Elder Scrolls

Escape From Prison (Arena)

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For other uses, see Escape From Prison.

Escape From Prison is the first main quest of The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Despite it being the first quest, it can be quite difficult for a new player. This level also indirectly introduces some of the game's mechanics.

Quick walkthrough

  • Listen to Ria Silmane
  • Take the Ruby Key and use it to open the cell door
  • Reach the Shift Gate
  • Answer the Gate's question to get out


Emperor Uriel Septim VII, Emperor of Tamriel stands with Talin, leader of the Imperial Guards. They have been summoned by Jagar Tharn, Imperial Battle Mage of the Empire on rumors of treachery. The Emperor is betrayed, and transported to a dimension of Tharn's choosing. After months of preparation, Jagar Tharn takes the throne. 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 Emporer'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 Emperor's Guard. —Arena backstory


Ria Silmane

The quest first starts with Ria appearing before the Eternal Champion. She tells them that Jagar Tharn has taken the disguise of the true Emperor, and that he has imprisoned all the members of the Imperial Guard. She instructs the Eternal Champion to escape prison before any further dialogue can be done:

Do not fear for it is I, Ria Silmane. (Player's name), listen to me, there are no others left to carry on this fight. You have been left in this cell to die. Jagar Tharn, Imperial Battle Mage of Tamriel has taken on the guise of the true Emperor. He does not see you as a threat, being only a minor part of the Imperial Court. In that act of arrogance, he has made his first mistake.
The Emperor is Betrayed

The Emperor is betrayed by Jagar Tharn

Look to the north wall of this cell. You will find a ruby key which will unlock the door. Take it and make your escape. The passages here were once used by Tharn to hide treasures he had stolen fom the Emperor's coffers. If you wish, you can gather enough to support yourself away from the Imperial Seat.

Be careful, there are many creatures which inhabit the sewers now, vile rats and goblins, it is too late for me, for I am already dead. Only my powers as a Sorceress keep me between this life and the next. That power however is waning. Do not succumb to greed or you may find these tunnels to be your final resting place as well. I can still work my magic to a certain extent.

If you travel west from this cell, then south, you will find a Shift Gate. It will transport you far enough from the center of the empire that you should be safe. If you survive these sewers you will see me again. Remember, (Player's name), Tharn has taken on the guise of the Emperor. No one will gainsay his word for yours. I will come to you again in your dreams, so it is imperative that you rest from time to time. In that way I will be able to communicate with you and lend my aid.

You are entering a dangerous arena, my friend, one in which the players are beings beyond your mortal comprehension. I do not envy your role. There is however a power within you as yet untapped.

Look for me when you have gained exprience in the world.

You are my last and best hope..." Ria Silmane

Imperial Dungeons

Arena First Quest

A niche that the champion in Arena can sleep in

After Ria's vision, the Eternal Champion wakes up in their dark prison cell. The first thing that they should do is exit their cell and get a weapon. This can be done by first walking straight ahead and turning right. Some roleplaying messages will appear on the screen, and after the Champion turns right, they should see a key sitting on a niche (pictured). They should then proceed to grab the key by double clicking on it, then double click on the door to open it with their key. There is some loot to their right after they exit the cell containing some useful items. After this, the Eternal Champion has two choices:

  • Escape the prison as quickly as possible.
  • Stay a bit and get some extra loot/levels.

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. The two most common enemies are goblins and rats, though they can also come across a Thief or, more rarely, Lizard Men. The second thing worth noting is that they might lose quite a bit of health and will thus need to heal; it is unlikely that the Eternal Champion will have healing potions at this point, so the alternative is to sleep in niches. Niches are the grey slabs in the wall that they can "camp" in until they are healed without any worry of enemies killing them. They can also choose to camp on the floor with the risk of being attacked by enemies at any given time.

However, no enemies can be within a distance of the Champion in order for them to camp anywhere. Finally, it is quite easy to get lost in the Imperial Dungeons. All Arena dungeons are essentially big mazes and are easy to get lost in. It is therefore recommended to have a map to refer to make sure one knows where one is going. They can choose however to purposely not have a map to have a little more challenge.


Map of the Imperial Dungeons. The green square is the Shift Gate, the red squares are doors.

With this information taken into account, the Champion should now make their choice whether they want to escape quickly, or get some loot. If they choose to escape quickly, a good way to reach the Shift Gate fast is to follow Ria's advice and go "West" then "South" from the prison cell they initially spawned in. They will have to fight few goblins/rats on the way to the gate. Refer to the map for a better look at this (the prison cell is the square room on the middle right of the map).

If the Eternal Champion chooses to instead stay a bit, this can prove quite beneficial as the goblins/rats can level them up quite a bit. They can also find some worthwhile loot while exploring the dungeons. Loot in Arena can be recognized easily by a pile of gold/armor lying around on the floor—it can range from a random amount of gold to weapons or even a magic staff. It is still important, however, to keep in mind that it is easy to get lost and disoriented, so the Champion should also rest from time to time to heal up. If they are having a hard time finding a place to rest, a good place to do so is their own prison cell.

Shift Gate

Shift Gate

The Shift Gate

Eventually, the Champion will come across the Shift Gate. It is recognized by a square shape that has a blue border around it with black in the middle. It is located on the southwest part of the dungeon (the champion can also refer to their map). After they find the Shift Gate, a window will pop up asking the champion a question, as follows:

"What is the spellcasting cost of (spell)?"

Originally, the Champion was supposed to get the answer from the Arena Manual that came with the box. However, if the Champion is using a downloaded version on an emulator, see the article Spells and the spell asked by the Shift Gate can be found. If they answer the question incorrectly, it will ask the same question except with a different spell. After the Champion has answered the question, they will proceed to be teleported into a random city in a province of their choice. After this, the quest is officially complete, and the Champion can begin to find the eight pieces to the Staff of Chaos.


  • The Imperial Dungeons have a good amount of gold and treasures. Taking some gold and items (even if they are not useful to the Eternal Champion, because they can be sold in stores) will be very helpful in the first levels.
  • Leveling inside the Imperial Dungeons is not hard and can also be helpful, as the Eternal Champion will get out with some experience.
  • Enemies can still hurt the Champion even while they are in water, so one must be careful while climbing out.


This section contains bugs related to Escape From Prison (Arena). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  / XB1  ,  PS3  / PS4  ,  PC  / MAC  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person-anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  •  PC   Enemies can get stuck around corners making for an easy kill.
  •  PC   Rats will often attack the Champion, but not be visible on the screen due to their view.
    •  PC(Fix)   This can be fixed simply by backing up so the Champion can see the rats, or they can simply swing their sword at the ground and hope to kill the rat.
  •  PC   If the Eternal Champion sleeps on the corridors, they will get the second vision of Ria even though they are supposed to get it when they escape the prison and sleep in an inn. This does not affect the main quest, though.
Arena Main Quest
Escape From PrisonFang LairLabyrinthianElden GroveHalls of ColossusCrystal TowerCrypt of HeartsMurkwoodDagoth-UrImperial Palace

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