Follow TV Tropes

Following

The Elder Scrolls / Tropes S

Go To

Main Page | 0 - A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I - J | K - L | M | N - O | P - R | S | T - U | V - Z


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.)

Advertisement:


The Elder Scrolls - Tropes S

    open/close all folders 

    S 
  • Sacred Bow and Arrows: Auriel's Bow is a recurring artifact weapon throughout the series. It is said to have been wielded by Auriel (sometimes spelled Auri-El), the Golden Eagle God and Aldmeri aspect of Akatosh. Aldmeri legend holds that Auriel wielded it during the Dawn Era during the wars of the Ehlnofey against the forces of Lorkhan. When Trinimac, Auriel's champion, slew Lorkhan, it is said that Auriel tied Lorkhan's Heart to an arrow and fired it with the bow across the mortal world, landing in modern day Morrowind and forming Red Mountain around it. The details of Auriel's Bow vary in each game where it appears, with a full breakdown available on the trope page.
  • The Sacred Darkness:Nocturnal is the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night who is also associated with Thieves and Luck. Given the nature of the series' deities, she is essentially the embodiment of the night and darkness. The darkness that Nocturnal represents is treated as protective, as well as beautiful, welcoming, and awe-inspiring to those who appreciate it. However, Nocturnal is quick to withdraw her favor (and thus the protective qualities of darkness) if she is displeased, and those who appreciate the darkness more often than not tend to be thieves and criminals.
  • Sacred Scripture:
    • The Redguards of Hammerfell hold swords and swordsmanship as having great cultural value. Naturally, their most sacred text is a treatise on sword techniques. It is The Book of Circles, written by Frandar Hunding, a great ancient hero and spiritual leader of the Redguards. It is said to include "thirty-eight grips, seven hundred and fifty offensive and eighteen hundred defensive positions, and nearly nine thousand moves essential to sword mastery". Every household in Hammerfell contains an alcove above their hearth to store and display the book.
    • The Alessian Order was a rabidly anti-Elven religious sect which established a Theocracy that wielded nearly as much power as the Emperor at its height. Their sacred scripture was known as the Alessian Doctrines, 77 rules outlining the Order's principles. The nature of the Doctrines has been lost to history, but contemporary accounts describe them as banal, strict, and sometimes outright cruel. One known rule was that "All are guilty until they have proven themselves innocent."
    • Vivec, the Dunmeri Tribunal deity, penned his 36 Lessons books series to be one of these, at least outwardly. If taken at face value, they leave absolutely no doubt that Vivec is the god of the ES universe. Of course, knowing Vivec's propensity for Half Truths, Metaphorical Truths, and even outright Blatant Lies, this is not necessarily the case... If one looks past the heavy metaphor and allegory, they also reveal that Vivec has achieved CHIM and is aware of the true nature of the universe, essentially realizing that [[spoiler:he is a character in a video game and, through the book series, is addressing the player directly (as "the ruling king who only he can address as an equal").
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: The Greybeards of High Hrothgar, a monestary atop the Throat of the World, Tamriel's tallest mountain. The Greybeards are masters of the Thu'um, the draconic Language of Magic. The Greybeards have trained their voices to such an incredible extent that even a misplaced whisper could kill a person, thus they have to live in seclusion and rarely speak (with Arngeir, their human leader, being an exception). They play a major part in Skyrim, where they summon the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar for training in the Thu'um. When they speak in full voice to summon the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar, all of Skyrim hears it. Even when they greet the Dragonborn with a politely whispered "Dovahkiin", the whole mountain shakes from the force of it. It should be noted that this isn't just lore fluff, the four Greybeards are some of the highest level-NPCs in the game, with Arngeir sitting pretty at level 150.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Falmer (Snow Elves) were faced with one - extinction or transformation into Morlocks. At one time, the Falmer had a civilization rivaling that of the Altmer (High Elves) spanning across Skyrim and Solstheim. However, they came into conflict with the ancestors of the Nords who were coming over in droves from the freezing-over continent of Atmora. Ysgramor, one of the Atmoran leaders, rallied an army of 500 of Atmora's greatest warriors and led them on a purge of the Falmer. Facing extinction, the surviving Falmer turned to their Dwemer cousins for shelter. The Dwemer accepted the Falmer, under the condition that the Falmer must consume toxic fungi that would blind them and then serve as slaves to the Dwemer.
  • Saintly Church: Throughout the series, the Temples of the Eight (later Nine) Divines are portrayed as uniformly benevolent. They are dedicated to the Aedric deities who sacrificed large portions of their divine power in order to create Mundus, the mortal plane. According to some interpretations of the myth, the Divines sacrificed so much power that they actually are dead, but "dream that they are alive" and can still influence events on Mundus through the faith of their followers. Worship of the Divines has been the official religion of the various Cyrodiilic Empires of Tamriel since the foundation of the first (where it was adopted as part of the Bargain with Heaven struck with the Aedra which allowed the First Empire to form). Their benevolence is in sharp contrast to the typically evil (or at least ill-intentioned) Daedric cults (though the Daedra themselves operate on a very Blue and Orange Morality) and Corrupt Churches like the Tribunal Temple.
  • Samurai:
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: The Tsaesci are supposedly a race of Snake People native to the continent of Akavir, far across the ocean to the east of Tamriel (the continent on which every game in the series has taken place to date). The Tsaesci have something of a Multiple-Choice Past, with some sources stating that they are snake-like right down to having no legs and slithering, while others state that they are men little different from those in Tamriel. In either case, the Tsaesci have been said to "devour" other sapient races, including the Red Dragons and "Men of Akavir". Once again, sources conflict as to whether "devour" means that the Tsaesci literally consumed these races, or if it is a colorful term for enslavement and cultural absorption. Unless/until they actually show up in-game, we may never know.
  • Sapient Fur Trade:
    • There exists a black market trade in Khajiit furs. One of In-Universe Books is titled Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader, written by a Khajiit who trades in the fur of his own kind.
    • Background lore indicates that the Dreugh, an aquatic race of humanoid octopi, were once highly intelligent, able to speak, and capable of using magic. It is said that they even ruled the world (or a previous world that was destroyed and made into the current world) during the earliest era following creation. While their intelligence is said to have devolved over time, they are still considered a sapient species. That doesn't stop hunters (primarily the Dunmer) from killing them for their leathery hides (which can be forged into quality weapons and armor) and wax (a valuable ingredient in alchemy).
    • Likewise, Minotaurs possess enough intelligence to craft rudimentary weapons and armor, and are known to live in social "clan" societies. They may even be Half Human Hybrids (by way of a non-malicious Monster Progenitor) and the second Emperor of the Alessian Empire was Belharza, said to be the first Minotaur and son of St. Alessia (from her Divine Date coupling with Morihaus, the Aedric demi-god "winged man-bull".) However, Minotaurs are still valued by hunters for their horns (which are prestigious hunting prizes and have valuable alchemical properties) as well as Oxblood Fungal Spores (which are used by blacksmiths and are only known to grow on Minotaurs). They are also often captured alive and used as a common opponent in gladiatorial arenas throughout Tamriel.
  • Sapient Steed:
    • Morihaus, an Aedric demi-god who took the form a "winged man-bull", appeared as an answered prayer of St. Alessia (as part of her Bargain with Heaven) to aid her armies in battle against the Ayleids. It is said that Alessia rode and flew atop him.
    • The Senche and Senche-raht sub-species of Khajiit can be as tall as two men and weigh as much as four tons. They are built like apes and move as quadrupeds, and will allow their kinsmen to use them as steeds in times of war. This has led to Imperial soldiers who have faced them in battle giving them the nickname 'battlecats.'
  • Satanic Archetype:
    • The Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, aka "The King of Rape", Molag Bal. While most of the Daedric Princes tend to be Jerkass Gods who have Blue and Orange Morality when compared to mortals and display a mix of positive and negative qualities; Molag Bal stands out as the Prince who has most consistently been portrayed as unquestionably evil and lacking redeeming traits. He claims domination and enslavement within his spheres of influence, and spends most of his time tempting mortals into wickedness so they will spread strife through the world in his name, then claiming their souls after death. While in most games you see him only in shrines, in Daggerfall he looks like a big, green devil, while in Online he looks like this.
    • Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, actually subverts it. Despite his Big Red Devil appearance, Legions of Hell style servants, Fire and Brimstone Hell plane of Oblivion, and being the record holder in the series for most attempts to Take Over the World (so he can then destroy it), Dagon actually has some redeeming qualities, unlike Molag Bal. While destruction is his modus operandi, his sphere also includes concepts like ambition, change, and revolutionnote  that a functioning world requires to operate. Essentially, he can be thought of as no more "evil" than a force of nature like an earthquake or a flood.
    • Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god of the Mundus (mortal realm), is this, but only in the religions of the races of Mer (elves), primarily the old Aldmer and current Altmer. Their religious beliefs state that, before the creation of the mortal world, they were all immortal spirits in the pre-creation universe. Creation was then a malevolent act which robbed them of their divinity and forced them into "a mortal prison", where they experience death and suffering. To them, he is "the most unholy of all higher powers". The other spirits who he "tricked" into aiding him in creation lost their Complete Immortality and "killed" him as punishment, tearing out his "heart" (divine center) and casting it down into the world he created. However, he's seen by most of the races of Men as their patron deity and is known to favor them, especially through his mortal incarnations, like Eternal Heros Pelinal Whitestrake and Wulfharth Ash-King, who often directly resulted strengthening the presence of men at the cost of elves who oppressed them.
    • Sanguine, Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism, qualifies to a lesser extent. He "prefers to drag mortals down to sinful lifestyles by means of temptation and humiliation". Basically, Satan if he were a total troll.
  • Satan is Good:
    • In the series' primary Creation Myth, this is the case for Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god. To most of the races of Mer (Elves), especially the ancient Aldmer and current Altmer, Lorkhan is a Satanic figure. Their religious beliefs state that, before the creation of the mortal world, they were all immortal spirits in the pre-creation universe. Creation was then a malevolent act which robbed them of their divinity and forced them into "a mortal prison", where they experience death and suffering. To them, he is "the most unholy of all higher powers". The other spirits who he "tricked" into aiding him in creation (the Aedra) lost their Complete Immortality and "killed" him as punishment, tearing out his "heart" (divine center) and casting it down into the world he created. However, to most of the races of Men (especially Nords and Imperials), Lorkhan (known alternatively as Shor, Shezarr, Sep, etc.) is the [[HumansAreSpecial champion of mankind who freed their spirits from the unchanging stasis of pre-creation. Prior to the formation of the Alessian Empire in the 1st Era, most races of Men followed the Nordic pantheon, which treated Lorkhan (under the name Shor) as their Top God and most beloved benefactor. The Elves, on the other hand, hated Lorkhan to the point that worship of him was out of the question. Even after Alessia conquered the Ayleids, her empire was threatened to be torn apart due to religious in-fighting. Her solution was to group the most important Aedra into the Eight Divines, with Lorkhan only partially acknowledged as the "Missing Ninth God". This appeased both the Men and Mer within her empire.
    • This also applies to some of the less outright malevolent Daedric Princes. Unlike the Aedra, who made sacrifices during creation, the Daedra made no sacrifices and thus remain truly immortal. The Daedric Princes are an extremely varied group, with some being almost exclusively malevolent toward mortals (Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal), some generally being more benevolent toward mortals (but not always "nice", such as Azura and Merida), some varying wildly with the Prince's motivations beyond mortal understanding (Hermaeus Mora, Boethiah), and some who toy with mortals simply to amuse themselves (Sheogorath, Sanguine). Like Lorkhan, the worship of the Daedric Princes varies in the religions of different races. For example, Azura is a major deity in the religions of the Dunmer and the Khajiit. Similarly, Malacath is despised by most races, but is considered the patron deity of the Orcs (Orsimer).
  • The Savage South:
    • Tamriel's two southern-most mainland regions, Elsweyr and Black Marsh, both qualify. To note:
      • Elsweyr is a massive desert with some tropical jungles at the borders, home to the Khajiit who have a not-undeserved reputation for stealing everything that isn't well-guarded. They are considered one of Tamriel's prime examples of a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass race, and even the fascistic Aldmeri Dominion preferred to get Elsweyr to join diplomatically as a vassal rather than via conquest.
      • Black Marsh (aka Argonia) is full of diseases, poisonous life forms, sentient trees, man-eating plants, and vicious wildlife. It is home to the Argonians, who are resistant to the aforementioned diseases and toxins, and who worship said sentient trees (known as the Hist). Even Tiber Septim didn't bother conquering Black Marsh completely for his Empire, just capturing a few border towns (where non-Argonians could actually live) and calling it a win. (The Argonians apparently didn't care enough to raise any serious objections.) When it was being invaded by the forces of Oblivion during the Oblivion Crisis, the Argonians fought back with such ferocity that the Oblivion Gates had to be closed there as the Argonians were invading Oblivion.
    • To the south of Tamriel lie two archipelagos: the "coral kingdom" of Thras and the "jungle island-continent" of Pyandonea, both of which also qualify. To note:
      • Thras is home to the Sload, "slug-men" who famously practice necromancy while having a Lack of Empathy and utter ruthlessness as their racial hats. They've long been at war with the Altmer (High Elves) ever since their ancestors came to Tamriel, and their most infamous interaction with Tamriel was to unleash the Thrassian Plague, which decimated Tamriel's population. (In revenge, the All-Flags Navy was formed from the navies of most Tamriellic nations and they sank Thras beneath the sea. It would, however, rise again.)
      • Pyandonea is home to the Maormer, or Sea Elves, who are also long-time enemies of the Altmer. They have "chameleon skin" which allows them to "disappear by walking into the shade of a single tree." They are led by an "undying wizard king" named Orgnum, and practice a powerful "snake magic" that allows them to control sea beasts. After thousands of years of raiding the coasts of southern Tamriel, especially the Summerset Isles (homeland of the Altmer), they brought a massive fleet with the intent to conquer. However, it was swallowed whole when the Psijic Order created a magical storm, leaving the Maormer so devastated that it is said they will never again be able to serious threaten Tamriel.
  • Save Scumming: The series has the in-universe concept of "CHIM", essentially an ascended state where one becomes aware of the nature of Anu's Dream but exists as one with it and maintains a sense of individuality. Dunmeri Tribunal deity Vivec claims to have achieved this state, and (cryptically and metaphorically) explains in his Morrowind dialogue and his 36 Lessons series what this means - essentially, his "godhood" comes from realizing that he is in a video game and uses that knowledge to edit the situation around him. He makes vague references to things like the Player Character ("The ruling king who only he can address as an equal"), pausing the game, console commands, and the Construction Set Level Editor. His explanation on what happens if he should "die" also sounds, in line with this trope, a lot like reloading a saved game:
    Vivec: "When I die in the world of time, then I'm completely asleep. I'm very much aware that all I have to do is choose to wake. And I'm alive again. Many times I have very deliberately tried to wait patiently, a very long, long time before choosing to wake up. And no matter how long it feels like I wait, it always appears, when I wake up, that no time has passed at all."
  • Saving the World: The main quests of the games almost always have this present in their main quest. It may start out with something smaller scale, especially in the first few games of the series, but by the end, there is usually some force threatening to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, if not destroy it entirely. The later games, starting with Oblivion, reveal this as the motivation of the main quest right off the bat.
  • Scaled Up:
    • The Ka Po' Tun, an Akaviri race of "tiger folk", hold dragons in high reverence. Their ultimate goal is to become dragons, with their leader, Tosh Raka, being the first and (so far) only one known to succeed. He now rules them as a God-Emperor and, once their Arch-Enemy Tsaesci are eliminated, he intends to invade Tamriel. (The continent where all of the games to date in the series have taken place.)
    • To end the Oblivion Crisis, Martin Septim pulls a heroic version of this at the end of the main quest, becomingnote  the avatar of Akatosh, the draconic Chief Deity of the Nine Divines pantheon, in order to defeat the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon.
  • Scale of Scientific Sins: The Dwemer attempted to commit every sin on the list, with their efforts toward committing the final few leading to their disappearance. They committed Automation by blending Steam Punk technologies with magical enchantments to create automated machinery and Mecha-Mooks. They committed Potential Applications by devising ways to use their technology to accomplish things well beyond their Standard Fantasy Setting contemporaries including Weather Control Machines, Humongous Mechas, and even a device capable of reading the Elder Scrolls without the nasty side-effects. They dabbled into Genetic Engineering with their treatment of the Falmer, who the Dwemer twisted so much that it changed their very souls. Upon discovering the still-beating heart of the dead god Lorkhan deep beneath Red Mountain, the Dwemer attempted to commit sins 4-7 in one fell swoop by tapping into the power of the heart. They sought to both create a new god (Anumidium) as well as allow their entire race to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. However, something went wrong and caused the entire Dwemer race to blink out of existence. These behaviors obviously put them at odds with their much more religious neighbors in the Chimer.
  • Scary Amoral Religion: Many cults devoted to the worship of the Daedric Princes fall under this. While those who worship some of the more outright malevolent Daedric Princes (Molag Bal, Mehrunes Dagon, Boethiah, etc.) are closer to full blown Religion of Evil territory, the worship of the less outright malevolent but still rather amoral (from a mortal morality standpoint) Princes (Hircine, Mephala, Namira, etc.) falls here. This is exacerbated by the fact that the primary alternative religion is a full on Saintly Church who worships the much more benevolent (if less directly active) Nine Divines.
  • Scary Black Man: The Redguards of Hammerfell, as a race, are viewed as this by the other races of Tamriel. Dark-skinned with wiry-hair and athletic builds, they are one of Tamriel's Proud Warrior Races with a particular cultural affinity to swords and swordsmanship. After their ancient homeland of Yokuda sunk beneath the sea, the survivors sailed to Tamriel and chose to settle in the deserts of Hammerfell, one of Tamriel's most inhospitable environments. After only a few brutal months, Hammerfell was cleansed of any Men, Mer, or beast to make it safe for settlement. This even included Orcs and giant goblins. It took being weakened during a brutal Civil War for Tiber Septim to claim Hammerfell for his Rising Empire, and a Redguard uprising was considered one of the greatest threats to the Septim Empire for centuries after. Later, in the 4th Era, as part of the White-Gold Concordat to end the Great War between the Vestigial Third Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, the Empire ceded vast tracks of land in Hammerfell to the Dominion. The Redguards refused to abandon the land and declared independence from the Empire. Despite standing completely on their own, the Redguards of Hammerfell successfully repulsed the Dominion. Now, they are considered one of the only groups who could stand up to another full-blown Dominion assault.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The series has the Thalmor, a A Nazi by Any Other Name extremist religious sect of the Altmer. In the 200 year Time Skip between the Oblivion Crisis and Skyrim, the Thalmor have seized control of the Altmeri government, destabilized the declining Tamriellic Empire, seceded from the Empire, annexed neighboring Valenwood (homeland of the Bosmer), reformed the Aldmeri Dominion of old, and started the Great War with the Empire. About thirty years before Skyrim begins, the Dominion invaded Cyrodiil (the homeland of the Empire) and sacked the Imperial City (though they were eventually repulsed by a Legion counterattack). They settled for a (heavily favorable) peace treaty, the White-Gold Concordat, which includes a ban on Talos worship. Talos is perhaps the most popular deity in the Empire, especially to the Nords of Skyrim. It also gives the Thalmor the right to enforce the ban anywhere in the Empire, which they do with wandering Justicars given free reign to arrest/eliminate Talos worshipers wherever they are found, as well as any other undesirables (Altmer/Bosmer dissidents who have fled to the Empire to escape the Thalmor, surviving Blades, and really anyone else the Thalmor desire). This ban, along with the general Thalmor presence and oppression, led directly to the Skyrim Civil War.
  • Scary Impractical Armor:
    • Daedric armor typically qualifies throughout the series. It is red and black (forged from ebony which has been imbued with Daedric souls), generally quite spiky, and is almost always the heaviest armor available in each game. Other than the weight, the "impractical" aspects ultimately end up meaning very little in terms of gameplay.
    • Several of the native Dunmeri armor styles (Glass, Bonemold, Dreugh, Indoril) generally play the trope straight when they appear, with each having unnecessary spikes and giant shoulders.
  • Scary Librarian: Apocrypha, the realm of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, takes the form of an Eldritch, infinite Great Big Library of Everything, said to contain all knowledge in the form of tomes. Unlike the other Daedric Princes, who typically take humanoid forms when dealing with mortals, Mora prefers a truly Eldritch Abomination form of a mass of eyes, tentacles, and claws. While not an inherently malevolent entity, Mora has been known to commit unspeakable acts in the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Scary Teeth: The Bosmer within their homeland of Valenwood are bound by the Green Pact, a deal their ancestors struck with the forest's patron deity promising to never harm the plant life within. As a result, they live on an almost exclusively carnivorous diet, including other sentient races under certain circumstances. As a result, some of the "less civilized" Bosmer who still live deep within the forests have been known to sharpen their teeth into points.
  • Scavenged Punk: This is a common trait of Goblins. They have been known to salvage weapons, armor, and other items created by the other races for their own use. Likewise, the goblin-like Rieklings of Solstheim are known to collect detritus of the civilized races and set it up for apparent worship.
  • Scenery Porn: A staple of the series following its 3D Leap with Morrowind. Each game tends to have some of the best scenery graphics by the standards of when it was released, and each new one significantly ups the ante from the previous. The modding community further contributes with their own graphics upgrades.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • The advanced Magitek/Steam Punk technology of the Dwemer creates a serious disparity with the other races of Tamriel, who are closer to a medieval level of technological advancement. The Dwemer bent the laws of physics and nature to create Ragnarok-Proofed underground cities, Mecha-Mooks, Eternal Engines, Humongous Mecha, Weather Control Machines, and even a device capable of safely reading an Elder Scroll. One of Marobar Sul's "Ancient Tales of the Dwemer" claims that the Dwemer invented their famous automatons, and perfected them as weapons of war, before they had the idea to dress their flesh-and-blood soldiers in platemail armor. (The Publisher's Note says that this was possibly a misunderstanding by the Chimer, who wouldn't have been used to seeing full platemail armor as it was rare among the races of Mer, and may have mistaken armored Dwemer soldiers for machines all the long.)
    • Dunmeri Tribunal deity Sotha Sil lives in a Clockwork City of his own creation where he studies 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.
    • It is strongly implied that Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary Berserker/crusader who led the Alessian forces against the Ayleid empire, was actually a time-traveling, divinely-constructed cyborg warrior and possibly the human form of the dead creator god, known as a Shezarrine. He wore full plate mail armor at a time when only the Dwemer could construct it and had abilities far beyond those of most mortals. Needless to say, a divine war-cyborg from the future is seriously incongruous for an early medieval-era setting, and the devastation he wrought upon the Ayleids was as extreme as one would expect from a being in such a situation.
    • The Loose Canon KINMUNE, a story by former developer/writer Michael Kirkbride, features an AI construct whose primary purpose was to be remotely piloted by miners for a magical drug getting sent back in time to ancient history, going insane due to being severed from the network she was attached to, having the residual personalities from her last operators in her, and becoming an important oracle in Elder Scrolls history.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Pops up at least a few times in each game where a valuable treasure is seemingly left out in the open and unguarded. However, attempting to grab it reveals that it is cursed (summoning a hostile ghost or lesser Daedra) or you fall through a trap door as you move near it.
    • Very high places. Given the series' propensity toward Scenery Porn, the view is usually fantastic. You can indeed leap off of them if you choose, but all you achieve is a ragdoll death at the bottom.
  • Schrödinger's Question: Common, though Downplayed in a few cases, during character generation throughout the series. In each game, you get to choose your character's race, sex, birthsign (except Skyrim), and then get to choose a class by picking from a list, taking a Player Personality Quiz, or creating a custom class (again, except for Skyrim). Depending on your choices, some aspects of the game world change to match what you have chosen. Specific examples by game are broken down on the trope page.
  • Scotireland: Sheogorath (in his voiced appearances) typically speaks with an Irish accent when calm and a Scottish accent when excited. Further, he's voiced by an American doing an impression of Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Weirdly fitting, as he is the Mad God, afterall...
  • Screwball Serum: The most popular means of becoming a lich is to drink a potion made with numerous rare and powerful magical ingredients. Some of the rumored ingredients in the potion include the tongue of a dragon, blood-tainted herbs, Akaviri poison, dust from saints, sheaves of human skin... The result is a transformation into an extremely magically powerful undead wizard.
  • Screw Destiny: The series' lore has the concept of "heroes", individuals with a special fate and the ability to rule their own destiny, often being capable of growing far more powerful than other mortals. These heroes are tied to the prophecies of the Elder Scrolls themselves, but are not bound by them. Naturally, the Player Character in each game in the series is considered to be such a "hero", as are many of the Long Dead Badasses mentioned in the lengthy backstory.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Throughout the series, the Order of the Black Worm, a secretive Magical Society/Necrocracy founded by the legendary/infamous Lich/Necromancer Mannimarco that is dedicated to the study of The Dark Arts, has long been able to forge connections with people in positions of power. Empress Clivia Tharn allowed the Order to practice freely in Cyrodiil during the Planemeld, and the Order forged connections with Lord K'avar and Princess Morgiah leading up to the Warp in the West. When this strategy has failed, the Order has simply resorted to bribery or threats instead.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • Throughout the series, as long as you have the gold necessary to pay the fine, you can commit crimes to your heart's content (including outright murder) and walk away completely free after paying the fine. You can literally steal something from a shop, murder the shopkeeper, murder the first guard who comes to arrest you, take a nap in the shopkeeper's bed, turn yourself in to a different guard, pay the fine (around 2080 gold for two assaults and two murders, plus whatever the item you stole was worth), and then walk away as if nothing happened. You just have to be careful to keep your bounty from exceeding 5000 gold. At that point, you'll be marked as "kill on sight" by all guards in the game. The only way out of it at that point is to pay the Thieves' Guild to have your bounty erased (which involves joining them and may require advancing a few times in their ranks depending on the game). This is possibly somewhat justified according a bit of random dialogue in Morrowind, as, per Imperial law, the fines go to the families of the victims.
    • In a historical example, Emperor Pelagius II inherited an empire devastated by war and famine, and almost completely broke. To solve the issue, he dismissed all of the senior leaders of the Imperial government including the Elder Council, and only allowed them to have their jobs back if they payed a steep fee. In the short term, this worked to fill the Empire's coffers, but in the long term, it cost him many advisors who were "rich in wisdom, but poor in gold." He would later be assassinated by a vengeful former council member.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • As part of the series' primary Creation Myth, Lorkhan, one of the et'Ada ("original spirits"), convinced/tricked some of his fellow et'Ada to use their power to create Mundus, the mortal realm. These et'Ada, who would become known as the Aedra ("our ancestors" in Old Aldmeris), sacrificed a large portion of their divine power to do so. Some, when they realized how much the creation of Mundus was taking out of them, attempted to flee and many died in the process. Only Magnus and his followers (the Magna-Ge or "star orphans") were actually successful in fleeing to Aetherius, the realm of magic, where they were more or less safe.
    • Eight of the Aedra, who would come to be worshiped as the Eight Divines, answered the prayers of St. Alessia when she prayed for aid against the Daedra-worshiping Ayleids who had enslaved and were torturing early mankind. The Divines sent her a divine champion, Pelinal Whitestrake, a berserker with an intense hatred of all elves. However, the Divines nearly abandoned Mundus in response to one of Whitestrake's genocidal campaigns. A fit of berserk fury saw him damage the very lands themselves, leading to the Divines almost leaving the world in disgust. Alessia was able to placate them into staying, however.
    • This is a series' Standard Status Effect, variously referred to as "Demoralize" or "Fear". It comes as a spell, an enchantment, and a poison effect, each of which will make an afflicted enemy flee in combat.
  • Screw You, Elves!: There is a ton of antipathy between the the races of Mer (Elves) and the races of Men throughout the series and in the backstory. In fact, much of Tamriellic history can be summed up as "Elves and Men fighting," with "Men" winning more often than not, leading to this trope. To note:
    • The backstory provides numerous examples of massive conflicts between the races of Men and Elves. The earliest such conflict took place in the 1st Era between the Atmorans (ancestors of the Nords) and the Falmer (Snow Elves) in Skyrim. An event known as the "Night of Tears" (which each side blames the other for) saw the Falmer slaughter and burn the Atmoran/Nord city of Saarthal. In revenge, Ysgramor recruited an army of 500 Atmorans and invaded Skyrim, nearly driving the Falmer to extinction.
    • The Alessian Revolt, later in the 1st Era, was an uprising of Cyrodiil's native human population which had been enslaved and brutally tortured by the Ayleids (Wild Elves). With her freed slave army, the support of the Nordic Empire, several rebel Ayleid lords, and a few of the gods themselves, St. Alessia drove the Ayleids into virtual extinction. She would become the founder of the first empire of men in Cyrodiil in the process. Alessia's champion, the divine warrior Pelinal Whitestrake, was perhaps the living embodiment of this trope. He was sent by the Divines to answer a prayer from Alessia. Decked out in a full suit of platemail armor (which only the Dwemer could craft at the time), he was a bloodthirsty (specifically Elf blood) Berserker of the highest order. He first wandered into Alessia's camp drenched in Ayleid blood and would fly into such Berserker Rages that he permanently damaged the lands themselves while fighting Ayleids. Countless scores of Ayleids fell in his wake, to the point where the Divines had to send in rains to cleanse Ayleids forts and villages of Ayleids blood before they could be used by Alessia's forces, and he even defeated (but could not kill) the immortal Ayleid leader, Umaril the Unfeathered, before he was cut into pieces by Umaril's servants. (In Oblivion's Knights of the Nine expansion, the Player Character is Pelinal Reborn, seeking to defeat a resurrected and vengence-filled Umaril.)
    • The Battle of Red Mountain in the 1st Era was a rare victory for the elves. After centuries of domination and expansion out of Skyrim, the Nord army, led by the Tongues (masters of the Thu'um), was annihilated at Red Mountain in Morrowind by a coalition of Dwemer and Chimer forces. This marked the farthest expanse of the Nordic Empire and led to a drop-off in the use of the Thu'um as a weapon after Jurgen Windcaller, one of the defeated Tongues, created the Way of the Voice to use the Thu'um only to honor the gods. The victory would only be a temporary one however, as the Dwemer and Chimer would split apart due to significant religious conflicts, with the entire Dwemer race disappearing without a trace and the Chimer becoming cursed into the modern Dunmer.
    • The Tiber Wars were a series of wars fought in the late 2nd Era as part of Tiber Septim's campaign to conquer all of Tamriel. Septim had conquered all but Morrowind (protected by their Physical Gods and the Summerset Isles (protected by their powerful magics), the only two provinces the last empire out of Cyrodiil, led by the Reman Dynasty, had failed to conquer. Unknown to Septim, the Dunmer demi-gods of Morrowind, known as the Tribunal, had been cut off from their divine power source by their ancient enemy, Dagoth Ur. Septim's legions easily sacked Mournhold, the capital of Morrowind. Without their gods to protect them, the rest of Morrowind would have been devastated in a protracted war with Septim's legions. Knowing this, Vivec, one of these gods, met with Septim and forged an Armistice. Morrowind would join the empire as a Voluntary Vassal, sparing his people from war. In addition, Vivec offered the Dwemer-crafted Reality Warping Humongous Mecha - The Numidium - to Septim in exchange for special privileges for Morrowind. (Specifically, continued Great House rule, free worship of the Tribunal, and the right to continue practicing slavery which was outlawed elsewhere in the empire.) Septim then used the Numidium to Curb Stomp the Altmer of the Summerset Isles (devastating their army and sacking their capital in less than hour), bringing them under the rule of men for the first time in history.
    • The Argonians, a long time Slave Race to the Dunmer, got to do this to the Dunmer in between the events of Oblivion and Skyrim. The Dunmer were subjected to the loss of their Physical Gods, the Oblivion Crisis, being abandoned by the Empire, a moon crashing into their province, and the eruption of Red Mountain. Then the Argonians invaded and captured the still-habitable parts of mainland Morrowind, along with the rich ebony deposits therein. The 4th Era Dunmer are now a broken and scattered race, in search of their place in the world (both literally and figuratively).
    • The Khajiit pulled this on their long-time rivals, the Bosmer, during the Five Year War. After getting rid of their Nord advisors, whose fighting style was too different for the Khajiit to successfully adopt, the Khajiit proceeded to brutalize the Bosmer, capturing territory and raiding deep into Valenwood. The Bosmer had to invoke the Wild Hunt in order to finally bring the war to an end.
  • Scripted Event: Though the series is well known for its open worlds and non-linear gameplay, many quests still rely on scripted events in order to play out correctly. A common recurring example is a character whose death is required for the next phase of a quest to trigger. Even if you take steps to save the character, one of two things will happen - either the character will simply drop dead anyway, or the quest will break, preventing you from proceeding. Specific game examples can be found on the trope page.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: One of the Daedric Princes is named Namira, which is Ariman backwards. It is an alternative spelling for "Ahriman", a Zoroastrian term for the hypostasis of chaos, destruction, and evil. Given the term's obscurity and the fact that Namira doesn't really fit these traits (other than the standard chaotic nature possessed by most Daedric Princes), it's fair to wonder if this one wasn't intentional.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • The series' primary Creation Myth provides an example of a permanent sealing. Anu and Padomay are the anthropomorphized primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. 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).
    • Several of the series' Big Bads are/were sealed in such a fashion, including Dagoth Ur (within Red Mountain), Mehrunes Dagon (who wasn't so much sealed in, but was sealed out of Mundus), and Alduin (who was cast out of the stream of time thousands of years in the past).
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The series' primary Creation Myth provides an example of a permanent sealing. Anu and Padomay are the anthropomorphized primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. 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).
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Before recorded history, Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, grew powerful. The other (chaotic-leaning) Daedric Princes grew fearful and jealous of his growing power, so they came together and cursed him into becoming his own antithesis - Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. However, at the end of every Era, Jyggalag is allowed to return to his true form in an event known as the Greymarch. During this time, he retakes and destroys the Shivering Isles (Sheogorath's and formerly his own Daedric realm), only to return to the form of Sheogorath at the end. The main plot of the Shivering Isles is Jyggalag attempting to break this Vicious Cycle once and for all. He succeeds in a Literal Split Personalities fashion, freeing himself by passing the mantle of Sheogorath onto the Champion of Cyrodiil.
  • Secret Art: Necromancy tends to become this in times and places when it is illegal. Practitioners must meet in secret to share knowledge and related paraphernalia.
  • Secret Keeper: The leaders of the Blades, who have long served the Tamriellic Emperors as bodyguards and spies, are naturally this toward the emperors as well as being Confidants. For example, Blades Grandmaster Jauffre was entrusted by Emperor Uriel Septim VII to take and hide away Uriel's bastard son, Martin. This was kept secret, even from Martin, until the assassination of Uriel VII and his legitimate heirs forced Jauffre to reveal it.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: The in-game book "The Red Kitchen Reader" describes the most delicious meal that a world-renowned chef ever experienced: a roast that he found in a hidden kitchen under an abandoned house as a child, which taught him "that food can and should be sublime". The description matches an assassin cult lair that has a vampire on staff, so the trope is strongly implied.
  • Secret Police:
    • In addition to being an Ancient Order of Protectors who have served as the Praetorian Guard for the emperors of Tamriel, the Blades have also branched out into other areas including espionage and diplomacy, essentially being Tamriel's CIA. The highest ranking Blade in each province is referred to as The Spymaster and the Blades often engage in covert operations. Following the Great War, the Blades were decimated and a term of the White-Gold Concordat officially disbanded them. The survivors were forced to flee underground to avoid being ruthlessly hunted by the Thalmor. Since then, the Pentius Oculatus has risen up to replace them in service to the Emperor.
    • Speaking of the Thalmor, they serve in this role in the 4th Era Aldmeri Dominion, mixed with, essentially, Church Police. One of the reasons everyone hates them so much is because they have a nasty habit of dragging off dissenters and making them disappear; a right they gained within Imperial territory from the Empire as part of the White-Gold Concordat to end the Great War no less. Their enforcement of the ban on Talos worship is one of the many motivating factors of the Stormcloaks in the Skyrim Civil War.
  • Secret Test of Character: The recurring in-game book, A Game at Dinner, tells the story of Prince Hlaalu Helseth hosting a dinner party. After the meal, Helseth implies to his assembled dinner guests (among whom are several spies, including the narrator) that he put poison on the cutlery of someone spying against him, then invites any spies present to take a dose of the antidote, kept in a tureen at the center of the table. One of the spies loses his nerve and drinks, only for Helseth to reveal that no-one's cutlery was poisoned. The poison was, in fact, the 'antidote' the spy was just bluffed into drinking. Ultimately, the story is a subversion - it's a test given by Helseth to find The Mole, but everyone at the table is guilty, including the narrator. The victim just panicked before the others.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The Imperial City, being built atop Ayleid ruins, has numerous examples. Some parts have been converted into sewers and dungeons, but secret passages into this area are plentiful. You find yourself escaping through them in both Arena and Oblivion.
  • Seeker Archetype: The Cult of the Ancestor Moth is an Imperial order based around divining the information contained within the Elder Scrolls, using a ritual known as the Ritual of the Ancestor Moth, at the eventual cost of their sight. These "Moth Priests", as they are known, organize and care for the Imperial Library within the White-Gold Tower in the Imperial City, where the Elder Scrolls are traditionally stored. In 4E 175 (26 years before the events of Skyrim), the Scrolls mysteriously went missing from the Library and were scattered across Tamriel. The Order has taken to searching for them ever since.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is fond of these. Given his Mad Hatter and Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies, he often has them with himself.
    Sheogorath: "Cat's out of the bag on that one, isn't it? Who puts cats in bags, anyway? Cats hate bags!"
  • Selective Enforcement: Throughout the series, this is the case with City Guards. If you break any law, from shoplifting an apple to outright murder, the guards will descend on you in no time flat. However, they won't lift a finger to help you with that assassin trying to kill you... Even bystanders who witness your crimes may attempt to exact vigilante justice on you and, unlike guards, they may not stop after you've paid your fine. That said, this has been improving over the course of the series along with overall enhancements to NPC AI. For example, by Skyrim, guards are capable of identifying the aggressor in a situation and will assist the player against unlawful attackers, at least in most cases...
  • Selective Gravity: Present in Morrowind and, at least for certain items (paintbrushes), Oblivion. It is possible to make a stack of these items and remove the items from the bottom of the stack, leaving the items at the top hovering in midair. This allows for some useful situations for a canny player, such as building stairways to otherwise inaccessible locations and setting up sniper's nests where melee attackers can't reach you.
  • Self-Deprecation: 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 (given the ES unpleasable fanbase) and isn't above above Self Deprecation in the form of taking some shots at Bethesda itself. For example, some of his comments from Skyrim regarding design choices, game mechanics, and dialogue in Oblivion:
    "Nords are so serious about beards. So many beards. M'aiq thinks they wish they had glorious manes like Khajiit." note 
    "M'aiq carries two weapons, to be safe. What if one breaks? That would be most unlucky." note 
    "M'aiq is very practical. He has no need for Mysticism." note 
    "It does not matter to M'aiq how strong or smart one is. It only matters what one can do." note 
    "M'aiq loves the people of Skyrim. Many interesting things they say to each other." note 
    "M'aiq saw a mudcrab the other day. Filthy things." note 
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The series, with it's huge game worlds and open-ended gameplay, is tailor made for this trope. An extremely common challenge for any of the games in the series is to role-play; writing a character and then playing as that character, flaws and all. For example, a noble paladin who cannot loot corpses and must leave them to rest in peace, or a warrior who refuses to use any form of magic, including enchanted items. Additional specific examples can be found on the trope page.
  • Semi-Divine: Those who are Dragonborn are rare mortals blessed with the Aedric soul of a dragon, but the body and mind of a mortal.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force:
    • Anu and Padomay are the anthropomorphized primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. Their interplay in the great "Void" led to Nir, "creation". Nir loved Anu, which Padomay hated. Padomay killed Nir and the 12 worlds she gave birth to. Anu wounded Padomay, presuming him dead. Anu salvaged the pieces of the 12 world to create one world: Nirn. Padomay returned and wounded Anu, seeking to destroy Nirn. Anu then pulled Padomay and himself outside of time, ending Padomay's threat to creation "forever". Due to being pulled outside of time, neither can directly influence the affairs of the mortal world, but it is believed that their presence is still felt, largely In Mysterious Ways and in Powers That Be type ways.
    • Sithis, a representation of the Void, is believed to be what is "left of" Padomay, a shadow that continues to inject "chaos" into the stasis of creation. Sithis is worshiped by the Dark Brotherhood in their Religion of Evil.
    • The et'Ada are the "original spirits" who formed out of the intermingled spilled blood of Anu and Padomay. Depending on their actions during the creation of Mundus, the mortal world, they would become known as either the Aedra or the Daedra. Essentially, they are the embodiments of the concepts they represent. (Akatosh IS Time, Sheogorath IS Madness, etc.) For example, when someone (usually mortals working with divine implements) "breaks" time, causing time to flow in a nonlinear fashion, they have "broken" Akatosh. These events are known as "Dragon Breaks", essentially Time Crashes during which Reality Is Out to Lunch.
  • Sequence Breaking: Given the wide-open nature of the series, there are typically plenty of opportunities for this in each game. They most commonly result from exploiting Good Bad Bugs to get into places where you shouldn't be until much later in the relevant questline.
  • Serial Escalation:
    • Each game's main quest tends to escalate as you advance through the series. In Arena, the Big Bad is Jagar Tharn, an Evil Sorcerer and Evil Chancellor who has usurped the Emperor. In Daggerfall, you are tasked with recovering a lost superweapon. In Morrowind, you're tasked with slaying an evil Physical God Deity of Human Origin with some Eldritch traits who wants to Take Over the World. In Oblivion, you need to defeat Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction and all around Omnicidal Maniac hell bent on destroying the world. In Skyrim, you must defeat Alduin, the draconic Beast of the Apocalypse whose job it is to "eat the world", and who is also the "son"/"fragment of" the series' Top God. In Online, you must stop Molag Bal, the closest thing the series has to true God of Evil, from merging his realm of Oblivion with the mortal world, which would be a Fate Worse than Death for all mortals.
    • The series loves the You All Meet in a Cell trope, and it has undergone escalation throughout the series. In Arena, you start out imprisoned by the Big Bad. In Daggerfall, you end up shipwrecked in a dungeon and have to fight your way out. In Morrowind, you are a prisoner who has been released under the orders of the Emperor. In Oblivion, you are personally freed from prison by the Emperor and his entourage, as they need to flee through your cell. In Skyrim, you start off sentenced to die and are being led to the executioner's block. In Online, you are dead and find yourself in the aforementioned Molag Bal's realm of Oblivion.
    • In-universe, Molag Bal seems to somehow get worse with each appearance in the series. He is already the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, a sphere which includes Violation, Defilement, and Rape. While he has always been a clearly malevolent entity, his actions and the stories about him somehow get worse with each installment. Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC expands upon the details of him committing the first rape which spawn the first vampire. Online has him as one of the most malevolent and outright vile Big Bads to date in the series.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: Daedric weapons have this aesthetic throughout the series, along with being primarily black and red in color. Daedric metal is forged by combining Ebony (theorized to be the petrified blood of the dead creator god) with lesser Daedric spirits.
  • Servant Race:
    • The Argonians are this to the Hist, a race of sentient, ancient, and possibly omniscient trees native to the Argonian homeland of Black Marsh. In fact, the Hist may have created the Argonians to specifically be this, as the Argonians claim that the Hist gave them their souls. Argonians will serve and defend the Hist with their very lives if needed. The Argonians, frequent victims of Fantastic Racism due to the Reptiles Are Abhorrent beliefs of the other races of Tamriel, have also been a Slave Race to the Dunmer.
    • Among the ranks of the lesser Daedra, Scamps are this. They are the the weakest known Daedric beings and are are especially well known for their roles as servants and messengers. When forced into combat, they are Cannon Fodder whose only reliable tactic is the Zerg Rush. They are also a favored summon of mortal conjurers for their use as servants, especially for performing mundane tasks.
  • Servile Snarker: Haskill is the chamberlain of Sheogorath, and claims to have been with Sheogorath "since the beginning". (This has led to the theory that he is actually an external piece of Sheogorath, similar to Barbas and Clavicus Vile). He's the Only Sane Man in the Shivering Isles, and is a Deadpan Snarker without peer.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: A trait of Hermaeus Mora in his initial Daggerfall appearance. This trait is dropped in later appearances, which give him an almost grandfatherly version of an Evil Sounds Deep voice instead.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: The Command, Frenzy, Fury, Rally, and other similar spells which have this effect. "Command" lets you take control of a NPC or creature with a level lower than that of the spell's magnitude. The affected target will fight on your side for the spell's duration. "Frenzy" and "Fury" will cause the target to attack any nearby targets for the spell's duration. Rally will aggro a neutral target into joining the fight on your side for the spell's duration.
  • Set Bonus: In-universe, it is implied that Dwemer/Dwarven armor works like this, or at least used to work like this. The Dwemer were an extremely technologically advanced race of Naytheists, whose many creations include Mecha-Mooks of all shapes and sizes (right up to full blown Humongous Mechas). According to some theories, what modern people know as "Dwemer armor" is actually the mechanical exoskeleton of their most advanced "animunculi". A humanoid wearer can be encased within, where it seals and basically becomes a sort of Power Armor. However, since their disappearance, whatever their intended purpose, modern peoples wear the pieces as quality heavy armor. (A quest-reward perk in Skyrim is meant to provide such a bonus in-game, but actually just gives you a permanent armor bonus whatever you're wearing.)
  • Sex God:
    • Throughout the series, the followers of Dibella tend to be these. Dibella herself is the Aedric Divine Goddess of Beauty who is also associated with the carnal and sexual aspects of love. The "Dibellan Arts", a form of lovemaking and sexual practices which are supposedly the primary methods of worshiping her. Supposedly, being versed in them makes one an exceptionally skilled sex partner.
    • According to the in-game book series The Wolf Queen, Queen Potema (the titular "Wolf Queen") shared her bed with Orgnum, King of the Maormer (Sea Elves), who she stated was "one of the better lovers she had ever had".
      The Wolf Queen - Book Four: "He gave her some herbs before beginning that made her feel as if she was floating on the surface of time, conscious only of the gestures of love after she had found herself making them. She felt herself like the cooling mist, quenching the fire of his lust over and over and over again."
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: The Daedric Princes are divine spirits who retained their Complete Immortality by choosing not to participate in the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. As immortal spirits, they can manifest in whatever form they wish. Most tend to stick with one fairly consistent (and often humanoid) form in order to deal with mortals more easily. A few are known to change gender between appearances, while Peryite prefers the form of a green dragon (in mockery of the Aedric Top God Akatosh) and Hermaeus Mora forgoes anything humanoid for a full blown Eldritch Abomination preferred form.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: The Bosmer possess the innate ability to transform into nightmarish beasts as a final desperate act of defense against invaders, known as "the Wild Hunt." However, there is no known way to reverse this transformation, leaving them permanently stuck as these monsters. As such, it is only known to have been used twice in recorded history.
  • Shark Man: According to legend, Weresharks roam the seas surrounding Tamriel. However, they have yet to actually appear in-game.
  • She Is the King:
    • The Daedric Princes are pure spirits who can take any physical form they choose, with some changing forms in different appearances while others stick to a strictly male or female (or in the case of Hermaeus Mora, eldritch) appearance. Even the female-identifying Daedra (Azura, Meridia, etc.) are still referred to as "Princes", though historically the term "prince" could be applied to rulers, regardless of sexnote .
    • The Jarls (pronounced "Yarls" and taken from an old Scandinavian term for "Earl") of Skyrim can be either male or female, and apparently children can inherit the title from their parents regardless of gender.
  • Shields Are Useless: Acccording to historical records, the Tsaesci, an Akaviri race of supposed "snake vampires", prefer to dual wield a katana and wakizashi, and have a cultural aversion to shields. Tsaesci martial arts emphasize agility over blocking, and preach that if you don't want to get by your opponent, you get out of the way. They would even do this for arrows. When they attempted to invade Tamriel in the late 1st Era, they were confused by human warriors using the "sword-and-board" fighting style.
  • Shining City: The Imperial City qualifies, as do several provincial capitals. Alinor, the Altmeri capital city of the Summerset Isles, is one. Impossibly tall vine-line buildings with swirling architecture rise high into the sky, where their glass/crystalline structures refract light to create rainbows in a manner reminiscent of "insect wings." Mournhold is the capital of Morrowind (at least, prior to the Red Year and Argonian Invasion) and is expressly called "City of light. City of magic" by its denizens. Solitude, the capital of Skyrim, is visible for miles from atop the rock arch it's built on, and full of grand Imperial towers and manor houses.
  • Shock and Awe:
    • Throughout the series, Shock-based attacks are one of the primary forms of the Destruction school of magic, rounding out the Fire, Ice, Lightning trio. While it varies depending on the game, ranged shock spells sometimes strike instantly (similar to a Hitscan attack) and sometimes drain Magicka in addition to damaging health.
    • Storm Atronachs are a form of unaligned lesser Daedra who are essentially the Elemental Embodiment of Shock magic. They appear throughout the series, typically being immune to Shock damage while dishing out powerful Shock spells of their own.
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy:
    • In the backstory, for all of their many victories, it was a Nord defeat that had perhaps the most profound impact on Tamriellic history. After centuries of domination and expansion out of Skyrim, their army, led by the Tongues (masters of the Thu'um), was annihilated at Red Mountain in Morrowind by a coalition of Dwemer and Chimer forces. This marked the farthest expanse of the Nordic empire and led to a drop-off in the use of the Thu'um as a weapon after Jurgen Windcaller, one of the defeated Tongues, created the Way of the Voice to use the Thu'um only to honor the gods. The after effects of the loss at Red Mountain could still be felt in the storylines to several games in the series.
    • Another was the Sacking of Alinor by Tiber Septim's legions, with the aid of the Dwemer-crafted Numidium. The beautiful crystal city and its legions of Magic Knight defenders were crushed within an hour of fighting, leaving the Altmer under the rule of Men (by force) for the first time in their thousands of years of history. This only exacerbated their hatred of humanity and when opportunity arose after the Oblivion Crisis, they struck back hard under the leadership of the Thalmor.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Frost Atronachs commonly have this ability, which stuns nearby enemies.
  • Shoplift and Die: Played straight in general throughout the series. It is possible to steal from a store without getting caught, though if you do get caught, the shopkeeper will immediately attack you and any nearby guards will move in to arrest you. It doesn't help that in most of the games in the series, the same button used for picking up items is also used to engage Non Player Characters in dialogue. This makes accidentally shoplifting one of the near-worthless clutter items that happen to be lying around while attempting to speak with the shopkeeper a frequent issue.
  • Shoulders of Doom:
  • Shout-Out: Numerous in each game. Skyrim in particular need its own page.
  • Show Some Leg: Throughout the series, most depictions of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night, has her cloak/robe opens up at the side of the thighs, fully exposing her legs. (Her avatar in Skyrim then adds Absolute Cleavage.) It's rather fitting for a being who is essentially the patron deity of thieves, who can always use a handy distraction to get what they want.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The series is positively lousy with persons, organizations, objects, species, and events that became Shrouded in Myth. Emperor Talos/Tiber Septim, Ysgramor of the Companions, the Grey Fox, the Thieves' Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, every Daedric artifact, every Daedric Prince, and many more. Notably, even the Player Character inevitably becomes Shrouded in Myth by the next game in the series (even when there is only a short Time Skip between games), and sometimes even within their own game, like Skyrim's Dragonborn.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Starting with Morrowind, each game has one whenever you take fall damage.
  • Sidequest: Loads and Loads of them throughout the series. They are one the major draws of the series and, in each game, collectively add up to generate several times as much content than even the main quest provides.
  • Sidequest Sidestory: Initially in the series, with Arena, this trope was not used. Side quests there are completely random, existing only to provide the player with extra experience and money. After seeing how much time players spent on the sidequests in Arena despite their simplicity, they were given some additional story development in Daggerfall. Every game since has seen the use of this trope grow exponentially. In addition to the game's main quest, there are faction questlines (Fighters' Guild, Mages' Guild, Thieves' Guild, etc.) with their own story arcs (some nearly as expansive as the main quest), as well as numerous standalone sidequests with their own story arcs. Daedric quests are another prime example, growing from, initially, simple quests to kill a specific person or retrieve a specific item, to having full blown stories in their own right.
  • Sigil Spam:
    • Throughout the series, the forces of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire of Tamriel (particularly the Imperial Legions) have a tendency to heavily feature the Red Diamond or the Imperial Dragon on most of their equipment.
    • The symbols of the Holds of Skyrim are often spammed in this fashion. Enter the capital city of a Hold and you will see its symbol everywhere, from the armor and shields of its City Guards to banners of all shapes and sizes throughout the city, especially around the the Jarl's longhouse.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: * Common throughout the series, crossing over with Silver Bullet for weapons. To note:
    • Throughout the series, certain supernatural enemies such as ghosts and wraiths (among others) can only be harmed by weapons of silver quality (or greater), or by enchanted weapons. Items of greater than silver quality tend to have their own "mystic" properties which justify their ability to harm these types of beings. (For example, Dwemer/Dwarven equipment was created and made to last using Reality Warping processes; Ebony equipment is made from the petrified blood of a dead god; Daedric equipment is made from Ebony which has been imbued with the souls of lesser Daedra, etc.)
    • Vampires, Werewolves, and other were-creatures are specifically vulnerable to silver, taking more damage from silver weapons. (Though they can still be harmed by non-silver weapons.)
  • Simultaneous Warning And Action: Generally averted throughout the series. Even killing a guard typically won't have his fellow guards trying to kill you on sight. They'll still attempt to arrest you first. Played straight once you reach a certain bounty threshold (usually 5000 gold) at which point you're marked as "kill on sight" by the guards. The only way to get out of it is to use the Thieves Guild or complete a quest that clears your bounty at the end.
  • The Singularity:
    • This is one theory about what happened to Dwemer. It is possible that they succeeded in whatever they were trying to do with the Heart of Lorkhan, causing them to disappear entirely from the mortal world without a trace.
    • In most games, by using a combination of alchemy, enchanting, and/or restoration skills, it is typically possible to turn yourself into an invincible god-like being. Essentially, you fortify one of these skills, then use the fortified skill to fortify one of the other skills for a longer duration, and then repeat back and forth until you have attribute or skill scores in the tens of thousands. With that level of Intelligence, for instance, you could craft a potion that restores your health thousands of times over every second with a duration of thousands of real-life hours or forge a weapon capable of killing anything in the game with just one hit. Bethesda generally attempts to Nerf these in patches or between games, but creative players always manage to find new methods of accomplishing this.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor:
    • This is a trait of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night, who is also associated with Thieves and Luck, in her relationship with the Nightingales and really, all thieves. For the Nightingales, she grants them immense power and freedom to do with it as they wish, on the condition that they always protect the Ebonmere, the conduit between her realm of Oblivion and Mundus, the mortal plane. Thieves in general benefit from her protective darkness and "scoundrel's luck", but she does not offer any sort of direct Divine Intervention to either group if they get in over their heads, and is quick to withdraw her blessings if she is displeased.
    • The Locked Room, a recurring in-universe book, tells how Arthcamu, a tutor who teaches lockpicking to thieves, teaches one of his students the value of speed by locking her in a room with a dormant vampire, telling her it will wake up and kill her at sunset if she hasn't picked the lock on the room's door. The student gets revenge by designing a new type of lock that Arthcamu can't pick without relying on precision over speed and using it to trap him in the vampire room. Amusingly, this book can often be found on skeletons stuck inside locked rooms. It also boosts the Player Character's Security/Lockpicking skill when read.
  • Skeleton Key: The Skeleton Key is an artifact associated with Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night who also has special associations with luck and thieves, and has appeared in every main series' game to date. Depending on the game, it either unlocks non-magical locks with a 100% success rate, or is an unbreakable lockpick so that it can be used over and over until it succeeds.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Giants, Reachmen, and several styles of native Dunmer armor (Bonemold and Chitin) utilize bones in their construction.
  • Skill Scores and Perks:
    • The first four games in the main series all have similar variations of a Class and Level System, with a few quirks varying by game. Oblivion, while still staying in line with the series' traditional system, adds Perks for the first time, which are unlocked by reaching certain levels in skills: e.g. a Power Attack at Blade 25, no shield wear-out at Block 50, jumping off water surface at Acrobatics 100, etc.
    • Skyrim overhauls the series' system, doing away with classes and attributes entirely while moving into the territory of this trope. It loosely borrows the Perk system of its Bethesda Fallout sister series, expanding the available perks to an entire tree (one per skill score); perks now have prerequisite perks and corresponding skill score levels and can be bought and upgraded with perk points (gained with every Character Level up) once unlocked.
  • Slave Liberation:
    • In the 1st Era, the Nedes (ancestors to most of the modern races of Men) were enslaved by the Ayleids of Cyrodiil. The Daedra-worshiping Ayleids were exceptionally vile in the treatment of their Nedic slaves, leading to one escaped slave, Alessia, praying to the Aedra for aid. Eight of the Aedra, who would go on to be known as the Eight Divines, responded and provided aid. Alessia's alliance of her Nedic people, the Divines, rebel Ayleid lords, and the Nordic Empire to the north was able to crush the Ayleid forces and capture Cyrodiil for mankind ever after, forming the First Cyrodiilic Empire of Men in Tamriel.
    • The Twin Lamps was a slave liberating organization active in Morrowind in the late 3rd Era, prior to King Helseth's ban on slavery.
  • Slave Mooks: Several races have used Goblins in this fashion. The Tsaesci, an Akaviri race of supposed "snake vampires", are known to keep Goblins as a slave race. The Goblins are used for labor, food, and as Cannon Fodder in battle. The Altmer have also been known to train and keep Goblins as labor and for use in battle at different points in history.
  • Slave Race:
    • The Nedes, ancestors to most of the races of men, were this to the Ayleids in Cyrodiil. Under the leadership of the Slave Queen Alessia, along with assistance from the Divines and rebel Ayleid lords, they pulled a successful slave revolt and formed the First Empire of Men in Cyrodiil.
    • The Dunmer of Morrowind have traditionally practiced slavery, with the Khajiit and especially the Argonians as the primary slave races. When Morrowind joined the Septim Empire as a Voluntary Vassal, the Dunmeri Physical God Vivec traded the Dwemer-crafted Numidium to Tiber Septim in exchange for special privileges, including the continued practice of slavery which was illegal elsewhere in the Empire. Following the events of Morrowind, slavery would be declared illegal in Morrowind as well, upsetting many of the more conservative Dunmer. Illegal slaves would still be kept for decades, at least until the Argonians invaded in the 4th Era and set them free.
    • The Falmer (Snow Elves) once had a thriving empire to rival even the Altmer in Skyrim. However, when Ysgramor and his 500 Companions invaded from Atmora, they nearly drove the Falmer to extinction. They turned to their Dwemer cousins for aid. The Dwemer enslaved them, blinded them, and twisted them into a race little better than goblins.
    • The Tsaesci, an Akaviri race of supposed "snake vampires", keep Goblins as a slave race. The Goblins are used for labor, food, and as Cannon Fodder in battle. They also at one point enslaved Akavir's red dragons and possibly the Men of Akavir as well. The Altmer are also known to train and keep Goblins as labor and in battle.
    • Ogres are frequently enslaved by other races as both strong laborers and for use in gladiatorial arenas. This practice is known to greatly anger their patron deity, Malacath, the Daedric Prince of the Spurned and Ostracized.
    • While not to the level of full blown "slaves," the Bosmer are treated as beneath the Altmer within the modern Aldmeri Dominion.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • In the 1st Era, the humans of Cyrodiil were enslaved by the Ayleids, who were needlessly vile and cruel to them. After escaping slavery herself, St. Alessia prayed to the Aedra for aid in an uprising against the (primarily) Daedra-worshiping Ayleids in order to free her people. The Aedra offered a Bargain with Heaven, and sent aid (both subtle and direct) to Alessia's war efforts. It is strongly implied that the bans on slavery by the various Cyrodiilic Empires in the thousands of years since is directly tied to their own origins as slaves to the Ayleids.
    • Played with in Morrowind in the late 3rd Era, where slavery was part of everyday life. There was an underground organization, the Twin Lamps, that believes in this trope, though. The trick is, the Dunmer were granted a legal exception to the Empire's slavery ban as one of the terms of becoming a Voluntary Vassal, but Imperial influence gradually reduced the popularity of slavery. Just prior to the end of the 3rd Era, King Helseth of Morrowind ended the practice, and shortly after the Red Year, the Argonians (a long-time Slave Race to the Dunmer) wound up biting back by forming a coherent army and invading southern Morrowind.
  • The Sleepless:
    • Throughout the series through Oblivion, resting is required in order to level up, but there is no physiological need for your character to do so. Even when resting to level up, you can do so by sleeping the bare minimum amount each time. Numerous Game Mods exist for each game in the series which address this, making it a requirement for the the player to sleep periodically or face severe penalties.
    • Skyrim separates leveling up from resting, meaning there is never a need to rest. That said, resting in a bed you own or have rented will grant you the "Well Rested" bonus, which increases the rate at which your skills increase by 10% for eight in-game hours. If you are married, sleeping in a bed near your spouse will grant you the "Lover's Comfort" bonus, which is a 15% increase. However, if you are a werewolf, you cannot gain these bonuses, giving the player no reason not to go entirely without sleep.
  • Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship:
    • Averted in Daggerfall and Morrowind, where different character and mouse movements result in different types of attack, including slashes, hacks, and thrusts. Different weapons deal more damage depending on which attack is used.
    • Played straight in Oblivion and Skyrim. Even daggers are used in hacking and slashing motions only. Certain finishing moves in Skyrim avert it though, such as impaling foes with swords.
  • Sliding Scale of Content Density vs. Width: The series started out on the far, far "Width" end of the scale. Arena and Daggerfall have absolutely massive game worlds, on the scale of real life countries. However, to fill out these worlds, any areas not related to the main quests (or a few prominent side quests, in the case of Daggerfall) are Randomly Generated, with Procedural Generation used for dungeons. This allows for huge game worlds with nigh-infinite content...but at the cost of that content getting very repetitive, very quickly. Come the third game in the series, Morrowind, Bethesda took a drastically different philosophical approach, swinging to the "Density" side of the scale. The game world was significantly scaled down (to a "mere" nine square miles compared to thousands) but was entirely hand-built. It helps that, through the use of Space Compression, it is nowhere near the size of it's predecessors, but is still far larger than most game worlds. Another reason for this philosophical change was Morrowind's Multi-Platform availability on console (specifically, Xbox) as well as PC, a first for the series (and first for a prominent Western RPG in many, many years at the time). This changed helped Morrowind to get into the hands of a wider audience, being the Breakthrough Hit for both the series and the development company. Follow-up games (Oblivion and Skyrim) swung the series back toward the middle of the scale. Both increased the size of the game world compared to Morrowind, but also brought back elements of random and procedural generation to fill out those larger game worlds. Coupled with enemy and loot spawns being spread sheet generated, much of the "Density" uniqueness seen in Morrowind was lost.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: The main series of games (ie the ones with numbers in the title) fit here. Each has a brand new protagonist (the Player Character) but take place chronologically (with Time Skips ranging from four to 200 years) after the previous games in the series. In the background looms the (mostly) benevolent Third Tamriellic Empire whose involvement with the main plot of the game varies from relatively loose (Daggerfall, Morrowind) to being an essential player in the game's events (every other game). The first four games, in fact, all take place during the rule of the same Emperor (Uriel Septim VII). Other consistent elements are the inclusion of (or at least mention of) various Guilds and Factions (Fighters Guild, Mages Guild, Thieves' Guild, Dark Brotherhood, etc.) as well as the presence of the same gods and deities (save those you kill or otherwise alter).
  • Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: While the series generally trends more toward Gameplay and Story Segregation, there are plenty of instances of integration in each game as well, often crossing over with Developers' Foresight. Specific examples are listed by game on the trope page.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: The series in general falls far on the "Openness" side of the spectrum, mostly at a level 6 with certain sequences of specific games toning it down toward level 5. All the games in the main series have main quests which you are directed toward in the early going, but as soon as the sandbox is opened, you are perfectly free to forgo the main quest entirely to do whatever you want to do instead. This includes exploring the wide open game world, engaging in the Sidequest Sidestories (some of which are nearly as expansive as the main quests of the games), and the Loads and Loads of other side quests offered.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: The series tends to shift from one end to the other between games, and sometimes even within the expansions/DLCs of the same game. For example, Morrowind is extremely "Gritty", while Oblivion shifts drastically to the "Shiny" end, and then its back to the "Gritty" end for Skyrim. Specifics for each game can be found on the trope page.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: As with most of the "Sliding Scale" tropes, the series tends to jump from one end to the other between games. For example, Morrowind and Skyrim are quite serious overall, with pockets of silliness here and there, largely in the form of Shout Outs and Easter Eggs. Oblivion, sandwiched between, is overall more silly with pockets of seriousness instead. Specifics for each game can be found on the trope page.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: The series offers a Vampire Variety Pack, with numerous vampire "bloodlines" with varying powers and abilities. The ones encountered in-game in the series to date all follow a fairly general pattern, however. (Compared to some of the more unique and unusual bloodlines mentioned in the lore). Most games offer at least a few Friendly Neighborhood Vampires as well to contrast the more outright "evil" vampire present. Additional information can be found on the trope page.
  • Sliding Scale of Video Game World Size and Scale: The series is a shining example of having massive game worlds. Arena and Daggerall boast some of the largest worlds in gaming (with Daggerfall specifically stated to have playable space roughly equal to the size of Great Britain). However, to fill out these massive worlds, virtually all content not related to the main quest is is Randomly and/or Procedurally Generated, meaning it gets repetitive rather quickly and showing the downside of large worlds. Later games in the series scale down the game worlds (while still being far larger than most video games) and adding greater content density to compensate.
  • Slippery MacGuffin: The Daedric artifacts qualify. They are extremely powerful and legendary magical items (often weapons) that are granted to mortals by their associated Daedric Prince, typically by performing a service for the Prince in question. Given that most of the artifacts make recurring appearances throughout the series, it is explained in-universe that these artifacts have a will of their own and never stay with a particular wielder for long. In a few cases, to acquire the item, the Daedric Prince has you relieve it from it's previous master (usually lethally).
  • Slut-Shaming: This frequently happens to the followers of Dibella, the Aedric Divine Goddess of Beauty who is also associated with the carnal and sexual aspects of love. The primary means of worshiping her involves the "Dibellan Arts", a particular form of lovemaking and sexual practices. Given that most of her followers are women, many are forced to practice these Arts in private for fear of this trope.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: While his accomplishment is certainly one worth of praise, series' recurring character St. Jiub has a huge ego about it. He went from the Nerevarine's fellow prisoner in Morrowind to the eradicator of the much reviled Cliff Racers prior to the events of Oblivion. He was even sainted by the Dunmeri Physical God Vivec for his actions. However, his spirit appears in Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC and his dialogue makes it clear that he is an example of the trope:
    "Was it 'Having the adoration of thousands...' No, wait. I could make it 'the adoration of tens of thousands'."
    "'Savior of Morrowind.' Hm, that's good but it sounds too narrow of scope..."
  • Small Reference Pools:
    • The series has become the go-to Western RPG reference for non-gamers.
    • The massive success of Skyrim has put the rest of the series in this category to many casual gamers and non-gamers alike, especially younger ones. It's not uncommon for someone to have heard of Skyrim without having heard of any other game in the series.
  • The Smart Guy: Julianos, the Aedric Divine of Wisdom and Logic, serves as this within the Nine Divines pantheon. He governs over many aspects of wisdom and knowledge, including magic, mathematics, language, literature, history, and law.
  • Smart People Know Latin: The series has an in-universe equivalent to Latin with Aldmeris, the Classical Tongue of the ancient Aldmer, ancestors to the modern races of Mer (Elves). In the spirit of this trope, intelligent characters throughout the series are frequently able to read and translate Aldmeris. In several instances, this is a quest point where Aldmeris is used as a key for translating "dead" languages.
  • Smash Mook: A variety of enemies of this type have been featured throughout the series, often crossing over with being Giant Mooks. These include Minotaurs, Giants, and Ogres. Trolls act as a smaller, but faster, and much more lethal version of this trope in large part thanks to their extreme Healing Factor.
  • Smug Snake: Series' recurring villain Mannimarco, a dreaded Lich/Necromancer, has acted this way in every appearance to date. He tends to see himself as more of a Magnificent Bastard, but his schemes have repeatedly failed (or have been generally less successful than hoped) due to his Fatal Flaws of Pride and arrogance.
  • Snake People: The Tsaesci, supposedly a race of "Snake Vampires" complete with serpentine lower bodies, native to Akavir, a continent far to the east of Tamriel. However, other sources indicate that they are are a race of Men little different than those in Tamriel. We likely won't know for sure until they make an appearance in-game (and possibly not even then, as some sources leave open the possibility that there are both men and serpent people called Tsaesci).
  • Sniff Sniff Nom: Throughout the series, one can consume alchemical ingredients to figure out what they do, inflicting a weakened version of that effect on you in the process.
  • The Social Darwinist:
    • The Altmer, particularly when under more extremist leadership like the Thalmor, have this as an active belief. They believe that they descend from the gods, and that the diversity of all other Elven races are the result of "degeneration". They actively try to breed themselves back into their ideal, including killing undesirable progeny. (They believe in reincarnation, and killing them frees their spirits to potentially be reincarnated in better forms, but still...) And don't even try to bring up the races of Men around them...
    • Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, has this as part of his sphere. As such, he's pretty keen on the idea of the strong dominating the weak.
  • Sociopathic Hero:
  • Soft Reboot:
    • One for the setting occurred along with 200 year Time Skip between Oblivion and Skyrim. The previous four games in the series (along with the spin-off Battlespire) took place over a 34-year period. This essentially made Skyrim act like a soft reboot of the setting, while still being able to fit into the timeline.
    • The series got around this with the other spin-offs (Redguard and Online) by making them prequels set several centuries before the main series, but still fitting neatly into the established timeline of the series.
  • Soft Water: Generally played straight in the series since Morrowind, as long as the water is deep enough. A steep fall into shallow water can still kill you.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: Humans Are Warriors is very much in effect for the races of Men in Tamriel (in comparison to the races of Mer), and each race of Men has at least a few Proud Warrior Race tendencies, especially the Nords and Redguards. (Even the Uneven Hybrid Witch Species Bretons, while not as great of "pure" warriors as the other races of Men, have a strong chivalric tradition and make excellent Mage Killer Magic Knights.) Nords hail from the Grim Up North province of Skyrim where they Had To Be Sharp merely to establish a culture in the first place. Culturally, they exhibit Blood Knight tendencies and will often put Honor Before Reason. Being a great warrior is even at the heart of their religion, where only those who die a glorious death in combat get into their ideal afterlife, Sovngarde (modeled after the real life Valhalla). Redguards meanwhile, are some of the finest swordsmen on the continent, being a cultural mix-up of the samurai and the Moors, but also possess an adventurous streak that makes them better as mercenaries, pirates, and adventurers than as rank-and-file soldiers. Where the "soldier" aspect of this trope comes into play is with the Imperial race, who are very much the "soldiers" to the Nord/Redguard "warriors." The Imperial Legions have helped to forge three Empires from their homeland of Cyrodiil throughout history, conquering much or all of Tamriel in each case. They have a heavy basis in Ancient Rome, utilizing similar strategies and tactics as the real world Roman Legions. Imperials also focus less on the glories of the combat itself, and more on the glories achieved through combat (such as building their Empires).
  • Sole Entertainment Option: A common theme throughout the series. In most games, you can count the number of entertainment establishments (beyond bars and taverns) on your fingers. In-game books describe or contain several plays, suggesting that theatre is popular, and there are many singers, poets, and musical instruments scattered around the games as well.
  • Someone Has to Do It: This is implied to have been the case for Peryite, the Daedric Prince of Pestilence and Tasks, who is also tasked with ordering the lowest levels of Oblivion. When Jyggalag, the proper Daedric Prince of Order, was sealed as Sheogorath, someone had to take up the mantle of "order". Following Jyggalag's return, Peryite became associated with the "Natural Order" cycle of growth and decay, while Jyggalag was associated with the "Perfect Order" of inorganic stasis. It also helps to explain why Peryite is looked down upon as a "loathesome" Butt-Monkey by the other Daedric Princes, who are primarily chaotic in nature. Come Skyrim, Peryite's quest fully emphasizes his association with pestilence.
  • Something About a Rose: Throughout the series, a rose is the symbol of Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism. His most famous artifact is Sanguine's Rose, which can take on many forms, including that of an actual rose, a wooden stave carved like a rose, or a staff-sized rose.
  • Something Nauts: The Imperial Mananauts explored Aetherius during the heyday of the Second Tamriellic Empire (under the Reman Dynasty) in the late 1st Era in a "space race" with the Aldmeri Dominion. The Aldmeri used Sunbirds, ships somehow literally made from the Sun. (Which, in the ES universe, is actually a portal to Aetherius through which magic flows into Mundus, the mortal realm.) The Empire, on the other hand, used "Mothships", enormous Ancestor Moths bred, hollowed out, and flown into the void on strength of willpower alone. (Ancestor Moths have a special supernatural connection which also allows them to be used to somewhat protect mortal readers from the power of the Elder Scrolls, which is why the Scrolls are kept and read by the Cult of the Ancestor Moth.) The results of these expeditions have largely been lost to history.
  • Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: Played straight in every game that horses appear, where they are full blown Automaton Horses. They can be ridden indefinitely with no signs of fatigue, never require food or water (but then again, neither does the Player Character), can survive attacks and falls which would kill (or at least severely lame) real horses, and, in some games, can be ridden up near-sheer surfaces in gravity defying fashion.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Due to the series' penchant for strictly Level Scaling enemies and equipment, this is largely played straight. At low levels, weak enemies (or weak versions of enemies) will basically be attacking you with cardboard swords and arrows with suction cups on the end. Thirty levels later, those enemies will be attacking with Ebony weapons while wearing Daedric armor. It is most evident in Oblivion and Skyrim, though Skyrim downplays it somewhat from Oblivion due to changes in the level scaling system used. Further, merchants only carry the weakest, most pathetic weapons imaginable by default. As you level up, their stock increases in quality as well.Morrowind, unique in the series for its near total lack of level scaling, averts it. Items outside of containers are hand placed, and never change regardless of your level. Because of this, it is possible to acquire some of the best equipment in the game if you know where to look. Items within containers play it straight to a degree, as the items they may contain come from random "leveled lists". Certain items only appear within the "leveled lists" once you reach a certain level, with your Luck attribute also coming into play. (Higher Luck will result in you potentially finding higher leveled items than you normally would.) Finally, merchants have the same stock regardless of your level when you visit them.
  • Soul-Cutting Blade:
    • Throughout the series, there is a Soul Trap spell which can be applied to any weapon as an enchantment. If the enemy is killed while Soul Trap is in effect, their soul will be absorbed and placed into a Soul Gem in your inventory (if there is a gem powerful enough to hold it).
    • Umbra is a recurring legendary (and evil) sword with Soul Trap as its primary enchantment. According to series' lore, Umbra also absorbs the soul of its wielder, possessing them (with them taking the name Umbra), and forcing them to become a Blood Knight. Either they kill powerful foes to give Umbra more souls, or the wielder is slain by a more powerful person, who then takes the sword and restarts the process anew. (Thankfully, the Player Character can use Umbra as much as they want with no ill effect.)
    • Mehrunes' Razor, an artifact of the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, is a dagger that has a small chance of severing the soul from a victim's body, killing them instantly and giving the soul to Dagon.
  • Soul Eating: Beings with the soul of a dragon can consume the souls of other dragons to both boost their own power as well as to permanently destroy the other soul, the only means to destroy the otherwise immortal dragons. Apart from the dragons themselves, history has known of rare mortals known as "Dragonborn", who are born with the immortal Aedric souls of dragons. Those who are Dragonborn owe their gift to Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Nine Divines Pantheon. Akatosh created the Dragonborn to serve as natural predators to the dragons, who view these "Dovahkiin" as Humanoid Abominations.
  • Soul Jar:
  • While the series' has liches throughout, they differ from most fantasy depictions by not requiring soul jars. The most popular way of becoming a lich is to consume a magical potion made of extremely rare ingredients. The background lore (and one instance in Oblivion) does mention liches having "phylacteries" which act as soul jars, but they do not seem to serve the typical "bound to them" purpose.
  • The Underking had one in the Mantella, and was unable to die until the Mantella was destroyed. Similarly, the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur were bound to the Heart of Lorkhan in this fashion. Once the Heart was unbound, Dagoth Ur died while the Tribunal were Brought Down to Normal, kept alive by the faith of their followers.
  • Soul-Powered Engine:
    • The series has this present with Soul Gems. Using a Soul-Trap spell (or a weapon enchanted with that effect) on an enemy and then killing that enemy allows for the capture of that enemy's soul, as long as you have a large enough empty Soul Gem. (They typically range from Petty to Lesser to Common to Greater to Grand. Additionally there are Black Soul Gems, which are the equivalent of Grand Soul Gems, but can trap sapient "black" souls, like those of NPCs.) Filled Soul Gems can then be used to enchant items to give them magical effects, or to recharge enchanted items.
    • Some Dwemer automatons ("animunculi") have been found carrying filled Soul Gems. This has led to the theory that they are powered by these gems, which would make them literal soul powered engines. That said, other Dwemer automatons have been found which do not carry these gems, leaving it a mystery as to what exactly powers them.
  • Sound of No Damage: The series typically uses an alternate noise to indicate that your attack did no damage, usually the sound of weapons clashing futilely or a whoosh of air for a miss. Later games also feature a special sound for blocking with a shield.
  • The Southpaw: The ancient Yokudans (ancestors of the Redguards) fought a devastating war with the Sinistral Mer, also known as the Left-Handed Elves, whose entire race was said to be left-handed. The war left the Sinistral Mer extinct.
  • Space Compression: The series averted this trope early on with Arena and Daggerfall, which have absolutely massive playable areas. However, in order to fill out these massive worlds, the majority of areas not associated with the main quests or major side quests use random and/or procedural generation. Starting with the series' 3D Leap with Morrowind, Space Compression is in full effect. Settings stated to be the size of large countries can be traversed in less than a real-world hour. Stated-to-be-massive cities contain only a few dozen NPCs at most, while many of the smaller settlements have populations in the low teens. However, the massive size of the game world was traded away in exchange for far greater content density. The primarily hand-built worlds are much more awe-invoking and are typically laid out in such a way to feel vast, while also being far larger in actuality that most video game worlds.
  • Space Is Magic: For example, the two moons of Nirn are actually the physical corpse ("flesh divinity") of a dead god. And other planets are projections of Alternate Dimensions owned by the Aedra and Daedra puncturing through a murky region known as the Oblivion in which everything floats. Stars and the sun are other punctures in Oblivion, but project into Aetherius, the "immortal realm" and the "realm of magic". Magic flows in from Aetherius, visible in the night sky as nebulae. Also, the Serpent constellation moves around the sky without rhyme or reason and is said to be made of "unstars".
  • Spare to the Throne:
    • Rislav the Righteous, detailed in the in-game book Rislav the Righteous. The titular Rislav was the fourth son in line to the Kingdom of Skingrad. His older brother, Dorald, was another spare who was allowed to follow his dream to become a priest of the Alessian Order, a radical religious movement sweeping the Empire at the time. When Rislav was 30, a plague swept through Cyrodiil and decimated the royal family of Skingrad. Only Rislav and Dorald survived. The throne fell to Dorald, who immediately ceded the kingdom to the Alessian Empire. Incensed, Rislav gathered a band of cavalry, rode for Skingrad, was allowed in without conflict by the city guards (who were equally upset at Dorald's actions), and beheaded Dorald. Rislav was quickly named King of Skingrad. However, Emperor Goreous (a fervent supporter of the Alessian Order) did not recognize Rislav and did not revoke Dorald's action. He rode with an army to Skingrad but was defeated by Rislav and his Colovian troops. It marked the beginning of the end of the Alessian Empire and the Alessian Order.
    • Martin Septim was a spare crossing over with Hidden Backup Prince. The bastard son of Emperor Uriel Septim VII, he was ferried away to a farm couple and later became a priest of Akatosh. When the Mythic Dawn assassinated Uriel VII and his legitimate heirs to kick off the Oblivion Crisis, Martin's actual parentage was revealed to him and his actions to end the crisis saved all of Tamriel.
  • Sparing the Aces:
    • The Blades got their start as the Akaviri Dragonguard, their original raison d'etre. Despite this, the Blades have, at times, opted to spare certain dragons. One such dragon was Nafaalilargus, due to his alliances with mortals. This was fortunate, as he would later come into the service of Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who would re-form the Blades after their previous dissolution.
    • Averted for Paarthurnax, however. Due to the atrocities he committed prior to his Merethic Era Heel–Face Turn, Blades leadership cannot let him live despite the aid he has given mortals. They request that the Last Dragonborn slay Paarthurnax, and refuse to continue to aid the Dragonborn until it is done.
  • Spark of the Rebellion: The Reachmen, the primitive in dress and technology tribal inhabitants of the Reach in western Skyrim, have been resisting any and all groups who attempt to claim the Reach dating all the way back to the First Tamriellic Empire thousands of years ago. During the 3rd Era Septim Empire and into the early 4th Era, they begrudgingly accepted Nord rule rather than risk the wrath of the Empire. When the crumbling Empire was preoccupied with the Great War, the Reachmen rose up and captured the city of Markarth. Though the Nords would drive them out, they reformed as the Forsworn and hold strong in the countryside of the Reach with their numbers swelling.
  • Speak of the Devil:
    • The Khajiit religion is heavily based around Nirn's two moons, Masser and Secunda. The moons even dictate which of 17 different sub-species a Khajiit cub will grow up to be, depending on which phases of the moons it was born under. However, the Khajiit recognize "dark spirits" known as "dro-m'Athra," who are represented by the inverse phases of the moons. The Khajiit refuse to speak of them.
    • Providing one knows the true name of a Dragon, if you invoke it via the Thu'um, it will hear you and may cause the Dragon to immediately fly to your location out of curiosity as it can be considered a challenge. It is not however guaranteed, as invoking the dragon's name gives you no power over it. In the 4th Era, the Greybeards summon the Last Dragonborn to High Hrothgar for training in a similar manner, calling forth the Dovahkiin so loudly the whole of Skyrim trembles. Notably, it works on Dragonborn the same way it does on dragons.
  • Spear Carrier: The semi-recurring character Jiub. In his first appearance in Morrowind, he only delivers ten short lines of dialog before you are separated from him for the rest of the game. However, being a shirtless, bald, one-eyed fellow prisoner made him popular enough with fans to generate countless Fan Fics and Game Mods which add him back into the game. Bethesda took notice and, in Oblivion, mention that became a Saint in Morrowind for driving the (much reviled) Cliff Racers to extinction. His spirit makes a cameo in Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, where he offers a sidequest in the Soul Cairn.
  • Spectral Weapon Copy: The Conjuration school of magic includes spells which can temporarily summon Daedric (the highest tier crafting material) weapons and armor. The drawback for these weapons is while they are powerful, especially in the early to mid-game where Daedric weapons are rare to non-existent and can be used in places where you lose your gear, you cannot improve them at all, as they are magical constructs rather than actual weapons.
  • Spell Crafting: Present in the series from Daggerfall through Oblivion. At a merchant capable of "spellmaking", you can combine the effects of any spells you already know. In general (with a few quirks depending on the specific game), you choose a spell's range (self, touch, or ranged), area of effect (single-target or Splash Damage), duration, and effects, then the game automatically assigns a Magicka cost depending on how powerful the spell is, theoretically maintaining game balance. In practice, it is hilariously easy to design game-breakingly powerful spells by combining synergistic effects such as Weakness to Fire + Fire Damage, or assigning a one-second duration to spells that increase the Persuasion skill (which only applies in dialogue, which pauses the game clock). There are so many spell combinations that it very quickly reaches Exponential Potential. Skyrim dropped this aspect to the disappointment of many fan who prefer playing as magically oriented characters.
  • Spell My Name with a "The":
    • The Red Baron of the Player Character in each game in the series to date has had one. To note: The Eternal Champion, The Agent, The Nerevarine, The Champion of Cyrodiil, The (Last) Dragonborn, The Soulless One.
    • The HoonDing is the Yokudan/Redguard spirit of perseverance over infidels and the "Make Way" god. The HoonDing has historically manifested whenever it is needed to "make way" for the Yokudan/Redguard people. It is almost always referred to as "The" HoonDing.
  • Spider People: Spider Daedra, which, as their name might imply, are a Spider People form of lesser Daedra. Physically, they appear as a naked humanoid torso attached below the waist to the abdomen, thorax, and legs of a Giant Spider. In Battlespire, they have masculine upper human bodies. In Oblivion and Online, they have feminine upper human bodies complete with Non-Mammal Mammaries.
  • Spiders Are Scary:
  • Spider Tank: The Dwemer-built Spider Centurion Mecha-Mooks are Fun Size Spider Tanks that appear in Dwemer ruins.
  • Spikes of Villainy:
    • Throughout the series, Daedric equipment tends to be very spiky. Daedric equipment is forged using ebony which has been in some way imbued with the souls of lesser Daedra. In each game where it is found, Daedric is typically the highest tier non-unique crafting material available. It is also the trademark gear of the Dremora, a sentient race of lesser Daedra typically found in service to Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction and one of the few Daedric Princes to be seen as almost wholly evil by the denizens of Tamriel.
    • Other spiky lesser Daedra include Daedroths, Hunger, Ogrim (in certain appearances), and the Morphoid Daedra of Battlespire.
    • dragons, creatures of aggression and domination for whom it's in their blood to be cruel and contemptuous, have naturally spiky appearances, some more so than others. Alduin, the World Eater, who is the "first born" of the dragons, is entirely black and spiky in appearance.
  • Spirit Advisor: This is part of the agreement the Nightingales make with Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night, who is also associated with Thieves and Luck. In life, Nocturnal grants the Nightingales immense power and freedom to do with it as they wish, on the condition that they always protect the Ebonmere, the conduit between her realm of Oblivion, Evergloam, and Mundus, the mortal plane. Deceased Nightingales then serve a "term" as the "spectral guardians" of the Ebonmere and Twilight Sepulcher, allowing them to communicate with the still-living Nightingales.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Spirit World: The series has several flavors of this trope. To note:
    • Aetherius is the realm of magic and is sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Plane", in contrast to Mundus, the mortal plane. It is thought to be the origin of the et'Ada, or "original spirits", who would go on to become the series' various deities. Most Tamriellic religions teach that, unless a soul is bound to the mortal world or claimed by another deity (such as a Daedric Prince), the souls of the deceased continue to live on in this realm as spirits. Magnus and the Magna-Ge ("Star Orphans"), et'Ada who abandoned the creation of Mundus after realizing how much of their divine power/very beings it would take, fled to Aetherius, punching holes in reality that would become the sun and stars. Magic is said to flow these holes into Mundus, allowing it to be used by mortals. It is possible for mortals to travel here, though it requires great effort. During the late 1st Era, the Reman Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion were in a "space race" to survey and claim parts of Aetherius. The efforts left the Empire with the Royal Imperial Mananauts, though many of the results of these expeditions have been lost to history.
    • Oblivion is the "infinite void" surrounding Mundus. The Daedric Princes make their home here, each having their own plane of Oblivion that is also part of their very being. There are said to be countless other realms of Oblivion as well, large and small, ruled by different beings or existing in pure chaotic states. Mortals who pledged themselves into the service of a specific Daedric Prince can have their souls claimed by the Prince in question. Their soul goes to the Prince's realm where they will serve the Prince for eternity. Souls can end up in one of the planes of Oblivion involuntarily as well, such as if they are slain by a specific weapon or die while afflicted by a certain disease.
    • The Soul Cairn is one of the planes of Oblivion, created and ruled by the Ideal Masters, formerly mortal sorcerers who entered Oblivion as Energy Beings through an unknown means. The Ideal Masters are most infamous for their trafficking in souls, especially "Black" sapient souls. All souls trapped in soul gems end up in the Soul Cairn and are considered property of the Ideal Masters. The Soul Cairn thus serves as an eternal prison to these souls, being damned to walk its desolate path for eternity. The Masters themselves see this as a blessing, seeing it as a place of eternal peace that removes souls from the Vicious Cycle of death and rebirth.
  • Spiteful A.I.:
    • The series has City Guards notorious for this behavior. They often won't lift a finger to help you if you're being assaulted by an NPC but, if you start the fight, they'll be on you to arrest you in no time flat. In the rare event they do intervene in a fight (such as if you lure a creature or monster into a town), they become a liability as accidentally striking them while fighting the enemy counts as an assault on them. Further, they will sometimes chase you all across the setting to attempt to arrest you for any crime. What's more, if you're caught stealing even a SINGLE Septim, the guards always seem to be right there waiting to yell "Stop right there, criminal scum!" and haul you off to prison. As overall improvements in AI technology have been made over the course of the series, guards have seen improvements as well, but it remains an issue.
    • Beyond the guards, most NPC enemies show an absurd lack of self preservation. Enemy mages will cast large area of effect spells while standing right next to you, often killing themselves in the process. Bandits and the like, even the weakest ones in line with Bullying a Dragon, will continue to attack you even after you've easily slaughtered their half dozen friends and it is clear they pose no serious threat to you. Retreat is never an option considered by the AI.
  • Split Personality:
    • The Aedra have oddly conflicting personality traits or govern over unusual combinations of spheres. Much of this can be traced back to St. Alessia's founding of the religion of the Eight Divines, which stitched together the classic Aldmeri pantheon her Nedic people were used to with the old Nordic pantheon of her Nord allies. Examples include Kynareth being the Goddess of the Air with a Friend to All Living Things slant while also being a Valkyrie and Psychopomp, and Stendarr being the God of Justice and... taking prisoners alive for ransom.
    • Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Aedra gets hit with it especially bad. To note:
      • As mentioned above, this applies to most of the Aedra. However, Akatosh gets it the most. This is taken to the point where Cyrodiilic stained glass and statuary depictions of him show that he has two heads, a dragon head and a human head.
      • Crossing over with Literal Split Personality and Pieces of God, In-universe speculation is that Alduin (and perhaps all dragons and Dragonborn) is more akin to a fragment of Akatosh's being rather than his son. (For what it's worth, Alduin disputes this claim.)
      • The Maruhkati Selective, an extremist sect of the already-extremist Alessian Order, tried to force this onto Akatosh by using powerful magics and the Staff of Towers to split the Aldmeri aspect of Auri-El from Akatosh. It's not clear if they actually succeeded, but their efforts ended up causing The Middle Dawn, the most extreme Dragon Break in history.
    • Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is a split personality of Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order. When the other Daedric Princes grew afraid of how powerful Jyggalag was becoming, they used their powers to curse him into becoming the very thing he hated the most. Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion ends with you splitting them into two separate and distinct beings by taking on the mantle of Sheogorath yourself.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: The situation for Jyggalag and Sheogorath prior to the events of Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion. Once per Era, Jygglag was allowed to retake control in an event known as the Greymarch. During this time, he would destroy the Shivering Isles. At that point, Sheogorath would resume control, and would be forced to rebuild in a Vicious Cycle. The Shivering Isles resolves this situation by splitting them into two separate and distinct beings by taking on the mantle of Sheogorath yourself.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation:
    • The "Bound Weapon" spells of the Conjuration school of magic allow the caster to temporarily summon a Spectral Weapon Copy of Daedric-class equipment.
    • In the series' lore, The Ansei ("Sword Saints"), an ancient order of elite Yokudan warriors (ancestors to the modern Redguard race), were said to be able to create swords from their very souls known as "Shehai". Their highest ranks were able to use these their Shehai as actual weapons, where they were said to be an "unstoppable weapon of great might." They could even be used to perform the Pankratosword technique, in which the Ansei would "cut the atomos" with their blade. It was considered a Dangerous Forbidden Technique and is now lost to history as a result. The numbers of Ansei faded after the Redguards arrived in Tamriel, and by the 4th Era, they (and their Shehai) are considered to be myths.
  • Spooky Silent Library: Apocrypha is the realm of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge. Apocrypha is a giant library said to contain all knowledge in the form of tomes. It is also filled with ghosts constantly seeking knowledge and Mora's Cthulhumanoid servants.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Dunmer became this as a race following Morrowind, which is set in their homeland. There are a number of factors at play, including their badass ashen skin/blood red eyes appearance, their Jack-of-All-Stats aptitude making them a versatile race to play as, their relatively unique and alien culture (compared to most of the other races which are largely either High Fantasy stereotypes [High Elves, Wood Elves, Orcs] or are clearly drawn almost directly from real life cultures [Imperials as Romans, Nords as Vikings, Redguards as Moorish Samurai, etc.]), the plentiful and extremely deep lore about them coming from fan favorite writer Michael Kirkbride, and numerous other factors. Regardless of the cause, the Dunmer became one of the most popular races in the ES community in subsequent games, and every later installment has included at least one (usually several) Dunmer-related plotlines. (In fact, while the main quest is primarily stand-alone, Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC otherwise serves as A Day in the Limelight episode for the state of the Dunmer people in the 4th Era.)
  • Sprint Meter: The series includes a Fatigue/Stamina meter in all games, which works somewhat differently between entries. Common between them, however, is that it drains when you sprint or use your weapons. Specifics by game can be found on the trope page.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Most games in the series, dating back to Daggerfall, go with a mixed approach. More recent titles in the series, as graphics technology has improved, use polygons for almost everything, while going with sprites for certain objects (like trees) at a distance in order to cut down on CPU processing. By adjusting the graphics settings in-game, you can make it so that sprites are almost never used (which requires more processing) or used entirely (which cuts way down on processing).
  • Spy Catsuit: The Dark Brotherhood armor (typically referred to as "Shrouded Armor") takes this appearance on female characters in most installments. On male characters, it looks more like Ninja armor.
  • The Spymaster: Basically any leader of the Blades, an Ancient Order of Protectors that has long served the Emperors of Tamriel as bodyguards and spies, has qualified throughout history. This was actually the title of the highest ranking Blade in each of the provinces during the height of the Third Empire.
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • For Player Characters in the series, this tends to start out as the case for "wizard" type characters but tends to become averted as they level up, following along with Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. Downplayed (after Daggerfall) due to their class/skill/leveling systems — the distinction between wizard-types and other-types are softer than in most other games. It is entirely possible to have what is otherwise a mage-type that uses heavy armor (which in Morrowind and Oblivion will also lead to the stat governing health being more advantageous and easy to increase). When it comes to Skyrim, the removal of the class system means that this trope is more something you grow into as you put more resources into magicka and your magical skills than something you start as.
    • In-universe, the Altmer have this as a racial trait. They are the most physically frail race on average, but also have the highest natural talents for magic. They do employ armed-and-armored soldiers as well, but each and every one of these soldiers uses magic as a supplement in combat, and still tends to be squishier (on average) than the standard rank-and-file soldiers of more combat oriented races, such as the Nords and Orcs.
    • The Bretons have this as a racial trait as well. While still a bit more hardy than Altmer, they are the most physically frail and most magically gifted of the races of Men. Notice that says "physically frail," as the Bretons have the highest resistance to magical attacks of any race — Man, Mer, or Beast. They make for excellent Magic Knights and Mage Killers as a result.
  • Sssssnaketalk: Argonians, particularly males, have elements of this when they speak. The in-game book series King Edward even describes the Argonian healer of the story as "a strange looking lizard-like man, who spoke with such a hissing accent that Edward couldn't understand him at all" ("I cannn fixxxx thissss, it'ssss cleeean"). Over the course of the series, this has become more and more downplayed, however. By Oblivion, Argonians speak at most with a long, raspy, reptilian drawl, but tone down the hissing. Skyrim removes it almost entirely with the exception of a hissing taunt during combat.
  • Stag Party: C0DA is a very Loose Canon story by former series writer Michael Kirkbride. Taking place in the far distant future of the ES universe, it is only very tangentially related to ES lore and has plenty of Kirkbride's signature New Weird, Mind Screwy style. In it, Jubal, the groom-to-be, has recently had his hands removed and is visited by Almalexia, the Hist, Kynareth, Akatosh, and Talos, who transforms into full-blown Lorkhan as they drunk-stumble from the club.
  • Stalking Mission: A few usually pop up in each game. In most cases, the AI is, shall we say, pretty lax about the whole "don't let them know you're following them" aspect. You can basically escort them to the designated location, helping them fight off hostiles and basically run laps around them, and they won't comment until the quest-appropriate time. Specific examples are available by game on the trope page.
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: The series, on the surface, is quite compliant with trope. Tamriel itself is a fairly typical Medieval European Fantasy setting. Functional Magic is present, along with most of its subtropes. There are Elves, Orcsnote , and several races of Men who draw from one or several real life cultures. The setting is also largely stuck in Medieval Stasis, with thousands of years passing but very little development in terms of society or technology. That said, digging deeper into the lore quickly reveals a number of non-compliant features, drawing heavily from the New Weird style in many places. Notable non-compliant elements include distinctly non-Tolkien Dwarves (the Dwemer), a very Alien Sky with usual cosmology, a "space race" into said sky, a Schizo Tech Physical God, a time-traveling divine Cyborg, and more. (Additional details are available on the trope page.)
  • Standard Hero Reward: The ancient Chimeri/Dunmeri hero Lord Indoril Nerevar got this. He started out as a caravan guard belonging to an irrelevant minor house, but rose to unite the Chimer (later Dunmer) people and formed an Enemy Mine with the rival Dwemer in order to save Morrowind from the invading Nords. He married Ayem (later the Goddess Almalexia), who was a high priestess belonging to Great House Indoril. (About as close as it gets to a princess for the Chimer.) Interestingly, he took Almalexia's house name of Indoril upon getting married.
  • Standard RPG Items: The series includes the vast majority of the standards items. Health Potions, Magicka Potions, Stamina/Fatigue Potions, Potions of "Cure ____" (Disease, Poison, Paralysis, etc.), Status Buff Items (which temporarily increase skills, attributes, magical resistances, etc.), and more. Scrolls (essentially one-time use spells) also exist for the majority of these effects. You can also create your own potions using the Potion-Brewing Mechanic and your Alchemy skill.
  • Standard Status Effects: The series has a number of recurring examples, including Poison, Plague (as Diseases), Paralysis, Silence, Berserk, Charm, Freeze, Blind, Fear, and a Weird Transformation.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: According to The Real Barenziah, Tiber Septim and the young Barenziah fit this trope, as they were like-minded souls who genuinely fell in love with each other. Though, of course, their relationship ended badly because as much as Tiber Septim loved Barenziah, he loved power more.
  • Star Power:
    • As part of Nirn's Alien Sky, the sun and stars are actually holes punctured between Mundus (the mortal realm) and Aetherius (the realm of magic) during the Dawn Era by Magnus and his et'Ada ("original spirit") followers (now known as the Magna Ge) when they realized that helping to create Mundus would severely weaken them and permanently bind them to it. Magic now flows into Mundus through the sun and stars, visible in the night sky as nebulae, which means that Nirn has literal star power behind its magic.
    • The extinct Ayleids believed that starlight was the most "sublime" form of magic, and venerated anything which fell from the heavens, particularly meteorite iron, which they would craft into their "Ayleid Wells" which channeled and restored magicka.
    • The Nedes, human ancestors to most of the modern races of Men, had the study and worship of the stars and constellations as a major part of their culture. They also worshiped beings known as "celestials." Exactly who or what they were is not known. (Theories posit that early forms of the Aedra, Magnus and the Magna Ge, or some other unknown set of divine beings are all possibilities.) Given that the Nedes were once slaves to the Ayleids, it is possible they picked up this cultural trait from them.
  • Starter Equipment: The series in general is pretty stingy in this regard, typically only giving you the clothes on your back and allowing you to pick up some low-end gear through the tutorial/tutorial dungeon. The only exception is Daggerfall which gives you some additional equipment based on the choices you make during character generation. (Logical, as it is the only main series game where you don't start off as a prisoner of some sort.)
  • State Sec: The Thalmor are, on a basic level, essentially a militarized, radical Altmeri political party with extremist religious and Secret Police elements. Following the devastating events of the Oblivion Crisis, the Thalmor (then only a marginal group) took the credit for resolving the Crisis within their homeland, winning them massive populist support. They quickly rose to the highest ranks of the Altmeri government and, through their machinations, started a domino effect which severely weakened the already crumbling Cyrodiilic Empire. The Thalmor seceded, annexed neighboring Valenwood, and reformed the Aldmeri Dominion of old. The Thalmor have their own military branch, complete with Professional Killer hit squads and wandering Magic Knight "Justicars" given free reign to arrest/murder "undesirables". Following the Great War between the Dominion and the remnants of the Empire, the White-Gold Concordat was struck with terms heavily favorable to the Dominion. Included is the ban on Talos worship throughout the Empire, the official dissolution of the Blades, and the right for the Thalmor to patrol the Empire enforcing these terms (and others). The Thalmor can be found throughout Skyrim and are mostly responsible for the Screw You, Elves! sentiment present in the population of Skyrim.
  • Stat Grinding: Present in some form in each game except for Arena. As you perform actions related to a certain skill, the more that skill will increase. For example, as you pick locks, your Security/Lockpicking skill will increase. If you cast Destruction spells, your Destruction skill will increase. Some games also count failed actions toward the skill increase as well (though they generally count less than successes). Additionally, it is possible to increase your skills by finding skill books and by paying NPC trainers.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: The series has the "Dispel" spell, typically classed under Mysticism, which has this effect. It can be used both to eliminate some Standard Status Effects on the Player Character or allies, as well as offensively as a Status Buff Dispel.
  • Stealing from the Hotel: You may choose to do this if you rent a room in an inn. Head inside, close the door, and take everything that isn't nailed down. No reprocussions result. (At least, prior to Skyrim, which adds the ability of the innkeeper to send hired goons after the player character, even if you weren't caught in the act.)
  • Stealing the Credit: Between the Oblivion Crisis and the events of Skyrim, the Thalmor, a militarized extremist religious sect seized power (riding a populist movement) within the Altmeri government, seceded from the Empire, annexed neighboring Valenwood (home of the Bosmer (Wood Elves), reformed the Aldmeri Dominion of old, and waged war on the Vestigial Cyrodiilic Empire. How did the Thalmor come to power in the first place? They took credit for ending the Oblivion Crisis within their homeland, which as anyone who played Oblivion knows, is a Blatant Lie. Later, they would also claim credit for resolving a crisis with Nirn's two moons which brought them Elsweyr (home of the Khajiit) as a client state. (The moons being sacred to the Khajiiti people.)
  • Stealth Expert:
    • Stealth has been present in the series since the very beginning, and became a skill in its own right as of Daggerfall. It is possible to make an effective "Stealth Expert" character, but the propensity for the games to require at least some combat to advance tends to make it border on Useless Useful Stealth. Additionally, the inherent randomness when it comes to NPC detection can make it very frustrating. Each game did thankfully make some improvements over the previous installments. Skyrim adds some major upgrades to the stealth system, allowing you to move undetected, even while running and wearing heavy armor. A high level perk means you can vanish into thin air by crouching, and that is without using Illusion magic that can make you truly invisible and silent. Skyrim also notably upgrades stealth combat, allowing for massive critical hit multipliers which have led to the "Stealth Archer" build becoming extremely popular.
    • In-Universe, the Bretons are considered among the greatest masters of stealth, seamlessly blending their propensity for Illusion magic with their race's talents in espionage to make for fantastic Nightblades (a "Magic Rogue" play on the Magic Knight trope). Brings with it elements of Gameplay and Story Segregation, however, as the Bretons are outclassed in terms of pure stealth ability in-game by the likes of the Khajiit, Bosmer, and Dunmer throughout the series.
    • Throughout the series, the legendary Ring of Khajiiti, a Daedric artifact associated with the Daedric Princes Mephala and Meridia, is basically an instant Stealth Expert upgrade artifact. It grants the wearer enhanced movement speed, silent movement, and outright invisibility. The Ring was said to have been stolen off the arm of Mephala by the legendary Khajiiti Impossible Thief, Rajhin.
  • Steam Punk: A prominent element in Dwemer technology, along with Magitek. Their ruins and creations are still up and running thousands of years later due to the Dwemer having altered the "Earth Bones," essentially the laws of nature and physics, to make their creations last. It has all become Lost Technology in the ages since, with none of the other races coming anywhere close to matching the accomplishments of the Dwemer.
  • Sticks to the Back: Throughout the series, whenever a weapon isn't being pulled from Hammerspace, it is this trope instead. Large two-handed weapons (claymores, battle axes, bows, etc.) typically just stick to the back, while smaller weapons like daggers and one-handed axes appear to be stuck to the hip. Starting with Oblivion, most one-handed swords gain a sheath, but these sheaths still appear to simply be stuck to the character's hip (and often clip through the character's leg when crouching).
  • Sticky Fingers: This is a cultural trait of the Khajiit. As their language has no word for "rules" and they take a rather loose view of what constitutes personal property, this is unusually Justified. In their culture, taking things that belong to others simply isn't seen as wrong. Unsurprisingly, this leads to significant Culture Clash with the other races who consider the Khajiit taking things to be "theft", and the Fantastic Racists of those races use it against the Khajiit to bar them from their cities and even to justify slavery. Additionally, Khajiit who've lived among other cultures have shown the ability to grasp the concept.
  • Stock Dinosaurs:
    • Throughout the series are Clannfear, a form of lesser Daedra with animalistic intelligence and the general appearance of raptors with ceratopsid frills and beaks. As Daedra, they are technically immortal beings who can manifest in any form they choose, and no reason is ever given for their appearance. As far as can be told, Nirn never had dinosaurs.
    • Nirn does have plenty of plenty of Pleistocene fauna, especially in the colder northern regions. You can encounter woolly mammoths, sabretoothed cats (called just sabrecats, for brevity) and cave bears.
  • Stock Gods: A number of the Aedra and Daedric Princes fit into these roles, along with other deities who don't fit neatly into either category. A full break down is available on the trope page.
  • The Stoic: This is Subverted by the Argonians. Other races believe Argonians to be this, assuming them to have no emotions or feelings. This is largely attributed to their lack of facial muscles needed to display human-like facial expressions. Anyone who pays attention to their voices can quickly deduce that this is simply not true. Even those who barely understand the languages of Men and Mer can have strong emotion in their voices.
  • Stone Wall: Orcs are this compared to the other races of Tamriel. Orcs are the best users of heavy armor in the setting and get the highest bonuses to their heavy armor skill. Thus, they are able to endure a level of punishment that would have killed anyone else dozens of times over. The Septim Empire specifically recruited Orcs to serve as elite heavy infantry in their Legions, and their success in this role helped them to become more accepted throughout the empire. Orcs also have an innate racial ability to activate a powerful Berserker Rage, which temporarily turns them into a Lightning Bruiser, allowing them to take and dish out massive amounts of damage.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Many non-Thalmor Altmer (including the the Psijic Order) are like this to the Thalmor. The Altmer in general are stereotyped (with some justification) as a haughty and snobbish race who looks down on the other races of Mer (Elves) while absolutely despising the races of Men. The Thalmor play these stereotypes Up to Eleven while considering any Altmer who do not support them to not be "true" Altmer.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability:
    • Early in the series, through Morrowind, the games follow an Anyone Can Die philosophy which, while fitting for an open world game, can easily lead to broken quests (including the main quest).
    • Starting with Oblivion, the series shifted to marking plot important characters as "Essential". Essential NPCs cannot be killed, only temporarily knocked out, giving them this form of invulnerability. (And in some cases, even after the NPC has played their part, the Essential tag isn't removed, leaving them permanently essential.) This can be abused by the player, such as keeping an Essential follower around by not completing their related quest. The follower will fight alongside the player indefinitely, with the worst that thing that can happen to them being temporarily knocked out.
  • Straw Fan: The series has M'aiq the Lair, a 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. Most of his comments are jokes about, rebuts, and insults toward fan complaints about elements which were changed or not included in the current game, some of which are in past installments.
  • Strictly Formula: Start with an epic title theme, then let the player customize the Featureless Protagonist, whose only backstory is being a convictnote . At the end of the Tutorial Level, the prisoner is released into the Wide Open Sandbox with a quest to Save the World and/or to prevent The Empire from crumbling. No matter how grand the task, Take Your Time is the policy (unless the mission comes with a specific time limit, and this only rarely happens) and every Weird Trade Union in the sandbox provides a Sidequest Sidestory at least as long as the main quest. At the end of the latter, the ex-convict receives a fancy title and conspicuously disappears from the series. Put a snappy one-word subtitle referencing the primary location of the game on it and you are done.
  • Stripped to the Bone: To permanently kill a dragon, you must first slay its physical form and then absorb its soul. While anyone of sufficient ability can do the former, only another dragon (or a Dragonborn) is capable of the latter. Failure to absorb a dragon's soul leaves open the possibility of it being resurrected in the future.
  • Stripperiffic:
    • Each game allows you to strip characters, including the Player Character, down to their irremovable underwear, with females wearing a bra and panties. However, should you do so with the player character, most NPCs will comment negatively and, depending on the game, may even refuse to speak with you in this state. Humorously, simply putting on a piece of jewelry (ring, necklace) or a piece of armor which doesn't cover your torso (boots, gloves) is enough to remove the "naked" flag from your character, allowing you to run around in your underwear without the game world reacting.
    • Naturally, Game Mods which allow full nudity are quite popular for each game in the series.
    • Recurring character Almalexia, a Dunmeri Tribunal deity, wears what amounts to a strapless bra, pauldrons, and a fairly sheer loincloth. Fitting, given that she plays up the Hot Godess trope.
  • Stronger with Age:
    • While there are some regional variations in exactly their powers work, vampires tend to play this straight. Throughout the series, vampires tend to be The Ageless (though if they go long periods without feeding, they tend to be come irrevocably insane and feral). Vampire "Ancients" are the oldest and strongest vampires in Tamriel. Vampire Lords are Tamriel's oldest vampires who received their vampirism directly from the Daedric Prince Molag Bal, the patron of vampires.
    • In terms of their religious beliefs, the Altmer invert this trope. They believe that the other "lesser" races of Mer are the result of "degeneration" over the ages, with each generation being weaker than the last as they are one more removed from their Aedric/Ehlnofey ancestors. The Altmer actively try to breed themselves back into their ideal, which, according to some sources, includes killing undesirable progeny. (In their minds, they are releasing the soul so it has a chance to be reincarnated in a better form.) And don't even get them started on the races of Men...
  • Stupidity-Inducing Attack: Throughout the series, there are spells for reducing the skills and attributes of the target; one such spell affects Intelligence. Such spells can either be cast or used to enchant items. Thus, a weapon could be enchanted to make the enemy more stupid each time it hits. (Useful for taking down enemy mages, for instance.)
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Crops up for a number of quests throughout the series, usually crossing over with But Thou Must!. Specific examples are available by game on the trope page.
  • Stylistic Suck: The series includes many, many In-Universe Books. Most either contain background info about the gameworld, some advance the plot, and some are there for amusement, many of the latter group falling into this trope. Particularly notable is "The Lusty Argonian Maid". It is a semi-pornographic plays featuring a main character very similar to the author attempting to get his "spear polished" by the titular Argonian maid. It is godawful, but is popular enough in-universe (and out) to have spawned a sequel, a Gender Flipped version for the ladies ("The Sultry Argonian Bard"), and each is still in publication over 200 years after the first one was written.
  • Succession Crisis:
    • The 1st Era Empire of the Nords collapsed in large part due to a succession crisis. High King Borgas, the last direct heir of Ysgramor, fell in battle. A "moot" was held among the Jarls of Skyrim to name a new High King, but they could not settle on a candidate. The War of Succession broke out, costing the Nords all of their territory outside of Skyrim, with Skyrim itself fractured into warring independent territories. It would take over 50 years for the crisis to end, with Olaf One-Eye being named High King via the Pact of Chieftains.
    • The War of the Red Diamond in the 3rd Era started as the result of such a crisis. After the death of Emperor Antiochus Septim, his 15 year old daughter Kintrya II took over as Empress. However, her aunt, the infamous "Wolf Queen" Potema, accused Kintrya of being a bastard and therefore illegitimate. Potema declared her son (nephew to Antiochus), Uriel III, as the rightful heir. Potema and Uriel were joined by the disgruntled leaders of several of the Empire's provinces in starting the war, as well as an alliance with the aforementioned Maormer, who invaded southern Tamriel, creating a two-front war for the strained Empire. Kintrya would be captured by Potema's forces and would die in captivity. However, her supporters, now led by her uncle Cephorus, would strike back and kill Uriel III, ending his claim to the throne. Cephorus would take over as Emperor, defeat most of Potema's forces, and then kill Potema herself after a protracted 10 year insurgency. It was the largest conflict the 3rd Empire of Tamriel had faced since it was founded. (And would remain as such until the Oblivion Crisis.)
    • The Oblivion Crisis was kicked off when members of the Mythic Dawn cult assassinated Emperor Uriel Septim VII and his legitimate heirs. This succession crisis is compounded by the fact that the forces of Oblivion are no longer magically impeded from invading Cyrodiil due to the lack of a Septim emperor on the throne. Luckily, it turns out that Uriel VII had a bastard son, Martin, who is now the rightful heir to throne. Martin is quickly accepted by the relevant authorities (the Elder council and the Blades), but ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice to end the Oblivion Crisis.
    • As a result of Martin's sacrifice, another succession crisis occurs. High Chancellor Ocato is named Potentate (a reserve title which can be granted by the Elder Council, effectively establishing a permanent regency), but is soon assassinated by Thalmor assassins, seeking to destabilize the Empire to make way for the rebirth of the Aldmeri Dominion. War breaks out again as several local powers jockey for the Ruby Throne, eventually ending with the Colovian warlord Titus Mede claiming it. The period is known as the Stormcrown Interregnum, since Potentate Ocato's rule is an extension of the Septim Empire (and Tiber Septim was anointed "Stormcrown" by the Greybeards).
    • The 4th Era Skyrim Civil War also revolve in part around a succession crisis. Shortly before the war, pro-independence Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak challenged High King Torygg to a duel for his throne. It is an archaic but legitimate practice among the Nords. Stormcloak wins by using the Thu'um to kill Torygg. Victorious, Stormcloak and his followers feel that he should be the named the new High King of Skyrim. The Jarls of Skyrim, who vote for the new High King, are torn due to Stormcloak's use of the Thu'um being seen as cheating. Eastern Skyrim secedes under Stormcloak's leadership, while western Skyrim (backed by the Empire) support Torygg's widow, Elisif, for the throne, leading to Civil War.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Going along with his extreme Mood-Swinging, this is a prominent trait of Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness.
    Sheogorath: "Since you're standing here, I assume you've succeeded. Or you're terribly confused. OR REALLY LACKING IN GOOD JUDGMENT!"
  • Suddenly Voiced: Dremora, a humanoid form of lesser Daedra typically found in service to the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, were voiceless prior to Oblivion. They did get some "voice" characterization in the form of text dialogue in Morrowind, laying the roots for their later "Hammy-ness", but didn't have any actual voiced lines. Oblivion ramps up their hammy qualities, while also giving them spoken lines. They have very deep, very "outdoor" voices. Skyrim takes it even further, keeping their past vocal traits while uttering them in the most over-the-top way possible.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome:
    • Hermaeus Mora, Daedric Prince of Knowledge, in Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC. In previous appearances, including vanilla Skyrim, Mora is always a neutral entity, though he could be a bit ruthless in achieving his goals. In Dragonborn, he orchestrates everything that happens, putting millions of innocent lives at risk, just to obtain the "secrets" of the Skaal.
    • In a case of sudden prequel heel syndrome, Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is much more malevolent and sinister than he ever was before in Online's Mages Guild arc.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Dwemer, though long since disappeared by the time the series takes place, are essentially the fantasy equivalent. They looked down on the other mortal races for their superstitious beliefs that the Aedra and Daedra were truly gods worth worshiping. The tools and technologies they left behind are still used by the more clever denizens of Tamriel to accomplish feats that conventional technologies and magics cannot match, and no particularly detailed explanation for how they did it has ever been given. They were known to bend the laws of time/physics in order to make their creations last for millennia. Want to tap into the divine powers of a dead god? The Dwemer made tools for that. Want to read an Elder Scroll without all of the nasty side effects? The Dwemer made a machine for that. Want to crush your enemies with a Reality Warping Humongous Mecha? The Dwemer just so happened to leave a complete and functioning one behind.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic:
    • The Dwemer excelled in this. The tools and technologies they left behind are still used by the more clever denizens of Tamriel to accomplish feats that conventional technologies and magics cannot match. Some examples include creating the tools necessary to tap into the divine powers of the heart of a dead god, machinery capable of safely reading an Elder Scroll without the nasty side effects, a reality-warping Humongous Mecha in working order, and a fully-functional Weather-Control Machine.
    • The Psijic Order is a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel. Through thousands of years of intensive study in the nature of magic, they have become able to utilize it in ways (and on a scale) that 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. No group (save for perhaps the extinct Dwemer) can match these abilities.
    • There are a number of other academic institutions dedicated to the study of magic, such as the Arcane University in the Imperial City, or the College of Winterhold in Skyrim, both of which cross over with being Wizarding Schools. Each is dedicated to the study and application of the nature of magic in a rather scientific fashion, including classifying magic into various "schools".
  • Suicidal Overconfidence:
    • The series in general plays it straight with monsters and hostile NPCs, as they rarely flee from combat. It was unheard of in Arena and Daggerfall, but as the AI improved over the course of the series, some exceptions have popped up. (These can be found listed by game on the trope page.)
    • Enemies who are knocked down by attacks or knocked unconscious due to a loss of Fatigue/Stamina will spring right back to battle as soon as they recover, even if they haven't yet landed a strike of their own.
    • Generally played straight throughout the series by followers and escorts where it crosses over with Leeroy Jenkins, leading some notoriously difficult Escort Missions. You'll be quite thankful when you have the option to tell a non-essential escort to "wait here" while you clear out the path ahead.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Summon Magic (under the Conjuration school of magic), Necromancy (also under Conjuration), and Command/Rally creatures or humanoids all exist as spells, powers, and/or racial abilities throughout the series which allow you to perform invoke this trope. You can use these powers to, for example, summon a lesser Daedra or an Atronach to even the odds in a fight. Or use a spell to bring a dead enemy back to life on your side, or command that nearby bear to fight on your side.
  • Summon Magic: Covered by the magical school of Conjuration where there are two primary forms, Creature Summoning and Item Summoning. Creature Summoning takes a creature from somewhere else (often Oblivion) and brings it in front of the caster, under their control, for a fixed duration of time. Item Summoning combines this with Spontaneous Weapon Creation and Spectral Weapon Copy to summon powerful weapons and armor for a fixed duration. The series also includes permanently summoned undead and Daedra, usually by sorcerers or necromancers. It's implied to require rituals that the player is unable to perform.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Generally averted throughout the series. The early games essentially treat going into the water the same as running. The only differences are that your character "bobs" up and down in water, and you cannot use weapons. Starting with Morrowind, the series allows you to swim across the surface without issue, but going underwater brings up an Oxygen Meter. When it depletes, you start taking damage rather quickly. (Skyrim hides the oxygen meter, but the concept is still present.) Each of these games also play with the Soft Water trope. Fall damage is only applied when you hit the bottom of a body of water. This means that, as long as the water is deep enough, you can survive a fall from any height without taking damage.
  • Superhero Sobriquets: The Player Characters throughout the series get these, crossing over with Red Barons and leading to Only Known by Their Nickname situations in later games.
  • Superhero Trophy Shelf: The games throw far more artifacts and other items of power and significance at the player than they conceivably have a use for, and many players like to keep mementos of tough kills and hard-won quest rewards. Starting with the series' 3D Leap in Morrowind, it is possible to fill up whatever place you call home with these treasures and put them on display. However, the physics engine introduced in Oblivion and present in Skyrim, makes it far harder to display more than a few of these items, as trying to place one item next to another will usually knock the already placed item out of place, if not send it flying across the room. Thankfully, many Game Mods exist for all of these games which make this process far easier, including full on dedicated trophy room mods.
  • Superior Species:
    • Each race of Mer (Elves) in Tamriel believes this about themselves, but the Altmer (High Elves) really play it up. They see themselves as the closest in blood and culture to the Aldmer, Precursors to all of the races of Mer and supposed direct descendants of the Aedra/Ehlnofey, the divine "original spirits" who created and first populated the mortal world. The Altmer believe that the other races of Mer are a result of "degeneration" over the ages (and don't even get them started on the races of Men...), while the Altmer actively try to breed themselves back to their ancestral ideal (which includes killing off any undesirable offspring). Come the 4th Era reformation of the Aldmeri Dominion under the leadership of the extremist Thalmor, the Altmer have kicked this belief into overdrive, subjugating the Bosmer (Wood Elves) and Khajiit while waging war against the remnants of the Septim Empire.
    • The Dwemer certainly considered themselves as such, with every other race (Men, Mer, or otherwise) being beneath them. A big part of their Naytheism came from their belief that even the supposed "gods" were not truly superior to them. Arguably Justified, as their advancements (technological, metaphysical, and more) were (and still are) far, far beyond what any other race in Tamriel is capable of.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: The Fighters Guild, an organization of "warriors-for-hire" that operates throughout most of Tamriel, does not have a presence in Skyrim. Instead, Skyrim is served in a similar capacity by the Companions, a group who traces their origins back to the original 500 Companions of Ysgramor.
  • Super Mode:
    • Throughout the series, Orcs have a racial ability which allows them to activate a Berserker super mode for a short time once per day. Their ability to dish out and take damage increases significantly.
    • Throughout the series, vampirism and lycanthropy play with it. While each no doubt greatly increases the strength and abilities of the infected, it tends to enter Awesome, but Impractical and Blessed with Suck territory. While the exact details for vampires vary from game to game, making it more or less useful depending on the game, werewolves tend to Subvert it to the point of being a Useless Useful Spell due to the inability to use healing potions or gear.
  • Supernatural Aid:
    • Frequently occurs during the main quest of each game throughout the series, as well as the main quests of most major expansions and DLCs. In most cases, the deity in question provides a power or an artifact (sometimes both) required by player character to succeed.
    • The entire point of the Daedric quests throughout the series is to gain this, usually in the form of a Legendary Weapon or other powerful artifact, by doing a favor for one of the Daedric Princes.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: The aptly named "Fear" spell makes the target flee from anything hostile to them for the duration of the spell.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes:
    • This is a trait of Dremora in certain games. (Other games give them red or black eyes instead.)
    • Golden Glowing Eyes are a trait of Vampires, though it is implied that this is a trait which is Invisible to Normals, and can only be seen by certain other supernatural beings (such as the Dragonborn, who has an immortal Aedric soul).
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills:
    • The Argonians have this as a racial ability. Argonians can breathe water just as easily as air, and are known to use this as a guerrilla warfare tactic, dragging their foes underwater and drowning them. Argonians are also known to make encampments underwater, which are obviously hard for non-Argonians to attack.
    • Throughout the series, the Water Breathing spell is available to allow non-Argonians to do this. It also comes as an effect in potions and enchantments, allowing non-mages to use it.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Played straight throughout the series with predatory creatures (bears, wolves, big cats, etc.) as well as more "monstrous" enemies including trolls, ogres, and cliff racers. The fact that the majority of the games in the series have More Predators Than Prey makes this trope all the more apparent as well.
  • Superpower Disability: The eponymous Elder Scrolls are a cross between Tomes of Elditch Lore and Tomes of Prophecy and Fate. Referred to as "Fragments of Creation," the Scrolls are of unknown origin and number which simultaneously record past, present, and future events irrefutably; what did happen, what could have happened, what might yet happen. As such, a reader can gain immense knowledge by reading the scrolls, and even predict the future to a degree. However, without proper training, merely glancing at one will cause immediate blindness, and even with said training (such as the kind members of the Cult of Ancestor Moth receive), a reader will gradually lose their sight with each reading until they're completely blind. (Essentially a play on the Blind Seer trope.)
  • Superpowered Evil Side: In Battlespire, this is a trait of the Dark Seducers. Also known as Mazken, Dark Seducers are an intelligent race of lesser Daedra typically found in service to the Daedric Prince Sheogorath. They are more humble and sympathetic toward mortals, having less of a Puny Earthlings attitude toward them than most lesser Daedra. However, they are also known to Fight For The Strongest Side, quickly switching allegiances if it becomes beneficial to them. The group of Dark Seducers fought in Battlespire betrayed their former master (a lieutenant of Nocturnal) to side with Big Bad Mehrunes Dagon when he promised them greater power. They were rewarded by being remade in the image of Dagon's own greed and treachery - becoming not only physically stronger, but also gifted with powerful bat-winged forms. In later appearances, they lack this form, but are still powerful and intelligent lesser Daedra akin to Dremora and Golden Saints.
  • Super Smoke:
    • In the series' lore, this is a trait of some vampire bloodlines. Turning into a cloud of mist is an ability of the Keerilth vampire bloodline in Valenwood.
    • This is an ability possessed by Vampire Lords at night.
  • Super Speed: The Ring of Khajiiti is said to bestow this power (along with silent movement and invisibility) on its wearer. However, it brings with it some Gameplay and Story Segregation in terms of the power it offers. According to legend, the Khajiiti Impossible Thief Rajhin was able to move "quick as the wind" while wearing it. In-game, it just provides a solid boost to the wearer's movement speed, but not to the level of "super" speed.
  • Super Spit: Lurkers are a fish-like species of lesser Daedra in service to Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge. In addition to their powerful physical attacks and Combat Tentacles, they can spray acid from their mouths as a form of attack. The acid continues to damage targets for several seconds after initial impact.
  • Super Weight: The scale applies to the figures in the series, ranging from non-hostile wildlife at the bottom to truly unknowable deities at the top. A full break down is available on the trope page.
  • Supporting Leader: It's common throughout the series to have at least one of these during the main quest. You may be The Chosen One hero who is the only person capable of Saving the World, but you'll need the support (direct or implied) of the leaders of the land in which the game takes place in order to succeed. Specific examples listed by game can be found on the trope page.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Pops up in some questlines throughout the series, particularly ones focused around a NPC companion (such as the main quest of Oblivion revolving around Martin and Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC revolving around Serana).
  • Supreme Chef: Bretons are established in lore to be the best cooks in Tamriel. Given the race's propensity toward snarkiness and occasional Jerkassery, as well as medieval France making up part of their Culture Chop Suey, they can be the ES universe equivalent of a French Jerk. In a particular Skyrim quest where the you must impersonate a mysterious master chef, a Breton player character will draw comments from a NPC about being "too obvious".
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Throughout the series, you can find skill trainers who will automatically increase your skills for money (as opposed to having to Level Grind them yourself). Depending on the game, these skill trainers can only train you to match their own skill level, or to their own "rank" (Apprentice, Journeyman, etc.). Further, the higher your skill level/rank, the more expensive each session of training is. (High level skill training can be prohibitively expensive, costing thousands of gold with each level.) If you ask them for training once you've exceeded their skill level or rank, they will invoke this trope and tell you that there is nothing more they can teach you in that skill. Most games also include "Master Trainers" (usually one for each skill), who can train you to extremely high levels in that skill. However, they're often extremely difficult to find, are sometimes members of factions who only offer their services to fellow (often high-ranking) members of their faction, and/or may require you perform a quest for them before they'll train you.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Just about every swamp in Tamriel, from the Black Marsh to the Bitter Coast of Morrowind to the cold marshes of the Hjaalmarch in Skyrim, has connotations of danger and darkness. How true it is varies (the native Argonians certainly don't think the Black Marsh is a bad place) but most are home to higher numbers of dangerous critters, undead or otherwise unholy creatures, and those living outside of the law than the surrounding areas.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Barenziah, the future Queen of Morrowind, ran away from her Imperial loyalist foster family as a teen by disguising herself as a boy. She continued to pose as a boy for some time after in order to avoid detection.
  • Sweet Tooth: This is a trait of the Khajiit race. The entire race has a known sweet tooth, especially toward the Fantastic Drug Moon Sugar (which is sacred to them). Also rather ironic, given that Real Life felines can't taste sugar at all.
    "The food of Elsweyr is invariably sweet; candies, cakes, puddings, and sugarmeats are the staples of the Khajiit diet, and travelers to Elsweyr are cautioned against partaking of any of the native food."
  • Sword Fight: The Imga, a race of intelligent "ape men" native to Valenwood, practice these with dueling swords in an attempt to impress the Altmer, who the Imga idolize.
  • Sword of Damocles: In the distant past, Mad God Sheogorath hurled a rogue moon (Baar Dau) at the newly built Egopolis of the Dunmeri Tribunal Deity Vivec. Vivec saved the city by freezing the moon high above it, but then invoked this trope. He told his followers that the moon was held in place by their love for him, and that if they should stop loving him, it would fall. Due in no small part to the player's actions in Morrowind, Vivec disappears early in the 4th era. Some temporary measures are enacted to keep the moon in place, including the use of a a soul-burning machine. However, those attempts prove futile, and the moon falls with it's original momentum, causing province-wrecking results. Even 200 years later, the waters where the city once stood are still boiling.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement:
    • Generally averted in the main quests of the series since, due to the openness of the games, your character may be utterly lacking in the skills needed to use the weapon in question. Two Subversions occur in the Tribunal and Dawnguard DLCs, where you are required to reforge/acquire a specific weapon (the Flaming Sword Trueflame and the Sacred Bow Auriel's Bow, respectively). However, the related quests are completed once you've done so and there is no requirement that you must actually use the weapons. (Though they are extremely useful if you choose to do so.)
    • Played straight in some faction questlines, though there, it is reasonable to assume that you'll have the skills necessary to use it since they fall within the skills favored by the faction.
  • Sycophantic Servant: This is commonly a trait of the members of the Dark Brotherhood, an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil dedicated to Sithis, the embodiment of the primeval force of chaos. They are led by the Night Mother, an unholy matron said to be the "wife" of Sithis who communicates targets for assassination to the Listener.


Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback