General:Michael Kirkbride's Posts

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Michael Kirkbride's Posts

These are a few notable comments from Michael Kirkbride on The Elder Scrolls setting. These comments were originally archived by The Imperial Library.


What are Nix-Hounds?

They are arthropods. In fact, they were created by Vivec to hunt Dreughs during a time-lost campaign against the Altmer of the sea.

Background on Guars and Tiber Septim's love of tigers

Lizards. Another little known fact is that the Imperials often refer to Guars as 'Tigers'. Here's why: during a tour of Morrowind in the earliest days of the Armistace, Tiber Septim became enamored of the beasts. On the mainland, and specifically the Deshaan Plains, Guars are striped. This, coupled with the fact that His Holiness was never able to pronounce 'Guar' correctly (his troubles with the provincial Chimeric tongue is legendary), led to Septim finally callings them 'Tigers', from a fabled recollection of a storybook beast he loved as a youth. The new name stuck. Even now, Dres slavers often refer to their cattle-Guar as Tigers.

On the different stages of Kwama

The Warrior is the combined version of Forager and Worker. The former jumps through the hole in the latter's mouth and its head pops out the other end; then the whole symbiote stands up. Voila: Warrior form.

Vehkship: in character fragment:

Belief-engines, properly called the “Auxiliary Semi-Shockpoint Nilgularity”, provide energy for short dream-sleeve jumps in case a Vehkship’s main ego is damaged, allowing the C0DA Paravant to potentially get to the safety of a voidyard orbital.

By creating the equivalent of an Nu-class Mnemolic, shrinking it instantaneously via a creatia tesseract array, and then projecting the resulting moth-talk well to a nil-point just outside the ego’s hull, an ASSN can slingshot the Paravant into era-streams without the needed energies of nearby aetheric bodies or shockpoint application.

The ASSN is strictly Last Ditch technology, however. It’s often deemed as too dangerous for its own good, because it works on the rarified principles of Phynaster’s Inversion, a set of mathematics that doesn’t exist in our own dimension. Vehkships have vanished in nil-space trying to make an ASSN jump—indeed, the celestial irregularity known as the M4bV Legerity, in which the C0DA Oblivion Vanquisher appears and implodes in perpetuity, is the belief system’s most famous cautionary tale.

What appears to be an Altmeri commentary on Talos:

To kill Man is to reach Heaven, from where we came before the Doom Drum's iniquity. When we accomplish this, we can escape the mockery and long shame of the Material Prison.

To achieve this goal, we must:

1) Erase the Upstart Talos from the mythic. His presence fortifies the Wheel of the Convention, and binds our souls to this plane.

2) Remove Man not just from the world, but from the Pattern of Possibility, so that the very idea of them can be forgotten and thereby never again repeated.

3) With Talos and the Sons of Talos removed, the Dragon will become ours to unbind. The world of mortals will be over. The Dragon will uncoil his hold on the stagnancy of linear time and move as Free Serpent again, moving through the Aether without measure or burden, spilling time along the innumerable roads we once travelled. And with that we will regain the mantle of the imperishable spirit.

Numidium's siege of Alinor:

It's not the Brass God that wrecks everything so much as it is all the plane(t)s and timelines that orbit it, singing world-refusals.

The Surrender of Alinor happened in one hour, but Numidium's siege lasted from the Mythic Era until long into the Fifth. Some Mirror Logicians of the Altmer fight it still in chrysalis shells that phase in and out of Tamrielic Prime, and their brethren know nothing of their purpose unless they stare too long and break their own possipoints.

Monotheism in Tamriel:

The Skaal are animistic, not monotheistic. Huge difference there.

As for the lists of cultural pantheons, they are not exhaustive - Dagon, it seems, plays a larger role in Nordic myths than the author (me) of Varieties of Faith was aware of.

The Alessian Order was the most successful attempt at monotheism in Tamrielic history-- and even they knew better than refute other religions in their entirety, only co-opt and lessen them.

The Dwemer are special in their views. If one could misinterpret the name of their religion (they were said to be 'pious'), one might name it negalithic refusatronic world-navel-gazinism.

Historically, the magical nature Nirn frowns on monotheism. With a hammer this big. That kind of Maruhkati-talk gets you erased.

Mythic relationships:

As far as the Anuad:

Nirn (Female/Land/Freedom catalyst for birth-death of enantiomorph)/ Anu-Padomay (enantiomorph with requisite betrayal)/ ?* (Witnessing Shield-thane who goes blind or is maimed and thus solidifies the wave-form; blind/maimed = = final decision)

*Seek and you shall find. I hid it.


King Hrol (seeker/Healer of Kingdom), "from the lands beyond lost Twil". Twil as Twilight. Grey Maybe. Aurbis. His knights numbered "eighteen less one," the number of the Hurling Disk.


On the plausibility of Mankar Camoran's claims:

Also in all fairness, there's enough evidence to support the Mankar's claims that I was happy that it went in. The idea really flips the idea of Tamriel on its head.

Imagine the Oblivion realm of Attribution's Share, for example, with eight powerful daedra (one of which is Boethiah) wielding divine power over their realm, and all their subjects bound to the whims of that power; now imagine it under an ur-theology and creation myth(s) as complicated as anything on Tamriel, where the myriad mortals of Nirn were, to the denizens of the Eight Divines of Attribution's Share, in fact, "daedra".

This realm would be surrounded by the Void, just like Tamriel, in turn surrounded by Aetherius, and who's to say that the big hole known as the Sun doesn't hit their shores, as well?

Lorkhan the Padomaic could be exactly what the Mankar says he is: the dead Lord of a lost daedric realm whose "gods" are powerful Liars.

On the different time-dragons:

Don't forget that gods can be shaped by the mythopoeic forces of the mantlers-- so Tosh Raka could be an Akaviri avatar of Akatosh with a grudge against his mirror-brother in Cyrodiil.

Just like Akatosh-as-we-usually-know-him could time-scheme against his mirror-brother of the Nords, Alduin, to keep the present kalpa-- perhaps his favorite-- from being eaten.

Notice all the coulds.

On Nerevar's face being the Indoril helm:

The Indoril masks were official, and they each depicted his true visage. There was also a special Daedric helmet version in the Morrowind Art Book, but its look depicted his more terrible aspect as Hortator and Padomaic champion.

I may say lots of things, but Lord Indoril Nerevar the Hortator was my beloved from the get go during my tenure as MW's Art Director.

Edit: to Lorus, that's his bonewalker version, lost to the annals of most Tribune histories. Nerevar, while betrayed or not, was still dear to ALMSIVI after death.

On the "most powerful" being:


The HoonDing.









That's my list, and pretty much in that order. Though Vivec did kill Tiber Septim once...but I mentioned Talos, not the Emperor.

Another Altmeri in-character snippet:

"Or the number could be more Lorkhanic nonsense; that is, convenient for Man.

"The Ysmir line is dead and so is His stranglehold on the mythic.

"A single Wheel? More like a Telescope that stretches all the way back to the Eye of the Anui-El, with Padomaics innumerable along its infinite walls.

"We're coming for you in every one of your quarters, Sons of Talos. None shall survive."

"The Prophet of Landfall," a birthday gift for Kurt Kuhlmann: (09/11/??)

He has come down from the mountains, the chitin of his belly segments freshly painted in Faith. The suns shine overhead, each uttering his name in their way. The barrens before him distort in the blur of their heat as he climbs the last hill, but his vision is clear. It always has been. His fifth and second arms encircle his staff as his mandibles click out a small prayer. Beyond the barrens lay the Crescent of the Eighty and One Thrones, and all the villages that hang from it like a jeweled belt. They do not know it yet, those millions that work, rule, and commit their countless sins out there in the cradle of all written history, but he will save them. In ones and twos, then in droves, and then their own priests and their own kings will throw down their false idols and take up the New Faith. He would permit himself some pride if that emotion occurred to him; instead, he tests his locust wings on the wind, permitting himself to glide into the first steps of Salvation.

Description of an Altmer ship:

Made of crystal and solidified sunlight, with wings though they do not fly, and prows that elongate into swirling Sun-Birds, and gem-encrusted mini-trebuchets fit for sailing which fire pure aetheric fire, and banners, banners, banners, listing their ancestors all the way back to the Dawn.

This is Old Mary at Water.

On the Keptu's appearance:

Men with tan brown skin.

On the Mnemoli:

Mnemolic magic is related to the "Star Orphans", gods and heroes and demons that live between creations, which can include those reality-bending burps known as Dragon Breaks. Think of them as the all-stars between kalpas, if that helps. (That probably doesn't help at all, really.)

What's up with the Blue Star itself? That's a good little hidden bit that I don't want to ruin. Someone go find it.

On Vivec and Morrowind:

I can safely say that Vivec is the most realized character in videogame fiction. Period.

If a hermaphroditic, bug-armored, bipolar god-king existing in multiple universes who has his very own bible with *actual* magic strewn throughout it is your idea of a cliche, then I really would like to live in your world. It sounds fun and new.

But, wait, then I'd have to inexplicably make snarky and insulting comments in a forum where creators often tread. And that would quickly make me boorish and prone to cliched Angry Youngster Angst. That's the interwebs for you and good luck with it.

I can also say that Morrowind is the finest novel written in videogame fiction. A 40 hour narrative whose main character is only ever referenced is almost Nabokovian in aspiration, and prophecies whose truth is determined only by the player is akin to Borges if he only had been born with a USB port in the back of his beloved neck.

There is a fine line between celebrated tradition tuned to masterstrokes by its crafters and cliche'd demons underneath volcanos. Morrowind is the former, Selbeth, and nowhere near the latter. Except, again, when wrapped 'round electric peanuts tossed from the back row with bright'n'shiny underscores for effect.

On Ruma Camoran:

Ruma gave birth to herself, and her father was the father. She also gave birth to her brother, but he is not her son.

From Totemic Traditions in Atmoran Culture:

....the accounts of the origins of Men differ from culture to culture. Note how the somewhat dubious scholarship of the 3rd Edition Pocket Guide to the Empire asserted that Nedics were the progenitors to the Nords, having come to Tamriel from the cold and bitter wastes of the Atmoran continent sometime during the Merethic (Mythic) Era, flying in the face of previous studies. The most famous of these, of course, is Gwylim Press’ own “Frontier, Conquest, and Accomodation,” which portrays the Nedics as a Mannish race indigenous to Tamriel, extant and flourishing long before the arrival of Ysgramor’s ancestors. In any case, the truth of prehistoric Man is most likely lost in the god-time impossibilities of the Dawn, where no absolute answers will ever come on any subject at all.

Part of the fabled Numinatus!

[First shape] was untranslatable, which was good to us, but difficult (which was also good to us). Best descriptions came from the edges, kaleidocules dancing myriadetada to the song of Nil. They spoke of [first shape] in side-language, mad by having to speak at all, for word is meat...[text lost]... and [they] told us that if we did not hurry and make up neganyms for our whole language then they would remove the Remover, for that is what we wanted to call [first shape]. So we did that. We went to the [Giants] and brought them painted cows, for they love them and it is tradition, and what better way to destroy that concept than by issuing its [death] with one? From the [Giants] we learned wind, and in wind we learned vacuum, and in vacuum we found the Not Talk of Ooghama, shield-wife of the Debris, [who had] written everything on her that will ever be and we took all the spaces between the words and talked that way in secret. It was difficult to do that.

ONTOLOGICA CHIMERA (a homage to Jorge Luis Borges' Argumentum Ornithologicum. In essence, it is simply Borges' text rewritten with Morrowind terms.)

“I stood on the Deshaan, leaning on my balance pole, my stilts covered in the muck that runs in love to Necrom, and stared at the sky. There I saw a number of cliff-racers soar by in haphazard fashion, and yet I failed to be able to count them. Perhaps I was mudcrab-tired. Then, for some reason, I was reminded of the apocryphal teachings I learned at Temple about the Tower. Well, that’s not true, I knew the reason this memory returned to me there in my leaning, but I was afraid to realize it into words until now.

“If the ultimate tower were to really exist, then that means that the exact number of cliff-racers that flew by has been recorded by the stars that support it. If it did not exist, then their number will forever be forgotten, as I forgot it; rather, as I ignored the bother to count. Now let us say that I saw a number of cliff-racers that was more than three but less than ten. Since I do not recall how many there were, I did not see four or five or six or seven or eight or nine cliff-racers. Instead, I saw not-four, not-five, not-six, not-seven, not-eight, and not-nine cliff-racers. Since not-five can never be a true integer, what I saw was impossible. And since I know what I saw was possible—what is more common in Veloth than a flock of cliff-racers?—I knew my answer: not-five exists, therefore so does CHIM.”


On Ebonarm (04/10/99)

Gamespeak: Ebonarm, as I recall, is a Yokudan deity, or group of deities that share the same designation. Legends say that he is (they are) just another manifestation of the HoonDing, the Make Way God. Many post-apocalypse manifestations of the HoonDing have individualized (like Diagna), and Ebonarm may be one (or many) of these. He is (they are) known to be adversaries of the Daedric powers.

Designerspeak: I am aware of the tremendous amount of fan fiction devoted to Ebonarm (Dreadlord and such). I don't know what to say about these right now...

The distinction between Gods and Daedra in Tamrielic cultures (04/10/99)

Most Human (Imperial) cultures regard the Daedra as separate from the Gods of the Eight Divines, true. Elven cultures, however, do not distinguish between "Gods" and "Very Strong Ancestors". Thus, "Daedra", in this sense, which means more-or-less "Not OUR Ancestors", are of the same level of power.

In anticipation of another argument, let me say that Oblivion is not regarded by any culture as necessarily an "evil" place; neither is Aetherius a "good" one.

On the First Era, and the Empire of Skyrim (04/12/99)

Remember that the ‘first era’ is a Human demarcation of time. The Elder Races have their own divisions (and diversions) of history. Furthermore, the human eras do not conveniently begin and end with a single empire each time. The Second Empire of Reman had its genesis in the first era, too, some 2000 years after the War of Succession, and it was far more significant than the tyranny of the early Nords.

The “First Empire of Skyrim” is somewhat of a fabrication. The heirs of King Harald, while they had many holdings in foreign lands, never regarded themselves as anything more than a strong and steady line of successful war-chieftains. During the foundation of the Septim regime, certain parties thought it necessary to retrofit Skyrim’s early history into something that might legitimize Talos’ ascension to a traditionally Nedic throne (the general’s Atmoran lineage was well known). The infamous “Coronation Edition of the Pocket Guide to the Empire” is the best example of this revisionism gone mad.

If the first era must “belong” to any one nation of Tamriel, then it is, of course, Cyrodiil. The Empire of Reman lasted for approx. 600 years (long into the next era); after its passing the world suffered through dark times. Before Reman, the world had been held in thrall by the Order, which, while technically not overseen by the (then) current Cyrodilic Emperor, was tied into the first Nibenese Empress, St. Alessia (the Manifold Manifest).

Who conquers Tamriel in the Second Era? (04/12/99)

The second era begins with the assassination of the last of Reman’s heirs. Cyrodiil (and Tamriel) is thereafter under the rule of the Akaviri Potentate, until the assassination of Savirien-Chorak. Chorak’s successors never make it to the throne. The assassins, in every case, are the Morag Tong.

I think you have eras confused with Empires, but that’s understandable. The Second Empire technically ‘begins’ with the coronation of Reman. The second era, however, technically ‘ends’ with the death of Reman III, 212 years later. Tiber Septim conquers Tamriel at the end of the second era, and begins the Third Empire (and the third era).

What is the Knahaten Flu? (04/12/99)

2E560—The Knahaten Flu, called the Crimson Plague, spreads through SE Tamriel, destroying several native tribes in Black Marsh. The reptilian Argonians alone among the tribes of Black Marsh are immune to the plague, leading to speculation, not entirely discredited by modern researchers, that a genocidal Argonian mage created the plague for his people.

What is the Wild Hunt? (04/12/99)

The Wild Hunt is a manifestation of the Elder powers, practiced only by the Bosmer. After the proper sacrifices and rituals, a mass of Bosmer may transform themselves into “a pack of shifting forest demons and animal-gods, thousands strong....”

Who are the Akaviri? (04/12/99)

Akaviri are people of the continent, Akavir, which is to the east of Tamriel. They and their dragon-kin have tried to invade Tamriel many times in the past.

On the Nedes (04/12/99)

The Nedic peoples are hardly mentioned in the PGE, which tried to hide the existence of Humans in Tamriel before the coming of the Nords. I could hardly offer a better contradiction to this notion than that of my friend-in-exile, Severus Reva:

[Text of Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation follows]


"The Aedra aren't supposed to be able to change, but perhaps there is a loophole" (10/03/03)

Good, good.

And here you get delightfully close, in regards to your study, at least. Nought prececes [sic] authenticity... so, if this is true:

Which of the Aedra have done this?

What was the change?

What was the agent of change?

What mythical significance happened thereafter?

What destruction (and therefore creation) came of it?

I did and do mean Aedra, and therefore extract my question back into the timeframe we should have in mind. That is, after the first dawn and world's cooling.

I give you this as Vivec.


Lorkhan and his avatars, from a thread on the Six Walking Ways (02/14/04)

1. Wulfharth L
2. Hjalti O
3. Ysmir R
4. Talos K
5. Arctus H
6. Septim A

On the Redguards:

No, I was actually referring to The Black Panthers and their radicalism.

As some people know I'm not really a fan of the United Colors of Beneton approach to Tamrielicreation, which smacks of white guilt and offensery rather than some holistic form of beautiful inclusion. Thus, it's my fault that the Asian analogues got eaten. Oops. Looks like others are bringing 'em back, though. But I promise my choice had nothing to do with Yellow Peril, it had to do with co-opting "coolness of color" without thinking about it intelligently and compassionately. (Kirkbride regrets saying this and remarks it should not exist at all, see below)

(Hunkers down for the flame.)

That said, when I started writing Redguard I really thought about how unique the black people of Tamriel were: they came in and kicked ass and slaughtered the indigenes while doing so. They invaded. It was the first time I had encountered the idea of "black imperialism"...and it struck me big time, as something 1) new, 2) potentially dangerous if taken as commentary, and 3) potentially rad if taken as commentary.

Who knows. AVault did say it had a story worthy of being on stage, and Michael Mack (Cyrus) once thanked me for giving him words that "Black folks don't get to say" (referring to Cyrus' speech and the reversal of Son to the Father)... which broke my heart and made me puff my chest all at the same time.

Which is a long way of saying: panther-love.


Are "Akatosh" and "Tosh Raka" etymologically related? (05/24/05)

Let us be clear that etymology in the TES lore is a risky venture. More than risky, it's asking for trouble when one considers Our Father Who Art in Oxford.

That said, there *is* an attempt at wordplay, consistency, and clues in the lore, so my brother above is right when he says Tosh-Raka is "Dragon Dragon." (So is Akatosh, for that matter.) But he is also missing the subtlety in the title; in Tamriel, "dragon" and "time" are synonymous, they are bones of the same body-concept. That they are combined in seeming redundance should suggest an intention.

On the "marriage" between Vivec and Molag Bal (06/14/05)

Two immortals had huge amounts of divine sex and so did all the onlookers-- priests and monsters and advocates and proletariats [sic]-- around them.

And the ground broke and gave birth to monsters.

Vivec's gift of "my head for an hour" wasn't an innuendo. It was literal: Vivec's damn head took off and flew away; it had stuff to do, yo. His body, however, full of divine grace, was more than able to accomodate [sic] the hellish appetites of a dark prince of the deep.

What does the name Buoyant Armiger mean? (07/29/05)

In this context, it means 'gay samurai'. No kidding.

Extraterrestrials in Elder Scrolls. (08/07/05)

Read the Direnni Tower section in the PGE very carefully. There's been a rocketship in High Rock since we wrote the PGE.


Musings on Redguard porcelain armor (circa January 2006)

Porcelain armor has exactly the exoticness that seems appropriate to the stone-worshipping people of the Hammerfell. Like glass armor, its name confounds expectations, which inherently pushes it into the fantastic (and look how glass armor is accepted nowadays). *Of course* raga porcelain is enchanted and blessed by the Gods through the hands of its craftsman, and thus a viable (and beneficial because of its lightness) form of protection. "And they mixed its powder with the milk of Morwha, the mother of all sands, and it stood firm, and sounded of small music as its porcelain scales shook with the wearer, and so did they sing along their ranks as they did in Old Yokuda among the saints." I would see these same scales painted each by hand as if in a mosaic, with ocean patterns that moved like the waves of the Eltheric, confusing the enemies of the sons and daughters of the orichalc isles. Warrior wave, indeed.

On writing Mankar Camoran's final speech (06/17/06)

Apropos of nothing, I wasn't paid for Mankor's diatribe. It was in an email I sent to the friendly folks at Bethsoft when I got the "Commentaries" gig. That whole speech came from a section of said email where I attempted to get inside MC's head so I could understand how he might think, and how that thought would translate to his writing.

Turns out, MC writes like me. Ah, well.

Then Todd up and had Terrance Stamp record it at the voiceover sessions. I was pretty surprised-- I wish I'd known or I would've *really* went nuts with it-- but who could ever be mad at something like that? Terrance Freakin Stamp.

Canon or not, my two cents is that MC is completely right, and Tamriel is just another, albeit very special, realm of Oblivion. But don't quote me...I didn't write this in-character.

What the Orichalc Tower in Yokuda, and did it help sink the continent? (06/24/06)

Orichalc Tower was indeed in Yokuda. Whether or not it contributed to the sinking of the land isn't for me to say, but the Yoku and the Left-Handed Elves certainly did fight a lot, so you can be sure the Tower had a part to play in their wargames.

Orichalc the name comes from Plato's description of Atlantis, the Most Famousest of Sinking Continents. It was therefore too fun not to add some orichalc into Yokuda's background.

Plus it's just a neat-looking, neat-sounding word.

On the de-jungling of Cyrodiil (06/24/06)

Being the lovely and gracious sort that I am, I retconned my own Cyrodiil in my own MC's Commentaries-- "Witness the Red King Once Jungled." Therein lies my take on the lamentable change in geograhical featuredom, as I always side on the magical Tamriel-as-malleable-landscape-by-the-will-of-heroes rather than real-world notions of glacial drift and unstable rainforests.

Oblivion = hell? (06/29/06)

Oblivion has been synoymous [sic] with Hell in the TES 'verse for nearly ten years now (see Redguard). Same with daedra/demons (see nearly any myth about daedra or evil gods-- more than likely, it'll be referred to as a 'demon').

They are not the same, but they are useful for context, and denizens of Tamriel freely use all of the terms all of the time. When, like, talking about hell or demons, which they usually don't do at night when Oblivion is staring right over their heads.

It has nothing to do with dumbing down anything. In fact, it has more to do with widening the scope of what those concepts and beings are to the people that live outside their realms.

Story behind Alandro-Sul (09/19/06)

Hey now, I even gave him a fair shake at the Trial, so you know I'm down.

There were nice plans for Sul that never made it in the game, like the "Thousand Ringlets of Alandro Sul," where his mind was blasted into his chainmail headpiece by either A) madness or B) Tribunal-Gun. Then the ashlanders got hold of it and Sul could possess their minds when they wore it, making them see what he did, or thought he did. And then, of course, this thing got scattered and spread among the tribes, so that eventually ashlander tribesmer would all be wearing earrings made out of the chainmail ringlets, each one hearing the profane whisper of Truth.

That's where the name Sul-Matuul came from. Hardest of the hardcore.


On the nature of Pelinal (09/23/07):

Re: Pelinal, his closest mythical model would be Gilgamesh, with a dash of a T-800 thrown in, and a full-serving of brain-fracture slaughterhouse antinomial (Kill)3 functions stuck in his hand or head. We tend to forgive those heroes.

And thousands of years of Good Coming From Bad, and/or whitewash, ignorance, shame, his Song being read by the Knights merely as fancy rather than right record, etc, might explain the Order's reluctance to villify or apologize for him. Plus, no one wants to gets smothered in their sleep by moths.

That said, I sure would like to read the story of Alkosh whooping Pelinal's ass back to Cyrod when the Whitestrake's pogroms strayed too far into the Dragon-Cat's land.

How you do pronounce CHIM and why do no Dunmeri names begin with C? Followup: But Kim is a girl's name (10/27/07)


Dunmeri names? Never noticed. CHIM is from the Ehlnofex, though.

They're all girls' names. Shor, CHIM, Aless, Perrif, Orlyan, Shonni-Et. Wait. Who?

On the sexual dimorphism between male and female bosmer (12/20/07)

Because Bosmer represent the idea that Women Are Always Beautiful and Men Are Always Short Ugly Trollish Creatures.


On Pelinal, again (04/01/08)

Pelinal was and is an insane collective swarmfoam war-fractal from the future, you betcha.

Why are the small female Betty Netches more powerful than the larger, male Bull netches? What's the origin of their name? (04/02/08)

Think lionesses. And, yeah, they were named after "Skate Betties" -- girls who would hang out near the half-pipes.

On the above, "But lions aren't weaker than lionesses; they're just much lazier." (04/02/08)

“Sure. And bull netch are really, really lazy.”

On Ken Rolston writing Vivec in game (06/03/08)

Ken was responsible for the MQ in MW, so that's part of it. The larger part is that Vivec's voice is Legion, and it was only fitting that he had more than one author.

Editing the 36 Lessons of Vivec (06/03/08)

Kurt edited the Sermons extensively, as did Douglas Goodall. Quadratic.

Out of Atmora (07/10/08)

And for the last time (uh huh), Nedes != Atmorans. That's just shoddy scholarship from a bygone regime.

On the Oblivion rumors of Argonians being called back to Black Marsh (09/07/08)

It refers to the Hist's response to the Crisis, and is one of Kurt's coolest ideas of the last year or so.

I added the "Giant Feathered Flu Tyrants" bit, which, like of course... but you'll see. Daedra -2, Argonians +278. Fuck off, Dagon, don't ever mess with the Trees.

The age of Nirn (10/01/08)

Nirn as we know it is only about 6000 years old, give or take. It's made of myth, not continental drift and the march of penguins.

That said, the God Time (whose very name is contradictory) before it cannot accurately be measured by mortal perception.

On hyperbole in lore (10/22/08):

"It's difficult to accuse someone of being wrong for asking the theoretical question "Is it possible, as is the case throughout this game, that some of the writings we find are exaggerated"?"

I prefer, "It is very possible, as is the case throughout this magical world, that some of the exaggerated claims made about some subjects pale in comparison to the Monkey Truth. ZOMGWTFGIANTFEATHEREDFLUTYRANTS."


What is the Dreamsleeve (08/20/09)

Ken made up the word. I then took it and went all Al Gore and turned it into the internet.

Though, really, if you read through the Intercept stuff, I really predicted Mind Twitter.

On "Tam! RUGH!" (09/09/09):

It's the True name of the world.

Imagine an ape (Marukh) struggling to say "Tamriel" and you get "Tam! RUGH!"

On the Dunmer going to Solstheim after the destruction of Morrowind (12/06/09)

The largesse of the Nords towards their ancient enemies is one of my favorite ideas coming out of Red Year.

Are all the guar dead after the Red Year? (12/25/09)

Hell naw, they're just too damn pretty to die.


The Dwemer's religion (01/13/10)

Reducing the Dwemeri belief system to technofetish or atheism is missing the point by a kalpa.

Hell, even calling them nihilists would be wrong.

That said, reducing them to endless wrongs is perfectly right, but they would have no doubt called that assertion wrong, too.

Clarifying the nature of CHIM (01/15/10)

2) M'Aiq, don't forget the hypnogogic part spun along the nature of Tamriel with an admixture of the love of parenthood that would follow. Not the "power"-- the cherishing.

3) To the close dreamers, don't forget the Amaranth. There *is* one step beyond CHIM, but you're right in that it is not godhood. It's the flowering of a statehood where the images you give birth to in your dream-- stolen (?) from first dreamer-- wakes up. Wails knowing free will. And begins to dream in the same way. Children of liberty without end, and then the music lives forever as a pirate radio tuned against the rules of Heaven and the vulgarities of Hell.

Yeah, like that, but, crap, it just shattered and now I need my morning coffee because I have to work.

Still, no wonder some called Him the Doom Drum.

Is there something beyond CHIM? (01/16/10)

There is one step beyond CHIM, but you're right in that it is not godhood. It's the flowering of a statehood where the images you give birth to in your dream-- stolen (?) from first dreamer-- wakes up. Wails knowing free will. And begins to dream in the same way. Children of liberty without end, and then the music lives forever as a pirate radio tuned against the rules of Heaven and the vulgarities of Hell.

The Sunbirds of Alinor (02/14/10)

They're not ships, they're actual birds.

Well, okay, really big birds made out of the sun.

On Cyrus (06/27/10)

The weirdest thing-- and this is no joke-- I inexplicably pulled out the PGE Thursday night to read it. FOR NO REASON. I got all nostalgic and went, Hmm, the reason Cyrus is so fun is that he actually inhabits this world as the common man with an uncommon profession, i.e. adventuring. He doesn't question the world's weirdness, as that notion would never occur to him. It's just his world and he works with it. And not in the Doctor Who fashion, where of course he works with it, no matter how crazy, because Doctor Who is a Chaotic Fun crazy junkie who actively seeks out such situations (and God bless him for it). Cyrus "just" lives in Tamriel and, while he can get confused, baffled, angry at, or one-upped by its magical nature, he's not adventuring to test those boundaries or, hell, even find them. Where's the money in that?

Yes, Cyrus' level-headedness is a useful cypher, but I was there when he was created, and his character wasn't consciously infused with that literary device in mind. (At least not towards the magical hijinx; he was definitely used that way for the political stuff.) So then I went, Hmm, all future stories told about Cyrus need to be careful not to use him solely for that utility, or risk him becoming a gimmick.

So, of course, the next thought was: "Screw that, what if Cyrus just fought everyone in Tamrielic history?" which completely ran contrary to all my analysis. Cuz it just works like that.

The Direnni Tower (07/11/10)

Start here:

"A recent archaelogical [sic] study [of Direnni Tower], using the latest techniques of divination and sorcery, has pushed the Tower's construction date back to around ME2500, making it by far the oldest known structure in Tamriel. Although it has been much modified and added on to over the years, its core is a smooth cylinder of shining metal; the Tower is believed to extend at least as far beneath the surface as is now visible above, although its deepest bowels have never been systematically explored."

Sounds like a scroll case. A big one, mind you, but maybe that's because a spaceship, too.

How does the Ministry of Truth maintain its velocity all this time? (08/20/10)

Everyone here does know that the Ministry of Truth was Lord Vivec's biggest turd ever, right? Hard to place real-world physics on that. And just plain wrong to even try.


Writing the Elder Scrolls (08/27/10)

You misinterpret the meaning of what Elder Scrolls are in the colloquial Tamrielic. When taken in this context, to "write an Elder Scroll" is "to make history".

A deeper meaning is meant, too, but not very many laymen bother with that. Until a prophecy is fulfilled, the true contents of an Elder Scoll are malleable, hazy, uncertain. Only by the Hero's action does it become True. The Hero is literally the scribe of the next Elder Scroll, the one in which the prophecy has been fulfilled into a fixed point, negating its precursor.

Also, Martin mantled Akatosh and dragon-[censored] Dagon silly, so his outlook on time in quite unlike our own. In fact, he said those words during the dragon-[censored] fight and you only remembered them later, a comforting memory that the Jills mended back into your timeline.


How does one eat the world? (01/18/11)

When you consider a place like Tamriel, sometimes it's best to take titles literally. Alduin is the World-Eater. It's not going to be "the end of all *life* as we know it," leaving a barren wasteland of Earthbone dirt... it's going to be the whole of Nirn inside his mighty gullet.

"None shall survive" has been a calling card for awhile, but that was only a hint to the more extensive "Nothing will survive."

Unless, of course, there's a loophole. Say, something like the someone called the Dovakhiin happening to show up..."born under uncertain stars to uncertain parents." (An aside for extra credit: what in the Aurbis makes the Prisoner such a powerful mythic figure?)

The Eight Limbs (and their Missing Ninth) have always, always made sure there was a loophole. Sometimes to their detriment, sure, but more often a hedged bet to ensure the survival of the current kalpa.

Then again:

Alduin's shadow was cast like carpetflame on east, west, south, and north...[he was] epoch eater. For as far as any man's eyes, only High Hrothgar remained above the churning coils of dragon stop.

And Alduin said, "Ho ha ho."

It's obviously happened before, so sabers sharp, and may your varliance shine bright.

On CHIM making Tamriel boring because it makes it "all a dream" (01/18/11)

Just wanna say because I never think I did, the whole "it was all just a dream" avenue is completely missing the point. Consider your lucid dreams, if you've been lucky enough to have ever had one. Then think again before you dismiss the the idea of Divine Hypnagogia. If you get it (or care to) then mull it over until it punches the back of your eyeballs.

No wonder it's hard to retain CHIM. Such... violence.

Landfall and the Infernal City (01/25/11)

The Landfall != the associated events of The Infernal City.

Totally different thing. When Landfall happens, you guys will do a spit-take like Bail Organa did when the Death Star showed up above Alderaan.

On the disappearance of the Dwemer (02/01/11)

The Dwarven Disappearance, for all I know and hope, will never be explained fully. To do so would be antithetical to their very existence. And the very idea of them.

If it did, by the way, the Dwemer would just refuse to believe it anyhow. They sit forever on the Bartleby Chair.

How Tiber mantled Lorkhan (02/09/11)

Think of the mystical power of Reenactment.

What did Lorkhan do to solidify the plans for the Mundus? Oh, I dunno, he tricked, promised, betrayed, and made concessions to the various "rulers" of the etada, right? Sounds like the summary, only a few existence lenses down.

And, just like the varying accounts of how that Convention and its consequences have become murky with Time and myth, so too is Tiber's ascension to the first true Emperor of all of Tamriel. Accident? No way.

As above, so below, and that's how you do it. Especially when there's a hole just ready to fill.

"Is there only one way to transcend the Aurbis?" (02/12/11)

To transcend it? No, there are other ways to surpass it.

But to make a better existence? No existence becomes better without love.

Amaranth (02/16/11)

We haven't seen a fleshed-out alternative to CHIM to support something more preferable, but I promised a long while back to provide one. We'll see.

I will say that, CHIM or not, there is no evidence that either Talos nor Vehk achieved Amaranth. If they did, Tamriel would be in their rearview mirror. The Amaranth deserves its own topic, really. Its core concept is the most divisive among the mystics, in my opinion.

A Yoku god (04/28/11)

N'awyadin-It - Yokudan God of Expression Alarm. Revered in word frequently among the funnier-masked castes.

Is Tall Papa Magnus? - nope (04/28/11)

Tall Papa as Magnus?

Syrsly [sic]?

Think raga. Then think of the various ways the Sun would affect the Weather/Eyeball/BodyClock/Agriculture/TheShineOfASingleDewdropBeforeAnImportantDuel.

Just how many gods would you have to govern acknowledge those?

Tall Papa ≠ Magnus.


The origin of Minotaurs (02/26/12)

Minotaurs are the issue of Alessia and Mor Breath-of-Kyne.

What were the Void Nights? (03/02/12)

Eugenics experiment. With a side dish of "don't [censored] with us."

On Ysgramor (03/08/12)

Ysgramor was a Dragon.


Who is the figure on the floor in the Foul Murder drawing? (05/01/2012)

It's Dagoth Ur, forced into the dirt by the mass-altering abilities of the Tools.


On the concept art of the Tribunal:

Vivec is at the side facing away from the viewer for a reason. Almalexia is front and center because she is the motherfucking boss. Also note the cosmic baby growing inside Sotha Sil. While Sotha Sil is dead as we saw in the add-on pack “Tribunal”, the child survived.

Can you confirm or deny that Pelinal Whitestrake is a robot from the future sent back terminator style to mantle Shor?

I can confirm that he was a robot sent by Kyne. That he comes from the future may or may not been her intention.

I’m not going to talk about Pelinal and Shor and if one may have mantled the other. Yeah, you read that right.

Is it true that not every Saxhleel are Argonians but many Argonians are Saxhleel? Can members from other races be also Argonians by The Hist's will (an Argonian Bosmer, an Argonian Orc...)?

Yes to both questions.

Can races besides Nords learn the Thu'um?

Yes. This should be clear from TESV: Skyrim.

Also, contrary to popular belief, the Thu’um may have been granted to the Nords by Kyne, but it did not originate with her. Rather, the Thu’um is a special subset of a greater power, and one of the weaker ones at that.

What are your thoughts on the reach, strength and influence of the West Navy during the early days of the Septim dynasty? Also stylistic natures of ranks, uniforms and ships?

Some of this will be the upcoming Cyrus web event, so I’ll stay mum on it for now. I will say that what you really want to reference is The Mariner’s Guide to the Empire, 7th Edition*.

  • The Empire of Pyand, not Tamriel. Everyone knows that the God of the Sea, the Tyrant Orgnam, rules the Mundus by way of his Tower Flotillas, not the keepers of WGT-1.

How exactly is Lorkhan pronounced? Like the name Lorcan, or more like Lore-Khan?

The latter. lor-CON.

How/when will the Ayleids return?

They’re not gone.

Were ash ghouls and ascended sleepers based on tepirs?


Would it be plausible to assume "Left handed elves" were literally just left handed?

It’s plausible given the name, but it’s not literal. The LFE are something different.

The Pocket Guide and in-game/in-book measurements paint a picture of a much smaller Tamriel. (11/08/13)

The reasoning: because Tamriel really exists.

Previously painted pictures: because those are just that-- painted pictures.


An excerpt from Captain Tobias’ Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless relating to the Redguard dislike of magic (02/12/14)

“As a general rule it is wise to always bring a wizard to sea if you plan to prey on it. My last wizard was a Breton Spellsword who I gangplanked for being a being a pederast, a not uncommon train found in the westernmost magicians. I then found Gar, a student of the Malhamic arts, and graduate of the Forums of the Phynastery. He has proven to be an invaluable part of the Carrick. He not only planned the heist of the Masser-Secunda Slave Trade, but summoned a Pelinal to cover our escape.”


Did you just write this now or is it a bit from the upcoming Sword Meeting with Tobias? (02/12/14)

Write it right now?

"Where's the money in that?"

C0DA is free, CvC will be free, some talent in CvC? Man, they don't work for free, dig.

Your characterization of Cyrus is pretty top-hat, too, btw.

Tamriel is a fantasy world but follows some logical climatic rules, as you don't find deserts close to arctic or jungles in Skyrim? (02/16/14)

Sure you do. It was called the Dirt Patch. Or did we talk about this already?

And then the Blight.

And the Haunted Jungle of Cyrod.

And the fact that nothing in the world is really a globe so "whatever, this word you call 'weather'..."

And the Jaws at the Edge of the world.

And the Dream Leak.

And the Hoag Bellows.

And the Mountain Shaped Man.

And... what are you talking about? Stop typing the same thing.

And Aldmeris wasn't a place, it was an idea.

And Atmora wasn't a place, it was an idea.

And Yokuda exists in the literal past.

And Akavir exists in the literal future.

And Masser is Lyg's Shadow.

And Lyg is a coffee-stain.

I'm seen too much of the "immersion" argument used the other way, the "anti-Wizard" way.

So take each of my magical examples and map them to a realistic weather pattern for the world.

Exploration of a cut idea about the Red Diamond after the Great War (02/23/14)

I talked with Kurt about a whole mental anguish thing that happened to the world of TES after Talos was shot out of heaven by the Thalmor.

Short version: any attempt to draw the old red diamond would invariably end up failing.

Ex: A painter would paint it. The paint would set. The paint would crack and move. The final painting would be a 2D explosion. More Talos despair would set in.

Ex: Blacksmiths would forge the symbol. The metal would cool, be applied to an Imperial helmet. A brave legate would wear it. The diamond stayed on long enough to meet with a Dominion ambassador. Imperials would be all "See? Our faith in Talos is--" Legate's helmet would crack from the symbol, legate's head crushes in. More Talos despair. Dominion ambassador would smile and accept the surrender of whole legions.

Ex: A bard, knowing the "cracking diamond effect", attempts to describe the symbol in verse, to avoid the physical danger. He performs the verse to a crowd of secret Talos worshipers. They begin to see the diamond in their minds and are overjoyed. Then the screaming starts. Two hours later, a throng of headless corpses are found, strewn diamond-pattern in a courtyard. Other worshipers arrive to look on them, seeing a sign of their god in the bodies of his martyrs. Crowds gather at this holy site. Dominion lets the hope set in, declares small doubt in the finality of Talos' erasure. People go "whoa" and flock to the site. Thalmor button is pressed. The new settlement blows up as anything around the diamond shape regards it in a chain-reaction explosion of viscera, language, spellfire. Half a province surrenders to the Thalmor.

Parts of Game: Skyrim would show all of this in mechanical terms. The LDB would have to learn how to successfully craft the diamond shape without danger. They would have to avoid certain "latent diamond traps", etc.

Was awesome idea. Was also... technically difficult. Was also radical. Is saved for a future game or DLC.

If the Dwemer returned, we could talk to them and learn about their culture and whatnot. (03/04/14)

How can you talk to people that don't know how to talk?

How can you learn about aliens that refuse the idea of a culture?

The Dwemer would like the word "whatnot" so much that this would be all WHAT they talked about until NOT you destroyed your WHAT hard drive NOT, WHAT saved games NOT, and your ability to interface with the net.

Still think they're WHAT cool NOT?

It'd be fun to see what would happen if the Dwemer did come back. (03/04/14)

No it wouldn't.

The power of "no" is that it's a "maybe" in disguise. Just egging people on to show rather than tell. Want to bring them back? Do it well enough and they're back.

On the Argonians, the Hist and the War with the Trees. (03/13/14)

Frankly, there is enough writing notes at Beth that I hope ESO got the memo on how to incorporate the concept of:

"Man" Khajiit (which is still khajiit)

"Man" Argonian (which is not an Argonian)

Finally, and most importantly

Argonians are not an Argonian concept. All hist are Hist. A human can be enough hist that he is regarded as Argonian by the Hist. Similarly, a rock can be an Argonian if it shows enough hist traits that Hist deem it so.

The Arena "Argonians" are a strain of hist-dunmer mutants created by the Hist to infiltrate the Deshaan Plain and beyond, an experiment that was seemingly abandoned long in the past. Whether anything happened that was considered as a victory of this mutation is uncertain. The Hist aren't telling.

Furthermore, the Arena "Argonians" may or may not be considered hist enough by the Hist to be real Argonians. The Hist aren't telling. The game certainly called them that, though.

By this measure, there are no reliably confirmed "Argonians", only beings that think they are and have had that idea confirmed by meeting the Trees. And, of course, an Argonian may have started as one and is laughed behind his back by others because they know he/she/it is no longer exhibiting what the Hist wants from them. They, of course, must only be able to assume this.

Tell me, when you play an Argonian, do you ever hear the Trees talking to you? As a hist, I mean, even when you're playing a Nord? Because your Nord may instead be an Argonian without you even knowing it.

"Tell me, Uncle, do you remember the War with the Trees?" - PGE1

Why is an Altmer asking if another Altmer remembers the War with the Trees?? Why, an Altmer who is forgetting that he is exhibiting enough hist traits that he would never have Warred against the Hist... in other words, an Argonian who is also an Altmer.

So... who exactly had the BIGGER BIAS in that Pocket Guide now?

Explorations on objects (rather than people) mantling and being mantled (03/19/14)

Lots of things are objects. We need some restrictions to define our explorations before we go buck wild. At its root, you might be on to a very cool idea. And something pretty close to the famous theft of a famous thing.

Are we:

Limiting the term "object" to a normally non-sentient physical item or tool normally considered mundane? Ex. a rake that has not been enchanted/cursed/used by a famous magic user nor host to a demon, god, or hero?

Let's say YES

Is this rake observed in any way by "regular" mortals? Ex. the farmer that uses the rake.


Is this rake observed only by other normal farmer tools? Ex. tools sitting in the farmer's shed, forgotten.


Is this rake observed by no one except the interior of the shed? Ex. Self-explanatory.


Is this rake observed by no one since there is no light showing in the interior of the shed? Ex. the farmstead and shed are either buried underground or under the shadow of a month-long eclipse? For these examples, let's remove any mythical forces associated with the Underworld, nature, Oblivion, the Moons, Magnus, etc.

Pick one or more

Is the normal use of the rake required but there is no one to use the rake? Ex. the autumn leaves are piling too high.

And so on. Start with this rake within these limits. Try to make the rake do something so special at being another tool that it supplants that tool so much that no one remembers when the rake wasn't just that tool all along.

How do Hist-worshiping Argonians and Green-Pact-following Bosmer get along? (03/20/14)

Any culture that reveres or lives around trees and that had enough knowledge to know that the Hist were crazy Trees? Yes, they would probably fight over what a "tree" really was. Violently.

Can men build Towers? (03/22/14)

In general, I find that the not-Men should build the Towers, if even the notion of "built" does not necessarily a physical brick-and-mortar approach.

Everyone agrees that there existed a Tiber Septim. (03/22/14)

Or eight of them. Or 24, because one mustn't forget the time he was an Orc War Chief. Fighting his human self. To allow for the court of public opinion to be swayed on both sides.

Let's be clear on this.

On a "mer" name for the Left Hand Elves (03/22/14)

I'm also not a fan of the word 'Sinismer' because it's a little too... latinized-clever? Dunno. The stilted and/or plain sound of The Left-Handed Elves or The Left-Handers strikes me as far for Yokudan.

"Race is a very important factor" in ability to use magic. Followup: Is the superior stamina of the Orcs a cultural trait? (04/03/14)

You mean culture. Races are different.

You're talking about a numeric value along a bell curve used as a game mechanic.

Tiber Septim was an Orc for many, many years-- and yet he integrated himself into their society by exploiting certain racial stereotypes.

Literally. He performed an extremely powerful ritual to change his race. Tiber is a monster, man.

What would happen to Almalexia and Sotha Sil's bodies after their deaths? (04/04/14)

Vivec would have stolen their remains, I would think.

They're his family. He would inter them in the proper Velothi fashion. And then mourn.

Are Redguards human? (04/23/14)

Yokudan humans are humans.

To put a stake in the sand: the men and women of Yokuda and their descendants, most popularly the Redguards, are human. No ifs, ands, or buts.

On the stylistic difference between in-game MK works and Obscure Texts (07/14/14)

None of my in-game books were ever edited with the exception of a few lines in The Song of Pelinal (one removing Morihaus' erection, another stating that Pelinal was homosexual).

It really boils down to being able to work within the confines of the team's current project. That was (and is) easy enough to do if you have the experience and discipline to do it.

Why was Pelinal's homosexuality edited out of the Adabal-a? (07/14/14)

The line changed from something like "a hoplite who Pelinal often shared a tent with at night" to "a hoplite who Pelinal loved well". That same hoplite gets killed, causing Pelinal to go on one of his crazed destruction sprees. You can go to the source text and figure out which part I'm talking about.

The reason it was changed was a simple matter of keeping his sexuality ambiguous. Since the player was donning Pelinal's armor, completing a mission that he could not, in a sense becoming him, being so blunt about Pelinal's sexuality was too... definitive (?) in relation to the PC's own. Given the open nature of TES PCs, I felt that it was fine to keep it open to interpretation.

But it's still there. If you look at Pelinal, that hoplite is the only one he gives non-familial affection to, and his retaliation against not just the Elves but the whole world after his lover's death is enough, I think, to infer the original intent.

I don't remember Huna's gender being specified. I thought the name was feminine. (07/14/14)

There you go, then, a revelation: Huna was male.

On mithril (07/18/14)

I really hate that mithril is in TES.

Which is why I had it removed from Morrowind.

How the name "Mundus" originated (07/18/14)

It was called the Mundus because of the word mundane.

On the idea of Dragons being more a state of allegiance than a biological definition (07/24/14)

You've got me to back you up. And Kurt, too, insofar as breath weapons being a form of philosophical debate. And that they, you know, feed off time.

K&K's shorthand for dragons very early on were 'biological time machines powered by ideologies'.

On the Elder Scroll that the Grey Fox altered in TESIV: Oblivion (08/01/14)

That wasn't a real Elder Scroll.

That was a copy of copy of a copy of one of three giant cylinders (the real Elder Scrolls).

The copies are powerful artifacts, to be sure. The three cylinders are kept in the vaults beneath White-Gold Tower. Mortals have interacted with them.

What does "GHARTOK" mean? (08/11/14)

"Hand" + "weapon"

A GHARTOK is your weapon hand, or a hand that's made for weapons, or a hand that IS a weapon.

What is the big bright light in the centre of the sky in Sovngarde? (08/16/14)


The age of Nirn by the time of Skyrim (08/20/14)

Nirn is approximately 7000 years old +/- endless years of the Dawn.

On the Redguards use of magic (08/24/14)

Archmage Voa and Saban were both mighty sorcerers, crucial to both battles at Hunding Bay. The idea that the raga are afraid of magic is just wrong.

Why did Azura not change the Dunmer back into Chimer after they stopped worshiping the Tribunal? (08/26/14)

'Velothi, your skin has become the pregnant darkness. My brooding has brought this on. Remember that Boethiah asked you to become the color of bruise. How else to show yourselves people of the exodus into the vital: pain?'

There are different versions of that story.

On Orc names being based off Tolkein's black speech, and a different direction for Orcs and Goblins: (09/04/14)

They do. All game that use Orcs owe the Tolkien Estate money. It's not intentional so much as part and parcel of using Orcs outside of Middle-earth in the first place.

There was a movement to change their TES counterparts out of the Noble Savage trope but it never really found purchase.

The only hook we had was the (admittedly cool and weird) Orcish armor from Daggerfall, looking all samurai and shit. Using that, the idea was to explore an extraplanar dimension of an Orc Atlantis, since Goblins had a similar background in making-no-sense-planar-nonsense.

Orsinium would've been a conduit to Orc Prime (or whatever), where the Teat Shoguns gave mystical orders and wore strangely-sculpted Trinimasks.

Oh well.

I had to read up on Goblins since they were so closely associated with the Ra Gada. To be honest, the whole Giant Goblins from Planet X seemed like a leftover idea from the original D&D campaign that Arena and Daggerfall was based on.

So I totally ignored it, half out of respect for the guys that wrote it (who were gone by RG) and half because I just thought it was a mess.

Was Duadeen half-Akaviri, as asserted by the Five Hundred Companions? (09/05/14)


Why was Summerset Isles and other provinces renamed? (09/07/14)

OOG, I hated Summerset Isles and Elsweyr as place names, so they were changed after TESIV: Oblivion.

Tried to get Valenwood and Hammerfell changed, as well, since it's a rip from Dragonlance and Marion Zimmer Bradley respectively. That shit is embarrassing.

During the Oblivion Crisis, the Bosmer were going to call a Wild Hunt to end all Wild Hunts, with every single mer in Valenwood going full monster. Afterwards, it would've become a haunted forest nation, closed off by both the Dominion and the Empire. I forget the exact name, but it was something like Ada-mor, the "spirit forest".

The suggestion for Hammerfell was something African-based, but I can't recall.

Argonia survived the culling of Names.

Tiber septim tried to invade the afterlife? (09/07/14)

Why not? Reman invaded the Underworld.

On the planned sequels to Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard (09/08/14)

I had a plan for a TEA game set in Elsweyr. We planned three of them.

TEA2: Eye of Argonia

TEA3: Paradise Sugar (which was totally meant to sound like a JRPG title; the idea was that every third installment was extra alien)

You were going to alternate playing the various members (and forms) of S'rathra's family.

What is the wine-knife referenced in Shor Son of Shor? (09/23/14)

A wine-knife is a weapon that you only pull when drunk. It can detect sobriety, blunting its edge the more clear-headed you are.

Why did Shor not appear? Did Mara and Talos appear in old games? (10/02/14)

RL: Someone felt uncomfortable having a portrayal of a god in the game. (Daedra Princes don't count, I guess.)

In-world: Up to you.

Dunno about Mara, but Daggerfall predated the Talos concept. Do you mean avatars of gods? Because those are okay.

The word "Aedra" didn't exist during the time of Daggerfall, either.

I found a page for the Dunmeri language made by fans and it got me wondering, has there ever actually been any official mention of linguistic rules for grammar or any such thing? (10/03/14)

As far as I know, nope, except for maybe Douglass Goodall’s work with the Khajiit. Making up a true language is hard. If the Dunmeri thing’s good, I say use it.

What, in your opinion, is Skyrim's biggest single flaw, and why? (10/04/14)

I wouldn’t call it a flaw, but I wanted more DLC.

And more explanation of the Dragon War. And more of the earlier draft ideas of Dragons being biological idea-eating time machines that mortals just perceived as Ye Olde Standard Dragon image.

Do you stand by the transformation of Cyrodil or would you have prefered it to stay as a tropical jungle type place? (10/05/14)


It’s been fun retconning it and coming up with neat ideas of the “jungle as Carcosa”… but eastern Cyrodiil should have been as described in the PGE1 from the start.

On the statue of Morihaus in the Imperial City being a Man: (10/17/14)

And Cyrodiil was 100% jungle in Oblivion, right? Kurt and I snickered that the statue's existence would have to be re-retconned after KotN, anyway.

I reject the idea that Atmora is frozen in time; at one point Ysgramor brings in reinforcements from Atmora. (10/20/14)

Sure, but Ysgramor can do that.

I've always felt there was something more to Giants. (11/20/14)

There is. You're on to something with the "previous kalpa" thing but not right on the money. (How could you be? It's not been explained, only hinted at.)

More later. For now, think gradients.

If Argonians hatch from eggs, why do females have breasts? (12/05/14)

Real talk: because breasts. We should aim for higher aspirations than trying to lore tits onto a lizard. :)

Ysmir vs HoonDing: who would win? (12/12/14)

All others make way.

Soo, the Akavir and the Tamrieli know of each other and have vessels competent enough to carry armies from one continent to the other. Why doesn't there seem to be any sort of diplomatic or trade relationship between the two? (12/14/14)

The time difference really mucks things up.

The Cave (Stone of Snow-Throat) doesn't have anything to do with Mithraic mysteries and the cave of Mithras, does it? (12/17/14)

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Adamantium Tower is a Space-Ship? (12/22/14)

It's been a space ship since the High Rock section of the PGE1.

PS - Kurt wrote that section. And they say I'm the crazy one.

C0DA works on the "yes, and..." principle of Improvised Theatre (12/29/14)

Very, very good.


Pronounciation of Numinatus: (01/05/15)


Surely you don't mean all Imga glorify Altmer? (01/05/15)

I'm using the Orlanthi "all" or "every", meaning more or less 80%.

There are always exceptional exceptions, and I look forward to seeing some of them. The biggest exception to the normal Imga is one of history's most powerful figures.

Exploring the differences between the two would be fascinating. And throw in a few splinter groups to make it real, e.g. a barbaric chieftain who was trained in the fencer's art who only uses his dueling sword against Altmer "trespassers", or creepy Ayleid cabals who wear literal ape faces they've acquired in vile rituals.

On Talin Warhaft: (01/12/15)

Warhaft had a big role in a now-lost questline for Oblivion.

Cyrodiil's lack of Red Mountain stories? (01/12/15)

Huh, now that you brought it up, Cyrod's lack of Red Mountain legends is a little unbelievable.

(It plays a huge part in an unfinished story of mine, but that's neither here nor there.)

In the Dragonborn DLC, Neloth calls the Nerevarine a "he." Is the Nerevarine canonically male? (01/25/15)

That line was a mistake a designer made in haste. Consider it a glitch.

What does it mean when Jurgen Windcaller "swallowed the Shouts" of the other Tongues? (01/27/15)

Self-explanatory. He breathed in while they breathed out.

Is Leki the Yokudan version of Meridia? (02/09/15)


Who were the Red Dome Templars of Talos? (02/14/15)

The Red Dome Templars were psycho-crusaders who drank the blood of Talos to get short-term martial shouting powers. The rest of the Army hated them (and much of the Elder Council wanted them dispersed), which is mainly why they were shoved off to places like Morrowind.

Sadly, the Red Templars only made it into some onsite Runequest games I ran for the dev team in the earliest days.

On Men and Altmer in C0DA: (02/16/15)

The discussion between Sul and Morihaus should make it clear that neither Men or Altmer exist in the broken time of C0DA.

On the background of the PGE1 (02/17/15)

Regarding ordering, I really only feel strongly about Skyrim First, New Imperial Province Second, Cyrodiil Third.

The original ordering of PGE1 wasn't really decided until its final, frantic days, except that we knew Morrowind would always be last, since that was DF's sequel. One reason for its bouncing order was that, after handing out sections as written, and slowly watching it congeal into a whole, the idea of "saving the best for last" ended up being more of a hope than what really happened. People and proof-writers saw a book THIS BIG and just skimmed to their favorite section. Or the section they saw as the unlikeliest to persuade (I'm looking at you, Elsweyr).

Only Ken, Kurt, Todd, and I read the thing front to back in its near-last-draft form to see if its through-line was the best it could be. Everyone else just high-fived (say) that "sugar-crack" made it in.

It also bears reminding here that no one asked for a PGE during Redguard's pre-dev cycle. Redguard was still just "pirates in the sky boats of a barely-hidden Jupiter gas ocean" at the time. Only Todd's very wise decision to leverage the success of DF that Redguard even got a greenlight but, even then, nothing like the PGE was mentioned.

When was it mentioned? It's hard to pinpoint when, exactly, but after the RG plot of civil war and this Emperor guy coming in to profit from it all started to develop... well, someone asked, "What's the name of the Empire, again?" and no one had an answer. And that just got on everyone's nerves. A pact was made: Kurt and I would hit the books and work it all out while we were also working on Redguard. With Uncle Ken and Todd always there to steer us in the right direction.

Suddenly, "What's the name of the Empire, again?" turned into "hold up the train, wait, ALL of these disparate cultures worship the same gods? That CAN'T be right" and "This period in history doesn't make logistical sense and/or is just too muddled and unlovely in description". The former was mostly me (Varieties was written in one night), the latter was usually Kurt (one does not argue with someone that can use examples from the Peloponnesian War to explain almost anything). In hindsight, probably a lot of it was wankery, but it was the first world-building that went beyond the Iliac Bay (the progenitors of Arena were almost gone to a man, so we didn't have their notes, so forgive any bad memory or perceived "lack of documentation"), and it was impossible to stop. Except for that little thing called deadline.

(Remind me to relate the No One Wanted to Write the High Rock section later.)

This is a long way of saying, yes, the order matters, and yes, we will arrive at it, and yes, we should feel strongly about certain placements, but that a project of this scope will constantly surprise us and change our minds as we go...but we'll eventually have to talk about a deadline (groan) or it will never, ever stop. Unless it just peters out.

Do cults to non-Daedra/Aedra exist outside of state religions? (02/19/15)

Cyrodiil is the City of a Thousand Cults. Meaning probably three thousand. I doubt that even 15% of those would be devoted to the deities "we" know.

What is the Snow Whale's Joy Snow? (02/23/15)

Joy Snow is cocaine.

What happened to Captain Tobias' Sword-Meeting With Cyrus the Restless? (02/27/15)

It's no big conspiracy. I just can't seem to get the story to feel right yet.

Did the Champion of Cyrodiil become Sheogorath? (03/08/15)

It's up to you. It was never-- EVER-- intended that the CoC became/mantled Sheogorath.

I read the design documents.

On the unimplemented book Secret Dwemer Origins and its implications: (

This is clearly one of them there shoulda hit Delete type situations.

What's up with Seyda Neen's lighthouse? (03/18/15)

Early concept art shows House Hlaalu with gems in their foreheads. These gems were purportedly part of the glass in the construction of the Seyda Neen.

The Seyda Neen was the flagship of a fleet that Hlaalu sent to sea at the behest of a Saint, "to see the face of Veloth". The mariners on this voyage would send back for the rest of their House when they had found whatever this "face" was.

But an unnatural storm destroyed the fleet, the jetsam and flotsam coming back to the shore. The Hlaalu used this to construct the Lighthouse, so that any of their countrymer that may have survived the storm could find their way back. House nobles embedded their flagship's glass in their foreheads, because Morrowind.

How can a player who has Corpus gained via that main questline contract Sanius Lupius if he is supposed to be immune to ALL disease's? (03/08/15)


Does Paarthurnax have any knowledge of Durnehviir? Followup: how do you know? (03/27/15)

They didn't know each other. I just asked the creator of the two dragons in question and got the answer.

Anything comparable to the Internet? Spaceships? Moon colonies? (4/20/15)

Dreamsleeve. Sunbirds. And there's not really another word for moon colonies, so yeah.


Is the story arc for Morrowind influenced/inspired by the story arc of Dune? (05/13/17)

Images and textures, certainly. Who doesn't love Dune? But for the story, not so much.

Did Lawrence Schick write the 37th sermon that references C0DA? (08/27/17)

Who said Schick wrote it?


Who wrote the level-up messages? (04/23/19)

In Morrowind/Oblivion, I'm 99% sure that was Ken. The writing is very much his style.

I forget, did Daggerfall have similar level up messages? If this is the case, that was likely Ted. If the language carried over from one game to the next, then it's Teds all the way down.

Are the flying Snow Whales referenced in-game? (05/24/19)

The Whalebone Bridge is a nod.

What kind of prep, how many drafts did you have to do to end up with something as organic and intricate as the 36 Lessons? (05/24/19)

It took about a week and I totally pantsed it. 98% of the edits were typos and grammar, with the biggest one being Kurt’s idea of how to stick a secret message in, which meant he counted a lot and gave me a buncha numbers and made a word change or three so it’d fit.

I knew some amount of structure I wanted that first day, and had a guide from real world texts of mystery religions for a lot of the intonation I wanted to pull off, and a list of skills that needed to go up for mechanics reasons. So, like, that’s why there’s a scripture about maces lol.

Wait, that only makes sense if you know how this batch of Morrowind books came about. Todd/Ken/Whoever needed a certain number of skill points to come out of the in-game books, freelanced Ted to write a fuckhueg bunch of them, one skill point per book, and he was like yo Michael, this is a buncha books, want to take fifty of them?

So I divied up my 50, said I’d make 6 into Vivec’s Bible and figure out the others. I wrote those six, said whoops, lemme do more of these because I can’t stop and near the end I knew it was going to end up being 36 exactly. (I forget what the other fourteen books I did for that batch were, though. I think I asked, er, pleaded with Kurt to do a few of them because the deadline was insane.)

It might be of interest to know that I wrote them all in the order they are now. Like, there was never any, oh this one actually goes here and that there kind of stuff. Is that interesting? It certainly was to me when I thought of it a second ago.

Anyhoo, I was exhausted most nights of that week, and I bless my roommate at the time to this day for leaving food, smokes, and bourbon outside my door at dinner time. I pissed in a drive-thru coke cup from Rally’s Burgers because I didn’t want to stop typing Sermon 35.

For the record, I still think it’s a kind of magic spell that let me write a magic spell, but hey, when you’re holding a cup to piss in while still typing with your left hand, I can see how it all might get confused.

I guess that’s another interesting thing: there was nothing left on the cutting room floor. I got in, I got out.

Some of it is melody to me, but it always means a thing, even if it’s a shape I was drawing in the words, because I see sound.

No, for real, I’ve pretty acute sound/sight synesthesia, which definitely played a part. It’s a subconscious sensory thing so that kind of analysis doesn’t really work. Like, I understand color theory and stuff, but what sounds “look like” isn’t affected by any of that. It just happens- I hear a thing and my vision picks it up too.

Punk rock always looks like blue, yellow, and black pieces of construction paper, all ripped up and stuck together over and over. Classical, on the other hand, is a pink neon rain. It’s interesting that texture plays into both of them, which probably means there’s a very small touch component in the synathetic mix.

Is The Elder Scrolls VI named Redfall? (05/24/19)

The game is not called Redfall.

On contributions to the development of Skyrim (06/06/19)

It's hard to credit conversations. A couple of things that didn't get in off the top of my head:

Killing Talos was a hard sell. The Thalmor killing Talos by using a mythically sized-up, extraplanar Death Star Laser Auriel's Bow to literally headshot him out of Aetherius was a no go. I miss that, especially if you remember the precedents set in the DF Mantella quest shenanigans.

Famously, the one mention of Dragon's breath being argument forms is now on that one loading screen. We talked a lot (a lot lot) about how all of that worked, with the early mortals of the Dragon Wars watching philosophical debates between dragon "senators" and seeing them instead as crazy kaiju fights. ​ "Sentient mythological time machines" came from brainstorms on consolidating time-punching Alduin with the timeline-mending functions of Jills. Hints of that are still there if you squint hard. ​ Anyhoo.

Origin of Talos' name: (06/08/19)

It wasn’t a random name and didn’t come from the early pre-Morrowind D&D campaign. It was indeed a riff on the Talos of Greek mythology. I like big bronze golems and Ray Harryhausen what can I say?

Inspiration for Tiber Septim: (06/09/19):

Gbaji and Arkat were most definitely inspirations in the evolution of Tiber Early-Beard.

Did you write the 37th Sermon present in ESO? (07/11/19):

I don't see how anyone else did.

What are the Wheels of Lull? (07/26/19)

Ramon Llull

How did you come up with the name Hist? They're briefly mentioned in Arena as a council of Argonians that rule over Black Marsh (10/10/19)

I thought it was a cool word, both aurally and visually, so I went with it.

Now that you mention a secret council, you might be right. And I did take names from obscure places and rebrand them, Cyrodiil being the most famous. It was a word on an internal calendar that I stamped onto the Imperial Province when we had to give it a name for Redguard. I meant that Cyrodiil was labeled as an empire in the calendar— as was another, Colovia— but had no representation geographically, so I shoved both into the unnamed Imperial Province for the first PGE.

The calendar was a print out of a word file that existed in a lonely folder somewhere that I never found. There wasn’t an internal wiki in those days.

It was chock full of interesting info that never made it into the earlier games. As I didn’t play those, I stole from the timeline liberally. There was a huge gap in years- over a thousand, probably as a buffer zone to fill in later as new history would be filled out by the DF team after launch. Or something, I dunno, all I saw was that huge gap. So naturally I went into Todd and Ken’s office and announced it was this thing called a Dragon Break.

Hasphat Antabolis states an ancient title for Alessia Auma Par Eshe or Alma Par Essi; The word Empress allegedly came from this, and it means "Mother of Men." So maybe AE ALMA RUMA could mean "Ruma is the Mother"? (12/05/19)

Good catch. "Alma" is indeed "mother".


Origin of Bosmer cannibalism and graht-oaks, Argonian morphology, and Khajiit furstocks: (01/05/20)

All of that came from the PGE1, which was during prepro for Morrowind.

Kurt and I wrote the Pocket Guide for Redguard while we were doing preproduction on Morrowind.

So his comments specifically point out that he's actually not sure if MK even wrote the PGE (04/07/20)

That's... that's not what Kurt's saying at all. We wrote that book together. He's saying he doesn't remember who wrote the Skyrim section.

But I do. Kurt wrote most of the body text, I wrote the Talos stuff, Richard Guy wrote the sidebar on Shouts. That sidebar actually came from an email synopsis of a conversation he and I had while on a smoke break, where we were all, "Dude, what if Vikings doing the David Lynch Dune thing?" and then were all, "Yes, yes, we are doing that."

Is Shor the head of the Ancient Nordic Pantheon? Followup: He was once before, wasn't he? (04/17/20)

No, he’s not.

“...this pantheon has no chief; see "Shor"”

“Considered a "dead god," Shor has no priesthood and is not actively worshiped, but he is frequently sworn by.”

He most certainly used to be.

Are there any depictions of Zurin Arctus? Followup: Is Arctus the one with the staff right behind the Emperor, wearing the armor of Tiber's Guard? Or the Apprentice of the TES3 tapestry? (4/20/20)

I did a sketch of him back in the day, I’ll try to dig it up.

Freelancer Mark Jackson did the paintings for the Redguard intro based off my concept art and script, which never mentioned Zurin Arctus. So that one ain’t him unless we retroactively say sure, that’s him. Maybe we do?

As for the tapestry, no idea. Not even sure who did the piece.

What does the passage "wandered Tamriel, gathering armies, conquering lands, ruling, then abandoning his kingdoms to wander again." refer to? (4/21/20)

That passage is referring to a composite hero, whose kingly deeds may have not involved Pelinal at all.

On several aspects of Lorkhan that all blend together into a vaguely familiar figure (Pelinal, Hans the Fox) all Shezarrines that would do things to protect Nirn, and then disappear to wander again: (4/21/20)

Do things to protect Man, but yes, all of this.

According to Nordic myths, Men were 'created' or helped gain shape/form thanks to Kyne at the Throat of the World. Didn't the original Nords come from Atmora (Ysgramor and his merry band)? So according to Nords, they spread to other lands and eventually returned to Skyrim or was this element of the creation myth integrated when the Atmorans started to mingle with the local/Tamrielic humans? (05/01/20)

From the first Pocket Guide to the Empire:

“The Nords believe men were formed on this mountain [Snow-Throat] when the sky breathed onto the land. Hence the Song of Return refers not only to Ysgramor's return to Tamriel after the destruction of Saarthal, but to the Nords' return to what they believe was their original homeland.”

Was House Dagoth originally a joinable faction? (05/11/20)

I honestly don’t remember but it sounds like something Rolston would have been keen on doing.

On his role on games outside of Morrowind: (05/14/20)

As for Oblivion, I’d ask about any inaccuracies. We can’t have that. Let’s also not forget the email I wrote that ended up coming out of Zod’s mouth. Proud of that one.

My involvement in Daggerfall was so minimal as to be nil, only of interest because of the assignment I was given. My only intrusion in Battlespire was trying to steal Richard Guy (who I wish stayed at Beth far longer, his madness was perfect) and listen to Ken cackling about just how happy he was writing the trashiest of dialogues.

The Oral History of Vivec’s Name (05/14/20)

I came up with the Tribunal’s looks, personalities, placement in the story (remember, the game used to be set on the entirety of Morrowind), and names. And for a long time documents were written about Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and... Vivane.

But something started to bug me about that name— oh shit, it was a place in the tabletop rpg, Earthdawn! Being hugely embarrassed by almost stealing a name (I would let another slip— Nibenay— to my eternal huge embarrassment) I said nope nope nope we gotta rename Vivane.

Kurt changed it to Vivek (maybe because of the lotus position drawings I kept doing? He never said) and we were good. But at some point, Ken sent an email with some details about Vivec with a c and I went ooooh that looks neat with a c. I like the c because it kind of insects the whole thing up. For lack of a better verb.

Kurt had relocated to Colorado at the time (he moved back to Beth some time later) and didn’t like the name change, slight as it was. So when he turned in his section to the PGE he used the old name, Vivek. Made me swear not to change it in the final book.

So OF COURSE I decided hey, they’re both right and holy shit the name for the Daedric V is Vehk and if you kind of reverb it it goes V’Vehk isn’t that cool, guys? We can name him THAT too. And some folks— cough, Todd, cough— thought this was probably needlessly complicated but Kurt and Ken were like yeah but Morrowind is kinda like that already so who cares.

Everyone was happy, especially Vivec.

Whose decision was it to use the Imperial Nine Divines for the Nordic Pantheon? Could you clarify if the Dragon empire was how Alduin was metaphorically eating the world? (05/15/20)

Naw, Todd’s blameless on that one. That was Bruce’s bright idea.

Let’s just say the Dragon Cults and what happened when wasn’t really clear. Ever.

On the "Perrif and Perrif and Perrif" line in The 500 Mighty Companions or Thereabouts of Ysgramor: (05/20/20)

It’s a gag on the line “... and in those days most girls were named after the Paravania...” from The Water-getting Girl and the Inverse Tiger.

Can we get a 36 Sermons write up on Almalexia, from her POV? (5/20/20)

It’s always been an intention of mine to write “Almalexia’s Pillowbook”, her equivalent of the Lessons. I’m not a fan of her treatment in the Tribunal DLC— did we really need the only woman in ALMSIVI to go crazy?— so I’d like to contribute more to her voice. But yeah, it’d be hard.

On the intention of Nhad-hatta's sketch, and if the Mane's furstock was intend to vary or always be the same: (06/03/20)

I had always imagined it as a cat sitting on a tall, wheeled platform hidden by the countless hair-locks.

Beyond the illustration and initial write up, there wasn’t much thought about other Manes. It was meant to vary from type to type.

I do think each Mane should be absolutely outlandish and unique. Like, start with overwhelming hair-locks, mobile beds, clouds of moon sugar blowing out when they speak, and then go nuts with individual ornamentation.

I’m underwhelmed at Rid-T’har-ri’Datta’s rendition in the game, but I understand technical or resource limitations may have contributed to that. The historical version of him was obviously more fantastic and batshit-looking.

On having more religions and gods: (06/06/20)

The Imperial City was called the “city of a thousand cults” and really should have been.

And the Yokudans absolutely have deities devoted to everything.

Whoa, I don’t even recognize those first two [Q'Olwen and Vigryl]. Huh, good to know about Vigryl and their relation to the sea. Thanks!

Maybe I’ll incorporate some notion of that in my Orgnum materials.

I can’t speak for the others mentioned, but I had ideas for Oghma that I never got around to. One day I’ll release some writing on Orgnum as a deity instead of just a regular bad to know dude.

After the Pocket Guide, were you still going with the Arena lore that had Phynaster and Syrabane as famous heroes or were you intending to expand them as et'Ada? Followup: On the Altmeri Eight Divines: (06/07/20)

After the idea of Aedra being ancestors, the line between cultural heroes and et’Ada became blurred. (For me, heroes and gods are often on the same level anyway.) I wanted them in the pantheon of the Altmer without necessarily invalidating what had come before, and hoped that, down the line, they might get filled in by others.

I made the conscious decision to zig and zag the Altmeri pantheon around the, er, conventional Eight. Their culture just begs to have a different (but entirely true) belief set than that of Men. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to eventually provide an Anuic cosmology to contrast the Lorkhanic ones, but then I realized that’d be a lot of puzzle pieces in play and got all scaredy-cat overwhelmed.

Did Slavic culture or mythology ever get into the crazy lore mixing cauldron? (06/07/20):

Not really during my tenure, no.

I've been deciphering the Dominion Prism Textract (06/07/20):

The PGE warns against trying this stuff, so take the necessary precautions.

“The Scarcity of Elven Writings passage” from Pocket Guide to the Empire follows.

On the original Altmer version of TES III: Tribunal set in Summerset: (06/13/20):

The “Tribunal” version of Morrowind was never really in the cards when we started dev on the game. There was that Caldwell piece (that no one remembered) and a vague premise (that we immediately threw into the trash). It should be noted that there really wasn’t a split between the Redguard and Morrowind teams at all at the end of the day. We were maybe, like, fifteen to twenty people back then.

Redguard was indeed where the Morrowind lore started— the time periods overlapped. I was sketching bugs and Great Houses for Morrowind while building levels for Redguard.

And there was never an actual break in Morrowind’s development (there was always someone officially on the team, even if it was just Kurt or Ken), not sure where you got that from.

I will say that if Ted had not bounced to LA and Julian had not, er, well, been sidelined after Daggerfall and subsequently quit, then the High Elf version of Morrowind would have definitely happened. Ken was even working from what notes and conversations they had before Kurt and I pounced on him with stories of this thing called Lorkhan.

What's the earliest piece of TES art you ever did? (06/14/20)

Good question. I want to say it was a pic of S’Rathra from Redguard since he was going to be modeled early.

I wanted to show the Khajiit as actual cat folk with cat heads rather than those nightmarish tailed humans in DF and Arena. (Whose existence necessitated the retcon creation of Ohmes.)

Might be wrong, though.

One of the most common examples of chirality is the difference between a right and left hand. Considering this is a name used in ancient folk-writing, there is almost zero chance it is not supposed to describe some kind of chiral alternation of Left-Handed elves. (06/14/20)

Non zero is about right.

On various comments about Tiber's race: (06/14/20)

You’re using a heretical text that ties Hjalti to Tiber, so that proves that people in the game debate if he was Nord or not.

Oh right. A quest inspired by The Arcturian Heresy that provides no solid answer on Tiber’s ancestry just like the document it’s drawing from— that ol’ chestnut. Good joke.

Even the fictional letters page of a fictional comic about the fictional world of Tamriel disputes Tiber’s birthplace, discounting earlier Daggerfall guidebooks from the real world.

It’s not so easy to pin down the Many-Headed.

MK said Tiber was an Orc once, Followup: Does it have anything to do with the Totem's claim that only those of Tiber Septim's bloodline can wield it, implying that Gortwog is one of his descendants, along with Akorithi, Eadwyre, and Gothryd? (06/15/20):

One day that story will be told. I keeping saying that but I’m still gonna say it.

That’s part of it, yeah.

On his "Beneton approach to Tamrielicreation" quote: (06/16/20)

FWIW, this was a shitty decision on my part based on a shitty reasoning. I was younger and didn’t realize how important it is for everyone to have someone that looked like them in any media. Being half-Pacific Islander myself, you’d think I would’ve been more sensitive and responsible that all cultures should be represented in a fictional setting that’s far too white. This quote is one of the many I wish I could take back. I think it’s from around sixteen years ago but straight up know it shouldn’t exist at all.

Why did nobody ever tried to use dwemer technology? (06/18/20):


ERASMO y’all. Rode around in a Dwemeri ultimate gamer chair.

On his take on Ebonarm compared to Marilyn Wasserman and Raymond Whit Crowley, and role in Daggerfall: (06/20/20)

And you’d be right to do so, I guess? My gamespeak was maneuvering the Ebonarm (hnngh) idea into more contemporary Hammerfell lore where he could do some work.

I worked on Daggerfall the teeniest of bits. One of my first assignments of Bethsoft was to paint skimpy clothes over scanned in Penthouse pics they used for some of the in-world paintings. (You couldn’t make out faces since the palette was only something like 16 colors back then.)

On ideas that didn't make it into the games: (06/20/20):

I think he means Sky Lamps, which were in the concept art for Morrowind. I wish they’d made it in too.

Sotha Sil's regret can be interpreted as many things, chiefly utilizing the heart to achieve godhood against the dying wishes Nerevar is also something to regret, no murder necessary. It will never be confirmed if the Tribunal murdered Nerevar, because that confirmation would go against the spirit of Morrowind. (06/22/20):


That whole DLC was on point.

On the purpose of Ted Peterson's Ancient Tales of the Dwemer and Kurt Kuhlmann's Collected Essays on Dwemer History and Culture being written: (07/01/20)

I wouldn’t say no one. Kurt utterly wrecked him with “Collected Essays on Dwemer History and Culture” lol.

Look harder and infer. Kurt wrote “Collected...” because how wrongheaded Ted wrote the Dwemer, who only gave the new lore a passing glance. Kurt’s response (originally an email written during MW dev) was a scathing commentary on their quality, their stubborn nonsense, and their author (both in and out of game).

It made it into TES4 because Kurt had returned by then. He wasn’t present for Morrowind ship. I may have urged him to dig up that email.

That would be Kurt, as well.

Though that first paragraph was probably Ted. The “University” were the folks getting all mad during that email chain

The letter L shade is definitely Ted busting our chops. :)

Kurt’s amazing at that stuff. “The Dragon Break Re-Examined” is him winning a breakdancing contest against me. He also did all the editor’s notes to the Song of Pelinal. I remember him looking at the crazy small fragment of Book 8 and going wtf does this even mean and I was all, “Look, man, just do it for me, and then you can go ahead and write one of those editor’s notes you’re so fond of.”

Apropos of nothing, I was only contracted for six Pelinal books and ended up writing, like, eight and some change because I love me some gay cyborgs.

Could Domihaus have had a fair shot at the Imperial Throne had he not died? (07/04/20):

A Minotaur on the Ruby Throne is a thing that’s happened.

How were the 36 Lessons written? (07/16/20):

I’ve already given an account of how the 36 were written: a week of bourbon, smokes, and solitude. I’ve never dropped acid in my life.

Could the Insect God mentioned in Song of Pelinal be Mephala or Namira? (08/04/20):

I wonder if there are gods and demons that don’t fit within the established pantheons.

Just sayin’, trying to slot everything into 9 or 16 is fun for awhile but loses its luster when you realize that they... don’t have to. Yes moar ayleid lore when time permits.

What do those in Tamriel say instead of "what the hell"? In Redguard "hell" makes a number of appearances, mostly in Cyrus' dialogue, another character also used Oblivion in place of hell, so I assume at this point they were still ironing it out. (08/11/20)

No, it was deliberate. All of the language in the games is a translation from an alternate reality, so “hell” just works better than some dumb and awkward “what in oblivion”.

So what's with the pig Chevalier Renald followed in The Remanada, Chapter 2? (08/19/20)

“So what’s with the pig” is exactly what’s with the pig.

I mean, I may get back to it and then who knows. It’s not like an inexplicable pig doesn’t just, y’know, demand more of a story.

On the descriptions of Cyrodiil as a jungle in Morrowind: (08/22/20)

Cyrodiil was going to be as described in the first PGE, which the book you’re talking about took its quotes from. The heart of the province being what you think of when you think of a traditional jungle, tumbling down to the fields of large rice paddies that fed the Empire, guarded by Romanesque troops and dragons everywhere. The Imperial City was to be vast, rolling across wetlands and swamps, with large sections lost and overgrown, full of too many cults to count, the oldest temples having obviously been around since the Merethic.

Then Todd watched The Fellowship of the Ring and mistakes were made.

On origins of names and the Crisis/Red Year serving as a catalyst to change them: (09/02/20)

I think The Eternal Champion is another embarrassing name the early games cribbed from other fantasy works, in this case Michael Moorcock.

Hammerfell: Name swiped from Marion Zimmer Bradley. Valenwood: Name swiped from The Dragonlance Chronicles. Morrowindl [sic]: Swiped from Raymond E. Feist.

I’ve already copped to inadvertently stealing “Nibenay” from Dark Sun, so I get that most of these were probably subconscious swipes. Still, I wish we had renamed everything that was cribbed when I suggested Red Year, a perfect time to change the map. But no go. At least I got to throw a moon-turd into Vvardenfell, keeping it safe from future tampering. (Love. My will only. That kinda thing.)

Yep, the Oblivion Crisis (of which Red Year was a result) was going to vastly change the literal and political landscapes by TESV. We- by which I mean me and Kurt- wanted to give Dagon’s invasion real teeth across the whole of Tamriel. I don’t think the term “Oblivion Crisis” appeared until after TESIV? In any case, it’s a nod to DC’s various status quo shattering events.

That’s where the stuff like the Argonians saying aw hell no and invading Oblivion instead with heavy feathered flu-tyrants came from. Because that’s just straight awesome. And Morrowind goes boom because I am a vain child who doesn’t like to share his toys.

Other ideas that didn’t make it were the Bosmer deciding to Wild Hunt themselves en masse to take on the Daedra, with the result that 1) Valenwood being renamed “Ghul-Mora”, meaning literally Monster Wood, since it was now full of monsters, 2) actual Bosmer were now very rare since after a Wild Hunt, those that change couldn’t change back, 3) dropping the stolen name.

Summerset was going to change its name to simply “Alinor” as the Thalmor came into ascendancy. But also because “Summerset Isles” is a dumb cringe name anyway.

Hammerfell was going to split into two kingdoms, one for Crowns, one for Forebears, each bearing a distinctively more African sounding name because 1) that’s rad and 2) dropping the stolen name.

Elsweyr was going to split back into Pellitine and Anequina because 1) it would give nuance back to the khajiit since they would effectively be two backgrounds at character creation, 2) the split being a result of the Thalmor gave the latter more weight, and 3) I could get rid of that dumb cringe pun name for the rest of fucking time oh my god I hate that dumb cringe pun so much. EDIT: Huh, this evidently did happen in the Great War.

To sum up: all the stolen province names were going to be replaced with original ones plus Elsweyr’s name would get gutshot as it should’ve been years ago.

On his inspirations for lore and original plans in older games: (09/11/20)

I’d say most of the Cosmology stuff came out over a short period of time. That’s when the big list of pantheons of gods was created. I did write that particular document in a night because I remember the empty office being spooky. The Creation Myths and the Dragon Break stuff was done during this part. Ken wrote the Cyrodilic myth.

The first PGE was another short period- maybe five weeks, but Kurt did a couple of the province entries and lots of that lore came from previous conversations. We had to hurry this one as Redguard’s ship date was fast approaching and I had to draw all the illustrations in it too.

The Morrowind concept art fueled the lore which in turn fueled the concept art. That stuff was done mostly during the development of Redguard. Actually got in trouble with Todd cuz I was drawing too much Morrowind stuff when I shoulda been making models for RG.

The big blasts were definitely the 36 Lessons - done in a week, siloed in a single room, food left outside the door by roommate but hey kids no drugs, just lots of smokes and bourbon- the Mythic Dawn Commentaries were all written on a couple of bus rides, and all the Towers lore which I wrote one night at a laundromat waiting for my sheets to dry.

So yeah, a mix of time with occasional brain blast all at once.

I read in an interview that there was a game concept for TES4 called Oblivion way back when Daggerfall was still being developed. Was Battlespire was originally designed as a teaser for that concepted Oblivion, given the groundwork it laid?

Yep, at least the name for IV: Oblivion existed during II: Daggerfall. If a plot existed, I never read it and it was completely different by the time the team got to the game.

III was called Tribunal then, too, before changing to Morrowind. I’d say Battlespire wasn’t so much a teaser as it was a side game headed up by Julian, who definitely loved the Oblivion setting. Of course, lots of lore it laid out was built on later on.

There are some definite story hints about Dagon invading Tamriel in Battlespire. Were there any ideas for other tes legends series games that didn't happen?

There totally might’ve been hints to the invasion then. I admit that my Battlespire fu is weak and all I really remember is Ken cackling because he loved writing its trashy dialogue. Oh, and Julian- again- demanding that character creation include boobs.

There were never any plans for another Legends game. Fun fact is that Battlespire originally started as an MP dlc for Daggerfall, but ballooned into its own thing. Personally, I think it would’ve found a bigger audience if it had stayed its original course. I also remember Todd asking Julian not to use “Elder Scrolls Legend” as a subtitle because he didn’t want to confuse the public with Redguard’s already approved subtitle “Elder Scrolls Adventure”. (Subtitle is the wrong word, but you know what I mean.) Julian refused. Meanwhile, Kurt was trucking along as the sole designer on Morrowind with me constantly feeding the project art concept art of insect shell houses.

Chris Weaver certainly ran with it; In his letter that shipped with Battlespire he wrote that the new "Legend series would focus on pivotal times in Tamriel's history and bring a deeper but narrower focus to particular aspects of the great myths of these periods.", while in the Adventure series would have you play as "a famous historical character and alter history with your actions." How did the Morrowind tes3 decision come about after Daggerfall? I think Ken was doing some kind of preproduction on a Summerset Isle TES3, which was conceptually meant to involve the Mannimarco-Morgiah "first" thing with corruption the Psijiic Order, and the Tribunal elf dudes in charge. Iirc the game was switched to Morrowind in like '96 or so...

Oh man, Weaver. Yeah...

Tes3 as a setting was already Maybe Summerset Maybe Morrowind when I got there, though I have no idea if Ken’s start on it was Morgiah stuff and nonsense. It was definitely not named “Morrowind” yet. I convinced Todd to switch it from Tribunal later. Like all great plans, the release schedules fractured after Daggerfall, with everyone switching roles or starting up games that were Elder Scrolls adjacent. By the time things has coalesced into tes3 or bust, the Elizabethan court intrigue version had been hammered away by the land of ash and warrior-poet version.

Nice find on that copy text.

The Psijic Order / Morgiah thing was definetely where Ted wanted to take the plot. The whole thing about her "first" never got resolved, but I think you toyed with that in Numinatus with Cousin and the brains, had a blast reading that! The original Summerset content that was cut from ESO before launch could hold its own in comparison to Morrowind; It had these varla power lines, manual labor varla-bound daedra slaves, orchestra gardens, planetary manipulation. They were gonna go all out. Did Ken do a considerable amount of design work on his Summerset?

If he did, it’s been lost to time. I can’t bring myself to talk about ESO’s Summerset expansion. I know I’ll just regret it. Anyway, now that you’ve mentioned Numinatus, I might go back and kick the tires on Cousin.

On regrets regarding The Arcturian Heresy, and what he meant by considering it his "worst" piece of writing: (09/12/20, 02/18/21)

I only regret the style of writing— which really came from an email— not the Heresy itself.

“The worst” only insofar as the style of the piece, not the content. I love the actual Arcturian Heresy itself.

Were the errors in Mankar's speech caused by your super rough draft with the intention of fact-checking and rewriting later? Followup: Could we therefore ignore the mismatch as a typo? (09/13/20)

Dunno, but I can confirm it.

Like most errors in elder scrolls lore, I find it more fun to jump through hoops to explain it, however loopy and whatever its origin, and just generally making a game out of fantasy scholarship.

What’s the deal with Khajiit in Daggerfall? (09/17/20)

The only reason Ohmes even exist was so I could explain away the Arena and Daggerfall khajiit.

I am more than happy to ignore all the unpolished ideas he posted in the old forum, like when he once said that Sovngarde was "on the moon". (09/17/20)

Sovngarde is totally on the moon. Ahem.

I'd much prefer if Kirkbride made Pelinal undoubtly gay instead of sexuality ambiguous. (10/26/20)

I didn’t decide, Bethesda editors did. As originally written, Huna and Pelinal were lovers. Morihaus also got a big bull boner when he’d go to war, but I can see why that was removed. Kinda.

I was fine with the requested edit of my original intention.

Bethesda made various Terminator games, is Pelinal a Terminator reference? (11/08/20)

And one of those was my first Bethesda game.

My first game really, the shareware thing that came out didn’t exactly count, except to get me a portfolio that got me into Bethesda.

On Malacath saying in Lord of Souls that mortals are too literal minded regarding Boethiah eating him: (11/20/20)

Of course he does, dude got shit out. Not a good look.

While I was not aware of it being a kink at the time, I am indeed the man that made this demon eat that god to shit out a different demon.

Iirc, it was a vast, singular wave of shit. Though if I squint my eyes, I can’t remember if it was me or Uncle Ken that rubbed those dumb Orcs in it.

And though I might have been ignorant of the concept of vore, I definitely knew of the existence of scat play, but that is really neither here nor there.

On The Dragon Break Re-Examined: (12/12/20)

My favorite book in the whole series.


What happened to Captain Tobias’ Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless? (01/04/21)

The VO was recorded long ago. Some illustrations exist. Kurt’s bit of the writing exists, but mine is scattershot. I love all of the existing elements, but I’m also well known for abandoning projects for large amounts of time. Short and unexciting answer: maybe one day.

Right, and it’s a story that needs to be told in a specific way, as the prose and voiceover intertwine. Also, I told Michael Mack in what format his voice would be used, and I must hold to that. But... who knows, maybe I could release a snippet of it sometime in the near future, because frankly hearing a bit of the story in his voice is fucking awesome.

What does the word Sharmat mean? (01/04/21)

It’s the Devil. Inspired by the rl word Shaitan.

[I'm] the writer that, in fact, gave the title of Sharmat to Dagoth Ur

Michael Kirkbride, did you author Eso's sermon 37? (01/10/21)


On who else came up with Pelinal standing for Prototype Extra-Liminal Interstitial Nirnian Assault Lattice with Kirkbride: (01/14/21)

I never let someone else’s good idea go to waste.

Isn't Pelinal a machine from the future? (01/15/21)

I thought the hints were pretty apparent.

How do you pronounce "Tsaesci"? (01/22/21)


On Padomay being etymologically derived from PSJJJJ in-universe (01/27/21)

PSJJJJ is my contribution as a riff on YHWH in its aspect as unknowable name of God.

How are you supposed to pronounce CHIM? I heard its pronounced as loud as loudly as you can scream it. (02/01/21)


Also true.

What exactly is Horde Mountain? (02/27/21)

In my head, it’s Bruegel’s Tower of Babel running around like a cosmic wire skirt frame across the desert, maniacs on every level talkin shit.

What does Gfeful mean? (02/27/21)

It’s a name, not a descriptor or title of Djaffidd. Djaffidd and Gfeful are separate people, the comma might be tripping you up?

Did Kuhlmann write A Dance in Fire? (03/03/21)

That’s a Ted entry.

Was Trueflame was based on Narsil from LOTR, given they’re both ancient swords shattered during a battle at a volcano millennia before the present? (03/07/21)

No idea. That was Ken, I imagine. He was not not a Tolkien fan, so it could have been inspired by LOTR. Dunno.

On Glorantha as the inspiration for the Dragonfires: (03/09/21)

You got it. Also, anything that gets more fantasy fans aware of Glorantha the better.

Did Old Run from Arena inspire the name for Ald'ruhn? (03/18/21)

Probably..? I know I started using ‘Ald’ as an indicator for old/ancient/first. We were doing a sweep of name changes to the area.

Observations of a fan map of Cathnoquey in 3E 432: (04/06/21)

Llénnöcöcönnèll lol

Was the idea for Imga borrowed from Monkeyfolk from Glorantha for PGE1? (06/25/21)

Definitely borrowed and definitely monkeys.

On early plans for the Elder Council Followup: What happened to the idea of Uriel's heirs being doppelgangers, and was the Morrowind crew aware of Ariella Septim? (07/14/21)

In my romantic notion of how things might have been, I really think Oblivion was poorer for not including the Elder Council stuff, the really elaborate kingmaker role the player would’ve taken on, and a horror vibe to what happened to Septim’s heirs which we had set up way back in Morrowind. I understand why some weren’t fans of all that, but those story threads made the Crisis better to me. It was all this one huge epic tapestry of story genres. But, hey, games are hard and people need to sleep.

Yep, all that stuff. There was talk of holding a torch near important members of the court to see if they cast a human shadow and not some horrible, hunched over clawed thing. There was an invasion from another faction from within.

Got no idea, sorry.