Lore:Sheogorath

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Sheogorath, in his throne room in the Shivering Isles
"I am a part of you, little mortal. I am a shadow in your subconscious, a blemish on your fragile little psyche. You know me. You just don't know it ... You can call me Ann Marie. But only if you're partial to being flayed alive and having an angry immortal skip rope with your entrails. If not, then call me Sheogorath, Daedric Prince of Madness. Charmed." — Sheogorath[1]

Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of Madness,[2] Fourth Corner of the House of Troubles,[3] the Skooma Cat,[4] Lord of the Never-There, and Sovereign of the Shivering Isles.[5][nb 1] His motives are said to be unknowable.[2] He is sometimes referred to as the Mad Star, the Mad Lord, the Mad One, and the Mad God among other things.[6][7][8] His realm, best known as the Shivering Isles,[9] has also been called the Madhouse. It's believed that those who go there lose their sanity forever.[10][nb 2] Of course, only the Mad God himself may decide who has the privilege to enter.[11] The Golden Saints, or Aureals, and Dark Seducers, or Mazken, are his servants.[12] The Mad God typically manifests on Nirn as a seemingly harmless, well-dressed man often carrying a cane, a guise so prevalent it has actually been coined "Gentleman With a Cane".[13] "Fearful obeisance" of Sheogorath is widespread in Tamriel, and he plays an important part in Dunmeri religious practice.[14][15]

History[edit]

"A change is coming. Everything changes. Even Daedric Princes. Especially Daedric Princes."[16]

Sheogorath was one of four Daedric Princes first mentioned in written history.[17] They say he is the "Sithis-shaped hole" of the world brought into being when Lorkhan's divine spark was removed.[14] One superstition is to avoid thunderstorms, for they belong to Sheogorath.[7][nb 3] Another is that madmen are driven to that state by speaking with Sheogorath, who gives them advice and information which is beyond their capacity to know.[18] History is littered with stories of worshippers of Sheogorath doing great harm to themselves and others,[19] as well as mortals succumbing to madness thanks to his efforts and those of other daedra.[20][21] Such people are said to be "touched by Sheogorath",[22] or "Sheogorath-kissed".[23]

The stories of Sheogorath[edit]

Legends of Sheogorath abound. Sheogorath himself claims to have spent his first three to four thousand years of existence tormenting butterflies, before eventually growing out of it.[4] Butterflies are now associated with him, serving as a sign of his influence.[24] New Sheoth, the divided capital of the Shivering Isles, is said to have been founded at his whim.[11] Myths of Sheogorath is an anthology of tales: "Sheogorath Invents Music" (from the body parts of a young woman), "Sheogorath and King Lyandir" (who was killed by his deranged son after his entire kingdom fell to madness), and "The Contest of Wills" (which Sheogorath wins without even trying). Fall of Vitharn tells the tale of a Count in the Shivering Isles who disrespected Sheogorath, and who Sheogorath rewarded with an overabundance of madness in his family, leading to their demise. 16 Accords of Madness are stories of Sheogorath's encounters and inevitable triumphs over other Daedric Princes, such as besting Hircine in a duel of champion beasts (by letting Hircine's beast run itself to death), winning a wager with Vaermina (by doing nothing), and claiming the soul of an Orc who had murdered one of his followers (by letting Malacath do the work and kill the Orc, who turned out to be Malacath's own son). The general theme is that he lets his opponents defeat themselves, remaining impervious and yet doing relatively little unless he's in a bout of (often violent) creativity.

Sheogorath and Talym Rend
The Prince of Madness driven to madness

Although Sheogorath is known to outplay his opponents, legends tell of a Dunmer by the name of Talym Rend who beat the Mad God at his own game. Talym struck a deal with Sheogorath: make him forget his involvement in the death of his son, Novos. Sheogorath agreed, then manipulated him into thinking he was fighting to cure his son of madness instead.[25] The Prince requested three souls to be driven mad in return for restoring Novos to sanity. When he had done as directed, Talym returned home only to realize that Novos had been dead the entire time. Sheogorath denied Talym another audience when he returned to the Shivering Isles, and Talym wandered around the realm aimlessly, slowly driving himself mad with unanswered questions. Eventually, he regained a semblance of composure and journeyed to Knifepoint Hollow. There, Talym was informed by Dyus, the librarian of Jyggalag, that he might gain an audience with Sheogorath if he retrieved an artifact of Jyggalag. Sheogorath finally granted Talym an audience when he retrieved the Sword of Jyggalag, and used the Memory Wand on him to reveal Talym's original intent and memories. Sheogorath mocked Talym, and in his anger he dueled the Prince. Talym turned the Memory Wand against Sheogorath and forced him to recall his memories of his previous incarnation: the Daedric Prince of Order, Jyggalag. The memories pained Sheogorath, who pleaded with Talym to stop. He fulfilled Talym's wishes and let him and his companions free from his grasp.[26]

The Blessings of Sheogorath, a prayer among Sheogorath worshippers, asserts that without Sheogorath, "all Thought would be linear and all Feeling would be fleeting". They praise him because it is Sheogorath "who tricks us when we are foolish, punishes us when we are wrong, tortures us when we are unmindful, and loves us in our imperfection".

Cultural Madness[edit]

Shrine to Sheogorath in Morrowind
Sheogorath as the Skooma Cat

The Chimer believed that Sheogorath was one of the Daedra to accompany them on their exodus to Morrowind.[14][15] However, when the Tribunal Temple took power in Morrowind, Sheogorath, as well as Mehrunes Dagon, Malacath, and Molag Bal, became known as one of the "Four Corners of the House of Troubles" to the Dunmer. He is said to have rebelled against the Tribunal, and this is why worship of Sheogorath became punishable by death.[15][nb 4] Nevertheless, Vivec apparently made an agreement with Sheogorath to protect his people from madness, an agreement the Dunmer must occasionally renew by performing the Pilgrimages of the Four Corners. Sheogorath's shrines were abandoned, but many have remained standing into modern times.[27] Legends say Daedra Lords such as Sheogorath built the great shrines themselves because mortals could not build anything grand enough to suit them.[8]

Dunmer believe Sheogorath tests them for psychological weakness. In many legends he is called upon by one Dunmer faction against another, though whether he betrays or helps those who call him proves unpredictable. They often associate him with the fear other races have of them, especially those who might prove useful allies.[15] Though nascent for thousands of years in Morrowind, Sheogorath worship began picking up again following the Armistice with the Empire, and his shrines began receiving more visitors as more and more Dunmer fell into "dark worship".[28]

It is written that when he rebelled against the Tribunal, Sheogorath tricked the moon Baar Dau, inspiring it to hurl itself at the city of Vivec, and justified his actions by claiming Vivec was built in mockery of the heavens. Vivec is then said to have frozen Baar Dau in its descent with one gesture; the moon then swore itself to the Tribunal's service forever.[6] After the Nerevarine released the heart of Lorkhan and Vivec disappeared, Baar Dau eventually resumed its descent, destroying Vivec City and instigating the disasters of the Red Year.[29]

Daedric cultists visit the Shrine of Sheogorath during the Festival of the Mad; this tradition may be local to Valenwood.[30]

Sheogorath is one of the many prominent Daedric Princes in Khajiiti culture.[14] To them, he is "Sheggorath", the Skooma Cat (for nothing is madder than a cat on skooma).[31] The form of an Alfiq is chosen by Sheogorath when he dons the identity of the Skooma Cat, but he acts more like a common housecat rather than an Alfiq. Examples include engaging in purring or being easily distracted by yarn.[4]

The Greymarch[edit]

Jyggalag, as seen in the Shivering Isles
"The Greymarch comes, and Jyggalag walks. Or runs. Never skips, sidles, or struts. Mostly, he just destroys everything around him."[16]

Sheogorath was, in fact, Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order. The story goes that Jyggalag had, in times beyond memory, grown in power so much that the other Daedric princes grew jealous and fearful. They cursed Jyggalag to live as Sheogorath, the incarnation of the thing he hated most. At the end of every Era, Jyggalag was allowed to take on his true form once again, and reconquer his lands, an event known as the Greymarch. After that, however, he would be transformed back into Sheogorath, and Sheogorath would spread madness upon his lands once more.[9]

The Champion of Cyrodiil reportedly ended the cycle by defeating Jyggalag during the Greymarch at the end of the Third Era. This released Jyggalag from his curse, allowing him to remain in his true form instead of transforming back into Sheogorath. After defeating Jyggalag, the mortal Champion of Cyrodiil became Sheogorath.[9] The "Gentleman With a Cane" continues to stroll through Tamriel, and, as always, one can never be sure what his visits will bring.[32]

Artifacts[edit]

"Take this trinket of mine. Perhaps it will serve you well. Or look lovely on your corpse."[16]

Below are a variety of artifacts that are associated with Sheogorath. Aside from these, Sheogorath has also stolen the artifacts of other Daedric Princes in the past. The most notable of these occurrences is the wave of thefts he did in 2E 583, which resulted from his boredom of the bloodshed in the Three Banners War. To mend his boredom, he stole other Prince's artifacts for the purpose of putting a spin of Daedric interference, and to mess with his Daedric siblings for the fun of keeping them on their guard.[33]

Wabbajack[edit]

The Wabbajack is a Daedric artifact created by the Daedric Prince Sheogorath. It takes the appearance of a Daedric staff, sometimes engraved with angry gaping faces at the top. As befits the Prince of Madness, his artifact is unpredictable in its effects. The staff has the power to transform its target into a completely random creature. This can be helpful to the wielder, turning a fearsome opponent into a docile animal; similarly, it can be detrimental, transforming a relatively weak enemy into a powerful monster. The staff can produce other effects, such as damaging, healing, turning to stone, or instantly killing the target. The staff's victims that are turned into animals, and are cooked after the fact, become the meat known as Wabbajerky. The meat as created debates on whether eating it would be considered cannibalism. Sheogorath finds only a few worthy of Wabbajack's "absurdly sweet power".

Fork of Horripilation[edit]

The Fork of Horripilation

The Fork of Horripilation is a cursed artifact created by the Daedric Prince Sheogorath, who refers to it affectionately as Forky. In appearance and in function, it is a mundane iron fork. However, it is imbued with an enchantment which excites and synergizes magicka around it, and can produce dramatic results when held by certain people. Sheogorath is fond of forcing mortals to use it as a weapon, in which case it curses the wielder with Fork's Wound, a magical effect which stunts the wielder's magicka or drains it completely. The term horripilation refers to the standing of hairs on end due to cold, fear, or excitement. In the context of the fork, excitement arises within Sheogorath when he convinces mortals to use the fork, while fear is evoked in mortals from just touching it, resulting in horripilation. The Fork smells lightly of roast beef.

Gambolpuddy[edit]

The glove Gambolpuddy makes the wearer both stronger and weaker. It was last seen in the city of Ald Daedroth in Morrowind. The Nerevarine is thought to have offered this artifact to Sheogorath during a pilgrimage.[27]

Staff of Sheogorath[edit]

The Staff of Sheogorath, a powerful Daedric artifact, is the symbol of the Daedric Prince of Madness. It contains the power of the Shivering Isles, and is needed to assume the title of Mad God and sit upon the Throne of Madness. The Staff is the namesake of Sheogorath. In its traditional appearance, the Staff is a simple walking stick, often with an eyeball attached to the top. During each Greymarch, the Staff's power waned and it became a useless twig. This marked the beginning of Sheogorath's transformation into Jyggalag.

Staff of the Everscamp[edit]

The Staff of the Everscamp is a Daedric staff associated with Sheogorath. Once the staff is activated by reading its engraved rune, four non-hostile Everscamps appear and follow the staff's bearer. The staff's bearer is no longer able to put down or get rid of the staff. There are only two ways to get rid of the staff: find someone else who is willing to take it, or return to its original location, namely the shrine of Sheogorath in Darkfathom Cave.

Folium Discognitum[edit]

The Folium Discognitum is a Daedric artifact created by Sheogorath. It is a tome of knowledge, filled with insights compiled from the ramblings of madmen. The pages bear near incomprehensible scrawls that move to avoid your gaze when read. The power obtained from reading these insights is the equivalent of absorbing at least six skyshards.

Sheogorath has been known to offer the tome to mortals as part of a deal. Arch-Mage Shalidor, ever hungry for knowledge, traded the island of Eyevea for the tome in the First Era. He went on to regret the deal, and in 2E 582 he returned to Tamriel to win back Eyevea from Sheogorath. Valaste, the Mages Guild's Master of Incunabula who aided Shalidor in his attempt, was slowly driven mad by Sheogorath. When the time came to reclaim the island, the Mad God gave an adept of the guild the choice to either restore Valaste's sanity, or take the Folium and allow Valaste to remain in the Shivering Isles for eternity. It is unknown which option was taken.

Neb-Crescen[edit]

16 Accords of Madness makes reference to this weapon, saying the blade gives warriors a compulsion to kill everyone when they hold it. Malacath killed his son while wielding it.[34]

Memory Wand[edit]

The Memory Wand is an artifact that Sheogorath uses to manipulate people's memories.[25] It was turned against him, causing him to go insane in the memories surrounding his previous existence as the Daedric Prince of Order, Jyggalag.[35][26]

The Shivering Isles[edit]

"Change will preserve us! It is the lifeblood of the Isles. It will move mountains! It will mount movements!"[16]
SI-quest-Symbols of Office 03.jpg
SI-npc-Sheogorath Cane.jpg

The Shivering Isles, also called the Madhouse or the Asylums, is the Daedric realm of Sheogorath, Prince of Madness. The realm consists of a main landmass surrounded by a group of smaller islands, the area of which is divided in half: the northern half of these lands is called Mania, and the southern half Dementia. This divide represents Sheogorath's split personality, the "two shades of madness". The isles are inhabited by mortals as well as Daedra, but they have been driven insane.

At the end of the Third Era, a mysterious portal opened on an island in Niben Bay which led to the Isles. The realm was reported to be similar to other societies in Tamriel - but with obvious and glaring exceptions, of course. The mentally ill, bifurcated populace held a range of beliefs about Sheogorath.[9] Some zealots revered him as a living god,[36] while others, labeled heretics, thought he was nothing more than a mortal impostor.[37] Some urged armed uprising,[38] and many committed various deranged acts in attempts to gain his favor.[9]

All that's agreed upon is that the Sovereign of the Shivering Isles is, above all, unpredictable. He has been known to sentence a man to death for the crime of trying to grow a beard.[5] His favorite threat is one written on the back of an Argonian concubine.[1] And at last report, the Lord of Madness was returning from a holiday within the mind of his favorite emperor, Pelagius Septim III.[32]

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^  Sheogorath is the alter ego of ex-developer Ted Peterson. Not surprisingly, Sheogorath's name comes from "Theodore", which is the longer version of the name Ted.[UOL 1]
  2. ^  Sheogorath's realm has also been called the Asylums.[UOL 2]
  3. ^  Sheogorath is one of the easiest Daedric Princes to summon. Although his official summoning date is Mad Pelagius day, the 2nd of Sun's Dawn, Sheogorath can be summoned any time there is a storm.
  4. ^  The Changed Ones says that it was actually Boethiah who taught the Changed Ones what items they needed to "bury in the Corners", presumably referring to the Chimer and the Four Corners of the House of Troubles.

See Also[edit]

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sheogorath's dialogue in Skyrim
  2. ^ a b The Book of Daedra
  3. ^ Tholer Saryoni's dialogue in Morrowind
  4. ^ a b c Skooma Cat's appearance in ESO: Elsweyr
  5. ^ a b Death Decree
  6. ^ a b The Pilgrim's PathTribunal Temple
  7. ^ a b Invocation of AzuraSigillah Parate
  8. ^ a b Sinnammu Mirpal's dialogue in Morrowind
  9. ^ a b c d e Events of The Shivering Isles
  10. ^ The Doors of OblivionSeif-ij Hidja
  11. ^ a b Guide to New SheothBrenith Aralyn
  12. ^ Saints and SeducersAndoche Marie
  13. ^ Myths of SheogorathMymophonus
  14. ^ a b c d Varieties of Faith...Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  15. ^ a b c d The House of Troubles
  16. ^ a b c d Sheogorath's dialogue in Shivering Isles
  17. ^ On OblivionMorian Zenas
  18. ^ Chance's FollyZylmoc Golge
  19. ^ The Liturgy of AfflictionAnias Gae (transcribed)
  20. ^ FeyfolkenWaughin Jarth
  21. ^ Fall of Vitharn
  22. ^ Rislav The RighteousSinjin
  23. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: All the Eras of Man, A Comprehensive History of our HistoryImperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
  24. ^ Elazura's and Naraku dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
  25. ^ a b Dialogue in the mission The Final Battle in Isle of Madness
  26. ^ a b Events of Isle of Madness
  27. ^ a b Events of Morrowind
  28. ^ Dunmer dialogue in Morrowind
  29. ^ The Infernal City — Gregory Keyes
  30. ^ Gwinas's dialogue in Oblivion
  31. ^ Words of Clan Mother AhnissiClan Mother Ahnissi
  32. ^ a b Events of Skyrim
  33. ^ Sheogorath's dialogue in the quest Chaos Magic in ESO
  34. ^ 16 Accords of Madness
  35. ^ Dialogue in the mission A Reckoning in Isle of Madness
  36. ^ Zealotry
  37. ^ Heretical Thoughts
  38. ^ Bark and Sap

Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.

  1. ^ Daggerfacts at The Imperial Library
  2. ^ Imperial Census of Daedra Lords at The Imperial Library