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    Worship In Skyrim

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    Paeter
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    Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on December 9th 2011, 7:47 pm

    With "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" sucking the hours and social lives out of RPG gamers all over, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the world of Elder Scrolls from an angle that usually isn't covered. That of the religious culture.

    Almost every big name RPG and fantasy novel series incorporates religion in some form. Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age had polytheistic and somewhat monotheistic settings. Even sci-fi RPGs like Mass Effect 1 and 2 and Fallout 3 have religion involved in numerous subplots, if not the main story. But the Elder Scrolls games may have one of the richest fictional theologies ever developed for a video game RPG.

    MY GAME WITHIN THE GAME

    A fun little excercise I like to do when I play a new RPG is try to figure out what religion I would follow if I were in this world and doing my best to seek out the truth about who is really running the universe. I play the part of a spiritual "seeker", letting every nutjob prophet, uptight priest or tranquilized shaman talk my ear off about the virtues of their faith.

    This isn't something I do to be uptight or judgmental toward the creators of the games. It's purely a fun little intellectual diversion. However, I've found that the experience of playing this little "game within the game" offers some tools useful for evaluating the truth claims of real-world belief systems. I'll leave it to you to determine where the parallels lie between Elder Scrolls and the various belief systems in our world, but I thought it would be fun to share some of the kinds of thought processes I go through as I "search for the truth" in a fantasy world.

    Since each Elder scrolls game only scratches the surface of the rich fictitious theology acting as the foundation, I found the information gathered on the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (http://www.uesp.net/ ) to be valuable. So I'll reference them a few times and you can feel free to check them out yourself if you'd like.

    WORSHIP

    As humans, we're made to worship. And by worship, I mean "assign immense personal value and priority". We all worship something. And when we find something bigger and better than our current focus of worship, we shift focus to worship the bigger and better thing that has come along.

    Elder Scrolls has a polytheistic setting. (Many gods instead of one.) So my first objective in a polytheistic setting is to look for the oldest, biggest, best god in existence. If I worship anything less, there will always be the potential for me to be less satisfied than I could be in the focus of worship I have chosen. "Yeah, Sheogorath, I know you're great and deserve worship and stuff. But the god that made YOU is all you are... and MORE! So why waste my time when I'm eventually gonna want to obsess over him instead?"

    SMALL "G" GODS

    Sheogorath and most other gods commonly mentioned during gameplay in "Oblivion" and "Skyrim" are among the "Daedra", the beings most commonly thought of as the gods of Elder Scrolls. But upon closer examination, these gods are really just extremely powerful, incomprehensible, yet FINITE beings. They came into existence as a result of "the interplay of Anu and Padomay". (See http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Gods ) Even more interesting, two other gods, Talos and Arkay, were once human beings (See http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Gods_N#Nine_Divines ), which means that not only are they less than infinite, they are little more than role models in the final analysis, since theoretically I can do what they did and become a god myself.

    Hmm.

    Maybe I've set my standard too high. Why demand for myself the expectation of finding a truly infinite god to worship? Because logical deduction indicates that one should exist.

    NEED FOR THE INFINITE

    In every way detectable, the idea of decay is a physical reality in Elder Scrolls as it is in our world. Physical objects and life forms slowly break down over time. (How many tattered and rotted "ruined books" have YOU run into so far in Skyrim?) This means that in the universe of Elder Scrolls, matter is not eternal. It is constantly progressing toward decay. This also means that matter had a beginning point, just as the nature of decay points to a beginning for our universe.

    Here's where deductive reasoning kicks in and tells me to expect to eventually find an infinite god in the world of Elder Scrolls. (Deep breath, it's a bit of a mental hike.)

    1. Everything that has a beginning has a cause. So the Elder Scrolls universe has a cause. Now maybe the cause of the Elder Scrolls universe has a cause too, but we'll just cut out any middle steps and cut straight to looking at the very "First Cause" for the Elder Scrolls universe.

    2. Since there can't be an infinite chain of successive causes, the "First Cause" of the Elder Scrolls universe must be without beginning and uncaused.

    3. Since this "first cause" (which we'll call the FC) precedes matter, it cannot be material itself. So the FC must be immaterial.

    4. Since natural laws came into being with matter, the FC precedes natural law, and so is "supernatural".

    5. All causes are either natural (the result of cause and effect based on natural law) or generated by free will. The FC of Elder Scrolls is "supernatural", and so must instead have a personal, decisive will, as opposed to being a vague "force" of some kind.

    6. The Elder Scrolls FC must exist outside of time, since time is part of the natural universe of matter and the FC precedes matter.

    7. The Elder Scrolls FC must be unchanging, since change is a limitation imposed by time, and the Elder Scrolls FC exists independent of time.

    8. The Elder Scrolls FC must be infinite, since limits are measured based on natural law and potential(the potential to be more or less of something) and the Elder Scrolls FC is independent of natural law and without potential (i.e.unchanging).

    MATCHING THE DESCRIPTION

    So now I'm looking for a god that has no beginning, is non-finite, and is incapable of change. The gods presented so far all had either beginning points or points at which they were different than what they became later. Meaning they are all finite and fall short.

    From what I understand, Anu and Padomay were the gods responsible for forming the cosmos out of "Aurbis", which is the name for "the chaos, or totality, from which the cosmos was formed". ( See http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Aurbis ) So it sounds like maybe this "chaos or totality" (whatever THAT means) might be without beginning. But it still needed a cause to turn it all into the cosmos. So maybe Anu and Padomay are, together, my FC. The infinite beings I should be aiming my worship at.

    Hmm.

    From what I understand, "The brothers Anu and Padomay came from the Void" (http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Void). This poses a bit of a problem. "The Void" in Elder Scrolls is "the name applied to the dimensions outside of the known realms". For something to "come and go", it has to travel. If something can travel, it's not in all places at once. But something that is infinite IS in all places at once. So Anu and Padomay cannot be truly infinite, and must themselves have some source or cause.

    Crap.

    This is where the revealed theology of the Elder Scrolls universe ends. There must be a personal being above and beyond Anu and Padomay, but there is no record of this being revealing itself to anyone in the Elder Scrolls universe. So it appears I'll have to join the likes of real-world ancient Athenians and construct an alter "To The Unknown God" and hope that someday he'll see fit to reveal himself or send a "Paul" my way.

    Acts 17:22-31 (ESV)

    So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

    The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.'

    Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."



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    Paeter
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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on February 14th 2012, 11:49 pm

    Since posting my thoughts on the religions of Skyrim, I've taken something of a newer approach in a somewhat "meta-gaming" vein. Now I've determined that my character is in some way "immortal", with origins from a higher dimensional plane. I've decided that my character has the same knowledge that I do. Namely, that his real name is Paeter and he lives in the real world and no one he interacts with in Tamriel is "real", but rather simulations of reality that some dark force has placed in my path to conceal the existence of the "First Cause", which I feel compelled by reason to seek out.

    For this reason, a quest for power and dominance over Tamriel has become my focus. Not in the usual power-mad way you might think, since as I mentioned, my character is aware that his environment is an illusion and none of the "people" he interacts with have any real feelings. They are deceptive simulations.

    Rather, my quest for power is so that I might finally have the strength to go toe to toe with the biggest, baddest cosmic "god" they can throw at me, and get him to squeal regarding the truth of the "First Cause" before he dies.

    For this reason, I take on every quest I can, since knowledge and experience gives power toward this end. I do the "good" things and the "evil" things, playing the sick game of whatever dark power is trying to deceive me, until I can finally strip away the lies and begin my true quest for the truth.

    Obviously, this would be a scary and psychotic way to approach real life (so I don't recommend it), but the difference here is that my character, an extension of me, knows objectively, based on irrefutable evidence, that his experience of Tamriel is an illusion.

    In one sense this is an extremely nerdy way to take a game too seriously. Definitely pretty wacky, but a lot of fun. I even "sold my soul" to the daedra "Nocturna" in exchange for the power she coughed up, but little does she know she's gonna a get major butt kickin' too when the time comes! Stupid fake deity...

    ;-)


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    WhiteBoy
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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  WhiteBoy on February 15th 2012, 1:40 pm

    So... have you seen Inception, The Matrix, and Sucker Punch?? Wink


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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on February 15th 2012, 2:36 pm

    WhiteBoy wrote:So... have you seen Inception, The Matrix, and Sucker Punch?? Wink

    Why no. Who are these strange people you speak of?
    Wink


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    Nathan James Norman
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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Nathan James Norman on February 16th 2012, 3:16 pm

    Paeter wrote:
    Rather, my quest for power is so that I might finally have the strength to go toe to toe with the biggest, baddest cosmic "god" they can throw at me, and get him to squeal regarding the truth of the "First Cause" before he dies.


    . . . and I think we've just found the kick-awesome idea that's going to grow into Paeter's post-Spirit Blade project. Smile

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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on February 16th 2012, 8:13 pm

    Nathan James Norman wrote:
    . . . and I think we've just found the kick-awesome idea that's going to grow into Paeter's post-Spirit Blade project. Smile

    lol! Who knows? I know that at SOME point I want to do some kind of dark, sword and sorcery fantasy. (As opposed to the more "high fantasy" of "Pilgrim's Progress".) A dude on a quest to kill the "gods" could rock in serious ways!


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    O

    Post  VesselZero on March 3rd 2012, 3:04 pm

    Circles. It's all there.

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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Hackmodford on March 3rd 2012, 7:56 pm

    I'm really glad you posted your second post about this issue because I was really warping my brain to try and figure out if I should join the dark brother hood just to get the uber-horse...


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    Drew.Rub

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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Drew.Rub on March 4th 2012, 1:05 am

    Glad you posted this new take on the world of Skyrim/Oblivion. i've been playing through Oblivion (only one I have access to at the moment), and it's fun, but I've tried to avoid doing things for the "dark/evil" gods, since I tend to play characters that lean towards the good side.

    Perhaps I can use this same take on the game to complete some of the tasks in Oblivion.

    Of course, being a Christian, I also tend to get a tad bit annoyed that my character is praying at the Alter of the Nine. I tend to think that my characters are reflections of me, and thus the character believes in a single God, not multiple gods. Which, in a world populated by orcs, elves, undead, and magic-wielders, might be a bit out of place.

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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on March 5th 2012, 12:49 pm

    Hackmodford wrote:I'm really glad you posted your second post about this issue because I was really warping my brain to try and figure out if I should join the dark brother hood just to get the uber-horse...

    Do it! They are all lying to you! And none of them are real! Use their own lies against them and destroy the puppet master! Bwahahahaaaa!
    cheers


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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on March 5th 2012, 12:54 pm

    Drew.Rub wrote:

    Of course, being a Christian, I also tend to get a tad bit annoyed that my character is praying at the Alter of the Nine.

    Totally get what you're feeling. It bothered me too until I started adding "thought bubbles" along side those extremely limiting dialogue options-

    Night Mother: Do you pledge your life and eternal soul to my service?

    Vincent: I am yours, Night Mother.

    Vincent Thought Bubble: Stupid cow. No WAY you're a god if you just fell for that load of crap. Now where's my new horse?

    Wink

    I also often enjoy speaking my "thought bubbles" out loud. (Yes, I talk to my video game. My wife is concerned.)


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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on October 11th 2013, 6:37 pm

    I know I'm reviving a pretty old thread, which I guess is a forum no-no in the interwebs world. But I'm back to playing Skyrim again with the DLC "Dragoborn" and was struck by the introduction of a new "god" to the game world. The humans living in Solstheim worship a god called "The All-Maker", who is "the maker of all things" and is also the source of all life. They view him as totally separate from the pantheon of the other gods and view the polytheistic beliefs of the world as "strange".

    The humans seem to have a works-based theology attached to worship of him (do good and be worthy of being with the All-Maker after death blah-blah-yawn.) but this may be the deity I've been looking for. And I can always clean up that theology a bit in my mind.

    And refreshingly, those who worship this "singular" deity seem humble and authentic rather than the tired-out "holier-than-thou-hypocrite".

    Not much info about the All-Maker yet, but I'll definitely be seeking it out!


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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  Paeter on October 11th 2013, 6:38 pm

    Of course if the All-Maker turns out to be legit, I may suddenly feel bad about all that killing and stuff. Whoopsy! Hopefully he's an All-Maker of grace and forgiveness! Wink 


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    Re: Worship In Skyrim

    Post  tmorrill on October 16th 2013, 11:54 pm

    That's awesome that they added something like that. I even like the name "All-Maker" its close enough to the "First Cause" to make me happy.

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