[[caption-width-right:300:[[YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm This is what you think an Elder Scroll looks like.]]]]

->'' "Go ye now in peace. Let thy fate be written in [[TitleDrop The Elder Scrolls]]..." ''

''The Elder Scrolls'' is a massively popular WesternRPG series produced by [[{{Creator/Bethesda}} Bethesda Softworks]]. "TES" or "ES" for short, the series is renowned for its WideOpenSandbox style of gameplay, allowing the player to play as a heroic or diabolical character, to pursue the main quest with vigor or to ignore it entirely, and to gain prowess and fame through working for factions, guilds, military legions, and even the gods themselves.

''The Elder Scrolls'' games are set in Tamriel, a continent roughly the size of Africa, on the planet Nirn. Tamriel is shared by ten playable races (eight before ''Morrowind'') - four races of Men[[note]] [[HumansAreDiplomats Imperials]], [[HornyVikings Nords]], [[UnevenHybrid Bretons]], and [[MasterSwordsman Redguards]][[/note]], four races of [[OurElvesAreBetter Mer (Elves)]][[note]] [[WitchSpecies Altmer (High Elves)]], [[ForestRanger Bosmer (Wood Elves)]], [[JackOfAllStats Dunmer (Dark Elves)]], and [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orsimer (Pariah Elves or Orcs)]][[/note]], and two "[[PettingZooPeople Beast Races]]"[[note]][[LizardFolk Argonians]] and [[CatFolk Khajiit]][[/note]]. Numerous other races are present in the series' lore and backstory, most notably the extinct [[OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame Dwemer (Deep Elves or "Dwarves")]].

According to former series developer Ted Peterson, the name ''The Elder Scrolls'' was chosen as the surtitle to ''Arena'' simply because "it sounded cool", and it wasn't determined until later in development what an "Elder Scroll" actually was in-universe. ("[[TomeOfEldritchLore Fragments of Creation]]" which simultaneously record past, present, and future events but tend to have nasty side-effects on mortal readers including blindness and insanity.)

The series has a large and industrious {{Game Mod}}ding community, which exponentially increases the content of each game while also fixing bugs, adjusting features to the fandom's liking, and much more, right up to complete overhaul mods.

Since ''Morrowind'', each installment in the series has been released on [[MultiPlatform both PC and console]], allowing the series to get into the hands of a wider audience.

The main series ''Elder Scrolls'' games are:

* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsArena Arena]]'' (1994): [[TheEmperor The benevolent Emperor]] of Tamriel, Uriel Septim VII, has been overthrown by his EvilChancellor[=/=][[CourtMage Imperial Battlemage]], Jagar Tharn, who has trapped the Emperor in Oblivion, assumed his appearance, and has been reigning in his stead. However, the ghost of Tharn's late apprentice, Ria Silmane, teams up with a minor noble (the PlayerCharacter) to fight the usurper. Together, they must [[GottaCatchThemAll collect]] [[DismantledMacGuffin the pieces]] of the [[ArtifactOfDoom Staff of Chaos]] in order to defeat Tharn and rescue the Emperor. ''Arena'' was originally going to be about, well, gladiatorial combat arenas, but that idea was scratched in favor of adapting the developers' home-brew [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons D&D setting]], Tamriel, into a computer game. The fast-paced gladiatorial combat style remained, though, and ''Arena'' was much more [[ActionRPG action-oriented]] than other {{RPG}}s of the time. The game was met with lackluster sales, but developed a strong enough [[CultClassic cult fanbase]] to warrant a sequel. In 2004, Bethesda released ''Arena'' as freeware download.

* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall Daggerfall]]'' (1996): Set six years after the events of ''Arena'', the PC, a personal acquaintance of Uriel Septim VII, is sent to the western province of High Rock to investigate the ghost of its former King Lysandus, who now haunts the eponymous city of Daggerfall. Cooperating with the [[SecretPolice Emperor's Blades]], the PC soon uncovers a sinister plot to reactivate the LostSuperweapon Numidium, a HumongousMecha originally used to forge the Third Tamrielic Empire. Several factions in the region enter the fight for controlling the Numidium, and it depends on the PC who gets it. Also of note is the emphasis on side-quests. Increased after seeing how much time ''Arena'' players spent on them, the designers decided to put them in the spotlight in ''Daggerfall''. ''Daggerfall'' features several different factions for the player to join outside of the main quest, all of which combine to add hundreds of hours of side-questing. It also has positively HUGE [[RandomlyGeneratedLevels randomly generated dungeons]], often "designed" [[RuinsForRuinsSake in the silliest ways possible]]. ''Daggerfall'' is unfortunately a prime example of an ObviousBeta, with {{Game Breaking Bug}}s abound. Still, it was successful enough to keep the series alive. In 2009, Bethesda released ''Daggerfall'' as a freeware download.

* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'' (2002): Set 10 years after the events of ''Daggerfall'', a convict from the Imperial City Prison (the PC) is released in the north-eastern province of Morrowind on the Emperor's direct orders. Guided by the Blades, the PC investigates the local prophesies of TheChosenOne, known as the Nerevarine, who will save the land from the dreaded "Blight". Tracing the source of the Blight to the [[BigBad evil]] PhysicalGod, Dagoth Ur, the PC is launched into a labyrinthine plot involving an AncientConspiracy, prophecies, lost prophecies, ''false'' prophecies, {{reincarnation}}, gods, backroom politics, gang wars, and TheCorruption. Like ''Daggerfall'', ''Morrowind'' offers LoadsAndLoadsOfSidequests, of which some of the faction questlines are nearly as expansive as the main quest itself. ''Morrowind'' is significantly smaller in scope than its predecessors (a "mere" 9 square miles as opposed to thousands, and a non-infinite number of side-quests), but manages to come off as much more epic anyway due to the quality of the writing and the [[SceneryPorn diverse, exotic landscapes]]. It's also notable for being much, much ''[[NewWeird weirder]]'' than the rest of the franchise, being set in an alien landscape populated by Dunmer (Dark Elves), {{Bizarchitecture}}, dinosaur-like fauna, giant arthropods, {{Living Gasbag}}s, {{Cthulhumanoid}}s, and more. In part thanks to its availability on both PC and [=X-Box=], ''Morrowind'' was a critical and commercial hit, being Bethesda's BreakthroughHit and introducing a massive NewbieBoom to the series.[[/index]]
** ''Tribunal'' (2002): An attack by the [[MurderInc Dark Brotherhood]] brings the PC to Morrowind's capital of Mournhold. While investigating the attack, the PC becomes involved in a power struggle between the King of Morrowind, Hlaalu Helseth, and the Tribunal deity, Almalexia. It's [[DifficultySpike noticeably more challenging]] than the main game, and intended for mid-to-high level characters. Unlike the rest of the game, you are restricted to only one part of the stated-to-be massive city and the sewers/ruins beneath it.
** ''Bloodmoon'' (2003): Arriving on the [[GrimUpNorth frigid northern island]] of Solstheim, the PC runs into ravaging [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent werewolves]] and is soon embroiled in a ritual conducted by the Daedric Prince [[TheWildHunt Hircine]] to determine the strongest fighter on the island. Naturally, the PC has to participate, all the while helping an Imperial mining colony to grow from literally nothing into a thriving frontier settlement (with plenty of interesting moral dilemmas along the way).

* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' (2006): Set four years after the events of ''Morrowind'', Emperor Uriel Septim VII is assassinated by the [[ApocalypseCult Mythic Dawn]], but not before seemingly accidentally freeing yet another convict from the Imperial City Prison (the PC). The PC then joins the Blades in their search for the last remaining heir to the Empire, Martin Septim, against the backdrop of [[DuringTheWar an ongoing invasion]] from [[TheLegionsofHell Oblivion]] by the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, whom the Mythic Dawn worships. ''Oblivion'' was the first big-name RPG for the 7th generation of consoles, and made full use of the Xbox 360's and Playstation 3's technical capabilities. However, complaints were rampant among series veterans that it had been dumbed-down for casual gamers, what with arrows pointing to your objectives, overdone LevelScaling, and simplified role-playing elements. A simplified "remake" of ''Oblivion'' was released for mobile phones. A PSP version was also planned and demonstrated, but is currently presumed cancelled.[[/index]]
** ''Knights of the Nine'' (2006): The PC investigates a [[BloodstainedGlassWindows brutal attack on the local chapel]] to discover that an ancient EvilSorcerer plans to destroy Cyrodiil and only certain artifacts can defeat him. In order to defeat him, the PC must recover all of the artifacts and [[OrderReborn reestablish the order]] of eponymous Knights of the Nine.
** ''Shivering Isles'' (2007): The PC is summoned by the [[OurGodsAreDifferent Daedric Prince]] [[MadHatter Sheogorath]] to help prevent the [[EternalRecurrence regular destruction]] of his Oblivion realm. As one might expect in the realm of the MadGod himself, there is plenty of absurdity and hilarity which made the expansion an instant critical and fan favorite.

* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' (2011): Set [[TimeSkip 200 years]] after the events of ''Oblivion'', the Tamriellic Empire is [[VestigialEmpire in bad shape]], being slowly picked apart by its reformed ancient rival, the [[AntiHumanAlliance Aldmeri Dominion]] led by the fascistic [[ANaziByAnyOtherName Thalmor]], through means of subterfuge, imposing treaty terms, and outright war. Said imposing treaty terms have caused significant strife in the few remaining provinces of the Empire, with Skyrim itself, homeland of the [[HornyVikings Nords]], erupting into full blown {{Civil War}}. The PC is unintentionally captured by the forces of the Empire along with a contingent of the Stormcloak rebels, including their [[RebelLeader leader]], Ulfric Stormcloak. Moments away from being executed, the PC and the Stormcloaks are saved when Alduin, the "[[BeastOfTheApocalypse World-Eater]]", swoops in and destroys the village. Now with dragons appearing all over Skyrim, the PC discovers that they're the Dovahkiin (Dragonborn) and the only one able to stop Alduin from ushering TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt. ''Skyrim'' was another absolute smash hit for Bethesda, though [[ObviousBeta critical bugs were rampant]] for months after release and the game eventually [[GameBreakingBug became unplayable]] on the [=PS3=] once the save file became large enough, leading to strife within the fandom. A remastered "Special Edition" was released in 2016 for PC, UsefulNotes/XboxONE, and UsefulNotes/PlayStation4. The Special Edition updates ''Skyrim''[='s=] graphics and engine to that of its Bethesda sister property, ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}'', and also includes modding capabilities on console for the first time in the ''ES'' series. In 2017, ''Skyrim'' was also released for UsefulNotes/NintendoSwitch and [=PlayStation=] VR. [[/index]]
** ''Dawnguard'' (2012): The Dragonborn gets involved in a conflict between the newly reformed [[VampireHunter Dawnguard]] and a race of vampires in north-western Skyrim, who wish to fulfill an ancient prophecy and [[TheNightThatNeverEnds permanently blot out the Sun]].
** ''Hearthfire'' (2012): The Dragonborn gets into [[AHomeOwnerIsYou homebuilding]] and childrearing.
** ''Dragonborn'' (2012): The Dragonborn visits Solstheim, previously the setting for ''Bloodmoon'', and faces off against the ''[[EvilCounterpart First]]'' Dragonborn, an undead [[ReligionOfEvil Dragon-Priest]] named Miraak who, like the Dragons, is now seeking to return to life.

* ''The Elder Scrolls VI'' (TBA): The next main installment in the franchise was announced during 2018's UsefulNotes/ElectronicEntertainmentExpo. No details were revealed other than a brief glimpse of what appears to be the game's setting, and development of the title is scheduled to be sometime after ''VideoGame/{{Starfield}}''.

Bethesda has also produced several other games and media set in the ''Elder Scrolls'' universe:

* ''The Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire'' (1997): Originally planned as an expansion for ''Daggerfall'', ''Battlespire'' was released as a spin-off DungeonCrawler. Set during the time period of ''Arena'', the Battlespire, a WizardingSchool for Imperial [[MagicKnight Battlemages]], comes under attack by the forces of Mehrunes Dagon, who seek to use it as a conduit for invading Tamriel. A single student, (the PC), must fight through the Battlespire to defeat Dagon and [[ItsPersonal free their partner]]. It is the only game in the series to include multiplayer, though that addition proved a [[MisbegottenMultiplayerMode spectacular failure]] and Bethesda didn't try it again until ''Online''. A good chunk of the information of the things known about the Daedra originates in this game.

* ''The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard'' (1998): ''Redguard'' is a spin-off ActionAdventure game with very few RPG elements. Some 400 years before ''Arena'', a Redguard by the name of Cyrus travels home to find his sister missing and himself embroiled in a web of political intrigue. It was well received by critics and fans, but due to the cost of production and being built on outdated technology, it was a financial flop. The ''Pocket Guide to the Empire'', [[{{Feelies}} which came with the game]], gave one of the first comprehensive looks at the series' [[{{Backstory}} background lore]], which would be greatly expanded on in future games.

* ''The Elder Scrolls Travels'' (2003-2004): A series of small, mobile phone games developed for Java-enabled devices, including the UsefulNotes/NGage. These include ''Dawnstar'' (2003), ''Stormhold'' (2004), and ''Shadowkey'' (2004). The canonicity of each [[CanonDiscontinuity unclear at best]].

* ''[[Literature/TheElderScrolls The Elder Scrolls Novels]]'' (2009-2011): ''The Infernal City'' (2009) and ''Lord of Souls'' (2011) by Greg Keyes. Set forty years after ''Oblivion'', they tell of the appearance of the floating city of Umbriel in Tamriel and the devastation it wrought.

* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsOnline'' (2014): An {{MMORPG}} prequel to the main ''Elder Scrolls'' series, set during the Second Era interregnum between the fall of the Akaviri Potentate and the rise of the Septim Dynasty. The PC has had their soul stolen by the Daedric Prince Molag Bal, and they must stop him as he attempts to take over Tamriel. Meanwhile, the Ruby Throne is empty, and three alliances vie for control of Cyrodiil and the Empire. Originally subscription based, it went "Buy to Play" in March 2015, meaning you only need to buy the game to play it.[[/index]]

* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsLegends The Elder Scrolls: Legends]]'' (2015): A digital strategy card game for PC and tablet, which features a story mode (taking place around the Great War before the events of ''Skyrim'') in addition to normal matches.

* ''The Elder Scrolls: Blades'' (2018): Revealed during the 2018 Bethesda E3 Showcase, Blades is an all-new ''Elder Scrolls'' game set in an (as of yet) unknown time. It features an exiled member of The Blades, and aside from exploring [[ProceduralGeneration procedurally-generated dungeons]], the player can also build towns and [[GladiatorSubquest fight other players in an arena]]. Set to launch in fall 2018, Blades will be free-to-play on iPhone, iPad and Android devices at the time of release, with PC and VR versions also announced with cross-play capability across systems.


An Elder Scrolls Anthology was released in 2013 for the PC. It includes every game in the main series (''Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim'') along with all the add-ons and expansions for the most recent three.

''The Elder Scrolls'' has inspired many world-building projects, such as ''Literature/TheUutakMythos''.

!!The Series as a whole provides examples of:

* TheElderScrolls/Tropes0ToA
* TheElderScrolls/TropesB
* TheElderScrolls/TropesC
* TheElderScrolls/TropesD
* TheElderScrolls/TropesE
* TheElderScrolls/TropesF
* TheElderScrolls/TropesG
* TheElderScrolls/TropesH
* TheElderScrolls/TropesIToJ
* TheElderScrolls/TropesKToL
* TheElderScrolls/TropesM
* TheElderScrolls/TropesNToO
* TheElderScrolls/TropesPToR
* TheElderScrolls/TropesS
* TheElderScrolls/TropesTToU
* TheElderScrolls/TropesVToZ
* ''Literature/TheElderScrollsInUniverseBooks'' (Covers the various {{In Game Novel}}s found in the games from ''Daggerfall'' on)