Dragonborn OT | Elder Scrolls Online OT | Skyrim Modding Thread | Lore Thread
Since we're in a lull between Elder Scrolls releases, some people thought a community thread might be in order. This is a place for people wishing to discuss anything Elder Scrolls related. This includes:
- the mainline games:
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Tribunal and Bloodmoon
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Shivering Isles
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Dawnguard and Dragonborn
- the side games
- the novels
Whether you just started Morrowind and want to tell everyone about the Scrolls of Icarian Flight you discovered, you're replaying Skyrim for the nineteenth time and you still get excited when a Legendary Dragon shows up or you've had a midnight revelation about how TES VI can be the best game ever: this is the place. And those who get a bit lost in the world post-Oblivion, this is for you:
It has been exactly 200 years since the previous edition of this Pocket Guide was released. Since then, many things have changed: an Empire has fallen and been reborn, borders have been redrawn and wars have been fought. So far, the Fourth Era has been a time of great turmoil. However, we at the Imperial Geographical Society are convinced many conflicts can be avoided with some simple common sense and knowledge. After all, one who knows what the Green Pact is won't be so eager to accept an invitation to a Bosmeri banquet! That is why, on the 200th anniversary of our previousguide, we bring you this new, updated version. This is not a simple update, but a complete rewrite, to paint an accurate picture of Tamriel as it is today. We hope this guide keeps you informed, and more importantly, safe.
Tamriel. It is a name we all know and all take for granted. Yet our continent has had many names over the course of history: the Arena; Starry Heart; Dawn’s Beauty. It has seen great unity and great strife. During the last years of the third era, in the time leading up to the Oblivion crisis, the land was relatively peaceful. To be true, even then there was unrest between the provinces, but the Elder Council handled their grievances while the Legion kept their more violent client states in line. After the collapse of the Third Empire, however, unrest between the provinces increased. Black Marsh annexed part of Morrowind, while the rest became an uninhabitable wasteland when Red Mountain erupted. The Thalmor seized control of the Summerset Isle and Valenwood and resurrected the Aldmeri Dominion. The Great War, fought between the Dominion and the new Empire of the Mede Dynasty, bathed the land in blood and fear. Not even the Imperial City, jewel of the Empire, was safe from the Aldmeri onslaught. Even now, after the White-Gold Concordat, peace is fragile.
Today, five nations remain on Tamriel. These are:
- The Empire
- The Aldmeri Dominion
- Argonia (or Black Marsh)
The Empire's influence may have declined, but its multiculturalism has endured. Many races inhabit Tamriel. While each has their own home province, small populations of each can be found throughout the entire continent. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.
On the Empire
Tamriel may be a land divided, but it finds a way to unite itself time and time again. When Alessia received the Amulet of Kings, she envisioned an Empire that would last forever. While the provinces have tried their best to break this unity, so far, it is still standing. There have, however, been some dark pages in its long history. Tales Aare still told of the Interregnum, when three factions vied for control of the Imperial City. Many still remember the songs sung of Molag Bal’s Dark Anchors, tightening his grip on our world with every pull on their winch. And who can forget the Imperial Simulacrum? All know the name Jagar Tharn, the trusted Imperial Battlemage, who imprisoned Uriel Septim VII in Oblivion and used a wicked glamor to take his place.
Next in the list is the Oblivion Crisis, which began when agents of the Mythic Dawn assassinated Uriel Septim VII and his heirs. In so doing, they extinguished the Dragonfires, weakened the veil between Mundus and Oblivion, and paved the way for an invasion by the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon. Only the intervention of a Hero and the last of the Septims could avert the tide of blood that would surely have followed.
Many believed the end of the Third Era would usher in a golden age, but that was far removed from the truth. The Stormcrown Interregnum, Umbriel, the Great War. The Empire is not as strong as it once was, but by the grace of the Gods and our Emperor, Titus Mede II, it has persevered.
The Empire consists of three separate nations: Cyrodiil, Skyrim and High Rock. The status of Skyrim, however, is contested due to the presence of the Stormcloak Rebellion in the eastern holds. More on that in the relevant section of this guide.
The heartland of the Empire. Cyrodiil, once a lush rainforest, has seen many changes over the years. It was the place where humans first rebelled against their Ayleid oppressors. It is the place where Reman Cyrodiil took his crown. It is the place where Talos became Tiber Septim and transformed the land. In more recent years, however, it is the place where both the Oblivion crisis, the Umbriel incident and the Great War came to a head.
But Cyrodiil is much more than that. It’s rolling hills and verdant forests. It’s fields of wheat and grain that reach as far as the eye can see. It’s ancient ruins, shining brightly in the sunlight. It is Colovia. It is Nibenay. It is the Imperial City, jewel of the Empire, where all cultures meet.
Our current Emperor, Titus Mede II, has reigned through some of the hardest times any Emperor has ever seen. It is thanks to his perseverance and leadership that we, as an Empire, remain standing. The memories of war, however, have not yet been extinguished in the minds of the people. The Imperial City is still being rebuilt after being occupied by the Aldmeri forces for a year. The Battle of the Red Ring, though it happened over thirty years ago, has left the city weakened and largely defenseless. Warriors, now old and bitter, have passed on their memories to their sons and daughters, ensuring this regretful conflict will not soon be forgotten.
Cyrodiil is the main base of operations for many of the larger guilds and collectives spread across the continent. It is home to the two largest magical organizations in Tamriel: the Synod and the College of Whispers. The Fighter’s Guild still maintains a strong presence as well. Lastly, it is the home of the Imperial Legion. Once, when the province was sheltered on all sides by allied states, the Legion stationed only a handful of troops in the capital, focusing its attention on quelling disturbances in the more remote corners of Tamriel. Recent years, however, have proven that even Cyrodiil is not safe. Today, it bolsters more Legionnaires than any province, and that number keeps growing every day. Cyrodiil has not forgotten the Great War, and will not for a long time yet.
Skyrim has an abundance of two things: freezing cold and ancient history. Long ago, the rugged land was inhabited by ancient elves. When humans first arrived in Tamriel from the northern continent of Atmora, they arived on Skyrim's frozen shores. There, they came into contact with the Snow Elves. Despite their differences, the races were initially at peace with one another. As time went on, however, the elves began to feel threatened by the ever increasing human population. In an event that later came to be known as the Night of Tears, the elves attacked, nearly wiping out all humans in the process. Only King Ysgramor and his sons escaped with their lives. They returned to Skyrim with a new Atmoran fleet and drove the elves away in a bloody war of conquest. And so, Skyrim became the first human kingdom on the continent.
Today, Skyrim is the home of the descendants of those first humans to set foot on the continent: the Nords. It is a cold land, but far from the frozen wasteland it’s sometimes made out to be: from the grassy tundra of Whiterun to the rocky badlands of the Reach, Skyrim is a province with a diverse geography. The province is divided into nine Holds, each ruled by a Jarl. Above the Jarls stands the High King, a Jarl elected to the highest seat of office by his peers. However, the land has been leaderless since Ulfric Stormcloak - the Jarl of Windhelm - assassinated the High King using his gift of The Voice. The Stormcloak Rebellion seeks to rid Skyrim of the Empire and, by killing Skyrim's ruler, has sparked a civil war.
The Stormcloaks and Imperials are not the only factions in Skyrim. Skyrim’s mages have organized into the College of Winterhold. The Companions offer swords and axes for hire. The Thieves Guild, operating from the city of Riften, is always looking for new ways to make the poor richer and the rich poorer. The Dark Brotherhood, shrouded in shadows, seems to have survived the purges of the early Fourth Era and retreated to the frozen shores of the north. Lastly, atop the Throat of the World, the highest mountain in Tamriel, reside the enigmatic Greybeards, masters of the Voice.
On High Rock
The birthplace of political Intrigue, High Rock is both one of the most civilized areas in all of Tamriel, and one of the most dangerous. The Breton people, due to their Elven heritage, have an affinity with magic that allowed them to construct some of the most wonderful structures in the world. And yet High Rock is now known for its Breton craftsmanship, in fact, the most famous building is undoubtedly the adamantine Direnni Tower on the isle of Balfiera. From this ancient structure, the Gods once oversaw the creation of Nirn. According to legend, it may well be the site where Lorkhan’s heart was sundered from his body, before being cast into the earth.
The Bretons are also renowned for their cooking. All over Tamriel, noble lords and ladies await the newest fashions in Breton cuisine. Even the Aldmeri Dominion is known to employ several human cooks.
On the Aldmeri Dominion
On the subject of the Dominion, many things can be said. There are those who are far better suited for such matters. As such, this Guide will only give a brief rundown of the Dominion and its actions prior to, during, and after the Great War. Consult your local bookseller if you wish to learn more.
The Aldmeri Dominion, much like the Empire, has seen various iterations throughout history. The seeds for the current Dominion were sown during the end of the Third Era. Slightly before the onset of the Oblivion Crisis, the Thalmor, a xenophobic political party, arose in Summerset Isle. A fringe party at first, the Thalmor seized control of the nation after the collapse of the Crystal Tower and the end of the Crisis. Thalmor agents proclaimed themselves as the saviors of Nirn, claiming it was them, and not Martin Septim, who delivered our world from evil. A claim they maintain to this day.
Soon after, the persecution of any and all citizens not of Altmer blood began. Many people were evicted, deported, and executed. The Thalmor believe that any beings not descended of the Altmer are lower forms of life. Having consolidated power over Summerset, now named Alinor, the Thalmor set its sights on nearby Valenwood. The Bosmer stood no chance. Those who subjugated were spared, the others were driven away or slaughtered. Even today, many Bosmer living in other parts of Tamriel are escapees from their home province. The Thalmor, now lord and master over two provinces, officially declared the birth of a new Aldmeri Dominion.
At the end of the first century of the Fourth Era, Masser and Secunda disappeared for two years. During this period of two years, now called the Void Nights, the Khajiit of Elsweyr grew restless and afraid. When the moons finally returned, the Thalmor claimed it was their doing. In gratitude, the Khajiit joined up with the Dominion. Once again, many Khajiit were displaced: those found outside the Dominion often still refer to their homeland by its original name. To the Dominion, the province came to be known as the twin states Pelletine and Anequina.
On the 30th of Frostfall of the year 4E 171, only three years into the reign of Emperor Titus Mede II, an Aldmeri ambassador arrived in the Imperial city. He carried with him a gift and an ultimatum: the Empire must disband the Blades, outlaw the worship of Talos, cede large portions of Hammerfell, and pay tribute to the Dominion. The Emperor, well aware of the weakened state of his Empire, still decided to refuse this ultimatum. Upon this, the ambassador revealed his gift: a cart, filled with the head of every Blades agent stationed in Valenwood and Alinor. The ambassador upended the cart, and when those heads touched the ground, the Great War began.
The history of the Great War is too long to describe in great detail here. The Empire suffered terrible losses as the Dominion conquered city after city. Ultimately, the Dominion ended up surrounding the Imperial City. The Emperor decided to abandon the city rather than make a final stand. He and his army broke through the enemy lines, headed north, and met up with Imperial reinforcements. The Aldmer quickly conquered the City, however, and many an atrocity was committed by the vengeful elves.
The Emperor, however, did not intend to leave his city for long. As he let the Thalmor believe he was about to surrender, he prepared his armies for one final push: a desperate attack to drive the enemy from the Empire, or die trying. The struggle that followed has become one of legend. The Battle of the Red Ring, as it is called, saw Titus II divide his forces to make a three-pronged strike. The Aldmeri army was completely destroyed. Shortly after, the Dominion and the Empire signed the White-Gold Concordat, ending the war. Critics might argue that the terms the Emperor agreed to were no better than the ultimatum offered by the Thalmor at the start of the war, but five years of bloodshed can make any man wary. The Imperial army was battered and beaten: a continuation of hostilities would have led to our utter eradication.
Today, the Dominion and the Empire hold an uneasy peace. Thalmor agents are given free rein to find and arrest worshippers of the false god Talos, while the Empire rebuilds its strength. It is this noble scholar’s opinion that a second storm might soon be upon us, and that we must all be ready to defend our lands, and our lives.
The homeland of the Dunmer was nearly destroyed during the start of the Fourth Era. A catastrophic eruption of Dagoth Ur, the Red Mountain, obliterated the island of Vvardenfell and covered the entire mainland with choking ash. The sky remained fire-red for over a year, leading to the nomenclature ‘the Red Year’. An army of Argonians, seeking revenge for the years of enslavement the Dark Elves visited upon their kind, marched into the Dunmer province and conquered nearly half of it before the natives could push them back. The Argonians retreated, but Morrowind ceded a large portion of land to neighboring Black Marsh.
The former capital of Almalexia was left in ruins, and the disappearance of the Tribunal (and their eventual exposure as false gods) led to a wave of anti-Tribunal sentiments throughout the land. Many Dunmer went back to the ancestor worship their forebears once practiced, while others embraced the Daedric Reclamations: Mephala, Azura and Boethiah. The Redoran city of Blacklight became Morrowind’s new capital, a place from where its dark-skinned, solemn people, can rebuild their nation in peace.
The cold island of Solstheim lies to the north of Morrowind and the northeast of Skyrim. It is more cold and rugged than even Skyrim: a fact the local Nords of the Skaal-tribe take great pride in. The island's southern reaches are more temperate than the harsh north, but not a lot. There is less snow, indeed, but the land still suffers from the after effects of the Red Year.
For a long time, Solstheim was a backwater in history. Nothing of great interest happened there until the late Third Era. During that time, the Empire established Fort Frostmoth on the island's southern shore, and the colony Raven Rock was erected. In 3E 427 the infamous Bloodmoon Prophecy took place on the island. Werewolves and hunters did battle in Hircine's name, as the Daedric Prince turned the moons as red as the blood of the fallen. Rumors that the Nerevarine was a part of this prophecy were rife, but have never been substantiated.
The island rose to prominence once again during the early years of the Fourth Era. When the Red Year struck Morrowind, many of the Dunmer fled their ancestral homeland. Solstheim, due to its proximity to Vvardenfell, quickly became a refuge for the Dark Elves, even though the land had historically always been claimed by the Nords of Skyrim.
Tensions were rife, but unfounded. Shortly after the Red Year, Skyrim extended its hand to the Dunmer and offered them the island, "untithed to any thane or hold, and self-governed, with free worship, with no compensation to Skyrim or the Empire except as writ in the Armistice of old wheresoever those might still apply, and henceforth let no Man or Mer say that the Sons and Daughters of Kyne are without mercy or honor".
Inspirational words, often cited as a prime example of Nord nobility. Politics may have been at the basis of this treaty moreso than mercy, but that does not diminish the gesture. The Nords and Dunmer, once bitter enemies, were suddenly united.
Also known as Black Marsh, not much is known about the ancestral homeland of the Argonians. The Saxhleel, as they call themselves, share an innate bond with the native race of intelligent trees called the Hist, and when Black Marsh is threatened, the Hist will do anything to defend it. During the Oblivion Crisis, the trees recalled a great deal of expatriated Argonians to Argonia. The Daedra were not used to fighting in marshes and forest, and the Argonians quickly managed to destroy any Oblivion Gate that opened. After the collapse of the Empire, most non-Argonians evacuated the area. Only few remain.