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Lore 101: The Elder Scrolls

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.

    Sometimes the background information can be a bit much at times, especially for people just starting out; so perhaps it is best to start slow enough and start with a few things first without going into extraordinary detail about it. This week we'll look at the namesake for the whole Elder Scrolls series and ask 'what's in a name?'

    What are they?

    On their own, the Elder Scrolls are something of a prophetic timeline of history for the Elder Scrolls world; each one has a different prophecy written on it. These prophecies may deal with the past, the present, the future, or all at the same point in time. Each scroll has an enormous amount of power by the way in which it is written.

    You might ask 'who made them' but the truth is we're not entirely certain. The answer might very well be 'the universe creator', something like the God of the Gods as the scrolls are said to be beyond any of the Aedra or Daedra, that is, the Elder Scrolls gods.

    There are many different scrolls, and while many were collected over time by the Imperials and stored in the Imperial Library, it's impossible to say how many there are. It might sound convenient, but the number of Elder Scrolls actually changes by themselves. The Elder Scrolls may appear at different points in time and space, or may exist in multiple places in the same time and space. Despite their physical appearance, it might be best to think of the Elder Scrolls as a whole history of the universe appearing as a physical form we can comprehend, rather than a simple written doument.

    “Turn to the repository behind you, and tell me how many Scrolls are locked therein."

    I ran my fingers over the metal casings, tallying each rounded edge that they encountered. I turned back "Fourteen."

    "Hand me the eighth one," he said, reaching out his hand.

    I guided the cylinder into his palm, and he gave a slight nod to acknowledge it. "Now, count again."

    Humoring him, I again passed my hands over the Scrolls, but could not believe what I was feeling.

    "Now... now there are eighteen!"

    How do they work?

    Anyone who understands what an Elder Scroll really is can read it. That might seem strange, but people that don't realize what an Elder Scroll is, will simply see it as a roll of parchment. On the other hand, the people who are aware of the power an Elder Scroll contains can get some insight into the prophecy within the text.

    The contents are difficult to comprehend for mortals as inside each prophecy is an enormous amount of information written in a way that explains some of the 'mysteries of the universe';so regardless if you're part of a monastic group dedicated to the scrolls like the Order of the Ancestor Moth (who we'll talk about some other time) or just some knowledgeable scholar, reading these scrolls can physically harm you. Simply reading an Elder Scrolls can make you go blind, but you'll get some understanding of the past, present, future, or reality as a direct result. If you aren't struck with immediate permanent blindness, you can read the same scroll again and you'll get a deeper understanding of the event that it is describing.

    What are their limits?

    It might seem reasonable to say that the Elder Scrolls, like any prophetic message, are all open for interpretation: this may be true when it comes to future events, but the magical prophecies of the Elder Scrolls ensures that when an event that was prophesied does take place, the scroll itself ensures that people understand that event exactly how it happened and in the same way.

    The Elder Scrolls have a lot of information and can tell the secrets of time but they aren't all powerful. They themselves are limited to being able to describe events that occur during time; so if you 'get rid' of time (which can be done but we'll talk about that another time) then the Elder Scrolls can't say anything about it.

    Conclusion:

    The Elder Scrolls are an enigmatic but powerful presence in the Elder Scrolls world and are befitting of the title themselves. They can be thought of something like a timeline of all history past and present, and express many hidden fragments of knowledge While they might pose as a convenient plot point in the series, they also have a great amount of potential for people in Tamriel. If you have any questions regarding the Elder Scrolls then now's a good time to ask them too.

    If you found this interesting it might be worth it to look at a few major texts that deal with the Elder Scrolls themselves couretesy of UESP:

    An Accounting of the Scrolls

    Effects of the Elder Scrolls

    *And I'd like to say thank you to UESP for the pictures, the first from their Ultimate heist page (Who doesn't remember that quest from Oblivion?), and the second as a direct copy of an elder scroll which they've archived.

  • October 26, 2014

    I always wondered what if any connection Herma Mora has to the Elder Scrolls. 

  • Member
    May 15

    Nice post!, it seems Elder Scrolls modifies in a way just by being in contact with them, cool

     

    “Turn to the repository behind you, and tell me how many Scrolls are locked therein."

    I ran my fingers over the metal casings, tallying each rounded edge that they encountered. I turned back "Fourteen."

    "Hand me the eighth one," he said, reaching out his hand.

    I guided the cylinder into his palm, and he gave a slight nod to acknowledge it. "Now, count again."

    Humoring him, I again passed my hands over the Scrolls, but could not believe what I was feeling.

    "Now... now there are eighteen!"