King Olaf. Solitude has a festival where he is burned in effigy. He seems to have had a better approval rating in the other Holds, but his reign was so long ago that it is hard to say for certain whether it was good or merely not bad enough to inspire annual effigy-burnings. When you enter Shor's Hall in Sovngarde, though, he'll be there, so his actions in life were likely more than honorable. He also wants the bard that wrote a particularly scathing verse about him to join him in Shor's Hall.
And speaking of long dead reviled rulers, Wolf Queen Potema. Unlike Olaf, however, there is absolutely zero dispute over how evil and how reviled she was. Apart from some crazy necromancers trying (foolishly) to bind and enslave her, and some vampires living in her catacombs, no one has anything positive to say about her. At all. Also unlike Olaf, her ghost is not found in Sovngarde, either before or after the two quests concerning her, so there truly is no silver lining with her.
The Emperor himself, Titus Mede II, though to a lesser degree than Olaf. While not the victim of a effigy-burning ritual like Olaf (possibly because he's still in power), very few people, if anyone at all, seems to have anything positive to say about the Emperor. Even those supposedly loyal to him are more loyal to the Empire as a whole than they are to him. The very one who hires the Dark Brotherhood to have the Emperor killed is a member of the Elder Council. The reason for this hatred is because he surrendered to the Thalmor, but when you meet him he comes across as a supremely Reasonable Authority Figure, as well as a perfect example of Face Death with Dignity, so the hatred seems somewhat undeserved.
The Thalmor, the fascist High Elf government. The number of non-Thalmor in Skyrim who support them can be counted on one hand, and even those seem mostly to be paid-off agents. There are quite a few High Elves who dislike them for their extreme ways. The only reason the Thalmor even came to power in the first place was due to the chaos caused by the Oblivion Crisis (and their successful lie in their home territory that it was them who resolved the crisis).
After the End: Of Morrowind, the eponymous setting of the third game, and by extension many parts of Solstheim. If you played Morrowind's expansion Bloodmoon, then exploring the island in Dragonborn can be very depressing indeed, since much of it has since been devastated by Red Mountain's eruptions; the Imperial Legion and most other non-Dunmer inhabitants packed up and ran off during the initial eruption two centuries before. You'll recognize quite a number of familiar locations - many of which are now crumbling and long abandoned ruins.
A Homeowner Is You: You can own several houses, one in each of the five major holds. The Hearthfire DLC allows you to buy land in three of the other four holds, then construct a house with your own two hands, thus combining this trope with An Interior Designer Is You.
The only hold where you can't own property is Winterhold, most likely because of how much land was lost in the collapse. However, the trope still applies in Winterhold, because if you complete the College of Winterhold questline, you become Archmage, which entitles you to the finest residence inside the college buildings.
The Dragonborn DLC adds another house to your holdings, completely free of charge, if you complete the relevant quest in Raven Rock and are thus rewarded with the property. It's a very nice home, already furnished with no need to purchase any upgrades or changes, and even has an achievement attached to owning it. However, if you have a spouse and/or children, you cannot ask them to relocate to this house.
Abnormal Ammo: Hilariously played with in the Dragonborn DLC. You can use live spiders as thrown weapons; some of them even explode!
Aborted Arc: Numerous important plot threads and apparent quest hooks go nowhere.
If you speak to the Thieves' Guild member Rune, he will tell you his backstory and the reason for his peculiar name and you can offer to keep your eyes open in order to help him discover his origins. And then... nothing. It's never brought up again in the Thieves' Guild questline and there is no quest having anything to do with Rune's backstory.
There's Mjoll, a former adventurer trying to clean up the corruption in Riften. You never get a chance to help her deal with either the Thieves' Guild or Black-Briar family. This option was originally planned but was cut for time during development.
The first quest you get in the civil war questline after joining either faction is to retrieve the Jagged Crown, a crown worn by countless former High Kings and Queens which would serve as a powerful symbol for the people of Skyrim to rally around if retrieved. After you retrieve it, it never gets mentioned again.
It's mentioned when you talk to people in the College of Winterhold that the previous mage group before you went missing. You can happen upon their bodies by chance, and pick up unique items of theirs, but you can't do anything for them, find out whether the deaths were connected, or bring anyone any closure. This is actually a glitch, as Phinis Gestor was supposed to offer you the quest, but never does.
One quest has you tracking a man's wife who was kidnapped by bandits, but it turns out she's taken over the band and enjoys her new life, so she asks you to lie about her fate to get rid of him. When you do, she says she owes you a debt and will see you again someday because she means to repay it. She doesn't; you two never meet again.
In Dawnguard, if you side with the vampires, it's a plot point that two of Harkon's top lieutenants are feuding, and both are plotting to overthrow Harkon. The end result of this is that one of them sends two guys to kill you during your first quest for Harkon. After this, the plot is never mentioned again, even after you kill Harkon and take over as lord/lady of the castle. Presumably you keep around two guys who are trying to kill one another, and really want your job.
One that was thankfully cut was that Mephala's quest would result in all of Jarl Balgruuf's children seeking him out and committing patricide. The scripts are completely finished and in game, but unused. It's probable that the testers felt this was an undignified end for the Jarl and would take away a major moral dilemma of the Civil War arc.
And there's the Thalmor. The Civil War is being fought in the first place because of them. Yet after it's over, no matter which side wins, there's never a Moot to declare the king/queen of Skyrim and no plans are made to attack the Thalmor.
The Daedric Lords Azura and Nocturnal both wear robes split from shoulders to navel. While Azura is only depicted through statues, Nocturnal appears in person. Her robes are unobtainable barring console commands or mods.
Absurdly High Level Cap: Before patch 1.9, maxing all skills to 100 would get you to the level cap of 81. Patch 1.9, however, added the Legendary feature, which resets a skill from 100 to 15, returning any perk points spent on that skill in the process. Through this mechanic, there is no limit on level, though you'll have the points to unlock every single perk by 261.
Abusive Parents: Lemkil from Rorikstead. He beats his daughters Britte and Sissel, and loudly complains in public that his children are good for nothing but caterwauling and complaining. And his abuse causes Britte to turn around and abuse Sissel as well, so poor Sissel has it doubly bad.
There's also an ambiguous example with Golldir, the Nord warrior found outside Hillgrund's Tomb with his own personal quest. According to Golldir, his father, whom he calls "Da", locked him in the tomb when he was young; but the note you can find from his Aunt Agna claims that it was his brother who locked him in there instead. Nothing in the game explains the discrepancy, so Golldir may or may not fall under this trope, although other comments he makes about his father seem to imply that he does.
Dwemer weren't well-liked by other races in the distant past, and we see a few good examples of why in this game. They twisted the Falmer (Snow Elves) into the morlock-like forms you see today and used them as slaves. Whatever the Dwemer did changed the very nature of their souls: Sentient creatures (like the various races of elves, humans, etc) have black souls. Subhuman creatures and beasts have white souls. Falmer souls are white, meaning that they fall into the second category. It's not really known for sure whether this is an intentional feature or not, though in Dawnguard, a non-corrupted Snow Elf mentions that the Falmer became what they are over centuries.
Dragons and the dragon cults worshiping them are another example. Alduin disregarded his divine mandate to serve as the World-Eater and established a vast theocratic dictatorship over early Nord society. The legacy is still felt in modern Skyrim with the Draugr ruins scattered across the landscape, as well as the dragon mounds where the bones of the old dragons are buried.
Death by exposure to the cold is non-existent, regardless of race or blood. Even swimming naked in freezing waters topped with ice floes off the northern shoreline has no ill effects. One dungeon requires you to explore and loot an underwater ship in just such conditions. The Nords that populate Skyrim do have a canonical inherent resistance to cold that protects them, but that's it. Ironically, the Khajiit, who are covered from head to tail in fur, are the only race to actually complain about the cold, though they have the excuse of being native to a desert region. Argonians are sometimes described by characters in the game as vulnerable to cold, but the race doesn't actually have a weakness to the element. Some fan-made mods, such as Frostfall, implement the "exposure" feature which is otherwise absent from the game.
All currency, even that found in ancient Dwemer or Nordic ruins, is represented by septims to avoid inventory and exchange hassles. Similarly, any lockpick-like item (bobby pins, smith tools, etc.) is just represented by the same lockpick item. For that matter, all locks, whether they're on wooden doors or Chaurus Chitin chests, all have the same metal-in-wood interface.
Individual septims, lockpicks and arrows have no weight, leading to scenarios where you're potentially carrying around with you a million gold pieces, thousands of lockpicks, and a small army's worth of arrows. There's an achievement earned if you are able to carry 100,000 gold pieces on your person.
All potions in the game weigh half a pound, no matter the weight of the ingredients. Possibly justified in that it may be only a small part of an ingredient's whole which is used in brewing the concoction. We don't see the mixing process in any actual detail, which is another case of Acceptable Breaks from Reality in itself.
You don't need bottles when performing alchemy, and venom and essence looted from Frost Spiders and Ice Wraiths are conveniently stored in vials despite presumably being extracted from the corpses.
All tombs and caves, even those that have been sealed for centuries or longer, have candles and torches burning to light the way. While players can still use Torches and spells to light the way, the innate lighting saves them from being unable to see in battle if they want to wield a shield or an off-hand weapon, and the light-producing spells make it next to impossible to Sneak.
The way food consumption occurs is one of the most egregious examples. Your character can consume any amount of food, of any kind, in a single instant, leading to absurd scenarios where the Dragonborn downs literally pounds upon pounds of meat, cheese and assorted soups to recover all of their health during combat. The "acceptable breaks" part comes in the fact that if it were handled realistically, food items would just be worthless junk (a lot of them are anyway, but still), and consuming them would just be a novelty action that the player takes once or twice and then never again (since, unlike in Fallout: New Vegas, there is no "hardcore mode" requiring some amount of food and water consumption).
Summon your own with the "Flaming Familiar" conjuration spell.
Atronachs and some Dwarven Spiders have the explode-upon-death variant.
J'zargo's "Scroll of Flame Cloak" spell is designed to be extra effective on the undead. A pity they are also effective on the user...
There are also "small" spiders in the Dragonborn DLC that jump at the player to attack, exploding in the process. You can even find a machine to craft your own to throw at enemies (and they come in fire, ice, lightning, and poison varieties to boot).
Action Girl: A female Dragonborn and nearly all female recruitables. Delphine also qualifies, despite being in her fifties, as do the female housecarls standing guard over Jarl Balgruuf and Jarl Igmund. And of course, Gormlaith Golden-Hilt takes a close-up approach to dragonslaying.
Adjective Animal Alehouse: The Bannered Mare, The Winking Skeever, The Sleeping Giant, and The Stumbling Sabrecat (a tiny one in Fort Dunstad) in the main game proper.
Also, the tavern found in in the Dunmer port town of Raven Rock when visiting Solstheim with the Dragonborn DLC is called The Retching Netch. In the cases of The Retching Netch and The Winking Skeever, you can remark on the name to the owner and he will explain how he came up with it.
Adorkable: Farkas is a hunk of greatsword-wielding werewolf muscle. And he's a big old teddy bear!
All of the apprentices at the College of Mages.
A few of the bards could be considered this as well.
Calcelmo has his moments too, especially during the "Book of Love" quest.
Farengar becomes this at the mere mention of dragons.
Adventure Archaeologist: In addition to the Dragonborn him/herself, there's Katria, from the quest "Lost to the Ages" in the Dawnguard expansion. Notably, the fact that she's dead and a ghost doesn't actually stop her from helping you through a Dwemer ruin and then helping you track down leads on various Aetherium Shards all over Skyrim before trying to locate the Aetherium Forge so she can complete her life's work and prove that her apprentice (who stole her theories on the Forge and appropriated them as his own) is a fraud.
Calling most of them evil is a stretch, but all of the Khajiit you meet are some degree of amoral self-serving crooks. There's Vasha, heavily involved in organized crime; J'zargo, who is willing to steal relics from the College to further his experiments; and the caravan merchants, who become fences for the Thieves' Guild transporting their goods across Skyrim. And at the same time, all of them are soft-spoken, polite and friendly.
The Dark Brotherhood themselves are very much a family and treat each other with a great deal of respect and even friendship. They're so nice, in fact, that you might forget that they're all ruthless murderers.
Lord Harkon in Dawnguard is this, right up until you either refuse his offer to make you a vampire or turn against him.
Winterhold has "The Chill," which is their prison, but is really just a cave with some cells in it. However, it's far to the north, pushing up against the map boundaries, in the middle of the frozen sea, guarded by Frost Atronachs, and in a region home to bears and horkers.
Tamriel's skies have two moonsnote actually recolored pictures of Mars and Triton, which are actually the rotting remains of the god who created the planet. The phases they go through are technically impossible, but the sky only looks that way because that's the only way mortal minds can interpret it.note The sun is actually a hole punched in the fabric of reality by Magnus to escape being bound to Nirn, and each star is a lesser hole created by those who followed Magnus (known as the Magna-Ge) escaping from being bound to the planet. The other eight planets in the sky are the planes occupied by the Aedra that chose to stay and remain bound to Nirn.
A more pronounced example would be Sovngarde. The sky there looks like a giant Boom Tube with nebula walls and unearthly lighting.
Dawnguard gives us the Soul Cairn, whose sky is dominated by an enormous whirlpool-like void.
In Dragonborn, there's also Apocrypha, whose sky is a sickly green with masses of floating tentacles... which are nothing less than good 'ol Hermaeus Mora himself.
All There in the Manual: The official game guide contains a lot of information that isn't present in the game, particularly details about the various NPCs. For example, Delvin Mallory's description claims that he was raised in Honorhall Orphanage and was later taken in by Gallus, and when he accidentally killed someone during a robbery, Gallus sent him to stay with the Dark Brotherhood for a year (where Delvin became Astrid's lover) until people forgot about it.
Mzulft is scattered with destroyed automata and the dead wizards who tried to access it before you, and Avanchnzel similarly shows the handiwork of the team of adventurers who stole the Lexicon. Both allow you to follow and eavesdrop on the ghosts of the party who went before you as you venture deeper into the ruins. Labyrinthian has a similar ghost show going on as you make your way through it.
Folgunthur, under the giant rock arch that is Solitude (right under the Blue Palace in fact) has the remains of the warlock seeking the Gauldur Amulet part of the way in; you'll find a few dead bandits at the site of some traps, and a couple totem puzzles already completed.
Ustengrav has some evidence that Delphine somehow managed to pry the "back door" open to get at the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller: a few draugr inside the chamber with Windcaller's tomb already lie dead.
Alternative Character Interpretation: An In-Universe example crops up during the quest "In My Time of Need." Saadia claims that she spoke out against the Thalmor, and that the Alik'r are Thalmor mercenaries sent to kill her. Kematu, however, claims that Saadia sold out a powerful family in Hammerfell to the Thalmor, and the Alik'r are trying to take her back to Hammerfell alive so she can face justice. There is plenty of evidence for both claims, but you never learn who exactly is telling the truth. The only thing both sides agree on is that Saadia's real name is Iman.
Altum Videtur: Subverted for the first time in the series. While Cyrodiil and the Imperials are still expies of the Roman Empire, their names are no longer always Latin-sounding, but also Italian sounding (Adrianne Avenicci being an example). This shows that the language of Cyrodiil and the Empire has changed in the last 200 years.
"Pentius Oculatus" means "inward eyed" in Latin. It's one of the few times that the actual language is used.
Fridge Logic suggests this difference may be symbolic of the Empire's decline. The Roman era ended with the last dynasty, so the culture and language are shifting away from Latin and towards Italian.
Always Chaotic Evil: The Falmer, after centuries of enslavement twisted them into hideous Morlock-like beings and rendered blind by eating toxic fungi. They are the only mortal humanoid race with no non-hostile members. Every single Falmer seen in-game is an evil monster who wants to kill and eat you. Dawnguard messes with this formula by introducing the single remaining uncorrupted Snow Elf, who is attempting (without apparent success) to redeem the race.
He does mention that, rather than being "evil", the Falmer seen in the game are more or less feral; he refers to them as "the Betrayed." According to him, they are slowly (over hundreds of years) regaining their sentience and may be able to communicate in several hundred more years.
Always Check Behind the Chair: Skyrim rewards the explorer who checks behind waterfalls, and pays attention to those little cracks where things can stick out or which might be a side-passage you just can't see properly unless you look from the right angle.
In many dungeons, the switch or pull chain to open a door or gate is often in plain sight. In other cases though, they're very, very well hidden, and sometimes there's a trick switch that triggers a trap while the real one is hidden.
In most dungeons with Frostbite Spiders, there will be a wall of the thick, cut-able web. Behind that web is usually a chest.
There is also a skeleton floating under the bridge leading to Dragonsreach in Whiterun, with a few septims in it.
Ambiguously Evil: The dragons, who are following Alduin's orders to wage war on humanity. While most dragons in the game are hostile, the devs have said that more than a few just want to be left alone. As you play through the main quest, you learn that dragon politics aren't nearly as cut-and-dried as you might have thought, and even dragons who follow Alduin generally don't seem to like him much. Indeed, you may now and then encounter a dragon that just flies about overhead, not antagonizing anyone, and then heads off.
May also be a case of Blue and Orange Morality, since dragon culture and instinct is so heavily built around power and domination; to dragons, there is no distinction between being powerful and being right. Battles between dragons are actually deadly verbal debates in the dragon tongue, with the 'winner' of the debate the victor of the battle. Indeed, Arngeir seems to think that whilst all of the dragons (including the Greybeards' benevolent leader Paarthurnax) were Alduin's allies in the Dragon Wars, there was nothing else they COULD have been, since Alduin was the most powerful and therefore deemed morally just also.
The dragons that do just fly overhead will generally attack things that are hostile to the Dragonborn. This is still ambiguous, however, as it's quite possible that the Dragonborn is evil.
An Adventurer Is You: By and large, this trope never comes into play, but most of the schools of magic have the qualities of one of the archetypes.
Destruction is the Nuker.
Conjuration is the Summoner.
Illusion is the Mezzer.
Restoration is, of course, the Healer.
Alteration and Enchanting are different types of utility magic.
Apart from magic, the player could be the Tank when using a ranged-oriented follower, or The Archer or a Melee DPS if using a Heavy-Armored melee-oriented follower.
And I Must Scream: One Dragon Priest is encountered by unlocking his sarcophagus with two keys shaped like skulls. Nothing suggests he was "dead" before the unlocking or even unconscious (Aura Whisper clearly shows him inside before the unlocking). He was most likely trapped in there since the last war against the dragons, which was a couple thousand years ago. Little wonder he is called Otar the Mad.
The backstory found in various in-game sources reveals that Otar had gone insane before he was imprisoned, and the two draugr you have to kill to get the keys to release him were, in their day, heroes who managed to imprison him and were given the task of guarding his tomb so he wouldn't escape. Of course, they were only "heroes" from the perspective of the Dragon Cult, an unremittingly evil group to begin with.
And the Adventure Continues: The credits never roll. Instead, the main questlines for the story and the four guilds end this way, with everyone congratulating you... then getting back to work.
And There Was Much Rejoicing: When Alduin is dead, the dragons and the heroes of Sovngarde cheer the feat, and the Greybeards and Blades are happy as well.
Both sides of the Civil War engage in a bit of this when the faction they approve of takes over the Hold, or at least the faction they dislike is ousted by the other. In particular, at the end of the Imperial side of the quest when Ulfric is killed and Windhelm is turned over to Imperial control, the general reaction of the Dunmer in the city is "good riddance".
Annoying Arrows: Arrows visibly stick in a target for awhile after finding their mark, but unless the shot kills/slows/paralyzes or at least flinches the target, they are otherwise unhindered for it and can continue acting normally, despite the large missile lodged in their leg/arm/cranium/waist/wherever. This applies regardless of whether it's a weak arrow from a low-level bandit (of which you can endure several, even without armor) or a deadly arrow from a master archer (which can potentially kill you in just one or two shots, even through heavy armor). Special mention on the latter goes to high-level Draugr Deathlords toting Ebony Bows and Ebony Arrows (one of the highest-grade materials).
Dwarven Ballistas (primarily seen in the Dragonborn add-on) are effectively walking crossbows, plus their large arrows can penetrate armor.
And then there's the city guards, every one of whom seems to have had an earlier adventuring career ruined by "an arrow to the knee"...
Alduin, Akatosh and Auriel are all Dracomorphic personifications of different aspects of Time, although Akatosh and Auriel may be different names for the same thing.
Daedra (particularly the Princes) are also all abstracts of various concepts, but have a much easier time of rendering themselves into physical form (doing so inside the Mundus is a different matter), due to not having given parts or the whole of themselves over to creating the Mundus.
Antiquated Linguistics: Most residents of Sovngarde speak in this manner. Most noticeable are the three heroes who banished Alduin during the first dragon war.
This seems to be a condition of death, since you can meet people that died in-game who suddenly develop these characteristics when you meet them in Sovngarde. Like Ulfric, Galmar, Kodlak, and Rikke. In addition, the three ancient heroes speak normally in the vision provided by the Elder Scroll, although it is unclear whether that was a case of Translation Convention being performed by the Scroll.
Apocalyptic Log: Several dungeons, particularly Dwemer ruins, have the bodies and journals of previous adventuring parties scattered throughout them. Choice bits you're likely to read are tales of the group being unable to leave somehow, one or more of their group mysteriously going missing, and odd noises and shadows from the lowest depths they've explored so far. The location Japhet's Folly has the eponymous man's desiccated corpse in its basement, along with a journal that tells about how he tried to create a fortress on the island. The cold and harsh weather drove away most of the people that came with him, and eventually he starved to death. The journal ends with the words "OH GODS HELP ME."
There is also the strange case of Arondil, who was a Necromancer working on experiments to enslave the dead in Dawnstar. After people noticed his experiments and realized he was a complete weirdo, they kicked him out of town and he found refuge in an ancient tomb filled with female Draugrs which he successfully enslaved and used as servants. His 4 journals describe in great, creepy detail how he is literally falling in love with a bunch of mummified, dried out corpses. In the latest entries, it's discovered that he murdered several women from Dawnstar as well to have additional ghost servants, and upon finishing the dungeon the player can find a pile of dead women near the exit. Although Arondil is still alive when the player finds the journals, he has lost his mind entirely and won't remain alive for long after meeting the Dragonborn.
North of a remote shipwreck on an otherwise unremarkable sandbar is an unmarked, deserted fisherman's camp. A logbook on a table nearby reveals that it had previously been inhabited by two fishermen, Advald and Skeggr. Advald, the writer, thought his buddy was an idiot for thinking they could catch anything of value and planned to leave the next day. A short distance away is a capsized rowboat with two skeletons floating beneath, surrounded by Slaughterfish. Most skeletons don't have any description beyond "Skeleton", but these two are named Skeggr and Advard.
A particularly tragic example is the family who moved into Frostflow Lighthouse. According to their journals and other notes, the parents thought it was their dream retirement home, but the kids were kind of bored. Gradually they began to notice strange sounds coming from their basement. Turns out that the underbelly of the lighthouse was a massive nest of Falmer and chaurus. The mother and son were brutally massacred; the father was eventually fed to the chaurus broodmother; and the daughter committed suicide in her prison cell to avoid the torment. Many players take a great deal of satisfaction in annihilating everything they find down there as revenge for the innocent.
Several ghosts in Rannveig's Fast dungeon, due to being enthralled by a necromancer. "Run! I don't want to kill you!"
One of the random lines the draugr occasionally say is "Unslaad Krosis", meaning "Eternal Sorrow". Dragons use "Krosis" as as an apology.
An amusing meta-example from the developers; the dragon lair of Shearpoint also contains a Dragon Priest tomb, and if you don't watch your step, you'll often have to simultaneously fight off him and several hundred tons of angry lizard in one of the toughest battles of the game. This priest's name? Krosis.
Arbitrary Skepticism: One quest involves a talking dog. The player has the dialogue option to say, "A talking dog. Now I've seen everything." The dog in question proceeds to hang a lampshade by pointing out that compared to dragons and walking cat-people, talking dogs are not that weird. Of course, he's also not really a dog...
Armor Piercing: Perks available to maces and warhammers allow them to ignore a portion of an enemy's armor rating, making them more effective against heavy armor than other weapons. Dwarven Ballistas also fire powerful crossbow bolts that can bypass armor entirely (and the player is informed of this when taking such a hit).
When the Blades "ask" you to kill Paarthurnax, he says that they are right in thinking that it is his nature to be evil, but he struggles daily to suppress it. He then finishes with "What is better - to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?"
In the Dawnguard DLC, if you side with the eponymous vampire hunters, Harkon attempts this, but fails due to not understanding how relationships work: "And what happens when you've slain me? Is Valerica next? Is Serana?" The answer to this is, of course, no.
The executions at the beginning of the game are called out: Ulfric Stormcloak (the leader of the insurrection), Ralof (one of his high-level lieutenants), Lokir (who stole a horse), and The Hero (who happened to wander by at the time). This is a little jarring when both factions will subsequently treat you as a career criminal - and while some dialogue options let you establish this as truth for your character (and you can certainly become one), it needn't be so.
In the city of Markarth, you meet an Orc in the Cidhna Mines prison by the name of Borkul the Beast. When questioned about why he's in prison, he replies, "Murder, Banditry, Assault, Theft, and Lollygagging." This doubles as a riff on the town guards' random conversations, one of which is, "No lollygagging."
According to Sheogorath, the Emperor Pelagius Septim hated and feared many things, including assassins, wild dogs, the undead, and pumpernickel.
Often happens in dungeons when the Dragonborn is at higher levels: you've just cleared a dungeon, defeated the Forsworn Chief, Draugr Deathlord, or whatever else the final boss was, and are looting the treasure chest they were guarding. It usually has a few valuable items, enchanted weapons, a big pile of gold, rare gemstones ... and an Iron Dagger (or some other incredibly cheap, common item).
Although certainly they are doing it to suck up to the emperor, dialogue and lorebooks hints at a second, somewhat broader reason at play, as well. NPC dialogue and in the lorebooks suggests they might be doing it in preparation for the next war. There are several NPCs in the game (such as General Tullius, just to pick one) who mention point-of-fact bluntly that another "Great War" between the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire is expected by both sides. And, both sides are doing what they can to strengthen themselves and weaken the other side in preparation for it. Thus, the Synod's actions in trying to gather powerful magic artifacts plays right into the notion of the Empire trying to prepare themselves for this war.
Artifact Title: Finally subverted, as it's the first time in the series that an Elder Scroll plays an important part of the main plot. Not only that, but Dawnguard, its first DLC, utilizes three Elder Scrolls in its main questline, including the one mentioned above.
Artificial Atmospheric Actions: There's still some, but it's much better than in the previous games. It was mentioned that it's actually quite hard to make the AI act completely realistic, but they won't talk about nothing but mudcrabs this time. Still, like in Oblivion, you can play the AI for laughs.
If you pick up a goblet or sweet roll, they interpret it as "stealing". However, they may only say "Watch what you're doing!" if you jump up on their table and kick all their plates and goblets everywhere. This makes it quite funny if you trash the Jarl's dining hall and they still sit down at the table at a designated mealtime when all the plates and goblets are on the floor.
A glitch sometimes causes these, such as NPCs patrolling the swampwaters.
The 'cinematic kill' system means that sometimes, when killing an enemy (notably with a handheld weapon or your fists, although it happens with arrows and spells too), the camera will pan out and your character will perform a pre-defined animation to dispatch the enemy. However, any line of dialogue that a character has started will continue to play up until the end of the animation (when the character ragdolls and becomes lootable). This can result in some strange and amusing moments, such as characters mentioning that they're sure that they heard something as your dagger pierces their throat, or continuing to mock you even as you stab them through the chest.
All of the characters in Riften will riot if you drop items, from Daedric artifacts to a common sweetroll. This includes those who consider themselves to be above all this, like Mjoll the Lioness, who are more than happy to join in on the riots. If you return Mjoll's lost sword Grimsever, and then start committing crimes in front of her, like other residents of Skyrim she will attack until a guard comes by to talk to you - but she'll attack your attackers, not you.
In an improvement to the previous games, starting a dialogue doesn't stop time, allowing for a more fluid conversation. Unfortunately it doesn't stop certain important events such as dragon attacks taking place in the background, either. And the NPC just keeps on calmly talking as the village is being burned behind them. Makes for a Funny Background Event when they calmly talk about the rebellion... and the town guards are shouting "Slay the dragon!" in the background. This can be fatal when NPCs initiate a scripted conversation with you in the middle of combat.
If you have spells readied, you'll be told to "Go cast your fancy magic someplace else." The fact that there is a fresh-slain dragon burning up in front of you is irrelevant.
You'll get different greetings from guards depending on your status with a given faction. However, as you advance, you'll still hear the old greetings in addition to the new ones. So one guard will be saying what an honor it is to meet the Harbinger of the Companions while another asks if your job as newbie of the Companions is to fetch the mead. Likewise, guards can hail you as the Dragonborn, Harbinger, Archmage, etc., and then immediately tell you they're watching you because they know you're a thief.
The miscellaneous trader in Falkreath is pleasant and friendly. But he ends every single transaction by warning you that you'll regret it if you steal anything from his shop... even if you have the Investor perk and have contributed money to the shop, thus able to help yourself to almost anything there.
Sometimes the game loads dialogue meant for citizens onto enemies, resulting in you shooting a bandit in the face and killing him/her, only to have the corpse bark "watch it!" at you as it falls to the ground.
Guards will occasionally look at the body of another NPC who was killed by a dragon - often while they were present - and ask out loud who could have done such a thing.
Serana is the first follower to actively partake in various activities while idle, ranging from using the alchemy table to sitting down. However, while she is programmed to do activities, the devs never gave her a specific set. This results in her doing stuff she shouldn't be, like meditating with the Greybeards, or working the Skyforge when it becomes Kodlak's funeral pyre.
Bryling and Falk Firebeard will often talk to each other about their affair and how they need to keep it a secret from Erikur... often right in front of Erikur (and the entire Blue Palace court).
NPCs are coded to look at you when you're within a certain distance. This, however, gets a bit silly when either 1) they're enemies and are looking for you and their AI doesn't register that they've seen you (so they stand there gawking at you, despite still "looking" for you) or 2) when they're walking past you while you're supposed to be talking about something hush-hush. (A good example is in Helga's Bunkhouse, where a sidequest has you go on a plot to humiliate her by grabbing incriminating evidence; she should have no idea you've been tasked with this, but can easily wander between you and the quest-giver during the conversation.)
While escaping from Helgen with either Hadvar or Ralof, you can murder either the torturers or the Stormcloaks right in front of Hadvar or Ralof respectively, and they won't even care.
Subverted with Hadvar, as right before going into the torture room, Hadvar lets you know that he doesn't have a high opinion of this particular room or its hosts. Sometimes upon killing them he might even say "These bastards call themselves Imperial Legionnaires..." Strangely, that still doesn't stop Hadvar from trying to save them from their impending deaths at the hands of the dragon or the Stormcloaks. Ralof to the stormcloaks, on the other hand, plays the trope straight.
If an enemy is being attacked by a foe they cannot reach or attack with ranged weaponry, they will run for cover until said foe can be attacked.
Note that the same thing sometimes happens if your sneak skill is so high (and, sometimes, the lighting so dark) that they simply cannot find you, despite being right next to you. A lightly-wounded enemy in this position who simply can't find you sometimes loses their cool completely, screams "I cannot best you!", runs away and hides for awhile. It's particularly amusing when draugr do it; their "fleeing shuffle" is hilarious yet surprisingly swift.
Steal that guy's stuff, and then get ambushed by thugs a few days later? Search the bodies, there's a connection. (Oddly, however, Artificial Stupidity can be at play at the same time, with the thugs being hired by someone who is dead.)
Arrows become Annoying Arrows in more ways than one. In the previous games, enemies would just dead-zone you or stand there and fire. If you try to shoot them with a bow (or magic) and they know you're there, they will strafe left or right so you'll miss. They will also pluck your arrows out of their own bodies and equip them, if they have bows.
It can be surprising when enemies block. It can be more surprising when an enemy shield bashes you right when you start a power attack, knocking you to your knees.
If you manage to jump up somewhere a melee equipped enemy can't reach, they will retreat behind cover. They are pretty good at it too; if you move a little bit so you can get a shot off, they will adjust their position to better conceal themselves.
Sneak into a room with bandits and drop something valuable on the floor, like a gemstone. The bandits will argue with each other over the object, and eventually attack each other.
Scare a vampire off by overwhelming force or magical fear effects? They might use an invisibility spell while retreating.
Preparing a powerful shout to launch at a high-level mage? When he hears the first word, he raises a magical shield to protect him from it. You can trick him... if you ONLY use the first word instead of adding the other two, his Shield won't be ready to intercept it, since it takes a bit of time.
With Dawnguard, enemies and allies are now much smarter. They'll grab better weapons if someone nearby drops them, including staves, and will set ambushes in mid-battle. Melee-armed enemies will actually retreat into cover and let archers/mages blast you, and then wait for you to get close before jumping out and attacking you in close-quarters.
With the addition of Hearthfire, you're welcome to wait inside a store until the storekeeper falls asleep, but you'll find that half of their stock sitting on the counter has gone with them. They now put their counter stock away when they close up shop, making it harder to steal.
Certain quests, most notably the Courier quest in the Civil War storyline, require you to find a traveling NPC. Savvy players might try to intercept the NPC by fast traveling to the nearest major location. However, when they do so, the quest marker will advance by an appropriate distance relative to how fast the NPC can move during that time. The only way to avoid this is to actually chase down the NPC on foot, as the game intended.
Allied NPCs have no compunctions about wading into melee combat while you're swinging about a huge, slow warhammer, blasting the area with spells, or shooting at enemies with a bow. This frequently results in their death from accidental friendly fire.
You can steal just about anything by putting a cauldron or bucket on the owner's head.
When going after the Eldergleam Sap, Maurice Jondrelle is smart enough to ask to go with you for protection to see the Eldergleam Sanctuary. He is not smart enough to avoid running up to any bear, bandit or dragon you stumble across on the way and flailing at it with his bare, unarmored hands. Worse, if you fast-travel, you can't bring him with you and you have to wait for him at the sanctuary... and hope nothing kills him along the way.
Some followers will treat all people who draw their swords against you the same way. Good luck explaining to Balgruuf why a 25-septim bounty resulted in the deaths of half his town.
The traditional dragon greeting (as shown by Paarthurnax) is breathing fire on the other dragon. The traditional reaction of a follower is trying to kill the (very friendly) dragon.
Shouting enough in the back of a jail cell can result in a guard opening the cell door.
If you have a high enough pickpocket skill, you can steal an NPC's clothes. Said NPC will then just walk around in their underwear and go about their daily business as if nothing's different. No other NPC will comment on this, despite the fact that every NPC will comment if the player character is in a similar state of undress.
Your follower's greatest enemy is boulders; they can easily kill themselves by carelessly walking into fallen rocks and stubbing their toes on them.
When exploring small rooms, followers and summoned creatures/animal companions have a habit of standing right inside a doorway, preventing you from leaving until they back up. Sometimes they do it right away, other times they just stand there looking at you, and probably wondering why you're running into them. Makes shouting "Fus Ro Dah!" at them very tempting when they do this.
Dragons, one of the most feared creatures in-universe, will sometimes disengage from fighting you, and fly off far away to engage a random mudcrab or goat. While hilarious at times, it can make killing them a chore if you don't have the Dragonrend shout (or forget to use it/miss) to keep them from flying off.
Guards really don't have a well-developed AI for prioritizing which enemy to kill first if they are fighting multiple targets. If you and a number of hold guards are engaged in a fierce battle with a dragon, for example, accidentally hitting a guard with an arrow results in an immediate bounty on your head and all guards will drop what they are doing and attack you, while the dragon gleefully flies around and attacks everyone.
Artistic License – Chemistry: "Steel" is an alloy of iron and usually carbon, though also occasionally using manganese, chromium, vanadium and tungsten. In Skyrim, it is an alloy of iron and corundum, which has none of those elements present inside. Then again, corundum looks nothing like it does in real life, and the Nonindicative Name is in full force in this setting; see below.
Also, Ebony is a wood, not an ore. Though this one has been in effect throughout the Elder Scrolls franchise.
Artistic License – Geography: Whiterun, Eastmarch, and territories north of these areas are described in-universe as being a tundra environment. However, the presence of trees, high grass, and good farming land in places like Rorikstead indicate the opposite. Permafrost would prevent the growth of trees and most tall plants and severely inhibit farming. In fact, the Pale is largely coniferous forest and Hjaalmarch is a tree-covered swamp, both of which don't occur beyond the tree line that marks where tundra begins.
Artistic License – Geology: A number of ores that can be mined have real-life names, but are actually fantastic metals that bear little resemblance to that which they were named after:
Corundum is depicted as a greenish ore that can be melted into opaque dark gold ingots. Real Life Corundum is a crystalline form of aluminum oxide best known as "Sapphire" and "Ruby" when they are gem-quality. If you were to melt it, it'd turn into alumina, which is white.
Ebony is depicted as a rough black ore which can be melted into dull, malleable ingots, which can in turn be crafted into either glassy black armor or dull grey-black weapons. In the lore, it's said to be a super-durable glassy substance with mystical and holy properties. Real life ebony is a type of wood.
Malachite in real life is a glassy greenish mineral, much closer to its appearance in Skyrim than the other examples listed here, and is actually an ore of copper. However, it's fairly certain that actual malachite armor wouldn't work very well.
Skyrim's moonstone is in a similar situation to the malachite — it is fairly close in appearance to the real-life counterpart (a gemstone), but is noticeably more useful for making practical armor.
Quicksilver is another name for mercury, which is a liquid at room temperature.
Ascended Fanboy: Erik the Slayer. He's a young farmer's son from a rural town that wants to be an adventurer just like yourself. You have the option to help him live his dream by paying for or talking his father into paying for a weapon and set of armor. You can then hire him one time to make him an adventuring companion.
The character is based on real life fan Erik West, known as Immok the Slayer online, who was immortalized in the game after sadly dying of cancer. That makes Erik the Slayer a product of Promoted Fanboy as well.
Ascended Glitch: The fact that giants knock things really high into the sky, which is now part of a quest.
Ascended Meme: Sheogorath's line "Cheese for everyone!" from Shivering Isles is referenced during his quest.
On X Box Live, one can now get an "Arrow in the knee" accessory for your avatar, referencing the now memetic line "I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took an arrow in the knee."
Most Dark Brotherhood targets, in contrast to some of the targets in Oblivion.
Grelod the Kind is a horrible, horrible woman who runs an orphanage. She treats the kids as slaves and tells them all to their faces that they're never going to be adopted because nobody wants them. Small wonder, then, that one of the kids is trying to contract the Dark Brotherhood to eliminate her (and you may feel very little heartache for doing her in). Not only will the children cheer for you upon discovering her corpse, you will receive no bounty for murdering her in plain sight.
Vasha is a self-confessed thief, murderer and rapist, who is disappointed if a day goes by without the bounty on his head getting bigger.
Beitild is a Jerkass foreman who apparently treats her workers like crap.
Vittoria Vici is not just quite a bitch herself, but even before her marriage, you can see she has been sleeping with someone else. She also is revealed to be in league with Ja-ree and Deeja with the creation kit..
Hern and Hert are vampires, who prey on travellers that visit their mill.
Safia is a pirate, who also smuggles Balmora Blue.
Astrid. She's technically not a target, and she asks you to kill her, but she's the last kill in the questline, and she did try to sell you out to the royal guard to save herself and her group...
Quests outside of the Dark Brotherhood questline make Clan Shatter-shield very unsympathetic. They are a corrupt family that hires bloodthirsty pirates to harass their competition and treat their foreign workers as little more than slaves.
When you first join them, Babette (a child vampire) regales her friends with the tale of how she lured a creepy old man (possibly pedophile) into a dark alley and killed him horribly.
Pretty much everyone in the Markarth questline. You can side with the Forsworn who are genocidally racist or the Silver-Bloods who are using petty criminals and political opposition as slave labor in their mines.
Every single Thalmor you kill. All of them. Even Bethesda says that those jerks deserve it, and the guards in the game agree. The largest penalty you incur for killing a Thalmor is a 40 septim fine for assault.
Roggvir, the guard who opened Solitude's gates to help Ulfric escape and was beheaded for it, was this according to Sorex Vinius. Vinius claimed that as a child, Roggvir mocked him for liking a girl, and would humiliate him physically or verbally as much as possible, to the extent that Roggvir once put a beehive in his bed. As an adult, Vinius says, he never outgrew his immaturity, or his cruelty. That being said, others in Solitude, including the man who presided over his execution, consider him to be an honorable man.
During the quest "The Forsworn Conspiracy," you'll run into Betrid Silver-Blood at the Treasury House. She is quickly established to be a stuck up, gold-digging bitch who shamelessly admits to the Dovahkiin that she only married her husband for his money. It's really hard to work up sympathy for her when a Forsworn kills her after you talk to Thonar.
Dragons strongly believe in this. So much so that, when you defeat Alduin once and force him to run away, the other dragons question his leadership. One of them even answers your challenge, loses, and does a Heel-Face Turn to pledge his Undying Loyalty to you.
Ulfric attempted to bypass Skyrim's political system with this logic by killing High King Torygg, claiming that if Torygg couldn't protect himself, he couldn't protect Skyrim. Trial by combat is an honored Nord tradition, but the manner in which he did it created a schism that erupted into civil war.
As You Know: Beautifully averted. The Dragonborn is a foreigner to Skyrim, so he/she actually learns about the ongoing events (the Civil War, the Thalmor's influence, etc.) at the same pace as the player.
One possible way to read Ulfric Stormcloak. He believes (falsely) that information he gave up under torture led directly to the capture of the Imperial City and (by extension) everything that happened afterwards, so it's heavily implied that guilt plays a significant role in his desire to overthrow the White-Gold Concordat and ensure that all the deaths during the Great War were not in vain.
Erandur. Once a priest of Vaermina, daedric prince of nightmares; now one of Mara, goddess of love and compassion.
Illia from the Darklight Tower who once worked for the hagravens and now wants to stop her mother becoming one.
Paarthurnax. At one time, he apparently served the Big Bad, and killed a bunch of people. Now, he wants to stop Alduin, and teach other dragons "The Way of the Voice."
This can be you, too, if you wrong one of the guilds. The Dark Brotherhood, Thieves' Guild and College of Winterhold have quests for making restitution if you wrong them. Of course, they're also the only ones that have legitimate things to do after their questline is over...
Attack Animal: The "Conjure Familiar" spell summons a magical wolf to attack enemies. And in the Dragonborn expansion, you can craft elemental attack spiders (which appear as usable items in your Scrolls inventory) to use on enemies.
Dragons seem to exhibit this. Due to their lofty view (and general tendency to constantly fly around while fighting), they tend to aggro (or get aggro'd by) pretty much everything, and get distracted from the walking divine intervention attempting to devour their soul and go attack a random mudcrab.
Some followers will draw attention to certain locations ("Looks like one of those Dwemer ruins") when you get near them... but it doesn't matter whether you're approaching them from outside or inside. Lydia wondering out loud what's inside that cave you just came out of is... slightly odd.
Saving at timed intervals (every 15/30 minutes, etc.), which includes time spent dying and reloading from the last autosave.
When you start a new game, the game makes an autosave to a specific save slot just before you design your character; this allows you to start a new character without having to sit through the entire opening sequence.
On rare occasions, the game may make an autosave right before approaching a boss battle, even if there's no loading screen (or other autosave) taking effect.
The world map is very beautiful, but not very helpful as a road map since it shows no roads, and if you mess too much with your analog while on the map screen, the orientation can be completely screwed up, making it hell to find the desired location on the map. PC players have options in the form of world map retextures that add the roads and remove the occlusive clouds.
Smithing. Depending on how fast you can manage to level it, you can get some of the best armor in the game well before it starts turning up as random drops, as well as improve your equipment to outperform standard issue gear that should be superior (and that's not even getting into the enchanting exploits). Unfortunately, the resource cost to level it that high is enormous, and the only alternative is spending a lot of money to train it up. Further, none of the perks affect your combat skills directly. Lastly, with armor in particular, it's fairly easy to reach the hard cap for damage reduction, meaning that all the effort you put into tempering it is largely wasted.
Alchemy has a similar problem. In addition to the large amount of necessary resources, you have to figure out which combinations do what, which takes time and testing (or a strategy guide). If you can manage to get it up to full, though, you can use it to concoct potions to enhance your smithing and enchanting (and the latter can in turn be used to boost your alchemy skills).
Speech. Sure, it's nice to be able to talk down some people, but there simply aren't that many of them and without investing in the perks for it, you are likely to fail many such examples before speech gets up to a respectable level. The only other reliable way to increase it is to sell things, which is extremely difficult because merchants carry very little money in comparison to the amount you need to sell to level up. This skill and the above two are prime examples for why skill trainers are in the game; it's simply much more efficient to pay these guys to teach you rather than try to upgrade it yourself.
Any good weapon which lies outside your skill set counts as this. That Volendrung is pretty slick looking; too bad you only took one-handed and not two-handed, meaning even weak one-handed weapons are more powerful than it.
The master-level spells have numerous drawbacks. They cost more magicka to cast than most characters will have base, requiring gear to be equipped that reduces the cost. They can't be cast while moving, require both hands (meaning you can't equip a shield to block with while casting) and have a very long animation. The Destruction fire spell is noteworthy for being a short-range area-effect, meaning you have to get in melee range to use it and it's likely to kill your follower.
In some cases, followers. They tend to get in the way, get hit by your area-affect spells, make stealth harder by alerting nearby enemies, get themselves killed, and can make it much more difficult to progress through trap-filled tombs and tight-spaced caves because they're too stupid to avoid the traps you tried so hard to evade or are too slow to get out of your way. This extends to Thralls, too; Thrall summons have no time limit, which makes them basically another follower. It gets worse if you also have the Twin Souls perk, which means you're bringing a small army of Leeroys with you and making friendly-fire an inevitability.
Flame Atronachs explode upon death. Unfortunately, they attack at a distance, and the explosive damage counts as having originated from you. This means that if one dies, anything around it will suddenly think you've just attacked them, and promptly turn hostile (if they weren't already). This can cause you to lose followers mid-combat, aggro nearby friendly NPCs, get bounties placed on your head, and other shenanigans. It doesn't help that they're Leeroys as well. And to top it all off, the explosion damage itself is minuscule, barely enough to kill a mudcrab if that even.
Being a werewolf was this for a while, due to a bug that removed nearly all of your damage protection while transformed. Fortunately, said bug was patched, and Dawnguard's perks tree skews it the other way; now, your biggest issue will be where to wait out all that extra time you got from one-shotting everyone and eating them.
Being a Werewolf or (with the Dawnguard DLC) a Vampire Lord can be this outside of combat, since people are instantly hostile to you and you can't pick anything up. The Vampire Lord is slightly better than the Werewolf in this regard, since you can switch in and out of it at will instead of waiting 24 hours.
Many Shouts fall under this, but Storm Call is probably the most notable. Acquiring all three words is made particularly difficult by the fact that all three of them are guarded by powerful Dragon Priests and one is in an area that's unreachable after clearing the main quest. Your reward for collecting all three is a terrifically powerful Shout that can and will kill almost anything around you... including any followers, friendly NPCs, or random villagers. It can only be used outside, and boasts the longest recharge of any Shout at ten minutes.
The armor that the Dragonborn wears in the trailer also counts, in a meta sense. Armor fits into one of three classes: clothing, light, and heavy. Light and heavy armor each have associated perks which are designed to award benefits for sticking to one category. The Dragonborn in the trailer is wearing a combination of light studded armor and heavy iron armor, which looks cool but would be impractical in gameplay.
Awesome McCoolname: All the Dragon names translated are intimidating and scary. Nord sobriquets are no slouch either.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: If you complete the main questline and let Paarthurnax live, you will return to the top of the Throat of the World to witness dozens of roaring and Shouting dragons who are acknowledging Paarthurnax as their new leader.
However, this scene can also be interpreted as those dozens of Dragons acknowledging you as their new leader. You don't get anything for it, but you did prove that your Voice was stronger than Alduin's.
The formal recognition of the Dragonborn by the Greybeards counts. They basically say you now have rights to two Awesome McCoolnames used by a previous legendary Dragonborn, the illustrious Tiber Septim: "Stormcrown" and "Ysmir, Dragon of The North". And they do it by blasting you with the ritual words of recognition in the dragon tongue, making the ground quake as they do it.
A God Am I: It's eventually revealed that Alduin is actually Akatosh's firstborn, but he pretends to be an aspect of the Dragon of Time after he decided to exploit a misunderstanding. Well, maybe - given other available facts, it is possible that being firstborn doesn't mean he isn't an aspect of the Dragon God of Time...
Eugenics, fascist government, perceived racial superiority, purging of undesirable population elements, goal of total hegemony, secret police, contempt for non-aggression pacts... The Thalmor, rulers of the Aldmeri Dominion, are pretty much Nazi elves. Not to mention that their robes have a certain SS/Gestapo vibe to them.
The Stormcloaks are a little subtler about it, but the parallels are there. Their attitude toward the Empire and the White-Gold Concordat is very similar to the Nazis' stabbed-in-the-back narrative, and they're not at all pleasant to the Dark Elves, who realistically couldn't have had anything to do with the Empire's defeat but don't have a powerful nation-state to back them up like the Thalmor do. Argonians also cannot live in Ulfric's city, because the guards will beat them to death if they try to live there. Less subtle once you find out more about Ulfric Stormcloak, and how he feels he fought for nothing in the war and wants to see Skyrim restored to its glory days. He's also a pretty charismatic guy and gives a hell of a speech.
Back Stab: Both thieves and assassins do their best damage from behind, and getting the Assassin's Blade perk allows you to do 15x damage with a dagger sneak-attack.
Couple that with the shrouded gloves you get, which DOUBLES that, and you can one-shot most enemies in the game. A vampire wearing muffled boots with either the invisibility spell or the invisibility power can slay almost any enemy in the game in one hit. The ONE exception is Alduin, who will always see you when you approach.
Back-to-Back Badasses: You and Serana against the army of Frozen Falmer in Auriel's Chapel. Also, you and the Heroes of Sovngarde against Alduin.
You can also invoke this with other followers when faced with superior numbers throughout the game.
Badass Beard: For the first time since Morrowind, note unless you count Sheogorath from Oblivion characters with facial hair appear. There are at least fifty different beards to choose from. It's lampshaded by M'aiq the Liar who notes that 'everyone in Skyrim is all about beards' and speculates that humans must be compensating for the lack of manes.
Badass Bookworm: Urag gro-Shub, the Orc librarian at the College of Winterhold. Don't mess with the Arcanaeum; it's his Berserk Button. On the other hand, give him the Elder Scroll from the main quest after finishing it, and you can hear an orc squee for the first time in TES history. (Or probably any Orc in anything period!)
Random travelers on the roads may occasionally come to your aid against the wolves, bandits, bears, or trolls that populate the wilderness. Some of them are surprisingly tough (Talsgar the Wanderer is a notable example, at least at low-to-mid player level).
During the final battle in the afterlife, some of the Honored Dead such as Ulfric Stormcloak or Legate Rikke (if they died during the game) may randomly wander into the battle and help you fight the final boss.
During dragon attacks, some civilians will run around screaming, but others will join in the fight (as will guardsmen), even if they haven't got the slightest hope of defeating it. Parodied in this strip.
Badass Cape: The Nightingale armour from late in the Thieves' Guild questline has this.
Badass Grandpa: Esbern; Eorlund Gray-mane; Kodlak Whitemane; the Greybeards are an entire order of Badass Grandpas.
The robes of the Psijic monks follow the same open-front design, but rather than the Thalmor's imposing black and gold, they use vivid, ornate primary colors. Given that the Psijic Order was founded long before the Thalmor's emergence, this implies that the Thalmor used the Psijic design for inspiration.
The various Fine Clothes, as well, can serve as more noble-looking longcoats, especially the ones blinged-out with fur around the collar.
Ulfric Stormcloak's clothing includes one of these made of chainmail worn under an animal-pelt cloak. Despite this and the breastplate the clothing seems to include, it only counts as normal clothing if you get your hands on it, despite it looking like it should be light armour.
Badass Preacher: A few examples are shown, though interestingly enough the player can become one themselves by working for any of the Temples.
Frea, after her father Storn is killed, becomes shaman of her village in Dragonborn. She has no level cap, and prefers Dual Wielding War Axes.
Erandur was raised worshiping Vaermina. Then he was forced without a choice to kill his fellow cult members and abandoned his worship of her to worship Mara instead. Why he is badass? Because he outright defied Vaermina, the daedric prince who once trapped a wizard in hellish nightmares for all eternity because he stole one thing from her.
The Bad Guy Wins: In Dragonborn, Hermaeus Mora gets everything he wants in the end.
Although, Elder Scrolls lore being what it is, it's quite arguable as to whether Hermaeus Mora is truly evil. After all, he's the one that finishes off Miraak for you, and doesn't interfere any further on Solstheim afterwards (whereas Miraak probably would have killed or enslaved everyone if he got his way).
Bag of Holding: All the containers in the game can hold far more than any container ought to be able to. You can fill one chest with more items than should be able to fit in an entire house.
Barbarian Hero: Not in the traditional sense, but aesthetically speaking Skyrim runs in this direction what with the primary inhabitants being an homage of real life Horny Vikings. Contrast the Knight in Shining Armor aesthetic that was prevalent in Oblivion just prior.
Of course, there's nothing stopping you from having it in the traditional sense by making your character one of these. In fact, thanks to the aesthetic, it's easy.
Bar Brawl: You can "persuade" some NPC characters by brawling with them rather than intimidating or negotiating. Not surprisingly, a lot of these take place in taverns. You even get the option to just fight some patrons for coin. At the extreme, you can marry a woman after you brawl with her and win.
Barrier Change Boss: The first boss you fight in the Mage College quest line is a powerful Draugr that keeps shifting between frosty, electrical and fiery forms, and he's pretty resistant to physical attacks, so you'd better make sure you know at least one damage spell of each type when you face him.
Bat Scare: Flocks of bats are startled into flight by certain trigger-events such as when they enter the final chamber of Bleak Falls Barrow.
Battle Butler: Any of your housecarls, should you choose to take them on your quests.
Battle Couple: The Dragonborn is capable of marrying one of his/her traveling companions and going on adventures with them.
Beastly Bloodsports: Never witnessed firsthand but heavily implied to have been carried out in a skooma den the player visits during the "Thane of Riften" questline. Several iron cages (some still containing pit wolves) can be found throughout the area and a lone dead pit wolf appears inside a makeshift arena.
Beat Still, My Heart: In a case of the dev team thinking of everything, if you pickpocket a briarheart from a Forsworn Briarheart, they instantly die and a gaping hole appears on their chests. This is because Forsworn Briarhearts have had their real hearts replaced with the briarheart you have just ripped from their bodies.
Becoming the Mask: A wizard sets up a Scooby-Doo Hoax, masquerading as the guardian spirit of a Nordic burial ground to keep superstitious locals from discovering that he's attempting to loot the tomb. After six months of failing to solve a puzzle-locked door, he goes insane and becomes convinced he's an actual guardian spirit.
The irony in his attempts to keep the locals away from the burial ground is that the local innkeeper actually held the key to unlocking the door. Unlike a certain Dunmer, however, he probably didn't know about its existence.
Beef Gate: There are several placed encounters that are designed to force the player to be sufficiently leveled and geared to overcome them. These include several early dungeon bosses and, most notably, a Frost Troll on the path to High Hrothgar.
The troll on the way to High Hrothgar exists probably more as a demonstration of the sheer power of the Greybeards. Go ahead, run away from it and lure it into High Hrothgar and watch the old grandpas utterly destroy it with words alone. Now you will know what was meant by those memorial plaques on the way up there by 'Shouting someone down'. YouTube has more than one video of this.
If you don't mind rock climbing, and don't insist on counting the stairs, it's fairly simple to slip past the Frost Troll by clambering around above the intended trail. This fits with Bethesda's habit of creating ways to substitute cunning for force in some of its challenges. (This tactic is also amusing because if you come back down the trail and encounter the troll, you have the earliest form of Fus Ro Dah and an enemy who, with some maneuvering, will put his back to a 500' sheer drop.)
Keeping secrets from Hermaeus Mora is not a good idea. Nor is betraying him.
Calling a Nord a "milk-drinker" is something not recommended unless you want a fight.
The outlawing of the worship of Talos has a lot of Skyrim's people up in arms, especially given the Thalmor's penchant for dragging people off in the middle of the night just for doing this.
Messing with the Arcaneum is not recommended unless you want to bring down the wrath of Urag gro-Shub on your head.
Getting too close to a giant or messing with one of his mammoths is a very good way to get sent into low orbit.
Ulfric utterly loses it when Elenwen, ambassador of the Thalmor, crashes the peace talks during the "Season Unending" quest.
Bestiality Is Depraved: In a conversation between Cynric Endell and Thrynn, Cynric asks Thrynn if it's true that bandits get real... friendly with the wildlife. Thrynn calls him an idiot.
Best Known for the Fanservice: In-Universe: A new book in Skyrim is one of the few in Elder Scrolls history to be a sequel to a book from another game. It has survived both the Oblivion Crisis and the destruction of Vvardenfell. That book is The Lusty Argonian Maid. And as of Dawnguard, it has a spinoff: The Sultry Argonian Bard.
Beware the Nice Ones: Hermaeus Mora's voice makes him sound grandfatherly, and his behavior to you is friendly and respectful (as long as you don't say anything to provoke or antagonize him), and he will keep his bargains with you; but anyone who crosses him learns a very painful lesson about how bad an idea that is. This generally pleasant demeanor is sharply contrasted with his chosen appearance both on Mundus and in his realm of Apocrypha - that of a giant mass of pulsating, duplicating eyeballs and black, slick tentacles.
Near one of the first towns you can find a jester who seems to be a textbook Cloudcuckoolander who needs help getting his wagon fixed. Turns out he's the Keeper for the Dark Brotherhood. The Night Mother herself is in the wagon. If you take the farmer's advice and slander him to get him dragged off by a guard, you'll find said farmer dead later on.
Sheogorath also certainly counts. His behaviour is jovial and frivolous, but like all Daedric Princes, he's not opposed to a little random mortal-slaying, so long as it's all in good fun.
BFG: The robotic Dwarven Ballistas fire a huge bolt that can ignore your armor.
For the civil war subplot, either General Tullius (if you're a Stormcloak) or Ulfric Stormcloak (if you're a Legionnaire).
Also the Silver Hand for the Companions, Mercer Frey for the Thieves' Guild, Ancano for the College Of Winterhold, and Commander Maro for the Dark Brotherhood.
Lord Harkon for Dawnguardregardless of whether you side with the Vampires or the Dawnguard.
Miraak for Dragonbornbut his master Hermaeus Mora twists Miraak's plans to his advantage.
Big Fancy House: Proudspire Manor is the largest and most expensive of the in-city homes the player can buy. Assuming you have a spouse and kids, it's also the only one all three will have no complaint about. With Hearthfire installed, the player can build three of their own. These are bigger and arguably even fancier than Proudspire and come with a lot of benefits, but may not be universally liked by your family members.note It partly depends on who you marry and what their general personality is. Some spouses will express contentment in almost every residence, while others are much pickier.
Being the external representation of a Daedric Prince's conscience, the talking dog Barbas is naturally this.
Skyrim is inhabited by big Irish Wolfhound looking dogs, and most of them are nice towards you, save a few trained by bandits. In particular, Meeko and Vigilance can follow and help out the player in a manner similar to Dogmeat in Fallout 3.
If you pick the Vampire path in Dawnguard, you can take a Death Hound with you. Similarly, the Dawnguard path lets you take an armored dog companion.
Bigger Bad: In the Civil War story arc, the Aldmeri Dominion is this. While Ulfric Stormcloak or General Tallius are the military leaders of both sides of the war, the Aldmeri are behind everything, and no matter which side you choose in the war, they stand to profit. Either the Empire wins and continues to promote Aldmeri interests within Skyrim's borders, or the Stormcloaks succeed and the Empire is further weakened. In fact, the Aldmeri don't even want the war to end quite yet, since as long as it continues, Skyrim (and, by extension, the Empire) lacks the strength to stand up to them.
Skyrim: Alduin has been defeated, Sovngarde is safe, and most of the remaining dragons now recognize Paarthurnax's authority. However, Alduin's soul isn't absorbed, meaning that it's only a matter of time until he comes back again.
The Civil War sidequest ends like this either way. The Thalmor are still in power, and Skyrim's only hope to repel them is either a powerless empire or some upstart rebels.
Dawnguard: Lord Harkon has been killed, the sun is still shining, and it seems the Falmer are actually becoming more sapient. However, they're still a far way off from returning to their former glory, and one of the only two non-regressed Falmer has been killed, leaving one left.
Dragonborn: Miraak has been stopped, Solstheim is safe, and Hermaeus Mora is finally leaving the Skaal alone. However, the leader of the Skaal is dead, Hermaeus finally got what he wanted, and it's implied that the Last Dragonborn will simply become another pawn in his schemes.
One of the quests involves your character getting drunk and (among various other things) fondling a statue of Dibella, no matter your gender.
Black and Gray Morality: The Civil War starts as Gray and Grey. Both the Stormcloaks and the Legion have very valid reasons for wanting the other gone. However, once you remember that the Bigger Bad are the Thalmor, it becomes Black and Grey.
The Greybeards. On one hand, they're masters of an ancient and powerful magic art that takes most people years to study. On the other hand, they're forced to take a vow of silence because of it, or they risk accidentally killing outsiders with a single word.
Vampirism. You get cool powers like night vision, invisibility, life drain, and bonuses to stealth and illusion but your stats are lower during the daytime, and to get the really cool powers you have to go days without feeding, which breaks your Masquerade and provokes attacks. To keep it under control, you have feed on people in their sleep, which diminishes the powers and the drawbacks but also has a chance of getting you caught. Dawnguard tweaks it a bit by adding an entirely new transformation mechanic, alternate ways to feed, and the ability to put out the sun.
Being a werewolf is considered this In-Universe by Kodlak Whitemane, who would prefer to go to Sovngarde upon his death, but is bound by his curse to spend eternity in Hircine's hunting grounds instead. A quest involves breaking the curse for him — and you can later do it for yourself and two of the other remaining members of the Circle.
Blind Swordsmith: Dexion (the Moth Priest you pick up in Dawnguard) can sometimes be found at a blacksmith forge even after he's lost his sight.
Blood Magic/The Power of Blood: The blood of a Dragonborn is necessary to open the entrance to Sky Haven Temple, the home base of the Blades in Skyrim.
In the Dawnguard DLC, a little blood is required to release Serana when you first find her. Also, Vyrthur specifically needs "the blood of a daughter of Coldharbour" in order to fulfill his plans. If you have Auriel's Bow, you can blot out the sun for a day using arrows that have been dipped in Serana's blood.
Similar to Oblivion, gravity seems to have less effect on dead bodies than on living ones, meaning the kill shot of a bow or spell will shoot the target backwards 5 to 15 feet. The reason for this is that when a killing blow is delivered (and one of the finishing move animations doesn't kick in) the excess damage (i.e. anything that would reduce the target's health below 0) is converted into momentum in the game's physics engine. So if an NPC with 10 HP left was hit by an arrow which dealt 50 points of damage then the first 10 points of that damage would reduce them to 0 HP, killing them, and the remaining 40 would be converted into 40 points worth of momentum to knock back their ragdoll. This is also the reason for the giants' Megaton Punch (see below).
And of course, you can invoke this trope with the Unrelenting Force shout at full power. So can higher-level draugr.
Likewise, the Vampire Lord spell Vampiric Grip: You can use this spell to grab an enemy from a distance and choke him very slowly, but the true power is when you release, and he is flung violently away with tremendous force. Launching enemies straight upward will send them far enough up that the fall is, if not fatal, then at least severely damaging.
Sword and board fighters can do it with Auriel's Shield from Dawnguard. Block 15 blows with it, and then you can blast someone right off their feet with a Shield Bash.
Bodyguard Crush: You can invoke this by marrying your housecarl after you become a thane.
Bodyguarding a Badass: When you become a Thane in some of the holds, you're given a housecarl. What you had to do to earn the title sometimes makes it a clear case of this trope.
Body Horror: What happens to Astrid. It seems that having the player's Dark Brotherhood mentor die with a mundane form of this is a series tradition.
Also present for some monsters, the most prominent being the Falmer, who were Snow Elves once, and did possess eyes and had no fangs or claws.
Bonus Boss: Potentially any dungeon, seeing as how nearly all of them feature a high-level enemy at the end; some are arguably more challenging than questline bosses. Special mention goes to the hidden dragon in Blackreach, triggered by using your FUS RO DAH on the suspended orange orb.
Dragonborn adds another notable example in the form of the Ebony Warrior, who only appears once the player reaches level 80. He uses very powerful enchanted equipment, boasts impressive resistances to all three elements, is immune to falling damage outside of a possible glitch, and wields a number of shouts in battle, including FUS RO DAH.On top of a mountain.
Only one Dragon Priest is actually required to be killed in order to complete the game, and that's assuming you don't simply sprint past him before he closes the path. For good reason too - Dragon Priests are easily some of the most deadly enemies in the game, moreso than Dragons themselves, but you really have to go out of your way to find them.
Boobs of Steel: As the weight slider increments on a female character in character generation, muscle mass and body frame size increase... and so does breast size.
Book Ends: The first and final acts of the Dark Brotherhood storyline begin with a Black Sacrament being performed.
Boomerang Bigot: Sybille Stentor, the Court Wizard for the Jarl of Solitude. She sends you on a quest to destroy a "disgusting" nest of vampires, but detect life/detect death and a quick peek at the faction code shows she's actually a vampire herself. Speaking with Melaran at the Palace entrance implies that her condition is a well-kept secret in the palace, and she gets most of her nourishment dealing with the more "troublesome" prisoners kept in the dungeons.
Though it seems her disgust is more of their living conditions, not their vampirism, especially considering the reward she gives you.
The Transmute spell means you'll never need to search for gold ever again. You can take the plentiful and cheap iron ore, turn it into silver or gold, smelt the results into ingots, then craft jewelry over and over, providing easy Smithing levels and tons of treasure.
The Enchanting skill similarly takes time and patience to level, but unlike Smithing, all you need is Soul Gems to enchant with and a Soul Trap-enchanted weapon to fill them (or the spell Soul Trap). They don't even need to be powerful souls for the purpose of leveling. Just run out shanking all the critters wandering around Whiterun and you'll gather dozens of weak souls per hour. Soul gems, especially the smaller ones, are extremely common and dirt cheap to buy. As for the equipment that you're enchanting, you can easily get that from all the excess you have leveling up Smithing, or by just enchanting all the garbage you loot from the bandits that are absolutely everywhere, since experience is gained more from the enchantment than the item. Once you've got it to 100, you can craft gear that is far more powerful than the best equipment available elsewhere in the game. You can also make powerful fortify enchantments for other skills that let you overcome the initial low skill problems.
Simple, brute melee combat is more than enough to overcome any non-scripted challenge the game has to offer, once you max your skills. Only a very few quests require you to be sneaky or use magic. Especially deadly when mixed with a good Enchanting skill; siphoning life is a popular choice.
Marked For Death. Other shouts create fire, throw enemies through the air, call down lightning storms, or slow down time. KRII LUN AUS, however, just hits the enemy with a shimmering wave of energy that otherwise has no visible effect, but in fact drains their life and reduces armor to the point that a couple hits with a warhammer will drop nearly any boss.
Look at all those unique racial traits! Dark Elves can cloak themselves in fire for a cool effect, Bretons can give themselves dragonskin, Nords can shout and make their enemies flee before them... and High Elves get 50 permanent extra magicka. Boring, but this trait alone makes High Elves excellent candidates for any build that plans to actually use magic, whether a spellsword (wards and destruction spells can be costly), an assassin (muffle and invisibility increase stealthiness exponentially and are appropriately costly to cast), or any variety of mage (duh).
Bretons get 25% magic resistance. This applies to all magic effects: Dragon Shouts, Spells, Vampiric powers, etc... And it's always on. In fact, for a Breton, it's possible to reach the cap for magic resistance (85%) without using any enchanted items.
The most valuable skill or ability for a stealthy spell-slinger (or a spell-slinging stealthmaster)? It's not the illusion magic that makes them undetectable. It's not the rune traps, or summoned allies. It's not the damage multipliers, even. It's the Illusion 50 perk, Quiet Casting. All it does is keep your spells from breaking your stealth... on a character likely specced to live or die based on whether enemies ever detect them. It veers into Required Secondary Powers territory since it's so indispensable.
It's very tempting to spend those lovely perk points you've just acquired on a cool new ability, next to which all the "Skill X is Y% more effective" and "Spell A costs B% less magicka" options look rather dreary. But ignore them and your leveling enemies will soon start curb-stomping you with impunity.
Horses. They may not look flashy (well, except one) and they usually can't take much punishment, but they are a godsend for any dungeon crawler. Since horses don't obey the same physics rules you do, they allow you to bypass tedious winding roads to discover or reach new locations simply by climbing the mountains in the way. After you've looted the dungeon and come out weighed down five times past your max carry weight, you can climb up and use the horse to bypass the fast travel restriction normally applied to overencumbered players, meaning you only have to take one trip instead of five (assuming you're willing to walk out of the dungeon at a snail's pace).
Become Ethereal. All it does is make you ethereal, and thus render you completely untouchable. Pretty much the Shout for when you're getting attacked and need to buy a bit of breathing room. Dragons, bandit chiefs, bears, wizards, it doesn't matter. Shout those words and they can't touch you, letting you either escape, wait for backup, run through their companions to the enemy you need to take out, or get ready to chop them with a power attack or ready a powerful spell in peace. With the Blessing of Talos and a Talos Amulet (let alone Fortify Restoration), the basic version of this shout will almost recharge before you're done being ethereal in the first place. And since it nullifiesFalling Damage, you can also use it to jump off of high places instead of climbing down them. (There's a hint of this in the fact that one of the words is found on a wall at the top of a giant waterfall.)
Whirlwind Sprint. It allows you to bypass the maddeningly slow pace you get stuck with when overencumbered, is great for traveling cross-country or moving quickly through dungeons or barrows where your horse can't follow, and can be used to cross gaps or jump rivers in a single shot (with all three words). Melee-focused characters can also use it to close on enemies in a big hurry.
At higher levels, Draugr Deathlords, normally boss-level draugr, are now part of the rank and file. And they've lost none of their stats; Shouts, hard-hitting weapons, damage sponge-level health. Taking over for them in some dungeons (in the absence of Dragon Priests) are their new bosses, the Draugr Death Overlords.
Bears. No matter what level you are, they will always be a threat if you don't have good enough armour. Some of the fandom consider them stronger than dragons!
Trolls, especially of the Frost variety, may be even worse than bears. Not only are they fast and hit like a truck, they have moderate health regeneration.
Boss Rush: At the end of the Forbidden Legend questline, you have to fight the three Gauldurson brothers in a row to combine all three pieces of the Gauldur Amulet. The amulet itself give 30 points each to Health, Stamina, and Magicka.
Bratty Half-Pint: A lot of Skyrim's children are obnoxiously rude to you. Special mention goes to Braith of Whiterun, who tries to pick a fight with you even if you're wearing armor made of dragonskin and covered with the blood of your enemies, and Nelkir in Dragonsreach, who sneers that you're likely there to suck up to his father.
Nelkir is being manipulated by a Daedric artifact which may explain his behavior to an extent.
Braith, with the addition of Hearthfire, can be hit. She will huff and exclaim she never thought you had it in you.
Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Gabriella of the Dark Brotherhood enjoys "moonlit nights, taking long walks on the beach, knitting, and unicorns." She then notes that she "once took a seaside stroll, on a moonlit night, and discovered a unicorn... which [she] proceeded to stab in the throat with a crochet needle."
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Mercer Frey of the Thieves' Guild has a shopping list in his house: milk, goat cheese, turnips, eggs, flour, cheese, and cauterizing agent.
An inverted (and likely unintentional) but no less unsettling instance occurs with both Dawnguard and Hearthfire installed. If you visit the vampire merchants in Castle Volkihar, they will sell you all kinds of nefarious weapons, poisonous alchemy ingredients, necromantic spells, blood potions... and children's dolls and clothes. Think about that for a moment.
A fortune teller in one town says she might tell your fortune by several standard methods (Horoscopes, card readings) and then chuckles and mentions Trepanning.
Breaking and Bloodsucking: Similiar to Oblivion, once you've contracted vampirism, you can only feed on sleeping people, though in Skyrim it's much easier. Vampires in this game have a +25% bonus to both stealth and illusion magic, including invisibility, and vampiric feeding is one of a very, very few actions that a PC can perform while invisible that won't break invisibility. Sufficiently sneaky vampires can turn themselves invisible and feed off of a sleeping NPC in a crowded room with no one the wiser.
Brick Joke: After hours of hearing guards tell you "No lollygagging", should you follow the quest which lands you in Cidhna Mine, you'll meet Borkul the Beast, who is in prison for "Murder, banditry, assault, theft, and lollygagging."
In White River Watch, one of the first dungeons you're likely to come across, you can find a few notes talking about a group of bandits who were kicked out of their clan due to a "conflict of interest". Three of those bandits ended up getting brainwashed by a Draugr mage and sacrificed themselves to him. The fourth escaped to join another bandit clan, only to get kicked out of that one after desecrating the Pale Lady's tomb.
Broken Bridge: Thanks to the open-world nature of the game, you can visit several locations that are important to quests without actually having taken the quest. While some just let you run through and trigger the quest when you pick up the relevant item (or at least force you to keep the quest item until you learn what it's for), others solve the problem by blocking off access to the relevant section, if not the entire dungeon, until you find the quest. This is particularly annoying when doing the Gauldur amulet quest, one-third of which is locked in a quest-specific dungeon with literally zero hint as to where the quest-giver is. (The site is being excavated by the College of Winterhold, and you can only get to it by joining the College and starting their questline.)
Brown Note: In an interesting twist, the brown note in question is harmful to Eldritch beings while harmless to mere mortals.
The "Steady Hand" Archery perks, which slow time by 25-50% (depending on what rank the perk is at) when using the bow's zoom feature.
You can also invoke bullet time with a block perk: if you have your guard up, and the enemy performs a power attack they slow down temporarily, allowing you, if you time it right, an excellent opening to slash them into ribbons. You can also use the opportunity to shield-bash, interrupting the pending power attack, or simply jump out of the way, if you don't think you could kill them before their attack goes through.
Vampire Lords in Dawnguard can learn a spell that does this too.
The "Slow Time" shout is halfway between this and Time Stands Still. While you are also slowed down by the shout, you are much faster than everyone else, meaning you can shred your foes as if you were using an actual timestop.
Bullying a Dragon: It doesn't matter if you're clad in full Daedric armor with a bloodstained Daedric war axe in one hand and the gleam of a lethal fire spell in the other and a storm atronach following you around, Braith will still petulantly cry that she's not afraid of you.
Random guard: Let me guess, somebody stole your sweetroll?
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Wylandriah, the Jarl's mage in Riften, who is so completely wrapped up in her own experiments that she fails to realize that none of what she's saying about them makes sense to anyone else.
Burning the Flag: One of the Thieves' Guild quests has you assassinating the leader of a rival guild, the Summerset Shadows. You're given the option to set fire to a banner while in the Shadows' headquarters; if you do so, the quest giver will compliment you for sending a message that the guild won't be trifled with.
But Thou Must: Played straight and averted. The player usually must follow the quest objectives to the letter, regardless of any possible alternatives. However, the player never has to do any quest, so if they feel like doing something else they can just put it off, or never complete the objective.
Played with near the end of the Thieves Guild questline when you're required to become a Nightingale and commit to spending time (in life and in death) to serving Nocturnal. On one hand, it isn't really necessary because Mercer Frey can be defeated without using the armor or powers you acquire. However, on the other hand, the final battle with him takes place in a chamber beneath a lake and his actions cause that chamber to flood after the battle. Luckily, part of the ceiling breaks away allowing you and the other Nightingales to escape. If one looks at becoming a Nightingale as receiving Nocturnal's blessing, and her sphere including the idea of "luck," this one can be considered justified.
The Dark Brotherhood questline, so, so much - when they decide someone has to die, they have to die. All you get to choose is how it's done for optional objectives. You're never given the choice of siding with Astrid and agreeing with her decision to lead the Brotherhood away from the Night Mother, and when the time comes to kill Astrid, you have to do it; even if you try to heal her, it will kill her.
The Forsworn Conspiracy is one of the worst examples of But Thou Must in the game, with nearly every last objective being arbitrary and done because, well, But Thou Must. But the particularly egregious part is that in order to move the questline forward, you have no option but to be framed for murder by the Markarth guards and be sent to Cidhna Mine. Killing them doesn't help - no matter what, you still have to be framed by them, and then you'll finish the quest only to be greeted with a several-thousand-septim bounty for all of the murders.
In a variation, when speaking to the Thalmor you can run into around the world, you basically get asked if you worship Talos. You get three options of response, and the closest one to saying you don't worship Talos is silence - and no matter which response you give, the Thalmor turn hostile.
At the end of the main questline, you must capture and then release Odahviing in order to reach Skuldafn, the final dungeon. The game forces you to do this because you need to fly in order to get there... except that there is no reason given that Paarthurnax couldn't take you there. This gets even worse if you complete the Dragonborn DLC questlines before getting to this point in the main game; having learned the appropriate Shout, you can literally command any dragon you find to land and let you ride it, not to mention being able to summon a dragon anywhere you like who could also fly you there.
In the Dawnguard expansion, you join an order of vampire hunters, walk into a crypt killing vampires left and right, open up an ancient casket to reveal another vampire, and ... escort her home after some polite conversation? In most other questlines, you can somewhat avert But Thou Must by simply refusing to continue the required course of action; for example, you can stop doing the Companions' quests if you're not interested in becoming a werewolf. Serana, however, is a walking case of But Thou Must. You can't kill her (she's flagged Essential), you can't tell her you'd like to part ways (well, you can, but she replies "I disagree"), and you can't ignore her request to take her home because she will follow you around and complain about the sunlight until you do what she wants.
The Orcs as a whole. Not even a decade into the Fourth Era, they were forced at swordpoint by the Bretons to officially renounce Orsinium as a province and allow themselves to be assimilated into High Rock. By the time of Skyrim, most Orcs are little more than indentured servants to the Bretons, and those that aren't are forced to live in "strongholds" that are almost universally rundown, destitute, and scorned by all.
The Dunmer. The combination of Red Mountain erupting, Vvardenfell's destruction, and Morrowind being sacked by Black Marsh have left the province pretty much in ruins, even years later, leading to a mass exodus of Dunmer away from their home province. The ones who settled in Windhelm are left second-class citizens, and only one supplicant remains at the Shrine of Azura they constructed after their exodus. Hadvar even notes, should you play a Dunmer character at Helgen, that the gods really HAVE abandoned your people. note That line is a Call Back to Morrowind where the Nerevarine killed one of the Dunmer gods and found another dead by the hand of the first.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Skeevers are giant rats. Odd thing is... Giant Rats DID exist in all previous The Elder Scrolls games (and in fact were part of a running joke involving the fighters' guild), and were called such.
Skyrim is inconsistent by itself: you can catch dragonflies for use in alchemy, but they're listed as "dartwings" in the menu screen. Similarly, Dragonborn has "bristlebacks," but the loading screen calls them boars and they drop Boar Tusks.
Many monsters in Skyrim are replacements for monsters from the previous games. Skeevers-Giant rats, Falmer-Goblins, Draugr-Zombies, Hagravens-Harpies.
The mural for the game depicts several key happenings from the prior games, all of which are explained as having been part of the prophecy of to Alduin's return; the in-game book The Book of the Dragonborn spells out the prophecy which references all of these:
A gate to Oblivion, the reason for the weakening of the Empire.
As with most Elder Scrolls games, the player starts as a prisoner and/or going through a starter dungeon. However, this game ups the ante by leading players to their execution, right up to having his/her head on the chopping block.
During the Thieves' Guild's missions, you can come across a bust of the Grey Fox.
A power you gain during the Dark Brotherhood questline is the ability to summon Lucien Lachance's ghost. You also acquire several artifacts associated with him from his previous appearance, including his horse.
You may recognize the blade Astrid has. It's the one the Night Mother enhanced for you at the end of the Dark Brotherood quest in Oblivion.
The quest to decorate the new sanctuary is titled "Where You Hang Your Enemy's Head..."; in Oblivion, the orc assassin described "home" like that.
The scene wherein you kill the Emperor is highly reminiscent of Uriel Septim VII's acceptance of his imminent death in Oblivion.
Emperor Titus Mede II's attire resembles that of Uriel Septim VII from Oblivion (purplish blue with red and gold down the front, white fur on the shoulders and at the end of the sleeves). Apparently, this is centuries-long high fashion, because King Helseth in the expansion for Morrowind also wore similar robes.
Sinderion (the Nirnroot guy from Oblivion) makes a posthumous appearance during your search for the Elder Scroll.
A comment by the Alchemist Elgrim suggests that Rythe Lathandas, a painter encountered in Oblivion, is still alive and producing Painted Troll Fat (an alchemy ingredient that could only be acquired during the quest related to him).
Discussing the Elder Scrolls themselves: "The greatest thief in the world couldn't lay a finger on them!"The fact that nobody would know of the theft of an Elder Scroll is a consequence of the Cowl of the Gray Fox. It was stolen by someone not wearing the Cowl. Then, the owner of the Cowl read the scroll to reveal his own identity, creating a paradox that would allow him to transfer ownership to the person who did steal the scroll, and... well... it gets complicated.
One of the random bard instrumentals is a slower, softer version of Daggerfall's shop music.
With the Dragonborn DLC installed, seven of the random background songs on Solstheim are tracks taken directly from Morrowind.
Another reference to Daggerfall are the three guardian nebulae, which made their first appearance during Daggerfall's character creation. Their shapes have remained unchanged.
The Imperial Shield and the Imperial Light Shield look closely like the Shield of the Crusader and the Knights of the Nine shield, respectively.
The Imperial Legion armors resemble Roman armor, just as it did back in Morrowind.
Ulfgar the Unending, from Bloodmoon,makes an appearance in Sovngarde.
You get to kill another Uderfrykte.
The final contract for the Dark Brotherhood requires you to sneak into a boat, and make your way from the cargo hull all the way up to the main cabin to assassinate someone there. Just like the very first contract of the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion.
When starting the game as a Breton, Hadvar will guess the player is from Daggerfall (which is only one of High Rock's five kingdoms) and how it is rife with political intrigue. Daggerfall is of course the primary setting of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and much of the plot is spent dealing with and untangling the various court intrigues behind the death of King Lysandus of Daggerfall.
Sheogorath makes a comment or two implying that he's the Champion of Cyrodiil, since the player became him at the end of Shivering Isles' main quest.
He tells the player that he shouldn't have left Haskill (his long-suffering Servile Snarker Chamberlain from Shivering Isles) in charge of his realm for as long as he has, and should they ever find themselves in New Sheoth, they're free to pop round to the palace.
He's still threatening to use mortal entrails as a skipping rope, and going on about cheese.
An artifact from the main quest of Morrowind figures in a sidequest of the Winterhold College and can be acquired by the player. Unlike in Morrowind, it can be held without its counterpart, which is not in the game, with no ill effects. Interestingly enough, it still gives a message about you receiving a mortal wound when you first hold it; it just doesn't actually do anything.
College of Winterhold players get to visit Labyrinthian during that faction's finale. Labyrinthian was the dungeon in Skyrim where a piece of the Staff of Chaos was held waaaaaay back in Arena. In even more of a Call Back, you go there to find yet another incredibly powerful magical staff, this one intact - and in both cases a visit to Winterhold's mage guild prompts you to go to Labyrinthian.
The smuggler ship Red Wave in Solitude shares its name with a magical Cutlass (Redwave) found on another ship in Oblivion (The Serpent's Wake). Coincidentally, the Dark Brotherhood is involved with both the Red Wave and the Serpent's Wake You have to kill the captain of the former, while a Dark Brotherhood Assassin murdered everyone on the latter.
Cicero's journals mention that he once posed as an obnoxious fan to murder the Arena Champion back in Cyrodiil. Does this remind you of anyone?
Remember Immortal Blood and how it ended? Remember Movarth, the vampire hunter? The book was non-fiction, Movarth existed, and he's still around. But he's not a vampire hunter any more.
One of the books Esbern wants to take with him is the Annotated Anuad, which first appeared in Morrowind
One Dark Brotherhood client is named Amaund Motierre. He's a descendant or relative (not clear which) of François Motierre, a client in Oblivion.
The quest to find Mehrunes' Razor involves working with and killing a descendant and enthusiast of the Mythic Dawn, the cult which served as the primary antagonist of Oblivion. He keeps a museum of Mythic Dawn memorabilia, including the Commentaries' one and only surviving page of the Mysterium Xarxes, and his notes on the bloodlines holding the pieces of the Razor note that none of the parties involved were involved with the failed expedition that the Champion of Cyrodiil stumbled upon in the Oblivion DLC quest in which said artifact appeared.
There is a book giving advice on being a better thief that seems to have been written by the player character from Oblivion. Actually the Elder Scrolls Wiki prefers to suggest that the writer (named Wulfmare) is a liar who stole credit from The Hero of Kvatch. He IS a thief after all.
The location where the main character and Ulfric Stormcloak were captured by imperials is given as "Pale Pass". Pale Pass is a pass between Cyrodiil and Skyrim, the Cyrodiil side of which one can visit during a side quest in Oblivion. Oblivion's quest in Pale Past would also tie heavily on the defeat of the Akaviri and their subsequent loyalty to the Reman dynasty - the follow up to those events (Sky Haven Temple, Alduin's wall, The Blades) would factor greatly in the adventure of the Skyrim PC.
There are many references to Queen Barenziah, an NPC appearing in Daggerfall and Tribunal featured in the Thieves' Guild. Barenziah's crown is the object of a long, long quest chain. The term "Nightingale" in conjunction to Queen Barenziah dates to the events of Arena, where a bard under that name gets the location of the Staff of Chaos by seducing her. The Nightingales Vol. 2 reveals that this was not Jagar Tharn as previously thought, but one of Nocturnal's Nightingales, and that current Nightingale Karliah is Barenziah's granddaughter through this union.
In Dawnguard, you can meet Jiub, the first NPC the player meets in Morrowind. He prefers to be called "Saint Jiub, the Eradicator of the Winged Menace", referencing the rumor in Oblivion he was given a sainthood for destroying the Cliff Racers.
In Dragonborn, the Dragonborn travels to the island of Solstheim from the Bloodmoon expansion of Morrowind. And just like in Morrowind, there's a Daedric Prince behind the events troubling the island. Honestly, Dragonborn in general is full of Call Backs to Morrowind due to the heavy Dunmer population in the southern half of the island.
In Dawnguard, the three common types of skeletal foes in the Soul Cairn are the Boneman, Mistman, and Wrathman... just as they were named in Battlespire.
Fort Frostmoth and Falx Carius from Bloodmoon return in Dragonborn. Except Fort Frostmoth is in ruins, and Falx Carius was a test subject in raising the dead, not as zombies but as they were before they died, mentally and physically. Needless to say, the process failed, as it drove him insane.
Dragonborn also contains a very random, rather odd Call Back to Morrowind in the form of the Wizard, who has no other name. He can be randomly encountered muttering about how he can "touch the sky like a dragon," and as you approach, he suddenly activates a levitation spell which launches him into the sky. According to the Elder Scrolls Wiki, he's a Call Back to the Morrowind character Tarhiel, who had similar notions. Sadly, neither character put much thought into how to land, with the expected lethal results.
Calling Your Attacks: Justified when it comes to the Dragon Shout powers — the dragons aren't using traditional Breath Weapons, they are using the "Thu'um" to call elemental attacks into being. So they don't just breath fire and ice, they shout words relating to fire and ice and will them to manifest as attacks. The player's Thu'ums likewise require them to call out the words of a Thu'um to call on its powers. As stated by the game's own lore: "A battle between two dragons is actually a deadly verbal debate."
The Cameo: Thanks to collaborative DLC from Valve and Bethesda, the Space Core from Portal 2 can be picked up as an item just outside of Whiterun. You can also spot Wheatley from the same game floating about in the Skills Menu.
Cannibalism Superpower: Werewolf perks are unlocked by eating the hearts of the humans you kill. Taking the Savage Feeding perk extends this to animals. Feeding also heals you since werewolves don't regenerate HP, and extends the duration of the transformation by 30 seconds.
Canon Immigrant: Many concepts in the "Obscure Texts," which were originally posted on the message boards by Michael Kirkbride and others, made it into the game:
Can't Catch Up: Most followers are level capped somewhere, meaning that regardless of how far you level up, eventually they'll stop growing along with you, making them cannon fodder. Most also level up more slowly than you do.
The Casanova/Casanova Wannabe: Mikael in Whiterun. He's apparently generally successful but has set his latest sight on a widowed single mom raising her daughter, who very much wants him to leave her the hell alone. You can offer to make him back off, which can be done by beating him senseless or persuading him. He'll offer the PC some relationship advice (women love sonnets). He's even written a book, A Gentleman's Guide to Whiterun, which mostly goes on about the women that live there and whether they are available or not, how to court them, et cetera. The book even makes special mention of said widowed single mother, requesting that the reader not approach her because he wants her for himself!
Cassandra Truth: One of M'aiq the Liar's comments is a thinly-veiled complaint about this. Made more funny when you realize he actually is (semi-)right about some things he says (like some of the dragons just hiding, as documents from the Blades reveal).
Cats Are Mean: The game features Sabre Cats (essentially Sabre-toothed tigers that are bulked up to the point that their bodies are larger and beefier than bears), quite possibly some of the meanest cats in video gaming outside of Red Dead Redemption. They're large, quick, powerful enough to take you down in a flash at low levels, and they still prove to be a challenge once you've grown your character. Occasionally they team up with said bears.
Chain Mail Bikini: Some types of Light Armor act as this, especially the female Forsworn armor. The skimpiest of the three fur armor models would count too, literally giving women a fur bikini top, but that's only because women can't go around walking shirtless like the men do in the same piece of armor.
Slightly subverted in that skimpy armor (especially Forsworn) looks skimpy on both genders, and generally has a low armor rating to boot.
Falmer armor (a Heavy variety) does this as well... a "chitin-mail" bikini, if you will.
Heavy armor zigzags it. While almost every suit of armor completely covers the skin, some suits of armor do have very prominent boob-curves, such as Steel Plate armor, while other suits have them but they're not very noticeable, such as with Iron armor and Daedric armor. Steel and especially Dwarven armor completely avert it, by giving women the same armor models as the men have, only smaller to make them form-fitting (which isn't saying much in the case of Dwarven armor—form-fitting or not, you still walk around in a suit of armor the Brotherhood of Steel would be proud of).
Chain of Deals: A few times. Especially funny in Cidhna Mine where the final deal can be trading your shiv to the guard rather than killing him with it.
Changing Gameplay Priorities: Early on, players are likely to spend lots of money grinding and doing menial tasks to acquire potions that restore stamina, magic, and health. That's because at those levels, you'll likely be doing a lot of fighting and find it hard to survive against swarms of enemies without being prepared. Later, priorities will shift into spells and gear that can help you carry a greater load; that's because once you start finding good weapons/armor/valuables, you're going to want to bring everything out of the dungeon with you so that you can sell it or use it for crafting.
The difference between "Fus!" and "FUS RO DAH!" Every shout has three words, and speaking only one word has a minimal effect, with correspondingly short cooldown time, but speaking all three words has a massive, dramatic effect.
"Power Attacks" are melee attacks that occur when you hold down the attack button. They tend to do more damage and can break through an opponent who's blocking, but it burns up your Stamina meter.
Archery is influenced by how long you hold down the trigger when nocking an arrow. Quickly firing arrows before fully drawing the bow back will not be as powerful or have as much range.
Most spells need to be charged briefly before releasing. Once the dual casting perk is unlocked, charging the same spell in both hands results in a massive boost to the individual spell's power.
Charles Atlas Superpower: Theoretically, anyone can use the Thu'um; they just need to be trained by the Greybeards, as Ulfric Stormcloak was. What makes the Dragonborn so special is that they can use it without (years of) training, not merely that they can do it.
Chekhov's Gunman: The first dragon that you see (the one who attacks Helgen) is in fact Alduin himself, there to assassinate you before you gain the power to fight him and his minions.
If you travel on the road from Whiterun to Winterhold, you may come across a jester named Cicero whose carriage has broken down, leaving him stuck in the middle of nowhere with the coffin of his mother. This leads to a quick quest where you can either get a nearby farmer to fix his carriage or get Cicero arrested for possibly transporting something illegal. It turns out that Cicero is a member of the Dark Brotherhood and his "dead mother" is the Night Mother, a major figure in the lore of the Dark Brotherhood. This can be subverted by never meeting him before joining the Dark Brotherhood, by never joining the Dark Brotherhood, or by destroying the Dark Brotherhood.
The Chessmaster: Hermaeus Mora. The Daedric Prince of secrets and forbidden knowledge manipulates both Miraak and the player character, so that he can finally gain the secrets of the Skaal, something that was kept from him for ages, and determine which of the two Dragonborn is more worthy to be his champion. And he does all of this with just a few brief conversations and two well executed tentacle attacks.
Chill of Undeath: All undead enemies resist ice magic, some have a weakness to fire, and almost all of them besides the most basic mooks can use ice magic against the player very well.
The Cyrodiilic word for the Dovahkiin, "Dragonborn," was used in reference to previous agents of massive change in the past: Saint Alessia, the slave queen who led the revolt against the Ayleids; Reman Cyrodiil, the first real "Emperor" of Tamriel; and then later Tiber Septim, the one who managed to unite Tamriel under one banner again after a dark age since Reman's empire. Additionally, Jauffre referred to Martin Septim as "the Dragonborn" after the defeat/banishment of Dagon; it is, though, unclear whether this became widespread. The PC of Morrowind might also have been Dragonborn,if you trust Azura's word on the matter.
Goes Up to Eleven if you do enough different sidequests. You will learn that no matter which group it is, or what the requirements are, your character is destined to be their new Chosen One. (Examples: Harbinger of the Companions, Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold, Champion of every single Daedra Prince, Nightingale/Guild Master of the Thieves' Guild, Listener of the Dark Brotherhood.) You don't even have to be very good at their respective disciplines (like you did in Morrowind) - just good enough to get by.
Chromatic Arrangement: The constellation perks reside in color-coded nebulae. Warriors are Red, Mages are Blue, and Thieves are Green. This matches the color-coding of your health, magicka and stamina.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Likely the player character, especially if they do any Daedric quest. In particular, you'll need to do a lot of it to power up Mephala's evil katana.
Chunky Salsa Rule: Reanimation spells (Raise Zombie, Reanimate Corpse, Revenant, Dread Zombie, and Dead Thrall specifically) will not work on decapitated targets, no matter how powerful the spell is.
City Guards: As per Elder Scrolls game tradition. Their AI has improved further over Oblivion's dull-witted guards, but they're still prone to some ludicrous behaviour...
City Noir: Windhelm has the imagery of the setting down. The city is a maze of streets, Fantastic Racism is allegedly official government policy, and there's a Serial Killer on the loose. Banditry is apparently common in the countryside, and unless the victims are Nords, Ulfric allegedly refuses to assist (that said however, Banditry is fairly common problem throughout Skyrim. So, Eastmarch isn't singled out or anything). Brunwulf Free-winter is one of the only men around looking for ways to change the city for the better. Also, while commerce is still existent in Windhelm, in the Merchant Quarter, Free-winter, upon becoming Jarl if Ulfric is killed states that the coffers are short on funds, implying that, for Ulfric, the war against the Empire previously took precedence over the proper administration of the hold. This, while justifiable, has interfered with the Hold's prosperity.
It's also revealed at one point that Skyrim's been under heavy taxation since the war ended. So, a state of disrepair is the norm for many cities aside from Solitude. (Whiterun's crumbling walls, for instance.) By comparison, Windhelm's doing surprisingly well - probably because, as the capital of the Stormcloak rebellion, it's unlikely the Empire sees any tax from it.
Markarth is also no slouch in this respect. You walk in and witness a murder (or take action and thwart it), right next to a guy selling dogs for fights, and another guy who is selling very suspicious meat. It is revealed to be a broken society in which an urban underclass is brutally oppressed by a corrupt elite, the architecture is virtual art deco, and there are oh so many dark secrets lurking within its walls.
Then there's Riften, a perpetually foggy city of canals whose seedy underbelly arguably houses its most thriving industry. You drop even the cheapest of items - a cabbage, for instance - and it causes a riot. Thieves roam the streets, and all of the street merchants can be killed. On top of it all, the person who is tasked with fixing this madness, Maven Black Briar, is in with the Guild, and has the Jarl (if she herself is not the Jarl, which may happen at the end of the war) wrapped around her finger by pretending she is working on taking down the Thieves' Guild. If you hang around Laila long enough while she is still Jarl, you can see Maven threaten to take her Meadery, Riften's biggest 'legit' business, elsewhere if Riften doesn't pay up.
Civil War: One of the central plot points, between the Stormcloaks and the Empire.
Coffin Contraband: Discussed. Cicero is trying to transport a coffin containing the remains of 'his mother' to a new crypt, but the wagon loses a wheel outside Loreius' farm. Loreius refuses to help Cicero repair the wagon, citing as one of the reasons that he thinks Cicero could be using the coffin to smuggle weapons and skooma.
Imperial soldiers dress in red and Stormcloak soldiers dress in blue.
Dragons are different colors based on how powerful they are. Additionally, the "good" dragon, Paarthurnax, is white/grey, whereas Alduin the World-Eater is jet black with red eyes.
Deep in a Dwemer ruin? Anxious to know what's going to try and kill you next? Look at the lighting: areas that are better-lit with warm-toned (yellow or orange) light will have automatons dominate. Poorly-lit areas with cool tones (bluish-greenish-greyish) are the lairs of Falmer and chaurus.
The three girls walking the streets of Whiterun (two without Hearthfire installed) wear blue (Mila Valentia), red (Braith) and green (Lucia) clothes, as an easy way to tell them apart since children in Skyrim tend to all look the same.
The song "Ragnar the Red" has a verse where a shieldmaiden says "... I think it's high time you lie down and bleed!" before chopping off the titular character's head. The verse makes fun of the oft-used line "This Is the Part Where... you fall down and bleeeed to death!" by NPCs in combat of the series' previous entry, Oblivion.
The Blades play a big part in the story and the Thalmor want them dead. As Cloud Ruler was the main base of the Blades, it gets a mention as having been almost completely destroyed giving that little sub-plot a Downer Ending.
Contract on the Hitman: Emperor Titus gets posthumous revenge, not by having his assassin killed but by asking his assassin to kill the man who wanted him dead.
Cool Horse: A certain horse from a certain previous entry (Shadowmere) makes a comeback, complete with an awesome introduction.
Frost, the only other horse obtained from questing. While he's not invincible, he's stronger and even more aggressive than regular horses, and won't hesitate to charge enemies. His grandsire is named Sleipnir, the name of the eight-legged steed of the Norse god Odin, and his sire is Grane, the offspring of Sleipnir and the horse of Sigurd, the legendary dragon slayer of the Poetic Edda and The Saga of the Volsungs.
Arvak, the purpleflamed black skeletal horse from the Dawnguard expansion.
Special mention must be given to the leader of the Greybeards, Paarthurnax: he's old even by dragon standards, and doesn't even hesitate to try and buy you some time by taking on Alduin himself. In single combat.
Although he's not as old as the above examples, Brunwulf Free-Winter is an aging, wary war veteran who happens to be the nicest guy in Windhelm. He ultimately becomes its Jarl should you choose to side with the Empire against the Stormcloaks; even while not Jarl, he's actively (though quietly) trying to improve things for the disenfranchised minority races in the hold.
Even Emperor Titus turns out to be pretty cool. Even if you disagree with the way he runs his empire he does turn out to be the one person in the world who isn't scared of the Dark Brotherhood. That's not to say that he doesn't respect them... in fact, he knows better than his advisors that once the Brotherhood accepts a contract, there's no hiding from them.
Kodlak Whitemane, Harbinger of the Companions, is also rather cool. He takes the Dragonborn under his wing almost immediately and offers heartfelt advice and words of encouragement.
Galmar Stone-Fist may be an old man, but he'll kick down those damn walls of Whiterun's with his bare feet anyway. He's also the one of the best warriors in the Stormcloak army aside from a Stormcloak Dragonborn and Ulfric.
Cool Versus Awesome: Yes, you can become a werewolf, and yes, you can kill a dragon in wolf form. Have fun!
Once in a rare while you may encounter a dragon fighting a giant. At lower levels, dragons will typically losenote Giant level range is set at 32, while dragons level up with you. But at higher levels, typically 35+, they will generally make mincemeat out of giants unless they get repeatedly distracted fighting mudcrabs. In any case, it's usually a good idea to take potshots at them and finish off the winner shortly after they defeat their opponent.
Even better than killing a dragon as a werewolf: join the Dawnguard as a werewolf and then you can get Werewolves vs. Vampires!
Copy And Paste Environments: While it's mostly averted, the inns in the smaller villages generally look exactly the same, save for placement of tables.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: According to characters in Solitude, Ulfric's killing of Torygg was unnecessary, considering that Torygg looked up to Ulfric and would have been willing to declare independence had Ulfric simply encouraged him. Of course, from Ulfric's point of view, he needed to send a message to the other Jarls.
It gets worse with the knowledge that the main reason for the rebellion, the Talos ban, is poorly enforced at best by the Empire, and in fact the only "enforcement" is that the Empire has no power to stop the Thalmor from doing anything. Jarl Elisif, whom the Stormcloaks consider an Imperial puppet, asks the player to take a memento of her husband to an altar of Talos as part of his burial. Even the Empire looks the other way if you dispatch a Thalmor right in front of an Imperial Legion soldier, only slapping you with a paltry 40 gold fine.
Miraak could have avoided jeopardizing his plans had he not sent assassins after the Dragonborn until after he had truly escaped to the Mundus.
Arguable. At the end of the DLC quest chain, Miraak says that when he absorbs the Dragonborn's soul, he will return to Solstheim. This could mean that he needed the PC's soul to escape, and sent the assassins in order to lure him/her into a confrontation.
Delphine interrupting the Dragonborn's Fetch Quest for the Greybeards and asking that they accompany her to slay the Dragon about to be resurrected in Kynesgrove, before she will properly introduce herself and and explain precisely what she wants from them. She does, however, justify this by admitting she was afraid that the Thalmor were using the rumour of a Dragonborn as Schmuck Bait to lure any ex-Blades from hiding. For her own protection, she conspired to steal the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, knowing that the Greybeards would send the Dragonborn to retrieve it, and she needed to witness the Dragonborn actually slaying and absorbing the soul of a Dragon before she knew she could trust them.
Special mention goes to one-hit stealth kills. Against a humanoid enemy who's not doing anything special (sitting, doing alchemy, etc), backstabs, at least with a bladed weapon, will reliably trigger the player reaching up from behind, covering the victim's mouth and slicing said victim's throat. Somehow, this works even with a giant shield on one hand and a big glowing Bound Sword in the other.
In the Dragonborn DLC, you end up having to dispose of Master Neloth's previous apprentice, whose heart he replaced with a Heartstone. It drove her mad and she has it out for Neloth now. When you kill her, you get a surprising killcam animation of ripping her Heartstone out.
Crapsack World: Two centuries later and Tamriel has still not recovered from the Oblivion Crisis. The Empire is falling apart, the Nords are in civil war, Elsweyr and Black Marsh have seceded, and what parts of Morrowind that weren't destroyed following the eruption of Red Mountain and the fall of the Ministry onto Vivec has been invaded by the Argonians. The Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves' Guild pervade Skyrim to the point of being the de facto government in some cases, and it should be pointed out that both organizations are suffering from a slow decline. Oh, and the world's about to be eaten by dragons.
Create Your Own Villain with a touch of Laser-Guided Karma: Beneath the earth of Skyrim dwell a race of hideous monstrosities, the Falmer, who grow bolder and more dangerous, and who experts in-game fear are massing to attack the Nords - the surface dwellers of Skyrim - in genocidal hatred. Where did they come from? They're the devolved, degenerate Slave Race of the extinct Dwemer, once a thriving elven civilization on the surface. How did they become slaves of the Dwemer? They all fled to the Dwemer... after the ancient Nords began slaughtering them all. (Mind, there's in-universe controversy and mystery surrounding whose "fault" it is that the ancient Falmer and Nords were at war with each other, but that the Nords won and forced them to turn to the Dwemer is firmly established.)
In the main game, the Vigilants of Stendarr count, since they only hunt daedra, witches, werewolves and the like.
Also in the main game, the Silver Hand are a mercenary company dedicated to wiping out werewolves in Skyrim. Unfortunately, they use ruthlessly inhumane tactics, turning what might have initially been a well-intentioned purpose into a virtual bloodbath.
Babette, a cheerful, joke-telling little waif who has the most adorable lisp... because she's a vampire. Oh, and she's a member of the Dark Brotherhood. She even jokes about how her appearance helps her. The first time you enter the Sanctuary after joining the Brotherhood, she's telling a story about how she led a creepy old man into an alley for dinner.
Aventus Aretino. Though his tone is a perhaps a little too whiny, the fact that he's going through with the Black Sacrament (using his mother's flesh) speaks for itself. The way that the rest of the kids from the Honorhall Orphanage cheer on the Dark Brotherhood following their headmistress's assassination might make them all qualify for this, except that Grelod is undoubtedly an Asshole Victim and the kids are justifiably relieved to be free from her abuse and cruelty.
Nelkir, Jarl Balgruuf's son, at first simply seems to be a little moody or angsty, behaviours one might consider somewhat normal in a child. You later discover, however, that he's like that because he's discovered personal, corrupting secrets floating around Dragonsreach. It all being Mephala's doing sums it all up.
Creepy Uncle: Astrid of the Dark Brotherhood had one of these, who made certain "unwanted advances" toward her. He became her first kill
Critical Existence Failure: Some enemies will stop and kneel down when at low health, but otherwise enemies will continue acting as normal until their health hits zero, at which point they stagger away and collapse in a heap. This can be particularly amusing in a handful of scripted events where enemies are attacked and killed; the first such instance is in Bleak Falls Barrow, where a bandit triggering a trap will flick the switch, stand up and hold still as arrows rain down on him, then suddenly fall over when they kill him.
Critical Hit: Perks available to bows, swords/greatswords, and daggers (as well as certain items in specific) have chances of doing bonus damage — and their effects generally stack. A "critical strike" message will appear any time one happens in combat. With a very specific combination of the Shrouded Gloves, equipped daggers, stealth perks, and the Critical Charge perk, it's possible for a critical stealth attack to do up to 60x the damage of a simple swipe.
"Archery, hmhmm. Smithing, hmm. Don't need 'em, yep, yep. Go to space. Space. Only skill you need."
Cruel and Unusual Death: Lord Naarifin, the Thalmor general who occupied the Imperial City, was apparently kept alive for thirty-three days, hanging from the White-gold tower.
Cruelty Is the Only Option: Many of the Daedric Prince quests are examples of this. In order to get several of the artifacts, you have to: beat a man to death twice while he begs for his life, sacrifice one of your followers, and murder and cannibalize an innocent priest. Not all of the quests have requirements like these, though, and some which do also have alternate methods of obtaining the artifact. In one case you get it only by not killing the person you're asked to kill.
Cruelty Rich Leather: Forsworn are suspected to craft things out of the bones and skin of their victims. Also, a book seen in the Dawnguard DLC, Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader, details the life of one who made a shiny septim off a business of it.
Cthulhumanoid: Dragonborn adds the Lurkers, which look like ten-foot-tall Deep Ones, and Seekers, which look like miniature (but still bigger than the player) floating Cthulhus. Miraak's mask is also shaped to look like it has tentacles.
Culture Chop Suey: The Blades armor set is a mishmash of Japanese lamellar and Roman lorica segmentata. The helmet especially illustrates this: the front looks more like a Legionnaire's helmet while the back cowl evokes something like a Japanese samurai's.
This is quite likely an in-universe example — the Blades are descended from an Akaviri (i.e., superficially Japanese-ish) group based in Cyrodiil (i.e., the heart of the Empire, with a centuries-long history of being Roman-ish). Of course their armour would have influences from both cultures.
Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: If you go to third person mode right as your hands are being untied at the start of the game, you can glimpse the Dragonborn doing this.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Due to the way the game's Level Scaling works, the enemies in an area will be scaled to the level you were when you first visited that location. Returning to one of these areas at a much higher level means you can run around killing the now-laughably-easy enemies in this fashion. It can be incredibly cathartic to One-Hit KO a bunch of weak foes after spending hours battling much more difficult enemies. This can also serve a practical purpose if you are trying to increase weak combat skills.
Cursed with Awesome: There is one — one — statistical downside to being a werewolf: you can't get the minor "rested" bonus to skill progression by sleeping in a bed. That's it. Immunity to disease and the ability to turn into a 300-pound killing machine are pretty nice benefits for such a downside. The fact that Hircine has claim on your soul after you die helps explain why it is still a curse, although since those thus claimed become his chosen servants and hunting companions, it's a matter of opinion more than anything.
There's also reason to believe that the Dragonborn's soul cannot be claimed by any of the (d)aedra but Akatosh. And at the end of the main quest, whether you're a werewolf or not, Tsun himself says the Dragonborn will be spending eternity in Shor's Hall. So it remains to be seen.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The bandits at Halted Springs Camp are trying to use magic to make money. The camp is an iron ore mine, and in the mine you can find one of their numbers is a mage, and on the nearby table is a Transmute Ore tome (turns iron ore into silver and then silver into gold) lying next to a piece of iron ore and a piece of silver ore.
In Ansilvund, a group of necromancers have taken over, and their leader's journal notes they raised the draugr they found earlier to excavate deeper into the ruins. The journal further comments that if the Stormcloaks had the sense to use draugr to fight, they'd have an army plenty large enough to kick the Empire and Thalmor out of Skyrim. Considering you can't swing a battleaxe in the game without hitting some ancient tomb infested with the beings, it's a good point.
Cute and Psycho: Muiri, a Breton living in Markarth and working as an assistant at The Hag's Cure, turns out to be this in an early Dark Brotherhood quest. She asks the Dragonborn to kill a bandit leader who took advantage of her to rob Clan Shatter-Shield in Windhelm, as Muiri was close to the family until Alain used her and they cut off all ties with her and cast her out of Windhelm. In addition to wanting revenge on the bandit leader, she also tasks the Dragonborn with the optional assignment of killing Nilsine Shatter-Shield as well, partly out of revenge for the Shatter-Shields turning their backs on her, and in the hope that maybe this will cause the family matriarch Tova to bring Muiri back after both of her real daughters are dead. If you kill Nilsine, Tova commits suicide instead, but Muiri doesn't actually seem to have a problem with this, as making Tova suffer is just as good. She also becomes eligible for marriage this way, so she must REALLY appreciate the Dragonborn's efforts.
Cutscene Power to the Max: At least one instance when Karliah takes you down. You could be maxed out in console with God Mode enabled but she's going to take you down for plot purposes.
Sheogorath's dialogue implies that he is the Champion of Cyrodiil, so Shivering Isles was canonically completed. Some of his other pieces of dialogue imply that he became both the Gray Fox (completed the Thieves' Guild chain) and the Listener (completed the Dark Brotherhood quest chain).
The player found 100 nirnroots for Sinderion, according to the journal you find on his corpse.
Given that Clavicus Vile is in a weakened state at the time of the game, it can be inferred that the Champion of Cyrodiil ignored Barbas' warnings and gave Umbra to Clavicus in exchange for the Masque.
Cycle of Hurting: Staggerlocks, in melee or magic (with the Destruction perk Impact), will allow the Dovahkiin to inflict the cycle on their enemies.
Skuldafn can throw several high-level Draugr at you all armed with full-power FUS RO DAH. If there are others with bows and arrows, you can find yourself being endlessly thrown around like a ragdoll and turned into a pincushion as you try to get up. Your best bet is to try to aim your helplessly flying corpse in a direction away from the shouters, and attempt to flank them.
The apogee of locked-into-damage sadism comes with Dragonborn and the Ash Rune spell. It's the only guaranteed paralysis effect in the game - no RNG or magic resist checks, so as long as the enemy type is not immune to paralysis, they're going down. To keep this from being too broken, the enemy cannot be harmed until the effect wears off—but this can still be bypassed: Cast the Ash Rune at the enemy's feet, so they trigger it instantly, then cast another straight-damage rune trap under the enemy's immobilized body. They won't trigger the spell until the paralysis wears off - and once they do, and take the damage, immediately cast Ash Rune as they're getting to their feet, where they will immediately trigger it again. Rinse and repeat until dead. It will take a very long time to kill higher-level opponents this way... but that's part of the fun.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: The Equip, Take, Take All and Give buttons never seem to stay in the same place between different sorts of inventory management screen - for example taking things out of containers, putting things into containers, personal inventory, swapping with companions, and trading. It's not uncommon to forget this and accidentally take everything inside a container when you intended to put one thing away - and if it was the container you use as your main storage, this will probably mean enough weight to make you overencumbered several times over and enough items that it will take you a long time to get them all put back. In most cases you're better off reloading an autosave.
This becomes especially annoying when dealing with ingredients: the key to take ingredients out of a container becomes, when trying to put them back, the same as the key that is used for consuming ingredients. So, whilst you think that you have put away all of your ingredients, what you have actually done is consumed them, and you will only realise your mistake when you close your inventory and suffer the effects, including severe poisoning.
The keys for changing from first-person to third-person view and drawing/sheathing your weapon are reversed. Ditto for jumping and interacting with objects.
And while simply selecting an item takes it out of containers, selecting an item while a container is open will use it (unlike Oblivion, where it put it away). This can range from a minor annoyance (wearing the armour you were giving your companion) to a major one (accidentally eating the daedra hearts you wanted to save for armour, without even noticing). This does not apply to the trade interface, even if you might want it to (e.g. you bought some spell tomes and want to use them, but also want to sell off some of the moderately-expensive skill books you've acquired, and you bought the tomes first so the merchant would have enough money for this).
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Whoever built all those old Nordic tombs did not want people to get in. Traps are often positioned in such a way that they don't aim at the pressure plate triggering them, they aim at the corridor afterwards to get you as you walk past the plate. Other specific dungeons have switches that open gates and trigger traps a moment later when you pass the gate, and gates with obvious switches in front of them that trigger traps while the switch for the gate is hidden out of view.
Taken to an even more Dangerously Genre Savvy when viewed in light of one of the in-game texts, which speculates that the tombs are set up the way that they are not to prevent anyone from getting in, but rather to keep anything sealed inside from getting out.
While the game largely lets you choose your character's personality, more than a few quest-related dialogue lines have single-choice replies that give the distinct impression that your character is a Deadpan Snarker; you can also purposefully play it this way.
Jarl Baalgruuf: So you were at Helgen? You saw this Dragon with your own eyes? You: Yes. I had a great view while the Imperials were trying to cut off my head.
You, during a Civil War action: I've got a better idea. You wait here, I'll take care of it.
You: Why is this place called the Winking Skeever? Corpulus: Well, as it turns out, I had a pet skeever when I was a boy, and he used to wink. You: You kept a skeever as a pet? Corpulus: They were smaller back then.
Belethor in Whiterun. Try asking him why a Breton like him is in Skyrim.
Belethor: "Isn't it obvious? Why, the wonderful weather, and the hospitable people, of course! Not to mention my great fondness for dragons and petty power struggles. Ah, but without a doubt, the most compelling feature of this frozen wasteland is the volley of inane questions leveled at me on a regular basis."
Nazir of the Dark Brotherhood. He comments on it himself.
You: Narfi is dead. Nazir: Congratulations. You killed an emaciated beggar in cold blood. You are truly an opponent to be feared.
Marcurio, a follower-for-hire found in Riften, has a vague case of this.
Marcurio: "These ruins might be interesting... if I weren't already an expert on Nordic history!"
Marcurio: "Don't make me wait too long... I get bored very easily."
And of course, Lydia. Her delivery of the line "I am sworn to carry your burdens" makes it pretty clear that she does not enjoy being your pack-mule, and she only gets snarkier in Dragonborn, especially if you start using the Black Books of Hermaeus Mora.
Dragonborn follower Teldryn Sero from Raven Rock is a walking being of Deadpan Snark.
And two more from Dragonborn the Dremora Butler and Merchant. The Butler in particular snarks about being your pack mule.
"I always dreamt of being a pack mule."
Deal with the Devil: There are numerous pacts to be made with the Daedric Princes throughout the game. By the end, you can owe your soul to at least ten different entities, most of which are unquestionably evil and the least of which are dangerously amoral.
What EXACTLY happens to the varying heroes of the Elder Scrolls games when they die, after owing their souls to a number of Daedra and other beings, is something of a running joke amongst the fanbase.
Deathbringer the Adorable: Paarthurnax. His name means "Ambition Overlord Cruelty", but he serves as your mentor for a sizable chunk of the game.
Death by Childbirth: Happened to the mother of Sissel and Britte of Rorikstead. Their father treats them badly partially because of it.
Death by Genre Savviness: Alduin is actually smart enough to try to kill the Dovakhiin at the start of the game. Ironically, this actually ends up saving the Dovakhiin; if he'd just let the Empire do their thing, he'd have won (and the game would've been very short).
Death Seeker: There's an Old Orc who wanders around Skyrim surrounded by corpses who will ask you for a good death.
The Ebony Warrior, whom you will only be able to battle when you hit level 80. He tells you he has no more quests, no more battles, and only wishes to be sent to Sovngarde with honor in battle.
Death Trap: You gotta watch your step in pretty much every dungeon if you don't want a spiky grate embedded in your face, or a side full of poisoned darts. There is a perk that prevents pressure plates from triggering, but it does not stop trip wires or trapped chests and doors, nor does it apply to your followers.
Decapitated Army: Justified. Alduin is more than just the leader of the dragons; he's summoning them, as shown in the pre-Sahlokniir scene.
Not to mention that demonstrating that he's not quite as almighty as he claims shakes some dragons' faith in his leadership.
Decapitation Presentation: Pre-game, the Great War began when the Thalmor delivered the Emperor an ultimatum - along with the heads of every Blade serving in the territories controlled by the Aldmeri Dominion. General Tullius also seems rather fond of threatening Ulfric with this fate.
The ward spells from the Restoration school block magic spells directed at you. It even forms a glowy hemisphere of light in front of you. It also disrupts a Fus Ro Dah shout by directing the force around the caster, so if you see a mage throw up a shield like that, don't bother with Unrelenting Force until s/he drops it.
The Spellbreaker is a physical shield that projects a Deflector Shield when defending. While blocking, Spellbreaker creates a ward that protects against spells for up to 50 points. At first, it may seem weak compared to other more powerful ward spells like Greater Ward which can negate up to 80 points of spell damage. However, it stacks with the Elemental Protection perk, which reduces incoming fire, frost, and shock damage by 50% while blocking, and any leftover damage will be absorbed by the shield's ward effect. The best part is that it costs no Magicka. This makes the Spellbreaker one of the best shields to be used against mages and dragons.
Degraded Boss: Dragons. At the beginning of the game, every time you encounter a dragon it feels like an adequately epic battle, especially with the music that accompanies it. By the end of the game (or some levels into it, considering that this game doesn't actually "end") you will be able to force dragons to the ground and kill them with a few hits in under 10 seconds before the music even has a chance to kick in. They become more of a nuisance than an epic battle... at least until you start meeting the Elder and Ancient Dragons (which, in turn, only lasts until you start outlevelling them too). Dawnguard adds even higher-level Revered and Legendary Dragons to help balance things out.
Dem Bones: While most ruins are filled with zombie-like Draugr, you'll still run into walking Skeletons from time to time in various ruins. Their bones make a very satisfying clatter when they fly apart upon getting killed.
Skeleton Dragons too. Encountered in some dungeons, or if you interrupt Alduin's resurrection of a Dragon at any of the dragon burial sites.
Deliberately Monochrome: The game's lighting engine desaturates somewhat during cloudy or rainy weather, and goes almost entirely grayscale during snowstorms (such as when climbing the Throat of the World).
Depleted Enchantment Bolts: You can find the schematics for enhanced crossbow bolts in the Dawnguard DLC. Basically, just mix a few bolts with some elemental salts, and you've got exploding fire, exploding ice, and exploding lightning bolts!
A fanmade mod adds all kinds of interesting and unusual arrows, ranging from the mundane (lighter or heavier arrows for better range or more stopping power respectively) to the ridiculous (Soul Trap arrows cast Soul Trap on everything in their considerable blast radius ... and have an explosive payload that can fell Dremora in one hit).
The Determinator: If you have a high enough bounty (1000G or more), city guards will attack/arrest you on sight, and if you try to run, they will chase you all the way across a hold if they can. Some players have been chased by them all the way up the Throat Of The World.
Disintegrator Ray: Shock-based spells can be upgraded to eventually reduce their targets to piles of dust if the target is at low health. This is good for one simple reason: enemy necromancers can't revive a pile of dust!
Disc One Nuke: Too many to list here. They can be found on the trope page instead. In general, while many quest rewards and enemies scale with your level, others do not, so provided you know where to go and what to do, there's nothing stopping you from heading out and getting late-game gear the moment you leave Helgen.
It also affords a bit of Loophole Abuse if for some reason you want to kill someone but can't find a way to do it stealthily. Just get them into a place where you can blast them off a high-enough ledge to kill them; their death as a result of the fall will not be held on you. Thus, you can literally get away with murder as long as you don't mind paying a 40 septim bounty for assault.
Oh, and the physics are a lot less forgiving than they were in the previous games. Remember how in previous games an enemy you knocked over a railing would suddenly teleport back up, or fall 3-5 stories and take only a sliver of damage? Not here. Now even a gently sloping path can mean certain death.
People put a bounty on you similar to assault for killing a chicken.
Justified since people living in small farming villages probably do rely on their chickens and other livestock as a major source of income and/or food.
People you steal from might send thugs after you; the thugs' contract says they don't have to kill you, but the person who hired them won't mind if they do, and they certainly do try. This can happen even if you just stole an incredibly cheap book from them and paid off the bounty.
The Dragonborn can respond to the clerical error that nearly resulted in your execution by joining the Stormcloaks and driving the Empire out of Skyrim. If you join the Dark Brotherhood, you can take it a step further and kill the Emperor.
If you're angry enough about the deaths of your 'family' in the Dark Brotherhood questline, you can take it Up to Eleven by not only murdering the Emperor, but also joining up with the Stormcloaks and kicking the Empire and the Penitus Oculatus out of Skyrim entirely.
Disproportionate Reward: Due to the way favors work, several can turn into this. You can do a menial task for someone such as chopping wood or giving them a drink, and from that point on, you can sleep in their beds and take almost anything not nailed down.
Occasionally inverted as well, when you are given a Herculean task with a disproportionately small reward. Jarl/Steward wants you to go kill an Elder Dragon on a nearby summit? That's fine... but the 500 gold bounty may not even cover the cost of the arrows and potions you used to kill it. (At least there's usually a Word Wall to somewhat make up for that.)
DLC Hook: Both Tsun's and Parthunaax's parting words after you slay Alduin basically say that the Dragonborn's end is yet to come and that he/she will be leaving more indelible marks in history. However, this has been proven to be something of a false hook, since Bethesda has stated that there will be no further DLC and the Dragonborn's ultimate fate currently remains unknown.
Does Not Like Shoes: Unlike most humanoid enemies, the Falmer rarely wear boots or shoes, despite being capable of crafting armor.
It has been speculated on the forums before that the reason they don't wear shoes is that they sense the player moving around not just by sound, but by feeling the vibrations of the floor with their feet.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Thalmor's plan is nearly identical to that of the Time Lords - both plans were to destroy reality to ascend as gods, and the plans were mainly instigated by the higher-ups while most of the rest simply wanted peace.
The Dwemer were almost impossibly technologically advanced, lived in isolation from the rest of the world, and quite possibly poked the boundaries of reality just a little too hard, causing the disappearance of their race from the whole of Skyrim (if not all of Tamriel). They left behind a gigantic settlement which has become little more than a rarely-heard legend. Blackreach and the Dwemer are basically the Tamrielic equivalent of the lost continent of Atlantis and its people.
There's also the advent of the An-Xileel Empire that took place in the 200 year gap between Oblivion and Skyrim, where the Argonians of Black Marsh invaded what was left of Morrowind in vengeance for the hundreds of years of slavery that the Dunmer had put them through.
Door to Before: A lot of dungeons have passages at the end of the dungeon that will lead back to the beginning of the dungeon. Sometimes it's a barred door or a false wall; other times, the dungeon simply takes you over a bridge or ledge overlooking the earlier chambers, and you can jump down as a shortcut.
Occasionally inverted — in Kagrenzel, for example, the dungeon begins by dropping you deep into the center of the dungeon, then you have to fight your way out.
Doppelgänger Spin: Sigdis Gauldurson in Geirmund's Hall has the ability to create two clones. The clones die in one hit, but all three can shoot arrows and use Unrelenting Force. If you destroy them, he teleports and does it again, forcing you to keep picking them off until he's dead. The second time around, he has three times as many, but the platforms are easy to reach so you can run up and melee them.
They're not identical, however; the real one's helmet has different horns. This makes it easy to pick him off if you pay attention. Also, his health bar will show damage while the clones are always at full health.
Double Standard: Called-out by a secessionist at the wedding of Vittoria Vici. He asks a loyalist what the difference is between the Empire's dealings with the Thalmor compared to Skyrim. She claims they had to fight back because the Thalmor were foreign invaders who threatened their way of life. His response? "My point exactly."
This is a somewhat inaccurate comparison, however, since the Empire never invaded Skyrim. Skyrim was part of the Empire since the very beginning. In fact, the Empire was founded in Skyrim; the center of it later moved to Cyrodiil as Tamriel unified.
Downer Ending: Dragonborn. Sure, Miraak's defeated, but Hermaeus Mora, the true instigator of the conflict, not only gets away scot-free with his crimes, but forcibly makes the Dragonborn his "champion". The Skaal's leader is dead, the secrets they've spent centuries guarding from Mora are gone, and the Dragonborn is left with the knowledge that he/she was nothing but Mora's Cosmic Plaything all along and that he/she will likely end up suffering the same fate as Miraak once Mora no longer needs him/her.
Although both Frea and Neloth say otherwise, on a lighter note. It should also be pointed out that Mora has little to no power outside his realm; Miraak's mistake was trying to betray Mora within his realm. The note is ultimately ambiguous as to the Dragonborn's fate.
Downloadable Content: A high-res texture pack was released in February 2012. There are also two bigger expansions, Dawnguard (June 27, 2012; the Dragonborn is given the choice to join or fight a group of vampires), and Dragonborn (December 4, 2012; it involves the very first Dragonborn on the island of Solstheim); later came a more minor DLC, Hearthfire (September 4, 2012; adds the ability to adopt children and build houses).
Odahviing post Heel-Face Turn as another literal example for the Dragonborn.
After completing the Stormcloak quest chain up to right before the Battle for Solitude, Ulfric himself declares you the mightiest of the Stormcloaks and as close to him as kin. You are thus dubbed his personal champion: Stormblade.
Dragon Hoard: There are often treasure chests near dragon dens.
On a metaphysical level, your inventory. Combine the fact that the Dragonborn is on a spiritual level a dragon, and the classic player propensity to have huge amounts of crap in their inventory...
Dragon Rider: Dovahkiin, atop Odahviing to find the portal to Sovngarde.
Expanded on in the Dragonborn DLC, where this becomes a game mechanic once one gets all three words of Bend Will.
The Dragons Come Back: Dragons have been extinct for over a thousand years, and now they're being resurrected by Alduin.
The music that plays during Dragon-battles is titled, appropriately enough, "The One They Fear".
Dream Weaver: As noted in the in-game book The Dreamstride, the potion Vaermina's Torpor allows people to enter others' dreams. You get to use it in Vaermina's daedric quest.
Dressing as the Enemy: You can do this during the "Diplomatic Immunity" quest, where you infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy. With the help of a Hooded Thalmor Robe, you can get through most of the Embassy without having to fight the guards. This obviously works the best if you're an Altmer yourself. Characters of other elven races, and especially human races must keep their distance from the guards, or they will realize the PC is an intruder. Characters of beast races can't do this at all. If you're an Altmer, you can actually order other guards around, making your job immensely easier.
Both "A False Front" and "To Kill an Empire" gives you opportunities to dress as an enemy soldier or a cook respectively. The only difference is dialogue options.
Astrid. She sells the player out to Commander Maro in order to save the sanctuary, but he sends his forces to attack anyway. Badly burned in the attack, she uses the last of her energy to perform the Black Sacrament with her own body to put a contract on herself, acknowledging her failings.
Tova Shatter-Shield if you kill her remaining daughter.
Sudi, a member of the massacred Redguard family that owned Frostflow Lighthouse. She cut her wrists to avoid a Fate Worse Than Death at the hands of the Falmer.
Drone of Dread: The Soul Cairn world theme. Some of the Tamriel Night world themes, to a lesser extent; especially Night Theme 6, which combines droning with ominous chanting and moments of One-Woman Wail, yet still is more melodic than intimidating.
Not really characters, but between The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and this game, both lands from the previous two games have changed for the worse. Vvardenfell, the main setting of the third game, has exploded, because it was a volcano and is hit by a huge floating rock (as a decades-later consequence of the game's events, no less). And Cyrodiil, the setting of the fourth game, is recuperating from being savaged by a war with Nazi elves. This can be a bit harsh to longtime players of the series, who helped save both lands and spent countless of hours in them, but it does well to prove that saving the world doesn't equate to saving the realm.
Skjor of the Companions and Mirabelle Ervine of the College of Winterhold are both killed off behind the player's back without much of an explanation; and in the latter's case, no one really seems to remember about them later on.
Dual Boss: Naaslaarum and Voslaarum, the twin dragons in Forgotten Vale. Also possible if you accidentally get too close to the Word Wall at Shearpoint and wake up both the dragon and the dragon priest Krosis at the same time.
Any one-handed weapon can be equipped in either hand, allowing for dual wielding or left-handed swordfighting - both firsts for the Elder Scrolls series (though Daggerfall had a rough version).
This also extends to dual spellcasting as well: a spell in each hand. You can also use the same spell in each hand for a more powerful version of that spell, at the cost of a substantially higher cost in magicka - if you're worried about running out, using separate casts to machinegun the spells, without actually dual-casting, is more magicka-efficient, in some cases greatly so.
You could be the Slayer of Alduin, Thane, a high-ranking member in the Legion or Stormcloaks, Archmage of the College Of Winterhold and a full-fledged member of the Companions, and there'll still be the occasional dick guard taunting you about reporting a stolen sweetroll; never mind the fact that if you did steal a sweetroll and someone reported it, that same guard would be on your ass in a second. Don't expect any parades in your honor after the main quest, either. Oddly enough you do get recognition for finishing the Civil War quest.
Averted every time you kill a dragon, leaving any NPC witnesses to stand staring slack-jawed in awe... and then played straight once more when one of the guards picks up their jaw and tell you to "stop that... shouting", the very shouting you used to bring the dragon down. Though since those same bystanders will show the exact same awe if it happens again, they apparently don't find it all that memorable.
Also when joining the Companions, Vilkas always says to Kodlak that he's never even heard of you, despite the fact you could be Thane of Whiterun after having killed the dragon threatening the city, be Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold, have destroyed the Dark Brotherhood, be a high ranking member of the Stormcloaks/Legion, revived Whiterun's Gildergreen... and so much more.
The Thieves' Guild - you can be the Guild Master and there will still be those who treat you like a brand new recruit, and a completely unpromising one at that. In fact, during the ceremony of putting you in the position, Maven Black-Briar is there, and after you are awarded the position the first thing she says to you is "Now don't screw it up!". The roadside muggings are an exception — if you are a guild member, they'll actually apologize for threatening you, and if you finished the quest they'll recognize you as a Nightingale and give you a gift to thank you.
Averted in the theft/friendship mechanic. The NPCs might not be much friendlier, but if you do something for them, you'll find you're allowed to take things from their house/store that would have previously been considered theft.
In the Dragonborn DLC, when Neloth tries to treat you like a servant, you can actually call him on this and he'll respond.
Bounties are ridiculously small given the effort involved. Defeat an entire bandit clan? One hundred gold reward. Take down a giant? One hundred gold reward.
Erikur in Solitude will snootily explain to you that he's a Thane, and why that's so wonderful and you ought to show some respect. Unfortunately there's no option to respond to this with a list of all the holds across Skyrim of which you may have been made Thane by the time of your first conversation - which, if you don't speak to him until after it's done, can include Haafingar itself, meaning that you and Erikur are of equal standing in the Blue Palace court.
Dummied Out: Examining the core game modules with the PC Creation Kit reveals a vast array of abandoned-in-place functionalities that would have made the Civil War much more complex and involved than the straightforward affair it is in-game. For example, viewing of the exterior cells in the Tamriel worldspace around the gateways to Markarth and Riften in the Creation Kit shows that they were originally meant to have large-scale battles in the course of the Civil War like Whiterun, Windhelm, and Solitude do, as the region is strewn with various in-game invisible markers meant for civil war combatant maneuvers.
That is not the only thing dummied out. There are a few items (naturally), as well as a faction — there is an Arena faction in the files that has the framework for quests done (just the framework, no actual quests), as well as faction ranksnote Which isn't something all the joinable factions have, so the Arena was probably abandoned relatively early in development.
An unfinished quest called "Boethiah's Bidding" would have had you kill Elisif, the Jarl of Solitude, who would subsequently be replaced by Erikur (according to unused lines of dialogue).
Dug Too Deep: Taken to an absurd degree in one Dragonborn DLC sidequest, which uses this trope four times on the same mine. During the quest, you help fund a mining expedition, which awakens the Draugr and gets them slaughtered, and you need to clear it out so another team of miners can be sent in. Then it happens again. The third time around, your partner hires mercenaries, but this means that only some of the miners are alive when you get there. Keep in mind, you have to pay increasingly steep prices to hire people willing to mine the place where the last group got massacred. The fourth time, you finally kill the Dragon Priest causing all these problems.
The final story mission of the Companions has the Dragonborn set out with the rest of the Circle to posthumously cure Kodlak Whitemane of his lycanthropy at the Tomb of Ysgramor. Except as soon as you get there, Vilkas explains that he cannot actually enter the tomb with you because he is too ashamed of the actions he took at Driftshade when the two of you exterminated the Silver Hand as vengeance for Kodlak's death, but wishes you well. However, a few fights against the spirits of the original Companions into the Tomb, Farkas decides he can go no further thanks to the way being blocked by giant spiders, of which he has a phobia, and he turns back, leaving only you and Aela the Huntress to finish.
During the College of Winterhold questline, as you journey through Labyrinthian, you see the ghosts of the former arch-mage, Savos Aren, and his group of friends reliving their exploration of the tomb. The farther you go, the smaller their party gets, as they had died off one by one. In the end, only Savos and two companions are left, and he sacrifices them by enthralling them to seal Morokei in the tomb.
Anyone who played the Bloodmoon expansion for Morrowind two games ago will be in familiar territory. Solstheim, the island where that expansion took place, was basically a mini-Skyrim, full of Nords and mead with werewolves and deadly spriggans running about.
The quest "Ill Met By Moonlight" is actually the Fourth Era's incarnation of the Bloodmoon event that made up much of the expansion's main quest (which is said to happen once an era).
The actual Solstheim returns as the setting for the Dragonborn DLC, and its southern half is now a mini-Morrowind, with ash fall, netches, and Redoran and Telvanni settlements with their associated architecture.
Eaten Alive: Dragons tend to have pieces of armor when you loot their skeletons. Mirmulnir in particular will always carry a full set of Whiterun guard armor after being slain. No points for guessing where the armor came from.
Easter Egg: Of the undocumented feature variety. If you click and drag with your mouse (or move the sticks on the console versions) during the loading screens, you can move the model around.
Doing this with inventory is actually vital to using dragon claw keys, as they have the combination to the door on their palms. This is a case of Guide Dang It for many players.
Elaborate Underground Base: Practically all Dwemer ruins. Blackreach used to be an entire city, but it fell into disuse when the Dwemer disappeared.
Blackreach and its upper level, Alftand, are a little more than "elaborate". "Absolutely freaking huge" might be a better way of putting it. Traversing them can take the better part of four hours even if you're trying to pass as quickly as possible, and you have to fight your way through a small army of Falmer, Automatons, and other nasties on the way. Easily five times as big as any of the regular barrows you'll see, they're positively packed with items, and have THREE different access elevators plus three more through various Dwemer ruins. There's a reason why Blackreach might have been the Dwemer capital.
Eldritch Abomination: In the DLC Dragonborn, we finally get a look at the real Hermaeus Mora. Or at least (as the loading screen text sometimes points out), how he chooses to appear.
Eldritch Location: And also in Dragonborn, we've got Hermaeus Mora's realm of Apocrypha. Aside from the Alien Sky filled with enormous tentacles (which may or may not belong to Mora himself), it's flooded with acidic green water, all the structures are either made of a vaguely organic-looking webbing or gigantic stacks of books, and thanks to several tunnels and rooms that can move/contract/rotate, it can get really disorienting.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Subverted in Sheogorath's quest. At first it looks like you're supposed to win such a battle with the help of an atronach (Fire Atronach beats Ice Atronach, who beats Storm Atronach, who beats Fire Atronach) but then it turns out that the battle will actually go on infinitely until you turn Wabbajack on Pelagius's guards.
Various enemies have resistances to one type of elemental spell damage, but are also weaker to another. Dragons that use Fire Breath and Flame Atronachs, for example, have a resistance to fire spells, but are also weak to frost spells, while the opposite is true Dragons that use Frost Breath and Frost Atronachs.
A more specific version of destruction magic is it each element is designed to overwhelm a certain class, Archers can be easily dispatched by fire due to the fact they like to get into shooting matches and is thus ripe for being burned alive for additional damage. Warriors should be kept away with Frost Spells which reduces their movement and stamina while Shock spells excel at killing mages with mana burn and the off chance to hit nearby enemies in the rear.
The Aldmeri Dominion; they've taken over territories and have their eye on the rest of the world.
The Cyrodiilic Empire once again. A great deal of conflict in the game comes from the fact that a foreign power controls Skyrim, and that they can and will make decisions that the provinces don't like. But much like in Morrowind, the Empire is shown as being more tolerant than the provinces.
Empty Levels: The removal of stats actually makes this much less of a problem, as the leveling-up system in previous Elder Scrolls games made these in combination with the Level Scaling, easily resulting in characters with a couple ridiculously high stats and others that Can't Catch Up. It still happens with the Level Scaling (making stronger opponents appear when you may not have the gear to face them). This usually only becomes an issue if you level up several times by power-leveling non-combat abilities while your combat abilities are still below par when the stronger opponents start to appear. Take note however that this is still played straight with some enemies that actually level up with you and has no level limit, such as Forsworn Briarhearts.
See Crapsack World above for details on exactly how the "World as We Know It" has ended. Natural disasters in a remote province or two, political unrest in a few more provinces...
Enemy Chatter: It seems the bandits of Skyrim mostly share a common tragic backstory in which their Da told them to go to a college but they were too dumb to figure out which college, and now they need skooma—the imported stuff—just one last time. Occasionally one comes across more unique chatter, such as a disgruntled mage in the Ilinalta's Deep dungeon complaining about having to work a forge.
Can happen when fighting dragons. Since they're free-roaming and hostile to everything that moves, the player can happen across them fighting anything from bandits to mudcrabs to giants (which have a good chance of killing a low-level dragon on their own!) and team up with the dragon's prey to kill the marauding beast. Though once the dragon's dead, all bets are off...
In Blind Cliff Bastion, you are able to team up with a hagraven to take back her tower from another hagraven.
In some areas the player can find enemies holding other enemy types captive, such as hunters that have trapped a wolf, hagravens holding a spriggan captive, and pyromancers experimenting on vampires. Releasing the captives in such instances will often have them help you kill their captors, after which they will be non-hostile.
Showing that hagravens themselves aren't Always Chaotic Evil, one hagraven will ask you to help her kill another hagraven who took over her tower. All she wants back is her tower, and will reward you with a nice magical staff if you insist upon being rewarded.
This can happen when fighting almost any type of enemy in the overworld, and not inside of a dungeon that is populated solely by that enemy type. Since there are so many different enemy factions (mages, bandits, animals, vampires, draugr, giants, etc.), just leading one type of enemy to a group of another will often make your job considerably easier.
Special mention goes to the plains area west of Whiterun due to the great prevalence of giants and mammoths there. If you get jumped by a sabre cat, no problem, odds are there's a giant/mammoth in sight from wherever you are that will gladly kill it for you.
While doing contracts for the Dark Brotherhood, you get one for a bard that is apparently so bad, and so many people want him dead, Astrid had to use a lottery to pick a client. At least, that's what Nazir tells you when he gives it to you.
Can also happen to you if you get in Killer Camera mode but (due to low magicka or something throwing your aim off) fail to kill the enemy: a few seconds during which you'll be shown missing the shot or failing to cast the spell will allow your enemy to get a couple free hits on you.
Because they are taught and unlocked directly by the Greybeards, Unrelenting Force and Whirlwind Sprint are usually the first two shouts a player learns, and will be two of the most frequently used after that. Imagine now, that you've got a tough enemy lined up along the edge of a cliff and it's a steep drop down to the bottom. You go to "FUS RO DAH" him off when suddenly, "WULD NAH KREE!" Whirlwind Sprint was the selected shout, you've zipped past the enemy, and now it is you whose corpse is tumbling to the bottom of the cliff...
Equal-Opportunity Evil: Just like in Oblivion, the Dark Brotherhood is by far the most evil organization you can join in the game, and the second most diverse, after the College of Winterhold. Its members include a Nord, a Dunmer, an old man, a child vampire, a former Shadowscale Argonian, a Redguard, and a werewolf.
Establishing Character Moment: Almost any time you enter the lair of a major faction leader, like a Jarl or the Thieves' Guild or Ulfric or Tullius, you find them involved in conversation with their advisers and can get a good idea of what they're like by hanging back and eavesdropping.
The entire game gets one with regards to the main conflict of the civil war. When you arrive in Helgen, all you really know from the game's dialogue is that you and some other people called "Stormcloaks" have been captured by the Empire and are to be executed. You get an idea of what's going on when at said execution, the priest talks about the Eight Divines, and is quickly cut off by one of the Stormcloaks who snaps "for the love of Talos, let's get it over with!" note Of course, if Skyrim is your first introduction to the world of the Elder Scrolls and you don't know who Talos is or how many Divines there are supposed to be, this isn't necessarily enlightening.
After accepting Aventus's quest to kill Grelod the Kind, you might be questioning how a child would define "evil" at their age. Then you enter the orphanage and hear her lecturing the kids that if any of them shirk their chores, they'll earn an extra beating.
Upon arrival in several (though not all) of the major cities, you're treated to a scene that establishes the troubles of that city. In Solitude, it's the execution of an otherwise good man who allowed Ulfric Stormcloak to escape the city after killing the High King. In Windhelm, it's racist Nords harassing a dark elf. At the Riften gates, a corrupt guard tries to shake you down and a mob tough just past the gate lets you know that the Black-Briars own the city. In Markarth, you witness the Forsworn murder a woman (and get a frigid reaction from the guard if you try to help them). In Whiterun, everything is on lockdown following word of a dragon being sighted, and when you get inside, you see a microcosm of the civil war itself: a smith unable to meet the intense economic demands of the war, demands which are caused by two feuding families' inability to reconcile their differences in the war.
Eternal Engine: Dwemer ruins are full of robotic golems, pumping pistons, hissing steam and scrap metal. It probably helped that their power sources were soul gems.
When you read the Elder Scroll at the Time-Wound, you see a vision of a couple thousand years back, only to find that everyone speaks the same sort of English they speak in the fourth era (albeit much more poetically). Of course, it's possible this is an effect of the Elder Scroll, and you should be glad that reading the thing at a place called Time-Wound didn't do worse to you.
Serana in Dawnguard was imprisoned for centuries, yet somehow is perfectly capable of speaking modern Cyrodiilic/Nordic/whatever.
Eternal Recurrence: The Nords believe in this. Alduin eats the world, and the next cycle begins.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: One tribe of bandits has the leader's uncle as a guard at the entrance to their cave, even thought he's blind and not that bright. One of the bandits outside has a note on him from the leader lecturing his men about playing tricks on his uncle and threatening them with imprisonment if they don't leave him alone.
Another bandit leader sends money and letters to her father even though he always sends the money back while urging her to leave banditry before it gets her killed.
Even Evil Has Standards: Thrynn, one of the Thieves' Guild members, was once a bandit. He said it was good life until the day when he raided a caravan, his leader ordered him to kill the defenseless women and children For the Evulz, and he refused and killed the leader instead.
Mjoll the Lioness, when asked about the Thieves' Guild, denounces them soundly as a bunch of lawless crooks, while noting that even the Dark Brotherhood has rules that they abide by. If you've actually been through the DB story arc, however, you'll know that this isn't true. You will also know this is complete BS if you've actually played the Thieves' Guild questline, as Brynjolf repeatedly impresses upon you that killing is not allowed.
Draugr are Skyrim's version of zombies: entombed ancient Nords who rise up to defend their crypts.
You can revive anything killable as a zombie with the various Undead Raising spells. However they look exactly the same as how they died, the only difference is how their corpses dissolve into dust upon death (the Master version of the spell, Dead Thrall, prevents this, effectively giving you a second, immortal follower).
Evil Is Deathly Cold: Vampires in Skyrim usually make their home in icy caverns and/or ice-covered fort ruins, and are fond of using frost magic. Draugr are also known for hitting you with a frostbite blast from their hands. Of course, the native Nords are all highly resistant to cold damage; they're used to dealing with this crap, apparently.
This is actually a Call Back to existing canon, which established the clan of vampires living in Skyrim as having an affinity with frost. They also have the power to phase through ice and frost, though it's never demonstrated in-game.
Dragons can use ice breath in addition to the more traditional fire breath. The higher level dragons seem to prefer the former, such as with Frost Dragons.
Evil Is Hammy: In addition to slicing up your foes with their big ole daedric greatswords, conjured dremora will slice the ham.
Alduin also counts, as does Sahloknir.
Evil Is One Big Happy Family: Played straight by the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild, who both know of each other and will contract with the other when they need something done.
Evil Laugh: Molag Bal's laugh is especially sinister and frightening.
While the reward money for choosing to destroy the Dark Brotherhood rather than joining it is impressive, it just can't match up to a unique mount, dagger and summon, plus the huge amounts of gold you will acquire from completing the questline.
For a certain perspective of evil, you can choose between two rewards at the end of the Azura's Star questline. The canonical "good" path gets you a follower but gives you a soul gem that can only hold White souls. The "evil" path gets you a soul gem that can hold both White and Black (i.e., humanoid) souls, which is significantly more useful, if you accept that you are literally torturing the souls of sentient beings.
Compare the rewards from the Companions' radiant quests to the Dark Brotherhood's radiant quests. For clearing a dungeon to retrieve a family heirloom, the Dragonborn will be rewarded with 300 gold. For killing one single contract target who is nigh on defenseless, the same-level Dragonborn will be rewarded with 1200 gold.
There's also the nigh-limitless amount of money to be made by just stealing everything in sight. If you're willing to break into and clean out the valuable possessions of all the homes and assorted other buildings in the game's cities and towns, then pickpocket as much as you can from the inhabitants on top, you'll never want for cash. The only limit is your patience.
Evil Versus Evil: The Silver-Blood/Forsworn conflict. On one side, a family of murderous, filthy rich scumbags with their fingers in the city government and a penchant for having those who disobey them executed if they're lucky, and sentenced to forced labor in the mines if they're not. On the other side, a group of black magic-practicing terrorists who will not hesitate to kill anybody who gets in their way, even if they have nothing to do with the fight.
The contract to kill Hern, a vampire who feeds on wayward travelers. He will lampshade this if you tell him you're there to kill him.
When you're meeting up with Delphine for the first time in her room under the inn, you can say, "I was expecting someone... taller."
One of the Companions also says that he expected the new Harbinger to be taller, once you finish the Companions questline.
Exposed to the Elements: You can find bandits wearing little more than a loincloth in the middle of a snowstorm. The PC can also fall under this trope by wearing skimpy forsworn or fur armor in screaming blizzards – if they're female, it's little more than a fur loincloth and bra; if they're male, it's little more than a fur loincloth.
NPCs will, however, comment on this if a character is walking around in their underwear.
Random citizen to naked PC: Ysmir's beard, you're going to freeze to death!
Expository Gameplay Limitation: The game features almost no cutscenes (in fact, the only real ones appear at the very beginning of the game and right before the final dungeon, and in the first case you still have control of the camera). However, during certain important questlines (such as the Companions questline) the game will at specific points disable all movement or interaction for the player except camera movement as a scene unfolds nearby.
Et Tu, Brute?: If you side with the Stormcloaks during the Civil War questline, once you take Whiterun, Jarl Balgruuf will finish his verbal beatdown of Galmar by turning to you and saying, "And you, a Stormcloak? I thought better of you than that."
Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn, / To keep evil forever at bay. / And the fiercest foes rout / When they hear triumph's Shout / Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!
Extreme Omnivore: One way you can discover one of an ingredient's uses in Alchemy (more with a Perk) is to eat it. Fair enough when the ingredients in question are plants and berries. Bug parts, weird-but-technically-edible animal parts, and potentially poisonous mushrooms are strange and slightly risky, but the effects wear off and don't really hurt you in the amount you use. Teeth and horns of various animals, the toe of a dead giant, the oil that lubricated ancient Dwemer machinery, even pearls? Falls squarely here and requires considerable application of Fridge Logic to suspend disbelief for (i.e. you would have to grind up horns and teeth to be able to ingest them without choking). Overlaps with I Am A Humanitarian if you taste the human heart.
Eyeless Face: Flame Atronachs have no eyes, as the top of their head above their facial armor is a mass of fire.
Eye Scream: One of the finishers for one-handed swords on dragons is to climb onto the head of the thrashing dragon, and then stab them right in the eye.
A Stormcloak soldier at the beginning of the game volunteers to be the first to be executed and uses his last words to condemn the Imperials. The other Stormcloaks probably would have followed in his footsteps if a dragon hadn't shown up.
Also at the beginning of the game, Ralof says this almost verbatim to the luckless horse-thief, Lokir of Rorikstead. Lokir disregards this advice, and gets a few arrows in the back for it. If he'd just gone along, he might well have survived after all...
At the end of the civil war quest chain, if the player supports the Empire, Jarl Ulfric will initially go down swinging, but once beaten he will calmly accept his defeat and ask for the Dragonborn to finish him off, because it would "be a better song."
Topping them all though, is the Emperor himself, whom you must kill at the end of the Dark Brotherhood chain, if you choose to join them. After welcoming you warmly and saying that this is just how things work, he then calmly turns his back towards you, ready for his fate. He does ask for a final request, which you can fulfill or not: to kill whoever it is who commissioned his death. Even then, he does not expect it of you; he asks it as a favor, nothing more.
The Old Orc. He is too old to take a wife or become chief, but not too old to serve in battle. He refuses to die of old age (saying that to keep something past the point it is useful is unseemly, even more so if it is one's own life), and thus sets out across Skyrim to find a good death. He says he has received a vision from Malacath that he would die a glorious death at a certain point in Skyrim, and waits there for someone (possibly you) to deliver it.
The Ebony Warrior. He's done it all. Done every "quest," fought in almost every battle, to the point where everything is trivial to him. But when he hears of your exploits (when you hit 80), he seeks the opportunity to be sent to Sovngarde with honor.
Face-Heel Turn: The High Elves, who not only seceded from the Empire, but also forcibly conscripted the Wood Elves into their new nation, manipulated the Khajiit into becoming vassals and threatened to destroy the Empire unless they banned the worship of Talos because, partially due to their believed superiority, they don't like the idea of a human ascending to godhood, much less one that ran roughshod all over their last nation.
Faceless Goons: The common Stormcloak soldiers wear face-concealing helmets. Curiously, their Imperial counterparts wear open-face helmets.
A less serious example with Hadvar and Ralof. If the player follows one of them to Riverwood, they will make a pit stop at the Guardian Stones, where the player may choose their starting sign - Warrior, Thief or Mage. They will approve of the warrior and be indifferent if the player chooses Mage, but will be outright disapproving if s/he chooses the Thief stone. Of course, it's perfectly possible to choose the Warrior and then simply change to the Thief. Ralof/Hadvar will not comment on this, even if they're watching you while you do it.
During the Companions quest "Proving Honor," Farkas may drop his Skyforge Steel Greatsword when he transforms into a werewolf, then pick up the Silver Greatsword dropped by the Silver Hand afterward, allowing the player to pick it up and acquire a Skyforge Steel weapon earlier than normal. When sent to Eorlund Gray-Mane to legitimately acquire a Skyforge Steel weapon, Eorlund will comment about the poor quality of whatever weapon you are holding, even if it is the Skyforge Steel Greatsword acquired from Farkas.
Fake Crossover: An official mod places the Space Core into the game as an item. When you put it into the game, the poor guy falls from the sky (guess where he was before), which makes one wonder if this really is a Fake Crossover...
Fanservice Pack: Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of night and darkness, was just a woman wearing a cloak that covered her entirely in Oblivion. Come Skyrim, her statue is depicted in a scanty cloak with Absolute Cleavage that opens up at the side of her thighs, fully exposing the legs.
Fantastic Drug: Skooma is still around, though it doesn't have negative effects like it did in Morrowind and Oblivion; it's not even really illegal! One quest also features the more potent "Balmora Blue", which is illegal — and is supposedly priceless, what with there not being a Balmora anymore.
If someone ever gives a reason for siding with the Imperials over the Stormcloaks in the civil war sidequest, this is often the main reason given. The Stormcloaks have very strong racist tendencies and they do not hide this fact. This darker side is easiest to see in Windhelm. Dunmer are forced to live in the filthiest, poorest part of the city, and abuse from the local Nords is an almost daily occurrence. The Argonian dock workers are paid a tiny fraction of what the Nord workers are paid; they are also not permitted to live within the city walls, and are physically beaten if they try. Ulfric Stormcloak will send guards to root out bandits if a Nord village is attacked, but won't lift a finger to help Khajiit caravans when they're harassed. On the other hand, they tend to make exceptions if it would be beneficial - non-Nord characters can ask when joining the Stormcloaks, and be told that it's loyalty that matters rather than blood.
The two beastmen races get this the worst, by several lengths. Argonians are oppressed and hated throughout Skyrim, and if you choose to play as an Argonian, you can be sure that they won't call you by that name, preferring less charming terms such as "lizard". Khajiit will also be subjected to racial slurs, often stereotyped as thieves, drug-addicts and generally lowly scum (ironically forcing them to become these things to survive). This makes clawing the offenders to death much more satisfying.
As for Orsimer, they're regarded as little more than disgusting, ugly brutes. The in-game book The Pig Children gives a rather nasty example of this.
Even though the Player Character is the Chosen One, they don't entirely escape the racist abuse. This is sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional, but always very awkward. For example, playing as an Orc, to hear Lydia swear undying loyalty to you in one breath and then say, "Die, you Orc filth!" to an opponent of yours in the next sort of makes one wonder...
The 4 main human races have real world counterparts:
The Empire is heavily based on the Roman Empire; the Imperial Legion armors have even taken on a much more Roman-like appearance this time around to reflect this, comfortably familiar to players of Morrowind.
Nord culture is an amalgam of various Germanic cultures, especially Scandinavia, but with some Anglo-Saxon elements. The ancient Nords seem to have had a little bit of ancient Egypt sprinkled in their customs for a good measure, with elaborate mummification and entombment methods you get to witness up close in approximately half of the dungeons in the game.
The Bretons are mixed. Those from High Rock are based on the French, especially in terms of names (Montiere, Mirabelle, etc...), while those from The Reach in particular are essentially based on the Celtic British, complete with a King Arthur figure in Red Eagle. Of course, Breton is the French name for the people of Brittany - the Celtic part of France. There is also a little bit of England sprinkled in (or rather, left in since Daggerfall).
The Redguard are based on Moorish peoples of northwest Africa. Even down to their curved swords. Curved! Swords!
The Khajiit are pretty much based on the Romani people. Their new voice also gives that feel.
In Dragonborn, the Skaal are like standard Nords mixed with Inuits.
The Orcs, weirdly enough, have more than a little in common with Native Americans. They had their land stolen from them under the threat of violence, and now live in rather limited communal dwellings, resembling something similar to a reservation.
Fast-Forward Mechanic: There is a wait function, allowing you to wait for a number of hours of your choice. The current time should be somewhere at the bottom-left corner of the box. It's useful for getting the shops to open (wait until after 8:00 am) and letting followers catch up. Sleeping, if available at the time, accomplishes the same thing and adds the Rested bonus besides.
A Father to His Men: General Tullius of the Imperial Legion. If the player sides with the Legion and captures Windhelm, he compliments his soldiers, doubles their pay, and also doubles the compensations to the widows of the dead soldiers. He seems to be based on Julius Caesar. Ulfric Stormcloak and Galmar Stonefist are this as well, as they love their men dearly and are deeply respected in return.
Fauxshadow: Maurice from the Blessing of Kynareth quest practically screams sinister with his appearance, voice and mannerisms. Not only is he a genuinely good guy, but keeping him alive actually makes the final part of the quest much easier.
Likewise, Mara and former Vaermina priest Erandur in Dawnstar is a dark elf who seems to know a lot about nightmares and expresses genuine admiration when confronted to the ingeniosity of a Daedric Lord's work. You even get a message warning you that he plans to betray you. He actually is truly redeeming himself, and stays true to his word to destroy the Skull of Corruption, becoming a rather powerful follower afterwards. The warning was a lie from Vaermina trying to turn you against him.
Fetch Quest: The game is filled with these. The "Radiant Story" system was built for this. It does, however, usually have the decency to point to locales you have yet to visit, making the journey as bountiful as the destination when you clear out a new dungeon.
Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three archetypal builds are present even without classes, as each skill is one of six in each purview. In the astrological lore of the series, these three are the names of three "Guardian" constellations in the zodiac which "watch over" lesser constellations devoted to these three builds. The new skill tree system's visible appearance is a direct callback to this, with the three "Guardians" as huge nebulae over the warrior, mage and thief skill trees that appear as constellations in the sky. (The old constellations like "The Atronach" and "The Shadow" have been moved to the standing stones dotting Skyrim.)
Many of the Jarls have one of each archetype (though "thief" may be a bit of a stretch, that is the constellation that includes Speech) for advisors: The Housecarl for the more strength-at-arms-tinted advice, the Steward for the voice of discretion, and the Court Mage for advice on any arcane matters.
The three heroes of Skyrim also fit into this trichotomy.
You actually get at least three encounters with him before the actual final battle. The third one subverts the usual expectation of getting curb stomped. You actually have him on the run and news of his defeat at your hands shakes the confidence the other dragons have in Alduin's leadership.
Finishing Move: Born from the popular OblivionGame Mod "Deadly Reflexes" and as an extension of the predecessor Fallout 3 engine's VATS kill-cam function, we have Finishers - flashy animations where characters kill others in a spectacular manner. Every weapon in the game has at least two finisher animations for every enemy type in the game, and projectile weapons have a few as well.
Particularly satisfying is one of the unarmed Finishers, a chokeslam Have An Axe to Grind? Your character doesn't need it as they're quite happy to headbutt a foe to death.
Fire-Breathing Weapon: While its predecessor Oblivion only featured spells that fire a single bolt of elemental energy, Skyrim also features spells that fire a stream of energy. These tend to require less magicka than the other variety, but deal less damage.
In addition, the player can learn to breathe fire (and frost) in the same way the Dragons do.
Fire, Ice, Lightning: Destruction magic has you covered for all three. Tactically, they have different uses: fire is cheapest and does after-burn damage, ice drains stamina and slows enemies, and lighting drains magic and is a Hit Scan projectile.
Fission Mailed: There's a minor example in the "Season Unending" quest. When attempting to write a temporary peace treaty between the Stormcloaks and the Empire, no matter what actions you take there will always be a moment where one or both of the factions will call the whole debate pointless and a waste of time and then threaten to storm out. This can make the player think they screwed up... until Esbern suddenly steps in and gives a scathing speech to both factions about the fact that dragons will kill them all if they don't put aside their petty differences. The peace treaty negotiations then proceed from where they left off.
Foe-Tossing Charge: The top level tier for the Block perk tree allows you to go baddie bowling if you sprint with your shield up.
Foreboding Architecture: Gets especially obvious in Nordic ruins. Yes, the sarcophagi will bust open dramatically the moment you try to take the loot or the MacGuffin, and yes, the Frostbite Spider will drop down through the giant hole in the ceiling.
In Dawnguard, many of the Gargoyle statues contain living Gargoyles.
Foreshadowing: Bethesda loves to use this trope regarding in-game books.
You can find a copy of The Book of the Dragonborn in the dungeons while making your escape from Helgen - quite some time before you learn that you are the title character.
There's a copy of Nightingales: Fact or Fiction right next to Mercer Frey. If you follow the Thieves' Guild quest line, you find out he is one. And you get the chance to become one yourself.
There's a copy of Wabbajack in the Blue Palace bedrooms. Then you can receive the same weapon yourself in a closed wing of the very same palace.
Certain dungeons have the spirits of people who've explored the dungeon before you (most notably the Labyrinthian). Their corpses and subsequent "visions" show you just how not to approach the next room.
Near the beginning of the game, the Greybeards call out to you using the dragon word "Dovahkiin". You use this shout in the same manner to call a dragon, Odahviing, to you in order to chase after Alduin near the climax.
Vilkas of the Companions says, "I think I've killed one of every living thing in Skyrim. May be time for a trip to Morrowind." Fast forward to the Dragonborn DLC; while not in Morrowind, it does take place in Solstheim, the location of the Bloodmoon expansion.
Upon escaping Helgen, when facing Frostbite Spiders Hadvar says "What next giant snakes?" guess what new monster they introduce in Online.
Forged Letter: There is an early quest that involves giving a fake letter from Faendal (actually written by Sven) and giving it to a girl they both like. The player can then choose to tell Faendal about the letter, and can choose to deliver a similar letter from Sven (actually written by Faendal).
For the Evulz: The ghost of Lucien Lachance acts like this, often advocating murder for petty reasons.
Friendly Fireproof: In the corner of Apocrypha in the Dragonborn DLC accessed by the black book Winds of Change, one of the "Insights" you can choose is Companion's Insight, which is this trope.
The Circle of the Companions are Friendly Neighborhood Werewolves.
Nice vampires are few and far between, including only Babette, Sybille Stentor, and in Dawnguard, Serana.
The guests at Namira's feast might count as Friendly Neighbourhood Cannibals if you choose to join them.
From Bad to Worse: According to the plot, things in Tamriel have indeed gotten worse during the 200 year gap between Oblivion and Skyrim.
Keep in mind that Oblivion involved an invasion from a hell realm with demons erupting out and causing mass death and destruction... those are now seen as the good old days.
From the Mouths of Babes: Killing Grelod the Kind can result in one of the orphans taking a very dark interest in assassination and its ability to "solve people's problems."
Fungus Humongous: Blackreach has glowing mushrooms that reach all the way to the top of the cavern.
Tel Mithryn in Dragonborn is an absolutely enormous mushroom that serves as the home of the Dunmer wizard Neloth.
Fur Against Fang: Mentioned in passing by Lord Harkon in Dawnguard. If you're a werewolf when he offers to make you a vampire lord, he regards it as filth in your blood, and his tone suggests he's genuinely disgusted by it. If you refuse his offer to join them, this applies as well.
The common Fur Armor looted off bandits has four variants (full-body with sleeves, sleeveless, barechested, and topless). When the minimal version is worn by a female character, this includes a strapless bikini top to replace the cloth brassiere they would otherwise be wearing.
At launch, the PS3 version had a save issue that would cause the game to bog down the more you discovered and larger the save got. When the majority had been discovered, the game was nigh-unplayable. This still has yet to be rectified, though a patch is in the works.
And of course, there's still the odd glitch that locks the player out of an entire questline.
1.3 had an unintended effect in that Werewolves' Beast Form now essentially has no armor value, making the form basically useless.
Patch 1.5 tried to fix the infamous NavMesh bug that caused NPCs to stop moving in custom made areas. Instead of fixing it, it made the game horrendously unstable for mod users. Bethesda released another patch afterwards that reverted these changes.
A rather annoying bug that hasn't been fixed involves the cutscene with Meridia. After talking with you, she might just drop you, leaving you to fall to your doom.
The fight against Miraak in Dragonborn can be rendered unwinnable if you're too aggressive. Miraak is scripted to heal after taking enough damage, for a total of three times, and for the duration is rendered ethereal so you can't attack him. The problem is, each healing session is designed to only restore most of his health, the assumption being he'll have enough left upon going ethereal to cover the distance and restore him to full. If you damage him enough, though, the healing session will leave him at close to full health, while Miraak will only attack if his health is at full. Miraak will thus stay permanently ethereal, and the battle will be stuck. The only way to correct this problem is either to get him to leave combat (which not all character builds can do), otherwise you're forced to reset and watch your damage output more carefully.
However, if you do get stuck in this manner, you can frequently fix it by shooting Hermaeus Mora (who floats above the battle in the center of the area, though often invisibly) with spell or arrow. Oddly, instead of getting peeved with you for nailing him, this triggers the stalled "death sequence" for Miraak and ends the fight.
While it doesn't break the game, it does make several quests unwinnable. If you have Barbas with you and enter Dragon Bridge, you may trigger a rare glitch that Barbas might for no reason become hostile and attack the townspeople, eventually attacking a kid. Since Barbas and the kid are both immortal, he will end up chasing him forever.
Dawnguard is terribly buggy in general, but some of the more notable ones are: Dimhollow Cavern not triggering properly, leaving you unable to even properly start the DLC story; being unable to speak to Serana after rescuing her; and either not being able to place the Soul Cairn ingredients in the bowl, or Serana never adding her blood to the mixture. All of those bugs render the player unable to progress, making the entire DLC being completely unplayable.
Game Mod: Though not quite as many as its predecessor, there are still absolutely tons of mods on independent websites and through the Steam Workshop.
For a race that was dying out, the dragons seem to have an awful lot of reinforcements. And then subverted.
The player's race very rarely affects an NPC's dialogue, even though racism against non-Nords is a major theme in the game. For example, the Khajiit traders are forbidden from so much as stepping inside city walls, but a player Khajiit can buy a house and get married without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow - and you can do this before you are even acknowledged as the Dragonborn.
Characters that are wounded in gameplay-combat can be healed back to full in an instant with your "Healing Hands" spell. Characters that get wounded as part of the plot... not so much. Apparently you're just lucky none of those arrows you heal away so easily hit you in the knee...
Certain plot threads are handled separately, which leads to odd situations where doing quests in certain orders leads to facepalming dialogues. For example, while doing Thieves' Guild quests, the player is told by Maven Black-Briar that she has Dark Brotherhood contacts and she'll sic them on you. Thing is, if you completed the Dark Brotherhood questline before doing the Thieves' Guild, you know exactly who her contact was - Astrid, through Delvin. And Astrid is dead. And you are the head of the Brotherhood. If you've done both the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves' Guild storylines, Maven's threats and posturing take on a new level of absurdity, because she's threatening you with yourself,seeing as howyou lead both organizations.
When you use the Thu'um in an area with NPCs, you're liable to receive an anonymous letter remarking on your usage of it at that location and the letter carrier lets you know where a Word Wall can be found. You'll receive these letters even if the location in question was a bandit lair where you murdered everyone, or your own home in one of the cities where the only people who would hear it are family members and personal friends, or even the Soul Cairn.
Skooma and Moon Sugar are narcotics. You will even meet addicts to the stuff. But in game, consuming them has no negative effects on you, even in large quantities.
At a certain point in one quest, the player gets stabbed and passes out. An NPC will tell them that a certain paralytic venom kept them from bleeding out. In combat, the player never "bleeds out" at all, and in fact he regenerates. In fact, the player may very well be immune to poisons to begin with!
A lot of the Jarls are worried about dragon attacks, namely due to the fact that a lot of the structures in their city are flammable. In the game itself? Not so much. In fact, the structures are apparently so sturdy that they can withstand the force of a dragon landing on it... the same dragons that shake the earth otherwise.
Children cannot be killed in gameplay, in spite of the fact that there are several instances of minor storylines that involve children being murdered (offscreen, of course). This particular example is justified; Bethesda was worried about possible complaints from irate parents if children could be killed in-game, so they made the children immortal. This can be particularly ridiculous in Windhelm, where the local serial killer can, at the conclusion of the quest, shank a child who suffers no ill-effects.
The Skeleton Key. When Mercer Frey uses it, it can open anything, including the sliding puzzle doors you need claws for, and the Thieves' Guild treasure vault, which requires two keys to open. When you use it, it's just an unbreakable lockpick. Of course, he had the key for years and has learned how to use it.
The Vigilants of Stendarr make a big deal about how they murder daedra worshipers or anyone who so much as looks like they're involved in something daedric on sight. They may have failed their Daedric Artifact Identification course, however, as you can run circles around them while wearing Boethiah's Ebony Mail and the Masque of Clavicus Vile, wielding Meridia's Dawnbreaker sword and Peryite's Spellbreaker shield, and they won't so much as bat an eye.
Several NPCs will give you sidequests that involve doing something underhanded or correcting a mistake of theirs against another person. This gets a little funny if the questgiver is "whispering" this to you while said other person is casually walking by (due to the game engine, said other person will also be looking straight at you, completely transfixed, but not saying a word). A notable example is the quest involving collecting ingredients for Ingun Black-Briar, who accidentally destroyed her master's collection of rare herbs and is trying to replace them before said master finds out. Since she works at her master's shop, she can be telling you all of this while said master walks right in between you two.
In the vampire side of the Dawnguard expansion, one of the radiant quests is to turn public opinion against the Dawnguard by framing them for murder. You are assigned to kill a person in a city while dressed as a Dawnguard warrior, and to do it conspicuously - makes sense from a narrative point of view, after all. However, no matter how you're dressed for that quest, a public murder means that bounty will be assigned... to your character, not the Dawnguard. Um...
Gangsta Style: A sneaking archer will hold, draw and fire his/her bow sideways.
An attempt at handwave mentions how harsh the Nord style of life is in Skyrim, and people don't have time for nonsense such as "romance".
Gendered Outfit: Every outfit in the game has a male and female variant. Armor becomes a Breast Plate when fitted onto a female character, and regular clothes have vastly different appearances between the sexes.
Because you're not technically supposed to be able to wear it, Nocturnal's robe has no male variant; males are simply made female (appearance-only), which reverts once the robes are removed.
At the very least, most of the armors avoid becoming a Chainmail Bikini. The only exception is Forsworn armor, but then it also looks very skimpy on the men too.
Gender Is No Object: You might occasionally hear otherwise, but gender makes very little difference when it comes to profession in this setting, both for the player character and for the non-player characters. The Companions, the manliest men in the game, have some womanly women with them; the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks have both ranking-officer and grunt-level women; Jarls can be either men or women; and so on. There are plenty of other, more important things to be bigoted about in this setting (usually Fantastic Racism).
Genre Blind: The situations in which you stumble across dead bodies often suggest that this trope is the reason why.
Elf's Diary: I saw some kind of grey creature behind the old gate over there! Perhaps it's a new automaton we haven't cataloged. Oh, this is so exciting! I'm moving my bedroll down here, see if I can get another glimpse.
When you tell Fralia Gray-Mane her son is alive but he can't return home, she asks how she can be sure he didn't die and you're not just telling her what she wants to hear. Considering such a lie is possible in many quest-based RPGs (including this one), good question. Fortunately, you have a way to prove it.
The first thing Alduin does after coming out of his exile? Go after the current Dragonborn, i.e. you.
Traps are often designed to take into account the circumstances under which you'll trigger them. Chest traps and the like aim at the trigger, while hallway traps are typically aimed several feet ahead of the trigger, making sure you'll walk into them instead of past them. Even sprinting (usually) doesn't prevent you from taking damage. In addition, this is set up so that it will only trigger the trap when trying to enter the dungeon, not going out.
Gentle Giant: Subverted. Giants aren't immediately hostile, but they are fiercely territorial and won't hesitate to crush anyone that gets too close to them or their mammoths.
George Washington Slept Here: The Old Hroldan Inn is said to be where Tiber Septim slept on the night before fighting the battle in which he earned the name Talos Stormcrown. Sleeping there summons a ghost who sends you on a quest to grant him peace.
When Dawnbreaker causes an explosion, any draugr that isn't killed by the blast will usually run away.
The dragons can be this to a melee Dovahkiin until they get Dragonrend to force them to land.
Some enemies (especially high-level Draugr) will suddenly remember that they're 800 years late for work and take off towards the exit of the dungeon you're currently in.
Anytime you have to fight a enemy near a body of water. If they flee or take a wrong step, they will end up in the water. While unable to attack you due to not being able to draw their weapons, the same goes for you unless you have some sort of ranged weapon.
Get It Over With: Rather than wait for last rites, one of the Stormcloaks waiting with you to be executed at Helgen interrupts and claims, "I haven't got all morning!" He is immediately executed. Literally a minute later, a dragon attacks and the rest of the prisoners flee. If he had just let the priest finish talking...
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Check out Haelga's bedroom some time. She's got shackles over the bed, an aphrodisiac and the script to the pornographic play The Lusty Argonian Maid on her nightstand, some stamina potions on the shelves, a letter praising her skill in the "Dibellan arts" involving Daedric Armor boots and a trout, and, under the bed, a horker tusk and leather strap.
The Embershard mine near Riverwood is home to a bandit gang. One small corner of the mine has a set of floorboards over the ground around a small hole dug to hold a bucket.
Take a close look at the statues of Dibella you occasionally come across. They have faint nubs on their bare breasts. Despite this, even Azura, who has been depicted as a classical-style nude in the past three games, is covered up now.
It is possible to come across a tent somewhere in the wilderness - inside are two bed rolls, many red mountain flowers scattered over the beds, two pairs of boots, two creme treats on a silver platter and a lot of empty wine bottles. Hmm, wonder what happened there...
You can take on a quest from Bothela in Markarth that has you delivering a stamina potion named the Stallion's Potion to the Jarl's steward, an old man, who then pays you off for your discretion on the matter.
If you pronounce Faendal as a norwegian word, it literally translates to "fuck-valley". Considering that Skyrim and the nords in general are highly influenced by the vikings (even though Faendal is an bosmer), it's likely intentional.
Ghibli Hills: Falkreath Hold. The only settlement there (besides the ruins of Helgen) is the hold capital itself. The primary industry seems to be logging, and the land itself is unspoiled, teeming with forests and trees, and sparsely populated.
Arguably Whiterun. The surrounding country side is tundra, but it's grassy and snow-free. The people in the city itself are mostly pleasant, as is the Jarl, and even the guards after you complete a few quests, so the place feels like Arcadia. Perhaps not coincidentally, that is the name of the city's resident alchemy merchant.
Giant Enemy Crab: Mudcrabs, naturally, but not just the ones that annoy you every time you come near a river. Just southeast of Rorikstead, there is a mudcrab-infested pool of water that appears to be ridged on all sides with rocks. On closer inspection, it turns out the "rocks" on one side are the corpse of a mudcrab bigger than everything except mammoths and dragons!
And you can fight the ghost of said giant Mudcrab in a quest!
Glamor Failure: A meta-example. Several dungeons have you fight spectral enemies that appears as ghostly blue apparitions. However, they're just normal enemies with a particular visual effect applied to them. It often glitches up, particularly when they die, revealing their true nature.
Werewolves. They can not wear armor, use potions, or perform restoration spells while in beast mode. They can, however, paralyze and stagger any enemy, rendering even ancient dragons helpless, if they enter melee range. Outside of melee range is where one good archer will do them in.
Dual-wielders. Potentially double the damage output of a sword-and-board fighter and can take perks that increase their attack speed, but are incapable of blocking.
Skeletons have roughly the same damage potential as rank-and-file Draugr, but are one of the most fragile enemies in the game.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: The vampires in Dawnguard have these while human, and the Dragonborn can acquire them as well if they contract their strain of vampirism.
God Was My Copilot: Your drinking buddy in the quest A Night to Remember turns out to be none other than Sanguine himself.
Godzilla Threshold: Relying on the Dragonborn to save the world can become this: your character can be the leader of the Thieves' Guild and/or the Dark Brotherhood, have completed every Daedric quest that involves betrayal, torture, murder, and cannibalism, and have slain hundreds of innocent people before slaying even one dragon and being summoned by the Greybeards. And they'll still teach you to use the Voice, despite the fact that you're evil enough to be be measured in Kilonazis and will obviously abuse the power, because you are the only hope the world has.
Lampshaded by the Greybeards in conversation. Whilst they are constrained by the Way of the Voice to use their Shouts only for divine purposes, the Dragonborn is under no such constraints. Since your power is directly granted by a gift of Akatosh himself, any use you choose to put it to must therefore be divinely ordained. No matter how depraved your actions, in the end you're on a Mission from God.
Paarthurnax likewise helps the Dragonborn learn the Dragonrend shout to help defeat Alduin, despite the fact that it could be used to kill him instead, especially since the Dragonborn is known to be allied with the Blades who want to kill him. Paarthurnax trusts the Dragonborn, and for the most part his trust is justified, as most players will immediately tell the Blades to shove it and remain friendly to Paarthurnax rather than give him a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment.
Gone Horribly Wrong: In the Dragonborn DLC, a team of Necromancers went into Fort Frostmoth to revive Falx Carius with a new form of Necromancy, which restores his flesh. But the process is messed up - he is successfully revived, but cannot be controlled by the Necromancers as he has total free will. Worse, the process warps his mind. He murders the head Necromancer, gains control of the Ash Spawn, and wages war on Raven Rock assuming they're enemies with the Imperial Legion (as he thinks it's still 200 years prior).
Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: In the volcanic springs of Eastmarch is a small band of hunters bathing, their clothes neatly set aside should the player choose to appropriate them. On the other hand, should the player dropnote (not just unequip, but actually drop from their inventory) their armor before taking a swim, nearby NP Cs may pick up the items in the meantime (actually part of a standard NPC response to the player dropping valuable items — they will ask if the player wants the item back, or if it's free for them to keep).
One bug found during development featured chickens reporting the player's crimes to guards. Sadly, it would have made the game unreasonably difficult to players who weren't aware of it, and so it was removed.
Shortly after release, it was discovered that you could safely steal stuff as long as you placed a bucket over the head of nearby NPCs so they couldn't see you do it.
Various clipping and animation bugs can cause a leader to begin dancing during an important speech.
If you are on friendly terms with a faction like the Dark Brotherhood or the Companions, you can take quite a few free shots on them without them going hostile. This leads to some odd scenarios where you are happily greeted by someone with whom you just shot three arrows.
Fortify Skill enchantments on armor are classified as Restoration-type spells, and drinking a Potion of Restoration temporarily boosts their effects. By drinking a Potion of Restoration, equipping a piece of armor that boosts Alchemy, using that to brew a better Potion of Restoration, and repeating ad nauseam, one can create ludicrously powerful potions that heal millions of hit points, boost Item Crafting skills by over ten thousand percent (thus allowing one to create ridiculously overpowered weapons, armor and enchantments) and basically break the game difficulty into little pieces - though repeating the loop too many times can cause an overflow and crash the game. It's an amusing, if unintentional, nod to Morrowind, where something similar could be done.
The Oghma Infinium book normally vanishes after choosing one path from it by reading it once for upgrading your stats (i.e. it's supposed to be one-time use only). But this bug involving the use of a bookshelf prevents it from vanishing, letting you read the book repeatedly to Level Grind as high as you want for free.
The Hidden Chest glitch, which often has respawning (after a certain time period) loot (resulting in infinite gold and other supplies if you're patient). The most notable one being this one in Dawnstar, which is invisible, and can only be found if you sneak, and its contents refresh (though with random quantity) every 48 hours in-game. These hidden chests are actually Merchant chests, and their contents match up to a certain merchant's inventory. The one in Dawnstar, for example, belongs to the Kahjiit traders on the outskirts of the city.
NPCs have been seen swimming through the air in the town of Morthal.
In Dragonborn, once you have acquired Severin Manor in Raven Rock, you have access to everything inside the house - including the four mannequins in the basement. Equipping items onto these and then removing them will sometimes trigger a bug in which the mannequins spawn duplicates of the items in question, allowing you to farm a continuously replenishing supply of shields, tunics, and so forth.
Balgruuf the Greater, Jarl of Whiterun. He’s well loved and respected by his people and is always courteous and grateful to the Dragonborn, regardless of their race. He’s also the only Jarl to remain neutral during the Civil War, not wanting the war to destroy his hold or his people. When Whiterun is attacked by the Stormcloaks during the Civil War quest line, regardless of which side you've joined, Balgruuf himself leads the defense of the city. He won't go down without a fight.
Brunwulf Free-Winter, the nicest guy in Skyrim, who replaces Ulfric Stormcloak as Jarl of Windhelm if the Empire wins the civil war. Within hours of assuming his post he meets with the local dark elves and promises to develop and renovate the ghetto-like Grey District they've been forced to live in, as well as working on a way to allow Argonians to live in the city instead of the single, drafty, cramped building on the docks. He also retains most of Ulfric's court staff since they know their jobs well enough and offers lodging to the Jarls that were deposed for supporting the Stormcloaks. He then takes charge of Windhelm and doesn't lose that sense of modesty or approachability.
The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: The Imperials and Stormcloaks are the Good and the Bad. Which one is which depends on who you side with. Something both sides agree on is that the Thalmor are the Evil.
Good Old Fisticuffs: You can choose to "brawl" with some people in lieu of persuading, bribing or threatening. A few NPCs will only become your follower if you can beat them up!
Khajiit are the only species that get a +15 boost to unarmed combat, because they're cat people and have claws. Argonians get a much lesser boost - they have a higher base unarmed damage, as do Khajiit, but not the additional damage boost from the Claws passive.
The Heavy Armor perk "Fists Of Steel" boosts your unarmed damage by the default armor rating of worn gauntlets. If you're a Khajiit on top of that, your fists are lethal weapons.
And to top it all off, there is a unique unarmed damage-boosting apparel enchant effect out there that you can disenchant and apply to your own armor. Combine with the Khajiit unarmed bonus and the Fists of Steel perk...
Great Offscreen War: The recent Great War against the Thalmor provides backstory and motivation for much of the game.
Green Hill Zone: The game appears to begin in Falkreath Hold, a relatively peaceful region home to a vibrant arboreal forest, as opposed to the harsher tundra, swamps, and glaciers of northern Skyrim.
Grey and Gray Morality: The Legion and the Stormcloaks. The Legion's trying to hold the Empire together, but they're willing to kill unlucky bystanders (i.e. you), are believed by the Stormcloaks to be intimidated by the threat of another war with the Dominion, and to maintain the peace sacrifice Nord customs including their primary religion. The Stormcloaks want to be independent and restore the Nord customs, but their leader killed a young and innocent king to begin the war, although he claims this was a lawful challenge according to Nord custom, and some engage in Fantastic Racism against any non-Nord races, with the Stormcloak capital of Windhelm by far the worst offender. This racism spreads with them - if Whiterun is taken by the Stormcloaks, a Cyrodiilic blacksmith there notes that she'd probably be out of business if she wasn't married to a Nord.
There's an added element of importance to the civil war that goes beyond simply whose beliefs dominate in Skyrim. If the Empire wins, the political situation stabilizes and the Empire can resume rebuilding to face the inevitable Thalmor aggression more effectively, and possibly repel a second assault and ultimately reestablish the old pantheon. But if the Stormcloaks win, free and open worship of Talos can resume immediately in Skyrim. The Stormcloaks may be able to reunite fractured elements of the Empire like Hammerfell and Morrowind, and reforge the Tamrielic Empire under Ulfric into a stronger force than the old Empire. Regardless, however, Ulfric does make it a point to take immediate steps to ensuring Skyrim is self-sufficient by increasing the power of its army.
Both sides have a relatively even amount of "corrupt Jarls" (Siddgeir and Maven Black-Briar for the Empire, Skald and Thongvor Silver-Blood for the Stormcloaks) and "good Jarls" (Brunwulf Free-Winter, Balgruuf the Elder, and Brina Merilis for the Empire, Dengeir of Stuhn and Sorli the Builder for the Stormcloaks). Most of the Jarls for either side have their merits and flaws, however, driving this trope even further.
On another front, the Forsworn and everyone else in the Reach. The Forsworn are bloodthirsty Breton guerrillas who esteem hagravens and murder anyone unlucky enough to run into their patrols... and they've also been enslaved and persecuted by the rulers of Markarth and the Silver-Bloods. As one Forsworn says, there are no innocents, "just the guilty and the dead."
If you eavesdrop on some of the random bandit tribes you find, it turns out some of them are normal, rational people. One cave is full of vampires leading to the shrine to one of the Daedric Princes, who laughs when you get there and explains that the vampires came to him seeking a cure for their condition, and he thinks it's poetic irony that you happened by to kill them. You will find yourself questioning the morality of your actions a lot the deeper you go.
The Blades and the Greybeards. The Blades want to defeat Alduin and the dragons but they aren't very nice to the Dragonborn, while the Greybeards are kindly mentor figures but invoke You Are Not Ready to explain why they don't just teach the Dragonborn every Shout they know when the player first meets them. The two are also not fond of each other - the Blades order you to kill Paarthurnax for being a dragon, and Delphine says the Greybeards fear the Shout's misuse and so do not use its power for good, but all power risks being abused and their knowledge is worthless if it isn't being put to use. By contrast, the Greybeards consider the Blades meddlers in things they don't understand, and claim that their mission to serve the Dragonborn is a lie they use to hide the fact they want to control the Dragonborn. Which, if you think about it, is precisely what Delphine does throughout the main questline - she doesn't ask, she orders, and you obey. Question her, and she becomes insulting. Example dialogue: You: "Why should I trust you?" (a valid question at that point, since she stole the horn, and is yammering about Thalmor conspiracies) Her: "If you don't trust me, you were a fool to come here." (Basically an insult, she lured you there by stealing the horn and left a note telling you where to go to get it back. What does she expect as a non-foolish response, then? Show up and murder everyone in the Inn to get it? Shrug and walk away from the main quest?). Ultimately, you can be loyal to only one of the two factions, depending on how you feel about killing Paarthurnax.
The Dark Brotherhood will come off as an antagonistic force and none of the quests you do for them are anything close to good, but you can't help but feel sorry for Astrid, who seems to just want to hold together and provide for her surrogate family (the implication being that their primary means of income is death) and is initially horrified by the Night Mother's decree to go assassinate the Emperor.
Grim Up North: Skyrim itself is this to the rest of Tamriel. Like Morrowind, it does have more geographical diversity but still, it is mountainous and very cold.
Played straight, as Skyrim becomes nastier, in regards to weather and terrain, the farther north you go.
Groin Attack: This is one of the finishers you can perform on a Dwarven Centurion.
It's also one of the finishers for unarmed combat.
In the quest "Blood On the Ice," the quest arrow and journal only point you to one person so you can accuse who you think is a murderer. The only way to get the good end for the quest is to, perhaps without knowing he exists, confront the suspect - whom the clues you collect will strongly suggest is the murderer - before reporting him as a suspect. Confronting rather than accusing him will reveal his innocence. The other possibility comes if you talk to another NPC, who points you towards a shopkeeper... whose shop contains displays of the murder weapon. Along with Ysgramor's spoon, which is a fork.
Unlike Oblivion, Skyrim states your Armor Points instead of your damage absorption. The thing is, it's still using the Oblivion system where you can only ignore a max of 80% damage, which equates to 567 armor points. You can literally craft steel armor that's strong enough to reach it with a buffed max Smithing skill.
In one quest, you're framed and confronted by corrupt guardsmen and given the choice to either go to jail or fight. The only way to complete the quest and get the best loot is to go to prison; all fighting does is get you a nasty criminal fee.
For the "Oblivion Walker" achievement, you only get it for having 15 daedric artifacts, not just completing the quests. This means that, if you choose alternate endings to some of them, have fun making an entirely new character or reloading a very old save. Clavicus Vile's quest is the worst offender, because unlike the other Daedra whose quests offer multiple artifacts, only one of his (the Masque) counts towards the achievement, meaning you absolutely must finish the quest in that way to get the achievement.
Another offender is Vaermina's quest, which forces you to choose between either the Skull of Corruption or a decidedly non-Squishy Wizard follower. The easiest way to get the achievement if you want Erandur instead is to save Vaermina's quest for last, save your game before you get the Skull, get the achievement, and then reload.
There are several ways to start the quest to reforge the Gauldur Amulet; the most straightforward is to join the College of Winterhold and enter Saarthal. If you start it any other way, note such as clearing out Folgunthur or Geirmund's Hall and removing the amulet fragment from the boss, or reading the book Lost Legends, which directs you to Folgunthur you will get to Saarthal and realize there's no indication of how to gain entry. There's no obvious connection to the College, unless you can figure out that they're the ones excavating the site.
You are unlikely to find all the recipes for the Atronach Forge in the Midden under the College of Winterhold unless you savage the population of rogue mages throughout Skyrim and pick up all the randomly dropped recipe notes... or look it up online or in a guidebook. This is probably intentional, as the book you find in the room encourages you to experiment with random combinations.
In the main questline, the Greybeards send you to a dungeon where, in order to progress, you need to lift a gate using a pressure plate and get through it before it closes. The only way you'll get through it in time is to use your Whirlwind Sprint shout. The fact the Greybeards teach the shout to you before sending you to the dungeon serves as a subtle nudge. It doesn't help that, unless you've been exploring and have more than one word for the shout, the base shout needs to be timed perfectly to get you through the gates.
The "No Stone Unturned" quest involves collecting 24 "unusual gems" (aka the Stones of Barenziah) which are scattered all over Skyrim. There are no clues in-game as to where each one is, and chances are you'll find at least one by accident. Their locations are fixed, but vary from caves and tombs to people's homes (one is located inside Proudspire Manor, which you can only enter after buying it) to places of high restrictions like a Jarl's quarters (which require you to sneak in really well unless the said Jarl made you a Thane). One is even located inside the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary, which can only be entered after starting the Dark Brotherhood questline, either to join them or destroy them. And prior to patch 1.4, one of these gems was inside the Thalmor Embassy, which can only be visited during the "Diplomatic Immunity" quest; thankfully, after the patch it was relocated to a cave underneath, which is accessible anytime (but not marked on the map).
The first time you turn into a Vampire Lord in Dawnguard you get a nice little tutorial that covers everything... except how to change back. (You have to open your Favorites mini-menu, something you couldn't do while transformed before.)
Finding Narfi's sister Reyda is also one of these. Wilhelm, the local innkeeper, is supposed to give you the clue to where her remains are, and points you to an island filled with various harvestable plants. However, what you don't know is that Reyda's body apparently floated downstream and under the bridge, partially buried under the soil.
Reyda's body at least has a small quest arrow over it. When you're charged by Maven Black-Briar with finding the Quill of Gemination, which was lost somewhere in Lake Honrich, she gives you an approximate area to start your sweep, and it is located in a sunken rowboat, making it slightly easier to find, but there is NO quest arrow. You literally have to comb the bottom of the lake until you find it.
The Destruction Ritual Spell does not have quest markers. It does give you hints on where to find the next location, but to even have a hope in hell of understanding those clues, you would had to have already visited the locations.
Several items are coded to spawn a different version if you happen to complete their quests or trigger their spawn at a certain level. This means that to get the best version of these items, you gotta wait until you're at least level 50 before triggering them. This is especially painful because there is absolutely no indication whatsoever in the game proper about these weapons scaling to your character's level (Quest Rewards always scale, but they give you a completely different item rather than just scale up the item's stats, such as a pair of Ebony Boots as opposed to a plain old pair of Orc Boots as a reward). This includes most of the end-rewards for the Thieves' Guild quest and the aforementioned Gauldur Amulet, which is triggered the moment you set foot into any of the tombs, not upon completion of the quest.
Becoming a vampire is fine for the first two days, but once people begin chasing you out of town, it starts being a problem. You are given no hints how to feed and no warning as to what will happen. The stronger Vampire Lord does not have this problem, though it's misleading in that it still warns you as if it does.
A more mild example are the claws used to open the puzzle doors throughout various dungeons in the game. The game does tell you that the solutions are on the claws themselves, but they don't tell you that you can rotate items while browsing your inventory. Since the claws always default to facing away from the camera, you have to rotate it to see the combination on the paw side. This isn't so much of a "How are we supposed to guess this?" as it is "How are we supposed to think to try that?", as the claws are the only time you'll ever have to rotate an item in your inventory. Fortunately, the doors in question use a simple three-symbol combination, leaving only 27 combinations to brute-force for those that don't figure it out.
Similar to the claws, there's also the doors that can only be activated with the rotating pillars (which also have 3 sides each). All of them have the answer prominently displayed somewhere close, but a few of them only show you which symbols you need, but not the order. Have fun trying out all the combinations!