Video Game / The Elder Scrolls Online

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The Elder Scrolls Online is an MMORPG developed by Zenimax Online Studios. Taking place in the Second Era roughly 1,000 years before the events of Skyrim, you play as a hero attempting to stop the Daedric Prince Molag Bal from taking over Tamriel and recovering your soul that was taken by him. Things are also complicated by the fact that the Imperial throne has sided with the evil Prince, and now Tamriel is in an all-out war between Cyrodiil and three alliances vying for control of it.

It was released on April 4th, 2014 for Mac and PC (with a 3-to-5-day early start for preorders), with the PS4 and Xbox One versions set for a June 9, 2015 release date. On March 17, 2015, the payment model changed to only require the initial purchase, with an optional premium account system offered as well.

Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Precursors: The Ayleid, or Wild Elves, were this to Tamriel, enslaving most of the other races and generally treating them like animals. The Dwemer were this as well but not to such an extent.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The description of the random "Swan-Satin Bathing Thong" item you can get as random loot when stealing things. "Sleek and sensuous singing-swan style satin string sporting silver sequins, from Snip & Stitch, Skywatch."
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: "The Sleepy Eaglet" in Skywatch, and "The Screaming Mermaid" in Port Hunding.
  • The Alliance: All three major playable warring factions.
  • Almost Dead Guy: After the quest "The Final Assault", one of the final quests in the main questline, King Lalorian Dynar is dying, but he lives long enough to thank you for your help and say how proud he is that his final day was spent protecting Nirn, and he gives you his sword.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Treasure chests and Thieves Troves are often found hidden in out-of-the-way locations.
  • An Adventurer is You: Many of the classes can take on the different roles, but...
    • The most common class for Healer is Templar, since one of the Templar skill lines is devoted to healing.
    • Similarly, many tanks are Dragon Knights, who have good durability and AoE options.
    • Nightblades tend to be your stealth specialists, with a lot of moves devoted to stealth
    • Finally, Sorcerers have lots of ranged, magicka-based abliities.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A few costumes are obtained by reaching a certain character level. The most difficult costume to obtain - and therefore easily the most exclusive - is the Emperor's Regalia, which is unlocked if you become Emperor.
  • Angrish: High Kinlady Estre does this when you first speak to her in Coldharbour if you previously thwarted her attempt to depose Queen Ayrenn:
    High Kinlady Estre: I'm here because of you, you vile, sniveling, sorry excuse for a... argh!
  • Animal Motifs: Each Alliance is represented by an animal on their banners and sometimes armor: an eagle for the Aldmeri Dominion, a dragon for the Ebonheart Pact, and a lion for the Daggerfall Covenant.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Occasionally the Daedric Princes take on animal-like forms when they appear to you; for instance an Aspect of Hircine appears to be a ghostly deer.
  • Another Side, Another Story: You can go through one of the other two faction's main quests with the same character. Previously available only after completing the main quest, this was justified with some Daedric magic, and the question "what would have happened had you washed up on a different beach?"
  • Anti-Human Alliance: The Aldmeri Dominion is explicitly against a human-dominated Tamriel.
  • Arrows on Fire: Enemies will spill oil on the ground and yell "Light it up!", and then enemy archers shoot flaming arrows into it to set it ablaze.
  • Artifact Title: Averted for the third game in a row. Multiple Elder Scrolls can be found within temples in Cyrodiil which can grant blessings for all the players in a particular alliance that control them during PvP.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: If an Alliance captures all six forts around the Imperial City, the highest-scoring player from that faction becomes the Emperor.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Upon becoming Emperor, a player receives several passive skills that make them even better in PvP combat.
  • Autosave: Being an MMO, everything that you do is automatically saved, making a life of crime a bit riskier in comparison to other Elder Scrolls games.
  • Backstab: There are several skills or item sets that deal more damage if used behind the target. Also, hitting a heavy attack while sneaking will briefly stun the target: as being discovered negates this bonus, melee attackers have to hit from behind, although it's technically possible for a bow user to achieve this even if the enemy is facing them, due to their range.
  • Badass Army: Every faction has one. Even Molag Bal and his army of Dremora qualify, completely unflinching in their every action.
  • Badass Beard: You can give your character one. Sai Sahan, one of the prominent characters of the main quest, also has one.
    Sai Sahan: "There is an old Redguard proverb: A man is only as great as the beard that wears him. A full and healthy beard carries with it a sense of great honor and wisdom. Also crumbs."
  • Bag of Holding: You can hold far more items than a person would logically be able to.
  • Bat out of Hell: Giant bats are relatively common creatures. There are even werebats on one island in Valenwood (though they only appear in bat form).
  • Battle Couple: The Rings of Mara allow you and another player to become this, and any married couple in a party with one another gain a small EXP bonus for both characters.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Plays a role in several sidequests, concerning people who made the mistake of trying to bargain with a Daedric Prince.
  • Big Bad: The Daedric Prince of Domination himself, Molag Bal.
  • Big Fancy House: You can visit (and break into) several manors in the game, such as the one in Skywatch. The Homestead update also allows players to own manors.
  • Big Good:
    • Meridia often plays this, but is still as ruthless as any other Daedric Prince.
    • The Prophet/Varen Aquilarios
  • Bishōnen: Male elves, especially Altmer, can be this.
  • Bi the Way:
    • Jakarn, the Breton thief you recruit for Kaleen, who refers to the player character as "Good Looking" regardless of gender. He also is a notorious womanizer and has convinced people of both genders that he's in love with them.
    • The player characters can be become this, as the Rings of Mara are not tied to character genders.
  • Blind Seer: The Prophet has gone blind after reading Elder Scrolls, but he is still quite perceptive and has some power.
  • Border Patrol: Try swimming too far away from a shoreline, and prepare to be eaten alive by a school of slaughterfish. Cyrodiil's Imperial City also has a moat around it inexplicably filled with them, so falling in there will make you fish bait in a few seconds regardless of the water's depth.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Very well possible for any class - the class does not limit what sort of weapons can be used.
  • Breakable Weapons: And armors too. Every equipable item (sans jewelry and disguises) has a set amount of endurance and will break after sufficient use, rendering its bonuses unavailable (and potentially negating Set Bonuses) until repaired. The thing that hits the hardest on equipment endurance is death: regular fighting will eat through your items much slower. Thankfully, every NPC that can sell items can also repair equipment.
    • It used to be that equipment would also slowly lose its capabilities as it degraded (armor offered less physical resistance, weapons would hit for less), but that was mercifully patched out.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Sheogorath is fond of this, as he will casually detail the plots of other The Elder Scrolls titles, and all but telling you that a choice in a quest will give you "2 Skill Points."
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The ESO Plus optional subscription is often accused of being this, as it gives you bonuses to experience gain, gold accrual and access to DLC, which in turn grants access to quests and dungeons that offer equipment unavailable to regular players. The xp/gold gain is small enough to be a nice bonus but not a significant advantage, however, and anyone can buy the DLC outright, as with most games.
  • Brick Joke: The Alliance Trailer begins with a Nord fighting undead Werewolves in a cave. At the end of the trailer, one of those werewolves bursts out of the ground in an attempt to flee, only to be quickly dragged back under by the Nord, who climbs out himself a second later.
  • Call Back: Quite a lot.
    • Sheogorath, naturally, references all the previous games during his questline including name-checking the Staff of Chaos and Numidium. Which is odd considering that those events won't be taking place for another 800 or so years. Archmage Shalidor is also a questgiver in this plotline.
    • A naked Nord sends the player on a quest to find the witch that robbed him.
    • There are some references to Arena lore; Arena was originally conceived as a game where you go around fighting gladiator teams, and each town had a named team. Some of the random factions you come across in ESO are named after one of those teams, and the team names in the Morrowind expansion's battlegrounds also come from there.
  • Cartography Sidequest: The Player Character's map already includes the entirety of Tamriel's geography (or at least the game's avaliable zones), so achievements are given for discovering the points of interest in a zone, completing caves, completing a certain number of quests in each zone, and finding a particular character in each zone, not by discovering terrain.
  • Charged Attack: You can charge an attack by holding down the button longer; this is called a heavy attack and makes the attack more powerful and restores either stamina or magicka.
  • The Chosen One: The player isn't the only one fighting Molag Bal's Daedra and Dark Anchors, but from each player's view they're the only one who has escaped from Coldharbour and returned to Tamriel after having their soul stolen, and is working with the Five Companions.
  • City Guards: Prior to Update 6, guards were just in cities to help make cities appear more populated. Update 6 adds unkillable guards, specifically named "(City Name) Guard" or "(Alliance) Guard". When you've got a bounty the guards will come after you when they see you, either to collect the bounty or to attack you depending on your heat (which varies based on how recently you've committed a crime and how big your bounty is.)
  • Close Enough Timeline: One quest in the Daggerfall Covenant has you going back in time in order to find out how to defeat a werewolf. If you decide to alter history by finding the lover of the guy you took over, once you get back to your proper time, the mage that made it possible is now a female and there is now a living descendant of the the man you possessed and the ghost woman but otherwise everything stays the same.
  • Combat Medic: Being a Templar and/or specializing in the Restoration Staff weapon type allows you to become one. A perk in the Support Skill line, only available through the Alliance War in Cyrodiil, increases the power of your healing when you're near a Keep, fittingly named "Combat Medic".
  • Combination Attack: "Synergy". Some attacks will give another nearby player a prompt that they can activate the Synergy, which is a bonus attack done at the same time at no extra cost.
  • Commonplace Rare: Clothes. And, no, we don't mean light armor, we mean the clothes you see worn by most of the townsfolk. You can only obtain articles of common clothing by stealing them from containers and then paying fences to (snirk) launder them.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • Most melee moves by enemies will hit you, no matter how much you try to dodge it - you can be ten feet away and a tiger swiping its claws will still make contact somehow.
    • If an enemy chases a player too far away, they'll start running back to their starting position. While they're doing this, they can't be hit by any attack, even ranged ones. This essentially means Hit-and-Run Tactics such as kiting (normally frequent in MMORPGs) is useless here.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Continuity Snarl: Shalidor mentions reassembling the fragments of the Numidium. However at the time of the game, the Numidium is still intact (and in the safekeeping of the Tribunal).
    • NPCs in Morrowind note that the Tribunal haven't made their annual pilgrimage to Red Mountain, a reference to the events of Morrowind. However the return of Dagoth Ur won't take place for another 300 years. That said, there might be other reasons the Tribunal aren't making the pilgrimage like being busy with the Alliance War.
    • The Lusty Argonian Maid, a recurring joke since its inception in Morrowind makes an appearance in Online. The play's author, Crassius Curio wouldn't even be born for another eight hundred years or so.
  • Cosmetic Award: Completing most achievements will net you a new dye color. If you obtain certain champion ranks, you will unlock a special costume to wear, and you will earn the Emperor's Regalia if you become Emperor. Several dungeons and quests also can give you a vanity pet or a skin.
  • Critical Hit: These can occur, and the likeliness of it happening can be boosted. They have no graphic indicators, however, leaving you to either turn on the damage numbers or to memorize how much of an enemy's HP bar your abilities reduce to know when you crit.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle in the "Arrival" trailer. The three faction leaders that we saw in the "Alliance" trailer take on a platoon of dremora. The Breton ends up possessed and attacking the Imperial City with an army of undead while the other two barely escape with their lives. Pretty much almost the entire time all three of them are very hard-pressed to stay alive, and the only reason they live is because the High Elf woman brings down one of the chains attaching the Dark Anchor to the ground, causing a massive statue to collapse on top of the battle area.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Many dungeons and buildings use the same layouts.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Several skills can augment the damage a target receives. Generally, if a skill reduces an enemy's resistances it will apply the Breach (for Spell Resistance) or Fracture (for Physical Resistance) effects. Other skills are more specific, like Focused Aim, which increases damage received through bow attacks only.
  • Damager, Healer, Tank: While the usual MMO trinity of roles is present in the game, it offers a bit of malleability as the classes are not bound to a specific role and, due to how the combat system works, a party is much more effective if every member can deal damage, cycle through utility buffs and sustain themselves in some way.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: For those used to Skyrim, anyways - in Skyrim, power attacks break through block. In ESO, power-attacking a blocking enemy will get you stunned.
    • Landing a power attack restores your Stamina; in previous games, using a power attack depleted Stamina.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Justified Trope in that due to being offered to Molag Bal as slaves and having their souls stolen, all of the PC's get resurrected infinite times. This is even written into the game lore: you can find a book detailing the concept of a "paragon" soul, a special kind of soul that allows Soul Shriven to not deteriorate and instantly revive. The only penalty is armor damage.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Fire atronachs explode upon death.
  • Defector from Decadence: Imperials as a race, who can join any Alliance. They are described as 'outcasts' from Cyrodiil, who have turned against the Daedra-worshipping majority of their race and would conceivably aid any alliance in order to 'free' their brethren from Molag Bal's influence.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Taken Up to Eleven, since this takes place in nearly every province in Tamriel.
    • The Great Houses of Morrowind casually engage in the slavery of Argonians and Khajit, with some of them abandoning the practice (publically) as a requirement of the Ebonhart Pact.
    • The Orsimer chiefs practice polygyny, which the protagonists will constantly question (speaking with one of the wives, for example, will often imply that they're unhappy but lying to themselves). The Double Standard is also addressed from time to time, with some Orcs justifying why polygamy applies to men but not to women.
    • Several races, such as the Nords, Bretons, and Orsimer, will mock the fact that some monarchs/leaders are women. In particular, Jorunn the Skald-King continuously mocks Queen Ayrenn. It's also considered a scandal that a great warrior hero of Orsimer may have been a woman.
      • Jorunn's example is odd as he himself inherited the throne of Windhelm after the death of his elder sister Nurnhilde, who by all accounts was well-loved by their people.
    • The Bosmer typically uphold the Green Pact, which maintains that plant life is sacred while animal/humanoid lives are expendable. Not following the Pact is considered the highest sacrilege, aside from one faction of Bosmer Combat Pragmatists who don't uphold the Pact due to wartime rules. The tenets of the Pact also impact Bosmer diet, making them strict carnivores and at times even cannibals.
    • The Khajit and Bosmer both have a positive outlook on theft, with there even being a common law about it called the Right of Theft. This law dictates that if a theft were clever or skillful enough, the thief may demand some sort of payment or boon from the victim. The victim's debt even applies to a new thief, if they take the item from the original one, as this is a plot point in a questline.
    • The Khajit celebrate casual drug use and usage of Moon Sugar, a narcotic substance which is a key ingredient of skooma (although they look down upon skooma itself as it's MUCH too addicting). Several important rites of passage or ceremonies for ascension into positions of power involve going on Moon Sugar-induced Vision Quests.
    • The Altmer, even at their most tolerant, are proud eugenicists with other elements of fascism. In particular, it's considered betrayal to marry or breed outside of their race, as they consider themselves the last "pure" example of the original Aldmeri. Less extreme Altmer may oppose the slavery, oppression or dehumanization (so to speak) of other races, but they still see them as unevolved, impure or child-like.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Some NPCs will try to kill you if they witness you stealing something or catch you pickpocketing, or see you killing livestock.
  • Distressed Dude: In Coldharbour the player encounters a character named Stibbons, who has been abducted by a winged twilight who is attempting to seduce him. Upon being freed and trying to make his way to the Hollow City, he gets abducted by female daedra again.
    • In Glenumbra, you can run into Odei Philippe for a short world quest - his tailoring supplies are all lost in a wolf (and werewolf) infested pass. Upon getting them, You meet his wife, a Lion Guard, on the other side, to whom you turn them in and complete the quest. She treats him like a baby, implying that he sleepwalked, but with the implication he was trying to escape. Poor guy.
  • Door to Before: Most dungeons have a door near the entrance that can only be accessed from the other side of it, once you complete the dungeon.
  • The Dragon: Mannimarco serves Molag Bal, although he's also The Starscream, wanting to obtain power greater than the Prince's.
  • Draw Aggro: Puncture and Inner Fire are the only two skills that force an enemy to attack the user, and vital to any tank in dungeons.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Several quests involve you donning a disguise to fool enemies into letting you pass, or at least making them less likely to detect you. However, there's usually some archetype (typically Sentries or animals) that is never fooled, and will expose you if they attack.
    • Paper-Thin Disguise: Your chosen race won't affect how effective your disguise is, even if the disguise doesn't have any sort of head covering, or you're not the race you would be pretending to be.
  • Dual Wielding: One-handed weapon types can be dual-wielded; there's even a skill line for dual-wielding.
  • Eldritch Location: Coldharbour.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Shortly before the final battle Abnur Tharn sacrifices one of your companions to power up the Amulet of Kings, and grant you the ultimate power. with this power boost, you can three-shot the titans that try to stop you even with an average build, not to mention one-shotting all the dark seducers who get in your way.
  • Emote Animation: Over two hundred of them. One of the most popular is /lute, which has your character play one of the bard songs on the lute.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The Ebonheart Pact is comprised of the Dunmer and their two most hated enemies, the Nords and Argonians. They are only working together because of the threat posed by their mutual enemies. In-practice however, the members of the faction are capable of cooperating decently enough.
    • This is also the reason the Khajiit joined the Dominion: the Altmer helped them when the Knahaten Flu struck, and explained that they'd need the help of the Khajiit to defend Tamriel from invaders. To quote the lorebook "The Eagle and the Cat": "To fight against mutual enemies - ah, that was a logic we Cat-folk could understand."
    • There is also Eyevea, the Mages' Guild headquarters. You can be a ranking Ebonheart officer having a polite conversation with a top researcher from the Dominion, and that's the norm.
    Dunmer: "The centuries of hatred between my people and... most of Tamriel seems somehow petty in a place like this."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: At one point during the Riften questline, you need to make a ritual sacrifice in order to pass through a sealed door. You have the option to sacrifice a member of the Reachmen, a race of Chaotic Evil Hagraven worshipers. If you do choose him for the sacrifice, you have to trick him into thinking you're leading him out of enemy territory. On the way to the door, he will proceed to tell you about his eight-year old daughters, and how they cried when he went to war. There is horror in his voice when he discovers you're not there to free him.
  • Everything Fades: Dead enemies fade after being looted.
  • Evil Empire: The Akaviri Potentate practices slavery and worships Molag Bal.
  • Expy: The three main factions (Ebonheart, Aldmeri, Daggerfall) are each roughly equivalent in theme to Dark Age of Camelot's Midgard, Hibernia, and Albion (respectively).
  • Extreme Omnivore: The easiest way to learn potion ingredients is to eat them. Some recipes can also fall into this: fans didn't like the idea of Grilled Worms, Maggot Haggis, and Rodent Muffins, so these were removed with the provisioning overhaul in Update 6.
    • Werewolves with the Devour passive seem to fit this as well. They can eat anything from deer and goats, to other wolves, to Daedra and even Dwemer constructs. Basically if you can kill it, you can eat it.
  • Fantastic Racism: The game is riddled with it. The Ebonheart Pact consists of the Dunmer and the two races that were their worst enemies before the Akaviri Invasion. The Veiled Heritance in the Aldmeri Dominion see the Bosmer and Khajiit as lesser races (although they seem to hate every other race just as much and even a classist attitude towards working class Altmer and below). Many human members of the Daggerfall Covenant still struggle to accept that the Orcs are a sentient race. Those are just a few examples. Needless to say, most characters despise races from the other alliances.
  • Faustian Rebellion: The vampire coven that players can join is of the Cyrodiilic Bloodline, descended directly from Lamae Bal, the oldest vampire in existence, the Monster Progenitor of the Cyrodiilic Bloodline, and is believed to be the first Daughter of Coldharbour. She hates Molag Bal for certain reasons, and intends to turn the entire Cyrodiilic Bloodline against him. And she's still alive. At this point, her crusade against Molag has become a full-blown Roaring Rampage of Revenge, with her also hating Arkay, whom she believes abandoned her in her time of need.
  • Faux Affably Evil: While Sheogorath tends to present himself as all fun and games in previous titles (save for Shivering Isles), we see a particularly malicious side of him in TESO. It still doesn't stop him from being utterly hilarious, however.
  • Feathered Fiend: Harpies.
  • Fetch Quest: There are plenty of these.
  • Filk Song:
  • Fishing Minigame: It's possible to fish, and achievements can be unlocked for catching all the rare fish in a particular area. The achievements for catching all the fish in a faction actually earn you a dye color for your armor, and if you get the Master Angler achievement for catching all fish in all zones you can get a boat decoration for your Homestead house.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • The interregnum in the second era was notorious for having so many "Emperors", that history never bothered to record many of their names. And no matter the toss-up between which faction wins the throne, the closing years of the Second Era will see the rise of Tiber Septim and the Third Empire of Men, and the first truly pan-Tamrielic empire.
    • Molag Bal's attempt to fuse Tamriel with Coldharbour is doomed to failure, as ESO takes place before all the previous Elder Scrolls games.
    • Safe to say the Ebonheart Pact falls through after the game ends. Nords and Dumner go right back to hating each other and Dumner resume their Argonian slavery practices, probably razing any free Argonian settlements in the process.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Update 6 gives you the option to murder innocent NPCs, and it adds a menu option to turn that off if you do not wish to do it by accident.
  • Fungus Humongous: Morrowind has plenty of gigantic mushrooms.
  • Game Mod: Fans can make ones that alter the UI or record data (such as one of the most popular add-ons, "Master Merchant", which tracks guild store sales in all the guilds that you're in so that you can get an idea of the going price for an item.)
  • Gendered Outfit: Averted with dresses and suits from the cash shop; men and women can wear them both.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Mudcrab Beach has a larger-than-normal mudcrab as a boss.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The Daggerfall invasion of the start of the Pact storyline forces them to summon Balreth, one of the two Brothers of Strife, who curb-stomps the invading Daggerfall force. After that event comes the matter of putting him back, however...
  • Gravity Barrier: The edge of each region (except for the sea, of course, which has slaughterfish) is bordered by gigantic cliffs that you cannot climb.
  • Harping on About Harpies: Harpies make a reappearance for the first time since Daggerfall.
  • Have You Come to Gloat?: When you meet Mannimarco in Coldharbour, he asks if you have come to gloat at his torment.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: In the Wilderking subquest, the player meets a Veiled Heritance agent named Aranias who was forced to join the Heritance in an attempt to assassinate the Wilderking. To foil the attempt, a Spinner in service to the Wilderking will send you into Aranias's story (basically her memories) to change her recollection so that you were her best friend and with her every step of the way. Several times, the Spinner makes it clear that you are not going back in time and changing the past, merely changing what Aranias believes happened so that she'll trust you in the present.
  • Hellish Horse: The Nightmare Courser, available from the cash shop, has flaming eyes, nostrils, and hooves.
  • High-Dive Hijinks: Wrothgar has an achievement for jumping off a high cliff and surviving.
  • Historical In-Joke: In game, no less. The reason Wuuthrad is shattered? The Worm Cult was using it to empower the ghost of a giant it slaughtered.
  • Hit Points: Played straight. The only thing hit points are for is being the barrier that separates you from an armor repair bill and a mildly inconvenient relocation.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Redguards hold their ancestors in very high respect, including the corpses of ancestors raised as Undead. Most Redguards would rather run away before dishonoring themselves by fighting them. This becomes quite a problem thanks to a group of Necromancers who know that all too well.
  • Horned Humanoid: A few of the "adornment" options in the character select for Bosmer allows your character to have small horns or antlers.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Various unusual mounts can be purchased in the cash shop: guar, bears, senche, wolves, camels, and even a kagouti, elk, and saber-toothed cat. Some are even more unusual, as they might not be a true animal but rather an atronach or spriggan.
  • HUD: As in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it strives to be as minimalistic as possible, showing mosly your three resources, your equipped skills (which even disappear when not in combat), the compass and current objectives. However, the presence of a chat window and the fact that regular play involves constantly checking your skills and inventory menus can potentially break any sort of immersion derived from this.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: While healing is usually reserved for skills and potions (and even those heal instantly and give a small regeneration effect for a few seconds), eating food grants buffs to your maximum health, stamina and/or magicka instantly, and can be done as fast as you want with no repercussion whatsoever. Of course, when you actually have a quest involving a drinking contest, expect your character to puke after three drinks and pass out after five.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: Raynor Vanos does this:
    • On Stirk: "According to my calculations, the chances that the leaders of the three alliances can reach any kind of agreement is seven-hundred-and-fifty-six-thousand to one."
    • In the Chapel in the Hollow City: "The probability that any of us will survive this adventure, based on every calculation I could reference, is exceedingly infinitesimal. Could be worse, I suppose."
  • Implacable Man: The trailers show the dremora as being this. Even in the middle of a pitched battle during the "Siege" trailer, a platoon of them aren't even slowed down by a group of Ebonheart soldiers smashing into the front ranks. Pretty much everything they do, they do at a slow, foreboding walk.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Much like collectible crafting materials found while trekking through Tamriel, there are several spots in every map where treasure chests can spawn. These are usually well-hidden and offer decent loot and a bit of experience for the leveling adventurer, but are mostly unexplained; a few players might be able to find hints in some dropped letters and such that point towards a chest location (therefore implying that somebody actually put those items there), yet the vast majority of chests have no explanation whatsoever.
    • Notable aversions to this trope exist in the form of lockboxes, which spawn in populated areas and contain items to steal, and so can be explained as being the personal cache of one of the NP Cs nearby, and Undaunted chests, which contain random equipment specifically to reward daring members of the guild.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: Leveling up the Provisioner skill line means having to be constantly checking the scenery for vegetables, fruit and meat to use in cooking, as it has no real "gatherer nodes" the other crafting lines have. What this means is that some spiderweb-filled, bug-riddled dungeons are basically Provisioner harvesting grounds, as they have a great number of crates and barrels (not hermetically sealed in the least) that somehow always contain perfectly preserved ingredients to make food and drink.
  • Insanity Immunity: Sir Cadwell is the only Soul Shriven of Coldharbour who isn't a hostile psychopath since he was already mad when he got there. In fact, he quite likes it there.
  • Interspecies Romance: There are several examples of this: at least two Bosmer-Khajiit couples, and a Redguard-Altmer couple, for instance.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: When you ask Faraniel if her clan will kill anyone who "trespasses":
    Faraniel: Does a fuzzy newt-goat have seven toes? Don't look at me like that! It's a perfectly appropriate analogy.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Several characters say something to this effect before The Final Assault; Skordo the Knife says it nearly word-for-word.
  • It's Personal: One of the reasons why Queen Ayrenn wants to take over Cyrodiil is to take revenge on Abnur Tharn, who had caused her great suffering several years ago.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Played with. If you fail a pickpocket once, the guards will come looking for you, and if you happen to have no gold in your inventory, they will KILL YOU for being unable to pay what you are clearly worth in weapons and armor. If you pay the bill, you're in the clear but the guards will confiscate all your stolen goods, even if the total value is in the thousands. If you DO manage to get away, you'll be unable to stroll through towns for about 30 minutes unless you go through illegal channels or forfeit all your pilfered goods. Compared to the toll for murder, which is a mere THREE TIMES as much bounty as pickpocketing, there really is little incentive for players to pick pockets if they're the murdering type.
  • Jerkass: The comments made by the guards in the Daggerfall Covenant tend to be rather scathing, such as "If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." and "If you want to lose ten pounds of ugly fat, I'll be happy to cut off your head."
  • Joke Item: Many of the items that you can steal only serve as two things: Vendor Trash and humor, either in the form of funny descriptions or through Fridge Logic. Why would a random commoner have a jar of centipedes in their pocket?
  • Karma Houdini: Any of the three Disc One Final Boss characters for each alliance; specifically, High Kinlady Estre, Angof the Undying, or Thallik Wormfather; has the chance to become this in Coldharbour. After being sent to Coldharbour for failing Molag Bal, they're forced to compete in a 'game' where they have to use their minions to kill two of the others for a chance to get back into Molag Bal's good graces, and their minions consist of Mage's Guild members you have to rescue. At the end of the quest, you have a chance to either save the Disc One Final Boss, or the Mages... or both, by threatening to kill the Observer over and over again until he gives in to your demands, which would permanently disrupt the game. The one you chose to save undergoes a Heel–Face Turn of sorts, and joins your army against Molag Bal.
  • Kill the God: Magistrix Vox attempts to do this to the Tribunal in the Deshaan questline.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Now possible to be this, after the Justice System was added. Stealing can be quite profitable.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Averted. Even if you kill everyone who witnessed the crime, your bounty doesn't go down like it does in main-series games.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The Wilderking/queen is always a mortal who takes up the mantle of the Wilderking/queen, losing the memories of who they originally were.
    • There is a new Silvenar and Green Lady of the Bosmer once per generation. A portion of the Aldmeri Dominion quests involve helping the new Silvenar and Green Lady rise to power after the death of the current ones.
  • Level-Locked Loot: Each armor or weapon has a level on it that you must be at before using it. Also, some crafting materials require you to achieve a certain level in that craft and spend a skill point to be able to use it.
  • Life Meter: Three bars graphically show your remaining magicka, stamina and health. Worth noting is that the Life Meter also shows some of your buffs and debuffs through simple graphical effects: the meter cracks if your resistances are reduced, its borders become thicker if they are buffed, it becomes smaller if your maximum health is reduced, glows white if your attack is increased and black if it's reduced, etc. It also shows if you have any shields, coloring a portion of the bar pink in relation with the strenght of the barrier.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: The game has a bad case of this, to the point where magicka builds are the way to go if you want to be competitive in trials or fighting in Cyrodiil, simply because magic builds can push out far more damage far faster and over a larger area than those relying on stamina by endgame.
  • Loading Screen: Plenty of these, containing artwork and a brief bit of information that is usually relevant to where you are. They usually appear when moving into different areas and delves, but they might sometimes suddenly cut your gameplay off if the game can't load the assets of the current area fast enough.
  • Lockpicking Minigame: You are shown five pins on springs and must press down on each one until the right moment (when it starts to shake slightly), and then release. If you push it down too far, the lockpick will break; if it is not far enough, then it simply will return to its normal position (although repeated attempts may still break the lockpick). It is also has a time limit based on the difficulty of the chest: the more difficult the lock, the less amount of time is given to open it.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: One of the skill types is One-Hand and Shield. Blocking with a shield (as opposed to your own weapon) can absorb more damage and potentially save your life, especially in PvP situations. It's almost a necessity for tanking too, as its skill line contains one of the two ways to Draw Aggro in the game.
  • Mana: Magicka, an Elder Scrolls staple.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: A debuff mostly NPC enemies can inflict. It's called Minor/Major Mangle, and it's just as easy to dispel as any other debuff.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The three playable warring factions in the game consist of the Aldmeri Dominion (Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajit), the Ebonheart Pact (Dunmer, Nords, and Argonians), and the Daggerfall Covenant (Bretons, Redguards, and Orcs).
    • As shown in various previews, this will be very common in PvP. Of particular note are sieges where the defenders may be attacked by forces from the other two factions but the two groups may also start attacking each other.
    • At a landmark west of Ebonheart, Vivec's Antlers, there are a few sidequests dealing with one based around an invading Covenant force, the defending Pact soldiers, and Dreugh summoned by the artifact the Covenant is attempting to steal. One of the quests has you convincing the Dreugh that the Pact is defending the artifact too, stacking the battle against the Covenant.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The entire game, but the lands and story arcs of the Daggerfall Covenant are like a love letter to the genre.
  • Memetic Badass: Invoked. Captain Fortunata is the 2nd-Era Gold Coast equivalent of Chuck Norris.
  • Merchant Prince: High King Emeric, leader of the Daggerfall Covenant, was originally a merchant lord from High Rock.
  • Microtransactions: The Crown Store. It offers cosmetic items such as pets, and costumes as well as items that can be obtained in-game, such as food/drink/potions, mounts, mount riding skills and crafting books (all of which thankfully don't take huge amounts of Grinding). It also offers the Imperial Edition of the game (adds the ability to be the Imperial race, plus has a few items) and the Adventurer Pack (which adds the ability to play any race in any alliance - something previously only available from preordering the game - and also contains a few items), and DLC.
  • Mood Whiplash: There's a merchant on Auridon called Elodinar, who, when spoken to, says mournfully, "My heart goes out to the many victims of this foul tragedy that has befallen Greenwater Cove..." before concluding with a cheerful, "... So! Do you need to buy anything!"
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Lampshaded with the Seducer Armor set/Disguise. The helmet covers the eyes entirely, but it reveals a lot of the rest.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: There is a Dark Seducer in Coldharbour who does not want a mortal to suffer, feeling that he is too noble to deserve such a fate. Considering that Daedra usually don't even care if another of their kind tries to manipulate mortals, it's quite surprising that one will go out of her own way to help a mortal with nothing to gain.
  • Neck Snap: Some of the dying animations have an NPC's chin directly over their shoulder bone while they fly in the direction you hit them in. When you're using a mace or an axe, it looks like you hit them in the head with so much blunt force, that you've snapped their neck. The fact that they simply flop over dead really helps this effect.
  • Nonindicative Name: The Daggerfall Covenant is led by the King of Wayrest, which is its capital, not Daggerfall. Similarly, the leader of the Ebonheart Pact is the King in Windhelm, and the Pact's capital is Mournhold, not Ebonheart.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • On the Aldmeri Dominion side, Queen Ayrenn and Razum-Dar's backstory seems to be full of these, often in reference to the time they adventured together.
    • Some crafting skill lines have the Hireling passive, which makes you receive letters every day that contain crafting materials. The letters themselves usually recount the hireling's adventures while retrieving your materials, and can sometimes veer into this trope.
    Gavin Gavonne: A word of wisdom from one who learned a thing or two in his travels: no matter how much your drunken companion might encourage it, never, under any circumstances, should you moon a werewolf.
  • No Sell: Sometimes when you attack an enemy - usually a boss - you'll get a message at the top of the screen saying it's too powerful for a certain effect (such as knockback or poison).
  • Nostalgia Level: Many of the playable areas of Tamriel would count since the game is largely an even mix of nostalgia locations and new areas. For instance:
    • Eastmarch and The Rift in general, to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. One particular Ebonheart Pact questline will take players back to Skuldafn where they need to access a portal to Sovngarde.
    • Stros M'Kai is one for The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard.
    • The Morrowind expansion's release date was chosen for its closeness to TES III's 15th anniversary, and it features the island of Vvardenfell, with plenty of references to the original game.
  • Notice This: Having the Keen Eye perk on one of the various crafting skill lines will make crafting resources of that type have a noticeable pillar of light effect coming from them, making it easier to spot and harvest them.
  • Not So Different: Each of the three alliance leaders have very similar backgrounds. All three traveled across Tamriel before becoming rulers (Ayrenn was an adventurer, Emeric was a caravan guard, and Jorunn was a traveling skald) and something unexpected caused their rise of power and the creation of their faction (Ayrenn returned and claimed her birthright after her father's death and brought her two adventurer companions to help, Emeric married Maraya instead of Rayelle and created a trade alliance with Hammerfell and the Orcs, the death of Jorunn's sister and mother during an Akiviri invasion made him next in line as Skyrim's High King and teamed up with the Dunmer and Argonians to drive them away).
  • Otherkin: A Dunmer in Woodhearth. He calls Khajiit his brothers and "true people".
    Vadelen Inodthan: I was cruelly born without a tail, without claws, but I know where I belong. If I can just find the right mixture, I can fix that.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • In the Alliance trailer, one part of it features a trio of Ebonheart warriors fighting a group of zombie werewolves.
  • Ouroboros:
    • The game's logo has the three animals which represent the factions forming this sort of circle (lion for the Daggerfall Covenant, dragon for the Ebonheart Pact and eagle for the Aldmeri Dominion). This probably shouldn't be taken as an indication of the faction's respective advantages over each other.
    • In the Alliance trailer, the Nord, Altmer, and Breton leaders (representing Fighter, Mage, and Thief respectively) circle each other in the shape of the Ouroboros.
  • Pillar of Light: Skyshards have one above them, and the Keen Eye crafting passive makes it so a similar effect appears on gathering nodes, making them harder to miss. The Templar skill Backlash also makes a pillar of light appear on top of the target.
  • Player Versus Player:
    • Players are able to fight one another in battles for keeps and other such fortifications, with a particularly huge arena being the Imperial City itself, with 100 v 100 battles. This isn't surprising, considering the main creative talent were behind Dark Age of Camelot.
    • One of the updates added the ability to challenge another player to a 1-vs-1 duel.
    • The Morrowind expansion introduced battlegrounds, which are 4-vs-4-vs-4 arena matches.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Alchemists can make several kinds of poisons to use for any sort of weapon. These function like a consumable enchant, being used vial by vial with a 20% chance on every attack. Naturally, Fridge Logic comes into play when one considers that even the shots of a magical staff can be imbued with the same poison a regular sword uses.
    • Some weapon and player skills can also involve poison. The Bow line of skills, for example, has three skills that can be morphed into dealing poison damage. One of the wake-up calls one can usually find in Cyrodiil involves the dreadful sound of two Lethal Arrows hitting you out of nowhere, followed by the death scream of your character.
  • Power Incontinence: Aranias, a young Altmer woman who can be found in Valenwood, has a connection with nature. You see some of her past: she has remarkable powers, able to raise land and grow vines right out of the ground, but she also isn't able to control it. She destroys an entire ship on accident by raising a rock out of the ocean.
  • Promoted Fangirl: YouTube singer Malukah, who did popular covers of Skyrim's Bard Songs, was hired to write music for the bard songs in this game, and appears as the female singing voice of some of them. Her original song, Beauty of Dawn, also plays over the credits.
  • Prophet Eyes: The, well, Prophet has them.
  • Rearing Horse: Mounts will perform an animation if you attempt to jump with them while not moving; horses in particular will rear. Also, if you're in combat and take enough hits while on your horse, it will rear, knocking you off.
  • Retcon: In The Elder Scrolls: Arena Cyrodiil was depicted as a tropical rainforest rather than a Medieval European Fantasy-standard grasslands-and-forests region as in Oblivion and Online. Oblivion and out-of-game sources justified it with Tiber Septim using CHIMnote , but Online's calling it the result of Future Imperfect (a "transcription error"), to much derision from lore-minded fans. The game also changes many established elements of the main series both visually and story-wise in order to fit the game's vision. Although, that's nothing new for Elder Scrolls.
  • Reverse Armfold: This is a stock animation that characters will use in dialogue. Most typically, it's some sort of person of nobility or importance. Queen Ayrenn and Meridia are notable examples.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Formerly in the Crown Store, the Bantam Guar pet is described as such.
    According to the calculations of the sages of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth, the bantam guar is the cutest creature in all Tamriel.
  • Rolling Attack: The Hide of Morihaus Set Bonus makes your dodge deal damage if you roll through an enemy.
  • Rule of Three: Three factions, which mirrors Dark Age of Camelot and its Realm vs. Realm combat.
  • Running Gag: The game continues some that have made regular appearances in the ES games:
    • M'aiq the Liar appears once again, and you can bake sweetrolls and Fishy Sticks. And yes, The Lusty Argonian Maid also makes its return.
    • One running gag has escalated from previous games. Once again, the player character starts as a prisoner. However, the prisoner is essentially killed off in the introduction in order to bring them to Molag Bal's realm of Coldharbor.
  • Secret Test of Character: The Trial of the Heart in Hissmir.
  • Self-Deprecation: After you complete a quest to drive off a Covenant attack on Ebonheart, a Nord will jest that they can probably make you the thane of Whiterun, considering that they'll make anybody a thane there.
  • Set Bonus: A constant of the games equipment. Regardless of the current patch, the best equipment in the game always offers additional benefits if all parts of its set are worn together. The fact that some of those offer reduced benefits if fewer pieces are equiped, coupled with the fact that you have 10 equipment slots, means that getting the most out of your items involves mixing several sets together.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Cadwell at one point says, "I love magic! It's so magical!"
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sprint Meter: As a staple of Elder Scrolls games, stamina is used not only to run, but to activate weapon skills, to dodge, to bash to interrupt casting, to absorb damage through blocking and to break free from crowd control effects. Spending points into stamina also makes your stamina-based attacks stronger.
  • The Starscream: Mannimarco serves Molag Bal, but wants to obtain greater power than the Prince's.
  • Status Buff: A big part of the game. Since the game's launch, a good part of the available skills could buff the player in a myriad ways, though most weren't obvious in some technical aspects (such as what could stack with what instead of being overwritten). A few patches later the buff system was revamped, standarizing most of them with adequate names and inserting them in some unpopular skills to make them more useful, which further emphasized their importance in the system. In terms of their overall usefulness, suffice to say that a clueless player will often put several of their preferred role's most obvious skills on the skill bar and then use two or three, wondering why the game's enemies take too long to kill; a good player will have a mixture of skills to deal damage, mitigate and buff, constantly cycling through them and keeping them up to make the most out of their ten slots.
  • Take It to the Bridge: You cannot swim across the Niben River due to slaughterfish killing you; you are forced to cross it at one of three bridges. These create natural chokepoints where many battles occur, particularly at Alessia Bridge.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: It is surprising how often having no soul can be useful in quests.
  • The Reveal: The Prophet turns out to be the previous Emperor who got Tamriel into this whole mess.
  • Three-Stat System: Health, Magicka, and Stamina. All other stats are derived from points you invest into each stat.
    • Health, as noted above, determines how hard you are to kill, but influences your Health Regeneration.
    • Magicka determines not only how many spells you can cast, but how powerful they are. More Magicka also causes your Magicka Regeneration to be stronger.
    • Stamina is a lot like Magicka, in that it determines how many physical abilities you can use, but also their effectiveness. Dodge Rolls, Blocking, Sprinting, and breaking CCs also consume Stamina. Similarly to Health and Magicka, higher Stamina means more Stamina Regeneration.
    • Because the game encourages "pure" builds (all magicka or all stamina, mostly), whichever stat you're specializing in tends to be the Dump Stat
    • Mounts get in on the action too! You can train one skill by one point daily, for 250 gold. You choose between speed, stamina which behaves like a defensive stat as well as increasing your mount's sprint capacity, and carry capacity, which augments your bag space.
  • To Hell and Back: Coldharbor is the starting location and tutorial. Once one character has done it, it can be skipped.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Grand Amnesty Edict, awarded once per character by quest, can remove 100,000 gold of bounty on use. But since it can't be traded, transferred to other characters or stored in any way, many players either have it taking up backpack space forever or find themselves trying to get all the illegal achievements at once before using it.
    • Bind On Equip items can sometimes have this effect if they're rare enough to garner large sums of gold on the guild trader market. Use one just once to test it, and it's yours forever.
  • 20 Bear Asses: Averted for the most part, with most of the quests either being a Fetch Quest, a Plot Coupon delivery quest, or taking down a boss.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Bretons are fond of this. In particular there are a women and a man talking about "seeing his collection of antique riding crops, *wink* *wink*"
  • Vestigial Empire: The Akaviri Potentate is weakened following various wars, leaving Cyrodiil in a state of chaos.
  • War Is Hell: Various raids by enemy forces result in the destruction of farms and villages, the deaths of families, and, if the attackers aren't careful, the releasing of curses and other monstrosities that the Soulless One then has to clean up.
  • Warrior Poet:
    • Jorunn the Skald-King, the High-King of Skyrim and one of the leaders of the Ebonheart Pact.
    • Vivec, one of the Dunmer's living gods, is also said, in-universe, to be this.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Various warring races have had to come together in order to form the three different Alliances. This is best illustrated in a piece of lore on the game's website, with a note found on the body of a Dunmer slaver. Though apparently the enslavement of Argonians has been made illegal by the Ebonheart Pact, Dunmer keep attempting to find their way around the law in order to continue the trade.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The game world is at least a dozen times larger than that of Skyrim's and consists of much (though not all) of Tamriel.
  • White Stallion: The Imperial Horse, which comes with the Imperial Edition of the game. Presumably had the "rarity" part of the trope in mind, but ironically was one of the most commonly owned mounts out there until the cash shop introduced more variety in mounts.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Lamae Bal, the original Daughter of Coldharbour, qualifies. She's still alive, and is leading a Faustian Rebellion against Molag Bal with the intent of turning the Cyrodiilic Bloodline of vampires against him.
  • World of Badass: Just about every person and every creature can fight.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens to an Altmer in Woodhearth. She plays her part in the Veiled Heritance's plans, and after she's done, she's rewarded with a blade to the gut.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: A Type 1 example done by Molag Bal on the player. It also serves to justify being able to come back to life repeatedly.

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