The Most Curious
Fauna and Flora
The Shivering Isles
Published 4E 200, Imperial Geographic Society
Nearly two years ago, I found myself shipwrecked on what I believed at the time was an island somewhere in the Abecean Sea. I now know that this was no ordinary land: it was not even on this same plane of existence. Somehow, I had been shipwrecked on none other than the Shivering Isles, a plane of Oblivion ruled by the Daedric Prince Sheogorath.
In the first two days, I wandered the strange landscape, uncomprehending of what my eyes were seeing. I will not lie to you, this land truly tested me. However, my resolve is strong, and I turned my predicament into a most insightful and informative expedition of the like I had never seen before. As is customary in my expeditions, I began to compile research notes regarding the curious new types of fauna and flora I was discovering. As I am sure many of you know, I have published no less than 45 books, each documenting unique regions from the Ashlands of Morrowind to the Ashpits of Malacath.
What you read now is the compilation of that research put into book form for you, dear reader, to consume. What is contained in the next few pages is what I believe to be the most comprehensive field guide on the fauna and flora of the Shivering Isles that can be found in Tamriel. I hope that it may sate your curiosity with the undiscovered, and prompt you to consider setting off on some adventures of your own!
-- Rickard Calvert, Historian
Elytra are large, bug-like creatures that inhabit the entirety of the Shivering Isles. There are two variants: the Northern and Southern Elytra. These variants are split cleanly along the regional Mania - Dementia line. These two types of Elytra seem to be largely identical despite their coloration. Northern Elytra have vibrant orange and green bodies, while the Southern Elytra sport a more blue and black scheme.
Juvenile Elytra are called “Nymphs”, and are roughly the size of a Nordic Wolfhound. Adults are much larger and more imposing. They look largely the same as their offspring, with the noticeable difference of a large “crown” feature that adorns their head.
Elytra are highly aggressive, and possess deadly poison in an addition to their sharp claws. However, to the seasoned adventurer, these nasty blighters should pose no significant threat, being roughly comparable to a particularly angry Frostbite Spider.
Perhaps the most disturbing creature that the Shivering Isles possess is the Flesh Atronach. It is an unholy construct of flesh and sinew, sewn together from the “best bits” of various corpses. The Atronach is given life by binding a lesser daedric entity to the corpse and exerting control of its will.
Despite the name, the Flesh Atronach is not considered an atronach in the classical sense. It is more accurately described as a type of golem, being constructed rather than summoned from another plane of Oblivion.
It is recommended to avoid confrontations with Flesh Atronachs if at all possible. They may look no more dangerous than the undead that can be encountered in various earthly tombs, but an arrogant adventurer will underestimate these abominations at his or her own peril. Since they’re created from prime pieces of different corpses, the atronach proves a very resilient creature, constructed specifically to take advantage of all its grisly parts. Moreover, powerful Flesh Atronachs are capable of casting deadly spells, a fact that may surprise unprepared adventurers (shortly before they are burnt to death).
The Gnarl shares many similarities with Tamriel’s own Spriggan. They are both apparent protectors of nature, and both sport similar wooden appearances. However, the Gnarl is much more grim and violent than their mundane counterparts. Their faces are warped into what appears to be an agonized scream, their bodies are twisted in unnatural ways. Eyes can even be seen growing like flowers on certain Gnarl. Like the Elytra, they have both Mania and Dementia regional variants, with coloration suitable for their locale.
These creatures appear to serve as caretakers of the “Root”, a colossal interconnected organism that lies beneath the Shivering Isles. This Root is so large that it can be entered and explored at certain access points. This is where the Gnarl dwells, and these plantlike predators will use their array of natural magics to ensure you never again see the light of day.
The Grummite is perhaps the most interesting inhabitant of the Realm of Madness. They resemble bipedal frog-men. The Grummite has three distinct stages of life: they are first born as Poliwogs, small tadpole-like fish that swim amongst the Isle’s waterways. Poliwogs then grow into Baliwogs, quadrapedic lizard-like beasts with a nasty bite, and make their way to land. Finally the Baliwog grows into the mature, bipedal Grummite.
Interestingly, unlike any other creature of the Isles, the Grummites appear to have a rather sophisticated society. They adorn themselves in decorative trinkets and use tools and weapons, much like Tamriel’s goblinken. It has been theorized that these beastfolk are the devolved form of the Shivering Isles’ original inhabitants. There is no proof to this thought, but there is precedent to be found in Skyrim’s savage Falmer.
An individual Grummite is only rarely a threat, but their tendency to work together and attack in groups can overwhelm the unprepared target. Despite their crude appearance, their weapons are deadly, and can prove the end of any cocky adventurer. When accosted by a Grummite, approach the situation as you would a particularly dangerous Goblin or Riekling encounter.
Hungers are not exclusive to the Shivering Isles, and their presence here is most curious. These creatures are monstrous in appearance and ability. They have thin, unnatural frames and nightmarish facial features consisting of terribly sharp teeth. The most prominent part of a Hunger is perhaps their long tongue, which seemingly is always snaking out of their mouth.
These daedric monstrosities are one of the most dangerous creatures on the Isles. They have lightning-fast reflexes, and are known to spew toxic acid from their mouth. Don’t try and be a hero: give these beasts a wide berth.
The Scalon is a hulking, muscular, fish-like creature often found near water. They are fantastic swimmers, aided in part by the prominent dorsal fin on their back. Like several other creatures, there are two variants of Scalon split between Mania and Dementia. The Scalon of Mania are a vibrant orange color accented by hints of green, while their Dementia counterparts are a solid, dull blue-gray.
These monsters are massive, and they hit hard. As if their strength wasn’t enough, the Scalon is also known to transmit the highly deadly Scalon Blight. Adventurers who contract this disease should seek medical attention immediately.
The most surprising animal on the Isles is that of the Shroom Beetle. Originally hailing from Morrowind, the Shroom Beetle was believed to have been wiped out several hundred years ago. To my great relief, this doesn’t seem to be the case. These critters seem to have adapted perfectly to the alien environment of the Isles, and have even developed their own color variations which match the mushrooms on their back with those found in the regions of Mania and Dementia.
Researchers were particularly excited to hear of this discovery, and various conservation projects have popped up at high ranking institutions with the intent to reintroduce the Shroom Beetle to their homeland of Morrowind. The College of Whispers has been flush with inquiries by well-meaning professionals offering to fund different projects all with the end goal of establishing a permanent stable portal between Tamriel and the Shivering Isles.
These programs have received much criticism from the Synod claiming that this project is not only highly dangerous to the safety of the Empire but also quite likely physically impossible due to the barrier built between our realm and Oblivion at the end of the Third Era. The Elder Council has began to pass harsh regulatory actions against any group that aims to try to create portals to Oblivion citing the damage done in the Oblivion Crisis and Planemeld. While they are flourishing in the Shivering Isles, the Shroom Beetle’s future on Tamriel is uncertain.
While the creatures of the Shivering Isles may be more interesting to discuss, it would be amiss to not mention the various fascinating bits of plant life present on this plane. Mania and Dementia have wildly different ecosystems: one is a vibrant and colorful highland with trees of every color, while Dementia is a marshy lowland with an oppressively gloomy atmosphere. As such, there is a wide assortment of plants on offer.
In general, the flora of Mania matches the many colors of the rest of the region. Red Kelp grows on its shore, with green leaves speckled with red dots. Alocasia plants grow bright purple fruit in many areas of the isles, while Astor Blooms produce a core that serves as a powerful alchemical ingredient. There are a few unique variants of shroom: Worm’s Head which grows often under cliff faces, and the Hydnum Azure Giant Spore that can be found growing on the sides of sheer surfaces.
Dementia has a much more muted variety of plants. Amongst the bog grows the thin white Fungus Stalks, and on dry land sit the strange, onion-shaped Putrid Gigantea. Like Mania, Dementia also has its own variant of small shroom called the Blister Pod.
The Isles’ Root caverns have their own set of unique flora. In Mania, the subtly glowing Flame Stalk can be found alongside the strange and aptly named Screaming Maw. Dementia has a wider variety of cave plants. The eerie glow of Withering Moons illuminate the dark Dementia root, while the twisted and bulbous Rot Scale, Thorn Hook, and Watcher’s Eye prefer the darker corners of the caves.
I hope all that have read this guide have come out of it knowing more than when they began. The Shivering Isles are a truly unique place quite unlike anywhere I’ve been before, even other planes of Oblivion itself. I aim to expand this work in the future as I return to the Isles to discover their more interesting and eccentric denizens. Until next time, this has been Rickard Calvert. Remember, if you’re not exploring, you’re not living!
Now, with his research notes completed, tune in next week to see what happens next in RICKARD CALVERT IN THE ISLE OF MADNESS: PART IV - SHEOGORATH’S FAITHFUL, premiering Saturday at 1:00 PM EDT!