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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 C

  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards:
    • The Tsaesci of Akavir invaded Tamriel in the late 1st Era during the reign of Reman Cyrodiil. Reman was able to defeat them, using the Thu'um against them at the decisive Battle of Pale Pass. The Tsaesci, who detest all dragons, recognized Reman as "Dragonborn," who they believe to be the ultimate dragon slayers. They surrendered and swore fealty to Reman, who incorporated the surviving Tsaesci into his armies and took their Dragonguard on as his personal bodyguard in the fashion of this trope. They would go on to influence the Blades, who would act as spies and bodyguards for all later emperors of Tamriel (at least until the 4th Era when they were forcibly disbanded as part of the White-Gold Concordant).
    • Hlaalu Helseth, the last (known) King of Morrowind in the late 3rd Era, employed several Redguards and Imperials among his Royal Guards, including his guard captain.
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  • Cain and Abel: Anu and Padomay are the anthropomorphized primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. They are usually referred to as brothers, twins to be specific. Their interplay in the great "Void" led to Nir, "creation". Nir loved Anu, which Padomay hated. Padomay wounded Nir, but before dying, she gave birth to twelve worlds. Padomay shattered these worlds but was stopped by Anu, who wounded Padomay and presumed him dead. Anu then salvaged the pieces of these worlds to create one world, Nirn. However, Padomay returned and wounded Anu, spilling both of their blood. Anu pulled Padomay outside of time itself, ending his threat to creation. From the blood of Anu and Padomay came the et'Ada, or "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. (Some myths alternatively state that the Aedra came from the intermingled blood of Anu and Padomay, while the Daedra came only from the blood of Padomay.)
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  • The Cake Is a Lie: Occurs in some quests throughout the series, often involving Treacherous Quest Givers who promise a reward only to lure you into a position to rob/kill you.
  • The Caligula:
    • An example from the series' backstory is Reman Cyrodiil, founder of the Second Tamriellic Empire. Coronated as a child, history records Reman as a scary, at times psychotic, and violently decadent ruler. How decadent? He made Sanguine, Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism, so uncomfortable that he left Reman. However, unlike many examples of the trope, Reman was also an incredibly skilled and successful leader. Starting as something of a Child Prodigy, Reman first reunited the two halves of Cyrodiil (Colovia and Nibenay), and then the other kingdoms of Men (High Rock and Skyrim). Later, he successfully defeated the Akaviri invaders and absorbed the survivors into his fledgling proto-empire, where they would serve him as a foreign Praetorian Guard. Though Imperial dogma typically leaves out or whitewashes his negative traits, he is (justifiably) remembered as one of the greatest rulers in Cyrodiilic history.
    • Another backstory example is Emperor Pelagius the Mad. Born Thoriz Pelagius Septim, he briefly ruled the Third Tamriellic Empire from 3E 145 to 3E 153. Infamous for his eccentricities, he certainly lived up to his nickname. He suffered from extreme weight and mood 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. After his madness became too publicly apparent, he was declared unfit to rule and his wife by arranged marriage, the Dunmeri former Duchess of Vvardenfell, Katariah, took over as Empress Regent. (The only non-human to rule the Third Empire.) Pelagius was institutionalized and died only a few years later, but his legacy as the Mad Emperor lives on.
    • This also applies to Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. Though not nearly as dangerous or unpredictable as other Caligulas, Sheogorath does have his eccentricities, and being a god, his rare bouts of violence are all the more dangerous. As a sampling of his actions throughout the series, he has thrown a rogue moon at a city, caused burning dogs fall from the sky, gone on a rant about cheese while briefing his champion on a mission, has had people killed for growing facial hair, and has had mortals killed/maimed/psychologically tortured to win bets against the other Daedric Princes.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp":
    • The series uses "Magicka" to refer to Mana.
    • Morrowind and Oblivion refer to Stamina as "Fatigue". Skyrim drops this and uses Stamina outright.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff":
    • In Cornish folklore, a Spriggan is a kind of goblin with Size Shifter powers. However, throughout the series, they are instead a hostile tree-like Plant People race with a Gaia's Vengeance tilt, akin to violent dryads.
    • Downplayed by the series' dragons, as they are closer in shape to wyverns (forelimbs that are also wings) than more standard dragons (four legs with wings as additional appendages). This example is rather defensible, as no clear distinction was even made between the two creatures throughout much of European history. Downplayed because, other than this one physical difference, ES dragons fit many other traditional notions of dragons (including possessing human-like intelligence while traditional wyverns do not).
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp":
    • Generally averted throughout the series, as even near-Earth-like creatures typically get called by their Earth analogue name, even if there are differences between them and said analogue. (ES "Mammoths" have four tusks and nearly all Rats are Rodents of Unusual Size, for instance.) One exception is the Horker, which is essentially a walrus with three forward-facing tusks.
    • In an in-universe example, what the Dunmer people refer to as "Bonewalkers" are, to the rest of Tamriel, known as zombies.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Numerous examples when it comes to the series' Fantasy Metals. Ebony is a real life type of wood. Quicksilver is another name for real life mercury. Corundum is a real life type of crystal. Glass is...well, real life glass. In this universe, all function as metals which can be formed into ingots and used to forge weapons/armor.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Justified for users of the Thu'um, the draconic Language of Magic. Dragons, those who are Dragonborn, and other mortals who study for years to learn to use it use the Thu'um to do things like command elements into existence. By shouting the words for say, breathing fire, they are literally commanding fire into existence.
  • Call That a Formation?: In each of the games, this is a major case of Gameplay and Story Segregation. In-game, no attention is paid at all to formation. Non Player Characters will run straight at the nearest enemy with no real regard for tactics.note  However, tactics and formations are frequently mentioned in-universe. For example, these are one of the greatest strengths of the Imperial Legion. While individually, Imperial soldiers are not on the level of the warriors of other races like the Nords and Redguards, their use of formations like the shield wall and a focus on collective martial prowess have allowed them to forge three empires which have spanned most or all of Tamriel at different points in history.
  • Came Back Wrong: The series has seemingly every type of magic except for true resurrection, leading to all deaths being Final Deaths in-universe. (There is Necromancy, but that's not quite the same thing...) In the few in-universe cases where someone has had some success with true resurrection, the person that is resurrected is typically either deranged in some way or suffers from some other issue.
  • Camera Lock-On: In the games following the 3D Leap starting with Morrowind, 1st Person and 3rd Person (in the Always Over the Shoulder fashion) are both options. The games do allow you to rotate the camera angle when standing still in 3rd Person view, which lets you admire your character customization and gear, but if you move or draw your weapons the camera will snap right back over the shoulder.
  • Candlelit Ritual: The Black Sacrament is a ritual prayer to the Night Mother to summon the Dark Brotherhood. It involves chanting the prayer within a candlelit circle while stabbing an effigy made of human body parts.
  • Canine Companion:
    • Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes, is often accompanied by Barbas, Vile's external conscience. While Barbas might appear closer to a Hell Hound in statues, he is much closer to a Big, Friendly Dog in personality and when he takes form in the mortal world.
    • Oblivion and Skyrim both have optional canine companions that you can acquire. In the latter, one quest has the aforementioned Barbas join you for a time.
  • Canis Latinicus :The Imperial race is heavily influenced by Ancient Rome. Most have Latin-sounding names and Latin sounding words (real or otherwise) permeate through their culture.
  • Cannon Fodder: Scamps, the weakest known form of semi-intelligent lesser Daedra, serve this role in the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon's Legions of Hell. Due to their relative weakness and small stature, their only viable tactic is the Zerg Rush. Often, Scamps can be found in non-combat roles, such as messengers and servants to perform mundane tasks. Mortals are known to use Scamps in these latter roles as well.
  • Canon:
    • For the series in general, Canon (known to the fandom as "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-universe to both be true. (And due to frequent events in-universe that alter the timeline, both may literally be true in-universe.)
    • Most prolific of the Obscure Text writers is former developer Michael Kirkbride, who still does some freelance work for the series. Most of what he writes about are the more obscure aspects of universe's cosmology which don't get expanded on in the games, as well as lore figures the games never touch upon or that Bethesda is simply finished with (like Vivec). As of Skyrim, some of the concepts in his works have been officially referenced in game (the idea of "kalpas," Ysgramor and his 500 companions, and some of the motivations of the Thalmor), moving them to full Canon Immigrant status.
    • The series has two novels set during the 200 year Time Skip between Oblivion and Skyrim (Lord of Souls and The Infernal City by Greg Keyes), both of which are established as canonical.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • Averted for Daggerfall's Multiple Endings, where Merging the Branches was employed in order to make them all canonical (though in a Broad Strokes fashion).
    • The Dark Brotherhood is a recurring Murder, Inc. faction throughout the series. They are known to be led by a mysterious figure known as the "Night Mother". In Morrowind, the "Night Mother" is Severa Magia, an Imperial assassin who brought the Dark Brotherhood to Vvardenfell in an attempt to wipe out the native Morag Tong, a Professional Killer organization off of whom the Brotherhood originally split. A high-level Morag Tong quest has you assassinate her. Later games have dropped any connection between the Night Mother and Magia, treating the Night Mother as having been dead for centuries but who continues to lead the Brotherhood posthumously by communicating the the "Listener". (The fandom has mostly settled on viewing Magia as a high-ranking Brotherhood agent, but not the Night Mother herself.)
  • Canon Identifier: Each Player Character (aside from Redguard) is customizeable and has no default name, and has a title distinguishing them from the other player characters in the series:
    • Arena: The Eternal Champion
    • Daggerfall: The Agent
    • Battlespire: The Apprentice
    • Morrowind: The Nerevarine
    • Stormhold: The Master Tunnel Rat
    • Dawnstar: The Hero of Dawnstar
    • Shadowkey: The Soul of Conflict
    • Oblivion: The Champion of Cyrodiil
    • Skyrim: The Dragonborn/The Last Dragonborn
    • Online: The Vestige or The Soulless One
    • Legends: The Forgotten Hero
  • Canon Immigrant: Former developer Michael Kirkbride (as well some other former and current devs) have posted "Obscure Texts" to the official forums covering a number of topics and greatly expanding the series' lore. These texts are generally treated as canon (or at least the equivalent of the in-universe Unreliable Canon) by a good portion of the fan base (though not all,) and some concepts from these works, particularly as of Skyrim, have now been officially referenced in-game. (For example, the idea of "kalpas," Ysgramor and his 500 companions, and some of the motivations of the Thalmor.)
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Each race of Mer certainly seems to believe it about themselves, but as shown time and time again, they are just as flawed as the races of Men they despise so much. Specific examples can be found on the trope page.
  • Can't Catch Up: Prominent with NPCs throughout the series in the games with Level Scaling. While the enemies scale to the player's level, the levels of (the vast majority of) NPCs are fixed. When the player reaches high levels, most NPCs will be killed easily (or knocked unconscious if they are "essential") by nearly any level-scaled enemy. This can make Escort Missions all the more tedious and renders most NPC Companions all but useless.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic:
    • CHIM, the in-universe concept of Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence where one becomes aware of the nature of Anu's Dream but exists as one with it and maintains a sense of individuality, is always capitalized as such.
    • Concepts related to the Thu'um, such as "Voice" and "Shout" are capitalized regardless of their placement in a sentence to distinguish them from mundane speech.
  • Captured Super-Entity: Throughout the series, summoning lesser Daedra qualifies. Lesser Daedra are the technically immortal inhabitants of Oblivion, the infinite Void Between the Worlds of Mundus (the mortal plane) and Aetherius (the realm of magic). The most poweful of the lesser Daedra are fully sapient while possessing greater than usual physical and/or magical abilities which qualify as "Super" compared to most mortal denizens of Tamriel. Conjuration magic allows these beings to be summoned to Mundus and temporarily bound to mortal masters. If their physical form is slain in Mundus, their spirits simply return to Oblivion to reform.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • The main quest villain tends to be one in each game, which is especially notable because the rest of the game features much more Gray and Gray Morality. Jagar Tharn in Arena, Mehrunes Dagon in Oblivion, and Alduin in Skyrim each fit the trope to a "T." Dagoth Ur in Morrowind is a less clear example, especially if you dig into the backstory. Depending on your interpretation of the events, he can come off as a particularly extreme Well-Intentioned Extremist. Daggerfall averts it with the most morally ambiguous main quest of them all.
    • The Daedra can look like this at times — their Blue and Orange Morality tends to focus on whatever their Sphere is... meaning Boethiah is a card-carrying betrayer, Mehrunes Dagon is a card-carrying destroyer, Molag Bal is a card-carrying enslaver/corruptor of mortals...
  • Cargo Cult:
    • The Imga, a race of intelligent "ape folk" native to Valenwood, revere the Altmer (High Elves) as the portrait of their ideal and seek to emulate the Altmer in any way they can. This includes shaving off their fur, powdering their skin, and acting condescending and haughty towards humans and non-elves. In-game literature describes the attempts as pitiful.
    • The Rieklings, a race of diminutive blue-skinned humanoids native to Solstheim who somewhat resemble "ice goblins", are known to scavenge and hoard detritus from the more civilized races which they then "form a strange attachments" to and have even been witnessed worshiping these relics. These items include all manner of Vendor Trash, to weapons and armor, to the remains of a crashed experimental airship.
  • Carry a Big Stick:
    • Throughout the series, maces, warhammers, and even simple clubs are found as weapons. While the exact mechanics vary from game to game, they are typically classified as "blunt weapons," being slower to swing than other weapons but also dealing more damage per strike. In Skyrim, they (realistically) also have the potential to circumvent a percentage of a foe's armor when struck as well.
    • Massive clubs are a favored weapon of the Giant race. Some have a large rock tied to the end, turning them into primitive warhammers. Others have spikes of stone or bone, turning them into primitive battleaxes.
    • In the Yokudan/Redguard religions tradition, Ruptga, the "Tall Papa" and chief deity of the pantheon created Sep, the serpentine Yokudan version of Lorkhan, to help him save spirits from Satakal's Vicious Cycle of eating the world. However, Sep convinced other spirits to help him build an easier alternative, even though Ruptga did not participate or approve. When the plan proved to be a failure, leaving many spirits stranded on a dying patchwork worldskin, Ruptga punished Sep by "squashing him with a big stick". Sep could then only slink around in a dead skin or swim about harmlessly in the sky.
    • Scourge is a Legendary Weapon mace and artifact of Malacath, the Daedric Prince of the Spurned and Ostracized. Malacath dedicated it for use by mortals, and any Daedra who attempts to wield it will be vanished to the Void.
    • The Mace of Molag Bal is an artifact of the eponymous Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption. It has the power to drain the strength and magicka of those it stikes, making it an effecting weapon against warriors and mages alike.
  • Carrying the Antidote: Subverted with a dose of Batman Gambit and Bluffing the Murderer by Hlaalu Helseth in the in-game book, A Game at Dinner. While attempting to out a spy during a large dinner with many guests, Helseth announces that the utensils of a known spy were poisoned, and that the antidote is in a broth at the end of the table. The spy, in a panic, jumps up and drinks the broth. Helseth then reveals that the broth was poisoned, and nothing else was.
  • Cartography Sidequest: An in-universe example in Topal the Pilot. Topal was an Aldmeri Bold Explorer and poet, and the to discover and explore Tamriel during the Merethic Era, encountering primitive versions of the Khajiit and Argonians, as well as a now extinct race of bird people. Aldmeri leadership tasked Topal, a skilled cartographer, to explore and document Tamriel's inland regions, which were very mysterious to them at the time. The details of his trip were compiled in the epic Father of the Niben, but many of the details were lost over time.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Throughout the series, the Khajiit have number of these which are popular in their culture. "May your road lead you to warm sands" is a common saying. Others including including the words "warm", "sand", and "sugar" are also common.
    • M'aiq the Lair, a recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character throughout the series, has "M'aiq knows much, tells some. M'aiq knows many things others do not."
    • Most of the individual games have recurring catch phrases for certain characters. A full list of examples can be found on the trope page.
  • Cat Folk:
    • The Khajiit are a feline race hailing from the deserts of Elsweyr in southern Tamriel. There are 17 known sub-breeds of Khajiit, with the sub-breed determined by the phases of the moon under which the Khajiit was born. The appearance of the sub-breeds can vary wildly. On one end are the Alfiq, who are the size of house cats and cannot speak, but do understand language and are reportedly powerful spell casters. Then there are several humanoid varieties of Khajiit, such as the Ohmes and Ohmes-raht (which appeared in Arena and Daggerfall). They are commonly mistaken for Bosmer due to their humanoid appearances with light fur and tails. The Suthay-raht, which appear in Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim are a bit less humanoid, but still bi-pedal with more cat-like features, postures, and hair. On the other end of the spectrum are the Senche and Senche-raht, who are quadrupeds with simian proportions and can be mounted by their comrades as Beasts Of Battle. Further, it's implied that all sub-species are capable of breeding with one another. The resulting offspring may not be either of the parents' breeds and is determined by the phases of the moons under which it is born. Culturally, the Khajiit (with their cross-continent merchant caravans, propensity for stealth, and being the frequent victims of Fantastic Racism) draw heavily from the Roma. Their language, Ta'agra, has no word for "rules", which can obviously lead to issues in the lands of other cultures where the Khajiit's actions may be interpreted as "theft." Finally, as a race, the Khajiit are highly susceptible to Moon Sugar addiction. (As well as its more potent derivative, Skooma.)
    • The Ka Po' Tun are a race of "tiger folk" hailing from the continent of Akavir. As they have not yet made an appearance in-game, it is unknown to what extent they may be similar to the Khajiit. Their culture is implied to be similar to the Chinese, with their Tiger-Dragon God-Emperor, Tosh Raka, having similarities to Mao Zedong.
  • Cat-like Dragons:
    • The Khajiit believe that Akatosh, the god of time and progenitor of the dragons, is Alkosh, Dragon King of Cats. He is usually depicted as a dragon with feline features. The Khajiit describe him as "a real big cat".
    • The goal of the Ka Po' Tun, an Akaviri race of "tiger-folk", is to become these. To date, only their leader, Tosh Raka, is said to have succeeded, becoming a massive dragon with black and orange scales. (Other sources claim this story to be metaphorical at best.)
  • Cat Ninja: Unsurprisingly, the Khajiit race is naturally inclined toward stealth, and can often be found as assassins, spies, and thieves in other provinces.
  • Cats Are Mean: The Khajiiti religious tradition interprets Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, as a kitten. "For what is more destructive than a young cat?"
  • Cavalry Betrayal: In the backstory, King Joile of Daggerfall convinced Gaiden Shinji, the legendary Redguard hero and leader of the Order of Diagna, to join him in the Siege of Orsinium (the home city-state/fortress of the Orcs). Joile then convinced Shinji, the Blademaster and founder of the Imperial City Arena, to participate in a Combat by Champion Duel to the Death against the Orc leader, Baloth Bloodtusk. As Shinji and Baloth were fighting, Joile ordered his archers to open fire on both of them. As it turned out, Joile not only wanted to sack Orsinium, but planned to invade Hammerfell after and knew that Shinji would have been a major obstacle. (Joile would get his comeuppance, dying during what would be a failed invasion of Hammerfell.)
  • Cavalry of the Dead:
    • The Dunmer practice significant ancestor worship in their religion, believing that their ancestors stick around to watch over their living kin. On a relatively smaller scale, they've summoned the bodies and spirits of their honored ancestors as guardians and protectors for ages. They consider this practice different from true necromancy, which they consider absolutely blasphemous. Then, during the Oblivion Crisis, they resurrected the massive skeleton of an Emperor Crab (large enough to hold an entire city district inside its shell) to fight back against the Daedric hordes.
    • King Gortwog of Orsinium, home of the Orcs who (as the Orsimer or "Pariah Elves") who seem to be eternally Fighting for a Homeland, was said to be considering whether to hire necromancers to supplement Orsinium's forces with the dead against their many powerful enemies. No word on whether or not he went through with it, but Orsinium itself would fall during the Time Skip between Oblivion and Skyrim.
    • In the series' backstory, Queen Potema of Solitude (known as " the Wolf Queen") caused one of the bloodiest wars to ever hit Tamriel in an attempt to get her son proclaimed as the rightful heir to the Imperial throne. After her armies and those of her allies were defeated, she held out in Solitude in a protracted siege which lasted 10 years. During that time, Potema, a powerful necromancer and practitioner of other Dark Arts, resurrected many dead bodies to bolster her dwindling forces.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: As part of the series' propensity toward Always Check Behind the Chair, it's a good idea to check behind every waterfall you come across. Not ALL of them hold secrets or treasure, but enough of them do to make it worthwhile.
  • Cessation of Existence:
    • This is one theory about what happened to the Dwemer. They may have tried, through the power of the Heart of Lorkhan, to break themselves down into their base elements and then reforge themselves into new ascended beings. The theory goes that they got the reforging process wrong and caused themselves to blink out of existence. If asked in Morrowind, Dunmeri Tribunal deity Vivec states that he cannot sense them on any known plane of existence.
    • 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 written supplemental texts.) Each of these states requires one to become aware of the nature of Anu's Dream and maintain one's individuality. If one fails to do so (known as "Zero Sum"), they "fade into" the dream, ceasing to exist.
  • Chainmail Bikini:
    • Generally Downplayed throughout the series. Many armor types have different models when worn by a male or female, and the female models are a bit more revealing, often having plunging necklines and more areas of exposed skin. Individual game exceptions can be found in their entries below.
    • Throughout the series, this is the case for the Aureals (aka Golden Saints), a form of lesser Daedra in service to Sheogorath. Downplayed but extant, in that while female Aureals wear more armor than most examples, it still tends to leave some vulnerable areas (including their upper chests) exposed.
  • The Chains of Commanding: The legendary Yokudan/Redguard hero Frandar Hunding reluctantly became the leader of the Ansei, also known as "Sword Singers/Saints", an order of Master Swordsman so skilled they could create blades from their very souls, during the Yokudan War of the Singers against the forces of the corrupt Emperor Hira. Ever the Guile Hero, Frandar led the Ansei to victory despite being outnumbered thirty to one. However, he would continue to struggle with this decision and many others he made as leader for the rest of his life. Due to being considered "red with blood" by the citizens of Yokuda, he chose to self-exile to Tamriel, becoming one of the first Yokudans to settle there.
  • Challenge Gamer: Common for Speed Runners throughout the series. Often taking advantage of exploits, main quests that normally take dozens of hours are completed in mere minutes.
  • Chameleon Camouflage:
    • The series features the Chameleon spell, which has this effect. Unlike the standard Invisibility, which always makes you completely invisible but also wears off as soon as you perform an action, Chameleon comes in different levels of strength based on the percentage you become invisible, and the effect continues for the duration of the spell, allowing you to perform actions.
    • The Maormer (Sea Elves) of Pyandonea are said to possess this ability naturally. It is so powerful that they can "disappear by walking into the shade of a single tree."
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Throughout the series, bringing up the menu pauses the game world. Here, you can change clothes, switch weapons, ready spells, gulp down food/potions, read a book, etc. all while the game world is frozen around you. The only thing you can't do is change weapons mid-swing.
  • Chaos Architecture:
    • In Arena, every province is visited. When later games show those provinces, they often look quite a bit different. Some tiny villages are now huge cities, some huge cities are now gone without a trace, and the ones that remain often have very different layouts and appearances than they did in Arena. In-universe, if the discrepancy is mentioned at all, one of the series' reality warping Time Crash events is usually blamed in the Cosmic Retcon fashion.
    • Solstheim changes rather dramatically in between Bloodmoon and Dragonborn, as well. There are significant differences in the architecture of the Nordic barrows (which were largely simple stone caves with exteriors composed of megaliths in Bloodmoon), the terrain has become much different (in ways that can't simply be explained by the eruption of Red Mountain and glaciers), and the Thirsk mead hall has completely lost its second floor. The Skaal village has also moved in between Dragonborn and Bloodmoon, and there are now Dwemer ruins on Solstheim when there weren't any before. (Which is especially strange in the case of Nchardak, which is at sea and could not have reasonably been hidden underground.)
  • Chaotic Stupid:
  • Character Class System: The first four games in the series play with this trope a bit. Each game has a number of pre-made classes the player can choose from, or create a custom class. Each class has a set of preferred skills, and, if chosen, gives a substantial initial boost to that set of skills. Increases to these skills also go toward leveling up overall. The skills outside of those preferred by the class are still available to the player, they just start lower and increases in those skills do not contribute toward leveling up. (Though they do apply to multipliers for those skills' governing attributes. See Empty Levels for additional details about that.) Skyrim then goes away from classes in favor of pure skill-leveling along with a perk system reminiscent of the Fallout sister series.
  • Character Customization: Every game in the series has allowed for customization of the Player Character during character generation. Starting off by giving the choice of a few pre-made faces per race, the options for customization have advanced dramatically as the series has gone on with the expected game engine and graphical enhancements. Unfortunately, choosing to wear heavy armor often leads to Concealed Customization, as heavy armor helmets quite often obscure your character's face. (Later games have added cowls and hoods, which also have this effect.)
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • The Orcs have experienced this as a race. Originally, were simple "hurr durr smash hoomies" Tolkein-style Orcs with nothing particularly noteworthy about them (they weren't even playable in Arena or Daggerfall). Beginning with Morrowind, however, their characterization has shifted massively. Rather than just being dumb, they've been severely marginalized for ages - even their patron deity reflects this. The Imperial Legion of Emperor Uriel VII's time, among other things, however, helped them to begin to properly integrate into the Empire better - thus making them playable.
    • The Daedric Princes cross this over with Early Installment Weirdness. The personalities of many of the Princes are very different in their first appearance in Daggerfall than they would go on to be depicted in later games. Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is a notable example he didn't seem to settle into his Mad Hatter-esque characterization until his A Day in the Limelight episode in Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion. (Even his vocal appearance in his quest in vanilla Oblivion didn't match in voice or temperament.)
    • This is also the case for many of the types of lesser Daedra which have made multiple appearances in the series. Dremora and Auriels (Golden Saints) are two especially notable examples. Please see the series' Daedra Characters page for specific examples.
  • Character Level: Present, though used differently, in every game in the series to date. A full break down and explanation is available on the trope page.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower:
    • This is the case for non-magical classes throughout the series. By using the skills and/or purchasing training for the skills, one can build them up to achieve superhuman abilities. These include (but certainly aren't limited to) being able to outrun deer and outswim fish, jump several stories into the air, kill people and creatures with a single punch, turn invisible simply by crouching, and repeatedly jump across the surface of the water.
    • Use of the Thu'um. Anyone can learn to do it, if they're willing to dedicate decades of their life training to do so. In fact, it was one of the ancient Nords' most powerful weapons and aided them immensely in their conquests. What makes those who are Dragonborn special is that they can do this innately.
  • Charm Person:
    • Throughout the series, there exist various charm spells. They range from raising the disposition of NPCs in conversation to (temporarily) getting hostile NPCs to stop attacking to getting neutral NPCs to attack on your behalf.
    • The Imperial race has this as one of their hats, in line with their natural abilities as diplomats and leaders. They also tend to get large bonuses to their Speechcraft and Mercantile skills. Their "Voice of the Emperor" racial power acts as semi-powerful aforementioned "charm" spell.
    • A near-universal trait of the series' vampire bloodlines is the ability to "enthrall" mortal servants.
    • Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes, counts among his associated artifacts the Masque of Clavicus Vile. The Masque is a powerful helmet enchanted to turn its wearer into a Charm Person.
  • Cheap Gold Coins: Standard for the series. Even the cheapest items in the game (usually Vendor Trash) generally cost at least a few gold coins (called Septims), with no lower value currency anywhere to be found. Hilariously, a gold ingot can be sold for more gold coins than that ingot would reasonably be able to produce.
  • Chekhov's Gun: On Oblivion is an in-game book which first appeared in Daggerfall. It mentions Jyggalag as a Daedric Prince, though he would not appear (as himself) until Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion two games later.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Subverted throughout most of the series. Almost everyone you encounter is named and can be talked to, but the vast majority are unimportant.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: Averted in that the Red Mountain from Morrowind never erupts in the game itself. However, due in large part to the Player Character's actions in that game, the Oblivion Crisis, and the Ministry of Truth Colony Drop, Red Mountain does erupt prior to Skyrim. As a result, Vvardenfell's settlements were destroyed and much of mainland Morrowind was left under a choking cloud of dust. (These events are known as the "Red Year".) Many of the Dunmer people were forced to flee, both due to those events and the subsequent Argonian invasion, with many settling in Skyrim and Solstheim.
  • Cherry Tapping: There are plenty of pitifully weak, borderline Joke Item weapons throughout the series to engage in this if you so choose. It can be quite satisfying to kill a high-level enemy with a prison shank, or a wooden toy sword, or a cursed dinner fork. Further, this can even be beneficial in some games. Repeated hits with a weak weapon will increase the associated skill faster than killing that same foe in one hit with a strong weapon.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • The Daedric Prince Mephala, also known as the Webspinner and the Lady of Whispers, is known for her complex, long-reaching plans that are likened to spider webs. Being "the Chessmaster" falls well within her sphere of influence.
    • The giant slug-like beastmen, the Sload, view this as a societal ideal. Sload tales have their heroes sitting around for very long periods of time, consulting wiser Sload and performing subtle actions to further very long goals, while Sload villains are bold and audacious types who always rush and always lose to the hero's careful manipulations. The Sload idea of what is "right" or "wrong" tends to differ a lot from the other races.
    • Throughout the series' until his death at the start of Oblivion, Emperor Uriel Septim VII was one. His Imperial Legions were nowhere near the fighting force they once were and his Empire was only maintained through his elaborate schemes, shrewd diplomacy, and political maneuvering. His shift to a methodical politician was a stark change from his early reign, where he was more of an aggressive integrator.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Wherever they appear in the series, Dremora (a Proud Warrior Race of lesser Daedra typically found in the service of Mehrunes Dagon as his Legions of Hell) tend to ham it up with the best of them.
  • Child Prodigy: Reman Cyrodiil, founder of the Second Cyrodiilic Empire, was a child when coronated. According to the heavily stylized in-game book Remanada, Reman was still an infant. (Other, more realistic, sources still state that he was no older than 13 at the oldest.) In any case, this proves well-justified. Reman was very much 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.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Crassius Curio, a 3rd Era councilor of Great House Hlaalu. He most famously wrote a semi-pornographic play known as The Lusty Argonian Maid. Even centuries later, the work was popular enough to generate a sequel and a Gender Flipped version for the ladies, The Sultry Argonian Bard. Despite these (and other) uncouth proclivities, Curio was one of the few House Hlaalu councilors above the corruption of the Camonna Tong and was actively working to make Morrowind a better place.
  • Choice of Two Weapons: Just about all of the non-gunpowder combination options are available. Bow and melee weapon? Yep. Melee weapon and spell? Yep. Two melee weapons? Of course. Use, for example, your big claymore to take down slower enemies and then switch to your short blade to take out faster ones. The combinations are limited only by the level of the associated skill. There is also the possibility to use Hand-to-Hand combat as one of your "weapons," although it's not always an effective choice. Skyrim finally introduces the ability to Dual Wield to the series, allowing two melee weapons to be wielded at once at the cost of no longer being able to block.
  • Chokepoint Geography: Pops up throughout the series and backstory, though is largely justified in the same ways it was during the ancient/medieval eras in real life. For example, Ghostgate was intentionally constructed as the only way through the Ghostfence into Red Mountain.
  • The Chooser of The One: While the series in general likes the idea of "Chosen One" heroes who are the only ones who can save the world from its latest existential threat, the deities of the series who typically put forth these heroes often reserve the right to change their mind about exactly who the chosen one is. The most prominent example is Azura in Morrowind, who sets forth a criteria for the Nerevarine, and anyone who meets said criteria can become the Nerevarine.
  • The Chosen One: The series' in general has the in-universe, metaphysical concept of "heroes". These are rare individuals not bound in any way by fate and who have the ability to rule their own destiny. Heroes are closely related to the prophecies revealed in the Elder Scrolls, but are not bound by them, and they often grow to become far more powerful than most other mortals (sometimes to the point of becoming Physical Gods or outright Deities Of Human Origin). Each Player Character in the series to date has been such a "hero", and many others are mentioned in the series' lore (often as Long Dead Badasses and Founders Of Their Kingdoms).
  • The Chosen People: The series includes numerous forms of deities who have had direct, tangible impacts on the mortal world. Included are these deities expressing favoritism toward specific races or groups of people. To note a few prominent examples:
    • Both Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god of Mundus (the mortal plane), and the Aedra, "original spirit" beings who followed Lorkhan's plan to create Mundus, are said to "belove" the races of Men. Both Lorkhan (in his various Shezzarine forms) and the Aedra have directly aided the races of Men in conflicts against the Races of Mer (Elves) over the centuries, (particularly during the Alessian Revolt of the 1st Era). In the words of one of their own, these beings love the races of Men because they find "strength-in-weakness" in their mortal forms (as opposed to most of the Elves who feel that the mortal world is a prison) and who live with passion and hope despite always being doomed to death in the end.
    • The Dunmer (Dark Elves) primarily worship three patron Daedric Princes ("original spirits" who did not participate in the creation of Mundus) - Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. Known as the "Good Daedra" to the Dunmer, these deities led them away from their decadent Altmeri (High Elf) cousins in the Summerset Isles to their promised land of Morrowind (in a manner very similar to the Biblical Exodus). There, they taught the Dunmer to survive in its harsh climate surrounded by many powerful, antagonistic neighbors (Nords, Dwemer, etc.) They also taught the Dunmer how to avoid succumbing to the four "Bad Daedra" - Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, Sheogorath, and Malacath. Though the Dunmeri Tribunal caused the Dunmer to go away from the worship of the Good Daedra for a few thousand years, Azura (through the events of Morrowind) brought them back within her sway.
    • Speaking of Malacath, he provides a great example of how the deities of the series are subject to in-universe Alternative Character Interpretation depending on one's cultural lens. Considered a "Bad Daedra" by the Dunmer (and not considered much better by any other race), he is the patron and divine ancestor of the Orsimer (Orcish) people.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • You can choose to play this way if you so desire. As long as the character isn't marked "essential", you can turn right around and kill people you've just completed quests for.
    • Boethiah, the Daedric Prince of Plots (encompassing Deceit, Conspiracy, Murder, Assassination, Treason, Unlawful Overthrow of Authority, Betrayal...) is essentially the embodiment of this trope. He (sometimes "she") exists to cause and exacerbate this condition in mortals, and he is not above pulling this himself the moment his followers outlive their usefulness or simply because he is bored. Most of his quests throughout the series involve pulling this in one way or another. In Skyrim, Boethiah requires that you bring and sacrifice a follower (someone who trusts you) at her shrine in order to even summon her to receive her quest. (And that quest has you killing her other followers and then hunting down her "unworthy" former champion.)
    • Xivilai are a massive and powerful form of lesser Daedra. Xivilai are noted for their strong tendency toward betrayal in addition to their strong hatred of subordination.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • In general, the series' player characters have a semi-enforced and downplayed variant: the following games do acknowledge what happened in the preceding ones, and they do touch upon the character in question, insofar as the character would be known to the public. However, details that would vary from play-through to play-through (race, sex, play style, etc.) are, for the most part, strenuously avoided, presumably to avoid invalidating people's play-throughs and to avert Cutting Off the Branches. Additionally, according to the developers, "all the quest chains present in the game happen, but not all are necessarily done by the [Player Character]."
    • General Warhaft, the leader of the Imperial Legions under Uriel Septim VII and author of several in-game books about armor and fighting, was imprisoned along with Septim during the Imperial Simulacrum by the usurper Jagar Tharn. Unlike Septim, there is no mention of him ever being rescued, and by the time of Oblivion, the Legions are under a new commander.
    • Ebonarm is a god of war worshiped in the Iliac Bay region and is held in high regard by the Redguards. He is a Black Knight with an ebony sword fused to his right arm and is never seen without his dark ebony armor. He is a noted adversary to most Daedric Princes and, despite being a god of war, usually appears on the battlefield to prevent bloodshed and reconcile the opposing sides. Ebonarm hasn't been mentioned in any form since Daggerfall, however. He has possibly even Unpersoned in The Elder Scrolls Online, where a book from Daggerfall appears that previously mentioned him, but has all mentions of Ebonarm removed.
  • Chupacabra: Hungers are a form of lesser Daedra that are very similar in appearance to the "alien-style" Chupacabra, complete with claws, spikes, and a "sucker" mouth. In fitting with the trope, Hungers are capable of draining the Fatigue of their prey and have have extremely long, weaponized tongues.
  • The Church:
    • Throughout the series, the Aedra-worshiping Temple of the Nine Divines is the primary religious sect of most of Tamriel and is the official religion of each incarnation of the Cyrodiilic Empire. It is treated as a Saintly Church in every facet, with it being uniformly benevolent in every series' appearance to date.
    • However, in the backstory, the Alessian Order was 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. It was a very solemn, strict, severe, spartan, and sometimes outright cruel Order. In addition to their pogrom against the remaining Ayleids in Cyrodiil (many of whom sided with St. Alessia during the Alessian Revolt and were allowed to keep their lands as vassals) which included the destruction of Ayleid artifacts and writings, the Order attempted to purge the gods themselves of their Elven basis. Wielding ill-begotten divine power, the Order 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 excesses of the Order would eventually become too much to accept and the Order would be destroyed in the War of Righteousness by an alliance of Tamriellic nations. However, their influence on Imperial law and religion can still be felt in the Empires that have come since their fall.
    • The Dunmeri Tribunal Temple is another. They worship ALMSIVI, or simply "the Tribunal," a trio of formerly mortal Physical Gods. Though thought of by most non-Dunmer as a Scam Religion, in ages past, when the Tribunal deities themselves lived and worked among their people, the Temple was an undeniable force of good. However, when the Tribunal were cut off from the source of their divine power, they were forced to withdraw from the day-to-day affairs of the Dunmer in order to conserve power. When mortal leaders took over the Temple, it quickly became a Corrupt Church (though individual worshipers could still fall anywhere on the scale). As a result of the events of Morrowind and its Tribunal expansion, the Tribunal are permanently cut off from the source of their power and two wind up dead. As revealed in Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC, the "New Temple" has been formed in the two centuries since Morrowind took place, and it is quite a bit less corrupt. The "Good Daedra" Anticipations of the Tribunal (Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala) are slotted back in as the Temple's chief deities known as "Reclamations", while the Tribunal themselves have been demoted to Saints.
  • Church Militant: Several are seen throughout the series.
    • The Dunmeri Tribunal Temple has the Ordinators. Decked out in the sacred Indoril armor of their order and typically wielding Ebony Maces, they are a militant force to be reckoned with in Morrowind. They closely hold the most conservative values of the Dunmer and have a very wide definition of what qualifies as blasphemy. In addition, the Temple also has the Buoyant Armigers, elite special forces hand-picked for service by Physical God Vivec himself. Almalexia has the High Ordinators in her service, even stronger and better equipped than their standard counterparts.
    • Retired or undercover Blades agents tend to become monks in the Order of Talos. They're quite capable of defending themselves with the skills of their past profession if needed.
    • The Vigilants of Stendarr formed after the events of the Oblivion Crisis, and are dedicated to wiping out all manner of supernatural evil in Tamriel. Oddly enough (or, perhaps fittingly,) they are dedicated to the God of Mercy.
  • Church Police:
    • As mentioned above, the Ordinators of the Tribunal Temple also qualify for this trope. They have a very broad interpretation of the religious laws they uphold.
    • The 4th Era Thalmor cross this over with outright fascism. Part of the White Gold Concordat's terms was a ban of Talos worship across the Empire. Thalmor agents ("Justicars") are allowed to wander Imperial territory and enforce this ban, imprisoning and executing any suspected Talos worshipers they find, as well as any others they deem as "dissidents" or "undesirables". Naturally, they have very broad interpretations of who qualifies...
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Various types of magical stone formations dot the landscapes of Tamriel bestowing different blessings upon those who seek them out. Some, such as the Doom Stones in Cyrodiil, have specific requirements like only being usable at night or after a certain amount of renown is acquired. The Standing Stones of Skyrim bestow various birthsign powers on those who activate them, but only one can be active at a time. (Two with a unique artifact.)
  • City Guards:
    • Standard throughout the series. While not inherently superior to the player character in terms of strength, they are more numerous and typically attack in groups. They can be killed, though each one killed adds significantly to the bounty the character must pay off to avoid jail time. Unlike in most video games, the city guards will always remember who you are, too. If you are wanted, they will try to apprehend you on sight. Given how much of the series is spent in cities, it is usually a good idea to just accept the fines or jail-time they offer you rather than fight them. Further, they will attempt to arrest you rather than kill you immediately. You may choose to pay the fine or go to jail if arrested, though in either case, the guard will confiscate any stolen items you may have. You can also choose to resist arrest, which will make all guards in the area immediately hostile to you. The exception is if you have such a high bounty (usually 5000 gold, which is 5 murders worth fines or stealing one priceless item) that they mark you for death on sight. At that point, your only options are to complete one of the (rare) quests that clears your bounty upon completion, or seek out the Thieves' Guild to make your bounty go away.
    • In-universe, city guard duty is one of the peacetime duties of the Imperial Legion. They almost exclusively make up the guard units in Cyrodiil itself, capital of the Empire, but also serve as the guards of Imperial settlements in the provinces.
  • City of Canals
    • Vivec, prior to it's destruction when the Ministry of Truth crashed down. It looked nothing like the Venetian version either — each of its city blocks is a single gargantuan building (a 'canton') rising up from the water, and the bridges binding the cantons together are part of the buildings themselves.
    • Bravil in Cyrodiil. The number of canals is more limited, but contributes well to the city's atmosphere as an impoverished dump. It's built over a swamp, after all. A modestly pestilential one.
    • Riften in Skyrim. It is very similar to Bravil, and is also a wretched hive of corruption and crime.
  • Civil War:
    • There have been numerous throughout the series' backstory. To note:
      • While each race of Mer (Elves) split off from the ancient Aldmer under typically unfriendly circumstances, most of the groups left under peaceful self-exile. However, the very first race of Mer to split off, the Maormer (Sea Elves) of Pyandonea, were banished after starting a Civil War in the ancient Mer homeland of Aldmeris. They were forbidden to ever return to their homeland.
      • The very first Atmoran migrants to Tamriel (ancestors to the modern Nords) were said to have crossed the northern seas to escape the constant Civil Wars plaguing their homeland.
      • The First Cyrodiilic Empire came to an end after centuries of civil conflict. Most prominent was the conflict between the two sub-groups who make up the Imperial race - the Colovians (hardy highlanders who have more in common with the Nords) and the Nibenese (cosmopolitan heartlanders famed for their "merchant nobility"). The Colovians split with the declining empire, leading to dozens of squabbling petty kingdoms vying for control. It would be centuries until Reman Cyrodiil came along to reunite the people of Cyrodiil and found the Second Empire.
      • The continent of Yokuda, to the west of Tamriel, saw a bloody civil war waged between the Ansei, or "Sword Saints", and the forces of the Yokudan Emperor, Hira, who was attempting to consolidate power by eliminating the Ansei. After urging from his son and fellow Ansei, the legendary Frandar Hunding reluctantly led the "greatly outnumbered" forces of the Ansei against the corrupt Yokudan Emperor Hira. Frandar and the Ansei were victorious, but were considered "red with blood" by the citizens and chose to self-exile to Tamriel following the conflict. (Yokuda itself would be "sunk beneath the sea" not long after.)
      • Hammerfell, home of the Redguards, saw a civil war erupt in the late 2nd Era between the Crowns, descended from Yokudan nobility, and the Forebears, descended from the "Warrior Wave" of Ra'Gada (including the Ansei) who secured Hammerfell for the migrating Yokudan people. The civil war left both sides weak and allowed Tiber Septim to easily capture Hammerfell for his new Empire.
      • The War of the Red Diamond in the 3rd Era is one of the most famous of modern times. After the death of Emperor Antiochus Septim, his 15 year old daughter Kintrya II took over as Empress. However, her aunt, the infamous "Wolf Queen" Potema, accused Kintrya of being a bastard and therefore illegitimate. Potema declared her son (nephew to Antiochus), Uriel III, as the rightful heir. Potema and Uriel were joined by the disgruntled leaders of several of the Empire's provinces in starting the war, as well as an alliance with the aforementioned Maormer, who invaded southern Tamriel, creating a two-front war for the strained Empire. Kintrya would be captured by Potema's forces and would die in captivity. However, her supporters, now led by her uncle Cephorus, would strike back and kill Uriel III, ending his claim to the throne. Cephorus would take over as Emperor, defeat most of Potema's forces, and then kill Potema herself after a protracted 10 year insurgency. It was the largest conflict the 3rd Empire of Tamriel had faced since it was founded. (And would remain as such until the Oblivion Crisis.)
    • The Skyrim Civil War of 4E 201 is another, with a full breakdown of the belligerents and situation available on the trope page.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: St. Alessia, the "Slave Queen", was the leader of the 1st Era rebellion of Cyrodiil's human population against the Daedra-worshiping Ayleids, now known as the Alessian Revolt. After escaping slavery herself, she prayed to the Aedra for aid, and they answered by lending aid against the Ayleid forces both subtly and directly. Akatosh, the draconic chief deity of the Aedra, imbued Alessia with "Dragon Blood" and placed her soul in the central stone of the Amulet of Kings, symbolizing Akatosh's covenant with mankind to protect Mundus from the forces of Oblivion (the Daedra). As part of her Bargain with Heaven, she created the religion of the Eight Divines, worshiping the eight Aedra who aided her, to be the religion of her new Empire in return.
  • Clairvoyant Security Force: Played unerringly straight throughout the series. It reaches ridiculous levels as guards will sometimes chase players across the entirety of the game world in order to apprehend you for that 40 gold assault bounty (sometimes following you into dangerous dungeons or even Oblivion itself). Within a city, the guards are able to home in on your position, even if you break their line of sight.
  • The Clan: The traditional Dunmer Great Houses are a combination of blood relatives and adopted members which have grown out of the original Chimeri tribes who settled Morrowind thousands of years ago. Each House has its own specialty: House Telvanni is led by ancient wizards, House Hlaalu is for merchants and thieves, House Redoran is the warrior house, House Indoril is tightly bound up with the Temple, so effectively a house for rulers, administrators, and priests, and House Dres are traditionalist slavers. The Big Bad of Morrowind is the titular head of "the sixth house," House Dagoth, which had been forcibly dissolved after his (perceived) treachery thousands of years ago.
  • Class and Level System: The first four games in the main series all have similar variations of this system (with a few quirks varying by game). In general, at the start of the game, you choose a class (or create a custom class) which comes with a set of preferred skills which each get a decent initial bonus. With every 10 increases of these skills, you gain a Character Level. The character level allows you to increase some of your Attributes (Strength, Intelligence, etc.), with multipliers based on the amount of times you leveled up the skills which those attributes govern. (For example, if you increase Heavy Armor 5 times, you'll get a x5 multiplier to Endurance, which governs the Heavy Armor skill.) In each game (and played Up to Eleven in Oblivion), Empty Levels (or at least inefficient levels) are possible if you don't carefully monitor your skill increases for the maximum amount of multipliers per level. (More details about this are available on the Empty Levels trope page.) Skyrim overhauls this system, doing away with classes and attributes entirely. Borrowing a bit from its Bethesda Fallout sister series, Skyrim brings in elements of Skill Scores and Perks instead.
  • Classical Tongue:
    • Ancient Aldmeris is the closest to the real world Latin example. It hasn't so much been lost, as it's simply evolved into several distinct but clearly related languages. It tends to pop up in scholarly works, again similar to Latin.
    • The languages of the Dwemer and Falmer have been lost to time, which is logical since those who could read it have either vanished or have been deformed into unintelligent, goblin-like creatures. Translating each is a plot point in Morrowind and Skyrim quests respectively.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: In addition to some actual items which behave this way as part of quests, there is the meta example of "Quest Items." Starting with Oblivion, items essential to completing a quest cannot be dropped until the associated quest is completed. Unfortunately, quite a few of them are bugged so that they remain undroppable even after the quest is completed, leaving you stuck with these items as eternal inventory clutter. One popular mod for both Oblivion and Skyrim removes the quest item tag altogether, which means being careful not to lose the items, just like the earlier games in the series.
  • Cloak & Dagger:
    • Bretons tend to be extremely talented in pursuits of espionage. Breton double agents, assassins, and spies have turned the tide of wars throughout recorded history. It was in fact a Breton assassin who killed the Colovian Petty King Cuchulain leading to the ascension of Cuchulain's General as his replacement. That General's name? Tiber Septim.
    • Mephala is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is "obscured to mortals" (fitting for this trope), but who is associated with manipulation, lies, sex, and secrets. Given all that is within her sphere, she could be considered the patron deity of spies and assassins. The Dunmer consider her as this directly, as she is the patron of the Morag Tong.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander:
    • Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is pretty much obliged to follow this trope.
      "I've been waiting for you, or someone like you, or someone not like you."
      "Well, looks like the cat's out of the bag now... who puts cats in bags, anyway? Cats hate bags."
      "But enough about me. Let's talk about you. I could turn you into a goat. Or a puddle. Or a bad idea. I could make you eat your own fingers. Or fall in love with a cloud. Perhaps... I could make you into something useful."
    "I once dug a pit and filled it with clouds... or was it clowns?... Come to think of it, it began to smell... must have been clowns. Clouds don't smell, they taste of butter. And tears."
    • M'aiq the Lair is a recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character who fits on two levels. To note:
      • 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. Given his role, he comes off as very detached from the setting and many of his statements make absolutely no sense in-universe, making him appear as one of these.
      • All of his incarnations to date have at least a few odd quirks in-game as well. For example, in Morrowind, he fishes alone on a remote island wearing a stylish but impractical hat. In Oblivion, he often enters ruins and caves (which has likely startled more than a few players) to search for calipers for 5 hours at a time, enters Valenwood along his route between Anvil and Leywiin, and has been known to occasionally chase deer. In Skyrim, he always has skooma on his person and can be encountered in a wide variety of odd situations, including him standing next to a burned cart, several dead human bodies, and the corpse of a dragon.
    • Demiprinces are a form of lesser Daedra born from the union of a Daedra and a mortal. Their dual nature gives them an odd perception of the world and time itself. Fa-Nuit-Hen, a famous Demiprince, talks of events as happening, happened, and will-or-maybe-happening at some point, all at once. They are even considered "eccentric" by the standards of other Daedra.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, has one in his chamberlain, Haskill, who also doubles as the Only Sane Man within Sheogorath's realm, the Shivering Isles. Despite his best efforts, it is rather difficult to truly "mind" a god of madness.
  • Clueless Boss: These are quite common in the Mages Guild as well as the various Wizarding Schools throughout the series. Given their tendency for kicking people upstairs and reassigning them to Antarctica, this is the logical end result for the Mages Guild. (Perhaps it's little wonder that the Guild collapses in the 4th Era.)
  • The Coconut Effect: Games in the series feature a day/night system with night colors vivid enough for distant objects to be seen clearly, albeit in blue tones. Naturally, many players feel that these nights are unrealistically bright, leading to numerous "darker nights" Game Mods which make it near-impossible to see without a light source (torch, lantern, spell, etc.). In actuality, the vanilla games are very faithful to what a pastoral country would look like with no electric light pollution, especially considering the large size and brightness of Mundus' twin moons in the night sky.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, is a major fan of inflicting this. He loves taking good and noble mortals, then seeing them break. For those who prove resistant to his tortures, he has the ability to fragment their souls, essentially a form of Mind Rape which causes them to lose or forget about that which gives them strength. Molag Bal's plane of Oblivion, Coldharbour, is designed to torment a person as horribly and efficiently as possible. The ground is sludge, the sky is on fire, and the air is freezing. It resembles a ruined and desecrated copy of Nirn that is filled with suffering and "spattered" with blood and excrement. It contains charnel houses full of the dead and slave pens beyond count. The very smell of the place is enough to break most mortals. It is said that no mortals willingly visit this place except in error.
    • Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares, has this within her sphere. She can cause Mind Rapes by afflicting mortals with ceaseless, horrific nightmares. For a mortal, simply being in her realm, Quagmire, can be this. Quagmire changes for the viewer every few moments in a flash of lightning to something even more horrific than before.
    • Xivilai are a massive and powerful form of lesser Daedra. Xivilai are noted to be skilled torturers who revel in the act, particularly when torturing mortals.
    • The Thalmor are exceptionally fond of this trope. In addition to grisly blood spatters and skeletons chained to the walls, their dungeons usually contain torture racks, embalming tools, and axes.
  • Cold-Blooded Whatever: The Argonians are a swamp-dwelling Lizard Folk. Their physiology is chiefly and visibly reptilian, however they also have elements of amphibians (said to be "sequential hermaphrodites", meaning they can switch genders, though this hasn't been brought up in-game other than from a dubious source) and fish (gills which allow them to breath underwater, and shows up in-game as a Water Breathing racial ability).
  • Collection Sidequest:
    • Present throughout the series as one of the varieties the Loads and Loads of Sidequests take. Usually, the quests are more well-rounded than simply "collect X number of Y item", but a few of these still slip in. Specific game examples can be found on the trope page.
    • In general, you can make unofficial collection quests out of what ever you want. Want to collect all of the game's legendary artifacts? Absolutely. Want to pick up a copy of every in-game book? Heck yes. Want to collect every piece of a type of Vendor Trash instead? You can do that too. Weapons, armor, wheels of cheese, pots, skulls, forks, bolts of cloth, specific Organ Drops...the list goes on. And because most games allow you to purchase or build a home (or several), you'll have a handy place for storing and displaying whatever it is you've chosen to collect.
  • Collector of the Strange:
    • As mentioned above, you can choose to become one. Everything from legendary artifacts to random Vendor Trash and Organ Drops are options if you so choose.
    • In-Universe, a few are known. Ancient Wizard Divayth Fyr collects Dwemer artifacts and items associated with the Imperial Battlespire event. Fellow ancient wizard Master Neloth collects the staves of Azra Nightwielder, a master of "shadow" magic. (When you're a several thousand year old wizard, it seems that you need a hobby.)
  • Colon Cancer: Common in the official tie-in books, such as lorebooks and art. For example, take the book The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - The Skyrim Library, Vol. 1: The Histories.
  • Combat and Support: Present in the Fighter, Mage, Thief breakdown of the series' classes/skills: Combat, Magic, and Stealth. Combat is Combat, Magic tends toward Support (though those focused on purely offensive magic can tend toward Combat as well), and Stealth is Balanced.
  • Combat Breakdown: In the games with Breakable Weapons, it is possible for a weapon to break in the middle of combat, leaving you to use a lesser backup weapon, your spells, or even your fists.
  • Combat by Champion:
    • Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt, will sometimes do this. If Hircine is not participating directly in one of his hunts, he will usually appoint a lesser Daedra (such as the Herne Egahirn in Battlespire) or a great were-beast to do the hunting instead. According to the 16 Accords of Madness, Hircine and Sheogorath agreed to a battle in this fashion. Each would choose a champion, and the two champions would battle. Hircine infected an ancient Daedroth with lycanthropy to serve as his champion. Sheogorath chose...a song bird. Hircine's champion ends up blinding itself and tearing itself apart while struggling to hit the song bird.
    • In the backstory, King Joile of Daggerfall convinced Gaiden Shinji, the legendary Redguard hero and leader of the Order of Diagna, to join him in the Siege of Orsinium (the home city-state/fortress of the Orcs). Joile then convinced Shinji, the Blademaster and founder of the Imperial City Arena, to participate in a Combat By Champion Duel to the Death against the Orc leader, Baloth Bloodtusk. As Shinji and Baloth were fighting, Joile ordered his archers to open fire on both of them. As it turned out, Joile not only wanted to sack Orsinium, but planned to invade Hammerfell after and knew that Shinji would have been a major obstacle. (Joile would get his comeuppance, dying during what would be a failed invasion of Hammerfell.)
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: Mechanically, the series offers these options, with "Diplomacy" skills (the Speechcraft and Mercantile) rolled into Stealth. In practice, resolving most quests requires someone dying with the option of sometimes sneaking past. As such, pure Diplomacy isn't really a viable option. Stealth is more useful, but still tends toward Combat (using sneak attacks to get Critical Hits and Backstabs for bonus damage). Diplomacy is also present in Mage builds via the Illusion school of magic, such as using spells to turn you into a temporary Charm Person. However, these spells are generally ineffective against targets which lack a mind (constructs, many forms of undead), so tend to be less useful than pure offensive spells.
  • Combat Medic:
    • Prior to the series doing away with classes in Skyrim, Healer is one of the stock classes available to play as. The class is titular at best, as the nature of series largely does not allow for Pacifist Runs, meaning you'll need some ability to kill enemies to succeed.
    • Healers have long served in the Imperial Legion, using Restoration magic to heal wounded soldiers. Battlemages are also trained for the duty, as seen during the Imperial invasion of Akavir, but are used only as a last resort as their Magicka is better spent offensively. Plenty of other military forces throughout Tamriel are known to employ Healers as well. This notably includes the Nords, who otherwise have a strong cultural dislike for magic and magic users.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • The Khajiit have this as a racial trait. The Khajiit language doesn't even have a word for "rules"; the closest concept is "foolish thoughts." Unsurprisingly, this extends to their methods in battle. They have no qualms with deception, trickery, and even outright fleeing battle if things don't go their way. They are more than willing to abandon their allies (after all, a smart ally would do the same!) or flee a fight if it means that they can turn around and come back later to stab their enemies in the back, raid their vulnerable supplies, or cut their throats while they sleep. As long as you win, anything goes.
    • Throughout the series, any stealth-focused Player Character qualifies. Ranged sneak attacks, Backstab Critical Hits with daggers, Hit-and-Run Tactics, using spells of Invisibility and Chameleon, using poisons, and much more are all within a stealthy character's bag of tricks. Pragmatism is the name of the game with a thief-type character, especially, because they're basically Glass Cannons.
  • Combat Tentacles: Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, possesses these. Unlike most of the other Daedric Princes, who take humanoid forms when dealing with mortals, Mora forgoes anything resembling a human for a pure Eldritch Abomination form of a mass of eyes, claws, and tentacles. He will use said tentacles to kill those who displease him, typically via Impaling With Extreme Prejudice.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A common trait in members of some of the more morally questionable factions throughout the series, including the Dark Brotherhood and the wizards of Great House Telvanni. Specific examples by game can be found on the trope page.
  • A Commander Is You: While not a strategy game, the various factions and nations of Tamriel fit quite neatly into the dynamic:
    • Cyrodiilic Empire: Balanced/Generalist/Economist. The largest nation in Tamriel, eschewing sheer martial and magical prowess in favour of shrewd diplomacy and its innumerable legions of well-trained and highly disciplined Imperial soldiers, under the command of talented generals, much like the real life Roman empire it is based on. They have conquered all Tamriel no less than three times in history.
    • Skyrim: Brute/Spammer/Unit Specialist (Shock Infantry). Lacking the technological and magical sophistication and abundant resources of its rivals, Skyrim has long relied on being a hard land that breeds hardy people. The traditional Nord way of war revolves around brutal charges of barbarian warriors armed with hefty swords and axes and clad in light armours (fur, hide and chainmail) to retain their mobility at little cost to protection. The Stormcloaks best demonstrate this style of warfare, combining with ingenuous deception strategies and guerrilla warfare. The first initiation rite for the Stormcloaks is to cross the frozen Pale, swim out to an iceberg in the middle of the freezing Sea of Ghosts and kill an undead ice wraith in single combat; if you survive all that and the trip back to Windhelm, you're in.
    • High Rock: Balanced/Unit Specialist (Magic Knights)/Espionage. The Bretons lack the physical prowess of the other Races of Men, but make up for it via magical enhancements. Every Breton has both a natural resistance to Magicka as well as a natural aptitude for it, making them exceptional Mage Killers and Magic Knights. High Rock also has a number of knightly orders and deep chivalric traditions. Bretons are also renowned for their skills in espionage, with Breton spies, assassins, and nightblades having turned the geopolitical tides of Tamriel multiple times in history. Their heaviest drawback beyond their lack of combat muscle is that High Rock is a heavily divided nation, with dozens of smaller city states ruled by minor nobility rolling up into larger kingdoms (Daggerfall, Wayrest, etc.) who are just as likely to wage war with one another than they are to unify against outside threats. (A situation reminiscent of renaissance Italy, which serves as one of their cultural inspirations.)
    • Hammerfell: Elitist/Brute/. The Redguards make for the finest swordsmen in Tamriel. In fact, their most sacred text is a treatise on sword techniques. They have no true standing army, but every citizen is expected to practice combat basics in order to defend the nation if called upon. Beyond that are various knightly orders which serves as Hammerfell's first line of defense. Unfortunately, they are the second least populous race (behind only the Orcs) and have deep political divides within their own nation (the Forebears vs. the Crowns) which hold their nation back. Tiber Septim was only able to conquer Hammerfell following a civil war, and a Redguard uprising was considered one of the biggest threats to the Septim Empire in the centuries that followed. When they seceded from the empire following the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, they were able to repulse the forces of the Aldmeri Dominion from Hammerfell completely on their own.
    • Orcs: Brute/Elitist/Unit Specialist (Heavy Infantry). Orcs are born for battle, fearless and formidable and brilliant smiths of weapons and armour, but their lack of numbers and resources has hampered their efforts in war and kingdom-building. Nevertheless they are the best heavy infantry in Tamriel.
    • Aldmeri Dominion: Elitist/Technical/Espionage. Every Aldmeri warrior is a skilled Magic Knight, equally adept with casting a bound sword as they are swinging a real one. Any one Altmer has a good chance of being older than you, more skilled than you and better than you. However they lack numbers and judging from their performance in direct warfare with the Empire, they rely heavily on covert operations to weaken their enemies before they move.
    • Valenwood: Guerrilla/Ranger/Unit Specialist (Archers). The Bosmer of Valenwood are the finest archers in all Tamriel, trained from a young age in the use of the bow and arrows and masterful hunters and scouts. However their ability in close combat is questionable and they lack heavy industry and even basic metalworking to build big armies.
    • Elsweyr: Balanced/Guerrilla/Gimmick. The Khajiit of Elsweyr take different forms ranging from the diminutive, magically gifted Alfiq to the powerful, elephant-sized Senche-raht. They are highly skilled in guerrilla warfare (as evidenced in the Five Year War with Valenwood in 3E 395), magic and direct warfare.
    • Black Marsh: Guerrilla/Turtle. The Argonians of Black Marsh do not keep standing armies, but have long relied on the fact that nobody else's armies can operate in the swampy environment of their homeland. Not Tiber Septim's Legions nor even the daedra of Oblivion could make much headway in. Their strategy in war is to simply allow the enemy to wither and then finish them off once they have weakened themselves.
    • House Redoran: Balanced/Brute. The Proud Warrior Race Great House of the Dunmer. Redoran maintains larges armies of warriors skilled in many different arms and armour, and maintain close ties to the Fighter's Guild. During the Oblivion Crisis and the subsequent years, Redoran was instrumental in fending off the daedra and emerged as a major player in Morrowind.
    • House Hlaalu: Balanced/Economist/Diplomat. The Proud Merchant Race Great House of the Dunmer. Hlaalu is the richest and most influential house, fast-talking and intelligent traders with strong ties to the Empire. However during the Oblivion Crisis their advantage turned into a liability as the legions abandoned Morrowind to defend Cyrodiil; with their key ally gone and little remaining ability to fend for themselves, they were decimated and even stripped of their status.
    • House Telvanni: Elitist/Gimmick/Unit Specialist (Magic). The Proud Scholar Race Great House of the Dunmer. A house composed of talented but ambitious and egocentric mages. They wield powerful magical arts but have few allies or interests outside their personal ambitions and research. Nevertheless they were instrumental in shutting the Oblivion gates and saving Morrowind during the Oblivion Crisis.
  • The Commandments:
    • The Nine Divines have their own version:
      1. Stendarr says: Be kind and generous to the people of Tamriel. Protect the weak, heal the sick, and give to the needy.
      2. Arkay says: Honor the earth, its creatures, and the spirits, living and dead. Guard and tend the bounties of the mortal world, and do not profane the spirits of the dead.
      3. Mara says: Live soberly and peacefully. Honor your parents, and preserve the peace and security of home and family.
      4. Zenithar says: Work hard, and you will be rewarded. Spend wisely, and you will be comfortable. Never steal, or you will be punished.
      5. Talos says: Be strong for war. Be bold against enemies and evil, and defend the people of Tamriel.
      6. Kynareth says: Use Nature's gifts wisely. Respect her power, and fear her fury.
      7. Dibella says: Open your heart to the noble secrets of art and love. Treasure the gifts of friendship. Seek joy and inspiration in the mysteries of love.
      8. Julianos says: Know the truth. Observe the law. When in doubt, seek wisdom from the wise.
      9. Akatosh says: Serve and obey your Emperor. Study the Covenants. Worship the Nine, do your duty, and heed the commands of the saints and priests.
      10. The Nine say: Above all else, be good to one another.
    • 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, had a set known as the "Exclusionary Mandates":
    The Exclusionary Mandates of Maruhkite Selection: All Are Equal
    1: That the Supreme Spirit Akatosh is of unitary essence, as proven by the monolinearity of Time.
    1: That Shezarr the missing sibling is Singularly Misplaced and therefore Doubly Venerated.
    1: That the protean substrate that informs all denial of (1) is the Aldmeri Taint.
    1: That the Prophet Most Simian demonstrated that monothought begets Proper-Life.
    1: That the purpose of Proper-Life is the Expungement of the Taint.
    1: That the Arc of Time provides the mortal theater for the Sacred Expungement.
    • The Dark Brotherhood, an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil, has a set known as the Five Tenets:
      Tenet 1: Never dishonor the Night Mother. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
      Tenet 2: Never betray the Dark Brotherhood or its secrets. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
      Tenet 3: Never disobey or refuse to carry out an order from a Dark Brotherhood superior. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
      Tenet 4: Never steal the possessions of a Dark Brother or Dark Sister. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
      Tenet 5: Never kill a Dark Brother or Dark Sister. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
  • Commonplace Rare: Several alchemical ingredients qualify throughout the series. For example, you'd think you could get human flesh and human hearts from every enemy you kill, but they're some of the rarest ingredients, and are never looted directly from human enemies.
  • Common Tongue: While the series features many languages in background lore, both extant and extinct, there is only one common language spoken in the games (typically referred to as Tamriellic or Cyrodiilic), which is an Acceptable Break From Reality for the player's convenience.
  • Compelling Voice:
  • Compilation Re-release: The series got one for PC only in the form of the Elder Scrolls Anthology, released in 2013. It contains the five main games in the series (Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim) as well as the expansions/DLC for the latter three.
  • Complete Immortality: This is a trait of the et'Ada, the "original spirits" who formed from the raw energynote  of the early universe. Depending on the actions of these et'Ada during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane, they would become either the Aedra or the Daedra. To note:
    • The Aedra (meaning "our ancestors" in Old Aldmeris) sacrificed large parts of their divine power to create Mundus, and have thus lost their Complete Immortality. There were originally many Aedra, the majority of whom sacrificed so much during creation that they died, becoming the "Earthbones" (essentially the laws of nature/physics/reality that a functioning world requires). Of the survivors, the eight most prominent have been grouped together as the Eight Divines, who are worshiped in the primary religion of Tamriel. As they've sacrificed much of their power and even their true immortality, they can be killed. (According to some versions of the myth, they are already dead but "dream" that they are alive, allowing them some influence over the world they created.) As such, they prefer a lighter touch in dealing with mortal affairs and prefer acting through mortal agents whenever possible. They generally save any acts of direct Divine Intervention for the most dire circumstances to avert The End of the World as We Know It.
    • The Daedra ("not our ancestors") did not make any sacrifice during creation, and thus retain their full divine power and Complete Immortality. If a Daedra manifests in a mortal form on Mundus and that mortal form is slain, their spirit simply returns to Oblivion to reform. The Daedric Princes are the 17 most prominent and powerful Daedric beings. While they have been battered, beaten, banished, and even fundamentally changed, nothing in the setting has ever been able to actually kill one, not even the other Daedric Princes.
  • Composite Character: In-Universe cases:
    • According to some sources, this is a possibility for Talos, the deity. Whatever Mind Screwy, Reality Warping process was responsible for his ascent to godhood, it brought together multiple timelines where he was all of Ysmir, Hjalti Earlybeard, and any other historical figures attributed to him, regardless of the conflicts. He even went as far as to do a Cosmic Retcon and make himself one man as a mortal in the past. Talos' very being may also involve the Merger of Souls with Zurin Arctus, Wulfharth Ash-King, Lorkhan/Shor/Shezarr, "Emperor Zero" Cuhlecain, and possibly others.
    • Similarly true for Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal. Their use of the Heart of Lorkhan to achieve godhood is said to have brought together two timelines: one where they were the mortal advisors Voryn Dagoth, Vehk, Ayem, and Seht who ascended to godhood, and another where they had always been gods. If you can decipher the insanity, Vivec's 36 Lessons explains some of the details of this.
  • Compressed Hair: Played straight. No matter how much hair your character has, it will all fit neatly under a helmet once equipped. This even applied to the ears/horns/frills of Khajiit and Argonians.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Instances pop up on occasion throughout the series. Most common are instances where you are given incorrect directions by a quest giver (or they are given correctly, but recorded incorrectly in the journal/quest log). This has become less of an issue in the games with quest markers. Other examples include items or abilities having errors in their descriptions. Specific examples by game can be found on the trope page.
  • Concealed Customization: Present throughout the series. All helmets conceal the hair and many helmets conceal the face as well. Especially glaring because your armor bonus (and armor perks in Skyrim) depends on wearing armor over all parts of your body, so skipping the helmet because you want to show show your character's face means you're going to take a hit on your entire defense.
  • The Confidant: The leaders of the Blades, who have long served the Tamriellic Emperors as bodyguards and spies, are naturally this toward the emperors as well as being Secret Keepers. For example, Blades Grandmaster Jauffre was entrusted by Emperor Uriel Septim VII to take and hide away Uriel's bastard son, Martin. This was kept secret, even from Martin, until the events of Oblivion Crisis forced Jauffre to reveal it.
  • Conlang:
    • The series boasts several. The most complete is Daedric, the alphabet of which is simply a cypher for the English alphabet. Falmeris, Dwemeris, and Ayleidoon also appear, but are largely incomplete. The series' also has the yet-untranslated "Elder" alphabet, where its characters appear on such Eldritch items as the Elder Scrolls themselves as well as the Eye of Magnus.
    • The Draconic language, Dovahzul, is spoken by dragons and is the language of Dragon Shouts. It also has a 34 character alphabet, based on the symbols a dragon would be able to make with its claws.
  • The Conqueror: There have been several throughout Tamriel's history.
    • Most notable is Emperor Tiber Septim (born either Talos Stormcrown in Atmora or Hjalti Early-Beard in High Rock, or possibly both), who became the first person to unite all of Tamriel under his rule (as the Third Cyrodiilic Empire) and after his death became the Ninth Divine, Talos. He did so primarily through, well, conquest, but gained a couple provinces through shrewd diplomacy as well (such as the peaceful vassalization of Morrowind).
    • Reman Cyrodiil, founder of the Second Empire, conquered less territory than Septim later did, but was no less influential on Tamrielic history and culture. The capital province of the Empire, Cyrodiil, still bears his name (though conflicting sources in-game state that he probably took the name of the country for himself - it was called "Cyrod" by the Ayleids). Coronated as a child, Reman quickly proved to be something of a Child Prodigy/Bunny-Ears Lawyer, reuniting the two halves of Cyrodiil (Colovia and Nibenay), and then the other kingdoms of Men (High Rock and Skyrim). He later defeated the Akaviri invasion and absorbed the survivors into his fledgling proto-empire. He would not, however, take the title of Emperor in his lifetime.
    • Uriel Septim V, the 17th Emperor of Tiber's Third Empire, is considered a warrior-emperor second only to Tiber himself in Imperial history. Inheriting an Empire wracked with internal strife and floundering support in the provinces, Uriel V would lead the Third Empire back to greatness by launching a series of invasions outside of Tamriel. Over a span of 13 years, he conquered several island nations in the Padomaic Sea to the east of Tamriel. Then, he invaded Akavir itself. Despite initial successes, he would fail to conquer Akavir as he had hoped, and would fall there in battle himself, making a Heroic Sacrifice to cover the retreat of his legions.
    • Though he was originally a peaceful immigrant from Atmora, the ancient King Ysgramor became one after the Falmer (Skyrim's native Snow Elves) sacked and slaughtered the Atmoran city of Saarthal. Ysgramor returned to Atmora, recruited an army of 500 of Atmora's greatest warriors, and brought them back to Skyrim where he led them on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Falmer. He conquered Skyrim for mankind ever after, and his line would create the first Empire of Men in Tamriel, expanding as far as High Rock and Morrowind at its height.
  • Conscription: The Redguards of Hammerfell provide a unique case, as Hammerfell does not have a traditional standing army. Instead, every adult Redguard is expected to have a grasp of basic weaponry and combat to act in defense of their homeland if needed. Those who show exceptional skill are then accepted into Hammerfell's various knightly orders, which act as Hammerfell's first line of defense.
  • Constructed World: The series has a very deep and well-constructed universe. The Aurbis, the totality of creation, is split into Aetherius, Oblivion, and Mundus. Mundus is the "mortal plane" and contains the world, Nirn. Nirn contains the known continents of Tamriel, Akavir, Atmora, Aldmeris, Yokuda, and Pyandonea. (Some of which are believed to have been lost or destroyed.) The games themselves have so far only taken place on Tamriel.
  • Consummate Liar: Rajhin, the legendary Khajiiti Impossible Thief, was known to be exceptionally duplicitous and deceitful. Very befitting traits for a thief who, for example, stole from the Daedric Princes, stole a tattoo from the sleeping Empress, and even stole an entire city (which remained missing for several years until it mysteriously returned on its own).
  • Contemptible Cover:
    • The series started off playing this entirely straight with Arena, the cover of which features a barbarian girl in skanky Stripperiffic Breast Plates, the likes of which appears nowhere in the rather Fanserviceless game. Arguably justified, however, in that Arena started off as a gladiatorial team combat game and only evolved into the open-world RPG after marketing materials (like the cover) were already designed. Daggerfall began the trend away from this sort of cover, with the series settling into the minimalistic cover art it is now known for starting with Morrowind.
    • The cover of Battlespire goes all three ways at once: it's significant (weapon and enemy show-off), minimalistic, and features the Sexy Silhouette of a Daedra Seducer.
  • Continuing Is Painful:
    • Averted when the Player Character actually dies. You simply reload your last save and pick back up from there, with the only loss being of any progress since then. Nothing else changes in the game world.
    • Played straight with continuing if you have a bounty and are caught by a guard. You'll be given three options: pay the fine (set based on the crime you committed), go to jail, or resist arrest. Paying the fine isn't too bad of a penalty for anyone other than a brand new starting character thanks to the series' Money for Nothing. Going to jail causes one of your skills (chosen at random) to atrophy. Again, nothing too horrible. However, choosing any option other than "resist arrest" causes the guard to confiscate any stolen goods you are carrying (which may be a much bigger problem). Thankfully, you can steal them back from "evidence" chests in nearby forts, guard houses, and jails, but this can still be painful.
  • Continuity Porn: The series plays heavily with this, in that each game in the series generally has in-game books referencing and explaining the events of the previous game, but not only has a plot independent of previous games, it can actually use the time-warping effects endemic to the setting ("Dragon Breaks") to contradict details revealed in past games (the most prominent example being the retconning of the central province of Cyrodil previously described as an Equatorial Rainforest in promotional materials, to a more traditional European-style fantasy setting).
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • In general, canon and continuity are almost meaningless concepts. Bethesda refuses to invalidate your choices about who your character is and what he/she does. Therefore, there is no definitive version of the Nerevarine/Champion/Dragonborn, etc. and very few canonized events (the main quest line usually being an exception.) Additionally, all in-game information, books, and historical records are biased or otherwise unreliable or contradictory, with the implication that All Myths Are True and everyone is right in spite of the contradictions. From a meta-perspective, canon is complicated by the fact that the majority of the lore that elucidates the nature of the world of Tamriel comes from the work of an ex-dev and were written in an unofficial capacity after he left the studio. Many lore-scholars within the fandom actually consider his work more canon than the published games themselves, and the fact that the games reference and quote these works adds to the confusion. Rather than become frustrated, fans tend to embrace this ambiguity as one of the more fascinating elements of the series.
    • These even happen in-universe, with Time Crash events known as "Dragon Breaks." Essentially, the Dragon God of Time (Akatosh) is tampered with in some way, causing him to temporarily forget the true course of history, which causes the reality of the world to change in some way. (Mortal beings ascending to godhood or otherwise tapping into some sort of divine power are the most frequent cause.) The "Warp in the West" which merged Daggerfall's Multiple Endings is one of the most famous Dragon Breaks.
  • Control Freak: Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, is essentially the divine embodiment of this trope. It is his driving mission to put the universe in perfect order. In an age before recorded history, the other Daedric Princes, who feared Jyggalag's growing power, came together and cursed him into his own antithesis, Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. The plot of the Shivering Isles expansion is Jyggalag finding a way to escape this.
  • Controllable Helplessness: Later games in the series have this if you choose to go to jail after being arrested. You find yourself in a cell with a single lockpick (if you had one in your inventory when arrested). If you fail (or choose not) to escape, your only option is to hang out in your cell until released. You can thankfully rest in the provided bed as a quick way of doing this.
  • Convection Schmonvection:
    • While touching lava (or other sources of extreme heat) throughout the series will cause damage, you can stand directly next to or hover above it with no ill effects.
    • Every game in the series to date plays this straight with the cold. In all, you can strip down to the default underwear then run around in cold, snowy areas (including the middle of a blizzard) or take a swim along frozen-over coastlines without issue. Nords at least have a slight justification by having innate magical protections against the cold, but other races do not.
  • Convenient Coma: In the series' lore, members of the Whet-Fang vampire bloodline in the Black Marsh are known to place their victims in a magically induced coma, allowing them to feed on the victim at their convenience.
  • Convenient Questing: Played with in different instances. To note:
    • Averted when it comes to specific quests. Any given quest can occur on the other side of the game world as easily as it can occur in the same area. For example, the very first mission of the main quest in Morrowind sends you two towns over on a journey that can take upwards of twenty real time minutes, and that is if you don't stop along the way to explore the locations in between.
    • Played straight in most early faction quests. They rarely take place very far from the quest giver. Justified for groups like the Fighters Guild, who are generally going to be contracted by locals for their services. As you advance in the ranks, however, quests can be given which will require you to travel quite far.
    • Played straight in general, when you consider that absolutely anything you may need to do or find as part of the story will be located within the province the game takes place in.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: While most of the Daedric artifacts are legendary items of immense power, those associated with Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, tend to fit more into this trope. Most are Joke Items only useful for having a bit of fun. For example, Wabbajack is a Magic Staff that randomly turns things into other things. It might turn a bandit into a sheep, or a wheel of cheese, or a Daedroth.
  • Cool Crown: Several appear throughout the series, associated with notable monarchs and even a few deities. A breakdown by game is available on the trope page.
  • Cooldown Hug: Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker. Believed to have been a Shezarrine, physical incarnations of the spirit of the "dead" creator god Lorkhan (known to the Imperials as "Shezarr"), 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. When Pelinal went into fits of "the Madness," Alessia would pray to the Divines who "would reach down as one mind and soothe the Whitestrake until he no longer had the will to kill the earth in whole".
  • Cool Helmet:
  • Cool Horse:
    • Shadowmere is a jet black horse with glowing red eyes associated with the Dark Brotherhood. In each game where Shadowmere appears, it is the fastest and most durable horse available. Shadowmere is also apparently supernatural in nature, coming back to life in the rare event that it is actually killed.
    • The Redguards of Hammerfell have a cool horse breed known as the Yokudan Charger. It came over with their ancestors during the migration from Yokuda, is well adapted to Hammerfell's desert climate, and is said to make for one of the best war steeds in Tamriel.
  • Cool Mask: Several appear throughout the series, including those worn by Dagoth Ur, the Gray Fox, the Dragon Priests, and the Daedric Prince Vaermina. A full breakdown is available on the trope page.
  • Cool Starship: In background lore, during the Second Cyrodiilic Empire in the late 1st Era, the Empire was in a space race to explore Aetherius (the realm of magic) against the Altmer of the Aldmeri Dominion. The Aldmeri used Sunbirds, ships somehow literally made from the Sun. (Which, in the ES universe, is actually a portal to Aetherius through which magic flows into Mundus, the mortal realm.) The Empire, on the other hand, used "Mothships", enormous Ancestor Moths bred, hollowed out, and flown into the void on strength of willpower alone. (Ancestor Moths have a special supernatural connection which also allows them to be used to somewhat protect mortal readers from the power of the Elder Scrolls, which is why the Scrolls are kept and read by the Cult of the Ancestor Moth.) The results of these expeditions have largely been lost to history, though it is known that both sides set up colonies on the moons of Nirn.
  • Cool Sword:
    • Pretty much any artifact sword qualifies. Umbra, Goldbrand, Eltonbrand, True Flame, Chrysamere, Dawnbreaker, The Ebony Blade... and many, many, many more.
    • Bound Blades are glowing ethereal weapons made of pure magic that can be conjured at will and typically have stats comparable to Daedric swords.
    • The National Weapon of the Cyrodiilic Empires has long been the Imperial Sword, the primary weapon of the Imperial Legion. Though very simple, it has been used to forge no fewer than three Empires in Tamriellic history. It is based on the Roman Gladius, though in practice and appearance, comes closer to the Roman Spatha instead.
  • Cool vs. Awesome:
  • Corrupt Church: The Dunmeri Tribunal Temple, though not always. Despite its dubious origins, it did a fair amount of good in its early days for the Dunmer people. Once the Tribunal members began to withdraw from the day to day affairs of the church (to conserve their power after losing two of the tools of Kagrenac) and the mortal priests took over, things started to go downhill quickly...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Dunmeri Great House Hlaalu is a haven for these types, along with being a Proud Merchant House. Chronic Backstabbing is rampant and the House's favored skills all lend themselves well to lying, cheating, and stealing one's way to success. Additionally, several of their highest ranking councilors are in the pocket of the brutal Mafia-esque Cammona Tong. Following the Oblivion Crisis, Red Year, and Argonian Invasion, the Hlaalu were unsurprisingly blamed for most of the suffering of the Dunmer people. They've been stripped of Great House status and their former members are ostracized by the Dunmer people.
    • The East Empire Company is likewise a haven for these types, while embezzling is common among executives. It basically has an inter-provincial trade monopoly throughout the Empire during the 3rd Era. Though, as the Empire itself has fallen toward vestigial status throughout the 4th Era, the EEC has also fallen into decline.
  • The Corrupter: Most of the Daedric Princes dabble in this role in one way or another, relishing every chance to turn a mortal (particularly a Hero) to their way of thinking. A few stand out, having this as a major part of their M.O. To note:
    • Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, is the embodiment of this trope. One of his Red Baron Names To Run Away From Very Fast is "The Corrupter". One of his favorite things is to corrupt a good and noble mortal, then seeing them snap, fall, or break, be it through Cold-Blooded Torture, Manipulation, or flat out Mind Rape. He especially loves it when mortals do this to each other.
    • Mephala is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is "obscured to mortals", but who is associated with manipulation, lies, sex, and secrets. She loves to see how she can fray the "web" of human relationships, and takes a particular joy in the betrayal of trust or minor slights tearing entire towns or nations apart.
    • Sanguine, Daedric Prince of Hedonism and Debauchery, is a case of this being both a significant part of their theme and downplayed. Tempting mortals to sinful lives is firmly part of his sphere and M.O.... but the sinfulness is his sins, so he is more likely to push you towards being a lazy glutton than anything outright evil, for all that he doesn't care about consequences.
  • The Corruption:
    • The Corprus Disease was developed using the divine power of the still-beating heart of a dead god by deranged Physical God Dagoth Ur. It kills plants, turns animals homicidal before slowly killing them, and mutates people into horrible, cancerous monstrosities. He can communicate with those it has infected via subliminal messages in their dreams, turning them into his Mooks. It also comes with some positive qualities, such as no longer aging and being immune to all other diseases, but those infected are typically too deranged and mutated to enjoy them.
    • Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, naturally enjoys inflicting this on others. In particular, he love to corrupt the lesser Daedric servants of other Daedric Princes and other divine beings. Grievous Twilights are Winged Twilights (normally servants of Azura) which he has corrupted into being much more bestial looking. Daedric Titans are corrupted dragons. Titans possess similar anatomical features and abilities as dragons, but were created in mockery of true dragons (who are Aedric in nature).
  • Cosmic Flaw:
    • Dragon Breaks, where the Aedric god of time Akatosh is "tampered with" in some way, are essentially this trope crossed with a Time Crash. Time and reality become flexible, with bizarre and improbably events happening.
    • Dagoth Ur is essentialy a living Cosmic Flaw, making him something truly Eldritch. He's using the divine powers he channels from the heart of a dead god to twist his followers into Body Horror abominations and spread a magical disease. Further, very much steeped in dream-imagery as he "sleeps awake" at Red Mountain. "The Dreamer Is Awake" is often found scrawled by the mad cultists in their strongholds. To further get into esoteric "lore speak": The implication is that Dagoth Ur has discovered an unspeakably dangerous middle-ground between CHIM, Amaranth and Zero-Sum where he exists in a godlike state because of his awareness of Anu's Dream but, unlike CHIM where he exists as one with it and maintains his own individuality, Amaranth where he exits the Dream to make his own, or Zero-Sum where he simply fades into the Dream, Dagoth Ur's twisted, traumatized and broken mind is being imprinted on the Dream of Anu. Through Corprus, the manifestation of Dagoth's will, he is turning Anu's Dream into his own.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The series has the concept of Towers, with their "stones" being these. A more detailed explanation is available on that page, but to summarize, "Towers" are metaphysical structures built atop the "joint-points" of reality as it was constructed by the et'Ada who took part in creation. The Towers are said to "define reality in [their] Aurbic vicinity". The first, the Adamantine Tower, was built by these creator et'Ada (now known as the Aedra). It is powered by the "Zeroth-Stone", which is said to cultivate "creatia" indirectly to alter the "terrestrial domain" around the Tower. During the earliest days following creation, the ancient Aldmer (ancestors of all of the modern races of Mer/Elves) discovered a means to construct their own towers at these "joint-points." By building their own Tower, each group could create their own narrative, distinct but equal to those around it. In several games in the series, as noted on the trope page, the "stones" of these towers play a substantial part in the plot.
  • Cosmic Retcon: At many points in the series and in the backstory, these have resulted from "Dragon Breaks" and other timeline altering, reality warping events. To note some of the more prominent examples:
    • Daggerfall has seven possible Multiple Endings, depending on what the Agent decides to do with the Mantella. Later games reveal that all of the endings happened at once due to an event known as the "Warp in the West", Merging the Branches of the endings, though none to the same extent they would have individually. For example, instead of one kingdom taking over the entire Iliac Bay, it is divided into four. Likewise, Mannimarco still ascends as a god, but in a rather minor station.
    • Following the posthumous ascent of Tiber Septim to godhood as the deity Talos, he is said to have used his powers to cause several of these. To note:
      • Was he really Talos of Atmora, a Nord who heroically rose to the position of Emperor, uniting all of Tamriel for the first time, as orthodox Imperial history states? Or was he Hjalti Early-Beard of High Rock, a shrewd Breton politician and master manipulator who rode his many powerful friends to become Emperor and then backstabbed them the moment it became convenient? One prominent theory states that the latter was true at first, but following his apotheosis, he literally rewrote history to make the former true as well (or instead). (Lending credence to this theory, Vivec, the Dunmeri Physical God, canonically did something similar upon his own ascent to godhood.)
      • Until the events of the Warp in the West, Cyrodiil was described as a dense tropical jungle. Following his apotheosis, Talos is said to have warped reality to turn Cyrodiil into a temperate forest instead as a reward for the Imperial Legions who served him so well as Emperor. As seen in The Elder Scrolls Online, which is a prequel to the main series taking place hundreds of years before Septim's rise, this change is apparently retroactive, making it so that Cyrodiil was always a temperate forest land.
  • Council of Vampires: Numerous throughout Tamriel, typically being in charge over a certain vampire bloodline and/or having power in a certain region. In a few cases, notable political figures have been vampires. In some cases, this is covered up. In others, it's an Open Secret.
  • Court Mage:
    • The Imperial Battlemage is an advisory position to the Emperor of Tamriel. They have traditionally advised the Emperor in all matters of the arcane. Some of the more notable ones include Zurin Arctus (the Imperial Battlemage of Tiber Septim who brokered the Armistice between Septim and Morrowind, got the Numidium working, and may have joined Septim as part of Talos), Jagar Tharn (the first Imperial Battlemage of Uriel Septim VII who usurped Septim's throne), and Ocato of Firsthold (Uriel VII's second Imperial Battlemage who was named Potentate of the Empire after no suitable Septim heir could be found).
    • Lesser leaders also tend to have a mage in a similar role, such as the Jarls of Skyrim.
  • Covered with Scars:
    • This is an option for the Player Character during creation in some games in the series. Morrowind has scars present on a number of pre-set face models. Skyrim allows them to be added in greater volume and variety to both the face and body of the PC.
    • Most Giants have decorative scars carved into their bodies. While they are not known to have a true written language, these markings apparently do have some sort of symbolic meaning for the Giants. In addition to be carved into their bodies, they can also be found painted/carved on trees and rocks around their campsites and burial grounds.
  • Crafted From Animals:
    • Traditional Bosmer weaponry and clothing tends to be made at least in part from animals, due to the Green Pact preventing them from harvesting plants within Valenwood. (Leather armor, bone weapons, sinew bow strings, etc.)
    • Bonemold armor is made by gluing layers of bone with resin, and is popular among the Dunmer. In-universe legends hold that it was invented at the request of a Lord who needed armor that was light enough for his servants to wear while they fetched water in drought conditions, but heavy enough to protect them from groups of roving cannibals.
    • Other creature parts used to make weapons and armor include bones from trolls, chitin (shells) of large insects, and even the bones/scales of dragons.
  • Crapsack World:
    • Tamriel has its ups and downs over the course of history, just like the real world. Some of the "down" periods very much qualify, however. These include the 2nd Era Interregnum, the Imperial Simulacrum, and basically the entirely of the first two centuries of the 4th Era (at least within the crumbling Empire).
    • Throughout the series, it is true in a meta sense. You can't travel more than a hundred feet without being accosted by the local wildlife, bandits, or something even worse. Even sticking to the roads won't necessarily help. And don't bother trying to take refuge in a cave or ruin. With only a very few exceptions throughout the series, they will almost certainly contain something or someone else who try to kill you as soon as you step foot inside.
  • Crate Expectations: The series in general typically averts the standard format of this trope in several ways. Crates are never breakable or mobile, they typically only store realistic amounts of stuff, and you can put things into them as well as take them out. They're also not usually very useful for platforming. That said, they are still visually presented as the classic "sealed packing crate", perhaps so players recognise them on sight.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Falmer are this, with a bit of Laser-Guided Karma, to the Nords. Thousands of years ago in the series backstory, the ancestors to the Nords once nearly drove the Falmer to extinction, and in their desperation, the surviving Falmer fled to their Dwemer cousins, who twisted and mutated them into Morlock-like monsters. The Falmer of the 4th Era are now growing more bold, venturing above ground to kidnap surface dwellers while their numbers swell beneath ground. They also seem to be regaining some of their lost sentience, forging better weapons and armor from farmed Chaurus chitin and practicing crude alchemy to create poisons from the plentiful mushrooms that grow in their underground lairs. The writer of one in-game book even believes that the Falmer may be planning a war with their surface dwelling adversaries, which would be bad news for the already war-torn Skyrim of the era.
  • Creation Myth: The series has two covering different events - the creation of "creation" itself and then then the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. To note:note 
    • Anu and Padomay are the anthropomorphized primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. Their interplay in the great "Void" led to Nir, "creation". Nir loved Anu, which Padomay hated. Padomay killed Nir and the 12 worlds she gave birth to. Anu wounded Padomay, presuming him dead. Anu salvaged the pieces of the 12 world to create one world: Nirn. Padomay returned and wounded Anu, seeking to destroy Nirn. Anu then pulled Padomay and himself outside of time, ending Padomay's threat to creation "forever". From the intermingling of their spilled blood came the "et'Ada", or "original spirits", who would go on to become either the Aedra or the Daedra depending on their actions during the creation of Mundus. (Some myths state that the Aedra come from the mixed blood of Anu and Padomay, while the Daedra come purely from the blood of Padomay).
    • One of these spirits, said to have been "begat" by Padomay, was Lorkhan (aka Shor, Shezarr, Sep, etc.). Depending on the version of the myth, he convinced/tricked some of the other et'Ada into helping him create the mortal plane, known as Mundus. (The races of Mer, or Elves, who believe they descend from the Aedra, generally believe this was a cruel trick that robbed their ancestors of their pre-creation divinity while the races of Men believe it was a good thing which broke the spirits out of a state of boring pre-creation stasis.) Those et'Ada who sacrificed large parts of their being to create Mundus became known as the Aedra ("Our Ancestors" in the Classical Tongue of Aldmeris), while those that did not participate became the Daedra ("Not Our Ancestors"). For his treachery, the Aedra "killed" Lorkhan and tore out his "divine center" (heart), which they cast down into the mortal world he helped to create. (Some tellings, particularly those of Men, state that this was part of Lorkhan's plan all the long, with his spirit then "impregnating" Nirn.)
  • Creative Sterility: Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, is essentially the divine embodiment of a Control Freak. It is his driving mission to put the universe in perfect order. In an age before recorded history, the other Daedric Princes, who feared Jyggalag's growing power, came together and cursed him into his own antithesis, Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. Sheogorath accuses Jyggalag of "never having had an original thought in his existence". Ironically, as Sheogorath, he's actually able to come up with a plan that lets him break out of the endless cycle of destruction and rebirth.
  • Creator In-Joke: Seven of the Eight Divines were named after beta testers or programmers (the exception, Kynareth, had previously appeared in Arena):
    • Akatosh was named after beta tester Lawrence Szydlowski, who liked to sign off his posts with "also known as the old Smaug himself" (the first letter of each word forming the letters "Akatosh").
    • Arkay was named after one of the original beta testers, R. K. Deutsch, who died in 1998.
    • Dibella was named after beta tester Mary Jo DiBella.
    • Julianos was named after programmer Julian LeFay, the "Father of the Elder Scrolls", who came up with the name for the series, and spearheaded the development of Arena, Daggerfall, and the spin-off Battlespire.
    • Mara was possibly named after beta tester Marilyn Wassermann.
    • Stendarr was named after beta tester Daniel Starr.
    • Zenithar was named after Stephen "Zen" Zepp, an Arena beta tester.
    • On the Daedric side, there is Sheogorath, who is named after designer and writer Ted Peterson, one of the other original creators of The Elder Scrolls series, with "Sheogorath" being derived from his first name, Theodore. Amusingly enough, it makes quite a bit of sense on a higher level: LeFay was the main programmer on the early installments of the series, ergo, he created the logical framework of the games and it is therefore quite fitting that he is the namesake of the God of Logic. It is then even more fitting that Peterson, a guy who uses said logical framework as a way to express his creativity, is the namesake of the God of Madness.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization:
    • Throughout the series and in background lore, there are numerous such organizations. Vampire hunter organizations are an especially popular type, mainly in western Tamriel, where knightly orders of all kinds thrive in High Rock and Hammerfell. Were-creature hunter groups are likewise quite popular.
    • The Blades got their start based off of the Akaviri Dragonguard, hunting and slaying dragons in service to a Dragonborn leader. With the presumed extinction of the dragons, their role shifted to become spies and bodyguards for the emperors of Tamriel.
    • The Vigilants of Stendarr are a militant order of priesthood that dedicate themselves to hunting anything Daedric, witches, werewolves, and any other supernatural threats they find. The order was established following the events of the Oblivion Crisis, with the intent of preventing such calamities in the future. They're mostly benevolent, generally doing acts of good, but have some Knight Templar traits as well, such as demanding that travelers hand over Daedric artifacts when they are found, even if the artifact in question comes from one of the less-malevolent Daedric Princes.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: A trait of Scamps, the weakest and smallest known form of lesser Daedra, throughout the series. Their long fingers end with claws which serve as their primary weapon.
  • Creepy Monotone: Throughout the series, this is a trait of Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption. For much of the time, his tone doesn't change much while talking. However, he drops this trait and goes full on Large Ham when he becomes entertained or enraged.
  • The Creon:
    • Following the events of the Oblivion Crisis, Emperor Uriel Septim VII is dead and his only remaining heir, Martin, sacrificed himself to end the Crisis. With no Septim on the throne for the first time in nearly 500 years, High Chancellor Ocato takes over as Potentate. As evidenced by Ocato exhausting every other option before taking over, he clearly preferred serving as a Number Two rather than being in charge himself. That said, he performed well in this role, holding the crumbling Tamrielic Empire together for a decade before being assassinated by the Thalmor in a successful attempt to destabilize the Empire.
    • A few instances are found in most games in the series when it comes to the various guilds and factions. The Player Character, despite always being a new member, can advance by completing quests and demonstrating his/her asskicking ability. Often times, there is a more senior Reasonable Authority Figure who helps the player along and does not stand in the way of the player becoming head of the faction.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The series has an in-universe Inversion example in the backstory. Uriel Septim V, after inheriting an Empire wracked with internal strife and floundering provincial support, decided to launch a series of invasions outside of Tamriel. After several successes invading island nations in the Padomaic Sea east of Tamriel, Uriel V decided to invade the continent of Akavir itself. However, due to space restrictions on his fleet, his forces were cripplingly underspecialized except for the Battlemages. The lack of cavalry was one of his biggest issues, as it left his infantry and settlements vulnerable to quick-strike attacks by mounted Tsaesci raiders. Eventually, Uriel V was forced to withdraw from Akavir, and he died in a Heroic Sacrifice while covering the retreat of his legions.
  • Critical Encumbrance Failure:
    • Present throughout the series. You can be carrying hundreds of pounds of gear, with the only downsides being a slightly slower running speed and/or jumping height (depending on the specific game). However, pick up one more item which puts you over the limit, and suddenly you'll be unable to move (or only able to move very slowly in Skyrim). Fast travel, in games where it is present, is also disabled when you're overencumbered. Made particularly painful with the Useless Useful Spell, Burden, which artificially increases a character's encumbrance. Sadly, no enemy is ever close to the tipping point so this spell only harms players.
    • As some kind of twisted Anti-Frustration Feature, Key Items (items, starting with Oblivion and present in Skyrim, that are associated with a quest and cannot be dropped normally) are considered weightless. Yes, even that giant ceremonial Orc warhammer. However, once the associated quest is complete, the items will suddenly have an appropriate weight. (Including said giant ceremonial Orc warhammer, which can be one hell of a last straw.)
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight in general throughout the series. A creature down to just one health can still fight as effectively as at full health and isn't hindered a bit when it comes to mobility. Skyrim adds some features which Downplay the trope for the first time in the series, such as having humanoid enemies fall to one knee temporarily when low on health.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. Just because he is insane (and proud of it) does not mean that he is stupid. He is extremely fond of the Batman Gambit, and can be every bit of the Manipulative Bastard that any other Daedric Prince can be. The 16 Accords of Madness series details how he managed to trick three other Daedric Princes (Hircine, Vaermina, and Malacath) into losing bets with him by defeating themselves. And he does all of this mostly because it amuses him.
    • The Khajiit have a reputation for being rather simple and often morally ambiguous. Their language has no word for "rules" and they take a rather loose view of what constitutes "personal property," frequently getting them in trouble in the lands of other races where what they do is considered "theft." As a race, they are also highly susceptible to Moon Sugar addiction, as well its stronger derivative Skooma. Given all of this, it is not surprising that they are frequent victims of Fantastic Racism. Despite it all, however, they are not a race to be underestimated. They are capable warriors with a number of Fantastic Martial Arts and have no qualms with using underhanded tactics to win. In a border dispute with the Bosmer known as the "Five Year War," the Khajiit defeated the Bosmer and extended their territory with the use of tactics including the "vertical ambush." When the Khajiit broke the war-ending truce and continued their attacks, the Bosmer were forced to use the Dangerous Forbidden Technique known as The Wild Hunt, in which they irreversibly turn into terrible monsters in order to finally stop the Khajiit. Even the Aldmeri Dominion in the 4th Era got the Khajiit to join as vassals rather than via conquest, looking to avoid open conflict with the Khajiit.
    • The Argonians are viewed with extreme Fantastic Racism by the other races and are thought to have a thoroughly uncivilized culture. They were a flat out Slave Race to the Dunmer for thousands of years and were not treated much better by the rest of Tamriel. Their lack of typical human facial features leads many of the other races to view them as The Stoic, incapable of feeling or showing emotion (which is decidedly untrue). This all began to change around the end of the 3rd Era when the Hist (ancient, sentient, and possibly omniscient trees native to the Black Marsh who the Argonians worship) had a vision of the upcoming Oblivion Crisis and the trials that would follow. They recalled most of the Argonians in Tamriel to the Black Marsh where the Hist, through their sap which the Argonians drink to communicate with the Hist and grow, began to transform the Argonians into greater weapons of war. During the Oblivion Crisis, the followers of Mehrunes Dagon had to stop setting up Oblivion Gates in the Black Marsh because the Argonians were driving The Legions of Hell back and invading Oblivion itself. One of their favored tactics within their homeland is to drag their enemies underwater and hold them there until they drown. Later, when the Red Year decimated Morrowind, the Argonians invaded the homeland of their long time oppressors and conquered most of the still-habitable areas of Morrowind. By the 4th Era, the Argonians are considered only one of two races who could fend off a full scale attack by the Aldmeri Dominion. (The other being the Redguards of Hammerfell.)
    • The Tang Mo, an Akaviri race of "monkey-folk", are described as kind and brave but also simple and mad. Despite this, they are capable of raising armies when they must and have successfully defended themselves from attack by all of their hostile neighbors (which include the Kamal "snow demons" and the Tsaesci "snake vampires").
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker. Believed to have been a Shezarrine, physical incarnations of the spirit of the "dead" creator god Lorkhan (known to the Imperials as "Shezarr"), Pelinal came to St. Alessia to serve as her divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. When Alessia and her army was too struck with fear to attack the White-Gold Tower occupied by Ayleid leader Umaril the Unfeathered, Pelinal charged in himself and defeated (though could not kill) Umaril before he himself was slain. His body was cut into eight pieces by the Ayleids to mock the Eight Divines. His head was left behind and discovered by Morihaus, with whom he had one final conversation that is now lost to history.
    • St. Jiub the Eradicator is killed in such a fashion during the Siege of Kvatch during the Oblivion Crisis. All that is left of him when you find his "corpse" is a severed head with a large chunk of his skull missing and a look of sheer terror on his dead face. Whatever the Daedra did to him, it wasn't pretty. (For added cruelty, it is later revealed that the Daedra soul-trapped him as well.)
    • During the Great War, when the Empire crushed the Dominion at the Battle of the Red Ring, Emperor Titus Mede II captured the Aldmeri general, hung him from the top of the White-Gold Tower, and kept him alive for thirty-three days. On the thirty-fourth day, he finally expired and was carried away by a winged Daedra. Given that this general was responsible for the sack of the Imperial City and related atrocities... He kind of deserved it.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option:
    • Several factions throughout the series, such as the Thieves' Guild and DarkBrotherhood, by their very natures, require doing some pretty uncouth things. The series does at least liberally sprinkle in Asshole Victims to make you feel a little less bad about it...
    • Many Daedric quests, especially those of the typically "evil" Daedric Princes, require doing some awful things in order to complete them. Murder, backstabbing, torture...quite a few leave you feeling as though you've crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: The series has thousands of years of backstory material that is only hinted at in the games, either through dialogue with various characters or in the many in-game books.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus:
    • The Church of the Nine (formerly Eight) Divines, though polytheistic, draws a number of parallels to a particularly benevolent view of Christianity in terms of church hierarchy, imagery, architecture (notably Gothic), and general attitude. The religion is based around the worship of the Aedra, originally eight of the et'Ada ("original spirits") who sacrificed much of their divine power and very beings (including their Complete Immortality) in order to create Mundus, the mortal plane, after being convinced/tricked (depending on the storyteller) by the "dead" creator god, Lorkhan (aka Shor, Shezarr, Lorkhaj, etc.). The Top God of the pantheon is Akatosh, the "Dragon God of Time". Akatosh is said to have been the first being to "manifest" out of the raw energy of the early universe and is also the "Father of Dragons", who refer to him as "Bormah", draconic for "Father". According to some theories, they are not so much his "children" as they are fragments of his very being. Of the dragons, his "firstborn" is said to be Alduin, the draconic Beast of the Apocalypse whose coming heralds The End of the World as We Know It. According to Nordic mythology, Alduin is simultaneously Akatosh's son and an aspect of his very being, making the Jesus connection even stronger. Akatosh is also known to create the "Dragonborn", rare mortals gifted with the immortal souls of dragons. Throughout history, Dragonborns have acted as Messianic figures (or at the very lest, as The Chosen Ones). Further, Talos is the Deity of Human Origin who joined the original Eight Aedra as the "Ninth" Divine. While exactly how he achieved apotheosis is a hotly debated topic in-universe and out, but it is known that Talos is (at least in part) Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire. Talos worshipers place great emphasis on the fact that he was once a man before he ascended as a Divine. While this emphasis in-universe is likely racial in nature, one of the core concepts of Christianity is 'hypostatic union': Jesus Christ is at once both wholly human and wholly divine.
    • The Dunmeri Tribunal Temple of Morrowind also heavily draws from the Catholic church - hagiography, apocrypha, an Inquisition, sainthood, and the idea of a "new covenant" supplanting the older Daedric cults of the Dunmer. The Nerevarine (said to be a Dragonborn as mentioned above,) is the second coming of Nerevar, and is seen as a messianic figure by those ostracized by the Temple (include the Ashlanders and Dissident Priests.)
    • All of that said, the actual function of reality in the ES universe is quite close to Hinduism in many regards. According to several references in the background lore as well as numerous developer written supplementary texts, the universe runs in "kalpas", or cycles of time. When one ends, a new one begins. Additionally, the souls of mortals (which aren't otherwise bound to the mortal world or claimed by a specific deity) are said to enter the "Dreamsleeve", where they are broken down and recycled to be reincarnated.
  • Crystal Prison: Soul Gems are used along with a Soul Trap spell to trap the souls of living things. The gems typically range from Petty to Grand, with more powerful creatures requiring larger Soul Gems. Additionally, Black Soul Gems are made from Grand Soul Gems, and allow for the trapping of "black" sapient souls (like those of Men, Mer, and the Beast Races. Once trapped, the souls can be used to enchant items, permanently imbuing them with magical abilities, as well as to recharge already enchanted items. Azura's Star is a legendary artifact associated with the Daedric Prince Azura. Azura's Star can is not destroyed during the enchanting process like standard Soul Gems, allowing it to be refilled and reused.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Several races of Mer (Elves) are known to have this aesthetic. The Altmer (High Elves) are perhaps the most advanced extant race (with the ultra advanced Dwemer extinct), with Tamriel owing much of its art, science, philosophy, language, and religion to the Altmer, who are also the most magically-gifted of all races. Their buildings are frequently made of glass or crystal (said to refract light into a rainbow "insect wing" like appearance), with tall towers, vine-like buildings, and swirling walls. Gold tends to be the primary color in their weapons and armor. The ancient Falmer (Snow Elves) had a civilization that once rivaled the Altmer, but were driven underground by the invading Nords, where they were enslaved and mutated by the aforementioned Dwemer into blind, bestial, barely-sapient creatures little better than goblins. Their former architecture had significant elements of platinum and massive jewels built into it.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, forgoes A Form You Are Comfortable With when dealing with mortals, going instead with a truly Eldritch Abomination mass of tentacles and eyes. Unsurprisingly, his lesser Daedra servants, particularly the Seekers, fit this trope.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right:
    • M'aiq the Lair is a recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character who has appeared in every game in the series since Morrowind. 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 and toward Bethesda itself. Given his role, M'aiq comes off as very detached from the setting, and each incarnation of him also has some odd quirks that cause him to come off as a Cloud Cuckoolander. However, he also offers some nuggets of truth buried deep in his Blatant Lies dialogue. For example, in Morrowind he informs the player of Boethiah's sunken statue (which leads you to the subsequent quest) and in Skyrim he drops hints that the Falmer's blindness has something to do with the Dwemer.
    • The recurring in-game book Chance's Folly tells the story of a thief known by the nickname "Chance" who overheard someone mention a tomb containing great riches and decided to obtain them. To assist her she enlisted Ulstyr Moresby, a hulking Breton known for being a great warrior and for being totally bonkers, figuring that an insane man wouldn't particularly care if he didn't get an equal share of the loot. When asked to come along, Ulstyr nods and starts rattling off random phrases which seem like nonsense, but Chance becomes nervous when they eventually start coming true, wondering if the tales about the insane communing with Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness were actually true, and if he was feeding Ulstyr information. He was.
  • Cue the Rain:
    • In the series' mythology, rain is associated with Kynareth, the Aedric Divine Goddess of the Heavens and Air. Rain is a phenomenon that is said not to have occurred before the removal of Lorkhan's divine spark. During the Alessian Revolt, she sent rain to cleanse the blood from Ayleid forts and villages after Pelinal Whitestrake came through, so that they could be used by Alessia's forces.
    • When Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire, died, it rained throughout Tamriel for an entire fortnight "as if the land itself was weeping". (Particularly interesting given his posthumous ascension as Talos, the Ninth Divine, who is in some way connected with Lorkhan.)
  • Cult: The series has a variety, mostly falling under one of the sub-tropes, including Apocalypse Cult (Mythic Dawn, the Thalmor from a certain point of view), Religion of Evil (Sixth House, Dragon Cults, certain Daedric Cults, Hackdirt), and Scary Amoral Religion (most Daedric Cults). Breakdowns are available on those trope pages.
  • Cultural Posturing:
    • The Altmer take the cake as the haughtiest culture in Tamriel. They are a tall, golden-skinned race of Mer with exceptional natural aptitude for magic and are responsible for much of Tamriel's art, science, philosophy, language and religion, fitting squarely within the idea of Crystal Spires and Togas as a race. They are the direct descendants of the Aldmer (Precursors to all modern races of Mer) and consider the other races of Mer as a result of "degeneration" over the ages. (And don't even bother trying to bring up the races of Men...) Their religious beliefs state that they are the true descendants of the Aedra ("Our Ancestors" in old Aldmeris), the deities who aided in the creation of the mortal world, known as Mundus. They believe the creation of Mundus was a cruel trick on the part of the dead creator god, Lorkhan, which robbed their divine ancestors of their pre-creation divinity, forcing them to experience mortal suffering, loss, and death. And while there are exceptions, most Altmer are proud to bring up any of the aforementioned facts whenever they get the chance. Their culture did suffer a Break the Haughty moment in the late 2nd Era, when Tiber Septim used the Dwemer-constructed Numidium to deal the Altmer a Curb-Stomp Battle defeat in which their capital city was sacked in less than hour, forcing them to join an Empire of Men by conquest for the first time in their history. When the Septim Dynasty ended at the start of the 4th Era, the Altmer rose once again under the leadership of the extremist Thalmor, reforming the Aldmeri Dominion of old.
    • The Dunmer were not far behind their Altmer cousins in terms of haughtiness at their cultural height. They were an extremely xenophobic race who hated outlanders within their homeland of Morrowind, but had no issue with raiding Black Marsh or Elsweyr to take Argonian and Khajiiti slaves. The Tribunal Temple, which by the 3rd Era had become a shining example of a Corrupt Church full of Knights Templar who followed their Physical Gods (the Tribunal) to a fault. Hypocrisy was rampant in their culture where, for instance, they would sic their Church Police on anyone accused of practicing necromancy with orders to kill on sight, while the Dunmer themselves would summon the bodies and spirits of their ancestors for protection, considering it a "holy act" when they do it. However, the events of Morrowind, the Oblivion Crisis, the Red Year, and finally the Argonian Invasion were a major Break the Haughty series of events for the Dunmer. Their homeland was choked with volcanic ash and many of the still-habitable parts were under the control of their long-time Slave Race, forcing the Dunmer people to flee to the frozen, barren island of Solstheim and to Skyrim, where they are treated as second-class citizens (at best) by the native, Elf-hating Nords.
    • The Imperials of Cyrodiil have displayed this whenever they have been leading their various empires which have spanned most or all of Tamriel. As they conquer new lands, they have traditionally enforced their rather liberal Imperial values, including a heavy focus on mercantilism and trade as well as significant religious tolerance, believing them to be superior to the "barbaric" cultures they are replacing and leading to plenty of Culture Clash. (Given that a lot of the cultures they have replaced were rife with racism, classism, and every other negative "-ism" you can think of, they weren't entirely unjustified in this belief.) Following the fall of the Septim Dynasty's Third Empire, as seen in Skyrim, this is happening quite a bit toward the Nords. The Imperials love to point out how their glorious cosmopolitan empire is superior to the barbaric, frozen wilderness of Skyrim. Note that this isn't Fantastic Racism because it's the Nord culture that is looked down upon, not the actual Nord race, though you'd be forgiven for pointing out that this is a distinction without a difference. Best summed up by General Tullius, the military governor in charge of bringing Skyrim back under Imperial control;
      General Tullius: If it wasn't for the Legion the provinces would descend to barbarity and anarchy, including Skyrim! Especially Skyrim!
  • Culture Chop Suey: Virtually all of the series' races and cultures draw heavily from at least two real life counterpart cultures. A full list is available for each race on the series' "Races" sub-pages.
  • Culture Clash: All over the place. For example, the Dunmer traditionally enslave the beast races (Khajiit and Argonians), which those races are understandably not fans of. The Khajiit have a somewhat loose view of personal property, which often leads to trouble outside of Elsweyr where what they do is typically considered theft. The Altmer consider themselves better than anyone else and think they should be in charge, which is a bit of a problem for the Imperials as they think exactly the same thing. Often blows past this straight toward Fantastic Racism.
  • Cunning Linguist:
    • In the series' backstory, the Maormer (Sea Elves) King Orgnum is served by one of these. When Orgnum met with Queen Potema to forge their alliance in the 3rd Era, he was said to have a translator who was fluent in all the languages of Tamriel, Pyandonea, Atmora, and Akavir.
    • Also from the backstory, the ancient King Ysgramor is credited with creating the old Nordic Runic writing system, said to be the first written language of Men in Tamriel based on Atmoran and Aldmeri (Elven) linguistic principles.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Tiber Septim's conquest of the Summerset Isles, homeland of the Altmer, was one of these. Septim had expanded his empire to match the extent of the Reman Dynasty, including all provinces except for Morrowind and the Summerset Isles.note  Septim had just received the Numidium, a Reality Warping Humongous Mecha constructed by the Dwemer prior to the disappearance, from the Dunmer as part of the Armistice which joined Morrowind to the Empire as a Voluntary Vassal. The Altmer had a powerful Magic Knight army led by their mage-lords, but it proved no match for Septim and the Numidium. The Altmer army was crushed and their capital city captured by Imperial forces in less than one hour of fighting, bringing the Altmer under the rule of men by conquest for the first time in history.
    • Also from the backstory, the Khajiit and Bosmer got into a border dispute which quickly escalated into the Five Years War. While the Bosmer won an initial battle (when the Khajiit got poor counsel from their Nord advisors, who utilize a very different style of warfare), the Khajiit absolutely manhandled the the Bosmer after that, claiming some of their territory and even raiding deep into Valenwood. It took the Bosmer invoking the Wild Hunt to finally stop the Khajiit attacks.
    • During their 2nd Era invasion of Tamriel, the Kamal (a race of Akaviri "Snow Demons") led by Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal both delivered one of these and were on the receiving end of one. To note:
      • Dealt one out in the siege of Windhelm immediately after arriving in Tamriel, sacking the city before it could even rally its defenses.
      • Were the victim of one in their final battle in Tamriel. His forces held the line against the Nords and Dunmer initially, but were finally broken when the Argonians arrived. They were driven into the sea and died by the thousands, Ada'Soom included.
    • During the 1st Era, the Nordic Empire, led by the Tongues (masters of the Thu'um), was expanding rapidly out of Skyrim. Their armies invaded deep in Morrowind, slaughtering both the Chimer (ancestors of the Dunmer) and Dwemer. The leaders of these long time enemy races, Lord Indoril Nerevar and Dumac Dwarfking, agreed to form an Enemy Mine. Their combined forces met at the base of Red Mountain, where the Chimer/Dwemer alliance "annihilated" the Nord army, a truly shocking defeat in this history of the Proud Warrior Race Nords. The most powerful of the Tongues, Jurgen Windcaller, survived but fell into Heroic BSoD. despair. Despite the advantage conferred by the Thu'um, the Nord army was soundly crushed. Windcaller reflected on the defeat and came to the conclusion that it was a punishment from the gods for misusing the Thu'um. He would use the defeat as inspiration to discover the Way of the Voice and found the Greybeards, a monastic order who espouse nonintervention and pacifism, and only use the Voice to honor the gods.
  • Cursed Item: Throughout the series, the sword Umbra is stated to be one. Umbra is a legendary Empathic Weapon forged by a witch and commissioned by Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes. It takes the appearance of an Ebony claymore or longsword, and is one of the most powerful bladed weapons in the series. Additionally, It also steals the souls of its victims, and its personality eventually takes over the mind of its wielder, turning them into a Blood Knight who refers to themself as "Umbra". (Thankfully, this never happens to the Player Character.)
  • Cursed with Awesome:
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: The series has shifted all around this trope since its inception. The first two games in the series relied exclusively on these to fill out their absolutely massive game worlds. Morrowind averts it by being entirely hand built, though significantly smaller in scale than its predecessors. Oblivion leans back toward it, with areas outside of towns and especially with Oblivion Gates. (There are 90 gates to Oblivion, but only 7 distinct maps. There's slight variation in the layout of the central towers, but not enough to shake the feelings of deja vu.) The regular dungeons are also examples, though less blatant; they were procedurally generated before release. Skyrim then skews away from it again, going back to a mostly hand-built world with hand-built (though not necessarily unique) dungeons.
  • Cute and Psycho:
  • Cutting Off the Branches:
    • Averted for Daggerfall's Multiple Endings, with the series opting instead for a Broad Strokes Merging the Branches scenario via a combination Time Crash and Cosmic Retcon.
    • In general, the series tends to avoid canonizing any aspects of the Player Character in any game save for their involvement in the main quest itself. Their race, sex, playstyle, decisions, etc. are usually left open. However, there are a few exceptions where an action of the Player Character outside of the main quest is noted later in the series. For example, according to the Infernal City and Lord of Souls novels, the Champion of Cyrodiil apparently decided to give Umbra to Clavicus Vile in Oblivion. Likewise, Sheogorath's Daedric quest in Skyrim implies that the Champion of Cyrodiil joined the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood. This latter example is downplayed, in that it doesn't necessarily cut off any other branches, it just doesn't mention anything else that he or she may have done.
  • Cutting the Knot: The recurring in-game book Proper Lock Design talks about this in regards to lock-picking. It tells of cases where treasure chests with high quality Dwemer metal locks were broken into by thieves who simply smashed the wood surrounding the locks. (This is actually doable by the player in Daggerfall, though is not present in any other game to date.)
  • Cyborg: Implied to be the case for Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker. Believed to have been a Shezarrine, physical incarnations of the spirit of the "dead" creator god Lorkhan (known to the Imperials as "Shezarr"), Pelinal came to St. Alessia to serve as her divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. Per Word of God, Pelinal is heavily inspired by The Terminator. He wore full plate mail, blessed by the Divines no less, at a time when only the Dwemer could craft it, and was nearly indestructible as a result. He had a hole in his chest and a red diamond instead of a heart, symbolizing his connection with the heartless god Lorkhan. When he wanted you dead, there was very little that could stop him. Additionally, he had knowledge of future events sprinkled into his insane ramblings, with some sources suggesting that he was legitimately from the future. To quote The Song of Pelinal:
    "... [And then] Kyne granted Perrif another symbol, a diamond soaked red with the blood of elves, [whose] facets could [un-sector and form] into a man whose every angle could cut her jailers and a name: PELIN-EL [which is] "The Star-Made Knight" [and he] was arrayed in armor [from the future time]."
  • The Cycle of Empires:
    • In the series backstory, there have been four empires founded by the races of Men - the short-lived 1st Era Nordic Empire and the three Cyrodiilic empires: the Alessian, Reman, and Septim. Each went through the cycle, with the first four games in the main series set during the (early) "Decay" phase of the Third Tamriellic (Septim) Empire. By the time of Skyrim, the "Long Night" is in effect: the Mede Dynasty (controlling the Vestigial Septim Empire) loses control of province after province, barbarian insurgents are everywhere, and agents of the rival Aldmeri Dominion (which is in the "Expansion" phase under the leadership of the extremist Thalmor) walk around Tamriel like it's their backyard.
    • Other empires have had more localized versions. The Direnni Hegemony, for example, went through all the stages (rising from an Altmer clan from Summerset to dominating a quarter of Tamriel, centered around High Rock, and then shrinking back to only having the Isle of Balfiera — the Stabilization/Prosperity phases were evidently short), though they apparently managed to avoid most of the trappings of Vestigial Empire — the modern Dirennis are perfectly aware the Hegemony is gone, and are okay with that.
  • Cypher Language:
    • The Daedric alphabet is a substitution cypher of the standard Latin alphabet, with symbols replacing letters. However, Daedric runes are not arranged like Latin letters - it's quite common to see writing in Daedric written vertically or with runes superimposed over others.
    • The (presumed) extinct Ayleids and Dwemer each had similar substitution alphabets.
    • The in-game book "N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!" is a book written in the language of the slug-like beastfolk Sload. It was written by the infamous Sload Necromancer N'Gasta, and is said to be the preeminent book on necromancy, even centuries after his death. The cypher is of slightly altered Esperanto, of all things.


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