The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind

Yeah, I'm playing this game. I've got a character named Zyke who's a talented alchemist/enchanter (or wants to be), but that's all I'm going to say about that.

AlchBase 1.0

I have made a program (called 'AlchBase' for 'Alchemy Database') to assist would-be Morrowind alchemists. (OK. I made it for myself. But I'm willing to share.) By no means does it have every feature I would like yet, but it has enough to be useful.


AlchBase has two parts: the executable (alchbase.exe) and the 'database' (alchdata.txt). When you run AlchBase, it loads all of the data from alchdata.txt. It then goes to the top-level menu, which has the following options:

To select one of the menu items, you of course hit the appropriate key ('N', 'F', 'E', 'S', or the escape key).

Adding Ingredients to AlchBase

The Ingredient's Name

After pressing 'N' in the menu, you will be prompted for the ingredient's name. When I enter the name, I add weight/value information, and a mysterious number in parenthesis. For example, say some ingredient has the name "Wedding Rice", a weight of 0.1 and a value of 2:

Wedding Rice 0.1/2 (0)

That way, any time the ingredient is displayed, you will also have this additional information available.

Oh, that mysterious number is how many of this ingredient you have. The program does not do anything with it yet (which is why I just use 0), but I hope to add features to the program that will make use of of it. [You can just leave it off if it annoys you, and add it later if I make a version of AlchBase that uses it.]

The Ingredient's Effects

After typing in the name and pressing enter, you will be prompted for the first effect. Just type it in and hit enter. If you enter an effect that AlchBase does not know about (or make a typo), AlchBase will ask if you want to create a new effect. Double-check it, and if it's not a typo, press 'y' and the effect will be added. (If it is a typo, press 'n' and you will get another chance to enter it correctly.)

When you enter a new effect, AlchBase will ask if it is a postive effect. For effects like "make me big and strong" press 'y', for effects like "the plague" press 'n'. For some effects (e.g., "purple skin") it's a toss-up -- call it as you see it. [For smoother operation with future AlchBase features, I recommend marking toss ups and '?' as positive.] The postive/negative nature of each effect is represented by '+'/'-' in the reports AlchBase generates.

To speed up the entry of effects (and help avoid typos), AlchBase has two forms of auto-completion: tab completion, and ctrl-f completion. Tab completion works by matching the entirety of what you've typed so far, while ctrl-f works by matching words of a given position. In both cases, they only expand out one word at a time. For example, suppose you have the following (ficticious) effects in AlchBase: "Destroy Pinky", "Destroy Brain", and "Drain Brain". Then if you you type 'd' and press tab you will see "Destroy ". Press tab again and you will see "Drain ". Pressing it again takes you back to just "D" (and further presses just repeat the cycle). For the first word ctrl-f has the same exact effect. Suppose you decide to go with "Drain ". Then after you see "Drain " you type 'b' (giving "Drain b"). Now pressing tab or ctrl-f will expand it to "Drain Brain". So what's the difference between tab and ctrl-f? New entries. Suppose that you had instead entered "Drain p". Pressing tab will not do anything because there is no effect which matches all of "Drain p". Use tab when you only want to match existing effects. Ctrl-f, on the other hand, would expand "Drain p" to be "Drain Pinky", a new effect. This is frequently useful in Morrowind because so many effects have 2nd words in common (e.g., attributes and conditions).

Press enter after typing in each effect. If the spell has unknown effect(s), go ahead and enter '?' for those effects. After all effects have been entered, press enter once more and the ingredient is completed. (After entering ingredient(s), don't forget to save from the main menu to update alchdata.txt.)

Finding Ingredients with Specified Effects

After pressing 'F' from the main menu, enter the effects you want (in the same manner as described above, except you can't enter new effects here). Press enter after each effect, and then once more to end the list. If you only enter one effect, AlchBase will go straight to the report. If you enter two or more, then before generating the report AlchBase will ask if you only want to see ingredients that have all of the entered effects, or if you want to see all ingredients that have any of the effects.

A report will then be displayed in the following format, with ingredients down the left-hand side, and effects across the top. (The following ficticious example is the result of searching on the single effect: "Summon Pinky")

                       | Drain Brain
                       | | Drain Pinky
                       | | | Destroy Brain
                       | | | | Destroy Pinky
                       | | | | | Summon Pinky
   Flat Foot 0.1/1 (0) ? + -     +
Wedding Rice 0.1/2 (0) ?       - +
 Green Slime 0.1/1 (0) ?         +
   Acme Dust 0.1/1 (0) ?   - +   +

From the report you can see that the ingredient "Flat Foot" has the positive effect "Drain Brain", the negative effect "Drain Pinky", and the positive effect "Summon Pinky". While you could make a "Summon Pinky" potion using any two of the listed ingredients, the table makes it very easy to see that you do not want to combine "Flat Foot" with "Acme Dust" as that would result in a negative "Drain Pinky" side-effect. (Negative side effects can be detected and avoided by looking for more than one '-' in any given column). It also reminds you that you might not want to use "Flat Foot" because you're saving up ingredients for that "Drain Brain" potion. The report also shows that these ingredients each have an unknown effect ('?'), so mixing them might result in an extra effect.

List Produceable Effects

Unless you have a ton of ingredients, you won't be able to make every effect. In fact, you may be limited to very few (and only some of them positive). This report (obtained by pressing 'e' from the main menu) will list all of the effects for which you have two or more ingredients. (I.e., if you only have one type of ingredient with the "SuperUberSpringy" effect, you can't make a "SuperUberSpringy" potion because you have no other suitable ingredient with which to mix the first ingredient.)

Enough Already! Give me the program!

Have at it: alchbase.exe (version 1.0)

alchbase.exe is freeware and comes with no warranty, use it at your own risk, etc. etc.

My character (Zyke) currently has an alchemy skill of 47, and has the following alchemical knowledge: alchdata.txt

Note: Don't download alchdata.txt if you don't want spoiler info. You do not need alchdata.txt to run alchbase.exe. alchbase.exe will automatically create an empty AlchBase, into which you can enter everything your character knows. The first time you use the save feature, alchbase.exe will create an alchdata.txt file for you, saving any data you have entered.

Technical Issues

AlchBase should run on any Win95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP machine (although I have only tried it on XP).

AlchBase is a console application (e.g., text-based, run from the command prompt). So far all of the reports I have generated fit on one screen. (For 95/98/ME, set the command window to be 80 by 50 characters. For NT/2000/XP set screen buffering height to 9999 lines and you'll be set forever.)

In order to use AlchBase while playing Morrowind, you have to do one of two things:

If you use Alt-Tab, you do so at your own risk. Despite all of the "bug free" promises, Morrowind's Alt-Tab is buggy. I only tried it once, and not only did Morrowind crash, but it hosed itself up so bad that even after a reboot it wouldn't even launch again until I did an uninstall/reinstall of the game. Even if Alt-Tab does seem to work for you, you should always remember to F5 (quick save) before Alt-Tabbing away from the game (just in case).

Using two computers is much simpler, less risky, and will lead to less real-world violent behavior. Run Morrowind on your new spiffy machine, and AlchBase on your old one.

For "Advanced" Users

You can edit alchdata.txt directly. This can be useful for at least a couple of things:

The alchdata.txt format is very simple. However, just in case, always make a backup copy of alchdata.txt before editing it.


Last Modified: May 8th, 2002
The game "The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind" is the property of Bethesda Softworks.