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General:The Elder Scrolls

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The Elder Scrolls logo

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 their 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 better advertise that it was an RPG (which was a prerogative), but also to evoke a sort of tome like novel, something that new Chapters could be written into down the line. He eventually picked "The Elder Scrolls". At its core the series was designed to support Dungeons & Dragons style 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.[1][2]

A few Chapter campaigns 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,[2] but this was changed very early in development, with things being moved to the Iliac Bay and Daggerfall for Chapter II instead.[1]


The main series consists of five games and their respective add-ons:

A sixth main series entry has also been confirmed to be in development:

Apart from the central storyline, a wide range of spin-off games have been set within the world of The Elder Scrolls, including:

There have also been a few games that were in development but have since been canceled:

Other Media

The Elder Scrolls franchise has also included various other forms of media over the years.

  • Books — The Elder Scrolls novels, guides, and other publications
  • Merchandise — Various types of physical media and official merch
  • Board Games — The Elder Scrolls tabletop games

Gameplay Universe

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.

Set within the mortal realm of Mundus, the Elder Scrolls games are invariably placed within one or more of the nine provinces of the continent of Tamriel, these being:

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 opening of an Elder Scroll
"Past, present, future. The Elder Scrolls hold all of Tamriel's history. That which has transpired, and that which is yet to be. They speak of heroes and their quests, of challenges yet to be faced, and prophecies yet to be fulfilled. But they do not tell us your role, for your destiny is your own to craft. Will you fade into memory? Or will you carve your name into myth? And join those who have become... Legends."

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. They are described as bits of the Divine made substance so that those within the world could know it, existing at once within, but also beyond and beneath the world, before and after. Though different observers might witness different reflections within the Scrolls, all are true, especially the falsehoods, and many who studied them have been driven to madness.

Though the Scrolls are called "prophecies", to call them that is actually inaccurate. The Elder Scrolls speaking of what is to come is merely a side-effect of their intrinsic nature, they tell of the future of Mundus because they are woven into the future, present, past, and every other aspect of the reality of Mundus.

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", and their number will change whenever one looks upon them. 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. The Elder Scrolls are a reflection of all possible futures and all possible pasts, and can affect all possible futures, even to bind one to specific outcomes. The Scrolls can see both the past and future at once, both are one to an Elder Scroll, and sometimes they even gaze "above" the stream of time. Not even the greatest machinations of the Dwemer can hold off their "all-sight". However, the knowledge they grant is but a passing awareness when compared to the encompassing mind of divinity. 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.

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