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Fridge Brilliance

  • Why is Daedric equipment so vanishingly rare in Morrowind, common in Oblivion, and uncommon but present in Skyrim? Well, what happened during Oblivion? Mundus was invaded by the daedra, the upper echelons of whom use Daedric equipment. Of course everyone's using the stuff at that point — it's the spoils of war, whereas before, there were only a few pieces lying around. Then in Skyrim, two hundred years later, it's rare to find any lying around, but expert smiths know how to craft it. This is presumably because while most of the gear left over from the war would have been lost or destroyed by now, but Tamrielic smiths had plenty of time to study it!
  • I got to thinking, what makes the Mantella a suitable power source for Numidium in place of the Heart of Lorkhan? Surely if all Numidium needed was the soul of a powerful magician, then the Empire could just create a new Mantella for it. So why the Underking's soul specifically? Because the Underking is an avatar of the god Shor, who is the Nordic aspect of Lorkhan. Thus the Underking's soul is a part of Lorkhan as well. The Mantella, in a sense, is an artificial heart made of tissue from Numidium's original heart.
  • It always confused me how, if you're playing an Argonian born under the sign of the Shadow, and are a member of the Dark Brotherhood, you are still able to kill Scar-Tail in "The Renagade Shadowscale" since it's illegal for a Shadowscale to kill another Shadowscale. Then, it hit me. Of course you're allowed to do it because you weren't part of the Shadowscale; after all, if you were, then you'd have already been part of the Dark Brotherhood. The game treats you as if you weren't born in the Argonian homeland/somehow got skipped over, therefore, you were never a part of that system even if you were born under the required sign. THAT'S why you're able to kill another Shadowscale.
  • The locals of Bravil must think it odd that you regularly rock up to speak to the statue of the Lucky Old Lady. Oh wait, didn't you escape when Patrick, I mean Uriel Septim and the Blades made a break for it through your cell and then went on to become a hero? Lucky. Yeah, it's understandable that you'd come back weekly to thank her.
  • Spending time in prison lowers your skill levels. You start the games on Level 1 with almost no skills. Your character must have been in prison a long time, eh?
  • Corvus Umbranox. His last name can be translated from Latin as "Shade of Night." He is also the Gray Fox, who wears the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Night and Darkness. —Apocalemur
    • And his first name means "raven". They really piled on the shadowy symbolism with this guy; anyone who speaks Latin knows something's up with the Umbranoxes as soon as they see the name.
  • For the longest time I couldn't understand why the Dwemer are called dwarves when they're nothing like them. Then I realized that they actually are very dwarfy - they're reclusive, they live in underground strongholds carved into the mountains, they're superb metalsmiths and engineers, they don't get along with the (other) elves, and they have big, long beards. Bethsoft managed to keep the archetype almost completely intact, yet due to fresh visual portrayal they're unique and exciting again insted of the usual "like Tolkien's dwarves, but _____".
    • They are called 'dwarves' because one of the oldest sources for information, in-game, was giants who'd interacted with them. To a giant, of course they were dwarves.
    • In Norse Mythology, there are the svartálfar, which literally means "black elves". They're also called "dwarves".
  • In Morrowind, the first thing you hear, even before the main menu appears, is the deep rumble of a beating heart. The rhythm continues throughout the whole piece, and, since the music plays during regular gameplay, permeates the entire island of Vvardenfell.
    • That distinctive "boom-BOOM boom-BOOM" drumbeat also appears in the Oblivion and Skyrim themes, and in the latter's case is also the only thing you hear for the first five seconds of the song. Lorkhan means "Doom Drum" in the Elvish language - Take that as you will.
  • When you first meet Sheogorath in the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion he introduces himself as 'Prince of Maddness, and other things. I'm not telling right now.' Sounds like Sheogorath just being Sheogorath right? Well, later you learn that Sheogorath is also Jyggalag the Daedric Prince of Order. He wasn’t joking, he was foreshadowing the big reveal!
    • Sheogorath is also the patron of Expressiveness and the Arts, so it might as well be Sheogorath being Sheogorath.
  • The Artificial Atmospheric Actions in Oblivion actually are a little more justified in Shivering Isles. Why? Because everyone in Shivering Isles is insane, that's why. Of course that's why they just walk around not minding about Runs-in-circles going "Ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni" or watching that old man in Highcross yelling "FILTHY PICKPOCKET! Pickpocket! Pickpocket!" at a random them, that's just another day.
  • I always thought that the Nerevarine Prophecies were sort of a cop-out since your becoming the Nerevarine didn't really fulfill any of the hopes the Ashlanders had, like "striking down the Tribunal's false gods". Then it hit me. All of the Tribunal's gods DO fall over the course of the game. Sotha Sil is murdered by a mad Almalexia. Almalexia is literally struck down by the player character (the Nerevarine). Vivec also falls from grace because of the appearance of the Nerevarine, realizing that he needs to step down as head of the Temple. So, the Nerevarine indirectly struck down the gods of the Tribunal. Brilliant.
    • The destruction of the Heart of Lorkhan too; it's implied that Vivec's godlike powers will fade over time with the Heart destroyed. And of all of this, Azura put the Nerevarine on the path to do it, which can be a little bit unsettling, the more of her you know. Azura in Morrowind seems like a contradiction, being a genuinely benevolent creature that's trying to help save the nation; doing good and saving the land, where all the other Daedra are avatars of chaos in various forms. But the more one studies her, the more disturbing her behavior becomes. Ultimately, despite being one of the "Good Daedra" that the Tribunal believes can be trusted, it was Azura who succeeded in wiping out their gods, where the likes of Molag Bal and Mehrunes Dagon had failed before. She cursed the Tribunal's people into becoming the dark elves, she destroyed their gods, and then comes Skyrim, and we find out that at some point since, the entire island of Vvardenfell was destroyed in a volcanic eruption from Red Mountain. Man, do not cross Azura; she never lets go of a grudge.
    • Well, Vivec gets away with it mostly. He only loses half his divinity, managed to make her revenge all go Just As Planned in his favor, and to cap it off he symbolically rapes Azura in the Imperial city, cutting off access to her realm for a long time.
  • It's been considered odd that all of the Ayleid cities seem to consist of temples and crypts, nothing more. But the Ayleids were masters of necromancy. Suddenly you realize that what you're looking at is a giant industrial park, for an economy based on undead labor. Also, considering what Pelinal Whitestrake did to them, it's entirely possible that the temples and the crypts were all that he left standing.
  • Shivering Isles one: if you attack Sheogorath, he teleports you above the Hill of Suicides, where you fall to your death. But wait, why there specifically? ...because being stupid enough to attack a god MUST be suicide!
    • This becomes even more brilliant when you consider that at the end of the expansion you become Sheogorath.
  • Why is the culture of Cyrodiil in Oblivion so different from what's described in the Pocket Guide to the Empire included with Redguard? Because Redguard is a prequel. Civilisations change over time, especially over hundreds of years.
    • This is actually explicitly stated (in the Mythic Dawn Commentaries and by a text quoted in Skyrim by Heimskr) to be because Tiber Septim used CHIM to change Cyrodiil.
      • I wouldn't say 'explicitly stated" as CHIM is not a proven, definitive part of lore. At best it can be said to have supporting evidence that was delicately placed into the games. At worst, it is a running gag at video games and the nature of playing them.
      • "CHIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King Once Jungled." - from Cot MX 3, and about as obvious as they could make it without actually beating the player over the head with it.
      • Or as stated it's just a running gag poking fun at the process of video games. YMMV on this topic; CHIM is highly controversial among fans with some seeing brilliance where others see stupidity.
      • Bethesda as a whole is quite fond of the subject of CHIM and the deeper lore concepts. The fact that CHIM exists is indisputable, but what it entails is debatable. They also have left just enough evidence in game to support the CHIM version of events, white gold tower being responsible for the climate change, or the climate change having not happened. Its pleasantly unverifiable- pick your favorite theory and move on
  • The Dwemer disappeared long ago in the past, and one possible theory is that they Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence. When you consider that the Dwemer were a race whose hat was practically Jerkassery, the fact that Tamriel is a complete crapsack world could make a lot more sense.
    • The consensus is that the disappearance of the dwemer has been solved: tl;dr, the dwemer hated reality because its fundamentally irrational, so used the heart of lorkhan to become Anumidium. Everything went according to plan and they’re happy where they are - the “skin” of the brass god.
      • That's just another in-universe theory.
  • As controversial as "The Arcturian Heresy" is within the fandom, it becomes perhaps one of the greatest bits of irony in the series if true. Talos, who the Nords worship as a warrior god and the hero of their people, is primarily Tiber Septim, who was a manipulative, backstabbing Breton that gained the throne almost entirely by magic and through shady acts like assassination. And the other two men who make up Talos—Ysmir Wulfharth and Zurin Arctus—were both best known as a spellcasting lich, the Underking.
    • In other words, the Warrior, the Thief, and the Mage are all aspects of the same person.
    • The man who became Tiber Septim was not a Breton, regardless of his birthplace. He had the nickname “early beard”, which is a nordic naming convention, and there are other elements that indicate his nordic ancestry. It highly probable he was just a nord born in high rock - we have no evidence suggesting he was a breton. However, you are on the mark about the backstabbing being important. Infact, the backstabbing is a key reason why the three of them were able to ascend to godhood as Talos - they accidentally re-enacted creation in their effort to conquer Tamriel, and mythopeaic forces allowed them to take up The Missing Gods mantle.
  • The lore concept of "Mantling" (A sort of reverse-reincarnation where, rather than being born with the soul of someone else, you become them by acting as them) makes perfect sense with some of The Elder Scrolls more unique gameplay elements:
    • In most Role Playing Games, you level your characters by grinding in any way possible and then upgrading a specific skill, setting your character on a mostly-predetermined path. Meanwhile, in Elder Scrolls games, your individual skills level as you use them. Whereas in Fallout, you can become a thief by going around fighting enemies head-on and slowly, deliberately pouring skill points into Sneak, in The Elder Scrolls, you become a master thief by choosing to be a master thief when it is necessary.
    • In The Elder Scrolls, you are normally free to do whatever you want, up to and ignoring the main questline past the tutorial with few ill-effects. In other words, you are not the hero of legend that canonically defeats the adversary at the end of the line unless you want to be. The reason so many people doubt you are the Nerevarrine in Morrowind? Because, unless you choose to complete the main quest, you, for all intents and purposes, aren't playing as the Nerevarrine.
  • Why does your character always start with offensive fire spells? Because it's handy for purifying water! Pretty much every spell you start with would have a practical use for even the most hard line sword-and-board warrior, and they're basic enough that anyone can learn them.
  • Why does Alduin attack Helgen? Because he sensed a dragon soul there and went to investigate it. When he found out that there was no (immortal) dragon there, he tried to kill the only thing that could cause his downfall.
    • Alternative idea: If he can sense your dragon soul so easily, why doesn't Alduin track your escape from Helgen and attack you again before you reach Riverwood? Alduin was fresh from the tail end of the Merethic Era, where there were Dragonborn everywhere, and is suddenly in an era where Dragonborn only exist as legend - but all the omens are right for the appearance of the legendary Last Dragonborn who is supposed to defeat him forever. Obviously, Alduin doesn't want this to happen, so he goes about finding this Last Dragonborn before they become a threat. But who could this Last Dragonborn be? Obviously someone who uses the Voice, almost certainly a Nord, and most likely already evincing the draconic tendency to conquer and dominate. Ergo, someone like Ulfric Stormcloak. Why would he even consider that the real Dragonborn might be some random idiot who got caught crossing the border at the wrong time and may not even be a Nord? It's likely Alduin goes off to raise enough dragons to fight the whole Stormcloak army and doesn't realize his mistake until the PC kills off Mirmulnir and proves their status as a dragonborn.
    • There's a theory that Alduin was cursed by Talos with a desire to rule so strong that it is preventing his natural purpose of eating the current Kalpa to start the next one. Some believe this to mean that he knew the Dragonborn was in Helgen, but he didn't go all-out and instead tested and tempered the Dragonborn into a powerful being capable of killing him, freeing him of the curse and allowing Alduin to fulfill his purpose and destroy this Kalpa. The Dragonborn may have unintentionally caused the destruction of this version of reality, and Alduin orchestrated it starting with his attack on Helgen.
  • Considering how many sources of Cure Disease there are in most of the games, it's hard to take Vampirism very seriously as a disease. In Oblivion, curing early-stage vampirism is even as easy as eating a mandrake root raw. You'd think that would be common knowledge for travellers. However, it also explains why most vampires are Always Chaotic Evil: they chose to succumb to the disease (even the ones who later regretted it, like Count Hassildor), rather than seeking a cure before it became irreversible.
    • This may hold for vampires that were created the usual way (i.e. by infection), but Dawnguard implies that as least some vampires did not become so willingly, Serana being one of them. It's also possible that many vampires arose from the "cattle" that they keep in their lairs; a prisoner locked up in a cage wouldn't be able to cure themselves, and would likely begin to fall victim to brainwashing and Stockholm Syndrome over time while their disease progressed.
  • Draugr in Skyrim are randomly generated, and so it's possible for a draugr to spawn with a female body and a bearded face. Those who are familiar with Norse mythology (which Skyrim is heavily inspired by) might have heard of a story of how the reason women don't have beards is because it was supposedly used in a potion, along with the sound of a cat's footsteps and other such things that don't exist. This story claims that women had beards thousands of years ago, and so, in a moment of Fridge Brilliance, it actually makes sense for female draugr to have beards since they lived thousands of years ago.
  • The only human race that does not revere Lohkan and the only elven race that does not hate him are the Redguard and the Dunmer respectively. For the Redguard, they are explicitly said to not be descended from the Nedes so it make sense that the Bretons, Imperials, and Nords to share a common belief but a Redguard to not be included since they have their own culture even with each god having an equivalent in each of the four human cultures. As for the Dunmer, they are Daedra worshippers and Daedra are the embodiment of change. Without Lokhan, there would be no change so there is no reason to mark him as an enemy.
    • Not an accurate summary of Dunmer opinion. They respect lorkhan because they recognize what his intentions were - to fail so that we might know how not to. They therefore see mundus as a gift, a testing ground to allow one the chance to transcend and mortal death as a gift as well. You were on the mark on why death is a good thing though - it prevents stasis.
  • One thing that struck me on my first playthrough of 'Skyrim' (I can't speak for the other games in the series, having not played them) was the relatively high proportion of female characters I encountered in my travels (a completely amateur guess would be that something like 40-50% of the characters I met, significant or otherwise, were women), and what's more, the number of them who were warriors, when in the kinds of societies 'Skyrim' is based on, most of those roles (soldiers, bandits, guards, smiths) would have been taken by men. But then it occurred to me that, as there is a war going on, most of the able-bodied men would be away fighting, meaning that most of their jobs at home would be inherited by sisters, daughters and mothers (much like in Britain during the First World War, where the absence of men at home meant that factories and farms began to employ a lot more women). Fittingly, a lot of the men you meet in the game are either:
    • physically not fit for battle (like the guards with their universal knee injuries, if we assume that 'arrow in the knee' is to be taken literally - while they can keep law and order in a town, they're probably not much use on the battlefield)
    • too old for battle (you meet a few aged, homeless veterans, whose plight also makes sense if you consider that cultures that value dying a warrior's death would probably have less provision for those who survive a lot of battles and live to a ripe old age)
    • mercenaries (meaning that they don't answer to the main armed forces, but rather to whoever's paying them the most)
    • employed in other careers (clergymen, apothecaries, stewards and so on) that would probably be exempt from military service
    • Something to consider is also that Skyrim is very heavily rooted in what we'd consider "Viking" culture. And to the Viking folk, women were generally held as peers. They could serve in battle, own property, etc
  • The general acceptance of same-sex marriages, even when most people are in heterosexual relationships, makes quite a bit of sense when you consider the four dominant deities of love and sex and their respective teachings. Mara, Dibella, Sanguine, and Mephala are all associated with love or sex in some manner, but none of them impose any kind of hard limitation on who you can be with. Mephala is associated with the darker desires in sex but has no restrictions on the act itself, and Sanguine's very nature of being all about excessive indulgence and lack of inhibitions runs entirely counter to the idea of restrictions on gender. Mara similarly has no restrictions on who can marry and love who, so long as the relationship is honest, earnest, and mutual. Dibella even goes so far as to teach her followers to be as unrestrictive as possible, taking as many lovers as they can, so long as the relationship is consensual. The idea of gender restrictions in a romance or sexual act is not only alien to some of these deities, but actively counter to their teachings.
  • It's generally agreed that the rewards you get from Clavicus Vile's quests are either really good, or really mediocre at best. In Oblivion, you can keep Umbra, the strongest one-handed sword in the game, or you can give it to Vile, getting the Masque of Clavicus, with a pretty lackluster Personality enchantment. Likewise, in Skyrim, you can kill Barbas to keep the Rueful Axe, the slowest melee weapon in the game, or you can return the Axe to Vile, getting the new version of the Masque, which has the highest Speech buff in the game. Notice how you get the inferior rewards by doing what Vile says, while the better rewards come from disobeying him. Now remember that any time somebody makes a deal with Clavicus Vile, they always regret it. It's not like he'd make an exception just because you're the player character.
  • One of the riddles in Morrowind is particularly brilliant in that the answer is actually two homonyms, each of which rhyme with different parts of the riddle itself:
    A metal neither black nor red
    As heavy as man's golden greed
    (Answer: Lead)
    What you do to stay ahead
    With friend, with arrow, or with steed
    (Answer: Lead)

Fridge Horror

  • The chosen sybil of Dibella is always a young girl.
    • They are considered saints, it would be a parents' dream coming true.
      • Plus they'd hopefully not be teaching her the, uh, 'Dibellan Arts' too early.
  • The Mudcrab Merchant, while some may view it as a joke. A worse case scenario is Sheogorath probably gave the wish of a mortal servant to be immortal and turned him into a sentinent mudcrab, ensuring old age will never get him...
    • Considering a certain quest line in Skyrim, this may have been the work of Clavicus Vile.
  • The Void Nights causing great unrest upon the Khajiit becomes even worse when you account their birth cycle is influenced by the moons' phases. With the moons disappearing for two years, its highly possible that their race suffered several stillbirths during this time.
  • In Morrowind, the first couple of quests that Caius Cosades sends the player on involve learning some history from a couple of informants. This history is pretty easy to come across on your own, however, so why does this spymaster need you to jump through hoops to get it when he could take a trip to the local bookseller and save some time? Well, according to the theory of a fan on tumblr, the information isn't Caius's main goal. He knows that these two informants are a Dwemer scholar and a necromancer, respectively, and that they'll only give you the information you want in exchange for doing them favors related to their niche. The first involves finding a Dwemer artifact in exchange for the information, technically smuggling it, which is classed as treason by the Empire. The second involves plundering a tomb to get a skull, which is an unspeakable atrocity in Dunmer society. Those first two quests are Caius making sure he's got blackmail material against you if you ever get out of line, ensuring you'll find no protection from Imperial or Dunmer authorities.
  • In Arena, there are rumors about the Elder Gods coming to make Black Marsh "burn for their sins". If you travel to the city of Gideon in Black Marsh, you will be informed that it's controlled by a Religion of Evil known as the Brotherhood of Seth, who also have a presence in other cities across Tamriel. It makes you wonder if these two are actually connected. Thankfully, nothing comes of either of these things in the game itself, nor in the sequels (especially since Gideon ends up being destroyed between Oblivion and Skyrim).
    • Although the later games in the series establish that the Hist Trees have a very close relationship with the Eldritch Abomination Sithis.