Kendar's Ascension - Narrative
Kendar's Ascension - A Skyrim Mod
As part of a course at Futuregames, we were tasked with either starting or following up on a personal project and document the results at the end of two and a half weeks, It could be anything that you've wanted to make, and so I decided to challenge myself and try to create a mod for a franchise that I love, in a game engine I've never used.
Kendar's Ascension is a quest mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that I wanted to create to further my knowledge in level design working with an already established framework, to prove to myself that I can change my habits on a dime and adapt to technology that is new to me, and most importantly: work on narrative design and level art to flesh out my competence in level design.
Production time :
Skryim Creation Kit
This page will provide some information about the backstory and inspiration for the quest, as well as the story as the player encounters it.
If you want to read a full walkthrough with insight around the choices made while developing the quest and the level itself, or if you want to read a blog where I did a short weekly update, please click the links below!
Backstory and plot
The story bases itself upon another story in the elder scrolls universe, or at the very least has strong ties to and references it without demanding it to be known by the player.
The quest revolves around a character by the name of Kendar, a copycat necromancer seeking to become a God just like the Worm King Mannimarco did during the events of Elder Scrolls Online and TES II: Daggerfall.
The story of Mannimarco's ascension hundreds of years prior reached Kendar's ears through whispered rumors, and he devoted the rest of his mortal life to gain a chance at Godhood. In his endeavors, he gained a following with his promises of long life before and after death to those who would aid him. The following later came to be known as the Order of Life.
Kendar later claimed his divine domain; the Domain of Usurpation, his totemic representation of a Man, and readied himself to take the god Orkey's place and thus control mortality to satiate his own twisted delusions of grandeur.
Totemic representations in Skyrim's pantheon usually shows the god as an animal. Kendar, being born a man and rising towards godhood, chose Man as his icon. His distaste for near-humans and non-humans rang true in this choice as well, as he distanced himself and his devoted from other races.
The Dragonborn enters the story after all of this. Kendar has tried and only partially succeeded in his ascension once before, vowed to usurp Orkey to gain full power over a domain, and is gathering more power as a demigod as the time goes on. The Dragonborn meets a mysterious woman named Nirana Brightwater, who will later in the story be revealed to have a past connected to the Order, and tells the Dragonborn that they need help in stealing a tome from a group of necromancers in hiding.
These necromancers are of course a cell of the Order, and the tome is an important factor in Kendar's worship and rise to Godhood.
The hideout used to be part of an ancient Nord underground structure, a place of worship for the god Orkey, as shown by the architecture of the hideout and the stone mural in the sanctum. However, the Order of Life recently claimed the ruins as their own hideout, filling it with their teachings in form of books, altars and other means of worship and experimentation. The lair was chosen for a number of reasons, the most important being this connection to Orkey, whom Kendar strives to usurp. Throughout the dungeon, it shows signs of its former years of Nordic rule, as well showing the terrible shape of which the structure is in, large parts of rooms in ruin and its rather violent connection with protruding cavernous rock.
As part of filling out the backstory so that the player may happen upon hints at its progression at this early state, I wrote a few lore books containing smaller elements of the story. One includes parts of tales of Mannimarco, the Totem from TES II: Daggerfall and other in-universe items, characters and locations that were vital in his road to ascension. Another includes an incomplete journal that may have been in Kendar's possession, as well as some books explaining the Order's teachings.
These are all elements that I of course wouldn't expect every player to acquire and read, but it was the most efficient way of integrating a story in such short amount of time without adding a lot of characters with a lot of dialogue.
The books are spread out in the dungeon with multiple duplicates in book cases and on tables to ensure a higher probability of the player encountering them, and adds an extra bit of information to those who are interested in deeper lore of whatever game they happen to be playing.
In addition to the more convoluted, yet more encompassing lore books, the necromancers also leave notes explaining certain situations about what they've encountered at the hideout since trying to make it their own. It includes such things as a note explaining they've been having trouble with frostbite spiders appearing at an alarming rate in the storage room, explaining why it's locked off. Or that the scouts sent further into the caves above the sanctum haven't returned, explaining some skeletons in a cavern. These are ways of supplementing the content of some of the rooms and caverns, creating the feeling that the space has been lived in and has some history, and they're not at all meant to be vital to the quest's overall story or gameplay.