Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

Archive for the category “Lore”

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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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.
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Conversations with Sotha Sil

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

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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!

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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.
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Lore: Lorkhan’s Tears

In ESO’s Alchemy system, plants you harvest can be mixed with waters (“solvents”) to create potions. The kind of water determines the level of the potion: “Natural Water” makes lvl 3 pots, and the highest level of water for CP pots is called “Lorkhan’s Tears”.

A while back someone in guild chat asked: “Who is this Lorkhan dude, and why is he crying?” My first response was “The answer to that question is the plot of Morrowind” because for me all roads lead back to Morrowind. But there’s a longer, better answer, deeply rooted in Elder Scrolls mythology, and I’ve had requests for lore posts, so we’ll start here. Turns out Zellur’ra is a bit of a bard, and she’s going to tell us a story of Lorkhan.

Caveat: “A” story of Lorkhan, because each of the races has their own mythology and interpretation of cosmic events, and there is much contradiction in the lore. Lorkhan’s myths are particularly confusing to follow through in-game books, b/c depending on the race’s perspective, some see him as a savior/creator deity, yet some see him as an evil figure, the cause of mortality itself, and therefore, the instigator of all mortal suffering. To deepen the confusion, each race calls him by a different name – to the Khajiit he is Lorkhaj, (as in “the Maw of”), but the Nords call him Shor.  Zellur’ra is Khajiit, but this is not the Khajiit myth; this version most closely follows the Imperial tale, though the Imperials call him Shezzar.

And now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, Zellur’ra can take over… Read more…

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