Mundus Stones – The Birthsigns of ESO

Mundus StoneRemember Standing Stones from Skyrim? In Elder Scrolls Online, they are called Mundus Stones. The concept of Mundus Stones has always existed in The Elder Scrolls games, but the implementation has changed. In the earlier TES games, you were forced to choose a birthsign when creating your character. The birthsign gives a permanent buff or a spell to your character. It could be a fortify Magicka bonus or a spell to gain invisibility once a day for example. In ESO when activated, Mundus Stones grant Boons, which are permanent buffs that persist through death. You can change the Boon by activating a different Stone.

In Morrowind and in Oblivion you are forced to choose a Birthsign on character creation. It is in a way a significant decision, because you would be forever bound by it. Oblivion also has Birthsign Doomstones, which grant a Greater Power that is only useable once a day. Only one Birthsign Doomstone power can be held at a time.

The approach Skyrim, and now Elder Scrolls Online, took here is more lax. Strictly speaking there are no birthsigns, but instead you have Standing Stones or Mundus Stones, which can be activated whenever. The point here being that you are not bound by the decision – you can just use another stone to get another effect.

Mundus Stones in ESO

There’s thirteen different Mundus Stones in Elder Scrolls Online. Actually, there’s more Mundus Stones than just thirteen – each alliance territory has their own Mundus Stones, and you can also find every Mundus Stone in Cyrodiil.

So to sum it up: you have thirteen different types of Mundus Stones in Tamriel, but there’s four of each Mundus Stone: one in every alliance territory and one in Cyrodiil. The only exception to this is The Lord mundus stone, which does not exist in Cyrodiil for some reason.

Mundus Stone Type Buff/Boon Granted
The Warrior
  • Increases Power.
The Mage
  • Increases max Magicka.
The Thief
  • Increases critical hit chance.
The Serpent
  • Increases non-combat health regeneration.
The Lady
  • Increases armor.
The Steed
  • Increases run speed.
The Lord
  • Increases max Health.
The Apprentice
  • Increases Spell Penetration.
The Atronach
  • Increases Magicka regeneration.
The Ritual
  • Increases healing effectiveness.
The Lover
  • Reduces damage taken from spells.
The Shadow
  • Increases critical strike damage.
The Tower
  • Increases max Stamina.

Mundus Stones open up a lot of possibilities for character customization in Elder Scrolls Online in the form of permanent, changeable buffs that complement your build and gear at any given time. It’s clear that Mundus Stones have a major role for maxing out your character and playing it to its full potential.

Changing the buff is simple, as long as you have done some exploring. You can freely travel from a wayshrine to another, but you cannot *fast travel* straight to a Mundus Stone. If you want to change your Mundus Stone buff, all you need to do is travel to the wayshrine that is closest to the desired Mundus Stone and make the rest of the journey on foot or on your mount.

Cyrodiil Mundus Stone Locations

The fact that every Mundus Stone (except The Lord stone) can be found in Cyrodiil is great, because it enables you to go and pick up the buff you want as soon as you can access Cyrodiil at level 10. It’s also a good thing for PvP focused players who may want to spend most of their time in AvA in Cyrodiil. Many of the alliance territory Mundus Stones are in higher level areas which are near-impossible, if not impossible, to access unless you are of appropriate level and have completed the right quest lines.

The distances in Cyrodiil are of course very big, and getting your desired Mundus Stone can be tricky and time-consuming.

The Star Constellations

So what do Birthsigns, Birthsign Stones, Standing Stones and Mundus Stones have in common? Their names all represent the star constellations of Tamriel. There is a book found in the aforementioned TES games called The Firmament. It talks about the the constellations:

The Stars of Tamriel are divided into thirteen constellations. Three of them are the major constellations, known as the Guardians. These are the Warrior, the Mage, and the Thief. Each of the Guardians protects its three Charges from the thirteenth constellation, the Serpent.

When the sun rises near one of the constellations, it is that constellation’s season. Each constellation has a Season of approximately one month. The Serpent has no season, for it moves about in the heavens, usually threatening one of the other constellations.

The Serpent (forever alone)

The Warrior’s charges:

  • The Lady
  • The Steed
  • The Lord

The Mage’s charges:

  • The Apprentice
  • The Atronach (also often called The Golem)
  • The Ritual

The Thief’s charges:

  • The Lover
  • The Shadow
  • The Tower

The Evolution of Birthsigns in Elder Scrolls

Now that we understand that the names represent the star constellations, we can look at the birthsigns and how they have changed in The Elder Scrolls games. There’s a clear change overall: previously the birthsigns often granted spells, whilst in ESO Mundus Stones always grant a passive buff instead of an ability.

Constellation Morrowind Birthsign Oblivion Birthsign Oblivion Birthsign Doomstone Skyrim Standing Stone ESO Mundus Stone
The Warrior
  • Fortify Attack 10 points
  • Fortify Endurance and Strength 10 points
  • Fortify Strength 20 pts; Blade, Blunt, and Hand to Hand 10 pts on Self for 120 seconds
  • Combat skills increase 20% faster
  • Increases Power
The Mage
  • Fortify Magicka 0.5 x INT
  • Fortify Magicka 50 points
  • Fortify Magicka 50 pts for 120 seconds
  • Magic skills increase 20% faster
  • Increases maximum Magicka
The Thief
  • Sanctuary 10 points
  • Fortify Agility, Luck and Speed 10 points
  • Fortify Agility and Fortify Luck 20 pts on Self for 120 seconds
  • Stealth skills increase 20% faster
  • Increases critical hit chance
The Serpent
  • Poison 3 pts for 30 secs on Touch, Damage Health 1 pt for 30
    secs on Self
  • Damage Health 3 points for 20 seconds (60 points total) on Touch
  • Cure Poison on Self
  • Dispel 90 points on Self
  • Damage Fatigue 100 points on Self
  • Paralyze 5 seconds and Damage Health 4 pts for 20 seconds on target
  • Paralyze target for 5s and Damage Health of target 25pts
  • Increases non-combat health regeneration
The Lady
  • Fortify Personality and Endurance 25 points
  • Fortify Willpower and Endurance 10 points
  • Fortify Willpower and Fortify Endurance 20 pts on Self for 120 seconds
  • Regenerate Stamina and Health 25% faster
  • Increases armor
The Steed
  • Fortify Speed 25 pts
  • Fortify Speed 20 points
  • Fortify Speed and Fortify Acrobatics 20 pts on Self for 120 seconds
  • Wearing armor does not affect speed
  • Carry Weight +100
  • Equipped armor is weightless
  • Increases run speed
The Lord
  • Restore Health 2 pts for 30 secs on Self
  • Weakness to Fire 100%
  • Restore Health 6 points for 15 seconds (90 points total) on Self, multiple times per day at a cost of 50 Magicka
  • Permanent Weakness to Fire 25%
  • Resist Frost 50%, Fortify Heavy Armor 10 pts, Fortify Light Armor 10 pts on Self for 120 seconds.
  • Armor Rating 50 points
  • Resist Magic 25%
  • Increases maximum health
The Apprentice
  • Fortify Maximum Magicka 1.5x INT
  • Weakness to Magicka 50%
  • Fortify Magicka 100 points
  • Weakness to Magic 100%
  • Fortify Illusion and Fortify Alchemy 20 pts for 120 seconds
  • Regenerate Magicka +100%
  • Weakness to Magic +100%
  • Increases spell penetration
The Atronach
  • Spell Absorption 50%
  • Fortify Maximum Magicka 2.0x INT
  • Stunted Magicka (Prevents magicka regeneration when resting)
  • Fortify Magicka 150 points
  • Spell Absorption 50%
  • Stunted Magicka (Prevents standard magicka regeneration)
  • Spell Absorption 30 pts and Fortify Intelligence 10 pts on Self for 120 seconds
  • Magicka +50 points
  • Spell Absorption 50%
  • Regenerate Magicka 50% slower
  • Increases magicka regeneration
The Ritual
  • Turn Undead 100 pts for 30 secs on Target
  • Turn Undead 100 pts for 30 secs on Touch
  • Restore Health 100 pts on Self
  • Turn Undead up to level 25 (100 points) for 30 seconds on target, multiple times per day at a cost of 40 Magicka
  • Restore Health 200 points on Self, once per day
  • Restore Health 100 points on Self
  • Restore Health 150 points on Target
  • Raise all dead to fight for you once a day for 200 seconds
  • Increases healing effectiveness
The Lover
  • Fortify Agility 25 points
  • Paralyze 60 secs on Target, Damage Fatigue 200 pts on Self
  • Paralyze 10 seconds on Touch and Damage Fatigue 120 points on Self, once per day
  • Fortify Personality and Fortify Luck 20 pts for 120 seconds
  • Learn all skills 15% faster
  • Reduces damage taken from spells
The Shadow
  • Invisibility for 60 secs
  • Invisibility 60 seconds on Self, once per day
  • Chameleon 15% for 120 seconds
  • Become invisible for 60 seconds once a day
  • Increases critical strike damage
The Tower
  • Detect Animal / Key / Enchantment for 60 secs in 200 ft
  • Open 50 pts on Touch
  • Open Average Lock (40 points) on Target, once per day
  • Reflect Damage 5% for 120 seconds on Self, once per day
  • Open Hard Lock in 15 ft on Target
  • Unlock any Expert or lower level lock instead of picking it once a day
  • Increases maximum stamina

As we can see, some birthsign effects have drastically changed, others not so much. Birthsigns in Morrowind and Oblivion often have a similar theme with Skyrim’s Standing Stones, but Mundus Stones in The Elder Scrolls Online sometimes completely turn the effect around.

There’s a couple of questionable Mundus Stone effects in my opinion, let’s take The Atronach’s ‘increase Magicka regeneration’ for example.The Atronach birthsign’s effects in previous games are the exact opposite: they either reduce the magicka regeneration or completely stop it from happening the normal way. Instead, there’s a fortify Magicka buff in place and a spell absorption. Spell absorption was probably seen as over-the-top for an MMO, and Zenimax decided to do something different.

The Mage Mundus Stone in ESO actually has that fortify Magicka buff, which makes sense since the Mage birthsign in the previous games also fortifies Magicka. The Serpent effect is a bit disappointing really, if you look at the awesome paralyze and poison spells in the previous games. In ESO we get increased non-combat health regeneration. Nice (not really). The Shadow also changes drastically: previously you were given a spell to gain invisiblity, now your critical hit chance is increased instead.

Mundus Stones providing nothing but buffs is a pretty significant thing. In a way it’s a bit boring, because it would have been nice to have a variety of use-once-a-day type of spells to choose from like in previous Elder Scrolls games.