General:ESO Live Lore of the Clockwork City

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ESO Live Lore of the Clockwork City
Medium/Format Online Interview
Date October 13, 2017
Interviewee(s) Lawrence Schick, Leamon Tuttle
Interviewer(s) Gina Bruno
Hosted By Twitch, eso.com

ESO Live held an interview with then Loremaster Lawrence Schick, and Writer-Designer Leamon Tuttle, during an episode on October 13, 2017. It discusses, as the title implies, the lore background of the Clockwork City.


Gina: So we saw last time you were on the show Leamon, we talked a little bit "about what is Clockwork City, and what's with this miniature thing, and what's going on, and where is it". For anyone who missed the show, do you want to just kind of touch on that one more time?

Leamon: uh, yeah. I mean I would toss it to Lawrence. It's a complex thing. I know there was a lot of controversy about what exactly we meant by what we were talking about, so, take it away Lawrence.

Lawrence: So the Clockwork City is the Clockwork God Sotha Sil’s experimental miniature recapitulation of the entire Mundus in one apparently small container, and it's built in order to both imitate and recapitulate the world above, and it's somewhere beneath Tamriel. The way you get to it in the game is through an entrance that is near Mournhold in Morrowind. But where is it actually? It's as deep as it's possible to be and still be in Tamriel, so it's actually the same distance from everywhere, and it is both tiny and at the same time an entire world unto itself. So once you get into it, it feels vast, and in fact it is vast, and at the same time it's tiny. So you know both of these things are true, and they're not contradictory. Inside you will find that Sotha Sil has built mechanical replicas of various aspects of the world above, which are being used in experiments by his Clockwork Apostles to test out his various theories on how the world, which was created originally, of course, by the Daedra [sic] when they sacrificed themselves to become the Earthbones. When they created the world, it was in the opinion of Sotha Sil a flawed creation, and he is looking for ways whereby it can be perfected.

Gina: Does the city ever move?

Lawrence: The city doesn't need to move. It's exactly where it needs to be at all times.

Gina: It's exactly in the middle of everything

Lawrence: There have been various statements in lore about where it is located, but really that's more about ways to get to it, rather than where it can be found. So where it is really? It's in a more metaphorical location than physical, really, because it's a metaphor made manifest. It’s both a reality and a replication of reality at the same time. There, that's clear isn't it?

Leamon: That sounds great!

Gina: Perfectly! I completely understand now. So I know when we started up the forum thread after we posted the schedule, we were asking people for questions, and a lot of the questions seem to be focused on Sotha Sil, asking about what his deal is, his background, and all sorts of things, so we can get into those questions in a little bit, but just to kind of start off, do you want to talk a little bit about Sotha Sil? Because this is a pretty cool thing that he's in here.

Lawrence: Yeah, I'll lead off. Everybody is familiar at this point with Vivec because, of course, you've all played through The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, and so you've met Vivec in all his Poet-Warrior glory. And he of course is garrulous and speaks for himself, and he's got plenty to say, but Sotha Sil is mysterious and lets his acts speak for him, and his works are mainly interpreted by others: His Clockwork Apostles and their leaders, the Torbillon.

Gina: That is a very nice French word there.

Lawrence: I'll let Leamon speak about that, because he is the interpreter of the sermons of Sotha Sil.

Leamon: Thanks, yeah. So like Lawrence said, Sotha Sil is mysterious. He very rarely speaks, so what we get is what is written by his Torbillon, so most of it is through his sermons which are titled The Truth in Sequence. There are 12 of those by a Clockwork Apostle named Deldrise Morvayn. We can only really know what the Apostles tell us, so according to The Truth in Sequence, Sotha Sil is interested in repairing, like Lawrence said, the et’Ada’s various mistakes. Taking Tamriel apart, and putting it back together again correctly into what's called Tamriel Final. So he's very clearly interested in perfection, or at least fixing things that he perceives as broken, and how he goes about doing that is sometimes beautiful, and sometimes terrifying. And yeah, he's a complex guy.

Gina: Off topic, but what is your character wearing Sam, is that the polymorph?

Sam: Yes.

Gina: Awesome. Yeah, so you have a chance to get this polymorph when you complete… is it just the veteran hard mode of the new trial? I think that's what it is. I know Fin is in chat, and if im wrong he'll definitely call me out, but yeah, that thing is pretty cool.

Lawrence: That polymorph is an image of one of Sotha Sil’s Factotums, which are the humanoid constructs that he has built in order to fulfill some of his experimental needs where the clockwork apostles and others do not. And also they do a lot of the grunt work around Clockwork. Want to talk a little bit about the Factotums?

Leamon: Sure. So like Lawrence said, Factotums are humanoid servitors basically. They all speak with one voice. They're always working on something in the city. The nature of where they came from, how they're constructed, is kind of a mystery even to the Apostles. In fact, it's something that they're almost encouraged to not look into. But of course, the Clockwork Apostles, one of the major mandates according to The Truth in Sequence is to be a little heretical and a little blasphemous every now and then because that's how you how you really figure things out. A few people believe that the Factotums voice was modeled on someone Sotha Sil used to know way back in the day before he ascended to godhood, but it's really anybody's guess as to what their exact nature is because, of course, Sotha Sil is not talking.

Lawrence: Except that if you go all the way through the main quest line in the Clockwork City DLC, you will have the very rare and very special opportunity to speak with Sotha Sil himself, and hear what he has to say, and answer to your questions not interpreted by others, but directly from the mouth of the most mysterious of the three Tribunes.

Leamon: And it's very possible that the things that he tells you might not line up exactly with The Truth in Sequence. He is worth talking to.

Forum and Twitch chat Questions[edit]

The following questions were picked from this forum thread, or from Twitch chat, and read out by Community Manager Gina Bruno:

Gina: We were just talking about Fabricants.

Lawrence: Factotums.

Leamon: Factotums.

Gina: Alright, I’m sorry, Factotums. I’m still over there. Since Fabric… Oh, Jesus Christ. You know what, this happens every Friday where it's like "oh it's right afternoon, there goes my brain, there goes."

Lawrence: It was our mistake for making similar things with similar names

Gina: You know, when you start things with the same letter, my brain just implodes.

"Since Fabricants need to eat, what are they feeding off of when they aren't eating adventurers, or the oddball Apostle? It doesn't seem like there's enough adventurers in the world to feed all of them."

Lawrence: Who says they need to eat? What if they don't? The ones that you see most often are created to resemble predatory creatures, and predatory creatures by their nature must prey, and so that that's what they do. They follow their natures that they have been created to follow, but do they need to, or are they just enacting their functions?

Gina: Hmm, insert thinking face. WhiteCoatSyndrome, he had a lot of questions, or she, I apologize, on the forums, and some of them were really good. so here's another one that is actually kind of interesting.

"You say most of the people in Clockwork seem to be at least above magical and/or tech ability, and everyone seems to hate the nutrient pace for being boring. Illusion magic exists, so if there's a spell to make someone think you’re friends, why isn't there a spell to make some to make someone think the pace tastes like Scrib Jelly?"

Lawrence: You want take this one?

Leamon: Sure. So first to start off, the Clockwork Apostles would probably tell you that illusion magic is profane, and they don't want it in the city. Sotha Sil is interested in truth, and finding the absolute facts of things, so creating an illusion is a ridiculous thing to even consider. Also, there's the very real possibility that Sotha Sil makes it so they have to taste it that way. The Clockwork City is in many respects kind of is Sotha Sil, and there's no guarantee that any magic that an apostle or someone else might be able to use could actually change the taste of the paste if he doesn't want them to.

Lawrence: And he just made darn well be interested in finding out what happens when you feed Clockwork Apostles tasteless paste for decades on end.

Leamon: Yeah.

Lawrence: You know that might be part of his grand master plan.

Gina: You know what? Maybe some people enjoy the taste of the taste of nutrient paste. Like I like boring and bland food. I don't like spice. I mean I just had green beans for lunch and everyone's like well, are you eating that?"

Leamon: That is a very good question, why are you eating that?

Gina: I liked them, they were seasoned nice with some garlic and some shallots... Anyway, moving on.

"Sotha Sil appears to have replaced an arm with metal; What was his original reason for doing so? Was it Injury? Just trying to improve himself? Something else?"

Lawrence: Well if you could replace your arm with a metal arm, wouldn't you do it?

Gina: F yeah I would!

Lawrence: You know, there could be more than that.

Leamon: Sure, so according to The Truth in Sequence, the 12th sermon heavily implied that where Tamriel Final is headed actually a synthesis of what is organic and what is not organic to a unified home, so it would make sense for him to kind of embody that idea.

Lawrence: And as you go to the Clockwork City and you start to meet various clockwork apostles, you find that many of them have one or more parts of their bodies that have been replaced with mechanical simulations of those body parts. And for them to replace the flawed biological parts that the et’Ada designed with a perfect part that was designed by their master Sotha Sil, this is really an expression of faith, and their devotion to their master. So you will see Clockwork Apostles, and to some extent, the number of replacements that they have is a clue to how much influence they have in the Brass Fortress in the Clockwork City.

"Leamon, what do you do here? Like what do you as a Senior Writer. Like are you writing quests?"

Leamon: The Senior Writer writes. I was fortunate enough to be the primary writer on the Clockwork City, so that allowed me to kind of have my fingers in all various objectives, and I also did the writing for the actual main quest itself, and a lot of the books that kind of go along with that.

Gina: He writes senior-ly. Thanks Fin.

Lawrence: The Senior Writer is responsible not just for all of the player facing texts that you may see on on screen in various capacities, such as the names of characters, and the dialogue, and the lore books that you read. The writer is also embedded in the team that builds the content area, and they work very closely with the content designers, the encounter designers, and the world builders. All together, they make sure that the themes that we're trying to get across are embedded in all of the content in all the ways that you can dramatically do so. So it's more than just the words, it's the story, and the themes, and the characters, and the emotional aspects of the world that you're immersing yourself in. That is all part and parcel of the writer designer’s responsibility.

Leamon: What he said.

Gina: That’s what he does, all that. Alright, so here's another question, maybe minor spoiler.

"There's a lot of crows of the Blackfeather Court, right? They might talk. Are these technically counted as Daedra?"

Leamon: Absolutely.

Lawrence: Of course. If you've been to the demi-plane of Crow’s Wood, which you can visit from … it's not Deshaan? It's in Davon's Watch; that's is a Daedric demi-plane where there are … these crows, and yes, they are Daedra in the form of birds.

Leamon: Of course they might not agree with that. They probably would tell you that no, they're crows, and you're ridiculous for asking.

Lawrence: Yeah, shut up.

"SantieClaws on the forums was asking why there appears to be no tavern in Slag Town itself. I mean, don't the poorest of the poor deserve to drown their woes in cheap ale? "

Leamon: Yeah, I mean there's … a lot of them hang out in the outlaws refuge, so there's probably some places to revel in there.

Lawrence: Plenty of swill available the outlaws refuge.

Leamon: Exactly, but I mean you know when you're a subsistence trash wrangler, and you're trying to make your way, you might not have as much time to goof around as other people.

Gina: Oh let's see. What kind of metal does Sotha Sil use?

Lawrence: He uses every kind of metal, and some that are unknown to magic or science elsewhere. He is a master of all materials

Gina: There you have it. All of them. Remember, all of this?

Lawrence: His City is the Brass Fortress, so things tend to look brassy, and bronzy, and stuff like that.

"I’ve seen a lot of questions asking people why is he so damn tall. He is a tall dude."

Lawrence: If you could be that tall, wouldn't you?

Leamon: Of course.

Lawrence: All right then.

Leamon: Vivec floats around and glows, you know.

"LMar on the forums was asking "there's various sources saying that black soul gems were discovered by various other people like, maybe Mannimarco. Who did invent the black soul gems, was it Sotha Sil, Mannimarco, or maybe even somebody else?"

Lawrence: Well, black soul gems in The Elder Scrolls, they are a magical technology, so they can be invented, discovered, or created repeatedly. It's just a way that things work, and who invented and created them first, you know you're gonna have several claimants to that probably. But they are a way of manipulating animus and magicka, given the magical technology of Tamriel. And so, there's more than one origin they could have come from.

"Do you think so that Sotha Sil gets tired of people asking if he plays basketball because he is so tall?"

Lawrence: How's the weather up there Clockwork God?

Gina: I tell my husband being how it is he like six six or something.

Leamon: It's a sasquatch.

Gina: He's somewhere between maybe like six foot five and nine feet tall. He definitely got tired of people asking, "hey do you play basketball?" "No." What else do we have here?

"All the Factotum bards crappily playing songs off-key and wheezy for the flute, is that Sotha Sil’s idea of some kind of joke?"

Leamon: Everything that happens in the Clockwork City is a direct manifestation of what he wills, so it follows that probably he wants this factotums to play really bad music.

Lawrence: There's something meaningful there, something significant. Its up to you to tease out that meaning and significance!

Gina: Did you do those noises? I’m asking the audio guy here, he said he did help. What did you use for it?

Audio Guy: We had someone play the flute.

Leamon: Poorly.

Gina: Poorly. Was it Becky? I remember, we talked about this, yeah Becky was on the show not too long ago, and yeah, apparently, she was the crappy flute player. So, there you have it.

Lawrence: She's our Audio Factotum.

"The Factotums created by Sotha Sil, do they contain any internal power source?"

Leamon: Yes, most of the the ambulatory simulacra, the robots, they run off of something called an animo core, which is a device that is filled with something called geodic distillate, which is basically soul geodes that have been ground up into a slurry, and then put into those capsules, and they power many of the machines there.

"Somebody was asking if... where was the question? If the Clockwork City is some sort of parallel universe, and if it's endless."

Lawrence: Kind of. Both those questions are "kind of". Yeah, it's in fact a deliberately parallel universe in that it deliberately parallels Tamriel above. You don't see nearly all of it from what you can see in the game. It has layers and only Sotha Sil knows the full extent of those layers, and what the function of some of the other areas are. Samantha, can you just kind of lean back and look up at the sky for a moment? Look up there. Look at those whirling rings spinning around the world of the Clockwork City. That is the outside of the Clockwork City - or maybe not. That's just what you can see from the Brass Fortress, and you can see that Sotha Sil has taken the concept of wheels within wheels, and worlds within worlds, and made it physically manifest right over your head, so that you're constantly contemplating the fact that the world is a built thing, and therefore it can be reverse engineered, re-engineered, and improved. Look, there's the proof right above your head! So yeah, it's profound as hell. God damn, this stuff is deep.

[Laughter]

Gina: Let's put in another question, we have a bunch here. Here's one from lonewolf26, he was asking, or she, my apologies:

"With all these murderous shadows running about, it gives one with claws pause. What is the most efficient way to dispatch a shadow, and if one were to fight their own shadow and win, would that mean you still lose?"

Gina: Insert thinking face.

Leamon: Speaking of deep stuff, man. Yeah, so it's established pretty early on that in destroying your shadow, you've destroyed some kind of vital aspect of your animus, and in doing so, you actually lose power. So yes, if you're outright kill your shadow, that's bad news, you don't want to do that. If you're able to subdue it and you're able to bring it back into yourself, then everything's good.

Lawrence: And it's another replication metaphor. Here's another thing were an aspect of reality has been duplicated, and that it can be affected thereby. So it actually is a parallel to what Sotha Sil is doing with the world, to whatever is going on with the shadows, which by the way is a threat to – yeah, that’s enough.

Leamon: Yeah, no.

Gina: You know what? Everything's a threat. Another question, so is actually one of the first questions we got.

"Why are there no Khajiit or Argonian Apostles?"

Lawrence: Aren't there?

Leamon: Do the thinking pose.

Gina: We're getting so much mileage out of it, it's great…

"Why did Sotha Sil design his memory storage after foreign gods, by which he means the Constellations, the Warrior, Mage, and Thief Constellations."

Lawrence: Okay, well if you think about it, it's not so much that these are references to the animated versions of the constellations that you meet in Craglorn, for example, but that the concept of Constellations themselves, a constellation is a memory device, it's a way to think about that organization of stars, and what does that represent, and how can you use that as a mnemonic. So constellations are actually, in themselves, a device for memory, and so using them as an application occurred to Sotha Sil, as a method of storing his own. It's kind of similar to the medieval memory mansion approach to just storing memories mentally by conceiving of this mansion that has different rooms, and you put different memories in different places in these different rooms. Sotha Sil needed the entire astronomical cosmos for his memories, so that's why he's chosen the star fields.

Gina: There you have it. Another wonderful answer.

Gina: So Sindri in chat was asking this:

"In the prologue quest, there's an NPC calling Sotha Sil a brother of Vivec. Are they actually blood related, or is it just a metaphor?"

Leamon: As far as I'm aware, it's just a metaphor.

Lawrence: It is in fact. The tribunes refer to each other as brother and sister, but yes, it's a metaphorical relationship.

Gina: It would be like if I saw Sam walking down the hall, and I'm like, hey sister, how’s it going. But like we're not actually sisters

Lawrence: Exactly.

Leamon: They are kind they are kind of family in that they're all unified by the power of the Heart of Lorkhan that binds them together in a very real magical sense.

Lawrence: Quite so.