In Tamriel's world, her very existence is a closely guarded secret. The entrance to this secret city is hidden in a secret underground vault. Its location is known only by chosen few beyond the inner circle of Sotha Sil. But at the end of this year, intrepid explorers will venture into the masterwork of the Clockwork God for the first time with The Elder Scrolls Online's new Imperial DLC pack, Clockwork City.
"We chose the Clockwork City to be The Elder Scrolls Online's next zone because it's a unique location that we haven't fully explored," says creative director Rich Lambert. "This is Sotha Sil's realm. It's his interpretation of how the world looks, how it works, or perhaps how he wants it to be. The entire realm was fabricated, so it's very different from what we've done before – which is really cool. And, of course, it's Sotha Sil, and Elder Scrolls fans love Sotha Sil. He's a mad genius."
A Mechanical Mystery
Of course, given the secret and mysterious nature of the Clockwork God, many things about Clockwork City remain a mystery.
"The first thing you have to know about Sotha Sil is that we don't know anything about Sotha Sil!" Says Leamon Tuttle, the area's lead writer. "Mystery is fundamental to his character. He could have constructed the Clockwork City for any number of reasons, and what that means for Tamriel, good or bad, remains to be seen."
Even describing Clockwork City is difficult. Legends say the city is a miniature representation of Tamriel built inside a glass dome and supposedly visitors are magically reduced in size to enter it. Even more remarkable is the fact that the descriptor "clockwork" is quite real. The structures, vegetation and wildlife of the city are mechanical constructs created by Sotha Sil himself. This makes Clockwork City a particularly surreal area for players to explore.
"The Clockwork City is the most mysterious zone we've ever done," Tuttle explains. "This is partly because there wasn't a tremendous amount of pre-existing lore to begin with, but it's also by virtue of the fact that it's Sotha Sil's realm, and no one truly knows the intentions of his strange experiments, or what their results will be."
The Workshop Of Clockwork God
When exploring Clockwork City, you will discover that it is a workshop and a testing ground for the mechanical creations of Sotha Sil. These fantastic and dangerous live machines include, for example, the verminous fabricant, a perverse fusion of flesh and metal that circles the forest around the city.
"While the fabricants remain one of Sotha Sil's greatest technological achievements, no one really knows how or why they were made," says Tuttle. "Some of Sotha Sil's followers, the Clockwork Apostles, surmise that they could be the first steps toward a fully integrated future, where the lines between flesh and machine disappear. Why such a future might require giant mechanical lizard-monsters is anybody's guess!"
Are fabricants part of the continuous experiments of Sotha Sil or were they simply abandoned by the Clockwork God and left to wander through the vastness? Whatever the case, it is clear that even from the shadows, Sotha Sil exerts a high level of control over the realm he has built. It is not yet known how you fit into this great experiment. Are you going to enter Clockwork City like a wildcard or will every move of yours prove itself as part of his plan?
A Clockwork Society
The residents of Clockwork City, like the mechanical nature of the zone itself, have a unique social division that reflects the mind of Sotha Sil.
"The special thing about Clockwork City is that it's in a secret location that's been hidden from the rest of Tamriel for millennia, and as a result it is very isolated," Lambert explains. "That means the people who live there are a little different, and as you progress through the storyline and do quests, you'll begin to understand the nature of their peculiar society."
This growing society is divided into two distinct groups: the Apostles, which are part of the machinations of the Clockwork God, and the Tarnished who live without the protections of the fortress. For the Apostles, every resident of Brass Fortress - the central axis of Clockwork City - must have a distinct purpose. This purpose may be the academic study of Sotha Sil's work, the continued preservation of his endless experiments, or important maintenance tasks that keep the city functioning. Those without a role to play in this grand scheme are not welcome inside the Brass Fortress.
"The Brass Fortress is a very regimented area where people either perform a function or they're cast out. Much like any machine, if you have a gear, that gear has a specific job," Tuttle explains. "But if that gear is broken, then it is thrown out, and that's the Tarnished. People who, for whatever reason, couldn't find a role in society, so they have to cobble one out for themselves."
You will find these two groups as you explore the realm of Sotha Sil and perhaps even discover your own function as part of this great machine.
Discover Sotha Sil
In the Clockwork City DLC pack, you need to unravel a Daedric conspiracy, but the entire kingdom is a mystery in itself and its true nature and purpose can be an even bigger puzzle.
"Ultimately," says Lambert, "with this new zone we're trying to give players the same kind of experience they had with ESO: Morrowind or the Orsinium DLC game pack. They get a new space to explore, a fantastic story to experience, and they get to understand a little bit more about the Clockwork City."