in skyrim will you support the empire or the nord rebels
FRRREEEEDDDDOOOMMM!!!!(rebels)
30.5% (123)
30.5% (123)
FOR THE EMPIRE!
36.7% (148)
36.7% (148)
I'm looking out for No.1
19.9% (80)
19.9% (80)
Umm... How come I always have to make the tough calls?
11.9% (48)
11.9% (48)
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Poll: Skyrim; Empire or. Rebels?

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trouble_gum:

lunncal:

Why should the people of Skyrim give their lives to save an Empire that refused to do the same for them?

Where do you think the Aldmer will be coming next? Skyrim splintering from the Empire only serves to weaken the Empire as a whole and Skyrim versus the Aldmer + their client states = :ohdear: for Skyrim. While part of me, playing as a Nord wants to fight against the Imperial oppressors...there isn't really any evidence of Imperial oppression going on out there, beyond Colonel Tigh's snarky attitude. The political realist in me sees the Aldmer as the real enemy, fostering hatred and division among the Empire for their own gains. And thus, whenever I come across a trio of Thalmor justiciars I brutally murder them. Plus they were really, really rude to me the first time I talked to them and then tried to kill me.

Death to the pointies!

They can try to conquer Skyrim, but they would fail. As part of the White-gold Concordat the Empire actually gave large amounts of Hammerfell lands to the Dominion, and what did the Redguards of Hammerfell do? They told the Empire where they could stick their treaty, and took it all back. They beat the Ald'meri out of their home country against the wishes of The Empire (who then renounced Hammerfell as a province), and they did so very successfully. I see no reason why Skyrim couldn't do the same.

It's not Skyrim that needs the Empire to protect it, it's the Empire that needs Skyrim to protect it, but why should they? Why should the people of Skyrim lay down their lives for the Empire when the Empire didn't do the same for Skyrim, or any of its client-states?

The Empire. Sure it's falling apart, but that bunch of xenophobic man-children called the Stormcloaks really aren't a valid alternative.

Everything bad the Empire supposedly did (suppressing Talos, mostly) was done under extreme pressure from the Thalmor. Glory or death really isn't the way to rule an empire, but the Stormcloaks don't seem to understand that. Do they seriously think they can beat the Thalmor while the Altmeri Dominion brought the entire Empire to its knees?
And the Forsworn business proved that the Stormcloaks are capable of just the same atrocities as the Thalmor. As far as I'm concerned, the Empire did nothing wrong, seeing the situation it's in.

TestECull:
I'm going to have to go with the dark side on this one.

What dark side? Both sides are as morally questionable as the other, an ultimately fight for what they personally view to be the greater good. It's a difference of ideals, although that said, you can be forgiven for assuming the Empire are supposed to be the bad guys, seeing as the game is pretty heavily biased towards the Stormcloaks towards the beginning.

I'm really putting off choosing a side. I'm been on both sides of skyrim, from markarth and solitude to windhelm and dawnstar, and i've seen people on both sides that don't deserve to get f--ked over by the war. Whiterun, for example, becomes besieged during that questline. people die, jobs are lost, and the place just wouldn't be the same. which sucks becuase i love whitrun; it's my home. i would want to defend it, but i don't want to see my 'neighbors' tear each other apart supporting different factions. i geuss that's the moral of that questline? civil war, or war in general, tears communities apart? i dunno.

Freedom. Skyrim should be run by Nords, and Nords alone, no annoying, ugly, elf should be anywhere to be seen

Empire. Romans are sweet.

I'd be for the Rebels if they weren't xenophobic douchebags.

Empire. Biggest deciding factor for me was Ulfric's use of the Thu'um to pop the (former) high king... from what I've seen/heard in-game, Ulfric challenged said high king to a little duel, he accepted, then a single Shout ends it... messily.

Greybeards say the Voice is to only be used to praise the gods with only Dragonborns being exempt from that. Was Ulfric a dragonborn? Don't think so.

On a more personal level, had my Khajiit thrown her lot in with the Stormcloaks, she'd basically be fighting for people that would ultimately shun her and any others that aren't Nord and that share their same ideals.

I guess what it boils down to for me is you're either fighting for the Nord's freedom with the Stormcloaks, or fighting for the freedom of the other nine races to live and work in Skyrim without being ostracized and ridiculed.

In a way, the Stormcloaks are a lot like the Forsworn; natives fighting for their homeland. Which is a noble and just sentiment, don't get me wrong, but the Forsworn are just... wrong as a whole. Nords aren't quite as bad, but their motivations just seem culturally selfish. /:|

Stew Coard:
all star wars comparisons aside, when you start playing Skyrim will you support the Nords fighting for independence or will you fight to preserve the empire? I'm not sure if they let the player join the rebels or the empire, but I imagine that you will makes some decisions that will affect the fate of the empire. Whatever happens, the Empire's fall or renewal will definitely be a an important issue in the game.

*sighs* Again, Search Bar. Use it. There's already another poll on the very same subject.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.323634-Poll-Empire-or-Stormcloak?page=1

I'm currently with the College of Winterhold. The dragons and the political tensions in Skyrim can wait, I'm levelling up my Destruction magic.

I picked the Stormcloaks for one big reason; the Empire is allowing the Blades to be killed off. You know that group of people that is responsible for saving this world how many times? And now you want me to support the group that is behind killing them off? No thank you.

Evil Top Hat:

TestECull:
I'm going to have to go with the dark side on this one.

What dark side? Both sides are as morally questionable as the other, an ultimately fight for what they personally view to be the greater good. It's a difference of ideals, although that said, you can be forgiven for assuming the Empire are supposed to be the bad guys, seeing as the game is pretty heavily biased towards the Stormcloaks towards the beginning.

Dark side has cookies. Also, I haven't actually played the game.

Empire. I was going to side with the rebels but they're massive racists.

trooper6:
Well...I don't play as myself, I play as a character...so it would depend on who my character is. One character might support the empire, while a different one might support the rebels. I really can't say yet.

This.

I've played through the game on three characters now. My Dark Brotherhood assassin didn't care, my snarky Breton sided with the Empire just enough to secure his home city, and my Imperial sided with the Empire to the end. My next character will be a Nord who fights for his homeland William Wallace style!

Empire. Because they're an amalgam of the Romans and the British. And I see Stormcloak as George Washington.

Screw you! I will crush you rebel scum as soon as I'm done killing every giant in the world!

lunncal:

They can try to conquer Skyrim, but they would fail. As part of the White-gold Concordat the Empire actually gave large amounts of Hammerfell lands to the Dominion, and what did the Redguards of Hammerfell do? They told the Empire where they could stick their treaty, and took it all back. They beat the Ald'meri out of their home country against the wishes of The Empire (who then renounced Hammerfell as a province), and they did so very successfully. I see no reason why Skyrim couldn't do the same.

It's not Skyrim that needs the Empire to protect it, it's the Empire that needs Skyrim to protect it, but why should they? Why should the people of Skyrim lay down their lives for the Empire when the Empire didn't do the same for Skyrim, or any of its client-states?

In-game lore covering the events of the Great War indicates that at least part of the Redguard success lay in the state of Aldmeri military forces at the time - the Redguard were fighting the remnants of the Aldmer Dominion's invasion force which had been defeated at the Battle of Red Ring. To say they did so "very successfully" is somewhat contradicted by the in-lore source which indicates most of southern Hammerfell was "devastated."

And, in this, the Thalmor further drove apart the Empire and Hammerfell. If Skyrim also secedes from the Empire, you then have three seperate states where before you had a unified Empire. That unified Empire was able to fight the Aldmer Dominion to a standstill, albeit at great cost and without a truly resounding victory that would've meant a better outcome of the White-Gold Concordat. It can be inferred from in-game lore that this divided humanity is precisely what the Thalmor want; because it's easier to invade Hammerfell on its own that it proved to be to invade the Empire.

It's classic Divide and Conquer - The Empire turned out not be the easy victory the Thalmor seemed to expect. Solution: drive its constituent parts away from the whole and gobble them up piecemeal. Even easier if Skyrim has spent several years engaged in bloody civil war; weakening it and the Empire into the bargain. You can't simply assert that Skyrim can protect itself, and trying to argue that the continued well-being of the whole (i.e, the Empire) is of no protection to the parts lacks credence. The combined forces of the Imperial military, from Cyrodiil, High Rock, Hammerfell and Skyrim barely stopped the Thalmor invasion. Individually, they surely stand far less chance against a full-scale invasion force.

The assertion that the Empire didn't sacrifice lives is somewhat absurd: "Not a single legion had more than half its soldiers fit for duty. Two legions had been effectively annihilated, not counting the loss of the Eighth during the retreat from the Imperial City." Cyrodiil and the Imperial City were ravaged; the Imperial Palace sacked and burned. The Imperial Legions have been decimated. Skyrim takes place only 25 years after the end of the Great War - the Empire is probably just about back on its feet; no wonder the Thalmor are so keen on stirring up trouble between the Empire and Skyrim, hunting for people illegally worshiping Talos and generally poking their noses in everywhere.

I fight for the empire because they actually support strong leadership, maturity, and order. the rebels are a bunch of racist pricks who want to kick out everybody from Skyrim. But I still take every chance I get to kill every Thalmor I see. the Stormcloak Rebellion is analogous to an uprising by the american Indians trying to kick out every single last person without American Indian blood in all of north America because they were there fist

I'm playing as an argonian so I don't really have an aliegence either way.
Empire:
+Black Marsh is apart of the Empire
-Those dick elves enslaved my race

Rebels:
+Black March could be inspired to succeed
-Why? I have no real invested interest.

IamLEAM1983:
[quote="Stew Coard" post="9.311078.12581263"]all star wars comparisons aside, when you start playing Skyrim will you support the Nords fighting for independence or will you fight to preserve the empire? I'm not sure if they let the player join the rebels or the empire, but I imagine that you will makes some decisions that will affect the fate of the empire. Whatever happens, the Empire's fall or renewal will definitely be a an important issue in the game.

*sighs* Again, Search Bar. Use it. There's already another poll on the very same subject.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.323634-Poll-Empire-or-Stormcloak?page=1

Let the record show this thread was created earlier than the one mentioned above

Nalfen:
I picked the Stormcloaks for one big reason; the Empire is allowing the Blades to be killed off. You know that group of people that is responsible for saving this world how many times? And now you want me to support the group that is behind killing them off? No thank you.

That's only kind of true. It's the Thulmer (the elven equivalent to the Stormcloaks) who's systematically hunting down the Blades. It was also the Thulmer who started the civil war that got the Empire into this whole mess. The Thulmer and the Blades fought a lot during the war and the Blades took heavy loses (if I remember properly). At the end of the war the EMpire was forced to sign a treaty with the Thulmer. Part of the treaty involved the eventually banning of Talos and the disbanning of the Blades.

Shaughn Caso:
the Stormcloak Rebellion is analogous to an uprising by the american Indians trying to kick out every single last person without American Indian blood in all of north America because they were there fist

This might just be me generalizing people, but I saw more connections between the stormcloaks and the American South, especailly the Confederacy.

I didn't play the game yet, but after reading a few spoilers and some lore, I've come to a conclusion:

Both factions are dicks. The Stormcloaks are racists of an unacceptable level, while the Empire is bending over and taking it from the Aldmer like a bitch. Abandoning Hammerfell, banning Talos worship, killing off the Blades are all SERIOUS dealbreakers.

While the empire is basically worthless at this point, Skyrim seceding would probably not be a good thing, especially with the Stormcloaks as leaders. The Aldmer will just steamroll through everything since the Nords will be too busy discriminating against everyone. The empire should stop being a bitch and resist the Aldmer demands, then Skyrim will have less of a reason to secede.

Why is everyone saying that the stormcloaks are racist? Ive played trough most of the game helping them and there where only two instances of so called "racism". And one was two dumb drunks harrasing a dark elf. And they weren't even real stormcloaks they just happened to live in a stormcloak controlled city.

Ulfric Stormcloak can talk all he wants about "freedom", but what he and the Stormcloaks are really after is ethnically cleansing Skyrim for the Nords. And Ulfric disguises his aspirations for power (as king of the Nords) behind rhetoric about freedom. The Empire, for all of its faults, its tolerant of all races. The Empire's faults really revolve around greed more than anything else.

Empire. All of Skyrim is a ruined dump as it is(most cities and castles are falling apart), the elves are bastards as ever and the stormcloaks are a bunch of xenophopic nazi dickholes. So my Argonian ass is siding with the empire. I also like their city(solitude) more than I do windhelm.

Well, let's examine this by the numbers:

Number of Imperial soldiers and officials that genuinely care about helping their people, their country, and you: 1 person inside of Helgen, and 90% of the people outside of Helgen.

Number of Stormcloak (rebel) soldiers that genuinely care about helping their people, their country, and you: Ralof.

I have to go with the Imperials. I've never been much for Imperialism (that is, ACTUAL Imperialism; it's not like it was something made up by Bethesda -.-), but I support it in this instance. The rebels also have very selfish, insular, and slightly racist motivations in what they do, which is a turn-off.

trouble_gum:
In-game lore covering the events of the Great War indicates that at least part of the Redguard success lay in the state of Aldmeri military forces at the time - the Redguard were fighting the remnants of the Aldmer Dominion's invasion force which had been defeated at the Battle of Red Ring. To say they did so "very successfully" is somewhat contradicted by the in-lore source which indicates most of southern Hammerfell was "devastated."

They single-handedly drove out the Dominion in 5 years, despite the Empire literally giving the land away to the Thalmor. If that isn't "successful" then nothing is.

And, in this, the Thalmor further drove apart the Empire and Hammerfell. If Skyrim also secedes from the Empire, you then have three seperate states where before you had a unified Empire. That unified Empire was able to fight the Aldmer Dominion to a standstill, albeit at great cost and without a truly resounding victory that would've meant a better outcome of the White-Gold Concordat. It can be inferred from in-game lore that this divided humanity is precisely what the Thalmor want; because it's easier to invade Hammerfell on its own that it proved to be to invade the Empire.

The Thalmor wanted the war in the first place, that's true, as it weakened both the Empire and Skyrim. They don't want Ulfric to win however, and this doesn't need to be "inferred from in-game lore", they literally say it themselves. "A Stormcloak victory is also to be avoided, however, so even indirect aid to the Stormcloaks must be carefully managed.".

They wanted the war to happen, and now they want it to continue. Helping the Stormcloaks to win is of no benefit to them at all.

It's classic Divide and Conquer - The Empire turned out not be the easy victory the Thalmor seemed to expect. Solution: drive its constituent parts away from the whole and gobble them up piecemeal. Even easier if Skyrim has spent several years engaged in bloody civil war; weakening it and the Empire into the bargain. You can't simply assert that Skyrim can protect itself, and trying to argue that the continued well-being of the whole (i.e, the Empire) is of no protection to the parts lacks credence. The combined forces of the Imperial military, from Cyrodiil, High Rock, Hammerfell and Skyrim barely stopped the Thalmor invasion. Individually, they surely stand far less chance against a full-scale invasion force.

Agreed, and it's already been highly successful. They no longer have Hammerfell, Elsweyr, or Black Marsh, not to mention the Summerset Isles, Morrowind, and Valenwood which were all previously parts of the Empire too. What's left simply cannot hold off the Ald'meri Dominion. Perhaps if they had continued to fight back when they had Hammerfell and Skyrim strongly at their side they maybe could have done it, but no, they surrendered, causing them to lose even more of their allies.

Now what do they have left? There's Cyrodiil, Skyrim and High Rock. That's it, and they don't even really control Skyrim any more. I don't know much about High Rock, and whether or not they still fully support the Empire or even if they have a strong enough military presence to make a real difference, so I can't really comment on them. Really this is just about the people of Cyrodiil wanting the people of Skyrim to protect them from the Ald'meri, which brings my to my next point. Why should they?

The assertion that the Empire didn't sacrifice lives is somewhat absurd: "Not a single legion had more than half its soldiers fit for duty. Two legions had been effectively annihilated, not counting the loss of the Eighth during the retreat from the Imperial City." Cyrodiil and the Imperial City were ravaged; the Imperial Palace sacked and burned. The Imperial Legions have been decimated. Skyrim takes place only 25 years after the end of the Great War - the Empire is probably just about back on its feet; no wonder the Thalmor are so keen on stirring up trouble between the Empire and Skyrim, hunting for people illegally worshiping Talos and generally poking their noses in everywhere.

I never said they didn't sacrifice any lives, I said they didn't sacrifice lives for Skyrim, or for any of the other Imperial provinces in fact. When the Imperial city was conquered they could have kept fighting, for the good of the Empire as a whole. The people of Hammerfell and Skyrim would have gladly continued fighting for the Empire, but the Empire apparently cares only about Cyrodiil, because they surrendered and even gave away Hammerfell lands to do it. They bought back their lands at the cost of their god and the lands of their provinces. It's clear where their priorities are.

If the Imperials consider their lands and their people to be of greater importance than the Empire as a whole then why the hell should its (few remaining) provinces act any differently? When the time came the Imperials did not give their lives to protect Skyrim or Hammerfell, and yet they still expect the people of Skyrim to give their lives to protect Cyrodiil?

Skyrim owes no loyalties to an Empire that has already turned its back on them, banned the worship of their gods, and let a foreign inquisition torture and kill Skyrim citizens in return for some temporary protection of their own lands. How anyone still supports them is beyond me.

lunncal:

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
Empire. I never really read any of the Elder Scrolls books but so far in the games I havent found the most remote piece of evidence that the empire is evil.

Isn't the fact that they are an empire evil enough?

Tiber Septim (the guy who founded the third empire) just went around conquering every country in Tamriel (the continent the games are set in) with his unstoppable brass golem thing (Numidi... something). Those countries didn't willingly join the empire, and many of them wanted nothing to do with it. How would you feel if some other country decided yours had to obey their laws and pay your taxes to support their country?

well, historically speaking empires tend to promote unity, trade, prosperity, cultural diffusion, law and order, and the best organized front against invasion. Empires keep peace much better even if they use not so peaceful methods and unscrupulous policies to do so.

Frankly, not sure... I like the Empire and I think it's something very much worth preserving. The rebellion is stupid and desperate, but on the other hand, I very much support what they're fighting for. Thing is, even if the rebels win, they'll have the Aldmeri Dominion to contend with and not even the Empire as a whole is strong enough to keep them at bay atm.

If I had the option to influence how the Empire handles the White-Gold Concordat, it'd be a different thing. I'd throw it away and fight a war against the assholes. But as it is... it seems like nothing short of martyrdom with no real chance at victory.

You can't just really flat out say that *all* Stormcloacks are racist. They're not. Sure, Ulfric is a little racist, probably a nice chunk of them is racist, but still.

It's not really only the Stormcloacks that are exclusively racist towards Elves. You see, Nord resentfullness towards Elves has its roots way back when Saarthal, built by the first Nordic inhabitants, was attacked and burned by an Elven force in an event called 'The Night of Tears'. That's the whole reason Ysgramor formed the five hundred companions and drove elves out of Skyrim in the first place.

So yeah, you could say the war against the Aldmeri Dominion just opened up an old scar for the Nords in general. Sure, that still doesn't really justify the racism, but the racism is a far better alternative then signing White-Gold Concordat. I mean even though the pyrrhic victory that the Empire achieved ofer the Aldmeri Dominion was, well, pyrrhic, but it still was a victory. Signing the Concordat was especially a bad idea because White-Gold Concordat's terms were almost identical to those of the original ultimatum presented by the Thalmor prior to the war.

You must admit, even though Hammerfell was devastated after the war it still was better off becoming independent. Skyrim and Hammerfell could even form a military alliance, given the similar circumstances(If stormcloacks succeed, of course.) and the threat posed by the Aldmeri Dominion.

I hope i didn't make *that* many grammatical mistakes.

I'm siding with the empire. My ancestor was the Hero Of Kvatch, and in his honor I will save the empire he saved as well.

Brawndo:
Ulfric Stormcloak can talk all he wants about "freedom", but what he and the Stormcloaks are really after is ethnically cleansing Skyrim for the Nords. And Ulfric disguises his aspirations for power (as king of the Nords) behind rhetoric about freedom. The Empire, for all of its faults, its tolerant of all races. The Empire's faults really revolve around greed more than anything else.

and the Empire following the elves and letting normal citizens being carry off in the dark to be torture and killed by Dominion. The Empire is SO much better then Stormcloaks. Let see...

-Giving up Hammerfell to the Dominion.
-Disbanding the blades and letting them get hunted down by Dominion.
-Closing the mages guide cause the elves wanted it so.

So just being a good pet for the elves to use. Saying how they are going to rule over humans like they did before and show them who the best. Also where did Ulfric say he was going to kick all non-nords out? I NEVER heard him say that while doing his mission. I was a Argonian and he accepted me as a friend and even said in his speech it was my help that won the war.

So, no. He not going to kick all non-nords out of skyrim. Hell if he wanted to do that why not start with his own city and kick out all the Refugees? I mean really, if the guy SUCH a asshole and racist pricks. Why does he let them even have a home? Sure they are the slums, but also mind these are Refugees. Where in histroy has any refugee gotten a nice home in a new country?

Outcast107:
I NEVER heard him say that while doing his mission. I was a Argonian and he accepted me as a friend and even said in his speech it was my help that won the war.

Goddamn it, spoi-yeah, maybe it is just because we are Argonians. The Stormcloaks would logically be racist against elves.

triggrhappy94:
I'm playing as an argonian so I don't really have an aliegence either way.
Empire:
+Black Marsh is apart of the Empire
-Those dick elves enslaved my race

Rebels:
+Black March could be inspired to succeed
-Why? I have no real invested interest.

The Black Marsh DID secede, not long after Oblivion. They invaded whats left of Morrowind.

TheDarkEricDraven:

Outcast107:
I NEVER heard him say that while doing his mission. I was a Argonian and he accepted me as a friend and even said in his speech it was my help that won the war.

Goddamn it, spoi-yeah, maybe it is just because we are Argonians. The Stormcloaks would logically be racist against elves.

Eh sorry. Though don't see much of a spoiler. Should know you're gonna win either way. Plus I think they just don't like outsiders. Due to hitstory and how it seem all outsiders ever done is cause trouble.

FOR THE EMPIRE! Death to those racist rebels!

lunncal:

They single-handedly drove out the Dominion in 5 years, despite the Empire literally giving the land away to the Thalmor. If that isn't "successful" then nothing is.

That the Thalmor were driven out is not what I take issue with. Yes, they successfully drove out what was left of the Aldmer army that originally invaded Hammerfell at outset of the Great War, at a time immediately after the defeat of the wider Aldmeri Dominion invasion. Whatever Aldmeri forces where occupying Southern Hammerfell had already been fought to a standstill and greatly weakened. But; their success in those circumstances does not translate to guaranteed success were the Nords in Skyrim to attempt the same.

The Thalmor wanted the war in the first place, that's true, as it weakened both the Empire and Skyrim. They don't want Ulfric to win however, and this doesn't need to be "inferred from in-game lore", they literally say it themselves. "A Stormcloak victory is also to be avoided, however, so even indirect aid to the Stormcloaks must be carefully managed.".

They wanted the war to happen, and now they want it to continue. Helping the Stormcloaks to win is of no benefit to them at all.

I was actually more inferring that the Thalmor deliberately allowed Hammerfell's independent resistance to succeed in order to further their goal of dividing the Empire.

I never said they didn't sacrifice any lives, I said they didn't sacrifice lives for Skyrim, or for any of the other Imperial provinces in fact. When the Imperial city was conquered they could have kept fighting, for the good of the Empire as a whole. The people of Hammerfell and Skyrim would have gladly continued fighting for the Empire, but the Empire apparently cares only about Cyrodiil, because they surrendered and even gave away Hammerfell lands to do it. They bought back their lands at the cost of their god and the lands of their provinces. It's clear where their priorities are.

Really this is just about the people of Cyrodiil wanting the people of Skyrim to protect them from the Ald'meri, which brings my to my next point. Why should they?

The problem here is:
a) the Empire did sacrifice lives for Skyrim and the other provinces. Imperial Legions fought the Aldmer invaders in Hammerfell and forced them to a halt. Imperial Legion soldiers "formed the core of the army that...drove [the Aldmer] back across the Alik'r." Essentially, every Imperial Legion soldier, whether they're Imperial-born, Nord, Bosmer, Breton or Redguard who died during the Great War was a life sacrificed for the Empire as a whole. Just because they happened to die in Cyrodiil doesn't invalidate that sacrifice.

b) The Empire did continue fighting after the fall of Imperial City. Titus II decided to abandon the city rather than defend it at all costs. The Empire continues fighting after the sacking of White Gold Tower for another year. The Eighth Legion sacrifices itself to allow the Imperial army to break through Thalmor lines and regroup with forces from Skyrim and Hammerfell - you can choose to interpret this as abandoning Hammerfell for Cyrodiil but the Thalmor forced that choice by focusing their invasion on Cyrodiil; hoping that capturing the Imperial City would give them a "decapitation" of the Empire. Essentially, the Empire sacrifices Cyrodiil and the Imperial capital to save the Empire as a whole. The Thalmor are concentrated there and Imperial forces gain a breathing space to regroup and reverse the situation while the Thalmor are busy victimizing the local populace.

c) It's clearly stated that the Empire tacitly allows Skyrim to continue Talos worship. Is it actually stated anywhere that the Empire is complicit in the Thalmor's questionable activities?

d) It's a very broad strokes point of view to say that the Empire buys back "their lands" at the cost of the provinces. Given the damage already wrought to the Empire as a whole, and that the portion of Hammerfell bartered away is occupied at the time, its not an unreasonable or particularly selfish political decision to take peace at that price, given the pyrrhic nature of the Empire's victory. It's easy to take the Hammerfell Resistances success after the fact and extrapolate from it that a counter-campaign across the wider Empire would've succeeded. Less easy to be a new Emperor of a weakened Empire who's just presided over the fall of his capital and the devastation of at least one province. Clearly the Redguards of Hammerfell were eager to fight on, but there's less clear indication that the Nords were so keen - Skyrim wasn't under direct threat at the time and its only 20 years later that Skyrim begins agitating under the current situation.

If the Imperials consider their lands and their people to be of greater importance than the Empire as a whole then why the hell should its (few remaining) provinces act any differently?

I don't really think that you can infer that the Imperials consider Cyrodiil to be of greater importance than the Empire as a whole, based solely on the terms of the White-Gold Concordat. Arguably, if they had done so, they'd have simply rolled over in the first place, or tried to hold Imperial City at any and all costs, a move that would probably have resulted in the Empire's total defeat.

Why should anyone support the Empire? Because the Thalmor are a worse and greater threat and the Empire represents a unifying force that could stand against it. Better to stand together under the Imperial banner than to be divided up and destroyed individually.

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