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Letters Between Sisters

Tori Schafer

Dear Alchemy,

I must confess, it’s strange to write your new name atop this letter. Still, I suppose I had many years to grow accustomed to your former one; you must excuse me if it takes a few more to feel a similar familiarity with Alchemy.

I’m sure that you wish to hear all about my new position. As expected, there’s little time to rest now that I’m officially assistant to the Sapiarch of Artifice. I’m asked to record lectures, organize notes, so on and so forth. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say I’ve found little difficulty with my assigned tasks.

However, I will admit that I often find myself struggling to keep up with my new colleagues. I had always thought myself intelligent and well read, but now realize just how woefully ignorant I truly am. And whenever I’m asked to voice an opinion, it’s as if my tongue suddenly turns to lead and I’m unable to utter a coherent thought. And to think that I once scoffed at anyone who was unable to keep up with my intellect. It is rather humbling, to say the least.

More than ever do I wish that I possessed even an ounce of your natural wit and grace. It seems you stole every bit of Mother’s charm when we were born, and I was only left with Father’s sullen disposition. Whereas you can dazzle crowds, I find myself barely able to stand out amongst my own peers. Normally I’d hole myself in my room and simply attend to my studies, but there is no denying that a certain social etiquette must be maintained if I wish to advance beyond a mere assistant. In truth, any advice you may have on the matter would be most welcomed.

I’m rambling. You always make me ramble, even when you’re not around. How do you manage it?

Now, despite sounding like a petulant child, I do want to know how you’re faring over in Rellenthil. And this time I want the entire truth of it. No more secrets between sisters, agreed? If I’m to bare my soul to you, I expect the same treatment in return.

Yours Always,


Dearest Rinyde,

My heart aches to think of you alone in that stuffy college, surrounded by dullards who do not see you for the shining beacon of loveliness that you are. If you find yourself unnoticed, it is simply because your colleagues have their heads too firmly lodged in their rear-ends.

My advice? Continue to be your delightful self. If there’s anyone of worth among your peers, they’ll eventually see that a diamond shines among mere glass baubles. And if you do find yourself fed up with such company, as I’m sure I would, make your way to Rellenthil for an evening of theater to lift your spirits. I’ll always be ready with a bottle of wine and a willing ear.

Everything is going splendidly here in the Manor of Masques. I’ve been selected as the leading lady of our next production, an entirely original piece inspired by certain current events that have befallen our homeland. I won’t say too much about my role for you will of course be attending our premiere production. Suffice to say, I do strike a lovely figure in black.

There is also something I’d like to confess. Your letter spoke of my many talents: my wit, my charm, my ability to stand out amongst a crowd. And while I do so love your words of admiration, I’m afraid that I don’t quite fit upon your pedestal.

I’ve never had your courage. While you speak your mind with conviction and strength, I hide behind clever words. I always have. I played whatever part best suited my audience, whether that was an obedient son, a mighty mage, a studious scholar. And when I found those roles too heavy a burden to bare all I could do was run. I didn’t have the courage to tell you how I truly felt, to face you when I most needed to.

That’s your strength, Rinyde. Even if others do not wish to hear it you’ll say what matters most. If you desire my wit, then I humbly request an ounce of your resolve. I believe that such an exchange would be more than fair.

Lovingly Yours,


Dear Alchemy,

I now know to read your letters in private, for your latest correspondence had me blubbering like a babe. I was luckily able to excuse myself from the Sapriach’s office before the tears started to fall, but still. Lesson learned.

You speak of my courage and conviction, but the truth is that it doesn’t take much of either to do what everyone expects of you. I was happy to follow our family’s laid path, thinking only where my next footstep should land. Meanwhile you were looking up at the sky, thinking of what you could be, what you wished to be. And my eyes were so firmly locked forward that I never noticed that your gaze had wandered.

You’re far braver than I could ever hope to be. You left everything behind, faced so much hardship, worked so hard in order to start your new life. If one of us must be admired, let it be my brave sister who defied every design laid upon her to be true to herself.

And here I was, plotting to take you away from all of it. I was horribly selfish, Alchemy. I’m so sorry. I told myself that I was doing what was best for you, for all of Summerset, but that wasn’t true at all. I was only thinking of myself. How nervous I was to become a sapriach’s apprentice, how much I wanted you by my side. And all along you were the one suffering most.

Yet you forgave me, and clasped me in your arms, and said you still loved me. And I will always be grateful for that, for I now realize more than ever that I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you. Truly losing you, not just your presence by my side but the love in your heart. It may take many more letters and many more years to make up for what I’ve done, but let me start by saying that I’m proud to be your sister and I will always love you.

Oh, and before I forget! While I would love to attend your performance, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it. The Sapriachs don’t tend to approve of time away for new apprentices. You’ll have to let me know how it goes.

Yours Forever,


Sweetest Rinyde,

For once, I don’t quite know what to say. I may be able to make you ramble and cry, but only you can make this actress at a loss for words. A rare gift.

I’ll admit, I was resentful of the future you saw for us. Distrustful that you would ever truly accept me. But you’ve shown me nothing but love since I’ve opened my heart to you, and so it’s time for such feelings to come to a close. Let us not dwell on the past, dear sister. Your acceptance of who I am now means more to me than anything. And allow me to echo your sentiment; whatever you do, whoever you shall become, I will always be there for you. Short of marrying a Sload.

I thought I would always be an outcast, but reconnecting with you has given me hope that needn’t be the case. One day I shall return to our family home. Not tomorrow perhaps, but someday. Our parents may not be as readily accepting as you were, but I wish to tell the entire truth of it, just as I told you. And I hope when that day comes that you will be by my side.

Besides, you may not always want to follow in our family’s laid path. Perhaps one day you’ll even wish to join me in the House of Reveries. And while it’s true you could not act if the fate of Summerset depended on it, worry not. I have a feeling you’d make for an amazing stagehand.

Speaking of my lovely troupe, I’ve thought long and hard about your inability to attend our latest production. As that obviously won’t do, I’ve made inquiries about holding an exclusive showing within the College of Sapriachs. After all, the school is quite prominent in our story’s plot, and I’m sure such a performance would do wonders for morale after that horrible attack. Don’t you agree?

With All the Love in My Heart,

P.S. I’ve caught word of our mutual friend. It appears they’ve been off slaying Dragons, if the rumours are to be believed! Really, I’m not sure how they get themselves caught up in such adventures. Perhaps they’ll visit soon and regale me with the tale.

Douglas Goodall on Sermon Zero

Sinder Velvin

Sinder Velvin: Talking about the Lessons of Vivec, why did you write Sermon Zero? Should it be interpreted as being official lore?

Douglas Goodall: I wrote it is as a kind of "me, too!" after reading the 36 Sermons. It was a tribute and a refutation.

I don't have any say anymore about whether it is official lore. I probably didn't leave extensive enough notes for them to make it official...

I figured that, regardless of whether the 36 Sermons were true or not (something that was not decided at Bethesda when I worked there), the author (whether it was really Vivec or not) would have competition. An opposing faction. An alternate take.

Note that Sermon Zero isn't actually present in Morrowind, as far as I remember. Books that are actually published in one of the Elder Scrolls games have precedence over ramblings on the forums.

Hint: The best place to hide something is in plain sight. I believe this hint also applies to the other Sermons.

Sinder Velvin: I understand that there is at least one secret message in Sermon Zero that has not yet been discovered by the fans - the third secret of the thrice-secret word. However, it is uncertain whether the fans will ever discover it, so could you tell us what the secret is? If not, could you give the community a hint (preferably not a very vague one, hehe)?

Douglas Goodall: The third secret isn't something else to decrypt. It's the meaning of the other messages (and of the sermon itself). As I said, the best place to hide something is in plain sight.

I wrote Sermon Zero in a few hours. I was in a hurry, so I stole the wording (though not the meaning) from the overly complicated Rennes-le-Chateau hoax. That might be a good place to start, as it will lead you to all kinds of nonsense, some of which will help you interpret my nonsense (and Kirkbride's nonsense). Assuming you have time to spend on nonsense.

The Nords' Totemic Religion

Michael Kirkbride
The gods are cyclical, just like the world is. There are the Dead Gods, who fought and died to bring about the new cycle; the Hearth Gods, who watch over the present cycle; the Testing Gods, who threaten the Hearth and thus are watched; and the Twilight Gods, who usher in the next cycle. The end of a cycle is said to be preceded by the Dragonborn God, a god that did not exist in the previous cycle but whose presence means that the current one is almost over.
The Dead Gods
Dead Gods don’t need temples. They have the biggest one of all, Svongarde. Nord heroes and clever men visit the Underworld all the time. They bear a symbol to show that they have, which garners much respect.


  • The Fox - Shor
  • The Bear - Tsun
The Hearth Gods
The Hearth Gods have temples appropriate to their nature: Kyne’s are built on peaks, Mara’s are the halls of important Witches, Dibella’s are the halls of important Wives– the temples aren’t like those of the Imperials; as Hearth Gods, they are always homes to someone, and the highest-ranking female of that home is their de facto high priestess.
  • The Hawk, Kyne
  • The Wolf, Mara
  • The Moth, Dibella
The Testing Gods
The Testing Gods don’t really have temples – they are propitiated at battlegrounds or other sites where they caused some notable trouble. Nords understand that the Daedric Temples are something else entirely and think them as much of a waste of time as the formalized religion of the Nine Divines of Cyrodiil.
  • The Snake, Orkey
  • The Woodland Man, Herma Mora
The Twilight Gods
The Twilight Gods need no temples– when they show up, there won’t be any reason to build them, much less use them – another waste of time. That said, Nords do venerate them, as they always venerate the cycles of things, and especially the Last War where they will show their final, best worth.
  • The Dragon, Alduin - Alduin is venerated on the winter solstice by ceremonies at ancient Dragon Cult temples, where offerings are made to keep him asleep for one more year. Alduin is also the source of many common superstitious practices before any event of significance.
  • The Dragonborn God, Talos - Talos’ totem is the newest, but is everywhere – he is the Dragonborn Conquering Son, the first new god of this cycle, whose power is consequently unknown, so the Nords bless nearly everything with his totem, since he might very well be the god of it now, too. Yes, as first of the Twilight Gods, this practice might seem contradictory, but that’s only because, of all the gods, he will be the one that survives in whole into the next cycle.
Nord view of Imperial Religion
The Eight Divines are viewed by the Nords as a “Southern” import. They retain some of the taint of the Alessian Order, and are basically viewed as a religion for foreigners. Their gods are fine for them, but Nords need Nord gods.
Some of the gods are the same (or similar) – significantly these are the three female gods, which are far more important to the Nords than they are in the Imperial Cult. (Kyne is in fact the de facto head of the Nord pantheon.) The Nords are perplexed and disturbed by the Imperial Cult’s focus on the Dragon God – they regard this as a fundamental misunderstanding of the universe, and one likely to cause disaster in the end. (Which fits perfectly with the pessimistic Nord view of the world in general – things are likely to turn out badly, and it will probably be caused by some foreigner.) Lucky for the world that the Nords are so diligent about keeping Alduin asleep, while the southerners are busy trying to get his attention! Any mention of Akatosh in a Nord’s presence is likely to bring a muttered invocation to Alduin to stay asleep in response.
The Nords believe that, During the Oblivion Crisis, it was Talos (Dragonborn, Martin’s forefather) lending his aid, not Alduin.

The Shonni-etta excerpts

Michael Kirkbride

NOTE: this document is features graphic violence and sexual content. It is not safe for work, school, or for minors.


The sister of Sed-Yenna was called Shonni-Et, and they both were black haired vestals of the Diblashuut, which was the aspect of Beauty as belly-magicks in those times, practiced by the easternmost tribes of Ut Cyrod before the giving over to the borders of the ashmeri.

Sed-Yenna was eldest and so it was she who climbed the hill and held Reman Born-a-Man aloft for the glory of Cyrodiil Recome.

Shonni-Et, for her part, stayed among the crowd at the foot of Sancre Tor at this blessing, among the broken knights and beggars, the shepherds and bull-butchers and drum-beaters and moth-faced pariahs and war-runners, and all of them stayed the appropriate eight steps away from her jeweled anklets, exposed and painted as in the fashion of the keptulets-who-are-gone. She was hard in the eyes but wept anyways. The One had granted the Empire its Son again, and the Long Night had passed.

Now El-Estia was the true mother of Reman but, with the Chim-el Adabal renewed into flesh-covenant, She had flown riverward like all nirnada whose deeds are done and then writ in water. It became the duty thereafter that Sed-Yenna and Shonni-Et to become the midwives of the Child Ut Cyrod, and to raise him in the fashion of the Nibenese.

By their train was the babe Reman carried into White-Gold Tower, and at Rumare the Goddess of Beauty herself appeared, releasing the sisters of all their other functions to her temple. “But for this,” the Goddess said, “When he has reached manhood, teach him all that you know of the flesh, and then save within yourselves his seed, and let it not take purchase within either of you, store it all, whichsoever body-cup he spills into, and in secret make of it bread for him to eat. And keep this new edict of the Convention quiet from all others, even from him, and know by this mention that it is my lord Aka the King of Heaven who commands it.”

Then the Dragon of Heaven appeared encircling them, King of Time, eating his lower length in symbol, speaking in the manner of the aether, which is mostly dream, "This I do command, for Reman was conceived of the imperial earth, and by his sacred measure he shall be as it should be: of an immortal fire that binds heaven to the mundane, Light made Man, and Order, fed ever by the seed of first stasis, anon Anu. And his wives will share forever in the blessing of Beauty if this should be so, their fair aspect frozen eternal, youth-radiant unto the ending of days. Aad semblio aurbex, aad semblio ae ehlnokhan, ae na-sen-ae-mantella, dracochrysalisanu."


These clumsy knights of Colovia had no chance at all, splitting apart wetly as Shonni-Et whistled her spit like a carousel of blades, or folding like bone and paper as Sed-Yenna cracked great helms in the soft iron of her knee-hollows, and instead of asking the purpose of this betrayal from his vassals, Reman only rose to ejaculate on them as they fell, and after years of training in the Diblashuut he could do this without hands.

This last gave the sisters pause and left one knight alive, though crushed and laced in red, and Reman was surprised to see them move from defending him to collecting his climax, though he thought no more of it than their desire to have him always in whole. He kneeled to the broken Colovian as his wives smeared themselves in their labors and said to him, "You have dishonored your station, me, and our dragons wise. Why did you attempt this and for whom?" 

He got back only a proud laughter the color of bruise and these cracked words from the restless West: "The Boy Crown Reman who lets priory girls fight his duels asks me this? That you have no idea why or wherefrom this sword issue came, this only underscores your unworthy claims of sovereignty and your misbegotten birth in dirt. You were just another rumor of snakes to us, it seemed, but after twelve years you have finally proved that here."

Reman took the knight's helm off during this accusation to see the vulgar mouth more clearly, the lips and teeth that framed him to this barbaric angle, and then the Chim-el Adabal in his forehead erupted into balefire, saying, "None But Ourself". Reman then bit out the knight's teeth with his own, growling against and with this new-known power, worrying the lower jaw until it tore free, his hands held hard against the knight's flailing and now tongueless chokes, and his biting increased into a skipping blur until the knight's face exploded into his own.

Reman then had two aspects himself, a red and ragged mask of the West hanging from temple to neck, and through its tears the glow of righteous Niben, and to Sed-Yenna and Shonni-Et he spoke in this manner, saying, "Tell me now what else does not believe in or belong to me."


The summer of his thirteenth saw the assembled lords of Colovia having offered their swords to the lowest step of the throne of White-Gold, Reman naked save for paint, with an idiot chorus to his godsblood left and a quartet of heavy-horned minotaur teamsters to his godsblood right, and his wives entwined around his legs, and a crown of crows in a stately arc about his brow-embedded jewel. 

It was unseemly hot in the chamber, with maidens and viziers and emissaries and animals asleep or even dead on its tiles or in cool corners, and risen things waved insect wings as fans, stirring the scents of moth-clouds down in a dust that clung to skins and sometimes changed them. No one had said a word since the kings and counts of the West swore out their oaths that morning. The sun broke across the glassworks and made a steam of the collected sweat.

The Imperator then stirred, and Shonni-Et made move to love him, with now Sed-Yenna cleaning his feet with sponge-felts from the Pyadon. And Reman gave his acquiesce, willing his blood into brandy for his younger wife to drink, and when one of the lords of Colovia, the Kvetchi, hissed out an impatience it so unnerved the beggar-king of Bruhmaht that the latter beheaded him without rising, placing his sword back quickly on the steps, its blood now drawing sweet-flies from the tails of the teamsters.

The Motheaters Song


The Motheaters Song

Who controls the Septim crown?
Who keeps the Allesian Heresy down?
We do, we do

Who knocked Yokuda off the maps?
Who keeps the Dwemer under wraps?
We do, we do

Who dances a little dance and does not tell?
Who breaks time and thinks it's swell?
We do, we do

Who spills coffee on the Chaos Staff?
Who makes the Truth Monkeys laugh?
We do, we do


Ted Peterson's Posts


Who was Jyggylag prior to the Shivering Isles? (c. Feb 2001)

Jyggalag was thrown into "On Oblivion" to add an additional daedra prince in case we needed one down the road for -- I don't know -- the daedra of poisons or unattractive hairdos.

On the disappearance of Artaeum (05/10/03)

Some have suggested that Sotha Sil's bargain with the daedra is what caused Artaeum to vanish for several hundred years. I think it's much more because of Vanus Galerion's "democratization" (and capitalization) of magic, bringing some of the secrets of the Psijics off the island. They were suddenly threatened, and they withdrew. When they came back, the older master Iachesis was gone, and they were in a different world. In "The Wolf Queen," Potema mocks the Psijics, saying that their off-spring the Mages Guild is now much more powerful. Perhaps they feel their contradictory philosophy lends them some of their old glamour. Perhaps they are onto something they learned in their time away from Mundus.

After all, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

Why is the name "Atmora" derived from the Aldmeri language if it was populated by men? (11/16/03)

The common name for a place is not necessarily the name given to it by its original inhabitants. America comes from Italian, Britain comes from Latin, Japan comes Chinese (though invented by Japanese scholars from the Middle Chinese phrase nzyet-pwun-kwuk, "land of the rising sun," which became Nippon or Nihon, and the English used the Chinese word "Japan"), et cetera.

It may be surmised that where Aldmeris was spoken, the land of the Nedic people was called Atmora, and the name has stuck, and the original name of the land by its inhabitants has vanished.

On the apperance of the Tsaesci, and the "truths" in fictional Tamrielic writings (05/07/04)

I never saw a Tsaesci

I never hope to see one,

But I can tell you this right now:

I'd rather see than be one.

Carlovac Townway, the author of 2920, though quite a scholar, never saw a Tsaeci or any other Akavari (of which there are many, as has been noted) either. He attempted to write a historically accurate piece of fiction. I'd compare him and Waughin Jarth and a few other Tamrielic authors to writers like Sharon Kay Penman, who write meticulously researched historical fiction. Everything is true, but there's plenty of dramatic license, and, in this case, he hedged his bets with his description of the Potentates. 

To the people of Tamriel during the interregnum, the Potentates were snakes. But, it must be reasoned, they knew how to use their native weaponry, katanas and wakizashis and so on. Does that mean they must have had at least arms to use them? Townway reasoned yes.

Are Akavari Asians? Certainly not. Nirn is not earth, so there is no Tamriel = Europe, Akavir = Asia, Yokuda = Africa, Pyandonea = Australia, or any other direct comparisons. 

That said, we, the developers and ex-developers, who translate Tamrielic culture into a thing understandable by Earth dwellers, often use familiar words and concepts which carry with them some additional baggage. There are, for example, in Tamriel, slightly curved, single edged swords which are considered among the finest blades in existence. The easiest word to use to describe this is "katana." As in all translations, it conveys the essential meaning of the thing, but one shouldn't confuse the makers of the katana with the Japanese any more than one should assume that the origins of the Tamrielic claymore are Scottish.

Of course, none of this is to say that mod-makers shouldn't include Asian characters who are said to be from Akavir. Is it "true" to the lore? No. Is it contradictory to the lore? No again.

Are there any Tsaesci on Tamriel in the 3rd era? (05/14/04)

Is it reasonable to assume there might be a few Tsaesci slithering around Tamriel hither and yon? There are certainly stranger things ... 

Rebuttal to shrines and blessings disproving atheism in Tamriel (11/30/04)

It may not work because of the reasons given to you by the Temple of the Tribunal, the Benevolence of Mara, the witches of Glenmoril, or any of the other organized and disorganized religions of the land. That is not evidence, that is explanation, which is very, very different.

Rebuttal to "given the above, even Sheogorath might not be real" (11/30/04)

True, but I am.

I may, however, be less or more than I or you think I am. There are those who say that there is but one God with a split personality. Who could they be thinking of? 

Roleplaying profiles for Elysana and Sheogorath, from Lorana's RP (12/04/04)


Age: 41

Height: 5’8”

Hair: Blonde

Eyes: Green

Occupation: Queen of Wayrest

Notes: The daughter of the late Queen Carolyna and King Eadwyre, stepdaughter of Queen Barenziah, stepsister of King Helseth of Morrowind and Queen Morgiah of Firsthold. She won the throne of Wayrest after a bitter struggle with Helseth, an impressive feat, proving her political acumen and strength.

She has been queen for over ten years now, and has two children by her consort prince. Under her, Wayrest has expanded its territory. A cold war exists between Wayrest, Daggerfall, and Sentinel, and a much warmer one between Wayrest and Orsinium.

It is said a serpent once bit her and died. Her admirers and enemies alike routinely call her the new Wolf Queen. She is powerful and paranoid, utterly ruthless and very, very smart.



Age: Banana

Height: 48000 feet (in heels)

Hair: Luscious and brown and perky

Eyes: Two, roughly parallel, and blue

Occupation: Daedra Prince of Madness and Banker

Notes: A storm usually but not always precedes the arrival of the Mad God, otherwise known as the Dam Dog. His personality veers between a charmingly eccentric uncle and a blood-spattered homicidal maniac. 

How do you pronounse Psijic? (06/19/06)

Sidgick. But that ain't gospel.

Oblivion = hell? (06/29/06)

[Oblivion has been synonymous with hell for] exactly 10 years, since Daggerfall.

In fact, in Arena, there were no Daedra, only Demons (or maybe we spelled it Daimons? I don't remember). The first book "On Oblivion," calls Daimons a mispelling of Daedra ... our very first retcon ...

What's even worse, the first time the phrase "the marble jaws of Oblivion" is used was in the Emperor's intro to Daggerfall, talking of King Lysandus:

He was as great and loyal a subject, ally, and friend to me as you are. I did grieve for him ... but I now hear his spirit will not rest. It haunts his former kingdom crying for revenge. I do not know why such a good and loyal man would be so cursed, but perhaps you could find the reason. You could close the marble jaws of Oblivion and put his soul to peace.

Now, I'm not sayin' that Oblivion is the afterlife in TES. But Uriel here, unlike in the beginning of Oblivion where he uses the exact same phrase (well, which of us don't have our favorite catch phrases?) clearly means "the marble jaws of Oblivion" to mean "the grave." It's the simplest sort of a metaphor. Why are the jaws marble? Not just because it's hard -- it's because that's what graves are made out of.

All that said, Oblivion is not fire and brimstone and pitchforks. At least, it's not only that.

On the divines definitely being real (06/05/06)

Well ... amazing magical things in a highly magical world are not necessarily proof, even though the priests say they are.

Don't worry, MK will agree with you that there is conclusive proof of the Aedra in TES. I just wouldn't be doing my duty as Sheogorath without pointing out that just because a million people believe a foolish thing does not make it less of a foolish thing.

On the Trial of Vivec and future roleplays in the series influencing lore (06/05/06)

I have never said [the Trial of Vivec is canon]. It might turn out to be, but I actually subscribe to the spirit of the much maligned phrase of Pete's that it's not canon unless it's in the games. The trial and the RP that sprung from it, which continues on in the "From The Ashes" thread, have definitely influenced some lore that subsequently appeared in Oblivion and in the PGE.

On "canon" and "noncanon" sources (06/05/06)

I would like to propose that instead of there being a black-and-white distinction between canon and non-canon, loreists refer to Primary and Secondary Sources. A Secondary Source, such as a comment from MK or a reference in the Trial or RP, may be 100% accurate and become a Primary Source when it is later published in a game; it may remain a useful reference, such as a scholar's commentary on Shakespeare, which is informed and likely true, though not actually part of a play or sonnet; or, it may be disproved on later Primary Source evidence.

Did Ted write the Eslaf Erol series? (07/15/08)

Yup, but I was given the name Eslaf Erol from Todd (or maybe Bruce Nesmith).

Why is the Tamriel of the Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition so "boring" compared to the 1st edition? (07/15/08)

I certainly didn't intend the book to be boring, but I did want it to show a contrast to the world once the doors of Oblivion were opened.

Waughin Jarth and authorial bias. (07/15/08)

You thinking writing to entertain an audience isn't a bias? I assure you Waughin Jarth is not above exaggeration and outright lying in order to sell copies of his books. His tone may be subtle, but if you read his stuff again, I think you'll detect an air of irony and contempt that runs through all his work.

That said, you certainly can't talk someone into having a taste for any writer. Jarth is a popular writer, but he's not for everyone. I wouldn't have every book in Tamriel written by him even if I could.

Loranna's RP and its relationship to future lore. (07/15/08)

I hadn't realized that this was a common understanding, that the events of the Loranna RP influenced developing lore. The truth was actually the opposite. I got wind of things like Helseth marrying and slavery being abolished, and we turned the events of the RP in that direction. Some stuff from the RP may have made it into the PGE and other books, but definitely not "half of it," either the "execrable" parts or the fantastically fabulous stuff.

Who wrote the PGE3 and the events of Morrowind after TES3. (07/15/08)

68.3% of the PGE was reworded this-is-the-story-so-far summaries of Tamriel history and cosmology written both for new Elder Scrolls players and to the lowest common denominator denizen of the Empire. I can certainly understand hardcore lore buffs finding it remedial and dull: it’s not for you.

5.6% was actually written by Michael Kirkbride.

27.5% of the PGE was completely new stuff which I thought was cool. I liked the idea of a cultural revolution in Summerset marrying the Chinese revolution and the French revolution, and hints something happening with the Psijics at long last. I liked the idea of giving the orcs some nuance to their theology beyond all-orcs-believe-X. The Crowns and the Forebears hadn’t been discussed since Redguard, so I wanted to update how things had progressed in Hammerfell, keeping in mind Sentinel’s enormous power shift after the Warp in the West. I like witches, so I let them have a go of things in Skyrim. I’d write something up, pass it over to the designers at Bethesda, if they had different, better ideas, we compromised. Often there was a germ of a concept to be discussed, say about the Renrijra Krin in Elsweyr and Leyawiin, and they were kind enough to let me run with it.

18.4% of the PGE is stuff I was told to put in by the designers at Bethesda. That includes absolutely everything in the Current Events for Morrowind and Cyrodiil since I haven’t had any serious ownership of any of that for over ten years. I certainly wasn’t going to tell the people who made Morrowind how the events in their province played out, and I wanted to make sure the stuff I was saying about Cyrodiil was what the people who were making TES IV wanted.

That said, now that I’ve completely shrugged off responsibility, I’d like to know why you thought it was so terrible what happened in Morrowind after the game was over. Even though it wasn’t my idea, it made perfect sense to me. Two of the three Gods of a theocracy were killed: wouldn’t you expect something to change? An imperialized Dunmer king took the throne, wouldn’t you expect him to change things? Or are you fine with the idea of change, but you expected something different to happen?

The tone of the book was all mine after discussions with the designers at Bethesda. The thought was that the extremely obvious bias of the first PGE would have given way to a much more subtle type of bias appropriate for a 400 year old Empire.

I thought by including a history and then a current events section it would be clear what led to what. There's only so much detail a Pocketguide which is describing an entire empire and the history of the universe can go into though.

More comments on the PGE3 and the events in Morrowind(07/15/08)

Most important thing is, remember, the book is about where things stand in 3E 432. Not where things stand evermore. I guarantee you that the Oblivion gates opening in Morrowind will not keep the status quo, and even if they had never happened, history would not stop just at the moment the Pocketguide was written. Even if I can't talk you into liking what happened in Morrowind, the situation there at the time TES V begins is going to be completely different than what was in the Pocketguide.

I hear you on the revelation of Almalexia and Sotha Sil's deaths being a secret revealed. It would have been better to at least make reference to the Temple trying to cover it up, but the truth eventually coming out (how did it come out? Would the Emperor have had a hand in that?)

I disagree that a bloody civil war following the abolition of slavery is "boring." I think a struggle between a traditional House structure and an autocratic if "liberal" king is interesting.

Bias in the PGE3 and what can be read as a move towards "bland modern sensibilities." (07/15/08)

I can understand why after the ranting nature of the PGE 1st Edition where everything that wasn't Imperial was disparaged, the subtlety of the bias in the PGE 3rd Edition would seem bland.  I won't apologize for that.  I think if the PGEs were always rah-rah-rah-we-love-Cyrodiil-we-hate-everyone-else they wouldn't work in a united Empire.  

Here's a hint: the narrator is pleased about Helseth abolishing slavery.  But like a historian writing in the early 60s during the civil rights movement, he's trying to be circumspect.  

The situation in Hammerfell is far from boring, it's extremely volatile.  Read the section again and see if it really suggests that the Lhotunics are moderating things at all.  The only things they're doing is pissing everyone off.

The situation in Orsinium is far from boring.  Now instead of all orcs believing the exact same thing (really, that's interesting?), you've got the city orcs believe in a hero god, and the country orcs believing in a shit god, and one of them is right, and one is wrong, and there's going to be hell to pay on earth and in heaven.

Trust me, it would have been easier to write from the point of view of someone completely biased and transparently untrustworthy.  I've done that before.  It didn't seem appropriate this time around.

Following the above, in response to "If you are writing without a strong Imperial bias, then you are writing with your own bias." (07/15/08)

I disagree with the notion that if you don't do X, it's automatically Y. There are always more possibilities than that.

I disagree that the tone of the Empire, the "strong Imperial bias" wouldn't have changed in 400 years. I think the tone of the PGE was that of a diplomatic bureaucrat trying to sound objective, but raised in the cosmopolitan (multicultural to use a 20th century earth buzzword) society. There are some similarities between American culture and Imperial culture, which may be why you've confused my point of view with the bureaucrat's.

What was Ted's involvement with the creation of the Dark Brotherhood, Morag Tong, and Mannimarco? (07/15/08)

Well, I was a designer on TES I and TES II when the names Dark Brotherhood, Morag Tong, and Mannimarco were invented, and then I wrote a couple books about them later on, like the Night Mother in Oblivion. I've written a far amount about death and death cults in Tamriel.

Summerset society as described in PGE3, in response to getting rid of the weird. (07/18/08)

I certainly didn't intend to get rid of that, if it sounds like I did. If anything, society in Summerset has been more complicated in the last one hundred years, not less.

Another comment on Loranna's RP and the development of TES4 lore. (01/03/09)

The way it worked is that while playing the RP, I asked the people at Bethesda what would be happening in Morrowind in the years after the events of TES III, and after getting that information, we played them out. You may not like what we did, but I'd appreciate it if you stopped spreading the rumor that the RP determined the events that happened in Morrowind.

How the Eight Divines were named (09/01/19)

In 1994, while we were beta testing the Elder Scrolls, Chapter 1: Arena, we formed the first Council of Wisdom. They were fans of the game set up on a private BBS, and we would send them copies of the latest build for them to test and give us feedback. While they were doing that, I was working on the design for Arena’s sequel, called Daggerfall. They were naturally curious about our planned changes, and we began discussing everything from the new skills-based character generation and advancement system to the new lore of the world which players would be able to read in virtual in-game books, something we didn’t have in Arena.

The Council contributed ideas and gave feedback. The writers among them began creating what began as fan fiction, but with some editing, appeared in the game and its sequels. These include multi-volume series like “The Real Barenziah,” “King Edward,” “Fool’s Ebony,” and perhaps a dozen others.

We honored the Council by immortalizing them as gods and goddesses. Mara, Dibella, Arkay, Akatosh, and Stendarr among those named after Council members.

D&D campaigns that informed the creation of the Elder Scrolls (09/02/19)

Well, Julian ran one which turned into the story of the Camoran Usurper. I mostly ran Vampire the Masquerade campaigns

The Direnni family were from Julian’s campaigns also

What was the plot of TES3:Tribunal going to be when the game was planned to take place in Summerset? (09/04/19)

I didn’t go in too deep, but I recall Tribunal was the Council of kings on Summerset, advised by the Psijics. And Morgiah was going to stir things up.

The origins of Jone and Jode. (09/04/19)

The moons were Jone and Jode, named after some our original Council of Wisdom members.

The basis of the Daedra (09/13/19)

Her;es what I thought when I first conceived of the daedra: They represented the extemes. For example, theres the Aedra Dibella who is beauty and good sex, and there's Sanguine who is debauchery and bad sex.

The globe in Daggerfall and the landmasses it depicts (09/27/19)

I think the cartographer who put it together was conjecturing because expeditions from Tamriel to other lands were few and far between. Even the descriptions of Yokuda and Atmora are sketchy

Writing 2920 (09/28/19)

Glad you liked 2920. It was the only thing I wrote that was complex enough that I had to outline it first.

Who invented the Tsaesci? (09/28/19)

I don’t remember tbh. I thought I invented Tsaesci also because it’s one of those words that looks cool but you don’t know how to pronounce like Psijic

Naming rules in Daggerfall (03/26/20)

In Daggerfall, elvish female names ended with -ah (Morgiah, Barenziah etc) and Breton female names had Ys instead of Is (Carolyna, Elysana).

The Blades in Arena (05/17/21)

There wasn’t a ton of lore in Arena. The Blades, the Underking, and others were mentioned but their background and motivations weren’t touched on until Daggerfall. Basically you were given a quest to deliver item X to location Z, and that the Blades might try to stop you, so you’d expect random attacks by warrior types

Reconciling the Arena depiction of the Blades with their later variants (05/19/21)

I imagine there were multiple schisms in the secret history of the Blades. During the War of the Red Diamond for example when the legitimacy of the throne was in dispute.


Christiane Meister


On High Elves (02/07/01)

From what I understand, the High Elves in Morrowind are far from effeminate. True, their culture revolves around looks, but in a rather harsh way. In fact, they will kill any offspring that do not fit the "ideal". Perhaps this is one of the reasons that their race is on the decline... low birth rates aside.

On Bonemold (03/30/01)

Bonemold armor comes from ground up bones and is mixed with resin and left to set in a...mold. Kinda like plaster of Paris but much tougher I believe they use bug shells as some of the molds, thus giving a bug-like appearance to that armor as well. Why not just use chitin then? Well, apparently this paste, once set is much stronger than chitin. Chitin is very easily punctured by pointy things, unless it's a weevil - those suckers are tough to pin. :)

Are Ash Slaves undead? (08/23/01)

Ash Slaves aren't dead...yet... they aspire to be the next incarnation to better serve their god :)

Differences between male and female Argonians (09/05/01)

You may actually be able to tell males and females apart. Clothed or no. The careful observer will note that male Argonians have larger crests or horns often augmented with gold and earings. The females generally have very short horns, but they like to dress themselves up with jewelry and feathers. Another distinguishing factor is that males are much more brightly colored than the drab females. If you have no basis for comparison, always look in the eyes as there is no typical mammalian physiological dimorphism. Females always have red eyes.

Differences between male and female Khajiit (09/06/01)

Actually, the one in the background of that screenshot is a female. The females tend to be darker in coloration and have larger, rounder eyes as well as typical humanoid (albeit fur covered) female physiology. They have also succumbed to human fashion whims by wearing earrings, of a feminine design - not those hoop earrings the males are so fond of.


Shane Liesegang's Posts


Is there like a definite guide or bible of the elder scrolls? (12/16/10)

Kurt's brain.

The origin of the Songs of Return. (11/13/11)

Lady Nerevar: "...assuming that in-universe the text is transcribed from oral tradition (ala Beowulf and the like)."

You're right about the in-world authorship.

In the real world, I'm the one to blame for that particular set of books. :-)

The plural of Oghma Infinium (03/05/12)

For future reference, the proper plural is "Oghmas Infinium."


Pete Hine's Posts


Do Argonians lay eggs? (11/06/03)

Argonians are ovoviviparous. [Wow. I was SURE I'd never have to use that word again.] They don't lay eggs like reptiles.
Note that Lady Argonians have big bumps on their chests.

Does Bethesda consider Obscure Texts and developer comments as "actual lore" or "canon"? (24/11/11)

It depends.



Matt Grandstaff's Posts

Matt Grandstaff

The existence and nature of Emperor Ami-el (12/23/13)

Talked to folks at the office. This is how we have the events listed in our timeline:

1E 358 - Emperor Ami-El of Cyrodiil lends his forces to Skyrim in a military campaign against the Direnni Hegemony in the Western Reach. Anti-Aldmer sentiments rise as Skyrim loses more and more of Greater Bretony to the Direnni.

When did Serana get put to sleep? (09/05/2013)

The intention was that Serana went to sleep in the late second era, between the Reman and Septim empires. Her initial dialogue is just her surprise that there’s an Empire in Cyrodiil, as there hadn't been when she went to sleep.

When did the Aetherium Wars take place (02/24/2014)

The Aetherium Wars took place between the reign of Vrage and Borgas.