Nightmare Fuel / The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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The developers of Skyrim have been critically lauded for building one of the most beautiful, interactive, vast worlds ever seen in video gaming, and rightly so. On another level however, the world of Skyrim can truly be quite nightmarish and dangerous, whether it be on the lonely northern snowfields or in a supposedly abandoned shack by the river. In its environment the game regularly generates and contrasts Nothing Is Scarier, Jump Scares, and many more tropes.

  • The introduction, where the Imperials force you to lay your head down for the axe and come face-to-face with a warm and fresh head that they couldn't bother to throw away.
  • During the Dark Brotherhood storyline, the Night Mother talks through a mummified corpse. The first time you hear her speak, you are shut up in her dark coffin, next to her body. If you're not expecting it, this is one instance that may necessitate a change of pants.
    • Also related to the Dark Brotherhood storyline is Cicero. At first he might seem a little too eccentric and more of an annoyance than a danger. Later however, you come across his journals, written largely when he was more mentally stable back in Cyrodiil. You track his frightening descent into madness, exaggerated by the decrepit state of the Brotherhood he held so dear, his obsession over being appointed Keeper, and eternally being haunted by his final kill: a jester.
  • Special mention goes to the frostbite spiders. Trolls? Tough but fine. Nord zombies? Killed zombies before, no big. Dragons? Hell, those are fun to take down. Giant spider? Run. Run as fast as you can. There's even a specific "No Spiders" mod for Skyrim that just turns them into bears... and it was one of the first mods ever released for the game, before the Creation Kit was even released.
    • The first time you're exploring a cave and suddenly a giant frostbite spider descends upon you from the ceiling, you might need a change of pants.
    • And then the Dragonborn DLC introduces albino spiders, which are much smaller and more frail than frostbite spiders, but they also appear more realistic. And while frostbite spiders attack by spitting webbing and kicking with their four forelegs, albino spiders prefer to get up close and personal by leaping straight for your face.
    • Just north of Helgen is a place called Skybound Watch Pass. Upon entering the place, it's guarded by typical bandits, easily killed. But going just a bit further leads you to a set of iron doors. As soon as you open the doors, a giant frostbite spider awaits you, looking directly at you without any warning of its presence whatsoever. It proceeds to charge in your direction. You're also in a narrow cave, meaning you can only go forward or retreat and close the doors again until you go back and kill it.
    • There's a place just northeast of Markarth called Harmugstahl, where a mage has been enchanting the spiders.
    • And combining the previous two entries, there's a Nordic ruin on Solstheim called White Ridge Barrow. It's infested with albino spiders and strange, pulsating pods that, when approached or attacked, explode to release flaming albino spiders. There are also reavers (the Solstheim equivalent of bandits) throughout the dungeons... but they look like this. Clearing the dungeon leads you to an "Imbuing Chamber" which uses gemstones and spider body parts to create spiders imbued with flame, poison, electricity, and frost... and also mind control spiders. It's as horrifying as it sounds. Oh, and there's one of the below-mentioned Black Books in the barrow, suggesting that Hermaeus Mora may have been involved in the project somehow.
    • There's a spider's nest in Crovangr Cave and when you look inside, you can see that they are capable of hunting mammoths.
  • The Black Star, both the item and the related quest. In Azura's quest, you can get the Azura's Star that longtime Elder Scrolls fans all know and love... or an utterly corrupted version, which works on Black Souls as well as white. Having this sheer unholy power is a bit on the creepy side... but the quest for it is much worse. You actually get to go inside Azura's star, and meet a demented mage who's been cannibalising souls. And yes - it confirms that people are still aware of what's going on in there.
  • The Dwemer. They may be gone now, but when they were still alive, they were most certainly not very nice: they were a whole race of Mad Scientists who enslaved another race of fellow elves and turned them into the Falmer we know now, experimented on other races For Science!, were entirely capable of curbstomping anything the other races could throw at them with their Mecha-Mooks and superior metalworking, modified the laws of physics to fit their whims, and tried to make their own god, an attempt that wiped them off the face of Tamriel.
    • They didn't just stop at physically deforming the Falmer; the Dwemer did something to them that changed their souls from black (sapient) to white (animalistic). Even worse, Dwemer society was very big on enchanting, and white soul gems are much more common than black ones. They were literally using the Falmer as fuel.
    • In one particular Dwemer ruin, you may stumble upon leftovers of an expedition that tried to explore it (not long) before you. Outside the actual ruin, the remains of a campsite contain the expedition leader's log, detailing those involvednote  and the events of their first few days, including a snowstorm that forced the group to retreat into the ruins. As you wander in yourself, their grueling story unfolds: The ongoing storm traps them inside, supplies run low, they happen upon their first Dwemer machines. A drug addiction he was attempting to hide drives one of the Khajiit mad; you find him standing over the body of his brother, and he attacks you on sight. Apparently he also slaughtered various members of the team beforehand. The sorcerer and overseer were captured by Falmer deeper down; they managed to escape, but the sorcerer was killed by Dwemer mechs and the overseer fell to the pursuing Falmer. The mage is found dead, strapped to one of their torture racks. After you've combed through the entire place and defeated the Centurion at its end, the leader and warrior emerge and will, if left undisturbed, get into an argument over whether to keep exploring or leave this forsaken place forever, eventually starting to fight to the death. This alone would be enough for a decent horror movie...
    • And while the Dwemer may not be here, there is nothing to say that the Dwemer are gone. The entire affair is very vague on the details, so there is nothing saying that this incredibly advanced, astoundingly powerful and thoroughly amoral race couldn't in some way come back. After all, everyone thought that the Dragons were gone forever, too.
  • In the second Dark Brotherhood quest, "With Friends Like These...", you are abducted in your sleep and taken to an unknown location. You are then forced to kill one of three people (or all three) in order to be initiated into the Brotherhood. Exiting the shack, you find that it's a run-down, abandoned rat hole of a building that's literally in the middle of nowhere. For some reason, the prospect of those people being kidnapped and dragged to a place like this where nobody can hear you scream or call for help is extremely unsettling.
    • The Hearthfire DLC adds additional fuel, because this shack is located just a stone's throw away from one of the three locations where you can build one of the custom homes. That's right - the Dark Brotherhood is active right near the house where your loving spouse, two children, and loyal canine companion Meeko could be living. Your daughter tells you that she's scared, that she thinks there are monsters in the swamp; you kiss her forehead and tell her not to be afraid because you'd fight every dragon in the world and win to keep her safe. But she's right - there are monsters in the swamp. Monsters that can sneak into your home, abduct you right out of your bed without alerting your family... monsters that could have easily killed your family as you slept and let you live because it would be crueler that way.
    • Two words: "We know." This, along with a black handprint, is the entirety of the letter you receive from the Dark Brotherhood after killing Grelod the Kind. Sleep tight! ...or better yet, don't! That's how they get you!
  • The Falmer. They look creepy enough, but add to that the fact that they blend in with the shadows, and that odd chattering noise they make, and you've got yourself some Grade-A horror. Worse, they often appear with Chaurus, utterly nasty insectoid horrors which are tough to kill, deal ugly damage with their bites, and use health draining poison that will often kill in seconds, especially if you're foolish enough to get into melee with them.
    • Better, there's a few areas where the Falmer are rising to the surface and have been kidnapping and torturing people. Not even above ground is safe.
    • Add into that their tragic backstory at the hands of the Dwemer (see above) and what else you learn about them through the main storyline of the Dawnguard DLC, and... yeah. Sweet dreams.
    • On top of all that, they're damn near silent. You can be simply exploring a cave, it's dark save for the light of some translucent mushrooms, and even if you're being vigilant, a Falmer can sneak up behind you, or worse, pop out right on top of you.
    • In Raldbthar and possibly other Falmer areas, you may find tanning racks and tables with leather on them... the kicker is that you may find Human Flesh on those same tables. The implications are... unpleasant.
      • The Raldbthar Deep Market, in the near-right corner of the first big room, has such a tanning rack set up. There's a Nord woman's corpse next to it. The Falmer have been very busy.
  • "The House of Horrors" is a very aptly named quest. Let's just say that Molag Bal has gone from being a Jerkass in Oblivion and really stepped up as "Lord of Domination".
    • Even scarier is that you are forced to kill an priest of a rival Daedric Prince in Molag Bal's name (if you want all the Daedric Artifacts). The Priest's soul is then sent to Molag Bal, presumably for eternal torture. Remember the Wizard and Vaermina mentioned in Oblivion above? This is probably even worse, because not only is an innocent priest doomed for a similar fate, but you're the one who carries it out. College Humour said it best: "RPG heroes are jerks"
      • However, the priest is not exactly innocent. Boethiah makes you sacrifice one of your followers for her artifact, so Molag Bal commanding you to kill her priest falls firmly into Evil Versus Evil. Besides, his dialogue seems to imply that he had intentionally sought Molag Bal`s shrine and defiled it by using it to worship Boethiah instead. With that in mind, Molag Bal`s enraged reaction is quite understandable; he does not want priest`s death, per se. He wants his submission - which is entirely par for the course for the King of Rape.
  • The entire backstory of the Thalmor, from their Nazi parallels to the fact that these people were somehow able to hunt down and sadistically murder every single member of the Blades (a warrior guild made up of the best spies and assassins in Tamriel under employ of the Empire) in Valenwood and Alinor, before using their heads as a warning to the Empire, then proceeding to royally kick the Empire's ass in a devastating war.
    Delphine: Do you ever think about them, Esbern? The others?
    Esbern: The other Blades? No. Best not to think what the Thalmor do to their victims, my dear.
    • A couple of quests make it very clear exactly what the Thalmor do to Talos-worshiping citizens (and more or less anyone else they don't like). However, the really nightmarish bit comes during "Diplomatic Immunity," when you get to witness it firsthand. See for yourself (though beware of spoilers).
    • On a related note, what the Thalmor did to Ulfric Stormcloak. Torture is dehumanizing enough, but believing the information you gave up lost the war and rendered all your comrades' sacrifices moot? The guilt would be off the charts. Worst of all, it isn't even true - it's just Mind Rape all the more brutal for its simplicity, and all the more disturbing because it's the sort of thing that can happen in real life.
  • Hagravens. Witches who, through some unexplained ritual, transformed themselves into half-woman/half-raven monstrosities who are as powerful as they are horrifying, and implied to be the witch-equivalent of lich-dom, to boot. At one point in the Companions questline, you venture into a small cave populated with a few Hagravens called the Glenmoril Witches, so you can remove the head of one (or the entire coven, if you wish) and take it with you in order to cure the lycanthropy of the Circle.
  • The quest "The Taste of Death." It starts out innocently enough; the local priest of Arkay (read: undertaker priest) had to close down the Hall of the Dead in Markarth because it seems something has been eating the bodies. He hires you to go look into it. Once you go in, you find the culprit, a woman named Eola. She believes you to be a fellow cannibal (it's open to the player whether or not she's right), and she hires you to clear out a shrine to Namira. You do so. Somewhat disturbing, but nothing scary, right? Well, she then tells you to go get the priest who hired you before and bring him back to "sanctify" the shrine. You get him to follow you back and it seems a bunch of other people have shown up, and they seem to be half the population of Markarth. Some of them you may have even helped out! The shopkeeper who took over her husband's shop? The local butcher? Yep. Cannibals. Then the woman hypnotizes the priest and has you kill him and take the first bite. So, let's see, you killed a priest, became a cannibal, ate the priest, and found out some of the friendly citizens you've been doing quests for are cannibals as well. Markarth just got a lot darker, all of a sudden.
    • What makes it worse is that the butcher in Markarth advertises the "bloodiest beef in the Reach." Why is this bad? Take a look at raw beef. Then take a look at human flesh and try not to wonder if that's really beef...
    • That shopkeeper who took over when her husband died? She says this when you talk to her during the, eh, meal: "One of my customers? Did you know I inherited the store from my late husband? Shame what happened to him. He had such good taste." Either she has a very dark sense of humor, or her husband was a cannibal as well, or she ate her husband. Or perhaps all three are true. It gets even worse if you've talked to her beforehand and done a quest for her; at the time she seemed genuinely sad that she lost her husband, which just makes the entire ordeal that much more disturbing.
    • The guy who trains dogs for the Jarl, and gives you special 'spiced beef' for the pups, is also a member of the cult.... Makes you wonder just what kind of treat he had you deliver...
  • The Ratway Warrens. Highlights include an insane deaf woman who sits in darkness endlessly repeating a list, a cannibal chef who wants to make a meal of you, and an ex-Imperial Officer suffering from PTSD, who mentions some horrors that the Thalmor did.
    "Their fires lit up the night. All across Lake Rumare, like stars come to earth. It was beautiful, really."
  • One that's thankfully easy to miss is found in one of the Dragon Priests' tombs. Said priest (Rahgot) was a crazy bastard even by the standards of insane dragon worshipers. He had his followers commit mass suicide so their ghosts could continue to defend the place. The truly disturbing part? He apparently sacrificed children to make this work. You can find an open grave full of small wrapped bodies in the tomb. On the plus side, it makes killing this particular Dragon Priest that much more cathartic.
  • Every step in the murder mystery of Morthal is nightmare fuel, but especially the part when you play hide-and-seek with a child's ghost. The moment you find her at her grave, she recoils in shock because a freaking vampire lady shows up right behind you.
  • One of the earliest Companion quests is to sort out a trouble-causing Falmer group in Shimmermist Cave. In the end, you find the leader. He's in the middle of the room, so you can back him up into a corner by using Fus Ro Dah. He slams into the dark wall... only for the wall to walk forward and reveal itself to be a huge Dwemer centurion. Since it's entirely possible to take on this quest at very low levels, this may be the first time you ever see one of these in the game.
  • The Dovahkiin is, in his/her own way, a walking Mook Horror Show just waiting to happen. Just imagine that you're sitting in your camp, on watch for a caravan or some roaming monster or a military patrol that might fall upon the home you've carved out. It's the dead of night. Then, coming up the trail, you see a single person, alone. They're wearing nice armor and wielding a nice weapon, but they're by themselves. Easy prey for a dozen bandits, right? That armor and sword will make for a great haul! And even better, they're walking right toward your camp! You call your buddies, and they ready the ambush, and just as you leap out to strike, you hear "FUS RO DAH!" The next few minutes is a horrifying blur as you and your companions throw everything you have at this lone warrior, while lightning and fire and demonic beasts and even a freaking dragon comes swooping in and around you. You companions are being torn apart, blasted to ashes, or decapitated one by one, and this unstoppable warrior just keeps coming, periodically shouting out blast waves at the top of his/her lungs and moving impossibly fast, striking with terrifying precision, hurling armored warriors through the air like feathers, or just making people keel over and die.
    • Dawnguard ramps it up to eleven with the ability to shout and rip out a person's soul and raise them as an undead thrall. If that isn't enough, you can summon an undead dragon for fun... and while the werewolf form attacks are brutal, the Vampire Lord form is pure nightmare fuel. Around 8 feet tall, built almost as sturdy as a troll, the Vampire Lord simply glides around while either draining your very life essence or raising your buddy as an undead thrall. Oh, and if you survive his magical onslaught? He lands and proceeds to introduce you firsthand to his claws which are every bit as brutal as a werewolf's.
      • There's another thing that makes a Vampire Lord Dovahkiin all the more terrifying - nobody can recognize you while in Vampire Lord form, assuming they have not seen you transform, which means you can kill as many people as you want and not get any bounty on your head. This opens up a whole new array of possibilities for an evil-inclined, murderous Dovahkiin, and a whole new source of Paranoia Fuel. One night a terrifying bat-beast can glide silently into your city, mercilessly slaughtering anyone in its way, draining them dry of blood, raising corpses to fight by its side, and summoning nightmarish gargoyles. Eventually it mercifully escapes into the night. The next day, the legendary Dragonborn walks into town, receiving greetings fit for a hero. Sure, there is something off about him... a sort of paleness, an eerie light in his eyes... but this is the Dragonborn, savior of Skyrim, vanquisher of dragons! Surely someone so virtuous cannot have evil intentions deep within, right? Right?
    • And all of this is just peaches compared to how the dragons themselves see the Dragonborn. This is a mortal with the ability to take the souls of any dragon he or she kills, using them to unlock dragon shouts and new ways to bring utter pain upon them, before stripping the very bones from their corpses and forging them into weapons and armour with which to further mock their kind.
    • Mirmulnir's last words definitely sum up the horror a Dragon must feel when encountering the Dragonborn. For most of the entire battle he's incredibly confident, as with Alduin back, not even death could stop him for very long. But then you see that sense of smugness quickly dissolve into unbridled terror as he realizes far too late just who the person standing in front of him is. Imagine spending your last few seconds feeling your skin begin to catch fire and your soul rip itself away from you. No wonder he screams.
      Mirmulnir: Dovahkiin?! Niid!
    • And Miraak, of all people, even lampshades this;
      Miraak: Do you ever wonder if it hurts, having your soul ripped out like that?
    • Dragonrend and Bend Will. The former is weaponised nightmare fuel for Dragons and the latter makes them slaves to your every whim. Are you still sure you're the hero and not the real monster of this story, Dovahkiin?
    • Don't forget how he might seem if you leave the Civil War questline til last, after the DLC and decide not to hold back during the fort assaults. The soldiers fighting alongside the Dragonborn may as well not be there as he walks in; armoured in the bones and scales of dragons, wreathed in the spectral armour of the Dragon Aspect shout as a dragon roars overhead before swooping in to fight alongside him? Just seeing this guy calmly walking up to the fort should have the whole place on the verge of surrender.
  • One Conjuration Spell, Dead Thrall, is a pure horror for NPC. Its function is resurrect any NPC for 60 days in-game with the equipment and weapon the NPC had when they died. Imagine you area bandit in a camp or soldier in a fort and you see the Dragonborn, their housecarl, and his/her undead legion (usually wearing steel armor or better) marching to your position, slaughter your band, and revive you as his/her Dead Thrall.
    • The raise dead spells are unpleasant in general. If you listen, humanoid thralls periodically moan in pain when not in combat. When killed, they sometimes whisper "Free... again" before disintegrating. Seems those reanimation spells do just that. And only that. With no mention of healing the injuries that killed them in the first place. And they're aware of it the whole time.
  • The Maze of Shalidor. It's in an non-important place in the Labyrinthian region, and is not connected to any quests; it's basically a completely optional maze where you have to perform one spell from each school of magic. And how's that scary? Well, when you have made all spells, the underground cave opens, and there is a portal. You step into the portal, and are transported to a weird purple circle, where you have to fight a dremora. It is explained in a book that Shalidor made it as a test for potential archmages. That's why it requires knowledge of all spell schools and enough power to defeat a powerful Daedra to survive it.
    • A glitch can make this place even more terrifying: if you kill the dremora in a single hit, it may not be able to teleport itself and you out of the arena. Since there's no exit and you can't fast-travel out of the location, you're stuck. Sometimes whacking the corpse with a melee weapon might warp you out, but if that doesn't work... you're locked in there, forever trapped in a tiny, featureless pocket dimension in the middle of Akatosh knows where.
  • Hermaeus Mora has always been really creepy, what with the way all of his artistic renditions have depicted him as a formless Eldritch Abomination. But in Skyrim, you don't even get that when you meet him face to face, as it were; what you get instead is this swirling black vortex that appears out of nowhere while you weren't looking, blocks your only exit, and speaks to you in an affable and beguiling voice. Mora's been watching you, and he intends on making you his new emissary, whether you want it or not.
    • And in Dragonborn you get to go to his real Apocrypha, filled with all sorts of Lovecraftian horrors. Not only that, but his appearance changes to a series of voids that have tentacles coming out of them and eyes that appear and disappear.
      • It gets worse. That series of voids with tentacles emerging from the depths and eyes phasing in and out of Nirn are rendered as two-dimensional objects, much like death sprites in Doom, an effect which causes the image to shift its orientation whenever the camera moves about. That's right. Hermaeus Mora isn't interested in the Dragonborn, he's interested in you.
  • Astrid's body at the end of "Death Incarnate" in the Dark Brotherhood line. She's burned all over and practically skeletal, and everyone, especially she herself, knows that she's committed an unforgivable sin (by Sithis's standards, at least) and she has only seconds to live. Alas, Poor Villain, indeed.
  • With the addition of the Dawnguard DLC came the Soul Cairn, a plane of Oblivion to which human souls that have been captured in Black Soul Gems are sent after the soul gems are used up. The piles of bones everywhere are to be expected of what is essentially a graveyard dimension, but the true horror is the fact that all of these souls are in a permanent And I Must Scream state. If you talk to any of the unnamed souls, they will occasionally say that they feel like they are constantly being drawn and quartered...
    • Though, if you soul trapped Grelod the Kind, you might take comfort in the fact that she didn't get out of punishment that easily.
  • You know, as terrifying and icky and creepy as the chaurus are, you've at least got the reassurance that you can outmaneuver them and keep out of range of their horrifically-powerful bites. Noooooooooope. Not with Dawnguard! Now you have to deal with Chaurus Hunters. The Chaurus Reapers? Those were the larval form. The Hunters are massive, winged, mantis-like creatures with stingers. It's basically a Chaurus Reaper except even tougher, and it can fly.
    • To add to their vileness, they don't simply hatch from cocoons like butterflies. Instead, the normal chauruses (chauri?) are the cocoon, and the hunters burst out of them chestburster-style.
    • It does not help that chauri look suspiciously like another kind of Reaper, only (barely) shrunk down to melee combat size.
    • Now look at some construction materials of the Falmer huts. They get bigger...
    • Shellbugs are harmless, but they can take a player completely by surprise. What may look like a giant boulder or even a tent quickly turns out to be a pill bug-like insect roughly the size of a flatbed truck.
  • Dawnguard also adds the Castle Volkihar tower leading to the Soul Cairn, at which point the game essentially becomes Dark Souls light. You're making your way up the dark tower, which only has about three healing potions in it, fighting very high level skeletons, in addition to a few death hounds. But the worst part is when there are no skeletons, and you're wandering around the shadows, wondering which of these gargoyles is going to come to life...
  • Dawnguard further adds Darkfall Cave - a completely pitch black cave full of trolls, the aforementioned Chaurus Hunters, and Frostbite Spiders. Early in your exploration of the cave, you come across a thin, rickety bridge spanning a ravine with a rushing water current at the bottom. The bridge creaks rather ominously as you pass over, but nothing more. On the other side, you find very little and proceed back across... only for the bridge to collapse and plunge you into the dark abyss. You're left at the mercy of the current as it sweeps you through narrow fissures and out into a large cave with just enough light to see several massive Frostbite Spiders falling from the ceiling. And you cannot avoid this if you want to continue the main quest.
    • Darkfall Passage may be worse. The primary light sources through most of it are glowing pink flowers that retract when you come near, leaving you in darkness. In addition to the Falmer running around, you have chauri, including several hunters and hunter fledglings, hidden in the carcasses of dead ones that you don't notice until you step on them and they burst out and you can barely see them in the dark as they're flying around you, so they're hard to hit.
    • And then there's Darkfall Grotto, which gives us Feral Falmer - a naked, blood-splattered, more animalistic variant of Falmer that kills their own kind.
  • Dawnguard is just a treasure trove of nightmare fuel. The first time you walk into Castle Volkihar deserves mention: the vampires are in the middle of a feast, with bones, gore, and spattered blood contrasting with the otherwise luxurious surrounding. There are even human corpses laid out on the tables, and a few of the vampires are chin-deep in their entrails like children in their first birthday cake. Imagine literally walking into the middle of that, completely surrounded, the only human present. Oh, wait. Those corpses on the tables? THEY'RE STILL ALIVE. On the plus side, science has proven that this makes it at least 100% more satisfying to storm the castle and have a whingdally of a slobberdocker on the vampires with a big ole' axe.
  • Another one for Dawnguard: if joining the Volkihar Vampires, you may be sent on a quest to recover a petrified ancient vampire's head!
  • In one quest where you help out a struggling shipping company against pirate raids, you must storm the pirate's fortress, Japhet's Folly. If you explore a bit, you find a locked room in which you find the corpse of Japhet himself, along with his journal. Reading it, you learn the history of this place. Japhet writes of leaving Dawnstar with a crew to build the tower, but his crew left one by one, convinced that the place was haunted. Soon, Japhet was left all alone. He eventually became convinced that the ghost stories were true, as he heard them speaking to him. A little creepy, but nothing too severe. What clinches it is that Japhet seems like a fairly normal, stable person, until you turn to the last page, which simply says... OH GODS HELP ME
  • The quest in Frostflow Lighthouse. If the dead horse outside doesn't tip you off that something's not right here, you enter the lighthouse to find furniture overturned, with blood everywhere and a dead body. Your quest message flashes across the screen: find the murderer. By reading the journals, you find that it was the couple's dream to retire to a lighthouse, even though their nearly-adult children didn't like the idea much. They've been hearing noises in the cellars, and assumed it was just skeevers. Then the husband comes home from a shopping trip to find his wife dead and children missing, and locks himself in the basement to either kill whatever did this or die trying. Turns out the cellar opened up into a large ice cave swarming with Falmer and Chaurus. Along the way, you find the rest of the family members' bodies - the son being the first body you find, the daughter having killed herself to escape the horrible things the Falmer did to her father and others they dragged down there, and the father's remains being inside a Chaurus Reaper.
  • One of the earliest released screenshots for Dragonborn is... this. Ladies and gentlemen, the Eldritch Abominations have arrived.
    • Oh yeah, and you see those Morrowind examples above, about the ash creatures and the other horrific monsters in the game? Yeah, now they're back in full unholy HD.
    • The first encounter with Miraak can be really disturbing, after going down to the depths of his tomb, which is ominous in itself with how large and deep it goes and the Lurker heads and Dragon skeletons along the walls, and you find a mysterious book. Upon reading the book, you are grabbed by tentacles and appear in a strange dimension where you are discovered by Miraak and a couple of Seekers who quickly incapacitate you, and after giving a speech he leaves on his dragon for the Seekers to "send you home" (which, in this world, is by virtually killing you).
    • Encountering a Lurker can be really damn horrifying your first time. You will usually either encounter them in Apocrypha where they rise from a pond of black liquid, when you use the Bend Will shout on the stones, releasing them, or just along the shores of the island where they can appear out of nowhere. They are nearly as tall as giants, and hit nearly as hard. All of their melee attacks can stagger you, and even at a distance they can still hurt you by throwing balls of tentacles. Not to mention they are fast for their size. And may the All-Maker help you if you encounter more than one at the same time.
    • The Stones themselves before being cleansed can be pretty ominous, with a group of people working on some kind of structure while reciting a strange mantra. And if you touch the uncleansed stone or sleep, you wake up to find yourself working on the stone, while Miraak ominously calls out to you.
    • The fact that everything you do in the main story of the DLC in some way helps Hermaeus Mora makes you, depending on your character, anywhere between an Unwitting Pawn and an Anti-Hero. How he kills the leader of the Skaal and Miraak is also pretty horrifying, impaling them with his tentacles while giving them a "Reason You Suck" Speech in a very guttural voice. It almost gives the feeling that no matter how powerful the Dragonborn has become, (s)he is still no more than a pawn to the Daedra.
    • Oh, it gets worse than that. To elaborate, Hermaeus Mora spears the Skaal leader through with several tentacles, including one through his brain, and proceeds to have a cruel conversation with the horribly suffering and very much conscious man. And then, when he has what he wants, Mora just shakes the man off the tentacles and disappears, leaving the man's daughter to exclaim in horror over her father's dead body. Yep, she was watching the whole thing. Imagine seeing that happen to your father.
    • Note that Hermaeus Mora isn't necessarily in control of the Dragonborn by the end. Although you end up helping him/it in some ways, the Daedric Prince isn't as all-powerful as he'd like people to think, and is fully capable of misleading people. For one thing, in his Daedric quest in the main game, Mora implies that the Heart of Lorkhan is inside of the locked Dwemer room that Septimus wants to enter, but it really contains Mora's book of knowledge (the Oghma Infinium). On top of that, we have a supposedly all-knowing being needing your help to get knowledge from the Skaal, something that an omniscient entity should not have to do. Next, we have the fact that the Master Telvanni Wizard Neloth says that there's none of the documented signs of Daedric control present in the Dragonborn, such as black spots in the whites of one's eyes. Finally, the Elder Scrolls games as a whole have been mostly oriented against fate as being absolute and unavoidable. Examples of the series' emphasis on free will include the time the Hero of Kvatch was able to break the Greymarch (which was said to be preordained and repeating once every era); when the dragon Paarthurnax explained that prophecy is only what may be, not what must be; and the fact that Elder Scrolls themselves only become fixed in their writing after the event written on them has come to pass. The only two major sources that speak out in favor of fate as being absolute and preordained are Hermaeus Mora (who is misleading at best), and Azura (technically, a priestess of hers says this). So basically, while Mora might have been helped by the Dragonborn, it isn't clear that he's really pulling the strings.
    • A little and horrible (but very easily missed) detail: The Words for any other shout are almost always carved on rock, as the Word has to actually be seen by the Dragonborn in order to learn it. Well, the third Word for the Bend Will Shout is acquired immediately after the Skaal leader dies and there is no Word visible at the time... or so would you think; the Word for it is carved ON THE DEAD LEADER'S CHEST, briefly giving off a faint green/orange/yellow aura, compared to the blue/white that normal words emanate.
    • It's safe to say that the entirety of Dragonborn's main story is like The Elder Scrolls meets H.P. Lovecraft. Since Bethesda has done this before in Oblivion (A Shadow Over Hackdirt) and Fallout 3 (The Dunwich Building), we can easily say Bethesda really really loves Lovecraft.
  • Though eventually you can get desensitized to it, the first few times you raid a bandit camp/fort can be this when you see what they've done to the people they've captured. It's not uncommon to find bodies in locked cells, or in a few cases you can find bodies on tables where they were cut open and tortured. It just makes slaughtering said bandits all the more satisfying when you finally get to do it.
    • And then in Fort Greymoor you find an old woman who's not hostile to you and just states that she just cooks and cleans and does whatever the current occupiers ask her to do. Some of her lines are downright chilling when you think about the things this woman must've seen:
      "I remember one morning long time ago, I woke up and the place was run by some Orcs. Went to bed that night, it was all vampires. Don't matter to me."
      • Though, going by her other dialogue, this isn't them forcing her, but her forcing them to let her stay. She comes with the fort apparently, and bandits, vampires, orcs and anyone else is all cool with it and her. Basically, she plays grandma to all of them, which is just adorable. Imagine her serving up some warmed-up cups of blood to tired vampires, or her being the human grandma to a bunch of orcs.
    • And necromancer hideouts often contain desiccated corpses, often in pieces.
  • Speaking of necromancers, in two major dungeons, you encounter some really nasty pieces of work who have found a way to enslave ghosts.
    • Rannveig's Fast is home to Sild the Warlock, a necromancer who has taken to luring adventurers to the ruin so that he can kill them and enslave their ghosts to his will. You encounter these ghosts as you're heading through the Fast, and when they sight you, they will attack you, but their dialogue as they do so makes it very clear that they are being forced to do this against their will, suggesting that they are fully aware of what is being done to them.
    • Yngvild is home to Arondil, an elven necromancer with a lustful obsession with the women of Dawnstar. Like Sild, he has found a way to enslave ghosts to his will, but unlike him, he prefers to create these ghosts from the women he lusts after, whom he has his draugr bring to him, so that he can basically turn them into unliving Sex Slaves, with all the disturbing undertones one can expect. And that's not even mentioning what he did to the draugr (who in this particular ruin were all female) after first creating them. Sneaky players can steal the soul gem he uses to maintain his control over the ghosts for a very Karmic Death.
  • An in-game book, Physicalities of Werewolves, deals with a researcher's morbid study on live werewolves. It describes the experiments on two subjects, A and B. It starts off relatively innocent with A, even though he eventually dies as well. It's with subject B that things get nauseating, as the researcher performs vivisection on her. In other words, he cut her open while she was still alive and then forced her to transform so he could study the effect the transformation had on her organs and muscles. The subject was still very much alive during all this and before she could succumb to her wounds, the researcher applied "remedies" for the disease directly to the internal organs. The Wolfsbane rendered the subject's bones brittle ("the ribcage nearly collapsed at the touch") while some sort of berry juice was pressed directly into the veins, which caused them to "shrivel behind the flow as it moved through the system. Upon reaching the heart, the major vessels pulled away completely, and the subject expired within minutes." Holy fuck. You can find this book on some members of the Silver Hand, which pretty much adds to their general unpleasantness due to their penchant for torturing any wolves or werewolves that they get their hands on.
  • The moment when you find Meridia's Beacon. So you stumble across a chest and find some goodies as well as some weird prism. "Hmm? Never seen anything like this before..." You take it out, close the chest, and are immediately treated to one HELL of a Jump Scare by this otherworldly voice commanding you to return the beacon to her statue. Mercifully, Meridia is bar none the nicest of the Daedric Princes, but she's still downright terrifying when she wants something from you.
    • You might be surprised that Knight-Commander Meredith has suddenly started demanding something of you in a totally different game; no one will blame you for freaking out.
  • The Forsworn. While they may have some legitimate grievances against the Nords of The Reach, they are still very much the brutal savages that the residents of Markarth make them out to be. They worship Hagravens, who return the favor by ripping out the hearts of chosen Forsworn to turn them into quasi-undead Briarhearts through a dark ritual. At one point, at one of their hideouts, a Forsworn can be seen at a sharpening table with the corpse of a Nord nearby, happily commenting that he's going to turn the Nord's skull into an axe head.
  • The secret death room. Just imagine ending up in a place like this one day by accident and realizing you're completely trapped. The entire "room" is just four tiny hallways connected to doors that wrap around to each other, so there is no escape and you're stuck there. Forever. The whole place really REALLY manages to combine the Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere, Fate Worse Than Death, and Eldritch Location tropes all too well...
    • Which isn't even to mention the fact that, occasionally, the bodies will walk around the room.
  • In one quest, Sanguine gets you drunk, and you proceed to do a lot of crazy things during the night, like stealing a goat, making out with a statue, and proposing marriage to a Hagraven - who accepted, regardless of your gender. When you meet up with her, she is very happy to see you, calling you "My love"; usually Hagravens are always hostile and as far as anyone is concerned, incapable of love or any pleasantries at all. The game doesn't tell you what you might have done that night to gain her approval, so don't think about it too hard. Please.
  • East of Riften lies the "Lost Prospect Mine", where a journal is in the entryway detailing how a couple of miners had tried refreshing it, but it seemed to be tapped out. The author of the journal went to Riften to get supplies and cool his head, and when he returned, his partner was nowhere to be found. If the Dragonborn uses Whirlwind Sprint, the skeletal corpse of the other miner can be found buried hip-deep in a landslide... meaning that he'd died of thirst, starvation, or compression, rather than a quick death.
  • Broken Helm Hollow, a cave east of Riften, is a very small lair with only a few bandits around. However, it's less of a bandit lair and more of a Raider lair — you find a pull chain that leads to what can only be described as a torture chamber, with a bloody chopping block with an axe buried in it, a Flame or Sparks spell tome on the cabinet, a weapons rack, and a corpse lying on the ground. Oh, and the chief of the cave has a bucket of human skulls in the corner and more skulls on display on his dress. The bandits aren't simply killing people they attack, they're dragging them back here to torture them, and then the leader keeps the skulls as trophies. The possibility of cannibalism only makes it worse.
  • In White Ridge Barrow on Solstheim, you will encounter bandits who are being controlled by an Albino Spider variant that adheres to their necks and covers their skin in some glowing light green web.
  • While most are amusing, some of the glitches can be scary. Some of these include:
  • This one is very easy to miss unless you do a lot of poking around in the southernmost mountains near Falkreath. You find an extremely out-of-the-way castle called Bloodlet Throne - why, it's just begging to be explored with a name like that, isn't it? Sure enough, it's populated with vampires. If you're a higher level, they're not too hard to dispatch, though all the bloodied bones scattered everywhere don't make you feel exactly comfortable, and periodically the silence is broken by wolf howls. Eventually you make your way to the penultimate confrontation. You emerge into an underground arena, where dead bandits lie in pools of their own blood and a Volkihar vampire lord sits on a throne overlooking the scene. He opens the gates, and you're instantly swarmed by a pack of wolves. The vampires have been capturing victims and throwing them into the pit to fight for their lives - as a spectator sport.
    • Also, this location and its denizens are part of the vanilla game, so the fact that the dungeon's Final Boss is a Volkihar vampire can be a little unsettling if you don't have Dawnguard installed and aren't expecting to meet one of those.
  • 90% of the time, killing a zombie results in a simple grunt as it dissolves to ashes. The other 10%? The zombie will let out a pained "thank...you..." before crumbling to ash.
  • In the city of Falkreath, you will meet parents mourning their deceased little daughter in the cemetery. Speaking with them will allow you to initiate the "Ill Met by Moonlight" quest, in which you will meet the girl's murderer, Sinding. When talking to him, he will tell you, full of remorse, that he indeed killed the girl: he is a lycanthrope, and is under a curse from the ring he possesses which turn him into a werewolf at random. He explains that he was unable to control himself and his impulses, leading him to find the ring which was supposed to help him control his inner beast, but it only made the situation worse. He needed to hunt, and the frail little girl was a perfect prey. His story is spine-chilling, to say the least. In the end, you will be given by Hircine, the Daedric Lord of the Hunt, the choice to spare him or to kill him, but even if you decide to spare him, and despite his promises to stay away from civilization, he will appear once again randomly in cleared bandit camps, feeding on corpses, or fighting a guard from the local hold. In the end, he will never be able to control his beastblood, and the player will have no choice but to put him down before he kills another human being.
  • The book Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader. After a heist gone wrong gets his brother killed, a Khajiit realizes how much the pelts of the intelligent races are worth. So he embarks on a murderous spree, killing Khajiit and Argonians for their skins, until he is caught. The jailer allows him to write this story on the night before his execution. He has a lockpick and he knows how to use it and get out of the city. His head will not roll in the morning.
    • The nightmare fuel gets doubled or even tripled if you're a Khajiit or Argonian with this psycho out for your potential pelt. It also becomes Nausea Fuel for the former.
  • Dwemer ruins are generally fun to explore and not too scary. Then there's Kagrenzel, an out-of-the-way ruin in the eastern mountains. When you step through the front door of the place, you find yourself in a dark room; take a step forward, and a mysterious glowy orb will light up in the center of the room, on a pedestal surrounded by a couple of dead bandits. Approaching the orb gives the prompt to touch it. You'd expect it to trigger some automatons or an easily avoided Death Trap, right? Wrong. Touching the orb will cause walls to pop up all around you, trapping you completely, while the orb starts floating around the room emitting a horrific screeching noise. After a few tense moments, the room goes dark completely... and then the floor flips over, dropping you down a hundred-foot shaft in the ground. Fortunately, there's Soft Water below to break your fall; unfortunately, there are protruding ledges that may very well kill you instantly on the way down. And even if you do survive, you're now trapped in a cave full of Falmer... It's almost like something that made its way out of a survival horror game and wound up in Skyrim.
  • The beginning of the quest "Lost to the Ages" is a blending of Nightmare Fuel and Paranoia Fuel. You enter a Dwemer ruin, and since it's probably not your first, you know that the place is likely to be crawling with vicious automatons and quite possibly Falmer. You therefore move in stealth mode, weapon at the ready, but nothing appears. Occasionally, for no immediately clear reason, the ground shakes; red-tinted clouds of dust rise from the ground and settle again. And then, when you reach a certain point, you suddenly hear the unfamiliar disembodied voice of a soft-spoken woman.
    Turn back.
  • Grelod the Kind is obviously an abusive monster to the children of Honorhall Orphanage. What makes it worse is the fact that there is a small room in the orphanage with shackles on the walls. The implications of this are absolutely horrifying, and make Grelod even less sympathetic.

Alternative Title(s): The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/NightmareFuel/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim?from=HighOctaneNightmareFuel.TheElderScrollsVSkyrim