5 Things The Elder Scrolls Series Taught Me About Being A Dark Overlord

Bethesda’s very classic ‘Elder Scrolls’ series is quite famous for having wide open worlds where you are free to do whatever you so wish. From something with the scope and majesty as scaling the highest cliff peak and plummeting down, to land safely with a spell, or something so simplistic as chopping wood.
However, some of the world wishes only one thing when given the freedom to do as they wish. Many people, me included, take the opportunity of absolute freedom to become a Dark Overlord. I wanted to rule the countryside of High Rock, Morrowind, Cyrodiil, and Skyrim with an iron fist (I never played Arena, it’s not easy to find). By far, my best reign of absolute terror was in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, so I will use this as an example. In the end, I always ruled the countryside with some artifact of great evil, and these are a few lessons I learned while forming my reigns of terror.

1. Follow the destruction alphabet. Always Be Completely Destroying Everything Forever.

There’s more to the destruction alphabet, but the rest of it is really just twisting words around so I can make the ABCDEF combination again. The general rule you can learn from the destruction alphabet is that if there’s a thing, you should kill it, it’s not the most abstract of concepts, but I think it’s a good one, still.
I put this into effect when I walked into the lovely coastal city of Anvil and murdered everything.  I had just acquired a spell I’d made that created a fun little field around me for a second that made everything die in fire, I called it the ‘Johnny Cash’ and it worked pretty well.  I sat in the middle of town as guards rushed at me and a few exploding guard uniforms later, I was skipping merrily towards the stables where I stole a horse, killed a dude, and left with a song in my heart and a heart in my bag.
I used that heart in a pretty cool potion later.

2. Court intrigue is just as much fun as murdering outright.

I know you’re probably saying, “Well, now what do I do?  After destruction, what is there to do?”  Well, you can pretend like you’re in Game of Thrones by machinating some noble deaths.
Nothing is ever so much fun as getting to be a noble’s friend with some good conversational skills and then making his steward attack him suddenly.  Technically you can’t do this with conversation, I used a Frenzy spell and imagined really hard that I’d cleverly told him that the noble ate his dog or something.
I was chased out by the guards, my spell not being as stealthy as I had anticipated.

3. Magical artifacts are a Dark Overlords best friend.

Evil artifacts are the coolest.  Do all the Daedric quests, that’s the fast track to evil.  If you’re a Dark Overlord without a staff then people are seriously just going to laugh at you, go out and find a staff with a menacing head and start zapping away at people.

My personal evil favorite is the Wabbajack, because I can randomly turn someone into a Xivilai, which is the most annoying enemy in the game, or a rat randomly.  It makes me feel quite powerful, if not quite in control of my own destiny.

4. If you’re part of an organization, rule it.
Now this is just basic.  You can’t really be a Dark Overlord if you don’t rule Dark Organizations.  The Dark Brotherhood is a pretty obvious choice, but you can even turn the mages guild dark being the archmage and killing some of your subjects with magic.

You have to have your subjects, if you don’t then what’s the point of being a Dark Overlord?  Without subjects you’re just a dude, a particularly dark dude, that’s a given, but just a dude, and the overlord is a very big part of ruling the entirety of Tamriel.

5. Evil Phrase.

This one is a little tricky, you have to have an evil catchphrase or something cool.  Personally, I like leading someone into a trap with the words, “You are already dead” and then some kind of maniacal laugh to follow it.  See, being a good evil overlord is about projecting yourself and seeming big, even to a bunch of pixels.

Sometimes it’s nice to enter puns into the equation.  “Looks like your time is ORC!”.  That’s a weaker one, but making orc into a good evil pun is a little bit difficult.


It’s easy to be a dark lord if you’re willing to go the extra mile, so maybe instead of just killing a man, you should kill his wife and family too!  There’s always more evil that can be done, and that’s what the Elder Scrolls taught me about being a Dark Overlord.