General:Kurt Kuhlmann

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Kurt Kuhlmann
GEN-developer-Kurt Kuhlmann.jpg
Birth date 11 September[1][2]
Role(s) Designer, writer, engineer[3]
Years active 1996–present[3]
Alias(es) Hasphat Antabolis[4]
Game credits The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall[5]
The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard[6]
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind[7]
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion[8]
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim[9]
The Elder Scrolls: Blades[10]

Kurt Kuhlmann is a video game designer, writer, and software engineer with credits in various roles on Daggerfall,[5] Redguard,[6] Morrowind,[7] Oblivion,[8] Skyrim,[9] and Blades.[10]

The Elder Scrolls[edit]

Kuhlmann joined Bethesda Softworks in 1996 near the end of Daggerfall's development as "the most junior designer possible",[11] and his work on the game included exclusive quests for the CompUSA Special Edition of the game.[12] He bonded with artist and writer Michael Kirkbride, who was hired on the same day that he was, over a shared interest in weird fiction.[12] Kuhlmann and Kirkbride made a pitch to Todd Howard for a "pirates-on-Mars" game on which Kuhlmann had already written "scores of notes",[13] eventually becoming Redguard[12] with the trio as writers,[6] while a separate team developed Battlespire.[14] According to Kuhlmann, Kirkbride, Howard, and himself had devised the story and the game's puzzles over a few weeks.[15] During Redguard's production, Kirkbride and Kuhlmann wrote the Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition[16] to be shipped as a physical pamphlet with Redguard,[12] and in doing so largely redesigned the basis of The Elder Scrolls lore.[13] Kuhlmann later stated that Redguard was his favorite game that he has worked on.[15]

"Pound for pound, [Kurt is] the best world builder I know currently working in videogames. Kurt Kuhlmann is a magician in the Victorian sense, a hybrid of scripting fool, grim Germanic game designer, and kindhearted alchemist of systems-as-settings (or is that vice versa?), with the uncanny ability to explain anything in digital entertainment by way of the Peloponnesian War."
Michael Kirkbride[3]

Preproduction for the next main series Elder Scrolls title, Morrowind, occurred alongside Redguard's development and Kuhlmann was heavily involved in its early writing and design,[12][17] developing the story and all essential game systems,[18] and for a time was the only designer officially on the project.[19] Morrowind's Lead Designer Ken Rolston stated that he inherited the ideas behind the game from Kuhlmann and Kirkbride[20]—while Rolston was originally working from the notes left by Ted Peterson and Julian Lefay for a Daggerfall sequel set in Summerset Isle, Kuhlmann and Kirkbride presented him with their ideas for what would become Morrowind.[21] Kuhlmann left Bethesda Softworks in January 1998[3] during Morrowind's preproduction, but in 2001 contributed 10 in-game books for the game,[18] and he received a "Special Thanks" credit on the title for his contributions.[7]

In 2003, Kuhlmann was convinced by Todd Howard to return for the development of Oblivion, for which Kuhlmann was chiefly responsible for the game's main questline.[11] He then took a more prominent role as the Lead Designer of the Knights of the Nine expansion[22][11] before doing quest design for Shivering Isles.[23] For the following game, Skyrim, Kuhlmann was again in a a prominent role as the title's Co-Lead Designer.[9] After Skyrim's release, Kuhlmann uploaded a plugin for the game, Real Carriages, presenting his work on making in-game carriages travel in real-time which was not complete in time to ship.[24] In 2013, Kuhlmann collaborated on Michael Kirkbride's project Captain Tobias' Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless in celebration of Redguard's 15th anniversary, but while voiceover work has been recorded, the project remains unreleased.[25]

Since joining Bethesda Softworks, Kuhlmann has occasionally posted in online Elder Scrolls forums, including in-character as Hasphat Antabolis.[4] and he participated as that character in the forum roleplay The Trial of Vivec.[26] With other prominent lore writers Ted Peterson and Michael Kirkbride not being permanent employees of Bethesda Softworks, Kurt Kuhlmann remains an authority on lore within the company, with Skyrim writer Shane Liesegang stating that the "bible" of The Elder Scrolls is "Kurt's brain".[27] Kuhlmann was also a lore consultant for Greg Keyes during the writing of The Infernal City.[28]

Outside of The Elder Scrolls[edit]

Kuhlmann studied history at Michigan State University and Duke University,[3] originally intending to earn a Ph.D before deciding to change career paths.[11] Interested in designing games, he applied for designer jobs until he was hired at Bethesda Softworks, relocating from North Carolina to Maryland.[11] He had a small role on SkyNET for which he received a "Special Thanks" credit.[29]

After leaving Bethesda Softworks in 1998, Kuhlmann was a software engineer for various companies.[3] Just one of these was another game development company, VR1 Entertainment, with Kuhlmann reflecting that "nothing we did ever saw the light of day".[11] During his time there, Kuhlmann contributed voiceovers to NightCaster: Defeat the Darkness,[30] but the projects he directly worked on—a Jules Verne-inspired MMO titled Lost Continents and web-based board games Axis & Allies and Maximum Risk[18]—did not see releases.[11] Since returning to Bethesda Softworks, Kuhlmann has worked as a designer on Fallout 3,[31] Fallout 4,[32] and Fallout 76.[33]

Kuhlmann is an avid fan of board wargames and Eurogames,[11] and designed the wargames Empire, which he published in 2000 under his company Warhorse Simulations, and Epic of the Peloponnesian War in 2006.[34] He supposed that he was originally hired as a designer for Bethesda Softworks due to his skill at designing wargames.[11] Kuhlmann also operates ACTS, a system for playing card-based wargames by email.[35]

In 1999, Kuhlmann and Michael Kirkbride wrote a 13-episode fanmade Star Wars television series titled Star Wars: Rebellion [36][37] (also the origin of the name "Titus Mede", later reused for a character in The Elder Scrolls).[38]

Video game credits[edit]

Indicates The Elder Scrolls titles
Year Title Studio Credit(s)
1996 SkyNET Bethesda Softworks Special Thanks[29]
1996 The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Additional Design[5]
1998 The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard World Art, Design & Writing
Manual Writing[6]
2001 NightCaster: Defeat the Darkness VR1 Entertainment Voice Talent[30]
2002 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Bethesda Softworks Special Thanks[7]
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King EA Redwood Shores Special Thanks[39]
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Bethesda Softworks Quest Design
Additional Programming[8]
The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine Lead Designer[22]
2007 The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles Quest Design[23]
2008 Fallout 3 Quest Design & Editing[31]
2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Co-Lead Designer[9]
2015 Fallout 4 Quest Design & Writing[32]
2018 Fallout 76 Systems Design[33]
2014 The Elder Scrolls Online ZeniMax Online Studios Special Thanks[40]
2020 The Elder Scrolls: Blades Bethesda Softworks Additional Writing[10]

Texts Authored[edit]

This list is non-exhaustive and includes only texts which have been confirmed to be written, fully or partially, by Kuhlmann.

Texts Authored
Redguard Morrowind Oblivion Skyrim Out-of-game

External Links[edit]

Bethblog—Inside the Vault: Kurt Kuhlmann
Paste Magazine—How to Read a Videogame: The Books of Skyrim
Game Informer—Decrypting The Elder Scrolls
Kurt Kuhlmann on LinkedIn
Warhorse Simulations


  1. ^ [Temple Zero Society]. (11 September 2009). Comment on "Happy Birthday Hasphat Antabolis ". Bethesda Softworks Forums. Archived from the original on 12 Feburary 2020.
  2. ^ Loveletter From the Fifth Era, The True Purpose of Tamriel, The Imperial Library
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kurt Kuhlmann. LinkedIn.
  4. ^ a b c Kurt Kuhlmann's Posts, The Imperial Library
  5. ^ a b c Daggerfall:Development Team
  6. ^ a b c d Redguard:Credits
  7. ^ a b c d Morrowind:Credits
  8. ^ a b c Oblivion:Credits
  9. ^ a b c d Skyrim:Credits
  10. ^ a b c Blades:Credits
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cheng, A. (5 December 2007). Inside the vault: Kurt Kuhlmann. Bethesda Blog. Archived from the original on 18 June 2008.
  12. ^ a b c d e Kane, A. (27 March 2019). Morrowind: An oral history. Polygon.
  13. ^ a b c Edwards, M. (17 July, 2014). A History of The Elder Scrolls. Retro Gamer, 131.
  14. ^ The Elder Scrolls 10th Anniversary: Battlespire. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007.
  15. ^ a b Miller, M. (26 December 2010). Decrypting The Elder Scrolls. Game Informer.
  16. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (6 January 2020). Comment on "(Prolly repost idk) Why is Morrowind lore so eccentric compared to every other entry?". Reddit.
  17. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (13 June 2020). Comment on "How much of the Dunmer lore was established before Morrowind?". Reddit.
  18. ^ a b c Kurt M. Kuhlmann Resume. Archived from [http:/ the original] on 23 April 2008.
  19. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (13 September 2020). Comment on "Cocaine?". Reddit.
  20. ^ (July 2005). Games That Changed the World—The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. PC Zone, 156.
  21. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (13 June 2020). Comment on "How much of the Dunmer lore was established before Morrowind?". Reddit.
  22. ^ a b The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine (2006) Windows credits. MobyGames.
  23. ^ a b Shivering:Credits
  24. ^ Developer Mods/Kurt Kuhlmann
  25. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (04 January 2021). Comment on "What happened to Captain Tobias’ Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless?". Reddit.
  26. ^ The Trial of Vivec, The Imperial Library
  27. ^ Shane Liesegang's Posts, The Imperial Library
  28. ^ Interview With Greg Keyes, The Imperial Library
  29. ^ a b Skynet (1996) DOS credits. MobyGames.
  30. ^ a b Nightcaster: Defeat the Darkness (2001) Xbox credits. MobyGames.
  31. ^ a b Fallout 3 (2008) Windows credits. MobyGames.
  32. ^ a b Fallout 4 (2015) Windows credits. MobyGames.
  33. ^ a b Fallout 76 (2018) Windows credits. MobyGames.
  34. ^ Kurt Kuhlmann - Board Game Designer. Board Game Geek.
  35. ^ Warhorse Simulations.
  36. ^ C0DA - Star Wars: Rebellion.
  37. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (21 February 2014). "Star Wars: Rebellion, written by Kurt Kuhlmann and Michael Kirkbride". Tumblr. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015.
  38. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (21 February 2014.) 'TITUS MEDE - ADMIRAL OF THE REBEL ALLIANCE'. Reddit.
  39. ^ The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Playstation 2 credits. MobyGames.
  40. ^ Credits - The Elder Scrolls Online.
  41. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (22 December 2014). Comment on "Adamantium Tower is a Space-Ship?". Reddit.
  42. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (7 April 2020). Comment on "The Elder Scrolls 25th Anniversary Picture Is A Picture Of All The Different Towers That Hold Mundus Together.". Reddit.
  43. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (14 May 2020). Comment on "Vivec has a modified Indian name?". Reddit.
  44. ^ a b c d e f Who Did What?, The Imperial Library
  45. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (2 July 2020). Comment on "How Much Stuff in the Lore is Lorkhan?". Reddit.
  46. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (24 May 2019). Comment on "Eurogamer's 36 Lessons of Vivec article - May 23rd, 2019". Reddit.
  47. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (1 July 2020). Comment on "How Much Stuff in the Lore is Lorkhan?". Reddit.
  48. ^ Kirkbride, M. [/u/MKirkbride]. (2 July 2020). Comment on "How Much Stuff in the Lore is Lorkhan?". Reddit.