"The best techniques are passed down by the survivors."
The first video game in The Elder Scrolls
series, released for DOS
in 1994. Originally, it was going to be an Action Game
with RPG Elements
, about gladiatorial combat. However, as development went on, the RPG elements grew more and more, until the arenas themselves were cut out altogether (they are still mentioned in some Dummied Out
The player takes on the role of a member of the Imperial Court of Tamriel. In the opening cutscene The Emperor
is trapped in another dimension by his most trusted courtier
, the battlemage Jagar Tharn. The evil Tharn then uses magic to disguise himself as the emperor and take his place.
However, he is noticed by both the player character and the lesser sorceress Ria Silmane. Silmane threatens to reveal Tharn's new identity, so Tharn kills her and throws the player into the Imperial dungeons.
However, Silmane appears to the player in his/her dreams, and guides him/her to reassemble the Staff of Chaos
, a weapon capable of defeating Tharn and rescuing the emperor, but which Tharn has broken into eight pieces and scattered across the Empire
That's right, there are no arenas in this game
. At all. However, as if to make up for that, this game is huge.
There really is an entire life-sized continent (12,000,000 square miles - three times larger than Europe!) to wander around in, with hundreds of settlements and thousands of NPCs
The game has been released as a freeware download by Bethesda as part of their commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the inception of The Elder Scrolls
. Get it here
This video game provides examples of:
- Absolute Cleavage — The female enemy mages.
- Alien Sky
- All Myths Are True
- Alternative Calendar — A very elaborate one, complete with holidays and whatnot.
- Always Chaotic Evil — Many creatures.
- Artifact Title — The game was originally meant to be about raising a team of gladiators. The basis changed dramatically, but the title was kept, and retconned as a nickname for Tamriel. It's a pretty accurate nickname, though.
- Big Bad — Jagar Tharn.
- Conspiracy Theorist — Randomly-generated NPCs will sometimes describe conspiracy theories they have about their randomly-generated feudal masters, which tend to be rather humorous. For example.◊
- Dismantled MacGuffin — The Staff of Chaos.
- Dungeon Bypass: The Passwall spell allows you to destroy dungeon walls.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: A lot of the series lore hadn't quite gelled yet, leading to an Elder Scrolls game with completely human-looking Khajit, blue-skinned Tolkien Orcs, no mention of the word "Daedra" whatsoever, and a Cosmic Keystone artifact that has never been seen again.
- Interestingly, the human-looking Khajiit haven't been retconned out of existence, just out of being common outside their homeland (the Khajiit have a great deal of racial variance based on the phases of the moons).
- Escort Mission
- Evil Sorcerer — Jagar Tharn, plus some of his Mooks, plus a few more in the Backstory.
- Fantastic Racism — Rather egregious. You'll often have ethnic insults hurled at you by members of your own race.
- Fetch Quest — Loads and loads of them, most of which are thankfully optional.
- Fictional Document — The titular scrolls.
- Freeware Games — It is one now, anyway. Bethesda Softworks is letting anyone download it for free on their website as of 2004.
- Though with the upcoming release of "The Elder Scrolls Anthology" one wonders whether they'll remove it to increase sales.
- Heroic Fantasy
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards
- Never Trust a Title — This game has no arenas in it, though the continent itself is nicknamed "arena" in an attempt to soften the Artifact Title. Also, the Elder Scrolls themselves are a very minor plot element.
- Our Elves Are Different — Really, there isn't much difference between humans and elves at all.
- Though the High Elves (NPC's in Summurset Isle) still have their brownish golden skin, and Dark Elves (NPC's in Morrowind) still have their brownish black skin.
- Our Goblins Are Different — Our Goblins are Goddamn Bats.
- Our Orcs Are Different — Our Orcs are dressed like players of American football. Notably, they're a generic enemy and not a playable race as they are in the post-Daggerfall games.
- Plot Coupon — The pieces of the Staff of Chaos.
- Randomly Generated Levels — And how!
- Red Eyes, Take Warning — Tharn has red eyes, for no readily-explained reason other than that he's evil!! Later games in the series would explain that he is part Dark Elf.
- Retcon — Later games state that the dimension Uriel Septim was trapped in was Mehrune Dagon's Oblivion and that Tharn had been making deals with Mehrunes Dagon for power.
- Ruins for Ruins' Sake
- Rule of Cool — The title "The Elder Scrolls" itself. One of the developers came up with the name just because he thought it sounded cool—and then it was decided what the actual Elder Scrolls should be. This is, in fact, how they named everything. Or should that be "thinged everyname"?
- They don't appear, in any form or to any extent, until the fourth game in the franchise. They're not significant to the main plot until the fifth.
- Well, to be fair, they do play a very ambiguous role in all games, as present lore seems to hint that all player-characters of the series were foretold by the titular scrolls.
- Scenery Porn — It looks rather crude by today's standards, but back in 1994, it was clear why the name Tamriel means "Dawn's Beauty" in Elvish.
- Sequel Hook — What's up with this Underking we keep hearing about?
- The Emperor — A benevolent one! Of course, he's not around for most of the game. Most of Tamriel's other emperors have played the trope more straight by necessity, due to the Deadly Decadent Court.
- Treacherous Advisor — Jagar Tharn.
- What Happened to the Mouse? —
- Or rather, what happened to the Staff of God-Damned Chaos? Arena sets it up to be the Cosmic Keystone of Tamriel... and the sequels never mention it again. According to the UESPWiki, the Staff of Chaos was kept hidden somewhere in White Gold Tower (that huge tower in the middle of Imperial City in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)(although note that that particular piece of information has a Citation Needed tag). Dialog in Arena says the staff is destroyed when the Emperor is freed, though this may have been retconned.
- Same with General Warhaft, the Emperor's chief military adviser. After this game, the only mention made of him is that he's written two really boring and useless books.
- Wide Open Sandbox — A wide, wide, wide open sandbox.