Earlier this year after Elsweyr first launched a discussion went on about what year it actually takes place in, as Abnur Tharn mentions that his half-sister Euraxia conquered the city of Rimmen 6 years prior to the events of the chapter. The original conclusion I came to in that thread was that the year was 2E 583, one year after the very beginning of the game and its main story, but that it had not reached the month of Frostfall yet, as Euraxia's claiming of Rimmen was known as the Frostfall Coup. However a revelation occurred as the thread was still going on. Because the subject was on my mind and there happened to be a Reddit AMA planned I decided to ask our good Loremaster himself what year the timeline was currently set in. His answer was, in my opinion, less than enjoyable. He claimed that due to the nature of the game allowing you to do content in whichever order you like, effectively making everything relative to the player, we should assume the year is still 2E 582. I and a few others voiced concerns over this in the previously mentioned forum thread, and a few even responded directly on the AMA with their concerns, but ultimately he gave his answer. By keeping the year in 582 it effectively allows the player to enjoy the entirety of the game without the timeline progressing and potentially disrupting their own chosen flow of time.
Here is why this answer doesn't work.
To start, eventually the timeline will have to move forward. If it remains 582 forever then the year becomes incredibly bloated with events to the point where there is no reasoning the idea that it even is still 582. It was already a bit hard to believe it was still 582 by the events of Elsweyr. But when they do eventually move the timeline forward it will contradict their original philosophy on how the timeline is relative to the player.
The current year in-game really only affects those who pay attention to the lore, and most who do prefer to do content in the correct order as well. This was a concern brought up back on the AMA and original thread and I feel it still applies greatly. Those who play because they enjoy the gameplay don't care what year it is in the timeline for the most part.
There is a journal in Orsinium that flat out states the year is 583, which we can assume is now a retcon. Despite this it's still in the game and anyone who reads it and then goes and plays some other content could easily become confused and assume that Orsinium is supposed to happen after everything else. It is a bit of a slim chance to be fair, but it's still a possibility.
I've recently been talking about this topic with my friends who also think the decision was less than ideal. The result is something I'd like to propose. A suggestion. Instead of saying that the year is still 582, why not just say the game starts in 582 and then leave the passage of time ambiguous? We already know that the year 582 is confirmed to be the start and current year of the game's timeline, and it would solve many issues if the passage of time was left completely ambiguous to the player. No mentions in-game about when certain events occurred. No journals stating which year it currently is. And no need to move the timeline forward as it would make the timeline even more relative to each player and allow them to come to their own conclusions about how much time has passed.
This fulfills the idea of mixing the gameplay freedom together with the timeline, and it does it far better than assuming it's still 582. And that does bring me to fun little thing to end this whole post off. I would love to see the individual interpretations you all have for how much time has passed and which events have occurred in which order. I also would like to see all of your thoughts on the subject itself as well as my suggestion.
Straight out of Mo- uh, oh wait. Um... Ebonheart, I guess?
- Dunmer Stamina SorcererNiveth Othrril
- Dunmer Stamina Dragonknight