kind of Mage you’d like to play. Conjuration will allow you to summon minions and Daedric weapons to a fight (Just remember you still need to be proficient in a weapon type to use these effectively). Illusion’s Charm spells get around the need for Speechcraft or Mercantile, though they have high Magicka costs, which is annoying early on (Especially if you choose The Atronach).
I’d recommend picking Destruction as a Major Skill for every Magic character. Low-level Destruction spells hit hard, have low costs, and low failure rates.
These spells are effective at punching up at enemies early on. As you progress through the game, Mysticism becomes more appealing since you can use it to Absorb Health, Magicka, Fatigue, and Drain Attributes. Mysticism also has invaluable teleportation spells like Mark and Recall, Almsivi Intervention, Soultrap, and Telekinesis.
Alteration is necessary for Open spells in replacement of Security and also enables things like Waterwalking and Waterbreathing. Restoration is vital for restoring Health, Magicka, Fatigue, and Attributes (Which are necessary once you start running into bonewalkers) as well as curing diseases. Later in the game, you can use Restoration to give yourself massive Attribute buffs via Fortify spells.
Many mages like to use Heavy Armor to offset their fragility. Others prefer to use Unarmored and run around in robes to keep things thematic. If you choose the second option, download the Morrowind Code Patch, as Unarmored is bugged in vanilla Morrowind and doesn’t work properly.
As a fallback option, I still like using a weapon type, even as a mage. Blunt Weapons make the most sense since, you know, staves. But you could also use Long Blade since they’re so common.
Best Stealth Build
- Race: Wood Elf, Imperial, Khajiit, Argonian, Dark Elf
- Specialization: Stealth
- Favorite Attributes: Agility, Personality/Endurance/Luck
- Birthsign: The Lady/The Lover/The Atronach
- Major Skills: Speechcraft, Short Blade, Security, Light Armor, Sneak
- Minor Skills: Mercantile, Alchemy, Mysticism, Long Blade/Marksman, Illusion
Stealth characters are the quirkiest to play in Morrowind, as Stealth is a bit jank. The best race for it would be the Imperials.
Imperials have strong innate bonuses for Speechcraft, Mercantile, and Long Blade and a decent +5 bonus for Light Armor. They also have a 25-50 Point Charm power you can use once per day, so you virtually will never need to worry about Speech checks. Their only major problem is their low Agility, which you can fix with The Lady.
Wood Elves are second-best overall and arguably first-best if you want to be a ranger. They sport a massive +15 Marksman bonus, +10 Sneak, +10 Light Armor, and even +5 in Alchemy. The relative jankiness of Marksman is made worse by having it at a low level, something you can avoid with Wood Elves.
If playing as a Wood Elf, one could argue putting Marksman as a Major Skill instead of Short Blade. Wood Elves also resist Common Diseases by 75%, which is a nice bonus.
Argonians are your best bet if you want to play as a sneaky mage. They have +5 bonuses to Mysticism, Illusion, and Alchemy. Their Poison and Common Diseases Resistances are useful, but they can’t wear helmets or boots since they’re a beast race.
Of all the three Specializations, Stealth might be the one Dark Elves are best at. With a +10 bonus to Short Blade and +5 bonuses to Light Armor, Marksman, and Mysticism, they are right at home being sneaks or magical sneaks.
The last Stealth race is the Khajiit. Khajiit have Stealth for you. While I still recommend never picking Acrobatics or Athletics as Major Skills (Or even Minor Skills), Khajiit’s innate +15 Acrobatics means they quickly get to a point where they can jump high and take little to no fall damage.
That means they can navigate terrains in ways other races can’t. The downside to Khajiit is their other skill bonuses are only +5. They do have useful ones like Security, Short Blade, Light Armor, and Sneak, but they definitely could be higher. Like Argonians, Khajiit cannot wear helmets or boots.
For Favorite Attributes, go with Agility first. Agility affects weapon hit chance, as well as evasion, pickpocket success, picklocking success, and sneak success. Your second Favorite Attribute depends on your race. Imperials have free reign on the second one, but Endurance is a good idea for Wood Elves, Argonians, and Khajiit, as they all have low Endurance. Personality is a solid second option for those Dark Elves and Argonians, as they rank low in that Attribute.
For birthsigns, The Lover is best for Imperials to offset their low Agility. The Lady fixes Personality or Endurance issues and is best for every other recommended race. If playing as a Stealth mage, you may want to pick The Atronach instead.
For skills, Speechcraft and Security are a must. Mercantile and Sneak are good to have, but if you plan on using Illusion often, you don’t need them due to Charm, Chameleon, and Invisibility spells. Being a ranger in Morrowind is not nearly as fun or as efficient as it is in Skyrim, so even if you are a Wood Elf, I recommend a melee option.
Short Blades are your best bet since they’re lightweight and have high attack speed. Long Blade is the best secondary option. For armor, Light Armor is your natural choice. Alchemy is a must, as usual, and Mysticism is handy for Telekinesis spells. You can use it to steal goodies from far away and to spring traps from a distance.
Question: Which is the most fun build to play in Morrowind?
Answer: Definitely Combat. Stealth and Magic take some time to get going, Stealth due to jankiness, and Magic due to high Magicka costs and high failure chances for higher-level spells for a while. With Combat builds, you just smash things until they stop moving. It’s simple but fun. The Fighters Guild questline reflects this very well.
Question: What is the best Hybrid build?
Answer: Hybrid builds aren’t as easy to define as Combat, Stealth, or Magic. They’re largely up to the player and more about having fun. Unlike in Skyrim, Morrowind is NOT a game where you can join every guild and organization in existence.
Unlike Skyrim, you actually need to be proficient at the preferred skills of a guild or organization to climb their ranks. It’s arguably more fun sticking to archetypes. Hybrid builds are better for veteran players who know which groups they want to join and what their preferred skills are. For your first playthrough, stick to the classic archetypes.
Question: What are the worst races in Morrowind?
Answer: Khajiit and Argonians. You can get around High Elves’ weaknesses to Magic, but you can’t do anything about Khajiit and Argonians being unable to wear helmets or boots. There are a lot of incredible items in those two armor slots that these races can never use. Despite fan popularity, Morrowind is not their best game.
Elder Scrolls Morrowind Best Build: Conclusion
Morrowind is definitely more complicated than the average modern game, and certainly more complex than Skryim. But it’s not nearly as hard to get into as I feel a lot of new-generation gamers think it is.
We all know the meme. You go into Morrowind blind and pick up an axe you find in a tree stump. You go off to fight a mudcrab with an Axe skill of 5, and you miss said mudcrab 100 times. Then you ragequit and say this game sucks. Yes, Morrowind sucks when your skills are at low levels. But that’s a problem you easily solve within a few hours, but since most people give up within 60 minutes, they never find that out.
Now that you know what the best builds in Morrowind are, you are better equipped for handling this 20-year-old RPG masterpiece. After you get over the initial hurdle of character building, it’s only up from here. Take it from someone who has put entirely too much time into Morrowind: Most of the fun comes from just wandering around and seeing what happens. And that’s something I think new-generation gamers can get behind.