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Tropes that apply to any Show Within a Show in The Elder Scrolls verse. Some are pure fiction, others tales based around historical events, while a select few are historical documents. Some people mentioned actually exist in game or previous ones, often as high level skill trainers.
All texts can be found at The Imperial Library fansite.
Tropes found in said books include
- Action Girl: Matilda, slayer of Ragnar the Red.
- Ambiguous Gender: Whoever first told the story of Weedle the Beggar Prince went to great lengths to avoid specifying Weedle's gender.
- Appropriated Appellation: 'Renrijra Krin' is a derogatory expression, but it amuses them so they have adopted it as their name.
- Artificial Dunmer: Vivec's second mother, which was built by Dwemer.
- Asshole Victim: The uncle in The Axe Man.
- Awesome but Impractical / Boring but Practical: The Armorer's Challenge. A gladiator wearing rusted scale mail and armed with a spear beats another gladiator wearing ebony armor and armed with an enchanted dai-katana, because the arena is flooded to resemble swamp terrain and his gear is more suited to the conditions.
- Black Comedy: Essentially the entire point of the seven-volume story A Dance In Fire. A clerk from Imperial City is fired and, desperate, heads to Valenwood to sell building contracts to the Bosmer so they can fix their infrastructure after a war with the Khajiit. While he's there, horrible things happen to him and everyone around him on a regular basis. Among other things; he loses all his money very quickly, the war starts up again so he's constantly narrowly dodging bands of rampaging Khajiit, he encounters an ex-pirate who's miserable about the war have driven him into honest work, various things try to eat him (and there's a Running Gag about the cannibalistic Bosmer), and he's accosted by a poet unjustifiably convinced that he's found a fellow scholar of Bosmer verse and won't shut up about it. (Said poet is the source of the title.) Even when he survives and gets home safely with a new and more lucrative job in hand, the story has one more thing in store.
- Blessed with Suck: The Beggar Prince
- Bluffing the Murderer: Helseth bluffs a spy into revealing themselves in A Game at Dinner.
- Breakout Character: Originally a minor sidequest in Morrowind, the The Lusty Argonian Maid appears frequently, even the subject of some dialog, in Oblivion due to the Memetic Mutation it received. By Skyrim, an equally filthy sequel has been published.
- Canon Name: The dead brother in the Daggerfall quest "Missing Prince" has a random name every time the game is played. Night Falls on Sentinel gives the victim's name as Arthago.
- Crazy Awesome: Vivec in 36 Lessons of Vivec.
- Combat Pragmatist: The Renrijra Krin are all about this, as described in the Ahzirr Traajijazeri:
If an enemy is facing us, we might consider our options, and even slip away if his sword looks too big. If his back is to us, however, I personally favor knocking him down, and then jumping on his neck where the bones snap with a gratifying crunch. Of course, it is up to you and your personal style.
- David Versus Goliath In 16 Accords of Madness - Volume VI, Sheogorath and Hircine challenge each other to summon beasts that will duel to the death; Hircine chooses a mutated daedroth while Sheogorath chooses a songbird. The songbird perches on the daedroth's snout and tricks it into blinding itself with its own claws, then proceeds to taunt it with cheerful song as it tears itself apart trying to find and kill its prey.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Song of Hrormir concerns a warrior who makes a Deal with the Devil with Nocturnal, but words his oath of loyalty in such a way that the first part of his oath exempts him from adhering to the rest of it.
- Doorstopper: 36 Lessons of Vivec. 'Nuff said. There are 36 volumes of this holy text.
- 2920 also gets an honorary mention, with 12 volumes.
- Double Entendre: in The Lusty Argonian Maid. Spear polishing, indeed.
- And with volume 2 in Skyrim we can add "bread baking" to this.
- One of the Lessons of Vivec as well, describing his encounter with Molag Bal.
- Early-Bird Cameo:
- The Daedric Lord Jyggalag has actually been mentioned in the Lore since Daggerfall (in the book On Oblivion, where he was listed along with the other Daedric Princes), but we didn't learn anything about him apart from his name until the Shivering Isles expansion pack of Oblivion not only established him as the Prince of Order, but provided his on-screen debut in an Elder Scrolls game.
- Movarth, the vampire hunter in Immortal Blood, appears in Skyrim as the lord of a vampire clan. It seems the book's narrator decided to turn him instead of killing him.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Dremora interviewed in Spirit of the Daedra claims that daedra, being immortal, cannot comprehend mortals. Surely any creature, faced with the knowledge that its own existence is finite, should instantly succumb to despair?
- Exact Words: The Importance of Where is about a warrior learning where to strike blows, ensuring that the monster dies because he struck its weakpoints, and he takes the glory for killing it because he chases the monster to his village before striking the killing blow.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Well-described sex scenes are rather common. The most notable example might well be "The Real Barenziah," which was censored in Morrowind and Oblivion and was originally very graphic (including IKEA Erotica).
- God Save Us From the Queen: One of the longer books is "The Wolf Queen," and it's about Potema, a ruthless woman who did everything she could to elevate herself and screw over everyone else. During the last part of her reign, she resorted to hiring tons of necromancers and daedra conjurers. One of her final acts was giving future emperor Pelagius III (then, just a boy) a small charm which would slowly erode his sanity as an adult, just to screw over him and his family after she was gone.
- She is mentioned in several other books, and (in undead form) shows up in Skyrim. By all appearances, she actually was that bad, although some of the specific things (such as arranging for Pelagius III's insanity) The Wolf Queen implies or outright says she was responsible for does not appear in other sources.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In The Three Thieves, an assassin teaches his two partners how to slice someone's throat without giving them chance to scream or covering yourself in bloodstains. When he tries to scam them out of their shares following a heist, they use one of his own techniques to murder him in his bed.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Posting of the Hunt describes a ritual in which the Daedra ritualistically hunt mortals using the Spear of Bitter Mercy. According to Spirit of the Daedra, all sentient daedra regard themselves as huntsmen, with mortals as their prey.
- Ironic Echo: Night Falls on Sentinel ends with female knight Haballa about to use the pressure points described by assassin Jomic on him.
- Know When to Fold'Em: The Renrijra Krin.
Do not ally yourself with the Renrij if you yearn to be part of a mighty army, marching resolutely forth, for whom retreat is anathema. We will laugh at your suicidal idiocy as we slip into the reeds of the river, and watch the inevitable slaughter.
- Lady Macbeth: The person running the torturer chamber in The Horror of Castle Xyr turns out not to be the Telvanni mage who owns the castle it is in, but rather his wife.
- Love At First Punch: Fjori and Holgeir met on the battlefield, and became lovers.
- Mind Screw: Applies to the metaphysics and finer theological points of the Elder Scrolls universe anyway, but special mention has to go to the mysterious concept of CHIM briefly (and sketchily) outlined in The 36 Lessons of Vivec. Even mentioning it is certain to provoke hours of heated philosophical discussion in certain corners of the internet. Perhaps the most popular - but in no way universal or unanimous - theory is that to achieve CHIM is essentially to realise that one exists solely in a video game, but since the entirety of The 36 Lessons of Vivec is a cataclysmic pile of insanity to start with, even getting as simple an answer as that out of the text involves a lot of assumptions.
- Oh My Gods: Common.
- Pressure Point: Described in Night Falls on Sentinel, which raises a reader's blunt weapon skill.
- Right Through His Pants: Hallgerd's Tale involves the implication the heavy armor master had sex with his armor still on, and was in fact more, ah, skilled than he was with it off. The mind boggles.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness/Techno Babble: Liminal Bridges very much so.
A transliminal passage of quickened objects or entities without the persistant agency of hyperagonal media is impossible,and even if possible would result in the instantaneous retromission of the transported referents. Only a transpontine circumpenetration of the limen will result in transits of greater than infinitessimal duration...
- Sincerity Mode: The Horror of Castle Xyr notes that the Clavides' response of "As, I hear, are all Telvanni," to the line "We're loyal Imperial subjects," should not be read sarcastically.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Most of the characters in the 'Beggar, Thief, Warrior, King' Quadrilogy. Also invoked by the vampires in 'Surfeit of Thieves'.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Ragnar the Red
- Title Confusion: Oblivion contains The Horror of Castle Xyr as The Horrors of Castle Xyr for an In-Universe/meta/something example.
- Unreliable Narrator/Unreliable Expositor: Sorting fact from fiction is a little hard here.
- Wax On, Wax Off: The Axe Man contains an unintentional example. An orphan used by his uncle for labor uses the skills learned to murder said uncle and clean up after himself.
- What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The 36 lessons of Vivec. Somebody must have found some interesting substances before writing those.
- Whiskey, cigarettes and being naked in a dark room is the apocryphal account of how Kirkbride came up with it. Unknown whether this is true.
- Ruminations on Elder Scrolls in Skyrim was actually written by an author who was on something. An actual Elder Scroll is, apparently, one hell of a drug.
- You Are Number Six: According to Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st edition, Altmer from the Summerset Isles don't have names, just combinations of numbers that sound like such to the few humans who visit the isles and hear them speaking to one another.