Culture[edit | edit source]
Within Skaal culture, the villagers are provided according to need, as the Skaal have little resources of their own. Because of this, theft is punished by exile or sacrifice to the wolves. Those who are exiled are to never be aided by the Skaal again, even in their most dire need. Contrary, when they are sacrificed it is believed the spirit is purified and reborn. When young men of the Skaal come of age, they are tasked with killing a draugr single-handedly to prove they are fit to be a man of the Skaal. The Skaal follow a couple of strict laws. The aforementioned being one of them; theft. The other being that a member of the Skaal should not attack another member, unless in self defense. The Skaal themselves have strict punishments for members of the Skaal committing these crimes, but if a non-Skaal is guilty, their punishment is always death.
The shaman of the Skaal is tasked with guiding and healing the fellow Skaal, while also keeping the traditions of the Skaal intact. This includes respecting nature and honoring the All-Maker.
Draugr also hold a position within Skaal culture. The Skaal believe that the Draugr were once normal warriors who, after being trapped and becoming hungry on the island, resorted to cannibalism by eating their fallen comrades. The Skaal believe that the All-Maker cursed them with undeath in an ever-lasting search for more flesh to consume.
Another part of Skaal culture involves the Ristaag. The Ristaag is a ceremony in which the land is blessed and cleansed, and is only performed rarely. In order to summon the beasts needed in the Ristaag, the Skaal use the Totem of Claw and Fang. After acquiring the Totem, the members of the Skaal summon beasts and perform the ritual hunt to please the All-Maker by showing him the gratitude of the Skaal for his gifts. The Ristaag takes place around nightfall, and if the Ristaag fails, or does not succeed by daybreak, the All-Maker is displeased with the Skaal. To officially end the Ristaag, the heart of the Spirit Bear must be taken to the Skaal shaman.
In regards to hunting, the Skaal follow a specific mindset. First they ask themselves if they need to kill the animal they are hunting, as the oneness of the land is preserved by only taking what a hunter needs. As such, the Skaal do not hunt for sport, but solely to survive, as they consider each animal of the land to have a right to live as they themselves desire. When the Skaal have obtained what they need, they thank the beast for its gifts, as the less the Skaal disturb the beasts of the land, the more they honor the All-Maker. The Skaal primarily hunt deer, bears, and horker, as these animals provide the most in what the Skaal requires in fur and meat. As of the Fourth Era, the Skaal also hunt the Netch, a creature native to Morrowind. The Netch provides the Skaal with meat, bones, and honor to the hunters who kill it. Wolves are also hunted occasionally, when their numbers form a threat to the Skaal Village. Hunting parties for large game are led by the First Hunter, who is the most skilled hunter of the Skaal. Similarly, when the Skaal collect firewood they try to look for the wood of dead trees, as this harms nature the least. The Skaal are traditionally peaceful, and will only resort to violence as a last resort.
Religion[edit | edit source]
Only one god is present in Skaal religion, the All-Maker, who the Skaal consider the maker of all things. Upon death, the Skaal believe that the soul is returned to the All-Maker, and the All-Maker then sends it back to the world as a new creature. As such, the Skaal believe that death is not the end, but rather, the start of a new journey in life.
The oneness of the land is believed by the Skaal to be what provides them with power. The oneness of Solstheim is the balance of the land, the trees, waters, wolf, and bear. This balance is ensured through the Standing Stones of the island. As such, the Skaal attempt to live in harmony with the land, taking only what they consider necessary. Alongside this, the material known as Stalhrim is considered sacred by the Skaal. For a long time, the Skaal who used this material for crafting were branded as outcasts, as the Skaal did not value its practical use over the holy connection it had been given. In the Fourth Era, however, the smithing of Stalhrim was considered an ancient tradition of the Skaal, and was an art the Skaal held sacred.
Bears have a symbolic meaning within the Skaal. They are considered sacred creatures with which the All-Maker has blessed the Skaal, as they represent the strength of a warrior. Some of the Skaal hold the power and magical knowledge to summon bears to fight by their side.
Wolves also have a symbolic meaning within the Skaal, as they are fast and agile, as well as both careful and clever hunters. Because of this, the Skaal consider them one of the most blessed of the All-Maker's creations. Some Skaal are given the knowledge to summon a wolf by the shaman of the Skaal.
The Skaal hold an ancient prophecy, which for a long time was considered nothing but myth. This prophecy is known as the Bloodmoon Prophecy. During this prophecy, the moon would turn as red as blood, and wolves would walk like men on the land. There are three steps which lead up to the Bloodmoon Prophecy coming true.
The first step is the "Fire From the Eye of Glass," a reference to Lake Fjalding and the large fire which burns atop of it. This is followed up by the "Tide of Woe," in which countless horkers end up dead along the shores of Solstheim without a proper explanation. The final part of the prophecy is the "Bloodmoon", during which one of the Moons of Nirn turns red with the blood of the Hunter's prey, following which the Hunter's Game takes place.
The Hunter's Game varies with each era. Once Hircine and his werewolves hunted on entire tribes of men in Hircine's Hunting Grounds. Those who survived the initial hunt had to face Hircine himself. On another occasion, Hircine had only taken one man to be his prey. According to legend, if the prey manages to survive the passing of the Bloodmoon, Hircine returns to his realm for another era.
Aside from the Bloodmoon Prophecy and werewolves, the Skaal also shun Hircine for the creation of Werebears, which they consider twisted beasts, as normal bears are seen as noble and great creatures, where as Werebears are considered to be Hircine's attempts at defiling the creations of the All-Maker.
Hermaeus Mora, who is also known as Herma-Mora by the Skaal, is the Demon of Knowledge and an enemy of the Skaal. For many generations, the Daedric Prince has tried to obtain the secrets of the Skaal, only to fail on every occasion, excluding the Fourth Era, when the Skaal were forced to give up their secrets in order to allow the Last Dragonborn to learn the Bend Will Shout. The secrets themselves were said to have been given to the Skaal by the All-Maker himself, and was handed down from shaman to shaman, and consisted of knowing how to talk to the wind and how to listen to the earth.
The Adversary[edit | edit source]
The Adversary, also known as the Greedy Man, or Thartaag the World-Devourer, is the Adversary of the Skaal, and implied to be an aspect of Hircine, if not Hircine himself. When the Skaal grow lazy and take the land and the All-Maker's gifts for granted, the Adversary takes shape, as the Adversary is fond of disrupting the Skaal. The Adversary can take on different shapes, from beasts to diseases, to even humanoids. If the Skaal neglect the All-Maker for too long, the Adversary is able to take away the gifts of the All-Maker. As the Greedy Man, the Adversary is able to take away the gifts of the Standing Stones of Solstheim, until one of the Skaal comes to reclaim them.
To cleanse the Water Stone, the Skaal member has to swim westward and follow The Swimmer to Stahlman's Gorge, where the Waters of Life are found. The Skaal member has to retrieve this water and return it to the Water Stone in order to cleanse it. Upon cleansing it, the All-Maker announces the oceans will bear fruit again and thirst will be quenched.
To cleanse the Earth Stone, the member has to find the Cave of Hidden Music, where they have to play tunes which are identical to the ones created within the cave. Following the completion of this, the earth of Solstheim is rich again, and capable of bearing life.
In order to cleanse the Beast Stone, the member is tasked with finding the Good Beast and ease its suffering. The beast will have been attacked by a ranged opponent, and the Skaal member has to remove the arrow and treat its wounds. When the Beast Stone is cleansed, the beasts of the land work with the Skaal again, providing them with meat, fur, and even protection from enemies.
For the cleansing of the Tree Stone, the member has to collect the seeds of the First Tree and replant them after they were stolen. Upon successfully doing so, the plants will return to the land and provide shade and nourishment for the Skaal.
The Sun Stone is cleansed through the liberation of the light trapped in the Halls of Penumbra, where many Grahl reside. The Skaal member has to kill the Lightkeeper Grahl and use its flaming eye to break the wall of ice keeping the light at bay. After doing this, the All-Maker rewards the Skaal with a return of warmth and light.
The final Standing Stone is the Wind Stone. In order to cleanse this Stone, the Greedy Man's bag has to be opened, allowing the stolen Winds to return to the land. Upon cleansing this last stone and defeating the Greedy Man, the All-Maker congratulates the Skaal member, but also informs them that the Skaal should continue to honor nature.
History[edit | edit source]
The Skaal were believed to have settled Solstheim during the Merethic Era. Back then, they still followed the Dragon Cult, and shared the culture of Skyrim's Nords. When the Dragon Priest known as Miraak attempted to usurp the Dragon Cult, he was defeated by Vahlok the Jailor, who would then rule Solstheim at the command of the Dragons. It is believed that the Skaal developed their own distinct culture from the Nords of Skyrim due to their seperation from the mainland.
During the War of the First Council, in which the Nords of Skyrim were pushed out of Morrowind. Many Nords fell in battle, and those who could not be returned to Skyrim were brought to Solstheim to be buried. The Skaal then used magicks on the Nordic tombs, to protect them from grave robbers, and to keep the corpses from turning worse. It is said the Skaal drew the magic from the land itself, and encased the bodies in ice, which would be known as Stalhrim.
In 3E 327, part of the Skaal would abandon the Village to create their own meadhall, known as Thirsk Mead Hall. The people of Thirsk wanted to kill as they pleased, and be free to worship who they desired.
During the late-Third Era, the Skaal disapproved of Fort Frostmoth, the Imperial Fort on the isle. When Captain Falx Carius was captured due to Hircine's Hunt, the Legionnaires at Fort Frostmoth suspected the Skaal knew more, as werewolves were involved in the capture of the Captain. When the Nerevarine arrived at the Skaal Village, Tharsten Heart-Fang, the leader of the Skaal, assured him that the Skaal were not involved.
The Imperials had been cutting down the trees and digging the ebony ore of the island, and because of this the oneness of the land was disturbed, which provides the Skaal with strength. Additionally, the Imperials did not replant trees for the ones they chopped down, killed the wildlife without concern, and for this reason the Skaal considered them shortsighted and foolish.
To restore the balance in the land, the Nerevarine had to visit the six Standing Stones of the land, one for each of the gifts of the All-Maker. Following the successful completion of this first task, the Heart-Fang was convinced the heart of the Nerevarine was with the Skaal, but desired his mind to be with them as well. As such, he tasked the Nerevarine with investigating a crime, as Engar Ice-Mane was accused of stealing the furs of Rigmor Halfhand. It would later turn out that Rigmor himself was responsible, due to a love he had for Risi Ice-Mane, the wife of Engar.
Following this, the Nerevarine had to prove one final thing to the Skaal, and that was his strength. The Nerevarine was to meet the current shaman of the Skaal, Korst Wind-Eye, at Lake Fjalding for this new task. At the lake, the shaman had discovered the lake had been disturbed, as a large fire had broken out atop the lake itself. The Skaal leader suspected a Draugr Lord, known as Aesliip, was responsible for the fire, while the shaman believed it to be a sign of the Bloodmoon Prophecy.
Aesliip would turn out to be related to the event, but not the cause. He was housed under the lake, where, unlike the other draugr who desired flesh, he sought to perform a task. Aesliip had once been a mage of the Skaal, but when he delved into the black arts, he was cast out. Aesliip would discover that a group of Dire Frost Atronachs were planning to destroy the Skaal, and remove life from the island. When the Skaal ignored Aesliip's warnings, the mage used his magics to created a barrier within the ice to keep the Atronachs from breaking free. Aesliip would eventually end up dead, though if the Atronachs were defeated or not is never stated. Following the death of Aesliip, however, the lake still burned, and the Nerevarine was tasked with returning to the Skaal Village.
Not long afterwards, werewolves would attack the village, and in the chaos, Tharsten Heart-Fang was taken away by them. While the Nerevarine aided in fighting off the werewolves, he became infected with an early stage of lycanthrophy, and had to be cured in order to continue working alongside the Skaal. Upon curing the disease, the Nerevarine was known as Blodskaal, a blood friend.
With these bad events happening, it was decided the Ristaag would have to take place to please the All-Maker. For this event, however, the Totem of Claw and Fang was required, an item which had been stolen from the Skaal years prior. Upon successfully returning the Totem, the Nerevarine was rewarded with the ability to summon a wolf. Shortly after, the Nerevarine was tasked with aiding in the Ristaag, a traditional hunt of the Skaal people used only rarely and in times of great need.
Upon the completion of the Ristaag, the Nerevarine would be taken away by werewolves to participate in the Hunter's Game. Here, the Imperial Captain Falx Carius, the Frost Giant Karstaag, and Tharsten Heart-Fang were all encountered. Falx Carius and the Nerevarine collaborated to fight against the first level of werewolves, though Falx would leave the Nerevarine to continue on to the second level, as he would ensure no werewolves would follow. Tharsten would be found on the second level, however, the leader of the Skaal turned out to be the Champion of Hircine for many generations, and had been granted eternal life through Hircine's Ring. The Nerevarine would defeat Karstaag and one of the three aspects of the Hunt, effectively ending the Bloodmoon Prophecy, resulting in the werewolves dwindling in numbers, the fire in Lake Fjalding ceasing to burn, and the return of the Horkers. The Nerevarine was suspected to have been a potentially good replacement for Heart-Fang, however, because they were not Skaal-born they could not lead the village. Because of this, Korst Wind-Eye, the shaman, would guide the Skaal until the All-Maker appointed a new leader.
While the Bloodmoon Prophecy was ongoing, Carnius Magius, the local factor of the East Empire Company, had sent out mercenaries portrayed as the Skaal to attack the settlement of Raven Rock, in order to make the investors pull out of the venture, allowing Carnius to take all the Stalhrim.
During 4E 201, the First Dragonborn known as Miraak was attempting to cross back over to Tamriel. He did this through corrupting the Standing Stones of the land. At this time, Fanari Strong-Voice led the Skaal. Through the corruption of Miraak, most of the Skaal were pulled to working on the Stones to increase the influence of Miraak. Storn Crag-Strider, the shaman of the Skaal, aided the Last Dragonborn by pointing them to Neloth in order to learn more about Black Books, which were related to Miraak.
After learning more about the Black Books and means to stop Miraak, Hermaeus Mora demanded the secrets of the Skaal in return for his knowledge on the Bend Will Shout. Storn accepted to give up the secrets of the Skaal to Hermaeus Mora, but Mora had tricked the shaman, as the Daedric Prince killed him in the process of obtaining the secrets.
At the same time, the smith of the Skaal, known as Baldor Iron-Shaper, had gone missing. Deor Woodcutter, another member of the Skaal, had seen two elves near the village dragging something, but assumed they had just been hunters. These elves would turn out to be members of the Thalmor, who had been sent out to obtain the secrets in smithing Stalhrim, though it is unknown if they succeeded in obtaining Stalhrim weapons and armor.
During the late-Fourth Era, the numbers of the Skaal were dwindling. Because of the harsh existence in such an extreme environment, and the new threat of the ashfall from Vvardenfell taking its toll on the plants and animals upon which the Skaal depend for their daily survival, it is possible that their unique way of life will be lost forever in a few centuries, and what few Skaal remain by then might have no other choice but to reintegrate into Skyrim and rejoin their Nord cousins.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Events of The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon
- Events of The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn
- Dialogue with Tharstan during "Lost Legacy"
- Children of the All-Maker
- Dialogue with Tharsten Heart-Fang during "The Skaal Test of Wisdom"
- Dialogue with Ingmar during "Ingmar in a Bind"
- "Imperial law" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon
- Dialogue with Storn Crag-Strider during "The Fate of the Skaal"
- Dialogue with Korst Wind-Eye during "The Skaal Test of Strength"
- Dialogue with Draugr Lord Aesliip during "The Skaal Test of Strength"
- Dialogue with Korst Wind-Eye during "The Totem of Claw and Fang"
- Dialogue with Korst Wind-Eye during "The Ristaag"
- Dialogue with Rolf Long-Tooth
- Dialogue with Wulf Wild-Blood
- Random Encounters in The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn
- Dialogue with Skaal Hunters
- Dialogue with Tharsten Heart-Fang during "The Disappearance of Captain Carius"
- Dialogue with Storn Crag-Strider during "The Gardener of Men"
- Dialogue with Storn Crag-Strider during "Cleansing the Stones"
- Dialogue with Frea during "At the Summit of Apocrypha"
- Dialogue with Graring during "Discovery in the Mine"
- Dialogue with Deor Woodcutter during "A New Source of Stalhrim"
- Events of "The Totem of Claw and Fang
- Dialogue with Korst Wind-Eye during "Hircine's Hunt"
- Dialogue with Korst Wind-Eye during "Hircine's Hunt"
- Dialogue with Wulf Wild-Blood during "Filial Bonds"
- Events of "The Gardener of Men"
- "Tharsten Heart-Fang" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon
- Aevar Stone-Singer
- Events of "The Skaal Test of Loyalty"
- Events of "The Ritual of Water"
- Events of "The Ritual of Earth"
- Events of "The Ritual of Beasts"
- Events of "The Ritual of Trees"
- Events of "The Ritual of the Sun"
- Events of "The Ritual of the Winds"
- The Guardian and the Traitor
- Thirsk, a History
- Thirsk, a Revised History
- Dialogue with Gaea Artoria during "The Disappearance of Captain Carius"
- Dialogue with Saenus Lusius during "The Disappearance of Captain Carius"
- Dialogue with Korst Wind-Eye during "The Skaal Test of Loyalty"
- Dialogue with Rigmor Halfhand during "The Skaal Test of Wisdom"
- Dialogue with Tharsten Heart-Fang during "The Skaal Test of Strength"
- Events of "Siege of the Skaal Village"
- Dialogue with Korst Wind-Eye during "Siege of the Skaal Village"
- Events of "Hircine's Hunt"
- Dialogue with Captain Falx Carius during "Hircine's Hunt"
- Dialogue with Tharsten Heart-Fang during "Hircine's Hunt"
- Events of "Under Siege"
- Dialogue with Carnius Magius during "Drastic Measures"
- Dialogue with Carnius Magius during "Discovery in the Mine"
- Events of The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn
- Dialogue with Fanari Strong-Voice
- Dialogue with Frea during "The Temple of Miraak"
- Dialogue with Hermaeus Mora during "The Gardener of Men"
- Combat dialogue of Thalmor Soldiers during "A New Source of Stalhrim"
- Dialogue with Ancarion during "A New Source of Stalhrim"
- Dialogue with Baldor Iron-Shaper during "A New Source of Stalhrim"