Escape From Prison is the first main quest of The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Following Jagar Tharn's usurping of Uriel Septim VII's throne, the Eternal Champion is contacted by Ria Silmane: they are told they must escape the Imperial Dungeons, and begin their journey to reforge the legendary Staff of Chaos.
The Emperor is betrayed...
And transported to a dimension of Tharn's choosing...
After months of preparation Jagar Tharn, takes the throne...
Ria Silmane, once Tharn's apprentice, is captured before she can warn the Elder Council of the Imperial Battle Mage's treachery...
Manipulating the essence of magic, Tharn prepares to take the true Emperor's place as ruler of the known land...
The Imperial Wizard wastes no time gathering his servants...
And turning them into twisted counterparts of the Guard...
- Listen to Ria Silmane.
- Explore and loot the sewers, and level up in the process.
- Find the Shift Gate, and escape.
- Sleep to contact Silmane.
After the Eternal Champion generates a character and enters the world of "The Arena," they are greeted by the ghost of their deceased friend, Ria Silmane, and are told about the recently-unfolded events:
Imperial Dungeons – Sewer Network
The Eternal Champion then stands in the Imperial Dungeons. Depending on their class, the Champion may start with a weapon they are able to use, if not already planning to use magic. Depending on the Champion's Luck statistic, the loot pile outside of the dungeon may hold better items more suited to their class.
Prompts appear on-screen in and outside the cell as the Champion moves around. These messages describe the Champion's current surroundings, and are mostly harmless; though there are exceptions far later into Arena. Further abandoning the prison cell, a reminder appears:
The Champion now has two choices:
- Escape the dungeons as quickly as possible.
- Stay in the dungeons.
If escape is chosen, the best route to reach the Shift Gate is to, repetitiously, follow Ria's advice: go west, then south from the starting cell.
If exploration is preferred, the Champion will satisfy later requirements for starting the second main quest. This provides level experience, gold, and other loot. Loot is distinguished as a small pile of gold, an opened or closed chest and/or a pile of swords and armors on the floor.
It is of note that almost all dungeons in Arena are extremely disorienting. While few are recognizably handcrafted, as the Imperial Dungeons are, others are randomly generated. It is recommended to use the provided map, fitted with an easy-to-see pink guiding line, and to mark the in-game "automap."
During exploration, non-interactive objects, such as barrels, will be encountered, as well as interactive doors which function as secret passageways. The latter are marked on the automap as walls with passageways behind them, the former must be marked by hand.
The foremost hazard currently are sewer waterways which flow between and under the other corridors. Doing a running leap can avoid most water hazards. Swimming costs more fatigue than walking; charged immediately on entry, then shortly thereafter. The Champion cannot use weapons or spells while swimming, and nearby enemies attack and block ledges above the water.
It is recommended that the Champion level up during their time in the sewer. This will prompt Ria Silmane's aforementioned contact later on.
Escape – Shift Gate
Eventually, the Champion will come across Silmane's Shift Gate at the end of a thin corridor: a square wall, with blue-beamed edges and a black void in the middle. When approaching, a prompt appears:
Floppy Disk Copy Protection
On the floppy disk version of Arena, a window will pop up asking the Champion a question as they approach:
What is the cost of (Item/Spell)?
On floppy disk releases of Arena, the Champion clears the copy protection by searching their manual for "The Known Spellbook" chapter. On all current official, digital releases the costs of the certain magic are found in the game directory:
..\Game_Installation\ARENA\Docs. If the question is answered incorrectly the first time, it shall prompt once more, and another failure will result in a forceful shutdown.
If the Champion has the CD release of the game, this prompt is skipped. The same applies to the Deluxe/Anthology releases of The Elder Scrolls series that include Arena.
The Champion will then be teleported into a random city in the province which they selected as their homeland. The Champion must sleep where available to contact Ria, after progressing from level one. The next quest may then begin, "Stonekeep."
This section contains bugs related to Escape From Prison (Arena). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- Niches, despite directly claimed as safe resting zones, may spawn enemies which attack the player.
- If sleeping in the sewer corridors after becoming level two, Silmane dream bridges with the Champion despite supposedly waiting until their escape. This does not affect the main quest.
During copy protection, the Shift Gate will occasionally demand impossible terms: for example, Any answer fails the question.
- This also occurs, specifically, with "pog11.img," and multiple other files.
- Fail the demand, and answer the second. The question will not repeat.
- Obtain a CD release build of Arena.
|Arena Main Quest|
|Escape From Prison • Stonekeep • Fang Lair • Fortress of Ice • Labyrinthian • Selene's Web • Elden Grove • Temple of Agamanus • Halls of Colossus • Temple of the Mad God • Crystal Tower • Mines of Khuras • Crypt of Hearts • Vaults of Gemin • Murkwood • Black Gate • Dagoth-Ur • Imperial Palace|