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Note: Elder Scrolls lore is generally not clear-cut. Reasons for this range from biased in-universe sources intentionally only giving you only one side of a story, to sources lacking critical information or working from false information, to the implication that All Myths Are True, despite the contradictions, or that at least all myths are Metaphorically True. Out-of-game developer supplemental texts (frequently referred to as "Obscure Texts" by the lore community) are more trustworthy, but are frequently left unofficial and sometimes later contradicted. Because of this, it is entirely possible for two contradictory statements in the below examples to both be true. (And due to frequent events in-universe that alter the timeline, both may literally be true in-universe.)

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The Elder Scrolls - Tropes 0 to A

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     0 - 9 
  • 0% Approval Rating:
    • This is the case for Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption. While many of the Daedric Princes are Jerkass Gods, all have at least some redeeming qualities which earn them some respect from mortals, even if they aren't particularly liked. Not Molag Bal, who is universally despised by every culture in Tamriel. He is the closest thing in the series to a true God of Evil and is a being pure malevolence with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Among his servants, the only ones who genuinely like him are are those who don't know him very well and those who have become enthralled by the power he's granted them. And it's only a matter of time before he betrays the former group, or converts them into one of the latter...
    • The Wolf Queen Potema, remembered as one of Tamriel's most outright evil monarchs. How evil? She started a civil war to get her son crowned as Emperor, she murdered the legitimate heir, and when her son was caught and killed, she resorted to raising the fallen on both sides as undead to fight for her. By the end, she was a terrifying psychopath waited on by skeletal chambermaids and consorting with vampires. After a protracted 10-year insurgency, she was finally killed.
    • The 4th Era incarnation of the Thalmor, an Altmeri religious extremist sect who stole credit for resolving the Oblivion Crisis within their homeland and used it to reach the highest levels of the Altmeri government before seceding from the Empire and reforming the Aldmeri Dominion of old. They are despised by, essentially, every single non-Thalmor in Tamriel, including other Altmer (who accuse them of being walking stereotypes of the worst qualities of the Altmer people).
  • 100% Adoration Rating: Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who ascended after his death as Talos, the Ninth Divine, has this among the races of Men, especially the Imperials and Nords. He's remembered as a great hero of mankind, the unifier of Tamriel, and as the ideal all men should aspire to become. (Don't get the elves, especially the Thalmor, started on him though...)
  • 100% Heroism Rating: Played with throughout the series as you finish the main quest and faction questlines in each game. In some cases, people treat you as the legendary hero you are. In others, you're left asking "Dude, Where's My Respect?". For a full breakdown by game, see the trope page.
  • 108: Used prominently throughout the series, especially in background lore. To note:
    • 108 itself - A number commonly associated with Akatosh, the chief deity of the Nine Divines pantheon.
    • 1+0+8 - Essentially 9, a recurring Arc Number for the series, usually expressed in the form of 1+8. There are 9 Divines in the Imperial religion, comprising 8 conventional gods and 1 human who became a god. There are traditionally 9 provinces in the Cyrodiilic Empire (Cyrodiil itself and 8 others), and 9 districts and principal cities in the provinces of Skyrim and Cyrodiil (both the capital plus 8 others). The Amulet of Kings has 8 small jewels and 1 large jewel. There are eight 'Towers' sustaining the barriers between the realms, and one 'zeroth stone' that is the origin of their power. Even the universe itself is said to be shaped like a wheel with 8 spokes, the '+1' being the solid line made when viewed on it's side.
    • 1008 - the very first and longest lasting Dragon Break, a type Time Crash with Cosmic Retcon like effects associated with the aforementioned Akatosh, lasted precisely 1008 years. How could they tell how much time passed despite time being non-linear during that period? They used the cycles of Nirn's two moons, which are said to be the "flesh divinity" (i.e. the sundered, rotting corpse) of the dead creator god and was thus unaffected, to tell how much time had passed.
    • 100008 - See also "O Aka! I beg you one hundred thousand and eight times!" from the Alduddaggas.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Several games in the series grant you an ability mid-late in the main quest that are extremely helpful. Even in such wide open games, you'll see many players power through the main quest until the point you receive these powers simply because they make progressing anywhere else in the game much easier. Examples include gaining Ideal Illness Immunity in Morrowind (where the setting is positively rife with Common and Blight diseases which lower your attributes and hinder progress) and the "Dragon Rend" shout in Skyrim, which makes random dragon encounters far easier.
  • 20 Bear Asses: A frequent quest type throughout the series. Playing with it a bit, you don't always have to collect the animal part in question directly from slain animals. You can purchase the quantity required and they'll work just the same.
  • 24-Hour Armor:
    • You can choose to play it straight as the Player Character throughout the series. There is nothing preventing you from wearing armor at all times.
    • In terms of Non Player Characters, it is played with by different games within the series. Earlier titles have static NPCs who play this trope straight. Oblivion and Skyrim give NPCs have more elaborate schedules and they usually avert the trope by removing their armor and switching to more comfortable clothes when going to sleep, but you'll still come across the odd NPC (usually a generic bandit or some such) sleeping in their armor.

    A 
  • Abandoned Mine: Appear quite frequently in the series as places to explore. A good number of still-operational mines are also seen.
  • Above Good and Evil:
    • Most of the various forms of deity qualify. While the mortals of Tamriel often regard the Divines as outright "Good" and some of the Daedric Princes (Azura, Meridia) as well, scholars both in-universe and out among the fandom argue that the deities follow Blue and Orange Morality above mortal understanding, with none wholly good or evil. The "Good" ones only seem that way because what they seek to accomplish is generally beneficial or benevolent toward mortals, while the "Evil" ones are more likely to harm mortals with their actions. For instance, Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric Prince of Destruction, but is no more "evil" than a tidal wave or an earthquake.
    • The Morag Tong, a legal assassin's guild of Professional Killers in Morrowind, consider themselves to be this, as does the Dunmeri government which sanctioned them. The Tong has a set of strict rules and a code of honor in terms of performing executions, maintaining a policy of impartiality. They were sanctioned as an alternative to the destructive Allowed Internal Wars of the Great Houses, which weaken the Dunmer overall.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Throughout the series, this applies to a startling number of magic users, particularly within the Mages Guild. While they tend to be incredibly skilled in their particular area of magical expertise, and can typically provide training to others in that area, they are almost comically inept in other phases of their jobs and tend to be completely ignorant of this fact. Additionally, the Mages Guild tends to have major issues with The Peter Principle when it comes to promoting members. Being skilled with magic does not automatically translate to being a skilled administrator, leading to many Pointy Haired Bosses in high-ranking positions within the Guild. When they became detrimental, they'd either be Kicked Upstairs and/or Reassigned to Antarctica to keep them out of them way.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Throughout the series, the Daedric Prince Azura has fluctuated between this trope, Barbie Doll Anatomy, and Nipple and Dimed in her various appearances. Namira likewise fits the trope in her avatars and statues.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Found frequently throughout the series, though usually Justified. For example, Vivec and Riften are each a City of Canals, so the large sewers act as flood controls and extra storage space. Mournhold and the Imperial City are built on top of the ruins of older cities, of which the sewers are part.
  • Abusive Precursors:
    • The Ayleids, the "Wild Elves" of Cyrodiil, were a fairly extreme example. They initially split off from their Aldmeri ancestors to get around the (Aedra worshiping) Aldmeri ban on Daedra worship and would eventually found Tamriel's first empire in Cyrodiil. They enslaved the Nedes (human ancestors to the Bretons, Imperials, and possibly Nords), and some of their more horrific acts toward these slaves included: forcing them all to work naked, force-feeding them hallucinogenic drugs and watching their reactions, creating sculptures out of their bones, creating gardens out of their entrails, and setting human children on fire then siccing hungry animals on them. Eventually, under the leadership of Alessia and with the support of the Aedra who would eventually be recognized as the "Divines" (who were obviously not too happy with the Ayleids' Daedra worship), their human slaves rose up and revolted, driving the Ayleids to near-extinction (save for the few who sided with the humans and were allowed to keep their lands as vassals to the new empire of Men). About a century later, the young empire took up an extremist anti-Elven religion and drove out the remaining Ayleids as well as destroyed any vestiges of Ayleid culture they could find, driving them to apparent extinction as a unique race.
    • The Dwemer, the "Deep Elves" or "Dwarves" whose ancient territory spanned all of north Tamriel from Hammerfell across Skyrim to Morrowind, were another. Their split with the Aldmer was also over religion, though in their case they were Naytheists who did not believe the Aedra and Daedra were truly "gods" worth worshiping. They were a highly intelligent race who created technology that remains unmatched by the other races even thousands of years after their disappearance. They largely wanted to be left alone by the other races, but still tended to war with any they came into contact with (the Chimer and Nords being particular examples). These behaviors, on their own, would make them closer to Neglectful Precursors, but their treatment of the Falmer ("Snow Elves") puts them firmly in the "Abusive" category. With their former empire decimated by the invading Nords, the Dwemer offered to take in their displaced Snow Elf cousins. The Dwemer then enslaved and mutated them, turning them into the modern Falmer. Eventually, the Dwemer did something which caused their entire race to blink out of existence.
    • The dragons and their Dragon Cults ruled over mankind very early in Tamriellic history. The Dragon Priests dominated and brutalized their mortal subjects in the name of their dragon overlords, particularly Alduin, the Beast of the Apocalypse and "first born" of the dragons. Eventually, mankind prayed to the Divines for aid and their prayers were answered when they were taught how to use the Thu'um, the draconic Language of Magic, against the dragons. Alduin was cast out of the timestream, the vast majority of his dragon minions were slain (albeit temporarily), and the cults were overthrown. Thousands of years later, Alduin's return would lead to the return of all dragons and the events of Skyrim.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Reman Cyrodiil, the founder of the Second Cyrodiilic Empire, was no older than 13 when coronated. According to the in-game book Remanada, he was still an infant. This proved to be well-justified, as Reman was a Child Prodigy who, along with his status as The Chosen One (having been born possessing the Amulet of Kings), quickly brought both halves of Cyrodiil back together (Colovia and Nibenay) and then the other kingdoms of Men, High Rock and Skyrim.
  • Achilles' Heel: The Ka Po' Tun "tiger folk" of Akavir are said to be the most powerful empire in Akavir following a war with the Tsaesci, but have an extreme weakness when it comes to sea warfare.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity:
    • Throughout the series, this is a racial trait of the Argonians. Living in the Black Marsh with so many poisonous and toxic lifeforms has made the Argonians almost totally immune to natural and magical poisons. Likewise, the Bosmer and Redguards typically have lesser (around 50%) natural racial resistances to poisons.
    • The Khajiit are far less susceptible to the Fantastic Drug, Moon Sugar. Moon Sugar is sacred in their culture, and they believe it to be "crystallized moonlight." Nearly all of their food uses it in some form or another, hardening their bodies to it. Still, overeating the sweetest of Khajiit foods can overwhelm even their resistance.
  • Action Girl:
    • In any game in the series, a female Player Character will be this. She'll save the world from all manner of supernatural threats (sometimes punching out one or more Cthulhus in the process), become the leader of multiple powerful Guilds and Factions, and, in almost all cases, acquire or develop abilities that make her damn near a Physical God in battle prowess.
    • Late in the 1st Era, the Tribunal deity Almalexia banished Mehrunes Dagon after an epic battle when he was summoned to destroy Old Mournhold. Later, she (along with Wulfharth and the Underking) defeated the forces of Ada'Soom Dir Kamal at Red Mountain during the Akaviri invasion of Morrowind. She's also the "Fighter" in the Tribunal's Fighter, Mage, Thief trio.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Generally averted throughout the series. All items have a "base price", with the actual price you pay based on a number of factors including (depending on the game) your related attributes/skills (Personality, Speechcraft, Mercantile), the merchant's disposition, and faction association between you and the merchant. While there is some variance from merchant to merchant due to these factors, the same item will cost relatively the same amount regardless of whether you're buying it one hour into the game or one-hundred. A few especially notable examples and exceptions are available on the trope page under the appropriate game.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: Countless throughout the series. Frequently, they are named for fictional animals within the ES universe, such as the "Winged Guar" or "Winking Skeever."
  • Admiring the Abomination: Throughout the series, one can find many characters with an interest (or outright obsession) with one or more of the setting's many supernatural creatures. Far from being Nightmare Fetishists, they usually have a healthy respect for the power of the creates they study.
  • Adult Fear: In addition to the usual "being preyed upon while you sleep" fear inherent to all vampires, the Telboth vampire bloodline of Valenwood is known to prey upon children. The Telboth are then said to take the place of those children, eventually killing the entire family.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The former cities of the Dwemer are this along with being Underground Cities. Since the Dwemer mysteriously disappeared thousands of years ago, their cities have fallen to ruins. However, the Dwemer were extremely technologically advanced, with their creations unmatched by any other group in the thousands of years since. They were masters of combining enchantment-based Magitek with Steam Punk machinery, and were known to bend the laws of nature and physics to make their creations last. It is all now Lost Technology, and their ruins still have Eternal Engines running and Mecha-Mooks on patrol. Their citadels around Red Mountain in Vvardenfell, the former epicenter of Dwemer culture, and Blackreach, the former Dwemer capital of Skyrim, are especially massive and advanced.
  • Adventure-Friendly World:
    • Tamriel is dotted with countless ruins, smuggler dens, bandit caves, cultist hideouts, necromancer lairs, ancient tombs and just about any other standard fantasy "dungeon" you can imagine. A large part of the series' popularity is the openness of the world that allows you to explore all of these places whenever and however you want. Need some quick gold? There will always be some sort of dungeon within a stone's throw of wherever you are at, full of things to kill and valuables to take.
    • In particular, High Rock, home of the Bretons, supports an adventure friendly culture. Rising in class by performing quests and services to curry favor with various rulers is considered the best way to do so, which has created a cultural "quest obsession" among young Bretons.
  • Adventure Guild: Various Guilds and Factions are joinable in each game starting with Daggerfall. They tend to be more function-specific and function more like actual medieval guilds than the odd job clearinghouses that epitomize this trope. The Fighters Guild comes closest to the standard definition of the trope, offering tasks ranging from low-end critter killing to being Bounty Hunters to protection services to, at the high-end, dealing with supernatural threats, along with the Companions in Skyrim.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: The Mages Guild (or local equivalent) frequently engages in this. Doubling as the guild for scholars and historians, members will plumb the depths of dangerous ancient ruins looking for the artifacts and arcane knowledge within. Often, they will hire mercenaries to serve as guards against the dangers. Given how often the Player Character is sent out to rescue them or complete the expedition in their place, this can be seen as one of the most dangerous jobs in all of Tamriel.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • The series in general plays with this. You can find a vast mix of names within the Tamriel, from the exotic (Mannimarco, Wadarkhu) to the common (Jon, Jim) but most of the races have their own naming conventions (based heavily in their Counterpart Cultures,) and stick to those naming conventions. So it's generally played straight for the world as a whole and ranges from downplayed to averted within the races themselves. Exceptions do exist, but they are fairly rare. (Take, for example, Emperor Uriel Septim VII, and his sons, Geldall, Enman, Ebel, and....Martin. Granted, the last one is illegitimate, but...)
    • The Nord race averts it in general, taking their names from their Scandinavian counterpart culture. However, this trope comes into play with the real world time periods their names are drawn from. You can see Nords with perfectly modern names like Jon and Harold living side by side with Nords who have more classic medieval Norse names like Ulfgar and Ragnar.
  • A Father to His Men:
    Talos: "You have suffered for me to win this throne, and I see how you hate jungle. Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you."
    • The ancient Nordic hero Ysgramor was one both in the figurative sense, and, to a degree, in the literal sense. He's known as the father of the Nordic people and to a lesser extent, of all mankind (in Septim propaganda). Every Nordic king has claimed at least some ancestry with him.
  • Affably Evil: Played straight by quite a few villains and villanous organizations throughout the series. These include a number of the Daedric Princes (Hircine, Hermaeus Mora, Peryite, Sanguine, Sheogorath) as well as most members of the Thieves Guild, most members of the Dark Brotherhood, Dagoth Ur and a number of his minions, Elenwen...
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • This is implied to be the case for Nirn's Alien Sky. The two moons? The rotting "flesh divinity" of the "sundered" "dead" creator god, Lorkhan. The eight planets? The bodies of the eight Aedra who aided Lorkhan in creating Mundus, the mortal plane, and were thus bound to it. (Other theories state that the planets are their "bodies" after they died during creation (similar to Lorkhan and the moons), but now "dream" that they are alive and thus, can still influence the world.) The sun and stars? Holes punched from Mundus into Aetherius, the realm of magic, by Magnus and his followers, the Magna-Ge or "star orphans", who bailed out on creation rather than be bound to it like the Aedra. The nebulae visible at night? Magic flowing into Mundus from Aetherius. It's all implied to look this way because it's all your mortal mind can comprehend.
    • This is likewise the case for the Daedric Princes. According to some interpretations, the Daedric planes are the Daedric Princes is a Genius Loci way. The vast majority of the Princes will take more humanoid forms when dealing with mortals, with Hermaeus Mora as the main exception. In all cases, it is speculated that mortals Cannot Grasp Their True Forms, similar to the Alien Sky example of Lorkhan and the Aedra above.
  • After the End: C0DA is an "obscure text" written by former series writer (and occasional freelance contributor) Michael Kirkbride (with support from current Bethesda writer Kurt Kuhlmann). Numidium has made Landfall. The Thalmor won, time is unbound, Nirn is uninhabitable, and the survivors eke out a living under the surface of the moon. Humans are ambiguously extinct, as the only races seen in the comic outside of flashbacks are Dunmer, Khajiit, and Hist. In the Morrowind expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, the URL for the C0DA website is referenced (in code), making it something of a Canon Immigrant Easter Egg.
    "Go here: world without wheel, charting zero deaths, and echoes singing," Seht said, until all of it was done, and in the center was anything whatever.
  • The Ageless:
    • Though there are many regional variations on their appearances and powers, vampires typically have this trait throughout the series. However, there's a catch: if a vampire goes too long without feeding, they'll go irrevocably insane.
    • The Sload, a race of "slugmen" native to the "Coral Kingdoms" of Thras to the west of Tamriel, have no known age limit or size to adult Sload. One story tells of an "Elder Distended One," who seems to serve as some sort of leader to the Sload. It is said to be "impressively corpulent" and regurgitates some unknown substance that other Sload then "eagerly consume."
    • Those suffering from the Corprus disease. They become immune to all other disease and stop aging completely. However, they also slowly lose their minds and develop a bad case of Body Horror. The Nerevarine in Morrowind has the negative effects cured, leaving only the positive ones in tact.
    • Dragons, as Aedric entities with immortal souls. Though their physical forms still experience wear and tear (as can be seen with Paarthurnax), they never effectively die of old age, and in most cases, get Stronger with Age. Combining this with Resurrective Immortality, their bodies may be destroyed, but they can be recreated as long as their soul persists to go back into it. They can only truly be "killed" if another dragon (or Dragonborn) absorbs their soul.
  • A God Am I: Most of the deities in the series avoid this, but the various Deities Of Mortal Origin are prone to these sorts of rants. Dagoth Ur and the Dunmeri Tribunal, for example, were known for this. (Jarring in Vivec's case who is renowned to be the one least prone to those, but will give such a spiel if you confront him on what the Tribunal has done, asking you who you are to question a god.) Mannimarco, the King of Worms, is another known to act this way.
  • A God Is You: In several cases, the player character of the game obtains abilities, powers, or traits which make them into god-like entities (Morrowind to a degree, Oblivion at the end of Shivering Isles) or are born with these traits already (the Dragonborn in Skyrim).
  • Agony of the Feet: According to the in-game book Remanada, the specter of St. Alessia (leader of the Alessian Revolt and founder of the First Cyrodiilic Empire) appears with mangled feet from Walking the Earth after becoming a demigod/saint. (And despite the amount of walking in the games themselves, this thankfully doesn't happen to the Player Character.)
  • A.I. Breaker: Various options exist throughout the series, most often taking advantage of Artificial Stupidity by one means or another. A full breakdown by game is available on the trope page.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The extinct Dwemer created all manner of Mecha-Mooks which are said to be capable of interpreting the actions of people around them and responding accordingly. Given that the Dwemer were known to bend the laws of nature and phyics to make their creations last, many are still up and running even thousands of years after the Dwemer's disappearance. Various attempts to control these "animunculi" have been made in the millennia since the Dwemer vanished, often ending with the machines going berserk.
  • The Alcatraz:
    • Most provinces have at last one of these, including the Ministry of Truth in Morrowind and "The Chill" in Skyrim.
    • The Imperial City prison is treated as one in-universe, but it is subverted when you consider that two games (Arena and Oblivion) force you to break out of it at the start of the game. (You do get some help in Oblivion, but you can return later during the Dark Brotherhood questline to break in and it's still quite easy.)
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Alchemy is a magically classed skill portrayed as a type of scientific magic; when you Item Craft potions, you're distilling the ingredients (using a mortar and pestle, retort, etc). However you appear to be extracting the "magic" from them rather than more mundane chemical compounds (some of the in-universe literature even uses this to justify the Health Food trope; chewing certain foods releases their basic properties, but not as well as properly mixing them would).
  • The Alcoholic:
    • This is within the sphere of Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism. Sanguine's M.O. is to tempt mortals into sin through vice, with alcohol being a common component. Sanguine himself is often seen with some form of drink in his hand, even in his statues. In Skyrim, his quest even begins with a drinking contest at an inn.
    • This is a common trait of the Rieklings - small, primitive, blue-skinned humanoids native to Solstheim who somewhat resemble ice goblins. They are known for collecting and hording detritus scavenged from the more civilized races, which they "form strange attachments to" and can even be witnessed worshiping. Above all else, they love scavenging any alcoholic beverages they can get their hands on, which they refer to as "fizzydrink."
  • Alien Geometries:
    • The island of Artaeum combines this with Bizarrchitecture and, to an extent, being an Eldritch Location. Artaeum is the home of the Psijic Order, a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel. Artaeum shifts continuously either at random or by decree of the Psijiic Council, often in impossible ways. It can also be made to disappear entirely from Mundus.
    • The Daedric ruins of Morrowind, built by the ancient Daedra-worshiping Chimer, they are massive monolithic structures constructed in some truly impossible ways.
  • Alien Hair: The Argonians, the closest thing to an 'alien' playable race, have horns, flexible spikes, fins, rigid spikes and feathers in place of hair.
  • Alien Lunch:
    • The Bosmer are bound to some unusual dietary restrictions due to the Green Pact, a deal they made with their patron deity to never harm the plant life in the forests of their homeland, Valenwood. Because they cannot harm the plant life in any way, they live on an almost strictly carnivorous diet (though it also includes honey, dairy, and mushrooms which do not count as plants), essentially Inverting Veganopia. In order to get around these restrictions, they are also known to eat a variety of insects. Thunderbugs in particular are used along with rotten meat to create the alcoholic beverage "Rotmeth." Additionally, they are known to smoke insects in their bone pipes instead of the usual plant matter smoked by most races. These restrictions are significantly relaxed for Bosmer living outside of Valenwood.
    • The Sload, a race of "slugmen" native to the Coral Kingdoms of Thras to the west of Tamriel, are said to serve various molds and fungi as meals. One account even mentions Sload consuming a regurgitated substance from one of their elders.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: This is a belief (though seemingly not a true rule) of the Psijic Order, a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel. While they do offer to serve as advisors (a sacred duty which they call "seliffrnsae," meaning "grave and faithful counsel",) they do not intervene in the affairs of other groups, preferring to let events play out from afar. The few times they've violated this have been to avert events with The End of the World as We Know It level consequences (such as sinking the Maormer fleet and confiscating the Eye of Magnus). They've even been known to remove all trace of Artaeum, their home island, from the physical world during times of extreme political chaos presumably so no one group could attempt to use them against another.
  • Alien Sky:
    • Essentially, every celestial body visible from Nirn is implied to be something extremely alien, and its appearance is implied to be your mortal mind making it into something you can grasp. Specifically:
      • The sun and stars are not mundane balls of flaming plasma and gas, but are instead holes punctured in the fabric of reality by Magnus (the et'Ada of light and magic who served as the "architect" for Mundus) and the Magna-Ge (his lesser et'Ada followers) as they fled Mundus during its creation. The holes lead to Aetherius, the realm of magic, and through them, magic flows into Mundus (which is visible in the night sky as nebulae).
      • Nirn's two moons, Masser and Secunda, go through technically impossible phases and when they aren't full, you can see stars behind the dark parts ("hollow crescents"). They are said to be the "decaying remains" (or "flesh-divinity") of the dead creator god, Lorkhan, remaining from when his body was sundered and his heart ("divine spark") was cast down onto Nirn. (An alternate theory, notably espoused by Mankar Camoran, is that Mundus is the Daedric plane of Lorkhan/Shor/Sep/Sheor/Shezarr/Lorkahj, and the moons Masser and Secunda are the rotting corpses of the gods they were named after, and are minor planes in themselves.)
      • The eight planets visible in the night sky are said to be the realms of the Aedra, or Eight Divines, who made large sacrifices to aid Lorkhan in the creation of Mundus. (Another theory states that they are the remains of the Aedra, similar to Lorkhan and the moons, who actually died during creation but now "dream they are alive".)
    • The various Daedric planes of Oblivion all have very alien skies. Mehrunes Dagon's Deadlands have swirling red storm clouds. Sheogorath's Shivering Isles have huge, multicolored stars and nebulae streaked across a deep purple night. Hermaeus Mora's Apocrypha has his floating tentacles blotting out the sky. Sovngarde and the Soul Cairn, while not technically Daedric planes, also qualify as otherworldly realms with alien skies.
  • All Beer Is Ale: Averted throughout the series. While generic "ale" is present in some games, there are also a wide variety of other alcoholic beverages including generic beer, wine, brandy, whiskey, and mead.
  • The All-Concealing "I":
    • The series does a visual version of this prior to the character customization portion of the game, which combined with First-Person Ghost, makes it impossible to make out any of your character's features before the player designs them.
    • The series' recurring in-game book Immortal Blood does this with the narrator. The "I" hides the fact that he is a vampire himself.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Hammerfell, despite it being otherwise closer to a North African desert. Averted in places which are desert-like (the Ashlands on Vvardenfell, for instance,) but don't fit the traditional idea most people have of deserts.
  • All Genes Are Codominant:
    • Averted in individual instances. Several in-game books and backstory details state that half-breed children favor their mother's side almost completely, with a few of the father's traits potentially sprinkled in. For example, if an Altmer father and Nord mother produce a child, it wouldn't be a Magic Knight combination of each race. Instead, the child would be almost entirely Nord with the potential of having some Altmeri traits, such as slight points to his ears, higher cheekbones, or a slightly different skin tone.
    • Over the course of many generations, however, this trope can eventually occur. This is how the Breton race came to be. Their (human) ancestors were Breeding Slaves to the Direnni Altmer of High Rock. Over the course of many generations, some of the Elven traits started to come through with greater dominance. This has led the Bretons to be the most magically inclined race of Men in Tamriel at the cost of some of the Humans Are Warriors traits of the other races of Men. (Though they are still far more Man than Mer.)
  • All Germans Are Nazis: An in-universe fantasy equivalent occurs in series with the Thalmor, A Nazi by Any Other Name racist and religious extremist sect which rose to the top of the Altmeri government following the Oblivion Crisis and reestablished the Aldmeri Dominion of old. However, not all Altmer support the Thalmor, something which Non-Thalmor Altmer are usually quick to point this out. (In Skyrim, the famous line "the first country the Thalmor took over was their own", or a variation, appears both in dialogue and in in-game books detailing the events of the Thalmor takeover.)
  • The Alliance:
    • St. Alessia was able to rebel against and eventually overthrow Cyrodiil's Ayleid rulers by forming an alliance between Cyrodiil's native humans, rebel Ayleids lords, the Nordic Empire to the north, her demi-god husband Morihaus, and her champion Pelinal Whitestrake. Together they captured Cyrodiil and, after some clever manipulation by Alessia in regards to the groups' conflicting pantheons, remained together to forge the First Empire of men out of Cyrodiil.
    • During the Interregnum following the fall of the Second Empire and the rise of Tiber Septim's Third Empire, several alliances formed out of the former provinces of the Empire to repel various threats - The Daggerfall Covenant, The Ebonheart Pact, and the Aldmeri Dominion. Tensions remained high between the traditional enemy races within, but each showed that they could work together toward a common enemy.
    • After the Sload, a race of slug-men from the kingdom of Thras off the coast of Tamriel, released an artificial plague which wiped out up to half the population of Tamriel, all of the nations in western Tamriel combined their navies to form the All Flags Navy to enact revenge on the Sload. The largest naval force ever assembled in Tamriel sunk most of Thras beneath the sea, and the Sload have never again threatened Tamriel in such a way.
  • Alliance Meter: Daggerfall and Morrowind each have "faction reputation" as a hidden stat. As you join and progress through the ranks of the various guilds and factions, the disposition of NPCs in allied and rival factions will increase or decrease accordingly.
  • All in a Row: Starting with the series' 3D Leap in Morrowind, followers and escorts will follow you in this manner. They'll spread out when engaged in combat, but will return to follow you immediately after. Hopefully.
  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu:
    • Prior to Skyrim dropping classes, the series had Monk as a standard class. Hand to Hand tends to be the main combat skill of the class, though Blunt Weapon also gets a boost. Given the nature of Tamriel, it is actually rather justified that even the members of a religious order be able to defend themselves.
    • True for the Blades, an order of knights sworn to protect the Emperor as spies and bodyguards, although it's less kung fu and more sword-fighting. Retired or undercover Blades frequently take on the role of Monks in the Order of Talos.
  • All Myths Are True: In the series' lore, this is the implication of the many differing religious beliefs and creation myths. While there are many shared elements, there are numerous contradictions as well. Despite this, they all seem to have elements of truth regardless of the contradictions. At the very least, it is implied that all myths are at least Metaphorically True.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • This is the case for several of the Daedric Princes. To note:
      • Malacath, the Daedric Prince of Pariahs, the Spurned, and the Ostracized, is not considered a "true" Daedra by the other Princes. (Given his sphere, this is rather appropriate.)
      • Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, is feared and despised by the other Daedric Princes both for his immense power and for his basis in "order", compared to the basis in "chaos" most of the other Princes have. Even Malacath, not considered a "true" Daedra by the other Princes, is more highly regarded than Jyggalag. As Sheogorath puts it:
      "Malacath is more popular at parties! And Malacath is not popular at parties!"
      • Meridia is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is obscured to mortals, but is associated with Life Energy, Light, and Beauty. Meridia was originally one of the Magna-Ge, the "star orphans" who who fled Mundus (the mortal realm) part way through its creation, following their "father", Magnus. However, Merida was banished from Aetherius for "consorting with illicit spectra", implied to be the Daedra. Considered a "trespasser" in Oblivion by the Daedra, she, through sheer force of will, "bent and shaped" the rays of Magnus to create her own Daedric realm in Oblivion, known as the Colored Rooms, while she became a Daedric Prince.
    • This is the case for the Ideal Masters, who rule over a dimension of Oblivion known as the Soul Cairn. Despite this, they are not Daedric Princes like the other rulers of Oblivion and are not counted among their ranks. In fact, no one, not even the Demiprince son one of the Daedric Princes, is quite sure what they are anymore, though it is known that they were once mortal sorcerers.
  • Allowed Internal War:
    • During the 1st Era, the Alessian Order, a rabidly anti-Elven religious Theocracy came to power within the Alessian Empire. At their height, the Order held nearly as much power as the Emperor. However, the extreme severity and strictness of the Order eventually led to the fracture of the Alessian Empire. To note:
      • The Order (and the Alessian Empire in general) was dealt a significant blow when the Order-supporting Nordic King Borgas was killed. As Borgas was the last direct descendant of Ysgramor, the Nordic Empire erupted in the War of Succession following his death. Though the Order survived for thousands of years after, the Alessian Empire (and thus the Order) was significantly weakened without their powerful Nordic allies to the north.
      • The Colovian King Rislav started an uprising against the Order. He inspired the Direnni Altmer of High Rock and the High King of Skyrim, Hoag Merkillernote , to fight against the Order as well. Though the Order would survive, they were dealt a crushing blow by the combined forces of their enemies at the Battle of Glenumbria Moors, which robbed the Empire of several more supporting nations (including the fracturing of Cyrodiil itself).
      • Internal strife within the Order finally led to its end during the War of Righteousness. Many details of the war have been lost, but it is said that half the population of the Iliac Bay was wiped out during the decade-long war and the Order's headquarters, a monastic complex at Lake Canulus, was razed.
    • During the usurpation of the Empire referred to as the "Imperial Simulacrum", Jagar Tharn, in the guise of Uriel Septim VII, either didn't or couldn't bother with preventing wars between and within the provinces, leading to several separate conflicts (such the Arnesian War between Argonia and Morrowind, or the War of the Bend'r-makh between Skyrim on one side, and High Rock and Hammerfell on the other) whose consequences still undermine Imperial rule even after Tharn is overthrown and the true Uriel VII restored. Even in other, less usurpation-filled times, smaller local wars were still tolerated within the Empire, such as the War of Betony between the Hammerfell kingdom of Sentinel and the High Rock kingdom of Daggerfall.
    • The Morag Tong was sanctioned by the Dunmeri government specifically to avert this trope, as open warfare between the Great Houses is destructive, disruptive, expensive, and weakens the Dunmer overall. The threat of having legal assassins sicced against you mostly keeps the Great House leaders in line.
    • Following the Oblivion Crisis, the Empire was severely weakened by the fall of the ruling Septim dynasty, making it unable to stop several wars between its vassal states. With Morrowind trashed by the eruption of Red Mountain, Argonia invaded the Dunmer in revenge for centuries of slave-trafficking and reconquered areas that had historically belonged to them (the Empire's inaction in all of this led to Morrowind's government seceding altogether after House Redoran halted the Argonian advance). Meanwhile the Bretons of High Rock and Redguards of Hammerfell sacked Orsinium, the city-state homeland of the Orcs. Eventually, immediately prior to the events of Skyrim, the Skyrim Civil War erupts between the Nords who support the Empire and those who seek independence behind Ulfric Stormcloak. At least here, the Cyrodiilic Empire attempts to avert the trope by sending Imperial reinforcements, but not until the entire eastern half of Skyrim has seceded to the side of the rebellion.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: The series is notorious for this, having a number of variations on it in each game. City Guards in particular have this to varying degrees throughout the series. Commit a crime anywhere near one, and there is a good chance you'll get a bounty even if there is no possible way your crime was witnessed. As with most things, this has improved over the course of the series along with general improvements to the AI, though it is still quite common. Other specific examples can be found listed by game on the trope page.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Most of the games offer you only the information absolutely necessary to complete quests, while providing supplementary details in the many in-game books or in optional conversations with NPCs. You'll need to go digging yourself if you'd like more information.
    • The games also drop hints at the cosmology and history of the universe, which are then expanded upon greatly by out-of-game, developer written supplemental writings known to the lore community as "Obscure Texts". As such, the series tends to look a lot more like generic High Fantasy than it really is to someone not well versed in the lore.
  • All Trolls Are Different: The series' standard trolls are large ape-like beasts with green, moss-like fur, and three eyes which can regenerate health remarkably quickly but are highly vulnerable to fire (which also cancels out their regeneration).
  • All Webbed Up:
    • Land Dreughs, a temporary land-dwelling form of the typically aquatic humanoid octopi race of Dreugh, are said to do this with their victims. Dreugh undergo a process known as "karvinasim" to become Land Dreughs, temporarily becoming terrestrial in order to breed. Land Dreughs leave their victims cocooned in this state to serve as food for their young.
    • Naturally, most varieties of Tamriel's Giant Spiders do this to their victims. Many do it while the victims are still alive.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Atronachs are a type of unaligned lesser Daedra which are essentially the Elemental Embodiments of the elements they represent. The most common are the Flame (also known as "Fire"), Frost, and Storm varieties. Air Atronachs are another variety, who are said to possess the combined power of Flame, Frost, and Storm Atronachs.
  • Almighty Idiot:
    • In the series' primary Creation Myth, the God of Gods Anu and The Anti-God Padomay are the personifications of the forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darknesss", respectively. The interplay of these forces is what led to creation itself. From their "spilled blood" came the et'Ada, "original spirits", who would go on to become either the Aedra or the Daedra depending on their actions during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. Sithis, the "great void" embodiment of the force of chaos and said to be related to Padomay, is treated similarly.
    • Lorkhan, also known by many other names, is the et'Ada who (depending on the storyteller) convinced/tricked some of the other et'Ada into sacrificing large portions of their divine power to create Mundus. For this perceived treachery, these et'Ada who made sacrifices (Aedra) punished Lorkhan by "killing" him, removing his divine center ("heart"), and casting it down into the world he helped to create where his spirit would be forced to wander. Most races of Mer (Elves) consider the creation of Mundus a malevolent act, which robbed their divine ancestors of their immortality and forced them to experience mortal suffering and loss. According to their religious teachings, Lorkhan is a powerful but "barely formed urge" of a being. Similarly, as Sep in Yokudan/Redguard tradition, he was created by Ruptga to help guide spirits to the Far Shores, but being driven by the same Horror Hunger that afflicts Satakalnote  (having been formed from the "worldskins" that Satakal leaves behind), he attempts to consume those spirits and then, after being stopped by Ruptga, devises Mundus as an easier alternative to reaching the Far Shores. However, his plan is flawed and actually makes it harder for spirits to get there.
  • A Load of Bull:
    • Morihaus, the Aedric "demi-god" who aided the Alessian Revolt against their Ayleid masters. Morihaus took the form of a massive "winged man-bull" with a favored fighting style of goring enemies with his horns. Morihaus fell in love with Alessia, the human "slave queen", and remained with her for the rest of her life. What happened to Morihaus after her death is unknown.
    • Minotaurs, a massive race of half-man/half-bulls, are are believed to descend from the union between Alessia and Morihaus. They are believed to be a sapient beast race, but are treated as little better than monsters by most other denizens of Tamriel. Alessia's son, Belharza, was said to be the first Minotaur, and became the second Emperor of the Alessian Empire following her death.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Technically the case for Alduin, the draconic Beast of the Apocalypse and "first born" of Akatosh. While he is the "big brother" to all other dragons (and Dragonborn), and enjoys having other dragons in his service, he is by no means a "friend" to any of them and will swiftly deal with any who challenge his authority.
  • Alternate Identity Amnesia: Certain varieties of Lycanthropy cause this during the initial transformation, which is described as "unusually intense". Later transformations typically do not have this effect.
  • Alternative Calendar: The series has a system which is actually our own calendar system, but with different names for the months and days of the week. October becomes "Frostfall", Saturday becomes "Loredas", and so forth. The number of the year is determined by the amount of time since the beginning of that particular Era. For example, Oblivion begins on the 27th of Last Seed (August) in the 433rd year of the 3rd Era (3E 433), which began with the unification of Tamriel and founding of the Septim Dynasty. Skyrim begins on the 17th of Last Seed in the 201st year of the 4th Era (4E 201), which began following the conclusion of the Oblivion Crisis.
  • Alt Itis: Unsurprisingly common with all of the character creation options available in each game, including everything from race and class to facial features and hairstyles. This trend is usually called "Restartitus" on the official forums.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • Mud Crabs are an aggressive, roughly tortoise-sized crab species found in many varieties throughout Tamriel. You'd be easily forgiven for thinking they're fictional, but you'd be wrong. (The Oblivion variety even looks somewhat like the real thing.)
    • Ebony is a series' staple of a high-tier Fantasy Metal, functioning somewhat like Obsidian and theorized to be the petrified blood of the mortal world's "dead" creator god. Ebony does exist in real life, however, it is not a stone. It is actually a dense black wood taken from ebony trees found in India and parts of Africa. It's so dense it sinks in water, and is mainly used for ornamental stuff like chess pieces and piano keys.
    • Wherever they appear in the series', Tamriel's native Sabre Cats have large, stocky, bear-like bodies as opposed to the sleeker, more slender appearance of modern real-life big cats. This understandably gives players the impression that Sabre Cats are are fantastic hybrid animals, like a griffon or a manticore. They are actually pretty much one-to-one copies of the genus Smilodon.
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • Goblins, Ogres, Minotaurs, Reiklings, and most forms of lesser Daedra generally play it straight. A few small groups or individuals have been known to Subvert it however, such as the Goblin clan studied in Sacred Rites of the Stonechewers.
    • The Sload, an Absolute Xenophobe race of "slugmen" native to the archipelago of Thras to the southwest of Tamriel, are considered this by the other denizens of Tamriel. While they operate more on their own scale of Blue and Orange Morality, attempting a Final Solution on every other race in Tamriel using a Mystical Plague that wiped out half the continent's population tends to get you labeled as "evil" pretty damn quickly. To this day, Sload are typically killed on sight if they are found anywhere in Tamriel.
    • Vampires and Werewolves are both treated as this by others in-universe, in large part because both typically start as innocuous diseases that are easily cured within the first three days of infection. According to their logic, only those who are already evil would allow themselves to become such monsters. As various individuals show throughout the series, this is often Subverted or outright Averted.
    • Dragons have an innate nature to destroy and dominate, but can overcome it with tremendous effort. Discussed by Paarthurnax in Skyrim.
    • The Falmer weren't originally like this, but they have become twisted monsters akin to The Morlocks after suffering for centuries under the rule of the Dwemer. Dawnguard reveals that there is at least one uncorrupted Snow Elf left, who has hopes that there are others like him. He also notes that the Falmer are showing signs of rudimentary intelligence, giving him hope they might one day regain their lost sentience and return to civilization.
    • The Dark Brotherhood, at least as they are seen by outsiders. They are indeed an illegal organization of assassins, most of their members take a sadistic glee in killing, and they practice a Religion of Evil. However, they Subvert it within the organization, with strict rules over who and how they kill, while exemplifying Evil Is One Big, Happy Family toward one another.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Starting with the jump to 3D and hand-crafted environments in Morrowind, the developers have come to adore this trope. Thorough players can find everything from helpful stashes of items like gold and potions to flat out Disc One Nukes by checking every little nook, cranny, ledge, and tree stump they come across.
  • Always Night: "Evergloam" is the Daedric plane of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night. Fittingly, it is said to always be in a state of "perpetual twilight".
  • Always Over the Shoulder: When in third person. The games do allow you to rotate the camera angle when standing still, which lets you admire your character customization and gear, but if you move or draw your weapons they'll snap right back to this view.
  • Always Someone Better: At some point in the earliest era following creation, the other Daedric Princes considered Jyggalag, the Prince of Order, to be this. Jealous and fearful of his growing power, they came together and cursed Jyggalag into becoming his antithesis: Sheogorath, Prince of Madness.
  • A Master Makes Their Own Tools: Throughout the series, there are many unique Legendary Weapons of immense power to be had. However, in almost all cases, the very best weapons are ones the player self-enchants out of the highest tier crafting material, with the strongest souls, and the most powerful magical effects.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • Played straight for the Races of Mer (Elves).
      • The Aldmer (First Elves or "Elder Folk" in the language of the Elves), the Precursors from which all modern races of Mer descend, had golden skin. The Altmer (High Elves or "Cultured Folk") are their closest living relatives and share this trait.
      • The Dunmer (Dark Elves or "Dark Folk") have ashen-gray skin and blood red eyes. They were formerly the Chimer (Changed Elves, "Changed Folk" and/or "People of the North"), who had a darker golden skin than their Aldmer ancestors, but were transformed into the modern Dunmer as the result of a curse.
      • The Bosmer (Wood Elves or "Tree-Sap People") have darker tones of skin, ranging from the shade of a tanned to human to darker shades of red and brown. They have skin tones closest to those of humans, which is fitting given that they are said to have diverged from the Aldmer after settling in Valenwood and taking "Mannish Wives," meaning they have some human ancestry in their background.
      • The Orsimer ("Pariah Folk", most commonly known as Orcs) have green skin. The first Orcs were created when the Daedric Prince Boethiah devoured and later excreted the Aldmeri spirit Trinimac. Trinimac's remains became the Daedric Prince Malacath, while his Aldmeri followers were transformed into the Orcs.
      • The ancient Falmer (Snow Elves) had pure white skin. They were later twisted into the modern Falmer, blind and feral goblin-esque creatures who live underground. They retain the white skin trait.
      • The ancient Dwemer (Deep Elves) had pasty pale skin.
      • The Maormer (Sea Elves) who live on the tropical continent of Pyandonea far to the south of Tamriel, have "chameleon" skin. It is said that they can "disappear by walking into the shade of a single tree."
    • Many of Tamriel's other (typically more primitive) races have unusual skin tones as well. Giants have gray skin. Goblins have green skin. Rieklings have blue skin. Ogres have grayish-blue skin.
    • The Kothringi, a primitive tribe of Men native to the Black Marsh who are presumed extinct after being ravaged by the Knahaten Flu in the 2nd Era, had silver skin. This is unusual among Tamriel's other races of Men (Imperials, Nords, Bretons, and Redguards, who all have skin tones in the range of real-life humans.
  • Amazon Brigade: This is the case for the Aureals (aka Golden Saints) and Mazken (aka Dark Seducers), two forms of lesser Daedra in service to Sheogorath. Downplayed in that, while male Aureals and Mazken do exist, they are physically inferior and less numerous, leaving the females most fit for combat roles.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Emperor Pelagius the Mad. Infamous for his eccentricities, he certainly lived up to his nickname, though exactly what caused his madness is unknown. He suffered from extreme weight fluctuations and tried to hang himself at the end of a royal ball. He insisted on his palace always being kept clean and (perhaps apocryphally) was said to defecate on the floors to keep his servants busy. He would only communicate with the Argonian ambassador in grunts and squeaks, believing it to be the Argonian language. He'd frequently strip naked in public and, toward the end of his life, would attack and bite visitors. His madness is theorized to have even been something supernatural left behind in Castle Solitude by his mad aunt, the Wolf Queen Potema, but it remains a mystery.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The Daedric Princes are not bound to a certain form and can change appearance, including gender, as they please. Some, like Azura and Nocturnal, always choose to appear female while Sheogorath and Malacath always choose to appear male. Boethiah takes full advantage of this ability, switching genders between games frequently. Mephala sounds and appears female, but is, according to the lore, actually a hermaphrodite. (As is Vivec, her "anticipation" in Morrowind, though he generally appears as and is referred to as a male.)
  • Ambiguously Evil: This is the case for dragons. While the innate desire to dominate leads to dragons being considered uniformly evil to most mortals, individual dragons can play with it in various ways. During the ancient Dragon Wars, most dragons were simply following the lead of their leader, Alduin. In modern times, some dragons have shown the ability to suppress their dominating nature and have even been able to work with mortals, while many others simply prefer to be left alone.
  • Ambiguous Situation: During the Time Skip between the Oblivion Crisis and the events of Skyrim, Nirn's two moons, Masser and Secunda, disappeared from the sky for unknown reasons (known as the "Void Nights"). Khajiit culture has great reverence for the moons, and the phases of the moons dictate which of 17 different sub-species a Khajiit cub will grow up to be depending on which phase it was born under. Understandably, the Void Nights were said to have caused significant unrest and panic among the Khajiit. (However, nothing has been said in regards to exactly how the Void Nights affected Khajiiti reproduction, leading to much Wild Mass Guessing and causing a few Epileptic Trees to take root.) The moons would return after two years with no explanation given as to where they went, but the Aldmeri Dominion claimed credit for restoring them, bringing them the grateful Khajiit as a client race.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: The Catchphrase for M'aiq the Lair, the series' recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character, is "M'aiq knows much, tells some." It's been noted that this could mean that either he only tells some of what he knows, or that he only tells what he knows to some people, and he appears to be doing it on purpose to be mysterious (which, given his role, makes sense).
  • Ambition Is Evil: Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric Prince of Destruction, Big Bad of two games and the Greater-Scope Villain of a third, and widely considered to be unambiguously evil. Ambition falls specifically within his sphere.
  • Anachronism Stew: Throughout the series, designs for architecture, fashion, armor, weapons, and other items mix elements from the Antiquity (like the very Roman-inspired Imperials of Cyrodiil), the Middle Ages (the Viking-inspired Nords of Skyrim), the Renaissance (the French/English inspired Bretons of High Rock), all the way up to the 1800s (with the Steampunk Dwemer and Sotha Sil's Clockwork City, as well as minor examples like Sheogorath wearing a pocket watch.) All of this is combined into a universe that is, for the most part (at least on the surface), a classic Medieval European Fantasy setting with High Fantasy elements.
  • Anatomy of the Soul: Sapient "Black" souls, like those of Men and Mer, have a part that houses the consciousness and a part that houses the spirit energy that can be used to enchant items. When the trapped soul of a sapient being is used for enchanting, the consciousness part goes to the Soul Cairn, an unaligned and bleak plane of Oblivion ruled by the mysterious Ideal Masters, and the separated spirit energy is stored in the item. "White souls" (souls of unintelligent creatures) apparently lack the consciousness part.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • Throughout the series, one can find a variety of one-handed "War Axes" and two-handed "Battle Axes" to use. Naturally, Orcs and Nords get racial bonuses to using axes in several games. Out of the non-playable races, Minotaurs favor axes (along with warhammers), and are strong enough to use two-handed battle axes with one hand. (Sometimes even Dual Wielding them.)
    • In the series' Backstory, the legendary Chimeri/Dunmeri hero, Lord Indoril Nerevar, used the "Named Axe" as his primary weapon for a time and used it to slay the Parliament of Craters. (He would later move on to using the Flaming Sword, True Flame.)
    • Boethiah, the Daedric Prince of Plots, is typically depicted as wielding a massive battle axe in his male statues. (Boethiah's female form statues instead wield a Cool Sword.)
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Thalmor, an Altmeri religious extremist organization. The Thalmor parallel the Nazis militarily, diplomatically, culturally, religiously, historically, and in terms of policy. A complete break down is available on the trope page.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Numerous throughout the series. For example, House Dagoth, the Dragon Cults, and the origins of the Thalmor go back at least 4000 years. Numerous minor examples date back at least a few centuries.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The Blades are an order charged with the protection and service of the Emperors of Tamriel throughout history. The Blades descend from the Akaviri Dragonguard, a group of ancient dragon hunters who were co-opted by Reman Cyrodiil, the Dragonborn founder of the Second Cyrodiilic Empire. (The Dragonguard considered those who are Dragonborn to be the ultimate dragon slayers, a trait adopted by the Blades.) In addition to serving the Reman emperors as bodyguards, the Dragonguard continued their mission of hunting dragons in Tamriel, driving them to apparent extinction. When the last of the Reman line was assassinated, the Dragonguard officially disbanded, but their members continued to covertly serve the Akaviri Potentates as spies and covert operators. When Tiber Septim, a new Dragonborn Emperor, rose to power, he officially reestablished the order which became known as the Blades. Over time, the Blades branched out into other areas including espionage and diplomacy. Indeed, while a select few were appointed by the Emperor to serve openly as diplomats or bodyguards, the majority of Blades agents acted covertly as couriers and spies. Following the demise of the Septim Dynasty, the Penitus Occulatus assumed guardianship of the Emperors, but the Blades continued to serve the Emperors as spies. When they realized the threat the Thalmor posed to Tamriel, particularly their intent to outlaw Talos worship, the Blades used their resources to resist the Thalmor throughout the continent. Without support, however, these efforts could not last forever, and in 4E 171, an Aldmeri ambassador delivered to Emperor Titus Mede II the severed heads of every Blades agent in Summerset and Valenwood, sparking the Great War. Devastated during the Great War, the Blades were then officially disbanded by the White-Gold Concordant. The survivors were forced underground to avoid the Thalmor, waiting for a new Dragonborn to emerge.
  • Ancient Tomb: Appear frequently as dungeons to explore and loot, often guarded by all manner of hostile undead (or worse). The majority are justified by the lore of the setting in which the game in question takes place.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The Daedra are the et'Ada ("original spirits") who did not participate in the creation of Mundus (the mortal plane) and thus, maintain their full divine power including Complete Immortality. They can manifest in a physical form and are not actually killed if that form is slain, but their spirit is forced back to Oblivion to coalesce, a process which can take hundreds of years and is considered by them to be "torturous and humiliating". Spending a few hundred years in such a state may explain why most Daedra are so keen on destroying that place (Mundus) where so many pesky Daedra-killing heroes come from.
    • Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, suffers from this one two levels:
      Alduin: "You I curse right here and right now! I take away your ability to jump and jump and jump and doom you to [the void] where you will not be able to leave except for auspicious days long between one and another and even so only through hard, hard work. And it will be this way, my little corner cutter, until you have destroyed all that in the world which you have stolen from earlier kalpas, which is to say probably never at all!"
    • Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order (in contrast to the other chaos-leaning Princes), suffered a similar Ironic Hell version by being forced to become his own antithesis by the other Princes, who feared his growing power. That antithesis took the form of Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. (The main plot of Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion is all about resolving this situation.)
    • This is the case for anyone or anything that dies under the effects of the Soul Trap spell. One quest requires you to to enter a soul gem to remove the soul from it, revealing that the soul trapped inside is completely conscious and alive, left floating in nothingness except for a few crystal platforms potentially forever. Doing it on a man, mer, or beast-man requires a special black soul gem, and is generally frowned upon. Even more, the Soul Cairn is a bleak Spirit World ruled over by the Ideal Masters where soul-trapped sapient souls end up for eternity. You think that random bandit's soul you trapped is simply "used up" when you recharge your weapon? Think again. The moment you do so, the soul is sent straight to the Soul Cairn. Where they remain. For the rest of eternity. There is absolutely no hope of escape or rescue. Ever. Nobody can remove your soul from the Cairn, and since you exist as a pure soul, you cannot even hope for the sweet release of death. While you are there, you can expect to be hunted down by undead horrors and have your soul's power drained and utilized for any number of horrific purposes. Even those who manage to successfully hide speak of merely being there as hellish; they exist in a constant state of fear, paranoia, and spiritual exhaustion, sure that they are constantly being watched by... something. The truly unlucky are turned into servants of the "Ideal Masters", the rulers of the Soul Cairn. The masters view this as peaceful immortality, but the afflicted souls are left in a state of unending psychological torment, only able to forever curse the beings who have entrapped them so.
  • And Man Grew Proud: Or "And the Dwemer grew proud", as the case may be. Haughty, egotistic, and very cruel at times, they made mechanical devices, metaphysical theorem, and buildings using technologies and materials centuries more advanced than anything seen since. The Dwemer were very Naytheistic, acknowledging the "gods" that the other races worshiped, but not considering them to be beings truly worthy of worship. (It's said that they would intentionally summon Daedra, even Daedric Princes, just to test their divinity.) They went so far as to try and make themselves gods, and managed to vanish completely, the whole race, every one of them. No one, still living, really knows what happened to them, but one prominnent theory is that they eventually became so powerful and arrogant that they became skeptical of reality itself, and tried to use the heart of a "dead" god to break themselves down into the base elements and then reforge themselves into ascended beings, and either succeeded or got the reforging step wrong. In either case, all that remains of the Dwemer is the ruins of their old civilization, for adventurers, scholars, and looters to pick through. Several cities seen throughout the series are built on top of ancient Dwemer cities (Mournhold) and/or incorporate parts of the Dwemer cities (Markarth).
  • And the Adventure Continues: Played straight in the series starting with Morrowind. Once you've completed the main quest, you're free to keep exploring the (vast) game world, complete the Loads and Loads of Sidequests, and complete any of the faction questlines. Your adventure continues until you get bored of exploring. Each of the games also has expansion packs and DLC content to continue the adventure as well.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Articles of clothing, jewelry, and armor are common quest reward items throughout the series.
  • And Your Reward Is Edible: Food items, drinks, and potions are common quest rewards. Often, these add flavor to the game, coming from quest givers who are too poor to give you anything else (or those who are simply very stingy). Likewise, alcoholic beverages are often flavor rewards from bar owners and their employees.
  • An Economy Is You: Averted throughout much of the series, where in addition to the normal adventuring fare (weapons, armor, potions, spells, etc.), you can find shops selling items that the average citizenry would want or need (food, drinks, books, Vendor Trash, useless decorative clutter, etc.) as well.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: Loosely with the Aedra, the Daedra, and Sithis, respectively. The Daedra in particular are a very diverse group, ranging from the generally "good" (if not always nice) ones like Azura and Meridia to those who are very devil-like such as Mehrunes Dagon and Molag Bal, and they even have a "squid" represented with Hermaeus Mora.
  • An Ice Person:
    • Frost-based spells are available throughout the series as part of the Destruction school of magic, which includes the entire Fire, Ice, Lightning trio. While its exact effects vary depending on the game, Frost spells tend to do the least direct damage, but typically have secondary effects of slowing the movement speed of targets after they've been hit as well as draining the target's Stamina. This makes Frost spells especially effective against enemy melee combatants, with the exception of the Frost-resistant Nords.
    • Frost Atronachs are a type of unaligned lesser Daedra who are essentially the Elemental Embodiment of Frost. They appear throughout the series, typically being immune to Frost damage while dishing out powerful Frost spells of their own.
    • While Ogres are normally a type of Dumb Muscle Giant Mook, Wrothgar Ogres are known to be capable spellcasters with a preference for Frost-based magic.
    • In the series' backstory, the Snow Prince was a Falmer (Snow Elf) One-Man Army who very nearly turned the tide of the war against the Nords, who were attempting to drive the Falmer to extinction. The Snow Prince was a master of ice magic to the point that he was described as being "surrounded by snow and ice" as he cut a bloody swath through the Nords.
  • Animal Eyes:
    • Logically, the Petting Zoo People Khajiit and Argonians have these.
    • Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is typically depicted with cat-like eyes. This is either the inspiration for, or adopted in honor of, the Khajiiti nickname for him, "The Skooma Cat".
  • Animal Motif:
    • The series traditionally has the Cyrodiilic Empire represented by a dragon; this emblem dates back to St. Alessia, who founded the first empire with the aid of a pact with Akatosh, the dragon-god of time. The Imperial Legion tends to Sigil Spam it all over their banners and equipment. Their rivals, the Altmer (High Elves), particularly when leading the Aldmeri Dominion, are represented by an eagle based on Auri-El, the golden eagle god on whom Akatosh was originally based.
    • Reman Cyrodiil, Dragonborn founder of the Second Cyrodiilic Empire, was heavily associated with snakes. His mortal father (King Hrol) was questing for a way to defeat the "snakes to come" he saw in a vision, when he met and impregnated the spirit of Alessia, conceiving Reman. During Reman's reign, the Tsaesci, a race of Snake People native to Akavir, invaded Tamriel and were defeated by Reman. After using the Thu'um in battle, confirming Reman as a Dragonborn, the Akaviri surrendered and swore fealty to him.
    • The now-extinct Ayleids (Wild Elves) had significant bird motifs. Many of their writings (and writings about them) are heavy with bird metaphors. They were said to have adorned themselves with feathers. Their armor was designed with feather patterns and their helmets with "beaks."
    • The Maormer (Sea Elves) native to the continent of Pyandonea, far to the south of Tamriel, have a number of serpent motifs, especially vipers. Their seaborne raiders, infamous for their raids on the southern coasts of Tamriel in the 1st and 2nd Eras, were specifically called the "Sea Vipers." It is said that they practice a powerful form of "snake magic," which allows them to control and ride sea serpents.
    • Tsun, the old Nordic god of "trials over adversity" and shield-thane of Shor, is associated with whales and is typically represented in Nordic barrows by a whale totem. According to some theories, the Whalebone Bridge in Sovngarde may even be the remains of his physical manifestation.
    • The Cult of the Ancestor Moth has, unsurprisingly, the Ancestor Moths. Originally, the Cult was a Cyro-Nordic group that exported ancestor-silks, simple but exotic shawls woven with the silks of the Ancestor Moth and inscribed with the genealogy of the buyer. During the silk-gathering ritual, the singing and hymnal spirits of one's forebears were recorded in the silk. The swishing of the silk material during movement reproduces the wonderful ancestral chorus contained in the silk. At a time lost to history, it was discovered that this same ritual granted the performer special protections which allowed for the (relatively) safe reading of an Elder Scroll. The Cult was co-opted by the various Cyrodiilic Empires to perform this task specifically in service to the Empire ever since.
    • Quite a few regional factions use animals as symbols including a beetle for the Dunmeri House Dagoth, a bear for the Stormcloaks, a wolf for the Companions, and many others.
  • Annoying Arrows: Low-level bows and arrows tend to have this effect throughout the series. There's something really off-putting about a particularly powerful enemy still attacking you with 20 arrows jutting out of his chest. Even when using stealth, you can end up shooting a target from the shadows and not killing them. Even with an arrow jutting out of their head, they usually just wander about for a few seconds before declaring "It must be nothing" and going back to whatever they were doing. With the arrow still in them. Of course, this plays to your advantage in reverse. Enemy archers are rarely a threat, and fighting them can even be profitable since they have unlimited arrow supplies (while alive) and you get to keep any they hit you with.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Most of the Aedra and Daedra qualify, as well their predecessors Anu and Padomay, and whatever Sithis is (or Is Not). They are essentially the personification of the "sphere" over which they govern. Sheogorath, for instance, is the personification of Madness. Anu and Padomay were the personifications of Stasis and Change (among others), respectively.
  • Antidote Effect: Many different curative effects such as Cure Disease and Cure Poison can be found on a wide variety of items throughout the series, including spells, potions, scrolls, item enchantments, and temple blessings. In most cases, these effects wear off quickly enough that they aren't a long term concern (poison) or are mild enough to where you can just pick up the item/blessing needed next time you're in a town (disease). Constantly carrying these items in case they are needed just serves to weigh you down.
  • The Anti-God:
    • Anu and Padomay are the anthropomorphized primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. Their interplay in the great "void" before creation would lead to creation itself, sometimes anthropomorphized as the female entity "Nir". Nir favored Anu, which Padomay hated. Padomay killed Nir and shattered the 12 worlds she had created. Anu wounded Padomay and presumed him dead, so Anu salvaged the pieces of the 12 worlds into one: Nirn. Padomay was not dead, however, and returned. He drew blood from Anu as he attempted to destroy Nirn, so Anu pulled them both outside of time in order to protect Nirn. In the various religious traditions of the Tamriellic cultures, Any and Padomay are considered a version of The Old Gods, with Anu as the God of Gods for his role in protecting Nirn while Padomay becomes the "Anti-God" for his attempt to destroy it.
    • Sithis, the "Great Void", embodiment of chaos, and primordial "Is-Not", is what is left of Padomay (or may even be Padomay according to some cultures). Sithis is venerated by most cultures throughout Tamriel as a force of change, though outright worship is rare.
  • Anti-Grinding: Each game uses some form of "increase skills to level up." As you improve your skills through successful uses of said skills, it becomes increasingly difficult to raise the skill further. This makes high-level skill grinding quite tedious.
  • Anti-Hero:
  • Anti-Human Alliance:
    • The Aldmeri Dominion is the preeminent anti-human alliance in Tamriel, having at least three known iterations throughout history. The Altmer of the Summerset Isles and the Bosmer of Valenwood typically make up the Dominion, with the Khajiit of Elsweyr occasionally on board as a client state or vassal nation. Though the opinions of individual elves may vary, the Dominion is decidedly anti-human in stance, and has actively opposed the spread of human empires and influence throughout history. In addition to the usual Fantastic Racism reasons for their dislike of the races of Men (not even getting into the religious reasons), the Dominion feels that the human lifespans are too short (particularly by the Long-Lived Altmer) to possibly do a fair and even-handed job of ruling the continent. At the end of the 2nd Era, it took Tiber Septim, using the Numidium, capturing the Dominion capital of Alinor in a Curb-Stomp Battle to bring the Dominion into an Empire of Men for the first time in history.
    • The 4th Era Dominion, its third incarnation, is led by the extremist Thalmor and plays this idea Up to Eleven. Taking the credit for ending the Oblivion Crisis within their homeland brought the Thalmor immense populist support, and they eventually took over the entirety of the Altmeri government. After having Potentate Ocato assassinated in a successful attempt to destabilize the now Vestigial Septim Empire, they seceded, annexed Valenwood, and reformed the Dominion of old. The Thalmor-led Aldmeri Dominion serves as the Greater-Scope Villain of the Skyrim Civil War.
  • Anti-Magic: The series provides several examples of each sub-category of the trope. To note:
    • Inherent Traits:
      • The Bretons are naturally resistant to magic, owing to their distant Elven ancestry which also makes them a Witch Species. In-game, this takes the form of magical effects having only 50-75% of their usual power against them, depending on the game.
      • The Dunmer have an innate racial resistance to Fire magic, while the Nords have innate Frost resistance. Likewise, the Rieklings, a diminutive humanoid species native to Solstheim somewhat resembling "ice goblins", have an inherent immunity/resistance (depending on the game) to Frost.
      • This is believed to be a defensive capability of the Tsaesci, a race of supposed "snake vampires" native to Akavir, a continent far to the east of Tamriel. Exactly how they manage this is unknown, but when the armies of Uriel Septim V invaded the Tsaesci's territory in Akavir in the 3rd Era, his Battlemages claimed to be "abnormally weak" while there.
      • The Dreugh, a semi-intelligent race of aquatic humanoid octopi (who also have a temporary land form), are immune to magical paralysis and poison, while also being resistant to many other forms of Destruction magic, with the sole exception of Frost.
      • Many supernatural creatures, including Vampires, Liches, and many forms of lesser Daedra, are naturally resistant to many forms of magic.
    • Artifacts/Environments:
      • Spell Breaker is a legendary artifact shield, associated with the Daedric Prince Peryite, which has made numerous appearances throughout the series. It is often the Infinity +1 Shield when it appears, but has the added bonus of blocking incoming magic attacks, which standard shields cannot do.
      • The slave bracers traditionally used by the Dunmer both identify the wearer as a slave, while also draining magicka from the wearer. This makes escape or rebellion more difficult and dangerous.
    • Spells:
      • Several games in the series have the Silence spell. Those under its effects are unable to cast spells of their own for the spell's duration.
      • Several games also have the Dispel spell. It immediately cancels almost any spell-based effects on a target. It does not, however, affect abilities, diseases, curses, or enchantment effects (either from weapons or apparel).
  • Anti-Magical Faction: The Alessian Order was a rabidly anti-Elven religious sect which established a Theocracy that wielded nearly as much power as the Emperor at its height. The Order was hostile to "unsanctioned" magic users, and actively hunted them down in the Burn the Witch! fashion. However, the Order itself has no qualms about using magic, up to and including the type of reality warping divine magic they used in an attempt to purge the Elven aspects from the Eight Divines themselves. Doing so caused what is known as the "Middle Dawn", the first and longest Dragon Break on record, with a heaping dose of Reality-Breaking Paradox and Reality Is Out to Lunch. The Order would eventually be overthrown and destroyed during the War of Righteousness, but their influences on Imperial religion and law can still be felt in the Empires that have followed.
  • Anyone Can Die: Anyone not marked with an "essential" tag, at least. (Morrowind being the sole instance of this trope being played 100% straight in the series.)
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: This is a rule within the Dark Brotherhood, an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil. The Tenets of the Dark Brotherhood forbid any form of betrayal, disobedience, and theft within the Brotherhood, or else incur the Wrath of Sithis. This is obviously relaxed during a Purification.
  • Apocalypse Cult:
    • The Mythic Dawn, which assassinated Emperor Uriel Septim VII and his legitimate heirs to initiate the Oblivion Crisis, was one. They operated in service to Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction.
    • The Thalmor, an Altmeri religious extremist sect who have reformed the Aldmeri Dominion of old during the 4th Era, have elements of one. Though only hinted-at in-game, former developer written supplementary texts flesh out their motivations. Officially, the Thalmor subscribe to the old Aldmeri belief that they are the descendants of the gods themselves (the Aedra and Ehlnofey), and the reason they've banned the worship of Talos is because it is blasphemous to them that a lowly man became a god after his death. Unofficially, they also subscribe to the old Aldmeri belief that the creation of the mortal world (Mundus) was a cruel trick pulled on their divine ancestors by the malevolent "creator" god, Lorkhan. This trick robbed their ancestors of their pre-creation Complete Immortality, and if Mundus could be unmade, their spirits would return to this divine form. Following the events of the previous games in the series, Talos very well may be the last Cosmic Keystone keeping Mundus extant. By stamping out the worship of Talos, they hope to deprive him of prayer and kill him. (There are hints that they may not be wrong about this, but there are also hints in the lore that "pre-creation divinity" they seek was really a prison of unchanging stasis...)
  • Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: Downplayed in the latter portion of Emperor Uriel Septim VII's reign. While he was still Emperor of Tamriel, the Imperial Simulacrum severely fractured and weakened the Empire, with extreme unrest in the provinces. With his Imperial Legions no longer the fighting force they once were, his Empire was only maintained through his elaborate schemes, shrewd diplomacy, and political maneuvering, up until his death which kickstarted the Oblivion Crisis.
  • Appropriated Appellation:
    • Mannimarco, known as "the King of Worms", is a legendary Lich/Necromancer who makes several appearances in the series. The term was originally meant as an insult by his Arch-Enemy, Galerion, but was adopted by Mannimarco with pride. (As a result of the Warp in the West, he sort of ascends to godhood, and is known as the "God of Worms".)
    • The Renrijra Krin are a quasi-legal Khajiiti nationalist faction. The name translates as something like 'Mercenary's Grin', 'Laugh of the Landless' or 'Smiling Scum', and was first applied to them by their enemies, but it amused them enough for them to make it their own.
    • During the Skyrim Civil War, the Stormcloak rebels were derisively referred to as such for following Ulfric Stormcloak's beliefs. They took that name in pride.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: A heavy influence in the Cultural Chop Suey of the Redguards, crossed with Japanese Samurai. They hail form the desert province of Hammerfell, have a strong martial tradition including scimitars as a favored weapon type, dress in a very North African/Arabian style, breed some of the best horses in Tamriel, and draw heavily from these cultures for their Fantastic Naming Convention.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: Mephala, a Daedric Prince whose sphere is "obscured to mortals" (but is generally associated with manipulation, lies, sex, and secrets) has elements of this and is frequently referred to as the "Webspinner".
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • In-game, throughout the series, this is averted by NPC followers as long as they are with you as part of a quest, such as an Escort Mission. If you have several such missions active at once, you can end up with numerous followers who will fight by your side. (Given the Artificial Stupidity associated with NPC followers, this is generally inadvisable...) Averted as of Skyrim, where you can only have one humanoid follower at a time. Others you ask to join you will state something along the lines of "it looks like you already have someone following you..." and will not follow until you dismiss your current followers. (There are a few exceptions, usually for the duration of certain quests or by taking advantage of exploits.)
    • In-Universe, due to the the structure of the Aurbis (loosely, the universe or "totality"), the number of Daedric Princes is limited. Any other powerful Daedra are considered "lords" but not true Princes. However, there have been instances of "new" Princes coming into being, though each instance to date seems to be a case of Loophole Abuse, with a sphere being "split" or something similar. Examples including Alduin "cursing" Mehrunes Dagon into his role, Boethiah "eating" and corrupting the Aedric Trinimac into the Daedric Malacath, and Sheogorath passing that mantle onto a mortal to become Jyggalag full-time.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Naturally, each Big Bad (and often their Dragon/Heavy) to the Player Character in each game.
    • There are numerous historical, racial, and nation-wide examples throughout the series and in the backstory. They are listed for the sake of brevity on the trope page.
  • Archer Archetype: The Bosmer are hailed as the best archers in all of Tamriel, with some sources stating that they are the inventors of the bow. By the age of 14, all Bosmer children are expected to be proficient enough with a bow to join hunting parties. Their very best archers are known as "Jaqspurs," able to snatch an arrow, draw their bow, and fire in one continuous motion. They are also known to make composite horn bows which are said to be some of the best in Tamriel. Both the Aldmeri Dominion and the Septim Empire have employed the Bosmer as specialist archer troops. Guides for the games recommend the Bosmer as the ideal race for those seeking to play as archer characters.
  • The Archmage:
    • Arch-Mage is the title given to the head of the Mages Guild (or regional equivalent organization) throughout the series. The Arch-Mage rules among the Mages Guild through councils and designating positions to his inferiors. In most of the games, with enough work you can make it to the rank of Arch-Mage.
    • The leader of the Psijic Order, referred to as the Ritemaster or Loremaster, is one. Since the disappearance of the Dwemer, the Psijic Order has been the most advanced organization in Tamriel when it comes to the study of magic. They are a Renowned Selective Mentor, taking on very few students, while protecting the world from threats it isn't ready to deal with. To become a leader within the Order requires one to essentially master all forms of magic and capability to convene with both Aedric spirits and Daedric Princes.
    • Magnus, the God of Magic who served as the architect for Mundus, the mortal plane, but abandoned it part way through creation, is sometimes referred to as "The Arch-Mage" as part of his divine title. He is highly regarded by several Witch Species, including the Altmer and Bretons.
    • The Archmagister of the Dunmeri Great House Telvanni is the leader of an organization that believes Might Makes Right and is heavily partisan to magical might. Gothren is the Archmagister in Morrowind, and you'll need to kill him if you want his title. Come Skyrim's Dragonborn expansion, it's unclear who the Archmagister of House Telvanni is, but Master Neloth is certainly the most powerful mage in Solstheim, and, if he is to be believed, one of the most powerful in all of Tamriel.
  • Arc Number: The series has the number 9, most often expressed as a form of "8+1". There are 9 Divines in the Imperial religion, comprising 8 conventional gods and 1 human who became a god. There are traditionally 9 provinces in the Cyrodiilic Empire (Cyrodiil itself and 8 others), and 9 districts and principal cities in the provinces of Skyrim and Cyrodiil (both the capital plus 8 others). The Amulet of Kings has 8 small jewels and 1 large jewel. There are eight 'Towers' sustaining the barriers between the realms, and one 'zeroth stone' that is the origin of their power. Even the universe itself is said to be shaped like a wheel with 8 spokes, the '+1' being the solid line made when viewed on it's side.
  • Arc Welding: The first four games in the main series consist of largely unconnected stories set in the same world. Skyrim, however, reveals that the events of the previous titles were all milestones in a prophecy heralding the return of Alduin.
  • Arc Words: In-game books and out-of-game lore have Vivec's commonly-used phrase "the ending of the words is ALMSIVI", as well as the phrase's variationsnote , which end each of his Thirty-Six Lessons and occasionally crop up elsewhere. "ALMSIVI" refers to the Tribunal, which he is a part of.
  • Area of Effect: Throughout the series, spells are available with an area of effect in addition to the single-target variety. Typically, these area of effect spells cost more Magicka to cast than single-target spells of the same type and level of damage. Many powerful magical enemy types like to spam these sorts of spells, including lesser Daedra, Liches, and Hagravens. Some of these spells also cross over with Splash Damage, as a target hit directly takes more damage than those around him in the area of effect.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: The in-game book Thief of Virtue has such a scene play out between a bored baroness and a dashing thief.
    "Now, it should be noted at this point that Ravius was noted for his handsome looks, and the Baroness by her plainness. Both of these facts were immediately recognized by each of the pair. "Dost thou come to plunder my virtue?" asked the lady, all a tremble."
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Downplayed overall. Pure mage NPCs typically don't wear armor, as how effective it is depends mostly on your skill level with that armor class, and NPCs typically don't have many skill points outside of their class skills. However there's nothing that actually stops them from equipping it (look what happens if you cheat armor into their inventory in Morrowind), and the series has always had several types of Magic Knights on up to the heavy armor-wearing Battlemage. Oblivion and Skyrim add mechanics that gently encourage spellcasting characters not to wear armor (spell damage reduction varying by armor skill in the first case, and an Alteration perk that's only usable unarmored in the second), but it's still a valid choice.
  • Armored But Frail: The series plays with this trope throughout. In most cases, heavily armored NPCs have relatively high amounts of health as well, averting the trope. However, unless armor is specifically enchanted to Resist or Absorb magic (both rare and powerful enchantments), armor does nothing to protect from magic. Blast a heavily armored foe with powerful spells and you can kill them with relative ease. Additionally, you can choose to invoke this trope by equipping a low-health Player Character with elite armor.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • Played with throughout the series, as a character's protection depends more on his skill with the armor class rather than the armor itself (though despite this, NPCs are almost always armored appropriately). For example, a character with a high Heavy Armor skill will be better protected in a suit of low quality Iron armor than a character with a low Heavy Armor skill will be in a set of elite Daedric armor.
    • Played straight throughout the series when it comes to magical attacks, as standard armor is completely useless against them. In order to defend against them, you either need to use specific Anti-Magic spells or enchant them onto your armor as a constant effect.
  • Armor of Invincibility: Pieces of artifact class armor are almost always among the very best of their armor type throughout the series. The Savior's Hide (an artifact armor set associated with Hircine) and the Ebony Mail (associated with Boethiah) are two recurring examples. Additionally, you can enchant your own set of generic high-end armor to become borderline invincible as well. (Anti-Magic Magic Resistance]] and Reflect Damage are two popular options.) This method allows you to create some fantastically powerful equipment more custom-suited to your play style than what the "artifact" armors offer.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack:
    • Bog standard spells ignore armor rating when they strike a target. In order to protect from them, armor needs to be enchanted to reduce, absorb, or reflect magical damage.
    • This is a common trait of the attacks of Werewolves throughout the series. Their claw attacks often outright ignore armor, and in some cases, blocking their attacks with a shield causes that shield to become instantly broken.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Khajiit have this attitude as a common racial trait, typically coming across as incredibly self-confident in their abilities. This extends even beyond martial arts to anything they take interest in, including acrobatics, thievery, and wizardry.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Mephala is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is "obscured to mortals", but is thought to include manipulation, lies, sex, and secrets. She is also associated with fashion trends.
  • Art Evolution:
  • The Artful Dodger: Barenziah, the Lost Orphaned Royalty future Queen of Morrowind, spent her youth after escaping from her foster family lying, stealing, and sleeping around. She actually enjoyed it and would even join the Thieves' Guild.
  • Artifact of Attraction: The recurring Legendary Weapon sword Umbra. A crossover Empathic/Evil Weapon, it was forged long ago to steal the souls of its victims. However, the wielder of the blade becomes a victim as well. Over time, it infests the mind of the wielder, until they begin to refer to themselves as "Umbra", and turns them into a vicious Blood Knight. Either they slay their opponents and steal more souls for the sword, or they are slain, and the sword finds a new and more powerful wielder.
  • Artifact of Doom:
    • The Staff of Chaos, the Mantella, the Heart of Lorkhan, and the Mysterium Xarxes are all major plot elements in the games in which they appear.
    • Throughout the series, the Legendary Weapon sword, Umbra. The sword absorbs the souls of the people it kills and corrupts the wielder - one to the point where the sword supplanted her identity and she was known by its name as a remorseless killer. Though it has no apparent effects in gameplay, it always has a new wielder by the next game... Umbra even proved to be too much for the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile, stealing a good chunk of his power before he managed to get rid of it.
    • The Eye of Magnus, an ancient artifact associated with Magnus, the god who served as the architect for Mundus, the mortal plane, but abandoned it part way through creation. While it's unclear exactly what it does, it clearly possesses enough raw magical power to potentially destroy the entire world. Indirectly, the Eye of Magnus doomed the ancient Falmer civilization. Due to both the Ancient Nords and the Falmer vying for control of the Eye, it led to a war in which both Saarthal and the Eye were lost. The Ancient Nords drove the Falmer underground into the arms of the Dwemer, who betrayed, enslaved, and twisted them into the blind, bestial Morlock-like creatures they are today.
  • Artifact Title:
    • The eponymous "Elder Scrolls" themselves actually play a very small role in the series overall. Most often, they are simply mentioned as the impetus behind the game's main quest and never actually appear. It isn't until Oblivion that one actually shows up in-game, and it is only involved in a sidequest line. Skyrim finally has one present during the main quest, though it it only used in one part. Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC involves three, finally averting the trope, at least for the DLC's quest line. In fact, the title was only chosen because it sounded cool - someone at Bethesda Softworks came up with the term, and then the developers decided what the Scrolls actually did in-universe.
    • M'aiq the Liar is a recurring Legacy Character who has appeared in every game since Morrowind. In Morrowind, many of M'aiq's comments involve game tips that were blatantly false and hints to secrets that didn't actually exist in the game. As of Oblivion, his role shifted to a Fourth-Wall Observer who acts as an Author Avatar for the game developers, dispensing "Take That!" shots at the audience and is not above taking some at Bethesda itself. Thus, his sobriquet of "the Liar" has become something of an artifact.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Technically began with the series' 3D leap in Morrowind, but heavily downplayed there outside of (text) dialogue since the NPCs aren't actually programmed to do all that much. Greatly expanded starting with Oblivion, which introduces Bethesda's famous Radiant AI system, where NPCs are given scripted schedules that sometimes vary depending on the time of day and day of the week. One can find NPCs taking some target practice with their bow in the morning, heading home for lunch, picking some vegetables in the afternoon, heading to the local chapel in the evening, and then heading home at night to go to bed. Though commendably ambitious, it falls flat very frequently and very visibly; so much, the Bethesda Softworks games earned their own folder on the trope page.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Though far more well known for its AI failings, the series has its moments of brilliance as well. A breakdown by game is available on the trope page.
  • Artificial Gill: Starting with Morrowind, the series offers spells, potions, and enchanted items with the Water Breathing effect. These allow you to remain underwater without needing to surface for the effect's duration (or in the case of constant effect enchanted items, for as long as you have the item equipped).
  • Artificial Script: Four have been created for the series to date: The Daedric Alphabet, the Dragon Alphabet, the Dwemer Alphabet, and the Falmer Alphabet. There is also a fifth, known as the "Elder Alphabet", which is untranslated and appears on the Elder Scrolls themselves, as well as the Eye of Magnus.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The series has long had issues with this. Commonly recurring examples include NPC followers wandering off in the opposite direction you are trying to take them, NPC followers hitting you with all sorts of Friendly Fire, NPC enemies dismissing stealthy non-kill-shot arrows stuck in their bodies as "the wind" if they fail to detect you, neutral NPCs accidentally getting hit (and turning hostile) while wandering between you and your actual target, the same snippets of voiced dialogue being repeated ad nauseam, and many many more. A breakdown by game is available on the trope page.
  • Artistic License – Geology: Quite a few crafting "metals" in the series have real world names, but have vastly different properties. See Fantasy Metals for a break down.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Starting with Morrowind, the series puts several measures in place to downplay or avert this trope with weapons. For instance, talking to someone with your weapon drawn will cause their disposition to drop. In Skyrim, non-hostile NPCs will comment if you have a weapon drawn (or magic spell readied) near them, particularly guards.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • In Morrowind, Jiub is the Nerevarine's shirtless, bald, one-eyed fellow prisoner aboard the Imperial Prison Ship at the start of the game. He lets the Nerevarine known they've arrived in Morrowind and asks for the Nerevarine's name, and is never seen again once the Nerevarine exits the ship. Despite his very limited role, he was popular enough with fans to generate countless Fan Fics and Game Mods which add him back into the game. Bethesda took notice and, in Oblivion, mention that became a Saint in Morrowind for driving the (much reviled) Cliff Racers to extinction. His spirit makes a cameo in Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, where he offers a sidequest in the Soul Cairn.
    • The Daedric Princes have been around since Daggerfall, offering special sidequests and granting legendary artifacts as rewards for completing them. A few, like Azura and Mehrunes Dagon, have been involved in the main quests of the games that followed. However, some have also gotten A Day in the Limelight "episodes", especially during the expansions and DLCs of the games that followed.
  • Ascended Fanfic: Tamriel got its start as the developers' home-brew Dungeons & Dragons setting.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: as is the nature of divinity in the ES universe.
    • This is what the Dwemer race was trying to do when they tapped into the power of the Heart of Lorkhan, the 'dead' creator god. No one still living, including a few deities, knows what really happened. You can come up with a fairly plausible theory in a Morrowind quest that states the Dwemer broke themselves down to their base elements and then attempted to reforge themselves into ascended beings, but they got the reforging process wrong and blinked themselves out of existence. It's also possible that they got it right, and have actually ascended. How would those still around on the "lower plane" know the difference?
    • Following his death, Tiber Septim, ascended to godhood as the Aedric Divine Talos. There are many hotly debated theories on exactly how he accomplished this, the most prominent involving Merger of Souls and ("mantling") explanations with Lorkhan. In Skyrim, this is the motivation behind the Thalmor outlawing Talos worship throughout Tamriel. They believe (possibly correctly) that Talos is the last pillar keeping Mundus, the mortal plane, extant. They believe if people cease to worship Talos, he will no longer exist, and then elves can return to their pre-creation immortality.
    • Mannimarco, the King of Worms, is an interesting case. After many failed attempts at achieving divinity in some form, he finally managed to do so as part of the Warp in the West. In his case, he used the Mantella to achieve apotheosis and become the God of Worms. The "Necromancer's Moon" is said to be his heavenly body (in the same way the Aedra are/have planets among the stars) and when it eclipses Arkay, it allows sapient souls, normally protected by the divine, to be soul-trapped. Interestingly, due to the Reality Warping effects of the Warp in the West, he also remained as a "mortal" being (or at least, as mortal as a Lich can be.)
    • The ancient Falmer (Snow Elves), prior to their corruption into the goblin-like modern Falmer seen in Skyrim, had a religious belief that it was their ultimate goal to "become one with" Auri-El (Akatosh), their chief deity. Those ancient Falmer who survived the journey and trials of the Chantry of Auri-El could accomplish this. After succeeding, they "ascended, bathed in light, a look of relief and contentment on their face."
    • One interpretation of the actions of Lorkhan in having Mundus created is that, yes, mortality is cruel and filled with suffering and loss. However, the stasis of pre-creation was actually the spiritual prison, and Mundus provides the opportunity for greater transcendence as a "testing ground" of the spirit.
    • The Ideal Masters are immortal beings who were once powerful mortal sorcerers during the Merethic Era. After finding their mortal forms to be too weak and limiting, they entered Oblivion as beings of pure energy and settled an area of "chaotic creatia", forming the Soul Cairn.
    • This was one of the primary teachings of the Alessian Order, a rabidly anti-Elven religious sect which established a Theocracy in the 1st Era that wielded nearly as much power as the Emperor at its height. One of their teachings was that of "Ehlnofic Annulment", a means by which a mortal could break the cycle of life and death to ascend to "Proper-Life."
    • Though, to date, they have only been hinted-at in-game or have been mentioned dripping in heavy metaphor, there exist several "ascended" metaphysical states in the ES universe. (Each has been further fleshed out by developer supplemental texts.) The first of these states is CHIM, where one becomes aware of the nature of Anu's Dream but exists as one with it and maintains a sense of individuality. (Dunmeri Tribunal deity Vivec claims to have achieved this level.) Taking another step, the second is Amaranth, where one exits Anu's Dream to create one's own. If one fails to maintain their individuality in either step, they instead experience Zero-Sum, where one simply fades into Anu's Dream. (Dagoth Ur, Big Bad of Morrowind, is said to have found a dangerous middle ground between these three. Instead of exiting the Dream, his twisted, traumatized, and broken mind is being imprinted on the Dream of Anu, making him something truly terrible and Eldritch.)
  • As Long as There is Evil: This is the case for the Daedric Princes. Though they technically operate on their own scale of Blue and Orange Morality, most are treated as "evil" by the general populace in-universe and, though they've been battered, beaten, defeated and even fundamentally changed, nothing in the setting has ever been able to actually kill a Prince. Since they are manifestations of the primal forces of reality, they will always exist for as long as existence itself. Even when they take an avatar form and that avatar is vanquished, they are simply banished back to Oblivion to reform.
  • Assassination Sidequest: The Morag Tong and Dark Brotherhood are entire faction questlines which revolve around these.
  • Assassin Outclassin': At several points in the series, assassins are dispatched to eliminate the Player Character. Naturally, if you don't employ this trope, you die. Game Over.
  • Assassins Are Always Betrayed: In any game with an assassin's guild, or that simply features assassins at some point, expect this to happen at least once.
  • Asshole Victim: Throughout the series, this is extremely common during the assassin's guild (Dark Brotherhood or Morag Tong) and Thieves' Guild questlines in each game where they are available. This is logical, at least for the assassin's guilds, because the target has to have pissed off someone so much the client hired assassins to kill them, even if it is possibly disproportionate. Non-assholes rarely draw that drastic of a response. Specific examples are available on the trope page.
  • Assimilation Plot: This is one of the theories about what happened to the Dwemer. According to the theory, they discovered the Heart of the "dead" god, Lorkhan, deep beneath Red Mountain. As extreme Naytheists who, as a culture, attempted to refute everything as real, the constructed the Numidium to channel the Heart's power and use it as their vessel to become a singularity, refuting reality and going beyond it. They may have succeeded...or not. Either way, their entire race blinked out of existence all across Tamriel in a single instant and haven't been heard from since.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • This is typically the case for the various guilds and factions within the games. By simply kicking so much ass in whatever field that guild or faction is in, you can rise through the ranks quickly.
    • Throughout the series, this is the case for the Orcs (or Orsimer). They are a Proud Warrior Race with numerous Blood Knight and Death Seeker qualities, with Malacath, the Daedric Prince of the Spurned and Ostracized, as their chief deity. Malacath encourages this behavior in the Orcs, ensuring that the best warriors within a tribe are acting as chieftains. (Malacath isn't above taking a more hands on approach when a weak Orc chieftain goes unchallenged by his tribe. )
    • This is how the Dragon hierarchy is organized. If there's a question of pecking order, a fight ensues. A dragon either wins, submits, or dies.
  • Astral Projection: This is one of the many advanced magical powers possessed by the Psijic Order, thanks to their thousands of years of intense study in magic. They can project to speak with and be visible to only the individuals they want, even across the continent.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: In the in-game book Night Falls on Sentinel, the assassin Jomic describes his signature Pressure Point technique to a potential client. The 'client' in question is actually a knight with a warrant for Jomic's arrest, who subdues Jomic and then decides to use his own pressure points in order to torture him.
  • Athens and Sparta: Several cities and cultures fit the trope. The ancient Ayleid cities of Delodiil and Abagarlas fit, respectively. As do the Skyrim cities of Solitude and Windhelm during the era of the Skyrim Civil War.
  • Atlantis
    • The series has a version in the backstory known as Aldmeris. It is said to be the continent the Precursors of the modern Mer (Elven) races, the Aldmer, came from. It is said that Aldmeris came under an unknown threat in the earliest Era of history following the creation of the mortal world and the Aldmer were forced to flee. It is said to be "lost," and whether it still exists (or ever existed at all, as other theories claim that Aldmeris was simply Tamriel before the races of Men arrived) is unknown.
    • The series has another version in Yokuda. Once one of the most advanced society of its time, the entire continent sank for mysterious reasons. Explanations ranging from the natural, such as a tsunami or earthquake, to the more fantastic, such as a group of rogue Ansei using their Dangerous Forbidden Technique Fantastic Nuke. Although, in this case, there are hints that some islands from the old continent that still remain. For instance, Lord Vivec's Sword Meeting with Cyrus the Restless takes place on one of these islands.
  • The Atoner:
    • Jiub, the Nerevarine's fellow prisoner aboard the Prison Ship at the beginning of Morrowind, only gets a few lines of dialogue and does not reappear in the game after you leave the ship. However, his short appearance was enough to make him extremely popular with fans and Bethesda took notice. Oblivion makes him Legendary in the Sequel, stating that he became St. Jiub, Eradiator of the Winged Menace, after driving all of Vvardenfell's much reviled Cliff Racers to extinction. His spirit is encountered during Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, where he offers a sidequest to help him finish his opus and ensure that his legend is remembered forever after. In his opus, he states that he set out to eradicate the Cliff Racers in atonement for his previous "sordid" life as a skooma addict and freelance assassin.
    • Martin Septim. In his youth, he joined a Daedric Cult but left it after some of his fellow members met unfortunate ends. He joined the Priesthood of Akatosh to atone. After finding out that he is the Emperor's bastard son and the only person left of royal blood who can save the world from the forces of Oblivion, he goes all in to save the world during the Oblivion Crisis and ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Attack Animal: Clannfear are a form of lesser Daedra with animalistic intelligence and the general appearance of raptors with frills and beaks. They are known to serve in Mehrunes Dagon's (the Daedric Prince of Destruction) Legions of Hell in this capacity.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • The series' standard Giants typically stand 11-12 feet tall, but legends hold of Giants reaching epic proportions, standing "several times the size" of an average man.
    • When Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, manifests in Mundus (the mortal realm), he typically does so in this fashion. When he briefly took form during the 11th hour of the Oblivion Crisis, he towered over everything else in the Imperial City.
  • Attack Reflector:
    • The series has the Reflect Damage and Spell Reflection abilities. To note:
      • Reflect Damage reflects damage back to the attacker based on a percentage, and does not work for ranged damage. For example, if one has a 20% Reflect Damage effect active, 20% of non-ranged damage will be reflected back on the attacker.
      • Spell Reflection reflects harmful magic and is also based on a percentage. However, the percentage in this case is the effect's chance of reflecting all magic damage. For example, if one has a 20% Spell Reflect effect active, there is a 20% chance of reflecting the entire spell back at the caster. (It does not automatically reflect 20% of damage like Reflect Damage does.)
    • Winged Twilights are a bat-like form of lesser Daedra with some harpy-like traits. They have the ability to reflect magical attacks back at the caster. If that fails, they also have strong resistances (though not outright immunity) to every form of Destruction magic.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
    • Depending on your playstyle, there is a high chance your Player Character in any game in the series falls victim to this trope, due to the high amount of content in said games' open worlds. It's very easy to take on a quest, only to forget said quest because of all the optional dungeons you encounter on your way.
    • This is a trait of the Demiprinces, a form of lesser Daedra born of the union between a Daedra and a mortal. Demiprinces tend to have short attention spans and get bored very easily. Fa-Nuit-Hen, for example, can barely stay focused on questions during his interviews and outright interrupts people so he can answer them before he loses track of what they're saying.
  • Author Appeal: The writers/developers at Bethesda are huge fans of of H. P. Lovecraft. The games (both Elder Scrolls and its Fallout sister series) include numerous references to his works, including character and location names, as well as more general references to Lovecraft's style, such as a high number of Eldritch Abomination-like monstrosities.
  • Author Avatar: Every game since Morrowind has had M'aiq the Lair, a recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character, in this role. M'aiq is a known a Fourth-Wall Observer (and Leaner and Breaker) who voices the opinions of the series' creators and developers, largely in the form of Take Thats, to both the audience (given the ES Unpleasable Fanbase) and isn't above above taking some at Bethesda itself. His comments often mention features that the fanbase wanted in the series, elements from past games that were removed from later games, and comments on features Bethesda finally delivered after years of fan demand.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Throughout the series, this applies to the ranks of the Daedra. As you go up through the levels of lesser Daedra, they generally get more intelligent and overall more dangerous. At the top are the Daedric Princes, the outright most powerful of the Daedric spirits. While any mortal of sufficient skill can defeat any form of lesser Daedra, a Daedric Prince at full power could annihilate a mortal without a second thought. In the rare cases where a mortal directly contends with a Daedric Prince, said Prince is either weakened (such as manifesting on Mundus where metaphysical laws typically weaken their power), is Willfully Weak to intentionally give the mortal a chance (Hircine is a fan of this), or said mortal has been empowered by one of the Divines or another Prince. Even then, the Princes (like all Daedra) possess Complete Immortality. If their physical form is slain, their spirit simply returns to Oblivion to reform. Princes have been battered, beaten, banished, and even fundamentally changed, but nothing in the setting has ever been able to actually kill one.
    • The Nords, a Proud Warrior Race with some Blood Knight and Honor Before Reason traits, believe this should be the case for their Jarls and Thanes. Played with in that it varies from individual to individual and it is possible for decidedly non-asskickers to end up in these positions. Nords have also had a tradition where if a their High King is challenged in combat and slain, the victorious warrior would be crowned King. This is an old tradition, however, and centuries of Imperial culture slowly filtering into Skyrim has somewhat caused it to be forgotten among the Western portion of Skyrim (where the Empire has most of its influence), to the point that actually invoking it is highly contentious by the 4th Era. (As Ulfric Stormcloak found out the hard way when he invoked it against the young High King Torygg, kicking off the Skyrim Civil War.)
  • Automaton Horses: Throughout the series, this is Played Straight in every game that horses appear. They can be ridden indefinitely with no signs of fatigue, never require food or water (but then again, neither does the Player Character), can survive attacks and falls which would kill (or at least severely lame) real horses, and, in some games, can be ridden up near-sheer surfaces in gravity defying fashion. Many Equestrians have shed tears over the portrayal of horses in the series.
  • Auto-Save: Added to the series as of Morrowind, which autosaves every time you rest. Each game since has expanded it further, autosaving when you enter a new location and when you open the menu (with an adjustable 15 minute cooldown). The feature can also be turned off in each game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • A number of items, powers, and abilities qualify throughout the series. Vampirism and Lycanthropy are two recurring examples, with each granting amazing boosts and powers, but both having significant drawbacks as well that outweigh the benefits. Other specific examples are available by game on the trope page.
    • In-universe, Wulfharth Ash-King, the ancient King of the Nords who has died and come back to life at least three times, was a Dragonborn with a monstrously powerful Thu'um. It was so powerful that he couldn't be sworn into office as High King of Skyrim verbally. Scribes had to draw up his oaths as a result.
  • Awesome, but Temporary: Present though rare in the series. Often involves quest items which are useful in their own right, but must be turned in or are lost as part of their related quests. Specific examples by game can be found on the trope page.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: This is a trait of Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order. The Library of Jyggalag contained a precise and exact record of everything that any entity in Nirn or Oblivion would ever do, which Jyggalag compiled through nothing but simple but extremely thorough deductive reasoning and logic. This was one of the big reasons why the other Daedric Princes turned on him and sealed him as his own antithesis, the Mad God Sheogorath (who promptly had the library destroyed).
  • Awesome Mc Coolname:
    • The Nords, Tamriel's Proud Warrior Race of Horny Vikings, typically have first names pulled from medieval Norse while they have badass sounding clan names or sobriquets, leading to this - Ulfric Stormcloak, Arkming the Flayer, Ulfgar the Unending, Else God-Hater, Falk Firebeard, Frofnir Trollsbane, Aldi Winterblade, Ulfberth War-Bear, Galmar Stone-Fist, Torbjorn Shatter-Shield, Idolaf Battle-Born, Mjoll the Lioness, Alea the Huntress, Oengul War-Anvil, Hermir Strong-Heart, Bolgeir Bearclaw... The list goes on and on and on with Skyrim, set in the Nord homeland, providing many more. They are also known to subvert it with some rather lame sounding names mixed in, still in this fashion, such as Vekel the Man, Nils the Bland, Horstar Home-Wrecker, Geilir the Mumbling...
    • The names of Dragons, when translated from Draconic, are a mix of this and Luke Nounverber. Alduin, the Beast of the Apocalypse in ES lore and Big Bad of Skyrim, translates to Destroyer Devour Master and just so happens to have the moniker World-Eater. Other cool Dragon names include Nahagliiv (Fury-Burn-Wither), Sahloknir (Phantom-Sky-Hunt), Odahviing (Snow-Hunter-Wing) and many more.
    • Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who ascended after his death as Talos, the Ninth Divine, had a few, some doubling as Red Baron titles. His original name (at least according to Imperial orthodoxy) was "Talos", meaning "Stormcrown" in Ehlnofex, the language of the ancient Precursors. Other names he's been known to go by include Hjalti, Wulf, Ysmir (meaning "Dragon of the North"), and more.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Emperor Uriel Septim VII. While Uriel himself was a Reasonable Authority Figure who often acted as a benevolent Big Good, his wife, Caula Voria, was an absolute nightmare. While beautiful and beloved by the people, she was said to have "ensnared" a young Uriel and was a deeply unpleasant and arrogant woman. Fortunately, Uriel's seeking comfort in an adulterous relationship would result in the birth of Martin Septim, hero of the Oblivion Crisis. Caula died sometime just before or shortly after the start of the Imperial Simulacrum.
  • A Wizard Did It: Given that the series' magic is of the Functional and Sufficiently Analyzed variety, this is us usually averted. Magic users have to play within a certain set of rules, and the series typically offers explanations for when magic is used that breaks these rules. However, there are a few exceptions where no explanation is offered which fit the trope. (Listed on the trope page.)
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Sheogorath, the Daedric Price of Madness, oddly enough plays with this trope. For someone who ends all his conversations with "Visit again or I'll pluck out your eyes!", he is surprisingly nonviolent. Even if you attack him, he doesn't attack back directly, just scolds you and teleports you into the sky, causing you to fall to your death. (Or possibly leaves you where you are, and hurls the planet at you. He's used a Colony Drop before in the backstory afterall...) Just don't make him too happy or talk to him while he's contemplating on having Brain Pie for lunch. Further, he's actually not technically in control of "Axe Crazy" only but Madness as a whole. Mehrunes Dagon and or maybe Boethiah might be more "Axe Crazy" since they're both a lot more violent and associated with violence. Dagon in particular likes to sent you on a mission to kill people who he dislikes, if he's not trying to smash you himself.
    • Emperor Pelagius the Mad certainly lived up to his nickname. He wasn't just insane, he was said to be homicidally insane. When his madness became too publicly apparent, he was removed from the throne and placed into an asylum. Toward the end of his life, he was known to strip naked and attack/bite visitors.
    • Pelinal Whitestrake was a legendary hero of mankind/racist berserker. Said to be a Shezarrine, Pelinal came to St. Alessia to serve as her divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. Pelinal would fly into fits of Unstoppable Rage (mostly directed at the Ayleids) during which he would be stained with their blood and left so much carnage in his wake that Kyne, one of the Divines, would have to send in her rain to cleanse Ayleid forts and village before they could be used by Alessia's forces. During one particularly infamous fit of rage, Pelinal damaged the very lands themselves, nearly causing the Divines to abandon the mortal world in disgust.


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