The Skyrim of the Fourth Era is enveloped in the cold cloak of the Season Unending, having wrestled away from the bonds of Imperial rule; High King Ulfric stands alone at the helm of Skyrim and her people. Beneath the thin and beautiful silk veil of peace, the ugly crone of war still weaves her fingers through the goings on of Skyrim and her Kings. Though Ulfric has managed to wear the crown and earn the love of his people, uniting them as a race against any who would oppose their status quo, their sense of normalcy in such a time. Though, in such a time, one can never say that a sense of normalcy would go unappreciated. Where there are hundreds of content villagers happily bracing the yoke of High King Ulfric's rule, one will find that if they dug up not even an inch of dirt, they would find a sprawling labyrinth of lies, cobwebs straining to hold back the gradually apparent boulder of tensions and rumors. Within this labyrinth, halls populated by the agents of the High King, secret cabals of mages, rumors of the dead walking and the machinations of gold-skinned elves.
With the defeat of Alduin at the hands of the Dragonborn, and the defeat of both the Empire and the Dragonborn at the hands of Ulfric, Skyrim has entered into an age of independence not seen for centuries on end. With the lack of looming enemies to fight once more, Ulfric turned his goals inward and created a fitting army out of the stormcloaks. Upon the political scene, he made sure to assert his power of office time and time again. These days, the Jarls barely have a voice of their own in running their own Holds, as Ulfric seeks to gradually chip away at the authority of anyone but himself to keep the crown resting upon his brow. A common half-jest among the Jarls is that Ulfric hasn't fathered an heir just to so that he will never see the crown resting upon anyone's head but his own. As time goes on in the meeting halls of Haafingar, this jest becomes more and more serious in tone.
When ancient watchers of the Starry Heart, Tamriel, learn of the Eye of Magnus, some deem it a right time to step in. The Psijic Order’s first intention was to remove it from any hands that could misuse it. When they showed themselves to Archmage Savos Aren, warning him of future events that would unfold if he did not relinquish the Eye to them, it was already too late. Ancano, with the help of a group of Thalmor plants in the college, had managed to lock themselves away in the Hall of the Elements with the Eye. Using his precious moments before they were noticed, Ancano fed the energy from the Eye into himself, seething with the ethereal energy now flowing through his very being, from his soul to his muscle cords. Savos Aren decided to confront Ancano himself, a fool's task to all who knew. As expected from the Archmage, Ancano struck him down without an effort. The terrible power of the Eye of Magnus was now in even more terrible hands. Witness to this, the Jarl of Winterhold sent a messenger east, riding hard past the ice and snow to the stone walls of Windhelm. Faced with yet another looming enemy to unite the people against magic-users the day that Winterhold fell, Ulfric decided to act; With an army of his trained and zealous Stormcloaks, he marched them to Winterhold, easily capturing the town but losing scores of men trying to cross the bridge. When they finally took the courtyard, Ulfric shouted down Ancano, the mer behind it all, and forever severed his connection to the Eye of Magnus, which was the source of his power, and had he not stopped it, would be the end of Ulfric's rule and the end of Skyrim and Tamriel.
From this, Ulfric further capitalized on this new looming enemy by shifting it not only on the College, whom he had demonized in the political arena as Skyrim's most dangerous institution to the Kingdom, but to the mages within and to all mages across Skyrim and at large. With this, he worked a social unity into Skyrim fueled by the Fall of Winterhold and the resulting distrust of mages and the magic arts. With this new idea in his head, he walked away with a purpose from the College as its bridge collapsed into the sea, the Eye of Magnus seized for himself. He found that he could not destroy with any type of physical means, nor could he shout it apart like he had so many enemies before him. Instead, he opted to have it locked away in the innards of the Palace of the Kings, where he continues his plotting. He finally enacts his grand scheme by releasing to the public that the College had been swayed in its interests by a coven of dark mages backed by the Aldmeri Dominion.
The Men of the Reach succeed in taking over Markarth and High King Ulfric once again is called to action. His army once again making a costly recapturing of the city and scattering the Reachman garrison there back into the hills. Ulfric calls his people to hate the Reachmen and their worship of Hagravens, further uniting the populace under their patriotism for Skyrim and their fear and hatred of magic and its practitioners. With magic becoming deeply rooted in the minds of Nords across Skyrim, the Beast Races becoming further marginalized within the Nine holds, Ulfric has taken it further to keep his power by planting advisors from his military in the court of every Jarl to keep the Jarls in line and report back to him about the state of affairs. With Ulfric quickly capitalizing on the enemies that he has created, he finds himself in a losing battle against an enemy that he has never seen. Perched high above Skyrim's mountains, the phenomena known as the Necromancer's moon is being seen on many more nights. Falkreath has already tasted bitter defeat at the hands of this enemy, the town stripped clean of inhabitants and the graveyard made bare of bodies. To cement the legality of using magic, Ulfric scribbled his signature on a document that would be known as the Royal Ban on Sorcery & Witchcraft.
With the death of Galmar Stone-Fist, Ulfric burrows deeper into the abyss of corruption and totalitarianism, wracked hard by the loss of perhaps his closest and last true friend. It is around this time that Ulfric thinks up a new way to assert his dominance over the people and their Jarls, knowing that the Blades served the Emperor in protecting him and keeping a watchful eye for any threats to the regime, just as the Penitus Oculatus had done more recently. Ulfric decides to take handpicked officers and soldiers, as well as promising citizens who showed a unique devotion to him, and form them into a new organization. These men and women are tasked with a multitude of duties, from investigating all murders to rooting out any treasoners, proven guilty or accused by a rumor. Though, perhaps their most famous and recognizable function is rooting out any mages that may be remaining in Skyrim and bringing them behind bars or killing them, should it be necessary. Such actions earn these formerly nameless men and women Witch Hunters. Ulfric decides to name this organization after his late friend, as both show an innate loyalty to the crown and banner, amused but not content with their nickname. Thus, the Kingdom's secret police goes now under the name of the Stonefists, wrapped in heavy cloaks of Stormcloak Blue, the bear's head proudly emblazoned on their badges, and clutching axes with decorated shafts of bear motifs.
The activities and work becomes more and more intense as they start to spread thin across Skyrim. Rumors of an insurrection made up of mages had been brought to the forefront, while whispers of the dead walking and necromancers roaming the land further add to their hardships. The Beast Races too are added to the list of those rising up to challenge the iron will of Ulfric and his Stonefists. In the two-hundred and twenty-first year of the Fourth Era, here on Tamriel, the Kingdom under the snow shakes under the tensions of Stonefists, Mages, Beasts and Merfolk. One may choose to stand and idly watch as their lives are ripped from them and cast into the fires of war, or you may say that this time, it is enough. One may stand and fight for what they believe is right.
But will they further swell the ranks of the Stonefists?
Or will they join those with felling axes, holding steadfast against the creeping roots of an aging and maddening King?
"The lion does not wait for the gazelle to decide to run." - Old Yokudan Saying
And Gold-Skinned Elves do not wait.
Excerpt from the Official Papers of the Royal Ban on Sorcery & Witchcraft, authored by Ulfric Stormcloak and his Royal Advisors and Scholars
SpoilerOn this two-hundred and third year of the Fourth Era, We the Crown and Royal Subjects of the Crown hereby legally bar those who practice all Schools of Magic to be outlaws and those Schools be banned from being practiced evermore in the Kingdom of Skyrim, barring those Schools and Practitioners of those Schools that deal with the Healing of people and animals, Ulfric Stormcloak and those rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim that bear his Royal Name and/or Royal Blood do decree to uphold these terms. Those who practice these Schools of Magic are subject to punishment of indefinite imprisonment or death, should their offenses be vile enough in the eyes of Ulfric Stormcloak and those Rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim that bear his Royal Name and/or Royal Blood...
...Those who are held under these terms are Practitioners of the Banned Schools of Destruction, Illusion, Alteration, Conjuration and Mysticism...
...Those who practice the School of Restoration, but also practice, have practiced or plan on practicing any other School of Magic are subject to punishment of indefinite imprisonment or of death, should their offenses be vile enough in the eyes of Ulfric Stormcloak and those rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim that bear his Royal Name and/or Royal Blood...
...Under this law, the practice of Necromancy is subject to immediate death upon discovery of the offense. This Punishment is to be carried out by the Guard of the Nine Holds of Skyrim or any deputy thereof and any Thane of the Nine Holds of Skyrim, in addition to any Soldier, Sergeant, or Officer in service to the Royal Armies of Skyrim, any Sailor or Officer in service to the Royal Navies of Skyrim and any man or woman bearing the official title, duties and responsibilities of Stonefist.
...As such, the practice of Alchemy remains legal under the terms that no poisons be made for consumption by people or animals...
...Under this new law, Ulfric Stormcloak and those rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim that bear his Royal Name and/or Royal Blood do decree to uphold this Royal Ban on Sorcery & Witchcraft. Furthermore, Ulfric Stormcloak and those rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim that bear his Royal Name and/or Royal Blood do decree that those belonging the Guard of the Nine Holds of Skyrim or any deputy thereof and any Thane of the Nine Holds of Skyrim, in addition to any Soldier, Sergeant or Officer in service to the Royal Armies of Skyrim, any Sailor or Officer in service to the Royal Navies of Skyrim and any man or woman bearing the official title, duties and responsibilities of Stonefist, and only those appointed by Ulfric Stormcloak and those rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim that bear his Royal Name and/or Royal Blood be given the full authority to carry out the Royally decreed punishments set forth in this document.
Ulfric Stormcloak, High-King of Skyrim and Jarl of Eastmarch
Gjellar the Mindful, Royal Scholar to the Rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim
Machavel the Silver-Tongued, Royal Advisor to Ulfric Stormcloak and those Rightful Heirs and Rulers of Skyrim
Haekonn the Heavy-Handed, Royal High Magister of the Stonefists
"It is a preposterous thing, [the Royal Ban], not only does one man think that he can strip the rights of mages to practice their art, but it tries to appeal more to ethics and the recent demonizing of these Schools of Magic. Fear-mongering about magic, that's all it is, one need only to look to the name of the document." - Victus Forentius Pluvius, former scholar of Emperor Titus Mede II. He has since been barred any access to the Kingdom of Skyrim.
A brief summary of the Dragonborn of this timeline and his actions.
Spoiler-The Dragonborn is a male Imperial in this continuity, native to Cyrodiil. An accomplished adventurer equally skilled as a powerful warrior, an accomplished mage, and a shrewd diplomat. A generally kind and just man, he was fondly regarded by most who met him and achieved Thaneship in several holds.
-He sided with the Imperials following his escape from Helgen, delivering the Jagged Crown to General Tullius to cement his loyalty to the Legion.
-He became Harbinger of the Companions, succeeding Kodlak Whitemane. Despite initially being a member of the inner circle of lycanthropes among the Companions, he disbanded the inner circle and cured himself, Farkas, and Vilkas of the disease. Aela the Huntress, the last Companion carrying the tainted blood, has since perished in battle. No Companions are currently afflicted, and the practice of acquiring lycanthrophy is no longer accepted in Jorrvaskr.
-He destroyed the Dark Brotherhood in service to the Emperor at the behest of the Penitus Oculatus. As the Falkreath Sanctuary was the last stronghold of the Brotherhood in all of Tamriel, the organization has been completely wiped out.
-He did not join the Thieves Guild of Riften, out of a general respect for the laws of Skyrim. Despite this, Mercer Frey's treachery was eventually exposed and he was dealt with. Although the guild still scrapes by in Riften, it holds little influence in any of the other holds.
-He enrolled in the College of Winterhold and succeeded in bringing the Eye of Magnus back from the ruins of Saarthal. At this point, however, the dragon attacks that plagued Skyrim had become too frequent and destructive to ignore. Despite the insistence of the Psijic Order and the actions of the suspicious Thalmor agent Ancano, the Dragonborn withdrew from the college and took a more active role in combating Alduin.
-At the peace summit at High Hrothgar, he manipulated the treaty to heavily favor his allies in the Legion. Markarth was exchanged for Riften, and Dawnstar and Winterhold were given to the Imperials.
-He succeeded in vanquishing Alduin the World-Eater, putting a stop to the rampant dragon attacks across Skyrim. He restored the Blades to their former glory, successfully recruiting several new members to their cause. At the insistence of Delphine, he agreed to slay Paarthurnax for his treachery, and succeeded. This earned him the ire of the Greybeards, who banned him from the halls of High Hrothgar.
-After dealing with Alduin, the Dragonborn resumed his service to Legion, hoping to lead them to victory over the Stormcloaks. Miraculously, Ulfric and his men managed to drive back the Imperials and take over all of Skyrim's holds in quick succession. The Dragonborn was slain by Ulfric himself during the siege of Solitude, dying alongside Legate Rikke and General Tullius.
A summary of the important events during the last 20 years in Skyrim
Spoiler-Ulfric, after solidifying his place as High King of Skyrim, publicly expresses his sorrow over killing the Dragonborn, noting that his role in vanquishing Alduin the World-Eater will go down in history. However, he also denounces him as an Imperial loyalist and an obstacle to Skyrim's independence. Ulfric's rule remains somewhat shaky, and many wonder if his Stormcloak rebels can keep the Thalmor at bay without the Empire's interference.
-Ulfric's first trial as High King comes when Ancano, the Thalmor agent tasked with infiltrating the College of Winterhold, succeeds in harnessing the power of the Eye of Magnus. Without the Dragonborn present to stop him, he succeeds in brainwashing all the mages in the college to do his bidding, taking over Winterhold with little resistance. Ulfric wastes no time in marching a battalion of Stormcloaks to the college and ordering them to exterminate all of its inhabitants. During the Stormcloak raid on the college, Ulfric seizes the Eye of Magnus for himself, unsure of what exactly it is and unable to destroy it with the limited means available to him. Not wanting to dwell on it too much, he locks it deep within the Palace of the Kings for safekeeping. As a final show of strength, he burns the college to the ground and claims that it was a den of dark sorcerers pervaded by the Thalmor. Given the college's already poor reputation across Skyrim (especially with the Nords, who make up most of Skyrim's population), many agreed with Ulfric's decision to destroy the college. As a result, the reputation of mages in Skyrim begins to suffer, especially those who previously attended or were related to the college in some way.
-Ulfric's next challenge comes from the Forsworn of the Reach, who believe that Ulfric's rule is still rather unstable and think his recent rise to power is the perfect time to rebel. Staging a violent takeover of Markarth after a prison break from the mine, the Reachmen succeed in taking over the entire city, slaying soldiers and civilians alike. Ulfric once again sends out his Stormcloaks to put down this insurrection, and despite a costly siege on the fortress-like city, he once again succeeds in quelling the rebellion. Ulfric wastes no time in denouncing the Forsworn as a tribe of deranged shaman-folk and evil conjurers, especially calling attention to their worship of the hagravens. The reputation of magic once again grows worse as mages are lumped in with the vicious Reachmen, earning them a fair degree of public ridicule. Ulfric begins to see that the Nords of Skyrim react positively to his slandering of the arcane arts, and continues to warn his people against the dangers of shifty sorcerers in their midst.
-Ulfric's campaign against magic continues when his own court wizard, Wuunferth the Unliving, is implicated as a necromancer and serial killer terrorizing his own city of Windhelm. In retaliation for his treachery, Ulfric authorizes Wuunferth's immediate execution, and then orders that all court wizards across Skyrim step down from their positions. Evidence later surfaces indicating Wuunferth was innocent, but Ulfric quickly sweeps this under the rug, not wanting to seem overly hasty or reverse his decision. The true identity of the Butcher remains undiscovered to this day.
-Quaranir of the Psijic Order appears to Ulfric in his chambers, requesting that the High King allow him to remove the Eye of Magnus from the mortal realm, as he is concerned that it could lead to more destruction if it falls into the wrong hands. Ulfric refuses, believing that the Psijics just want to use the Eye for their own gain. Despite Quaranir at first appearing to give up, Ulfric's guards later catch a detachment of Psijics trying to sneak into the palace and steal the Eye of Magnus. In the ensuing fight, Ulfric's most trusted comrade Galmar Stonefist is slain, much to his dismay. The Psijics fail to retrieve the Eye and flee. Galmar's death pushes Ulfric to finally take an official stance on magic in Skyrim. In his eagerness to seek vengeance for his friend, Ulfric passes the Royal Ban of Sorcery and Witchcraft, which outlawed the use of any school of magic in Skyrim at all, with three exceptions; chapel healers who only practice Restoration, alchemists who are permitted only to create potions and medicine, and vigils of the Nine Divines. This decree is met with mixed reactions at first, but considering most of Skyrim had begun to fear magic in general, the laws eventually become accepted across Skyrim.
A synopsis of Skyrim's current state and culture
Spoiler-The Stormcloak rebels, despite their somewhat disorganized birth, have managed to build themselves into a well-oiled military machine capable of keeping both the Empire and the Thalmor at bay. No longer relying on sheer numbers and unbridled passion, Ulfric's private army has expanded into a provincial defense force worthy of the title of the true Sons and Daughters of Skyrim. Despite recruiting soldiers from all races, it is generally known albeit rarely mentioned that only Nords have any hope of being promoted to an officer. One of Ulfric's first projects after liberating Skyrim was the construction of solid stone fortresses outside of every hold capital; while originally built under the pretense of providing shelter in case of dragon attacks, they have since been repurposed as military outposts once the remaining dragons were all exterminated. The reputation of the Stormcloaks has also improved greatly since the liberation, as Ulfric's army has proven time and time again that they are willing and able to keep Skyrim safe from both foreign and domestic enemies. Serving in the Stormcloak army is seen as a noble deed, even among the lowest ranks, and is a great way to improve one's social status -- anyone willing to fight for Skyrim is considered a hero, regardless of wealth or background.
-Ulfric has shown that he is more than willing to use his power as High King to keep the Jarls in check, and with a Stormcloak fort right outside every hold capital, he has few reservations about letting his people know who is in control should they step out of line. As an added measure to keep the Jarls under his thumb, Ulfric has forcibly appointed a representative of the Stormcloak military to everyone Jarl's court. As a result, the Jarls have begun to be viewed as ceremonial leaders rather than holding any real power in the administration of their holds, a duty which typically falls to the Stormcloak agent. A Jarl's power has become more nominal than anything else, and any who question the High King's leadership are quickly replaced by someone more willing to cooperate. Regardless, these demonstrations of Ulfric's power typically take place behind closed doors, and the High King continues to hold a glowing reputation with his people, who have enjoyed peace and safety under his rule.
-Magic users have not been the only citizens of Skyrim subject to oppression; since Ulfric's rise to power, the elven and beast races have become more and more marginalized over time. The social injustices present in Windhelm, Ulfric's own city, have begun to spread across the province as the Stormcloaks continue to gain prominence. Several cities and towns now have their own Grey Quarters, where the elven folk are all but forced to live. Some towns don't even allow Argonians and Khajiit to stay inside the city gates. A diaspora of the non-human races out of Skyrim has slowly been occurring over the last twenty years, giving the Nords an even greater majority. Despite misgivings with the Empire, at least they were more concerned with racial equality than the Stormcloaks. Generally, the further east your venture into Skyrim, the more likely you are to encounter prejudice; places like Solitude and Whiterun still remain fairly cosmopolitan.
-In honor of his fallen comrade, Ulfric established an elite order of military agents known as the Stonefists to serve as his personal bodyguards and conduct covert, highly sensitive missions at his behest. The Stonefists have shown themselves to be extremely capable soldiers who operate with efficiency and precision comparable to the Empire's own Penitus Oculatus. However, the Stonefists have garnered a very poor reputation with the mages of Skyrim, as they were the main enforcers of Ulfric's witch-hunt laws; shrewd investigators who are almost unshakable, they have succeeded in capturing many sorcerers foolish enough to let their practices be known to the public.
-Since the enactment of the Royal Ban on Sorcery and Witchcraft, the mages of Skyrim have either left the province or gone underground to continue practicing in secret. While at first large connections of these secret mages did exist, the Stonefist inquisitors quickly put a stop to such activities, which has made most mages reluctant to communicate with each other for fear of being discovered. Despite this, the arcane traditions are still passed down, albeit always behind closed doors and with the utmost care to remain discrete. Outlaw covens of mages (usually vampires, conjurers, or necromancers, those who are used to living outside the law) have been known to take up refuge in old forts or caves, but such covens are typically rather exclusive, secretive, and wary or outright hostile to outsiders.
-About a month prior to the start of this RP, reports began to surface claiming that groups of marauding necromancers had been attacking travelers in the middle of the night -- certainly a rare occurrence considering their secluded, secretive nature. Even stranger, as night fell every day, the moon not only remained full, but had a rather sinister purple hue surrounding it. Some of Ulfric's consultants determined such an oddity to be none other than the Necromancer's Moon, a strange magical phenomenon that usually occurs only once a month, during which necromancers and conjurers alike receive a considerable boost to their casting abilities. Concerned that this rare event was now a nightly occurrence, but unable to reach out for any help considering his complete ostracizing of the magic community. Nonetheless, Ulfric doubled his efforts to put a stop to the nightly attacks, sending out scores of Stormcloak patrols to watch the roads at night; most never came back. Finally the Stonefists returned with some a clue; a strange black cloak with the silhouette of a skull inside a full moon emblazoned on the back.
-Fearing for the safety of his people, Ulfric ordered the closing of all cities after sundown and urged his citizens to keep off the roads at night. Sending more of his Stormcloaks to garrison some of the larger towns across Skyrim, the largest upset came with the devastation of Falkreath, which was sacked in just one night. The Stonefists were dispatched to survey the damage, and reported that the once thriving capital had been burnt to the ground, and all of its many graves disturbed, and more disconcertingly, empty. The people of Skyrim begin to doubt Ulfric's ability to keep them safe, but the High King responds by sending out more and more Stormcloaks in an effort to keep the escalating problem of the necromancer attacks under control. Unfortunately, most of these attempts seem to rather ineffective.
-Although the scattered underground mages of Skyrim seldom communicate for fear of being discovered, word begins to spread of a small resistance group forming to oppose Ulfric's anti-magic policies and put a stop to the harsh reign of the necromancer's moon. According to rumor, this summit is to be held in Karthwasten, a small mining town at the edge of the Reach. Karthwasten, having been abandoned for just shy of five years after an unfortunate cave-in during an attempt to expand the mine, seemed to be the perfect place for such a secret council of those brave enough to step forward and right the wrongs in Skyrim.
This RP takes place in 4E221, twenty years after the events of Skyrim, in a slightly dystopian Skyrim struggling under the pressures of both politics, civil order and a very real supernatural threat. Your characters will be in the midst of a great many happenings throughout this RP and will be able to choose from these storylines to embroil your character in:
Under the Eyes of Magnus
In the cold and misty realm of the Reach, wrapped in the stoney arms of mountains long standing, is the abandoned mining village of Karthwasten. Once a bustling community of miners and outcasts, all activity ceased in 4E 212, when efforts to expand the mine collapsed the passages, trapping several miners under dirt and stone. Shortly after this event, without a means of income to the settlement that was so isolated from the rest of the Reach, it has become a home to a small group of mages who have since cleared out the small group of Reachmen occupying the buildings. These same mages have put out a call to any with a fire burning in their heart to seek justice against Ulfric for condemning practically all mages residing in Skyrim to death or self-exile. All are welcome, and they will make sure that the concerns of both mages and the marginalized Beast Races and mer are taken into account for this effort. This movement is the first and strongest of those who open their arms to those who seek to retake their freedom and rights with blood, steel and fire after being denied the means of taking them back with diplomacy.
This meeting is open to all have felt the weight of Ulfric's iron fist with fingers he is slowly wrapping around Skyrim.
Like Worms From Caskets
Rebuilt after the war, Helgen's wall once again stand against those who do her harm. But these days, besiegers and brigands are not the ones being kept out; refugees crowd the area around Helgen, setting up tents along the road, as the houses and inn are already filled to the brim with refugees and travelers who have come from Cyrodiil or are heading towards there. With the recent attack on Falkreath rumored to have been carried out by the walking dead and their Necromancer puppet-masters, Helgen has been put on high alert. Those governmental figures sent to keep order for Helgen in the absence of a Jarl or a high-standing Thane to govern. Requests for a detachment of Stormcloaks from Ulfric have gone unanswered. Jarl Hrongar, though known for his brash and headstrong nature, has been advised to keep his garrison within the city, as Whiterun too swells with refugees from Falkreath and those wishing to stay in a place that remains a bit more metropolitan than the other Holds.
Among these travelers and refugees are those that have either stopped on their way to or from Cyrodiil. Their stay may become more interesting than just worrying about if their mead or meal will be stolen while they turn their head to look at the fire.