The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
Daggerfall Cover art.gif
Developer(s) Bethesda Softworks
Publisher(s) Bethesda Softworks
Series The Elder Scrolls
Engine XnGine
Version 2.13[1]
Platform(s) MS-DOS
Release date(s)
  • NA August 31, 1996
Genre(s) First person Role-playing video game, sandbox
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: M
Media/distribution CD-ROM
System requirements


  • 90 MHz Pentium
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 200 MB disk space

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall is a first-person, traditional role-playing video game for MS-DOS developed by Bethesda Softworks and released in 1996. It is a sequel to the RPG The Elder Scrolls: Arena and the second installment in The Elder Scrolls series. On July 9, 2009, it was made available as a free download on the Elder Scrolls website; it is the first game in the series to be rated M.



In Daggerfall, as in all The Elder Scrolls games, players are not required to follow questlines or fill specific character archetypes.

Daggerfall features a spell-creation system where, through the Mages Guild, players can create custom spells with several different effects. The game will then automatically generate the mana cost of the spell based on the power of the effects chosen.

Other features include an equipment enchantment system (similar in concept to the spell creation system); the ability to buy houses and ships; a variety of clothing and equipment; dynamic political relationships between kingdoms; the ability to become a vampire, werewolf, or wereboar; and the combat system, which uses mouse movement to determine the direction and effect of weapon swings in melee combat.

The political system is supported by a net of guilds, orders, and religions, all with unique tasks and quests. Joining and contributing to these organizations allow the player to raise ranks and gain a reputation in the game world, which affects how NPCs and other factions view the player.

Daggerfall has genre-typical gore elements and some sexual topics. It displays cartoonish nudity (showing breasts but no genitals) both on NPCs and on the character's paper doll when all equipment is removed. The game installer includes a password-protected childgard feature that hides blood and corpses (instead showing just the skeleton of the corpse), disables sexual topics (though not removing all nudity), and ensures the character portrait is wearing underwear at all times.

Game world

A first-person screenshot from Daggerfall, demonstrating the user interface and graphical capabilities of the game.
The player can travel almost anywhere on the map, each area with hundreds of visitable locations.
Each dot on the map represents an entire town, city, or dungeon.

Daggerfall, like the other games in the Elder Scrolls series, takes place on the fictional continent of Tamriel. In Daggerfall, the player may travel within the High Rock and Hammerfell provinces of Tamriel. A wide range of formidable enemies, the strongest of which are the Daedra, make the journey through these realms difficult.

Bethesda claims that the scale of the game is equal to twice the size of Great Britain:[2] around 487,000 square kilometers. The game world features over 15,000 towns, cities, villages, and dungeons for the player's character to explore. According to Todd Howard, Game Director and Executive Producer for Bethesda Game Studios, the game's sequel, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, is 0.01% the size of Daggerfall, but it should be noted most of Daggerfall's terrain was randomly generated. Vvardenfell, the explorable part of Morrowind in the third game has 10 square miles (25.9 square kilometers).[3][4] The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has approximately 16 square miles (41.4 square kilometers) to explore.[5] In Daggerfall, there are 750,000+ non-player characters (NPCs) for the player to interact with, compared to the count of around 1,000 NPCs found in Morrowind and Oblivion. However, the geography and the characters in these later games are much more detailed.

An automap was implemented to help players navigate through the lengthy tombs and ancient underground fortresses. Players have to visit approximately 6-8 areas in order to finish the game, although a total of 47 areas are present. A limited array of building blocks were used to construct the towns and dungeons, causing some reviewers to complain about the game's monotony. In 2002, Morrowind, the third game in the series, responded to this issue with a smaller, more detailed world containing unique-looking cities and NPCs with greater individuality.


Daggerfall is a city in the Breton homeland of High Rock. The player is sent here at the personal request of the emperor. He wants the player to do two things. First, the player must free the ghost of the late King Lysandus from his earthly shackles. Second, the player must discover what happened to a letter from the emperor to a Blades spy in the court of Daggerfall. The letter reveals that Lysandus's mother, Nulfaga, knows the location of the Mantella, the key to resurrecting the first Numidium, a powerful iron golem. The emperor wants his spy to force Nulfaga into revealing the location of the Mantella so that the Blades can finish the reconstruction of the Numidium. Through a series of mishaps and confusions the letter fell into the hands of an orc by the name of Gortworg. Not knowing what the Mantella is, Gortworg consults Mannimarco, the King of Worms (the leader of the Necromancers). During this time the Underking, who originally destroyed the first Numidium because of its misuse by Tiber Septim, is recuperating deep within a tomb of High Rock after expending so much energy destroying it the first time. In order for the player to give the Mantella to anyone, the player must kill King Lysandus's murderer and put his ghost to rest. After accomplishing this, stealing the totem of Tiber Septim from King Gothryd of Daggerfall, and freeing the Mantella from its prison in Aetherius. Following this the player has six choices of how to deal with the Mantella.


Daggerfall has six endings:

  • If the player activates the Mantella himself while in possession of the totem (the controlling device of the Numidium), the Numidium will slay the player, go out of control, and be destroyed by Imperial forces. It should be noted that although this was listed as a possible ending on the Elder Scroll's official website during the 10th anniversary of the series, there doesn't appear to be any possible way to achieve this ending because the player cannot retrieve the Mantella without giving the totem to one of the major powers first. This ending is possibly just a rumor which even staff of Bethesda that didn't work on the development of Daggerfall were led to believe was true.
  • If the player gives the Mantella to the Underking, he absorbs its power, passes into eternal rest, and creates a large "magicka free" area around himself.
  • If Gortworg is victorious, he uses the Numidium to destroy the Imperial forces and the "Bay Kings", the rulers of the several provinces of the Iliac Bay. The Underking arrives shortly thereafter to destroy the first Numidium once and for all, losing his own life in the process. Gortworg then succeeds in creating Orsinium, a kingdom of Orcs.
  • If the Blades are victorious, they succeed in recreating the first Numidium and use it to defeat the Bay Kings and the Orcs as well as unite all the provinces of Tamriel under the empire once again.
  • If any of the Bay Kings win, that king will use the first Numidium to defeat all the other kings just before the Underking destroys him and itself.
  • If Mannimarco receives the Mantella, he uses it to make himself a god.


Work on The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall began immediately after Arena's release in March 1994.[6] The new project saw Ted Peterson assigned the role of Lead Game Designer.[7] Originally titled Mournhold and set in Morrowind, the game was eventually relocated to the provinces of High Rock and Hammerfell, in Tamriel's northwest. Daggerfall saw the replacement of Arena's experience-point-based system with one that rewarded the player for actually role-playing their character and revolved around skills.[6] Alongside skill-set tweaking, Daggerfall came equipped with an improved character generation engine, which included not only Arena's basic class choices but also a class creation system.[8] The system, which was designed primarily by Peterson with influences from GURPS, allowed players to create their own classes, assigning their own skills. Peterson notes that he's always enjoyed character-creation systems and that, although he doesn't "like playing Gamma World", even now he'll sometimes "roll the dice and see what kind of mutations my character would develop if I actually wanted to play the game". "I know", he says, "I'm weird."[7] Daggerfall was initially developed with an updated 2.5D Raycast engine, like Doom's, but it was eventually dropped in favor of the XnGine engine. Daggerfall realized an immense game world,[6] filled with 15,000 towns and a population of 750,000.[9]

Daggerfall saw little influence from other video games of the time. "Computer role-playing games weren't very interesting while we were working on Daggerfall. I can remember playing the latest King's Quest, Doom, and Sam and Max Hit the Road while working on it, but I can't say they had any profound impact on the story or design."[citation needed] The game's most profound influences came from whatever games and literature Julian LeFay or Ted Peterson happened to be playing or reading at the time, such as Dumas's The Man in the Iron Mask, which influenced "the quest where the player had to find the missing Prince of Sentinel", and Vampire: The Masquerade, which influenced "the idea of vampire tribes throughout the region".[7] Daggerfall's plot was opened up beyond Arena's clichéd and linear "find the eight missing pieces of the 'Staff of Chaos' and use it to rescue the Emperor from a dimensional prison",[10] and "that most cliched of all role-playing conventions, slaying the wicked wizard", to a "complex series of adventures leading to multiple resolutions".[7] Daggerfall was released on August 31, 1996,[11] within the game's intended release window.[12] Similar to Arena, the original release suffered from buggy code. Although Daggerfall's code was, in contrast to Arena's, patchable,[10] the yearning to avoid, in LeFay's words, "all the stupid patches we had for Daggerfall" led to a more cautious release schedule in the future.[13] Ted Peterson left Bethesda following Daggerfall's release and went to work for a series of companies in Los Angeles and San Francisco: Film Roman, AnyRiver Entertainment, Activision, and Savage Entertainment.[7]

On July 9, 2009, Bethesda made Daggerfall available as a free, legal download on their website, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Elder Scrolls franchise [14].


Although Daggerfall did not come with official modding tools like later Elder Scrolls series releases, enthusiasts for the game developed tools on their own to access the game's content soon after its release. As a result, a number of additional quests, graphical enhancements, and gameplay features were developed by third parties. Notable works include AndyFall[15] and DaedraFall.[16] In addition, some mod makers have devoted time to repairing some of the remaining bugs in the latest official release of Daggerfall, the DFQFIX quest-fix pack being the most recent attempt at this.[17]

XL Engine

The XL Engine is a rewrite of many different classic game engines, including Daggerfall. It has been in development since June 2009.[18] It was initially called DaggerXL, and was being developed alongside another game engine rewrite project until 2011, when DaggerXL and the other project were merged together, creating the XL Engine in the process.

The eventual goal of the project is to create an updated playing environment for classic 3D games, capable of being run on modern operating systems (as opposed to being run in DOS or through DOSBox). Past this, additional goals - for Daggerfall specifically - include the implementation of features that were initially promised for the game, but were not included or only partially coded in for the final release of the game.

As of June 2011, DaggerXL supports character creation, the rendering of all provinces and dungeons, user-definable display resolution (including smoothed terrain and Bloom), and basic gameplay. Additional gameplay features and bug-fixes are currently being coded for future releases of DaggerXL.


DaggerfallSetup is a Daggerfall installer for modern Windows.[19] The aim of this project is to install and easily run a fully patched Daggerfall on a modern Windows operating system. The setup contains many official and unofficial patches and translations for the game. DOSBox is used to run the game.

See also


  1. ^ "Daggerfall:Files". Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ CDA Access
  4. ^ Ace Gamez
  5. ^ Firing Squad
  6. ^ a b c "Daggerfall - Behind the Scenes". The Elder Scrolls 10th Anniversary. Bethesda Softworks. 2004. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Ted Peterson Interview I". Morrowind Italia. 2001-04-09. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  8. ^ "Daggerfall". Next Generation Magazine (11): 82–5. November 1995. 
  9. ^ Blancato, Joe (2007-02-06). "Bethesda: The Right Direction". The Escapist. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  10. ^ a b Barton, Matt (2007-04-11). "The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part III: The Platinum and Modern Ages (1994-2004)". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  11. ^ "Daggerfall release dates". GameSpot. 
  12. ^ Ward, Trent C. (1996-05-01). "Daggerfall Preview". GameSpot.;title;8. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  13. ^ "Battlespire". Next Generation Magazine (34): 124–5. October 1997. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "AndyFall". UESPWiki. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  16. ^ "DeadraFall". UESPWiki. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  17. ^ "DFQFIX". UESPWiki. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  18. ^ "DaggerXL". Homepage. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  19. ^ "DaggerfallSetup". Homepage. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 

External links

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