My first meeting with Elder Scrolls’ “mad god” Sheogorath occurred in The Elder Scrolls Online. Upon innocently agreeing to retrieve a handful of magical books for the Mages Guild and discovering that there was more to said book than met the eye, my travels eventually landed me in Sheogorath’s lair on the Shivering Isles. Little did I know what trickery lay in wait, as Sheogorath’s madness was made plain. Only…he wasn’t necessarily “mad” in a negative sense. True that he did turn me into a chicken at one point, and he clearly enjoyed making good/bad puns, or seven, but it was only a matter of time before I found myself enthralled by the weirdness of Sheogorath’s prank-ridden world. While fetching books was all well and good, what was clearly more interesting was the history this Mages Guild questline revealed as to not only Sheogorath but also the guild’s arch-mage, Shalidor.
Being pretty new to Elder Scrolls lore (previous to ESO, I had only played Skyrim, and I never met Sheogorath there), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Sheogorath was more than just a familiar face. Termed the “Daedric Prince of Madness,” Sheogorath rules the Shivering Isles in the plane of Oblivion. Mention of him in lore goes back to a quick cameo in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. His roles in later games expanded, but generally, it seems that the melodramatic and zany incarnation of him I encountered is unique to ESO. Which was fine by me. Because after dealing with all the drama of re-finding my character’s soul, dealing with this trippy, mad being was refreshing!
Most endearing was Sheogorath’s way with words, and how he rarely minced his thoughts on just about anything. At one point during his ESO questline, he invited me to participate in the “Circus of Cheerful Slaughter,” a dramatization of his own play, “The Folly of Isolation” about the war between the three alliances (Aldmeri Dominion, Ebonheart Pact, and Daggerfall Covenant), and the choice of the Mages Guild to remain neutral. Honestly, the “play” was fascinating, and I nearly missed my participation “queues” as I was lost in Sheogorath’s blunt narration of the guild’s foolishness.
Of course, pranks lay heavy in Sheogorath’s wheelhouse, and my time with him was full of them. I already mentioned the chicken episode. And then there was the time he tricked me into removing unwanted guests from his estate – the so-called Chateau of the Ravenous Rodent – all the time with Shalidor appearing to “spoil” the fun, and I never even learned how the estate got its terrible name! And don’t even get me started when, upon finally getting all the stupid books for Shalidor and/or Sheogorath (honestly, my head was spinning at all the back and forth), Sheogorath “rewarded” me with a huge battle of deadra spawn. Ah, good times.
In my particular questline, Sheogorath ends up defeated, despite all his trickery, but I understand that I can find him elsewhere in Tamriel as…a cat. Oh, that ought to be something else.