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Literature / The Elder Scrolls In-Universe Books

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For whenever you get tired of adventure.

Tropes that apply to any Show Within a Show and In-Game Novel in The Elder Scrolls verse. Some are pure fiction, others tales based around historical events, while a select few are historical documents. Some people mentioned actually exist in one or more of the games, often as high-level skill trainers.

All texts can be found at The Imperial Library fansite, as well as at The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages. There's even a smartphone app containing them.

And yes, there are so goddamned many of them that they warrant their own. Just look at that list.

The Elder Scrolls In-Universe Books provide examples of:

  • Action Girl: Matilda, slayer of Ragnar the Red.
  • Action Survivor: Decumus Scotti of A Dance In Fire. He is just an ordinary businessman caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets put through hell over the course of the seven volume book series, but comes out of each of his trials mostly unharmed by the end.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Whoever first told the story of Weedle the Beggar Prince went to great lengths to avoid specifying Weedle's gender.
  • Appropriated Appellation: 'Renrijra Krin' is a derogatory expression, but it amuses them so they have adopted it as their name.
  • Artificial Human: Well, Artificial Dunmer: Vivec's second mother, which was built by Dwemer.
  • Ascended Glitch:
    • In Arena, there is a city called Rockcreek that has an equipment store sitting directly in front of the town entrance, due to a hiccup in the game's town generation. The Daggerfall devs decided to poke fun of this in Ius, Animal God, which explains that the store was placed there by a nature deity enacting their revenge on the town's royal family for abusing one of their sacred animals.
    • Sermon 17 of The Thirty-Six Lessons of Vivec describes Vivec and the Hortator encountering "spiked waters at the edge of the map", a reference to the "jagged water" glitch in Redguard
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The uncle in The Axe Man.
    • The King in The Mystery of Talara. His arrest is very satisfying once you know all the facts.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Night Falls on Sentinel ends with female knight Haballa about to use the pressure points described by assassin Jomic on him.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sirollus Saccus in The Armorer's Challenge forges a suit of ebony platemail and a fire-enchanted dai-katana in order to win a contest with another blacksmith. It looks impressive when the gladiator wearing it first puts it on, but when he has to fight in it in an arena that's been partially flooded to resemble swamp terrain (because the duel is meant for picking army equipment for a campaign in Argonia), the water extinguishes the fire magic on the blade and the combination of heavy armor and mud makes it almost impossible for him to move, resulting in an easy victory for the opposing gladiator, whose gear is less fancy but takes the terrain into account.
  • Bawdy Song: Both Rude Song and A Less Rude Song are all about how much fun it is to have sex and engage in various perverted activities with others. You'll find it all in Morrowind indeed.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Legend Of Haman Forgefire tells the story of a great blacksmith named Haman who could craft amazing weapons better than anyone else. A rival smith grows ever more jealous of him as time goes on and ultimately enlists the help of Molag Bal who promises to grant her wish of becoming more famous than Haman could ever hope to be. After killing him as per her agreement she does indeed become more famous than he could ever hope to be just as she had wanted... during the moment of her execution for Haman's murder.
  • Big Book of War: The Art of War Magic by Imperial Battlemage Zurin Arctus, which consists of a series of proverbs dealing with magic and military strategy coupled with commentaries on the proverbs by other mages. It has lots of paraphrases from The Art of War.
  • Black Comedy:
    • Essentially the entire point of the seven-volume story A Dance In Fire. A clerk from Imperial City is fired and, desperate, heads to Valenwood to sell building contracts to the Bosmer so they can fix their infrastructure after a war with the Khajiit. While he's there, horrible things happen to him and everyone around him on a regular basis. Among other things; he loses all his money very quickly, the war starts up again so he's constantly narrowly dodging bands of rampaging Khajiit, he encounters an ex-pirate who's miserable about the war having driven him into honest work, various things try to eat him (and there's a Running Gag about the cannibalistic Bosmer), and he's accosted by a poet unjustifiably convinced that he's found a fellow scholar of Bosmer verse and won't shut up about it. (Said poet is the source of the title.) Even when he survives and gets home safely with a new and more lucrative job in hand, the story has one more thing in store. After that, there is a four-volume sequel, The Argonian Account, where the clerk gets sent to Black Marsh.
    • In Jokes, when asked by the judge why he killed his unfaithful wife, the Dunmer in question replies, "I considered it better to kill one woman than a different man every week."
  • Blessed with Suck: When Weedle begged at the feet of Namira for 33 days in a row, Namira 'rewarded' Weedle with the ability to manifest diseases with visible symptoms, to invoke pity in others and to make them disregard Weedle's presence.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Helseth bluffs a spy into revealing themselves in A Game at Dinner.
  • Boring, but Practical: Hazadir from The Armorer's Challenge forges a rusted suit of scalemail, a simple spear and a soft shield without a metal trim for a gladiator to fight with; nowhere near as fancy as what the opposing gladiator wears, but, as the fight between them demonstrates, very effective in swamp terrain and as a counter to Argonian battle tactics.
  • Breakout Character: Originally a minor sidequest in Morrowind, the The Lusty Argonian Maid appears frequently, even the subject of some dialog, in Oblivion due to the Memetic Mutation it received. By Skyrim, an equally filthy sequel has been published.
    • The Dawnguard DLC to Skyrim adds The Sultry Argonian Bard. It takes the same concept, flips the genders so the Argonian paramour is male. And it's even more of a Self-Insert Fic than the original.
  • Calling Card: The Night Mother in Sacred Witness gouges out her victim's eyes and replaces them with two stones, one white and one black.
  • Canon Name: The dead brother in the Daggerfall quest "Missing Prince" has a random name every time the game is played. Night Falls on Sentinel gives the victim's name as Arthago.
  • Can't Hold His Fermented Pig's Milk: Poor Scotti has barely finished half a flagon of the titular drink before becoming drunk off his ass. He then passes out shortly after finishing it and finds himself about to be eaten alive by a giant insect. Luckily, he survives. Unluckily, this is only the second volume of A Dance In Fire and he still has five more volumes of misfortune to suffer through.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: Dagoth Thras from Death Blow of Abernanit is an absolute master of defensive combat, reflexively blocking every blow Rangadil tries to land on him. But when Rangidil asks him to explain how he learned to block so well, Thras realises he can't put his skill into words, and is cut down in a moment of confusion.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The Four Suitors of Benitah is about a man who yearns for his childhood crush, whom he once defended from bullies. With the help of a healer, he enhances himself with magic to outperform rival suitors.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Inzoliah from A Hypothetical Treachery manages to successfully backstab the three other adventurers in the party to claim the entire treasure at the very end of the story.
  • Clean Food, Poisoned Fork: The famously paranoid Prince Helseth invites everyone he suspects of being a spy to a banquet. Suspecting that he might suspect them, and aware that the prince had recently met with a renowned alchemist, several invitees (including the narrator) choose to feign eating the food. Unfortunately for them, Helseth anticipated that, and poisoned the spies' cups and cutlery instead. Except that was a lie — the whole thing was a bluff, and the poison was actually in the "antidote" he offered to anyone who would confess their treachery.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • The Renrijra Krin are all about this, as described in the Ahzirr Traajijazeri:
    If an enemy is facing us, we might consider our options, and even slip away if his sword looks too big. If his back is to us, however, I personally favor knocking him down, and then jumping on his neck where the bones snap with a gratifying crunch. Of course, it is up to you and your personal style.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The author of Tribunal—Living Lies, who calls themselves "Disordinator", is one. They claim that the three Living Gods mentioned in the title are in fact actually all one giant soul-stealing monster, who controls people's minds through chanting and bees with magical pollen. They even have an obligatory Water Source Tampering accusation.
  • Cutting the Knot: Discussed in Proper Lock Design, a skill book for lockpicking. The author notes that he's come across several chests with intact Dwarven locks, but emptied of all contents. The thief smashed the wood around the lock and just reached in.
    • This may be a callback to Arena and Daggerfall, where those not skilled in lockpicking or magic could just pummel a locked door or chest until it opened.
  • David Versus Goliath: In 16 Accords of Madness - Volume VI, Sheogorath and Hircine challenge each other to summon beasts that will duel to the death; Hircine chooses a mutated daedroth while Sheogorath chooses a songbird. The songbird perches on the daedroth's snout and tricks it into blinding itself with its own claws, then proceeds to taunt it with cheerful song as it tears itself apart trying to find and kill its prey. The story is a Whole-Plot Reference to one of Aesop's Fables, with the bird standing in for a fly and the daedroth for a lion, though it leaves out the part where the fly buzzes off bragging about its triumph and runs into a spider web.
  • Death by Irony: In Breathing Water, the protagonist asks an Alteration mage to teach him a spell of waterbreathing, and plans to use the spell to loot a recently wrecked ship. While exploring the ship, he finds a sturdy locked box lying amongst all of the gold and treasures. He figures that whatever is in there must be really valuable, so he ignores everything else and spends a lot of time trying to open it, only to be massively disappointed when all it contains is two bottles of what appears to be wine (as well as the shattered remains of what were most likely more bottles). At that moment, his waterbreathing spell wears off because he was too focused on opening the box to pay attention to how long he was spending underwater. He can't make it up to the surface in time, and he drowns. When his body floats to shore a few days later, everyone is mystified by how he managed to drown while holding two waterbreathing potions.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The ultimate fate of Therris in The Real Barenziah.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Song of Hrormir concerns a warrior who makes a Deal with the Devil with Nocturnal, but words his oath of loyalty in such a way that the first part of his oath exempts him from adhering to the rest of it.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Songs of Skyrim contains the lyrics to the game's theme, "Dragonborn", in both Draconic and English.
  • Disguised Horror Story: A Gift Of Sanctuary starts out like a common children's book any parent might read to their child but takes a really dark turn at about the halfway point.
  • Door Stopper:
    • 36 Lessons of Vivec. 'Nuff said. There are 36 volumes of this holy text, with a 37th added in Online.
    • Honorable mention goes to 2920, Last Year of the First Era (12 volumes), The Real Barenziah (10 volumes, later cut down to 5) and King Edward (12 volumes, incomplete).
  • Double Entendre:
    • In The Lusty Argonian Maid. Spear polishing, indeed.
    • And with volume 2 in Skyrim we can add "bread baking" to this.
    • One of the Lessons of Vivec as well, describing his encounter with Molag Bal.
    • The Sultry Argonian Bard, as befits a (in-universe) gender-flip self-insert fanfic of The Lusty Argonian Maid. Private performance, indeed.
  • Double-Meaning Title:
    • Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader: The author/narrator is a Khajiit who is a fur trader, but he also trades in Khajiit fur.
    • The Importance of Where is about a warrior learning where to strike blows; he must strike the monster's weakpoints in order to kill it, but he also needs to chase it to his village before landing the final blow so he gets all the glory.
  • Dual Wielding: In 2920, Morning Star the Akaviri Potentate's son Savirien-Chorak uses a katana and wakizashi in an exhibition match against Emperor Reman's son Juilek.
  • Dying Curse: A pretty brutal one happens in The Woodcutter's Wife after the titular character decapitates a helpful traveling mage in her paranoia, forcing her to haunt the woods surrounding her home in death for her terrible crime.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • The Daedric Lord Jyggalag has been mentioned in the lore since Daggerfall (in the book On Oblivion, where he was listed along with the other Daedric Princes), but we didn't learn anything about him apart from his name until the Shivering Isles expansion pack of Oblivion not only established him as the Prince of Order, but provided his on-screen debut in an Elder Scrolls game. According to game designer Ted Peterson, Jyggalag's name was added to that book in case Bethesda needed to introduce another Daedric Prince in a future installment.
    • Movarth, the vampire hunter in Immortal Blood, appears in Skyrim as the lord of a vampire clan. It seems the book's narrator decided to turn him instead of killing him.
  • Elixir of Life: In The Sage, the titular character manages to create a potion that gives him immortality. Unfortunately, it took him a long time to notice the effects since they were so subtle, so he doesn't know the exact recipe, but it does seem to involve certain plants.
  • Enforced Technology Levels: The 3-volume story of Feyfolken is used to explain why this is the case for enchanting tools. Apparently, if the tools are too easy to use, anyone can craft items with powerful enchantments without being aware of the potential ramifications. The story tells of a quill pen enchanted with such tools, which drove its user insane and eventually, to suicide.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy:
    • Palla provides an example for why one better double-check the facts before attempting necromancy.
    • A Tragedy In Black begins with an inexperienced young mage summoning a dremora to do his bidding. Unfortunately, he never learned that accepting a gift breaks the conjuration and frees the dremora when he is given a black soul gem. Naturally, the story ends with him sealed inside that exact gem while the dremora is free to hunt down his mother, noting that he has an extra black soul gem to use...
  • Eye Scream: Another Grim Jest:
    What do you get when you catch a Wood Elf thief?
    The pleasure of pressing a searing hot poker through his eye and into his brain!
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Ragnar the Red. Reportedly a hero of great renown with an ego the size of a bull netch. Eventually, a female warrior got sick of his arrogance and challenged him to a duel. He didn't even last a minute.
  • Fancy Dinner: The Feast of Saint Coellicia describes how an emperor famous for his Decadent Court antics decided to commemorate a saint who died of starvation with a huge feast that lasted a full twelve hours and included 40 exotic dishes, such as birds drowned in fortified wine and eaten whole while the diner wears a cloth draped over their head (ostensibly to trap wine vapors, but really to prevent all the juices and viscera from spraying everywhere)note , swans stuffed with so much filling that some exploded, beehives roasted whole, pottage with duck eyes (the emperor is said to have only told them about this after they were done to invoke I Ate WHAT?!), and bread rolls stuffed with some sort of surprise, like huge pearls or a live dove.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Pig Children paints Orcs as violent savage brutes that are a blight on all of Tamriel.
  • Fearful Symmetry: In The Mirror, the protagonist is an expert at shield based combat. No matter who he fights, he can block and deflect their attacks almost indefinitely, until they slip up and he kills them. Until one day he meets someone with exactly the same fighting style as him, with the same skill level. He loses... and it turns out they were brothers, separated while young. The surviving brother apparently never finds out the truth.
  • Fiery Redhead: Barenziah, according to The Real Barenziah. She ends up dying her hair black after she runs away with Straw, offering an explanation for why she's a brunette when she appears in-person in Daggerfall.
  • First Injury Reaction: In The Hope of the Redoran, Andas is impervious to disease, poison and magic, and "his blood shall never drop on the ground." When he is injured for the first time in his life by an opponent armed with a simple club, he's so stunned that he drops his sword.
  • Flock of Wolves: The author of A Game at Dinner considers the possibility that every one of Helseth's 'trusted' servants could be a spy in the service of another master.
  • Forced Transformation: The evil wizard in A Tale of Kieran turns the princess and queen-to-be into a loathsome grub. The only way to switch her back is to have someone perform an incredible act of kindness.
  • Framing Device:
    • Hallgerd's Tale consists of three fighters discussing who the greatest warrior in history was. The title character comes up with the tale of Pasoroth, a man who was more capable while wearing heavy armor than he was out of it.
    • Vernaccus and Bourlor begins with a man grieving over the death of his cousin. This inspires one of his friends to ponder the nature of legacy, as a setup for a tale about a cowardly daedra whose dodging abilities became greatly exaggerated.
    • Bone starts with two friends arguing whether great events and innovations happen suddenly through pure chance or gradually through hard work. A third friend offers his own position that they occur through extreme circumstances and tells the story of the invention of bonemold armor as an example.
  • Friendly Enemy: When Menegur in The Rear Guard successfully defends a besieged castle for several months singlehandedly, the soldiers in the besieging army line up to shake his hand once a truce is called. They've gained tremendous respect for him and his skills over the course of the campaign, and were only trying to kill him because it was their job.
  • Gamebook: Kolb and the Dragon.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: One of the longer books is "The Wolf Queen," and it's about Potema, a ruthless woman who did everything she could to elevate herself and screw over everyone else. During the last part of her reign, she resorted to hiring tons of necromancers and daedra conjurers. One of her final acts was giving future emperor Pelagius III (then, just a boy) a small charm which would slowly erode his sanity as an adult, just to screw over him and his family after she was gone.
    • She is mentioned in several other books, and (in undead form) shows up in Skyrim. By all appearances, she actually was that bad, although some of the specific things (such as arranging for Pelagius III's insanity) The Wolf Queen implies or outright says she was responsible for do not appear in other sources.
  • Happily Ever After: Certainly seems to be the case with the author of A Scholar's Guide to Nymphs, who journeys into the wilderness to find, and subsequently falls in love with a nymph, describing nymphs as the "wisest, most wonderful creatures in Tamriel." The editor remarks the author has vanished from the civilized world after depositing the manuscript.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Although Weedle hated the "gifts" granted by Namira, they still figured out how to use them to learn the important secrets of others, and eventually became a semi-legendary figure, "The Beggar Prince".
  • Heel Realization: The Lure of the Camonna Tong is an account of how one Dunmer decided to leave the Camonna Tong after an attempt to intimidate an up-and-coming Argonian seamstress goes too far. He urges others to leave too, before they start Slowly Slipping Into Evil.
    So next time you think of the Camonna Tong, of the glamor and the gold? You think of how easy it is for your crooked morals to slip away entirely. How big talk and some drink can lead you down a darker path than you ever realized you were capable of. How easy it is to say nothing, and how much easier to just join along.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In Three Thieves, an assassin partners with two thieves in order to heist a vault with them. To gain their trust, he teaches them some of his favorite methods for killing someone without giving them chance to scream or covering yourself in incriminating bloodstains. When he tries to scam them out of their shares after the heist is over, they use one of his own techniques to murder him in his bed.
    • In the twelve-parter 2920: The Last Year of the First Era, Emperor Reman Cyrodiil III's paranoia that almost everyone he knows is plotting against him (which, frankly, isn't necessarily a bad assumption if you rule a Decadent Court) leads him to commit actions that eventually trigger a successful plot to get him assassinated.
  • Honor Among Thieves: Confessions of a Thief and Honor Among Thieves both espouse this trope, pointing out that members of the Thieves' Guild help keep other members out of prison, warn them of dangers, provide training and supplies, and otherwise help each other out. The former book also describes the guild as a crime-regulator, cracking down on thieves who become greedy.
  • Human Resources: Bone is a gruesome account of the invention of bonemold armor, by a smith who was trapped in a besieged fort with his lord and a gang of slaves. At first he has to forge iron armor from anything metal in the fort not holding it together, then leather armor from the rotting carcasses of livestock, then bonemold armor from the hunks of muscle, fat, blood, and bone not used in the leatherworking. When the lord demands still more armor, the smith resorts to dismembering the slaves and using their bones and organs to create more bonemold.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Posting of the Hunt describes a ritual in which the Daedra hunt mortals using the Spear of Bitter Mercy. According to Spirit of the Daedra, all dremora regard themselves as huntsmen, with mortals as their prey.
  • I Am Who?: The Mystery of Talara is a whole 5 volume series of this. The ending pulls a fast one on the reader and reveals JYLLIA is Talara, not Gyna. Gyna is actually the real Jyllia.
  • Immortals Fear Death: The Dremora interviewed in Spirit of the Daedra claims that even though daedra just resurrect in Oblivion every time their physical body is killed, the process of resurrection is apparently quite horrifying to go through and so they would prefer to avoid it as much as possible. He also claims that daedra simply cannot comprehend how it's possible for mortals to be aware that their deaths are both inevitable and permanent but not constantly be in despair because of it.
  • Impossible Thief: Purloined Shadows chronicles how Emer Dareloth stole the Gray Cowl from Nocturnal, the goddess of shadows, and became the first Gray Fox.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Just about every book that raises the player's Archery skill when read features this trope.
    • The Black Arrow ends with the revelation that this is how someone has been placing an ebony arrow in the heart of a painting of the villain every day, without fail. From a tree, across some distance, through the keyhole and into the painting.
    • The Gold Ribbon of Merit features two men practising archery together, one of whom is acting like an insufferable Jerkass. He spends the whole story alternating between bragging about winning a gold ribbon of merit for archery and criticizing the other guy's technique and skill. After the other guy makes one last shot that goes way off-target and the Jerkass gets in one last condescending comment, the two of them call it a day and go home. The Jerkass then arrives home to find his window broken and an arrow sticking out of his beloved gold ribbon.
  • Insult to Rocks: The author of Confessions of a Thief argues calling a dishonest merchant or priest a thief is an example of this trope, because thieves (or at least those in the Thieves' Guild) at least have sense of honor.
    Thieves got a perfect right to exist in the Empire. People say we're dishonest. Of course, those people are usually either merchants or priests, which really slays me. Sort of the snake calling the worm legless.
  • Interspecies Romance: This is the main focus of the ever popular The Lusty Argonian Maid and its sequels/spin-offs, which are about the lewd encounters between a wealthy guy and his Argonian servant girl.
  • Irony: The Dragon Break Re-Examined by scholarly skeptic Fal Droon argues that the 1008-year Time Crash known as the Middle Dawn is nothing more than a fanciful legend created by ignorant scholars who misinterpreted the dates on documents from the relevant periods, and that any "temporal anomalies" in history are just the result of scholarly errors. The problem? His book is proof that temporal anomalies exist — its first appearance is in Morrowind, during the 3rd Era and the rule of the Septim Dynasty, yet it refers to both of those things as being a part of a distant, primitive past.
  • It's Been Done: "The Argonian Maid—An Oral Tradition" indicates that "The Lusty Argonian Maid" is older than Crassius Curio of the Third Era, as study is from Telenger of 2E 582:
    Telenger the Artificer: According to my research, "The Lusty Argonian Maid" has its origins in a long line of tales told by traveling bards, each with a slightly different title and premise, but the same end result: a female innocent succumbs to the charms of a dominant, married male character.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: How the author of Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader got started at his profession. He and his brother tried to rob a caravan full of animal pelts and hides, and his brother died in the process. He couldn't take the whole body with him before the guards showed up, so he skinned it and took his brother's pelt to take home and bury later. When he went to fence the stolen merchandise, the fence spotted his brother's pelt and offered him three times what she paid for everything else combined. He had a brief moment of disgust, which soon gave way to greed, and it all went downhill from there.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Three of the authors of Exposing a Terrible Evil were killed by a Dark Brotherhood assassin while writing about the group. The first author condemned them as the worst of the worst in his city's Wretched Hive and managed to at least get their name down before getting killed. The second author was his brother, who was not so lucky; he was murdered mid-word while writing down the name of assassin cult's deity. The third was the brother's wife, and this time around, the killer tries to complete the passage she was writing, attempting to convince the reader the group doesn't exist.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: The Renrijra Krin.
    Do not ally yourself with the Renrij if you yearn to be part of a mighty army, marching resolutely forth, for whom retreat is anathema. We will laugh at your suicidal idiocy as we slip into the reeds of the river, and watch the inevitable slaughter.
  • Lady Macbeth: The person running the torturer chamber in The Horror of Castle Xyr turns out not to be the Telvanni mage who owns the castle it is in, but rather his wife.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The uncle in The Axe Man beats and abuses his nephew, Torik, for every little thing, particularly when he doesn't satisfy the former with his chores (which includes sweeping the shelves, ringing the bells, and cleaning the floors). Torik eventually murders him and cleans up the evidence using all the skills he learned during his time with the uncle.
  • The Legend of X: The Legend of Haman Forgefire
  • Love at First Punch: Fjori and Holgeir met on the battlefield, and became lovers.
  • Mind Screw: Applies to the metaphysics and finer theological points of the Elder Scrolls universe anyway, but special mention has to go to the mysterious concept of CHIM briefly (and sketchily) outlined in The 36 Lessons of Vivec. Even mentioning it is certain to provoke hours of heated philosophical discussion in certain corners of the Internet. The idea can mostly be likened to achieving Nirvana, but the specifics are often debated.
  • Madness Mantra: Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack.
  • Mad Oracle: In Chance's Folly, the eponymous thief enlists the help of the strong but insane warrior Ulstyr Moresby to get through a tomb filled with traps and monsters to get the treasure at the end. He agrees and then rattles off a series of seemingly nonsense phrases. One by one, they start coming true, and at one point Ulstyr even addresses her as "Chance", even though she introduced herself by her real name and not her alias. Chance starts getting worried and wonders if the rumour that the insane are in communion with Sheogorath is true, and if he was feeding Ulstyr information. He was.
    • "Chitin": Ulstyr showed up the next day wearing chitin armour. On the way to the tomb there was a massive rainstorm that soaked Chance but Ulstry stayed perfectly dry in his waterproof chitin.
    • "Hot steel": Ulstyr used a sword enchanted with fire damage, which was effective against the Frost Atronachs in the tomb.
    • "Fifty-three": When they reached the treasure room, there were fifty-three sacks of gold inside.
    • "Walls beyond doors": When Chance entered the treasure room, the door slammed shut automatically. From her side, it was indistinguishable from the wall and thus couldn't be opened from that side. She was trapped.
    • "Two months and back": Ulstyr left and came back to the tomb after two months, when Chance had long since starved to death.
    • "Prop a rock": Ulstyr used a rock to prop open the door and stop it from slamming shut on him too, and took all the gold for himself.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The Night Mother, founder and leader of the Dark Brotherhood, has at least three different versions of her back story, told across three different works:
    • Pellarne Assi, author of The Brothers of Darkness, believes the Night Mother to be a Legacy Character - there is no one immortal Night Mother from the Brotherhood's origin to the present day, rather it is a title passed from one leader to the next regardless of gender.
    • Ynir Gorming's Fire and Darkness: The Brotherhoods of Death proposes that the Night Mother is an aspect of Mephala, Daedric Prince of Strife. When the Morag Tong were banned from practising her worship, she engineered a schism that caused the Tong to split into two, with those still willing to worship her becoming the Dark Brotherhood.
    • The author of Sacred Witness, Enric Milres, claimed to have been personally granted an audience with the Night Mother, and by her own accounts, she started out as a low ranking member of the Thieves Guild who strangled her marks to make robbing them easier, and left to found her own guild when she decided that murder was more profitable than theft. He was found dead shortly after the work revealing this was published.
  • Myopic Architecture: Discussed in "Proper Lock Design" — Don't make your lock out of cheap, flimsy materials or else thieves will just smash the lock. At the same time, don't make it out of anything too strong either, or else thieves will just give up on picking it and smash open the thing it's locking instead.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Cake and the Diamond. While she never resorts to physical violence a master alchemist effortlessly outwits a group of thieves, steals most of their diamond, and makes her escape before they can even figure out what is going on.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Shy, unambitious Decumus Scotti from The Argonian Account isn't a villain, but he's happy to do no more work than required of him. When Imperial do-gooders hear about the tragic circumstances of the backwards province of Black Marsh, they're happy to contribute large sums of money to build and improve roads, schools, and plantations. Scotti pockets their money and does utterly nothing about the requests. Within a year, the Imperial infrastructure in Black Marsh has decayed to the point of uselessness, the Argonians have switched back to their much more efficient native methods of transportation and farming, crime and slavery have dried up since there are no more Imperial caravans to rob and no more plantations that need slave labor, and Black Marsh is better off than it has been in forty years.
  • No Man of Woman Born: Andas in The Hope of the Redoran is the subject of a prophectic vision which declares that he shall never suffer pain or injury from blades, magic, disease, or poison, and not a drop of his blood will ever spill on the ground... none of which helps him when his cousin Athyn beats him to death with a club.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • In 2920, Hearth Fire Emperor Reman Cyrodiil has his mistress beheaded for treason (she was innocent). Here it actually takes two strokes, with the first hitting the back of her head.
    • In Hallgerd's Tale Pasoroth beheads the man cuckolding him during the act of cuckolding.
    • Ragnar The Red's fate at the hands of Matilda.
      And the braggart named Ragnar was boastful no more!
      As his ugly red head rolled around on the floor!
    • Gerhild Coldheart in The Legend of Haman Forgefire.
    • The unnamed traveling mage in The Woodcutter's Wife. Unlike most of the other examples of this trope karma immediately catches up with the murderer and they suffer an appropriately horrific curse for their wicked deed.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Common.
  • One-Word Title: Feyfolken.
  • Our Product Sucks: Fools' Ebony, the script of a play, repeatedly gives tongue-in-cheek apologies for how low-quality it is, and assures its readers that it's bawdy as a small consolation.
  • Out with a Bang: In Hallgerd's Tale, Pasoroth sneaks up behind his adulterous wife and her lover and beheads him in the act, then takes over where the dead man left off. All without taking his armor off.
  • Outscare the Enemy: The Art of War Magic describes a battle between the Chimer and the Nords; the Nord shamans send a windstorm to confuse and dismay the Chimer army, but a crafty Chimer sorceror summons an ice demon and orders it to hide out of sight behind the Chimer army. When the Chimer try to retreat from the storm, the ice demon reveals itself and the Chimer, more scared of the demon than the storm, charge back towards the Nords and eventually win the battle.
  • Paranoia Gambit: In Myths of Sheogorath, Ravate, an archmagus, seeks out Sheogorath to beg for untold magics; Sheogorath says that if Ravate is still sane in 3 days' time, then those powers will be granted. Sheogorath then proceeds to sit back and do absolutely nothing while Ravate drives himself mad imagining all the horrible things Sheogorath could possibly have in store for him.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: "The Lopper" in Last Scabbard of Akrash is a Serial Killer who exclusively targets people who are heavily involved in Morrowind's slave trade.
  • Pressure Point: Described in Night Falls on Sentinel, which raises a reader's blunt weapon skill.
  • Priceless Paperweight: A traveling troupe of acrobats in Realizations of Acrobacy unknowingly stole Mehrunes' Razor, an powerful dagger that can instantly kill people, from a Telvanni lord who bilked them of their pay. What do they use it for? Cutting reeds. Granted, they showcase how it can make some amazingly thin sheets of papyrus, but they're still under the impression it's just a "simple ebony blade", not an Artifact of Doom created by a god of destruction.
  • Professional Gambler: Banker's Bet features an old lady named Petuva Smethworthy who makes her living off strange bets. She makes one with a banker where she bets twenty-five thousand gold that in 24 hours, his balls will be covered in feathers. Despite his paranoia, he manages to keep his balls feather-free and proudly allows the old lady to inspect his testicles for any feathers. Ultimately, though, while he has won the bet, she has the last laugh, because she made a even larger one hundred thousand gold bet with her son that she'll have the banker by his balls.
  • Puff of Logic: In The Four Suitors of Benitah, the protagonist, thanks to his magically-augmented intelligence, makes a rival suitor disappear by writing a formula that proves the suitor does not exist.
  • Real-Person Fic: The Real Barenziah is an In-Universe example, being an unauthorized dramatization of Barenziah's life until about the middle of The Elder Scrolls: Arena. The official Biography of Queen Barenziah is a much drier read.
  • The Reveal: In Immortal Blood, the narrator is a vampire.
  • Right Through His Pants: Hallgerd's Tale involves the implication the heavy armor master had sex with his armor still on, and was in fact more, ah, skilled than he was with it off. The mind boggles.
  • Rotating Protagonist: 2920, The Last Year of the First Era is told like this, with the historical (and likely embellished) accounts of nearly a dozen different characters.
  • Rule 34 – Creator Reactions: In-Universe example with The Real Barenziah:
    • In Daggerfall, Barenziah calls the book "cruel and defamatory," says she suppressed its publication and had the author executed, and has attempted ever since to prevent its reemergence.
    • In Tribunal, however, a character with the alias Plitinius Mero claims to be the author, and that Barenziah herself protected him from the Imperial family's retribution by reporting him dead while secretly offering him sanctuary. He suspects this was because she not only knew his account was true but found it enjoyable and amusing.
  • Rule 63: The Sultry Argonian Bard is a gender-flipped version of The Lusty Argonian Maid.
  • Rules Lawyer: Menegur in The Rear Guard uses a long-forgotten law to claim the title of Count of Cascabel (The law, devised in 3E 246, states that any man without a liege who occupies a castle for more than three months is granted the rights and titles of that estate, and Menegur was Cascabel's sole defender during a siege).
  • Sapient Fur Trade: Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, written in prison by a Khajiit who stalks and kills other Khajiit as well as Argonians for the purposes of selling their pelts/hides for vast sums of money, the night before his execution. He ends the book declaring that he will escape from prison and continue his trade, and that someday he will sell even his own pelt for a king's ransom.
  • Schizo Tech: A specific example is used as a plot point in Chimarvamidium; anyone familiar with the dwemer knows that they use Steampunk Golems as weapons of war, but the idea of a flesh-and-blood warrior wearing platemail armor all over their body is a relatively new concept.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Most of the characters in the Beggar, Thief, Warrior, King quadrilogy. Also invoked by the vampires in 'Surfeit of Thieves'.
  • Self-Deprecation: In-Universe example. The Horror of Castle Xyr notes that the Clavides' response of "As, I hear, are all Telvanni," to the line "We're loyal Imperial subjects," should not be read sarcastically. It is also noted to get a laugh out of any audience, regardless of local politics. It also happens to be the trigger for a murderer to attack you when you step in for an actor in the Morrowind expansion Tribunal. The director of the show apologizes and says the original actor was targeted due to banging a Telvanni diplomat's daughter.
  • Self-Insert Fic: The Sultry Argonian Bard to The Lusty Argonian Maid.
  • Sequel Escalation: Arena only had one book, which was the Oghma Infinium artifact, though that served more as a stat boost than something that you were allowed to sit down and read from time to time. Then Daggerfall introduced a couple dozen books and notes that could be obtained and read. As the series progressed, even more books were introduced. As of Online, there are hundreds of novels, manuals, guides, scripts, songs, journals, letters, notes, scrolls, and other documents covering a vast number of subjects (both fictional and non-fictional) and chronicling thousands of years of history and backstory for the land of Tamriel and beyond.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness/Magibabble: Liminal Bridges very much so.
    A transliminal passage of quickened objects or entities without the persistant agency of hyperagonal media is impossible, and even if possible would result in the instantaneous retromission of the transported referents. Only a transpontine circumpenetration of the limen will result in transits of greater than infinitessimal duration...
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Of Fjori and Holgeir. Holgeir is bitten by a snake, and his lover Fjori journeys to Akavir to find a cure. As she brings the cure to Holgeir, she gets bitten by the same snake, and the combination of venom and exhaustion kills her as she uses the antidote to save him. Holgeir orders the construction of a tomb for his lover, and takes his own life in the deepest chamber so he can join her in the afterlife. And then, in Skyrim, their corpses are turned into Draugrs by an insane necromancer. Thankfully, though, the Last Dragonborn can free them and allow them to actually be together at last by defeating them.
  • She Is the King: Pellarne Assi, author of The Brothers of Darkness, believes that the Night Mother is a title that gets passed from one Dark Brotherhood leader to the next regardless of gender.
  • Shields Are Useless: Discussed by Potentate Versidue-Shaie in 2920, vol 1 - Morning Star. His people, the Tsaesci, value mobility over protection when fighting, and are confused by humans who use a "sword and board" fighting style.
    "In our country, if you don't want to get hit, you move out of the way."
  • Sincerity Mode: The Horror of Castle Xyr contains an exchange between Anara and the protagonist where she states that the Xyrs are loyal Imperial subjects; the protagonist replies, "As, I hear, are all Telvanni." The stage directions explicitly state that this line is meant to be read without any audible sarcasm, but also that it never fails to get a laugh from the audience regardless of local political leanings.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Arthcamu in The Locked Room tests his students' speed and skill in lockpicking by locking them in a room with a ravenous vampire; if they can't escape before sunset, the vampire wakes up and kills them.
  • Slashed Throat: Discussed in Three Thieves (which is called Unnamed Book in Morrowind), which features a criminal teaching his two accomplices various techniques for performing this trope. Played fairly realistically in that he warns them that slashing someone's throat will spill out a lot of blood and discusses a couple of methods for dealing with this. Later, the two accomplices kill him using the very same techniques when he attempts to betray the two.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Both the cake and wine are drugged in The Cake And The Diamond.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Ragnar the Red
  • Snowed-In: Happens to the woodcutter's family and a traveling mage in The Woodcutter's Wife when a sudden change in weather forces them to help each other out to survive. Unfortunately, this also leads to the titular woodcutter's wife going crazy from paranoia and murdering the mage in cold blood, earning her a horrible curse as punishment.
  • Surprise Incest: Almost occurred in the fourth book of "The Mystery of Talara". Gyna, believing to be Princess Talara, is set to seduce the Prince who has a not-exactly-consensual BDSM fetish. He's all set to have at her before the paralysis spell does its work. Except that Gyna isn't actually Talara, but the identical cousin, Jylla, who would be the Prince's half-sister.
  • Symploce: Five Songs of King Wulfharth has the titular character asking his soldiers three Where Do You Think You Are? questions at the face of Red Mountain that take Anaphora and turn it into symploce:
    "Don't you see where you really are? Don't you know who Shor really is? Don't you know this war is?'
  • Tiger by the Tail: The author of Sacred Witness sets out to learn more about the Night Mother, but she conscripts him into joining the Dark Brotherhood and forces him to assist them in committing unspeakable crimes. The book ends with the author admitting that the Night Mother will see the book's publication as him breaking his promise to her and that he fears for his life, followed by an editor's note stating the author was found dead with his corpse bearing the Night Mother's Calling Card.
  • Title Confusion: Oblivion contains The Horror of Castle Xyr as The Horrors of Castle Xyr for an In-Universe/meta/something example.
  • Tongue Trauma: Straw's tongue is removed to keep him quiet in The Real Barenziah.
  • Torture Cellar: An extremely nightmarish one shows up about halfway through Horror of Castle Xyr after being discovered on the other side of a hidden passage. Its description is pretty brief, but still [[quite terrifying all the same.
  • Trojan Horse: Chimarvamidium, in which the golem the dwarves gave to the Chimer as a peace offering turns out to be a dwarf warrior wearing platemail.
  • Twist Ending:
    • Done wonderfully in The Mystery of Talara. Despite the book setting up Gyna as Talara, it's revealed she's actually Jyllia and Jyllia is Talara.
    • In Palla, it turns out the mage did actually succeed in his attempts of resurrection, except that he had the names confused and instead of resurrecting the heroine he wished to meet, he brought back the monster that killed her.
    • A marvelous one with The Charwich-Koniinge Letters. It appears at first that the titular Charwich had been murdered by a Daedric lord disguised as a mysticist, but those with a knowledge of the series (and especially Azura's Star) will find that very unlikely indeed...
    • In Night Falls On Sentinel, Haballa takes Jomic out back to show him who she wants removed. Then a gust of air pushes back her cape, revealing that she's working for the King of Sentinel and Jomic just told her everything he needed to know to exact his revenge against him and his (now dead) companions, the last remaining element being Jomic's death. Haballa, with Jomic's advice on clubs and pain centers, starts beating Jomic in each center one by one.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Haman Forgefire from Legend of Haman Forgefire was stated to be the best blacksmith in the land and would forge for many great rulers and nobles. Unfortunately, his widespread fame and renown inspired plenty of jealousy in his rivals... leading to one of them making a pact to murder him to steal his spotlight... which then proceeds to go very poorly for the both of them.
  • Unequal Rites: Bero's Speech to the Battlemages and Response to Bero's Speech. Bero is an illusionist who thinks poorly of the school of Destruction and makes a speech arguing that it deserves to be a subset of the Alteration school rather than a school in its own right. The battlemage Malvisor responds by pointing out multiple fallacies in Bero's arguments, claiming an illusionist has no place criticizing a school he hasn't studied for himself and taking a few snipes against Bero and his favored school of magic in the process:
    "It certainly isn't a coincidence that a master of the School of Illusion cast this attack on the School of Destruction. Illusion is, after all, all about masking the truth."
  • The Unpronouncable: "Ayalea", a Nymph from the Daggerfall in-game book A Scholar's Guide to Nymphs is, the author admits, merely "a poor phonetic transcription" of her real name, which is "a word that sounds more like a light wind blowing through a small crack in a hollow chamber."
  • Unreliable Narrator/Unreliable Expositor: Sorting fact from fiction is a little hard here. Contradictory accounts are given in both the books themselves and in in-universe reactions to them.
  • Vagina Dentata: Inverted (and downplayed — it's painful, but it apparently doesn't result in any lasting damage) in the Daggerfall version of The Real Barenziah where it is mentioned that Khajiit penises are barbed (like feline penises in Real Life). This passage was Bowdlerized In-Universe in later Elder Scrolls games.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: The Axe Man contains an unintentional example. An orphan used by his uncle for labor uses the skills learned to murder said uncle and clean up after himself.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing:
    • Some of the Sixteen Accords of Madness and Myths of Sheogorath portray Sheogorath as being capable of driving his victims to madness or defeating his rivals by simply letting them follow their own natures without him needing to lift a finger.
    • In "The Argonian Account", Decumus Scotti is hired to overhaul the infrastructure of a trade network in Black Marsh, but his survey of the area shows him that Black Marsh is unsuited to roads, bridges, wagons or anything his Imperial backers expect him to invest in. So he quietly embezzles the stakeholder's investment for himself and leaves the network to collapse, and the Argonians return to their traditional methods of transporting goods which are more efficient and suited to Black Marsh.
  • The Wise Prince: Prince Juilek, son of Reman III. He's a great warrior and intelligent statesman whose diplomacy skills earn him the respect of the Tribunal. His assassination is the first nail in the Reman Dynasty's coffin, with his father spiraling even further into paranoia as a result.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The wife in Cabin in the Woods. She thinks she's in a Deal with the Devil type of horror story and she's The Hero slaying the evil demon. She's in a horror story all right, but she's the Ax-Crazy villain who butchers an innocent mage and suffers a horrific curse of undeath as punishment.
  • The X of Y: Multiple books, such as:
    • Sixteen Accords of Madness
    • 36 Lessons of Vivec
    • Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader
    • The Horror of Castle Xyr
    • The Mystery of Talara
    • Myths of Sheogorath
    • The Posting of the Hunt
    • Songs of Skyrim
    • Spirit of the Daedra
  • You Are Number 6: According to Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st edition, Altmer from the Summerset Isles don't have names, just combinations of numbers that sound like such to the few humans who visit the isles and hear them speaking to one another.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: A Game at Dinner ends with the narrator informing their employer that, whatever horrors they may have already seen in their long existence, the manner in which Burgess died is something they do not want to know.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Played for laughs in Ahzirr Traajijazeri.
    "Life is short. If you have not made love recently, please, put down this book, and take care of that with all haste. Find a wanton lass or a frisky lad, or several, in whatever combination your wise loins direct, and do not under any circumstances play hard to get. Our struggle against the colossal forces of oppression can wait."
    "Good. Welcome back."