Time in Morrowind is measured in two ways: game time (or in-game time) and real time (the passage of time in the real world). Game time passes faster than real time by a factor of 30, meaning 2 minutes of real time = 1 hour of game time, and 48 minutes of real time = 1 day of game time. You can attempt to check the current game time by pressing the rest button (default T), and any journal entries will have a timestamp with the day and month they were added. The rest menu will show the current hour, day, month, and days passed, but not the current year. Tamriel's calendar has 12 months (see bugs), with 28–31 days in each, and 7 days in each week.
What Time Affects
Unlike in future games, NPCs do not have schedules, and most do not react to the current time at all (though some NPCs will equip torches at night). Businesses are always open, and for the most part, quests can be given and completed at any time. In terms of game time, many things change over the course of days and months:
- Merchants' gold is reset after 24 in-game hours.
- Fauna and guild supply chests reset their contents after 4 in-game months pass.
- Some diseases, such as vampirism, require 3 in-game days to pass to cause transformation; corprus symptoms intensify every passing day.
- Corpses (excluding permanent corpses, such as that of Ralen Hlaalo) will disappear after 72 in-game hours have passed.
- Some creatures in the wild and in dungeons, and certain NPCs such as guards, will respawn after 72 in-game hours have passed.
- Hostile NPCs and creatures will stop being hostile after 72 in-game hours have passed (though if their fight rating is high enough, they might still become hostile the next time they see you).
- Some quests require timing (such as Fargoth's Hiding Place which can only be completed at night) or require time to pass (such as Boethiah's Quest which requires weeks for the statue to complete).
In terms of real time, the following things are affected:
- Durations of spell effects from spells and potions are measured in real time (i.e. a detect animal spell with a duration of 120 seconds will last 2 minutes in real time).
- Regeneration of fatigue when walking or standing still.
- Scripted events, such as the spherical doors to Arkngthand opening.
As long as the game is not paused by opening a menu, time is always passing. You can stand around and watch the sun and moons go by, but if you need a merchant's gold to reset, or need an NPC you accidentally assaulted to calm down, this is not convenient. Fortunately, you have several options at your disposal. The easiest way to pass game time quickly relative to real time is to rest or wait. Other things that pass game time include:
- Fast travel by means of silt strider, ship, and gondolier will cause several hours of game time to pass, depending on the distance between your starting location and destination.
- Paying for training will pass 2 in-game hours.
You can attempt to rest at any time by pressing the rest button (T by default). You can choose the duration of your rest, anywhere between 1 and 24 in-game hours. A successful rest will pass the chosen number of hours in game time, and will also restore some amount of your fatigue, health (unless you are a vampire), and magicka (unless you are subject to stunted magicka). Any magic items you have will refill some of their charge as well. After resting, most temporary spell effects will have worn off, unless they last a particularly long time. Be careful, though: if an offensive spell effect does more damage than you can heal, you might die while resting.
While you can attempt to rest at any time, it's not always possible, and some times you may even fail. Attempting to rest in the following situations will fail and display a message on the screen:
- In a town or house without using a bed.
- You will be prompted to wait instead.
- While falling, jumping, or levitating.
- While submerged in water or lava.
- While any hostile creatures or NPCs are anywhere nearby.
- This includes when being chased by guards, even if they aren't in combat with you yet.
- While in werewolf form.
If you rest in the wilderness or in dungeons, hostile creatures may ambush you. In both the wilderness and in the safety of a bed, you might be attacked by assassins, ash zombies (at certain points in the main quest), and may be awakened by strange dreams. Leveling up also requires rest. One hour of rest will suffice, and you'll still level up even if interrupted. You can unlock the rest function by activating the bedroll in the Census Office or by completing character creation. This bedroll is the safest place to rest, as nothing, not even assassins, will ever interrupt your rest on it.
Resting in the middle of town or in somebody's house is illegal, and the game won't even let you attempt it. Instead, you will be given the option to wait. Waiting functions similarly to resting: it passes time, your fatigue recovers, and magic items recharge. However, you won't restore any health or magicka, you won't transform into a vampire (if applicable), you won't level up, and nothing can interrupt you. You can't wait while in the wild or in dungeons, only rest. You can't wait while in werewolf form. Activating a bed, bedroll, or hammock will force you to rest and not wait. Activating a bed owned by an NPC or faction is illegal, and if caught, you can be arrested, fined, or expelled. See the crime page for details. To avoid any legal trouble, consider visiting a tavern and renting a bed.
- Resting outside as a vampire can kill you.
- Your fatigue, health, and magicka (if not under the Atronach) will recover while traveling by silt strider or boat.
- In the wild, scribs may interrupt your rest, despite not being hostile.
- If you're levitating, you will be unable to rest without activating a bed, even if your feet are touching the ground.
- Followers will restore their health while you rest.
- NPCs that wander may be in a different position after you rest or wait
- The Extra-Comfy Pillow will greet you with a message every time you rest, though otherwise affects nothing.
- Usually, when starting a new game, you can't use the rest function until either using the bedroll in the Census Office, or by finishing character creation. However, once you have unlocked the ability to rest, you can start a new game from the main menu (without closing the program), and then be able to rest before even leaving the prison ship. This can even cause Dark Brotherhood Assassins to attack you before you can defend yourself, but the escort guard will protect you if he hasn't stopped to stand under the exit hatch yet.
- If an extremely large amount of time has passed (such as by setting the timescale to a high number, causing thousands of days to pass every minute), many timed events will break. Merchants' gold will begin resetting every time you reopen the dialogue menu. Corpses will disappear as soon as you leave the cell. Guards and leveled creatures will respawn as soon as you return to their cell.
- The month of Morning Star never appears.
- This bug is fixed by the Morrowind Code Patch.
Set timescale: A Console command that can be used to alter the default ratio of game time to real time.