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Skyrim DLC Redguard predictions: Dragonstar, Hammerfell and the Isle of Stros M'kai

Ed ponders the possibilities for Bethesda's next expansion

If all the fuss about Conjuration in Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC pack left you cold, it may please you to hear that the next expansion could take place in Hammerfell, presently the home of the proud, warlike Redguards. Though reportedly skilled in the use of Destruction magic, the latter aren't big fans of wizards in general - they regard any combat art that doesn't deal out punishment directly as dangerously effete.

Consider the testimony of Trayvond, a member of the Cheydinhal Mages Guild you may remember from The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. According to this august personage, the Redguard "don't much like spellcasters, because wizards steal souls and tamper with minds. If you use magic, you're weak or wicked." Sounds like me and my level 30 Elf necromancer will have trouble settling in, then. Ah well, I can always spend my holidays in Markarth.

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As I wrote earlier this week, conjecture about Redguard stems from a repeatedly renewed Zenimax trademark, which covers the term in regards to "downloadable computer game software offered via the internet and wireless devices". Detractors object that this is probably just legal land-grabbing, to prevent other companies making use of an Elder Scrolls hallmark to boost their own fictions. I'm not sure that line of reasoning holds up, myself - after all, Bethesda has yet to trademark any other Elder Scrolls races, factions, placenames and the like besides "Dragonborn", "Hearthfire" and "Dawnguard", all of which have subsequently materialised as Skyrim expansions. The publisher's Peter Hines has refused to comment on our report, but refrained from outright denying it.

There's also the conspicuous absence of the border city of Dragonstar from Skyrim as it stands. According to the Elder Scrolls wiki, the city is (or at least, was) a hotbed of political contention, chopped up Berlin-Wall-style between the Nords and Redguards in the aftermath of a long-ceased war. Visit the site today (you'll need access to a PC version and mod tools) and you'll find only an oddly featureless, geometry-less stretch of land dotted with pine trees. Going on technological insight that I absolutely don't have, this would seem a good foundation for an add-on: the less extant landscape there is to wrangle with, surely, the easier new assets are to install.

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An expansion set partly or entirely within Dragonstar would be an interesting experience, thanks to the aforesaid rocky local politics, but after playing Dragonborn, I suspect the bulk of the pack may once again take place off-shore. Bethesda's decision to revisit the isle of Solstheim in the most recent expansion was a stroke of genius - as I put it on our review, the pack "distils what Skyrim does best" into a smaller space without resorting to arbitrary curbs on exploration. The move has also, of course, allowed the developers to resurrect ideas and plot threads from The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind and its Bloodmoon add-on. This may be more than a nod to older Bethesdafans - Skyrim's expansions could serve as a means of publicising the game's wider universe prior to the launch of the continent-spanning Elder Scrolls Online.

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