Oblivion Lore for the Culturally Inept (Part: One of Two)
For those “low-brows with little education or culture.” (AKA: Oblivion Lore for the Culturally Inept)
Okay, so the purpose of this is to attempt to educate first-time players of the TES series. I know it’s a little late coming, but I’ve written this for someone in particular, and figured that it can benefit others as well. Sometimes people don’t like to relax and listen to the FULLY-VOICED DIALOGUE to fill in the gaps in their understanding, so here’s a quick and dirty run-down. I’d like to include all possible quests and the lore required for n00bs to understand them, but that’s waay too ambitious of a task. So, for now I’ll take care of the Main Quest, since that’s what most people (especially those unaccustomed to sandbox RPGs) will be playing through. I will go quest by quest (Please, don’t even ask—of course there will probably be spoilers!) and provide any necessary lore information to help you better understand the game’s politics and NPC behavior.
First, read this hurr: Oblivion: First-Time Players. If you’ve never played a TES game before, this should help you understand the mechanics at the very least. Moving on…
Escape from Prison:
Here I’ll take a moment to introduce some generalized lore, since there’s not much “education” needed for hackin’ and a slashin’.
- You’re in Cyrodiil, which is the native land of the Imperials. As such, you will see many Imperials in places of authority, but there is a relative mix of the other Tamrielic races present. Cyrodiil is located in Tamriel (which is the name of this empire) which is pretty much one mega-continent aside from the Summerset Isles. Cyrodiil is also home of the empire’s capital city (appropriately named the Imperial City) where the Emperor (Uriel Septim VII) resides. Cyrodiil has nine major cities each governed by a Count(ess). In the Emperor’s absence, the Empire is ruled by the Elder Council, a congress of sorts.
- There are other landmasses on Nirn (name of their planet) referred to as Akavir, Atmora, Yokuda, etc. Akavir is a constant military antagonist to Tamriel and is (contemporarily) inhabited by beast peoples Tang Mo, Ka’Po’Tun, and Tsaesci. Their architecture, customs, and artifacts decidedly resemble Asia’s. Generally, they’re not nice people and you won’t find them in Cyrodiil. The beast people present in Cyrodiil do not hail from Akavir.
- The Nine Divines (Eight-and-One/ The Nine) are considered the official religion of Cyrodiil (and if the Imperials could have it they’d spread it all over their Empire). There are eight benevolent gods (Really, they’re just Aedra, ethereal ancestors.) which each have a name, a sphere of influence (time, beauty, etc.), and basically a wayshrine in the wilderness and a chapel in each major town. But wait—where’s the ninth? The ninth is actually Tiber Septim, the first Emperor of Tamriel. When he died, he is said to have become the deity Talos. He’s the “one” in Eight-and-One. He is also the one that the Temple of the One is named for and is closely connected to the Imperial City. So, think of it as a more straightforwardly polytheistic version of Christianity, with every Emperor the descendant of Jesus rather than of St. Peter.
- Oh, by the by, the Blades are the Emperor’s personal bodyguards and spies, if you didn’t figure that out yet.
Deliver the Amulet:
So, the Emperor’s dead? And you have to take the Amulet to Jauffre? You were a random prisoner not long ago and now here you are with the biggest task in Tamriel.
- The Amulet of Kings has been around for centuries, since the Empire began. It is specially enchanted so that it can be used to light magical pyres (called Dragonfires) to protect the mortal realm (called Mundus) from Oblivion, which is inhabited by sentient and non-sentient creatures called Daedra. However, the Dragonfires can only be lit by the Emperor, who must be of the Septim bloodline. When the Emperor dies, the fires go out. Oh-no. So, effectively, the Daedra can cross over and rape Mundus now.
- On “Daedra”: there are two types. There are those commonly referred to as Daedra (or Lesser Daedra) that are considered to be creatures which can be summoned and/or killed, and then there are the sixteen Daedra (Daedric) Princes (Lords), which use the Lesser Daedra as minions and preside over their own self-made realms of Oblivion. These Princes have areas of interest (spheres) which loosely resemble attributes of human nature, and they LOVE to interfere/influence mortals. Let’s just say that there are a lot that delight in destruction, sex, and murder. They are actually a-sexual but generally change their sex on whim, some more than others. Lesser Daedra, they all have individual species names, and some are even named. Furthermore, Daedra are unkillable, they can only be banished for periods of time. I’ll clue you in on a need to know basis, because I could go on forever about the intricacies of Daedra.
- Daedra worship used to be quite common. They’re venerated as gods just like the Nine Divines, but because of their nature and other various political movements, Daedra worshippers have become referred to as cultists. Daedra are the chaotic counterparts of the Aedra (<-some of which have become the Nine Divines) and they directly oppose one another. (<- Wow, there’s the game’s plotline in a nutshell.) Daedra are gods of change; Aedra are gods of creation.
- So, Weynon Priory. What looks like a monastery on the outskirts of town is actually a base for retired Blades, and Jauffre is their Grandmaster. The Blades are a religious group at their core anyway, so it’s fitting. Since Jauffre is the Grandmaster of this order, he undoubtedly had close ties with the Emperor and if anyone knew about an illegitimate son, it would be him. After all, it would be his duty to make him “disappear.” Bing, bang, boom, his name is Martin and he’s a priest in Kvatch. Convenient.
- About this mysterious cult. They’re called the Mythic Dawn and they worship Mehrunes Dagon, one of the Daedric Princes who’s all about destruction. His minions include creatures called Dremora (which are often named and capable of speech), Scamps, Clannfear (look like Baby-Bop), Xivilai, and Daedroth (fearsome alligator-like creature whose name is actually just the singular version of Daedra).
- When “Oblivion” is referred to, it’s actually not all of Oblivion that is a threat. It is really only Mehrunes Dagon’s realm that is trying to break into the mortal world, but in theory the other fifteen Princes could make a break for it, too. Mehrunes’s realm is named the Deadlands, but it’s never referred to this way in-game. You should already know why Oblivion is so threatening, but if you’re still unsure, reread the previous quest’s notes and take a walk over to the Imperial Library
Finding the Heir AND Breaking the Siege of Kvatch:
So, you’re in Kvatch, or what’s left of Kvatch. If you didn’t listen to reason (which you shouldn’t if you want to progress in the story line) you’re about to dive into the giant flaming doom circle in front of you. Good goin’!
- The flaming doom circle of doom is an Oblivion gate. At the very least it’s what Mehrunes wants his gates to look like. It’s actually in the shape of the Daedric alphabet’s “O”, which I think is cute.
- Whoa, man! Getting your ass handed to you? Daedra in general are sensitive to shock, so use your starter spell or a shock enchanted weapon. Absorb health works, too.
- As a rule, the building inside the gate which has the flaming spire is the one you want to be in in order to close the gate. An NPC inside will educate you as to how. Essentially you want to climb the tower.
- What you are looking for is called a Sigil Stone. It’s a huge, glowing ball of molten fire which can be used to enchant weapons with once it’s in your inventory. If you take this stone, the anchor that keeps the gate open in Tamriel destructs, closing the gate. Presumably because the PC is a foreign body in the realm, that is why you are transported back outside the gate after the Oblivion world goes up in flames around you. Hint: Don’t jump off the scaffolding—you’ll die.
- When you find Martin inside the chapel, at whatever point you actually go in there, remember that he won’t leave with you until the gate is closed and the Daedra outside are dealt with.
- You may be wondering what exactly raped the crap out of Kvatch. After all, you only see a few Scamps and Dremora here and there. And they’re not all that tough. The gate that is open in Kvatch is a special kind of gate—a Great Gate. It takes the opening of two or three lesser gates before the Mythic Dawn can open a Great Gate. Out from the Great Gate came something called a Siege Crawler. It’s a huge, flaming piece of machinery. They never stood a chance. Where the Siege Crawler went afterward, who knows?
Battle for Castle Kvatch:
This is optional, and the only real loot aside from misc. stuff is an enchanted Kvatch guard cuirass. I only have one thing to say:
- There’s usually a Spider Daedra outside the castle… I don’t think they’re minions of Mehrunes Dagon. I think they’re Mephala’s… I don’t know why it’s there. Mephala would stick her hands in this kind of thing, though.
Weynon Priory and The Path of Dawn:
Kill all the assassins in sight. Follow the NPCs and you’re good.
- Cloud Ruler Temple is an old Akaviri-style fortress located in the Jerall Mountains. It was built in the second era by an Akaviri bodyguard to the military leader which the country is named for (at the time the inhabitants of Cyrodiil had united against invading Akavir, and I suppose there were a certain amount of Akaviri peoples that sympathized with the Cyrodiils). It’s never been captured in any battle, and is heavily guarded by the Blades. It has a suite within it for the Emperor to vacation in. This becomes Martin’s quarters.
- Guess what. You need the four Mythic Dawn Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes. Figure it out! Just kidding. The Commentaries can be loosely referred to as banned books. Cyrodiil is quite liberal with freedom of press, but there’s a stigma with acquiring them, if you can find them at all. The Xarxes are what you can call a holy book, if you’re a Mehrunes Dagon worshipper. To others, it’s an evil and powerful book that will destroy your soul. There’s only one copy, and you’re never supposed to get a hold of it. Even if you did, if you couldn’t read Daedric letters it would be of no use to you, though it might make use of you. If the cult knows that you are collecting copies of the books, they’re going to try to contact you, assuming you want to join up. This will work to you advantage in this quest…
- The Arcane University is the scholarly headquarters of the Mages Guild, a joinable, Tamriel-wide (or possibly further) guild which specializes in, well, magic. There are satellite guilds in each city which perform a variety of services. Recently, they’ve banned Necromancy after they acquired a new Archmagister, though it is not illegal in Cyrodiil, just frowned upon. As a comparison, Necromancy has always been illegal in ancient Dunmer law and as such, illegal in Morrowind and mainland Vvardenfell.
There’s a hidden shrine to Mehrunes Dagon in some caverns, huh? Play the part of a cult member or blow your cover. Whatever you will, you’ll need to get your hands on the Xarxes.
- I recommend not blowing your cover. Sure, you’ll loose all of your equipment, but you can either kill Harrow later on to get it back, or just dump all your equipment outside the cavern, or at the door and pick it up directly after you speak to him.
- You’ll notice that they’re all rather cheery—such is the general disposition of most Daedric cultists in Oblivion. In Morrowind, they’d kill you on sight, but there are other lore-friendly excuses we can make about that rather than that Bethesda wanted to give you more aggressive baddies. Daedric worship is not oppressed here, for one. Consider yourself lucky that they don’t outright attack you here.
- If you don the robes and proceed to the main chamber, you’ll see the impressive Dagon statue in the middle of the room, possibly the Argonian sacrifice on the slab, but you should definitely see the Altmer at the altar. That’s Mankar Camoran, the leader of the Mythic Dawn. In-game lore tells us that “Daedra worship has become increasingly prevalent in the Summerset Isles,” the land of the Altmer. As you can see, the man definitely has a following. Altmer are by nature powerful sorcerers, so this whole threat should be becoming increasingly real. They aim to actually bring Mehrunes from Oblivion and into Cyrodiil to walk the land, which is very, very bad. I repeat: VERY bad. Mehrunes has tried this before. (See my blogglet “Daedric Princes: The True Gods” for specifics.)
- As you may have noticed, the cultists look very much like the other cultists that have attacked, but after they’re dead. The Mythic Dawn summons a full suit of bound Daedric armor. So, when they die, the summon expires and the items go back to the dark waters of Oblivion until summoned again. You can do this too.
- I CANNOT FIGURE OUT FOR THE LIFE OF ME why Mankar Camoran WEARS the Amulet of Kings! He doesn’t even look part Imperial! There is no way he can be a descendant of Tiber Septim! If the PC attempts to wear the Amulet while it is in their possession, it simply slips off! This is a total lore-severing moment in gameplay that has so many implications if it actually isn’t supposed to be lore-breaking. Ooooh, maaaan… ><!
Attack on Fort Sutch:
There’s no journal entry for this quest, and it’s simply more gate-closing practice. Self explanatory. This gate transports you to one of the randomized Oblivion worlds.
The city with the closest ties to Cloud Ruler Temple is the city directly below it, Bruma. They and their Count have dealt with the Blades for years, and for the Dawn to get to the Temple, they will have to fell the city first.
- Wherever you find Commentaries, you’ll find a Mythic Dawn cult member. After a while, they attack you on sight. These spies will too when you find them. You’ll find that some random NPCs you used to chat with will suddenly summon their armor and hack away at you. Don’t take it personally; it’s just a holy war.
- Yah, Rune Stones (Heaven Stones). There’s also Doom Stones (Birthsign Stones). Rune Stones bestow bound armor and a spell or skill bonus that wear off over time. Doom Stones give you a spell or some other temporary bonus to your stats. They’re all over the place and usually have ingredient plants nearby.
- Read Jearl’s orders here if you didn’t read them in-game: Jearl’s Orders. Ruma is Mankar Camoran’s daughter. He has a son, too.
- Note: The Mythic Dawn aspires to open another Great Gate in Bruma. The national security level has just gone from Elevated to Severe.