The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

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"They have taken you from the Imperial City's prison, first by carriage and now by boat, to the east; to Morrowind. Fear not, for I am watchful. You have been chosen."
Azura, from the introduction

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is the fifth videogame in The Elder Scrolls series by Bethesda Softworks, released in 2002. Like the other games in the "core" series (i.e. the ones with numbers in their names), it is a massive, free-form RPG.

This was the first Elder Scrolls game to be released on a console (the Xbox and, later, the Xbox 360) as well as for the PC. As such, it also marked a major shift in gameplay and design philosophy. Gone were Arena and Daggerfall's nigh-infinite, procedurally generated worlds, replaced with carefully hand-crafted environments that, while smaller than their predecessors, were designed to invoke awe and still be far larger than most video games.

Also, the combat system is radically different from the rest of the series, being closer to more traditional RPGs. It is still real-time, but character stats play a far larger role than player skill compared to the rest of the series. This is generally seen as a downgrade (let's face it, non-magical fights are downright boring, and enemies burn through their spells very quickly), perhaps due to Bethesda's inexperience with designing console games.

However, this does not stop Morrowind from being a classic that a large fanbase still plays to this day. Morrowind marked the point where Tamriel ceased to be a standard Medieval European Fantasy setting and became a truly unique Constructed World with highly memorable cultures, history, creatures, landscapes, mythopoea and characters. Gushing fans will tell you that yes, Morrowind imitates the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, but in a much different way than most fantasy worlds do... by putting the same amount of thought and detail into its universe, rather than just borrowing ideas from The Lord of the Rings.

Also, it puts a huge emphasis on the numerous side quests, to the degree where they are pretty much the most important aspect of the game, and are neatly tied into the main story.

The plot is set some years after the events of Daggerfall, on the far eastern frontier of the Tamrielic Empire. The player character is a convict and an orphan in the Imperial City Dungeons. For unknown reasons, The Emperor Uriel Septim VII personally orders that you be released early on the condition that you be shipped to the backwater province of Morrowind (more specifically, the even more backwater district of Vvardenfell) and meet with an agent of his named Caius Cosades. However, upon being released, you are perfectly free to say "screw that" and explore Vvardenfell at your own pace. If you choose to accept the mission given to you, however, you are launched into a labyrinthine plot involving an Ancient Conspiracy, prophecies, lost prophecies, false prophecies, reincarnation, gods, backroom politics, gang wars, The Corruption and lots and lots of walking. Seriously, you spend a good half of the game just walking around. Not that it isn't worth it.

Two expansion packs were later released for PC: Tribunal has you visit Morrowind Province's capital city of Mournhold to investigate an assassination plot against you. It's a fair bit more challenging than the original game, and intended for mid-to-high level characters. Unfortunately, it is not a Wide Open Sandbox like the rest of the game, as you are restricted to only one part of the stated-to-be massive city and the sewers/ruins beneath it. The new antagonist also turns out to have set up the crappiest excuse for an Evil Plan ever.

The second expansion Bloodmoon is generally considered far better. Set in a frozen tundra with a refreshingly different atmosphere than the main game, it returns to the Wide Open Sandbox formula. There are effectively two main quests to follow in Bloodmoon. The first begins when the player signs on to help an Imperial Legion captain with some odd jobs around his fort, which expands into a simple-but-dramatic plot about rescuing him from the Most Dangerous Game... by taking part in it yourself. Also, werewolves are involved. The second involves helping the new Imperial mining colony of Raven Rock grow from absolutely nothing into a flourishing frontier settlement, with plenty of somewhat interesting moral dilemmas along the way.

Tropes used in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind include:
  • 100% Heroism Rating: After you complete the main quest, many people will stammer and ask you to forgive them because they don't know how to speak to such an important person. Others will thank you for your heroic deeds.
  • Affably Evil: One of Dagoth Ur's highest-ranking goons will exchange a pleasant conversation with you and offer you some fine vintage brandy before offering to let you strike first. Also, Dagoth Ur is rather polite right up until you try to kill him.
  • Alien Geometries: Some Daedric shrines are designed in impossible ways. For example, look at the map of Bal Fell. Notice anything odd?
  • All Myths Are True: But there are many different variations of them, so good luck figuring out exactly what parts are true.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Easily the best gauntlets in the whole game were only attainable by searching behind a few giant coffins. They were easy to miss if you weren't a compulsive klepto, as there's nothing of note by the coffins themselves. Lesser examples include a tanto behind the bed in an inn, a magic sword on top of a bunk-bed in a watch-tower, and a magic ring underneath a mushroom in a cave. And pretty much ALL the Propylon Indices. Oh, and a magic axe in a tree stump right in the freaking starting village. Sure, you probably can't effectively use it at that point and when you can it's not that good, but it's worth a lot.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Larrius Varro of the Imperial Legion used to be a straight up law abiding legionnaire. Unfortunately, since the long arm of the law doesn't seem to reach certain criminals, he spends his days praying for a little bloodbath to wash away the bad people.
    • In a more general sense, many missions given the player by certain guilds or extensions of joinable organization (like the Office of the Watch in Vivec) will hire the player to do a little vigilante justice, and in almost all cases, they admit they'd like to have the actual authorities do the job, but since that isn't working (usually because the target has friends in high places), you'll be serving as their indirect extension of authority.
  • Anyone Can Die: Because you can kill them if you want to and are strong/clever enough. Okay, so Daedra can't die, but they can get the crap beaten out of them and be sent back to their plane of Oblivion.
  • Artifact of Doom:
    • Akhulakhan, an ancient Humongous Mecha, and the still-throbbing heart of the dead god Lorkhan.
    • A number of the special weapons you can garner though temple, imperial cult, imperial legion and daedric prince quests also count considering we're often talking weapons created by the hands of gods to sow destruction across the lands or something cliched like that.
  • Artifact Title: The Elder Scrolls are only mentioned once (not counting lore), as the impetus for the Emperor sending you to serve as the Nerevarine.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions:
    • People appear to be programmed to say certain things depending on a couple conditions. If you're sick, they'll say "eeeew get away from me" or tell you to go to a healer. This sometimes is funny when the healer tells you this. But if you talk to them, they'll ignore that you happen to have some kind of ailment. Civilians don't stand in one place, thankfully, but instead, they just aimlessly wander around the towns 24/7, sometimes getting stuck trying to walk through each other. They also sometimes don't react to monsters... which can be quite funny when they just stand there as an Ash Zombie had crawled into your house.
    • And sometimes, the "greetings" will cause them to break character. Such as the stuck-up-holier-than-thou Mage's Guild leader not talking down to you. Or Caius saying "Pleasure to meet you" after he's given you at least four quests.
    • This can even be useful: there are a couple of situations where you want to kill someone, but their standard greeting drops you out of the conversation with a goodbye, keeping you from taunting them to attack you first. The thing is, the 'naked-greeting' usually supercedes that greeting...
    • Really, it tends to be just funny moreso. Especially when guards get stuck trying to walk over unconscious bodies, tell you to move along when a dark elf is trying to punch your lights out, but then shout "YOU N'WAH!" if you fight back (and sometimes they just watch the ensuing brawl).
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Companion AI is really bad, with spellcasters firing at enemies even if you happen to be in the way. They also tend to get stuck on rocks quite a bit.
    • Enemies can be really dense too. Spellcasters will attempt to get in front of you, but if something like a post is nearby, you can dart in and out from it so long as the spell caster isn't too far away and get them to waste their spells on a fake target. Ranged/throwing weapon using enemies can be made fairly easy to dispatch if you manage to run up right in front of them, which clips you past the effective hitbox they have for hitting you with an arrow or throwing star.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • This is apparently what most of the dwarven race tried to do. It's never revealed if they were successful because if they were, they are all on said higher plane of existence, and if not, they're all dead. Whatever happened, it even affected Dwemer colonies on the other side of Tamriel with absolutely no connection to the project, though it did leave one dwarf alive and in a position to return to Nirn.
      • Careful reading of the various in-game sources on the matter, and conversing with the experts in the field (including Vivec, one of the three deities of the Tribunal), will likely lead to the hypothesis that they tried to unmake themselves down to basic elements and then become reforged into new, ascended beings. Unfortunately, they didn't get the reforging process right, and so they were instead deleted from existence. Of course, whether even this theory is true or not is entirely unknown...
      • Later in Skyrim, one mage tries to reproduce the Dwarven experiment in a smaller scale, substituting a modified soul gem for the Heart of Lorkhan and using the original, but severely depowered Keening. He vanishes, but can be summoned from somewhere as a ghost. Can this count as ascension to a higher plane? Your mileage may vary, but many people would think it's a pretty rotten existence.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • The Hammer of Stendarr in the Tribunal expansion is a MASSIVE warhammer that does insanely high damage, but breaks on the first swing and weighs half a ton, rendering it nigh-unusable.
    • Vampirism. It gives you some extra powers and some massive stat boosts that can break the stat caps... but sunlight will kill you, you can no longer use any shops or services in Vvardenfell, and you can only complete quests for House Telvanni, the Mages' Guild, and one of three well-hidden vampire clans.
    • Lycanthropy. You turn into a werewolf and get massive boosts to your killing power, and can murder anyone without acquiring a bounty. Unfortunately, you can't use any equipment, cast any spells or pick up any items while you're a beast. And if an NPC sees you transform, then you're marked as "kill on sight" by everyone.
  • Axe Crazy:
    • Almalexia. Holy shit, Almalexia.
    • Mistress Therana too. House Telvanni seems to encourage Axe Craziness.
  • Backstory: Lots. And lots. Of backstory.
  • Badass Army:
    • The Imperial Legion is legitimately tough. Do note, however, the Imperial Legion (collectively) says in-game House Redoran is this for their emphasis on being able to fight and defend Morrowind.
    • Buoyant Armiger: elite stealth fighters, half of them decked in the ludicrously expensive glass armor, operating deep within red mountain and Molag Amur.
    • Nobody's brought up the Ordinators yet? The most well equipped, powerful guards in the game. Did I mention they hate you? They're watching you, scum.
  • Beneficial Disease: The Corpus disease grants the victims immunity to all other diseases and even prevents them from aging. Too bad it also comes with a big serving of Body Horror and a bad case of crazy, and is completely incurable unless you are the Nerevarine.
  • BFS: While most weapons have fairly realistic sizes (making them look tiny compared to other games) the atypically huge Chrysamere ("The Paladins Blade") looks like someone took a good junk of railroad track and attached a handle. It fells most opponents with a single blow.
  • Big Bad: Dagoth Ur in the main game. Almalexia in Tribunal. Hircine in Bloodmoon.
  • Bizarrchitecture:
    • Daedric shrines look really weird.
    • The House Redoran seat in Ald'Ruhn is situated in Under-Skar, the hollowed-out exoskeleton of a humongous sentient crab known as Skar.
    • The wizards of House Telvanni don't care much for actually building structures. Instead, they grow them out of giant mushrooms whose growth is facilitated by the trapped souls of powerful Daedra.
    • The Ministry of Truth, which is literally a hollowed-out giant rock that a Daedric prince threw down from Oblivion onto the city of Vivec, stopped in its tracks several hundred feet over the largest and holiest temple in Vvardenfell.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Tribunal. Helseth's the (dark) grey and Almalexia's the black.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Used to a degree when you taunt a Dremora into attacking you during one quest.

Dremora: After I kill you I'm going to rape your corpse. Don't worry, I'll be gentle.

  • Blood Knight: Hircine.
  • Body Horror: Corprus disease turns most people into mindless zombies and Sixth House descendants into "Sleepers", which evolve through several stages to eventually become Ascended Sleepers. Neither path is pretty.
  • Cain and Abel: Orvas and Vedam Dren.
  • Care Bear Stare: The Charm and Fortify Personality spells can make nearly every NPC in the game smitten with you.
  • Challenging the Chief: Several factions require you to defeat the current leader in order to take their place, including the Fighters' Guild, the Mages' Guild, and Houses Redoran and Telvanni (in the case of the Telvanni, it's more of a Klingon Promotion). There is a peaceful way to become head of of the Mages' Guild, but it is both harder to find out and leaves you *co*-head of the Guild along with an idiot, rather than sole head.
  • The Chessmaster: Azura might be this. If she is, the fact that we are not sure of it is surely testament to her skill.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Oh, Crassius. In Skyrim, it's later learned he was so chivalrous, he made a special first folio edition of his work for a noble family that showed him their hospitality when he least expected it.
  • The Chosen One: The Nerevarine (you) is the chosen one by nature of being the reincarnation of Nerevar. There is strong evidence that the player is not Lord Nerevar reborn, but merely a convenient pawn Azura is using in her revenge plot; even Vivec admits such is possible. When Dagoth Ur asks whether you're the Nerevarine, you have the options, among others, of saying "Yes" or "I don't know". He accepts either and praises you for saying "no, but I'm still going to kick your ass." There is also evidence that in Tamriel, one can become a god by believing they are, and acting like they would. From a forum conversation with the developers: "Mantling and incarnation are separate roads; do not mistake this. The latter is built from the cobbles of drawn-bone destiny. The former: walk like them until they must walk like you.", see also the plot of The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles. In fact, the latter is probably true in this case since everyone and their uncle says "You are not the Nerevarine, but you might become the Nerevarine." showing that our concept of reincarnation does not apply here. On the other hand, Azura saying that you specifically have been chosen does blur the line between whether you're mantling Nerevar or are indeed the reincarnation of him, since it is arguable that in the end, the player character will eventually fight Dagoth Ur if they want to get everything done no matter how long you dither about avoiding the issue.
  • City of Adventure: Mournhold, city of light, city of magic! Vivec applies as well, to a lesser extent.
  • Corrupt Church: The Tribunal Temple despite its dubious origins used to be an undeniable force for good. These days? Not so much. Curiously, in the early days when the Tribunal gods consistently lived and worked among their people, it was much better. Since they retreated into their own seclusion thanks to no longer being able to replenish their divine power with the Heart of Lorkhan and instead having to conserve their power (by the time of the player's arrival, Vivec has been maintaining the entire Ghostfence on his own for centuries) to protect Tamriel from Dagoth Ur. It was only after mortals took over the running of things that everything started to go to hell.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Several members of House Hlaalu in the main game, and Carnius Magius of the East Empire Company in Bloodmoon.
  • The Corruption: The Blight and Corprus Disease.
  • Critical Existence Failure
  • Cultural Posturing: Both High Elves and Dark Elves love this trope. Imperials and Nords can get in on the action too in Bloodmoon.
  • Dead All Along: Sotha Sil in the Tribunal expansion.
  • Dead Character Walking: There is a glitch where if you execute it correctly, the opponent, 99% of the time, will become immortal. That is, they have only one Hit Point left no matter what you do. This is done by going up to the person, then drawing your weapon. Hold down the right trigger, and DO NOT RELEASE IT. Open your menu, without attacking. Unequip your weapon and equip something like a lockpick or a torch. Then close the menu and release the trigger. Your character will attack with the lockpick, and your opponent will be nigh-immortal! Oh, and in case you were wondering..... that other 1% of the time, they will die instantly.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In The Horror of Castle Xyr, which you actually have a chance to perform in the Tribunal expansion:

Anara: Please, serjo, go wherever you want. We got nothing to hide. We're loyal Imperial subjects.
Clavides: As, I hear, are all Telvanni.
(Note from the playwright: this line should be delivered without sarcasm; trust the audience to laugh: it never fails, regardless of the politics of the locals.)

  • Death Mountain: Red Mountain is this cranked Up to Eleven.
  • Death Seeker: Umbra. May double with Blood Knight. To say nothing of how Badass he proves himself to be in a close-up fight.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Counting the expansions, the player ends up killing three or four gods. Demi-gods, really. Also, averted with Hircine, as he tells you, you only fight his avatar because "To face me at my full glory would be less than sporting."
  • Disc One Nuke: Not a "nuke", exactly, but the Tribunal expansion adds Dark Brotherhood assassins, who may show up and try to kill you any time you sleep. If you defeat one (just barely possible for a starting character), you can loot the corpse for a set of the second-best light armor in the game. With only a couple of levels and a good Security skill, it takes only a minute or so of lockpick brute-forcing to open up a Level 80 door in a certain Fighter's Guild building, with a half-full set of glass armor in an unlocked chest on the other side. This armor is excellent for light armor centered characters, but the real Nuke property is its value. The entire set is worth about 25000 gold. It was a design decision to let buyers of the expansion set start the new content immediately, even with a new character despite the expansion being geared towards high-level characters. Also, even though many mods logically fix this to make the assassins come after when you are important enough Helseth has had a chance to hear about you, it's implied he was privy to information that the Emperor sent a certain prisoner to Morrowind for a mysterious purpose, and being paranoid, figured it had something to do with him, so he hired some assassins to take out said prisoner just in case they were sent to do him harm, like look into just how exactly the last king kicked the bucket.
  • Disposable Bandits: One of the first NPCs the player meets outright tells the player such criminals have no rights under Imperial law.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Do not mention the Nerevarine Prophecy to the Ordinators or wear their armor if you value your life. Also, Azura's motivation for putting the Nerevarine Prophecy in motion? The Tribunal insulted her. Centuries ago. Not just being insulted: She said, after Nerevarine defeated the Dwemer, that the heart of Lorkhan and Kagrenac's tools should never be used again. Guess what Vivec, Sotha Sil, Almalexia and Dagoth Ur did....
  • Downer Ending: As Oblivion and tie-in novels reveal, as a result of the players actions, the Tribunal are missing, as a result, the Ministry of Truth lost its power source and fell onto Vivec City, causing Red Mountain to erupt from the vibrations, destroying most of Vvardenfell. Then the Argonians came in and what few Dunmer couldn't flee were slain. Although given that Vivec had achieved CHIM, whether he is actually, permanently dead or not remains up for debate. But on the bright side, the world isn't a Blighted landscape ruled by an insane Physical God riding a Humongous Mecha thanks to the Nerevarine's actions. You may not have saved Morrowind, but you did save the rest of the world.
  • The Dragon: Dagoth Gares to Dagoth Ur.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Solstheim in the Bloodmoon expansion is essentially a cameo for Skyrim two games in the future. It's snowy, full of Nords, werewolves, spriggans and mead, all things that show up in Skyrim prominently.
  • Early Game Hell: Character progression is largely lopsided, with little middle ground between "shmuck" and "god". A fact Caius and the other Blades will very quickly lampshade.
  • The Emperor: A benevolent one is described but not shown.
  • Epic Fail: The mage who tried to create a flight spell (and falls from the sky right in front of you) comes to mind. To elaborate, he made scrolls of "Fortify Acrobatics 10000 points for 3 seconds" or something in that area. Means you can jump tens of thousands meters high, but unless you use another scroll before landing, you are pudding. He carries three scrolls when you find him. You have enough for two jumps and one landing....
  • Everyone Is Bi: When using the Admire option in conversation, your part of the dialogue is never seen, but the NPC's responses are, and more often than not they seem to be a response to a pick-up line or a suggestion.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Camonna Tong to the Thieves Guild. The Dark Brotherhood to the Morag Tong. House Telvanni is regarded as this in comparison to the Mages Guild by most Imperial factions.
  • Eviler Than Thou: The Dark Brotherhood versus the Morag Tong. Both are Murder, Inc., but the Morag Tong is government contracted and has a strict code of ethics, while the Dark Brotherhood is comprised of Ax Crazy criminals who practice a Religion of Evil. Ditto, to a lesser degree, for the Thieves Guild and the Camonna Tong: the former has a strict code of ethics as well and favors clean, stealthy burglary and smooth talking, while the latter is made of xenophobic thugs who just kill and plunder.
  • Evil Plan: Almalexia's plot.
  • Evil Sorcerer: You don't have to be one to join House Telvanni, but Evil Sorcerers thrive there due to its lenient code of conduct.
  • Exclusively Evil: Vampires. Justified in that it is easy to tell when you are becoming one and the condition is very easily cured within the first three days of the transformation. As such, the only people who allow themselves to become night-stalking parasites are people who are already Chaotic Evil (and, of course, player characters).
  • Expospeak Gag: "Council of Mages without Digits within Bowels".
  • Extreme Omnivore: The player can eat things such as leprous meat, diamonds, poisonous muchrooms, raw hearts, human flesh, ashes of burned vampires, skins and scrap metal, with varying effects. If you aren't going to carry it with you, you might as well, since imbibing this makes you better at alchemy on the premise experiencing their alchemical properties will increase your knowledge on their effects.
  • Fallen Hero: Depending on which version of Nerevar's life you believe, Dagoth Ur. Also, Almalexia.
  • Fantastic Honorifics: A slight variation on the gender-neutral "ser" version: The Dunmer use "sera", "muthsera" and "serjo", in increasing order of politeness.
  • Fantastic Racism: Being an Outlander in Morrowind is a bad thing, there are multiple words for it, N'wah and Swit are just two slurs used. You will also occasionally be insulted for your race in a fashion befitting what form of human, lizard, cat, elf you are. Even if you're a Dark Elf, you won't be liked because you're not a native.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Imperials are the Romans, Nords are Vikings, and the Dark Elves bear an extremely strong resemblance to the biblical Israelites/Jews, starting with the Abraham/Moses hybrid Veloth and all the way down to the Nerevarine/Messiah prophecies producing lots of wannabes during an occupation by a powerful foreign empire.
  • Fictional Document: Loads and loads of them that you can simply pick up and read. Some advance the plot, some fill in the Backstory, and some are just entertaining short stories.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The Fighters' Guild, Mages' Guild and Thieves' Guild are Exactly What They Say On The Tin; the three Great Houses each represent a different archetype: Redoran (Fighter), Telvanni (Mage) and Hlaalu (Thief), and even the three vampire clans represent a different archetype: Quarra (Fighter), Aundae (Mage) and Berne (Thief).
    • Causes a degree of Gameplay and Story Segregation, especially for magic-oriented characters: from a gameplay perspective, it makes sense to join the Guild/House/Clan that match your character's skills, but in-story, many of the factions are opposed to each other (House Telvanni and the Mages' Guild have something of a cold war situation going on, even though you can become head of both at the same time).
  • Five-Man Band: During the war between the Chimer and the Dwemer, we had this on the Chimer side:
  • Flat Character: Most of the hundreds of NPCs don't do much but walk back-and-forth (and some not even that) all day and dispense already-known exposition and rumors when spoken to. Fans call them "walking information kiosks".
  • Flat Earth Atheist: The entire Dwarven/Dwemer race.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: There's a sidequest with that, with a white guar.
  • Foreshadowing: "In the waning years of the Third Era of Tamriel, a prisoner born on a certain day to uncertain parents was sent under guard, without explanation, to Morrowind, ignorant of the role he was to play in that nation's history." By the end of the game, you are still ignorant of the role you were to play (i.e. that you've indirectly caused Morrowind's destruction).
  • Fungus Humongous: Tree-sized mushrooms are a common sight in Vvardenfell. Telvanni settlements consist almost exclusively of mushroom houses, and many homes (there and elsewhere) have potted mushrooms as decoration.
  • Game Breaking Bug: The "Sunder/Keening Bug" which if you have an item that adds attributes to you while wielding and rapidly switch it with another item and back to that item, at enough switching speed the attributes are not removed when unwielding it but instead stacked. You could get insane amounts of attributes. That's how speed runs of less than five minutes are possible. The bug was removed in later version though.
  • Game Mod: Thanks to a strong cult Fandom, a simple but extraordinarily flexible level editor, and seven years in which they could be developed, there are tens of thousands of Morrowind mods available on the internet.
  • God-Emperor:
    • Not entirely played straight as they don't legally count themselves as the emperors, but the Dark Elves worship the Tribunal, a trio of living, flesh and blood gods. They exert great influence, but aren't officially the government: there's a separate King of Morrowind, who reports to the Emperor.
    • Tiber Septim, founder of the current empire, is a more literal example. The player even has the chance to meet an avatar of his.
  • A God Am I: Almalexia. Also, all three of the Almsivi in the backstory, plus Dagoth Ur to some extent.
  • God Is Dead: The creator god anyway. There are other gods who are still alive and kicking, some of which die in this game. Akatosh may be, but the entirety of the Elder Scrolls multiverse is also, in theory, nothing more than the dream of a sleeping godhead (which works out to be the player and developers in the end, coupled with oblique references to the inventory, command console and construction set in-universe). In-universe, understanding this fact without losing one's mind and "falling asleep" again is key to attaining the ability to alter reality to suit your whim.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Almalexia does not take the loss of her godhood well.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The only truly evil people in the game are vampires, the Camonna Tong, the Dark Brotherhood and Almalexia. Arguably even the Cammona Tong are not utterly, irredeemably evil; Orvas Dren seems to genuinely care for the fate of his country, even if this sentiment manifests itself mainly in racism and bigotry.
  • Grim Up North: Inverted. If you have the Bloodmoon expansion installed, nearly every single NPC in Vvardenfel will talk about the island of Solstheim with dread and loathing. Once you actually go there and talk with the non-Imperial natives, you find that the place isn't half bad, although it's lacking in the transportation department.
  • Guide Dang It: The Threads of the Webspinner quest requires you to track down 26 items (each boosting one of the games skills). 17 of them are either on NPCs you are assigned to kill/their guards (or in one case, given to you) by the same quest giver, but a few require you to kill random peaceful NPCs that have no indication that they have them or NPCs in shrines that have no quest at all related to them. Really: it's part of being The Elder Scrolls, but this game is the start of where it stops being abstract. There are a couple parts where they in-game directions are vague or abstract, but it's an improvement.
  • Heel Face Turn: You can convince one of Hard-Heart's minions to defect by giving her a certain artifact. However, this minion will try to kill you when you become master of the guild.
  • Hide Your Children
  • Hit Points:
  • I Am Who?: Lord Nerevar reborn, that's who.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: M'aiq the Liar's Colovian Fur Helm. "Practical, yet stylish!"
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Eltonbrand. "Go to hell, Carolina!"
  • Interservice Rivalry: The Ordinators and Buoyant Armigers don't really get along.
  • Jerkass: Most of both House Telvanni and the Tribunal Church.
  • Klingon Promotion: Morrowind is rather tolerant of this. House Telvanni practice this as a rule, but many factions indulge in it. For bonus points, Tamrielic law even allows for it (within sanctioned limits), citing such matters as duels of honorable combat.
  • Knight Templar: The Ordinators. So much.
  • Last of His Kind: There's only one dwarf left. And he's not all there anyway (physically or mentally).
  • Lethal Joke Character: The Mudcrab Merchant. He is identical in appearance to other Mudcrabs, he's hidden on a specific island in the Azura's Coast region and is difficult to find, he speaks with a drunken dialect... and he has more available gold for bartering then any other merchant in the game.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Molag Amur.
  • Level Scaling: Limited to creatures outside of caves.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Averted: wizards gain power at a linear rate like warriors, but the wizard's actual effectiveness depends on how Crazy Prepared he/she is. The warriors have the advantage of not running out of magicka every few minutes, but as long as the wizard remembers to bring enough restore magicka potions and has an appropriate spell for the situation, it won't be a problem.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Boy howdy, the Xbox release. Any time you want to start or continue a game, you have to wait at least three minutes for the overworld to load. And that's not even counting what happens when you run too fast... Of course, the PC version was the same too. Like in the xbox release, if you ran too fast, the game would grind to a halt to load. Unfortunately, your character moves so ridiculously slow (especially if you don't have a bunch of athletics skill!), you'll want to speed it up somehow. Meaning that yes, you will experience this. Averted with modern computers.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: In the dungeons of Tel Fyr, there is a series of chests each with a key and some minor treasure in them. Each key unlocks the next chest in the series. Near the end, you can walk away with a few legendary ancient weapons.
  • Lost Superweapon: Akhulakhan, is being built from Numidium's blueprint.
  • Lost Technology
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Oooh, Crassius Curio is an example, dumpling, but it is soo nice to hear you say it. It is lovely when you list tropes like that, honey. Now give Uncle Curio a kiss. It should be noted that, in our world, much of what Curio does would be sexual harassment punishable by law. Requiring you to strip for him so he will promote you, anyone? Also, how did ESRB not notice? Also note that Uncle Crassius does not discriminate between genders. He has also written a play called The Lusty Argonian Maid. "Polish my spear!" indeed. And between all this, he is one of the few "good" character in his House.
  • Machinima: There are a couple out there, most notably Reynaldo the Assassin.
  • Magic Is Mental
  • Mana: "Magicka" in the Elder Scrolls series.
  • Meaningful Name: As the main quest progresses, several NPCs, mainly Dunmer, become Brainwashed by Dagoth Ur and his boys. The term used for these people? Sleepers.
  • Miles Gloriosus There is literally a character called this in Maar Gan. He doesn't seem to fit the trope though.
  • The Mole:
    • Sjoring Hard-Heart, leader of the Fighters Guild, is actually a Camonna Tong agent, and two of the sub-leaders are his assistants.
    • There's more than just Sjoring. One Mages Guild quest requires you to root out a potential Telvanni spy: it's Tiram Gadar, Archmage Trebonius's personal assistant. A quest for House Hlaalu has you delivering new orders to their spy watching the Redoran: Bivale Teneran, the high-class tailor in Ald'ruhn. And even though one doesn't formally come up in the Thieves Guild questline, you can find a few Thieves Guild members deep undercover at the Camonna Tong HQ, the Dren Plantation.
  • Mooks: The Sixth House cultists.
  • Mordor: Central Vvardenfell Island. First, there's the Ashlands and Molag Amur, which are covered in cursed infertile ash all the time and populated by killer dinosaurs and cliff racers. Even there though, the Ashlanders manage to get by thanks to their sheer badassitude. Then there's the Great Scathes within Molag Amur, which are full of cliff racers and nearly impassable thanks to the jagged terrain and open rivers of lava. But at the center of it all is the Mordor to end all Mordors, Red Mountain. It is covered in treacherous ruins populated by psychopathic mutants, cliff racers and demons. The air is constantly thickened by the Blight, a cloud of red dust that causes horrific diseases and impedes movement. Oh, and it is an active volcano. Naturally, this is where the Big Bad lives. It's such a nasty place that the Dark Elves had to put up a giant magical fence around it (powered by burning the souls of their own dead) to keep all the evil from spilling out and ruining the whole world.
  • Naked People Are Funny: There are several side quests in the game where you can chance upon a Nord wearing no clothing in the wilderness. All of them claim a witch was at fault. Lampshaded in Tribunal, where a naked Nord denies any involvement with a witch and that he was "just hot". The player can strip, with varying reactions by NPCs (Dunmer are "not amused", Imperials will laugh and note how you are a first). The "PC is naked" dialogue doesn't differentiate between genders, however, and appears to have been recorded with males in mind. To wit, walking around naked as a female will eventually elicit the phrase "put that away!" from a disgusted NPC. The player will be fine though, as long as they wear at least one piece of clothing. That means if you wear nothing but a belt, people will treat you just normally (even more hilarious if you just wear a ring and run around naked).
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Dagoth Ur, and generally anyone else from the Sixth House. Specifically ones with "Dagoth" in the name.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Since Anyone Can Die if you kill them, should you decide to slay an NPC that would in the future become important to the main quest, the game will give you a message telling you that you essentially fucked up the strings of destiny and now must either return to a previous savegame or carry out the remainder of your shameful existence in a doomed universe. A nice aversion of But Thou Must! there.
    • The straighter example of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero is played with: you're told that the power of Almsivi is what keeps the Ministry of Truth from crashing into Vivec, and you're also told that destroying the Heart of Lorkhan will drain Almsivi's power as well as Dagoth Ur's. But they never mention the logical conclusion to all of this until the next game... Considering that if you go and see Vivec after destroying the Heart of Lorkhan (well, sending it "elsewhere" really, but six of one, half a dozen the other), he mentions that some of his power does remain and that he will direct it towards the betterment of the people of Morrowind, it's understandable that the player might believe he has, in fact, saved the world. Of course, destroying the Heart of Lorkhan (one of the literal pillars holding up reality) did thin the barriers between Mundus and Oblivion enough to kick-start the Oblivion Crisis in the next game. Vivec mentions that the faith of his people in the Tribunal is enough to keep the Ministry of Truth aloft. Among fans, this was referred to as "love Vehk or die".
  • No Fourth Wall: Although the language used to explain it is overflowing with metaphor, the player's character actually IS informed through the Sermons of Vivec and partially by the actions of Vivec himself that he/she is a video game character being controlled by a person outside the world they are acting in.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • The most obvious examples are Glass (a very strong mineral as opposed to a brittle substance made by melting quartz; it's a bit like obsidian but harder to shatter) and Ebony (another very strong mineral, as opposed to a tropical tree with black wood). That said, glass does look a fair bit glass-y, translucence and all (and ebony is rather dark in colour).
    • The "Ministry of Truth" is where the Temple suppresses dissent of any kind. Its resemblance to the Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four probably isn't a coincidence, though its actual function resembles the Ministry of Love more closely. Orwell's Ministry of Truth was devoted to spreading lies and propaganda, not suppressing dissent.
    • "Ash vampires" are not vampires. In fact, they are not even undead. The name is still true, but in an inverted way. They serve as extensions of Dagoth Ur himself, and their deaths drain him of that additional lifeforce.
  • Nostalgia Filter: For most of the current Elder Scrolls fanbase, this was their first game in the series, and as such, it tends to be held up as the gold standard of the entire franchise. Roughly more than half of the criticisms leveled at Oblivion and Skyrim boil down to "it's not like Morrowind".
  • Obvious Beta: It was later found out the game was rushed to completion, and certain features, like the ability to join the Sixth House, were left on the cutting room floor.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The "l_m_enchantitem_temple_rank8_1" list of random loot possibilities is not used in the base game and contains otherwise unobtainable finished fully functioning items. A merchant whose stock is taken from this list is added in the first expansion pack.
  • Older Is Better: Ancient Dwemer gear is better than most modern armors. Justified throughout the series, as you find out the Dwemer were fanatics about building stuff to last for a VERY long time.
  • Pause Scumming: You can enter the game menu, which pauses the game, at any time. In this menu, you can drink an unlimited number of potions or change armor in the nick of time, even in the middle of combat.
  • Physical God: Loads of them. Special props to the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur, who used to be mortal.
  • Portmanteau: "Almsivi" is one of the names for the Tribunal, which is made up of Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Aryon is introduced as the factions Reasonable Authority Figure and the most open-minded of the Telvanni/least hostile to The Empire, but a little code breaking makes it clear his position is because the stubbornness is allowing the other houses and The Empire to gain power.
  • Propaganda Machine: The Ministry of Truth, naturally. It is notable for being headquartered in a floating rock which is also known as "Lie Rock".
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Dagoth Ur can manipulate and corrupt people in their dreams.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Subverted in that the character creation screen gives no indication that gender will have any effect on your stats... but it actually does.
    • It will also matter in a few quests, where one gender will have no problems finishing it, while the other has to go out of his/her way to get the desired item or answer. See here for a complete list.
      • There is one sidequest that can only be done by males. See the list above.
  • The Rashomon: There are multiple accounts of Lord Nerevar's life and death, as well as why, exactly, Dagoth Ur turned evil. The truth on both counts is deliberately left vague; for example, potential reasons for the latter range from corruption from the tools of Kagrenac to a noble desire to drive the foreign devils from Morrowind.
    • Especially worth noting that while some of these theories are discovered to be true to some extent, even beating the game will still never clear up some loose ends.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Most of the guilds and Great Houses have at least one such leader. In factions where the majority of the leaders are corrupt (such as the Fighters' Guild and House Telvanni), they are that much more important. Subverted by the ultimate leader of any faction that requires or even allows Challenging the Chief; the Chief in question is never reasonable.
  • Recurring Riff: Meta example: the theme of Morrowind uses a melody of a song from Daggerfall. Which is then reused in Skyrim.
  • Running Gag: The various naked Nords scattered around the countryside. One that many fans find annoying: if Bloodmoon is installed, most (if not all) Vvardenfell NPCs will have a dialogue option of "Solstheim". If asked about it, they will all give the same response: "Solstheim? A terrible place, I've heard. There's a boat from Khuul, if you have any reason to go".
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Inverted in the conflict between the native Camonna Tong and the foreign Thieves' Guild: the Camonna Tong is far more ruthless. Played straight with the Dark Brotherhood.
  • Sanity Slippage: The Sleepers start out babbling about Dagoth Ur's return and the rise of the Sixth House. After a certain point in the main quest, they turn hostile and start rioting in the cities.
    • It's pretty much impossible to be a follower of some Daedric princes without this as a requirement, given many expect mortals do acts others would consider mad just to prove their loyalty.
  • Satan: The Tribunal Temple treats Dagoth Ur as this. The truth is a bit more complex.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Pretty much all armor.
  • Scenery Porn: Oh, wow...
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: You can go on a murderous rampage, then just walk away by paying a fine. Then go on another murderous rampage, pay the fine, then take a nap in the streets, pay the fine....
  • Self-Made Man: One of the options to tell Dagoth Ur at the end of the main quest when he asks if you think you are really the Nerevarine, is no you aren't, but you will still kick his ass. Dagoth Ur reacts most positively to this option, complimenting you on your choice. As Vivec would say of gods and heroes of legends: "walk like them until they walk like you." Meaning it doesn't matter whether you really are the Chosen One. If you manage to do what the Chosen One was supposed to do, then you were it. And if you behave like a god convincingly enough, you become that god. Though you have to wait until the expansion set for the next game of the series to try that one.
  • Shining City: Mournhold. Expressly called "city of light" by its denizens. Doubles as Capital City of the province of Morrowind.
  • Shoplift and Die: All I did was pick up a napkin off the floor! I didn't realize it was yours! Wait, no, don't kill me-- *dies* You accidentally bump the mouse or the analog stick while in a shop trying to talk to the shopkeeper and now you're wanted for theft.
  • Shout-Out: Too many to list here. There are shout-outs to Pokémon, Indiana Jones, big name fans, Star Wars and beyond.
    • Special mention goes to the fact that at least one of the developers seems to have really liked Pokémon. Weepingbell Hall, Marowak's Spine, Peke Utchoo, et cetera.
    • North Carolina universities: the sword Eltonbrand (named after Duke University basketball star Elton Brand), and a character named "Tarhiel" (University of North Carolina mascot, "the Tarheels").
    • The very name "Morrowind" could be a reference to The Elf Queen of Shannara, which featured the island of Morrowindl, which also had an active volcano being held in check by magic.
  • The Singularity: The Game Breaker described above, in which you use the boosts from the intelligence-enhancing potions you make in order to create better and better intelligence-enhancing potions until you become intelligent enough to craft items that will make you invulnerable and let you kill anything in the game in one hit, essentially turns the player character into a one-man Singularity.
  • Smug Snake: Orvas Dren.
  • Sole Entertainment Option: There is one strip club in all of Vvardenfall. Other forms of entertainment seem to be nonexistent, aside from the Arena in Vivec.
    • An official mod lets YOU be the entertainment in the Eight Plates, where you can sing, dance, tell jokes, or juggle plates, just to name a few things.
  • Steampunk: Kind of. The Dwarves were a Steampunk society, but they are extinct and all that is Lost Technology now.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Pretty much the entire main quest of Tribunal, particularly the part where you must create ashstorms in Mournhold for Almalexia.
  • The Syndicate: The Camonna Tong.
  • Teleport Interdiction: The Big Bad uses teleport jamming to stop you from teleporting away from his hall.
  • Tentative Light
  • Timmy in a Well: In Bloodmoon, Lassnr will give you a quest to rescue Tymvaul, who fell down a well.
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: "Rabinna's Inner Beauty", with Rabinna carrying Moon Sugar inside of her.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Filthy s'wit!" "Die, fetcher!" "You n'wah!"
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: If you kill certain people, the game warns you to reload or you've doomed the main quest to failure.
    • Worth noting this trope is TECHNICALLY true if you planned to beat the game the way it was intended if you strictly followed the usual method. The developers purposely left an alternative way to beat the main quest if this happens, but it's not as ideal as doing it the "proper" way.
      • Unwinnable by Insanity: However, you can also screw up this "backpath" method if you like, and then you are indeed truly screwed out of beating the main quest.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Dagoth Ur. You too, depending on your interpretation of Azura's intentions. You again in Tribunal, but the king is asking for you to go along with it.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Spells that cure paralysis on self. Sounds like it might come in handy, right? Too bad you can't cast spells when you're paralyzed. However, buying any spell allows you to use it an enchant effect, thus allowing you to create clothing that cures paralysis on equip.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Well, it IS the third game of the main series. Technically, they're all 3D: they just don't use 3D objects until the third generation. They certainly use a 3D perspective.
  • The Virus: Corprus Disease (which will either turn you into an Eldritch Abomination or a zombie depending on your personality), the Blight (which kills plants, drives animals insane, causes health problems in humanoids and can carry corprus), as well as some more mundane illnesses ("Swamp Fever", "Jitters", et cetera).
  • Was Once a Man: The Dagoth/Ash creatures.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dagoth Ur just wants to make Morrowind independent from the Empire. The fact that his method of achieving that independence involves spreading a disease that either drives the victim to homicidal madness or horrifically mutates them throughout the entire world is acceptable in his mind. Although if he had succeeded with his ultimate goal, he would have turned the entirety of the universe/multiverse into nothing more than an extension of his own mind. The collective inhabitants of reality dodged a bullet there.
  • Whispering Ghosts: These can be heard around the ash pits in Tribunal temples and ancestral tombs.
  • With This Herring: Sheogarath's Quest. If you manage to find the shrine of the slightly-mad demigod, he gives you a quest to kill a giant bull-netch (a stingless flying jellyfish the natives use for livestock) with "The Fork Of Horripilation". Okay, you might think to yourself, there are tridents and pitchforks in the game, no big deal. But no, after schlepping all the way to the other side of the island, you find that the Fork is really... a serving fork that does 1-2 damage. So you end up chasing a big, harmless, living zeppelin. With a fork. What else could you expect from the god of madness? CHEESE FOR EVERYONE!!
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Possible interpretation of Dagoth Ur. If you believe that the Tribunal cast him away to do exactly what their friend and King had told them explicitly not to do and convincing him said King had betrayed him in the process.
  • World Domination: Dagoth Ur seeks it.Almalexia seeks merely Nation Domination, at least for the moment.
  • You Are the Translated Foreign Word: You're the Nerevarine!
  • Your Mom: One of the NPC reactions to a failed taunt is, "No, I believe that was your mother."
  • Zip Mode: In the form of large insects, boats and Mage Guild teleporters.