The Forgotten City is a quest mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released in October 2015.
One day, you are going about your business as usual when a courier approaches you with a letter. The letter woman is from a woman named Cassia, who has heard great things about your problem-solving skills. She asks you to help her investigate a Dwemer ruin. She tells you that the port to the ruin bears an inscription promising riches beyond imagining. But as you show up at the ruin, it turns out that Cassia didn't tell you the full truth. She was not doing research into the ruin on her own. In fact, she was working on the task alongside her brother, Altrius. Altrius climbed into the deeper parts of the ruins and has now been missing for days on end. And indeed, Altrius' own notes on the place reveals something quite foreboding; for while the inscription does indeed tell about riches beyond imagining, it also contains the warning that anyone who enters the ruins may never return to the surface. Regardless, Cassia begs you to follow in her brother's footsteps and bring him back to her.
Upon entering the ruins, you find Altrius's dead body — aged almost beyond recognition — hanging from a tree in the center of a darkened courtyard, surrounded by burned corpses. On his person is a suicide note, saying that he has spent a lifetime in this place and realized that death is preferable to continued existence here. He urges you to follow his lead — and warns that whatever you do, you should never open the mysterious cabin on the lake...
The mod was well received by Skyrim's modding community, and even managed to garner some attention and praise from the mainstream gaming press. As a result of the positive reception, the mod's lead developer, Nick Pearce, has since decided to take the project further by separating it entirely from Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls setting, expanding it into a full stand-alone game made in the Unreal 4 engine and set in its own universe. The game is currently planned for a late 2019 release. The official site can be found here.
The mod provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Metellus. Sure he's polite and actually listens to you once you give evidence you're from the future, but that doesn't change the fact that he kidnapped Maisi and kept her for the purpose of being his Sex Slave.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: The Arbiter and Jarl Metellus. The Arbiter is the Dwemer who has been enforcing the Draconian laws of the city while Metellus is violating the law in secret to rape Maisi nightly.
- But Thou Must!: You can only get the immaculate dwarven armor from Rykas in one of two ways; violence or theft. Which will break the Dwarves' Law. As you need this item to get the mod's good ending, this means you have to break the Law at least once.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Jarl Metellus' face and voice seem to be based on Patrick Stewart. Ironic, given that Stewart isn't known for playing villains, which would make this a meta-example of Playing Against Type.
- Downer Ending: Occurs if Metellus dies before creating the time portal. A Time Paradox occurs and you are thrown back into your time. You meet up with Altrius (who also never travelled back as a result) but the city is destroyed and it's inhabitants are dead. The two of you manage to escape the city, but Altrius will lament the loss of the people who lived there.
- Driven to Suicide: You'll find Altrius' corpse hanging from a tree when you first enter the destroyed city and fight his ghost to get the lakehouse key. Notably, he's aged to an old man as a result of going through the time portal repeatedly, over a period of 30+ years, failing time and time again in saving the city. In either ending, he'll appear again as a still alive and much younger man, having never gone through the portal.
- Dystopian Edict: The Dwarves' Law: "The many shall suffer for the sins of the one." If anyone commits a crime in the city, everyone in it will be killed. This allows the Jarl and Domitus to bully everyone else into submission, since everyone is too scared to fight back. Repeatedly breaking this law by abusing time travel can ultimately result in a confrontation with the being that set it up.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Occurs if you convince the Arbiter to end the Dwarves' Law, either through persuasion or by killing him and going back in time with his helmet as proof of your deeds. A Time Paradox occurs and you are thrown back into your time. You meet up with Altrius in front of a statue of you wearing the immaculate dwarves' armor, and the two of you re-enter the city to discover that Metellus was executed for his crimes, trade is open once more, Domitus is working the mines, and everyone else is living together in true harmony.
- Evil Sounds Deep: The Arbiter. Subverted with Metellus, who sounds like Patrick Stewart.
- Fantastic Racism: Anyone who's not an Imperial and not kissing the asses of them doesn't get to live in the Citadel. Also, the only beast race members you'll encounter in the mod are in an underwater cave.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Arbiters helmet gives him (and by extension, anyone wearing it) these.
- Humans Are Bastards: An underlying theme of the mod is that, even in a society where crime does not exist, the negative qualities of human nature do not disappear. This becomes very apparent once you've walked around the city a bit and chatted to everyone. In the good ending however, this proves false and the city becomes a much more pleasant place to live.
- Hypocrite: Metellus never once seems to consider that seeking to maintain the Dwarves' Law while tampering with the statues used to enforce it so that he can keep Maisi as a Sex Slave in flagrant violation of it might bite him in the ass.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: The Arbiter originally established the Dwarves' Law to maintain peace and order. This quickly turned into repeated instances of genocide.
- Loophole Abuse: While violence and theft are outlawed under the Dwarves' Law, other negative behaviours such as gossip, intimidation, taking drugs, swindling and necromancy are fair game. Fortunately in the latter case, defending yourself against the undead doesn't count as breaking the law. In addition if the dwarves' heads don't spot you, you can break all the laws you want.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The mod's trailer portrays Metellus as a benevolent ruler who will be your strongest ally in finding out who will break the Dwarves' Law. He isn't. In fact, he's been breaking the law in secret for a long while.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: Bringing Metellus to justice by your own hand, or by Maisi's or Ulrin's, will trigger the Downer Ending. Telling the Arbiter about his misdeeds will trigger the Dwarves' Law, and he only gives you a brief thank you for being honest before attempting to kill you.
- Permanently Missable Content: Taking the persuade option with The Arbiter the first time around prevents you from getting his helmet, which is a Dwarven quality helm with a powerful enchantment (free shock spells) as well as a power that causes fear in most anything you encounter. This is especially bad for players with the Legacy of the Dragonborn mod, as the Arbiter's Helmet is part of the Forgotten City display)
- Properly Paranoid: Rykas believes that the statues around the city are going to kill everyone. If the Dwarves' Law is broken, that's exactly what happens.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Hjormund is one of the Citadel dwellers who oppress the smallfolk, but as he points out, if they don't work the farmland then no one gets to eat. In the good ending, he's working the mines but unlike Dominus he's perfectly okay with it.
- Really Gets Around: Rastasia has this reputation, due to her flirtatious attitude and being a former Forsworn, but in actuality she never sleeps with anyone. She was married prior to entering the city, but her husband left her out of jealousy for her flirting.
- Stable Time Loop: Whoever gets sent to the past winds up causing one where the Dwarves' Law ends up broken (either presumably at the hands of a gang of marauders sent to kill a former Dark Brotherhood agent in the city or by the time traveler themselves) and the person who originally traveled through time gets sent back again. The only way out is to force a Time Paradox.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: You are sent seven years into the past to figure out what caused everyone in the city to die and keep it from happening. It's a good thing you get unlimited do-overs, since you are required to trigger it at least once in order to escape the city (at least if you want to keep most everyone alive.).
- Schmuck Bait: Go ahead and buy that "Super-Jumping" potion from Deglund. Of course it'll work, he's the most honest guy in the city! This trope also holds true for the city itself; there are riches beyond imagining (an absolutely colossal Aetherium deposit) in it... in an unreachable cavern filled with radiation and the angry Dwemer who created the Dwarves' Law. Oh, and there's no way out of the city once you're there either.
- Spot the Thread: While you're reading through the citizen arrival log that Metellus directs you to, note how many times the word "potential" is mentioned and who it's associated with. The "potential" relates to whom Metellus would consider to be his potential sex slave — he goes with Maisi.
- Sword of Damocles: All those Dwarven centurions standing around aren't just for show. They come to life and wipe out the city's population when the Dwarves' Law is broken.
- The Un-Reveal: The Arbiter will flat out refuse to tell you where the rest of the Dwemer went if you ask him about them. That said, he does admit it's just as much because he also has no idea where they went as it is him simply not wanting to tell you.
- Time Paradox: It's brought up in discussions with Brol that the only way to get back to your timeline is to cause one of these. It's true. That said, unlike most examples, when you get back from the past, it's treated more like you slept through the events that would have logically occurred after the paradox forming event took place.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Ultimately, YOU are the one who breaks the Dwarves' Law. Although this gets subverted if you discover that Metellus has been breaking it in secret. The only reason he hasn't caused the City to be killed off is because he figured out how the Dwarves' Law is enforced..
- In fact, while the game doesn't openly says it so, this was the reason Altrius committed suicide at the story's beginning. Unable to cope with the guilt that, no matter how dodgy or wrong the Apathetic Citizens of the City were, none of them broke the Dwemers' Law or were in risk of doing so... Except for the "Looter" party, who were the original responsibles for triggering it. It was, from that point, always a paragon or a hero who cared enough to Set Right What Once Went Wrong that, in an attempt to save them, instead killed them all. Over. And over. And over. And over again.
- Transparent Closet: It becomes fairly obvious that Rykas' blatant homophobia is a cover for their suppressed homosexuality. In the good ending, he comes out and starts a relationship with Vernon.
- And true to their demeanor, they're still keeping it to themself. Always a stick in the mud...
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ultimately, The Arbiter created the Dwarves' Law in an effort to prevent the abuse of the massive deposit of Aetherium in the City's mines, as well as to keep things peaceful.
The game provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The remake is set to greatly expand upon the original mod's plot, with the developer promising that it will be longer and contain more twist and turns and Multiple Endings.
- Divorced Installment: The remake takes place in its own setting instead of The Elder Scrolls universe.
- Setting Update: The remake moves the setting to an ancient Roman ruins and in the surface, the game will set in the present day Earth.
- Taken for Granite: Whereas the mod shows that the corpses were burned to a crisp, the game appears to turn them into gold... After stabbing them.