The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard is a stand-alone Gaiden Game set in The Elder Scrolls universe. Developed by Bethesda, it was released for PC in 1998. Unlike the games in the numbered "core" series, Redguard is an Action-Adventure game with very few of the series' signature Western RPG or Wide Open Sandbox elements.
Redguard is a prequel to the main series set roughly 400 years before the events of Arena following Tiber Septim's conquest of the Redguard homeland of Hammerfell. You play as Cyrus, a Redguard pirate who arrives on the island of Stros M'Kai in order to find his missing sister, Iszara, and subsequently finds himself in the middle of political intrigue between the Imperial forces and a Redguard resistance movement called the Restless League.
Redguard was well received by critics and fans, but due to the cost of production and being built on outdated technology, it was a financial flop. It was intended to be the first in a series of The Elder Scrolls Adventures games, with The Eye of Argonia planned as a sequel. Redguard's lack of commercial success caused Bethesda to scrap those plans and return to its roots, culminating a few years later with the company's Breakthrough Hit: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
Perhaps the most lasting impact Redguard had on the series was the inclusion of The Pocket Guide to the Empire which shipped with the game. The Pocket Guide gave one of the first comprehensive looks at the series' background lore, which would be greatly expanded on in future games.
Tropes Present in Redguard
- Action-Adventure: The game is in an action-adventure style quite different to the main series' Wide Open Sandbox Western RPG elements.
- And the Adventure Continues: Cyrus leaves for further adventures at the end. Sadly, the game's poor sales meant the sequels were cancelled.
- Attack Reflector: Along with Anti-Magic, Cyrus must acquire the Flask of Lillandril in order to defeat the infamous Sload Necromancer, N'Gasta. The Flask can block N'Gasta's magical attacks and even send them back at him.
- Badass Normal: Cyrus is a simple Redguard pirate/swordsman. Despite this, during the course of the game, he slays a dragon, defeats a Sload Necromancer, and matches wits with a Daedric Prince. Later games and stories indicate that Cyrus was an incarnation of the HoonDing, the Redguard "Make Way" god who manifests whenever the Redguard people need a place to live. If true, Cyrus is a divinely Empowered Badass Normal instead.
- Baleful Polymorph: Cyrus is transformed into a Scamp for a portion of the game.
- Beast Man: N'Gasta is one of the "slug-men" Sload native to Thras.
- Big Bad: Admiral Ricton, the corrupt Imperial governor of Stros M'Kai.
- Cool Sword: The Soul Sword, a sentient longsword housing the soul of the Crown Prince of Hammerfell, Prince A'tor. It is able to move on its own accord (which proves very useful in the game's climax) and A'tor is able to telepathically speak with the wielder of the blade.
- The Dragon: Dram, a Dunmeri assassin and Ricton's top enforcer.
- Dragon Hoard: Subverted by the dragon Nafaalilargus (a.k.a. Nahfahlaar). He is assigned to guard the treasury beneath the palace of Stros M'Kai, but it is an Imperial treasure hoard, not his own.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Nafaalilargus is a dragon in the service of Tiber Septim and the Imperial Legions. In appearance, abilities, and even naming conventions, he doesn't fit what would be established for the series' dragons later in Skyrim.
- The Empire: The Cyrodiilic Empire and its corrupt governor of Stros M'Kai, Admiral Ricton, serve as the villains for the game.
- False Reassurance: The Sload Necromancer N'Gasta doesn't exactly lie to Cyrus about the state of his sister, but at the end of their conversation, Cyrus leaves with no clue that Iszara made a Deal with the Devil with N'Gasta, that her body remains preserved in his tower, or that N'Gasta gave her soul to Clavicus Vile. If Cyrus doesn't initially take the delivery quest from Kotaro, though, N'Gasta's "solemn oath to reveal the full sum of his wisdoms" doesn't amount to much.
- Feelies: The game came packaged with The Pocket Guide to the Empire, the first comprehensive (though often unreliable from an in-universe perspective) look at the series' background lore.
- The Ferryman: The ferryman is a large upper half of a skeleton attached to the ferry itself. Though silent, he will take you to the Isle of N'Gasta only when you pay three gold pieces.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the intro, the camera pans over a library. There is a set of five numbered books where, if you pause, you can see that the books have the following titles: The Elder Scrolls Arena, The Elder Scrolls Daggerfall, The Elder Scrolls Morrowind (which was in pre-production), The Elder Scrolls Oblivion, and The Elder Scrolls Romanelli (this is simply a meaningless placeholder name since Bethesda hadn't settled on Skyrim yet). The amazing thing is that Bethesda had already decided on "Oblivion" for a title as far back as 1998 (Oblivion being released eight years later) and they had decided on making a fifth game down the line.
- Gaiden Game: Redguard is an Action-Adventure prequel set some 400 years prior to the main ES series.
- The Ghost: Tiber Septim is the Emperor, and this is the only game in the Elder Scrolls universe to take place during his lifetime, but he does not make an appearance.
- God in Human Form: According to late lore sources, Cyrus is said to be an incarnation of the HoonDing, the Yokudan/Redguard spirit of perseverance and "Make Way God", who manifests itself using mortal avatars. According to some interpretations, these avatars aren't necessarily the HoonDing itself, but the HoonDing taking over and/or working through the avatar.
- Guile Hero: Cyrus, who is indeed a pirate and a skilled swordsman, but relies on his wits and being clever in order to defeat superior foes. These include a dragon, a Sload necromancer, and even matching wits with a Daedric Prince.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: Redguard has the only appearance of a true "dragon" (Nafaalilargus) in the series prior to Skyrim.
- It's Personal: As a pirate, Cyrus' primary modus operandi is the acquisition of wealth and treasures. Despite the rebellion going on in his homeland of Hammerfell, he only returns when his sister goes missing, making it personal. During his quest to rescue her, Cyrus unintentionally becomes the leader of the rebellion, leading them to great success. They would have named him King of the Redguards afterward, but he turned them down.
- Just One Man: Frequently said by Imperial guards, as Cyrus gleefully fences his way through dozens of them.
- Knights and Knaves: Clavicus Vile, essentially the Daedric Prince of Deals With The Devil, poses this riddle to Cyrus. Vile asks if Cyrus had a classical education first, knowing it wouldn't be much of a riddle if Cyrus had heard it before.
- Malevolent Masked Men: The lower half of Dram's face is always hidden under his mask.
- No-Gear Level: Redguard has one when you are thrown into the catacombs.
- Not in This for Your Revolution: Cyrus is an Only in It for the Money pirate. After a Duel to the Death goes awry, Cyrus was forced to flee Hammerfell, his homeland. He only returns later when his sister goes missing. During his quest to rescue her, Cyrus unintentionally becomes the leader of the Hammerfell Rebellion against the corrupt Imperial governor of Stros M'Kai, leading them to great success. They would have named him King of the Redguards afterward, but he turned them down.
- Oddball in the Series: Redguard is a spin-off Action-Adventure game. It was intended to be the first installment of an Elder Scrolls spin-off series. Though it had a decent critical response, Bethesda went back to their Wide Open Sandbox Western RPG roots with Morrowind and has stayed that way in the main series ever since. Had the game been a success, two sequels were planned. The first, titled Eye of Argonia, was about Cyrus searching for the titular artifact, while the second, Paradise Sugar, would take place in Elsweyr.
- Only in It for the Money: The protagonist is the Redguard pirate Cyrus. Cyrus' primary modus operandi is acquiring wealth and treasure, which, as a pirate, makes a lot of sense. He only got involved in the events of the Stros M'Kai uprising because it was made personal when his sister went missing. During his quest to rescue her, Cyrus unintentionally becomes the leader of the Hammerfell Rebellion against the corrupt Imperial governor of Stros M'Kai, leading them to great success. They would have named him King of the Redguards afterward, but he turned them down.
- Orphaned Etymology: Clavicus Vile asks Cyrus if he has had a "classical education" before posing a Knights and Knaves type riddle to him. There is no "Classical Antiquity" in Tamriel to study.
- Pirate: Cyrus is of the Lovable Rogue variety.
- Rousing Speech: Cyrus gets a great one.note
- Simpleton Voice: Rollo speaks in this way.
- Teleport Spam: The Sload Necromancer N'Gasta uses this in combat with the protagonist. Defeating him requires reflecting his spells back at him, which is all the more challenging due to the teleporting.
- Theme Music Power-Up: This happens for an instance of glorious verbal butt-kicking by the protagonist Cyrus. Things are looking dark, the previous goal has failed, your allies are leaving... and then the game's theme music softly starts up and Cyrus turns around for one hell of a Rousing Speech.
- Third-Person Person: N'Gasta speaks in this fashion.
- Token Heroic Orc: Played with by Nafaalilargus (a.k.a. Nahfahlaar), at least from the perspective of the Empire. He is a dragon who managed to overcome his draconic nature and would ally with worthy mortals. For this reason, he was spared by the Blades in the 1st Era and would eventually find his way into the employ of Tiber Septim. However, because the Empire is the villain here, he is an antagonist who must be defeated here.
- Walking the Earth: Cyrus would have been named King of the Redguards following the events of the game, but he turned them down, in large part because he wanted to get back to sailing the earth.
- Your Soul Is Mine: N'Gasta practices the "Drained After Death" variation of the trope. He has set up a "soul snare" over the island of Stros M'Kai, which captures the souls of anyone who dies there. He uses the souls in his experiments and/or trades them to the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile. As is the case for all Sload, he has an innate Lack of Empathy, which means he has no regard or pity for those he has captured, even comparing them to "coins in a pouch".