Elder Scrolls Online loses its beloved loremaster, plans new free trial event

    
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Elder Scrolls Online is losing a key developer: Loremaster Lawrence Schick, the man whose fatherly drawl and broad knowledge of the Elder Scrolls franchise captivated pretty much everyone every time ZeniMax gave him a stage.

“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,” he says. “The Community team asked me to write a farewell letter about my time wrangling the lore of Tamriel for ESO.” He doesn’t do that, however. Instead, he uses his farewell letter to discuss the way the lore in Elder Scrolls works: specifically, that it was written by dozens of people over dozens of years, all from various shifting points of view of the characters inhabiting the space. Including ours.

“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.”

Pure class.

In other ESO news this week, ZeniMax is kicking off another ESO Plus Free Trial event tomorrow morning; players need only log in and select the “free trial” option in the cash shop. Through February 12th, the trial will unlock all the game’s DLC – and that includes Morrowind. “If you don’t have access to the zone to participate in the recently announced Morrowind Celebration Event, you’ll get free access to it during the ESO Plus trial period,” says the studio.

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Sana Tan

I’m so sad, his love and dedication for the lore was always encouraging to see. The best of voices and attitude, a true veteran, surely a painful hit on the game. Wish him the best, and I hope ZoS finds someone worthy of this job.

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PanagiotisLial1

ESO has so nice storytelling. I hope his absence wont affect the quality of future storytelling much

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I believe they just consulted him over things to reign in going too far out and away from the established lore. I don’t believe he actually wrote anything (just by the description of the job, I don’t really know though). They’ll get someone new in that same position and not much should change.

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Alex Hyer

I was under the impression that ESO trashes Elder Scrolls lore liberally, with a reckless abandon, in fact.

So, oh well.

I’m sure whoever comes next will do “way better” at it.

hurbster
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hurbster

It doesn’t.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

The Ebonhart Pact makes no sense at all regarding the Ages of hatred between the 3 Provinces.

hurbster
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hurbster

It’s explained many times that they came together to defeat the Akaviri. In fact, keeping the Pact together plays a part in the Pact storyline. Also, there are plenty of examples of mutual distrust between the races, especially the Argonians and Dunmer.

Seeing as the Pact gets invaded by both the Covenant and Dominion, they all need each other.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

It’s forced, even Fudgemuppet questions the logic in his 2nd Age Video, that channel seems to be the definitive spot for all Elder Scrolls Lore.

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Baemir

…it kinda does. ESO made too many awkward, incongruous changes to established ES lore, which very few if any fans liked. Leading up to launch, the glorification of this ‘loremaster’ (who I believe had NO previous ties to the franchise at all) and the snippets we were getting from the game’s dialogue and books were met with groans. I’m not trying to be inflammatory here, just telling the other side of the story.

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Alex Hyer

I’m inclined to believe you.

I think responses like “It doesn’t.” are respones that die hard ESO fans would just toss out to sound definitive, while mildly defensive.

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Baemir

Yeah, an MMO site is probably not the best place to get the hard facts. The writing in ESO struck me as a much more generic and simplistic brand of western fantasy, so much so that I’d rather not consider it canon. It’s less “Who am I to ask this of you?” and more “cleanse this forest, oh noble hero!”.

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Fenrir Wolf

I believe that’s part of the reason, though I certainly can’t accept that it’s the entirety of it. The timing seems too perfect.

Here’s a question: I’m not a fan of RNG and grind, so why would I ever have played ZOS’s grand effort? How could I describe it as a refreshing experience without being a flanderised caricature of a hypocrite?

I had hoped that the magic ingredient of ESO that so thoroughly held my interest was perennial, so much so that I forgot that it’s an MMO and that’s not how these things go. There’s always he desperate ruination that precedes the sunset.

The shark has been jumped, with Stark-tech repulsor boots and no potion of slow falling.

I was there for the writing and the lore. Throughout the period of The Thieves Guild, The Dark Brotherhood, The Clockwork City, and Morrowind? The writing was exemplary, it was par excellence and so far beyond any I’d seen in an Elder Scrolls game prior. It was intoxicating.

I love lore, you see. For those who read my treatise on the subjectivity of lore and history, I imagine that much is obvious. A world needs not follow the rules of ours, nor does it need to be grounded in a sea of facts. All it needs, as I mentioned then, is for the key details to be kept in line.

Internal consistency or a lack thereof makes or breaks a fictional world.

It’s internal consistency one concerns oneself with as a writer. Not the absolute truth of the lore. The only people who treat lore as entirely objective and throw up their arms at retcons whenver new subjective details are added are specifically that troped Star Trek fan so oft and soundly mocked.

I don’t like the mocking, but I full well grasp the quixotic nature of trying to get a factual grasp on any world. Still, a degree of internal consistency is important. One must be able to ground themself in the world.

Otherwise it’s just Kingdom Heeearts annnd here we gooo into a lannnd of wot the bleeeeedin’ ‘eeeeckkk?????

Sorry Kingdom Hearts, I love you, but you make about as much sense as Brexit.

Anyway, I’d sensed something was wrong around the time of Summerset. Which I all too often almost write as Somerset, then I have to remind myself that the elves don’t actually have bad west country accents, exceeeeept some do? You’re not helping, ZeniMax. You’re not helping at all.

The daedric triad story was wrapped up in an appreciably decent enough way, I felt it was satisfying enough. Lots of holes, lots of issues, and many questions but I was feeling optimistic that they’d answer everything based upon my experiences with prior content.

Wolfhunter was the first sign something was very wrong. It wasn’t the most lore-friendly bit of content, that’s for sure. What I noticed though is that it didn’t really build on existing lore, either.

And THAT is why I played ESO! I do indeed remember my own points, and I do get to them eventually!

Up until that point, ESO had done a truly marvellous job of considering the official lore and carefully building on top of it with little nuggets of new information that added depth and value to prior Elder Scrolls stories. It was so, so much better at expanding on the lore than Bethesda themselves were. Sucked in would be an understatement.

I felt like I finally had answers to a good number of many of the bigger questions. I won’t spoil things for those who’ve not done that content, but they really do fill in many of the holes in Elder Scrolls lore.

It was internally consistent with its forebear material, and it added worthwhile depth without being cowardly.

Good!

I played that sodding grind to vacuum up as much of the lore as possible. That the folks I’d meet were charming and memorable, and the hapless misadventures I’d found myself tangled up in were memorable only added to that nerdy high of good lore. I was especially impressed by The Thieves Guild, there were so, so many genuinely well written characters, there!

Silver-Claw was absolutely my beau, to have him yell about his handsome male partner who made him look better just by being in the company of was a delight. He was an odd, eccentric cat.

“As business partners?”

Sigh. Good times.

Anyway, the point is? It was All Good. Indeed, it was Very Good. Indeed indeed, it was Very, Very Good. I endured the MMO format for it, after all.

Then Wolfhunter happened, and then… well, the disaster whose name will not be said. Which makes me feel really bad for argonian fans. I’m well aware that was their thing, it was meant to be their time. ZOS really dropped the ball.

I left around Wolfhunter as I could tell things were going South and I simply didn’t want to watch. I’d rather stick to the good, endearing memories I have of my time in Tamriel Online. Part of an MMO is knowing when to leave. Wolfhunter was a resounding, clarion call, a bleating klaxxon to warn of ill tides and times ahead.

“Get out,” it shrieked, “get out now!”

So I did. I buggered off. And I was right to do so. The things I heard about Murkmire left me feeling empathetic to those who’d foolishly chosen to stay, but also relieved that I didn’t have to see it for myself.

Then Wraithstone went and…

SCALY CHICKENS IN ELSWEYR!

REDGUARD NECROMANCERS!

RACIST TROPES OF WHITE SCHOLARS AND MINORITY TOUR GUIDES!

Where was ESO’s lore now? Where was our lore god now? Where before it had built upon what was already there, this was just tossing convention and internal consistency aside in favour of public appeal. They knew people liked Elsweyr, dragons, and necromancers, so they bundled them up in one package without a care for thematic and aesthetic consistency.

Had Wraithstone been a tale of Azurah, the moons, perhaps even the Numidium? Had the class been monk? I would’ve felt reassured, I might’ve even stopped by to give it a quick once over, a cheeky goosy to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Nnnnope. Elsweyr is one of my favourite places. And, well…

You maniacs! You blew it up! Gah, darn you! Gosh darn you all to heck!

Well, metaphorically at least.

So this is timing, right? Just as Tamriel Online does a 10-point somersault over the shark, their most important lore figure is leaving. Timing seems a little too perfect if you ask me. I’m thinking that a certain someone objected to their shoddy Elsweyr plans, and got the boot.

This seems like the kind of excuse that’s given when that happens, when a company quietly lets someone go due to a difference of opinion.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Nothing is ever going to perfect, if you want to talk problems they clearly start at the Ebonhart Pact which makes no sense Lore Wise since there’s so much hate between the 3 provinces.

hurbster
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hurbster

Only thing wrong with Murkmire was that I could not solo world bosses any more.

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PanagiotisLial1

Well its possible some races that normally dont like each other to form an alliance to form one to ensure survival over greater threats. I got no much problem with it (similar things have happened in actual human history too) and you get a lot of tips that they were once enemies throughout the game. Basic lore should be a guidebook without being a heavily restraining factor else it can end up in storytelling where you already know how it will unfold before playing it

Theryl
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Theryl

Murkmire was some of the best writing TES has done to date and a fantastic exploration of Argonian and Hist lore. I really don’t know what you’re going on about.

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PanagiotisLial1

To me, and I hope I am wrong, sounds more like someone who leaves due to health reasons of himself or someone close to him and cant devote the time. I hope I am wrong but lets not say indirectly that they made him leave, cause we dont know. He may say a lot later on and state the reasons for leaving.

About the stories I dont know too what you are talking about to be honest. You are talking about parts of the story that was fun to most(sure not all – cant please all) of us

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NeoWolf

I will certainly miss his voice. He was made for narration :)

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Tandor

It would certainly be fitting if he was asked to record a voiceover before he left.

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Danny Smith

Its strange to see people saying ‘sad to see him go’ when during the games release questions like “why is this legendary elven city made of glass just the same human imperial housing?” were waved off by him as “those other games are just folklore and legends, this is the real elder scrolls lore” and people we pretty negative about the guy at the time. Times sure changed that one.

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Sana Tan

Maybe a few vocal players did overreact to such things, but I’m pretty sure that the Loremaster was loved by the majority.

Theryl
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Theryl

And those questions were based on deliberate misreadings of a source whose very next line says the glass and insect wings bit is probably an exaggeration.

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Blake

I’m sure he’s one of the key reasons I want to play ESO so badly, the game world/lore is amazing, I just wish I could even tolerate the combat system. I stuck with it for years because of the world, but in the end I just got worn down by the boredom of the play. Sigh.

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Toy Clown

I’ve always played ESO for the storytelling and crafting. I get my combat needs met in other games, for sure. Hopefully combat will get a sweep in the future. They seem to be tackling systems and updating them often.

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Chris Walker

I’m having a blast with the combat in ESO. I mainly focus on pvp and it’s great fun. Sorry your experience wasn’t the same.

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Blake

I think it works in PvP for me a bit more than PvE did as in PvP you can use your primary bar as your main ‘fighting’ bar and the back bar is basically a buff, utility bar, where in PvE (especially in group content) it’s that constant just switching back and forth and running through the 1 – 5 combos.

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Tandor

He will be greatly missed, certainly by the community and even more so, no doubt, by his colleagues. Quite some shoes to fill!

Celestia
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Celestia

What a loss.

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Toy Clown

Ahhh! I think when it comes to dev teams, the ones that always hit me in the feels the most when they leave are those that deal with the weaving and creation of lore.

I hope for the best for him and his family and here’s hoping we get another enriching loremaster into the halls of the Elder Scrolls.