The kwama are a group of insect-like creatures in the game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. They are a hive organism with a strict hierarchy and are a crucial part of economics in the region of Morrowind.
Impacts on economy
Kwama work in an underground colony similar to ant hives. These colonies are called egg mines, due to their size and structure: egg mines are consistently large enough to allow entrance of miners, and some egg mines are obviously man-made or man-maintained due to supports that have been erected. Egg mines are typically labyrinthine and can have several separate chambers depending on their size and importance. There are kwama egg mines scattered throughout Vvardenfell, including some that would appear to be populated by wild kwama or kwama that have reverted to such a state. In these "wild" mines, all kwama, including the normally docile workers, will attack anyone who enters, and occasionally the dead bodies of kwama miners will be found. These mines may be identified by a red haze that pervades through the mine, possibly a sign of the ashblight. Care should be taken by beginning players who enter these mines, as the kwama warriors may prove to be too much of a match for them.
The ingredients collected from the kwama, including kwama eggs, kwama cuttle, scrib jelly and scrib jerky, are vital to the economy of Vvardenfell, making the egg mining industry extremely important. All great houses of Vvardenfell own several mines as a basic economic foothold, and many Vvardenfell citizens' welfare revolves around the protection and care of kwama. This practice has gone on for long enough for a symbiotic relationship to form between the miners and the kwama. Kwama foragers and warriors, normally aggressive, will not attack miners, knowing through scent that the miners are not a threat. Killing a kwama queen will kill the entire mine and thus doing so jeopardizes the economy of Vvardenfell. This action is thus heavily looked-down upon but is nevertheless legal, some in-game missions include killing egg mines owned by rivals in business. Despite this, most inhabitants of Vvardenfell recognize the importance of every egg mine, and so several other missions, including one given by the Imperial Legion, involve saving the egg mines, usually in the form of curing the queen of the blight and in so doing rendering the mine usable. Due to the importance of egg mines, towns tend to spring up near them, much as they do in real-life mining towns. Gnisis is an example of one such town, as its entire economy and well-being depend on the mine in town.
The kwama family consists of scribs, kwama foragers, kwama workers, kwama warriors and kwama queens. The queens are at the top tier, as is expected, however they are bloated and unable to move, and so are tended by workers and defended by warriors. Foragers search for sources of food and possible locations of new mines, and scrib, as larva, grow into other types of kwama and can defend the mine in minuscule ways if absolutely necessary.
Scribs are the late larval stage of the kwama. They resemble large whitish bugs with eight jointed legs. Scribs are found throughout Vvardenfell, but unlike kwama foragers and most other creatures, they will not attack. They are quite possibly the weakest creatures in the game, with the exception of kwama queens who are unable to defend themselves at all, and so are useful for beginning players to use to improve their skills.
Scrib jelly can be found on dead scribs and may be used in alchemy to create potions that cure blight diseases. Scrib jerky, which is made by drying a sliced scrib, restores fatigue, but players can only find it in containers and shops, not on scribs themselves. Both ingredients are a staple of Vvardenfell cuisine, making Kwama mines all the more valuable. Miners in egg mines discourage players from killing scribs, in part because of the resources that can be gained from them, but also due to the fact that they are larval and can become any other type of kwama.
|Kwama: Scrib||8–12||1–3 points melee||Scrib Jelly|
Kwama foragers are the scouts of kwama egg mines. They can be found in many areas of Vvardenfell, including the Bitter Coast, the Grazelands, Ascadian Isles, the ashlands, and some parts of Azura's Coast and Sheogorad, as well as inside any egg mines players may come across. Their function is essentially to scout out locations for the hive; finding possible locations for new mines, food, water, enemies, and so forth. They are aggressive and will attack players on sight, but are also very weak and simple to dispatch. Kwama foragers will attack in close combat, ramming against players.
Kwama foragers are the lowest tier of the kwama hierarchy, not counting scribs as they are a larval form and still growing. They are brownish tan, cone shaped and wormlike, with a round mouth and several small teeth. Kwama foragers move with a distinctive squishing sound that alerts players to their presence. Kwama foragers, along with kwama warriors, are the only types of kwama that will attack players on sight rather than only in self-defense, however they will not attack egg miners due to their scent.
|Kwama: Forager||23||1–3 points melee||Kwama Cuttle|
Kwama Workers are the workhorses of kwama egg mines. Their place in the kwama hierarchy is to serve the kwama queen, care for the eggs, and produce food for the mine, although what kwamas eat is uncertain. Kwama workers are generally docile and will not attack passerby, but if attacked they will defend themselves. Kwama workers are situated roughly in the lower middle tier of the kwama hierarchy, directly above kwama foragers and below kwama warriors, both of which are hostile to intruders. Kwama workers are brown, striped with darker and lighter areas of the same color, and quadrupedal.
In game, players may choose to attack Kwama workers for training or sport. This is discouraged by NPCs such as Kwama miners, as kwama workers are one of the more important members of an egg mine. Despite this, killing workers or damaging eggmines in any other way has no effect on in-game economy.
|Kwama: Worker||30||1–6 points melee||Kwama Cuttle|
Kwama Warriors are the defenders of kwama egg mines. They defend the passageways of the mine and attack intruders on sight. They are aggressive and highly dangerous to low level players, however most low level characters will not be asked to go to dangerous mines. Kwama warriors will cast lightning based spells on intruders from afar or may rush in and attack in close combat.
Their place in kwama hierarchy is the upper middle - directly above kwama workers and below kwama queens. Kwama warriors resemble a bipedal, slightly larger kwama worker, with what appears to be a kwama forager in its mouth, however the mouth is upside down compared to the worker. Kwama warriors are most often seen in or near the queen's lair, protecting her from intruders, so in larger egg mines warriors may not be seen near the entrance, making the mine deceptive at times.
|Kwama: Warrior||45||3–9 points melee||Kwama Cuttle|
Kwama queens are the "leaders" of kwama egg mines, found in the deepest chambers of egg mines. These areas are often referred to as "queen's lairs." The queens are bloated and unable to move to defend or even feed themselves, and so are protected by kwama warriors, and tended to mainly by kwama workers. A kwama queen is the most important part of an egg mine, as she is the only egg layer. If a queen is killed, the mine is effectively killed as well. This can devastate the Vvardenfell economy as egg mines are a prime source of income, food, and employment. Though there are many egg mines, shipment of kwama eggs to certain regions can take longer because they are being shipped from a farther source instead of the region's primary source. Shortages of kwama eggs are also likely in the event of the death of a kwama queen. If the queen contracts the ashblight, it can cause the entire mine to be shut down temporarily due to the higher probability of attacking kwama, as the ashblight will alter their thoughts, perception and knowledge. Another problem is that eggs from a blighted mine are inedible. The effects of this can be reversed by curing the queen, though it will most likely be a while before the mine could get back up on its feet.
Kwama queens are at the top of kwama hierarchy, above kwama warriors. Kwama queens are quadrupedal, brown and have what looks like a kwama forager in its mouth, similar to a kwama warrior. As stated before, they are extremely large and bloated, with an off-white eggsack on the rear. Kwama queens are the single easiest creature to kill in Vvardenfell as they are incapable of defending themselves, but are often protected by dangerous kwama warriors.
|Kwama: Queen||68||6–18||Kwama Eggs|