->''"The best techniques are passed down by the survivors."''
--> --'''Gaiden Shinji'''

The first video game in Franchise/TheElderScrolls series, released for DOS in 1994. Originally, it was going to be an ActionGame with {{RPG Elements}}, about gladiatorial combat. However, as development went on, the RPG elements grew more and more, until the arenas themselves were cut out altogether (they are still mentioned in some DummiedOut narration, though.)

The player takes on the role of a member of the Imperial Court of Tamriel. In the opening {{cutscene}} TheEmperor is trapped in another dimension by [[TreacherousAdvisor his most trusted courtier]], the battlemage Jagar Tharn. The evil Tharn then uses magic to disguise himself as the emperor and take his place.

However, he is noticed by both the player character and the lesser sorceress Ria Silmane. Silmane threatens to reveal Tharn's new identity, so Tharn kills her and throws the player into the Imperial dungeons.

However, Silmane appears to the player in his/her dreams, and guides him/her to reassemble the [[CosmicKeystone Staff of Chaos]], a weapon capable of defeating Tharn and rescuing the emperor, but which [[PlotCoupon Tharn has broken into eight pieces and scattered across the Empire]].

Despite the title, [[ArtifactTitle there are no arenas in this game]] (thanks to [[WhatCouldHaveBeen the original concept changing]]). Instead, the player is allowed to wander in a massive continent of randomly generated environments, with many towns full of randomly generated [=NPCs=] that will point you in the direction of randomly generated sidequests, not to mention the main quest, which until ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsOnline'', was the only story taking place in the entirety of Tamriel. If you believe the rumours, the size of the world is supposed to be ''6 million km[[superscript:2]]'' which would make it one of the largest games ever made.

The game has been released as a freeware download by Bethesda as part of their commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the inception of Franchise/TheElderScrolls. Get it [[http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Arena:Files here]].

This has also been released in "The Elder Scrolls Anthology" which has all five games, and skips the Dosbox prompt entirely.
!!This video game provides examples of:

* AbsoluteCleavage: The female enemy mages.
* AlienSky: Tamriel has two moons, Masser and Secunda.
%%* AllMythsAreTrue
* AlternativeCalendar: A very elaborate one, complete with holidays and whatnot.
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: Many creatures you fight, dedicated solely to killing you.
* AndIMustScream: One of the death screens, Tharn implies this as your fate. Stating that he'll revive your corpse as a zombie to serve him for all eternity, but he'll still allow you just enough sentience to remind yourself of how you ultimately failed everyone.
* TheArtifact: An interesting reverse example, Arena didn't have many of the famous Morrowind cities such as Seyda Neen[[labelnote:Continuity Issue]]Which actually makes fits ''more'' with later games than having it, unlike Balmora and Vivec. According to ''Morrowind'', Seyda Neen didn't really exist until Vvardenfell was opened for colonization, which happened over a decade after ''Arena''.[[/labelnote]], Balmora and Vivec. Yet when "The Elder Scrolls Anthology" came out with [[{{Feelies}} maps]] for each game. Bethesda added the cities to the Arena map despite they are nowhere in the original game. This was for continuity's sake and that it wouldn't be Morrowind without them.
* ArtifactTitle: The game was originally meant to be about raising a team of gladiators. The basis changed dramatically, but the title was kept, and retconned as a nickname for Tamriel. [[EverythingTryingToKillYou It's a pretty accurate nickname, though.]]
** Specifically, the developers were making a gladiator combat game with side quests into dungeons to get better equipment. However the team quickly fell in love with the side quests that the arena was dropped entirely.
* BigBad: Jagar Tharn, the former Imperial Battlemage who imprisoned Emperor Septim in Oblivion.
* BossWarningSiren: A non-boss variation. The message "Troll is regenerating" appears on the screen when you either approach a Troll, or the game randomly spawns one in your general area.
* CantKillYouStillNeedYou: According to the manual, Tharn can't just kill the Emperor because it would set off magical alarms. Also, ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' demonstrates why killing the Emperor is a bad idea in general, if you still want a Tamriel to rule.
* ConspiracyTheorist: Randomly-generated {{NPC}}s will sometimes describe conspiracy theories they have about their randomly-generated feudal masters, which tend to be rather humorous. [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Rumour_957.jpg For example.]]
** Can lead to FridgeHorror when talking to {{NPC}}s in the Imperial City, as you can hear [[http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m148/Sky_Prower/Howdyouknow.png the same conspiracy theories]] about the Emperor himself, and since you know for a fact that Jagar Tharn is on the throne right now...
* ContemptibleCover: The [[Creator/BorisVallejo Vallejo-esque]] busty blonde wearing [[{{Stripperiffic}} roughly half a square foot of tight black leather]] on the box art probably didn't do much to help the game be taken seriously as a genuine RPG epic.
* CoversAlwaysLie: The cover was designed for when the game was based around teams fighting in arenas, which is why it doesn't really reflect the open-world RPG gameplay. This is thought to be one of the reasons the game did poorly at launch.
* CrapsackWorld: Where to begin? Ruled by a usurper; monsters and bandits/psychopaths roam the wilderness and cities at night; ''everyone'' is racist, even towards their own race; failing to pick one lock doesn't take you to prison – it's an official death sentence, as guards will kill you with no second thought; gossip states that every province has been or will be ravaged by a plague, and the above gossip eventually implying that every ruler in Tamriel is a cannibal. [[note]] though the last two are simply gossip and may not really count [[/note]]
* DismantledMacGuffin: The Staff of Chaos.
* DisproportionateRetribution: The guards in this game are apparently extremely trigger-happy, since they'll send an ''entire squad'' to kill you if you so much as slash a locked door with your sword.
* DungeonBypass: The Passwall spell allows you to destroy dungeon walls. Some locks can also be undone with Open Lock spells so you don't have to get the keys, and the Skeleton Key also opens almost any door.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness:
** A lot of the series lore hadn't quite gelled yet, leading to an Elder Scrolls game with completely human-looking [[CatFolk Khajiit]], [[AmazingTechnicolorPopulation blue-skinned]] [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Tolkien Orcs]] (who are also not playable, as [[PromotedToPlayable that'd come later]]), much more humanoid Argonians, no playable ''Colovian humans'' (i.e. Imperials) for that matter, no mention of the word "Daedra" whatsoever, the barest mention of how Dunmer or Altmer religion works, no mention of the concept of ''-mer'' for that matter, the Dwarves being treated more like [[OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame Tolkien dwarves]], "Dagoth Ur" being the name of the ''volcano'' on Vvardenfell (and no sign of the big man himself as you stomp through his pad), and a CosmicKeystone artifact that has never been seen again.
** Interestingly, the human-looking Khajiit haven't been retconned out of ''existence'', just out of being common outside their homeland (the Khajiit have a great deal of racial variance based on the phases of the moons).
* TheEmperor: A benevolent one! Of course, he's not around for most of the game. Most of Tamriel's other emperors have played the trope more straight by necessity, due to the DeadlyDecadentCourt.
%%* EscortMission
* EvilSorcerer: Jagar Tharn, plus some of his {{Mooks}}, plus a few more in the {{Backstory}}.
* FantasticRacism: Rather egregious. You'll often have ethnic insults hurled at you by members of your own race.
* FetchQuest: Loads and loads of them (due to non-storyline quests largely being procedurally generated), most of which are thankfully optional.
* FictionalDocument: The titular scrolls.
* FreewareGames: Since 2004.
* GameBreakingBug: Given that ''Arena'' was a hugely ambitious game for its time and ate up a lot of memory, there's quite a few of these. Even today and even if you have DOS box on the recommended settings, the game ''will'' crash and the only workaround is to save often.
** In the Temple of Agamanus (the dungeon you need to clear to get the location of The Halls of Colossus) the room which holds the item you were sent there to get requires you to swim through some trenches (unless you can use Passwall). The room has a bad habit of spawning a ghost or wraith, which levitates over the entrance, blocking you from getting in. The only possible fix (assuming you have no way of using Passwall) is to save under the enemy and reload[[hottip:*: Word Of Advice: use a different save file for this or else you'll make this UnwinnableByMistake]], which only ''sometimes'' works. Otherwise you'll have to backtrack through all 3 levels of the dungeon and go find an item with Passwall.
** Using your bare hands as a weapon will often cause the game to crash,
** Sometimes you will get stuck descending from a raised platform.
** Using the spell Passwall to get to a dungeon door from the opposite side will actually ''corrupt your save file.''
%%* HeroicFantasy
* HammerspacePoliceForce: Much like Daggerfall after it, although guards don't even show up until the player decides to commit a crime. [[SkewedPriorities Never mind the monsters that walk the streets every night]], [[SarcasmMode they apparently need to focus all their effort on]] slaughtering the jackass that [[DisproportionateRetribution attacks doors]] [[CantGetAwayWithNothing that are locked]].
* HaveANiceDeath: "With you died our last hope for justice. Tharn is now free to do as he will. It saddens me to see the beautiful land of Tamriel rotting from within. Goodbye, ([[HelloInsertNameHere Player Character Name]]). I wish you peace in the afterworld..."
* HellIsThatNoise: The non-human enemies each have their own unique sound. Which, if you know what it is, can let you get prepared for what you'll be up against.
* {{Jerkass}}: The patrons of the many inns you'll visit in the game are very rude and are quick to dismiss the player, regardless of their race, gender, or reputation. The only people worth talking to are the bartenders and minstrels.
* LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards: Any character who isn't optimized for direct combat is going to run hard into EarlyGameHell, but the way that spells--especially well-made custom spells--scale with level (e.g. a 1 + 19 damage spell does only 20 damage at level 1, but ''400 damage'' at level 21 for the same cost) means that mages become nearly invincible at high levels, able to cast shields that can take two or three times as much punishment as an equivalent warrior can before dying, while one-shotting even the final boss with incredibly powerful custom spells. Warrior classes, meanwhile, need to rely on potions, items, and enchanted armor to make up for their [[MagicallyIneptFighter lack of flexibility]], which seriously screws over any combat class besides the Ranger, Knight, and Warrior (as only they can wear enchanted armor).
* KillItWithFire: The trolls in the game can only be soundly put down by using fire on them. Better have a fireball or item that can shoot fire handy.
* {{Magically Inept Fighter}}s: Warriors, Knights, and Rangers have a high number of HitPoints and a wide range of equipment to choose from but can't cast spells naturally.
* NeverTrustATitle: This game has no arenas in it, though the continent itself is nicknamed "arena" in an attempt to soften the ArtifactTitle. Also, the Elder Scrolls themselves are a very minor plot element.
* NiceDayDeadlyNight: Unlike its successors, cities at night feature enemies that can and will kill you, though during the day they're nowhere to be seen.
* NintendoHard: [[EverythingTryingToKillYou Everything is already trying to kill you]], you'll be lucky to have any gold for your first few dungeons, all crime is a death sentence (instead of being arrested), poisons and disease are far more lethal than future games in the series, and to top it all off, the occasional GameBreakingBug may just finish you off. Good luck, you'll need it.
* OurElvesAreDifferent: Really, there isn't much difference between humans and elves at all.
** Though the High Elves ([=NPCs=] in Summurset Isle) still have their brownish golden skin, and Dark Elves ([=NPCs=] in Morrowind) still have their brownish black skin.
* OurGoblinsAreDifferent: Our Goblins are GoddamnBats.
* OurOrcsAreDifferent: Our Orcs are dressed like players of American football. Notably, they're a generic enemy and not a playable race as they are in the post-''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall Daggerfall]]'' games.
* PlotCoupon: The pieces of the Staff of Chaos.
* RandomlyGeneratedLevels: All of Tamriel is procedurally-generated for the most part. This allowed Bethesda to supposedly make it ''6 million square miles across!''
* RedEyesTakeWarning: Tharn has red eyes, for no readily-explained reason other than that he's '''evil!!''' Later games in the series would explain that he is [[HalfHumanHybrid part Dark Elf]].
* {{Retcon}}: Later games state that the dimension Uriel Septim was trapped in was Mehrunes Dagon's realm of Oblivion and that Tharn had been making deals with Mehrunes Dagon for power.
%%* RuinsForRuinsSake
* RuleOfCool: The title "''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''" itself. One of the developers came up with the name just because he thought it sounded cool--and ''then'' it was decided what the actual Elder Scrolls should be. This is, in fact, how they named ''everything''. Or should that be "thinged everyname"?
** They don't appear, in any form or to any extent, until the fourth game in the franchise. They're not significant to the main plot until the ''fifth.''
* SceneryPorn: It looks rather crude by today's standards, but back in 1994, it was clear why the name Tamriel means "Dawn's Beauty" in Aldmeris.
* SequelHook: What's up with this Underking we keep hearing about?
* ShopliftAndDie: Or should we say, attack the doors of one of those many locked buildings, and get massacred by ''every guard in the city''.
* TheGuardsMustBeCrazy: The CityGuards never patrol the streets, and only show up when ''you'' decide to start killing random bystanders. They sure would be helpful when monsters start walking the streets at night, eh?
* TreacherousAdvisor: Jagar Tharn, who betrayed the Emperor.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse:
** ''Arena'' sets the Staff of Chaos up to be the CosmicKeystone of Tamriel... and the sequels never mention it again. According to the [=UESPWiki=], it was kept hidden [[http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Staff_of_Chaos somewhere in White Gold Tower]] (that huge tower in the middle of Imperial City in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'').[[note]]Though with a Citation Needed tag attached.[[/note]] [[http://www.imperial-library.info/content/imperial-palace Dialog in Arena]] says the staff is destroyed when the Emperor is freed, though this may have been [[RetCon retconned.]]
*** Sheogorath ''does'' mention the staff in TheElderScrollsOnline, though it's just a passing mention.
** Same with General Warhaft, the Emperor's chief military adviser. After this game, the only mention made of him is that he's written two really boring and useless books.
* WideOpenSandbox: A wide, wide, ''wide'' open sandbox.
* WorthyOpponent: Tharn comes to view your character as this as you assemble more of the staff.