Tamriel is a world filled with exciting stories. Many tales have been experienced and shared, but there are many more waiting to be told.
The Elder Scrolls series was initially influenced by pen-and-paper role playing games. Arena's success came from its innovative RPG elements, and Daggerfall's character creation was completely reminiscent of popular pen-and-paper games. It is surprising that this immersive world was never officially released as a table top game.
This book contains many customizations to the Dungeons & Dragons rule sets to let you create intricate characters that are well suited for adventuring in Tamriel. This conversion project maintains many elements from D&D Fifth Edition, and assumes that the players and the Game Master have a basic understanding of the game. Although it is a very similar conversion, there are some differences. Each of the classes, races, and backgrounds have been tailored to suit Tamriel, including some attributes, and birthsigns have been added to character creation.
Birthsigns include powerful features that characters gain access to, which makes them slightly more capable at 1st level than with characters built from the standard 5e Core Rules. These strengths help reduce the untimely deaths that can surprise low level parties, but this should be considered when creating appropriate challenges for the player characters.
Each of the revisions in this book should be reviewed before playing, but many of these changes can be easily converted to or from standard D&D features. Take as many changes as you feel comfortable with into your game. Remember, the only right way to play is by having fun.
Playing the Game
In the game, each player creates an adventurer (also called a character) and teams up with other adventurers (played by friends). Working together, the group might explore a dark dungeon, a ruined city, a haunted castle, a lost temple deep in a jungle, or a lava-filled cavern beneath a mysterious mountain. The adventurers can solve puzzles, talk with other characters, battle fantastic monsters, and discover fabulous magic items and other treasure.
One player, however, takes on the role of the Game Master (GM), the game’s lead storyteller and referee. The GM creates adventures for the characters, who navigate its hazards and decide which paths to explore. The GM might describe the entrance to Castle Volkihar, and the players decide what they want their adventurers to do. Will they walk across the dangerously weathered bridge? Tie themselves together with rope to minimize the chance that someone will fall if the bridge gives way? Or cast a spell to carry them over the chasm?
Then the GM determines the results of the adventurers’ actions and narrates what they experience. Because the GM can improvise to react to anything the players attempt, UESTRPG is infinitely flexible, and each adventure can be exciting and unexpected.
The game has no real end; when one story or quest wraps up, another one can begin, creating an ongoing story called a campaign. Many people who play the game keep their campaigns going for months or years, meeting with their friends every week or so to pick up the story where they left off. The adventurers grow in might as the campaign continues. Each monster defeated, each adventure completed, and each treasure recovered not only adds to the continuing story, but also earns the adventurers new capabilities. This increase in power is reflected by an adventurer’s level.
There’s no winning and losing in the game—at least, not the way those terms are usually understood. Together, the GM and the players create an exciting story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils. Sometimes an adventurer might come to a grisly end, torn apart by ferocious monsters or done in by a nefarious villain. Even so, the other adventurers can search for powerful magic to revive their fallen comrade, or the player might choose to create a new character to carry on. The group might fail to complete an adventure successfully, but if everyone had a good time and created a memorable story, they all win.
Places for Adventure
Nirn is a world filled with magic and monsters, brave warriors and spectacular adventures. The universe is built upon medieval fantasy with unique creatures, places, and magic that truly sets this world apart.
Tamriel exists within a vast cosmos called the Aurbis. This universe encompasses the Void and all the Planes of Existence, such as Coldharbour, the realm of Molag Bal, and the plane of Akatosh. Within this universe are many planes that have yet to be explored, and of course, Nirn, the world where each of the Elder Scrolls stories have taken place.
On Nirn itself, Tamriel has been the only continent ever explored in the main series, with several provinces still to be seen, along with many other continents to create new epic stories. Each of these provinces and continents share characteristics, but each is set apart by its own histories and cultures, distinctive monsters and races, fantastic geography, ancient dungeons, and scheming villains. Each of the races have unusual traits in their different settings. The ancient tribal Bosmer of Valenwood, for example, are jungle dwelling cannibals, while many Redguards of Hammerfell are desert nomads. Some of the worlds feature more obscure races, such as the golden-clad Auroran's of Meridia's realm, or the Tsaesci, vampiric serpent-folk of Akavir.
Your GM might set the campaign on one or more of these provinces, continents, and worlds. Because there is so much diversity among these places, you should check with your GM about any house rules that will affect your play of the game. Ultimately, the Game Master is the authority on the campaign and its setting, no matter where or when they choose.
Using These Rules
The UESTRPG Basic Rules document is divided into three parts.
Part 1 is about creating a character, providing the rules and guidance you need to make the character you’ll play in the game. It includes information on the various races, classes, backgrounds, equipment, and other customization options that you can choose from. Many of the rules in part 1 rely on material in parts 2 and 3.
Part 2 details the rules of how to play the game, beyond the basics described in this introduction. That part covers the kinds of die rolls you make to determine success or failure at the tasks your character attempts, and describes the three broad categories of activity in the game: exploration, interaction, and combat.
Part 3 is all about magic. It covers the nature of magic in the world of the Elder Scrolls, the rules for spellcasting, and a selection of typical spells available to magic-using characters (and monsters) in the game.
How to Play
The play of the game unfolds according to this basic pattern.
1. The GM describes the environment. The GM tells the players where their adventurers are and what’s around them, presenting the basic scope of options that present themselves (how many doors lead out of a room, what’s on a table, who’s in the tavern, and so on).
2. The players describe what they want to do. Sometimes one player speaks for the whole party, saying, “We’ll take the east door,” for example. Other times, different adventurers do different things: one adventurer might search a treasure chest while a second examines an esoteric symbol engraved on a wall and a third keeps watch for monsters. The players don’t need to take turns, but the GM listens to every player and decides how to resolve those actions.
Sometimes, resolving a task is easy. If an adventurer wants to walk across a room and open a door, the GM might just say that the door opens and describe what lies beyond. But the door might be locked, the floor might hide a deadly trap, or some other circumstance might make it challenging for an adventurer to complete a task. In those cases, the GM decides what happens, often relying on the roll of a die to determine the results of an action.
3. The GM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions. Describing the results often leads to another decision point, which brings the flow of the game right back to step 1.
This pattern holds whether the adventurers are cautiously exploring a ruin, talking to a devious prince, or locked in mortal combat against a mighty dragon. In certain situations, particularly combat, the action is more structured and the players (and GM) do take turns choosing and resolving actions. But most of the time, play is fluid and flexible, adapting to the circumstances of the adventure.
Often the action of an adventure takes place in the imagination of the players and GM, relying on the GM’s verbal descriptions to set the scene. Some GMs like to use music, art, or recorded sound effects to help set the mood, and many players and GMs alike adopt different voices for the various adventurers, monsters, and other characters they play in the game. Sometimes, a GM might lay out a map and use tokens or miniature figures to represent each creature involved in a scene to help the players keep track of where everyone is.