Why is Daedric equipment so vanishingly rare in Morrowind, common in Oblivion, and uncommon but present in Skyrim? Well, what happened during Oblivion? Mundus was invaded by the daedra, the upper echelons of whom use Daedric equipment. Of course everyone's using the stuff at that point — it's the spoils of war, whereas before, there were only a few pieces lying around. Then in Skyrim, two hundred years later, it's rare to find any lying around, but expert smiths know how to craft it. This is presumably because while most of the gear left over from the war would have been lost or destroyed by now, but Tamrielic smiths had plenty of time to study it!
I got to thinking, what makes the Mantella a suitable power source for Numidium in place of the Heart of Lorkhan? Surely if all Numidium needed was the soul of a powerful magician, then the Empire could just create a new Mantella for it. So why the Underking's soul specifically? Because the Underking is an avatar of the god Shor, who is the Nordic aspect of Lorkhan. Thus the Underking's soul is a part of Lorkhan as well. The Mantella, in a sense, is an artificial heart made of tissue from Numidium's original heart.
It always confused me how, if you're playing an Argonian born under the sign of the Shadow, and are a member of the Dark Brotherhood, you are still able to kill Scar-Tail in "The Renagade Shadowscale" since it's illegal for a Shadowscale to kill another Shadowscale. Then, it hit me. Of course you're allowed to do it because you weren't part of the Shadowscale. The game treats you as if you weren't born in the Argonian homeland/somehow got skipped over, therefore, you were never a part of that system even if you were born under the required sign. THAT'S why you're able to kill another Shadowscale.
The locals of Bravil must think it odd that you regularly rock up to speak to the statue of the Lucky Old Lady. Oh wait, didn't you escape when Patrick, I mean Uriel Septim and the Blades made a break for it through your cell and then went on to become a hero? Lucky. Yeah, it's understandable that you'd come back weekly to thank her.
On that note, spending time in prison lowers your skill levels. You start the games on Level 1 with almost no skills. Your character must have been in prison a long time, eh?
I used to hate Oblivion because it was everything Morrowind wasn't re-hashing of utterly classical Sword&Sorcery fantasy with knights in shining plate armor and so on, completely Western-like culture anyone can instantly relate to, gothic architecture and radiant meadows everywhere for a major * yawn* of been-there-done-that, simplified mechanics to the max... Then I hit the painting quest which I found genuinely clever, and I started to play it as its own game rather than as Morrowind: Part Deux, and realized that, as far as classical Role Playing Games go, that one's really not bad at all. It grew on me from then on. —Kobal2
Normally, I was always complaining about why my old Radeon 9550 video card won't be able to handle the awesome graphics of Oblivion, rendering it unplayable. But now that I've read this entry, I have a renewed respect for Morrowind. The cultures there are not totally alien and one can relate to them, but they're different enough to give the game an unique feel. You don't see the Arabic-like Hlaalu architecture everywhere. —Da_Nuke
Corvus Umbranox. His last name can be translated from Latin as "Shade of Night." He is also the Gray Fox, who wears the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Night and Darkness. —Apocalemur
And his first name means "raven". They really piled on the shadowy symbolism with this guy; anyone who speaks Latin knows something's up with the Umbranoxes as soon as they see the name.
For the longest time I couldn't understand why the Dwemer are called dwarves when they're nothing like them. Then I realized that they actually are very dwarfy - they're reclusive, they live in underground strongholds carved into the mountains, they're superb metalsmiths and engineers, they don't get along with the (other) elves, and they have big, long beards. Bethsoft managed to keep the archetype almost completely intact, yet due to fresh visual portrayal they're unique and exciting again insted of the usual "like Tolkien's dwarves, but _____".
They are called 'dwarves' because one of the oldest sources for information, in-game, was giants who'd interacted with them. To a giant, of course they were dwarves.
In Norse Mythology, there are the svartálfar, which literally means "black elves". They're also called "dwarves".
In Morrowind, the first thing you hear, even before the main menu appears, is the deep rumble of a beating heart. The rhythm continues throughout the whole piece, and, since the music plays during regular gameplay, permeates the entire island of Vvardenfell.
When you first meet Sheogorath in the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion he introduces himself as 'Prince of Maddness, and other things. I'm not telling right now.' Sounds like Sheogorath just being Sheogorath right? Well, later you learn that Sheogorath is also Jyggalag the Daedric Prince of Order. He wasn’t joking, he was foreshadowing the big reveal!
Sheogorath is also the patron of Expressiveness and the Arts, so it might as well be Sheogorath being Sheogorath.
The Artificial Atmospheric Actions in Oblivion actually are a little more justified in Shivering Isles. Why? Because everyone in Shivering Isles is insane, that's why. Of course that's why they just walk around not minding about Runs-in-circles going "Ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni" or watching that old man in Highcross yelling "FILTHY PICKPOCKET! Pickpocket! Pickpocket!" at a random tree...to them, that's just another day.
I always thought that the Nerevarine Prophecies were sort of a cop-out since your becoming the Nerevarine didn't really fulfill any of the hopes the Ashlanders had, like "striking down the Tribunal's false gods". Then it hit me. All of the Tribunal's gods DO fall over the course of the game. Sotha Sil is murdered by a mad Almalexia. Almalexia is literally struck down by the player character (the Nerevarine). Vivec also falls from grace because of the appearance of the Nerevarine, realizing that he needs to step down as head of the Temple. So, the Nerevarine indirectly struck down the gods of the Tribunal. Brilliant.
The destruction of the Heart of Lorkhan too; it's implied that Vivec's godlike powers will fade over time with the Heart destroyed. And of all of this, Azura put the Nerevarine on the path to do it, which can be a little bit unsettling, the more of her you know. Azura in Morrowind seems like a contradiction, being a genuinely benevolent creature that's trying to help save the nation; doing good and saving the land, where all the other Daedra are avatars of chaos in various forms. But the more one studies her, the more disturbing her behavior becomes. Ultimately, despite being one of the "Good Daedra" that the Tribunal believes can be trusted, it was Azura who succeeded in wiping out their gods, where the likes of Molag Bal and Mehrunes Dagon had failed before. She cursed the Tribunal's people into becoming the dark elves, she destroyed their gods, and then comes Skyrim, and we find out that at some point since, the entire island of Vvardenfell was destroyed in a volcanic eruption from Red Mountain. Man, do not cross Azura; she never lets go of a grudge.
It's been considered odd that all of the Ayleid cities seem to consist of temples and crypts, nothing more. But the Ayleids were masters of necromancy. Suddenly you realize that what you're looking at is a giant industrial park, for an economy based on undead labor. Also, considering what Pelinal Whitestrake did to them, it's entirely possible that the temples and the crypts were all that he left standing.
Shivering Isles one: if you attack Sheogorath, he teleports you above the Hill of Suicides, where you fall to your death. But wait, why there specifically? ...because being stupid enough to attack a god MUST be suicide!
This becomes even more brilliant when you consider that at the end of the expansion you become Sheogorath.
Why is the culture of Cyrodiil in Oblivion so different from what's described in the Pocket Guide to the Empire included with Redguard? Because Redguard is a prequel. Civilisations change over time, especially over hundreds of years.
This is actually explicitly stated (in the Mythic Dawn Commentaries and by a text quoted in Skyrim by Heimskr) to be because Tiber Septim used CHIM to change Cyrodiil.
I wouldn't say 'explicitly stated" as CHIM is not a proven, definitive part of lore. At best it can be said to have supporting evidence that was delicately placed into the games. At worst, it is a running gag at video games and the nature of playing them.
"CHIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King Once Jungled." - from Cot MX 3, and about as obvious as they could make it without actually beating the player over the head with it.
Or as stated it's just a running gag poking fun at the process of video games. YMMV on this topic; CHIM is highly controversial among fans with some seeing brilliance where others see stupidity.
The Dwemer disappeared long ago in the past, and one possible theory is that they Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence. When you consider that the Dwemer were a race whose hat was practically Jerkassery, the fact that Tamriel is a complete crapsack world could make a lot more sense.
As controversial as "The Arcturian Heresy" is within the fandom, it becomes perhaps one of the greatest bits of irony in the series if true. Talos, who the Nords worship as a warrior god and the hero of their people, is primarily Tiber Septim, who was a manipulative, backstabbing Breton that gained the throne almost entirely by magic and through shady acts like assassination. And the other two men who make up Talos—Ysmir Wulfharth and Zurin Arctus—were both best known as a spellcasting lich, the Underking.
The lore concept of "Mantling" (A sort of reverse-reincarnation where, rather than being born with the soul of someone else, you become them by acting as them) makes perfect sense with some of The Elder Scrolls more unique gameplay elements:
In most Role Playing Games, you level your characters by grinding in any way possible and then upgrading a specific skill, setting your character on a mostly-predetermined path. Meanwhile, in Elder Scrolls games, your individual skills level as you use them. Whereas in Fallout, you can become a thief by going around fighting enemies head-on and slowly, deliberately pouring skill points into Sneak, in The Elder Scrolls, you become a master thief by choosing to be a master thief when it is necessary.
In The Elder Scrolls, you are normally free to do whatever you want, up to and ignoring the main questline past the tutorial with few ill-effects. In other words, you are not the hero of legend that canonically defeats the adversary at the end of the line unless you want to be. The reason so many people doubt you are the Nerevarrine in Morrowind? Because, unless you choose to complete the main quest, you, for all intents and purposes, aren't playing as the Nerevarrine.
Why does your character always start with offensive fire spells? Because it's handy for purifying water! Pretty much every spell you start with would have a practical use for even the most hard line sword-and-board warrior, and they're basic enough that anyone can learn them.
Why does Alduin attack Helgen? Because he sensed a dragon soul there and went to investigate it. When he found out that there was no (immortal) dragon there, he tried to kill the only thing that could cause his downfall.
Considering how many sources of Cure Disease there are in most of the games, it's hard to take Vampirism very seriously as a disease. In Oblivion, curing early-stage vampirism is even as easy as eating a mandrake root raw. You'd think that would be common knowledge for travellers. However, it also explains why most vampires are Always Chaotic Evil: they chose to succumb to the disease (even the ones who later regretted it, like Count Hassildor), rather than seeking a cure before it became irreversible.
This may hold for vampires that were created the usual way (i.e. by infection), but Dawnguard implies that as least some vampires did not become so willingly, Serana being one of them.
Draugr in Skyrim are randomly generated, and so it's possible for a draugr to spawn with a female body and a bearded face. Those who are familiar with Norse mythology (which Skyrim is heavily inspired by) might have heard of a story of how the reason women don't have beards is because it was supposedly used in a potion, along with the sound of a cat's footsteps and other such things that don't exist. This story claims that women had beards thousands of years ago, and so, in a moment of Fridge Brilliance, it actually makes sense for female draugr to have beards since they lived thousands of years ago.
The only human race that does not revere Lohkan and the only elven race that does not hate him are the Redguard and the Dunmer respectively. For the Redguard, they are explicitly said to not be descended from the Nedes so it make sense that the Bretons, Imperials, and Nords to share a common belief but a Redguard to not be included since they have their own culture even with each god having an equivalent in each of the four human cultures. As for the Dunmer, they are Daedra worshippers and Daedra are the embodiment of change. Without Lokhan, there would be no change so there is no reason to mark him as an enemy.
One thing that struck me on my first playthrough of 'Skyrim' (I can't speak for the other games in the series, having not played them) was the relatively high proportion of female characters I encountered in my travels (a completely amateur guess would be that something like 40-50% of the characters I met, significant or otherwise, were women), and what's more, the number of them who were warriors, when in the kinds of societies 'Skyrim' is based on, most of those roles (soldiers, bandits, guards, smiths) would have been taken by men. But then it occurred to me that, as there is a war going on, most of the able-bodied men would be away fighting, meaning that most of their jobs at home would be inherited by sisters, daughters and mothers (much like in Britain during the First World War, where the absence of men at home meant that factories and farms began to employ a lot more women). Fittingly, a lot of the men you meet in the game are either:
physically not fit for battle (like the guards with their universal knee injuries, if we assume that 'arrow in the knee' is to be taken literally - while they can keep law and order in a town, they're probably not much use on the battlefield)
too old for battle (you meet a few aged, homeless veterans, whose plight also makes sense if you consider that cultures that value dying a warrior's death would probably have less provision for those who survive a lot of battles and live to a ripe old age)
mercenaries (meaning that they don't answer to the main armed forces, but rather to whoever's paying them the most)
employed in other careers (clergymen, apothecaries, stewards and so on) that would probably be exempt from military service
The chosen sybil of Dibella is always a young girl.
They are considered saints, it would be a parents' dream coming true.
Plus they'd hopefully not be teaching her the, uh, 'Dibellan Arts' too early.
The Mudcrab Merchant, while some may view it as a joke. A worse case scenario is Sheogorath probably gave the wish of a mortal servant to be immortal and turned him into a sentinent mudcrab, ensuring old age will never get him...
Considering a certain quest line in Skyrim, this may have been the work of Clavicus Vile.
The Lusty Argonian Maid seems funny to you? The Lusty Native American Maid wouldn't be considered funny, would it? The Argonians are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Native Americans, most likely Mayincatec. It's actually a play about a sexualised woman of colour, and one doing menial work at that!