Ted Peterson’s Posts

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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.

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