The Geography of The Elder Scrolls

This, my friends, is Tamriel.  It is the continent upon which the events in all the Elder Scrolls games take place, including the upcoming Skyrim.  Lets take a look back through the games and their lore, and see what information we can glean, in order to be better equipped to kick some dragon ass come November.

The dark brown area in the north is Skyrim, where all the events of the upcoming game will take place.  Its going to be very mountainous and cold from what I can tell, and it is the area that the Nords call home.  But of course, Skyrim is not created in a vacuum, and there are tons of games that predate it and have worked to weave a good bit of interesting lore.  I won’t detail hardly any of that here, but what I would like to explore is which regions on Tamriel have been used before in prior games and which regions have yet to be touched in this world.  (Tamriel is merely a continent on the Planet Nirn, which has other continents as well, including Atmora, Yokuda, Akavir, and Pyandonea, none of which have any of the games so far been set in.)

This is the entire map of Nirn

The first game in the Elder Scrolls series goes by the terribly off-putting name, The Elder Scrolls:  Arena.  Originally intended to be just an arena fighting game, development eventually evolved into an early iteration of what we know today, an RPG game where you can go anywhere and do anything.  This game did not specify which province you could go to, and thus you could concievably go to any province you liked.  However, the terrain and settings were all randomly generated, so that here you are in Skyrim, in The Elder Scrolls: Arena:

It was 1994, give them a break

The next game in the series was The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.  Daggerfall is the name of the capitol of the region High Rock, which you can see in the map of Tamriel above (its in the top left).  This land is mainly populated by the Bretons, the race I chose to play Oblivion with.  And thus this second installment takes place almost exclusively within High Rock, though you will travel to Hammerfell as well.  High Rock is mostly comprised of coastal cities near the shores, especially towards Hammerfell, and hilly plains with ruined castles and villages towards the mountainous boundary with Skyrim.

Daggerfall was notoriously buggy, and The Elder Scrolls games proceeded onto the next two titles, more focused on linear adventure gaming, and to some (including myself) they are not cannon.  These were Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire and Elder Scrolls Adventure: Redguard.  

But by 2002 the next true installment in The Elder Scrolls series was released, titled The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.  Morrowind takes place in none other than the province of Morrowind, which can be seen at the top right of Tamriel.  Morrowind is far different than most other regions of Tamriel, featuring a blackened sky from the eruptions of the Vvardenfell volcano, centered upon the island in Morrowind.  This area is home to the Dark Elves, and the setting is full of oversized mushrooms and large insect-like creatures.  This is the game that got me heavily involved in the Elder Scrolls series of games due to its sheer scope and graphical achievements.  Its unique aura gave me a feeling that is hard to explain, and I would love to see a title return us to Morrowind some day.  A future title could even boast a fully explorable Tamriel (not like Arena did, but like this newer gen could accomplish).  But that’s speculation.  Here is what Morrowind looked like:

Morrowind would also be my last forray into PC gaming, and thereafter I would be experiencing The Elder Scrolls through console.  In 2006, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released.  Oblivion, despite the name, did not take place in Oblivion.  No, that is simply a plane of existence, something like Hell I suppose, that is threatening the plane of mortals, in which Tamriel exists.  True, you do travel to Oblivion in the game, but the majority of the game is set in the province of Cyrodiil.  Cyrodiil is the very large central province in Tamriel as you can see above.  It is home to the Imperial race and is the capital province of Tamriel.  As is easily observed, Cyrodiil is substantially larger than Skyrim, so it is yet to be known if the map size will be smaller in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or if there will be larger cities, more detailed villiages, and less ‘waste’ space, i.e. using more in less space, thus giving us more to do per square foot.  That is yet to be seen, but what can be seen is what Cyrodiil looked like, and it is as thus:

And Skyrim will be released on 11/11/11.  It will, of course, take place in the province of Skyrim, which Bethesda has just verified today by providing the map below.  Being northern, and seeing how the Nords, who inhabit it, have a resistance to cold, it is fairly obvious this will be a very arctic climate.  Furthermore, because the mountainous boundaries of Cyrodiil, High Rock, and Morrowind they shared with Skyrim have all been high and snow capped, we can expect some simply beautiful environments.  And if that’s not got you excited enough, it appears that Skyrim is the province where dragons are native to.  And so in a few short month’s, we’ll finally be able to explore Tamriel’s most northern and unexplored province yet!  And click here for a larger, more detailed map of Skyrim!


2 Comments to “The Geography of The Elder Scrolls”

  1. Right now I am doing a media blackout when it comes to news of Skyrim, but I made an exception here because this doesn’t deal with gameplay or the central story of Skyrim. I never knew how the main world was divided up. When I played Oblivion I thought I was in the entire area because of the way the races were divided geographically. Very educational article and it gets me excited for 11-11!

  2. Nords all the way!

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