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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 M

  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: A not-uncommon occurance in the series. Interestingly, the games often Justify, Subvert, or Lampshade it as often as they play it straight. See the trope page for specific details by game.
  • Mad Artist: Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of Madness. His sphere also covers creativity and the arts, with it being said that he invented music on Mundus (the mortal plane). Naturally, those who fit this trope are indirect followers of Sheogorath. Of course, being an unpredictable Mad God, he's as likely to torment them as he is to inspire them, but still.
  • Mad Scientist:
  • Made of Indestructium: The titular Elder Scrolls themselves are "Fragments of Creation", which exist partially outside of time. As such, no one has ever been known to successfully destroy an Elder Scroll, though any Scroll left unattended and unaccounted for by a sentient mind may simply disappear. The Player Character in Skyrim can Lampshade this in one dialogue option, where you can say half-jokingly that you were hoping to use the indestructible Scrolls as armor.
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  • Made of Plasticine: Present in a few games in the series where mild attacks (including simple punches under the right circumstances) will easily kill enemies. Specific examples by game can be found on the trope page.
  • Mad God:
    • Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of Madness. His condensed title, explicitly called this by some of his followers, is simply "the Mad God." Madness falls within his sphere and the insane are his subjects. He can be a Cloud Cuckoolander with some Great Gazoo traits who will make it rain cheese or literal cats and dogs because It Amused Him one moment, then he'll show why you need to Beware the Silly Ones with a sudden Axe-Crazy Dog-Kicking or some Celestial Body Hurling.
    • It is suggested by Azura that this will be the fate of all those who tapped into the Heart of Lorkhan to gain divinity. Dagoth Ur was far less restrained in his consumption of power from the heart, driving him to madness the first, and is explicitly called "a Mad God" by Vivec. Almalexia seems to be finally driven to madness when she loses her divine powers.
      • To further elaborate on the topic of Dagoth Ur, the implication is that Dagoth Ur somehow achieved 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 he lacks the ability to maintain his individuality and exist within it like someone who has achieved CHIM, and he hasn't simply faded into the Dream like someone who Zero-Summed. This leads to a situation where Dagoth Ur's consciousness is being imprinted on the Dream of Anu, until eventually all of reality becomes just an extension of his twisted and broken mind. With that in mind you really appreciate just how important the Nerevarine's actions were, and the terrible fate they spared every man, woman and child on Nirn from.
  • The Mad Hatter: Sheogorath, once again. He is completely aware of how utterly mad he is, and loves every minute of it. It's rather challenging to go through the list of Madness Tropes and find something which doesn't in some way apply to him.
  • Mad Lib Fantasy Title: The series title. In fact, according to a former developer, "The Elder Scrolls" was chosen as a surtitle to Arena simply because "it sounded cool". It wasn't until later that the devs decided what an Elder Scroll actually is in-universe. The individual game titles avert it, instead being One Word Titles following The Place titling convention (with a few Subversions), using in-universe locations.
  • Madness Mantra: Sheogorath - "Wabbajack wabbajack wabbajack wabbajack wabbajack......!"
  • Mad Oracle: Ulstyr Moresby from the in-game book Chance's Folly. The eponymous 'Chance' is an infamous thief who learns about an ancient tomb that, though full of traps and monsters, has untold riches within. She enlists the assistance of Ulstyr, a gigantic warrior who mutters incoherently to himself and is generally viewed as an eccentric by the other townsfolk. Throughout the story, whenever he speaks (including before they actually start the journey), he repeats several key phrases which end up holding meaning as they work their way through the tomb.
  • Mad Scientist: The series treats Magic As Mental, so "Mad Wizards" tend to fill this role. (They're usually, but not always, of the Evil Sorcerer variety when they appear.) A few notable examples:
  • Madness Tropes: Pick one. Open the trope page. Search for "Sheogorath". You'll find him in a good 90% of the entries, guaranteed. They don't call him the Mad God for nothing...
  • Mage Killer:
  • Mage Marksman: Throughout the series, this is a very viable build. The most popular form is the "Witch Hunter" build which combines boosts to Marksmanship with Conjuration, Alchemy, and Enchanting. Summon an ethereal "Bound Bow", summon a couple of meat-shield mooks, and use poisoned arrows to strike down foes quickly. Alternatively, enchant a standard bow for extra magical damage. The "Nightblade" build boots Marksmanship and Illusion, allowing you to turn invisible to sneak up on foes for critical hits or to safely retreat to a safe distance once the fighting has begun. (Skyrim does away with the pre-made classes, but you can still create this build by developing the same skills and investing in the right perks.)
  • Mage Tower: Played straight in the setting, as towers are extremely popular with the magical communities across Tamriel.
  • Magic A Is Magic A:
    • Anyone can practice magic in their spare time, but it is also the subject of substantial research by magical and scholarly communities across Tamriel. There are also some very clear rules: to enchant an item, you must know the spell you'll burn in the item, you need a soul gem with a soul inside, and clothes and accessories can hold much more magic than weapons. While enchanting is consistent within each game, the exact mechanics tends to vary wildly throughout the series as a whole.
    • There are many esoteric rules that are referenced throughout the series but don't appear in actual gameplay. For example, some magic requires "rituals" to perform, such as necromancy or permenant conjuration, which explains why the player can't use them in-game. "Daedric magic" is mentioned as a quick way for eager mages to get their hands on volatile power, though this isn't elaborated upon.
    • Additionally, it appears some, most, or maybe even all rules of magic can be stretched, if not necessarily broken; for example, Ancotar states that permanent invisibility would "violate the Conservation of Perception," but has created a spell that can keep a whole village invisible for at least a year.
  • Magical Library: The realm of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, is Apocrypha, which crosses this trope, a Great Big Library of Everything, and an extreme Eldritch Location. It is said to contain all knowledge, kept within the tomes on its shelves. The sky is an illuminating green in color and it is covered by a sea of roiling acidic waters. Some areas of Apocrypha are consumed by a darkness which kills any mortal who tries to enter it. The realm is haunted by the ghosts of mortals forever searching for knowledge, and is maintained by Mora's servants, the Seekers and Lurkers.
  • Magical Native American: The Noble Savage Skaal people of the frozen, inhospitable island of Solstheim. They have much in common culturally with various Native American and Inuit tribes, including their speech patterns. Their magic is of a Shamanic/Druidic nature as well. They live In Harmony with Nature, making sure to never waste by, for example, needlessly killing for sport or chopping down live trees for firewood.
  • Magical Society:
    • The Mages Guild is a preeminent one throughout the series. It is a professional organization for the magically inclined with a presence across all of Tamriel at their height. The Guild offers training and magical services in dedication to the study and application of Magicka. The Guild also played a major part in codifying and popularizing the "Eight Schools" of magic in Tamriel. However, around the time of the Oblivion Crisis, the Guild collapses due to years of infighting as well as Tamriel's distrust of anything magical following the Crisis. It is replaced by several groups including the Synod (which focuses on recovering magical artifacts) and the College of Whispers (which focuses more on the pure study of magic as well as summoning Daedra). Regional Magical Societies (usually crossing over with being Wizarding Schools) are also prevalent, such as the College of Winterhold.
    • The Order of the Black Worm is another more secretive and morally questionable Magical Society founded by Mannimarco, the King of Worms, the first Lich, and, after the Warp in the West, the God of Worms. The Order focuses more on the darker aspects of magic, including Soul-Trapping sapient souls and Necromancy. They are extreme rivals to the Mages Guild and, after the Mages Guild formally banned its members from practicing Necromancy (it had previously been tolerated within the limits of the law though frowned upon), many former members flocked to the Order.
    • The Psijic Order is the oldest monastic order in Tamriel, being founded not long after the ancient Aldmer first came to Tamriel. Though usually benevolent, they are a much more secretive and selective Magical Society. Through thousands of years of intensive study in the nature of magic, they have become able to utilize it in ways the rest of Tamriel is unable to match. Their many magical feats include making their home island disappear without a trace (twice), summoning a storm to swallow the Maomer fleet whole, using various forms of teleportation and Astral Projection, Telepathy, and there are even reports that they possess a limited form of clairvoyance and sight into future events. Both the Mages Guild and the Order of the Black Worm were founded by former Psijics (Galerion and Mannimarco, respectively), who disagreed with the Order's policies. (Galerion believed magic should be open to all citizens of Tamriel, while Mannimarco's practice of The Dark Arts got him kicked out.) Though mentioned heavily in background lore, they don't make an appearance in-game until Skyrim (where they act as a Mysterious Backer, confiscate an Artifact of Doom, and declare The World Is Not Ready for it).
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality: Present in spades. To note:
    • The sun and stars are not typical balls of gas and plasma, but are actually holes punctured in reality by escaping spirits during the creation of Mundus. They act as portals to Aetherius, the "Immortal Plane" and origin of all magic, which flows into Mundus through them (visible as nebulae) and acts as a Background Magic Field. The other parts of Nirn's Alien Sky include two moons which are not typical sub-planetoids, but are the rotting remains ("flesh divinity") of the "dead" god, Lorkhan. The planets? They're similarly said to be the remains of the other original spirits ("et'Ada") who participated in the creation of Mundus and now "dream that they are alive" through the faith of their worshipers. Outer space is likewise different, being an "infinite void" surrounding Mundus known as Oblivion. It is known to contain thousands of realms and other planes of existence, created and kept in existence by beings of immense power. The most notable are the Daedric Planes of the Daedric Princes, the et'Ada who did not make any sacrifices during the creation of Mundus and thus remain at full divine power. These planes are combination of Eldritch Locations, Fisher Kingdoms, and Genius Loci ruled with absolutely authority by their associated Princes.
    • Time, particularly linear time, only exists through the will and power of Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and one of the Aedra, as well as the chief deity of the Nine Divines pantheon. Time originally did not exist, only coming into effect when Akatosh willed it so at the end of the Dawn Era. As such, it can be manipulated, leading to Time Crashes known as "Dragon Breaks", during which Reality Is Out to Lunch on Mundus. Historically, this has been most often caused by mortals using divine implements (the Staff of Towers, Numidium/Mantella, the Heart of Lorkhan, etc.).
    • The laws of nature (the cycle of life and death, the seasons, etc.) and physics (gravity, etc.) are in a similar vein. Many of the et'Ada who created Mundus fully sacrificed themselves, dying while willing these laws into existence. These are known as the Ehlnofey (the "Earthbones"), and they can likewise be manipulated by mortals. (The Psijic Order and the Dwemer are renowned for this ability, allowing, for example, the Dwemer to Ragnarok Proof their creations.) Other Ehlnofey instead came together to make children, becoming the progenitors of mortal life on Nirn.
  • Magic Compass: The ancient Aldmer, [[ancestors of the modern races of Mer, could create "waystones" - crystalline balls that rotate on their axis toward a specific direction. Topal the Pilot, the legendary Bold Explorer and poet who was the first to discover and explore Tamriel during the Merethic Era, had a "north-east pointing" waystone which he used to navigate.
  • Magic Is Evil: The Redguards of Hammerfell hold this view on two points; since they have a Proud Warrior Race culture, magic is seen as just something "the weak and the wicked" use to avoid a "real" fight, and in the areas controlled by the socially conservative and xenophobic Crowns, magic is seen as a dangerous foreign influence on top of that. The Redguards have a long history fighting the Bretons of neighboring High Rock, a people who have an innate affinity for magic due to their Aldmeri ancestry and so tend to be wizards and Magic Knights. Conjuration in particular earns the ire of the Redguards, as it deals with tampering with souls, creating undead (in a culture which reveres the honored dead), and consorting with Daedra.
  • Magic Is Mental:
    • Throughout the series (prior to Skyrim doing away with Attributes), the "Schools of Magic" are tied to "mental" attributes (Intelligence, Willpower, and Personality). Additionally, your maximum Magicka is determined by your Intelligence (with multipliers applied based on your race and birthsign), while your Magicka regen rate is determined by your Willpower.
    • In each of the games, the Mages Guild (or local equivalent) essentially doubles as the guild for scholars as well. In Skyrim, it is even called a college.
    • The notion of Soul Gems also feeds into this. With very few exceptions (usually related to divine magic), all of the enchanted objects in the setting are powered by living souls whose energy is trapped in physical gems. The implication, of course, is that objects need the power of a mind in order to have magical ability.
  • Magick: The series uses the pseudo-Latin "magicka" to refer to Mana (the power you use to perform magic); but magic itself is generally just called "magic."
  • Magic Knight:
    • Until the series did away with classes, this trope was in play with several classes, including the Battlemage, the Spellsword, and the Crusader. The Battlemage class traditionally wears Heavy Armor while using Axes or Blades. They supplement their offensive capabilities with Destruction magic and supplement their defenses with Alteration magic. The Spellsword has a greater emphasis on martial offense with a bit less defense, but uses spells in the same classes as the Battlemage to supplement each. Their class description refers to them as "skirmishers and support troops." Finally, the Crusader inverses the Spellsword when it comes to offense and defense, and includes Restoration magic and Alchemy to allow for healing instead of supplemented defense. Given the nature of the series' skill system, many other classes can blend martial prowess with magical abilities as well, and custom classes can be created to take it further.
    • There are several examples within the Empire and Imperial Legions. The Imperial Legion Battlemages are an organization of Magic Knights within the Legion. Additionally, there is the position of "Imperial Battlemage," which has traditionally served the Emperor like a cross between a Chancellor and a Court Mage.
    • In lore this is a specialty of the Bretons of High Rock, as their (traces of) elven blood gives them an innate affinity for magic and a resistance to it, while their human-like bodies are generally more resilient than (often squishy) pure elves. Their culture in High Rock is based on that of medieval France and England, so Bretons have a strong chivalric tradition and each city-state in High Rock has their own knightly order.
    • Likewise, the Altmer (High Elves), known for their sorcery and magical prowess, do employ armed-and-armored soldiers as well. Each and every one of these soldiers uses magic as a supplement in combat. However, the "true" Altmer mages (who are typically upper class) look down upon the Altmer "warriors" (who are typically middle or lower-class).
    • The Redguards, a Proud Warrior Race of Master Swordsmen, have a strong cultural aversion to magic. However, they do make an exception for the school of Destruction magic, as doing more damage is always a good thing in their culture. Given their cultural affinity for swordsmanship and various knightly orders, any Redguard who practices Destruction magic typically automatically becomes one of these. Additionally, their ancient Ansei were so skilled with their Shehai "Spirit Swords" that they were often mistaken as mages by other races due to the feats they could accomplish (right up to using their Shehai as Fantastic Nukes).
    • This is a trait of many forms of lesser Daedra, who tend to blend physical combat prowess with powerful magics. Included are the Auriel (Golden Saints) and Mazken (Dark Seducers) of Sheogorath, the Dremora and Xivilai of Mehrunes Dagon, and the Spider Daedra of Mephala.
  • Magic Mushroom: Mushrooms and other fungi are common ingredients in Alchemy, used to craft both potions and poisons. Played realistically, as the mushrooms often have various negative effects in addition to positive, depending on how you mix the potion.
  • Magic Music: The extinct Dwemer practiced a form of this. They were a race of extreme Naytheists who created advanced Magitek Steam Punk technology. They were also known to bend the "Earth Bones", essentially the laws of nature and physics in the mortal world. They accomplished this by altering the "tonal architecture," or the sounds and vibrations, of the Earth Bones, which allowed them to hijack the fundamental laws of the world and used them for their own ends. After discovering and attempting to tap into the power of the Heart of Lorkhan, they did something which caused their entire race to disappear from all known planes of existence in a single instant, leading to their presumed extinction.
  • Magic Staff:
    • Early games in the series offer them as a variety of two-handed blunt weapon, much like a Simple Staff. Actually striking opponents with them should be a last resort, as they are not particularly strong weapons, but they are highly enchantable. Starting with Oblivion, staves become oversized magic wands, with no bludgeoning functionality. Each can each cast a predetermined spell a limited number of times, saving you from dipping into your personal supply of magicka.
    • Historically in the series, magic staves have been a favored weapon of the Bretons of High Rock, and may even be where the originated. It makes sense, as the Bretons are a natural Witch Species (thanks to their traces of Elven blood) with defensive Anti-Magic traits, making them excellent in Magic Knight and Mage Killer roles.
    • Likewise, magical staves are a common tool for Liches, further enhancing their already formidable magical prowess.
    • The series has several recurring Legendary Weapon artifact staves. To note:
      • Perhaps the most prominent is the Staff of Magnus, associated with the God of Magic who served as the architect for Mundus, the mortal plane. It is variously capable of channeling, absorbing, and suppressing extreme amounts of magical energy. Magnus is said to have used it during the creation of Mundus as a "metaphysical battery". Some legends claim that it was abandoned when he fled during the creation of Mundus. Others claim that it was a gift to mortals. Still others claim that it was stolen from him by mortals. Whatever the case, it has been one of the preeminent magical staves on Nirn. It is also said to leave its wielder whenever that wielder becomes too powerful, so it doesn't upset the mystical balance of Mundus.
      • Another artifact staff is Wabbajack, associated with Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. It randomly turns things into other things. It may turn a bandit into a sheep, or a wheel of cheese, or a Daedroth. It's mostly just for fun, making it a Cool, but Inefficient Joke Item.
      • The Skull of Corruption is an artifact staff associated with Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares. It has the power to steal the dreams of sleeping mortals in order to increase its own power. In various instances, it has either allowed the caster to create clones of the staff's target (who then fight for the caster) or it casts a damaging spell which gets stronger if it has stolen dreams.
      • The Staff of Worms is associated with the infamous Lich/Necromancer, Mannimarco. It has the power to revive dead bodies to fight of the staff's wielder.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Throughout the series, "Mage" and "Thief" based builds are almost always weaker to start out and have a much tougher going early in the games than their "Fighter" oriented counterparts. However, after leveling up a few times and getting higher quality equipment/spells, these builds quickly outpace the pure "Fighters" and reach massive levels of power. While they're busy trading blows with enemy mooks, skilled Thief-types can have wiped them all out with x30 damage critical hit sneak attacks while Mage-types can have dropped them all with a mass Paralysis spell while their powerful summoned creatures tear them apart, both without having taken a single hit in return. However, as seen under Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards, you can still find yourself at a disadvantage if you're forced to fight an enemy you can't sneak up on or who is immune to/reflects your spells, so it is wise to have a Plan B.
    • Item Crafting, be it Enchanting, Spellmaking, Alchemy, etc., almost always starts out uselessly weak and cripplingly expensive to perform, but, given proper Level Grinding (or simple exploitation) can quickly become game-breakingly powerful. For example, in the early going, potions you create will be far weaker than those you can readily find or buy. However, you can create hundreds of them out of cheap, readily available ingredients (which increases your Alchemy skill) and then sell them to recoup your funds to buy more ingredients. Rinse and repeat enough times, and suddenly you find yourself able to create massively powerful potions that temporarily make you invulnerable and/or grant you full invisibility for long periods of time.
  • Magitek:
    • A specialty of the Dwemer, who combined their skills as master enchanters with their propensity toward Steam Punk technology. Notably, the core of the Dwemer's magical technology involved machines and tools designed to manipulate "tonal architecture" or the sounds and vibrations created by the "Earth Bones," which were the parts of the Aedra that were used to create and define the laws of the world. In effect, they completely bypassed "normal" magic (which involves using the magicka that flows into the world from the sun and the stars) and instead hijacked the fundamental laws of the world and used them for their own ends. This notably allowed them to Ragnarok Proof many of their creations, which remain functional in modern times (though are mostly a form of Lost Technology to all but the most knowledgeable scholars).
    • Much of the technology of the extinct Ayleids is a form of Magitek. They powered their technologically advanced (relative to the other non-Dwemer races of Tamriel) cities with Magicka-recharging Welkynd stones and Enchantment-recharging Varla stones, items implied to have been created using concentrated starlight, which they Ayleids viewed as the most "sublime" form of magic.
  • The Magnificent:
    • The Magna-Ge, aka "Star Orphans". The Magna-Ge are et'Ada ("original spirits") who, along with their "father" Magnus (the architect of Mundus, the mortal realm), fled Mundus part way through its creation after Magnus realized that creating it would severely weaken the et'Ada and forever bind them to the world. One of these Magna-Ge is known as "Mnender-Foil the Amazing".
    • This is a common naming convention among the Nords, crossing over with Luke Nounverber. These epithets can be direct or ironic. In the Nordic naming convention, there is a difference between names with a "the" and without a "the". If there is an article, it likely means that this Nord earned his moniker personally rather than inheriting it like a family name. The absence of the article likely means it's a family name inherited from older generations. (With the founder of the bloodline liking earning it with a "the".)
  • Magnus Means Mage: Magnus is the series' God of Magic. He's also acknowledged by those who don't worship him, and even indirectly responsible for the use of magic among mortals.
  • The Magocracy:
    • The regions controlled by the Dunmeri Great House Telvanni fall under this. The Councilors tend to be millennia old Evil Sorcerers who've risen to the top via Might Makes Right and Klingon Promotion.
    • The Psijic Order is one on their home island of Artaeum. They are governed by a magical council led by the Ritemaster (or Loremaster in some sources). The oldest monastic group in Tamriel, the Psijic Order is a secretive Magical Society founded during the ancient times by an Aldmeri (Precursors to the modern races of Mer) sect who rejected the transition to Aedra worship from ancestor worship, known to them as the "Old Way" or "Elder Way." Their order is highly selective and they practice Sufficiently Analyzed Magic which allows them to perform feats (make their island disappear, freeze time, astral project, etc.) that no other group in Tamriel can match (save for the extinct Dwemer).
  • Magpies as Portents:
    • Ebonarm, a god of war worshiped in the Iliac Bay region, is followed by two ravens who portend his appearance on the battlefield. However, the "portending calamity" aspect can be averted once he appears, as he may deem the battle baseless and demand that it end.
    • Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night who is also associated with Thieves and Luck, is associated with ravens and crows. Ravens with the ability to speak sometimes act as her messengers. The Crow's Wood is a pocket realm of Oblivion associated with Nocturnal, and it is ruled by the Blackfeather Court, a group of sentient crows who consider themselves as the realm's rulers.
  • The Maker: The series offers several deities who created "creation" itself and then created the mortal plane, Mundus. To note:
    • Anu and Padomay. "Twin brothers" who are the Anthropomorphic Personifications of the primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. The series' primary Creation Myth states that their interplay in the great "void" of pre-creation led to creation itself. Creation, sometimes anthropomorphized as the female entity "Nir", favored Anu, which angered Padomay. Padomay killed Nir and shattered the twelve worlds she gave birth to. Anu then wounded Padomay, presuming him dead. Anu salvaged the pieces of the twelve worlds 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 creation. (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 (also known by many other names). 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, 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, releasing the spirits from eternal stasis.) Those et'Ada who sacrificed large parts of their being to create Mundus became known as the Aedra ("Our Ancestors" in Old 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. His spirit then wandered Mundus, occasionally taking physical mortal forms, known as "Shezarrines" after Lorkhan's Imperial name, Shezarr.
    • The Aedra sacrificed a large portion of their divine power in order to create the mortal world. They were originally many in number, but only 8 survived the creation of Mundus. (And depending on the story, even they did not truly "survive," but they are dead and "dreaming the are alive.") These 8 are known as the "Divines" and would become the primary deities worshiped by the Church of the Divines. Their sacrifice has left them weak, and thus they prefer a lighter touch in dealing with the mortal world, most often acting through mortal agents and reserving direct Divine Intervention for only the most dire of circumstances, such as averting The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout:
    • Nirn's dragons are the divine children of the chief deity of the Nine Divines Pantheon, Akataosh, the Dragon God of Time. (They also may be fragments of his actual being, and serve of a role similar to being very destructive angels.) They inherently speak a Language of Magic which gives them small scale Reality Warping powers. Essentially, they "make real" whatever they speak in this language. For example, when a Dragon is "breathing" fire, they're technically commanding fire to come into existence, and battles between dragons are essentially very loud debates.
    • In the ancient past, the dragons and their Dragon Cults took over much of Skyrim. Seeking a way to defeat the Dragons and their Cults, the ancient Proud Warrior Race Nords prayed to the Divines for aid. Their prayers were answered and they were taught how to use the language of the Dragons themselves, which they called the Thu'um (or the "Voice"). Led by the Tongues, masters of the Thu'um, the ancient Nord armies vanquished the dragons and their Cults, then forged an Empire that covered nearly all of north Tamriel. A succession crisis would eventually tear it apart, and then the use of the Thu'um as a weapon of war dropped dramatically after their defeat at the Battle of Red Mountain, following which one of those Tongues (Jurgen Windcaller) founded the "Way of the Voice" to use the Thu'um only honor the gods.
    • In modern times, the Greybeards continue to follow Windcaller's "Way of the Voice." They live in a monastery known as High Hrothgar near the top of the Throat of the World, the tallest mountain in Tamriel. So powerful is their Thu'um that they are usually sworn to silence in order to not destroy everything around them simply by talking. Even their faintest whispers are known to shake the mountain on which they live. The Greybeards accept anyone who wishes to learn the Thu'um and follow the Way of the Voice. It is explained that anyone can learn to use Thu'um, but it takes a great deal of training, mostly to learn the true meaning of the words in the shout. Anyone can try speaking it, but you need to put your soul into it for magic to happen.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Though there are exceptions, the majority of the series' Ancient Tombs as well as Dwemer, Ayleid, and other ruins play it quite straight with unjustified traps and other dangerous features.
  • Malevolent Masked Men:
    • Many of the main series' (and some expansions') Big Bads and/or their servants wear masks. Dagoth Ur, the Mythic Dawn, the Dragon Priests...
    • The majority of Daedric helmets throughout the series include malevolent looking masks.
  • Mama Bear:
  • Mana: Present, and referred to as "Magicka". It is said to flow in from Aetherius through the sun and stars, allowing mortals on Mundus to use magic. For a mechanical breakdown of how it is is calculated for each game in the series, see the trope page.
  • Mana Burn: The series in general has Magicka absorbing spells, which transfer the stolen Magicka to your own pool.
  • Mana Drain:
    • The series has Absorb Magicka as a spell, classed under either the Mysticism or Restoration schools of magic depending on the game. While under the spell's effect, any spells cast at you have a chance of being absorbed by you, negating their damage while restoring your own Magicka. Actually casting it as a spell is somewhat useless, as it mostly just replenishes the Magicka you used to actually cast Absorb Magicka (though it also prevents you from taking damage from hostile spells at least). However, it makes for one of the best magical defense enchantments in the series. Enchanting Absorb Magicka onto clothing, jewelry, and pieces of armor will leave you as a spell-absorbing Mage Killer machine.
    • The Necromancer's Amulet is a recurring artifact item throughout the series. One of the many powerful abilities it grants the wearer is the ability to absorb magicka.
  • Mana Meter: The Magicka meter is present in all main series games to date.
  • Mana Potion: The series has (typically blue) Magicka restoring potions which are ubiquitous throughout. Using the series' Alchemy system, you can even brew your own. They're a must-have for any magic-oriented Player Characters.
  • The Man Behind the Man:
    • When he's not the outright Big Bad himself, Mehrunes Dagon (the Daedric Prince of Desruction) is frequently this trope instead. The outright destruction of Mundus is his ultimate goal, and anyone acting toward that end is doing so in his interest, whether they know it or not.
    • When it's not Dagon, other Daedric Princes frequently fit the bill, often in sidequest plotlines. Molag Bal is a frequent offender, as part of his modus operandi is corrupting mortals toward destroying one another. Hermaeus Mora is another, being an excellent Chessmaster and master of the Xanatos Gambit.
  • Man Bites Man: Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker, did this during his Duel to the Death with the Ayleid lord, Haromir of Copper and Tea. Pelinal bit out Haromir's "neck veins", though it wasn't a last resort. Famed for his fits of Unstoppable Rage, Pelinal did it merely because he could.
  • Manipulative Bastard: An extremely common trait in leaders and deities throughout the series. A number of the Daedric Princes qualify (Azura, Boethiah, Mephala, Meridia, Molag Bal, Sheogorath, etc.) as do quite a few prominent Tamriellic leaders, including Tiber Septim (at least according to the more "heretical" tales of his life), King Hlaalu Helseth, and the Thalmor. Additional details for each can be found at length on the trope page.
  • Manly Tears: Ysgramor was the ancient Atmoran hero who conquered Skyrim from the Falmer. When his son died, Ysgramor shed some manly tears before going on an epic Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Marathon Level: Most games have at least one. Specific examples are available on the trope page by game.
  • Martial Pacifist: The Bosmer have a reputation for being pacifists, due to the fact that throughout all the wars throughout Tamriel's history, the Bosmer have been the aggressors in only a small number of conflicts. They have, however, been forced to repel invaders on countless occasions, so they're not averse to combat; their race has produced some of Tamriel's finest archers, and if in dire straits, they have the power to unleash the nightmarish beasts of The Wild Hunt against their foes.
  • Martyrdom Culture:
    • The Nords, a Proud Warrior Race native to the harsh northern clime of Skyrim who seek to enter Sovngarde, a Valhalla expy, when they die. It should tell you something about any culture when "May you die with a sword in your hands" is a perfectly normal way to say goodbye to someone.
    • The Orcs (Orsimer) take it to an extreme. Like the Nords, the Orcs are a Proud Warrior Race, but unlike the Nords, who believe that dying in battle is a nice thing to happen, Orcs actively look for ways to die in battle. One notable random encounter in Skyrim has you meet an old Orc on the road who seeks a worthy death in battle, because he feels he is too old to rule a clan, too old to marry, and wants to die in battle like a true Orc to please the Orcish patron deity, the Daedric Prince Malacath.
  • The Marvelous Deer: Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt, has a white stag as one of his avatars on Mundus, and even his humanoid avatar is typically depicted with deer antlers. He has been known to require mortals to successfully hunt him in this stag form in order to gain his favor.
  • Mascot Mook: Mud Crabs, an aggressive, roughly tortoise-sized crab species found in many varieties throughout Tamriel. They're little more than Goombas, going down easily to even low-level characters. Still, they've become quite famous. You'd be easily forgiven for thinking they're fictional, but you'd be wrong. (The Oblivion variety even looks somewhat like the real thing.)
  • Masquerade:
    • This is common for vampires. Many Vampires are able to blend in with general population of Tamriel. For many bloodlines, as long as they stay well-fed, they are indistinguishable from mortals of the same race. One bloodline, the Bonsamu of Valenwood, are completely indistinguishable unless seen in candlelight, which will reveal their true nature.
    • This is also the case for Lycanthropes. In their mortal forms, were-creatures are usually indistinguishable from any other mortals. This allows them to live and function within normal society as long as they aren't witnessed transforming. Some do retain traces of their beast form while in mortal form, however. Werewolves, for example, are sometimes known to have fur in their ears or have a "wet dog" smell.
    • Some liches are able to maintain a facade of humanity, be it with powerful Illusion magic or something else. Often, if they are slain in this form, they revert to their true undead form and must be defeated again.
  • Massive Race Selection: The series started with eight playable races and added two more (Imperials and Orcs) in Morrowind to reach a total of 10.
  • Mass Monster Slaughter Sidequest: These often pop up in sidequests. Frequently crosses over with 20 Bear Asses, as you aren't simply killing the monsters, but collecting their Organ Drops for the quest giver.
  • Master of Illusion:
  • Master of One Magic: The Master Trainers of the various schools of magic throughout the series. Each is able to train you to the very highest levels in their particular magical discipline. In games where Trainers offer training in more than one skill, the other skills the Master Trainer offers training in will be far below his/her mastered skill.
  • Master of Unlocking:
    • The Player Character can naturally become one of these by reaching a high enough skill level in the Security/Lockpicking skill.
    • Most games also include a Master Trainer for every skill, who can train you to the very highest levels of the skill. The Master Trainer of Security/Lockpicking naturally fits the trope.
  • Master Poisoner:
    • The Kota-Vimleel tribe of Argonians are esteemed alchemists known for creating the most deadly poisons in all of Tamriel.
    • Hlaalu Helseth (King of Morrowind in the late 3rd Era) is reputed to be one of the greatest and most subtle poisoners in the world. The in-game book A Game at Dinner and rumors regarding the death of his predecessor as King support this reputation, as well as speak for his subtlety.
    • Starting with Oblivion, creating poisons is added as a subset of the Alchemy skill. Poisons can be applied to weapons to deal extra damage and/or inflict a Standard Status Effect. Skyrim, via the Pickpocketing skill, adds the ability to drop poisons directly into the inventory of NPCs, who will then be inflicted by the poison's effects, right up to death.
  • Master Race:
  • Master Swordsman:
    • Each game starting with Morrowind has a Master Trainer in the various Blade/One-Handed skills who qualifies. Unless the respective game's PC maxes out their swordfighting skills, these individuals are generally acknowledged as the Master Swordsmen of the respective region.
    • This is the "hat" for the Redguards, a Proud Warrior Race of dark-skinned humans whose culture is a blend of the Moors, Arabs, and Samurai. They are acknowledged as the most masterful swordsmen in Tamriel, with their race's Sacred Scripture being a treatise on sword techniques. Even among the Redguards, there are some who take it to another level:
      • The Ansei, or "Sword Saints", were an order made up of the greatest "sword singers," Yokudan warriors who follow "The Way of the Sword," a martial philosophy on blade mastery. So great was their mastery of the blade that they could manifest a sword from their very soul, known as a Shehai or "Spirit Sword". Ansei of the highest ranks had Shehai which shined brighter and were much deadlier. Described as an "unstoppable weapon of great might" that could cut down foes like "a scythe through wheat", disarming such an Ansei could only be done by severing their head or taking their mind. (However, there was some evidence to suggest the Shehai of an Ansei could be shattered, leaving behind only its essence.) The greatest Ansei could use a technique known as the "Pankratosword," which allowed them to "cut the atomos" with their Shehai (and may have been responsible for the destruction of Yokuda). Considered to be a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, the Pankratosword has since been lost to history. (If it ever actually existed at all.) While the Ansei came with the Redguards to Tamriel, their numbers dwindled over time. There hasn't been a known Ansei warrior since the 2nd Era, and by the 4th Era, they are considered a myth.
      • Frandar Hunding was perhaps the greatest of the Ansei. Says Allena Benoch, another Master Swordsman, of Hunding and swordsmanship in general:
      "Frandar Hunding lists thirty-eight grips, seven hundred and fifty offensive and eighteen hundred defensive positions, and nearly nine thousand moves essential to sword mastery. The average hack-and-slasher knows one grip, which he uses primarily to keep from dropping his blade. He knows one offensive position, facing his target, and one defensive position, fleeing. Of the multitudinous rhythms and inflections of combat, he knows less than one."
      • Frandar is believed to be one manifestation of the HoonDing, the Yokudan/Redguard spirit of perseverance and "Make Way God". The HoonDing has historically manifested whenever it is needed to "make way" for the Yokudan/Redguard people. In all known forms, the avatar of the HoonDing has excelled at swordsmanship.
      • Another was Gaiden Shinji, a 1st Era leader of the Order of Diagna and founder of the Imperial City Arena (where he served as the first "Blademaster"). For Shinji, the title was not cosmetic.
  • Match Maker Quest: A few sidequests of this nature can be found throughout the series. Specific examples by game are listed on the trope page.
  • Matriarchy:
    • This as the case for the Khajiit race. While the (historically male) Mane is the unofficial "head of state" of the Khajiit people, it is the Clan Mothers who hold the real power in Khajiiti society. They control the harvest and refinement of Moon Sugar, which is sacred to the Khajiit, and thus it is they who are seen as the most influential.
    • This is a trait of the Aureals (aka Golden Saints) and Mazken (aka Dark Seducers), two forms of lesser Daedra in service to Sheogorath. Their society is extremely matriarchal, with females filling all leadership positions. It helps that the female Aureals/Mazken are both physically larger and more powerful than the males.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: Morrowind and Oblivion allow you to create spells of this nature, which work either temporarily or permanently. The temporary variant is particularly effective if you create a spell that drains an extremely large amount of max HP for 1 second, because this can reduce enemy's max HP to zero, causing instant death. Skyrim limits this effect to poisons rather than magic, and can only be cured by 'cure poison' effects or praying at an altar.
  • May–December Romance: Emperor Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire, would engage in one of these with the young Dunmeri noble Barenziah. Septim was Barenziah's senior by many decades when their relationship began. Barenziah was being groomed to be Septim's loyal Puppet Queen in her newly vassalized homeland of Morrowind. Barenziah actually became pregnant by Septim, and since a bastard child with a Dunmer mistress would be very inconvenient for Septim, he ordered that the child be magically aborted, much to Barenziah's dismay. Ironically, it is also a Mayfly–December Romance in the opposite direction, as Barenziah is a Long-Lived Dunmer who would go on to outlive Septim by centuries.
  • Mayfly–December Romance:
    • Any relationship between the a member of the Long-Lived Races of Mer and a member of the Races of Men, who have lifespans on par with real-life humans qualifies.
    • A specific example from the series' backstory is Emperor Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire, and the young Dunmeri noble Barenziah. (Which was ironically a May–December Romance in the opposite direction, as Septim was many decades Barenziah's senior.) Barenziah was being groomed to be Septim's loyal Puppet Queen in her newly vassalized homeland of Morrowind. Barenziah actually became pregnant by Septim, and since a bastard child with a Dunmer mistress would be very inconvenient for Septim, he ordered that the child be magically aborted, much to Barenziah's dismay. Being a long-lived Dunmer, Barenziah would go on to outlive Septim by centuries.
  • Mayincatec:
    • Cyrodiil, homeland of the Imperials and the heart of the various Tamriellic Empires throughout history, was stated originally have been a lush jungle and home to the Nibenese, a cross between a Mayincatec culture with some early Chinese Empire influences as well, with jungles, rivers, rice fields, tattoos, and stone cities. Later depictions transform it instead as a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of ancient Rome. This is justified as Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire, would use his powers post-apotheosis as the deity Talos to perform a Cosmic Retcon, transforming Cyrodiil into a temperate forest as a thanks to the Imperial Legions who served him so well in life. As shown in the prequel The Elder Scrolls Online, this change was retroactive, making it so Cyrodiil had always been a temperate forest.
    • Black Marsh, home of the Argonian race, particularly the Argonia region within it, has aesthetic influences to this effect. There are some suggestions in the lore that some of its ancient stone cities and pyramid structures were not built by the Argonians themselves, but older civilizations which have since been wiped out.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Art of War Magic is a recurring in-game book written by Zurin Arctus, Tiber Septim's Imperial Battlemage, in the same style as Sun Tzu's The Art of War.
    • It is implied in a few cases that the Daedric Princes are so ancient they were not named for something, but instead their names became common nouns. For example the word "vile" comes from Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes.
    • Hircine is the Daedric Prince of the Hunt. In Latin, "hircine" means "goat-like", although Hircine's forms tend to more closely resemble a stag.
    • Nocturnal's name is meaningful on several levels. She is the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night, who is also associated with Thieves and Luck. Nocturnal means "active at night", and she is the very embodiment of the night. She is the patron of the thieves, who are also most active during the night.
    • Sanguine's name also works on two levels. He's the Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism, and the word "sanguine" can refer to a lively character as well as blood, which fits his patronage over both the light and dark aspects of pleasure.
    • Aureals are a form of lesser Daedra in service to Sheogorath. They have golden skin and hair, and are typically outfitted in golden armor with golden weapons. The "Aur" in Aureals comes from Aurum, the Latin word for gold. The mortal name for an Aureal is a "Golden Saint".
    • Anu, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the primordial force of stasis/order/light who, in the interplay with his "twin brother" Padomay (the personification of the force of change/chaos/darkness), brought about "creation", shares his name with the with the supreme god of ancient Mesopotamian mythology, one of the oldest recorded deities in history. Very fitting for a "God of Gods".
    • In the series' backstory, the ancient Yokudans (ancestors to the Redguards) fought a devastating war with Sinistral Mer (or Left-Handed Elves) which left the latter extinct. "Sinistra" is Latin for "left."
    • Both names of Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker, are meaningful. Pelinal is a corruption of the Aldmeri term Pelin-El, which translates to "Star-Made Knight". Fitting, as he was created/sent by the Divines. "Whitestrake" is also meaningful, given his head of flowing white hair.
    • Emperor Uriel Septim VII. Uriel is one of the seven archangels in Judeo-Christian traditions, one associated with protection, healing, and redeeming. (Fitting, given his personality and actions.) He is the seventh Septim to bare the name Uriel. And Septim itself comes from "septem", Latin for seven.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The extinct Dwemer were a race of Robot Masters. Known to them as "animunculi", they created these ranging from miniature Spider Centurion workers to human-sized Sphere Centurion soldiers (who roll around as metal balls before unfolding into blade and/or crossbow armed humanoid robots) to massive Steam Centurion golems. Given that the Dwemer were known to tinker with the "earthbones" (essentially the laws of nature and physics in the ES universe), their creations were built to last a long time, with many still up and running in their old ruins even thousands of years after their disappearance. Plenty of intrepid scholars have attempted to gain control over these Dwemer creations in that time, but usually discover rather quickly that AI Is A Crap Shoot as the creations have the tendency to go berserk when activated outside of Dwemer ruins.
  • Mechanical Abomination: The Numidium, a Dwemer-constructed Humongous Mecha designed to be powered by the heart of a dead god (and later powered by what is believed to be that god's soul), which distorts reality around it whenever it is activated. It played a major role in the series' backstory, where Tiber Septim used it to complete his conquest of Tamriel, and then shows up in Daggerfall as a major plot point. At the end of Daggerfall, it causes a Time Crash which makes each of the game's mutually exclusive Multiple Endings all happen at once, though none to the same extent they would have individually. It is also implied in more esoteric lore that Numidium is the walking, tangible embodiment of the concept of refutation, or "is not," to the point that it refuted itself out of existence at one point... and then refuted its nonexistence as well and brought itself back into reality. Don't worry if your brain hurts trying to comprehend that.
  • Mechanical Monster: Some of the higher-end Mecha-Mooks of the Dwemer qualify, such as the massive, humanoid Centurians. These things are difficult to kill, hit hard, and can end your quest in a few blows if you are careless. Certain Dwemer ruins and quests throughout the series have "boss" versions of these, such as Skyrim's massively powerful Dwemer Centurian Master.
  • The Medic:
    • The Aedric Divines pantheon is heavily associated with healing. Visiting the shrines (or in some cases, the priests) of any of the Nine Divines will cure diseases and heal damaged attributes. In particular, Stendarr, the God of Mercy, Justice, and Compassion, has a strong association with Restoration magic as well as healing in general. The followers of Kynareth, the Goddess of the Air and Heavens, are also renowned for their healing abilities. The blessing from the shrine of Arkay, the God of Life and Death, serves as a minor version as it temporarily fortifies your maximum health.
    • Given the nature of Nirn, Healers (practitioners of the Restoration school of magic) are understandably necessary. They've served in (mostly) non-combat roles in militaries throughout Tamriellic history healing wounded soldiers. However, given that very same nature of the world, they almost always need some means of defending themselves, pushing them closer to Combat Medics.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: As whole, the series Zig-Zags it. Specific games range from playing it straight (Oblivion), to Downplaying it (Arena and Daggerfall), to Subverting it (Skyrim), to Averting it (Morrowind, which invokes this a little with its Imperial settlements, but they exist largely to contrast just how different the rest of Vvardenfell is in comparison). A full breakdown by game is available on the trope page.
  • Medieval Stasis:
    • Technological progress is almost completely nonexistent in Tamriel. The main series of games alone spans several centuries and none include an engineer, inventor or scholar that is not a mage or an alchemist. The in-game historical fiction 2920, The Last Year of the First Era is set over 1000 years prior to the start of the series, and the world is largely the same as it is in the games. Similarly, The Elder Scrolls Online is a prequel to the main series set about 500 years prior to the main series and likewise shows the world much as it is centuries later in terms of technological and societal progress. This is also largely the case in regards to political boundaries and some dynasties. Despite numerous border disputes, invasions, and cultural blending being a big part of the lore, the boundaries of the various nations of Tamriel remain fixed and stagnant. Many Regions, cities, towns, and even most castles have the same names they had thousands of years ago. Dynasties are also much longer lasting than in reality. For example, the Septim Dynasty ruled Tamriel for nearly 500 years when it ended during the Oblivion Crisis. (For comparison, the longest lasting real world dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty of China, lasted 790 and didn't cover nearly as large or diverse of territory as Tamriel, which is about the size of Africa.) Others have lasted even longer, such as the Direnni Hegemony of High Rock. An Altmeri clan, the Direnni's once controlled about 1/3 of Tamriel's land mass at their height thousands of years in the past. They're now a mere vestige of their former glory, controlling only the island of Balfiera in High Rock, but they still exist and have political influence.
    • At least in terms of technology and advanced knowledge, there are a few groups or individuals who provide exceptions. However, for various reasons, their advancements have been lost or have never proliferated throughout Tamriel. To note:
      • The Dwemer ("Dwarves") were an extremely technologically advanced race. They were master enchanters and engineers, blending these skills to create Magitek Steam Punk-style technology far beyond anything any other group in Tamriel has been able to create. They also (in)famously studied the "tonal architecture" of the world, essentially the laws of nature and physics, in order to find ways to circumvent them, making them literal Reality Warpers. One of the major ways they used this ability was to Ragnarok Proof their creations, allowing them to function in working order for thousands of years. Among their other known creations were Humongous Mechas, a Weather-Control Machine, a Steam Punk Cool Airship, and a computer-like machine capable of safely reading an Elder Scrolls which bypasses the usual nasty side effects. Unfortunately, while attempting to tap in to the power of the heart of a dead god in order to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, they did something which caused their entire race to disappear from the face of Nirn in an instant. Their creations have become Lost Technology, and, while enterprising scholars and mages over the thousands of years since have been able to study and repair their technology, no one has been able to actually replicate their achievements.
      • The Psijic Order is a secretive and selective monastic Magical Society, the oldest in Tamriel in fact. Through thousands of years of intensive study in the nature of magic, they have become able to utilize it in ways the rest of Tamriel is unable to match. However, their philosophy precludes them from sharing these abilities outside of the order. They subscribe to the belief that The World Is Not Ready, and must progress on its own, slowly and at a safe rate. Their many advanced feats include making their home island disappear without a trace (twice), summoning a storm to swallow the Maomer fleet whole, using various forms of teleportation and Astral Projection, Telepathy, and there are even reports that they possess a limited form of clairvoyance and sight into future events.
      • Sotha Sil is (was) one of the Dunmeri Tribunal deities, three formerly mortal advisors to Lord Nerevar who successfully tapped into the power of the aforementioned Heart of Lorkhan after the Dwemer (apparently) failed. In the millennia that followed, he spent much of his time withdrawn from the world in his self-built Clockwork City, studying the "hidden world". Sotha Sil's creations reach full blown Schizo Tech status, as he created complex computer systems, semi-organic cybernetic servants, turned himself into a Cyborg, and may have even uploaded his own mind into his city (meaning he may not have been killed during the events of Tribunal) all while the rest of the world was stuck in medieval stasis. Given that he is (was) a reclusive Physical God, his creations and advancements have never proliferated outside of his city.
    • There is also evidence of this trope being Downplayed or Subverted in cycles throughout Tamriellic history, with technology progressing at times but the regressing for various reasons. For example, during the late 1st Era, the Second Tamriellic Empire under the Reman Dynasty engaged their rivals, the Aldmeri Dominion, in what is essentially a "space race" to explore Oblivion and Aetherius (which, given Nirn's Alien Sky, are essentially outer space and the celestial bodies). The Aldmeri used Sunbirds, ships somehow literally made from the Sun (which, in this universe, is a portal to Aetherius through which magic flows into Mundus). 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, and operations gradually ceased because the trips were way too expensive for very little material gain (much like the real world space race between the US and the USSR after the initial trips). On the other hand, as magical technology regressed, mechanical technology has slowly improved, with new types of weapons and armor and machinery being slowly developed over the centuries. However, a great deal of both mechanical and magical knowledge has been lost over the millennia, due to a near constant series of disasters, temporal anomalies causing Cosmic Retcons, political upheavals, and massive wars, on top of the interference by the Daedric Princes.
  • Mega-Corp:
    • The East Empire Company is one throughout much of the series. Based on the real life East India Company, they dominate inter-provincial trade in the Empire and have become quite wealthy (and sometimes unscrupulous) as a result.
    • The Dunmeri Great House Hlaalu was one until their 4th Era collapse. They were the Proud Merchant House of the Dunmer, with a focus on mercantilism and trade, along with all of the corporate espionage and chronic backstabbing that usually entails. Their strong trade ties to the Empire have made them into the strongest Great House during the late 3rd Era, with the King of Morrowind and Duke of Vvardenfell both belonging to House Hlaalu. The other Houses are less mercantile and don't resemble corporations, they are respectively a warrior aristocracy (Redoran), a feudal magocracy (Telvanni), a church (Indoril) and plantation slave owners (Dres).
  • Menu Time Lockout: Played straight throughout the series. Opening the menu freezes the game time around you, allowing you to change weapons, ready spells, change armor, gulp down potions, eat several hundred pounds of food, etc. Depending on the specific game, entering conversations with NPCs, picking locks, and engaging in Item Crafting (Enchanting, Spell-Making, Alchemy, etc.) may also freeze the game time.
  • Mercy Kill: Some clients who contact the Dark Brotherhood do so for this reason, often if the client believes it is for the best but does not want to get their own hands dirty.
  • Merged Reality:
    • The Warp in the West essentially did this for Daggerfall's mutually exclusive Multiple Endings. As revealed by later games, the activation of the Numidium (a known Reality Warper) caused a Time Crash. Each of the endings of Daggerfall happened at once, though (in Broad Strokes fashion) none to the same extent that they would have individually. For example, the four regional powers in the Iliac Bay expand, but none takes over the entire area, and all are still under Imperial authority. Mannimarco, the King of Worms, does ascend to become the God of Worms, but he's in a rather minor divine station, and a mortal (or at least as "mortal" as a Lich can be) King of Worms still exists, who leads a cult worshiping the God of Worms. The Underking still destroys the Mantella, and dies like he always wanted.
    • Each of the series' mortals who have ascended to godhood, including Tiber Septim as Talos (possibly with others) and the Dunmeri Tribunal, have highly conflicting origin stories with irreconcilable details. One of the most prominent theories to explain this is that one origin story was true, but upon ascension to godhood, these deities retroactively changed their pasts in a sort of Reality Warping Historical Hero Upgrade. Essentially, these beings brought together (at least) two timelines, one where they were formerly mortal, and one where they had always been gods.
  • Merger of Souls: This is one of the more prominent theories regarding the apotheosis of Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire who posthumously became the Aedric Divine Talos. It states that Tiber Septim's Imperial Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, who was tasked with finding a replacement power source for the Numidium, attempted to soul-trap Wulfharth Ash-King (a notable Shezarrine, physical manifestations of the soul of Shezarr/Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god of Mundus, the mortal plane) using the Mantella. Arctus succeeded, but Wulfharth killed Arctus with his dying breath. The two beings are theorized to have been merged into the undying entity known as the Underking. Following the Warp in the West, the Underking recovered the Mantella and freed his soul, allowing him to finally die. Septim, who had possibly "mantled" Shezarr, thus ascended with them into godhood as a merged entity. Another theory states that Septim, Arctus, and Wulfharth were all part of the same "oversoul" from the start. Needless to say, things get very Mind Screwy within the ES universe when divinity and mantling are involved, and even this theory is hotly debated (in-universe and out).
  • Merging the Branches: The "Warp in the West" essentially does this for the Multiple Endings of Daggerfall. Later games in the series treat it as if each of the mutually exclusive endings happened, but none to the same extent they would have individually. For example, instead of one political power dominating the region, the dozens of city states merged into four with all still under the banner of the Empire. Mannimarco successfully ascended to godhood, but in a rather minor station, while also leaving a "mortal" version behind who leads the cult that worships the god version. Numidium doesn't go on a Tamriel-destroying rampage, but is rendered forever non-functional through unexplained means.
  • Merlin Sickness: Orgnum, the King of the Maormer (Sea Elves), is said to be an "immortal wizard". Not only is he said to be immortal, he supposedly appears more youthful with each passing year. (The Altmer, Arch Enemies to the Maormer, claim that Orgnum is not actually immortal and uses "foul" magics and sacrifices in order to maintain his youth.)
  • Messy Hair: This is a commonly depicted trait of Namira, the Daedric Prince of the Ancient Darkness, associated with all things revolting, decay, disfiguring diseases, and cannibalism. This combined with her black dress means that her appearance all but crosses into crosses into Witch Classic territory (minus the pointy black hat).
  • Metafictional Title: The series gets its name from the Elder Scrolls, a form of Tome of Eldritch Lore known as "Fragments of Creation". They're indisputable recordings of what happens, what could have happened, and what may happen, being heavily associated with prophecy. Reading them also usually comes with a heavy dose of blindness and madness. They're also known to have some Reality Warping powers. In a twist on the trope, the name was chosen as a sur-title to Arena because, according to the developers, "it sounded cool", and it was only after that they figured out what the Elder Scrolls would be in-universe.
  • Meta Guy: M'aiq the Lair is a recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character who has appeared in every game 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 isn't above above taking some at Bethesda itself. His "meta" dialogue understandably doesn't make any sense from an in-universe perspective and justifiably makes him seem very detached from the game world.
  • Metaphorically True:
    • Long ago, the continent of Akavir had its own race of Men little different from those in Tamriel. However, it is said that these men were "devoured" by the Tsaesci, an Akaviri race of "snake vampires". One theory states that this means the men were literally eaten by the Tsaesci. However, another source regarding the Tsaesci uses "devour" and "enslave" interchangeably when it comes to what the Tsaesci did to the red dragons of Akavir. "Devour" is likely just a colorful metaphor for enslavement and/or cultural absorption.
    • Vivec, the Dunmeri Tribunal deity, uses statements like this liberally (in addition to a number of Half Truths and even some Blatant Lies) both in his 36 Lessons book series and in his dialogue.
  • Mighty Whitey: The extinct "Bird Men" were a Beast Race native to what would become the Imperial City Isle in central Cyrodiil. Topal the Pilot, the legendary Aldmeri Bold Explorer and poet, became this to them. He and his men taught them to speak their own words and how to write, so they declared him their lord and offered him their islands. Despite this, the Bird Men would be rendered extinct at the hands of "cat demons," believed by modern scholars to have been the ancient Khajiit.
  • The Migration: The Dunmer, formerly the Chimer, have done this twice in their people's history. To note:
    • Originally, as the Chimer, they were led to Morrowind in a mass migration from the Summerset Isles by the prophet Veloth. They left to pursue the opportunity to worship the "Good" Daedra and their ancestors, as opposed to the Aedra worship of the Altmer.
    • Following the events of the Red Year, the Dunmer people were forced to flee Morrowind. Many poured into Solstheim, which by the 4th Era wasn't much more than a frozen rock and site of a failed Imperial mining colony. Others fled to mainland Skyrim, settling in the poorer areas of eastern Skyrim where they are treated as little better than second class citizens to the native Nords.
  • Miles Gloriosus: At least one mentioned or seen per game. A character with his actual name appears in Morrowind, but he appears to be a Subversion (a well respected warrior who is killing blighted monsters that sneak through the Ghostfence).
  • Military Mage:
    • The office of Imperial Battlemage is both a high-ranking adviser to the Emperor and a Magic Knight who usually specializes in the Destruction school, implying that they can be deployed as artillery. Those in this station have acted variously as a Hypercompetent Sidekick (Zurin Arctus to Tiber Septim in some apocrypha), an Evil Chancellor (Jagar Tharn to Uriel Septim VII), and The Good Chancellor (Ocato to Uriel VII and Martin Septim, who would also become The Creon and, eventually, Potentate for the Septim Empire for a time following the Oblivion Crisis).
    • Imperial Battlemages are also a branch of the Imperial Legion who act as Magic Knights on the battlefield, being an important asset to the legions dating back to the First Empire. They act variously in support roles (namely healing and protection spells), gathering military intelligence (using Illusion-class spells to scout enemy forces), artillery (with high powered Destruction-class spells), as summoners (using Conjuration-spells) and as just plain Magic Knights who combine magical abilities with plate armor and melee weapons (averting the Squishy Wizard stereotype).
    • Several of the Witch Species races, such as the Altmer and Bretons, employ rank-and-file soldiers who are naturally gifted in the skills of magic and use spells to supplement their more standard combat abilities.
  • Mind over Matter: The Telekinesis spell appears throughout the series, typically classed under either the Mysticism or Alteration schools of magic. It allows items to be magically picked up, dropped, or thrown from a distance. Naturally, its most common use by is Kleptomaniac Player Characters to more easily steal things.
  • Mind Rape:
    • This is one of the more infamous tactics used by Molag Bal, Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, to break mortals. If straight Cold-Blooded Torture and Manipulation fail to break a mortal, Molag Bal can "fragment their soul", essentially causing them to lose or forget about those things from which they draw the strength to resist.
    • This is also a tactic of Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares. She can cause this by afflicting mortals with ceaseless, horrific nightmares. For a mortal, simply being in her realm of Quagmire can qualify as this.
  • Mind Screw: Many elements of the series' lore cause this when you dig into them too deeply. Included are the cosmology of the universe, the circumstances around the series' many deities, the Elder Scrolls themselves, almost everything to do with the Dwemer, and even numerous elements of history itself. A full break down is available on the trope page.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Every game starting with Morrowind has gone in this direction. Each simply depicts a symbol with the title on it, placed on what looks like the cover of a leather-bound book.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Throughout the series, the Thieves' Guild enforces that murder (and combat in general) is a last resort only. However, members are still expected to be capable of defending themselves. Thus, Guild services often include training in Cloak & Dagger style combat skills, such as bladed weapons, light armor, and marksmanship.
  • Minor Major Character: In each of the main series games, the Emperor of Tamriel (Uriel Septim VII in the first four, Titus Mede II in Skyrim) plays only a very minor role despite being the ruler of the continent in which all of the games take place. Game by game details can be found on the trope page.
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: Bethesda first attempted multiplayer in the series with Battlespire, but it was such a spectacular failure that they haven't tried again (outside of the The Elder Scrolls Online, a designed MMO).
  • Misplaced Vegetation:
    • Tamriel includes plants from Europe, Africa, and the Americas all in one continent. For example, despite otherwise being closer to a North African desert, Hammerfell includes cacti. Further, poisonous nightshades (Europe) can be found growing among edible "new world" plants like potatoes, tomatoes, and corn.
    • Many plant species are also found growing outside of their typical climates. In the cold northern clime of Skyrim alone, one can find Boston Ferns (Florida and the Caribbean), Orchids growing in the ground (Philippines, and they grow in trees), Cryptanthus (Brazil), Norfolk Island Pines (New Zealand), and even variegated Algerian Ivy (a modern garden cultivar that was certainly not available to the Scandinavians in the Middle Ages). Likewise, Moon Sugar, a Fantastic Drug similar in appearance and effect to real-world cocaine, is primarily grown in the desert environment of Elsweyr. Real life Coca plants are almost entirely grown in low-altitude South American jungle environments.
  • The Missing Faction: Crossing over with Hufflepuff House, both House Indoril and House Dres are two of the five Great Houses of Dunmer society, but are not formally seen in the series to date. (Although Indoril is strongly associated with the Tribunal Temple, so while not formally present, their influence is still felt.) Come the 4th Era, this was the fate of, ironically, Great House Hlaalu, owing to their strong support of the Empire getting them kicked off the Grand Council and turning them into scapegoats after the Empire abandoned them during the Red Year and Argonian Invasion.
  • Mission from God:
    • The Aedra, the et'Ada ("original spirits") who sacrificed large portions of their divine power during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane, have been left significantly weakened compare to the Daedra (et'Ada who did not sacrifice during creation) and thus, prefer a lighter touch in dealing with mortal affairs. At most, they typically empower mortal agents to complete tasks on their behalf, and even then, they rarely directly instruct the mortal agent, preferring to guide them silently. Any acts of direct Divine Intervention are typically reserved for dire circumstances, such as averting The End of the World as We Know It.
    • The Daedra, despite maintaining their full divine power, have metaphysical restrictions (established by the Aedra) preventing them from manifesting at full power on Mundus outside of certain rare situations. Because of this, they too prefer to accomplish their goals on Mundus by employing mortal agents. Even the most malevolent of the Daedric Princes still typically reward these agents with artifacts and abilities of great power. A notable example is St. Veloth, the legendary Chimer mystic who led his people away from the decadence of the Summerset Isles to their new homeland in Morrowind. The "Good" Daedra (Azura, Boethia, and Mephala) sent him visions to influence him to reject the Aedra. Boethiah even "ate" the Aedric being Trinimac and took his form to convince Veloth to lead the exodus.
  • Mixed Ancestry:
    • This is the case for all mixed-race hybrids in the series, being Uneven Hybrids while averting All Genes Are Codominant. Throughout the series, several in-game books and backstory details indicate that each race of Men (Imperial, Breton, Redguard, Nord) and Mer ("Elves" - Altmer, Dunmer, Bosmer, Orsimer) can indeed interbreed, with the race of the offspring usually being virtually identical to the mother, with a few of the father's traits potentially sprinkled in.note  For example, if an Altmer father and Nord mother produce a child, it wouldn't be a Magic Knight combination of each race. Instead, the child would be almost entirely Nord with the potential of having some Altmeri traits, such as slight points to his ears, higher cheekbones, or a slightly different skin tone.
    • The Bretons are the most famous hybrid race in Tamriel. Their (human) ancestors were Breeding Slaves to the Direnni Altmer of High Rock. Over the course of many generations, some of the Elven traits started to come through with greater dominance. This has led the Bretons to be the most magically inclined race of Men in Tamriel at the cost of some of the Humans Are Warriors traits of the other races of Men. It still isn't accurate to call the Bretons "half human" hybrids, however. They are still almost entirely human with some Altmeri ancestry. It's noted that some elite noble Breton families still have slightly pointed ears.
    • The Bosmer are said to be result of ancient hybridization as well. When the Aldmer (Precursors to all of the modern Elven races) first settled in Valenwood, they started to take "Mannish wives," leading to the modern Bosmer. It is worth noting that out of all the races of Mer, the Bosmer are the ones who look closest to humans and have the most human-like skin tones. In the exact opposite of the Bretons, the Bosmer are still almost entirely Mer.
  • Mobile Phone Game: The Elder Scrolls Travels was a series of mobile phone games developed for Java-enabled devices, including the Useful Notes/N-Gage. These include Dawnstar (2003), Stormhold (2004), and Shadowkey (2004). The canonicity of each unclear at best.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: The series has generally hovered around the 4-6 range.
  • The Mole: Common in the faction questlines throughout the series. If the faction in question has a rival organization, expect to encounter a Mole from that organization at some point.
  • Money for Nothing: In general, it is usually quite easy to acquire far more money than you'd realistically be able to spend, even if you're not being a Kleptomaniac Hero. Most of the best items and equipment are found or given as rewards rather than purchased. High level enchantments, custom magic spells, and high level training for skills can be quite costly, but the price is still easily covered by doing a dungeon dive or two. Expect to see many players running around with hundreds of thousands or even millions of (thankfully weightless) gold yet nothing to spend it on.
  • Money Sink: Player houses are almost always one of the most expensive things you can buy in the games that they appear. In reality, they are simply glorified Superhero Trophy Shelves with a safe place to rest. However, this doesn't stop them from being incredibly popular with players, to the point where you can often buy multiple houses all across the game world and thousands of Game Mods exist which add countless more.
  • Money Spider: Generally averted, as most creatures drop bits of Vendor Trash or Organ Drop-style alchemical ingredients which you'll need to sell in order to make money. Rarely, you may find a wolf or bear or dragon with some coins, jewelry, or gems. One can presume that these were ingested when the creature in question ate the person carrying them...
  • Monochromatic Eyes:
    • Throughout the series, some Bosmer have appeared with all-black eyes and some Dunmer have appeared with all-red eyes.
    • Sheogorath sometimes chooses to appear with all-green eyes. At other times, he appears with cat-like eyes instead.
  • Monster Knight:
    • Several forms of lesser Daedra qualify throughout the series. Most notable are the Dremora, humanoid lesser Daedra who can often be found serving Mehrunes Dagon as his Legions of Hell. They wear heavy armor and use a variety of weapons, as well as magic. They refer to themselves as the "Kyn", meaning "the people" in the Daedric language, to separate them from other lesser Daedra, who they see as mindless animals.
    • Khajiit and Argonian players who chose to use heavy armor capture the visual aspect of this trope, and given both races tendency toward Stealth (thievery, assassination, guerilla warfare), can end up playing the entire thing straight if they stick to the Combat path.
    • This is common for Orcs throughout the series, as they favor heavy armor and melee combat. Though technically a race of Mer (Elves), Orcs face prejudice similar to the Beastfolk, but are also respected as strong and honorable warriors.
  • Monster Lord: Lesser Daedra throughout the series play the trope straight. There is a clear heirarchy with unintelligent beasts at the bottom, various human-animal hybrids like Daedroth, Spider Daedra, and Winged Twilights in the middle, and the intelligent, humanoid Dremora/Daedra Lords at the top.
  • Monster Progenitor:
    • Series background lore tells of a woman named Lamae Beolfag, chronicled in the book Opusculus Lamae Bal. Created through a traumatic rape by Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Enslavement, Lamae became the first recorded vampire, dubbed "Blood Mother." It is believed that all Vampires descend from her, upsetting the balance of death and rebirth normally administered by the Aedric God Arkay. Similarly, the Volkihar Clan of eastern Skyrim, who are unlike their Cyrodilic cousins are Vampire Lords and owe their unique and more powerful form due to being gifted with vampirism directly from Molag Bal himself. They likewise share several traits of Molag Bal, such as voluntary shapeshifting, telekinesis, and the ability to permanently enthrall victims.
    • Were-creatures, also referred to in-universe as Lycanthropes, note  similarly are a creation of Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt. He sees them as the embodiment of the spirit of the hunt, and they serve him in life as mortal agents and in death as the "hounds" of his Hunting Grounds realm. Unlike Molag Bal toward most vampires, Hircine maintains an active role in his creations existence, as he has been known to personally enhance favored Lycanthropes with increased abilities and rewards some with items of power, such as the Ring of Hircine, which allows a Lycanthrope to control his or her transformations. Hircine has even been approached or summoned by packs of werewolves to appoint a pack leader, thus serving as a advisor and an important figure among Lycanthropes.
    • The Minotaur race is believed to descend from the union between St. Alessia (the "Slave Queen" who led the Alessian Slave Revolt against their Ayleid masters) and Morihaus, the Aedric demi-god "winged man-bull" sent by the Divines to aid Alessia. Pelinal Whitestrake, Alessia's "champion" and Morihaus' divine "uncle," specifically warned Morihaus against this relationship, believing that they would "beget more monsters on this earth." (Which, if this is the true origin of Minotaurs, proved to be the case.) Their son, Belharza, was said to be the first Minotaur and became the second Emperor of the Alessian Empire following his mother's death.
    • Dragons are said to be the "divine children" of Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Nine Divines Pantheon. Other sources indicate that they may be fragments of his very being, essentially serving as highly destructive angels.
    • The first mortal to transform into a lich was Mannimarco, a powerful Altmer necromancer and Immortality Seeker. By being the first, he naturally paved the way for others to follow in the same path.
  • Monsters Everywhere: Played straight throughout the series, where it is a staple of gameplay. Simply attempting to travel from one town to the next will see you leaving a trail of monster (or bandit, or necromancer, or vampire, or...) corpses along the way.
  • Monty Haul:
    • Generally averted throughout the series in terms of monetary quest rewards, leading to many asking Dude, Where's My Reward? in these cases. Typically, the amount of gold you are paid for completing a task is far too low to make it worthwhile on its own. There are countless examples of being sent off to a ruin or cave to slay a particular foe (and his dozen or so Mooks) only to be rewarded with a paltry sum of gold that doesn't even cover the potions, arrows, and weapon/armor repairs you used in the process. Luckily, whoever it was you were killing usually has enough loot on their bodies and in their lair to sell and still come out ahead.
    • Played straight by quests that offer artifact level items as rewards. These are typically high end faction questlines and Daedric quests, and the items themselves are typically some of the very best available in the game.
    • These are extremely popular in the series' massive Game Modding community. Install a few of them for any given game and you'll quickly find yourself absolutely bombarded by god-level artifacts, abilities, companions, player houses, and even titles of nobility which quickly destroy any semblance of balance.
  • Monumental Theft: Rajhin, the legendary Khajiiti Impossible Thief, is credited with stealing the Bosmeri "migrating city" of Falinesti. It remained missing for several years before mysteriously returning on its own.
  • Morality Chain: Clavicus Vile is the Daedric Prince of Wishes and Deals. While he always fulfills his end of whatever deal he makes, he typically does so in a way that the deal maker will regret. Vile is usually accompanied by Barbas, his external conscience who typically takes the form of a Big, Friendly Dog. Barbas will often try to talk mortals out of Vile's deals, much to Vile's annoyance. At times when Vile manages to separate himself from Barbas, he becomes much more malevolent in his deal making, but as Barbas possesses a portion of Vile's power, Vile is left weakened in these situations as well.
  • Mood-Swinger:
    Sheogorath: "Since you're standing here, I assume you've succeeded. Or you're terribly confused. OR REALLY LACKING IN GOOD JUDGMENT!"
    • In the backstory, this was a trait of Emperor Pelagius the Mad. He would swing to both extremes, going from fully manic to attempting suicide in virtually no time at all. Once his madness became too publicly apparent, he was removed from the throne and institutionalized.
  • Mooks:
    • While the series offers a wide variety of enemy types who fill a multitude of roles and niches, the humble Goblin race most frequently fills this role. While there are some historical aversions, Goblins are typically Always Chaotic Evil semi-intelligent humanoids who live in primitive tribal groups and are frequently aggressive and violent toward other races/species. In every main series' game to date (except for Skyrim, where the Morlock-like Falmer fill this role), Goblins can be found as low-to-mid-level Mook enemies in countless areas throughout the games.note  Historically, in the series' lore, there also existed 8-foot tall Goblins as Giant Mooks while the standard Goblins have been used by the Altmer and the Tsaesci of Akavir as Cannon Fodder Slave Mooks. Some Goblins in-game can be found having cobbled together (or salvaged) heavier armors, making them into more threatening Heavily Armored Mooks.
    • Many of the species of lesser Daedra are aligned to serve one or several of the Daedric Princes, and they all may be summoned to Mundus in the service of mortal conjurers. For example, the Dremora serve Mehrunes Dagon as his Legions of Hell. The more powerful lesser Daedra may approach Elite Mook status.
  • Morality Chain: Clavicus Vile is the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes. While he always fulfills his end of whatever deal he makes, he typically does so in a way that the deal maker will regret. Vile is usually accompanied by Barbas, his external conscience who typically takes the form of a Big, Friendly Dog. Barbas will often try to talk mortals out of Vile's deals, much to Vile's annoyance. Following the events of Vile's quest in Oblivion, Vile manages to separate himself from Barbas. He becomes much more malevolent in his deal making, but as Barbas possesses a portion of Vile's power, Vile is left weakened and trapped within a single shrine high in the remote mountains of Skyrim. Vile's Skyrim quest rectifies this.
  • Morality Pet: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, has one in Haskill, his Only Sane Man/Servile Snarker chamberlain. Given that Haskill's origins are unknown, and Haskill himself claims to have been in the service of Sheogorath "since the beginning", this has led to the theory that Haskill is an external part of Sheogorath, similar to what Barbas is to Clavicus Vile. Haskill reigns in Sheogorath's madness just enough to keep him and the Shivering Isles functional.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: series as a whole fits. In each game, individual quests, quest lines, and characters can have moralities all over the various scales. Instances of Black and White, Gray and Grey, and Black and Gray can be found within almost every single game in the series. Naturally, the choices of the player determine where on the scale the Player Character falls. This can range from the purest Knight in Shining Armor to a thieving, murdering psychopath. The main quests of each game (and major expansions) are typically such that, even if you are playing as an "evil" character, you won't be able to continue that lifestyle unless the Big Bad (who more often than not is seeking to bring about The End of the World as We Know It) is defeated, giving a player character of any morality a good reason to defeat said villain.
  • Mordor:
    • Central Vvardenfell island in Morrowind. First there's the Ashlands and Molag Amur, which are covered in cursed infertile ash all the time and populated by killer dinosaurs and cliff racers. Even there, though, the Ashlanders manage to get by thanks to their sheer badassery. Then there's the Great Scathes within Molag Amur, which are full of cliff racers and nearly impassable thanks to the jagged terrain and open rivers of lava. But at the center of it all is the Mordor to end all Mordors, Red Mountain. It is covered in treacherous ruins populated by psychopathic mutants, cliff racers, and demons. The air is constantly thickened by the Blight, a cloud of red dust that causes horrific diseases and impedes movement. Oh, and it is an active volcano. (The "Red Year" in the early 4th Era saw a Colony Drop strike Morrowind, causing Red Mountain to erupt and destroy a large swath of Morrowind, mainland included, around it.)
    • The Deadlands, the Daedric plane of Mehrunes Dagon, Daedric Prince of Destruction. Crossing over with Fire and Brimstone Hell, the Deadlands is a bleak and barren realm, containing wastelands of blackened rock, seas of lava, and partially destroyed structures. In a clever homage to the original Mordor, despite the flowing lava all over the place, mortals who visit are said to feel an "unearthly chill" within the realm.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: This is a trait of the Aureals (aka Golden Saints) and Mazken (aka Dark Seducers), two forms of lesser Daedra in service to Sheogorath. Each has a matriarchal, militaristic society, and, for the Aureal as race, they are haughty, arrogant, quick to anger, and cruel in their punishment. The females are significantly more powerful than the males.
  • More Predators Than Prey: Played straight throughout much of the series until Skyrim, which adds a more realistic amount of prey animals (deer, elk, wild goats, rabbits, etc.) to the game world.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: This is a trait of Daedroths, a crocodilian form of lesser Daedra. They have multiple rows of razor sharp teeth.
  • The Morlocks: The Falmer of Skyrim are an almost perfect example of Morlocks. Thousands of years ago, they were a race of Mer with a territory covering Skyrim and Solstheim, and who had a civilization that rivaled even the Altmer. However, they would clash with the Atmorans, ancestors of the Nords, who were coming over to Skyrim in droves from the freezing-over continent of Atmora. Ysgramor, an Atmoran leader, would rally 500 of Atmora's greatest warriors and lead them on a crusade to exterminate the Falmer. He almost succeeded, driving the survivors to beg for help from their Dwemer cousins. The Dwemer agreed to take them in, but forced them to eat toxic fungi that rendered them blind and decayed their minds, and which their physiology became dependent upon to survive. The Dwemer used them as slave labor and test subjects in their experiments. (For this reason, Knight-Paladin Gelebor, the last uncorrupted Snow Elf, refers to them as "The Betrayed.") Later, the Dwemer did something which caused their entire race to vanish from any known plane of existence in a single instance, leaving their Falmer slaves without masters in their underground advanced cities throughout Skyrim. Ever since, the Falmer have dwelt in these underground places. If they run across any surface dwellers (either people venturing into their lairs or one of their rare excursions aboveground) they will kill or capture and enslave them. They also are known to torture their captives, and feed them to their pet Chaurus, judging by the number of human remains in Chaurus pens. If Alftand is anything to go by, they also skin surface dwellers and make leather from them. About the only Morlock trait they don't have confirmed is eating the surface dwellers...but sometimes, when you kill one, you find 'Human Flesh' in its inventory... and human remains in their refuse heaps... Perhaps the most disturbing sign of their degradation is the fact that their souls can be captured in white soul gems. A black soul gem is needed to capture the soul of a sentient being, while white soul gems can capture the (lesser) souls of beasts. The Falmer have fallen so far that their very souls have been affected. (And given the Dwemer's status as masterful enchanters, this was very likely intended as part of their corruption of the Falmer. It would basically give the Dwemer an ample source of batteries.)
  • Morph Weapon: Throughout the series, the "Bound Weapon" spell allows for this. Crossing over with Spectral Weapon Copy and Spontaneous Weapon Creation, the spell (classed under the Conjuration school) summons a temporary Daedric weapon for the caster.
  • Mortality Ensues: Stripping away an immortal being's immortality occurs at several points in the series, with varying results. Specific examples can be found by game on the trope page.
  • Motionless Makeover: With the addition of a physics engine to the series starting with Oblivion, it is possible to stack items onto a stationary NPC. This comic takes it to its logical extreme...
  • Mouth of Sauron: The Listener of the Dark Brotherhood serves in this role, being the de-factor leader of the Brotherhood. The Listener is the only person who can speak to the Night Mother, the unholy matron who chooses which contracts the Brotherhood will accept. Without a Listener, they can't receive any contracts the normal way, which forces them to rely on word-of-mouth to hear if anyone has performed the Black Sacrament (the ritual prayer for an assassination heard by the Night Mother and spoken to the Listener).
  • Mr. Exposition: Each game has at least one such character, and often times spreads this role throughout several different characters. Unusually for the trope, but in line with the series' preference for Unreliable Expositors and Unreliable Canon, they sometimes contradict one another, falsify information, or leave out certain details of the exposition in order to further their own ends. (Morrowind, for example, has an extreme case of this. Critical background details are given by different characters in "Rashomon"-Style, and, at the end, you still don't know what the actual truth is, though you can certainly rule a few things out by that point).
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Dibella, the Aedric Divine Goddess of Beauty, also represents the carnal and sexual aspects of love. She is almost always depicted as a beautiful and voluptuous female. In Daggerfall, she is actually topless.
    • Almalexia, one of the Dunmeri Tribunal, is one in her recurring appearances as well. She typically wears Stripperiffic attire crossed over with sheer Vapor Wear, in addition to being a Gold Skinned Redhead.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Happens at a couple of points in the series. Specific examples can be found on the trope page.
  • Mugging the Monster: Most games have at least one or two "highwayman" style encounters where a criminal will accost the Player Character along the road and demand payment. At lower levels, they can actually be a challenge to defeat. At higher levels, it very much becomes this trope, as a generic bandit attempts to mug a god/dragon slaying living legend who has almost single-handedly saved the world.
  • Muggle with a Degree in Magic:
    • Throughout the series, both Alchemy and Enchanting are classed as magical skills. However, becoming an expert in either does not require casting even a single spell. (Enchanting does require that you at least know the spell in order to imbue it into an item, but you don't have to be able to cast it.) Still, numerous characters in the series have been able to rise to the highest ranks of the Mages Guild and College of Winterhold thanks to their expertise in these non-directly-magical skills.
    • Starting with Oblivion and carried into Skyrim, skill requirements to advance through factions were dropped. This means a Player Character who doesn't even know a single spell can brute force their way into the position of Archmage simply by completing the faction questline. Skyrim does at least have one portion where demonstrating that you can cast a spell is required, but the example spells are the most basic ones in the game and even then, this can be bypassed if you advance far enough through the main questline in order to demonstrate the Thu'um instead. (Which is a more primal and divine type of magic than the Functional Magic studied by the College).
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous:
    • Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, is typically depicted as a massive Big Red Devil humanoid with four arms, each often holding a different weapon. He has attempted the takeover of Nirn/Mundus multiple times throughout history, serving as either the direct Big Bad or the Man Behind the Man in three games in the series.
    • Mephala is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is "obscured to mortals", but who is associated with manipulation, lies, sex, and secrets. Some of her statues depict her with four arms.
    • Morwha, the Yokudan/Redguard aspect of Mara, the Aedric Divine Goddess of Love, is depicted with four arms so that she can "grab more husbands". Otherwise downplayed because she isn't particularly malevolent.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: Played straight in general throughout the series, and especially in the background lore. Tamriel alone, the continent where each of the games in the series has taken place to date, has multiple races of Men, Mer (Elves), and the Beast Races. Of them, 10 are playable, while some two dozen more appear or are mentioned in background lore, some of which are extinct. Literally all have distinct cultures (mostly a Culture Chop Suey of real world cultures), with those that get more screen time being much more fleshed out. For more information on the series' races and cultures, please see The Elder Scrolls - Races sub-pages.
  • Multi-Melee Master:
    • It is possible for the Player Character to be one of these throughout the series, as there are loads and loads of weapons to choose from. How much of a "master" you are depends on how skilled you are with said weapons, however. Unless you plan to invest a lot of time to practice using different weapon types or a lot of money for training your skills in those weapon types, it's recommended that you stick with one melee weapon type and become a master of that. In Oblivion, the skill system was revamped to include only "Blade" and "Blunt" weapon types. This means that you can become a "Blade" master by using a dagger a lot, then switch to a massive Claymore and instantly be a master with that too. After many criticisms, Skyrim moved back away from this system, instead having "One-Handed" and "Two-Handed" weapons classed together, with Perks that give you bonuses for using specific weapon types within those types (blade, axe, blunt, etc.) While you can still level up your One-Handed skill by using a sword, then switch to an axe and still be as effective, the axe will be less powerful if you haven't also taken the axe-related Perks.
    • In-universe, depending on the time period and the location, the Imperial Legion trains in numerous weapon types. Their most popular weapon is the Imperial Sword, though they've also trained their soldiers to use maces, polearms, and bows.
  • Multinational Team:
    • The Imperial Legion enjoys this as one of its strengths. While the Legion has mostly been made up of Boring, but Practical Imperial soldiers since its inception, they actively recruit the other races to gain the benefits from the diversity of skills they bring. To note:
      • The hardy Colovian Imperials initially made up bulk of the legions, while the cosmopolitan Nibenese Imperials made for the first Battlemages.
      • Nords have been a part of the Legion since the time of Alessia, who allied with the Nordic Empire during the Alessian Revolt. They tend to be used as heavy hitters, especially Berserkers, making for some of the finest warriors in Tamriel.
      • Upon joining the Empire, Bretons were favored for recruitment thanks to their inherent magical abilities. They have long served as Battlemages and Healers.
      • The Bosmer (Wood Elves) are revered for their skills as marksmen, and the Legion has used them as skirmishers.
      • Redguards, while highly disciplined Master Swordsmen, have fierce, independent spirits which make them rather ill-suited for standard Legion duty. However, they are instead used as fast and hard-hitting scouts.
      • After their failed invasion of Tamriel, Reman Cyrodiil accepted the defeated Akaviri forces into his own. Not only did they provide an immediate boost to his own forces, they left a lasting impact in terms of weapons and tactics, and inspired the the Blades.
      • Orcs were recruited heavily by the Legion during the Septim Dynasty. They were favored for their skill as Armorers and as heavily-armored Berserker shock troops.
  • Multi-Platform: Starting with Morrowind, which was the first major Western RPG in years to receive such a release. Being multi-platform helped get the series into the hands of a wider audience, making it a massive commercial hit and establishing it as one of the pillars of western gaming.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The case for numerous individuals and even entire races in the series' lore. Included are Talos/Tiber Septim, Vivec, the Tsaesci of Akavir, Giants, Vampires, and more. Due to length, details for each are available on the trope page.
  • Multiple Endings: To date in the series, Daggerfall is the only game with multiple possible endings to its main quest. Later games reveal that a Merging the Branches situation took place with the "Warp in the West", taking all of Daggerfall's possible endings as canon via a Cosmic Retcon, though, in Broad Strokes fashion, with none of the endings taking place to the same extent they would have individually - Over the course of three days, 44 city states became four, all still under the banner of the Empire. Mannimarco ascended as the God of Worms but also remained as the "mortal" King of Worms, who now leads a cult which worships the God version. The Underking was laid to rest. Finally, the Player Character died with the Numidium being rendered non-functional but thankfully not destroying Tamriel along with it.
  • Multiple Government Polity: The various Cyrodiilic Empires have traditionally allowed their provinces to run in a Downplayed version of this trope. Typically, when a province is captured by the Empire, a monarch (usually but not always receiving the title of "King") is appointed by the Emperor to rule the land in the name of the Empire. Often, these monarchs are members of the race native to the province in order to foster positive relations with the natives. One exception who plays the trope straight is Morrowind, homeland of the Dunmer. Protected for thousands of years by their guardian "God-Kings", the Tribunal, the Dunmer were able to resist all takeover attempts by the Empires of Men. However, in the 2nd Era, the Dunmer were blocked from "recharging" their divinity by their reformed ancient enemy, Dagoth Ur. With the legions of Tiber Septim threatening to invade, one of the Tribunal, Vivec, met with Septim and offered that Morrowind become a Voluntary Vassal in order to prevent undue suffering to the Dunmer people. Vivec also offered Septim the Numidium, a Humongous Mecha of Dwemer construction, in exchange for special privileges that the other provinces did not get. These included continued free worship of the Tribunal (although the Imperial Nine Divines religion has to be allowed as well), the continued practice of slavery (which was illegal throughout the Empire), and the continued rule of the Great Houses (although the Empire still appointed a Puppet King of Morrowind). The resulting Culture Clash can be most prominently seen during the events of Morrowind.
  • Multiple Persuasion Modes: Present but downplayed in the series starting with Daggerfall. Morrowind plays it straight before Oblivion shifts to a Persuasion Minigame instead. Skyrim removes this entirely, save for some skill-check style dialogue options.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Dragons, for whom their Language of Magic is so intrinsic, don't breathe fire so much as command fire into existence using the Thu'um. It is mentioned that when two dragons fight, they're really having an intense verbal debate. Essentially, they Invert the trope, making it Awesome Made Mundane.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • This is the legitimate purpose behind some spells, particularly those within the Alteration school of magic. A major recurring example is the use of the Telekinesis spell to quietly rob merchants or, from a meta-perspective, more easily organize items in your home due to the wonky physics engine in Oblivion and Skyrim.
    • Wulfharth Ash-King was the legendary ancient King of the Nords and noted Shezarrine who has died and come back to life at least three times. He was known to have a powerful Thu'um, which he used to accomplish his many great feats. On the more mundane level (or at least as mundane as something like the Thu'um can be), he once used it to "swallow a thundercloud" to protect his army from "catching cold".
  • Murder, Inc.: A considerable number of organizations may qualify, but two are most prominent. To note:
    • The Morag Tong is a guild of assassins officially sanctioned by the Dunmeri government. To put it lightly, the Dunmer Great Houses don't get along very well, and since open warring between the Great Houses would weaken the Dunmer overall, the Morag Tong was sanctioned as the solution. Whenever someone with a enough wealth to hire the Morag Tong wants someone dead, an "Honorable Writ of Execution" will be created for that person and a Tong assassin will be dispatched to kill them. They follow a strict code of honor and are highly professional in regards to their work. (Even if one of their agents could get away without getting caught following an assassination, they are still encouraged to turn themselves in and present their Honorable Writ of Execution to ensure that everything remains above board.) After aiding in the assassination of Emperor Reman Cyrodiil III at the end of the 1st Era, they were outlawed everywhere in Tamriel except for Morrowind.
    • The Dark Brotherhood is a fully criminal offshoot of the Morag Tong who operates throughout the rest of Tamriel. They are a much more Psycho for Hire group, doubling as a cult of Sithis. Despite this, they do still have rules, such as losing part of your paycheck for anybody else aside from the intended target dying in the mission area. They appear to very much dislike the wholesale slaughter of innocent people, but one unnoticed target or another they do seem to encourage as that is how you gain entry into the guild, just no mass murdering people for the hell of it. Also, the lower level leaders are very much sane in a professional way, and generally only care if you are doing your job right.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution:
    • In general in the series (at least from Morrowind onward), it is possible for an indiscriminate player to complete most quests that would otherwise require faction relations, persuasion checks, and/or specialized skills (like picking locks or pockets) by prying the quest MacGuffin out of someone's cold, dead hands. Justified as it prevents the game from being Unwinnable by Mistake if you manage to kill or bug out a vital quest chain NPC. In many of these cases (especially for factions like the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood), you generally don't receive as great of a reward if you veer off the quest rails and take the full-blown murder path.
    • Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes, always holds up his end of whatever deal is struck, but usually does so in a way that the deal-maker will regret. When he is at his most malevolent, usually because he has been separated from his external conscience, Barbas, he enters this territory, believing that most wishes can be granted by killing the wish-maker. Vampires asking for a cure for vampirism? Have a hero come in and slaughter them all. A man whose daughter has been turned into a werewolf? Give him an axe to put her down. Asking for peace in Skyrim? Do nothing and let the Dragons kill everyone. A village asking for immunity from the Knahaten Flu? Turn them undead.
  • The Muse: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, has creativity and the arts under his domain. According to legend, he gave mortals the gift of music after hearing a woman comment on the beauty of a songbird's song... by killing her and fashioning the first instruments out of her body parts.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual:
    • Each game since Morrowind has offered at least one of these, though two have been in an expansion (the Museum of Mournhold in Tribunal and the Museum of Oddities in The Shivering Isles). In several cases, they offer quests to help them find items and/or recover stolen items.
    • Numerous Game Mods for each game add these for the Player Character, crossing over with Super Hero Trophy Shelf.
  • Mushroom House: Common in the territories of the Dunmeri Great House Telvanni. Being a feudal Magocracy, Telvanni wizards reside in magically-grown giant mushrooms in which rooms and corridors are hollowed out, essentially forming giant fungal Mage Towers. The commoners live in smaller mushroom houses, the size of a cottage. Following the Red Year, Master Neloth relocated to Solstheim along with a sizable portion of the remaining Dunmer population and grew such a mushroom mage tower there.
  • Musical Spoiler: Starting with Morrowind, each game in the series switches to "battle music" whenever you aggro an enemy. This happens regardless of of whether you've actually spotted said enemy.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The religion of the Eight (later Nine) Divines was specifically created so that the eight most agreed-upon divine entities would be worshiped in the official religion of the new Empire of Tamriel. The main point of contention was Lorkhan, the deity who spurred the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. Lorkhan, as Shor and Shezarr to the Nords and proto-Imperials, respectively, is beloved as the driving force of creation, which freed the spirits from a prison of pre-creation unchanging stasis. Meanwhile, most races of Mer (Elves) despise Lorkhan, as they consider the stasis of pre-creation to be divine and his actions forced their immortal spirits to experience mortal loss and suffering. To keep the fledgling empire from falling apart due to religious infighting, Lorkhan was excluded from the Divines but acknowledged as the "Missing God".
  • My Greatest Failure: In the primary Creation Myth, this is the case for Auri-El, the Aldmeri eagle aspect of Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Aedric pantheon. In his only known moment of weakness, he agreed to help Lorkhan create Mundus (the mortal plane) in exchange for the privilege of being its king. However, Auri-El was disgusted with what they had created, and insisted that everything was permanently spoiled, and all they would be able to do would be to teach the elves to suffer with dignity. He went to war with and vanquished Lorkhan, then ascended to heaven in full observance of his followers so that they might learn the steps needed to escape the mortal plane.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Members of the Beast Races, Khajiit and Argonians, include hisses and growls in their combat vocalizations.
  • Myopic Architecture: Proper Lock Design is a recurring in-game book in the series. It points out that higher-quality locks aren't any good if the chest or door itself is easily broken. Putting this to the test yourself, however, isn't an option; while there are chests and doors placed pre-broken as part of the landscape, you can't ever break one no matter how hard you hit it.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: Like their Welkynd and Varla stones, the Ayleids possessed crystals which could release memories directly to the user. Overuse of these crystals was said to cause a "problem of capacity" for mortal minds.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
    • The ancient Ayleids of Cyrodiil split off from their Altmer cousins when the Aedra-worshiping Altmer banned worship of the Daedra. Unlike some other groups, such as the Chimer/Dunmer, the Ayleids worshiped some of the more traditionally malevolent Daedra, leading their civilization down some very dark paths. Some of the Ayleids refused to worship the Daedra, instead worshiping the Aedra, and these two sides eventually went to war. The Daedra-worshiping Ayleids were victorious, and the Aedra-worshiping Ayleids were forced to flee Cyrodiil. (The most famous of these groups were the Barsaebic Ayleids, who settled in Black Marsh.) One of the dark paths the Daedra-worshiping Ayleids went down was the enslavement and vile torture of the Nedes, human ancestors to most of the modern races of Men. Some of the Ayleids were disgusted by the treatment of the slaves by their brethren, and joined the slaves when they revolted. As a result, they were allowed to keep their lands as vassals of the newly-formed human Cyrodiilic Empire. (At least until, about a century later, the empire picked up an extremely anti-elven religion sect which killed or drove out the remaining Ayleids, leading to their extinction as a unique race.)
    • The Dwemer provide a few examples in the backstory as well:
      • The Rourken clan of Dwemer was so opposed to an alliance with the Chimer that they chose to self-exile themselves to Hammerfell. Their chieftain is said to have thrown the Volendrung Hammer across Tamriel and led his clan to "wherever the hammer fell", giving the region its name.
      • In the final days of their known existence, it's said that many Dwemer didn't agree with the general idea to unmake themselves and then reforge themselves into immortal godlike beings. Not because it was blasphemous or anything like that, just because they thought it would end poorly for every Dwemer on Nirn. Which it probably did.
    • In the 4th Era, there are plenty of Altmer who openly despise the Thalmor, the despotic State Sec ruling the re-formed Aldmeri Dominion. The Thalmor essentially play up the worst stereotypes of the Altmer overall. One group that gets hit hard with this by the Thalmor are the Psijic Order, a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel. The Order and the Thalmor have an extreme mutual hatred for one another. The second disappearance of Artaeum (the island home of the Psijics) in the 4th Era is believed to be directly related to the rise of Thalmor influence. The Thalmor come off as The Resenter, as the Order is an Aldmeri organization with immense magical knowledge but one that absolutely will not toe the Thalmor line or share that knowledge.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: Nirn's version is Atmora, the northernmost continent. In ancient times, it was home to the Atmorans, an ancient race of men with Barbarian Tribe and proto-Horny Vikings traits. Thousands of years prior to when the games in the main series take place, Atmora experienced what the "Frost Fall", a mysterious gradual cooling of Atmora which quickly rendered it inhabitable to intelligent life. Most of the Atmorans migrated south to northern Tamriel, settling in modern day Skyrim and interbreeding with Tamriel's native Nedic humans to create the modern Nords (and possibly all races of Men save the Redguards, though sources greatly conflict and are heavily biased). Reports from the 2nd and 3rd Eras indicate that Atmora is now completely frozen over, with no sign of intelligent life.
  • Mysterious Backer: According to the more "heretical" tales of the life of Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire, he himself was not responsible for many of the heroic deeds ascribed to him. Instead, he had a powerful secret ally known as the Underking. The Underking, believed to possibly be the ancient Nord hero and Shezarrine Wulfharth Ash-King (who had been "blasted to ash" by the Greybeards when they refused him as the "chosen one"), took the form of a great storm that could also apparently take the form of Septim, which allowed for Septim to appear to be (and lead and campaign) in two places at once. Imperial orthodox history, of course, denies this.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • 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. He first appeared in a vision to Alessia and later showed up in person to Alessia's camp, drenched in Ayleid blood. Nothing else about where he came from is really known, though there are hints that he might be a Cyborg the Divines plucked from the future, which would also help explain his madness.
    • The legendary Chimeri/Dunmeri hero Lord Indoril Nerevar. Very little is known of his early life and even then, there are conflicting sources. Vivec states that Nerevar was a mere merchant caravan guard before rising to become the leader of the Chimer people. Additionally, Ashlander tradition holds that he was not born in the land that would eventually become Morrowind, though does not specify where he was born. Even the year of Nerevar's birth is unknown, though had to have been prior to 1E 369 when he first appears in the historical record.
    • Rajhin, the legendary Khajiiti Impossible Thief, is another. He is credited with, among other things, stealing the Ring of Khajiiti off the arm of the Daedric Prince Mephala, stealing a tattoo off the neck of the sleeping Empress, and stealing the entire city of Falinesti. Understandably, most tales of Rajhin have reached the point of legend, which obscure the facts of his life. The place of his birth is known (Black Kiergo, Senchal, Elsweyr), but not the year. He was apparently already deceased prior to the events of the Planemeld in 2E 582, however, Empress Kintrya (from whom Rajhin stole a neck tattoo according to legend) began rule in 3E 48, hundreds of years later. With Khajiiti legend holding that Rajhin became a demigod, and given other examples in the series of how achieving godhood can alter the universe's timeline (Talos, the Tribunal, etc.), it could possibly explain some of the conflicting tales and timelines.
    • Very little is known about the Night Mother, a mysterious figure who has appeared in several games in the series as the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, and even much of that information conflicts with or is disputed by other sources. It is believed that she was once a mortal woman, but when she lived and died, and even what race she was, is not definitely known.
  • Mystical Plague:
    • The Thrassian Plague ravaged Tamriel in the 1st Era. Created by the "slug-men" Sload of Thras, the "coral kingdom" to the southwest of Tamriel, who are known to excel as necromancers and Evil Sorcerers. The Thrassian Plague killed more than half of Tamriel's population. In response, the nations of Tamriel formed the All-Flags Navy, which ravaged Thras, killed all of the Sload it could find, and finally sunk Thras beneath the sea. (The Sload survived, however, and would raise Thras to the surface once again.) Unsurprisingly, Peryite, the Daedric Prince of Pestilence and Tasks, is rumored to have been associated with the creation of the plague.
    • The Knahaten Flu ravaged Tamriel in the 2nd Era for a period of about 40 years. It is attributed to an Argonian shaman who created the plague by manipulating the spores of the Hist in retaliation for the awful treatment of his people by the other races. Other sources claim that it was a natural disease, but the general distrust of the Argonians throughout Tamriel combined with the fact that Argonians were immune to the disease made the "Argonians caused it" story more popular. The Flu is believed to have completely wiped out the Lilmothiit "Fox Folk" and the Kothringi silver-skinned menfolk, both formerly native to the Black Marsh.
  • Mythology Gag: M'aiq the Liar is the series' recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character. 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 the audience and isn't above above taking some at Bethesda itself. Some of his comments are regarding features present in previous games in the series which have been removed.
  • Mythopoeia: This is one of the more widely celebrated aspects of the series. There are several divergent mythologies, creation stories, and conflicting historical accounts of events, and of course All Myths Are True to at least some degree. Unlike many instances of the trope, this is presented as an actual in-universe force as well. The fabric of reality in the Elder Scrolls universe is malleable through various means of Reality Warping. Mortals can ascend to godhood and often perform Cosmic Retcons of their own pasts, which can bring together multiple timelines, regardless of conflicts. These and other divine events also tend to have Time Crashes as side-effects, which can further tamper with reality in various ways.


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