Monday, August 6, 2018


Last week I did something that I thought I would likely regret later: I downloaded The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and created a character. I'd bought the game back during the big Steam midyear sale, and I really wanted to know whether the 90 GB download size was going to be worth it.

When I start a game, I don't dip my toe into the water gently. I jump into the deep end of the pool.* I was a bit concerned that after my experience with Stardew Valley, where I played the game constantly as much as I could, I was going to have a hard time pulling myself away from ESO. When you add in the "Oooo, shiny!" aspect to the game, not to mention that it was GenCon weekend and I had Twitch cast to our television, I was being bombarded with gamer stuff.

I feared overload.

Well, I didn't get gamer overload, but I found that ESO is a pretty interesting game.

I'd bought the game --which included Morrowind-- so that meant that a new player starts in Morrowind itself. I had no real preconceived notions about starting zones and whatnot, so I kind of shrugged and went with it.

As I expected, the initial questline sucked me in, but I noticed that there were hardly any side quests, so I was a bit confused. Then I made it to my first decent sized questing city, Balmora.**

There were several size quests, including a main questline that kind of dominated my time in the city, but what I didn't expect was that a small side quest, The Memory Stone, would suck up all of my attention.

And all the feels.


For older WoW players, there's the questline in Wrath about Crusader Bridenbrad, who had come down with the plague and had gone off into isolation to not be a danger to anyone else. Try as you might, whatever you try to help cure Crusader Bridenbrad of the plague doesn't work. In the end, the Crusader dies, but the Naaru intervene so that after Bridenbrad can be brought into the Light.

Knowing that the questline was made to honor Brad Bridenbecker, brother of Blizzard VP Robert Bridenbecker, who died from cancer in 2007 makes the questline all the more moving.

Well, ESO has their own moving questline in The Memory Stone.


It seems such a simple request, really: go take a "Memory Stone" to absorb an old Dark Elf's memories so he can pass them on to his estranged children. But the thing is, those memories pack a hefty emotional punch. And then the ending...

It's the sort of questline that will resonate the most to parents attempting to reach out to their adult children, trying to get them to understand how things turned out the way they did. In life, we don't get to have the do-over or a "roll a new character" that we do with games. You handle life on the fly, adjusting to whatever is happening, and some of those choices made at the time can seem cruel or callous later. But that's life: we frequently make the best of the situation we're in.

The Memory Stone hit me like someone had dropped a ton of bricks on my head. I'm not ashamed to say that I teared up at the end, because it's a parent thing. No, it's a life thing, and people who go through life will understand why such a small side quest had such an outsized impact on me.

*See: WoW, Stardew Valley, SWTOR, etc.

**Not to be confused with Balmorra from SWTOR. And yes, for the purist you go through a very small village and then head straight to the capital, THEN out to Balmora.


  1. Isn’t that such a powerful quest, though? I did not see that ending coming. (Sniff)

    1. About halfway through I thought it might go that way, but I wasn't expecting it to go precisely in that manner. The one character in the last memory in particular was very Dickensian.

      To be honest, I was surprised at how good the writing was for the main questline in Balmora itself. I've seen it described in forums as Shakespearean in tone and feel, and I have to agree. The choice you have to make at the end, that was brutual in a way that I hadn't seen since The Witcher, Mass Effect, or even toward the end of the Trooper's story in SWTOR.