Content of the article: "The simplest way to solve the Skyrim Civil War problem"
I haven’t seen this theory anywhere before, but if anyone has heard anything like it, feel free to link that below to add to the discussion.
There’s a lot of talk regarding how the next Elder Scrolls game will handle the aftermath of Skyrim. With the civil war in Skyrim receiving an ending during TES: V, there’s a question about how Bethesda will address the canonical ending of the civil war in the next game. There is clearly a definitive winner, but to clearly make one side’s victory canon would go against most of what has made Elder Scrolls lore unique from the beginning; that is, there is almost never a definitive, canonical course when two or more story choices are presented to the player.
Of course there are plenty of people who suggest a dragon break to solve the problem, but I’ve yet to see that proposed in a way other than “Oh, there’s a problem with lore in Elder Scrolls? Let’s just slap on a dragon break and call it a day.” The other concept I’ve seen at least once or twice on this sub is that the winner won’t matter anyway: the next game would be set after the Aldmeri Dominion acts in such a way that the victor in the Skyrim Civil War is irrelevant because the Aldmeri were simply using the war as a means to weaken both sides. This prevents any definitive answer being necessary, but might cause problems because it would be a reasonably significant event in other provinces that would be expected to be chronicled in books, and those chronicles would most likely have to note the victor of the civil war even with the Aldmeri Dominion making the civil war as a whole irrelevant.
Which leads me to my theory: why does the next game have to address it at all? If TES: VI is set in Hammerfell (which, let’s be honest, it will be at least partially), why not have it take place at the same time as TES: V. If TES: VI is set in the year 4E 201, there would be no need to declare a winner in the Skyrim Civil War because it would be ongoing. We know there’s enough going on in Hammerfell with the aftermath of the Great War, the secession from the Empire, and the ongoing hostilities with the Dominion after the Treaty of Stros M’kai that a whole storyline could be made from what little we already know. Rumors of dragons and civil war in Skyrim could be part of NPC dialogue, and you could interact with people from TES: V or people involved in the conflicts, all without having to even deal with the Civil War question.
While Bethesda will eventually have to give an answer to reconcile the two canonical endings of the Skyrim Civil War, setting the next game at the same time as Skyrim would alleviate that problem. I see two possible options if they choose this route: either they simply push the problem off to a future TES game to answer, or they simply incorporate it into the story or TES: VI and leave it as simply a dialogue choice for you to decide the answer. Your character could be asked about the outcome of the Skyrim Civil War and have two options: you’ve heard the Stormcloaks won, or you’ve heard the Empire won. Simple as that. It might not be the most satisfying way to handle the problem, but it might be the most efficient option for the designers and writers in the long run.
Maybe I’m over-complicating things, but this is the Elder Scrolls we’re talking about.
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