Actually, the war can draw a parallel with many revolutionary wars through history. Probably the most striking resemblance is the Germanic wars (especially the Varus Wars), with the Imperials being very closely based off the Roman legionaries in their armour design, culture and names. Nordic culture in-game also has something of a resemblance to Germanic culture in history.
Interestingly enough, the Imperials wear red (like the British) and the Stormcloaks wear blue (like the Continental soldiers).
A better way to see this is a war between prosperity and honor; do you sacrifice what precious dignity you have left to maintain a wealthy but empty lifestyle or fight for what you believe in?
If what you believe in is to support Talos, then keep in mind that Talos accomplished his greatest feats by planning, strategy, trickery, diplomacy, acceptance of other races, and prosperity. For example, just look at the way he got Morrowind and the Summerset Isle into the Empire. In fact, the only territory he is said to have conquered outright, with no diplomatic attempts, is Black Marsh.
Actually, Black Marsh was never successfully invaded, and was peacefully incorporated by treaty into Tiber Septim's Empire by treaty. It is covered in the lore-book A Short History of Morrowind.
Which in turn reveals some of the posturing from both the Empire and the Stormcloaks. For its part, the Empire never represented a homogeneous, unified continent the way it pretends, as some of its cultures and inhabitants were treated as practically alien such as the Khajit, Argonian and to a lesser extent the Bosmer and Dunmer. For their part, the Nords see Talos as a peerless conqueror and rightful king, ignoring examples such as Black Marsh, where his conquest consisted of venturing far enough to set up an outpost and calling it a day.
And there are honorable people on both sides. Only a couple of minor Imperial-supporting characters, like Erikur, play the "dishonorable Imperials" trope straight. There's also Sorli the Builder, who seems to be a more benign version of Erikur on the Stormcloak side (if they win the war, that is).
The Ebony Blade you get from the Daedric Prince Mephala gains power by betraying and killing your friends. Inexplicably, it also gains power if you use it on members of the Dark Brotherhood, even if you chose to destroy them straight out without any betrayal. However, going back to Morrowind, the Dark Brotherhood had a rival assassins guild, the Morag Tong, whose patron was none other than... the Daedric Prince Mephala.
More in tune with the blade's ability, you were channeling the betrayal of Astrid's trust into the blade. The blade feeds on how Astrid compromised the Dark Brotherhood by allowing a disloyal member into a chance at initiation without preparing for the possibility of reprisal.
Not necessarily. Astrid never divulges the location or password to the Falkreath Sanctuary if you kill her; you have to go to Commander Maro who conveniently found out the pertinent information.
Alternatively, if becoming the Listener was a role the Dragonborn was meant to assume, then they did, in effect, betray their potential comrades by never assuming their rightful position.
It could also be that turning on Astrid counts as a betrayal because she brought you to the shack to repay what she considered a debt (stealing a kill), and turning on her violated what was, from her perspective, a binding agreement. The subsequent deaths are all extensions of that betrayal, thus strengthening the blade.
Boots, which can be enchanted to boost one and two handed weapon damage. At first this seems odd, but once one learns of Kinetic Linking (a technique used by almost all martial arts in real life, see this video for more details), it makes perfect sense.
The mudcrabs from Morrowind◊ look different from the ones in Skyrim◊ because the scenery is different, so the mudcrabs have to change how they look to fit their environment for camouflage.
Why are there no mer children? As in, why do we not see Orc, Khajiit, Argonian, Bosmer, Dunmer, or Altmer children?
Argonians are presumably cold-blooded, thus why we see few adult Argonians in Skyrim. Argonian parents may not want to bring their kids to such a harsh environment.
There are at least as many Argonians as there are Khajiits, and none of them seem to complain about the weather. It's not impossible to say they could be endothermic (i.e. warm-blooded).
How human-like an adult Argonian is depends on the amount of sap they ingest from the Hist (ancient, magical and sentient trees who act as the leaders, politicians and law-makers of the Argonians) on their naming day. This ritual also make the Argonians part of the Hist-Argonian Hive Mind. Since the Hist are only found in Black Marsh, it's likely that Argonians generally don't have children outside of Black Marsh, and that those who are hatched never venture far from their homeland until they are adults.
Khajiits aren't even welcomed into Skyrim's cities, so why would Khajiit parents subject their child to this treatment?
Similarly, elves live a long time, anywhere from a few centuries to a few millenniums, so the younger-looking elves may very well be 'children' in elven years even though they're adults in our eyes.
There're no Elves in-game who are treated as children by their compatriots, though. Bethesda have been rather inconsistent on the nature of elven aging before, and it's likely they just didn't want to add more fuel to the inconsistency fire.
Orcs? Probably the same as the Khajiits.
In addition, the chieftain is the only Orc inside his respective stronghold who is allowed to father children. As such, it's possible that they have been abstaining from sex for years in order to conserve their food supply and maintain the current populations of their strongholds.
I think I've figured out why some guards seem to follow Sithis after you've completed the Dark Brotherhood, yet still attack you when you attack them: They do not follow Sithis at all. They're only saying "Hail Sithis" because they're likely thinking, "Okay, if we just tell him/her what he/she wants to hear, he/she won't try to kill us."
It's also equally possibly that the guards might recognize you as being a Dark Brotherhood Assassin, but cannot just outright kill or arrest you; thus, they try to get you to drop your guard and spill the beans that you're an assassin by making you think that they are, too, so they can arrest you when you return the greeting, proving yourself to be an advocate of the Night Mother.
Or maybe they revere Sithis as a God (He's one of the original two gods, apparently) and have a respect/fear for the Dark Brotherhood, as His disciples. And, since they have no evidence of the murders you've committed, and thus you both know they're not a threat, they feel safe letting you know that they know who you are, and that they're a fan.
Towards the end of Clavicus Vile's quest, you are given the choice to side with either Vile, who is trapped inside a statue, or his talking dog Barbas. Clavicus Vile is the daedric prince of wishes and pacts, and is known toscrewpeopleover. Barbas acts as a sort of external conscience, doing his best to stop Vile from taking and/or ruining too many lives. At Barbas' request, you can convince Vile to reunite with him, a favor which gives you the Masque of Clavicus Vile, an ebony helmet that grants you boosts to speech and magicka regeneration. Clavicus, on the other hand, asks you to kill Barbas with the Rueful Axe, a weapon you just tracked down from a man who received it from Vile himself upon asking for a "cure" for his daughter's lycanthropy. Killing Barbas with the axe allows you to keep it. However, as many unlucky adventurers would find out much later, unlike the Masque of Clavicus Vile, the Rueful Axe isn't a daedric artifact, and thus does not count towards the Oblivion Walker achievement - which essentially means that you're going to have to play through the game from the beginning to get the achievement (unless you have an earlier save or knowledge of a certain exploit, which even then might not work, depending on your choices in the other daedric quests). You killed the Morality Chain of the greatest Jackass Genie in the entire universe, exactly what were you expecting?
The rightmost skill in each of the Fighter, Mage, Thief categories in the skill perk constellation screen is a skill in one category, but may be highly useful in the archetype purview directly to the right; Alchemy is in the Thief purview but is often also a Mage discipline, Enchanting is useful for Warrior types who want magic effects but not spells, and Archery gives warriors range power otherwise available only to Mage ranged casts, but is also useful for the Thief purview since you can strike hidden from afar.
It actually goes both ways - the leftmost of each branch is highly useful to the left one as well: smithing is great for mages who want to make their own equipment instead of buying it, same as enchantment; light armor is a perfectly legitimate substitute for heavy armor that warriors can wear; and illusion would be highly useful for sneaking.
Enchanting and Smithing could be next to each other for a good reason. How many times have you forged a new sword, helmet or such, and then immediately gone to your nearest Enchanting table to power it up?
You may notice that you can't fast travel to any of the Hold capitals, even though they're marked on your map, until you have actually been there once. This may seem strange to players of Oblivion, because in that game you not only knew their locations, but you could fast travel to the main cities. This is because the game begins shortly after you first crossed the border from Cyrodiil, where you have been for perhaps your entire life, and it's entirely possible that you've never once been to Skyrim. Of course you wouldn't know how to get anywhere! Kudos, Bethesda.
That, and there's the other, teeny-tiny fact that the entire province would be under martial law, and asides from the regular troubles regular overland travel of that scope likely broke down, what with the fighting and the searches the two sides would logically have to search for and stop any unwanted guests. This, by extension, forces the player to actually get in the hard way. After all, if fast travel was enabled for the Hold capitals and the like, what'd prevent a card-carrying and well known member of the Legion from walking up to Ulfric's doorstep for whatever reason (and vice-versa with a Stormcloak in the areas under Imperial control). Even at the height of the Oblivion Crisis, it was always characterized as an external invasion with the help of a handful of quislings from the Mythic Dawn, and by and large anybody with a pulse was welcome. The civil war in Skyrim is a good old fashioned war in Mundus, and so there's far more incentive to take security precautions against infiltrators.
I always assumed that fast travel was following the known roads. Until you have visited the place, you do not know the safe routes or such. After you have visited, you know them and can "fast travel" (AKA skip seeing the same stuff you have already seen). You can get a carriage to take you to all capitals, which also gives you a pretty good idea on the safe routes to reach the place.
This troper always assumed that fast travel was something only the Dragonborn could do, so the civil war complications weren't really a factor.
One thing that's raised a few eyebrows is the way the Smithing perk tree works. Dragon Armor requires a Smithing skill of 100 to forge, even though it's statistically inferior to Daedric armor, which only requires 90. Turns out there's probably a good reason for this: because dragons are so rare in Tamriel and have only recently begun to appear in mass numbers, hardly any smith has any experience working with dragon bones and scales! The most recently known case of such an armor was the Dragonbone Cuirass forged near the beginning of the Third Era, about 600 years before the events of Skyrim. Your character needs to effectively invent the technique him/herself, and to do that, they need to be a master smith!
Though on a more technical viewpoint, there are only a handful of Ebony veins and much fewer Daedra for hearts, while you can get from four to six pieces of dragon spoils per dragon, and they are very plentiful.
If you're having trouble finding enough ebony the Gloombound Mine in Narzulbur (orc stronghold SE of Windhelm) has about 20 ebony veins and yields enough ore to craft and fully upgrade a suit of ebony armour with ingots to spare.
For heavy armor, yes, Daedric armor is superior. However, Dragon Scale armor, the light armor version, is superior to Glass armor, the greatest light armor before the aformentioned Scale armor.
And with dragonbone weapons having been announced for Dawnguard, which are supposedly superior to Daedric weapons, Dragon Smithing can now take its rightful place as the ultimate smithing perk.
It may seem silly when you learn to shout that your character would yell "*insert shout here*!" to unleash the attack, but once you meet the Greybeards this all makes sense. Your character gains a dragon voice but lacks the dragon language to use it. You are exactly like a young baby discovering his voice and babbling incoherently while trying to mimic the adults. Your voice gains power and precision as you learn to speak properly.
It's similar to how a parrot can mimic the voices and language of humans, but have no concept of what it means.
How is it silly? Shouting the words is how it WORKS. Even the dragons can be heard using the words; they show up in the subtitles just like regular dialogue.
As stated by the original poster, one must understand the shout in order to actually use it. That's where (for the Dragonborn) the absorption of a slain dragon's soul comes in (though this can also be acquired when a dragon or Greybeard "shares" his knowledge, as Paarthurnax and the different Greybeards have done), not to mention Paarthurnax's and Arngeir's explanations about actually taking a "shout" into one's being, particularly when the latter is questioned about Dragonrend.
It's rather confusing at first, in both Skyrim and Oblivion, to find that Skooma has no negative effects on the player when used. That is, until you meet an Argonian fisher in Riften who needs a healing potion to break the crippling habit the drug causes. No wonder PCs never get addicted to Skooma — they drink healing potions like mead.
Rather oddly, Morrowind established that a) skooma is a very old drug, b) it is widely known that there is no cure for skooma addiction, c) the cure that is presented emphasises that there is no miracle cure or potion to take. Presumably, someone in those 200 years found that both Confessions of a Skooma-Eater and the Khajiit were wrong, and it is as simple as taking a (healing) potion.
Or possibly, somewhere in the intervening years, a cure for Skooma addiction was discovered/developed, and standardized as an additive to healing potions to keep Nirn from becoming overrun by Skooma-fiends.
Skooma is a Khajiit drug. Khajiit are rare in Skyrim. Note how often drugs in Real Life get mixed with all manner of crap, when there is little of the pure stuff around, and it's prohibited. Simply, skooma in Skyrim is very low quality, mixed with stamina potions or anything else, and this is why its effect is much weaker than in earlier games.
Does this perhaps explain why some bandits, as part of their idle chatter, will mention they need a hit of pure skooma? They're sick of the Skyrim crap?
Listen to the bards in different cities and you might notice that the pro-Stormcloak song, "The Age of Oppression", is completely identical to the pro-Imperial song, "The Age of Aggression", just with the operative words changed to support one side or the other. Somewhere in Skyrim, a bard is a master troll.
Further fridge brilliance, when you go to the Bards' College in Solitude you learn that they are essentially the historians of Skyrim, passing on that history through song. The leader of the college says he doesn't find the war very interesting, because political leadership changes all the time and in a few centuries nobody will remember Ulfric or anyone else, and that the return of the dragons is the real big deal. Basically, the bards half-assed the songs about the war because they don't care about it, while the Dragonborn got his/her own original song because s/he's more historically significant.
This does happen in real life after countries are freed from being ruled by foreign powers. Look no further than the song "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" - or as it's known in England, "God Save The King/Queen". It adds another level of realism to the 'which side are you on' element of the Civil War quest, albeit in a subtle way.
Mercer Frey gets through doors that need keys despite not having the keys himself - he even picks open an ancient Nord puzzle door that would normally require a special sculpted dragon claw. Well, he's the Guild Master of Thieves, and so it's just plot-related NPC superpowers, right? Wrong. He's using the Skeleton Key, and ensures you don't find out by tossing off remarks about the locks just "having a trick" to them that you're too inexperienced to know.
Karliah (a Nightingale) turns invisible when she's cornered by Mercer Frey (also a Nightingale). Brynjolf finds himself unable to resist attacking Karliah when the three of your confront Mercer Frey. Then later as a Nightingale, you are given the choice of three powers. Two of those match the ones you've seen the surviving Nightingales use: Agent of Stealth was used by Karliah, while Agent of Subterfuge was used by Mercer Frey. Presumably Gallus was the Agent of Strife.
Mercer has all three. He casts the absorb health on you during the battle, and will constantly go invisible. It makes sense when you realize the Key unlocks potential.
The battles in the Civil War questline are disorganized melees involving a few dozen participants that don't much resemble the massed-formation fights of real medieval warfare. This is, of course, due to engine limitations... But then you remember that this is a setting in which battlemages and Voice users can kill dozens of men at once with area-of-effect attacks, and god-like champions could wipe out an entire army if too many troops were committed to a single attack. It might very well be that this is just how war is conducted in Tamriel.
Dark Ages warfare was actually quite similar to that of Tamriel. If one considers that civilization probably took a setback from the Oblivion Crisis and all of the other events that took place, one can assume that this change in warfare style is due to regression to barbarism.
Or Skyrim is just like that in the first place.
One of the first people you meet in Sovngarde is a Stormcloak soldier who describes his death; his unit was ambushed by the Imperials, formed up a shield wall to defend, and even looked to be turning the tide around before an arrow caught him in the throat. So it would seem actual warfare is a bit more organized than that.
Most battles we actually see are either assaults on forts or random clashes between small patrols, both of which are situations where formations aren't needed that much and might not even be possible to use.
According to a book in-game on the Elder Scrolls, there are four kinds of Elder Scroll readers: The first, completely uninitiated, who just see a weird chart with formations that resemble stellar constellations. The second, which knows just enough about reading the Scrolls to know what they mean but lack the training to receive it, are struck blind immediately, and might have received some fragment of past, present, or future insight from the Scroll. The third are the properly learned readers, usually Moth Priests, and have their eyesight decay over time while they take in a much more controlled form of the knowledge within the Scroll. The fourth are those who have had their Penultimate Reading, where they divine that their next reading will be their last and they'll be permanently blind. So... what category does the Dragonborn go in? At first, it seems that it'd be a combination of Category 1 and 3: the Dragonborn does not receive any special knowledge, but nonetheless temporarily loses his/her vision. Why this strange effect? Simple: the book only takes mortal readers into account. The Dragonborn is a mortal that has the soul of a creature that exists outside of time.
Actually, it's quite simple how the Dovahkiin is able to read the Scroll without major side effects. According to The Other Wiki, individuals who are cosmically important or those who are part of the Scroll's prophesies are able to read it without permanent damage. Paarthurnax tells the Dragonborn point-blank that their prophecy is written in the Elder Scrolls, which means s/he can read it unharmed.
Many have called the Khajiit hypocrites for conforming to the exact negative stereotypes they're complaining about. But who's to say that the ambient atmosphere of racism and distrust didn't actually chase off all of the honest Khajiit to begin with?
Alternatively, the conditions forced on them are so awful that their lives actually improve by embracing their stereotypes.
The same goes, arguably moreso, for the Argonians, who are known mostly as thieves and bandits as well.
It's also implied through dialogue throughout the series that Khajiiti culture just has something of a Blue and Orange Morality compared to the rest of Tamriel.
Cicero being able to fight the rest of the Dark Brotherhood may come off as a basic Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass moment, but his journal reveals that he's an exceptionally skilled assassin, and lore states that being appointed Keeper is a process overseen by the Black Hand. The Keeper is also supposed to protect the Night Mother's body, so it stands to reason that the Black Hand would appoint one of their most skilled assassins for the job.
Why does the Dark Brotherhood never show up to answer Aventus Aretino's Black Sacrament? Simple - no Listener to learn of it from the Night Mother. Adults would know well enough to try contact the assassins in a more personal manner, but Aventus is a child so he'd be more inclined to believe the old tales on how to summon the Brotherhood.
But the notes you find on assassins' corpses say "someone has performed the Black Sacrament."
This can be explained by the assassins simply picking up rumors of someone performing the sacrament. Aventus' attempts to contact the Brotherhood hit the rumor mill pretty early in the game. Presumably this is also how Astrid finds you after you steal the Brotherhood's kill.
Yep. Maven Black-Briar performed the Black Sacrament in secret behind a locked door in her basement. Thus no one knew she had done it. You can find a note in the room complaining that she'd performed the sacrament weeks earlier, and it was unprofessional that no one had yet shown up.
Astrid will tell you this after Cicero arrives, if you talk to her about it.
That's how I understood it as well. Astrid basically tells you that they get their hits through word-of-mouth and secondhand contact but keep people believing that it was their magical ceremony that summoned them. Then Cicero shows up with the real Night Mother, Astrid gets all bent out of shape, and things go totally wonky from here.
When creating your character, scars mostly go on the left side of the face. Most people in Skyrim are right-handed, and so any blow struck by them would inflict wounds which then leave scars on the left side of their opponent.
The reason the Khajiit traders aren't allowed in the city, but a Khajiit player is, is because the player isn't offering people skooma or moon sugar. (Or, if they are, no one's caught them yet.)
Similar Fridge Brilliance can be presented on the Khajiiti followers and how the Dragonborn can bring them with him/her in cities without any protest. With J'Zargo, who is a mage, it would make sense if Skyrim's populace figured J'Zargo would have no interest in Moon Sugar outside of its alchemical properties (and even that's unlikely, as J'Zargo has shown no interest in Alchemy). With Kharjo, you're looking at a Khajiit that's dressed in steel plate armor almost all the time, which would undermine the idea of him being a thief as it would be difficult for him to sneak around in heavy armor.
Having a bounty equal to assault placed on you just for killing a chicken seems like Disproportionate Retribution, but it makes sense when you consider Skyrim's setting. In our own world, stealing or killing someone else's livestock used to be a pretty serious crime, to the point where as little as a century ago it could be punishable by death.
It also makes sense if you consider the fact that livestock was often thought of as family in Ancient Rome.
The possible reason why so many things have changed between Oblivion and Skyrim: Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric prince of, among other things, Change. So his plans to take over Tamriel heralded a time of change. He was the cause of the Septim bloodline's destruction, causing the Thalmor to rise and revolt against the now-weakened Empire. Some even say that Vivec is taken by the Daedra during the Oblivion crisis.
All the references to Dagon in Skyrim come from one rather awestruck descendant of a Mythic Dawn cultist, who is rather shocked when you mention Dagon has ordered you to kill him. If he had been around during the Oblivion Crisis itself, his tone would have been remarkably different.
You're charged for assault if you directly attack Thalmor, but the guards won't charge you for murder if you kill Thalmor. That's because everyone in Skyrim hates the Thalmor, but they have to charge you for something for attacking them. The guards also won't raise a finger if the Thalmor attack you first (unless you're Thane, in which case they help you) - again, because the guards really hate the Thalmor.
Moreover, you're only charged with assault in Imperial-controlled holds, whereas the Stormcloak holds won't give you a bounty at all because they are outright hostile toward the Thalmor and will kill them on sight.
Technically, though, the Thalmor has repeatedly stated to their operatives that anyone who is found dead will left as deniable assets. While they will investigate for the sake of paperwork (hence the 40 gold fine), they will not go beyond the details of the death beyond "death by Stormcloak/bandit/Imperial titdrinker". Elenwen knows that if she fails, she is next on the block.
In that case, "death by Dragonborn" might be comparable to someone getting killed by willingly running in front of a speeding truck.
Considering what the Thalmor know of Dragonborns (as the last one they know of was FUCKING TALOS!) and how their own lore treats said Dragonborn, you're more right then you know.
Notice that after you deliver Klimmek's supplies to the chest outside High Hrothgar, they never seem to be removed by the Greybeards? Well, that could be because the Greybeards are using the chest (which is outside in the snow) as a fridge.
Paarthurnax's name translates as "Ambition Tyranny Cruelty". Common belief is that this is either A) evidence that Paarthurnax poses a far greater threat to mortals than he seems, or B) evidence that he's fighting his inherent nature far more strongly and nobly than it first seemed, since a dragon's personality is apparently inherently tied to their names. The truth is neither: If Paarthurnax's name reflects his true nature in a language only dragons were supposed to understand, why would his nature, which to the minds of dragons is dominance over mortals, be considered tyrannical or cruel? The answer: His name reflects tyranny and cruelty as the aspiring leader of the dragons, which is further reinforced by Odahviing's comment once you defeat Alduin and return from Sovngarde - "Not all dragons will follow his tyrannical Way of the Voice". This means that despite his efforts, Paarthurnax may not even be defying his nature at all: His nature is to betray and oppress dragonkind.
It also comes with a bit of Blue and Orange Morality. Paarthurnax himself says that it's in a dragon's nature to control and dominate other races by violence. To them, what would be more cruel or tyrannical than imposing a philosophy that utterly rejects that nature?
Paarthurnax states that he has overcome his natural Dragon urge to Dominate. But he is actually Dominating himself.
The first part of his name is "Ambition", which seems kinda odd in that he doesn't have any sort of desire for anything other than sitting on his mountain top teaching old men. However, this is perhaps the most ambitious act of all dragons: to defy the traditions laid down by the Firstborn of Akatosh and to train the very enemies of his race in their own tongue. Quite ambitious from a Draconic perspective.
Moreover, he has the Ambition to eventually become the leader of all Dovah, which would require killing Alduin. He openly works with three warriors hell-bent on killing dragons in ancient times, and later the Dovahkiin who could kill him and eat his soul, and From a Certain Point of View, manipulates all of them into defeating Alduin for him, since he cannot win by himself. Magnificent Bastard indeed...
Other than the Dark Brotherhood, the werewolf Sinding is the only one who doesn't attack you on sight at stage 4 vampirism. This is probably just a gameplay thing. However, considering the story behind his quest is about him not being about to control his bestial nature, it makes sense for him to accept this in the Dragonborn.
Why does Ulfric make a demand for Markarth during the Greybeards' peace council? It's cut off from the rest of his forces, meaning that, while it is near Solitude, it will instantly be recaptured after the truce wears off, so the tactical advantage is negated. He was the one who chose to have the Forsworn executed when he first came across them, and he wants to personally make sure they are crushed by putting Thongvor Silver-Blood, the one throwing them into Cidhna Mine, in charge, so he has the power to execute them.
Why do you have immediate access to the Dragonrend Shout? Why don't you need to absorb a dragon's soul for it? Because dragon souls work by allowing you to tap into their knowledge of a word! But the words for Dragonrend (Mortal Finite Temporary) are words that the immortal dragons are completely incapable of comprehending, while you as a mortal understand these words perfectly - thus, instant access!
More specifically, dragon souls allow the Dovahkiin to understand the word as it applies to a particular Shout. While the dragons probably understand "Mortal," "Finite," and "Temporary" on their own, they don't understand them in the way they're used in Dragonrend.
The reason Skyrim has a strong bardic tradition despite otherwise being a textbook Proud Warrior Race culture? It all comes back to when the Thu'um was still being used as a weapon. Back then, talking wasn't that much different than fighting, and the warrior who could control and project their voice the most would be more valuable on the battlefield than the one with the strongest sword-arm. In ancient Skyrim, even the bards were Badass!
It probably helped that we have real-world (where, obviously, words couldn't literally set something on fire) examples of Proud Warrior Race cultures maintaining fairly strong poetic traditions - like, say, the skalds of the Norse.
The Thu'um was never used widely enough for it to be incorporated into the common songs and poetry of bards; even if they had been, actually using it would have been incomprehensible (since it only works with dragon language) and dangerous (because, well, Thu'um). However, the Nords associate longevity with being remembered, and people go forgotten unless there's someone around to talk about them after they're gone. In Skyrim, the victors don't write the history, the bards do.
It seems odd that the Imperials, a race known for being "shrewd diplomats and traders," get a whopping 0 free points to their Speech skill, but think about it; the Aldmeri Dominion just gave the Empire a major beating and forced them to trade away the worship of their own patron god, and about half of Skyrim sees your people as little more than Thalmor patsies. The Voice of the Emperor just doesn't go as far as it did back when the Septims still reigned.
The reason Ulfric is the only Stormcloak with a gag in the opening? It's not just to keep him from speaking; it's to keep him from shouting.
While understandable for balance reasons, I never really understood how, in-universe, the cooldown between shouts could be justified. Why can't you just keep shouting and shouting until everything's dead, like the Dragons can? Then it hit me: The "cooldowns" are just you trying to catch your breath after releasing such powerful shouts. The more powerful the shout, the more winded you are, and the more time you need to catch your breath so you can shout again. Dragons can get away with shouting over and over because they have powerful lungs so they can recover their breaths more quickly. You're just a mere mortal man/elf/beast-thingy, your lungs weren't built to withstand the power of the dragon shout... Still, it's fun using console commands to reduce the cooldown timer to zero for each shout. :P
Why do the Greybeards have no cooldown? They've been using the Thu'um for so long that their lungs have adapted to the Voice.
Why does the Call Dragon shout have a whopping cooldown of 300 seconds? You just used a shout that reverberated throughout all of Skyrim. You're definitely gonna be winded after doing that.
This isn't entirely true, as Paarthurnax explains that a Dragon can hear its own voice anywhere in the world when spoken as a Thu'um.
Still, your Shout has to technically travel across the entire world to find your dragon ally, so while Odahviing can hear it from anywhere, that Shout still had to travel the map, and you had to put all that power behind it yourself. It's a wonder you don't hack up a lung after using Call Dragon or Storm Call.
If you listen to the initial summoning of the Dovahkiin by the Greybeards, you can hear multiple voices in the shout. In short, the summoning of Odavhiing performed by the Dragonborn can only be matched by the strength of more than one Greybeard. If the old grandpas have adapted lungs to use multiple shouts, you really should be horking up a lung each time you use it!
Paarthurnax mentions that all dragons have the urge to dominate, even the Dragonborn, yourself. Now, the first thing that may come to mind is tendencies of the player to get their hands on as much power as possible. But then you remember that the previous Dragonborn anointed by the Graybeards was none other than the man that would conquer the entire continent of Tamriel, Emperor Tiber Septim. No wonder you can so quickly bring an end to the civil war. Conquest is literally part of who you are.
The First Dragonborn was a Starscream who betrayed the dragons, devoured their souls, and took over Solstheim. Conquest is truly in his genes - and in yours.
The Greybeards make it pretty clear that in order to learn a shout you must have a deep conceptual understanding of the words involved. In that case, let's take a look at Ulfric, whose two shouts of choice are Unrelenting Force and Disarm. This troper believes that if anyone in Skyrim has deep knowledge of Force (Fus) and Defeat (Viik) it would certainly be Ulfric Stormcloak.
Something that you might not notice is that there is a design on the doors of High Hrothgar. It's a strange shape, but when you step back and really look at it, the shape suddenly looks very familiar - it's a dragon's head. The brilliance doesn't kick in until later when you meet the leader of the Greybeards. Paarthunax is a dragon. No wonder the Greybeards have that design on their door!
On the main page, under Acceptable Breaks from Reality, the fact that a few one-pound ingots (among other things) being used to make a thirty-five pound suit of armor is mentioned. In reality, since there's no definite mass/weight unit specified for the weight category of the items, it's possible that the "weight" actually represents the item's relative encumbrance: a single ingot can be tucked somewhere convenient, whereas a suit of armor cannot be stored away in the same manner.
This would also handily explain why weapons are between two and six times as heavy as they would be in real life. Sure, that greatsword might only weigh 6-8 pounds or so, but try carrying ten of them while keeping your hands free for combat.
One small detail I noticed during the 'Mind of Madness' quest: when you go to fix Pelagius's paranoia, you get hit with a cold spell of unknown origin. One could attribute it to something hiding in the shadows, until you realize: it's a path of PARANOIA. It's designed to do that to make you THINK someone is attacking you.
Ever wondered why, when either the Imperials or Stormcloaks take over a city, the guards are replaced by their soldiers, but in the holds they have at the beginning of the game, their guards have uniforms specific to their hold? That's because the soldiers that replace the guards aren't a police force - they're soldiers occupying conquered territory.
Why has the theme music become progressively more clear and defined over the last three games? Because the Dragonborn is coming and it's their fanfare. That's also why it now finally has words!
In "Laid to Rest", if you find out that Alva is a vampire without killing her, she will show up later in Movarth's lair later on as a friendly NPC, and even help you in combat. This is because she was never evil, she was Movarth'sthrall, and killing him ended it.
Actually, that's just a bug; if you return to her coffin on a day when she's there, she still turns hostile. They probably planned for townsfolk to chase her to Movarth's lair if you sneak in during the night and take the diary, but the bug means that she doesn't ever turn hostile unless you enter her coffin room while she is there.
Why can't you complete the civil war questline for either side without going through "Dragon Rising"? Because that's when the player (and Skyrim in general) finds out they're Dragonborn, and the ending sequences on both sides talk about how the Dragonborn should be the one to kill Tullius/Ulfric as it would make for a better story. Not to mention that if you side Stormcloak, Ulfric mentions the player explicitly as Dragonborn in his victory speech.
The Dragon Priest Krosis is located on a dragon-inhabited mountain, and it's possible to wake him up while fighting the dragon. Doing so ends up raising the difficulty greatly, seeing as he's hard to hit and shoots deadly explosive fireballs, and it's even worse if you go up just expecting to deal with a relatively simple-to-fight dragon. Now, his name, Krosis, means "sorrow" in the dragon language - but it can also be used as "sorry". Is naming the Priest "Sorry" their way of apologising for such a nasty surprise?
Dwemer ruins have a very two-tone colour aesthetic- flat silvery white surfaces, with burnished gold and dark trimming. You'll notice all the burnished and dark trimming is on all those pipes, surfaces, and other grates that could emit steam, be very hot, are moving parts, or otherwise be an OSHA issue. All the really big moving parts that aren't part of a trap are behind solid grates. Even the trap pressure plates are clearly marked in gold and dark trimming! Seems OSHA Compliance (at least with warning labels and colours) is alive and well in Tamriel.
Better, most of the traps were to be used on the Falmer, who are blind. Naturally, the trap plates were made very easy to see so Dwemer could avoid them, but the sightless Falmer would run right over them.
Paarthurnax, unlike any other dragon in the game, has a beardlike set of spikes on the underside of his chin. The most obvious reason would be to distinguish him from the other dragons, but it could also be to make him look more like an Asian dragon, who, like Paarthurnax, often appeared as wise and just mentor figures in myths. Or it could be because he's a Greybeard. Maybe both.
A minor one for Erandur: It confused me that even though he has max conjuration, he never uses it as a follower, instead preferring destruction magic. And then I realized, that actually makes perfect sense! Conjuration is the school of magic most associated with necromancy and daedra summoning, the former of which is HEAVILY frowned on in Skyrim. As a former priest of Vaermina, he would have probably learned and then renounced it when he moved on to the worship of Mara... which is why he has the skill maxed and never uses it.
Why does Odahviing only land when he runs out of HP, and only leave once all threats are gone? He doesn't want to be like Alduin, who fled from the player atop the Throat of the World. Odahviing might not be able to fight to the very end, but he will certainly stay to the very end.
When fighting through Labyrinthian, there is a voice that occasionally speaks to you, and your magicka is drained. That voice is Morokei, and he is remotely using the Staff of Magnus to drain your magicka.
Thinking about it, the Dragonborn could quite easily take over the Empire after the game's events if you set it up right - complete the Dark Brotherhood questline, killing Amaund Motierre after the Emperor to create a power vacuum right at the top; side with the Empire against the Stormcloaks so they still have some infrastructure to start with preparing for inevitable war with the Thalmor; either kill Paarthurnax to gain the support of the Blades (historically protectors of the Emperor) or simply declare him/herself to be Dragonborn (starting a new bloodline like Tiber Septim and all) with the Greybeards' blessing and swoop in. Also: Tenth Divine.
That's not even accounting for what the Dragonborn gets from the (as yet released) DLCs. By the end of them all, the Dragonborn is armed with a weapon that can turn off the sun or turn it into a Kill Sat and is thus the Champion of former wielder Auri-El, Altmer variant of Akatosh and their chief god (which will surely give the Thalmor some pause), killed the First Dragonborn and gained his power,(if the player is Imperial-aligned and a Legate) paved the way to reconciliation between the Empire and Morrowind through saving Solstheim from slavery, aiding House Redoran's economic hardship on Raven Rock and joining House Telvanni, and now has the power to control minds as powerful as Dragons' with a few words (read: Dragon Army). At this point, it's almost certain that the Dragonborn is on the path to conquer Tamriel, take the Imperial Throne and utterly crush the Thalmor.
It gets even more likely that this will happen if you complete certain factions' side quests. If you complete the Dark Brotherhood questline (becoming the Listener and de facto leader of the Dark Brotherhood), the Thieves' Guild questline (becoming leader of the Thieves' Guild) and the Companions' questline (becoming Harbinger of the Companions), you have three of Tamriel's greatest assets at your back. You have the best assassins in Skyrim supporting you and could potentially eliminate your enemies. You have the Thieves' Guild to potentially serve as spies, and then you have some of the best fighters in Skyrim potentially supporting your bid for the throne. You can essentially become one of the most powerful men/women in Skyrim, and from there it would not be that hard to imagine you being able to make a bid for the throne, especially if all of the above stated things have happened.
Heck, the game itself seems to vaguely imply as much, not just counting the various circlets you can wear, but there are moments where you're put through a handful of trials that represent certain parts of Talos' life. You meet the ghost of one of his dead comrades; you're trained by the Greybeards; one of the quests involves you having to sit on a throne (however briefly); heck, the Dark Brotherhood part of the game makes it possible for you to dress like an Emperor of Tamriel. If those implications aren't enough to encourage us players to think their Dragonborn will take the throne by the next game, this troper doesn't know what is.
The fact that the game ends without the Moot having ever been called to declare Elisif/Ulfric as the next sovereign of Skyrim leaves the fate of the throne a bit open-ended. At the very least, the door is certainly open for the possibility of the Dragonborn to be declared High King/Queen of Skyrim as thanks for all s/he has done, and from there it would be an easier transition to the Imperial throne - especially if you complete the Dragonborn DLC, where you learn a shout that allows you to tame and ride dragons. If someone with that kind of power said they wanted to rule the world, wouldn't you get the hell out of their way?
If you side with the Stormcloaks and kill the Emperor, it also creates the very real possibility of you becoming emperor. The Emperor is dead and you are now allied to the most powerful man in Skyrim, who is in your debt and has a large, battle hardened army that is flush with success in civil war. surely the The Emperor's death without a obvious successor, at least that we know of, would lead to another bloody interregnum in Cyrodil. Ulfric would almost certainly see this as an opportunity even if the Dragonborn did not and with his army at your disposal, it would be a simple thing to try and press your claim on the throne as a Dragonborn. Ulfric would certainly do it, as it puts a known ally of his on the throne of the empire which is now in his debt.
It seems odd that no one else notices that vampires have glowing eyes as of Dawnguard. Then I realized why. Dragons can see that you are a dragon, while everyone else just sees a mortal. You can see Words of Power that no one else can. You can hear the Night Mother. No one else sees those glowing eyes because they're mortals, while you're Dragonborn, and possessed of an Aedric soul. You can see and hear things that no mortal can, which makes the Dragonborn not simply an effective killer of dragons, but also a deadly vampire hunter as well.
Why does Hermaeus Mora say that he will continue to influence you, even if you reject the position as his champion? Simple: you're the Player Character of a Role-Playing Game. You will scour the game, looking for bugs and exploits that you can use to become an invincible god, make infinite amounts of gold, etc. As the Daedric Prince of Forbidden Knowledge, Mora represents your desire to gain knowledge you should not know. His Oghma Infinium plants a seed for such forbidden knowledge... and guess what was the catalyst of one of the earliest Maximum Skill glitches?
With the release of the Dragonborn DLC and the events that transpire in it, this becomes Harsher in Hindsight, as the player is merely offered the illusion of choice by the Daedric Prince of Knowledge and Fate.
So in hindsight, Hermaeus Mora is a corrupt Dungeon Master in a (In-universe) real-life Dungeons and Dragon's game?
The idea of the Dunmer being accused of being part of the Thalmor by some Non Player Characters seems a bit ridiculous at first, considering that not only did the Dunmer detest the Altmer beliefs being the reason they went to Morrowind thousands of years ago, but they are also the only elven nation still allied with the Empire. However, the Nords and Dunmer were never friends to begin with, even before the end of the Third Era, and so the Nords are adding one more justification as to why they hate the Dunmer by trying to spread rumors that the Dunmer are joining the Aldmeri Dominion - even though they hate the Altmer just as much as any Nord.
Part Fridge Brilliance, part Wild Mass Guessing: Why does Mjoll use and specialize in two-handed weapons, when her signature weapon, Grimsever, is one-handed? Perhaps she originally used one-handed weapons, but after the Mzinchaleft incident, she trained in two-handed weapons, believing that it would be harder for them to be knocked askew.
Why is dragon armour not intrinsically resistant to fire like the Dragonbone Cuirass in Morrowind? Dragons in Skyrim aren't resistant to fire, since you can kill them with fireballs.
M'aiq the Liar's catchphrase ("M'aiq knows much and tells some.") has two meanings. It could mean that M'aiq knows many things but only tells some of what he knows or it could mean that he knows many things but only tells them to certain (some) people. Clever cat...
Why would one find things like Elven Swords in places they have no business being, such as Dwemer Ruins? Simple. The player may end up picking up more than they can carry, and end up placing their loot into the chest they just finished cleaning out. We know that there are other adventurers out there as well. So who's to say that they didn't pick up some Dwemer gear from those chests and switched it out with some Iron Helmets or Steel Swords so they could carry the more valuable loot home?
During the "No Stone Unturned" quest, you must find 24 Stones of Barenziah in order to restore the crown. However, you'll notice that once you give all the stones to Vex, the completed crown◊ has 25 stones on it: 12 on each side, and one in the middle. Perhaps the reason that you only had to find 24 stones instead of 25 is because Vex had had a stone before sending you off after the rest. She may have learned about the stone's history after finding it, and once you found one as well, realized that there might actually be a chance of collecting the whole set.
A meta one: why is Hadvar so frakkin' nice? Because players would most likely be turned off by the Empire after the opening, but if they go with Hadvar, he can, in a way, redeem the Empire for them.
It's hard not to think about going with the Empire when the guy seems nicer then Ralof.
This sorta overlaps with Fridge Horror, but while doing some quest I noticed something: All the holds on the east side of the map are a bad place to live in. Riften is the home of the Thieves' Guild and the Jarl's family is selfish/obnoxious; Windhelm is clearly racist against any non-Nord race (Argonians are forced to live on the docks and Dark Elves are treated as if they're Imperial spies); and Winterhold is missing half its mass while everyone just mopes around instead of taking action. Some of the cities in the west or south aren't much better, but the east side of Skyrim isn't putting out feelings of hope and prosperity.
Most of Skyrim outside of Solitude and Whiterun is largely a Crapsack World. Falkreath is essentially a giant cemetery, where large groups of dead are buried from all around the province; Markarth is basically a bloodier version of Riften (complete with its own Corrupt Corporate Executive in Thonar Silver-Blood); and Morthal is in the middle of a swamp and beset by vampires.
Solitude isn't much better, given how one of the few truly evil figures in Elder Scrolls history is about to be resurrected; and Whiterun has Mephala plotting something to sow discord in this city (hell, you can say she probably influenced it by the Battle-Born/Gray-Mane feud). The difference between both sides is that one hides its troubles better than the other.
The zombies in the game (as in, not draugr but the bodies raised by spells like Reanimate Corpse) are actually very similar to the original zombies of voodoo mysticism. Rather than being mindless monsters, they're still self-aware, but being forced to act against their will by dark magic, which is portrayed as a Fate Worse than Death. That's how people saw zombies until Night of the Living Dead came around.
Although this also applies to Draugr as well, given that they will often say "Krosis" note meaning "Sorrow" whilst in battle. It's heavily implied that on some level they arestill conscious, but due to the curse, they are physically unable to stop themselves.
The entire phrase, courtesy of subtitles, is "Unslaad Krosis", which, if you look, means "Unending Sorrow." This changes the meaning of what they say, presumably to "You (the player character) will be eternally sorry for desecrating this tomb." On a related note, it is mentioned in a few books that the draugr are the bodies of the followers of whoever was entombed there and they were voluntarily buried alive with the person to ensure that that person lives forever by ritually, every day, suffering an what amounts to an advanced Absorb Health spell that steals away their life, but they have that life replenished every night, which could take it into And I Must Scream territory, if not for the fact that there seem to be plenty of objects in the tomb for them to commit suicide with.
When the Dragonborn summons Odahviing and Durnehviir, the Dragonshout is simply calling out their names, because Dragons are so prideful they cannot fail to respond to someone issuing a challenge. Now remember what Paarthurnax said about the Dragonborn being subject to the same innate urges as Dragons? When the Greybeards summoned the Dovahkiin to High Hrothgar for training, they did the exact same thing!
Another one concerning Durnehviir and Odahviing: Why do you need dragon souls to unlock Durnehviir's shout but not Odahviing's? Two reasons:
Odahviing's shout, frankly, does nothing except call his name really loud. Durnehviir's shout, on the other hand, actually calls him from a different plane of existence, so there has to be some power behind it (which is why dragon souls are needed).
The reason why Durnehviir can't give you his "knowledge", unlike the Greybeards and Paarthurnax? If he had the knowledge, he would've called himself out of the Soul Cairn long ago.
Of course Haelga doesn't have Daedric boots. They probably belong to her secret lover.
For a shout that supposedly lashes out at a dragon's soul, Dragonrend has a rather simple effect (forcing the dragon to land). But that simple effect is actually rather symbolic: by robbing a dragon of its ability to fly, you're literally dragging it down to the level of mortals.
Why is High Hrothgar built like a military fort (and classified as one)? Considering how the Greybeards cause massive earthquakes whenever they speak, they need a really sturdy building to call home - otherwise, they'd probably knock their home down with all their Thu'umage.
Formerly a Fridge Logic problem in Oblivion, one can now be (at least somewhat) justified in becoming Archmage of the Mages' Guild (or College of Winterhold, in this case) without knowing, let alone casting, even a single spell: you're Dragonborn, master of the Thu'um. In essence, you have total mastery over a class of magic that no one else at the College knows, or could learn more than the basics of. Sounds like a pretty fitting trait for an Archmage, no?
Even if you don't master the Thu'um, you are still a very skilled Adventurer Archeologist, going above and beyond to explore the abandoned ruins to find artifacts, words of power and other items that may interest the Winterhold College.
So a lot of players hate Miraak's tendency to pop up and steal the soul of a dragon you just killed. It annoys the hell out of you and makes it harder for you to learn the Bend Will Shout that is needed for you to defeat him. But that's just it. It's supposed to piss you off! Miraak is arrogant and doesn't think of the PC as worthy of the title of "Dragonborn". Basically, Miraak is being a massive troll.
Some more brilliance when you think about it. Why the hell would Miraak let you learn the Bend Will Shout? Would you stand idly by while your enemy was slowly gaining the knowledge needed to defeat you? Or would you do something about it and try to delay his progress for as long as possible until you were ready to fight?
According to the in-game book, Songs of Skyrim, the tune of the "Song of the Dragonborn" is not known. They know the lyrics, but the tune itself has been lost to time. If you take the time to read all the lyrics, you'll notice that they don't all appear in the main theme. Then it hits you that the main theme is not the true "Song of the Dragonborn." The real theme, with all the lyrics and the proper tune, is the music that plays when you're in Sovngarde. It makes perfect sense that a song that had its tune lost to time would only be properly heard outside of the mortal realm.
Plenty of followers will level up with the player, but eventually they just can't keep up. The sole exception is the Khajiit mage, J'zargo. Khajiit are known for being terrible mages, which is precisely why J'zargo is the only follower with no level cap! He wants to prove just how capable a Khajiit mage can be with enough training and determination. And he's such a determinator that he refuses to let his rival, you, be better than him!
One for the Dark Brotherhood. The Night Mother chooses her Listener by speaking the Binding Words, which the Listener must then repeat to the Speaker to confirm it. The Binding Words are, "Darkness rises when silence dies." These aren't just simple creepy words, but actually refer to the state of the Dark Brotherhood. Without a Listener, the Night Mother cannot guide the Brotherhood, and they've been reduced to, in the words of Festus Crex, "common cut-throats". When the Night Mother has chosen a Listener, she can guide them once again. So the Binding Words basically mean, "The Dark Brotherhood is stronger when the Night Mother chooses a Listener."
At first it might seem strange for some players to hear the Ebony Warrior claim that he wants a heroic death because he has done all there is to be done, as from a story perspective there will always be plenty of eventful happenings going on in the Elder Scrolls universe. However, everything makes sense when you realize this character is ultimately a reflection of you - the player. No matter how fun the game may be, at some point or another a particular save file you have invested countless hours on will have exhausted everything that can be done, and you will want to find the last exciting thing that can be done before you start a new save file. The Ebony Warrior is an analogy for the player who wants one last battle before he starts over in Sovngarde, only with the real life equivalent of Sovngarde being a new save file or perhaps even moving on to another game entirely.
The Ebony Warrior appears at level 80. To have reached this level you not only must have mastered all of your preferred skills, but also mastered all but one or two of every other skill you have. Playing to this point without cheats literally means you've done everything you can for your character. His words reflect what you have gone through, and is a sort of subtle urging at starting a new character.
The Ebony Warrior's scale is modified to make him seem extremely large. If you take notice, the only other humanoid as large as him is Tsun, Shieldbrother of Shor and the second-last NPC you fight before the end of the main storyline. The Ebony Warrior's armor also makes him resemble Alduin in coloration and silhouette. It's a subtle reference to how he may be the absolute "final" boss of the game, just as Tsun and Alduin are for the main storyline.
The Ebony Warrior expresses a desire for the Dragonborn to be the one to send him to Sovngarde, despite being revealed to be a Redguard and thus making his entry into a Nordic afterlife unusual, if at all even possible. What better way for a warrior to convince Tsun of his badass credentials and allow him entrance, than to be slain in an epic final battle with the Dragonborn? You were hisBragging Rights Reward as well.
Though it's considered a "bug", the ambiguity of why Hrongar (Balgruuf's brother) would send hitmen after the Dovahkiin for having Lydia join the Blades makes more sense when you realize that those hitmen are only put out by the closest living relative of the person you wronged. So Lydia is probably Hrongar's daughter and probably wasn't too happy to have her nobility stripped away. This adds more brilliance. Balgruuf is so grateful to the Dovahkiin, he made his niece his/her housecarl. No wonder he takes a Stormcloak Dragonborn's betrayal so hard!
This adds another layer of brilliance if you marry Lydia and side with the Stormcloaks. Assuming that Balgruuf really is Lydia's uncle, by marrying her one would become Balgruuf's nephew-in-law and the Dovahkiin siding with the Stormcloaks after marrying Lydia would hit harder for Balgruuf.
The shield is as much a weapon in Skyrim as it is a method to defend yourself. In fact, using the shield aggressively to knock back enemies or to break their attacks or guards is so integral that half the Block tree is centered around bashing as opposed to just blocking. I thought this might be more of a play on Captain America, because I always assumed that the shield was primarily a defensive-oriented device. Then I came across this video discussing Viking fighting tactics. The basic technique as explained by the instructor is that the shield is not so much a defensive tool as it is an offensive tool intended to knock aside, pin, or trap the enemy's weapon, and the blade is the weapon that exploits the opening. I suddenly realized that in essence, that's exactly how Skyrim's shield-fighting technique works. Just like in actual Viking sword-and-shield style, the shield is used to open an enemy to attacks. Its more abstract, but at the basic level it works on the same principle. I'm not sure if it was deliberate or not on Bethesda's part, but in a game about fantasy Vikings, you can actually use historical Viking shield tactics.
There's a throwaway line by Arngeir if you ask him about the dragons' return, and that he should tell you more about it than the cryptic words he gives you. He tells you to not get caught up in arrogance thanks to the ease of learning Shouts that your Dragonborn heritage grants, and he adds that such arrogance has been "the downfall of many Dragonborn before you." At first, this simply seems like some solid advice against getting too smug in your own abilities, but it's also a clever bit of foreshadowing of the Dragonborn DLC, where Miraak became a bit too arrogant for his own good and thought he could betray Hermaeus Mora.
Every dragon shout description uses a dragon word "Thu'um", whereas Dragonrend, the only shout created by mortals, uses a mortal word "voice" instead.
Spears and polearms in general are not encountered in Skyrim, and there's actually two very good reasons for this:
The primary use for a spear, in war, is against cavalry. If you look at Skyrim's terrain, you'll likely notice that it's very mountainous, and where there's no mountains, there's either thick woods, marshes, or rocky plains. None of this is terrain where cavalry would be very useful, and is definitely terrain where you're much more likely to see infantry combat. That's why swords, axes, and hammers/maces are the favored weapons of the Nords. This terrain is also reflected in the Nords' horse breeding, as the Skyrim horses are bred not for power and speed but endurance and ability to navigate rough terrain. These are horses bred to move around in hard ground, not for cavalry charges.
The spear is also a weapon used by levies of poorly-trained civilians and militia. While historically there certainly were professional spear units in various armies, by and large the spear was the weapon of the quickly-assembled and quickly-trained levy of peasant militia. Units of soldiers armed with swords, axes, maces, and the like were usually professional soldiers and mercenaries who were trained in their use through long practice. But the Empire's military isn't a force of civilian militia - it's a disciplined, well-trained Legion of light and heavy infantry based on the Roman Legions, which were a heavy infantry force. And in Skyrim, everyone knows how to fight, because of how harsh and dangerous their homeland is, and how torn with internal strife it often tends to be. By a combination of environment and culture, the Nords of Skyrim formed a society with a strong martial tradition built from the ground up, and not dominated by the nobility as medieval armies were (and see the above point on cavalry; historically, heavy cavalry dominated through the medieval and Renaissance periods, which would further cement noble dominance, but that hasn't happened in Tamriel - especially in Skyrim - due to terrain and government factors). Lightly-trained peasant militia don't exist, and therefore the typical medieval infantry made of peasant spearmen wouldn't manifest, simply because everyone in Skyrim is battle-ready and usually well-armed to begin with, and Imperial doctrine doesn't use peasant levies.
Nord culture bears more than a passing resemblance to dragon culture. For example, they both believe that Asskicking Equals Authority (hence Ulfric's claim to the throne) and that "True Nords (or dragons)never back down!" Nords even have a watered-down version of a Shout as their racial ability. This makes perfect sense when you consider that the Nords' ancestors were ruled by dragons.
If you are a Morrowind fan, walk around Raven Rock. You'll feel yourself back in Morrowind and loving it... not just because of the architectural style, but because the music is lifted directly from Morrowind and you can leave Raven Rock just as if it was a city in Morrowind (before all this "City Gates" nonsense they introduced in Oblivion). Solstheim was clearly a labour of love from the developers.
One thing I noticed is that the Dragonborn gets a lot more leeway with equipment, what they do outside of the military, etc. during the Legion and Stormcloak questlines. Whilst you could argue that this is because Skyrim is a sandbox and removing that functionality would kind of ruin the game, it makes sense in-universe because the Dragonborn is essentially Special Forces. This also explains why the 'battles' they participate in are more like skirmishes - the real fighting is elsewhere whilst the Dragonborn's unit is taking out important command posts and supply lines. The Battle of Windhelm is a possible exception, but it's still significantly scaled-down, due to engine limitations and the limited RAM on consoles.
It may seem rather confusing that in the opening the Imperials decide to execute Ulfric Stormcloak alongside a common horse thief and the PC in a low-profile and unceremonious manner in a normal village in Skyrim. Why not take the time to sort out who's actually a rebel and who isn't and have Ulfric executed with a lot of publicity in Imperial City? Because the Imperials want to make a statement, and they know that if they have a great big event in Cyrodiil, the Stormcloaks just gain a martyr. But if they just execute Ulfric quietly in Helgen, then it says to the Stormcloaks that their leader isn't a great threat to them or they would have had a grand public ceremony for his execution; he's just a common criminal or even just a mook.
Another possible reason is that they don't want the Stormcloaks to have the opportunity to rescue him. They want a quick, clean, low-profile execution to reduce risk.
Another explanation that's a lot more messed up: Nords go to Sovngarde when they die in battle, or at least with some honor, considering Roggvir claimed he was going to Sovngarde on the chopping block. If Ulfric were executed in the Imperial City, the death would have been honorable, and Ulfric would have gone to Sovngarde. By giving Ulfric a typical execution in Helgen, they were condemning Ulfric to Oblivion.
Bit of a minor one, but why is the PC "The Last" Dragonborn? Because at the end of the day the thing that makes a Dragonborn a more effective dragonslayer than any other mortal is that a dragon killed by a normal mortal can be resurrected, whereas one killed by a Dragonborn cannot. However, the game implies the resurrection ability belongs to Alduin alone, who - once defeated in the main questline - is not going to return again until it is the world's due time. Thus, there is no longer a need for any more Dragonborn, since from now on, a dragon killed by any means is as good as dead for all those concerned.
Why do the Blades tell you to kill Paarthunax for such flimsy reasons? And why don't they tell you to kill Odahviing as well? It has nothing to do with Paarthurnax being a dragon at all! The Blades and the Greybeards don't exactly hide the fact that they don't get along, so it's not a stretch that one of the groups would try to sever your connection with the other. And what better way for the Blades to cut off the Greybeards from the Dragonborn than to send him off to kill their leader?
The Book of Fate in Calixto's Museum of Curiosities is said to be a book that shows the fate of whoever reads it. However, if you read the book, the pages are actually blank. Well, look at it this way: if the book had something written about you inside it (say that your horse would throw you and break your neck the next time you were on the road between Winterhold and Dawnstar) then wouldn't you go out of your way to avoid that particular road or not ride a horse down it again? By specifically trying to avoid the fate written in the book, you have changed your fate. Therefore, the book is blank because there are so many possibilities in anyone's future that the book has to be blank!
Typically your first clue that an enemy is nearby is the music changing and an enemy marker appearing on the map. However, as the game progresses, many enemy encounters on the world map stop triggering the music. If you think about it, though, the music is supposed to portray certain feelings and emotions - and in the case of battle music, it should induce a feeling of danger or excitement. Therefore, the music eventually not playing when encountering certain enemies reflects how the player is so strong that these enemies are no longer a threat or a challenge.
The Dragonborn can rebuild the Thieves' Guild's power base and influence without going through the Thieves' Guild questline and recovering the Skeleton Key for Nocturnal. What makes this interesting is that the "curse" the Guild is suffering from is an extreme case of bad luck, caused by the removal of the Skeleton Key. In other words, the Dragonborn rebuilds the Guild while the Guild is suffering a cosmically-ordained run of bad luck. But coupled with many of the Dragonborn's other acts of either divine blessing or Screw Destiny across the game, it makes perfect sense that not even a Daedric-Prince inflicted stretch of severely bad luck would be enough to stop him/her from pulling the Guild out of the muck.
At first, Dawnguard seems sort of unrelated to the whole Dragonborn thing. Skyrim is about the prophecy of the Last Dragonborn, Dragonborn pits the first Dragonborn against the Last. But Dawnguard is about ...Vampires? Then it hit me, a large part of the story involves the bow of Auri-El, and the Chantry of Auri-El. And what's Auri-El's other name? Akatosh, the creator of Dragons and the Dragonborn. Suddenly it all makes sense why a Dragonborn would be the one to stop Harkon and Vyrthur. Who better than someone with the soul of one of Auri-El's creations?
Sheogorath's quest is not to cure Pelagius of his madness, but rather replace it with a different kind. He has you replace his nightmares with dreams, effectively making him focused on the good rather than the bad; you strengthen his confidence and destroy his self-loathing, thus giving him false assurance in himself; and you remove the source of his paranoia and make him believe there are no threats. When you finish, Pelagius is still a madman who is out of touch with the world, but now he wouldn't have people executed out of paranoia. No wonder Sheogorath said it was more appropriate you treated rather than cured him.
It may seem rather odd that Sheogorath is trying to make someone less crazy to begin with. But given the cryptic dialogue that potentially makes Sheogorath a Previous Player-Character Cameo, it makes sense.
Many players agree that the dragons are really more of a nuisance as the game goes on, due their increasing frequency and decreasing difficulty. But the thing is, this is exactly what it means to be Dragonborn. You're a one man apocalypse whose sole purpose is to kill dragons, of course they'll get annoying. Consider it this way: the mortals are residents, the dragons are unwanted invaders, and the Dragonborn is pest control. Never before has a fictional character been this badass.
When you and the Stormcloaks are in line for the chopping block, you can hear Alduin roaring, announcing his presence. The strange part is that Helgen is right at the bottom of the Throat of the World, where Alduin returned, and yet it takes Alduin quite a while before he actually shows up when it should only have taken a second. But it's possible that Alduin first appeared right in front of Paarthurnax, and the roaring was them fighting before Alduin decided to just focus on the Dragonborn. No wonder it took him so long.
Why does Alduin even attack at all knowing the Dragonborn is about to be executed? He didn't go to Helgen to attack. He wanted to watch. Seeing this, Paarthurnax roared, and Alduin had to go down to make sure the Imperials weren't too spooked to continue. Unfortunately, someone saw him, everyone panicked, and he had to try and finish the job himself. That's why he failed to kill the Dragonborn, because he never intended to fight there in the first place!
Alternatively, Alduin knew the Dragonborn existed and was in Helgen somewhere, but didn't specifically know who it was. He didn't know the prisoner he was saving was the Dragonborn; he was simply targeting the biggest group of people he could see with the intent to kill them all. This would explain why he destroys the entire village, always remaining close to the Dragonborn but rarely directly attacking them. He doesn't know exactly who it is yet.
When you talk to Arngeir about Dragonrend, he talks about how, in order to learn a Shout, you have to take it into your very being, and effectively "become" the Shout. This means that if you learned Unrelenting Force, you would have to become the essence of unstoppable force. Now, who do we know is unrelenting in his goals, unable to be swerved from fighting for his god and country and people even when it may well be a lost cause, and who knows Unrelenting Force? Ulfric Stormcloak really did take that Shout into his soul.
There are a few bowls of troll fat lying on the floor of the East Empire Warehouse. At first this might seem like a bug — they're obviously meant to be on the shelves, right? But then you realise they're placed near buckets and mops. Soap!
The fact that guards will let you get away with murder so long as you pay a sizable fine (for most people in the setting) seems odd, doesn't it? Except that, remember, we're in Skyrim, with all the Norse Fantasy Counterpart Culture. And in Norse and Germanic cultures up until the Middle Ages, there's the practice of weregild, or "man price." Though Skyrim's legal system doesn't practice adjusting the weregild for the victim's station, it still stands as a steep price to pay for most people.
The fact that Hermaeus Mora uses gifts of power to draw the Dragonborn into his service is not just a Genre Savvy ploy to pull the player in through offers of power. It's also a way to appeal to the dragon soul in the Dragonborn by appealing to the dragon's inborn desire for power.
The three shouts you will always learn: Fus, Feim and Yol are the pure representations of the three trees of abilities. Fus is governed by Warrior (you can stagger your foes without retaliation); Feim is for Thieves (able to escape from harm to get a better advantage); and Yol is for Mages (pure destruction magic at the tip of your tongue).
Every time the player uses the secret entrance to the Thieves' Guild in Riften and walks right in, the character will bump their head and be stuck. The only way this can be avoided is sneaking. This may very well be deliberate on the part of the Guild since no one is supposed to know about this secret entrance. Getting your head bumped when you don't sneak is just a friendly reminder you're supposed to keep it that way.
If asked to provide a distraction, Idgrod Ravencrone starts trouble by claiming to see snakes behind Razelan's eyes (and indeed Razelan is always the one used as the decoy, and the only one who will always offer to distract everyone) then yelling that there's a serpent in the midst, and beware the serpent! She comes across as the raving lunatic people see her as, but she's actually referring to you and Malborn as the serpent. You're there to break in, she knows that, and she's telling you to 'begone from this house' and hurry up with your mission so you can leave before the Thalmor catch on. This not only provides an excellent distraction, but keeps her reputation as a prophet alive since people will, afterwards, realize that she was absolutely correct.
It's appropriate that Idgrod refers to you as a serpent as well, considering that, well....
"You know, you remind me of myself at a young age." One of the quotes Sheogorath might say to you if you pick the appropriate dialogue choice. This makes perfect sense because the conversation he has with Pelagius all but confirms that the events of the Shivering Isles expansion pack from Oblivion did happen and this Sheogorath is the former Champion of Cyrodiil. As a Previous Player-Character Cameo, of course you remind him of himself at a younger age! If you played Oblivion, there's an excellent chance that most, if not all, of your decisions in Skyrim would reflect at least one or more save files you had while playing Oblivion!
When you decided to go take out Mercer Frey, you wonder why Karliah wanted you and Brynjolf to become Nightingales. It is so one of you can serve as a distraction for (aka blindsighting) Frey. If Karliah only brought one of you, he would simply use Agent of Subterfuge to make you put a blade in her gut; but by having two people with her, Karliah could be sure that this ability would only work on one, still giving her room to move.
How does Babette survive the destruction of the Dark Brotherhood in both scenarios, aside from Bethesda's policy of no child killing in any of their games? It's possibly foreshadowed by one of conversations with the Dragonborn if they join, where she recites a rehearsed story about how her parents were killed by the Dark Brotherhood and she was taken captive, before laughing at how easily people fall for her innocent little girl routine. Yet with the numerous purges that the Brotherhood have suffered in the three hundred years she's been a member, it makes sense that Babette's probably had to use that story more than once already, allowing people to think she was merely a captive and give her a chance to escape.
Alternatively, in the "Destroy the Dark Brotherhood" scenario, her small size and knowledge of the Sanctuary likely allowed her to find somewhere to hide while you were distracted fighting everyone else, allowing her time to escape. Or as an alchemist, she would have easily known how to craft some invisibility potions to keep herself hidden.
At the end of the quest "A Night to Remember," Sanguine calls himself "old uncle Sanguine". At first it seems like he's just being a friendly laid back Daedric Prince, but if you think about it, it's a bit deeper than that. You're the Dragonborn, an Aedric/Dragon soul in the flesh of a mortal. And Sanguine is a Daedra. If you browse the more obscure lore of the Elder Scrolls series you'll find that the Aedra and Daedra were created from Anu and Padomay; the Aedra from Anu and Padomay's blood mixing together and the Daedra from just Padomay's blood. Going from that angle, one could say that the Aedra and Daedra are related to each other. So Sanguine's throw-away comment actually holds some truth - he could be considered your uncle.
The Thalmor robes are very well-known both for their Badass Longcoat appearance and their accompanying implications. On a very superficial level, they bear a noticeable resemblance to Gestapo uniforms, reinforcing the Thalmor's similarities to the Third Reich. However, it doesn't stop there. The Thalmor robes have a very distinctive design which actually invokes the Badass Longcoat trope, being specifically unable to be closed at the front. This design is seen in the attire of only one other organization in the game: the Psijic Order. Like the Thalmor, the Psijic Order hails from the Summerset Isles, but they have existed for far, far longer, meaning the Thalmor likely used the Psijic robe design as inspiration. On top of the obvious visual similarity, this mimicry by the Thalmor is a subtle parallel to the Nazis' attempts to legitimize their rule by drawing associations between themselves and the original Germanic way of life.
Behold the Dragonborn Paradox: The Blades exist to serve the Dragonborn Emperor, but before that were sworn dragon slayers. But Dragonborn, whether from a royal lineage or otherwise, have the soul of a Dovah/Dragon, hence their title, which technically makes them dragons as well. So, the Blades would be sworn to both obey the Dragonborn and to kill him/her at the same time.
The Dragonrend shout is such a Brown Note for dragons because dragons have no concept of transience; however, the Thu'um is based on the Dragon Language. How could the dragons have words for Mortal, Finite, and Temporary if they have no concept of such things?
Probably used for the mortals back when the Dragons ruled all of Skyrim, which would explain Mortal. It was also made by the mortals, so they probably just found words close enough to them to start, which would explain Finite and how Mortal is used in this context. Temporary, on the other hand...
A lot of things don't last forever. For instance, their fire doesn't burn forever, so it is temporary, hence dragons having a word for temporary in the Draconic Language.
Paarthunax explicitly says that the Thu'um was created by mortals using words that the dragons cannot truly comprehend. Remember, we humans have words for things like "infinite" and "eternity," yet it is literally impossible for a human mind to truly comprehend such concepts. Dragons literally cannot comprehend mortality, and using the words for those concepts forces them to experience that. Such a thing is so mind-bogglingly incomprehensible to their minds that it knocks them out of the sky.
Alduin does know at least the first word of Dragonrend, even if he doesn't use it as a shout; he calls you a "joor" when he revives and sics Salohknir on you. Though it makes you wonder why he didn't use it later against Paarthurnax... Even World-Eaters Have Standards, perhaps?
As stated above, it's because Dragons cannot truly comprehend the concept of mortality. You cannot use a Thu'um if you don't truly understand its meaning.
To put this in human-comprehensible terms, English has "can see into the fourth dimension" as a phrase, and humans can use that phrase, but we would be severely incapacitated if the full extent and implications of that phrase were thrust into our minds.
Alternatively, the dragons can understand those words but they can't comprehend the concepts being applied to them specifically. In other words, they understand what mortality is; they just can't comprehend actually being mortal.
Furthermore, this would be somewhat like a normal, untrained person uttering "Fus Ro Dah". Despite knowing the words of the Unrelenting Force shout, they simply aren't going to be capable of using the Thu'um because they have no concept of the deeper meaning behind those words. Likewise, a dragon could say the words of the Dragonrend shout, but they could not comprehend the true meaning of the words in a way that makes it a shout.
A minor case, but the Dovahkiin is a dragon with a mortal's body, right? Technically, shouldn't you have been a dragon when you entered Azura's star? I know gameplay-wise this couldn't be done, but story-wise...
The Dovahkiin probably appears in a mortal shape because that's what s/he think of him/herself, kind of how s/he appears in Sovngarde.
Going by that logic, armor and weaponry, outside of the bound variants, shouldn't be present inside either. I think that, in that instance, his body was inside the star, in order to purge it.
That explains why you can keep the Daedra Hearts you loot from the Dremora.
Why did Madanach never use the convenient escape route in his cell?
Let's see... walk out and get back to raiding and killing and pillaging... or stay where he is working behind the scenes, carefully wearing his enemies down from the inside before stabbing them in the back? I'd stay where I was.
How can you pick up dragon scales off a dead dragon after its skin burns off?
Pay close attention when smithing dragonscale armor. You generally need three or four "scales" to forge even the boots and gauntlets. Now look at the size of the dragons you have to kill. They're about the size of an average school bus. You need the scales left behind by maybe two entire dragons to forge a single suit of armor for a tiny human, and this armor is backed with iron, leather, and dragonbone. It seems pretty clear that the "scales" you recover from the dragon are from the bits and pieces of the dragon's body that you've been blasting, shooting, or hacking off as the battle progresses.
There are also a few leftover globs of skin on a burnt-up dragon. Perhaps that's where you get the dragonskin leather?
This might also be a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, so that rather than burning off into nothing and the Dragon's perfectly white skeleton remaining, the aftermath looks more like a collection of charred bones surrounded by ashes. In that case, you're simply finding the most unburned and usable pieces left on the corpse, hence why you only end up with between 1-4 scales or bones per Dragon corpse.
Talk to the alchemist in Whiterun, and she frequently tries to offload a shelf of assorted disease treatments on you. Why does anybody need various tinctures and salves and so forth, when you can frequently find wonder cures in dungeons and shops, and praying to a Divine will cure you? Even the supernatural things like Vampirism can be cured with faith and/or cold medicine, as long as you get help fast enough. It seems like disease should have been wiped off of Nirn centuries ago.
The blessings can be passed off as only the Dragonborn can receive an actual effect. In Oblivion, you could not receive a blessing if you were more evil than good; but that's not the case in this game, presumably because the Dragonborn is partly Aedric. As for the Potions of Cure Disease, remember that those potions are freaking expensive, and hawk feathers are extremely rare. If you notice, only poor people in the game have diseases, because they are the only ones that can't afford the potion.
Why does human flesh (especially if you are human) carry the damage health attribute? I mean it might be disgusting to do sure but if you are human it makes no sense.
Actually, this makes a lot of sense, especially for humans. Cannibalism in real life is known to cause insanity due to some strange reaction. This is actually the reason for Mad Cow Disease; lazy farmers would feed their cattle the brains of other cattle, which made them get really sick. Likewise, a human eating another human will also get very sick.
Mad cow disease is caused by prions, which are proteins that damage various cell structures, can change other proteins to prions by touching them and cannot be destroyed like other proteins. This is why the disease can be passed on by eating an infected cow, whatever your species.
Ok then, but how does the cult in Markath fit into this? They don't damage their health, do they? Neither do you, for that matter.
Namira did it. And who's to say it doesn't affect them? As I said, cannibalism can you drive you insane. The people in Markarth are absolutely batshit!
Take a look on the eastern part of Skyrim. Even go there and explore, south of Windhelm. Lots of beautiful landscapes down there... until you notice you're standing inside the caldera of a supervolcano that puts Red Mountain to shame.
At least, Red Mountain at the time of any of the games. Red Mountain is rumoured (rumoured in the games, that is) to have been four times the size before the second-to-last major eruption (which would explain why Caldera is called, well, Caldera: it'd put it in old Red Mountain's caldera).
Supported by all the geothermal activity in southern Eastmarch - the area has lots of hot springs, geysers, and steam vents. Also supported by how fertile the Rift is.
Also supported by geographical location itself: east of Skyrim is located Morrowind province, home of Red Mountain. Supervolcano could be in the same chain of volcanoes as Red Mountain.
Morokei has the Staff of Magnus. A little over 200 years ago, the staff was in a museum in Morrowind. Morokei would have had to travel to Morrowind and take the staff, presumably killing anyone in his way.
One of the random effects of the Wabbajack staff includes turning people/creatures into different things, including a sweetroll. You can then eat said sweetroll.
Somewhat related, the Wabbajack can turn people into rabbits. At some point, Skyrim's resident mentally ill are described as people talking to rabbits.
Remember that there is a statistic for "Bunnies Slaughtered" in the in-game menu.... Who put that there, anyway? Sheogorath?
One of the great missed opportunities in the game was the lack of an achievement for killing enough bunnies - "Achievement Unlocked: Kill The Wabbit" would have been perfect.
One of the quickest ways to discover the effects of alchemy ingredients is to eat them. Munching things like wheat and juniper berries may seem mundane, and eating a giant's toe or troll fat might incur a little nausea, but things get a little freaky when you find (and consume) such delightful ingredients as a human heart.
Truth in Television - Shennong did the exact same thing to know which ones are dangerous to eat and which ones are completely safe. As an Alchemist, you have to personally learn the unpleasant effects yourself to understand the alchemy process.
By the same virtue, consider what you just made your potions out of. Combine Beehive Husk and Nightshade for Fortify Destruction; that's all well and good, but you're still drinking nightshade extract.
Then again, there's an alcoholic beverage sold in Riften that contains nightshade extract called the Velvet Lachance (perfectly safe, I assure you). So drinking nightshade extract apparently isn't that unheard of in-setting.
Also, we already have curiously metallic "ebony" and curiously durable "glass". Curiously unpoisonous "nightshade" would fit.
This fits, even out of the setting. Ever had a really cheap soup or meat pie/burrito? You've no clue what was actually inside of it. As for nightshade, this can be explained by the other components of the potion base neutralizing the poison, or it might go back to Alchemy as a spiritual act - perhaps you are purifying the nightshade into an ascended form.
In real life some spices and most medicines are toxic in large amounts. Nutmeg is harmless and tasty in the amounts used in cooking but in large enough amounts it's poisonous and hallucinogenic. And real nightshade has historically been used as a medicine in tiny doses. Externally as a painkiller, and internally it's paralytic effect was used for an antispasmodic effect to control some conditions like a form of asthma where the airways of the lungs spasm and prevent the flow of air. So tiny, carefully controlled doses of nightshade in a potion, or even in a drink does make sense.
In the College of Winterhold, one of the shadier members gives you a quest to return a staff to him. Upon entering the indicated cave, you find some vampires and a Staff of Charm. The fridge horror kicks in when you notice that this staff has the "Calm" effect, meaning victims of it stop fighting. Now think about what a vampire could use that spell for...
The dungeon you get sent to is randomly selected, but that doesn't detract from the Fridge Horror-ness of it any, when you think about what bandits or warlocks could do with that spell.
In all honesty? Bandits would probably just use it to make people hand over their money. No point risking their lives when they can just get it for free, and it leaves no physical evidence of their crimes.
During the quest "The Taste of Death", Eola mistakes you for a fellow cannibal and tells you that she understands and that you are not alone. Normally, she'd be wrong... that is, unless you're a werewolf in which case, yes, you have quite possibly been eating other people all along in order to extend your time in wolf form.
If you're an alchemist, you've probably eaten all sorts of crap in your quest to find the effects of ingredients. Thing is, human flesh/human hearts are ingredients, so you may very well have snacked on people parts before.
This troper would like to point out, in a flash of Fridge Brilliance, that technically, being an Argonian, Khajiit, or any form of elf wouldn't make you a cannibal. The elves might be a bit iffy, but Khajiit or Argonian? Not really a cannibal (unless you consider the consumption of another sentient species to be a form of cannibalism).
And Bosmer have a reputation for cannibalism, of course, so it makes sense for Eola to believe a Bosmer Dragonborn (especially if she realises you're foreign) is a Humanitarian.
Another bit of Fridge Brilliance! You, the Dragonborn, upon killing a dragon, consume its soul. The Dragonborn has been said to have the SOUL of a dragon. So yeah, you've been learning your Shouts via consuming your fellow dragons' souls, i.e. cannibalism.
WHY does every guard claim to have taken an arrow to the knee? Obviously they don't get hired unless they took arrows to the knees.
Or in places like Windhelm, a sword to the chest...
Or the Thalmor, who hate humans, shoot arrows at various human adventurers until they have crippling knee injuries.
"Arrow to the knee" may actually be a metaphor for being oppressed by elves.
Or because greaves (leg armor) were removed as an armor slot in Skyrim.
Or because those shields they carry around don't protect the knee, and archers do tend to shoot underneath shields.
This troper saw a comic suggesting that only one guard has actually taken an arrow to the knee, but as a result of continually using it as an excuse for not having done things, "I used to be an (x) like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee" has become an in-joke for all the guards.
That would make sense, and could also explain why they sound so damn sarcastic when they say it, if they're just mocking the one guy lazy/sneaky enough to have this happen and milk it for all it's worth and then some...
This video takes a look at the cultures that the Nordic race of Skyrim is based on and considers another much darker reason why so many adventurers might have come upon the terrifying happenstance of having one's knee penetrated by an arrow.
The Thalmor Dossier on Ulfric Stormcloak says that he was made to believe that the information he eventually forfeited was crucial to the fall of the Imperial City - in fact, it wasn't. However, given the Thalmor's way of obtaining information, it's safe to assume that this plays a huge part in why Ulfric won't help the Dunmer, or the Khajiit, or the Argonians...
Draugr. Basically mummified zombies made to walk again, the originals served part of the Dragon Cult. Why are there so many in even newer dungeons? Simple. Embalming tools and linen are common items in these dungeons, in fact it's rare to not see some. Nearby, you may also have a draugr that's wrapped in those linens. They're actually created by either those who made the place to guard it, or made by the draugr themselves from recently-dead corpses. More than likely, these are 'in-production' draugr that aren't ready to pick up the ol' axe and defend the place from treasure hunters and adventurers.
The fact that King Olaf's tomb in Dead Men's Respite is crawling with draugr (including himself) seems to indicate one of two things: Either that made-up story about him making a pact with Numinex isn't that far off, or the ancient dragons have ways of turning Nord corpses into draugr despite the victim having never served them in life. And then there's the revelation that Alduin has been consuming the souls of the newly dead in Sovngarde. Perhaps this allows him some degree of control over the bodies originally belonging to those souls?
Or, third option, not every draugr has anything to do with dragons, ancient or not. Skyrim wasn't the first game in the series to feature draugr, and Bloodmoon never hinted at a dragon-connection (the Skaal instead had an entirely different origin-story), but it did feature a mage that had deliberately turned himself into a draugr (while keeping his mind) to keep Daedra from overrunning the place, so it seems that while the Dragon Cult is one vector for draugrs to arise, it isn't the only one. And, after all, we know Olaf's spirit wasn't consumed when we confronted the Draugr-Olaf in Dead Men's Respite... His soul can be found in Shor's Hall in Sovngarde, so odds are his Draugr-self was a result of his corpse being reanimated as a zombie.
Additional Fridge Horror for the tombs, barrows, and catacombs: Most players pick up the convenient gold coins from the burial urns. Specificallyburial urns. From an in-universe perspective, the Dragonborn has been sifting his or her hands through possibly still-greasy and rancid ashes for the chance at a couple of Septims.
The Forsworn armor is almost certainly made of human skin and bone, except for the helmet made from a deer skull. As you enter Lost Valley Redoubt you'll find a find a Forsworn working a grindstone with a dead Nord lying on it. If you're stealthy, you can hear him comment on the merits of Nord bone over other kinds.
Narfi may be mad, but he appears to be harmless, and can even be considered a Woobie since he's lost both his parents and his sister, the latter of whom he doesn't even know has died. However, upon completing his quest where you find his sister's remains, he'll give you some alchemical ingredients... which can include human flesh and organs. Needless to say, there's probably a very good reason the Dark Brotherhood have a contract on him.
Reyda was an alchemist, so it's possible Narfi is just offloading old ingredients of hers (or newer ingredients that he collected as a present for her) without understanding how odd it is to give human flesh to a stranger. Why doesn't he understand this? Narfi didn't go mad when his sister disappeared; he was already mentally handicapped. When Wilhelm mentions Narfi being "in a state" ever since his sister's disappearance, he just means the poor man is upset that his carer and only friend has abandoned him.
Considering how their attitude towards the Empire supposedly selling out is very similar to the Nazis' attitude towards the German government after World War I, you may not be too far off...
Have you ever enchanted a weapon or stumbled into a Dwemer mine and nabbed some soul gems from the machines? When you fill a soul gem using soul trap or conjured weapons you are essentially TRAPPING someone into your fancy new armor or weapon. Whats worse is that many machines such as the ones in Dwemer mines run on soul gems, meaning that either the dwarves actively murdered and stole the souls of others to power their machines, or that the machines actively kill and steal the souls of people who enter the mines.
It gets even worse. The Dwemer are related to the Snow Elves, the same ones who would become the Falmer. The Dwemer actively did this to their own kin.
Think that's all? Advance in the Dawnguard DLC enough, and you can access the Soul Cairn, a dimension inhabited by a necromancer's wildest dreams in summoning creatures - and also an ocean's worth of souls. Why are they there, and not in Sovngarde? Because that's where souls which are trapped in Black Soul Gems go, instead, once these are used. And remember, we're talking about a ruined, miserable realm that, in comparison, makes Hell feel tame. Feeling well about all those people you trapped inside the Black Star now?
Killing a random assassin that has been contracted to kill you is really the only way to deal with them. That said, since they are part of the Dark Brotherhood, that means that they probably shared the same close family-like bond with the other members that you have the opportunity to meet, if things had been different, you and your would-be murderer could have been good friends. What you have done is killed someone and usurped their family.
Although that one only works if you have the slightest sympathy for the Dark Brotherhood. Some us followed up on these random fights by tracking down this freaky little family and putting each and every one of them down like the mad dogs they are.
I'm sure Grelod the Kind was happy to assist in that endeavor.
Let's think ahead to the next game for a minute. With the multiple possible resolutions to the civil war, how will history look in Elder Scrolls VI? A "Warp in the North" would be an Ass Pull. There's only one event that can possibly result from all three possible choices: The Thalmor attack and win. And since the Thalmor are trying to outlaw worship of Talos, the plot of the next game will probably involve the consequences of Talos no longer being worshiped. This is a big deal because the Divines are responsible for how physics work. What happens when one loses power?
Or, much like Fallout, Bethesda will simply choose a canon path (namely that the Eastern Brotherhood of Steel won the war with the Enclave in FO 3 and are now, with Liberty Prime, more powerful than the original) and run with that for future installments, especially if new DLC deals with the Thalmor and their ilk in some manner or another.
Not necessarily. Even if you resolve the war in favor of one side or the other, it doesn't mean the war is actually permanently over. Even if you side with the Imperials, it might turn out that twenty years after the game, war breaks out again and this time the Nords win. Or conversely, even if you side with the Stormcloaks, maybe twenty years later the Empire invades in full force. There's a lot of possible options, so long as the next game takes place enough in the future. It just has to not say anything specific about how Skyrim was resolved.
More likely the Thalmor decide to resume their war on the Imperials, and a Stormcloak-aligned Skyrim would eventually ally with the Empire, or at least not attack them and focus on the Thalmor themselves. Tullius even mentions that an even greater war with the Thalmor is on the horizon, and given that Mer tend to reproduce much more slowly than Men in the setting, the Imperial forces can more easily recover their numbers to take the war to the Thalmor instead. There's a reason the Thalmor Dossier on Ulfric states that a victory for either side is to be avoided and the civil war in Skyrim is to be drawn out as long as possible: the Thalmor can't defeat the Empire outright in a long, protracted direct conflict, so they resort to manipulating the nations of men against each other to weaken them. They did the same thing to the Redguards, resulting in an independent Hammerfell that was nevertheless able to repulse the Thalmor without Imperial support.
Another possibility (if slightly character derailing) is that the Dragonborn either succumbed to the same innate urge for domination as the Dragons and seized Skyrim for their own, or was forced by Hermaeus Mora into doing so. Both are possibilities since the end of Dragonborn leaves the protagonist with the ability to bend people to their will and control Dragons, making it very easy to turn Elisif or Ulfric into a Puppet King or raise an army if they chose to do so, coupled with Hermaeus Mora implying he has plans to turn them into his new right-hand man to replace Miraak.
Something of a meta example, but: if you hang around Whiterun for long enough, you'll eventually hear the townspeople mention how the Jarl's children are acting oddly, of late. This is a segue into the Daedric quest "The Whispering Door", wherein you discover that the Ebony Blade, a token of Mephala's favor, is sitting underneath Dragonsreach. Mephala is the Prince of secrets, corruption, and murder. You can, of course, refuse to do her (his?) bidding. He (she?) will only laugh, and tell you that while you think you're strong enough to resist, nothing could be further from the truth: sooner or later, you'll dance to its tune, whether you realize it or not. However, it is possible for the player to betray the Jarl of Whiterun... so it's possible for Mephala to be accidentally accurate.
Many of the quests can invoke this simply by the placement of corpses. In "Blood on the Ice," you find the lair of the butcher with several cut up bodies. However if you talk with the townsfolk, only 3 women are known to have been killed so far, with one of their bodies recovered since the killer fled before collecting his quarry. Where did the other 6 or so skulls come from? In Frostflow Lighthouse, the books detail how the father came home and found his family captured and his wife and son dead. We never find the son's body, while the father's remains are found within the stomach of a giant bug. The notes also detail how he gave his daughter a knife so that she "would not have to suffer". It takes a while to realize that he probably found out what the attackers intended to do with them after his son was taken away.
Those were done by the Falmer, as you discover once you uncover the tunnel full of them under the lighthouse... as well as the remains of the missing family members.
An unmarked altar south of Greenspring Hollow contains several skeleton enemies (one of which is a mage) and the corpse of a novice conjurer. At first glance it seems that the novice got a bit carried away and was killed by his own summons. Then you see the bloodied bones near him. The Skeleton Mage was killing people and raising them as skeletons.
This troper recently discovered a book called the Red Kitchen Reader. It talks about how the writer, as a boy, once wandered into an abandoned house in Cheydinhal. Hearing a sound and thinking some bullies had followed him in, he ran outside and escaped into a well right beside the house. At the bottom of the well he found an entire sub basement with a "red painted kitchen", where he discovered some unknown meat and ate it. He considered staying to ask the owners of the subbasement what the delicious meat was and what their secret was, but decided to leave.
People who have only played Skyrim and read the book probably thought nothing of it, but Oblivion players will no doubt cringe upon realising that the boy had stumbled into a Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, that the "red paint" was probably blood and that he might have just eaten human flesh. The author has no idea how lucky he was...
The reason for Wyndelius' insanity. While its possible that his own concoction of invisibility potion was responsible for his insanity, another more terrifying possibility might be the cause. He spent a year in Shroud Hearth Barrow, slowly forgetting his motivations for being there (the Dragonclaw), but finding himself unable to leave, before eventually becoming consumed with protecting the Barrow against all intruders. Sound familiar? It's also the same behaviour that the draugr display! While the assumption is that the draugr are cursed for being allied with Dragon-Priests, the game states that this is only a theory and it's not fully understood how they became what they are. The possibility that they might be capable of slowly brainwashing anyone who enters suddenly makes barrows exponentially creepier to visit.
It may be worth pointing out that that the Skaal's explanation of their local Draugr was completely lacking in Dragon Cults, but does have that common trait of the Draugr generally keeping to barrows and attacking intruders (there's also Aesliip, who is undead proof that the Dragon-Priest alliance curse theory is wrong insofar as it makes claim to be the only way a Draugr can rise)...
Suppose the Draugr, or at least some of them, became that way before they died? Spending too long in a barrow, slowly brainwashed into forgetting who they were, just like Wyndelius. Eventually, even forgetting to eat or care for themselves, until their bodies decayed, kept alive by the latent magic in the barrow, and they ended up as a Not Quite Dead, but not truly alive, mindless zombie.
Everyone hates the chaurus (and Dawnguard only made it worse by giving them wings), but take a look at some of the Falmer huts. Some are decorated with chaurus remains. Not horrifying, right? Look at the top of the doorway into some of the huts. They get bigger... We may not have seen them yet, but it's probably only a matter of time.
Not just bigger - one of the variant "giant chaurus" on the Falmer tents have pincers and the unmistakable profile of an arachnid that has yet to be represented in Skyrim: Giant Chaurus Scorpions.
In the Hearthfire expansion pack you can design and build your own house, where you can decide to construct a trophy room where you can use taxidermy to display stuffed defeated enemies. This includes wolves, crabs, slaughterfish and a dragon's skull, but more disturbingly, also Falmer and Draugr. That's right, you can display the stuffed ancient corpse of a cursed human being as a decoration in the same house where you can have your spouse and kids live. A tad messed up.
On the other hand, by keeping a Rogues Gallery on display in their home, the Dragonborn is actually teaching their kids two very important lessons. Firstly, not only will they grow up to be capable of identifying Skyrim's most dangerous creatures on sight, but more importantly, they'll know that even though such monsters are real, they can always be killed!
Nightshade, a potent ingredient for poisons, is nightmare fuel not for what it is but where it grows. It grows abundantly in cemeteries and other places associated with death. Knowing this makes some of its locations very unsettling. For instance, you can find nearly a dozen Nightshade plants throughout Solitude, which gives subtle clues to its bloody history. Labyrinthian is also made more unnerving as nightshade can be found throughout, further emphasizing that many people have been killed throughout the years.
On the subject of medicinal horror, think about what it would be like to drink a potion made of Giant's Toe and Troll Fat...
The Ebony Warrior believing that he has nothing left to do in this world wants to die in a glorious battle so that he can go to Sovangarde. What if the Dragonborn ever feels the same way? Will s/he one day grow tired of all the adventures and seek out some young warrior to claim his/her life?
The quest "Missing in Action" has you rescue Thorald Gray-Mane from the Thalmor, and in the aftermath Thorald and his brother (Avulstein Gray-Mane) decide to join the Stormcloaks to hide from the Thalmor. Regardless of outcome, neither of the two are ever seen again. If you decide to join the Imperial Legion, Avulstein and Thorald are likely among the Stormcloaks killed during the questline. If this is the case, it's likely that you could have killed them yourself, along with the rest of the Stormcloak Mooks you cut down by the scores (unless for whatever reason, you didn't kill a single Stormcloak during the Imperial questline).
If you join the Dark Brotherhood, town guards will occasionally say to you, "Psst! I know who you are. Hail Sithis!" Town guards, whose job it is to protect the citizens of their city from murderers, support the presence of a murdering guild. Think about this from a citizen's standpoint: you've put your faith in the protection of the town guard, unaware that they actually support/allow assassins to operate in their city. You are blissfully unaware of the dangers around you. Then one day, in the middle of the night, alone in your house... *splat* Even if you subscribe to the theory that the guards are just trying to placate you, that still raises the issue of guards being too afraid of you to actually stop you from killing.
I attribute that to the guards being halfway sane. Think about it this way: You are the Dragonborn. You eat the souls of dragons for breakfast, slay vampires just before lunch, and repeatedly win fights that are ten people on one to work up a appetite for dinner. Would you WANT to fight you? Personally I would just act like I was on your side too and then go back to attempting not to soil my armor in fear.
You also tend to end civil wars in less than a month. You walk in on a stalemate, and your help decides who wins the war. You are Bad Ass enough to decide the fate of an entire province with your mere presence.
Plus, imagine if you were to get such a person mad at you. You've gone and gotten a sword in your chest. (Or arrow in your knee, or fireball in your face. Really depends what he feels like at the time.) But at least that's the end of the story, right? Wrong. Your fellow guards, even though they're just as afraid of this guy as you used to be (or should have been) are honor-bound to attack him to try and see justice served. So not only have you committed suicide, you've also bound your fellow guards to follow your lead. But wait! That's not all! See all those citizens around? Some of them are the type to rush in and help when it appears a law is being broken. You've gotten them killed too. Not to mention, if this incredibly powerful person is also incredibly callous, s/he could easily use Fireballs, or Chain Lightning, or perhaps even Master-level spells. Worse, this monster is known to have an extremely powerful Red Dragon (second only to the Blacks like Alduin himself in power) as their sidekick, who can be summoned in a single breath to make tinder out of the entire city. So anyone in the area ends up dead! Appear gutless and allow one citizen with a bounty on their head to die? Or risk angering the One-Man Army with a potential multitude of casualties.
The way the negotiations in "Season Unending" work, booting Elenwen from the conference counts as a concession to the Stormcloaks. For a completely fair treaty, this means that the Stormcloaks will have to give up one of their minor holds later on. Ulfric is literally willing to hand over strategic territory so that he won't have to be in the same room with her. It's a given that his time in Thalmor captivity wasn't pleasant, but the implications of that exchange really drive the point home.
That may explain why he doesn't make any more demands, but it doesn't explain why General Tullius continues to do so, even if you do give him Riften in exchange for Markarth, nor does it explain why Rikke gets annoyed when you agree to boot Elenwen out, despite the fact that neither the Legate or the General like the Thalmor much.
Like her or not, having your delegation summarily altered before negotiations even start is a major, humiliating slap to the face. Their more aggressive demands later are most likely them attempting to regain face for when they report back to the Empire on the terms to which they agreed. Tullius does mention that, even with dragons in the picture, his superiors might relieve him from command if he agrees to terms that make the Empire look weak.
Even worse about Elenwen - if you give Markarth over to the Stormcloaks in the negotiations, Ondomelar's possessions can be found in a casket. That's right, Elenwen didn't even object enough to ask for time to pull her men out of what would turn into a danger zone, taking the Bad Boss aspect Up to Eleven.
In Dawnguard, when you're in the Soul Cairn, some of the souls aren't wandering around, but are in little cages just sitting there, dejected. This troper looked up at the top of one of these towers and saw a soul gem. It hit me then that unlike the other souls, which have likely already been used in enchantments, these are TRAPPED IN A GEM SOMEWHERE still not having fueled an enchantment. These people might be in my inventory right now!
The "cages" can be opened by shooting a fireball or arrow through the glowy ring(s) nearby. It's not a cage, just a blocked door with a means of opening it, like Nordic ruins have pull chains and such.
At one point in the main questline, a document states that an interrogator has authorized "Intermediate Manual Uncoiling" on a prisoner. The most disturbing thing about that phrase is the word intermediate. Given that you walk in on a bloody torture session shortly afterwards, one wonders what Extreme Manual Uncoiling would look like...
Given Altmer's major magic ability is Illusion, it's inflicting a damaging version of Fear on the victim, literally destroying mind and body as they helplessly thrash around.
One for those who complete the quest "Paarthurnax" and kill the eponymous dovah, especially since if you kill him, chances are you're doing it because you believe he can't be trusted to adhere to the pacifistic Way of the Voice. As has been noted elsewhere, he is surprisingly easy to kill, some likening it to murder rather than battle. What makes this Fridge is when you remember how he goes draco-y-draco against Alduin himself and becomes leader of the dov after Alduin's death. In other words: Paarthurnax is likely holding back against you even in the face of destruction of his very soul, i.e. adhering to the Way of the Voice even unto death. In some ways, he's not the one who loses his soul in that scenario.
Hermaeus Mora appears as a writhing mass of tentacles and bubbling eyes to you in Dragonborn, but if you rotate the camera while he's speaking, you'll notice that the bubbles shift unnaturally. If you take a closer look, you'll see that those bubbles are actually eyes. What's more disturbing about it is that these eyes are always centered on the camera; i.e on you the player. Hermaeus knows there's a fourth wall, and he knows that the "Dragonborn" standing before him is just a hollow avatar. In every scene, he's speaking directly to you. Quite befitting the Daedric Prince of Forbidden Knowledge!note His eyes and associated fog effect are rendered in 2D, which is a common trick used in 3D games to avoid modelling a complex object such as a bush or flowers when they're not really important to the gaming experience. However, Hermaeus Mora's eyes, while rendered in 2D, are actually modelled in 3D, meaning that this effect was likely intentional.
I always assumed that male Dovahkiinne simply dropped them down their underpants/loincloths. Still, it's probably not any less squicky than the other option...
When Rolff Stone-Fist talks about throwing the Dunmer and Argonians in the pit, he wasn't speaking metaphorically. He seriously wants Ulfric to open the Windhelm Pits so they can watch as the Argonians and Dunmer are forced to kill one another for their own amusement.
Even bigger horror is you can find them in a vampire or necromancer dungeon.
Where did Miraak get his cultists? Probably, Miraak cultism is merely the advanced stage of working on one of his stone shrines for too long. So if you use a Solstheim stone too many times, you will end up as a masked cultist.
One for players who have no sympathy for the Dark Brotherhood. If you kill Astrid and then proceed to kill everyone else in the sanctuary, everyone hails you as a hero for finally wiping them out for good... Except you didn't. Cicero and Babette are still alive, and more importantly, the Night Mother's body is still intact. It's possible that Cicero and Babette could take refuge in the Dawnstar sanctuary, where Cicero will continue to tend to the Night Mother while Babette searches for new recruits, and eventually the Night Mother will choose one of them as her Listener. This would be the only way to Hand Wave the Dark Brotherhood still being around in the next game even if the Dragonborn didn't join them.
Probably an unintentional example: when upgrading equipment, the three highest ranks are flawless, epic and legendary. However, some unique weapons cannot be upgraded past flawless without exploiting certain mechanics. While probably just an oversight, this also makes sense: most of these unique weapons are things like Daedric Artifacts, which are pretty renowned to begin with. A legendary Spellbreaker would be redundant.
The "Prophecy of the Dragonborn" refers to both Alduin's return and the Wheel turning on the Last Dragonborn... except nowhere in the prophecy does it state anywhere that it's referring to you or even the person who defeated Alduin. Imagine what would have happened if Miraak had won the battle against the Dragonborn, thus leaving him as the "LastDragonborn" in existence. By the vague wording of the prophecy and if you had not already fought Alduin (or even if you had), he could have easily stepped in and usurped your role!