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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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. 🙂

The Skooma Bubbler Conspiracy

If you got to this blog post from a “Skooma Bubbler” search, you’re probably looking for this information: the Bubblers and the pattern can still be gotten in-game, but only by pickpocketing npcs with the “Drunkard” designation. The Bubbler itself is a rare drop; the pattern is a very rare drop, but it’s possible. The best places to try are Inns, or towns with celebrations going on, like Skywatch or Windhelm. Good luck!

Now on to the Actual Post…

Khajiit-Skooma-BubblerIt’s the little things that keep me up at night, like the fact that we harvest honeycomb from wasps during the New Life Festival. What’s up with that ZOS? And this has bugged me from the first time I saw it. The picture on the left is a “Khajiit Skooma Bubbler”.

Look at the color of the glass and the curved shape of those weird pointy bits. I don’t know how much time you’ve spent looking at furnishing items, but I have an hour or two invested, and I call shenanigans.

Let’s take a look at some Dunmer furnishings:

Dark Elf furnishings side-by-side

And for comparison, here’s a few actually-Khajiit items:

Khajiit furnishings side-by-side

The shape of the pointy bits is different, the color of the gold metal is different, and no other Khajiit item is that green color.

That’s not a Khajiit Skooma Bubbler, y’all – that’s a Dark Elf Skooma Bubbler.

I’m imagining the dude who invented it was in the process of manufacturing and shipping out a few hundred of them when he got busted by Ordinators. He immediately pointed at his Khajiit slaves, shouted “All theirs!”, pocketed the gold in the confusion, and ran. The Ordinators said, “Sure, that tracks,” and killed all the Khajiit on site, because: Ordinators. They then labelled all the boxes “Khajiit Skooma Bubblers” and sent them to the evidence locker in Vivec City. Where, of course, they promptly went missing.

The Dunmer know darn well those things were designed with Vvardenfell glass by a Vvardenfell artisan, but as a people they excel at both self-deception and blame-shifting. Meanwhile, the Khajiit are like, “Meh, whatever, add the accusation to the list of injustices, just quit Bogarting.”

Conversations with Sotha Sil

This is what the inside of my head sounds like when I’m playing in Clockwork City. Happy Friday!

Screenshot_20171105_202049

People say life is the product of our choices, but I’ve never found that to be the case.
– Sotha Sil, at the culmination of Clockwork City’s main quest

Zells: Okay, but… the “Dancing Spider” fabricants: those were a choice, right? They didn’t exist, and you decided to make them, and now they’re everywhere, jumping on me, making that snickity-snackity sound with their pruning shear pincers as they try and sever my body parts… leaping clockwork spider-bots, Sil. You did that. On purpose. Choices matter.

Sil: Life is such a mystery; who among us can precisely define causality?

Zells: And hey, about that mega-processed “nutrient paste” everyone trapped in your Clockwork City eats to survive… I’ve noticed there are no graveyards here, no bodies. Have you ever considered that your choices are not the choices others would make, if they had the chance?

Sil: “Choice” and “chance” are both illusions, of course. The flow of time does not alter its course for the wishes of individuals, regardless of their nobility of purpose.

Zells: Riiiiight. Speaking of that no-graveyards issue – I also notice you encourage your apostles to be curious about all things, except information about the process by which you create your factotum servants is behind a hard firewall. And I’ve noticed the factotums say “By Seht’s Will I am bound” quite frequently. Would it be wrong to assume those factotums are powered by soul gems containing the souls of your former citizens? Perhaps that’s why so many of them end up “defective” and prone to attacking everyone? Since being trapped in a soul gem in a metal body is an unbearable existence that drives souls mad?

~cough~Asylum Sanctorum~cough~

Sil: Existential boundaries are always in flux, a continuum rather than a clear divide as we all like to fool ourselves into believing. From the long view, who of us can say what “life” even is?

Zells: Yeah, that’s what I thought. So glad we had this talk. You’re the worst, buddy.

Sil: I don’t disagree; I anticipate paying quite dearly for my many transgressions. If only I could have altered my behavior at some point and prevented any of this from happening.

Zells: If only.

Lore: Saint Alessia, Morihaus, & the White-Gold Tower

@Zells - sepia stone - smallSubtitle: How the Empire Got Its Groove On

Today we’re gonna talk about Alessia & Morihaus, the fall of the mer, the rise of men, and the founding of the Empire.

Also: history, metaphysics, the White-Gold Tower, the Ayleids, Pelinal Whitestrake, Minotaurs, the Amulet of Kings, Lorkhan, the dragonfires, and Akatosh. Oh, and blood. There’s a lot about blood. 🙂

All that and more after the cut!

Read more…

Mournful Aegis!

I have a long lore post about St. Alessia and the founding of the Empire almost ready to publish. I was going to finish that today, but then this happened:

Mournful Aegis at Hundings

There are many like it, but this one is mine. ❤

I’ll be moving him to Earthtear once I’ve got it, but right now he’s floating at the entrance of my Hunding’s – primary residence – so guildies can stop by and see. I don’t have enough item space to have the funerary statues set up there, but they are all out for viewing at another house, which I’m happy to take people to. Feel free to stop by if I’m on your friends list, and if not, send me a mail or a PM.

ESO’s Play-Test Server (PTS): what, how, why

@Zells - sepia stone - smallThanks to Earthtear Cavern, I have logged onto the Play-Test Server for the first time, and it’s been both frustrating and fun. Not everything was intuitively obvious, so I’m going to walk through what the PTS is, how you can access it, and why you might want to.

Annnnnd: cut. Read more…

March Crown Store offerings

Literally two posts ago, I wistfully asked ZOS to add magick-y-looking sigils and glowy bits to the furnishings. The reason I wanted them right now was so I could get a handful of Gargoyle achievement statues and make them look like they’re capable of coming alive to protect the treasure vault I’ll be building in Earthtear. It was a Plan B idea, since I couldn’t get large, animated monsters to put in there.

The March Crown store offerings have been announced, and this is the promo pic for a furnishings pack called Hubalajad’s Treasure Bundle:

RaGada funerary furnishings pack

That’s a “Mournful Aegis” in the center. It’s a guardian. Of treasure. It comes with the pack, which will be available March 8 through March 12. Also: tons of glittery valuables for the vault.

I mean…

Dear ZOS,

❤ ❤ ❤

Thanks & Kisses,
Zells

Lore: Origins of the Tribunal

When the Morrowind chapter was released, and I was hopping up and down and babbling about the TES3 storyline to anyone who would listen, several people told me they had either not played TES3, or hadn’t finished it. After my heart finished breaking, I asked if they knew the story from second-hand sources, and most of them either said no, or that they’d tried, but there’s so much material, and so much of it conflicts, that they hadn’t gotten to the end of it. This, therefore, is the story of how the Tribunal came to power. (But not the whole plot of TES3.)

Rather than me saying “this happened, then the other thing happened”, I’m presenting the story in character voice, as a vision. My character Umbra is a devotee of Azura, Azura’s pretty passionately involved in that story – and in the main story for ESO’s Morrowind chapter – and some of the information in the in-game lore books was originally written by Azurian priests.

To be clear, though Umbra and several of my characters hate the Tribunal, as a player I absolutely love them. I mean… I hate them, they’re the worst, but they’re also fabulous. Full of contradiction but consistently driven by the same motivations, regretful but also resolute, possessed of moments of true self-awareness in between their jaw-droppingly ridiculous delusions. The reason TES3 is so beloved is because the Tribunal has real resonance, and their story is amazing. After hundreds of hours playing TES3 and hearing rumors that Sotha Sil had disappeared, the moment when I finally found him in the game and saw why he was missing will stay with me as one of the most shocking moments from any video game, ever.

And on that note – should be clear by now, but this post is chock full of TES3 Spoilers, so the vision is behind the cut.

Last thing: As with all TES lore, the exact details of the Battle of Red Mountain and the apotheosis of the Tribunal are in dispute. Every source of information about the events is biased and accounts directly conflict. Everyone has an agenda, and their own story to promote. This is Azura’s version. More or less. I will post links to reference sources after the vision, because I am the kinda nerd who gives citations.
Read more…

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