Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

Welcome to Letters from Tamriel

As players of The Elder Scrolls games well know, no situation in Tamriel is so dire that one cannot take a moment to jot down a few notes in a journal or letter to a loved one, perhaps including three-fifths of a puzzle solution for those who might come along later.

In this spirit, Letters from Tamriel will feature the epistolary fiction of my characters from Elder Scrolls Online, writing home with tales of their adventure and intrigue.  Those letters will be interspersed with my discussions of game mechanics, TES history and backstories, and other ESO-related topics.  Start with the Category “About This Site”, or pick a character and click their Category to read through their letters sequentially.

Pull up a chair, grab a sweetroll, and enjoy!

@Zells

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TES6 Speculation

E3 has come and gone, but the shock waves are still rolling from the announcement that Bethesda is, yes, working on Elder Scrolls VI. We are years away; the game is only in pre-production at this point, but… it IS in pre-production. 🙂 We’re looking at a release date of 2020 or 2021.

I’ve watched a few reaction videos, and my favorite is Scott on the FudgeMuppet channel at YouTube. He looks at the promo vid, then compares the geography to Tamriel, as well as considering lore, to figure out the setting of the game. Lots of good info in this vid, and his logic is solid, given what we know. Check it out:

I think his guesses are good guesses, and I don’t really disagree with his conclusions – High Rock and/or Hammerfell seems most likely. But I thought I’d take a look at some of the foundation assumptions he makes at the beginning of his argument.

Spoiler warning: I discuss the endings of previous TES solo games in this post. Click the Read More tag at your own peril. 🙂
Read more…

Summerset How-To post errata

@Zells - sepia stone - small I have made two small updates/corrections to the Summerset How-To post:

1) The recipe that affects fishing (I believe it’s called Lure Allure) no longer causes you to receive x2 drops with each cast. That was a glitch, not the intended effect of the food, and it has since been patched. Darnit. The actual intended effect, currently in play, gives a solo fisher the same increased chance at rare fishing drops that would be received if two people were fishing together.

2) Jewelry with the Swift trait is a possible drop from jewelry crafting writs as previously stated, but I missed one thing – the trait mat for Swift, Gilding Wax, is available from the masterwrit vendor Rolis Hlaalu. The cost is 20 vouchers.

And on a related note – I’ll also be updating my how-to guide for Thieves Guild Heists and Dark Brotherhood Sacraments to include the Swift trait and jewelry crafting. It’s now possible to make Night’s Silence jewelry, and also possible to transmute your current Night Terror jewelry so it has the Swift trait, which will be a godsend for those runs.

Lore: Elder Scrolls Cosmology

Mage-tile-small

The Mage Constellation as depicted on an Ayleid tile; ESO.

The Elder Scrolls game world has one of the most interesting, complicated, and rich metaphysics of any fictional world I know, but the universe is not shaped like ours and doesn’t follow the same rules, and understanding the form of it requires digging through a ton of in-game books and visual references. As players we are involved in plots spanning both the physical planet of Nirn and the celestial structures around it, but it can be difficult to understand where you are or why.

This post will be a primer – I may at some point come back and explore some aspect further, but for now I’d like to share a basic overview of Elder Scrolls cosmology.

If your eyes have already glazed over, this is probably not the post for you. For the rest – I’ll meet you after the cut. 🙂
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Summerset How-To Essentials: farming, quest-starters, skill lines, dailies, etc.

@Zells - sepia stone - small

No lore or fluff this time – this is a comprehensive, nuts-and-bolts, “How To Get The Thing” guide to Summerset. How to start the big quests, where the motifs drop, how to get the collectibles, achievement furnishings available, etc. Let the checklist making begin!

After the cut:
Main Quest – how to begin
Psijic Order – how to begin
Skill lines – Psijic; jewelry
Dailies – where, who, how
Jewelry – how to begin / new traits, how to get
Motifs – where to farm pages
Crafting Stations – set descriptions / station location map
New Alchemy Reagents – what to farm
Housing – where, how to purchase
Furnishings – what, how to get
Collectibles / Mementos / Emotes – what, how to get (public dungeon info)
Additional events – Abyssal Geysers (w/map); Relics of Summerset (w/map)
Additional Achievements – new Crafting achievements
Daily Log-in Rewards – what, how
Read more…

Lore: Summerset – Sload

Couldn’t quite let the Sload thing go, decided to come back and explore further.

“Sload.” In my decades in Tamriel, I’ve heard the word, but never really tracked it down. Sload, the Coral Kingdom, Thras, the Coral Tower… those are all familiar, but I didn’t know what / where they were. A Sload npc was featured in the game Redguard, but that’s the one I missed.

During the Summerset promotions, I heard reference to the Sload as enemies of the Altmer, not as invasives creature like dreugh, but as an organized force with tactics and magic. That was super confusing. Are they people, or are they monsters, I kept asking.

Answer: yes. They are people-monsters.

Let’s start with a picture:

Sload Adult Yeeeeeeeah. I’m sticking with my “salt & flamethrower” plan. Who knew Jabba the Hutt had descendants on Tamriel?

And now I’m gonna have that laugh in my head all day. Good job, Zells.

(Turns out the Jabba look is totally intentional. While researching, I found that Michael Kirkbride said Jabba was an inspiration when he was creating the Sload. Also, the name is a portmanteau of slug and toad.)

History, life cycle, habits, and more after the cut. The “life cycle” part includes “grubs”; don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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Lore: Summerset – 10 things to know

@Zells - sepia stone - smallThis time of year always kicks my butt. The amazing thing, though, is how surprised I am by that every year. I make lists in March, and around mid-May I look at them, laugh, throw the lists away, and start again.

Point being – I promised Summerset lore, and for some of you, Summerset will be dropping in 5 days… And here we are: 10 points of lore to know before you go. Sorry it’s a bit on the late side, but there’s Altmer, Maormer, Aedra, Alaxon, Towers, cults, politics, psijics, and slugs after the cut. And more!

One note, however: I have been on the PTS a little, but have not completed more than a couple of steps of the main quest, and never made it to Artaeum. There’s some speculation below, but it isn’t informed foreshadowing, it’s just me thinking out loud.
Read more…

Crown Sale! Earthtear! Whee!

@Zells - sepia stone - small

Have been super busy lately (sorry about the silence!), but I almost posted yesterday just to whine about the fact that it had been 19 weeks since the last Crown sale. I’ve been waiting since February to buy Crowns for Earthtear Cavern, and I was beginning to drum my fingers impatiently on the desk. There may have been some frowning.

But lo! Today begins a Crown sale! Huzzah! Much rejoicing! Earthtear shall be mine!

(!!!All Teh Exclamation points!!!)

And yes, I’ve seen the Aldmeri Grotto, and yes, it’s… all-the-superlatives. Truly magnificent. Outclasses Earthtear by a solid mile. So much so that it was a bit overwhelming – I’d actually rather try and talk my favorite guild into getting it than have it myself. Also… I have plans for Earthtear; I’ve been playing in it for months, I will not be side-tracked. Gimme. :p

Summerset Isle as a whole is a spectacularly beautiful zone, in that super-manicured-lawn-way of the Altmer. I’ll put up some screenshots next week. I also have a couple of posts mostly-finished about alt builds – speed/harvester build, thief build, etc. – and hopefully will get those up next week. Also planning a farming guide for the new motifs. Oh, and I’ve been doing research on the Psijic Order and Altmer history/mythology.

Hm. Perhaps another reason I haven’t posted lately is because I’ve started a half-dozen things I haven’t finished, lol.

But for now I’m basking in the glow reflected off my new shiny stack of Crowns, and looking forward to logging in tonight. 🙂 wooooooooooot

Morrowind access changes!

@Zells - sepia stone - smallSuper big news just hit, and I want to help spread the word. The official press release from ZOS is at this link.

In a nutshell: when Summerset drops on June 5, the patch update will change Morrowind access – it will become a DLC. That means all ESO+ subscribers will have it. Additionally, the Battlegrounds will become part of the base game, available to everyone. The Warden class will not be fully unlocked, but it will be available for purchase in the Crown store, and there will also be a Crown store pack that will contain the digital extras currently available by purchasing Morrowind.

When Morrowind was first announced, there was a collective uproar from the community because the ESO+ description says subscribers have access to all DLCs, yet to get around that, ZOS deliberately defined Morrowind as a “chapter” instead. It’s still a point of contention, and I get why. But I was in retail a long, long time, so I also understand profit margins, and the pros and cons of living in a capitalist society. I didn’t like ZOS’s decision, but I understood it. There’s a reason pay-to-play expansions are a standard in the MMO world.

No decision is going to please every single person in the community, but this feels like a great compromise, and if it’s the new model, I approve.

Happy Birthday, ESO!

ESO is 4 years old this month, but there were no holiday events the first year, so we are heading into the 3rd birthday party. Official announcement release is at this link.

The birthday event may be my favorite. Possibly because it was the first event – they have holidays in WoW and I missed them in ESO, so I was excited they’d been introduced, and I like that they started with a birthday celebration.

But I also like the event because the rewards are linked to dailies & weeklies, which means a wide variety in activities you can do to participate. My biggest single issue w/the the events (which I think is everyone’s issue) is that repeating the same activities for the rewards gets boring. Not an issue during the birthday fest.

Also: rare motif pages can drop in the reward boxes, and as a craftaholic, I’ve been looking forward to those reward boxes for months. 🙂

It amuses me that the cakes get a new tier each year; that’s going to be a biiiiig cake in a decade.

Chef and Jubilee Cake - ESO 2nd yr birthday

Last year’s two-tier cake.

In addition to announcing the event, the promo article also listed a bunch of fun stats, which I’m copying below… and congrats to my EP buddies, I feel I should add. 🙂


ESO Turns Four!

In these four years, we’ve been proud to hit some big-time milestones, including 10 million players last year. That said, the ESO community has hit some pretty amazing milestones of their own. Check out these incredible in-game statistics from PC/Mac launch until today:

  • Total number of monsters killed: 15,881,472,493
  • Total number of players killed: 1,346,033,201
  • Total number of Soul Gems used: 1,183,836,570
  • Total number of quests completed: 2,064,266,404
  • Total number of items crafted: 7,415,834,454
  • Total number of achievements earned: 1,145,234,018

And, finally, here’s some additional numbers that might surprise:

  • Most popular race: High Elf (14.98% of all characters)
  • Most popular Alliance: Ebonheart Pact (36.33% of all characters)
  • Most PvP Kills by Alliance: Ebonheart Pact (122,490,253 kills)
  • Highest unpaid bounty: 248,655,731 gold
  • Highest paid bounty: 362,324 gold

Chapter 2: Summerset Isle

@Zells - sepia stone - smallBack in this post I speculated on the content of the next chapter, and at that point I had my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t be Summerset. Not that I hate the idea, but there are just so many other areas I’d have liked to seen them add first.

Not too proud to admit when I’m wrong, however, and I was. As y’all know by now, we’re heading to Summerset. There was foreshadowing galore, it makes sense… my denial had more to do with how much I want to see Azura’s realm of Moonshadow more than, y’know, logic. Maybe next year. 🙂

The Altmer are interesting, and I’ll do a lore post or two about them before the chapter hits. And I’m certainly not going to argue about how beautiful the promo footage looks. But there’s one thing in the new chapter I didn’t anticipate at all, and hadn’t heard anyone speak of in rumor: the Psijic Order.

The Psijic Order is mysterious but super cool, and I’ve wanted to know more about them for years. Excited to finally meet them, and even more excited that we get to join. This is a much bigger deal to me than Summerset itself. The new skill line sounds… game-changing, in many ways. I love the idea of the Do Over ability as time manipulation, since that’s their thing. I’ll probably also be doing a lore post on the Order – there’s not a whole lot we know about them, and I think they’ve flown under the radar of a lot of players. Entirely possible for a TES player to not know of them at all if they haven’t played Skyrim. And even then, you know of them, but not necessarily about them.

And, of course, the biggest news to hit the game for a while: jewelry-crafting is coming. We don’t know a lot right now, but in the stream Rich specifically mentioned Hunding’s Rage jewelry, so we’ll definitely be able to craft jewelry for currently-craftable sets. That will make a huge difference in building set combinations – to date it’s been impossible to wear two crafted sets unless you were wearing the Endurance/Willpower/Agility jewelry, which beginning players – or those who don’t do PvP or group content – won’t have. It eliminates some of the jigsaw-puzzle aspect of set-building, and, of course, it will mean a drastic change in how much folks have to farm to complete an end-game set.

Honestly, I’m impressed with how much effort they’ve put into eliminating the worst of the grinding – between transmutation and jewelry crafting, it will no longer be necessary to run the same dungeon a jillion times to get a gear set. IMO, it’s a bit of a risky move for an MMO – the standard model across most MMO platforms is for end-game content to suck up player time with forced-grinding situations. It’s why a lot of players leave MMOs, get bored, or don’t play them to begin with. So I applaud the shift, and also the guts it took to step away from the standard formula.

On the off chance that you haven’t seen the official announcements, here’s the link to the article on the ESO website, and if you missed the original announcement interview, here’s the Twitch link. Rich is wearing pants this time. 🙂

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