Escape From Prison is the first main quest of The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Following Jagar Tharn's betrayal to the Empire and Uriel Septim VII, the Eternal Champion is contacted by Ria Silmane, where they are to escape the Imperial Dungeons and start their ten year journey.
Ria Silmane, once Tharn's apprentice, is captured before she can warn the Elder Council of the Imperial Battle Mage's treachery. Manipulating the essence of magic, Tharn prepares to take the true Emperor's place as ruler of the known land.The Imperial Wizard wastes no time gathering his servants, and turning them into twisted counterparts of the Guard... —Arena's introduction
- Receive Ria Silmane's dream bridge.
- Escape the cell, explore and loot the prisons.
- Level up at some point in the process.
- Find the Shift Gate and escape.
- Sleep to receive Silmane's next dream bridge.
After picking their name, the Eternal Champion is given two choices: One, to answer ten questions regarding their moral, and ethical reactions and decisions to different situations and problems to automatically pick a class that would best suit the player. This automatic selection, according to the manual, "...only reflects what you would probably survive longest as, based upon the way you answered the questions.", and should only be used as a guideline. The second option is simply selecting a class from a list of eighteen character classes, without any help.
The Champion is sent to a map of Tamriel, where they must select a home province. The selected province provides a different bonus.
The Champion is then sent to the Character Sheet, or the "stat-generation screen." All stats for every Champion range from 1 to 100, with 50 being the general average for a basic character. The Champion is given a randomized amount of bonus points, which they can apply to their traits to benefit them in their endeavors, along with a randomized amount of Gold in their starting collection, seemingly maximized at 200.
After everything has been distributed, the Champion must choose their appearance, which varies due to their selection of race, sex and class for their character. After which, the player enters "The Arena," and is greeted by the ghost of the recently-murdered Ria Silmane.
The quest first starts with Silmane appearing before the Eternal Champion, telling them of escape and events that recently have happened.
After Ria's dream bridge, the Eternal Champion wakes up in their dark, mossy prison cell. The first thing that they should do is exit the cell, equip the weapon they started with and find more gold. This can be done by first walking outside of the cell, turning left, and looting the armor cache next to the cell's entrance, and equipping any better weapons and armor they find.
"Roleplaying messages" might appear on the screen in and outside the cell, which are messages describing the Champion's current surroundings, and are harmless and normally have no effect. After this, the Champion has two choices:
- Escape the dungeons as quickly as possible.
- Stay in the dungeons and gain extra loot and experience.
Regardless of their choice, three things should be noted.
- No matter which way the Eternal Champion goes, they will always run into an enemy in the dungeons. These encounters are randomized. The two most common enemies are goblins and rats, though more rarely, they may also come across a Thief, or a Lizard Man.
- The Champion might lose health and will need to heal. It is unlikely that they will have the ability to heal, unless they are a Mage, so the alternative is to sleep in niches: rectangular openings of elevated surface in the walls, where enemies will not attack during rest. The Champion can also choose to camp on the floor, with the risk of being attacked at any given time during the period.
- It is very easy to get lost in the dungeons. All dungeons in Arena are massive, handcrafted mazes with similar looking corridors, textures and colors. It's recommended to use the map's writing tool for reference on loot piles you haven't pillaged, the starting room, exits and niches.
With this information taken into account, the Champion should now make their choice whether they want to escape quickly, or gain loot. If they choose to escape, a good way to reach the Shift Gate fast is to follow Ria's advice: go west, then south repeatedly from the prison cell they initially spawned in, where they will have to fight few goblins/rats on the way to the gate.
If the Champion chooses to instead stay and explore, this proves beneficial as the goblins/rats and exploring can give the Champion lots of experience and gold. Worthwhile weapons and armor can also be found while exploring the dungeons.
Loot in Arena can be recognized easily by a pile of gold, an opened or closed chest, or a suit of armor on the floor. Loot can range from a random amount of gold, to weapons or armor. It is still important for the Champion to rest from time to time to heal, and regain stamina after fights. If they are having a hard time finding a place to rest, a good place to do so is their own prison cell, and rest on the slab that the ruby key was on. This counts as an elevated surface, and no monsters will spawn.
It is recommended that the Champion level up during their time in the dungeons. To continue the main quest after they escape, the player must reach level 2 or higher, and sleep to get another dream bridge from Silmane again.
Eventually, the Champion will come across Silmane's Shift Gate, a square portal-like wall that has a blue border around it with black in the middle. On the floppy disk version of Arena, a window will pop up asking the Champion a question as they approach:
What is the cost of (Item/Spell)?
Originally for the floppy disk version of Arena, the Champion was supposed to get the answer from the manual that came with the box. However, on all current releases the costs of the certain item or spell are found in the games directory, in the "Docs" folder under the name "Passwords.txt." If they answer the question incorrectly the first time, it will ask the same question except with a different spell or item, and if they fail the second time the game will close.
After the Champion has correctly answered the question,or skipped it depending on their version, they will be teleported into a random city in the province which they selected. After this, the quest is officially complete, and the Champion can sleep in an inn, or where available to dream bridge from Ria, beginning the quest to find the eight pieces of the Staff of Chaos.
- The dungeons have an excellent amount of leveled treasure. Taking items, even if they are not useful will be very helpful in the first steps as they can be sold for hefty amounts depending on your Charisma and Luck (some weapons may be worth 5 gold, while some may be worth 125).
- If the treasure the Champion found was poor, reloading a save and looting again will give a different, randomly generated amount of loot.
- Enemies will still hurt the Champion, even if in water.
- If the Champion's strength is high enough, they will break the cell door open by swinging at it with a weapon, or their fists, avoiding Ria's key overall. They will take damage, though.
This section contains bugs related to Escape From Prison (Arena). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- Enemies will become stuck around corners.
- Some enemies, when stuck behind doors or walls, can be seen through them.
- If the Champion sleeps in the corridors after leveling up, Ria will dream bridge with them even though they are supposed to when the Champion escapes. This does not affect the main quest.
- If the Champion breaks open their cell door and takes the key afterwards, they cannot remove the key.
- Staff of Magnus, but upon entering the cost, the game will act as if the question was failed.
Upon taking the Shift Gate's question, the gate will occasionally ask for the cost of The item it's referring to is the
- This may also occur with an item named "pog11.img," and possibly multiple other files.
- Fail the question and answer the second. There is no other fix, other than obtaining a build of the CD-ROM re-release. The question will not repeat.
- Even in niches, enemies can still spawn and will attack the player.
|Arena Main Quest|
|Escape From Prison • Stonekeep • Fang Lair • Fortress of Ice • Labyrinthian • Selene's Web • Elden Grove • Temple of Agamanus • Halls of Colossus • Temple of the Mad God • Crystal Tower • Mines of Khuras • Crypt of Hearts • Vaults of Gemin • Murkwood • Black Gate • Dagoth-Ur • Imperial Palace|