It’s not a big surprise to learn that Bethesda is at work on a massively multiplayer online game (MMO/MMOG). What is a little surprising is the news that said game will reportedly be based on Elder Scrolls as opposed to the more obvious choice, the Fallout universe.

On Thursday, TomsGuide.com received information from an “anonymous inside source” regarding a certain Elder Scrolls Online. Details are scarce, but Bethesda will supposedly announce the game in May of this year.

According to the tipster, Elder Scrolls Online will take place 1,000 years before the events in Skyrim. There will be three playable factions, though nothing is known about said factions beyond the fact that they’re each represented by a lion, a dragon, and a bird that appears to be either an eagle or a phoenix.

Given that the official announcement of the game is supposedly happening in May, we might see or hear something substantial at this year’s E3. Beyond that, Quakecon 2012 in August may deliver a nice Elder Scrolls-specific surprise.

Bethesda has gone on a hiring blitz in recent months, including a search for a console programmer, and, most recently, an iOS programmer. The studio’s hunt for an iOS developer is probably unrelated to the ethereal Elder Scrolls Online, but the market has been changing in interesting ways, and we have no idea what platform Bethesda’s MMO is being engineered for–if it’s being engineered at all. In other words, who’s to say?