A Letter to the Community from ESO's Loremaster

02/06/2019

As the scrolls foretold, our Loremaster is leaving to begin his next great adventure. Read a farewell letter from Loremaster Lawrence Schick to the ESO community.


For family reasons, I am leaving ZeniMax Online Studios and my role as The Elder Scrolls Online’s Loremaster after a long and happy tenure in the position. The Community team asked me to write a farewell letter about my time wrangling the lore of Tamriel for ESO.

Well, I’m not going to do that! Instead of writing about me and my time contributing to the lore-at-large, I’m going to write about you, the community of ESO players, and what YOU mean to the lore. If you want to know who I am and what ESO was for me, you can read it between the lines of this brief essay.

Tamriel is an unusual fantasy world setting in that it was created over time by many different contributors rather than by one single vision. At some point, the folks at Bethesda Game Studios realized that, for an interactive world, that patchwork background was actually a virtue rather than a liability, something that should be recognized and incorporated into Tamriel’s design. So the brain trust decided that all of the Elder Scrolls world’s history, mythology, and culture—its lore, in short—would be delivered, not from on high, but always from the viewpoints of characters who inhabited the world they were describing. And these descriptions might vary, or even contradict each other, leaving it up to the players to decide what was and wasn’t true.

Tamriel is a world where all history, past and future, is described in the ever-shifting texts of the mysterious Elder Scrolls, which tell always of what might be rather than of what is. And this is a uniquely suitable setting for a multiplayer online game that hosts players of many cultures and backgrounds. What could be better for characters in a role-playing game than an expansive world of many different cultures, each with its own history and myths, so you can be whoever you want to be? That sounds great—but what should your character believe is really true? Since all the stories of this world come from characters in the setting itself, and you can listen to them and read their books, you can decide that for yourself. And whatever that is, it’s as right as any other character’s beliefs, player or non-player, because your character lives in the same world they do.

And what your character does, and says, and believes, becomes part of that world. For you, and whoever else shares the experience, what happened is now part of the lore. The non-player characters are all there, ready to share their stories with you, but it’s you who makes those stories live, because your character has agency and meaningful choices where the NPCs do not. Moreover, what your character does persists for you, and the stories you’ve told and the experiences you’ve shared with your friends live on in your own memories. You just added to the history of Tamriel.

And not just in your memories, because Tamriel is a world that continues in constant development, and where that world goes next depends upon what you did and how you reacted to it! The game devs pay close attention to what you liked and what you didn’t. Recurring characters like Razum-dar and Naryu Virian don’t come back because the game devs think they should, they recur because YOU told the game devs that your experiences with those characters were significant and memorable. What you do in Tamriel, and how you feel about what you did, steers the direction of future development.

I hope you can see how important the community’s contribution is to ESO and our collective world of Tamriel. The lore of the Elder Scrolls is a vast mosaic scattered with colorful story-stones, and over time the game devs and the players, in an ongoing dialogue, fill in the space between with new stories and experiences that interconnect with the old ones and make the world richer and more complex.

So be the person in Tamriel whom you want to be, coming from the culture you want to role-play, with the belief system that best expresses your character’s personality and background. Whoever you want to be, there’s a place for you here. The lore is yours.

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To Lawrence from all of us here at ZOS, thank you for guiding us through the incredible and often contradictory world of the Elder Scrolls. Without your knowledge, passion and, yes, patience, our game would not be what it is today. Thank you!

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