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Confront Skyrim’s Dark Heart in the Greymoor Chapter’s Gothic Storyline

11/05/2020

Learn about the dark tale of monsters and mortals that is the Greymoor storyline and the challenges the development team faces when creating a stand-alone tale that is part of a larger, year-long adventure.

A Dark Conspiracy

In The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor, you can experience a grim tale of ancient, hidden threats and long-forgotten secrets.

 “We wanted to tell a story that leveraged a dark and brooding tone and leaned into the gothic themes,” explains Randy Begel, ESO Senior Writer and primary writer for the Greymoor chapter. “We hope that Greymoor’s long shadows feel oppressive, full of intrigue and danger.”

An ancient evil awaits

Western Skyrim is under attack from an unknown force, and you must unravel the mystery at the heart of a conspiracy that rises from the underground realm of Blackreach. Don’t worry—you don’t have to do it alone since you’re not the only one interested in what is happening in this part of Skyrim.

“After stopping deadly storms conjured from Icereach and an attack on the Skald-King in his palace, Lyris Titanborn has discovered that the Icereach Coven is plotting something in the Western Kingdom as well,” says Begel. “Jorunn the Skald-King (the leader of the Ebonheart Pact) has tasked her with stopping this threat to Skyrim, but his allies are far from welcome in High King Svargrim's lands, and the roots of this conspiracy wind deeper than Blackreach itself.”

Throughout Greymoor’s storyline, you and Lyris work together to combat a monstrous legion and confront the dark heart that plagues the land, and in doing so, discover a plot that threatens not just the home of the Nords, but all of Tamriel.

Writing Monsters

Featuring vampires, werewolves, giants, and witches, the villains in Greymoor’s storyline are some of Tamriel’s most-feared monsters. For the writers, it was a challenge to give memorable voices to these fiends and ensure they felt exceptional.

“I think I’ve written at least five distinct vampire-themed pieces of content for ESO at this point, so I’m well-practiced and completely out of fresh synonyms for blood,” jokes Begel. “The challenge came in both making these antagonists feel unique compared to so many other factions players have faced and making them still feel every bit as terrifying as they deserve. Whether we’ve been successful injecting some new blood into old, familiar foes is for the players to decide, but my hope is that their methods and motives will keep players guessing until the conclusion of our year-long narrative.”

The fearsome vampires of Blackreach

Thankfully, the lore surrounding vampires and werewolves in the Elder Scrolls series is rich, making them unique compared to similar beasts in other fantasy settings and providing the team with plenty of inspiration for their monstrous characters.

“I’ve always found the origins of vampires and werewolves in Nirn being directly tied to the influence of Daedric Princes very interesting,” says Begel. “Though considered diseases, their curses go beyond simple mortal afflictions. They consume their hosts, body and soul. What lengths might one go to to escape such a fate, I wonder?”

Crafting a Year-Long Journey

While a stand-alone story in its own right, the Greymoor questline is also part of the larger, Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long adventure. This adventure begins with the Harrowstorm DLC and continues with the Greymoor Prologue, the Greymoor Chapter, and beyond with two yet-to-be announced DLC game packs.

“The goal is that each release in the year-long narrative tells a story that can stand alone but that also shines as a part of the longer whole,” explains Bill Slavicsek, ESO’s Lead Writer. “It’s a challenging but exciting process that has so far yielded great results for ESO.”

To provide a unique and compelling experience for all kinds of players, the development team works together very early in the process to plan all aspects of the year’s stories. 

“It all starts with the Creative Director, Lead Designer, and myself. They provide guidance as to the type of story they want to see (political, Daedric, Dragons) and the kinds of places they want to go in the world (Elsweyr, Western Skyrim, whatever). Then, I start creating short pitches, exploring the kinds of themes and plots that might be fun and exciting and could only take place at the intersection of those initial ideas.”

After some discussion and debate, the team narrows down contending story ideas before crafting a final approved plan.

Uncover a mystery deep beneath Western Skyrim

Primarily, the team wants to ensure that no matter how you play the year’s content, you’re treated to a compelling storyline that makes sense.

“We approach each of the four releases in the year as potentially a player’s first experience with the content. So, just like the rest of ESO, you can jump in and start playing no matter where you come in,” explains Slavicsek. “The Chapter and the DLCs each tell a complete and parallel story that also leads one to the other, and you can play them in either order. We’re making an Elder Scrolls game, so we try to make sure the content accommodates every play style.”

Of course, if you happen to play all of a year’s content, you get access to a special capper questline that wraps up the year-long narrative, giving you a great reason to play through all of the year’s adventures.

Building a massive, year-long story, while challenging, has its benefits when it comes to crafting a tale, and the team has become adept at these larger, more complex narratives and the opportunity they provide for storytelling.

“Each year-long story gives us more room to introduce and develop characters, create stronger and more meaningful character arcs, and really explore the themes important to both the story we’re telling and the region where the story takes place.”

Journey into Skyrim’s dark heart

The result is a unique experience for ESO’s many different types of players, and one the team hopes is both compelling and fun.

“This is only the second time we’ve done this, and with Dark Heart of Skyrim we took the lessons learned in the Season of the Dragon and applied them to the events occurring in Western Skyrim,” says Slavicsek. “We can’t wait for you to see what happens next!”

Your Story Your Way

In The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor, you’ll experience a compelling, gothic tale that takes you from the royal court of Solitude to the deepest depths of Blackreach. While the Greymoor main storyline is an exciting standalone adventure in its own right, it’s also part of a larger year-long narrative, and how you choose to discover the Dark Heart of Skyrim is completely up to you. Are you excited to play the main questline in the upcoming Greymoor Chapter? Let us know via @TESOnlineInstagram, or Facebook.

Part of the Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long adventure, The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor arrives May 26 for PC/Mac and June 9 for Xbox One and PlayStation®4. Pre-purchase Greymoor now digitally to receive unique bonus rewards and gain immediate access to the Holdbreaker Warhorse in-game mount (digital only—conditions apply). Don't miss out!

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