I would first like to say that this mod is entirely lore friendly now, I may have had a few hiccups here and there, but that is down to either misinformation I've read or heard from someone else, all the other source material I've had to work with is mentioned or seen somewhat inside the mod.
Far before any of the events within the mod takes place, the characters of focus were the last Ayleid king (AK), Alessia and Pelinal. I have made a minor concession with the character of the Ayleid king, considering we don't have much going for what he was like during his mortal years, so I thought it would fit within the story to have him in service of a daedric prince, the prince being Namira. AK was called to the aid of the Direnni, where they made defenses within the reach and further into High Rock against the encroaching forces of Alessia. Within the mod you will encounter a dungeon "Nenalata Proxy", the proxy indicating that this was a temporary fortress of AK and his ayleid forces during the many skirmishes in the reach. Entering in this dungeon will see the many torture devices and still lingering Ayleid wraiths inside. Further into this dungeon you will stumble upon another called "Domicile of Tears", this is the last bastion of AK and where the now freed slave militia of Alessia and Pelinal laid him low. I really want to flesh this out through books and dialogue within the mod, and am planning to do so with future extensions.
With AK dead, his soul would have have been reaped by Namira due to his servitude of her. AK was a sadistic lord who made the other Ayleid kings and governors uncomfortable, so explaining further why he could survive the initial onslaught of the ayleids within cyrodil, he probably did not care that much for his kin to begin with. Only when he saw that they were imposing a threat on himself that he decided to ally with the Direnni.
Namira grants AK the privilege of overseeing the building of a tower within the Scuttling Void, aptly name "Surrogate". This part is a bit of head cannon but I thought it was suitable, the concept of mantling is when one mortal imitates to such finesse the actions of someone who came before, or those of a god, until the dreamstate of the world can not distinguish between them. In this scenario the Tower "Surrogate", would have functioned very similar to the Adamantine tower on Nirn, only differing in appearance and intent. The realm of the reach is actively hostile and grim, several characters remark on the misery and despair throughout the land. The physical realm of the reach is resembling that of the Scuttling Void, for I attribute Namira to depression, ugliness and despair. A sort of land mantling can take place that coincides with the towers, making the progression of the scuttling void into Nirn all that much easier.
Gone are the ways of abrupt invasions such as with Mehrunes dagons incursions, now the plans are hatched 1000s of years before their unveiling. On the third quest you are sent to receive the lords pendant, with a small inscription that reads "May your stomach never sour", this is of course reference to the cannibalism that takes place within his Manor, and the fact that most of his victims carry the uncertainty of plague. But this pendant holds more significance, for it was the amulet that AK adorned himself during his reign. AK desperately tried to make Mortifayne become like him, the world would see that both wore the amulet, practiced in the same vices and committed the same brutal acts, in turn Mortifayne could essentially mantle AK, bringing AKs motives into Nirn proper, instead of relying on the will of the bretons themselves.
This plan had backfired because Mortifayne did not have the same taste for sadism as AK, the personalities were not entirely compatible, only the explicit personality of Mortifayne resembled that of AK, the thoughts and grief that mortifayne had for his deceased wife stand in stark contrast to what AK could feel in the same situation.
Onto Mados, last of the fabled War Knights from Evermore (TES: Arena reference), some said his armor was blessed by Mara, and that all his injuries were healed somewhat by her enduring love for the bretons. This is all conjecture, but to most Bretons it is fact. Mados had been a renowned hero for the reach, and a symbol of pride for Raven Spring (now called Arnima), as his cradle was made there. Mados's last stand was at Grey Belmor, against the incursion from the extremist group "Orsiniums sons", a group formed from the embittered and aggressive remnants of a shattered Orsinium, those orcs who escape persecution or who are so fanatical and devoted to the cult of Malacath and their culture, that any transgression against it will be taken personally.
A small detachment of Imperials and the town guard was the only thing in the way of the Orcs sacking Raven Spring and beyond, for this assault took place at the opportune time of the Great War in cyrodil and its surrounding provinces. With many Bretons conscripted to fight in that conflict, there was little the way of domestic peacekeepers back home. A breton scout talked of the shamans who were conducting rituals at the edge of the quagmire, imperial officers talked it over themselves and concluded that the shamans would probably inflict more damage on the fortress of Grey Belmor than any number of Orcish footmen would. Mados offered to take on the shamans with a team of scouts, so that they may quell the possible impending curse that may be cast upon them.
Upon reaching the gathering of the arcane, Mados and co immediately set upon them, however, traps laid around the shaman halted or seriously maimed the advance of the scouts, upon hearing the Bretons, the shamans were in panic and cast their curse too early. The implications of this were not seen until later. Mados took down 2 of the magic wielders, only to have the third direct his magic infused hands towards Mados. Mados took the full brunt of shamanistic horrors, still managing to step through the onslaught and strike his attacker low, albeit with the help of his enchanted armor. His skin was seared from his body, bleeding from within the armor, he attempted to stagger back in the direction of Grey Belmor. Although it was a futile, he collapsed, assuming the worst, the now free scouts instead took him towards Raven Spring instead of Grey Belmor. Where Mados would be immortalized with the Temple of All.
The curse had manifested itself above Grey Belmor, one that had flesh and organs melt from the body, only leaving the core behind to wander. The now bloody skeletons of the former imperial/breton force tore at each other, no one survived the tragedy, and the souls of the dead still wander the fields infront of Grey Belmor, and within to this day.
Evermore relieves the siege with a force consisting of the garrison that was stationed in Wayrest, driving the Orsimer back to the cliffs, for them to not be seen in mass again until 30 years later. Wayrest falls back into the hands of criminals and pirates that sail up the bjoulase river.
Onto the 5th main quest, where the priest directs you in finding the grandson of Mados, in which only Mados's bloodline can wield his armor. You agree and find the blacksmith Rados.
The 6th quest has you attacking the domain of the witchmen, with the objective of eliminating the Hagraven Matriach who serves as the lead summoner for the monstrosities that come straight from the scuttling void. With her death, you find yourself outside the tomb, only to fight one of the monstrosities I formerly described.
Here the main quest escalates towards a scene in which I was inspired by the manga "Berserk", and leading towards a quest inspired by the graphic novel "Glimmer Rats". Mortifayne and Merosa get into a heated argument about Mortifaynes right to rule Arnima (Raven Spring), leading to the death of Merosa at the end of the disagreement. Mortifayne heads toward the Manor and into his basement, heading down his well and into the portal that leads him into "council" with AK. AK, enraged over mortiaynes earlier refusal to summon him and the tower into the reach earlier, takes mortifayne back to the Scuttling Void where he would suffer for as long as that dimension exists.
With the ensuing chaos, the priest directs you towards the portal at the center of town. The priests have knowledge on how to deal with this situations only because they have happened before in the Oblivion Crisis, and on a much larger scale. My headcannon dictates that all priests should learn through scripture or training about the oblivion crisis, and what to do if they indeed happened again.
You head through the portal and attempt to find other survivors, finding jackos, he escorts you towards Rados and then the Priest. With the quest being to reach the Sigil stone at the top of the tower, now the Priest doesn't know if there's a Sigil stone, but there are little other options to escape the Scuttling void and end the invasion altogether.
You reach the top of the tower, which for the more attentive players, has floors each denoting an entry in the TES saga, from Arena to Skyrim. AK will hold these memories when individuals managed to radically change the course of history within the tower, maybe rewriting the events once his tower is summoned and replaces Adamantia.
You have a talk with AK, where he espouses some of his plan in typical villain fashion, I just wouldn't feel comfortable if he instantly attacked you without talking first. He remarks on the "Dragon and her mistress should have sent more suitable heralds", referring to you being the herald of Akatosh, Dragonborn, and that Rados is the herald of Mara due to the armor and bloodline. Mara is often regarded as the mistress of Akatosh.
You defeat him and activate the Sigil Stone, and return to Nirn, to be greeted by the other knight, Horustair. He thanks you for what you did and you receive a grant for knighthood for your exceptional feat. Jackos is missing (still trapped within the Scuttling void, and probably dead), and the town of the Divide and Arnima are missing governors.
It could make for interesting extensions if I decide to make more of the main quest. Such as the unifying of the Exiles and the people of Evermore, because of the traumatic assault of the daedra and the witchmen, to create a new ultra religious state that seeds out daedra worshippers and anyone who perverts the will of the nine. Like the vigilants of stendarr, but for an entire people. They would become more oppressive and paranoid, and would lead you into making tough choices whether to stay a knight of Evermore, or abandon your role and be vilified by the kingdom.
I stated above that the mod is entirely lore friendly, however it did not begin like that. During the first 2 months I was still deciding where this mod would take place, and what would be the theme of it. I made it quite analogous to a gritty portrayal of medieval england, and then moved onto to making it take place in the Reach. But then my scope had change from basing it off england, and more like Eastern Europe, particularly border between the old Ottoman empire and the christian lands to the north. There's no politics involved here, it was just inspiration. I liked the idea of radically different peoples clashing, and the forces behind it. I liked the idea that a land could be so engulfed in a history of hate and war, that no amount of apologies or acts of generosity could rectify it. That's what I felt the reach should strive for, that it would be a land of sorrow due to the atrocities of times long gone, yet the wounds have not healed.
Things I seriously regret about this project is the entire reach section and how I started it, because it was my first project, I had little to no experience with the editor and design, there were a lot of jagged inclines on hills and terrains, a lot of overlapping textures causing flickering and the map suffered from a very ugly visual design, that still suffers to this day. I have tried to fix the map to the best of my ability, but if I elminate one problem then it gives birth to another it seems. Such as with the floating water in version 2.15, I eliminated that problem, but then the map became a jagged mess as a result. PLEASE NOTE, the overworld map is not indicative of what can be seen in gameplay when you're not viewing the map, the LOD for the map and ground LOD differs.
Another update that I will work on is a dialogue overhaul, because I get the feeling most people become bored due to the lack of radiant conversations or random chatter. I would work on giving more people dialogue options discussing the lore, and the current mood, also situational dialogue. Also wanted to start work on Jehanna, the city to the north of Evermore, right next to Solitude in skyrim, there would be another entrance next to the high rock/skyrim border at the very north of skyrim.
The design of this mod was also in part to fill a niche, I see so many other mods have the generic atmosphere of skyrim, and everything is always happy and bright, like the world is a theme park. My mod filled the niche for something more gritty and tragic.
WHY THE THEME? (optional reading, personal)
2.5 years ago, when I first started thinking about creating a mod, was when I was in a heavy depressive state, I wanted to create something that could give other people who felt the same way something to play. I feel like people that are heavily depressed are marginalized by what's on offer, I know many people like to distract themselves with escapism and pleasant things rather than face a dismal truth, but I rather like to seek out the truths and confront them. I am not condoning suicide or being depressed, it is a horrible state to deal with, it clouds judgement and makes you incredibly bitter. But the mod was littered with euphemisms towards being trapped and suicide, I don't think many people picked up on them. That's why I feel ecstatic whenever someone asks me an actual question regarding my development process or the story of my mod.
The giant steep cliffs and the constant rain and the mention of floods all allude to depression, that's why I think many people will take a disliking to my mod. The title and the very first thing you read in the intro movie attest to this too. I am not as depressed as I used to be, as I dropped out of university 3 years ago when the depression started. So I would like to release a version of the mod that has more sun and "happy" music.
That's why my plan for Jehanna may be radically different to the land of the reach, it will be similar to the idyllic locales of skyrim and oblivion, and people will be more upbeat, but not overbearingly so. I'll also take out the niggly wiggly quest and fix the audio levels on some voices (I know many of them are too quiet).
I also feel that I've upset a great many people through different acts, my depression plays a lot into how I react to people, cold and distant. But I don't like getting involved in the community that much because then people will attach my personality to my mod, and refuse to download.
Any questions you would like to ask? Leave them below in the comments.