Mages Guild Questline Idea

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vrolok
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Mages Guild Questline Idea

Post by vrolok » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:38 am

I was thinking of essentially turning Mages Guild into three playable factions:

1) Mages' Guild itself - player joins in one of guild halls, standard Mage's Guild tasks
2) Order of the Lamp - player may join later, involved in Mage's Guild politics, want to ban necromancy (slightly changed concept from Knight's Order)
3) Cult of the Black Worm - player may join later, involved in Mage's Guild politics, pro-necromancy (cannot join both at the same time)

As we know, necromancy is legal in Cyrodiil and even plays an important role sometimes. But we also know that in TES IV it gets banned. What I propose is to have a prequel to Oblivion MG questline, but also a more interesting and interactive questline.

Mages Guild will offer standard for a mage tasks like gathering ingredients or whatnot. These could be creative in many ways, but they are primarily there to give player the exposition, teach him more about Cyrodiil, etc. Again, I am not focusing on these, these are for climbing up the faction ranks, telling their own little stories, etc. But at one point they become not enough.

Inside the Mages Guild there are several factions that exist, most of them are hidden and do not manifest themselves openly. Two of the most powerful, yet opposed to each other are Order of the Lamp and Cult of the Black Worm.

Order of the Lamp are the guardians of the guild who follow the ways of Galerion. They will do anything in the interests of the guild, so I don't want them to be portrayed too noble. Most of them are zealots who put the Guild above anything else. For them, ends always justify the means. Order of the Lamp is a secret organization, but it is also well-known as protectors of the guild. Yet, nobody knows who exactly belongs to it. They want to purge the guild of necromancy for different reasons, but most importantly they believe that necromancy corrupts the guild from the inside, because of the influence the cult has earned. The leader of the organization is Hannibal Traven.

Cult of the Black Worm are the followers of Mannimarco. While technically the cult is separate from the Mages Guild, many cultists are also members of the Mages Guild. While not all necromancy practitioners belong to the Cult, many if not most do. Officially, members of the cult are seen as enemies of the guild (for various legal and personal reasons), necromancy itself is legal. Cult also actively recruits young talents inside the guild. While, these are necromancers and their methods might be vile, they are mostly pragmatics and shouldn't be seen as purely evil. Some members might be complete maniacs, while others seem more than reasonable. Overall, their approach is more balanced and strategic compared to the Order.

Once player reaches a position high enough in the guild, both the order and the cult will be interested in recruiting him. So, the paths divert and player himself chooses one side other the other by the means which would make future change impossible. Most likely they give player opportunity to join ranks, but their test will require player to offend opposition, so only one route is available. Alternatively, player can refuse both, but without their help he wouldn't be able to advance much further in ranks (invisible ceiling).

The focus of the questline shifts to the internal struggle between the two, though player still is able to perform regular guild jobs. The regular quests accompany the inside struggle, which will decide the outcome of it. Player should also be given alternatives inside these quests, which will provide different results.

Somewhere along the way, there will be only one opportunity to betray your faction and side with the other one. In the end, who you sided with and your choices down the line will determine the outcome of it:
  1. Either Hannibal becomes the Arch-Mage and bans necromancy. The player will receive deepest gratitude from the Order of the Lamp and become new head of the order, while also getting a position on the Mages' Council in the guild. This is more or less canon as we see Mages Guild in Oblivion, though the events are taking place slightly faster due to player's involvement.
  2. Or another possibility is victory of the Worm Cult. Order of the Lamp is crashed and destroyed, necromancy is legal and Worm Cult positions inside the guild are strengthened. Player becomes new Arch-Mage and is also given a high rank inside the cult. Might even receive a thank you from Mannimarco himself :mrgreen:
The details and quests can be discussed later on and I myself will add more ideas to that, but what do you think about overall picture? It fits well with previous discussions and overall theme of the mod, I think. But I am open to suggestions. While three factions might seem like a lot of work, I think Mages Guild in Cyrodiil deserves a big quest line. Plus, choices, choices, choices... These are always good :lol:

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Post by Infragris » Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:25 pm

This is an interesting proposal. I especially like re-framing the Order of the Lamp as an inner circle with their own agenda, which makes them much more interesting. I do have two reservations:

The use of sub-factions and groups with opposing interest within a faction is fine, but we should avoid making them explicit in-game factions with ranks and such. This poses too many problems with dialogue and assigning factions to NPCs. This is mostly a technical thing.

The Black Worm Cult and Mannimarco: I want to minimize - or at least nuance - the influence of these guys. Mannimarco is the founder of a particular school of necromancy, which is especially powerful around his old base in High Rock, and is mainly practiced by followers of his cult. However, Cyrodiilic legal necromancy predates the Mannimarcean school: I'd like to present it as a special native practice, like the Temple necromancy in Morrowind. Worm cultists do exist in Cyrodiil and in the Mages Guild, and try to spread the practice among young and ambitious mages, but this should be a minority.

So "old-school" necromancy, as practiced by the Battlemages and the conservative factions of the Arcane University, would be opposed to the "new-school" necromancy of the Wormists. The main difference is ideological: Wormists are obsessed with attaining power and immortality as liches, while Cyrodi necromancers consider themselves artists - like really weird taxidermists. Consider this quote from a necromancer's diary:
Every tome I've acquired, the volumes upon volumes of Necromantic discourse, all useless! I have grown disgusted by the years of wasted life that have been poured into these so-called "essential" writings. Who in their right mind would ever wish to animate a month-dead Cyrodilic butterfly, or bring life to the rotting husk of a rare albino mud crab?
The problem would be that the Order of the Lamp makes no distinction between native and foreign necromancy, and wants it all outlawed.

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Post by vrolok » Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:37 pm

Yeah. Particular details can be discussed more. I understand that the Worm cult is not the only faction which supports necromancy, I just thought that it had the most power behind it, due to Mannimarco's recent divinity. That's why I wanted to give choice between two, otherwise necromancers themselves look too kind and peace loving. That's kinda makes choice harder: joining either fanatical zealots of the Order or manipulative masters of the Cult. I obviously wouldn't mind a different approach with bigger involvement of local necromancers, but I kinda thought that old school necromancers were in a bit of disarray, so I didn't consider them as an actual force, more like a tool in hands of the Black Worm and collateral damage for the Order.

Regarding in game mechanics: Is it possible to make the faction joinable by the player while NPCs, who are considered in it, do not belong to it? That's how I was thinking of doing it. If it really is too much of a hassle, then we shouldn't bother, yet I would've liked player to have some sort of indication of belonging to the group, even if he was the only actual faction member.

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Post by Infragris » Sat Apr 09, 2016 1:42 pm

NPCs can only belong to one faction. The problem is mostly dialogue filtered for faction affiliation. For example, you have specific dialogue for when the player is kicked out of the faction for stealing: "faction members" that are secretly Worm Cultists or Lamp lords wouldn't be able to access it, showing the player in that something is up. you can fix this by duplicating dialogue files, but that is a major hassle and contributes to file bloat. Easier to work on NPCs on a case-by-case basis.

Personally, I prefer to put the focus on the old-school necromancers because they are the native, Imperial faction. Mannimarco-focused questlines would be more at home in a High Rock province mod. In Cyrodiil, their presence should be regarded as an intrusion.

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Post by vrolok » Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:22 pm

Personally, I prefer to put the focus on the old-school necromancers because they are the native, Imperial faction. Mannimarco-focused questlines would be more at home in a High Rock province mod. In Cyrodiil, their presence should be regarded as an intrusion.
I think both approaches allow very interesting results. I personally wouldn't mind local necromancers, but I will try some more to convince you, because I do think this sort of intrusion is good. If not, then not, but why not try, right? :D

My main focus here is to make it interesting both in terms of plot and gameplay, plus tell a better story. I believe that in such a central place as the Imperial city, it is not necessary to restrict ourselves only to local powers. As such, I would consider Worm Cult more organized and more progressive than local necromancers, thus gaining more power outside of its traditional boundaries.

Even if it is going to play a major role, we are still going to see and interact with a lot of old school necromancers, no matter which path we choose. So you don't need to worry about this side not portrayed properly. It will be shown very well, regardless of the final choice. But, these artists and taxidermists would make much better victims of circumstances rather than an active force of reform.

Because if we go with Black Worm vs. Order of the Lamp, we get two reformatory powers. They beckon the inevitable changes in the Empire, while old school necromancers are stuck between them. That sort of clash seems more grandeur and meaningful, than just old vs. new mentality. Here we have two different ideas struggling, both with their roots in the past, but manifesting themselves into future. While local necromancers are trapped inside their art and illusion, living in the yesterday's world.

Well, at least this is my argument for the inclusion of both factions. We could always go with Old School vs. Reform, and the Order pulling some strings from behind, but it seems a bit more cliche to me. Though it probably could be done rather well, but I am not sure about the depth of it.

Regarding the Black Worm being mostly High Rock power, I would have to disagree. Even if it is strongest in High Rock, it definitely focuses on expansion at the moment. And what better place to expand to, if not Imperial city? They offer cool new stuff like Black Soul gems, etc. and people actively join them. They might be still weak, but I believe their organization is supreme among other groups.

They shouldn't be the only group in Cyrodiil, no. They are the young upstarts, but with strong powerhouse behind their back. Several other groups are working in Cyrodiil for much longer, but they do not have such power behind them (with possible exceptions, though these probably do not care much for Mages Guild policies). Some join the Cult, some flee, while others pretend not to notice anything.

As for High Rock province mod, it seems very early in its development. We should be able to cooperate with them on the question of compatibility, I don't think it is a major problem here. Story is more important to me :roll:

P.S. As for factions, even if they are going to be somewhat cut, without some of the dialogues, I still think it is fine. I know that NPCs have only one faction. We can have it like this:

1) Faction agents belonging to Mages Guild - they only have Mages guild dialogues, but sometimes they will also have quest specific dialogues. That should be possible.
2) Proper faction members - they do not belong to Mages Guild, but belong to the needed faction. These might be somewhere secluded inside the Mages Guild, like Hannibal Traven and other Order of the Lamp members, or they might be Black Worm cultists and leaders, usually somewhere outside Mages Guild.

That would allow to essentially make them factions without much complications. Some minor differences in dialogues are negligible. For instance, the agents still need to keep up their cover, etc.
Last edited by vrolok on Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Ted » Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:29 pm

How about this guys as separate faction http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Daggerfall:Travelers_League" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ?

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Post by vrolok » Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:32 pm

How about this guys as separate faction http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Daggerfall:Travelers_League" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ?
Well, as I said, there could be great many implied factions inside, but only two joinable by the player. So other factions do not matter, they can be just mentioned in dialogues or something. It is complicated as it is to make certain factions playable.


Okay, I was thinking more about it and I grow more and more assured that choosing between Order of the Lamp and Black Worm Cult is the best choice for the player. Here are some additional arguments:

1) It brings up duality much more than anything else:
- Local Order vs. Foreign Cult
- Passionate and Reckless vs. Cold and Calculating
- Idealistic vs. Pragmatic

You do not have these oppositions if you decide to just do local necromancers.

2) Imperialism (in a way)

Though this one is more detailed description of both factions.

Order of the Lamp
Think of them as of student protesters, but with ancient tradition and extreme magical prowess. They are idealist, believing that Mages Guild builds better world for everyone, because it teaches everyone basics of magic with relatively affordable prices, thus improving everyone's life. They want to preserve that good at any cost and even improve upon it. In a way, a magical socialist movement. But their means are not so nice: assassinations, plots, sabotage. Often reckless, but with the help of their magical power, they often evade justice. They believe that necromancy corrupts guild on the inside, especially opposed to the Black Worm Cult. Sometimes, students practising necromancy will just disappear, never to be found again.

Fellowship of Anchorites (aka Cult of the Black Worm)
Think of them as of modern day corporation like Apple, but instead of gadgets, they sell magic and earn power. Mannimarco, who became the god, created this powerful brand and created some of the most attractive powers for young necromancy practitioners: black soul gems and lichdom. Lead by the group of powerful necromancers and liches, they are very cold and calculating. Mannimarco is their main inspiration, their god, their everything. Their main goal is to gain control over the Mages Guild in order to further spread their influence, gain many more followers and one day rule over the Empire. But unlike Order of the Lamp, they are not driven by ideals, they can be much more reasonable at times, if it means gaining bigger advantage over the enemy.

3) Local Necromancers

I have thought about them quite a bit and here are some basic thoughts on them and on possible factions (non-player factions)

In general, they are not organized. Some factions are very powerful, but few in numbers. Other factions are quite numerous, but they are not very skilled in magic. Many smaller factions have fled once the Black Worm started expanding into Cyrodiil, while many other more ambitious ones have joined the Cult. That explains very well why in Oblivion we only see the Black Worm. They were very effective. But I propose to keep several groups, who are still struggling against both the Order of the Lamp and Black Worm Cult.

Here are some ideas for the groups (can be changed, keep the general theme):

Society of Morus - cosmopolitan group of Necromancers, who consider their practice true art. Relatively big in size, it consists mostly of Imperials, Bretons and Altmers, who are all extremely arrogant about their work and do not wish to share secrets with "outsiders". They are actually rather weak and are better artists than mages, most of them study at Arcane University, suffer the most from the Order of the Lamp persecution.

Cult of Dead Water - Nibenese cult of the dead, which actively practices necromancy in their rituals. They are numerous, largely not affiliated with Mages Guild, though some of them do study at the Guild. There are some powerful practitioners among them and Black Worm cult actively tries to persuade many of them to join, though most disagree due to religious reasons. For them, necromancy is a sacred art, not blasphemy over the dead or the living.

J'mahar Draht - small group of necromancy practitioners deep in the southern jungles of Tamriel. These hermits do not keep any contacts with outsiders, but spend their days communicating with the dead. Thus they gained incredible power over the dead, but they do not wish anyone harm and live their life in solitude and meditation. Black Worm cult wants to learn their secrets and Order of the Lamp suspects that some of them might be working together with the cult. True or not, but they won't be left alone by neither of the faction.

Apart from these three bigger factions, there are still independent necromancers at work as well as some other smaller groups, which are not even worth mentioning. But this is my point of view on the local necromancy movements and how they can relate to Mages Guild storyline.

4) Conclusion:

At the end of the day, we can just stick to local necromancers as antagonists. But in my opinion it will not show how truly advantageous the Imperial province can be for whose who seek power. It will not depict this morally ambiguous struggle with no clear choice. You will be forced to make harsh choices and only your own sense of justice will tell you what is wrong and what is right. I suspect this way will portray Imperial province at its best. It would also explain why things the way they are in Oblivion, though that wasn't intentional, just a side effect. Thank you for reading! :D

P.S. As a special reward for competing Black Worm storyline, Mannimarco himself might teach player the secret of lichdom. That would be extremely satisfying and fitting reward! I don't think scripts are that hard for this one.

P.P.S. If you are still wandering how to create these sub-factions, I can better elaborate on how exactly I plan to do it. It should definitely work, nothing too fancy is involved.

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Post by Infragris » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:49 pm

I should have specified: I have no objection to the presence of the Black Worm cultists, and I think their power grab makes for a good storyline. I just wanted to make sure that they were separate from the native necromancers.

I agree with most of your post, except that I don't think the local necromancers should not be united in factions - at least, not in factions whose first and only concerns is necromancy. I much prefer the notion of all necromancers being independent scholars whose only link is Mages Guild membership. Think of it this way: legal necromancy is so ingrained in Imperial culture that they don't make the distinction with "normal" magic as sharply, and it is assumed that most mages have at least dabbled in it. In a region where their craft is legal and respected, they would have little reason to unionize and segregate themselves. In more general terms, factions like the Niben Battlemages or the Deepwood tribes would use necromancy and may have a special relation to it, but are not solely defined by it.

Another reason to minimize the number of new factions is to keep parity with vanilla Morrowind, where you had a maximum of 14 joinable factions. We already have a multitude more thanks to the "thousand cults of Cyrodiil", and adding a large number of political factions on top of that runs the risk of becoming unmanageable, both for us and for the player who has to remember what is what. Not to mention the engine problems: Hannibal Traven, whom you mentioned in you example, is the guildmaster in Anvil: he offers quests, promotion, and sacks you if you do something stupid. This would get really complicated to do if he is not a member of the faction he represents, especially if it offers no discernible benefit from a technical perspective.

In general, local groups and minority opinions within larger factions should be treated like the Ordinators and the Buoyant Armigers: these are very obvious factions with their own identities, lore, and look, but in gameplay terms they are all just Temple members. You can do a lot with dialogue and presentation, before having to resort to the faction thing.

Two other things: both black soulgems and lichification are difficult things to script whose implementation would likely conflict with other mods. They are better left to a separate mod that focuses on necromancy, to ensure maximum compatability.

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Post by vrolok » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:06 pm

at least, not in factions whose first and only concerns is necromancy. I much prefer the notion of all necromancers being independent scholars whose only link is Mages Guild membership.
I personally do not think of these factions as of guilds or something like that. They are more like different schools of necromancy, like there are different schools of art or philosophy. The fact that you practise certain school kinda makes you a part of the faction, but they are more of the independent practitioners of certain schools or religious beliefs, not necessary bureaucratic organizations. And you need a certain school, just to have a certain direction of practice. That's how I think it would logically go if it was legal practice.

Though some individuals stay more on their own and conduct their own research, but that is usually harder and requires more resources. Maybe more skill, but not necessary.
Another reason to minimize the number of new factions is to keep parity with vanilla Morrowind, where you had a maximum of 14 joinable factions.
That is kinda bad for many many reasons, since Cyrodiil is so much bigger and more diverse. One way to do it would be something like what I proposed. Three factions, which are technically one. Even if player will be the only one member of these hidden factions, it still gives a feeling of achievement. They don't have to have any other members, not necessarily. As you say, they may go as Ordinators, but player should have some visual representation of joining.
Two other things: both black soulgems and lichification are difficult things to script whose implementation would likely conflict with other mods. They are better left to a separate mod that focuses on necromancy, to ensure maximum compatability.
That is a topic for another discussion and clearly not the main focus here. There are advantages to both approaches. Right now the general line of the quest is more important, some details from gameplay point of view can be discussed later.

Okay, I wrote it all in a hurry, hope it doesn't sound too critical. I really am open to criticism, so whatever works in the end - works ;)

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Post by Anumaril » Sun Apr 10, 2016 6:11 am

I like the idea behind this questline, however, regardless of player choice, I believe it should end the same way, with Traven becoming Arch-Mage (Or guaranteeing his future advancement, depending on the canon year it occurs). I'd think it a more intelligent move not for the Worm Cultists to take the position of Arch-Mage themselves, but guarantee it to an extremist like Traven. With Traven becoming Arch-Mage, the Worm Cultists would have far greater influence over practitioners of Necromancy who've basically had their entire lives of study thrown out the window, with the Wormists the only people they have to turn to, setting up for the conflict we see in TES IV.

As such, the Order of the Lamp would be composed of both Anti-Necromancers like Traven, as well as many undercover Worm Cultists. The whole player-allegiance thing may not even be necessary, considering the difficulties it may bring up with faction limitations, as either way, the Worm Cult technically wins and would have played the Mages Guild into the banning of Necromancy. Additionally, I'd say Worm Cultists should be an extreme minority, the player only meeting a few true Wormists across the questline (Though these wormists would be extremely important in their Order, and until the climax of the questline, all you'll see of their existence is rumors and hints). Most enemies would be regular Necromancy practitioners either driven to turning on the guild or framed by Traven or the Wormists, something you'll not realize until it's too late. Obviously, this questline would likely have less of a focus on combat, and more on diplomacy and investigation, something I think more interesting for the Mages Guild anyway. Should the player along the way end up working for the, unknown to them, corrupt Order of the Lamp, I think it'd be interesting to have them delving into lost Ayleid ruins (Hopefully with magick-based puzzles like that of Vahtacen in Oblivion) and other magick-heavy locations in search of what they've been told are relics important to solving this conflict, when in actuality, they're Necromantic artifacts that will bring the Worm Cult to the power we see them in TES IV along with the disenfranchised native Necromancers.

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Post by vrolok » Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:32 am

Well, I personally would prefer player choices to matter even if some of them lead to different results than what we see in the future games. I don't think that we should restrain ourselves too much with what happens next, but one of the conclusions should provide a "lore-friendly" ending, while others may take it into different direction. As for their influence, Black Worm wins either way, thanks to their calculations and their ability to use anything to their advantage, but gaining full control over the Mages Guild is huge, even for them.

I would love to see quite a bit of Ayleid exploration, especially among the main Mages Guild questline which offers more neutral quests without much politics, but some of them could tie into the struggle. It could be carried very well, much better than Oblivion excavations. I only hope that we try and avoid extremely obvious cases when you are being "fooled", but you know perfectly well about the manipulation. The quests should either really make you unaware of manipulations or fully-aware, yet forced to do it anyway.

We can work out great many details later down the line when the quests themselves and game mechanics are discussed. I can see great many interesting interactions inside the guild and outside and I think it could be epic and very fitting for Imperial province.

Do you guys agree on overall approach? If so, later we can create topics for actual quest plans. If we would know in advance what we will need, it should help significantly in world building. I would also love to have similar discussions regarding other playable factions.

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Post by Anumaril » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:30 am

It's not only 'what happens next', but what's logical. What use would the Worm Cult have for the position of Arch-Mage? They assume power for a bit until they're found out, and lack the resources and numbers in defense against the rest of the Mages Guild, including your native Necromancers. What would even be the end-goal there? If they even tried implementing radical change like "Stealing kids for necromancy is totally cool" would raise so much suspicion inside and outside the Guild. Alternatively, I think it more sensible for they to orchestrate a disastrous move by the Mages Guild that rallies a great number of Necromancers to their cause, with the Mages Guild to blame as far as the public is concerned. Future icing on their cake being the Oblivion Crisis in later years; that in combination with the Worm Cult's TES IV activity would lead to public unrest and the eventual dismantling of the Guild, which occurs post-Oblivion.

As for quests, there should be some recognition if you're of notable stature in the Morrowind guild. If it's possible, I'd think 'beginner' quests for the Cyrodiil guild would be set aside as optional quests in this case, with the player receiving summons to the University, where they'd immediately begin the Order of the Lamp quests. Otherwise, there'd be your beginner quests of similar nature to that of Morrowind - picking flowers and other "prove your competency" activities - then would come your summons to the University. This summons would have you explore an Ayleid ruin in search of an artifact, with the quest giver noting that the last mage they sent has not returned. You'd find the relic, and the mage, who's been subject to some Necromantic ritual. You'd bring the relic back, explain to the quest giver, who would recommend you to the Order of the Lamp. Then begins the real questline, full of political intrigue and investigation.

Of course, should this be the case, we'd do our very best not to make it clear to the player that they're being played. These Worm Cultists aren't going to be a bunch of Clark Kents taking their glasses off to fool you, or serial killers leaving cute little clues on their victims, their true positions would be unknown to the player until the climax of the questline, where it's practically too late to stop them. At which point, I imagine you having to team up with some framed now ex-Mages Guild members to hunt down the Cultists responsible, while keeping the Order of the Lamp off the scent. Realizing the system's corrupt and playing the anti-hero, you could say.

I'd have the excavations work into the main plot, though some may be related to side-quests involving the Archaeological Society, a terribly under-funded sect of the Mages Guild, who often bypass them altogether and excavate ruins for their magickal relics without the consultation of the Society. I imagine somewhat of a bitter rivalry between these two, with the Mages Guild having little interest in their findings save for what's of possible use and study. An Archaeological Society member might discover a priceless statue, only to have it ripped apart for an Aetherial Fragment embedded within. I think it important to really give personality to each of the subsets of the Mages Guild, though that's better discussed in another thread.

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Post by TerrifyingDaedricFoe » Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:03 am

This thread from the previous forums may be worth reading. I proposed a Mages Guild endgame which involved campaigning for votes for the next Archmage. The canon ending is that Traven won, whilst the non-canon endings are that the player won or (very unlikely) another more necromancy-friendly character won.

I like the ideas brought up in this thread about necromancy not being a faction-within-a-faction but something so commonplace most people (certainly in mage circles) don't pay it any particular attention. And the idea of worm cultists arranging Traven's rise to Archmage to force necromancers to join their ranks out of persecution is a very interesting angle indeed.

As far as gameplay implentation goes, separate in-game factions are definitely a no-go. The relevant dialogue can be much more easily implemented through scripts. A variable OrderLamp = 1 can be set and dialogue filtered accordingly.

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Post by Anumaril » Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:33 am

Though I very much like this idea of expanding the background of the Worm Cult as they're seen in TES IV, given that the Temple Zero Society is linked to scholars and mages, I'd like to see some interaction with them throughout the Guild quests. Throwing around ideas here, but perhaps some involvement through a framed mage you're attempting to help. He's been set up as a Worm Cultist and linked to several murders. You find out that he IS guilty, but not for the work of Worm Cultists, but hate-crimes against Elven citizens. Many of these set-ups by the Worms would take advantage of weakness, crimes, and mistakes of Guild members. By the end, you'd find yourself defending a band largely consisting of complete filth likely deserving of what's coming to them, but stopping the Worm Cult is of far more importance than what acts they've committed or how huge of assholes they are. Moral dilemma I like to imagine would be among the themes of this questline.
TerrifyingDaedricFoe wrote:I proposed a Mages Guild endgame which involved campaigning for votes for the next Archmage. The canon ending is that Traven won, whilst the non-canon endings are that the player won or (very unlikely) another more necromancy-friendly character won.
Personally, I'm of the opinion that in some cases like this, where we have the opportunity at a great narrative, player choices as consequential and grand as this should not be present. However, there are many elements of your proposal that I do think would work very well into the questline, whatever it ends up being.
TerrifyingDaedricFoe wrote:As far as gameplay implentation goes, separate in-game factions are definitely a no-go. The relevant dialogue can be much more easily implemented through scripts. A variable OrderLamp = 1 can be set and dialogue filtered accordingly.
Exactly why such subdivisions as the Archaeological Society would not be joinable, but rather helped through side-quests and their identity known through dialogue, possibly 'unlocked' through a check that the character is a member of the greater "Mages Guild"/"Council of Mages"/"Arcane University"/"Order of the Lamp" faction, whichever name it's given. We'd have the main questline, then smaller questlines or side-quests that don't influence guild rank, but still deal with the organization.

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Infragris
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Post by Infragris » Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:15 am

I'm of the opinion that the player should be able to become arch-mage if they want to: arbitrary restrictions like that make sense from our perspective, but not from within the game itself. Anyway, if the "canon" ending for the Nerevarine is that they left for Akavir and were never heard from again, then Traven can just take back control after the player's disappearance.

About the Worm cultist taking over the Guild: this would give them control over the deepest secrets of the Arcane University and the vast resources of an Empire-spanning organization. Of course they would want this. They also shouldn't really be afraid of being found out: remember, necromancy is legal in Cyrodiil. People might think they're a bit creepy with their skull rings and worm obsession, but that's not enough reason to persecute them.
Exactly why such subdivisions as the Archaeological Society would not be joinable, but rather helped through side-quests and their identity known through dialogue, possibly 'unlocked' through a check that the character is a member of the greater "Mages Guild"/"Council of Mages"/"Arcane University"/"Order of the Lamp" faction, whichever name it's given. We'd have the main questline, then smaller questlines or side-quests that don't influence guild rank, but still deal with the organization.
This is indeed the best way to do it. Many of our factions have composite sub-factions: the Imperial Cult has its nine orders, the Legion has the Navy, Battlemages etc. Questlines related to these sub-groups can open up when the player joins the faction or when he is of sufficient rank.

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vrolok
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Post by vrolok » Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:17 am

I mean, I might be missing something, but just hypothetically, what is harm in allowing player to join the factions? I think I am being misunderstood on this point, because they don't need to technically have other members, but I think if you decide to be closely involved with another faction, you might get a rank as an achievement. Even though you will be the only one in the faction. Similar to the reward for Oblivion's main quest.

I personally still believe that gaining control over the guild is much more desirable outcome for the cult. Don't forget that these are extremely powerful necromancers lead by the god and if they can capture the power, they will most likely hold it. Just imagine how powerful the cult will become if they are able to use the guild resources and communications to spread their influence over Tamriel.

They wouldn't need to hide all the time, but would be officially strongest power, even the Empire will have to recognize them. And it is important for them, because unlike vampires, they gain their power through followers, so they need to be somewhat in the open, only keeping their secrets deep inside from the prying eye. They would still benefit from Hannibal's victory, but not as much I think.

P.S. We seem to share a lot in common with Infragris on this one and that I am glad :)

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Anumaril
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Post by Anumaril » Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:36 am

It's one thing to be a Necromancer, digging up corpses hurts nobody. Doing what the Worm Cult would, torturing victims so as to strengthen the soul, would certainly be illegal. Not on the grounds of necromancy, but other laws they'd clearly be breaking. How would being out in the open benefit a cult known to be so dangerous? They wouldn't gain followers by opening up, any Mage who can read would know of the Worm Cult and their philosophy. They'd gain followers through careful manipulation and political subterfuge.

Outlaw Necromancy, and you have waves of followers that come to your offer of continued, hidden Necromantic practice. It's only a matter of pushing them to their true potential to convince them of the greater capabilities of Necromancy, not to mention these disenfranchised mages would certainly want revenge for their livelihoods being effectively destroyed. While in-game it may be of little consequence for the player to master all the arts in a month or two, in-lore it would take many years, sometimes a lifetime to truly master a particular field of magickal study. While having control of the University may benefit them, I see this alternative benefiting them even more in the long-run. However, I can see Infragris' point with the whole 'Akavir' thing, so I'm not against multiple endings and more choices. So long as the narrative is kept interesting (Because I really think we've got something great going here), I'm all for it.

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Post by vrolok » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:07 pm

Yeah, but nobody needs to know about other things they do, these are under the carpet. And even if someone tries to persecute them, they would be powerful enough to evade all the accusations. Sure, everybody knows they are shady, but they have their people in the right places, they have other means of influence. They would be pretty much out of touch.

Still, I see your point and we need to show that even if they lose, they still win. The cult would totally use the ban to their advantage, just like you point out, that's all true. But winning gives them more power and options, no matter what exactly they will decide to do. It's a situation where they cannot really lose.

Player here might help them and gain benefits of it, while also stopping the ban of necromancy to protect local practitioners, or he might try and stop them, still playing along with their plans, banning the necromancy and pushing everybody closer to the cult. Plus, you get more benefit from helping them, gaining yourself a position of the arch-mage, while if you go against them, you get lesser reward.

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