The chance for the player's attacks to hit in Morrowind varies from (very roughly speaking) about 20% at starting weapon skill to over 100% at weapon skill 100.
Unlike other games, including Oblivion, the damage range of weapons does not represent a random number. Maximum damage can be achieved every time by giving a full 'charge' to the weapon's swing, or Attack Duration. Combat damage in Morrowind is based on three things, whose importance roughly follows this order: Attack Duration, Techniques, and Attributes (Strength for melee weapons, Agility for ranged weapons). Attack duration is represented visually by the character drawing back their weapon to take a swing. Once an attack technique is chosen by movement direction (forward-back for Thrust / left-right for Slash / standing still for Chop), the character can move in any direction for the duration of the weapon 'charging' to its fullest extent. The character draws the weapon back until it moves no further. At this point the attack is fully charged and will deliver the maximum listed amount of damage (modified further by other parts of the formula).
This is roughly the opposite of the Oblivion damage system, where weapon specialization determines damage amount, and hitting a target is more or less a sure thing, given the player is facing in the right direction and close enough;). Also, weapons in Oblivion have the old familiar random damage range, and movement directions not only give a fixed bonus to attacks, they are only operational if they have been 'learned' by having sufficient skill in the given weapon type.
Hit Chance Edit
Chance to hit in Morrowind is determined by the following formula: Chance to hit = (Attacker's weapon skill * 1.25) + Attacker's Attack (e.g. Warrior = 10) - Defender's Sanctuary (e.g. Thief = 10) + ((Attacker's Agility - Defender's Agility) * 0.25) + ((Attacker's Luck - Defender's Luck) * 0.125)
Attack Duration and Damage Edit
If you look at any weapon stats, you will notice that a range of damage values are given. Unlike many similar games, your damage is not chosen at random from this range. Rather, the damage depends on how quickly you swing the weapon. If you attack quickly without fully drawing back your swings, you will deal far less damage than if you make sure the weapon is drawn back as far as you can before releasing. You can't hold it back too far, so once your arm is in the furthest back position, you can hold it there until you swing, and you will deal the maximum damage every time. Note that this does not apply to magical damage from enchanted weapons - this value is chosen at random from the given range.
Your damage is modified by your Strength, with a Strength of 50 being the 'baseline' - so if your Strength is 100, you will deal 50% more than the listed damage, with 0 strength you will deal 50% less than the listed damage. Note that this is true for all weapon types, not just those with Strength as the controlling attribute. The amount of damage dealt is modified by your opponent's armor rating. The basic calculation is <(Damage * Damage) / (Damage + Opponent Armor Rating)>. Creatures have no armor rating.
An often unused advantage in combat is to use heavy weapons. While swinging a 90 pound weapon will cause your fatigue to plummet, it is SO much worse on the receiving side. The heavier the weapon, the more it will literally club down your opponent, causing them to stagger, and interrupting their own attacks. With some skill, you can keep melee opponents from landing a blow on you. This is best done, obviously with two handed weapons. The best for this are the Daedric Battle Axe (which has the highest damage of any base weapon), the Daedric War Hammer, and the Daedric Claymore. In fact, if you become good at two-handed combat, you will soon find that the base Daedric weapons work out more effectively than the great enchanted swords like Umbra. The best enchanted two-handed weapons are much lighter than their Daedric counterparts, and while the damage may be higher, your ability to stagger and disorient opponents can be invaluable. Besides, you can enchant them yourself.
If you perform a successful sneak attack, the amount of damage dealt is multiplied by 4 for melee attacks, and by 1.5 for marksman attacks, although damage from enchantments is not multiplied.
Attack Techniques Edit
Techniques are of vital importance to get the maximum damage from weapons; this is much less true of Daggers, which are the weapon of choice for the button-input-challenged, with almost the same damage for all three techniques. There are 3 basic attacks you can do, each depends on how you are moving when you start your attack. Once the attack button is pressed, the player can move in any direction or stop moving while the button is held down to charge up the attack.
This is the default attack. To Chop, all you need to do is start your attack while standing still, or you can run forwards and strafe left or right at the same time (a diagonal movement). You will raise your weapon and do a downward stroke at your opponent. Most weapons seem to deliver the most damage with this attack. The only weapons that do not work very well with a chop are Spear class weapons.
To perform a Slash, start your attack while moving to the left or right. You will swing your weapon sideways (right to left) instead of downwards. This is a good attack to use in close combat, as you will be more likely to dodge your opponent's attacks while moving to the side. Most weapons are good for slashing, the notable exceptions again being Spears. A few, mostly Long Blades, are best used with this attack.
To perform a Thrust, start your attack while moving forwards or backwards. You will attack straight ahead with your weapon. This attack is good for keeping your distance from opponents, especially since you can start it while moving backwards, and always keep yourself out of range of their attacks. Most weapons do not do as much damage when Thrusting, but Spears are ideal for it. Most Short Blades also receive a slight advantage with this attack.
In addition to the three melee attacks, there are also ranged weapons. For these you will either need a bow and arrows, a crossbow and bolts, or a supply of throwing weapons. For bows and crossbows, you must equip both the weapon and the ammunition in order to use them. Bows and crossbows are 2-handed weapons, so you cannot hold a shield or a light while using them. Throwing weapons are not restricted in this manner.
There are five basic classes of melee weapons, as well as Hand-to-hand combat and Marksmanship.
These come in one-handed and two-handed varieties. They are best as Chopping weapons, though fairly effective for Slashing as well. They are by far the most damaging of weapons, but they are also quite heavy, and generally slower in attack speed, and with a narrower range of attack than most other weapons.
Blunt Weapon Edit
Blunt weapons come in a wide variety; from maces and clubs to warhammers to staves, they can be used for a variety of different fighting styles. For damage, warhammers are the best you can get outside of axes, and have the advantage of range as well. Maces and clubs are not nearly as strong as their two-handed cousins, but give you the advantage of faster speed and the ability to use a shield. Staves are mostly useful for their ability to hold powerful enchantments, though they are also faster and have a wider range than any other two-handed weapons.
Long Blade Edit
Long blades are good versatile weapons, able to Chop, Slash, and in most cases Thrust with almost equal facility. Long blades are also the most numerous weapon-type in the game, and there are more Artifact-class long blades than any other weapon type. They are generally faster in attack speed than axes or blunt weapons, though like axes, they are limited in their range of attack. They come in both one-handed and two-handed varieties. One-handed blades are slightly less damaging and slightly faster, and allow the use of a shield. If you use a two-handed blade you will be unable to block, even if you have a shield equipped in your inventory.
Short Blade Edit
Short blades are by far the fastest weapons available, though they suffer for damage. However, being able to get in twice as many attacks in the same time period may make up for it. They are all one-handed, and their light weight is perfect for those who want to be able to carry a lot of loot, or just stay fast on their feet. They are mostly equally effective at Chopping and Slashing, and slightly better for Thrusts.
Spears are great for those who like a different style of combat, as they are generally best used with Thrust attacks, and not very effective for Chops and Slashes, in contrast with all the other weapon types. They have the widest range available, allowing you to keep your distance. They are all two-handed, so you can't use a shield, but if you keep far enough away from your opponents, you shouldn't need one. Spears are also generally lighter than most two-handed weapons (with the exception of staves, over which spears have the clear advantage of higher damage). Unfortunately, spears lack the variety of options of the other weapon classes, as there are far fewer quality spears available. It's also harder to find training in the skill - only 2 people in the entire game offer spear-training.
One other option for melee combat is to not use weapons at all. This is a much more difficult path to play, because attacks with the fists deal damage to the opponent's Fatigue instead of their Health, until they become exhausted and fall over, at which point you can start kicking them to deal actual damage. While it may seem more honorable to fight your opponents unarmed, they will not feel a similar sense of obligation, and will happily slash away at you with swords and axes while you attempt to pummel them to the ground with your bare hands. If you do manage to get good at fisticuffs, it does have the advantage that an exhausted opponent is much less likely to hit you with their attacks. But in the same time it took you to get them that exhausted, you could have just killed them with almost any other combat technique. (However, this skill is required in a few quests in the Expansions, where you're expected to disable an opponent without killing them.)
Marksman Weapons Edit
Marksman weapons come in three varieties, Bow and Arrows, Crossbow and Bolts, and Throwing Weapons. If you throw/fire a ranged weapon directly into a spell being cast towards you, it will cancel the spell out. You will lose the projectile, but the spell will not reach you. This also works with spells against spells.
- These are the most commonly used of Marksman weapons. Bows can be found in many places, or you can quickly get yourself the best of the best with the use of a Bound Longbow. Arrows are so common you should almost never run out, no matter how bad a shot you are. Arrows in Morrowind move in a pretty much straight line, so aiming above the target as you might expect to do in real life is not required. If you miss, the arrow is lost. If you hit, there is a chance you will find your arrows on the corpse after you've killed it. The chance of recovering non-enchanted projectiles is controlled by the game setting <fProjectileThrownStoreChance>, which is set to 25% by default.
- Crossbows are far less common - there being only two varieties found in the entire game. They have the advantage of quicker firing rate, since their minimum and maximum damages are the same, so you don't need to pull all the way back the way you do with all other weapons. The main disadvantage of crossbows is the rarity of their ammunition. You will be mostly dependent on the vendors for your supply, because while bolts are found in the wild, they are never in great supply.
Throwing Weapons Edit
- Throwing Weapons are another option for ranged attackers. Since you don't need a bow to use them, you can travel lighter, and still hold a shield or a light in your other hand. However, they suffer from the same problem as crossbows, in that it's hard to find a good steady supply of throwing weapons. Additionally, they do far less damage, as there is no bow damage to calculate into the mix - they depend solely on your Marksman skill and Agility altering their small base-damage. Their good rate-of-fire is useful to interrupt the action of enemies, especially spell-casters. The Tribunal expansion adds Dwarven Darts among others, these can be very effective, even in the most difficult fights of the game.
Armor is used to reduce damage from physical attacks. The strength of armor is known as Armor Rating, or AR. The AR for each piece of armor is <BaseAR * ( ArmorSkill / 30 )>. The AR for each unarmored slot, including shield, is <UnarmoredSkill * UnarmoredSkill * 0.0065>.
Total AR is <Cuirass * .3 + (Shield + Helm + Greaves + Boots + RPauldron + LPauldron) * .1 + (RGauntlet/Bracer + LGauntlet/Bracer) * .05>. In other words, Cuirass is 30%; Shield, Helm, Greaves, Boots, RPauldron, and LPauldron are 10% each; RGauntlet/Bracer and LGauntlet/Bracer are 5% each.
If going completely unarmored, you need to know about the Unarmored Bug.
Blocking is a simple matter of having a shield equipped. Your chance to block is based on your Block skill, along with your Agility and Luck. You cannot block without a shield, so if you're using a 2-handed weapon or want to carry a light instead, you will not be able to block attacks. Blocking will not protect you from spells.
Sneak Attacks Edit
In order to perform a sneak attack, your opponent must be not currently in combat, and not aware of your presence. The second criterion can be met by use of the Sneak skill, or by being under the effects of a Chameleon or Invisibility spell. A successful sneak attack will deal increased damage (see above). Generally, you will only get one chance to perform a sneak attack on a given enemy, since after the first one, they will immediately start combat, even if they still do not know where you are. The only way to get another chance is to cast a Calm or Command spell on them to make them stop fighting. Note that attacking a non-hostile enemy in this manner is considered a crime, and may earn you a bounty, particularly if you kill them afterwards. Unfortunately, it's sometimes hard to tell if a target is hostile if they can't see you and don't initiate combat first. Generally, most humanoids and almost all creatures found outside of cities and towns are hostile, but this is not guaranteed. The best way to make sure you are not about to kill a non-hostile NPC, is by pressing spacebar (action) on them whilst sneaking. If they are hostile you will receive a message saying "This person is already in combat". If not, you will see the pickpocket screen. Having thus attempted to pickpocket them, if they catch you at it, they will attack, but stealing is less of a crime than murder, hostile NPCs can be calmed, etc.
- Note that due to a glitch in the combat system, if you manage to hit an opponent with a ranged spell while remaining undetected, your first physical attack following the spell may be considered a sneak attack.
Useful Spells Edit
Other than the obvious attack spells, there are several tactical spell effects which can be very helpful in combat.
- Blind – A good preliminary spell to use from a distance, particularly against archers or spellcasters, as it will keep them occupied until you can get in range.
- Burden – Generally only useful in very large doses against opponents who are wearing heavy armor, as most opponents are not carrying nearly enough to become encumbered otherwise.
- Calm – A sneaky way to stop opponents from fighting in order to gain a second chance at a sneak attack. Unlike most offensive spells, Calm is not resisted by creatures with magic resistance.
- Command - A good way to get a few additional allies in a battle, if only for a little while. Also gives the non-Commanded creatures an additional target to attack instead of you.
- Damage Attribute - Can cripple your opponents. Damaging your opponents' agility will have him falling over every time you hit him and struggling to block. Damaging your opponents' strength will reduce the damage he deals and can lower his encumbrance enough that he cannot move.
- Demoralize – An enemy that's running away is an enemy that isn't attacking you. However, this can cause problems if they happen to run into town and start fights with the locals. Just hope the guards take them out for you.
- Frenzy – A good way to initiate combat with a non-hostile target without being accused of a crime.
- Levitate – A favorite of archers or spellcasters, as it gives you a perfect vantage point to attack your enemies from out of reach. Enemies without ranged attacks will most likely flee if you attack them while levitating.
- Paralyze – Makes your opponents completely helpless. What more could you want? Be aware that some enemies, most notably vampires, are immune to paralysis.
- Silence – Invaluable against spellcasters, though you may want to use Paralyze instead. It costs the same and is equally effective in most cases.
- Turn Undead – See Demoralize above. This is somewhat more useful, as undead are much less likely to be found near towns where they can cause trouble by running.
- Water Walking – A good trick mostly for avoiding combat, as water-bound enemies can't attack you on the surface, and normally land-based enemies move very slowly in the water.