Where does the Elder Scrolls Online fit in the Elder Scrolls universe? I could tell you that it starts 2E 583, but in the grand scheme of things that really doesn't mean anything unless you're a huge Elder Scrolls lore nut. If I told you that it was 324 years before the start of the classic Elder Scrolls era, that might mean more to you. If I told you that it was 723 years before Arena or 757 years before Oblivion or 958 years before Skyrim, it might mean a bit more to you. But those dates are really distant and don't have any real relevance to your character. No one alive during ESO lives to see Skyrim's timeframe except the immortals.
MMOs with existing intellectual properties, like Lord of the Rings Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic, struggle with keeping the game engaging for those who are interested in the lore and keeping it from interfering with the established timeline. LotRO interweaves the MMO plot with the classic story of Frodo and the fellowship traveling to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. SWTOR takes a similar approach to ESO by setting the MMO far in a past that contains very little established lore.
However, unlike these other MMOs, Elder Scrolls Online actually plays a significant role in the history of Tamriel. To understand this significance, we have to talk about Tiber Septim and the eight Divines.
Like all religious histories, everything started in the beginning. And in the beginning of the world of the Elder Scrolls, there were the Aedra and the Daedra. We have talked about the Daedra in an earlier issue of the Tamriel Infinium. But we didn't mention the counterparts to the Daedra: the Aedra.
In most ways, the Aedra and the Daedra were indistinguishable. In fact some cultures, like the Khajiit, worship Daedra and Aedra equally. Both are powerful celestial beings, but unlike the Daedra who are mostly indifferent about the races of Tamriel, the original Aedra bonded together to create the mortal plane of Mundus, the one our characters live on. Because of their concern and creation of Tamriel races, the Aedra are considered good and called the Divine.
In different cultures, the Divine are given different names. For instance the chief among the Divine, Akatosh, is known as Auri-El among the Aldmer and Alduin among the Nord. In Cyrodiil, as hopefully some of us will find out this weekend during the beta, the eight Divine that exist during the Elder Scrolls Online time period each have shrines erected to them. When you're playing, look for these names on the monuments: Akatosh, Arkay, Dibella, Julianos, Kynareth, Mara, Stendarr, and Zenithar. The Empire accepts those eight as the Divines. All other gods in other cultures are considered Daedra or some other kind of deity. And these are the eight who survived the creation of Mundus.
Approximately 255 years after the start of the events in ESO, a Nord named Hjalti will be born, and the history of Tamriel will be forever changed.
Hjalti's name would change many times as he unified Tamriel under Imperial rule. When Hjalti used his voice to crumble the walls of Hrol'dan, he became known as Talos meaning Stormcrown. When he thwarted Cuhlecain's ascension to the Imperial throne, taking the crown for himself, he became known as Tiber Septim.
Tiber Septim unified the Bretons and Nords, conquered the elves in Morrowind, and ruled over the whole continent of Tamriel. With the exception of the Summerset Isles, Tiber Septim successfully created a unified Tamriel and fulfilled the prophecy of the Graybeards.
As if it wasn't enough to unite the known world, Tiber Septim continued his work after his death. Many in Tamriel claim to have spoken to the Divine Talos and seeing his alter-ego Wulf. But the most telling signs that Talos ascended to godhood come from the Divines themselves. Of course, the Aldmer do no accept Talos as a Divine, but when the known Divines speak about themselves, they refer to the nine, not the eight. And the eight Divine have not objected to the worship of Talos, god of war and governance.
Of course, my brief summary of the life of Talos hardly does it any justice. If you're interested in learning more, you should hop over to the Shoddycast Youtube channel. These gentlemen have produced a series of incredible videos outlining the life and triumphs of Talos.
At the beginning of Talos' life, the nations of Tamriel could not agree on anything. The wars caused much bloodshed and many lives were lost to war and destruction. Daedra caused madness and destruction the world over. Peace could not be found. Unfortunately, it's your fault, sort of.
When ESO starts, the nations lived independently but in relative content. Then the pacts united neighboring nations in a struggle to obtain the Imperial throne. When Molag Bal destroyed the ruling family of Cyrodiil, this caused a power vacuum that allowed nearly anyone to contend for the Imperial throne, including you -- or your character at any rate.
As far as anyone is aware, this struggle continues for the next 300 years. The struggle in Cyrodiil, the skirmishes throughout the fractured lands, and the players' possible ascension to the Cyrodiil throne set the stage for Talos to rise to the Imperial throne and ultimately godhood. Congratulations, you can play a part in history.
If you happen to be in the beta this weekend, look for connections to this story. One of my favorite things to do, even in a PvP zone, is to find bits and pieces of history that the developers have thrown into the game. If I want to feel heroic in an MMO, it's important for me to feel connected to the larger world.
Each week, traverse the treacherous terrain of Tamriel with Larry Everett as he records his journey through The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMORPG from ZeniMax. Comments are welcome below, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. He promises to keep the arrow-to-the-knee jokes to a minimum.