Tamriel Foundry member and contributor Potentate has submitted a nice overview of the geographical diversity of Cyrodiil, the central and objective province in The Elder Scrolls Online. Read his summary to learn about some of the tactical nuances that will face each of the game’s three alliances in ESO’s alliance war.
From the rocky mountains of High Rock to the swamps of the Black Marsh, Tamriel is home to many provinces but one stands above all others; Cyrodiil. Described by some as the heartland of Tamriel, others perceive it as the source of corruption throughout the continent.
Cyrodiil is the large central province which resides in the middle of Tamriel, sharing borders with Skyrim, Hammerfell, Black Marsh, Morrowind, Elsweyr and Valenwood. The geographic proximity to the homelands of Tamriel’s many races, as well as its importance for politics and trade give the lands of Cyrodiil a tremendous significance to the continent. Sometimes the province has provided central unifying presence, while during other more turbulent eras Cyrodiil has provided the main source of strife and warfare, due to its advantageous location.
Cyrodiil is now ruled by the Empress Regent Clivia Tharn. The Tharns do not carry the blood of the dragons, which means that the agreement Akatosh had with Alessia is now broken and that Daedra are free to pass into Nirn. This raises an interesting question; do the leaders of the three alliances carry dragon blood? If not, who can turn back the hordes of Oblivion and protect Nirn from Daedric incursion?
A Brief History of Cyrodiil
Though now it is home to the Imperials, Cyrodiil used to be the homeland of the Ayleids, the heartland high elves. During the 1st Era a group of elves separated from their kinsmen in the Summerset Isles and resettled in Cyrodiil where they established the the Ayleid Empire.
The Ayleid government made its seat on the main island on Lake Rumare, where the Imperial City now stands. During the golden days of the Ayleid Empire, they became known across the lands for their open dealings with Daedric princes, who favoured the Ayleids in return for their worship. The elves were granted an army of Daedric warriors to suppress their human slaves from uprising. In time a baseborn human female named Alessia prayed to the god of time, Akatosh, for salvation from the Ayleid Empire and their Daedric army. Akatosh responded by imparting Alessia with the bloodline of the dragon, vowing that as long as the blood of the dragon sat upon the throne the tides of Daedra and un-dead would be stemmed and locked away from helping their Ayleid masters. This intervention allowed the humans to rise up and wage war upon the Ayleids. Ultimately, the elves were defeated and retreated to their great castles built underground or fled from their homeland. In the end, the once great Ayleid Empire was never heard from again.
After the decline of the Ayleids, Alessia became known as the slave queen, starting the first Cyrodilic Empire. Upon her death she was proclaimed as the first human saint.
The Landscape of the Crown
Cyrodiil is a pastoral province with green lush grass and sturdy tress where lakes reflect the history of the land. Under this serene facade, there is also a dark presence in the land with the bones of Ayleid buildings rise from the earth like gravestones marking the failure of their empire.
The Nibenay Basin
The Nibenay Basin is a region which borders Morrowind to the east, separated by the rugged Valus Mountains. It is divided by two large rivers, the Silverfish and the Reed. The land itself is open and simple with farms dotting the area. Cheydinhal is the primary city of the region, towards the northern end of the Basin. The southern end of the Nibenay Basin extends into Blackwood, separating Blackmarsh from Elsweyr with the port city of Leyawiin.
The Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is home to the mighty city of Anvil, which is one of the major port cities in Tamriel, and one of two ports in Cyrodiil. The region is predominately farmland, and the city of Kvatch presides inland from Anvil. To the northwest lurks the Garlas Malatar, an Ayleid stronghold that is sealed away, its underground complex left untouched by the world outside.
The southern border of Cyrodiil with northeast Valenwood and northern Elsweyr is called The West Weald, an open country side with many farmers living in the area. The city of Skingrad is the primary stronghold of the region.
The Colovian Highlands separate Cyrodiil from the Daggerfall province of Hammerfell, and is home to the iconic city of Chorrol. The Highlands are a hilly region with mountains and forests dotting the landscape.Blackwood
Blackwood is a swampland which joins up with the Black Marsh home of the Argonians. As the land being much of a swamp and be connected to the Black Marsh the area itself is mostly left untouched by the Imperials.
The Great Forest and Heartlands
The Imperial City itself is surrounded to the northwest by the Great Forest which grows on the border between Elsweyr and Cyrodiil. These dense woods are home to caves, castles, and Daedric shrines. To the northeast likes the Heartlands, a pastoral treasure providing a considerable portion of Tamriel’s agricultural production.
The Jerall Mountains
The Jerall Mountains shield Cyrodiil from the freezing harsh winds of Skyrim. The mountain peaks and the danger they contain make these peaks ideal locations for the shrines of Azura, Hermaeus Mora and Namira which are hidden away from the eyes below. The primarily Nordic city of Bruma is stationed below the mountain peaks.
White Gold Tower
The White Gold Tower is arguably the most important structure on Nirn. The tower was originally constructed by the Aldmer, but it ultimately fell into possession of the Ayleids who used this as the epicenter and beacon of their power. It is located at the heart of the Imperial City, where this golden tower casts its shadow across the whole of Cyrodiil. During peacetime, the Emperor and the Elder Council rule from While Gold Tower. It is also home to several Elder Scrolls themselves, which are locked away and guarded by the blind Moth Priests are their caretakers.
Though never official sated, it is speculated that the tower itself might be more than just a structure but also a symbol of power required to keep Mundus from dissolving back into the darkness of Oblivion. Though we may never learn the true purpose of White Gold Tower we do know that blood will always be spilled to gain it’s possession.
The State of the Empire
At the time of Elder Scrolls Online the entirety of Cyrodiil is swept-up in a war between three political alliances, while simultaneously suffering under the invasion of Molag Bal. The Prince of Domination has transformed the once lush and Utopian landscape into a battlefield where the sky turns as dark as Coldharbour itself. Molag Bal’s dark anchors pull the land towards his grasp of Molag Bal while his agent Mannimarco transforms the corpses of fallen soldiers, enslaving them for his undead army. Sensing weakness, evil, and opportunity the three alliances swarm towards Cyrodiil to protect, conquer, and seize power.
As players who travel to Cyrodiil, we will be put in to a hostile war-zone; at any time subject to attack from soldiers of the rival factions or the undead hordes of Mannimarco’s army and the invading Daedra that lead them. Of course if you are the unlucky sort you could simply be squashed by a Dark Anchor falling from the sky.
For self-interested players there is abundant opportunity of finding new areas and wealth in Cyrodiil, however while completing quests there it is likely that you will encounter resistance from enemy players intent on siezing new lands for their alliance.
The Alliance War
We know that Cyrodiil is the epicenter of conflict and the main setting for endgame PvP in The Elder Scrolls Online. In this ongoing war, each faction has established a foothold in its own portion of the province. The likely distribution of these footholds are the Aldmeri Dominion establishing a base of operations in the cities of Skingrad and Bravil, the Daggerfall Covenant claiming Chorrol and Anvil, while The Ebonheart Pact might contest Bruma and Cheydinhal.
The Aldmeri Dominion enjoys a tactical advantage because the Niben River conveniently blocks any advance from the Ebonheart Pact. The Daggerfall Covenant shares a much smaller border with the central province, but this could be construed as an advantage, allowing them to better defend their homelands. Additionally, the Daggerfall Covenant are exposed on both sides to aggression from Ebonheart or Aldmeri foes without intervening geographical barriers restricting troop movement. One interesting possible advantage is the fact that the main thoroughfare into the Imperial City faces directly towards the heart of Daggerfall territory, perhaps giving them a more direct approach once the Imperial City becomes an active AvA objective. Lastly, the Ebonheart Pact seems to have the largest territorial advantage, as well as the tactical benefit of being separated from the Aldmeri dominion by the Niben Bay. It will certainly be interesting to see how the geographic diversity of Cyrodiil affects the tactical opportunities of each of the game’s three alliances.
Many thanks to Potentate for his informative article. Let’s hear what you all think about the prospects for Cyrodiil in ESO. How do you think the geography of the province will play into the tactics employed in AvA combat. Do you think any one alliance has an inherent geographic advantage? What do you think will be the key cities, fortresses and ruins that we will fight over? Is there any landmark from Oblivion you specifically hope makes it into ESO? Let us know in the comments section below!