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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 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.


Betrayal Introductory Slide (Arena)

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

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...

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.]
—Arena's introduction


  1. Listen to Ria Silmane.
  2. Explore and loot the sewers, and level up in the process.
  3. Find the Shift Gate, and escape.
  4. Sleep to contact Silmane.


Dream Bridge

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:

Ria Silmane (Arena)

Silmane appearing before the 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 – Sewer Network

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.

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

The Champion now has two choices:

  1. Escape the dungeons as quickly as possible.
  2. Stay in the dungeons.
Wall Niche (Arena)

A wall niche, ahead of the cell.

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

Shift Gate (Arena)

Ria's 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:

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

Floppy Disk Copy Protection

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)?

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:

  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   Niches, despite directly claimed as safe resting zones, may spawn enemies which attack the player.
  •  PC   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.
  •  PC   During copy protection, the Shift Gate will occasionally demand impossible terms: for example, " of Magnus." [sic] [Do not change this to Staff of Magnus. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.] Any answer fails the question.
    •  PC   This also occurs, specifically, with "pog11.img," and multiple other files.
    •  PC(Fix)   Fail the demand, and answer the second. The question will not repeat.
    •  PC(Fix)   Obtain a CD release build of Arena.


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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