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Welcome to the Imperial Library, your source for Elder Scrolls lore since 1998. Browse our collections to the left, or join the discussion on the Storyboard above.

New to the Library? Check out this handy guide.


Today is Tirdas, 17th of Hearthfire


TES25 Gallery Updates

We've got some very special old new art for you guys today. Thanks to TheRockWithAMedicineCupOnHisHead, we've been able to obtain some never-before-seen Arena and Daggerfall concept art, as well as high resolution scans of the Redguard intro movie. Our very own Benefactor uncovered a treasure trove of Oblivion concept art, which has never before been posted on the internet. And I, meanwhile, compiled all of Ray Lederer's Skyrim concept art into one big gallery. As far as I'm aware, this is the first time most of this art has been gathered in one place!

Together, these galleries tell a story of evolution, starting in 1993 with an Arena that was not yet an RPG (much less an Elder Scrolls game), and ending in the most successful TES title of all time. In the coming months we will be updating our galleries with even more artwork to cover Elder Scrolls Online, Legends, Blades, and beyond. 

Check out a few choice pieces below, and click each gallery for more wonderful art. 

1993 — Arena location paintings by David Lee Anderson

1994 — Daggerfall concept art by Mark Jackson. (Warning: Like the game, this gallery contains nudity. Not suitable for work or for minors.)

1994-95 — Daggerfall logo concepts and 1995 CES mockup cover, by David Lee Anderson.

Circa 1998 — Redguard Movie stills, by Mark Jackson

Circa 2003-2005 — Oblivion concept art, by R. Todd Broadwater and Matt Carofano

Circa 2009-2010 — Skyrim concept art, by Ray Lederer

Please do not republish or rehost this art without explicit permission from the artists and from Bethesda. 

Cartography Update

It's been over a year since the last update to the cartography section, and a lot has come out since then. In addition to the in-game maps for ESO's recent updates, I've also uploaded some of their beautiful and evocative concept art maps: 

And the less pretty, but definitely still interesting (especially for other cartographers!) heightmaps extracted from Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim's data files: 

Check out the full set of updates in the Cartography section.

Update Roundup: April

Lots of texts were added to the Library this past month. In case you don't follow us on Discord or social media, here's a sampling of the updates: 

  • Faction introductions found on the old elderscrollsonline.com. Thanks to Benefactor for bringing these (and the other missing ESO out of game texts below) to my attention. 
  • Texts from the ESO Interactive Map found on the old official site. These little snippets did not make it into the game itself. There are a lot of them, so we've divided them based on the region that they appeared. 
  • Texts relating to the "Nameless Mage" contest, which resulted in the character of Malkur Valos. 
  • Promotional letters from Queen Ayrenn and Abnur Tharn, sent to community members in the real world to promote Summerset and the Year of the Dragon. 
  • Transcription of the ESO Live episode featuring the new Loremaster, Leamon Tuttle. TIL and myself get a nice shoutout, by which we're eternally humbled. Accompanying that, we've also reposted UESP's interview with him
  • Elder Scrolls Blades storyline - while this one was technically the tail end of March, it's still worth a mention. The majority of the story is now online, with the final chapter currently in progress. 
  • And, finally, Todd's Skyrim notes. Also technically from March, this small document is a fascinating look at where Skyrim began and how it changed through production. 

With Elsweyr on the horizon, May is going to be a big month for lovers of Khajiit, dragons, and necromancy. We can't wait for all the juicy lore the Chapter has in store! 

Blades, and an Oral History of Morrowind

The anniversary celebrations continue!

First up, do not miss this absolutely fantastic Polygon interview with ten of Morrowind's developers, including Michael Kirkbride, Ken Rolston, Todd Howard, Mark Nelson, and more. It's very long, but jam packed with behind the scenes information and character. 

Next, Elder Scrolls: Blades has officially gone into Early Access! You can download the app on Android now and soon on iOS, and keep an eye on your email to see if you've been granted entry. And if you simply can't wait for spoilers, I've begun documenting the main quest path here, though it is still very small and work in progress.

Happy 25th, Elder Scrolls!

On this day, 25 years ago, Elder Scrolls Arena first introduced us to the world of Tamriel. Happy anniversary! 

Bethesda is hosting all sorts of celebrations, both online and in person at PAX East in Boston. Check out their big news post for more

Most importantly, if you don't already own Morrowind, head here and use the code TES25TH-MORROWIND to get your free copy. 

Prepare for the Season of the Dragon

Need a refresher on Elsweyr, dragons, or necromancy before the big Elder Scrolls Online reveal on Tuesday? We've got you covered!

Elsweyr

Both leaks and official statements show that we'll be traveling to Elsweyr this year. It's reasonable to assume that the whole province will be part of the mid-year Chapter release, with the first quarter dungeon DLC potentially being a preview to the region. Check out the books below for an overview of the province and its feline inhabitants.

If you're interested in the developer thinking behind creating the Khajiit, our archive of Douglas Goodall's posts is a great place to start. Meanwhile, the linguists and roleplayers among you will be interested in our new Ta'agra dictionary and in the thread archive for Ta'agra Phrases and Expressions.

Dragons

Unlike Elsweyr, which has had a long presence in Elder Scrolls lore, dragons have been obscure and unexplored until TES5: Skyrim. Between Elder Scrolls Online's Season of the Dragon and the upcoming Elder Scrolls: Blades, 2019 is shaping up to be their year. Here are a few texts to introduce you to these divine creatures.

Also of interest is Where Were You When the Dragon Broke, which interviews various cultural leaders about the Middle Dawn. While the Middle Dawn occurred back in the first era, and the Dragonbreak at Rimmen that R'leyt-harhr mentions won't happen until the very end of the second, the broken dragon tablet sent out by Zenimax Online may be a clue that the DLC will feature a Dragonbreak in some fashion.

Necromancy

Datamining indicates that the Necromancer will be a new class included in this year's chapter. Take a look at the following books if you're thinking of roleplaying these vilified (or misunderstood?) mages.

Have a great source you think I've missed? Want to tell us about your Elsweyr hopes, fears, and predictions? Let us know in the comments below!

If you're eager to talk to other lore fans about the upcoming content, our friends at UESP.net are doing a pre-release speculation on Monday at 8PM Eastern on their Twitch channel. Be sure to check it out! 

Dictionaries and Loremaster's Archive

Hello fellow scholars! I wanted to let the beautiful artwork and engrossing fiction of our 20th anniversary contest sit at the top of the front page for a while, but I think it's high time to highlight some of the new things added to the library.

First off, I've begun the task of re-organizing and updating our translation dictionary page. The old dictionary (still available for now) was strictly alphabetical, which worked OK when there were few known words. Now, however, most tongues have dozens of words on record and are better grouped by language. As part of the modernization of this section I've also reworked the formatting, added more explanatory comments, and added words for which no translations are known. Perhaps most importantly, I've gone through and thoroughly sourced every word, linking it to its documentation where possible and always noting whether the translation was provided by a character/developer or if it was extrapolated by fans. An important distinction! 

Four languages are up so far. Ta'agra and Jel still have some missing words, but Kothri and Riekling (which has never before been translated) are complete. 

Other languages are also in progress, and will be added to the library as soon as they reach a presentable state. If you're aware of any in-game (versus in-book) words missing from the above four, please let us know!

Another big news item was the release of Murkmire. We caught up with the books from the DLC during its preview stage, and have now also added the two Loremasters Archives released alongside it. Both Part 1 and Part 2 are located in the Interview section in the sidebar, and provide tons of interesting details about Black Marsh and its inhabitants. 

20th Anniversary Contest Winners!

First off: a big thank you to all who entered! The submissions we received were absolutely astounding, and selecting the winners was a very hard choice, both for the judges and for the public. Everyone who submitted deserves a big round of applause, you guys did fantastic work!

Please check out all our wonderful submissions for art at this link, and for fiction at this one.  

Without further ado, here are the winners for both contests! 

Art Judge's Choice Grand Prize

Clockwork Giant - by Sak/Quartervirus (PatreonTumblrDeviantArtFacebook, TwitterInstagramArtStation, website

Art Popular Vote Winner

A Moment - by Zet Leonhart (TwitterTumblr)

Art Runners Up

Nasty contract - by Hartiganhero (deviantArt)

Sigillum Sanguis - by Alfred Khamidullin / Hieronymus7z (website)

Writing Judge's Choice Grand Prize

On the True Form of Tamrielic History and the Spreading of Knowledge - by Lena D. (website)

Writing Popular Vote Winner

Journal of Septimus Signus, v.1 - by Michael Connor (FanFiction.net)

Writing Runners Up

LAY OF LIFE AND DECAY - by Khajiiti M&M

Empty Night - SilenceOfAutumn (Reddit

A big congratulations to all the winners! I'll be getting in touch with you shortly about claiming your prizes, so keep an eye on your email inbox. 

 

Like I mentioned above, this was an extremely tight race. As such, I wanted to also highlight the works that were just a few points shy of a win. 

Teaching Proper Cyrodiilic to Nord Children: A Bruma Schoolteacher's Guide - by HeroesofTamriel (Tumblr)

The Era of Order - by General Aulus 

Return to Orsinium - by Apalethe (in ESO as @SmallCritter)

A Study on Memory and its Affect on Reproduction - by Sothas

The 'World-Eater’ Myth - by Lost in Hyrule

You are not a Battlemage - by Alex Pecha

History of the Companions, 4th Era - by Ilanisilver

The Vul Okaaz Tome - by Ard

1:16 new life festival flag - by Michael Taylor

The Dark Brotherhood - by Roorensama (TumblrInstagram

The Fall of an Empire - by Ravnie (InstagramTumblrDeviantArt, Twitter)

Long Road to Maar Gan - by Anton Makarau (BeefPuppy) (TumblrTwitter

 

Thank you once again to everyone that entered - your work is amazing! Everyone's efforts will be forever preserved in on the Imperial Library under the "Collaboration" section in the sidebar. 

 

The Years Ahead

And so our month of celebration comes to a close. Twenty years is a long time, especially on the internet. There are a lot of great things in the works for the year ahead - a brand new bestiary and a complete overhaul and upgrade of the Guide to Daedra, not to mention the steady stream of new lore from Elder Scrolls Online and the upcoming Elder Scrolls Blades. For our last post, I asked some of our current and past contributors to talk about what they’d like to see in the future of Elder Scrolls lore and the Imperial Library. Here’s what they had to say:

I think the community is heading down a good path right now. The long break between TES releases gives us the chance to reflect and discuss how/where we want to take things in the future. Regardless of where the lore takes us, The Imperial Library will be there archiving lore books and interview until the end of time. Lol.

-Tailin Sero, Assistant Librarian

TIL has some fabulously talented people. It would be great to see a big collaborative writing project, something of, say, novella or '2920' length that had been brainstormed by a group and then written up by one or two of the good writers around here.

- Xui

I want TES lore to be expanded and explored. I could never understand people who would complain about a new game, because it showed a piece of lore unknown in previous games. And I'm not talking about any retcons here, I'm literally mentioning people who complain because there is new lore. Really? I hope The Elder Scrolls VI brings us a whole bunch of new things to archive in our good, old library. So far, The Elder Scrolls Online has been doing a fantastic job at providing us with new lore, but we do need a lore-packed, new singleplayer. The lore community is doing pretty fine, but I'd like to see more scholarly work at TIL forums. Don't be afraid! Noone will laugh at you here. If you do any mistakes, someone will politely point them out and maybe give advice. Honestly, we all made mistakes, we all forgot some lore and we all still have something to learn, even if we are TIL staff or other members of the community here. I doubt we'll ever run out of lore to research. I just think people could be more active in terms of publishing their thoughts and being involved in The Elder Scrolls Wiki or forums at TIL. Also, I would want the whole lore community to look at TIL as an example. A healthy, friendly, welcoming and open community, where anyone can talk about anything and find help. Over the years, in other places, I have seen people who would belittle others because they knew less lore. I have seen people who would hate someone for being on the same position as them in administrating a community. I have seen a lot of people who would disrespect others because they could. In my opinion, that's not acceptable, if a site or group is (or wants to be) a serious place to discuss TES.

-Stygies VIII, Assistant Librarian since 2017

I hope it continues to embrace its fan-driven side.

-Adanorcil, librarian 2006 - 2017

What about you? What are you excited to see in the coming year of Elder Scrolls? What articles or features would you appreciate us focusing on next?