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For other uses, see Escape From Prison and Tutorial.

Escape From Prison is the first main quest of The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Following Jagar Tharn's betrayal, the Eternal Champion is contacted by Ria Silmane—they're told they must escape the Imperial Dungeons to start their ten year journey and rebuild the Staff of Chaos.


Uriel Septim IV [sic] [Do not change this to
Uriel Septim VII
. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.]
, Emperor of Tamriel, stands with Talin, leader of the Imperial Guards. They have been summoned by Jagar Tharn, Imperial Battle Mage of the Empire, on rumors of treachery. The Emperor is betrayed, and transported to a dimension of Tharn's choosing. After months of preparation Jagar Tharn, takes the throne...
Betrayal Introductory Slide (Arena)

The Emperor (right) and Talin (left) are betrayed.

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 Emperors [sic] [Do not change this to
. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.]
Guard... —Arena's introduction


  • Receive Ria Silmane's dream bridge.
  • Escape the cell, explore and loot the prisons.
    • Level up at some point in the process.
  • Find the Shift Gate and escape.
  • Sleep to receive Silmane's next dream bridge.


Dream Bridge

After the Eternal Champion has generated their character and has entered the world of "The Arena," they are greeted by the ghost of their recently-murdered friend, Ria Silmane.

The Champion, unaware of the world outside of their prison cell and how long it's been, is told by Silmane of Jagar Tharn's treachery:

Ria Silmane (Arena)

Ria Silmane, dream bridging with the Eternal Champion.

Do not fear for it is I, Ria Silmane. (Player's name), listen to me, there are no others left to carry on this fight.

You have been left in this cell to die. Jagar Tharn, Imperial Battle Mage of Tamriel has taken on the guise of the true Emperor. He does not see you as a threat, being only a minor part of the Imperial Court. In that act of arrogance, he has made his first mistake.

Look to the north wall of this cell. You will find a ruby key which will unlock the door. Take it and make your escape. The passages here were once used by Tharn to hide treasures he had stolen from the Emperor's coffers. If you wish, you can gather enough to support yourself away from the Imperial Seat. Be careful, there are many creatures which inhabit the sewers now, vile rats and goblins.

It is too late for me, for I am already dead. Only my powers as a Sorceress keep me between this life and the next. That power, however, is waning. Do not succumb to greed or you may find these tunnels to be your final resting place as well. I can still work my magic to a certain extent. If you travel west from this cell, then south, you will find a Shift Gate. It will transport you far enough from the center of the empire thatyou should be safe.

If you survive these sewers you will see me again. Remember, (Player's name), Tharn has taken on the guise of the Emperor. No one will gainsay his word for yours. I will come to you again in your dreams, so it is imperative that you rest from time to time. In that way I will be able to communicate with you and lend my aid.

You are entering a dangerous arena, my friend, one in which the players are beings beyond your mortal comprehension. I do not envy your role. There is however a power within you as yet untapped. Look for me when you have gained experience in the world (Level up your character once and sleep.).

You are my last and best hope..."
―Ria Silmane[src]
Ria Silmane (Escape From Prison) vision

Imperial Dungeons

Imperial Sewers Walkthrough (Arena)

Map of the prison. The green square is the exit, the red squares are doors. The pink line is the fastest way out.

After Ria's message, the Eternal Champion wakes up in their cell in the Imperial Dungeons. The first thing that they should do is exit through the door and equip the weapon they started with. Then, they should loot the treasure to the left of the cell's entrance.

Messages will appear on the screen in and outside the cell. These messages describe the Champion's current surroundings, and are mostly harmless; though there are exceptions far later into Arena. Exiting the prison cell, a reminder will appear on screen:

"The corridors here seem twisted and confusing, but Ria's instructions were to go west, then south to find the Shift Gate..."

After this, the Champion has two choices:

  1. Escape the dungeons as quickly as possible.
  2. Stay in the dungeons and gain extra loot and experience.
Wall Niche (Arena)

A wall mounted niche, directly in-front of the cell.

The Champion should now make their choice whether they want to escape quickly, or gain loot. Once thing to note, however, is that it is very easy to get lost in the dungeons. All dungeons in Arena are massive, handcrafted mazes with similar looking corridors, textures and colors. While it's recommended to use the provided map, which has been fitted with an easy-to-see guiding line, the Champion will benefit greatly by marking their own map in-game with useful information.

If the Champion choose to escape, the best route to reach the Shift Gate is to follow Ria's advice: go west, then south, repeating those directions from the prison cell.

If the Champion chooses to instead stay and explore, this proves beneficial as the Champion has the opportunity to obtain significant of experience, gold, weapons and armor. Loot can be recognized easily by a pile of gold, an opened or closed chest, or a pile of swords and armors on the floor. When exploring the dungeon, they will also encounter barrels that can be used as landmarks, but which cannot be interacted with and doors and gates that can be opened from either side by interacting with them at the proper spot. The most significant inanimate hazard of the dungeon are the waterways which flow between and under the other corridors. Swimming in the waterways costs fatigue, which is charged immediately on entry and then periodically thereafter. The Champion will not be able to use weapons or spells while swimming, but nearby enemies will be able to swing at the Champion. Enemies positioned at the lip of the corridor will also block the Champion's ability to get out of the water. Absent opponents, moving forward will cause the Champion to climb out of the water, it is not necessary to jump, through a running broad jump can clear small waterway gaps in corridors.

It is recommended that the Champion level up during their time in the dungeons, which other than escaping, is the main goal of the Champion being there, so that Ria will contact the Champion again later.

Escape – Shift Gate

Shift Gate (Arena)

Ria's Shift Gate.

Eventually, the Champion will come across Silmane's Shift Gate at the end of a corridor; a square, portal-like wall that has a blue border around it with a black void in the middle. When approaching the Shift Gate, a message appears on screen:

"Ahead you can see the shimmering field of the Shift Gate..."

And on the floppy disk version of Arena, a window will pop up asking the Champion a question as they approach:

"A voice booms in your head, 'Look upon the pages marked as The Known Spellbook in your manual and answer...'
What is the cost of (Item/Spell)?

Originally for the floppy disk version of Arena, the Champion was supposed to get the answer from the manual that came with the box. However, on all current releases the costs of the certain item or spell are found in the games directory, in the "Docs" folder under the name "Passwords.txt." If they answer the question incorrectly the first time, it will ask the same question except with a different spell or item, and if they fail the second time the game will shut down. If the Champion has the CD release of the game, or the Deluxe/Anthology Edition, this prompt is skipped.

After the Champion has correctly answered the question, or skipped it, they will be teleported into a random city in the province which they selected as their character's homeland during character creation. After this, "Escape From Prison" is officially complete. The Champion can sleep in an inn or where available to get a dream bridge from Ria—if they did not get one from sleeping in the dungeon already—beginning the next quest to find the eight pieces of the Staff of Chaos, "Stonekeep."


This section contains bugs related to Escape From Prison (Arena). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  / XB1  ,  PS3  / PS4  ,  PC  / MAC  ,  NX  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  •  PC   Enemies can become stuck around corners.
  •  PC   Enemies can be stuck on a ledge above a waterway, preventing the Champion from going forward or passing under them.
  •  PC   Some enemies, when stuck behind doors or walls, can be seen through them.
  •  PC   Despite niches being described as a safe place from enemy attack, they can still spawn and will attack the player.
  •  PC   If the Champion sleeps in the corridors after leveling up, Ria will dream bridge with them even though she is supposed to when the Champion escapes. This does not affect the main quest.
  •  PC   Upon taking the Shift Gate's question, the gate will occasionally ask for the cost of " of Magnus." [sic] [Do not change this to Staff of Magnus. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.] The item it is referring to is the Staff of Magnus, but upon entering the cost, the game will act as if the question was failed.
    •  PC   This may also occur with an item named "pog11.img," and possibly multiple other files.
    •  PC(Fix)   Fail the question and answer the second. There is no other fix, other than obtaining a build of the CD-ROM re-release. The question will not repeat.
Arena Main Quest
Escape From PrisonStonekeepFang LairFortress of IceLabyrinthianSelene's WebElden GroveTemple of AgamanusHalls of ColossusTemple of the Mad GodCrystal TowerMines of KhurasCrypt of HeartsVaults of GeminMurkwoodBlack GateDagoth-UrImperial Palace
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