Investigating the Illumination Academy in ‘Elder Scrolls Online’

Elder Scrolls Online is so dang good, you guys. It handles all sorts of themes using the Elder Scrolls lore in ways that make me so happy. I’d like to talk about one quest from the Summerset expansion that really captured my imagination.

On the way to a town on the northwestern coast, we are called over by an Altmer woman who speaks in an unusual accent for the region. She is very clearly impersonating a Nord, but to what end? If we’ve learned anything from our time in the Summerset Isles, High Elves are not exactly fans of other races.

So we head on up the road she came from to figure out what exactly is going on. Because something must be wrong for a distinguished resident of Summerset to even consider Nords as having an important faith.


Those familiar with some of the mythology of the Elder Scrolls series’ Nords may know that Sovngarde is the land of the honored dead, with Tsun being the guardian before the whale bone bridge that leads to the Valhalla’ish place. She seems to believe you are on a battlefield with the long dead snow elves?

As we enter this beautiful campus, we start to notice some things are off. It’s almost as if we wandered into ‘play pretend’ time at school. There’s one man commanding a group of chickens, while others are sitting in a tree as if it was a pirate ship.


Finally we are approached by a lucid-seeming man who is terribly worried because his best friend isn’t acting quite herself. When we talk to the friend she just grumbles that we’re “ruining the moment”. So off to try and help others in this madhouse.

First we find a man sitting on a blanket surrounded by empty bottles, begging anyone walking by for coin. In front of him are three books, one of them called The Begger Prince. Upon reading the couple of pages of Beggar Prince available, we learn the story of a man who begged Namira, the Daedric Prince of Disgusting Grossness to make him rich. Namira did so, by making him so pathetic that everyone would give coin to the beggar.

So we talk to the dude, and when he asks for gold, we get the option of giving him some, or saying nope. When you say nope, he gets all confused.


Who could possibly refuse this poor beggar?

“You must be the Daedric Prince, Namira!” he cries, getting all sorts of excited. “Otherwise you’d be giving me all the gold in your wallet!” he reasons. So you can either tell him “yes but I cure you” or “no you’re really not that gross” and it will snap him out of the delusion.

After that we cure a couple more victims of whatever is going on. Pie is involved. We learn that a spirit has escaped a forbidden book accidentally opened by a student. So we go into the library’s book dungeon to fight it. As we go we encounter a number of moments where we must read the books given, and file them away into the proper section of library. Eventually we fight the spirit, send it back to the book, and everyone’s back to a nice healthy humiliated normal.

The coolest thing about this quest is that just about everything was old assets. No new gameplay mechanics were introduced, and even most of the books existed in the game before it. The Illumination Academy quest was really just a genius way to take advantage of the existing lore, and quest design mechanics of the game. It makes me glad to continue playing new content, because it feels upwards from here.


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Celebrating Seasonal Events in ‘Elder Scrolls Online’

Elder Scrolls Online is such a good game for me. I won’t say its perfect, but man I love it and the surrounding community. All of the game’s controversies and cool happenings have lead the game to evolve to the point of feeling nothing like any other MMO on the market. I have a particular love of the game’s strong economic systems, which were at their best in the mid-2018 Summerset expansion. Things for the game are definitely looking upwards with the soon-to-happen launch of the Murkmire DLC and the already-happening Witches Festival seasonal event.

Witches Festival offers two weeks of Halloween themed tomfoolery and loot. Make sure you get your daily event ticket in any Dremora Plunder Skull drop to work towards getting a fancy new Indrik mount! Read the official blog post on how the Witches Festival works for more information on things like the experience boost, free crafting mats, and outfit motifs!

Aside from Witches Festival, Zenimax Online Studios has three more events scheduled to happen before 2019, including a Clockwork City celebration and the New Life Festival. Read on the official blog about how every holiday gives you chances for Event Tickets to get that Indrik Mount I mentioned!

I’m glad to see ESO offering more cosmetic options through means other than Crown Crates. The game’s focus on so many beautiful player armors and mounts and pets through spending real money leaves me conflicted. I like that the developers keep the appearance related stuff to the Crown Crates, but I feel they get close to crossing the line sometimes. I want to continue supporting this game and the excellent community clinging to it, but I worry we may be supporting something that’s negatively affecting the games industry.

Sam loves to write about indie games, MMOs, and the occasional TV show. If you liked this bit of writing please let him know through Twitter. It means a lot!

‘Elder Scrolls Morrowind’ – On Vivec City and its lore

One of my favorite things about Elder Scrolls Online as an MMORPG is the richness of its universe. The developers managed to take this huge existing setting from the previous Elder Scrolls games and give us this powerful connection to it, all through a combination of dialog with random non-player characters, excerpts of books we read in-game, and of course via the many quests. One of my favorite details of the game is epitomized in the new zone added in the game’s latest DLC, regarding Vivec City and the giant rocks floating directly above it.

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Much of the lore maintains this element of the unknown, especially to its mythology. Most people¬†in its world¬†don’t actually know what is true and what is just a rumor, especially when it comes to things outside their daily lives. This theme of people spreading rumors and trying to understand this bizarre world they live in is an aspect that feels really striking in Elder Scrolls Online. As we explore Vivec City and its surrounding areas, we find a number of books and people who theorize why Vivec, the glowing mayor of his own city, chose to begin construction underneath Baar Dau, a mysterious meteor suspended in the air above the city.

My favorite interaction in Vvardenfell regarding Baar Dau was actually reading an ingame thesis paper written by some scholar attempting to discern meaning in Vivec’s intentional recklessness with the location of his new city. The writer briefly described a rumor that Baar Dau was a bigass rock thrown by Sheogorath, a Daedric Prince that represents madness and “mental weakness” to the native dark elves. The scholar then went on to describe how the meteor was a physical representation of their peoples’ faith in Vivec and his fellow Tribunal members. The paper’s author even made an assumption that if the people of Morrowind were to cease their devotion to the Warrior Poet, he would simply allow Baar Dau to crush them all.

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There are plenty of other instances of the writers of Elder Scrolls playing with the citizens of Tamriel having multiple versions of mythologies. As in real life, the further back we go into history, the more obscure or diverse myths become. It’s a world building technique that does an excellent job giving each of the many cultures in Tamriel their own little personalities.