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

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The Elder Scrolls - Tropes T to U

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  • Tactical Door Use: Subverted throughout most of the series. Though the doors are indestructible, humanoid enemies are typically smart enough to turn the knob. Additionally, open doors may provide cover when fighting enemy ranged attackers in an empty room, leading to a case of Concealment Equals Cover in cases where the door should not be able to stop an arrow or a spell.
  • Tagline: "Live another life, in another world."
  • Take a Third Option:
    • There are several situations throughout the series in which you can do this in order to resolve a quest, with this option often giving you the best possible outcome. Specific examples are listed by game on the trope page.
    • The Tsaesci are an Akaviri race of supposed "Snake Vampires". However, sources conflict greatly over whether they are indeed serpentine or are humans not all that different from those in Tamriel. A third explanation states that since the "races" of Akavir share their names with the name of their nation, it's possible that they aren't one single "race," but multiple races living within those nations. The "Tsaesci" could include serpentine snake vampires as well as the former Men of Akavir and/or their cross bred descendants.
    • The ancient Falmer (Snow Elves) were faced with a Sadistic Choice - extermination at the hands of Ysgramor and his 500 Companions or accept the terms of their Dwemer cousins for protection, which included blindness, enslavement, and mutation (both of the physical variety and of their very souls). While most of the Falmer race chose the latter option, a small population was able to survive in hiding at the extremely remote Chantry of Auri-El without the "aid" of the Dwemer.
    • There is significant debate in-universe (and out) about the life of Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who ascended after his death as Talos, the Ninth Divine. Orthodox Imperial history states that he was born Talos Stormcrown, a Nord, in Atmora, and heroically rose to the position of Emperor of the first truly pan-Tamriellic Empire. Other sources, considered heretical, instead say that he was born Hjalti Early-Beard, a Breton, in High Rock. He was a shrewd politician and master manipulator who rode his many powerful friends to the title of Emperor and backstabbed them the moment it became convenient. However, a third option exists: The latter "heretical" story was true, but after his apotheosis, the deity Talos used his power to literally rewrite history, making the former true as well or instead. There is also kind of/sort of a fourth option relating to this: the Merger of Souls theory regarding Talos' ascension made the deeds of the multiple individuals who make up Talos all seem to have been done by one individual.
  • Take Over the World: Nearly every Big Bad in the series (expansions and DLCs included) is planning this in some fashion, though all have some Omnicidal and/or Eldritch slants to their plans once the world is taken over. Specific examples are listed by game on the trope page.
  • Takes One to Kill One: Dragons are ageless beings with divine souls, akin to highly destructive angels. While anyone of sufficient ability can slay the physical form of a dragon, permanently killing one requires absorbing its soul, something only beings who also have dragon souls can do. In order to serve as a natural predator to the functionally immortal dragons, Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Nine Divines Pantheon, created the Dragonborn, rare mortals gifted with the immortal souls of dragons. Naturally, dragons see these "Dovahkiin" as Humanoid Abominations for what they are capable of.
  • Take That!: M'aiq the Liar is the series' recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character. M'aiq is a known a Fourth-Wall Observer (and Leaner and Breaker) who voices the opinions of the series' creators and developers, largely in the form of Take Thats, to the audience, rival games, and even Bethesda itself.
    M'aiq: "People always enjoy a good Fable. M'aiq has yet to find one, though. Perhaps one day."
  • Take That, Audience!: M'aiq the Liar, once again. Many of his comments are snarky Straw Fan-like comments regarding features that fans have wanted in the series, elements from past games that were removed from later games, or is commenting on features Bethesda finally delivered after years of fan demand.
  • Take Your Time: Throughout the series, this is played straight with very few exceptions in line with the series' Wide Open Sandbox nature. Even as the Big Bad stands ready to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, there is no harm in taking 20 hours to finish that faction questline or collect those 20 Bear Asses for that trader in that remote village. The only exceptions are quests which give you as specific time limit, and these are very few and far between (especially in the main quests).
  • Taking You with Me:
    • One from the series' primary Creation Myth: 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".
    • This is one of the explanations of why Yokuda, a continent to the west of Tamriel and original home of the Redguards, sank beneath the sea in the 1st Era. According to this explanation, the destruction of Yokuda was a result of the actions of the Hiradirge, a defeated band of Ansei. Ansei, or "Sword Saints," were an ancient Yokudan order of warriors who follow "The Way of the Sword," a martial philosophy on blade mastery. So great was their mastery of the blade that they could manifest a sword from their very soul, known as a Shehai or "Spirit Sword." Using their Shehai, the Ansei could perform the "Pankratosword" technique, in which they could "split the atomos". In revenge for their defeat, the Hiradirge used the Pankratosword technique to destroy Yokuda and caused it to sink beneath the sea. The Pankratosword was then considered a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, and likely lost to history as a result.
    • Wulfharth Ash-King, the legendary ancient King of the Nords and noted Shezarrine who has died and come back to life at least three times, became the Mysterious Backer known as the "Underking" to Tiber Septim after he was Refused by the Call in favor of Septim. The Underking would continue to aid Septim in his conquests, until Septim agreed to the peaceful vassalization of Morrowind. The Underking considered this a betrayal that legitimized the Dunmeri Tribunal, so he left Septim. As part of the Armistice with Morrowind, Septim acquired the Dwemer-constructed Numidium. Requiring an immensely powerful power source, Septim's Imperial Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, lured the Underking into a trap. When Arctus ambushed and soul-trapped Wulfharth in the Mantella in order to power the Numidium, Wulfharth killed Arctus with his "dying breath" and as a result of his final actions, possibly merged the two into the same "Underking" being.
  • Talkative Loon: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, frequently fits. While he's capable of somewhat coherent conversation (the specifics of the quests he gives are usually decipherable), he's prone to outbursts on completely random tangents.
    "Wonderful! Time for a celebration! Cheese for everyone! Wait, scratch that! Cheese for no one! That could be just as much of a celebration if you don't like cheese, true?"
  • Talking Animal:
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Throughout much of the series, engaging in conversation with a NPC effectively freezes time around you. This occurs even if you are in the middle of battle surrounded by enemies. Because game time is frozen, this also has the consequence of making the effects of spells/potions/enchantments with set durations freeze as well. You can, for example, create a fairly cheap spell which boosts your Personality attribute or Speechcraft skill by a large amount for one second. The short duration will make it cheap to create and cheap to cast (in terms of Magicka). However, enter a conversation, and the effect will persist for the entire duration, allowing you to be a Charm Person and get whatever you need from that person. (Skyrim changes how this works, with the game world still going on around you while in conversations. While more realistic, it opens up the possibility of you and the person you are talking to being attacked during the conversation.)
  • Talk to Everyone:
    • Downplayed in Arena and Daggerfall, where Non Player Characters make use of database dialogue. As such, only quest important NPCs have anything unique to say.
    • Played straight starting with Morrowind. There are thousands of additional lines of dialogue per game and, while you'll still get quite a few repetitive responses, it's the best way to uncover quests, get helpful advice, and get information to fill in the deep Backstory. Fully voiced dialogue, starting with Oblivion, is both a blessing and a curse in this regard. It's a blessing because nearly every named NPC will have at least one unique piece of dialogue. But it's also a curse because having to voice every bit of dialogue costs money for voice actors and the sound files add to the size of the game file. This still leads to a TON of repeats and situation inappropriate dialogue.
  • Tautological Templar:
    • This is a trait of Meridia, a Daedric Prince whose sphere is obscured to mortals, but is associated with Life Energy, Light, and Beauty. She is considered one of "good" (or at least benevolent) Daedric Princes by most mortals, but definitely has a number of Good Is Not Nice traits. She is very much a Knight Templar toward anything undead, as well as any other entities of cruelty, darkness, rot, filth, or decay. Thus, she will stop at nothing to destroy them, even if it means causing collateral damage to innocent people or her own followers, bordering on being a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Because of this, she feels that any actions she takes is therefore good and anyone who opposes or abandons her is evil. She will thus deal with them appropriately.
    • The Alessian Order was a rabidly anti-Elven religious sect which established a Theocracy in the 1st Era that wielded nearly as much power as the Emperor at its height. They taught that resisting the Order was equivalent to resisting the gods themselves.
  • Teaser Equipment: Generally averted throughout the series, largely due to the use of Level Scaling for equipment. Most shops sell from a list of semi-randomized inventory based on the player's level. Morrowind provides a major exception, being the only game in the series to date which doesn't use heavy level-scaling in this way. As such, many shops have a piece or two of late-game level equipment no matter how early you visit them, but you'll almost certainly be unable to afford it at that point.
  • Tech Demo Game: Starting with the series' 3D Leap in Morrowind, every game since has combined a massive world with graphics (especially Scenery Porn) that push their systems to the limits of their technical abilities.
  • Technical Pacifist:
    • The Imperial Cult, which preaches the religion of the Nine Divines in regions where it is not the dominant religion, are typically non-violent. Their only combative skills are the hand-to-hand and blunt weapon skills. This draws from the real life Catholic clergy during the Middle Ages, who could fight in battles but were not allowed to use bladed weapons as they were forbidden to draw blood.
    • The Greybeards, masters of the Thu'um, practice a strict policy of non-intervention in worldly affairs, and of studying the Voice only as a way to honor the gods. This policy was established by their founder, Jurgen Windcaller, who himself was a Badass Pacifist. He served as a Tongue (master of the Thu'um) in the ancient Nord armies, but was present for their crushing defeat at Red Mountain. He fell into Heroic BSoD despair and meditated until he concluded that the defeat was punishment from the gods for misusing the Thu'um. He would inspire the "Way of the Voice", preaching pacifism and the use of the Thu'um only to honor the gods. That said, they Greybeards have no issue using the Thu'um in self-defense if the need arises.
  • Technicolor Blade: Among the series' standard weapons (made out of Fantasy Metals), Dwemer (Dwarven) weapons are bronze/gold, Ebony are a dark purplish/gray, Glass are bright iridescent green, and Daedric are red and black. The Legendary Weapon Goldbrand is, as one would espect, gold in color.
  • Tech Points: Throughout much of the series, you gain skill points toward increasing your skills by successfully using them. (For example, if you sneak around a lot, your Sneak skill will increase. Cast Destruction class spells and your Destruction skill will increase. Hit things with a sword and your Blade/Long Blade/One-Handed skill will increase. Etc.) After 10 increases of your major/minor skills (set during character creation at the beginning of the game), you will gain a Character Level. This allows you to increase a few of your Attributes (Strength, Intelligence, etc.), with multipliers based on the Attributes which govern the skills you leveled up. (For example, if you increased your Heavy Armor skill 5 times, you'll have a 5x multiplier for the Endurance attribute which governs it.) Unfortunately, if you aren't careful to max out your multipliers and level inefficiently, you may end up experiencing Empty Levels. Skyrim overhauls the system pretty significantly. Leveling up by increasing skills remains the same, however, Attributes are removed. Instead, when you level up, you choose to give a 10 point increase to your Health, Magicka, or Fatigue. Further, Skyrim borrows the idea of "Perks" from its Bethesda sister series, Fallout. For every level, you may choose one Perk in any of the skill trees which will further increase your proficiency in that skill. The higher your skill score in that skill tree, the more perks you have access to select.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Aedric Nine Divines pantheon, was in this situation with Pelinal Whitestrake during the Alessian Revolt. Pelinal was sent by the Divines to be Alessia's champion, but he could always feel Akatosh's burning gaze upon him. With Pelinal believed to have been a Shezarrine, a physical incarnation of Lorkhan's (the "dead" creator god of Mundus, the mortal plane) spirit, this makes a degree of sense as Akatosh/Auri-El considered it a "moment of weakness" when he went with Lorkhan's plan to create Mundus and likely still harbors a grudge. When Pelinal went too far in one of his berserker fits of rage and damaged the lands themselves, Akatosh and the other divines nearly left Mundus in disgust until they were placated by Alessia. Eventually, Alessia's forces won, Pelinal was cut to pieces by the Ayleids, and Akatosh became the patron deity of Alessia's new empire of Men.
  • Telepathy:
    • The long-extinct Dwemer were said to have an ability known as "The Calling" which allowed them a "silent and magickal" means of communicating with one another, even over vast distances.
    • The Psijic Order, a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel, is stated to have this ability as well, though due to their secretive nature, aren't keen on sharing the secret of how it is done. They also possess a number of other abilities unmatched by any other extant group in Tamriel, including Astral Projection, the ability to Freeze Time, and even a limited form of clairvoyance and sight into future events.
  • Teleport Spam: In series' lore, this is an ability of the Montalion vampire clan in the Iliac Bay region.
  • Temple of Doom: Various "temple"-like ruins are a common dungeon type throughout the series including Daedric, Ayleid, and Nord barrow varieties.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: Morrowind and Oblivion have torches, but these only burn for a finite, usually short amount of time. The same goes for spells (such as Light and Night Eye) which also have a finite duration. Skyrim averts it by making all torches infinite.
  • Testing Range Mishap: Unsurprisingly common given the amount of reckless mages throughout the series testing out their latest spells and artifacts. Specific examples by game are available on the trope page.
  • Thanatos Gambit: In the series primary Creation Myth, Lorkhan convinced/tricked some of his fellow et'Ada ("original spirits") into sacrificing large portions of their divine power to create Mundus, the mortal plane. In revenge for this perceived treachery, these other et'Ada (now known as "Aedra") "killed" Lorkhan, tore his divine center ("heart") from his body, and cast it down into the mortal world he helped to create where his spirit would be forced to wander. However, according to some versions of the myth, Lorkhan knew that the other et'Ada would "kill" him for his perceived treachery, and planned for this, allowing his soul to become a driving force on the Mundus. Other sources indicate that he submitted to this punishment voluntarily.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Pops up in dialogue throughout the series. For example, a possible response to a successful taunt in Morrowind is "that makes me feel...angry" while characters who have a low disposition toward you in Oblivion may comment "your presence annoys me".
  • The Theocracy:
  • There Are No Coincidences: A common theme throughout the series. Given that the series gets its surtitle from prophetic Tomes Of Eldritch Lore, this shouldn't be too surprising. The Septim dynasty in particular repeatedly learns this the hard way, with Uriel Septim VII uttering the trope name immediately before being assassinated while Martin Septim goes from from feeling in control of his destiny to believing things are pre-planned. One exception are the "heroes", an in-universe metaphysical concept. These are rare individuals not bound in any way by fate and who have the ability to rule their own destiny. Heroes are closely related to the prophecies revealed in the Elder Scrolls, but are not bound by them, and they often grow to become far more powerful than most other mortals (sometimes to the point of becoming Physical Gods or outright Deities Of Human Origin). Each Player Character in the series to date has been such a hero, and many others are mentioned in the series' lore (often as Long Dead Badasses and Founders Of Their Kingdoms).
  • There Are No Tents: The series has Subverted it since Morrowind. There are tents (as well as bedrolls, hammocks, etc.) in the game world, typically at permanent campsites and the like, but nothing portable that you can take with you.
  • There Can Be Only One: The Khajiit people are led by the Mane, an unofficial "head of state" for all Khajiit. The Mane is not a standard sub-species of Khajiit, but tradition holds that only one Mane may be alive at any one time, since the Mane is one entity reborn in different bodies with the passage of time. The veracity of this is unknown, but there has been no recorded instance of multiple Manes contending for power.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • There is absolutely nothing stopping you in any game from running around killing pathetically weak critters in the countryside with your Legendary Weapons or blowing them away with your hilariously overpowered spells.
    • In the 4th Era, Thalmor doctrine calls for this approach when engaging the surviving Blades whenever they are found. The Blades are indeed each a One-Man Army, but for a Fantastically Racist State Sec order of Magic Knights like the Thalmor to decide that "overwhelming force" is the best option is about as close to a show of respect as they'll give a human adversary.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know:
    • The eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves are this, combined with being 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. Even the falsehoods in them are true. (Especially the falsehoods, as is pointed out several times in the series.) To the untrained eye, the scrolls will yield an odd chart that looks like it has constellations on it with odd glyphs printed over or under it. A knowledgeable reader will be able to interpret the scrolls to a degree, but incompletely, and will be irrevocably struck blind. A well-trained reader, such as a member of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth, will glean much more from the scroll and will even recover their eyesight... for a finite number of times before their sight is permanently lost. In all of these cases, reading the scrolls tends to lead to madness for the user. Even those who merely study the scrolls, never actually using or even handling them, are driven to complete madness with alarming regularity.
    • The Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora has this trope within his sphere. Appropriately, he is also the only Daedric Prince to actually take the form of an Eldritch Abomination, being an endless mass of tentacles and eyes. If there exists some bit of information in all of existence which he does not know, he will mercilessly acquire it by whatever means necessary. One in-game book describes a mage who tried to explore the realms of Oblivion. When he entered Hermaeus Mora's realm of Apocrypha, an endless library, he became enamored with the knowledge and never left. His voice still whispers to the writer, each time more and more alien. Further, according to Mora himself, he is/arose from knowledge that cannot exist (detritus concepts ejected from reality), rendering him not only the keeper of things man was not meant to know, but also making him something man cannot know.
    • The Hist are a race of ancient, sentient, and possibly Omniscient trees native to the Black Marsh where they are worshiped by the Argonians. They are said to possess "unfathomable" knowledge from the Dawn Era, the earliest days of creation before linear time existed as a concept.
    • The reclusive Dunmeri Tribunal deity Sotha Sil devotes much of his time to studying the "hidden world," they very underpinnings of reality that mortal minds can barely conceive of, much less alter. He also gives this as his reason for refusing to allow Divayth Fyr to study the Tools of Kagrenac in Sotha Sil's Last Words...
    Sotha Sil: "The Tools of Kagrenac in your possession? I think not. Were you to have them, I would fear for your life. They are not tools for mortals, Fyr, as you well know."
  • They Call Him "Sword": The Legendary Weapon Umbra is a powerful but cursed sword which steals the souls of its victims. It also tends to possess its owner, resulting in them becoming obsessed with the sword and adopting its name as their own. They become Blood Knights who seek out strong opponents. If they win, the sword claims the soul of a new victim. If they lose, the sword finds a new and stronger host... The Player Character can, of course, use it as much as they like without consequence.
  • They Have the Scent!: Werewolves are a creation of the Daedric Prince of the Hunt, Hircine, and serve him as "hunting dogs". They are sometimes referred to specifically as his "hounds" in this fashion.
  • Thieves' Guild:
    • First mentioned in Arena, the Thieves Guild has been a playable faction in every game since. The Guild is a loose organization of thieves and fences who operate throughout Tamriel. Though illegal by its very nature, the Guild has been tolerated by authorities throughout the centuries for its role as a "crime regulator". Each province appears to have its own chapter of the Guild, though there is only loose association at best between these chapters as each has their own rules and regulations. (Though some form of a "No Kill" policy is a rule most chapters have in common, as is a policy of Honor Among Thieves between members.) The Guild is known to venerate the Daedric Prince Nocturnal, though it stops short of full blown worship.
    • Several regional variants have also existed throughout the ages, such as the more ruthless Dunmeri Cammona Tong (which acts more like The Syndicate and has elements of The Mafia) and Altmeri Summerset Shadows, a direct rival to the Thieves Guild.
  • Third-Person Person:
    • Most Khajiit speak this way when speaking in Tamriellic. Not only do they replace "I" or "me" in conversation with their own name, they'll say more generic terms like "this one" or simply "Khajiit." (Ex. "Khajiit has no wares to sell.") This works both ways too, as they'll replace "you" with the name, race, or class of the person they are speaking to. (Ex. "What does the Imperial want?") Less politely, they may also replace "you" with "it". One can readily determine whether a Khajiit in question is a relative foreigner to non-Khajiit lands or has lived in them for a long time by studying their speech patterns. The ones who refer to themselves in the third person frequently are less familiar with non-Khajiiti cultures, while those who use first person are more acclimatized.
    • This is believed to be a trait of the Sload as well. The only Sload encountered in-game to date is the necromancer N'Gasta in Redguard, and he speaks in this fashion.
  • This Isn't Heaven: Invoked during the main quests of both Oblivion and Skyrim with "Paradise" and Sovngarde, respectively. Specific information on each can be found on the trope page.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: In the series' backstory, Zurin Arctus, Tiber Septim's Imperial Battlemage, was tasked by Septim with figuring out a way to power and control the Numidium, a Humongous Mecha of Dwemer construction which Septim acquired as part of the Armistice with the god-kings of Morrowind. While there are several versions of the events that followed, Arctus would become (or become part of) the undying being known as the Underking, whose soul was placed in the Mantella to power the Numidium. Septim would use it to complete his conquest of Tamriel, but would then start using it backhanded ways Arctus/the Underking did not intend (such as destroying the neutral royal families of Tamriel so that he could enthrone persons he knew to be loyal). The Underking considered this unforgivable, confronted Septim about this misuse, and then flew into a rage, in which he destroyed the Numidium and blasted the Mantella into Aetherius. One of the possible endings of Daggerfall is to return the Mantella to the Underking, finally allowing him to die.
  • This Was His True Form: The series averts this with were-creatures. Slain werewolves and other were-creatures retain whichever form they were in when they were killed. This also helps were-creature hunters to avert Van Helsing Hate Crimes. The in-game book On Lycanthropy mentions and even lampshades the idea of the this trope.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: This is a rule within the Thieves' Guild, mostly for Pragmatic Villainy reasons. Killing a mark makes things complicated, has to be cleaned up, and usually ends up costing the Guild in order to bribe authorities to look the other way. Additionally, it's just good business sense since, as they say, "a half-dead man can still make his payment, while a dead man pays no gold".
  • Threatening Shark: Series' lore tells of weresharks, a form of were-creature, found in the oceans around the continent. However, there have never been any reputable sightings and they are considered to be myths.
  • Three-Stat System: Averted initially in the series, which has eight "stats" in the form of Attributes: Strength, Intelligence, Endurance, Willpower, Speed, Agility, Personality, and Luck. From them, Health, Magicka, and Fatigue (as well as the regen rates for each) are derived. As of Skyrim, the system has been overhauled, removing Attributes and allowing you to choose to increase Health, Magicka, or Fatigue with each level up while emphasizing Skill Scores and Perks.
  • Threshold Guardians:
    • Gaining admittance into, or advancing within, certain guilds and factions throughout the series sometimes require passing a prerequisite check with a certain character in this fashion. It has become increasingly more popular with each installment, to the point where every joinable faction in Skyrim requires proving your worth to a character in this fashion.
    • Tsun, the old Nordic god of "trials against adversity" guards the entrance to Shor's Hall of Valor in Sovngarde in this fashion. Hopeful soul seeking entrance must defeat him in ritual combat to gain entry. Naturally, when Sovngarde is visited in Skyrim, you must defeat Tsun as well.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Initially averted in the series, where cities are realistically sized with appropriate populations. However, NPCs not relevant to the plot are randomly generated and virtual clones of one another. Following the series' 3D Leap with Morrowind, Space Compression came into use. This results in stated-to-be-massive cities like the Imperial City and Vivec being small with populations in the low hundreds, while smaller towns and villages end up with single digit populations. As Tropes Are Not Bad, the space compression allows for far greater content density while the smaller cities and lower populations prevent CPU resources from being wasted rendering superfluous buildings and tracking random NPCs.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works:
    • The series' backstory has an example in the Snow Prince. During the late Merethic Era, the ancient Atmorans (Precursors of the modern Nords) went to war with Skyrim's native Falmer (Snow Elves) after the Falmer sacked and slaughtered the Atmoran colony of Saarthal in Skyrim, with the Atmorans going so far as to attempt to drive the Falmer to extinction. After nearly wiping them out on the mainland, the Atmorans pursued the remaining Falmer to the barren, frozen island of Solstheim. During the Falmer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Moesring, an individual known only as the Snow Prince single-handedly turned the tide of the battle, killing many prominent Atmoran heroes in the process. However, the daughter of one of the slain warriors threw her mother's sword in grief and impaled the Snow Prince, killing him. Unlike the remains of his fellow Falmer, which were burned as per Atmoran tradition, the Snow Prince was considered a Worthy Opponent and was buried with full honors befitting any great warrior, with guards even stationed at his tomb, which would one day become Jolgeirr Barrow.
    • Averted to date in terms of gameplay in the series. It has not yet been possible to throw your melee weapon.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: The Ayleids of Cyrodiil were said to consider star light as the most "sublime" form of magic and venerated anything which fell from the heavens, particularly meteorite iron, which they used to craft their Ayleid Wells. Through an unknown means which no extant race has been able to replicate, the Wells channel magicka from the stars and can transmit it to mages.
  • Time Abyss:
    • From the series primary Creation Myth come Anu and Padomay, 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. It is from their spilled and intermingled blood that the et'Ada would emerge.
    • All of the et'Ada, pre-creation spirits, qualify. Depending on their actions during creation, they would come to be known as either Aedra ("our ancestors" in the old Aldmeris language) or the Daedra ("not our ancestors"). All have existed since before linear time was even conceived of as a concept. Of them, Akatosh, the Chief Deity of the "Nine Divines" pantheon, was said to have been the first to manifest out of the raw energy of the universe. Perhaps fittingly, he governs over time itself. The Dawn Era came to an end when he and the other pre-creation spirits settled into their roles, with Akatosh specifically creating linear time as a concept.
      • This also includes the lesser et'Ada, such as the lesser Daedra and the dragons, who are divine lesser Aedra. There is no definitive answer regarding the origin of dragons other than that they come from Akatosh. A Dremora, a member of a lesser Daedra species, upon being questioned simply answered that dragons "just were, and are," with no definitive beginning. The very concepts of mortality, being finite, and being temporary are so alien to dragons that these words, spoken in draconic, were used against them in a mortal-created Thu'um shout which temporarily cripples dragons.
    • The Hist are a race of ancient, sentient, and possibly omniscient trees native to the Black Marsh where they are worshiped by the Argonians. They are said to be the oldest beings on Tamriel, older than any Man or Mer, and were around to see the wars of the Ehlnofey during the Dawn Era, before linear time had even been conceived of as a concept. According to The Annotated Anuad, the Hist were originally from one of the 12 "worlds of Creation," which were destroyed by Padomay, the embodiment of change, and reassembled into Nirn by Anu, the embodiment of stasis. This would make the Hist literally older than the world itself.
    • The eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves, referred to as "fragments of creation", are a history of all time - what was, what might be, what will be, what could have been - written in a complex, mind-searing form. Also, while each Scroll is a definite object, any scroll that a sentient mind isn't keeping track of may or may not exist.
  • Time Crash: Happen at a few major events in the backstory when the draconic God of Time, known by many names but most prominently as Akatosh, is "tampered with" so to speak. They typically involve mortals attempting to use something of divine substance and cross over with Reality Is Out to Lunch. It happens so often that there's even an in-universe term for it: a "Dragon Break." To note specific examples:
    • In the 1st Era, the Maruhkati Selectives, an extremist sect of the already extremist anti-elf Alessian Order, carried out a ritual in attempt to purge Akatosh of the elven aspects of the mythological basis that Akatosh was based on, the Aldmeri golden eagle god, Auri-El. This proceeded to break time and reality for a period of a 1008 years. Bizarre and impossible events occurred during this time; people gave birth to their own parents, some sources mention wars and major events which never happened according to other sources, the sun changed color depending on the witness, and the gods either walked among the mortals or they didn't. How could they measure that period of time? They used the phases of Nirn's moons, said to be Lorkhan's decaying "flesh divinity", to measure time as they were not affected by the event. Even the Elder Scrolls themselves cannot rationalize the conflicting events of the Middle Dawn. When the Scrolls are attuned to that time period, their glyphs are said to simply disappear.
    • The Numidium, a giant brass golem built by the Dwemer and powered by the Heart of Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god, was essentially their refutation of the gods made material. Because of this, it frequently caused these when activated, such as the temporal toxic waste dump in Elsweyr where Tiber Septim's mages tried to figure it out after the Dunmer Tribunal gave it to him as a tribute, or the Warp In The West, where all the endings in Daggerfall essentially happened at once (though none to the same extent they would have individually).
    • Another Dragon Break appears to have happened during the Battle of Red Mountain, where the Chimer (who would become the Dunmer, or Dark Elves) fought the Dwemer in the final battle over the aforementioned Numidium. During the battle, Kagrenac, the Dwemer chief engineer, used his arcane tools on the Heart of Lorkhan in desperation, and that act caused the world to briefly revert to the chaos of the Dawn Era, before Tamriel was fully created by the Aedra... and in the process, he caused all of the Dwemer save a single one who was outside of normal spacetime at that point, to vanish. When things returned to normal, all the Dwemer were gone.
    • The eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves can cause a mild version of this depending on who reads them. Someone who is completely untrained in the history and nature of the Scrolls just sees the page picture for the main Elder Scrolls page (something that looks a bit like a star chart with odd glyphs around it). Someone with slight training is struck blind immediately, and while they may gain some knowledge from it, it will likely be useless. People with great training (e.g. members of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth) gradually go blind as they read more of the scrolls, but can extract enough information to reliably predict future events (or, at least, what might happen). The aforementioned Dwemer were able to create a machine which allowed them to read the Elder Scrolls without all of the nasty side effects.
    • The Magna-Ge, aka "Star Orphans", are et'Ada ("original spirits") who fled Mundus (the mortal plane) along with their "father" Magnus (the God of Magic and "architect" of Mundus) during the creation of Mundus. The Magna-Ge are associated with various "untimes" and "untime folk". One of the most famous of the Magna-Ge is Mnemo-Li, aka Mnemoli the Blue Star and the "wayward daughter of Anu", who is visible even in the daytime sky during Dragon Breaks.
  • Timed Mission: A handful pop up throughout the series, though they are quite rare (which makes sense with the series' Wide Open Sandbox nature and propensity toward Take Your Time). Specific examples are listed by game on the trope page.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: The eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves. While not exactly a mundane item from the future, they are scrolls of unknown origin and number, referred to as "Fragments of Creation", which simultaneously archive past, present, and future events; all that has happened, all that will happen (usually in the prophetic form of "if X happens, then Y and Z will happen, in that order"), all that could have happened. They require immense training in order to read and actually interpret anything useful, and have a high probability of causing blindness and madness in their readers. (Even those who merely study the nature of the Elder Scrolls, never actually reading one themselves, are driven to complete madness with alarming regularity.) The Scrolls have been used by the various Imperial Dynasties throughout history to help guide the Emperor in making decisions.
  • The Time of Myths:
    • The Dawn Era was this. In addition to the usual god walkabouts and wars, time was also nonlinear, as it hadn't been conceived of as a thing yet. A lot of strange stuff went down, and when it was over, most of the "original spirits" had become the Aedra, Daedra, and Ehlnofey that we know of today.
    • In the series' primary Creation Myth, there were the "12 worlds of creation". Padomay shattered them because Nir (Creation) favored Anu. Anu put the pieces of these worlds together to create one world: Nirn. From what little is known about them, they were nothing like Nirn is today. The Hist are believed to come from one of these worlds. As are the Dreugh, who ruled one of them ("Lyg") in the name of Molag Bal.
  • Time Master:
  • Time Skip: The first four games in the main series take place over a 34-year time period in the late 3rd Era of Tamriellic history. Skyrim then takes place 200 years following the events of Oblivion, in the 4th Era.
  • Time Stands Still: This is one of the many powers possessed by the Psijic Order thanks to their thousands of years in the study of magic. Only they and those they choose remain unaffected by the time stoppage, allowing them relay messages or perform secret rituals right in front of groups of people who are none the wiser as a result.
  • Time Travel: It is implied that Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker, may have actually been a Cyborg the Divines plucked from the future to serve as St. Alessia's divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. Per the writers, Pelinal is heavily inspired by The Terminator. He wore full plate mail, blessed by the Divines no less, at a time when only the Dwemer could craft it and, in one of his psychotic episodes, he mentioned Reman, an emperor who wouldn't exist until thousands of years later. To quote The Song of Pelinal:
    "... [And then] Kyne granted Perrif another symbol, a diamond soaked red with the blood of elves, [whose] facets could [un-sector and form] into a man whose every angle could cut her jailers and a name: PELIN-EL [which is] "The Star-Made Knight" [and he] was arrayed in armor [from the future time]."
  • Tin Tyrant: This is the form taken by Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, whose driving mission to put the universe in perfect order. He appears as a knight clad fully in silver armor, wielding a BFS one-handed. His lesser Daedra servants, the Knights of Order, are very similar, implied to be shining suits of Animated Armor.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl:
    • The Bosmer, aka Wood Elves. Female Bosmer are as tall as Imperials, while the males are nearly a full head-height shorter. Downplayed as of Skyrim, where there's no notable height disparity between male and female wood elves (females are still taller, but not by nearly as much).
    • Aureals (aka Golden Saints) and Mazken (aka Dark Seducers), are two forms of lesser Daedra in service to Sheogorath. The females are considerably taller (and deadlier) than the males.
  • Title Drop:
    • Every work in the franchise has the surtitle "The Elder Scrolls". In virtually every work, the eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves are mentioned at some point. In a few cases, the Elder Scrolls play into the game's main quest or into a major faction questline, while in others they are only mentioned in off-hand dialogue or in-game books.
    • The sub-title for each game in the main series to date is a Metafictional One-Word Title of an in-universe "The Place".note . Naturally, the title is dropped repeatedly in each game.
  • Token Heroic Orc:
    • The Ayleids once ruled all of Cyrodiil and took the Nedes, human ancestors of most of the modern races of Men, as slaves. So vile was their torment of the slaves that, when the slaves revolted, several rebel Ayleid lords sided with the slaves (although some sources imply it was less 'the other lords were just that bad' and more 'there was already a civil war between Aedra and Daedra-favoring Ayleid lords' — everyone involved on the winning side, including the Ayleids on the rebellion's side, had an interest in playing up just how bad the Ayleid rule had been). As a result, they were allowed to keep their lands as vassals to the new empire the slaves would found. (At least for about a century or so until an extremist anti-elven religious sect came to power within the empire and either killed or drove away the remaining Ayleids.)
    • Scamps are the weakest known form of lesser Daedra, and in almost every game where they've made an appearance, there is typically at least one non-hostile Scamp who can be conversed with. The Scamp merchant Creeper, who appears in Morrowind and Online, is one prominent example.
    • Dragons are normally quite hostile to mortal-kind, but there have been a few exceptions. To note:
      • Paarthurnax was this during the ancient Dragon Wars, siding with mortals and having been responsible for Alduin's initial defeat. There were other dragons that rebelled against Alduin's rule, but their names are never given and they were all killed by the Dragonguard/Blades in the intervening millennia.
      • Redguard includes Nafaalilargus (a.k.a. Nahfahlaar), a dragon who managed to overcome his draconic nature and would ally with worthy mortals. For this reason, he was spared by the Blades in the 1st Era and would eventually find his way into the employ of Tiber Septim.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore:
    • The eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves combine this with being Tomes of Prophecy and Fate. To note:
      • 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. Even the falsehoods in them are true. (Especially the falsehoods, as is pointed out several times in the series.) To the untrained eye, the Scrolls will yield an odd chart that looks like it has constellations on it with odd glyphs printed over or under it. A knowledgeable reader will be able to interpret the Scrolls to a degree, but incompletely, and will be irrevocably struck blind. A well-trained reader, such as a member of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth, will glean much more from the Scroll and will even recover their eyesight... for a finite number of times before their sight is permanently lost. In all of these cases, reading the Scrolls tends to lead to madness for the user. Even those who merely study the Scrolls, never actually using or even handling them, are driven to complete madness with alarming regularity. The power of the Elder Scrolls is so great, their truths so irrefutable, that not even the machinations of a Daedric Prince can overcome them.
      • As seen in Skyrim, the glyphs on the Elder Scrolls match closely to those seen on the Eye of Magnus, an artifact of unknown power connected to Magnus, the god of magic and "architect" of Mundus. This has led to the theory that the scrolls are related to that event (and their alternative name, "Fragments of Creation", further lends credence).
    • The Mysterium Xarxes is a tome artifact of Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction. The Oblivion script notes actually call for Martin, the most knowledgeable major character on the subject, to react as if given "a handful of glowing plutonium" when he receives the Xarxes. It's just that sort of book.
    • The Oghma Infinium, which translates to "infinite wisdom" in Old Aldmeris, is bound in humanoid skin and is an artifact of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge (with a particular specialty in Eldritch knowledge).
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: As mentioned directly above, the Elder Scrolls themselves cross over between this trope and Tomes of Eldritch Lore.
  • Tomorrowland: Anything built by the Dwemer. They combined their abilities as master enchanters with their Steam Punk engineering prowess to build Magitek machines far more advanced than anything the other races could create. They were also known to tamper with the laws of time and physics to ensure that their creations were built to last. Even 4000+ years after their disappearance (the cause of which is unknown, but very likely involved their attempt Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence using the literal heart of a Dead God) their cities and machinery are still up and running, making them inviting (if extremely dangerous) targets for scavengers.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Series wide, this applies to any mortal who has ever thought it would be a good idea to betray a Daedric Prince. One example is the nameless female thief in the in-game book "Purrloined Shadows". She spies on a witch coven summoning the Daedric Prince Nocturnal. Why? To mug her of course! She is shown to be shocked by the nature of the mission she was given, and it turns out she was set up to get caught from the very beginning so when someone says "Hey let's rob a Daedric Prince while surrounded by her coven of worshipers" don't listen.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • The entire race of the Argonians gradually took levels as the series has progressed. They used to be something of disrespected victims of Fantastic Racism and were frequently enslaved from their homeland by the Dunmer of neighboring Morrowind. Then the sentient (and possibly omniscient) trees they worship, known as the Hist, sensed the Oblivion Crisis coming and changed their sap (which Argonians drink to grow and communicate with the Hist) to make the Argonians more formidible weapons of war and much more aggressive, to the point that they not only drove back the Oblivion invasions in the Black Marsh, they forced the Dremora to close their own portals because the Argonians were launching counter-invasions into Oblivion. As of the 4th Era, the Argonians have taken the southern half of Morrowind in payback for the centuries of slave ownership, and it's mentioned that their nation is one of two (the other being Hammerfell) that could realistically drive off the fascistic Aldmeri Dominion, who have otherwise dominated Tamriel.
    • Inverted by Hungers. Hungers are a form of lesser Daedra in service to Boethiah, the Daedric Prince of Plots, who are very similar in appearance to the "alien-style" Chupacabra, complete with claws, spikes, and a "sucker" mouth. In their first appearance in Morrowind, they are one of the toughest Daedric foes around. In addition to their standard strong attack and fatigue drain, they are immune to all forms of Destruction magic and can use Disintigrate Armor/Weapon spells. Later appearances drop these latter two abilities completely, making them a far less formidable foe.
    • From the series' Backstory comes the legendary ancient Chimeri/Dunmeri hero, Lord Indoril Nerevar. While details of his early life are scant, he was a mere merchant caravan guard prior to uniting the Chimer people and forming an Enemy Mine with the rival Dwemer in order to drive out the invading Nords. His time as the leader of the Chimer (now Dunmer) is considered the most prosperous time in the race's history.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Deep in the series' backstory, the Dragon Cult originated in Atmora, homeland of the Atmorans (ancient proto-Nords). There, the men worshiped the dragons, and the priests demanded tribute, as well as set down laws so dragons and men could live together peacefully. When the dragons and their cult moved to Tamriel, they became far less benevolent. They ruled men with an iron fist, eventually enslaving them. No one really knows why the Cult changed, though it is implied that is was the result of Alduin's desire to rule the world instead of end it.
    • While they've certainly had their flaws throughout the series, two entire races take a level come the 4th Era:
      • The Nords, who for much of the series (and backstory) have been a Proud Warrior Race of Boisterous Bruiser Horny Vikings who would gladly swap battle stories over a tankard of mead even with non-Nords, have become bitter and disillusioned following the Great War. They have become prone to Fantastic Racism toward any non-Nords and believe that any Nord who doesn't share the mentality that "Skyrim belongs to the Nords" should be shunned as not a "true Nord". Largely Justified, as Skyrim has been divided by Civil War in which Both Sides Have a Point, making it all the more devastating which feeds the disillusionment of the Nords. (The Imperial-aligned Nords believe that Skyrim has always supported the Empire and that you shouldn't abandon an ally just because they have fallen on hard times while the Stormcloaks believe that the Empire is old and weak, exemplified by them agreeing to the crippling White-Gold Concordant with the Aldmeri Dominion to end the Great War, and that Skyrim is better off being independent.)
      • The Altmer, while they've always been haughty and snobbish, have taken an extreme level in Jerkass under the leadership of the extremist Thalmor. The Thalmor play the Altmer's (not entirely unjustified) racial stereotypes Up to Eleven. Their Fantastic Racism has hit all time high levels, especially toward the races of Men, and they've essentially been left unchecked as most Altmer who oppose the Thalmor have been exiled, arrested, or outright murdered. They also forcefully annexed the province of Valenwood (homeland of the Bosmer) and used Blatant Lies to appeal to the Khajiit, gaining Elsweyr as a client state.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, between the events of Oblivion and Skyrim. Rather than causing random chaos like in previous games, Sheogorath's Daedric quest in Skyrim has you helping to cure the late Emperor Pelagius the Mad of the madness which has long plagued him. It probably helps that Skyrim Sheogorath is strongly implied to be the Champion of Cyrodiil, who took up the mantle of Sheogorath at the end of the Shivering Isles.
  • Too Awesome to Use:
    • High quality arrows qualify throughout the series. Prior to Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, there was never a way to craft your own arrows (outside of Game Mods). While you could find merchants with restocking sets of lower quality arrows (Iron, Steel, Silver if you're lucky), high quality arrows (Daedric, Ebony, Glass) are typically only found in small, finite quantities (if available for sale at all) and otherwise must be looted from high-level enemies and dungeons. This leads to many players saving their best arrows only for the strongest foes, while making do primarily with lesser quality but more readily available arrows.
    • A number of unique, one-time use items like scrolls, potions, and ingredients are also present throughout the series which qualify. Examples include the Scrolls of Icarian Flight, Daedric Lava Whiskey, Jarrin Root, and the Grand Amnesty Edict. Additional details and examples can be found on the trope page broken down by game.
  • Took a Shortcut: Occurs on occasion in the series, with specific examples listed by game on the trope page.
  • Too Much for Man to Handle: The eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves. The Order of the Ancestor Moth are monks who spend their entire lives training to endure using the scrolls and actually being able to interpret what they see. Even with that lifetime of training, they will go permanently blind after a few uses. Any mortals who try to use the scrolls without this training typically suffer even worse fates, including instant blindness and madness. The Elder Scrolls are so eldritch that even the machinations of the Daedric Princes are unable to overcome the power of the Scrolls, and even divine beings like dragons fear their power.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Sanguine is the Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism. In the backstory, he was said to be a regular in the court of Reman Cyrodiil, the founder of the Second Cyrodiilic Empire. While Reman managed to be an effective ruler whose dynasty would expand to conquer most of Tamriel, he was very much a Caligula, prone to Axe-Crazy violence and extreme decadence. It eventually reached a point where Sanguine became uncomfortable around Reman and left him. Reman was so debauched and hedonistic that he ran off the very embodiment of debauchery and hedonism.
  • Too Stupid To Live: Series wide, this applies to anyone who has ever thought it would be a good idea to betray a Daedric Prince. One example is the nameless female thief in the in-game book "Purrloined Shadows". She spies on a witch coven summoning the Daedric Prince Nocturnal. Why? To mug her of course? She is shown to be shocked by the nature of the mission she was given, and it turns out she was set up to get caught from the very beginning. When someone says "Hey let's rob a Daedric Prince while surrounded by her coven of worshipers", don't listen.
  • Top God:
    • Fitting the "God of Gods" version is Anu, who along with his Anti-God "twin brother" Padomay, are the Anthropomorphic Personifications of the primordial forces of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. The series' primary Creation Myth states that their interplay in the great "void" of pre-creation led to creation itself. Creation, sometimes anthropomorphized as the female entity "Nir", favored Anu, which angered Padomay. Padomay killed Nir and shattered the twelve worlds she gave birth to. Anu then wounded Padomay, presuming him dead. Anu salvaged the pieces of the twelve worlds to create one world: Nirn. Padomay returned and wounded Anu, seeking to destroy Nirn. Anu then pulled Padomay and himself outside of time, ending Padomay's threat to creation "forever". From the intermingling of their spilled blood came the "et'Ada", or "original spirits", who would go on to become either the Aedra or the Daedra depending on their actions during creation. (Some myths state that the Aedra come from the mixed blood of Anu and Padomay, while the Daedra come purely from the blood of Padomay).
    • Akatosh, the draconic God of Time, is the chief Aedric deity of the Nine Divines Pantheon fitting closely with the "King of Gods" version of the trope. It is said that he was the first being to manifest out of the raw energy of the early universe. To the Altmer (High Elves), he is instead Auri-El, the golden eagle god from whom the Altmer (and really all races of Mer) descend.
    • In the old Nordic pantheon, Shor was instead the top god. Shor is the Nordic version of Lorkhan, the Trickster God who convinced those who would become the Aedra to aid in creating Mundus, the mortal world. Doing so caused them to lose much of their divine power, and in revenge, they "killed" Lorkhan, tore his still-beating heart form his body, and cast it down into the world he made them create where his spirit is forced to wander. To the Nords, Shor is a bloodthirsty warrior king, very fitting for their Proud Warrior Race. While many Nords would come to accept the Imperial pantheon (where Akatosh is the chief deity), many still hold Shor (and his Deity of Human Origin incarnation Talos) in extremely high regard.
    • In the Yokudan/Redguard pantheon, Ruptga, aka "Tall Papa", is the chief deity. He is sometimes associated with Akatosh, but the two are typically treated as separate entities. The biggest difference seems to be that Akatosh participated in Lorkhan's plan to create Mundus, while Ruptga did not "participate or approve" of Sep's (the serpentine Yokudan counterpart of Lorkhan) plan.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: In series' lore, this is a common reaction by the locals should they find some sort of monster or deviant in their midst. Common targets include vampires, werewolves, necromancers, Daedra worshipers, and many others.
  • The Tower:
    • In the series lore, "Towers" are metaphysical structures built atop the "joint-points" of reality as it was constructed by the et'Ada who took part in creation. The Towers are said to "define reality in [their] Aurbic vicinity". One such tower, the Adamantine Tower (or "Ada-Mantia") on Balfiera Island in Iliac Bay, was constructed by the surviving et'Ada (now Aedra) to hold "Convention," during which they decided to punish Lorkhan for his treachery during creation. It is also said to be where linear time first began, before spreading throughout the rest of creation. The Adamantine Tower remains on Balferia, and though the exterior is weathered, the interior remains almost exactly the same - a single great, seamless, impregnable spire of ageless metal which is at least half-embedded in the ground. It is entirely smooth, except for one point known as the "Argent Aperture" which is thought to be a door. This door has a lock of thirteen slowly counter-rotating rings and, despite the best efforts of mages and scholars throughout history, has never been opened. It is powered by the "Zeroth-Stone", which is said to cultivate "creatia" indirectly to alter the "terrestrial domain" around the Tower. During the earliest days following creation, the ancient Aldmer (ancestors of all of the modern races of Mer/Elves) discovered a means to construct their own towers at these "joint-points." By building their own Tower, each group could create their own narrative, distinct but equal to those around it. Details on these constructed Towersnote  can be found on the trope page.
    • There is also the Ceporah Tower on the island of Artaeum, home of Psijic Order, a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order on Tamriel. The Ceporah Tower is older than any of the other metaphysical towers save for the Adamant Tower itself, said to have been built by an unknown civilization predating the Aldmeri arrival in the Summerset Isles. The ancient and magically powerful Tower is used by the Psijics in certain rites and rituals. It is under the Ceporah Tower where Galerion confronted Mannimarco about his practice of The Dark Arts, leading to the founding of both the Mages Guild and the Order of the Black Worm.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, has cheese. His Daedric quest in Oblivion requires it, he constantly speaks about it, including several memorable lines involving "cheese for everyone!" quickly followed by "cheese for no one!" in the Shivering Isles expansion, and in his Skyrim appearance, he has cheeses set out on a banquet table before him. Given his overt madness and divine status, this isn't simply a fondness for eating cheese, but more like a surreal, platonic affection for the stuff.
    • Nords absolutely love mead as their alcoholic beverage of choice, to the point that a meadery is one of the most powerful and corrupt institutions in Skyrim. Outlanders occasionally complain about mead, wishing more taverns served beer instead.
    • Khajiit have Moon Sugar, a Fantastic Drug similar in properties and appearance to real life cocaine, plus an extremely sweet taste. They add it to nearly all of their food, to the point where outlanders in Elsweyr are warned against eating the native food. The "Den Mothers" who control Moon Sugar production are some of the most powerful individuals in Khajiiti society as a result.
  • Training Dummy: Present in the series dating back to Morrowind, though there, they are static decorative objects you can't interact with. Oblivion and Skyrim allow them to be attacked, but this is strictly for fun. They cannot be used to increase your skills. Naturally, there are plentiful Game Mods for each game which essentially turn them into stationary, invincible NPCs one which you can increase your weapon skills.
  • Training from Hell: The training to join the Blades is among the most intense in all of Tamriel. Justified, as the Blades are expected to be One-Man Army masters of the katana who serve as the Praetorian Guard for the emperors of Tamriel. In addition, Blades are expected to be able to serve as covert spies and Secret Police, essentially being the CIA of Tamriel as well. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Samurai are a major inspiration for the Blades.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted by the Werewolf transformation in each game where it is present. It takes several seconds for the change to take effect, during which you are vulnerable to attack. If you plan to use the werewolf form, it is highly advised that you activate it before initiating combat with your target.
  • Transforming Mecha: The Dwemer crafted Numidium is a Reality Warping Humongous Mecha prominent in the backstory, and then as a major plot point in Daggerfall. Tiber Septim used it to complete his conquest of Tamriel, something he likely would not have been able to do without it. It was so massive and so powerful that merely activating it warped time and reality, right up to affecting even the ''God of Time'' himself. Here is a size comparison, with the tiny specks at the bottom being full-sized people. Numidium was usually anthropomorphic, but could apparently change its shape from time to time. Considering its reality-warping abilities and how it was walking exemplification of refutation, it makes sense that Numidium would not necessarily stick to one discrete shape.
  • Transhuman: This is one of the theories about what the Dwemer were trying to do when they mysteriously disappeared. They were a highly technologically advanced race whose creations are still unmatched by any other race even in the thousands of years since their disappearance. A major part of their outlook was the idea of refuting everything as real, including themselves. When they discovered the heart of a dead god, they attempted to tap into its power, likely hoping to reforge themselves as ascended god-like beings. Whatever happened, it caused every member of their race to blink out of all known planes of existence in an instant.
  • Trash of the Titans:
    • This is a trait of the Rieklings, a diminutive race of blue-skinned humanoids native to Solstheim who somewhat resemble "ice goblins". They are known to collect and hoard detritus of the more civilized cultures, which they "form strange attachments to" and have even been witnessed worshiping. These items range from random Vendor Trash, to weapons and armor, to a crashed experimental airship.
    • This is a common trait of the followers of Namira, the Daedric Prince of the Ancient Darkness, associated with all things revolting, decay, disfiguring diseases, and cannibalism. Her followers are infamous for preferring to live in dark and squalid conditions. Anyone attempting to remove them from these conditions is met with her wrath.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • The Dunmer people have been put through a nasty series of traumas starting with the end of Morrowind. Due in no small part due to the actions of the Nerevarine, the Dunmer lose their protective trio of Physical Gods, the Tribunal. (By the end of the Tribunal expansion, two are dead and the third disappears a few years later.) As mentioned in Oblivion, even the Nerevarine disappears, rumored to be on a trip to Akavir. Morrowind itself is extremely hard hit during the Oblivion Crisis, with Mehrunes Dagon's Legions of Hell completely destroying the city of Ald-Ruhn, the capital of Great House Redoran. A few years later, in what is know as the "Red Year", after stop-gap measures fail, the Ministry of Truth (a moonlet hurled at Vivec City in the past by Sheogorath that was stopped in place by the Tribunal deity Vivec) resumes its descent with its original momentum. The resulting impact causes Red Mountain to erupt, destroying most of Vvardenfell island and rendering large portions of mainland Morrowind uninhabitable due to choking ash. After that, the Argonians, in revenge for centuries of being a Slave Race to the Dunmer, invade and easily conquer what is left of habitable southern Morrowind, along with its rich Ebony deposits. Most of the Dunmer population has been forced to flee north to the island of Solstheim, a barren and frozen over rock, or into Skyrim, where they are treated as second class citizens (at best) by the local Nords, ancient enemies of the Dunmer. Several Dunmer characters spoken to in Skyrim and its Dragonborn DLC indicate that the Dunmer people have at least seemed to learn a little humility from the experience.
    • Ulfric Stormcloak — leader of the Stormcloak faction during the Skyrim Civil War — endured a pretty vicious conga line from the time of the Great War thorugh the events of Skyrim itself. Trained by the Greybeards, he gave up their pacifist philosophy to join the Imperial army when his conscience refused to let him sit out the Great War with the Thalmor-led Aldmeri Dominion. He was subsequently traumatized by the deaths of untold numbers of friends and countrymen, captured by the enemy, tortured until he broke, manipulated into believing that the information he divulged was directly responsible for the fall of the Imperial City (it wasn't), and then sent home believing that all of it was for nothing after the Empire signed a treaty that capitulated to the Dominion's demands (which included banning the worship of his people’s most revered god, Talos). A spectacularly ill-thought-out attempt to regain freedom of worship then landed him in prison, and while he was still locked up his father died and he was forced to deliver the eulogy via a letter smuggled out of jail. All of this seems to have happened by the time he was roughly 25. It's no wonder the man is kind of bitter.
  • Trauma Inn: Throughout the series, resting will fully restore your Health, Magicka, and Fatigue/Stamina. As the series has progressed, each of these has been changed to regenerate naturally on their own over time, which makes resting even less necessary. One exception throughout the series however is that resting will not cure diseases. You need to use a spell, potion, or blessing in order to be cured.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: There tends to be at least one per game, often in the faction questlines. It usually isn't much of a surprise to learn that the quest giver in question is The Mole or has undergone a Face–Heel Turn.
  • The Treachery of Images: The series' lore is pretty much made of this trope. For example: gods basically only exist because people believe in them. And if different cultures have different interpretations of the same god, it splits into separate entities, known as "aspects". Sort of. The Thalmor endgame is basically to "unmake" the universe and become/return to being gods by eroding the worship of Talos, a Deity of Human Origin who helps to hold the world together, and make it so that the universe was never created. And that's not even getting into Dragon Breaks...
  • Trespassing Hero: Unsurprisingly common given the Wide Open Sandbox nature of the series, where it is possible to enter any location you can get into at any time. As the series has progressed, mainly starting with Oblivion and then kicked into overdrive for Skyrim, the number of Plot Locks has increased to discourage Sequence Breaking. While you can still trespass, it becomes more difficult to do it in plot-related locations until you've advanced to the appropriate point in the related quest.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The Camonna Tong is essentially the native Dunmeri (Dark Elf) Mafia, with elements of The Syndicate. Into the early 4th Era, they essentially run Morrowind's smuggling, drug, and illegal slave trade operations. There is also the Morag Tong, a legal (at least in Morrowind) assassin's guild that is officially sanctioned by the Dunmeri government as an alternative to destructive open warfare between the Great Houses. Both of these come from Tong being Dunmeri for 'Guild' (Morag means 'Forester'. What Camonna means was never explained).
  • The Trickster:
    • Lorkhan (aka Shor, Shezarr, Sep, Lorkhajj, etc.), the "dead" creator god of Mundus, the mortal plane, is said to be this even by those religions with a highly favorable view of him. Depending on the telling, he convinced/tricked some of the other pre-creation spirits (Anu et'Ada or Aedra) into sacrificing a large portion of their power in order to create the mortal world. Feeling betrayed by him, these other spirits "killed" him, cut out his heart (or "divine center"), and cast it down into the world he helped to create, where his spirit is forced to wander. The races of Mer (Elves), particularly the Altmer, typically despise him as they believe he robbed their ancestors of their pre-creation divinity and forced them to experience mortal loss and suffering. The races of Men (especially the Nords and Imperials) instead view him as a cosmic Greater-Scope Paragon and champion of Mankind.
    • This is within the realm of Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. One of his favorite games is making mortals or even other Daedra look like idiots. The lesson is usually "don't underestimate/bargain with/upset/stand near/shirk worship of Sheogorath", but it can be kinder ("there's always room for creativity") or more cruel ("there's madness within us all"), depending on his whims...
    • The Tribunal deity Vivec has this as one of his "mythic roles." A cunning Warrior Poet, Vivec has been known to bedevil the universe's other divine beings, especially if they mess with his people (though he is known to exaggerate his role in some of these events and tells a number of Metaphorical Truths to make him seem more divine than he really is). He also implies (steeped in heavy metaphor) that his "godhood" essentially comes from realizing that he's in a video game and using that knowledge to "edit" the situation around him. When he disappeared in the 4th Era, so did his power keeping the Ministry of Truth (originally the "rogue moon" Baar Dau) floating over Vivec City. Even with people sacrificing souls to Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes to keep it afloat, it fell with the same momentum it had before Vivec stopped it and annihilated the island. In its wake Vivec City turning into the Scathing Bay, Red Mountian erupted, Vvardenfell became covered in choking ash, and the survivors were forced to evacuate. And then the Argonians invaded...
  • Trivial Title: The eponymous artifacts are only a background element in the first three games of the series, and are only involved in a faction questline in the fourth. Skyrim finally averts the trope, having an Elder Scroll play a part in the main quest for the first time.
  • Troll:
    • Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism, is basically a god-level troll. He enjoys trying to tempt or trick mortals into sin using various vices, mostly because It Amuses Him. For example, in Oblivion, he asks you to crash the dinner party of a stuck-up hostess and cast a spell which strips everyone naked (including you). In Skyrim, he gets you black out drunk, leads you on some crazy adventures across Skyrim, and leaves you to pick up the pieces the next morning.
    • Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is one as well. Sometimes, it seems he just likes to point and laugh. One of his 16 Accords of Madness has him challenging fellow Daedric Prince Hircine to combat-by-champion. Hircine fielded a huge, saw-toothed, dagger-clawed, vicious werebeast. Sheogorath revealed his champion to be... a songbird. The tiny bird then proceeded to goad the werebeast into tearing itself apart by perching on it, singing and then flitting away, over and over. The bird won. Sheogorath's sole reason for any of this was, apparently, that he finds Hircine's fury hilarious.
  • Trope Codifier: The series is one for the exploration-driven single-character Western RPGs whose main appeal is the absolute freedom of movement and a metric ton of diverse side quests.
  • Trope Overdosed: The series in total checks in at nearly 10,000 wicks, with three games (Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim) all being (at minimum) "Overdosed" on their own.
  • Trophy Room: After the series' Video Game 3D Leap with Morrowind, it became possible to place items in the game world. The games in the series also tend to throw more legendary artifacts and unique items at you than you can reasonably use. Naturally, ever since, any houses you build or buy tend to become trophy rooms for showing off this awesome loot. The modding community has contributed significantly to improve this functionality as well.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!:
    • Completing the main quest, faction questlines, and any expansions/DLC for any game in the series tends to lead to this effect for the Player Character. Take, for example, the list of titles and ranks for the Dragonborn in Skyrim:
    the Lastborn of Akatosh, slayer of Alduin, Harbinger of the Companions, Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold, Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, Guildmaster of the Thieves' Guild and Nightingale of Nocturnal, Thane of each of the nine holds in Skyrim, Hero of the Stormcloaks or Legate of the Imperial Legion, "Qahnariin"note , Champion of Hermaeus Mora, honorary member of House Telvanni, warrior of the Dawnguard or Lord/Lady of Clan Volkihar, and Member of the Bards' College.
    • The Dwemer architect who devised a method and the tools necessary to tap into the Heart of Lorkhan, Kagrenac, had such a title: Chief Tonal Architect, Magecrafter, High Priest, High Engineer, Arcane Philosopher, and Pioneer in the field of Mythopeic Forces.
    • Saint Jiub the Eradicator: Hero of Morrowind and Savior of the Dunmer, who doesn't appreciate the suggestion that a shorter title might make his book catchier.
  • Tuckerization: Bethesda often includes tribute characters who share the name (or screen name) of fans of the series who have passed away. For example, Morrowind contains the ashes of two members of the official forums who died before the game shipped and Skyrim has a character named Erik the Slayer, based off a fan named Eric West (and whose screen name on the forums was Immok the Slayer) who died of cancer a few months before the game's release.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Jurgen Windcaller was the most powerful Tongue (masters of the Thu'um who served in the Nord army) of the 1st Era. Following their ignominious defeat at Red Mountain, Windcaller fell into Heroic BSoD despair and meditated for seven years, determining that the defeat was due to the displeasure of the Divines for misusing the Thu'um. He would inspire the "Way of the Voice", preaching pacifism, non-intervention in worldly affairs, and the use of the Thu'um only to honor the gods. When he proclaimed the Way of the Voice, seventeen other Tongues tried to shout him down. He "swallowed" their words for three days until he fell, exhausted. This caused them to acknowledge his superiority and wisdom in the Voice.
  • Turn Undead: Exists throughout much of the series as a spell which will cause targeted undead to flee for the spell's duration.
  • Twofer Token Minority: The Redguards are black-skinned desert dwellers with Arabic and Moorish cultural influences (architecture, clothing, naming conventions, etc.). They also have trace elements of Japanese influence, particularly Samurai, with a great cultural respect for swords and swordsmanship.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Argonians born under the sign of the Shadow are taken at birth to be trained in the arts of stealth and assassination by the Dark Brotherhood. Some Argonian tribes take their duty of producing Shadowscales to such a degree that they have created potions which allow females to synchronize their egg-laying cycle with the Shadow constellation. This is Justified in-universe as the Hist, sentient and possibly omniscient trees which the Argonians worship in their Black Marsh homeland, are said to "acknowledge" Sithis as the original creator of the universe. This would also help explain the Shadowscales, as the Dark Brotherhood operates in service to Sithis. However, by the 4th Era, only one Shadowscale remains. (Cicero, caretaker of the Night Mother in Skyrim, states in his journal that the Shadowscale training facility in the Argonian city of Archon had been closed down.)

    U 
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife:
    • St. Alessia, the "Slave Queen", was a Beautiful Slave Girl before escaping slavery and starting a rebellion to free her people from the rule of their cruel Ayleid masters. During the rebellion, known as the Alessian Revolt, Alessia prayed to the Aedra for divine aid. As part of a Bargain with Heaven, they answered, and sent her assistance. One being they sent was the demi-god Morihaus, the "Man-Bull''. Morihaus fell in love with Alessia, and became her consort, despite warnings from the other Aedra. However, Morihaus felt that his form was too ugly for Alessia, especially when she disrobed for him. Still, they stayed together until Alessia's death, and their progeny became the first Minotaur.
    • The Bosmer (Wood Elves) were originally designed for this to be a trait of their race. Downplayed in their final designs for Morrowind and Oblivion, where the Bosmer males are much shorter than the females and generally uglier, but not to the extent their early designs called for. By Skyrim, any disparities between the males and females (attractiveness, height, or otherwise) are dropped completely.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Throughout the series, the Player Character can become one of these with a high enough "Repair" or "Smithing" skill, depending on the game.
  • The Unchosen One: In Morrowind and Oblivion, this is a strong possibility for the Player Character. It is never actually made clear whether this is the case in Morrowind, as there is evidence for both sides and during the confrontation with the Big Bad, you can actually choose yourself whether or not you believe this to be the case. In Oblivion, Martin is The Chosen One while you are his Lancer and Hypercompetent Sidekick (though it is strongly implied that fate wanted you to be involved in these events). Further, you are very clearly The Chosen One in both major expansions, especially (for the sake of the series' lore) Shivering Isles.
  • The Undead: The series has examples of nearly all types listed on the page, and in many cases, blends or mashes up the types. Specifics can be found on the appropriate Undead sub-pages.
  • Under City: A number of prominent cities in Tamriel, including Mournhold and the Imperial City itself, are built over the ruins of older cities situated on the same sites. Naturally, the parts of these ruins still accessible from the new city fall in line with this trope.
  • Under Dogs Never Lose: The Tang Mo are a race of "monkey-folk" native to Akavir, a continent far to the east of Tamriel. They are described as kind and brave, but also very simple. Despite this, they are capable of raising armies and have successfully defended themselves time and again against their far more powerful and hostile neighbors, including the Kamal "snow demons" and Tsaesci "snake vampires".
  • Underground City: The vanished Dwemer were fond of building these, crossing over with Advanced Ancient Acropolis. Due to their Ragnarök Proofing, many are still standing throughout their old territories, primarily in Morrowind and Skyrim.
  • Underground Level: Naturally, any game with Dwemer ruins will have at least a few quests that send you inside of them, making them count as this trope. Other types of ruins (Daedric, Ayleid, Nordic, etc.), caves, and Abandoned Mines also qualify.
  • Underwater Ruins:
    • The sunken continent of Yokuda, home to the ancestors of the Redguards. According to popular myth, it was "sunk beneath the sea" by a renegade band of Ansei, "sword saints" who could form swords out of their own spirits called "Shehai", using a Dangerous Forbidden Technique known as the "Pankratosword", which they could use as a Fantastic Nuke. (Other accounts state that the likely cause was a much more natural type of disaster.)
    • Most games in the series have smaller scale versions of these with various types of ruins that have been flooded for one reason or another.
  • Uneven Hybrid:
    • This is the case for all mixed-race hybrids in the series, averting All Genes Are Codominant. Throughout the series, several in-game books and backstory details indicate that each race of Men (Imperial, Breton, Redguard, Nord) and Mer ("Elves" - Altmer, Dunmer, Bosmer, Orsimer) can indeed interbreed, with the race of the offspring usually being virtually identical to the mother, with a few of the father's traits potentially sprinkled in.note  For example, if an Altmer father and Nord mother produce a child, it wouldn't be a Magic Knight combination of each race. Instead, the child would be almost entirely Nord with the potential of having some Altmeri traits, such as slight points to his ears, higher cheekbones, or a slightly different skin tone.
    • The Bretons are the most famous hybrid race in Tamriel. Their (human) ancestors were Breeding Slaves to the Direnni Altmer of High Rock. Over the course of many generations, some of the Elven traits started to come through with greater dominance. This has led the Bretons to be the most magically inclined race of Men in Tamriel at the cost of some of the Humans Are Warriors traits of the other races of Men. It still isn't accurate to call the Bretons "half human" hybrids, however. They are still almost entirely human with some Altmeri ancestry. It's noted that some elite noble Breton families still have slightly pointed ears.
    • The Bosmer are said to be result of ancient hybridization as well. When the Aldmer (Precursors to all of the modern Elven races) first settled in Valenwood, they started to take "Mannish wives," leading to the modern Bosmer. It is worth noting that out of all the races of Mer, the Bosmer are the ones who look closest to humans and have the most human-like skin tones. In the exact opposite of the Bretons, the Bosmer are still almost entirely Mer.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: In Morrowind and Oblivion, speaking to a NPC with your weapon drawn will decrease that NPC's disposition, essentially averting Guns in Church. In order to avoid the disposition drop, you literally have to Sheathe Your Sword. This comes as a surprise to many gamers, who are quite used to the video game idea of being able to walk around holding a sword of pure evil and a small armory strapped across your back without NPCs even batting an eye.
  • The Unfettered:
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Lamae Bal, the Nede woman who was "ravaged" by Molag Bal (the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption) and turned into the first vampire, was a loyal priestess of Arkay (the Aedric God of Life and Death) both before and after she was turned. After she was, though, Arkay fell silent toward her and she saw this as a terrible betrayal. Further twisting the knife is that Arkay's blessing can undo vampirism in general, but did nothing for Lamae no matter how much she begged him for it. For this reason, when she is met in the prequel Online, Lamae plots against Arkay just as much as she does against Molag Bal.
  • Unholy Matrimony:
    • The Night Mother is the mysterious Evil Matriarch leader of the Dark Brotherhood, an illegal assassin's guild with a propensity toward Psycho for Hire traits in its membership who practice a Religion of Evil worshipping Sithis, a primeval God of Evil force representing chaos, change, and limitation. The Night Mother is said to be the "wife" of Sithis who, according to legend, was once a mortal woman who sacrificed her five children to Sithis.
    • This is often the case between Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares, and her mortal champions. Nevermind that mortals merely being brought into her realm of Quagmire counts as a form of Mind Rape...and she is implied to see this as a show of affection.
  • Unidentified Items: Throughout the series, Alchemical ingredients typically have up to four properties which, when combined with other ingredients having at least one of the same properties, will brew into a potion of that property. Having a low Alchemy skill prevents you from being able to see all of the available properties. However, tasting the ingredients exposes the player to diluted version of their powers — as opposed to the stronger powers of potions brewed from these ingredients — so it's almost always safe to taste them. The worst that might happen is having your health or one of your attributes drained slightly for a few seconds. (This also leads to the odd habit of eating precious gems, hunks of ore, raw creature parts, etc. just to see what effects they might have.)
  • Unique Enemy: These are liberally sprinkled throughout the series. Some are involved in quests, but others simply exist with no real explanation given for what they are or why they're there.
  • Unique Items: The series has a great number of these in each game. Daedric artifacts are the most evident, but there are many other examples of quest reward items and unique NPC equipment which fit, many of which have their own textures. The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages maintains a list of unique items for each game.
  • Uniqueness Decay: It is established in Morrowind (and to a lesser degree in Daggerfall) that Daedric, Ebony, and Glass (high end Fantasy Metals, with the latter two having Non-Indicative Names) equipment is extremely rare, powerful, and expensive. Due to Morrowind's extremely limited Level Scaling (unique for the series), the game world is largely static with items hand-placed outside of containers never changing, meaning that a level one character can find the same loot as a much higher level character (often turning into a Disc-One Nuke situation and averting the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness). This means that finding equipment made from these canonically rare materials is a real accomplishment. The only NPCs who possess this equipment are either high ranking nobles and knights or very strong bandit leaders. However, in Oblivion and Skyrim, the level-scaling system significantly changes the loot distribution mechanic along with changes to the level-scaling system in general. These games rely on a strictly level-based loot system, with the player finding increasingly more powerful equipment as they level up, resulting in a high level character finding supposedly rare equipment in almost every treasure chest and blacksmith's inventory. Another side effect of this is that almost every bandit also wields strong equipment, severely downplaying the fact your character possesses equipment made from rare materials.
  • Universal Poison: Played with in different ways in each game in the series. Initially played straight for poison, but later installments add different types of poison along with different mechanics for using it. Specific details by game are available on the trope page.
  • Unknown Item Identification: Throughout the series, Alchemical ingredients typically have up to four properties which, when combined with other ingredients having at least one of the same properties, will brew into a potion of that property. Having a low Alchemy skill prevents you from being able to see all of the available properties. However, tasting the ingredients exposes the player to diluted version of their powers — as opposed to the stronger powers of potions brewed from these ingredients — so it's almost always safe to taste them. The worst that might happen is having your health or one of your attributes drained slightly for a few seconds. (This also leads to the odd habit of eating precious gems, hunks of ore, raw creature parts, etc. just to see what effects they might have.) Skyrim adjusts the system so that ingredients that the player has not used in experiments always have unknown properties. However, tasting the ingredients will still reveal effects, with extremely minor and temporary side effects as the only possible downside.
  • Unobtanium:
    • In general, there are a number of materials which qualify, several with a Non-Indicative Name. Primarily, there is Ebony, which here is similar to a volcanic glass (and theorized to be the petrified blood of the dead creator god). It's worth more than gold when used as bullion, can be forged into extremely high quality weapons and armor, and can be imbued with Daedric souls to create devastating Daedric weapons and armor. There is also Glass, which is an iridescent green mineral, and like Ebony, can be forged into high-quality light armor and weapons.
    • Dwemer (Dwarven) metal is an interesting case, as it's unobtainium In-Universe: in-game books in Skyrim reveal that mages, smiths, and scholars have tried for years to imitate its properties, with no success. The Dwemer were known to tinker with the laws of nature and physics, so its highly likely they applied these skills to their metallurgy. The only reliable source is recycled scrap metal from Dwemer ruins.
  • Unperson:
    • During the 1st Era, the Ayleids of Cyrodiil took the Nedes, human ancestors to most of the modern races of Men, as slaves. Eventually, after much Dog-Kicking, the slaves revolted and, supported by the Aedra and some rebel Ayleid lords, overthrew their former masters. The Ayleid lords who supported the revolt were allowed to keep their lands as vassals in the new empire of Men. However, about a century later, the Alessian Order, an extremist anti-elven religious order led by the "monkey prophet" Maruhk, came to power in the young empire. They attempted to completely erase all trace of the Ayleids from history. While they obviously weren't completely successful, they did enough damage that the Ayleids are left shrouded in the mists of history while their magics and technologies are lost.
    • Also from the backstory, Yokuda (the ancient homeland of the Redguards) was once the home to the Sinistral Mer (or "Left-Handed Elves"). The two races fought a devastating war, which left the Sinistral Mer extinct. To this day, the Redguards do not speak about them for talking about them tends to "darken their days."
    • In the 4th Era, the Thalmor-led Aldmeri Dominion are attempting to do this to the deity, Talos. Talos, the Ninth Divine, is said to be the ascended god-form of Tiber Septim (and possibly others), the founder of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire. As part of the treaty that ended the Great War between the Dominion and the Vestigial Third Cyrodiilic Empire, worship of Talos is officially banned throughout the empire. Officially, their reasoning is that they do not believe a man could become a god. (Altmeri religion states that the races of Mer (Elves) are the direct descendants of the Aedra, and that the thought of a man joining their ranks is insulting.) However, outside sources (supported by in-game evidence) indicate that what the Thalmor really want to do is to unmake reality, as they believe the act of creation was a cruel trick which forced their divine ancestors to experience mortal suffering and death. They believe that Talos is one of the last things keeping the mortal world extant, and they believe that they an Kill the God by banning his worship.
    • According to C0DA, an "Obscure Text" online graphic novel by former series writer Michael Kirkbride, Numidium possesses an ability known as the "ancestroscythe" which can cause this. In C0DA, rather than being destroyed by the Underking as previously believed, Numidium was instead caught in a time warp and emerges in the distant 5th Era where the Aldmeri Dominion, led by the Thalmor, dominates Tamriel. Picking up where it left off in the 2nd Era, Numidium wages war on the Dominion and uses the ancestroscythe to refute the entire Altmer race from existence.
  • The Unpronounceable:
    • The Psijic Order, the series' resident Omniscient Council of Vagueness Magical Society which sometimes steps in to protect the world from threats it is not ready to handle, originally had the name "PSJJJJ," which is deliberately unpronounceable. "Psijic" is merely a phonetic transcription of non-Psijic's attempts to pronounce it, which seems to have been adopted by the Psijics themselves, at least when speaking to non-Psijics.
    • "Ayalea", a Nymph from the in-game book A Scholar's Guide to Nymphs is, the author admits, merely "a poor phonetic transcription" of her real name, which is "a word that sounds more like a light wind blowing through a small crack in a hollow chamber."
    • Dreugh, a race of aquatic humanoid octopi, tend to have names like this along with the use of a Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër. Known Dreugh names include Zizzikkiz'Tk and Kra'gh, as well as Dreugh place names like Mor-Galg and Djaf.
  • Unreliable Canon: Invoked. In-universe, Bethesda refuses to invalidate your choices about who your character is and what he/she does. Therefore, there is no definitive version of the Nerevarine/Champion/Dragonborn, etc. and very few canonized events (the main quest line usually being an exception.) Additionally, 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 in-universe 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 lore to both be true. (And due to frequent events in-universe that alter the timeline, both may become literally be true in-universe.)
  • Unreliable Expositor: In line with Unreliable Canon above, pretty much all sources of in-universe lore should be treated this way. To note:
    • Due to the sheer depth of the series' lore and backstory, the detailed nature of the game world, and the number of different overlapping cultures and mythologies, it is very difficult to take anything that any in-universe character says or writes as truly "reliable".
    • Even historical in-universe statements and texts need to be treated this way for a variety of, often justified, reasons (just like in real life). To note:
      • The expositor in question is drawing from incomplete sources. There are some 5000+ years of history in Nirn that have passed before the main series even takes place. Before that, there was the Dawn Era, very much a Time of Myths before linear time even applied. Historical details have been lost, along with entire cultures and races, in that time. In many cases, something you find or do in-game turns up new and contradictory information than what is recorded in the "official" histories.
      • The expositor in question is drawing from biased sources and widespread propaganda, telling only one side of a story and/or omitting certain details while anything to the contrary is heavily censored. Historical accounts Written by the Winners and containing Historical Hero Upgrades provide plentiful examples.
      • The expositor is deliberately lying, telling half-truths, and/or is telling Metaphorical Truths. The Dunmeri Physical God Vivec positively embodies this, but there are plenty of other examples as well.
    • One major exception are the Elder Scrolls themselves, which are completely irrefutable recordings (due to their connections to reality itself) of the past, present, and future. If attuned to a specific point in history (assuming it wasn't during a Time Crash), they can tell you exactly what happened. At least, if a trained reader (such as a Moth Priest) is the one doing the reading. (An amateur reader is more likely to leave with no real information, as well as a nasty case of blindness and madness...) And since even Moth Priests, with their lifetimes of training, are only able to read the Scrolls a finite number of times before becoming blind, those in power prefer they use the Scrolls to predict the future rather than looking into the past. (And in some cases, those in power may have good reason to want to keep the past buried...)
    • Another complicating factor is the prevalence of Time Crash events (during which Reality Is Out to Lunch) in the setting, as well as numerous groups and individuals with Reality Warper abilities. means that it is entirely possible that a piece of exposition is only reliable at the moment.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Many of the series' in-game books must be treated as unreliable for a variety of reasons. Even historical in-universe statements and texts need to be treated this way for a variety of, often justified, reasons (just like in real life).
  • Unrobotic Reveal: The extinct Dwemer were a supremely technologically advanced race, capable of creating Steam Punk machinery blended with their skill as enchanters to create powerful Magitek technology. Their greatest ancient rivals were the much more primitive Chimer, ancestors of the modern Dunmer (Dark Elves). The Dwemer were well known for creating automaton Mecha-Mooks, ranging in size from Fun Size Spider Tank workers through several humanoid forms, to outright Humongous Mecha. The in-game book Chimarvamidium speaks of how these automatons were even better known at the time than soldiers in full-plate mail armor. The book is about a group of Chimer who attempt to turn a Dwemer "golem" against its makers...
  • The Un-Reveal:
    • The Night Mother is a mysterious figure who leads the Dark Brotherhood, an illegal assassins guild whose members typically take a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil, worshiping the "Dread Father" Sithis, the primordial "Is-Not" antithesis of creation. Despite making four appearances in four different games in the series, as well as mentions in in-game books, we still aren't completely sure who or what she is. (There have been a few hints dropped, but so far, not enough to piece together anything close to a complete picture.)
    • Though it is possible to rule out some of the more obvious Blatant Lies laden stories in the "Rashomon"-Style accounts of the events surrounding the Battle of Red Mountain, no "true" account has ever been confirmed. This includes the Riddle for the Ages cause of the disappearance of the Dwemer. There are hints and bits of evidence scattered throughout the series which have sparked many theories, in-universe and out, but nothing conclusive.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: In a race-specific example, the series has the (believed to be) extinct Dwemer, the "Deep Elves" or "Dwarves", of all of North Tamriel, whose civilization ("Dwemereth") once spanned from Hammerfell across Skyrim to Morrowind, where the epicenter of their culture was built in and around Red Mountain. They were a highly technologically advanced race who created all manner of Magitek and Steam Punk technology, which remains unmatched by any other race in Tamriel. They were also extreme Naytheists for whom a major part of their outlook was the idea of refuting everything as real. During the mid-1st Era, they discovered the Heart of Lorkhan (the "divine center" of the dead creator god of the mortal plane) deep beneath Red Mountain. Though there are many different versions of the story regarding what happened next, the Dwemer did something with the Heart that caused their entire race to disappear from every known plane of existence in a single instant. The leading theory (which you can put together yourself in the Mages Guild quest line in Morrowind) states that they were trying to break themselves down into their base elements before ascending into divine form. However, they got something wrong with the "reforging" step and instead blinked out of existence. Other theories state that they may have even been successful in their attempt, and are currently on said "higher plane." Making it only more confusing is one particular Dwemer ruin that shows whatever happened was violent and abrupt: it's a residential area, and you find piles of ash that used to be Dwemer in beds or near their piles of equipment on guard duty. Despite the theories, no definitive answer has been given in the series to date. One single Dwemer, Yagrum Bagarn, was off exploring unsubscribed "outer realms" at the time and returned to find his people gone. He doesn't know what happened either, or why he (and apparently only he) remained, and he only lived to tell his tale because he became infected with the Corprus Disease (one of the side-effects of which turns the sufferer into The Ageless). The In-Universe mystery of the Dwemer has only deepened by the time of Skyrim since much of what was known about the Dwemer was again lost in the 200 years following the Oblivion Crisis and the eruption of Red Mountain (which wiped away a great number of Dwemeri ruins in Vvardenfell, the epicenter of Dwemer culture prior to their disappearance). Even one of the greatest experts on the Dwemer, Calcelmo, knows less about the Dwemer than some amateur archeologists in Vvardenfell during the time of Morrowind.
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • Throughout the series, once they became playable, Orcs have had this as a racial ability. It significantly increases their ability to dish out and take damage for a duration of time.
    • Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker. Believed to have been a Shezarrine, physical incarnations of the spirit of the "dead" creator god Lorkhan (known to the Imperials as "Shezarr"), Pelinal came to St. Alessia to serve as her divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. Pelinal would fly into fits of such legendary rage (mostly directed at the Ayleids) during which he would be stained with their blood and left so much carnage in his wake that Kyne, one of the Divines, would have to send in her rain to cleanse Ayleid forts and village before they could be used by Alessia's forces. In one particularly infamous fit of rage, Pelinal went so berserk that he not only slew the Ayleids in a particular kingdom, but erased their lands from the world. The Divines were so disgusted with his actions that they nearly left the world if not for Alessia making sacrifices to regain their favor.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment:
    • Generally averted with NPC enemies throughout the series. If they're carrying a weapon or wearing armor, you can kill them and take those items from their corpse.
    • Generally played straight with the armor of "creature," undead, and Daedric enemies. While you can still typically loot their weapons and shields (with a few exceptions), you won't be able to pry the armor off of that Dremora or robes off of that Lich.
    • Played straight with spells. You won't get to learn an opponent's spells by killing him. You'll need to purchase the spell or spellbook (or create it, in the case of custom spells) in order to learn it.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • "Morag Tong", the name of the native Dunmeri assassin's guild, translates to "Foresters' Guild". They also employ a lot of Double Speak, such as referring to assassinations as "honorable executions" because they are legal (within Morrowind).
    • Argonians have the unusual racial tic of referring to all other races as "landstriders."
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In general throughout the series, you can be running around in legendary artifact armor, carrying a weapon forged by the gods themselves, be accompanied by any number of colorful companions, have a couple of summoned creatures by your side...and very few, if any, NPCs will actually comment on it. You can even steal equipment from a NPC, equip it yourself, talk to them, and they won't catch on. As the games have gotten more advanced over time, aversions occur more frequently, but it is still not the norm. Examples of specific aversions can be found on the trope page listed by game.
  • Unwinnable by Design: In games prior to the "essential" tag being added to plot-important NPCs, it is possible to break the main quest (as well as any side quest) simply by killing a NPC required to receive/complete the quest. This is also possible by misplacing plot relevant items for those quests as well. (Similarly, the "quest item" tag was added started with Oblivion to prevent this.)
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Due to the sheer size and scale of the games in the series, there are plentiful bugs and glitches which can render you unable to complete certain quests, right up to the main quests themselves. A breakdown by game is available on the trope page.
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • This is frequently the case for the Player Character in each game. Thankfully, the only manipulators who you can't get bloody revenge against in these games are the untouchable Daedric Princes, and they at least compensate you for your work with cool artifacts.
    • Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, is said to be one by Haskill, the chamberlain of Sheogorath, in an obscure text. Haskill describes Dagon as "the pawn of every Prince of true power, the dupe of every schemer in the Nineteen Voids." Essentially, whenever one of the other Powers That Be in the setting wants to accomplish something that involves destruction of some sort, they get Dagon to do the heavy lifting, and thus they pass all the blame on Dagon who is already widely considered a God of Evil.
    • In the backstory, Barenziah, while she was Queen of Morrowind, was one to "the Nightingale" (who was either Arena Big Bad Jagar Tharn or his agent, Drayven Indoril, sources are unclear). The Nightingale used her attraction to him in order to acquire the Staff of Chaos. She would, however, work to make things right, using Jagar Tharn's attraction to her in order to get close enough to him to decipher his notes and send them as clues to the people working against him.
    • Also from the backstory, St. Veloth was the legendary Chimer mystic who led his people away from the decadence of the Summerset Isles to their new homeland in Morrowind after receiving visions from the "Good" Daedra (Azura, Boethia, and Mephala). Given their other actions and propensity toward manipulation, it is very possible that they deceived Veloth into leading The Migration of the Chimer for their benefit only.
  • Updated Re-release: Each game since Morrowind has received one of these roughly 1-2 years after initial release, which also includes the game's expansion packs/DLC as well as major patches. Skyrim may very well set the record for a video game, receiving two such re-releases (the Legendary and Special editions), as well as separate new releases on the Nintendo Switch and Playstation VR.
  • Upgrade Artifact:
    • Skill books have been present in the series since Morrowind. When read, they'll automatically increase one of your skills by one point. They also typically contain short stories related to the skill in question.
    • The Oghma Infinium is an artifact associated with the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora. When read, it will impart knowledge on the reader which drastically increases the abilities of the reader (with the exact mechanics varying by game).
    • The Bittercup is an artifact associated with the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile. Drinking from it will instantly give a massive boost to your top two attributes, up to the limit of 100. However, this one also come with a downside, as it will decrease your lowest two attributes by the same amount.
  • Urban Segregation: Present in numerous major cities throughout the series. Notable examples include Vivec (Plaza > Waistworks > Canalworks > Sewers), the Imperial City (marble and stone homes where the well-to-do live, with the waterfront as a poorer district), and Windhelm (with the western side including mansions for the Nord nobility, while the eastern "Gray District" is slums for the poor and the segregated Dunmer).
  • Uriah Gambit: Used by several Treacherous Quest Givers and The Moles throughout the series, who hope to get the player character killed. Specific examples are listed by game on the trope page.
  • Use Item: Early in the series (through Morrowind), Enchanted items can work like this. When creating the item, you can choose to have the spell effect activate in one of three ways: "When Used", "On Strike" (weapons only), and "Constant Effect" (which requires a massively powerful soul gem). By selecting "When Used", you can ready the item as a spell and activate it's enchantment in this fashion. Oblivion and all subsequent games drop this mechanic for enchanted items. In them, weapons can only be enchanted to activate the effect on strike, while items like clothing, armor, and jewelry can only be enchanted as constant effects activated by equipping them.
  • Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: Each game in the series typically has at least one skill or attribute which qualifies. A full list by game is available on the trope page.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • The Feather and Burden spell effects in any game where they appear. They function, sure, reducing or increasing (respectively) the target's carry weight. However, it is much more efficient to use Fortify/Drain Strength instead. This also comes with the added benefit of increasing/reducing the target's melee damage as well.
    • A massive number of spells throughout the series are useless simply because they have no effect on anyone or anything besides the Player Character. These Blind (which darkens the screen by a percentage for the player, but has no effect on NPCs), Weakness to Disease (as NPCs cannot catch diseases by the standard mechanic), Drain Personality (again, no tangible effect on NPCs), etc. A break down by game is available on the trope page.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: The series has included a stealth system dating back to Daggerfall, with its usefulness heavily played with in different instances, often depending on the game in question and the specific "use" you have for stealth. Specific details for each game can be found on the trope page.
  • The Usual Adversaries:
    • The series in general has bandits. Sometimes they're called a different name (smugglers, brigands, etc.) but they always fill the niche of low-end generic enemies with Hard-Coded Hostility that populate the games' many caves and ruins.
    • The main Mooks of the Big Bad in each game qualify as well. Included are the Ash and lesser Dagoth creatures in Morrowind, Dremora in Oblivion, and Draugrs in Skyrim.
  • Utility Magic: Spells which fall under the Alteration school of magic are almost entirely this - Levitation (Morrowind only), opening locks, increasing the amount of weight you can carry, night eye and light spells (later reclassified to Illusion), water walking and breathing, etc. It's basically all about enhancing your mobility and your ability to explore.


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