Revision History: RIP Terry Pratchett

  11:02:00 pm, by   , 867 words  
Viewed 10815 times since 03/13/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

Sir Terry Pratchett, who recently passed away surrounded by his family, was a satirist of the highest caliber. TES fans probably know him best for his numerous internationally-renowned fantasy novels, but as I learned recently (thanks, Damon), many PC players also remember and celebrate his collaboration in the Companion Vilja mods for Oblivion and Skyrim (see here and here respectively). Anyway, he will be missed.

Level Up
On a brighter note: Shuryard has become the UESP's latest Userpatroller! It's definitely well-deserved; she's quickly become one of the most prominent ESO editors on the site.

ESO Updates

Zenimax released The Tamriel Town Crier, Issue #7, and the latest installment of ESO Live was just uploaded here.

Edit- A quick breakdown of the ESO Live video, if you don't want to invest an hour: they're working on fixing Enlightenment issues for the next patch which are preventing some people from accumulating Champion Points. People really want their boob windows back. Reducing/removing shoulder pads was offered as a good way to make female characters appear more feminine, but they have no plans to delve into something like this at the moment. The new system for mounts has limited players' ability to customize their mounts. Zenimax wants to reintroduce customization options, but there's no immediate timeline. They're looking into increasing XP rewards in certain circumstances, such as in PvP, and might have an update regarding this in about a week. There was some talk (in the chat) about a new bug which prevents players from getting on a mount for up to several minutes after combat ends, and hopefully that will be resolved (apparently, vampires are having trouble using skill drains, too). Regarding the Justice system: they're in an observation phase for the time being, to see how people utilize it, but they have big plans to expand upon it in the future. For now, they continue to work on Orsinium - and the Imperial City.

News on Patch 1.6 is overwhelming; throw a rock and you'll find something. It has also been overwhelmingly positive, though I've seen suggestions that latency issues in PvP continue to effect a lot of players, perhaps even moreso after the patch. If you're having this problem, it's unlikely you're going to be doing any better when the mandatory subscription ends on March 17. But let's hope it's on the dev's radar.

A Freaking Gold Mine
Following Patch 1.6 for ESO, fans have been "data-mining" like crazy. I don't pretend to know exactly what it all entails, but I'm pretty sure it involves a Star Trek TNG episode where Mark Twain hung out with Whoopi Goldberg. Anyway, Daveh, Enodoc & Co. are steadily integrating the new icons, maps, etc., into the site.

Jimeee the Archivist, who recently completed a revamp of the Lore Library's main page, has been adding new books like Ysmir the Forefather, Volume IV and The Oath of Light. This stuff is simply blowing my mind. The next three months might as well be a year. It sucks being a console peasant (hey, I can say that; that's our phrase).

Rumors of the Spiral Skein is an older ESO book which we've somehow overlooked, but it's available now. Legoless has moved the page for Mephala's realm and updated it a bit. A good job, as always, but the thought of a Daedric Tower, and thus the potential for a host of other new Towers, is making my brain hurt. I mean, it's been indicated that there are Towers we don't know about, but Daedric Towers... ow.

Ark'ay, der Gott
Pursuant to this conversation, there's a Daggerfall page now set up for Ark'ay, der Gott, the German version of Ark'ay, the God of Birth and Death. Apparently, under rare and unknown conditions, you could actually find a German copy of the book in the English version of the game! Talk about a collectible.

Recent Changes

UESP forum administrator Alarra has been busy adding amazing screenshots like this one. Among other things, she has also been helping to update our Names appendices with ESO info. The neverending goal: to document each and every name for every person of every race in the games. If you think that's an easy project, I've got a Welcome template to add to your talk page. This is TES - documenting even something as straightforward as people's names is a job which is way too big for one person. Help out if you can!

It seems Forfeit is hard at work on the Morrowind Overhaul Project, which is aimed at bringing the Morrowind namespace up to par with the namespaces for the more recent games. He recently polished up the page for Skyrim's Deekus and filled out his schedule. I noticed talk page comments from 2013 suggest that Deekus is nonhostile to werewolves in Beast Form. There are dozens of unconfirmed bugs related to Beast Form, but if you're looking for something to do with your werewolf in Skyrim and you haven't already killed Deekus, stop by his camp when you're hairy and see how you two get along.

I'm skipping over a bunch of stuff, but I'll try to catch up next time. For now, I'll just leave you with Lorebits from Lady Freyja. Mmm, Morrowindy.

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Revision History: Patch 1.6

  11:19:00 am, by   , 953 words  
Viewed 9337 times since 03/08/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

We're very focused on business on the wiki. Which is great, because stuff gets done. But it's also a shame, because some events and achievements deserve a little more attention than a passing position on the Recent Changes list. We've got the news section on the main page, but that typically just covers the really big stories, and only briefly at that. There's always something happening on the site or in the greater TES community which is worth taking some time to acknowledge. So that's what Revision History is going to do.

My regret is that I can't possibly give everyone their due, and for that, I apologize. There's just too much happening. I mean, two decades later, and we're still touching up Arena content. Whether you're welcoming newcomers, answering questions, bringing the iron fist of justice to some unruly spam bots, or just hanging out in the forums, you all continue to astound me every day.

I really want to keep track of this stuff just so I can continue to learn more about this amazing series and community. If you have something to correct or something you want to add, please comment. You can also drop me an email or go to my talk page if you have a suggestion. Popular new TES sites, ESO events, a Youtube channel you like, a PSA, your favorite flipping fan fiction, I'll give anything TES-related some consideration. I'm especially interested in new developments related to the UESP itself, though, because if we don't talk about it, no one will. There's a lot of ground to cover for this initial entry, so let's get to it!

Patch 1.6
With Patch 1.6 for ESO now released, it seems many PvPers are struggling to determine how to best take advantage of the changes to the skills (which I suppose is the point). I thought videos from Deltia's Gaming helped give me a decent handle on the substantial changes and what they would mean for the game.

UespLog AddOn needs some tweaking in light of Patch 1.6. Any PC players using it, please report any problems on the article's talk page, and thank you so much for continuing to help the UESP gather data from the game. It's all way over my head, but I hope others are able to put it to good use.

This patch has changed a ton; some are saying it's like a whole new game in many respects. We'll be struggling to catch up to it for a while. But then, we were struggling to catch up before the patch. Please be patient, and help out if you can!

Hail, Doyen!
The recent addition to the ESO Loremaster's Archive, A Loathsome Civilization, left me giddy. I've seen some references to the Sload before which make me suspect ZoS is building up to a Sload storyline, so just the fact that they decided to focus on the slugmen now sent me off speculating like crazy.

On top of that, Doyen Legoless of the United Explorers of Scholarly Pursuits posed another damn good question during a brief moment where he wasn't adding some new ESO-related thing to the site. I don't know where he finds the time. I don't think he sleeps. Maybe it's an Irish thing.

I have to say that "Bertille Montrose" really had the best question, though. Sload Soap was this weird alchemy ingredient which has been making Morrowind fans do double takes for years. "What, wait the hell is in this basket? Sload ... soap?" It's wonderful to have such a disgusting clarification on the nature of the stuff.

Forgive me, Doyen.

Sidebar Updates

The UESP sidebar has gotten some work, but I think it still needs some more. It seems at this point like we should just lump all DLCs into "Official Add-Ons" links, as the current distinctions seem incongruous. Share your thoughts on the Community Portal (even though I've somehow neglected to do so).

A Squeak of Ice and Fire
IceFireWarden recently shared his incisive summary of Jel, the mysterious grunty-squeaky language of the Argonians which has long been under-documented on the UESP. I wish we knew more about it. IFW's translation for "Xhuth" is a little daring, but reading between the lines, it seems to be what the author of the novels intended. Anyways, many thanks!

Je ne savais pas que
I'm a nutso lore maniac, if you hadn't guessed, and learning something new about TES lore is always fun to me. Recently, Lady Freyja, administrator of the French wiki Le Grande Bibliothèque de Tamriel, has pointed out a few fascinating lore nuggets, such as an expanded French version of the Monomyth from Morrowind (found here). She has also been adding some bits of Skyrim lore which can only be found in the official Prima guide.

Meanwhile, Archivist Jimeee has been really living up to the title, and is cataloging ESO books faster than I can read them!

FA Nominations Needed!
Lore:Skyrim is due to be taken off the main page on March 25. Ideally, we should have another article successfully nominated and ready to go as our new Featured Article by then. ESO articles would be great right now, but feel free to nominate any UESP page you find really impressive! New nominations for Featured Images would also be great, though we've got a bit more time to work with there.

Up Next
I plan to make these regularly, but how regularly will depend on activity levels (both my own and the community's). But the mandatory subscription plan for ESO ends on March 17! So if there's not much else going on, I'm sure I could make a rant or twenty related to all that. :D

K, I'ma go watch Classic Elder Scrolls.

Lore Lapses, Part X: King Harald

  07:05:00 pm, by   , 337 words  
Viewed 5991 times since 03/07/15
Categories: Elder Scrolls, Analysis

High King Harald doesn't make sense.

I think I'm going to stop doing this series on a regular basis, and instead start a recurring blog for UESP news. The blurbs on the wiki's news section don't cover much, some site-related events deserve greater acknowledgement, and I find myself with more than a paragraph of off-topic things to say when I make these.

Also, finding real discrepancies in the lore is not easy. There are plenty of differing viewpoints, but overt mistakes in the lore which contradict some other established piece of the world are few and far between. They go to great efforts to keep their facts straight; that's a huge reason why I love this series so much! Anyways, on to the nit-picking. From the lore page:

Some sources apparently conflate Harald's "reign" with his entire life. Frontier, Conquest accredits the years 1E 113 to 221 to him (108 years). Both the Daggerfall Chronicles and the 1st Edition Pocket Guide state that he died at the age of 108, placing his birth at 1E 113. The 3rd Edition Pocket Guide states that by 1E 113, "the entirety of modern Skyrim was under the reign of King Harald", suggesting his birth and reign coincided. However, a memorial plaque in Windhelm confirms that his reign began in 1E 143, when he was about 30 years old.

It's possible that Harald was proclaimed king upon birth, with a regent running Skyrim until he reached the age of majority ... which is apparently thirty years old in Skyrim. But this is ancient Skyrim we're talking about, where kings apparently still ruled through right of arms. Why have a baby High King?

Then again, maybe these two issues could cancel one another out? Maybe the High King dies with his heir Harald in utero, a regent assumes the throne in Harald's name, and he/she was such a badass that even Harald didn't have the balls to take the throne until three decades had gone by? I don't know, but I think there might be a story to be told here.

An Analysis of the Skyrim Civil War, Pt. 2: The Wild Card

  01:13:00 pm, by   , 1503 words  
Viewed 9252 times since 02/25/15
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, Analysis

Author's note: After some feedback, I have decided to make this a three-part analysis instead of a two-part analysis, as was originally planned. This will allow me to address all points I wish to make in an organized fashion without getting too long-winded in any individual post.


The debate between Skyrim players about which side is right and why has been going on since the game's release. Which side is right? The Empire, whose goal of uniting the human races against a greater threat leads them to overzealous oppression? Or the Stormcloaks, a rebel army devoted to a power-hungry racist who cloaks his true motives in the guise of desiring liberty? If you read my last post, you know that I don't believe either of them to be worthy of allegiance. Yet in all of these debates, the one thing that vexes me most is that it's always centered on the Stormcloaks or the Empire, and no mention is made of the most important party in the war, the party without whom the war cannot be won; the party whose exclusion from this debate is all the more surprising considering that it is the one with which players are not only exposed to the most, but are in direct command of.

I am referring of course to the player character in Skyrim: the Dovahkiin, the One True Dragonborn, Herald of the Tyranny of the Sun, et cetera, et cetera. A figure whose involvement in the war is incidental, but no less important for it, a veritable one-man army without whom the war cannot be resolved.

 

It can be difficult to account for freedom in gameplay choices from a lore perspective, which is why we won't know who really won the civil war until the next game is released. However, there is one constant in the equation, regardless of which side players choose to take in the war: The Dragonborn's allegiance determines the victor. From a lore perspective, we might think of the events in a given playthrough of the game (and in fact, have historically been encouraged to do so by Bethesda) as an Elder Scroll prophecy; one person may see a vision of the Dragonborn leading the Stormcloak invasion of Whiterun and conquering the city, while another may see him repelling the Stormcloaks from the front lines and successfully driving back the siege. A third may see the Dragonborn refusing to take sides and instead focusing on destroying Alduin, in which case the civil war will continue. The text of the Elder Scroll giving these prophecies won't become fixed until the prophecy is enacted (i.e., the next game is released), but in all versions of this prophecy, the Dragonborn's actions decide the outcome. In other words, the Dragonborn holds all the power, not Tullius or Ulfric.

 

So which side should the Dragonborn bring victory? Clearly, the arguments applied last time are also relevant here. The Dragonborn's first involvement with the Empire in Skyrim is being sentenced to death without trial, just because he was caught committing a crime while Ulfric Stormcloak happened to be committing another crime in the same general area. Not a great first impression on the Empire's part (and also why so many players get turned off from siding with them right away). Of course, we are quickly introduced to the character of Hadvar, who embodies the more sympathetic aspects of the Empire, and shows us that not all Imperial Soldiers are bloodthirsty oppressors. While all of the other prisoners are slated for execution, Hadvar immediately notices that the Dragonborn isn't, and seems unsure as to how he should proceed. It's not just that he's confused over protocol; the mere act of asking his superior officer what to do shows that he doesn't want to immediately execute a person without reason. When he's told he has to do it anyway, he doesn't say “Sure thing!” with a sadistic glee; he solemnly apologizes that he can't do anything more for the Dragonborn, and gives the only measure of comfort he can by offering to return the latter's remains to his home country. When all of the prisoners escape, he doesn't try to stop the Stormcloaks or kill them himself; he tries to get the women and children to safety, and personally helps the player escape the city, showing a clear understanding that his primary purpose as a soldier is to protect the people, not slay his enemies. This point is driven home during the ensuing confrontation between the Imperial torturer and escaping Stormcloaks, where Hadvar disgustedly mutters These bastards call themselves Imperial Legionnaires...

 

If Tullius embodies the worst of the Empire, then Hadvar embodies the best. But just because there are those within the Empire who are well-meaning and friendly doesn't mean they are any more deserving of victory in the Civil War. It's one thing for the Dragonborn to forgive them for trying to execute him or to befriend members of their ranks, but to support them militarily is to support the policies which alienated the other human provinces in the first place: blindly assuming that being part of the Empire is in the people's best interests and refusing to hear any objections, all the while allowing the Thalmor to trample on people and roam the country as they please. The Dragonborn's primary role as protector of the world need not only be from Alduin and the dragons, his prophesied foes; it can (and should) be from all threats to peace. In that regard, supporting the Empire is little better than supporting the Stormcloaks.

 

Of course, that doesn't mean the Stormcloaks are automatically the Dragonborn's friends. While many aspects of his character aren't recorded in the canon (such as his past or race), there are few reasons he would have for supporting Ulfric. Let's say, hypothetically, that the Dragonborn is one of the elven or beast races. Right off the bat, he's considered inferior in Ulfric's eyes. His attempts to join the Stormcloaks would be met with immediate suspicion. Even if he were to join the Stormcloaks and gain their respect, Ulfric and his men would only show it by saying that even though he's a foreigner, he has the heart of a Nord. So he may be a dirty elf/lizard/cat/orc, but it's okay, he's one of the good ones. Why would you support someone who clearly views your people as inferior, and encourages actively oppressing them?

But even disregarding the Dragonborn's race, why should he want to support Ulfric? The only thing we know for sure about his past is that he was captured trying to cross the border into Skyrim, meaning he wasn't a native of the country. In other words, the Dragonborn is unlikely to have any personal investment in seeing an independent Skyrim. Why should he feel motivated to join a group fighting for a nation's independence if he isn't of that nation? Even if he is a Nord, and would therefore have good reason to care about the state of his ancestral homeland, why would he fight for the Stormcloaks? He wouldn't be fighting for Skyrim's independence so much as he would be fighting for Ulfric to be High King, and in doing so, he'd be making mankind more vulnerable against the Thalmor by driving a wedge between Skyrim and their Cyrodilic allies. If he really wants to fight for Skyrim's well-being, he should support a side that emphasizes the well-being of the common people while allowing for good diplomatic relations between all of the human provinces (which, again, neither the Stormcloaks nor the Empire do).

 

It could be argued that while both sides are wrong, supporting the Empire may be slightly preferable, since they are at least dedicated to a long-term goal of keeping all the human races united against the Thalmor, unlike Ulfric, whose concerns about the Thalmor are secondary to that of his own rank. But even if that's true, choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil, and when there are other options available, that isn't a good choice to make. So what else is there? Negotiating a temporary peace treaty which will effectively end after Alduin is slain? Staying out of the war and allowing the Thalmor to destroy both belligerents once they've exhausted each other? Clearly, maintaining complete isolation from worldly affairs, as do the Greybeards, is the worst choice of all, when the Dragonborn has the power to make a difference. The question, then, is how the Dragonborn might make a difference in such a way that will not bring disaster to the people on a continental scale. Bethesda presents such an option in the game, but it is presented so subtly that it often isn't even recognized as an option at all. It is an option that is hinted at many times, but always in pieces, never as a cohesive whole. Much like in real life, the correct answer to this difficult decision can only be reached through extensive consideration. So what is it?

To be concluded

 

The Great Siege of Narra

  01:49:00 am, by Damon   , 861 words  
Viewed 4491 times since 02/24/15
Categories: Games

It's time for another scheduled gaming-related post, but since I haven't got the time or energy to write a full-on review, I've decided to share an excting (and nerve-racking) story from my Mount & Blade: Warband save.

To give a brief overview, I'm a Lord in Sultan Hakim's Sarranid Sultanate, and I've been rather instrumental in our acquisitions of Narra, Dhirim, Reyvadin, and Uxhal, plus a bunch of surrounding castles. Of the set of things we've taken, the Sultan has granted me the town of Narra, which I had personally sieged and taken after the Vaegirs weakened it, but were unable to break in and claim it, I own Uhhun Castle, the nearest castle to Narra, and I own Kelredan Castle, off in Swadia country, as well as a handful (5-6) smaller villages, all of which I collect taxes from. (map of Calradia, to reference for locations)

We've been at war with the Nords, the Swadia (who we got out of war with just before the siege), and the Khergit Khanate for some time, because all of them have things that we've taken from them at some point or another, and they want the stuff back. Anyway, the Khergit Khanate decided they wanted my city of Narra back while I was off at Kelredan Castle, and I get the notice that it's happened, so I sent a message asking the Sultan to move over there, which he says he'd do, and I depart immediately to check out my town and break the siege... There are 900 men waiting for me... I'm starting to ramble alread... To the point, then!

Sultan Hakim of the Sarranid Sultanate left me hanging out to dry, and I had to fend off the king of the Khergit Khanate, their Grand Marshal, and a half-dozen or so lords, who brought a total of 920 men into battle against poor little me. The bastard... I take all this land for him, then when I send a message calling for aid, he leaves me hanging out to dry...

So anyway, Sanjar Khan, the enemy king, is sieging Narra, a town that used to belong to his kingdom, but that my king has owned for a few years and has let me rule over and collect taxes from. Since it's MY town, I thought "to hell with it. If it's being taken, then he has to put every one of the defenders to the sword".

They try to assault the walls, and  about 150 of 300 men (between the garrison and my 50 Sarranid Mamlukes and 20 assorted other men that I had with me to begin with) hold 400 back from taking the walls, and the Khanate has to regroup.

They are sitting outside the walls for a few days, maybe a week or so, and a few of the Lords break off to harass Sultanate caravans for supplies. So since they are split, I take a risk and break through the siege lines with the strongest men I have at my disposal, leave the city fairly minimally defended, I swallow the smaller Lords with my 120 men (about 200 were not injured or dead - mostly just survivable wounds), so there are only about 90 men in the town. Then, I am met outside the walls by the Grand Marshal and the King, who have a combined 375-400 troops still available against my 120 in the field. And, it's a calvalry-strong army, being the Khanate. I miraculously defeat them by keeping my army grouped and with me moving around the battlefield to scatter their men and hit them over and over while periodically letting the men separate to strike hard hits.

Then, after a long battle (30 minutes real time, which is a good while), we manage to defeat the entire army, and we had a few Lords as prisoner, who I promptly threw in Narra's prison to rot while I awaited a ransom from them. Then, I just sat in Narra with my army while I sent recruiters, and we have 350 recruits that I am taking into the field and quickly training while my Constable trains others to rebuild our garrison. But, at least I broke the bulk of the Khergit Khanate's army, I'd say, so hopefully it will be a while before they try striking at Narra again.

I swear, bards will be singing of that day. And, I imagine the men who survived all three major battles (the siege defense, the caravan defense, and the direct assault against the King) are doing a lot of praying, feasting, and baby-making after this one.

So, to recap: 300-320 men vs. approx. 920-930, and about 100 remained combat-ready. Damn. I am still amazed it went so well...

Also, in case any Warband players ask, the recuiters and constable come from the Diplomacy module, which I love because it adds a lot of treaty options, it adds the Chancellor, Constable, and Chamblerlain, who help manage your affairs (keeping a treasury to put the income in, moving troops around, training troops, getting troops, you can manage your fief improvements there, send messages and gifts to Lords, etc). Google it for more information, if you feel so inclined. I am just pointing out that that's where my two non-Native things I mentioned came in from.