Origin stories have a special place in the RPG genre, appearing in famous franchises like Dungeons and Dragons, Dragon Age, and Baldur’s Gate 3. A short box of text or unique line of dialogue is all it takes to separate new characters in the world from NPCs and prevent characters from being a blank slate dropped into heroism. Unfortunately, this mechanic has not been given its time in the sun with the Elder Scrolls series. While Skyrim’s intro is memorable in its own meme-worthy way, it fails to explain much about the player character’s past or reason for being in the country. Expanding on why the story’s main plot happens can increase the effectiveness of the plot as a whole and should be added in Elder Scrolls 6.
Fans of the Elder Scrolls franchise have undoubtedly spent time mulling over the various race choices for their characters. Whether for the perks that are offered between the races, or the reactions that players will get from different NPCs in Skyrim, species can determine early-game playstyles in the series. Implementing some form of backstory in Elder Scrolls 6 would assist in-game immersion for players, assisting in a smoother transition from the beginning of the game to the inevitable hero status their characters will receive.
By introducing origins or origin stories to Elder Scrolls 6, Bethesda can change up the opening formula of the franchise with short, unique cutscenes or quests that reflect the player character’s origins. Brief descriptions of where characters’ adventures begin through text or opening missions are sometimes all that is needed to set the scene for a good story. By adapting backgrounds such as Urchin, Commoner, Noble, Criminal, Merchant, or Adventurer, player characters then open a new storytelling avenue for Elder Scrolls 6. Beginning with a level in Pickpocketing due to a Criminal background or having more gold and Persuasion thanks to a Noble bloodline can greatly impact the way players enjoy the game.
One of the features of Elder Scrolls that has been a staple of the series since NPCs have been able to speak has been the reactive dialogue. Memorable lines such as the famous “I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow to the knee,” are entertaining, but don’t hold much weight toward players. The inclusion of backstories could join the many lines of NPC dialogue to increase immersion and player character importance in the game. Backgrounds could also contribute to relationships with NPCs, such as lower prices for characters with more influential or Noble backgrounds, while characters with less privileged or Criminal backgrounds suffer more scrutiny in respected establishments. These backgrounds could also contribute to joining guilds, as characters from higher lifestyles might be scrutinized in factions such as the Elder Scrolls‘ Thieves Guild.
Throughout the many Elder Scrolls games, there are countless side quests for players to complete. Most of these missions involve in-game locations, factions, characters of importance, objects, events in the lore, and occasionally even Daedric gods. However, a side mission rarely references the player character as a person directly. By including origin stories for player characters, Elder Scrolls 6 could introduce side missions that directly relate to those origins. A side mission focused on finding a missing sibling or avenging a mysteriously murdered friend could increase the personal impact of story content.
While the development of Elder Scrolls 6 has been kept fairly quiet, the addition of origin stories to Elder Scrolls 6 could be the next step in advancing the series’ storytelling. Each entry in the franchise has included incredibly thorough lore through countless books, side quests, and characters. However, Elder Scrolls has consistently failed to contribute this lore into its player characters, which resemble empty voids in the usually lore-rich world. Elder Scrolls 6 could greatly benefit from showing player characters the same love the franchise shows its world.