The Elder Scrolls (commonly abbreviated to TES) is a franchise created by Bethesda Softworks. Set on the vast continent of Tamriel, the award-winning Elder Scrolls video games are renowned for the level of unprecedented control given to the player over his or her character's destiny, establishing themselves as benchmarks in immersive, independently-living worlds for the RPG genre.
Franchise Title Origins
When Arena transitioned from an action combat game into an RPG, "The Elder Scrolls: Chapter I" was added to the title, not only to evoke that it was an RPG (which was a prerogative), but also to say that other Chapters would be "written into" these "Elder Scrolls" down the road; this system would have acted very much like Dungeons & Dragons campaign packs, with varying Chapters big and small being added to the original game over time (what today we would call an Expansions or Add-Ons). However, at the time of this thought experiment, the company really didn't have the infrastructure to implement and support such a system, and seemingly opted to designate future Chapters as being the mainline games of the series.[UOL 1]
A few Chapters were actually designed for Arena: whole adventures on the open ocean, reimplemented gladiatorial arenas, and a vampiric castle called Mournhold which was sort of like Ravenloft, which was originally The Elder Scrolls: Chapter II, before it was decided to make a brand new game instead of a campaign. Mournhold and Morrowind were still intended on being the setting of an Arena sequel, but this was changed very early in development, with things being moved to the Iliac Bay and Daggerfall for Chapter II instead.[UOL 1]
The main series consists of five games and their respective add-ons:
- The Elder Scrolls: Chapter I - Arena (1994)
- The Elder Scrolls: Chapter II - Daggerfall (1996)
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
Apart from the central storyline, a wide range of spin-off games have been set within the world of The Elder Scrolls, including:
- An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (1997)
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard (1998)
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold (2003)
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar (2004)
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey (2004)
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion (2006)
- The Elder Scrolls Online (2014-present)
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind (2017 / ESO Chapter)
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset (2018 / ESO Chapter)
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr (2019 / ESO Chapter)
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor (2020 / ESO Chapter)
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood (2021 / ESO Chapter)
- The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle (2022 / ESO Chapter)
- DLC Game Packs (2015-present / ESO DLC)
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends (2017-present)
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends Asia (2019-2020)
- The Elder Scrolls: Blades (2019-present)
There have also been a few games that were in development but have since been canceled:
The world of The Elder Scrolls is well-known for its attention to detail and realism, replete with an interconnected structure of various societies, cultures, and religions, each backed by a thorough historical basis, revealed to Elder Scrolls aficionados (who often assume the title of "loremaster") through in-game literature and deep, multi-tiered conversations.
- Black Marsh - homeland of the Argonians
- Cyrodiil - homeland of the Imperials and the extinct Ayleids
- Elsweyr - homeland of the Khajiit
- Hammerfell - homeland of the Redguards
- High Rock - homeland of the Bretons and Orcs
- Morrowind - homeland of the Dunmer and the presumed extinct Dwemer
- Skyrim - homeland of the Nords and Falmer
- Summerset Isles - homeland of the Altmer
- Valenwood - homeland of the Bosmer
Furthermore, many titles—especially An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and The Elder Scrolls Online—take place partially within the alternate, Daedra-ruled, Planes of Oblivion.
While it is known that continents other than Tamriel exist, players have yet to visit them in any official game.
The Elder Scrolls Themselves
The Elder Scrolls (Kelle in the Dragon Language), also called the Aedric Prophecies (though the accuracy of that term is often disputed), are scrolls of unknown origin which simultaneously archive both past and future events. The number of the Scrolls is unknown not necessarily due to their immense quantity, but because the number itself is unknowable, as the Scrolls "do not exist in countable form". They are fragments of creation from outside time and space, and their use in divining prophecies is but a small part of their power. They simultaneously do not exist, yet always have existed.
Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.