The Tales from Dunwall
is a trilogy of animated shorts that serves as a prequel/interquel to the original Dishonored
video game. They were originally released by Bethesda
to promote the game leading up to its release and are narrated by the voice
of Emily Caldwin. The three episodes are:
- "The Awakening". Esmond Roseburrow, a lonely scientist ostracized for his unorthodox ideas, discovers a way to refine whale oil into high-energy fuel and uses it to kick-start the industrial revolution across the Isles. However, after his own student Anton Sokolov adapts his discoveries for military use and authoritarian control, Roseburrow takes his own life in despair.
- "The Hand That Feeds". An unnamed street urchin is bullied by his peers until the Outsider bestows his mark upon him, allowing him to summon rats to devour his tormentors. In the process however, the boy contracts the rat plague and dies at the Outsider's altar.
- "In the Mind of Madness". Piero Joplin is haunted by nightmares of the Outsider, until one day, he is shown a skull-like mechanical mask, which he builds in real world, not yet knowing for whom it is meant, but hopeful that this act will release him from his dreams.
The animated shorts contain examples of following tropes:
- Death by Irony: Roseburrow kills himself with a gun loaded with a single whale oil-powered bullet — a symbol of the militarization of the very technology he had originally intended for peaceful use.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Lonely Rat Boy summons a swarm of rats to devour the young men who bullied him earlier.
- Driven to Suicide: Roseburrow shoots himself upon realizing that his scientific and cultural legacy will be forever tied to, if not overshadowed by, Sokolov's work for the military-industrial complex.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Piero's appearance in the third episode is based on Wallace's from the final game, because their character models were actually swapped by the devs very late in production, after the episodes had already been animated.
- Fading into the Next Song: An animated version of this trope: the second episode opens with the Lonely Rat Boy watching Roseburrow's suicide through a window, while part three starts with Piero's dream of Rat Boy's own painful demise.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Subverted by Roseburrow, whose eyes are forever concealed by massive glasses, but who nonetheless proves to be a good man when he takes his own life after realizing his technology was used for evil and he is too old to change anything.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: One of the rats that the Lonely Rat Boy summons bites him, infecting him with the rat plague that kills him in days.
- Interquel: The third episode takes place at some point in the half-year Time Skip between the assassination of Empress Jessamine and Corvo's escape from prison.
- Handshake of Doom: Esmond Roseburrow is approached by a young Anton Sokolov with designs for revolutionary new technology powered by Roseburrow's whale-oil fuel. The elderly inventor decides to give Sokolov a chance, sealing their partnership with a handshake... only for the handshake to suddenly dissolve into a montage of all the oppression that occurred once Sokolov began selling his work to the military-industrial complex, ultimately paving the way for the High Regent's dictatorship. Seeing the misery that has overtaken Dunwall as a result of this fateful handshake, Roseburrow retreats to his now-abandoned headquarters, arms himself with one of Sokolov's weapons and blows his head off.
- No Name Given: The protagonist of the second episode is never named in any canon sources, and is only known as "the Lonely Rat Boy" by the fans.
- One-Man Industrial Revolution: All technological advances of the Isles and Dunwall in particular and, indeed, their dominance in the world can be traced directly to Roseburrow's discovery of whale oil refinement.
- Origins Episode: "In the Mind of Madness" serves as one for Corvo's iconic mask.