Everyone loves a good Elder Scrolls in-game book.
Most of them are storybooks or histories aiming to flesh out characters and the background of the Elder Scrolls universe. There are likewise thousands of pieces of fanfiction on the internet documenting the adventures of player characters and familiar faces from the games.
However, in the highly literate world of Tamriel where even the poorest peasant farmer often owns at least one book, there is somewhat of a lack of 'non-fiction' works on matters besides history, human geography and magic (although these are always worthy of being expanded). The Empire's modern major generals appear to possess few works on such topics as natural geography, biology, architecture, philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, engineering and theology, among others.
On a less esoteric level, we also seem to lack basic functional works that one would expect to find on village bookshelves: farmer’s almanacs, mathematics textbooks, prayer books and the like.
These do not need to be boring or inaccessible to the layman. Indeed, a good Elder Scrolls book should always be entertaining, aid immersion, and be relatively brief (after all, Skyrim is not a reading simulator). Nor do they even have to always be entirely original: there are plenty of public domain works which, with some good editing, can be easily made into lore-friendly texts.
I’ve been working on a few books to fill these gaps (as well for my own enjoyment) with the aim of providing them as a modder’s resource for Elder Scrolls games; books are some of the most easily implementable game items and can be readily ported from game to game.
Three of my finished works, formatted for use in Skyrim, are attached to this post as examples:
- Mathematics for Pious Children, by Alba Domus of Chorrol – An entertaining book of mathematics questions written by a bad tempered and somewhat zealous educator.
- The Trial of Sanirel, as recorded by Piero, translated by Grubius Tertius – An Elder Scrolls-ified version of part of one of Plato’s more digestible works, the Apology of Socrates. I might also crib some bits of The Republic in the future.
- Realm Walking: An Introduction to Transliminal Travel, by Carolus Sanis – Oblivion is hardly an original topic, but I wanted to condense everything we know about travelling to Oblivion into a digestible package and establish a degree of intertextuality in the Elder Scrolls’ academic literature.
Other items I have been working on include a humorous treatise on the plumbing and sewer design of the Imperial City, a theological analysis of the nature and character of daedra lords and their respective ‘spheres’, a medieval-style bestiary that assigns moral lessons and religious symbolism to animals, a book on geology that speculates in a completely different direction to real-world science, a multi-volume compendium on magical constructs and a discussion of the nature of Talos and the consequences of the controversy for the universal Church of the Divines (using ancient Christological as a model).
(I have also adapted Coleridge’s poem The Ancient Mariner and a number of Edgar Allen Poe stories for the bookshelves of Tamriel, because they’re awesome ... but I’ll leave those to a different project for now.)
I’m looking for skilled writers with whom I can expand this catalogue and come up with ideas for lore-friendly Tamriel texts for use in Skyrim mods and future Elder Scrolls games. I'd also be happy to hear from experts in any field who want their specialised knowledge represented in-game (with the caveat that this should be something that at least one person in the Elder Scrolls universe could reasonably know!). This is not an exhaustive project, or one with a set end-date – it can carry on building as long as books keep getting produced.
If you want me to include your work, please attach examples to your post below. Likewise, if you have any constructive criticisms, general ideas for the direction of the project, want to help in setting up a resource site of some sort, can translate works to other languages, or wish to include any of this work in a mod, I am all ears (but please remember to credit the authors - including Plato!). J
Lastly, a few helpful notes (I may add more later):
1. Just starting out in Elder Scrolls lore? The Imperial Library (www.imperial-library.info) and the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (uesp.net) are excellent resources from which to draw facts and inspiration.
2. All submissions should be written in American English, as this is the form of English used by Bethesda.
3. I’m aware that people will always find some works preferable to others, and whilst I’m setting out to be as lore-friendly as possible other people may have contrasting opinions on what ‘lore-friendly’ means. Hence my decision to keep this as a resource - it will be up to modders to decide what's appropriate for including in their games.
Thanks for reading!