Character Profile – Morviah Hlaalu

Behind the icy veneer, in the privacy of our bedrooms and in our most intimate of thoughts, all mortals turn to those emotions that are timeless.
– Morviah Hlaalu

I’m a sucker for old timey movies.  Not the movies themselves – I would rather french kiss a werecroc than sit through two hours of prehistoric cinema – but the idea of the classic film.  The black and white aesthetic.  Film noir cool.  The leading man with a cigarette in one hand, a shot of whiskey in the other, and a dame on his lap reading him the news.

I’m a sucker for those old romances.   That high society class.  Grace Kelly.  Lauren Bacall.  I’m a sucker for Ingrid Bergman, leaning over a table with those glassy eyes, imploring the piano man to play it again.  Play “As Time Goes By.”  Part of me wonders if Sam should just say, “Fuck you, Miss Ilsa, I play what I want,” but the other part of me gets completely sucked in.

Morviah Hlaalu was written in one of the self-deluded dream fevers where my entire mental state was locked in the 1940s.  I had Ingrid Bergman in my head and Dooley Wilson in my ears, and while it was an era full of war and turmoil and hills of beans that didn’t amount to anything, the fundamental things would outlast all of them.  Those are the things that mattered.

Morviah’s story is about love in a time of war.  It’s about two people finding each other and the world conspiring to keep them apart.

It couldn’t have happened anywhere other than Windhelm.   The atmosphere of the city is cold and bleak.  The Nord/Dunmer dynamic, and its connection to the racial strife of the 50s and 60s stretches to literally every corner of the city – even the name New Gnisis Cornerclub sounds like a title for a jazz album.  There’s tension, and there’s animosity.  So when Morviah drops a flower and Balrund lifts it off the ground, it’s supposed to mean something.   Somehow, through the cracks of hard, uneven stone, love finds a way to bloom.

Or something like that.  With the story written and Dooley Wilson now having moved into my ear and watching TV on the cushions of my cochlea, the next task was to find an actor.  Most of the existing roster was good, but their voices were relatively young, more Audrey Hepburn than Katharine.  Morviah required a more regal, authoritative voice.   It was by chance, when listening to Lila Paws’ recording of Anum-La, that she snuck her normal voice into the track, just to announce the line number.  I’d probably corresponded with her for months and listened to her do half a dozen characters prior to that, and it wasn’t until then that I actually heard her real voice.

It was as if she was there, giving me that look, asking me to play that song.  A man waits his entire life to see that look, but thankfully, I didn’t have to wait that long.

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Meet the Actor – Kaitlyn Harwood


Before I make characters, I spin a giant wheel with various characteristics on it.  This tells me what kind of NPC I will be making next.  I trust the wheel implicitly, mostly because the wheel cannot talk, but also because the wheel is never wrong.  The one thing the wheel cannot dictate, however, is the NPC’s voice, because while it has an idea in its cardboard head, there is no guarantee that actor exists.

Yet every so often, there’s an actor who fits the wheel’s vision perfectly.  Kaitlyn Harwood is one such example.  Her voice is made of kittens and rainbows, and matched the innocence and absent-mindedness that personifies Yseld.   I asked her some questions, and despite me being a complete jerk about it she found time to reply.

How did you find out about the mod?
I found out through a friend. Her name is Arisen1 on the Nexus forums. We were talking about hobbies and she listed off all of hers, one of them being voice acting. She sent me the link to Interesting NPCs and it was love at first sight!

What’s your all time favorite video games? TV shows?
I play A LOT of video games. I have loads of free time. My all time favourite video games would have to be Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect and Bioshock. My favourite TV shows are The Walking Dead, Justified and Boardwalk Empire but I have others as well.

If you’ve played the mod, do you have a favorite character, and why?  If you haven’t played the mod, why are you such a horrible person?
My favourite character would have to Gilsi. I originally tried out for her but in the back of my mind I knew that she needed to be more dramatic and bitchy.  :P My mother ended up getting Gilsi’s part and I LOVED watching her rehearse the lines. Gilsi came alive!

Was it fun working on this project with your mom?  Keep in mind she is probably reading this.
YES! OF COURSE! It was me who suggested that she try out for Gilsi. She aced it and now she’s in the process of reading other character scripts. I wanted to find something that we could share and do together and this works very well. :)

Do you have any previous acting experience?  What made you interested in voice acting?
I remember I played a rainbow fish in a play in primary school. I had one line but I was so proud. I haven’t got any other Voice Acting experience…unless you include reading aloud in Book Club. ;)

Cartwheels or handstands?
I can’t do either, But I think Cartwheels are more exciting to watch!

What kind of mic do you use and what difficulties did you run into making your recording environment?
I use a Samson C01U USB Condenser Microphone. I got it for about $100 free shipping (in Australia) I wasn’t expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised. We’ll just see how long it lasts. :P

What do you think of the global economic crisis?  Answer in three words.
I don’t know….

If you play Skryim, what sort of character do you play?
I haven’t played Skyrim in a long time. I had to sell my copy and a few other of my beloved video games. I do remember my character was a young Nord who loved her sword and shield…I also based her looks on Daenarys Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire. :)

What do you think of the Forsworn in general and their attempts to retake the Reach?
I think they make for interesting plots and characters. I just love the whole rebel setting, fighting for what they want and believe in.

What do you think of the character you voiced?
I think she’s precious. She’s pretty unique. I nicknamed her Goldy (Like Goldfish) she’s so forgetful it made me laugh during takes sometimes.

Have you read Ynvar’s script?  What do you think of the dynamic between the two as well as Thendrick?
I did read Ynvar’s script. I thought it was important to know about Ynvar’s story just as much as Yseld’s. I got to know more about Thendrick through Ynvar as well which was beautiful. :) I don’t want to say too much but I think Kris did a wonderful job writing the trio.

Do you share any similar traits with Yseld?  How are you different?
I’d say I’m sort of forgetful… but not with places or names…more like forgetting to do chores and stuff. We’re different because….actually I guess we’re not all that different.  :P

Character Profile – Relic

When Jay33721 approached me with an idea for a droid powered by a black soul gem, I had my doubts.  Not in the validity of the idea, the authenticity of the voice or any other of the eleven flavors of awesome he provided, but it needed a writer to make it an even dozen.  I didn’t know jack shit about computers.  When a voice actor’s computer got stricken with a virus, I told her to stick a Tylenol in the USB slot and check its temperature in the morning.

Fortunately, about a week later Roarian was getting involved in doing some scripting for the mod.  As a programmer with enough fanfiction to build a bridge to Mars, it seemed like a good match.  It was.  When I got the script, I realized just how much my pathetic modding skills were limiting my NPCs.  At the time, I didn’t even know how to condition for race, and Roarian was accounting for race, sex, class, and what color tunic the player liked to wear on Loredas mornings.

Not to mention as a programmer, Roarian could involve the player in ways my monkey brain could only dream of.  With Relic, Roarian was able to devise a quest that centered around  three separate personalities.  Good, evil, and damaged.  Taking this idea, Jay was able to construct three separate voice types, with the damaged one stuttering to emphasize its brokenness.  Moreover, the player’s ability to use Dwarven smithing would factor into the result, as well as the player’s moral alignment.  Yet the most brilliant aspect Roarian included was adding the Briarheart script to Relic’s soul gem, which meant stealing it would strip it of its very life force.  When I tested it and the droid crumbled to the floor, I had to pinch myself to keep from squealing like a little girl.

As an editor, most of the script was beyond my knowledge, and that’s a good thing.  Subroutines?  I don’t even know what a subroutine is.  I diversified some of the player questions, but for the most part left everything as is.  The one thing I did feel needed to be changed, however, was a single word.

Meatbag.

Roarian included it as an homage to the great HK-47.  Although I had some concern that people would consider Relic an imitation, given our droid had 3 distinct personalities, any argument that the two were identical would be specious.  My larger concern was with the term “meatbag” itself.  After all, when HK-47 used the term repeatedly, he didn’t sound like a droid, at least not to me.  He sounded like a human being pretending to be a droid.  That distinction is important.

Human beings are very visual people.  If we look at the surface, of course we are bunch of meatbags.  Look at all that flesh and flab.   You think to yourself, a robot would see that and mock our inherent softness, our distinct lack of metal.  Except there’s one problem with that.  The actual composition of human beings is roughly about 80% water.   Eighty fucking percent.  Not flesh, not fat, but water.  A robot would not look at the math and call us bags of meat.  A real robot would not make such a terrible miscalculation.

Hence, Relic wouldn’t either.  Roarian made the slight alteration, and with that, our metal maybe-monster was born.

Meet the Actor – Jay33721

Jay was one of the early contributors to the mod, and has probably recorded more lines and worn more hats than just about anyone.  He provides unique voices, ideas for characters, and the occasional interesting anecdote.  In short, the dude wears a lot of hats.  Where does he find all these hats?  Surely not at the hat store.  That place is a wreck.

However, I would say that for all his headgear and versatility, what makes Jay truly unique is his dependability.  You may notice Rumarin and Dagri’lon always have their lines updated.  That’s because I can dump 1000 lines in Jay’s inbox and I know they will all be voiced by morning.  Such is his appetite for voice work.  I am convinced he is part dragon.  He even had time in his busy schedule flying about the neighborhood and chatting with Aela to answer a few questions.

You were the inspiration for a lot of abnormal characters.  Dagri’lon, Relic, Iorel, Averna, Fjona’s Familiar. Do you enjoy bizarre NPCs like robots, ghosts and the undead?
Oh, yes! Very much so. I guess I’m just a sucker for the strange and fantastical. I like to escape into an alternate reality whenever I play games, and weird and wonderful NPCs just sweeten the pot for me. Now that I think about it, this was probably all started by the follower Shale, from Dragon Age. She’s awesome.

As one of the early contributors, how did you find the mod?
Honestly, I can’t remember all that well. I think I was searching the Nexus for some or other NPC mod, and it popped up as a result. Naturally, it piqued my curiosity, and, well, I thought it was an awesome idea. Turns out I was right!

What sort of character do you like to play?
I like two types of character builds: Spellsword, where I usually go around wielding a one-handed weapon in one hand (No! Really? Heehee) and a destruction spell in the other. Something explosive, preferably. The other build is your average overpowered tank. Two-handed weapon, heavy armour, protection amulets – the works.

My favourite race is Nord. I don’t know why, but they’re the only ones I can get to look pretty enough for my tastes. My second favourite is the Altmer. They’re just so… regal.

My playing style is mostly questing. I get as many quests as I can, completing them as I go. Occasionally, when that gets repetitive, I’ll go exploring, accidentally getting myself killed about a hundred times along the way.

I am most definitely a hoarder. My carry weight is usually the first thing to be enhanced by an enchantment and my homes are always filled up with useless crap!

Do you have a favorite character in the mod?
My favourite character of the ones I voiced has to be Rumarin. His happy-go-lucky attitude and twisted sense of humour are just priceless.

From the others, I’d have to say it’s a tie between Zora and Ingarte. Zora, because she’s so terribly cute and deliciously tortured. Ingarte because, well, she’s a salty wench!

Did you try repairing Relic?  How did it go?
Yes, I did try. I ended up breaking him. So I reloaded an earlier save and vowed to come back with a higher Smithing skill. When I finally got around to doing that, I decided to sabotage him, simply because of the hilariousness of the bad personality.

What in the world is a 33721?
They’re my favourite numbers. 3 (twice, because I like it so much), 7 and 21.

Do you have a favorite alchemy ingredient?
I really don’t use Alchemy that often, but if I had to choose, I’d say the Daedra Heart. It’s just so… Eeeeeevil.

Would you rather have a potato for a hand or a watermelon for a foot?
Hmmm… Tough choice! I do like potatoes, but having one for a hand would mean I couldn’t play PC games anymore. Plus, I’d want to dunk it in boiling oil and eat it. A watermelon foot, on the other hand (LOL, pun), probably wouldn’t bother me that much. I’d still sort of be able to walk, and I sit most of the time, anyway. Also, I don’t really like watermelon, so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it!

What are your favorite video games?
All of the Elder Scrolls games, of course! Then there’s the Mass Effect Trilogy, the Dragon Age games, Portal and Portal 2, and The Sims 3.

Is Pluto a planet?
It’s a dwarf planet. Science says it is so, and I trust science. Plus, it makes our Solar System a bit more interesting that way.

Explain the various vocal effects you use in your roles.
Well, Relic and Dagri’Lon are both results of this neat little voice changer program I found online. I used some of their default effects, with a few tweaks here and there. Relic’s effect is called “Droid” and Dagri’Lon’s is called “Hell Demon” (Eesh!)

For Averna and Fjona’s Familiar, I basically just winged it on Audacity.

Averna’s went like this: I recorded the lines, then duplicated the track. The original track got a pitch change to make it sound more feminine, and the duplicate got pitched a bit lower, causing a sort of double-voice creepy thing. Then I merged the tracks and reversed the audio, added an echo, and reversed the audio again, causing a backwards echo.

Fjona’s Familiar also got the reverse echo, but only after I added a background effect to make it sound like he’s talking from the void.

What kind of mic do you use and what difficulties did you run into making your recording environment?
I use an ordinary desktop microphone with a sock pulled over it. The sock helps improve sound quality, and I meticulously edit anything I record to get it to sound better.

By far the most irritating thing about my recording environment is the whine from my computer. No matter what I do, that sound is always in the recordings. So, I use a whole heck of a lot of noise removal to get that cut out.

Another factor is random noise from outside. Cars driving past, airplanes overhead, the neighbours’ kids screaming, dogs barking… So I just close my windows and door, and hope for the best.

What has been the most challenging character to do?  Easiest?
The hardest one for me was probably Skjel. After a while of recording him, my voice was like “Dude! I don’t bend that way!” Of course, after a short break and a quick cigarette, it would be fine again, and I would go on.

The easiest character, I’d have to say, is Rumarin. I use my natural voice, my natural accent, and his use of language is easy to read fluently. Dagri’Lon is easy, too, since I can talk normally, and the voice changer does most of the work.

What do you do in your spare time?
I read a lot, play PC games, watch my favourite shows on TV, surf the web. I also like to cook, and I do tend to sleep a lot.

Who is your favorite vanilla NPC?
That is a tough question. I haven’t thought about it a whole lot, but off the top of my head, I’d say Sheogorath is my favourite. He’s just awesome.

Stormcloaks or Imperials?  Paarthunax or the Blades?  Wine or Mead?  Sweet rolls or apple pies?
Imperials. I know, a lot of people don’t like them, but there’s just something about Ulfric that makes me want to kill him. Besides, the Imperials are all organised and very together. The Stormcloaks are kind of messy.

Paarthurnax. He’s always been nice to me, and I think it’s racist of the Blades to want me to kill him just because he’s a dragon.

You expect me to choose between Wine and Mead? Why can’t we have both? I like wine, though only on certain occasions. Mead (beer) is my go-to drink whenever I go to a bar or pub.

Apple pie, of course! Delicious, warm cinnamonny apple pieces and raisins drenched in a sweet syrup, all wrapped up in pie crust? Who can resist that?! Besides, I’m not exactly clear on what a sweetroll is…

Meet the Actor – Viridiane

Back in May of 2012, when the mod was but an infant, a helpful fellow by the name of throat cutter pointed me toward a forum where I could find voice actors.  I peered at that list like a motherfucking hawk, looking for actors with two X chromosomes.  I sent out about 10 emails.  I got 1 reply.  It was from a girl named Viridiane, and it changed everything.

Food tasted better.  The sky seemed bluer.  The world wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough, because she was living in it.

And she’s still here.  Seven months later, and Vi’s done three characters – Zora, Lleyara, Callen, and probably near a 1000 lines of dialogue and counting.  I asked her some stupid questions, and she was kind enough to reply.  If you have questions of your own, feel free to ask them in the comments.

You have a unique accent, where are you from exactly?
I like to keep people guessing. Sometimes they truly surprise me!

What is your favorite letter of the alphabet?
A, R, E, S. I have a few. I really don’t like P and B.

What got you into voice acting?
Google. Well I had an idea to see if there’s some way to try dubbing something and I found English website Voice Acting Alliance. Turned out there was plenty of amateur projects to audition for and that’s how it started for me.

Who would win a fight between a frost troll and a Nord on anabolic steroids?
Nord. Science > Nature when it comes to good old face mashing.

What sort of character do you like to play?
Pretty ones! And small ones. But not halfling-small. Just FR elf-small. I liked to play Ainmhi in Oblivion. Class? Jack of All Trades. In Skyrim I had to settle for a boring Nord due to most bearable faces. Still had so many wrinkles. Can’t wait to use some of the mods for faces! Played some kind of rogue-type. Not sure. I’m a hoarder, very much. I hoarded gems, coins, strawberries and Nirnroot planters. Then I searched for items and cloned them into my house while throwing away gold [imagine a shop :D] In Skyrim I settled for the 1-of-a-kind items like bee in a jar or some ship models :D

I want you to share the story you told me about how we both suck at video games.
Yeah, I panic in games, I was trying to play one at my friend’s and a monster jumped at me, so I panicked and I turned the camera around and shot a barrel with something that exploded and killed me instead. >D

Nirnroot: Noisy or Calming?
Awakens my pack-rat instincts. GOTTA CATCH THEM ALL.

Where does the name Viridiane come from?
It’s a name of a color. I like colors.

Do you have a favorite alchemy ingredient?
No, I love them all and hoard them all and put them in their respective chests/boxes/jars.

What are your favorite video games?
Baldur’s Gate <3 Forever. Right now I’m playing League of Legends though.

How hard was it to voice Callen?
Much harder than Zora, but much easier than carrying bricks on my head.

If you’ve played the mod, do you have a favorite character, and why? If you haven’t played the mod, why are you such a horrible person?
I’m a horrible person :( I haven’t had the chance to play Skyrim for months. I’ve played Vanilla right after release and I’ll play it again, modded, when I’m done with university. It will be my nerdy victory dance.

Talk about Zora’s character and what you think about her. Why do you think Zora is so popular?
I didn’t know she was popular, I never get to see the comments Kris is mentioning sometimes. I can’t find them :( But if I were to guess, I’d say she’s simply sweet. With a twist. Not your regular cutie with a bandit fetish and a two-handed sword, is she? Besides, she is flawed. That makes her affable and humane.

What other projects are you working on? Mods, fiction, acting, etc. Where else can people hear your talents?
Voice acting wise? A few, you can see a list on my website, I try to keep it updated. Non-voice-acting wise? I’m working on a book. Almost alllmost done with the first part, but writer’s block knows no mercy.

Do you share any similar traits with any of the characters you voiced? How are you different?
Tough question! Not so much, I think. I actually try to avoid voicing characters that are similar to me, because it’s boring and presents no challenge at all.

Stormcloaks or Imperials? Paarthurnaax or Blades? Wine or Mead? Sweet rolls or Apple pies?
Chocolate! And baby pandas.

What kind of mic do you use and what difficulties did you run into making your recording environment?
I use Blue Snowball. I have a pop filter made of an old stocking and wire. The difficulty is that I have 2 settings on this mic, I can build a soundbooth from books and I can even put scarves on it, but every person has a different opinion on what sounds best, so I never know how to record :D A pro-studio mic would surely remedy this situation, but I’m broooke.

If you were an all powerful dragon, how would you go about eating and entertaining yourself? Would you terrorize towns, steal the occasional cow, or just eat wild beasts? Keep in mind people are probably delicious.
Food, food, food, does everything have to be about food? Psh! I would steal a princess and live out a fairytale!

Hello World

This is a blog for the mod Interesting NPCs. The ultimate goal is to have this be a hub of information regarding the mod, with articles on characters, interviews with voice actors, and basically looking under the hood of this product of Dwarven engineering.

You may be curious why it’s in blog form. Curiosity is bad for you and is known to cause cat scratch fever.  However, if you must know, it’s in blog form because I am too cheap to pay for a website.

In all honesty, I do not know if I will have the time to even come up with articles, posts, or pictures to propagate this blog with. I do not know if the actors are willing to subject themselves to my terrible questions, or if that is considered torture by the standards outlined in the Geneva Conventions. We shall see.

In closing, I offer a picture of my current game, as I build dialogue for Zora and the other super friendies. I use Zora because I know everyone loves Zora, and everyone loves her voice actor, the talented Viridiane. If you don’t you probably are an unpleasant person to talk to.