Balanced Passive Races and Birthsigns
This mod is a rebalance of the game's races and birthsigns, based on the related portion of BTB's Game Improvements, with each race and birthsign having only permanent abilities rather than powers or spells.
In creating BTBGI, BTB strove to make each race and each birthsign unique, interesting and useful, as opposed to many being generic, mostly indistinguishable clones and some being worse than useless. See BTB's original documentation, included in the archive, where he goes into great detail about his changes and the reasoning behind them.
However, I had two general complaints that this mod seeks to address. These complaints are not specific to BTB's changes - the same issues exist in the vanilla game.
First, a few races have multiple weapon skills and/or multiple armor skills among their skill bonuses. This might make sense in the abstract, especially for a warlike, martial race like the Nords. But in practice, you're likely to only be using one primary weapon type and one primary armor type, which means that, in any given playthrough, the additional weapon and armor skill boosts are wasted.
This mod adjusts the skill boosts as needed to ensure that no race has bonuses to more than one weapon skill (not including Marksman and Hand-to-Hand) or more than one armor skill (not including Unarmored). Racial skill bonuses are not modified from BTB's version except as needed to ensure this, so by and large they're the same as in BTBGI.
I endeavored to make the distribution of weapon and armor skill bonuses balanced, and to choose replacement skill boosts that make sense for the race in question and that are balanced with respect to other races. The archive includes a spreadsheet detailing the skill bonuses for each race in vanilla, BTBGI and this mod, and the skill distribution in each.
My second complaint was that all races (in BTBGI) and many birthsigns have once-a-day powers that are only useful when actively used by the player. Some players, including myself, forget that they have these once-a-day powers, and so the powers end up going unused, and therefore useless.
This mod removes all racial and birthsign powers. (BTBGI had already removed all spells from the races and birthsigns, converting them to either powers or abilities.) Instead new permanent abilities are added, or new effects added to existing abilities, on top of the changes made by BTB.
In selecting the new abilities, my objective was to make each roughly equally useful. In many cases these new abilities will have a significant impact on gameplay, but not so powerful that they break the game. I endeavored to make races and birthsigns even more unique than in BTBGI. Like in BTBGI, none of the races or birthsigns have negative effects (except The Atronach's Stunted Magicka).
In addition, the race descriptions for a few races (Argonian, Bosmer, Dunmer, Imperial, Nord and Redguard) have been updated to adjust or remove text that was no longer accurate given the changes made by this mod.
Note that this mod does not (further) change racial base attributes relative to BTBGI. BTB's base attributes are *very* well balanced, and I saw no need to muck around with them. The archive includes a spreadsheet detailing the base attributes in vanilla and in BTBGI (and my mod).
This section will present a list of racial base attributes, skill bonuses and abilities in this mod. Due to limitations of the text editor, comparison tables are not included here. See the readme in the archive for side-by-side comparisons of abilities between vanilla, BTBGI and this mod, and see the included spreadsheets for comparisons of base attributes and skill bonuses.
For Fortify Maximum Magicka, the boost to the magicka multiplier is 1/10 the magnitude. For example, a magnitude of 20 means that max magicka is increased by 2.0 times intelligence.
Powers in vanilla and BTBGI are not listed here, but are listed in the readme, for the purpose of comparison. Just remember that all racial and birthsign powers have been removed in this mod. Also keep in mind that base attributes have not been changed from BTBGI (and there are no sex differences), and that, like in BTBGI, all skill bonuses are +10.
Changes/additions from BTBGI are in a different color.
Attributes: STR 20, INT 50, WIL 50, AGI 20, SPD 30, END 20, PER 50, LUK 40
Skills: Alchemy, Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchant, Mercantile, Speechcraft
Abilities: Fortify Maximum Magicka 20, Resist Common Disease 75, Reflect 25
The new Reflect effect is powerful, but not game-breaking. Note that The Ritual birthsign now also has Reflect 25; if combined, they would give Reflect 50, which is just as powerful as The Atronach's Spell Absorption 50.
This change will also make you think twice about using offensive magic against Altmer NPCs.
Attributes: STR 30, INT 30, WIL 30, AGI 40, SPD 40, END 40, PER 30, LUK 40
Skills: Alchemy, Athletics, Illusion, Medium Armor, Mysticism, Spear, Unarmored
Abilities: Resist Common Disease 75, Resist Poison 100, Water Breathing, Swift Swim 25, Chameleon 10
The Chameleon effect is a pretty major change, making Argonians even more unique, and providing another incentive to play as one. Argonians lack any stealth-related skill boosts, but 10 points of Chameleon helps make up for that, making a sneaky Argonian character more attractive.
It also makes sense, as some reptiles have the ability to blend in to their environment. In-game, this ability is called Argonian Camouflage.
Note that The Shadow birthsign now also has Chameleon 10; if combined, they will give Chameleon 20, which is quite powerful for a stealth-oriented character.
Attributes: STR 20, INT 30, WIL 30, AGI 50, SPD 40, END 30, PER 40, LUK 40
Skills: Acrobatics, Alchemy, Enchant, Light Armor, Marksman, Sneak, Speechcraft
Abilities: Resist Common Disease 75, Resist Paralysis 100, Sanctuary 20
The new Sanctuary ability gives Bosmer more staying power against non-mages. It also makes Bosmer NPCs harder for *you* to hit. You don't want to be swinging away at them with a weapon skill of 15, and if you have magical alternatives, Bosmer are good enemies to use them on.
Attributes: STR 30, INT 50, WIL 40, AGI 30, SPD 30, END 20, PER 40, LUK 40
Skills: Alchemy, Alteration, Enchant, Illusion, Mysticism, Restoration, Unarmored
Abilities: Fortify Maximum Magicka 10, Resist Magicka 50, Resist Paralysis 75
Resist Magicka does not protect against paralysis, so this change makes Bretons even more defensive. If paralysis is your go-to effect for disabling hostiles, you might want to switch tactics against Bretons.
Attributes: STR 30, INT 40, WIL 30, AGI 40, SPD 40, END 30, PER 30, LUK 40
Skills: Athletics, Conjuration, Destruction, Light Armor, Marksman, Mysticism, Short Blade
Abilities: Resist Fire 75, Resist Blight Disease 75
Having lived in the shadow of Red Mountain for so long, the Dunmer have developed a resistance (but not immunity) to the blight. This makes them unique among the races, and gives them a distinct advantage against blighted creatures.
Attributes: STR 40, INT 30, WIL 30, AGI 30, SPD 30, END 30, PER 50, LUK 40
Skills: Block, Hand-to-Hand, Heavy Armor, Long Blade, Mercantile, Restoration, Speechcraft
Abilities: Resist Shock 75, Restore Fatigue 1
Thanks to high-quality conditioning, Imperials are better able to withstand extended physical exertion than the other races. They can run, swim, jump and fight for longer without getting winded.
With BTBGI, the extra 1 point per second of fatigue regeneration will very likely be enough to be able to run indefinitely without getting tired. Without BTBGI, long-distance running will still wear you out unless you have rather high endurance, but you'll be able to go quite a bit longer.
Attributes: STR 30, INT 40, WIL 20, AGI 50, SPD 50, END 30, PER 20, LUK 40
Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Hand-to-Hand, Light Armor, Security, Short Blade, Sneak
Abilities: Resist Frost 50, Night Eye 25, Jump 8, SlowFall 10
This is a big change for Khajiit players, providing a significant increase in mobility (and decreasing the need for a Levitate spell). Khajiit are cats, after all, who can jump significant heights and always land on their feet.
The magnitude of a Jump effect is the number by which your normal jump height is *multiplied*, so this change means you jump 8 times higher than normal. It also means this has an increasing effect as your Acrobatics skill increases. So if you're wondering about the unusual magnitude (not a multiple of 5), this is why. Magnitude 10 is too much, and I thought 5 wasn't enough.
The Slowfall effect exists to ensure that you don't take falling damage by just jumping vertically and landing at the same height you jumped from.
This change will allow you to bypass the end of the chargen process, by jumping over the wall outside the Census and Excise office. This is bad because you won't be able to save your game until you go talk to Sellus Gravius like you're supposed to. So just proceed through chargen like normal.
Attributes: STR 50, INT 30, WIL 40, AGI 30, SPD 20, END 40, PER 30, LUK 40
Skills: Armorer, Axe, Block, Heavy Armor, Marksman, Mercantile, Unarmored
Abilities: Resist Frost 100, Resist Shock 50, Fortify Attack 20
The Fortify Attack ability fits pretty well with a martial race like the Nords. It can also serve as a substitute for all those weapon skill bonuses that Nords used to have, allowing more effective use of weapons you're not skilled in.
It also perfectly balances out Bosmer's Sanctuary 20. Nord players have an advantage against Bosmer NPCs compared to other player races, and Nord NPCs will present a unique threat to Bosmer players by cancelling out their Sanctuary advantage.
Attributes: STR 50, INT 20, WIL 50, AGI 20, SPD 20, END 50, PER 30, LUK 40
Skills: Armorer, Athletics, Block, Blunt Weapon, Hand-to-Hand, Heavy Armor, Unarmored
Abilities: Resist Magicka 25, Resist Fire 50, Resist Normal Weapons 25, Resist Shock 25
The increase in Resist Fire magnitude and the addition of Resist Shock make Orcs even more of a defensive race, contrasted with Nords who are more offensive with their Fortify Attack. It also balances out the elemental resistances among the races, in my opinion.
Attributes: STR 40, INT 20, WIL 20, AGI 40, SPD 50, END 50, PER 20, LUK 40
Skills: Acrobatics, Armorer, Athletics, Block, Hand-to-Hand, Long Blade, Medium Armor
Abilities: Resist Poison 75, Resist Fire 25, Spell Absorption 15
The Resist Fire can be explained by the Redguards' long occupancy of the scorching deserts of Hammerfell, and I think it further balances out elemental resistances (Resist Fire 75 for Dunmer, 50 for Orcs, 25 for Redguards).
The Spell Absorption effect makes Redguards more unique and gives them an advantage other races don't have. It's mainly a defensive trait, making this martial race of warriors particularly suited to go up against wizards. The magnitude is high enough to be noticeable, without being so high as to be unbalanced.
It would also be quite useful to a Redguard magic user, if you can overcome the Redguards' lack of magicka bonus and low intelligence. A magicka-boosting birthsign would be ideal in this case, especially The Mage which also boosts intelligence. If it's a favored attribute, you can start with an intelligence of 50 and magicka of 100.
Speaking of birthsigns, though, this trait would obviously combine to great effect with The Atronach and its Spell Absorption 50. This wouldn't quite result in Spell Absorption 65, because Spell Absorption isn't additive; it would result in two separate chances to absorb, one at 15% and the other at 50%. But a Redguard Atronach would still be uniquely protected against magic.
This section will list all birthsign abilities in this mod. For a side-by-side comparison with vanilla and BTBGI, see the readme (due to limitations in the text editor).
Like with races, any powers in vanilla or BTBGI will not be listed here, though they are listed in the full readme for the purpose of comparison. Remember that all powers have been removed from this mod. Birthsigns that don't have powers in BTBGI have not been changed in this mod compared to BTBGI, though are still listed here.
Again, changes/additions from BTBGI are in a different color.
Fortify Maximum Magicka 10, Resist Magicka 15
Going further than BTB did, this birthsign now provides the opposite effect of vanilla's Weakness to Magicka, though with a more modest magnitude. It now provides a straightforward boon to mages of all races.
An obvious synergy is with Bretons' Resist Magicka 50 (and to a lesser extent with Orcs' Resist Magicka 25). A Breton Apprentice will have Resist Magicka 65, which is very good protection against non-elemental magic.
In otherwise vanilla Morrowind (i.e. without BTBGI), the Cuirass of the Savior's Hide will bring a Breton up to Resist Magicka 100 constant effect, with or without this birthsign. BTBGI gimps the Cuirass down to Resist Magicka 25, so a Breton with the Cuirass is down to 75 magnitude. This birthsign boosts that to 90. It's possible to acquire Resist Magicka 100 constant effect in regular BTBGI (without this mod), but this mod makes it somewhat easier for a Breton Apprentice, who will need fewer items to pull it off.
Fortify Maximum Magicka 10, Spell Absorption 50, Stunted Magicka
This birthsign has not been changed from BTBGI, but giving it to a Redguard (who now has Spell Absorption 15) has interesting potential. It doesn't quite result in Spell Absorption 65 - rather, it results in two separate chances to absorb, 15% and 50% - but it does provide a Redguard unique protection against magic.
Fortify Personality 20, Fortify Willpower 20, Fortify Acrobatics 10, Fortify Unarmored 10
A few birthsigns now feature skill boosts, and this is one of them. I thought the two affected skills were appropriate for an ability named "Lady's Grace," and the unarmored boost in particular is enhanced by BTBGI, which increases the effectiveness of the unarmored skill.
Fortify Endurance 20, Resist Normal Weapons 15
Synergizes well with the Orcs' abilities. An Orc Lord will have Resist Normal Weapons 40, which is pretty formidable, especially combined with an Orc's magic resistance. Not to mention an endurance of 70, which will result in higher health.
Fortify Agility 20, Resist Paralysis 75
I think the Resist Paralysis effect combines well with Fortify Agility to create a character with unimpeded movement (helpful in a lover). Will combine with a Breton's Resist Paralysis 75 to result in immunity.
Fortify Maximum Magicka 10, Fortify Intelligence 20
Unchanged from BTBGI. Provides a straightforward and more useful boost to a natural mage class, and can also be used to good effect to make a decent magic user of a traditionally non-magic-oriented race, especially Redguards with their Spell Absorption 15.
This is the first of three birthsigns that had no permanent abilities at all in either vanilla or BTBGI. When combined with the Altmer's Reflect 25 it provides Reflect 50, which is quite powerful both defensively and offensively against magic users.
Night Eye 15, Swift Swim 25
This birthsign provides another option for constant Night Eye without having to play as a Khajiit. If you're using a good lighting overhaul, this is a great utility birthsign, freeing you from having to carry around light sources and allowing you to save your magical resources for other spells.
This probably isn't the best birthsign for a Khajiit, as Night Eye 40 is not much more useful than Night Eye 25.
Swift Swim 25 is also a benefit to any player. An Argonian Serpent would be particularly at home in the water: a very speedy swimmer with Swift Swim 50, who can breathe water and see better underwater to boot.
The Shadow is an obvious choice for a stealth-focused character, whether a sneak thief or a backstabber. Chameleon 10 is enough to provide a noticeable benefit when sneaking around, without being game-breaking.
Any race will benefit from this birthsign, but Argonians stand out due to their inherent Chameleon 10. An Argonian with The Shadow will have Chameleon 20, which will greatly enhance their ability to go unseen.
Fortify Speed 20, Feather 100, Fortify Athletics 20
This is perhaps the least creative of the changes from BTBGI in this mod. It just makes The Steed more of what it already was: a speed boost.
Sanctuary 10, Fortify Luck 20
A Bosmer Thief would have Sanctuary 30, and their boosted luck would make their own strikes more likely to connect (among many other benefits). This would make an interesting warrior or archer build, though the luck boost is universally useful.
Detect Animal 200, Detect Enchantment 200, Detect Key 200, Fortify Security 20
This is the ultimate situational awareness birthsign, which is definitely enhanced by Morrowind Code Patch, which allows the Detect Animal effect to also detect NPCs. Now you'll know that there's an NPC behind that door who has enchanted stuff, and those hidden keys in ancestral tombs won't be able to hide from you.
The boost to security is also very useful, especially to a thief character (or to any character who wants to be able to get at locked up stuff without using Alteration magic).
Fortify Attack 10, Fortify Strength 20
The archetypal fighter's birthsign. Makes you a big brute with a big stick who hits like a ton of bricks and can carry lots of loot. That said, the strength boost is universally useful, and would be very convenient for one of the weaker races (Altmer and Bosmer have a strength of 20 now!) to compensate for their weakness. And if you're playing a Bosmer marksman specialist, keep in mind that the damage from marksman weapons, just like other weapons, is modified by strength.
Nords under the sign of The Warrior, benefiting from Fortify Attack 30, will rarely miss with their weapons, and will do more damage with each swing.
This mod requires only Morrowind; it doesn't even require Tribunal or Bloodmoon. However, there are a number of other mods that work very well with this one and that I strongly recommend.
1. Morrowind Code Patch (beta Everybody who plays the vanilla Morrowind engine (i.e. not OpenMW) should be using MCP anyway, but there are a number of patches in MCP that are highly recommended with this mod.
- Attribute uncap: Allows base attributes to be increased beyond 100. Otherwise, attribute boosts from birthsigns would ultimately be wasted.
- Skill uncap: Allows skills to be raised beyond 100. Some birthsigns now include Fortify Skill effects. Without MCP's skill uncapper, those skill boosts would ultimately be wasted once you get to 100 skill, and would reduce your maximum level if the affected skill is a major or minor skill.
- Slowfall overhaul: Fixes a bug where 1 point of Slowfall effect would be enough to eliminate all falling damage, plus fixes a couple other problematic aspects of the Slowfall effect. Without this patch, the Khajiit's inherent Slowfall would eliminate falling damage from any height.
- Detect life spell variant: Gives the Detect Animal spell effect the ability to also detect NPCs (without this patch, it can only detect creatures). This makes the ability from The Tower birthsign much more useful.
2. BTB's Game Improvements - Necro Edit: This mod is based on BTBGI's race and birthsign edits, and using the rest of BTBGI is strongly recommended in order to balance many other aspects of the game. Some changes made by BTBGI fit very well with this mod; for example, it increases the effectiveness of the unarmored skill, making The Lady's unarmored boost more useful.
I recommend the Necro Edit version of BTBGI; be sure to use the "No RAB" BTBGI plugin with this mod.
3. Stealth Improved: Among other things, Stealth Improved reduces the effectiveness of Chameleon in avoiding detection, which works well with this mod's Chameleon abilities for Argonians and those with The Shadow birthsign.
4. Blighted Blight and Creeping Blight: Blighted Blight restores the possibility of catching blight diseases when out in a blight storm, while Creeping Blight implements the possibility of blight storms outside of Red Mountain before the Main Quest is complete. Together, these mods make the Dunmer's inherent blight resistance more useful by making the blight more threatening.
5. Let There Be Darkness and True Lights and Darkness: A good lighting overhaul not only makes the game look much better generally and makes lighting much more realistic, but it's also essential for making the Night Eye effect at all useful. With vanilla lighting, there are very few circumstances in which you would need Night Eye, which would render the Khajiit's (and The Serpent's) constant Night Eye mostly useless.
I use LTBD to lower ambient lighting with TLAD settings, and the "TLAD Lights" MWSE mod to improve light sources.
This mod will conflict with other race and birthsign mods. It's compatible with BTBGI Necro Edit, though you should use the "No RAB" BTBGI plugin, which omits BTBGI's race- and birthsign-related edits.
There are no known issues with this mod, as such; I'm not aware of anything not working correctly. However, there are a few effects that this mod can grant as constant abilities that some people find annoying or undesirable to have as a constant effect, and this is a good place to discuss them.
1. Night Eye: Khajiit have Night Eye 25, and those who choose The Serpent birthsign have Night Eye 15 (those who choose both will have Night Eye 40). With respect to Khajiit, the magnitude has been lowered from BTBGI (which gave them 50 points Night Eye) so well-lit areas shouldn't look too bright.
But some people don't like any permanent Night Eye, and if you're one of them, it's pretty easy to change. Just open the plugin with Enchanted Editor or TESAME, and delete the reference to the spell "eye of night." This will revert the Khajiit special to a spell as in vanilla. For The Serpent, you'll need to edit the "Star-Cursed" birthsign and remove the "necro_serpent_night_eye" special.
2. Chameleon: Argonians and those who choose The Shadow birthsign have Chameleon 10 (those who choose both will have Chameleon 20). The Chameleon effect will result in characters being very slightly translucent. This is most noticeable with Argonian NPCs, though it can also be seen on an affected player character in third person.
I'm not bothered by this, but some find this slight translucency to be visually distracting. If you really don't like it, there are a couple ways to address it. The first way is to use the mod Chameleon, which will eliminate the visual effect (and will also cause certain NPCs and creatures who are supposed to be translucent to be fully visible instead).
The second way is to remove it from the mod. For Argonians, edit their race record and remove the special "necro_arg_chameleon". For The Shadow, Chameleon is the only effect for that birthsign, so you'll need to edit the mod in the CS and assign it a different special.
3. Detect Animal/Enchantment/Key: Those who choose The Tower birthsign will have permanent Detect Animal, Detect Enchantment and Detect Key, 200 feet. Normally this just displays little red, blue and yellow circles on the local map and minimap, but users of Enhanced Detection (or the Lite/Less Lite version) will continuously see ED's new VFX for creatures (and NPCs with the related MCP patch), enchantments and keys.
(Actually, the original ED will change the Beggar's Nose spell, overriding this mod and reverting it back to a spell. The Lite version doesn't do this, and the Less Lite version has a "BTBGI Mode" setting which will protect the ability from being changed, along with making a few other changes for consistency with BTBGI. So this issue only actually applies if you're using ED Lite, or Less Lite with BTBGI Mode enabled.)
These effects don't bother me, but if you don't like having them on all the time, and you don't want to stop using Enhanced Detection Lite/Less Lite, you can easily change this part of the mod. In Enchanted Editor or TESAME, just delete the reference to the spell "beggar's nose spell". This will revert it to a spell as in vanilla.
4. Water Breathing: Argonians have constant Water Breathing. Contrary to a common perception, this does not break the Temple quest that sends you to the Puzzle Canal - it's still possible to complete - but it does require you to complete it in a manner other than what was intended. (Hint: What matters is your current health.)
However, if you really don't want constant water breathing, you can delete the reference to the spell "argonian breathing", which will revert it to a spell (and remove Swift Swim), as in vanilla. Or, to keep Swift Swim, you can edit the spell in the CS and change its type from an ability to a spell, or just add a new Swift Swim ability.
Version 1.0.1 - 2021-06-04
- Bosmer: Detect Animal 200 feet changed to Sanctuary 20 points, due to a Morrowind bug that happens when a race has a Detect Animal ability.
- Imperial: Sanctuary 20 points changed to Restore Fatigue 1 point.
- Orc: The special "Resist Normal Weapons" renamed to "Resist Weapons" (the effect itself is unchanged).
- Khajiit: Night Eye magnitude lowered from 50 to 25, so well-lit areas won't look too bright.
- The Serpent: Night Eye magnitude lowered from 25 to 15.
Version 1.0 - 2020-04-05
- Initial release.
Feel free to contact me on the Nexus or Moddinghall with any comments or suggestions. You can also find me on Discord as Necrolesian#9692.