These creatures make exploring Tamriel a whole lot less fun.
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The Elder Scrolls: Arena
The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- In the very first dungeon, you have to find a piece of parchment. It's surrounded by at least 7 ghouls, monsters with high defense, quite a bit of HP, and can kill you in a few hits. Especially if you're in the Thief or Mage classes which can't wear strong armor or use strong weapons.
- Giant Spiders. They can paralyze you, allowing them to get a bunch of free hits at you. Hell if you're paralyzed while in water it's One-Hit KO and you even get a unique death text.
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- Giant Spiders once again can paralyze you and get a bunch of free hits in. Luckily, it wears off much faster than in Arena.
- Ancient Liches. They are extremely powerful high-level spell slingers who can easily cause a One-Hit KO and who prefer large Area of Effect spells. The only real defense against them is the use of Spell Reflection, Spell Resistance, and/or Spell Absorption effects to buy yourself some time. (A strong enough Spell Reflection can send their own spells right back at them.)
- Vampire Ancients. UESP, the longest running Elder Scrolls fan site, even outright calls them "the most dangerous foe in the game". They appear very frequently at high levels and, unlike Ancient Liches, do not use ranged spells, so the Spell Reflection tactic is less effective. They can also detect invisible or camouflaged foes, so those won't help either. They also regenerate health in darkness, and they are typically only found in darkness. Also, unlike most other randomly encountered foes, one Vampire Ancient is guaranteed to appear during the main quest, meaning you'll have to defeat at least one in order to proceed.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- Daedroths have a ranged Poison-spell attack and dish out hard physical hits in close combat. They are one of the more dreaded Daedric foes to run into.
- Dremora Lords have a ranged Fireball-spell attack and hit hard with Ebony or Daedric weapons. They also look identical to standard Dremora until they raise their hands to cast said Fireballs.
- Enemies that are proficient in hand-to-hand combat can qualify as these. Hand-to-hand attacks can rapidly deplete your stamina, and when you get hit with no stamina left, you will be knocked to the ground and unable to act as they proceed to chip away your health. If you do not have any restore stamina potions or items, you will remain a sitting duck until you are dead.
- Greater Bonewalkers are an mid-tier Undead enemy, but aren't particularly difficult in a straight fight. What makes them "Demonic," however, is their That One Attack - a "Damage Strength" spell. Unlike a "Drained" attribute which wears off, a "Damaged" attribute won't heal on its own, forcing you to use a restorative item or find a Temple/Imperial Cult shrine. It is incredibly frustrating to encounter a Greater Bonewalker only to have him damage your Strength so much that you have to drop half your inventory (as Strength dictates your carrying capacity) and flee back to civilization to heal. Fortunately, there are Intervention spells that transport you 99% of the way towards the healing altar (but then you still need to manually return to the same point in the dungeon).
- Top-tier Dark Brotherhood assassins. They come in pairs and attack with Adamantium (a high tier Fantasy Metal added in Tribunal) swords enchanted with Poison and Paralyze spells "on strike." Even if you're resistant or immune to Poison (which depending on your race, is easy to accomplish), the Paralysis effect can leave you as a sitting duck in the middle of battle with two strong foes, with your only hope being that their blades run out of enchantment before you die.
- Ash Vampires can move really fast and do lots of damage both in melee and ranged. To make things worse, most of them can severely damage your attributes.
- Riekling Raiders in the Bloodmoon expansion are incredibly dangerous opponents. Not only can they do large amounts of damage, but they also can reflect spells, regenerate, and attack in groups.
- Werewolves, added in Bloodmoon, are tough enemies who hit like a truck and move really fast. Their claws can ignore armor and they can destroy shields in a single blow. Unfortunately, you will have to face dozens of them during the later portions of the Bloodmoon main quest. Should you become a werewolf hoping to harness this power for yourself, tough luck. A Player Character werewolf is much more of a Glass Cannon.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- Due to how Level Scaling works in , it pays to be at a low level, but even at low levels, these foes can be a pain in the ass:
- The Will-o'-the-Wisps. They're immune to normal weapons, are practically invisible when moving, and their preferred method of attacking is to absorb your health and magicka, which simultaneously damages you, prevents you from casting any healing spells, and undoes any damage you may have done to it. However, Will o' Wisps, like other specters, are not immune to the almighty power of your fists if you're a journeyman.
- Trolls, too. They're fairly common in certain parts of the overworld, they're fast enough to keep up with you on horseback, they're persistent, they have a ton of health, and they do a ton of damage. Their Demonic Spider tendencies are even lampshaded by an NPC:NPC: If you're all alone in the woods, and you see a troll coming, you run. Problem solved. Next question?
- The Clannfear might also be considered under this trope—you lose health every time you hit one, so fighting more than two or three is suicide, and either way will always result in a fortune's worth of potions being consumed. Unless you toast them with magic.
- The Atronachs also deal damage to you whenever you want to get up close and personal. Especially frost and storm atronachs are a nightmare to deal with for melee characters, as they also have ridiculously high health.
- Spider Daedra are an almost literal example of the trope. They are tough, deal good shock damage, can heal themselves, have an ability damaging spit, and to top it off summon little Spider Daedra that do pretty much the same thing, only they can paralyze you.
- Bears. They have ridiculous health, are relatively fast runners, stagger you with most of their attacks, which happen to do a LOT of damage which is not reduced much by blocking, and don't recoil from hitting your shield. They attack at a much higher rate than other enemies of comparable strength, and they attack with a lunge, so good luck getting out of its attack range.
- Spriggans are incredibly tough by themselves, they can also regenerate their health three times before dying. And guess what? They summon bears.
- The Scamps are really fucking annoying. Their attacks can be extremely unpredictable at close range, their fireball attacks have the uncanny ability to predict where you're going to be, and they can take a ton of hits for a weaker character to bring them down.
- The preferred method of dealing with Oblivion Gates is to simply gun it to Sigil Stone, ignoring any enemies that you leave in your wake. Daedra on higher levels are so damage-sponge-y that it's hardly worth your time and resources fighting them.
- Above all: if you level up too much in the vanilla game every single monster becomes a demonic spider due to the fact things level up along with you. At least if you have one of the many gamebreaking items (reflect damage, resist/absorb/reflect magic, chameleon), you can ignore every enemy after level 30. Good luck reaching level 30 though.
- Any high-level mage in Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul. Their AI has been enhanced from the vanilla game, so they dodge your ranged attacks. They never seem to run out of magicka, so they can keep shooting very powerful spells at you forever. Spells fly much faster too, so they are harder for you to dodge (especially the shock spells), and every time they get low on health, they will regenerate a good chunk of it back. Even worse, due to the way OOO works, these ultra-mages con be encountered at any level, even level 1.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Bears are ubiquitous in the wilderness, have camouflage, and can be pretty quiet when idle. They also have huge HP pools, do massive damage, and are (much like their real-life counterparts) surprisingly agile, even keeping up with a sprinting horse. The best part? They have a great sense of smell and are always up for adventurer elevensies. Hear the rhythmical gruffing of an aggroed bear cantering towards you? Might as well do a favour and take out the Marinara sauce.
- Taken Up to Eleven with the werebears. These guys are much stronger, faster and deadly than you (even when normal bears, spriggans and sabrecats prove no problem,) will one shot kill you, get to where you think you can avoid them with a bow (if they truly cannot attack then they will run off) and have Spiteful A.I. in that even with two or more followers killing it they will focus entirely on you, and can one or two hit even the strongest companions. They are far worse if you have the Realistic Animals and Predators Game Mod since they can knock you down, leaving you helpless to their attacks.
- Having barely avoided dying in multiple bear attacks in the woods and mountains, the Dragonborn takes the lowland route and feels wonderfully safe for a minute before being mowed down by the furry ball of instant death ("Just add claws!") that goes by the shorter name of Sabrecat. They too have camouflage, but are entirely quiet unless actively slicing you up, and frequently come in couples. For added fun, they also inhabit snowy mountains.
- Giants are docile unless you attack, hurt their Mammoths, or wander too close to their camp and avoiding them is pretty easy. Praised be the Divines, since Giants are formidable foes for any character short of a master stealth-ranger with high-end equipment. They wield clubs as long as the Dragonborn stands, and a hit from that club cannot be parried or blocked: in fact it often sends you ragdolling across the sky.
- In the quest "A Night To Remember", you have to save a farmer's goat you stole from a Giant you pawned it off to to pay for a ring to marry a Hagraven. You have to get the goat to follow you, forcing the giant to take chase but seeing how this take place near Rorikstead you can also be chased by both a bear and a sabrecat along with the giant.
- Chaurus are giant insects whose black chitin plates blend them effortlessly into the dark nooks they so love to inhabit. These critters can take a beating, spit health-draining and vision-blurring poison at you from afar, and if you can't kill one before it gets to you, you can expect to be dead in two or three bites of their mighty mandibles. For added Fun Units, they usually appear wherever Falmer are found.
- Falmer are twisted degenerate elves that come in three flavours: rangers perched on hard-to-see platforms that pelt you with poison arrows, dual-wielders who can slice and dice you in a matter of seconds with poisoned weapons, and mages who specialize in combining arcane pain and your sorry behind. They are rarely found alone and will usually have at least a few Chaurus along. They build huts that provide great hidey-holes from where to stab you. They are completely silent unless they have already spotted you, and they will spot you, because due to their complete blindness they have excellent hearing. What's even better is that in addition to the usual natural caves, they also inhabit a few Dwemer ruins, where constant noise from ancient steam machinery and nasty Dwemer robot foes will only serve to double your stress levels.
- The Forsworn. They don't look like much at first, just some regular humans decked out in leathers with antler decor. But they dual-wield. And those that don't dual-wield can shoot you full of ice spikes. And they come in droves. They hit hard and fast and to make matters worse, they're all Bretons, meaning they pack a powerful resistance to magic that will make fighting them hell if you're a mage. And then you meet the Briarhearts, massive Magic Knights who have had their hearts ripped out and replaced with a briar heart in a black magic ritual to give them increased strength. They are almost guaranteed to ruin your day. To make matters worse, almost every Forsworn camp has at least one Hagraven, and when they're not blasting devastating fireballs at you, they're tearing you apart with their claws for massive damage.
- Lower-level Draugr are pretty easy adversaries, but level up enough and you'll start running into Draugr Deathlords, Draugr Death Overlords, and Dragon Priests. Despite being desiccated corpses, they soak up damage like sponges, hit like tanks with chainsaws, and they have Dragon Shouts which they use to:
- A. Disarm you, which means your unique Daedric weapon can end up flying out of your hands to a position where you can't ever get it back, or
- B. Send you ragdolling, which means you spend over 5 seconds getting up slowly while their minions (they rarely show up alone) chop you to bits.
- Dragons themselves. They often come out of nowhere wherever there is open sky, usually when you're trying to do something else, and no matter how many you kill they just never stop coming. They love to flutter high in the air away from your war-axe, are quick enough that hitting with spells or arrows is pretty hard, and dive-bomb you a few times before even visiting the ground. Without appropriate shouts it can take long to reduce a dragon's health to half so that it's forced to land... and then you have to deal with its fairly quick crawling maneuvers and the fact that given the chance any dragon will chomp you up and toss you into an instant-kill ragdolling projectile towards the moons. So you adventure in the fear of dragons and level up... And once you're leveled enough to take on a Blood Dragon or two with ease, the Elder and Ancient Dragons start appearing... Also, unlike practically any other enemy, they are impossible to disengage. Once a dragon has seen you, you WON'T be able to fast-travel away until it's dead...or you are. Better hope you're within running distance of a town to get some help from guards.
- Thalmor execution squads can be pretty bad. Not the patrols that just walk along until you attack them, but the randomly-encountered teams sent specifically to kill you. They consist of two Magic Knights who will chop/electrocute you at close range while a Squishy Wizard electrocutes you from further away, making it difficult to step back and regroup after they catch you off-guard. They're also a lot less common than the unaggressive patrols, meaning that if you spot them from a distance, you'll probably assume they're unaggressive until they're already shooting you full of lightning.
- Frost mages in general, if you're the melee warrior type. Most can use Ice Storm, which not only does a ton of damage to your health but to your stamina as well, preventing you from sprinting and using power attacks. It's also very hard to dodge. But the worst thing about it is that it slows you down and opens you up to even more magical pummeling. Try to use a Power or Shout, they pop a Ward spell to No-Sell it. Nords have 50% resistance to frost and enchanting and spells can grant extra protection but at the expense of not having other enchantments on your armor. Brentons have it slightly easier due to their 25% resistance to all spells, but that does jack shit when youre surrounded by belligerent bookworms.
- Shock mages are to mages as Frost mages are to warriors; shock spells drain the magicka of the poor sap they hit (most likely you) and they have ward spells to block your spells, Powers, and Shouts.
- The Dragonborn DLC brings in a few nasty new enemies including the Lurkers, hulking giants that hit like a truck. Its physical attacks can stagger you, and it also has an annoying ranged attack. Then there's the Seekers, miniature Cthulhus, that can turn invisible, hit you with draining spells that slowly drain your health, magicka, and stamina, and worse of all, can create mirror images of itself that can also attack you. Oh yeah, and in Apocrypha, these things are everywhere!
- Frost Trolls are very deadly enemies at early levels, not only do they hit very hard, but they have a lot of health that slowly regenerates.
- Dwemer robots. The spiders are very strong for their size, with some types able to shoot lighting and even explode after "death". The sphere guardians are extremely fast and hit like a brick (but tend to telegraph their attacks). Finally, the centurions are the same size as giants, every bit as strong and tough, and have a steam blast attack that causes more damage than dragon flame.
- Spriggans. They crawl out of trees so you don't know they're coming; then they hit like a truck, heal themselves back to near-full health when they're in trouble, and have a health-draining bee spell they love to use on you. Oh, and they also summon bears. Nothing quite like a Demonic Spider that can summon more Demonic Spiders. Plus, Dawnguard introduces Spriggan Earth Mothers - they're bigger, stronger, and have a cloud of poisonous insects around them.
- Pretty much any enemy who can use finishing moves on you. Did you ever laugh when you first saw a guard being bitten and tossed by a dragon? You won't be laughing when it happens to you. The worst part is that the system that governs when it happens takes no regard for resistances: Armor rating, shield up, behind cover... When it wants to kill-cam you, it will kill-cam you.
- With Dawnguard installed, vampires become this. If it's night, they can show up pretty much anywhere, can be relatively dangerous, and in early levels are very hard to kill as they drain the life from you. This isn't the worst part, though. Boss-level hostile vampires and some mooks alongside them get dropped into cities filled with the brim with perishable, low-level, unique NPCs with no self-preservation instinct. It can potentially reduce even the five major cities to ghost towns, forcing you to be proactive and deal with the main quest quickly; the spawn rates in cities drop massively once it is finished, but this is small comfort. There's a reason why the "When Vampires Attack" and "Dawnguard Sentries" Game Mods are so popular.
- Any humanoid enemy wielding a two-handed weapon. Even lowly bandits can do tremendous damage if they're packing a battleaxe or warhammer. If you see a Bandit Chief in full plate mail or Nordic Carved Armor charging you while toting a warhammer made of a shiny metal, brace yourself.
- Wispmothers, mostly due to their ridiculously high minimum level. Even if you're a lowly level 1 fresh out of Helgen, any Wispmother you meet will be level 28. For reference, the much-maligned bears have a minimum level of "only" 12, and giants start out at level 32, only four levels higher than Wispmothers. Even if you're high enough level to fight one without instantly getting killed, their speed, high defense, and powerful ice spells can make taking them down tricky. Their one saving grace is that they're fairly rare and easy to spot from a distance: while they themselves start out invisible, their territory is marked by a pack of Wisps, bright white balls of energy that are easy to spot and avoid if so desired... although they're also very likely to lure a player seeing them for the first time to investigate them, incurring the wrath of their Wispmother.