ome people might recall some momentary buzz caused a couple of years ago by a particularly odd Morrowind mod. The file name was jvk1166z.esp. It was never posted on any of the larger Elder Scrolls communities, usually just smaller boards and role-playing groups. I know in a few cases rather than being posted, it was sent via PM or email to a ‘chosen few.’ It was only up for a few days, to the best of my knowledge.
It caused a buzz because it was a virus, or seemed to be. If you tried to load the game with the mod active, it would hang at the initial load screen for a full hour and then crash to the desktop. If you let it get that far, your install of Morrowind, along with any save files you had, would become completely corrupted. Nobody could figure out what the mod was trying to do, since it couldn’t be opened in the Construction Set. Eventually, warnings were distributed not to use it if you found it, and things died down.
About a year later, in a mod board I used to frequent, someone popped up with the mod again. He said he was PMed by a lurker who deleted his account immediately after sending. He also said that the person advised him to try playing the mod through DOSbox. For some reason, this worked… sort of. The game was a bit laggy, and you couldn’t get into Options, Load Game, the console, or really anything else, other than the game itself. The QuickSave and QuickLoad hotbuttons worked, but that was it. And the QuickSave file seemed to be just part of the game file, so you couldn’t get at it anymore. Some speculated that the changed game used an older graphics renderer, making DOSbox necessary, but it didn’t LOOK any different.
This part I can speak about from personal experience. When you start a new game in JVK (as the board came to call it), once you left the starting bit in the Census Office and came into the game proper, the first thing you notice is that the ‘prophecy has been severed’ box pops up. This is because every single NPC having to do with the main quest is dead, with the sole exception of Yagrum Bagarn, the last of the Dwemer. Their corpses never despawn, so you can go check on all of them. In effect, you begin in a world that is doomed to start with.
The second thing you notice is that you’re losing health. It’s only a bit, but it keeps happening, a little bit at a time. The longer you stay in one place, the quicker it seems to occur. If you let this health loss kill you, you’ll find the cause: a figure we came to call the Assassin, because he seems to wear a retextured version of the Dark Brotherhood armor from Tribunal, even though the expansions don’t work in JVK. It’s all black, completely untextured, like he’s just a hole in space. The way he moves… he gave me quite a start, the first time I saw him scuttling around my dead body. He crawls inhumanly on his hands and feet, his arms and legs splayed out like a spider. You’d usually only see him after death, crawling around and over your body just before the reload box popped up. Occasionally, you could catch a glimpse of him darting around a corner or crawling on a wall or ceiling. It made the game very difficult to play at night!
Other than that, the only noticeable difference is that at night, at random intervals, every NPC in the game will go outside for a few minutes. During this time, the only thing they will say when hailed is, “Watch the sky.” Once they return to their normal behavior they act like normal, though.
After a while, a player on the board discovered a new NPC named Tieras, a male Dunmer in the temple at Ghostgate. Two things are notable about this NPC: first is his robe, a unique article of clothing that was lovingly rendered with twinkling stars all across it, looking like a torn-off chunk of the night sky. The second is that all of his dialogue, in addition to showing up in the dialogue box, is voiced. You can skip it if you wish, but it all sounds like it’s in the default male Dunmer voice. Some people said that they thought the voice was “slightly” different, but it was a very, very good imitation.
I won’t go into the details, but the questline he sends you on has to do with a dungeon referred to simply as ‘The Citadel.’ Up until this point, the quests were all of a fairly generic ‘discover the secrets of the ancients’ bent. The entrance to this dungeon is on a small island far to the west of Morrowind proper. I eventually discovered that if you used a Scroll of Icarian Flight at the westernmost point on the main landmass and jump directly west, you’d end up almost exactly at the island.