Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

Archive for the tag “Sotha Sil”

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.

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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.
Read more…

The Asylum Sanctorium (subtitle: The Tribunal Are the Worst)

@Zells - sepia stone - smallEvery time new DLC is announced, I always think this’ll be the one that gets me to log into the PTS.  Once again, however, now that Clockwork City has gone live on the PTS, I’m deciding to wait.

But I read all the press releases, watch the live streams, and the Asylum Sanctorium cracks me up:

Half house of healing, half shrine, this isolated area of the Clockwork City serves as a sanitarium for inhabitants driven mad by the strangeness of its artificial environment. It is also the permanent home of three Dunmer Saints that Sotha Sil transformed into immortal machines. The sanity of these fearsome creatures has been eroding ever since.

The Tribunal are just the worst, aren’t they?

Let’s break this down.  In the history of Elder Scrolls games, have you ever once met a hybrid construct that was NOT insane?  It’s almost like the act of shoving a living soul into a machine is not a good idea.  Go figure.

So there’s these three saints, heroes who served the Dunmeri people and are venerated by them, but Sotha Sil doesn’t care about any of that, because hey, it’s Tribunal Time now, the Velothi saints are yesterday’s news, and besides, Sotha’s got an experiment he wants to try.  It’s never in the history of Mundus been a viable idea, but he’s Sotha Friggin’ Sil, right?

Souls in the Elder Scrolls mythos are never destroyed; they just move from plane to plane.  It seems likely our genius inventor buddy would know that.  But even so, he grabs these souls, shoves them into metal bodies, and when he sees they are not handling it well (because no one ever does), he… builds a Clockwork Arkham to contain them.  He could have released them, rather than locking them in a bigger box, but he didn’t.

(The same way Vivec could just set that moonlet down somewhere, but instead chooses to leave it hanging over Vivec City as a constant threat to “his” people.  “Love me, or I’ll kill you with a rock. This rock right here.”)

In their lifetimes, these saints could have been Secretly Horrible People, but we don’t know that, and even if they were, who deserves that fate?   And even if they did, do the people who will be slaughtered by those monstrosities when they finally break free deserve that?

(Tony Stark has more ethical restraint w/his inventions than Sotha Sil does.  Let that sink in.)

Sotha Sil has to know imprisoning the Saints is not a long-term plan.  He has to know they’re going to get worse.  He has to know that when they get worse, they’re going to be “worse” forever – these are souls he’s torturing, when they break, they’re permanently broken.  And eventually, everybody escapes Arkham and causes havoc, death, and destruction, right?  James Gordan could have told Sotha an “Asylum” wasn’t a good plan.

My last comment contains MAJOR Spoilers from TES 3: Morrowind, and speculation about the Clockwork City plot, so I’m putting it behind a cut. Read more…

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