Welcome back to We Want Comics, a column exploring intellectual properties, whether they’re movies, TV shows, novels or video games, that we want adapted into comic books. Today we’re looking at Bethesda Softworks’ fantasy role-playing video game franchise The Elder Scrolls, which recently marked the 25th anniversary of the first game, The Elder Scrolls: Arena (released on March 25, 1994).
There have been a few books based on the series, including literally one comic book, “The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard: The Origin of Cyrus!,” which came free with copies of the 1998 game of the same name. For the most part, Bethesda have been content to just print in-universe documents from the games in illustrated, leather bound books, which is a huge shame – as the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages and TES Wiki‘s exhaustive documentation shows, these games have a surprisingly rich cosmology/theology that would provide fertile ground for a wider expanded universe.
Basically, in The Elder Scrolls’ world of Nirn, there are two main types of gods, the Aedra and the Daedra. The Aedra are worshipped by the everyday peoples of Tamriel and other continents, but are distant, having poured so much of themselves into creating the physical realm of Mundus. The Daedra, who come from the Realm of Oblivion, are much more active, often crossing paths with players. The sixteen most powerful Daedra, known (regardless of their pronouns) as the Daedric Princes, rule over different planes of Oblivion, and are worshipped by various cults and certain non-human races. They are:
- Azura – The Prince of Dusk and Dawn, the magic between Day and Night, and Queen of the Night Sky. She is revered by Dunmer (Dark Elves), and the cat-like Khajiit, who consider her their creator.
- Boethiah – The Prince of Deceit, Secrecy, Conspiracy, Treason, and Sedition. He/she is revered by the Dark Elves for inspiring their founder/prophet Veloth, but ultimately they only enjoy driving mortals to violence against each other for their own amusement.
- Clavicus Vile – The Prince of Power, Trickery, Wishes, Serenity and Bargains, who enjoys waging for the souls of mortals. He is accompanied by Barbas, a shapeshifting Daedra that often takes on the appearance of a dog, and in whom he has invested a significant portion of his power.
- Hermaeus Mora – The Prince of Fate, Knowledge and Memory. A vindictive, writhing Lovecraftian mass of eyes and tentacles, Mora jealously seeks and guards magic secrets, and was arguably the true villain of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC Dragonborn.
- Hircine – The Prince of the Hunt, Sport, the Great Game, and the Chase. He is the creator of werewolves and other lycanthropic beasts, and they go to his Hunting Grounds when they die (although they can transcend it if they are posthumously cleansed of their curse). He was the main antagonist of The Elder Scrolls III expansion pack Bloodmoon.
- Jyggalag/Sheogorath – The Prince of Order/Madness, whose split personality was a curse brought about by the other Princes. He was the main antagonist of The Elder Scrolls IV expansion Shivering Isles, which concluded with Jyggalag being freed of his curse and the main character becoming the new Sheogorath.
- Malacath – The Prince of the Spurned and the Ostracized, the keeper of the Sworn Oath, and the Bloody Curse. According to legend, he was an ancient Elven hero named Trinimac until he was devoured by Boethiah, which transformed him and his followers into the Orsimer (Orcs). He is their god, and a caring patron despite his bloodthirsty nature.
- Mehrunes Dagon – The Prince of Destruction, Revolution, Energy, Change and Ambition, Dagon is a Satanic fiend obsessed with conquering Tamriel, which he believes was once part of his Hellish realm the Deadlands. He and his worshippers were the main villains of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
- Mephala – The Prince of Lies, Sex, Murder, Secrets, and Plots, Mephala is the third member of the Dark Elves’ trinity, and is also worshipped by the assassin guild the Morag Tong. (It’s also hinted she is actually the Night Mother leading the breakaway clan the Dark Brotherhood.) She and her Daedra minions are thoroughly spider-like in appearance, earning her titles like Webspinner and Spinner. Continued below
- Meridia – The Prince of Life and Lady of Infinite Energies, Meridia is something of a fallen angel, having been an Aedra until she was cast out “for consorting with illicit spectra.” She despises Necromancers and the undead, and will task people with destroying them.
- Molag Bal – The Prince of Schemes, Domination, Vampirism, Corruption, and Slavery, Bal is Dagon’s icy counterpart in The Elder Scrolls Online, seeking to conquer Nirn as well. His method of starting vampire bloodlines has been described in the games as simply “degrading.”
- Namira – The Prince of Dark Spirits (spiders, insects, slugs and so on), the Mistress of Decay, and the Devourer of the Dead. She is the patron of Tamriel’s cannibals.
- Nocturnal – The Prince of the Night and Darkness, Secrets and Luck. She is venerated by thieves, and she will pick three at a time to be her Nightingales, granting them magical abilities to deceive their enemies if they swear an oath to protect her shrines.
- Peryite – The Prince of Pestilence, responsible for plagues and pandemics. In Oblivion, he is the the Taskmaster charged with maintaining order in the lower planes of existence. He will either appear in Nirn in the form of a dragon, or a swarm of rats.
- Sanguine – The Prince of Hedonism, Debauchery, Lust, Sin, Sloth, Gluttony, and Greed. He’s been known to encourage mortals to go on binge-drinking sprees as his human alter-ego Sam Guevenne.
- Vaermina – The Prince of Dreams and Nightmares, Terror and Torment, Evil Omens, and Stolen Memories.
Of course, the Daedric Princes don’t have to be involved in any Elder Scrolls comic (after all, Skyrim’s main backstory point was that humans used to worship dragons), but they’re a unique starting point for stories. They could be the inspiration for a whole 16-issue anthology series, or series of anthologies: and the great thing is, with such a vast timeline, and so many species, factions and settings (much of which hasn’t appeared in the Tamriel-centric games), there’s no way you can tell the same story twice.
By this point, we’d usually list creators we’d like to see on a property, but we’re talking about such a enormous blank canvas, with such a diverse array of options, it’s not like we should favor “comics famous” scribes like Greg Rucka (“Wonder Woman“) and Greg Pak (“Ronin Island“) over rising stars like Jody Houser (“Star Wars: Age of Republic“), Tini Howard (“The Forgotten Queen“), or Magdalene Visaggio (“Transformers vs. Visionaries“).
We can definitely imagine “Thor“/”Conan” creators Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic and Mahmud Asrar exploring the Norse/Medieval lands of Skyrim and Cyrodiil, or Vita Ayala (“Magic The Gathering: Chandra“) and Nadia Shammas (“Squire“) writing a story in the Middle Eastern/African-inspired lands of Hammerfell – there’s just so many possibilities with virtually every writer and artist.
Be sure to tell us in the comments which creators, conflicts and cultures you’d like to see on an Elder Scrolls book. Here’s to the next 25 years of The Elder Scrolls games: hopefully there will be have been some more comics by 2044 too.