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YMMV / The Elder Scrolls

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The Games:

  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: The Spell Absorption effect in Oblivion and Skyrim has an odd habit of absorbing spells that would logically help you more, such as causing your summoning spells to fail, or causing the divine blessing you prayed for to be converted into Magicka, which is pretty easy to regain in these games. In Skyrim, the effect affects everything that's not physical attacks, fall damage or drowning.
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  • Anti-Climax Boss: For someone who is feared by anyone who knows at least what necromancy is, Mannimarco in Oblivion goes down very fast.
  • Ambiguously Evil: After Shivering Isles, Sheogorath can be considered as such. The reason this is listed as YMMV is that it's not ambiguous in-universe (where he is still considered an evil Daedra) but to the fanbase. Many debates have raged over his presentation since the DLC, and the main crux of the argument is how much of him is the Champion of Cyrodiil now. Those who believe the Mad God is as evil as ever say that the Champion's personality was subsumed by the role of Sheogorath, and that his treatment of Pelagius in Skyrim was just another part of tormenting the long-dead Emperor. Those who believe he's now a good Prince argue that the Pelagius quest was a genuine attempt by the new Sheogorath to cure him of the madness afflicted by the old Sheogorath, and that there has been no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part in almost two centuries. It's almost universally agreed that Sheogorath was Mantled (The Champion "Walked" like Sheogorath until the two were indistinguishable), but the crux of the issue is "Do you believe the Champion must now walk like Sheogorath, or that Sheogorath must now walk like the Champion?"
  • Awesome Music: The main themes for each 3D game were composed by Jeremy Soule, and they are epic.
    • "Nerevar Rising" from Morrowind.
    • "Reign of the Septims" from Oblivion.
    • "Dragonborn" from Skyrim.
    • Eric Heberling's soundtracks from Arena and Daggerfall are also fondly remembered, and have been ported (either straight or remixed) over to the more recent titles in the series in several mods.
  • Broken Base: Bethesda has a policy of building every new game from the ground up. As such, the gameplay and tone of each installment of this series is radically different. Some postulate that there is not really such a thing as an Elder Scrolls fan—just fans of one particular ES game or another.
    • Fans are also divided on how official the obscure texts should be treated. Some feel that, given the series Unreliable Canon, the texts are in some ways more canon than what is found in-universe. Others feel that the works are Word of Dante, at best.
    • The fans even manage to disagree about which game is the most Broken Base-causing.
  • Crazy Awesome: Many.
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  • Demonic Spiders: Trolls in Blades. In the other Elder Scrolls games, the trolls have always had a health-regineration ability that heals them over time. The thing is, it was a slow heal, so players could still beat trolls easily. In Blades, however, the regeneration is taken to an extreme, turning trolls into enemies that can singly handily end runs. Worse yet, there are usually multiple trolls in a dungeon.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Fallout and, to a certain extent, Doom, if only for the fact that Bethesda has made or at least worked on games in all three series, and all three series have a number of features and traits that overlap amongst each other.
  • Game-Breaker: Enough to get its own page.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Not that it isn't immensely popular in the US, but the series is huge in Japan and Europe. Japan is an especially notable case, as many Western RPGs tend to fare much more poorly there. (Skyrim was the first Western RPG to receive a perfect score from Famitsu.) Skyrim is so popular in Japan that a significant percentage of the Game Mods created for it come from Japan.
  • Goddamned Bats: Cliff Racers in Morrowind.
  • Growing the Beard: Arena and Daggerfall were quality games and reasonably well received, but were fairly generic fantasy stories lost in a flood of late-90s PC Role Playing Games. Morrowind, trading away some of the openness but being much more focused and polished, was where the qualities that have made The Elder Scrolls so popular really started to come in. It also helped that it was the first major Western RPG to find success on both PC and consoles, making it more accessible and putting it in the hands of more fans. It's highly debated as to whether the beard only continued to grow in thicker with Oblivion and Skyrim or if they're suffering from a serious case of Sequelitis.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Dremora are a grey-skinned, yellow-eyed, horned, shaggy-haired Proud Warrior Race with a complex multi-level Fantastic Caste System who come from Another Dimension and use the Daedric alphabet. They wouldn't be the last.
    • Quagmire, the realm of Vaermina, is described as a nightmare realm that constantly changes its appearance in a matter of minutes, each time becoming more horrifying than before. And then Bethesda published a video game with a setting that fits the same description.
  • Hype Aversion: Pops up frequently. The series is a critical dynamo with a large and very rabid fanbase, but people find reasons to avoid it. More casual gamers have been known to feel overwhelmed by the openness and depth of the series, where one can easily play for hundreds of hours.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: This seems to have happened within The Elder Scrolls fanbase with the release of Oblivion. Hell, it goes back further than that. Prior to Oblivion coming out, it was Morrowind that was the symbol of all the bad trends in the industry. And mostly for the same alleged reason: "dumbing down" for console players. It is now considered the last good Elder Scrolls game by the same crowd. The same thing happened with Skyrim.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Hermaeus Mora is the Daedric Prince of knowledge whose monstrous, formless appearance belies a mind possibly more cunning than any other Daedric Prince in existence. Constantly seeking to hoard knowledge of all sorts to fill the shelves of his arcane library Apocrypha through gambits atop of gambits, Mora bargains with servitors seeking Mora's secrets, rewarding those who are earnest and horribly punishing those who renege on his gifts. in the Dragonborn expansion to Skyrim, Mora realizes his current servant, the Dragonborn Miraak, is attempting to betray him, Mora executes a plan to manipulate the Last Dragonborn into killing and replacing him, simultaneously using them to wrest the long-held secrets of the Skaal by refusing to grant them the last Word of Power necessary to defeat Miraak until they do so. Ultimately, Mora ends up completely untouchable in the end, musing that all the Last Dragonborn has and will do is according to his grand design.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moral Event Horizon: If you summon Molag Bal, expect to do something horrific.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Particularly in Oblivion, where NPC dialogue becomes very repetitive very quickly.
    • The cries of the Cliff Racers
    • For Daggerfall players, this honor goes to the guards' "Halt!" You see, when you commit a crime, the game will start spawning guards constantly, all of them who constantly yell halt, which results in a chorus of "halts!" If you linger around the area where you are wanted long enough, the game may spawn so many guards that it may freeze or crash in a chorus of "Halts".
  • Older Than They Think: Oblivion is sometimes blamed for changing a bizarre Tamriel into a Medieval European Fantasy. Much of these complaints stem from the fact that previous descriptions of the elven provinces, as well as Cyrodiil, had quite a few un-European traits. While those complaints may be justified, some seem to think that all of Tamriel lacked traits from Medieval European Fantasy - anyone who played Arena and Daggerfall would know that this is not the case, but many people at the time of Morrowind's heyday didn't, leading to the assumption that there was not supposed to be any medieval elements in the setting at all. People have cited the fact that the game has horses in it as a reason for the series being ruined, despite the fact that they were in the series from the beginning (though they wouldn't be usable until Daggerfall).
  • Player Punch: The Dark Brotherhood quest line in Oblivion has a very nasty example.
    • And again in Skyrim.
  • Popular with Furries: The ability to play is beast races like the Argonians and the Khajiit, later installments introducing the potential to contract lycanthropy for no glaring downside, and Skyrim's near limitless modding ability is appealing to the furry fandom.
  • Quicksand Box: Common throughout the series, in large part because of how early the games Open The Sandbox for you. Typically, after a brief tutorial and a tip on where to go next for the main quest, you're free to go wherever you want and do whatever you want. There are Loads and Loads of Sidequests, as well as full blown Sidequest Sidestories (some of which are nearly as expansive as the main quest).
  • Sacred Cow: Related to the It's Popular, Now It Sucks! above, Daggerfall as well as Morrowind are this in some areas.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Nazeem in Skyrim is loathed for being an obnoxious douchebag. It does not help that he is located in Whiterun - a city most players will visit early and spend a lot of time in - and usually wanders the streets, so expect to hear his traditional greeting of "Do you get to the Cloud District very often? Oh what am I saying. Of course you don't" a lot. Luckily he is not an essential NPC, so there is quite a long thread on the wiki where players share the many creative ways they have murdered him or tortured him, with highlights such as forcing him to fight his wife, Soul Trapping him and enchanting his own clothes with his soul, and several twisted ritualistic murders taking days of preparation. He also seems to be a Scrappy In-Universe as a possible random quest for the Companions is somebody hiring you to beat him up in a fistfight.
    • Voranil is pretty much Oblivion's equivalent of Nazeem: just like Nazeem, he will always act like a condescending asshole to you, even after you helped the Emperor's son saving the world from Dagon's armies of angry Daedra/been aknowledged as the Divine Crusader/became the new Sheogorath. No matter how many heroic deeds you accomplish in a day's work, you'll never have the "honor" of being invited to his parties and all he'll ever have to tell you is "You're not on my list. And that's all I have to say. If you were somebody, I'd know. But I don't, so you aren't".
    • Back in Morrowind, there's Fargoth, and its expansion pack introduces Gaenor, who's an unholy combination of unpleasable douche and That One Boss.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Looking back at earlier games in the series after playing the more recent games tends to cause this. Arena and Daggerfall seem to get the worst of it, with dated (even for the time they were released) graphics, unintuitive controls compared to more modern games, and boatloads of Early Installment Weirdness. Morrowind and Oblivion still get a bit of it though, both being revolutionary games at the time of their release but looking dated compared to Skyrim and the Bethesda-era Fallout games. (Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas) Essentially, each new game in the series tends to cause this phenomenon with its predecessor games.
  • Sequel Displacement: Each new game does this to the previous games in the series.
    • Daggerfall and Arena definitely have it worst. Most gamers still remember Oblivion and Morrowind, but the first two games are practically invisible now (even though they are ironically the easiest to find, having long since been released as Freeware, and can be easily downloaded from a number of websites, along with emulators to run them).
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: The ability to go wherever you want and do whatever you want is the main selling point of the series for most people. A few specific examples:
    • Reading the many, many, many in-game books. Many hours can be spent this way.
    • Decorating your home. You can spend hours setting up your questing treasures juuust right. Mods to make decorating your home even better and easier are always amongst the most popular of a given game in the series.
    • Loads and Loads of Sidequests plays into this as well. It is possible to spend countless hours just wandering around and stumbling into new sidequests without ever touching the main quest.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: Try saying you played a pre-made class. Count how many people jump on you and call you a noob, insult your intelligence, or criticize you for being "lazy".
    • For that matter, it's best to not mention the lore if you do not want your neck broken in a painful way.
    • One player, new to the series, found out that, despite all the complaints about getting rid of classes in Skyrim, nobody mentioned the pre-made classes. As soon as he asked about them, he was immediately attacked and mocked, being called a "console-fag".
  • Uncanny Valley: Oblivion has two features that were meant to improve immersion, automatic lip-syncing and facial expressions reflecting the NPCs' disposition towards the player. The former is rather wonky, while the latter is on all the time, even when the NPC speaks. Most NPCs' disposition goes up pretty quickly, so the result is a rather disquieting image of somebody laboriously trying to speak through a stiff, creepy grin.
    • The Argonians and Khajit in Morrowind seem to walk like they broke their ankles.
    • Morrowind itself has some Uncanny Valley mostly attributed to the aging of the game. Oh, let's just say it: everyone in Morrowind walks like they have a stick in their ass.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Since the jump to 3D, each game has put out some of the best graphics of its generation. This holds especially true for landscapes.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The 36 Lessons of Vivec from Morrowind. They are a series of 36 books, supposedly penned by the man-god himself, which are written by Michael Kirkbride. In them, he uses oodles of biblical imagery to make sure that, if you take it seriously, there is no way a person could see Vivec as anything less than the absolute god of The Elder Scrolls universe (which, of course, isn't necessarily true but is also exactly what Unreliable Narrator Vivec wants the reader to think). Doubles with Anvilicious. Also with Tropes Are Not Bad. And don't forget Getting Crap Past the Radar since some lessons are loaded with obvious innuendo. Finally, there's a dose of In-Joke too, with glitches in the Redguard engine fictionalized as natural wonders. And it's meant to be a "How-to be the Nerevarine" guidebook, and a "How-to kill me" guidebook. Basically, the 36 Lessons of Vivec are a lot of things to a lot of people.

The Novels:

  • Base-Breaking Character: Annaïg: a struggling heroine wannabe who tragically struggles against the shattering of her romantic delusions, or a meaningless empty shell designed solely to show us Umbriel while Glim, Attrebus, Sul and Colin all get real work done.
  • Ho Yay: In one scene Slyr mentions that "nobody is watching" and Annaig blushes. To which Slyr replies "don't flatter yourself."
  • I Knew It!: Yup, Lord Vivec is gone and the Ministry of Truth crashes into Vivec City at a thousands of miles per hour velocity.
  • Mis-blamed: People think that Keyes destroyed Vvardenfell in this book. In fact, it was Michael Kirkbride, who had been with the series since the nineties, who made the decision and heavily foreshadowed it in Morrowind.
  • Wangst: Subverted. Attebus starts to, but Sul injects some cold hard reason into the situation to set him straight by quite reasonably telling him that there are more important (and far more painful) things than his realizing he isn't as badass as he think he is, and that dwelling on it when the world is in danger is both selfish and stupid.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In The Infernal City, the island of Solstheim is spelled "Soulstheim," causing many Epileptic Trees to sprout up among the Elder Scrolls fandom. Word of God has it that this was just a typo.


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