I will grab Fate by the throat, it shall never drag me down.
— Ludwig Van Beethoven
Nehrim: At Fate’s Edge is a total conversion mod for Oblivion. The colossal four-year project by SureAI (Also creators of two more Total Conversions, Arktwend and Myar Aranath, which are prequels) was a remarkable undertaking. The standard Oblivion mechanics were revamped playing more like a combination of Morrowind and Gothic than its base game (Stat Grinding is possible, but skills are mainly raised through experience points that are spent at trainers ala Gothic. There is no level scaling or respawning dungeons.) and an entirely new world was created, complete with lore and quest lines. The mod features a hand-crafted "continent-sized" map and a core storyline that could last over forty hours. The voice-acting is in German, but there are English subtitles and all the quest text has been translated into English. Additionally, the mod boasts impressive hand-designed dungeons and loot in place of Oblivion's randomly generated dungeons note while the same in every game, Oblivion's dungeons were initially created by Bethesda via random generator and spread sheet generated loot.The Mod takes place on the war-torn continent of Nehrim, where the Chancellor of Middlerealm, Barateon, has outlawed all magic as well as declared war on the Northrealm. The Player is a member of a small monastery, who, one night, receives a mysterious letter on his doorstep. The letter leads him/her to an abandoned mine, which is unfortunately infested with trolls. He is eventually rescued by the mage, Merzul, who drafts in the PC into the local resistance. And thus begins your grand quest, though not all is as it seems...As of this writing, it has since won the Best Singleplayer Mod award for 2010. In addition, an additional patch is underway, which shall continue the main story.
Nehrim provides examples of:
Afterlife Express: A literal example: the Star People run a quite physical underground train that normally brings the souls of dead people to the underworld. When the player character shows up at the station, however, they reschedule in order to take you to their king as soon as possible. From the evidence aboard, it also appears to be the residence of someone else...
All Rumors Are True: At least one of the Aeterna dungeons contains evidence that at least these Aeterna DO eat humans like is suggested by every non-important NPC.
Narathzul Arantheal have been locked several centuries beneath a tower, until you free him during the main quest.
The souls of all the wielders and victims of the Soul Flayer end trapped in the sword. Narathzul, Zelera, and you can walk freely in what seems to be Arcadia, but Narathzul's enemies are locked in a stone dungeon built in a creepy forest. You even see Erodan, a Light-Born vanquished by Narathzul way before the events of the game.
Anguished Declaration of Love: Kim to the player character, two times. The first time, they are both trapped in the black after the collpasing of a ceiling, and Kim begins to declare her/his love to the player character... then stops after finding a lever which frees them. Much later, in the end of the main quest, when being killed by Sarantha, Kim's last words to the player character are "I love you".
Anyone Can Die: Among the major characters of your side, at the end of the main quest the only still alive are you, Arkt, Taranor, and the Star People king. Kim, Merzhul, Callisto, Narathzul, etc all died during the course of the game.
Ban on Magic: If you value keeping your head on your shoulders, for the love of god don't cast spells in Middlerealm towns, at least not until a later part of the main quest.
Teleport magic is allower around Erothin, though.
The Berserker: A player character who chose the Warrior birthsign has the ability to cast (once a day) a spell named "Rage", which greatly increases strenght and agility while reducing intelligence, resistance to magic damages, and resistance to normal weapons.
Body Horror: One of the undead monsters is the diseased skeleton, which somewhat looks like a TES troll stripped to the bone. It isn't specific if the creature is an undead humanoid creature or a undead deformed mutant, but the actual name of the creature could imply the latter.
Bonus Dungeon: Full of those. Among them, Zerobilon, a dungeon in a tower full of traps and undead enemies. Entering it requires a special key discovered after completing a sidequest.
Bounty Hunter: The player character can be one, thanks to a long series of bounty-hunting sidequests.
Brainwashing for the Greater Good: One mission of the main quest requires to do this to a Erothin guard. The target received one of the anonymous letters of the prologue, but didn't go to the meeting in the mine. The quest requires to alter his memory with a spell in order to erase the memory of the letter, then enter in his house and steal the letter.
But Thou Must: You aren't allowed to refuse the offer to join the Order that Merzul gives near the end of the prologue. Notable in that Merzul actually lampshades this.
German medieval rock band Schandmaul regularly plays in Erothin theatre.
There are multiple Wanted poster about a rebel named "Max Beautyblood", whose corpse can be spotted in Forest of Salathin. He is one of mod's creator.
Chekhov's Gun: When going through the Star People territory while going to Cahbaet, you see them building a huge ship named "Fat Erwin". They board it much later to reach their homeworld in the stars, taking you onboard to drop you right in front of Inodan, the Light-Born palace.
Chekhov's Gunman: Remember this eerie armoured woman you met in the Shadow World and who gave you a lecture about balance and fate, somewhere in the first third of main quest's chapter 1? She's a personnification of fate and the final boss of the main quest.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Frequently used by Kreo and his men on their slaves, to make sure they obey orders. Newly hired slaves suffer a specific torture session nicknamed "Baptism", designed to break their will by inflicting them incredible pain which doesn't cripple them permanently. The player character nearly suffers it when enslaved by Kreo to free Kim, through he/she is saved just before the Baptism actially begins.
Continuity Nod: You visit the setting of the prequel, Arktwend, at one point. Though only a few parts of it are involved in the Main Quest, much of it is explorable, and populated with familiar landmarks.
Convection Schmonvection: Lava only hurts (very high but not immediately fatally) only if you step directly in it. If you have enough hit points, you'll even be able to swim (usually no more than a couple of seconds) in it.
Cosmetic Award: Some actions (assaulting someone, killing enough enemies, achieving som specific quests, playing the mod for 20 hours, etc) grant achievements, displayed in the "faction" page of the player character's infos.
Suberted with the Light-Born. You fight and kill four or five of them (depending on how turns your encounter with Tyr), but they aren't true physical gods, merelly very powerful mages who aren't affected by time.
Subverted too with the Eliath and Sarantha. The former is an indestructible entity serving fate with reality warping powers, the latter is a personification of fate (and is the final boss). Getting rid of the Eliath requires a complicated plan involving being killed by the entity after striking it with the Soul Flayer. Sarantha is killed in a classical boss battle in an arena. The subversion of the trope is that, at this point of the game, you're no longer a mere mortal but a Shadow God.
Disc One Nuke: The Brutal Battle Hammer, introduced in patch 1.5. Due to a glaring oversight, this crafted hammer has a speed of 2.4 (compared to the 2nd fastest weapon in the game which has 1.4 speed). Add to that it boasts pretty decent damage, comes with a respectable fire enchantment, and if you have the minimum crafting skill required (75) it's laughably easy to make, requiring only 1 gold bar and 1 silver bar, which you can get fairly early on in the game.
Doomed Hometown: In your backstory, at least. The player character's hometown suffered such a fate when he/she was just a child (it is revived through a flashback during a sidequest about the player character's past).
Door To Before: All over the place, pretty much every dungeon has one.
Dual Wielding: There are a few "blocking sword" (and axes) items you can use, but they are just fancy looking shields.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: You can break the Siege of Cahbaet, liberate the Middle and South realms from tyranny, and ascend to godhood, and people will still give you flak for looking like an Aeterna.
Eldritch Location: The Shadow World is place which contains the ruins of worlds destroyed by imbalance. It looks like grey barren rocks floating in a green-grey eerie sky, surrounded by thousands of ruins and rumbles orbiting around them. And it is inhabited by some sort of ghosts.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Middlerealm and the Northrealm are both standard medieval European settings, the former having a light Holy Roman Empire flavour and the latter being obviously of Norse inspiration. The Southrealm is a fantasy variant of medieval Middle-East.
Fighter, Mage, Thief: The aren't actual character classes in the mod, but an event during the main quest allows to chose a birthsign (an astrological sign), which grants special spells. Those signs are named Paladin, Warrior, Mage, and Villain, their new spells respectively refers to the Paladin, Fighter (with some Barbarian flavour), Mage, and Thief archetype. The choice is totally free, nothing prevents a player with a mêlée fighting playstyle to choose the Mage birthsign, for example.
Flesh Golem: The Zerobilon minions, which are zombie-like humanoid creatures which bodies shows marks, telling that they actually are made from several corpses sewed together.
Game Mod: In an odd case of "mod for mod", Oblivion Crash Prevention System functions for Nehrim and a version of Deadly Reflex can be found for the mod.
In one of the side quests, you liberate a mine from a bandit gang only to learn That it has already been magically contaminated by an otherwordly artifact. After dealing with the dungeon's boss, you are then sent to chase the messenger carrying said artifact. If you catch and kill him, the final quest entry suggests that using the Artifact (a large axe) carrys the danger of altering the world around it just like the mine. This is not so, as for all intents and purposes it's just a unique enchanted axe, and using it carrys no consequences whatsoever. If you fail to catch the messenger, you fail the quest, but likewise nothing else happens.
Bringing the artifact back to the mine like the quest suggests is similarly pointless. Nothing happens if you choose to take it back to the mine. Like with Tyr, it's simply a moral choice.
Ghost Town: Ledur (player character hometown, destroyed as part of his/her backstory), Mortram.
Ghost City: Stormwend and Treomar, the capitals of former realms.
Gotta Catch Them All: There are several kinds of items scattered in the setting, usually with actual effects:
Magic Symbols: Each of them grants some XP when picked up (the XP amount depends on the number of Magic Symbols already found at this point).
Fire Sparks: Rare plants which permantly raise the luck attribute by +1 when consumed.
Ice Claw: Rare plants which permantly raise your encumberance by +1 when consumed.
Potion of Encumbrance: Rare potions which permantly raise your encumberance by +10 when consumed.
Books: The "Knowledge is superior to the sword" sidequest requires to read one hundred different books (any book), to get some XP and a permanent intelligence raise.
Almanac of Conjuration: In "The Books of Conjuration" sidequest, they are 22 books scattered in dungeons, each of them raises by +5 the conjuration skill when read.
There is an achievement gained when you complete an armour set.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Literal example in one of the bounty hunting sidequests. Your bounty is a "dwarf" thief, who is eventually found dead among the debris of a bomb he was trying to build.
Hollow World: The underground levels you must cross to reach the Star People capital feature very, very large areas with very high ceiling.
Horny Vikings: The berserker armour set includes a helmet with a large pair of horns pointed upward. The mere "berserker" name to the armour set is a reference toward the archetype of the pillaging Viking.
Idiot Ball: In "Path of the Gifted", the player character's plan to recruit Kim for the Order is this. Kim is a slave and his/her master Kreo refuses to sell him/her, as the current war made possessing slaves a luxury. What is the plan? Proposing yourself to replace Kim in slavery under Kreo's rule, then escape with the help of Kim sneaking in the keep in which Kreo's new slave are prepared to serve. The plan eventually worked, but had a number of obvious flaws (which could have been avoided if you just murdered Kreo, which is impossible):
Kreo is obviously a jerkass and a sadist, there was nothing which proved that he would keep his world and actually free Kim when the player character asked to replace him/her.
Kim had to sneak undetected in the keep occupied by Kreo's men to free the player character. And Kim just could have fled while leaving the player character suffering his/her fate.
And, of course, the duo could have not been able able to flee the place.
Indestructible Edible: You'll find perfectly fresh fruits and vegetables sealed in coffins inside old mausoleums, that can be consumed without ill effects.
Item sets can be completed very early, compared to the very late arrival of the Shadowgod armor and are all quite useful.
The Magic Winds set however is more powerful than the mage version of the end-game armor, due to the final armor only giving a small mana and resistance boost compared to the crazy boost of mana regen of the Magic Winds (which weighs half as much).
The Schneller Stahl/"Wind Steel" two-handed blade won in the Tower Defense minigame. Not as damaging as the Soul Flayer, but incredibly fast, especially for a claymore. Used to be one of the fastest weapons in the game sans daggers, until an oversight concerning crafting stole that honor from it.
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Not only the transparent walls are quite prevalent, the authors were quite fond of using "Ledge of Instant Death", sometimes becoming a "Gentle Slope of Instant Death" of "Flat Path of Instant Death". (after the initial cave, as the only path transfers from ledge to ravine, you can turn right crossing through some knee-high bushes (without even jumping), walk towards the waterfall and die for no visible reason at all.)
Interface Spoiler: Each time the games autosaves, expect you're either heading to a deadtrap (inside a dungeon), a scripted tough hostile encounter, or a boss fight. At least, when navigating in a mase, it shows your heading in the right direction.
Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: The Arch-Seraph Aspheron, servant of the Light-Born and keeper of Treomar ruins. When met in Treomar's library, he states that he is here to prevent others to read access the heretical knowledge contained in the area. As this encounter happens during the main quest when you have to retrieve something from the area, he eventually becomes a miniboss.
The Lost Woods: The Dark Forest. Dark even during day, creepy trees, fog, ruins, kobolds, and undeads. And a neutral wandering ghost horseman.
Luke, I Am Your Father: The Light-Born Irlanda is Narathzul mother and reveals it to him when he attacks the Light-Born in Stormwend with the player character, in the hope that this reveal would stop him. Narathzul didn't believe it until later in the main quest.
Mirror Match: Sarantha summons a double of yourself that you must kill just before her boss fight.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A sidequest first appears as a kind of innocent treasure hunt with clues and riddles lying in Middlerealm. Instead of finding a treasure, you're eventually lured to trigger a doom mechanism which releases a magical gas reanimating nearby corpses as undead creatures. The following steps of the quest requires to sabotage the mechanism (to limit the amount of released gas), then kill the new undead now roaming in Salathin forest.
You lose all your gear when you're made a slave by Kreo and taken in a keep east of his town; you must resupply you with armours/weapons looted of dead enemies or stored in the keep. Your normal gear is stored in a chest near the exit of the place.
Happens again when you're captured by Barateon in the end of chapter 1, although this time you manage to find back your gear before having to fight your way through the Erothin guards.
In Gabor's basement, failing to move the powder barrels quickly enough from the fire eventually triggers a huge explosion which kills both you and Gabor, who is critical in the plot.
During the search for the Soul Flayer, at one point Narathzul ends trapped in a corridor while some poisonous gas is released there. Within two minutes, failing to find a switch which opens the corridor triggers a Game Over.
Stormwend is a silent ruined Ghost City devoided of any animal life (hostile or neutral). You eventually must enter a tower, itself deserted, and not well-lit. The only encounter in said tower are two NPCs and there are no fight at all.
The maze in Daromith Mine. Dark, long, labyrinthic... and it only harbours two enemies (including a boss).
Notice This: Some quest related objects (levers, switchs, scrolls, braziers, etc) glow in a golden light.
Posthumous Character: Zelara, wife of Narathzul. His guilt for her death drives many of his actions.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Spoofed, the drunken "pirate" captain in one quest you hire/rescue for passage in one quest (who even wears a Jolly Roger eye patch) admits during his drunken ramblings he is just a scavenger/looter, not a pirate.
In "Path of the Gifted" Kreo and his guards are marked essential, so even if you can easily take all 3 of them down in combat, you must undergo the rest of the quest to free the slave. Such uses break the theme of a lack of predestination.
In "Into the Forsaken Country", part of the main quest, you must convince a band of looters to bring you by sea to the isle of Arktwend. When talking to the 1st mate of their ship, he tells you that they won't go anywhere now, because Captain Bligh, their leader (and captain of the ship) is (as usual) missing. He also adds that he'll automatically becomes the captain if Bligh isn't found in the next three days. Actually, the only way to advance in the quest is to find Bligh, as just waiting for three days and coming back to the 1st mate won't do anything.
Rat Stomp: "Work in the Mine", the first main quest of the first chapter, is related to a rat invasion in a mine. It actually doesn't requires to slay rats but to block their holes with big stones lying in the surrounding. Also, there are encounters with hostile rats when you leave the Shadow Song Mine in the prologue, though they aren't the first type of enemies you meet.
Robbing the Dead: You can explore temples and mausoleum in order to loot things from sarcophagus or coffins scattered in the place. If you carry a shovel, you're also able to dig in the dirt of cemetaries in hope of finding offerings or precious objects buried in the graves.
Upon exiting the mine for the first time, you are given a vista of the area.
Schrödinger's Gun: Kim's gender isn't fixed but is the opposing gender of the player character's own gender.
Screw Destiny: Literally achieved during the ending; Fate is actually a goddess who toys with peoples lives For the Evulz. But she gets killed by the player and Arkt during the climax. After Fate is defeated, people are now free to decide what they want themselves, instead of having everything predestined.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Kim flees the Order after having eventually understood that its goal is nothing less than killing (the high mages posing as) the gods. He/she goes back for the last quest, but is then killed.
Scripted Event: Relies heavily on these. Some are quite visually impressive.
One of the bounty hunting quests requires to kill a creature based on the Butcher.
There also a ruined town named Mortram (reference to Tristram), in which lies a unique skeleton named "Tyrael".
The Bone flayers are a kind of enemies made of midget skeletons, like the infamous Diablo II Bone fetishesnote ironically, the Bone fetishes are Demonic Spiders but the Bone flayers are Goddamned Bats. In a nod to the (not-undead) Fetish shamans, Nehrim has also a miniboss named Leon, which wield a magic staff and looks like a Bone flayer standing on the shoulders of another one.
A sidequest is triggered when you read a poster on a Stonefield Castle's wall, bearing the signature of a herald named Michael Kohlhaas.
A room in the Crypt of Daromith is an obvious reference to Moria in Peter Jackson's movie (the place itself is abandoned, its former denzens being this setting's version of dwarves). It's a ruined room with (inanimate) skeletons and weapons, in the center of which lies a stone coffin. Near the coffin is a skeleton holding a book, and a well. To leave the room (which doors automatically closes when you entered), you have to make noise (not by throwing something in the well, but by blowing a horn lying on the coffin). Then, a horde of enemies (lead by a giant one) begin to bash the wooden door until it is broken open. The difference is that the enemies aren't gobelins and a troll (two kind of enemies fairly common in the game), but zombies.
The Siege: Cahbaet is besieged by Middlerealm troops, and they also besiege the Mountain monastery after a specific point in the plot. You eventually lift yourself both sieges.
Discovering where Narathzul is being imprisoned requires to sneak inside Erothin palace to steal a piece of information hidden in Barateon's bedroom; the mission happens by night with the help of a diversion which moves the guards from the palace's entrance. Being spotted (while entering or leaving) triggers an abrupt Non Standard Game Over.
Same thing with sneaking inside Ostian castle in order to make a drug to incapacitate the guards, as a step to trigger a revolution in Southrealm.
During the main quest, you can help Taranor, Callisto and a few Northrealm soldiers recapturing Darlan castle from Middlerealm troops, if you choose so.
You then take part in an attack on Erothin.
Stuff Blowing Up: In a late part of the main quest, the plot requires to trigger a revolution in Southrealm. One of the steps is to find the explosive expert Gabor, who see explosions as works of art. The goal being to blow the statue of the Creator (the Light-Born Tyr), which destruction is the sparkle to a revolution.
Take Your Time: Occasionally adverted. One side quest has you need to get back an (allegedArtifact of Doom from a mercenary/bandit group that's taken it from it's place of (accidental) creation. The man who took the artifact actually walks through the game to his goal normally, causing a gameover if he reaches it, but if you meet him at one of the few points he passes by guards, they'll help you fight him.
Teleport Interdiction: After the fall of Arcane Sanctum, it becomes impossible to teleport to Erothin, Giliad, and Salen. Trying to triggers a sidequest in which you must reach the concerned teleport stones by foot and manually remove a device whick blocked them.
Thriving Ghost Town: The capital city Erothin is very large but inside it you won't meet more than a couple of NPCs in the same areas. There are guards, merchants, and bystanders, but only a few, and usually far from each others.
Title Drop: Nehrim is the name of the main continent on which the adventure occurs. "At Fate's Edge" is the name of the final quest of the main quest.
Tower Defense: There are two sidequests consisting in a tower defence minigame.
When Arkt tells the player character that there are probabilities that Narathzul won't be able to become a Shadow God, and could turn against you if you prove to be able to become one yourself, you probably expect that Narathzul turns to be a boss later in the game. Actually, Narathzul dies killed by Arkt during a cutscene.
You'll never fight Irlanda, who killed herself before the player character reaches her in Inodan.
After deafeating the Light-Born and becoming a Shadow God yourself, Arkt tells you that now a herald of fate will come and defeat you to maintain the balance, and beating the herald of fate only delays the inevitable (defeating fate itself being the only way to break the cycle). Arkt tells it in a way implying that a bossfight against such an entity is imminent... You actually never meet such a being.
Bounty hunting sidequests are triggered by using a board supposed to be this, though ingame it doesn't display the name or the face of your bounty.
There are also multiple straight examples with face and name shown. Among them are posters about a Max Beautyblood (sometimes altered with text added in red), whose corpse can be found in a forest, himself holding one of those posters for some reason.
Zerg Rush: The undead in the ruins of the Star People.
Zombie Gait: Weird subversion. Oblivion zombies retained the same animation as in the original game, but their walking speed has been greatly increased, which means that Nehrim zombies run while their animation shows a typical zombie gait.