To understand canon and continuity, the overall The Elder Scrolls series should be looked at as a set of stories written by many different people which "document" historical "events." Although some stories are more reliable than others, they all are looked upon as part of the overall "history." It should also be remembered that all of these stories are simply that—stories. There are numerous errors that inevitably arise between the stories simply because different authors have their own ways of telling the story and may not have the time and resources to perfectly align the details.
The situation can be compared to Greek and Roman mythology, or the stories of King Arthur. The various Elder Scrolls tales are a group of separate but linked stories, and are told by many different authors over a period of time.
Canon and gamesEdit
Things are a bit more complicated with the matter of The Elder Scrolls games. The overall scenario and documentation (cutscenes, manuals, strategy guides etc.) are proper canon. This, however, doesn't apply to "game mechanics" and stats.
- Game mechanics are the "artistic license" properties of the game that separate any computer game from reality and serve to make one more playable and enjoyable. For example, the Hero of Kvatch carrying 10 weapons simultaneously; fully and immediately recovering from wounds simply by waiting for an hour; or bodies of defeated enemies disappearing, etc. are not realistically possible. Health, Magic points, and fatigue are also game mechanics.
- Background or lore information given in the strategy guides such as biographies, stories, descriptions, etc. is proper canon. Stats, on the contrary, are considered game mechanics and include details such as weapon damage, speed, and character stats (strength, intelligence, endurance, health points, etc.).
- In mission and quest solving, canon is assumed to be the fullest and best outcome possible of each mission/quest available as given in the briefing or scenario. The Eternal Champion, the Nerevarine, the Hero of Kvatch, etc. never failed their quests. Although the player can avoid some optional quests, TESWiki assumes that those heroes managed to complete all the "available" feats.
- Problems can arise with customizable options such as the race, gender, or alignment of the main character, until Bethesda releases a definite answer on this. If the race or gender of a character is considered canon, then in-game events and characters that are "triggered" when the non-canonical gender or alignment is selected are non-canon as well. Exceptions are made if a higher canon source, such as a book, state it as happening. In that case, the game is inconsistent to the canon and falls under the "game mechanic" logic.
- TESWiki articles assume that the player picks the good choice for all scenarios; therefore, the secondary choices and events pertaining to the evil choice or triggered by relevant choices are considered non-canon.
- On the other hand, ambiguity is maintained when it comes to alternative choices and solutions to puzzles with the same outcome. For example: in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which Daedric artifact is given to Martin in the main quest is up to the player, and none of them can be taken for sure to be the "true" one.
Developer comments on canonEdit
Is the Creation Club canon? (10/03/17)
What's Bethesda's relationship to lore and canon? (10/26/17)
What about items from other games? Are those canon, too? (10/26/17)
Talking about the Lessons of Vivec, why did you write Sermon Zero? Should it be interpreted as being official lore?
How will the books and texts released after Morrowind (e.g. Vehk's Teachings) and the teasers and reports before Oblivion (e.g. Nu-Mantia Intercept, Love Letter from the Fifth Era, etc.) be folded into the official lore and will this lore appear in-game? Was the 'Trial of Vivec' RP (which culminated in the banishing of Azura from Mundus) a semi-official conclusion of the Morrowind storyline, or can we expect to learn more of its connection to recent events, along with the true fate of Vivec/Vehk?
Does Bethesda consider Obscure Texts and developer comments as "actual lore" or "canon"?(24/11/11)
Which is the canon ending to the Civil War in Skyrim? The Imperials or the Stormcloaks?
"Elder Scrolls - Tamriel - does not follow that paradigm. In Elder Scrolls, all lore is delivered not from on high by revelation, but from people who live their lives in the game, in the world of the game, and based on their beliefs. So that does two things for us: It means the lore always carries not just information about what the person is talking about, but also information about the person and their culture. Because the way the lore is delivered tells you how they believe things actually work in the world."What this means, of course, is that people have different viewpoints - these viewpoints sometimes contradict each other, and so sometimes we have players saying "alright, this person believes that, and that person believes this other thing, but which one's the real thing?" Well… it's not a world like ours. In a world like ours, where you can sort of trust in science and say "well yes, people have different beliefs but I know there is an objective reality." This is a world of myth. This is a world where reality is actually changeable, where the Divines can change not only what happens going forward, but what has happened in the past. So, you know, the idea there is an objective reality behind all these different people's opinions is not necessarily the case in the world of Tamriel. So listen to what all these different people have to say, make up your own mind, make up your own beliefs about what happened and you're as liable - since you're playing in their world and you're playing a character in their world - what you think happened is as legitimate as what that NPC thinks."[OOG 12]
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Cartogriffi's Posts
- ↑ General:Douglas Goodall Interview
- ↑ UESP's PAX Interview with Matt Firor
- ↑ Oblivion:Fan Interview III
- ↑ Pete Hines on Twitter (3 January 2011)
- ↑ Others: Matt Grandstaff, Pete Hines, Christiane Meister, Shane Liesegang, and unknown
- ↑ Pete Hines on Twitter (9 February 2018)
- ↑ Reddit: I am Michael Kirkbride. Ask Me Anything.
- ↑ Reddit: How to tell between the fanfic and actual lore posted here?
- ↑ The Imperial Library Forums: Amulet of Kings
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Ted Peterson's Posts
- ↑ ESO Live - Episode 15