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YMMV: The Elder Scrolls

The Games:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Was Tiber Septim/Talos a mighty and noble hero, or was he a bloodthirsty, ambitious, power hungry Jerk Ass who took advantage of a naïve young Dark Elf princess, impregnated her, and then forced a brutal surgery upon her to kill the unborn child (because he believed a child with an Elven woman would be a threat to his sons), leaving her in physical and psychological agony?
  • Anti-Climax Boss: For someone who is feared by anyone, who knows at least what necromancy is, Mannimarco in Oblivion goes down very fast.
  • Badass Decay: Mannimarco in Daggerfall looked like a lich from the darkest corners of Hell's castle. Mannimarco in Oblivion looks like a High Elf in a robe. Both Played Straight and Averted because the Warp in the West resulted in more than one Mannimarco, one being the Oblivion version and another ascending to become a god (the Necromancer's Moon).
    • Some have also assumed that Mannimarco in Oblivion is actually someone else and not the Daggerfall one. Or potentially a possessed mortal vessel.
  • Broken Base: Bethesda has a policy of building every new game from the ground up. As such, the gameplay and tone of each installment of this series is radically different. Some postulate that there is not really such a thing as an Elder Scrolls fan—just fans of one particular ES game or another.
    • Fans are also divided on how official the obscure texts should be treated. Some feel that, given the series Unreliable Canon, the texts are in some ways more canon than what is found in-universe. Others feel that the works are Word of Dante, at best. (Though after some of Michael Kirkbride's texts were referenced in Skyrim, the argument generally seems to be swinging in favor of the former opinion.)
    • The fans even manages to disagree about which game is the most Broken Base-causing.
    • The announcement of The Elder Scrolls Online led to this almost immediately. Either you think it's the best news ever, or you think it's sure to be a Franchise Killer.
  • Complete Monster: The Elder Scrolls: Akorithi and Mannimarco; Camoran.
  • Critical Dissonance: Despite each game in the series receiving more praise by critics than the last, the exact opposite could said for it's fanbase.
  • Complaining about People Not Liking the Show: Will happen if you say anything negative about any of the games. The Fan Dumb for Morrowind, Daggerfall and Oblivion can be EXTREMELY touchy, especially if you compare (read: pan/denigrate) their pet release with a different one in the series. Even if you're being constructive, you'll be skinned alive.
  • Crazy Awesome: Many.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The main themes for each 3D game were composed by Jeremy Soule, and they are epic.
    • "Nerevar Rising" from Morrowind.
    • "Reign of the Septims" from Oblivion.
    • "Dragonborn" from Skyrim.
    • Eric Heberling's soundtracks from Arena and Daggerfall are also fondly remembered, and have been ported (either straight or remixed) over to the more recent titles in the series in several mods.
  • Game Breaker: Enough to get its own page.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Not that it isn't immensely popular in the US, but the series is also huge in Japan and Europe. Japan is an especially notable case, as many Western RPGs tend to fare much more poorly there. (Skyrim was the first Western RPG to receive a perfect score from Famitsu.)
  • Goddamned Bats: Cliff Racers in Morrowind.
  • Growing the Beard: Arena and Daggerfall were quality games and reasonably well received, but were fairly generic fantasy stories lost in a flood of late-90s PC RP Gs. Morrowind, trading away some of the openness but being much more focused and polished, was where the qualities that have made The Elder Scrolls so popular really started to come in. It also helped that it was the first major Western RPG to find success on both PC and consoles, making it more accessible and putting it in the hands of more fans. The beard only continued to grow in thicker with Oblivion and Skyrim.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Dremora are a grey-skinned, yellow-eyed, horned, shaggy-haired Proud Warrior Race with a complex multi-level Fantastic Caste System who come from Another Dimension and use the Daedric alphabet. They wouldn't be the last.
  • Hype Aversion: Pops up frequently. The series is a critical dynamo with a large and very rabid fanbase, but people find reasons to avoid it. More casual gamers have been known to feel overwhelmed by the openness and depth of the series, where one can easily play for hundreds of hours.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: This seems to have happened within The Elder Scrolls fanbase with the release of Oblivion. Hell, it goes back further than that. Prior to Oblivion coming out, it was Morrowind that was the symbol of all the bad trends in the industry. And mostly for the same alleged reason: "dumbing down" for console players. It is now considered the last good Elder Scrolls game by the same crowd. The same thing happened with Skyrim.
  • Memetic Mutation: By the Nine Divines, where to begin?
    • "We're watching you, scum..." and "STOP RIGHT THERE, CRIMINAL SCUM!"
    • FUS RO DAH!
      • "I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee."
    • The Adoring Fan, and the various ways Oblivions Wide Open Sandbox gameplay allows players to murder him.
    • By Azura By Azura BY AZURA!!!
    • The Imperial Guard Song.
    • Sa-WEET ROLL!
    • "Fallout 3 is Oblivion with guns", and its opposite "Oblivion is Fallout with swords" due to the two games coming from the same developer.
    • A certain play about a Lusty Argonian Maid written by a certain Hlaalu Councilor.
    • Being swarmed by Cliff Racers.
    • Curved. Swords.
    • I saw a mudcrab the other day!
      • Horrible creatures. I avoid them whenever I can.
    • Expect a lot of furry fanart of khajiits.
  • Misblamed: Oblivion is sometimes blamed for changing a bizarre Tamriel into a Medieval European Fantasy. Much of these complaints stem from the fact that previous descriptions of the elven provinces, as well as Cyrodiil, had quite a few un-European traits. While those complaints may be justified, some seem to think that all of Tamriel lacked traits from Medieval European Fantasy - anyone who played Daggerfall would know that this is not the case, but many people at the time of Morrowind's heyday didn't, leading to the assumption that there was not supposed to be any medieval elements in the setting at all. People have cited the fact that the game has horses in it as a reason for the series being ruined, despite the fact that they were in Daggerfall.
  • Moral Event Horizon: If you summon Molag Bal, expect to do something horrific.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Particularly in Oblivion, where NPC dialogue becomes very repetitive very quickly.
    • The cries of the Cliff Racers
    • For Daggerfall players, this honor goes to the guards' "Halt!" You see, when you commit a crime, the game will start spawning guards constantly, all of them who constantly yell halt, which results in a chorus of "halts!" If you linger around the area where you are wanted long enough, the game may spawn so many guards that it may freeze or crash in a chorus of "Halts".
  • Player Punch: The Dark Brotherhood quest line in Oblivion has a very nasty example.
    • And again in Skyrim.
  • Sacred Cow/It's Popular, Now It Sucks: Mentioning the It's Popular, Now It Sucks section above, Daggerfall as well as Morrowind in some areas.
  • The Scrappy: "BY AZURA BY AZURA BY AZURA!". To be fair, he was meant to be annoying.
    • Back in Morrowind, there's Fargoth, and its expansion pack introduces Gaenor, who's part Scrappy, part That One Boss.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Looking back at earlier games in the series after playing the more recent games tends to cause this. Arena and Daggerfall seem to get the worst of it, with dated (even for the time they were released) graphics, unintuitive controls compared to more modern games, and boatloads of Early Installment Weirdness. Morrowind and Oblivion still get a bit of it though, both being revolutionary games at the time of their release but looking dated compared to Skyrim and the Bethesda-era Fallout games. (Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas) Essentially, each new game in the series tends to cause this phenomenon with its predecessor games.
  • Sequel Displacement: Each new game does this to the previous games in the series.
    • Daggerfall and Arena definitely have it worst. Most gamers still remember Oblivion and Morrowind, but the first two games are practically invisible now.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: The ability to go wherever you want and do whatever you want is the main selling point of the series for most people. A few specific examples:
    • Reading the many, many, many in-game books. Many hours can be spent this way.
    • Decorating your home. You can spend hours setting up your questing treasures juuust right. Mods to make decorating your home even better and easier are always amongst the most popular of a given game in the series.
    • Loads and Loads of Sidequests plays into this as well. It is possible to spend countless hours just wandering around and stumbling into new sidequests without ever touching the main quest.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • The "magic item glow" in Morrowind is generally known to suffer from this, specifically that the glow makes the items look like they're covered in saran wrap. There are almost as many mods to replace/remove said graphics as there are mods improving the popular alchemy system.
    • Oblivion's lava is more accurately described as very painful tomato soup.
    • The water troughs near forges in Skyrim lack any sort of animation, making them look like a chunk of semi-clear plastic.
  • “Stop Having Fun” Guys: Try saying you played a pre-made class. Count how many people jump on you and call you a noob, insult your intelligence, or for being "lazy".
    • For that matter, it's best to not mention the lore if you do not want your neck broken in a painful way.
    • One player, new to the series, found out that, despite all the complaints about getting rid of classes in Skyrim, nobody mentioned the pre-made classes. As soon as he asked about them, he was immediately attacked and mocked, being called a "console-fag".
  • Uncanny Valley: Oblivion has two features that were meant to improve immersion, automatic lip-syncing and facial expressions reflecting the NPCs' disposition towards the player. The former is rather wonky, while the latter is on all the time, even when the NPC speaks. Most NPCs' disposition goes up pretty quickly, so the result is a rather disquieting image of somebody laboriously trying to speak through a stiff, creepy grin.
    • The Argonians and Khajit in Morrowind seem to walk like they broke their ankles.
    • Morrowind itself has some Uncanny Valley mostly attributed to the aging of the game. Oh, let's just say it: everyone in Morrowind walks like they have a stick in their ass.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Since the jump to 3D, each game has put out some of the best graphics of its generation. This holds especially true for landscapes.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The 36 Lessons of Vivec from Morrowind. They are a series of 36 books, supposedly penned by the man-god himself, which are written by Michael Kirkbride. In them, he uses oodles of biblical imagery to make sure that, if you take it seriously, there is no way a person could see Vivec as anything less than the absolute god of The Elder Scrolls universe (which, of course, isn't necessarily true but is also exactly what Unreliable Narrator Vivec wants the reader to think). Doubles with Anvilicious. Also with Tropes Are Not Bad. And don't forget Getting Crap Past the Radar since some lessons are loaded with obvious innuendo. Finally, there's a dose of In-Joke too, with glitches in the Redguard engine fictionalized as natural wonders. And it's meant to be a "How-to be the Nerevarine" guidebook, and a "how to kill me" guidebook. Basically, the 36 Lessons of Vivec are a lot of things to a lot of people.

The Novels:

  • Base Breaker: Annaïg, a struggling heroine wannabe who tragically struggles against the shattering of her romantic delusions, or a meaningless empty shell designed solely to show us Umbriel while Glim, Attrebus, Sul and Colin all get real work done.
    • And on a series-wide level, the destruction of Morrowind. Considering that it was destroyed years ago with a keystroke from Kirkbride in Morrowind the game...
  • Complete Monster: Vuhon. Like with Dagoth Ur in Morrowind, you can see how he became it, and even empathize with it, but that doesn't change the fact that he is willing to murder the entire population of the Imperial City and Lilmoth simply because he is too selfish to go with the viable alternatives Attrebus brings forward.
  • Ho Yay: In one scene Slyr mentions that "nobody is watching" and Annaig blushes. To which Slyr replies "don't flatter yourself."
  • I Knew It: Yup, Lord Vivec is gone and the Ministry of Truth crashes into Vivec City at a thousands of miles per hour velocity.
  • Mis-blamed: People think that Keyes destroyed Vvardenfell in this book. In fact, it was Michael Kirkbride, who had been with the series since the nineties, who made the decision and heavily foreshadowed it in Morrowind.
  • Wangst: Subverted. Attebus starts to, but Sul injects some cold hard reason into the situation to set him straight by quite reasonably telling him that there are more important (and far more painful) things than his realizing he isn't as badass as he think he is, and that dwelling on it when the world is in danger is both selfish and stupid.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In The Infernal City, the island of Solstheim is spelled "Soulstheim," causing many Epileptic Trees to sprout up among the Elder Scrolls fandom. Word of God has it that this was just a typo. They didn't even fix it for the paperback! Lazy!