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If like me you are new to the Elder Scrolls series and basically Skyrim is your first, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the vastness of its existing world, previous history and the depth the game has. They don’t exactly feature a “previously before on Elder Scrolls” at the beginning either. So in a quest to help matched by equal fascination of the amazing story behind the world of the Elder Scrolls, I thought I would put together (according to my best abilities and depending on my current progress in the game) this spoiler-free skinny about it to get you up to speed so you can enjoy the game even more and develop further appreciation to this immense effort by Bethesda, the game developer.

My sources of information have been mostly the game as I make progress , especially through believe it or not the books in it (yes I did bother to skim through every book I found), in addition to a couple of online sites and forums (map is from tesnexus.com).

Just so you know, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is an action open map RPG available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. It is the 5th in the series.

Basically this fictitious world exists on a planet called Nim, a continent called Tamriel to be exact. Tamriel is inhabited by many races and creatures, each of them settled in a region within the continent. However like today’s world, Tamriel is globalized and you will find that most of the regions have mixed sets of residents.

Map of Tamriel

The regions are (refer to the map above):

  • Cyrodiil: home of the imperials and the capital of the empire – a human race.
  • Skyrim: home of the Nords – a human race.
  • Summerset Isle: home of the Altmer – the high elves.
  • High Rock: home of the Bretons – a human race and the Orsimer (Orcs).
  • Hammerfell: home of the Redguards – a human race.
  • Valenwood: home of the Bosmer – the wood elves.
  • Elsweyr: home of the Khajit – a feline race (cat like).
  • Argonia (Black Marsh): home of the Argonians – a reptilian race.
  • Morrowind: home of the Dunmer – the dark elves.

The game obviously takes place in the Skyrim region where you will encounter individuals from all these races. Skyrim is also divided into many main cities and small villages. You will also choose to build your character based on any race you prefer. Each race has its own unique traits and a different set of capabilities which you will be informed about in the game. There are other types of creatures as well like beasts, spirits, and undead which you encounter all over the map.

Tamriel was once a unified empire but you will learn that after the oblivion crisis, a war started between the elves and the humans over religious differences (a god named Talos, an ancient Nord hero who had god-like abilities. Nords worship him, elves refuse to recognize him as a god as to them he is a mere mortal human). The war resulted in Summerset Isle and Valenwood separating from the empire to form the Aldmeri Dominion (Home of the elves), while the remaining cities stayed as part of the empire. At the risk of losing the war, the empire elected to end it in through a peace treaty agreeing to overthrow the worship of Talos.

Oblivion is a world outside of Tamriel, it is home of the Daedra – evil god creatures.

The game takes place 200 years after the Oblivion crisis – which is the story of Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. The game is not a sequel but a continuity of the story.
The oblivion crisis has been mentioned twice now and you must be wondering what the hell that is. In summary it is what happened when the Daedra tried to take over Tamriel when one of their gods figured out a way to open portals between both worlds Oblivion and Tamriel. He was of course aided by some worshippers in Tamriel. Luckily though they were able to stop this invasion and close these oblivion gates. The result of the Oblivion Crisis was the death of the emperor and with him the end of the Septim Dynasty (Nordic bloodline) and the rise of a new blood line to the throne, not to mention the division of the Empire shortly after that because of the Thalmor war. Which war? Read again two paragraphs up.

To add a layer and more complexity to all of this; when you start playing Skyrim, the first thing you actually find out is that there is a civil war going on in the Empire. Some Nord cities in Skyrim are rebelling against the empire! They are not exactly happy with the deal the empire struck with the dominion to stop the worship of Talos. They are deeply insulted that their Nordic god has been compromised, and they are not exactly big fans of the Thalmor (the elves who form the governing body of the Aldmeri Dominion) or the Imperials (human citizens of Cyrodiil and new rulers of the Empire). Their aim is to free Skyrim from the imperials and declare independence from the Empire. This revolution is led by a man called Ulfric Stormcloack.

The main story and event is actually the return of the dragons – creatures that were banished long time ago from the empire that they were thought to be legends and children stories, with Nords convinced that they never existed.

So there you go! Empire vs. Aldmeri Dominion, civil war, and Dragons! I hope this gives you an idea about the massiveness of the game and the number of quests and missions there is to play even before you decide to explore the map and find your own quests!

The game is not linear; you can start gazillion quests simultaneously and park them as you wish, you can also explore the world freely. The choices you make though affect the events of the game and the way the main storyline/quest unfolds. You have to make a choice about something in Skyrim approximately every 5 minutes so good luck.

If you like epic Myth and Legends like The Lord of the Rings, The Game of Thrones and what have you, you will love this game. But beware, it is addictive and extremely demanding and time consuming. We are talking about hundreds of hours of game play here.

Happy Gaming!

5 Comments to “Skyrim: Essential background information”

  1. Firass Says:

    Are you playing it on pc or ps3?

  2. Mazen Says:

    PC and it’s been amazing. I wanted to get it for Xbox but it was out of stock with no clear date of restocking, but didn’t regret the PC choice a signle bit.

    After research actually apparently the loading times for Xbox and PS3 are notorious :)

  3. Mohamad Says:

    I uninstalled Skyrim two days ago. I just had to take a decision because it started to burn me out. That’s why i don’t like such games, you just can’t stop playing.

    But anyways, great game! definitely one of the greatest games in 2011.

  4. Derien Says:

    honestly this is one of the best game series ive ever played. the best thing about it is that its not one of those games where u play 4 a month or 2 and get rid of it, it can take years 4 u to get bored it if ur time managed. if skyrim hadnt came out i would still, till this day, play oblivion because there is still so much unexploited areas and activities its mind blowing. i cant wait for another one :)

  5. jhon Says:

    I love skyrim but its awesome when my bro comes over we play on computer :3

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