- Races of The Elder Scrolls
The Elder Scrolls series of role-playing video games are populated with a number of fantasy races, ten of which are playable. Generally, these races fall into one of three distinct archetypes, namely, humans, elvenkind, and beastfolk.
Within the lore of the Elder Scrolls universe, men and elves alike were descended from an ancestral race known as the Ehlnofey, and are capable of interbreeding. It is uncertain if beastfolk share the same lineage, as much of the existing lore presents conflicting information.
- 1 Elves (or Mer)
- 2 Human
- 3 Akaviri
- 4 Beast races
- 5 Divine
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Elves (or Mer)
'The Aldmer', translated as the First or Elder Folk, are thought to be the first race to appear on the world of Nirn. The Oblivion game book Before the Ages of Man is the most comprehensive source of their history. It traces their origins first to the mythic continent of Aldmeris, noting the alternate rendering of Old Elhofney for the place. Certain maps are cautious enough to exclude the mythic continent from their mappings of Nirn, while others place it to the south of Tamriel. As is often the case with Elder Scrolls lore, many contradictory accounts concerning Aldmeris exist, with some suggesting it to be entirely mythogical. Beyond Aldmeris, their first known settlements were in southwestern Tamriel, from which they eventually moved on to settle the entire continent. By the beginning of recorded history, they had already branched off into a number of distinct population, among them the present-day Altmer. The term "Aldmer" is sometimes used to describe the entire Elven race, as in the "Aldmeri Dominion", or in common Elven usage, as evidenced by the entry for "Aldmer" in the Elder Scrolls Treasury. Although the Aldmer no longer exist as a distinct race, their culture lives on throughout the Empire, forming the basis of Tamrielic language and religion.
The Altmer, also called High Elves, live in the Summerset Isle. They are taller than the other races and have a golden skin color. They tend to be proud and consider themselves the most civilized race.
Their unique abilities have changed throughout the series. In Morrowind and Oblivion they had a weakness to fire, frost, and shock magic, but boasted the greatest magicka bonus of all the races, while their 'pure' bodies give them greater resistance to diseases. However, in Arena and Daggerfall, the first two games in the series, they had none of those strength and weaknesses but instead boasted an immunity to paralyzing magical effects.
Altmer is the elven name of their race, meaning High Folk, and most likely a derivation of the name of the first race of elves, the Aldmer, meaning First or Elder Folk. They consider themselves the successors of the Aldmer and the highest of all races. Unlike men, who believe themselves to have been created along with the world by the gods, Elves believe themselves to be descended from these gods, calling them the Aedra, "Ancestors". Imperial propaganda (presented in the leaflet 'A Pocket Guide to the Empire' which shipped with the game Redguard) initially portrayed them as arrogant in their superiority and heartless to the point of inhumanity, suggesting that they euthanize nine out of ten children in their quest for racial 'perfection'. In truth the same leaflet makes many other such anti-elven statements in a manner akin to real-world state-sanctioned racism. A new edition of the same fictional 'guide' was shipped with Oblivion which contained a much more favourable view of the Altmer, mentioning deep class and social struggles in which the young were rebelling against the notion of their race's superiority in general and the superiority of the Altmeri nobility in particular with many even abandoning worship of the traditional Altmeri pantheon of gods altogether.
The Ayleids, also known as the Wild Elves or Heartland High Elves, were the first race to establish an empire in Tamriel. They lived in a tribal society, with each "tribe" being different from the next. They were the first inhabitants of the Imperial City and apparently spoke a variation of Old Cyrodiilic. Many Ayleid ruins can be found throughout Cyrodiil. These ruins are filled with dangerous traps, monsters, bandits, and undead. Many would-be treasure hunters have died trying to plunder these lost ruins of the Ayleids.
The Ayleids controlled the entirety of Cyrodiil, thanks to their mastery of magic and their alliances with the Daedric princes, and enslaved the Cyrodiilic and Nordic populations (which at that point were both part of the same prototypical race of men). During this time, the Ayleids made great strides in the arcane arts. The downfall of the Ayleid civilization was largely the result of their own mistreatment of their human slaves whom they provoked into revolution; under the Ayleids, torture, mutilation and mass-killings of slaves were undertaken for sport and actually became mainstays of the Ayleids' culture and aesthetic traditions as revealed ingame in The Adabal-a. With the blessing of the Aedra, a slave named Alessia led a revolt that resulted in the inexorable destruction of the Ayleid civilization. Remaining Ayleids frequently showed up as civil servants to the nobility in the Alessian empire or as vassal-kings of the Alessians; still others fled to Valenwood and interbred with the Bosmer. The last known King of the Ayleids was the ruler of the city of Nenalata who controlled eastern Cyrodiil.
In the expansion to Oblivion, Knights of the Nine, the Ayleids' close relationship with the Daedric Princes is explored in greater detail. It is revealed that they held their human subjects in check with Daedric magic which allowed them to maintain armies of undead and lesser daedra. Their subservience to the Daedric Princes and their immense cruelty towards their human subjects (elaborated upon ingame in the book The Adabal-a) were contributing factors to the Aedra giving their aid to the human races.
White Gold Tower, the central spire of the Imperial City in Cyrodiil, was the central temple of the Ayleids. It now serves as the Imperial Palace for the Tamrielic Empire. The rest of their capital city was either razed or buried beneath the Imperial City.
By the Second Era, the surviving Ayleids who had not been fully assimilated withdrew to the deep forests where they shunned contact with other races (hence the appellation Wild Elves); little is known of modern Wild Elves and their culture but at least one entered the Arcane University and became the major source for what is known about them. Their tribes apparently possessed wildly disparate cultures, but shared a thread of xenophobia, likely remaining from the Alessian Reformation when Ayleidic culture was destroyed.
The Bosmer, also called Wood Elf, inhabit the province of Valenwood. They are among the shortest races, and they are remarkable thieves and archers, due to their superior dexterity and agility, presumably because they spend their time living in trees. They are also religiously carnivorous and cannibalistic as a result of the Green Pact, a central portion of the Bosmer faith. The Green Pact is never explicitly shown, but in its simplest sets these rules down: Bosmer may only consume meat-based products and are forbidden to harm any plant for their own betterment. As a result of these stipulations, Bosmer are dependent on either stone or imported timber for construction purposes.
The Green Pact has also heavily impacted Bosmeri cuisine, combat, and weaponry. They have developed methods of fermenting meat and milk to develop powerful alcoholic beverages and weapons such as bows are often made of treated and shaped bones. Most notable about Bosmeri combat is their stipulation that a combatant must consume an enemy's corpse within a short time after killing them. This has led to changes in approaches to combat, such as fasting and planning family feasts following a battle.
Bosmer are unique among the races of Tamriel in that they possess the ability to transform their shapes. According to legend, the Bosmer witnessed the death of Yffre, the first of the Ehlnofey to die. In his passing, his spiritual energies formed an Earthbone, a natural law, to limit certain aspects of the world. Yffre's Earthbone placed a limit on the ability of a being to change its form and nature, as previously they could change them at will. However, the Bosmer, having witnessed the formation of the Earthbone, learned how to manipulate it to avoid its restrictions. The most notable of their uses of this ability is the Wild Hunt, a ritual known only to the shaman of Valenwood. Reserved to protect Valenwood from invading forces, the ritual permanently transforms all participants into mindless, blood-thirsty monsters, who will then consume all of their enemies and then themselves. The Bosmer have noted that all monsters in the world were born from previous Wild Hunts.
Chimer (changed folk) are an extinct race. They fled from the Aldmeri (elven) home of Summerset after their religious conversion, and settled in the land of the Dwemer, later known as Morrowind. The Chimer were often in conflict with their neighbors, the Dwemer and Nords, due to religious and racial conflicts respectively. Eventually, the Chimer, under the rule of Indoril Nerevar Moon-and-Star, formed a lasting alliance with the Dwemer in order to drive back the Nords. This peace lasted until the Chimer learned of the Dwemeri attempts to create a god, and the Chimer attacked, successfully preventing the awakening of Numidium. But after the Battle of Red Mountain, during which the Dwemer vanished in unexplained circumstances, the Chimer were transformed into Dunmer by the Daedric Goddess Azura as punishment either for when the Tribunal broke their oath to Nerevar and Azura by making themselves gods or for their possible murder of Nerevar.
The Chimeri Exodus was led by the prophet Veloth, who later became a prominent saint in the Tribunal Temple, in the Merethic Era and was done so the Chimer could practice Daedra worship. The Dunmer attribute the inspiration for this exodus to the Daedric Prince Boethiah. They say he ate a prominent figure of the Aldmeri religion, Trinimac, and used his voice to show the Chimer the lies of the Aedra, who the Aldmer worshiped. He spoke of various ways in which they should live and demonstrated how to complete the Exodus. Other Daedric Princes, such as Mephala and Azura, initiated other changes and taught other lessons to the early Chimer, as well.
A possible hint to the appearance of the Chimer can be seen in Morrowind in the persons of Vivec and Almalexia, who were both of the Chimer race before the formation of the Tribunal. They appear to have been similar in height and build to Dunmer, with a coloring similar to Altmer. As the Chimer were actually a splinter faction of the Altmer, this is not surprising.
Dunmer, also called Dark Elves, hail from Morrowind. They are the Elder Scrolls variation of dark elves, a popular fictional race in role-playing games and fantasy literature. Gameplay-wise, they are well-balanced (tending towards a battlemage or spellsword class).The Dunmer are the descendants of the Chimer, who were punished by the Daedric goddess Azura for the betrayal of their General, Indoril Nerevar. Azura's punishment was to turn the color of all the Chimer race's skin to ash-gray and their eyes to ruby red.
Native-born Dunmer tend to look down on "outlanders", which are other races or Dunmer born outside of Morrowind, though the intensity of this xenophobia varies from place to place. The land from which the Dunmer hail is to the far east of the Empire and is commonly known as Morrowind (which contains the island of Vvardenfell). Slavery is practiced in Morrowind, and slaves are mostly either of Khajiit or Argonian descent, although some men and elves are also enslaved there, a practice that had been more common in the past. (Because of the past enslavement, some Khajiit and Argonians have a bone-deep hatred for the Dunmer.) The Empire of Tamriel has a ban on slavery but, as part of the terms of Morrowind's entrance into the Empire, Dunmer were allowed to keep their own sacred and traditional laws. However, in the sequel to Morrowind, Oblivion, it is revealed that slavery has been abolished and the slaves freed by the king of Morrowind Province, Hlaalu Helseth, with House Dres and House Hlaalu supporting the move. (Released or past escaped Khajiit slaves are attempting to mass in a Dunmer resistance in Elsweyr.) This can be discovered through dialogue with recurring characters from Morrowind.
Though some Dunmer, especially of House Hlaalu, have become assimilated into Imperial and foreign culture, almost all retain many of their traditions and values, and some Dunmer even prefer living a tribal life as Ashlanders - in small, tight-knit tribes in the deserts and scorched plains of the Ashlands and on the plains of the Grazelands. In the Ashlands, native tribes rule without laws or care for government, and live strictly by honour codes, rituals and ancient traditions usually dictated by a wise woman or seer. Historically, half of the ancient Dunmer chose this lifestyle, with the others creating or joining the Great Houses and establishing such cities as Balmora or Vivec. The land is so harsh and dangerously infested with creatures such as Alits and cliff racers that westerners and Imperial garrisonmen dare not venture out of the safety of Dunmer settled areas. Dunmer do not ride horses, or own them for that purpose - rather, horses in Morrowind are raised for the slaughter, to be eaten as food. This fact mentioned, with some hesitation, by Morrowind's level designer Gary Noonan, during a development chat as a cautionary note against the possible inclusion of rideable horses in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. A chat in which Morrowind's lead character designer also assured expectant consumers that, in Morrowind, there would be "no horse eating allowed". Horses were definitively excluded from the game by Todd Howard in February 2001. Ken Rolston offered the Dunmer diet as a rationale for why the game ended up without them.
The Dunmer themselves, previously known as the Chimer, or 'changed folk' due to their worship of the Daedra, rather than the Aedra (Gods) worshipped by the other Aldmer in Summerset, traditionally gained their dark skin as a result of the Battle of Red Mountain. It was in this battle that the Dwemer vanished. The Dwemer are a major part of Dunmeri history. During the battle, all Dwemer mysteriously disappeared, presumably by their own technology. Though the change in the elves' skin tone was traditionally interpreted as the will of Azura, alternative theories certainly exist. The Dwemer's complex technology could have been the cause instead, as it functioned on a technological level incomprehensible to the "old-world" style, horses-and-swords environment present in the Elder Scrolls world. The official Imperial line of thought, however, is that the Dunmer simply exterminated the Dwemer and that their bluish-grey skin is the result of adaptation to their harsh, rather volcanic environment.
Dwemer, meaning "Deep Elves", are a lost race that lived primarily in the region of Vvardenfell and in Hammerfell. They are often referred to as "Dwarves" in western cultures, although they were no shorter than a human and the name seems to have been derived from a supposed encounter with giants who saw the Dwemer as short. They were a reclusive, independent race, dedicated to the principles of science, alchemy, and engineering. They did not die out; instead, the entire race vanished into thin air all at the same time around the world. Yagrum Bagarn is the only known remaining living Dwemer on Nirn. Yagrum Bagarn resides in the Corprusarium deep beneath the island of Vvardenfell, in the Tamriellic province of Morrowind. He has been infected by corprus, granting him eternal life, but constant pain. He is searching for clues to the whereabouts of his race when one finds him in TESIII: Morrowind. In the Tribunal expansion pack of Morrowind, there is also a quest that leads you meet a Dwemer ghost whose name is Radac and can be found in Radac's Forge. This Dwemer is largely not thought of due to the fact that he does not give any clues about the Dwemer race and is not alive.
Records of Dwemer activity date back to before the First Era, most notably in the Vvardenfell region (Vvardenfell, in Dwemeris, means "City of the Strong Shield"), which has the highest concentration of Dwemer ruins of any land in Tamriel. Feuding between Chimer and Dwemer continued until the First Council, when the Dwemer and Chimer unite to expel the Nords from Morrowind. One clan of Dwemer, the Rourken, refused to make peace with the Chimer, and their patriarch threw his ceremonial warhammer, Volendrung, across Tamriel, proclaiming that his clan would settle where it landed. Over time, they settled in modern-day Hammerfell (explaining that region's name), home of the Redguards.
Eventually, however, tensions developed between the Chimer and Dwemer once again. A great war erupted between them, eventually leading to the mysterious disappearance of the Dwemer during The Battle of Red Mountain. The difficulty was prompted by the discovery of a mythological artifact known as the Heart of Lorkhan by the Dwemer, deep in the mountains' bowels. The Chief Tonal Architect Kagrenac, their de facto religious leader, devised a set of tools (Sunder, Keening, and Wraithguard) to manipulate the Heart to instill divinity to his people, but the spell failed and caused all known Dwemer to vanish (Varying accounts state that their connection to the heart was severed, although this seems unlikely. Other accounts suggest that Kagrenac used his Tools to release the Dwemer from the Mortal Plane, but this is even more implausible). Since 1E 668, no word has been heard of the Dwemer, with the notable exception of Yagrum Bagarn, who resides in the Corprusarium of Tel Fyr. Apparently, he was absent from the Mortal Plane at the time of the disappearance, visiting an Outer Realm, an alternate dimension. His 3000 years of exploration and 500 years of investigation have yielded no leads on the presence of his people on Mundus or any other plane of existence currently known.
There are many mysteries among the Dwemer creations left behind. Mages Guild investigators have discovered that if one of the centurion spiders is taken away from Vvardenfell, it gradually becomes more sluggish, eventually going into a state of torpor. Even more curious is that upon return, the spider re-activates back to normal aggressive levels, as if sensing the presence of the Dwemer ruins. Strangely, the Dwemer robots reactivate in the lands of the Redguard also.
Dwemer artifacts are highly prized throughout the Empire, although since they are technically the property of the Emperor under the charter of the Imperial Society of Architecture and Design as well as the Imperial Historical Society, the sale of them is illegal. This does not seem to stop artifacts from falling off the backs of wagons or otherwise disappearing into various collections. Dwemer weapons and armour are especially valued, renowned for their excellent craftsmanship and sturdy design. However, acquisition of these artifacts is extremely dangerous, because of the remote location of the ruins, and the multitude of aged and no-longer reliable Dwemeri machinery within, including the Steam Centurion and other automata, as well as sophisticated traps of which the Dwemer were particularly fond.
It is thought that the Falmer ("Snow Elves") were the original elven inhabitants of Skyrim, the northernmost province of the continent of Tamriel, and were defeated and displaced by the Nords. The Pocket Guide to the Empire in the chapter on Skyrim mentions the Snow Elves as a local superstition, with Nord villagers blaming them for a number of random misfortunes and scant physical evidence of their existence. In Bloodmoon the player may choose to pursue a quest to find out more about the Falmer.
There are two mutually exclusive hypotheses about the fate of the Falmer. The Skaal claim that the Rieklings are descended from the Falmer. On the other hand, an Altmer scholar in Raven Rock claims that the Rieklings are merely snow goblins, and that the Snow Elves have blended with the other elven races through interbreeding. The in game book Fall of the Snow Prince seems to support the latter hypothesis. It chronicles the defeat of the Snow Prince, an elven leader, at the Battle of Moesring.
Only briefly mentioned in a few in-game books, the Left-Handed Elves supposedly lived in the Redguard homeland of Yokuda. It is implied they were entirely destroyed by the Redguards in a war between the two. They are thought to have created the Orichalc tower of Yokuda.
The Maormer or Sea Elves reside on the island of Pyandonea south of the continent of Tamriel. They have pale, almost chameleon like skin and yellow eyes. They originally lived in Summerset Isles, but they were exiled by the High Elves. Their leader is an immortal wizard named Orgnum Thras. The Maormer practice a snake-like magic which they use to tame sea-serpents.
Although beast-like in appearance, the Orsimer (Pariah Folk or simply Orcs) are descended from a group of Altmer (or even Aldmer) that worshipped a god named Trinimac. Trinimac is the strongest of Altmeri ancestor spirits, and is described in-game as having led his Orsimer people to war against the dissident Chimer, who coveted the machines and industry of the heathen Dwemer. The Daedric Prince Boethiah, however, decides to eat Trinimac, ending his war plans, corrupting his essence and remaking him as the Daedric Prince Malacath. Incidentally, his people lost their Elven features, and became the beastly Orcs. Orsimer were the former inhabitants of the province of Hammerfell, but lost their land to the armies of Redguards. The Orcish capital city is located near High Rock, and is called Orsinium. According to in-game Morrowind descriptions, the Orcs are "sophisticated barbarian beast peoples", "noted for their unshakeable courage in war and their unflinching endurance of hardships". "In the past, Orcs have been widely feared and hated by the other nations and races of Tamriel, but they have slowly won acceptance in the Empire, in particular for their distinguished service in the Emperor's Legions. Orcish armorers are prized for their craftsmanship, and Orc warriors in heavy armor are among the finest front-line troops on the battlefield. Most Imperial citizens regard Orc society as rough and cruel, but there is much to admire in their fierce tribal loyalties and generous equality of rank and respect among the sexes."
Human in The Elder Scrolls is a generic term and does not necessarily indicate a shared ancestry among those races it is applied to. The Imperials and Nords are of Nedic ancestry and the Nedes in turn trace their lineage back to the continent of Atmora, the Bretons are of mixed Nedic and Elvish heritage, and the Redguards originated on the continent of Yokuda. Humans, for the most part, descend from the "Wandering Ehlnofey", the half of the mythic race that accepted Nirn and wished to live on it.
The Bretons are half-elves, with more human than elvish blood, and populate the province of High Rock, where the second game of the series, Daggerfall, takes place. They are capable mages with high magic resistance but other than that they have few distinctive features. They are considered an intelligent human race in Tamriel, known for a proficiency in abstract thinking, a possible reason for their adeptness in the magical arts.
Bretons originated in the First Era. A series of raids on Nedic holdings by the Aldmer, resulted in the destruction of all human settlements in Skyrim. Many Nedes were enslaved some of whom were used as pleasure slaves and gave birth to mixed offspring. These offspring were termed Manmer by Nords. While the Aldmer maintained control of Tamriel, the Manmer lived as lower-class citizens, supporting their meric brethren. After the Aldmer lost their foothold, the remaining Manmer interbred with the controlling human races. The Bretons of modern-day Tamriel have a much-diluted meric ancestry, seen in their higher magical affinity and paler skin and taller stature.
Natives of the civilized, cosmopolitan province of Cyrodiil, the Imperials are well-educated and well-spoken. Though less physically imposing than the other races, the Imperials are shrewd diplomats and traders. These traits, along with their remarkable skill and training as light infantry, have enabled them to subdue all the other provinces of Tamriel and unite them under the banner of their prosperous empire.
Imperials were not a playable race in Daggerfall, and "the Imperial Province" (that is, Cyrodiil), was declared to have "no indigenous race". The Imperial race is playable in Morrowind as well as Oblivion and Skyrim.
The Imperial race is further divided into two sub-races: the Colovians; independent rural folk in the west of Cyrodiil, and the cosmopolitan Nibenese occupying the rest of Cyrodiil. The Colovians historically are not as reverent to the established Cyrodiilic religion as the Nibenese.
Imperials were originally brought to Cyrodiil as slaves to the Heartland High Elves, or Ayleids. The Imperials have been in control of Cyrodiil, along with the rest of the Empire, since the fall of the Ayleids. Imperials have had many wins and losses in the wars of the past, some through struggle, others through annihilation of the opponents' armies. First and foremost, though, Imperials are diplomats and have shown themselves to be capable of gaining territory through negotiation as much as through war, as evidenced by their extension of Imperial authority into the Dunmer kingdom of Morrowind.
The now extinct Nedes originally lived on the frozen continent of Atmora, where they banded into small clans who fought in a great civil war. A small group of Nedes then migrated and settled in northern Tamriel.
The Nedic hero Ysgramor, leader of a great colonizing fleet to Tamriel, developed a runic transcription of Nordic speech based on Aldmeri principles, and was the first recorded human historian. Ysgramor's fleet landed at Hsaarik Head at the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape. They built the legendary city of Saarthal and lived with the Aldmer in relative peace until the Aldmeri began to notice the comparatively fast growth of the Nedic people's population.
The Elves drove the Men away during the Night of Tears, but Ysgramor soon returned with his Five Hundred Companions. These Five Hundred Companions settled and those who stayed in Skyrim became the Nords, with those going west breeding with the Aldmer and becoming the Bretons and those going south becoming the Imperials.
The remaining Nedes raided Elvish settlements along the coast from Skyrim and Atmora until 1E68. The last two ships from Atmora pulled into a harbor with more than half their crews dead. Atmora had become a frozen wasteland, and almost all that lived there had died.
The Nords inhabit the northern province of Skyrim, which will be the setting for the upcoming The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. They are strong and able warriors who are also highly resistant to frost. They are generally fair haired, pale, and blue eyed. Their origins can be traced all the way to the continent of Atmora. Little is known of the geography and history of Atmora, as at the time of the migration from there, humanity did not possess a written language. What little is runic writing, as well as old Elvish records which are not open to Imperial scholars, but which are known to refer to the continent as 'Aldmora', meaning "Elder Wood". It is likely Atmora is a human corruption of this word. In a historical sense, the humans who live there are called "Nedes", as are those humans living in Tamriel before King Harald, thirteenth of the Ysgramor line, seceded from Atmoran rulership, after which they are historically annotated as Cyro-Nordics, to illustrate that the Cyrodiil people had not yet gone separate from the original trunk of human population.
When designing the Nordic people and culture, Bethesda Softworks took inspiration from a combination of real-world historical sources, including most prominently the Scandinavian kingdoms, northern (especially Baltic) Russia, and northern Scotland as seen with the Nord ability of woad, a substance used by Scandinavian and Celtic peoples.
- For the 1997 game of the same name, please see The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
The Redguards hail from the province of Hammerfell in western Tamriel. They are noted for their great strength, agility, and physical hardiness, and are very adept at surviving in hot, dry conditions. They possess dark skin, ranging from light brown to nearly black in hue, often with a distinct reddish tint.
Redguards (in their own language 'Yokudans', taken simply from the name of their homeland) hail from the western continent of Yokuda, which sank into the sea in ancient times. This was probably the result of a tectonic shift in the form of an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, however, the Redguards seem under the impression that it was in some way their fault. Upon the sinking of their homeland, which apparently was predictable to some degree, the Yokudan fleet set sail to the east, where they shored at the continent of Tamriel, in the province of Hammerfell.
At the time, Hammerfell was populated largely with Orsimer (Orcs) who were known for their toughness and ferocity in battle. The Yokudans, knowing they must settle to survive as a people, launched a Ra'gada a "warrior wave", at the shores of Hammerfell, conscripting every man and boy capable of wielding a sword into the strong and capable Yokudan military. They attacked the Orc towns and cities in lightning raids, took no prisoners and after only a few brutal months, had established a strong presence along the western shores of Hammerfell. From this foothold they continued to launch assault after assault, eventually succeeding in nearly exterminating the Orcs, and making way for the High King and the Yokudan royalty, known as Na-Totambu, to arrive with safety in Hammerfell, without fear of assassination. It is from this Ra'gada that the Redguards take their name. By defeating the superhumanly strong and hardy Orcs, they solidified their place in history as the greatest warriors in the known world.
A race of men mentioned in only a few in-game books hailing from Black Marsh. They were said to look like men only with metallic skin and were quite common in Black Marsh during the second era. They were eventually wiped out by a plague before the start of the third era.
Their origin is unknown. Some say they are the result of Nedes and Argonians interbreeding, others say that they were simply Nedic settlers that adapted to life in Black Marsh.
Akaviri refers broadly to races from the continent of Akavir which means "Dragon Land". Often it is used to refer to the Tsaeci in particular as they have had the most influence on Tamriel. They have Asian influences. The Ka Po' Tun are most likely based after the Chinese culture given their strong affiliations with Dragons and that they are implied to be "descendants of the dragon". The Tsaesci is obviously based on the Japanese culture given that they were the ones that brought many Japanese themed weapons such as the katana and wakizashi into Tamriel and that members of the race have Japanese-inspired names; also notable is that the Tsaesci killing off the original, human inhabitants of their land could be compared to the Japanese we know today assimilating and oppressing the Ainu, or indigenous Japanese. The Tang Mo could be based civilization of Vietnam: the Vietnamese of Vietnam who successfully drove out every invader to their lands, or, going by the Chinese-influenced name, as well as the fact they live on islands, they could be the islanders of the South China Sea, such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. They could also be simply a representation of the countless other Chinese ethnic groups besides the Han (Ka Po' Tun), and this would also make sense, due to always repelling barbarians from the frozen north. The Tang Mo are also perhaps a nod to the Monkey King, a character from the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. Nothing much has been revealed about the Kamal, but due to vague descriptions of the people as war mongers, and their homeland being an icy wasteland, they could be based on the Mongols.
Ka Po' Tun
The Ka Po'Tun are a race of tiger people that live on Akavir. Their name means "Tiger-Dragon's Empire". When the Tsaesci supposedly tried to eat all the dragons in their Empire, the dragons fled to Po' Tun, as the empire of tiger people was called then. A great war raged across the land, leaving all the black dragons and all but a few red dragons dead. The remaining red dragons retreated to Tamriel, where they were supposedly given refuge in Cyrodiil. Ever since, the tiger people that remained have tried to somehow become dragons. Tosh Raka is the first one to succeed. Apparently he is the largest Dragon on Nirn, with orange and black coloring, and has built Ka Po' Tun into the largest empire of Akavir. He desires the destruction of Tsaesci, after which he intends to invade Tamriel. The first born-son of an Emperor is known as a Half-Breed, this is a title and rank.
Kamal, meaning "Snow Hell", is one of four nations of Akavir. It is home to armies of snow demons. Every summer these demons thaw out and attempt to invade the neighboring nation of Tang Mo, home to many breeds of monkey-people, but every year they are repelled.
The Tsaesci, which means Snake Palace, are a race of vampiric serpents. The serpent-folk apparently ate the men that had lived on Akavir, although this could mean that they assimilated with them as a culture. Their appearance has been described differently on many occasions, the only consistency being that they are "tall, beautiful (if frightening), [and] covered in golden scales." They have been described as having human upper bodies and snake lower bodies, to being entirely snake-like. 2920, Morning Star, an in-game book in Morrowind and Oblivion describes (and in it they are called Akaviri) Prince Juliek, son of Emperor Reman III and heir to the throne of the Cyrodillic Empire, in an arena match with a Tsaesci. It is said the creature had two tails and amazing grace, it also mentions that these creatures had never used shields and when faced with one it was confused, 'if you don't want to get hit then get out of the way,' is their motto. Prince Juliek won by eventually overcoming the nimble beast. The appearance may however be inaccurate, and made up by storytellers to make the Tsaesci more monster-like. They are actually closely related to men, and are loosely classified as humans. This could either be due to shared origins or interbreeding with Akaviri humans or maybe they are indeed half human half serpent.
The Tsaesci once invaded Tamriel in 1E 2703, but were driven back by the forces of Emperor Reman I. Surviving Tsaesci in Cyrodiil served as mercenaries and personal guards of nobles. They left many influences on the Imperials, including the Dai-katana and Dragonscale armor, as well as the uniform of the Blades and the Red Dragon symbol of the Empire. Several Tsaesci even served as Potentate, acting in place of the Emperor when the Reman dynasty ended. The first Potentate, Versidue-Shaie, ushered the Tamrielic Empire into the Second Era, an era of chaos and upheaval. He, and his heir, ruled Tamriel for four hundred years, until the Akaviri Potentate was assassinated by the Morag Tong in 2E 430.
Tang Mo, meaning "Thousand Monkey Isles", is one of four nations of Akavir, a continent far east of Tamriel. Tang Mo is home to many breeds of monkey-folk who are described as kind, brave, simple, and often crazy. At some point or another every other Akaviri nation has made an attempt at enslaving the people of Tang Mo, and every summer the snow demons of the neighboring nation of Kamal thaw out and attempt to invade Tang Mo, but the brave monkey-people have always successfully repelled their enemies. The monkey-people have strong hatred toward the snow demons of Kamal and the serpent-folk of Tsaesci, but after a history of strife have come to ally with the tiger-folk of Ka Po' Tun.
Killed off by the Tsaesci, they were said to be very intelligent and capable of communication with Nedic visitors to Akavir. The dragons of Vvardenfell were supposedly wiped out by the cliff racers that were brought south from Akavir during their invasion of Tamriel and found a natural home in the wastes of the island. However, dragons are present in Skyrim.
The Argonians are a reptilian race that is native to Black Marsh. They can breathe underwater, are immune to all poisons and are highly resistant to disease. For years they were forced to defend their borders and as a result they are experts in guerrilla-wars. They resemble lizards; they have scaly features, a tail, and are very stealthy and agile, though not as agile as the Khajiit. They also have an extraordinary natural talent for picking locks. The Argonians also have their own royal assassins known as Shadowscales. Shadowscales are Argonians, born under the sign of The Shadow in Black Marsh. They are taken by the Dark Brotherhood as hatchlings and trained in the art of stealth and combat. Shadowscales serve their country as assassins until they are adopted as members of the Dark Brotherhood. Whilst their beginning primary skills in various Elder Scrolls games suggest otherwise, many Argonians are shown to have a large interest in magical arts.
Argonians have a rather brutal history. Between the abductions of Hist sap and their wars with neighboring countries, a great many were taken as slaves by the Dunmer and as a result, some Argonians, especially those born and raised in Black Marsh, have a history of violence and hatred towards Dark Elves.
The Hist were originally the trees of Argonia, though the term has mistakenly been used for the Argonians. During the great war between the Ehlnofey, the Hist were bystanders, but most of their realm was destroyed as the war passed over it. A small corner of it survived to become the Black Marsh province in Tamriel, but most of their realm was sunk beneath the sea. According to the Monomyth, the Hist acknowledge Sithis in his role as the original creator. The Hist have been tossed around quite frequently on The Elder Scrolls Official Forums, all due to one dangerously mislaid sentence. In the PGE, Argonians are said to never have left their homeland "except for a relatively intelligent strain called the hist. [sic]" This statement, implying that the Argonians are a type of Hist, left quite a bit of fallout, but was resolved by a clear statement by Mark Nelson that the whole thing resulted from ignorance on the part of the editors of the Guide.
Hist are, in fact, great sentient trees worshipping the eternal, immutable, god of chaos, Sithis. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find many canonical statements about the Hist in game lore. The Annotated Anuad gives us some information, telling us that the Hist are one of two races to survive the "twelve worlds of Creation," along with the Ehlnofey, and that the Hist had a great homeland sunk beneath the sea by the wars of the Ehlnofey. It is never certain how much credence one should give to a creation myth. Any statements regarding the Hist's survival of the twelve worlds of a Creation should be treated with due suspicion.
Argonians are known to have deep connections with the Hist, calling themselves "people of the root," and licking the leaking sap of their trunks in religious rites.
In Oblivion, if the player chooses to embark on the Fighters' Guild faction quest, they will eventually come to a mission in which they must discover the source of the Blackwood Company's power. The player discovers that the Blackwood Company is using the sap of a Hist tree. They succeeded in smuggling a whole Hist tree from Black Marsh in order to have a constant supply of the illegal sap.
The Great Apes, or Imga reside in the Imperial province of Valenwood and idealize the High Elves of Summerset Isle, with some going so far as to shave themselves and powder their skin so as to better emulate their appearance.
To date, no Imga have appeared in an Elder Scrolls game, and the only Morrowind reference to the Imga appears in the 'Pocket Guide to the Empire' which describes the provinces of the Cyrodilic Empire as of the year 864 of the Second Era. However, their existence has since recently been re-established with the addition of an ingame book in Oblivion, detailing the travels of an adventurer trying to return his stash of booze kidnapped by a group of Imga.
The Khajiit are a feline race hailing from the province of Elsweyr. Khajiit vary considerably in appearance, ranging from almost Elven Ohmes-raht to larger species such as the Senche (large tigers used as mounts) and the Cathay-Raht (warrior "jaguar men"). Khajiit are generally excellent thieves and good fighters, and fierce individualists with generally no sense of 'private property.' Most of the Khajiit vary from orange to dusky red, though they can be other colors like black, white and tan. Elsweyr formally is some form of republic ruled by turns citizens and deserted clans but really controlled by hardly covered dictatorship of "Mane". Khajiit speak Ta'agra.
Khajiit are chiefly one of the underclasses in the country of Morrowind (along with Argonians), usually working as slaves or living on the street as beggars. They have a large presence in the Thieves' Guild, partly for this reason. In addition, escaped or freed Khajiit slaves from Morrowind who make it back to Elsweyr are attempting to form a sort of Elsweyri Anti-Dunmer Alliance.
Highway-men gangs in the province of Cyrodiil seem to be exclusively Khajiit which at first might have been thought of as Thieves' Guild affiliation, but is disproved because of the nonviolent manner in which The Thieves' Guild conducts its work.
The Sload are a race of sluglike beastmen that live in the Coral Kingdoms of Thras, southwest of Tamriel. They have generally followed an isolationist policy, with only limited contact and trade with Tamriel, therefore their history is not well known. The most important event known is when they released the Thrassian Plague upon Tamriel in 1E2200, killing more than half of the population. In response, Tamriel assembled the All Flags Navy that ravaged Thras, killing all the Sload it could find and finally sinking it with unknown magics. The Sload, however, survived, and Thras has since risen again.
The various peoples of Tamriel worship a variety of deities and otherworldly powers. The principal among these are the Aedra and Daedra. The Aedra, including the "Nine Divines" worshipped in Cyrodiil, are generally gods of positive aura, and are beings of creation. They are largely inaccessible to the people of Tamriel, although their altars and shrines give the faithful temporary blessings or healing. The Aedra inhabit the realm of Aetherius, located beyond Oblivion. Aedra literally translates to "Ancestors" meaning that the elves believe themselves to be descendants of the gods, unlike other races who believe they were created by them. There have been sources, mainly Mankar Camoran, who have stated that the gods are actually daedra, however. Which one is true is currently unknown.
The Daedra are beings of change, with some Daedra being less than good and others being outright evil. Unlike the Aedra, an individual has the opportunity to receive missions and rewards directly from the Daedra by making offerings either at Daedric statues scattered around Tamriel or on certain days or conditions. The Daedra inhabit the vast realms of Oblivion, the space surrounding the mortal plane. The Daedric Princes generally rule over their own plane of Oblivion. In Elder Scrolls IV, the player can visit up to four such planes, including the planes of Mehrunes Dagon (prince of destruction), Sheogorath (prince of madness), Peryite (the "Taskmaster") and Boethiah (prince of deceit and treason). Upon visiting Sheogorath and his realm and choosing to complete the expansion pack (The Elder Scrolls IV Shivering Isles) the player will be able to become the Daedric prince of madness and gain their own realm. Like Aedra meaning "Ancestors", Daedra in contrast translates to "Not our Ancestors" and thus daedra worship is shunned by most.
ReferencesA. ^ A running joke within the series is that Marobar Sul's Ancient Tales of the Dwemer are almost entirely not about the Dwemer. Each book in the series is provided with an appendix denying Dwemeri heritage to the tale it comes paired with. The appendix for this particular tale runs as follows: "'The Seed' is one of Marobar Sul's tales whose origins are well known. This tale originated from the Argonian slaves of southern Morrowind. "Marobar Sul" merely replaced the Dunmer with Dwemer and claimed he found it in a Dwemer ruin. Furthermore, he later claimed that the Argonian version of the tale was merely a retelling of his 'original!'" An essay by the Morrowind character Hasphat Antabolis, who, incidentally, provides the player with a Dwemer related quest in Morrowind, is included in Oblivion, attempting to construct a possible reason for the public's great love for them. Antabolis concludes that "Marobar Sul's Dwemer are so much more comfortable, so much friendlier, so much more familiar, than the real Dwemer, whose truly mysterious nature we are only beginning to understand." Antabolis is forgiving of Sul's faults. "I have some sympathy for that preference. As the following essays will show, the Dwemer were, to our modern eyes, a remarkably unlikeable people in many ways."
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