ESO High Isle Chapter: Lore Preview

April 15, 2022
Written by: Benefactor

A few weeks ago I was graciously sent an invitation to the High Isle preview event. This year instead of just talking about the gameplay of The Elder Scrolls Online(ESO) I wanted to bring a treat to the lore community in the form of a lore primer.  In this article I will be talking about the history and environment of the Systres Archipelago, the characters we meet, and the important factions within this years Chapter. While I will attempt to be spoiler free as much as I can there will be minor spoilers. Please be aware when it comes to preview events anything I talk about is subject to change as this was not the final build.

Geography and history of the Systres Archipelago

The Systres Archipelago is almost a completely new and unexplored area of The Elder Scrolls universe. It was previously only mentioned in one source, the map that shipped with Redguard. The High Isle chapter takes this once unknown bit of land and greatly expands upon it by seemlessly integrating it into the existing lore both past and present. The Systres archipelago that we are introduced in High Isle includes three distinct islands that go by the names High Isle, Amenos, and Y'ffelon. There is also a fourth island only mentioned in several lore books that we will cover below, but it is not represented in the High Isle chapter. 

*Note: While the islands themselves on the map are visually the size of Khenarthi's Roost or Stros M'kai, do not disregard the size of these islands as their playable area is just as big as previous Chapters. 

High Isle:

The largest of the islands include in this Chapter is High Isle. Named by the Breton after their Ancestral home of High Rock, High Isle has a long history of changing hands from one faction to another. The first known inhabitants of the island are the Druid Circles that terraformed the island when they first arrived early in the first era(as they were fleeing the Direnni who ruled over High Rock). Since then other factions have inhabited the isles including the Sinistral Elves(Potentially, as the High-Yokudan word for "elf" also means "enemy"), the Ra Gada(who liberated the isles from the Sinistral), the Imperials (who while being led by Bendu Olo used the Island as the largest naval shipyard and staging ground for the assault against Thras), and now by modern day Breton nobility. 

Around the island you can find remnants of this vast history, such as Druidic circles which present stonework that is reminiscent of the real world stonework of Machu Picchu, or abandoned estates of Breton nobility that are now haunted. Of these sites perhaps the one with the greatest historical importance is the monument on the islet in the center of the island called All Flags Islet. This location was made as a monument to the people that where lost in Bendu Olo's campaign. Together along with Stibbons you will discover the history of this location while rescuing Lady Laurent.

Outside of the historic locations you will find there is much about High Isle to discover. The island has a tropical feel to it - reminiscent of a mix between Summerset and the Gold Coast. The temperate climate presents several beautiful locales to the island, including fields of Sunflowers, Coral Reefs, and wonderful views of the ocean where, in certain locations, you can see large ships sailing in the distance. Other wonderful locations of note I came across would include skeletons of giant sea creatures along the shore, stone cairns along the waterways (created by the Stonelore Druid Circle), or even the volcanic vents that open across the isles which spawn new types of molten lava lizards called Vulk'esh.

As for the modern settlements that can be visited you will find several location each with their own unique style to them. The largest of these cities is Gonfalon Bay which is the hub city for this Chapter and sits at the southern end of High Isle. Gonfalon Bay is the largest port of the Systres Archipelago and is currently ruled by the House Dufort family. Most trade that comes to High Ilse is done in this port city and you will find all your basic amenities here such as a guild traders, a bank, and your local Fighters & Mages guild. The most notable feature of this city, besides it's unique architecture, is the entrance to the bay which is dominated by the Colossus, a giant statue of Bendu Olo erected, against his wishes, in his honor to commemorate his victory over the sload.

The second major modern Breton city you will find on the North Western end of the island is Port Navire. This port city introduces the idea of Jousting to the world of ESO. Here you will meet Isobel Valoise who you can assist and who in return will become a companion to the player.

The third and perhaps most interesting city on the island is Stonelore Grove which is home to the Stonelore Circle Druids. Stonelore Grove is one of the oldest settlements on the island dating back to when the Druids first arrived on High Isle. This location is a friendly Druidic village which requests you aid in researching a corruption that overtaken the wildlife in the nearby area. While assisting this the Druidic mages you will learn the secrets of how the Druids where able to terraform the islands to their will. Outside of the village you may find a new type of enemy called a Faun. Fauns are men with the head of a deer. These nature loving creatures seem to be as intelligent as goblins, using clothing and some tools, while being connected to nature in a similar way to Spriggans with being able to control nature and turn it against intruders.

Amenos:

The second largest island in the High Isle Chapter is Amenos Island. This island is unique in the Systres Archipelago as it is the only one that the Druids did not terraform for some unknown reason. The island is dominated by a dense Tropical forest, sharp cliffs, and a single town called Amenos Station. This town is run by House Mornard who has used it as a place to process prisoners sent to the island ever since It has been used as a prison colony ever since the mid second era when the Potentate took charge and needed a place for Reman era prisoners. While Amenos Station offers little in the way of amenities it is the only way on or off the island and offering the only safe refuge. Prisoners who are "processed by House Mornard are unable to leave the island without dying. If they attempt to do so they turn to dust, at least according to one prisoner.

Outside of the city gates to Amenos Station you will find yourself in the thick jungle of the island with enemies such as prisoners, Haj Mota, Maomer, or even a new type of enemy called Hadolids whom wish to kill you at every turn. You will also find there are several prisoners who will request your assistance within the confinds of this island, one of which is an old friend in the crew of the Prowler. Most interesting of those requesting our aid would be the daughter of the leader of Brokerock Mine, who is a Thaumavocalist. A new type of magic that is cast by singing and possibly related to Tonal Architecture.

Y'ffelon:

Our third and and final island found in the High Isle chapter is Y'ffelon. This island found to the northern end of the Archipelago is dominated by a large active volcano called Mount Firesong. When viewed from afar the island seem to be undergoing an active eruption with smoke billowing from the caldera and rivers of lava heading toward the ocean. Unfortunately I was unable to visit this island during the playtest but according to lore it is home to a reclusive branch of Druids called the Firesong Circle.

Galen:

In several books there are references to a fourth large island existing in the Archepelago but this island is not featured in the chapter. According to the lore books this fourth island goes by the name of Galen and has a large city called Vastyr that is currently ruled by House Mornard. The name of this island ties back to the origins of the Bretons when they first appeared in TES I: Arena when it was referenced in the racial background text that stated "Thy race is descended from the ancient Druids of Galen". In my opinion Galen is a strong contender for the 4th quarter DLC, hopefully we learn more about it in the future.

Important factions

Society of the Steadfasts:

This organization was founded by the famed philanthropist Lord Bacaro Volorus as a society to help those wounded or displaced by the Three Banner War. They became famous for helping anybody negatively impacted by the war without regard for which alliance they supported. Recently they have been organizing peace talks with the three alliances to try to end the Three Banner War. Bacaro Volorus has enlisted the famed Lady Arabelle, former member of the Ring of Daggers for King Emeric and rumored inspiration for the Investigator Vale series of books, to assist with the peace talks. It is here that they will recruit you into assisting them in their efforts.

Acendant Order:

This order is a powerful group that have the goal of abolishing the three alliances and making Tamriel free once more. Their reach is far flung across Tamriel but recent events have found them be very active on the Systres Archipelago. This order is ruled by the mysterious Ascendant Lord and Ascendant Magus, whose identities are currently unknown.

House Dufort and House Mornald:

The two most notable noble Breton houses you will encounter in the Systres Archipeligo are House Dufort and House Mornald. Both of these houses date back several hundred years in the Archipeligo with Dufort mostly being subservient to House Mornald during most of it. House Mornald ruled the isles until the time of Ranser's Rebellions when they supported Ranser in his war against High King Emeric and Wayrest. After Emeric won against Ranser he seized many of House Mornard's holdings and transferred control of the Archipelago to House Dufort. House Mornald maintained control of Amenos Station and moved it's base of Operations to the island of Galen while House Dufort gained control of High Isle and has led it to prosperity it hasn't seen since the time of the All Flags Navy.

Stonelore Circle:

The Stonelore Circle is the Druidic Circle you will have the most contact with in High Isle. This clan of Druids are very welcoming to outsiders and are willing to even accept other races into their clan. As they are so welcoming we learn the most we can about the Druid Circles from them. The Druids all follow what they call the "True Way", which is to honor nature and worship Y'ffre and his Earthbones. Each Circle believes slightly separate ways on how to best follow this, with the Stonelore clan believing it is best to teach outsiders rather than shun them.

Eldertide Circle:

Unlike the Stonelore Circle the Eldertide Circle is not accepting of outsiders and are more often than not hostile to anyone that is not a Druid. You will find members of this Circle around High Isle and Amenos, but unfortunately, they are not very talkative.

Firesong Circle:

Not much is known about the Firesong Circle other than that they live on the island of Y'ffelon and are very reclusive and don't leave the island.

Tales and Tributes

Last but not least I would be remiss if I did not mention the new card game Tales and Tributes. This card game's origins began on High Isle in recent history. More about the history and origins will be discovered through the playing of the storyline, I will not spoil that here. The game features some great new artwork for the cards with each of the 8 decks featuring several themes from the lore, some of which we have never seen featured before. You will find decks relating to the Psijics, King Orgnum, Hunding, Red Eagle, Rajhin and more. Each deck has a play style that relates to the them of the deck. Overall this card game is a relaxing way to spend an evening if you want to indulge yourself in a card game rooted within the world of ESO.

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