The period of history which Zenimax Online seeks to exploit as the setting for The Elder Scrolls Online is largely undocumented. Generally referred to as “the interregnum”, the period between the end of the Second Empire in 2E 430 and the ascension of Tiber Septim in 2E 854 was one with no true ruler on the throne of Cyrodiil. It is further described as a dark period in the history of Tamriel, when historians referenced “dark and cumulative losses” and “days and nights of blood and venom”. Roads and cities fell into disrepair, and the Amulet of Kings was lost. The provinces surrounding High Rock sought to exploit the collapse of central power, forming a coalition of city states termed the Daggerfall Covenant that offered a semblance of political stability and paved the road towards economic progress. The nascent Aldmeri Dominion sought to impose order upon the continent through the superiority of Mer. The provinces of Skyrim, Morrowind, and Black Marsh banded together, forming the Ebonheart Pact, to rebuild following years of plague and invasion.
This article details the prominent moments in Elder Scrolls history both preceding and following the Interregnum, in order to better grasp where The Elder Scrolls Online falls in the history of Tamriel. Additionally, we investigate to what degree Zenimax Online may have to modify existing lore in order to fit the needs of the MMO. Please be aware, the following timeline contains some spoilers regarding the plot of past single player games in The Elder Scrolls series.
The 647 Years Before The Interregnum
- 1E 2703 – Akavir invades Cyrodiil. Emperor Reman I unified the province and repelled the invaders, accepted the fealty of the defeated foes. Many Akaviri would remain and serve the new Reman Dynasty.
- 1E 2812 – The Dragonguard begin construction of Alduin’s Wall at Sky Haven Temple following the Winterhold rebellion.
- 1E 2837 – The province of Black Marsh is created after a large portion of the swamplands of Argonia are reclaimed by the Empire.
- 1E 2920 – Emperor Reman Cyrodiil III and his sole heir are assassinated by the Morag Tong. The emperor’s chief advisor, the Akaviri Potentate Versidue-Shaie seized the throne and declared the start of the Second Era.
- 2E 230 – Vanus Galerion leaves the Psijic Order and founds the Mages Guild.
- 2E 283 – Versidue-Shaie declares martial law and destroys all armies in Tamriel existing outside of the Empire’s rule.
- 2E 309 – Elsweyr is founded when the rulers of the Khajiit kingdoms of Pelletine and Anequina marry, merging their kingdoms to create the province.
- 2E 320 – The Akaviri warrior Dinieras-Ves “the Iron” founded The Syffim, a mercenary order which was the precursor to the Fighters Guild in Tamriel.
- 2E 324 – Potentate Versidue-Shaie is murdered in his palace in Elsweyr by the Morag Tong.
- 2E 358 – The first written evidence of the existence of the Dark Brotherhood is found. A hidden note describes a shadowy war between the Morag Tong and its offshoot, the Dark Brotherhood. The organization was likely formed by several radical members of the Morag Tong. Evidence in the journals of Queen Arlimahera of Hegathe implied that the organization had existed for many years before this point in absolute secrecy.
- 2E 430 – Akaviri Potentate Savirien-Chorak and all his heirs were assassinated by the Morag Tong, ending the reign of the Akaviri Potentate and the Second Empire of Cyrodiil.
The Interregnum and The Elder Scrolls Online
- 2E 560 – The Knahaten Flu swept across the southern provinces of Tamriel causing a deadly plague lasting almost 50 years. Argonians possessed a natural immunity to the disease, but other races avoided Black Marsh for many years.
- 2E 572 – Akaviri invaders besiege Morrowind and are defeated when Vivec bestowed upon the Dunmeri people the ability to breathe water for a day, and flooded the province to destroy the invaders.
- 2E 830 – The Aldmeri Dominion is formed as the union of Summerset Isles and Valenwood when the heirs of the Camoran Dynasty began to fight over the Valenwood throne. The alliance would later be joined by the Khajiit province of Elsweyr.
The 477 Years After The Interregnum
- 2E 852 – General Talos (Tiber Septim) leads a daring assault on Sancre Tor, retaking the stronghold against all odds and reclaiming the Amulet of Kings from the tomb of the Remans, where it had been lost since the Second Empire.
- 2E 854 – Tiber Septim ascends to the throne of Cyrodiil when Emperor Cuhlecain is assassinated by a Nightblade from High Rock.
- 2E 864 – Cyrus, the hero of Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard arrives on the island of Stros M’kai, during the Redguard Rebellion.
- 2E 882 – Dagoth Ur and his coven of Ash Vampires awaken underneath Red Mountain, binding themselves to the Heart of Lorkhan. They ambush the Tribunal during their annual pilgrimage to bathe in the Heart’s power, and seal the heart chamber.
- 2E 893 – Barenziah, future Queen Mother of Morrowind is born.
- 2E 896 – Tiber Septim conquers all of Tamriel, officially beginning the Third Era. His 38 year rule constituted a time of lasting peace, justice, and progress throughout Tamriel.
- 3E 38 – Emperor Tiber Septim dies, passing the throne to his son Pelagius. Tiber Septim begins to be venerated as Talos, a new member of the divine pantheon. Worship of the Nine Divines begins.
- 3E 111 – The Knights of the Nine is founded as a devout militant order.
- 3E 399 – The orcish nation of Orsinium is founded by Gortwog gro-Nagorm.
- 3E 399 – Talin, the hero of The Elder Scrolls: Arena combats the betrayal of Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn and rescues Emperor Uriel Septim VII.
- 3E 405 – “The Agent”, hero of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall is sent to investigate the murder of King Lysandus.
- 3E 414 – Vvardenfell is opened for settlement. The island was previously a preserve which was largely uninhabited and undeveloped.
- 3E 427 – The Nerevarine, hero if The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind ends the Blight Curse, slaying Dagoth-Ur and bringing peace to Morrowind.
- 3E 433 – The assassination of Emperor Uriel Septim VII by the Mythic Dawn heralds the beginning of the Oblivion Crisis. The crisis is resolved when the Champion of Cyrodiil, hero of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Martin Septim banish Mehrunes Dagon from Tamriel. Martin’s sacrifice ended the Septim bloodline, and the Amulet of Kings is destroyed. These events marked the end of the Third Era.
How well does the setting fit?
There seem to be only minor incompatibilities between the existing lore and the setting for The Elder Scrolls Online which may need slight corrections in order to accommodate the MMO. The timing surrounding the formation of the Aldmeri Dominion may need to be accelerated slightly in order to not have the MMO interfere with pivotal events towards the end of the Second Era. The Orcish nation of Orsinium does not exist at this point in the timeline, so it will be interesting to see what ZOS does with the province of High Rock. Likewise, Vvardenfell is not yet populated, so whether any of the iconic locations from Morrowind make it into the MMO remains to be seen. The southern areas of Blackmarsh are recovering from a period of deadly plague, during which non-Argonians avoided the area. The recent reopening of Blackmarsh to other races could certainly play a role in the story for the Ebonheart Pact.
The biggest storytelling challenge, in my opinion, is the aggregating of Morrowind, Skyrim, and Black Marsh into a unified alliance. The Akaviri invasion which might serve as a natural catalyst for such a political alliance is historically reported as only affecting Morrowind. While invasion was dispatched by Vivec with dramatic effect, the storytellers at Zenimax Online may extend and magnify the severity of the Akaviri presence such that it threatened all three provinces, inspiring them towards collective unity. What do you think about the setting for TESO, will you forgive some slight bending of history in order to accomodate the game? How do you think Zenimax Online could combine existing lore with new storytelling to fit the MMO into the history of Tamriel?