Welcome back to another addition of “look at all the wackiness that happens between the Elder Scrolls games.” Before any of you give me a hard time about how this article is shorter than my last one regarding “What Happened Between Oblivion and Skyrim,” I’d like to point out that Skyrim takes place 200 years after Oblivion. Wanna’ know how soon Oblivion happens after Morrowind? Six years. Still, I managed to find a pretty big handful of events that helped shape the world of Oblivion that is either implied through conversation or context.
As is a theme in the Elder Scrolls world, any time something of great importance happens, usually some sort of large victory for the side of “good,” it will be incredibly short lived. A reoccurring theme is that any time darkness is pushed away, an even greater darkness pushes through and fills the vacuum. This is basically my way of saying that this article is probably going to be as much of a shame as my last one, since anything you accomplished in Morrowind simply set the stage for the events of Oblivion; the game where gates to the Daedric plane just started opening up randomly all over the world, and hordes of creatures attacked entire cities. So, let’s take a look at the events that led to that dark chapter of Tamriel’s history, but remember, it is just a game, and the writer’s always intended for your adventure to have a very bad ending.
22 Martin Septim Begins Playing With Daedric Magic
Martin Septim was the illegitimate son of Uriel Septim VII and was swept off to be kept away from the public eye. He was raised knowing nothing of his royal heritage, and therefore, was free from scrutiny to fall in with a bad crowd; however, he joined the Sanguine Cult.
By his own admission, Martin got in over his head with the dark arts, and with bad results. During an ill-fated “experiment,” something went wrong, costing some of Martin’s friends their lives. After that, he quickly turned away from all things Daedric, which seems like the best course of action.
21 Raven Rock Is Founded
Not long after the events of Morrowind, there was a massive Ebony Vein discovered on the southwestern shore of Hirstaang Forest. This was in its glory days, which you get a glimpse of in the expansion DLC Bloodmoon. As always, things go south when Dark Elves take over.
By the time you visit the place in the Dragonborn DLC, it is in serious disrepair (you’ll find out why further down the article what happened after Oblivion). It’s got a rough history.
20 Hannibal Traven Writes “The Black Arts On Trial”
After fighting countless reanimated skeletons and zombies, it is hard to imagine that the art of necromancy was ever considered for debate as a legitimate school of magic. Hannibal was a very progressive wizard, though, and wanted to clearly justify why it could never be taught in the Mages Guild.
It’s a pretty good, if not short, read, which actually addresses arguments both for and against teaching necromancy. Of course, the person making the arguments for it turned out to actually be a practicing necromancy, so that didn’t help the argument.
19 A New Arch-Mage
Hannibal Traven wasn’t an accomplished author, and he also reached the enviable position of Arch-Mage. He was the head of the Anvil Mages Guild before being promoted, and spent most of his career attempting to stamp out all traces of necromancy.
He created a lot of reforms around the Mages Guild, most importantly, surrounding his own personal disgust of the Black Arts. Mages before him had been somewhat wishy-washy on the subject, but Hannibal had a no tolerance rule regarding those kinds of experiments.
18 The Ban On Necromancy
As discussed before, a lot of Arch-Mages before Hannibal Traven had somewhat lenient policies towards necromancy. Some of them turned a blind eye to the dabbling of their students, while others were avid practitioners themselves. It was publicly banned, but privately, it very much still being used.
However, that all changed when Traven took over as Arch-Mage. We don’t know what made Traven so adamantly opposed to necromancy, but whatever it was, he wouldn’t tolerate it both inside or outside of the Mages College.
17 Mages Guild Starts Suspending Students
As is very clear by now, Hannibal was somewhat of a stickler for his own rules, which mostly centered around the Dark Arts. To help stamp out the perceived scourge, he began enacting suspensions from the Guild to any sorcerer who is caught practicing banned magic.
Suspensions were usually temporary, with many wizards being able to rejoin if they wanted to. Of course, you couldn’t just keep coming back and getting suspended, if you strike out one too many times, you face expulsion.
16 Vivec Disappears
You all remember Vivec. He’s the warrior-poet demigod who stole power from the deity Lorkhan and helped curse all the Chimer people to become Dunmer. It’s a whole melodramatic thing, which I don’t have enough time to go into here.
When you, the player, destroy the Heart of Lorkhan, Vivec loses his powers and becomes less than divine. He then promptly disappears, abandoning the city he had spent thousands of years protecting. This sudden disappearance has some unintended consequences, such as…
15 Baar Dau Begins To Fall
Baar Dau was that very cool, floating prison above Vivec City. Lore surmises that Sheogorath threw the meteor at Vivec City, and Vivec himself used his near godlike power to keep it suspended. Then, it was hollowed out and transformed into a re-education center.
After Vivec took off to who knows where, the meteor began to slowly fall again, threatening to eliminate the Red Mountain and the entire city. Seems kind of irresponsible for Vivec to leave his subjects to fend for themselves.
14 A Device Is Created To Keep Baar Dau Afloat
Obviously, the people of Vivec City had to do something about the suddenly re-crashing meteor plummeting toward their hometown, so a couple of Dunmer “scientists” invented a device that would do the same thing that Vivec did: keeping Baar Dau afloat.
This didn’t work for too long, though, since the device required being fed hundreds of powerful souls to be kept running. When the wrong soul got donated, the person who tried to rescue it broke the machine, and Baar Tau began falling again.
13 Mages Guild Create New Approval Rules
If you tried to join the Mages Guild and gain access to the Arcane University during your playthrough of Oblivion, you’ll remember that it took a lot of hoop jumping, and you need to get a recommendation from each of the Guild leaders.
However, this wasn’t a rule as recently as six years before the events of Oblivion. It isn’t clear what motivated the College to create these new rules, but it is probably a safe bet that Hannibal Traven was trying to keep out any necromancers.
12 The Mage Schools Get Divided
Another weird thing about all the different Mages Guilds in all the different areas is that each city seems to practice only a certain kind of magic. Evidently, there was an addendum to the Mages Guild Charter saying that the sale of spells would be distributed to the different cities.
Cheydinhal got Alteration, Chorrol got Conjuration, Skingrad got Destruction, Bravil got Illusion, Leyawiin got Mysticism, and Anvil got Restoration. I didn’t bother listing Bruma, because it got nothing, and nobody knows what Kvatch got because it was destroyed in the Oblivion Crisis.
11 Raven Rock Runs Out Of Money
We discussed earlier how you visited Raven Rock during its glory days (in the Bloodmoon DLC) and how by the time you see it again in Dragonborn, it has basically fallen apart.
This means that sometime in the six years between games, Raven Rock just goes flat broke. This is easy to explain: they ran out of Ebony to mine. This is a pretty common story in the real world, too, where mining towns turn into ghost towns when all of the resources are depleted.
10 Nords Consider Invasion
The Nords are always looking to expand their territory, usually due to some perceived slights they experienced from the other races throughout history. So, when support and resources began to dwindle around Raven Rock, the Nords saw a great opportunity to take something from the Empire.
It doesn’t strike me like the wisest invasion plan, though, since we already established that Raven Rock was basically a shell of its former self. But, it could have served as a good launch point, or maybe they simply wanted an easily defendable territory to take from the Imperials.
9 Knights Of The Thorn Are Founded
The Knights of the Thorn are not very popular around their native Cheydinhal, and for very good reason. All they did was boast about their exploits, without actually ever doing anything of note. Of course, nobody can ever complain about them since their founder was the son of the Count, making him untouchable.
They pretty much chose the worst time to become fake heroes, since the Oblivion Crisis is only a year or two away. And if you ended up playing Oblivion, you know how well all that goes for them.
8 Grommok Explores Fort Wariel
Grommok gro-Barak isn’t a particularly memorable character, but you do eventually find and read his diary. Some of the events leading up to his eventual demise (by your hand) are contained therein, and occur slightly before the events of Oblivion.
One achievement he racks up is raiding Fort Wariel, which eventually puts him on the path to his next location. I’ll admit, Fort Wariel isn’t overly impressive in any sort of meaningful way, but knowing Grommok’s eventual fate and seeing where it began is worth noting.
7 Dawnfang And Duskfang Are Found
The real reason I include anything Grommok did on this list is that right after his raid on Fort Wariel, he stumbles upon Dawnfang (or Duskfang, depending on when he found it). This sword does different kinds of damage depending on the time of day, so it counts as two swords.
You take this sword off of Grommok after you deal him a disproportionately poor fate, but hey, when Sheogorath tells you to do something insane, you had better do it.
6 Martin Septim Gets Converted
We talked at the beginning of the article about how Martin Septim had been tricked by Dark Magic, and after trying out something beyond him, he had cost some of his friends their lives. It’s easy to see how something like that would turn you away from Daedra for good.
However, he did a complete 18o and got convinced into worshipping the Nine Divines, which are the polar opposite of Daedra. This is the state you find him in when you finally track him down in Oblivion.
5 Mehrunes Dagon Gets Involved
I’ll be honest, nobody really knows when Mehrunes Dagon started making his play to invade Tamriel. We know that it happened sometime before the Oblivion Crisis, so let’s say for this articles sake that it happened in the six years between games.
Mehrunes Dagon gave the Mysterium Xarxes to Mankar Camoran. That’s a lot of gibberish that basically means a demon gave a dark book to an unbalanced person. Predictably, this book was not filled with fun, puppy-based spells.
4 Mankar Camoran Founds The Mythic Dawn
Who would’ve guessed that you give a lunatic zealot dedicated to a Dark Lord a powerful spell book, he would start a cult. It basically came out of left field.
Exploiting the powers of the book, Mankar founded the Mythic Dawn, who were dedicated to bringing Mehrunes Dagon out of his realm and into our realm. And you know, for a plucky bunch of underdogs, they actually come close to achieving their goal. As always, it was up to you to stop them.
3 You Get Thrown In Jail
Thinking back, a lot of RPGs like to start you off with being a prisoner. I guess this is the best way to both thrust you into a frantic escape, as well as provide reasoning as to why you have zero armor or money. Good writing tool.
So, Oblivion starts off with you wasting away behind bars, so presumably, you ended up here sometime before the start of the game. You can be pretty fresh-faced, so hypothetically, you haven’t been there for long before all the turmoil begins.
2 Uriel Septim's Sons Start Dropping Off
A big part of the Mythic Dawn’s plot is to make sure a Septim isn't sitting on the throne, which is one of those weird little things you need to summon a wicked force for. So, before they make their big play to take out the king, they start taking out his family first.
It must be heartbreaking to watch some sinister, shadowy plot engulf all of your offspring for reasons you don’t fully understand, but if you look back at previous games, Uriel has not led a charmed life.
1 Uriel Flees The City
Seeing that an attempt on his life was about to be made, and that no more Septims remained alive to sit on the throne outside of himself, Uriel made the decision to escape the city through an underground tunnel. That’s when he meets you in jail.
This kicks off your whole adventure, not to mention it pretty much ends Uriel’s right there. It’s weird to think that so many significant things can happen in the short span of just six years.