Way back in 2011, Skyrim was released to numerous fans clamoring for the game. Some loved it, a few hated it, some ignored it, some have consumed it ever since. I was one of the people who had never played Morrowind, which might be the best in the series, but had started with Oblivion.
In Oblivion, there was no talk of magic fading, the Dark brotherhood never spoke of the hard times they had fallen on. The thieves guild was the go-to people for some penny-crimes, and the Mages guild had a college in every city. Magic and People mingled.
Skyrim. 200 years later. Spoiler for anyone who hasn't finished the Mages, Theives or Dark Brotherhood quests:
Magic and the guilds are dying except for the Thalmor, but those idiots are undeserving of their hideous hides. (My first playthough was a High-elf, I can say this, it isn't racist.)
This is not a new concept.
With almost every fantasy story, the setting always seems to be on the decline of magic or humanity (or mortals, whatever the people we are supposed to associate with)
- Lord of the Rings- not even Sauron can reproduce the one ring again, and the realm is being closed off.
- Eragon- the dragons are all dead except 3 eggs.
- Game of Thrones- the Wall is down to 3 castles and not even enough troops to hold those. The dragons are all dead except 3 eggs.
- Fable- the academy in the first one was well established, by 2 it is gone (I am a bit iffy on this one, correct me if I am wrong here.)
- Star Wars- Luke is the last jedi. (KotoR means this might be a cycle)
- Diablo- All of the games are based on Angels failing to beat evil.
- Fablehaven- I asked my sister, this is what she gave me. It is some book series.
- Avatar the last Airbender: This one is a stretch, the Avatar is trying to rebuild his own bending culture, by Korra, the other Benders are everywhere though, so it really is not declining.
- Harry Potter- No Magic has been lost, but there haven't been any renaissance or enlightenment eras in magical history... It isn't growing.
- Guild Wars 2- Now here is a weird entry, the world is being taken over by 5 dragons the size of Manhattan and what do they put in? Guns. The first one didn't have crossbows, but it did have ballista making 200 years about the right timeframe for guns to really get useful. (ignore asuran tech.)
Why isn't magic growing in these stories?
It is much easier to right a compelling dramatic tale of how someone rises up from being unknown to rise up against the greatest foe when odds are at their most against him than it is to make a dramatic story about someone who has the wind from their back, the gods giving him everything he needs and he is overcoming every task.
What if in Elder Scrolls 5, they had turned it around? The Mages guild has an entire city all to itself, the Dark Brotherhood had 3 bases of operation, and you could choose which one to join, the Dwarves return, the Theives guild has a large hall beneath Markarth, and there is a crafting guild. What if Skyrim was the Far Cry 3 "Skyrim with guns"?
Sometime in the 2 hour debate with my friends last weekend, one of them said "Maybe it has to do with humanity losing the need for magic, maybe in all of these stories, knowledge is replacing magic." But that is the whole point of these stories being dramatic, we have lost the connection to magic when we need magic more than ever.
What I Want!
I want a fantasy story that starts out in the dark ages, then rises, Dragons start growing in numbers, Magic starts to be more commonplace and more powerful, and the growth of technology to be a part of all of it.
Wait, wasn't this about Skyrim originally?
In Game of Thrones, I am helpless, I am on the roller-coaster and it is Mr. Heartless-Soulless-Bastard George R.R. Martin who decides where I go, what I feel and how epic and dramatic his story should be.
Skyrim puts that on you. You can be the Hero of Nirn or the Guy who only pickpockets guards. You are deciding where to go, and how much of a hero you want to be because Mr. Heartless-Soulless-Bastard is taking 15 years to write the next book, so you have some time to kill.